Wednesday 21st March 2007

11:28 pm

Would a vote against Trident have undermined FPC?

Gravatar I have been pondering this question all day, since it was raised last night at FPC. It was pointed out that it could have been damaging for FPC, having heard all the evidence, coming up with a motion and putting it to conference to have it fall. Discussing the issue with a friend this evening I posed the question, would a vote against Trident have undermined the authority of FPC? No, said she, it would have underlined the authority of conference. I liked that. We so often laud the fact that we are the only party who still ...
11:23 pm

Modern slavery in Haringey

Gravatar Early start with the Freedom Breakfast - organised by Pastor Nims Obunge of the Peace Alliance. These are uplifiting occasions when Nims forces us (the Haringey community) to raise our eyes above our daily grind and brings out our better selves as we wrestle with really trying to make the world a better place. This year the 'breakfast' is focused on celebrating the abolition of slavery 200 years
10:54 pm

Hustings Needed in the Rhyl & Prestatyn!

Gravatar The Welsh General election is only 6 weeks away and up to now we only have Hustings booked in at St Asaph-Denbigh, these are for Farmers and Small businesses.Currently we have no bookings for Rhyl or Prestatyn, Hustings are a chance for local people to meet and ask questions of their candidates so you can make an informed decision on who to vote for on May the 3rd! So come on Rhyl and Prestatyn make us work for your Votes, so book your Hustings now !! 
10:51 pm

Welsh Lib Dems Roll up their sleeves and go rural

Gravatar  Trust in Wales Ymddiried yng Nghymru   This weekend two Lib Dem politicians got to grips with some of the rural issues in the Vale of Clwyd prior to the Welsh Assembly elections in May. Welsh Assembly Candidate for the Vale of Clwyd Mark Young, along with Eleanor Burnham AM took a trip into the countryside and visited Llandyrnog village this weekend. They stopped off at Speddyd Rural Business Units, a development created by farming couple Mike and Gwlithyn Owen. The units are the result of a farming diversification project and were part funded by grant money from the ...
10:42 pm

“Cut income tax and give us green investment” – Welsh Lib Dems

Gravatar  Trust in Wales Ymddiried yng Nghymru   Today, ahead of the budget speech on Wednesday 21st March, the Welsh Lib Dems urged the Chancellor to cut national income tax for Wales’ poorest and for hard working Welsh families, fund the cuts by rises in green taxes, and to bring forward proposals that would pave the way for an unprecedented Green Investment Programme for Wales. Lembit Öpik, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and MP for Montgomeryshire said: “Gordon Brown’s budget on Wednesday will probably be his last as Chancellor. He should use this final opportunity to put forward ...
10:40 pm

When it comes to affordable homes Labour are full of warm words and no action – Bates

Gravatar Welsh Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Social Justice, Mick Bates AM, today accused First Minister Rhodri Morgan AM of completely missing the point on affordable housing. The First Minister was responding to questions on Labour′s plans for affordable housing in the Assembly today. Mick Bates said: “When it comes to providing affordable homes the key issue is the price of the land. "That′s why I have consistently pressed the Minister to release government land to ensure we can provide affordable homes, not just for this generation, but for generations to come. "The Assembly Minister for Planning, Carwyn Jones AM, has spoken ...
10:38 pm

North Wales Slate Job Cuts – Eleanor Burnham comment

Gravatar Eleanor Burnham AM today responded to a statement from Enterprise Minister Andrew Davies on the loss of 175 jobs from Alfred McAlpine PLC, the parent company of three individual slate quarries in Gwynedd. Jobs will be lost from the Cwt y Bugail quarry in Blaenau Ffestiniog, the Penrhyn quarry in Bethesda and at another quarry in Ffestiniog. Speaking as the Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for North Wales, Ms Burnham said: “Our sympathy goes out to those families and individuals who will be severely affected by these job losses. “I welcome the Minister’s assurances that his officials will be ...
10:36 pm

Budget should pave the way for a green and prosperous Wales - Öpik

Gravatar  Trust in Wales Ymddiried yng Nghymru   Today, Lembit Öpik, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrat’s and MP for Montgomeryshire, called for the Chancellor’s budget on Wednesday to pave the way for an unprecedented Green Investment Programme for Wales. Commenting, Lembit said: “The Chancellor has been making loud noises over how green this budget will be. I hope he lives up to his claims. This budget should pave the way for an unprecedented Green Investment Programme in Wales. “Wales is in a unique position. We have a wealth of expertise in the green industries research groups and ...
10:17 pm

New Blogger - Jo Hayes

Gravatar I was delighted to get a message from my pal, fellow FPCer and Trident protagonist Jo Hayes, with a link to her brand new blog. She has been toying with the idea for a while, so glad to see she has made a start! As for last night's FPC, there are a few things I want to say, but having been up from 5.30am yesterday until 2pm this morning I may drop off before I manage anything, especially as I want to catch up with all the excellent posts on the budget. Have to say I have been giggling ...
9:16 pm

Does Tony Blair know what the rate of tax is in this country?

