Thursday 18th January 2007

10:28 pm

Snow, flooding and budgets

Gravatar Well, half the day was wasted in trying to drive to Stirling, failing to get much past Perth and then trying to get back to Dundee! When I finally did get back to Dundee, contacted Planning & Transportation regarding renewed flooding at Pinegrove's Perth Road entrance. Also reported that the grid at the bottom of Ryehill Lane is missing again. This evening had a useful administration meeting on budget matters. Now ploughing through too many e-mails. Starting delivery of latest West End FOCUS tomorrow (Edition 55) - weather permitting!
10:27 pm

Hossam Ghaly and Spurs help local kids

Gravatar Had to go and get lots of jabs! Looking after international development means I’ll be spending some time sharing territory with mosquitoes and worse – so immunisation is the order of the day. I go off to the Royal Free, which has a really helpful travel clinic. I gladly wait beyond my appointment time to let in a gentleman in a wheelchair who is late for his appointment (the one before mine)
10:06 pm

I know who's side I'm on

Gravatar Story here
10:04 pm

Waterloo station - people as far as the eye can see

Gravatar Thanks to tonight’s gales there were only a few trains being advertised at Waterloo. Waterloo station has a huge concourse, and it was absolutely jam packed full of people in every direction as far as the eye can see - easily the most people I’ve seen in one place, outside of a concert or rally. Getting [...]
9:21 pm

The Latter Day Saints

Gravatar This article offers yet another angle on the idea that environmentalism has occupied the space recently vacated by religion in the popular imagination. The more you consider the parallels, the neater the world views seem to click together. Impending catastrophe? Check. The writers of the Bible and the European Union's climate report firmly believe that humanity (or at least humanity's holidays in Magaluf) are in the final days. Opportunties to preach at others, and for sanctimony and hypocrasy? To numerous to recount. I'm not sure how damnation and salvation are going to work out though, because whatever happens with climate ...
9:18 pm

Language Timothy

Gravatar Political Language is in the spotlight in this week’s Southwark News.  Last week, Cllr Danny McCarthy, who left the Lib Dems to join Labour just six months after the election, was described as a rat.  Intemperate, maybe. But no doubt he has called and been called worse.  Danny duly put pen to paper to complain about this outrageous use of language.  [...]
9:13 pm

The power of the editor

Gravatar A couple of years ago I read Ben Elton’s excellent ‘Dead Famous’ - a work of fiction that is clearly based on ‘Big Brother’. One of the things the book amply demonstrates is the power that programme editors have to select not only which bits of twenty four hours of tedium will make the best [...]
9:02 pm

Wanted - An original idea at ITV

Gravatar Any of these TV show ideas sound familiar ? (1) Personalities trace their roots and family tree to find out more about their past and where they come from. (2) Crimes are reconstructed and people phone in to suggest who might have committed the crime. (3) People pitch ideas to a group of entrepreneurs in a hope of being awarded cash to fund projects and business ideas. (4) Celebrities learn a new dance routine each week, are judged by experts and voted off by a telephone vote (5) Open auditions are held to cast for the leading role in ...
8:45 pm

Jaded Bermondsey?

Gravatar So Bermondsey's in the news again... what do you do with a problem like Jade Goody? The nasty undercurrent in the bullying and culturally intolerant remarks echoing around the Big Brother household at the moment are rightly receiving nothing but condemnation around the country and the press. The nicest thing anyone is saying is that the perceived racism is more a combination of ignorance, bitchy rivalry and frustration than a type of cartoonish skin-head bigotry. Many others don't think that's a particularly relevant difference. I disagree. There's a big difference between violently hating a group of people because ...
8:32 pm

Tory troubles - Cameron forced to defend Goldie

Gravatar David Cameron has been forced to step in to the row over Annabel Goldie, Leader of the Conservatives in Scotland. Read about it HERE. Goldie has been under pressure since she was criticised by a Tory candidate.There has also been much discussion in the media in Scotland concerning the Conservatives failure to lift themselves in the polls with David Cameron perceived as not appealing to Scots, whilst Goldie has been largely invisible and not seen to been vigorous enough. The Conservatives have, North of the border, claimed that the comments were taken "completely out of context" and "There ...
8:04 pm

Better Government

Gravatar A super idea here from tabman.
8:02 pm

Gutless, toothless and impotent - The Electoral Commission is useless !

