Thursday 11th January 2007

11:06 pm

On blogging

Gravatar Yet another article on political blogging from those rising stars of the Cardiff School of Journalism. This time from Anya Pope.
10:55 pm

Creationism - an Inconvenient Myth

Gravatar News from Washington State (via RCP) that a school district has ruled that Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" is too controversial to be shown to school children following complaints from a parent. Surprisingly this isn't the work of those dastardly climate change deniers at Enron or other raving Neo-Cons, but the latest example of the political power of creationists over the other side of the
10:51 pm

Planning Applications

Gravatar Ward: Combe Down App Ref: 07/00029/LBA Parish: Registered: ...
10:25 pm

Riverside Youth Centre Refurbishment

Gravatar £130,000 has been ploughed into improvements at the Riverside Community Centre on the London Road. The centre which is based behind the Porter Butt next to the river Avon, was a couple of years ago under threat of being closed down after an unfortunately unsuccessful bid to turn it into a Healthy Living Centre. However this did not stop Councillor David Dixon (left in picture) and local residents enthusiam for keeping this centre alive. The Riverside Community Association was set up under the Chairmanship of Cllr Dixon with an aim to keep the valuable facility at Riverside. Last ...
10:12 pm

We would introduce fair funding for schools - three-year budgets

Gravatar     We would introduce fair funding for schools – three-year budgets WelshLiberal Democrat candidate for North Wales Tudor Jones said:   “As apriority we will introduce three-year budgets for schools, ensuring thateducation is funded on a fair and stable basis.   “Functioningon a year-to year basis, as they do now, means that schools have greatdifficulty in planning for the future. This has a knock-on effect for classsizes, teacher employment and building maintenance.   “Threeyear budgets will allow better forward planning, creating a better learningenvironment for our children through smaller class sizes and improved schoolbuildings.   “Inaddition we ...
10:09 pm

We would fund an extra 500 PCSOs for Wales

Gravatar    Pick of the Day  Dewis y Dydd 10 Contact/Cyswllt: Dewi Knight - 07919 915868 Embargo: 00:01 January 12, 2007 We would fundan extra 500 PCSOs for Wales   "TheWelsh Lib Dems will make sure that funding is available for communities across Walesto request up to 500 extra community support officers.   "PCSOs(Police Community Support Officers) do a great job at the heart of ourcommunities. They offer a visible presence in ensuring community safety andhelping the police in preventing and tackling crime. That's why over thecourse of the next Assembly we will make sure the ...
10:03 pm

Day 2199: 95% of the Universe is made of Chocolate!

Gravatar What other sort of Dark Matter is there?!?!? Monday: One thing I did NOT know was that enormous chunks of the universe are, like Mr Balloon's policies, MISSING! There is an EXTRA sort of matter in there that was not interacting with the stuff that we are used to – that is to say that it isn't GLOWING and it isn't REFLECTING, which means we cannot SEE it. But we CAN guess that it is there from the way that other objects move around it. Think of the way that MONEY pours into Lord Blairimort's back pocket – ...
9:59 pm

Vote 4 a Unitary

Gravatar There is now a lot of publicity about the Unitary ballot and not all of it helpful. Many people are angry about the short consultation period and the general lack of unbiased information. I am very angry about the way the ballot has been handled and the distorted view that has been presented to the public. Vote in [...]
9:52 pm

Ruth Kelly revisited

Gravatar For once Lowri Turner talks commonsense albeit in her own inimitable style: My six-year-old son is dyslexic. He is in a class of 30 at his local state primary with one full-time teacher and a teaching assistant. When his father and I attended a meeting with his headmistress to discuss what help was available we were offered two 15-minute "catch-up" sessions of one-to-one reading a week. When I, slightly flabbergasted, asked if the local authority didn't provide anything else, the head said no and then added, "But fortunately you have the resources". Kelly says, "I, like any ...
9:10 pm

US attacks Iraq's fledgling democracy - Hypocrites ?

Gravatar George Bush said last night that 22,000 more US soldiers had to go to Iraq to support "Iraq's fledgling democracy". However, today Condoleezza Rice says Iraq's democratically elected Prime Minister is living on "borrowed time". Read about it HERE. Forgive me if I'm being a bit dom here, but is making threats against a democratically elected leader supporting democracy ? Surely it wouldn't be a case of the USA saying one thing, but hypocritically doing the other ? And then of course, our government gives the US their full support. Always judge a person by the friends they ...
8:43 pm

How many web designers must the government employ ?

