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Labour's immigration conundrum, the Conservatives get a candidate...and a pink bear

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Friday, October 24 2014

Labour has a tricky job on its hands to convince voters it has a credible policy on immigration and the issue is inevitably centre stage in the Rochester and Strood by-election.

It has clearly decided that on balance, it is better to try and confront the issue head on rather than ignore it.

This week's visit by Ed Miliband and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper was aimed at trying to underline a policy which balances the party's bellief that immigration has been good for the UK and at the same time, has been bad for the UK. This "two for one" policy is hard to sell to an electorate which in the current climate thinks that the pendulum is stuck on the bad side.

In ramping up the immigration rhetoric, it risks being seen as dancing to UKIP's tune and alienating its own core supporters.

The biggest credibilty gap, however, is not what its policy is today but what it was when it was last in government.

When asked about its failings over benefit tourism and failure to stop unrestricted numbers coming into the UK, Mr Miliband said "You don't get everything right in government."

Unfortunately for Labour, not enough time has passed for voters to forget its rather poor track record  and with just three weeks before polling day, is highly unlikely to convert undecided voters.

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It has been a mixed campaign for the Conservatives to date but at least it now has a candidate in place for the by-election.

Kelly Tolhurst, a life-long local resident and Medway councillor, won a two-horse race, edging out Anna Firth in a postal primary that didn't quite ignite the public in the way the party perhaps wanted.

This was probably down to the rather compressed timescale for the election of its candidate as much as public indfifference. The party clearly hoped that the primary would enable it to differentiate itself from UKIP, where Mark Reckless was installed with no vote by members, 

But I am sceptical about whether voters will go into the polling booths with the process of selection uppermost in their minds.

And the time it has taken to complete the selection has arguably given Ukip a free run in the campaign for several weeks. That precious commodity of momentum is still with it, as the recent ComRes poll illustrated.

The result was closer than expected. Kelly Tolhurst was the favourite - particularly given her local roots - and impressed a lot of people with her passion and enthusiasm. But she is being thrust into a political cauldron and the media will be scrutinising her every move and utterance.

The pressure on her will be immense and it is likely the party machine will be making sure she is not too exposed. Let's hope she will not be too carefully managed.

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Slightly surreal moment of the campaign so far: Ed Miliband talking to a pink bear in Rochester yesterday - no, not a real one - that would be really strange - but a charity fundraiser. It led to a comment straight out of The Thick Of It by one of his aides, heard to say: "Bring the pink bear over now."

 

 

 

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The big artillery rolls into Rochester...but will voters care?

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Friday, October 17 2014

We were promised that the Conservatives would blitz Rochester and Strood with the party's big hitters and hundreds of activists and for once, no-one can accuse a political party of breaking its pledge.

The frenzy of activity will reach a new level this weekend when the Conservative machine deploys a reported 1,000 activists to Kent to drum up support for a still unknown candidate.

Buses will be bringing down this army from London to distribute leaflets, knock on doors and generally remind us - as if we needed to - that there is a byelection going on.

There is every chance that they will bump into Ukip activists, who are doing much the same with supporters coming from outside the county to rally behind its candidate.

For the Conservatives, this strategy is all about signalling that - unike Clacton - they will not roll over and are going to be putting up a fight to stem Ukip's purple wave. It is as much about the deep loathing for Nigel Farage as it is for defector Mark Reckless.

And there is clearly no love lost between the Ukip leader and Mr Cameron, who said that if voters plumped for Ukip "all they are doing is giving Nigel Farage the chance to have a long gloat in the pub."

Much of this activity is designed for media consumption, of course, but you do wonder if the high-intensity strategy might prove counter-productive if it carries on at such a velocity until November 20.

For the Conservatives, the risk is that while it will be effective in shoring up support from core supporters, it gives the impression that it is concerned about the outcome. Cameron's own personal involvement means that if Ukip does produce a coup, his leadership will come under the spotlight. I suspect that the game plan is as much about trying not to lose badly as it is about trying to win.

The other risk is that the scale of activity only serves to remind supporters of other parties lacking similar battalions of activists (and deep pockets) that there is an election going on.

Still, anyone who does not like politics or politicians may be advised not to answer the door for the next four weeks.

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The Conservatives deserve some credit for opening up its selection process to all voters in Rochester and Strood, although the compressed timetable has rather limited the amount of time for residents to get to know the two who were shortlisted well.

