Saturday 8th December 2007

11:13 pm

Missing man charged by police

Gravatar Police have formally charged a man who went missing in mysterious circumstances who suddenly re-appeared last week. Boris Johnson, who had been selected as Conservative London Mayoral candidate went missing some months ago, with the press and Londoners at a loss to understand where he had gone, why he had nothing to say on issues affecting London and why he wanted the job of London Mayor in the first place. In recent months some have suggested it was an inside job with the Conservative Party being accused of having knowledge of Boris' whereabouts, but were too afraid to reveal that ...
10:11 pm

Scotland's entry Leon through to the X Factor final!

Gravatar Delighted to see Leon through to the X Factor final. This one isn't from this week's performances but it is definitely his best thus far!
10:06 pm

Jack Chat.................chattin back!!!!

Gravatar I am dead excited because I am actually getting comments on my new blog! OK to all you blogger hacks this is neither here nor there, but this was quite an experiment and I have been worrying whether anyone would bother reading me at all.............what is exciting for me is reaching a completely different audience, one that is anti-establishment, radical and totally committed to a different kind of society. Hmmmmm, let's hope they soon feel their spiritual home is with us!
8:54 pm

Error of my ways - maybe it's time to consider jumping into bed with Cuddly Cameron?!

Gravatar I take very seriously the helpful comments left by fellow LibDemmers, one who seems think I need to grow up and seriously consider snuggling up to Darling Dave. So, also having had a call from one of my Tory boys on the issue, I have decided to do the decent thing and link to his blog for the sake of political unity.....................
8:34 pm

Climate Change Petition

Gravatar I support Al Gore's call for a visionary global treaty to be completed and brought into effect by 2010, please sign the petition below:
8:05 pm

Local shops, local produce?

Gravatar Tonight I was watching Rick Stein on his adventures through France to the Mediterranean. I was salivating at the thought of local caught eel, French rare steak and chips cooked in duck fat. At the end of the programme I had to ask myself where the local produce is. I am probably one of the first to stress when I cannot get fresh or speciality ingredients in Tesco but actually I do not...
8:03 pm

Grosvenor Square in the rain

Gravatar I joined the Campaign Against Climate Change march in London today, calling for action now – a far stronger Climate Change Bill, annual carbon emissions to start going down instead of up, annual not five-yearly reports, renewable not nuclear energy and no third runway at Heathrow. And we deplore US President Bush’s failure to attend the Bali talks. We marched past Downing Street to Grosvenor Square, and listened to rousing speeches in the rain. One of the speakers in the rain, getting a big cheer, was leadership contender Chris Huhne. If anyone is still undecided how to cast their vote ...
7:52 pm

Back home, 4-0 and another three points

Gravatar Well I am back home after a four hour drive through some pretty atrocious weather but very happy after watching an entertaining game at Elland Road.  The weather was pouring it down for most of the game but that did not stop both teams from getting at it.  In the early part of the first [...]
7:43 pm

You beauties!

Gravatar Ok, so we rode our luck, but to beat Liverpool 3-1, after they had won five on the trot, scoring 22 goals in the process, was just magnificent. We played like the team we were last season. This is the first time I've seen Reading win this season. As the proud holder of a Northern Away season ticket, it's been pretty desperate so far, apart from a tenacious 0-0 at Old Trafford on the first day of
7:13 pm

Trump off

Gravatar There is a petition on the Downing Street website against Donald Trump being allowed to build his grotesque development on the Aberdeenshire coast. Sign here. Worst of all I hear there are moves to remove Cllr Martin Ford from the chairmanship of the Infrastucture Services Committee this week. What a disgrace when local democratic representatives who stick up for their communities against US
7:13 pm

Paddington Bear to face interrogation

Gravatar Paddington Bear is to face interrogation over his immigration status. Paddington, a small unassuming bear normally dressed in a blue coat and black hat, has previously survived controversy after appearing in an advert for Marmite despite having a reputation for eating marmalade. He has no papers to prove he is who he says he is as his Aunt Lucy sent him to Britain from Peru where he was found at Paddington Station by the Brown family. Despite there being a lot of fuss recently about travellers and immigrants, no-one seems to have taken much notice until now. Perhaps if you ...
6:46 pm

What's liberal left?

