Saturday 29th December 2007

11:13 pm

Phil O'Donnell's death puts football in perspective

Gravatar To think, there I was this evening feeling gutted about Everton losing 4-1 to Arsenal, then I read about the sudden and tragic death, after a seizure, of Motherwell captain Phil O'Donnell, and suddenly Everton's defeat is put in to perspective as really not being the end of the world. My thoughts and best wishes are with Motherwell and Phil O'Donnell's friends and family.
10:29 pm

Who says the BNP are not racist?

Gravatar We all know the BNP whip up fear within local communities, but have they now sank to a new low? The latest edition of their party newspaper, which has landed on the doorstep of Loughton residents, promotes their new 'general election' song. Lyrics which only go to prove that they have racist views, such as: As the school you pass, you'll see a mass of kids, And not one's white, ethnicity,
10:28 pm

Nick Clegg appeals for co-operation to fix "Britain's broken political system"

Gravatar Nick Clegg has appealed for co-operation from Gordon Brown and David Cameron to fix "Britain's political system": Our system of government is the stage on which the battle of political ideas takes place. That system must be fair, accessible and strong. In its present state, I do not know a single person who would use those words to describe it. Members of Britain's political establishment
10:25 pm

Disturbing events in Kenya

Gravatar After a glimmer of hope, events have taken a disturbing turn in Kenya, as highlighted by Lord Steel: This afternoon with 21 seats still to be declared the Commission was giving the lead to Raila Odinga by 4.3 million to President Kibaki's 4 million. Later these figures changed to 3.8 million each - giving Mr Odinga a lead of under 40,000 votes with no other constituencies announced. "Mr
9:05 pm

Clegg calls for a British Constitutional Convention

Gravatar Writing on the party’s official website, Nick Clegg has challenged Gordon Brown and David Cameron to live up to their words on cooperation: Shortly after I was elected as Leader of the Liberal Democrats, the Prime Minister phoned me to offer his congratulations and express his wish that we should work together on the issues that [...]
8:55 pm

Nick Clegg unveils major political initiative

Gravatar Here on the party's website.
8:43 pm

Before Rutland Water

Gravatar Thanks to BLDGBLOG for pointing us to the website Old UK Photos: This is a brand new non commercial website, launched in July 2006. The idea is to display as many old photographs as we can of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.The picture I have chosen shows the view across the Gwash valley in Rutland. It's not a picture you could take today as that valley was flooded in the 1970s to form Rutland Water.
7:49 pm

Science, religion and the Golden Compass

Gravatar This was one of those times when I wondered why I still bother going to the cinema at all. The Golden Compass is visually unimaginative, the acting is perfunctory, the script is bland and the morale utter trash. The experience is made worse by the tendency of cinema theatres to keep the volume ridiculously high. I’m not sure whether that is done to compensate for lack of substance or to keep you
6:59 pm

Liberal Of The Year - Terry Pratchett?

Gravatar My brain moves slowly around Christmas time. So I've only just left a comment on Liberal Democrat Voice about who has been the Liberal voice of 2007. It's the 57th comment there. So just in case you're not going to read that far down, I'm repeating it here: I have another, very serious suggestion - Terry Pratchett. His readership in the UK is huge. Those who have read his books will know that
6:59 pm

What is intelligence?

Gravatar Professor Flynn’s ‘What is intelligence?’ is not a book about intelligence. It’s a book about IQ. The Flynn effect deals with the rise of average IQ test scores (see below for more info). The problem is that IQ scores do not measure intelligence. Flynn himself argues that IQ tests measure only a minor sort of "abstract problem-solving ability" with little practical significance. The problem is
6:38 pm

Bringing it home

Gravatar I'm currently traveling around South Africa with the Girl (hence the even lighter than normal blogging schedule), but the thing that struck me today was just how bad things have become in Zimbabwe. Picking up my complimentary copy of the Saturday Star in Joburg Airport this morning what jumped off the page was not that Zuma the heir apparent to the SA Presidency had been charged with corruption
5:42 pm

St Mary’s 2007: The Year in Review - December

Gravatar December saw the conclusion of a few things - not just the year! Nick Clegg was elected Lib Dem leader and promises much positive change for our party which I hope we can translate into a positive difference on the ground. The Butterstile Children’s Centre was given the final go-ahead after a long but necessary planning process. And the Retreat fountain was finally replaced with a granite version. We kissed the fencing goodbye and switched on the new fountain at the same time as the Prestwich Christmas lights on December 10th. Thankfully congestion charging reached the end of the line in Bury ...
5:28 pm

Northern Rock - inflation anyone?

