Thursday, 30 December 2010


When Liverpool lost to Wolverhampton here last evening at Anfield, the Liverpool Manager Roy Hodgson was quite right to point out that to say that the players' performance was unacceptable was quite out of order. It is, at the day's end, a game of football.

I love football, but when fans allow themselves to become so subjective in their assessment of a team's performance then they themselves are at fault, not the players.

There is far too much these days given to so called unacceptable performance (as opposed to unacceptable behaviour).

I cannot remember a time until now, that managers and coaches are sacked within months or even weeks of appointment. And this is endemic throughout our society. It smacks of intolerance. A teacher's response is unacceptable, the police response is unacceptable, the supermarket manager's dealing with a matter is unacceptable, the solicitor's handling of the file is unacceptable, and so it goes on right across every facet of local and national life.

When the Prime Minister pointed out that the students' behaviour at the Parliament Square Riot was unacceptable, Mr Cameron was using the term correctly and as a damning indictment on our young people who had allowed themselves to spiral into crime and disorder.

The term 'unacceptable' is a powerful term in diplomacy and used sparingly.

If the term is applied willy nilly to every poor sports result then that truly reflects the intolerance that has beset the British People.

Get things in perspective. You're asking your team to kick a ball around a pitch and into the net. Just that and nothing more. It's called sport. You're not fighting a battle or waging a war. If you think you are then you've lost the plot. Get real!

Ian Bradley Marshall

Friday, 24 December 2010

Lightness of Foot?

With reality TV increasingly making demands on public figures, it is inevitable that participation is going to sometimes backfire. I guess these shows can be fun for the participants as well as the viewers, but there is always a price to be paid.

In my article 'Parliament Square' I was genuinely pleased to refer to strong government and referral to the business secretary as being one of the four key strengths. They say a week is a long time in politics and this must surely be true for Mr Cable. Lightness of foot on the dance floor is one thing. Clodhopping through Westminster is quite another and I have never been keen when a person feels that they are perhaps indispensible.

I suspect that Mr Cable's view of himself as holding a nuclear option must have been minor in comparison to that delivered to him by the Deputy Prime Minister, not to mention the Prime Minister and of course his cabinet and party or coalition partners. I had genuinely believed that Mr Cable was a man to be trusted. That trust was misplaced and I would even go so far as to say that when the reshuffle comes about, then perhaps then is the time to return Mr Cable to the back benches.

Regardless of what the Opposition says, we do have good government for the first time in several years. And it takes guts and tenacity to carry through the policies that are being advocated and implemented by the PM, DPM and Chancellor and, until last week, the Business Secretary. This good governance is seen in the speed within which Downing Street has reacted to Mr Cable's stupidity, some would say arrogance, others would say impudence. Overnight a huge part of his department has been transferred to the Secretary of State for Culture - the reality and seriousness of this can be seen in that it requires the movement of some 70 civil servants!

Many years ago, I was faced with a member of staff who felt he was indispensible. He played his card and threatened resignation. I accepted his arguments and said that I agreed. He sat back in the armchair opposite my desk. I thanked him for his work and explained that in accepting his arguments for change, much of which was already being implemented, I accepted of course his resignation.

There was some spluttering and exclaiming that 'you cannot do that!'

"On the contrary Mr {} I can, I will and I have done." And my own commanding officer accepted my decision without hesitation, gave me his unconditional support, and thanked me for keeping my nerve.

It was a salutary lesson to all. Let none of us think that we cannot be replaced.

That is what I believe the British People will do by and large now. They do see the strong and effective leadership from both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and will endorse the decisions made.

But I make no bones about the fact that I have not enjoyed writing this piece this evening, for Mr Cable has earned my respect over the last 18 months and then thrown it back. Like many others in this Country, I am not impressed by public figures becoming figures of entertainment when they are in the job of governing the country. They can do that when they retire.

On a separate matter, it is unfortunate that the Chancellor made that comment in the House. I do not however accept that it was a deliberate homophobic remark. So to those who insist on arguing otherwise I say, shut up, get on with your job; stop making a mountain out of a mole hill.

The Government must not, however, be complacent. It is very worrying to see that in their haste to sell off Royal Mail they have left a loophole that could see a foreign owner in due course remove the Queen's Profile from our postage stamps; and to read too that BAA is owned by a Spanish family based company, and that E-ON too is foreign owned and also the former P&O Line.

Ian Bradley Marshall
22 December 2010

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Within Seconds of Drawing Weapons

So reads the lead article in the Saturday Edition of 'The Times' of London. How fast have events moved in the last 24 hours as the evidence is gathered, footage obtained, and the stark report by Sean O'Neill and Valentine Low on page 10:

Armed police were moments from drawing their guns when a protester jabbed a stick through the open window of a royal limousine and attacked the Duchess of Cornwall.

