Friday 19th January 2007

11:26 pm

Jade, Shilpa............holding up a mirror?

Gravatar I tend to watch Big Brother by accident, rarely, or towards the end of any series when something or someone grabs my attention. So, how could I resist this evening? And its OK, I'm quite used to popping into the odd soap....irritating the life out of my children asking endless questions since I have missed the last 3 coming in without knowing exactly what is happening is quite usual! Tonight was no exception. I could be criticised for coming in cold, or with the morsels I have devoured over the past week in the likes of the Indy, Metro ...
11:02 pm

Simon Hart Show Us Your Colours

Gravatar This is worth checking out on Nicks blog under archive - leaders panel - dated 2007-01-12   you will see that the Simon Hart C.E of the Countryside Alliance which is none partisan they claim is down as a Policy leader for the Welsh Tories for the Welsh Assembly Elections me wonders if his board know of his public Blue Welsh Tory Alliance ?? Please read on ;   Nick Bourne AM Leader of the Conservatives in the Welsh Assembly  Party Spokespeople   Leaders Panel In run up to the Assembly Election, I have announced my leader’s panel, who will ...
10:16 pm

Prescott: "There were ten gay guys in a room and I said 'I'm not staying in a room like this' "

Gravatar Dizzy Thinks makes an interesting report under the title, "Prescott says he can't stand being in the same room as gays": According to a report in the Evening Standard, John Prescott has recorded interviews for a BBC Radio 4 show called Prescott at you Service about his time in the cruise liner industry. Amazingly in the interview he says: "The thing that struck me most was that when I joined
10:10 pm

Cameron pulls plug on Iain Dale's Diary

Gravatar Well, alright then, if it wasn't Cameron, someone has! It's shame. I wanted to see what his 18:24 posting entitled: "You couldn't make it up No 94" was about. 19/01/07 22.13 The page cannot be displayed There is a problem with the page you are trying to reach and it cannot be displayed. Please try the following: Open the Homepage(); home page
9:10 pm

Wighton update and FOCUS deliveries!

Gravatar Good progress with delivery of latest West End FOCUS today; being continued over weekend along with other editions across Dundee. Latest news on tomorrow’s Friends of Wighton event from Sheena :- Advance interest has meant that tomorrow’s Friends of Wighton ( illustrated talk by renowned singer Anne Lorne Gillies has moved to Dundee Central Library’s Steps Theatre. Anne’s talk, liberally laced with song, will focus on her prize-winning book “Songs of Gaelic Scotland” and the event starts at 2pm sharp and will be followed by a book signing. Admission £5 (£3 FoW members) on the door.
8:58 pm

Gales hit Badger Farm

Gravatar Two pictures taken today in May Tree Close, Badger Farm that show the after effects of yesterday's gales. The damaged building is a 2 storey garage block. Most of the wall on one side of the upper storey was blown over at about 3.00 on Thursday afternoon. Fortunately no one was in the garages or passing by at the time. Sorting out the damage could pose a few problems as each of the garages is
8:16 pm

P990 for £31

Gravatar Yesterday I received an email from Nectar advising me that they have a new partner mobile2points who will swap my old mobile phone for Nectar points. In the email they wanted to know if I would swap my 4 month old phone for 6200 Nectar points. Wow thousands of nectar points, however 1 point is equal [...]
8:13 pm

Normal Service is Being Resumed

Gravatar Apologies to my regular readers (of which I note there are a few - thanks!). I've been on a training course in Wales for my new business and internet access has been infrequent. I did, however, manage to make a short visit to the Welsh Assembly and saw Kirsty Williams, Mike German, Peter Black et al. in action grilling Rhodri Morgan and his Labour drones. I was very impressed with the Assembly building and wondered why, in this modern era, the United Kingdom cannot have a legislative building appropriate for modern politics. Then I remembered ...
8:09 pm

Noel Park lads, Hossam Ghaly & Spurs

Gravatar Was chatting to our MP Lynne Featherstone yesterday and she was telling me about the chaos being caused by the storms locally, with roads closed by fallen trees. Fortunately no one was killed. This big tree had been uprooted in Alexandra Park, I saw on my way to work this morning, now lying mostly in the pond. I was on my way to Tottenham with Lynne, for the launch of a Safer Neighbourhoods football league for teams from the Noel Park area. Noel Park is part of Hornsey & Wood Green which Lynne ...
7:40 pm

Ruth Turner.........Tony Blair......and cash for honours...

