Friday 23rd March 2007

9:54 pm

Welcome to Gordon Brown's Britain

Gravatar This week's budget was an unashamedly redistributive one, no surprise you'd think from a Labour Chancellor running for the party's leadership. Except of course for the fact that it redistributed from the poor and the struggling to the better off and the rich. This is the moment when all those people who have secretly hoped that Gordon brown will somehow be different from Tony Blair when he moves into no 10 should finally realise that he offers just more of the same. In choosing to cut the standard rate of income tax but abolish the lower 10p rate and to ...
9:07 pm

Anti-war T Shirts Illegal

Gravatar Interesting - this advertisment on After Downing Street (see on the left hand side). How long in Blair's Britain before anti-war T Shirts get banned?
8:59 pm

Fares Fair?

Gravatar Down to Winchester railway station yesterday (why do people all seem to say "train station" nowadays?) to distribute leaflets about the latest fares hike from South West Trains. This time they've decided to punish people using off-peak travel by a 20% increase in fares from May. The increase is going to apply to anyone travelling into London and arriving between 10 am and noon. Absolutely
8:46 pm

Mr Fantastic is not a Time Lord

Gravatar I just saw a trailer for the film Amazing Grace, which featured the line ‘he changed history forever’. And so I’m wondering, is there any way you could change history temporarily?
8:43 pm

The Winged Avenger

Gravatar Tonight’s Avengers episode on BBC4 at 11.40 is one of the most memorable; perhaps not quite one of the best, but if you see it, you’ll remember it. Dark and threatening, knowing and colourful, and all enormous fun, this borrows both sides of Batman – the grim avenger of the comics, the caped campery of the TV series – and turns them into something that could only be The Avengers. It looks great, though to say that it doesn’t look entirely realistic… Well, even for this series, here is an incredibly stylised story that repeatedly bursts through the fourth wall. ...
8:09 pm

0114 219 0043

Gravatar Does anyone know this number? We have been getting many missed calls and if we do manage to answer the phone the line seems to be dead. A quick Google search fails to bring anything up, however the Google Toolbar was suggesting the number, which shows that others are also looking. ps, ever so sorry if [...]
7:29 pm

Three schools

Gravatar Children are citizens, not just citizens-in-the-making. They experience their environment in a different way from adults and they have pertinent views about how it can be improved. So encouraging children to be good citizens not only teaches them to exercise their rights, but also provides decision makers with invaluable information and advice. Some time ago I met with the School...
6:53 pm

Campbell calls for an urgent review of stop and search

Gravatar In a speech to Muslim community leaders at a Mosque in Birmingham today, Liberal Democrat Leader Menzies Campbell called for an urgent review of stop and search powers, stating that these powers are being overused and alienating minority communities. Under the Terrorism Act 2000 Over 166,894 people have been stopped and searched Only 40 people to date [...]
6:03 pm

Never go back

Gravatar It was on this day, 30 years ago, that James Callaghan’s Labour Government survived a vote of no confidence, with a majority of 24, thanks to the votes of the 13 Liberal Party MPs. The dying embers of a Labour Government, led by a Chancellor-turned-Prime-Minister with no mandate from the British people, propped up by the third party in return for a few meaningless concessions… it could never
6:00 pm

Are the Tories heading for a meltdown

Gravatar I think the Tories are a bot confused. It is not MPs and Councillors that they should be wooing, it is the voters who 'might' vote them in. Unless the Conservatives have just realised they cannot win the next election.
5:45 pm

Young-Farming deal highlights unlevel playing field across Europe

Gravatar Commenting on the voluntary modulation agreement and the green light given to rural development programmes by the European Agriculture Council, Mark Young Assembly candidate for the Vale of Clwyd said: “I am very pleased that the Rural Development Programme for Wales can now be agreed, which will enable new applications to be considered and any enhancements for Tir Mynydd to be agreed. "It is great news that Wales will be able to set its own level of voluntary modulation which is appropriate for its agricultural circumstances within the UK. But it would be better if there was a uniform level ...
5:42 pm

Lyons Report is a lost opportunity to axe the tax

Gravatar   Trust in Wales Ymddiried yng Nghymru   Commenting on the publication of the Lyons Report today, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly leader Mike German said: "After waiting so long for this report, there is an inevitable sense of anti-climax. What were we waiting so long for? The Labour Assembly Government has delayed making decisions for Wales - waiting to see the colour of this report - yet Lyons has made no meaningful recommendations for Wales. "I am disappointed thatLyons′ has passed up the opportunity to rip up a council tax system which is increasingly unpopular and replace it with ...
5:39 pm

The Vale Needs Positive Politics!!

