Sunday 7th January 2007

11:14 pm

toothless in stirchley

Gravatar {100_6943_resize} The weekend has been spent eating softer food since my UR1 bridge has popped out again. (Unlike the previous two occasions I had a mouthful of food, so slightly disconcerting...) I've still got a few weeks to wait before the final stages of the implant work. So I'll get the bridge stuck back in tomorrow, and avoid biting for a day. The self-portrait was taken with my Canon 5D, 24-105f4 lens and 580EX flash and uses my newly fitted mirror.
10:57 pm

The First 007 of ’007

Gravatar Happy newish year, and though the producers of the James Bond films have missed their chance with 2007, I can’t turn down a pun. Especially not on the 007th of January, even when that’s actually the 46th birthday of The Avengers (celebrate with the stunning The House That Jack Built, on BBC4 at 7.10 this Thursday). Despite knowing nothing about music – can’t read, can’t play, can’t identify most instruments – I know that Bond has an instantly recognisable musical style (how many film series can say that?), so I’m going to review the songs as much as the movies. ...
10:44 pm

Age of Majority

Gravatar Sounds like it should be a Sid Meier game... The debate on whether there should be a common age of majority never fails to go away. This year will see the age at which you can stand at local elections reduced to 18 from 21, meanwhile there is a proposal to increase the age of purchasing cigarettes to 18 from 16. Solvents and paints will remain at 16. There is an argument that restricting aerosol paint purchases to over 18s would prevent graffiti as this is predominantly carried out by those under 18. My guess is that, like alcohol, U18s ...
10:20 pm

Magnus Magnusson

Gravatar I was sorry to hear the sad news of Magnus Magnusson. He always struck me as an enormously decent gentleman. As Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC, commented, he was "one of the defining faces and voices of the BBC". My wife and I were very privileged to be at, I think I am right in saying, the last recording of Mastermind presented by Magnus Magnusson. It was at Blenheim Palace. He
10:17 pm

About time security was taken seriously at Bacton Gas Terminal

Gravatar The sudden appearance of the police outside Bacton Gas Terminal in North Norfolk on 12th September 2001 only served to highlight the lack of security at the terminal. Now, we read, the Army might be about to take responsibility for the security of the site. This has to be welcomed. It was well known in North Norfolk that there was just one police car on duty in the early hours of the mornings in the Eastern side of North Norfolk which had to deal with problems at Bacton and problems in the town of North Walsham. Yet only ...
10:04 pm

Chip and Pin and Cambridge

Gravatar There was an article on the front page of yesterday’s Evening Standard about Chip and Pin security citing work done at the Cambridge Computer Lab. This reminded me to post a link to their interesting blog LightBlueTouchPaper. I was at the lab a few weeks back giving a talk on the politics of internet security [...]
9:44 pm

Okay , word verification is removed !

Gravatar Justin Hinchcliffe asked me yesterday to remove the word verification on my blog. Initially I was hesitant. but it begs the question why people needs to have word verification and comments moderation ? I know the verification is supposed to stop spam, but so does the comments moderation, so why have both ? Having just attempted four times to enter the correct letters in to Iain Dale's blog to pass his word verification, it has shown me just how frustrating it is. Now in return, I am looking for people to leave more comments. ...
9:29 pm

"Too poor to prosecute them", say Norfolk police

Gravatar Norfolk police have written to a victim of crime saying that no further action will be taken against the perpetrators, who were caught as a result of CCTV evidence, because they were "unemployed foreign nationals with no income" This is hardly a statement likely to engender confidence in the legal system or likely to create racial harmony. People are under the misapprehension that the legal system is biased against the law abiding majority, and this sort of police statement plays straight in to the hands of those who want to stir up racial hatred. I'm pleased to see ...
9:25 pm

Eat your heart out Jamie Oliver

Gravatar It's been a busy, busy weekend:
9:15 pm

Ministers may fear science but the people still believe in progress

Gravatar On Friday I reported that a general distrust of scientific progress caused by misunderstandings encouraged by anti-scientific groups was putting important scientific research at risk. In this specific case, work aimed at finding cures for major diseases such as Motor Neurone disease, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s was being undermined because ministers (specifically health ministers Patricia Hewitt and Caroline Flint) had become spooked after a majority of the 535 respondents to an unrelated consultation on human fertility treatment reacted negatively. At the time I implied that the majority of the 535 respondents to that consultation probably did not indicate ...
7:13 pm

Action Update: Potential BIG problems with Metrolink

Gravatar I share the worries of a number of local residents, who have contacted me saying theat they're getting quite worried about the closure of Metrolink, which is happening in the Spring to replace the tracks. The whole line will be shut for months, but nobody seems to know anything about it. I have written a letter to Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE), and this is what it says:
7:00 pm

I actually do things other than leaflet, on occasion...

