Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The worst campaign call ever!

Unfortunately for John McCain, some states in America don't allow robocalls so the calls have to be made live by real people. This is a problem if your campaign hasn't got many enthusiastic volunteers and you have to hire in help. You end up with calls like the one here.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

US election night parties in the UK?

Whilst it seems the great and the good get to go to a party in the US embassy, what about the rest of us?

Adrian Sanders points us to this pro-Obama party in South Kensington run by Americans Away from Home and I've found this more bi-partisan event in Leicester Square.

So far so London-centric. What about the rest of the country? Flock Together only lists an event in Winchester. I seem to remember reading about a Welsh LibDem event but my best google-skillz can't unearth it. Is there anything else out there?

A feature of the two London parties seems to be live streaming of CNN & Fox which brings me to my next question, what are the terrestrial channels doing about it. Is there something for those without a party to watch on TV?

Well, the BBC are doing they're own thing but I'd much rather watch the real thing rather than what Dimbleby and his minions decide we should see, filtered through their bad-graphics and smug party! Also ITV are doing a results show but I'd rather have to ability to watch/laugh at Fox News when the good news (hopefully) starts coming in!

Is there a way to get the raw stuff (the interweb I suppose but it's not the same)?

It's time to party like it's 1997!

Friday, 24 October 2008

Soft on Crime - in the US

News that the Republicans are now making robocalls accusing Obama of being Soft on Crime because he opposes mandatory sentences for certain kinds of crimes like drug offenses and murder, made be think how the misleading fear issues that the right (and I include both establishment parties in this) use against "liberals" (well, that's only us really) are very similar both sides of the pond.

Ths is an extract from the call recording by Ex-Mayor Giuliani:

"Congressional liberals introduced a bill to eliminate mandatory prison sentences for violent criminals -- trying to give liberal judges the power to decide whether criminals are sent to jail or set free."

Er, isn't that the point of judges?

However this is precisely the attack that we get levelled against us (actually more by Labour, although they both do it) becuase we have a sensible sentencing policy that recognises the seperation of politicians and judges.

I wish I had some amazing conclusions to draw from this to help us in the future but I don't.
Only to refer readers to a previous post.

Is there a clever tactic to answer these attacks or or thre simple no-way to shortcut the process of explaining it over and over again? And how do we get people to listen?

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Palin - the gift that keeps giving!

After spending $150,000 on her wardrobe, did no-one think to check whether she was wearing a "Vote Democrat" scarf?

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Monday, 20 October 2008

Palin letters

I was reading the Sarah Palin section of the Sunday times letters page yesterday. They were mostly from disgusted republicans but this one from D Peake of Exeter made me laugh:

"Palin will be a breath of fresh air – something we could do with after the horror that is new Labour with its Blair-inspired destruction of our history and traditions."

Um, I think someone is confusing their countries...

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Racist Americans

In Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama, he mentioned how "the pictures on Al Jazeera" were doing harm to the view of America in the world.

Well, I think this is what he meant:

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Ros - "She's clearly the best one"

I sent away the wife (very non-political) with the three A4s that came with the presidential ballot paper and asked her to look through them and tell me how I should vote. After a while, I went and asked for her conclusions. (yes, it's that fun in our house!)

She pulled out Ros's and said "Well, she's clearly the best one".

About Lembit she said "He should stop appearing on TV".

On Chandila's, I'm afraid she was quite negative and used a lot of bad words, which I will paraphrase as "bloody student!". She also said "He'll probably be leading your party in the future as that's how politics works". She didn't mean that as a compliment!

Anyways, she decided on the order:

Ros - 1
Lembit - 2
Chandila - 3

which, interestingly, was exactly the same as mine.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Whadda mistaka to maka

It seems a junior lawyer has made an Excel conversion error that caused Barclays to buy up more of Lehman Brothers than it meant (ie. it got some extra rubbish bits).

Well, we've all made such mistakes, but usually not as costly.

Controversial Policies - Drop or Explain?

Himmelgarten Cafe has picked up on Chris Huhne defending judges ignoring minimum sentences and giving lower sentences and wonders whether we will, over time, avoid being crucified by the right-wing/populist press.

Well, I think it's the only strategy we can go with. If we are to have the numerous sensible, well-thought out policies that are also controversial or easily badly spun by our opponents that we undoubtedly and rightly do have, then hiding them away and hoping no-one will notice is not an option.

Because they will notice and they will say nothing now, but will bring them up at election time in a blaze of publicity when it is too late to even try and explain the nuances.

Unless we plan to drop these policies altogether (which would be bad) we have no choice but to get them out there and start defending them repeatedly as soon as possible.

One of reasons the establishment parties and media can characterise us as flip-flopping when we actually have the most stable and consistent platform of all the parties (since our inception) is that sometimes the answer really is "yes and no". We're never going to be able to overcome this in the current soundbite debate. So either we dilute our principles or we find better ways of explaining ourselves.