Gravatar Dear Ed,   Recent letters by New labour&Tory Councillors marks the start of a depressing, bitter battle for the Welsh assembly elections in the Vale. The scowling and personal attacks of these parties on each other does nothing for our area, it does not have to be like this!   Can we all start putting our differences behind us and talk about the real challenges ahead in Denbighshire,how can we help our dedicated Doctors, nurses and Teachers, Police meet their future demands. We need big changes in the way we treat the environment with more recycling and renewable energy Locally.   ...
5:39 pm


Gravatar This is an interesting case where the initial medical opinion was wrong. The judge refused permission to get a second opinion. Ages later it was found that the initial medical opinion was wrong. Importantly the Appeal Court also refused permission to get a second opinion to start out with. This case has a public anonymised judgment. This family has been very badly treated both by the medical
5:37 pm

Nick Clegg to accuse government of pursuing headlines not criminals in a speech Wolverhampton

Gravatar Liberal Democrat Crime spokesperson Nick Clegg MP will be coming to Wolverhampton for the West Midlands Liberal Democrats Spring Conference tomorrow.
5:37 pm

Nick Clegg to accuse government of pursuing headlines not criminals in a speech Wolverhampton

Gravatar Liberal Democrat Crime spokesperson Nick Clegg MP will be coming to Wolverhampton for the West Midlands Liberal Democrats Spring Conference tomorrow.
5:12 pm

Bob Woolmer Trust Fund set up

Gravatar The news that the Jamaican police are treating the death of Bob Woolmer as murder is utterly astonishing and very disturbing. I have just heard on Sky News that his family have set up a trust fund here to preserve his legacy through such things as a Bob Woolmer Cricket Academy. It is worth remembering Bob in his prime. This video shows his century in the second test against Australia in 1997.
4:32 pm

Europe: The Next 50 Years

Gravatar The 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome has hardly set Britain alight (though the Independent had an impressively constructive front page story yesterday, listing 50 reasons to celebrate the EU’s existence). Nonetheless, well over 100 Euro-enthusiasts, including myself, spent the day at Chatham House (the Royal Institute for International Affairs), listening to a broad range of positive speakers [...]
3:21 pm

Open universities

Gravatar The higher education funding debate continues to hold media interest.  An article titled 'The price of knowledge' in today's Economist picks up on a CentreForum issue that we tackled in a pamphlet last year ('Open Universities') and again in an event just a few weeks ago (imaginatively called 'The university funding system')Since holding our event it has emerged that the education history of an applicant's parents will be made available to admissions officers. This is part of the ongoing laudable attempt to increase stalled social mobility.The Economist points out, however:The evidence, though, is that the real stumbling block for poor would-be undergraduates comes much earlier. ...
3:16 pm

A film that I could easily avoid

Gravatar I read yesterday (but lost the link), that the Paisley family have commissioned a script of the life of Ian Paisley, that mild mannered compassionate soul that is the leader of the Democratic Unionists. Apparently the script may well be turned in to a film. Somehow I can't see Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorcese beating a path to Belfast in order tot make the film.
2:54 pm

Flats, Colds and One More Drug

Gravatar We have a new flat - and a brand new mortgage to go with it. It's all very exciting. I've also been labouring under a nasty cold all week, which has decreased my blogging rate. The cold has also made me flick through Libby's Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine and made me aware of another lurking threat to health. An 8 gram dose of paracetamol is potentially fatal to healthy adults, as is sustained consumption if 6 grams a day. There are 500mg in the standard paracetamol tablet, so stick to the dose on the packet and don't ...
2:51 pm

Visit to Heathlands

Gravatar One of the most important institutions in St Mary's is Heathlands, the residential and care home for the Jewish Community. I was lucky enough to be given a tour of the facilities today along with Cllr Donal O'Hanlon, and had the privilege of meeting a number of the residents. A number of my relatives have lived in Heathlands, and I'd been many times before, but I'd never been given "the tour,"
2:50 pm

Germany harbours killer!

Gravatar Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and screaming. Share This
2:41 pm

Budget Cuts?

Gravatar Rather peculiarly, a piece I wrote earlier about the Budget, the gap between rich and poor and Mr Blair lying about it popped up on Lib Dem Blogs, then vanished again. The Aggregator is still picking up the rest of my blog, and the article is still on that in full, so I’m not sure what’s happening. Anyway, if you want to read it, look below.
2:40 pm

Are there 2 Dave Andersons representing Blaydon?

