Tuesday 23rd January 2007

11:48 pm

Liberal Drinks photos

Gravatar Photos by James Graham of last week's Liberal Drinks in Whitehall posted to the Liberal Drinks London Facebook Alison Goldsworthy, Me, Grace, Andy Mayer, Will Howells Tim Kent, Me, Helen Jardine-Brown, Grace, Richard Pinnock
11:34 pm

Talking Big Brother with the US ambassador

Gravatar Quite extraordinary today - I am having lunch with the American Ambassador (and five other senior Lib Dems - obviously not just me) and then later going to the premier of Blood Diamonds. I know - this is just not the staple diet I am used to - and like buses two things have come together on the same day. The US Embassy is such an ugly building. And now - starkly guarded with concrete, fencing and
11:33 pm

Kashmir report keeps me busy

Gravatar Tuesday 23rd January 2007 - Back in Brussels this week and a busy round of meetings today to discuss the amendments to the Kashmir report that is going through the Foreign Affairs committee today and tomorrow. The day included a meeting with my colleague Sharon Bowles and the Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Sardar Attique Khan, to discuss the report. A very hectic but productive
11:29 pm

Pakistan Earthquake

Gravatar Long drive last weekend meant I was a captive audience for the radio.  One of the features I listened to was on the 2005 Pakistan earthquake and the fact that thousands of people are still suffering from the consequences of the quake. Lib Dem Zuffar Haq was heavily involved in relief work when I was based in Leicestershire and a quick [...]
11:00 pm

Cold delivery day

Gravatar I can’t remember the last time I went out delivering Focus when it was so cold. Can it really have been the Ipswich by-election when I definitely recall leafleting in the snow? The thermometer on my car hasn’t read much over 0 all day. Taking leaflets around Meadow Brown Road the little pond (under the [...]
10:52 pm

What I learned today…

Gravatar William Huskisson MP, the first person to be killed by a steam locomotive (the Rocket no less), was friends with Thomas Hare, the inventor of the single transferable voting system, who only narrowly escaped death seconds before. And they told me the Electoral Reform Society reception would be a dull affair… Bookmark to:
10:10 pm

When only 13,000 fans turn up to watch, do Watford deserve to stay in the Premiership ?

Gravatar I'm not a football fans who demands that so called "big" clubs deserve a premierhsip place just because they have more fans. However, by the same token, if a club's own fans are not interested in premiership matches, how can they expect to stay up. Looking at tonight's results on the BBC website, I saw tonght's scores and attendances. Well done to Watford tonight for sealing only their second league win of the season, but with just 13,766 fans turning up to a stadium that will hold more than 22,000, you have to ask why should anyone else care. I ...
9:22 pm

Welsh Lib Dems expose new threat to Welsh sheep farming

Gravatar Answers to parliamentary questions tabled by Ceredigion’s Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams have highlighted the dangers of an EU rule that could force farmers to use electronic identification (EID) on their sheep by January 2008. Following an urgent meeting on sheep EID between the FUW and the Ceredigion MP, Mr Williams, who is also Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hill Farming, tabled five Parliamentary Questions on EU plans to force the UK to introduce EID for sheep in January next year. The answers, provided by Environment Minister, Ben Bradshaw, highlight massive costs for the industry ...
9:19 pm

Supermarket inquiry needs strong response from Wales' farmers - Welsh Lib Dems

Gravatar Welsh Liberal Democrats have responded strongly to the Competition Commission’s initial report on the UK’s grocery industry, published this morning. The commission has been examining the supply chain, planning and land banks of the four big UK supermarkets. The Welsh Liberal Democrats, who made an official submission to the inquiry, are concerned that the Commission have not had much evidence from farmers. In real terms, farmers in Wales receive 20% less for milk than they did in 1988, and 1,000 dairy farmers in England and Wales have gone out of business in the last year alone. The ...
9:18 pm

We would say no to new nuclear power

Gravatar Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly leader Mike German, AM for South Wales East said: “The Welsh Liberal Democrats are serious about making the green switch for Wales. We start that by saying no to new nuclear power in Wales. “We must reject new nuclear power if we are serious about developing safe, clean and green energy. The risk of nuclear waste being dumped across Wales is a toxic treasure trove that Tony Blair seems determined to leave as a legacy for future generations. The Welsh Liberal Democrats will stand-up for the safety of our communities from nuclear waste. ...
8:59 pm

Spicy chicken, The American President, and nice legs

Gravatar I have been very busy today. Apart from work, which of course took up the bulk of the day, and involved slicing through the usual entanglement of red tape that strangles even my most simple requests, I had my Dad emailing me saying that yesterday's blog-based crime-query exchange made him look "like a Tory." Let me just confirm to the reading world that he is anything but. At least, that's what
8:48 pm