Gravatar Apparently not, given his wrong answer to Ming Campbell at today’s Prime Minister’s Questions.
8:32 pm


Gravatar For some reason I didn't post this when I originally wrote it. However it still seems to make sense, so I might as well post it now I'm reminded by Stephen Tall's review of Bob Woodward's, Plan of Attack, that I'd intended to post a few words about Fiasco, The American Military Adventure in Iraq [...]
8:26 pm

Exactly the same age as Match of the Day…

Gravatar I knew from various sources that I was 30 years younger than Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf and 60 years younger than Deng Xiaoping - but thanks to Duncan's post about Will's post about the BBC programme archive, I've now discovered that I am exactly the same age as Match of the Day. Liverpool vs Arsenal - and [...]
8:13 pm

Very Brief Hiatus

Gravatar Astute readers, and fanatical Dobsonists, will have noticed that yesterday was the first post-free day since Hooting Yard was relaunched at the beginning of February. The reasons for this are twofold. 1. I have a stinking cold, and am much dependent on Lemsip, which readers will recall is the favoured tipple of our poet laureate Andrew [...]
8:11 pm

Jam tomorrow - The foolish politics of future promises

Gravatar I cannot help feeling that Gordon Brown has made a massive mistake in delaying his 2p tax cut for 13 months, at least if my reaction is anything to go by. One of the cleaners had the radio on as I left work, and I commented "Oh good, I could do with the money with a child on the way". She responded "The tax cut isn't happening for a year though", and instantly within me, any feeling of pleasure was gone. The problem is that being told you are going to be given something unexpected is always a bit ...
7:31 pm

Three views on the Cameron response.

Gravatar Cameron was out of his depth and struggling in his reply to the Budget. One of two soundbites - that might have sounded okay yesterday - but no meat.
7:19 pm

Brown's Budget Bad for Bury

Gravatar There are plenty more significant voices than me talking about the Budget today in terms of its effect on the country as a whole, so I won’t spend much time on it myself. Suffice to say that I fully support Sir Ming Campbell’s excellent analysis that the “income tax cut” unveiled by Mr Brown is actually quite the reverse for those hard-working people earning the lowest wages in the country. For
7:06 pm

Working late on amendments

Gravatar Wednesday 21st March 2007 - A late night last night working on last minute amendment compromises ahead of the vote on the Kashmir report in the Foreign Affairs committee today. My bottom line throughout the negotiations for the Kashmir report has been to reinforce the right of the Kashmiri people to self-determination. I negotiated an eleventh hour compromise with the key players late last
6:55 pm

Ming right, Blair wrong on taxation

Gravatar Before today's budget came prime minister's questions, when the Guardian reports that the following exchange took place: Sir Menzies Campbell's turn - is the PM "disappointed" that the wealth gap is greater under him than Mrs Thatcher? "He is absolutely wrong," counters Mr Blair - the wealthy are wealthier but those at the bottom have done very well. "Yes, we haven't penalised high earners but those at the bottom have done well." Sir Ming is undeterred - "how can it be fair" he asks, that the lowest earners pay a higher proportion of their wage in income ...
6:53 pm

A great Shropshire Star headline

Gravatar Gardener finds ugly vegetable
6:08 pm

I am NOT too old!

