Thursday 15th March 2007
I've let it be known before that I am not in the Lembit Opik fan club. I have generally found him to stand up for very little and be more about his own publicity that about the Lib Dems. That said, Lembit has really effectively relaunched his political career after the "Cheeky Girl" headlines tonight with his excellent performance on Question Time. Lots of applause, really effective and passionate speaking on key subjects, bringing up links to Lib Dem policy and taking on both the government and the Tories. To be fair, Priti Patel was atrocious. Her constant ...
A campaign for Fair Trade for British Farming, set up by the Farmer’s Guardian, Country Living Magazine and Waitrose has won the full backing of Welsh Liberal Democrat MPs. The aim of the campaign is to promote a fair and sustainable price for the high quality food produced by British farmers. The Fairtrade foundation rightly confines its work to helping those in developing countries out of poverty, but most British consumers wrongly believe that the principles of fair trade are applied to British agriculture. Brecon and Radnorshire’s Welsh Lib Dem MP Roger Williams, who is also the party’s ...
Trust in Wales Ymddiried yng Nghymru Welsh Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson, Jenny Randerson AM, today set out her vision for a healthier Wales at the Welsh Liberal Democrat Spring Conference in Swansea. Mrs Randerson said: “Healthcare in Wales shouldn’t be about one crisis after another. Other small nations run good-quality health services, and I want to see Wales envied world-wide. “For too long under Labour the Welsh NHS has lurched from one crisis to another.” Commenting on Welsh Liberal Democrat health priorities, Mrs Randerson will say: “Within the health portfolio, my focus in this ...
Peter Black will today throw down the gauntlet to other parties on top-up fees for higher education. In a wide-ranging speech about education at the Welsh Liberal Democrat Spring Conference, Peter will say: “My commitment has always been to education free at the point of access. It is an investment in our future, we should not erect barriers to participation nor should we penalise those who wish to better themselves. “I believe in society. I believe it is the duty of the state to fund education opportunity for the good of us all. “I ...
The agenda for the meeting of the Selly Oak Ward Committee on Wednesday 21 March 2007 has now been published. The meeting will be held at 7pm in the Selly Oak Adult Education Centre, 648 Bristol Road. Items on the agenda include: a presentation from the Selly Oak Environmental Wardens on what they have been doing;a report on the Bournbrook Wildlife Corridor and Walkway; and Selly Oak Ward
Last week, I criticised our handling of the hung Parliament question, and suggested a much more honest and direct approach. In a moment of cheekiness unparalleled in the history of the Lib Dems, I wrote a "speech" for Sir Ming to deliver, to put the whole question to bed. To add the icing on the cheeky cake (which takes some doing), I sent him the link! Our technologically-savvy leader, or one of his technologically-savvy office staff, has very kindly written me a response, via Facebook. For readers who aren't familiar with this august website, it's a social ...
The first transmission from Broadcasting House in London took place 75 years ago today. The BBC website has a pleasing selection of photographs to mark the anniversary. This seems a good moment to repeat an anecdote about the sculpture of Prospero and Ariel by Eric Gill that graces the front of the building. History reports that when it was first unveiled people were of the opinion that the young Ariel was - how shall we put it? - too well endowed. Indeed, John Knight records that a Labour MP - a Mr G. G. Mitcheson - argued that ...
Neither of course, but wait for it, I will get there. Tom Papworth has been writing about carbon offsets, and issue of cap-and-trade versus carbon taxes. As I have said here before, there is nothing wrong with the principle of offsetting carbon emissions, it is just as good or bad to cause a net emission of a tonne of carbon one way as another. It is quite absurd to suggest that emitting a
I have scanned the Home Office document Modernising Police Powers which reviews the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. I must say that I couldn't find anything to measure up to the salacious report in the Guardian this morning. The Home Office official report talks about Short Term Holding Facilities. The Guardian either spins this (or had it spun to them) into a tale of perspex fronted "sin
So it is to be announced that at least 2500 post offices are to close as the government lets private industry take over post office services. Of course, this will be the death knell of rural post offices in particular. However, the ITN News this evening indicated that it could be even worse with several thousand more post offices likely to be made redundant by "Pay Points" being put in to other shops. Anyone who knows anything about rural life will know that Post Offices are much more than a place to buy stamps and post letters. They ...
I had a chuckle today about this column by Catherine Bennett, and an even longer one at some of the commentary underneath. Whether the 1997 intake of female Labour MPs has been held back by the undeniable bullying chauvinism of the likes of Alastair Campbell, or whether a fair percentage of them were not especially talented or courageous Party hacks to start with remains a moot point as Fay Weldon pointed out several years ago. The really interesting thing about this leadership contest is not that there are no women MPs or MPs from ethnic minorities standing, but that ...
