Sunday 28th January 2007

10:59 pm

The Past From Above and JJ's return

Gravatar A busy weekend to finish a very busy week. But all good - the Spurs won of course, which helps. Jermaine Jenas made a triumphant return from injury and Aaron Lennon was excellent. To be fair, a pacy, tricky winger like Azza is always going to look disproportionately amazing against a lower league side. JJ really made a difference to our midfield and Michael Dawson was a rock as always. Talking of rocks, Ricardo Rocha had a very assured first game. Lee was very good again too and Radek Cerny deputised very ably, as he always has done. ...
10:07 pm

Historic day for Northern Ireland

Gravatar Well, that's been said before. But the 90% vote by Sinn Fein delegates to support policing in Northern Ireland really is a milestone. Quite incredibly, Gerry Adams actually had a good word to say about Ian Paisley in the Observer today: "he believed Ian Paisley was genuine in wanting to build a better future for everyone in the North of Ireland." Blimey. All something you could not have imagined
9:58 pm

Haringey's CCTV: could do better

Gravatar On Monday night (29th January) the report of my scrutiny review into the borough's CCTV goes before the Overview & Scrutiny Committee. Unfortunately it means I also miss a governors meeting at Fortismere, but that's unavoidable from time to time. A short quote from the report covers the situation well: "CCTV coverage across the Borough is variable. A particular cause for concern is the CCTV system used in the shopping areas of Muswell Hill and Crouch End, where coverage is clearly inadequate." Chairing the review has been very interesting and we have come up ...
8:48 pm


Gravatar Sunday 28th January 2007 - 2007 is the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All. Our commitment towards Europe's disabled citizens goes hand in hand with an approach to disability based not on the concept of passive assistance, but on the idea of integration and active participation in economic and social life. In line with this approach, I, and my colleagues in the European Parliament,
8:40 pm

Here's one for my pals - into doting granny mode!

Gravatar Just to prove I do have a life which goes beyond sister in law just sent me this lovely pic of my daughter Lara and granddaughter Sumaiyah (who is named after the first Muslim martyr.....lets hope she follows after her in name only!) I have been struggling with sorting out pix in picasa etc and have reached the limits of my understanding.... Sumaiyah means little arrow, so I hope she will grow up to be just that, fighting for what is right. Her mother, who I have yet to persuade to join the Lib Dems, but whose ...
8:30 pm

How Chris Huhne won the leadership election

Gravatar Last year's Lib Dem leadership election was noticeably light on policy discussion, but two issues did achieve some prominence. On each of them the party now supports the line taken by Chris Huhne and opposed by Ming Campbell during that election. The first issue is environmental taxation, which forms the centrepiece of the new economic policy adopted at last year's Conference in Brighton. Chris Huhne supported this strongly during the leadership election, but Ming was far less convinced - as I pointed out at the time. The second issue was the setting of a deadline for the withdrawal of British ...
8:20 pm

Niagra in 1911 - before global warming set in.........

Gravatar A pal sent me these stunning photos - will we ever see the like again?
7:19 pm

Why are stupid people obsessed with going on TV top show people how stupid they are ?

Gravatar No, this isn't another Big Brother story, although the title could equally apply to Big Brother. No, in this case, it is just an example of the stupidity of people that I have just witnessed on the satellite channel "Bravo". In some poorly edited "World's worst top ten holidays from hell ever" type program, presented by the equally awful Tara (I'm battling out with Jade Goody to be the least talented person on TV) Palmer-Tompkinson, I was furious with anger at what one man had to say. This man, who was furious with his tour operator, moaned that ...
7:18 pm

6 Weird Things About Me

Gravatar Jackart has tagged me to come up with 6 weird things about me: I've got a tendency to make inappropriate jokes... well, all the time. Highlights from last week include calling Catholics perverts and saying that I piss myself laughing when the sign language guy comes up on BBC News 24. It's not because I believe these things, it's because I think they're funny... honest. I've got a thing about
7:00 pm