Gravatar Does Blaydon constituency have two different MPs who just both happen to be called Dave Anderson? The reason I ask is that Blaydon MP Mr Dave Anderson, on 15th March, demanded in the House of Commons that there should be an “urgent debate” on the failure of his own government to pay nurses the 2.5% pay rise they have been awarded in Scotland. Nurses, he said, were “incensed” by the lower pay
2:28 pm

Royal Navy in the shit - sorry Shatt al-Arab

Gravatar The detention today by Iran of Royal Navy patrol crews is very serious. It is also however part of a hugely complex boundary situation so with cool heads we may navigate out of it yet. The problem for Britain with the international boundary between Iraq and Iran along the Shatt al-Arab waterway is that it is part of a complex and unresolved dispute between Iraq and Iran. Britain as a temporary occupying power cannot legally make concessions on behalf of Iraq on this boundary issue. Royal Navy patrols working in what Iraq maps tell them is part of Iraq ...
2:27 pm

More on Drugs

Gravatar Drugs have been hitting the headlines again today. According to the Guardian, "Alcohol worse than Ecstasy on shock new drug list" as a group of scientists argue that alcohol is one of the most harmful drugs, far more harmful than (say) ecstasy or even new super-powered cannabis. A shock only to those who live in benign ignorance of the medical and social effects of alcohol and/or most of the work that has been done on the subject of drug classifications lately. For instance the Fifth Report of the Science and Technology Select Committee which asked for "an urgent review ...
1:51 pm

Why Tories are so poor at the art of seduction

Gravatar What a pathetic little nothing Gideon Osbourne is. After moaning about how Gordon Brown ignores him (Gordo’s only human I guess), he went on to suggest the man was autistic. Now the little squit, having been outed for shamelessly going around trying to get MPs to defect, is suggesting that the people he has been [...]
1:40 pm

Sir Ming Campbell on the Budget

Gravatar Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Ming Campbell writes:
1:38 pm

Vote NHS

Gravatar Some sharp analysis from a new blog can be found here.
1:36 pm

Booze, Drugs and addictive disputes

Gravatar So alcohol may be a more dangerous drug than ecstasy… according to the report in the Lancet. Drugs policy back in the spotlight then. Unlike some here I am not entirely happy with the ‘legalise everything’ initiatives on drugs control and de-restrictions on alcohol availability. OK, this may make me a bad Liberal. But I would be happier if advocates for such policies dealt with issues raised by Griffiths Edwards in his thoughtful books. For example, examine carefully his suggestion that US ‘prohibition’ of alcohol was not the complete social disaster and incubator of organised criminality ...
1:34 pm

Ming speaks out against Stop and Search in Birmingham

Gravatar Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Ming Campbell will this afternoon make a speech at a Mosque in Birmingham attacking the Police's stop-and-search powers. He will say they are overused and alienating ethnic minority communities.
1:23 pm

Boris urges sharia law for bike thieves

Gravatar Boris Johnson. Nice, harmless chap or dangerous fool to have in a position of (potential) power? This story appeared online last week. I didn't see it then, but neither it would seem did thelondonpaper - they were obviously struggling to fill their pages today, as they've put it in this morning's paper as news. Bicycle thieves should be subjected to sharia law, is what Boris said at a meeting of the Islington Cyclists' Action Group. According to thelondonpaper he seems to have explained it away by saying that he was "using sharia law as a euphemism for draconian ...
1:18 pm

Another huge Lib dem by-election victory

Gravatar Over the last few weeks everyone in my neck of the woods (Ashfield) has been working hard on a Notts County Council by-election. The seat in question has always been rock solid Labour. However, the lazy Labour Party and the "resurgent" Tories were shown up last night by an absolutely stunning result for Jason Zandrozny (our Candidate) and Stuart Bray (agent and shortly Deputy Director of Campaigns). Full result was:- UKIP - 70 Labour (defending the seat) - 435 Tories (who assume that as their leader now has hair they can win without trying) - 222 Liberal Democrats ...
12:55 pm

The Lewes Arms

Gravatar There is an article in today's Guardian on the battle for the Lewes Arms in, naturally enough, Lewes. Greene King has taken the pub over and is refusing to sell everyone's favourite local bitter Harvey's. The locals have got up a petition, which the town's Lib Dem MP Norman Baker has signed, and are maintaining a picket. According to the Guardian, this is succeeding in persuading most people not to drink at the Lewes Arms until the brewery agrees to sell Harvey's again. The article contains a piece of disingenuity that is remarkable even by corporate standards. ...
12:47 pm

Happy Birthday Dad!

