Monday 26th November 2007

11:11 pm

Why are Clegg supporters against the party focussing on inequality when Clegg will if leader?

Gravatar See my previous post
11:08 pm

Saj Karim - a double tragedy

Gravatar I heard the news of Saj Karim's Damascus Road revelation at the Moorside Grange Hotel in Higher Disley. This was already a bittersweet visit for me - my son was born down the road in Stepping Hill Hospital - my daughter went to Disley under 5's - and I still recall what must be the most stylish GP's surgery in the country, like walking into the pages of Ideal Home...............So, as I opened the curtains onto a misty world of moors and grey where the Cheshire plain should be, the Today Programme told me the sorry tale. I am sorry. ...
10:57 pm

Atkins and Irving at the Oxford Freak Circus

Gravatar It says it all about the Oxford Union's ridiculous 'debate' that one of the participants should be Mad Ann Atkins of Thought for the Day notoriety. I recall Atkin's indulgent comments towards Irving on TFTD after his richly deserved (OK, I shouldn't believe people should go to gaol for Holocaust denial, but Irving had it coming to him) imprisonment in Austria. Atkins' comments on Radio 4 just now were typically barmy, bizarrely accusing demonstrators of hypocrisy and saying they were more offensive than Irving. Absurd woman, nasty man, great shame that Evan Harris dignified this freak show with his presence. ...
10:56 pm

More Labour Party Funding Shocks.

Gravatar There is another storm at the moment about donations to the Labour party. The Labour general secretary Peter Watt, has resigned after it was revealed that a businessman made donations of over £600,000 to the party via three other people. The Labour official said that he had known about the arrangement and that he had no idea that there was anything wrong with this. I cannot believe that the Labour official did not know this was against the rules. Electoral Law is basic stuff for anyone active in Politics. The Labour party must have the same type of training available ...
10:53 pm

Enough is enough!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gravatar I am sure this appeal will fall on deaf ears, but here goes anyway! Can supporters of Team Clegg and Team Huhne please stop with their constant 'bigging up' of their candidates in the blogosphere. If this carries on I half expect to log on and read how Nick Clegg should be leader because he can pee higher than Chris in a "who can pee the highest on a wall" competition. Roll on 17th December - this leadership contest is starting to get on my nerves! Place your X and leave it at that PLEASE!!! Thank you and good night! ...
10:29 pm

Not that I would ever suggest that we don't take internal democracy seriously in the lib dems...

Gravatar .... but I was slightly surprised to learn that the returning officer for our local party elections didn't think it necessary to bring ballot papers to the AGM the other day. Cue much scrambling when it turned out that there were some contested elections. Not that the elections were supposed to be a stitch up, of course not, we are democrats you know. Next you will be suggesting that the front
10:21 pm

A Night at the Union

Gravatar However much one may disagree with the Oxford Union's choice of speakers for tonight's debate on free speech, it seems outrageously arrogant and obnoxious for the various anti-fascist groups and protesters to deliberately obstruct the Union's proceedings. It is, fundamentally, a private members' society which democratically voted to allow Griffin and Irving to speak. That decision should be observed and respected, no matter how much one disagrees with it. I have my own reservations about giving two prominent far-right figures a chance to wrap themselves in the moral cloak of freedom of speech - something i presume they are to ...
10:06 pm

Labour General Secretary resigns

Gravatar Is this the fresh start we were promised or just more of the same? Labour general secretary Peter Watt has resigned following the revelation that a property developer made donations to the party via three associates. Mr Watt told a meeting of officers of Labour's National Executive Committee he had known about the arrangement. Surely the case for further reform of party funding has now become overwhelming.
10:04 pm

Some jokes don't travel (The Arsonists - Royal Court)

Gravatar Retaining a line like 'some jokes don't travel' in a new translation of a foreign comedy is perhaps tempting fate. But Alistair Beaton has decided to take that risk in his new translation of Max Frisch's The Arsonists currently playing at the Royal Court; and generally he gets away with it. Following a strong opening gag this is rarely a laugh out loud production, but it does produce a steady
10:01 pm

No mugs

Gravatar Betsan Powys reports that a special 'One Wales/Cymru'n Un' mug has been made to commemorate the historic union of Labour and Plaid Cymru: A Minister came down to do a round of interviews last week and left his half-drunk mug of tea behind. His 'One Wales/Cymru'n Un' mug that is. Yes, there's a coalition mug and when we discovered it, it was half-empty/half-full (take your pick). One Wales in green, Cymru'n Un in red above a colourful wave of a healthy nation swimming, cycling, walking, windsurfing and ... building aircraft engines. No tea drinking. No made in China stamp. And ...
9:44 pm

Why is genuinely held belief so cruelly abused?

Gravatar As a practising (but still very bad) Christian, if I I read about a teacher in a school for different faiths in another country who had held a competition between the children of varying faiths to pick a name for a teaching aid and the children had chosen a perfectly ordinary name - 'Jesus', say - which may be shared by a large number of men in that country and across the Christian world, and the authorities in that country had taken exception to this exercise and arrested that teacher for this perfectly normal exercise to engage her pupils, I ...
9:20 pm

Temporary Traffic Order - Step Row

Gravatar Received from the City Council : Dundee City Council proposes to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating drainage works and reinstatement works. The Order is expected to be in force for three weeks from 5 December 2007. Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months. The effect of the Order is to prohibit temporarily all vehicular traffic in Step Row from its junction with Perth Road for a distance of 100 metres or thereby in a southerly direction. Pedestrian thoroughfare and vehicular access to premises ...
8:58 pm

The Stiperstones: 25 years as a national nature reserve

Gravatar Photo by Sabine J Hutchinson Another excuse for printing a picture of the Stiperstones...The BBC reports:Locals have been celebrating the 25th anniversary of a park becoming a national nature reserve.The Stiperstones in Shropshire was officially opened by naturalist, Dr David Bellamy and children from the Stiperstones Primary School in 1982.Some of the youngsters, now in their 30's, were special guests at the celebrations.
8:58 pm

Nick Clegg: The New Gandhi!

