Friday 1st September 2006

11:06 pm

What is it we want from our politicians?

Gravatar ‘We get the politicians we deserve,’ has become something of a cliché, used to wrap-up meandering discussions about the ‘democratic deficit’, or to deflate the puffed-up ignorance of radio phone-in callers bemoaning that ‘all politicians are the same, only in it for themselves’. But clichés only become clichés because enough people believe them to be statements of truth - so is it fair? The key

10:53 pm

Eugenics and intervention in the family

Gravatar Among the many articles I haven't got round to writing yet is one looking at parallels between the eugenics movement at the start of the 20th century and the calls for more intervention in the family today. The arguments used to promote both concepts are remarkably similar. In each case we are or were told that leaving the poor to go their own way imposes financial burdens on the rest of us and
10:38 pm

Play up and play the game

Gravatar From the Daily Telegraph: A village cricketer kept on batting through a heart attack because he stood to make his first half-century of the season.Unfortunately, Jim Young was still on 48 when he ran out of partners. An ambulance then took him to hospital in Harlow, Essex, and, later, to a specialist unit at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London where he had surgery.Thanks to Tim Worstall.
10:25 pm

Craig Murray on tour

Gravatar News from the former ambassador to Uzbekistan and former Liberator contributor. During September, Craig Murray will be speaking at a number of events leading up to the Manchester 'Time to Go' demonstration on the 23rd. His schedule looks like this: Tuesday 5, WalsallWednesday 6, Manchester (Didsbury)Thursday 7, WalsallFriday 8, BoltonTuesday 12, PortsmouthWednesday 13, LiverpoolThursday 14,
10:16 pm

Miliband trips over his wiki

Gravatar David Miliband is very keen on new technology. He has a blog, which is best read at 2am after a couple of bottles of wine. He has also launched a new initiative, an environmental contract based on a wiki, which anybody can edit - the ultimate consultation. This is quite radical stuff for government. The danger is of course that it might be abused and lose structure. Rather inevitably that is exactly what has happened. The site has now been locked down and cannot be edited. This is the current officially sanctioned version and this is the state that it ...
10:12 pm

Final shot from Bisley

Gravatar I couldn't resist this shot of one womans tank from the Harley Davidson rally at Bisley. Apparently these were her grandchildren. What great artwork - a lot of time and effort has gone into this machine. This won a prize at Bisley for the best bike from a member of Ladies of Harley
10:06 pm

In need of ear plugs

Gravatar Did you know that television companies turn up the volumne when adverts come on. I didn't when I got told but it happened today. I was watching a programme and all of a sudden the adverts started and it was very, very, very loud.
9:24 pm

September fattens on vines

Gravatar The Common Ground page for September is now in place. "Seasonal fruit and vegetables, seasonal dishes, observations of customs and the natural world."
9:14 pm

Undermining Political Censorship

Gravatar Regular readers may have noticed the green and yellow box at the bottom of the sidebar. This is from which is a campaign set up by Amnesty International, with the support of The Observer, in favour of freedom of expression both online and offline. I have signed the pledge calling on governments and companies to ensure that the internet is a force for political freedom, not
8:23 pm

Action update - anti social behaviour

Gravatar I have been contacted by a local resident about anti-social behaviour in the Prestwich Village area, in particular around West Street. This is one of the quieter streets in the area, not normally high profile, and possibly not on the radar for local action. The resident was, like a lot of people I’ve spoken to about this, quite frustrated about the problem of young people on bikes (push bikes and
8:14 pm

The Bin Man

Gravatar Working for the Council can be quite a challenge, but at least it’s varied, and today I sampled a form of work that I hadn’t tried before, namely dressing up as a giant bin! As you can see from the picture, a six-foot bin with limbs was available for viewing today at the Spindles Shopping Centre, Oldham. What the picture can’t tell you, but which I can now reveal, is that inside the costume was
8:09 pm

Bush's War Crimes

Gravatar An article on Channel4News, explores attempts by Tony's pal George to avoid being prosecuted for war crimes: On 29 June this year, the US Supreme Court said the Bush administration’s use of military commissions to try Guantanamo detainees 'violated both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and constituted four breaches under the Geneva Convention. Bush's response has been to create an
7:40 pm

Nipping It In The Bud

Gravatar The Government, according to this BBC News report, plans to identify and tackle 'menace children', before they've become erm... menace children. Presumably through a cross between psychic social workers and police officers "with a bad feeling about that one". This from Tony Blair: "If we are not prepared to predict and intervene far more early then there are children who are growing up - in
7:25 pm

Tay Rail Bridge - more photos!

