Tuesday 27th November 2007

11:53 pm

The Doha Debates

Gravatar Having heard both the LibDem leadership candidates frequently over the past few months, singly and together, I opted out of the London Hustings at Friends House tonight, and instead repaired to the glorious upstairs function room of One Great George Street for a reception to celebrate the Doha Debates, self-described as ‘Qatar’s unique forum for [...]
11:28 pm

Is Sajjid Karim as big a scumbag as he is being made out to be ?

Gravatar I have read on Iain Dale's blog that Saj Karrim, upon his defection to the Tories, sacked his staff by text message and took property from his offices, some of which belongs to the Liberal Democrats. Is it true that he really is that much of a scumbag ? As one commenter to Iain Dale's blog points out " the text message sacking is absolutely true ( I met one of his former staff last night). he also arranged a van to come to his office on sunday and emptied it of literally everything - including some property of the ...
11:27 pm

London Hustings? Was it that exciting then????

Gravatar I had hoped to get to the London hustings this evening, but then decided, given I had conferences in Manchester yesterday and Liverpool tomorrow, it was going to be too tight and a bit exhausting to come back. So, I have been waiting breathlessly for all those infamous bloggers (Stephen Tall - I'll make a decision after the hustings today) who were waiting and seeing.........all I can think is that they are all off down the pub, oblivious to us poor souls sat in our hotel rooms, wondering if its best to go to bed and set the alarm for ...
11:19 pm

When did choice become a dirty word for Liberals?

Gravatar This exchange (posting and comment) at Jo's Jottings highlights the (to me) strange reluctance of at least some Liberals to endorse the idea of choice in public services. I joined the Liberal Party in 1985, as a result of reading Jo Grimond's journalism, which demonstrated a sophiticated understanding and critique of Thatcherism. I was a bit surprised to find that few of the Liberals I met agreed with Grimond and most seemed to share Labour's knee-jerk reaction against and refusal to engage with what was happening in British politics during the 1980s. Troubled by this I asked my new 'Radical ...
11:19 pm

At least it proves that Harriett Harman really is dim

Gravatar All the fuss and furore over Labour accepting £600,000 in dodgy donations has highlighted one thing above everything else. When Gordon Brown said no to a donation not properly declared, he showed some sense. When Hilary Benn did likewise, he showed he knew what he was doing. But when Harman accepted money she proved she really was dim after all.
11:13 pm

More Tories Back Jack?

Gravatar I had an interesting call this evening from an Eastern Region Tory, who will remain nameless for obvious reasons. He assured me of his support in the European elections and suggested I may get more votes from the Tories............curiouser and curiouser?! It appears that many Tories have got the hump with a certain, virtually invisible it seems, Geoffrey Van Orden MEP. I hope people in the Eastern Region will vote for me because they will trust me to be a voice for them, to raise that voice when necessary and to ensure that they have a representative who listens, is ...
10:55 pm

Tullideph Area Update

Gravatar I have had feedback from Dundee City Council regarding proposals it has agreed to, following my raising safety concerns at the junction of Tullideph Place and Tullideph Street. These streets are in an area of sheltered housing and although the number of traffic movements is limited, residents have expressed concern about the speed of a minority of cars and the lack of road markings at the junction of the two streets. The City Council has now advised me that the junction of Tullideph Street and Tullideph Place has been inspected to assess suitable improvements. I have been told that it ...
10:43 pm

All hail, the amazing Baroness Jay

Gravatar Let us give credit where credit is due. Baroness Jay, Labour member of the House of Lords and daughter of former Labour PM Jim Callaghan, appears to be remarkably sharp. Until earlier today, everyone in the Labour party was categorising themselves into one of two groups: (a) The “we didn’t know anything about the David Abrahams” group, [...]
10:17 pm

Let me give you some advice

Gravatar Following Nicholas Blincoe's unpleasant and unfunny attack on Chris Huhne, and the controversy over whether he is an advisor to Clegg, Jonathan Calder asks whether he can be considered a 'former volunteer adviser to Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy', having occasionally written jokes for them. Goodness knows what qualifies someone to style themselves an 'adviser'. I remember that the journalist Paul Johnson often claimed to have 'advised Margaret Thatcher on trade union reform', as thought the two of them had crushed Arthur Scargill together, unaided. Yet Johnson is mentioned only once in Thatcher's memoirs, suggesting his role was not quite ...
9:45 pm

