Wednesday 31st January 2007

11:20 pm

Westminster at night

Gravatar I do get a buzz out of living within easy reach of the centre of London. This is one of my favourite views. I went up to Portcullis House - which is the MPs' block of offices to the right of Big Ben - for a Hansard Society event this evening. It was to launch their report Friend or Foe? Lobbying in British Democracy. There was a good attendance, with getting...
11:02 pm

So what were you doing at 5pm?

Gravatar BBC radio 4's PM news show is running a photo journal of listeners activities at 5pm. I am always at work at 5 O'clock, but by ten past five I have walked home from the office and have started cooking dinner. So today, I decided to take a photo of myself preparing food in the kitchen. It was beef casserole today, which is only on the menu as my partners catering suppliers at the hotel sent a brisket joint of beef in error and did not want it back. I was a bit miffed as I ...
11:01 pm

Even more disturbing picture of Lembit

Gravatar Yesterday Liberal England posted the picture below. Even more disturbing is the "menage a trois" that the full picture showed. The question is does Lembit insist that Stephen Pound wears the leotard or does Stephen Pound insist that Lembit wears the mac ? Credit goes to The Guardian for both pictures.
10:59 pm


Gravatar SACRE is the apt acronym for the Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education. Every local authority responsible for schools must have one, and our one is particularly effective. Kingston's SACRE has just published the new locally agreed syllabus for Religious Education, and this was celebrated with songs, dance and images. You can read the revised syllabus here. By...
10:57 pm

Fine dining

Gravatar I’ve been lucky enough to indulge in various nice eating places in London over the last few weeks, so thought I’d share the details so you can all enjoy. After C & I went to see a show at the Purcell Room on the south bank, as part of Mimefest, we ventured in to Le Pain [...]
10:51 pm

Maudsley Campaign Gathers Pace

Gravatar The campaign to stop the government closing the Maudsley Emergency Clinic has been gathering momentum since the announcement of its planned closure was made. Last week’s Council meeting was dominated by the issue. The campaigners presented what I thought ws the best deputation I had heard in the council chamber. The steps of the town hall were [...]
10:49 pm

After Dave Anderson MP gets "caught", are you watching your local Labour MP ?

Gravatar Jonathan Wallace reports that Dave Anderson, Labour MP for Blaydon has been caught using House of Commons freepost facilities to send mailings to Labour supporters in his constituency. With local elections looming, everyone needs to be alert to the fact that Labour are really no respecters of election rules. Remember the postal vote farming in Birmingham a couple of years back. So everyone needs to be alert. Any queries regarding mailings you may get on House Of Commons headed paper or using House of Commons freepost envelopes when clearly the letter is "political", you can take up with ...
10:46 pm

Hook Studio

Gravatar I mentioned the recording studio at the Hook Centre when it was opened recently. I was back there yesterday for the launch of its programme of courses and events. And it's pretty impressive. On Monday to Wednesdays evenings there are courses on DJ skills, Muisc to Make You Move (for 7-11 year olds), Creative Production and even Adult Jam sessions. Thursday is Youth Rehearsal Night, and...
10:36 pm

Why I missed tonight's full council meeting

Gravatar I cannot believe how many things clashed for me tonight. I had to go to the local high school to have a meeting with them about children transferring to their school from ours at the end of the year (teatime), followed then by out school production, which also clashed with my five-a-side team playing our third league fixture and also , the full council meeting in Cromer. Having decided that the welfare of the children came first, I decided that I had to go to the transfer meeting and then the school performance. I doubt my vote would ...
10:18 pm

Wrong to turn back the clock to terraces

Gravatar I was disappointed to see David Cameron supporting Lib Dem MP Michael Hancock's Early Day Motion supporting the return of terracing at football grounds. The fact that over 100 MP's have signed this motion is sad. I'd love to know who did sign the motion but the Parliament website is so very poorly organised and arranged, it is too much hassle to find out (somebody will post me a link surely ?) As someone who has stood on terraces, I cannot see why we want a return. Were terraces any better ? I'm nearly six foot four and ...
9:47 pm

It's all becoming a bit like Spartacus round here

Gravatar Hello, Iain Dale.
9:14 pm

Bearded ladies, parachuting mermaids and pirates riding dolphins?

