Thursday 10th May 2007

11:51 pm

Gated communities and entryphones

Gravatar It would be illiberal of me to deny people the right to lock themselves behind gates, barricades and doors. But the growing number of gated communities, mansion blocks with entryphones etc. is becoming a major issue. Of course if somebody isn't at home, they aren't at home full stop. But most blocks now don't have somewhere for you to even leave a note - the mail boxes are inside Fort Knox. I
11:38 pm

Lost in translation - Babelfish is not always the answer

Gravatar I found this wonderful post on "Things and Stuff", a rather nice Everton blog I look at regularly. It's genuine and well worth a look. If your' brain is feeling a bit tired, the problem appears to be distinguishing the word "fan" as in a "football fan" from the word "fan" meaning "something that ventilates".
11:35 pm

A legacy of regret

Gravatar This, famously, is what Tony Blair said to Paddy Ashdown, back in 1999: “Going is the most difficult thing to do in politics. Too many people stay for too long. I would rather stop when people said, ‘Why is he going?’ than when they said, ‘Why isn’t he going?’ Or, even worse, ‘When is he going?’” (Tony Blair quoted in The Ashdown Diaries, V.II (1997-99), p.385)Tony Blair’s promise of a surprise
11:35 pm

Counterfeit Goods

Gravatar Shoppers seeking a car boot sale bargain this summer have been warned by Birmingham Trading Standards officers to be on the look-out for counterfeit goods. CDs, DVDs, perfume, toys and designer clothes and trainers are just some of the items that can be bought for what appears to be a bargain but turn out to be fakes. The message to shoppers is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably
11:32 pm

Labour tat

Gravatar The official Labour website is selling a range of merchandise to tie-in with the leadership election. A sweepstakes to win tickets to the ballot declaration is fair enough, but who on earth would want a mug or a badge with a “purple leadership election logo” on it? Frankly, it’s time for Mr Cullen to get [...]
11:25 pm

Not bad for a first try (That Face - Royal Court Upstairs)

Gravatar There must be a lot of people in the play writing community who hate Polly Stenham right now. Not only has she had her first play staged by the Royal Court at the age of only 20, but its has had some critics drooling and you now can't get tickets for love nor money. All well deserved in my book. Analysing it on the tube on the way home I realised you pick all sorts of holes in the plotting and
11:13 pm

So farewell then Tony Blair

Gravatar Today's media consensus is that the public has undergone a long process of disillusionment with Tony Blair. My own experience has been the reverse. When he was first elected it seemed obvious to me that he was an actor more than a statesman - and a terribly bad actor at that. All those speeches with his voice thick with unshed tears - the best known is his reaction to the death of the Princess of Wales, but there were many more - were so palpably insincere that I was convinced that the public would see through him any day. ...
11:07 pm

Tony Blair to resign

Gravatar Apparently this is news. Friday, 1st October, 2004: Tony Blair announces he will resign.Thursday, 7th September, 2006: Tony Blair announces he will resign.Thursday, 10th May, 2007: Tony Blair announces he will resign.Wednesday, 27th June, 2007: Tony Blair will resign.Very New Labour: always re-announcing good news.
11:05 pm

Magistrate’s take on ID

Gravatar I am tickled pink by the “Bystander”’s take on today’s announcement of the increase in expected costs for Labour’s ID card scheme. “It’s still cheaper than the Olympics.” Bah, indeed. Yesterday I was in a magistrates court before some of his colleagues, supporting residents of my ward as they went to watch the Council defend an appeal against [...]
11:02 pm

Positive Future - a conference for sustainable development practitioners

Gravatar Positive Future - a conference for sustainable development practitioners. This was a conference aimed at local government officers working on sustainability and the climate change agenda. Over 150 delegates attended the two day conference at Aston University in Birmingham. Climate Change is the number one issue facing the world and we do not have long to change our behaviour and abuse...
10:45 pm

Tony Blair's farewell

Gravatar So - Tony's begun the final stretch of his long goodbye. Shed a tear and forgive him for he only did what he thought was right seems to be his message. I guess - in the end - that's the get out of jail free card he wants to play - but I am not sure that Iraq, above all other issues, can be put away so easily. Of course, it's better waging war if you think it’s the right thing to do than waging
10:42 pm

Shingles, revisited

Gravatar I've previously blogged about my support for efforts to raise awareness of Shingles and improve treatment, so sad to say I'm now experiencing the issue first hand as it were - having been diagnosed with Shingles this week.
10:40 pm

