Saturday 4th August 2007

11:52 pm

Dear Lionheart,

Gravatar Dear Lionheart, Thank you for your comment on my blog. Yes me blog does get updated, but hasn’t been updated his week. Thank you for you concern you right-wing reactionary, xenophobic, homophobic, anti-education, anti-choice, pro-gun coward. Perhaps in the future if you would like you comment published on my blog you should use your real name and not the name you hide behind to write these offensive pieces. Stephen Morgan
11:25 pm

New Finish Turbodry

Gravatar "Isn't it annoying when plastics come out of your dishwasher still wet?", not hugely, no. Are we now so lazy that we need a chemical to save ourselves the back breaking quick-going-over-with-a-tea-towel incurred by the few items that don't come out the dishwasher dry? It's enough to turn me into an old git (clearly)...
11:07 pm

Without radical change, the iPlayer is doomed to be a toy of the technorati

Gravatar {iPlayer screenshot} I’ve been playing with the BBC iPlayer at home this week. It is, for the BBC, a revolutionary product involving many changes to their traditional delivery models. Content is controlled through Digital Rights Management (expiry dates built in), programmes are distributed using peer-to-peer technology (meaning every computer the programme is installed on becomes an Internet server at the BBC’s instigation), for the moment it works on Windows XP only, and a crucial part of the delivery mechanism was not only developed, but is owned by a third party company - the same company that provides the software for ...
11:03 pm

The Other Pleasant Surprise

Gravatar Of course, the other pleasant surprise tonight was Kent winning the Twenty-20 Championship. Well done lads.
10:40 pm

Yorkshire Day at York - 32nd annual reading of the Yorkshire Declaration of Integrity at the Bars of York (gates to southerners)

10:23 pm

A Pleasant Surprise

Gravatar Stephen Tall has ranked this blog as 16th= of the top 100 Lib Dem Blogs. A significant improvement over my previous ranking when I used to write as Liberal Legend. A very pleasant surprise indeed. Thanks Stephen. Will be interesting to see what the other judges have to say. This has vindicated my return to blogging.
9:01 pm

Shiny happy Policeman holding guns

Gravatar The Magisterium Committee sure is leaky ship. Our deliberations on who to entrust with the task of eliminating Labourista Magisterium Livingstone, and his army of nasty lizards, seem to known to just about everyone. First I'm down Little Sicily Working Dons Club when Toby McSleazy, a freelance tabloid paparazzi of my acquaintance, crawl up to me at bar and rasp "Liberali, oi 'ear that Signor Opik, the Estonian Strangler, may 'ave designs on the man in the big glass lampshade on the Thames... u 'ave any comment on that?" "You crazy McSleazy, what give you idea like that?" "Let's say ...
8:36 pm

I am 23rd best!!!

Gravatar Stephen Tall thinks this blog is the 23rd best Liberal Democrat blog. I haven't been so proud since I got my 50m swimming badge (not, sadly, still on my swimming trunks). Apparently, this blog is on a par with Lynne Featherstone, Duncan Borrowman and Mike Barker. Since I'm evidently as good as Lynne Featherstone, I did think about throwing my hat in the ring to be our candidate for Mayor of London. On a different note, I was interested to see the story about a number of firms removing advertising from Facebook because Facebook can't guarantee that their ads won't ...
8:20 pm

Labour fears Boris Johnson

Gravatar That much is clear from the concerted media operation unleashed against him. First there was the Guardian front page and the attack unleashed in the name of Doreen Lawrence. No disrespect to Mrs Lawrence, but I doubt that she is a regular reader of the Daily Telegraph and the Spectator or that she keeps a scrapbook of Boris Johnson's articles if she is. So the copious quotations in the Guardian story must have come from somewhere else. And my money would be on the Labour Party's press operation. Equally, the Guardian says that Mrs Lawrence launched a fierce personal attack ...
8:02 pm