Gravatar Will Howells tells you how you can find out what was on the TV when you were born "assuming you’re, er, not too old". Well I am too old. Though it does tell me what the News stories were that day. One of them is: VTOL - magic initials in the aircraft industry, for they stand for aeroplanes capable of vertical take off and landing. And at Bedford today the prototype of such future aircraft, the
5:53 pm

How David Laws scored one over the Tories

Gravatar Hats off to David Laws – the Liberal Democrats’ very own “two brains” – for seeing through Gordon Brown’s tax promises today. It was Mr Laws’ sharp eyes that allowed the Lib Dem Budget team to trump the Tories in the Commons today, I’m told. The Lib Dem work and pensions spokesman spotted that the [...]
5:41 pm

Richard Madeley and Rubbish - Words that now have another reason to go together

Gravatar Richard and Judy this teatime featured Richard Madeley in a rant over council's having fortnightly rubbish collections. I am still at a loss as to the reason why. My parents have had fortnightly collections in Broadland (where I now live) for four years whilst other councils across the country have done so for many years also without people in those areas having too many problems. Of course, there is a problem when you can't be bothered to split your waste between ordinary waste and recycling. Perhaps this is Richard Madeley's problem. He then had a rant about the French having ...
5:26 pm

BBC readers think Brown's budget is a disaster

Gravatar As regular readers (or should that be "reader"!) will know, I am the first to point out that the BBC does not represent the views of the public, and its viewers/listeners/readers are not an acurate cross-section of the populous. However, after 3697 votes cast in a BBC poll on the budget, over 57% believe the budget has not been good for them, while barely 20% think that they have benefited. Over at Have Your Say, the commentators are furious! The British people are clearly more perceptive than than the cheering Labour backbenches. Or is it simply that Gordon ...
5:24 pm

City Shapers event - Thursday 29 March 2007

Gravatar Local residents are invited to drop in to the City Shapers Tent in Victoria Square on Thursday 29 March 2007 to hear about the range of ways that the Birmingham Strategic Partners have to enable local people to get involved and shape the City. The event, which is funded by the Birmingham Strategic Partnership, also sees the launch of public consultation on the Sustainable Community Strategy
5:04 pm

Cleaner Neighbourhoods

Gravatar Last night's meeting of the Selly Oak Constituency Committee included a presentation on the targets that the Council has agreed with the Government to reduce unsatisfactory levels of litter and detritus (mud, dirt, sand, grit etc) across Birmingham. The good news is that yet again there will be a substantial injection of additional resources over the next year, as well as better training and
5:03 pm

Labour, party of social justice: RIP

Gravatar Talk about a double whammy. First, Labour’s Lyons Review flunks the prospect of wholesale reform of Council Tax, instead opting to tinker round the edges with bands that will make no difference to the vast majority of income-poor residents who suffer under the current system. Then, Gordon Brown decides to double the starting rate of income tax, ensuring anyone who earns under £15,000 pa will
4:56 pm

Emergency Planning Unit awarded Beacon Status

Gravatar The Cleveland Emergency Planning Unit has won national recognition for its innovative work to ensure the safety of local people. The unit which operates on behalf of Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar and Cleveland Councils, has been awarded Beacon status. The Government-sponsored award which reflects excellence and innovation in local government, was announced at an Oscars-style ceremony in London on Tuesday. The unit joined forces with Cleveland Police and Cleveland Fire Brigade to highlight the successful inter-agency partnership arrangements operating in the area, and its application for Beacon status was one of only six successful “bids”. Twelve ...
4:28 pm

In figures: the effect of Brown's tax rebanding

Gravatar In his last budget, Gordon Brown has announced changes to the tax system. He's cut the basic rate of income tax by 2p. However, he's increasing (note: not scrapping) the 10p rate up to the level of the basic rate. After a thoroughly anoracky afternoon messing around on Microsoft Excel, I've made a chart showing the effect of Gordon's changes, as applied to the 2007-2008 financial year. It's only a rough guide; I'm neither a tax lawyer nor an Excel expert - but it does give a good general idea of the effect they'll have. And the ...
4:22 pm

Gordon Brown: Robin Hood in reverse?

Gravatar Gordon Brown is more of a Sheriff of Nottingham figure. But only one opposition party spotted it.
4:09 pm

Slavery: If you read one thing today...

Gravatar ...Read this. Or visit this site.
4:05 pm

If I had a $1,000,000...

