Monday 3rd December 2007

11:26 pm

Exclusive(ish) - Vince Cable's Lib Dem Choice

Gravatar Having gatecrashed the Nick Clegg bloggers bash, I was feeling rather an interloper, but nevertheless I was delighted to join fellow bloggers to interview Vince this evening. It was an interesting experience, Vince has such an understated way of expressing himself. He has none of the exuberant passion of Nick Clegg (I can't comment on the interview with Chris Huhne since I wasn't there). However, he clearly thinks before he speaks, chooses his words carefully, articulates succinctly and creates an impression of a man who absolutely understands his brief. He said an awful lot that I found fascinating - particularly ...
10:58 pm

Cable unplugged

Gravatar It's an intriguing question. One bald sexagenarian with a background in Scotland gets thrown down the toilet by the media for being too old to lead a political party. Along comes another bald sexagenarian with a background in Scotland to lead the same party and he is feted as the best thing since sliced bread - profiles in the Mail on Sunday and a guest appearance on the Christmas edition of
10:55 pm

Don't forget - Chipping Sodbury Victorian Day this Friday!

Gravatar A traditional Victorian Day {Victorian Day details - Father Christmas arrives at 7pm} Starts 1 pm, streets closed 4.00 - 9.30 pm. Broad Street and High Street, Chipping Sodbury
10:42 pm

Doing Islam a Favour

Gravatar Via The Daily Irrelevant: Not insulted enough? Then shove this through your optical receivers, making its third appearance on this blog, because apparently this issue won't curl up and die:
10:39 pm

I wish I was out walking in the snow...

10:36 pm

One potato, two potato...

Gravatar I have in front of me a bag of new potatoes bought in a Leading Supermarket. It it is labelled: Charlotte Potatoes all shapes, all sizes Is this what they think of us? That we are like spoilt children who will makes a fuss if their potatoes are not exactly the same size and shape? This week I have been mostly reading Big Babies Or: Why Can't We Just Grow Up? by Michael Bywater.
10:32 pm

Strictly Come Dancing and the Lib Dem leadership

Gravatar I have just got back from Westminster after forming part of a panel of Lib Dem bloggers who interviewed Vince Cable earlier this evening. I shall be writing about Vince in Friday's Liberal Democrat News, and no doubt other bloggers will post there impressions before that. You will not be surprised to know that out conversation touched upon Vince's enthusiasm for ballroom dancing. There is an irony here. Last summer there was an ill-fated attempt to "put the zing into Ming" under the aegis of the PR guru and former Liberal candidate Gavin Grant. As I wrote on Guardian Unlimited ...
10:24 pm

The figures speak for themselves

Gravatar During my first twenty days (10th – 30th November) I received a total of 2217 visitors. Averaging at 110.85 visitors per day. In the last three days (1st – 3rd December) I have received a total of 564 visitors. Averaging at 188 visitors per day. So, what can be deduced from these figures?................... I was bored!
9:26 pm

Reinventing the State Chapter 14: Repoliticising Politics: The case for Intervention

Gravatar Of Paul Holmes' chapter I said that if you read "profit motive" for "markets" the arguments are quite good. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Tim Farron's effort. When the promising, fun diatribe against the sameness of Labour and the Conservatives and the shallowness of Cameron and Blair under the slogan "I can't believe it's not politics" reaches it's point, that point turns out to be
9:18 pm

What should MPs look like?

Gravatar Is it really just this? There has been a flurry of interesting posts on Lib Dem Blogs gender equality in blogging, in the Lib Dems and in general over the past few days; it feels like it has been a bit of a breakthrough for women bloggers, there’s been a definite surge of confidence. ‘Wimmins’ stuff isn’t massively popular on Lib Dem Blogs and so it was nice to see Alix’s posting on
9:13 pm

If the Richmond Formula showed a 12% lead in an election, you'd be over the moon

Gravatar For the uninitiated, the "Richmond Formula" is a formula used by the Lib Dems (and now copied by other parties) based on a system pioneered by Richmond Lib Dems in the 1980's which saw them take raw canvassing data from knocking on doors, and using the formula to extrapolate a potential result. At the time that Richmond lib Dems developed the formula, they worked out which seats were "in the bag" from applying the formula, and then went to help in more marginal areas. So what would Richmond Lib Dems have done with the 12% lead that Nick Clegg has ...
9:09 pm