Stephen Tall - What A Ranker

Gravatar Over at A Liberal Goes A Long Way that ever so clever, and very, very nice Stephen Tall has ranked his top 100 Lib Dem blogs, Stephen has done this because Iain Dale wants to include the best Lib Dem blogs in his 2007 Guide to Political Blogging in the UK, and somehow this very site has crept in at number 58. Fifty-eighth, fifty-eighth? Wow. Surely some mistake, but I've been at enough counts to know that you should never demand a recount when it is clearly you that has benefited from any error. Besides, although to be fair, he ...
7:46 pm

Freedom of Information & Making the Difference bids

Gravatar In the last year, Haringey Council responded to 73% of Freedom of Information requests within 20 days - against a target of 70%. But it strikes me that this is not a very ambitious target. Unless there is a good reason (i.e. it's simply not possible to provide the information that quickly), 20 days seems long enough to deal with a request. Seems unlikely that 27% of those the council received were impossible to reply to within 20 days. On a happier note, at another meeting I went to this week, the Muswell Hill Area Assembly group of councillors decided ...
7:24 pm

The Market Harborough cheesecake lives

Gravatar Two years ago I reported the news that that famed delicacy the Market Harborough cheesecake could no longer be sold under its traditional name. The term "Market Harborough curdcake" had to be used instead I was in what I had better describe as A Leading Town Baker today and was pleased to see that Market Harborough cheesecakes were still on open sale. They'll have to prise them from our cold, dead hands.
7:22 pm

Promoting social exclusion: new method found

Gravatar At Overview & Scrutiny this week, the Cabinet Member for Resources tabled a report about housing benefit that alarmed me. There is a proposal to introduce two Broad Rental Market Areas (BRMAs) across Haringey. These areas would then be used to set maximum private sector rents that housing benefit can cover - replacing the current system where a rent officer makes an individual assessment of each property. So far, so sensible, you might think. The problem is that the BRMAs are very Broad indeed. My ward would fall in the Outer North London BRMA, covering Haringey (except Highgate and Finsbury ...
7:18 pm

Prospecting for Nuggets

Gravatar I went into town earlier to have a mooch around, amongst other institutions, WHSmiths. Irritatingly, they seem not to perceive Shrewsbury to have as much of a market for Adbusters or the Ecologist as Cambridge, though I can't imagine why. What you can buy is several shades of magazine covering the diverse fields of Caravans, Dogs, Angling, Cars, etc, and a whole shelf from floor to ceiling of
6:52 pm

Hot news in the loft community!

Gravatar A posting I wrote on June 2nd about the government planning White Paper has now made it, two months later, to the top slot on the "Latest news" section of Loft Shop. It's given me one hit so far! You couldn't make it up!
6:43 pm

Circumcision - what's your view?

Gravatar The FT magazine today carries an article on the potential health benefits of circumcision. The author stays clear from taking a side in this rather controversial topic. I won’t comment on the religious meaning of it, partly because I believe that most religious practices are vested with religious meaning once they have become customary for whatever reason (political, sanitary, social …). Circumcision, dietary laws, dress (of whatever religion) were not ‘invented’ by a religion, rather they were employed by the religious authorities/community and have thus received spiritual meaning. This does not mean that I consider them devoid of religious meaning ...
6:25 pm

The sun's out and Spurs are winning

Gravatar I couldn't go to Leyton Orient on Wednesday evening as I had a council surgery to do, shame as the 4-2 win sounded like a good match. But today was my first live football of the season - Spurs took on Torino at White Hart Lane. We won 2-0 with goals from Berbatov and Keane. Like most friendlies, it wasn't the most exciting match, but it was certainly better than some. Good to see the new signings - Bent and Kaboul got to play, Bale and Boateng were looking on in their snazzy suits. We sat in the opposite stand ...
6:10 pm

Dodging Hypotheticals

Gravatar Mark Pack asks whether one should dodge hypothetical questions, over at Lib Dem Voice. He does so at the prompting of this Slate article by former Al Franken Show regular John Dickerson (I'm sure he's significant in other ways, too, but that's how I think of him), the thrust of which is probably summed up best by the line: But what might not be great for Obama politically is great for us, so we
6:04 pm

Parent visit and more DIY

Gravatar My parents are up visiting for the weekend, it is always good to see them and this time is no exception. I have been racking my brain to work out what to do with them whilst they are here, I want them to enjoy themselves.
5:59 pm

