Tuesday 14th November 2006

10:51 pm

How hard are our MPs working for us?

Gravatar Lib Dems, especially those actively involved in community politics, tend to be quite suspicious of league tables. To an extent understandably: local councils, schools and health authorities (for example) have all had to collect and publish data according to nationally-set criteria. And sometimes it’s a pointless waste of time. But, as long as the limitations of the data on which such league
10:34 pm

Selly Oak Ward Committee - 22 November 2006

Gravatar The agenda for the meeting of the Selly Oak Ward Committee on Wednesday 22 November 2006 has now been published and can be found here. Items on the agenda include: an update on the Sainsburys development in Selly Oak;an update on the competing Tesco and Coop developments in Stirchley; anda presentation on the recruitment of School Governors.The meeting will be held at 7pm in the Selly Oak Centre
10:22 pm

Beverley Hughes: Worse than the cure

Gravatar On Sunday the Observer reported: Many parents have lost confidence in how to bring up their children properly and feel inadequate, isolated and unsupported in coping with the pressures of modern family life, the government has warned. Mothers and fathers often feel 'disempowered' as parents, and find it particularly difficult to enforce rules so their child does not misbehave, according to Beverley Hughes, the Minister for Children and Families. In an interview with The Observer, Hughes voiced alarm that parents have much less faith than previous generations in their abilities to raise and guide their children, and wanted ...
10:17 pm

You don't have to be mad to write for The Times...

Gravatar ...but it certainly helps. Matthew Turner points us to an article by Tim Hames from last month: if the Americans opted to liberate Pluto tomorrow I would think to myself (i) that is a little odd, (ii) is it worth the effort when the place is not formally a planet anymore? and (iii) how can we ensure that there are seats in their spaceships for the Parachute Regiment?
9:24 pm

Granny-bashing Labour councillor "fought with Edwina Currie"

Gravatar As Anders Hanson demonstrates, Liberal Democrat blogs have all the best stories.
8:53 pm

History of the “Granny Beating Labour councillor”

Gravatar It isn’t often that I can add more to a story on Guido Fawkes’ blog. But after spotting one story I had to. It has been reported that Doug Haw, a former East Staffordshire Labour councillor and agent to South Derbyshire MP Mark Todd, has been sent to jail for assaulting his eldery neighbour. [...]
7:35 pm

Labour Ministers use Human Rights Act as scapegoat...

Gravatar Yes, the Human Rights Act is not perfect. Yes, it might need amending in places and it might need to be clarified, but if anyone should understand it should be senior government ministers. Shouldn't it ? So why is it, according to the Independent today, that the Human Rights Act has been used on three separate occasions as a scapegoat for court cases going wrong when, in fact, the Human Rights Act (HRA) has not applied in those particular cases. This included the Afghan hijackers who claimed asylum in the UK, which prompted the tabloid headline featured ...
7:09 pm

Annoying things about Christmas - Number One

Gravatar In the first of an irregular series of postings about Christmas (by the way, I do love Christmas), I thought I'd highlight the things that annoy me about this time of the year. On TV you suddenly start to see stupid, smug, self satisfied, arrogant and pompous adverts for perfume, usually featuring some stupid French phrase which I don't understand (and I teach French), usually featuring someone dressed as a swan or as a sailor sitting in a giant leaf made of ice. The adverts resemble something that should be shown to which ever one of the Saatchi brothers ...
6:47 pm

Bumping into people in dark alleyways

Gravatar City Inn on Millbank is becoming something of a Lib Dem watering hole and feeding location. I went there last night after leaving the office for dinner with Christian Moon, my former boss from my Policy Unit days (who continues to occupy the desk next to mine and will do so until Policy are moved to Abbey Gardens) and Victoria Greaves, another former Policy colleague who made a successful escape
6:34 pm

GMC Continues Cover-up

Gravatar There are 5 families in front of the GMC. I know who all 5 families are, but am not going to identify family M because Mrs M is in Australia and I have not been able to contact her. The other families are A - Janet and Lawrence Alexander - see Lawrence's Web page see Lawrence's Web page B - Sharon and Hannah Bozier D - Janet Davies H - Davina and Ben McLean
6:17 pm