Gravatar Wednesday 31st January 2007 - I thought regular readers of my blog would be interested in a novel campaign that has been launched by Amnesty International in the form of an animated on-line petition asking for people to join our flotilla travelling all the way to Guantánamo to denounce injustice. If you still have not joined the protest, why not do it now? By doing this, you will put pressure on
9:02 pm

Hillary borrows the John Kerry Joke book

Gravatar In Iowa, Hillary Clinton tried to make a joke about her experience in dealing with 'evil and bad men' which would help her as president. She seems to be learning comedic skills from John Kerry. Oh dear.
9:00 pm

Meanwhile back in London....

Gravatar Wednesday 31st January 2007 - After a busy morning of meetings including an interview with a journalist from The Guardian writing an article on MEP's from ethnic minority backgrounds I jump on the lunchtime Eurostar back to London to attend a celebration event in honour of Mirza Tahir Hussain. The event at the House of Commons had been organised by Amjad Hussain to thank MP's MEP's and other
8:45 pm

Flooded out!!

Gravatar Tuesday 30th January 2007 - A mad start to the week saw me signing cheques as I queued for security at Manchester Airport on Monday morning then banned from carrying my after shave with me in my toiletries bag despite the fact that it was only a 50ml bottle, well within the guidelines of a maximum of 100ml of liquid!! I should have known then it was going to be a difficult week and sure enough things got worse on Tuesday when I got a call to tell me my apartment was flooded!! Apparently there had been workman in to ...
8:15 pm

RUSU: Who Is Standing

Gravatar That major popularity contest, student union elections, comes to the University of Reading this term. With almost tiresome regularity, a bunch of freezing students will stand outside the union building, attempting to convince those walking past that they really are the bestest in the entire world. Anyway, here are some of my thoughts on those standing for sabbatical positions this year (who I
8:11 pm

Printing problems

Gravatar Urgh. I’ve just had one of those nasty Riso failures that gets you covered in ink. The master roll got stuck. Subsequent attempts to unstick it led to the thin sheets tearing down the middle as the machine struggled to reattach them to the printing drum. The beast was making growling, grinding noises [...]
8:01 pm

A virtual tirade of nothingness

Gravatar Tonight my post-Christmas diet goes down in Hindenburg-disaster style flames, as I entertain a couple of friends with the aid of a Domino's pizza or two. Does the fact that it's buy-one-get-one-free make it half-fat as well as half-price? I do hope so... Unfortunately, due to a busy day at work and an evening that has so far mainly consisted of a fortnight's worth of ironing, I have nothing else
7:56 pm

FTSE 100 companies: will they lead the way on carbon footprints?

Gravatar Talking to Christian Aid today – finding out more about their work in the international development field and also about their coming campaign later this year on Climate Change. One of things they will be campaigning on is for companies - much like path-breakers such as Marks & Spencer have done - to set an example in terms of their carbon footprint (reducing it obviously) and also calling for
7:54 pm

New Home Secretary resigns after 37 minutes -

Gravatar During a recent spate of "stickie" sticking, I found a "stickie" from to put on my sidebar. It updates the "news headlines" which are, the astute will notice, spoof "news headlines". For example: Kidnapped chancellor "free to come and go" Democrats propose "cap and trade" scheme for Iraq troop levels Jails empty as judges urged to be lenient Big Brother Latest: Video of Jade
7:52 pm

Getting the bubbles into a Wispa

Gravatar For once some news from the Welsh Liberal Democrats that doesn't involve Lembit Opik. Writes David Warnock on the BBC website: The party has appointed "deputy spokespeople" in the run-up to the Welsh assembly elections in May to ease the burden on assembly group leader Mike German's top team. Among those promoted is Veronica Watkins, the new deputy spokesperson on science and the environment. She is well qualified for the (unpaid) post, having once played a key role in the introduction of bubbles into the now defunct Wispa chocolate bar. She also happens to be married to Mike German.
7:27 pm

A slow news day in Shropshire?

