Slovenia takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union at midnight tonight — the first former Communist member state ever to do so. Who would have thought only 20 years ago that such a thing could be possible? It is a huge tribute to the government and the people of this small central European [...]
Monday 31st December 2007
Friday: Is anyone else getting tired of the "third leader in two years" meme? Mr Clogg, continuing the work of Captain Paddy, Mr Cheeky Charlie and Sir Mr the Merciless, is obviously the FOURTH elected Liberal Democrat Leader since the party was FOUNDED in 1988. In that time, the Labour have had, er, FOUR leaders: Mr Kinnock-knock, Saint John of Smith, Lord Blairimort and of course Prime Monster Frown. In that time, the Conservatories have actually had SIX leaders: Queen Maggie, Mr Major Minor, Mr Vague, Mr Ian Drunken-Swerve, Mr Something-of-the-Night and now Mr Balloon. So we know who're worst ...
Saturday: When Darth Vader chops your fluffy foot off and then says: "Luke, I AM a Liberal Conservatory!" then, OF COURSE you're going to look at this a little ASKANCE. Likewise, when the considerably-less-butch-than-Darth-Vader Mr Balloon asserts that he wants us to "join him and rule the galaxy together", we are going to start counting out fluffy feet! Well done to Mr Cheeky Charlie Kennedy for rejecting the offer of a pact with the DARK SIDE! Here is a thought Mr Balloon: for the last thirty years the Liberal Democrats have been the "leading voice in British politics for an ...
Boxing Day: Another year, another collection of famous faces making fools of themselves as Mr David waves his magic screwdriver around and rattles off the exposition nineteen to the dozen. But enough about the end of "Extras"… Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without Daddy reviewing an hour of Doctor Who, a tradition that's as old as the hills. At least, any hills that have been thrown up in the last three years, and yet it seems like it's been with us forever. As the attached Doctor Who Confidential told us at some length apparently without conveying any other information at all. ...
I've just been watching a New Year's programme on Russian TV - a music programme. Bearing in mind this is prime time television, it's interesting that they've included Russian versions of two old English pop songs. The Bee Gees "How Deep is Your Love" is OK. But can't they do any better than a Russian version of the Brotherhood of Man's "Save All Your Kisses for Me"? What is the Russian word for
The above video is a good one for pointing out ballot box stuffing. We should not pretend that this sort of thing doesn't happen in the UK. One interesting thing about elections in Birmingham is that some polling stations have presiding officers working for the Labour Party. This may sound surprising given that the council is now run by a non-Labour partnership. However, it developed during
There has been a lot of doom and gloom written and spoken over the last few months with talk of job losses, economic slowdown and even recession. My 'Day Job' is as CEO of a financial and insurance recruitment firm. We operate throughout the world and as recruitment is very sensitive to economic confidence I'm in a fairly strong position to report on confidence levels. I keep a very close eye on key economic indicators. The good news is that I am still bullish about UK economic prospects. Firstly lets look at the stock market. Every time there is a ...
Just off to a house party with Yas, so will sign off for 2007. A topsy turvy kind of year, I have just had a quick look at my posts over the past 12 months. January started as I meant to go on, lots about Trident and leadership, and of course the Trident theme continued until and beyond Spring Conference. In February I enlisted a few guests to try and get a debate going about diversity. March began with a moan about gay men being gay, speculated about Nick Clegg's leadership plans, went on about Trident a bit..........April I moved ...
"We try harder, and reach higher, to make tomorrow better than today" W Nicholson’s “The Wind Singer”
Our new party leader, Nick Clegg’s New Year Message, is clear and motivational. We also need to work harder to get our message across to lobby for more people to vote for us. We need to work harder to do this by “using clear, precise and simple language, cutting through the jargon and the cant, exposing duplicity and manipulation.” Our messages need to express what we want to do and can do, not
Today was one of my favourite days of the year. We rarely shop and have lunch out – but living next to the City of Manchester, it’s fun to do it from time to time. It’s also very necessary as Andrew accuses me scruffiness, far too often. Lunch was at Sam’s Chop House – a pre-44th birthday treat with a pint of Sam’s ale. Ignoring our efforts for the five fruit and veg a day – we debated over
I have earlier posted about the future of the Kilburn State cinema venue on the Kilburn High Road - two major developments have since occurred. The first is the emergence of a group of residents up for pushing forward a positive agenda for the venue - mindful of its historical and architectural significance to the High Road and locality - but also wanting to see the building back in use and accessible to the public. To that end we held a vigil on the 70th anniversary of the building being opening on 20th December 1937 - just in time ...