Gravatar ... I'd buy you an exotic pet, like a llama, or an emu... or if I was Gordon Brown, I'd play with tax rates again. In fairness to the man though, he has made a gesture towards long overdue simplification of the tax system and doubtless shot a lot of Conservative and Liberal Democrat foxes in the process (I'm not sure what the Lib Dem Tax Commission will have to say in private but might be able
4:03 pm

Shameful disgrace of 10p rate abolition

Gravatar I never thought that Gordon Brown, a man who at least tried to appear fair to the poor and less wealthy, would introduce a budget which damages the poor and less well-off so much, while benefitting the middle classes. The abolition of the 10p rate is an utter disgrace. The fact that it is funded by a cut in the middle rate from 22 to 20 pence makes it even more shameful. Well done to Menzies for
4:00 pm

Budget Special

Gravatar Does Gordon Brown read this blog I wonder? Reluctantly, statcounter forces me to admit that he almost certainly doesn't. But it hasn't stopped me feeling omniscient today.
3:57 pm

Changing your mind

Gravatar Guess who said: The 10p rate is very important because it’s a signal about the importance we attach about getting people into work and it’s of most importance to the low paid. So prizes, as it’s Budget day, for working out that it was the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, back in 1999 - when [...]
3:57 pm

It's official, the elections are getting to me

Gravatar Royal Mail have to vet literature going out from candidates in parliamentary elections, and the Welsh Assembly elections. This is done by sending to a special email address that can pop up in front of a number of people. I am sending them hundreds of emails at the moment. I just sent them my work diary for the next three weeks. I didn't mean to. If you want to know where I am for the next few
3:25 pm

Electoral Commission Haiku

Gravatar Today is World Poetry Day So just for the Electoral Commission, a haiku (they know why...) People go to vote Ballot boxes and poll data Electoral Commission watches
3:25 pm

Robin Hood in Reverse

Gravatar So Gordon's final flourish is to tax those on below average incomes a bit more in order to tax those on above average incomes a bit less. After ten years of New Labour we'd expect nothing less!
3:25 pm

The Thinking Blogger’s Cartoonist

Gravatar While Mr Lawson Brown is busy slashing income tax at the expense of the lower-paid (see, it’s not just me who’s interested in time travel, though with no meaningful green taxes it’s hardly back to the future), I’ve been thinking about Mr Jonathan Calder’s tagging of me as a Thinking Blogger, or ‘Thogger’. How curiously unattractive that sounds. Though wary of what Mr Dome calls ‘pyramid selling’, I’ve come up with my own ‘Thogger’ list, and – to show how intellectual I am – a cartoon. Oh, all right, and a link to a learned academic journal that cites me. ...
3:24 pm

How Gordon Brown is taxing the lowest paid more

Gravatar Commenting on Gordon Brown’s budget, Liberal Democrat Leader Menzies Campbell said: “The big increase in taxation is a doubling of the starting rate of income tax rate. “The income tax changes announced in the budget will mean that anyone earning less than around £15,000 will pay more in income tax. “The 2p cut in the basic [...]
3:18 pm

Brown's Cheap Trick

Gravatar In Britain the gap between rich and poor is greater than it was under Margaret Thatcher.  The lowest earning fifth of UK households still pay a greater proportion of their income in tax than the ...
3:16 pm

Brown ups taxes on the lowest paid

Gravatar Ming Campbell’s verdict on the budget: “The big increase in taxation is a doubling of the starting rate of income tax rate. The income tax changes announced in the budget will mean that anyone earning less than around £15,000 will pay more in income tax.” You can read more on the Liberal Democrat website.
3:10 pm

Written Parliamentary Question: 21st March 2007

Gravatar Paediatrics: Vetting Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many paediatricians working in hospitals in England have an up-to-date Criminal Records Bureau certificate clearing them to work with children. A:This information is not held centrally. It is the responsibility of individual employers to carry out Criminal Records Bureau checks when employing any staff working with children,
3:07 pm

Brown’s “slight of hand” budget hurts the poor as well as the rich

Gravatar It came as no surprise that Gordon Brown delivered a few headline-grabbing surprises in his last budget as Chancellor of the Exchequer. By far and away the most eye-catching (though not unpredicted) measure was the grand finale, the cut in the basic rate of income tax from 22p to 20p in the pound. It seems like the tax cut that Middle England has been waiting for, but in truth it is what Menzies Campbell called a “slight of hand”, giving with one hand while taking away with the other. Tax measures are never equal, however – there are always ...
2:39 pm

Crick replaces Kearney on Newsnight

Gravatar Media Guardian reports: Michael Crick has been appointed political editor of Newsnight. The journalist famous for his exposés of Jeffery Archer is taking over from Martha Kearney - who is moving to host BBC Radio 4’s The World at One next month. Since 1992 Crick has worked on Newsnight as a politics specialist. Prior to that he worked for [...]
2:30 pm

Will you be better off?