That YouGov poll in full

Gravatar The full results of that YouGov / Sky News leadership poll are now available online here: these give the full breakdown of figures, together with the answers to questions which weren’t reported by the media at the weekend. A few observations from my reading of the data (which I am taking at face value while [...]
9:09 pm

EXCLUSIVE : Labour MP in shock announcement

Gravatar I have been informed exclusively tonight (and I am sorry to SKY News, the BBC, Iain Dale and ITV for jumping the gun in revealing this before the embargo) that one Labour MP is to make a shock announcement tomorrow which will send the political world in to a frenzy of excitement. The shock news is that in the wake of Peter Hain announcing that he received more campaign funds that were not properly registered, on top of the funds already offered to Hilary Benn, funds received by Harriett Harman and Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander also failing to notice ...
8:40 pm

Jack Straw's vast conspiracy

Gravatar Mr Straw also said " 99.9%" of people in the Labour Party had not been involved Maths quiz: how many party members are there, and how many are therefore implicated?
8:39 pm

Fiscal engineering

Gravatar Buying peerages or policies via donations to political parties is, in security terms, an "exploit". Unfortunately, it's not an easy one to fix, even aside from the fact that the people who would be attempting to fix the exploit are the same people who are benefitting from it, and thus have to reason to get the fix right - you wouldn't hire the guy who hacked your bank's software to write the fix to his own exploit (not without some serious review mechanisms). Jock outlines a neat solution in this post. The reason it works is because it purports to ...
7:53 pm

Nessfield Scheme rejected - again

Gravatar We understand that Government planning inspectors have again rejected the appeal by developers who want to build flats on the Nessfield site. Local residents have consistently opposed a large scale three-story development, because of it excessive scale and mass. Hundreds signed a petition to stop the scheme and successfully presented their case to the Council's Planning Committee. All three Lib Dem Councillors who have backed residents' protests are delighted by the inspector's decision. We congratulate Ted Parker and his team for their valiant efforts.
7:42 pm

Christmas shopping

Gravatar Celebrities are all over the TV advertising the different stores. I might just about believe Twiggy at M&S, but Victoria Beckham in Tesco? I don’t think so… Private Eye exposed the fact that the Morrisons ad showing Lulu and other celebs shopping in the snow was filmed in Tunbridge Wells – where the Morrisons store [...]
7:38 pm

So who will play Compo to our Clegg?

Gravatar Well, those in the know seem to think Clegg is going to win. So who will be his Compo? Of course, the classic is to make your defeated rival your Deputy. But I suspect Chris Huhne has probably seen too many episodes of the West Wing to want to be Cleggies Number 2. Step forward Vince Cable. He might as well stay as a Deputy. Make the most of it Vince, you are now doomed to years on the rubber-chicken circuit, proving that even economists have a sense of humour and tripping the light fantastic. You will be down on ...
7:34 pm

Nick Clegg for Leader - 14 days to go

Gravatar There are just 14 days to go before the new Leader of the Lib Dems will be announced.All three Ormesby & Nunthorpe Councillors are supporting Nick Clegg in his bid to become the Leader of the Lib Dems. So is Ian Swales, our parliamentary spokesman, and Chris Abbott, the Lib Dem's Group Leader on Redcar & Cleveland Council. Glyn Nightingale recently met Nick following Nick's speech to the North East Economic Forum. They discussed Nick's plans for the Lib Dems. He pointed that there are millions of people across the North East who share our liberal values, but do not ...
7:29 pm

Look at what Labour does, not what they say - Cash for local schools

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. Falling ...
7:19 pm

Hefker in Hackney

Gravatar Meral and I went over to Clapton yesterday to help Brian Stone and team campaign for the Springfield by-election, which is taking place on 20 December. Unlike Islington, this is an area with a strong Orthodox Jewish community. One of the estates we visited is run by an Orthodox housing association. It’s a real contrast [...]
7:09 pm

Even my mum was impressed...

