Tuesday 16th January 2007

11:42 pm

Tim Ireland vs Guido Fawkes

Gravatar If you follow political blogs you’re probably aware that Tim Ireland had what could be characterised as ‘a bit of a pop’ at Guido Fawkes recently. Guido made a typically to the point riposte on his blog, but has also just thrashed out more of a reply on Lib Dem Voice. He says I’ve been known [...]
11:18 pm

Trident........will there be consensus at conference?

Gravatar I had this post ready to go last Friday but as a new kid on the FPC block I wasn't entirely clear what I am and am not allowed to say about the meeting, so to avoid being sent to the naughty corner I waited to get some advice. Although I have to say, I had thought I had been elected as a representative, which to my understanding means my accountability is to party members. Anyway, I am a bit clearer now so here it is. ...
11:01 pm

new gadgetastic

Gravatar Its like christmas has come early... I've just upgraded my mobile and contract with Orange. (I don't go in for flash mobiles, so its just a Nokia 6233, I need IrDA, Bluetooth and GPRS for all the other bits of connectivity, but not desperate for multi-megapixel cameras as I have cameras coming out of my ears, the Fm radio is a nice extra). Meanwhile, I've replaced the PDA that was stolen from the office in November, and went for a Dell Axim X51v (has wifi & bluetooth). Although I've not been totally lost without the PDA, it has been a ...
10:58 pm

Political blogging: navel gazing or useful debate?

Gravatar Today received an e-mail from a colleague with some forthright views on political blogs, after having spent "half an hour or so reading various inane conversations being carried out by the usual list of party-jonny-no-mates". In the email there were some examples, with the end result being the summary:    "What can I say, other than it seems to me that, for most, blogging is simply a continuation of NUS politics by other means.   "I’d rather waste my time reading about what you think about Andy Murray and bagels (which was a reference it took me a while ...
10:54 pm

Save the Children

Gravatar Today Ming asked me to attend his meeting with Save the Children. Justine Whitbread laid out her stall very clearly and is, I thought, a very able advocate for the work they do. All the organisations are keen to influence me at this early stage of my thinking - and that is their job and their advocacy. I am looking and learning at the moment. Absorbing it all and asking many questions. In a field
10:53 pm

The shaming of 'Trust-Me Tony'

Gravatar The word ‘shameful’ has become dulled by its too-frequent repetition. But there was no other word to describe the Labour Government’s decision to order the Serious Fraud office to drop its investigation into alleged bribes paid by defence firm BAE Systems to Saudi Arabia to secure lucrative contracts. Had such a decision been taken under John Major’s Tory Government, you can bet your bottom
10:46 pm

But were they disappointed?

Gravatar I don’t often pay that much attention to my website stats. But when you notice that you’ve attracted tens of thousands of hits in one day* (a couple more than usual) you wonder why. Did I write something indiscreet, controversial, bad? None of these things, it seems. No, what happened is that my other gaff was linked to by a website which goes by the name Tottyland. I’ll give you the link, but
10:16 pm

Purves is naive, and Aaranovitch is dishonest

Gravatar Musing on the two articles below by David Aaranovitch and Libby Purves I thought that the tangible proofs of both their views were well encapsulated by the London tube - Aaranovitch choosing to view Britain as kind of Jubilee line extension, while Purves concentrated on some grotty part of the Circle. It was particularly apt too as although there is almost a farcical reluctance among broadsheet columnists to acknowledge the existence of anything worth commenting on outside the M25, they can hardly afford to ignore the transport system under their own offices. I recently read this book, which was an ...
9:59 pm

Tackling issues like flyposting and graffiti has ...

