Wednesday 5th December 2007

11:33 pm

Yay! Thank-you Environment Agency!

Gravatar The Environment Agency have revoked the Veolia’s PPC for the proposed incinerator at Newhaven! They cite ‘unknown’ carbon emissions as the reason, which will mean it will be reinvestigated, and it is quite possible the PPC will not be reissued! Good news!!
11:29 pm

Hello? I'm in the library...

Gravatar and (f) Teddy Bears named Mohammed... "Jeremy Browne (Taunton, Liberal Democrat) | Hansard source To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what percentage of HM Revenue and Customs investigations into the smuggling of (a) drugs, (b) people, (c) tobacco, (d) alcohol and (e) firearms resulted in a conviction in each of the last 10 years. Jane Kennedy (Financial Secretary, HM Treasury) | Hansard source holding answer 28 November 2007 High level data on investigations and convictions are published in HM Revenue and Customs' Annual Reports. Copies of the Annual Reports are available in the Library of the ...
11:11 pm

Back. But not for long.

Gravatar Just hasn't been a spare moment to stick anything on my blog in the last week and a half. The night after my last post was Full Council, where the woeful mess that Labour have got us into over Alexandra Palace was high on the agenda again. On a happier Alexandra Palace note, I went to my first gig there last week, to see Interpol, who were really good. Have been busy with lots of things since I last blogged - watching Spurs come back from 0-2 down to win 3-2, setting up qualification for the UEFA Cup knockout stages ...
10:58 pm

That Boots advert with all the girls...

10:44 pm

How Kingston Hospital hopes to survive in a competitive health market

Gravatar The meeting at the Hook Centre this evening about the future of Kingston Hospital was quite an eye-opener. The Director of Nursing presented us with two main proposals - one is to apply for Foundation Hospital status, and the other is to contract out elective (that is, non-emergency) surgery to a private provider. The interesting part of this was not the solutions that they proposed,...
10:30 pm

Kosovo and the Russians

Gravatar Sadly it seems that the West has now "lost" Russia. Putin's shameful sham election strongly points to a slide to new authoritarianism and the trend over the past few years of his Presidency suggest that he will establish a strong "new authoritarian" block with the Chinese out East. Russia has also been stridently opposed to the Ahtisaari proposed settlement in Kosovo which would lead to a "supervised independence" under the UN. Frankly it has undermined any possibility of a shared future for Kosovar Albanians and Serbs in the province through it's strident support of the unsustainable Serbian position which would ...
10:26 pm

When will people learn that Coca Cola did not invent the red suited Santa Claus or Father Christmas ?

Gravatar I heard, yet again, on a local radio station today another idiot presenter perpetuate the myth that Coca Cola invented the red suited Santa Claus (or Father Christmas as we ought to refer to him as in the UK). As usual, the fool on the radio told us this information as if it was some sort of hidden fact that he had carefully dug up, announcing it in a "Did you know that ... " way, thus making people who don;t know think he is some sort of genius. The truth of the matter is somewhat different, with the true ...
10:19 pm

The Bugle Podcast

Gravatar With the writer's strike in the USA now entering its umpteenth week, John Oliver presumably doesn't have much to do as The Daily Show enjoys an unexpected hiatus, so he's taken to producing The Bugle podcast with Andy Zaltzman for the Times Online. It's dedicated to bringing you the latest world news ... and some of it might even be true. Well worth a weekly listen (dammit, I couldn't think of a
10:08 pm

Conflicting numbers

Gravatar Both Chris and Nick’s campaigns are claiming to have the momentum tonight, as we enter the final stages of the campaign. Two observations: Nick’s figures are based on a sample of 200 members, apparently by the campaign team itself. In Nick’s figures there are more undecideds/won’t says than there are backers for either candidate Chris’s figures are based on a sample of 1000 members, conducted by an independent third party organisation Draw your own conclusions! (My personal conclusion is that I still don’t do polls, and polls are bonkers, but anecdotal evidence suggests there’s all to play for)
9:58 pm

Thoughts on Guantanamo? - tear up a phone directory

Gravatar It's always difficult to know where to start when discussing Guantanamo. My instinct is to grab a couple of phone directories and to tear them apart with frustration and/or to resort to Anglo-Saxon verbiage aimed at George W Bush. Forming one's thoughts into any sense of structure is difficult. My sense of outrage is so visceral that my reaction is best summed up by a loud guttural roar.
9:34 pm

Clegg v Huhne on Fatherhood

Gravatar I've just watched this excerpt from the YouTube hustings. By (reasonable) Decree of Borrowman, I am quite upfront about being a Cleggie and this exchange is one of the reasons why. They both said pretty much the same thing - flexible working, supporting families, whatever shape they come in is a good thing, etc. However, Nick did it in 20 seconds, Chris took 1:42. Nick looked straight at the camera and was positive and clear, Chris was a bit wandered - and I now get to have a go at his tie, in the interests of equality, as I had ...
9:15 pm

Christmas Lights Switch On

Gravatar Yesterday afternoon we switched on the Headingley Christmas* Lights. Such is the humdrum of life as a Local Councillor that I was pleased to have gotten rid of the tacky old snowmen we were palmed off with last year. I know that's really quite sad but some times its the petty victories that sustain you in the dark times. Even in the Season of Good Will. As its my last year I tied to put on a decent show. As ever Student Volunteers from Leeds Metropolitan University did us proud and put on a great party for local older folk ...
9:04 pm

Lee Jasper: Is he the director for equalities for Labour members?