Gravatar As a couple of bloggers have reported the two leadership contenders were in my neck of the woods on Saturday for a dinner in aid of Walthamstow Liberal Democrats. To the disgust of my father, I chose not to attend, but I have read and heard many reports on how well the evening went. Especially from the normal woman in the street, my mum. For once my mum was inspired by the Liberal Democrat
7:09 pm

A sad story

Gravatar A News of the World study places Middlesbrough as the "saddest place" in the country with the Borough of Redcar & Cleveland in third place.Our area receives a lot of negative publicity about the quality of life and the health of our citizens. The response to this is usually denial and threats to boycott the messengers as seen in today's Northern Echo story.You can't deny the fact that there are real health and sickness problems in our area; high levels of unemployment on many estates and poor housing.Redcar's Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesman, Ian Swales (pictured second left), said:"These results certainly ...
7:04 pm

Wendy, you ARE the weakest link, goodbye!

Gravatar According to the Daily Record, Wendy Alexander's campaign kept donation records listing a "name and address for Electoral Commission purposes". This could be evidence of a conspiracy to commit offences under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Acts. Not just an accidental, technical breach but a conscious decision by the campaign team to drive a coach and horses through the law. Of course, there might be a perfectly legitimate explanation. However I retract my comments below... And take Wendy Alexander. The £950 from a Jersey businessman was illegal. However, the amount is small and the infringement is technical. The law ...
6:52 pm

Peter Hain admits more donations went undeclared

Gravatar Fresh from the BBC: Cabinet minister Peter Hain has said more donations to his Labour deputy leadership campaign “were not registered as they should have been”. Looks like Guido was on to something…
6:32 pm

David Whitton MSP dragged into Labour donation scandal

Gravatar The number of senior Scottish Labour figures caught up in the Wendy Alexander illegal donation scandal continues to widen, with David Whitton MSP the latest name to feature. As the Daily Record reports: A SECRET list of Alexander’s donors has been leaked to a Sunday paper… The entry for First Group boss Moir Lockhead gives David - David [...]
6:22 pm

Successful Lib Dem leadership hustings at the Tower Arts Centre

Gravatar {Chris Huhne MP, Martin Tod and Nick Clegg MP at Winchester Leadership meeting} Despite the torrential rain and engineering works on the trains and the relatively short notice, it was standing room only at the Tower on Sunday when Nick and Chris came to Hampshire to ask for local members’ support. Nick and Chris were on top form – and everyone came out feeling really inspired. Whoever wins, it’s clear we will continue to lead the way on the environment, civil liberties and internationalism, but they also put forward thought-provoking and constructive views on issues like affordable housing and education. ...
6:11 pm

Latest Planning Applications

Gravatar Ward: Combe Down App Ref: 07/03244/OUT Parish: N/A Registered: 21st November 2007 Expiry Date: 16th January 2008 Location: Homefield Fox Hill Combe Down Bath BA2 5QN Grid Ref: (E)375289 - (N)162506 LB Grade: N/A Proposal: Erection of a pair of semi-detached houses following demolition of existing bungalow Officer: Rachel Le Huray Applicant: Mr & Mrs R Sherwood Agent: Hurst Associates Little House Lyncombe Vale Road Bath BA2 4LP 22 Newbridge Road Bath BA1 3JZ Ward: Combe Down App Ref: 07/03461/FUL Parish: N/A Registered: 27th November 2007 Expiry Date: 22nd January 2008 Location: 102 Queen's Drive Combe Down Bath BA2 5PE ...
6:00 pm

Star Struck?

Gravatar Just read this story about councillors in Rotherham, West Yorkshire delaying an important council meeting just so they can have lunch with a famous Country & Western star. Alot of fuss about nothing?
5:55 pm

Local refs go on strike

Gravatar Referees in one of my local football leagues - the Warley & District Sunday League - went on strike last weekend, in protest at aggressive players.I say, good on them. I’ve watched many Sunday League games from different parts of the country and the abuse these refs get can be astonishing. They’re paid about twenty quid, enough to cover their costs of getting to the venue and washing their kit, so it’s clear these refs are doing it for the fun. Take away the fun and what happens - no refs = no football. In my mind this needs to ...
5:47 pm

"You won't get anything done in Unison if you wait for positive feedback"

