Wednesday 10th January 2007

11:35 pm

Home Office ministers on thin ice

Gravatar The Times reports: Two Home Office Ministers were fighting for their careers tonight after it emerged that senior police had alerted them to problems over Britons convicted abroad. Chief constables wrote to Tony McNulty, the Police Minister, three months ago and the letter was then passed to Joan Ryan, a junior minister. The letter advised Mr McNulty that given earlier problems over foreign national prisoners it might be wise for the Home Secretary to be briefed on the issue. Ms Ryan’s office acknowledged the letter in December, according to a report on ITV news.
11:12 pm

Peddie Street, Riverside Drive

Gravatar Pleased to say news today that: * Dundee Contract Services has been given an Order to clean off the huge (green and pink) graffiti on the pavilion building on Riverside Drive. * Assurance that a tree in Peddie Street area causing overshadowing into residents' windows will be trimmed. Spent part of the morning with colleagues delivering notices about next week's meeting about Magdalen Green to local residents; later on in Edinburgh at LibDem Campaigns and Candidates Committee. Long day, tired, off to bed!
11:03 pm

Fear and loathing in Cowley Street?

Gravatar Iain Dale prints an anonymous e-mail from a Lib Dem party expressing concern at the way the party is being run. LibDem Voice and Norfolk Blogger do not approve of the writer's decision to send it to a Tory blog.
10:29 pm

Bullying accusation made against Lib Dem senior managers

Gravatar Iain Dale’s diary has an anonymous letter from a clearly disappointed Lib Dem. Whatever you make of the claim (personally I’d say that in my days on the party staff I encountered some very strong personalities, and determined people, but not bullying) I do think this is time for people who are indulging in the explosion [...]
9:43 pm

Free Confidential Debt Advice

Gravatar People struggling with debt in Birmingham can get into contact with the Council’s Debt Advice Service. A team of 20 Debt Advice Counsellors across Birmingham provide free confidential advice to help people develop realistic repayment programmes and move forward in solving their financial problems. Services offered by the team include:helping people to prepare Income and Expenditure statements;
9:17 pm

Unfortunate Words

Gravatar The Guardian reports that Robin Cook's gravestone has been engraved with the following words from his memoirs: "I may not have succeeded in halting the war. But I did secure the right of Parliament to decide on war." Except he didn't of course. The right to wage war* still falls (unfortunately) under the royal prerogative, that most ridiculous of hangovers from mediæval times**. As a shameless
9:01 pm

Who airs their dirty washing on Iain Dale's blog ?

Gravatar This isn't a diatribe against Iain Dale. He runs a great blog, the only problem is that it is biased heavily against the Liberal Democrats and obviously pro Tory. So the question has to be, irrespective of the merits of the argument, who would use a Tory blog, an opponent of the Lib Dems, to air their problems and dirty washing ? Read the article HERE, which to Iain's credit he prints largely without comment. I just wonder would someone who is worried about the Lib Dems really go to Iain Dale with the story ? The ...
8:16 pm

Voodoo Astronomy

Gravatar Full credit for the Daily Mail for making a scientific issue it's main story today : "CLONE FARMING HAS ARRIVED" Well, I'm sure we can trust the Mail to take an authoritative, rational view of scientific matters. Oh, and they devote three whole pages today to a newly discovered comet. "The latest heavenly herald is called Comet McNaught, after the Australian who first spotted it a few months
8:09 pm

First red wine, now a curry !

Gravatar Fabulous news for all Curry eaters (and eaters of anything that has a lot of spicy chillies in it). Scientists have discovered that chillies can destroy cancer cells. Read more about it HERE. First it was one glass of red win, then later two, that was supposed to be good for you. Now it is chillies. All we need is for scientists to discover that doughnuts and lager is good for you and I'll give up going to the gym !
7:50 pm

Black bag update

Gravatar A follow-up to the post on Sunday regarding the black bags in Park Ward which are still on the streets. I’ve got an email from the officers informing me that they should be disposed of tomorrow. Subject: RE: FW: Fly Tipping/Posting: 03224017 In an effort to look through all of these bags they were left in the [...]
7:36 pm

Old 'has been' says "Look at me, somebody, please, look at me"

Gravatar Last Autumn Charles Clarke (remember him - Yes, he was a minister, lost his job after some incompetence) launched an attack on Gordon Brown, the apologised after getting some interviews, some newspaper headlines and a good deal more than fifteen minutes of fame. Now, not having been in the news in any substantial way (I certainly don't see much of him in the Norwich Press where he is MP - at least until the next election), he has now launched an attack on Tony Blair. His article in The New Statesman criticises Mr Blair for his foreign policy failings and ...
7:20 pm

On the road to Soviet Justice once again.

