Thursday 31st August 2006

11:58 pm

And it's goodnight from me...

Gravatar It's official, and minuted accordingly, and I will cease to be Chair of Dulwich & West Norwood Liberal Democrats on 31 December, despite the possibility of running for a third term. I hate being Chair. It's not that I don't like the people I have to work with, nor the endless committee meetings (although they are endless, tend to start at times that cause me to leave work earlier than is

11:25 pm

Sapphire & Steel Go Back to School

Gravatar It’s the end of August, and deep inside me a boyish instinct says it’s time to go back to school. One of the most terrifying things I ever saw as a boy was an episode of the weird Joanna Lumley and David McCallum supernatural / science fiction / horror investigation series Sapphire & Steel, a series that came to a premature and pitiless end 24 years ago today. Now it’s being made again as a series of audio dramas and, appropriately, the latest one out is The School. It won’t make you keen to rush back to the classroom. ...
11:18 pm

Congrats Alex :)

Gravatar Iain Dale shines a light on the political blogosphere each week on the Channel 4 News Morning Report. The Morning Report is great - radio reception is pretty universally rubbish on my train line, so having an easy to digest up-to-date news bulletin on my iPod by the time I leave the house is just great. Anyway, [...]
11:06 pm


Gravatar I see from Bernie that today is Blog Day 2006 - who knew? Apparently we’re supposed to recommend five blogs: Bloggers from all over the world will post a recommendation of 5 new Blogs, Preferably, Blogs different from their own culture, point of view and attitude There’s a little time left before midnight, so here are five [...]
10:53 pm

Today is Blog Day

Gravatar At least according to Agent Mancuso. So I will take the opportunity to squeeze under the wire My five in alphabetical order are.............. 1. Life at the Edge 2. Rachel from North London 3. Stranger in a strange land 4. The Policemans Blog 5. Worldwide Sawdust
10:15 pm

Blair loses it completely

Gravatar We already have a situation whereby social services are inclined to intervene when parents shout at their children. Blair fails to recognise that state intervention in child rearing has a track record of resulting in problems and should only be used in extremis.
9:58 pm

Blog Day 2006

Gravatar Today, according to OpenDemocracy is Blog Day 2006. The idea, apparently, is to: to help avid blog-surfers discover new or unknown Blogs and for everyone to celebrate the discovery of new people and new bloggers.with the result that: In one long moment In August 31st, bloggers from all over the world will post a recommendation of 5 new Blogs, Preferably, Blogs different from their own culture,
9:44 pm

Kettle Chips (with added vinegar)

Gravatar Three months ago, I pondered (fisked might be more accurate) one of Martin Kettle's more egregious articles. Today he wrote - though that may be too strong a word - a piece, Three cheers for the Kennedy cover-up, so utterly devoid of substance, style or wit that - laughably brief though it is - he finds himself quite incapable of sustaining any argument beyond the first tired sentence. I have
9:36 pm

'Violent porn ban' revisited

Gravatar There’s been a healthy debate among various Lib Dem bloggers - here, here and here, for example - taking to task the Government for what is being labelled the ‘violent porn ban’, following the tragic death of Jane Longhurst. I wrote about this (here) a year ago, when the proposals were first brought forward, arguing: Those of an authoritarian bent (and they're at least as prevalent on the left as
9:26 pm

Even Government Ministers get rained on...

Gravatar What with it being August and all, it rained in Manchester today. I got rained on walking to my car, and I got rained on walking from my car to the office. ANd then, no sooner had I arrived in the office, than the fire alarm went off. Discounting the fact that a fire somehow broke out when everything for miles around was rendered non-flamable by the incessant rain, my stay in the fire assembly
9:13 pm

Secure? Come off it!

Gravatar This article in the Spectator (free registration required, will disappear behind subscription wall at some point) points to the Information Commissioner's report on "blagging" for personal data. Basically, you can buy non-sensitive (but nevertheless confidential) data like ex-directory phone numbers for less than a hundred quid, and highly sensitive data like police records for at most a few
9:00 pm

Who built Drax?

