Friday, March 31, 2006

The MP and the supermodel

One way or another I haven't read a newspaper all week or watched television, so I'm reduced to piggybacking on an old Liberal England item about the unlikely spat between Phil Willis MP and Jodie Marsh.

There are a couple of issues here. First, this kind of thing is typical of Phil Willis. While clearly an intelligent and charismatic man, his political always strike me as patrician and Fabian rather than obviously Liberal.

While he describes his parliamentary question about whether Ms Marsh is a suitable person to lead an anti-bullying campaign as 'tongue-in cheek', the precise wording is interesting. He invites the Secretary of State to 'take steps to deny Jodie Marsh access to schools for which her Department is responsible'.

If I were Ruth Kelly I would reply

Liberal Democrats usually accuse the government of attempting to micromanage public services that you say should be controlled locally. Now you are asking me to issue a diktat to all headteachers in the land about who they are allowed to invite to speak in their schools. Come on folks - make your minds up!

On the main issue, however, for once I agree with Phil Willis. Even from the brief extract from Ms Marsh's blog quoted here it's pretty clear that she freely uses the language of the playground bully and could hardly spearhead an anti-bullying campaign without unintended irony.

One of the strange phenomena of our age is the attraction people find in adopting victim status. So Ms Marsh is effectively saying to the world, without any sense of self-contradiction: 'I was bullied at school. That makes me a Victim and gives me the right to be as boorish and offensive as I like to people who get in my way. Anyone who disagrees is a fat ugly minger.'

Thursday, March 23, 2006

That 7/7 challenge

Some while ago Jonathan Calder nominated me for this 7/7 challenge thing. Never one to rush things, I have had seven weeks to mull it all over, so now here goes:


1. Finish my Phd
2. Learn to speak Italian
3. Watch Scotland beat the All Blacks at rugby
4. Start driving again
5. Learn to appreciate classical music
6. Publish a book
7. See a Liberal Democrat MP elected for Watford


1. DIY
2. Read an entire article by Polly Toynbee without cursing
3. Proofread my own writing
4. Stand Cliff Richard
5. Assertiveness
6. Support England at any sport
7. Telephone canvassing


1. The wonderful railway journey from Kings Cross
2. St Giles Cathedral
3. The prospect of one day watching Scotland beat the All Blacks at rugby*
4. The pubs along the Royal Mile
5. The National Library of Scotland*
6. The new Parliament building
7. Dalmeny House*

* Still to do!


1. Hmmph!
2. Bollocks!
3. Absolutely
4. There was an interesting article in the New Statesman…
5. I've got 100 unanswered emails in my inbox
6. PCs don't actually work, you know – Macs are much better
7. I'm just popping out to the shop to get some beer


1. Sunset song – Lewis Grassic Gibbon
2. The fox in the attic – Richard Hughes
3. Death and nightingales – Eugene McCabe
4. Good behaviour – Molly Keane
5. Passion and cunning – Conor Cruise O'Brien
6. In the lion's den – Auberon Waugh
7. Africa and the Victorians – John Gallagher and Ronald Robinson


1. None, but if did then…
2. High plains drifter
3. White hunter, black heart
4. The good, the bad and the ugly
5. In the line of fire
6. Paint your wagon
7. The outlaw Josey Wales


All I could nominate have done it already.

INSTEAD – 7 favourite quotes

1. 'Compassion is the base currency of second-rate minds – a substitute for thought' – Auberon Waugh
2.'Some things are true, even if they are printed in the Daily Telegraph' – George Orwell (attr.)
3. 'Counterfeit philosophies have polluted all of your thoughts/Karl Marx has got you by the throat and Henry Kissinger's got you tied up into knots' – Bob Dylan
4. 'We all know that prime ministers are wedded to the truth, but like other married couples they sometimes live apart' – Saki (HH Munro)
5. 'By hating vices too much they come to love men too little' – Edmund Burke
6. 'The review pages of the daily, weekly and weekend quality press in Great Britain are still dominated by a generation of young, conservative historians and journalists who came during the Thatcher years to such intellectual maturity as they possess.' - Richard J Evans
7. 'I may have written nonsense. But my nonsense isn't the nonsense his nonsense says it is' – Conor Cruise O'Brien (attr.)

That's your lot!