Day 2218: Bright Green Maps

Gravatar Saturday: We watched a television programme last night called “Comedy Map of Britain”. It was jolly good, with Mr Alan Whicker taking us on a journey of clips and anecdotes down the M4 motorway and linking places to famous (and not so famous) comedy people and stories. But the best bit was the EXCITING MAP which was a fun piece of CGI, which stands for COLOURED IN GREEN. I have MISSED seeing colourful green maps ever since the BBC weather people decided to turn their weather maps that nasty brown colour to indicate that GLOBAL WARMING has INCINERATED ...
6:53 pm

Sunday Sunday

Gravatar Today's leaflet-arama has been fairly intense. A group of us were out this morning, and were split in half so that I actually have no earthly idea which bits of the ward the other half did. I know that we did Fairfax Road and the surrounding streets. I came back then and, with lunch in between, did Mountside Crescent, Arthur / Herbert / Mellor Streets, and Church Drive, partly with the help of
6:12 pm

Iraq and Graffiti

Gravatar Actually Graffiti and Iraq, really. We did one of our traditional door knocking sessions this morning. The most frequently raised issue was Graffiti, but Iraq was the second most frequently raised issue. The feeling was generally positive which bodes well for the next local elections. share my view that Labour cannot afford an early general election. The question, of
5:46 pm

Politician's charter

Gravatar Stephen Tall has an important link on his site to a petition which seeks to standardise letterboxes. Designed to make life easier for politicians, the background information says that delivering to the public is an important part of political engagement. We call for legislation to make it easier for voters to be engaged by requiring all letter boxes to be: 1. Located at a clear height 2. Easy to post through 3. Designed to allow leaflets to be posted without destroying them 4. Designed to protect people's hands when posting 5. Dog proof ...
5:38 pm

SEEDA's Leadership Academy - A Drop in the Ocean

Gravatar I've just come across this article on the BBC Kent News website. Christina Hartshorn is a former colleague of mine at the University of Durham Foundation for Small and Medium Enterprise Development before it was vandalised by the current leadership of Durham Business School. Although I am pleased to see that a leadership academy is being set up I have to say that I think the budget is tiny and the staff rather small (four advisers) given the large numbers of SMEs in the South East region and the real local need for management development and ...
5:24 pm

Letterboxes fighting back? There's a song there somewhere....

Gravatar At the risk of craven me-tooery, accompanied by multiple hat-tippery, I would just point out that this Number Ten petition about letterboxes ought not to pass without mention of that wonderful song in the Liberator Song book called "Letterboxes", which was written by Chris Young and goes (to the tune of "Little Boxes"),in part: Letterboxes on the doorfronts, Letterboxes going snippy-snappy;
5:13 pm

Congestion Charges Proposal

Gravatar My emails this week have began largely like this - as have phone calls and conversations in the Post Office, pub and over my Mum's birthday lunch... Hi, Can I just say that as a resident of Prestwich, I am extremely concerned about this revenue generating measure being proposed for charging the middle classes for using their car to and from work. Having used the metro link daily in both
5:07 pm

Full Council meeting last Wednesday: Good For Your Health?

Gravatar It was the Full Council meeting last Wednesday 24 January. A relatively low-key and mostly uncontentious meeting this tme. A victory for the Luddite Party when the Chair opened by announcing that laptops etc. were banned cos they allegedly interfered with the electrics. Had my 15 seconds of fame, as all eyes turned to my iBook. Put it away, under protest. Healthcare is the big issue in Lewisham at the moment, or perhaps I'm biased as Vice-Chair of the Council's Healthier Communities Select Committee. Our work includes trying to scrutinise Lewisham PCT as it goes ...
4:52 pm

Day 2217: Elephants of History

Gravatar Friday: Sir Isaac Newton: hangs about under a tree waiting for sticky buns to fall – conclusion, he is clearly an elephant. Julius Caesar: Famous nose, trompled about all over the Alps – obviously an elephant. Professor Albert Einstein: fluffy hair on top, wrinkly skin, sticky out ears, very intelligent – elephant. Buddha: lives in India, enormous arse – elephant. Sir Winston Churchill: drunk, fought big war – actually NOT an elephant AT ALL, probably some sort of RHINOCEROS!
4:51 pm

Ming: Blair should go now.