Gravatar A couple more photos from the Rail Bridge yesterday, with thanks to Network Rail - immediately below - me on the Bridge with Tay Bridges Ward behind! Below that - Network Rail team, Dundee's two MPs and myself on the Rail Bridge.
6:57 pm

Blair's mini hoodies

Gravatar Can't believe tony blair's latest wheeze on crime and anti social behaviour. Just back from holiday his first media foray is to tell us all that there should be a lot more early intervention.. when would-be hooligans are a lot younger. Asked when this should start by a TV journalist he said this should happen even before birth! This all needs unpacking. It's certainly true that providing help early in life can alter children's life chances and so can change the likelihood of them ending up on drugs or involved in crime. Fair enough. ...
6:30 pm

Blair's mug says it all

Gravatar Recently my daughter bought me a key ring which had my Christian name on it. Also on it was a list of remarkable talents which people called "Paul" are meant to possess: Patience, good humour, leadership qualities, tenacity It was a lovely gesture by my daughter. I treasure that keyring. Any idea that those talents are an accurate reflection of me, just because I have the name "Paul", seems
6:07 pm

Blair and the lessons of history

Gravatar The Labour Left and now the Unions are advising that Blair go more or less immediately. Tony Woodley of the T&GW said: They should be advising him not to get himself into a position as Thatcher did, when she did not understand when to go.The snag is that this is a misreading of history. Thatcher was unpopular. By the end she was mightily disliked and most people - Labour and Conservative - were glad to see the back of her when she went. But her very unpopularity enabled her successor to cast himself as an alternative. It boosted his appeal. ...
6:02 pm

Shirley Williams makes the "Good List"

Gravatar The Independent has put together a "Good List" of 100 people it thinks The list bears all the hallmarks of a few journos sitting around in a "silly season" lull throwing a few names together to meet a deadline. Nevertheless it is an interesting and thought-provoking list. At the end of the day, we are not here to be rich, as highlighted in the Sunday Times Rich List, so
5:55 pm


Gravatar A reader of this blog commented: [I]t's quite common to find hatred of Jews that doesn't assume inferiority at all; indeed, often it ascribes superhuman powers of cunning and organization to them (e.g. Dr Mahatir's speech before world Muslim leaders that suggested that Muslims actually needed to become more like Jews, who as a tiny minority had managed to take control of the West. Read the incisive rest here. Coincidentally I came across this joke in Novak and Waldock's Big Book of Jewish Humour: Altmann and his secretary were sitting in a coffeehouse in Berlin in 1935. "Herr ...
5:10 pm

The return of eugenics

Gravatar Mr Blair has finally lost the plot, in a last desperate effort to find a populist drum to beat before he is finally run out of town he has hit on the ultimate scapegoats - unborn children. In his latest madcap rant on anti-social behaviour we are told that you can spot 'menace' kids before they are even born. By identifying problem families you can work out who are 'unsuitable' parents and provide them with 'help & assistance' in bringing up their children. Who wouldn't be against help for people struggling to raise their children, put like that ...
4:49 pm

The Crime Is Birth, The Sentence Is…

Gravatar Tony Blair yesterday announced that he will clamp down on ‘problem children’ “pre-birth even.” With Mr Blair’s government having made over three thousand activities newly illegal since 1997, it was only a matter of time before officers were told to cut out the messy business of waiting for criminal activity to be committed and wait with a pair of dinky little cuffs after the midwife gives the newborn a slap. They won’t have to wait for teenagers to protest, “I didn’t ask to be born!” “Ignorance of the law is no excuse, sonny.” Has Mr Blair finally gone quite mad? ...
3:43 pm

Would you like to assess how considerate roadworks contractors are?

Gravatar Birmingham City Council is looking for volunteers to act as its eyes and ears in checking how well contractors work on the city’s roads and pavements. The lay assessors team supports the Considerate Contractor Streetworks initiative, which sets the standards the Council expects from contractors and utility companies. Lay assessors visit sites, mainly in their own area, and score contractors in
3:00 pm

Nearly Over :(

Gravatar So I am sitting back at my desk, contemplating the end of the summer and trying to get motivated to finish the last piece of work ready for the start of the term. Many new ideas have been thrown about, the stock sorted and preparation nearly completed. Working at a snail's pace because soon it will be the start of another frantic year.
2:32 pm

David Cameron's Notebook Part II

Gravatar David Cameron consults his notebook once more: At a news conference in Devon with Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper, Mr Cameron said climate change was the biggest challenge facing the world and politicians had to work together. Binding targets on cutting carbon emissions every year from now until 2050 would take that issue out of politics he argued, "Then you can really ask politicians
2:11 pm

Latest Sinderins junction update

Gravatar Further to previous blog, concerns over past 24 hours about the traffic management here - in particular operation of "stop/go" boards in relation to the traffic lights during the gas replacement works & associated disruption. Just had this feedback from the City Council : "There was a problem which was sorted by mid morning. The traffic control system is not too bad but complicated for me to explain by email. Basically our UTC (CCTV staff) are helping SGN/Turriff (the gas people & their contractors) to get the timing of the lights right at Sinderins to work with the stop/go and ...
2:09 pm

I'm a celebrity???

