Saturday 22nd September 2007

11:54 pm

James Graham on the Lib Dem blogosphere

Gravatar James has an article about us all on Our Kingdom. It's nice to see my old friend Whittington getting his due.
11:00 pm

Praise for Craig Murray

Gravatar Geoff Payne makes his Conference awards over at Liberal Democrat Voice: Best Fringe meeting:The Liberator/ Lib Dem peace group “War on Terror”, with Craig Murray, former ambassador to Uzbekistan. There were some terrific fringe meetings this year, but this one was breathtaking.Craig Murray was sacked from his position in Uzbekistan because he was determined to speak out against the appalling abuses of human rights in this country.Uzbekistan is an “ally” in the war “against” terror and an important strategic country for the mining and transportation of important natural resources. It is also a totalitarian state with an appalling human rights ...
10:40 pm

BritBlog Roundup: A reminder

Gravatar The next BritBlog Roundup will be posted here tomorrow evening. There is still time to nominate a post to appear there. Please send an e-mail to britblog [at] gmail [dot] com giving the link. Any posting from a British-based blog or British-born blogger made this week can be be nominated. And, yes, you can nominate something from your own blog.
10:23 pm

Saving the world

Gravatar An early start to be there for the debate on Dentistry which was calling on check-ups at NHS dentists to be free to allow dentists to properly promote preventive oral health. As Sandra Gidley MP said - they say we can judge a nation by it's teeth, and so we should judge our government by the state that dentistry is now in. It doesn't sound as though progress with the new contract is going to...
10:12 pm

How much do I trust Iain Dale?

Gravatar Iain Dale has posted a distinctly gnomic post predicting some kind of significance attached to Gordon Brown writing in the News of the World. I suppose he may be onto something, but I also suspect he's being slightly unforthcoming to promote his appearance on News 24 tonight. After all, if it turns out that what's being announced is that there will be an election next year, then I guess most
9:46 pm

Alisher Usmanov has been convicted of a crime

Gravatar Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads (note: this link doesn't currently work, for reasons explained below) and Craig Murray (ditto*) have both have their blogs taken down by their internet service provider. Chicken Yoghurt has the full story, but it all boils down to a guy called Alisher Usmanov (a large shareholder in Arsenal) being upset about what they both wrote about this convicted criminal (
9:23 pm

Expert Analysis

Gravatar Saturday is usually the time for expert analysis and in that vein, Stephen Tall has dissected modern political journalism and asked, is it broken?
8:54 pm

There’s a few Tory votes Boris has lost

Gravatar An interesting e-mail was sent to Lib Dem Voice a couple of days ago from the managing director of a top city firm. It’s fairly self-explanatory: Dear Liberal Democrats I am a fully paid up member of the Conservative Party and will NOT be voting for Boris Johnson who is very likely to get the Party’s nomination. [...]
8:02 pm

Hypocrisy in Leyton - From the Lib Dems ?

Gravatar Many Lib Dems, including myself, have been quick to attack Labour for their support of a councillor Miranda Grell accused of homophobic campaigning, who has subsequently been found guilty in court and will, in due course, be stripped of her office. However, how can the Liberal Democrats in Waltham Forest criticise the activities of the Labour Party there, particularly their continued support for Miranda Grell, when the Liberal Democrats continue to work with labour in a joint administration on the local council ? If Labour are out of order in continuing to support Miranda Grell then the Lib Dems need ...
7:12 pm

Ming’s jokes

Gravatar Now I have got around to reading Ming’s speech, after spending Thursday on a boat. Apart from its other plus points… it’s got some jolly good jokes in it, too. The line about Dave Cameron - “he’ll turn if you want him to, the laddie’s made for turning” was good. Calling Boris Johnson “the blondest suicide note in history” is definitely funny. Worthy of a googlebomb and much wider attention.
6:30 pm

Brian Coleman puts his foot in it

Gravatar I see one of my erstwhile colleagues (loose description) at the London Assembly - Tory Brian Coleman - has employed his usual tact and sensitivity to my own local. Brian, a Conservative London Assembly member, has described Haringey as "ghastly" writing in his blog on the New Statesman website - describing (wrongly!) Haringey as a place "where decent folk lock their car doors as they drive through". All one can conclude is that Brian is snobbish, rude, and ill-informed as his remarks show. He is often billed as 'controversial' - presumably on account of such insults - but there is ...
6:15 pm

I've had better offers

Gravatar A friend of mine phoned up earlier who was obviously blissfully unaware of the responsibilities that come with fatherhood. He asked me if I fancied going out this evening for a drink and going to a party. Obviously with a son just a few weeks old now suffering from his first cold (what a trauma for him - get used to it), I explained I was busy. "What is the party" I asked. "Its a load of Green's, including some Green councillors, and it's a Doctor Who themed party." Well at that moment I was so very very grateful that ...
5:28 pm