Gravatar A few weeks ago, the Liberal Conspiracy website launched, with a bold claim of representing the 'liberal left'. This provoked a less-than-enthusiastic response from those who felt that 'liberal' was not the right word. I meant to write this post while the question was a bit more topical, but now is as good a time as any: just what is the liberal left? Any analysis of this problem tends to suffer from semantic confusion: there's little agreement over what 'left' really means in a political context, or even what 'liberal' means. So, if this question is to be answered meaningfully, ...
6:33 pm

Nearly time to start blogging on politics again? Meanwhile sad news.

Gravatar Must admit my blogging has been fairly quiet. The whole Lib Dem blogosphere deluge of "I am voting for Chris Clegg because he is lovely and Nick Huhne eats babies" is depressing. When I appeared on 18 Doughty Street a while back Iain Dale commented on how introspective Lib Dem blogs are. He has a point! Meanwhile, very sad news that Karlheinz Stockhausen has died - though at a ripe old age of 79
4:57 pm

Why I have voted for Chris Huhne

Gravatar Why have I voted for Chris Huhne to be Leader of the Liberal Democrats? And why, es hewing national politics on this blog because my Journalism isn't up to it , am I telling you now? I suppose the most direct answer is because there are hints it might be a closer election than many thought and perhaps one or two last minute waverers might look at this and think about my argument. More importantly though is the reason for my decision. I haven't decided who I think the best Leader will be but what I want the Leader to ...
3:51 pm

Leeds No to ID Cards ?

Gravatar In another very welcome example of a new broom sweeping clean , next Wednesday Leeds City Council will debate a motion opposing the illiberal and impractical National ID card scheme. I'm delighted to say that the motion will be proposed by the new Liberal Democrat Group Leader on the Council , Cllr Richard Brett ( Burmantofts and Richmond Hill ). In a bizarre final act of the Ancien Regime our out going Group Leader Cllr Mark Harris launched a public attack on Nick Clegg MP for saying he would rather go to jail than have an ID card. The Job ...
3:49 pm

Terribly Boring I: the Keirsey Temperament Sorter and the theory of democracy

Gravatar Welcome to the first in my new Terribly Boring series, an extended tour of the pointless back alleys of the brain in which I expound two entirely separate thought systems, collide them forcibly and sweepingly with one another and see what happens. None of this, you understand, is to any real purpose beyond keeping me [...]
3:34 pm

But the trouble with "economic liberalism"...

Gravatar that it always seems that the first steps towards it, the first things to be cut away from the protectionism ridden form of capitalism we have now, hurt the small person more than the big person. If the "average Joe" (and no, it's just a phrase, not meant for you Joe O or Joe T!) cannot see the benefits to them of peeling away layers of protectionism and bureaucracy why would they support removing the state's comfort blanket? Much of what we remember about Thatcher era attempts to roll back the economic power of the state, for example, centers ...
3:28 pm

The cluster

Gravatar As I wrote on Thursday, I'm very unhappy about the market model being applied to health care, and particularly disappointed that Blair perpetuated Thatcher's misguided approach to the provision of public services. Schools have been through a similar process, but have now emerged from the dark days and they are now re-creating, and greatly extending, the mutually supportive approach...
3:27 pm

Happy 60th Mum

Gravatar I am down in London today to celebrate my Mother's 60th Birthday. Congratulations Mum!
3:21 pm

Gun Boat Diplomacy

Gravatar I was recently reminded of Lord Palmerston's maxim about Britain having no permanent allies, only permanent interests. It was a complete accident ( promise) that I ended up in front of the City Development Scrutiny Board of Leeds City Council recently along side Cllr Jane Dowson ( Lab, Chapel Allerton). As a Labour Councillor Jane is the enemy. However I couldn't help but reflect that we were both urbane, liberal, progressive politicians with remarkably similar and neighbouring wards in North Leeds. It also helped that we were both at Scrutiny to Moan about the same thing. How the Council Consults ...
3:12 pm

Oxford's rats in second division

Gravatar For all those people who claim that alternate weekly residual waste collection has given rise in Oxford to a plague of rats and who believe they can demonstrate that by pointing to the 5% increase in the number of callouts to the council's pest control department in the second half of the year (despite a 20% drop in the first half of the year) comes less comforting news from elsewhere in the country: BBC NEWS | England | Shropshire | Rat complaints double in a year: Mr Rodgers says other areas have experienced the same problem Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough ...
2:52 pm

Something for the Weekend: Back for Good

Gravatar Welcome, one and all, to our second helping of weekend cheer free from any mention of you-know-what, as the race between you-know-who and you-know-who nears its end. In this week’s bulging package: an impermissible donation for the Tories; some good news for Alistar Darling; why Mark Pack could be moving to Stockton; and more!
2:27 pm

