Saturday 22nd December 2007

10:34 pm

Does anything matter apart from meeting their targets ?

Gravatar I was surpriised to get a message from Mary Reid that she has nominated my for the Gender Balance Task Force woman blogger of the year, for both this blog and for the best post, citing the post I did on April 29th this year about the asyulum monologues. That post, on my Mayoral Blog whilst I was Mayor of Stockton, took a lot of writing, and even more getting through the Council system. However...
10:28 pm

Clegg calls for inquiry into Balir's role in dropping Saudi investigation

Gravatar It is good to see Nick Clegg keeping up his visibility. He has tonight strongly criticised the role of Tony Blair in the dropping of the Al Yamamah investigation following the revelation of a letter from Tony Blair dated 8th December 2006: The letter, written to Lord Goldsmith, then Attorney General, implies that Blair saw the potential loss of a Typhoon jet contract as a secondary consideration
9:02 pm


Gravatar After a long time of simmering, I feel the need finally to get this off my chest. What is the English obsession with Cheddar all about? Cheese shops* will differ, of course, but most of us buy our cheese at supermarkets, and the choice we find at those remarkable emporia is - about 93 different kinds of Cheddar, and a few packs of other kinds (that's leaving aside Kraft, Philadelphia, etc, that don't deserve the name of cheese). Tesco, not my favourite at the moment, actually do better at this than some other supermarkets. They have the 93 varieties of ...
8:47 pm

New Lib Dem leader calls for Al Yamamah investigation

Gravatar {Nick Clegg} Tony Blair’s role in the blocking of a criminal investigation into the Al Yamamah arms deal should be investigated by an independent inquiry, says newly elected Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg. In a sign that he will continue the tough line taken by previous Liberal Democrat leaders, Mr Clegg responded to the publication of a letter from then Prime Minister Tony Blair to the Attorney General saying its contents confirmed his “very worst fears”. As the BBC reports: The letter from Mr Blair to Lord Goldsmith dated 8 December 2006 was released to the High Court during a ...
8:21 pm

BNP in Disarray

Gravatar I have to confess to a certain Schadenfreude over the recent divisions within the British National Party. In a scenario worthy of an airport novel, the leadership has been accused of spying, theft and money-launchering. A number of key activists have broken away, to set up the ‘Real BNP’. An official BNP spokesman has tried to [...]
6:58 pm

Can an atheist be a fundamentalist?

Gravatar Barry Morgan, the archbishop of Wales, has complained about a phenomenon which he calls 'atheistic fundamentalism'. According to the archbishop, it is every bit as dangerous as Biblical or Islamic fundamentalism. It consists primarily of the belief that "religion in general and Christianity in particular have no substance", and indeed the belief that they are "superstitious nonsense". I have trouble seeing what is quite so fundamentalist about this viewpoint. Surely it's normal for atheists to believe that religion has no substance? If atheists didn't think that Christianity was "supserstitious nonsense", they probably wouldn't be atheists in the first place. The ...
6:55 pm

Nick Clegg's forebears

Gravatar The Daily Telegraph gently shakes our new leader's family tree. And don't forget Moura Budberg.
6:46 pm

Tony Blair does the Vatican Rag

Gravatar You can tell that it is a slow news day when the BBC news website is leading with the 'news' that Tony Blair has converted to Catholicism. Not sure when man does something that it has been well known he was going to do for years actually became news, nor why the BBC thinks that former prime minister decides to believe in slightly different version of fairy story is more important than say ... (
6:39 pm

Rogue anorak

Gravatar From the Shropshire Star: A man with an obsession for buses, has been jailed for two years after stealing six from depots in Telford and Shifnal over the past two years.
6:30 pm

Blair converts to Catholicism

Gravatar The main headline today is that Tony Blair has converted to Catholicism. Why he waiting until he had left office is beyond me, if he had converted in office it would have sent a clear messgae out that Catholics are not and should not be second class citizens in this country. They is much much anti-Catholic legislation on the statute books - all of which should be repealed.
6:28 pm

Starkey lays into Queen as 'poorly educated'

Gravatar The Guardian reports: As the country's most high-profile historian of the British monarchy, one might expect David Starkey to take a warm view of the house of Windsor.But in a week in which the Queen overtook Victoria as Britain's longest-lived monarch, Starkey has delivered a less than rose-tinted verdict on the head of state, accusing her of philistinism and being uninterested in her
6:27 pm