1 Today!

Gravatar This blog is one year old today. It was on my return from the 2006 Lib Dem conference that I was inspired to have a go at this blogging lark. I signed up to Blogger, chose a template, played about with it a bit, and launched it into the world with my first post on Friday 22nd of September 2006. On the whole the experience has been a hugely positive one. The objectives I had set for it were
5:03 pm

Not All Tories Are Swivel Eyed

Gravatar Just heard on the news that former Conservative MP Sir Ian Gilmore has sadly died.  I liked Sir Ian; he was the opposite of the swivel eyed Tories who dominate the parliamentary benches and candi...
5:02 pm

Nearly 30,000 fans watch Leeds beat the Swans at Elland Road

Gravatar The roar from the Elland Road crowd of 29,467 was deafening. The Leeds players responded with another 2-0 win that equals the club's best ever start to a season and moves us up to 18th in League one. Goals from Jermaine Beckford and David Prutton, along with a man of the match display in defence from Rui Marques and great work by Seb Carole made it seven wins out of seven. This Leeds team is on fire! Leeds United 2 Swansea City 0
4:58 pm

My first political memory - A new meme

Gravatar I have been tagged by The ThunderDragon to talk about "my first political memory". For me, I have vague recollections of the 1979 general election, but nothing specific. However, my first proper political memory was of being told I was too old to have school milk. When I asked why, I was told to ask Margaret Thatcher. For me Margaret Thatcher will always be "Margaret Thatcher - Milk Snatcher". I guess it was the very first reason not to like Thatcher. I have now got to tag some other people, so will ask Paul Walter (apparently he is the good ...
4:54 pm

Will Gordon join George in the footnotes of history?

Gravatar It's a fair bet that George Canning (left) has occasionally occupied the thoughts of Gordon Brown recently. Mr Canning was, by all accounts, a fine public speaker, a brilliant military strategist and a practical joker. His long record of public service isn't what he is remembered for, however. Political anoraks with the highest tog rating remember old George because he holds the record as the
4:35 pm

Birmingham Recruits Social Workers from USA

Gravatar The link is to a story in the Birmingham Post linked to a Committee Meeting of the Council at which the recruitment of Social Workers from the USA was discussed. It also raises the point about referrals. The problem is that all the analysis of the failures of the system have missed the point that it is the decisions in Local Authorities, CAFCASS and the Family Courts that go wrong for various
4:28 pm

Miranda Grell and those slurs

Gravatar I received a phone call yesterday afternoon from my father who had just returned from Waltham Forest Magistrates Court after hearing the verdict of the trail against Labour councillor Miranda Grell. For any party member, of any political party, to lose a seat that is thought to be safe is extremely painful. I was there at the count when the result was declared and the shock was felt by every
4:20 pm

Neath Port Talbot crack-down - at last

Gravatar The news that Neath Port Talbot CBC have cracked down on the misuse of council Internet facilities is welcome. The unions have a valid point if the disciplined employees were not given clear conditions of employment (something which has been the norm in government service for many years). However, it does not excuse wasting work-time which council-tax payers have been charged for.
3:44 pm

Reinventing the State Chapter 2: Equality Matters

Gravatar Here, Duncan Brack advocates the pursuit of equality, by which he means a significant reduction in inequality of outcome. The mathematician in me rails against such abuse of the word equality, but I will live with it. He calls the idea of equality of opportunity a get out, which I think is a little unfair. Opportunity is a kind of outcome that gives rise to further outcomes. So it deserves
3:34 pm

Marriage of convenience

Gravatar So now we know. The Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition is a marriage of convenience, an open relationship in which either side is free to go off and sow their political oats. According to Peter Hain in a pamphlet, co-authored with the First Minister, Labour are still keen to keep Plaid Cymru at arms length: On relations with Plaid, Mr Hain said, “The coalition was in order to get stable government, pure and simple. It doesn’t represent a fusion of nationalist policy and Labour policy at all.” The Secretary of State for Wales continues by making the case for keeping Wales as ...
3:16 pm

The Big Wild Read

Gravatar A local councillor's lot can sometimes seem quite thankless. I've lost count of the number of times family and friends ask me why I put myself through it (ususally after unpleasant episodes, of which there have been many during my years in Islington & Hackney!) So this morning I had the wonderful priviledge of presenting prizes to over 4o young people aged between 4-11, who had taken part in this years Summer Reading Challenge. The theme this year being 'The Big Wild Read' It was a special occasion for the young people in the local branch library, Mildmay, in my ...
2:11 pm

A job for Miranda Grell

Gravatar Journalism to help the Lib Dems. As she lives in the same alternate reality as the press (particularly regarding `maffs` and `addin` up`). That way she can get rid of ageism overnight by reporting that Ming is indeed 46 and not 66! What do folk think?
1:51 pm

Opinion: Is political journalism broken?