Gravatar The committee on Standards in Public Life are calling for a wide ranging reform of the Electoral Commission. The committee highlighted the fact that fraud is on the increase but the Electoral Commission have allowed the rules on postal voting to be relaxed actually leading to an increase in fraud. Similarly the Electoral Commission have failed to introduce other other security measures to ensure voter registration is fair. Indeed recent cases, not mention by the news media, but highlight by Lib Dem also reflect poorly on the Electoral Commission. The case of thousands of missing voters in certain wards ...
7:45 pm

Time to get rid of headteachers?

Gravatar The Government has today published a report that suggest that the schools should consider alternative forms of leadership arrangements apart from the traditional headteacher promoted from the ranks of the teaching staff (BBC report here). Basically schools could be led by a chief executive type figure (in effect a professional manager), with operational control of teaching and the curriculum
7:37 pm

Celebrity Big Brother - Well done Carphone Warehouse!

Gravatar Yesterday afternoon I wrote to the Chief Executive of the Carphone Warehouse, asking him to cease financing Celebrity Big Brother. I am sure many other people also complained to him. No doubt, he was also mindful of the 30,000 (and counting) people who have complained to Ofcom about the programme (a record). Anyway, Carphone Warehouse have now suspended their sponsorship from the programme, and
7:05 pm

The only Park and Ride in London

Gravatar Kingston has the only full-blown Park and Ride scheme in the whole of London! It runs for ten weeks during the Christmas and New Year period with free parking at Chessington World of Adventures and a frequent bus service into the centre of town. This year over 62,000 journeys were made! Most users come from the Epsom and Leatherhaed area, but a surprising number come from as far...
6:14 pm

Stormy Thursday

Gravatar I don't very often drive to London, but I needed to transfer a computer from my Westminster office to my constituency base in Torquay.  Picked the wrong day to be on the roads with such awful we...
6:13 pm

Day 2207: Go Directly to Gaol, Lord Blairimort

Gravatar Tuesday: As you should ALREADY KNOW from reading my Daddy Alex’s diary, last night I let my Daddies stay up past their bedtime in order to watch a programme on the Channel More called “The Trial of Tony Blair”. We thought that it was jolly funny, and you might like to catch the repeat! It was about a made-up person called “Tony Blair” who is a pretend version of our Prime Minister, Lord Blairimort. They gave several other famous people pretend names too, presumably for LEGAL REASONS. So, Mr Frown was called “Mr Brown” and Mr Balloon (played by ...
5:59 pm

And Now… The Verdict

Gravatar The Trial of Tony Blair comes to Channel 4 tonight. It’s worth a look but doesn’t quite meet its promise, much like the repeat afterwards of The 30 Greatest Political Comedies… In which Michael Howard gives the world’s worst impersonation of relaxed bonhomie and co-host Charles Kennedy patently can’t bear the sight of him. The Avengers: A Sense of History is also on tonight, boasting outstanding guest actors (Nigel Stock, Patrick Mower and Jacqueline Pearce, Servalan herself) but with the script a rather limp political thriller. Alistair Beaton’s political comedy-drama has a more lively script but much less engaging leads. ...
5:59 pm

Hutton kicks off a firestorm about Mao

Gravatar The Tory blogosphere has been thrown a piece of red meat by Will Hutton. He's written a Guardian article called: "Mao was cruel - but also laid the ground for today's China". As usual, it is a thoughtful piece. But I always wonder with Will Hutton. Sometimes I have a suspicion that he has a tendency to conceivably disappear up his own exhaust-pipe when he writes some articles. He certainly
5:57 pm

Trident.....Colin Ross and the Ming Petition

Gravatar I am glad to see that Colin Ross's petition about Trident is gathering pace. I have already gone on ad nauseam about the issue, suffice to say I fear that appearing to sit on the fence will be the worst of all worlds for our party.This is clearly going to be a hugely important debate at conference. Lets get chatting about it now!
4:43 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Mervyn DID draft a letter to Gordon!

