Monday 10th December 2007

11:44 pm

Golden Pen for Josephine Pullein-Thompson

Gravatar It’s that time of the year when many of us in London — and, I suspect, all over Britain — have to juggle their evening commitments. But I was glad to be able to slot in both the AGM and the Christmas Party of English PEN between the university and the BBC World Service’s 75th [...]
11:28 pm

A new policy paper in just 17 weeks?

Gravatar Liberator magazine has published in their latest edition an article I have written, looking again at whether we could shorten the party’s existing policy process, and the separate question of whether we would be wise to do so. Having argued in the past for changes to our policy process (and won some as a result), I am not convinced that dramatically shortening the process in the way I outline would serve us well. But this kind of issue does seem to be coming under discussion again, so if we are going to talk about it then I thought it would ...
11:02 pm

The FT's advice to the Lib Dems

Gravatar And good advice it is too: the party should emphasise its commitment to localism in one of the most suffocatingly centralised states in the developed world. The two big parties both nod earnestly in support of devolved decision-making – and then promote policies that hoard power in Whitehall.The government’s decade-long refusal to reform local government finance speaks eloquently to its determination that city, town and parish councils do nothing but what they are told by the Treasury. Mr Cameron’s response is to pretend that the best way to reinvigorate local decision-making is to encourage referendums to cap the council tax.There ...
10:56 pm

A golden era of bureaucracy comes to an end

Gravatar Tonight saw the end of what had originally been intended to be the bureaucratic equivalent of the 'thousand year Reich', as I attended my last meeting as Regional Secretary. The problem became that I stopped enjoying it. Regional Executives became places where initiatives went to die and, whilst I fully understand that I can't always get what I want, the regularity with which good ideas ran into
10:37 pm

Yes! It's another dull blog entry on commenting anonymously!

Gravatar Just thought I would say something hideously dull. I am from this moment onwards not allowing anonymous comments on my blog - don't get me wrong I love comments, especially thought-provoking nudges that spark a friendly debate, such as the ones on my tuition fees posting. However, so that I don't end up really laying into my future boss (you never know - we're a small party!) on a point about Nick Clegg or Chris Huhne - please please sign your name, at least call yourself by your first name. If you post anonymously it encourages people to just completely ...
10:07 pm

Jose: "No way"

Gravatar I am a lifelong Chelsea fan (my Mum is from Battersea), so Jose Mourinho ranks high in my pantheon of heroes. I never thought I would live to see them win the league and, thanks to Jose, they did it twice. So I have mixed feelings about the news that Jose has ruled himself out of the running for the England job. From England's point of view I think it is a shame, in that he was a superb tactician. I cannot remember another manager who was so ready to change formation during a game if things were not working. ...
10:00 pm

Dick Taverne on GM food

Gravatar I tuned into Sunday's Westminster Hour on Radio 4 to hear Richard Grayson's head-to-head with James Graham about the Lib Dem leadership. But interesting though that was, it wasn't the best item on the programme about a Lib Dem politician. In the first of a series of features called 'stop the world' which focus on people with maverick views that challenge the consensus, it included an interview with Dick Taverne about his support for genetic modification technology, especially GM food. You can listen to it again here (it's about 45 minutes into the programme). Taverne has already set up a ...
9:46 pm

Take It Easy Guys!

Gravatar Today, sadly, has seen time run out in the negotiations over the status of Kosovo. Regrettably it has not been possible for a deal to be struck which would satisfy both sides. This is sad but unfortunately inevitable given the strength of feeling that exists on both sides. It would be wonderful to dream that Kosovar Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo could share a future together but sadly there is such a gulf between both sides as can readily be seen on a visit to Mitrovica. The River Ibar might as well be an ocean. There is genuine fear on ...
9:39 pm

NR: £30bn and counting

Gravatar I can’t help thinking that this, and the discgate saga, will be a defining moment in these political times. Labour have long traded on their image of being `hard and tough on the decisions that affect ordinary people` - a kind of haven of last resort in the free market. What we have found here though [...]
9:36 pm

If you Though 'Calamity Clegg' was bad...