The Duchess was visibly shaken when she was prodded in the ribs as she tried to close the window of the Rolls-Royce in which she and the Prince of Wales were travelling on Thursday.

The royal couple's car was pelted with paintballs and other missiles, had a window cracked and was repeatedly kicked by demonstrators in Regent Street shouting "Off with their heads" and "Scum".

As I watched the day's events live on Thursday I would not have even comprehended this scene and would have said to anyone suggesting that it could happen, that they were being fanciful. As the Editor writes in today's Times, in other less liberal regimes those thugs would have been shot.

It came home to me this afternoon when meeting for a coffee in the Walker Art Gallery, a friend commented, 'You know, if the police had shot someone or more in that particular incident it would have been entirely justified and it would be no good the parents complaining of over the top responses from the police. This is after all the future Head of State.'

Can one imagine what would have happened in the USA if the President's Motorcade was similarly attacked? It does not bare thinking about.

For my part, I will say this to all those who wish to argue about the savagery of the tuition fees, and particularly to the students. You have lost ground and you have brought upon yourselves the very considerable anger of the British People. All of us recognise that many protesters pleaded with the thugs to stop their violence. But what hits home today is the refusal of the leaders of the Students, despite vigorous questioning on BBC News, even offering an apology for the appalling behaviour.

So I stand four square with the Editor of The Times in stating that in the future violent demonstrations that we know we are going to face, that 'the police must be far more ruthless and efficient'.

It will be a long time before I am prepared to listen to students. We have five universities here in Liverpool and an enormous student population. I suggest that this group of discredited young people get themselves back onside with the British People, stop belly-aching and prove that you are at University to learn and to enrich this Nation, something which, sadly, many students throughout this country do not do.

Let us hope that with the Government's policy will come the weeding out of stupid and meaningless degrees; that students, when they decide to embark upon a university education, will think seriously about the task.

In the meantime, the Prime Minister has set the tone clearly and decisively; that no stone will be left unturned in bringing those thugs and anarchists who undermined the very purpose of the genuine protesters, to justice.

I am rightly very angry, for the young people whose cause I have always championed, have let me down personally.

Ian Bradley Marshall

11 December 2010

Friday, 10 December 2010

Parliament Square - What Price the Rule of Law!

Yesterday I spent the day watching with an increasing sense of anxiety the events in Parliament Square. I did not like what I watched either side of the lines.

Obviously, part of me will always stand with my colleagues in the enforcement of the rule of law about which I feel passionately; it is the heartbeat of the British People, of our parliamentary democracy, of our whole way of life.

Watching in real time the first incursion of mounted officers, I was frustrated, shocked even, that the BBC commentator did not notice that one horse was riderless, that clearly there must be a rider on the ground; the helicopter camera caught it all, and yet the BBC commentator rabbited on oblivious to what was actually happening on the ground.

I can only put this down to the fact that having been a policeman on the lines during the bread riots, and having undertaken riot training as a 19 year old constable with mounted officers, I was watching with a very different perspective. As a horseman I know too just how serious it is when horse and rider become detached, and in Parliament Square yesterday the matter was very serious.

It took some 12 minutes for the BBC commentators to refer to the incident.

Much of the protest was of course peaceful, and the police have openly reported that. But they came under increasing pressure, attack even, from a persistent group of people that acted with only one intention - violence and anarchy.

That last word seemed strong yesterday even as the afternoon deteriorated to the formal mounted police charge. 3 hours later, when HRH The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall found themselves caught up in the continuing lawlessness, I admit that my stomach turned. What if that paint had been a bomb? What if the paint thrower had been a suicide bomber? What if any of the people kicking the car and smashing the windows had been snipers?

WHAT if it had not been the Prince of Wales, but rather The Queen?

I was relieved at the very strong, no nonsense announcement by the Prime Minister. We will have no truck with thugs who are hell bent on violence and disorder. They will face the full weight of the law. They will be brought to justice, and some will go to prison.

As regards parliamentary democracy, I can well understand the countless liberal democrat voters feeling betrayed; but to keep pronouncing that they will never again vote for their MP is quite bluntly stupid and naive.

Get real.

If the Government was a one party government, then of course you hold the MPs to their Manifesto promises. But with a Coalition Government, the People themselves have moved the goal posts and instructed Parliament through the ballot box to form a Coalition. That means that there will be concessions and compromises. And quite plainly, if narrow minded voters cannot grasp this fundamental democratic principle, then I would say that the Liberal Democrats are most definitely better off without them.

Communism is inflexible and rigid. Democracy is flexible and goes with the flow. When I visited Bosnia in 1998 as a guest of the UN, my host, the British Police Commander of the small town of Bcko explained to me the problem of dealing with this inbred inflexibility with the local police force which had formerly been part of the former Soviet Union.