Gravatar It's amazing what one finds in the rubbish bins behind Threadneedle Street! Obviously the author of this letter found they didn't quite need it. Dear Gordon, As you may have noticed, inflation appears to be spiralling out of control. The consumer price index (CPI) is now at its highest since 1995, while the retail price index (RPI) is at its highest since 1991. I imagine it must be pretty embarrassing, presiding over an economic record worse than that of the Major administration, which Labour have been criticised so vocally over the past decade. I feel ...
4:32 pm

Oxford reaps reward of its conservative myopia

Gravatar Last month those who care about these things - which seemed to be most of the British media - were greatly exercised by the governance proposals put forward by the University of Oxford’s Vice-Chancellor, John Hood. Dr Hood’s plan to try and drag the University kicking and screaming into the modern world was defeated by the University’s Congregation, the so-called ‘Parliament of dons’. Those of
3:43 pm

Index of Economic Freedom

Gravatar The 2007 Index has been published and it is generally good news. Economic freedom has fallen slightly, but is still the second highest ever, but a new system is being used to measure which include labour freedom for the first time which may affect the results. The UK comes in at number 6 and Ireland at number [...]
3:38 pm

A bigger role for pharmacists and nurses in making Wales healthier

Gravatar The Welsh Lib Dems are committed to extending and promoting the role of nurses and pharmacists in testing, screening and monitoring for a range of conditions. These include such conditions as high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol testing. “By developing this community-based approach we will increase illness prevention, aid public education and enable those suffering from chronic conditions to manage their illness more effectively. Our proposal for health-hubs means that in some cases pharmacists, nurses, physiotherapists and GPs will be based under the same roof, alongside advice services, ensuring the most convenient healthcare possible. “In other ...
3:11 pm

A costly way of dealing with your problem

Gravatar There are signs like these attached to frames around the trees outside my office. For the last couple of years, they have been constantly either annoying or amusing me - depending on my mood on any given day. I should probably just get over it.
2:34 pm

Good luck Calum

Gravatar Saw the news this morning that Calum Davenport has transferred to West Ham. He has actually been very good for us this season and played some excellent games - wish him all the best for his future career.
1:57 pm

A gentleman of leisure

Gravatar To the National Liberal Club yesterday for lunch with a former work colleague. I seldom get to the Club, despite paying my, in retrospect, quite reasonable annual subscription. In fact, there have been years when I've spent more time in reciprocal clubs overseas than in my own, but it is one of my very few indulgences (other than travel, of course!). So it was a pleasure to have a guest for
1:52 pm

Selly Oak New Road - Update

Gravatar The City Council Cabinet will consider on Monday 22 January 2007 proposals to bring forward the construction of the first phase of the Selly Oak New Road by six months, subject to the completion of a legal agreement between the City Council and Sainsbury’s. The early construction of the first phase of the new road by Sainsbury’s is a key component in the construction traffic management plan for
1:07 pm


Gravatar I have become more irritated in recent days with the ignorance with which the "Meedja" are approaching the debate about the future of the UK. They base their ideas upon a simple but utterly flawed premise. That the choice for Scotland and the wider UK is between the current partial and unfair system and outright independence. Simon Heffer in the Telegraph displayed all the sensitivity for which he is renowned in his analysis: basically "the Scots have changed the rules of the Union and I don't want to play any more". Well, tough! As always the Labour ...
12:45 pm

Make You Happy Tonight

Gravatar For all you romantics out there, Tripod perform their song Make You Happy Tonight at a comedy festival.
12:33 pm

Bookies Conscience

Gravatar I have no real opinion on the Big Brother racism thing. Obviously I don’t think racism is a good thing at all but I think a large chunck of whats been said is just a lack of intelligence on the part of Jade Goody. This is not going to have done her ‘career’ any good at [...]
12:32 pm

Electoral Commission must be reformed

Gravatar Decisions, Decisions do I read the full report by the Committee on Standards in Public Life on the Electoral Commission tonight, or a good book? The Press Release ELECTORAL COMMISSION MUST BE REFORMED RADICALLY TO SAFEGUARD THE HEALTH OF OUR DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM Radical reform of the Electoral Commission is needed to safeguard the long-term health of our democratic system, the Chairman of the
12:30 pm

Scottish Tory candidate calls for Goldie to go

Gravatar BBC News reports: “A Conservative candidate at the Holyrood election has called for a change of party leader in Scotland. The challenge to Annabel Goldie’s authority came as the party’s UK leader David Cameron arrived in Scotland to boost the election effort. “Holyrood candidate Peter Lyburn believes that the Tories need rejuvenated north of the border.” conservatives Opposition [...]
12:09 pm

Censorship of Climate Change Sceptics?

