Monday 8th January 2007

10:55 pm

Chris Huhne...............the one with hair!

Gravatar Now.........anyone who has read my musings on Mr Huhne will know I am not exactly in the fan category. I remember, when canvassing on behalf of Simon Hughes, one woman calling to her husband "There's a woman here asking who you voted for"............I heard the reply "Oh I don't know dear.....the one with hair!" So, the one with hair is coming to Bedford on Saturday and I have been asked if I would like one ticket or two? Well, at the last count there was only one of unless there is a Chris Huhne fan out there desperate to ...
10:26 pm

102 bus: good news

Gravatar Hurrah! Transport for London is finally proposing to extend the 102 bus route by giving it a half-hourly service at night. My Lib Dem colleague Cllr Gail Engert (Muswell Hill, my old ward!) has been campaigning for this - so congrats to Gail. You can read more in the story on my website - including crucially how you can have your say on these plans.
10:13 pm

Seven Deadly Sins Test

Gravatar I've done the test, but I'm not sure if the results are good or not. Shouldn't I score higher for lust or is it good to score low ? Greed:Medium Gluttony:Low Wrath:Very Low Sloth:Medium Envy:Very Low Lust:Low Pride:Very Low You can take the the Seven Deadly Sins Quiz here if you want to give it a go.
9:52 pm

South Africa to get its own George W. Bush?

Gravatar This story about a candidate for the South African presidency somehow reminds me of something. I don't know why. Could it be the fact that a political movement that was once a standard-bearer in the struggle for racial equality has been reduced to tawdry influence-peddling? Nah. Let's start with how Tokyo Sexwale (what an unfortunate name!) made his money. In the diamond mining industry.
9:49 pm

Lembit in love latest

Gravatar A couple of stories from Digital Spy. There's: The Cheeky Girls and their mother/manager are in debt worth around £130,000, according to a report. A list of music industry figures are owed cash by the stars and Margit Semal, who controls their career, says the Mail on Sunday. Graham Stone, of Devon music agency Vegas Entertainments, said: "I've been in the business for 35 years and I've never encountered anything like the trouble I've had with Margit Semal. We've been to court five times and got nowhere."And: Cheeky Girl Gabriela Irimia has been banned from moving in with ...
9:13 pm

Adil Rashid interviewed

Gravatar A comment on our most recent posting on Rashid points to an interview with him on the cricket blog The Corridor of Uncertainty.
9:04 pm

SNP Inflation

Gravatar I enjoyed the inflation between this and this.
8:51 pm

Two Immigrants

Gravatar The world is full of good blogs. Just found one called the Vol Abroad - "The rantings and musings of a Tennessee expat and long term London resident.". Not sure that I would agree much with her politically (someone who includes Harry's Place and Devil's Kitchen in their blogroll is going to be tricky to classify). But she has some nice cat photos. One poignant post made such an impression on
8:17 pm

Day 2196: Commandment Number Nine: Thou shall not bear false witness

Gravatar Friday: The news is full of how the Maniacal Evangelical Christian Union has been BANNED by Exeter Guild of Students. Except: they HAVEN'T been banned. So the Maniacal Evangelical Christian Union have decided that they are going to SUE the Guild of Students (and the university!) because they have been BANNED. Remember: they HAVEN'T been banned. "Their reluctance to reinstate us, has left us with no alternative," said Mr Ben Martin, a member of the Maniacal Evangelical Christian Union committee, speaking on the The Today Programme programme in January 2007. The Maniacal Evangelical Christian Union was reinstated in December ...
8:00 pm

Gordon Brown discovers irony

Gravatar My top tip to the Chancellor (I’m sure he is a reader) - fire your political advisors for this.  Brown is going to win the Labour leadership election and become Prime Minister so he doesn’t need to risk the ridicule that will surely come his way as a result of claiming that he will lead [...]
7:48 pm

The slow death of UKIP England ...

Gravatar They always say you've never really made it as a political party until you've got factions, and I guess UKIP thought they'd had all that with Veritas (who ?). Now the BBC reports that 120 members in Plymouth are set to quit. Read the story HERE. Has UKIP had its day ? What is clear is that when the Tories have "talked up" Europe in the past, it actually has the effect of turning voters off the Tories and on to UKIP. Now that Cameron has taken the sensible decision to avoid discussing the EU, the oxygen of ...
7:37 pm

300 online signatures in one weekend

Gravatar I am even more convinced about online petitions than I was last Friday when I tried out the Lib Dems' new single issue website creator. Having set up a site and online petition against an opencast scheme in my ward on Friday, I sent the link to constituents. This morning I arrived back in the office and opened my inbox to find 300 emails from people who have signed the petition online. Plenty
7:04 pm

