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Sunday, August 09, 2009

My favourite blogposts and nominations

As part of the Lib Dem Blog of the Year Awards 2009 Liberal Democrat Voice have set us all a meme to list our favourite posts since 1 September 2008 so as to assist others in nominating for the category of best posting on a Lib Dem blog.

I do not believe that I have anything on this blog of sufficient quality to compete in this category and cannot come anywhere near reaching the level of last year's winner from Alix Mortimer but nevertheless I have trawled my blog and found a few that may be worth reading through again:

First up from September 2008 is this post in response to a BBC journalist who blogged in Welsh about the Liberal Democrats in which he repeated almost verbatim every myth and smear directed at my party by our opponents as if they were fact. I was irked to say the least:

If there is a consensus in Wales it is not a liberal one. It is a paternalistic, state-knows-best, politically-correct blanket, smothering individuality and innovation. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have tolerated and co-operated with this view for too long and in doing so we have allowed our values to slip. It is for this reason that Vaughan Roderick is fundamentally wrong. By embracing our liberalism we can underline our distinctiveness and break that consensus once and for all.

In the same month I was tempted into responding to an anonymous comment to outline precisely what it is that a Regional Assembly Member does:

Of course none of this will satisfy those who want rid of me for their own reasons or just believe that the Assembly is a waste of money and should be abolished. Being a full time politician is not like any other job that I have done. It is challenging and it is hard work. I am often tired but that is something I have learnt to live with, because whenever I feel that I cannot go on something comes along to make it all worthwhile and that is normally news that a constituent I have been helping has won their appeal, got the house they have been trying for or just had their problem sorted out thanks to my intervention.

At the end of the day helping people is what I am there to do and nothing beats the feeling when it all works out for the best.

In November 2008 we had just started the contest for leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and I set out my stall as a supporter of Kirsty Williams:

The one advantage Kirsty does have is her ability to unite the group behind her. By instinct she is a conciliator and has always been at the centre of efforts to resolve disagreements within the group. In fact the present leader relies on her to do this job as he is not comfortable with it himself.

In December 2008 I courted controversy by inviting the poet Patrick Jones to read his poetry at the Welsh Assembly after the launch of his new book was cancelled by Waterstones due to protests by Christian fundamentalists. This blog entry recorded what happened. For some reason the excellent Western Mail video has been deleted by YouTube:

Today was a good day for democracy in Wales. Patrick Jones came to the Welsh Assembly to read from his controversial book of poems, ‘Darkness Is Where The Stars Are’, whilst 250 Christians sang and prayed outside.

In January 2009 there was a more partisan blog asking 'what Plaid Cymru are for' as well as a more routine post dealing with some of the day to day work that I undertake as an Assembly Member.

I have written numerous posts on the proposed referendum to give the Assembly full law-making powers in the fields of responsibility defined by Part Four of the Government of Wales Act 2006. This one however, in March 2009 is the closest I have come to being able to define what is at stake in that referendum and why claims that we are asking for full law-making powers is just playing into the hands of the 'No' campaign:

We will not be going so far as to create a Scottish Parliament-type of institution nor will we be even going as far as the Richard Commission envisaged, what we will be doing is voting 'yes' to an effective law-making government that is accountable solely to the electorate for delivering its democratically mandated manifesto.

Oh, yes and from the same month a comment on the sort of cultural imperialism we have to put up with in Wales whenever a London-based journalists are forced to cross the Severn Bridge:

It must be really difficult working for the Guardian, especially when the editor insists that his reporters abandon their safe desks in the heart of the English metropolis and rough it in the provinces. If he did it more often then the paper's arts correspondents might discover that Britain has a rich and diverse linguistic and cultural tradition, not all of which is delivered through the medium of the English language.

In April the Welsh Liberal Democrats exposed the hypocrisy of Labour and Plaid Cymru Assembly Members in speaking on behalf of students and lecturers against cuts in further education when they in fact voted for the measures. I blogged on it here and our very effective video can be found here:

Today, there was a well-attended demonstration outside the Senedd against these cuts. A number of backbench Government Assembly Members spoke in support of the protestors including Helen Mary Jones, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, Alun Davies and Joyce Watson. They told the protestors that they opposed the cuts in further education. It was a Damoscene conversion.

