The Danny Alexander Interview

It was a cosy and intimate affair in the Leaders office for our interview with our Work & Pensions spokesperson and Nick Clegg's chief of staff, Danny Alexander earlier on this week. Chocolate Easter Eggs in lieu of the traditional doughnuts were handed out and the Millennium Elephant took his position on the coffee table (separating me from the chocolate but then that is probably a good thing!!).

Now, whilst the notes I made on the answers to everybody else's questions are copious, my notes on Danny's responses to my own questions are a little threadbare. I am a very active listener, you see, and this requires me to be looking at the person that is talking to me rather than taking notes. If I am going to make a habit of this interviewing lark it may well be worth investing in one of those dinky little dictaphones – or investigating whether my iPhone does the job (surely it does??). So, I'm afraid there'll be no verbatim quoting in this posting!!

As Danny is in charge of preparing the manifesto my questions focussed on what he thought was the Lib Dem narrative, our manifesto and also what we were planning on doing on making our policies attractive to women voters.

His somewhat predictable but slightly frustrating response to the questions about the role and structure of the manifesto (I wasn't the only one asking, by the way, Alex started it) was that it wasn't just him writing the manifesto and there was a whole manifesto sub committee on the Federal Policy Committee and he wasn't going to start second guessing them. He could however report that there is going to be a pre-manifesto document, that will be much shorter and stake out the 'mission' of the party. That's perhaps a safe line to take, especially knowing Lib Dem activists who sometimes seem to me to be unable to countenance any actual leadership by the elected representatives put in charge of these things but I found a little disappointing.

This is a failing in my interview technique, I guess, I'm sure I could have been more aggressive but I was disinclined to be so (seeing as he's one of our own; and I've never done it before and it would have felt rude). However, I do need to develop Eddie Mair like tendencies, rather than John Humphries, because on reflection I think it's possible to provide ones own thoughts about how it should be without usurping the role of the committee that you are chairing.

The pre-manifesto will have themes such as being anti-establishment, pointing out how Labour and Tories work for vested interests and the Lib Dems are the only ones arguing for a dramatic change. Picking up on his remarks about themes I asked him what he thought the narrative should be, and here I make no apologies here for my lack of notes as compelling narrative should stick in the brain without them, but it went a bit like this:

Politics and the country is being run by both Labour and the Tories to deliver what a whole series of vested interests want and not for ordinary people like us. When David Cameron says that society is broken he is wrong; it is politics that is broken not us. Only the Lib Dems are radical enough to break up this cosy consensus.

Which is fine as far as it goes and rather similar to the manifesto themes and not quite tugging on the emotions enough to be a narrative. For my money I would like to see not just an analysis of what happened in the past and what is happening now but some idea of where voting Lib Dem and a Lib Dem government will take us in the future; I want our narrative to give me a glimpse of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I want to know what's in it for me as a voter not just that the Lib Dems are radical and anti-establishment.

It is however further than we have got for many years in defining a narrative for ourselves. The interview originally with Nick was meant to mark his first 100 days; we will be seeing Nick finally at the beginning of May and I hope that he doesn't leave it much longer than that before he defines what the future is going to be like!

If you read back over previous blogs you will see that I have been very excited by how important the women's vote has been in the US Democratic primaries and how both candidates have had to court the women's vote. The Tories have noticed this and published a policy paper to address issues that impact women such as rape convictions, equal pay, childcare provision; and David Cameron was rather compelling on Women's Hour on how much he wanted to welcome women into the party (whether the rest of the party is so keen remains to be seen). I wanted to know whether the manifesto group were thinking of doing anything special given how important the women's vote could be in the next general election.

I think if I had required Danny to give a one word answer to that it would had to have been 'No'. He started off by saying he thought women were just as concerned as men about mainstream measures; which I don't argue with but in the end I think he understood that I was talking about presentation and packaging of those policies to make it clear to women what's in it for them. He mentioned something else about family friendly policies in the workplace and childcare, given that being able to work and get childcare is key to lifting oneself out of poverty.

Firstly I get a bit narked when politicians conflate family friendly policies with women friendly polices; after all, what about women like me that don't have children, of which there are more and more? Plus men should be just as interested in family friendly policies.