Iain Dale makes the claim on his blog that he received 404,000 unique visitors in 2007. There is much discussion on his post about how accurate such figures can be given the problems of tracking IP addresses, but still it is pretty impressive. I only have a basic extreme tracking analysis, which is open to public view nevertheless. According to that site I had 106,629 unique visitors in 2007. The majority of these people will have visited the site many times and will have been multiple-counted but what the heck, at least somebody is reading these postings. Happy New Year. ...
I was quite surprised that Virgin boss, Richard Branson, decided to write this letter to staff who are about to go on strike. I was surprised for two reasons. Mainly because I was under the impression that threatening staff who are about to strike with dismissal is against the law and secondly because making this issue so public hardly seems like the best way to resolve this dispute which is
And with just hours to go, Brian Paddick has won my award for Best Political Quote 2007. From here. Paddick: Lib Dems are famous for recycling, so we're not going to scrap the bendy buses, we're going to push them out to the suburbs where there are nice long straight roads with big gaps between junctions The whole interview does pretty well according to my political radar and, indeed, I think it's a good sign Paddick has a good Political Brain.
1. No more teenagers killed on our streets. Yesterday, I went to visit the mother of 16 year old Nassirudeen Osawe, killed in Islington on Boxing Day, to pay my respects as their local ward councillor. A lovely family, touched by tragedy. 2. The government takes its responsibilities seriously to end child poverty. 3. The government takes its responsibilities seriously to end pensioner poverty. 4. Real efforts for peace in the Middle East. 5. I know this is real pie in the sky, but a peaceful solution in Cyprus, and the ending of the isolation of Turkish Cypriots, would be ...
As I walked out of my front gate this afternoon I couldn't fail to notice the helicopter hovering over the river. My stomach sunk, that usually means they are searching for a body. But my thoughts immediately turned to a discussion I had with a Palestinian friend last year. It was his first time out of Gaza, in fact he had risked his life and hurt himself jumping over the wall, having been kept waiting for days, to get out into Egypt to start university here in the UK. We were having a meal in Green Lanes when he told ...
No, don't be rude, I am talking about the number of unique visitors to my blog this year. According to Google the figure stands at 44,460 absolute unique visitors, which is one tenth of Iain Dale's figures. Thanks to everyone who reads this blog and particularly to those who comment. Agree or disagree with me, your points are (nearly) all worth reading. Good luck to you all in 2008 and a Happy New Year.
I have a couple of meme tags still outstanding, one of which needs addressing before midnight and so I’d best get it done. Jo off of Jo’s Jottings tagged me with Iain Dale’s Eight for 2008 meme. So with world peace and Prime Minister Nick Clegg taken as read, here are my 8 wishes for next year: 1. That the fourth series of <DOCTOR.WHO> will be at least as good as the third; that the second series of The Sarah Jane Adventures will be at least as good as the first; and that the new series of Torchwood will be ...
Older women, pensioner poverty, national insurance rules… it’s not the most festive topic, which may be why the Government’s Scrooge-like u-turn on the issue has not got much coverage. Women who have taken time out of making pension contributions because of time caring for their families lose out. Add this to women’s lower earnings and [...]
The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg MP, has released a message for the new year, which I have uploaded. You can read it by clicking on this link: nick-clegg-new-year-message.pdf I think it’s a great motivator for Lib Dems, and hopefully gives a flavour of the key things we will be pushing for in 2008 both to supporters and those who don’t support us at present. The themes are clear, the outlook positive, and determination obvious. It sets us up very nicely for what I hope will be a successful year ahead. Rick
Jock's important point about football pitches reminds me of one of my own regular metaphorical frustrations. Every so often (read: when it's raining) it is necessary for me to make my way through Cardiff's St. David's Centre, currently something of a building site as the imaginatively names St. David's 2 takes shape next door. As ever with such projects, the ugly bits of the construction process
Its that time of year and I think there is some merit in doing a message for the new year. Normally I don't comment about constituency issues on this weblog. That is because the audience is a wider one than those people living in Yardley. People living in Yardley should get leaflets and reports. However, this time I will look at local issues as well. Yardley One aspect of local activity that
Nick Clegg is right to highlight ID cards and the erosion of civil liberties as his main focus in 2008, but given the recent ID thefts and data loss scandals involving the government, he should also be seeking to halt the government#s plans to further centralise data in the UK. It is clear this government has not got the first idea how to protect and make data safe, and given their woeful record in recent weeks, their broken promises when they stated data would be sent encrypted and by proper courier after they lost the data of 25,000 Standard Life ...
Here are some thoughts about choice and public services. Somewhat cheekily this is reposted from the Lib Dem Voice forums where there are all sorts of fascinating debates going on, including this one. I thought it was good enought (and long enough) to repost here... Supplying public services is always realistically going to be about reconciling the needs of service providers, the people who use the services, and the government. One model is a pure rationing basis: the government (national and local) decides what services you got and you have no choice in the matter at all (except to opt ...