Its big event was the hustings meeting this week in the Rochester Corn Exchange, which was open to everyone. That is everyone but not journalists from the national media.

They were kept out as party managers had decreed that only local media could attend, which meant myself and Radio Kent.

This provoked some tension behind the scenes, with Professor Tim Luckhurst from the Centre For Journalism,- who chaired the event, along with invited guest Dr Sarah Woolaston MP, suggesting unsuccessfully that the ban be reconsidered.

It wasn't and the net result, unsurprisingly, was that the national media turned away at the door rmade the ban the focus of their reports rather than what was said at the meeting.

And to rub it in, managed to get a transcript of the event anyway.

In fact, both candidates acquitted themselves well and had interesting things to say, not least on immigration.

Whoever gets the nod will be in a high-pressure political cauldron for four weeks and under forensic scrutiny from the media.

This week's hustings could have been useful acclimatisation.

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Professor Luckhurst says the Conservatives made a mistake in having only selected media present.

"I believe the Conservative Party’s decision to exclude from the hustings journalists from national newspapers and broadcasters  was foolish and entirely unnecessary. Freedom of speech is a core democratic principle and no political party should restrict it.”

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When Labour leader Ed Miliband turned up in the County Town of Maidstone last year for the county council election campaign, he did so to demonostrate that there were no "no-go" areas for the party.

It's early days but in comparison to Ukip and the Conservatives, Labour appears to be taking a low key approach to the fight for Rochester and Strood. No single comment has come from a senior member of the party's leadership about the election to date.

Perhaps it is waiting for the Conservative bandwagon to run out of puff.

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You can't draw too much by way of portents for November 20 from a council ward by-election where only one in five voters bothered to exercise their vote but Ukip notched up a small victory in Kent this week when it romped to victory in the Sheppey Central ward in Swale.

And it was pretty comprehensive, too with the victoriuos candidate getting nearly 60% of the vote.


 



 

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Categories: Conservatives

Sea change makes every vote count

by Nikki's world, with Nikki White Saturday, October 11 2014

Love ’em or loathe ’em, you can no longer ignore Ukip.

From a small party of colourful characters, whose logo was just as colourful and brash with its purple and yellow branding, they have grown – and will continue to do so.

With their first elected MP now in place, and the prospect of another on the way in Rochester and Strood in the next few weeks, it really is time to sit up and listen.

There are still many who will not entertain them or their politics. A friend of mine spotted Mark Reckless giving out leaflets at a railway station the other day, targeting commuters.

“Thankfully he missed me,” she said. “If he had stopped me, I’d have told him to ‘poke it, daddio’.” It’s a phrase I might use more in life.

But the message from Clacton was loud and clear. Douglas Carswell won with a 12,404 majority – 60% of the vote. That’s not just a bit of backlash.

Maybe voters thought that voting for Ukip now and having Mr Carswell represent them until the general election next year was worth it to send a message to the other parties that it was time to get their acts in gear. Or maybe they agree with him. We’ll find out in 2015.

Many are unhappy with the parties they usually support but don’t know which way to turn – I do sometimes wonder if there was a “none of the above” box on the voting slip just how many of us would be tempted to put a cross in the box.

I’ve fleetingly contemplated voting for someone obscure in the past, but chickened out when I couldn’t carry the guilt that had everyone else in the ward or constituency done the same, we’d be represented by someone who wanted to turn the area into a home for hobbits.

The near-win in Greater Manchester – where Labour only narrowly held Heywood and Middleton, and Ukip forced a recount – and the outcome of Rochester and Strood are just as crucial as Clacton.

Even for someone like me, who prefers to put the political wrangling aside and look at what the issues actually mean for the day-to-day lives of people like my parents in their cosy bungalow, this is fascinating.

Because if Ukip has anything right, it is that times are changing. The party’s wannabe MP for Dartford, Elizabeth Jones, said: “This is the beginning of a sea of change.”

She’s right: It is. And that change may not be for Ukip, but it’s certainly making many more people think about not only which way they vote, but making sure they do, because it is becoming increasingly clear that every single one will count.

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UKIP make an historic beakthrough - can the momentum deliver a victory in Rochester and Strood?

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Friday, October 10 2014

If the Conservatives needed any reminding that they are in for a tough fight in Rochester and Strood, UKIP's historic breakthrough in Clacton was a painful reminder that what lies ahead is going to be one their most challenging electoral battles.