Gravatar So Tenants Groups and ALMOs are to have ASBO issuing powers. Once more the ‘Peoples Courts’ of the USSR come to mind. I had my say about them when Blair was ranting back in 2005 about ‘fighting 21st-Century crime with 19th-Century methods'. I haven’t changed my views. Too many people sufered under the Blair-Style Soviet 'Justice' justice system for me to be easy about seeing it imposed here in the UK.
7:19 pm

Kashmir frenzy

Gravatar Wednesday 10th January 2007 - A frenzied start to the day completing amendments that have to be submitted by midday to the Foreign Affairs committee's Kashmir report. I am pleased to have got support for the amendments I wish to table from many of my colleagues including Liz Lynne, Sharon Bowles, Sarah Ludford, Bill Newton Dunn and Fiona Hall. ALDE colleagues Johan van Hecke and Annemie
7:17 pm

John Reid - Some sympathy

Gravatar I've read the ongoing saga of catastrophes at the Home Office, and perhaps surpisingly given my own political leanings and John Reid's policy views, I have some sympathy for him. Yes, it is clear his department have cocked up again. And the news this evening seems to imply that this cock up may have been compounded by a Junior Minister who may, it appears, have failed to advise him of the problems with British nationals not having their crimes abroad registered on the police computer. However, at least, for once, we have a Home Secretary who admits that ...
6:53 pm

Discarding my hair-shirt

Gravatar The problem (and joy) of being a liberal is the duty to consider issues in 360 degrees. So I have some sympathy with Mr Blair’s comments, when the question was put to him that the government should encourage people to take holidays closer to home: I personally think these things are a bit impractical, actually to expect people to do that. You know, I'm still waiting for the first politician
6:43 pm

How to Really Do Biased News

Gravatar Fox News "discusses"* Kofi Annan's legacy: Via Out From Under. * Read "three people with the same view sitting around a table agreeing with each other".
6:32 pm

Low carbon emitting 4x4s - manufacturers changing

Gravatar After some recent correspondence in the Liberal Democrat News, I have been contacted with some interesting snippets of information about low carbon emitting 4x4 vehicles. I highlighted the VW Touran 1.9TDI S, which has 162 g/km emissions. This would put it in Band D of our proposals (range: 151-165), attracting only an extra £25. It comes with up to seven seats. Now I have been made aware of
6:31 pm

Whatever happened to Tammy Duckworth?

Gravatar One of the saddest things about the November US Congressional elections was that Tammy Duckworth wasn't elected. I read somewhere that the Democrats spent more on trying to get her elected than any other candidate in the whole US. I am pleased to say that Tammy Duckworth has now been appointed Illinois state's director of Veteran affairs. reports: Tammy Duckworth refers
6:26 pm

I have Windows Vista at work!

Gravatar Woohoo! It is sex in an Operating System. No Tags
6:23 pm

Continued concerns for Fiji

Gravatar News coverage in the UK about Fiji has gone quiet. However, the military rule continues. New Zealand Radio reports today that the Council of Chiefs have finally thrown their weight behind the interim government, after weeks of refusing to bow to the blessed Commodore. After initially condemning the coup, Mahendra Chaudhry (former prime minister deposed by the last but one coup - do try to keep
6:23 pm

New Life for Old Economies? The end of the Dismal Science tag?

Gravatar While browsing around for more books to back up my Explorations in Economics, I found this one edited by Diana Coyle: “New Wealth for Old Nations: Scotland’s Economic Prospects” Princeton UP, Published March 2005. This looks like an useful resource for anyone trying to develop a realistic policy for dynemic economic development in a 'regional' or 'small nation' Political framework within an increasingly integrated Europe. I’d welcome comments from Scots or Welsh people knowledgeable about this book- is it of practical relevance with the Scottish and Welsh National Elections upcoming? Diana Coyle is the author of ...
5:26 pm

A message from Sir Ming

Gravatar What were your New Year's resolutions?
5:23 pm

Ming's New Year resolutions

Gravatar What were your New Year’s resolutions? I’m probably one of the few people who hasn’t resolved to take more exercise! But the New Year isn’t just about going to the gym more. After spending so much time and money on presents and celebrations at Christmas, I know many people decide the New Year is time to look [...]
5:04 pm

Labour’s new gimmick: an education lottery that has nothing to do with one’s postcode

Gravatar This lunchtime BBC London reported the latest idiotic wheeze planned for education. Apparently, the government is to do away with the “postcode lottery” (a misnomer for what is in fact a postcode auction) by replacing it with a real lottery! Schools will be encouraged to offer places not based on local catchment areas but on a simply lottery basis: parents put down the name of their children and names are randomly selected. There is no doubt that the current system is unfair. A friend of mine in Muswell Hill once pointed to a street where the houses on ...
5:02 pm

New Year Resolutions

Gravatar What were your New Year’s resolutions? I’m probably one of the few people who hasn’t resolved to take more exercise! But the New Year isn’t just about going to the gym more. After spending so much time and money on presents and celebrations at Christmas, I know many people decide the New Year is time to look [...]
4:59 pm

Is it Spring?

