Author Archives: George Kendall

The best time to recruit is now

Liberal Democrat membership formsI find the most powerful words before asking for help are “thank you”.

With ten months still to go before the next election, if you knock on a supporter’s door, you’re not just yet another politician, who only calls at election times. And if the first thing you say is ”thank you”, that’s powerful.

When I do it, I get smiles of surprise and pleasure. They know perfectly well that there’s another reason for my visit, but we all like to be thanked.

A lot of us are nervous to …

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Travel is permitted

5th Oct Action Day 600x431In the dim distant days of early Spring 1997, I wanted to travel to a key seat.  But it was still outside the election period.  Could I summon the nerve to ring as a total stranger, and would I get a warm response?

I did, and it was a great experience.

But maybe there are others like me.  Wanting to offer help to their favourite MP, but unsure how an offer of help would be received.  The short answer is, of course, go for it!

However, perhaps those of us in strategic seats could do more to make that initial offer of help a little easier. This is exactly what originally inspired the Regional Action Day programme, and we want to do more of it.

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Opinion: In praise of Devon and Cornwall

The most important thing the party needs to do is recruit new volunteers. We all know it, and everyone talks about it.

But Devon and Cornwall are doing it.

This week they’ve organised recruitment training evenings in key seats. And this Saturday, as part of the National Day of Action on Jobs there will be a Regional Action Day in North Cornwall which will include practical training in recruitment.

This training isn’t just talk. After a short session of training, with scripts giving examples of what to say, they involve practical on-the-job training. In other words, going out and actually putting it into …

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Ride the wave! Two chances to celebrate…

Want to celebrate the fantastic result in Eastleigh?

Why not join a working celebration at Regional Action Days in either Watford or Lewes, tomorrow, Saturday 2nd March.  There’ll be good company, free food and invigorating campaigning.

Normally, the local teams for these Regional Action Days need at least a few days notice. However, normal promotion hasn’t been possible this time round, so for these events we’d welcome last minute registrations.

But please do register, even if it’s in the early hours of Saturday morning, here for Lewes and herefor Watford.

As far as we can, the teams want to …

Posted in Campaign Corner and News | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Missing out on history

mike thornton eastleigh jon aylwinIn 1990, I always intended to help in the Eastbourne by-election.  But I was busy, so I kept putting it off from one weekend to the next.  And then, it was too late.

Like all Liberal Democrats, I celebrated the stunning victory.  Like most of the country, I was relieved by the following resignation of Margaret Thatcher.  But my failure to help left a hint of bittersweetness.

Of the by-elections I have attended, the one I remember most is far from famous.  The West Derbyshire by-election of 1986 was held on the same day we won the Ryedale by-election.  A double-victory, one year before the 1987 General Election, would have been a massive boost to our credibility.

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Helping you keep your New Year’s resolution

Made a New Year’s resolution? No? No matter. Why not make one now? To campaign early and often in the run-up to May’s elections.

And to help you keep it, we’ve three more Regional Action Days, with more to come.

These events are designed to give you the best possible experience, well-organised, with free food and the chance to campaign with leading campaigners from across the region.

Don’t worry if you don’t have campaigning experience. These days are especially for you, to give you an enjoyable way to pick up new skills.

Can’t make the whole day? Then come for as much of it …

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Missing elections? Here’s 3 more chances to help in a by-election

I really like helping in by-elections, large and small.

I love the buzz of campaigning with others from around the country. I love the knowledge that I’m making a real difference in a campaign that will be in the media spotlight. And by-election campaigns have taught me a lot: much that I know about campaigning has come from helping in them.

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Opinion: How you can help vital campaigns from the comfort of your living room

With five by-election campaigns, a mayoral election and the police commissioner elections spread all around the country, there’s a host of opportunities to get involved in a campaign near you.
Last Saturday we ran a series of Regional Action Days for many of these campaigns.  Thank you so much to all of you who came.  A huge amount of valuable work was done, and hopefully you had fun too!
There’s another Regional Action Day this Saturday, November 10th, to help our superb candidate, Jill Hope, in the Corby by-election.  Details are available at the pre-registration page here.  If you can come, please do

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Opinion: Will you do your bit for Super Thursday?