Huhne - I'm happy to jump into bed with Cameron

Gravatar There are a few things, I must confess, that make my stomach churn. One is the idea of sharing a bed with David Cameron and propping up a Tory government. Now, I am quite prepared to be educated by the great and the good as to why I am wrong, but I am sorry, there is a limit and however "nice" Cameron may appear, his is the pretty, deceptive top of a hidden iceberg which is old Toryism. What we see is not what we will get. So imagine my horror to discover this morning that Chris Huhne had told ...
2:03 pm

A 2007 Nativity scene

Gravatar Thanks to Archbishop Cranmer.
1:46 pm

Labour got £180,000 of public money to train staff in donations law

Gravatar The Times reports: Labour was paid £180,000 from public funds to help party officials to understand new funding rules shortly before it began accepting secret donations from a property developer ... The party applied for and received a “start-up grant” from the Electoral Commission to meet the costs of abiding by the law on declaring donations that Labour had itself enacted. It was for training staff in the duties imposed by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 and was specifically for the party to prepare for its requirements on submitting accounts and declaring donations above £5,000. The grant ...
12:59 pm

Inappropriate uses of a cod French accent #1

Gravatar Every morning I go in to the same cafe to get a tea and a chocolate pastry. On this morning, for whatever reason, I chose a different shop, and a different order. Me: “Could I have a fresh orange juice and a pain au.., er, raisins please” English Server: *with smile, and twinkle in her eye* “Rayz-ON” Me: “Haha, yes, Raise-on” English Server: “Rayz-ON” Me: *in cod French accent* “Ahhh, rayz-ON-he-hon-he-hon, oui” English Server: *baffled look* Me: *oh my God, she’s not English, she’s French, she was correcting my pronunciation and I’ve just insulted her* French Server: “Zat will be £3.60 ...
12:43 pm

Did the wisemen sprint from Persia?

Gravatar Ever been given a quiz to fill in and been left with a few questions at the end? Well, a bit like an unfinished sudoku or crossword, it looks messy. In this instance it will mean a fellow school governor, parent, or shock horror a child will win the £15 prize. I can't let that happen. I need that £15. It will pay for the new Monkey Ball gamecube I haven't been able to fork out for. ;@) If anyone can help I'd really appreciate it - Q1 - "According to the carol where the wisemen came from - begins ...
12:41 pm


Gravatar Last night was the annual Mayor’s Ball here in Bury, and as ever it provided the ideal mix of mirth, dancing and luke-warm meat. Tackling the night chronologically, obviously the first major incident of note to be recorded would have to be the fire alarm, which interrupted my first glass of wine and had me leaving the building via the back exit. Not, unusually, being thrown down the stairs by a despairing bouncer, but instead joining the throng of scantily clad ladies and shivering gentlemen forced out into the freezing Prestwich December night air. The Longfield Centre car park is ...
12:35 pm

Telegraph: Chris Huhne is “increasingly the favourite among the grassroots”

Gravatar There’s a good interview with Chris in today’s Telegraph, which opens: The next Liberal Democrat leader could become the most powerful politician in the country. It’s hard to believe but if there is a hung parliament he may be the kingmaker. So the leadership contest next week is crucial.  
12:33 pm

Gaddafi´s Stark Warning

Gravatar The Libyan leader, Colonel Mouammar Gaddafi, always adds a bit of colour and controversy to international gatherings, and the current EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon is no exception. Shunning the Portuguese capital´s hotels, he has set up his headquarters in a tent on the outskirts of the city. Fortunately the late autumn weather is clement; in [...]
12:16 pm

Wise words on Dr Southall

Gravatar A wise and well-argued post from David Boyle. Perhaps the moral of the story is that there needs to be more understanding from all who work in 'caring' professions of the harm that can be caused by the unintended consequences of well-intentioned actions.
12:15 pm

United tame the Terriers in first derby for twenty years

Gravatar The sound of "there's only one Billy Bremner" rang out, at a packed Elland Road, during the one minute applause for the great man who died on 7th December 1997. It was the first derby against Huddersfield Town for 20 years. Leeds United started badly in the poor conditions, though they still had slightly the majority of possession. But Town edged it on chances and quality of play. Fortunately for United, the Terriers had 17 years old rookie, Alex Smithies, in goal for only his second game. The lad allowed a 25 yard shot from Jonathan Douglas slip through his ...
12:08 pm

All those blisters were worth it.!