Gravatar The government has today announced that 551 largely defunct government websites are to be scrapped. A list of them shows just how obsessed the government has/had become with new website initiatives, but bags the question "How many web designers are employed by the government ?" Anyone MP's who want to ask this as a written question ?
8:39 pm

A Dark Day for our City

Gravatar Got positive feedback today regarding flooding issues at Magdalen Green and intend meeting with Leisure & Communities staff next week on-site to see the detail of action taken and proposed to resolve matters. Additionally got feedback in relation to an unrelated flooding issue in part of Nethergate. Today has been dominated by the devastating news of 650 job losses announced at NCR in the city. I am not the only politician in Dundee not just seriously concerned but really angry at the way a highly skilled workforce has been treated. ...
7:36 pm

North Wiltshire Tories go to war

Gravatar Extraordinary goings on in a part of the world where Liberals have traditionally come second but never won. As the Daily Telegraph reports it this afternoon: A Conservative MP, who is fighting for his political life after his affair with a married mother of three was exposed, has written to supporters urging them to look past his “human failings” and judge him on his role as an MP. The news comes as 1,000 members of the North Wiltshire Conservative Association start to vote today to decide whether to adopt James Gray as their MP at the next general election. Mr ...
7:33 pm

A SORs point

Gravatar I have been reserving final judgement on the Sexual Orientation Regulations until I could at least find a copy of them. With the level of media hype and the strength of feeling on both sides of the argument, I could not be sure that I had been given an accurate picture of the Regulations. I have become exasperated and will make do with the Northern Ireland version. (Surely there is something wrong when, in this information society, a Law student can't access legislation making headline news three days after it was passed). What has not been ...
6:05 pm

BBC Governors Hutton minutes

Gravatar I’m not going to make any comments on the minutes released after a freedom of information request by the Guardian newspaper but I do want to post a link to them. The FOA request called for the BBC Board of Governors to release the minutes from January 2004 relating specifically to the resignation of Greg Dyke [...]
6:03 pm

Cllr David Dixon Plans to Run Bath Half!

Gravatar Cllr David Dixon and the team at Minuteman Press will be running in the Bath Half Marathon this year. David is looking to raise funds for the RUH Forever Friends appeal while his work colleagues in his day job at Minuteman Press on Walcot Street will be fund raising for Breast Cancer Research. He says, "I thought it would be good to run the Bath Half not only to help get in shape for my wedding in July, but also to help raise money for such a local worthwhile cause. I am sure that it will be very challenging, but ...
5:50 pm

Working ’till I die

Gravatar There is a lot of talk about pensions in Jersey at the moment. Mainly because from later this year there will be no companies offering a private pension product (Norwich Union is currently the only one and they’re pulling out). There are calls for the States to introduce an optional state pension top up service, giving [...]
5:50 pm

Pardon his French

Gravatar My Headington ward colleague and fellow (if, ahem, occasional) blogger, David Rundle, is well-known locally for his love of arcane argot, the bon mots and mots justes. In fact, he’ll do pretty much anything to avoid the lingua franca. Chacun à son gout, I guess. So it’s a bit of a shock to see him taken to task in the Oxford Mail for lapsing into, erm, earthier language at a Council meeting. The
5:45 pm

Technology getting Green

Gravatar The Register has an article about the way technology advance has decreased energy usage by data centres. The most instructive part of the article is that the technology wasn’t developed to be environmentally friendly but to save costs. Blade servers do this in two ways, firstly by saving space - you use less space in a [...]
5:18 pm

The Iraq Escalation - serious dangers for British troops

Gravatar Right, here are some things The Shrub (aka the US President) has done as part of his ‘surge’ in Iraq: 1 part of the ‘surge’ appears to consists of US combat forces being redeployed from Afghanistan 2 Amongst the new deployments to ‘bolster the security of Iraq’ is an additional Carrier Strike group – and the deployment actually in Iraq of batteries of patriot anti-missile batteries. 3 US forces have today entered an Iranian diplomatic mission in northern Iraq and seized a quantity of documents and computers. The implications for UK combat forces in Afghanistan and Iraq are profound. 1. ...
5:02 pm

Written Parliamentary Question: 11th January 2006

Gravatar Contempt of CourtTo ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (1) how many people have been held in police cells for more than24 hours in relation to contempt of court proceedings relating to the family courts in each month starting in January 2004; (2) how many people aged (a) 18 and over, (b) 16 to 17, (c) 14 to 15 and (d) under 14 were given prison sentences by the
4:50 pm

#Fly me to the moon# (at the taxpayers’ expense)

Gravatar So HM Government is looking at sending a British mission to the moon. So far they are only looking at sending a couple of unmanned probes, but the second is rumoured to be exploring the possibility of a manned base. The author of the 5tracks blog notes “My first reaction to that answer is ‘there are certain people IN Britain I’d like to send to the moon’ but that’s an old cheap gag and I’m above all that”. Matthew Paris clearly is not! I have argued before that American plans for a moon-base and a Mars-shot ...
4:49 pm

America is going to bomb itself

Gravatar Apparently. I wonder if they have quite thought this one through?
4:45 pm

How does the defector Porter feel now?