Gravatar Friday 1st September 2006 - Today is International Primate Day! I'm pleased to note that I'm in good company in supporting Animal Defenders International's campaign against experiments on Primates. Twiggy, Alexei Sayle, Jenny Seagrove, Carol Royle and Uri Geller all back the drive to ban primate experiments in the EU and US. I'm sure they'll be keen to discuss this at the next showbiz party that
1:25 pm

More trouble for PPP hospital

Gravatar There is further criticism of the PPP-built Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in The Herald today, as despite being very expensive and very new (if not very shiny), it has the worst casualty waiting times in Scotland. The editorial rightly goes questions the whole ethos of PFI/PPP projects:The first duty of any public body signed up to a PPP is to honour the terms of the contract and make payments due on
12:55 pm

Sinderins disruption, Network Rail, Riverside Roundabout

Gravatar Firstly, pleased to see bush trimming work on roundabout near Marmalade Pot was carried out as promised last Sunday. Really interesting visit to the Tay Rail Bridge yesterday. Network Rail had invited me and the two Dundee MPs to see the painting and refurbishment works on the bridge. There's a very significant investment in these works being made by Network Rail over the next few years and the photos show us walking out across the bridge and underneath it (about a quarter of the way across the Tay). A lot of disruption at ...
12:53 pm

Trouble in the Assembly

Gravatar I am not sure what I can add to this story about a supposedly secret plot to oust Dafydd Elis-Thomas as Presiding Officer. It is worth recording however, that we all have to get re-elected first. The supposed 'forcing out of Paul Silk as Clerk to the Assembly' is utter nonsense in my view. As I said to the Western Mail: "The Shadow Commission decided it was right to appoint a combined Chief Executive/Clerk after consultants experienced in change management recommended that would be the right course to follow. It is exactly the model in existence at the Scottish ...
12:44 pm

What is in a name?

Gravatar This is a fascinating web site if you are interested in the origin of names. I have always known Black is a Scottish name but had not appreciated that it mostly originated from the lowland areas near the border and the west coast. In 1881 it was virtually non-existent in England and Wales according to this site. On my paternal grandmother's side, the family are Mcleods who in 1881 were almost entirely confined to the North West of Scotland and the islands around the Isle of Skye. She was a Welsh speaker from Llandudno junction of course!
11:50 am

Wow, I can do videos!

Gravatar Kyra Phillips in the washroom UNEDITED AUDIO George Bush goes down the pan.
11:36 am

Labour Housing Shambles

Gravatar If you ever want to know what Southwark would be like with Labour running it again, just look across the road to Lambeth. Since Labour took over in May, after running a campaign even nastier and more negative than even here, they have been beset by a series of bad reports due to hurried legislation and not understanding the needs and priorities of their residents. Their latest stunt has involved rushing five estates into one of the Government's new ALMO schemes. Unfortunately, Labour being Labour, their consultation exercise with residents was rather more spin than substance and consequently one ...
10:47 am

Environment Contract (Defra Wiki)

Gravatar Hat tip Guido I may post about this project in more detail later, but for now I just want to publicise it. Defra has published its Environment Contract on a wiki, which means that anybody can edit it, and many people already have. If anybody edits the EnvironmentContract page, please while you're at it rescue my edit, which appears in version 62, inserting text below the water title (additions
10:29 am

Ming Campbell on the environment

Gravatar There are times in life when words are not necessary. Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell MP explains his policies for the environment. The party is organising an action week on 21st-29th October as part of its Green Tax Switch campaign. To help encourage and organise local campaigning around the UK during that week. Sign up now
10:29 am

Changes over organ donations

Gravatar Organ donations is something I have a particular interest in so was glad to see the law regarding consent have changed from today. Under the Human Tissue Act people will have a legal right for their wishes to be followed, relatives will no longer be able to have the final say.
10:19 am

Conservatives hold in Uttoxeter

Gravatar The Conservatives held both a District and Town Council by-election in East Staffordshire. The Liberal Democrats contested by the Town Council by-election but not in the District Council, looking at the result of the Town result a similar result would have almost certainly been repeated across the District Seat - I hate to repeat myself but whenever there is a by-election the Liberal Democrats should always stand a candidate as if for no other reason it gives the electorate a choice.
9:59 am