Gravatar The Lib Dem conference felt united this year. I’m not talking about our policies - heaven forfend. No, we were united against the media’s reporting of our conference, which was, almost without exception, drearily inane, pathetically irrelevant and lazily inaccurate. Sitting on the train back from Brighton, I overheard one Hampstead-chic journalist talk about why [...]
1:47 pm

What do women dislike about themselves?

Gravatar If {Child on a swing} you ask a woman what she likes least about herself, she will rarely say “I hate my personality”; instead she will say “I hate my teeth”, or thighs, or some other physical attribute ... and that was the theme I talked about in Brighton last week (at party conference) at the Girl Guides fringe meeting to mark the launch of their report "Under ten and under pressure" about the pressures our modern way of life and society puts on young girls: We all have a hard time growing up. Some of it really painful. Much ...
12:48 pm

Localism: The next cultural paradigm? Part 2

Gravatar In contrast in `First` magazine Karen Thornton reports on the highlights of our Conference. `One of the Conference’s first moves was to agree to scrap all nationally-set targets for local government, with speakers accusing both Tory and Labour governments of stripping the sector of its independence. It goes on to say that our policy paper `The power to be different`, proposes PR in elections and raising more council funding locally (actually 75% up from 25%) , commits the party to a single tier of local government - subject to community agreement.` Andrew Stunnell, shadow communites and Local Government secretary, said ...
12:24 pm

Opinion: My conference awards

Gravatar Best Fringe meeting: The Liberator/ Lib Dem peace group “War on Terror”, with Craig Murray, former ambassador to Uzbekistan. There were some terrific fringe meetings this year, but this one was breathtaking. Craig Murray was sacked from his position in Uzbekistan because he was determined to speak out against the appalling abuses of human rights in [...]
12:23 pm

Localism: The next cultural paradigm?

Gravatar I picked up my copy of `First` this morning with two articles essentially about `Localism` and the need to rebalance the distribution of power between Central Government and Councils. Angela Eagle, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, has an article entitled `Challenges and Opportunities`. Her article talks of the recent Local Government bill (My capitals!) saying that it will reshape the dynamic between Central and Local government, whilst establishing a stronger role for Councils in leading their communities and pushing forward local priorities. It goes on `Since becoming Prime Minister, Gordon Brown has made it clear that he wants a new ...
12:23 pm

Why would the Labour Party endorse a councillor who admits to stirring up a homophobic campaign ?

Gravatar A Labour Councillor, Miranda Grell, a so called "rising star" and leading force in Waltham Forest Labour, has been found guilty in court of maliciously telling lies about her political opponent and has been fined and banned from political office for three years. The question though is, given her defence that she claimed that she did not accuse her Lib Dem opponent of doing anything illegal (the court disagreed), is why she thinks it is okay to say that all she did was "out" the Lib Dem candidate of being gay and of having a boyfriend 20 years his junior ...
12:08 pm

Iain Gilmour - A Tory with a conscience dies

Gravatar Ian Gilmour, a leading critic of Margaret thatcher and former Tory Minister has died. Iain Gilmour was an outspoken supporter of gay rights when it was not fashionable to do so, he opposed the poll tax, did not support Margaret Thatcher when she introduced charges for eye and dental check ups and was critical of the Tories abolition of the Greater London Council. In many ways Ian Gilmour was a Tory with a real soul. I'm sure it would be completely inappropriate and I mean no offence when I say this, but rather than burying him he should be stuffed ...
11:51 am

No Minister

Gravatar On Friday I and my other colleagues on Avon Fire Authority were summoned to meet the Minister for Fire, Parmjit Dhanda MP. This is about the fourth Minister we have had in 4 years and the second ...
11:26 am

Alisher Usmanov

Gravatar It is not the place in a free and fair society to shut down dissent. Personally I am very uninterested in football until the Euro/World cups come on the screen. My Arsenal supporting Dad though is very concerned - he thought that Red& White were US owned! The idea that a blog can be closed down due to just saying a factual statement of the prison record is amazing. Let Alisher Usmanov answer the questions posed by Craig Murray. Good luck to all the bloggers.
11:10 am

Why Gordon Brown will wait for a May 2008 General Election (UPDATED)

Gravatar I could be proven wrong here, but I’ve been coming to the conclusion that there is no way Gordon Brown will call a snap poll. What’s more, it has increasingly come to my mind that he might have a rather devious plan up his sleeve. First of all, he won’t do it for several reasons. Labour’s skint and the unions are being finnicky at the moment. Labour is also lazy - more so than either of their main opponents. They’re activists need more signposting than the competition before they’ll get off their arses. A snap poll is tough to manage ...
11:04 am

Labour's Grell guilty as charged, faces ban

Gravatar Waltham Forest Labour Councillor Miranda Grell, arrested in April has been found guilty of smearing her Liberal Democrat opponent Barry Smith in last year's local Council elections and fined £1,000 with £3,000 costs. She faces a three year ban from public office unless she appeals in the next three months. She is suspended as a Councillor with immediate effect and is under administrative suspension from the Labour Party pending an internal inquiry. Grell who had admitted in court to tactics that could only be described as gay-hate campaigning (attempting to make her opponent's sexuality a campaign issue) had suggested that ...
10:54 am

Are your DNA records safe with the government?