A case of mistaken identity

Gravatar I notice that the good people at SELECT Privacy have included me in their blogroll. It’s awfully sweet of them, and - as they are campaigning against New Labour’s expensive, invasive and ineffective ID cards scheme - I will very happily reciprocate. However, I’m still spluttering into my keyboard to see my blog categorised as ‘left-leaning’. The Lib Dem leader may be happy to define himself as
6:58 pm

Colour clash

Gravatar It’s probably not what Trinny and Suzanna would have chosen if they had been arranging the FA Cup fixtures but Canary yellow against Blackpool tangerine gives us at least a fighting chance of getting into the fifth round for the first time since Dion Dublin was in nappies (OK bit of an exageration but as the [...]
6:53 pm

The Blair legacy project - will he walk the talk?

Gravatar At last, a Blair legacy policy in the truest sense… Yesterday’s Times reports that the Prime Minister is planning to offer tax relief to those who wish to leave their homes to their former universities to help create Ivy League-style endowment funds. It’s a sound idea (and one, incidentally, which should long ago have been championed by the Lib Dems if the party is ever to have a higher
6:15 pm

Blessing the Waters

Gravatar The Greek Orthodox church of St George the Martyr in Borough Road attracts hundreds of worshippers each week, and also runs a Greek school for young people. Yesterday was the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus by St John in the River Jordan, which occurs very close to Epiphany, so the two commemorations are often combined. Greek Orthodox churches traditionally celebrate this with a service...
6:12 pm

Calls for Simone Clarke’s Sackings Must Be Resisted

Gravatar Should one’s political affiliation affect your job in the arts? That’s the question which has been repeatedly asked since the Guardian reported that the English National Ballet’s Simone Clarke is a member of the BNP. Calls for her sacking soon followed and now campaign group Unite Against Fascism (UAF) are to demonstrate against her continuing employment later [...]
6:11 pm

New conference chat-up lines

Gravatar The BBC have come up with a new approach for frisky conference representatives (and nervous speakers) Forget learning lines or polishing jokes - having sex may be the best wayto prepare for giving a speech. Professor Brody is reported as saying that "A growing body of research shows that it is specifically intercourse, and not other sexual behaviours, whether alone or with a partner, that is associated with a broad range of psychological and physiological benefits. And greater frequency of intercourse is associated with greater benefits." All sounds perfectly logical to me (but then ...
6:04 pm

Joe Biden runs for President

Gravatar It's now 20 years since Joe Biden's bid for the US Presidency collapsed amongst accusations of plagiarising a speech by Neil Kinnock. It seems bizarre in retrospective that copying a line about "family/generations/first to go to university" or some such like statement from the Welsh Windbag, stymied his chances. He is now back on the Presidential trail and will soon be Senate Foreign Relations
6:03 pm

How to melt chocolate

Gravatar Pink Dog clearly did not go to proper doggy finishing school. She melts chocolate in an OVEN. Everybody knows you need a bain marie. There is a picture and instructions here. And besides, Pink Dog can stick a paw in and taste, without sticking her head in the oven.
5:43 pm

Conflicts of Interest in the Family Division

Gravatar One interesting aspect of Family Law is the role of the Guardian Ad Litem. In theory this is someone who is appointed to represent the interests of the child. The problem is that although the individual concerned works for CAFCASS the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service actually they are in fact another arm of the state. Furthermore firms of solicitors who act for parents on
5:15 pm

More heat than light in organic food debate

Gravatar I wonder whether David Miliband leaked Ruth Kelly’s decision to send her child to a private school as a means of distracting people from the adverse reaction to his interview with the Sunday Times in which he argued that the consumption of organic food was nothing more than a lifestyle choice. If so it would be very “New Labour”, but to be fair I doubt it. He knew exactly what he was doing and will stick by what he said. I have been kicking myself for not writing about this yesterday, when I had the chance. Today I have ...
5:13 pm

More on Metrolink, and tonight's Exec meeting

Gravatar Tonight is a meeting of the Bury Liberal Democrats Executive Committee, where we’ll be talking about plans for the future, and the recent events in the Party locally. The Executive is a great way for the Council Group to connect with the “regular” members, and it’s great for me because I get to boast about our massive membership increase to a whole new bunch of people! Today has been a busy one
5:10 pm