It was not so much that UKIP won but that it won so decisively, with a huge landslide for Douglas Carswell. Not only that but it came pretty close to dislodging Labour from what was supposed to be a safe seat - a result likely to induce some panic in the party's ranks.

No wonder that UKIP swiftly announced that its leader and first MP are heading down to Rochester tomorrow to give Mark Reckless a campaign boost and exploit its win for all it is worth.

For the Conservatives and Labour, the challenge is how to arrest the momentum UKIP appears to have and stop Mark Reckless crossing the finishing line first.

Up until now, the Conservatives have been relatively optimistic that while the contest would be close, they would be well-positioned to win and see off UKIP once it had its campaign is up and running. That view is no longer tenable or realistic and the least surprising consequence of last night's result is that bookmakers have now installed UKIP odds on to win Rochester and Strood.

The key problem for the Conservatives - and Labour - is that UKIP continues to attract support from those disillusioned with mainstream parties and politicans and there is arguably no better platform to register this disaffection than at a by-election. Of course, with increasing numbers of local councillors and MEPs and now an MP, this may change but it won't before voters go to the polls next month.

It is debatable whether David Cameron insistence that Rochester and Strood is now a vital battle is helpful. The refrain is clearly designed to encourage Conservative activists and supporters to get on the front foot but it raises the stakes for his own leadership.

The fact that the party has yet to select a candidate has not and is not helping. The plan for a postal primary, in which every constituent (even Mark Reckless) would have a say in who it should be as part of an "inclusve" process was initially attractive.

But the downside is that process is taking time and I just can't see it making much of a difference when voters go to the polls.

It will be another week before the party has someone in place, leaving UKIP to continue to make the running. I wonder now whether the party might regret its strategy but it is too late to do anything abouot it now.

Has the pendulum  swung decisively towards UKIP in Rochester and Strood? The Conservatives will be kickstarting their campaign and are bringing in their heavy artillery to do what it can but will it be enough? As to Labour, the Heywood result suggests that it haemorrhaged support to UKIP and it continues to lack credibility over issues such as immigration, which cost it badly in 2010.

UKIP started from a position of thinking it had an outside chance of winning the by-election; now it believes it really can.





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The bitter by-election battle for Rochester+Strood - why UKIP could win...and lose

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Friday, October 3 2014

It's no surprise the by-election battle looming in Rochester and Strood is shaping up to be one of the most acrimonious and fiercely-contested in British politics for decades.

The vitriol pouring from Conservatives towards Mark Reckless is an indication that they will fight tooth and nail to see him off.

The stakes are high: for UKIP, a win would give their prospects at the general election a huge boost. For the Conservatives, victory would send out a strong message it is capable of resisting UKIP's purple wave.

So, who will get over the finish line first?

 

Why UKIP could win:

  • If UKIP wins the Clacton by-election next week, which the Conservatives seem resigned to, the result could give the party a momentum that could persuade undecided voters in Rochester and Strood that a cross against UKIP is not wasted
  • UKIP continues to trade heavily on its appeal to voters disillusioned with what Nigel Farage dubs the Westminster elite. Disaffection and antipathy to mainstream parties remans high and at a by-election, voters often choose to give the parties in power a bloody nose
  • The perceived failure of the government to tackle immigration has a particular resonance in Kent, the gateway to Europe. The focus on the efforts of migrants at Calais to cross the channel is a vivid reminder that the issue has not gone away and the view that the government has yet to get a grip on it
  • He may not carry a large personal vote but Mark Reckless has been generally supportive over key constituency concerns, such as the Thames Estuary airport. He is regarded as among the most effective members of the Home Affairs select committee
  • If the Conservatives persist with their highly personal attacks on Reckless, there is a risk it could become counter-productive. Voters are already fed up with the playground politics of Westminster and could be turned off if all they hear over the coming weeks of  "he said, she said" verbal jousting

 

Why UKIP could lose:

 

 

 

  • The Achiles’ heel for Mark Reckless is the accusation that he has betrayed voters and his constituency by denying repeatedly that he was to defect. That makes him vulnerable to the damaging charge that he cannot be trusted – a politician who says one thing and does another
  • UKIP has no real organisational base in the Medway Towns in the way that it has in other areas, like Thanet. While the party now has a 17-strong county council group, it has no representation in Medway
  • The Conservatives will bring in the heavy artillery and will be blitzing the constituency with a series of high-profile visits by ministers and MPs. A formidable number of activists are being mobilised to stuff envelopes, deliver leaflets and help out
  • Despite a 10,000 majority, Mark Reckless carries no real personal vote in the way that Douglas Carswell has in Clacton, where UKIP is odds-on to win next week's by-election

