Sunday 16th December 2007

11:35 pm

John Major, Labour and sleaze

Gravatar John Major has been have a dig at New Labour for their attacks on the "sleaze" of his government when they are no better themselves. The best Labour can do in return is this from Graham Allen: "During his tenure donations were not all declare and foreign donations were commonplace. It took a Labour government to end those scandals and introduce legislation to bring greater transparency to party funding."You can hardly claim credit for passing new laws if you then go on to arrange your party's affairs so that you can get round them. It's not enough to make laws: ...
11:19 pm

Labour and health: Dying for equality

Gravatar It seems that the Labour Party believes it is better for someone to die in an equal society than to live in an unequal one. That, at any rate, is the only moral you can draw from the case of Colette Mills: Colette Mills, a former nurse, has been told that if she attempts to top up her treatment privately, she will have to foot the entire £10,000 bill for her drugs and care. The bizarre threat stems from the refusal by the government to let patients pay for additional drugs that are not prescribed on the NHS. Ministers say ...
10:30 pm

Our new leader

Gravatar Well, less than 48 hours before the result of the leadership contest is announced, I've been reflecting on the last couple of months... After working voluntarily on the Chris Huhne campaign I haven't really thought much about wider issues to do with the Lib Dem party. I was shocked at the timing of Ming's resignation and was subsequently glued to the telly and radio all evening. I heard Chris was standing and knew I was going to support him as he was my second choice last time. I agree with many people when they say both candidates are extremely talented ...
9:20 pm

Tommy Sheridan charged

Gravatar The Telegraph reports that flamboyant Socialist Tommy Sheridan, a former member of the Scottish Parliament who won a libel case famously a few months ago, has been charged with perjury. The libel case a few months ago precipitated the collapse in the Scottish Socialist Party vote in the Scottish elections which helped boost the SNP as the main socialist alternative to Labour. Although he may not be so well known "south of the border", Tommy Sheridan is a famous figure in Scotland and this is significant for this reason alone.
9:19 pm

Sheridan charged with perjury

Gravatar After 6 hours of questioning Tommy Sheridan has been charged with perjury by Lothian & Borders Constabulary. He has been released from Police custody. More to follow in due course. This one is going to be the "talk o' the steamie" here in the West of Scotland!
9:12 pm

My tuppence worth of opinion on the X Factor results

Gravatar There are plenty of conspiracy theories on the radio today about the X Factor results, with some able back up and good thoughts from Dizzy too. However, my theory has more to do with the way the timings each act had to have their votes plugged. I thought it interesting that after Leon's final song they: 1)Displayed his phone number 2)Showed a video about him and his family 3)Showed his number 4) Had an ad break with no reference to Rhydian's number before the break. However after the 5 minute break when people were voting for Leon (remember Rhydian's number ...
9:00 pm

West End Christmas Week winners!

Gravatar If you click on the headline above, you can see who won the prizes in the West End Christmas Week Window Spotting and Shoppers' Prize Draws!
8:52 pm

Toynbee vigilante

Gravatar Thanks (or 'hat-tip' as I gather we bloggers have to say) to Liberal England for drawing my attention to this post at Blood and Treasure on the evils of Polly Toynbee. As a health precaution I have had to give up buying the Guardian on days when Toynbee writes. While it is disappointing to learn that her column is still appearing, it is reassuring to know that somebody is keeping watch. With vigilantes like 'Blood and Treasure' about we may yet foil Toynbee's dastardly plan to make the state employ nannies for every member of Britain's adult population.
8:42 pm

Without a hint of irony...

Gravatar ...I now offer by own bit of praise for the great and the good. Whoever wins the Lib Dem leadership election will quickly have to appoint their new front bench team. In the last couple of weeks I hears some TV pundit (sorry can't remember who or when) say that Vince Cable might be moved from the Treasury brief to enable him to 'concentrate on being deputy leader'. I hope neither of the leadership candidates is contemplating this course of action. Deputy leader of itself is essentially a non-job, indeed it is simply deputising for the leader in the House ...
8:33 pm

Fawning on film

Gravatar Many years ago when I first came across the word 'sycophant' in print, I assumed it was pronounced 'psycho-phant'. Of course as soon as I had mispronounced it thus a couple of times in conversation, I learned my mistake. But I have always thought my original pronunciation better, capturing as it does the obsessive compulsion that some people appear to feel to fawn over and toady to their superiors. To see an example of what I mean, watch this excuciating YouTube video by Watford's ultra-loyalist, first Blairite, now Brownite, Labour MP.
8:32 pm

Winding Down or Winding Up?