Gravatar My Dad is 82 today so I'd like to wish him a very happy Birthday. For someone of his generation reaching this venerable age was unheard of. Its astonishing to think that until he had his stroke, just over 6 years ago, he was still driving around with his set of ladders on the roof-rack and going up onto people's roofs to do a little repair work. Sadly, this is the second birthday he'll "celebrate" away from home as he's been in hospital, and subsequently, a nursing home, for the last eighteen months. At least there is the consolation ...
12:43 pm

Whitchurch Lane Chicanes - no more wait and truth revealed

Gravatar Residents, in fact residents across Bristol, will be relieved to know that work will start on Monday on the removal of the chicanes on Whitchurch Lane that has blighted traffic flow in our area for so...
12:25 pm

St Augustines Park Group formed

Gravatar Over the past 12 months many residents in Whitchurch have raised with me their concern over the state of St Augustine's park in Whitchurch. For years this park has been left to degrade with most ...
12:23 pm


Gravatar I got home from the office last night to discover a 4 page colour tabloid from Solidarity, which had been delivered by the Post Office. I know that this has also been delivered around Glasgow. Quite frankly, it's not inspiring reading and I'm sure that they could have targeted their niche market more effectively. I do understand that it's part of the attempt by Rosemary Byrne to save her South of Scotland list seat. When she was elected in '03 it was by a small margin and a reduction in the vote of less than 1% would have cost ...
11:56 am

Graham's blog entry 23rd March 2007

11:37 am

Ming launches local campaign

Gravatar The big Ming is in town today to launch the local campaigns. The theme for the day has been civil liberties, and their erosion under the current Labour government. There has been good coverage in the local papers! With front page coverage in the Post. The BBC also led with it earlier. Unfortunately, pressures of work, and a charity football match later have meant I've missed out on hearing Ming speak in person.
11:30 am

One of those weeks

Gravatar The last fortnight has been a perfect example of how there are monthly peeks and troughs in meeting patterns. (last week no evening meetings, this week surgery, Audit committee, Constituency committee, Ward committe, and finally meeting our IDeA peer). But the fortnight is also the most important as far as we're concerned at work as we're setting the budgets for the academic departments for next year. Tonight is my first evening off all week, so I get a chance not to think about student FTEs, budgets or NRF bids for a few hours.
11:18 am

Can a two-state solution work in the Middle East?

Gravatar Finishing off my thoughts from my visit - cut short by the Trident vote - to the Middle East - it was pretty clear that the Road Map was now becoming a virtually impossible route to follow. The good news, I guess, was that all the parties we met in Israel were now in favour of the two-state solution - as apparently are around 70% of the population. Ten years ago that wasn't the case - so that's
10:51 am

Focusing on education in conflict zones

Gravatar Following up on my earlier blog posting on my Teachers Without Borders policy consultation, you can now read my newspaper column on the subject on my website. As I wrote: Focusing on education in a conflict zone is vital in order to establish a future for that region. War only teaches war. Children need not only the therapeutic medicine of learning itself but also - as they emerge from the
10:49 am

Telegraph gets its own poll wrong?

Gravatar Today’s psephological trivia: The Telegraph reports its own YouGov poll today as showing the Liberal Democrats down one point, but the actual figures on YouGov’s website shows the party’s rating unchanged. Oops.
10:42 am

Tipping Point

Gravatar A few years ago, Conservatives used to comfort themselves that although the polls were against them, the cumulative effect of unpopular government policies and a desire for change would get to the stage where a rapid and dramatic move could take place in the relative support of the political parties. Well, the Tories have been waiting a long time. I do not yet believe that they have reached such a point. However the conventional wisdom is changing. Gordon Brown's budget was very politically astute- cutting the headline rates of tax, while still being essentially revenue neutral was both prudent ...
10:34 am

Sunday's radio appearance

Gravatar This Sunday I'll be appearing again on The Westminster Hour: Radio 4, 10pm. If you want to get advanced notice of my media appearances like this one, you can use the RSS feed from Flock Together. Party members can also register and login at - and you get automatic information on the right about forthcoming media appearances by all the Liberal Democrat MPs.
10:27 am

Found At A Jumble Sale

Gravatar At a jumble sale last week, I was delighted to pick up a bundle of Dennis Beerpint poetry books for less than the price of a toffee apple. Well, I say books, but these are leaflets really, of between four and twelve pages each, printed with a Gestetner machine in the early 1970s. Here at [...]
10:23 am

No rest for the wicked!

