Friday 9th March 2007

10:37 pm

Channel 4: about as wrong as you can be

Gravatar Yesterday's Channel 4 programme - Great Global Warming Swindle - supposedly debunking global warming has got it all wrong. Now - I'm all for scepticism and testing out arguments properly. So just because nearly every reputable scientist in the field believes global warming is real and a major problem isn't a reason to close our minds on the subject. But if you are going to question it, you really
9:46 pm

Spoons: they're a real menace

Gravatar It's quite frightening what's stalking the dinner tables of London at the moment.
9:28 pm

Alocohol-related deaths up by a third

Gravatar Shocking figures for Haringey were publised in the answer to my recent Parliamentary Question.
8:01 pm

Stealing childhood

Gravatar Back in October 2005 I quoted an article by Andrew Martin which argued that the infantilisation of men has destroyed our concept of boyhood: It's strange, given their fatal consequences for boyhood, that cars should often be referred to as "boys' toys". The word "boy" is being taken away from boys, to be used as an arch substitute for "man". Footballers have a "bad boy" reputation; and what did that Wonderbra advert say? "Hello boys." ... many of the products aimed at boys are trying to hustle them on to puberty as fast as possible. Once you've got sex ...
8:00 pm

"No other party has a plan for Wales that is as ambitious"

Gravatar Speaking to the Welsh Liberal Democrats conference, Ming Campbell said: It is a pleasure to be here in Wales this weekend. And as the Six Nations clash between Scotland and Wales is now a full month ago, I feel relieved to be here today rather than on 10th February. I trust that good relations are now fully [...]
7:59 pm

Letter to the Richmond & Twickenham Times

Gravatar Our local Conservative Party have excelled themselves in the field of historical fantasy recently, by claiming that we had promised not to increase council tax in our 2006 election campaign. Sadly they have a record of this sort of silliness....
7:46 pm

David Icke and the Liberal Party

Gravatar The other day I suggested that at one time David Icke was being lined up as Liberal PPC for the Isle of Wight. Valerie Silbiger has e-mailed to tell me that the truth was rather different. It's true that Icke was once keen on the idea of being a Liberal candidate and made it clear that the Isle of Wight was the only seat he was interested in fighting. There was some difficulty in verifying that he was a Liberal member, and when he was interviewed as a candidate by London Region (where he lived), the panel found that ...
7:45 pm

Lib Dem Manifesto

Gravatar Today the Bath and North East Somerset Liberal Democrats launched their manifesto. Outlining our promises fo delievry over the next four years should the electorate choose the Liberal Democrats to take control of B&NES Council. Our five priorities are: Running an efficient council that is truly local.Providing better public trasnport and a cleaner, greener environment.Creating safe neighbourhoods and providing affordable housing.Caring for older people, the young and the more venerable members of our community.Promoting culture, regeneration and active, healthy lifestyles. Over the coming weeks I will put up more details over the 5 priorities, but if you would ...
7:40 pm

New film: on Lords reform

Gravatar My traditional Friday night video clip - except this time it's of me. A very quick film to mark the vote in favour of an elected House of Lords (or whatever it's eventually called). Happy weekend...
7:25 pm

The Strange Death of Liberal England

Gravatar News reaches us of a pop group with this splendid name.
7:19 pm

If we didn't have geriatric judges we might not need 'mandatory' life sentences

Gravatar Lord Phillips today claimed that Britain's prisons will be full of "geriatric lifers", and he blamed the automatic setting of minimum terms and mandatory life sentences for this. What Lord Phillips has not admitted though is that politicians set these sentences in the wake of a number of geriatric judges setting ludicrous sentences which seemed to take little account of the seriousness of the crimes committed. In such cases people can lose trust in a legal system that seemingly fails to punish people or committing terrible crimes. Personally, I support the minimum sentences and as a result I am keen ...
7:08 pm

Rock and Roll Lifestyle

Gravatar It occurred to me, on the way home from work today, as I pondered the thought that trying a "lightly battered" from Armstrong's tonight, as opposed to the normal version, would probably be the highlight of my weekend, that I truly do lead the proverbial "rock and roll" lifestyle. I have been deserted, slowly but surely, by all of my friends of late. One has emigrated to America, one has
6:59 pm

Scottish Tory Party Conference Broadcast

Gravatar Tonight's Scottish Tory broadcast should go down in history as one of the worst ever. I wish I had a copy so I could post it to show how dire it was. It almost makes Rosie Barnes and her rabbits look good. Cheap and irrelevant. All it basically showed is that the Tories have no ideas and are worth ignoring. It makes you think David Mundell had a point. Compare and contrast with the professional and positive Lib Dem effort posted here. And, no, I'm not just saying that cos I'm in it. ...
6:38 pm

