Friday, June 16, 2006

Amongst small businesses and local good causes

Today's House Points from Liberal Democrat News, none of which will come as much of a surprise to anyone who has been reading Liberal England this week.

Do dare

The man on the bus was wearing a “Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future” T-shirt. It did not seem a good idea to tell him I was working for the Emperor Ming.

It’s like that at the Bromley and Chislehurst by-election. When I arrived at our headquarters, I was given a delivery round and told which bus to catch to reach it.

From what I saw from the 162, the constituency covers a swathe of pleasant suburbia. Parts are almost rural, with cricket rounds and golf courses. But as so often in the South East, just as you are thinking how pleasant it is, they have built more houses.

Yet the Tory majority may be more vulnerable than it looks. For Orpington is the seat that has traditionally been most keenly contested by all parties in this part of the world. It has held the same importance for generations of Liberals that Glastonbury holds for hippies. But this time we have a strong local candidate in Bromley and Chislehurst, and with a big effort it may turn out to be promising territory too.

You can find the Lib Dem HQ next to Bromley South station. If you are puzzled when you arrive: yes, we are in that swish new office block. You can find us on the first floor amongst small businesses and local good causes.

It makes a change from the derelict shops we usually inhabit. Is this the new professionalism the Emperor promised us?

* * *

Meanwhile at Westminster, everyone is furious about John Reid’s slogan “Don’t moan – take action. It's your street too.” The left saw it as a call for vigilante action. For the Tories David Davis said: “It is brazen beyond belief for the Government to try to shift responsibility on to the shoulders of the public.”

But is it so absurd? Our problem is that so many people hesitate to do anything about others who cause a nuisance. The more we insist they involve the authorities, the less confident they will feel.

It is silly to call any attempt to be a good citizen vigilantism. And it is equally silly to pretend the state can solve every dispute between neighbours. So don’t moan – take action. It’s your street too.

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