Labour withdraws funding for Miranda Grell's appeal

Gravatar You may recall the case of Miranda Grell. As the BBC reported at the time: A Labour councillor has been found guilty of falsely branding a Liberal Democrat rival a paedophile and telling electors he had sex with teenage boys.Miranda Grell slurred gay Lib Dem candidate Barry Smith while campaigning for the Leyton ward in Waltham Forest Council, east London, in 2006.Grell, 29, was convicted by magistrates of two counts of making false statements about another candidate. She was handed a £1,000 fine and will be forced to vacate her seat.Grells was subsequently defended by Labour bloggers and it was ...
9:30 pm

Nicholas Blincoe

Gravatar There's been no reliable word from Team Clegg about the status of the article on Comment is Free by Nicholas Blincoe. But Richard Allan did write to James Graham as follows: A little earlier this afternoon, my attention was drawn to an article by Nicholas Blincoe on the Comment is Free website. I have not met Nicholas before and he is not a part of the Nick Clegg Campaign Team. I understand that he has been one of a number of people to advise Nick on speeches previously, hence his self-description.The contents of the article are a personal viewpoint and ...
9:26 pm

Significant spending pressure will hit Redcar & Cleveland schools next year

Gravatar Ian Swales, Lib Dem campaigner for the Redcar Constituency (pictured), expressed dismay today at the Government's grant to local schools for next year. He is writing to the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families to plead for a higher allocation. He said, "While nationally the Government is giving schools 4.1% extra cash, Redcar & Cleveland schools are only getting 2.1% extra next year. Neither of these figures make full allowance for public sector inflation currently running at 7%. "It is appalling that our local schools are getting such a raw deal compared with other schools across the country. ...
8:42 pm

Huhne replies to Fawcett Society on Equal Pay

Gravatar A couple of weeks ago in the days when my blog was on MySpace (myspace.com/libdemjo) I focussed on the issue of equal pay: "As a supporter of the Fawcett Society (along with Jo Christie-Smith if my memory serves me correctly) I was interested to read the following letter they have sent to both leadership candidates asking for their views on gender equality. As communications secretary for my branch of Unison I got involved with this campaign and it helped me to settle into my role. It is an issue I feel passionately about as I geniunely don't understand the reason ...
8:32 pm

Choice in the public sector?

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 a bad reputation) IT company will give the public any more choice than they had before. Before they had no choice. During the process they had choice (although the councillors decided). Now they have no choice again. If someone could explain why privatisation means more choice please do let me know...
8:28 pm

Meanwhile in Zimbabwe - assasination attempt rumours and kit dropping

Gravatar A possible assasination attempt on Mugabe in Harare today (27 Nov 07) ... according to the 'Zimbabwe Today' Blog. By crashing a vehicle into his motorcade. President Robert Mugabe's motorcade - notorious for its strict security procedures and high-speed travel - came to a sudden halt in Harare today when a mystery vehicle evaded outriders and guards before smashing into a security vehicle. Both drivers died at the scene.... many Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives are convinced that this was a deliberate attempt to kill Mugabe by crashing his vehicle - a method of assassination not unknown in Southern Africa. ...
7:47 pm

Now who is soft on terrorism Mr Brown ?

Gravatar you know how Labour like to talk tough on terrorism. how they like to tell us they need a 90 day period in which to question people and how the Lib Dems and Tories are soft on terrorism because they don't blindly follow everything Labour does on terrorist issues ? Well there is good reason to point out why Labour are all talk on terrorism and don't actually match deeds with their words. In Norfolk, labour have slashed funding from the County's counter terrorism budget, which includes protecting Bacton Gas Terminal (Britain's main gatway for Gas in to the country), ...
7:27 pm

Lord Bonkers' Diary: Nick Clegg in the garden

Gravatar After Monday there generally comes... Tuesday The pride and joy of my gardener Meadowcroft is his collection of rare hairy cacti. He gathers them from the arid south of Rutland and tends them in the way that a particularly attentive she wolf looks after her whelps. I well remember his fury when a young whipper-snapper from Westminster School burnt down the glasshouse where he keeps them. My first reaction was to hand the lad over to the Proper Authorities, but learning that he was some sort of nephew of my (how shall I put it?) old friend Moura Budberg, I ...
7:13 pm

Southall - what about his research?

