Saturday 27th January 2007

11:47 pm

Tidy desk

Gravatar This was my desk photographed this week. For anybody who knows what my desk usually looks like, this will be an extreme shock (possibly needing medical attention). There is going to be a reshuffle in the office soon (more people, smaller desks!). I hope to keep my desk like this until that happens (and beyond). By the way, the poster on the wall was from when I was Jonathan Fryer's agent in
11:36 pm

Leave Them Kids Alone

Gravatar A site campaigning against the fingerprinting of children at school.
11:16 pm

Dial M For Merthyr

Gravatar More Welsh film titles than you can shake a stick at.
11:01 pm

Did illegal eavesdropping change the course of the Lib Dem leadership election?

Gravatar No. But thinks it is worth asking the question.
10:56 pm

Curry and Quiz

Gravatar At half time my team was in the lead. Named the Chain Gang, it included two mayors, one deputy mayor and two past mayors, so we should have been invincible. But the curry from Monty's at the interval was good, and we lost focus. To our chagrin it was the Deputy Mayor's team who won in the end. I put a brave face on it and rewarded the eight members with their prize bottles of...
10:45 pm

No. 10's secret e-mail system

Gravatar Guido Fawkes and BlairWatch have the details. I don't know how shocked we should be, but it all helps to add to the sense of crisis engulfing this government. And that has to be a good thing.
10:40 pm

Saying Goodbye

Gravatar Losing a parent or close friend is tough, but I can't imagine what it must be like for a child. And yet people have all kinds of misconceptions about how children deal with bereavement, from "It's better to let them forget" to "Children don't suffer from depression". Jacqueline Wilson has explored some of these issues in two of her books: The Cat Mummy and Vicky Angel, so it was great...
10:39 pm

Turning off The Italian Job off with five minutes to go

Gravatar I've just watched the Italian Job on one of the movie channels this evening. Can I stress now, I watched the original version, not the dreadful and quite awful American remake. Can I say quite clearly. I love the film. I saw it when I was about eight and and was entranced and would rate it as one of my top ten films still. However, as I watch the film, every time, enthralled and smiling throughout it, I am aware of my impending gloom at the end with the famous cliffhanger. It reminds me of when I go ...
9:56 pm

How Lonesome a Life Without Nerve Gas

Gravatar The latest podcast on Steve Eley’s Escape Pod has to be the best story of the series to date. For the uninitiated, Escape Pod is a weekly sci-fi audio magazine. It features the best in new fiction and spans the fantasy and science-fiction genres. This week’s story “How Lonesome a Life Without Nerve Gas” was written [...]
9:52 pm

Is Karma catching up with John Reid?

Gravatar I've been feeling a little bit sorry for John Reid this week (not a phrase I'm ever likely to need again). The Home Office is, as normal, blundering from one cock up to another. The most serious being the string of stories about paedophiles being allowed to stay out in the community to rape and pillage because the prisons are full to overflowing (again). As Richard points out, this crunch has
9:18 pm

Leafletting and Lottery

Gravatar Today's Focus-distribution-related excitement focused on the Bland Road and Carr Avenue areas, where four of us ventured this lunchtime. No angry dogs to report, although several tricky gates, and one person who was moving things from his house to his car, and had his car radio on so loud that for a moment I thought the Radio 1 Roadshow had come to Prestwich. After coming down from the
9:06 pm

No New Trident - Support the Amendment

Gravatar No New Trident has the full text of the draft motion on Trident for Spring Conference. I reproduce below the proposed amendment. If you would like to support it please leave a message on the No New Trident site. Liberal Democrat Spring Conference, Harrogate, 2nd-4th March 2007 Proposal for amendment to motion on Future of Britain’s Nuclear Deterrent Insert in paragraph (v), after “... expertise and materials” at end: “but believes that the UK’s best defence against such threats lies in strong alliances with other democratic states;” Insert in paragraph (vi), after “... cease ...
8:57 pm

The morning was dark and, above all, early

Gravatar A very early start this morning, for the journey to Royston in Hertfordshire, where I was the guest assessor on an East of England candidate development day. Of course, living in South London (bring your passport, we promise not to tease your accent...), this meant a 5.45 a.m. alarm, and a dash for the 7.52 a.m. train from Kings Cross in order to make the 9.15 start. Far too early for this night
8:00 pm

Watching PMQs

Gravatar I enthused about the Iraq day of activities earlier this week on the basis of reading reports, and hearing extracts of PMQs on Radio 4. Now I have seen it for myself.
7:02 pm

John Reid: is he set to ban Lego?