Gravatar From the budget report, I’ve attempted to knock up a simple tax graph showing you who will be worse off and who better off under Gordon Brown’s new plans. He’s announced a cut of 2p in the basic rate of tax effective next April, but he’s also abolishing the starting 10% rate of tax, with [...]
2:27 pm

Fiddling while the earth burns?

Gravatar Sitting in the House of Commons today listening to the Budget was like a bad case of déjà vu. Most of the style was familiar – the longest period of growth since Attila the Hun, complete omission of bad news like a vast trade deficit, and an obsession with a legion of detailed tweaks to the tax system. Indeed, not only has the Chancellor fiddled and tweaked for 2007-08, but he has also set out detailed plans for the following two years. It seems strange that he doesn’t appear to trust the person he is ...
2:11 pm

Gordon Brown clamps down on CO2 emissions

Gravatar The shock news in today’s budget must be the  unexpected new green tax - a 7p per litre rise in the cost of sparkling wine, ensuring all that damaging CO2 remains well and truly corked.
2:11 pm

10/10 for presentation but 0/10 for 10p tax rise

Gravatar Pulling a rabbit out of the hat at the last minute was an impressive performance by Gordon Brown at the end of the budget speech. But then the reality sinks in. The 2p income tax cut turns out to be a 10p income tax rise for those on low and middle incomes. Only New Labour could be so dishonest. So instead of pulling a rabbit out of the hat, what he's really done is dip his fingers into the
1:56 pm

2p of Income Tax, so am I better off?

Gravatar Today’s announcement that 2p will be taken off Income Tax looks good, however the BBC report that I’ll also lose the 10p band, so some back of the fag packet (excel) calculations show. Before (according to 2007/8 figures from HMRC) Personal Allowance £5,225 = £0 10p rate £2,230 = £223.00 22p rate £8,545 = £1,87.90 Total tax = £2,102.90 Now (using [...]
1:43 pm

Lib Dem Voice seeks a new leader / evil overlord

Gravatar Ever since I set up Lib Dem Voice back in September of last year I’ve struggled with what to call myself - founder? manager? significant other? But my struggle is over - changes in personal circumstances mean I will be handing on the baton of running Lib Dem Voice to someone else from May of this [...]
1:24 pm

Liberal Music

Gravatar Since the right wing blogs are getting all excited about finding right wing music (and Iain Dale shows us the the Tories are still as jingoistic as ever) I’ve decided to look for liberal music. I must say there’s a lot. A hell of a lot. Liberals can claim all the music which is created by individuals, [...]
1:22 pm

Pastures new

Gravatar Six weeks from now I will move on from my present place of work to take up the post of Web Manager for one of the London universities.  It’s a very exciting opportunity to completely reshape a University website, and I’m looking forward to working with staff and students to embrace web 2.0 and produce [...]
1:20 pm

The strange death of political parties

Gravatar As I was listening to the comments from the Conservative spring conference, it occurs to me that party politics as we have known it has finally died in the UK. Without exception every Conservative expressed reservations about how David Cameron is leading his party- several even questioned whether the party even was Conservative any more. These views, remember, were being expressed to journalists- it was public dissent. In private, many of my Conservative friends are even more deeply anxious about what Cameron is doing, but their basic sense of loyalty would never allow them to voice these concerns in ...
1:10 pm

100 Drinkers on Facebook

Gravatar Facebook is already proving its worth, and the 100th member of the UK Liberal Drinks group joined in the last 24 hours. If you aren’t already on Facebook, you will need to register on the site before you can join our group, but once you do it is simplicity itself to keep in touch with the [...]
1:00 pm

PPC news: Kate Clarkson selected for Penrith and the Border

Gravatar The Cumbria News & Star reports that Kate Clarkson has been selected to stand for Penrith and the Border - congratulations to Kate.
12:54 pm

Vote on Sexual Orientations Regulations - TODAY

Gravatar Tonight, the Lords vote on the final submissions of the Sexual Orientations (Goods and Services) Regulations. There has been a final amendment made to the regulations, that read: "This House, having regard to the widespread concerns that the draft Regulations compromise religious liberty and will result in litigation over the content of classroom teaching, and having regard to the legality of the equivalent regulations for Northern Ireland, declines to approve the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007." Peers will then be asked to vote to strike down the regulations. Following Monday Evenings Commons vote, in which ...
12:38 pm