One year on from Kennedy

Gravatar The papers have hardly been best by a  barrage of 'one year on' stories despite today being the day Kennedy resigned. (If you've forgotten what it was like - a trawl through The Sun's archive of the 6th and 7th January last year brings it all back like a bad hangover)Noting this, Tim Hames in The Times muses on what the prospects are for Ming Campbell this year ("There's more to Lib Dems than Lembit's libido") and decides that they aren't as gloomy as some would make out.He says that a leadership challenge would be negative and fail to attract ...
4:53 pm

Bulletproof in Bromley

Gravatar The latest edition of The House Magazine has arrived with me today and has an interview with Bob "3 jobs" Neill, MP for Bromley & Chislehurst, GLA member for Bexley & Bromley and barrister. It includes the statement: "I'm a tough campaigner who grew up in a tough political school and I'm hardly hyper-sensitive, so if I say I think the Lib Dem campaign was significantly below the belt I think
4:45 pm

New year, new council loss for the Tories

Gravatar As if losing four councils in a month before Christmas wasn’t enough, now the Conservatives have lost their majoirty on Erewash Council too. conservatives erewash Opposition watch
4:21 pm

Tabloid Hypocrisy

Gravatar First day back at Westminster after the break.  Former Education Minister Ruth Kelly making all the news for taking her child out of state education and placing him into a specialist private sch...
3:36 pm

Political Tactics in 2007

Gravatar Once again "Lepidus" issues a challenge for this blog to respond to. His basic point is that: "Manchester Withington [was] probably the most extraordinary Lib Dem result of all time. Bigger swings have been achieved, but really only in By-Elections. Tory vote drops by a third, John Leech elected. Take two: Islington South close marginal, Lib Dem vote rises but so does the Tory vote! Result: Emily Thornberry MP. That is is why Withington was won and I(slington)S(outh) not. There are scores of seats up the Country where Labour's machine has atrophied, with decent Tory votes but ...
2:31 pm

X Council v B EWHC (Fam) 2005 2015

Gravatar This case is the linked one about Emergency Protection Orders. The key conclusions are that: ) An EPO, summarily removing a child from his parents, is a "draconian" and "extremely harsh" measure, requiring "exceptional justification" and "extraordinarily compelling reasons". Such an order should not be made unless the FPC is satisfied that it is both necessary and proportionate and that no other less radical form of order will achieve the essential end of promoting the welfare of the child. Separation is only to be contemplated if immediate separation is essential to secure the child's safety; "imminent danger" must be "actually ...
2:25 pm

Emergency Protection Orders - an important judgment

Gravatar The link is to BAILII and a judgement (EWHC (Fam), 2006 510) relating to a case where a 9 year old child was taken into care under an Emergency Protection Order when there was found to be no good reason for this when it came to the final court hearing. In this case the Social Work Team Manager did considerable harm to the girl and the parents by taking her into care when it was wrong to do so. The conclusion of the judgment is: Emergency Protection Orders: good practice guidance For ease of reference I will now ...
2:20 pm

What was bought for £10m and sold for £400m?

Gravatar This, and other questions are answered by this excellent article by Ashley Seager, economics correspondent for the Guardian.
2:18 pm

Milliband was right

Gravatar He was 100% correct. Organic food is a lifestyle choice. Of course the producers and marketers tell you its different, they are promoting a brand and selling goods, why wouldn’t they say its wonderful? But, there are serious problems with organic food. The organic movement is part of a broader, anti-rationalist, anti-progress movement. It denies change and [...]
2:15 pm

Reasons to be cheerful... 1, 2, 3

Gravatar At last, at long last - a balanced and fair comment piece in The Times from Tim Hames that takes a longer-term view of the Lib Dems’ prospects (in sharp contrast to the doom-mongering unsurprisingly favoured by our political opponents, and occasionally given credence by party members of a glass-half-full disposition). His article starts off a tad dodgily - “Sir Menzies took to the airwaves last
1:37 pm

New chapter for Brotton Library

Gravatar Redcar and Cleveland Council has started a new chapter for Brotton Library, opening the doors to its new home in the new Freebrough Specialist Engineering College. The College, which opens tomorrow (Tuesday, January 9) for its first day, incorporates the library as a shared school and community facility, with a separate entrance for public access. The Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism Councillor Dave Fitzpatrick said: “We are confident that the library users will be delighted with their fantastic new library. We hope people will come along and see for themselves what a tremendous improvement it ...
1:31 pm

What Ruth Kelly’s decision tells us

Gravatar I will not join the baying mob calling for Ruth Kelly’s resignation, what she has done in sending her children to the best school possible is what any parent wishes to do. What this tells us however is that we cannot simply keep our eyes closed and mutter the mantra that the state sector is fine [...]
1:27 pm

Conservative lose another Council

Gravatar Towards the end of 2006 the Conservatives lost control of four Councils, now they have lost another! This time it is Erewash Borough.
12:47 pm