Gravatar Blimey! We are truly blessed! "Volunteer adviser" to Nick Clegg's leadership campaign, Nicholas Blincoe comments thus under his breath-takingly mean-spirited article on Comment is Free: Clegg is Ghandi-esque (sic) to his core. We are not worthy! Thanks to Jonathan Calder and James Graham.
8:45 pm

Labelling gone mad!

Gravatar Feeling peckish I have just been to the kitchen for a snack. Opening the cupboard I noticed we had some peanut butter so I thought I’d have a peanut butter sandwich. Don’t ask me why, but as I unscrewed the lid I started to read the list of ingredients. Near the bottom of the jar was this message. “Are you allergic to peanuts and nuts?” Apparently, my jar of earthy crunchy peanut butter contained peanuts and nuts! You could have knocked me down with a feather. I would never have guessed that something so innocently called PEANUT BUTTER would contain ...
8:38 pm

A good day to mislay an MEP

Gravatar If ever there was a good day to lose an MEP, today must be difficult to beat. The former Lib Dem member for somewhere up north will be inside page stuff tomorrow compared with bent-as-a-nine-bob-note Labour donation scandals, yet again.  It utterly beggars belief that anyone would imagine that donations made via someone else were right and proper.  Mind you there always were stories about a certain landlord in Oxford forcing his tenans each to give Labour small amounts on his behalf so he would not go above he notification level each year.  So maybe it's endemic.
8:27 pm

We need Huhne and Clegg rather than Huhne versus Clegg

Gravatar I see in yesterdays piece by Nick Clegg in the 'Independent on Sunday' that Nick says that his leadership rival Chris Huhne will feature prominently in any Clegg-led Lib Dem party. Rumours of personal antipathy between the two men have hardly been quelled by the leadership campaign, but the party needs to utilise fully the talents of BOTH men, irrespective of the leadership vote. I'd hope that Chris would be equally magnanimous in victory too in finding Clegg a key role. Has he said anything on this subject ? To be fair, Clegg's performance on 'Newsnight' a few days ago ...
8:27 pm

Contactpoint petition

Gravatar The ARCH Blog points us to this petition: We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to abandon plans to create the Information Sharing Index, a national database of all children aged between birth and eighteen.The Information Sharing Index is the original name for Contactpoint.
8:20 pm

Iraqi employees campaign latest

Gravatar Dan Hardie has the latest news on his campaign for Iraqi employees of British forces in Iraq to be granted asylum here. He makes an appeal: You’ve heard this before, but it’s now more important than ever. The last lot of letters and emails got the Government to announce a change in policy: an inadequate change,badly implemented. The next lot of letters and emails will force the Government to announce another change in policy, one that will be properly implemented and will not be based on leaving people to die.Your MP’s address is The House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1A ...
8:20 pm

Two reasons why it's Clegg for me, just

Gravatar I've made my decision and voted for Clegg. With two candidates so similar and performing roughly equal in the “beauty contest”, both of which I haven't been able summon up much enthusiasm for, but equally both of which I would be able to live with, there have been two reasons why Clegg has just shaded it for me. Empathy and potential. 50/50 on the beauty scale My general feeling throughout this
8:16 pm

Wycombe Lib Dems Select PPC

Gravatar Wycombe Liberal Democrats have just selected Steve Guy as their Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC). {steve1.jpg} Steve has lived in Wycombe for 5 years and is a governor of Sir William Ramsay School. Immediately after his selection Steve Guy said “I am delighted to have been selected as the Liberal Democrat PPC.  I am relishing the opportunity to engage with the people of Wycombe, and to offer them a real choice at the next election. “As the Parliamentary Spokesperson for Wycombe I will be campaigning hard to build on our success in May this year.  The Liberal Democrats gained seats from ...
8:07 pm

Lord Bonkers' Diary: Ming's Community Canvass Week

Gravatar Liberator 322 has reached subscribers, so it is time to start printing Lord B's latest Diary. Monday It was when poor Ming launched his “Community Canvass Week” that I knew the writing was on the wall for him. I heard all about in the Bonkers’ Arms one evening over a pint of Smithson & Greaves Northern Bitter. (The regular patrons of this excellent establishment learn to eschew the dreadful gassy Dahrendofr Lager.) “I had that Mingis fellow of yours around this afternoon, “ said one of my fellow topers. “He was asking me what I thought about the way the ...
8:05 pm

Well, if the Tories can't run Cambridgeshire...

Gravatar ... how could anyone possibly trust them to run the country? Our County Council now has a new Leader. Dear old Keith Walters is back in charge until May, when the Tories will have another stab (having stabbed the previous one) at finding a new Leader for the third time in a year. All this would be endlessly amusing, of course, if it wasn't for the fact that the county is facing real difficulties. Even the Cambridge Evening News, has turned on them with a series of articles pointing out their incompetence and inability to even express a view on ...
8:02 pm

Did Nick Clegg approve Nicholas Blincoe's attack on Chris Huhne?

