Thursday 27th December 2007

11:28 pm

Fixed Terms

Gravatar I would like to lend this blog's support to Iain Dale's campaign for fixed term parliaments.
11:01 pm

My book of the year

Gravatar Is Black Mass by John Gray. For a long time I wondered whether John Gray is a Liberal or not. At the last general election he voted Liberal Democrat, but his views do not fit in easily into the political spectrum and I am not clear at all about how he will vote next time. His independence from party political allegience gives him the interlectual freedom to go where he likes. For a long time I thought he may be a Conservative, in the past he really was one. Yet his critique of neo-liberalism - which he puts in the ...
10:53 pm

My Old Year Resolution

Gravatar Linda Jack tagged me recently asking me to say what my new year's resolution is (this is becoming one long sub-GCSE English classroom exercise isn't it?!) Well, I'm with Linda on the paperwork, although I probably don't have as much as her. However, I may have one day, which is why I have to get into good habits now when I don't have a huge amount to do on top of my 9-5 job. A two week holiday from work is the ideal time to start. I did set up an A4 lever arch file for my school governor role ...
10:03 pm

Gordon’s round-up of the year (minus the stinky bits)

Gravatar Over at the Number 10 website, they’re reviewing the Prime Minister’s year (well, from June onwards). All the usual favourites are there: how Gordon single-handedly disarmed terrorists in Glasgow, personally mopped-up flooded Britain, and then laid hands upon F&M-infected cattle to cure them of all diseases. The observant - and the Daily Mail - have [...]
8:00 pm

Tragedy in Pakistan

Gravatar I am currently in the Wirral with my family and have not had much time to look at the news. I was shocked therefore when I logged onto my mother's computer to post the previous entry on this blog to see the news that Benazir Bhutto has been assasinated. This act is a major blow to Pakistan and to democracy everywhere. A courageous woman, who put her life at risk to stand up for what she believed in, has paid the ultimate price. How this will impact on the region or indeed on World politics has yet to be seen. ...
7:49 pm

Benazir Bhutto

Gravatar Regardless of any opinion you may possess on her political views Bhutto was fighting against a military dictatorship for democracy in Pakistan. It is a tragedy when anyone gets killed just because they believe something different from someone else. RIP Benazir Bhutto
7:42 pm

Participative democracy

Gravatar The Welsh Assembly is about to launch its own e-petition site with a direct feed into the petitions sub-committee, so I am quite interested in this initiative by Hazel Blears for English Councils to have a legal duty to respond to a petition signed by 250 voters or 1% of the electorate. Many Councils already have mechanisms in which petitioners can directly address Councillors and get a formal response to their request. That was largely pioneered by Liberal Democrat-run Councils many years ago but there are honourable exceptions in which Labour and even Conservative run authorities have sought to take ...
7:24 pm

Scouse Hajji

Gravatar There will be no postings from The Willow Man for the next two weeks. He is going on his annual Hajji to see relatives in West Kirby, Liverpool, Sandbach and Southport. However, do not fear, unlike The Cowley Street Bedouin he shall return!
7:23 pm

Ron Paul on Freedom from Government

Gravatar Hat tip to the Libertarian Alliance for this pointer to a nice quote from Ron Paul about "big government". I'm not as convinced as some libertarians about Ron Paul's own credentials to say I would support him but here's the quote anyway - something Liberal Democrats should remember when the cry of "Something Must be Done" goes up: What Does Freedom Really Mean? Few Americans understand that all government action is inherently coercive. If nothing else, government action requires taxes. If taxes were freely paid, they wouldn’t be called taxes, they’d be called donations. If we intend to use the ...
7:17 pm

Darkness Falls

Gravatar Rest in Peace, Benazir. Tonight I am fearful of what the consequences of this might be for the world... More bloodshed? A new regime in Pakistan? There can be a chilling wind blowing out of Rawalpindi in the winter.... Photo: Getty Images
6:58 pm

Eight for 2008

Gravatar Jonathan Calder has just infected me with the “Eight for 2008” viral meme. The contagion was first inflicted on the blogosphere on Christmas Eve by Iain Dale, who appears to have caught it off a slightly mouldy Jack Russell. The idea is to list eight things you’d like to see happen in 2008, and pass on the plague to another five victims. Here are mine: 1. Lib Dems regularly polling 23% of the vote. If we’re polling better than we did at the last general election, we’ll have successfully drawn a line under a miserable couple of years. 2. A ...
6:25 pm

Patronising the little women - the Gender Balance Blog Awards

Gravatar Will Howells has meme tagged me to come up with some nominations for the Gender Balance Awards. This, I was shocked to discover, isn't about honouring hermaphrodites that blog (Gender Balance... they've got it as they have both male and female genitals. No? Fine, you try writing something witty after gaining three stone in four days) but rather honouring these wee little ladies that have both the
6:23 pm

Opinion: We don’t do God?

