Tuesday 20th November 2007

11:56 pm

Bad Metaphors

Gravatar This grumbling is me with my old communications media-ninja hat on. I’ve felt that my analysis of the campaigns from a technical point of view has been somewhat compromised by my bias. Please don’t jump on me for posting this, it is my particular ‘niché’ and it’s painful having to bite my tongue for fear of being seen to be critical of one candidate or another. So, disclaimers and apologies out of the way: There’s two little phrases that Huhne uses, one of which is recycled from the previous contest. They really do serve to highlight what can be a ...
11:41 pm

The new flag for a vassal state?

Gravatar {Governance of Britain Logo} Millennium reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to blog about for a while now. The Ministry of Justice’s Governance of Britain initiative now has a logo (pictured). Is it my imagination or does it look rather like an airstrip? Given Gordon Brown’s avowed Atlanticism and scandalous adoption of Son of Star Wars by press release, is this the sign of things to come, perhaps? Share This
11:29 pm

On Liberty, Online: Nick Clegg wins third debate

Gravatar Well I would say that wouldn't I! ;-) Seriously though, delighted with my guy's performance tonight. A great answer on immigration, owned his podium, and refused to be bullied by Paxman. He seems to have found his form just at the right time - plenty of cheers and nodding heads here at Clegg Towers! Chris Huhne was steady and forthright - I'm pleased that we've moved on from the 'Calamity' dossier and that he's issued a full apology. I thought that his responses to the "one word answer" questions were testing the patience of his audience though! Overall, a good ...
11:25 pm

North End or Bull and Bush Tube station anyone?

Gravatar It's hard to appreciate that the tube lines servicing Hampstead (pictured) and Belsize are 100 years old this year - opened in 1907 by David Lloyd George (the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway) the Northern Line was a major link between 'rural' and inner London. Hampstead as an village started to expand following the opening of the North London Railway in the 1860s (now the North London Line previously operated by Silverlink and now Overground) and expanded further after the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway opened in 1907 (now part of the Northern Line) and provided fast travel ...
11:24 pm

Reaction to the data fiasco

Gravatar Nich Starling is on good form with his posting on the data fiasco, pointing that the problems caused by this immense cock-up could last for generations. Mary Reid was as shocked as everyone else and rightly asks why this has taken a whole month to become public. Caron asks to what extent the staffing cuts made at HMRC have contributed to this disaster. A number of people including David Nikel and Rob Knight point out that the loss of such personal data must mean an end to ID cards. Charlotte Gore and Jonathan Calder both point out the government's hopeless ...
11:14 pm

Norfolk County Councillors vote themselves a 28% increase in allowances

Gravatar There is only one thing to say about this story, and that is that it was a silly thing to do for the Lib Dems to support the Tories and Labour in voting this 28% allowance increased through, and that in principle I cannot see how a council can justify such massive increases in allowances when budgets are so tight and there are such deep and devastating cuts in services across Norfolk.
11:06 pm

Mud, glorious mud

Gravatar This morning started with a very rushed update meeting on how the annual canvass for the electoral roll is going - well but not complete yet. Just under 92% of forms have been returned which means that up to 8% of people in the Borough wouldn't have a vote if an election were called next year. If you're one of them, or if you want to check and make sure that you are on the register contact the
11:04 pm

What does it say about the BBC that they are still using the old Lib Dem party logo !

Gravatar On Newsnight tonight, on for the leadership debate, the BBC are using the old pre 1999 slimmer Lib Dem Party logo. Presumably (one would hope) somebody from the party (perhaps one of the two candidates) will tell the BBC that we changed our logo 8 years ago ? Imagine the fuss if the BBC used the wrong Tory logo.
11:00 pm

Who do you trust?

Gravatar The Inland Revenue have lost two disks with financial information about 7.5 million families - 25 million people. That's 40% of the UK's population. They contain the "name, address, date of birth, National Insurance number and, where relevant, bank details" of every family in the UK that claims child benefit. Lost in the post, on the way to the National Audit Office, who "audit the accounts of all central government departments and agencies…, and report to Parliament on the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which they have used public money." They were using what they call the "internal post" - ...
10:58 pm

Newsnight leadership hustings: open thread

Gravatar Nick Clegg and Chris Huhe are standing at their podia waiting for Jeremy Paxman’s grilling on Tuesday’s BBC2 Newsnight. After last Sunday’s fireworks, I imagine we can expect a love-in tonight…
10:52 pm

Leadership Platform 4: Chris Huhne speaks…

Gravatar Please find below a video I’ve recorded explaining my vision for our public services. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=483011399495198359 Thanks for watching! Yours sincerely, Chris
10:47 pm

ID cards are dead

Gravatar Surely ID cards are now finished, dead, deceased - an ex-policy? There's surely no way that anyone can believe in the idea of a central database of our most important personal details, to be administered by the government, after this: Discs containing the personal details - including, where relevant, bank account details - of all the families in the UK receiving child benefit have gone missing, after being posted from HM Revenue and Customs to the audit office. There's not really much point in excerpting the rest of the story. This is quite possibly the single biggest data protection failure ...
10:47 pm

How C-GAUN Became The "Gimli Glider"

Gravatar "After repeated unsuccessful attempts to restart the stalled engines, Pearson and Quintal once again consulted the 767 emergency manual, this time for advice on an unpowered landing. Much to their dismay, no such section existed, presumably because a simultaneous engine failure had been too ridiculous for Boeing engineers to contemplate. " One of Air Canada's planes,registration C-GAUN, is
10:36 pm

All the talents

Gravatar I understand GMTV television presenter Fiona Phillips was recently asked if she would consider becoming a health adviser to the PM. Like me you may be asking yourselves "what attributes would Ms Phillips bring to Mr Brown’s table of the talents". Well, apparently she has previously expressed an interest in politics, is said to be a friend of Mr Brown and is patron of a number of health-related charities. Surely she is over qualified?
10:11 pm

Goodnight Darling?