The blame game

Gravatar This is just a small point, but should the current Labour Assembly Education Minister really be blaming her Labour predecessor for the failure to invest in school buildings? In yesterday's Plenary session Jane Davidson did just that when she said: When I became Minister, the amount of money spent on school buildings was a pittance compared with what we are spending today. As she succeeded Rosemary Butler who had been the responsible Labour Assembly Minister for a year and prior to that Alun Michael who was the responsible Secretary of State for Wales from 1997 to 1999, it ...
12:22 pm

Council Executive vows to fight on East Dulwich densities

Gravatar Southwark Council’s Executive met last night to consider our response to the Government on the ‘urban/suburban’ issue.  Having taken advice from the planning committee we agreed that we should not cave in to demands from ‘Communities’ Secretary Ruth Kelly that high density developments should be allowed in East Dulwich (or Herne Hill, Nunhead and Rotherhithe). We recommended that Council Assembly [...]
12:18 pm

Internal party democracy - Tory style

Gravatar If you can ignore the fact that the Conservative policy is for the House of Lords to be elected using the first past the post system, which is itself a closed list system, you could be forgiven for thinking they had quite a principled take in the Lords reform debate a few weeks ago. [...]
12:14 pm

Journalist freed at a too high price

Gravatar Italian opposition MP's have criticised the government for arranging with the Afghan government to free five Taliban prisoners in exchange for an Italian journalist who was kidnapped in southern Afghanistan on March 5, as reported on the FT. When I first heard about Daniele Mastrogiacomo, I thought of the destiny of many journalists and even tourists who are abducted by terrorists across the globe. I therefore added the appeal to my blog. I'm glad he's free, however, I find difficult to justify this 'trading' of captured terrorists for his release. I'm also appalled that the Italian Left (Government and ...
12:00 pm

Day 2269: This is Just Happy Slapping with Hawk Jets

Gravatar Monday: To commemorate the fourth anniversary of Lord Blairimort invading a Middle Eastern country, the BBC tonight presented the Ten O'clock News from Iraq. Or more precisely from inside heavily defended military installations inside or floating just off of Iraq. While Mr Huw was stood in a dusty desert CAR PARK being drowned out by TANKS as they drove off to go and do tank stuff in the night, Mr Jeremy Bowen was reporting live from the USS Eisenhower in the Gulf, apparently being filmed by one of the fighter pilots on his mobile phone. Which ...
11:00 am

Barenaked Ladies in London on 30th March!

Gravatar Wahoooooooooooo!
10:53 am

Freedom of information. But don’t tell anyone.

Gravatar Quote of the week must go to Charlie Falconer: “People not the press must be the priority. There is a right to know, not a right to tell.” You only need to think about this for a couple of seconds to realise how dumb it is. After all, freedom of speech IS a right, and how [...]
10:42 am

"In Care" is not always safe for children

Gravatar The link is to a BBC story about a Foster Carer being convicted of abusing children in her care in Bristol. This continued to 2005 so it cannot be claimed that the procedures have been improved to prevent this from happening. What worries me is that I have heard of the death of a child in foster care in the North West. On approaching the local authority, however, they refuse to say anything.
10:29 am

I know who the next President of the United States is

Gravatar Last night I saw the election episodes in Series Seven of the West Wing. I still have three more episodes to watch and expect one or two surprises yet. I won't say who it was as they may be people still to watch it.
10:08 am

Cameron allies denigrate Conservative Home and Tory activists in general

Gravatar A couple of interesting comments from David Cameron’s camp in Monday’s Times. [T]hose close to Mr Cameron [pointed] out that the Conservative membership was not representative of the country as a whole. “A quarter of a million people are members of the Tory party. The important point is that’s less than one per cent of the electorate,” said a party source. I seem to remember another party leader building his career by riding roughshod over his party. I agree that governments should answer to and respond to the electorate rather than just their activists. But leaders ...
10:02 am

The Lyons that never roared

Gravatar Today the Government is set to publish the results of the 'Lyons' inquiry into local government finance. If the leaks are to be believed, he is going to propose a few extra council tax bands, improving council tax benefit, and getting on with revaluing all of Britain's properties. If this is true, it would be a pretty dismal outcome after years of effort. Council Tax, even with these minor tweaks is fatally flawed. The link between your house price, judged relative to nationally set property price bands, and your ability to pay is pretty weak. ...
10:00 am

Day 2268: Hair To Blair

Gravatar Sunday: Mr Balloon has been causing a real stir with his new hair: first it was on the right, then it was on the left, then it disappeared altogether. Hope – as they say – springs eternal. Meanwhile, Mr B has found a whole new way of having no policies: attacking the government's failures in the NHS, instead. This should NOT be a surprise; Lord Blairimort did it when HE was opposition leader! For Mr Balloon, this is the REALITY TV approach, best summarised as: "say the MADDEST thing you can think of just to ...
9:43 am

1st Hook Guides

Gravatar 1st Hook Guides came on a visit to the Guildhall in place of their usual meeting. I showed them round the Council Chamber, explained about how the Council works. Harry Kempson showed them the maces, and we all ended up having juice and fruit in the Mayor's Parlour.
8:43 am

Week thus far ...