Gravatar My sources tell me the Home Office sent a very senior staff member to Hamleys to buy a job lot of Lego this morning and since then the staff have busy playing with Lego bricks working out which, if any, should be banned after these shocking photos came to light.
6:39 pm

Voicemail tapping - that’s so 1999

Gravatar Yesterday we saw Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire go to jail for voicemail tapping. When the story first came out I remembered something that I did 7 years ago. A hall mate Lisa was on BT Cellnet, the same network as me. Taking a guess that she wouldn’t have changed her default pin I called [...]
6:35 pm

Google cracks down on the Googlebomb

Gravatar Google has announced a change to its algorithm to combat that beloved technique of letting the world know what you think of a person - googlebombing. Probably good news for people actually searching for information about ‘itiot’, ‘prat’ or ‘lying bastard’, but one more method for bloggers to amuse themselves is now gone…
6:33 pm

Thoughts on the gay adoption row by a "long-suffering Anglican"

Gravatar I am delighted to see that Alex Wilcock is on exceptionally good form at the moment, particularly on the subject of religion and equality. I cheerfully accept his description of me as a "long-suffering Anglican". In case, I overdid making my previous posting on this subject "Vicar-proof" (able to be read by my local vicar without spoiling his tea), I would reiterate that I fully support the "
6:21 pm

In defence of Liberty

Gravatar I had rather hoped to be home by now but due to the rather bizarre management of Newport railway station I missed my train. They spent the afternoon playing musical platforms, whereby they change train destinations at whim and do not give adequate notice to the passengers. Liberal Democrat Voice has featured Baroness Sue Miller's attempt to put through a bill which would repeal Government measures to prevent public demonstrations outside Parliament. Rather unsurprisingly the Government opposed this proposal and for good measure said that will soon be announcing other locations where they intend to curtail the right to ...
6:19 pm

Westminster Hour: hear me on the radio on Sunday evening

Gravatar I'll be appearing again on The Westminster Hour on Radio 4, at 10pm this Sunday evening.
6:05 pm

Privilege Defamation and the Times Higher Education Supplement

Gravatar I was quite surprised to be libelled in the THES. It is not the sort of journal that one expects to be libelled in. The public voice of David Southall, Jonathan Gornall has written criticising me for the use of Parliamentary Privilege to speak about Southall. The general criticism is that by using the Bill of Rights I have prevented court action that would enable him to clear his name. It
5:50 pm


Gravatar …It’s Richard’s birthday tomorrow (my beloved, and Millennium’s better-known daddy), but he doesn’t like anyone to know. Tiptoes quietly away from computer… …Trips and falls with a yell because my vision is impaired and I cannot see… …Realises Richard’s out so I’m still technically stealthy. The one time I was able to organise a variety of birthday party for him was by inviting some people round to watch a few videos and DVDs in May 2004. He didn’t notice that it was on the day I’d worked out was his thirty-three and a thirdth birthday. ...
5:47 pm

Are all footballers money grabbing prima donnas ?

Gravatar If someone described all gay people or all Jews or all bald people as lazy, greedy, prima donnas, indeed levelled any sort of insult on a blanket basis, most people would be up in arms over it. So I often find it odd that so people hurl the insult at footballers without a hesitation. Reading THIS story about reading footballer Ulises De La Cruz should show just how some footballers take great care of the money they earn and use it for good causes. In this case, De La Cruz is using his wealth to make a real difference to ...
5:01 pm

Niles gets his first Abel & Cole box

Gravatar Alex Foster has now entered to world of Abel & Cole after reading some of my postings (and finding out that they have discovered Nottingham...). Skippy uses Riverford, we must compare some carrots...
4:27 pm

It's Not Worth It

Gravatar It's not worth standing up for what you believe in and taking up the fight, no matter how noble or right you might believe you are. Those in a position of power will avoid dialogue and conversation wherever possible and they will always win. Much better to keep your head down and out of the way - the oppressive always win because they're so damn good at it and because the wider public will never
4:05 pm

Holocaust Memorial Day

Gravatar Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, and it’s being marked in Nottingham with a large number of stalls and activities in Market Square.  As part of that, councillors were asked if they’d like to make readings, and I volunteered. I spent last night googling for some suitable text that talked about gay victims of holocaust - like [...]
3:28 pm

The President of The Gambia can cure Aids! a day!

