Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Leave Rory Weal Alone


Rory Weal is the 16 year old boy who spoke at the Labour conference two days ago and is now being attacked in the press, in blogs and on Twitter for his speech and his circumstances. Rory said:
"I owe my entire well-being and that of my family to the welfare state ." He said this because his family had hit hard times and had to rely on the welfare state to get through.

At first Rory received praise for giving a speech at his age. Then, in true British style, he was villified mercilessly because the press found out that Rory used to go to a private school and lived in a very expensive home and now goes to a Grammar school.

I am going to stand up for Rory because in my previous blog post I said I would speak up on child issues (but even I didn't realise that it would be to defend another child who speaks at conferences). I was featured in The Observer magazine on 11 Sept in an article titled 'Spot the Future Prime Minister' along with other Liberal Youth. The youth from Labour and the Tories were featured too and Rory is in the magazine.

I don't know where to start because I have so much to say. Firstly, does a child have to come from an underprivileged background to go into politics? Rory was telling the truth as his situation is now. The family lost their wealth. He is a true example of how the welfare system should work i.e someone who has lost their job through no fault of their own then depends on the welfare system to help them get back on their feet.

Rory gave the impression that he came from a disadvantaged background when he spoke about using the welfare system. Why do middle class people always get attacked when they talk about a working class situation? Social mobility usually means to move up in the class system but people forget that social mobility also means that people can move down. This is what happened to Rory by the looks of it.

I believe him when he says that the family struggled financially. He may not have been poor but when has poverty been a requirement to speak about politics? Private schooling is used as a weapon to beat people away from the world of politics. I go to a private school but remember children don't have a choice of where they go. I don't want to be ridiculed for going to a private school.

Also, not every child who goes to private school will end up ruling the country and not every child who goes to a comprehensive will end up unemployable. The riots showed that there is an overlap. Children from rich backgrounds and private schools rioted too. Where you went to school should not be a barrier to a child's future. This whole wealth creation debate forgets that the middle class is growing. The middle class covers a whole load of people. It is the largest layer in society.

Also, I can't understand why a capitalist country (UK) always ridicules the symbols of capitalism like private choices over schools. It is as if we want capitalism but only in a way that suits our political ideology.

In summary, leave Rory alone. During the riots people spoke about the useless young who don't do anything. When a young person does they are thrown to the wolves. Stop.
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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Clegg's Conference Call

The bounce back at our conference from the defeats of the local elections and electoral reform vote was phenomenal. We are the Jack-in-the-Box pop up political party. The sense of unity and optimism was astounding but I still think that we are struggling about being in Government.

Take my personal experience as an example. On Saturday when I got to the ICC there were two armoured cars. Someone had told me that George Osbourne was at the conference so I immediately assumed that the cars were his. A few minutes later I realised that  it was Nick Clegg's cars. Him being the Deputy Prime Minister. That is the paradox. We are in power now but sometimes the Lib Dems behave as if we are still a party in opposition. Thank goodness we aren't but even Nick Clegg seems to get it mixed up occasionally. Take this line from his closing Leader's speech

"We speak up first and loudest when the establishment lets people down.'
Isn't Government the biggest part of the establishment? Our slogan for this conference was 'In Government, on your side'. Slightly confusing. Maybe this is because Nick Clegg is still having to convince party members about the decision to go into coalition. This is a shame because valuable time is being spent explaining past decisions rather than looking forward.

"We proved something about ourselves last year, when we faced  historic choice: whether or not to enter Government in coalition with the Conservatives."
We have always been the party that shouted in protest at the Government of the day and now we are the Government and are having to make decisions. I sensed this myself during debates and at fringe events that Lib Dems still feel a need to apologise for being with the Tories and have not reached the stage where we feel comfortable justifying the decision. This is a negative tactic.

The Tory bashing at conference was unhelpful because it took debates nowhere. Stalemate. We have to work with the Tories till 2015. Of course we need to stamp the Liberal Democrat personality on issues and causes but not by taking cheap shots otherwise electors will ask us why we stayed in coalition at all and for 5 years, at that, if the Tories were that bad.

When we face reelection our decisions will be challenged by voters on the grounds that they were made as part of a coalition. Lib Dems will have to be a strong party that can explain and justify everything we have done when the next election occurs in 2015. What will we need for this? Our local party base has always been the glue that holds us together. At the next election if we don't have enough grassroots support then we will be in big trouble.

"We do not serve and will never serve vested interests"
Localism is our vested interest. Traditionally we have been the party that operates at local authority level. This was our strength. Now I see a tension between the localism agenda and the centralism agenda. This was especially apparent to me during the debates on free schools and academies. Lib Dems are against anything that takes away power from local authorities but free schools actually give power to parents over choices in education.

Finally, I take great pride in having a strong stake in the party because of Nick Clegg saying the following:

"...Britain is our home. We will make it safe and strong. These are our children. We will tear down every barrier that they face..."

This is a party fighting for a better future for children and I will carry on feeling justified in writing about what affects children. That will be Libdemchild's voice in the party and personal manifesto.
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Friday, 16 September 2011

Pre-conference musings



It's that time of the year again, conference. It's the only good thing about the end of summer. I have been thinking about what the party ought to achieve from this conference.

There's a good quote in The Times today in the article written by Philip Collins: "In 2010 no party was in the right place but the electorate brilliantly conceived a coalition as if to say "now, that's what we meant and try not to forget it"."

I still don't feel as if the Lib Dems have worked out our position in Government. Ok, people must have voted for something we stood for. We want to be Liberal, which is about giving people choices and options, but then we switch to paternal Liberalism. We give our leadership a hard time without really understanding their role in Government. The leadership seems miles apart from the ordinary members of the party like me.

Does anyone agree with this or do you think I am being negative?

On a personal note I will be speaking at a fringe event on Monday night at 8pm on the Education Bill, Hyatt Regency, Dolce Room. Sitting on the panel with me will be Christine Blower, head of the NUT, Paula Keaveney, Liverpool Council, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Naomi Phillips, British Humanist Association and the event will be chaired by Kavya Kaushik, Liberal Youth Scotland.
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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Libdem child ranked 7th in the world among teen bloggers

http://www.babble.com/kid/kids-activities/website-best-kid-blogger-young/?page=7

I have been ranked 7th in a top 10 list of child bloggers globally. I feel humbled, excited and grateful. Thank you for all your support in reading my blog and leaving comments, especially JohnM, Goodknight, Frank Little, Philip Blond of ResPublica and LeftLiberal.

There are two other bloggers in this list who are of interest. One is Madonna's, the pop singer, daughter Lourdes who comes in at 10. The other is the daughter of the Tiger Mother who comes in at 9th.

Also to the right of this blog post is an interview that I did with Winkball.com who are interviewing some LibDem bloggers in the lead up to our conference. Winkball reporters will also be present in Birmingham so please be nice to them because they are a great company.
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