Friday 7th December 2007

11:48 pm

Odd coincidence

Gravatar I’m watching Songs of Praise. This is not my usual custom, but last week the programme came from Hexham Abbey where I was a chorister when I was little, and I’m a sucker for all things ‘home’. I have a certain amount of nerve damage in my ears (Sensorineural hearing loss) which means my hearing is never great, but occasionally and randomly an odd hearing condition (glue ear) which often affects infants, comes back with little or no warning to totally ’switch off’ my hearing. I know it’s a rare condition in adults, and I’ve never met anyone else with ...
11:43 pm

First they came for the Scientologists...

Gravatar ...but, because I think they are probably completely loopy, I'm not a Scientologist. But I'm damned sure that in a pluralist society where we accept as a Human Right the freedom to follow religions we don't agree with, that we ought not to let this happen without a fight: Germany moves to ban Scientology: Germany's federal and state interior ministers have declared the Church of Scientology unconstitutional, clearing the way for a possible ban. There is probably much that can be said against the Church of Scientology and its strange beliefs and sometimes even stranger followers. But I'm not sure ...
10:31 pm

Splendid Victorian Day in Chipping Sodbury

Gravatar Click photo for slideshow (opens in new window) Congratulations for everyone involved in organising Chipping Sodbury Victorian Day. It all went very well. The shops were very busy and there was a good-natured crowd in the Street. The slide show includes shopkeepers in costume, the Morris Men, Dodington Parish Band and the local constabulary with their cloaks. And Father Christmas of course!
9:31 pm

Vince Cable - an absolute star (Part Two)

Gravatar Ha! I am proven right again! I blogged in September that Vince Cable was an absolute star. Tonight on BBC Radio 4's Any Questions Vince shone like an absolute star (again). Eat your hearts out, you sad Tory and Labour supporters. And by the way, this proves that people of all ages can emerge as fine leaders.
9:30 pm

Westfield Place

Gravatar Following residents’ concerns about traffic speed in the very narrow Westfield Place, I asked the City Council what could be done to alleviate the problem. I reproduce the response below and am pleased to note the suggested provision of “SLOW” markings on the north carriageway : “The site has been investigated. There is no recorded injury accident record over the last 3 years. There have been 2 damage only accidents, one caused by a vehicle travelling in the wrong direction and the other caused by a motorist hitting a gate post when coming out of a driveway. I agree that ...
8:59 pm

"The interests of the child are paramount"

Gravatar It isn’t easy to argue against the ingrained New Labour doctrine that, for professionals at least, “the interests of the child are paramount”. But, having listened to the interview with the paediatrician Dr David Southall yesterday – now struck off the medical register – and with one of his victims today, you can’t help feeling that the doctrine can so easily become a mask for a hideous tyranny over children and families. I’m not of course arguing that there is no such thing as child abuse – you can see minor versions of it every day in the street, especially ...
8:46 pm

Tower Arts Centre handed over to King's School

Gravatar Tory County Council Leader Ken Thornber today decided to hand Winchester's much loved Tower Arts Centre over to the neighbouring school. Read about the decision here. Grants have been reduced, the excellent Tower management team will be lost and the decision makes clear that what financial support remains is for "cultural provision and programming at the Tower Arts Centre and other venues in
8:24 pm

The Men from the Ministry

Gravatar Peter Black points us to a report on icWales: Officials at the South Wales-based Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency yesterday admitted sending personal details of more than 1,000 drivers to the wrong people by mistake in another government data security lapse.This reinforces by impression that the best guide to what is going on in Brown's government is not Yes, Minister or The Thick of It but The Men from the Ministry. As a site dedicated to this radio comedy series records: This parody of the British Civil Service was popular with both domestic and international audiences. Thirteen series of radio ...
8:17 pm

Could Simon Hoggart save Airfix?