Gravatar There is a horrible article on Comment is Free today in which Nicholas Blincoe makes all sorts of accusations against Chris Huhne. James Graham is suitably rude about it: Speaking ... in the spirit of collegiality, could Team Clegg please lean on their “advisor” Nicolas Blincoe and get him to shut the fuck up?The silliest point occurs where Blincoe accuses Huhne of being posh. This is a childish insult at the best of times, but in a contest where both candidates attended the same public school it is simply ludicrous. The Guardian describes Blincoe as "a volunteer adviser to Nick ...
7:56 pm

Get off my platform!

Gravatar I remember various rows about the issue of “no platform” from when I was a student. I am disappointed, but not surprised, to hear today that they are still going on. I am more disappointed to see a number of Lib Dems, some of them normally quite sensible, joining in with the nonsense. I'd almost got myself annoyed enough to write something about the issue. Then I saw that James Graham has
7:55 pm

The Tory defector who says he does not like David Cameron ?

Gravatar I am grateful to a commenter to my previous posting (Allan) who has pointed out that Saj Karim, the Lib Dem MEP who defected to the Tories today is, according to his Facebook entry even today a member of the group "Am I the only person who doesn't like David Cameron?" As Allan says, "either he has had a road to Damascus experience or he is not being frank about his reason for defecting!" Update : Steve Guy also has some interesting quotes from Mr Karim about Cameron. As I said before, we (in the Lib Dems) are better off ...
7:43 pm

Saj Karim no 2

Gravatar I now view the whole thing with a sense of relief - we can now have someone hardworking and committed at the no 2 spot - Helen Foster-Grime. Not only can she speak 5 languages and been a trade representative with large companies she is excellent on european matters and willing to work hard. She [...]
7:12 pm

Northern Rock

Gravatar Great to see Vince pursuing the above with the usual cableite vigour! What we need to say is that we will be protecting the taxpayer as right. There also needs to be a chronology of events showing exactly how Labour have fukked up. They are claiming it’s events out of their control - the event may have been [...]
7:12 pm

Nick Clegg in "I care about inequality as a liberal" shocker!

Gravatar Interesting that Nick Clegg tries to play the inequality card here stating that if you live 5 miles out of Sheffield you will die on average 14 years sooner...and calls this a 'grotesque inequality', when his supporters think we he shouldn't be focussed on it at all...[Video]
6:55 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Email from Electoral Commission to Peter Watt

Gravatar On 21 July 2006 staff at the Electoral Commission sent an email to representatives of all the main political parties, including Peter Watt (and myself, which is why I happen to have a copy). Click on the thumbnail to see the full version. Attached was a draft new edition of the Electoral Commission’s guidance on donations. [...]
6:49 pm

LibDem leader to have a sex change?

Gravatar As others have blogged about, YouGov have a LibDem leadership election survey with all the usual questions, but do they know something we don’t? Would you like the next Liberal Democrat leader to commit the party to a referendum on the EU Reform Treaty? [] Yes, he/she should [] No, he/she should not [] Don’t know
6:36 pm

Liberal In "BBC Liberal Bias" Shock

Gravatar Okay, the title may be pushing it a bit (on both counts!) but I would like to register my protest at one piece of shameless BBC disparagement from today. Not that I have any objection to the story itself; indeed, I quite agree with the members of Belford Piegeon Racing Club that they should be eligible for relief from rates on their premises as other sports are. What I object to is the sidebar
6:10 pm

Spot the difference

Gravatar The rise of, increasingly violent Homophobia in Europe — and its neighbourhood — is deeply worrying. It is high on the European Parliament’s agenda following a crucial vote in April to condemn the rising phenomenon. Sadly, only one British Conservative MEP voted for the resolution, the rest present voting against or abstaining. This is in sharp contrast to Liberal Democrat MEPs , all of whom voted for the resolution. Sadly, that solitary Tory was not one of my North West colleagues.With their failure to support a resolution condemning discriminatory remarks by political and religious leaders targeting homosexuals, the Tories have ...
5:55 pm

Labour General Secretary quits over dodgy donation

Gravatar Peter Watt has resigned because, as the BBC reports: David Abrahams gave more than £400,000 through associates, claiming he wanted to avoid publicity. Mr Watt told a meeting of officers of Labour’s National Executive Committee that he had known about the arrangement. But he added that he had not known it might be illegal.
5:47 pm

Do you have to play politics like the weakest link?

Gravatar "Swot up on your current affairs and trust no-one". So says a contestant on BBC2's Weakest Link quiz show...can the same advice be applied to politics or can we actually trust each other in a game where an MEP is dedicated to his party one day and with another one the next? But isn't that just politics? Who was it that said if you want a friend in politics get a dog?!
5:42 pm

Labour General Secretary resigns over 'illegal Donations'

Gravatar Labour's General Secretary, Peter Watt, has just quit over the donations from a Labour Party property developer, who channelled funds through a builder, who never votes and hates politicians! He told Labour's National Executive that he had known about the arrangement, but not that it was illegal. Beggar's belief!
5:28 pm

Talk about Talks!

