Wednesday 3rd January 2007

11:35 pm

Review of the Year: The Lib Dems

Gravatar 2006 was an extraordinary political rollercoaster of a year for the Lib Dems. Some ups, some downs, occasional moments of traveling upside down, and some plummeting off scary vertical drops only to find oneself still strangely on the track when you reach the bottom. The average Lib Dem activist can be forgiven for feeling more than a little sick and queasy at the end of it. I am not going to
11:34 pm

Exclusive: Labour council pumping public funds in to Labour party coffers

Gravatar Liberal Democrat Voice has been shown a Freedom of Information request which reveals that in the last four years Labour run Knowsley Council has paid over £47,000 from public coffers to the Labour party, to exhibit at its party conference. The council’s Freedom of Information officer states “Knowsley exhibits at the Labour Party conference as part [...]
9:28 pm


Gravatar As a regular reader of the F-Secure blog I was shocked to see what information was being requested on a PayPal phishing site. The website not only asked for the CVV code (number on the back), but also your PIN Number!
9:27 pm

What has Breckland Council got to hide ?

Gravatar Interesting goings on still at Breckland District Council. The Chief executive leaves after being investigated. The results of the investigation have not been published, meanwhile, costs continue to mount up for council tax payers . The Eastern Daily Press has done a series of reports on the problems there, but are now using the Freedom of Information Act to try and get the real information. It could all be very innocent of course. Read all about it HERE.
8:47 pm

Old blog - new blog

Gravatar My old blog has now been moved to but through the magic of mod_rewrite most is still accessable from the old URLs. There may be some teething problems, please let me know. In the mean time, I should now be able to receive comments through email, so hopefully I’ll be able to enter into more conversation [...]
8:26 pm

Harborough Books & Collectors Centre

Gravatar It has to be a good day when you discover another secondhand bookshop has opened in your home town. You can find it at 115 St Mary's Road, Market Harborough - near the railway station - or ring 01858 469409.
8:00 pm

David Heath on vacant dwellings

Gravatar David Heath raised this issue before Christmas - and it has now been picked up by This wesite is aimed at first time buyers, and gives the story the treatment it deserves: The Firstrung team missed this item in the 'Xmas rush' on news, however, it's worth noting now the objections raised by the Lib Dems in relation to the vast swathes of vacant housing in the U.K. Property shortage, what property shortage? Figures obtained by Liberal Democrat Shadow Leader of the House, David Heath MP, reveal the staggering amount of unoccupied homes in England. The Government would ...
7:44 pm

I am not a chess club

Gravatar As predicted earlier, without needing to use any Mystic Meg skills, no one at my surgery tonight. Well, no one bar a disappointed chess player who had got his days mixed up. Still, 15 minutes to go, could be a late rush...
7:38 pm

Give us a break Nicholas Starling

Gravatar There comes a point in one's life that one cannot be silent for a moment longer, cannot hold that tongue and most certainly cannot compress one's feelings any longer. That point in my life has arrived (although many of you have probably thought it has arrived before and probably expect it to continue to happen and others who were wishing to read a witty entry has already been turned off by the
7:35 pm

"Flatulent livestock emitting methane are beyond a joke..."

Gravatar says Chris Huhne. Personally I think they have a few jokes left in them - and I know a thing or two about flatulent cattle. Still it is good to see our environment spokesman knows about the role that feed supplements can play. The overall message coming out of this conference on the environment is rather confused. Perhaps that is because they invited Jonathan Porritt. But well done to Chris Huhne for tackling the one subject sure to be reported on the BBC.
6:57 pm

New Years Resolutions

Gravatar Yep.. I have made new years resolutions again.. but this time I am helping research too. I have signed up with an experiment by an academic who is asking people to register their resolutions and then report back at intervals on how things are going. He is hoping to find out about the factors which cause people to keep, or to break, their resolutions. There are apparently thousands of volunteers so it'll be intersting to see what happens. I wonder though whether its the fact of registering the resolution somewhere that'll help keep it. when ...
6:55 pm

To blogroll or not to blogroll ? That is the question.

