Thursday 4th January 2007

11:32 pm

Fellow Lift breakdown occupants from Hell

Gravatar I have often thought of the three worst people I would want to be stuck in a broken-down lift with. My worst three would be: 1. Jeffrey Archer 2. Edwina Currie 3. Sebastian Coe If I was stuck in a lift with all three, I think I would emerge from the lift with inter-cranial bleeding due to banging my head up against the wall of the lift. Any thoughts on these or others?
11:16 pm

Where to for British sports car manufacturing?

Gravatar It is probably a complete betrayal as a green Liberal Democrat to confess to a love of sports cars. Ever since my childhood love in the 1960s of Aston Martins I have had a particular obsession. Mainly with British sports cars - over the years Aston Martin, Jaguar, Lotus, TVR, Jensen to name a distinguished few. Italian sports cars have also ranked high (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani Zonda...). It
10:49 pm

A bit desperate, Dan?

Gravatar Responding to Michael Gove's announcement on Tuesday that the Tories were going to support the idea of Community Land Trusts as a key part of housing policy Dan Rogerson's press release was out today: Liberal Democrats : Tories are playing catch up on community land trusts - Rogerson: Tories are playing catch up on community land trusts - Rogerson 4 January 2007 The Liberal Democrats today attacked the Conservative’s latest housing policy initiative as a desperate attempt to catch up with reality without offering a new vision. Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson, Dan Rogerson MP said: ...
10:26 pm

What will Brown be like?

Gravatar The Economist has a view - and sees problems for both Brown and Cameron.
10:18 pm

What Gordon Brown proposes, the World Bank opposes

Gravatar I just noticed that Gordon Brown today called for "worldwide free education". Read it HERE. All well and good, but the World Bank, when it assesses a country in debt crisis, imposes as part of Structural Adjustment Plans (SAPs), cuts in spending on schools, an end to free education and healthcare and many other harsh impositions. The aim of these SAP's is to ensure that these countries are able to free up capital. However, the effect is to keep their population ill, lower the average age and ensure the population grows up more uneducated. So Gordon Brown, kind words need ...
10:10 pm

Cameron's Corn Laws

Gravatar Whilst Michael Grove seems to be using the Levellers as inspiration for Tory housing policy, Dave has gone for a more traditional inspiration for his food policies; that symbol of early 19th century High Toryism the Corn Laws. As anybody with A-level history knows the Corn Laws were introduced in the early 19th century to protect British (Tory) landowners from competition from foreign imports.
9:40 pm

Environmentally friendly Celebrity Big Brother

Gravatar Just been watching what I missed last night. Glad to see that this series is environmentally friendly. I am not sure Shilpa Shetty fits the criteria though.
8:17 pm

The case against farm subsidies

Gravatar Graham Harvey has a good article on the Guardian website: While consumers may clamour for healthy, local foods, the British countryside is singularly ill-prepared to provide them. Mainstream agriculture is principally engaged in growing bulk commodity cereal crops on a large scale, an enterprise entirely dependent on nitrate fertiliser whose manufacture wastes profligate amounts of fossil energy. Half of these industrial grains are then fed to animals kept in sheds. Animals managed this way are often unhealthy. So is the commodity milk and meat they produce. Things will have to be organised differently if we're serious about healthy, local food.For ...
7:51 pm

Climb Lines

Gravatar I regularly ride my bike up Ralph Allen Drive, often when it is dark, as do many more Combe Down residents, but it is quite frightening to be passed closely by cars travelling at speed. I have therefore written to Cllr Sir Elgar Jenkins, Cabinet member for Transport asking for a white line to be painted on the 'up' side of Ralph Allen Drive. This ‘Climb Line’ (really a cycle lane) will be helpful to motorists too in giving them a guide to how much room they should give to cyclists. I see this as a pilot scheme, which ...
7:48 pm

Five things...

Gravatar I don't normally do memes but the author of Blamerbell Briefs has written some nice things about me over the last few months so I will make an exception. I have been tagged by Ciaran Jenkins to tell you five things you may not know about me. For a politician this can be very dangerous so I hope you do not mind if I don't get too carried away: 1. My old school was also the alma mater of Harold Wilson and Ted Rowlands, the former MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney. 2. My Grandmother was a Welsh ...
7:39 pm

5 things you probably didn't want to know about me

Gravatar I've been tagged by Iain Dale with the five things meme, which should be things you probably don't know about me, and probably couldn't care less either. 1) I voted for the rump SDP in the 1989 Euro elections. 2) I have stood for election in Coventry and Northampton as well as in Norwich. 3) When I was 10 I used to play for a local football team as a striker with Chris Sutton (formerly of Celtic, Blackburn, Norwich and Chelsea - Now playing for Aston Villa) and I outscored him. Sadly, he earns in one week what I ...
7:19 pm

I said there was a joke or two left in cattle methane emissions

Gravatar Here is the Mirror. WIND OF CHANGE FOR OUR COWS LIB Dem and Labour MPs yesterday called for action to stop cows "farting". The Lib Dems said cows' diets should be changed - to cut methane gas and global warming. I'm not sure about the inverted commas though. Surely this is a word to be found in the dictionary?
6:41 pm

CNN in major cock up - What a mistake to make !