Vagrant Goat God

Gravatar I have been asked to write some further words about the golden key to the secret fortress of the mysterious Adepts of the hidden tower of the invisible goat deity. This key is referred to in Emboldened, In Gumboots, where it is suggested that obtaining it, and bringing it back to HQ, was the object [...]
6:27 pm

Rail Strike Mayhem

Gravatar Typically, the only day in ages I needed to use the rail network was yesterday when the signallers were on strike. There was still a reduced service between home and Edinburgh which meant we were not put to too much inconvenience. Others weren't so lucky as there were no trains beyond Stirling. I always like to look into the circumstances of these disputes and look at the behaviour of the participants. What I like to see is genuine negotiation and continued attempts to resolve the situation. I was disappointed to see that the RMT had ...
6:24 pm

Conservatives get 0.5% of the vote

Gravatar The Conservative party received 0.5% of the vote - that's just 3,457 out of 690,313 votes cast - in the Northern Ireland Assembly election. ...A storming endorsement for David Cameron. But they say, they "doubled" their vote. "We're going in the right direction", they say. At that rate, is it worth the effort?
6:17 pm

This is not going to be pretty

Gravatar So Brian Ashton has made 11 changes to the side that got whipped against Ireland for the game against France on Sunday. I'm glad that for the first time since the World Cup two Quins (Dave Strettle and Nick Easter) make the team, but otherwise the team sheet fills me with dread. I wrote after the Scotland game that the euphoria reminded me of a year earlier when we thrashed Wales in our opening
6:06 pm

Alliance gains extra seat

Gravatar Well done to the Alliance Party in Northern Ireland (the sister party of the Liberal Democrats) for gaining an extra seat!
5:58 pm

How Ming should tackle the hung Parliament question

Gravatar Until last week, Ming Campbell had a fantastic get-out line whenever he was asked about a hung Parliament. He would say that he was only interested in "maximum votes and maximum seats" for the Liberal Democrats. And that helped to stop our campaigning being derailed by speculation about something which, if it occurs at all, is a good couple of years off. Conservative blogger Iain Dale believes that, after Harrogategate, the "maximum votes" line will no longer work. Apparently, the Lib Dems are in for a rocky ride during the next few months, and we're going to hear the ...
4:33 pm

Global Warming: Panic, Panic Over, Panic Again...

Gravatar The Great Global Warming Swindle The thing is I didn't see the programme. I saw essentially the same programme by the same maker from 1997. They had to apologise after that one, and I wonder if that will happen again. The thesis is summarised here and unpicked here. Bad science also gives it a mention despite, wisely, avoiding green stuff in his column as a rule. For a rather more mature
3:36 pm

Forgotten sister

Gravatar Bugger! I forgot today is my sister's birthday. Penny is about 103, so might not have remembered herself - unlikely, I know - but one of her five children is bound to have remembered. Of course she isn't on-line, in her remote farmhouse half way up a mountain, so I can't send an e-card. But as it is 4pm, I can still chuck a card & gift in the post (via the ONE post office we have left in this part of West Dorset) and claim her local postie was useless... got lost in the pub/fog or ...
2:40 pm

Bad pun alert

Gravatar The following pun in today's Simon Hoggart column made me laugh out loud; "the MP for Burnley, Kitty Ussher (she used to work as a steward at cat shows)"
2:23 pm

The Great Global Warming Swindle?

Gravatar Last night I watched The Great Global Warming Swindle on Channel 4. It was a very interesting programme, whether or not one believes in anthropomorphic global warming. In essence, it argued that 1) Our climate is always changing. The current change is not out of the ordinary if one considers the Little Ice Age of C16-C18th, or the Medieval Warm Period 2) Man produces only a small amount of carbon dioxide compared with natural causes 3) Changes in carbon dioxide do not precede global warming. They follow global warming 4) If the theory of climate change ...
2:00 pm

Will Lords reform produce lack of diversity?

