Sunday 30th December 2007

11:17 pm


Gravatar The view from Hadrian’s Wall:  {Hadrian's Wall at winter}
10:38 pm

A Christmas Tale continued...............

Gravatar Warning - this will make absolutely no sense unless you read the last episode - then it may make a little more sense! Lindarella and Fim sped across the starlit sky. As they flew over the castle of the Great Giant Gord, Fim pointed out the landmarks. "Look" she cried "see that huge cedar tree over there? That is where the Repugnant Reid used to perch, how we all rejoiced at his demise!" As they reached the castle Lindarella spotted the gar goyles - they looked...........real. She asked Fim about them. "Don't worry" said Fim reassuringly, "Yes, they are real, ...
10:10 pm

Tory Donor (who by co-incidence was later given a peerage) to extend Tory target seats strategy

Gravatar The Times reports that Lord Ashcroft, who bankrolled the Tories in the late 1990's, and by strange and complete co-incidence and with no relationship to the vast sums he gave the Tories was later given a peerage, is to expand the Tories target seat strategy to include seats where the Tories are up to 5,000 votes behind. This is not to say that this is any guarantee of success for the Tories. Ashcroft money was given to Eastleigh, Romsey and North Norfolk Tories with little success last time, but the policy had more success in Labour areas where some Labour ...
9:59 pm

And what does this say about the obsession with winning ?

Gravatar Some people, so the saying goes, will do anything to win. But it comes to something when you fake your own father's death in Iraq in order to win a competition.
9:44 pm

Recycle your tree!

Gravatar Kingston Council will recycle your Christmas tree - but only if it is a real one! Just leave it out with your green box on the date when your recycling is collected between 7th and 18th January. By the way, you can check here if you're not sure when your bins will be collected this week.
9:39 pm

What does this video say about American teen culture ?

Gravatar Listening to the radio earlier playing this year's top 100 singles, one song brought back the memory of a particular music video which used to be on whenever I was down the gym, and which to me says much about teen culture, particularly in the US. Avril Lavigne' song "Girlfriend" features a video about a slightly geeky girl, going out with a "hot" bloke, and another girl, much more "sassy" and part of the "in crowd" decides she wants to go out with the guy, so she enacts a series of just plain nasty tricks on the nice geeky girl ...
9:26 pm

Waterboarding: torture or not?

Gravatar Hat tip to Chris Black for pointing us to this tale of someone trying out "waterboarding" on themselves to see if they think it really is torture. Of course it could all be a total lie - out here in cyberland you never can tell. And it could, presumably, have ended up in a Darwin award before the guy to to write his experiences up. But it all sounds pretty convincing evidence of behaviour by an ally that we should be prosecuting under international protocols against torture if we can't get them to give it up voluntarily.
9:17 pm

All change for 2008!

Gravatar This blog will soon cease to exist. I’m following the lead of several Lib Dem bloggers by splitting off my various interests that this blog currently covers. National politics and local Lib Dem issues will come together in a new blog FOCUSing on the local area, whilst my various musical/events/web adventures will be housed elsewhere. Posts may be sporadic over the next week while I get the new blogs up and running.
9:12 pm

The holiday draws to a close

Gravatar It's been an unusual experience - almost a week of absolutely no politics or council work. Denis and I made a commitment that we'd take some time to do other things between Christmas and New Year this year. Nothing unusual in that, except that this time we agreed not to answer work-related phone calls, no blackberry, no work e-mail, just time to do the things we wanted to do together. It was
7:02 pm

Best of the Blogs: The Golden Dozen #45

Gravatar For the 45th time, we indulge in a round-up of the Lib Dem blogosphere, featuring the seven most popular stories according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (23rd-29th December), together with a hand-picked quintet you might otherwise have missed. In the last full week of 2007, these were the best-read posts:
6:53 pm

Eight ways to annoy me!

Gravatar Given the current popularity of lists on the blogosphere I thought I would say how irritating the following actions are on here: 1. Blog four times within twenty minutes then there are four posts on top of each other so you have to scroll down even further to see what someone more interesting has said. 2. Start memes which weren't enticing to read the first time, never mind the tenth time someone has written on the same subject. 3. Start talking to me on another website (it starts with 'f') then scuttle off with an idea which appears in your ...
5:57 pm

Iowa: Edwards has the "mo", while Huckabee bombs

Gravatar The latest poll in Iowa shows the three leading Democrat Presidential candidates - Edwards (who has the "mo" currently), Clinton and Obama - in a dead heat. For the Republicans, Romney is out front and Huckabee has bombed a bit. It's great fun watching all this. Nothing seems to be for certain - they're all flipping up and down all over the place.
5:18 pm