Gravatar The news that the personal data of more than 25 million people has been lost is a blunder of such monumental proportions that it really does beggar belief. According to the reports, the discs involved were sent just through an ordinary internal mail service, using a courier. This seems an almost unbelievably cavalier way to treat such sensitive date. The first serious issue it raises is just how secure our personal data would be under the Labour government's proposed national ID database, which lies behind their appalling ID cards scheme. Why the hell should we trust the state to keep ...
10:02 pm

Save the Stiperstones hollies

Gravatar The Shropshire Wildlife Trust has a new campaign: Two hundred or so ancient holly trees can be found scattered on the north-east edge of the Stiperstones. Some are thought to be three or four centuries old; perhaps no great age for an oak, but amazingly long-lived for holly. Cracked and gnarled, each of these trees has developed highly individual characteristics over their long lives. The Hollies, as this bit of land has been known for centuries, is up for sale and Shropshire Wildlife Trust has the chance to buy it if we can raise sufficient funds in time. We've applied ...
9:42 pm

The Edinburgh hustings

Gravatar A lively account from The Journal ("Edinburgh's student newspaper"): This must be why Scotland wants Chris Huhne – because when it really hurts, you want your dad to make it better, not your flash favourite uncle.
9:29 pm

Should local education authorities be free to select?

Gravatar In his press release about the Conservatives' new education plans, David Laws says: "David Cameron is effectively giving the green light to more grammar schools in areas such as Buckinghamshire."But if a local education authority want to operate a selective system, shouldn't it be free to do so? That was certainly the Liberal position back in the 1970s when the selective vs comprehensive debate was at its height, And, as a matter of interest, how strongly do modern Liberal Democrats campaign against selection in the areas where it still operates? Editor's note: David Laws attended the private St George's College ...
9:14 pm

Come Clean on Northern Rock

Gravatar The party has launched a petition: Come Clean on Northern Rock. As usual, Vince Cable is playing a blinder: Gordon Brown is paying out billion of pounds of taxpayers' money in loans to bail out the Northern Rock bank. But he is refusing to tell us how much of our money he is spending, and even whether it is ever going to be paid back in full. When taxpayers' money is being used, we should be told how much. Media reports suggest as much as £24 billion has been lent, but Gordon Brown is refusing to tell the country just ...
9:11 pm


Gravatar If you don't want a motion to be debated or passed at a meeting, is it right to walk out of a meeting so that it no longer has quorum? I would generally say no, but on the other hand, is it right that turning up to vote "no" may actually lead to the motion being passed (cf. the monotonicity criterion - voting against something should not make it more likely to occur)?
8:16 pm

Can we take the government to the Small Claims Court ?

Gravatar After today's disaster involving 25 million people having their data lost or stolen, I am wondering if it is possible for me (one of the 25 million) to take the government to the small claims court. Because of what they have done I am going to have to make more phone calls, close my bank account, open a new account, and in short be out of pocket. Surely I could take them to court for some of this ? Any advice ?
7:48 pm

Leeds tossed out of the cup by the Bulls

Gravatar Leeds United's habit of making things hard for themselves continued tonight when Hereford went ahead through Lionel Ainsworth within three minutes in the FA Cup first round reply. Hereford and Leeds had drawn 0-0 in the first game at Edgar Street in front of Sky TV cameras. Leeds lacklustre style was in evidence again with only a few bright moments in the first half, when chances by Jonny Howson, Seb Carole, Tresor Kandol and Jermaine Beckford went astray. Casper Ankergren was injured in the 38th minute. Fortunately, for once, United had a goalie on the bench and he was replaced ...
7:42 pm

Labour and IT: Dinosaurs Trying To Create Fire

Gravatar It’s really quite simple. They are, quite frankly, hopelessly incompetent dinosaurs. They are incapable of realising the benefits of IT to massively reduce costs in the civil service. It is impossible to trust them with the data they hold about us. They are ruthlessly exploited by 3rd party contractors who know the Government doesn’t know any better. This really does mark the point at which even ‘New Labour’ starts to feel like a party for a different era altogether.
7:39 pm

Brighton's West Pier again

Gravatar Last month I wrote about the decline and fall of Brighton's West Pier. Now Splendourific has written about it too, linking to my piece and adding some wonderful photographs. I have [ahem] borrowed one them. It shows the pier in happier days.
7:26 pm

It's not just an ID card scheme you can't trust government with

Gravatar Following the great child benefit debacle, Action on Rights for Children has issued a press release: Last year Terri Dowty co-authored a report for the Information Commissioner which highlighted the risks to children’s safety of the government’s policy of creating large, centralised databases containing sensitive information about children. The government chose to dismiss the concerns of the reports authors.See's ARCH's database masterclass for more on the subject.
7:22 pm

Historic green belt saved

Gravatar We were among the many people supporting the Bryncoch Farm Action Group in their fight to avoid this significant piece of countryside being built over. Now it seems that the Group has been successful as planning officers of Neath Port Talbot CBC are to recommend refusal of consent for the development. The provision of new homes at Llandarcy and the housing market slowdown may have been factors in the officers' decision, but it is not certain that Bryncoch Farm would have been saved without determined local action. Congratulations to all concerned.
7:19 pm

If I were Vincent Cable, I'd say something like this

Gravatar HMRC has today displayed exactly why entrusting this government with an identity card database would be a terrible idea. Can Mr. Darling categorically state that such a cock-up could never happen with the National Identity Register? He cannot. And yet, he will blab that this latest incident is not his fault. Well, he's right. It's not. He can't have been in the Treasury long enough to set the policy and the senior staff that presided over this incredible blunder. That honour lies with Gordon Brown. Another nail in the coffin for his alleged brilliance. Since his time in office begun, ...
7:11 pm

Thanks Darling!