He explained in candid terms how the officers were unable to use their initiative in dealing with a road side accident because the incident did not fit perfectly one of the examples in the manual; therefore they must obtain prior approval of the commissar some eighty or so kilometres away. It would have been amusing had it not been for the fact that the incident involved very seriously injured members of the public.

To return to Parliament Square. The Police are absolutely right to use the tactic of 'kettling'. In the 1970s we did similarly. We would form a spearhead and the spear would move forward into the crowd, then break to the left and right, encircling the demonstrators left and right, thus enabling us to break up the demonstration, arrest those breaking the law and allowing the peaceful protesters to do just that, to protest peacefully and out of danger. And to assist this, we were flanked by police horses.

Undoubtedly, some police officers will have over-reacted and I would hope that where this proves to be the case beyond all reasonable doubt, not, as some would want, on the lesser proof of the balance of probabilities, then the correct action will be taken and future training will emphasise still more the need to keep control regardless of how one is baited and antagonised by demonstrators.

In defence of the police I will say this. They were working under extreme provocation yesterday. As the BBC Reporter Ben Brown repeatedly reminded us and showed us, it is no flippant matter when blocks of concrete are being broken up and then hurled into police lines. Likewise, the wooden and metal shafts and poles thrown like spears at the mounted officers.

At the day's end, the rule of law prevailed. We have a very strong prime minister and deputy prime minister, the business secretary and the home secretary. We have good government.

And perhaps the greatest example of all is the young man's 'on the street' observation to the BBC as he reported the royal car incident; that at one point the Duchess of Cornwall was smiling and talking to the protesters, and which we saw demonstrated minutes later when they arrived at the Theatre for the Royal Variety Performance.

Their Royal Highnesses kept their cool and that was a tremendous demonstration of leadership and example to the people, the exact same cool demonstrated by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth throughout the War.

Lessons must be learned from this. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has made this clear. So too the Home Secretary. Now let us get on with the country's good governance, a matter which, despite the siren voices here at home, is being reported by the international media.

This is London. This is the mother of parliaments. We will show all how we deal with the events of yesterday and not in the manner of less tolerant regimes.

Ian Bradley Marshall

9 December 2010

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Corruption and Prejudice

Last week I remember watching with pleasure the interviews with the Prime Minister, David Cameron, HRH Prince William and Mr David Beckham, and the obvious work being done to secure the nomination by FIFA to England to host the 2018 World Cup.

With the selection of Russia and Qatar to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup respectively, I can only surmise that the Panorama Programme hit the nail on the head in exposing the corrupt nature of this long recognised group of people.

I commend the decision of the acting FA Chairman Roger Burden to withdraw his application for the permanent post over England's 2018 World Cup. It is discomforting and salutary to read that his work as FA chairman would have required him to also play an important role in liaising with FIFA, the governing body, but more disturbingly his broadcast comment that "I am not prepared to deal with people with whom I cannot trust and I have withdrawn my candidacy."

It pleases me that there is considerable disquiet across the country, and that FIFA members must now be comprehending perhaps for the first time, the contempt with which they are held by the general public.

To use the jargon of the back street, the two bids were a total stitch up and I am glad that the Prime Minister made plain and visible his anger. I do not like people (and I have experienced this personally this year) who look one direct in the eye with an absolute assurance and guarantee that they will decide in one's favour, only to discover that even as they were giving this assurance, they were already decided on the opposite course of action.

Let us now work towards achieving the greatest success in 2018 and 2022 and at the same time deal with this discredited body of people, FIFA. They have brought shame upon themselves and upon the Game. They have chosen two countries whose record on human rights leaves them being weighed in the balances and found wanting.

For England I would say this. Let the righteous anger we felt this week now transpose into an absolute determination to win both the 2018 and the 2022 World Cups.

We have the ability and the funds and the technical expertise to do it. We also have outstanding leadership at the top.

We have something else too. Put a great cause before the people, whether it be Britain as a whole, or in this case, England, and something curious happens. The people rally forth and refuse to be beaten but strive only for one thing - total victory and being able to prove that we were right to object so strongly to this week's decision.

Ian Bradley Marshall

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Standing Apart - in Europe but not part of Europe!

Several years ago an argument raged as to whether we should give up Stirling and join the Euro. Eventually, the government of the day fixed a test whereby it would only commit itself to joining the Euro if five tests were satisfied. At no time prior, nor since then, have all five points of the test been attained. Result? We still stand with our own Currency and are thankfully not part of the Eurozone.

In retrospect, regardless of the ups and downs of premiership, I think most people on all sides of the political arena would agree that the then Chancellor, Gordon Brown, was absolutely right in laying down those five elements of the test.