Gravatar The arrest of Ruth Turner this morning at 6.30 (6.30 - what's that all about?) throws us back into the shenanigins of the cash for honours affair. Vince Cable today rightly drew a parallel with the dying sleazy days of the Major government, but it leaves me pondering, what on earth will ever finish off this discredited Prime Minister? Rather like a wasp that you think has been well and truly swatted, he just seems to start wriggling again and get up and fly off as if nothing has happened! Maybe I'm just a tad miffed - what an inspired ...
6:52 pm

Shotting themselves in the feat

Gravatar It’s awfully kind of Lib Dem News to correct their story last week - highlighting the results of that poll - which accidentally re-christened me John Tall. LDN even reprint the web-address of my blog to help drive traffic here. It’s a shame they’ve got it wrong - won’t help you much unless you’re looking for airline tickets, hot lingerie or big booty. (Which, as it
6:46 pm

The fall of the one-dimensional celebrity

Gravatar Perhaps it was inevitable, but at last we are seeing the collapse of Jade Goody - a celebrity who is simply famous for being famous. Whilst we should not seek to justify racist comments by anyone, we would perhaps feel more inclined to forgive if that person had proved their worth in other fields. [...]
6:29 pm

Nutcracking with a sledgehammer

Gravatar Following the news that British Airways is changing its uniform policy to allow religious symbols to be worn openly, is it time the English National Ballet also allowed its employees openly to declare their affiliations? Y'know, just something subtle that nobody would even notice.
5:49 pm

Spurs through to UEFA Cup last 16?

Gravatar A mate told me earlier this afternoon that the UEFA appeal against Feyenoord had ended with an even harsher verdict than expected... they've been thrown out completely. Which *probably* means we get a bye now instead - quite nice as will cut down our congested fixture list... and I can get my £52 back!
5:49 pm

US Presidential race - all the cards up in the air

Gravatar The US political scene has a seductive pull. It is always a pleasure to receive an update from Taegan Goodard's Political Wire. A scan of some of his (it took me a while to establish his gender!) recent headlines shows quite a lot of changes in the line-up for the 2008 Presidential campaign: Clinton, Giuliani are the Front Runners Obama, McCain Lead in New Hampshire Public Firmly Opposed to
5:35 pm

Conservative Councils Close Your Leisure Facilities

Gravatar It is interesting to not that when a Tory Council keeps tax down, there is a song and dance about it on Tory blogs. Of course, those of us who live in area where we have to endure Conservative Councils know that the Tories talk about cutting taxes, but rarely, if ever deliver. Norfolk County Council, for example, which they took control of in 2001, has seen record council tax rises since they took control, which seems odd since their only manifesto pledge when they took control was that they would keep council tax rises lower than those imposed by ...
5:33 pm

Externalities in computer security

Gravatar Bruce Schneier has written an excellent essay on the problem of insecure software. The problem is that it is actually in a company’s best interest to write insecure software because it is easier and therefore cheaper and they do not suffer the costs of security failure. In fact, the market rewards insecure software as people like [...]
5:11 pm

Latest lunatic Tory idea: The return of the Permit Raj

Gravatar Is there no act of idiocy to which David Cameron will not ascribe in his attempt to woo votes? The latest suggestion from the Conservative’s Working Group on Responsible Business is to impose quotas for producing fatty or sugary foods and alcohol in an attempt to tackle obesity and binge drinking. If it is true – and so far it is only part of a consultation document – it is a sign of how far the Conservatives have moved from the economic liberalism they briefly espoused under Margaret Thatcher. Quotas for anything are a disaster. They are aspects ...
5:10 pm