Gravatar Good luck to Hornby as they attempt to revive the Airfix brand. If they want someone to help them, I suggest they approach Simon Hoggart. As I recorded back in May 2005: In his memoirs Give Me Ten Seconds, John Sergeant writes of his time as a reporter in Northern Ireland. As he says, "Belfast proved to be the real training ground for some of the best journalists of our generation." Among them were Simon Winchester, Martin Bell, Max Hastings, Robert Fisk and Hoggart. They dealt with the inevitable tension in different ways. And Hoggart's method was to "build model ...
8:09 pm

A positive negative add (How to do video campaigning #5)

Gravatar With the Iowa Caucuses less than a month away I've started to tune back into the Presidential race. After a year of rhetoric, bluster and frantic money raising it could potentially all be over on the Democratic side a week tomorrow when the people of New Hampshire vote in their primary. If Clinton comes into the 8th with a win in the Iowa caucuses I suspect that a win in the Granite state would
8:01 pm

Bedford Gala Ball

Gravatar Well, I've dusted off my tuxedo, bow-tie and cumabund, collected my white formal shirt from the dry cleaners, cleaned my hand made leather shoes - yep, I'm now ready for the Ball. What ball? The Bedford School Gala Ball of course. Enjoy the weekend! See you when I get back.
7:54 pm

David Southall's defenders

Gravatar Iain Sharpe remarks upon the "quasi-religious zeal" of the 38 paediatricians who had a letter in support of Professor David Southall published in yesterday’s Guardian. What struck me was the letter's claim that: There is a determined campaign to deny the existence and reality of child abuse in all its forms, led by a small group, aided and abetted by some journalists and politicians. This group targets prominent professionals in the field, especially paediatricians. Unable to respond publicly, there is no counterbalancing voice for the cause of abused children, so the media presents a completely one-sided picture.I find this quite ...
7:33 pm

House Points: An interview with Vince Cable

Gravatar My House Points column from today's Liberal Democrat News. Headline to follow There’s only one politician to write about this week: Vince Cable, the man who makes prime ministers blench and grown cabinet ministers cry. Fortunately, House Points was among a group of Lib Dem bloggers invited to interview him on Monday evening. How does Vince explain his success in the Commons? In part it has been luck: issues like Northern Rock have played to his strengths as an economist. But he took a conscious decision to be more forceful than recent Lib Dem leaders, using aggression and humour to ...
7:24 pm

Barts baby blues

Gravatar Shocking news about the decline in maternity services at Barts and the London Hospital. Generations of Islington and Finsbury kids were born at Barts, until the decision was taken to close its maternity and A&E services. The Tories closed Barts as a local community hospital for Islington, and Labour failed to restore it, breaking the [...]
7:22 pm

Why is it when the police are treated like teachers are over pay it is suddenly a disgrace ?

Gravatar Don't get me wrong before I start, it is a disgrace that police have not been promised the backdating of their salary increases, but let us not forget, that teachers and many other professions were also given 18 month pay increases meaning that the 2.5% increase that was announced equated to 1.8% if you took it as an annual pay rise. The difference is that the police were promised a backdating whilst teachers were not. However, the government did promise teachers that the pay review body could re-examining the teachers pay deal if inflation hit 3%. Despite their promise, the ...
6:47 pm

Place your bets!

Gravatar It's said that Chris Huhne has raised his game. That's probably true, he has, but then again didn't he have to. He was well behind in the polls. Well done to Team Huhne you did a good job, especially after such a slow start. All the same I'm predicting 53% - 47% to Nick Clegg.
6:36 pm

Lib Dems on air over the weekend

Gravatar Quick alert for those wanting to see/hear Lib Dem MPs live on air in the next three days: • Tonight (Fri), acting Lib Dem leader Vince Cable will be on BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions at 8.00 pm (repeated Saturday, 1.10 pm); • On Sunday morning, Vince (again) will be on BBC1’s Sunday AM (9.00 [...]
6:06 pm

State funding of political parties both wrong and dangerous

Gravatar Following on from Geoffrey Payne’s article about state funding of political parties, I’ve written a rather vast fisking. So lengthy is it that is enables me to trim it down to form a new article all of its own about that most hideous, awful and self-serving of ideas: state-funding of political parties. State funding of political parties simply ingrains existing power and privilege. It is the ultimate reward for incumbency. What is more, it is a classic subsidy, with all the negative effects that result. If a politician suggested that Morrisons should receive state funding because they have fewer customers ...
5:57 pm