Gravatar There is an irony in today's demonstrations at Drax power station. As the late Paul Foot recalled in what must have been one of his last columns for the Guardian: The decision to build Drax B was taken by a Labour government in 1977 after what Tony Benn - the energy secretary at the time - tells me was a "tremendous battle" with the nuclear industry and big business, which was ideologically suspicious of publicly owned industry and/or the National Union of Mineworkers.This is something to remember when Benn complains that George W. Bush has "torn up the Kyoto ...
8:37 pm

Hurst stays off the booze

Gravatar Today's Times extracts from Greg Hurst's book do not dwell on Charles Kennedy's problems with drink and are all the more interesting for it. The first looks at Lib-Lab co-operation in the Kennedy years, and the second looks at the relations between Kennedy and Paddy Ashdown. Stephen Tall points out that it is possible to buy Hurst's book via Amazon and help party funds in the process, thus salving your conscience.
8:09 pm

Day 2065: But What is Steven Byers FOR?

Gravatar Tuesday "Lord Blairimort Returns" When lost fragments of his homeworld (America) were discovered in a galaxy far, far away [R: wrong franchise!] Lord Blairimort disappeared without trace. But after a long summer holiday searching, he found only depressing cinders orbiting the burned out ruin of a minor (pop) star. His quest a failure, Lord Blairimort resolved to return to Britain to continue his mission to bring us Truth (as he sees it), Justice (ish) and the American Way! Look, Brian Singer found it difficult enough to make a go of this when he was casting gooder-than-good SUPERMAN in the ...
7:22 pm

More4: Do not show this at news time!

Gravatar Or the collective euphoria might overwhelm us.
6:18 pm

Feel dirty, feel good

Gravatar Here's an easy way to assuage any guilt you might be feeling about buying a copy of Greg Hurst's warts 'n' all biography, Charles Kennedy: A Tragic Flaw*. Buy it through Amazon via this link, and you'll earn commission for the Lib Dems. It's a win-win. PS: Will Howells has noticed how the publishers appear - sensibly - to have changed the title from the tastelessly over-dramatic A Fatal Flaw
6:16 pm

A Realignment of the Right on the Cards?

Gravatar I think that there is going to be some serious bloodletting soon amongst the Tories soon. With George Osborne talking about shifts towards green taxation, today and tomorrow will have some Tories spluttering over their cornflakes as they read their Torygraphs. They'll be embracing proportional representation for Westminster next at this rate... My prediction is that we are seeing the beginning of the realignment of the Right in British politics with traditionalist Tories breaking away and either forming their own party or joining up with UKIP. The latter possibility would certainly increase if Nigel Farage were to win ...
6:02 pm

"Past precedent, future Presidents"

Gravatar Nip across to if you want to read my guest article about the race to become the next Lib Dem president. A lively discussion appears to be well under way there (as ever). The race to become the next Lib Dem president has even been mentioned once or twice. The poll over at m'other site - who would you vote for given the choice of the nine names I've oh-so-helpfully chosen for
6:00 pm

Praise for Ming in 'The Times'

Gravatar Peter Riddell in 'The Times' today writes a very fair assessment of the Kennedy resignation episode and Ming's leadership: Sir Menzies...did not instigate, or organise, the anti-Kennedy moves last December. It was much broader than that. Consequently, there is no reason to question Sir Menzies’s legitimacy now. He may be an interim leader...Sir Menzies has restored stability to the Lib Dems,
5:44 pm

Ahh, I wondered why I’d had a load of hits from the BBC recently

Gravatar As handsome doctor Chris points out, this blog was quoted on Radio 4’s The World At One on Tuesday. I can’t say I’d noticed - I was swimming at the time, and Shaun Ley doesn’t sound so good when you’re fighting cramp. I’ve just ‘listened again’, and the quote taken from the blog makes Matthew Taylor snort [...]
5:10 pm