Its official : Greens claim credit for everything

Gravatar The good news that Norwich has been voted the "greenest place in Britain" has been rather soured in my mind by the fact that BBC Radio Norfolk allowed to Green Party time this morning to officially take the credit for it. Read about Norwich's success HERE. Clearly the BBC interviewer knew less about the poll than he was letting on and allowed the Green Party spokesman to take full credit for the success. He even allowed the Green to claim it was because of the Green Party's success in elections that Norwich had won. The BBC Radio Norfolk ...
5:43 pm

David Prior, former Tory MP for North Norfolk arre...

Gravatar The EDP reports that David Prior, the former Tory MP for North Norfolk who was defeated by Lib Dem Norman Lamb in 2001, has been arrested. I don't want to comment on the case. All I can say is that I have campaigned against David Prior when he was MP and he was an extremely effective and diligent MP. Since his defeat in 2001 I have also met him in relation to his NHS trust job, and I found him helpful and very much the gentleman in our dealings. Before Tories complain about me posting this, one ...
5:38 pm

...much to be modest about

Gravatar Sorry to be a cracked record, but I see that Mayor Ken Livingstone is claiming that his trip to Cuba and Venezuela was a very modest one. It cost £36,000! (€54,000 or just under $70,000 for our international readers) for a trip that did not even bring about its stated aim of the dubious deal with mad cap dictator Hugo Chavez. Next time Mr. Livingstone wishes to take a break in the axis of evil and its allies, I wonder if he might not try North Korea- on a one way ticket, please.
5:26 pm

I have a confession...

Gravatar I must confess... I am one of those most hated... I am... a capitalist. There, I've said it. Even worse, I'm a free market capitalist. I believe that the free market can cater for our needs far better than the state ever can. I believe that freedom cannot come from the hand of the state. I believe that wealth will not be handed down from government. I believe that the free market is the best
5:19 pm

Think London taxpayers subsidize the rest? Think again, Ricardo says not..

Gravatar The chap who drew me to joining the Institute of Economic Affairs (yes, me!) Fred Harrison, publicising his new book "Ricardo's Law: House Prices and the Great Tax Clawback Scam", has a piece in the Yorkshire Post today detailing how it ain't so: LONDON Mayor Ken Livingstone claims that the capital subsidises the rest of the country. Taxpayers in London and the South-East, we are told, pay such heavy taxes that the Treasury transfers about £13bn to regions like Yorkshire. This is one of the appalling myths that cripples public policy and prevents people in the regions from ...
4:27 pm

John's big carbon footprint

Gravatar An e-mail arrives urging me to look at a new blog called John Marek's Big Carbon Footprint. The e-mail tells me that the blog will chart the extraordinary travels (and other political shenanigans) of a certain - JOHN MAREK - Welsh Assembly Member for Wrexham, North Wales. It goes on: "The blog aims to guide you through the political wilderness, where John Marek AM currently reigns supreme... There will be features on.... * his amazing journeys around the globe * his sudden interest in his constituents... and, * his ever-decreasing lack of political 'touch' ...
4:23 pm

Blair and the Middle East

Gravatar I know that everyone thinks that Blair absolutely loves Bush, but I would guess that he breathed a huge sigh of relief after the midterm elections. For six years, he has felt himself caught on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, he has seen the value in standing by America and the possibility of an Atlantic partnership being a force for good across the world. On the other hand, he has baulked
3:42 pm

Double bluff

Gravatar The Western Mail carries an interesting interpretation of Peter Hain's remarks that the UK Government will not allow the Assembly to legislate to introduce proportional representation for local government in Wales. Essentially, they believe that the Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland is playing an elaborate game of double bluff: We should remember, however, the context in which Mr Hain's apparent threat is made. Welsh Labour is embarking on a difficult election campaign in which it could easily lose power. Most observers would assess its chance of winning an overall majority at less than 50/50. Whatever Mr ...
3:20 pm

Blair Summoned to Washington

Gravatar The idea that Tony Blair will be cross examined by the US Iraq Study group, but not an equivalent Inquiry in the UK is not good for the UK.
2:53 pm