Marrying Doctor Who

Gravatar Well my poll is nearly closed and the results are clear. Readers of my blog think I should live in my fantasy world and set up home with Doctor Who. Despite the possible consequences of this (severe neglect, cheating, inability to settle down and commit and inability to pay child maintenance if it results in divorce) I'm quite amused. Although, like being married to an MP, the fact that he constantly headhunts female assistants could wind me up after a while... I suppose our kids would be quite interesting... So..failing David Tennant, you think I should marry a high-earning privately-educated ...
5:48 pm

Quasi-religious zeal of Southall's defenders will make children and parents suffer

Gravatar David Southall’s absence of remorse and continued faith in his own rightness in the wake of being struck off by the GMC is an example of ‘noble cause corruption’. Indeed I detect a quasi-religious faith at work in the way David Southall defends his approach to child protection. Interviewed on yesterday’s Today programme, he seemed unwilling and unable to engage with the evidence against him or the arguments of his critics. The impression I got from the interview was reinforced by the letter in his defence from 38 paediatricians that appeared in yesterday’s Guardian. The authors state that: There is ...
5:45 pm

We will have to talk Trident again

Gravatar In another post about the leadership election on Liberal Democrat Voice Stephen Tall, when discussing the future shape of a post leadership election shadow cabinet, makes this assertion: "It seems highly unlikely that, whoever wins, the loser will be given the foreign affairs brief, given the stand-off during the campaign over party policy on Trident. " This sparked off a couple of thoughts in my
5:42 pm

The Perfect Gift For that Labour MP You Love

Gravatar It’s Christmas, the internationally sponsored public mega-binge where individuals exert significant peer pressure on others to join in with the mass over-consumption of food, drink and consumer goods. Frowning upon the December Gluttony Festival is… to be frowned upon. So, to get myself into the spirit I, like many of you with Labour MPs want to say ‘thanks!’ to our red rosette wearing overlords for all the great work they’ve done over the last year. What better way to say thanks than to give them the gift of promotion to the Front Benches? See, today, through various contacts within the ...
5:30 pm

Pre-Charge Detention

Gravatar I have just received this email from 'Liberty' and thought I would share it's contents with you. The Government yesterday officially announced its proposals to increase pre-charge detention beyond the current 28 days in the forthcoming Counter-Terrorism Bill. Under the new proposals: Individual suspects could be detained beyond 28 for up to 42 days The Home Secretary can activate the powers after receiving a joint report from the Director of Public Prosecutions and the police setting out the grounds for extension The Home Secretary will have to make a statement to Parliament within 2 days of activating the powers but ...
5:26 pm

Not in my back yard

Gravatar Why do local residents always seem to protest whenever a new affordable housing site has been proposed? I can't help thinking that people like affordable housing so long as it's 'not in my back yard'. What do you think? Here is just one example of what I am talking about.
5:01 pm

The Lisbon Summit

Gravatar The leaders of the 27 EU member states and their African counterparts are gathering here in Lisbon today, minus Gordon Brown, who has boycotted this weekend´s EU-Africa Summit, in protest at the presence of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. I understand why the British government has taken this line, but unfortunately, as far as most of the [...]
4:28 pm

Mysterious big cash bets piling onto Huhne in last 24 hours

Gravatar Huhne now in to 5/2 from 7/2 yesterday (and 5/1 just 3 days ago). William Hill reports: HUHNE'S GOING TO WIN LIB DEM RACE?......A sudden flurry of betting for outsider Chris Huhne to beat hot favourite Nick Clegg in the two horse race to become the next Lib Dem leader, has seen his odds slashed from 7/2 to 5/2 by William Hill after a string of three figure bets of up to £600 a time in London betting shops. 'Having attracted very little betting support at all, Mr Huhne has suddenly been heavily backed to upset the long-time front-runner, with ...
4:11 pm

Hazlenut spread and our 'candidates differences'