Thursday, November 15th, isn’t just the date of the Police Commissioner elections. There’s by-elections in Cardiff, Manchester and Corby and an election for the mayor of Bristol. There’s also by-elections pending in Croydon North and Middlesbrough.

That means a lot of campaigns at the same time. But, look on the bright side, they’re neatly spread right across the county. So, for most of us, there’s one within easy reach.

With so many by-election campaigns running at the same time, the campaign teams could really do with your help. That means help, not in three weeks time, but help at any time, starting now!

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You are invited to Simon Wright’s birthday party – Saturday 15th September

Saturday the fifteenth is Simon Wright’s birthday. To help him celebrate, he’d like nothing better than hordes of Liberal Democrats to join him in Norwich.

We’ll be playing such party classics as: find a deliverer, how many leaflets can you deliver in an hour, and pass the residents survey. If you’re not familiar with these games, training will be available.

As the local party will be providing a free lunch and a free supper, they need to know how many will attend. They also need numbers because they need to know how much to print for the party games.

If you’d like to …

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How a deliverer can recruit two deliverers

There are martyrs who will do anything for the Liberal Democrats … except ask for help.

They drive themselves to an early grave delivering thousands of leaflets, canvassing, and organising everything else in their local party.

Nothing scares them … except asking for help.

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Eight ways to help Team LD win gold in 2015

The Olympics can be like politics.  The public remember a single moment of triumph or disaster.  But much of the fight to reach the winner’s podium is the years of relentless training.

Parliamentary elections are similar.  Any Liberal Democrat who hopes to become an MP with a half-hearted six month campaign is living in denial.  It takes years, working to build up the local organisation, meeting the electorate, month in, month out.

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Opinion: Why I am a royalist

There’s nothing democratic about the royal family. They are the descendants of a thug who defeated another thug to become the despot of these Isles. If that was all there was to them, I would be the first in the queue to get rid of them.

The greatest invention in the history of the world is not the wheel, or fire, or the scientific method: it’s democracy and the rule of law. What’s wonderful about democracy is he principle it establishes, that everyone, no matter their colour or creed, is of equal worth. That each person has the same number of …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 24 Comments

The best tonic for those post-election blues

Let's face it, we all need a pick-me-up. And what better way to raise our spirits than free food, lots of time to chat, and, of course, some invigorating campaigning?

This May and June, you're spoilt for choice. We've not one, not two, but three Regional Action Days coming up, in Brent, North Norfolk and Berwick-upon-Tweed.

The days will follow the successful formula followed earlier this year in Colchester, Carshalton and Wallington, and Cambridge.  We will meet in the morning for hot drinks, with a morning campaigning session, a simple free lunch, and an afternoon session.  Then, as a thank you, the local ...

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No need to be a spectator

There’s a battle on across the country, to elect people who will respond to the needs of their local communities, who will fight to protect vital services for vulnerable people.

Liberal Democrats without local elections don’t have to be spectators. If you do travel to campaign in another area, your help is especially valuable.

It’s not just the help you’ll be giving: knocking on doors and delivering leaflets. Morale is important in a campaign. If you offer help from outside, you’ll give them a real boost. Just by coming and helping, you will make things happen that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.

You are …

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Labour leaning think-tank IPPR backs Osborne on ‘granny tax’

George Osborne has received support from an unexpected source: the Labour leaning think tank, the IPPR.

