Monday, March 08, 2021

Andrew George to stand for Cornwall Council

Andrew George, who was the Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives between 1997 and 2015, is to stand for Cornwall Council in May local elections.

Cornish Stuff reports that he is to contest the new seat of Heamoor, Gulval, Ludgvan, Zennor, Morvah and Madron.

One of his opponents will be the Conservative who sat for the previous ward that covered much of this part of West Penwith.

Cornwall is currently run by a coalition of Lib Dems and Independents, though the Conservatives are the largest party on the council.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

REM: Near Wild Heaven

Can it really be 30 years - half a lifetime - since REM became for a while the world's most popular band?

Near Wild Heaven, a minor hit in the UK, is to be found on the band's 1991 album Out of Time.

All Music pronounces it:

a rare hit of sunshine pop smack in the middle of one of R.E.M.'s darker albums, and unlike the thematically similar "Shiny Happy People," [Mike] Mills' wide-eyed declarations of love manage to sound uplifting without being smarmy. 

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Exploring Great Oxendon's railway tunnels

Those nice people from Trekking & Towpaths have returned to the old Market Harborough to Northampton line to explore the railway tunnels at Great Oxendon.

They have already covered the tunnels at Kelmarsh, which lie three miles to the south.

Like Kelmarsh, Oxendon has two parallel single-line tunnels. The up tunnel carries the Brampton Valley Way, but Trekking & Towpaths first explore the abandon down bore. There are some striking mineral colours on the walls and the accompanying music is suitably dramatic.

Incidentally, the line from Market Harborough to Great Oxendon climbed a steep gradient - you could hear the diesel locomotives slogging up it all across the town. On the first night back from university the sound would keep me awake.

Friday, March 05, 2021

Sefton Lib Dems put up a big tent

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Welcome to the Liberal Democrat and Progressive Alliance Group.

In Your Area reports an interesting development from Southport:
Sefton’s Liberal Democrat Group is opening its membership to progressive independent councillors as it aims to provide stronger opposition.

The group’s leader, Cllr John Pugh, says the decision is designed to enable more effective scrutiny of the Labour-run council as well as to welcome new people and ideas.

The Lib Dems are currently the largest opposition group on the council, ahead of the Conservatives and Independents, and Cllr Pugh says it would welcome any current or future councillor who shares a progressive agenda and similar values.

As a result of welcoming the new members ahead of the local elections on May 6, the group is to be renamed the Liberal Democrat and Progressive Alliance Group.
It goes on to quote John Pugh, who was Lib Dem MP for Southport between 2001 and 2017, as saying:
“Working together outside the party political bubble may be a risky step but it is certainly worth making the attempt and we are prepared to make it.“

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Welland Valley Rail Partnership calls for Rutland reopening


A short stretch of reopened railway line in Rutland could reconnect the communities of Kettering, Corby, Stamford, Peterborough together with Luffenham, Whittlesey, March and Wisbech.

That's the claim of the Welland Valley Rail Partnership, which describes its plans like this:

The largest piece of infrastructure is a 3.5 mile section of track between Seaton and South Luffenham. This section is a small part of the Rugby & Stamford railway, opened in the 1800s, closed by Beeching in the 1960s.

This track is required because trains coming from Corby in the south can’t turn right at Manton junction to head towards Peterborough ...

There are 8 houses on the historic trackbed, but we have identified two alternative routes that would avoid any houses. 

The next stage of the project would be a feasibility study to evaluate these alternatives running past South Luffenham, along with the viability of the entire project.

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Six of the Best 997

"Many Liberal Democrats don’t know that the late great Paddy Ashdown leaned heavily on the concept of a Basic Income as a fundamental component of his 'Citizens' Britain', arguing that 'every step we take towards a basic income liberates power in the hands of the citizen.'" Daniel Mermelstein believes universal basic income is a fundamentally liberal policy and a vote winner.

Shane Burke says the status quo in undercover policing threatens political rights.

"It seemed obvious to me that despite what everyone said, schools were not primarily about education. Formal learning made up a minimal fraction of the activity there (and the part adults later find the least memorable). The real purpose and priority of the school system was to instil the habit of obedience, of deference to our superiors. Learning was to be discouraged if it interfered with this end." Lorna Finlayson explains why she walked out of school at 13.

Henry Grabar looks at what New York could do if it took a quarter of its roads away from cars.