Gravatar There are –it is claimed- clear differences, it seems between Nutella (the hazelnut-based spread) as sold in Germany compared to that sold in France. This (subtitled) Youtube offering has an explanation.. … and in my Friday afternoon doziness the clip looks a little like a critique of Internal Party Elections… Mind you as one commentator objects , “La nutella italiana è la migliore!!” But in this contest there is no third party even though it is originally an Italian product. It may not even be the candidates, sorry products, that differ rather the use made of them Germans keep Nutella ...
2:51 pm

Canoe man and his family are starting to remember what happened

Gravatar Posted by Chris: Back from the dead canoe man, John Darwin, who is currently being interviewed a mile or so up the road from here, at Redcar & Cleveland police headquarters, in Kirkleatham Business Park, used the name John Jones and travelled freely in and out of Britain, according to tonight's Evening Gazette report. It seems he is just starting to remember what happened to him after his disappearance, five years ago, that started a 200sq mile sea search, costing £70,000 and lasting several days. A boat dealer has come forward to claim that Darwin put down a £1000 deposit ...
2:32 pm

Video: Chris Huhne on raising the party’s profile

Gravatar This is a really concise and clear video in which Chris describes raising the party’s profile as the “single most important job” of the leader. This video forms part of the party’s YouTube hustings.
2:30 pm

Huhne describes ‘non-doms’ tax increase as a ‘pin-prick poll tax’

Gravatar From today’s Independent: A consultation paper issued yesterday said there could be additional taxes on those non-domiciled in Britain for tax purposes. In the pre-Budget report, the Chancellor, Alistair Darling proposed a tax of £30,000 a year on non-doms who had been living in Britain for seven years. The Liberal Democrat leadership contender Chris Huhne said: “This is a scheme to levy a pin-prick poll tax of £30,000 a year on UK residents who come from overseas to keep their offshore earnings tax-free. The number of non-domiciled UK residents has doubled since Labour took power in 1997, and ministers must ...
2:19 pm

Guess what? I thought I’d write about the leadership…

Gravatar ‘Aggressive Huhne could run it close’ - at least, so says Guardian political commentator, Michael White: Conventional wisdom continues to insist that Nick Clegg, frontrunner to succeed Ming Campbell since his hara-kiri in October, will win when the result is declared on December 18. It will be 55% to 45%, the sages predict. But straws [...]
2:10 pm

Election Results: 6th December 2007.

Gravatar Derbyshire Dales DC, Masson Con 356 (48.2; +7.2), Lab 256 (34.7; -8.8), LD Tracy Steadman 126 (17.1; -1.6). Majority 100. Turnout 30%. Con gain from Lab. Last fought 2007. Maidstone BC, Shepway South Con 251 (36.0; -9.7), Lab 240 (34.4; +34.4), LD Brian Vizzard 173 (24.8; -22.0), Green 34 (4.9 ; -2.6). Majority 11. Turnout 16.1%. Con gain from Lab. Last fought 2007. Richmond upon Thames LBC,
1:58 pm

The canoeist: Website where photo was found and who will play lead in the film?

1:32 pm

Chris Huhne is the best candidate for leader. Nick Clegg would make a great party President.

Gravatar This post was originally published on 3 December, I am republishing it now as I believe this weekend could be crucial for Chris’s campaign. {Ballot paper photo} One thing hasn’t changed between the start of this leadership election and my casting my vote. I think both candidates are excellent, we’ll be lucky to have either, and I hope that when the winner comes to form their shadow cabinet we will effectively have both.  I will gladly support either candidate. A few weeks ago I’d made up my mind to vote for Nick Clegg, but then Politics-Show-Gate struck, and once the dust had ...
1:31 pm

It’s the weekend…

Gravatar A busy weekend awaits, meaning that the looming disaster of not having bought anyone any Christmas presents yet becomes ever more real. Only 17 short days to go, and the base of my tree is looking worryingly bare. Tonight it’s the Bury Civic Ball, where the great and the good of Bury (and the likes of me) come together to support the Mayor’s charity fund and eat/drink/dance the night away. And, due to a geographical quirk of which I am going to take full advantage, the festivities are taking place at the Longfield Centre, in our ward and only a ...
1:28 pm

"The Broon-ites" hit the nail on the head

Gravatar Today's new edition of Private Eye has some great stuff in it. I was nearly arrested by the Transport Police due to laughing extravagantly at "The Broon-ites" in this fortnight's issue, while on the train this morning. The Broon-ites is a wonderful parody of the Broons, that famous Scots cartoon strip. The latest cartoon has most of the Labour cabinet committing hari-kari while Ed (Broon) Balls
1:28 pm

Just in case the Tories get too excited about donorgate...