Gravatar I saw a bee yesterday while walking my daughter to school. It was sniffing around a flower along the side of the road. Now this isn’t an unusual site, you see bees and wasps in Jersey all the time. At least it wouldn’t be unusual if it were April or May but we’re still in [...]
4:39 pm

The Great Education Debate

Gravatar The two Simons, Heffer and Jenkins, comment on State and Private education. We recommend an alternative viewpoint from Cicero.
4:30 pm

Guantanamo Bay Vigil and Anniversary Party

Gravatar On Tuesday Ed Davey used a Parliamentary debate to highlight the case of a constituent of his who is being detained in Guantanamo Bay. There is a vigil for British residents in Guantanamo Bay tonight in London and a Birthday Party in Birmingham tomorrow.
3:52 pm

Save Our Post Offices

Gravatar I launched a petition this week calling on the Government to act to save Post Office branches from closure. The petition is in response to the announcement by the Government in December that they are ...
3:36 pm

Horse racing at Alexandra Palace

Gravatar Do you remember it? I don't.
2:58 pm

Briefed by Oxfam

Gravatar Yesterday was my first Shadow Cabinet meeting, but the main event of the day was going to Oxford for a three hour briefing at Oxfam Headquarters. They are really huge these days and I guess that is reflected in the extension of what they do from where they started when first founded to a now much wider brief. So - I was briefed on situations in Sudan, Middle East, Asia and the rest; on arms treaties and trade; on climate change and development and so on and so on. It was tremendously interesting and useful - as the NGOs are ...
2:58 pm


Gravatar Prime Minister Questions were not very inspiring today - tired old Prime Minister. Where's his sparkle gone? Mind you Cameron lost the plot. He went on the mess in the Home Office - but failed to hit home trying too hard to turn it around to the Conservative policy (one of the rarest commodities in politics) which is to have a Minster of Homeland Security. So he tried to turn a complete balls up by John Reid and the Home Office into a reason for a terrorism minister. Didn't fly at all. Ming went on Iraq and pushed Blair to ...
2:55 pm

Good Luck Chairboys!

Gravatar Wycombe Wanderers take on the might of Chelsea tonight in the first leg of the Carling Cup Semi-Final. This is the biggest game in their history since….. well the last major semi final in 2001! It is truely amazing that in this football age when money talks, a club the size of Wycombe can reach [...]
2:45 pm

Council budget's big investment

Gravatar Redcar and Cleveland Council is ready to invest £6million on more and better services for the elderly, children and the environment - and keep its Council Tax rise down to a cost of living increase. The Council's Cabinet also believes its 2007/2008 budget will deliver a seven per cent productivity improvement, as well as being able to limit the Council Tax rise to 51p a week for Band A properties, which accounts for over a third of the Borough's 61,000 properties. Nearly £2million is earmarked to invest in care for elderly people and those with learning disabilities as ...
2:43 pm

Today's real education stories

Gravatar Forget about where Ruth Kelly sends her children; after several days of front pages from The Mirror to The Telegraph only Alice Miles in The Times feels the need to say more today (She thinks Ms Kelly should resign).However, Alan Johnson has been creating waves that, though they have received much less attention, will have far greater effect on England's schools.  Yesterday he was suggesting further modifications to the testing regimes (see The Guardian) But its his proposals on school catchment areas that are likely to win (simultaneously) the biggest cheers and most ire from parents:"New [English schools] admissions rules, ...
2:03 pm

Touchy-feely peers in Cameron's friendly new Tory party fail to back gay rights

Gravatar In last night’s vote on the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland), 41 Tory Peers, including 10 front-bench spokespeople, voted against the key legislation. No Liberal Democrat Peers voted against the Act. Lorely Burt has put out a press release in which she says: “David Cameron calls himself a liberal conservative, but his colleagues in the [...]
2:00 pm

Up North

Gravatar Tonight I am heading up North, following in the footsteps of many famous explorers and braving the wilds of… Tottington. Just call me “Sherpa Rick” from now on. It’s a meeting about our campaign in Bury North in May, as well as the future plans for the Wards in that constituency. It will hopefully give us the chance to meet some of the many new members we’ve acquired there recently as well. And
1:47 pm