How times have changed : Some roads in Oxford may become 20mph zones in the New year. Plans for the reduced limits have been put forward for a number of routes in the Summertown area of the city, which links Woodstock Road with Banbury Road. The 20mph scheme includes London Road, where proposals for a bus lane have also been put forward. The idea is part of a £2.8m plan to encourage more people onto buses and to cut congestion. A decision is due at a county council meeting on Thursday. Given Margaret Thatcher and Steven Norris's oft quoted (but ...
Christmas trees can be recycled in a number of ways in Birmingham. You can use the fortnightly garden waste collection service (tie the tree branches up as tightly as possible), take them to your local Household Recycling Centre or use the service offered at some parks (including Lickey Hills Country Park). Trees will be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. Those taken away by the
At the BBC again : Lollipops given out free to party-goers as they left the pubs and clubs have helped reduce crime in December in a Buckinghamshire town, police believe. Research suggests people leaving pubs and clubs after drinking alcohol are often aggressive because their blood sugar levels are low. Well, the science may well be right (as a diabetic I know that alcohol lowers your blood sugar, though it also blocks seratonin receptors which reduces the feeling of wellbeing so might also explain it a bit), but presumably a real carrot would work just as well!
Similarly Alix Mortimer's one I've been reading regularly - though not regularly enough over the past couple of weeks to notice that I've been tagged with a meme I'm not sure I quite understand - something about a contest for women bloggers that I'm not sure whther it's a LIb Dem thing or a national thing or what....I'd better take a look and respond - I'm not very good with these meme things!
From BBC Wiltshire (dear knows why I subscribe to a news feed predominantly about Swindon of all places!): A man at the centre of a police investigation into an explosion in Swindon has been de-arrested. The 44-year-old remains in hospital with burns injuries after the roof blew off a block of flats on 23 December in the Toothill area of the town. Wiltshire Police said no formal interviews had taken place and because he had not visited a police station all records of his arrest would be removed. Now I wonder if his DNA was taken and whether it will ...
Barely 12 hours to go before another new year rolls around, predictably enough coming almost 366 days after the last one. Another year of floods in the summer, partisan punch-ups in Parliament and Ant and fucking Dec to look forward to. Doubtless there will be something new to make the year seem less monotonous than it actually is, I've got my money on Simon Cowell finally disappearing up his own
As 2007 comes to an end and we reflect on a year that saw lots happen in St Mary’s, what do you think should happen in the ward in 2008? We are here to serve you, so what would you like to see us do with you in the new year to make St Mary’s a better place? Of course we’d all like every pot-hole filled, every piece of litter removed immediately (or, better still, not ever dropped) and crime to fall so much that the word gets removed from the dictionary. But none of these things can entirely happen, ...
I caught in my logs the other day someone visiting my blog from Tristan's piece way back in October about his "Essential reads". He was very flattering about my blog, but I do remember now reading it first time and wanting to defend myself against his suggestion that I was possibly the "LibDem version of a gold bug, seeing LVT as a solution to many problems as a gold bug sees a gold standard". I admit, occasionally (well maybe more than occasionally for some) LVT seems like a religious belief, and as such one can be very zealous about it ...
2007 rolls to a close with alarming speed. It cannot, cannot, CAN NOT be a year since the last new year’s eve. And yet calendars and most leading scientists agree that it is. A bit like global warming - depressingly real despite me not wanting it to be. And 2008 is upon us. Two thousand and eight. Ludicrously futuristic. We should all be armed with laser guns and be travelling around hyper-cities in the sky in our flying cars by now. But of course it’ll all be much the same, and in about nine months I’ll be used to 2008, ...
Continuing a long tradition (is it a tradition if I've only done it once?), here are my favourite posts of 2007 My Reply to a pompous email: I'd forgotten how silly my response was. But I think his final word was just a bit unfair. An explanation of how the media works. In a rare display of courage, I post the banned photo of David Cameron. I struggle to install a printer on Windows Vista.
Don Clegg sure full of great new ideas. Another announcement fly out of il Padrino's office today. "Nothing is more important to the future of the Family than our precious bambinos. And nothing is more pernicious to the future of our children than the scourge of the modern-day Fagins in the advertising industry, who prey on their innocence with offers of Cheesy McNuggets, Triple thick-shakes, and extra-large McFlurry Sundaes. Sometimes they even enhance their offers with plastic representations of what my friend Mr. Eno tells me are popular children's characters like Harry Potter, JaJa Binks and Lembit Opik. Only yesterday ...