Gravatar Hattip to Ezra Klein of the American Prospect
9:30 pm

Happy Birthday Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Gravatar Today, 10th December, marks the 59th Birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sadly in our world today, the Declaration is observed more in the breach but it provides a call to action for all of us on this planet who believe in the principle that human rights are universal and fundamental and should not be compromised. For the next 30 days I plan to publish an article of the original declaration in both English and Chinese with a short personal commentary on what the articles mean for me. I am happy to publish comments made as long as ...
9:28 pm

Modbury leads the way on plastic bags

Gravatar {Lynne Featherstone MP and the Crouch End Shopping Bag} Following on from the launch of the Crouch End Shopping Bag (non-plastic, non-temporary), my latest article for a local publication is about plastic shopping bags: You may have heard about the village of Modbury where the use of plastic bags has been eradicated. This village’s 43 traders, spurred by the need to tackle the environmental mess we have got ourselves into, all decided to do away with a real scourge of the environment – plastic bags. They have converted to corn starch paper, cotton or cloth – all sorts – but ...
9:26 pm

Do you have to be wealthy to get to be US President?

Gravatar Mitt Romney - top of the US Presidential candidate's money league...It seems to help. CNN's Money Magazine analyses the wealth of seven of the top US presidential candidates. It is a fascinating study: Candidate / Net wealth $M Hilary Clinton / 34.9 John Edwards / 54.7 Rudy Guiliani / 52.2John McCain / 40.4Barack Obama / 1.3Mitt Romney / 202Fred Thompson / 8.1 Mitt Romney, the richest, is 155
9:25 pm

FFS It's Monday: Religion

Gravatar Ten years ago we didn't worry too much about religion, well, unless we lived in Northern Ireland and wanted to know which bunch of Christians to lock up (the Catholics, for those playing the home game). Today however, the news is full of religion, whether it be a teacher imprisoned for calling a teddy bear Mohammed, the annual "war on Christmas" or just the general religious nuts kicking the shit
9:19 pm

Last night a leadership candidate saved my life

Gravatar I have found it hard to get too excited about what I have described as "a battle of my personable Westminster-educated former MEP is better than your personable Westminster-educated former MEP". Other bloggers have not faced this difficulty. Linda Jack's 10th reason for voting for Nick Clegg is: I would trust him with my life, so I know can trust him with my party.Blimey! I have worked in some hairy by-elections in my time, but it has never come to that.
9:07 pm

Dear Mr Evans...

Gravatar Great news from Caribbean, the West Indies have formed a unified rugby team to compete in international rugby competitions. So if Mark Evans is looking for somewhere to take Quins on a pre-season tour next year I can think of worse places. Who knows we may even win a few games... Hat Tip: Scrumbag
8:59 pm

Councillors unlimited

Gravatar I have just caught up with the recommendations of the 'Independent Councillors Commisssion'. What a load of nonsense. On past form however, the real worry has to be that some of these off-the-wall ideas will be accepted by Government Ministers just so that they can justify the exercise and because they have form in constantly fiddling with local government management and organisation. When this report lands on Hazel Blears' desk she would be well-advised to treat it with extreme caution. Labour should have learnt by now that sometimes it is better to leave things alone rather than implement ill-thought out ...
7:48 pm

Head in the clouds

Gravatar I have mentioned Daniel Kawczynski’s rank hypocrisy on the issues of human rights and Saudi Arabia on a couple of occasions in the past few months. So, it’s quite good to see that at least some Tories are prepared to take him to task over it. Sadly, he doesn’t seem to have the courtesy (or the perhaps, the intellect) to defend his incoherence.
7:17 pm

Water leaks and vandalism

Gravatar Readers of Focus will remember last winter's saga of the water leak on Carnoustie Drive which took weeks to be sorted out and repaired. Some residents are only too aware that a month ago the problem started again. This time Northumbrian Water engineers came out very quickly to look at the situation. Over the last 4 weeks more and more water has poured down the drain instead of being
7:03 pm

I’m a political Christian!