Gravatar Christmas is more than a week away, but already there is an ‘end of term’ feeling to the Westminster village (lubicrated by a seemingly endless round of festive events). Yet for many within the LibDems, this is the beginning, not the end, of a period of intense campaigning activity, not least in London. On Tuesday [...]
7:29 pm

End Water Poverty

Gravatar Whilst we are rushing around sorting out not only what we are going to eat, but what we drink over Christmas, it is easy to forget that other parts of the world do not have the very basics of clean water to drink, to say nothing of proper sanitation. We were given a card from Water Aid at Church this morning about this, pointing out that in 1858 in London, children died in their thousands from...
7:18 pm

Neighbourhood E-Forums: how would you use them?

Gravatar I have a question for you, gentle readers. We -- or, rather, an estimable local resident with the support of (among others) her local councillors and under the auspices of the City Council -- have recently set up an e-forum for our ward and the neighbouring area. It's got c. 80 members having been on-line and public for only a day, and a whole range of issues are already being aired. Hoorah, I say, and then I ask: what next? I've got some ideas about what I think the forum could achieve and how it could really be e-democratic. But ...
6:46 pm

Tommy the Trot "helping police with their enquiries"

Gravatar Former MSP & former Leader of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), Tommy Sheridan, has been arrested by 3 detectives from Lothian & Borders Police at 13.10hrs this afternoon. It seems his arrest is to answer questions which allege perjury during last year's victory in his defamation case against the News of the World. Much to the surprise of many Scots, Sheridan was cleared by a jury at the end of the 4 week trial. The News of the World described his win as "perverse" and threatened to appeal. During the trial 4 of the SSP's 6 MSP's testified against Sheridan ...
6:28 pm

A matter of John Stuart Mill and hats

Gravatar This comes under the heading of "Bizarre Conversations". I was enjoying a full-on power walk around Greenham Common (above) today. The etiquette appears to be that you smile or say "hello" to people who you meet as they walk towards you, but not, I think, if there is some one off the track vaguely about 20 yards from you on the heath. Anyway, I was on the track and I noticed a lady walking
6:26 pm

Now thats what I call a doggy chew

Gravatar I thought I would follow up my earlier doggy orientated posts with this and report from southern India. A man who seeing a stray rabid dog fleeing from his compound with a duck chased after the animal, wrestled it to the ground and chewed at its throat before neighbours arrived and beat the dog to death. That must have been some duck don't you think?
6:15 pm

Weather and Xmas did not stop them voting.....

Gravatar An overcast and dull day on Friday plus proximity to Christmas did not stop over 1000 people from voting Lib Dem and contributing to another election win for Chelmsford Liberal Democrats. However, despite all the leaflets and letters, it was just as well that we kept reminding people to vote. There were still quite a few people who said "Oh, is it today?". Talking to many people in the ward in
5:56 pm

A whiff of hypocrisy from the Greens

Gravatar  So we know the real reason why Green MEP Caroline Lucas missed the Bali Conference last week. Originally, it was widely reported that she was to miss it for high minded reasons involving her carbon footprint in travelling half way round the world. A strange argument given that several other Green MEPs were attending. But [...]
5:40 pm

Maidstone Tory PPC selection proceeding

Gravatar I understand that all that unfortunate business of the initial sift at Maidstone has been sorted out and there has recently been a meeting between the constituency and the short-listed candidates. Hope it is all going well Iain!
4:37 pm

Baby Bells, Engagement Rings and a serving of Leadership

Gravatar So the D-Day is nearly here - no not Christmas - the announcement of the new Lib Dem leader. It's been a fairly quiet campaign compared to our last leadership election - but it's nearly over - hurrah - and then back on to business. I don't really mind which gets the job out of Huhne and Clegg - eithe rof them will make a positive impact on the way the Lib Dem's will head into the next set of local and General elections. I know who I personally would like to get the top job - though it is ...
3:58 pm

Ghost Stories for Christmas and Other Festive Television

Gravatar Press the red button on your digital TV right now, and you’ll see a thrilling Doctor Who preview trailer continuously advertising this Christmas Day’s big telly event – Voyage of the Damned, complete with more spooky angels, disaster movie style and added Kylie. And there’s plenty more to look forward to if you enjoy stories of the uncanny or fantastic, particularly with another season of Christmas ghost stories running this week on BBC4. A fine old Yuletide tradition and mostly taken from the works of M.R. James, tune in to know more about, well, things we’re not meant to know. ...
3:07 pm

Does size matter?