Gravatar On the Sunday Edition this morning Ming called on Blair to go now.
4:28 pm

Something fishy in the Reids

Gravatar LibertyCat: Is Dr Reid still surviving? Femme-de-Resistance: It says here that 'Judge has thrown him a lifeline'... [Reads] He's still there but floundering LibertyCat: Ah, he has been 'slapped with a wet fish' [NB: the idea of fish-slapping appears to have originated with Monty Python] Femme-de-Resistance: More he's being slapped with a variety of fish already with more fish to come... so he's
4:24 pm

Letterbox Law

Gravatar Stephen Tall points out a very good Downing Street petition regarding letterboxes, and the problems therein. May I add to the list of gripes; - Gravel Drive/Low Letterbox/Yorkshire Terrier combinations- Pooly marked out flowerbeds (which are hard to see at 5am in the dark until you're coming out the other side of them)
4:20 pm

I'm a good Google

Gravatar One of the things about being an elected politician at any level is that people often, for good reasons or bad, want to do some digging on you. In our modern world, this means they Google, and once to twice a week somone lands on this site having googled me. I'm fortunate to have an unusual name, so giving me a good google will return things that are actually about me (with one or two noteable exceptions). The thing about this of course, if that if you say something on the web, you can't hide from it (believe me, ...
4:15 pm

Reid is getting Judged

Gravatar {Judge} It amazes me sometimes the lack of political skill shown by politicians. When, a few months ago, John Reid critised a judge for being 'soft', I don't think the magnitude of his error really occurred to anyone. The Judge in question was simply following home office sentencing guidelines, which mean that the minimum tarrif, having taken into account a guilty plea and time on remand. To then have the architect of those policies publicy join what amounted to a tabloid smear campaign would have stung. At the time, I thought Redi was being ignorant andpopulist, ...
4:08 pm

More MMR muppetry

Gravatar This article in today's Sunday Times about a Muslim doctor who has called on the faithful to shun the MMR vaccine because it is not halal raised my blood pressure. First because it is yet another example of the religious putting the purity of their adherence to a group of medieval rules ahead of the lives of others just because their imaginary friend told them to. Catholic Church and condoms
3:48 pm

For anyone who's ever delivered a leaflet

Gravatar Now here’s a petition to No. 10 with which we can all sympathise: Delivering to the public is an important part of political engagement. We call for legislation to make it easier for voters to be engaged by requiring all letter boxes to be: Located at a clear height Easy to post through Designed to allow leaflets to be posted without destroying them Designed to protect people's hands when
3:46 pm

Reading cruise into last 16

Gravatar Reading breezed into the last 16 of the FA Cup yesterday by beating Birmingham 3-2. From what I could see this looked to be a fair reflection of the game although Steve Bruce certainly tried to imply that Reading were somewhat lucky to score two goals with their first two attempts. On the other hand Reading did field a pretty much all changed team with at least six players who recently would be classed as second string and two who were returning from injury. Reading do not have much history in this competition with the highlight being ...
3:46 pm

Steps at Benvie Road and Botanic Gardens ...

Gravatar I have received complaints about the poor state of the pathway and steps leading from Benvie Road (see right and below) to Lochee Road, and have contacted the Planning & Transportation Department of the City Council about this. I have also written to the Secretary of the University of Dundee expressing concern at news reports (for example, click on headline above to view) about the future of the Botanic Gardens. Having previously lived next door to the Gardens (at Vernonholme) , I am only too well aware that ...
3:40 pm

When silence speaks louder than words

Gravatar Compare and contrast the reaction of David Cameron to the two dominant news items of the last week: On the silly furore surrounding Channel 4’s Celebrity Big Brother: “I completely abhor racism. Everyone has got a responsibility here. There's a great regulator called the off button and I think we should use it.”On the gay adoption row: “…”It’s unsurprising the Tory leader felt happy commenting on
3:37 pm