Gravatar I realise I offended some Christians last week with my pledge and many people felt that I “crossed the line”. I don’t accept that and would argue that my target in such things are people who wallow in the politics of identity (on which long time readers will appreciate I am an equal opportunities offender) not Christianity itself. In light of the fact that Richard Dawkins has today outed himself as a “cultural Christian” allow me to go one step further: I’m a political Christian. Or more precisely, I’m a Jesusite. Speaking personally, I find the historical figure of Jesus ...
6:58 pm

Conrad Black to spend between 6.5 and 8 years in prison

Gravatar Oh dear.
6:39 pm

In a spin over wind power

Gravatar What is it about this government that even when they're trying to do something right, they still get things wrong? Take for instance today's announcement about wind power. As someone who thinks the UK could be doing far more to move down the road towards renewable energy, you might expect me to welcome the government's commitment to generating all electricity for domestic use from offshore wind farms by 2020. And, insofar as it goes, it is good. But scratch beneath the surface and you soon find that it's the same old Labour bluster and spin. For a start, by announcing ...
6:25 pm

Conference Registration

Gravatar I have just received an email from the 'Internet Campaigns Officer' re: the Spring Conference and thought I would pass it on: A quick reminder that the advanced discount prices for the Liberal Democrats' spring conference (£47) and combined spring and autumn (£82) only last until this Saturday. If you've not booked already, please do so as soon as possible to get the best price. You can register online at: If you've not been to party conference before, you can come to spring conference in Liverpool for the reduced price of £38. There are discounts for full-time students, pensioners ...
6:17 pm

Common Purpose - the new Bilderberg?

Gravatar Over the past few months I’ve become increasingly aware of the fact that a lot of conspiracy theories these days seem to revolve around an organisation called Common Purpose. Not a secret organisation, Common Purpose aims to “give leaders the skills, the connections and the vision they need to lead more effectively”. It’s a training organisation. But it’s also a networking organisation and that’s where the wilder theories come in. My old friends EU truth seem to be doing a lot of the running here (their site is certainly the second Google hit, which suggests that David “EU plant” Cameron’s ...
6:15 pm

Shocking rape verdict in Australia

Gravatar Looks like you don't have rights in Australia if you're Aboriginal. Apparently if you are 10 and female you can legally consent to sex. Maybe they live in an alternative reality to the rest of the Australian population. Maybe it's a parallel universe where gypsy travellers also exist. A world where any kind of law doesn't seem to apply to you. A very spooky world which is also inhabited by intelligence agencies and bailiffs...
6:14 pm

Education policy blitz

Gravatar Ed Balls has been busy previewing his plans for Primary Schools.  Compulsory foreign language lessons was widely trailed over the weekend.  The Times clearly received a more detailed briefing today. ('Tailored testing for pupils at primaries') which includes giving schools far more flexibility in deciding when individual pupils are ready to take national tests.In her commentary Alexandra Frean sets these announcements in the context of the Government's approach to children in general ('Focus on the individual is not without problems')With the Conservatives setting out their own plans and Lib Dem leadership candidates eager to express their views, it seems that ...
6:03 pm


Gravatar Well my blog is a month old today! Doesn’t time fly when you are having fun. In the past month my blog has had 7946 pageviews and 3714 visitors. That’s an average of 264.66 pageviews and 123.8 visitors per day. If you were one of those visitors 'Thank You', I hope I can keep you entertained in the months to come. It seems one of the most popular blogs appears to have been my ‘parody’ of Jo’s blog. Not only did I get 481 pageviews and 216 visitors I got a record 7 comments. I will see if I can ...
5:42 pm


Gravatar OK, I've voted. I'm not sure why I found it so hard to finally come to a decision on the leadership. But I have now made my choice and cast my vote. I'm disappointed this was only a two horse race in the end. Because there were just the two candidates, a vote for one, is automatically a vote against the other. And this may be why there seemed to sometimes be a slightly unpleasant edge to some of the comments by the various factions. It's been 'you're either with us or against us', 'our guy is great, the other ...
5:12 pm

To Greet or Not to Greet?