Gravatar As millions of Britons make their annual visit to church and we learn that our new leader, Nick Clegg, “Doesn’t do God” (so to speak), is it time for the Liberal Democrats to rethink their relationship with faith communities? Liberalism and religion have not always been happy bedfellows. However, even as Richard Dawkins tops the best-seller [...]
6:07 pm

Let's not forget

Gravatar What a sad day for democracy. What a sad day for us all. Like many commentators who have gone before me I too condemn those responsible for the murder of Pakistani opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto. However, let's not forget 16 other people died today. What of them and their families? Are they any less important?
5:57 pm

Number 2 in Iain Dale's end of year blog awards

Gravatar Thank you to all those people who voted my blog as the number 2 Lib Dem blog in Iain Dale's end of year blog awards. I know many of you (both Lib Dem and non Lib Dems) disagree with me on many things, but the debate and your comments are always appreciated.
5:55 pm

My old year resolution

Gravatar Linda Jack asks me to name my "old year resolution" - something I mean to get done before the end of this year. That's easy. Looking back on 2007, I have not spent half enough time in Shropshire. So on Sunday I shall be going there to see in the new year.
5:35 pm

A Dose of Eno’s

Gravatar Tonight’s London ‘Evening Standard’ works itself up into a lather over a statement by Brian Eno — Nick Clegg’s new Youth Guru — that Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons is partly the West’s fault; in his words, ‘we have left Iran really with only one rational option’. Typically, Labour’s John Spellar has tried to make [...]
5:34 pm

Nick Clegg, God and the truth

Gravatar This is bizarre. Truly bizarre. From The Bolton News: Bolton Council chief Cllr Cliff Morris says new Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg made "a big mistake" in telling a radio show he did not believe in God.Mr Clegg answered "no" when asked the question in a rapid-fire BBC Radio 5 Live interview.But Cllr Morris, a committed evangelical Christian, who is an Elder at the Hebren Christian Church in Mayor Street, said: "I think he has made a big mistake and I don't know why he has said it."The only interpretation I can put upon Cllr Morris's words is that he ...
5:15 pm

Liberal Voice of Two Faaaaasan’ Sevun

Gravatar The website / blog ‘Liberal Democrat Voice’ has began a poll to find the ‘Liberal Voice’ of 2007. This cunning contrivance has had the chattering classes, from Croydon to Chesham, cavorting over their cold, crisp chardonnay. The winner will be a non-Liberal-Democrat who we, the torch-holders of liberalism, deem to have done well for our cause during the calendar year. Orange By Name has held several seminars over the Winterval period consulting everyone inside Orange By Name HQ (and Julian H’s mum) on this issue. Five bottles of pinot noir later, the committee has its nominations: Philippe Legrain Philippe is ...
4:43 pm

Where are the Association of Countryside Liars ?

Gravatar I seem to recall a few years ago the Tory front organisation called the Countryside Alliance claiming that if a ban on fox hunting was introduced we would see; a) All the hunts in the country closing. b) All the hounds being put down. c) Thousands of country "folk" losing their jobs d) The countryside overrun with foxes. As none of these things have actually happened and hunts seem to be thriving without having to chase foxes, are we to presume the Countryside Alliance are a bunch of liars ?
4:30 pm

Clegg on Bhutto’s assassination: “This is a dark day”

Gravatar Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has issued his response to the shock assassination of Pakistan’s former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto: “This is a dark day for everyone who believed in a stable and democratic future for Pakistan. “Benazir Bhutto was a courageous politician known throughout the world, not just Pakistan, for her forthright and sometimes controversial views. “Her [...]
4:26 pm