Gravatar In his column today Andrew Rawnsley writes that Nick Clegg, as an intelligent and dynamic politician, who would be cabinet-level material if he belonged to one of the bigger parties. Which begs the question; "Is it better to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond? What do YOU think?..
3:00 pm

Day 2356: No Balls Games

Gravatar Tuesday: Only a Party so UNCONTROLLABLY in love with the ideas of CENTRALISATION and NANNY KNOW BEST could possibly come up with the idea of a National Play Strategy. And only one living in COMPLETE DENIAL could forget that they themselves continued the Conservatories' policy of SELLING OFF THE SCHOOL PLAYING FIELDS! (Yes, I know THEY STARTED IT – what is this: the playground? Oh... so it is.) Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have discovered that SNEAKY Councils are using LOOPHOLES in planning law to get around the Government's restrictions on the sell-off of playing fields.
2:04 pm

Healthy relationships and our political future

Gravatar Very interesting points by Liberal Revolution (Lessons from identity politics). The conclusion – be ourselves, act normally. Good advice this for relationships of many kinds (marriages, ‘significant otherhood’, membership of political groups, even 'blogger swarms'). Looking at my friends and family over the years one indicator of a rocky relationship stands out. It is when one or more of the partners spend much of their time trying to second guess in advance what the other partner wants, moulding their behaviour and statements on these guesses and suppressing their own personalities . This goes way beyond being sensitive to the others. ...
2:01 pm

How to boost the size of your blog statistics in one easy step…

Gravatar …blog your reaction to the announcement of the new leader at around 2:30pm on Tuesday, and you could find yourself linked to from the party’s special website home page for the day.
1:00 pm

Cameron makes his move

Gravatar They may have a 13% lead in the latest opinion poll but the Tories are still worried about the impact of a new Liberal Democrat leader on their vote. That concern was underlined today with an offer from David Cameron to join forces with whoever emerges as our Leader on Tuesday so as to 'forge a new progressive alliance' to challenge Gordon Brown. Conservative Home gives the game away when they say that the Tory leader's biggest worry is the Liberal Democrats: 'ConservativeHome has called the LibDems the "bindweed" of British politics. Once LibDems invade political territory they tend to ...
12:58 pm

Is sleaze in the eye of the beholder?

Gravatar I see John Major was on Andrew Marr this morning with perhaps the most delayed repost in history. His point, that Labour are now mired in sleaze in the same way the Tories used to be, is open for debate. It does raise the question however of whether "sleaze" exists in any institutional sense, or if it only emerges when the public's tolerance for a particular party is running low. If the Bernie Ecclestone scandal happened now, would it be a bigger deal than in 1997? I suspect so. This doesn't bode well for Brown, who will probably now think ...
12:26 pm

Motorway Madness

Gravatar Have drivers in the Taunton area suddenly taken leave of their senses?
12:11 pm

My first 100 days as leader...

Gravatar I thought I would write on Jo's blog to tell you what my first 100 days are going to be like as leader. Personally I think Jo's writing is a pile of pants and she should really stop blogging with immediate effect. Her sentence structure is terrible and her jokes aren't funny at all. It's much more amusing when she blogs about human rights and it turns out she can't even be bothered to search for the most basic of facts. I mean, what was that posting about the gypsies all about? We all hate the gypos - I mean ...
12:10 pm

Medical mix-up down under

Gravatar Just when you thought nothing could top the loss of 2 CD’s containing holding bank account details of millions of parents who'd applied for child benefit up pops something even bigger. Having just read this story about a medical mix-up involving a hospital in Norfolk I can’t help worrying whether my Christmas cards will ever get through!..
11:58 am

A sign of the times

Gravatar Revered by many as the birthplace of Jesus 2,000 years ago, Bethlehem’s sentimental image is often depicted in hand-carved nativity scenes, Christmas cards and carols. However that image could soon be a thing of the past. A British-based charity and advocacy group, Amos Trust, is sponsoring, a handful of palestinian carpenters' to produce ‘walled nativity scenes’ despicting the hardships being faced by Palestinians in the town following the construction of the Israeli wall which now separates Bethlehem, a mixed Muslim and Christian town and one of the largest in the Palestinian territories, from the nearby holy city of Al-Quds. What ...
11:48 am

A Probe of They're Own

Gravatar Well they like lauching probes look at their one into cash for Honours and now it looks like the SNP are about to be probed themselves. The Lib Dems in Scotland are to call for a Parliamentary enquiry into the SNP's governments handling of the Donald Trump golfing resort planning application over recent weeks. We need transparancy and confidence in our planning procedures and just how the
11:34 am