Gravatar Tory peers on Tuesday managed to drive a knife into the back of Cameron's claims to be a tolerant party when 41 of the old dears voted for discrimination against same sex couples in the provision of commercial goods and services. The figure included 10 front benchers as well, a figure that matched the total number of Tory peers who voted for the rules that prevent companies in Northern Ireland
4:13 pm

Weather, Diet, and David Beckham

Gravatar I appear to have picked the windiest and wettest day on record to go out leafleting later. We have 200 St Mary’s focuses left, and tonight they will be distributed, with the help of some (barely) willing assistants. Unfortunately, if the rain continues to pelt the earth at its current rate, either the Focuses will have been reduced to mush, or Prestwich as a whole will have been washed away and
3:59 pm

comical catchup

Gravatar I've had a subscription to the worlds greatest comic (2000AD) for nearly 10 years. But in about April I found I stopped reading them every week (it may have had something to do with the election going on...). Even after that I failed to pick them back up, and slowly a rather large pile of unread issues built up. I've finally opened all the envelopes and started to trawl through the backlog of 7 months. The worst thing was, having been reading David Bishop's blog, knowing there was a major story arc taking place in 2000AD, and a series penned ...
3:38 pm

Follow the links

Gravatar To hear Ming, to see Sarah Teather and Ed Davey, to find out what Nick Clegg sees in the mirror and last - but not least -
3:35 pm

Dalziel and Pascoe

Gravatar Campus has been chocka-block with exhibition marquees and film equipment vans for the last couple of weeks. Dalziel & Pascoe have been filming on campus this week, and yesterday lunchtime I bumped into Colin Buchanan and Warren Clarke having a fag between scenes. They've taken over the University's great hall and it looks like its an incident room. I've also heard they used the French department as a Biosciences lab/offices... They've used the Great Hall before, in the episode with Jack Dee and Devla Kirwan in (Dialogues of the Dead). That time it was decked out as a library.
3:31 pm

Racist Incidents

Gravatar Where do you go for advice if you are the victim of a racist incident? One obvious answer is that you should report it to your local Safer Neighbourhood Police Team, as they do take racial incidents seriously. But sometimes they can only deal with the public safety aspects of the problem and need to refer you to other agencies for other kinds of support. Kingston Racial...
2:40 pm

Tim Congdon switches to UKIP

Gravatar This is an interesting article by Tim Congdon as to why he is moving from the tories to UKIP. Cameron's approach of trying to be all things to all people is in some ways more meaningless than Blair's initial position. Losing 2-3% from Conservative to UKIP in key seats can have quite an impact on the numbers elected.
2:25 pm

"Don't kill the FoI"

Gravatar The Government’s refusal to introduce a Freedom of Information Act with teeth was the reason I resigned my Labour Party membership back in 1999. (You can find out just where it was lacking here.) I no longer wanted to be associated with a political party which has no genuine commitment to empowering the individual against the over-mighty forces of either the state or commerce. Besides, I
2:09 pm

Why we need PR

Gravatar Liam Byrne and Bill Rammell argue for a re-election strategy so breathtakingly cynical in its naked pursuit of power for its own sake that it even makes Cameron's own pursuit of it look vaguely principled.
1:56 pm

UKIP loses another two...

Gravatar I promise I am not obsessed with UKIP, well maybe a little as I take a keen interest in anything European. This week they do seem to have got into a bit of a muddle losing some members and branches, gaining two peers and a Thatcherite academic but also seeing one of their former MEPs join the far-right grouping in the European Parliament. They also now appear to have lost two more leading members to the far-right English Democrats. What is going on at UKIP HQ?
1:55 pm

Fly me too the moon

Gravatar Should Britain go to the moon? My first reaction to that answer is “there are certain people IN Britain I’d like to send to the moon” but that’s an old cheap gag and I’m above all that I love the idea of a British space programme, in the next decade or two the value [...]
1:50 pm

Top Conservative academic set to support UKIP

Gravatar Professor Congdon, a leading Thatcherite economist has said he will vote UKIP if Cameron is Leader of the Conservatives at the next General Election. Even Iain Dale the most important Conservative blogger has accepted this is a big blow (he dismissed the two Peers earlier in the week as not important news).
1:32 pm