How to do Video Campaigning #3

Gravatar To break up the theatre here is Bill Richadson's (current Governor of New Mexico and wannabe Democratic Presidential nommine) first TV adds in the primary race. I like these because not only do they neatly encapsulate his USP in the democratic race, that he has actually has some real life experience of running things, but also effectively casts him as a regular kind of guy. These are both nice
10:33 pm

A visit to my old council ward

Gravatar I went to Fakenham after work today to go to the dentists. Having taught in Fakenham a few years ago and been councillor there until last Thursday I am always inundated with people wanting to speak to me, which is lovely, but when you are in a hurry, like I was today, it can get a bit awkward. So I arrived, parked, quickly dashed across the road and thought I'd got away with it when suddenly a car tooted its horn at me and the driver quickly pulled over clearly wanting to speak to me. "Don't they know I ...
10:28 pm

What no Bonnie Tyler ? (Total Eclipse - Menier Chocolate Factory)

Gravatar Christopher Hampton hasn't had a very good time of it recently (leaving aside his adaptation of the Seagull at the Royal Court. The high profile revival of Treats (staring Billie Piper) in West End was greeted with lukewarm reviews and has allegedly struggled to shift tickets. The revival of Total Eclipse the Girl and I went to see at the Menier last night had equally bad critical notices, and
10:26 pm

A good question from a Tory

Gravatar Justin Hinchcliffe (Hunter and Shooter) has posed a really interesting question on his blog. Why does the UK government send £75 million a year in aid to China ? After all , China has a space programme, nuclear weapons and a massive trade surplus and they are hadly short of a few pounds. Can anyone answer "The Hunter's" question ?
10:16 pm

Blair’s squandered the lot

Gravatar EXCLUSIVE: Brown not to stand! - Hapless band of staff and regulars I fear that this is wishful thinking, but if I’m wrong Ryan has the scoop of the decade - move over Guido and Iain Dale! But there is a serious point here - and that point is this: Why is it that no other talented [...]
9:41 pm

Cameron is not shallow - he's gone to Birmingham for 24 hours

Gravatar David Cameron has been to Birmingham for 24 hours and he has written a very thoughtful blog about it apparently, so he is not shallow after all. Iain Dale says so. We really are exceptionally fortunate that our next Prime Minister but one is someone who can spend 24 hours in Birmingham and write a 1539 word blog about it on the same day. We really are blessed. Well done David! Good on yer guvnor!
9:35 pm

Something else for New Labour to ban ?

Gravatar You simply have to click on THIS LINK to find out what dangerous health risk has been identified but has not yet been outlawed by labour. I'd like to know how they could enforce and police a ban on this.
9:34 pm

Brown to launch leadership bid in Stevenage and Basildon tomorrow

Gravatar Hat tip to Conservative Home. Gordon Brown has chosen to go all middle England and launch his leadership bid via a tour of Stevenage at 2.30pm tomorrow followed by Basildon at 5.30pm.
9:28 pm

Foster Parents in Wales

Gravatar In a rather poorly advertised consultation by the Welsh Assembly Government, some 35 foster parents replied to the consultation, either singularly or as a couple. Some interesting statistics show that there are some 1,949 foster parents in Wales, so between 2% to 3.5% of the foster parents in Wales contributed to this consultation on Foster Parents Allowances. In total, a further 20 agencies contributed to this consultation. Be they Local Authorities or private fostering agencies. It is to their advantage to keep this allowance as low as possible. While in the original consultation, there are some ...
9:28 pm

The pleasures of being a retired councillor

Gravatar One of the few items in my diary these days was a Farewell Reception for Gillian Durrant, who has been our excellent Mayor of Newbury this year. It was a most joyous event made even more joyous due to sponsorhip of the wine by Gardner Leader and some excellent fare from New Greenham Tandoori. I mentioned that I am now spending a lot of time going up to my calendar and admiring the gaps. At
9:24 pm

According to more bollocks internet surveys...

Gravatar I'm half Donatello and half Leonardo (in terms of which Ninja Turtle I am, not my artstic abilities). Also, I learned that my dominant intelligence is mathematical, my hidden talent is communication, and I'm a perfect kisser. All makes perfect sense to me! I never realised you could learn so much about yourself on the internet! (Also, in what my boss disparagingly calls 'the real world', I learned that it's very rarely a good idea to make jokes about people 'having a good play on your organ', even if your reputation is such that it can't possibly ...
9:23 pm

Four website redesigns launched today

Gravatar Guardian Unlimited has redesigned itself in a similar format to the "Comment is free" pages. It looks very attractive. For some reason it is "redesign your website day" (a good day to bury new website designs?). Dizzy Thinks reports that LabourHome, the Labour party and WebCameron have also launched new designs today.
8:48 pm

You Might Have Missed This!