Apologies to Probus

Gravatar Apologies to Probus for having to pull out of their lunch today, when I was planning to speak about my charity. I had to return for further dental treatment which left me unable to either eat or speak properly - two necessities for the occasion.
2:44 pm


Gravatar I owe my friend Max thanks for ordering me to acquaint myself with this charming 1990 vid by Heavenly. It turns out that the lead singer Amelia Fletcher is a pretty multi-talented person. She holds a D.Phil from Oxford and is currently the Chief Economist at the Office of Fair Trading.
2:41 pm

AGM season is upon us

Gravatar It’s that time of year again when we’re all downing wine and cheese and MPs are trying to wriggle out of their agreements to give speeches to local party and branch Annual General Meetings. AGMs are serious business, but can be comical - if your AGM produces a story that will make your fellow Lib Dems [...]
2:33 pm

Visitors from Korea

Gravatar Mr Hyo-Kyeum Kim is the Mayor of Gwanak District in Seoul, Korea. He is leading a party of distinguished visitors from his town to Kingston upon Thames for a few days this week. The highlight of the visit will be the signing of a declaration of intent, followed by detailed discussions about areas for co-operation. Gwanak-gu is an ideal partner, with many similarities to the...
2:25 pm

Smoke free pubs in Essex

Gravatar I don't know about you, but one of the main reasons I don't go to pubs more often is I do not like coming home and having to put every item of clothing in the washing immediately. So I was delighted to find a database of smoke-free pubs. This is the link to places in Essex Fresh Air Online Essex or you could just start at the home page As far as the Chelmsford area is concerned, I have also seen
2:16 pm


Gravatar The visit today of Home Secretary John Reid to Hengrove Community Centre tomorrow to trumpet the government's supposed success in tackling anti-social behaviour has been overshadowed by the shocking r...
2:13 pm

3,000 New Ways To Get Nicked

Gravatar The Queens Speech takes place tomorrow, where the Government's legislative programme for the forthcoming term will be laid out.   My Lib Dem colleagues and I beleive it time for a 'Freedom B...
1:52 pm

100% attendance?

Gravatar So far I have not missed a single mayoral engagement. But it was deeply ironic that the first one I could not attend was ..... the Mayor's Award for Attendance. I had been suffering from severe toothache all weekend, in spite of taking antibiotics, so was relieved when I managed to get an emergency appointment at 4pm. But I was still in the dentist's chair at 6pm with no hope of...
1:43 pm

How to stop the march of the theo-cons

Gravatar In recent months articles denigrating religion and calling for secularism have multiplied, from Polly Toynbee to David Starkey (or was he just publicising his book?). Britain is quite an interesting case: it is not secular, which means prayers are recited every day in schools across the country, representatives of the church sit in the House of Lords, and blasphemy laws are still in place,
1:30 pm

George Monbiot is on form

Gravatar in today's Guardian. It seems the Sunday Telegraph have published a lengthy rebuttal if climate change science which same its readers regard as The Last Word on the matter, and have emailed GM at length and with some abusive vigour. (A creationist sends similar to PZ Myers at pharygula and gets a thoroughly vivisectioned in reply. Monbiot doesn't have the space to do the necessary hatchet job
1:22 pm

GMC Hearing

Gravatar Being in London for the meeting tonight having come down early because of meeting Ofgem I attended the GMC FPC hearing earlier today. There are a number of odd things about this particular GMC process. The first is that they seem to concentrate on relatively minor issues rather than the major issue of doing harm to patients (particularly babies) through dangerous research. Secondly, they are
1:00 pm

£25 Congestion Charge and Making Tough Decisions

Gravatar Ken Livingstone is often accused of populism by his opponents and detractors yet from discussions on our forum in recent weeks today’s news of a £25 congestion charge for heavily polluting vehicles won’t be popular with many Londoners. In a recent letter to the Evening Standard I said the following on the subject of Livingstone’s claimed [...]
12:43 pm

18 Doughty St

Gravatar There is a new TV channel in town... http://www.18doughtystreet.com/blog/ This an online politics TV channel that broadcasts most nights 8pm till midnight. Tonight a friend of mine, Tony, was on the s...
12:09 pm