Gravatar A long time ago, when I had hair and my student grant was sufficient to fund a sumptuous lifestyle in the Union Bar, I dabbled in a bit of economics. I vaguely remember something about M1 and M2, and the increase of the money supply causing inflation. So I did wonder if injecting an extra £25 billion (or is it £50 billion?) into the "money supply" via Northern Rock might not do an awful lot of
5:27 pm

End of the year show

Gravatar Christmas Eve was lovely. A boozy mini-pub crawl, free pork pies and midnight service. Christmas Day was spot on: food and idleness, Boxing Day was jogging - a vain attempt to shake off the fat deposits accrued over the week in the morning, followed by a reunion in the pub as a reward. And as your reward, oh loyal readers, here is a link to Dashboard Confessional’s passable cover of In a Big Country. This is a picture from last night’s trip to the Plume of Feathers in Rickford, one of the best pubs in the world. Normal service will ...
5:25 pm

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart but without writers - that's a good joke

Gravatar I see that the Daily Show with Jon Stewart (below) is planning an attempt to re-emerge on the airwaves, minus writers. That's a joke in itself. The whole programme revolves around good writing. At least Letterman is trying to a deal with the unions to come back on the airwaves with writers.
5:25 pm

US Presidential race: Ron Paul ahead with British internet searchers

Gravatar It's worth buying the print version of the Guardian today to see the centre spread on "The world according to Google", which is illustrated by some fascinating graphs. The accompanying article is available here and links to some of the graphs on Google's own website. It is interesting that Ron Paul (above) is winning the US Presidential race, according to Google searches in Britain. In December
5:20 pm

St Mary’s 2007: The Year in Review - November

Gravatar In November we turned our attentions to remembering the sacrifice of those who have given their lives for the country. I was humbled and privileged to take part in the Remembrance Day parade and lay a wreath at the war memorial to remember the fallen. Occasions like that remind me of the duty we all have to do right by the community, and I am lucky to have the chance to make a difference. We started trying to do just that with the beginnings of the Philips Park consultation, as plans were announced to redevelop this unsung but delightful part ...
5:17 pm

Plaid face two ways again

Gravatar With January rapidly approaching, the two faced figure of the Roman God, Janus seems an appropriate place to start in discussing Plaid Cymru's latest faux pas. On 20th December a Labour Councillor on Neath Port Talbot Council wrote to the South Wales Evening Post regarding that Council's plans to go to a ballot on a proposed housing stock transfer. He stated that the authority was forced into that situation by a Plaid housing minister who insists that they meet the Assembly housing standard by 2012. He pointed out that if the Council does not move to a ballot then they ...
5:09 pm

St Mary’s 2007: The Year in Review - October

Gravatar The long-running battle to save a patch of Heaton Park from development came to a successful conclusion during October, when the decision was made to redevelop the existing site of my old school King David and not relocate to a new site in the park. The Lib Dems had led calls for the move to be scrapped, and we joined local campaigners in their joy that the decision had gone our way. Another victory for hard-fighting local people. Here in St Mary’s, I got the Council to prioritise the removal of pigeon droppings from the precinct, and sort out troublesome ...
4:49 pm

St Mary’s 2007: The Year in Review - September

Gravatar September started well, as we ensured a new paper recycling bin for Tesco to make recycling a bit easier there for local people. I also made sure a street light was replaced outside the house of a vulnerable elderly lady who had been scared since her’s had broken. And this blog was, bizarrely, shortlisted for “Best Blog from an Elected Representative” at the Lib Dem Blog of the Year awards (it didn’t win, which restored my faith in human nature). Sadly, successes didn’t last throughout the month. Our plans to let local people have more of a say at Planning ...
4:34 pm

St Mary’s 2007: The Year in Review - August

Gravatar My August saw a trip to Mull and a relaxing break. But not before working on a number of issues in the ward that didn’t take a summer holiday! Residents on Butterstile Laneformed a homewatch scheme after problems with nuisance crime and litter, and I was pleased to support it at residents’ meetings with the police.  Although Council was supposedly in recess, the issue of Radcliffe Riverside High Schoolmeant that we were recalled for an emergency meeting. And the Lib Dems released new transport policies which promised a carbon neutral Britain by 2050. Lib Dems were called into action to ...
4:25 pm