Bid to broadcast Council meetings - update

Gravatar Posted by Chris: I see that we have been receiving dozens of links from to the item, posted in August, about the Lib Dem bid to broadcast Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council meetings, proposed by Councillor Margaret Wilson. In view of the interest here is an update: The Council referred the matter to the new Democracy Commission, which is currently in the process of being set up. It is one of a list of items that will be investigated, hopefully quickly, though the majority Labour Group do not seem very keen on the idea. Myself and the other Lib ...
5:05 pm

Do It Yourself Waterboarding

Gravatar So,one chap at the "Straight Dope" website decides to find out the truth about waterboarding - by personal experimentation: "Seriously, I determined to give this a try, see how bad it was: Settle the debate authoritatively. Torture, or not? I figure I would be a good test subject. I am incredibly fit and training for a 100 mile endurance run. The main thing about such an event is ability to
5:04 pm

What's the Difference?

Gravatar Meet Sebastian, the 11-year-old marxist. And Pippa, the 7-year-old social conservative. Their parents hold those political beliefs respectively, and on that basis it seems perfectly natural to say that they do too. In fact, don't their parents have a right to have their children brought up in an institution which instills those values in their children?  It certainly seems so, if we accept the assertion that there is such thing as a catholic 7-year-old or a sikh 11-year-old, and that it's perfectly acceptable for parents to demand and get institutions that will instill their religion's values in their children. What, ...
4:30 pm

"My biggest hero of the Lib Dems is Colin Ross"

Gravatar So I have just discovered some friends of mine have set up a facebook group called "My biggest hero of the Lib Dems is Colin Ross" - obviously I was flattered at a bit of hero worship and then read it and saw it was tagged as "Just for Fun - Outlandish Statements".
4:21 pm

Eight for 2008

Gravatar Jo Anglezarke has tagged me in the latest meme to say what my eight wishes are for 2008. I have been resisting thus far but have finally succumbed: 1. To see the Liberal Democrats sustain poll ratings at least in the mid-twenties throughout the year. 2. To retain control of Swansea, Cardiff, Bridgend and Wrexham in May and make further advances both on those councils and elsewhere in Wales. 3. To see a Democrat become President of the United States (I really am not fussed which of the three front-runners it is). 4. For Swansea City FC to gain automatic ...
4:09 pm


Gravatar Matt Withers notes that Gordon Brown has some very profound things to say in his New Year message about devolution: In 2008, with firm conviction and resolve, we will make the case for the United Kingdom - standing up for the cause of the Union and against secession, showing people in all parts of the country that for so many of the challenges our country faces - from climate change to terrorism - there are no Wales-only, Scotland-only or England-only solutions. Matt believes that this bodes ill for the success or otherwise of the Convention being set up to consider ...
4:00 pm

George W Bush and the Rule of Law - (Top 10 dumb US legal arguments)

Gravatar The link is to the top ten nonsensical legal arguments of the Bush Government and a detailed analysis of them. This is a summary (in increasing level of stupidity): 10. The NSA's eavesdropping was limited in scope. 9. Scooter Libby's sentence was commuted because it was excessive. 8. The vice president's office is not a part of the executive branch. 7. Guantanamo Bay detainees enjoy more legal
3:59 pm

Stop Abusing the Word ‘Coward’!

Gravatar Predictably, both George Bush and Gordon Brown have condemned the recent assassination of Benazir Bhutto, each describing the act as ‘cowardly’. Condemnation is indeed appropriate. The killing was disgusting, shameful, appalling and (to use an unfashionable but singularly apposite word) dastardly. But ‘cowardly’? Surely not. Is an assassin or a suicide bomber in a large crowd a [...]
3:25 pm

Dumbest Legal Arguments of the Year

Gravatar Slate, one of those online magazines that we can't seem to do over here (possible exception: The First Post), has compiled a top ten list of legal howlers from the Bush White House for 2007. Here are the headings: 10. The NSA's eavesdropping was limited in scope.9. Scooter Libby's sentence was commuted because it was excessive.8. The vice president's office is not a part of the executive branch
1:45 pm

Tories Fail to Deliver

Gravatar In August Test Valley Borough Council removed the skate ramp from Smannell Road because it was badly damaged by vandals. In November Cllr Phil North reported on his website that “he had secured from the portfolio holder for leisure Cllr. Caroline Nokes a date for a temporary one to be installed. The new facility will be in place by the 21st November 2007.” Residents are still waiting over a month later for the installation to take place.
1:14 pm