Gravatar There’s been much debate about Lords reform in the last few days from varying viewpoints. Rightly, the majority has been focussed on the need for a democratic second chamber. But one or two people have focussed on the need to ensure diversity amoungst Lords. This article discusses the need for MPs and [...]
1:43 pm

Not Racist? Not the Point

Gravatar Last night on the news, and on various Tory websites today, we've had people defending Patrick Mercer. The defence, which came from black soldiers he commanded amongst others, is that "he's not a racist". I've no doubt that's true, but its not the point. Nor was he simply stating a fact, that racial abuse went on in the army, as some claimed. What he said was that racial abuse went on in the Army, and that he thought this was OK. Its that attitude that need banishing. Its not about free speech or political correctness, its about ...
1:42 pm

Scottish Conservatives: "We've only got a reverse gear"

Gravatar A TORY candidate in Edinburgh has given up his bid to become an MSP and spoken of his “frustration” at the party’s inability to become a major player in Scottish politics. Former hereditary peer Jamie Sempill, who was due to stand in Edinburgh Central at the May Scottish Parliament elections, said the main reason for his [...]
1:29 pm

Shooting the messenger

Gravatar I like Mark Littlewood. I first got to know him when he was setting up NO2ID. Think he’s done a good job in the Lib Dems, and he is a good dining companion. So, while I think his departure now may be politically expedient, I don’t delight in it. The person most responsible [...]
1:28 pm

US Poll says race is closer in primary states

Gravatar American Research group has published a poll of likely voters in the Democrat and Republican primaries which shows the race for the nominations closer than reflected in national polls. For the Democrats, Clinton is on 34% with Obama close behind on 31%. That compares to a recent nationwide poll by NBC which showed the gap 40% to 28%. This perhaps reflects the focus that Obama has been
1:28 pm

bonkers for the lords

Gravatar Today's Matt cartoon got me thinking. When will the internal positioning start occurring to secure the desired positions on our party's lists for Lords elections? Will Lord Bonkers be seeking election? The place would be quite different without him.
1:25 pm

Newt Gingrich admits affair while gunning for Clinton over Lewinsky

Gravatar Former US House leader Newt Gingrich has admitted he was having an extra-marital affair while he was leading a campaign to expose Bill Clinton's goings-on with Monica Lewinsky. In confessional mode, he says now: There were times when I was praying and when I felt I was doing things that were wrong. But I was still doing them. I look back on those as periods of weakness and periods that I'm...
1:11 pm

The unforgiving Guardian

Gravatar There is something very unforgiving about the Guardian mind-set. If, in your heyday, you failed to embody the views that are currently fashionable with the paper's writers, you will be condemned in death, no matter how long ago that heyday was. A while ago it was Charlie Williams. Today it is John Inman.
12:53 pm

The quietest post office under the sun

Gravatar It's nice to see a report about a post office opening for a change. The Shropshire Star says: A south Shropshire village has celebrated the opening of its new post office. Customers were given free sweets by Clun sub postmistress Janet Bradbury at the new branch in Church Street.We asked A. E. Housman to carry out some market research: Clunton and Clunbury Clungunford and Clun, Are the quietest places Under the sun.Damn.
12:52 pm

Has Ming played a bit of a flanker?

Gravatar We seem to have been in a bit of a spin, in the last week. It seems that Menzies will draw a line under the 'confusion' at the Welsh spring conference. Just let me check I've got the sequence of events right: Menzies says last weekend what he expects from Brown in the "five tests".You could say that someone (A) span (if that is the past tense of spin) this as our demands for a coalition deal,
12:49 pm

So farewell then Mark Littlewood

Gravatar This morning's Independent confirms last night's reports that Mark Littlewood has resigned as Lib Dem press chief. But the real offender is whoever came up with the idea of having Ming Campbell address his leader's speech to Gordon Brown. It was always going to be hard to spin that one.
12:11 pm

Spoilsports undermine the silent motorbike

Gravatar Ask people what the two worst things are about road transport and they’ll probably tell you that they are noise and pollution. We have turned our cities into loud, dirty places, spitting climate-changing gasses into the atmosphere while the air below causes respiratory diseases among our children. A few loons derive from this a loathing for modern society and a desire to return to a more Arcadian existence. The saner elements accept this as the grudging price of progress and hope that a combination of moderation (aka. conservation) and innovation can make the future brighter. Or even, brighter still. ...
12:00 pm

The World's Local Loan Sharks

Gravatar Here starteth the saga of my dealings with a bunch of sharks who are a subsidiary of "The World's Local Bank". I don't want to bleat too much - the usual rebuttals that "you should have read the small print" apply and I've been foolish. But I do want to warn others if I can to take a more circumspect view of dealing with HFC Bank. Sine I live in halls of residence, and have done now for over ten years as a warden, getting credit is sometimes difficult. In fact getting anything that requires ...
11:42 am

I'm not racist, but...

