Wednesday 12th December 2007

11:49 pm

Wot I lernt in New Scientist #2633

Gravatar {Issue 2633} I get New Scientist every week but every so often I get out of the habit of reading. Unread issues start to pile up and I get guilty that all that knowledge is going to waste. So, partly as a way of getting me in the habit of reading it again, partly as an aide memoire and partly as a way of encouraging people to read about science, I’m starting this weekly summary of what I’ve read. This week: Two studies suggest that life originally evolved thanks to quantum mechanics. Hmmm… sounds a bit mystical to me. 2.37 ...
11:47 pm


Gravatar Highway matters dominate today. A site visit (brrrr!) to look at solutions to problems caused by vehicles driving over the paved area in front of the Elm Tree shops was rewarded with a number of vehicles doing just that, not noticing a police presence and getting told firmly it wasn't on. Saving half a minute for the driver means that the paving becomes unsafe for pedestrians to say nothing of...
11:46 pm

Mr Bean Goes to Europe

Gravatar Gordon Brown is off to Lisbon, too late for last weekend’s EU-Africa Summit (which he boycotted), and not quite at the right time for signing the EU Reform Treaty and the accompanying photo opportunity. Officials at 10 Downing Street say the latter omission is a result of a ‘diary clash’. You’d think after waiting to [...]
11:25 pm

Where The Oil Is

Gravatar Note how small China and India are. Another interesting item from Andrew Sullivan
11:25 pm

Oops - Brown Misleads the House of Commons Again

Gravatar Today's PMQs, aside from a cutting remark by Vince Cable (well done that man), also featured yet another misleading statement from our Right Honourable Prime Minister: The Prime Minister:... On pensions, this Government have brought in the winter allowance, and that is why millions of pensioners are getting the winter allowance this Christmas. The Winter Fuel Payments were introduced in 1998 (I
10:47 pm

Dan Hardie: Red tape and murder

Gravatar Dan Hardie has a new post up on his campaign for Iraqi employees of British forces in Iraq to be granted asylum here: There are a great many methods which our Government, acting in our name, is using to keep out Iraqi ex-employees at risk of being murdered for having trusted this country.Officials have rejected 125 out of 200 applications for help so far, and one of the grounds that they are citing is absenteeism. One of the skivers, an ex-interpreter named Safa, says that he served UK Forces for two and a half years and was unable to come ...
10:28 pm

First in the Rose

Gravatar It seemed very fitting that the first performers in the completed Rose Theatre were these young people from Bedelsford School. They did a wheelchair dance to 'Let it Snow'. The Primary schools in the Kingston Town cluster enjoyed the privilege of putting on the first show in the auditorium since it has been fitted out. The stalls were crammed with parents, of course. But I...
10:14 pm

Tooth Review: Prog 2008 (obligatory spoiler warning)

Gravatar {Prog 2008} Quote of the issue: “Did you see my televised debate — the one where I made Richard Dawkins cry? I wanted to use a picture of that on my personalised Christmas cards but the Archbishop wouldn’t let me.” Unnamed Church of England operative, Caballistics, Inc. It’s finally arrived! And it’s a good’un… Cover: Clint Langley draws Dredd in the foreground, with the other characters featured in this issue in the background. Bit of a damp squib this. The non-Dredd characters are merely taken from other artists while there is something about the face of Dredd that I don’t ...
10:14 pm

Calling all bloggers!

Gravatar I will soon be launching a new web log (blog) that will feature content from a variety of writers on topics such as politics, the environment, health, world affairs, anything important. I want to have a fair amount of content (articles) on the site before it is launched and am therefore looking for a number of bloggers who would be interested in writing an article or a few articles for the site, with the idea that in the long-term, I would like to have a large number of bloggers regularly contributing. If you are interested, please use the contact page, ...
10:09 pm

Liberty Alone on competition in education

Gravatar Writing about some comments from the admirable Matthew Huntbach, Liberty Alone gets it just right: He says:The reality is that school teachers actually feel under intense competitive pressures to do whatever it is to drive their schools up the league tables, and this is having a negative rather than a positive effect on education.I agree that teachers are under pressure to push the school further up the league table. However, this is pressure to conform to outside imposed targets. In a market, the pressure is to create what people actually want, not what some government department thinks people should want.The ...
9:52 pm