Gravatar It's a bad day to hide good news - or should that be the other way round?  Anyway, while the nation sheds a tear for the departure of St Tony of Bliar the real news is that interest rates rose to...
8:21 pm

Blair, Thatcher and the Naked Man

Gravatar So Tony Blair has now announced the date of his stepping down as Prime Minister as June 27th. This announcement brought back memories of the day when Margaret Thatcher announced she was resigning on November 22nd 1990. At that time I was working for the Bath Archaeological Trust in the beautiful city of Bath in [...]
8:00 pm

Day 2321: Blairimort est Mort

Gravatar Thursday: Part Three – Bury Bad News Security at home: I.D.iot cards cost UP over HALF A BILLION to FIVE BILLION QUID! Economic stability: Interest Rates UP AGAIN, another quarter percent to 5.5%! Education, Education, Education: Heads warn of EXAM MELTDOWN! 24 hours to save the NHS: UK access to cancer treatments among WORST IN WORLD! Green future: government CUTS GRANTS for home renewable energy schemes! Africa, a scar on the conscience of the World: just forget about the WAR, OPPRESSION and DEATH that continues in Darfur, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Uganda etc, etc, etc… ...
7:59 pm

Day 2320: Blairimort est Mort

Gravatar Wednesday: Part Two – A Star Dies! A huge star has exploded into nothingness, polluting the surrounding environment with fallout and casting destruction on all around it. It is possible that the uncharitable reader might think that this is SATIRE!
7:58 pm

Day 2319: Blairimort est Mort

Gravatar Tuesday:Part One – Remind Everyone about the Legacy This one. NOT this one. "Accept one thing, hand on heart, I did what I thought was right." Accept one thing, fluffy foot on fluffy middle: did you EVER bother to CHECK? Everyone, SING-A-LONG-A-DADDY! "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead…" PSA note to the people who REALLY matter – I have only written a small diary today, because I cannot write the things that I should write and should like to write, but I am still thinking about you, and so are my ...
7:45 pm

Follow that

Gravatar Today I watched Tony Blair deliver his resignation speech. He demits office as he took it up, certainly knowing how to pull the country’s heartstrings. Electability is far from guaranteed for Labour, and a lot of their ability to win in the last ten years has come from Tone doing what he did today. You could almost [...]
7:30 pm

Tony Blair's Legacy as told by today's news events

Gravatar What is Blair's legacy ? I thought I'd look at the news and internet to see what is happening today to see what he has achieved through his policies and looking at issues covered in various Labour pledge cards.. 1) A stable economy and low mortgages ? Well, interest rates are up today , house price inflation is so out of control in parts of the country that people are having to be lent seven times their salary in order to get on the property ladder and inflation is on the rise.. 2) 24 Hours to save the NHS ? ...
7:17 pm

ID card cost exceeds £5billion

Gravatar The official cost of the Government's controversial ID card scheme has risen to 5.31 billion pounds, according to a Home Office report issued today. This is 400 million pounds higher than the previous estimate. The Liberal Democrats have accused the government of delaying the announcement to bury the bad news on the day of Tony Blair announcing his resignation.
7:01 pm

Recycling Children's Clothes in Belsize

Gravatar Those of you that have children or grandchildren – have you ever felt frustrated by how little time your rapidly growing charges can wear those great looking and expensive items of clothing? Well here’s a great environmentally friendly solution. An acquaintance of mine is launching a website called Little Vintage ( which aims to recycle good quality children's clothes by holding regular bring-and-buy sales. The first one will be at Hampstead Town Hall from 10am to 4pm on Saturday 9th June and is aimed at 0-12 year olds. So please spread the word – get in ...
6:57 pm

Ming Campbell – constitutionally incoherent

Gravatar The Liberal Democrats have submitted a Parliamentary motion, attempting to trigger a General Election. On his blog, Ming Campbell justifies the move, writing: Before the last General Election Tony Blair pledged to serve a full third term and the British electorate voted for him on this basis. Now the Prime Minister is leaving it is only right that the British public have their say on who will be their next Prime Minister. It’s an odd position to take, because a General Election isn’t an opportunity for the people to elect their Prime Minister. A General Election ...
6:42 pm

Bye, Blair

Gravatar I remember lying in bed watching Tony Blair walk into Downing Street, all smiles and hopes for the future. The crowds looked really happy and optimistic that things were really going to change. I felt absolutely nothing. I wasn't as elated as I should have been given that the Tories had finally been beaten. I never really thought he would deliver. You can't really trust someone who can abandon their core philosophy the way he did just for electoral gain. It's ok to change your views, but the New Labour phenomenon simply seemed to ...
6:35 pm