Gravatar Responding to today's GMC hearing: John Hemming MP has called upon the General Medical Council to investigate the research of Dr David Southall. "The GMC", he said, "have so far refused to investigate the research of Dr David Southall. They have found most of the recent allegations considered by the GMC to be proven." "It is very important that Dr Southall's research is properly investigated.
7:13 pm

Problems in Sodbury, Yate, Shire Way

Gravatar It's been a bad season for vandalism and other unacceptable behaviour. Shopkeepers and residents in Chipping Sodbury are up in arms about late-night vandalism in the Street - broken windows and other damage. Meanwhile at Abbotswood a dispersal order is now in effect to deal with anti-social behaviour. Police and Police Community Support Officers now have the power to send unruly groups out of the area. Anyone who refuses to move on, or who returns to the area within 24 hours, could be arrested. (Details on the Avon and Somerset Police website). Along Shire Way a cable phone and TV ...
7:12 pm

Rita Tushingham

Gravatar There is a terrific website dedicated to the career of this iconic British actress.
6:59 pm

The government officials who look forward to an outbreak of Bird Flu

Gravatar Suffolk Tory MP Richard Spring has raised concerns about why DEFRA officials called in to deal with an outbreak of Bird Flu were put up in a £310 a night hotel rather than using the myriad of cheaper hotels in the Diss area where the outbreak took place. DEFRA themselves claim they paid only £95 a night, but Mr Spring has cast grave doubts on these figures and says that DEFRA have been wildly extravagant with tax payers cash. I have family in Diss, indeed I got married very close by, so I know how much hotel costs are in ...
6:51 pm

Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Gravatar That's what my old army sergeant used to say to me. And, do you know what he was right. I know its rare for a Liberal democrat to be organised but thats what I have done - I've got myself organised! I have just booked myself onto next years Spring and Autumn Conferences and booked the accommodation too! I am so proud of myself. Normally, I leave it far too late in the day and end up paying well over the odds for a third rate B&B. But not next year. With the Spring conference being in Liverpool and being ...
6:41 pm

The stamping boot of the 'anti-fascist' Left

Gravatar At the National Union of Students Conference in 2001, I was one of a small handful of delegates not to give Ray Hill a standing ovation. Hill was (and is) a famous anti-fascist campaigner, who put himself at considerable risk to disrupt the far right. He gave a barnstorming, emotinal speech to a packed hall. So why didn't I get on my feet to clap and cheer like everyone else? At the time, I wrote... "The disturbing point is that exactly the same speech could have been made with ‘Jews’, ‘gypsies’, ‘homosexuals’, ‘blacks, ‘Asians’ or any other minority in place ...
6:14 pm

Harman in trouble over dodgy donation

Gravatar As the fall-out from Labour's dodgy donation scandal widens the BBC report that Camberwell and Peckham MP Harriet Harman accepted £5,000 from Janet Kidd, one of the three front-people from 'shy' donor David Abrahams during her Deputy Leadership campaign. She has said that she will repay the donation and accepted it in the first place in "good faith". However her suggestion of complete naivety is somewhat undermined as it has emerged that both Gordon Brown and Hilary Benn returned similar amounts from Kidd during their respective campaigns due to questions raised over the source. The Electoral Commission is investigating whether ...
5:43 pm

Back from the US

Gravatar True to form I managed to get ill on the first day of the holiday, but all in all it was a good, if brief visit. I also saw a really great (American) football game - Bears vs. Broncos at Soldier’s Field, Chicago (on TV thankfully, it was far too cold to watch it in person). [...]
5:16 pm

Email me!

Gravatar Just to let fans (or otherwise) know that my email address is now displayed for your comments to be sent to me. Click in 'see full profile' then email. I would LOVE to receive many emails from you all - so go right ahead! ;@)
5:12 pm

Double whammy of bad news

Gravatar It's turning out to be a right old bad news day after all. first up comes the news that Alex McLeish is giving up the Scotland manager position in order to become Manager of Birmingham bloody city - something I was confidently predicting that he would not do last night. Second up is BNFL announcing that Hunterston in Ayrshire is one of their potential sites for next generation nuclear reactors. The site at Hunterston is 14 miles from my front door and has had nuclear power stations there for as long as I can remember. The fact that reactor A ...
5:02 pm

Will two other Labour General Secretaries be in trouble?

Gravatar One of the interesting angles to emerge today in the Labour donations story is that Peter Watt is in fact the third General Secretary to have been in post when donations were received via other people from David Abrahams. Janet Dunn, Janet Kidd and Ray Ruddick all gave £25,000 whilst David Triesman (now in the House [...]
4:59 pm

Love thy enemy

Gravatar At the height of the civil war within the Labour party that eventually led the creation of the SDP, Shirley Williams issued a warning to anyone complacent about the danger of the extreme left. ‘I was brought up as youngster to learn about fascism. My parents fought against fascism, and they were both on the Gestapo blacklist, so I know something about it. But there can be fascism of the left as well as fascism of the right.’ I was reminded of that quote by events at the Oxford Union yesterday. What we saw was fervent anti-fascists being overtaken by ...
4:58 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Ahmadinejad has sense of humour