Gravatar What a lovely early Christmas present courtesy of HMRC and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Tonight I joined the 25 million other British Citizens who have had their data exposed to risk of ID fraud. The personal security of my daughter has also been compromised which I also find totally unacceptable. And these people want our biometric data as well! This has to be the death of the madcap ID cards idea. Who on earth would want to trust this Government with their data after this? I for one, will not. If this Government pushes it to the limit then ...
7:09 pm

Lost Personal Data of 25 Million People: Government Liable For Damages

Gravatar I am stunned. The Civil Service have lost 2 CDs with their entire Child Benefit customer database on it. This is a record of the names, addresses and registered guardians of every single child in the UK. It even includes bank account details and national insurance numbers. Not only is this a monumental failure, it breaks the law. Under the Data Protection Act, “Data Subjects” (that’s anyone who has data recorded about them) have the right to prevent processing liable to cause damage or distress. Now, processing under the act covers just about anything you can do with data including ...
7:02 pm

Would you buy shares in this Labour MP?

Gravatar Put £24 billion of public money into a bank to prop it up and it would be a dereliction of duty not to ask serious and searching questions about whether or not the money can be repaid and if so, how and when. Northern Rock has had more money put into it to save it from collapse that our schools have had over the past year. It outstrips all public spending in the North East put together. So any MP
6:49 pm

Three good reasons...

Gravatar ...for members of the Oxford Union to vote tonight in favour of upholding the invitation to neo-nazis David Irving and Nick Griffin to speak next week comes with the news that Des Browne, Dennis McShane and Chris Bryant have said they will boycott future events at the Union if Monday's debate goes ahead with those two participating. Me, I'm not a member so it's not my decision, and I am in two minds, having caught the bug and objected strongly when Irving was last invited in 2001 and I was on the City Council. On that occasion it was cancelled ...
6:35 pm

Crouch End parking chaos

Gravatar {Crouch End residents} My Liberal Democrat councillor colleagues in Crouch End are having a right go at Labour Exec Member Brian Haley over the parking chaos in Crouch End. Cllr Lyn Weber organised a tour with residents for Brian - to try to finally get through to him the parking nightmare which his policies have brought about and which need to be addressed now - not some vague time in the future. Residents form Claremont Road and Stanhope Gardens as well as several other areas bent his ear - hard - about the really severe problems they are now having ...
6:32 pm

The end of ID Cards?

Gravatar What a balls up. Surely now the time has come for the Government to pull the plug on the ID card scheme and the National Identity Register. This proves they are not capable of safeguarding private data on the most basic level. Think what chaos could be caused if everything was linked up. On Saturday the NO2ID swings into Birmingham for a regional meeting. I would urge everyone angered by this latest twist to come along and show your support. Details below. NO2ID WEST MIDLANDS REGIONAL MEETING Phil Booth, National Coordinator, will be coming to Birmingham this November for a ...
6:25 pm

Northern Rock: the views of Peston and Cable

Gravatar Good to see Vince Cable pushing the issue of Northern Rock really hard again yesterday in Parliament and then today with both a petition calling on Labour to start letting on as to just how much of our taxpayers' money has been poured into Northern Rock (sign it here) and also with a Guardian article. Vince is doing an absolutely star job as acting leader. Also on Northern Rock - spotted an excellent piece over on Robert Peston's blog. Excellent, clear analysis of some of the ways forward for Northern Rock. Well worth a read.
6:23 pm

Leadership Platform 4: Nick Clegg writes…

Gravatar Dear all, Over the last few weeks, Chris and I have been travelling around the country, speaking at hustings meetings of every shape and size. It’s been a pleasure and honour to meet so many members. But sadly, only a small proportion of members get to a hustings. So today I thought I’d take the [...]
6:22 pm

Pavilion on Riverside Drive

Gravatar I have had complaints from residents and our local community policeman about further graffiti on the pavilion building on the north side of Riverside Drive (east of the airport). I have asked the Leisure & Communities Department (who own the building) if it can arrange removal of the graffiti.
6:17 pm

Labour's "poisoned" Generation - A reason to never ever vote Labour

Gravatar Today's admission by the government that personal data for 25 million people (and 7.5 million families) has been lost is not just going to cause problem in the short term for millions of people. It potentially causes problems for a whole generation of people for the rest of their lives. My details were on those disks. My national insurance number, my bank account, all my other personal details were there too. For me, it means that I am now very exposed to identity theft, card fraud, you name it, just about any sort of financial fraud is now, for me, ...
6:06 pm

You know the leadership campaign is getting too much when............