Gravatar From the Shropshire Star : Former Spice Girl Mel B today denied she was planning to leave her Beverley Hills retreat for a new home in Shropshire.
7:23 pm

Oysters all round!

Gravatar Great news that Train Operating Companies in London have caved in, and are going to introduce Oyster Card technology on overground services across the Capital. I have been calling for this for years. Repeatedly over and over again. The companies have realised that is is a no-brainer, and that commuters are sick to death of the present situation, and that the blame was now sitting fairly and
7:21 pm

Chris Huhne Rocks!

Gravatar Just teasing! Here is evidence, if evidence were needed that I have no hard feelings for Chris Huhne...........and why would I for someone who is also a member of the "now we are 52" club????
7:07 pm

Shooting fish in a barrel

Gravatar I know criticising one of Simon Heffer's articles is the intellectual equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel but today's effort in the Torygraph did make me chuckle. After all it is not often you read the words "I am a committed libertarian" followed by an argument for much stricter Government regulation of gambling (but only for the "lower- and middle- income people" mind). Can one of Simon's
6:45 pm

Death Wish III - Blair and capitulation to the Shrub on Death Penalty

Gravatar We know events progress from the first time as tragedy, the second as farce and it looks like the third time is like a puppy sick on the heartrug. The Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, was in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, yesterday, trying to persuade African heads of state to sign up to a global moratorium on capital punishment after Britainsank an effort to have the EU back the initiative as a bloc. .. Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Massimo D'Alema, tried to obtain backing for the proposal at ...
6:38 pm

Four great new links, two great new bloggers.

Gravatar There's life on the net.
6:14 pm

Time to cull the Gulls

Gravatar I’ve just spent a relatively relaxing lunchbreak sitting in Jersey’s Liberation Square. It was a fairly warm day, warm enough to sit outside and read anyway, so I thought it would be more fun to set on a bench in a beautiful part of St Helier while reading and eating my lunch than sitting at [...]
6:03 pm

Labour MP to pay up for inappropriate use of Commons mail

Gravatar Those of you who read my blog last week would have seen the entry about Dave Anderson, Labour MP for Blaydon in Gateshead (where I live), being reported by me to the Serjeant at Arms about a misuse of Commons stationery and first class mail. A brief summary of what happens is: I was sent anonymously a copy of the letter Anderson sent out on Commons headed notepaper in prepaid first class Commons
5:32 pm

Reforming Lords

Gravatar Whatever David Cameron says, Tony Blair won't go until one of two things happens: either Inspector Yates must find some amazing smoking  gun in the cash for peerages inquiry; or, more likely, he will stay till he has ticked off a few more legislative items of unfinished business.House of Lords Reform is one of those areas - and according The Guardian today, a firm set of proposals is about to be put forward:The aim of the paper, to be published next week, will be to cut the size of the House of Lords from more than 750 to about 540 ...
5:27 pm

Political shifts

Gravatar Opinion polls are faintly addictive- especially for those of us with far too much anorak in our DNA. However, generally I have not tended to comment on the gyrations that we see- there is too much random walk to draw hard and fast conclusions from any given poll. The latest opinion poll from Communicate Research seems to have some important change to the methodology- for it has catapulted the Liberal Democrats up by 50%. So CR now has the Lib Dems on 21%- roughly where we seem to be with other polls. While obviously comforting- particularly since Lib Dem ...
5:26 pm

Iain Dale gets a blog

Gravatar Via Ryan comes the news that Iain Dale has started blogging. This could be confusing.
5:16 pm

At last, some encouraging news on water

Gravatar The government appears to be grasping the nettle of water provision at last, and not before time. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced yesterday that it will hold a consultation on whether water companies in areas where demand for water appears to be outstripping supply will be able to seek compulsory water metering. As regular readers of this blog will attest, I am no fan of compulsion. Indeed, in normal circumstances I would leave it up to companies to dictate their own pricing policy and let it fall on their necks if ...
4:49 pm

Letter in the Daily Post..