On Liberty, Online: Yet more lost data - this time in Sheffield

Gravatar BBC news has the story: Hundreds of forms containing personal and confidential information about members of the public were lost by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Staff were told that 800 budgeting loan applications have been lost in transit between Sheffield and Newcastle.It gets worse:Interest-free budgeting loans are available to people who claim benefits such as income support so they can spread the cost of one-off expenses, such as household appliances.So now the details of 800 people, most of whom will be vulnerable people on income support, have been lost by Labour?Are they determined to keep repeatedly shooting ...
9:46 pm

New course for 2008!

Gravatar The City Council is running a series of meetings for bi-lingual families (in particular for mothers with children aged 0-5 years) in the West End in early 2008. You can download the flyer by clicking on the headline above.
9:41 pm

Susan Gaszczak - PPC for South West Herts

Gravatar I just had a call from Susan Gaszczak to let me know that she has just been selected as PPC for South West Herts. Well done Susan!!!!!!! This is great news, she will be a terrific candidate and from those members I have spoken to in the constituency I have no doubt she has a very committed and supportive local party to back h er up.
9:31 pm

42 Day Detention: some other vital aspects

Gravatar On this issue, I shall try to cover ground other than that which has been well trod elsewhere.   A most basic concept of a democratic constitution is the separation of powers between executive, legislature, and judiciary. While the practical independence of the executive and legislature from each other is highly now doubtful in this country (contrast to England in [...]
9:25 pm

Shooting elephants (on camera and video)

Gravatar National Express took over the franchise for the East Coast Line from GNER recently. Having been out of the country for 15 days, tonight is my first experience of their running the route. I am leaving Kings Cross heading home now. I nearly didn't have my seat though that was not caused by National Express. Instead, I found my seat occupied by a bloke stuffing his face with a big mac and
9:17 pm

Cllr Martin Ford, Aberdeenshire Council

Gravatar I have met Martin Ford on only a few occasions but he has always struck me as an able and committed local councillor. He has, in my view, been treated dreadfully badly by those Aberdeenshire councillors who failed to support him today. I simply do not have enough local knowledge of that part of Aberdeenshire to form a reasoned view as to the merits of the Trump Organisation’s proposals but to remove a Committee Chair simply for having an opinion that is different from your own is quite frankly utterly disgraceful. If you follow that stupid logic, all elected members ...
9:15 pm

Terry Pratchett has Alzheimers

Gravatar Author Terry Pratchett has announced that he has a rare form of early onset Alzheimers disease. Reading a summary of his statement on the BBC website shows an enormous amount of bravery and good humour on his part, particularly when he says "We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism". I personally wish him and his family good health and hope that he is able to continue his amazing writing for some years to come.
9:04 pm

None of the Republican candidates raise a finger for climate change

Gravatar CNN Reports from the Iowa Republican US Presidential debate: When asked to raise their hands if they believed global climate change is a serious threat and caused by human activity....Ex-U.S senator Fred Thompson refused to raise his hand...and the other Republican presidential candidates followed his lead. Really reassuring, isn't it? Photo from CBS News
8:53 pm

Okay, it's not Sunday, but how will you do on the Fabio Capello test ?

Gravatar I know I usually put a quiz up on this blog on Sunday, but I saw this and thought it was topical. I scored five on THIS test of trivia about England's soon to be announced new manager Fabio Capello. How will you do ?
8:14 pm

You can make a difference

Gravatar It's still not to late to send in your ballot paper so long as you do it tomorrow and use a 1st class stamp. This many people can't be wrong - Vote Nick Clegg
8:09 pm


Gravatar Plaid Cymru MP, Adam Price uses his blog to compare the first meeting of the All-Wales Convention Steering Group of Plaid and Labour MPs and AMs to the 1921 Irish Treaty negotiations between Lloyd George and Arthur Griffith that led directly to the creation of an Independent Irish State. I am not sure if the Labour members of the steering group will see it in the same way.
7:55 pm