Edwards rest in peace

Gravatar Although never a regular at Edwards No8, it was the first club I went into when I arrived in Birmingham, so its with a sense of sadness that it burnt down on Saturday night. It wasn't quite my cup of tea, the music being a bit too heavy metal. As it happened we were at what has become my main indie club of choice, Snobs. The fact that no one was seriously injured in the fire should be a testament to the skills and training of the door staff. Trying to move 500 pissed people out of a building at ...
12:05 pm

Most obvious headline award…

Gravatar This weeks most obvious headline award goes to the BBC News website for their story about broadband satisfaction. The headline reads “Free broadband users ‘less happy’. Now I might be a bit of a realist here but surely that a teeny weeny bit obvious? The gist of the story is a report from uSwitch that says customer [...]
10:35 am

Drug addict compensation

Gravatar I am seething at some of the comments I've seen on the case of the drug addicts who, having been denied treatment for their illness, got compensation from the government. I expect commentary against the payouts from Tories and conservatives, but from liberals? It is inhumane to stop treatment for drug addiction. When in prison, the state takes on a duty of care for inmates. The state is
10:23 am

Remember Road Crash Victims

Gravatar WORLD DAY OF REMEMBRANCE FOR ROAD TRAFFIC VICTIMSSunday November 19th 2007 is designated World Day of Remembrance for RoadTraffic Victims. Services of remembrance and hope will be taking place across the world. Please take this opportunity to pray for crash victims and their friends and families. We ask too, for prayers too for members of the emergencyservices, medical workers and those working in road safety education andawareness initiatives. World-wide 1.26million people are killed in road crashes every year (that is 3450 every day!). Terrorist attacks and plane crashes may get the publicity-why are road deaths not treated with the ...
9:57 am

Fundamentals missing on Kelly homeless plans

Gravatar It's certainly good to see that the growing problem of youth homelessness is receiving national attention today but it seems that there are some basics missing from what Ruth Kelly has said. Kelly seems to have ignored the fact that the construction of social housing has fallen dramatically over the last decade. The Labour government insists on continuing a policy which prevents...
9:38 am

In search of a hero

Gravatar If you are going to cast yourself as a martyr and go to prison for your beliefs it helps if you have the support of your family. Unfortunately, that is one thing that Richard Fitzmaurice neglected to secure as he refused to pay his Council Tax to the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk on the grounds that it is a war hero and a pensioner. He also objects to the Council paying the legal expenses of their leader in a failed complaint against him under the Local Government code of conduct. Mr. Fitzmaurice's wife though is not ...
9:21 am

Purging the morning grumps

Gravatar What a depressing array of news stories on the BBC site this morning. Jolie causes stir on Mumbai train An actress caught a train. Whoop-de-doo. Bodyguards made sure no one got too close - quite a feat on Mumbai’s crowded transport system. They would have had the same problem on the train I caught this morning. Not [...]
9:18 am

Dump your rubbish in the supermarket

Gravatar Ben Bradshaw advises food shoppers to leave excessive wrapping at the tills and to report the stores to trading standards (see here) Highly appropriate advice from the environment minister as the vast majority of stuff which ends up in my wheelie bin probably originates from the supermarket (or more correctly its suppliers) in the first place. I was amazed to see that packaging had increased by 12% between 1999 and 2005, and now accounts for one-third of an average household's total waste. I suspect it makes up more than one third of my waste but the fact that ...
9:18 am

Axis of Mediaeval

Gravatar How much more crow is George W Bush supposed to eat? In 2003 the administration set out an agenda postulating that there were a series of "bad guys"- Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya and Cuba- that the global community would have to isolate and overthrow, the so-called "axis of evil". In 2006, after the catastrophic failure to cope with the consequences of overthrowing Saddam Hussein, the Administration is now proposing to put the fate of Iraq, and by remove, US foreign policy into the hands of the Iranian and Syrian regimes. Syria is led by the hereditary ...
9:10 am