Gravatar I have been contacted by a Tory Blogger asking me to list him on my blogroll, which I did, especially after he had listed me on his for some time. I was happy to do it as it is generally accepted that you should reciprocate, unless you have a deep loathing for that person's blog. However, the Tory blogger told me that he has not received such generosity from other Lib Dems. Now I do know of some Tories, especially some "local" to me, and no doubt plenty of Labour ones too, who have no links at all to ...
6:51 pm

Web commerce and delivery companies

Gravatar So, I've just once again put my trust in delivery companies to get an address right and follow fairly simple instructions about what to do because I'll be out when they arrive. But I do want them tomorrow, or I would not have paid the premium to get it delivered quickly rather than wait a week. But if that had been Tesco I would have been able to sign up for a particular time slot when hopefully it would have been convenient for me to be around to take delivery personally, even in the evenings or at ...
6:51 pm

Ming's Today programme interview.

Gravatar This interview has been talked about. Ming does pretty well I think.
6:33 pm

Covent Garden to Leicester Square £4, Manchester to Kuala Lumpur £43

Gravatar On the overland train back from work, on my way to do a ward surgery. I would be absolutely amazed if any residents turn up in the cold tonight - they probably assume that as it's so close to New Year it won't be happening. Well, it is, just in case. Just remembered the rather depressing - and scary - comparison in the title of this post, which came from stories in yesterday's paper. Another massive hike in tube fares - unless you use Oyster, Ken's helpful I.D. card prototype. A basic journey with your I.D. card ...
5:48 pm

Lib Dem Voice: Unmasked… Part II

Gravatar Here it is, as promised, the second installment of my interview with Rob Fenwick, founding editor of Lib Dem Voice. (If you missed Part I click here.) Q: What plans do you have to expand and improve LDV in 2007?RF: Re-designing the site is a priority - a new design is needed to make navigation easier and show off the broad range of contributions and contributors. I'm always on the lookout for
5:40 pm


Gravatar Richard Cohen of the Washington Post (via Daniel Finkelstein’s CommentCentral) celebrates the recent academic achievements of Monica Lewinsky - newly graduated from the LSE with a Masters in social psychology - and rightly takes to task those journalists still gleefully condemning her for her youthful indiscretions: Her thesis was titled "In Search of the Impartial Juror: An Exploration of the
5:30 pm

Which video link looks best ?

Gravatar I don't think I am the only person who thinks that the still frame that the Lib Dems are currently using to entice people to click on the latest Lib Dem film is naff. Why is it so bad ? 1) No party logo 2) Julia Goldsworthy's name is not shown. 3) Amateur background 4) No smile 5) Closed eyes. 6) Silly "puppeteer's" black jumper. So why is it that in about 20 minutes I can create a mock up that looks much better. Come on Cowley Street. If we want people to ...
4:39 pm

Happy New Year!

Gravatar As always at this time of year one hopes that the new year will prove better than the old one. 2006 was a pretty awful year all told. Nationally we saw our country get more and more deeply embroiled in an illegal, unpopular war. Politically my party faced the resignation of its leader, difficulties for our local MP and, in May, the loss of control of the City Council. 2007 can and, hopefully,
4:37 pm

Enough of the Carping - Let’s Just Once Celebrate a London Success Story

Gravatar With Christmas and New Year out of the way it’s time for the annual ritual of complaining about fare increases. The problem is that much of the commentary on the issue is dishonest and partisan - everyone demands better and more reliable transport but every 12 months the usual suspects come forward to denounce the increases [...]
4:21 pm

What next? The Corn Laws?