Gravatar President Ahmadinejad of Iran has offered to be an independent observer at the next US Presidential election. Well, you can't knock his sense of irony. However, it appears that he needs to brush up on the US Constitution. He seems to be labouring under the misunderstanding that the "Bush administration" is up for re-election.
4:36 pm

Top of the Blogs: The Golden Dozen #40

Gravatar Welcome to the 40th of our weekly round-ups from the Lib Dem blogosphere, featuring the seven most popular stories according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (18th - 25th November), together with a hand-picked quintet you might otherwise have missed. And the question you’re all asking is, I imagine… which leadership posting has made it to the [...]
4:28 pm

LibDem poll rating plunges by 2 points

Gravatar ...due to Guardian cock-up. After LibDem Voice raised a concern about the Guardian/ICM poll of a few days ago flitting from 21% to 23% in one edition of the newspaper to the next, the Guardian today confirms in their Corrections and Clarifications column that it was 21% after all.
4:23 pm

Brown may be right, but isn't it hypocritical of the government to boycott Zimbabwe ?

Gravatar I agree with Gordon Brown not wanting to attend a meeting at which Robert Mugabe will be attending, but cannot help but feel Labour are being hypocritical in its dealings with Zimbabwe. I remember the England Cricket Team looking for guidance from the government a few years ago when they were committed to play matches in Zimbabwe, but didn't want to play them for fear of legitimising Robert Mugabe and because of the propaganda he would gain from being at the matches and shaking hands with the players. At the time the government failed to offer the English Cricket team ...
4:20 pm

Pink String and Sealing Wax

Gravatar I got an email from my Mom this morning, a concept I am still getting to grips with. In it she recalls how data was sent from Government departments when she was in the civil service. "Seriously, what idiots sent these discs off. When I worked in government departments important post was put in stiff manilla envelopes, then the proverbial 'pink string and sealing wax' was applied. Yes, literally, pink strong tape and the knot sealed with hot sealing wax. It was then taken by taxi by a member of staff across London and signed for at the other end. ...
3:45 pm

Winner to be announced

Gravatar Well, tonight’s the night. Later on this evening at a ceremony in London we will finally get to discover who has won! No, not the Lib Dem leadership contest. Not even the Strictly Come Dancing contest. I am of course talking about the annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award for the most awkward description of an intimate encounter. Now in its 14th year, the prize is awarded by Literary Review magazine and is given to the passage in a novel that is considered to be the most redundant in an otherwise excellent novel. Apparently it is hoped the award will ...
3:26 pm

Connect2 roadshow

Gravatar People in Eaglescliffe and the surrounding area can see more of what the bid is about at a roadshow - Tesco, Eaglescliffe on Monday Dec 3rd, form 3 till 7. It's repeated outside Yarm Town Hall from 11-2 on Wednesday 5th. Do go along and see the details. You can read a little more online. Whichever way you find out about it, do please vote. £600000 could come this way and it will be a big help
3:02 pm

Vote for a sustainable transport network

Gravatar Voting is now open online in “The People’s £50 million” competition for the Big Lottery at http://www.thepeoples50million.org.uk/. I am supporting Sustrans' ‘Connect2’ programme as it is the only bid that will directly benefit Wales as well as providing a strong environmental case. This project is an ambitious UK-wide project that will enable millions of people to make everyday journeys in a way that is good for their health and the environment. It will, if successful, transform local travel in 79 cities, towns and villages across the UK by creating new walking and cycling routes, bringing in a grant of up ...
3:01 pm

More coalition theories

Gravatar This morning's Western Mail reports on an article by BBC Welsh Affairs Editor, Vaughan Roderick for the Institute of Welsh Affairs’ Agenda journal. Vaughan argues there were two reasons behind Plaid’s decision to go into coalition with Labour rather than support the rainbow alternative. The first, he says, is that they regarded the Welsh Liberal Democrats as unreliable after our national executive failed to back the rainbow deal. The second reason he believes can be traced back more than 30 years: He writes, “The second reason for Plaid’s decision is to do with guts, or the lack of them. A ...
3:00 pm

Cracks in the coalition?

Gravatar Things must be a bit fraught on the fifth floor of Assembly House this morning after Labour AM, Alun Davies launched into Plaid Cymru in the Western Mail. Alun has written to the Electoral Commission to demand that some of this year’s National Assembly election results be investigated following a ruling that Plaid Cymru’s three MPs misused public money for campaigning purposes: Last week the Standards and Privileges Committee of the House of Commons issued a report saying Plaid MPs Elfyn Llwyd, Adam Price and Hywel Williams should not have used their communications allowances to take out newspaper advertisements during ...
2:49 pm

Clegg Inspired by Orange By Name Blog. Maybe.