Gravatar Christmas Cards. A time honoured way of keeping in touch. An opportunity to send out some festive cheer at an otherwise gloomy time of year. A chance to donate to charity without buying fair trade products you never really wanted. An ecological disaster?? Think about it. All that paper produced, then discarded. All those postal miles involved with their atendent emissions (unless you're using a pigeon or the services of a friendly group of Boy Scouts who run around your neighbourhood with a satchel). All that money wasted on disposable goods. Is this the kind of social institution the ecologically-minded ...
5:00 pm

'Sex Switch' Trigger

Gravatar Helen Rowland, English-American writer, 1876-1950, once wrote that “Life begins at 40 - but so do fallen arches, rheumatism, faulty eyesight, and the tendency to tell a story to the same person, three or four times.” So, at 46 I thought I was doing quite well – I hadn't got any fallen arches, rheumatism or been told that I have a tendency to tell a story to the same person, three or four times. However, I realised today that I definitely have a problem with my eyesight. I initially thought this article was about women - it clearly isn't but ...
4:50 pm

The Telegraph on the Lib Dem leadership race - What is the point ?

Gravatar Reading Andrew Porter's blog on The Telegraph's website tells me nothing new about the leadership campaign, but in being so vague it actually makes me wonder he is actually trying to point to the Huhne camp being misguided thinking it is so close or the Clegg camp is wrong to assume it is all sewn up. Read it and tell me what point you think he is making ?
4:46 pm

Introducing LDVUSA

Gravatar As the 2008 Presidential election approaches, Lib Dem Voice is looking to expand its coverage of American politics and the coming contest. We’re particular looking to offer analysis and insight from a Lib Dem perspective. For example, will “states rights” (i.e. decentralisation) always be seen as a Republican issue? We know which party is more [...]
3:39 pm

Consultation. What consultation?

Gravatar The City Council has announced their consultation plans for Winchester City Council’s Local Development Framework. This is a hugely important paper for the future of the Winchester area. To quote the paper itself, it covers: what need(s) to change across the District over the next twenty years and covers: The broad location and balance of development across the authority’s area, Management of the housing supply, The balance between employment and housing The delivery of affordable housing Despite the critical importance of this strategy, it is currently proposed to have only two consultation meetings in the new Winchester constituency - one ...
3:34 pm

The triumph of expedience over hope

Gravatar As the great get together of European and African leaders gradually winds down in Lisbon, it is hard not to be cynical. The presence of such figures as Robert Mugabe President of the country that used to be Zimbabwe and is now a collection of ruins or Omar Hassan al-Bashir of the benighted tyranny of Sudan makes it hard not to emit a hollow laugh as certain European leaders make protests of brotherhood and equality. Europe has much to do when it engages in Africa: opening up its market for African goods would do far more to alleviate African poverty ...
3:28 pm

Opposition to EU Treaty - a busted flush?

Gravatar Time was, a few weeks ago, when we in the LibDems were getting terribly worked up about the EU treaty and a potential referendum on same. Conservative Home today suggests that opposition to the treaty is a bit of a busted flush: We know that the Treaty is unpopular* but is it "deeply" unpopular? The IWantAReferendum petition has 31,091 signatures at the time of posting. The Telegraph has over
3:27 pm

Richard Dawkins loves Jesus!

Gravatar Well, he might do: Scientist Richard Dawkins, an atheist known worldwide for arguing against the existence of God, has described himself as a “cultural Christian”. He told the BBC’s Have Your Say that he did not want to “purge” the UK of its Christian heritage. Share This
3:11 pm

The ‘Have’s’ and ‘Have Not’s’

Gravatar Having struggled for hundreds of years to get the right to vote and have open democracy in this country what do we do with it? Forget about it? Only today I read, that in an attempt to increase turnout at local elections one of the many things now being considered by The independent Councillors Commission, is the offer of a free lottery entry to people who vote. Dame Jane Roberts, chair of the commission, said: "The commission believes we should incentivise voting and local authorities should be able to develop and use creative schemes to encourage voters to turn out ...
2:56 pm

Maniacal Road Sweepers

Gravatar Busy week or so due to a number of deadlines that have been around (including elks, sorry ELQs that I'll get around to writing about v.soon). Anyway, Saturday night saw Vic and I making our way to the NIA to see the Manic Street Preachers. I've not seen them before, and I've not been to a gig in the NIA, so was intrigued by what the show would be like, and what the NIA was like as a venue. My first impression was that the shape of the venue is v.odd, ie wide and narrow, rather than square or long ...
2:48 pm

Giving with a click

Gravatar I’ve just received this email from my friend Fiona up in Fife that I thought was worth sharing:“I have discovered a new Internet search engine which allows you to help raise money for charity when you use it for searching. If you use as your search engine every search you do can raise money for a [...]
2:34 pm

Nintendo Wii for £1000?