Gravatar I often wonder whether anybody reads this blog other than my own family, and those with more an interest in Prestwich local politics which goes beyond the healthy. I have come to the conclusion that, probably, nobody other than the two categories mentioned actually does read it. But, in case anyone else does, and is interested in my social life, here is what a link to some photos of what I did
6:55 pm

Exciting times behind us, exciting times ahead!

Gravatar This has been a busy weekend. Yesterday Sedgley campaigner Steve Wright and I joined the Lib Dem Council group at St Margaret’s Community Centre for our annual away day. Although the undoubted highlight was the Marks and Spencer sandwich lunch we had, there were also interesting reflections on some of the achievements that the Bury Liberal Democrats have made in 2006, including: -
6:16 pm

Its not just dangerous dogs to be worried about..

Gravatar Norfolk farm estate worker was taken to hospital earlier today after being attacked by a herd of pigs. The 51-year-old man, who has not been named, fell and was attacked by a sow in a pen. A Norfolk police spokesman told the EDP that: “It seems that when he fell, he was attacked by one of the sows and then other pigs joined in. As a result he suffered bumps and bruises and a head injury, though it is not now considered to be life threatening. The man was able to crawl out of the pig pen and summon ...
5:49 pm

TV Film of the Week: The Kidnappers

Gravatar Two little orphan boys are not allowed a dog by their stern grandfather, so instead they steal a baby to have something to love and play with. Insufferably sugary? Not a bit of it. The Kidnappers , to be shown by Channel at 10.00 a.m. on Tuesday 9 January, is actually rather a bleak film, dealing with poverty and racial tension. It was made in Scotland in 1953, but set in Canada at the time of the Boer War. So much for the idea that British films of the period were always insular. The best account of the film ...
5:45 pm

The silence ends - Well so says Blair's press secretary

Gravatar So TOny Blair has, apparently spoken out against the shambolic hangin of Saddam Hussein. Of course, we won't hear him say it (in case it upset his friends in Iraq - You can't ever be critical of friends after all), but the BBC reports that he has done it. I guess we'll just have to take his word for it. Read the report HERE.
5:35 pm

Alan Bennett's Diary

Gravatar 6 January 2007 Waiting for J. in the Great Court of the British Museum, crowds sheepish and quiet, as they so often are these days, I look through Alan Bennett's Diary extracts for 2006. His entry for one year ago catches my eye: 6 January. Papers full of the Charles Kennedy being, or having been, an alcoholic. I'd have thought Chuchill came close and Asquith, too, and when it comes to politics it's hardly a disabling disease. Except to the press. But less perilous, I would have thought, to have a leader intoxicated with whisky than one like Blair, ...
5:24 pm

Why the Lib Dems should be careful how they choose their candidates

Gravatar Back in July 2005 the Guardian reported that Simon Hughes had suggested that: advertise for would-be MPs in newspapers, women's magazines and on the radio, their president urged yesterday. Even non-members could apply to stand as a Lib Dem parliamentary candidate under plans introduced by Simon Hughes. I was less than complimentary about the idea at the time: If he means a party needs philosophers, economists and novelists as well as activists, he is right. But our opponents would hang a crass idea like advertising for candidates round our necks for years afterwards. Simon should take his ...
5:02 pm

Day 2194: TORCHWOOD: Captain Jack Harkness / End of Days

Gravatar Wednesday: (Okay, yesterday squared REALLY) I would refer you to Mr James Graham’s thoughts on Torchwood and leave it at that. But there’s just no shutting Daddy up so, for the last time this season, here we go again… James makes several points: “It’s Buffy Season Six”; “the characters are stupid” “there’s no proper story arc” and “Chris Chibnall, why?”, and it’s hard to disagree with any of them. The use of alienation as a theme of the series – as in Buffy Season Six – has the obvious problem of alienating the viewer, and the Torchwood crew ...
4:59 pm

UK Rubbish Mountain the size of Warwick

Gravatar A friend and former Parliamentary Spokesperson for Warwick & Leamington, Linda Forbes sent me an interesting news story this weekend. It seems that the UK's Landfill is now the size of Warwick. I was discussing only this morning how by garden composting and recycling my newspapers and bottles my weekly rubbish has reduced significantly, yet I am concerned with the amount of plastic packaging we get from our supermarkets each week. The UK throws away more rubbish than any other European country. We clearly have to do a LOT more to reduce the volume of rubbish we throw ...
4:36 pm

Breastfeeding for babies taken into care

Gravatar The link is to BAILII and is to case reference 2003 EWHC 850 in which the following statement is made: 44. iv) If a baby is to be removed from his mother one would normally expect arrangements to be made by the local authority to facilitate contact on a regular and generous basis. It is a dreadful thing to take a baby away from his mother: dreadful for mother, dreadful for father and dreadful for
4:19 pm

Look out south east London, here we come!