Gravatar Wednesday 21st November: Lib Dem blog Orange By Name (linked to from Lib Dem Voice) begins its reporting of all things Czech.Monday 26th November: Lib Dem leadership contender refers to Czech hero Vaclav Havel on Lib Dem Voice. Coincidence? We think not. Another 'over-zealous researcher', perchance.
2:48 pm

The US President's Powers

Gravatar Extract from a memo written in 2002, regarding the US government's use of torture in interrogations: Yes, that's right America, you're not allowed to know what it is your President can and cannot do. Perfectly good reason I should imagine - if you found out you probably wouldn't vote for him. But still, thanks for playing. And that last part of the paragraph is utter bollocks. Under the Geneva
2:20 pm

Platform 2

Gravatar I've not changed my views from those expressed yesterday, but Jonny Wright's eyewitness account of the Oxford Union 'debate' has made me think. Which is a good thing.
2:02 pm

1 part in a googolplex

Gravatar Is there anyone surprised that while the rest of the media have stories like the BBC’s ‘No evidence’ of Diana pregnancy the Express (supposedly the World’s Greatest Newspaper) leads with Diana May Have Been Pregnant - in the same way, I assume, that she ‘may have been’ an alien disguised to look like a human being in a way we couldn’t detect. Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear Mohammed Fayed declare that this was irrefutable proof that she was ‘homeopathically pregnant’ - after all, how could you disprove that?
1:57 pm

An interview with the manager following the defeat to …

Gravatar Weston-super-Mare football club’s effervescent communications officer Alan Cooper has started a blog on the Weston & Somerset Mercury website. Commendably, it is updated a lot more regularly than this one – I just hope that every entry won’t begin with “an interview with the manager following the defeat to” … In fairness, the team are doing tremendously well this season, all things considered. If only we could get more than a couple of hundred people to turn up to the stadium. Without bigger crowds, and the extra income that generates, we cannot hope to build for the long term. More ...
1:43 pm

Strictly Come Voting

Gravatar Those of you who subscribe to Liberator magazine will have already seen it - but for the rest of you, Liberator’s question-and-answer session with the two leadership candidates, published in our November edition, is now available online. We asked both candidates the same six questions on the same terms, enabling you to compare and contrast their [...]
1:40 pm

Hug a Hoodie at the Oxford Union

Gravatar Jonny Wright has a long and remarkably sensible posting on last night's events. I reproduce his conclusions below, but do read the whole thing: Firstly, it's ridiculous to claim to be anti-fascist when you're blocking a public right of way, and stopping people from getting to a legal meeting, however much you disagree with that meeting. Secondly, the argument we heard time and time again about the threat from BNP activists being so great that it trumped the right to free debate. I didn't see any BNP people at all (although I'm willing to admit I wasn't in a position ...
1:33 pm

New Towns aren't what they used to be

Gravatar I went to the sort of public school where originality was approved of rather than frowned on. My Geography Teacher couldn't stand me, mainly because he was Housemaster of a rival House, one that I regularly beat in the school shooting championship. However, he did encourage me as a Deputy Grecian (Lower Sixth) to carry out a summer holiday project on New Towns. My chosen one was Warrington, and frankly I remained a fan of this type of planned settlement until recently. Until I moved to Cambridgeshire that is. We have between St Neots and Cambridge the first of what ...
1:30 pm

Prestwich LAP Tonight

Gravatar Tonight is Prestwich Local Area Partnership (LAP), where you have the chance to grill the great and the good of Prestwich! Your local Councillors from all three wards will be there, as well as representatives from the other public service partners in the area, such as the police, fire service, NHS and education. On the agenda tonight for the first part of the meeting are updates from the local youth manager, the community development and town centre development working groups, and the review of funding applications. The second part of the meeting is the open forum where members of the public ...
1:29 pm

National Lottery - Peoples Millions vote for natures Haven

Gravatar Our Community Park Farm is in the final tonight of the Peoples Millions in the West. If they win the phone poll they will be awarded £75,000+ to build a nature reserve, cafe and petting area for anima...
1:22 pm

David Abrahams and the Labour Party

Gravatar Three postings to read: Liberal Democrat Voice has a memo from the Electoral Commission to Peter Watt;Guido Fawkes looks at Abrahams' controversial development alongside the A1;Guido again (cometh the hour, cometh the man) on the funding of Harriet Harman's deputy leadership campaign.
1:10 pm


Gravatar As if getting your business park's planning permission wasn't a nice enough present, now the Labour party is going to give all the Abrahams money back! What a bargain. Labour to return donations - Telegraph: Gordon Brown has announced that more than £600,000 that the Labour Party accepted without disclosing its true origin will be returned.
1:00 pm