Gravatar Tackling issues like flyposting and graffiti has been one of my priorities as a local councillor and since I was elected we have introduced an Environmental Warden (we currently also have a second) and encouraged a greater focus on these problems. The above picture is an example of a simple measure to combat flyposting - just attaching diagonal batons to the hoardings means that it is difficult
9:15 pm

History of the Union

Gravatar A lot of talk in the papers and on the BBC (including a special Newsnight later) on the question of Scottish independence, 300 years since the kingdoms of England* and Scotland were joined by the Acts of Union 1706 - 07** to form Great Britain. Rather than enter into a debate about the merits of independence for the Scottish, I thought I would share with you, dear reader, why the two countries
8:57 pm

Ain't it awful?

Gravatar It is possible for two different and apparently irreconcilable views to be true at the same time isn't it?
7:24 pm

Awesome US law allows serving troops to criticise Bush's surge

Gravatar Any troop increase over here will just produce more sitting ducks, more targets" -So says Sergeant Ronn Cantu, who is serving with US forces in Iraq. His comments have been reported in the Wall Street Journal: A group of more than 50 active-duty military officers will deliver a petition to Congress on Tuesday signed by about 1,000 troops calling for an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. It is
6:59 pm

Norfolk Lib Dems rally to support cottage hospitals.

Gravatar Norfolk Lib Dems today handed in an 8,000-name "Hands Off Our Hospitals" petition to Downing Street in response to plans to close community hospitals across Norfolk. Newly selected target seat candidates April Pond from Broadland, and Simon Wright from Norwich South were joined by North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, who is also the Lib Dems shadow health secretary. Broadland campaigner April Pond made clear that if these closures went ahead they would leave a “gaping hole in health care in Norfolk. The financial reasons for closures do not stack-up unless a much poorer, patchy service is the alternative, ...
5:58 pm

Home Office Balls Up: Number 73

Gravatar It never rains but it pours for poor old John Reid. It has just been announced that the Home Office have lost track of another terrorist suspect who was supposed to have been monitored as part of a control order. No doubt John Reid will spin this as another reason for tougher laws, but to my mind it shows again that the Home Office just cannot be trusted with new powers. Perhaps we do need a new government department that deals with internal security (although please, PLEASE, can we not ape the Americans as the Tories have ...
5:38 pm

The perfect birthday gift for a man

Gravatar Ever wondered what happens to old fighter jets that have come to the end of their shelf life ? They get sold for £7500 each. Read about it HERE. The Eastern Daily Press has a nice little story about how old Jaguary GR3 fighter bombers based formerly at RAF Coltishall in North Norfolk can be bought for a snip. With my birthday on Sunday, my wife asked me only yesterday if there was anything I wanted. Now I realise what I want for my birthday, where am I going to put it ?
5:26 pm


Gravatar     We will reduce the voting age to 1616/01/2007Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate/spokesperson Eleanor Burnham said: "The newpowers available to the Assembly gives Wales the chance to develop a newkind of politics. For me that means reaching out to all in our society,especially our young people."The time is right to lower the voting age for Assembly and councilelections to 16. The Welsh Lib Dems will push for the powers to do this inWales. "We want to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote to make sure their views areheard by politicians. At that age you can already pay ...
4:40 pm

Dead man voting

Gravatar Nick Assinder of the BBC notes that it is possible for the vote of a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly to be exercised after they have died. Only in Northern Ireland?
3:22 pm

Wednesday on Tuesday

Gravatar Another busy day at work today, and since thinking about that makes me want to run far away, I shall talk about trivialities instead. Tonight I am going to see Manchester City play Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup. I am a Bury fan, but since they were expelled from the competition this season for fielding an ineligible player, I will have to look further a-field to find a cup game until next
2:45 pm

Blair Resigns?