Two types of Christmas

Gravatar Earlier today I was listening to the BBC Radio 5 live phone-in podcast and they were talking about nativity plays. Basically some MP has been calling for ALL schools to do nativity plays based on the original Jesus story. His argument was that Christmas is a Christian tradition and as such, regardless of whether you believe in the Christian god or not - your children should perform it at school. This annoyed me a little bit to be honest - why should people be forced to accept Christmas as a Christian thing if they don’t want to. Fortunately my daughters ...
7:36 pm


Gravatar The Sustrans Connect 2 project has won the online voting contest for £50m of funding from the National Lottery. It’s a sustainable transport charity which works in partnership with local authorities to invest in and encourage the use of cycling and walking networks across the UK. Astonishingly, I voted for it. Stuff I vote for never [...]
7:36 pm

How can we attract soft Labour voters to the Lib Dem Party?

Gravatar What makes a Labour voter switch their allegiance and vote for the Lib Dems? If they're in a Con/Lib Dem seat, and considering our current system, the answer is obvious. Tactical voting to send the Tory to the dole queue. But what would make a Labour voter switch to Lib Dem in a Labour/Con seat? If there is a sitting Tory MP and the voters in the constituency have recently had a Labour MP and are dissatisfied with their performance the apples should be ripe for picking. If a Tory MP was elected into a seat recently held by a ...
7:07 pm

Brown's idea of democracy in Iraq

Gravatar I was disturbed to learn, again from Vince Cable at PMQs today, that '40 women had been executed for personal immorality in Basra' It sounds like Gordon Brown, just back from Basra, was also surprised to learn this. He should have expressed outrage, as I did, instead he told the House, that Iraq was now a 'democracy'. Just what is the definition of a democracy? Is it merely that they've had elections?Is that enough, and is this hybrid of democracy where tens of thousands of people have lost their lives, what we understand as a democracy? Why shouldn't I as ...
6:46 pm

PMQs: Vince skewers Gordon (again)

Gravatar Vince did it again, successfully raising a host of Government debacles, most seriously Iraq, at the last Prime Minister’s Questions of the year - and his final one as acting leader. What is grabbing Vince another round of plaudits, though, is his quickfire riposte to Gordon Brown not to speculate about leadership contests given the [...]
6:38 pm

Rough justice?

Gravatar The saga over Donald Trump's proposed £1bn golf investment in Aberdeenshire rumbles on, with the news today that the planning committee chairman whose casting vote saw the proposal rejected by Aberdeenshire Council, Lib Dem councillor Martin Ford, has been voted out of his post by his fellow councillors. The vote was 26-10 to remove him, meaning that 32 of the 68 Aberdeenshire councillors failed to vote on this issue (I believe three were absent and 29 abstained). That level of abstention is shocking. On a relatively simple matter, whether someone should stay in office or not, councillors really should have ...
6:25 pm

Response from a British Tory MP supporting Guantanamo Bay

Gravatar My local MP, James Clappison, has responded to my recent fax regarding Guantanamo Bay (long story short, I asked him to support Amnesty's campaign to close the facility, he didn't want to, I told him why he should). I disagree vastly with him, of course, but fair play to him for taking the time to respond, and very quickly in the case of this letter: Click to enlarge. The classic liberty /
5:49 pm

Not a dry eye in the house

Gravatar Before you read this story let me try and paint the scene for you. Its early evening, you have gone out on a 'hot'date with your girlfriend. Everything is going just great. Then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, (in between the main and dessert courses) an unknown man runs into the restaurant, rushes into the kitchen and returns brandishing a dangerous knife. Is it a robbery? What do you do? What's the man going to do? If you want to read what happened next just click on the link below..
5:45 pm