Polish Migrant Workers

Gravatar Letter to Herald E xpress 310806 ; As a TGWU member I was delighted to read of Cllr Jennings; leader of the Torbay Liberal Democrat council group, lending his continued support to ensure that the same employment rights are afforded to Polish workers, especially in relation to the national minimum wage. The trade union maxim of equal pay for work of equal worth needs to be enforced for equality before the law is a cornerstone of democratic society that needs to be upheld. The council are therefore to be commended ...
5:06 pm

Its the puddles

Gravatar The link is to a Birmingham Post story about Gas. I have also prepared now a draft submission to the OFT about the gas market. That has gone out to consultation to the IESP. What will happen this winter will, of course, depend primarily on the weather. A second factor that I don't have full understanding about as yet is the small puddles (not really puddles, but not pools) of gas that it is said
4:39 pm

On the box

Gravatar I have come down with a cold, so after a fuggy day at work yesterday I’m resting at home today and watching TV. I’ve taken in a couple of episodes of Countdown, which I played along with and didn’t do too badly despite being unwell. I’ve watched Hairspray on DVD, and earlier in the week Good [...]
1:42 pm

Things are easy when you're big in Japan

Gravatar Just a little tangential information for Mr George "Heres my comeback on the road again" Osborne who's biggin it up in Japan at the moment. If the UK were at the same population density as Japan, we'd have space for some 22 million additional inhabitants to come and work our economy! Oh, and I reckon we'll have the wrong kind of leaves for Mag-lev.
12:40 pm

Tory recycling LD policies

Gravatar Its good to see gorgeous George Osborne launching some Tory policy into the policy void that they have. (I think a void is synonymous with being "completely open minded"...)But talking about environmental taxation is hardly breaking fresh ground. It sounds a little familiar and not unlike the Lib Dems tax paper launch nearly 3 weeks ago.Osborne's love affair with new forms of transport (the Shanghai maglev), reminds me of a Simpson's episode (Marge vs the Monorail).I can imagine George leading a rendition of "MagLev" during the tory conference.On a serious note, there is an awful record in this country for ...
12:30 pm

Voting twice - How do to stop it?

Gravatar Like millions of others yesterday, I received my update of Votes Registration Form hand delivered by Islington Council's deliverers (Electoral Registration Form - Annual Canvass 2006) . Never really bothered to read the fine print before - it's a repeat of previous forms. This time around because I remembered having confirmed details via voicemail when Islington Council went all electronic I wanted to see how accurate the procedure was. Checked my name is spelt correctly and there's a cross in the postal vote box - everything is spot on. Noticed a reference to second homes on the front ...
12:00 pm

25 lines

Gravatar This meme has appeared all over teh internets in the last few months, including on Mike’s blog, Gordon’s blog, Lisa’s blog and Rob’s blog (and Rob’s just put a new round of 25 up). Here’s how it works: I’ve set my iTunes to shuffle and written down the opening lines of the first 25 tracks to [...]
12:00 pm

Naked Rambler strikes again

Gravatar Steven Gough, aka The Naked Rambler, has been given a seven month sentence for wandering about Edinburgh in the buff. How much does it cost to lock him up for this long? Another pointless waste of taxpayers' money. If the cost to the public, both financially and socially, of applying the letter of the law is greater than the cost of ignoring it, then it would seem fairly sensible to change the
11:57 am

Sandra lets the side down...