Gravatar Thanks Mark Pack. Mr Paddick, it’s time to crack on!
8:57 pm

Hamlet Act 1, scene 4, 87- 91

Gravatar Ok I give in, what are Team Huhne hiding? There's something distinctly fishy about this latest poll. Come on Team Huhne, time to come clean, why all the cloak and dagger stuff? Why use a market research company rather than one of the more conventional pollsters? And, why don't you want to name the market research firm publicly? It all seems very strange to me. "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”Hamlet Act 1, scene 4, 87- 91
8:31 pm

European Selections: a little consolation is to be had

Gravatar Readers may recall that it was my intention to submit an amendment to the European Selection Rules addressing the problems caused by the 'no endorsement' rule. And indeed, I did just that and, on Saturday, my chance came, or so I thought. I had been led to believe in a conversation prior to our meeting that a full review of the European Selection Rules would be proposed and lo, this came to pass
8:30 pm

Facebook - just another reason why the Internet sucks sometimes...

Gravatar I just thought that you ought to know that I think that...
8:28 pm

Conservative party at prayer?

Gravatar It's always alarming to find oneself agreeing with a Tory MP but Mark Pritchard’s call for Christianity’s role in our culture to be recognised is apt – and, apparently, not being phrased in the usual loony Tory way. Whether you like it or not, Christianity has played a major part in shaping what this country is and who its citizens are, including those from other religions and cultures. There is a current argument that it was the Protestant work ethic which lay at the heart of the rise of Britain to prominence in the 19th century. The influence of Christianity ...
8:27 pm

Post Flooding Report - Phase 2 Complete

Gravatar   The plaster has finally been removed along with most of the kitchen.  You may think this is strange but the inability of the loss adjuster to do even the most simple task such as respond to an email or a letter had to be seen to be believed.   We ended up in the bizarre situation where [...]
7:59 pm

TV Film of the Week: The Charge of the Light Brigade

Gravatar I was thrilled to be offered the role of Captain Nolan. Everything about the film gave it the air of a British classic - the subject matter, though viewed from a deeply unglorious perspective; the principal cast: John Gielgud, Trevor Howard, Harry Andrews and Jill Bennett - a roll-call of dramatic excellence; and, above all, the script.My part as the renegade young captain was one that I loved and soon learned backwards. The screenplay was beautifully, sparely written by Charles Wood, and I read it with glee. It contained, in my view, some of the finest lines in cinema, dialogue ...
7:54 pm

Ludlow: The search for a town clerk

Gravatar The Shropshire Star reports: The cost of appointing a town clerk in Ludlow has soared to about £50,000, it was revealed today. It has been claimed potential applicants are being put off by the town council’s poor reputation.What can they mean?
7:44 pm

Clegg vs Huhne: It's a two-horse race

Gravatar This makes things more interesting. The people at Chris Huhne's campaign website claim a late surge of support for their man: The figures show that the number of undecided voters has fallen dramatically over the past ten days (from 38.4% to 17.5%) and that these members have plumped overwhelmingly for the Eastleigh MP.What should we make of this? Mike Smithson from writes: I have quizzed Huhne’s campaign manager about how this was carried out. The “pollster” was not one of the conventional firms but a market research company which for various reasons they do not want to name publicly ...
7:25 pm

Proud dad!

Gravatar This evening came the phone call I'd been waiting for. My son Will has successfully passed the 32 week Royal Marine Commando training course and been awarded his green beret. Today was the final test: a 30 mile yomp across Dartmoor in full uniform with backpack and gun - to be completed in 8 hours. Will, as they say, failed to trouble the scorers during his five years at Carmel. After working
7:23 pm

Is Gordon Brown thick?

Gravatar With all that’s been going on it’s sometimes the little things that show you that there will be more trouble ahead for him. It was on here i mentioned Martin Bell being very guarded intimating he knew more than he was letting on. It was on QT that a Tory said `who will they return the money too - [...]
7:19 pm

Well, that's two more votes for Clegg

Gravatar We do things slowly here by the Great Ouse. It takes time to rouse us. But as the home of so many Roundheads and of the only man ever to assassinate a British Prime Minster, we are best neither shaken nor stirred. So, it's taken my wife and I some time to decide who to vote for and I bowed to her better judgement (in order, I have voted Pardoe, Beith, Rendel and Hughes) and we went for Nick Clegg. This is big news. Those who know me are aware that I was really seriously pissed off that Steve Webb ...
6:55 pm

What would you do with £2.5 million?