Gravatar {Nintendo Wii} The press seem to think that Nintendo Wii’s are going for over £1000 at the moment with the Christmas rush, yet a quick look at eBays recently sold items show that most Wii’s are going for less than £300. So where are the journlists going wrong? It’s the usuall eBay scam, the Nigerians. People are selling their consoles and not restricting sales abroad, and then amazingly a small bidding war ensures and the goods are won by a hijacked account and if the seller is rather greedy and unlucky the Wii will be shipped off without any payment. ...
2:21 pm

Police - an experiment that's failed?

Gravatar The Police Forces in this country are all less than 200 years old. Long enough for a reasonable trial you would have thought. But nobody seems to ask the question. Should we carry on with the Police? My Town, St Neots - and I doubt if it's different elsewhere - has a Police Station, which is open at the convenience of the Police rather than the public. From time to time we see Police Officers whizzing around in cars or overhead in their helicopter, but not many people have actually met one. Rather than being the 'Hail and well met' ...
2:03 pm

China's Kebab Prohibition

Gravatar It seems China are doing everything in their power to address the problem of air pollution before next year's Olympic Games. So much so, they have even been targeting outdoor kebab sellers. You can read the full story here:
1:49 pm

Opinion: What should the new leader do in his first 100 days?

Gravatar In a week or so’s time, the Lib Dems will have a new leader - either Nick Clegg or Chris Huhne will have succeeded Ming Campbell. Lib Dem Voice is inviting party members to tell us what you think should be his top priorities. First up, is noted Lib Dem blogger, Paul Walter… Without doubt, the [...]
1:45 pm

If you can't make your mind up - 10 reasons to vote Clegg

Gravatar With only a couple of days for folk to get their ballot papers in I have been truly flabbergasted at how many still have to make up their minds. Even in the blogosphere it seems many are still contemplating. Over the weeks I have been challenged about my support for Nick, given my being more of a 'lefty'. And of course, I have had to challenge myself - why would I choose to support a candidate who I disagree with on Trident, Tax and, that's where I think it ends. Nick may give more credence to the role of ...
1:44 pm

Is it wrong to vote and bet on Huhne?

Gravatar I’ve already said that I’m not that bothered who wins, and mentioned that maybe I shouldn’t vote, since then the Huhne team claim it’s getting close, so at 3-1 is it ethical to vote for someone where the only reason is cash?
1:41 pm

Young People

Gravatar Nice start to the week, up to Penair School to talk to 14 to 15 year olds about what Councillors do and, more importantly, how the Young People would like to see Truro develop. We started off telling them who we were and then they gave us a series of presentations. Now I've been banging the drum for Young People and the need to involve them in the decision making process, for a little while, but I still found this lot impressive. The ideas presented to us included making Boscowan Park more attractive to a wider range of potential users, ...
1:18 pm

Libraries - old fashioned, crucial or both?

Gravatar I have always been a fan of libraries, in fact I'm a lover of books. I have just brought together my whole book collection and it currently occupies more than a square cubit and I can't deny being a little worried for the weight of the floor/flat! When I was younger libraries were a key part of family life - every wednesday (late night opening to 7.30pm where I grew up) was a trip to the library with my mum and sister and it was just a feature of the week. As a result I have always read a huge ...
1:08 pm

Labour spin was unfair to Lord Drayson

Gravatar Remember Lord (Paul) Drayson, who resigned on 7 November from his post as Minister of State for Defence Equipment and Support to spend more time motor racing? How did we ever fall for that improbable story? Drayson is a multi-millionaire businessman. According to Sunday Times correspondent Mick Smith, Drayson resigned after Defence Minister Des Browne refused to back him in rows with Bill Jeffrey, the Ministry of Defence’s top civil servant; the motor racing story was a cover-up put out to save Gordo from embarrassment. Gordo’s addiction to spin seems as bad as Tony Blair’s. According to Smith, Chief of ...
12:38 pm