Gravatar CNN has had to issue an apology to Barak Obama, one of the leading Democrats likely to run for the US presidency, after mistaking him in a report for Osama Bin Laden ! Astonishingly, a caption on an item promoting a feature on the whereabouts of the al Qaeda leader carried the caption "Where's Obama?" over footage of Bin Laden. Read more about it HERE. And I thought ITV news made cock ups ! P.S. Credit should go to Liberal Polemic, who broke this story 14 hours before me.
6:25 pm

Sometimes the word "hero" is overused, but not in this case

Gravatar I reda a genuine tale about a real "hero" on the BBC website today. I won't repeat it, but click HERE to read it. The word "hero" is so often over-used, but in this case, the man thought quickly, acted selflessly, and saved someone's life. Well done that man !
6:07 pm

The Saints Are Coming

Gravatar Things are hotting up on the soccer front as we approach the third round of the FA Cup when Torquay United take on Championship Southampton.   Off the field controversy still surrounds Chris Rob...
5:46 pm

Labour and Independents desperate rush to claim credit for Eston precinct is premature

Gravatar Letters from rival Labour and Independent Councillors in Eston and Teesville wards in the Evening Gazette have suggested that they have had contact with a company who wish to redevelop Eston Precinct. The Council has twice written to the prospective developers asking them to provide details of their business plan and how they will finance the purchase of the existing properties and businesses on the site. A meeting that was due to take place this week, between the Council and the proposed developers, had to be cancelled when it was learned that they do not have a business plan ...
5:41 pm

Coatham beach is not closed

Gravatar The Evening Gazette has today published a letter claiming that the Council has closed Coatham beach to walkers and dog walkers. There is not one word of truth in this.
5:29 pm

The Car's The Star

Gravatar A thought crossed my mind this morning as I drove to work. Well, a number of thoughts really. First, that driving by myself 11 miles to work was not the most environmentally friendly way of doing things. But then I thought that the public transport options involved in going from Prestwich to Oldham (walk to Metrolink station followed by Metrolink to Bowker Vale followed by walk to bus stop
5:28 pm


Gravatar Mike draws my attention to a successful use of the internet in the last few days. Nicholas Hellen, a Sunday Times journalist responsible for a certain unpleasant email, now finds that highlighted when his name his entered into the world’s leading search engine. Abby Lee’s blog isn’t one I read (not my cup of tea), [...]
4:58 pm

An awful lot of Mars Bars courtesy of the Poles

Gravatar Matt Davies reminds me that Migration Watch have produced figures on the economic impact of immigration that dispute those produced by HM Government. According to Migration Watch, the economic impact is worth 4p a day per UK citizen or “less than the equivalent of a small Mars bar a month” Now you've got to admire those Poles. They make it all the way here with millions of fun-sized mars bars on their backs... That's what I call hard working! The point of Migration Watch’s figures was to dispute Government figures that migrants have contributed 0.5% to GDP over-and-above ...
4:57 pm

DIY frenzy

Gravatar I've finally managed to clear the house of paper work. Just awaiting the recycling collection on Tuesday... Although I think they'll have a shock with the 20+kg I've managed to junk. On Tuesday I managed to spend most of the day shopping for a mirror, and picture clip frames. I had been relying on Athena to supply the clip frames, but hadn't banked on them having closed down most of their shops! And where else can you buy a 1000x700 and 700x500 frames on the highstreet (where you have no car to get to out of town places)? The mirror ...
4:37 pm

More interesting cases re Fractures and Metaphyseal Fractures

Gravatar I had two more interesting cases today and yesterday. Both related to where a baby had a broken bone at an early age (under 3 months). A full skeletal survey was then done (which involves about 19 x-rays). Various vague fractures were then diagnosed. In one case after about 6 months of traumatic experiences the court sensibly decided that actually there was no evidence of the parents having
4:07 pm

Statistical Error

Gravatar Following on from yesterday's story on the basic failings in literacy, even of graduate job applications. It occurred to me to check the literacy rates across different countries. The list is interesting, for the UK comes out as a highly literate country . Only one problem, despite claiming full adult literacy, even the UK statistics agencies point out that over 7 million people in Britain are functionally illiterate. Perhaps under the circumstances, we should not be surprised that numeracy is even worse: The Department for Education's own figures suggest that 47% of the adult population understand percentages so little ...
3:57 pm