Angela Burns: Welsh Tory candidate about to be dumped by members

Gravatar Via Peter Black comes this story of trouble for Welsh Assembly candidate Angela Burns: Former Welsh Conservative chairman Sir Eric Howells says he would support an unofficial Tory candidate in May’s assembly election. He says members from outside have taken over the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire party, and he and others would back an unnamed rival [...]
3:27 pm

Day 2216: The Beast and His Armies Shall Rise From the Pit and Complain a Bit

Gravatar Thursday: I am sure that you all remember Mr Mad Larry, who is one of the writers of “About Time” and creator of Faction Paradox, the time-travelling carnival of scary bone-mask-wearing people. A LOT of his ideas seem to have MYSTERIOUSLY ended up in the new series of Doctor Who: from a TIME WAR against the Time Lords to ancient and terrible SOMETHINGS buried in the centre of the Earth. So you would think he has a lot to GRIPE about. And so does he! He has written a DIARY of his very own in order to tell everyone ...
2:11 pm

An Inconvenient Truth.

Gravatar Last Night I joined some of our local party members at the home of Alun Wyburn-Powell and his son Christopher for a screening of Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth". Al Gore you remember came a very close second in the last US presidential election. Al has been a passionate campaigner for environmental awareness since college, difficult yet essential in a country where many live in a state of denial. This is a film that everyone should see. The evidence that Al Gore clearly presents is overwhelming, yet he closes by telling us that we do ...
2:02 pm

Day 2215: THAT'S More like it, Sir Mr the Merciless

Gravatar Wednesday: At LAST, some decent news coverage! Sir Mr the Merciless has gone on the attack with a new rallying cry for the Liberal Democrats. Sir M thinks that it is time we had a plan to get our soldiers back from Iraq where Lord Blairimort got them into a horrible disaster. Funnily enough, this sounds a bit FAMILIAR from the leadership contest last year: it is another policy from the BRAIN OF HEWN that has been taken up by our Imperial Leader? This is no BAD thing! It gave Sir Mr the Merciless some much-needed PUNCH to his ...
1:43 pm

"notorious social services paedophile ring"

Gravatar A quote from the Daily Mail (yesterday's article see link). Liam himself said: "There's a lot about my childhood I can't remember. There's a lot I can remember and wish I couldn't. The best I can say about it is that it's over, and that I learned a lot, that will probably make me a better person in the end." He was in and out of Islington's care from the age of two, and witnessed his birth
1:01 pm

Tory 'backs unofficial candidate'

Gravatar The former Welsh Conservative chairman Sir Eric Howells has gone on record to say that he would support an unofficial Tory candidate in May's Assembly election. He believes that members from outside have taken over the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Conservative party, and he and others would back an unnamed rival candidate. I have to say that I am struggling with the concept of a local Conservative Party being taken over by a pro-hunting organisation, but this does not bode well for their prospects in what should be a winnable seat for the Tories. It is no wonder ...
12:56 pm

Tories planning to break election law?

Gravatar The Times has got hold of Conservative advice to local council candidates. They think it shows that Conservatives are planning to flout the law.
12:34 pm

How to explain away any crime, Labour-style

Gravatar In today’s Politics Show interview with Tony Blair, Blair came up with a pretty comprehensive excuse for not investigating a crime: This was all to do with historical events in the past (The Saudi Arabian arms deal corruption investigation being the cause of the quesiton, unsurprisingly.)  So that’s ok, as long as your crime was in the past, [...]
12:01 pm