Day 2520: Soft Toy Founds Religion

Gravatar Tuesday: A Teddy Bear has been named "Muhammad". Apparently this is a CRIME! The kindly British schoolteacher who introduced the bear to her class has been arrested and charged with insulting Islam by making an image of their Prophet. This is INSANE. This could ONLY be true if the people who have arrested her are ASSERTING that their Prophet was (and I shudder to even suggest it) a CUDDLY BEAR. Because surely, surely it cannot be enough just to give the NAME Muhammad to a small, cute person… or they would have to arrest almost EVERY Muslim parent on Earth! ...
12:38 pm

Lunchtime thought

Gravatar Some times I’m particularly glad I don’t eat meat…
12:25 pm

Anonymous posting on this blog

Gravatar I have had to take the decisions to put comment moderation and to refuse anonymous posts on this blog. Any anonymous comments prior to 19th November will remain. Perhaps this is a result of the increased traffic that I've been getting and it certainly wasn't a decision that I took without some serious thought. Please remember: THIS BLOG DOES NOT ACCEPT ANONYMOUS POSTS
12:25 pm

The Voice of the London Underground

Gravatar According to the BBC, Emma Clarke, the voice of the London Underground (the one that tells us to mind the gap and suchlike) has been sacked. By pure coincidence, she's recorded a series of spoof announcements. The full page is offline at the moment, but you can listen to a sample on the BBC website. I think they might feature on tonight's Realpolitik podcast. Talking of London Underground,
12:15 pm

45 minutes left to vote

Gravatar Vote now!
11:20 am

Ballot sent back: Nick gets my vote

Gravatar This entire election campaign has seemed significantly more exciting than the last one, not least because the only scandal and intrigue has actually pushed us up in the polls. There is a genuine feeling that the party is on the march and that both candidates have been very able in setting out what it truly means to be a Liberal Democrat.  My choice, from the start, has never been in doubt. Nick Clegg has not just lived up to my expectations as a candidate, he has surpassed them. He represents, in my mind, a truly bright future for our party ...
11:19 am

Does Paul Flynn mean this?

Gravatar Paul Flynn is one of the Labour MPs I respect. However, about the Labour Party's donation scandal he says: David Abrahams wanted to give money while protecting his privacy. He did not want to hunted and hounded by the jackals of the national press. Labour party supporters are right to be furious that again we are being portrayed as the bad guys. Idiotic administrative failures of this kind do
11:03 am

Doing time for a Teddy Bear

Gravatar I often have ideas for blog posts, some are quick fixes that I can knock out in a few minutes - others stay in my drafts folder for weeks while I work on exactly how I want to phrase them. One such lengnthy piece is ‘Born Again Athiest’ and is an article about how I onced believed but now am just a miserable sinner - or something along those lines. Anyway, the reason for telling you this is an article I’ve just read on the Times website. It’s basically about a 54 year old Liverpudlian Primary School teacher who decided ...
11:01 am

The perils of blogging: it’s rather hard to delete what you wrote

Gravatar From the Sunday Herald: SCOTTISH LABOUR’S new spin-doctor made a series of damning criticisms of his colleagues weeks before he accepted the job as the party’s head of communications. Gavin Yates used his blog to describe Wendy Alexander as “abrasive”, labelled shadow health minister Andy Kerr as “simply uninspiring”, and blasted Jack McConnell for being a [...]
10:34 am

Government data loss fiasco casts serious doubt on id card scheme

Gravatar Following the recent revelations that both the UK and Scottish Government lost valuable personal data of UK citizens in the post, North East Fife Member of Parliament, Sir Menzies Campbell has repeated his call for the controversial national ID Card scheme to be scrapped. “This is an example of Government mismanagement and mal-administration both north and south of the border,” said Sir Menzies. “It is outrageous that such valuable personal information found its way on to two CD’s, but that it was simply stuck in the post and not recorded is astonishing. “Further to this, the Scottish Executive’s disclosure that ...
10:24 am

I vote for Nick Clegg

Gravatar Not long ago, Chris Huhne spoke to our local South Somerset Climate Action Group as well as Yeovil Liberal Democrats and I told him that I regretted not voting for him in the last leadership election. However, this is a new contest with a new candidate. Seeking selection as a Euro-candidate I attended two regional conferences addressed by both candidates. I have to disagree with Jonathan
9:33 am

The real economics of nuclear

Gravatar At long last, there is a study by an economist of the likely effects of the government's exhumation of the nuclear industry, and it is worth a read - especially by the nuclear enthusiasts who appear to be running some kind of campaign in the letters page of Liberal Democrat News. It's at: David Fleming is the economist behind tradeable energy quotas and what he writes about nuclear energy seems to me to clinch the argument against: 1. The remaining uranium ore in the world is now so depleted that the nuclear energy will itself run out of resources, ...
9:33 am