Its my party

Gravatar New Year, New Party - that's the rallying cry of millionaire Scotsman, Archie Sinclair, according to the Daily Telegraph today.  "A new political party is being set up by a member of one of Scotland's most historic families to try to halt the growing bandwagon towards a referendum on the break-up of the United Kingdom."SAS clan calls for new fight to save the union - The Telegraph The precedent set by other new parties isn't hopeful.  Unfavourable comparisons will no doubt be made with Veritas, the Pro Euro Tories and the Natural Law Party. (Indeed, Mr Sinclair is lucky ...
3:55 pm

The Lib Dems and the Surrey Police Authority

Gravatar Now this is weird: Does anybody know the connection between the Lib Dems and the Surrey Police Authority?A site for political analysis and opinion of an avowedly liberal view. It's all about freedom.
2:57 pm

Council to launch sanctuary scheme

Gravatar Redcar and Cleveland Council is one of the first local authorities in the North East to follow government guidance and offer a sanctuary scheme for residents who are victims of domestic abuse. The scheme's aim is to provide a victim-centred initiative for people who have experienced or are at risk of domestic abuse and, as a result, likely to be made homeless. The Council's Cabinet Member for Health and Social Services, Councillor Valerie Halton, who leads on domestic violence issues, said: "For many people, being able to stay in their own home is important, as they may have ...
2:09 pm

Freebrough School opens on Tuesday

Gravatar Pupils, staff and governors at Freebrough Specialist Engineering College will move into their new site in Brotton on Tuesday, January 9, following the culmination of a £16million project by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council. The new 10,000 square metre building brings together 1,000 students from the school’s previous three sites in Brotton, Loftus and Skelton. It is the sixth new school to open its doors in Redcar and Cleveland in the last 12 months. In November, Bydales Specialist Technology School in Marske, Gillbrook College in South Bank and Sacred Heart RC Specialist Science College in Redcar all moved ...
1:21 pm

Smoking Age

Gravatar The recent government proposals to raise the smoking age to 18 expose the lack of principle and the illiberal outlook of this government and raises difficult questions around responsibility and the nature of adulthood. Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance highlights the nature of this government in the press release made on this issue. Rather bluntly [...]
1:14 pm

No Shit Sherlock No. 1678

Gravatar The less-than-welcome return of No Shit Sherlock, with the revelation that people believe bright schoolchildren do better when grouped with (guess who) bright schoolchildren. And there I was believing that being stuck next to Thicko Johnson in Science class helped me in my GCSEs, as well as endangering my life when he forgot to close the door on the vacuum pump.
1:12 pm

Migration Watch in "Immigrants give you money" shocker!

Gravatar Saw a little bit in the paper this morning, quoting Migration Watch UK - yes, the anti-immigration group. Seemed to be saying that the net financial benefit to the UK of immigration is positive - not negative, as they would usually have you believe. Of course, they *still* try and make this sound like immigration is A Very Bad Thing. Apparently, the financial benefit to "each member of the native population of the UK from immigration is worth about 4p a week - or less than the equivalent of a small Mars bar a month". The paper I ...
1:02 pm

Let the train take the strain

Gravatar When I wrote the post comparing the cost of tube travel with the potential cost of flights to Malaysia on Richard Branson's proposed budget airline venture, I think I didn't make it clear enough which part I thought was scariest... Because, scary as the massive tube prices are, they're not a patch on how scary global warming is. The photo above was taken on the climate change march in London in November, it's me with Hornsey & Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone. The biggest problem of course is short-haul flights. Why fly to Paris or Brussels when you ...
11:49 am

Did Harriet Harman spin a murder?

Gravatar The Police have clarified, in the Southwark News, questions raised about Labour MP Harriet Harman's spin to the South London Press that a murder on the Wood Dene Estate in 2005 could have been prevented by publicising the terms of an ASBO on one of the murderers. As I speculated earlier this week, the ASBO did not ban murderer Diamond Babamuboni from the Estate, as the SLP and Harman (in a related article) claimed in a front-page splash with the headline "ASBO Killing Outrage - Christening shooting boy was banned from estate", but from around the area of the ...
11:27 am

Sale of the (18th) Century

Gravatar You’re the first elected Muslim congressman in the USA. You want to swear your oath of office using the Qur’an. But you want to deflect the inevitable reactionary criticism that will follow. What do you do? Well, Minnesotan Democrat Keith Ellison has come up with an ingenious solution, as reported by When Keith Ellison takes his individual ceremonial oath of office today (4th
11:09 am