Labour 'not pleased' by tabloid naming and shaming stunt

Gravatar South London's Press's decision to 'name and shame' four black children on their front page last week has left the Southwark Labour leader strangely reticent in his latest blog post. To read his "hang'em and flog'em" campaign leaflets you would have thought his most likely reaction would be send free copies to all his constituents. Instead he seems rather embarrassed. "The SLP's decision to publish the details on Friday gave me no pleasure" As he should be. The problem with naming and shaming, once you get past the eye-catching headline idea, is the detail. It is no surprise ...
9:32 am

recycling changes

Gravatar Councillors are getting a presentation next week on the new arrangements were making for recycling in Liverpool. a few of us have had a sneak preview of this, and have in fact been involved in some of the planning, so I know that what's going to change will make the service a lot better. In a place like Liverpool you can't have a one size fits all system, so the service will be adapted to suit different types of housing - but in essence there'll be new wheelie bins and we are going to start collecting plastic and ...
9:30 am

The laws of man and the laws of God

Gravatar Despite being a believing and intermittently practising Roman Catholic, I find it impossible to have any sympathy with the Glaswegian firefighters who have been disciplined for refusing to distribute leaflets at the Pride Scotia march. As you would expect, I am on the liberal wing of the Catholic Church and disagree with many of its teachings on matters of sexual morality. And yet I am usually willing to offer a limited defence of its emphasis on monogamy and abstinence if only as a necessary corrective the twin panaceas of condoms and sex education that secular progressives seem to view as ...
9:18 am

Homeopathic remedies to be licensed as medicines

Gravatar There was an interesting debate on the Today Programme about the new regulatory system that allows homeopathic remedies to be licensed as medicine. This reminds me that couple of years back the Liberal Democrat peer Dick Taverne published an excellent book, The march of unreason, a robust defence of scientific method against the claims of faux medicine and some of the claims made by the environmental lobby. He made the point that alternative medicine is a big business in its own right and yet manages to get away with sounding like part of the counter-culture unlike the nasty, capitalist pharmaceutical ...
9:13 am

Fractal Philosophy- Quantum Politics

Gravatar The twentieth century saw a revolution in the understanding of science. The classical models of physics gave way to a new set of insights based around the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics. In both physics and in mathematics a fundamental uncertainty has been discovered. The questions of the mathematical state of chaos- the so called fractal geometry- that have been described by Benoit Mandelbrot indicate that the consequences of given events may move in highly unpredictable directions. Conventionally, these insights have been applied to systems, including such complex interactions as the creation of galaxies, or the meteorological system of ...
9:02 am


Gravatar Don't normally enjoy these English people traveling around the world programmes, however last Sunday I watched Equator and was pleasantly pleased. {Equator} There are two more episode left, and the first is currently available to watch online.
9:00 am

Advertising Witchcraft

Gravatar Listeners to the Today Programme, the BBC’s helpful device for waking up the nation by driving us to the point of apoplexy, will have heard an exchange this morning on the merits of homeopathy. I’ll say up front that I believe this branch of ‘medicine’ to be complete bollocks. There is no shred of evidence to back up the idea that you strengthen an effect by diluting it into undetectability; all tests point in exactly the opposite way. Despite this, a government agency is now allowing the makers of ‘homeopathic remedies’ to print that they are helpful with some ailments. ...
8:53 am

Headline of the day

Gravatar Courtesy of today's Metro. Fun run piddle pervert bagged by a big banana Genius. I did always say the Metro was piss-poor.
7:20 am

Day 2066: “Death of a Presidency”

Gravatar Wednesday Apparently, Channel 4 have decided to ASSASSINATE a CGI George W Bush. He’ll be going DUCK SHOOTING with DARTH CHENEY, then. This is a sort of BURNING the President in EFFIGY – childish but satisfying for the people who enjoy that sort of thing, and likely to induce much CROSSNESS in the same sort of people on the other side. It is all a bit unnecessary, though, given how SPECTACULARLY Mr Bush is SELF-DESTRUCTING his own presidency. It has been a year since the terrible hurricane Katrina did so much damage to the city of New Orleans and ...
12:11 am

Clean power? Heath Robinson!

Gravatar I'm having one of those days when one part of my life totally dominates the others, today's oppressor being work and the victims being politics and writing. So, I can't be arsed to write anything remotely serious about the very serious fossil fuel protests we saw today. I do, however, offer a solution to all our energy problems, courtesy of Mr Heath Robinson. {Humour18_1}
12:01 am

Bad Parent Blair Lectures Working Class Parents

Gravatar Yesterday Tony Blair said “some sense of discipline and responsibility” had to be imposed. No, he wasn’t discussing his party and his personal failure to accept his part in bringing suicide terrorists to Britain but defending his bizarre suggestion that the Government should be able to impose sanctions on families who declined to allow Ministers to [...]

Previous days:

Thursday 31st August 2006, Wednesday 30th August 2006, Tuesday 29th August 2006, Monday 28th August 2006, Sunday 27th August 2006, Saturday 26th August 2006