Secondly, my feeling was that his lack of thought around marketing ourselves to women was just a lack of thought rather than an antipathy to it. I think we will really miss out on a lot of votes if we ignore the women's vote. After all sorts of other organisation absolutely understand that if they want to reach a certain section of society they need to mould their message to appeal to that group. That's not patronising that paying due respect. But then until we, as a party, start understanding that campaigning is not the same as marketing I don't think we'll be getting much further on that one.

Then came the most joyous part of the interview for me: Helen Duffett, one of my fellow interviewers, started to ask Danny about neo-natal care and classes and their funding and availability. There followed a few minutes of sharing experiences (not mine, see above comment on no children) of neonatal classes and how important they can be to new mothers, families and those wishing to avoid post natal depression – especially relevant given all the work that the Lib Dems have been doing on the lack of mental health services.

These sorts of conversation are rarely held outside WLD or at least in mixed or majority male fora; it was a new experience for me!

I would like to thank Danny very much for standing in for Nick at such short notice and giving us an hour of his time. I do think that we are closer to defining our narrative than we ever have before and I get great comfort from having spoken to Danny. I think there's more work to be done though as I fear we're still confusing themes with narrative and they are very different things.

I had not met Danny before and I found him very pleasant and rather modest. When asked by Millennium Elephant (on behalf of Stephen Tall who couldn't make it so had written in with a question) whether being Nick's Chief of Staff was like being Leo McGarry in The West Wing he first of all suggested that the team that worked for him were more talented than the West Wing team but that his job was much more to do with administration.

Well, I think Danny could afford to be a little less modest and still not be in danger of being arrogant; I think Nick is really quite lucky to have him!

If the first day was going to be such a unique challenge

then why didn't BAA and British Airways do a phased implementation? Why didn't they phase in the use of the terminal route by route? Why go for big bang implementation? There was absolutley no need for the fiasco at Terminal Five to happen.

I understand that the pressure on the Programme Director from the Executive must have been immense but it was madness, storing up trouble, just such a big risk no no, completely unmitigatable to start like this!

Incompetence on behalf of the BA & BAA boards and lack of backbone on behalf of the Programme Management team.

Sexism in the City

This Tuesday the Fawcett Society will be launching their campaign Sexism in the City.

I’ve worked the majority of my working life for Financial Services firms (although not in wholesale or investment banking which I understand are the worst) and most of that has been in the square mile; I can confirm that there is quite a lot of sexism going on.

Sexist ‘events’ or comments or whatever you want to call them happen on a daily basis and I couldn’t tell you if it was getting worse or better. My most recent ‘favourite’ was a couple of weeks ago when I was leading a rather dry but rather complex business requirements workshop. I run a pretty tight ship on these things, especially when there are people on the other end of a phone line as it’s very easy to get bogged down and go off on tangents.

This one guy, oh, probably in his early thirties, already referred to by one of his co-workers as a bit of a loose cannon was constantly talking over other people and several times I had to stop him and ask him to wait a second so that others could finish what they were saying. After about the third time that I had to ask him he announced to the rest of the meeting that he was very glad he wasn’t married to me!

I have to say I was wrong footed by this and it took me a good few seconds to believe that he had just said what he has said in the middle of a work meeting. I am glad to say that the rest of our colleagues looked pretty embarrassed by what he had said and just wanted to move on. Which we did.

Can this man not imagine any role for a woman but to be a potential wife and so feels the need to announce it loudly when someone doesn’t fit the bill?

So, there you go, in one move he attempts to undermine me as a professional in a hope to reduce me to the role of a wife and lets face it not a very nice wife at that…a bossy wife, who doesn’t just let the man ramble on. Of course, a real man like him would never have anything to do with a harpy like me.

And if you think I’m over reacting to how this man reacted to being asked by me to wait until someone else had finished their sentence I wonder if he would have said the same thing to a man? No, of course he wouldn’t.

It was quite an unpleasant thing to say, it was quite spiteful and frankly aggressive but worst of all it was sexist.

Of course, I’m a tough old nut I don’t let something like that get me down, do I? I see it and him for what he is but I wonder what effect it would have had on me had I been younger or slightly more sensitive.

And it is just one more example about how women are objectified in the City. Being a liberal then if my male clients or co-workers want to go and have lap dancers titillate them of an evening that that’s their prerogative. But I have to say it’s a close run thing, as I’m not convinced that it doesn’t do any harm to women. I wonder if they find it so easy to purchase sexual titillation and see women only as something to buy how they manage to switch the next morning into treating the women they work with as equal professionals. Surely, the lines between female colleague and sexual object must blur?