You must read this…

Sorry, but I can't resist this recommendation.

The Darbyshires' farewell to the Liberal Democrats and riposte to their moment of fame in the New Statesman, 'Hitting back', is quite brilliant.

The laughter left my ribcage aching and it is the funniest thing I've read and the longest piece of sustained personal vituperation since the late Auberon Waugh used to write in Private Eye.

It surely must be a shoo-in for Tim Worstall's Best of British Blogging 2006 when it is published.

The only trouble is that after this, the rest of us who have any pretensions to using humour on our blogs might as well hang up our keyboards.

Blair, protestants and bigotry

A couple of weeks ago I highlighted the tendency on the left towards double standards over political violence, citing Northern Ireland as an example. So all violence is bad but protestant violence against catholics is regarded as sectarian and driven by bigotry; catholic violence against protestants is political and driven by oppression.

It is disappointing to see Tony Blair fall into this trap. One of the positive things Blair has done is move the Labour party away from its previous rather obvious pro-Green and anti-Orange bias on Northern Ireland questions. He should know better.

Those loans - what's all the fuss about?

Try as I might, I just can't get excited by all the controversty about the loans and peerages row besetting the Labour party.

In general, the British political system is pretty free of corruption. Even in the areas where it is part of folklore that bribes take place, it seems to be myth rather than reality. From time to time I see TV dramas where the plot involves councillors being bribed to pass planning applications. Yet in 10 or more years as a member of a planning committee, the most I have ever experienced is a polite letter from applicants arguing that their application meets all the relevant criteria. I'm not saying that there is no corruption in public life in Britain. Just that any there might be is almost certainly of negligible proportions.

It's in this light that I judge the recent furore. Where political parties nominate working peers, these are likely to be people who support the party's cause and have had some degree of success in their chosen career. So it's no surprise if some of them are seriously wealthy and made generous donations to the cause of the party they believe in. While making large donations to a political party shouldn't entitle someone to a peerage, neither should it be a barrier to it nor a cause for suspicion.

The only problem, it seems to me, is if a peerage is rather obviously bought by somebody who is clearly unfit to serve in the House of Lords and whose only real qualification is to have given a party a large amount of money. And there are safeguards against that.

Participation in the democratic process is a positive thing. Political parties need money in order to put their case to the electorate. Some people may just pay a few pounds to attend a constituency fundraising dinner. Others with more money on their hands may make rather larger donations. Good! It all helps make sure we have a vibrant political system. It is illogical that charitable donations are automatically seen as a good thing, even though some of the cosyest sounding charities will have controversial campaigning agendas, while giving to political parties is seen as a little sordid, even though the latter, for all their vices, are a necessary guarantor of an open society.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Three myths of the left

In today's (Dublin) Sunday Independent, Eoghan Harris comments on his move away from socialism (he was a member of Ireland's Workers' Party) following the disintegration of the soviet bloc in 1989:

I identified three ideological lines on the left to which I could no longer subscribe: the patronising notion of alienation (which assumes that working people do not know what they want); taking up fixed anti-American positions on foreign affairs (which always finish by favouring the local Provos whether they be Hamas or the Iraqi insurgents) and the notion that crime can be completely blamed on a bad environment.

Many on the British left equally abandoned entirely these notions and ended up on the path to New Labour – a position that was hardly identifiable at all as being on the left.

But others (including not a few Lib Dems) clung to these notions as if to a life-raft in a storm, denying that times had changed.

Which perhaps explains why the British left of today is so uninspiring.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Hopeful signs on the left?

Is it just me or are there positive signs that in response to New Labour control freakery a strand of thinking is developing on the left that is sceptical of government activity rather than always assuming as a default that state intervention in social problems is benign?

In this week's New Statesman, the magazine's political correspondent Martin Bright takes the government to task for its obsessive legislating on education and crime, before concluding:

I have a suggestion: a moratorium on legislation. I suggest the following wording for a pledge in the next Labour (or, for that matter, Conservative or Liberal Democrat) manifesto: “We will introduce no legislation in the next parliament as there is quite enough already. We will make do with our flawed but probably quite adequate existing laws and concentrate on improving our schools, hospitals and railways.” I’d vote for that.

Me too!

Friday, March 17, 2006

My new title

Jonathan Calder highlights the Elect the Lords campaign’s website that invites people to buy virtual peerages in the wake of the scandal besetting the Labour party.