"Resolution opposing Satan's plan to destroy the U.S. by stealth invasion"

Gravatar Sometimes I'm not keen on mixing God with politics. But I'm definitely not keen on mixing Satan with politics. Hattip : Andrew Sullivan
6:34 pm

Announce, announce and announce again

Gravatar One of the best sign-posted political announcements ever came today, with Prime Minister Tony Blair telling us all that he will be resigning. Quite soon. As opposed to when he told us he was resigning, but not for a while. And the times inbetween where he told us he was resigning, but was vague about when. As I watched his resignation speech it struck me as pure New Labour genius - as with investment for schools, crime crackdowns or new hospitals - when you have a good piece of news that you know the public will like, don't just ...
6:24 pm

The true cost of ID cards

Gravatar Enough with the complaining about the delay in publishing this ID card cost report: time to complain about what it reveals. Over the next 10 years, ID cards will cost £5.55bn. That’s up from an estimate of £5.4bn six months ago - but they also reveal today that, whoops, they got the numbers wrong in October [...]
6:23 pm

Eurovision 2007

Gravatar Looks like I might not get to watch tonight’s semi-final as our cable still isn’t working and our Freeview reception is dodgy at best. Here’s a quick rundown, nevertheless, of my views of the runners and riders for this year’s competition. It’s a year with a sudden glut of guitar music, following on from Lordi’s victory [...]
6:21 pm

Points of View

Gravatar An optimist might say that in a few years time we will look back at Tony Blair's period in office with affection and nostalgia. A pessimist might say exactly the same...
5:54 pm

E minus 2 days

Gravatar Today’s “Then and Now” goes to the heart of Europe with Belgium, and who can forget 2002’s classic Sister from Sergio & the Ladies? You have? Then here’s a reminder: I praised last year’s entry, Je T’Adore, as the best of the year - so it was knocked out in the semi-final. As a result, this [...]
5:33 pm

What are the parties for?

Gravatar Now the dust from the elections is settling there are questions being asked of all parties.Simon Jenkins starts things rolling for the Lib Dems with "Nice but hopeless, the Lib Dems should call it a day" in yesterday's Guardian.  In it he makes several points about PR - but he starts by saying:"What are Liberal Democrats for? They are the flotsam of 20th-century politics drifting on into the 21st, coagulated from ancient clubs, cabals, splits and defections from other parties. Not since the 19th century have they cohered round any great interest. They represent no mass movement, no breaking of ...
5:22 pm

ID cards announcement - why am I not surprised?

Gravatar So.. the day that Tony Blair announces his resignation (and guarantees the whole news agenda overshadowing just about everything else) the government slips out its announcement about the rising costs of ID cards. And yet again the cost has shot up. Leaving aside that the government was legally obliged to report this a month ago.. bringing it out to day is such an obvious sign of attempting to "bury bad news". Theres a full text of a press release from Nick Clegg MP at so I won't go into loads of detail here. Suffice it ...
5:02 pm

Legacy-smegacy, the boy-king departs

Gravatar I watched the Prime Minister announce his resignation this lunchtime and was left with little more feeling than the coldness you associate with the retirement of a much unloved old school-teacher. The PM has been 'resigned' to resignation for so long now that this was not so much a memorial service as a séance. The two most important news items today, that speak volumes about Blair's legacy, were the announcement of yet another interest rate rise and the illegal attempt to bury the bad news of more hikes in the cost of Labour's ID card scheme, fast ...
4:00 pm

Miracles do happen ! Blair gets something right !

Gravatar Did I really see the 'Big Man' 'Dr' Ian Paisley agreeing to share power with nationalists in 'Norn Iron' ? Big up for the perennial 'Dr No' of province politics. Ulster - well six of the nine counties - finally said Yes. How great that is ! Republicans too deserve credit. It seems not that long ago that on a Trades Council visit we took in a visit to the Maze prison and border areas and stayed in 'hotspots' in Derry and Belfast. To see republicans embracing home rule at Stormont is quite a compromise, but one well worth ...
4:00 pm

Dudley results

Gravatar In Dudley despite losing ground in recent years we held all our seats, including the by-election in Kingswinford North and Wall Heath (David Lavender is the new Councillor). We had also hoped to gain St. James from UKIP but Labour ended up winning that (and another from the Conservatives).
3:28 pm

Tony Blair and Me !