Bhutto assassinated

Gravatar The former prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated whilst campaigning for her Pakistan Peoples Party in the upcoming elections which were due to take place on 8th January.  According to the BBC Ms Bhutto had just addressed an election rally in Rawalpindi when she was shot in the neck by a gunman [...]
4:14 pm

Opinion: What should the new leader do in his first 100 days? #7

Gravatar Dear Nick, If you and you staff have the time, I’ve made many comments over the past two months about how the party needs reforming and reorganising. But that’s not the object of today. I want to talk to you about the most important meeting of your first 100 days. A meeting, of course, that according to [...]
4:10 pm

When your security services work hand in hand with terrorists, what chance do Pakistanis have ?

Gravatar For many years it has been known that the Pakistani Security Services (the ISS) have been working with Islamist groups, many often loosely allied to The Taliban, to fight a proxy war against India in Kashmir. The ISS too has had been the chief arms supplier and trainer of The Taliban up until six years ago, and according to some observers, this is still going on covertly. So given the close relationship with these groups, how can the ISS provide security in Pakistan from Islamic terrorists ? Obviously, as today's shock events highlight, they can't. The death of Benazir Bhutto ...
3:48 pm

8 for 2008

Gravatar Paul Evans has tagged me as part of Iain Dale's meme, where I have to name 8 things that I hope to see happen in 2008. So, here we go: 1) An Obama/Biden ticket for the Democrats 2) A Patriots/Red Sox/Celtics sweep of the major American Sports 3) I get a place to do my PhD 4) Some signs that Pakistan moderates and unifies the North West Frontier Province, Waziristan and Quetta. In light of the tragic assasination of Benazir Bhutto, this wish may be forlorn. 5) Medvedev turns out to be a more liberal Russian president than Putin 6) ...
3:27 pm

Seeing friend

Gravatar One of the best things about the festive period is being able to catch up with friends, this afternoon I caught up with my friends Nicola, Simon and their son Alex. We had a bit of a lazy lunch and a good catch-up.
3:03 pm

Labour promote BNP in Sandwell by-election

Gravatar As if the excitement of the Princes End by-election wasn’t enough, attention has now turned to Newton ward, a rare Lib Dem stronghold in Sandwell. This was of course the seat held by Martyn Smith for the best part of 30 years until his death a few months ago. I have in my hand a Labour leaflet currently being delivered in the ward. On the reverse there is a feedback survey with a box for voting intentions. The parties are listed in the following order: Labour, BNP, Conservative, Lib Dem, Other. For the last five years there has not been ...
2:18 pm

Benazir Bhutto is killed

Gravatar What an awful end to 2007! The moment there is some hope in Pakistan, it is snatched away. May she rest in peace, and I hope that some sense comes from this appalling nadir in Pakistani affairs.
2:11 pm

Benazir Bhutto Killed

Gravatar I have just heard the shocking news that the former prime minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto has been killed by shots to the head and chest in Rawalpindi. The BBC News reported that she died following a suicide bomb attack at 13.16 GMT, while out campaigning for the elections due to be held in January. I was alerted by my colleague, Mohammed Shafiq, EMLD member from Rochdale, and spokesperson for the Ramadhan Foundation. He has been interviewed live on Sky News as to the reaction of the Pakistani community here in the UK. He told that it was one of ...
2:03 pm

Benazir Bhutto assassination - a tragedy, not just for Pakistan

Gravatar It has been a constant worry since she returned to Pakistan, that Benazir Bhutto would make the ultimate sacrifice for what she believed and thus it has proved. Whatever we think about Pakistani politics no one can fail to have been impressed by the courage of this woman. In this country the most we are asked to sacrifice for our political beliefs is our reputation or our dignity, whatever her faults she has always been a huge hero of mine and her loss is a loss to us all. My condolences to all those of my friends who loved her ...
2:00 pm

Bubbling Under...