Gravatar Had a very busy week thus far with constituents' queries and issues. At Council committees on Monday night, I spoke on a couple of matters:The summary of the 2006 Air Quality Updating and Screening Assessment for Dundee was on the Environmental Services and Sustainability Committee. The particulate matter concentrations in Union Street were above average. The report to committee indicated this will have been adversely affected by major construction projects in the vicinity. However, I sought assurances that this will be closely monitored and this assurance was given.The Communities ...
8:40 am

Budgets and the distortions of media Economic Debates

Gravatar Today is the annual Big Parade that helps economics get a bad name for the rest of the year. Yes it is ‘the Budget’, and the media’s so-called economics experts will be on show. One explanation of why the public perception of economics is so bleak is summarised in this quotation from a book published this month. “What the non-specialist sees of economics is largely the kind of macroeconomic debate covered in the news programs and newspapers, the forecasts about how much the economy will grow, what will happen to inflation or the dollar, whether the financial ...
8:07 am

Running on empty

Gravatar We have already had the scandal of an empty passenger jet being flown from Cardiff to Heathrow and back six times a week for five months so as to retain a runway slot at the London airport, now we have the Assembly Government using public money to run empty trains. The Western Mail reports that Labour Ministers in Cardiff Bay will be paying Arriva Trains Wales an undisclosed sum for a train service that won't be carrying passengers: Delays in construction work on the reopening Cardiff-Ebbw Vale line means that trains will not be able to run from ...
7:58 am

10,000 reasons why ID cards won't work

Gravatar The Independent follows up the story about 10,000 fraudulently obtained passports by pointing out that many of these will have fallen into the hands of terrorists. Despite claims by the Government that they are introducing measures to deal with this problem, their record so far does not lead one to have any confidence that the issuing of ID cards will be any more secure. The danger is that the level of confidence being put in the security of an ID card system could legitimise those which have been obtained fraudulently and lead to complacency.
7:52 am

150 to be prosecuted

Gravatar According to the Bangkok Post Thaksin Shinawatra is amongst 150 people who are facing the prospect of prosecution for corruption. The Assets Scrutiny Committee has produced a list which includes the Thaksin cabinet which approved the digit lottery in July 2003 and current and former senior government officials.
7:36 am

Day 2267: Invasion time again!

Gravatar Saturday: No, not another plug for the terrific Doctor Who DVD staring Mr Pat as Dr Who, this is a return visit to the Doctor Who convention in BARKING for my Daddies. Last year, I had escaped from Lord Blairimort to the MOON, and had to send my Daddies to investigate the Invasion. Well they must have gotten a TASTE for it, as they are back! This year was ESPECIALLY exciting as they had very special guest stars of no less than FOUR Dr Whos: Mr Paul from the Radio, Mr Colin from the Big Fish ...
7:35 am

Fighting honourably

Gravatar An article on today's Guardian by Dr Victoria Basham highlights the problems with "the all-too-familiar tale that the presence of women in the military causes boys to be boys". Following an article reporting of the court case where a service man was convicted of the rape of a female colleague, Basham criticises the reporting slant, which "reinforces the notion that problems with servicemen are an outcome of allowing women to serve in the armed forces". Quite. This is a timely reminder that we have stopped scrutinising society's misogynistic assumptions. In the belief that equality has been achieved, we often forget ...
6:55 am

By-election in Sutton

Gravatar That got your attention This is Sutton in Nottinghamshire, though.  The local team has been campaigning incredibly hard in traditional Labour territory.  From the telephone canvassing I have done it’s clear to me that Jason Zadrozny has impressed the voters with his hard work and  can win tomorrow. It will all be down to turnout so [...]
6:00 am