I have no desire to work in an environment devoid of humour or humanity but I do want to work in an environment where my abilities, skills, experience and excellent delivery is undermined by some men’s view of women.

I don’t mind what people get up to in private as long as it is consensual but I am getting increasingly worried by the objectification of women in the media, on the internet, in drinking clubs and (most of all) on billboards around London; basically in public. I think it sends out the wrong message to both girls and boys and I think we are a poorer society for it. And I’m pretty sure that it impacts how seriously I am taken in my professional life, by some people, because I am a woman and that really, really winds me up.

London Conference getting it right on Gender Balance

I went to one of the best London Spring Conference's in years on Tuesday night. Let's face it, it was a great line up with both Brian Paddick and Nick Clegg speaking. As Jonathan Fryer says on his blog, Nick is doing really well in endearing himself to the membership with humour and just a general feeling of accessibility, like he did at the federal Spring Conference in Liverpool.

Many people say that whilst David Cameron may come across well on TV and Radio, in the flesh he is completely lacking in charisma. Well, Nick comes across well on TV and is even better in the flesh!!! I may not currently be a cat owner, but I used to be!

But, what was really good to see at the London Spring Conference were the number of women being elected or on candidate lists, or otherwise involved in the Lib Dems in London, including myself! In fact, you could almost say there was a lack of gender balance at Hamilton House last night; in favour of women for once!

First we had four recent council by election winners from across London, all women; the Baroness Sally Hamwee chairing a session; Jill Fraser, a Lib Dem councillor in Camden introduced Baroness Sarah Ludford MP and then during the policy consultation session, myself, Chamali Fernando and Caroline Pigeon were all involved in facilitating what was an excellent discussion.

So, we have a had a good year, getting in more diverse councillors, getting great women like Dinti Batstone to number 3 on the Euro List, and getting 2 out of the top five places in the GLA list.

This truly was a celebration of the fantastic female talent that we have in London; surely nobody can suggest that there aren't enough women who are 'good enough' in London?

History according to the MoD

A good half hour of my morning was spent making increasingly sarcastic comments at each of theToday Programme's news items confirming to me that the world would be a much better place if I was involved in running it!

Can somebody just explain to me how the Ministry of Defence came to be writing lesson plans? I mean, putting aside the obvious opportunities for propaganda, isn't that what teachers are supposed to do?

Does this government and Gordon Brown's need to be in control of everything mean that teachers are reduced to acting as government talking heads?

What other lesson plans are being provided by government departments?

The fact that I was in work at any sort of time resembling 'on time' was as a result of being forced to get up and move away from the radio before the absurdity of labour apparatchiks belief that they know better than everybody about everything, made me do something regretable to it. Left to me and Southern Railways I would have indeed been my customary 'gone 9'!

Worrying about homophobia in schools? Don't be so gay...

Zoe Williams has got a particularly irritating column in the Guardian today where she argues that the routine use of the word gay as an insult in schools today should just be accepted as a done deal.

Apparently because school children do not mean ‘homosexual’ when they call their peers gay but rather ‘crap’ or ‘stupid’, then use of the word is fine! If we try and challenge it we’ll just make it worse, so best just walk away and let them get on with it.

I’m not gay but I am female and I know that when people use the word ‘girl’ or ‘woman’ in a pejorative term, as one of the young men sitting near me did the other day, when he suggested that his football team played like a bunch of girls, I find it pretty offensive. I like being a woman and I enjoyed being a girl, I think it’s a pretty cool thing to be (pay and power gap notwithstanding, obviously). I certainly don’t like my sex or gender being conflated with a rubbish team of footballers!!

As one of the commenters points out in her column Zoe Williams manages to reduce bullying and prejudice to semantics. Yes, language changes and I’m all for a living vibrant language. But changes in language do not happen by coincidence. I think the fact that gay, in the playground, now means rubbish, crap or broken is as a result of homophobia. What about those teenagers who are gay and hurt by these insults being thrown around? What about the gay teachers and adults around them? Did Zoe Williams consider them when she suggested that we all give up because teenage ‘yoof’ culture will win out in the end.

I know that teenagers use language to shock and rebel; but what if we’re not shocked by it? Then it just becomes common place and I don’t want to live in a world where using words such as gay, girl and woman, words that are used to describe groups of people, are everyday insults.