Gravatar I always feel when I post something like this that I should say that I do not deny the reality of climate change, even if I am sceptical about many of the more alarmist claims (often made by people who stand to gain in some way from people’s fear). So, for the record: The climate [...]
11:42 am

How to irritate people

Gravatar Walk in to a packed meeting room, late, and say “keep your seats” No Tags
11:34 am

Late night food - photos only

11:29 am

Breaking ranks

Gravatar Coming back to the issue of collective responsibility I was intrigued by Peter Hain's latest audacious departure from the official party line in an effort to ingratiate himself with the party faithful. Reports of his interview with the New Statesman have him describing President Bush's foreign policy as a failure 'wherever it's been tried'. He goes on to say that 'The problem for us as a Government was actually to maintain a working relationship with what was the most right-wing American administration, if not ever, then in living memory.' The problem is that his government maintained that ...
10:00 am

Andrew Duff MEP elected leader of UK Lib Dems in Europe

Gravatar Andrew Duff MEP has been elected Leader of the Liberal Democrat European Parliamentary Party (LDEPP) in a vote yesterday evening. The contest was triggered following Diana Wallis’ resignation as Leader after she was elected a Vice-President of the European Parliament. Speaking after the result, Andrew Duff said: “I am grateful to my Liberal Democrat colleagues for electing me [...]
9:59 am

Big Bother?

Gravatar Thursday 18th January 2007 - Having travelled to Bangalore this week to promote the UK and Europe as obvious partners for Indian business, I am frankly embarrassed by the constant questions about the Big Brother affair. Shilpa Shetty is an icon in India and, in the eyes of the Indians, she is being bullied on the basis of her origin. Every speech made this week includes some reference to the UK
9:45 am

Matthew Taylor quits shadow cabinet, Danny Alexander elevated

Gravatar Danny Alexander MP has been appointed the Liberal Democrat Shadow Social Exclusion Secretary. He will replace Matthew Taylor MP in the Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet, who yesterday announced he will stand down at the next election. Danny said “I am delighted to have been appointed to this position. Britain faces a huge challenge in tackling poverty [...]
9:34 am

Good news everybody

Gravatar A couple of month’s ago I mentioned the Number 10 petitions, and in particular recommended a petition calling for individuals to have the right to copy material they own for their own personal use, for example by ripping CDs to MP3 format so you can listen on an iPod. The Government has now responded, and it [...]
9:30 am

No New Trident - Sign my petition and discuss on the forum

Gravatar Since I posted about Trident on Sunday, and had a letter in Liberal Democrat News on Friday, I have had lots of people contact me agreeing with what I have said. I have set up a petition on the site (top right on the main page, and second item on the navigation menu) and a Trident Forum (third item on the navigation menu) to discuss the issue further, should anyone want to.
9:18 am

Context-Free grammar CS Paper Generator

Gravatar You want that job in IT but dont have the right credentials? If like me you slept through university, skipping classes and exploiting university for maximum leisure potential then you may have missed out on the opportunity to publish any scientific papers. Fortunately, this system uses a context-free gramar to generate all the papers you might [...]
9:12 am

Energy Technology Institute's natural home is Wales - Öpik & Williams

Gravatar Today, the Welsh Liberal Democrats called on the Government to recognise the huge contribution that Wales can make to the planned £1bn Energy Technology Institute. The Welsh Liberal Democrats will be inviting members of the DTI Board to come to the Centre for Alternative Technology in Montgomeryshire to see a showcase of the cutting edge work of Wales’ green industries, research bodies and organizations. Commenting Lembit Öpik, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and MP for Montgomeryshire, said: “The new Energy Technology Institute’s natural home is Wales. With cutting edge green industries, eco-technology development, environmental research and ...
8:46 am