Pakes resists calls to go

Gravatar The Southwark News coverage of Cllr. Andrew Pakes' decision to do a Wimbledon and flee from South London to Milton Keynes suggests he will try and cling on to his Council seat for as long as possible, despite moving to MK. In it, to support the decision, he claims "Milton Keynes is only thirty minutes away from London by train". Interesting... Milton Keynes Central station on a fast Virgin train is indeed only 30 minutes to London Euston, The Silverlink service is nearer to 40 minutes. His ward, Livesey, is a further 40-60 minutes away by Underground ...
10:47 am

Vaccination and Public Health

Gravatar There have been a lot of debates about vaccination. There is a doctor in the USA who runs a blog (see link) that posts about vaccination. I am generally a supporter of the principles of vaccination. In a sense the debate about MMR shows how things can get a little flakey argument wise. There are adverse reactions to vaccinations, but they are almost invariably a lower risk than the adverse
10:47 am

The return of Celebrity Big Brother

Gravatar Last night saw the return to Celebrity Big Brother, whilst I have pledged never to vote in a reality tv show again, it doesn't stop me watching them. I know its bad television, completely dumbed down and just there to make money (and fools of the contestants) but it doesn't stop me enjoyed them and using it as escapism.
10:45 am

Overkeen Plaid abandon principles already

Gravatar As today's Western Mail editorial points out, Plaid Cymru's eagerness to get into bed with Labour after next May's elections appears to have no boundaries. In an eagerly awaited statement of principle Ieuan Wyn Jones takes up a significant proportion of a full page of the paper spelling out his party's strong commitment to having a referendum on turning the Assembly into a full Scottish-style Parliament by 2011. However, it turns out that even this is negotiable. Reading through the Plaid leader's interview one is left with the impression that he will sacrifice any policy or principle ...
10:05 am

Aliased old RSS/Atom feeds

Gravatar If there’s anyone out there subscribed to the old atom or rss feed, you should be getting this blog now. I’m redirecting the old feed locations to the new one. I hope it works, shout at me if you have  any problems…
9:19 am

Ethan Hawke - a better author than actor

Gravatar Last night I wasted 100 minutes of my life watching a version of Hamlet starring Ethan Hawke (it's five or so years old I think). Now, I admit that the Venn diagram showing the sets "people reading this blog" and "people likely to be planning to watch the Ethan Hawke version of Hamlet" is less a Venn diagram and more just two circles. But I thought it was my duty to play it safe and warn people anyway. I love Hamlet, it was one of my texts for A Level (along with A Winter's Tale - complete rubbish). ...
8:00 am

The five blogs nicest to the Lib Dems

Gravatar Based on the amount of traffic they’ve passed on to in the second half of 2006, the top five blogs were: Guido Fawkes Iain Dale Lynne Featherstone Ming Campbell Recess Monkey  No dog or elephant, but at least there’s a red monkey. Somehow I suspect some of them might quibble with the “nicest to the Lib Dems” accolade :-) - but thanks [...]
2:16 am

The threat posed by Barak Obama

Gravatar Sometimes, when you make a mistake, you really need to do some grovelling.A site for political analysis and opinion of an avowedly liberal view. It's all about freedom.
1:56 am

Let down by the BBC (again!)

Gravatar I am bitterly disappointed to discover that the BBC do not archive news programmes and that as such old URLs now take viewers to a new item. On a few occasions I have included clips from the BBC in my postings, most notably when I was urging readers to listen to Roman Halter, an Auschwitz survivor, describe how wonderful he found Britain after the war and how much he cherished our strong tradition of liberty. His eloquent eulogising of freedom of speech was all the more poignant as he was arguing that the Holocaust-denier David Irving should be free ...
12:14 am

The Limits Of Creeping Shinyness

Gravatar Our second railway case study takes us to the riverside cathedral city of Worcester. It might seem odd to consider a city with two central railway stations to be underserved, but a brief analysis of the topology of things shows a fundamental problem. The mainline (in this case the Bristol-Birmingham line) runs some miles to the east of the city, leaving the primary station, Shrub Hill, isolated
12:02 am

News from the Hill

Gravatar As Washington prepares for the new congress to sit, two stories leap out at me reading the CBS News Politics pages that wouldn't normally get noticed over here. The first was highlighted by Tony Ferguson on Ballots, Balls and Bikes on 16 December. Dem. Sen. Tim Johnson received brain surgery last month and still faces a long recuperation. As reported by CBS, aides say he has shown steady

Previous days:

Wednesday 3rd January 2007, Tuesday 2nd January 2007, Monday 1st January 2007, Sunday 31st December 2006, Saturday 30th December 2006, Friday 29th December 2006