Perfect timing

Gravatar Last Friday I discussed with my wife how we needed to get our boiler serviced before Christmas. Last night it goes wrong. I can't help but feel (completely irrationally of course) that we talked it up. At least British Gas do a call out service and promise if you have a young baby to do it that day. Update : Although British Gas were going to be able to come out some time before 6pm, another company called Gasway on the SweetBriar industrial Estate in Norwich were able to come out quickly and did a great job that did not ...
12:35 pm

Overground improvements needed and quickly

Gravatar The North London Line (now Overground) is for me one of the most impressive bits of London transport links - it goes across London (everything else runs up and down, in and out of the City), it stops in useful places (residential as well as shopping and commercial), it's pretty quick and efficient and for me [sentimental] it feels like a good old fashioned railway line. (Pic of Brondesbury Park station to right) This is not to say that it is without problems - tatty, neglected, poorly staffed, vulnerable to graffiti and slightly shambolic. But it needs investment and attention ...
12:30 pm

“Beyond Rennardism”: Responses to Chris R’s Lib Dem News article

Gravatar The latest issue of Lib Dem News featured an editorial column by the party’s Chief Executive, Chris Rennard, responding to comments he’d heard about the party needing to go “Beyond Rennard”. In doing so, Chris is himself kick-starting a debate about how our campaigning should evolve. There have been a number of thoughtful responses on Lib [...]
12:21 pm

When you’re tired of the leadership election, you’re tired of life

Gravatar My lovely Google Map was “one of the silliest campaign postings there’s been on behalf of either candidate“, my attempt to go off-campaign for a bit and big up Vince was “very silly“, the manner of my linking to a story on Dizzy Thinks was “precious” and my blog post about Chris’s late surge earned me a stinging flea in the ear in a private message on Facebook. It’s just possible we’re all getting a bit tired of this leadership election… Oh hang on, maybe it’s not the election, maybe it’s just me… Well, I’ll save the introspection until the last post deadline on Friday ...
12:12 pm

Prestwich Christmas Lights switch-on tonight!

Gravatar Tonight it’s the switch-on of the Prestwich Christmas lights. The festivities kick-off at 4pm, with entertainment and fun for all the family at the Longfield Centre. Also tonight the Retreat Fountain will be swtiched on as well, and we’ll finally get to the end of the saga which has rumbled on over this controversial sculpture for the last few years. I know it’s not exactly what people wanted, but at least it’s not cordoned off any more, and we’ll get a few more seats and a working piece of art at last! After the switch-on, there’s no rest for me, ...
11:46 am

Mystery post

Gravatar Come on, you can do it… Westminster Business School, I know you can do it, and there’s no need for it to take weeks. Come along now.
11:33 am

And this proves what exactly...?

Gravatar Although I'm a Chris Huhne supporter in the leadership election, this has to be one of the silliest campaign postings there's been on behalf of either candidate. Doing a map showing that Huhne apparently has nationwide appeal won't make anyone vote for him. Chris's campaign would have to have gone seriously awry for that not to be the case. And I'm sure that a similar map could be produced for Clegg's campaign. I know it's near the end of the campaign, chaps, but try and keep up the standards.
11:23 am

2-0 It's Just Like Watching Brazil

Gravatar Hamilton, the league leaders, came a visiting at Almondvale on Saturday. Now they play in red and white hoops so I have no idea why they felt the need to change into their change strip, but change they did, and it looked somewhat familiar. Their Nike shirt was yellow with green trims on the cuffs and collar, their shorts were a very familiar shade of blue and the socks white. My initial
10:59 am

Goodrich Christmas Fair

Gravatar I spent Saturday afternoon helping at the Goodrich School Christmas Fair and as always there was a wonderful atmosphere with staff, parents,  children and former pupils  all having a great time.  I had volunteered as a mulled wine assistant, but my talents were quickly recognised and I was promoted to Mulled Wine maker.  A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon!
10:28 am