Gravatar Tomorrow, some 40 countries and organisations will meet in Annapolis, Maryland, for a US-backed Middle East peace conference. My question to you is; “Should we really expect anything positive to come from it?” Personally, my expectations are low. It seems neither side are willing to make the massive, historic and deeply painful concessions needed to make it a success. But the biggest weakness as far as I can see is; neither Iran nor Hamas, the Palestinian faction which seized control of Gaza from President Abbas's Fatah in June, have been included in the process. How can peace in the middle ...
5:25 pm

Be careful what you wish for

Gravatar Remember Billy Davies?  He was the Preston manager at the time of the playoffs a couple of years ago who wrote “Job Done” on the changing room wall at Elland Road after the first leg of the semi finals ended in a draw.  Of  course Leeds went on to win the semi final before losing [...]
5:22 pm

Tomorrow's Neighbourhood Committee Meeting

Gravatar Everyone is welcome to attend the South of the Borough Neighbourhood Committee Meeting tomorrow, 27th November, at 7.30pm at Tolworth Girls School. The main items on the agenda are below - but the order in which they will be taken will depend on what people want. Anybody who attends the meeting can fill in a pink slip indicating which items they are interested in and then we try to...
5:16 pm

Bye bye Saj

Gravatar So Saj Karim (MEP NW England) has buggered off and joined the Tories in a major cream puff. Oh dearie, dearie me my morale has shot through the floor - not! I can't remember if I've actually met the guy during one of my various trips out to Brussels (speaks volumes for him in it's own right), but the general word on the street amongst those with ears to the ground in Brussels is that he wasn't in the first division amongst LDEPP. A few comments from Saj: On Human Rights: "This is just another example of how the Labour ...
5:05 pm

My vote is in the post for Chris Huhne

Gravatar Despite the hand written postcard from Willie Rennie MP (someone I have got huge respect for) asking me to support Nick my vote was posted off today and I voted for Chris Huhne. There were a number of reasons I voted Huhne but the most significant were probably: 1. I know Chris and get on well with him on a personal basis. 2. I feel Chris is slightly more of a "Social Liberal" than Nick is. 3. The block support for Nick by Scottish MPs who have declared raised my hackles as it did during the last Leadership campaign. 4. ...
5:04 pm

Saj Karim 'won over by Tory Immigration policies'

Gravatar I have only spoken to Sajjad Karim on a few occasions, and can't claim to know him well, so was very surprised to hear the news today that he had defected to the Tories. Of course I've been hearing about his rivalry with Chris Davies MEP, both vying for the top of list position for the North West Euro selections. Had he said his reason for jumping ship was that he had come second, and that he had a better offer from the Tories, then at least he would have been honest. But to claim that it was Camerons Immigration ...
5:03 pm

"I am being made to feel like a criminal" says man who evaded law

Gravatar I've just heard on Radio 3 that secretive Labour donor David Abrahams is complaining he is 'being made to feel like a criminal'. Since it is clear he made donations to the Labour party through a circuitous route to evade the normal rules about donations to political parties, which adjective does he want?
5:00 pm

Planning Application in Somerset Avenue

Gravatar Many local residents objected to a planning application in Somerset Avenue. The development would have replaced two semis, and part of the back garden of the house next door, with eight houses and an access road. I'm pleased that the planning application was refused by the Council today. You can see all the details of the application here. As local councillors we have to be...
4:51 pm

Another YouGov survey on the Lib Dem leadership contest

Gravatar …and this one was more in depth, suggesting it was probably commissioned by a newspaper or other media outlet. Lots of leading questions that pissed me off, but there you go. One question is factually wrong. The Liberal Democrats have not had four leaders since their formation. They have either had three or five depending on whether you include Acting Leaders Vince Cable and Robert Maclennan. To leave off the latter is rank ignorance. He may not have set the world on fire, but he made more impact in six months than Iain Duncan Smith made in two years. Share ...
4:43 pm


Gravatar No idea who it was for, but I’ve just filled out a YouGov survey on the leadership election asking who I voted for, my opinion on the candidates, who I’d vote for if Chris and Nick weren’t standing and various other questions about the party. As the closing date is Friday morning, I expect it’s for one of the Sundays - I think it’s the Telegraph who normally use YouGov.
4:40 pm

Blincoe-ing idiot

Gravatar As people know, I’ve now come out as a Nick Clegg supporter (indeed I’ve already voted for him). Speaking therefore in the spirit of collegiality, could Team Clegg please lean on their “advisor” Nicolas Blincoe and get him to shut the fuck up? Apart from anything else, his latest intervention is a week out of date. We’d actually nipped this one in the bud; surely the last thing that either campaign team needs right now is to turn the temperature up again? That he is one of the people who before last week’s Politics Show was actively trying to lower ...
4:28 pm

FFS It's Monday: Counter-terrorism

Gravatar After 11th September 2001, the world suffered a collective failure of common and declared war on an abstract noun: "terrorism". The British Government joined in this intellectual insult and decided to do the terrorists job for them by introducing a range of counter-terrorism measures available from the "you couldn't make it up" shelf. One of my personal favourites was detention on the grounds of
4:28 pm

At last - Greavesie, The Cat, and the rest get their just rewards!

4:27 pm

Chris to CBI: Do we want to be dynamos or dinosaurs?

Gravatar In a hard-hitting speech to the CBI conference today, Chris Huhne laid down a challenge for European businesses: The transition to a low carbon economy will be as momentous as previous industrial revolutions. As the shift from coal to oil. From gaslight to electricity. It has the potential to give us the competitive edge in the new global economy. So we have a choice. Do we want to be the dynamos that drive change, or the dinosaurs destroyed by it? Do we want to be Microsoft or IBM? That is why I find it so worrying that many of the ...
4:23 pm

So long readers, whoever you were.