Cable car down

Gravatar We came along to Llandudno this morning with the intention of going up the Great Orme on the cable car. The aim was to do some photography from the top. But when we got to the cable car station, we found it was closed down. We abandoned the Orme and went along the pier instead, got out the telescopic lens and took a series of panoramic shots. Not quite what I was after. However, I did one of my
5:32 pm

Tour de France

Gravatar So the greatest cycle race in the world has ended with victory for Alberto Contador. Blood doping and drugs once again marred the race with Rasmussen and Vinokourov removed. Nic and I went to the fantastic weekend start of the Tour in London and watched this terrific spectacle of riders, support and advertising vehicles and Gendarmes go through the City of London at the Guildhall on the Sunday morning. It is amazing how this race grips young and old alike along the route whenever it comes to the UK, and this year was exceptional with no less than five British ...
5:31 pm

Drawing from Plant Life - Alison Day

Gravatar Thought I'd give a plug to a free exhibition coming up in Lewisham Library, in Lewisham Central ward.  It's "Drawing from Plant Life" by Alison Day. It's from 15 August to 10 September, library hours This exhibition is a series of botanical illustrations depicting local flora, both wild and cultivated. Works exhibited are in pencil, ink and colour. Alison is a trained botanist, artist and photographer. She combines this knowledge and experience when producing the drawings. Further information 020 8314 7729And while you're there, Lewisham libraries have launched a special two-for-one promotion, until Friday 31 August 2007. The offer is ...
5:20 pm

Whatever Happened to the Silly Season?

Gravatar August used to be the month when British politics shut down and newspapers had to run silly-season stories. Of course, the MPs and MEPs have all broken up as usual (the former for almost three months!), but these days, political life just carries on. There are no fewer than three local council by-election campaigns running in London at the moment: Shadwell in Tower Hamlets (polling on August 9), Stonebridge in Brent and Crystal Palace in Bromley (a LibDem-held seat). Earlier today, I went to the splendid new offices that have opened up for the highly winnable parliamentary constituency of Hampstead ...
5:17 pm

His Top 100 LD Blogs

Gravatar Stephen Tall has posted his top 100 Lib Dem blogs - this blog comes a middling 40th. The list is worth a glance over, and I generally agree with at least his top 10. Iain Dale is running a far bigger project over at his site, asking people to send in their top 20 political blogs, from which he will compile a top 100. It'll then be published in a book printed on paper, with real black ink and
5:14 pm

The problem with wrestling is ...

Gravatar Some people say that blogging is a self indulgent and almost utterly pointless pastime. Yet there are so many bloggers out there who really do inform and entertain. The best at this is Dizzy, who is not only a Tory (shame on him) but an Evertonian (he is forgiven for being a Tory). He has written a brilliant piece about he problem of drug taking in Wrestling in the US and the dominance of WWE over other wrestling Federations. I personally cannot stand wrestling. It's a sort of ballet dancing for strong blokes, all choreographed and planned in advance with ...
5:08 pm

Civic Suite 24hr alcohol license

Gravatar Was intrigued to see that there's an application for the Civic Suite - where councillors have their meetings and offices - to have a licence for 24 hour sale of alcohol and regulated entertainment. Not sure that would be very good for our health, or safety. And I'm not sure whether regulating our entertainment is yet another way of limiting free speech in the Council chamber. If anyone would like to comment (seriously) on the application, they need to contact Thracia Webster at, before 29 August 2007.
5:06 pm

MP's question Boris Johnson's attitide towards black people

Gravatar An interesting little piece HERE on the BBC website from a couple of Labour MP's pointing out some of the less than flattering phrases Boris Johnson has used to describe black people in the past. It is hard to imagine anyone beating Ken Livingston without taking at least some of the black vote with them, and given Boris Johnson's comments, it is hard to see why any black person would vote for him. Then again, I can't see why any person would want to vote for him at all.
4:02 pm