Tescopoly and rent seeking

Gravatar I'm very busy at the moment trying to get a web database up for my old school former pupils' society, but I noticed today a lot of discussion about Tesco and its market dominance. Personally, I patronize the Co-op and local shops as much as possible and am in some ways fortunate to be able to do so, and I abhor monopoly and monopsony, and it is clear that Tesco, ASDA and others are getting pretty close to such a position if they haven't already. But there's a simple little step that could at a stroke force ...
8:29 pm

New leader for Lib Dem European Parliamentary Party

Gravatar The British Liberal Democrat Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have elected East of England MEP Andrew Duff as their new Leader. He takes over from Diana Wallis who has been elected as a Vice-President of the European Parliament. Speaking after his election, Andrew said: "I am grateful to my Liberal Democrat colleagues for electing me to lead the delegation into the second half of this Parliament. The individual talents of Lib Dem MEPs are well known. They are a fantastic team to work with, and we will continue to achieve much across a wide front within the ALDE Group ...
8:26 pm

Nice work if you can get it

Gravatar Dave Cameron is 'pondering' guaranteeing all nurseing students that they will have a job to go into when they graduate as currently many are unable to find jobs(BBC story). What ever happened to the Conservative belief in the free market? Surely lots of nursing graduates being unable to find jobs as nurses is a clear signal that either we are training too many nurses, or the training is deficient
8:25 pm

Freedom of speech includes freedom to be wrong

Gravatar Another day, another race row. Poor Channel 4 seems to be mired in bigotry at present. How will it cope? After the furore of the Big Brother Race Row (which I feel now warrants the use of capital letters), it now appears that a contestant on Shipwrecked: Battle of the Islands has made some daft and probably offensive comments supporting slavery. She has also condemned fat people and called for a return to the British Empire, which suggests that she may not be all there, but it is the former comment – along with various anti-immigrant sentiments ...
8:02 pm

Putting the Thames back into Kingston

Gravatar This is the Half Mile Tree. It is a fine chestnut situated midway between Teddington Lock and Kingston, by the river on Lower Ham Road. A magnificent elm stood there, apparently for nearly 500 years, until it had to be felled in 1951. The replacement tree is only 50 years old but is still an important landmark. We stood by the tree to inaugurate a project that...
7:59 pm

Bush's "Change the subject address"

Gravatar If you want to know what is in George Bush's "State of the Union" speech tonight, this 26 page factsheet issued by the White House might give you some ideas. You only have to scan it to understand why Congressional Quarterly's Craig Crawford has called it "Change the Subject Address". He adds that the Democrats have lined up an interesting choice to respond to Dubya: Tonight’s State of the Union
7:45 pm

Immigration - You Couldn't Make It Up Could You? Maybe The Press Have!

Gravatar A very interesting article from the Guardian online site about the role of the Daily Express and Daily Mail in distorting people's perceptions of the real level of immigration into the UK. As suspected, it does seem that some British people do have an inflated idea of the number of immigrants in the country thanks to some of the inflammatory coverage given to the issue. Will the papers concerned mend their ways? I doubt it.
7:41 pm

MK... never been 40 years old before...

Gravatar Happy Birthday Milton Keynes... officially 40 years old today, 23rd January. Apparently there was a fireworks display at sunrise. The advantages of being deaf, I slept through all that. But whats with this outsider obsession with Concrete Cows? We really do have herds of real cows and sheep in the City Limits... and roundabouts are more our thing. One of the factoid snippets floating round is this: INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT MILTON KEYNES 40 YEARS AGO IN 1967 US troops were fighting in Vietnam and Martin Luther King campaigned forCivil Rights Dolby sound was invented and Radio One was born ...
7:26 pm

Guardian/ICM opinion poll :Bad news for the Lib Dem doom merchants

Gravatar If anyone here reads any of the political blogs in any detail you will see that there is always a large group of Conservatives trying to "talk up" two things that have never happened : 1) That a Lib Dem MP will defect to the Tories 2) A bad opinion poll means impending doom for the Lib Dems. Funnily enough, they have been talking about a Lib Dem defection since 2001 and have been talking about the Lib Dems suffering in the polls since 1990 (when when we were at 5% in the polls). Only last month with the Lib ...
7:16 pm