Gravatar Along with a further 21 Lib Dem MPs. Gavin Whenman has been covering this earlier and far better than I , including a letter to Sandra Gidley. The EDM is badly written. Necrophilia should be illegal for the same reason as paedophilia; one party is unable to give consent [unless you wrote explicitly in your will that you wanted necrophilic acts to be carried out on your dead body]. It is debatable
11:44 am

Zachariah has a George Bush Snr moment

Gravatar The Times, 18 February 2006: Taxes aren’t how Tories will save the world’ A CONSERVATIVE government would not introduce a “green” tax, according to the deputy chairman of the party’s commission on the environment. Zac Goldsmith, the son of the late Sir James Goldsmith and Editor of Ecologist magazine, who was appointed by David Cameron after he became [...]
11:44 am

Bloggers for hire

Gravatar Interesting, if rather breathless, article in the New Statesman about the way corporate interests are attempting to minimise the potentially negative effect comments from bloggers can have on sales. To me, corporate sponsorship defeats the whole point of blogging, as does pointless parroting of party-political propaganda. I particularly liked this image: With all these opinions reaching their
11:22 am


Gravatar Regular readers will expect politics here (of course), Doctor Who (no doubt), and wonder where today’s review of The Avengers has got to (ask BBC4, who aren’t showing it this week). What you might not expect is a restaurant review, but if you live near or happen to visit Stockport, there’s one I’d recommend. Richard and I nipped up north for a few days last week to visit our respective parents. While there we tried out my parents’ new favourite place to eat, the EleganZe Turkish restaurant and Meze Bar on Petersgate in the middle of Stockport. And it’s superb. ...
11:14 am

Symbols and reality

Gravatar Some more logical gymnastics from Evan Harris: Evan Harris, the party’s science spokesman, admitted that the proposed package would be more progressive but said he was worried that ditching the 50p rate was a “symbolic” move that would send the wrong signal to voters. In other words, we shouldn’t bother striving to do what we believe to [...]
11:14 am

Sandra Gidley and Violent Pornography

Gravatar Following on from last night's post on Liz Longhurst's successful campaign to ban violent pornography, I've written to Sandra Gidley, a LibDem MP who supported the campaign: Dear Ms Gidley, I read with interest your support for Liz Longhurst's campaign for a ban on violent pornography and the quote which appeared on the BBC News website: "It's absolutely the right decision. The scandal is it's
10:26 am

Tour of Britain in Wolverhampton

Gravatar Tomorrow will see the fourth leg of the Tour of Britain - the UK's biggest cycling race. The fourth leg starts in Wolverhampton and will end in Birmingham. The race starts at 10.15 at Market Square.
9:59 am

It’s a field day for people who love Liberal Democrat cuddly animals that blog

Gravatar Pink Dog has been on holiday, and millennium dome has taken a break from being in the news to build lego. I have an old bear who sleeps in my bed when I’m not in it. But he’s a grumpy old bear and I suspect he reads the Telegraph when I’m not at home. So I [...]
9:57 am

Squeaky George: C+, Osborne, you're verging on plagiarism!

Gravatar Goodness me ... Squeaky George has come over all green. Well, maybe. Apparently he is now "completely open minded" on what sort of taxes he might introduce. Open minded, or empty headed? OK - maybe that's unfair. He does go on to say: "I am clear the proportion of tax revenues drawn from environmental taxes needs to increase." Well, yes Gideon - but what specifically do you intend to do about it? Hmmm? The Cameron Conundrum is all about how Dave and his chums can square their waffle and fluffy platitudes with any policy beef, in ...
9:49 am

The London Free Paper War Begins

Gravatar Yesterday saw the start of London’s free paper war with the launch of Associated’s London Lite. Our look at the first edition can be found in our features section and next week we’ll look at News International’s thelondonpaper which is already facing complaints from the NUJ.
9:47 am

Banning violent pornography - should it be done?