I know conventional wisdom is that people don't look at literature for very long and you can't get away with any kind of detailed argument but I've always wondered whether the party literature topbods could produce a serious of single issue (and I really mean single issue) foci that would explain one of our nuances positions (Why mandatory sentences are bad, Why should drug possessors not go to jail, etc.) in detail. Maybe a "What We Think" series. (since no one bloody knows anyway!)

I suspect this may be pie in the sky but one can dream...

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Presidential ballot papers

Well, I got the presidential ballot papers today.

Lembit has the better looking and set-out bit of A4 although his pitch seems to be "I can build on my high profile" for the benefit of the party of course but I'm not surely sure he really needs to or needs the position of president to do it.

At least he has a realistic membership target: "Achieve positive membership growth by 2010". I seem to recall Simon promising something ridiculous like doubling membership last time.

Ros's was the second best A4 although I'm not sure it was really necssary to have a contact cut-out and send back box (I want to: Sign up as a supporter, Help, Find out more about Ros, Make a donation, Receive campaign news) . Surely that's a bit late? I imagine LibDems are the kind to return their ballots pretty quickly (is there evidence either way?).

I suspect it's the experience of too many focii!

Not too much jumps out at me from the page but I suspect not being Lembit maybe sufficient.

Chandila Fernando's is an odd one. He seems to have quite diverse "Industry Experience" (I want to know more about the Indian cinema themed restaurant!). However I'm always slightly put off by candidates who do the CV thing but with the same kind of wording you use to impress employers by claiming wider experience than one may have (I'm not saying this is the case but it reads that way to me).

In the same way his degree is (Lond.) which could mean almost anything from Imperial to South Bank. Not that that matters in the slightest, it just feels wrong somehow. In fact that was the first thing that leapt out at me.

The second thing was "Atrract (sic) new talent". Oh well, we've all left a typo in and only noticed once we've printed silly amounts. I can only imagine the pit of the stomach feeling he must have felt (or do I just over-react!)

As other have pointed out, he seems to be a breath of fresh air but some of his ideas are dangerously half-cock I think. I would fight tooth and nail any hare-brained attempt to replace our Libby in some fruitless rebranding exercise!

Also, outside of the blogosphere and party apparachiks, who has actually heard of the Bones commision or if they have, read it?

Also he did a politics degree, so I don't like him! :) Way to insult the majority of the political blogosphere, I'd wager.

I shall be voting Ros 1 but haven't yet decided on further preferencing...

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Troopergate: Unbridled Joy!

Is it wrong/immature to react to the conclusion of the Troopergate report with unbridled joy?

I have to say I did. When I heard the news on the 9am Radio 4 news this morning whilst lying in bed and did let out a semi-shouted "Yes!". That was in reaction to the news by the way (Mrs. L was still asleep:). And when it came round again at 10am I still listened to it with a big grin on my face.

I've found it fascinating to follow its reporting on US news sites and especially how the Republicans/Fox News are responding (by pretending it said something else really). Apparently the reason it came out so late on Friday was that the Republicans were delaying it past the deadline for the evening news bulletins. I hope it isn't forgotten or spun away by Monday.

I've found this US election the most interesting one I can remember.

Letwin says bankers will respond to public opinion

On Any Questions, Oliver Letwin said about the dubious bonus culture that he thought that bankers would see what public opinion was about then and change their ways because of this!

Yeah, right!

Banker 1: I hear public opinion is against us being paid loads whatever we do.
Banker 2: Blimey, I didn't realise that public opinion was against us, we should pay ourselves less.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Iain Dale has finally come off the US Election fence

As evidenced here, he's come out reluctantly for Obama.

Damn him, I was going to write a piece entitled "When will Iain Dale come off the fence?". Just goes to show that you should strike when the inspiration iron is hot!

I'm used to his blind partisan (and in election periods, too shrill to read) posts on UK politics but I never quite understood why he was applying his same "style" to the US elections.

Especially his repeated dogged defence of the clearly unsuitable Sarah Palin, picking up and blindly running with every Republican defence line (rabidly posted in the comments of a thousand leftish US blogs).

I never really understood why anyone from a mainstream UK party would ever support the republicans. A far as I can see both (yes only two) US parties are more right-wing than our entire mainstream politics in terms of the extent of the influence of big business on and the bareface lobbying/bribing by big companies of all levels and parties of government (which seems to always work). Maybe that's naive/partisan of me to see that as right-wing...

However on the flip side they are both big government spenders and protectionist.

Socially of course, Republicans are so far off the right of the scale it's untrue and this has been the case for as long as I can remember.

And before people like Iain Dale say it was different when his hero Reagan was there, I suggest he watch Boogieman: The Lee Atwater Story which I'm pretty sure I saw on BBC4 the other night (or at least a version of it). Scary stuff.

Anyway Iain assures us that now nearly half of his powerful new friends wouldn't lynch him given half a chance anymore, so that's okay.

Clearly, the reality-rhetoric gap eventually got too wide even for him.
Fingers crossed for election day...

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Working for the public good in the money markets!