What is it with adults today? Are we so much in thrall to the concept of youth that we must follow teenagers lead, even when we’re being led into the world of the playground bullies? Teenagers are not fully mature and both those hurling the insults and those receiving them may not have the ability to understand the nuances between gay being used to mean homosexual and gay being used to mean crap or rubbish.

I don’t have children myself but I do mentor a teenager. Part of that mentoring is about providing him with an insight into my values and setting him boundaries of behavior, as well as listening to him and being his friend. But when the chips are down, I’m the adult and it is my job to guide him through the grey areas of what is right and what is wrong, not his to guide me. So, from taking things to lost property when you find them in the playground instead of pocketing them, to not sneaking underneath the tube gates without paying and, yes, to showing him how words can hurt, I help provide him with a set of values which I hope will make him into a sensitive, thoughtful and honest adult.

Sure, I can’t stop a teenager from using gay as an insult, but I can give him my opinion of it when he or she does; it’s just as much my language as it is his or hers.

Because it is an uphill struggle doesn’t mean I’m going ever think it is OK to use the word gay as an insult. Zoe Williams can argue that trying to challenge the use of the word is pointless but I’d rather stick with Stephen Williams and the Lib Dem campaign against homophobic bullying in schools. Of course it is up to teachers to set the boundaries for children’s and teenagers behaviour in schools just as it is up to parents, youth workers and other volunteers to do so out of school. Where are young people meant to learn about kindness and sensitivity if we, as adults, get too caught up in the semantics of language to bother?

The Carnival of Feminists

The 55th Carnival of Feminists is up on Penny Red right now (time seems to run faster over there), with my posting from yesterday on domestic violence as part of the carnival.

For those of you who dismiss feminism as man bashing then have a read of this blog, from the carnival.

Calling all men who don't like violence

Saturday was International Women’s Day. I didn’t get any flowers, or a cup of tea in bed or anything like that. Am I not an international woman?

And I didn’t even get to go to the Million Women Rise March in London because I went up to the Liberal Democrat Conference for the weekend. I did though comfort myself with the Women Liberal Democrats (WLD) fringe session in celebration of the day. I would like to thank Cllr Bobbie Chettleburgh for bringing up the issue of domestic violence in the UK in the session; I had been preparing this blog on rape and domestic violence for some days and it was good to know that I wasn’t the only person up there getting more and more concerned.

Although I didn’t make it to the march this Saturday, I did go, with my Mum, on the Reclaim the Night march last November. My favourite slogan was:

“Whatever I wear, wherever I go
Yes means yes and no means no”

Which in a country, like ours, where the conviction rate for rapes hangs around the 5.7% mark is something that clearly needs repeating; and I did, very loudly, all the way up Charing Cross Road that Saturday night!!

5.7% It’s an appalling statistic, isn’t it? And a statistic that the police know that they’ve got to improve on, as much of the problem is as a result of victims dropping out of the process:

“research shows that attrition - or cases dropping out - happens at every stage from initial complaint to trial. But Yates said the biggest attrition rate was with the initial police investigation. If inertia followed a complaint, "what was always going to be a difficult case can often become an impossible one"

By the time the police have got involved, it’s already too late, the crime has been committed. Our aim should be to stop the crimes in the first place.

All types of violence against women, not just sexual, is very, very common. One in four women will experience some kind of domestic violence during their life time. (I realise domestic violence is a far wider category than rape, but stick with me for the moment).

And if that many women experience domestic violence it means that there are a lot of men out there being violent towards women.

So, how many? Well, I don’t know and nor does anybody else, because it’s not the kind of thing we talk about in polite company. But what if it was, for example, a 3:1 ratio to account for say more than one woman being subject to violence from the same man or the few women who receive violence at the hand of another woman? That’s still millions of men and that really is shocking. I can hardly believe that number myself and I don’t find domestic violence hard to imagine at all; I know women who have experienced domestic violence and I’ve witnessed it. Yes, me the epitome of middle class, female professional!

Violence towards women is one of life’s great levelers; in both victims and perpetrators it crosses class, income group, educational attainment, colour, nationality, race, religion, political views, language and age.

And it makes me wonder, how many people have to be doing something before it becomes a cultural norm?

It’s not a new fangled thing, sweeping the nation like bird flu could. I think it has always been ‘acceptable’ to be violent towards women, behind closed doors.

I think the situation may even be improving, it’s hard to know. What is good is that the police now take it more seriously and don’t stand there like a bunch of lemons, as they used to in the seventies, in people’s driveways refusing to come across the threshold because ‘it’s a domestic’ and therefore none of their business.

