Chief Exec of Luton Culture is awarded an MBE

20111231-184523.jpgI am extremely pleased to see that Maggie Appleton, the Chief Executive of Luton Culture and my good friend, was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List yesterday. She was given the honour “For services to Museums and Heritage”.

This is a thoroughly deserved recognition of not only her leadership of Luton Culture over the last few years, but also her role in establishing the success of the Stockwood Discovery Centre, and her career working in the museums service in Luton and elsewhere. I am delighted for Maggie but I also hope this is seen as a boost for the whole of Luton Culture as the organisation faces some difficult challenges.

Some good news to start the New Year!

Good riddance 2011 Welcome in 2012

As far as I’m concerned 2011 has been a rubbish year for me personally. It has been characterised by frustration, anxiety and a fair bit of melancholy. I often felt uncertain what my role was and what I was trying to achieve. I lost an election in circumstances I found very frustrating. I’ve been constantly dogged by financial worries and have had periods of gloom and lethargy. I also turned 40.

Before this all sounds like too much of a whinge there has been some good stuff to. Not least my becoming an uncle again.

I have learned some important lessons this year and I have ended it in a far more positive frame of mind, and more comfortable in my skin, that I started it. I also should record my gratitude to those colleagues, friends and family who have helped and supported me this year. Often when I haven’t been the easiest person to get on with. I am very grateful.

But in all honesty I’m glad to see the back of it.

So I am looking forward to 2012 with the expectation that it will be a far more positive year.

My overwhelming priority for next year is to concentrate on work and business, and in doing so I hope to see a significant improvement in my financial circumstances. I have some half formed ideas and plans about how to do this, but I recognise that, at least for the first half of the year, I will need to do some serious graft.

Beyond that, given the need to prioritise, I’m not making many other plans. Since the local elections, with one or two exceptions, I’ve largely withdrawn from political activity. I felt I needed a break. This is likely to continue for most of 2012 – it will give me some time to work out what I want to do next. However, I have made one or two commitments and intend to spend some time writing and thinking about political issues.

Finally, if things do improve on the work front, I’d like to be a lot more social in 2012 than I was in 2011. I may even throw the odd party!

LDHG Meeting: Peace, Reform and Liberation

I was disappointed to have missed the Liberal Democrat History Group‘s fringe at the September conference this year as I was at the Love Luton fringe meeting instead. However, yesterday I was able to catch up on it thanks to the wonders of the internet.

I’m glad I did. It is a bit special.

A strong and well balanced panel gave a set of fascinating contributions to a discussion on the full sweep of the history of the Liberal Party to what came across as a rather high spirited audience. Julian Glover makes you wish all Guardian journalists were more like him. Paddy Ashdown was on great form with a rousing performance littered with classic quotes. But the real star is Shirley Williams who is scholarly and thought-provoking in equal measure.

Well worth taking the time to watch:

Random Thoughts 13: November and December

Given my recent blogging hiatus we’ve missed a number of things I could have included in my Random Thoughts series of posts. So here is a bumper catch up of thoughts I should have posted over the last two months.

Various thoughts I should have posted in November

At the beginning of the month I found this handy flowchart for working out where you should post your status on social networking sites. Much truth in graphical form.

The organisers of London 2012 have released a series of Olympic posters designed by contemporary artists. I liked the nod to classicism in Chris Ofili’s poster and the sentiment in Tracey Emin’s, but my favourite is the Rachel Whiteread.

In local news it was announced that Bedfordshire is to get a new Lord-Lieutenant. The Queen has appointed Helen Nellis to succeed Sir Samuel Whitbread when he retires in February. Another local change in personnel will happen next year at the University of Bedfordshire when long serving Vice Chancellor Les Ebdon retires in September.

Other happy local news is that there is a new baby elephant at Whipsnade Zoo. The baby was born a couple of weeks ago after a 700 day pregnancy.

Various thoughts I should have posted in December

I rather liked this Magna Carta word cloud; hat tip to Liberal Burblings.

I had a good chuckle at Danny Alexander’s choice of Christmas card.

Far less self aware is this horribly self-pitying interview with Mid Beds MP Nadine Dorries.

There was good news on the development of our local infrastructure with the Government’s announcement that it was giving the go ahead for the first phase of the proposed rail link between Oxford and Bedford. This should have positive knock on benefits for Luton.


Now the BBC thinks I am Scottish

One thing that I have made frequent reference to on this blog this year has been the story of how I became poster boy for Lib Dem misery.

I spoke at the time of my fear “that from now on when anyone at the BBC wants some stock footage of a Lib Dem looking miserable it will be that picture of me looking at my phone”. Well that fear has become more real than I could have imagined over the following months, and they are at it again, although this time for some reason they seem to think I am Scottish.

This screen grab is taken from a review of the Liberal Democrats’ year on the BBC website – but I think I have been appearing on the news channel as well.

Margaret Moran may be too ill to face trail

My blogging has been rather light of late, but in the gap between Christmas and New Year I thought I’d try and catch up with a few posts. While it does seem a bit unpleasant to start with this in the festive season I feel I ought to start with the Luton related political news and the most significant story is the latest in the Margaret Moran saga. Something that I have been blogging about regularly here.

The news broke in the middle of December that legal arguments had been heard that the disgraced former Luton South MP, who is facing charges related to her expenses, may not be well enough to face trail because of the state of her mental health. Apparently she has been seen by several psychiatrists and that their opinion is that she is “unfit to plead”. There will be a hearing in the new year to decide wether the scheduled trail will now take place.

More here:

Mentally ill Moran is ‘unfit to plead’

Fitness to plead hearing for ex-MP

Margaret Moran ‘unfit to stand trial’

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