2013 has been a blast…here’s to 2014!

December 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

Me at Lib Dem Conference, in Glasgow, in September.

Me at Lib Dem Conference, in Glasgow, in September.

Well, what a year eh?

So much has happened that it’s literally impossible to try and cover it all here, so instead I’m going to pinpoint a few highlights.

First of all it’s remained (and remains) the greatest honour of my professional life to represent the good people of Barwell as their Councillor; in March, as the Barwell representative on HBBC’s Planning Committee, I was proud to successfully propose an important new development for my village, which will bring in almost £40million of inward investment…including vitally needed new infrastructure!

I was also proud to vote, along with colleagues, for thousands of new jobs coming into the Borough and-after years of people talking about it but not delivering-to vote for a new Bus Station development in Hinckley.

A Lib Dem administration delivering for the people of Hinckley and Bosworth!

I’m also proud of our Lib Dem-run Parish Council in Barwell and, especially, our newest Councillor-elected in a by-election in February-Charlotte Green who, I think, is going to have a very bright future in our Party.

Meanwhile, in 2013, I’ve traveled up and down the Country with the Lib Dems, from Manchester, to Brighton, Birmingham, to Glasgow; all in the name of spreading the good name of Liberal Democracy.

Autumn Federal Conference, in Glasgow, in September, was a particular highlight…making my Conference floor debut, asking a question to the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (about free transport for young people, since you asked) and also appearing on a number of national news/politics programmes: BBC Parliament, 5 News, The Daily Politics, and a live edition of Newsnight.

Earlier this year I also appeared on The Big Questions and, recently, on the East Midlands opt-out of The Sunday Politics.

In the run-up to Conference I was exceptionally honoured to be shortlisted for the Lib Dem Voice website’s Lib Dem Councillor of the Year.

Although the title itself went to someone else, even to be shortlisted was wonderful and very affirming that all my hard work is appreciated.

I’ve also been fortunate to be able to indulge another passion…writing.

I’ve written for, among others, The Guardian, the New Statesman’s Staggers blog, and PinkNews-Europe’s Largest Gay News Service.

I’m proud to be part of a number of organisations which do tremendous work and was honoured, earlier this year, to become a Director of Republic-The Campaign for an Elected Head of State, whilst continuing as a Council Member of the Social Liberal Forum, a pressure group within the Liberal Democrats.

Locally, I’m so very proud of the work we’ve achieved on moving forward with ensuring we provide the best service we can for the LGBT community in Hinckley and Bosworth.

Proud Generation (part of Next Generation, of whom I’m a Management Committee member) continued its locally groundbreaking work as the Borough’s first LGBT Advocacy and Advice service.

Meanwhile I also created a little bit of history, bringing the first LGBT item to my Council’s Scrutiny Commission…and making a speech talking about my experience of Coming Out a couple of years ago.

I was also proud this year to become Coordinator of Lib Dems For A Republic and Cofounding, with my lovely mate Matt Whittles, Fairtrade Future, the Fairtrade movement within the Liberal Democrats.

Also, there’s far too many highlights to mention, over the past year, in my HBBC roles of Children and Young People’s Champion and Fairtrade Champion.

Outside of politics, I’ve loved all the things I’ve been able to do locally…including Co-Chair Barwell Carnival with the fantastic Alison Poxon, and helping to organise/compere a number of events, including ‘Brass On The Grass’ and ‘Barwell Schools Sing Christmas,’ as well as being part of two shows directed by the fabulous and lovely Jenni Hunt.

Another joy was being able to meet and work with Love Hinckley, a group set up to help promote local Small and Medium Sized businesses…here’s to the two ladies behind it, Cathy Phayres and Clare Farrell.

In work, it’s remained an honour to be a member of staff at local charity, The George Ward Centre.

And finally, but most importantly of all, I couldn’t do any of this without the love and support-and occasional much needed guidance-of my family and friends.

You mean more to me than I can say!

So, that was 2013…here’s to an even busier and more fantastic 2014!

Cheers!

Mathew.

“Discrimination and prejudice are wrong in all their forms”-my speech on LGBT rights to HBBC Scrutiny Commission

November 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

The following is the speech I gave at last night’s meeting of Scrutiny Commission at Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council at the Hinckley Hub; in an item on Support and Provision for the LGBT Community in Hinckley and Bosworth (which I’d asked be looked at by Scrutiny; as far as I know the first item of its kind at the Council):