It is frightening to see what has now happened across the water in a country for which I have great respect; and regardless of what some might think or say, the Chancellor's reasons for assisting Ireland this week certainly resonated with me. The Irish People most assuredly deserve assistance from us. Yes, it will cost us dearly, but as we saw even at the height of The Troubles, it wasn't the vast majority of the People of Ireland either south or north of the border that were in contention with us. On my frequent visits to Belfast I have always seen another side to Ireland, and Northern Ireland, and either side of the border the surprise of the majority at the influence and savagery of the vociferous minority.

We must stand by Ireland and we must also look very carefully at our relationship with the European Union. It is worrying to see laws being enacted on our behalf that undermine our national sovereignty. It is one thing for the United Kingdom to have devolved government and to see the sovereignty of Parliament perhaps weakened, but that is the choice of the British People and with the overall objective, hopefully, of protecting the foundation of the Union itself. I know that some in Scotland might take issue with that, but I find even there that the majority still wish to remain within the Union regardless of how the SNP might present the opposite view.

As regards our Currency though, I am absolutely sure that the people will be heaving a sigh of relief this week that we are independent.

It is extraordinary to read so many reports and columns in the media whereby leaving the EU is now seen as not only possible but perhaps even probable in the long term. I am reminded of that great Russian City St Petersburg, formerly Leningrad. For the greater part of my life the latter was its name, and when I studied history I always felt sad that this ancient city had lost its title and assumed the name of a blank stark mausoleum. Not in my lifetime did I ever expect to see its name restored. And there will have been millions who will have lived and died within the period that this city was known as Leningrad. They would have known no different, and yet on the line of history, that period of some 70 years would be seen as the tiniest blip, something not even worth talking about. One can imagine a lecturer in years to come talking of the City... "and of course St Petersburg, two thousand years old, except for a few short years when it was known as Leningrad after the founder of Russian Communism before that too collapsed..." and a student might assign it a line in an essay to gain an extra mark.

So too with the EU. Will there be a time when history will look back at the UK's brief flirtation with Europe, a country that is part of Europe geographically but somehow not part of it politically?

The German economy is strong and the suggestion that Germany may even consider a return to the Deutschemark in the next 2-3 years certainly raises alarm bells. What annoys me is the suggestion that Germany should have to pay more by way of bailing out weaker economies, just because Germany has worked so hard and well to bring about prosperity for its People following Reunification.

Once again, we are being encouraged to look to widening our international trade links and it is good to see the Prime Minister in the vanguard in advocating this policy change. We have a strong government and we have a good team; it is wise and sensible to have a formal Coalition at this time, and it means that the Labour Party must work extremely hard to be the very necessary effective Opposition that is so important to our Parliamentary system. At the moment it is something akin to a dismasted ship, and I am relieved to read that there are hints that all is not well with the Leadership, that there is disquiet at Westminster and that David Miliband is ready and waiting quietly in the Wings.

Mr Miliband should be the leader of Her Majesty's Opposition. He has the ability and experience to unite the Party and to be an effective check and balance on Government. I do not agree with all his policies, but it is fair to say, that I agree with none of his younger brother's policies nor his lack of leadership and dynamism that most surely is in the gift of his elder brother.

We do indeed live in interesting times.

Ian Bradley Marshall
24 November 2010

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Downright Arrogance or Insensitivity - whichever?

The Media has more influence today, arguably, than at any time in history. Often it is handled correctly and to the greater good of all. We can all, without exception, recall examples that have personally impacted on our lives and for the better.

But the downside of the media industry is its belief that it has a right to speak on behalf of people, whole nations even, by presenting views and opinions held by a few people within that industry but as if it is reflecting the majority view.

This week I have watched with increasing disquiet the manner in which DJs of local and national radio stations have all but blacked out the new single Ambitions by Joe McElderry and the forthcoming album WIDE AWAKE out on Monday 25 October 2010.

Following the blog on his website has been an education and very uplifting, for I am learning just how important it is for all of us to make use of this means of communication to enable our collective and individual voice to be heard.

To DJs everywhere I would say this - get off your high horses, listen to your supporting public and stop equating yourselves to the great composers and Conductors down the centuries. You have a gift for mixing music and bringing joy to people. Leave it at that. And if you're being pressurised by the recording companies and Record Labels, then stand up to them, defy them and play the music they are telling you not to play. Don't bring your own prejudices and dictates into it. The public in time grow tired and in this country vote with their feet and wander off elsewhere.

Elsewhere! I wonder whether Wayne Rooney should have gone elsewhere?

Has this whole apparent rift between him and Sir Alex Ferguson been nothing more than a publicity stunt? And on Rooney's part, an attempt on his part to double his salary right at the time when all of us have been faced with the most swinging cuts since the Second World War?

Has the 'rift' been fomented by the news media to increase their own revenue?