Gravatar I am not quite sure what I have done to deserve such support from Iain Dale, but yet again I seem to have come surprisingly high in one of his blog lists. Admittedly it is like being nominated for one of the lesser species of Oscar- best sound mixing, for example- when a Conservative blogger nominates a blog from a different party. The only thing is that this time it was a rather broader selection of his readers- apparently over 2,300 made the choices in a very large number of categories. So, in the circumstances to get 6% of the ...
1:57 pm

Benazir Bhutto Killed in Rawalpindi Rally

Gravatar In October when Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan only for her cavalcade to be subject to suicide bombers I did asked where next? With the elections less than 2 weeks away on 8 January, she was out at a rally in Rawalpindi when yet again she was subject to a suicide bomber. At the moment this attempt appears to have claimed significantly fewer lived than the 130 who died on the day of her
1:49 pm

Eight for 2008

Gravatar On Christmas Eve Iain Dale tagged me with a new meme, asking me to give my eight wishes for 2008. I am never sure how personal to be on such occasions, remembering a story from Read My Lips by Matthew Parris and Phil Mason: In 1948, a Washington radio station contacted ambassadors in the capital, asking what each would most like for Christmas. Britain's representative, Sir Oliver Franks, mistook the request.French Ambassador: Peace throughout the world.Soviet Ambassador: Freedom for all people enslaved by imperialism.Sir Oliver: Well, it's very kind of you to ask. I'd quite like a box of crystallized ...
1:40 pm

Sofas for a pound, and people going genuinely mad

Gravatar Despite being about to move house, the thought of venturing into town and joining the eighteen billion other people thronging Market Street in search of a deal still doesn’t appeal. I should really be taking advantage. As well as purchasing the house itself, we need pretty much everything necessary to fill it, and now is probably the best time to snap up a bargain. I need just about every item of furniture for every room. We have relied on Tamsin’s parents hand-me-downs for about as long as we can stomach it. The sofas are so old that Joseph slept on ...
12:20 pm

Target Ward Criteria

Gravatar Help me out on this one - If you can imagine a parliamentary constituency with no LD Councillors and no target wards where do you start ? So you begin to target one ward - what criteria should you use to choose the ward. All of the wards are currently Tory held, all quite comfortably. The Labour party is fairly inactive. You have a core of maybe half a dozen activists available to work the ward. Here we go: 1. Last LD Vote 2. Maximum LD vote in recent elections 3. Margin behind winning Party (i.e. Tory Vote) 4. Margin ...
11:32 am

My 8 Wishes for 2008

Gravatar Paul W tagged me with these so here goes: Above everything real progress on the peace process in Israel/Palestine. Sometimes I can't even listen to the news reports anymore they are so despairing. Thus the news yesterday that the Israelis are demonstrating their commitment to this process by continuing to illegally build on occupied land beggars belief. How can anyone take their so called desire for peace seriously when they continue to flout international law? How does building an apartheid wall and deliberately stealing Palestinian land in the process contribute to peace? I have said it before and will say ...
11:31 am

Cowley Street Bedouin

Gravatar I would like to assure you all that the Cowley Street Bedouin was never a figment of anyone’s imagination, he most certainly did exist. However, due to circumstances beyond his control, Cowley Street Bedouin has indeed, posted his last blog on ‘Lib Dem Blogs’. "The King is dead, long live the King".
11:25 am

Digital TV - is anyone else annoyed?

Gravatar I’m back from Christmas excess now, although with eight tons of chocolate and thirty bags of crisps in the house I don’t think the excess itself will stop with my return. I read a blog post by a fellow Lib Dem Councillor, James Barber, today. It was about the digital switchover and the money we all have to pay for new equipment. James calls it a regressive tax and I have to say that I share some of his concerns. We are being forced by the government to pay for set top boxes or new TVs (or Sky) whether we ...
11:17 am

High Hopes

Gravatar My top 10 hopes for 2008  1.      Tony Blair will succeed where others have failed in brokering a lasting peace between the Palestinians and the State of Israel 2. &...
10:55 am

Welcome Baby Langston Holmes

Gravatar Congratulations to Faye Langston and Ian Holmes and welcome to their, as yet unnamed son, who was born at 5.53 this morning weighing in at 8lb.
10:30 am

Men and women are different

Gravatar 10. Men appreciate the importance of a 42 inch plasma screen. Women do not. 9. Women know that washing machines have programmes for every kind of fabric, colour and quantity and use them appropriately. Men will put a month’s supply of laundry through the 40 degree cycle, regardless of any other detail. 8. Woman can look at a sexy man and not be noticed. Men just stare. 7. At a wedding, women cry, and then get drunk. Men get drunk, and then cry. 6. For men, 2am is a time for sleep. For women, 2am is time for a discussion ...
10:15 am