Government incompetence causes GP salary saga

Gravatar    Trust in Wales Ymddiried yng Nghymru   WELSH LIBERAL DEMOCRATS DEMOCRATIAID RHYDDFRYDOL CYMRU    Moves to cap massive GP salary rises are due to bad government planning, according to Welsh Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Jenny Randerson AM. “GP salaries are just another example of Government incompetence in the NHS. Ministers claimed they couldn’t anticipate GPs would meet government incentives to this degree, which is bad planning. “The Government mishandled changes to the Oxygen contract, leaving many people short of vital supplies. They mishandled Agenda for Change, the new NHS pay structure, and now they have ...
5:10 pm

Gordon Brown joins Channel 4 PR team

Gravatar The following press release has just come in from Channel 4: "Following the recent furore over "Celebrity Big Brother", Channel 4 is delighted to announce that it has recruited Gordon Brown, of Fife, to its Public Relations team. We are delighted that Gordon has hit the ground running with this excellent press release: "Brown Urges Viewers To Back Shilpa Friday January 19, 11:11 AM Gordon
5:09 pm

Blair aide arrested in honours enquiry - officials "taken aback"

Gravatar Ruth Turner, Blair political aide, is arrested and bailed. A Downing Street source told the BBC that officials were "taken aback" by the arrest.
5:08 pm

We will encourage young entrepreneurs through all-Wales competitions

Gravatar Welsh Liberal Democrat enterprise spokesperson Kirsty Williams, AM for Brecon and Radnorshire, said: “Creating a culture of entrepreneurship is the key to the future success of our economy in Wales. “Young people are fearless, they see the opportunities and back themselves to achieve. We will encourage stronger ties between businesses and schools and colleges to provide young people with positive and inspirational role models, by getting local entrepreneurs in to schools to get the next generation thinking about business from a younger age. “We would also promote all-Wales competitions and buddy programmes run through colleges, schools and ...
5:05 pm

No live audience for Big Brother's "big bother" eviction night

Gravatar So Jade will not get the reception she deserves when she leaves the Big Brother house tonight. I think the fact that Endemol have announced that there will be no live audience has let the cat out of the bag that Shilpa is not going to be evicted, as if she ever stood a chance of eviction against Britain's most ghastly woman - The loathe some Jade Goody. I might not watch it now.
4:43 pm

Better Value Customer Services

Gravatar Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council is to invest £161,000 creating 13 new jobs in its Contact Centre after monitoring showed take up of public access services is up by almost a third. In May 2004, there was an average of 18,500 calls a month to the Council's newly-created Contact Centre and 2,000 visitors to One Stop Shops. The service has been so successful that nearly 24,000 people call the Contact Centre a month and over 3,000 visit the One Stop Shops. Opening hours at the One Stop Shops in Eston, Guisborough and Redcar are also being realigned. ...
4:31 pm

North Riding signs in place

Gravatar Pictured are 3 of 7 North Riding of Yorkshire boundary signs recently erected on the roads leading into the Borough of Redcar & Cleveland. Sign 1 (bottom) - On Stokesley Road between Great Ayton and Guisborough Sign 2 (middle) - On the A1085 Trunk Road on the boundary with Middlesbrough Sign 3 (top) - On Normanby Road at Ormesby with Chair of the Ridings Society Cllr Chris Abbott in pic The seven signs were erected at no cost to the Borough of Redcar & Cleveland. They were paid for with a donation of £1150 from the Yorkshire Ridings ...
3:43 pm

Laissez-faire Environmentalism

Gravatar If there is one area where regulation abounds, it is in the protection of the environment. Whether this is because the powers that be don’t believe that individuals will not or cannot act in an environmentally good manner I don’t know, but regulation and schemes to protect the environment abound. Some of these regulations simply cost [...]
3:40 pm

** Blair's director of government relations arrested

Gravatar Ruth Turner has been arrested as part of the cash for honours probe Opposition watch
3:24 pm