Gravatar Good news for Labour! Latest political financial scandal doesn’t involve David Abrahams. Bad news for Labour! It still involves Labour, in this case London Mayor Ken Livingstone: A senior adviser to London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, is under investigation after at least £2.5 million in public money was channelled to organisations controlled by himself, his friends and his [...]
6:19 pm


Gravatar I am slightly bemused but not really surprised that there has been a debate in Parliament on the subject of Christianophobia. Apparently the word exists. It's no surprise to find that it was an invention of right wing American Christians in books with titles like "Is Europe Dying? Notes on a Crisis of Civilizational Morale". Check this summary, read the comments, and be angered/scared in equal proportions. But enough of America's starey eyed over articulate fundamentalists. I wonder what Christianophobia means in Britain. And I wonder what the LibDem response was in the debate - haven't had a chance to ...
6:08 pm

"I have taken my time choosing where I will serve..."

Gravatar An old favourite book of mine is the medieval whodunit "One Corpse Too Many" by Ellis Peters. The book is set in 1138 , during the very nasty civil war between King Stephen and Empress Maud. Near the beginning of the book the young knight Hugh Beringar attends the court of King Stephen. He's finally decided to join Stephen's cause. The king says drily: "Your name, Master Beringar , is known to
5:58 pm

Huhne = IDS

Gravatar Nice post by Guido Fawkes on saying if we elect Huhne we'll be in the same position the Tories were in when they elected IDS. Makes sense to me.
5:56 pm

More More (Doubt - Tricycle)

Gravatar With my long legs it is not often that I leave a theatre wishing a play had gone on for longer, but Doubt at the Tricycle left wanting more (and not in a good way). The playwright John Shanley has been quoted as saying that he has deliberately left the second act for the audiences imagination, which is all well and good, but maybe he could have been so kind as to fill in some of the gaps in the
5:37 pm

The Future is NOW

Gravatar A more difficult choice than I expected. But now to vote, and the clinching reason much the same as it was for Cicero. The future is now, not a bit further on across some bridge starting from the Kennedy era. The ‘New Leader’ will have to go straight in on December 18th and play the innings of a lifetime. We have an unexpected and glorious middle-order knock from Vince Cable to give us momentum and credibility. Chris Huhne is ready to do the job now. We should support him and get on with it. The media and our opponents will ...
5:36 pm

Mark Littlewood in Las Vegas

Gravatar Watch out! He's in Las Vegas and writing about the leadership contest simultaneously! He offers some great gambling tips (thanks Mark) which can be applied to the party. Apparently. The trick is to "play a 'tight aggressive' game and pick off the 'loose, passive' players", or, in other words, pick out a few eye-catching policies that will play well to the media. Which isn't rocket science. Is it? Can't we at least learn a little from Campbell's strategy? One of the memories I have of watching the Labour conference in 1996 as a 15 year old was Tony Blair getting ...
5:34 pm

We Can Win: Why Clegg Needs The Leadership

Gravatar None of the concerns or complaints or worries about Nick Clegg on the Blogosphere these last few days bother me in the slightest. They bounce off me like raindrops. There’s no problem he has that cannot be sorted out. All the noise, all the spin, it doesn’t matter. The truth is that whichever becomes our new leader he will be - from the voter’s subconscious point of view - our party incarnate. He will be our party personified - he should represent us, reflect us and say something positive about us before he even opens his mouth. For me, the ...
5:31 pm

Clegg - We can't build our way out of Prisons Crisis

Gravatar I have commented before that one of my main motivators in backing Nick was my experience of having worked with him on the Crime Policy working group. His radical cutting edge really comes to the fore in looking for a new radical liberal approach to dealing with crime. Having blogged on the prisons issue earlier today I am delighted to here that Nick has come out all guns blazing to take on the lunacy of this bankrupt government. Nick has said: “At last the lunacy of this government’s strategy of mass incarceration is finally being condemned for what it is. ...
5:28 pm

PMQs: Vince tackles Gordon on Northern Rock (again)

Gravatar No quips today - acting Lib Dem leader Vince Cable returned to the scene of his triumph last week to quiz the Prime Minister on Northern Rock, demanding once again to know what guarantees Labour has received that the taxpayers’ loan to the troubled bank will be repaid - and why he still refuses to [...]
5:28 pm

Chris Huhne promises much

Gravatar But as we know - we should always "Vote for the man who promises least; he'll be the least disappointing." Bernard Mannes Baruch, American financier, stock market speculator, statesman, and presidential adviser.
5:24 pm

Meadowcroft Opens Some Liberal Eyes

Gravatar One of the most pleasing political developments in recent months has been Michael Meadowcroft’s decision to join the Liberal Democrats, having stayed outside the mainstream party since the Liberal/SDP merger. He was, of course, Liberal Alliance MP for Leeds West from 1983 to 1987. Fortunately, through his membership of Liberal International British Group, the Liberal History [...]
5:20 pm

Gordon Brown hails Vince Cable

Gravatar I guess Gordon Brown intended it as an insult, but when he said during Prime Minister's Questions today; "I am beginning to think he is better at the jokes than he is at his economics." I thought to myself that Vince must be a stunning comedian, if what Gordon Brown says is correct. After all, Vince was an extremely senior Chief Economist for one of the UK's and the world's largest companies, is well known in the media and press to have his finger on the pulse of economic matters and has never been shown to be wanting when it ...
5:15 pm