Food for thought - a Fairtrade Christmas video

Gravatar This is a must watch. Hat tip to Focus on Sodbury, Yate and Dodington.
10:14 am

The Weakness of Giants

Gravatar 2008 is the year of the Beijing Olympics, so it seems quite likely that there will be much discussion of China over the coming year. Doubtless, there will be much portentous commentary, especially from US commentators, who have always had a fascination with the only country likely to challenge American hegemony at least in the short run. In the end, I think a new sense of balance will emerge. The supposed threats or challenges of China to the West are also matched by some dramatic weakness. Although the country has become the workshop of the world, the financial system remains ...
9:58 am

Has the Cowley Street Bedouin fallen into a quicksand?

Gravatar Did the Cowley Street Bedouin actually exist? Or was he just a figment of my imagination? In my hazy nostalgic memory I vaguely recall highly balanced and equivocal postings during the leadership contest (which I seem to distantly remember may have been ever-so slightly on the side of Nick Clegg - occasionally). Now all that's left of the fellow is a series of uncached Google search results and
9:28 am

Nick Clegg on Radio Five Live in full

Gravatar I have now got round to listening to the whole of Nick Clegg's "quickfire" questioning on Radio Five Live on Nicky Campbell and Victoria Darbyshire's Breakfast show. It's worth listening to the whole thing. There are some interesting questions and answers in it, and I think that, on the whole, Nick does extremely well. It's available to listen to here.
9:06 am

Food and exercise

Gravatar We have entered the twilight zone between Christmas and New Year, when some of us go back to work, whilst others take the opportunity to relax with their families. It is also that time of the year when we start to take stock of the damage we have done to our bodies over the last two days. Perhaps a brisk walk might help or is it about time that we joined a gym? Intuitively, the Western Mail (and no doubt other papers I have not had time to read yet), have the solution, a series of stories on health and ...
8:58 am

The Sun highlights Nick Clegg's stand against "scrooge" MOD

Gravatar It is great to a see a "Sun exclusive" today accompanied by a large photograph of Nick Clegg, under the title, "Our Boys ripped off by the MOD": SCROOGE MoD chiefs are making a fortune by charging forces’ charities for holding fundraising events on military land. Warped ministry rules — exposed by The Sun today — mean do-gooders have to pay full commercial rents for their events. ...New
8:56 am

Nick Clegg and the countryside in the Telegraph

Gravatar The Telegraph seems to be getting positively haliographic in respect to Nick Clegg. Today he gets a mention in an article on the countryside by Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph: It has traditionally been the Liberal Democrats who have contested rural Britain, often successfully, with the Tories and Nick Clegg, the new Liberal Democrat leader, says that he likes nothing more than a hike in the
8:41 am

Ealing Studios re-awaken for St Trinian's

Gravatar Ealing Studios re-awaken for St Trinian's
7:50 am

Thaksin to return?

Gravatar Thaksin Shinawatra gave a press conferenece in Hong kong on Christmas Day in which he stated that he will  ‘explore options’ in February with regard to returning to Thailand.  He went on to state that he would not resume his career in politics. More details here. Meanwhile People Power Party leader and would be Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej has scheduled a [...]
2:22 am

Moments of 2007

Gravatar I went to help out at our Sedgefield by-election campaign this year where we hugely increased our vote and hammered Labours. It was a really great weekend and I felt really proud to be part of such a committed group of people fighting for the Lib Dem cause. A few people that I know are on this video at our candidates campaign launch in Trimdon in the Sedgefield constituency. I don't quite know
2:00 am

Wishlist for 2008

Gravatar I'm sure there will be loads of stuff I leave off here but these are just some of my thoughts on what I would like to happen in the New Year. 1. George Dubya to decide he's tired of being President and to stand down straight after the election which a Democrat (any Democrat, well almost any!) will win. 2. The Lib Dems to be consistently polling in the mid 20s. 3. British troops to be pulled
1:29 am

Food for thought - a Fairtrade Christmas video

Gravatar Click on the arrow to start.

Previous days:

Wednesday 26th December 2007, Tuesday 25th December 2007, Monday 24th December 2007, Sunday 23rd December 2007, Saturday 22nd December 2007, Friday 21st December 2007