Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas and the annual religous thought for the year.

So it’s Christmas, again, it seems to happen at the same time every year-can’t avoid it.

A friend of mine was telling me of their outrage when a close relative sent them a gospel of St. John and religious Christmas card for Christmas. They objected to this Bible bashing and they felt insulted by such overt evangelism. The very fact that my friend was so upset about someone trying to bring Christ in to Christmas set me thinking, how do I who is supposed to be a bible believing Christian bring a Christmas message in to the murky world of politics. Strangely this started me thinking about my political year and came to the conclusion that it had been a curate’s egg of one – Good in parts.

I started thinking that some things had gone really well this year, I enjoyed the General Election campaign in Henley and was pleased to come third, no really, I feel very proud to have completed an MA and graduated, other things however have not gone so well. I started to think about the encounters I have had with people this year, and here I found a more bruising vein. I recalled that I have had some difficult relationships, where I have let people down and others where people, often political opponents, seem to have gone out of the way to spill bile and anger in my direction.

This has formed my thoughts about Christmas and how do I, as someone who is politically active, show Christ in politics. Last year, at Christmas, I talked about the passage from Isaiah 61 but this year I am more interested in what Christs’ message is about forgiveness.

It seems to me that on both sides of the political fence there is a place for forgiveness. Despite the political ding dong and struggle I believe that if I want to re enter the political world I probably need to be able to slake off the slings and arrows that my political opponents throw.

Christ himself said, in what is known as the Lord’s prayer, (Luke 11):

“When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.”

The key section is, “ Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us….”

So forgiveness is available for all sides of the political debate and all of us actually. I hope you can forgive me for where I have failed and those of you who have thrown brick bats at me on their blogs, in Twitter or in their little cabals of tittle tattle around Reading and elsewhere, I forgive you.

Forgiveness is a dreadful thing, I think it entails remembering the thrown brick bat but giving responsibility for the hurt up to the Lord. It’s a hard thing to do, but to start 2011 with an unburdened soul I am constrained by the words of the Lord’s prayer to forgive and ask for forgiveness.

I do so in the hope that, as it says elsewhere in the Bible: “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us” but “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I am not perfect, no really I’m not, however I can go forward in to 2011 within the safety net of forgiveness.

So that’s what seems important at Christmas 2010 to me, I hope that you, where ever you are and what ever you are up to this Christmas, have a fantastic Christmas and come back to 2011 refreshed and ready for what ever is ahead of you.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Its the end of the Year, at last

The end of 2010 is almost here. I have been so so busy over the last couple of weeks, door knocking throughout the Ward, campaigning on parking issues, and of course lollipoping.

In the last 2-3 weeks I have been fulfilling my duties as a School Governor of Alfred Sutton Primary school. I was pleased that we were able to appoint a new Deputy Head and enjoyed taking part in the interview process. I would like to congratulate the new Deputy Head. I know she will make a fantastic Deputy Head. There was a meeting of the Parents' Forum, of which I am the Vice Chair, and the Head. I am so proud of the Parents' Forum. Of all the things I have been involved with in the last 2-3 years the establishment of a Parents' Forum at Alfred Sutton. The Chair and Secretary and I have made the Forum a great communications and action channel between the school and parents.

Finally all the Governors were invited to attend the school plays. I don't know which other Governors went to the performances, however I was able to go to last Tuesday's performance. It was great, the children and staff had worked so hard and I was privileged to be able to be a spectator.

When door knocking many parents had questions about Maiden Erlegh, and Cllr Jon Hartley and I have been able to brief parents as to whats going on. There will be a public meeting at Maiden Erlegh on the 17th January between 5.30 and 7.00pm, please attend if you can.  Try not to laugh to hard when you are there.....

And finally 2. I was looking at the photos and video I have accumulated over the year of the campaigns I have been involved in. I thought it would make a fitting memory to add here. Hope it reminds you of the year and the campaigns you have been involved in.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Vote Lost, Lib Dems betray their principles

The Lib Dems sold the youth of the nation down the river today. The vote for tuition fees was lost and the Conservative and Lib Dem coalition have condemned English young people to a life of debt.

The violence in London can only be regretted and should not have happened, The Lib Dems have damaged politics, not only have they gone back on their pledge, given at an election, but they have proved all those who say politicians cannot be trusted right.