Gravatar Dear Ed,   Listening to our north Wales New Labour MPs Views on the funding of N.W police is a prime example of them trying to sound good and not doing what is good for North Wales Crime fighting. Their article Daily post Jan 26th police cash row confirms that New labour does not trust the criminal justice system or the Police Authority. Its unbelievable that they accuse N.W police Authority of mismanagement of their budget when;   They wish to spend vast sums of money on a DNA data base & ID cards so that they can monitor  the law ...
4:41 pm

No, I’m not that mad

Gravatar Those taking a quick glance at the list of the blogs on the right of LibDemBlogs might be suprised to see Iain Dale listed. However it’s not the blue one, but the yellow one
4:13 pm

Taking choice from Parents

Gravatar I'm slightly concerned at the Government's proposals to force lone parents back to work and off benefits when their youngest child reaches the age of 12. Yet again the value of raising children goes unrecognised. I know of a fair few parents who worked when their children were small but gave up when they were teenagers because they needed a parent around for all sorts of reasons. Adolescence can be scary and difficult and having a loving parent around when you need them can make the difference between a damaged adult and an effective contributor to ...
3:48 pm

Imitation is...........

Gravatar Can I recommend that you take a look at this brand new blog - you may need sunglasses as it's a bit loud. I was quite struck by the title........ I'm quite flattered really.
2:45 pm

Liberal Democrats up 7% in the latest poll

Gravatar Today's CommunicateResearch poll in the Independent puts the Liberal Democrats up seven to 21% (December's poll was unusually low for the Liberal Democrats and I suspect this poll just corrects that.
2:05 pm

Watergate it isn´t?

Gravatar In the interest of pluralism we bring to your attention Martin Kettle's piece on CiF.
1:56 pm

Lib Dem news feed not working?

Gravatar Anyone else having problems getting the Lib Dem news feed to work on their site or blog? The feed has been on my site for a consideable length of time and I have not amended the code but I have noticed that the news stories are not appearing. Any ideas anyone?
1:30 pm

When we say climate change is our top priority, it must be our top priority

Gravatar Ming Campbell, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, yesterday visited the Thames Barrier in London to speak about the increased threat of flooding and to highlight the dangers of climate change. Figures revealed by the Liberal Democrats show that: The Thames barrier was raised three times last week after the highest ever tidal rise of four metres There has [...]
1:28 pm

Anthem for Jersey

Gravatar I know there have been calls for England to have it’s own national anthem, which to be honest I fully support. Now Jersey is jumping on board and the States are on the hunt for a song the island can adopt as its ‘island’ anthem. At the moment it’s between Ma Normandie (which has nothing to [...]
1:17 pm

Crying Into Your Ten Gallon Hat

Gravatar So Mr Anschutz’s efforts down on the ranch failed to secure him the prize in the biggest government raffle since 3G. Long as the post mortem of that decision will undoubtedly be, there are a couple of points I suspect will be found missing in the traditional media. First, of the sites involved, ask yourself this question; which site most benefits the Labour Party at large? After all, Labour’s
12:14 pm

BBC on your PC

Gravatar Looks like another hurdle has been reached with BBC on-demand app. Having taken part in the original iMP trial, it should be great as already this year I’ve missed This Life and The Thick of It, something the new iMP would solve.
11:16 am

Top Tory suspended

Gravatar Former Welsh Conservative chairman, Sir Eric Howells, has now been suspended from the party for threatening to support an unofficial candidate in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire. As reported on this blog, Sir Eric had threatened to support an unofficial candidate instead of Angela Burns. She was selected after the previous candidate, John Jenkins, stood down last year when he came under fire for allegedly describing homosexuality as a medical condition on a website in 2003. Sir Eric, who is an honorary life president of the party, has been suspended by London Party Officials for three months after ...
11:14 am

Number Crunching

Gravatar The Chair of LDYS (and thoroughly decent bloke) Mark Gettleson has co-signed a letter in today’s Times , in support of the Sudan Divestment campaign; calling on commercial bodies in the UK to end their financial support, tacit and direct, to the Khartoum government. Given that nearly 3.5 million Darfurians are now aid dependent for their survival, and that up to 400,000 have died as a result of the ongoing conflict, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that you might hear a little more about the situation from all the political parties and media outlets. Surely though, when humanitarian disaster ...
10:34 am

Levy arrested again...