Gravatar It’s time for me to put this little blog to sleep. After two and a half fascinating years as the head of a small but perfectly formed environmental regeneration charity in South London, I’m off to run a national charity. Its been a real pleasure working here with some wonderful people but for all sorts [...]
4:02 pm

Why you can rarely trust a defector

Gravatar So Saj Karim, elected as a Lib Dem MEP for ther North West of England has defected. Apparently he has been, in his own words, thinking about making the decision for two years. That all seems rather odd given that his blog has a number of comments made in recent months that are critical of the Tories and he was, until a few days ago, actively touting his Lib Dem credentials when he was attempting to be re-selected on the Lib Dem Euro list for the North West of England. Of course, he is now a Tory. How can anyone ...
3:42 pm

The bottom line

Gravatar I've already filled in and sent my vote for Nick Clegg - stamp dutifully put on envelope - and I remain confident that he has the public profile to win this contest. I was thinking about my own constituency, which just happens to be represented in Parliament by one D. Cameron esq. and where we are not exactly a force to be reckoned with, although we are the official opposition (a rather flattering description). I would like the local party to use the leadership election as a springboard for revitalising our local party and encouraging the people who have left ...
3:30 pm

I receive leaflets

Gravatar The three leaflets I have had from the Clegg campaign devote a lot of space to listing his backers, who are his main asset. This listing resembles a medieval procedure (called compurgation) whereby a defendant would get a dozen freemen to swear he was a good bloke, as distinct from dealing with whether the allegation was in fact true. They are largely the same group as only 19 months ago backed Ming Campbell, none more vehemently than Clegg himself (see e.g. Guardian 20 Jan 06). By last month their support had melted away. The other feature of Clegg’s leaflets that ...
3:26 pm

Chancellor Darling’s Gummy Fingers

Gravatar Just would like to draw your attention to Ben Goldacre’s blog on the faking of biometric details. It makes for interesting and quite fun reading.  I will be cooking up my own edible and fraudulent fingerprints soon to see if I can fool the fingerprint reader on my computer. For now though, watch this excerpt from the Mythbusters to see how woefully inadequate some of the systems the government will be relying on to secure your information will be.
3:11 pm

Chris is convincing many party members - Guardian

Gravatar In today’s Guardian Newsdesk Podcast, Tania Branigan reports that “many party members find Chris Huhne a convincing challenger.”
3:06 pm

Liberal England backs Chris

Gravatar Leading LibDem blogger, Jonathan Calder, has backed Chris for the leadership. Jonathan writes the Liberal England blog, which is the Number One Liberal Democrat blog in the Iain Dale Guide to Political Blogging in the UK 2007-8. Jonathan commented: “Chris strikes me as the more forceful character and the better communicator of the two.”
2:57 pm

An intense, watchful cat

Gravatar I enjoyed this comment in Saturday's Times piece on Huhne: “He would not fall for any of our tricks because he knows them all, and more: interviewing Mr Huhne is like circling an intense, watchful cat that seems perfectly friendly but is probably quite dangerous.” I liked the fact that the writers had - correctly, I believe - detected a quality that, very relevantly for this contest, would mean that Brown and Cameron wouldn't dare take their eyes off him in case they got a mauling.
2:53 pm

Sunday in Kenny

Gravatar Spent part of Sunday in Kensington (well more in Fairfield actually) helping Lib Dem Councillor Frank Doran. Frank's knowledge of the area is encyclopaedic. He has loads of issues on the go - most recently one to do with a load of dumped tyres which seems to have had quite a bit of media coverage. It's good to go out campaigning in a team like this. And another dog free session for me. Maybe I am starting to get lucky.
2:48 pm

The Times Quantifies Clegg’s Potential

Gravatar Tim Hames writes in the Times today, and his thoughts so echo my own subjective analysis of likely successful strategies for a Clegg leadership that I had to reproduce this here: “No leader can transform his prospects simply by his own actions. His opportunity is determined by the space that the two much larger parties afford him. The contraction of that territory is what undermined Charles Kennedy and did for Sir Menzies throughout his tenure. Without a prevailing public mood that is antagonistic to both the Government and the official Opposition, the Liberal Democrats cannot expect to prosper. Recent events, logic and opinion ...
2:32 pm

Nukes - Chris has it (nearly) magnificently right

Gravatar It is time we stopped posturing on issues such as nuclear weapons. Everyone interested in these issues should (I suggest) look at the work of the Oxford Research Group, an independent think-tank that has for decades studied how nuclear weapons decisions are actually made, who makes them and how we need to start debates where people actually are not where we want them to be. The challenge is to get through to the people in the actual decision making loops, many of whom have very serious doubts – practical, economic and yes MORAL, about what is happening. To liberate those ...
2:11 pm

More incompetence from Gordon Brown

Gravatar I was in The Observer yesterday - this time over the way in which the sell-off of a government business that invested money in developing countries made millions for some of its staff. It's another case of flogging off government assets on the cheap. You can read the story here.
1:58 pm

Brown's Christmas Present

Gravatar Gordon may have bottled out of the election here in Britain, but 3,500 miles away another Labour prime minister called Brown is fighting to be returned to office after nearly a decade of his party in power. A general election will be held on the mid-Atlantic island of Bermuda on December 18th. This tiny democracy, where my close family lives now, is a little version of Westminster in the 1950s, a two-party system, first-past-the-post single member constituencies. Universal suffrage was finally granted in 1968 but the same old white-dominated United Bermuda Party remained in power for 30 years before the black-dominated Progressive Labour Party swept to power in 1998. What's frustrating in Bermuda ...
1:39 pm

What the Pundits won't tell you about the Chris versus Nick leadership contest....

