This has been a really exciting week for Paul Brannen MEP and me, as our team in Brussels joined us in Newcastle for 'Constituency Week'. With the help of two electric LEAF cars kindly lent to us by Nissan we travelled all over the region to meet with local groups and businesses, giving our European office the chance to see the impact of our work in the North East.
The Liberal Democrats are still forecast - by virtue of their ability to agree terms with either a Conservative or Labour led government - to have a better than 50% chance of being in Government after May. So who is still supporting the party and meaning it has a chance to, again, be a governing party?
It is difficult to know whether novelty sock puppet Nigel Farage thinks he and his squinty-eyed troop of yokels have really become a force in UK politics or if he is in fact a fully paid-up stooge of a vast conspiracy of right-wing Tories who communicate via secret messages in the weave of their tweed that only they can understand.
A core strategy approach is fundamentally a risk averse approach. For a politician, especially for the Labour and Conservative parties, that want a chance of ending up in government, a core strategy approach is the best chance of ending up there. The chances of a majority are though, slim. If they want to win on their own then they need to look beyond their core.
In spite of recent suggestions that the group had strengthened the evidence base relating to anti-Muslim prejudice through 'academic research', the harsh reality is somewhat different. In fact there has been no 'academic research' to have emerged from the group, let alone funded by it or indeed government.
Vilification of benefit claimants and disabled people is endemic, perhaps the government should just stitch on the black triangles and be done with it or bring in the Welfare Games to keep us at a more manageable number and remind us how grateful we are for all the 'pitty money' (in Simon Stevens words) that we get.
The church of England has been around since the end of the sixth century, while parliament has only been around in its present form since 1801. The church is far older, it has far more supporters, and if the government thinks that by ignoring it, it will just shut up and go away, then they are in for a very big surprise.
Britain prides itself on its sense of justice, on fair play and sticking up for the underdog. So what's gone wrong? Increasingly, as we look around, we find we're living on Inequality Street. Take, for example, the 2010 austerity programme. In theory the cuts didn't have to target the poorest, but in reality they have. This week The Centre for Welfare Reform published a new report, Counting the Cuts, which measures, not just how large the cuts have been, but also how fair they are, and who is being targeted. The results are shocking.
Weather forecasters have predicted that this year's winter may be one of the coldest on record. While many of us are fortunate to be employed, in a warm and well- heated house, there are millions of people about to face a winter homeless on the streets, unemployed or without support due to policies implemented by the current government.