Gravatar I have just finished writing up the Events and Fund-raising Plan for the new Lewisham & Beckenham North Local Party and I’m exhausted already! It is quite an ambitious plan with something going on almost every week of the next year. My next job is to somehow replace my name as key contact on the vast majority of those events; otherwise I can forget finding the time to blog!
3:59 pm

Council tax- harming the environment

Gravatar There are many reasons people dislike the council tax, not least the absurdity of paying tax twice for improvements you make to your own home and the intrusion of the government into your home which this necessitates. Tim Worstall has come up with another reason the council tax is ill thought out, one which affects us [...]
3:51 pm

Nicholas Lyndhurst decries the "cult of celebrity"

Gravatar Peter Black recently carried reflections on Sian Lloyd's attack on the cult of celebrity. Now Nicholas Lyndhurst (aka Rodney/"What a 42 carat ponker you really are!" from Only Fools and Horses) is on the same warpath. Bless him. His photo is on the front page of this week's Radio Times. The headline reads: "The reluctant star". The strapline says: "The cult of celebrity has got to stop".
3:43 pm

The rarity of the Chough - Henry VIII has a lot to answer for

Gravatar Doc Martin on ITV on Christmas Day featured the humble Chough, Cornwall's symbol (left). At the end of the story, a couple of Choughs appeared to be blown sky-high by a sack full of explosives. Fortunately, for those of a sensitive disposition, the end credits stated: "No choughs were harmed during the making of Doc Martin" The Chough, of course, struggles to survive. But I learn today that
3:36 pm

The Beatles block book the Top Ten?

Gravatar In the 70s (or was it the 80s?) the Beatles did a block re-release of their singles in their original sleeves and labels. As a result, several of their old singles reached the Top Twenty. It was a masterful marketing move. Now they are set to "block book" the entire Top Ten. With internet downloads entering the chart calculations today, new download spikes for recordings will enter the charts.
2:18 pm

First Blog of '07 and last day of holls!

Gravatar It's back to work tomorrow and I've spent the afternoon getting photos together for our next Lib Dem community leaflet to go with the articles I've drafted. As always I got side-tracked to look at things we've been up to in the last year. It might be a cliche but the year has again flown ... this holiday has been quiet but fun - especially our family Boxing Day ramble in Edale (with mid-walk pub
1:59 pm

Labour in the red

Gravatar A cheering story from today's Independent: Labour is in no fit financial state to fight the next election because it has been "bankrupted" by the cash for honours affair, senior Labour MPs have warned. MPs, including those on Labour's ruling body, say the party does not have the cash to pay back almost £10m in loans due to be repaid this year. Labour figures are also bracing themselves for a massive legal bill for advice to party figures caught up in the police investigation into cash for honours. The scale of Labour's debt is so large that all money coming ...
1:48 pm

Thai Rak Thai wants investigation into new Prime Minister

Gravatar According to the internet site for The Nation the Thai Rak Thai Partys legal advisor has today called on the Assets Examination Committee to investigate allegations that the current Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont illegally occupies forest reserve. The party is asking why the Natural Resources and Environment Minister Kasem Sanidwong na Ayudhaya failed to release results of a ministry investigation after the New Year as promised. Thai Rak Thai is alleging that the Nakhon Ratchasima forest where Surayud's mountain retreat was built is a reserve. Dwellings are prohibited and they cite two Cabinet resolutions stating so. Their legal advisor Kamol ...
12:58 pm

Save Our Royal Victoria Hospital Campaign

Gravatar We're certainly having lots of fun in Folkestone finding out what is going on with the Royal Victoria Hospital. Just before Christmas the local Primary Care Trust announced plans to sell off the original victorian era buildings. It has emerged that there are plans afoot to build a new building (which will be smaller!) with the proceeds. The trouble with this is that it leaves several unanswered questions: Firstly, how are all the out-patient services that we are told are going to remain going to fit into the new building? I suspect that we will ...
12:58 pm