Gravatar The Independent has set out its stall very strongly this morning. The 3 recent controversies concerning Patrick Mercer, David Coleman and that Sheffield policeman have provoked a storm of debate over racism in Britain. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, certainly, is unequivocal (Where is the shame over this tide of filth?):"Racism is now becoming legitimate... the filth of racism has washed back, but now there's no concern, there's no shame, there's no opposition."To recap - Stephen Mercer, the Conservative Homeland Security spokesman, seemed to defend the existence of racism in the armed forces, as well as describing many ethnic soldiers as "idle and ...
11:26 am

You can win £1.99 just call us now (calls cost £2.99)

Gravatar I’m finding the debate on premium rate phone/text entry fascinating, but most people seem to be missing the crucial problem. It’s not the X-Factor or Big Brother voting lines that are the real problem here. It’s the late-night quiz channels. If you’ve never seen one, just browse through cable channels on a Friday or Saturday night [...]
11:18 am

The great global warming swindle?

Gravatar Did anyone see the program "The Great Global Warming Swindle" on Channel 4 last night? I did not but listening to the radio this morning I wish I had. It seems to run counter to everything we have been led to believe about global warming and in particular the causes. I have had a look at their website and if I understand what they are saying correctly then there would appear to be a fundamental dispute about the facts with regard to the warmest periods in the history of our planet. If you believe Al Gore then we are ...
11:05 am

Ethiopia, Ethiopia and more Ethiopia

Gravatar Ethiopia has been on my mind this week, for three different reasons. Last night I saw a preview of the Black Gold (after a door-knocking session for the Liberal Democrats). Black Gold will be on general release across the UK on June 8th.
10:59 am

"Keep it Suburban" campaign grows

Gravatar Yesterday's Southwark News contained extensive details of campaigning in Rotherhithe, Nunhead, East Dulwich and Herne Hill against Labour's plans to steal our sunlight, and they've launched their own "Keep it Suburban" campaign, asking people to write to Ruth Kelly. Well worth buying this week's issue for that. Meanwhile on the BBC today ex-Cabinet Secretary Lord Wilson has highlighted one of reasons why bad decision like this happen more often under Labour. He accuses Labour of 'staging a Whitehall coup', politicising the civil service, and concentrating power in the hands of a small number of unaccountable people. The result of ...
10:41 am

First ethnic minority to be elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly

Gravatar I am trying to following the Northern Ireland Assembly elections, mainly because I am a geeky STV (single transferable vote) fan. South Belfast has elected Anna Lo, Alliance Party candidate, to the Assembly. Anna is the first person from an ethnic minority background to win a seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
10:34 am

Government finally awards fair pensions to Gurkhas

Gravatar You may remember I wrote about the Gurkha Justice campaign recently and urged people to sign a petition. Well the good news is that the Ministry of Defence has announced improvements to the working terms and conditions of Gurkhas serving in the British army. The announcement comes after a rally in Westminster in December, and just weeks after a campaign petition on the subject collected over 5,000 signatures on the Government's petition web site.
10:33 am

Alternative Ulster

Gravatar It’s a good Friday in Belfast, because the Alliance Party (the Liberal Democrats sister party) candidate Anna Lo has taken a seat in South Belfast, becoming the first ethnic minority MLA in Northern Ireland. The city’s sizable Chinese community has suffered some quite appalling racism from recreational bigots over the past decade, with remarkable dignity, so her election is pretty significant. To celebrate, let’s listen to Enemies Like This by Radio 4.
10:07 am

Ming sensation!

Gravatar Sensational news about Ming from this week's Liberal Democrat News, bless them: Ming Campbell almost forgot to switch off his mobile phone before he spoke on Sunday. He only realised just before he went on stage when Elspeth remembered to turn hers off.
9:56 am

Geriatric Lifers

Gravatar The Lord Chief Justice has criticised the mandatory life sentence for murder, and its effect on prison overcrowding. I agree that there should be a variation in sentence to reflect the varying circumstances of murder. However, I don't think I have a problem with "geriatric lifers". Keeping someone should not merely reflect the level of threat that that person currently poses. Rather, it should (and to some extent does) reflect their level of culpability and the harm they have caused. As a result, some convicted murders will justifiably remain in person well into their old ...
9:18 am

The core of Liberalism

Gravatar Many people take individual freedom or liberty as the central tenet of liberalism, as I did until recently. The more I’ve thought about it however the more I’ve come to believe that there is one more fundamental concept in liberalism from which a liberal definition of liberty arises. That is self ownership. Freedom and liberty are often [...]
9:07 am

Hunched & Rickety

Gravatar From The Likes Of Us by Michael Collins: Edwin Pugh was a slum novelist who attempted to insert a layer of sympathy between the hooliganism and the hangings. A former city clerk, Pugh was notable for lighting up the nether worlds of which he wrote with pathos and humour, even when the subject is a child [...]
9:02 am