Gravatar Fantastic news! The President of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, can cure Aids! Ben Goldacre reports in the Guardian: "The cure is a day's treatment" he says: "asthma, five minutes". HIV and Aids cases can be treated on Thursdays, and within three days the person should be tested again. "I can tell you that he/she will be negative." Job done! All is not what it seems, however: Gambian bloggers have
3:15 pm

3 black-headed gulls, 2 Robins, 1 Magpie and a Bluetit

Gravatar There, we've done our bit for the Big Birdwatch weekend. That was the count of birds by my daughter and I during a 30 minute birdwatch at Speenhamland School, Newbury this morning. (That followed some intensive bird-feeder manufacturing and bird collage sticking.) We heard a lot more birds, but, as someone remarked, they haven't survived for millions of years without being a bit canny and hiding
2:03 pm

The Litvinenko murder

Gravatar So – we now have a public suspect in the Litvinenko murder story and it looks like the Russians aren’t keen for him to be extradited. John Reid promised publicly from the Despatch Box of the House of Commons when I questioned him that he would pursue this without fear or favour. So - I expect diplomatic relations to become extremely strained as he pushed the Russians and keeps his word!
1:34 pm

PC Yvonne Fletcher

Gravatar It is good that she has not been forgotten by the government. The written answer to a question I asked recently is linked. Although one can relax to some extent about diplomats not paying the congestion charge the events with Yvonne Fletcher is not one to let drop. It is good that police officers have visited Libya recently.
1:07 pm

Air Travel - Part of the problem and part of the solution

Gravatar Is air travel going to remain such a huge part of the global warming problem. Possibly not if one can believe a couple of interesting pieces in today's Guardian which can be found here and here. Up until now the general consensus has been that air travel is bad. It is not that the emissions per person/mile are particularly bad as such it is more that air travel affords people the opportunity to travel vast distances in a very short period of time. Short haul flights are relatively more damaging because of the emissions caused by take off and ...
12:45 pm

Those Full Prisons

Gravatar So, the prisons are full to bursting and the Government is in a muddle. How predictable was this? Well, this Home Office paper from 2002 sets it all out in glorious PDF black and white. This shows us that there is absolutely no mystery in the fact that we have exceeded the [...]
12:12 pm

Holocaust Memorial Day

Gravatar Today is Holocaust Memorial Day-a day to look backwards with regret and forwards with hope. This year's theme is the dignity of difference and how that slogan can become a reality across the world. I have been proud to have been involved in Holocaust Memorial Day for several years now and tonight am leading an event in Stibbard (6.30pm at the Methodist Church), a small rural community in Norfolk. We have been encouraged by the local interest and hope that community and political leaders will be supportive too. So why is Holocaust Memorial Day important? What are the Holocaust Memorial ...
11:37 am

Raising the profile of homelessness

Gravatar The alarm went off at 5am this morning so I could get to Gloucester by 6am for the final session of 'Insomnia 2007' - an event organised by the Diocese of Gloucester to highlight the issues of homelessness at home and abroad. Having felt quite virtuous at getting up so early to do this, I soon felt more like a fraud when I joined about 200 teenagers who had been up all night in the cathedral. The event was partly about raising funds for homelessness projects, but also about raising awareness, especially for the Bishop, two other ...
10:52 am

Tory Coalition?

Gravatar ConservativeHome has floated the idea of a coalition in its latest online poll. This has drawn some predictable wailing and gnashing of teeth, but also some interesting and funny comments.
9:49 am

Does Ming owe his position to the man jailed yesterday - should it have been Simon?

Gravatar Does Ming owe his position to the man jailed yesterday? An interesting article from Political Betting. As someone who is and was and always will be deeply disappointed that Simon Hughes didn't win, this confirms what many suspected. But I have to console myself with some of the funny memories from working on his campaign. Like the woman in Lembit's constituency who seemed rather confused when I asked her who she was voting for.........when it became tortuous I asked her "Are you a Lib Dem?" "No dear" said she, "I'm a Baptist!"
9:38 am

Adoption. Forget Catholics vs Gays, its actually about the children.

Gravatar There is a bit of a furore over the Catholic Church's stance over gay* adoption. As you may be aware the Government has, rightly, passed a law banning discrimination against gay* people and provided a more equal society for goods, services and also things like adoption. First there was a bit of a row over boarding houses and now the debate has turned to adoption, the Catholic Church say it is incompatible with their beliefs to allow a gay couple to adopt through one of their adoption agencies.
9:28 am

Folkestone Holocaust Memorial Ceremony

Gravatar I attended an excellent Holocaust Memorial Ceremony at the Channel School in Folkestone last night. It's great that this event has become a regular part of the Folkestone calendar and I want to pay tribute to the hard work that was put in by Zoe Bowden and her colleagues on the staff at Channel School and the pupils of Channel, Folkestone School for Girls and the Harvey Grammar School who participated last night. It was a moving tribute to those who lost their lives in one of the greatest crimes against humanity and a warning about how the ...
9:26 am

Jo O'Meara - A career in tatters ?