Gravatar Most of my none Lib Dem friends can't understand why I'm willing to give up chunks of my spare time and leave allowance to putting focus leaflets through people's letter boxes. Why waste my time (and increasingly money) supporting a party that has no hope of wielding power, especially when my job prevents me from doing a lot of the more interesting stuff like going to conference or standing for
12:06 pm

Beyond Rennardism: we need to win the battle of ideas, not just the fight for votes

Gravatar Last weekend, I intended to write about Chris Rennard’s column in Liberal Democrat News, ‘Beyond Rennardism’, but real life intervened. James Graham’s post on the same subject reassures me that it’s not too late. Having been a student at Leicester University in the mid-1980s when Chris was East Midlands Area Agent, I can claim to be an early disciple of and missionary for Rennardism. What I learned from Chris in Leicester about winning elections, I brought back to Watford and his techniques have been the basis of our success. Nearly all other constituencies that have done well in the past ...
11:33 am

A Speech Worth Listening To

Gravatar John F Kennedy in 1960 talking about religion and the state. Hat-Tip : Andrew Sullivan.
11:33 am

I'm cleverer than you think I am

Gravatar It's a proper piece of scientific research and everything.
11:23 am

Petition Against Increasing Pre-Charge Detention

Gravatar Amnesty International have put up a petition on the Prime Minister's website against Government plans to extend pre-charge detention for certain criminal suspects to the Adams-esque 42 days. Hat-tip to Liberal Conspiracy.
11:11 am


Gravatar I have just been catching up with this week's Waterfront programme on ITV Wales. I was intriqued by two items. Firstly, there was David Cameron, who was quite emphatic that Tory policy is made by the Shadow Cabinet and him. What do they hold conferences for then? The Tory leader also put some clear blue water between himself and the Conservative Assembly Group by opposing the devolution of further primary law-making powers to Wales. Secondly, there was a discussion about the respective expenditure of Labour and Plaid Cymru during the Assembly elections. We were solemnly informed that both parties had ...
10:28 am

It's nice to know Ofcom are doing their job properly

Gravatar I was slightly surprised to read this almost throw away paragraph at the bottom of a story in The Times, which to my mind shows a very serious problem with granting temprary radio licenses and not checking up on them. Radio support AN Islamic radio station has been broadcasting good-luck messages to some of Britain’s most dangerous terrorists. Wellwishers were urged by extremist websites to use Radio Ramadan to send their messages of support to inmates at Belmarsh high-security prison in southeast London, including Abu Hamza al-Masri, the cleric serving seven years for inciting murder, and the failed 21/7 London ...
10:26 am

The voice of a true conservative

Gravatar Writing in this week's New Statesman the conservative philosopher Roger Scruton (he writes the wine column, the Staggers hasn't been taken over by Tories) refers to Christmas as a time when: the house is awash with plastic rubbish from the appalling new China - it combines capitalist consumerism, communist dictatorship and ecological vandalism in a unique synthesis of the worst aspects of modernity.
9:34 am

Health and Safety In The 1920s

Gravatar On the rather good Blognor Regis blog the author tells how he came across a memorial in Tipton Cemetery. It's in memory of 19 female workers killed in a factory explosion in 1922. A shocking thing to stumble across if you weren't expecting it... The memorial says 'nineteen girls' and this isn't a euphemism for 'young women' - there were 13 and 14 years olds killed, whilst worked in premises
9:28 am

US tests of drunkenness

Gravatar The US alternative to the breathalyser it appears Formal administration and accreditation of the program is provided through IACP. The three tests of the SFST are: the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) the walk-and-turn the one-leg stand. These tests are administered systematically and are evaluated according to measured responses of the suspect. HGN Testing Horizontal gaze nystagmus is an
9:26 am

The next decade is ours

Gravatar Martin Kettle will be the toast of Liberal Democrats everywhere this morning following his astute and insightful Guardian column. Mr. Kettle argues that we are at a 'tipping point' in British politics. This was the year, he says, that was supposed to revitalise Labour but as it comes to a close, the government's standing is as low as it ever was under Blair. 'In one recent poll Labour's support was down to 27%, worse than even at the 1983 general election. Brown has the whole thing to do all over again - and popularity is harder to win the second ...
9:20 am

The ultimate question

Gravatar OK, it may be a little late to point this out, but if 42 really is the answer then what is the question? Has anybody asked the mice?
9:15 am

Video: Chris on the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and a written constitution