Cameron parades Sajjad Karim

Gravatar On last nights news, we were treated to a feature where Cameron talked of more help for beleaguered homeowners who get into difficulties with their repayments. Nothing wrong with that. What I found rather strange was the spectacle of Sajjad Karim accompanying Cameron on his tour of the studio's. Has he been appointed the shadow treasury spokesperson? It looks rather like Cameron is keeping the 'new boy' on a short rein, and in so doing ensures that the Tory party faithful, many of whom have been less than welcoming to Mr Karim, understand that he is Dave's new best friend. ...
5:27 pm

If you sign away your right to strike to get bigger pay rises you sell your soul

Gravatar I have a lot of sympathy for the police over their anger at the government refusing to backdate a their pay increase, as promised. As a teacher I got only 2.5% over 18 months which equates to a 1.8% per annum increase (0.1% less than the police), whilst the government promised a pay review if inflation reached 3%, which it did, and the government again broke its promise on that too. So I know what it is like. The problem I have though is some police officers are now saying, on the first occasion that they have not received a ...
5:23 pm

Tony Blair on Barneycam

Gravatar The Christmas card video from the White House this year features Bush's poodle meeting um... Bush's poodle*. Transcript: FORMER PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR: Congratulations Barney and Miss Beazley on becoming Junior Park Rangers. Well done. As someone born in Edinburgh, Scotland, it's always good to see the Scots doing well. (Barney looks at the camera, tilts his head and a "boing" sound effect
5:13 pm

BNP in crisis

Gravatar I read on LabourHome (well it’s good for something) that the BNP have got rid a load of their officers. This is good news.
5:02 pm

Liberal Democrat Manifesto Group

Gravatar The Liberal Democrat Manifesto Group is organising a special one-day conference to give party members an opportunity to contribute to the development of the party's next general election manifesto. It will be at the London School of Economics, 12 January 2008 (10.00-18.00). The special early bird registration discount runs out on Monday 31st December. The event will involve leading figures in the party and invited guest speakers and will be modelled on the successful 2006 'Meeting the Challenge' Conference. This conference will include: an opening keynote speech by our new leader; a major debate on the political challenges presented by ...
4:58 pm

Does David Cameron know the first thing about how "tough" life is?

Gravatar Here we go. Tories getting tough on lone parents. Well, I suppose it is reassuring that the Tories haven't changed their spots. I fear they may be preaching to people who would desperately like to be in work anyway, or making a mountain out of a molehill. It all seems so terribly self-righteous and holier than thou. HR Zone reports: Lone parent families are at a greater risk of experiencing
4:56 pm


Gravatar What will the carbon footprint be when the UK population tuck into their Christmas dinners this year? Answer: the equivalent of 6,000 car journeys around the world?
4:43 pm

I had been wondering what Tony was up to these days

Gravatar I don’t know about you, but this really does chill my spine. Nero, fiddling and burning all somehow sprang to mind.  Our beloved makes his entrance about five minutes in.
4:42 pm

Sustrans wins peoples lottery vote

Gravatar I've just heard that the Sustrans: Connect2 bid to the big lottery fund won the public vote with a whopping 42% of the votes. Thank you to everyone that voted in support of this bid. Birmingham will receive funding from this project to provide a cycle route connection from the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal and Pype Hayes park right through to Good Hope hospital and Sutton Park via Plants Brook and Newhall Valley country park. North Birmingham has been behind in major route development because of the differences in geography between the north east of the city, and the rest ...
3:58 pm

When questions of morality make you feel a bit guilty....

Gravatar "The Morality Panel" is the somewhat high-fallutin' title of a little bit of honorary media tarting which I have now done three times at BBC Radio Berkshire. The charming Nicki Whiteman hosts. I have been hosted by her many times over the years, when I used to do a paper review/Internet spot on her breakfast show. She is such an experienced and intuitive presenter that you lose track of which
3:28 pm

Vince Cable gets full marks for PMQs again

Gravatar Vince Cable seems to have got most commentators' thumbs-up for most amusing and effective of what was his and this year's last Prime Minister's Questions. For example, Sky's Niall Paterson writes: In today's most amusing exchange, Vince Cable took to his feet to huge cheers for his last session of PMQs as the Lib Dems acting leader (the new chap will be installed early next week), and asked
3:25 pm

Opinion: What should the new leader do in his first 100 days? #3

Gravatar In less than a week, 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. Paul Walter and Linda Jack have both had a go. Today it’s [...]
2:49 pm

End of the road for Nick Bourne?