Lunch for honours

Gravatar Today's Guardian reports that the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, has launched a full-scale inquiry into the "dinners for cash" scandal involving 19 Conservative MPs and peers, including the party leader, David Cameron: The decision, relayed to a private meeting of MPs on the standards and privileges committee yesterday, caused fresh embarrassment for two Conservatives on the committee. Sir George Young, the chairman, had to declare an interest that he had organised dinners. Nicholas Soames, the former defence minister and MP for Mid Sussex, also had to declare an interest over a patrons' club which used the Commons. Both will not ...
1:15 pm

More on Community Politics and getting our message across

Gravatar A few thoughts are coming together more coherently since yesterday’s post. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, and I’m sure I’ll have more to say, especially after I get round to reading Community Politics Today. Firstly, I cannot stress enough what a good tool Community Politics can be, it has enabled [...]
1:12 pm

More on bovine methane emissions

Gravatar This is from the Edinburgh Evening News. Sad to see how these serious points degenerate into such knockabout stuff. I have included the whole section but the first point is an interesting example of unintended consquences: Giving the politicians something new to chew on YOU could say it's a prize example of "the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley". The national body for pest controllers commissioned an investigation and discovered that what they describe as the local authority "mania for recycling" - the increase in composting bins, the reduction of rubbish collections and the ...
12:47 pm

Don't be so cheeky Lembit!

Gravatar I had resisted commenting on Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik's relationship with Gabi from the Cheeky Girls but no longer. Lembit has just asked a Question at Prime Minister's Question Time and started by asking the Speaker if he could be 'so cheeky'. Really Lembit it is not big and not clever and certainly not funny.
12:34 pm

Watch my new film

Gravatar I've just been filmed - it's a short piece about becoming the Lib Dem Shadow Secretary of State for International Development:
12:30 pm

Writing a Focus leaflet in the next couple of weeks? The Electoral Commission need you

Gravatar The Electoral Commission are in for a bit of a bumpy ride in the next couple of weeks, as a report from the committee on standards in public life is due, and is (according to its chairman) going to recommend quite a shake-up. Before that though, the Commission is advising people who are planning to vote by post or proxy [...]
12:22 pm

Written Parliamentary Questions: 10th January 2007

Gravatar Dr. David SouthallTo ask the Secretary of State for Health what investigations have taken place in the NHS into the research practices of Dr. David Southall.(John Hemming) A:The Government commissioned a full review of the research arrangements at North Staffordshire hospital in 1999, in response to concerns about how research had been conducted there by Dr. David Southall, among others. The
12:12 pm

Clamp down on Thaksin Shinawatra

Gravatar The government of Thailand has acted to clamp down on the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The government has revoked the diplomatic passports of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife Potjaman. I guess this was not too unexpected and had indeed been mooted some time ago. The government has also issued a statement ordering Thai embassies and consulates abroad to stop welcoming Mr Thaksin. Perhaps more seriously for the cause of democracy in Thailand the government has now forbidden the media in Thailand from reporting the comments of Thaksin Shinawatra or his ...
11:59 am

Stapleton Avenue and West Speke -asb

Gravatar In touch with the police at Speke today over their plans for another Section 30 zone. They have put together an application which covers the Stapleton Avenue part (stapleton avenue is off western avenue) and also covers part of West Speke including the Crescent and the area by the church. I am supporting the application. Some time ago the police talked to me about various problems in this patch. To help them out I did a survey of residents on one issue in Stapleton - which itself brought in lots of other comments. This survey ...
11:57 am

A short Council meeting

Gravatar Yesterday evening I chaired a meeting of Full Council, and it must have been one of the shortest ever - it lasted just over an hour. The next one on Feb 28th will be much longer because we will be setting the Budget and Council Tax. Yesterday I met Kingston's new Member of the UK Youth Parliament at a reception in the Mayor's Parlour before the meeting. I covered Paul Kenny's election...
11:57 am

Thai company law and the hitchikers guide to the galaxy

Gravatar I don't know whether those who are responsible for drafting Thailands Foreign Business Law are aware of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy but if this article in this mornings edition of The Nation is anything to go by they might want to take a look. The bit that caught my eye read as follows : The Foreign Business Law covers three lists of business sectors - deemed critical to national security - subject to the degree of protection. The most protective category is Annex 1, followed by Annex 2 and Annex 3. Industries listed in Annex 1 include ...
11:56 am

If I appear to be dancing....