A modern day fable

Gravatar This is a rough sketch of how I think Defoe might have written it: John Darwin, in case you spent the weekend inside a soundproof bag, is the man who walked into West End Central Police Station in Piccadilly late on Saturday afternoon, five and a half years after he went missing at sea. He has been presumed dead since [...]
5:08 pm

A funny from school - The problem with taking things too literally

Gravatar I group of children from my school returned from a residential trip recently, and the mother of one of the boys came in today to ask if the school had any photos of the trip. This seemed a strange request as the lady's son had taken a disposable camera with him and was seen snapping away merrily on the camera on numerous occasions and seemed to have made full use of the camera. "What is wrong with your son's photos ?" We asked. "He didn't bring it home with him" she replied. "I asked him if he had taken any ...
5:05 pm

Managing Protest Around Parliament

Gravatar Most right-thinking people, and I hope all Lib Dems, have castigated this government for the provisions of the Serious Organized Crime and Police Act that restrict protests within 1km of parliament, which was the thing under which Maya Anne Evans was prosecuted for reading the names of Iraqi war dead out at the Cenotaph. Some of us signed one of those vacuous Downing Street Petitions on the issue a while back and we received notice of an even more vacuous government response to that today, published at the Number 10 site. So I thought it was worth highlighting from it ...
4:55 pm

Opinion: Football’s liberal lessons

Gravatar Despite supporting Everton I’m a bit of a football fan, so I was interested to read this thought-provoking article by Simon Kuper in today’s Financial Times. He rejects some of the recent isolationist talk that England’s national team suffers from the lack of English players in the Premiership: “[the] problem is not that too few [...]
4:45 pm

Local decisions for local people

Gravatar The SNP want self rule for Scotland. Local decisions for local people. So when it comes to local people in Aberdeenshire, represented by the local planning committee, what does Alex Salmond do? Call in the decision that blocked Donald Trump's golf (and housing) development on the Aberdeenshire coast. Of course Mr Salmond and Mr Trump had dinner together in New York last month. Does anybody know
4:28 pm

Late surge to Chris Huhne!

Gravatar Wey - hey! Chris Huhne’s campaign team have released details of canvassing figures obtained by an independent third party organisation which confirm a late surge in support for him. The figures show that the number of undecided voters has fallen dramatically over the past ten days (from 38.4% to 17.5%) and that these members have plumped overwhelmingly for Chris. Details of the figures are as
4:25 pm

Your metaphor leaves me cold, Mr Pritchard

Gravatar “Taking Christ out of Christmas is like serving the Christmas turkey without the stuffing,” says Tory MP Mark Pritchard. As both a pagan and a vegetarian, I’ll have to take his word for it… Share This
4:24 pm

Feisty troublemakers for positive change

Gravatar On the day that Parliament solemnly debates the notion of christianophobia, a question : why are some people of faith so fragile in beliefs that any slight, however small, is devastating? A question asked in this Liberal meditation by an US Catholic who is taking in her stride the release of the first film of Philip Pullmans ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy. Some see this film (and even more so the books) as a deliberate desecration of Catholicism and demand that all Catholic parents make sure their children do not see it. But Mary Elisabeth Williams says: My daughters go to ...
4:10 pm

"From 'Clunking Fist' to 'Helping Hand'

Gravatar Nick Clegg gave a speech on public services to the Social Market Foundation today called ‘From ‘clunking fist’ to ‘helping hand’. You can find it here:
4:04 pm

Blasphemy claim refuted

Gravatar Lots of cheers for District Judge Caroline Tubbs, the unsung heroine at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court who refused to issue a summons against BBC Director-General Mark Thompson for blasphemy for allowing Jerry Springer- the Opera to be broadcast. Now Lord Justice Hughes and Mr Justice Collins have refused to overturn her decision. Lots of cheers for them, too! And lots of boos for Christian Voice, the pressure group that tried to prosecute. Christian Voice are a joke, but the threat of prosecution is not funny at all. The mock-opera featured Jesus as a guest on Jerry Springer's TV ...
4:02 pm

Team Huhne: Chris is catching up

Gravatar At the weekend, Nick Clegg’s campaign team released their canvassing figures of c.6,000 members showing Nick polling around 60% of the vote. The party estimates that about half the ballot papers issued have been returned; in 2006, c.70% of members voted. Taken at face value, this would suggest that Chris Huhne needs to persuade a [...]
3:55 pm

Sensible shoes and a good bra!

Gravatar Until now I had always imagined the only divide at westminster was the divide between men and women. However, according to the Daily Mail, there is another. A divide between a good and a not so good female MP. So what makes a good woman MP and what makes a bad woman MP I hear you ask? Well, the article appears to suggest there is a connection between what a female MP wears and her ability to do the job. For example, if a woman MP wears flambouyant shoes and shows too much cleavage, as in the case of Theresa ...
3:33 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Canvassing reveals undecideds flocking to Chris Huhne

Gravatar Exciting news just in from Chris’s campaign team: Chris Huhne’s campaign team have released details of canvassing figures obtained by an independent third party organisation which confirm a late surge in support for him. The figures show that the number of undecided voters has fallen dramatically over the past ten days (from 38.4% to 17.5%) [...]
3:28 pm

Cash for what?