The unknown factors:

  • Labour held the seat (then known as Medway) in the Blair years. Although it is not an official target, it could benefit from a split in the right-wing vote. It has an outside chance of causing an upset of its own
  • Perceived wisdom is that by-elections tend to favour minority parties. But this is no ordinary by-election, so it is difficult to gauge what impact a low turn-out may have
  • There is nothing to measure UKIP's standing in the constituency. While it took the largest share of the vote in the European election this year, there has been no local election since 2011 - when it took just under 2% of the vote. UKIP did not contest the seat in the 2010 general election, giving Mark Reckless a free run at the seat.

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Medway | Rochester | Strood

Hooked On Books- Obituary

by Down and out in Dover and district, with Len Oldfeep Thursday, October 2 2014

My relationship with Hooked on Books started around the same time as my education of Spike Milligan. Flicking through the wireless one afternoon after school my attention was grabbed by something on radio 2 I think, something the like I had never heard before and never knew existed until now. It was a show that was part of a season of programming about the history of an anarchic radio series called the Goon Show; a ground-breaking, surreal comedy show written and performed by Spike Milligan with Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe. The episodes rarely had a plot and no boundaries, so could take off in any direction. I was hooked right away and it opened up a new world of comedy to me.

In life things often come along when you need them the most, to get you out of the hole you’ve been in, to keep you above water for a while at least. The trick is holding on until that moment arrives. I can’t remember when or why I first went into Hooked on Books but in the humour section I found there was a whole shelf of poetry, novels, biographies, children’s fiction and TV and radio scripts written by this man Spike Milligan, who had just entered my life. I pulled a book off the shelf and my purchase was slipped into a colourful paper bag. Life felt exciting again after this new discovery and I couldn’t wait to get back down to Hooked on Books to buy my next book.

When I first heard the news Hooked on Books would be leaving Dover for Margate I took it the same way as when I got a text from a friend at 2 AM informing me of Robin Williams passing, a feeling of genuine sadness and shock for someone great that I respected and who’s performances in films had made me feel better about things again and was a part of the fabric of my growing up.

Like many I suspect, I am more an accumulator of books rather than a voracious reader. In my old room at my parents house is a cupboard filled with books that would take several lifetimes to read. For this reason I had stayed away from Dover’s only proper book shop in recent years. More than just a book shop of course, but a place to browse, kill an hour, take shelter from a shower or just enjoy a peace and quiet that you can’t find anywhere else except maybe a cemetery or  an empty museum . It housed titles you just won’t find in WH Smith or the Works.

I never had much talk with the proprietor Gary Belsey, forever behind his desk, and head in a book, hiding behind the paperbacks stacked at varying heights, all waiting patiently for a space to become available somewhere in the shop. I can only recall two occasions when we spoke and he never ventured to ask about a teenager’s fascination with an old comedian. There was always a part of me that wished he would. I often listened to him talk with customers, while I lurked out back, which came in to sell their unwanted paperbacks or the older customers who would idly chat about the latest book they had finished. He always gave them his time and had good relations with his customers from what I could tell.

After fifthteen years trading in Dover Gary is off to try his luck in Margate. I wish him every success but am disappointed another staple of our high street has disappeared. Why is it that in other towns independent retailers do ok but in Dover they are unsustainable?

Dover evermore looking like a car left in a bad neighbourhood. Being taken apart bit by bit until there is nothing left but a shell up on blocks.

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Categories: Dover Town centre

More centenarians means more cake for us reporters!

by Nikki's world, with Nikki White Saturday, September 27 2014

There are now almost 14,000 people over the age of 100 living in the UK, a five per cent rise in a single year, according to new estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

It’s good news for the Queen’s Birthday Card Team, and it’s also good news for journalists.

We love a 100-year-old. They’ve always got a good story to tell and, more often than not, you’ll get a cup of tea and a slice of cake.

Any reporter will tell you (because they will have had it brow-beaten into them by their news editor) that one of the most important questions to ask is what the secret to a long life is.

It’s not because we’re all about to start changing our lifestyle in the hope we can reach that grand old age but because some of the reasons are just brilliant.