Gravatar Regular readers will know that occasionally Paul Reynolds gives me an exclusive post. Paul and I tend to represent different wings of the party (that is my disclaimer, I don't agree with all his analysis!) however, I asked him his view on the leadership it is...... The general position of the broadsheet press over the LibDem leadership contest is that it is rather dull, with few differences between the candidates. However, they have been caught napping. The candidates are polite and courteous to each other. And so they should be. But this has fooled the quality press. Whilst both ...
1:37 pm

Mind the Gap

Gravatar Hello Kids. Please excuse the delay in posting. Znojmo only has one internet cafe, and even this one refuses to advertise the fact that it has internet access. Furthermore, the kezboards are přoně to doín§ weířd thingš ín thís pářt of thě wořld. I hope to be in Brno tomorrow where there should be more of an opportunity to pollute these pages with attempts at narration and wit. Ooh, itś started snowing. Affectionately yours, Julian H P.S. Whoever is voting for ´Disgracefully Chauvinistic´please note that if you do not cease this blog will soon be adorned with photos of male ...
1:36 pm

The People's £50million

Gravatar The Big Lottery Fund is running a competition - The People's £50million. We will get to decide a project to receive £50million, there are four projects that have been shortlisted, two of which will result in improvements locally here in the West Midlands. The four projects are The Black Country Urban Park, The Eden Project: The Edge, Sherwood: the Living Legend and Sustrans' Connect2.
1:35 pm

Why does the Oxford Union think that freedom of speech only applies to fascists?

Gravatar One thing I didn’t realise regarding the latest Oxford Union debacle is that this comes just a month after those heroic defenders of free speech denied Norman Finklestein a platform to criticise Israel: Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians surely cannot be described as balanced by any stretch of the imagination. The Biblical injunction of “an eye for an eye” is grisly enough, but Israel goes even farther by its habitual practice of exacting an eye for an eyelash! As Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians becomes more heavy-handed and violent, the very notion of balance needs to be re-examined. Luke Tryl ...
1:32 pm

Sajjad Karim defects to the Tories

Gravatar Sajjad Karim a North West England MEP has defected from the Liberal Democrats to the Conservatives. I do not know Sajjad well but had heard he had threatened to defect should he not beat Chris Davies for the number one position on the Liberal Democrat Euro list, well he didn't beat Chris and now he has defected.
12:56 pm

CIA suspects BAE of bribing people in Central Europe, the Persian Gulf and South Africa

Gravatar The New York Times reports: As far back as July 2002, representatives from the State, Justice and Defense departments, as well as the C.I.A., sat down in Washington with senior British officials from the Ministry of Defense to complain about suspected bribery by BAE in Central Europe, the Persian Gulf and South Africa. Sir Kevin Tebbit, then Britain’s permanent under secretary of the Ministry of Defense, rejected the suspicions as baseless. American officials who participated in the meeting later nicknamed him Sir Topham Hatt after a character in the Thomas the Tank Engine children’s series because of what they said ...
12:46 pm

My problem with Chris

Gravatar Having read and talked to Chris supporters in the past few weeks my main problem with him is this: Chris seems to want to tactically press the activist buttons with the `I’m more left-wing than him` spin - whereas Nick talks about how we need to challenge ourselves to reach out to the whole country without [...]
12:35 pm

How the DNA database threatens innocent people

Gravatar I've written before about the dangers in the government's rather cavalier attitude to innocent people's DNA records - and today's news from the Telegraph is a salutary warning that these are not just theoretical problems: Thousands of people could be accused of a crime they did not commit as a result of errors in records on the national DNA database, it emerged last night.In the past year, more than 100 possible inaccuracies in the documentation of DNA profiles have been discovered, and a further 1,500 administrative mistakes have been logged on the system.The full article is over on their website. ...
12:29 pm

Waking up to Evan

Gravatar Well, we were definitely woken by the Today programme this morning just after 7.30am. Vic seems to think that Evan Harris is always on when she listens to Today at mine. But I'm fairly certain that can't be the case. I was deeply impressed by his forceful and entirely liberal arguments for free speech and even sharing a platform with individuals who hold certain distainful views. I'd much rather someone like Evan was on the same platform providing solid well spoken arguments as to why their views are absolute nonsense and hokum, than let them stand outside and not have ...
12:25 pm

Old Heroes for a New Leader: Chris Huhne

Gravatar As we have done in each of the last two Liberal Democrat leadership elections, in 1999 and 2006, the Liberal Democrat History Group has asked both candidates for the Liberal Democrat leadership to write a short article on their favourite historical figure or figures – the ones they felt had influenced their own political beliefs [...]
12:19 pm

Haringey Parks Police under threat

Gravatar It beggars belief! Labour Haringey are planning to scrap the Haringey parks Police next year. That's going to make people feel safer using our parks - not! In order to save £200,000 the new plans from Labour propose to reduce the scheme to using wardens - who won't have the power of arrest. Local Haringey Lib Dems and I have launched a campaign to stop Labour from disbanding the Parks Constabulary. For the last five years they have looked after us in the parks, petrolled, watched over evens and provided a police presence - which we need if we are ...
12:16 pm

Saj Karim

Gravatar Good riddance to bad rubbish!
12:08 pm

Britain blocks US fraud inquiry

Gravatar From The Guardian: US corruption investigators have gone behind the back of Downing Street to fly a British witness to Washington to testify about Saudi arms deals with the UK arms firm BAE Systems, the Guardian can disclose. In a hitherto secret move, Swiss federal prosecutors have also agreed to hand over to Washington financial records linked to the Saudi royal family. The US is seeking - but has so far been refused - more than a million pages of documents seized from BAE, its bankers, Lloyds TSB, and the Ministry of Defence during an investigation by the Serious Fraud ...
12:02 pm