Gravatar You are telephone canvassing for your chosen candidate. Your husband comes home from work. You don't even look up at him and keep going through your list of calls. An hour later you look up and jump because he's had his hair cut very short and he realises that he's been in the house for all that time, in the same room for much of it and you haven't even glanced at him. At least he had the good grace to laugh about it. Does this make me the worst wife in the world ever?
6:02 pm

Grab a cigarette paper, I think I can see a gap!

Gravatar Yesterday, the BBC published a round-up of the policies of the two Lib Dem leadership candidates. I was surprised at quite how close they are to one another. Indeed, it reminded me of John Major’s quip following Tony Blair’s statement that his three priorities would be “Education, education, education”, that the Conservative government of the time had the same three priorities, but in a different order. So for example, under the rubric Constitution we read that Nick Clegg “Believes coalition government is only possible after electoral reform [and would introduce a] Freedom Bill to roll back ‘unnecessary, outdated and illiberal’ ...
6:00 pm

How can we win back twat-in-blue-shirt-in-the-street? And do we care?

Gravatar This post has been hypoallergenically tested for leadership contest irritants and approved by the Soiling Association.   The pre-spat blurb from Mark Littlewood on Sunday’s Politics Show has understandably faded from view somewhat. Among its several exasperating features (Vox pop: “Have you heard of Nick Clegg? Have you? Go on, have you? No? Not at all? Not even [...]
5:55 pm

Vince demands Labour comes clean on Northern Rock

Gravatar Acting Lib Dem leader Vince Cable has today been piling the pressure on Labour, launching a campaign to demand Gordon Brown tells the British taxpayer how much money has been loaned to Northern Rock, and when it will be paid back. Writing in today’s Guardian, Vince argues the case for temporary nationalization of Northern Rock to [...]
5:53 pm

How lucky do you feel? Climate change and YOU (and me)

Gravatar Watch this short video for a very clear explanation of the options for dealing with climate change (or the consequences of ignoring it). Please tell your friends about it, or email them this link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDsIFspVzfI Thanks to the Earthly Ideas blog for highlighting this video.
5:45 pm

Our Iain Dale is hot hot hot

Gravatar By that I mean solely that my pal Iain Dale has suddenly had a lot of visitors to his blog recently and was wondering what on earth was going on. I suspected that there might be some confusion with the other Iain Dale, but apparently not. Iain got a name check from the one and only Guido Fawkes yesterday. Iain, I hope that you won't forget your old pals now you are moving in such illustrious circles.
5:37 pm

Data about 25 million people missing!

Gravatar My jaw dropped when I heard the news on the radio. It seems that someone in HM Revenues and Customs was asked to send the details of every family in the UK who receive child benefit, that is, anyone with children under the age of 16, to the National Audit Office. The data included name, address, date of birth, National Insurance number and, where relevant, bank details. And how did...
5:37 pm

As the lights go out all over HM Revenue & Customs…

Gravatar There is, this evening, a decided sense of ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ following the resignation of Paul Gray, HMRC’s Chairman. Like many of my colleagues, I’m pretty horrified by the security breach which was announced by Alastair Darling earlier this afternoon, and the notion that someone should simply download that amount of sensitive information and just stick it in the post is
5:25 pm

The Life of the Nation

Gravatar A stirring passage by Lord Hoffman from the 2004 Belmarsh prisoners case, on the question of whether the life of the nation is threatened by terrorism: "This is a nation which has been tested in adversity, which has survived physical destruction and catastrophic loss of life. I do not underestimate the ability of fanatical groups of terrorists to kill and destroy, but they do not threaten the
5:21 pm

Why do I bother?

Gravatar Why do I bother carefully shredding everything that comes into this house with my name and address on it, or all my supermarket receipts, or anything that might give succour to an aspiring identity fraudster? What is the point when the Government goes and loses every bit of personal information I've ever entrusted to it? If they don't know what's happened to the disc containing 25 million records, I don't understand how they can be so sure that the information has not fallen into the wrong hands. Why was the transport of such sensitive data being done, firstly outside the ...
5:09 pm

Hemming endorses Clegg

Gravatar I have been asked which candidate I support for Leadership of the Liberal Democrats. After some thought I have decided to support Nick Clegg. Concerns had been raised about his views in some areas, but the following quotation from the Politics Show makes it clear that he supports the National Health Service rather than a continential health scheme and does not support education vouchers. (see
5:04 pm

Children’s Centre Planning Decision Tonight

Gravatar Tonight it’s Planning, at 7pm in the Town Hall. The main issue from a St Mary’s ward point of view is the Butterstile Children’s Centre proposal. Whatever the decision, lessons have to be learned about consultation and planning timescales. There hasn’t been adequate consultation, and relationships between Butterstile School, local residents and the Council may well be at an all time low. We’re either going to get a Children’s Centre that’s deeply unpopular with local people, or no Children’s Centre at all. One outcome would be bad for residents of School Grove, the other terrible for the ward as a ...
5:01 pm

That’s it. Life over.

Gravatar I have today placed an offer to buy a house in the ward which is both lovely and ludicrously unaffordable. The offer was gleefully accepted by the current owner who, if you find a quiet spot, you will be able to hear cackling like a maniac and jangling with shiny coins as he runs to the bank. The same bank, no doubt, which delights in charging me not only thrice the price of the house in interest over the next 25 years, but also a four figure “arrangement” fee for said mortgage, and then £300 on top as an “administration” ...
5:00 pm

Part of Kilburn has passed away...