Opinion Polls - The Real Story

Gravatar We have now had two sets of newspaper opinion polls that have recorded falls in both the Labour and Tory votes but not recorded the figure for the Liberal Democrats, which we are expected to extract from a large and increasing number for 'Others'. I would have expected this from the News of The World but the Guardian ? The 'Story' has been pitched as a) Long term lows for Labour and b) A large gap between Tory and Labour. The real story should be that despite these two factors the Tories barely get a working majority on account of ...
9:03 am

Freedom of speech

Gravatar Once again the world reels as the Oxford Union debates ! None of the reports tells us what the motion was nor the result of the vote upon it. There is so much confusion here. Of course Griffin and Irving have the same right to speak as anyone else, but that does not oblige the Oxford Union, a private members' debating society to provide them with a platform. As President of the older
9:00 am

I think we should be told

Gravatar Has anyone noticed the amazing resemblance between Jeremy Hargreaves and Quentin Letts ? Who is really running the Liberal Democrat FPC ?
8:59 am

Well done Jonny!

Gravatar Jonny Wright has written a remarkably gripping and detailed eye-witness account of the Oxford Union debate last night. It is a must-read.
8:40 am

Lessons in incompetence III: A crushing lack of will to help those at risk

Gravatar “Rwanda was on nobody’s radar as a place of strategic interest. It had no natural resources and no geographical significance. It was already dependent on foreign aid just to sustain itself, and on international funding to avoid bankruptcy. Even if the mission were to succeed, as looked likely at the time, there would be no political gain for the contributing nations; the only real beneficiary internationally would be the UN. For most countries, serving the UN’s objectives has never seemed worth even the smallest of risks. Member nations do not want a large, reputable and strong United Nations, no matter ...
8:28 am

Annapolis - the long view

Gravatar Bush's Middle East conference is starting in Annapolis. So far Dubya has shown no inclination to learn from history but I suppose he has heard of the Annapolis Convention of September 1786, when 12 delegates from 5 states met "to remedy defects of the federal government" . Those delegates met for four days and decided that they could not achieve anything because four states had failed to send
8:23 am

Blog lag

Gravatar Apologies to Tristan, who posted a comment which I did not moderate and was therefore not published. My ISP failed to send me an e-mail notifying me of the comment, but I should have checked the blog anyway. I have been told many times that a serious blogger should blog regularly, even every day. Well, I make no claim to be a serious blogger. Some days I am not even disgruntled and some
8:15 am

Party funding

Gravatar The revelations in recent days about Labour party funding will add further fuel to the 'plague on all your houses' attitude in the media and among a growing section of the public about politics and politicians. The rules are quite clear. If you give significant sums of money this has to be reported - you can't 'launder it' through a series of third parties. The irony of all of this is that the legislation that means donations have to be declared was passed under a Labour government and is something I fully support. Before the 'Political Parties, Elections and Referendums ...
7:45 am

Opinion: Uninspired? Don’t blame Nick or Chris. It’s our fault

Gravatar I remain resolutely undecided, reliant on today’s London leadership hustings finally to make up my mind. But one thing I am sure about: I hope it’s the last time we as Lib Dems hold a leadership contest to such an abbreviated timetable. Now some of you might be thinking, “What?! It’s already been twice as long [...]
2:58 am

Revolutionary Liberalism: 5 - The "Sovereign Individual"

Gravatar As one form of government must be allowed more perfect than another, independent of the manners and humours of particular men; why may we not enquire what is the most perfect of all, though the common botched and inaccurate governments seem to serve the purposes of society, and though it be not so easy to establish a new system of government, as to build a vessel upon a new construction? The subject is surely the most worth curiosity of any the wit of man can possibly devise. And who knows, if this controversy were fixed by the universal consent of ...
2:46 am

Bloggers Never Sleep...

Gravatar 2:35 a.m.- and I've just heard Jonathan Calder speaking about blogs on Radio Five Live's "Up All Night"! Well Done Mr Calder!
1:45 am

BNP debate at the Oxford Union: an eyewitness account

Gravatar I've just returned from tonight's Free Speech Forum at the Oxford Union. It's been a strange night, and to some extent, a really unpleasant spectacle. I believe I've seen the very best and the very worst of political thought and activism on display tonight. I'll try to describe things as I saw them, rather than go on another big rant about free speech. The anti-fascist demonstration was scheduled for 7pm, so I arrived at the Union at quarter-to, hoping to get in safely before any trouble started. The Union consists of a main building (with the bar and the library), ...
1:29 am

Heathrow expansion or rail expansion?