How the party leaders should play their hands

Gravatar Its always interesting to compare the opinions of different commentators from different papers on the same story.Today we get to compare and contrast responses to the Government's current difficulties.  The writers are Bruce Anderson - a Tory writing in The Independent, Jackie Ashley an old lefty in The Guardian and Time Hames, who is quite keen on the Lib Dems.Bruce Anderson is also clear that the Government is in trouble and things are likely to get worse before they get better.  He wonders why the Tories are therefore not doing much better. The voters do not know enough about [Cameron's] ...
11:53 am

Now available in China?

Gravatar For a while now I've been displaying that red banner in the top right hand corner of this site showing that my blog is not available to readers in China, as if they would ever want to read it! So I am intrigued to find the following entry in my logs today: (whois, map) {China Flag} China Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1) Win XP MSIE 6 Referrer: Google: housing price and money supply Path 1 2007-11-26 08:48:41 0 So, hello China! Shall I remove the "not available" banner now?
11:28 am

The Oxford Union should hear Irving and Griffin if they want

Gravatar I may be a nutcase, but generally I think that the more we hear from the likes of the BNP and David Irving, the better. The more we hear their views the clearer it is that they are ridiculous. With the BNP you only have to start picking apart their policy on immigration which advocates: ...the introduction of a system of voluntary resettlement whereby those immigrants and their descendants who
11:27 am

Karim defection a blow for Nick Clegg?

Gravatar I have to admit that I viscerally loathe defectors. So don't expect any nice words of regret at losing Sajjad Karim to the Tories, for whatever reason he thinks justifies his actions. But back within the party he has just run away from, I wonder whether it has any importance. One of the things that Nick Clegg got plenty of plaudits for recently was the idea of an "earned amnesty" for existing illegal immigrants, a measure that I have not seen Cameron, even last week in Prague, beat. But given that this is one area where we have clear blue ...
11:25 am

Old Heroes for a New Leader: Nick Clegg

Gravatar As we have done in each of the last two Liberal Democrat leadership elections, in 1999 and 2006, the Liberal Democrat History Group has asked both candidates for the Liberal Democrat leadership to write a short article on their favourite historical figure or figures – the ones they felt had influenced their own political beliefs [...]
10:05 am

Buses are great unless it's raining and they don't appear!

Gravatar The weekend went, as usual, far too quickly! I braved the lashings of cold rain on Saturday to stand a wet cold bus stops for the 135 bus that advertises as being every 10 minutes or more – perhaps my watch is too fast? Anway – the hustings was fab – I wasn’t going to go – I was very disillusioned at the two MPs standing and hoping to lead our party forward. Initially my impressions were of a
9:56 am

Bus strike news…

Gravatar I have learned today that the Stagecoach bus strike action planned for Tuesday & Thursday this week will not now take place.  At this time there is still possible action for Saturday and talks are continuing. This is good news and I hope that a satisfactory outcome will be found to stop the inevitable disruption that a strike will bring. Rick
9:47 am

Charles Kennedy speaks at our AGM

Gravatar As secretary of Hackney Lib Dems, I have to organise the AGM. In fact I organise a lot of what we do in Hackney. Last year I started too late, so this year I am determined not to repeat the error. I wanted a speaker who would get a lot of our members to come along. I wanted a venue that could hold a lot of people. And it all came together. Charles Kennedy agreed to come. And thanks to Meral, we secured the Alevi Centre, a superb venue for our event. As organiser I did feel anxious, but it ...
9:39 am

Letting them die

Gravatar From Dan Hardie: I’ve had emails from three people who claim to be - and who almost certainly are- Iraqi former employees of the British Government. All three say that they and their former colleagues are still at risk of death for their ‘collaboration’. … I can email and telephone this man: so can any Foreign Office official. It should not be impossible to verify his story and then send him the funds he needs to get to a less unsafe Arab country. But that is not happening. Here’s an email exchange we had the other day. My questions are ...
9:33 am

Heads In the Sand

Gravatar Alongside a number of colleagues, including Acting Lib Dem Leader Vince Cable MP, I have written today to David Miliband asking him to make strong representations to the Saudi Government over the outr...
9:12 am

What a Wasted Opportunity

Gravatar When I saw that yesterday’s Observer had a three-page cover story on the European Parliament in its review section, I thought, ‘Great! It’s about time one of the mainstream media explained to the public what the European Parliament does.’ But after reading only the first few paragraphs of Tim Adams’ piece, it became clear to [...]
8:57 am

Local councillors should have more responsibility

Gravatar The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published its findings on the involvement of ward councillors in their communities. The paragraphs: "# Community engagement: councillors need to be more actively engaged with all parts of the community if they are to be effective leaders. They need to be empowered and supported to engage with residents and community groups using a range of different tools. # Advocacy: councillors need to be able to speak freely and openly challenge the executive." jump out at one from the wish-list of the councillors giving evidence to the Foundation. There is much to be mulled over in ...
8:56 am

NW3 Hampstead triumph

Gravatar That's the end of the year then! The christmas lights have been switched on in Hampstead village - to my mind there is no surer sign that the year is coming to a close, the nights are so drawn in as to be closed and I've not done all the shopping I need to do. So it's a huge well done to NW3Hampstead - the traders association for Hampstead village. Driven by the amazingly energetic Linda Chung with the help of a host of local shopkeepers and managers, it's a genuine effort to raise the profile and raise some good ...
8:53 am