Gravatar Whether it was watching the TV drama 'The Trial of Tony Blair' last night – it was excellent BTW and I laughed out loud at one point - or the extra number of police that seem to be around the Palace o...
2:29 pm

I don’t know man, I didn’t do it

Gravatar Robert Anton Wilson, whose book Reality Is What You Can Get Away With provided the name of this blog, died last week. Given that the opening sections of his book Cosmic Trigger III dealt with the consequences of what happened when his death was mistakenly announced in the early 90s, I thought it best to [...]
1:43 pm

Lib Dems get in to the national contact centre game

Gravatar Via Ed Maxfield comes news of the Telegraph’s coverage of the Lib Dems‘ new million-pound national call centre, being funded by a new major donor to the party. I understand (and I’m not particularly in the loop on this, so don’t take it as gospel!) that data from this call centre will feed a new national [...]
1:35 pm

Candidate news: Lucy Care selected for Derby North

Gravatar Derby Liberal Democrats have selected local councillor, Lucy Care to be their Parliamentary Spokesperson for the new Derby North constituency. At the selection meeting on Saturday, party members overwhelmingly chose Lucy Care to be their prospective candidate for the next General Election, from a shortlist of three. Lucy Care said “I am delighted by this vote of [...]
1:21 pm

A public service announcement for local parties on postal vote forms

Gravatar I am getting increasing numbers of reports of Returning Officers who are saying they won't accept Postal Vote forms with people's personal identifiers that have either been produced by the party (the ones circulated by ALDC and the Campaigns Department) or those produced by the Electoral Commission or the Department for Constitutional Affairs because their "scanner software won't read them
1:11 pm

Racism on Big Brother

Gravatar I have not really got the time to watch Celebrity Big Brother but from the snippets I have caught there appears to be a completely different atmosphere this year compared to previous years. Today's tabloids are reporting a torrent of complaints from angry Celebrity Big Brother fans about alleged racist bullying of Indian star Shilpa by Jade Goody and her pals. Whether these complaints are justified is difficult to assess without watching all the video footage, however there does seem to be some reason for concern. From what I am told the real racism is on the Channel ...
1:06 pm

Lynne Jones to quit Parliament at the next General Election and takes a swipe at Labour

Gravatar Birmingham Selly Oak's Labour MP Lynne Jones has announced that she will be standing down at the General Election, she said "weary" of fighting against her own leadership. She also took a swipe at both Steve McCabe MP and Roger Godsiff MP.
12:50 pm

Thaksin - it all kicks off

Gravatar The furore surrounding former (or current depending on how you look at it) Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been brewing here in Thailand for the last week or so but today it seems to have really gone into overdrive. Over the last week or so the government has removed his diplomatic passport and attempted to clamp down on the media and prevent them from reporting his or his spokesmans comments. The media held meetings about this clamp down and certainly as far as I could see the print media at least had decided to ignore the clamp down. Then ...
12:43 pm

Gender Balance in candidate selections

Gravatar James Graham highlights the research done by the Campaign for Gender Balance on the approval of women in held seats. But I am not sure the data tells me anything. What I would like to see is a comparison of the proportion of approved women in held seats, to approved women as a whole, and the same for men. The figures MAY not demonstrate a gender issue at all. They may just be saying that either
12:37 pm

Life in the Stone Age

Gravatar At least, that's how it feels to me. I got home on Friday evening, turned on the computer and watched it crash. Not good. Ring friendly computer guy and arrange to deliver the hard drive to my father's office so that he can pick it up. Arrive to find office full of Polish guys laying carpet tiles. Ah, that lovely new carpet smell... Ring Al (the computer guy) on Sunday. Arrange to collect base
12:35 pm

A nice kuffar tea will solve everything

Gravatar Channel Four’s Dispatches last night produced an excellent exeposé of malign influences at work in some of Britain’s Mosques, amongst them groups funded by what can be broadly dubbed ‘the Saudi religious establishment’. It’s no hyperbole to say that some of the footage of preachers speaking to young people, was terrifying. The Muslim Council of Britain has accused Channel Four of a “witch hunt” against Islam, which seems somewhere between unlikely and absurd. It was some solace to see a representative of the Sufi Muslim Council of Britain (or as the MCB calls it, “the so-called Sufi Muslim Council of ...
12:20 pm