Honours police arrest Blair aide

Gravatar Downing Street political adviser Ruth Turner has become the fourth person to be arrested by police investigating the cash-for-honours allegations. Ms Turner, a senior adviser to Tony Blair, was arrested at 0630 on Friday morning at home but was later released without charge, on police bail. via the BBC
3:19 pm

Written Parliamentary Questions: 19th January 2006

Gravatar Litigants in Person Q:To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to the answer of 13 December 2006, Official Report, column 1074W, on litigants in person, if she will assess the merits of increasing the rate at which litigants in person can claim costs. A:The award of costs is a matter for the judge in the light of the circumstances of a particular case. Under
2:58 pm

Chemists are guilty!

Gravatar I'm finding the reporting of the bomb plotters current trial quite sensationalist. I was in London on that particular day for a Palace garden party, and strangely, being right in the centre of London meant avoiding most of the surrounding chaos. I also suspect that Buckingham Palace was one of the safest possible places to be that day. The focus by the prosecution on the fact that one of those on trial had studied chemistry seems a little tenuous. Does that make all of us who've studied chemistry equally as dangerous. Or more so if we've done PhDs! The concept ...
2:51 pm

Shami Chakrabarti calls the shots on Celebrity Big Brother

Gravatar The fuss turned to outrage, the outrage turned into a diplomatic incident, and now Channel 4 have announced that they intend to do the decent thing, and donate the profits of tonight's Celebrity Big Brother to charity. This is supposed to prove to the world that they're not just manipulative profit-mongers, and they don't want to make unfair gains from the Jade Goody racism row. I don't think it proves anything of the sort. The massive amount of press coverage has driven their ratings up anyway, and that effect is going to last well beyond the eviction show. The ...
1:57 pm

Mike Rumbles MSP (and former Army Major) signs my No To Trident petition

Gravatar Mike Rumbles the Liberal Democrat Member Scottish Parliament (MSP) for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine has become the first Parliamentarian to sign up. Mike is also a former Major in the British Army, so knows what he is talking about.
1:42 pm

Understanding the Scots

Gravatar Scotland is slowly rising up the media's agenda as we approach the May elections.  Several papers cover David Cameron's move northwards of the entire Shadow Cabinet. Alan Cochrane in The Telegraph puts the Cameron vs Tory right wing debate into a Scottish context; Matthew Tempest in The Guardian gives a reasonably prosaic canter around recent Scottish political history and The Mirror condemns Cameron for flying to Scotland rather than using the train. The whole thing is summed up best by the sketch in The Scotsman. Its left to Michael White in The Guardian to give the most interesting analysis:"Whatever ...
1:36 pm

Crimes Of The Century

Gravatar The Tories seem to be in some difficulty at the moment justifying their taxpayer funded position as Her Majesty's Official Opposition. In addition to the £4.3 million the Conservatives receive for bei...
1:24 pm

Vince Cable on the growing problem of personal debt

Gravatar Lib Dem TV personal debt Vince Cable
1:21 pm

The test of a successful policy

Gravatar Those of us who have argued for some time that students' choices as to whether they go into higher education or not can be influenced by the existence of fees, the level of fees and the fear of debt are feeling vindicated this morning by this article in the Western Mail. The paper reports on official figures that show an 11% rise in students from Wales over the past year choosing to study at Welsh universities and colleges. The rise, which comes amid a general decline in UK university admissions, has been attributed to Wales' resistance to top-up fees ...
1:04 pm

Cheap envelopes

Gravatar Just had a call from Lucy Care (the next MP for Derby North).  She knows of an envelope supplier who has 2 million envelopes to get rid of and is selling them cheap.  There is a variety of shapes and sizes on offer but they are going fast (300,000 today already apparently).  Please contact Lucy [...]
12:57 pm

A leaner, fitter, Southwark (Group)

Gravatar The gauntlet has been laid down, and I have accepted the challenge. One of my gallant colleagues within the Southwark Liberal Democrat family has announced that he is going to make a serious push to shed some weight over the next six weeks leading up to Federal Conference in Harrogate, and challenged allcomers to join him, a prize to be awarded to the contestant who loses most weight over the
11:25 am

Brown praises terrorist leader shock!

