Saturday 17th March 2007

11:34 pm

Oxford's blaze of glory

Gravatar For the last three nights, Oxford’s Broad Street has been ablaze thanks to a spectacular fire installation known as Luminox, part of the celebrations of 1,000 years of Oxfordshire. My photos do it scant justice: it was a magical, elemental event which attracted thousands, becoming the talk of the town. Beyond its ethereal beauty, two aspects struck home. On the first evening, everywhere I
10:03 pm

England thump Wales and win the Grand Slam

Gravatar No I haven't been drinking. As previewed earlier, England Women thumped Wales 30-0 this afternoon to secure back to back Grand Slams. Hurrah! Less said about what happened at the Millennium Stadium the better I think.
8:25 pm


Gravatar From Much Depends On Dinner : The Extraordinary History And Mythology, Allure And Obsessions, Perils And Taboos, Of An Ordinary Meal by Margaret Visser: At the end of the seventeenth century, John Evelyn wrote a book on salads, called Aceteria (things in vinegared dressing): A Discourse of Sallets, in which he extols the reign of lettuce [...]
6:39 pm

The core of Obama

Gravatar Hat tip to Dave Hill on Temperama for highlighting a very insightful piece about Barack Obama in the New Republic, called "The Agitator". Rather than me just re-quoting what Dave has quoted, have a look at his piece here. What it tells us is that Obama is a real motivator and leader. A man of passion and real steel. I am bowled over by the chap, but I should declare an interest - I carry a link
4:40 pm

Sunday's radio appearance

Gravatar This Sunday I'll be appearing again on The Westminster Hour: Radio 4, 10pm.
4:22 pm

Famous homophobe throws weight behind SNP

Gravatar According to the BBC Brian Souter is giving £500,000 to the SNP. Mr Souter is of course famous for leading the opposition to the scraping of the Scottish equivalent of Section 28. It is not for me to judge of course. But is it not interesting that such a prominent bigot is comfortable getting in to bed with the allegedly progressive SNP?
3:39 pm

Developing Students

Gravatar Hesitantly they put pen to paper. Frightened of a mistake, they begin again. Later you moan; at piles of marking from once reluctant students.
3:37 pm

Liverpool World Centre

Gravatar A plug for the Liverpool World Centre. This is a great organisation which, among other things, has been really effective in promoting Fair Trade - both the concept and the products. The Centre is having its AGM later this month (March) but is also looking to recruit more members. It's based at the Alima Centre on Sefton Street - or
3:03 pm

News for a Day project, parents evening .....and ....two weeks countdown to our next break ....

Gravatar It was parent's evening on Tuesday - I enjoy meeting the parents and families of my students. They often feel a little out of touch when their youngsters leave their local high school to travel over to us. We also had a different challenge at work this week - News for a Day - I was aiming to support a team of students and staff who were to produce a full newspaper on Thursday linking our college
2:29 pm

Mills told to stop bothering police

Gravatar I have some sympathy with Heather Mills-McCartney. She is beseiged by the press and has been phoning the police when she has feared for her safety. This has happened quite a lot. The police have warned her for "crying wolf". I am rather surprised that precautions or security resources aren't available to protect her sufficiently. I didn't realise she was short of a bob or too, and therefore
2:17 pm

Blair - Am I bovvered?

Gravatar It was quite a nostalgic event to see Tony Blair exercise his excellent "common touch" with Catherine Tate, complete with Prime-ministerial "Am I bovvered?", on Comic Relief last night. Only he can do that sort of thing. I can't imagine Gordon Brown doing that sort of thing. Though David Cameron might try and make a bit of a Eton mess of it.
2:13 pm

From Wiveliscombe to Barnstaple

Gravatar Yesterday's House Points column from Liberal Democrat News. Identity crisis I have always had a problem with the Christmas story. Not the wise men or the shepherds or the virgin birth, but the idea that the Romans would make every one return home for a census. I’m sure their empire was run more efficiently than that. It is harder to have such faith in this government. As preparation for the introduction of identity cards, all new passport applicants will be interviewed by the Identity and Passport Service. That means that each year some 600,000 people will ...
1:44 pm

Jane Austen and the Case for Extreme Porn

Gravatar I've borrowed this tag line straight from an article in todays Times for sheer eye catching bravado and incredulity. Actually, closer examination reveals that the arguments made in favour of, and against, extreme pornography in this article have nothing especially to do with Jane Austen whatsoever, and are in fact very standard debating arguments that will probably be heard in profusion during another conference of sorts held in Durham this weekend. Debates about sex were, and probably still are, a particular fetish of the under-graduate and graduate world. At university I always had a terrible sinking feeling when someone ...
1:33 pm


Gravatar I am indebted to Matt Withers for drawing my attention to this article in The Independent, based on the day reporter, Deborah Ross spent with Lembit Öpik in the House of Commons. As you would expect with a tabloid newspaper like the Independent, Ms. Ross seeks to get to the bottom of some really weighty political issues: I am interested in getting the measure of Lembit Öpik. What kind of a man is he, really? What does he believe in? What policies does he support (aside from being keen on getting the Government to spend millions deflecting asteroids)? ...
12:38 pm

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Gravatar Two good articles about how misleading statistics can be if you don’t look at other factors: First up is Don Boudreaux who usually writes at Cafe Hayek showing how the oft-quoted statistic of French higher productivity is actually a byproduct of the restrictive employment laws in France leading to less employment for lower skilled, less productive [...]
12:09 pm

Trident debate

Gravatar I managed to watch some of the House of Commons debate on Trident last week. I thought some of the speeches were very good, well thought out and with a lot of feeling behind them. A pity that the vote went the way it did though. Personally I don't think we should renew Trident at all.. but we certainly don't need to be making the decision now as the line the government has taken won't help us argue with other states about the need to reduce nuclear weapons.
12:00 pm

Real pavement politics

Gravatar Just back from holding a street surgery with my Fortis Green ward colleagues Cllr Martin Newton and Cllr Sara Beynon. It's the first time we've tried this approach, leafleting around 500 flats and houses in the area in advance - we already hold three fixed surgeries a month. We were outside Mansfield Heights on the Great North Road and in the end, we had four people come and talk to us. Which might not sound like a great return, but I was pleased with that - bearing in mind the other demands on people's time and the fact that ...
11:16 am

Tony Blair: am I bovvered?