Gravatar Nick Robinson is feeling somewhat jaded about donorgate. In the case of Abrahams, he says that it's a case of "Cash for what?". It's a good point. Abrahams did say he would like a peerage. But he didn't actually get one: I have had blogger’s block in recent days. Having mastered who David Abrahams is, which Janet is which and what the law says about permissible donors I found myself feeling
3:23 pm

Happy Chanukah

Gravatar I’d like to wish all of my Jewish constituents a happy Chanukah! The Jewish festival of lights has begun, and continues for a week now. The story of Chanukah tells how the Jews only had enough oil to keep the light at the Temple burning for one day, but managed to keep it burning for eight days until more could be found, due to God’s miraculous intervention. Not enough oil? Miracle needed to make it last longer or we’re all gonna be in a lot of trouble? Sounds oddly familiar, eh? Rick
3:22 pm


Gravatar Two votes posted off from here for Nick today. I had decided for Nick at the beginning of the campaign, having seen both of the candidates in action during the course of the previous year. But I have been more impressed by Chris than I was before the campaign, although his dodgy dossier and the whole LibDem for Chris style of campaigning have undone any good his personal performances on TV and the Radio have done. Still should Nick win, I hope he will accept that Chris has done enough to be able to pick his job and must be ...
3:17 pm


Gravatar Well, tomorrow’s the big day, when I finally set foot in my new office, meet my new colleagues, and embark in the adventure that is my new job. The last three days have been an “induction” which culminated today in some basic lifesaving techniques that saw me french-kissing a plastic doll cut off at the waist. My decision to use tongues was not welcomed by all, I must say. I am joking, obviously, and I must say that I now have even more respect for professional life-savers like para-medics. I was nervous enough practicing on a dummy, and my hands ...
3:15 pm

Electoral Commission publishes first list of leadership campaign donations

Gravatar In the light of the Labour Party’s trouble with candidates failing to report donations to the Electoral Commission, it is reassuring to see that the Electoral Commission has published the first list of donors to the Chris Huhne campaign (see here and select “Mr Chris Huhne MP” from the drop-down list) . The Voice understands that the [...]
3:08 pm

Thoughts from a bygone age – time to dust off keynes?

Gravatar If you were a government economist sitting in your office in the 1930s, say, and you were reading up on problems with the economy, including poor retail sales, problems with housing supply, difficulties with banks, not to mention an international financial crisis caused by over speculation in the US economy, you might reach for the work of one John Maynard Keynes, whose most famous theory involved a government putting a little more money into an economy to encourage people to start moving it around. His illustration of this was that governments should pay people to bury jars of cash for ...
2:59 pm

Could HMRC CD fall into hands of pro-Labour identity thieves?

Gravatar Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse… A man registered as a Labour donor in 2004 claims he never gave them a penny, and fears he is the victim of a Labour-supporting identity thief. If the Labour party *do* find the missing HMRC disc, could those on it be at even greater risk of identity [...]
2:47 pm

Back in the Land of the Living

Gravatar After several days of a really rotten cold I feel almost human today. I took advantage of a dry spell between the showers to deliver a round of Focus leaflets. Although I don't always look forward to that job, especially in wet weather, I do find it useful to walk round streets which I wouldn't go along otherwise. Checking up on the state of the pavements and generally keeping an eye on the
2:34 pm

Birmingham's Single Status Motion about Pay and Grading

Gravatar The following motion was passed yesterday by Birmingham City Council. This Council wishes to thank its employees for their hard work and effort that have lead to the Council making progress in returning to its rightful, traditional position as the best run local authority in Western Europe. The Council regrets that a situation was allowed to develop over many years where the pay and grading
2:28 pm

Clegg SMF Speech on Building the Enabling State

Gravatar Nick has just set out his stall on public services to the Social Market Foundation. Nick said that he wants the party to propagate a strategy for public services based on an enabling state, empowered citizens and a cultural shift from administrative targets to individual entitlements. ‘The great paradox of our times [is that] in our private and professional lives, we have never been more empowered. But in our relationship with the state, we have never been so powerless. And make no mistake; it is the poorest and the most vulnerable amongst us who lose out the most.The old model ...
2:20 pm

What are ID cards for?

Gravatar The Guardian has more on the evidence of the information commissioner, Richard Thomas, to the House of Commons justice select committee yesterday and in particular his views on ID cards: He claimed the government remained confused about the role of identity cards, and accused ministers of putting too much faith in the value of information sharing. Richard Thomas said: "Any massive collection of information like the identity card carries risk ... We still have some uncertainties about what the primary purpose of the identity card is ... Is it to improve policing, to fight terrorism, to improve public services, to ...
2:15 pm

Clegg and the media - let’s not get too carried away here.