St Mary’s 2007: The Year in Review - July

Gravatar In July I left Prestwich briefly to help with the Ealing Southall by-election campaign. A successful result saw the Lib Dems push Labour hard and limit the Tories to a paltry few votes to scrape home third. Back on Council duty I attended my first meeting of the Bury Council Youth Cabinet, listening to the priorities of some of the excellent children of the Borough giving up their free time to help out. I was amazed at their passion and ideas, and I still am. Here in Prestwich, we heard of plans from the Cricket, Tennis and Bowling Clubto renovate ...
4:23 pm

10 key Lib Dem questions for 2008

Gravatar Sky News’s Adam Boulton has posted his rather more worldly ’10 Questions for 2008’ over at his Boulton & Co blog: A lot will happen that I can’t predict, but working from the known unknowns of next year’s calendar, here are ten questions which I believe will shape politics at home and abroad in 2008. Forgive Lib [...]
4:16 pm

St Mary’s 2007: The Year in Review - June

Gravatar The sun was shining (on occasion) as I began my first month as your local Councillor. It was a steep learning curve as I attended my first ever Overview and Scrutiny meeting as the Lib Dem spokesman on Performance and Resources. I also attended my first Local Area Partnership. The Lib Dem group was strong in its opposition to congestion charging, launching the burysaysno website and sticking to our position on this matter throughout. We’ve been clear - why should Manchester pay for public transport AGAIN through congestion charging when we should have first rate public transport already? Why is a ...
4:08 pm

St Mary’s 2007: The Year in Review - May

Gravatar Put simply, May 3rd was the greatest night of my life. To have received the votes of so many local people - their trust and hopes as well as their votes, was the most humbling thing I’ve ever experienced and gave me more opportunities to help the community. I have been grateful ever since and I will remain so. I hope the work I’ve done since builds on the work I did to get elected, and I hope I have lived (and will continue to live) up to your high expectations. The election result saw me receive 1,424 votes to Cllr ...
4:07 pm

On letting boys play with guns

Gravatar These days government ministers think themselves entitled - even compelled - to pronounce on the smallest detail of school life. On Thursday Kevin Brennan solemnly told us: "This year, while obviously wanting every child to have a great Christmas break, we would rather that parents ensure their children do not use their gadgets in lessons and ideally don't bring them into school at all. Many Christmas presents in the first weeks of the new term get broken at school or have to be confiscated by teachers because they are misused in class."This sort of intervention is at once a symptom ...
3:58 pm

Benazir - RIP!

Gravatar I don’t want to be accused of `Dianafication` - however recently I’ve come to respect her and felt that she’d turned a page in her life from the erstwhile corruption prevalent in that disturbed country.  Listening to her when she came out to the crowds was a speech heavy in directness and class (of the good [...]
3:48 pm

St Mary’s 2007: The Year in Review - April

Gravatar April saw the election campaign reach fever pitch. We were canvassing every night, and I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to meet hundreds of local people. It’s only the lucky few of us who get the chance to meet so many great people, and I was truly humbled at the support I was getting from complete strangers pleased with what we were trying to do. APril was Passover for Jewish residents, and we welcomed the Council’s move to increase waste collections in certain areas at this time to cope with the increased demand. There was more good news when the Council ...
3:40 pm

St Mary’s 2007: The Year in Review - March

Gravatar March for me began very much as I imagine it did for most normal 26 year olds - with a bunch of earnest middle aged people in a conference centre in Harrogate. I went to the Lib Dem Spring Conference and was very impressed not only with Nick Clegg’s interns but also with the great debates and fabulous training opportunities available. I will be going to the Spring Conference in 2008 too, in Liverpool. In the ward, March saw the height of the lamp-post vandalism craze which cost the Council tens of thousands of pounds. Thugs from outside the area were ...
3:20 pm

Christmas in Warwick

Gravatar I’ve had a mixed Christmas so far. It started well, meeting up for long overdue drinks with Neil and Kelly who moved back to Warwick a few months back. I spent Christmas day with Sarah and her delightful children. Boxing Day I took Sarah and my two teenage sons to visit my sister Ruth and her family in Worcestershire. I then went down with the flu, which has left me with a nasty cough, so I spent most of the 27th on the sofa with a duvet watching endless Christmas TV repeats. Yesterday I had a huge office cull, sorted ...
3:07 pm

