Merton LibDems put on a well-attended public meeting on climate change in South Wimbledon this evening. The Party’s Environment spokesman, Chris Huhne, had been syphoned off at short notice to appear on ‘Question Time’, but his place was ably filled by his predecessor in charge of that portfolio, Norman ‘Parliamentary Questions’ Baker, MP for Lewes. Norman characteristically fizzed [...]
Thursday 17th May 2007
Tomorrow is the annual meeting of Gateshead Council. For that reason I am on a train now heading to Newcastle. It will be followed in the evening by the Mayor's Reception. Mayors in Gateshead have always been Labour, and if recent practice is anything to go by, the Mayor is a Labour Councillor who has only been on the council for a short time. We play a game at the Mayor's reception. It's called
I missed Iain Dale's comments yesterday about the way Robert Murat has been labelled and convicted by the press of the abduction of Madeleine McCann on the evidence of the fact that the Portuguese police have "named" him as a suspect. but I agree with much of what Iain said. To my mind, the Portuguese police have shown an enormous amount of incompetence throughout this whole investigation and before Mr Murat was questioned, indeed just hours before, the police admitted that they had "no leads at all". No doubt with this shocking revelation of incompetence from the authorities and police ...
Two and a half thousand Post Offices to close and half the country's A & E units set for closure too. is Tony Blair running a scorched earth policy, closing as much as he can, leaving nothing for Gordon brown to run ? It's like the Russian's withdrawal from Moscow and St Petersberg in 1812, leaving nothing for the victorious French to feast on and leading to their eventual defeat. The alternative view is that Blair is making all these unpopular decisions now so that Gordon can come in to power and say "Nothing to do with me ...
An unconfirmed report reaches me that the the Tories turned up at the AGM of North Devon District Council four members light. The result is that a Lib Dem was elected Chairman, and an all-party executive was elected, which was the situation before the recent elections. So despite a nominal Tory majority of one, the council remains NOC. My informant says this is poetic justice as the Tories got more seats for fewer votes than the Lib Dems. Does anyone have more on this?
Full Council AGM tonight saw the Conservatives take control of the Council with a Conservative Executive and also chairs of O&S and other committees. We argued that O&S should be chaired by non-administration parties. They rejected this idea. We argued that more work needed to be done locally. They rejected this idea. They also scrapped the highly succeessful Student Liaison Commiittee. They also...
This summer marks the 50th anniversary of ball-by-ball test commentary on the BBC. Cricinfo marks the occasion with an article on Test Match Special by Martin Williamson. I think he gets it right when he says: The hey-day of TMS was possibly the 1970s when John Arlott and Brian Johnston were at their best and transmissions continued even when there was no play. Indeed, many preferred those spells of inactivity as the team chatted and joked without interruption.There was a period in the late 1980s when the programme was dominated by an axis of disgruntled Northerners - Fred ...
Ok, I'm a big softie. I admit it. My heart wasn't hard enough to remain unmoved as a non Labour First Minister was sworn in. I haven't forgiven him for what he needlessly did to my very good friend Nora Radcliffe but the recent election has shown that Scotland can turn away from Labour. The success of this Government or otherwise will depend on its ability to listen, negotiate and work with the Parliament. In some ways, a minority Government could lead us to the sort of non tribal politics I've been wanting for, ...
Whatever you think of Ming Campbell's performance as Liberal Democrat leader, one of the reasons that he is struggling to make an impact reflects no credit on modern British society. Too many people think it is funny simply to point out that Ming looks elderly. And indeed he does look old for his years, largely because of the illness he suffered a few years ago. It must be galling for a former Olympic sprinter to suffer this treatment, particularly as he could probably still give many of his tormentors in the press ten yards' start. But if a ...
I don't think there are many nicer people in politics than John Swinney. He is a very clever man, too. I wasn't aware that amongst his many talents was an absence of the need to sleep. Thatcher was bad enough, needing only 4 or 5 hours, but Swinney will simply not have time for such luxuries as napping as he gets to grip with his massive workload. His new ministry covers everything from enterprise to Scottish Water to e-governance to planning. Given the amount of casework one relatively small constituency generates on the latter ...