Gravatar Whenever I hear about “conventional wisdom” it is time to take a reality check, particularly when it comes from the Tories. So, notwithstanding the fact that I do think Clegg needs to sharpen up his media act, let’s just consider another senior politician here for a second: David Cameron. I’m not comparing Clegg to Cameron, merely observing that whenever I hear Cameron on the radio I don’t think he comes across very well (although he has improved). John Humphries in particular seems to be able push his buttons. Cameron, let us not forget, shot to fame on the basis of ...
2:12 pm

Help pioneering work become mainstream

Gravatar No other issue weighs on my mind as heavily as the destructive impact our species is having on other life on this beautiful planet. Therefore I welcome the news that my former Federal Policy Committee colleague Adam Carew, Chair of the Green Lib Dems, is supporting Chris Huhne for leader. Adam said: "Chris is special… Chris is our green champion - his record on green issues is unrivalled.” See the full article at I completely agree with Adam. Chris Huhne's contribution has been terrific during my years on the Federal Policy Committee. But I have learned that it goes ...
2:03 pm

Ashdown set to become super-envoy to Afghanistan

Gravatar So says The Guardian: Gordon Brown and President George Bush are expected in the next week to bring some badly needed coordination to aid and military effort in Afghanistan by appointing Lord Ashdown as super-envoy to the country. Brown is set to make the announcement to MPs before the Commons rises for Christmas in what is [...]
1:41 pm

Will we lose fire funding?

Gravatar This from Today's Echo. There is also a story previewing this possibility on the Lib Dem website at ************************************************* Liverpool fire service may lose £2.6m Dec 5 2007 by David Bartlett, Liverpool Echo MERSEYSIDE’S fire service could lose millions of pounds under government plans to give more money to the countryside. Chief fire officer Tony McGuirk fears the region could lose £2.6m this year if Whitehall changes how it distributes money. Local authority grant allocations will be announced tomorrow. Mr McGuirk has joined an alliance of big city forces fighting for a fair share of the pot under a ...
1:37 pm

Let's lock up our children, why don't we?

Gravatar I find myself spitting blood this lunchtime. So Jack Straw is building more prisons. We already lock up more people than anyone else in Europe, what are we saying about the failure of our society? Dear Mr Blunkett, on WATO, "we don't want to lock up petty offenders but we want to stop them reoffending" er, right, lots of evidence is there, that imprisoning people stops them reoffending? We know that most prisoners have mental health or drug related issues, even the Tories drew attention to this, but why oh why didn't we hear an announcement that demonstrated this government ...
1:36 pm

Green LibDem chair backs Chris to win

Gravatar Adam Carew, Chairman of the Green Liberal Democrats has given his backing to Chris. The full story is here. Adam has strong praise for Chris: Chris is special - when people see and hear Chris they instinctively know he should be the next leader of the Liberal Democrats. I am delighted to nail my colours to the mast - and join his team. This is why. Chris is our green champion - his record on green issues is unrivalled. We have less than a decade to take major action on climate change and as Chairman of the Green Liberal Democrats ...
1:30 pm

£1.479m investment for Coatham links

Gravatar Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council is celebrating confirmation of £1.479million grant from One North East, the Regional Development Agency for the North East of England, to support the development of the multi-million pound sports, leisure and housing development at Coatham Enclosure, Redcar. The confirmation of the funding, which will contribute towards the cost of installing a proposed combined heat and power unit within the new leisure centre building and fund wide-scale quality improvements to the public areas, marks a key milestone in the delivery of this exciting new development set to commence in spring 2008. Currently, the area for the ...
1:16 pm

From Gordon Brown to Mr Bean - join the dots

Gravatar Everyone in Lib Dem Land has been falling over themselves with excitement at the positive coverage generated by Vince’s comic depiction of the Prime Minister. Yet no one seems to have stated the obvious conclusion. Earnest Lib Dems spend hours torturing themselves to come up with a narrative that reconciles the conflicts between liberty and equality.  Or they work themselves into [...]
1:11 pm

Midlands Industrial Council not declaring names again

Gravatar After the Midlands Industrial Council story blew up last year they declared the names and promised to declare any new names as they joined. It now appears that three months ago they had a new member but have only just named him. This was despite Cameron saying, on Sunday, that the names of every member of the Midlands Industrial Council had been made public.
1:09 pm

Warwickshire Schoolchildren’s data goes Missing

Gravatar It looks as though our national government is not the only one who has been loosing data. Warwickshire County Council has lost personal information about 175 schoolchildren, some from Leamington. It is simply unacceptable that the personal details of Warwickshire children have gone missing. This must be a real concern to the parents & children affected. In my work as an IT Project Manager, I deal with many clients that handle sensitive data. Through good practice and common sense such incidents should never happen. My Mother, who worked for the civil service in the 1960's told me that they would ...
1:05 pm

Tory faint-hearts over Fairtrade

Gravatar Liberal Democrat councillors at County Hall, Northallerton, today expressed disappointment at the ruling Conservatives’ decision not to make North Yorkshire County Council a “Fairtrade County.” The Fairtrade Foundation aims to improve the lives of food producers in the developing world by ensuring that they are paid a fair price for what they produce. It has the support of many councils, charities and religious organisations. Following a Lib Dem motion, the Council’s Environment & Heritage Committee set up a Research Group to look into Fairtrade. It reported back by recommending that the Council aim to gain Fairtrade status for the county. ...
1:00 pm

If you missed Chris on the Today programme yesterday

Gravatar It’s available as a Podcast from this web link, or you can play it on this here no-fuss player below:
12:51 pm

Has the iPod replaced whistling?