Gravatar Pursuing one of my New Years Resolutions.. went to a beginners ballroom and latin dancing class this week. Its at the Topaz Dance Centre, which is just off St Mary's Road in Garston. We did a move called the Titanic.. mainly because you are supposed to end up with your arms stretched ou tlike the woman in the film. This dancing lark though.. not as easy as it looks!
11:43 am

Educashun Educashon Education

Gravatar I am not going to get at Ruth Kelly- her own side will do that for her. For me it just underlines the tangled web that Labour have created for themselves when talking about Education. It strikes me that we should now start thinking more Liberally about education- and that means from the consumer interest and not just the producer, which has been something that we have done too much of in the past. In recent months there has been a renewed interest and debate about selection at secondary level. Personally I am not in favour of the abolition ...
11:23 am

Nothing's right, he's torn

Gravatar Guido reports on Liam “poverty bores me” Fox’s latest pointless outburst, a demand that our allies in Eastern Europe be booted of NATO as their defence spending levels are insufficient. In other news, he seems eager to take us a step closer to bombing the shit out of Iran. What a prize tosser the man is.
10:46 am

Flying Long-Haul

Gravatar The tree and the Christmas cards are recyled. All edible festive treats have been despatched (with the exception of a tantalising piece of Christmas pudding which screams 'eat me' everytime ...
10:20 am

What happened there then?

Gravatar The keen eyed among you will have noticed that Lib Dem Voice took a slight holiday last night, courtesy of our web provider.  Apologies for that! So, let’s get back in to the swing of things: Defection-o-rama continues, with a “senior Labour councillor” in Essex seeing the yellow light*. Liberal Review have picked up on an update [...]
9:22 am

Have I earned Brian Micklethwait's “particular ire”?

Gravatar I don't know what I said in response to Brian Micklethwait’s condemnation of the unpredictable and inconsistent Liberal Democrats (though if you want to know what I said you can read it on his site or on mine), but whatever it was it has prompted him to reply: All parties are coalitions, but some more than others. I stand by my prejudice about the Lib Dems being more coalition and less coherence than the other two. If all we knew about someone was that he was Labour, or Conservative, or Lib Dem, and nothing else, we all make ...
8:00 am

Rest in Peace Marjorie Brown

Gravatar Today will see the funeral of Mrs. Marjorie Brown is, she sadly passed away on Boxing Day. Marj was a stalwart of Hereford Liberal Democrats, my thoughts are of her today.
7:47 am

Tories get bad news on the "cash for dinners" story.

Gravatar The Tories must have hoped this story was going away. But it is back.
7:16 am

Day 2198: DOCTOR WHO: Blood of the Daleks

Gravatar Sunday: This is the story of two groups of horrible squiggly mutants who get into a war to the death with each other because the traditionalist nutters want to preserve the PURITY of their breed, while the "new" model maniacs insist that only they are the way of the FUTURE. Obviously they cannot stand the sight of each other. No, do not worry! It is NOT about Mr Frown and nice Mr Dr Reid. It is only the DALEKS and they are much less scary! We've had the Christmas Special, but the next season of Doctor Who on ...
7:07 am

24 - Day 6 available to download?

Gravatar Rumours on the internet are saying that the first 4 episodes of 24 have been leaked from a preview DVD. In America it starts on Fox this weekend, whilst those in the UK only have to wait towards the end of the month for it on SkyOne. Whilst it may be good news for fans [...]
7:04 am

Another Social Services Mess-up

Gravatar The linked story is to another problem with Social Services. This one is in Norfolk where it was found that: Social workers were criticised for treating rumours about the woman, who had a mental health disorder, as fact. 'Insufficient evidence' The council said the inquiry into the case also found that some evidence had been destroyed. It called a social worker's report "inaccurate,
6:43 am

Rested and raring to go!

Gravatar Tuesday 9th January 2007 - And a happy new year to our readers! I am back in Brussels today after an extremely enjoyable break with my family and like many of you I am sure feeling recharged and raring to get back to business. It was good to be able to spend some quality time with my family during the break although I did attend a few local events, including an excellent fundraising dinner for
12:45 am

Jagermeister and Red Bull - £6.75 a pitcher

Gravatar Lloyds No 1 Bar are advertising Jagermeister and Red Bull for £6.75 a pitcher. So you take strong alcohol and mix it with Caffeine - there can only be one reason for this drink - for young people to get hammered. No wonder police have had to issue warnings to the Bexleyheath Lloyd's No1 after a string of incidents - including an under aged girl getting glassed. The local Police Chief Inspector

Previous days:

Tuesday 9th January 2007, Monday 8th January 2007, Sunday 7th January 2007, Saturday 6th January 2007, Friday 5th January 2007, Thursday 4th January 2007