Thursday 5th April 2007

11:45 pm

Thirteen for Dinner

Gravatar A dozen members of Liberal Democrat Youth and Students (LDYS) and I had a very jolly, social dinner at a Balti House just off Brick Lane, in London’s Banglatown. Some soon discovered that the Café Raj’s descriptor ‘fairly spicy’ was the Bengali equivalent of British understatement, but the curry and the Cobra beer certainly helped make [...]
11:19 pm

Birmingham Childrens' Services Information

Gravatar Children and young people living in Birmingham can now access a range of information about services available to them from a single source because of the launch of a new Birmingham City Council led website. The new site offers a signposting service to children and young people on education and learning, community and culture, family matters, health, jobs and careers,
10:28 pm

Loos Muze Bluze

Gravatar I am already suffering withdrawal symptoms as I am likely to be offline for a few days or more (depends if I can organise myself really). On the move.....again.....but at least just round the corner so hopefully won't be that traumatic. But apparently I can't get my broadband set up for about 10 will I cope???! Anyway, planning the house warming for after the elections.....all fellow bloggers and readers invited, (well I can easily squeeze in another 3!) let's hope we have some results worth celebrating.......
10:15 pm

Labour MP stands against his own party in Northampton, and is joined by chief whip

Gravatar More interesting news from Northampton: two of the independent candidates this year are Peter Evans, a sitting Labour councillor and their current Chief Whip (!), and Tony Clarke, who was MP for Northampton South 1997-2005 (when he was defeated). The local paper has more on this very odd tale. As Northampton is also the site of the Conservative [...]
10:04 pm

An unfortunate triumph for Liberal Democracy

Gravatar As pointed out in the comments on a previous posting, the Liberal Democrats have retained control of two parish councils this week: Bradfield in South Yorkshire and Kidlington in Oxfordshire. Why “unfortunate”? Well, these two electoral triumphs are due to the hard working local Focus team delivering numerous leaflets with bar charts failure of other parties to [...]
9:49 pm

Turning coffee into chocolate

Gravatar I'm getting quite good at this magic stuff, if I say so myself. You may wish to say "abracadabra" whilst looking at these photos in order to get the full effect:
9:49 pm

Canvass Catastrophes

Gravatar A couple of canvassing "faux pas" have occurred in the last couple of nights which have provided amusement to my colleagues, and may do the same to you. Last night I was asked how old I was by one resident. I answered honestly that I was 25. As I said this I realised that she might consider this a bit young, so I thought about making her feel more comfortable by making myself sound older. In a
9:47 pm

Four days off? Not on my watch!

Gravatar So the working week has come to an end, and the Easter break is upon us. Happy Easter to all those celebrating it, and I hope that everyone has an enjoyable long weekend. A large part of mine will be spent with fellow Liberal Democrats in Prestwich as the campaign gathers momentum. It’s a crucial stage now, as we take advantage of the extra days off work to get on with leafleting and canvassing.
9:27 pm

May Elections

Gravatar Well the papers are in and have been verified, and assuming I don’t pull out I’ll be facing re-election for Park Ward this May. Due to us having boundary changes I only got one year as being a councillor, and there is the possibility that if I get the 3rd largest vote I’ll be up [...]
9:01 pm

First electoral test passed

Gravatar As soon as the polls closed yesterday my first test as constituency organiser for Sheffield Hallam was successful. With the constituency boundary changing at the next General Election, I am now also responsible for Stannington Ward, which includes part of Bradfield Parish Council. This is the first time the local party has had to deal with [...]
8:54 pm

Smelling burning wheelie bins is the new "drug of choice"

Gravatar As the council elections get underway, this is a story which is bizarrely relevant. Wheelie bins set alight, and then smelt, are the new "drug of choice", reportedly. Barking or what?
8:01 pm

I'm in!

Gravatar I, like many other candidates across the country, received confirmation from the local returning officer today that I have been officially nominated to be the Liberal Democrat candidate for Lambourne Ward.
7:50 pm

Against conscription in education

Gravatar A new collective blog - Educational Conscription - has been set up to protest against Alan Johnson's plans to force teenagers to stay in education or training until the age of 18, with the aid of sanctions like ‘education Asbos’ and fixed-penalty fines. Not Saussure is good on this too.
7:41 pm

Bottle kicking and hare pie scrambling

Gravatar We know how to celebrate Easter here in Leicestershire.
6:36 pm

Having a message and sticking to it.