We're not going to throw the baby out with the bath water

Gravatar Iain Dale's piece about Chris Rennard (Will Rennard survive the leadership change?) is a pile of nonsense in my view. All right, Iain has these little contacts all over the shop and admittedly gears his blog towards "gossip". Yes, I am sure he has heard the odd bit of tittle-tattle and I may be surprised by what happens. He bases his question, it seems, on James Graham's typically thoughtful
10:14 am

Why Ethics Alone Can’t Save The World

Gravatar Green is the new black. Any government that wants to get re-elected and any political party that wants to usurp them is putting the environment at the core of their rhetoric and political campaigns lest they find themselves in a perpetual political wilderness. This is of course as far as it goes. The government commits [...]
10:04 am

Tower Arts Centre - bad news

Gravatar Bad news on the Tower last Friday as you can see from the following news report: [See post to watch Flash video] Despite Ken Thornber being forced to wriggle on the issue of rapidly increasing head office costs in Recreation and Heritage (because the Tower is being cut to fund head office costs - not adult social care); despite his officers being forced to admit that the ‘evening programme fund’ proposal is completely half-baked; despite his refusal to even address Alex Hoare’s outstanding speech on how John Tellett and the Tower Arts Centre have nurtured arts in Winchester - and ...
9:58 am

Ready to serve

Gravatar My posting on Wednesday 5th December was the last substantive one which I intend to make about the leadership contest, barring any cataclysmic events between now and Saturday. It's been an enjoyable and energetic campaign. I hope Chris Huhne will win, but, as I made clear on November 20th, I also feel that Nick Clegg will potentially be a great leader of the Liberal Democrats. On the same day I
9:56 am

Leadership coverage ‘skinny’

Gravatar Nick Clegg: * Nick Clegg to blow Lib Dem cobwebs away (Daily Telegraph, 10th Dec); * Clegg calls for end to ‘politics of fear’ (ePolitix, 10th Dec). Chris Huhne: * My Week in Media (The Independent) - which deserves special mention for this paragraph: Last week I surfed… Some of the key blogs on the Lib Dem Voice ( [...]
9:50 am

Will Ming ‘sex up’ his memoirs?

Gravatar That’s the demand of his publishers, Hodder & Stoughton, according to The Observer’s media diary: Menzies Campbell has followed a path well trodden by political leaders past, settling down to write his life story, which should hit the shops in 2009. But we hear the first draft has already been sent back by publishers Hodder & [...]
9:45 am

All’s well that ends well

Gravatar Siân Lloyd, TV weather presenter and former fiancé of the Lib Dems’ very own cheeky boy, Lembit Öpik, is re-engaged… to a millionaire motor-racing entrepreneur. Ms Lloyd confirmed the news yesterday to the Western Mail, saying she was “walking on air”. The paper adds: Mr Opik, who has famously gone on to date Cheeky Girl Gabriela [...]
9:40 am

Iraq: Yet Another Repeat Annoucement

Gravatar So Brown decides to take an impromptu visit to Iraq to reannounce the fact that troops will be ‘reduced’ to 4,500 by Christmas and 2,500 by Spring. Classic New Labour spin in action: Today’s story on the Beeb. The same announcement back in October.
9:36 am

Leadership campaign: what are members saying?

Gravatar Did some phoning of members yesterday to see how the voting was going in the Liberal Democrat leadership campaign . Still around half hadn't voted; I expect there to be a flurry of voting as we near the deadline (next Saturday). The late voters were pretty much all going for Huhne and a couple of early voters for Clegg saying that they now thought they had made a mistake. So - still going in the right direction. As Chair of Chris's campaign - to sum up I would say I am cautiously optimistic! And here's a quick plug for some ...
9:02 am

Chris Huhne’s national appeal

Gravatar As we head in to the closing four or five days of voting, I thought it was about time the leadership election had a Google Map! I’ve taken a sample of 15% of the members of the Chris Huhne This Time Facebook group and plotted their geographic location in Google Maps - you can click through [...]
8:56 am