In an article entitled “Why Osborne’s ‘granny tax’ makes sense“, Senior Research Fellow at the IPPR, Kayte Lawton says:

It is right for older people to contribute to deficit reduction…

Older people have been relatively protected from the spending cuts imposed by the coalition. The young have taken the brunt of the pain… Asking older people to contribute to tackling the deficit and shoring up the country’s tax base in the long-term is not unreasonable…

Osborne’s pleas of simplification have not played well, but he is right that age-related allowances add

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Opinion: A broad church of the religious and the secular

For the party to be strong, we need to be a broad church, and not just in our political views. This is why I think the most important fringe meeting at the coming Spring Conference is the first joint fringe meeting of the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum and the Humanist and Secularist Liberal Democrats. This is a chance for us to demonstrate that, even where we fundamentally disagree, Liberal Democrats can debate with mutual respect.

These last two weekends, I have seen concrete examples of the way Christians and atheists can work together: at the two most recent …

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 11 Comments

How to win seats in 2015

Opinion polls this year have shown us between seven and sixteen per cent. That’s a significant fall compared to the twenty-three per cent we received in the 2010 election. One polling website recently stated that, on a universal swing, we would get only two seats.

In 1997, our vote fell by one per cent to only 16.8%, nonetheless, but we made an electoral breakthrough, winning 46 seats.

If polls continue to be difficult, can we again defy first-past-the-post, and retain a sizeable parliamentary party? I think we can.

There’s been a lot of discussion about the strategy we should adopt to increase our poll …

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Opinion: Political Heroes

I used to think of heroes as valiant individuals, standing alone against impossible odds. But, too often, they are media myths, their achievements the work of others.

And so with political heroes. They don’t change the country for the better without help. Too often, the real heroes are unsung, toiling away for little recognition and less reward because it is the right
thing to do.

Ten years ago, my political heroes were the grass roots of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). Unexpected from a Liberal Democrat:  the UUP is close to the Conservative party, and, in Northern Ireland, were the establishment, but it is how I feel.

During …

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Opinion: Why Conservatives should consider defecting to the Liberal Democrats

Perhaps you want the UK to pull out of the European Union, and maybe you’d like the UK to switch to the old American healthcare system, where the uninsured poor would have minimal treatment. Perhaps you think the solution to youth crime is, not rehabilitation, but locking them away for as long as possible.

If so, you probably wouldn’t be very happy in the Liberal Democrats.

But maybe you are a Conservative supporter who wants Britain to make a contribution to the EU, not by pulling out, but with reforms that make it more accountable and …

Posted in Op-eds | 30 Comments

Opinion: A deficit is a deficit is a deficit… Or is it?

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is an independent body, created to help us hold the government to account. It’s their job to check the government clears the structural deficit within this parliament. So it’s pretty important that we understand what is meant by “structural deficit”.

But what exactly is the structural deficit?

The word “deficit” is bad enough. A lot of people confuse it with “debt”, and that’s not just in inadvertent typos. However, if you stop and think, it’s not so bad. ‘Debt’ is what we owe, and ‘deficit’ is how fast our debt is increasing.

The structural deficit isn’t so …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 19 Comments

Opinion: Labour’s problem

There’s been nothing dramatic about this conference season apart from a few gaffes, but under the surface, I think the Labour conference was significant.

While I enjoyed the Lib Dem conference, I don’t think the journalists did. Whenever I passed a well-known TV presenter, they had a face like thunder. They were looking for factionalism and controversy, but all they found was Lib Dems facing up to a difficult situation with determination and loyalty. That makes dull TV, so they must have been tearing their hair out.

The Tory conference was more entertaining.

Theresa May’s remark about cats, and the more recent

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , and | 35 Comments

Come help Simon Wright in Norwich South on Sept 3rd

Remember Norwich South on the 6th May 2010, when Simon Wright made that astonishing breakthrough to take the seat from a former Labour Cabinet minister?

We all know that success like this is only sustained if we keep working outside election times.
So Eastern Region are holding an Action Day on Saturday, September 3rd.

There will be surveying and recruitment, and a chance to talk over lunch with other campaigners, including Simon Wright.

So do join us.

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Opinion: If you voted Labour in a Lib Dem-Tory marginal, it’s your fault

After the last election, many thousands who voted Labour in Lib Dem-Tory marginals are furious with the Lib Dems for forming a coalition with the Tories. But when you stop and think about it, if they are angry with anyone, it should be with themselves.