Gravatar I am a great fan of rail travel, not the grotty suburban services I use daily but the various Inter City services I frequently use - at the moment I am making long distance train journeys once or twice a week. As I have said previously I have always been a Eurostar fan. We now have the government proposing unprecedented expansion of Heathrow, with pathetic consultation - and Ruth Kelly protests
1:19 am

Peter Watt - idiot or liar?

Gravatar So Peter Watt has resigned as Labour's General Secretary claiming that he didn't know that the laundering of donations is illegal. OK, let us for one minute believe he had not read any of the legislation or the guidance. Isn't it bleeding obvious that a law that is designed to make it public who is making a donation would stop the laundering of the donation to hide who the donor is? Wouldn't you
12:31 am

Making babies

Gravatar A while back, there was a scary lady on the news. She was the representative of something ominously called the Optimum Population Trust. Her hair rose a good six inches above her head, and she was almost certainly from Surrey. The Optimum Population Trust’s website is nicely done out in pink. The Trust appears to be a selfless consortium of [...]
12:28 am

Australian Election - the end of the Dems

Gravatar It has all been said. The great news is that Howard is gone, both as the Prime Minister and by certainly losing his own seat in Bennelong. As I have said before that the Democrats self destructed in front of my live on TV when I was in Australian and they ousted Natasha Stott Despoja as their leader. So really the inevitable has happened, with their total wipeout and the Australian Electoral
12:22 am

I'm changing my vote

Gravatar I was persuaded to join the Facebook group for one of the contenders by a fellow Lib Dem. I've now read Colin Ross's appraisal of the contenders. Colin gives a good presentation of each of the candidate's cases. But one thing has swung me. After reading Toyah Willcox's blog on her website I'm going to back the Black Country bid in The People's £50 million
12:16 am

Arsenal Ladies’ FC Freedom Celebrations

Gravatar A fantastic evening tonight at Islington Town Hall, as Arsenal Ladies FC received the Freedom of the Borough. This is a rare honour but could not be better-deserved. Arsenal Ladies have won a quadruple in the last season - the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Women’s League and the UEFA Women’s Cup - adding [...]
12:12 am

Catty observation of the day

Gravatar Hm, I see that one of my very scarce fellow female bloggers, Jo Anglezarke, is using her blog to tout for Lib Dem dates. Am I concerned that this will tend to undermine our future as serious, think-piece-oriented contenders in both the blogosphere and the party? Am I worried for Jo that she is letting too much personal information slip too quickly in the [...]
12:12 am

Saj Karim

Gravatar I was travelling to a meeting with Liberal Democrats in a city in the North West today when I heard of Saj Karim's defection. It is actually quite sad to see Saj defect, and I don't usually say that about defectors. The whole North West candidate selection has been a pretty fraught affair. But at the end of the day I hear it was premeditated enough for colour Conservative leaflets to be delivered
12:09 am

Richard Allan on Nicolas Blincoe

Gravatar I got this message from Richard Allan, Nick Clegg’s campaign manager, today: Dear James, A little earlier this afternoon, my attention was drawn to an article by Nicholas Blincoe on the CommentIsFree website. I have not met Nicholas before and he is not a part of the Nick Clegg Campaign Team. I understand that he has been one of a number of people to advise Nick on speeches previously, hence his self-description. The contents of the article are a personal viewpoint and in no way associated with this campaign. I have therefore contacted Nicholas to request that he makes this ...
12:07 am

A Night with the Sohemians

Gravatar Last evening, I left off writing about Bohemian London in the post-War years for a while, to join the Sohemians (sic) at their gathering in the first floor room at the Wheatsheaf Pub in Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia, to hear D.J. Taylor talk about his new book ‘Bright Young People’ (Chatto & Windus, £20) — all about [...]
12:01 am

Day 2519: The Lost Boy

Gravatar Monday: Oh very fluffy dear, we Liberal Democrats seem to have had a bit of a "lost boy" ourselves, with no coverage at all for one of our MEPs for the North West, Mr Sad Kareer, careeming off to join the Conservatories. I don't think that he will be very happy in a party that goes to such lengths to support one of their councillors' rights to BIG UP a white supremacist. And jumping from the Liberal ALDE group in the European Parliament to the FAR-RIGHT, homophobe-friendly alliance that Mr Balloon proposes will also be a bit of a wrench. ...

Previous days:

Monday 26th November 2007, Sunday 25th November 2007, Saturday 24th November 2007, Friday 23rd November 2007, Thursday 22nd November 2007, Wednesday 21st November 2007