World may stop turning of 31 January 2007

Gravatar Panic is palpable across Britain as thousands of civil servants have voted to strike on 31 January. Regulation will become Byzantine as civil servants eager to undue the regulating urges of other civil servants miss a day’s work, soft loans for exporters may be delayed, and public service advertising will remain patronising! And how will any of us survive without HM Revenue and Customs checking up on whether we have paid enough tax or imported too many cigarettes? Of course, a few people will suffer from this; mainly poor people. Job centres and benefits offices will be closed, meaning ...
6:58 pm

What is the obsession with stopping the BBC doing its job as a public service

Gravatar The competition commission is concerned that the BBC's "on demand" video service to be launched later this year is having a "negative impact on the private sector". Read about it HERE. I do get fed up with the competition experts telling me that I cannot have a service that might be free because a company in the private sector might want to charge me for it ? Oh, fantastic, just what I want, to be charged for something that I could have at no extra cost. When will the competition commission actually start looking out for the consumer and not ...
6:56 pm

The Unspeakable Mentions the Unsayable

Gravatar Occasionally I've been in the (admittedly rather lazy) habit of posting a link to an article like this one, offering one line of recommendation, and leaving at that. But, after being soundly ticked off the other day, it seems I won't be able to get away with idle blogging under the guise of letting people make up their own minds, and I will have to offer up at least some analysis and opinion. This is a pity, because properly considering this article unavoidably means acknowledging the existence of a strangely popular television series. I thought that the article was brave, ...
6:55 pm

Funniest sporting injury ever

Gravatar The new signings haven't been coming thick and fast for Spurs this transfer window - not that I'm particularly bothered, because while it would be nice to add a Steven Gerrard or Owen Hargreaves of course, I'm pretty happy with the squad. Shame that Ashley Young has gone to Villa, he could have been useful. But today we have signed Ricardo Rocha from Benfica, who will give us good cover at the back - especially after Calum Davenport's departure to West Ham. I don't really know anything about him, but he's supposed to be able to play anywhere across ...
6:43 pm

Top Geek

Gravatar I don’t like cars; I’ve really been inspired to waffle endlessly on the wonder of the internal combustion engine or the leather seat trim of a ‘mardy mar blah’ car. However I do know a thing of beauty when I see it. I’m a geek and I’m proud of that fact. But I’m a geek with [...]
6:43 pm

Hypocricy and the Roman Catholic church

Gravatar So the Roman Catholic Church have now turned to blackmail in an attempt to be excluded from law that attempt to make everyone have equal rights in this country. What does that tell us about the people who run the Catholic Church ? The Roman Catholic church claims that it would be "hypocritical to help gay people adopt when they themselves believe that the only way a child should be brought up is with a married mother and father". Presumably if gay people wanted an exemption from current laws to allow them to punch Roman Catholic priests that would ...
6:34 pm

That EDM 626 Row

Gravatar A mild row is going on about EDM 626. (link on edmi) That is the EDM that says: That this House notes that local authorities and their staff are incentivised to ensure that children are adopted; is concerned about increasing numbers of babies being taken into care, not for the safety of the infant, but because they are easy to get adopted; and calls urgently for effective scrutiny of care
6:29 pm

Hossam Ghaly & Lynne Featherstone photos

Gravatar Couple of photos of Hossam Ghaly at the launch of the Safer Neighbourhoods league at Spurs that I blogged about last week. The first one shows Lynne with Hossam and the captains of the teams from Noel Park along with one of the key organisers , the second shows Lynne talking to Lorna Reith, with Hossam caught in a bit of an interesting waxwork/catalogue pose. Just realised only as I'm typing this above the photos that I'm on that one as well in the corner... By the way, when I get hold of the photo taken ...
5:46 pm

New Terry McAuliffe Book

Gravatar An email has arrived from the Democratic Party advertising the launch today of What a Party!: My Life Among Democrats: Presidents, Candidates, Donors, Activists, Alligators, and Other Wild Animalsby Terry McAuliffe. I have asked elsewhere on my blog whether James Carville and Paul Begala will throw their weight into Hillary's campaign, but of course she already has Terry McAuliffe. Mark
5:40 pm

Who would tell us what to hate if it wasn't for the Daily Mail?

Gravatar Whereas I could possibly accept that Daily Mail readers are simply misguided, most of the people who actually create it are clearly a waste of DNA. How the country can react so angrily to Jade Goody being a not-particularly-racist bully yet ignore the actually-racist and deeply, deeply vile Daily Mail is completely bizarre. I would include the Daily Express too, but their paranoid Diana fixation has relegated them from the world of 'newspapers'. Anyway, I was reminded just how morally corrupt The Mail was today by two stories. Firstly the current investigation by the Commons Joint Committee on Human ...
4:31 pm

How To Dismantle A Good Idea

Gravatar Last, but by no means least in our brief tour of the madness of the railway network is the case study closest to my heart, inasmuch as it’s the case study from my own home town. Gloucester, for the unbelievably large population who don’t know where it is, lies between Bristol and Birmingham at the lowest bridging point of the River Severn. In railway terms, it is the location of the triangular
4:22 pm

Dinner at 8...