Brown Bin: geography lesson

Gravatar I was intrigued to be copied into correspondence about trialling the 'brown bins' scheme. The Council says: With regards to the brown bins the Council is trialling a free garden waste service to 5,000 households using 180 litre brown bins. This trial will run for four months following which an evaluation of the scheme will be undertaken. The collected garden waste is being taken to a composting facility in Kent. The trial area involves roads in Lewisham Central, Rushey Green, Crofton Park, Bellingham and Whitefoot.And then it goes on to list the streets in Lewisham Central ward: Lewisham Central Tremaine ...
3:09 pm

Death of child in Ealing

Gravatar The sad death from very serious physical maltreatment over a period of time of a child in Southwark does fit with the theory that the system is concentrating on white children. The problem with the investigating procedure is that it is not truly independent of the system. What is needed in this situation may not be the formality of a judicial inquiry, but at least someone independent of the
2:55 pm

Should you dodge a hypothetical question?

Gravatar I suspect most politicians have used the “it’s a hypothetical question” reason to avoid answering a question. Over at Slate there’s an interesting piece praising Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama for his enthusiasm in answering hypotheticals, which very much sets him out from the crowd. Hat tip: Comment Central.
2:53 pm

How do you solve a problem like PMQs?

Gravatar Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone has posed an interesting question over at her blog - how the demeaning farce which is Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons can be improved: To me - yes, it’s great theatre and even fun at time but - it’s utterly crap as a way of holding the Prime [...]
2:05 pm

Labour’s Shame

Gravatar If you are a Labour Party member who wanted Blair out in order to get  someone else in, watch this and be ashamed of yourselves.  Feel big now do you?
1:33 pm

Could foot and mouth blow Gordon's chances of an Autumn election ?

Gravatar Foot and Mouth disease is the last thing anyone wanted to see spring up again in this country, but for Gordon brown it must be an extra headache, but also a chance to show the difference between him and Blair again. Gordon Brown has acquitted himself well in the recent floods, showing a that he seems to care, visiting the scene and not going to Africa and ensuring the armed forces were actively involved. Now he has another problem, but unlike Blair in 2001 Brown is taking swifter and more decisive action having learnt the lessons of the slow way ...
11:53 am

Lib Dem peer: let the Royals marry Catholics

Gravatar This according to the Daily Telegraph: Lord Lester, the Liberal Democrat peer drafted in by the Prime Minister to advise on constitutional issues, told The Daily Telegraph that the centuries-old ban was “an injustice” that should now go. The outspoken comments from the respected peer came after it emerged that Peter Phillips, the Queen’s eldest grandson and [...]
11:42 am

Martha Kearney on ‘Jackgate’

Gravatar Here’s what the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s The World at One says about the programme’s focus on the Lib Dem leadership this week: The Ealing by-election had been seen as a test of Sir Menzies Campbell’s leadership and there was relief in Cowley Street that the party didn’t do badly. But it certainly wasn’t the [...]
10:47 am

Knick-knack Paddick-whack

Gravatar Regular readers may recall that I don’t have too much faith in the capacity of parties to find suitable candidates for London Mayor. The problem is, there are simply too few roles available for people to perform credible “apprenticeships” for the top job, the GLA being an anonymous talking shop. Thus far the only elected London Mayor was also the last leader of the GLC - a body which no longer exists. So while I wasn’t exactly surprised, I was delighted to learn that Brian Paddick has expressed an interest in standing for the post. It remains to be seen ...
10:31 am

Foot and Mouth and an October General Election

Gravatar The link is to the politicalbetting website which reports the expectation of an early election going to late 2008 on the spreadbetting markets. I do think the outbreak of Foot and Mouth means that noone could sensibly plan for an October general election as canvassing should be discouraged in rural areas.
10:26 am

West Midlands Liberal Democrats Regional Team launched

Gravatar The Liberal Democrats in the West Midlands have launched their Westminster Regional Team. John Hemming MP has been nationally appointed Shadow Minister for the West Midlands and has appointed a team to work with him in the run-up to the next General Election.
10:21 am