Good news on deforestation

Gravatar This picture from the Forest Identity study by the University of Helsinki shows the future of the worlds forests may not be as bad as previously feared. The study measures timber volumes, biomass and captured carbon - not just land areas covered by trees and the team of researchers say its Forest Identity study suggests the world could be approaching a "turning point" from deforestation. The report suggests that once GDP per capita reaches £2,400, many nations experience forest transition and see an increase in forestry growing stock (volume of useable timber).
8:44 am

Another anachronism that should die an early death

Gravatar So Prince Charles has got a birthday present. Simultaneously being promoted to admiral, general and air chief marshal seems mindboggling to most of us given that he is no longer a member of the armed forces. Indeed according to this article from the BBC his military career ended 30 years ago. In a modern democracy this is no way to behave. Titles such as General, Admiral etc should be reserved for those who have genuinely earned those titles and who command the forces in question. If we want to retain a monarchy then fair enough retain a ...
8:39 am

Magdalen Green, Monthly West End Community Council...

Gravatar Really excellent further meeting with residents yesterday on Magdalen Green issues and an excellent overview by the City Council's landscape architect. We are now looking to progress to a "Friends of Magdalen Green" steering group at our next meeting in January. But yesterday's was really positive with plenty of good ideas to progress.On my way to my surgery last night, had a check of the new road surface in Tait's Lane and to check that the "nib" in the road towards the south end that used to jut out causing problems for drivers had been fixed as I was promised ...
7:52 am

Day 2131: Build a Better Bond

Gravatar Friday: I am getting VERY EXCITED – there is a NEW JAMES BOND FILM COMING! We have seen lots of posters, and adverts and even a whole BUS painted silver – even better than the bus with Captain Jack on the side! Better still, the critics love Mr Daniel, who I have decided is my new FAVOURITE James Bond, and the film is supposed to be quite good as well too. Book the tickets Daddy! I CANNOT CANNOT CANNOT wait!
7:33 am

Day 2130: DOCTOR WHO: Sarah Jane Smith

Gravatar Thursday: These are a series of adventure stories on shiny disc from the awfully nice BIG FISH people about Dr Who's one time Best Friend Sarah. I know that we are RATHER LATE in reviewing these adventures, what with them having first come out – with REALLY LUCKY timing (Daddy says SERENDIPITOUS and I frown at him) – between January and April this year, but we got them for Daddy's birthday and listened to them all in a row to try and cheer ourselves up while in the car. On the other fluffy foot, being six months late is ...
7:21 am

Day 2129: The Week that Wasn't

Gravatar Wednesday: I am SORRY for not keeping up to date with my diary. Everything got a bit MUDDLED for a week and so it is all out of order and out of date. AGAIN. But there are still some things that I wrote down while Daddy Richard and Daddy Alex were driving up and down the road to Manchester and back. So now I have LOADS of diaries inside Daddy's computer, just waiting for my big fluffy nose to hit the "PUBLISH POST" button. Here we go… Day 2129: Questions in the House Wednesday: ...
12:45 am

How retro!

Gravatar Been watching This Life (down boy) and astounded to see how seriously the BBC are taking the 10 year flashback - it is being followed by 20 minutes of Pages from Ceefax, complete with Muzak. This comes complete with the odd index page, that you can't do anything with... And we used to think this was acceptable broadcasting. Get a grip BBC!
12:34 am

The final Countdown

Gravatar I guess it's possible I mis-heard... But is it true that Desert Orchid has just been named the new host of Channel 4's Countdown? (Could have been more implausible, I s'pose.)
12:08 am

What a lot to comment on

Gravatar While blogging over recent weeks I have tried to avoid commenting on the obvious - such as the Lib Dem Freedom Bill. I hope my position on this is obvious. Tonight I did my regular stint behind the bar of Orpington Liberal Club. I do this on about 50% of Mondays. I cut my political teeth in Orpington, as agent for Jonathan Fryer in 1987, and Chris Maines in 1992 and 1997 taking a major role in

Previous days:

Monday 13th November 2006, Sunday 12th November 2006, Saturday 11th November 2006, Friday 10th November 2006, Thursday 9th November 2006, Wednesday 8th November 2006