Gravatar May 1997, whilst having few illusions as to what might be achieved, ushered in Tony Blair and a 'Labour' government. As a [then] Labour party member and former councillor I cheered their election and the demise of the Tories. I was very definitely 'tribal' Labour ! May 2007 I stood as a Liberal Democrat candidate in the local elections in Torbay. That speaks volumes ! The authoritarian control-freakery of the Blair-led party doesn't trust it's own members let alone the wider public. There seems no ideological basis for them to exist anymore, other than they may or ...
3:02 pm

The Lib Dem opposition team for Haringey 07/08

Gravatar We have now published the full list of responsibilities for our Lib Dem team on Haringey Council (following our elections last night). In opposition we always work together and share responsibilities around as issues develop, but these are the key positions that we have all taken on: Leader - Cllr Neil Williams Deputy Leader - Cllr Richard Wilson Chair - Cllr Susan Oatway Deputy Chair - Cllr Ed Butcher Chief Whip - Cllr Monica Whyte Deputy Whip - Cllr Matt Davies Overview and Scrutiny Committee members Cllr Martin Newton, Cllr Matt Davies, Cllr David Winskill Muswell Hill ...
2:47 pm

Blairying Bad News

Gravatar From the redoubtable Home Office Watch: It has just been announced in today’s parliamentary business that the ID cards cost report - which the government was legally obliged (I repeat, legally obliged) to publish 31 days ago - is to be published today. You couldn’t make it up really, could you? Share This
2:45 pm

The Prescott pamphlet legacy

Gravatar A bizarre resignation letter from John Prescott was sent to the Labour Supporters Network today. I thought I might quote it in full: Dear Chair, As you know, for 37 years I have been proud to serve as your Labour Member of Parliament for East Hull. For 13 years I have had the added privilege of being [...]
2:41 pm

Wide Awake with The Twang

Gravatar The new video from Bearwood’s finest - The Twang! It’s the twisted love child of the Stone Roses and the Streets. And you can play spot the Brummie urban landmark in the video…
2:34 pm


Gravatar Millennium has written an good piece about Blake’s 7. (The reason for the post is some new audio plays, but it’s worth reading even if - like me - you’re not interesed in them I mention it for entirely spurious reasons. This passage… And often when it loses the plot it is because it’s stopped [...]
2:14 pm

A good day to bury bad news

Gravatar Liberal Democrat Voice report that the Government have taken advantage of today's announcement by the Prime Minister to slip out some bad news about their ID card scheme. The report, which by law should have been published on 9 April, revealed that the cost of the project has gone up by £640m since October 2006. Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Nick Clegg MP said: “This bad news has been illegally postponed, and is only now published a full month beyond the statutory deadline. That shows the depths of cynicism and media manipulation to which ministers are now resorting ...
2:07 pm

The British public should choose our next Prime Minister

Gravatar Following the Prime Minister’s announcement to the Cabinet that he is to resign, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ming Campbell has called for an immediate General Election: “Before the last General Election Tony Blair pledged to serve a full third term and the British electorate voted for him on this basis. “Now the Prime Minister is [...]
1:59 pm

Turkish Delight

Gravatar  Earlier today I attended a seminar and lunch (organsed by International Financial Services London — IFSL — and hosted by the international law firm Ince & Co) at which the speaker was Osman Birsen, the very affable Chairman and CEO of the Istanbul Stock Exchange (ISE). Turkey has been through some rocky economic times in [...]
1:55 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Brown not to stand!

Gravatar Word from my contact in the Treasury is that Gordon Brown WONT announce that he is standing tomorrow, nor will he ever. Gordon has worked out that with inflation and interest rates at high levels, it’s time to bail. This way he’ll be remembered for being one of the best chancellors and not a poor one-term [...]
1:42 pm

The Nationalisation of the Population

Gravatar A thought just struck me. If ID cards are really about protecting our identities as is claimed by the government this method puts our identities in the hands of the state. The state is telling us who we are. This amounts to the state owning our identities and therefore claiming ownership of us, or to put [...]
1:42 pm

Failings found over baby's murder

Gravatar This is the other side (see link) quoting from the article: Social workers failed properly to follow up child abuse allegations about a baby from Swansea who was later murdered, a report has found. The cases that cause great concern like this one that involve clear physical harm to a child. On one hand we have the system intervening because an "expert" states that there may be emotional abuse in
1:38 pm

Error found in counting of votes for Skelton Ward

Gravatar An arithmetical error has been discovered in the declared result for Skelton. For some inexplicable reason it appears that in adding the different totals the supervisor added the total for one of the Conservative candidates (672) to the Labour block total. Removing those 672 votes from the Labour block total still means that the declared Councillors (three Labour) were duly elected, though by much smaller majorities.
1:31 pm