Gravatar One of the highlights of the Assembly elections was a stunt pulled by ITV Wales in which they took lifesize cardboard cut out photographs of each of the Assembly group leaders on the road and asked people to post messages and questions on them. When we arrived at the Politician of the Year Awards last night these four cut outs were standing around the reception area. Although I had long left by then I am told that by the end of the evening there was an attempt to acquire the cut out of Nick Bourne. Alas in the struggle to ...
2:35 pm

Liberal Democrat Manifesto Conference

Gravatar The Liberal Democrat Manifesto Group is organising a special one-day conference to give party members an opportunity to contribute to the development of the party's next general election manifesto. It will be at the London School of Economics, 12 January 2008 (10.00-18.00)..
2:19 pm

Pressure under targets and under the market

Gravatar Over at Charlotte Gore’s blog Matthew Huntbach launches yet another attack on markets in education. This time he fails to understand the difference between the pressure to achieve centrally set targets and to provide services (or products) people desire. He says: The reality is that school teachers actually feel under intense competitive pressures to do whatever it is [...]
1:51 pm

On Liberty, Online: Cable zings Brown again

Gravatar Let this be a lesson: never try a vacuum-packed put-down on someone who is ready for it. In his last hurrah at PMQs today, Vince Cable cheekily decided to ask Brown which of the disasters that had befallen him in the last few months would haunt him the most as he took his Christmas break. Gordon thanked him for his service and then decided it was time to get back to his well-worn tradition of pithily forgetting the name of our party: "Given the history of the Liberal party it might not be long before he is back in that ...
1:47 pm

Work Worries

Gravatar Here's a query....what do you do when you have too much work and too little time? a) cancel your weekend to do it - in this case an all expenses paid trip to a conference in Beirut? b) do as much as you can, take the plane, turn the phone off - and deal with the fall out upon your return? c) admit as much to the boss - then when he tells you it's gotta be done before Monday, offer to resign in the hope that not doing it in time isn't worth the hassle of replacing you??! Phone ...
1:40 pm

December Cabinet. No mince pies.

Gravatar I sat in on Cabinet as the Lib Dem representative last night. Our Group Leader will hopefully be back in action in the new year, so my stint at the high table will be over. Three members of the Cabinet were absent, which perhaps didn't make a good impression on the 20 or so journalism students packing the public seats. I wonder what they made of it. The whole thing was over in an hour. I spoke
1:33 pm

Conservatives, housing and the free market – a cynical way to win support

Gravatar “With 1.4 million homeowners facing higher mortgage bills next year, David Cameron has called on Britain's banks to "step up to the plate and help ease the burden." He wants to see the banking industry reduce the risk of financial distress by giving advice to mortgage-holders and increasing repayments gradually rather than imposing a sudden hike. David said, "This is what I mean by social
1:26 pm

Gnats U-turn on nuclear power

Gravatar Well the honeymoon period for the Gnats so called "Scottish Government" is well and truly over, I'm pleased to say. For far too long this ill-assorted group of whingers, held together only by desire to destroy the Union, have been getting an easy ride from the Scottish media and, in particular, by the serious press (I can't with hand on heart call them quality press). In the latest in a long line of broken promises, u-turns and flip-flops, they have now decided to approve British Energy's plans to extend the life of Hunterston B nuclear plant, which is 14 miles ...
1:11 pm

Make Way for the Cowboy Builders of Independence

Gravatar The white van pulled up outside Holyrood yesterday the words Salmond and Co covered by layers of dirt that have been being picked up recently. Out hopped Nicola Sturgeon to size up the job at hand. With a pencil firmly wedged behind her ear she eyed the place up. From the Borders to Shetland, from the Hebrides to the North Sea, she saw a juicy job that her contracted firm could carry off. It
12:56 pm