Gravatar The Tories are resorting to protectionism again. No surprises there - their free trade credentials were always suspect. In his speech to the Oxford Farming Conference, David Cameron has called for a “buy British” campaign and condemned the government for not measuring how much of the money it spends on food goes towards British produce. He says that it is "completely wrong" that food "can be imported to Britain, processed here, and subsequently labelled in a way that suggests it's genuinely British". Perhaps, but it creates more wealth to import raw materials and package them here than either to ...
3:49 pm

Sharing time with Caring folk

Gravatar I went back to work today, and my first task was to attend a meeting with some Social Care providers regarding a Service Level Agreement they want my help in writing. It was in a far-flung Council care facility which, sitting as I do in my ivory tower, I didn't even know existed until today. The reach of Council tentacles far and wide never ceases to amaze me. It's a wonder to behold the
3:45 pm

Welcome to 2007

Gravatar I’m back in town for the foreseeable future (well, the next couple of weeks at least), so the incessant recording of my life’s trivialities that is this blog returns. I am very tired today, having had to return to my working-week sleeping pattern rather too abruptly. I lay in bed last night at 23.30, having barely been awake for twelve hours previously, staring at the ceiling and trying to work
3:44 pm

Go South West

Gravatar It never happened when I was a kid.  I used to be dragged kicking and screaming to the dentist.  The smell of the surgery, the sound of the drill, the sensation of metal instruments on ename...
3:39 pm

Dodgy voting

Gravatar The Today Programme's Christmas Repeal has been seeking listeners views on a favourite current liberal topic - which laws should be repealed.If you missed the result, follow this link, which shows that the runaway winner was the recent Hunting Act. However, the result was so runaway that many sensed that the result might not have been a true sampling of the public's opinion:"A total of 52.8 per cent of the telephone and internet votes went to repealing the hunting ban. It was well ahead of the 29.7 per cent of the voters who wanted to scrap the 1972 European ...
2:35 pm

The Shingles Yardley by Sears 1911

Gravatar I have just picked up the painting "The Shingles" which is a watercolour of the banks of the River Cole in 1911 (just before Yardley joined Birmingham from East Worcestershire). This will be on the wall in the constituency office.
2:00 pm

Is Big Brother watching you?

Gravatar Could this be the future … see this US clip.
1:51 pm

Shopping Choices can make a difference.

Gravatar My first shopping trip of the new year has reminded me of one of my new years resolutions. I want to be more aware of the choices I make while shopping. Recently I had my Carbon Footprint measured and was surprised to find that around 50% of my personal contribution to the destruction of our environment comes from food. The majority of this is down to transport costs and as more of our food is flown across the world small choices we make in our shops can make a significant difference. Another way we can make a difference ...
1:48 pm

Candidate news: new selections, and big Westminster List update

Gravatar Brecon and Radnorshire Liberal Democrats have unanimously reselected sitting MP Roger Williams to defend the seat at the next General Election. We’re playing catchup with selection news at the moment, so one or two other things: In Hereford, the deadline for applications is Friday 5th January 2007. Applications are available from the Returning Officer - Jim Gosling. [...]
1:27 pm

Bedworth Liberal Democrats website launch

Gravatar Bedworth Liberal Democrats have launched their website - it is at
1:00 pm

A new year, a new blog

Gravatar Having given in to my geeky side (you mean there’s another side? I hear you asking) I’ve set up a WordPress blog. This will eventually become my main blog, supplanting the Blogger blog Liberal Alone. In the meantime, everything here is fluid. Name, design, even posts…
12:42 pm

Opinion: Don't panic, Ming, don't panic (updated)

Gravatar I was surprised this morning to find the lead story on BBC News online politics to be Sir Menzies warns off his critics. The leader appeared on the Today programme this morning to defend himself against a silly quote from a single, anonymous, “Lib Dem MP” quoted in a paper whose readers probably don’t vote, and [...]
12:37 pm

The Separation of Powers

Gravatar I've written about this on Lib Dem Voice. That's me Liberty Cat has posted a thoughtful response on Forceful and Moderate.
12:23 pm

An Inconvenient Truth

Gravatar Orpington Lib Dems will be having an american style "house party" at our 7 Station Road HQ on 17 January (7.45pm) to watch Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth". I've just watched the preview on YouTube. Any Lib Dem members who want to come along (or others interested in the environment) send Viv Ross an email More info for party members here.
11:18 am

Do the BBC want Nick Clegg for leader?

