Over the last few weeks I found myself, rather unexpectedly, fulfilling the role of General Election candidate for the Liberal Democrats in the constituency of Luton South. I was initially reluctant to do this, mostly for reasons of personal circumstance and the fact that I have become a bit distant from partisan politics, but after…

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Some news that is both personal and political. Somewhat unexpectedly, I have been chosen to be the candidate for the Liberal Democrats in Luton South in the coming General Election. Whilst have been largely absent from partisan politics recently, at a time when liberal values seem under attack from all sides, and Britain faces the…

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Voted in the Electoral Reform Society’s council el…

Voted in the Electoral Reform Society’s council elections this morning. @electoralreform Encouraged by the wide range of choice.

Congratulations to the fabulous @CllrEricaKemp on …

Congratulations to the fabulous @CllrEricaKemp on her CBE in the new yr honours.

I’ve used the example of the South Shields constituency in the North East several times when writing about the issue of safe seats and how they make a powerful argument for electoral reform (The new MP for South Shields has been chosenI live in a Rotten Borough, and The South Shields by-election and Lazy Labour) so I thought I’d post this. I will remind you that it is the only seat in existence since the Great Reform Act of 1832 to have never elected a Conservative MP and that the Labour party have held the seat without interruption since 1935.

This video of a report from Channel 4 News of West Country Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg visiting South Shields is mostly a curiosity. I usually find Rees-Mogg intensely irritating — but in this to be fair he does come across as a bit more of an engaging personality. The video doesn’t tell us anything more profound than that the Conservative Party doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of getting anyone elected there — but it is a useful illustration of why our political parties in effect abandon parts of the country.

Acts of Union and Disunion

In the run up to the referendum on Scottish independence this year BBC Radio 4 commissioned Linda Colley, Professor of History at the University of Princeton, to deliver this series of talks on the history of the United Kingdom. It examines the forces that have pulled the people and nations of the UK together and pushed them apart.

I cannot recommend this series highly enough to anyone who is interested in understanding the historical background to modern debates about devolution, independence, constitutional reform and how we govern ourselves. While you may not agree with some of Professor Colley’s conclusions —  although I think she makes tremendous sense — what I think it does do brilliantly is establish an authentic historical context for considering such questions in a way that exposes the huge amount of myth making and false assumptions that so often accompany these debates.

The series is split into several episodes, all of which should remain available for at least a year, but there are three omnibus editions which you can find here: Episode OneEpisode TwoEpisode Three