Gravatar Private Eye has a timely reminder that the Tories manage to use Lord Ashcroft's luxury jet for overseas journies due a loophole which was intended to allow MPs to be given overseas travel facilities by foreign universities or Chambers of Commerce etc. The company which loans the jet is Flying Lion Ltd, registered in Hamilton, Bermuda. Donations from overseas sources are generally prohibited
1:16 pm

Join the Fight Against 'Inactive Women'

Gravatar I've long maintained that, despite its ostensible focus on individualism, our society is becoming increasingly one-dimensional and conformist. One casualty of the capitalist-materialist world in which we live is that the family, indeed, human relations in general, is paid little more than lip service by policy makers who view life exclusively in economic terms. People are no longer treated as citizens but workers, taxpayers and consumers who matter, if at all, only in terms of their productivity and spending power. Little attention is paid to what other factors are necessary for a pleasant, fulfilling, and ultimately ethical, stay on this ...
1:11 pm

Iain Dale wants to slash and burn civil servants (isn't that against the law?)

Gravatar I don't know whether its for some dark satanic orgy or just because he doesn't like public servants but apparently slashing and burning them is the only way we can give people power over their own lives and take it away from the state! What planet is Iain living on, civil servants don't make a more authoritarian state, they merely allow a more authoritarian state to work, one of the key factors in the losing of 25 million pieces of personal information was that the department was underfunded and to save money staff were told not to bother transporting them ...
12:58 pm

The "obsession" with what Gerald Kaufman MP wears has gone too far, apparently

Gravatar Gerald Kaufman MP has a letter in the Guardian today. I think it comes up the heading of "Letters which, if you showed it to your best friend before you sent it, they would have said: 'Don't bother to send it' " Simon Hoggart's obsession with what I wear is beginning to display disturbingly fetishistic tendencies. His latest description of my clothes (Sketch, December 5) worryingly demonstrates
12:56 pm

Football Stadia Tour 3: Cappielow

Gravatar Sorry if I’m bit late in the week updating you on my footballing travels through the Irn Bru Division 1 grounds, but I’ve been a bit busy at work recently what with settling into my new position and everything. So here’s is my summery of my second trip of the season to the home of the Ton, Greenock Morton. Location Cappielow is in Greenock along the road that runs along the south bank of the
12:25 pm

Under This Government - Brown Misleads the House of Commons

Gravatar At Prime Ministers Questions on Wednesday, Gordon Brown made this rather astonishing claim: "Crime is down by 30 per cent. under this Government. Burglary is down by 55 per cent.; violent crime is down by 31 per cent. and there are 4.5 million fewer victims of crime as a result of the changes. We have more police than ever before. We have built 20,000 prison places, and we are about to announce
12:19 pm

Government introduces another counterproductive policy

Gravatar This is from Yesterday's Hansard (see link for full details). The government are trying enforce a law so vague that people (including the police) don't understand the limits. John Hemming: Obviously, this Christmas the Government are discouraging people from going to pubs and clubs, and encouraging them to drink at home by penalising such drinks as the yard of ale. People are likely to face a
12:00 pm

From the Facebook groups: more evidence that the momentum is with Chris

Gravatar I noticed last night that there has been movement on the membership of the Lib Dem Facebook groups (above), which had been largely static for a few weeks - the past 48 hours have seen a swing to Chris. Most people signed up to FB groups early in the campaign, so Nick has a lead [...]
11:55 am

The Answer to Life, the Universe and Pre-Charge Detention

Gravatar I'm mightly pissed off I missed the Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy reference in the Government's latest plans for pre-charge detention of certain criminal suspects when I blogged about it yesterday. To make up for it, and courtesy of Beau Bo D'Or: The first six minutes of last night's Newsnight also heavily parodied / paid homage to the original Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy television
11:38 am

Kirsty, how could you?