Gravatar For the second time this week I have heard a BBC presenter mentioning Nick Clegg as our potential new leader. There is no doubt he is more of a match for Cameron, but I do tend to agree with others that to dive into another leadership election at this point would smack of panic. Far better then for Ming to let our stars twinkle a little more, to demonstrate that we have the talent within our party to be able to take on all comers. As for the adorable Nick, I do rate him as a true liberal, but maybe ...
11:13 am

Good news on local graffiti

Gravatar Been advised this morning that the offensive graffiti on a utility box on Perth Road I recently reported to the City Council following a resident's complaint has been promptly removed.
11:12 am

Grockley wazzocks at the Groan

Gravatar The ludicrously named Leo Benedictus of the Guardian has produced a light-hearted piece about the South West, which is on balance, a little stupider than it is funny. A central theme of the brief article seems to be an assertion that the peoples of Devon, Cornwall and Somerset are bigoted cider-guzzling morons - which is only a third true. Even in jest, to suggest that the fact that “everyone is a
11:03 am

Cowley St feels deserted

Gravatar My train into London yesterday was half empty, a pleasant change from the sardine tin mode of travel I normally endure. The same today. Seems as though many are not starting back at work immediately after New Year. The same seems to have happened in Cowley St. Where is everyone? Yesterday, I was the only person in our office to be in work. Today, Laura from Policy is here. But otherwise, HQ
10:42 am

Planning Applications

Gravatar Ward: Combe Down App Ref: 06/04251/LBA Parish: Registered: ...
9:44 am

New Year- same old, same old

Gravatar Although I was back in the office yesterday, it was something of a quiet day- few people around. As I arrived at my local tube station the joy of the latest tube fare increases was fully apparent: a zone one journey has gone from an extortionate £3 to an eye popping £4- a 33% increase. As usual Ken "sobersides" Livingstone came out with some tosh to justify this disgraceful state of affairs. London tube fares are not just higher than any other major city in the world- they are a multiple of the fares in any other major city in ...
9:30 am

The top five local Liberal Democrat websites

Gravatar Based on the amount of traffic they’ve passed on to in the second half of 2006, the top five local Liberal Democrat sites were: Quite a decent geographic spread, although all in England. Having two parties without a Lib Dem MP in there is a promising sign of the use of the internet across the [...]
9:29 am

The return of the native

Gravatar I read yesterday that wild boar are rampaging across Dartmoor. They were let loose by animal rights activists and have since been terrorising dog walkers. It begs the question what the moral responsibility of an animal rights activist would be if a boar mauled a dog; the activist would be indirectly responsible for suffering to an animal! Apparently, nature lovers have been upset by the boar’s habit of rooting up land on which sheep and ponies would normally graze. Boar will be boar, I suppose. Nonetheless, these poor nature lovers are unhappy that these wild animals that were ...
8:24 am

Cheap shots and the not so cheap art of electioneering

Gravatar The Guardian headline urges MPs to change their drinking habits but this story is not advocating the closure of Commons' bars or compulsory AA meetings for the most hardened Parliamentary drinkers. Instead Sustain, the food and farming pressure group, is urging MPs to drop the environmentally unfriendly and expensive habit of drinking bottled water at meetings in favour of a glass from the tap. Quite right too! Meanwhile, negotiations continue over the reform of election funding. It seems that the impasse boils down to Labour defending its interests in resisting a cap on donations, whilst the Tories seek to ...
8:08 am

Gurkha Justice: The Gurkha Citizenship and Pension Campaign

Gravatar Peter Carroll the former Parliamentary Candidate for Folkestone and Hythe has placed a petition on the website of the Prime Minister for Gurkha Justice.
7:23 am

Bush gets himself caught in the mangle

Gravatar Well that's a polite way of putting it. He's in a cleft stick situation, is another way of putting it. He's sent 3,000 US troops to their death in Iraq. So to justify all that bloodshed he has to (he thinks) keep sending in more troops. One more heave. He's got nothing to lose. He won't get shot. He isn't standing for election again. Unfortunately it won't work. So he will just get the USA
7:15 am