Up North

Gravatar I am in the north and about to set out for the Eisteddfod so blogging will be light. I note however that this morning's Western Mail reveals that things are still not all sweetness and light in the Labour Party over their coalition with Plaid Cymru. They tell us that in a message sent to Welsh MPs, Merthyr Tydfil MP Dai Havard writes that he is “not interested in inclusive politics” and that Labour needs to address the fact that “we now have Nat [Nationalist] Ministers delivering a Labour manifesto with Labour money”: Several Labour MPs spoke publicly of their ...
9:59 am

West End recycled jewellery project

Gravatar I have been speaking recently with Fiona Coull - Fiona is a fourth year Jewellery and Metalwork student at Duncan of Jordanstone.She's studying for her dissertation and looking in to how to be an ethical jeweller, without compromising good quality design. Fiona says, "I am researching the possibility of maintaining an ecological workshop, and rethinking jewellery practices to maintain 'green' ethics."Classmates and I have set aside week in September in which we will hopefully transform unwanted trinkets in to fresh, interesting new pieces of jewellery. This project aims to prove or disprove my theory that jewellery can be created to ...
9:13 am

Should YouTube be closed?

Gravatar I’ve been following the media coverage about the call from the Professional Association of Teachers for sites like YouTube to be closed – because they say they encourage bullying and harassment of teachers. Both of these are extremely serious issues – but the idea that closing YouTube is the answer causes me two concerns: (a) is it really a solution? and (b) is a complete closing of YouTube an over-the-top reaction (even to horrific individual cases)? The risk with media coverage of course often is that the details aren’t got quite right – so I went to see what the ...
9:02 am

My top 100 Lib Dem blogs

Gravatar Have you got any salt handy? Okay, take a pinch, take two - hell, get a wheelbarrow. A few weeks ago, Iain Dale e-mailed me and a handful of other Lib Dem bloggers asking us to rate and rank the Lib Dem blogs in preparation for the 2007 Guide to Political Blogging in the UK, to be published by Harriaman House. After a bit of umming and ah-ing, I chose to do it, if only to avoid the repeat of
8:55 am

Did Grant Shapps lie to Iain Dale?

Gravatar If I were Iain Dale, I’d be feeling either rather foolish or rather cross with Grant Shapps. Why? Well it’s because of the allegations about Liberal Democrats and election poster displays which Grant Shapps persuaded Iain Dale to run on his blog. Iain wrote at the time: There must be some rather compelling evidence for Grant Shapps [...]
8:49 am

Stephen Lawrence's mother attacks Boris Johnson

Gravatar In an extraordinary statement, Stephen Lawrence's mother, Doreen, says that Black people will not vote Boris Johnson and that he will destroy multicultural London if elected mayor. There's more in the Guardian here: Ms Lawrence, who does not normally become involved in party politics, said she had been moved to make the criticisms by her anger at Mr Johnson's attitude to the Macpherson inquiry
8:42 am

Government officials avoiding calls from 'hyperactive' Prime Minister

Gravatar The Times confirms that the Prime Minister actually lives in Number 11 Downing Street. So all this stuff about him moving into Number 10 was rubbish really. He actually moved OUT of Number 10 into Number 11 when he became Prime Minister. Strange but true. Any road up, The Times also reports the Paddy-like early morning activity of the PM, which is in sharp contrast to Blair, apparently: His
8:34 am

Coup de grace

Gravatar It’s almost 20 years since A Very British Coup was first shown on Channel 4, and a quarter of a century since the book from which it was adapted, by Labour MP Chris Mullin, was published. In some ways it is unbelievably dated. It portrays the election of a socialist Labour government, and the battles of its charismatic Sheffield ex-steel-worker leader, Harry Perkins - fantastically played by
8:34 am

Big Times piece on Brian Paddick, in the running to be LibDem London Mayoral candidate

Gravatar The Times has a big piece on Brian Paddick, covering the confirmation that he has put his name forward as a candidate for the nomination as LibDem candidate for London Mayor. The Times confirms that Paddick has been a LibDem supporter and carries praise for him from Lynne Featherstone: Liberal Democrat sources said that Mr Paddick had been a party supporter “for some time”, but had not been
8:27 am