Gravatar Introducing KulturKamel – a new occasional round-up of the London arts scene. On Saturday I went to Hammersmith for Gogol Bordello, New York-based pioneers of a ‘gypsy punk revolution’. Drunken wretch lead-singer Eugene Hütz escaped from his home-town near Chernobyl just in the nick of time, and eventually wound up in the US. I’m not sure that he evaided the effects of the meltdown entitely, but he certainly has no shortage of energy. An evening of frantic, sweaty, gaudy fun. Sunday was Clerkenwell, and the alternative theatre. Don’t hang up! The Ten in a Bed Theatre Company arranged an afternoon ...
8:41 am

No vote campaign gets underway?

Gravatar Today's Western Mail asks whether a embryonic 'No' vote campaign is being put together by Labour activists in their valley strongholds in preparation for the anticipated referendum on full law-making powers for the Welsh Assembly. Their evidence is a leaflet being distributed in the Islwyn constituency, which claims that more powers will mean another 20 Assembly members in addition to the present 60. Plaid Cymru have demanded that the local MP, Don Touhig and AM, Irene James, distance themselves from the effort, but so far there appears to be no movement in that direction from either of them. Despite all ...
8:15 am

Telegraph guarantees to boost your Britishness by up to 28%!!!

Gravatar Boost Britishness? What the *&#! does that mean! Looks like the bleedin 'we don't quite know what it means but hopefullly if we call ourselves British then everything will be much better' brigade are at it again (apparently its something to do with fish and chips). The telegraph has even managed to get David Cameron's support: Cameron says he calls himself "very much British" when he is abroad, and like so many Britons his family has roots in various corners of the United Kingdom. "My father's side of the family by being Camerons are predominantly Scottish. On my mother's side ...
8:00 am

Kosovo deadline today!

Gravatar The EU, US and Russia will now submit their report on the status of Kosovo to the UN on 10 December. It is clear to me that there is no real case to oppose complete independence for Kosovo.
7:49 am

Do ASBOs work?

Gravatar It looks like forthcoming report from the IPPR (a left-leaning think tank that is very well-connected in Labour circles) could be an interesting read: The Government’s flagship Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (Asbos) are creating a culture that encourages children into crime, according to a think-tank. The measures can become a “self-fulfilling prophecy” of offending and should not be [...]
3:46 am

Chris Davies MEP defends lobbyists and the car industry, hardly in line with party policy

Gravatar Recently found this on spinwatch. Chris Davies has been up to some rather shifty business apparently, I don't know about you but when MPs and MEPs start defending the car industry and corporate lobbyists from greater scrutiny, accountability and regulation it seems like a good idea for the grassroots to start asking questions. Thoughts anyone?
12:17 am

A Diet for Candidates

Gravatar I would like someone with nutritional expertise in the Liberal Democrats to devise a suitable sustenance plan for parliamentary and European parliamentary candidates. During the European Selection campaign I turned into a physical wreck.  I stopped exercising and started eating (even more) rubbish at (even more) irregular times.  I put on about 3/4 of a stone in the last [...]
12:06 am

Why so enthusiastic?

Gravatar If you put a high priority on a certain policy outcome as a matter of ethics, it makes sense to vote for the leadership contender who favours that outcome, and since policy is about actions not thoughts, it does not matter whether his reasons for that policy position are pragmatic or ethical. For this reason, given my friend Linda Jack's principled support for unilateral nuclear disarmament, I am unable to understand her enthusiastic cheerleading for Nick Clegg's leadership campaign that endorses the policy of wait and see on Trident. The Trident issue is extremely important on numerous grounds: it is ...
12:03 am

Sports Personality of the Year 2007 - Joe Calzaghe

Gravatar I was really pleased to see Joe Calzaghe win the Sports Personality of the Year on the BBC tonight. I know very little about him but he came across as a nice guy, a stylish boxer in many ways, and someone who could be an inspiration to others, plus he had a personality. Well done to him.

Previous days:

Sunday 9th December 2007, Saturday 8th December 2007, Friday 7th December 2007, Thursday 6th December 2007, Wednesday 5th December 2007, Tuesday 4th December 2007