I have long had a pleasing political fantasy that runs as follows. A Liberal Democrat government finds its plans for second chamber reform blocked by opposition placemen and placewomen in the House of Lords. To overcome this it decides on a mass ennoblement of loyal Lib Dems. And how better to achieve this than to award peerages to all the party's council group leaders? In order to satirise the whole system, those of us who happen to be majority group leaders could have titles a step or two higher than mere barons or baronesses. Having got my ferret-trimmed gown and seat on the red leather benches, I would immediately be overcome by the weight of historical tradition and realise the importance of having an upper chamber able to reach reasoned conclusions free from immediate electoral pressures. If enough of us went the same way, we could preserve the existing arrangements.

The only question is what title to take. I should probably include Watford somewhere in there. But then there already is a Lord Evans of Watford. And if one takes the place where one lives as a title it may seem as though one is literally trying to lord it over one's neighbours. So that won’t do!

Maybe then I should look further back into my past for inspiration. I grew up in the north east of Scotland, where the nearest town was Montrose. But this would invite comparisons with the great civil war royalist commander, James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose and I don’t want to get delusions of grandeur. (Incidentally, Montrose is widely but erroneously believed to have been hanged at Edinburgh in 1650. In fact he cheated the gallows, has exceeded Lord Bonkers for longevity, but sadly came down in the world and is now a mere Lib Dem blogger.)

So, perhaps I should look to the place where I lived, the small fishing village of Johnshaven (‘Johnner’ to locals), Kincardineshire. While it is too small a place to have a marquisate or earldom named after it, maybe a viscountcy would do. So there we have it: Iain Sharpe, 1st Viscount Johnshaven. That sounds about right.

I’ll go online now and buy my new virtual title – an elected House of Lords is certainly a worthwhile cause. But then again, I’m a grippy Scot at heart, with short arms and deep pockets. I wouldn’t want to waste money that I could spend on beer or books. Perhaps I should just know my place and remain a commoner.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The lost springs

Blogging has been slow, by which I mean non-existent, for the past week because campaigning in Watford is hotting up and has taken all my time. This is the twenty-first consecutive year that I have spent the spring fighting election campaigns in May (well I didn’t do much in the year I sat my finals, but apart from that…) first in Leicester and subsequently in Watford.

What this means is that for me April is a missing month. The end of March and the start of May are mysteries too. Personal matters and outside interests are put on hold as life becomes an endless cycle of writing leaflets, printing leaflets, delivering leaflets, canvassing and handing out leaflets. Famous people I admire die, authors I like publish a new book or music artists release new albums and it all passes me by. My wife got the back garden lawn paved over a few years ago because I never managed to cut the grass before the middle of May, by which time it was a wilderness and beyond rescue.

During last year’s general election campaign Pope John Paul II died. As I semi-practising Catholic I should have regarded this as a momentous event, prompting me to a degree of reflection and contemplation. Instead it was a case of ‘Oh that’s very sad, but then he was quite old and unwell, now where did I put that bundle of leaflets?’ Some months later I was taking part in a quiz where one of the questions was the title of the new Pope. It was deeply embarrassing to find that as the only RC in the team I was also the only one who didn’t know the answer.

All this is paving the way to a feeble excuse in case this blog may goes into hibernation (or whatever is the spring equivalent) over the next few weeks. Blogging requires some time to think about things that might be of interest to people outside my immediate circle of Watford Lib Dem colleagues. This is hard to do when the constant thoughts going through my mind concern printing and delivery deadlines or what outrageous lies Labour/Conservatives/Greens have told about Watford Borough Council’s leisure proposals/planning policies/finances in their latest leaflet in Ward X.

Watford is a Liberal Democrat success story. In 2002 we took over a council that was left by Labour a bizarre throwback to 1980s-style rotten boroughs – smug, complacent and useless. It has been transformed into an effective organisation, focusing on successful delivery of services. We have taken a distinctively liberal approach, refusing to fall for the twin myths that expensive services automatically equal good ones, or that all the public want are a low level of services at a low cost. In areas like tackling anti-social behaviour, we have been successful innovators (recognised by an LGA Lib Dem group award). Unfortunately we did not win the Local Government Chronicle ‘Most improved council’ award, but did well to get on the shortlist in the first year we entered. (Not that I’m competitive but I’m now busy sticking pins in a wax model of the logo of the winner, Wakefield MBC.)