Gravatar You know the feeling. It's getting dark outside. Everyone has left the office. The computer begins to slow down as if to say "What the f**k are you still doing here don't you have a life? I don't f**king work after it?". You click into the newsletter you've spent the last god-knows-how-many-weeks painstakingly zooming in and zooming out of, deciding which images you want to use, checking out permission issues over photos with children in them, checking that your name is on it HEAVEN FORBID should someone not see it and pressing print preview just in case you've missed ...
5:29 pm

Nick Clegg Update

Gravatar NEWS: Clegg more effective at opposing Brown and Cameron say Lib Dem Members. Follow the link for full story.
5:24 pm

Alexandra Palace: Labour loses even more money

Gravatar {Alexandra Palace} Haringey Lib Dem council group leader Neil Williams tells me that he is increasingly worried about council tax payers being taken to the cleaners by the current goings on at Alexandra Palace. As ever with Ally Pally, it's a complicated story – and one to which neither Haringey Council, nor the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (also, alas, a Labour councillor) will give full and frank answers, but it goes like this. When the Trust (and for this we must sadly read Haringey Labour in practice) thought they had a 'done deal' with their chosen developer (Firoz ...
4:58 pm

Leprechaun in Mobile, Alabama

Gravatar When will the leprechaun's tyranny end, and what precautions are the Labour government taking here? We deserve to know.
4:47 pm

Putin makes his move

Gravatar I still expect Vladimir Putin's exit to be vertical and not horizontal. The election has been stolen, as expected, but the battle lines amongst the Siloviki are already being drawn up, and even if he *is* able to transfer some powers and then become PM, it is inevitable that his position will be lessened. The strains within the regime will become more obvious, so I suspect today will be seen as something of a high water mark for Putinism. Sooner or later a law based system needs to emerge, and with oil down $10 this week, it may not even ...
4:36 pm

Collective punishment

Gravatar The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that the Israeli government can proceed with cutting the fuel supply to the Gaza Strip. Will there be condemnation from the UK government? Probably not. Will it even make tomorrow's newspapers? Probably not. So, why is there national condemnation in this country over the jailing of 'one' British woman, yet almost nothing when a collective punishment is imposed on thousands? Quite simply, as a nation I don't think we care! Why are'nt we as Liberal democrats, just as we did over Iraq, standing up and saying, enough is enough - stop these fuel cuts ...
4:30 pm

Monday's Music Madness

Gravatar This is Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Gold Lion. Enjoy.
4:28 pm

Tower is being cut to pay for head office bureaucrats not adult social care

Gravatar We have only a few days left to save the Tower as an arts centre with a full professional art programme. If Ken Thornber agrees the paper sent to him last week, that spells the end of the Tower as an arts centre. The Council’s own consultant’s report made clear that the Tower is efficiently run and that staffing could not be reduced and the Tower remain as an arts centre. But the staffing and budget are being slashed. This is another half-baked and rushed plan. The proposal in the plan to use this dramatically reduced spending for an evening ...
4:25 pm

FFS It's Monday: Rendition, the UK and the USA

Gravatar The USA has been up to their old tricks again, this time claiming that they have the right to invade the UK and forcibly remove someone from our territory. Via Iain Dale comes this Sunday Times story: "[The United States of] America has told Britain that it can “kidnap” British citizens if they are wanted for crimes in the United States. A senior lawyer for the American government has told the
4:19 pm

Continuing trials…

Gravatar So today was my first in the new job, and unsurprisingly my entire world didn’t collapse around my ears in a fit of disaster. It was only induction though, so I still haven’t met any of my colleagues or seen where I’ll be based. In fact, it was only day one of three induction days, which seems a little keen but which has so far proved interesting and worthwhile. And a comforting reminder that this organisation is no different to my last in terms of its ability to produce unreadable powerpoint slides. This evening I am going to visit a constituent ...
3:34 pm

I've voted......

Gravatar for Chris Huhne. It was a really hard decision.. and I seem to be in the minority among colleagues in Liverpool. My past record has shown me supporting losing candidates (well the same one) twice in a row in these contests... hopefully that won't jinx Chris' campaign!
3:33 pm

Christmas Week Update!