Amazon's Price Guarantee

Gravatar This week Slate revealed's "secret" price guarantee, where, if the price of a product purchased from their site drops within 30 days, they will refund the difference. Does have a similar guarantee? According to PCW they do, so if you bought something expensive from Amazon last month and its price has dropped in the January sale, give them a call.
12:30 pm

Citizens of 2007

Gravatar Some of the first new citizens of 2007.....
12:29 pm

Hemming threatens to name social workers in Parliament

Gravatar Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming has claimed that Trafford Social Services recently attempted to abduct a new-born baby from hospital. He says: “Because Amanda (the mother) was her self in care many years ago Social Services have continued to harrass her over the years.” John has alleged that the social workers may have committed a criminal [...]
12:28 pm

In defense of 'wasteful civil servants'

Gravatar The Tories are claiming that the fact that Government Departments spent around £3.8million ontaxiss last year is yet another example of Whitehall waste. What irritated me was not the Torys trying to make a story out of this, holding Government to account for its spending is part of the Oppositions job, but the way the Sindy reported it so uncritically. Their article reads like they have just cut
12:13 pm

Labour's Guantanamo Shame

Gravatar The most shocking thing about this article in today's Indy is not how the US torture inmates at Guantanamo Bay, but that the British Government actively collaborated in sending British residents there. Even worse despite both Governments now effectively accepting that they have made a mistake they are still rotting in Cuba. Why because the British Government is refusing to take responsibility for
11:42 am

River Cole, The Shingles, Yardley, 1911 and 2007

Gravatar It is difficult to be certain. The name "the shingles" has been used for this part of the River Cole. We are having a debate in the Constituency Party as to whether the words on the back of the picutre are "the dingles" or "the shingles". I am a part of "the shingles" faction. The Dingles are in Hall Green anyway. In the 1960s the Birmignham Salvage Department (the name for waste management
11:35 am

Football at Kensignton Meadows

Gravatar Jumpers for goalposts will soon be a thing of the past for young Rooneys and Lampards playing football in the area. The youngsters from Larkhall and Snow Hill have won a grant from Youth Bank to improve the facilities at Kensington Meadows. The initiative, run by young people themselves, will next week award them £1,380. Walcot Cllr David Dixon (Lib Dem), who put the youngsters in touch with the organisation, said the money would pay for new goalposts plus a one-off coaching session. c "It's great because it's getting more young people involved with physical exercise," he said. "We've had ...
11:20 am

The development of an international police regime

Gravatar Further news in this morning's Observer about the extraordinary measures being brought in by the USA to protect their borders and the impact on those travelling to the States. I wrote earlier about the fact that Britons travelling to America will now have their e-mail and credit card details inspected by the US Authorities, now it seems that they will also have their fingerprints stored on the FBI database alongside those of criminals. The Observer has established that under new plans to combat terrorism, the US government will demand that visitors have all 10 fingers scanned when they enter ...
11:19 am

Christmas Ice Skating

Gravatar Christmas 2005 saw ice skating in Queen Square, but there has been no repeat of what seemed a very popular addition to Bath's winter attractions since. This New Year while in London I took this photo as we passed Somerset House, the first of four or five open air ice skating venues in London. The photo speaks for itself, crowded with people experiencing something that we were able to do two years ago in bath in beautiful surroundings. I know in Bath we have had some trouble with finding a suitable venue, but I do find it difficult ...
11:11 am

Resident's Parking Thomas Street and environs

Gravatar Over 100 households have now responded to the Resident's Parking Survey. In Thomas Street 94% of respondents support a scheme In Clarence Street 58% of respondents support a scheme In Pera Road and Pera Place 78% of respondents support a scheme In Seymour Road 65% of respondents objected to a scheme Local residents sent out a newsletter stating that I would be asked to put forward a scheme excluding Seymour Road, however since this we have received a number of letters and a petition asking for Seymour Road to be included. Therefore I have asked Parking Officers to look at ...
11:01 am

Lost Saturday

Gravatar In the end I could not work out why I had travelled all the way to Llandrindod Wells yesterday for a party briefing session that effectively just reaffirmed everything I already know about our Assembly campaign. Normally, I would not mind but frankly it would have been much more enjoyable to have got a train to Sheffield instead. What a result! It really would be excellent if the Swans were drawn to play Manchester United or Chelsea at home in the next round. Inevitably, some discussion took place yesterday around Lembit and Gabriela. I was told, but cannot ...
10:50 am

Back to locality, back to the here and now!