Gravatar I learn from my epolitix bulletin that: Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps, industry expert Owen Inskip and TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp launch a Conservative Party review of home-buying. The aim is to investigate whether there is “a better, faster and less stressful way to buy and sell homes in England and Wales”. Kirsty has been for several [...]
11:29 am

Grant Shapps found alive

Gravatar ..and there's a bonus picture of Iain Dale also on Conservative Home. For all LibDems, our cup runneth over.
11:12 am

YouTube hustings: Raising the Party’s profile

Gravatar In the last of the five video questions put to Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne, the candidates were asked what they would do as Party Leader to raise the profile of the Liberal Democrats. There are subtitled versions of all the candidates’ answers on the Liberal Democrats’ Overstream page. (Previous questions: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.)
11:05 am

Who’s sorry now?

Gravatar Guardian columnist Michael White reports Labour MP Emily Thornberry telling Gordon Brown: “For God’s sake, stop apologising.” Some might feel that Gordon’s still got a lot to apologise for….
11:02 am

Blogging holiday as we're off to Budapest

Gravatar By this time tomorrow, all being well, Catherine and I shall be winging our way from Rabbie Burns International to Budapest and, quite frankly, I can't wait! We're only away for three nights but I really need to get away and Budapest is a place neither of has visited before. Catherine particularly wants to visit the Christmas market, Castle District & The Labyrinth. I'm keen on seeing the Parliament, Miltary Museum, House of Terror Museum and the Unicum Distillery. I suspect that we may well end up going to one of the spas or thermal baths. So folks, that's the ...
10:45 am


Gravatar Here's a far better photograph of last night's fireworks compared to my efforts (!!) - this comes courtesy of Derek Allan Photography - you can see more of Derek's work by clicking on the headline above.
10:03 am

Cwmgwrach youth need more activities and fewer ASBOs

Gravatar It seems hypocritical for Neighbourhood Watch in Cwmgwrach to object to youths riding motor cycles in the local woods, and riding jet skis on the local lake, while at the same time arranging to bulldoze a popular youth facility, the Cwmgwrach Cabin Club - see the removal Neath Guardian story. Local Liberal Democrats object to the elimination of a facility for acceptable youth activities, while condemning anti-social behaviour.
9:59 am

Floaty Light

Gravatar Just want to say I'm feeling floatly light after the magic of last night - ahhhh!!!
9:57 am

Why I have voted for Nick Clegg

Gravatar It’s not often I use this blog for mattters of national politics but since everyone else has a view, I thought I’d express mine. After the last general election, there was a general consensus in the Liberal Democrats that, whilst we had many popular policies, we had not communicated well enough a vision - or ‘narrative’ - of [...]
9:54 am

Another case of the wrong data in the wrong postbag

Gravatar This sort of carelessness amongst Government departments is starting to become endemic. These are not victimless mistakes either. The sort of data that has been wrongly sent out to 1,215 drivers is precisely what is required to enable identity theft. It may have been human error but the impression being given is that across all government departments there are systemic faults that need correcting urgently.
9:41 am

Is this the Ultimate Answer? If So Panic!!!

Gravatar For many years as a Douglas Adams fan I have long known that the ultimate answer to the ultimate question of life the universe and everything should be 42. However, I’m quite sure that as a sci-fan fan who was also brought up with Star Trek that the question was not 'How long should the British police be able to detain a suspect without charge?'. For this sadly is the new number that has been
9:39 am

Politcal Parties must be state funded

Gravatar It is the policy of the Liberal Democrats to support the state funding of political parties. Although the party hierarchy is rather coy in saying so. Within the Liberal Democrats there is a lot of opposition to this policy. But lets look at the options. Even after passing some rather draconian and much welcome laws, there is still a culture of corruption in Labour. Whoever the new general secretary of the Labour party is will have to put that right. But this puts Labour in a spot; can they really compete with the Tories in their financing, and how would ...
9:28 am