Labour bids to close down Ashcroft cash to Tory marginals

Gravatar The Independent reports that Labour are looking to have a bill in the autumn whose provisions will include the closing down of a loophole which allows Lord Ashcroft to fund Tory candidates in marginal constituencies in between elections. It is remarkable that Labour believe, rightly or wrongly, that this type of funding has such a powerful impact that they have to bring in legislation to stop it
8:02 am

Cameron is untrustworthy, a nasty piece of work and showed "vile" behaviour over Miraj - Telegraph

Gravatar It something I've mentioned and other blogs have mentioned. Cameron's handling of the Ali Miraj affair showed how pathetically inexperienced he is. Well, now the Telegraph is weighing in magisterially with the same point - via Simon Heffer: (Cameron) has shown himself to have exceptionally poor judgment, to be entirely untrustworthy and to be, in short, a rather nasty piece of work: ..
7:40 am

Who has more friends: Peter Hain, Derek Vaughan or the BNP?

Gravatar Just as Virgin and Vodafone are pulling their adverts from the "look at me" website Facebook, council leader Derek Vaughan is reported by the Evening Post to have joined Neath MP Peter Hain in a bid to make friends and influence people. Advertisers are withdrawing because their logos could appear on the same pages as the BNP.
7:17 am

Lewisham Gateway Plans on display

Gravatar Here is a press release which Lewisham Council has just issued: PLANS FOR LEWISHAM TOWN CENTRE UNVEILED Plans for the proposed development of Lewisham Town Centre are due to go on display on 10 and 11 August. The Lewisham Gateway development has generated much local interest and, now that further information is available, shoppers and residents will have the opportunity to see the plans as well as discuss the proposals. Artistic impressions of the site will also be on display at Lewisham Shopping Centre on Friday, 10 August (12 noon to 4pm) and in Lewisham Market on Saturday, 11 August (12 ...
1:32 am

An efficient market, please

Gravatar Markets work more efficiently if participants are well informed. If the process for selecting a leader of the Parliamentary Party of the Lib Dems was a market, it was inefficient. The decision-maker was the entire membership, relatively few of whom were personally acquainted with the candidates, let alone had worked with them. Election rules restricted the information flow between candidates and members, notably by preventing candidates from getting members' contact details from HQ. In this information deficit a pre-existing high media profile gave a decisive advantage. From this perspective it is extremely unhelpful and in the long run unwise to ...
12:54 am

Four more years for Nicol

Gravatar Though the election’s not for another two months, the result looks a foregone conclusion: Nicol Stephen, Lib Dem MSP for Aberdeen South, seems set to be re-elected leader of the Scottish Lib Dems for another four years in October. The Herald has the full story: Mr Stephen has secured the support of all 15 of his [...]
12:10 am

More on Brian Paddick and the London Mayor

Gravatar Well - it looks from this morning's papers (Mail and Times) that Brian Paddick is a serious runner to be our (Lib Dem) Mayor candidate. Good thing I've said nice things about him on this blog!
12:09 am

Watching the moon rise

Gravatar It is now midnight and I have just watched the moon rise above the mountains above Penmaenmawr in north Wales. At the same time, I have been watching the news about the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Surrey. I see the new PM is cancelling his holiday and returning to London. I guess the Labour party has learnt its lesson from previous crises in which Blair continued his holiday in Egypt.
12:01 am

Day 2401: Mr Balloon wants a Smack

Gravatar Sunday: I have intercepted a TEXT MESSAGE from one Conservatory MP to another. It reads: "PODWAS" Apparently this means "Poor Old Dave; What A Shame" and nowadays it can be heard bleeping around the House of Commons after Mr Balloon puts in one of his "performances". How DID the Conservatory Party come to disgrace itself like this? It would be EASY to blame Mr Balloon – that is what all of the Conservatories are doing – and so I WILL. This is the problem when you promise ALL THINGS to ALL PEOPLE – you end up disappointing EVERYONE. So, Mr ...

Previous days:

Friday 3rd August 2007, Thursday 2nd August 2007, Wednesday 1st August 2007, Tuesday 31st July 2007, Monday 30th July 2007, Sunday 29th July 2007