I love Little Chefs

Gravatar Er...that's the restaurants. The dear Little Chef is throwing a bit of a wobbly in the kitchen at the moment. Hopefully all will get straightened out and he'll be out frying the eggs untroubled again soon. I first fell in love with Little Chef restaurants in my childhood. You could always rely on the meals being beautifully cooked (if not entirely from fresh ingredients!) and nicely presented.
6:54 am

First Thoughts

Gravatar I've finally given in! For some years I've been actively exchanging e-mails with thousands of my Northavon constituents, asking for their views and hearing what they have to say. But it's taken me until now to give in to becoming a blogger. I've been inspired by some of my colleagues who have been blogging for some time (notably Lynne Featherstone MP - and I hope to use this online diary to let you know when interesting things happen in my work as an MP or when I just want to get something off my chest. I've no idea whether ...
3:16 am

Because life should be in colour...

Gravatar I've been quite busy over the past few days, in a 'not actually doing very much' kind of way. I've been commuting backwards and forwards between my hotel and the family home in Mahim, and haven't had much time for the rest of my life otherwise. Enough apologising though, and on with the action. Last year, I made a bunch of resolutions that I never kept. So far, so boring. This year, I intend to
1:22 am

Policy discussions

Gravatar To keep up to date with the policy discussions at, there's now an RSS feed for the comments being made on the site to make it easier to see and respond to other people's comments.
12:47 am

A sportsmanlike attack on the polluter pays principle

Gravatar The Times is clearly a kind employer that likes to develop its staff, because occasionally it lets specialist columnists loose on its general comments page. So it was on Tuesday when Martin Samuel, “Sports Writer of the Year at both the What the Papers Say awards and the Sports Journalists' Association Awards”, wrote a typically ill-informed piece about waste disposal and the polluter pays principle. There is a simple logic to his point that he does not ask for his food to be over-packaged or to be inundated with unsolicited mail, and that it is therefore unfair that he ...
12:35 am

Trouble in Fakenham - New Year

Gravatar I was sorry to read in the EDP about an attack in Fakenham in the early hours of New Year's Day. There was, in Fakenham a few years ago, often trouble on a Friday or Saturday night with some fights at closing time. Thankfully, the police have really made great strides in tackling this. I went out with the police about two years ago on a Friday night with Norman Lamb, the local MP, and saw at first hand just how hard the police and the "specials" work to stop trouble and make use of the CCTV to nip ...
12:30 am

Welcome to the EU Romania and Bulgaria!

Gravatar I also should have mentioned in my previous post my welcome to EU membership for Romania and Bulgaria, two countries where I have had the pleasure to work on international development projects supporting Small and Medium Enterprise Development. Both of them have made enormous strides towards becoming market economies and democracies in such a short space of time and not without some pain. I strongly believe that the potential for EU membership has helped to strengthen pro-market democratic forces in these countries (both of which now have strong Liberal traditions) which Eurosceptics ignore at their peril. Knowing ...
12:30 am

What the "country" really think about hunting when the Countryside Alliance don't get to fiddle the poll

Gravatar The Eastern Daily Press ran a poll on their website recently to see if the Hunting Law's introduced two years ago should be repealed. Only 42% vote to repeal them. Read about it HERE. This is interesting becaues the EDP sells more copies outside of Norwich than it does in Norwich (Norwich is really served by the Evening news), so this poll will, in the main, have been voted on by country folk. So it is interesting to see what the country really think when the countryside alliance cannot fiddle the poll as the did in a ...
12:20 am

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows again !

Gravatar Since I published the little story about three weeks ago regarding the yet to be released Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I am now getting asked questions about the book, including when it will be out, what the price of it will be and what the "Deathly Hallows" might actually be. So if anyone reading this actually has the answer to these questions, please click on the link HERE and post your ideas as there are some very frustrated Harry Potter fans out there.

Previous days:

Tuesday 2nd January 2007, Monday 1st January 2007, Sunday 31st December 2006, Saturday 30th December 2006, Friday 29th December 2006, Thursday 28th December 2006