Day 2266: Power Crazed Alien Lizards, the Comedy Years

Gravatar Friday: Do you remember fluffy Mr Sir Alan Sugar and his POWER CRAZED ALIEN LIZARD Apprentices, from last year? Well, they're back! And this time the space lizards are disguised as CELEBRITIES. It was all for COMIC RELIEF, and they raised loads of money for Charity, which was good. But one of the LIZARD CELEBRITIES had ESCAPED over to BBC2: it was my old friend MR FRANK LUNTZ, doing his own COMIC TURN for the Newsnight Show. Hoping backwards and forwards between channels it was difficult to tell where the comedy began and where ...
5:01 am

We won't cave in to Government over development

Gravatar Southwark Council’s Executive last night refused to cave in to demands from Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly that high density developments should be allowed in Nunhead, East Dulwich, Herne Hill and Rotherhithe. The Executive recommended that Council Assembly challenge the Government through the courts if necessary to force the Communities Secretary to re-consider her decision. “We have made our case and it has been supported by the people of Southwark and by the Government’s own inspector,” said Richard Thomas, Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Regeneration. “We will ask Council Assembly to support our view once more that this plan is right ...
4:31 am

Councillor Profile - Caroline Pidgeon

Gravatar Ward - Newington Age - 34 First elected - 1998 Position on the council - Deputy Leader of the Lib Dem Group and Executive Member for Children's Services and Education since May 2006. Previously Executive Member for Education Nov 2004 to May 2006, Deputy Leader of the Council May 2002 to 2004, Chief Whip May 2000 to 2002, Regeneration and Environment Spokesperson May 1998 to 2000. Greatest political interest - Transforming our schools and making the Mayor of London truly accountable and stopping him interfering in local decision-making, along with the labour Secretary of State. Do ...
4:00 am

Day 2265: Elect the Elephant, part deux

Gravatar Thursday: Last week I told you all about how the MPs had voted to make the House of Lords Club be all elected. I had a good old look at the numbers and it turned out that the Labour and the Conservatories are split down the middle, Lord Blairimort only bothered to vote once, Mr Balloon is all over the place and only the Liberal Democrats are united and have their act together. Well, now their worthy lordships have voted too and they are NOT SO KEEN on having to stand for election and let people ...
3:39 am

New Canada Water Library

Gravatar There’s a new library coming to Canada Water after Southwark Council’s Lib Dem led Executive last night backed plans the iconic four storey design housing libraries, a café and performance space. The building will use the latest environmental systems including solar hot water and low energy technology. The replacement for the old Rotherhithe Library in Albion Street should open in early 2010. The £8.5 million building will be paid for as part of the regeneration of the Canada Water area. Lib Dem Executive Member for Regeneration Richard Thomas has been leading the work on this project: “We have always been ...
2:00 am

Day 2264: Balloon and Blairimort: together again

Gravatar Wednesday: If there is one thing that we should be repeating OVER AND OVER AND OVER it is the sight of Mr Balloon, so called leader of the "opposition", saying to Lord Blairimort: "…the Prime Minister has the support of the Conservative party, we can work together…" That quote PRECISELY. He's talking about rushing into a decision to build new Trident submarines so that we can have shiny American missiles that we will never ever use. But it really sums up the whole of the relationship between Lord Blairimort and Mr Balloon. They are ...
12:02 am

Liberal Diplomacy

Gravatar Tuesday 20 March 2007 At the annual Liberal International British Group’s Diplomats’ Reception in the National Liberal Club this evening there was a heady mix of London’s diplomatic corps (from the doyen, Kuwaiti Ambassador Khaled Al-Duwaisan, down) and LibDem Internationalists. Lords Garden (LIBG President), Newby, Roper and Steel — all visibly chuffed at having just given [...]
12:00 am

Day 2263: Bill for Climate Change (£50 billion + tip)

Gravatar Tuesday: Oh dear, Mr James has thonked me with a PYRAMID SELLING SCHEME! I had better wake up Daddy Richard and make him start typing in my diary. WE have a LOT to get through – I wonder if we will finish before Mr Frown starts his budget… So, after the Liberal Democrats lead the way on Green Policies, tailed by the me-too Conservatories, at last the Labour have brought up some proposals of their own to try and help the environment. Mr Millipede has announced that the government will cut Carbon Dioxide by ...

Previous days:

Tuesday 20th March 2007, Monday 19th March 2007, Sunday 18th March 2007, Saturday 17th March 2007, Friday 16th March 2007, Thursday 15th March 2007