On 11 March the Welsh Liberal Democrats tabled a motion to Plenary that read: the National Assembly for Wales calls on the Welsh Assembly Government to re-examine its financial support for post-16 education. Amongst those voting against that motion were Helen Mary Jones, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, Alun Davies and Joyce Watson.

The sheer hypocrisy of their stance is breathtaking.

In June 2009 I blogged in support of Nick Cohen in the Observer on why the BNP should not be banned from our classrooms:

Objectionable as they are the BNP are a legitimate party. We must fight them by exposing the bankruptcy of their ideas, by putting in place solutions to the problems they exploit and by campaigning hard on the issues in the communities they are targeting. Their creed has no place in the classroom but teachers must be judged on their behaviour and their teaching methods not on the labels they wear.

Finally, in July I posted on the threat to biodiversity from the importation of plants and species into a foreign environment:

Meanwhile, the Sun reports on another troublesome immigrant. They say that Britain is being invaded by killer chipmunks. We are told that the animals, who are described as vicious, disease-riddled rodents, have escaped or been released into the wild by traders or domestic owners terrified of infection. In addition the UK is apparently on high alert in case a wave of the vermin, which have wreaked havoc in France, pours through the Channel Tunnel.

The chipmunks are an ideal target for The Sun because of their promiscuity. The females can have up to 16 babies a year, so the population will be growing fairly rapidly. If they could claim benefits then the story would amount to a 'perfect storm' for the paper.

The question as to who is going to win the prize of Liberal Democrat Blog of the Year is already the subject of much speculation on the blogosphere and on Twitter. There is consensus that three bloggers in particular are in the running. These are Charlotte Gore, Mark Reckons and Costigan Quist. However there are many more excellent Liberal Democrat blogs out there including Liberal England, Sara Bedford, Stephen Glenn, Jenny Rigg and Jane Watkinson to name but a few. It is a crowded field of exceeding high quality and I have no idea who might win. though I nominated Charlotte Gore just because she dropped so many hints all over the place.

Last year I won the award for Best blog from a Liberal Democrat holding public office, it is still on my mantlepiece. That is another tough field though I have nominated Adrian Sanders as an MP who has been blogging for some time on My Space, who has a loyal following, is not afraid to innovate and take risks and who deserves some recognition for his work.

I would also like to see the new Welsh Liberal Democrat collaborative blog Freedom Central get shortlisted in the category of Best new Liberal Democrat blog (started since 1st September 2008), however I would not expect it to win.

Update: after this post by Charlotte Gore I am seriously reconsidering my support for her to be blog of the year on behalf of kittens everywhere.
"he repeated almost verbatim every myth and smear directed at my party by our opponents as if they were fact."

I don't repeat anything, Peter, unless I believe it to be true.

I gave a considered and,I hope, balanced view based on facts.

I didn't respond to your post when you made it but since you appear to believe it deserves a prize maybe you could point out any factual errors in the original piece.

Of course maybe you are up for "groundless rant of the year" in which case I forgive you and you have my vote!
OK then I will rephrase that as your post contained familiar myths and smears against the Liberal Democrats that are constantly used by our opponents against us. I do not claim it is worthy of a prize, in fact I preface my remarks by saying:

'I do not believe that I have anything on this blog of sufficient quality to compete in this category and cannot come anywhere near reaching the level of last year's winner from Alix Mortimer but nevertheless I have trawled my blog and found a few that may be worth reading through again'

Nor do I accept that the post is a groundless rant. In fact I answered all of your points in detail.
To be fair to Charlotte, I really don't think any kittens were harmed in the writing of that blog post which was very, very funny. I must ask Candy Piercy if she can see herself delivering the training module as written by Charlotte:-)
Yes, I can confirm that no kittens were harmed. :)
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