Manhattan Transfer

Gravatar This weekend is the annual Torquay town centre pub inspection tour.  Over the years the tour has shortened and ended earlier due to fatigue on the part of the aging participants and sadly, this y...
8:50 am

A real raw political memory

Gravatar After the coalition-what-coalition uproars from Harrogate, a sobering reflection on the realities of public presentation from Steven Tall. I strongly agree with his comments, and also on his reflections on how political reporting has changed over the years. I can recall a time when TV covered all three annual ‘Party Events’ in depth, and did so by broadcasting much of the debates live, not cutting off after the main speakers so that journalists could give interpretations of the ‘mood of the conference’. This meant that un-sanitised contributions from the floor sometimes made an impact outside the hall. I was ...
8:48 am

The BBC on litter

Gravatar I’ve been watching Breakfast on BBC1 this morning for the first time in months, they’ve been discussing Britain’s litter problem. Unfortunately there’s no detailed discussion which is often the problem on “magazine” shows such as these, and the Drive show on Five Live. Debates are started, often with interesting guests and controversial viewpoints, but then [...]
7:43 am

Cameron panics

Gravatar I may be alone in this, and I do agree that given the Tory reputation for racism a dismissal may have been appropriate for bad judgement... However, what Patrick Mercer actually said was that calling someone a "black bastard" happened in the army. Along with calling people "fat bastards" or "ginger bastards". Which is probably true. So he wasn't being racist. The worst you could say of him was
6:55 am


Gravatar The Western Mail yesterday carried a two page feature on possible coalition permutations after the Assembly elections. It has got to the stage now where none of the parties really want to talk about who they will or will not work with on May 4th. The important thing is that we maximise our votes. As I told an interviewer earlier this week, the more votes and the more seats that the Welsh Liberal Democrats get then the stronger will be our hand when it comes to getting our policies implemented. That is what really matters, not bums on ...
6:50 am

Man in blue

Gravatar Tory AM and MP for Monmouthshire, David Davies, likes to dress up in uniform. He is a former member of the Territorial Army and now he is flirting with the Police. His latest adventure, he told us in the chamber on Wednesday, is to sign up as a special constable with the British Transport Police. This was confirmed in the Western Mail, who informed us that he will gain a valuable insight into fighting crime by doing one or two eight-hour shifts a month. This is all very well, but does he have to boast about it in ...
12:50 am

The next issue

Gravatar The results as they finish coming out tomorrow will show great advances for the Alliance (and the Greens etc), especially in firming up their vote but also Anna Lo taking a seat in South Belfast. But in the world of Northern Irish politics you have to declare whether you are Unionist or Nationalist when it comes to Stormont. It is time for equal votes for all, and an end to the sectarianist
12:24 am

Emboldened, In Gumboots

Gravatar The tale is told of the volunteer brevet cadet who, in spite of his shocking weediness, was sent on a dangerous mission. He had to travel, alone, through a hostile environment – think belching volcanic gases, creeping tendrils and suckers, fierce slavering beasts with razor sharp fangs, turbulent rivers, turbulent skies, turbulent storms. On the fourth [...]
12:14 am

You didn't actually think the Tories had changed, did you?

Gravatar In April 2006, Tory leader David Cameron launched a fierce assault on Ukip: “UKIP is sort of a bunch of ... fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists, mostly.”Patrick Mercer, until 12 hours ago the Tories’ front-bench spokesman on homeland security, said this: “I came across a lot of ethnic minority soldiers who were idle and useless, but who used racism as cover for their misdemeanours.”Well,
12:01 am

Gorbachev backs lib dem line on Trident.

Gravatar The BBC has the story:
12:00 am

Day 2257: Elect the Elephant!

Gravatar Wednesday: The campaign must start today! A House of Lords Club for the New Millennium. And VICE VERSA! Yes, I want to get my fluffy bottom on a nice red leather seat. I will BE that elephant in the room! I am the new Lord Woolsack! There is a SNAG: Lord Blairimort is unlikely to bring in legislation that will allow the standing for parliament by (a) seven-year-olds [R: six-year-olds] (b) elephants (c) soft toys. Therefore, I have a PLAN! I will HYPNOTISE Daddy Richard into standing for Lordliness and he can act as ...

Previous days:

Thursday 8th March 2007, Wednesday 7th March 2007, Tuesday 6th March 2007, Monday 5th March 2007, Sunday 4th March 2007, Saturday 3rd March 2007