Thursday, 30 December 2010

Thank you and not goodbye

Since I started this blog in October 2009, more than 5,000 people have taken the trouble to visit it, with more than a thousand people visiting more than once - thank you. Whether these count as high readership figures, I don't know, but I've enjoyed it and found it a useful way to maintain a shop window as a Parliamentary candidate. I was selected to be the Liberal Democrat candidate for Hendon for the General Election just gone, which means that I remain the de facto candidate until tomorrow - when the calendar year ends. So I'm going to take this opportunity to re-design and re-name this blog, so that it's no longer about the period surrounding the 2010 General Election, but is instead about my views more generally.

I'll still be blogging from a Lib Dem perspective, but I'll be writing about whatever interests or amuses me, perhaps at greater length, rather than confining myself to party politics. I'll be changing the name of this existing blog, rather than starting a new one, so it should be easy to find me, plus I'll put a final post on the old blog once I've settled on a name for the new one, explaining what the new one is called. By the way, I also blog on the website of the Jewish Chronicle, where you'll see that my postings typically attract comments that encapsulate the high standard of Socratic debate that got blogs the high reputation that they enjoy today. I especially like the fact that my suggestion that these people should stop being so rude to each other attracted 98 somewhat bracing responses.

I stood in Hendon not only because I would, ultimately, have liked to have been elected (however arithmetically unlikely that prospect ever was), but also because I thought that I would find it both enjoyable and interesting. I certainly did, and I hope that even if I did not get as many votes as I would have liked, that I made a useful contribution to the debate - I certainly achieved what I wanted in terms of media coverage. I am very grateful to everyone who helped on the campaign.

I would like to single out three experiences of being a candidate, if I may. One is that London Underground (LU) has, I believe, massively reduced its programme of weekend closures on the Northern Line. They would not have done this without the pressure from politicians like myself, with the Lib Dem London Assembly Members at the forefront. My campaign on this got some local media coverage (adding to the pressure on LU) and I actually visited Tube Lines' depot to hear more about the Northern Line works, prompting other Lib Dem candidates to make similar visits. If any of this led a single person to experience less inconvenience from excessive weekend closures than would otherwise have been the case, then I am enormously gratified.

The second is persuading senior managers at First Capital Connect (FCC) to meet me to discuss problems with Thameslink, with FCC also informing me of their compensation for passengers after last year's problems - a campaign that made the front page of the Hendon Times. Lots of people were campaigning on this issue, but I am pleased to have done my bit and I hope that the service has continued to improve.

Lastly, among the many enjoyable meetings at which I was invited to speak, I was honoured to represent my party at an Extraordinary Meeting in support of Burma's National League for Democracy. At this meeting, I spoke to Radio Free Asia for broadcast in Burma. The interviewer asked me what it might mean for Burma if the Liberal Democrats entered government. I explained that we Lib Dems would take our long-standing commitment to human rights in Burma into government if given the chance to do so, and I was frankly proven right, as the Minister for Human Rights at the Foreign Office is now Jeremy Browne, a Liberal Democrat, who has taken a strong interest in this issue. Is it possible that anyone in Burma, listening to this radio service illegally, heard what I said and got something from it? I guess I'll never know, but I'm still pleased to have done what little I could for this most important cause.

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