"Upon arrival in Scotland, Heron was thrown in for his debut against Morton in a League Cup tie; the Jamaican adding Celtic’s second goal in a 2-0 win with a 20-yard first-half strike." Did you know Gil Scott-Heron's father played for Celtic? Craig Stephen will tell you all about him.

Stefan Sagrott looks at Edinburgh's Innocent Railway.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Dempsey Arlott-John wins Name of the Day

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Cricket fans of a certain age will be amused to learn that there is a promising young player on the books of Leicester City called Dempsey Arlott-John.

Young person's voice: I don't get it.

Liberal England replies: Listen to this programme about the great John Arlott.

Write a guest post for Liberal England


I welcome guest posts on Liberal England and I'm happy to publish posts on subjects far beyond the Lib Dems and politics.

If you would like to write a guest post for this blog, please send me an email so we can discuss your idea.

Monday, March 01, 2021

Liberal England guest blogger to lead partnership to save curlews

Photo: Andreas Trepte
Leading conservation organisations have come together to launch the Curlew Recovery Partnership.

Urgent action is needed. Eurasian Curlew is one of the most pressing bird conservation priorities in the UK, where nearly half the breeding population has been lost over the last 25 years and where range contraction has seen curlews disappear from many traditional sites.

This partnership is the outcome of two summits hosted by Prince Charles. It will provide coordination and support for those engaged in curlew conservation, while also providing benefits for other threatened species and habitats and helping people connect with nature. 

Its chair is Mary Colwell, who once wrote a guest post for this blog on the case for a GCSE in Natural History.

The call of the curlew - described by Prince Charles as "hauntingly evocative" - reminds me in particular of my discovery of the Shropshire Hills in the late 1980s. When I heard it, particularly in the Stiperstones, I knew I was approaching somewhere remote.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Rosalind Franklin and Herbert Samuel feature in Trivial Connection of the Day

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Because of sexism and her early death, it took years for the contribution of Rosalind Franklin to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA to be properly acknowledged.

Her latest posthumous accolade is our prestigious Trivial Connection of the Day Award, because Franklin's great uncle was the Liberal Party leader Herbert Samuel.

Cupid's Inspiration: Yesterday Has Gone

Here's a song that anyone who likes sixties music will know, even if many will be pushed to remember which band had a hit with it.

Yesterday Has Gone was originally recorded by Little Anthony and the Imperials, though the strong vocal by Terry Rice-Milton makes it reasonable to prefer this cover version.

What really interests me about Cupid's Inspiration is that they came from one of my favourite nearby towns: Stamford in Lincolnshire.

And to prove it, here is a 2019 story from the Stamford Mercury:

Original members of the Sixties band Cupid's Inspiration are returning to their roots with a show at Stamford Corn Exchange Theatre.

Lead singer Terry Rice-Milton and bass guitarist Laughton James will take to the stage with a new line-up as part of the Sixties Invasion show.

The Stamford-based band shot to fame in 1968 when their hit Yesterday's Gone reached number four in the charts. Their follow up song My World reached number 33 a few months later.

The band has performed on and off with various line ups over the years but as a Stamfordian Terry is looking forward to playing again in his home town.

He said: "It means a lot to come back. A couple of years ago I remember pulling up at the traffic lights and hearing someone shout my name.

"It's strange to still be recognised after 50 years!"

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Six of the Best 996

Sally Dawson pays tribute to Maureen Colquhoun, Britain’s first openly lesbian MP, who died earlier this month. She sat for Northampton North between February 1974 and 1979.

The coming Holyrood elections should be about the life draining from Scotland's hills and glens and the need for rewilding, argues Adam Ramsay.

"Politically speaking, Popper had lived through much. He had seen the dissolution of the old Austro-Hungarian monarchy. He was part of the subsequent intellectual revolution that, among other things, produced the Vienna Circle, of which he was a peripheral part. He witnessed first-hand the rise of the Nazis and, with equal dismay, the rise of Communism." David Cohen remembers Karl Popper.

Caitlin Green looks at the evidence that there were people named Muhammad in medieval England.

Adam Chapman studies an apparently innocent landscape by Ronald Lampitt and finds a wealth of information about the changes to British agriculture after the second world war.

"If Leeds was somewhere to escape from then the Yorkshire Dales were somewhere to escape to. Jake Thackray’s Swaledale was similar to James Joyce’s Dublin: a quasi-magical place rooted in a real geography containing the world’s multitudes." Will Ainsley celebrates the genius of Jake Thackray.