Blackheath, Lee Green & Lewisham Central Area Forum: 30 March

Gravatar A date for your diaries. The Blackheath, Lee Green & Lewisham [not necessarily in that order] Area Forum will be taking place on March the 20th, from 7:30pm until 9:30pm, at the Lewisham Methodist Church in Albion Way, in Lewisham Central ward. It will be charired by Cllr Mark Bennett (Blackheath). The Agenda for the evening is as follows: 7:30 Introduction 7:35 Presentation on the future of parking and traffic in Lewisham by Darien Goodwin (Head of Transport, Lewisham Council). 7:40 Parking discussion 8:00 Recycling presentation by Green Scene ...
11:52 am

Birds Eye View

Gravatar Today's Wales on Sunday reports that the availability of sites such as Google Earth on the internet is leaving high security sites in Wales open to terrorist attack. They say that detailed photographs and the coordinates of potential targets including Barry's RAF St Athan, arms manufacturers BAE Systems in Usk and civilian sites like Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, are just a click of the mouse away. In addition, using Microsoft's similar Virtual Earth programme, close-up satellite snaps of Wylfa nuclear power station on Anglesey and oil refineries in Milford Haven can be accessed easily. The Welsh Assembly ...
10:38 am

Saturday Night Fever

Gravatar A Judge popped up last week and claimed Torquay town centre is a no-go area because of drunken yobs threatening innocent by-standers.  Where was Judge Cottle 25 years ago when my generation were ...
10:21 am

Loans for peerages: paper trail leads to Tony Blair

Gravatar So says today’s story in the Sunday Telegraph… labour loans for peerages Opposition watch tony blair
10:09 am

Hug a Hejab?

Gravatar Cameron's attempt to include the Muslim community by his crassly-named "crusade for fairness" talks some of the talk of liberal values, but once again fails to walk the walk.
9:59 am

The Times : Tories to flout election cost laws

Gravatar The Time is running a story today that highlight's the Tories aim to spend more than the election expenses laws permit on campaigning for this year's local elections. Read the story HERE. There is a wonderful quote in the story from Hazel (is there a minister more useless than me ?) Blears, saying ; “People will find it unfair that one party can significantly outspend another in this way. This proves the Labour party’s point to Sir Hayden Phillips’s inquiry (into party funding) about the need for annual spending caps.” Of course Labour never complained in the ...
9:59 am

Trouble brewing for Cameron on gay adoption

Gravatar Conservative Home reports that "Cameron's hesitation on Catholic adoption row imperils his faith-based social action agenda". It reminds us that David Davies has already stated that he will vote "against the attempts by the Government to force the Catholic Church to consider placing the very vulnerable children in its care with gay couples." (That is an interesting way of phrasing the point).
9:38 am

‘Fat police’ put children on abuse list

Gravatar “Obesity in itself is not a child protection concern,” he said. “When parents fail to act in their child’s best interests with regard to their weight — for example, if they are enrolled on a behav-ioural treatment session and only get to two out of 10 sessions or if they miss medical appointments — then the obesity becomes a child protection concern.” Dr Alyson Hall, consultant child psychiatrist
9:22 am

Judge John Deed nearing its end, while Midsomer thrives

Gravatar It is always nice to immerse oneself mindlessly in ITV dramas. My favourite is Midsomer Murders closely followed by Taggart and Heartbeat. Dear old Midsomer seems to go from strength to strength, year after year. The last two have been superb. Taggart too, continues to thrill. And I won't have a word said against Heartbeat. Judge John Deed on the BBC has been an absolute corker of a programme.
9:03 am

Has Hillary Clinton lost it?

Gravatar Roger Simon at Politico reports that Hillary Clinton ducked a question about Iraq at an Iowa face-to-face meeting with voters. She didn't mention Iraq once, but mentioned ethanol twice: In her first face-to-face meeting with voters since announcing for president, Hillary Clinton was asked about Iraq and ducked the question. A man, who identified himself as a Gulf War vet, asked the New York
8:29 am

Blair goes under the water again - will he come up again? (Reid comes up for air)

Gravatar Seeing John Reid and Tony Blair at the moment is like observing two drowning men, who take in turns to go under the water (which often appears brown in colour). This week, John Reid has been well and truly under the liquids, struggling to hold his breath. This Sunday, however, the Lord Chief Justice has pulled him up from under the water, by the scruff of the neck, to allow him to gasp some
8:26 am

What is Nick Harvey worried about?