10-man Swans beat Leeds United in five goal thriller

Gravatar Leeds United started well against the league leaders Swansea City at the new Liberty Stadium. A full house of 19,010, which included 2,800 Leeds fans, was electric with anticipation of a great game. Good shots at goal from Jonathan Howson and Jermaine Beckford slammed in during the 4th minute. But a free kick awarded from 25 yards, in the 8th minute, set up the Swans for a free shot at goal and Andy Robinson made it count, 0-1. United fought back and in the 11th minute, a right foot shot from Beckford hit the back of the net from 6 ...
2:16 pm

Uncle Cleans Up to be republished

Gravatar The Unbearable Oddness of Stevyn carries the welcome news that the second Uncle book by the Revd J. P. Martin is to be republished.
2:02 pm

Women's Pensions - the saga continues

Gravatar Last Summer the Government was defeated in the House of Lords on the Pensions Bill in an amendment tabled by Patricia Hollis - one of their own former pensions ministers. She was arguing that women who retire before 2010 (when more generous pension rules come in) should have more flexibility to fill gaps in their pension record. The Government didn't like her amendment but persuaded her to withdraw it with a promise that they would come up with something better. After six months of thinking about it, they've now announced in the House of Lords that they can't think of ...
1:49 pm

Liberal England: Moderately popular with Tory readers

Gravatar Lib Dem Voice, Norfolk Blogger and Lynne Featherstone (the first a little ironically) celebrate their successes in the Liberal Democrat Blog of the Year section of Iain Dale's blog awards. The full list is as follows: LibDem Voice 34%Norfolk Blogger 21%Lynne Featherstone 12%Liberal England 8%Quaequam 8%Cicero's Songs 6%Peter Black 6%Given that Iain's readers are predominantly Conservatives, it is not clear how proud one should be of appearing in this list.
1:27 pm

New poll: Long to reign over us?

Gravatar The poll for Liberal Voice of the Year 2007 will soon be going live - but, in the interregnum, we thought we’d ask that timeless classic: do you think the British monarchy should be abolished? The hook to hang the question on is provided by the news that 78% of British people want the monarchy to [...]
1:10 pm

The Diana-isation of Benazir Bhutto begins

Gravatar It is amazing how some one's death can suddenly see history and public opinion so radically change. A few days ago Benazir Bhutto may have been the west's best bet for a "friendly" government in Pakistan, but she was also a politician who was, along with her family and political party, widely seen as corrupt. Both spells in charge in Pakistan saw her government's quickly lose popularity whilst corruption was rife, including large amount of money flowing the way of the Bhuttos. This appears now to be quickly forgotten. Her friendships too also raised questions about her. She was, according ...
12:53 pm

Liberal Democrat History Group: volunteer Assistant Editor wanted

Gravatar Posted on their behalf: *** The Liberal Democrat History Group is looking for a volunteer to help with editorial work on the group’s web site. The Group promotes the discussion and research of the histories of the Liberal Democrats, Liberal Party and SDP, and of Liberalism. We do this through meetings, our quarterly Journal of Liberal History, occasional [...]
12:48 pm

What ever sort of parent ... (again)

Gravatar I am sure most of you saw the sad news of the death of a seven year old child on Christmas Day who died whilst out riding her new quad bike. A tragedy, of course, for her family and friends. however, it does lead me to ask some very serious questions. 1) Why was a seven year old girl riding a 100cc quad bike ? 2) Why did her father (who was in the car in front) think that this was a good idea to drive in front of his children on a main road ? 3) What ever sort ...
12:02 pm

Labour MP, Vera Baird, let the people of Redcar down over Coatham Links

Gravatar How much longer must Coatham Links remain fenced off waiting for development? Redcar's Labour MP, Vera Baird, "is being irresponsible and has let the people of Redcar down over the Coatham Links development," a political rival has claimed. Ian Swales, Liberal Democrats Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Redcar (Pictured above), hit out after the MP blamed the former Coalition for taking a decision to grant Planning Permission for the £88million Coatham Links development close to an election period, which was recently ruled out of order by a High Court Judge. "The decision taken by the Planning Committee was an all party ...
11:37 am

I'm in the top three

Gravatar As Liberal Democrat Voice has pointed out, readers of Iain Dale's blog have voted this the third best Liberal Democrat blog. Details over at LDV; thanks to those who voted for me - and congratulations to the LDV team and to Nich Starling for grabbing the two places above me.
11:27 am

Was this how Bhutto died ?