Gordon Brown's coronation will be remembered for what ? For me it will be remembered for the announcement that his party, the party he will now lead, is going to close 2,500 Post Offices. Gordon brown claims he is going to spend six weeks travelling the country and listening. he therefore needs to be lobbied again and again about post Office closures, he needs to be shown the devastating effect this will have on rural communities and he needs to have it pointed out that Labour have been highly hypocritical on this issue. I remember in a ...
You can always tell when it's Breastfeeding Awareness Week - instead of positive reports of difficulties overcome and harmonious mothers and babies, the media is full of reports about how painful it can be and, well, formula's ok, isn't it? This, unfortunately, completely misses the point. In cultures where breastfeeding is the norm, problems are virtually unheard of, partly because new mothers are going to be surrounded by people who have breastfed or are breastfeeding their babies who can recognise and put right the first signs of trouble. I think it is criminal that mothers and babies ...
Sunday: "Pif paf pof, my heart goes pif paf pof!" Those were the TEAR-JERKING words of the Eurovision entry that never was from the Camp Cabin Crew of Air Scotia, aka "The High Life". And yet how strangely SIMILAR was the dirgeful ditty that we really did enter this year. Is it JUST POSSIBLE that singing "We're flying the flag all over the world" with a GREAT BIG Union Flag flapping behind you, at a time when we are still flying the flag all over that Middle Eastern country that we invaded, MAY have been ...
Latest from installment from The Jaggy Thistle, including some long-overdue recognition of the sterling work done by HMP Dungavel in keeping foreigners off our streets: It’s Official! Scotland tops when it comes to being nice to kids while jailing them… A glowing report from the prison inspectorate this week gave the detention centre at Dungavel top marks [...]
Perusing my free paper on the tube home this evening my eye alighted on an advert for MI5. It appears that they are short of linguists. The list of languages they are looking for includes all the ones you would expect, Arabic, Urdu, Somali, Pushto and Russian. Russian? I thought the Cold War was over. Or then again maybe not.
Adam Teladia reports that Matthew Green, who was Lib Dem MP for Ludlow between 2001 and 2005, is not to fight the seat again after all. He had previously announced his determination to win it back. We did it for Hereford and Harrogate, so we are certainly going to do it for Ludlow - a link to the local tourism site and a photograph of Clun Castle, which is in the constituency.
Liberal Democrat Voice reports that Phil Willis is to stand down at the next general election. At the last election Phil had a majority of 10,429, though there will be boundary changes next time. As part of our service to aspiring Lib Dem parliamentarians, we offer a link to the Harrogate tourism people and a photograph of this attractive town. Lord Bonkers adds: You will often find me in Betty's.
Numpty is putting it mildly. I am grateful to the Scots for providing a word which can avoid accusations of over-the-top posting. Anthony Charles Lynton Blair has succeeded into putting huge investment in the NHS and Education. He has completed a constitutional revolution in the UK. He has succeeded in the almost saint-like achievement of creating a kissfest (am I dreaming? - pinch, pinch)
Labour jumped straight into bed with the Tories again on Calderdale Council last night. Tim Swift’s Labour group voted to put Ann McAllister’s Tories back into all the cabinet positions at the Town Hall. As Labour and the Tories snuggle up for another year the Lib Dems will continue to be the only credible opposition to this [...]
One of the more pleasant tasks (or more ego affirming perhaps) of being a Leeds City Councillor is the annual MICE allowance (Members Improvements in the Community and Environment). Please don't ask me to provide a Philosophical justification in allowing Politicians to directly dish out tax payers cash. However like all 99 Councillors I have just received a pot of £3000 to spend in my ward or on City Wide projects. It does give you a bit of a "tool kit" to aid local groups, be proactive and perhaps make a statement or two. As this is my last ...
Today we learn the Forensic Science Service forgot to upload about 26,000 DNA samples onto the national database between 1994 and 2005. I expect they dropped them down the back of the sofa, along with those 27,000 case files on offences committed by British citizens abroad. (Is this the Home Office version of “sofa government”…?) This mistake [...]