Fascinating snippet about Saj Karim

Gravatar There is a fascinating snippet about Saj Karim in this morning's Guardian Diary: Continuing unpleasantness in Brussels, where Lib Dems can't help sticking the knife into Saj Karim, the MEP who defected to the Tories after failing to top the party's candidate poll for next summer's Euro elections. Fresh mud is being thrown by Chris Davies, the MEP who did top the list. It's all so unseemly.
9:26 am

Not quite such an early start

Gravatar This morning I paid my annual pre-Christmas visit to sorting offices in Thornbury and in Yate in my constituency. I've always admired the folk who deliver our post for getting up so early in the morning and going out in all kinds of weather, so it's the least I can do to say thank you in person at this time of year. (Photo shows me with Phil Lear at the Yate sorting office this morning - people assume that all our post is sorted by machine, but the final sort is very much a manual process, as you can see!) ...
9:20 am

From the Profane to the Sacred

Gravatar BBC Question Time last night came from Cambridge, where Lib Dem Voice regular contributor Laurence Boyce asked an interesting question from the audience, relating to our laws on blasphemy. The panellists seemed to have a dispiritingly limited handle on the actual scope of the law in England. Simon Sebag Montefiore was especially disappointing – claiming as he did that we should preserve such legislative relics (which Denning declared essentially dead in the 1940s) because they may protect against offence of such a grave nature that it might provoke violence - which it’s generally fair to assume would fall foul of ...
9:01 am

Video: Chris on tuition fees

Gravatar Chris backs party policy on scrapping tuition fees. This video forms part of the party’s YouTube hustings.
8:54 am

Prophet and loss

Gravatar I bought a teddy today for £5, named him Mohammed then sold him on for £10. Question is, have I made a prophet? Also - I’ve just brought my daughter two new teddy bears - ones called Mohammed and the other is called Jesus - just to teach her they’re just normal names and religion is a pile of nonsense fairy tales designed to control the mind. Sorry - sure you’ve all already heard that. Share This
8:41 am

British Gas Electric! You're 'aving a laugh!

Gravatar Our saga begins long, long ago in a world far away: a British Gas Electric call centre. Back in the summer I was phoned at work by a consultancy working on behalf of One North East, offering a free business energy consultation, which I accepted. A couple of years ago, I had installed a complete set of new, energy-efficient lighting in the business, using much less electricity. I had built up a
7:55 am

Are you using the Liberal Democrat extranet?

Gravatar The party’s extranet is a resource for party activists, elected representatives (including councillors) and staff and the home for artwork, campaign materials, policy briefings and also resources to accompany the party’s big national campaigns, such as the crime and health ones. Access is open to all party councillors, staff, approved Parliamentary candidates, local party Chairs, EARS [...]
7:40 am

Two men and a piano

Gravatar Two rather splendid gentlemen by the name of Ed and Russell did me the great kindness of introducing me to Kit & The Widow, a comedy cabaret consisting of two men and a piano.  They’re hilarious. Hil. Ary. Owse. I think I’ve seen them about ten times now, and every time I’ve wept laughing more than once. They’re performing in London next week - there are a few seats left. If you can, go.
7:01 am

BNP lose in Princes End

Gravatar Labour took a seat from the BNP in Princes End Ward (Sandwell MBC) last night, I am not normally pleased to report Labour victories but in this case I am very pleased!
6:18 am

Finally, a ballot paper, and a moan at the world!