Shirley's backing says it all

Gravatar It's indicative that Shirley Williams, one of the founding members of the SDP, has decided to back Nick Clegg. This, as she notes, is partly because of his "commitment to social justice". As I see it, there are 3 very good reasons to support Clegg this time. 1) Nick is a passionate and intelligent Liberal Democrat. He seems able to put both his qualities and those of the party across to people who aren't necessarily interested in politics but who want to make Britain fairer and more liberal than it is now. 2) Nick will take the party to the next level. Paddy Ashdown, the first leader of the Lib Dems, believes he has ...
8:45 am

So Saj Karim MEP is off

Gravatar I see the breaking news that the Liberal Democrat MEP Saj Karim has defected to the Tories. He has been one of the two Lib Dem MEPs in the North-West since 2004. I haven’t had a great deal to do with him in the European Parliament, but he came to my attention because of the excellent [...]
8:39 am

Karim defection

Gravatar Well the post below has been somewhat superceded by todays news. Work up this morning to the news on Radio 4 that Saj Karim has defected to the conservatives. Given that these things can't be organised overnight, I can only assume that this has been in the offing for a while (although whether his staff knew is another matter). I know Saj was disappointed to come second in the ballot for our candidates....and I know that phone canvassing in the run up to the vote will have made it clear that this was going to happen. Part of his motivation ...
8:36 am

Sajjad Karim defects to Tories

Gravatar That’s the story Sky News is carrying this morning, with an interview from Saj himself. Alex Wilcock notes here that he had just been re-selected as a Lib Dem candidate for the European Parliament in the north-west - he finished second to Chris Davies: Mr Karim – far from declaring his new-found Conservative vision – was [...]
8:31 am

West End Christmas Week 2007!

Gravatar This year's West End Christmas week starts next Saturday (1st December). For the seventh consecutive year, we are having a super West End Christmas Week to highlight the vibrancy of the West End and its local shops. The launch is on Saturday at Magdalen Green and we hope many West End residents will be there. It will be an action-packed week in the West End. You can download the Christmas Week flyer by clicking on the following link : EVENTS: Saturday 1st December Christmas Week starts! The seventh West End Christmas Week will be launched on Magdalen Green at ...
8:11 am

BBC Shamefully Undervalues Importance of MEPs!

Gravatar …Is what I’d normally say if an MEP’s defection got a just brief interview at a quarter to seven in the morning and no mention in the radio or online headlines. But a teeny little partisan bit of me is relieved that the defection of Sajjad Karim to the Tories isn’t bigger news. It’s a shame to lose him; he’s a hard-working MEP, and seemed a relatively decent man. He didn’t sound hugely convincing talking about David Cameron’s “vision” on the Today Programme this morning, though. If Mr Karim knows what that is, he’s the only person in Britain that ...
8:04 am

How close did Brian Paddick come to being the Conservative London Mayor candidate?

Gravatar That, and other questions, are answered in his Q+A session with The Independent, published today.
7:51 am

The search for women

Gravatar The delay in selecting a Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate list for the 2009 European elections makes the Western Mail this morning. They report that the process has been suspended because all of the five applicants are men, at least one of whom comes from an ethnic minority. Three women have been approached to stand and they are currently considering that request. For some reason this decision has generated much excitement at the Western Mail. Their editorial effectively accuses us of excessive and unnecessary political correctness: Press-ganging women into putting their names forward, as the Welsh Liberal Democrats now appear to ...
7:33 am

Fran and Molly Lyon - your chance to help

Gravatar I have to admit that I initially thought that John Hemming was exaggerating when he talked about babies being removed from their mothers at birth for no good reason and being put up for adoption. Now, the more I hear about the inhumane treatment doled out to women by various Government agencies (see the Janipher Maseko story below, I am very glad that victims of such injustices have him as a champion. Yesterday's story about Fran Lyon in the Mail on Sunday made me angry. She has had to flee the country because social services have, against much expert advice, ...
1:05 am

The two faces of capitalism

Gravatar Why you don't need to be selfish to believe in capitalism. I wrote this article a couple of months ago but forgot to publish it. I have put it up now because having gone to the effort of writing it, it seemed a shame to let it go to waste. This is why some of it may seem a bit dated. People who read this blog regularly will know that I do not have a high opinion of Naomi Klein. Her work rests on dubious assumptions and baseless attacks. Her latest article for the Guardian does nothing to change that. ...
12:42 am

Sarah Teather re-selected

Gravatar Congratulations to Sarah Teather MP, who was unanimously re-selected on Sunday night as the Lib Dem prospective parliamentary candidate for Brent Central at the next General Election.
12:08 am

Yorkshire "Pride not Prejudice"

Gravatar Above are both sides of a remarkable leaflet published by the Labour Party in Bradford who use Yorkshire Day as a way of uniting people in an area where the BNP is active and where there are from time to time racial tensions. It is so very sad that in the Borough of Redcar & Cleveland Labour are using Yorkshire to create divisions, where there should be none. Our campaign for recognition of our status as part of the North Riding of Yorkshire is a pragmatic attempt to clear up the confusion that exists as a result of regular changes ...

Previous days:

Sunday 25th November 2007, Saturday 24th November 2007, Friday 23rd November 2007, Thursday 22nd November 2007, Wednesday 21st November 2007, Tuesday 20th November 2007