Lib Dems re-elect Chris

Gravatar Chris Abbott Irene Nightingale Mary Ovens The 13 Liberal Democrat councillors at Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council have unanimously re-elected Councillor Chris Abbott as their Group Leader. Chris has been Group Leader since 1999. He and his wife Glynis both represent the Newcomen ward in Redcar, and comfortably held their seats at the elections last week. Chris’s Deputy will be Councillor Mary Ovens, also from Redcar (West Dyke ward) who is coming to the end of her term as Mayor of the Borough. The Lib Dem Group will be chaired by ...
1:24 pm

My Way Tony Blair

Gravatar Hat tip to Guido:
1:09 pm

Business as usual for Labour - burying bad news

Gravatar Liberal Democrats Embargo: Immediate, Thursday 10th May 2007 GOVERNMENT HAS BROKEN LAW TO BURY BAD NEWS ON ID CARDS - CLEGG The Government was today accused of breaking the law in an attempt to bury bad news after waiting until the day of Tony Blair’s resignation to publish a report on ID cards that reveals the cost of [...]
1:02 pm

Parliamentary Party table motion to trigger General Election

Gravatar Menzies Campbell: “Before the last General Election Tony Blair pledged to serve a full third term and the British electorate voted for him on this basis. “Now the Prime Minister is leaving it is only right that the British public have their say on who will be their next Prime Minister. “Today my colleagues and I have submitted [...]
12:50 pm

A letter to Simon Jenkins

Gravatar A cornucopia of Liberal Democrat bloggers have responded on their sites to Simon Jenkins’ comment piece in yesterday’s Guardian, in which launches a bitter but slightly confused attack on the Liberal Democrats. I see no point in adding to James Graham’s fisking. Nor can I ever hope to match the wrath of Cicero. I have not the time to rival Mind Robber’s essay. I cannot hope for a wide a readership as Stephen Tall. I will defer to Duncan Borrowman's acidity. The only way to add value to this debate is to take it to its source. I ...
12:49 pm

Tony Blair - a hard act to follow

Gravatar Tony Blair is an effective salesman and has managed to sell over time a number of rather bad policies. He did, however, make progress in Northern Ireland. His failure on Iraq is one issue, but also his failure to properly manage the civil service has caused a number of problems. He has presented these things well, but the reality is flawed.
12:21 pm

A Tragic Announcement… Oh, Who Am I Kidding?

Gravatar Ding Dong! The Witch is dead! Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch! Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead. Wake up, you sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed. Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead. She’s gone where the goblins go, Below, below, below, yo-ho, Let’s open up and sing, and ring the bells out. Ding Dong the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low. Let them know The Wicked Witch is dead! Perhaps I should wait until it’s verified legally, but he is morally, ethically, spiritually, politically, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably finished. ...
12:20 pm

Opinion: The state they've put us in - Lib Dems give Blair 4 out of 10

Gravatar Since 1997, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have formed the longest unbroken partnership of Prime Minister and Chancellor in modern British political history.  Despite their partnership being inharmonious and even bitter at times, their record in Government is a joint achievement; the years 1997-2007 are truly the Blair/Brown years. In the month, that marks their 10 [...]
12:01 pm

The long goodbye

Gravatar There are many people more qualified than I to comment on Tony Blair's legacy. As I write he has just announced that his last day as Prime Minister will be 27th June. On Radio Wales this morning the Secretary of State for Wales, Peter Hain, said that the Prime Minister has grown to appreciate the value of devolution and to understand it better. It is certainly the case that the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament were not his projects but a policy that he had inherited from his predecessor as Labour Leader. His decision to treat Wales differently ...
11:57 am

The Business of Blairs legacy (Education and all that)

Gravatar Somehow I feel that the story of the newly built Academy School in Peterborough which has no play areas is symbolic of the new Labour Blair ethos. Britain’s most expensive state school is being built without a playground because those running it believe that pupils should be treated like company employees and do not need unstructured play time.The authorities at the £46.4m Thomas Deacon city academy in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, due to open this autumn, also believe that the absence of a playground will avoid the risk of “uncontrollable” numbers of children running around in breaks at the 2,200-pupil ...
11:16 am