Gravatar Thursday 22nd March 2007 - After a productive day in Berlin, where I was a panellist for a discussion on "Muslims in Public Life: Promoting Inclusion or Reinforcing Barriers," held as part of an excellent conference on Muslims in Europe, organised by the British Embassy in Berlin and the British Council. There was a good cross-section of representatives from diverse communities across Europe with
9:22 am

Labour annihilated & Tory defection to Lib Dems

Gravatar I wouldn't normally comment on council by-elections from outside London that I hadn't even helped with, but... This post from Alex Foster alerted me to a pretty huge result on Nottinghamshire County Council. Look at the result last time and you will see a Labour majority of nearly 1000, with the Lib Dems on 14%. The result on Thursday? Lib Dem - 1979 votes, 73% Lab - 435, 16% Con - 222, 8% UKIP - 70, 3% Congratulations to new county councillor Jason Zadrozny. The only problem with the result is how ...
8:58 am


Gravatar Has anyone come across the Wikileaks site? According to their FAQ they estimate that they will go live in March 2007. Should be interesting as they claim that they have received over 1.2 million documents so far! According to their blurb on the home page they are "developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and ...
8:15 am

Social Care and Health Committee

Gravatar Last night I was at the Council's Social Care and Health Select Commitee. I am not actually a member of this - I am an alternate which means I go along to fill in if one of the members can't make it. Increasingly I find that the issues being raised with me relate in part to the NHS in one way or another, and I suspect that's a trend that will continue. And given that this committee is the one in which members have a chance to scrutinise the local NHS, I am sure that more and ...
8:01 am

Martha Jones

Gravatar Although there is another week of the Assembly term left politicians have been out and about on the streets of their constituency and region for some weeks. Most of us are fitting in the campaigning around our other duties. Last night for example I attended a dinner at Swansea's Mansion House to commemorate twenty five years of the City having a Lord Mayor. It was a black tie event so, as I did not have time to change, I was forced to spend the couple of hours canvassing I did beforehand going door to door in my dinner jacket ...
7:53 am


Gravatar It would not be an election if there was not some row about political correctness and bang on schedule David Davies AM MP obliges. This time it is over an Assembly Government memo that suggests that the use of the phrase "purdah" to describe the period of leading up to an election when politically contentious announcements should not be made is inappropriate as it may offend some ethnic minorities. The Western Mail reveals that in Persian, "purdah" literally means "curtain" and refers to the practice of preventing men from seeing women. Apparently, it takes two forms - physical segregation ...
6:25 am

I told you it would be close

Gravatar I am guessing my bit of phone canvassing and knocking-up made all the difference.  By-election result from Sutton in Ashfield North (Notts County Council):  Jason Zadrozny (Lib Dem)  1,979 (2005 vote: 654) Labour 435 (2,105) Conservative 222 (1,118) Well done to Jason, Stuart Bray and the team for an astonishing result!
5:21 am

Columba Blango welcomes slavery commemoration move

Gravatar Cllr Columba Blango, Southwark Council’s Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Communities, has welcomed the announcement by the Government that the UK will hold an annual day to commemorate slavery and people trafficking. “I am delighted that the UK will join with the rest of Europe in an annual day of slavery commemoration,” said Cllr Columba Blango. “This is an important subject for the people of Southwark as it represents part of the history of our area and of many of the people who live here.” “Regrettably, Southwark was a place where the components of the slave trade flourished two centuries ...
12:36 am

How Mr Brown flunked his big moment

Gravatar For a little while now, I’ve felt Gordon Brown has been maligned. That’s not to say I agree with him - don’t be silly - merely to suggest he’s been under-estimated by armchair pundits. Mr Brown has been a formidable Chancellor, one of the two dominant politicians of his generation. To think that he might be bested by the smart glibness of David Cameron was, I felt, wishful thinking on behalf of
12:06 am

Should there be a new climate change debate?

Gravatar There was some umming-and-ahhing on Internet Telly station 18 Doughty St tonight about the global debate on climate change being shut down / stifled.  The debate on climate change has been going on within the scientific and political community for four decades or more now. Yes, there should be scientific debate, but the scientific community should [...]

Previous days:

Thursday 22nd March 2007, Wednesday 21st March 2007, Tuesday 20th March 2007, Monday 19th March 2007, Sunday 18th March 2007, Saturday 17th March 2007