Campaign for Gender Balance: Women’s Blog Awards

Gravatar Having put aside my worries about awards that only women can win, I’ve decided to write up my own nominations. For best blog by a female lib dem, I nominate The People’s Republic of Mortimer although, because Alix has nominated this blog for the same award I understand that this begins to look a bit like Eurovision Song Contest voting. However, my nomination is sincere because, quite frankly, Alix doesn’t just write my favourite blog by a lib dem woman: She writes my favourite blog full stop. The republic is highly original - the irony of a liberal blog using ...
6:27 pm

Swap Shop returns / Rebus McTaggart / National Gallery

Gravatar Swap Shop is back!/ / Rebus McTaggart is a hoot / / The National Gallery
5:28 pm

Welcome good sense from Toynbee on Christmas

Gravatar Polly Toynbee has written a heartening article in the Guardian on the attitude of non-believers to Christmas: Sorry to disappoint, but it's nonsense to suggest we want to ban Christmas. In particular, Toynbee reveals her enlightened attitude to "Christian myths": The loss of classical mythology has made much poetry, art and literature incomprehensible to most people. The loss of Christian
5:23 pm

Scum on Sunday doing the Tories dirty work ?

Gravatar I've never been a fan of the Mail or any of that group of papers. I remember learning that they supported Hitler up until about 1940, and certainly through start of the subjugation of the Jews in the late 1930's, and ever since then have simply printed Tory Press releases, unchecked and unedited. to describe The Daily Mail or it's Sunday version as a newspaper is to do a disservice to proper newspapers (the old broadsheets) who at least have so modicum of impartiality. So why is the mail on Sunday trying to make a story out of nothing by ...
4:53 pm

Clegg to back a 'Campaign to Win' the London Mayoral Contest

Gravatar I am delighted to report that the early indications from Nick and his newly appointed lieutenants are that they have moved very quickly to give full backing for a' proper' London Mayoral campaign. Unless there is a competitive By-Election the first big electoral test for Nick will be in May. There are elections in Wales and the usual 'Thirds' councils but most attention will inevitably be draw to London where there have been no elections for 2 years and the GLA and Mayor are up for election. With the greatest respect to both GLA constituency and list candidates their campaigns ...
4:28 pm

Lembit and an impact

Gravatar Lembit gets some humerous attention in his life, but one of his specials subjects may put him in serious news come January. Yes it is the danger of an impact from an asteroid or comet, with the news that an asteroid is fairly likely to crash into a planet on January 30th 2008. Fortunately, this is into Mars not the planet hosting Estonia, Moldova and Montgomeryshire. The Red Planet may find itself in the cross-hairs next month. According to, scientists at the Near Earth Object Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory believe a newly discovered asteroid has a 1 ...
4:24 pm

Blair's 'New Catholicism'?

Gravatar Reading the news that Tony Blair has converted to Catholicism is quite puzzling. There are many catholics in this country who will acknowledge that he has been accepted into their church. However, as a Liberal they will not accept him into their hearts. They will view him with huge skepticism. This is the man, after all, who slackened the law on abortion and introduced pro-gay legislation when Prime Minister. Is this all to be forgotten in the same way that people have been hit by a bout of amnesia when assessing Gordon Brown's record as chancellor? As Fraser Nelson has ...
3:50 pm

Not a leg to cook

Gravatar I want turkey drumsticks this year. Not a whole turkey. This is for reasons of cooking a carnivore option in the spare oven space of a largely vegetarian seasonal meal. And the carnivores concerned prefer the dark meat to the breast meat anyway. So I must be in luck, given the modern supermarket habit of selling prepared turkeys with just the breast and wings. Must be lots and lots of drumsticks going cheap on the side, you would think. Er, no. Much trawling and asking of questions of bemused shop staff found nothing. So this morning I abandoned my TESCO/Waitrose/M+S ...
3:11 pm

I know which one I prefer

Gravatar As a non believer in any god of any religion, but as someone who is tolerant towards other people's views, I am so pleased it was Nick Clegg who announced he does not believe in god and Tony Blair who has become a Catholic. Had it been that Tony Blair was not a believer, like me, and I had something in common with a pathological liar whose warmongering has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, I'd have been gutted. As it is Tony Blair proves my point, that you don't have to be a Christian to ...
3:04 pm

United do the double over the Rovers with another late goal

Gravatar An all action start at Elland Road today and an early substitution for Bristol Rovers when Joe Jacobson was replaced by Chris Carruthers, following a clash of heads with United's David Prutton. Prutton required stitches but was back on the pitch after only a few minutes. Jermaine Beckford headed against the bar from 12 yards in the third minute. The fast flowing action, mainly due to long balls, continued through to half time with the only real chances going to Beckford, who was Leeds best striker by far. Tresor Kandol had made little impact on the game in the first ...
2:45 pm