So - it's to be a coronation! Guess the clunking fist from the future Prime Minister and the spineless consent from the ranks of Labour MPs (the same spineless ones that voted through the war) will deny members their say, the party a proper debate and Gordon a mandate. It would have been so much better if David Miliband or Charles Clarke or anyone had had the balls to fight Gordon. Even John
Amidst the gloom of official refusal to take responsibility for the mishandling of the Scottish election a fortnight ago, one bright fact has emerged more clearly today: The number of spoilt ballot papers in Scotland’s council elections was far fewer than in the parliamentary vote, BBC Scotland can reveal. Figures show that about 45,700 local government [...]
David Cameron, in relation to his no new grammar schools announcement, is quoted in 'The Guardian' as saying " Parents fundamentally don't want their children divided into sheep and goats at the age of 11". David Willetts talks, rightly, of the history of Grammar schools entrenching priviledge, but what about the genetically modified goats of Eton ? Dave's parents clearly did want to 'entrench priviledge' via his Etonian education. And, with the Academies having a questionable record in terms of entry requirements, we are far from the end of selection by ability by over-subscribed schools. Further, we are ...
... so says Gordon Brown - Prime Minister elect, but elected by no-one outside of Fife. How much 'prouder' and 'humbled' would he be if he had at least the support of the majority of the Labour party ? So 313 say 'yes' to Gordon, but what of the 200,000 other Labour members ? This is the man who has just said he hopes to 'rebuild trust in politics' - a bit rich from Gordon Brown, the man without a mandate !
Research conducted by the Liberal Democrats has revealed that the police spent a total of 56 million hours filling in paperwork last year. In a keynote speech to the Police Federation, Liberal Democrat Leader Menzies Campbell said: “The police have been turned into bureau cops. “The police should be allowed to get on with what [...]
Some light relief via DeadBrain: Tony Blair has hit out at the SNP, claiming they are “illegitimate and dangerous”, after the Scottish party inflicted heavy losses on the government in the country’s local elections. For the first time since the inception of the Scottish Parliament, the Labour party have lost their majority on what has been labelled [...]
All of us internet users have become very reliant upon it in recent years. Hardly a day goes by when I don't use the internet for some period of time either to get resources for work, make a purchase, get some information or news or simply to blog. So why does Russia think they can get away with its campaign of cyber warfare against Estonia ? This is an issue the EU needs to show it has a backbone over when EU officials meet with Russian officials in a few days time. NATO also needs to show some solidarity ...
Phil Willis, MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, has today announced that he will not stand at the next General Election. In a letter to members and supporters Phil thanked them for all their hard work and dedication, culminating in his election in 1997, 2001 and 2005. He said: “I believe that together we have made Harrogate and Knaresborough [...]
Rumours abound in Oxford political circles that two councillors are about to form a Conservative Group on the City Council. (see here, here and here) If they do so it will be the first time there has been a Tory group since 1996 when I was fortunate to be the agent for the Lib Dem candidates that booted the last Tories off (other than a very brief period when one was elected by accident in Martson a few years ago). Having gone 10 years without a group I can understand the Tories' frustration, but I would have ...
Norfolk councils' powers to object to supermarket planning applications look set to be weakened in a Government Planning White Paper, published later this week. Local Liberal Democrats warn that the review suggests a scrapping of the 'needs test', which allows local planning authorities to decide supermarket planning applications based on need.
So the government has decided, in its infinite wisdom, to close down one in five of Britain's post offices. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6664109.stm) Could there be any clearer manifestation of Labour's complete lack of understanding of what makes a local community tick? Open letter to Alan Cook, Managing Director, Post Office Ltd about the temporary closure of Belsize Park sub Post Office on Haverstock Hill Dear Mr Cook, We are writing to express our concern about the “temporary” closure of the above Post Office and the loss of an essential and valuable public service to the community and urge you ...
Whoosh - That was a quick leadership contest. 313 Polit Bureau nominations later and Comrade Brown is handed the reins of power. No discussion, no hustings, no outlining of policy or direction and the Parliamentary Labour Party effectively decided who would be the next British Prime Minister. He will be a Prime Minister with no mandate from the [...]
“Daumer plied [Kaspar] Hauser with a succession of substances, gauging each time his strong and hypersensitive reactions. Anything might throw the boy into a fit, cause cramps or compulsive shivers, or plunge him into a sudden unconsciousness. Daumer wondered at the odd succession of the boy’s sensitivities. Thunderstorms, the full moon, brandy, loud noises, quiet [...]