The 27 times table

Gravatar The enlargement of The European Union to include Bulgaria and Romania has not quite been the celebration that the previous enlargement to ten other countries was a couple of years ago. Perhaps this is because to some degree this is an enlargement of the also-rans: the countries that could not make enough changes to get entry in 2004. Perhaps too, by every estimation, there is still considerable work for the acceding states to complete, even after entry. Bulgaria and Romania are a third as wealthy as the EU average, which itself is diluted, since the 2004 entries were themselves only ...
12:43 pm

Miliband's "lifestyle choice"

Gravatar David Miliband's announcement that organic food is a "lifestyle choice" reminds me of John Gummer shoving a beefburger in his daughter's mouth in an attempt to say that British beef was safe in 1990. His pronouncement is at best naive. As Matthew Fort says in today's Guardian: Over the years that industry has given us BSE, endemic salmonella in chickens, and foot and mouth. A few years ago the
12:31 pm

Losing sight of the child

Gravatar There is something unseemly about the row that has erupted in the Labour Party over Ruth Kelly’s decision to send her child to a private school. Labour’s commitment to state provision has always made it difficult for Labour ministers to school their children privately. Yet the fact remains that private education can provide better outcomes for children that state schools. This is not always the case: past Labour administrations were crammed full of and led by grammar school boys who had got the best state education by passing their 11+ exams (or their parents paid for the privilege). ...
12:26 pm

Get the Joke?

Gravatar My children like the Cbeebies channel more so my three year old than my six year old (she thinks she is to big for it now). This means I’m well informed when it comes to the inner workings of Tom’s Tractor, Ernie’s Trains or Bob’s Screwdriver. However sometimes I’m baffled by the links between the cartoons [...]
11:27 am

Storms in Gulf of Thailand

Gravatar Well I am sure that this photo will cheer up those of you who were jealous of our trip to Thailand. Apparently the official Thai News Agency warned holidaymakers of waves up to three metres high pounding coastal areas on the Gulf of Thailand. Well they were right. This picture should show blue skies and a totally calm flat sea. The edges of a tropical storm blew through yesterday (I have never seen so much rain) and this is the aftermath I guess. Still at least the temperature is 79F
11:04 am

A little local difficulty

Gravatar As a Government Minister it seems that Ruth Kelly has a problem with Labour Party principles. First, it was her religious beliefs and alleged membership of Opus Dei that put her at odds with some of the equalities agenda she is now charged with delivering. Now, it appears that her natural concern for her child's education has led her to join other colleagues in abandoning the state education sector and using a £15,000 a year fee-paying school instead. Those more uncharitable than myself might suggest that a former Education Secretary giving up on the state education sector for her ...
10:45 am

Don't watch Apocalypto if you want to find out about the Mayan civilisation or its end

Gravatar I went to see Apocalypto last night with my friend Caroline, I have to say I was very disappointed. I had been led to believe it was about the Mayan civilisation and also some kind of speculative reason as to why it ended. It was actually a chase movie - a good chase movie but not what I thought I was going to see.
10:41 am

Starting my new job

Gravatar Happy New(ish) Year to all! Today is back to Parliament day - and I apologise for not blogging much last week but given my days were taken with paperwork and emails I spared blog readers the blow by blow account of all that! But now - it's off with a whooshhhhhhhhh to 2007 and a whole new portfolio as the Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for International Development. I have been
10:35 am

Skippy has a blog

Gravatar As people will tell from the change in his link on the right Ed "Skippy" Maxfield has set up a blog. Ed was Lib Dem Hants and Wight Campaigns Officer until recently and was my best man last year... "What's that skip" "click, click, click" "Ah, 11 Norwich players have been stuck down that mine shaft for a month and nobody has noticed" "click, click, click" "OK, I'll just have another tube of
10:24 am

free publicity for bbc

Gravatar A contact at the BBC informed me that they could not believe how much free publicity they got in the local and regional press about the BBC3 programme, "Baby Borrowers" which starts tonight becuase of 8 Norfolk MPs complaining about it without having watched it!
9:42 am

Chip & Pin hacking

Gravatar Richard Allan (whose blog, coincidentally, was one of the reasons I first thought about joining the LibDems) posts about the Cambridge University’s Computer Lab Security Group and their blog Light Blue Touchpaper. This is an excellent blog, not least because by nature security researchers tend to be liberals of varying degrees (probably due to a healthy [...]
9:14 am

‘Tried in His Absence’

Gravatar So, at last Mr Blair has been forced into condemning Saddam Hussein’s execution, noticing the biggest news story in the world last week after everyone else in the world*. Thinking about that execution, the thing that most shocks me about it still seems to have had little airtime. While there’s been endless argument about the way it happened or whether it should have happened at all, what really appalled me was when it happened. That’s not as arcane as it sounds, and nothing to do with the festive season. It’s to do with the obscene farce of his ‘continuing’ trial. ...
8:40 am

New in links

Gravatar Liberal Reviews links section (on the home page) points liberals and lib dems in the direction of articles likely to interest them.
8:24 am

Day 2195: Get a Grip, Sir Mr the Merciless!