Something for the Weekend: Little Saint Nick

Gravatar In the words of the legendary Noddy Holder, IT’S CHRISTMAS!!! I love everything about this time of year: angels playing in the snow, logs atop the Christmas tree, kids on the fire. And everyone struck down with wintry viruses. Still, it’s Saturday so I’ve dragged my flu-ravaged self from my sickbed to bring you 2007’s penultimate Something [...]
2:35 pm

Too busy to blog…

Gravatar I was going to write a post about being too busy to blog cos of all the pre Christmas stuff to do. But I’m too busy. So I will merely share this overheard in N1 today. Harassed-looking Dad to lagging tot “Come on, Jake”. Jake: “Are we going to see the monster now?” Dad “No, [...]
2:31 pm

Tory Front Organisation Exposed!

Gravatar When I was a Young Liberal, our then Leader, a chap called Peter Hain (whatever happened to him?) called the Daily Mail, 'the litmus paper of latent English Fascism'. Today, a colleague reports that the Daily Mail contacted him trying to make something out of the fact that he made a donation to Nick Clegg's leadership campaign. Which all goes to prove that the Tories, despite their denials, are really panicked about Nick. After all, the Tories would never do anything they couldn't get a front organisation to do. I guess they learnt it from the Socialist Workers Party. ...
1:48 pm

The Deal of the Decade

Gravatar Or indeed for considerably longer but the cheap alliteration is to appealing. After a very Long fight Leeds City Council has agreed to transfer the former Headingley Primary School site ( on a 125 year lease) to a local residents cooperative. This is about as exciting an experiment in mutualism. The Headingley Development Trust ( HDT) will refurbish it as HEART ( Headingley Enterprise and Arts centre.) This blog could be accused of many things but it isn't partisan. However on this occasion its a distinctively liberal achievement and I'm particularly grateful to Greg Mulholland MP for all his support ...
1:43 pm

Season’s Greetings!

Gravatar I brought my school marking bag home for the holidays yesterday. It’s heavy and bulky and I’m actually looking forward to being able to spend time mulling over my student’s work rather than whizzing through it at the usual term-time high rate of knots! I miss them all in the holidays – well almost all of them – and hope they will be safe and careful – they are 16-19 year olds and not all are
1:35 pm

More on LCOs

Gravatar The Welsh Affairs Committee has finally got around to publishing a report on one of the Assembly Government's bids for extra powers. It is about time. At this rate the referendum will be upon us before we get the chance to exercise any primary law-making powers at all. I may be repeating myself but I felt that there was more than a little bit of control-freakery in the comments of MPs on the process itself. According to the media the Committee criticised the Assembly Government for publishing its requests for extra power too quickly. They say that this has made ...
1:29 pm

Tony Blair joins Catholic faith

Gravatar Well I suppose it was inevitable. I am still a little worried that the British taxpayer paid for a visit from Tony Blair to the Pope, just a few days before he left Number Ten. It seems such a blurring on his personal and his professional lives that he should have coughed up for the expense.
1:28 pm

Nick Clegg excels on Today

Gravatar A combination of a wonderfully long lie-in and problems with RAM defaults means that I have only just listened to Nick Clegg on Today this morning. I thought Nick did extremely well. At long last he has had a chance to start to flesh out his vision for public services, which so excited me when I interviewed him with other bloggers. Both on health and education, Nick put flesh on the bones of
1:26 pm

Clegg - the entomological namesake

Gravatar We were given a little biology lesson on Today this morning. Laura Kuenssberg told us all about a clegg (pictured above): The male clegg drinks nectar, and sucks blood. It's is an old word for a gadfly - an insect which hops from one thing to another, irritating livestock and rarely settling in one place. Nick Clegg, its namesake, will hope there is more political sweetness than bleeding
1:25 pm

Secularism: Good for All Believers and None

Gravatar The question of what role religious belief should have in public life is one that has been around since the inception of religion itself, although serious debate on the issue, at least in this country, can only really be said to have begun during that period known as the Enlightenment. Here, religion (or rather the Anglican Church) plays a huge de jure role in the governing of this country, while in the United States, its de facto role is infinitely greater, for all the country's constitutional secularism. Before i examine the issue in more detail, it is worth identifying and ...
1:22 pm

Shambo Shambles

Gravatar I wish that I could say that this was £200,000 well-spent but I cannot. It is the equivalent to the annual starting salaries of 9.5 nurses or 9.3 teachers. I know that the government had no choice and that the whole saga was necessary in order to prevent the risk of these animals passing on bovine TB to humans and other animals but still. As the government spokesperson said: “The decision was not taken lightly and it was a difficult situation for all concerned. TB is, however, a serious health issue amongst cattle in parts of Wales. “It is also ...
12:28 pm

Women..........what are they good for...certainly not blogging!