Gravatar Back in the 1980s I remember comparing our attempt at running a local election campaign at national level with the Labour effort. Our (Liberal Party) campaign talked about how good our councillors were going to be. The Labour Party focussed their national campaign on the NHS.
4:50 pm

Sell out headlines

Gravatar All journo's love eye-catching headlines.  But pity the poor journalist who crafts a well-written and insightful piece only to see it topped by some crude eye grabbing slogan that has little to do what the article says.That scenario is very much what appears to have happened in The Telegraph today.Alan Cochrane has written the best piece that I've seen this week about potential deals following the elections in Scotland in May. The piece does the usual hand-holding for those not aware that there is a devolved parliament north of the border, but manages to get more in depth than most ...
4:45 pm

A little learning...

Gravatar Fine, I thought. Not many people in the office today, so a good time to sort out a niggling computer problem I've been having with my wireless network. First thing I did was power down the router and power it up again - at which point it fused. Fortunately, we'd been supplied with an upgraded router which I'd never got round to installing, so I plugged that one in instead. That was fine until I tried to get my wireless access point to work with it. I'll spare you the details of what happened in ...
4:23 pm

It would be nice to believe you, Gordon

Gravatar Gordon Brown has published an article in the Times today in which he trumpets the “Education for All” campaign. Before his promise to help educate the 80m children worldwide who do not go to school causes you to reach for the champagne, however, two words of caution. Firstly, the bottle is already empty, as Brown has been making this promise for years. What is new is his focus on providing what one might call ‘emergency education’ for children who are displaced due to war or disaster. “For the first time, we propose to do for education what ...
4:21 pm

Newbury town council candidates

Gravatar Please click on each document to enlarge. The sheets include a few candidates for parishes outside of Newbury.
3:07 pm

Congratulations Councillor Liz Tucker

Gravatar Liberal Democrat Liz Tucker has been elected unopposed back on to Wychavon District Council (Worcestershire). Liz will represent Pinvin Ward for the next four years, Liz is also a County Councillor.
2:44 pm

Teachers Without Borders: would you change the name?

Gravatar Am rung with the news that GB (not Great Britain - but he who would be PM) has announced £20 million for children’s education in war zones in Africa. So three cheers! I cannot help but notice that since the introduction of the Liberal Democrat campaign to set up an education version of the Red Cross Gordon has been a bit more visible on this issue. Which reminds me - I am mulling over the name
2:43 pm

Gordon and Tony?

Gravatar Britain’s sulker-in-chief has a problem. Well, obviously he has many: the ‘rob the poor to bribe the well-off’ Budget, the inconveniently-timed ‘we told you so’ over his clobbering pensions, all the cheery affability of a bulldog raised on lemons… Take your pick. Perhaps the most crucial problem for Gordon Brown’s chances of election in his own right, though, is one he’s had for over a dozen years. The problem’s name is Tony Blair, but while the problem’s nature used to be that he was too popular for Gordon to beat, now he’s too unpopular for Gordon to be associated with. ...
2:28 pm

Why did nobody tell me?

Gravatar I can’t believe this came and went on Tuesday without anyone in our office knowing. Even if it only lasted three hours, I’m sure we could have made it to Covent Garden in time. We never have chocolate…
2:28 pm

Newbury Labour candidates - marked reduction

Gravatar Comparing the 2003 candidates for West Berkshire Council with the 2007 ones, it is clear there has been a reduction in the amount of Labour party candidates standing in Newbury. In 2003 there were 12 Labour candidates in West Berkshire. In 2007 there are 11. In Newbury in 2003, Labour stood candidates in St Johns, Northcroft, Falkland and Clayhill (in addition there was a Social Labour
2:08 pm

Idiots banned from standing for election

Gravatar Full story here. Maybe 250 year old election law isn't the best place to rip your text from.
1:58 pm

Shadowy characters

Gravatar A favourite whinge of uptight young Tories is that the Liberal Democrats have no right to call their front bench a ‘Shadow Cabinet’. Though the title has no constitutional significance, it made some conservative students at St Andrews University so upset they made a Facebook group in protest. I can understand how young people in Scotland could be irked by a party which isn’t the second largest laying claim to the name ‘Shadow Cabinet’. For example, the Scottish Conservatives (who, for starters, are nowhere near being the second party in that country) call the gaggle of parliamentarians and councillors who ...
1:27 pm

Hobby clubs: How "child protection" harms children

Gravatar The Manifesto Club has published a new report under this title: The government claims that CRB checks and other child protection measures are for young people's good. A new Manifesto Club report examines the case of hobby clubs, and shows that the main result of these measures has been to exclude the young. Several clubs have closed their doors to under-18s; and teenagers have been turned away from clubs if their parents would not accompany them. Adults have become wary of helping young people, with some coaches refusing to coach children.For more links on the malign influence of "child ...
1:21 pm

Tettenhall Regis nominations

Gravatar My nomination was duly accepted, as I expected it would be, so I am the Liberal Democrat candidate for Tettenhall Regis for the 3 May elections. There is also a Conservative and a Labour candidate too, no-one else though I believe across the City there are a number of 'others' be they Greens, BNP or Independents.
1:15 pm