Gravatar There was good coverage and a couple of nice photos of last Saturday's West End Christmas Week launch in the Courier today (as the picture right alludes to!) Here's a reminder of all the activity taking place this Thursday evening - do come along - it will be a great night! Thursday 6th December at 6.15pm West End Christmas Concert, Christmas Lights Switch On and spectacular fireworks extravaganza! This year's West End Christmas Concert takes place at Dundee West Church at 6.15pm. All local residents are very welcome to attend. There will be musical contributions from all local primary and ...
3:30 pm

We wuz robbed!

Gravatar Last week Edge Hill University was pipped to the post in the THES University of the Year Awards Competition. A bit disappointing for those of us who teach here, but when you think about it, it was an amazing achievement to get shortlisted. Edge Hill has only had University Status for a really short period of time. Maybe next year!
3:20 pm

Teddy Bear teacher freed- Muslim Parliamentarians play a key role

Gravatar Its good news that Gillian Gibbons has been pardoned and freed by the Sudanese Government, after being jailed for insulting the Prophet Mohammad. We've seen the usual knee jerk reactions from Islamophobes, who have seized on this to attack a faith and culture they do not understand. My initial reaction was that the whole episode was blown completely out of all proportion, and that Gibbons clearly had no malicious or blasphemous intentions, but add this to an anti-West Islamic fundamentalist Sudanese government seizing on the opportunity to take an anti-West stand and flex its muscles, and its become a big ...
3:18 pm

Conrad Black: why Waterstone's should be ashamed

Gravatar Waterstone's seem to have got away with it in terms of the publicity for the event - but I think they should be deeply ashamed for the way they are helping a convicted criminal (and themselves) to make money, and dressing it all up in the language of "oooh, look at our clever new toy". What am I on about? Well - last week disgraced and convicted Conservative peer Lord Black did a books signing at Waterstone's in Piccadilly. Only - he wasn't there because - following his conviction overseas - he's not allowed to travel to the UK. Instead, ...
3:05 pm

Welcome to Ed Fordham's blog

Gravatar A little belatedly - it's good to see that my Lib Dem colleague over in Camden/Brent, Ed Fordham (prospective candidate for the new Hampstead & Kilburn seat, which takes in a good part of Sarah Teather's current constituency) has started blogging. Ed's not quite perfect - we are on opposite sides in the Lib Dem leadership contest! - but it's good to see another addition to the blogosphere. Best of luck with the blog Ed!
3:00 pm

Referendum Changes

Gravatar According to the No Swiss DMCA site and a comment by one of the This Week in Tech panel on Sundays show - if you collect signatures from a certain percentage of the Swiss population over a new law - a referendum is automatically triggered. That should be the case in the UK as well. If there is a law that is clearly objectionable to a large percentage of the population and ID Cards come to mind here - and enough signatures can be collected - say from 5% of the people on the electoral role - then there should ...
2:50 pm on "The Contest for Luton"

Gravatar Last Friday posted an analysis of the battle for the two Luton Westminster constituencies, you can read it here. Overall it is a very balanced and accurate assessment. However, I do think it underplays the strength of the Liberal Democrats in Luton. But then you probably think I am obliged to say that! Where I would take issue with the article is the way it solely
2:44 pm

Good news from Venezuela

Gravatar Dictator wannabe and darling of the anti-liberal left, Hugo Chavez, has been defeated in a referendum which would have granted him even more power. I’m not sure whether to be surprised about this. The reports from Venezuela hint at growing unease with his rule, the Students are almost entirely united against him for instance. On the [...]
2:25 pm

The Libertarian Party

Gravatar It seems that some disaffected libertarians are trying to start a Libertarian Party. Its interesting that this is being started, especially given the Libertarian Alliance’s position of not starting a political party, a position which was also the position of the winning Chris R. Tame Memorial Prize essay. One of the main reasons for this rejection is [...]
2:23 pm

Opinion: Winning the next election - making poverty history

Gravatar Winning power for the Liberal Democrats to form the next Government will depend on three main policy platforms. First, ‘Making Poverty History’for the individuals and families in this country. Second, an effective NHS that delivers healthcare where it is needed and when it is needed; not a gravy train for employing administrators. And third, to [...]
1:49 pm

Dodgy donations...