Gravatar I have posted below a notice and tribute to a local resident Peter Cadogan who has died. I only knew Peter for the last three years, but if anyone could claim to be "Mr Kilburn" then it was him. He had a great line about the Abbot of St Albans failing to take the chance to re-unite Kilburn into one parish and that explained why it was still administratively split between Camden and Brent. he would then go on to lament the lack of investment and opportunity that flowed from that false administrative dividing line. He contacted me in the ...
4:58 pm

Lost in the post…

Gravatar I’m not the first to say it, and I won’t be the last, but if the government manages to lose the personal data of fifteen million of us (yes, 15,000,000 of us) in one go by bunging it in an internal envelope and hoping for the best, it doesn’t bode well for the ID card scheme. But for me it isn’t the simple incompetence that’s the problem (although it is staggering that anyone, in any job, can be that incompetent), it’s the fact that the government expect us to hand over an incredible amount of data for virtually everything, and ...
4:58 pm

Why I am still backing Chris Huhne!

Gravatar Yes, I posted a remarkably laudatory write-up on Nick Clegg today. It was so nice to get reams of comments from Charles Anglin and co. thanking me for this posting. ;-) Also today I gave a donation to Chris Huhne's campaign and I'll be doing an hour or so's work for his campaign later. So, in case anyone wondered, I am still whole-heartedly backing Chris. I have known him as a very active MEP
4:54 pm

Child benefit records - gone

Gravatar The personal details of millions of child benefit recipients have been lost by the government. Computer discs with the information have gone missing in transit. No risk of ID fraud says Alistair Darling. So let's get this right. The organisation that thinks it can organise an ID card scheme, with everyone's personal details, has managed to demonstrate it's lack of care by losing a good sample of the data it holds already. Who on earth is going to trust them with more info now? The story is on the bbc website - www.bbc.co.uk There's been a statement in the Commons ...
4:23 pm

Nick’s Word Of The Day: Positive

Gravatar An interesting communication from Team Clegg today. Nick has, at the last minute, managed to pull in an MEP formerly listed on Huhne’s website as a supporter: Bill Newton-Dunn (meaning Nick now has half the MEPs on his side). His endorsement? “.. unceasingly positive and warm campaigning style will take us to new heights.” Also jumping to the Good Ship Clegg, Lord (Tim) Clement-Jones, the party’s treasurer says, “…I have been impressed particularly in recent days with Nick’s determination to run a positive campaign, his tackling of difficult issues and his ability to reach out to those who share our ...
4:17 pm

Government loses 25m records - would you trust them with ID cards?

Gravatar Is there a Richter scale for cock-ups? If so, the Government has just been hit by at least a Factor 9: Alistair Darling has blamed mistakes by junior officials at HM Revenue and Customs after details of 25 million child benefit recipients were lost. The Chancellor said information, including bank details of 7m families, had been [...]
4:13 pm

Simply stunning incompetence!

Gravatar I really cannot credit how the personal details of 25 million people can be lost by HM Revenue & Customs. The details on the disc included names, addresses, dates of birth, national Insurance numbers and bank account details. I know that the civil servant in charge of the department has resigned but this huge mess up really needs Ministerial heads to roll. Alistair Darling claims that junior officials made the mistake of sending the discs by courier and unrecorded and it seems that he has had this knowledge for about 10 days. It is also claimed that the Police don't ...
4:02 pm

After the Child Benefit information goes missing - Do they still expect us to have ID cards ?

Gravatar After the government have announced that they lost the records of 25 million people in the UK after CD's containing personal information about child benefits for the whole country were lost in transit, it really does make you ask how on earth the government can be trusted with the ID card information they want. ID cards have been pushed as a way of being more secure and safe from terrorists. However, the information the government has on us at the moment is not secure (as today proves) and you have to ask whatever sort of problems would we face if ...
4:01 pm

Fascists are left wing:

Gravatar Absolutely. That is for a certain definition of left-wing which is based on left-wing meaning socialist and anti free-market. Just more of the absurdity and idiocy of these broad political labels which allow people sharing similar opinions being on different wings of the political spectrum… Of course, if we take the political compass of left-right economics and authoritarian-libertarian [...]
3:50 pm

ID Cards RIP

Gravatar The most significant policy implication of this afternoon's announcement that the Inland Revenue have managed to lose 25 million items of personal data pertaining to child benefits is that the government's ID card policy must now surely be considered dead in the water. The government had a choice when introducing the idea of ID cards as to whether to position them as a voluntary aide to accessing public services or a compulsory vehicle for spying on the population. They chose the security route. ID cards we were told would be an all-singing, all-dancing panacea that would protect us from terrorism, ...
3:07 pm

Nick’s Inevitable Fightback

Gravatar After complaining to the powers that be about the dodgy dossier, Clegg appears to have found a more constructive way to deal with the fiasco of the Daily Politics show: Huhne, apparently, is ‘testing the voter’s patience’ is how the Independent reports it. He also accuses his rival of squandering the opportunity to take full advantage of the most television air time we can possibly hope to get until the General Election itself to really sell our party in a positive way. Sigh. Whilst I agree with what he’s saying, I can’t help but feel disappointed that both men seem ...
3:02 pm

A fond farewell to Dulwich and West Norwood, God speed…

Gravatar Last night took me to a crypt in West Dulwich for my swansong appearance in a Dulwich and West Norwood shirt, in my multiple roles as outgoing Membership Secretary, external Returning Officer and locum Secretary (and yes, if you have clearance from the Regional Secretary, this is technically possible… oh yes, I am the Regional Secretary, aren’t I…). Jeremy Baker, my successor as Chair, had
2:59 pm