Gravatar So, the Prime Minister has announced to his Cabinet colleagues thay he is to depart office, and his statement in Sedgefield is to follow soon. I think VT operators in television news studios across the country were starting to get itchy fingers. Now we can look forward to Nick Robinson’s shiny nodding-dog head and lilting tones telling us that his “his acolytes will tell us that his legacy will be prosperity and public service reform” before dropping his voice an octave and concluding tiresomely “his critics, will point to the unfurling bloody quagmire of Iraq”. I’m going to do something ...
11:08 am


Gravatar This is trivia - not important at all. But a picture of the Conservative leader the other day made me wonder what was going on. Perhaps Simon Carr saw the same photo. Anyway his Sketch gives his view on the issue hang on, there is something you should know about Cameron. It may undo all his ambitions. In some unruliness, his coiffure had come undone. From my angle up in the gallery, it looked like someone had taken off the back of his head with a trenching tool. The lustrous, beautifully conditioned hair went round the side of ...
10:52 am

Highlight of the Blair Era

Gravatar I've been tagged by Peter Sanderson for my highlight of the Blair era. Highlight is too positive a word for what I have to say, but here it is. The moment when: It became clear there were no WMDs in Iraq.David Kelly was dead in suspicious circumstances and the Labour machine was spinning against him.It was clear that Tony Blair was personally responsible for taking the country to war on a
10:05 am

Russian History

Gravatar As Mr. Putin takes another swipe at Estonia for daring to stand up to Russian bullying, I notice that he argues against rewriting history. Well History certainly is the problem. After the October revolution, the Bolsheviks began a reign of terror- nobody knows how many people died, but it is in the millions. An artificial famine was created by the Bolsheviks in Ukraine- no one knows how many died, but it is in the millions. Stalin launched the Great Terror though the 1930s- no one knows how many died, but it is in the millions. ...
9:54 am

Guess what they're publishing today…

Gravatar To you and me, today is a big day, when the Prime Minister for the past decade announces his resignation. To the government spin-meisters, however, it’s just another good day to bury bad news. It has just been announced in today’s parliamentary business that the ID cards cost report - which the government was legally obliged [...]
9:54 am

A couple of words about Tony Blair

Gravatar Legacy: Iraq.
9:09 am

Dunston Hill and Whickham East declaration May 2007

Gravatar This is too good not to show. The declaration for the Dunston Hill and Whickham East ward in Gateshead. A Lib Dem hold with an increased majority - Labour threw everything at it to win. The Labour campaign was based on ridiculous claims no one believed and that were in direct conflict with what the Labour party was doing on the council. No tears have been shed over Labour's defeat here.
9:01 am

Dunston Hill and Whickham East declaration May 2007

Gravatar I couldn't resist the temptation to put this video on YouTube. It is the declaration of the election result for Dunston Hill and Whickham East in Gateshead, one of 2 wards heavily targeted by the Labour party. I was not the only person to be massively delighted that the Labour candidate here went down to a crushing defeat.
8:40 am

Tax credits fiasco .. again

Gravatar I'm not surprised at the Public Accounts Committee's criticisms of the Tax Credit System. Some of the most difficult pieces of case work I have dealt with have revolved around people being paid wrongly, having real problems getting those running the system to accept basic pieces of information, and then being harassed for overpayment refunds even while living close to the breadline. The tax credit system was well intentioned - but clearly has now been failing for years and needs radical changes. It is clear to me that the people affected by the government incompetence on ...
8:37 am


Gravatar Last night was the induction for new Members of Bury Council. My first surprise (other than my complete inability to attach an ID badge to my jacket which, on reflection, wasn't that much of a surprise after all) was that there were only four of us. Cllr Penketh and Cllr Grimshaw, together with Steve Wright and me. I had expected lots more, but then I suppose the results last week weren't quite
8:00 am

Coventry results

Gravatar The Conservatives held the Council despite losing two Councillors. Agonisingly we lost one of our two Councillors - Russell Field by just three votes!
7:49 am

Opinion: Two cheers for our foreign policy?

Gravatar On a recent visit to Jerusalem I was given a history lesson by a Palestinian shopkeeper that was the more blistering for his quiet humility in delivering it. He did not blame the US or even the Israelis, he said, for the situation his people had been enduring for nearly 40 years. No, it was all [...]
7:48 am

Nixon Hilton

Gravatar You don’t visit Hooting Yard to read about Paris Hilton, but there is something magnificent about this story from yesterday’s Guardian. I have emboldened the most jaw-dropping passages: … the heiress and socialite yesterday appealed to fans to sign an online petition urging California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to commute her 45-day sentence for driving while disqualified. [...]
7:42 am