So we have much to be proud of as we enter Dorothy’s re-election campaign. Wish us luck! Good luck to all Lib Dem bloggers who are fighting elections too! Anyone who is not, do feel free to come and help in Watford. Posts may be intermittent between now and May 4. A normal service will resume after then.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The left, sectarianism and Northern Ireland

One of the reasons for the name of this blog is my interest in paradox and the way political issues are often not quite as they seem. I like to think that those of us who are on the liberal left of politics will have an enlightened outlook, letting reason be our guide. But all too often, the left (including some Liberals) does little more than mirror the prejudices of the right.

Nowhere is this more true than on the question of Northern Ireland. For centuries it was implicit in British political culture that Roman Catholics in general, and Irish Catholics in particular, were politically backward and driven by superstition not reason. They were always to be regarded as slightly suspect and possibly disloyal. While naked expressions of anti-Catholicism are now beyond the pale, it is idle to pretend that there is no anti-Irish prejudice. Yet among some people on the left there is an anti-Ulster protestant prejudice that is every bit as irrational.

Before the ceasefires, when the bombing and shooting campaigns were at full throttle, I found this manifested itself in the following way among my Lib Dem or Labour supporting acquaintances. While they would condemn all paramilitary violence, they assumed that republican violence was somehow that little bit less bad than its loyalist counterpart. A united Ireland was self-evidently the right solution. Republican terrorism was based on misguided idealism, while loyalist killings were pure sectarian bigotry.

There is a good example of such double standards in an article by the left-wing writer Beatrix Campbell in this week’s New Statesman, on the BBC’s recent Facing the truth series. The programmes brought together victims and perpetrators of paramilitary violence during the Northern Ireland troubles. Campbell

The republican soldiers' mission was to kill the British state that was denying their right to be human. The loyalist soldiers' mission was to kill Catholics.

But it is not as quite as simple as that. Sectarianism exists on both sides of the divide.
Just a couple of weeks ago a march in Dublin organized by FAIR (Families Acting for Innocent Relatives) under the banner LoveUlster had to be abandoned due to riotsapparently organised by fringe Republican groups. As Ruth Dudley Edwards pointed out in a well-argued article in the (Dublin-based) Sunday Independent, FAIR is not entirely free of dodgy loyalist connections. But these events in Dublin show that Ulster protestants can be the victims of, not just responsible for, sectarian attitudes.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Ming names his minions

The reshuffle looks to have put together a pretty good team. Only a few are worthy of comment.

Home affairs will make or break Nick Clegg’s reputation. It’s off his normal territory and gives him a chance to establish his grasp of domestic policy. But it is a high-risk appointment for someone who is widely regarded as a future leader. It will be tricky to thread a path between the Labour/Tory/tabloid ‘soft-on-crime’ jibes and the section of Lib Dem activists who will noisily object to anything that looks like pandering to the Daily Mail. And at the same time manage to make a positive impact in the role rather than trying not to make waves. I believe that Nick is bright and able enough to cope with the brickbats and make a good fist of this one.

I am disappointed that Sarah Teather is moving from the ODPM brief just as she was getting her teeth into it. I didn’t start out as a massive Teather fan, but clearly she learns quickly and looked set to do a very good job. I hope she will now sort out our education policy. Edward Davey probably didn’t get a long enough run at education and was left a peculiar legacy by Phil Willis – who was very knowledgeable and respected but too close to the teaching unions. But even with Davey in charge, the motion agreed at Harrogate last weekend was bizarre in endorsing choice in all aspects of schooling bar secondary transfer. Let’s hope Sarah now gets a decent period of time to master the brief and make in impact.

I can’t pretend to be pleased by Andrew Stunell’s appointment as ODPM spokesman. He struck me as a very good chief whip and should have been left there. Ming may be thinking that by giving us local government folk one of our own (Andrew is a former chief executive of ALDC) that will keep us happy and quiet. But actually, it would do councillors good to have someone who is more at the cutting edge of new thinking in the party to take us out of the comfort zone. Stunell strikes me as an effective political operator, but hardly the person to lead the intellectual debate on localism at a wider level than just within the party. Also we need someone to manage the retreat from regionalism. When I heard Huhne speak at the hustings, the best bits were on local government and if Teather had to move from ODPM, I would have preferred Huhne to replace her. Is this an important policy theme for Lib Dems or is it not?