Gravatar With the varying accounts now circulating about Benazir Bhutto's death, her camp saying she was shot, the Pakistan Government says it was her sunroof, I wonder how long it will be before we find out that THIS was the real reason.
11:17 am

You couldn't make it up

Gravatar According to the Daily Mirror: A top police scientist in charge of checking the qualifications of forensic experts has been suspended for allegedly faking his own CV.
11:17 am

What ever sort of parent ...

Gravatar I was amazed yesterday when in Diss (South Norfolk) to see just how many children were riding around on modified BMX bikes, which have no brakes. During one short walk I saw one boy fall from his bike as he swerved to avoid a car reversing out of a driveway. He had to fall off because he had no brakes. He and his mates thought it a great laugh, but this is another case of parents just ignoring their children and their responsibility to ensure their children are safe. Perhaps for the kid in question, it "isn't cool" to have ...
11:02 am

Ian McKellen’s CH

Gravatar The actor Sir Ian McKellen has been made a Companion of Honour, the Order comprising just 65 people acknowledged to have given services ’of national importance’ to the realm. It is an honour well deserved. Quite apart from his role as a Shakespearean actor of renown (not to mention his more ‘popular’ roles as Gandalf and Widow [...]
10:55 am

O'Loan made dame in honours list

Gravatar And not for services to the Labour Party.
10:53 am

LDV voted top Lib Dem blog

Gravatar Some 2,300 of Iain Dale’s blog-readers voted in a wide-ranging end-of-year survey across 33 categories, including Lib Dem Blog of the Year. Here are the results: 1. Lib Dem Voice 34% 2. Norfolk Blogger 21% 3. Lynne Featherstone 12% 4. Liberal England 8% 5. Quaequam Blog! 8% 6. Cicero’s Songs 6% 7. Peter Black 6% Others 5% We at LDV towers are, of course, [...]
10:42 am

Eight wishes for 2008

Gravatar Jo Anglezarke has tagged me with another meme - this one is to say what my eight wishes for 2008 are. These could be anything from personal to political. But I promise I won't do the "I just wish for world peace" thing, and will try instead to describe some specifics for my bountiful fairy godmother to work on. So I'm wishing for (in no particular order, as they say)...
10:41 am

88% of Lib Dem MPs support fixed-term Parliaments (majority of Labour and Tory MPs opposed)

Gravatar Iain Dale has highlighted a ComRes survey of 154 MPs - conducted in October this year - revealing that, though support for fixed-term parliaments is on the increase, a majority remain opposed. The breakdown of the poll shows: 88% of Lib Dem MPs support fixed-term Parliaments; as do 41% of Labour MPs; while only 25% of Tory MPs [...]
10:00 am

Benazir Bhutto killed

Gravatar The Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, who has been killed, aged 54, in a bomb attack at a political rally in Rawalpindi.
9:58 am

McCain's foreign policy - a recipe for lots of states "outside the tent p***ing in"

Gravatar Conservative Home has started a series on the foreign policies of the US Presidential candidates. Today's subject is John McCain. Oh, gaw blimey. His recommendations sound like the rallying call for yet more international war: No retreat in IraqAll means to stop a nuclear IranA new league of Democracies to rival the UNNo to tortureExpulsion of Russia from G8Special help for moderate Muslim
9:53 am

Congratulations to Andy Hamilton MBE

Gravatar At the age of 89 Andy is still performing around Birmingham with his band "the Blue Notes". It is nice to have his contribution recognised. He must be one of the older recipients of honours today.
7:25 am

A Cornish New Year

Gravatar I am off to Cornwall today to spend New Year with some friends, hopefully I will get a chance to visit the Eden Project as we are not staying too far away from it.
12:13 am

Obama aid tries to link Hillary Clinton to Banazir Bhutto murder. Obama tries to dodge the question...

Gravatar No, I, I, I, I, I have to, I heard, I heard, I don’t need it, I don't need to hear what you read because I was, I overheard it when he said it

Previous days:

Friday 28th December 2007, Thursday 27th December 2007, Wednesday 26th December 2007, Tuesday 25th December 2007, Monday 24th December 2007, Sunday 23rd December 2007