I am sure this will be of interest to many local groups:Local authorities in Angus and the City of Dundee have joined forces in a bid to attract tourists from across the world to come to the area and walk in the footsteps of their ancestors. A two – year project aims to capitalise on increasing interest in family history worldwide, and to tap into the estimated market of 2.5 million people across the globe with their roots in Angus & Dundee. A Project Manager has been appointed to lead the development of a range of product initiatives and ...
And lo it came to pass that the legislators of the land came together in the House of the People and decided that they didn’t have a ******* clue what they wanted. Songs are unlikely to be sung about it… I’ve been trying not to write about constitutional reform, for three reasons. In the first instance, it’s far too introvertedly Lib Demmic for its own good; in the second, my ideas on the
Well, as I expected, Mr Anderson, former firebrand and posturing left winger and now shiny new Labour MP for Blaydon, slavishly voted for the government last night! Shock! Well, not at all. Given his performance since his election in 2005, I would expect nothing else. So try this for your edification and amusement. Tribune, that trendy, ranting rubbish of the equally ranting left carried an
Couple of photos from last night's game. They don't quite show just how luminous the Braga kit was - watching them was starting to hurt my eyes - but give an idea. Another good Spurs performance, even if (like the away leg in Portugal) the score looked more of a fight than it in truth was. At least Braga organised themselves much better in the second half, but really it was all Spurs. Dimitar Berbatov was immense again, of course. A decent crowd too (over 33,000), not bad considering the high ticket prices, that the tie was ...
With no Avengers on BBC4 tonight, I’m about to watch a New Avengers episode in celebration of Gareth Hunt, who died yesterday; and I’ve been enjoying some Doctor Who first transmitted forty years ago this week. The Macra Terror stars Patrick Troughton as the Doctor in a satirical tale mixing giant crabs, holiday camps and 1984, and though it’s long-since been burnt for gas to feed the BBC Board of Governors, there’s still an ‘underground’ way to watch it. You can watch Pat’s Doctor in the Underground this Sunday on BBC4, too, with The Web of Fear showing at 8.35 ...
Last night MPs voted to renew Trident now by 413 to 167 and in a separate vote for the principle of Trident by 409 to 161. The vote saw the largest Labour rebellion since 1997 (95 rebels in the) and the Conservatives voting with the Government. I, as you will probably know, am against any renewal of Trident be it now or anytime in the future.
I received a reply from the Council today about the street cleaning issue I raised yesterday. Sometimes the Council can be extremely quick with their responses, and it really is excellent customer service. They have confirmed that every street in the Borough is subject to cleaning on a six weekly rota, using the sweeping machines. In Prestwich, Bury New Road through the Village is actually swept
Is there anything worse than subsidising First World farmers to produce crops so that they can undercut the prices that Third World farmers would charge, were they not also excluded from our markets by tariffs? The European Union found a way a couple of years ago when it decoupled subsidies from production. Farmers are now paid whether or not they produce food. Nothing could be more execrable than paying farmers not to farm, surely. Well, the EU has found a way. Not content with paying farmers not to farm, it now transpires that the EU is paying ...
Rhodri Morgan is continuing to stand by his claims that climate change would not be ‘entirely unhelpful’ to the Welsh tourism industry, spurred on by John Redwood’s endorsement. I suggest he reads the Guardian’s interview with Jim Lovelock today (I have to admit I was rather annoyed by the cheeky way Stuart Jeffries treated Lovelock in [...]
Well, the Evening Mail has finally jumped, and has kicked off the petition for elected mayor. The DCLG has lots of helpful information for those who are organising petitions for calling for Elected Mayors. Of particular interest is the possible timetable for a referendum if they happen to collect 36k signatures. The Mail has given the impression that this could all be wrapped up by 3 May. But my reading of the timetable is that even submitting the petition now would result in a September referendum. If the result went the way of the elected option, then the mayoral election ...
There are very good reasons why Lib Dems should not talk about hung Parliaments - as Ming Campbell recently discovered, it produces a lot of unhelpful distraction-chatter. However, I’m happy to make one exception to the rule (in time-honoured tradition): the prospect of a ‘grand coalition’ between Labour and the Tories in the event of no one party having a majority after the next election. In
The Liberal Democrats have criticised the EU Council of Ministers failure to take seriously monitoring of the UK’s compliance with EU anti-corruption rules*. In answer to a question from London Euro MP Baroness Sarah Ludford, the Council said that it is not obliged to comment on compliance with the 2003 European anti-corruption law. Sarah criticised the [...]
Posters have recently appeared in the London Tube advertising a site called Information Revolution. This promises to be part of a campaign against dominant search engines controlling information flows, i.e. it is aimed against Google without naming them. Only, it isn’t a proper campaign at all but part of an advertising stunt. The comments [...]