Jobs talks

Gravatar Had a meeting last week with one of the organisations involved in the Speke District Centre development. We talked about the progress so far - although you can't help but notice this as the buildings appear to be shooting up. But more importantly I was following up on earlier talks about jobs and employment. It's really important that the new retail (and its not just Morrison's actually) means jobs for local people. Actually since it was all raised, lots has been happening which should mean that later this year when recruitment actually starts, there will be ...
10:55 am

More things in Heaven and Earth

Gravatar The implications of Quanta have always intrigued me: the idea of an infinitely repeating number of observable Universes creates a fantastically baroque cosmology. I see Marcus Chown shows up the effects of an infinite quantum Universe in a piece for the Telegraph. Not only is Elvis alive, but in an infinite number of Observable Universes you, dear reader, are the Prime Minister, in an infinite number of different of Observable Universes you have green hair, in an infinite number more you are Stalin, or Mother Teresa or an international playboy and jet setter. Don't get too excited ...
10:21 am

Will Brown introduce AV?

Gravatar I notice Politicalbetting is contemplating a Brown move to introduce Alternative Vote in place of first past the post. The announcement would be in the first days of the Brown administration and is akin to the announcement on Bank of England independence after his appointment as Chancellor. I think this bit of political crystal ball gazing is well founded. I have argued myself that Brown will
10:21 am

Unitary status for Cumbria? a centralisation to far?

Gravatar I would be facinated to hear what any Cumbrian Liberal Democrats think of this but as an ex pat I must confess to thinking that someone somewhere has gone bonkers. During my current sourjourn at "Home" in Whitehaven I have been following the press debate about Cumbria County Councils proposal for Unitary staus for the County. As is often the case New Labours one size fits all approach to local government is pressuring to end the current two tier system. Now with half a million people, six districts, one County Council, a National Park Authority and over 360 principal local ...
10:12 am

Andy Murray on course for whitewash?

Gravatar Andy Murray has just won the first two sets of his 1st Round match against Alberto Martin 6-0, 6-0. So he should be good for the 2nd Round, you'd hope. You can check the latest score here. Unfortunately, Alan Mackin fared less well, going out 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. UPDATE: Murray got to 6-0, 6-0, 5-0 - but then Martin managed to win a game. So the triple bagel opportunity goes missing. But not a bad start to the tournament anyway - Martin is still ranked 60th in the world.
10:00 am

The Starbucks Dilema

Gravatar An excellent example of the Bermuda triangle that is Headingley politics, are the high levels of support that the Starbucks gets from local lefties. Some of my best plotting has been done in the otley road branch. It goes without saying that as a global McFranchise it is of course Evil however it tends to get a local get out of (Ethical) jail free card because of the local cultural context. Two things make me mention the issue today. Firstly is the Guardian's piece mentioning the slightly orwellian www.starbucks.com/locator . With only 7 branches Leeds clearly is ripe for redevelopment. ...
8:16 am

European Convention on Human Trafficking - Sign it don't just talk about it!

Gravatar John Reid, the Home Secretary yesterday told the House of Commons that the European Convention on Human Trafficking remains a priority for this government. If it is so much of a priority then the Government should sign it!
7:42 am

Cameron's right-turn

Gravatar It's everywhere: the Sun pictures Cameron in a Thatcherite bouffant, the Independent describes "an abrupt turnaround". In their different ways the press is acknowldeging that as soon as the going got rough, Cameron reverted to type.
7:09 am

Day 2204: If we don't hang together…

Gravatar Saturday: Mr Frown has spoken to the nation through the medium of the Daily Hellograph and he has said he would quite like it to REMAIN a nation, thank you very much. This is because he has the same initials as the country… yes, he is Mr UK Frown. Actually, I am inclined to agree that it is A GOOD THING for our countries to stick together. We can achieve so much more together than apart – we in London benefit from the industry and invention of the Scots just as much as they benefit from the wealth generated ...

Previous days:

Monday 15th January 2007, Sunday 14th January 2007, Saturday 13th January 2007, Friday 12th January 2007, Thursday 11th January 2007, Wednesday 10th January 2007