Gravatar The furore over the dodgy donations continues with it appear more people may have know what was going on with these donations amongst the Labour leadership. It was not so long ago I and others were talking about the Midlands Industrial Council and how money was being channelled to the Conservative Party without it being clear who it was from.
1:36 pm

Ban politics!

Gravatar Gordon Brown seems to think that pronouncing that he is going to toughen up legislation will win respect. Call me naive, but wouldn't it just be easier to tell the Labour party that they can't run around breaking the law? Or we could go for a thumping fist way forward, if it is a problem BAN IT. So I fully expect a government white paper on banning politics.
1:35 pm

Cum On Feel The Noise

Gravatar   The train pulls into the station and someone gets on and in a voice a town crier would have difficulty matching for volume, the person communicates to another new passenger at the other end of ...
12:57 pm

Energy saving - at what cost?

Gravatar An office of my acquaintance had a bit of a problem this morning. Nobody could log in to their computers. The cause, it turned out was some idiot who taken with great zeal to save the planet switched everything off, including many things which they didn’t know what they were. This included the server rack. So, for [...]
12:52 pm

The wrong type of fascists on the line

Gravatar According to the latest edition of the Exeter University newspaper, Exeposé, the rabble have voted to ban a bunch of fascists (well, near enough), the BNP, from campus. In entirely unrelated news, the same people at the same meeting voted to twin the Guild of Students with the Student Council of Hebron University, a body containing a number of members of the fascist (well, near enough) Hamas organisation. During the Hebron Student Council elections two years ago Hamas candidates fought with Fatah candidates using stones and clubs. In the end, Islamic Jihad stepped in to restore calm.
12:29 pm

Leadership Hustings at Walthamstow Annual Dinner- and a diverse audience

Gravatar On Saturday I went along to the Walthamstow Annual Dinner, and hustings held at the Royal Forest Hotel in Chingford, on the fringes of Epping Forest. With around a hundred members present, and while having my first Xmas dinner of the season, I was present at the second Huhne/ Clegg hustings in a week, chaired by the excellent Lord Avebury. Hosted by the excellent Walthamstow PPC Farid Ahmed, who at the last general election halved the Labour Party's vote, and is well placed to win next time around. I like many other members who have commented, think both candidates are ...
12:28 pm

20,178,392 reasons why Labour has been desperate to get its hands on cash

Gravatar The Daily Mail outlines the extent of the Labour party's current debt, including a handy "cut out and keep" panel showing who they owe money to.
12:17 pm

YouTube hustings: Your first bill as Prime Minister

Gravatar Chris Huhne and Nick Clegg have submitted their answers to five video questions posted on YouTube and selected by Acting Returning Officer Chris Rennard. Today’s answers are on the first bill the candidates would introduce as Prime Minster.
12:17 pm

Good news!!!!

Gravatar This from the BBC.... UK teacher Gillian Gibbons has been handed over to British officials after being jailed for allowing her class to name a teddy bear Muhammad. Mrs Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, was jailed for 15 days on 29 November. Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir pardoned her after a meeting with two British Muslim peers. In a statement, Mrs Gibbons said: "I am sorry if I caused any distress." UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was "delighted and relieved" at the news. Mrs Gibbons is expected to be released into the care of the British embassy in Khartoum later ...
12:14 pm

Have I accepted an illegal donation?

Gravatar Well, when she brought that raffle ticket from our Market Square stall, she seemed to have problems identifying the right coin. And when she queried the price of 20p she definitely had a Polish accent. I should have thought of it before. I would surrender myself to the Police, but the St Neots Police Station only seems to open when a full moon coincides with high tide -difficult to work out when you are 50 miles inland. Listening to the Politics Show (too busy designing a Focus to watch) it would seem that the whole of the Scottish Labour Party ...
12:02 pm

Anton Rodgers

11:59 am

Forget funding farragos: why people have no faith in politicians

Gravatar Here’s a controversial view on this issue which obsesses any politician on TV or the radio. People are apparently alienated by politicians because they don’t trust them/think they lie/think they’re all the same. Pick one or all, add more of your own, it doesn’t really matter, the discussion is the same. I would suggest that there is a simpler issue at play here, which is the way politicians deal with each other. The current ‘scandal’ over funding for Labour is a classic case in point. It is absolutely clear that the Labour Party is up to its ears in the ...
11:28 am