Gravatar I am just about to go and watch Andrus Ansip, the Estonian Prime Minister, deliver a lecture at the London School of Economics. The title of his speech: "The European Union: a Positive View" should be a bit of a wake-up call to those, like the paleo-Conservative Anti-European faction, who believe that the UK will have friends if it continues its dog-in the-manger anti Europeanism. When even the Uber-Liberal Estonians believe that the EU has some qualified success to report, then surely it is time to speak up for Reform within the EU. It is certainly a lot ...
4:08 pm

The Big Ole Hilary Love In

Gravatar I’m afraid that I simply cannot join the big Hilary Clinton love in. For the simple fact that she is not a liberal. She’s far more akin to Tony Blair than a liberal and is a big fan of big government (She’s even confessed she’s addicted to government) wants to meddle in people’s lives (for their [...]
3:59 pm

Court of Appeal lets Blair off the Hook

Gravatar Although the Court of Appeal decided that Blair wasn't required by law to answer questions today, the battle for effective government continues. I will post the judgment on my website when it is available. Now I need to see whether I can use other routes to make Ministers answer questions.
3:43 pm

Lib Dem poll rating up

Gravatar Liberal Democrat support has risen to 23% according to the latest Guardian/ICM opinion poll. The Conservatives are on 37% and Labour is on 31%.
2:46 pm

Civil servants vs the Government

Gravatar A colleague has just very kindly informed me that I have an unexpected day off next Wednesday, courtesy of my fellow union members. Indeed, the result of our strike ballot was pretty conclusive, with 61% voting for strike action, and 78% voting for action short of a strike. The date of the strike? 31 January, yes, you guessed it, deadline day for self assessment Tax Returns (you've seen the
1:56 pm

After 9 years of Labour Government - Whitehall is "not fit for purpose"

Gravatar Who says so? Ans: The Government (actually Audit Commission) See the link.
12:43 pm

Terms of engagement

Gravatar American conservative writers tend to insist on the uniform use of the term terrorist as opposed to any substitute, not, they tend to argue, because terrorist is insufficiently pejorative, but because the use of insurgent or militant is not accurate, and terrorist is the only term which can therefore be adequately employed. Which does rather the beg the question of whether they actually think that terms like feminazi , are strictly appropriate. In unrelated news, the new bloke who sits next to me in the office has an amusing piece in the Times Law ...
12:22 pm

What are the chances of...?

Gravatar An excellent use of new media to get the Liberal Democrat message on crime across.
12:07 pm

Liberal Democrats back up to 23%

Gravatar In the latest Guardian/ICM Poll the Liberal Democrats are back up to 23% after a couple of bad polls. There is always the chance the previous polls were 'rogue polls' and this is were the Liberal Democrats were, or the Liberal Democrats really did improve by 5% in a month.
11:13 am

Show us the money

Gravatar Have Plaid Cymru run out of policy ideas? I only ask because all they seem to want to talk about at the moment is how they and other parties are paying for the election campaign. Actually, the whole tone of Adam Price and his cronies in this little PR stunt is one of annoying smugness. They had a £300,000 legacy from somebody in London, paid off all their debts and invested in new campaign techniques. They are alright so they feel that they can taunt the others by asking why they have not had the same good fortune. It ...
10:48 am

It's Not That I'm Proud

Gravatar Email received today from the head of Junction11, the student radio station my friend and I broadcast on once a week: It was brought to my attention that your Monday show did not comply with the rules that we must follow as a broadcasting service. Having listened to your show, I must stress that it contained several breaches of our licensing contract and was highly inappropriate in places.
10:37 am

Liberal Islam

Gravatar Islam has a long tradition of liberal thought, including Ibn Khaldun. Today, we only really hear of the extremists and militants, the state sponsored violence in the Middle East and the extremist terrorists who use Islam as an excuse get all the press. I was heartened to read an article by Michael Totten on TCS about a [...]
10:25 am

Spring Conference Agenda

Gravatar Below is the Agenda for the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference in Harrogate which will take place between 2-4 March. I only have the Agenda for the main conference at the moment, hopefully the training and fringe information will be available soon. The Trident debate will take place between 11.10am and 12.45pm on Saturday.
9:38 am

Together we can cut crime

Gravatar On the doorsteps, across the breakfast tables and at the local pub crime in general, and antisocial behaviour, in particular remains one of the biggest issues in Britain today. As a member of the crime policy working group, I know that much thought, consultation and contemplation have gone into this process and the resulting policy paper is soundly liberal and democratic. We propose real action at a national level and acting to cut crime where we are in power locally. Violent crime is rising, anti-social behaviour is still a serious problem, and our prisons are overflowing. Labour have ...
9:30 am

Makes you proud...