12:41 pm

Chris on Today

Gravatar If you didn’t hear Chris on the Today programme yesterday, you can listen again here. The Spectator’s verdict? “This morning on the Today Programme [Nick Clegg] let Chris Huhne comprehensively out muscle him. Indeed, at times it seemed like he was acting as the set up man for Huhne.”
12:21 pm

Darfur- Take Action Now!

Gravatar Please visit to send an email to the Portuguese Foreign Minister protesting at the invitation of President Bashir to the EU-Africa summit. This should only take ten seconds. Also, blog this yourself and spread the word!
12:20 pm

Realpolitik 6: Nos Operor Non Postulo

Gravatar The new Realpolitik podcast is now available here. In this week's show: The "Teddy Row Teacher" comes home. The National Anthem lyrics are questioned, and should we have a new British motto? Will the Scots break free from the imperialistic hold of the hated English? Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapons programme anymore, says the US National Intelligence Council- and we agree to place bets
11:53 am

YouTube hustings: Fathers’ involvement in the lives of their children

Gravatar The third of the five video questions put to Mr Clegg and Mr Huhne asked about how the candidates would improve the involvement of fathers in the lives of their children. Here are the question and their answers, which both touch on the candidates’ own experiences as fathers. If you’d like to watch subtitled versions of [...]
11:27 am

A Liberal, but Tough, Case to Stand Up For

Gravatar As I've mentioned before, section 64 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill will make it an offence to possess an "extreme pornographic image" not just in the cases (rightly) where the persons in the photograph have not consented to the act, but also (wrongly) where they have consented. Iain Roberts on LibDemVoice has been asking whether our MPs are going to be opposing this legislation and
10:58 am

Spectator asks "What's wrong with Nick Clegg?"

Gravatar Of course, the Tories are really scared of Nick Clegg becoming leader, so they are trying to trash him before he gets there. Of course. Of course. Naturally. Naturellement. It goes without saying. But here we are in any case: The lacklustre nature of Nick Clegg’s public performances is becoming more and more bizarre. This morning on the Today Programme he let Chris Huhne comprehensively out
10:31 am

Now Chris goes for Tories

Gravatar Fresh from meeting Durham police concerning David Abrahams, Chris has now turned his attention to the Tories, and specifically Lord Ashcroft. The Guardian reports: Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat leadership challenger, wrote to Ashcroft yesterday demanding confirmation that he is paying tax and living in Britain, promises made when he received his peerage. Chris’s main site adds more details from Chris: “With the focus on open and transparent party funding, it is high time Lord Ashcroft said publicly whether he is fully resident and domiciled in this country for tax purposes, whether he pays UK income tax on all his ...
10:28 am

The LibDem leadership - on-the-job training scheme?

Gravatar Andy has a great posting over on "And then he said" called "Mr Smug, Mr Smarm and my naked ballot paper". It really is superb. I've been thinking about James Graham's comment yesterday: Assuming (Clegg) does get elected however, I do hope he will spend the Christmas break working out where he went wrong over the campaign and getting some serious media training. To what extent should the
10:00 am

Scottish Business Groups Focus on Scotland

Gravatar Apparently the Conservatives have taken £500,000 from the Scottish Business Groups Focus on Scotland that allows donors to remain anonymous.
9:43 am

Byrne backs Black Country bid, not Birmingham's

Gravatar Bit of a haven for headline writers this one. Birmingham MP, possible mayoral candidate if we ever go down that route..., and minister for the WestMids has come out in favour of the the Black COuntry's bid for the People's lottery, over the Sustrans Connect2 bid that has a direct relevance to Birmingham. I think that Sustrans have managed to do a great job with their campaign, and with the 3 opposing bids being very geographically distint (with 2 in the Midlands), Sustrans is at a distinct advantage, and is apparently the bookies favourite (although I can't see a betfair ...
9:33 am

Do you need community facilities?

Gravatar Are you involved with a club, society or other community group that has plans or ambitions for new or improved facilities, or do you own such a facility and have aspirations for its future improvement? If so, then Redcar and Cleveland Council wants to hear from you, so that it has all the information available to draft new planning policies on the provision of community facilities across the Borough. A new planning document, the Communities DPD, could protect existing facilities and safeguard sites for new community facilities. The Council is also looking at ways of securing contributions towards community facilities ...
9:21 am

Southall - what about the research

Gravatar My biggest concern about the matters releating to David Southall is that there has not been an independent investigation into his research and the impact it had on the subjects of that research. That remains a concern notwithstanding the fact that he has now been struck off. This issue is, however, raising another smokescreen. (with the RCPCH helping to generate smoke). Paediatricians who
9:02 am

Fire Brigade

Gravatar Various Devon and Somerset Councils are grappling with a £1.8 million shortfall in the Fire Service budget. They propose that Ilfracombe go from full time to retained and for Plympton, Exmouth and Paignton to go from 24 hour full time cover, to retained at night. The Councils are blaming the Labour Government for the shortfall. We've been having this discussion down here for the past year, ever since the LibDem controlled County Council proposed that Falmouth and Camborne Fire Station, the only two full time Fire Stations in the County, go from full time to retained. There has been a ...
9:00 am

Leadership election myths: Chris Huhne isn’t passionate

Gravatar If you think Chris Huhne doesn’t have the passion to be leader, watch this: Chris Huhne's speech Uploaded by libdem
8:23 am

Is a Labour MSP about to quit over donor scandals?