The Crown bar - symbol of Belfast's survival and recovery

Gravatar The Crown bar (or "Crown Liquor Saloon" to give it its proper title) in Belfast is an extraordinary place. I have been privileged to take up residence in one of its snug booths for an evening with a Irish friend, happily nudging up the share price of Bushmills' distillery. The Independent has a feature today, written by David McKittrick, on this remarkable pub, known for its neutrality during
11:23 am

Better School Food Improves Behaviour

Gravatar I’m delighted to see that the School Food Trust has released the findings from the first ever School Lunch and Behaviour Study, which confirms the anecdotal impressions that teachers have been reporting for many years - when children eat better at lunchtime they are more attentive in afternoon classes. In this study children who were in the intervention schools were 3.5 times more likely to be on task and engaged with the teacher with learning activities in the hour after lunch compared with children in the control schools. The findings are based on over 27,000 systematic observations of 136 pupils ...
10:58 am

Johann Hari asks: Are the police institutionally homophobic?

Gravatar This article in the Independent this morning, by Johann Hari, is worth reading. It really is outrageous that we are still needing to have this sort of debate in Britain. One particular passage caught my attention: April night, Michael Boothe – a 48-year-old gay actor – went looking for sex in a public toilet near his home in west London. A few people there might have recognised him from
10:56 am

Are we the "saddest" area in the country?

Gravatar A News of the World study places Middlesbrough as the "saddest place" in the country with the Borough of Redcar & Cleveland in third place. Our area receives a lot of negative publicity about the quality of life and the health of our citizens. The response to this is usually denial and threats to boycott the messengers as seen in today's Northern Echo story. You can't deny the fact that there are real health and sickness problems in our area; high levels of unemployment on many estates and poor housing. Redcar's Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesman, Ian Swales (pictured second left), ...
10:50 am

Clegg-Huhne: the ancient Rome connection

Gravatar The result of the leadership ballot is due on 17 December. Since that date was announced I have had a feeling that it coincided with something else but couldn’t remember what.  For a while I thought it might be someone’s birthday I had forgetten. Then it came to me yesterday.  17 December is the ancient Roman festival of the [...]
10:41 am

University of Westminster online hustings transcribed

Gravatar A transcript of the online hustings recorded at the University of Westminster is now available to read, thanks to the hard work of volunteer Alix Mortimer. You can download a PDF here.
10:19 am

Jogging again

Gravatar A great run on Saturday and not just because the road to Malpas is so beautiful, but because it only took 37 minutes, another PB! (that's shorthand for personal best, a thing we runners say). And the satisfaction of standing around at the end waiting for my mates, who only 6 months ago were very much faster than me. Now they mutter about injuries, feeling a bit sick, etc. I try to look sympathetic. Not smug at all. But can it last?. Will Hutton writes in this weeks Observer that most people who loose weight put it all back on ...
10:16 am

Family Law Developments

Gravatar The Ministry of Justice have announced that the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act will come into force in Autumn 2008. Resolution have called the new Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission (fashionably styled "C-MEC") an "accident waiting to happen". Family Law Week have started a new Family Law Blog.
10:13 am

Great reasons for voting for Chris

Gravatar Rob Fenwick, aka A posh sounding Northumbrian, has written an excellent blog posting, outlining his reasons for backing Chris Huhne. It’s well worth a read: Chris is ready to be leader now. Every time I see Chris he has something new to say, while still reinforcing his core message. He launched his leadership campaign by effectively answering the question ‘what is the Lib Dem narrative?’ - a fairer society and a greener society where we put people in charge. Nick has gone down the Menzies Campbell route of having a Smörgåsbord of soundbites from which to pick and choose an answer ...
10:10 am

New poll: where on the political spectrum would you like the Lib Dems to be?