Gravatar So we are all supposed to be environmentally aware? After all what kind of person would deliberately pollute and litter a heritage coast? Errr.... Brits would. Personally the police should be allowed to arrest the lot of them for theft- for, despite the history of wreckers and smugglers in the South West, this brazen display is pretty disgusting. Makes all the sanctimonious drivel about Jade Goody seem rather hypocritical really. Still, at least they are cleaning up Rat Boy's housing scheme at the Byker wall: it is even being listed, which will obviously transform the lives ...
9:25 am

Wreckers Rights

Gravatar The coast-line of the far South West of England has long been a treacherous place for vessals in a storm.  In past centuries locals would light fires to lure ships onto the rocks in bad weat...
8:10 am

Where were the police ?

Gravatar Amid all the furore and fuss about the scavenging of "plunder" washed up on the beaches of Dorset and Devon from the stricken ship "The MSC Napoli", one question keeps coming to mind. Where were the police ? If the ship does contain dangerous chemicals, shouldn't the police have been there to keep people away whilst people stealing items from the beach should also have been dealt with. Now the police are there, but for goodness sake, why did it take 24 hours for them to notice ?
7:51 am

Media round-up: We Can Cut Crime launch

Gravatar A quick round-up of some of the coverage for the We Can Cut Crime campaign launch: BBC The Guardian The Independent Politics.co.uk East Anglian Daily Time Yorkshire Post Campaigning We Can Cut Crime
7:30 am

Day 2212: DOCTOR WHO: Immortal Beloved

Gravatar Sunday: Apparently, the BONES of a WHALE are to be put on display in the National History Museum. No, it’s not Sir Mr the Merciless on Mr Andy Marr’s sofa! THAT was mostly jolly good, with a strong riposte to the polling figures and the comeback to questions about Lebit was good, once past the groan-inducing “Lembit is Lembit”, but one tip for Sir M: try not to dismiss the idea of a referendum on Scottish independence because people aren’t interested in “yet more constitutional activity”, just after you’ve called for a new constitutional settlement for the whole country. ...
7:15 am

Ship-wreckers' "sheer greed" - Time for the spirit of Hawker?

Gravatar The Dorset Echo reports a local Branscombe policeman saying that "Around 50 BMW motorbikes were carried off the beach." I have great sympathy with my old friend Mark Clark, who is spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The BBC reports: MCA spokesman Mark Clark said had warnings not to touch the containers been followed, they would have been removed and the beach returned to normality
1:15 am

The Jam Reading '78. Self Indulgence Time

Gravatar Grace is reading Stories We Could Tell by Tony Parsons It talks about Reading '77 - my first festival - when I was a bit lot of a hippie. Parsons was more punk, and there is apparently a lot about Punk. In 1978 I was back at Reading, less dismissive of Punk and New Wave, and positively loving The Jam. I went on to see The Jam and Paul Weller a few times, and to work with Paul Weller on the White
12:40 am

Fit for purpose viewing

Gravatar Excellent, attention-grabbing video here on behalf of the Lib Dems’ ‘We Can Cut Crime’ campaign. There’s one they forgot, though… Chances of John Reid becoming the next Labour leader - one in 13. Unlucky for some.
12:21 am

New Leader for Lib Dem MEPs

Gravatar The British Liberal Democrat Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have elected Andrew Duff as their Leader. Andrew takes over from Diana Wallis who has been elected as a Vice-President of the European Parliament.
12:20 am

At least it’s over now

Gravatar “Unpaid Christmas bills, nasty weather, and failed New Year's resolutions combine to make January 22 the gloomiest in the calendar.”They forgot to add: attending a meeting of Full Council. And I was lucky today - owing to a clashing work meeting, I missed half of it. I don’t think I’ve ever yet enjoyed a meeting of Full Council. The curious thing is that, though there are rarely any genuine

Previous days:

Monday 22nd January 2007, Sunday 21st January 2007, Saturday 20th January 2007, Friday 19th January 2007, Thursday 18th January 2007, Wednesday 17th January 2007