Huhne should do well at environment. But whereas Norman Baker always gave the impression he would be happier out there on the Greenpeace boat or lying in front of the bulldozers, Huhne will, I hope, have the breadth of vision to see that environmental policies are part of a bigger picture. He will have the authority and credibility to make this a crucial role.

For full details see here here.

Holyrood haggling

Weekends away always throw me out, which is why the blog has not been updated much in the last few days.

So I will just commend two excellent posts by James Graham on quaequam blog about policy-making and the pros and cons of continued coalition with Labour in Scotland. But a word of warning to James - considered and analytical posts like these risk entirely destroying your reputation as "crass, boorish and more a bruiser than blogger”.

I have wondered what would happen if in the next Holyrood election the Liberal Democrats became the second largest party - we finished second in Scotland in the popular vote in the 2005 general election.

It is normally only in exceptional circumstances that the two largest parties in a parliament will form a coalition together leaving the opposition a tiny rump. Such things can seem like an organised conpiracy against the public - depriving them of a potential alternative government to vote for.

At Blackpool conference to quiz a leading MSP about this and was surprised to see that it hadn't even registered as a potential problem.

Tone vs Ming

Tony Greaves is one of the party's treasures. He has also sold me a lot of books at very reasonable prices and ferreted out some that were very hard to find. So I hesitate to criticise.

But was the criticism of Ming in Monday's Guardian really necessary? The new party leader was not even allowed 24 hours grace after his inaugural leader's speech before being attacked by a senior party figure?

What Tony took exception to was Ming's use of the word 'modernise'. I agree that in its Blairite usage this is a problematic word. It is designed to imply that there is only one way forward - whatever the government is proposing - and that everyone else is stuck in the past.

Although there are some intellectual dinosaurs in all public debates, debates between and within parties are more often about how to rather than whether to modernise. Forward-looking policies may well come in a variety of forms.

But the use I heard Ming make of the word was simply to say that to be a Liberal Democrat was to be a moderniser. This seemed to me pretty uncontroversial and of a piece with his quip that he preferred open minds to open-necked shirts.

Give the man a chance, Tony!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Highlight of the conference

Along with everyone else, I am off to Harrogate, which makes a nice change from Dereliction-on-Sea where we all had such a lovely time in September.

For many people the highlight of the conference will be Ming’s first speech as party leader. However, many of the more discerning delegates will have their eyes on the item immediately preceding it on the agenda at 11.10 on Sunday morning. This will provide an inspirational tale for all Lib Dems of heroic campaigning and Liberal Democrat principles in action in local government.

Yes, Watford Liberal Democrats have arrived – it won’t be long before we are sending the tanks into Hemel Hempstead!

You read it here first

Everyone seems to agree that the Huhne campaign got off to a flying start but had a much worse second half. So what happened at that crucial midway point to derail the Huhne campaign. Yes, you’ve guessed right! It was Polly wot lost it. That Toynbee endorsement really did send the Huhne campaign into freefall as I predicted , more in hope than expectation.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Right result, rotten prediction, Congratulations Ming

Well, my man won. But then my prediction was way way wrong. My feeble excuse is that among the Lib Dems I speak to about such things, I have felt swamped by Huhnies over the last few weeks and a bit out on a limb in continuing to support Ming. I wrongly sensed a bandwagon rolling. But for the first time have voted for the winning candidate in a leadership election. The party has made the right choice.

It is good that the margin was so decisive. As James Graham pointed out a while ago the worst thing for the party would have been a narrow victory for Ming – the front runner limping home damaged.

It must surely be the right result in terms of the party at Westminster. It would have been difficult for Huhne to lead the parliamentary party when only one ninth of its members had backed him.

The key things Ming should do now are:

- Give a warm and generous response to the defeated candidates, especially Huhne. Clearly the latter’s campaign has put noses out of joint but the whole leadership contest would have been much poorer without it.

- Learn to love the party’s footsoldiers a bit more and show that he values them. To use a rugby term, the truck must remain attached to the trailer.