Obstructing patient mobility won’t improve health standards

Gravatar There is an ongoing struggle between Whitehall and Brussels to see who will undermine the liberalising measures of whom. Today, it is bureaucrats in Whitehall who are objecting to an European effort to liberalise the market in one of the most essential services: healthcare. In 26 September 2006 the European Commission launched a consultation on a legal framework to enhance cooperation between member states’ health systems. This month it stated that it was not necessary to get approval from one’s national healthcare provider or health ministry before travelling to a neighbouring EU member for treatment. This is causing ...
1:29 pm

Parliamentary Prvilege Act 1770 and "proceedings in parliament"

Gravatar Section 342 says: Ashby v. White, 40 and Reg. v. Paty, 41 and to the difference between the views as expressed in the first edition of Blackstone's Commentaries in 1765, which were not unfavourable to the House of Commons, and those in the fifth edition, which was published a year after the Parliamentary Privilege Act: see 1st ed., vol. 1, p. 159; 5th ed., vol. 1, p. 165.] The Attorney-General
1:26 pm

"I may not have succeeded.."

Gravatar I met Robin Cook, the former British Foreign Secretary, a few times over the course of his life. The first time was while I was campaigning with Malcolm Bruce, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats in the 1992 election. During that campaign there were several set piece debates involving the four leaders, Malcolm, Ian Lang- the then Conservative Secretary of State- Donald Dewar for Labour and Alex Salmond of the SNP. Over the course of the campaign we grew quite friendly with "the opposition". Occasionally one or another of the leaders might be substituted, depending on commitments elsewhere, ...
12:47 pm

Planning Applications Furore

Gravatar There have been two recent Planning Applications in Combe Down village that have caused consternation to local residents. The First is the ridiculous applcation for a mobile telephone mast on the grass verge outside Combe Down Garage. The company 'Three', visited Wags Firmin owner of the garage to ask if they could install a mast on his property. Wags refused, so the the company have proposed a mast as close as they can to the garage, but without encroaching on Wags' land. The proposal should be refused on aesthetic grounds alone - an unsightly development in the Conservation Area and ...
12:35 pm

Visit to Big Buddha - Pictures Only

12:24 pm

End Guantanamo detentions. Bring UK residents home

Gravatar Ten things you should do today
12:21 pm

'Tis the season to defect

Gravatar We learnt this week in The Telegraph that January is the busiest month for divorce lawyers.  There's something about spending unusually long periods in the company of your spouse over Christmas that seems to push many relationships over the edge.January is also a busy time for political divorce and various defection stories have been floating around:  The Lib Dems lost some ex PPCs to Cameron; Labour are losing Councillors to the Lib Dems; even UKIP in Essex suffered the fate of having two of its precious few councillors defect to the English Democrats (You can imagine, "its not me who ...
12:16 pm

More on UKIP - a former MEP joins a far-right political party

Gravatar A former UKIP MEP is set to join a new group in the European Parliament which includes some of Europe's most prominent far-right political parties. Ashley Mote, elected as a UKIP MEP for the South East of England but sitting as an Independent MEP since 2004, will join the "Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty" group.
12:06 pm

Guantanamo Bay vigil

Gravatar Last night there was a vigil for two British residents in Guantanamo Bay - one of whom is a constituent of Ed Davey MP and the other of Sarah Teather MP. As the two were resident in the UK but not British citizens, the Government has refused to take up their cases: Ming Campbell also took part; you [...]
11:45 am

Watching You

Gravatar Via Geeklawyer, this genuine London Transport poster: (Click to enlarge) Is it wrong that I saw this over Christmas and didn't think anything was wrong with it?
11:17 am

Congdon: Cameron is sincere but devoid of real meaning

Gravatar Thatcherite economist dissects the Cameron Conservatives and finds nothing there. He's off to join UKIP.
10:51 am

Warwick Hospital - not as bleak as the Tories make out.

Gravatar I attended the Warwickshire NHS PCT Board meeting in Warwick yesterday and found this to be an informative meeting. The new Chairman Bryan Stoten was very clear in his criticism of what he termed 'hysteria' surrounding the future of the hospital. He said that there were no plans to close A&E or Maternity. Bryan went on to say that he had been concerned that for about 3-4 months there had been almost a delight by certain groups in spreading doom and gloom about the hospital and making claims that were simply untrue. I have watched the Tories marching around ...
10:31 am

Bankrupt hospital - part II

Gravatar My discovery that North Bristol Trust is £100m in the red has created something of a stir! BBC Points West asked the Department of Health for a response last night, and they said they had "no current plans" to write off any of the debt, although North Bristol Trust are clearly hoping for a different outcome. What is extraordinary is that the Government is actually not telling NHS Trusts whether or not it will write off any of this historic debt - which makes it impossible for them to plan for the long term. ...
10:01 am