Gravatar I hear from David Grace that those of us interested in the Trident issue were likely to have great fun getting to the 3 simultaneous fringe meetings booked for 8 pm on the Friday of conference. The 3 are: Centre Forum : a presentation (in support of the current party line - well the one declared by Ming, supported by the FPC but still awaiting ratification by conference - coz allegedly in our party our members make policy) by Tim Garden and Nick Harvey; PCA: an open discussion with all viewpoints and some good speakers including Bruce Kent and the ...
4:59 am

Reid with embarassment

Gravatar Another day, another wave of embarassment for John Reid. He is not a man who is very easy to warm to but its hard not to feel a little bit sorry for him as yet another mine explodes under his feet. He has not yet been in the job so long that he could have turned the Home Office round. The problem is that he has not helped himself - by singing from the Daily Mail song book he can hardly complain as the tune gets nastier and nastier. However, the woes of the Home Office go to ...
2:35 am

The end of Blair?

Gravatar Today's Sunday Telegraph story, if true, on Blair's notes and the comments by the Electoral Commission on Cash for Peerages must be the end of Blair
2:23 am

I have something in common with Obama

Gravatar One of the biggest issues in US politics is the question "Is Barack Obama a muslim terrorist trying to get into the White House". Well nobody actually says that, but it is the implication of a number of the stories doing the rounds. The Sunday Times sheds some light on his background today. My parents split when I was very young, I met my mother effectively for the first time when I was 40, and
1:57 am

Handwritten note links Blair to cash for honours ?

Gravatar At least one of the Sunday papers are running a story that the Metropolitan Police have found a hand written note from Tony Blair directly linking the Prime Minister to the cash for honours probe, so says BBC News 24. Read the Sunday Telegraph story HERE. All this whilst the Independent reports that the Electoral Commission are recommending that the Labour Party should be taken to court for other breaches of the law. If this is true then Tony Blair and the Labour Party are in real trouble. We could see an absolute meltdown in this year's local ...
1:16 am

I am listening to... The View

Gravatar I watched Room 101 tonight, with comedian Mark Steel (who it turns out is from just up the road in Swanley) having a go at politicians who try to claim they are into cool bands to get some kudos. At the ripe old age of 46 I should of course be listening to Vera Lynn(Mark Pack tells me that being 45+ puts me one category off being a pensioner in commercial marketing data files). But I have gone to
1:07 am

Has Pakes lost Milton Keynes?

Gravatar Disturbing news has reached us from Labour Home that the Milton Keynes North selection may be in doubt. "At Tuesday's (January 23) NEC organisation sub-committee, it was agreed not to endorse Andrew Pakes as Labour's candidate in Milton Keynes North. The matter will be discussed again in March, following official complaints about the conduct of the hustings meeting. " Although I'm not versed in the Byzantine internal procedures of the Labour party, this sounds pretty serious. I'm extremely surprised to see it reported in public on a Labour website.
12:14 am

In case you thought Britain was still a free liberal democracy

Gravatar On Friday Sue Miller, Shirley Williams and Sarah Ludford were out with other Lib Dem Peers staging a protest about the ban on protests around Parliament which don't have police permission (photo copyright PA, but the posters and leaflets were designed by me, so I claim copyright on them...). The protest was in support of Sue Miller's Public Demonstrations (Repeal) Bill (HoL). The government
12:05 am

Echoes of Vietnam

Gravatar If you don't remember the Vietnam War (I only remember the evacuation of Saigon), you may well remember seeing the scene of the mass protest against the Vietnam War in Washington in the film Forrest Gump. So it is ominous for the Americans that THIS is happening.

Previous days:

Saturday 27th January 2007, Friday 26th January 2007, Thursday 25th January 2007, Wednesday 24th January 2007, Tuesday 23rd January 2007, Monday 22nd January 2007