Brown's the next Prime Minister then. Congratulations I suppose. What's the point of Tony Blair hanging on for another 6 weeks then? Say what you like about there not being a general election when Thatcher was booted out, but at least the Tories had a contested leadership election back in 1990, albeit one by MPs only. The Lib Dems have always ensured that our leader was democratically elected, with one person, one vote, since 1976. The Tories' system of MPs choosing two candidates for the party membership to vote on, and Labour's system of allowing people extra votes depending ...
More excellent reportage and discussion on the new 'Our Kingdom' blog run as part of the Open Democracy setup. This one is a report by Anthony Barnett of two events - the annual Bindmans Debate (on Human Rights Cultures; a Social or Legal Phenomena) at University College London; and the launch of a new film, 'Taking Liberties' showing exactly what damage has been done to our freedoms during the Blair years - which if continued, the films introducer says, will take British liberties back to 1604. As the films blurb says: TAKING LIBERTIES uncovers the stories the government don’t ...
The readers of The Times must think I’m a right old Liberal stereotype, thanks to Mary Ann Sieghart: You have to read these comments through the prism of the typical Lib Dem member. In general, Conservatives adore their leader, Labour activists tolerate him and Lib Dems would rather he didn’t exist. As James Graham writes on [...]
Last night was the Annual Meeting of Sheffield City Council, with this year’s event all set to be more eventful than usual as the council is now in no overall control. I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that Labour kept control, given they are still (for now) the biggest party on the council. But [...]
In The Herald today, Christopher Mason, leader of the LibDem group on Glasgow City Council patiently explains the Liberal Democrats’ position on the proposed referendum on Scottish independence: I am not and never have been a dyed-in-the-wool Unionist. I can imagine circumstances in which I would vote for independence, if there were a broad consensus across [...]
It was interesting seeing the massed ranks of the Labour payroll defending Coronation Chicken (as Brown's ascent has been wittily called elsewhere). First we had Alistair Darling on Today. It was very amusing to hear him completely Humphried on the point that Blair promised to "serve a full term" as Prime Minister. Most entertaining, but I thought the badger (Darling) stood up pretty well after
Following the recent local elections in Bury which resulted in no party having overall control on Bury Council, the local Lib Dems yesterday voted not to enter into a coalition or arrangement with either of the other two parties. The Lib Dems abstained in proposals put forward by both the Labour and Conservative groups at yesterday’s annual Council meeting. We feel that it's in the best
I detest a stitch-up, so I was angry at the attempt to stitch up the leadership contest by getting other MPs not to stand, thus depriving the ordinary membership of a say. Profoundly undemocratic. I refer of course to the Lib Dem leadership contest last year. The attempt succeeded only partially, in that it kept some contenders out of the ring but not all. Fortunately there are robust, independent-minded MPs in the Lib Dem ranks: just the sort of people this country needs in Parliament. Not so the Parliamentary Labour ...
Lib Dem councillor Bob Skelly has become the new Mayor of Southwark. He was chosen at a ceremony held in the borough last night, beating the Labour nominee by 32 votes to 30. Bob has chosen the Damilola Taylor Trust to be his charity of the year as he was delighted to welcome Damilola's father Richard Taylor and Heidi Watson, Chief Executive of the Trust, to the ceremony. Bob has pledged to raise £50,000 for the Trust in his year in office. This is a hugely ambitious target, being more than three times the amount raised by the most successfuly ...
Firstly, many thanks to the local resident who advised me about the new Monopoly game - click on the headline above to view more - and make sure Dundee gets included! As her e-mail advises : "We're in 6th place just now and Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow aren't even on the board! I was always very competitive when it came to Monopoly and this is just adding a whole new dimension!! Vote now!! Get anyone else you know to vote too!!! The closing date for voting is 25th May." ...
When I read in the paper about leaked documents I often wonder who has given them to the journalist in question and what their motives are. I suspect that in the case of this story, centring on the leak of the draft terms under which Labour would run the National Assembly as a minority government, neither Rhodri Morgan nor his advisors will be too unhappy to see it in the public domain. The advantage to Labour of its publication is that it keeps them in the game and enables then to portray themselves as being reasonable in offering a ...