Gravatar The police yesterday arrested Lord Levy for the second time, this time on suspicion of perverting the course of justice over his role in the cash for honours affair. I have the feeling that at least one person will be facing a courtroom over the whole scandal, whether they can get Blair or not I do not know.
10:32 am

Balls to Morley and Rothwell

Gravatar An interesting twist on the recent announcement by Colin Challen that he won’t be restanding in Morley and Rothwell, in order to spend more time with his vegetables. I understand from a reliable source that he is incredibly bitter about what he perceives to be a dirty tricks campaign waged by Balls’ team over [...]
10:26 am

Gay adoption: Campbell says 'no exceptions'

Gravatar “Our party is firmly against discrimination of any kind. While I understand the sincerity of the views of Catholic adoption agencies, I don’t believe that you can compromise on an issue of this nature.” Watch more here: gay adoption Lib Dem TV menzies campbell Official party films
10:24 am

The Regeneration Gamble

Gravatar Well we are on the list for a second casino and when I asked the Secretary of State what extra financial support my area would now receive to deal with increased gambling addiction and crime.  Sh...
10:11 am

From fact to headline: how the media distorts news

Gravatar I thought this was an interesting illustration of how lazy journalism can distort the news to a dangerous degree. Body of article: The Hansard Society - whose stated aim is to “promote effective parliamentary democracy” - spoke to 81 Labour MPs, 55 Conservatives, 19 Liberal Democrats and five from other parties. It found that 22% of MPs were [...]
10:09 am

A tragic death in the family

Gravatar Yesterday I learned of the death of my cousin, Jono Parr, a young man, killed by a lorry while cycling to work. I'm not going to talk at any length about how I feel - this is a public blog, and that is not the sort of thing I do. But I am deeply shocked and saddened, and outraged at the manner of this death. However I am moved to say something about the risks of cycling. I used to cycle
10:08 am

Stone Mines Contract Awarded

Gravatar Hydrock, the company that has brought the scheme to the present position, has been awarded the contract to carry on with the stabilisation works. Hydrock offered the lowest cost, best value and shortest programme for the remaining project works in the sum of £42,544,218.58 .This is the first of three 'packages' for the remainder of the scheme and the release of subsequent stages of works to Hydrock will be dependent upon their satisfactory performance. Hydrock are well liked by local people, not only because they are efficient, but because they are considerate and are willing to contribute to the local ...
9:46 am

The mark of ambition

Gravatar The Western Mail finally caught up with Guido Fawkes this morning, reporting on the leaking of a campaign strategy document associated with Peter Hain's Deputy Leadership bid to Fawkes' political blog. The memo includes a list of MPs prepared to back Mr. Hain in public and in private and also groups of floating MPs who are being targeted. The most telling revelation is that the Secretary of State for Wales has so far failed to secure the support of even half of his party's Welsh MPs. It also lists the names of Labour Party staff who are supporting Hain, ...
8:52 am

Carling Cup semi final tonight

Gravatar Excited already... Big match tonight and have my ticket (pictured) on me already, so no panic later. Who is it we're playing again? I forget. Hopefully JJ will have a great game and remind everyone again what we've been missing since he's been out. Lennon, of course, bound to be a star again. COME ON YOU SPURS!
8:09 am

Rats and Recycling

Gravatar Those of you who visit this blog from outside Oxford may well have recycling schemes including the alternate weekly collections that go with them. In our city, we have been behind the times. The recycling revolution is only now beginning. A third of the city is on the new scheme and already the recycling rate has jumped from 19% to 27%. Many people in my own ward have welcomed the new scheme but, quite understandably, some have had real worries about what feels like a leap into the unknown. And there is one fear that journalists have thought particularly newsworthy ...
7:48 am