26 Aberdeenshire councillors & a "First Minister" with questions to answer

Gravatar News has just broken that Councillor Martin Ford has been sacked as Convener of the Council's Infrastructure services Committee by 26 votes to 10. This is because he, following customary practice, gave his casting vote on the hugely controversial Donald Trump development which was planned for the Menie estate in Aberdeenshire. This is craven behaviour by the Councillors who voted to sack Martin and seems like vindictive political behaviour of the crassest sort. An emergency meeting of the full Council is also to be called. The "Scottish Government" has also "called-in" the decision, which the Council cannot overturn themselves, as ...
12:25 pm

Britain turns its back on more than half our Iraqi interpreters

Gravatar The Times today really says it all: More than half the Iraqi interpreters who applied to come to live in Britain have had their applications rejected, drawing accusations that the Government is “wriggling out” of its promise to help former Iraqi employees. The Times has learnt that 125 of the 200 interpreters who took up the offer to resettle in Britain have failed to meet the strict criteria laid down for eligibility...In three cases seen by The Times, former Iraqi employees were told that they were ineligible because of “absenteeism”.The interpreters claim that they risked their lives to serve the ...
12:18 pm

Council tonight

Gravatar Tonight it’s full Council, the last one before Christmas. Unfortunately the agenda is not accompanied by the tinkle of sleigh bells, nor will I be requested to accompany any of the other Councillors under the mistletoe (I suspect), because there is much to discuss. The two biggest items are obviously Radcliffe Riverside High School and the TIF bid, both of which will doubtless be the subject of lively (and probably lengthy) debates tonight. There are also questions ot the Leader (including one from me) and various other bits and bobs. I always say that people should come down to Council ...
11:58 am

The Texan way - endorsing two opposing candidates

Gravatar In the Austin American Statesman, Rick Perry, governor of Texas, provides an interesting lesson in how to endorse two candidates who are fighting each other : The issue becomes very, very clear to me from the standpoint of who I want to support. And it is Mike Huckabee. And then it goes to the next level, which is who do we have who is the most electable of our candidates, and I think without a
11:27 am

Children’s plan – government does something sensible shock!

Gravatar The new Children’s Plan, announced by the grandly titled Secretary of State for Children, Schools, Families, Hockey Sticks, Jolly Japes and Ginger Beer, Ed Balls, seems quite a good collection of proposals, assuming the money will be available to deliver it, which is always the problem with anything Tarnished Labour announces. The plans are good and generally common sense, from allowing children born in the summer to start school later, to improving sex education, which is so laughable that it could form the basis for a sitcom in most European countries. The government also plans to introduce more ‘resorative justice’, ...
11:27 am

My piece on Vince ' Strictly Come Dancing' Cable, gets in the Guardian Diary!

Gravatar I was very chuffed to see the piece I wrote on Tuesday about Vince Cable skipping the Federal Executive Meeting to film the Strictly Come Dancing Xmas Special has featured in Hugh Muir's Guardian Diary today. Hugh comments: "Diary has noticed his remarkable transformation in the past few days from heir to Lloyd George, master of the Commons, to Lionel Blair. And we like it" Oh how Gordon Brown must dream of receiving such endorsements!
11:25 am

The pm is a devious coward on europe

Gravatar Gordon Brown will be the only European leader who won’t be at the official signing ceremony for the new European treaty tomorrow. His office blames a diary clash and says he is relieved that he can still fly over to sign it but won’t hang around for the official photo and glad-handing. This is sheer, utter cowardice by another of our Prime Ministers faced with the Europe question and he should be ashamed of himself and of the impression this gives of our country yet again. The PM’s office denies it but it is so obviously to avoid any adverse ...
11:23 am

Leadership Platform 7: Join Matthew Taylor and John Leech on Chris Huhne’s campaign team

Gravatar There are just days to go, but there’s time for members to get ballot papers back with a first-class stamp on it! We need the help of Chris’s supporters to call members and get crucial votes returned for him by Saturday. I’m delighted that two more MPs have chosen to declare their support for Chris Huhne [...]
11:09 am