Either way, Rooney has lost much ground. It's a pity he hadn't been sent packing. Not only has he let down his fans again, but he has let down the nation, his home town Liverpool and his former beloved Everton FC.

We do not need people like him on side even though his skills are undoubted and I respect those skills.

Kenneth T Webb
The Editor
Liverpool CityLife

23 October 2010

Sunday, 26 September 2010


The Coalition Government has an excellent opportunity to demonstrate to the public the 'mess' that this labour leadership contest has produced and to expose, once again, the vice-like grip that the unions have on this country.

I am no supporter of would-be failed politicians who cannot make it on the hustings, so try instead to enter Downing Street through the back door. We saw this in the Wilson-Callaghan years and we saw what happened to that group of people under Mrs Thatcher.

The fact that I have this morning had a very good discussion (for over two hours) with someone about how good it is that the former foreign secretary had been elected - I had not seen any news reports - led me to believe that David Miliband had won. When I went back and questioned my colleague his reply was, 'yes, Ed Miliband the former foreign secretary'!

I suspect I am not the only person to have found that people are already confusing the two brothers.

The Coalition Government is strong and it is what this country needs to deal with the current problems. I would even suggest that the greater British Public will not be easily dissuaded from continuing Coalition Government for another full term.

I am naturally suspicious of any politician who relies just a little too much on union power. Let us not return to the Downing Street Beer and Sandwiches years.

So work hard to keep Mr Miliband and whatever brand his Labour Party now becomes, well and truly out of Central Government for at least the next 10 years.

Kenneth T Webb
The Editor
Liverpool CityLife

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Why is it Wrong to be Gay?

Well that's the question on my mind having just seen the 9pm BBC News report a few minutes ago this evening Thursday 20 May 2010.

The report, that is, of the Malawi Court decision to sentence two gay men to 14 years hard labour, the second case decision by that court in one week of its kind, and, we are informed because the laws the learned judges cite are those dating back to the Colonial Era.

When I came home this evening I was not even thinking along these lines.
And the answer to that question above?

I will shout it from the rooftops and I will defy every proponent who argues otherwise - of course it's NOT wrong to be gay! It is natural. It does NOT offend God and the sooner society generally comes to terms with this truth the better.

Of course there will be people who disagree with me. So be it. This is a democracy, a rather good one too as the events of the last 3 weeks have shown, and so yes - I am gay and I am proud to be gay and yes thank goodness I now have the confidence and wherewithal to declare this openly.

I am fortunate to live in Liverpool and work in Blackpool where tolerance is much wider than one might expect.

I also experience the smaller communities where, sadly, it is still the love that dare not speak its name (Oscar Wilde).

But let us move forward with the times. And to those, especially of the older generation or the pew brigade, who believe that it is some sort of epidemic that is going to consume every male and wipe out society I say simply this.

Get real. Stop panicking and stop moving along that path that another group of people led a nation along 70 years ago and which put my people along with the Jews and Gypsies and Mentally or Physically Incapable onto those cattle wagons and then said that it was God's work being done!

When I was in the Police Force in the 1970s and concurrently serving in the armed forces I was on a double whammy for this was still the time when to be me was to be officially classified as mentally disordered. In both careers, I was walking a tightrope and eventually the pressure was too great, my health gave way and I was invalided out of the police force.

Today, many young people still suffer. In this country we are now more enlightened but in other countries such as Malawi it is not so. To young people I say, quietly stand your ground, don't be put down and be strong and confident in yourselves. To older people who are still in the cloest, cupboard, call it what you will, think about the pressures you are placing on yourselves. But think this too. Your sexuality is entirely your business; it is not in the public domain and you do not have to account for it unless you are getting into trouble because of it.

In short, live correctly and decently and to the nosey parkers (I could use stronger language but it would be wrong to do so and would misrepresent my people too) just remember, it is none of their business.

Live for the day.

I AM WHO I AM. If you want to see that in full, go on to Amazon UK or USA and look up 'Idle Thoughts' by Ian Bradley Marshall. It's well worth a read. I wish I had had it to read when I was in my 20s. How different life would have been.

Ian Bradley Marshall

Thursday 20 May 2010

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

A VERY British Revolution

Well the last week's events have been truly amazing. When I started writing this page a year ago I chose the title deliberately, for it emphasised to the world at that time that we in Britain do things differently.

I've said many times over the years and indeed echoing from Churchill and also from a famous British Film 'This Happy Breed', that we do things differently here. We take our time to react and are often charged with being too slow to act, too slow to react. And yet place a great cause before the People and nothing will stop them until they have dealt with the matter, defeated whatever it is that is threatening our security and way of life, and then return to normal life.