“Thank you, Mr Chairman.
I’m pleased that this item is before us, following my requesting it be brought before Scrutiny earlier this year.
Nationwide this has been an amazing year for advancing equality-with Equal Marriage for Same Sex couples in England and Wales becoming law and, after yesterday’s vote, it’s well on the way to becoming law in Scotland too.
I hope, in the fullness of time, Northern Ireland will also follow suit.
But in local communities-including here in Hinckley and Bosworth-there is still more to do for there to be true equality and understanding among different sections of the community.
I pay tribute to the fantastic work of Proud Generation, which I’ve seen first hand as a Management Committee member of Next Generation.
Shani and Rebecca and their small team have done a fantastic job in delivering the first Borough-wide LGBT Advocacy and Advice Service, a real breakthrough for Hinckley and Bosworth; and I was proud to be in attendance at a number of the events listed in the report.
Each of them a first in the Borough-including yesterday’s Transgender Day of Remembrance Service at St Mary’s Church in the town, which sadly I couldn’t attend due to work commitments but at which I know the Borough Council was represented.
I wish a group like Proud Generation had been in the borough when I was growing up.
I’m sure, if it had, I wouldn’t have waited sixteen years before Coming Out.
It is the fear of how people will react, of facing potential discrimination; especially as a young person when growing up can be hard enough as it is.
And having people who’ve been through it all before and can provide help, support and reassurance is a real help.
That is why, in my view, we must ensure that Proud Generation’s work is able to continue, including-dare I say it-by providing financial assistance.
It would be a real tragedy if, this important work having been started, it had to stop due to a lack of resources.
In my own small way I hope to be a voice for the LGBT Community on this Council and have, in some small ways, including by getting the Stonewall youth survey linked to on the HBBC website and, indeed, getting this item brought before Scrutiny, attempted to help move things forward.
Discrimination and prejudice are wrong in all their forms and we need to do all we can-on this authority and partner agencies-to spread understanding, justice and peace.”

‘Now, surely, the only way is up,’ my first piece for ‘The Noticeboard Daily’

May 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

The following piece (published today), my first for excellent new website ‘The Noticeboard Daily, sets out my thoughts about last night’s local election results for the Liberal Democrats and how there is hope among the rather disappointing results:

http://noticeboardblog.squarespace.com/politics/2012/5/4/there-is-hope-in-these-liberal-democrat-results.html

Lib Dems must punch above our weight…but beware a knock-out blow!

April 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

Canadian Liberal MP Justin Trudeau celebrates after winning a charity boxing match

I wonder if you, like me, follow Canadian politics and, especially, the fortunes of The Liberal Party of Canada?

If you don’t then you probably won’t be aware that recent years has sadly seen a decline in its fortunes.

For most of the last Century, the Canadian Liberals were that country’s Government.

However, the past few years have not been kind for them and in Canada’s last General Election, held in May last year, it returned just 34 seats in the House of Commons…losing, for the first time, it’s place as being either the Government or the Official Opposition.

Rather reminiscently of the situation here, The Liberals are now Canada’s third party.

They are currently led by Interim Leader Bob Rae MP, following the resignation of previous head honcho Michael Ignatieff after the disastrous election result.

There’s lots of talk that when the contest for the next Leader takes place (which, for some reason I’m yet to quite understand, won’t be until next year), the torch will pass a generation to 40-year old Justin Trudeau MP.

Mr Trudeau is the son of legendery former Liberal Leader and Canadian Prime Minister, the late Pierre Trudeau, (who was PM from 1968 to 1979.)

Being the son of a former Prime Minister already gives him a spotlight, but Mr Trudeau also has good looks and relative youth to go with his strong political lineage.

Indeed, he recently showed off his physical prowess and youthful male virility in a charity boxing match.

He took on and beat Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau.

This rather puts Tony Blair’s beating aged European leaders when cycling at an international summit a few years ago in the shade!

If he does become his Party’s next leader I’m sure Mr Trudeau will realise that as his Party no longer has the Parliamentary strength it once did, it must find new, innovative ways to reach out to the electorate.

It must literally punch above its weight.

It’s something we Lib Dems here in Britain have been doing for many long years and, especially, since entering into Government.

With 57 MP’s we are clearly dwarfed, in terms of Parliamentary numbers, by Labour and the Conservatives.

But, we Lib Dems are nothing if not fighters, both in community politics at a local level and at Westminster.

We’ve managed to get in the occasional powerful jab…whether it be raising the lower end tax rate or re-linking pensions to earnings…but we need to be very aware that one of our larger rivals may be ready to knock us out with a killer punch.

One such shot across our bows could well be the proposed changes in terms of how Government and related agencies can snoop on our electronic communications.

We must resist such illiberal moves at all costs.

For if we don’t, we’ll not only become a less liberal and free country…as a Party we’ll lose our Unique Selling Point.

And that, I suggest, could really leave us face down on the mat.

Facing the ten count.

‘We need to make sure all of our children get a good start in life…’ My latest piece for ‘Left Central’

April 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

The following is my latest blog post for ‘Left Central.’

It challenges my fellow Liberal Democrats to challenge Education Secretary Michael Gove’s rightward-lurch when it comes to how our children are educated.

In this piece I also defend the concept of comprehensive education.

Here it is: http://leftcentral.org.uk/2012/04/05/would-you-trust-michael-gove-with-your-child/

We need ‘shovel ready projects’…my reaction to the Budget and debut piece for ‘Shifting Grounds’

March 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is my debut piece, published today, for ‘Shifting Grounds,’ an excellent new blog dedicated to discussing a new politics for the Common Good.

In it I give my initial reaction to yesterday’s budget.

http://shiftinggrounds.org/2012/03/give-us-new-deal-nick/

‘Why I’ve joined Liberal Left’…my latest blog post for ‘Left Central’

March 17, 2012 § 1 Comment

The following is a link to my latest blog post for ‘Left Central.’

It sets out why, this week, I’ve joined ‘Liberal Left,’ a left-wing caucus within the Liberal Democrats.

Here it is: http://leftcentral.org.uk/2012/03/15/why-ive-joined-liberal-left/

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