I was on the Reading demo yesterday and am pleased to say it was peaceful, well reasoned and made a strong point, You can see me in the middle of the shot with the silly hat. Campaigning against Tuition Fees is connected with campaigning about the Maiden Erlegh catchment area. It is about equity in education and ensuring that all young people have access to good fair access to education.

The Conservatives and Lib Dems have shown that they are against equality locally and nationally. We know where they stand now and we can react accordingly.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Dumping the Debt

Its a Wednesday so it must be demo day. Marched with Reading Uni students from the Uni to the Town Hall to meet up with Reading's MPs.

We brought our "debt" with us to dump in front of them. The students wanted to show Reading's 2 MP's that they won't accept the proposed raising of tuition fees from £3,000 to £9,000.

Unfortunately the MP's didn't turn up, I think they may have been hiding with Reading's Lib Dem Councillors, having a "constructive dialogue".

I was impressed at the quality of the speeches and especially pleased to see Labour Cllr, Rachel Eden, taking part. She brought her baby with her, she was truely fighting for the next generation.

Parliament votes on Thursday and there is a large demo outside Parliament to remind the Lib Dem MP's what they said before the election. Unfortunately I can't go as I have to work and am very dissappointed. What will happen, I don't know, but I do know that if Clegg and his chums vote for an increase in tuition fees there will be a lot of very cross students voting against them in constituencies across the country.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Uni Stops Being a Good Neighbour

The University has decided to bar residents from campus over the Christmas Weekend.

It appears that they want to assert their rights over the land, in case residents decide that we want to try and get the site declared a village green or similar.

This means that residents will not have access to campus on the 26th and 27th Dec. This will cut in to residents' prime holiday time, when we will use the campus to walk off those Christmas Calories.

While I understand the Uni feels it has to assert its rights, it seems unfair not to advise residents. As the image shows, the Uni is advising Academics, staff and students. They are not keeping it a secret.

Should residents engage in a mass trespass? An interesting thought. There are plenty of gaps in the fencing which we could be used.

What I am sure of is that every resident that lives around the campus, will have an interest in this and should write the Uni as a matter of urgency. This may be the thin end of the wedge and the Uni has form for trying to exclude its neighbours from the site. They suddenly cut access to the Sibly Hall site and built a large fence almost over night to keep residents out.

So write now to avoid disappointment over Christmas.

Monday, 6 December 2010

All Students Want For Christmas is a No Vote.

I have just received the attached from the University Students' Union, of its campaign before Parliamentary vote where the Conservative and Lib Dem coalition will move their bill to increase student fees from £3000 to £9000 per year. This being despite the Lib Dems stating before the election that they would remove student fees:

Reading University Students’ Union encourages all Reading Students to unite with the people of Reading on the ‘Local Day of Action’ Wednesday 8th December, one day before the fees vote in parliament.

Once again, we would like to show our opposition to the cuts to Higher Education and the plans to triple fees to £9,000.

We will be congregating at 2pm outside the RUSU building and then walking into town to meet others outside Reading Town Hall at 3pm. On arrival we will be ‘Dumping our Debt’ in the metaphorical sense in the form of filled bin bags. So bring along your filled bin liner and write your campaign message on it.

We encourage you to dress up in an attempt to draw as much attention to ourselves as possible. E.g. zombies, Santas, angels, clowns, graduation gowns etc. Bring along your banners and posters and have your chants ready!

We want to send a strong message to our 2 local MPs, Rob Wilson and Alok Sharma that…

All we want for Christmas is a NO vote!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Just Saw This and It made me laugh

It's Cold Out There

It is so cold at the moment. If you have been following my Tweets I have been giving weather updates for people who are bringing their children to school.

I have borrowed my daughter's hat, as shown in my photo, to keep warm. She is not happy to see I have it, but if you have to stand outside for 40 mins at 8.30am it is vital.

Been meeting with Park residents all day. Started off with a cup of coffee after school. We talked about the Maiden Erlegh issue and Alfred Sutton. Lunch was spent with students chatting over Nick Clegg's betrayal of England's students I saw a great cartoon in the Guardian. Ended the afternoon with door knocking in Newtown. The residents raised an interesting issue, which I will discuss later.

Its almost too cold to talk to residents, but as with the bad weather last year, the extreme cold brings out the best in people and they want to chat. Must remember to take a flask with me next time......