Since our beloved Prime Minister chose to avoid going to the country in Autumn 2007, it does not seem hugely likely that he would call a general election in 2008. So, it seems likely that 2008 in British politics will be more interested in local elections than anything else. We have the interesting challenge of the London mayoral elections. This may yet prove to be a more open and interesting contest than it appears. To be honest, the Conservatives, by choosing Boris Johnson, have essentially admitted that the game is up. Although the gaffe-prone and disorganised Henley MP- we are ...
It’s still 2007 (just) so just enough time to do Iain Dale’s Eight for 2008 meme. Over the next 12 months I would (realistically) like to see: Clegg to learn to trust his instincts, distrust his yes men and subsequently the Lib Dems to get back up to the low twenties in the opinion polls and to make steady progress over the year. After another period of stagnation, and Brown’s Black October a distant memory, the Tories to resume the civil war which was giving them so much fun up until September. A House of Lords Reform Bill to receive ...
It's been a theme throughout 2007 of people complaining about the new licensing laws from a couple of years ago causing an upsurge in binge drinking and in drink related health problems and anti-social behaviour. So no surprises that there's another such story: More than 500 people a day are being admitted to hospital because of alcohol-induced accidents, violence and liver damage, a charity said yesterday. The number of alcohol-related hospital admissions has increased by almost a third since the licensing laws were relaxed almost two years ago. The British Liver Trust said that the number now being admitted to ...
Oh yes - more prohibition is really the answer: The simple truth is that the conditions of the smoking ban are not too prohibitive, but that they are nowhere near prohibitive enough. Instead of producing the dream of a land free of the scourge of secondhand smoke, it's now virtually impossible to enter many pubs and clubs without first pushing your way through an unhealthy congregation of smokers converging around the doorway. Fuckwit! It was always likely to be the case that some bansturbators would press on for a complete ban on smoking but if you ask me, Mr Hallam's ...
This morning the Today programme (edited by a scientist) reminded me of the Liberal Conference's rejection of nuclear power twenty years ago. During the debate one of the defenders of nuclear power pointed out (rightly) that all forms of energy production involve risk and cited the Aberfan disaster. In my summing-up I contrasted the degree of risk with the above phrase. It was my first
I hope this is the paper getting a nought in the wrong place rather than the Tories trying to scare people: 14,000 acres of Green Belt land developed - Telegraph: Almost 14,000 acres of Green Belt land - the equivalent of 80,000 football pitches - have been lost to development since Labour came to power, figures have shown. Er, no. The smallest regulation football pitch (50 yards by 100 yards) takes up just over an acre (5000 sq yards = 1.033 acres) - the largest legal pitch being 2.69 acres. So somewhere in between might give you 8,000 pitches on ...
According to this morning's Guardian, Britain is languishing at the bottom of the league table when it comes to protecting people's privacy: The UK is billed as "an endemic surveillance society" alongside Russia, the US, Singapore and China in the survey of 47 countries by Privacy International (PI). Britain is bottom in Europe because of its cameras, ID card plans and lack of government accountability. Rankings are given for the UK as a whole as well as for its individual nations. "For the first time, Scotland has been given its own ranking score and performed significantly better than England and ...
Nick Clegg has delivered a confident New Year message which encapsulates a coherent Liberal Democrat message. It is on You Tube - click above to see it. The text is below. It is interesting that his message includes a mention of TV advertising aimed at kids. This was the thing that Nick mentioned when asked by Alex Wilcock (during the leadership campaign - at the bloggers' interview) for one
Religion is one of those areas where my liberalism simply fails me. Groups of people choose to believe something, and the rest of society agrees, for the sake of a peaceful life, to nod, smile and be accommodating, accepting and tolerant so long as others aren’t harmed. Yet having a religion is not the same as choosing wallpaper or a brand of car. It is a series of additional rules and laws that one must abide in order to happily co-exist with others of the same religion. Tony Blair, for example, is already under pressure from certain Catholics to apologise ...
I just got in from work to read the email version of Nick Clegg's New Year Message. He has also recorded it as a YouTube video: Personally, I was genuinely enthused by it, and it's not often I can say that about a Lib Dem email shot. I think this message contains the beginnings of a really strong narrative for Clegg to hang our policies off: what he terms "social mobility". I believe no-one
Dear Cllr Macpherson 2008 will be a momentous year for the Liberal Democrats. We have before us an unparalleled opportunity. We must reach beyond the stale two-party system to the millions of people who share our liberal values, and change Britain for the better. Let us show what that means in the local elections that face us this spring. Putting British families back in control of their everyday lives will be at the heart of everything we stand for. In control of their time, not fighting to make space for family life between the demands of work and the burden ...
A month ago Labour’s Miranda Grell lost her appeal against conviction for making a false statement about the Liberal Democrat candidate in the 2006 Waltham Forest local elections. I read in several places that she is the first person to have been charged or the first person convicted of this offence under Representation of the People [...]