Gravatar I didn't want to broadcast the fact that my flat was empty over the last month, but I can now mention that I was away in New Zealand for most of December, so I apologise for not updating this blog sooner. And for the disruption in my normal service as a ward councillor in Lewisham. I'm now trying to catch up on the backlog, and with what's been happening in Lewisham while I've been away. First of all, I see I've got a clash of meetings in the evening of Wednesday 10 January, between the public ...
10:39 am

The awful state of Park Ward

Gravatar After an email to the council on Thursday evening and with the rubbish still out on Saturday, I decided on route to the High Street I would take photographic evidence of the fly-tipping problem I’ve got not only in my ward, but metres from my house. For over 10 weeks now we’ve been using wheelie bins [...]
10:37 am

"Blair's Silence is deafening" - Too right Ming !

Gravatar Tony Blair now stands alone in the Labour Party hierarchy in not saying anything critical about the shambolic and disgraceful way the Iraqi government executed Saddam Hussein. With John Prescott (deputy leader) , Lord Falconer (Labour leader in the Lords) and now Gordon Brown (future leader) calling the way it was carried out "deplorable", Ming Campbell is right to highlight that Tony Blair's silence on this issue is deafening. What concerned by also form the BBC report (linked to above) is that there is a possibility that Tony Blair might be being quiet because of threats made by our sol ...
10:16 am

Spurs are on their way to Cardiff...

Gravatar a very slow and tortuous route. Trains from London to Cardiff all cancelled this morning - our reserved seats not particularly useful. Train to Reading and then a bus to Swindon - an hour to wait here before train to Cardiff. Heigh-ho. It wasn't a good feeling having to get off a train a Reading... reminded me of our league game there where we played like muppets. Hope it wasn't an omen. Plenty of time still anyway and still excited about (hopefully) seeing little Aaron back in action. COME ON YOU SPURS!
8:53 am

More UKIP hypocrisy

Gravatar A second UKIP supporter, after Roger Knapman MEP, to have been found to be employing eastern European workers whilst at the same time complaining about these migrants coming to the UK. Bruce Robertson employs thirty Poles at the Trago Mills shopping centre in Devon, Robertson had previously donated £13,200 to UKIP.
8:19 am

Sledgehammer to crack a nut - Observer on BNP Ballerina

Gravatar My views on Simone Clarke of the ENB/BNP (easy to mix up those abbreviations, isn't it?) have calmed down a little after reading Jasper Gerard's piece, 'Taking the BNP ballerina seriously is just tutu silly', in the Observer today. Mr Gerard has a refreshing way with words and sums up the hoo-ha brilliantly: Ever since we let Hitler treat Belgium (see photo above for helpful graphic of this
7:50 am

After Brown's comments - Blair's silence on Saddam "deafening" - Ming

Gravatar Gordon Brown today condemns the Saddam execution method as "deplorable". John Prescott and Alan Johnson have already condemned it. So why no comment from Tony Blair yet? Ming comments today: The prime minister's continuing silence is deafening. His unwillingness to condemn the shameful scenes surrounding Saddam Hussein's execution does him no credit. At a press conference before Christmas, Blair
7:03 am

Two Sites Worth Looking Looking At Today

Gravatar First of all, Damn Interesting posted an item at the end of last year on "Undark and the Radium Girls". If you don't know the story, it's a shocking reminder how capitalism can do evil: In 1925, three years after Grace's health problems began, a doctor suggested that her jaw problems may have had something to do with her former job at US Radium. As she began to explore the possibility, a
1:04 am

Re-enlisting the Dead

Gravatar The US government reveals how its proposed Iraq "surge" will be met and the Republican Party's close connection to the evangelical right finally pays off - the dead shall rise again.
12:57 am

Michael Vaughan back as England captain

Gravatar The BBC reports: Michael Vaughan has replaced Andrew Flintoff as England captain for the one-day series in Australia.One's natural reaction to this move is pleasure or even relief. But is it such a good idea? First, there is the worry that Vaughan's knee will not stand up to a one-day series against Australia and the subsequent World Cup. And if it goes again, then that will probably be the end of his career. Are we risking this long-term disaster in an attempt to avoid embarrassment over the next couple of months. Second, there is the fact that Vaughan has ...
12:08 am

Names will be named if they abuse this child further

Gravatar I have not named as yet any of the so called professionals behind the attempted abduction of Jach Farrows. If they abuse this child by preventing him from being properly fed ... names will be named. If I have to use Parliamentary Privilege to name these child abusers that work for Trafford Social Services - that will happen. I do know who they are.

Previous days:

Saturday 6th January 2007, Friday 5th January 2007, Thursday 4th January 2007, Wednesday 3rd January 2007, Tuesday 2nd January 2007, Monday 1st January 2007