Away Day

Gravatar Today is the annual meeting of all Welsh Liberal Democrat Parliamentarians in Westminster. Accordingly, I am posting this from my Blackberry sitting in Portcullis House. For some reason our activities have been overshadowed by the contribution of our Welsh Leader in the House of Commons yesterday. This is obviously very gratifying, after all Lembit did not used to be able to get so much media coverage for a simple question on motor neurone disease. The last time we held this meeting it co-incided with the resignation of Charles Kennedy and we all dutifully trooped over to Cowley Street ...
9:19 am

Emotional Abuse - when should children be taken into care

Gravatar The link is to the NSPCC's page on Emotional Abuse of children. They define emotional abuse as: Answers to common questions about emotional abuse "My neighbour constantly shouts at her children and threatens them; should I be worried?" Yes. "My friend treats her toddler well one day, then badly the next. I am worried about the effect this may have on him." Children need consistency from parents
9:19 am

Sir Menzies Campbell's New Year resolutions

Gravatar What were your New Year's resolutions?
9:15 am

Planning ahead for learning campus

Gravatar Redcar and Cleveland Council is ready to submit its detailed planning application for the £16million Saltburn Learning Campus project next week. The Campus will provide a new secondary school to replace the existing Huntcliff School buildings and a new primary school to replace the two Saltburn Primary School sites at Marske Mill Lane and Upleatham Street. The development of the current Huntcliff School site will create a modern learning campus, expanding on the existing facilities of a Children’s Centre, Leisure Centre and Multi-Use Games Area providing life-long learning opportunities. The first of two phases is hoped to ...
9:06 am

Jackiey is evicted from Celebrity Big Brother

Gravatar Last night saw Jackiey get evicted from Celebrity Big Brother, without her shoes. In the vote which people could vote for those they wanted to save Jackiey got 4.6% which by the size of it I can only assume not many people voted.
8:52 am

Government - another home office mess

Gravatar It seems the Home Office has made yet another blunder ignoring information about potentially dangerous people who have returned to Britain following convictions overseas. And what's more, two government ministers said they didnt know about this.. only for it to emerge that they were given the information, presumably with the assumption they would act on it, last year. There seems to be a huge gap between what the govenment says about crime and anti social behaviour and its basic failure to run the systems needed for any of this to work.
2:43 am

Two 58 year olds call it a day

Gravatar Two major figures in TV News have announced they are standing down. ITV News Chief Clive Jones is standing down - just two days after the arrival of new executive chairman Michael Grade and so is CNN International MD Chris Cramer. Chris Cramer: I joined the BBC on Monday 7th January 1980, at the Wood Norton Training Centre. On 7th April I started in BBC TV News Studios. A few weeks later, on 30
2:23 am

Monkey is back

Gravatar Just seen the new Johnny Vegas and Monkey ad for PG Tips. This is the return of the old OnDigital partnership. Monkey's fee goes to Comic Relief (I don't know if they have to offset the cost of his winnebago). I have to say it is a classic! The jokes may wear off after a few viewings (so don't over do it Mother), but it may end up as timeless as old PG Tips chimp ads. Sit back and enjoy...
1:17 am

Stop looking at me!

Gravatar Top media image in the US tonight are paparazzi pictures of US Democrat Presidential hopeful Barack Obama (I hope for a Clinton/Obama ticket) emerging Ursula Andress style from the sea. The spotlight is falling more and more on the young candidate (OK the press image is young - which is true, he is a year younger than me at 26 :-))) Anyway, the question for me is: Does this picture help the
12:34 am

We know you’re watching us, Wood…

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12:27 am

Celebrity Big Brother - Leo Sayer the clown

Gravatar Just realised that many people watching Celebrity Big Brother not as ancient as me don't know Leo Sayer's original stage image... so here it is!
12:25 am

Fortis Green health services & budget cuts

Gravatar At tonight's meeting of Overview & Scrutiny, the main business was the public concern over the proposed sale of Fortis Green clinic. There were a number of very passionate and eloquent speakers, all worried about local access to health services. The PCT have belatedly come up with plans to relocate the services from the clinic to Pages Lane and Colney Hatch Lane, both also in my Fortis Green ward. This is great news - the services will still be easily accessible for local residents. But originally the long term plan was to relocate these services to the new ...

Previous days:

Wednesday 10th January 2007, Tuesday 9th January 2007, Monday 8th January 2007, Sunday 7th January 2007, Saturday 6th January 2007, Friday 5th January 2007