That is what we see playing out again now both here at home and being commented on throughout the world. 'What is it with those Brits?' 'How is it that they go and do things so easily just by voting without violence, having heated debates that compared with our own regimes, are like an afternoon chat over a pot of tea, and yet they sweep aside unpopular government, or worn out government or corrupt policitians.

Once again, we are establishing ourselves as the mother of parliaments.

Let there be no mistake about that whatsoever.

A year ago as the expenses scandal broke I remember thinking 'if only we could have a coalition as we did in wartime!' 'If only we could do this, for surely is not this recession the equivalent of the drastic action required in those dark days of 1939 when we needed a government of national unity?'

And on Sunday I briefly thought that what was in our grasp was about to be lost, hence my angry response.

But in retrospect it was good politics being played out.

There is no doubt but that the Labour Party recognises that it is worn out and unable to ever match anything that was being earnestly discussed, debated, neogotiated and thrashed out in our Capital over the weekend.

Again that international comment - 'how do they do it when they haven't even got a written constitution?'

I am amazed to discover just how many nations and peoples were following events and the enormous interest millions showed across the world in the way in which Mr Brown offers his resignation to Her Majesty The Queen, who in turn invites Mr Cameron to form a Government.

Three images are with me. The Queen and her new Prime Minister shaking hands, the PM and his Deputy PM Mr Clegg on the most famous doorstep in the world and the photograph of our new National Security Council in session.

Surely it is power to the people.

And now we have a task and purpose to fulfil.

I wish David Miliband success too in his leadership campaign, for Parliament always needs a vigorous Opposition and he is the right man to lead the Labour Party and build upon all that his Government achieved in office and which the PM generously acknowledged yesterday. And I for one can truly thank his Government for many of the measures that became law that have made my life much easier than it was three decades ago.

Now we must move on. There is a deficit to deal with and the British People have, this evening, embarked upon an incredible development of this very great Island People and Constitution. Few can fathom us out. Worry not.

We are that stabilising influence that is recognised throughout the world and not least by the existence of the Commonwealth of Nations.

It is no coincidence that the first international call to Number Ten was from the Oval Office.

The Special Relationship is very much in place and we are, let us not forget, fighting a vicious war in Afghanistan and we need our troops back as soon as we can bring them home without abdicating our treaty obligations and international agreements.

Tonight, we may be a different Culture yes, but totalitarian regimes, corrupt regimes, can see for themselves the evidence of true democracy.

I am VERY proud of this our VERY British Revolution.

Kenneth T Webb
The Editor
Liverpool CityLife

12 May 2010

Monday, 10 May 2010

Holding the Country to Ransom?

Whilst I understand the Prime Minister's decision to resign as Leader of the Labour Party and the desire of his party to hold onto the reins of government by forming a coalition with the Lib Dems, I am very concerned, anxious even, with this evening's statement by Mr Clegg that whilst he is very appreciative and grateful for the constructive talks with David Cameron and the Conservatives over the past 4 days, he is nevertheless now ready to enter into similar discussion with the Labour Party.

It smacks of a policitian enjoying immensely his new found power as 'king maker'.

It would be easier to take if the Lib Dems had demonstrated confidence in the National mood by securing more seats than they had this time last week.

Ironically, they lost more seats than they gained and ended up with less seats overall than they had this time last week.

And yet this party now seeks to play as if it has a huge influence in the national mood, an enormous vote of confidence by the British People. It did not. When it came to making informed judgments, the public pronounced clearly and uniquivocally that they were not prepared yet to support the Lib Dems' approach to Politics.

For the last 4 days I have been quietly confident that there was the possibility of good government coming out of this.

This evening I am not so sure.

The party that won the most votes is being denied the right to govern despite the overwhelming majority of the public stating otherwise.

We have the rediculous spectacle of a defeated government now having the affront to presume that it can act in the national interest by securing power by means of a coalition with the Lib Dems and other minority parties.

If that happens I suspect it will be shortlived and I suspect too that the British People, angered at being dragged back to the polling booths, will pronounce once and for all on the subject - a full blown return to a two party system and the rout of the Lib Dems and all the other minority parties that seek only to cause upset and disunity.

I have been heartened by Lord Steele over the weekend. I have been saddened and indeed angered by the deliberate attempts at sabotage by Mr Salmond north of the border.

I have long been an admirer of Nick Clegg. But my admiration over the last 4 years is being put to the test this evening.

I do not like what I see happening. I do not like seeing political parties riding roughshod over the will of the British People.

Kenneth T Webb
The Editor
Liverpool CityLife

10 May 2010

Friday, 7 May 2010

Hung Parliament

As discussions and negotiations carry on in to the early hours, we know that by Monday, one way or another, we must have a newly elected Government. Continued uncertainty will place us in a perilous position when the markets trade again on Monday.

I was certainly wrong with regard to my last entry - that I did not anticipate a hung parliament. And like many, I could not quite accept at first that the EXIT Polls might in fact be accurately forcasting the outcome.