Over the years, I’ve seen longevity put down to ballet dancing, healthy living, leading a good Christian life, a tot of whisky every day and doing what you blooming well liked.

I’m sure a colleague of mine had one interviewee who put it down to the fags she had started smoking at 80.

Many of the stories were no doubt embellished, but when you get to 100, you’re entitled to embroider the truth a little, aren’t you?

With more 100-plus birthday reports on the horizon, it hopefully means there will be more golden weddings too, another reporter favourite.

Just like a visit to a centenarian, a trip to interview a couple celebrating their golden wedding is always a job to treasure (and not just for the tea and cake).

The family albums usually come out and there will be some wonderful (or sometimes hilarious) story about how they met. One of my favourites was the man who was stood up, and then met the love of his life as he stomped past her at the bus stop.

But the best things are their secrets to a long marriage. It is usually “give and take” and “never going to sleep on an argument”.

But my favourite tale was from a colleague years ago. She came back from an interview looking particularly hassled, which was a bit strange given she had been out quaffing tea all afternoon while the rest of us slaved away writing.

“That,” she said, “was the strangest job I’ve ever been on. They sat at opposite ends of the sofa and when I asked them why they had asked me round, she said it was because her daughter had arranged it, and she didn’t want to upset the kids.

“When I asked them what their secret was, the woman said ‘We haven’t got one. We’ve barely spoken to each other in years’.”

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More ups and downs in the Manston Airport saga.

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Friday, September 26 2014

The saga over Manston Airport has already thrown up plenty of surprises but perhaps the biggest one came this week.

Just days after minister Grant Shapps declared his unwavering support for the airport and left campaigners in a euphoric mood came the news of its sale.

And the new owners dropped a bombshell: in their grand masterplan, regeneration specialists Chris Musgrave and Trevor Carpenter declared there was no place for an airport or any aviation-related services.

There has inevitably been speculation that the idea of a "mixed-use" commercial development outlined by the new owners means something else, namely a sprawling housing development.

The owners firmly reject the claim of uncontrollable housing sprawl insisting they are genuinely committed to establishing a site which has a variety of commercial uses, as well as some residential development.

Either way, Thanet Council is facing both a quandary and an opportunity. The ruling Labour administration is in the throes of deciding whether to push for a CPO in partnership with the American company RiverOak.

The latter has said that so far as they are concerned, the sale of the site to new owners makes no difference to their plan and a commitment to the council to underwrite the costs.

In a sense, RiverOak is right but the same cannot be said for the council.

From a position where there was only one offer on the table, the council now has another, which looks on the surface to have some credibility and would dovetail with the work underway to redevelop the former Pfizer site, the Discovery Park.

The difficulty for the Labour leadership is that it has, until now and very publicly, stood four square behind those who want to see Manston retained as an airport.

Behind the scenes, we know, however, that there is some disquiet among Labour councillors about supporting a CPO even if it is underwritten by RiverOak. Some of that disquiet is also felt by members of the Conservative group.

The report council officials will present to next month's cabinet meeting cannot overlook the new owners' plans, and neither should it.

The political quandary is which option to back. Support a CPO which is bound to lead to a lengthy legal tussle with no guarantee of success or swing behind the alternative business park scheme with its promise of jobs (albeit rather imprecise) and investment.

The consolation for Labour is that precisely the same conundrum faces the Conservative party, which has also been fairly explicit in supporting those who want Manston to be retained as an airport.

The odds last week were on the council backing a CPO. This week, I would say those odds have lengthened considerably.

But next week? Who knows.

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- Taking flight - the fight for Manston. Plus: Home Rule for Kent?

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Friday, September 19 2014

The government has been studiously neutral on the fight to save Manston airport despite the best efforts of MPs and campaigners.

But that changed and changed potentially significantly this week with a visit by the government minister Grant Shapps, the minister without portfolio.

Mr Shapps, greeted like a folk hero, made some of the strongest comments in support of the airport by a senior politician we have heard.

 

 

 Not surprisingly, campaigners who turned out in numbers to hear him, were pretty pleased.

He chose his words carefully, of course, and avoided making concrete pledges but he struck a much more positive and upbeat tone than anyone could have expected.

Why? He certainly seemed genuine enough and it helped that he was able to display his familiarity with the area - he told the crowd that he had used Manston himself and not just as a passenger.