Gravatar This was one of the questions asked by YouGov in the party members’ poll commissioned by Sky News. I suspect I wasn’t alone in finding it hard to answer, as none of the eight choices on offer included the word ‘liberal’, a striking omission when surveying members of the Liberal Democrats. Instead, answers ranged from [...]
10:01 am

Poll results: Kennedy and Goldsworthy your top choices

Gravatar The final results have been tallied in our old poll asking, ‘Of those MPs who’ve ruled themselves out of standing for the party leadership, who would you have voted for given the chance?’ Over 800 LDV readers answered, and in the end Charles Kennedy just nosed in front, edging out Julia Goldsworthy by five votes. [...]
9:50 am

Britblog Roundup

Gravatar Thanks to Philobiblon for linking to this post on counter-terrorism in this week's Britblog Roundup.
9:37 am

Trees - our London lifeblood

Gravatar When I moved back to London I was really struck by the variation in certain areas which had massive amounts of trees and some that just had too few. It seems to me like a bit of a no-brainer really - you just can't have too many trees. Trees provide us with the oxygen we need to live and sustain life. They clean the air and offer us shade and protection. They provide shelter to an enormous array of wildlife. And most convincing for me - they were here before we were. So I was more than delighted to see ...
9:00 am

Climate Change Bill doesn't go far enough

Gravatar The environment secretary Hilary Benn has published the government's Climate Change Bill, introducing legally binding targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions for the first time. The Bill sets a target of reducing emissions by at least 60 per cent by 2050 and a mid-term target of between 26 and 32 per cent by 2020 with five-year "carbon budgets" from next year. The budgets are set 15 years in the future and are intended to help direct businesses and policy-makers towards a low-carbon economy.
8:11 am

Looking for cash

Gravatar The first ever Finance Committee report on a Welsh Government draft budget has been published and it makes for interesting reading. In my view it underlines the case for such a committee to have been incorporated into the Assembly when it was first set up in 1999. The Western Mail tells us that the Committee expresses serious concerns that modest rises in spending over the next three years will leave the NHS struggling with the rising cost of drugs, and local councils having to make cutbacks – or push council tax up even further – in order to make ends ...
7:48 am

More missing data

Gravatar As the Western Mail reports this morning that yet more government data has gone missing, the Times gives us an insight into the dangers we face if this information gets into the wrong hands. The Department for Work and Pensions has launched an urgent investigation into how discs containing the unencrypted details of thousands of benefit claimants were missing for a year. Two discs were apparently found at the home of a former contractor to the DWP who had forgotten to return them. The Western Mail tells us that these discs contain data on what kind of benefits the individuals ...
7:44 am

Making My Mind Up -

Gravatar I have a consistent record of supporting unsuccessful candidates in national elections - whether for parliament or for party leadership. I wanted Ted Heath to be Prime Minister twice in 1974, and then switched my allegiance to the yellow rosette for all elections thereafter. I've also managed to support a losing candidate in every Lib Dem leadership election - Beith, Ballard (I used her bathroom
12:46 am

I'm sorry, but if you take a risk you should learn that you might get hurt

Gravatar This may be controversial, but I do not have a lot of sympathy for Gillian Gibbons, the British teacher detained in Sudan. I know that she is in prison for a misunderstanding and I know she meant no offence to Islam, but she has been very stupid. The stupidity was not just in the naming of the bear. Having taught R.E. to year five children, I am aware that there should be no images of the prophet Mohammad. Yes, she may have named the bear after a boy, but I would have known not to do it just from my ...
12:07 am

Tory PPC selection process

Gravatar The closing date for applicants to be Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Darlington was last Friday. They have been very slow in choosing someone, though I understand part of the delay was caused by the fact that when the position was advertised earlier in the year, there were no suitable applicants! But now they've got Nigel Boddy as a member, they won't have that problem
12:02 am

Birmingham, Hodge Hill Liberal Democrats and Ethnic Minorities Liberal Democrats Leadership Election Hustings

Gravatar Just a reminder to colleagues and friends that this coming Wednesday (5th December) the Birmingham, Hodge Hill Liberal Democrats and the Ethnic Minorities Liberal Democrats will be hosting Leadership Election Hustings from 6.00pm at the Park View Business & Enterprise School on Naseby Road in Birmingham (B8 3HG).

Previous days:

Sunday 2nd December 2007, Saturday 1st December 2007, Friday 30th November 2007, Thursday 29th November 2007, Wednesday 28th November 2007, Tuesday 27th November 2007