Gravatar Rumours abound that Labour MSP Charlie Gordon may be about to quit over the Wendy Alexander Scottish Labour leadership campaign’s illegal donation. As the Daily Record reports: LEADING Labour MSP Charlie Gordon looks set to quit Holyrood after the devastating revelations about illegal donations in yesterday’s Daily Record. He will make a statement about his “political future” this [...]
8:20 am

Top Lib Dem media tarts: Sept-Nov 2007

Gravatar Which Lib Dem MPs received the most media mentions between 1st September 2007 and 30th November, 2007? To find out I trawled Lexis-Nexis’s online database of all UK national newspapers (and a huge number of regional ones), feeding in the names of each of our MPs in turn, and seeing how many returns were generated. To [...]
7:57 am

The agony continues

Gravatar The Independent reports that the recent revelations about missing data are set to continue as the Data Commissioner uncovers more tales of woe within the government bureaucracy. Richard Thomas has said that he is investigating several possible breaches of data protection laws after his office received a series of "confessional" calls from public and private sector bodies: The Information Commissioner disclosed that a senior civil servant was already trawling Whitehall departments for evidence of further data breaches, after two discs containing the entire child benefit database of 25 million people were lost in the post by Her Majesty's Revenue & ...
7:44 am

What defines distress?

Gravatar I am horrified at OFCOM's decision not to uphold more than 750 complaints against the Channel 4 programme "Bringing up Baby". This programme compared different schools of thought regarding child rearing, including the ideas of self-styled expert Claire Verity, based on the ideas of Truby King. These practices involve not having eye contact with the baby, and as little physical contact as possible and not being responsive to the baby's cries. Many viewers were horrified to see a tiny baby left in a room to cry, without its needs being attended to. This makes the OFCOM view that there was ...
7:39 am

I have voted and not for the obvious choice

Gravatar After a bit of faffing I have finally cast my vote, but not for the on most people have been have been lobbying me for.
3:50 am

Mr Smug, Mr Smarm and my naked ballot paper

Gravatar With time running out in the Lib Dem leadership election, I’ve finally thought of something that might make me vote – even though the one thing I’ve been certain of all along is that I don’t want either candidate in charge of my party. When the election kicked off I was desperately hoping a third candidate would emerge so I wasn’t stuck with the unappealing choice between a candidate I didn’t rate and a candidate I didn’t like. Anyone would have done - John Hemming even - but no such luck. Chris Huhne had failed to impress me as a ...
1:04 am

Tooth Review: 1566 (Obligatory Spoiler Warning)

Gravatar {Prog 1566} Everything comes to a full stop. Except for the Third Reich! Cover: A simple yet impactful shot of a hand holding a gun against a blood soaked background. Once again Frazer Irving shows off his sense of design. Quote of the Week: The Voice: Harry, listen, it wasn’t my fault. They forced it on me. I was very … content with our arrangement. Harry: I’m glad to hear that, Steve. I thought it was something like that. Fair enough, no hard feelings then. The Voice: You-you mean it? Harry: Sure, am I the kind of man to bear ...
12:16 am

Guantanamo inmate cuts throat with fingernail

Gravatar For the third time in three years, the US Supreme Court is about to consider whether the 'enemy non-combatants' held in Guantanamo Bay have any legal rights whatsoever, or at the very least, a right to habeas corpus. And, as usually happens when there is a risk of being subjected to some form of legal accountability for its actions, the Bush admin is making a show of some kind of legal process against one, or more of the detainees. In this case it is Salim Ahmed Hamden, accused of being Osama Bin Laden's driver. Clearly a heinous crime as it ...
12:01 am

Day 2526: Lessons in Leadership: Millennium Elephant talks to Dr Vince Cable MP

Gravatar Monday: Sharp, witty, incisive, charming and sometimes startlingly frank but (thankfully!) not "the greatest leader we never had" (©all newspapers): my friends and I followed up our interviews with Mr Clogg and Mr Huhney-Monster by talking to the man who has the job – and the headlines – that they want: Dr Vince "Power" Cable. He's clearly having the time of his life: a few weeks in the big spotlight but with no pressure to get elected. His answers were direct and to the point, shorter than either of the leadership rivals but without the burning passion they both possess. ...

Previous days:

Tuesday 4th December 2007, Monday 3rd December 2007, Sunday 2nd December 2007, Saturday 1st December 2007, Friday 30th November 2007, Thursday 29th November 2007