I'm finding it harder to remember to blog as often so I'm experimenting with doing a bit of a weekly diary. This is my diary for this week, which started on 23rd May. It includes my first speech as opposition leader so it's a bit of a biggie.
I have a job as well as being involved in politics. It's a job I love as a Lecturer at Edge Hill University and Monday morning was the slot for sessions with first and second year students to get them ready for next year. There is some great potential here and I suspect I am going to have to raise my game to keep up with them. I had a session with a postgraduate student too who is doing a 20,000 word dissertation on marketing through social media. I am the "supervisor" for this which isn't as bossy as it sounds - you are meant to give advice and support. This topic sounds brilliant and I can't wait to read this one.
Monday afternoon was casework time. I am dealing with an avalanche of e mails, not all from my own constituents. I had a meeting with one particular couple with major worries re Council tax. We were able to get it sorted out and they went away happy.
Next came the Lib Dem group meeting. I am still getting used to sitting at the front for this! I shared deteails of the shadow cabinet appointments and we had some good discussions about rebuilding.
A whole day on Council stuff. A lot of office work, casework and planning for the AGM in the evening. A student journalist is doing a documentary about me so I had to think through what would work best in terms of filming.
At 5 it was the Council AGM which is partly the ceremonial around the new mayor, and partly decisions about constitutional stuff. To say I was apprehensive about my first speech as leader would be putting it mildly. It went OK though (even got a couple of laughs at my jokes). Luckily I had managed to research a few anecdotes about the incoming Lord Mayor to use. It is a bit odd sitting in the opposition leaders seat and gazing across at, well, rather a lot of Labour Councillors. However now that I have done it I am not daunted.
I'd like to say I got a lot of solid academic work done but I also had to turn my hand to editing and proofing our Liverpool Lib Dem newsletter. I can see that making every single bit of time count is going to be important.
Back to the ward in the afternoon for a couple of home visits. I recruited a new party member too. In the evening I joined the police at a community meeting to look at local priorities. Still lots of problems in one particular part of the ward and the lack of people able to give evidence is causing a major stumbling block. Richard and I agreed to contact the social housing provider to try to get some more action. Professional witnesses would really help here.
Today was the Edgehill Teaching and Learning conference and I was representing my department (media) by giving a talk about how we teach PR. Two students joined me and we were able to explain the pioneering (if a bit risky) approach we take. Lots of enthusiasm from the audience, plus a request from the mayoress of west lancs for some PR support for the mayoral appeal.
In the afternoon I went to the consultation event on the plans to designate Stalbridge Dock as the official "sub regional" waste site for Liverpool. My views on this are well known and this event helped me crystalise what I will say in my submission.
Annoyingly I started the day having to deal with an unfair piece of reporting about the Lib Dems in a local newspaper. This meant finding time to research exactly what had been said to whom and then raising it with the editor (politely - no one likes a shouter). Hopefully they'll print a letter from me in the next few days.
A key member of staff was about to go on leave today so we spent some time going through tasks for the small team supporting the Lib Dem Councillors. There are plenty of interesting jobs to do and I hope the staff don't find me too odd!
This afternoon was a meeting with the three Cressington Councillors and two officers from neighbourhood management. The management is changing as the administration has made clear decisions about which areas are priorities. Cressington is not a priority we are told and we will have to work around this. Such is life. I am sure we can find creative ways to bridge any gaps.
Well Saturday hasn't happened yet but I have the Councillors' surgery and possibly a meeting with local residents about the waste issue. I also have the Lib Dem girl's night out!
And if that pile of student marking is anything to go by, I know what I'll be doing on Sunday!