Some religious bod on Thought for the Day on this morning Today programme said we should pay attention to the "pastoral needs" City types who have been affected by the recent financial crisis.

If his argument was that they have families to feed too and they can be hurt like anyone then I could see that but what he said was that "whilst there were some rogue traders like rogue plumbers and rogue car-salesmen" there were many people of "integrity and faith who work for the public good" because they manage money markets and give to charity!!!

Give me a break!! What do people who go to work in the City really go there for? The "public good" or oodles of cash?

There was a time when the Church used to actually apply the teachings of Jesus* to their public pronouncements on society. It's a far cry from how the Church of Scotland rightly treated Margaret Thatcher when she came up to lecture them about morality based on her perverse reading of the Good Samaritan!

*I'm not religious, it's just the principle of the thing. :)

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Barclaycard are sneaky gits!

Having abandoned my Barclaycard long ago, I am unfortunately now back in the fold as they have taken over my Morgan Stanley/Goldfish cashback card.

So they've cancelled my old card before its expiry and sent me a new one, meaning I'll have to be vigilante for invalidated card details left around the interweb when I want to buy something. I have also had to register for their online serivce in order to easily pay the bill.

Now on all previous cards (including the last Barclaycard) the online pay options were as follows:

- Pay previous bill in ful - say £500 (let's call that B)
- Pay minimum amount - say - £20
- Pay custom amount

I would always pay the previous bill in full.

Now, I notice the options are:

Your previous bill was £500 (B).
- Pay current balance - ie. previous bill + recent spending - say £500 + £200 (B + R)
- Pay minimum amount - say - £20
- Pay custom amount

So, there is no longer an option to just pay my bill. I have to copy the amount into the custom amount box.

They are trying to trick me into over paying! If you weren't used to this you would just pay the larger amount thinking this is what you do (as it's presented as the default!).

Sneaky gits!

The Black Police Association are Idiots?

I'm glad it's not just me, Meral's Musings thinks there is something amiss here too.

Please tell me I'm missing a subtlety here but the Black Police Association (BPA) is to not just boycott recruitment of BME officers but to actually use members' money to take out adverts in papers telling potential BME recruits not to apply to the force!

Isn't this completely wrong-heading, counter-productive and idiotic? Am I missing something?

I heard this first on the Today programme yesterday morning and whilst they were a useful and needed debate about racism in the force, everybody was pussyfooting around the use of these ridiculous tactics.

Maybe this was just done to raise awareness and to prompt action (such as the varous reviews that have now been promised), in which case I guess you could make an argument for the threat of a boycott (but not of actively discouraging BME recruits). However, I caught the head of the BPA on the London News:

Q: Do you welcome the enqiry set up by Boris?

A: Yes, very much so, a really positive step.

Q: Will you withdraw your boycott?

A: No.

Again, this was not pushed any further.

How can stopping BME recruits ever be helpful in tackling racism in an organisation? It's madness. Also, in the case of the police, this willl actually have a negative effect on community relations and therefore on the ability to solve/prevent crime.

And surely it will make it harder to create a representative force as the BPA have just told a swathe of BMEs not to join!

Is this just a case of bolshy egos at the top of a sortof-union or am I missing a really clever tactic that isn't at all counter-productive?

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Esther vs. the PC Brigade

I don't watch Tonight often as I know it will be terrible sensationalist dumbed-down rubbish that will either cause me to shout at the TV or my brain to melt, but sometimes I'm pulled in by a title...

I see that Norfolk Blogger has already blogged on this. I completely agree with what he said.

The premise was that people wouldn't approach lost kids due to fears of being labeled a paedophile which I think is a fair point (and a trend that worries me).

However, this is nothing to do with Political Correctness! It's like in Cameron's speech when we said he was sick of Human Rights and Health & Safety and then listed lots of things that were to do with Health & Safety and nothing to do with Human Rights!

Also, the irony wasn't lost on me that this climate of fear over paedophiles was created and encouraged by appalling tabloid programmes like and including Tonight (and maybe a bit of Esther) in the first place.

Anway, back to the programme. They put young kids in a shopping centre and told them to look lost and then tutted when people didn't stop. The first kid (a boy) stood still by an escalator. I have to say I don't think I would have stopped (unless I could see he'd been there for a while) as he wasn't doing a very good job of looking distressed.

The girl did a better job but unsurprisingly most people who approached them were women (who are never dodgy you see). One man didn't approach but alerted a security guard because he was a sports team coach and had been told in training never to approach a child on your own to avoid people misconstruing your intentions. The other man did stop but deliberately kept his distance and looked distinctly uncomfortable when a charging Esther and film crew bore down on him!

I have to say, I would also be nervous stopping imagining an angry tabloid-reading tattoed parent coming runnning at me from a nearby JJB Sports at any moment and causing me bodily harm. Not merely because they thought I was a paedophile but also because when I'd explained they would take it as an insult to their parenting abilities!

I never know what to make of Esther these days...

Now the two party conferences are over...

Or so Jonathan Dimbleby informed us on the trailer for Any Questions on Friday's Today programme.