I am, however, pleased that we have the opportunity now to turn a potentially nagative situation into a very positive way forward for the life and governance of the United Kingdom, namely, bringing into government, people of undoubted ability in the Liberal Democrats.

New Labour in Government has achieved much in the last 13 years. Nevertheless it is time to change. We have a great democracy and with strong cross party government we will be better able to cope with the ravages of the measures that must now be taken to deal with the national deficit and which will hit every single one of us.

Deep down we all know that for a while it is going to get worse before it gets better.

But we are up to the challenge.

With the right people in place, good leadership will permeate throughout the Union, and who knows, we may even be able to hold the Union together notwithstanding desperate attempts by a certain northern gentleman wanting to break his country away.

And whilst we are at it, let us never again see the debacle of lines of voters turned away and denied their right to cast their vote. There is no excuse for it. The Electoral Commission must act to put in place a system befitting to 21st Century Politics and not rely upon 19th Century Voting practices.

Let us look with confidence to the future.

Kenneth T Webb
The Editor
Liverpool CityLife
Sat 8 May 2010

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A New Beginning Regardless

We are now at the Hustings and for the rest of this day there will be a great movement of the general public as it does that which comes so easily to it, albeit sparingly, to cast its vote and decide upon the Country's future, its development in an ever-changing world and its development into a thriving 21st Century Parliamentary Democracy.

As I drive to work each morning along the coastal road from Blackpool, accompanied by the sounds of John Humphries putting politicians and other public figures through their paces, I am increasingly aware that we, the Great British Public, do, contrary to popular opinion, take the business of electing central and local government more seriously than some sections of the media would have us believe.

I think that the one thing I see as I read between the lines is that, for all their outward show of confidence and sense of victory, every politician knows that we in these islands more than many countries, have a curious knack of disproving the opinion polls at the very last minute.

A great change is upon us and the import of it is seen, for example, in the Contract published this week by the Conservative Party and David Cameron's declaration that it will, if elected, lay before Parliament the Great Repeal Bill.

That word 'great' is highly significant. In my history classes I remember my teacher Miss Martin introducing us to the sweeping changes of the new Victorian Era with the Great Reform Bill of 1830 which became the Great Reform Act 1832. 150 years later it was still having a massive effect upon the life of this nation, the British People, and even in the classroom, the four ensuing years of British History 1815-1914 seemed for me to all rest upon that Bill and its Act in 1832. Everything could be traced back to it.

I read this week that the proposed Great Repeal Bill will lay before Parliament no less than 13 Laws for immediate repeal. Some I suspect I will agree with, and many along with me, regardless of our politics; others I fear might be very important pieces in the Nation's fabric which, if removed, will cause problems. Let us see how matters progress.

24 hours from now I cannot help thinking that the people of the Union will not be nearly so ready to give us a hung parliament as the media suggests. We know that pitfalls of that; neither do we want to return to just two parties holding sway. I sincerely hope that we will have a government with the required 326 seats to secure an outright majority, but also the arrival of a third party that is taken seriously.

Whilst all of us pride ourselves in the UK on our freedom of speech, I am nevertheless relieved that the imploding of the BNP means it is probably going to be hard pushed to secure a seat at Westminster. That is how it should be.

I come from an era (as a young man) when it was not possible to truly say that we lived by the principle 'live and let live'. The 1970s are unrecognisable from this first decade of the new millenium.

Our young people do not necessarily appreciate this.

But this is what heartens me beyond all else.

The huge increase in young people registering to vote.

Young people DO have the ability to think how our country should operate and how our institutions are best served in enabling the country to be that continued safe haven.

To any who read this and are currently still thinking of wasting their vote, I would urge you not to do so.

Let us not take for granted that which millions in the world only dream of - universal suffrage.

Kenneth T Webb
Liverpool CityLife
6 May 2010

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Standards - decline and fall or already sunk?

We do not live in an enjoyable society today. Many would want to echo MacMillan's famous 1950s phrase during his premiership - 'Britain has never had it so good!' Austerity post war Britain was coming to terms with a new social fabric, we were just coming out of post war food rationing and people were buying tellies and a family in every street was beginning to vie for a telephone line as one up on the neighbours.

That is all a long time ago. Double or even treble the lifetime of today's new generation.

It saddens me to see so much in decline by way of standards. In the last year alone I have seen a lowering of standards at such speed that even 2 years ago I would have said was not possible. I deal with elderly clients by and large and it is this that worries me - it is they who seem to be losing the standards.

Shaking hands is now, in just a few months, all but gone even at first meeting in the formerly hallowed precincts of solicitors' offices and other professional institutions.

Now there is an aggression, the like of which I have not seen in 56 years, from people right across the social spectrum.