Selection process starts for 2009 European Parliamentary Elections

Gravatar Now the Scottish, Welsh and local government elections are out of the way, the Party is starting the process of selecting our candidates for the 2009 European Parliamentary elections.  At the last Euro elections in 2005, we elected 12 MEPs in every Region of England and in Scotland, with two gains from the previous elections.  [...]
7:15 am

Friends of Magdalen Green launch event

Gravatar The Friends of Magdalen Green group gets formaly launched next Wednesday with a public meeting in Dundee West Church, Perth Road. We hope as many residents as possible will attend. For further details, please click on the headline above - which will display a poster advertising this event. You can read more about the group at
6:54 am

Council results again

Gravatar I was speaking with a West End constituent yesterday who pointed out the relatively meaningless way the way in which the City Council election results are displayed on the Council's website. These merely show the stage at which candidates were elected (and give no indication of the performance of unsuccessful candidates) - to take the West End Ward as an example:WEST END WARD ..... Turnout - 49.55% Donald Hay - Scottish Conservative and Unionist Elected at Stage 8 Fraser Macpherson - Liberal Democrat Focus Team Elected at Stage 1 James Walker Barrie - Scottish National Party (SNP) Elected at ...
4:52 am

Free trade, not always the panacea it is painted

Gravatar I know that our International Development spokeperson reads this blog feed, so if you have a moment, Lynne… The European Union is currently negotiating a trade agreement with twelve Pacific Island nations, one of which is Vanuatu, and whilst there, I became aware of local concerns in terms of the proposals. Reading the arguments, I began to realise that nations like Vanuatu enter into these
4:51 am

7 May - following the yellow brick road towards home

Gravatar Another day, another early morning flight, as it was time to head back to Australia. It was a very pleasant flight, and I got to watch the movie, “A Good Year”, starring Russell Crowe and Albert Finney. It will surprise a number of my friends to hear that I enjoy romantic comedies but underneath this bureaucratic exterior there is a hopeless romantic. My hotel room wasn’t perfect, with very weak
4:50 am

5 May: part 3: Air Vanuatu regrets to advise…

Gravatar Check in, or at least I would if there was anyone there. So, time for a beer in the airport shop, tourist information office, local grocery store and bar. I got talking to the other guy in the bar, who had been fitting a solar panel at Dillons Bay. Rather than be stranded there for seven hours without food or drink, he’d hitched a ride on to Tanna with the pilot’s blessing. It appears that Air
4:50 am

6 May - Happy Birthday, Georgia!

Gravatar Up early to head to the airport for my flight to Auckland, I had a nice economy class seat to look forward to, despite the fact that I had used sufficient miles for a business class reward. However, on boarding the flight, I took the opportunity to point this out to the cabin manager who, noting that they had four unfilled seats, offered to give me one of them. Thus, the journey was a much more
4:48 am

5 May - part 2: the most dangerous post office in the world

Gravatar And so my driver, guide, a friend and I set off across roads that, if upgraded, might reach farm track standard, through lush green rainforest, up steep, treacherous hills, past tiny hamlets inhabited by smiling children wearing Chelsea shirts (they get everywhere) and avoiding the odd stray pig (they’re very important with both financial and societal value). Eventually, after fifty minutes or
1:30 am

When I look out of my bedroom window in the morning

Gravatar I see the hedge on the other side of the road, then allotments. then the tree lined river, then pitch I used to play rugby on for my school and then a huge traffic queue on the A2 caused by TfL ending the contraflow in the Blackwall Tunnel. This is not a short queue - the AA Route Finder says it is 8.67 miles. All that traffic at a standstill, pumping out exhaust fumes. All because of the
1:09 am

What are political columnists for?

Gravatar What are political columists for? They are the flotsam of 20th-century journalism drifting on into the 21st, coagulated from ancient fleet street bars, sterotyping, and an era when there was not a large volume of on-line discussion. Not since the 19th century have they been interesting. They represent no mass opinion, no breaking of the intellectual mould. Ask a political columnist what he or she
12:15 am

Elections of a different kind...

Gravatar Following hot on the heels of the national elections, it was our Haringey Lib Dem group elections tonight. I got safely re-elected to my position on Overview & Scrutiny and for the next year will also be taking on the role of Deputy Whip for the group. I stood down from my position as our group's Finance spoke, for the eminently capable Cllr Robert Gorrie to take over - but will continue to be closely involved with scrutiny of Haringey Labour's budget through my role on O&S. We've elected a great team all round - we're all looking ...

Previous days:

Wednesday 9th May 2007, Tuesday 8th May 2007, Monday 7th May 2007, Sunday 6th May 2007, Saturday 5th May 2007, Friday 4th May 2007