Day 2220: Flags and Balloons

Gravatar Monday: It is January so it must be time for Mr Balloon to have a go at Mr Frown about FLYING THE FLAG. Here is Mr Balloon in the Daily Hellograph saying: "This reserve is an intrinsic part of being British," he will say. "We don't do flags on the front lawn." No, wait! That was LAST January! Since then Mr Balloon has CHANGED HIS MIND and decided that we DO do flags – especially on BICYCLES. Double especially if there is a FOOTBALL photo opportunity tournament on. See: Mr Balloon flies the ...
7:39 am

Two great wins

Gravatar Leeds won their must win game against Hull last night 2-1. Heath scored the first for Leeds from a Thompson set piece before Hull equalised through Nicky Forster (coincidentally an ex Reading player). Thompson then struck the winner early in the second half with a brilliant free-kick. Strangely this result left Leeds propping up the division in 24th place due to Southends unexpected 3-1 victory over Birmingham. However Leeds are now only 4 points off safety as opposed to the 7 before kick off so at least there is some good news. If the message boards can be believed then ...
7:12 am

I'm glad I forgot my bank card this morning

Gravatar Looking in my wallet on the train this morning I was rather irked to realise that I'd left my bank card at home and that I'd only twenty quid on me. However this annoyance turned to relief at lunchtime. You see, I have a major weakness when it comes to silk ties - I just love a nice, tasteful but usually bright tie. Well one of my favourite outlets is TM Lewin, who have a shop close by my office in Glasgow. Walking to the bank to pay a bill I saw the dreaded words in their window "SALE NOW ...
6:59 am

I've given in!

Gravatar Well after months and months of hesitation and the fact that several of my friends have started blogging, I have joined the merry band. Don't how much I'll have to say or how often but hey ho and off we go.
5:29 am

Fostering illiberalism

Gravatar Stephen Tall has beaten me to exposing Don Foster's ill-considered and illiberal response to the announcement of Manchester's successful bid to host the first regional super casino. I have often complained about the tendency of some Lib Dem spokespersons to be more nannyish and anti-fun even than New Labour. Foster is among the very worst offenders, previous transgressions being attacking the rail industry for not installing CCTV in all stations and the hysterical scaremongering in 2005 about the effects of the Licensing Bill. One further absurdity of his reaction is the attempt to invoke local choice to defend ...
5:15 am

Sidmouth wreck reminiscences

Gravatar As the MSC Napoli salvage operation gets under way, I note Rod Liddle in last week's Spectator reminds us of the last notorious wreck on the Sidmouth coast. Back in 1974 a hovercraft sank after trying unsuccessfully to gain access to Sidmouth harbour. As Liddle puts it: As the craft flapped pointlessly in the surf, many yards from shore, a magisterial figure in a smart suit emerged from within its bowels and waded, with steadfast expression and immense resolve, through the waves, a look of destiny upon his face. People looked on in amazement and trepidation. For ...
12:36 am

South London Press campaign on TV

Gravatar Brought a copy of the South London Press on tonight's 18 Doughty Street End of the Day show to highlight the campaign to save the Maudsley Clinic in the review of the papers. It's generally a national round-up, but I think it's quite important that we make some of these national stories about Labour's mismanagement of the NHS real by showing how they impact local people. Much discussion of the arrest of Lord Levy and Manchester's casino bid. Our MP for Kingston, Ed Davey has captured a lot of attention with his comments that Labour's cash for honours scandal ...
12:04 am

Another chance to influence Lib Dem tax policy

Gravatar First meeting tonight of a sub group of ‘Tax Commission II’ as our illustrious chair described it.  Our job is to look at how to simplify the tax system and how to tackle tax avoidance.  If you want to share your ideas on these topics, now is your chance…

Previous days:

Tuesday 30th January 2007, Monday 29th January 2007, Sunday 28th January 2007, Saturday 27th January 2007, Friday 26th January 2007, Thursday 25th January 2007