When I started this 'blog' - I confess I dislike that word immensely - I called it "a very British revolution" after the manner of an important news report a year ago. But I would not have expected to see this revolution turn so ugly so quickly.

People today are spiteful, vengeful and utterly self-seeking. All seem to be enthused, bouyed up or goaded on by that marvellous institution "Thursday Evening Question Time" but for all the wrong reasons. It is no longer a respectable forum of principled debate and argument, censure and calling to account. We saw that certainly last year when it truly came of age over the MPs Expenses Scandal and I am convinced was instrumental in bringing about the timely removal of the then Speaker of the House of Commons.

But today, I watch with dismay the general public tear into respected politicians, leaders and the like with all the diplomatic tact of the playground bully.

And this is reflected everywhere I go. Belligerent, argumentative and thoroughly repugnant behaviour by people who should know better and who should be setting an example.

How strange that we live in a society now where the use of one's surname and the title Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms or Madam or Sir is all but eschewed; or that the use of the term 'sir' is seen as a sign of weakness.

To all who know me I would say this. Do not take my politeness to be weakness.

I never thought I would write this, I who have proudly held the Queen's Commission, the ancient office of Constable and have been a School Governor and now a commissioner for oaths but I am going to say it anyway. I am thoroughly ashamed to be British.

Never in all my long years have I seen on the one hand such good reporting by the media of certain matters, but conversely on the other hand, a general lowering of standards and indeed display of double standards by all aspects of the media generally.

Whether it be the morning Radio 4 Today Programme or the Weekly Radio 4 5pm Today programme, I find at times the cross examination and interrogation regularly employed by the broadcasters, especially on 5pm disgraceful. There is a a smugness about these broadcasters and they are doing this nation, this people, and these islands a grave disservice.

I have always believed that as a people we respond well when our backs are against the wall. It is a national characteristic.

Our young people, or at least a section of them, display incredible courage in fighting a deadly war of insurrection, violence and murder in Afghanistan and Iraq and other places too; I view with alarm the ambivalence of many other young people to just what sacrifices are being made by their peers on their behalf and I find it repugnant to be berated by 18 year old know alls who start talking about our crimes against humanity in the far gone days of empire. They do not know what they are talking about and they have been very badly mistaught by a whole generation or more of teachers who have had their own private agendas.

This decline in standards and lack of respect is seen most starkly in our hospitals throughout the country by the various NHS Primary Care Trusts.

I regularly visit hospitals in my work and I too often come across scruffbags who in fact turn out to be the nursing staffs of acute medic wards. Slovenly, uncaring, contemptuous even of elderly people, especially those who they know are in their last days in this earthly realm. And when the patient breathes his or her last, in some cases it is greeted with shoulder shrug, a couldnt care less attitude and a refusal even to attend to basic nursing duties because apparently such duties are beneath them.

I cannot understand how a hospital can function when it leaves meals stacked up for a patient who is totally unable to feed himself; whose staff show no interest when berated by his daughter and make it clear that it's her job to feed him, not theirs.

All of this is very worrying for in the absence of standards we have the very real danger of people like the BNP gaining a foothold - a factor that should fill all of us with dread.

No. I loved this country and I think I still do. I love this people and these islands. I have many very genuine friends. But I am thoroughly ashamed to be British and I have no doubts that notwithstanding the ability of our armed forces in conflict and war, we the people here at home, would never be able to stand alone again and fight and win a war as we did sixty five years ago. We no longer have the ability and a large swathe of the population has no inclination to even take an interest.

And that starts in the corridors of power, in Whitehall where more than anywhere else apart from our university campuses, we have the policy of dumming everything down.

The wall still stands but the cement in the bricks has gone. Just as we saw a lady's garden drop into the sea last week a week after she had bought an idealic cottage for a song, so too we now watch this island metophorically slip beneath the waves.

I do know many young people though who do give me that glimmer of hope. To all of you I would urge you to seize back the standards, heighten your self-respect and those of the institutions that mean so much to all of you and to many of my own generation. Demonstrate leadership, be positive and insist on the highest standards in everything each of you undertakes, but in all those who either work around you, with you or for you.

Prove to me and to many like me that we are an island people, free and determined, with high principles and a vigour to make our way in this world. The future is in your hands now for, plainly put, my own generation has lost the plot and probably thrown the baby out with the bathwater in its stupid insistance on seeing everything we did as wrong, bad or even worse, as criminal behaviour.

That is my challenge to you all. When I presented that challenge to the young people on my Squadron 20 years ago they rose magnificently to the occasion and we attained heights that even today fill me with pride.

Now I throw that challenge to all of you right across this country in all four nations. Do your best and prove me wrong.

Kenneth T Webb
Liverpool CityLife

Liverpool and Blackpool
Friday 26 February 2010