A reason to be positive about the environment, poverty and war

Gravatar Something {Picture of the sun} that brings good news on all three would be a pretty good Christmas present for us all, wouldn't it? Well – in my speech on international development to party conference in September, I briefly touched on the question of using solar power from Africa's deserts: Let’s us be both ambitious and optimistic, particularly for sub-Saharan Africa. An area of great poverty and so often little progress. It is an area of huge potential for solar power. We have seen what wealth the oil era has brought many formerly poor areas of the world. Let’s aim ...
11:28 am

A video about Charles Roy Taylor's case

Gravatar I don't know who produced this video, but it helps in raising awareness of the situation.
11:16 am

Jimmy Page plays skiffle

Gravatar Inspired by BBC2's Culture Show, which showed a snippet of it yesterday evening, here is this Sunday's video. It features a 14-year-old Jimmy Page playing skiffle. A couple of weeks ago, writing of The Zombies and the 1960s, I asked:How was it that in the middle of that decade geeky grammar school boys suddenly found themselves able to write and perform music like this?As Mark Kermode's report for The Culture Show made clear, one of the answers is that the skiffle boom had taken place a few years before. Note too Huw Wheldon's act as a sympathetic but bemused headmaster. ...
11:10 am

'variety' dave does it again

Gravatar Reading Dave's latst burblings, this time about the LDs and Greens 'joining' the Tories in a 'progressive consensus' to force the government to decentralise, it is hard to form clear thought. However, one must try. The first response is a great sadness that I don't speak more languages, since it would be nice to set out 'no' and 'not on your life' in as many ways possible so that the notoriously dim Tory activists could be in no doubt about the response to this latest cynical overture. The second response must be a nostalgic harking back to those halcyon days ...
10:47 am

Holyrood Magazine

Gravatar As Chair of TACTRAN, the regional transport partnership for Tayside and Stirling, I was, along with the TACTRAN Director, interviewed by "Holyrood" magazine towards the end of last month. You can read the article by clicking on the headline above.
10:33 am

Vince snubs Cameron courtship

Gravatar David Cameron has made a cheeky bid for warmer relations with the Liberal Democrats and the Green party, in a posting on his blog. Vince Cable has already snubbed this cheap publicity stunt. He says: The Liberal Democrats will continue to work with other parties on issues where we have common ground and can work together [...]
9:55 am

Leader article: Peer Pressure

Gravatar A dozen years ago, when I first took my seat in the House of Lords, there were a number of self-deprecating jokes which summed up how the country saw the House of Lords and how it saw itself: There was the Peer who dreamt he was speaking in the Lords, and when he woke up [...]
9:31 am

New Theme

Gravatar After spending all week working on this new theme, it’s time to launch our new look.
9:26 am

Charles Kennedy rules out return to Lib Dem front bench

Gravatar Charles Kennedy indicated plainly and clearly to Andrew Marr this morning that he would not be returning to the Lib Dem front bench and it was his choice. The speculation had been that CK would return in a senior role under the new Lib Dem leader, but on the BBC this morning Charles said that he was very busy with The European Movement, attending party functions, AGM's, annual dinners, etc, and was also applying to be rector of Glasgow University. In many ways for the Lib Dems this is a great shame, but given all the trials and tribulations in ...
7:50 am

Show us how you are better than everyone else

Gravatar There’s still time to enter The Voice’s Leadership Election Prediction Competition. Go on, you know you want to show us all how you’re the cleverest and best informed reader of The Voice.
12:30 am

Forget sanctions or war - This is the way to really punish Iran

Gravatar Apparently Chris De Burgh is to play a concert in Iran. Who needs to bomb them or impose sanctions. Surely a Chris De Burgh concert is punishment enough ?It might also need some obvious lyric changes to his songs.
12:04 am

Time to cull bad laws in football

Gravatar It appears that running over to fans is now equivalent to kicking an opposition player waist high in a kung fu style, if you watch Premiership football that is. Today Andrew Johnson (Everton), Kilvin Etuhu (Man City) and Dimitar Berbatov (Spurs) were all booked for running over to the crowd and celebrating after scoring whilst in the Sunderland versus Aston Villa game, a Villa player kicks Dwight Yorke in a kung fu style and similarly gets a yellow card. Are the two things at all similar ? Of course not. But referees are too keen to dish out yellow cards ...

Previous days:

Saturday 15th December 2007, Friday 14th December 2007, Thursday 13th December 2007, Wednesday 12th December 2007, Tuesday 11th December 2007, Monday 10th December 2007