The Scottish Tories: Beyond satire

Gravatar Iain Dale writes: If reports are true the Scottish Conservative Party is to be given its freedom to go its own way. It is likely to be called the Unionist Party.
12:59 pm

ukrainian turmoil

Gravatar I see that there is a fresh political crisis in Ukraine. They must have one of the busiest constitutional courts of anywhere in the world! Ukraine is a country that I have a huge amount of time for, having spent my 2004 Christmas there as an election monitor in the heart of western Ukraine, Ternopil. The people are incredibly friendly and hospitable. But the country is raked by political divisions between the east and west, and both sides are almost equally matched in terms of numbers. This obviously makes for a perilous situation, with either side equally quick to call ...
12:54 pm

Some more mayoral posting

Gravatar Tuesday's full council saw a motion passed that would ensure that if a valid petition come forward from the required 36,000 residents, then the mayoral referendum would take place forewith. The debate as such was restricted to the original mover, seconder, and the succesful amendments mover and seconder. Thus there was no time for me to make this speech: I rise to speak in favour of the amendment. I don’t want to enter into the debate today on the pros and cons of elected mayors. We all had the opportunity to do that on 14 Feb in the Evening Mail’s ...
12:16 pm

Bad Drugs Science

Gravatar One of the pleasures of a Saturday is reading the Bad Science column in the Guardian. This invariably picks up issues that have been annoying me during the week where I know that the ’science’ quoted in some news story must be dodgy but I don’t have the evidence to back that up. [...]
10:50 am

Fears for Two Tiers -- Part II

Gravatar I said yesterday that Labour councillors were feeling sore. But their aches would seem to have nothing on those of Oxford East’s present MP, Andrew Smith. This is the only way to explain his outburst in yesterday’s local rag. Under the banner ‘Unitary bid was wrong’, Mr Smith opines that Oxford should have put in a totally different bid from that which was submitted. Hold on – this is the bid which had cross-party support in Oxford, was signed by the Leader of the Labour Group and was described as ‘excellent’ by at least one leading Labour councillor. ...
10:49 am

Distance from power keeps us honest

Gravatar In another piece of groundbreaking journalism, the Times has invited Big Brother and Manchester University psychologist Geoff Beattie to rate the honesty and evasiveness of British politicians. It will be of no great surprise to Liberal Democrats to discover that their leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, gave direct and frank answers most frequently, while Home Affairs spokesman Nick Clegg was least likely to avoid the question. Labour scored consistently badly, with all Government Ministers proving more evasive than Campbell or even the Conservative front bench. Interestingly, the most evasive politician of them all was the “straight talking” ...
10:46 am

The Animal Welfare Act

Gravatar The new Animal Welfare Act is coming into force in England as of Friday. Basically, owners of animals are now legally required to ensure their basic welfare. It's amazing to think that up until now there was no obligation in law to care for one's pets, but congratulations to the government for doing the right thing. The government now needs to take steps to heavily reform or ban battery farming (and to work with the EU to ensure there is a consistent policy on this so cheap battery-farmed eggs from other EU countries can't flood our markets), and make ...
10:45 am

You tube censored in Thailand

Gravatar This comes back to the issue of respect for the king and the laws in Thailand with regard to respect for the monarchy. The Thai government has banned access to the You Tube site after a 44 second film showing graffiti over the king's face was aired. The Thai government asked Google to remove it and they refused. However, a government minister has said that access within Thailand would be reinstated once the film had been removed.
10:32 am

St Martins Garden Saved

Gravatar Last Thursday the Council voted to support a Liberal Democrat motion to remove the School from the Hayesfield development site. This means that everyone is satisfied, well almost everyone - St Martins Garden School, the Margaret Coates Unit and the Sure Start Children's Centre remain as they are; Hayesfield School can sell its old playing fields for development and if this site goes for housing children living in the houses will have a school with room to expand next door; local people still have their green open space to walk in. The only losers being councillors who wanted ...
10:29 am

Planning Applications In Combe Down

Gravatar Ward: Combe Down App Ref: 07/00874/FUL Parish: N/A Registered: 28th March 2007 ...
10:16 am

Muscular Christianity

Gravatar Having read this article, I’m having visions of Brian Souter and Alex Salmond bogling together to Sinitta’s disco beat (yes, yes, I know the story doesn’t involve either of them, but it’s in my head nonetheless). Share This
9:45 am

Suits you sir!