Two interesting articles show just how hard it is to be environmentally friendly, especially if you are trying to ameliorate your carbon footprint by offsetting the carbon you produce. Carbon offsets are a popular form of conscience-salving, practiced by Oscar-winning environmentalists and vote-seeking political parties alike. Yet the economics of carbon offsetting leaves a lot to be desired. An article on the Economist blog explains that carbon offsets may have exactly the opposite effect from that desired. On the one hand, by alleviating us of our sense of guilt, we may continue to consume and even expand our ...
Plans to decide every drawn Football League game with a penalty shoot out have been universally condemned by my fellow Lib Dem bloggers. David Nikel thinks: "The thrill I used to get watching Northampton get battered for 90 minutes and end up scoring a totally undeserved last minute equaliser - cannot be matched." Norfolk Blogger thinks the Football League bosses are "pillocks". Tony Ferguson thinks it represents "the Americanisation of football". Who could have come up with a stupid idea like that? Step forward - to no one's great surprise - Brian, now Lord, Mawhinney. The Chairman ...
One of my flatmates used to be a member of the Labour Party, and still gets their glossies in the post. The latest dispatch from the party’s squat in Victoria Street has a worryingly desperate tone to it, pleading for a re-subscription. “I know we may have asked you before, but now it’s more important” it emplores. For me though, it’s the line “have you got children?” which is the real killer. I’d be sorely tempted to reply “I did, but they were gunned down by the kids next door.”
The notion of a centrist politician breaking the "mold of bipartisan politics" is one that often fills newspapers politics pages in the middle of a campaign. However, in France the "Third Man" story has rather more legs given the impact he is having on the polls. Also this time, it is not the far right Le Pen who is elbowing his way to the front of the polls - but centrist Francois Bayrou.In the latest polls he is just 4 points behind Segolene Royal in the first ballot. He has been just one point off within the last week. Also ...
Rhodri Morgan will be heartened to learn that he has at least one soul mate in the Liberal Democrats when it comes to his view that Wales will benefit from global warming. In the current edition of Private Eye, the Rotten Boroughs column reports on the views of Lewes, Sussex Liberal Democrat Councillor, Marina Pepper. According to the Eye Councillor Pepper is a former Page Three girl, white witch and current agony aunt for the New Statesman. They say that she told a local freesheet that global warning is a very bad thing, although it does have one ...
Unsurprisingly the House of Lords did not vote for a fully elected second Chamber last night. The result of the votes are below. There will still be a draft Bill and reform will almost certainly appear in all three parties manifestos at the General Election, I would expect real reform to begin after that election.
We are all of course looking forward to having additional powers for the Welsh Assembly after May's elections but in the meantime it would be useful if we exercised the ones that we have especially when they re-inforce current policies. The recruitment and retention of nurses in the Welsh NHS has always been a challenge but improvements in pay and conditions have helped. However, the decision of the Welsh Assembly Government to follow England's lead and stagger a derisory and below inflation 2.5% pay rise for nurses throughout the year will hit morale badly. This is especially so when ...
Having accepted higher taxes, more state interference, and virtually all of the Blairite agenda, even David Cameron's hair has moved left. The one thing that David Cameron is not is a Liberal of any description; his controlling agenda now differs little from the surveillance state enacted under Labour. The paternalist agenda of the Cameroons is now clear, even without a whisper of actual policy. So, although the desire for a change from NuLabour is becoming stronger across the country, there is little enthusiasm for the Cameroon clique, even (in fact, especially) amongst liberals in the Conservative Party. ...
Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what databases are controlled by his Department and its agencies; and what percentage of the data in each database he estimates is inaccurate or out of date. John Reid: The information requested is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate [...]
Or should that be the Americanization of soccer? Apparently The Football League is to consider a proposal to scrap draws and decide drawn matches by a penalty shoot out. The team that wins the shoot out would then receive two points and the team that loses the shoot out would receive one point. Frankly I think this is barking mad. A draw can be a perfectly fair result of a hard fought match between two teams – to award an extra point based on a shoot out seems to be pandering to the concept that there ...
It has been a madly busy week. Mainly because I have the final Lib Dem approval stage for parliament on Saturday so have been practising my speech and brushing up on all aspects of policy. I have known for some time that it was coming up on Saturday but all of a sudden it is here! I am looking forward to seeing how I get on, but will be glad to get it done as I can then focus on my election campaign again! Otherwise it has been a casework week. When I first thought about standing for council ...
Over at ResonanceFM there is another fundraising auction. This time bids are invited for two ancient books by Mr Key, House Of Turps and the ludicrously rare The Brink Of Cramp. Both of these were published in the year that Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe, although that may be purely coincidental. For further details, and [...]
My apologies for the silence from this corner of South London, but I've been rather busy, delivering leaflets in Knight's Hill, assessing potential London Assembly candidates, dealing with mergers (I've been here before, methinks...) and, tonight, attending the Annual Dinner of Borough of Brent Liberal Democrats, soon to be, I hope, my Local Party. Yes, that does mean that the Valladares