Gravatar The BBC has it here. Bookmark to:
11:07 am

Law and morality

Gravatar Has law anything to do with morality? I think it does. Firstly, law comes from religion as Roman law, the first legal system, testifies. Secondly, I believe you can see it in principles such as due process and presumption of innocence. Thirdly, and most importantly, human rights are nothing but the legalisation of ethical principles. Nevertheless, one ought to recognise two things: first, by virtue of living in a society, individual (and community) rights clash with other individual (and community) rights; second, there is an aspect of ‘private morality’. People are often uncomfortable with the fact that human rights, as ...
11:04 am

Graham's blog entry 19th January 2007

10:58 am


Gravatar I can remember before this latest series of Person You’ve Vaguely Heard Of Who Happens To Have The Same Agent As Our Presenter And Was At Home When We Called Big Brother started that there was lots of speculation about Robert Kilroy-Silk being one of this year’s contestants. I can imagine that the producers may [...]
10:53 am

Reality Bites

Gravatar According to the Today programme this morning, in the US there is a new TV reality show about the lengths parents will go to big up their child’s coming-of-age birthday party called My Super Sweet Sixteen. For some reason, calling the show “Pimp My Teenager” was deemed inappropriate, it would seem. Bookmark to:
10:46 am

BBC cuts will mean more quality - werewolf

Gravatar Terrible news! According to Mark Thompson, the BBC’s appalling 3% license fee rise will lead to an abandonment of reality TV and cheap imports and an increase of quality output (in an article in the print edition of the Guardian that doesn’t appear to be online). Apparently, “big pieces” such as the excellent Planet Earth [...]
10:28 am

A tall story

Gravatar I’m 6′4″ and I’ve been using buses on an almost daily basis for my entire adult life. At no point have I ever been asked to get off the bus because of my height blocking the drivers’ view. So this story doesn’t convince. What’s worse is that this is the Telegraph nicking yesterday’s Metro [...]
10:00 am

Leader TV: Ming on Marr on Sunday

Gravatar Ming has been a regular on Andrew Marr’s Sunday AM of late, and can be seen again on Marr’s sofa this Sunday. If, like me, you’re sleeping at 9am on a Sunday morning, you can watch online here after the event.
9:59 am

Paging Mr Cameron, paging Mr Cameron

Gravatar Another day, another crime story. Major international crime-fighting body attacks the Labour Government. Security Service refuses to back Government’s defence. And David Cameron? Silent once again, whilst it is Ming Campbell who is on the case. david cameron menzies campbell
9:56 am

Walking with peasants

Gravatar I’ve spent a good proportion of my life taking the piss out of Belle and Sebastian. And they do deserve it. But they’ve made some good songs, and I think Sleep the Clock Around is the best. Sarah Martin from the band wisely opined that "I actually don’t think the Liberal Democrats are a bad choice", sentiments I am happy to endorse.
9:53 am

Should we be surprised by the cynicism of Channel 4?

Gravatar I was interested to listen to Nick Clegg on question time express surprise on Question Time last night at his fellow panel members consensus on the fact that the events in the Big Brother house (especially the diary entry from Shilpa Shetty that she didn't believe that she was a victim of racism) was being orchestrated and manipulated by the producers and editors of Big Brother! I'm afraid I'm
9:52 am

Democrats vote against free speech

Gravatar There has just been a vote in the US Senate over a nasty little section of a Lobbying Bill. The aim was to make all political bloggers or grassroots campaigners whose sties are read by more than 500 individuals register with Congress as lobbyists and to report quarterly to Congress. This is quite clearly ridiculous and an [...]
9:20 am