Gravatar A difficult issue to address. The understandable campaign by Liz Longhurst, following the death of her daughter, to make the possession of violent porn a crime appears to have been successful according to this piece from the BBC. The questions which arise from this issue seem to me to be twofold. Firstly from a liberal perspective should we be banning people from viewing this sort of material in the first place and secondly will this ban stop the sort of terrible events which happened to Liz Longhursts daughter from happening to someone else? On the first score my instinct is ...
9:32 am


Gravatar A curious evening yesterday. Arrived home from work to discover police lines surrounding my road and scores of rozzers, PCSOs, fire people, Thames Water minions and a BBC film crew outside my flat. After waiting for five minutes to watch a Japanese businessman quarrel with a Policeman (he wanted to cross the Police line, the officer wasn’t so keen), I trudged through the streams of mud filling the road to get to my flat. A Policewoman informed me that a watermain had burst. “That makes sense” I opined, nodding solemnly. All was well as I lay in the bath chuckling ...
9:15 am

On the proposed ban on violent pornography

Gravatar Jonathan Calder and The Whiskey Priest both highlight the government's proposed ban on violent pornography, which has been enthusiastically welcomed by the Liberal Democrat spokeswoman Sandra Gidley MP according to this BBC report. Where to start? Given the horrible circumstances of her daughter's death it is quite understandable that Liz Longhurst would campaign for such a ban and that many politicians would want to support her. Even the most entrenched opponent of censorship must feel at least a twinge of sympathy and recognise that they would be batting on a sticky wicket in opposing this. For the Liberal Democrats to ...
9:08 am

Foot in the door

Gravatar This morning's news on Radio Wales reports that Prince William is to become a royal vice-patron of the Welsh Rugby Union - cue lots of gushing tributes and assertions that this will be good for Welsh rugby, attract more young people etc etc. Personally, I have nothing against Prince William. He seems a very likeable lad and no doubt will do well if he decides to stand for election to become head of state in the new Republic of the United Kingdom. There are some issues around this appointment that need to be considered however. The first is whether he ...
7:45 am

Day 2064: Star Wars Lego

Gravatar Monday My Daddy Richard has a PROBLEM. It is something that he finds it difficult to talk about. He has a secret CRAVING that he is unable to give up. Like many people with this problem he manages to conceal it and can even appear to lead an ordinary life, but every so often he will "fall off the wagon" and INDULGE himself all over again. There are secret dens of VICE called "shops" where he can go to get his "fix" or he can even place orders over the Internet. Yes, it is true: he is a LEGOHOLIC ...
7:40 am

Two more bikes

Gravatar One of these was an F1 Schumacher special
7:21 am

20 Years Ago today....

Gravatar Back in 1925 the passenger liner Berlin III was launched - she served the Bremen - Southampton - Cherbourg - New York route in the days when you had to cross the Atlantic by sea. After being chartered by the Nazis as a workers cruising ship and then service in World War 2 as a hospital vessel, she was sunk by a mine in 1943. The Soviet Union refloated her in 1949 , renovated her and renamed her
7:18 am

Off to Indiana

Gravatar I'm off for a a week or so to pick up the other half from Indiana and bring her back (as well as meeting the pastor who's marrying us). I have no idea how long my list of unread blog posts will get- its already at 300 most mornings. I doubt I'll get a chance to read them - its the world of dial up + I doubt I'll be allowed to ignore Carrie for something so trivial as blogging ;) Tags:personal
1:07 am

Tax: Who said this?

Gravatar "We should move some of the burden of taxation away from income and capital, and towards taxes on environmentally damaging behaviour. Instead of a tax system that penalises hard work and enterprise, we need to move towards more effective and fair taxes on pollution." The pre-amble to the Lib Dem Tax Commission paper? Chris Huhne introducing the "Green Switch"? The LIb Dem mini-manifesto 1998?No? Apparently, according to Zac Goldsmith in Thursday's Guardian, it will be George Osborne in a speech in Japan tomorrow. Apparently he will also talk about Land Value Tax: George Osborne, the shadow ...

Previous days:

Wednesday 30th August 2006, Tuesday 29th August 2006, Monday 28th August 2006, Sunday 27th August 2006, Saturday 26th August 2006, Friday 25th August 2006