A quick calculation:

Gravatar I hope this is right: Using these figures: 93% of children currently in the state sector and this costs £69.4 billion. Extending this to cover 100% of children would then cost: (7/93) * 69.4 = £5.2 billion extra. Less than the costs of ID cards, probably less than the Olympics will cost and for immeasurably higher benefits. Parents who [...]
2:57 pm

Don’t mind me

Gravatar I’m just trying something out with the Westminster Business School
2:53 pm

Susan Kramer’s e-mail to members

Gravatar Lib Dem members will have got their third and final e-mail from Cowley Street on behalf of the leadership campaigns. Susan Kramer’s for Chris is reprinted below. I’ve found the debate on meritocracy and equality which has raged across different Lib Dem blogs (e.g. this post from James Graham) during this contest to be really stimulating . It will be interested in what bloggers make of the bold statement on equality by Chris in Comment Is Free and by Susan in this e-mail: Dear friend, Like many of you it took me a while to decide which of the two ...
2:47 pm

Chris Huhne statement

Gravatar Chris Huhne has posted a statement on his campaign website, apologising for the document with that title that a member of his team sent to the Politics Show. No Lib Dem and no supporter of Chris can like what happened. I’m very glad this apology has been made.
2:35 pm

New leadership for London Liberal Democrats

Gravatar I mentioned that we had a contested election for the position of Chair of the Regional Party, yet didn’t indicate what had actually happened. Most remiss of me, really… There were two candidates, Denys Robinson from Greenwich, the current Chair of the Policy Committee, and Sandra Lawman from Lambeth, currently heading our fundraising efforts for the next two Regional election campaigns. Both of
2:32 pm

One more thing about choice in services:

Gravatar If you offer people real choice, they don’t have to take it. If they are happy with the current service then they can stick with their current provider. All is good. However who are we to say that they shouldn’t have that choice? Who are we to dictate any area of people’s lives like that? The most [...]
2:30 pm

What is processed?

Gravatar In the last few weeks the press has printed a whole heap of interpretations of a report by the World Cancer Research Fund, which highlighted problems with the amount and the type of food we eat. The general consensus was that you should eat less and you shouldn’t eat processed food. Great, but what exactly is processed food? Are we talking about the rubbish readily available, pumped full of chemicals and additives, something like a microwave meal with a shelf life of about 5 years? Or are we talking about something as simple as cooked vegetables? Quite clearly the first ...
2:28 pm

What’s the worst that could happen?

Gravatar I’m a fan of the internet and enjoy messing around on sites like Facebook and YouTube. Using the internet is a big part of my job, an excellent resource for research, but most of all it can be hugely entertaining. Social networking sites are used by millions of people around the world, with video clips, photos and all sorts of other information being passed around the globe. These sites are very alien to a lot of people and there is a lot of complete rubbish on there, which is far from beneficial. However every so often you see things that ...
2:18 pm

London Region: ‘twas a cold, dark, and above all, wet afternoon…

Gravatar Sunday saw the London Region Conference and AGM come to South London, or to be more precise, Streatham. Sundays are never good days to hold conferences, and with a venue that seemed to become more difficult to get to by the day (the local station was closed for engineering works, and the nearest tube station was closed for similar reasons), turnout was down on what we might normally expect. This
2:06 pm

Amazon Kindle- its not to replace books (and its not a new idea)

Gravatar Amazon have apparently finally announced Kindle, their electronic ink based ebook reader. This is not the first ebook reader, there is one actually available in the UK from the Dutch company iRex Technologies and Kindle seems somewhat crippled. I’m amazed by the number of people who seem to think that this is to replace books. I [...]
1:56 pm

Policing Dyfed Powys

Gravatar Having just finished Alison Halford's book, "Leeks from the Backbenches", I now know a lot more about the workings of Police Authorities. I was still surprised though that Dyfed Powys Police Authority agreed to let their Chief Constable take early retirement, effectively stopping part of an IPPC investigation. There is no doubt that Terry Grange was an effective and well-liked Chief Constable. It was therefore a shock to find that he was the Dyfed-Powys police officer who was being investigated regarding misuse of the police computer system and alleged financial irregularities. Although the Police Authority's decision means that the first ...
1:47 pm

Continuing qualms about Clegg

Gravatar I don't have much to say about the Politics Show battle, but the "outrage" amongst the Lib Dem bloggers for Clegg feels a bit manufactured to me, and I am not sure that Nick was well advised to formally complain. I did think that Huhne coped well with the obvious ambush though. I have still not decided on this one, but I do not see that Nick Clegg is the great communicator that is backers have suggested. I do see that Chris Huhne has put forward some interesting and challenging ideas. I like the idea of a leader with real ...
1:46 pm

Another victim of the War on Drugs:

Gravatar Sometimes I really understand what motivates the sweat bloggers. When scum like some of these police officers and prison officials are given power by the state it seems the only response. That or the right to bear arms to defend yourself against the state. Richard Paey Speaks. Summary: Richard Paey suffers from ME and is confined to a [...]
1:43 pm

Public Services and Leadership

Gravatar Clegg's speech on why he had got involved in politics – focusing on unequal health outcomes in Sheffield – was the first point at which the debate reached beyond our internal obsessions to touch the concerns of the wider electorate. And when Huhne was forced to offer the evidence for linking Clegg to this claim I don't go along with those Lib Dem MPs who propose American-style school vouchers or replacing the NHS with privatised health insurance. (from Huhne's first campaign email) all he had to say was "Well David Laws is one of your close supporters". It was a ...
1:21 pm