Gravatar Well, I was getting a bit worried. Royal Mail never seem to deliver to my door, and despite a great big notice to the contrary continue to deliver my mail to the adjoining student flat to which I have no access. So only last night, when the students next door decided presumably to have a bit of a clear out, did I get my leadership ballot paper, together with a final demand to have my flu jab on 15th November, two months of Prospect magazine, my Co-op dividend vouchers (too late I think now to have my divvie turned over ...
1:40 am


Gravatar Shropshire MPs make me so proud. Not, this time, my own (Saudi-loving) MP Daniel Kawczynski, but Mark Pritchard, MP for neighbouring constituency The Wrekin. This week, he published a barking press release with attached debate in Westminster Hall. Apparently, Christianity is under threat in the UK. Now, I know every year, Fox News and the Daily Mail share a common cause in uncovering the "War on
1:35 am

The "I'm Back" Roundup of the last few weeks

Gravatar Having now returned from uni for Christmas, I thought I probably ought to get posting again. There's no great reason why I couldn't blog whilst at uni, but the motivation was a long time coming during the leadership bickering going on for the last few weeks, so I didn't. Anyway, here are my thoughts for the last few weeks, condensed into a kind of roundup post: * Free speech. The Oxford Union
1:23 am

The canard of Rennard

Gravatar {Jemima Puddleduck and Mr Fox} (sorry - picture simply too good to resist) What is probably the most important article to appear in Lib Dem News for years was published in last week’s issue. Written by the party’s Chief Executive Chris Rennard, and entitled “Going Beyond Rennard”, the article concerns a debate which has apparently been going round “some of our MPs” about future party strategy and whether the one which has been championed by Chris for the best part of two decades has run out of steam. What follows is a history lesson in which Chris explains the situation ...
12:33 am

Is this the end of the BNP in Sandwell?

Gravatar What a marvellous result in the Princes End by-election tonight: Labour 796 Con 517 BNP 314 Lib Dem 29 Clearly I mean marvellous in the general sense, rather than from a Lib Dem point of view! This is set against a background of the BNP losing by just 20 votes back in May, which would’ve given them all 3 councillors in the ward. They’ve gone from 4 councillors to 2 in a matter of months and have performed poorly in both by-elections since May. Some criticised us for putting up a candidate, saying it would take votes off Labour. Well ...
12:07 am

Glenn "Carrow" Roeder - Leading Norwich to the play offs ?

Gravatar The Eastern Daily Press have produce a great psoter to "download and print" to put in people's windows. It features new Norwich manager Glenn Roeder who, if nothing else, has got Norwich playing good footbal again and won three of this last four matches Norwich have played. I just thought I'd share it with you.
12:03 am

Day 2526: DOCTOR WHO: Wetworld

Gravatar Saturday Wibbly-Wobbly Void Beyond Time: This is a terrific book. The setting, Planet Sunday, is an interesting alien world that feels like a different place. The cast, colonists who have already survived one catastrophe, feel like real people with different feelings and plans. There is a mystery about the planet that is genuinely intriguing and the explanation pleasingly unexpected. And there is a monster that really feels like a threat. The book opens with the Doctor once again landing the TARDIS in the wrong time and place and promptly ditching his ship (and Martha!) into the tentacle infested swamp. With ...
12:02 am

Day 2513: DOCTOR WHO: Sick Building

Gravatar Sunday Wibbly-Wobbly Void Beyond Time: Daddy's time-travelling review continues… This is a half-decent read. By which I mean that about halfway in it suddenly becomes almost decent. The opening chapters take far too long to get anywhere and the ending – which can only be described as "Fury from the Deep" crossed with "Aliens of London" – leaves a lot to be desired, but somewhere in the middle there are some good chapters that find the Doctor, Martha, some recent acquaintances and their robot furniture all trapped and trying to escape from the titular building. More of this would have ...
12:01 am

Day 2512: DOCTOR WHO: Time Crash

Gravatar Saturday Wibbly-Wobbly Void Beyond Time: Yes, it is time for some more TIME TRAVEL. What with Mr Clogg carrying me away into Britain's Liberal Future, and Mr Vince leading me on, I have gotten a BIT ahead of myself over the last few weeks and missed WHOLE DAYS of diaries. Nevertheless, as part of my ongoing MISSION to do my diary for every single day, I have stuffed Daddy Richard into a trans-dimensional letter-box and posted him back through time. i.e. here is his review of the Children in Need Doctor Who special… There is more than a hint of ...

Previous days:

Thursday 6th December 2007, Wednesday 5th December 2007, Tuesday 4th December 2007, Monday 3rd December 2007, Sunday 2nd December 2007, Saturday 1st December 2007