Gravatar A year ago Jo O'Meara, ex singer with S Club 7, had just finished appearing on the BBC series "Just the Two of Us", had successfully relaunched herself as a singer and was building her career back up. One year on, what a change. Her grinning and laughing on last night's eviction program on Big Brother whilst she was confronted with the clips of her being involved in bullying Shilpa Shetty made her seem so shallow and cold. I know she explained that she laughed as a nervous reaction when she didn't know what to do, but that actually ...
9:18 am

NICE : Won't give life saving drugs but will give drug addicts shopping vouchers

Gravatar Remember when NICE (the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) told us that they couldn't license Herceptin and other drugs because of the costs ? Isn't it a massive contradiction now that they are suggesting giving shopping vouchers to drug addicts if they can kick the habit ? What next, cash lump sums for reformed bank robbers or a free DVD for a burglar that can stop burgling ? Seriously though, I know drug addiction is a serious problem and need new and innovative ideas to halp tackle it, but NICE have contradicted themselves so much over ...
9:07 am

Home Office Quiz: Name one thing the Home Office does do properly ?

Gravatar Another day, another Home Office cock up. The latest is the new that the Home Office have failed to enforce overseas travel bans on 147 drug traffickers. Read about it HERE. I know I shouldn't, but this is one of those cases where I feel a bit sorry for John Read because again, this is not of his doing. Those at fault are his predecessors who like him, talked tough, but did little other than that. At least the mistakes are now being found and can be rectified. The question for me is why did none of ...
8:07 am

Absolutely gigantic jellyfish orgasm in House of Commons

Gravatar Hat-tip to Recess Monkey and William Hickey of the Daily Express, and, yes, I know I am slow on the uptake, but this is a beaut. It was kindly recorded verbatim by Hansard without the usual "polishing": Mr. David Curry (Skipton and Ripon) (Con):The local area agreements offer important opportunities and possibilities. As the hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport said, there is bound to be debate
7:20 am

Rail Noise update

Gravatar Update from Network Rail regarding noise disturbances at the north end of the Tay Rail Bridge (note Palmers are their contractors): "As you are probably now aware Palmers have been working hard at building additional “sound- proofing” around 2 machines in the yard. "They are both being used to deliver/recover grit and air to/from the bridge. "Palmers have also carried out fairly thorough sound level checks which are all very low. "Perhaps the most important factors to be aware of however are the following : "Palmers have commissioned a single super silenced machine to replace the ...
1:58 am

And now a petition to sack Patsy Hewitt

Gravatar Maudesley Emergency Clinic... do you need another reason
1:48 am

Lambeth Labour fielded fake candidates

Gravatar The Southwark town hall team are on fire this week: A leaked exchange on Labour’s on-line discussion forums includes a claim from one insider saying: “Two ‘grassroots’ campaigns (were) put up by concerned locals to unseat Lib-Dems… Actually the campaigns were not grassroots at all, the Local Education Action Plan being a slick front, a stalking horse put up to get Labour back in.” Council Leader Nick Stanton has commented: “Yet again the shoddy and underhand tactics of the Labour Party have been exposed. In Birmingham they had a vote-rigging factory. In Lambeth they fielded fake ...
12:31 am

Labour spin doctor caught fibbing

Gravatar My old Labour rival from Faraday, Princeling of Darkness Paul Bates, has been caught manufacturing a non-story by the Town Hall team. It seems he got in touch with the local papers last week to complain about the process involved in appointing a new Director of Legal Services where part of the interview involved a dinner to see how candidates interacted with other senior staff and Councillors. In Paul's complaint he suggested no Labour Councillor had been involved in the dinner, but it now transpires that both his colleague Althea Smith was in attendance and that Labour were informed ...
12:07 am

Lib Dems winning here

Gravatar Well o.k., it was only the Mayor of Southwark's quiz, and as happens every year the team of very suspiciously young Council employees hiding near the back of the room actually won... pipping us at the post. But our Lib Dem team came joint second with the Mayor's team... seven points ahead of Labour. In the process nearly £1,000 was raised for the volunteer centre being sponsored by the event. The very senior Council Officer who chanted "You're not singing anymore" across the room to the politicians, as the victors went to claim their prizes shall remain nameless... we ...

Previous days:

Friday 26th January 2007, Thursday 25th January 2007, Wednesday 24th January 2007, Tuesday 23rd January 2007, Monday 22nd January 2007, Sunday 21st January 2007