Gravatar What a good job that the suits used for the World Cup winning England Rugby team were available for the sailors released by Iran. What a shame the tan shoes weren't also available.
9:32 am

Video Focus April 2007

Gravatar This is my latest Video Focus for constituents.
9:01 am


Gravatar While it’s good that the BBC are repeating On The Hour (Tuesdays at 10.30pm on BBC7) and are advertising it on other radio stations, I do have to wonder just how many people will notice it’s a trailer when it’s played in the middle of Nicky Campbell on Five Live?
8:03 am

HHCTRL.OCX error and online windows updates

Gravatar The link is to a Microsoft support page. One of the key things with an automatic updating system is to ensure that you don't update with bugs. Someone's testing has gone astray and probably millions of computers across the world are going wrong in a slight manner when they are started. It would be interesting to know how many people are affected by this. I don't think we will find out, however.
7:46 am

nominations close

Gravatar Well, nominations for this May's local elections closed yesterday - so there I am along with the other candidates. There are a few days now allowed for people to change their mind and pull out. I won't be doing that, but sometimes people do for personal reasons. So really the final list is only final once the deadline for pulling out has gone.
7:19 am

How now Brown Cow

Gravatar How can we let this pass? What do you do when you know, you just know, that something is fundamentally wrong? We talk of, no actually more honestly we are TOLD of, the breakdown in society, of the problems with anti-social behaviour in the young, of the lack of ‘respect’ – and then we have a Home Sec who glibly dismisses the core values of honesty, trust and respect of the citizens of England in throwaway comments on ‘civil liberties’, as if there are only a handful of bleedin’ heart wishy washy libertarians out there ‘wiv sumfin to ...
7:15 am

Super hero?

Gravatar Like a tentative super hero, Brian Gibbons has transformed himself into Buttonman and is striding around Wales saving hospitals from the ravages of evil bureaucrats. In his normal guise as a mild mannered Health Minister, Brian has consistently told Assembly Members that he is powerless to act. Hospitals and key services are at the mercy of Local Health Boards and the Trusts. It is their job to decide what survives and what does not, he has told us day in, day out in the Senedd. However, come the stroke of noon on April 4th, he pulls on his mask ...
3:56 am

Surveillance Society……..IT’S BEHIND YOU!!

Gravatar Voice activated security cameras designed to ‘reduce anti-social behaviour’ ? John Stuart Mill will be turning in his grave. In compete contrast to everything the West has stood for since WWII and the advent of the Cold War and its terrible cost on those on the ‘wrong side of the wall’, we now see this country, yes, this country arguing for the ‘benefits’ of spying on our citizens so that private security companies on a contract can “shout” at people through a remote camera for dropping rubbish! Liberty is about the right to not only act within ...
1:20 am

Lib Dem group leader elected unopposed in Broadland

Gravatar Due to a major cock up by the Tories (they turned up with the nomination papers 50 minutes late), Liberal Democrat Group leader Stuart Beadle has been re-elected completely unopposed in Reepham in Broadland. I could make some flippant comment, but I don't know whether it was traffic problems or just a misunderstanding on the part of the Tories. What is interesting is that Stuart Beadle's ward, the rather lovely town of Reepham has now been Lib Dem held for the last seventeen years. What makes the seat even more interesting is that it is also the location of ...
1:02 am

The Navy 15

Gravatar It’s great news that the 15 have finally been released by Iran and even greater news that World War Three was avoided - thank [insert thing you worship here] - I’d only just decided I probably ‘would’ sign up if freedom and democracy really were under threat - and not just the fake threat dreamed [...]
12:41 am

Living on the moon

Gravatar There was an article a few weeks ago in the Observer about the increasing worldwide population and how something needs to be done about it as it’s the biggest threat to the world. Obviously the first thing that comes to mind is the Spooks episode where the ‘enemy’ is a militant group wanting to reduce the [...]
12:02 am

Speccie says Tory Party to split

Gravatar First it was the Home Office, now it's the Tories... every dysfunctional unfit-for-purpose institution appears these days to think it will prosper by splitting in half. It works for anemones, I guess. Anyway, this e-mail has just popped into my inbox, trailing the Spectator's scoop for the week. It would appear to mark the death of the Conservative & Unionist Party: EXCLUSIVE: how the
12:02 am

Are you registered to vote?

Gravatar There is just under a fortnight left until 18th April the deadline to get on the electoral register in time for this May's elections.
12:01 am

Day 2285: Is GOD a psychopath?

Gravatar Wednesday: Well, the Very Reverend Jeffrey Jones Dean of St Albans worries that he MIGHT just come across that way, what with the whole labelling you monkey-people as SINFUL and then demanding that his one and only son be horribly tortured to death in order that he (GOD, that is) might persuade himself to forgive your sins. This is enough to get the Very Reverend KNICKERS in a twist for World Daily Net, Christian News Wire and the HILARIOUSLY named Virtue Online. The obvious answer is NO… because GOD is not REAL. Never mind whether ...

Previous days:

Wednesday 4th April 2007, Tuesday 3rd April 2007, Monday 2nd April 2007, Sunday 1st April 2007, Saturday 31st March 2007, Friday 30th March 2007