Gravatar Reading through last week's newspaper articles - at last - I find that finally the cavalry is joining my campaign to stop innocent people's DNA being stored in perpetuity by the police on the national DNA database - and even The Sun has given the story a decent write-up. Hurrah! And if you're wondering - "but what does an innocent person have to fear?" - then the answer is "plenty!" as I wrote in an article titled What do the innocent have to fear from a DNA database? on my website.
10:36 am

European Selection: we're on the road to nowhere (with apologies to the Oxford massive)

Gravatar I'm on my way to Oxford for the first of four Regional hustings, to be held in a school somewhere near Blackbirds Ley (or so I'm told). In typical Valladares style, I think that I'm late but you can never really tell until you are, I suppose. Fingers crossed, anyway... As someone who has been more intimately involved with European selections than anyone other than applicants, I've tended to
10:31 am

In praise of the nation’s youth

Gravatar Not only did they organise together to get the Blue Peter cat to be named “Cookie” but after the BBC’s censorship had been exposed, they got their way anyway. A quick visit to the Urban Dictionary reveals their plan. The BBC producer who tried to stop them from getting their way has not only been over-ruled but may end up getting sacked over the affair. Sheer genius. After finding my hit count rocket up when I used the phrase “Konnie Huq modelling the latest in tweenie fetish wear” it has been made quite clear to me that there is a ...
10:17 am

What Usmanov did next.

Gravatar I am happy to join over 150 other bloggers in unreservedly condemning the actions of Alisher Usmanov in using lawyers to effectively close down the blogs of Craig Murray, Tim Ireland, Bob Piper and Boris Johnson amongst others. Mr, Usmanov is an Uzbeki tycoon with a chequered past. He has bought a huge block of shares in Arsenal Football Club and it is rumoured that he has further ambitions there. That is causing considerable unease amongst Arsenal fans. The Guardian has some of the story here. The full blow-by-blow account is on Chicken Yoghurt. Sanddef has a number of interesting ...
9:08 am

Bring back Bob

Gravatar There is a blogger in the West Midlands called Bob Piper, he is also a Labour Councillor in Sandwell. We have had a couple of run-ins before but I learn with some distress his blog has been forced off the Internet by Alisher Usmanov's lawyers - not for anything Bob has done but Usmanov's lawyers are trying to close down Craig Murray's (former Ambassador to Uzbekistan) website and Bob's site is hosted by the same people and his, and other websites have been closed.
7:55 am

How Cameron has collapsed in the polls

Gravatar Source: Labour minus Conservative minus Labour monthly average in all published opinion polls with national voting intention questions.
1:35 am

Selection Rules: From triumph to disaster and back again

Gravatar I've been a bit busy with another election recently, but have managed to find time to observe those elections actually underway, and they've really been quite interesting. In the Mayoral selection for London, we've had the first hustings - in Brighton. I have to give credit to those who came up with the idea of holding it, as the coverage was far better than the 'official' one is likely to be,
12:47 am

Squaxxweek on the BBC (UPDATED)

Gravatar This week is Squaxxweek on the BBC. Tomorrow, Phil Jupitus will be exploring 2000AD’s origins and history on Radio 4. Then on Monday, Armando Iannucci does the same thing on BBC 4, albeit with a bit of Viz thrown in. It’s got to be more interesting than boring Labour conference, no? UPDATE: Just listened to the Phil Jupitus programme. Good nostalgic fun. In particular it was good to hear Pat Mills and Kev O’Neill. If you missed it, it should be on Radio Four’s Listen Again soon. Share This
12:34 am

Ten Years And Five Pledges Later

Gravatar Rarely has something come along that so confirms my beliefs as the discovery of the Labour Party's Facebook application, iSupport. The idea is actually reasonably clever as a soft vote attractor; the application has a list of Labour's achievements and allows users to endorse those achievements and see how many other people have also endorsed them. The only trouble is, the list of achievements is

Previous days:

Friday 21st September 2007, Thursday 20th September 2007, Wednesday 19th September 2007, Tuesday 18th September 2007, Monday 17th September 2007, Sunday 16th September 2007