Top marks to God and Barry White

Gravatar 10/10 to God! / / Guilty pleasures #567 - Barry White
10:56 am

Another petition about the Family Courts

Gravatar This petition relates to Private Family law, but there is a considerable systematic overlap. See link.
10:40 am

12 down…

Gravatar We’re nearly halfway through Advent, which means we’re nearly halfway through our Labour Party Christmas Cheer Advent Calendar. It feels like we have Labour donation scandals coming out of our ears and we have a pile of stories still to cover, but if you’ve got any other good examples of Labour calamity you think we should [...]
10:26 am

Russia: No Comment

Gravatar Today's News from Russia: The Russian Federation has suspended its participation in the CFE treaty, thus removing it from the obligation to report significant troop movements to NATO. The Russian Government has ordered the closure of British Council offices in the country, arguing that the cultural organisation was operating illegally. Having hand picked Dimitri Medvedev to be his successor as President, Medvedev has indicated that he will pick Putin to be Prime Minister. An influential Finnish foreign affairs council has suggested that Russia would respond with active displays of military force, were Finland to join NATO, as the majority of ...
10:19 am

Kingston First meets targets (just about)

Gravatar Kingston was the first place in the UK to launch a Business Improvement District, under the name Kingston First. This was a joint venture of the Kingston Town Centre Management and Kingston Council. It means that Kingston First can levy a 1% extra rate on businesses - amounting to £1 million per year - which, instead of following the rest of business rates to central Government, can...
10:17 am

Old School Playground Planning Application

Gravatar Below is the second application for the old School Playground - the first was withdrawn. Tyning Road residents might like to inspect the plans at Trimbridge House or on the Bath and North East Somerset web site. this application looks better than the first. The Old Playground is now to become a garden. Let Cherry or me know your views. Ward: Combe Down App Ref: 07/03537/FUL Parish: N/A Registered: 3rd December 2007 Expiry Date: 28th January 2008 Location: Old Tennis Courts Church Road Combe Down Bath BA2 5JN Grid Ref: (E)376176 - (N)162398 LB Grade: N/A Proposal: Change of use ...
9:42 am

The real nanny state

Gravatar I find it odd that Tories can go on about Nanny Statism so much when in reality they're just as patronising towards their citizens although perhaps in different ways. Take Chris Grayling's new idea to force single parents with children over the age of 4 to get a job. Can anybody explain to me why this is a good idea, I just want one decent well thought out reason as to how this will aid British society in any way. I feel disconnected almost from the Tory way of thinking, maybe I'm just not getting something but I don't see ...
9:36 am

Another superb work of satire

Gravatar I’m trying to work out who wrote this piece on Comment is Free, supposedly by Jack Straw. My initial suspicion is Armando Ianucci or Chris Morris, as it has that level of absurdity, that sense of turning the whole world inside out so black is white and up is down that they try to infuse their work with. After all, it takes a master satirist to even attempt to write a piece claiming that the last decade has been ‘liberty’s best since the vote was won’ that seems to be claiming that having ‘only’ 28 days detention without trial is ...
9:16 am

England's 1st Female Councillor was from Belsize

Gravatar One hundred years ago today Reina Emily Lawrence, a Belsize resident, made history by becoming England’s first female councillor. She was elected on to Hampstead Borough Council on 12 Dec 1907 after winning a by-election with a majority of 319 votes. It was the first year women were allowed to stand as candidates for local councils. Reina Lawrence was no suffragette - she pledged to work harmoniously with the men on the Council and listed housing, swimming baths and infant mortality at the top of her priorities. She's one of a number of Camden women remembered in a new public ...
9:12 am

A small success

Gravatar People who run sports teams do it for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they have a child in the team or they've always played themselves and want to stay involved. For whatever reason they do our community a big favour. The Police will tell you how good it is for young lads to be involved in organised sports, and the benefits in terms of health and being part of a team are obvious. But it's a thankless task for the organiser, and I have a lot of respect for the people that do it. So it was good at Full ...
8:55 am

Opinion: Vince Rocks (And So Can You!)