Channel 4’s Damages Public Funding Calls

Gravatar Channel 4 boss Andy Duncan yesterday claimed that the comments towards Shilpa Shetty in the Big Brother house aren’t racist. Duncan told reporters: “What constitutes racism is a complex question. We have been monitoring extremely carefully events in the house and have reached the view that we cannot with certainty say that the comments directed at [...]
9:06 am

RFID tags for the mentally ill

Gravatar These are one of the ‘crime fighting’ and ’safety’ measures being proposed as reported here. I am speechless. This is unbelievable. I know this government’s mental health agenda is disastrous and dangerous for those who are mentally ill, but this takes the biscuit. Not only is it based on a totally untrue characterisation of mental illness I [...]
8:46 am

Through all kinds of windy weather

Gravatar Yesterday’s atrocious weather caused some damage in Prestwich – I saw lots of debris lying around, with signs uprooted near Tesco, and an enormous tree blocking Whittaker Lane. I hope no readers of the blog were adversely affected in any way. The worst it got for me was an extremely lengthy journey to The Trafford Centre – so I suppose I got off lightly! It does strike me as remarkable though
8:36 am

Tories lose yet another Council!

Gravatar The Conservatives have lost control of Aylesbury District Council following the resignation of Councillor Ted Griffin who now sits as an independent. By my reckoning this is six Councils the Conservatives have lost recently.
8:31 am

Andrew Duff MEP elected leader of the Liberal Democrats in Europe

Gravatar As a result of Liberal Democrat MEP Diana Wallis being elected a Vice-President of the European Parliament Andrew Duff MEP has been elected Leader of the Liberal Democrat European Parliamentary Party.
7:51 am

That racist behaviour

Gravatar There is no doubt that many of the politicians commenting on Big Brother have not watched it. I do not know if that applies to Ken Livingstone but I think that he has it about right: "It is clearly racist. Jade Goody and the others aren't fully paid up members of the BNP - they've just got that dull ignorant racism that permeates a lot of not just Britain but many societies in the world. It's just shocking to see it." Meanwhile, Channel Four has still not sorted out their forums.
7:06 am

The wind

Gravatar Around 20 trees in the Borough came down yesterday, and Richmond Park was closed. I have nothing but praise for the Council officers and our parks contractor who cleared the roads very quickly. Now I have a challenge this morning - to get to Birmingham by 11am. I booked my train ticket some days ago but National Rail is reporting delays and cancellations this morning. I think I'm just...
6:40 am

What a crazy way to make laws!

Gravatar It's an unusual Friday. Normally, like most MPs, I'm in the constituency, holding surgeries, catching up on correspondence and attending to the local end of what I do. But today, I've returned to Westminster (set the alarm for 0530 to make sure First Great Western couldn't stop me) to support the 'Sustainable Communities Bill' - a worthwhile piece of legislation that will gove more power to local communities over the decisions that affect them. What is different about this Bill is that it is a 'Private Member's Bill' - not promoted by a Government minister but ...
3:14 am

Thailand warns Japan

Gravatar Not content with having fallen out with the government in Singapore the Thai government has turned its attentions to Japan. The row with Singapore continues as the military junta announced that they have switched their mobile phone supplier from Singaporean controlled Advanced Info Service to other firms. They also threatened to exercise their power to revoke the licences of Singaporean owned telecom and satellite operators if they were found to be wiretapping communications channels and sending sensitive information back to Singapore. The government has turned its attention to Japan as Thaksin Shinawatra was due to arrive in Tokyo last ...
2:27 am

Liberal Drinks

Gravatar Wednesday night I was at the Silver Cross on Whitehall for my first visit to Liberal Drinks. The event was actually a joint affair for Alison Goldsworthy's birthday. Those there included Grace, Alison, Jon Alywn, Tristan, Will Howells, Jenny Willott, Andy Mayer, Helen Jardine-Brown, James Graham, Ruth Polling and Geoff Payne (apologies to those I have missed out - including some members of the

Previous days:

Thursday 18th January 2007, Wednesday 17th January 2007, Tuesday 16th January 2007, Monday 15th January 2007, Sunday 14th January 2007, Saturday 13th January 2007