Gravatar Amount raised by Red Nose Day as I write this - just over £40 million. Cost of Iraq War to the UK - £3.8 million a day. Am I the only person to look at those figures and feel at least a little bit sickened by Tony Blair's "Am I bovvered" routine on Comic Relief last night? Don't get me wrong about Comic Relief - it is a well motivated organisation doing great good, both in the UK and overseas.
10:10 am

Something for us all to aspire to, apparently !

Gravatar According to the press release on the e-politics website HERE, we should all aspire to be more like Boris. “Boris certainly had us rolling in the isles with his easy relaxed style. Other politicians should aspire to putting over their ideas with such good humour”, said local MP Angela Watkinson. (shouldn't it have been aisles not isles ? ) So come on everybody, let's be more like Boris ? - Personally, most politicians never had a penchant for trashing restaurants as Boris would have been expected to do in his Bullingdon Club days at University. ...
10:00 am

Another reason to oppose faith schools

Gravatar In an unbelievably petty and small minded move, pupils at St Paul's Catholic College in Burgess Hill, West Sussex, were banned from raising cash for Comic Relief as the school claimed, quite wrongly, that some of the charity's activities clashed with Catholic beliefs. The school were obviously completely ignorant of the fact that an agreement was made between the Catholic Church and Comic Relief seven years ago to make sure that Roman Catholics could still raise money if it would not be spent on any causes that clashed with their beliefs. What ever sort of upbringing is St ...
9:49 am

Believe everything you read. And then some more...

Gravatar I read the Prestwich Advertiser this week, as every week, and was a bit disappointed that two of the Lib Dems biggest projects at the moment managed to gain significant coverage without a word from us! First off Labour's plans to change Area Boards. Whilst nobody really thinks they work in their present format, plans to get rid of the open forum element are wrong in my opinion. We should be
9:24 am

Sin of omission

Gravatar I thought I knew all of the misdemeanours a man can be guilty of in a relationship. Apparently there's one I wasn't aware of: neglecting to tell your other half at a Lib Dem function that the person she is talking to is Vice-President of the European Parliament. So now apparently Diana Wallis MEP will always remember Katie as that person who watches The Apprentice and drinks 15 cups of coffee a
9:14 am

Sun, sea and sand

Gravatar The pressure of campaigning on top of my usual busy schedule as an AM is already beginning to have an impact on the time I have available for blogging. I have also developed a new obsession, the weather forecast. If global warming is going to produce better campaigning weather then maybe Rhodri Morgan had a point. No, I don't mean that at all. In fact the weather appears to be as contrary as it always is during an election campaign, with the sole exception of 1984 when a heatwave meant that I emerged from a bruising contest ...
8:45 am

I think I know who wants to be an SNP Peer ?

Gravatar Find out HERE. Of course I could be wrong.
8:28 am

Azzari Too

Gravatar Dave and I visited another of Bearwood’s restaurants last night - Azzari Too, on the Three Shires Oak Road. It’s one of the few restaurants in Bearwood I’d never been to, although I’d walked past it countless times and always been intruiged at what’s inside past all the greenery. After a swift pint of Peroni at [...]
8:00 am

Tough on crime? Err … when we can be bothered to turn up

Gravatar As Sarah Ludford MEP has discovered, Labour Home Secretaries only bother to turn up to one in three meetings of the key European Justice and Home Affairs Council, whilst their German equivalents turn up more than nine times in ten.
7:58 am

I Pick Opik…

Gravatar I caught most of Question Time last week and I have to agree with Norfolk Blogger on the strong performance of Lembit Opik. Lembit is already well-known to many for his Cheeky relationship and of course his t-shirt slogans! But it’s great to see a Lib Dem MP not only given the chance to build [...]
7:20 am

Good news at Pinegrove and Litter Bin replacement

Gravatar Was pleased to see yesterday that the work I had requested to stop the flooding at the Pinegrove entrance in Perth Road was being undertaken (see left). However, following residents' complaints about a litter bin destroyed by fire in Blackness Street (see right), I have requested that the Waste Management Department provides a new one.
1:55 am

Hillingdon Dinner

Gravatar Tonight I was at the Hillingdon Lib Dem Dinner. Guest Speaker was Graham Watson MEP - ALDE Leader and blogger. Graham was accompanied by his wife Rita - who incredibly remembered me from her days working for London Region in the early 90s, when I was Orpington Organiser/Agent. Graham commented to me that my reputation had gone before me via Rita from then - which worried me a bit, but I take it
12:50 am

Going for the Grand Slam

Gravatar Whilst most of the rugby watching public will be focusing on the Millennium Stadium tomorrow evening, I think its worth flagging that while England's men are probably only playing for pride, England's women will be going for a Grand Slam earlier in the day. If they do it, it will make back to back Grand Slams for the women, and even more impressively over the first four games they have only

Previous days:

Friday 16th March 2007, Thursday 15th March 2007, Wednesday 14th March 2007, Tuesday 13th March 2007, Monday 12th March 2007, Sunday 11th March 2007