You’ve Been Quangoed

Gravatar An invite to a champagne reception to celebrate the reopening of the Northcott Theatre after a £2.1 million revamp dropped through my letter box the other day.  The Northcott recently received a ...
12:24 pm

Sunday mornings

Gravatar I love winter Sundays – curling up in bed with copious mugs of tea, the Observer and the Archers omnibus …… the boys have even risen before noon – and gone climbing at Dove Stones, above Bolton (rather posh name for an old quarry), so as long as there’s no problem or rain, we’ll have a peaceful afternoon too! I started wading through my Case Work diary yesterday to see what we need to go back
12:22 pm


Gravatar I got mine – both of – for my full-time teaching job and part-time political Councillor work/role for Bury MBC. So, why haven’t the Police got theirs? Bury MBC pays its share from our local Council Tax payers money into Police coffers and for one, I expect Police pay rises to he honoured! Alan Gordon vice-Chair of the Police Federation commenting for the Observer, today, says that it’s caused
12:20 pm

Mr Clarkson vs. Dr Williams

Gravatar Jeremy Clarkson's arguments about religion admittedly have some merit. But it seems a pity that he should launch such a scathing attack because of something so petty as his desire to drive a Range Rover.
11:32 am

Phil O'Donnell 1972-2007

Gravatar Regular readers of my blog will know of my love of football. Normally around this time of the week following a road trip this season I would be posting the latest installment in my Stadium Tour of Scotland. This week I'll be postponing that entry. The reason is that yesterday's trip passed two scenes of tragedy. Firstly just as we were starting out from our Stadium came the news that there was a
10:48 am

Brown briefs against CNN!

Gravatar There's a cheery piece in today's Observer. It seems Gordon wants to play the US recession up, while CNN want to play it down. Perhaps they should speak on the phone before briefing against each other... "Gordon Brown today issues a bleak assessment of the world economy as he braces Britain for a year of belt tightening in the wake of the credit crunch. In a strong warning, which sets the backdrop for a campaign to revive his premiership, Brown tells Britain to prepare for 'global financial turbulence' in 2008. 'Our strong economy is the foundation,' Brown writes in his ...
8:55 am

Nick Clegg on faith schools

Gravatar From an interview given this week to The Jewish News: If we are to create a society in which everyone has a fair chance in life, we need to focus on education, above all. Faith schools have an important role to play in that, and I am keen that they become engines of integration, not of [...]
7:38 am

What has humanity done to deserve politics?

Gravatar Spot the odd one out in the image below. All four species coexist in large numbers. They all work together to defend the collective against predators and to provide for their mutual needs. They all look and behave as if they are being controlled by some mastermind at the top of a hierarchy. {Montage of birds, fish, ants and human swarming - which is the odd one out?} But in fact it is only the humans (top right!), the one with the largest and most complex brains, the only one, so far as we know, to have developed some kind ...
6:29 am

Diddlysquat - Labour's achievements on UK electoral reform after ten years

Gravatar Nicholas Watt in the Observer reports that Gordon Brown has responded positively to Nick Clegg's proposal for a constitutional convention. But we've been here before: The Liberal Democrats will be encouraged next month when the government publishes a paper on electoral reform, likely to be a key Lib Dem demand if Clegg holds the balance of power in a hung Parliament after the next general
6:28 am

Jenkins and his "azalea" repeats

Gravatar Is Stephen Tall writing for Jasper Gerard. Last week, Stephen pointed out that Simon Jenkins spouts out Liberal Democrat policies for months but then, rather inexplicably, lays into Nick Clegg. Today Jasper Gerard makes the same point with some venom. He compares Jenkins to a gardening correspondent: In my editing days on another newspaper, I discovered that the gardening columnist filed exactly
12:35 am

State sanctioned abuse of children

Gravatar Who will do something about this scandal?
12:30 am

Jasper Gerard makes fun of Simon Jenkins

Gravatar Sunday’s Observer brings an amusing tirade from Jasper Gerard, directed at Simon Jenkins - or rather Simon’s tendency to get rather worked up about the Liberal Democrats. As Gerard writes: I enjoy a glow of familiarity whenever I read an article by Simon Jenkins on the Liberal Democrats. So last week, he dismissed Nick Clegg, their [...]

Previous days:

Saturday 29th December 2007, Friday 28th December 2007, Thursday 27th December 2007, Wednesday 26th December 2007, Tuesday 25th December 2007, Monday 24th December 2007