Gravatar Vince Cable has deservedly won much praise for his recent performance as acting leader of the Liberal Democrats. He has set a high standard for next week’s victor to match. The danger is that we will treat Vince’s performance as an entertaining interlude before normal service is resumed. Instead, we should analyse and understand the [...]
8:42 am

Back to delayed trains

Gravatar Having just spent two weeks on the Indian Ocean, I have returned to find every train I wanted to catch is delayed. Last night it was the Gatwick to Victoria. Now it is the West Croydon to Victoria, delayed for an unknown reason. I have to catch a train to Newcastle tonight. Troubles come in threes!I have avoided newspapers, internet and tv for 2 weeks and my blackberry was switched on only twice
8:10 am

The Day I Officially Became A Handicap To Local Democracy

Gravatar Peter Black has already written a pretty comprehensive post on the Councillors Commission proposals. I particularly agree with his last paragraph: Normally, one would rely on Ministers to sort the wheat from the chaff. My fear however is that they and their civil servants have demonstrated again and again that they do not understand how local democracy works and that they believe they can use
7:57 am

Your avin a larf ain't ya?

Gravatar I would have expected more from Liberal England. He recently asked the question “should the Lib Dem President be neutral in leadership elections”. No, of course he shouldn't. He is entitled to his opinion isn't he? Whatever next not being able to comment on planning applications from gypsies just because you work in the Planning Department of a local borough council?
7:51 am

More Awards

Gravatar Last night I attended the ITV Wales Yearbook Politician of the Year awards at Cardiff City Hall. All of the great and the good were there and the awards themselves hit all the right notes. They were gender balanced, geographically spread and every party was represented amongst the winners. Ieuan Wyn Jones was the overall winner once more, but the night really belonged to Lord Roberts of Conwy, who was given a Lifetime Achievement Award. He served as a Welsh Office Minister for fifteen and a half years in the Thatcher era and was responsible for all the major advances ...
7:21 am

Two more MPs back Huhne

Gravatar MPs Matthew Taylor (Truro and St. Austell) and John Leech (Manchester Withington) are now on board for Chris - confirming that his momentum is continuing to grow. Matthew Taylor said: “I have taken my time to decide this time, because both candidates have excellent qualities. The pressures of the campaign hustings, interviews and debates reveal a lot about leadership quality, and over and over Chris Huhne has shown experience counts when it matters most - under pressure. “I am sure Nick Clegg will one day make an excellent leader too, but Chris has shown that he has right now what ...
2:13 am

Demetri Martin's 224 word palindrome (I thought it was kinda cool)

Gravatar "Dammit I'm Mad"by Demetri MartinDammit I'm mad. Evil is a deed as I live. God, am I reviled? I rise, my bed on a sun, I melt. To be not one man emanating is sad. I piss. Alas, it is so late. Who stops to help? Man, it is hot. I'm in it. I tell. I am not a devil. I level "Mad Dog". Ah, say burning is, as a deified gulp, In my halo of a mired rum tin. I erase many men. Oh, to be man, a sin. Is evil in a clam? In a trap? No. It ...
12:42 am

Al or nothing

Gravatar Like many people, I saw only a brief clip on the news of Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. But the full speech is well worth reading, which you can do here.
12:22 am

Should the Lib Dem president be neutral in leadership elections?

Gravatar Simon Hughes has again voiced his support for Nick Clegg, this time in an article on Lib Dem Voice. But shouldn't the party's president be above the fray? It is noticeable that Vince Cable has remained scrupulously neutral. I suppose it comes down to a question I have asked before: What exactly is the Lib Dem president for? I have never been sure and I am not convinced that those holding the position have been either. My time on the party's policy committee, where the president is an ex officio member, overlapped with the start of Simon Hughes's presidency. Far ...
12:19 am

Well said, Chris!

Gravatar No, not Chris Huhne this time, but Chris Keating, who has posted this about the abhorrent practice of 'waterboarding'', in support of Amnesty International's Unsubscribe Me campaign.

Previous days:

Tuesday 11th December 2007, Monday 10th December 2007, Sunday 9th December 2007, Saturday 8th December 2007, Friday 7th December 2007, Thursday 6th December 2007