Improving it may be but it’s not gone. Making something illegal doesn’t change whether it’s culturally acceptable. Proactive prosecution of the crime, when it comes to light is definitely a start but we need more than just the law.

Silence about something, not mentioning it, like we don’t mention the prevalence of domestic violence, is tantamount to being complicit.

And this is, of course, where the solution lies. Last year, I blogged about the White Ribbon Campaign. I was very excited because this is a campaign by men to stop male violence against women. Domestic violence is too often treated like a women’s issue. But it’s not a women’s issue, it’s a man’s issue. And whilst men are the problem they are also the solution.

The White Ribbon Campaign aims to get men to create the new cultural norm that it’s not acceptable to be violent towards women. It works by getting men talking about it and promoting that there is nothing masculine about hitting women.

You know, I am pretty sure, that me blogging about the fact that it’s wrong to hit women isn’t really going to have any impact on a man’s behavior, if he is that way inclined. He probably already knows that women don’t like it; but if he overhears, perhaps at the pub or in the office, another man start talking about how unacceptable it is, how unmanly it is, then that might just make a difference.

So back to the issue with rape.

I was interested to read on PC Bloggs how many of the commenters on a recent post about rape were concerned about the inability to work out what has happened if the woman is say, drunk or not. But this I think is missing the point and ignoring what consent is.

Positive consent is not the absence of dissent. It should be very clear to a man when a women is consenting to sex, there should be no mistake. If a man waits for a woman to give positive consent to sex then he is not in danger of raping her. There should be no waiting for a woman to say no. If she can’t say no, because she’s too drunk, then she can’t say yes, can she? A woman who is playing hard to get is not giving positive consent.

As the chant goes, it doesn’t matter what a woman is wearing only yes means yes and no most definitely means no.

Again, the solution is in changing the norms of behavior or in other words the prevalent culture that finds an absence of dissent a case for assuming there was consent. It is men who need to be demand positive consent from their sexual partners and not go forward without it, not women who need to be clearer. It is men who are the solution.

So, to all you guys who have read as far as this, I say: Please, don’t think because you would never dream of being violent towards another person or not getting anything less than positive consent that you have no part to play in changing these pernicious norms of society. Even though you may not be aware, it is likely you will know women who have experienced domestic violence and probably the men who have perpetrated it.

I am looking at those men, who know that violence is wrong and who understand what positive consent means, to help spread the word to all men what is and isn’t acceptable.

If you want to find out how then join the White Ribbon Campaign and pass it on.

Blog Awards: Chuffed of Crystal Palace!

I am naturally quite a smiley person but I think on Saturday night I took grinning to new widths when I heard my name being announced as the winner of the Campaign for Gender Balance Best Blog Post and had the, unique in my life time, experience of being presented with a little trophy cup!!

Other winners, as those who have been following these things know already, were People’s Choice Best Lib Dem Blog winner, Lynne Featherstone, Judge’s Choice Best Lib Dem Blog Alix Mortimer and Best non Lib Dem blog Betsan Powys.

Now, back to the cup…I have never, ever received a cup for anything in my entire life, ever before!!! I was tempted later on that evening to take this gorgeous little cup down with me for dinner at the Malmaison, but thought that sort of behaviour was more reminiscent of a six year old rather than a thirty six year old and not Malmaisonish at all. Still, I did sleep with it on my bedside table, so loath was I to let it out of my sight!!

The recognition for the blog post, was quite nice to receive too, no sorry, it was very nice, sublime, in fact, and I am dead chuffed. I was particularly interested to hear in the Lib Dem Voice podcast published last night, some of the comments that were made by the judges about my post; it was very handy to have the feedback about accessibility and also the good use of photos. I was obviously present when these comments were first made but my attempts at looking serene while waiting to hear the result meant that processing any other words but my own name was beyond me.

I am very pleased that it was a post on a topic so close to my heart and one that was acknowledged as controversial. I am going to take Mary Reid’s advice and let Johanna Sumuvuori MP know that meeting her led to me writing this post and that led to an award!

Meeting up with the other bloggers was great, if a little surreal as we all felt we knew each other already. I was also particularly pleased to see that the audience had plenty of men in it. I don’t want to live in a ‘women only’ blogging ghetto; I even caught sight of a certain fluffy elephant!