Liberal Democrat Leadership contenders on Newsnight tonight

Gravatar The Leadership candidates will be on Newsnight tonight on BBC2 at 10.35 tonight.
1:17 pm

Off traveling tomorrow

Gravatar Tomorrow I fly to the US, a country where I know the people will be welcoming and friendly despite the crass anti-American sentiments all to prevalent here (government officials excepting, but our guys are just as bad, and worse in some cases). Its Thanksgiving, a wonderful festival. A time for families to get together and celebrate [...]
1:01 pm

Truro's Parade of Lights

Gravatar Christmas kicks off in Truro with our Parade of Lights. The local school kids make the lanterns, with some help from artists, and parade them through the streets. Truro becomes a proper Cornish town for the night and at the end, in good celtic style, we burn all the lanterns.
12:50 pm

HM Revenue and Customs - More of your information given away to fraudsters ?

Gravatar The government are to make a statement at 3.30 pm about Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, with press speculation hinting it might be that HMRC have given away lots of personal information about you to persons unknown. The head of HMRC, Paul Gray, has also quit in advance of the statement. BBC Watchdog did a piece about this last night and not one government spokesman could be bothered to turn up to the programme to explain how this happens on such a regular basis. The point was made last night that we have no choice about who collects our tax, ...
12:41 pm

UK Media now a provincial backwater

Gravatar I have been wondering about the British media recently. The constant coverage of "Slebs" and "infotainment" has got to have a price. I finally see that it it does. Did you know that a large demonstration took place yesterday in Brussels protesting the delay in forming a government and supporting Belgian unity? One might have thought that such a significant event might warrant a story on the BBC. In fact I got the story from Al Jazeera. On the British media, neither press nor the BBC seems to have reported this at all- not even as a five line story. ...
12:19 pm

Leadership election: You've got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative…

Gravatar It has been a bit of a mess over the past few days. Sadly, the chickens have come home to roost for Chris Huhne, but he can’t say that he wasn’t warned. More than two weeks ago, I noted my concern about hints of negative campaigning, and I know that similar concerns were relayed to the Huhne camp by acquaintances of mine. This means one of two things, either the decision to go negative came from
12:09 pm

Labour Government cuts aid budget

Gravatar This (below) from Lynne Featherstone's blog. Lynne is the Lib Dem Spokesperson on overseas development and an MP in London. This is pretty shameful. I hope some of the NGOs will call the Government on this. **************************** Well, well - will Labour never learn? They've axed around £1 billion from the UK aid budget (official development assistance) - and then tried to keep it secret. So here's the story in black and white. Two pieces of jargon first: "Official development assistance" is what people normally think of as the UK's overseas aid budget, whilst Gross National Income is a measure ...
11:59 am

The progressive case for imprisonment

Gravatar In today’s Independent Dominic Lawson furthers the progressive case for imprisonment which he made at our conference, “Britain behind bars: the struggle for law and As he points out, imprisonment is currently out of favour with many judges. The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Phillips, has declared that too many people are being sent to prison, and that the system cannot cope. "We can not go on like this"  This reluctance to pass custodial sentences reflects the lack of capacity in the UK’s prison system. As Dominic argues, there is something troubling with the notion of ...
11:58 am

I’m just a repeater station

Gravatar I’m quite sure you’re all reading Graham Linehan’s Why, That’s Delightful! regularly and so have seen this already, but if you’re not then you may find Dickipedia amusing.
11:56 am

Incapacity Benefit - are we blaming the wrong people?

Gravatar Not entirely sure what to make of the government's latest statements around Incapacity Benefit. There was quite a bit of media coverage yesterday which majored on the assumption that many claimants were perfectly capable of working and it was all a big fiddle. I am sure there are people claiming fraudulently - and if they are they need to be exposed and prosecuted for it. But we are in danger of making a huge assumption about a relatively powerless group of people. The fact is - and I know this from casework when I was a councillor - the existing ...
11:31 am

Galina Starovoitova RIP

Gravatar It is now nine years to the day since Galina Starovoitova was shot dead in cold blood. Hers was just one of the more brutal murders of political figures in Russia over the past few years. Before her death she established a prize for the promotion of Human Rights in Russia. One of the recipients was Antoly Sobczak, the former mayor of St. Petersburg. He too died in suspicious circumstances- of a heart attack. Why suspicious? Because two other people in the room also had heart attacks at the same time.
10:34 am

The Kilburn State - the final closing days

Gravatar I've put in here some of my pics of the Kilburn State: the alabaster cornices, the second foyer staircase chandelier, the main foyer in all it's carved marble glory and the old bingo score board.This last pic is how most local people will have known the Kilburn Gaumont State - as a bingo hall. Mecca Bingo have been in the State cinema building since the 1980's and have actually maintained the interior really well. This picture just reflects the state on the very last day as the fixtures were being taken down and the building was being cleared for final ...
10:25 am

Beeping box better than books? bonkers!