Gravatar Having been rather distracted with work and parties over the last couple of days I am entering the women bloggers debate rather late. As I have commented before, it has been great to see an explosion of prolific women bloggers join the blogosphere over recent months. What the guys don't seem to get is that if you are in a minority you are acutely aware of it. So Jonathan's complaint about why we need a women's blogging award "are we the weaker sex?" rather misses the point. Going into broken record mode I wonder how many all white male gatherings ...
11:49 am

Blair did interfere in BAE investigation

Gravatar Remember Tony Blair saying the investigation in to fraud over the BAE contract with Saudi Arabia was dropped because of national security concerns ? Apparently just days before it was dropped, Blair raised concerns about the investigation at the very highest level. So no surprises there. It appears wight until the end, Blair was still a liar.
11:41 am

A triple dose of Nick Clegg in the media (updated)

Gravatar Let’s hope Nick Clegg got all his Christmas shopping finished before he was elected leader, because he looks just a mite busy getting lots of media coverage at the moment. This morning, he was on Radio 4′ s Today in the coveted 8:10am slot (listen again here for up to seven days or read about it here), whilst [...]
11:35 am

Sarkozy shows that France is becoming more mature

Gravatar Throughout my lifetime France has been synonymous with talking the talk, but rarely walking the walk. When it comes to paying for the return of hostages, offering safe haven to Islamists (the Ayatollah), refusing to allow its airspace to be used by other NATO countries or simply being intransigent and anti American at all times, France has shown a degree of immaturity in its dealings with the US and the UK. Now don't get me wrong, I am no lover of all the things the US government does. but in the case of Iraq and the war in 2003, France ...
11:25 am

Starting Again

Gravatar A cyber disaster means I am having to re create the blog. It'll take a while. Please bear with me!
10:58 am

Nick Clegg on Today

Gravatar Nick was on Today this morning. You can listen to it here via a couple of options.
10:33 am

Girlpower; The pseudo-feminism that ends at 30...

Gravatar ... and only then if you are good looking. It was a welcome change listening to Today this morning to Germaine Greer being interviewed. The problem with Germaine Greer is that she often becomes the story herself, but in this case it was her opinions that I want to consider. There are plenty of women who are enthusiatic about the "girlpower" of the Spice girls which surfaced many years ago. The way in which this "power" works is that if you dress in a sexy way, you can get men to do what you like. Well maybe if you are ...
10:24 am

Dealers Choice - Trafalger Studios

Gravatar A couple of evenings heavy drinking have wiped from my mind all the clever things I was going to say about Sam West's revival of Dealers Choice which has won a deserved west end transfer from the Menier. Suffice to say I really enjoyed Marber's study of the losers who congregate in the basement of a restaurant to fritter away their earnings at the poker table. For a more considered view see
10:02 am

Opinion: Councillors Commission report - why it shouldn’t be ignored

Gravatar The launch of the report of the Councillors Commission earlier this month was largely knocked out of the media by larger news stories, but the report deserves more than to be relegated to a gather dust on a Whitehall shelf. Before I saw the report it was described to me as “one third brilliant, one third [...]
8:55 am

Conservative councillor sacked after accusing council of corruption

Gravatar It’s happened in the London Borough of Sutton: A Cheam councillor has been disqualified for a year after being found guilty of breaching the councillors’ code of conduct. Eleanor Pinfold was stripped of her title today after a councillors’ watchdog [the Standards Board] found she had used brash and offensive language when communicating with council officers and [...]
8:49 am

Craig Brown’s Lib Dem 2008

Gravatar Satirist Craig Brown has been sharing his premonitions for 2008 with readers of the Telegraph. It turns out the second-half of the year will feature positive revelations on a major new pool of Liberal Democrat support: Marine biologists who have spent years studying the click-and-whistle sounds made by dolphins have at last cracked the code, and [...]
7:50 am

Policies of the Puea Pandin Party

Gravatar Puea Pandin Party  Build a dual track rail system and operate express trains across the country  Extend and speed up electric train projects in Bangkok  Develop inland water transportation system  Set up an SME venture capital fund worth 10 billion Baht  Raise the amount of the village fund to between 3 and 5 million Baht per village  Establish a price guarantee [...]

Previous days:

Friday 21st December 2007, Thursday 20th December 2007, Wednesday 19th December 2007, Tuesday 18th December 2007, Monday 17th December 2007, Sunday 16th December 2007