Kings Cross Station is Closed

Gravatar Don't try and travel through it on any line, you can't. I only post this since my carriage wasn't told until one stop before we arrived. TFL are blaming a powercut.
8:23 am

Quit while you’re ahead

Gravatar The number of ministerial careers that end with claims of wanting to spend more time with the family is legion, and most are treated with due suspicion. But few people give up the back benches for that reason. Which is why Matthew Taylor’s decision is both laudatory and instructive. It raises in me an ongoing anger that people believe that Members of Parliament are a bunch of lazy bums who are living like barnacles off the public purse while providing no value at all. To be fair, I have sympathy for those for whom this is an ...
8:04 am

Racism on Celebrity Big Brother

Gravatar Apologies on coming late to this debate, I haven't watched Celebrity Big Brother much in the last few days - Although I enjoy it (something mindless to watch before going to bed) I am not quite addicted, on Monday I went to see Pan's Labyrinth at the Lighthouse cinema and Sunday met up with some friends. I did however watch it last night, mainly because of the media cries of racism and (at last count) 20,000 complaints.
7:36 am

Day 2206: Job Opportunity

Gravatar Monday: A letter has FLOODED in! I am indebted to Mr Theo of As I Look Out On This Magnificent Vista for this cutting from the Bristol Evening Post that I have brought along today. Oooh, it’s just like THE NEWS QUIZ isn’t it! {Posted by Picasa}
2:40 am

Shetty to Jade: "You need elocution lessons"

Gravatar Contrary to a report in the Guardian, which featured in my post earlier called "Jade to Shetty: 'You need elocution lessons'", I have watched the "CBB catch-up" programme and it is clear that it was the other way round, according to Jade. This is confirmed by the Manchester Evening News. I have left the comments from the earlier posting below.
2:24 am

Belsize LibDems hit the jackpot!

Gravatar Alexis Rowell of Belsize LibDems has hit the jackpot! A mention in the Guardian Diary today for his passion for recycling: We are, we confess, quite hopelessly smitten by Camden's Belsize ward Lib Dems and their thrilling young blogger Alexis Rowell. "We really need to install far more on-street recycling bins," enthuses the dashing councillor in a typically inspirational recent post. "Swiss
1:05 am

As nature intended

Gravatar Congratulations to the author of Hot, Ginger and Dynamite, who first noticed the most illiberal story in recent times. Next thing you know, they'll be telling people which hand they should use to...A site for political analysis and opinion of an avowedly liberal view. It's all about freedom.
12:20 am

Two more Tory defections

Gravatar News reaches the Lib Dem Voice team of two further Tory defections. In Harlow, Sumners & Kingsmoor councillor John Paul Goddard has quit the Conservatives to sit as an Independent. From having 13 councillors only a year ago, the Tory group has now fallen to 11 - level with Labour and only one seat ahead [...]
12:02 am

First piece of celebrity gossip on Liberal Polemic (Shock! Horror! Probe)

Gravatar It’s not often you get to meet two celebrities in a single day, but today was clearly my lucky day! Having spent an agonising five days not blogging due to a rigorous weekend celebrating a friend’s birthday in the New Forest followed by being obliged to work as though I was being paid for it (which, to be fair, I am), I decided to spend a night with friends at that most salubrious of venues, the Lord Moon on the Mall (aka. the last refuge of the Cabinet Office employee with only a fiver left before pay day). ...
12:01 am

Happy Birthday Monica

Gravatar Today is the birthday of my colleague Monica Whyte, councillor for Hornsey ward - and an active worker on various party bodies too. Monica is the only person I know who checks my blog on a regular basis - along with about a million other political blogs. So, Happy Birthday Monica - do take *some* time off campaigns and casework to celebrate! And, see you for lunch...

Previous days:

Wednesday 17th January 2007, Tuesday 16th January 2007, Monday 15th January 2007, Sunday 14th January 2007, Saturday 13th January 2007, Friday 12th January 2007