 As a keen pilot, he had flown into Manston in the past and "hoped to do so in the future." (Interestingly, he has ben involved in trying to secure the future of an airport in his own constituency)

An underlying reason is that the fight for Manston will be a key issue in the general election campaign if there is no resolution by next May. The Conservatives locally have no doubt alerted the Tory high command that they cannot afford to let UKIP make the running on the issue.

It was revealing to see the prospective Conservative candidate Craig Mackinlay and the Thanet Conservative group leader Bob Bayford both in attendance.

In the weeks and months to come, we can expect to see a Manston arms race develop among the political parties, manouevering to ensure they are seen as the most interested in securing the airport's future.

And just possibly their own.

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Which brings us to the vexed issue of whether the Labour-run council will seize the moment and back a move to pursue a CPO to acquire the airport from owner Ann Gloag.

There appears to be some disquiet within her own party's ranks over this.

Leaked emails suggest some rather stark divisions not just in the cabinet, which will initially have to put forward a recommendation based on what council officials say.

Some are clearly anxious that they will trigger a lengthy legal wrangle that will drag on for months and with no cast-iron guarantee of success and doubts over the cost to the taxpayer.

My guess is that the meeting scheduled for mid-October will outline the options over teaming up with RiverOak,the American consortium, and recommend the decision should be a matter for the full council.

This would just about be consistent with the rules around the executive decision making process, although ultimately, the cabinet leader would have to sign off any formal decision.

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In the face of the devolution result, attention has turned to whether there should be greater devolution of powers from Whitehall to local tiers of government.

This is tied up with the awkward question over whether there should be a separate parliament for England and whether MPs should only vote on English issues.

The independence vote in Scotland has shown that the public can be engaged in debate around constitutional reform and the outcome does present an opportunity to address some of these other issues.

In Kent, that would almost certainly see a debate break out over the case for some kind of unitary government - an issue that would be as tricky for the Conservatives as Labour.

And I think voters will quickly be turned off if politicians spend more time advancing complex re-organisations and tinkering with the architecture of local government rather than more pressing issues like economy.

 

 

 

 

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And here's another sunset...

by Nikki's world, with Nikki White Wednesday, September 17 2014

It’s that time of year, when most people are back from their summer holiday and want to relive it by showing you the evidence.

The joy (and the cost) of film meant that years ago, if you could afford to go away for a few days, you were careful about what you snapped.

There was no chance of reviewing there and then what you had taken, so most pictures were carefully posed with a countdown of “3,2,1 -cheeeeeeese!” to make sure everybody was simultaneously smiling, looking in the right direction and not blinking.

Weeks later, once the film had been developed (if you have no idea what that means, ask your mum) woe betide anyone who had messed up the money shot with a badly-timed sneeze.

Holiday photos give us the chance to brag about where we’ve been and show just how clever we were to be in the right place at the right time to take a picture of a beautiful sunset.

Funnily enough, there is no evidence of our camping trip to Tenterden when I was about eight.

According to a recent survey by a travel firm, we now take an average of 447 pictures during our foreign holidays including 45 selfies and six of stray cats.

At a couple of quid per roll of film, that would have cost you almost £40, which is why 25 years ago, all holiday photo albums were restricted to the 24 shots on your film (or 36 if you were feeling ambitious).

Now, most people – 66% – take their snaps on smartphones, while 42% use cameras and 27% on tablets.

Few are deleted, which is why trawling through somebody’s holiday album these days is as much about the food, drinks and legs on sun loungers as it is the scenery and wildlife.

Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing them, but I’d prefer an edited version, or better still, a superfast slideshow with equally speedy commentary.

The sad thing is that most never get printed and under half make it onto social media sites, according to the survey.

They clearly didn’t interview some of my Facebook buddies, who have been away for what seems like months and have been uploading photos while they’re away. Don’t you just love looking at pictures of bright blue seas when you’re sitting down of an evening wondering whether it’s too early in the year to turn the heating on?

I am just as guilty at clicking away, although our house is filled with photos capturing precious moments, and we do have one of those digital frames which doesn’t quite fit into the decor of our Victorian cottage, but I love that it means I can look at so many more photos of family and friends.

So here is one of mine. It’s of my hubby in one of our favourite places in the Lake District, where we’ll be returning later this year.

I definitely won’t be sporting a tan by the end of my break, and I can guarantee my photos will be few and far between. There’s only so many times you can capture the magic of fog, rain and pints of beer next to a roaring fire.

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