Gravatar From the party’s YouTube hustings
9:11 am

Times Editorial - professionals need to be held to account

Gravatar It is surprising how supportive the RCPCH are of David Southall. Today's Times Leader on the issue makes a number of valid points. Professionals need to be held to account for their actions as professionals.
9:09 am

Stuck in a queue of death

Gravatar Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters, reports that sick Gazans are now stuck in a queue of death. Here is their report. Do you agree? Born last week with a heart defect, Salem al-Masri needs life-saving surgery. But like hundreds in the Gaza Strip, he and his parents have no permit from Israel to exit the enclave to a suitably equipped hospital. Palestinians suffering serious illnesses have long travelled from Gaza to nearby Israeli hospitals for treatments unavailable at facilities in the territory, which is home to 1.5 million people and was occupied by Israel for 38 years until 2005. However Israel has ...
9:04 am

Medical Institutions close

Gravatar The Palestinian Information Center have announced that some Medical institutions in Gaza have now closed as a result of of the Israeli decision to reduce the fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip. Here is their full report. I think it makes for interesting reading. What do you think? The PA caretaker government has announced the closure of a number of clinics and medical centers in the Gaza Strip as a result of the Israeli decision to reduce the fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip, warning of the serious repercussions on the live of dozens of Palestinian patients especially children. In ...
1:35 am

The whole rationale of "economic liberalism"...

Gravatar to produce a fair return to the working man or woman from all their economic activities and an equitable distribution of the earth's natural bounty. They are thus freed from dependency on both the state's, the landlord's and the employer's coercive tendencies. And some people think it is "right wing". There, I thought I'd just reiterate that, as I noticed some people complaining that the EU-Africa summit was concentrating too much on trade and too little on Human Rights. Human Rights will only follow where protectionism is abandoned and dictators lose the power to keep people they don't like ...
1:09 am

The Miranda Grell File

Gravatar The Miranda Grell case, where a Labour Councillor was the first person to be convicted under the 1983 Representation of the People Act, for smearing her opponent as a paedophile, was an important milestone for the progress of free and fair elections in the UK, and has raised very uncomfortable questions for the Labour party, particularly after they decided to fund her appeal costs until the day of trial. That Grell was a highly talent politician was not a material part of the case. However her undoubted abilities, and sensitivities around her status as one of the leading lights amongst ...
12:13 am

Scary stats from the Fire Brigade

Gravatar Here are some really scary statistics from a press release sent out by Notts Fire and Rescue today. The fire service attends more than 700 road traffic collisions in the county every year, releasing trapped casualties and making vehicles safe. Figures for 2007/08 so far suggest that these figures are likely to be replicated this year, with 337 attendances already recorded between April and September. East Midlands Ambulance Service attend approximately 10 road accidents in the county every day. Most accidents happen on the county’s ‘A‘ roads, with one-third of these taking place on the A52 and the A46. The ...
12:06 am

West End Community Council : December 2007 Update

Gravatar I have today launched my December 2007 Update to West End Community Council. Issues covered include road safety (including Westfield Place and Logie Avenue/Ashbank Road), the western end of Seabraes and the Homebase site. The Community Council meets this forthcoming Tuesday (11th December) at Logie St John's (Cross) Church Hall at 7pm. You can download a copy of the update by clicking on the rather lengthly link below!
12:01 am

Day 2529: Chappy Chanukah

Gravatar Tuesday: Best wishes to all Jewish Chums for the eight day festival of Chanukah. Apparently this is to commemorate a MIRACLE where the lamps for the re-dedication of the Great Temple in Jerusalem were kept burning for eight whole days even though Jehovah, always the joker, had placed Judea in the one bit of the Middle East that doesn't have any oil. Or, as the Chief Rabbi put it during his Fart for the Day, it is a celebration of the victory of monotheism over the Hellenistic tradition that gave us democracy, science, literature and the enlightenment. Er. Mr Jonathan ...
12:00 am

Snow Poem

Gravatar As it's approaching Christmas, I thought I'd share with you a sweet poem written by my daughter Anna and her school friend Caitlin (both 8): Snow Poem You can...... Slide down the slippery slope Sink in the soggy sllush Smile at the splendid scene Ski on the soft snow. You can....... See the splendid sight Sing a song on the hills Shake off the silver snow Sigh at the silent mountains and feel your senses tingle in the snow. The fact that I like this shows how a mother's love is completely unconditional - I hate snow almost to the ...

Previous days:

Friday 7th December 2007, Thursday 6th December 2007, Wednesday 5th December 2007, Tuesday 4th December 2007, Monday 3rd December 2007, Sunday 2nd December 2007