If you haven’t listened to it so far, do listen to Alix’s acceptance speech on the LDV podcast. It is natural for many liberals, I think, to question the need for a separate Campaign for Gender Balance Blog Awards, however as Alix pointed out, although some of us may have all the confidence we need to start blogging, others, whose voices are just as important, may need more encouragement. If nothing else, these awards have made the most confident conscious of that fact that not everybody has that attribute, which may be an invisible barrier to them getting their voice heard. Why is that a gender issue? Well, you just have to look at the outcome: the still relatively few numbers of lib dem women bloggers compared to male ones. It is not that women don’t have anything to say, they are just worried that nobody will want to listen.

Throughout the whole process, from having one of my blog posts nominated, to getting short listed and of course to winning a category, I have been tremendously encouraged. I hope that the posting that won can hold its own amongst both men and women as a good blog post but I am sure over the last few months I have become more confident in defining my own blogging voice that is unashamedly female, feminine and womanly as well as liberal and democratic!

Blimey! Quotas for Board Directors!

Or: is Norway just a very good country to be a woman in?

This article from Guardian Unlimited caught my eye, unsurprisingly this morning! It looks at a new law brought out in Norway, which states that 40% of a company’s directors must be female; yes, my eyes nearly popped out of my sockets too! Apparently all but 12 companies have done it!!

There is a strong economic case for diversity in business and Norway at least recognises that ‘lack of experience’ (read: lack of supply) is not the only reason why in 2002 only 7.1% of board directors were female.

Are quotas the answer for us in the UK? Well, I suspect not. We have yet to recognise the benefits that diversity brings and we just don’t have the same culture of action in favour women’s equality that they have in Scandinavia. Although, its fair to say, that the debate in Norway’s was framed in terms of economic necessity rather than gender equality but I don’t see much evidence of even that level of sophistication in the diversity debate, if there is one, in the UK.

However, one comment by Marit Hoel, a Norwegian sociologist and the Director of the Centre for Corporate Diversity, made me smile as it reflect some of my own impatience with women’s position in business but also in terms of their representation in politics. She says:

"I would have preferred the quota to be voluntary - but that would have meant waiting another 35 years”.

Yes, 35 years, I’ll be 71 and hopefully settling down to lots of book reading and pottering, although with less money and pensions than my current male equivalents, of course.

Often when I am voicing my frustration at the slow progress being made in increasing the number of women in positions of power in politics, let alone in parliament I am told (most often it has to be said by men who are somewhat younger than me) to be patient as it’s all going in the right direction.

Well, it’s not going in the right direction for a start, we have 2 less female MPs now than we had after the 2005 general election and female membership of boards is at a 9 year low.

And as for being patient, it will take 200 years before there is equality in the UK parliament. I think it’s fair to say, even with medical advancement as it is, I’ll be long gone before then; so will hundreds of other skilled and talented women, already around, but sadly missing from the green and red benches. So telling me to be patient, that things are progressing OK, is a bit like telling me to give up and forget it.

Feeding the counter story: why do we do it??

What’s the Number One Lib Dem counter story? You know, the comments that are made every time to tell people you are a Lib Dem in the office or up the pub?

Yes, that’s right, there’s always some snide comment about the Lib Dems sitting on the fence.

Except that up until yesterday, and the abstention from voting on whether to have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty or not, I always thought it was a bit unfair.

Did anybody count the number of times they mentioned Lib Dems and sitting on the fence on the Today programme, this morning? Well, no, I didn’t count either but it was a lot.

You know, there’s counter stories about all politicians and political parties but I’m sure we must be the only one that invites the counter story around our house for a slap up dinner!!

It will blow over; we will all move on. But what a self inflicted mess!! What is logical (and whether it was is a moot point) is not always politic. Having fed this particular counter story, good and proper, it’ll just be one more barrier to overcome on the way to power.


Hooray for Crystal Palace!

At last they have announced the 'potential' training venues for the Olympics and thank goodness the National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace is one of them.

It's been quite difficult to find out about this over the last couple of years and my only hope of a consolation prize for our fantastic park being completely ignored as a potential events venue. Still, I reckon that out of the 96 potential training venues in London we, with 20 different sports on offer, have more variety and scope than any of the other training venues.

Now, rather like signing up to a dating (I assume ;-)) we have to wait for some attractive country to come and choose us as their training venue; I wonder what they'll be like...more to the point, how much hanging around the telephone will we have to do before we find out?

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