We shouldn’t be too hard on them. The biggest blame lies with the election system.

At the last election, the Lib Dems and Labour had a combined vote of 52%, but together, they only had 315 MPs, ten short of a majority. To their great credit, many Labour supporters used their vote tactically, but there were not …

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Opinion: Why Labour members should defect to the Liberal Democrats

If you’re Labour, and want to be an MP in a safe seat, switching to the Lib Dems would be a bad move. Perhaps you like authoritarian policies on law and order, and prefer to avoid difficult decisions on the deficit. If so, the Lib Dems isn’t the party for you.

But maybe you think politics isn’t black and white, that there is good and bad in all the parties, and so working together is a good thing. Perhaps you think that the government should do what will work on law and order, rather than pander to the tabloid press, and …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 74 Comments

Opinion: How to respond to the hate

News on the internet can be depressing: protesters chant hate-filled slogans at the party conference, there is violence at anti-cuts demonstrations and a sea of cynical contempt on internet forums.

The raw facts aren’t encouraging either. The most regular opinion pollster, YouGov, gives us rock bottom ratings. Although our share of the vote went up a bit in the Oldham East and Saddlesworth by-election, we did appallingly in Barnsley Central.

But I’m not discouraged, because there’s another way to find out what voters think. Go and ask them.

I’ve canvassed in Oldham East and Saddlesworth, Cambridge, and Barnsley. The response varied, but where …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 36 Comments

What the think tanks are saying: Is this the end of National Insurance?

The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) is a Conservative think tank, founded by Margaret Thatcher and Keith Joseph in 1974. In November last year, it published an article by David Martin entitled Abolish NICs – towards a more honest, fairer and simpler system .

In the forward, Jill Kirby (at the time Director of the CPS), said: “National Insurance (NI) has become income tax by another name. Yet… it is riddled with inconsistencies”

Do the arguments presented in David Martin’s paper indicate the beginning of the end for National Insurance Contributions? Certainly, the arguments are pretty compelling.

The paper summarises …

Posted in What do the academics say? | Tagged , and | 13 Comments

What the think tanks are saying: The IFS on the Universal Credit

The Welfare Reform Bill was introduced to Parliament on the 17th February. It involves the biggest changes to the welfare system in at least 20 years, probably a lot longer. It includes the Universal Credit, intended to significantly reduce the poverty trap, by making it clearer to those on benefits that they would be better off in work.

A month ago, the IFS published “Universal Credit: much to welcome, but impact on incentives mixed”. Well worth reading. Here is a brief overview of what they say:

  • benefits will remain the same as under the present system

Posted in What do the academics say? | Tagged , , , and | 22 Comments

Opinion: Interesting proposal, Mr Assange, but when will you let us vote on it?

Wikileaks has a theory, that “if acting in a just manner is easier than acting in an unjust manner, most actions will be just.”

Their argument has been strengthened by what has been hailed the “first Wikileaks revolution” in Tunisia. For those who want the corrupt autocracies in the middle East replaced with democracies, this may be seen as a ringing endorsement of Wikileaks.

But is it as simple as that?

Wikileaks talks about the “unintended consequences of failing to publish”, but, of course, there can also be unintended consequences to publishing.

When diplomats of a democratic country send frank briefings …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 18 Comments

What the think tanks are saying: The IPPR on “How much is Labour to blame?”

(On 14 January 2011, the IPPR published a paper by Tony Dolphin, Senior Economist and Associate Director for Economic Policy at the IPPR entitled Debts and Deficits: How much is Labour to blame?)

Tony Dolphin makes a key point in his paper, that Labour did not seem to realise how much it was relying on revenues from sources associated with rampant lending, such as the City and the housing market.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t develop this point.

Using the Treasury figures for the budget deficit, between 2007 and 2009, the deficit leapt from £37bn to £123bn. These figures are cyclically adjusted, …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 26 Comments
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