Gravatar So Amazon has just launched its new ‘kindle’ electronic book (http://news.independent.co.uk/sci_tech/article3176995.ece), with a clever screen which looks like paper and doesn’t flicker. It is apparently lighter and thinner than the average paperback. The owner of Amazon, Jeffrey Bezos declared, in the finest traditions of American chutzpah: "The question is, can you improve upon something as highly evolved and well-suited to its task as the book? And if so, how? It has to disappear." You have to love Americans, even when you hate their country. They display many of the best characteristics of people: ambition, inventiveness, generosity of spirit, a desire ...
9:45 am

Labour slashes £1bn from overseas aid budget

Gravatar That’s the rather shameful story which Lib Dem overseas development spokeswoman Lynne Featherstone has uncovered - and, what’s worse, the Government has hidden this budget cut from view. You can read Lynne’s blog article in full here, but here’s the nub: [Labour have] axed around £1 billion from the UK aid budget (official development assistance) - [...]
9:34 am

This week in the humanities

Gravatar In line with my first post about the humanities, what have I been up to: Art history: no, had a week off this week as well. Music: Nightwish, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Pretenders. I really like Mary Chapin Carpenter. She has a long standing capacity to write lyrics other song writers would kill for. Religion: nope. Though having some vague thoughts about the similarltiy between football and religion. You know where I'lll be on Wednesday evening. Philosophy: no. What have I been doing this week? Tons of making web pages to meet a deadline. History – errr... no Literature – no ...
9:12 am

Does privatisation equal choice?

Gravatar How does replacing a public service with a private company provide people with choice? While privatisation sounds very rosy I'm not sure whether outsourcing our IT department to a well-known (but with...
8:56 am

Rudderless Hippies

Gravatar On page 35 of this morning’s Metro is an advert for the Australian Labor Party, imploring the bar staff at the Shepherd's Bush Walkabout to toddle along to Australia House and cast their votes. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an advert for a foreign political party in the UK press before.
8:50 am


Gravatar Can someone just answer the simple question - why are schemes like school vouchers such a dirty suggestion for the LibDems? Is it taking education out of the state sector? (in which case it follows the advice of JS Mill) Is it because it has been suggested by the Tories so is ‘tainted’? Is it because of some [...]
8:45 am

Who are your favourite (and least favourite) non-Lib Dem bloggers

Gravatar A new poll is coming to LDV: who are your favourite, and least favourite, non-Lib Dem bloggers. Nominations are now open, so please feel free to use the comments thread. (Self-nomination is allowed, Iain.) There’s still chance, by the way, to vote in the LDV poll asking who you would have voted for, given the chance, [...]
8:14 am

For god's sake let it drop

Gravatar For most of us Jerry Springer the Opera faded from view a couple of years ago. Fun at the time, but not really something of lasting value apart from its ability to annoy the more excitable elements of Christian right. Well it appears that some people have longer memories than me. Christian Voice are still trying to prosecute the BBC for blasphemy, and are going to the High Court to try and get
7:45 am

Sex with a bicycle?

Gravatar I guess you would have to have been dead or abroad not to have missed all the fuss about a guy who was convicted of having sex with a bicycle.  I guess this got me wondering well…….just how do you have sex with a bicycle?   But there is a much more serious side to this incident.  Just [...]
6:58 am

Nick Clegg - potentially a great leader of our party

Gravatar Václav Havel, one of Nick's heroes First of all, I'll repeat what I wrote yesterday: I've just come back from an interview with Nick Clegg by a LibDems bloggers' panel. It was a big privilege to be part of the panel. Thanks very much to Nick for his time, to the Millennium Elephant for presiding over it and to his Daddy Richard for organising it. I was lucky enough to sit next to Nick and see
2:04 am

On Liberty, Online: This is the sort of thing we should have had from the beginning!

Gravatar James Graham has written a superb account of the bloggers' panel with Nick Clegg which has just reminded me of all the reasons I'm voting for him. It should be required reading for all floating voters! Now why can't we see that on the telly? Well, Clegg and Huhne are on Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman tomorrow night (eek) so maybe we still might...
1:10 am

(come to think of it, actually, a bit) EXCLUSIVE: Nick Clegg talks to Quaequam Blog! (finished at last)

Gravatar Originally posted 4pm, Monday 19 November. This morning, the small group who interviewed Chris Huhne a fortnight ago (see part 1 and part 2) finally got a chance to put our questions to Nick Clegg - this time with Linda Jack but without Jonny Wroght. I’m running late doing this because I spent this afternoon having my hair cut so I now look like a human pinhead, and also because the sound quality on my iPod is appalling (something to do with the electrical equipment at Portcullis House I suspect - my recording of the Huhne interview at the Atrium ...
12:02 am

Frankfurt Christmas Market 2007

Gravatar The Frankfurt Market in Victoria Square & Upper New Street arrived on Thursday last week (15th November). It will now be open daily from 10am to 9pm until (Sunday 23rd Dec).
12:01 am

Day 2514: The Leadership Interview… Nick Clegg meets Millennium (and some other people)

Gravatar Monday: Both candidates for the Leadership of the Liberal Democrats have kindly agreed to an interview with a panel of Liberal Democrat diarists*. Today was the turn of Shadow Home Secretary and MP for Sheffield, Mr Nick Clogg and once again your TOP Liberal Democrat elephant was there to ask the questions! Team Millennium {Posted by Picasa} In many ways this was the Mr Clogg that we have been WAITING TO SEE ever since the campaign began: relaxed, fluent, comfortable to talk knowledgeably and wide-rangingly around the issues, and with answers based in clear Liberal Philosophy. And, and this was ...

Previous days:

Monday 19th November 2007, Sunday 18th November 2007, Saturday 17th November 2007, Friday 16th November 2007, Thursday 15th November 2007, Wednesday 14th November 2007