- Be his own man, not a bridge to the future. Bridges are for walking over. I can’t think of a better metaphor right now, but Ming must lead from the front. He must not be simply a mouthpiece for the younger MPs who played a leading role in his campaign.

He now has a great opportunity to take the party to unprecedented electoral heights. I am sure he will seize it.

Meeting the Darbyshires

And of course for those who just want to read the NS for the article on fellow Lib Dem bloggers the Darbyshires the link is here.

Peter Wilby on Labour education policy

Here goes for my weekly Peter Wilby plug. Excellent overview of Labour education policy in this week's education special issue. Do read! Of cours the thing I like most about the article is the way it agrees with the view I expressed the other day on this site - except Wilby has done more research and quoted more facts than I did.

First one to mention Joe McCarthy loses

I see that Ken Livingstone is accusing the Board of Deputies of British Jews of a McCarthyite witchhunt against him over the Oliver Finegold incident.

Nonsense! It is a rule of dinner-party discussion that the first one to mention the Nazis loses. The same should apply to McCarthyism.

In a free country, the Board of Deputies has got every right to try to persuade the Mayor to change his views on Israel. Democracy is about persuasion and argument after all.

And the Standards Board, through which the complaint was pursued, was created by the Labour government that Livingstone supports.

How very Labour to create such a body in a fit of holier-than-thou sanctimoniousness about standards in public life, but when it is used to question the standards of a Labour politician to accuse the complainant of McCarthyism.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Nice schools for nice children from nice families

Most Liberals will agree with Simon Jenkins' column in today's Guardian - Labour MPs will be voting for an old Tory education bill.

We have to be a little careful here. I am by no means a supporter of the Liberals against choice line. Indeed when Phil Willis proposed the "Quality for all, not choice for the few" policy at conference in 2004, I was the only speaker to suggest that we should drop the hostile references to choice. A good dozen or so of the 200 plus delegates present voted with me on that one!

But the current bill is a deliberate subliminal appeal to snobbery, whatever attempts are made to say it is not about selection. While parental choice is a good thing, it is not a panacea. And it cannot be absolute when education is free at the point of use. So this bill will achieve nothing to improve educational performance, particularly for children from underachieving or disadvantaged social groups. Its message is nice schools for nice children from nice families and never mind the rest.

My prediction

The Apollo Project is running a prediction competition as no doubt are various other sites.

I am very bad at predicting election results, but at risk of embarrassment here is my forecast:

1. Total number of votes cast (%): 61

2. First preference votes cast for Ming Campbell (%): 34

3. First preference votes cast for Chris Huhne (%): 42

4. First preference votes cast for Simon Hughes (%): 24

Second round

5. Second round votes cast for Ming Campbell (%): 43

6. Second round votes cast for Chris Huhne (%): 57

7. Second round votes cast for Simon Hughes (%): 0

Since this seems seriously at variance with the consensus, which seems to be for a narrow Ming win, I should offer some words of explanation.

I voted for Ming. I am a pessimist. I hope to be proved wrong.

More seriously, whoever wins the election, Huhne has won the campaign. I have been bitterly disappointed at just how uninspiring the Ming campaign has been, given that he is a canny politician and he has most of the party's brightest and best at his back. The succession of emails from grandees such as Steel, Williams and Ashdown as the campaign drew to a close summed this up. Ming surely already had the deference vote. He needed to be targeting the thinking voter who would have started out backing Ming but was feeling tempted by Huhne. He would have done better to just be himself and talk about the things he clearly is passionate about - civil liberties, foreign policy etc. rather than dwelling on the detail of environment policy where he is clearly not at home.

By contrast Huhne has injected the campaign with ideas, energy and enthusiasm. I have not joined the ranks of his supporters because I think many of his messages appeal more to Lib Dem members than the wider electorate and because he comes across as too clever by half. Yet the campaign would have been dull without him. Would a Simon v Ming contast have merited a separate edition of Question Time? I think not.

The key question is what will the 'ordinary' members do. The people who matter here are not the total armchair members, but councillors and active or semi-active members who don't go to conference, subscribe to Lib Dem News, read blogs, take part in cix etc.

There was quite a posse of such people who went from Watford to the St Albans hustings a couple of weeks ago (and not just to see Dorothy chair the meeting). To a person those of them that I spoke to afterwards were voting for Huhne.