An objection to my previous post on nationalist fundamentalism in Ireland was raised on this forum: Ireland is used as a good economic model for Scotland, and I hardly think this sort of ‘religious nationalism’ which took over in Ireland will do the same here. You have to compare like-with-like… To which my reply is: It is highly unlikely [...]
So, they've finally decided that Prince Harry should not summon up the blood, stiffen the sinews nor imitate the action of a tiger, in short not go to Iraq. Of course, none of us should have gone to Iraq. Also, (pace Bernard Bresslaw, Alfie Bass and other ITV stars from 1960) the army is not a game. Specifically it is not Royal Tennis. I am not a pacifist. We need armed forces but we should
The Guardian reports today that "Researchers hope that a treatment for hair loss may be within sight after healthy hair-producing follicles were regenerated in adult skin in mice." I can understand why some bald men want to grow their hair back. I can appreciate that in some cases there is some cause for baldness other than genetics, which needs correction. However, to talk about male pattern
Dear Ming As I am sure you have seen, Mary Ann Sieghart has a piece on you in the Times that is part defence, part exhortation. She spends some time contrasting your leadership with that of your predecessor in many ways, Campbell is better than Kennedy. He has knuckled down to the boring but important tasks of party policy, finance and organisation that had been left to fester under his predecessor. And he has won much more respect – and therefore more discipline – from the senior MPs around him. Personally I am not sure that ...
Will the moral authoritarianism that has gone hand in hand with Irish nationalism raise its ugly head here ‘post-independence’? We’re always hearing what a great model Ireland is for Scotland, but Irish society is still suffering from the ridgedly narrow cultural identity that the triumph of nationalism foisted on it: It astonishes how the authorities in [...]
That seems to be the message in the Times. Mrs Lane is pursuing an action for sexual discrimination on the ground that a male mayor would not have received such treatment, and that she had therefore been treated unfavourably. Trafford Council denies the claim. Mrs Lane said the council leader, Susan Williams, expressed to her the concerns of the mayor attendants about driving a baby in the car and being seen as “nannies”. Paul Gilroy, QC, for Trafford council, said that milk could have been expressed and given to someone else to feed her son. Mrs Lane ...
The utter paranoia of the Russian regime ahead of the Samara summit is quite extraordinary. It is not Russia that is the victim of politically inspired hygiene checks on its exports. It is not Russia that has been the victim of a politically inspired shut down on its major oil route. It is not Russia that has been threatened over the moving of a World War II monument and had riots fomented in its capital by a foreign embassy (although in recent years we may note that they have demolished several monuments and even desecrated graves in ...
So Gordon Brown will be Prime Minister without even an election amongst Labour party members. You have to go back to 1963 and Grouse Moor devotee Sir Alec Douglas-Home for the last example of a new Prime Minister "crowned" without an election, even of party members. It is a ludicrous situation. Ming was right to call for a General Election and I see that call was soon echoed by little Georgie
Last night at the Friendship Hall at Dundee West Church, I chaired the launch public meeting of Friends of Magdalen Green. Click on headline above to view my earlier blog entry about this.There was a super turnout of nearly 70 residents and a good lively discussion on the issues surrounding the Green took place. Liz Broumley did an highly entertaining and informative presentation, and the Friends group is now formally launched, with a Constitution and office-bearers. Chair of the Friends of Magdalen Green is local resident and community councillor Sheila Roy - congratulations to Sheila and the other newly elected ...
The proposal to install parking meters in the Hook Parade has been a hot topic locally. About three weeks ago I wrote about our response to the petition and how we had agreed to put the scheme on hold. This evening we held a very productive meeting at the Hook Centre to which we invited all the traders, all the people who live in the flats above the shops, plus a cross-section of the...
I don't believe the decision not to send Harry to Iraq was not in some way influenced by Buck House. It does not ring true that a lone General would just 'decide' about the destination of a Prince. I believe it is a poor decision despite the risks. My father was in the army years ago. The father of a friend of mine was blown up by the IRA. And one of my early memories was being told not to touch the buttons in a family friends' secure room. From an early age I knew it was a ...