Gravatar Thursday: Is January REALLY the best time for questions of leadership? Apparently, the week after Christmas sees a SURGE in people looking to get a DIVORCE and I suspect that there are the same reasons behind these things. The year is all cold and dark, there are no more presents to look forward to and everyone is suffering from the Christmas hangover (even if they AREN’T Mr Charles!). No wonder we start to hear wailing voices saying that we’re all going down with the TITANIC! Well, we AREN’T on the Titanic. Unfortunately, we are more like a DINGY and ...
8:12 am

The Al Qaeda franchise

Gravatar It is a commonplace these days to talk of Al Qaeda as a “franchise”. Osama Bin Laden’s organisation was broken up by the invasion of Afghanistan. While many of its leaders are still at large, and it still has money and committed adherents, its main role is now as a rallying cry and inspiration for jihadist groups across the world. Where in the 1990s it planned, funded and launched specific attacks, it is now more of a “brand” that other Islamist groups use to promote and justify their own acts of terrorism. While there is undoubtedly truth in this, ...
8:08 am

More Big Bother?

Gravatar A fascinating comment about Celebrity Big Brother appeared on an old post on this blog yesterday. It was from an Al Shabaz: Jermaine has caused national controversy by openly praying his obligatory five time prayers live on national TV. However Channel Four the Broadcaster has censored any footage of the Former Jackson Five practicing his faith. Outraged muslims have begun to complain on grounds of fair representation as Shilpa Shetty was broadcast practicing Yoga, they are demanding an explanation from Channel four as to why Jermaine praying has been censored. Complaints to Ofcom the body that adjudicates media complaints ...
7:58 am

Escape to, and from, Fort Aguada

Gravatar Welcome to Fort Aguada, started by the Portuguese in 1612, and never actually taken despite the various attacks on the place by all and sundry in the period that followed. Today, it holds a rather nice five-star resort, and you can still view large amounts of the original fortifications. In the bay overlooked by the fort is a rather large oil tanker, the River Princess, which ran aground just
7:31 am

Ruth Kelly - Hypocrite or good mother ?

Gravatar Ruth Kelly is, according ot one national newspaper today, sending her child to a private school. As a former education secretary responsible for the quality of schooling across the UK, does that make her a hypocrite of a good mother ? My view is that if she was proud of what Labour had done for schools and what she had done for schools, then there is no need for her kids to got to private schools. I guess though that for those who are not religious or rich, they will never have to make that choice. Lucky old ...
6:39 am

Iain Dale - Crikey!

Gravatar I wanted to do a posting on Iain Dale for reasons outlined here.
6:21 am

Gordon Brown - what a shambles!

Gravatar When John Major became Prime Minister, I wrote to Norma Major with a helpful diagram, asking her to make sure her husband straightened his tie before appearing in public. As someone who always had it drummed into me to straighten my tie, it annoyed me that the UK Prime Minister used to appear with a skew-whiff tie. After a few months of skew-whiffery, Major sorted himself out and seemed to get
1:18 am

Gotta admire the production values

Gravatar Must talk to Pink Dog and find out how this was done.  Looks like it took hours and much attention to detail! (No, not the cooking, the titles etc in the video.  Simple, but effective)
12:50 am

Saddam and capital punishment

Gravatar And the third issue, Ive already ranted about here.
12:47 am

EU expansion

Gravatar The second issue that I wanted to rant about was reaction to the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the EU.  I was especially disappointed by the official Lib Dem reaction to the Government decision to impose restrictions on working rights on citizens of the new EU states.  As I said in a letter to [...]
12:38 am

What’s the point of Trident?

Gravatar There are three topical issues in particular that drove me to the blogosphere.  The first is Trident.  What a shame that the Lib Dem leadership did not take a more radical stance on this.  Naive I may be but I was genuinely surprised to find that the Party Line was not simply to not bother [...]

Previous days:

Sunday 7th January 2007, Saturday 6th January 2007, Friday 5th January 2007, Thursday 4th January 2007, Wednesday 3rd January 2007, Tuesday 2nd January 2007