Friday, 11 December 2009

Nothing to hide, everything to fear reveals Durham Police

Of the legal to possess substance mephedrone, Inspector Kevin Tuck of Durham police said:

"In Durham police have taken a stance and anyone found with it will be arrested on suspicion of possession of a banned substance."

He adds: "They will be taken to a police cell, their DNA and fingerprints taken and that arrest, depending upon enquiries, could have serious implications for example on future job applications"

The Register has the full frightening story here.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

If you only do one thing...

Then join the new LibDem Media Watch ACT group. Liberal England has already encouraged people to join and I want to add to that call.

I think this is the single most important (low-impact) thing activists of the armchair* or non-armchair variety can do. Currently there are 5o members, every single member of ACT (currently >1000) should be on it.

Our media coverage/treatment is, in my opinion, the last big barrier for us (the final frontier), we have the right principles, policies and people (again in my opinion) but it's just getting our message across.

Yes, it might not make a vast different to get fair representation on This Week, say, as clearly it's only saddos like us that watch it** but it's a start and the culture will eventually permeate through to more important/widely-watched programmes.

The current deliberate-seeming policy of keeping us away during the Iraq enquiry (non-coverage of Nick at PMQs, no LibDems on Question Time or Any Questions), allowing the normal establishment type to blether on about how no-one could have known at the time or how they're support was less than complete (er...remember "Charlie Chamberlain"?) and generally rewriting history and defending the indefensible is...er...indefensible.

It's time to stop pussy-footing around the issue and let them know that:

"We're as mad as hell, and we're not going to take this anymore!"

Let's man the virtual barricades and get complaining!


*Having shamefully been an armchair activist for the last few years, I actually went and stood in the biting cold and talked to the public on a LibDem stall this morning. Unfortunately, I think I may have insulted a neighbour by not initially recognizing her! Well I was in full LibDem prosthetising mode:

"Hi, I'm from the local LibDems...blather blather...local issues..."
"I see you've sold your house"
"er..."

**In fact I stopped watching it years ago as the three-pronged axis of smug (Portillo, Abbot and Neil) makes me want to put my fist through the screen

Friday, 27 November 2009

The BBC's establishment bias

A lot of people have blogged about the decision to drop Jo Swinson from Question Time.

Interestingly, I had a similar reaction to when Nick Griffin was on, "At least we won't be the ones to be patronised and rudely cut off and not allowed comeback by a smug establishment-biased Dimbleby"

(It has been pointed out elsewhere of course that we were still maligned with no comeback by at least one panelist - this time Nicola Sturgeon, usually Caroline Lucas can relied upon to fulfill this role)

It has been suggested that we all complain more. I completely agree (although I have been remiss on this count in the past). I see that someone has set up a group on ACT to protest against Jo's dropping. Maybe there should be a general "The BBC have done it again" group to co-ordinate (but in a completely individual way!) complaints to the BBC everytime they do somthing similar (misrepresent or omit us).

We all know that famously we have people timing our coverage during the election campaign so we can prove the discrepancy to the BBC and make them make up for it during the rest of a GE campaign. I know some might argue about the downsides of p*ssing off the BBC. But I think relentless pressure is the only way to go.

Further evidence of the BBC's indefensible position (WARNING: about to use the Daily Mail as evidence!), is that after Nick's excellent performance at PMQs where he genuinely raised a point of wide interest which skewered the Prime Minister, the BBC decided that it obviously wasn't worthy of wider reporting. Nick Robinson's PMQ report doesn't even mention it. Then I go shopping yesterday and what should I see i the supermarket but the front page of the Daily Mail:

"Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg ambushed the Prime Minister in the Commons, angrily accusing him of trying to 'suffocate' the Chilcot Inquiry"

and goes on to mention Nick 6 times including in pictures and pull-out quotes.


Oh, so it did happen and somebody thought it might be worth reporting...

Friday, 20 November 2009

LibDems in the clear!

Finally!

In yer face Dale.

Ahem. Anyway, in summary:

“Having considered all the evidence in this case, we have concluded that 5th Avenue Partners Limited met the requirements to be a permissible donor. The Electoral Commission will be taking no further action in this case.“

UPDATE: LibDemVoice has the announcement here.

Friday, 13 November 2009

"Thatcher Dead" text mix up

This story made me laugh. Canada's transport Minister's cat, Thatcher (named after the iron lady), died so he texted friends "Thatcher had died". This soon lead to their prime minister being informed and it unraveled from there...

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

That letter

I wasn't going to write about the Brown letter as it's been covered extensively elsewhere. Most liberal thinking bloggers have been disgusted (by the Sun). The normally spot-on Charlotte Gore initially jumped the wrong way (IMHO) but then corrected herself.

Anyway, I have really bad hand writing (I expect this is something that may unite many bloggers, ah the lure of the simple keyboard...) and this morning Mrs. L commented that Brown hadn't misspelt the mother's name as his handwriting looks just like mine!

I think it's a credit to Brown that he takes the time to personally writes these letters. Writing a letter is a real effort for me and I wouldn't be surprised if our Prime Minister doesn't sometimes find himself sticking his tongue out in concentration whilst writing them.

Any, I was also sick of this whole "She thought to press record" thing. Are they really suggesting there wasn't a Sun Journalist sitting with her waiting for the call? I see Moments of Clarity have already covered this angle.

A Fox news future is of course what Call me Dave wants for all of us and I do sometimes wonder if it isn't time to batten down the hatches in preparation of a Tory government and see if there aren't a few good things in our country that we can't concentrate on trying to save from the oncoming gleeful wave of destruction?

Sunday, 8 November 2009

What should I get instead of Norton?

My Norton subscription is coming to end and and recently it has been causing me terrible problems with it using 99% CPU (ccSvcHst.exe) whilst seemingly doing nothing.

I want to replace it with something else. Should I just go for another commercial program like McAfee or should I go for the free AVG (which geeks seem to rave about)?

Any recommendations?

Saturday, 7 November 2009

WARNING: There are no First Capital Connect trains tomorrow (Sunday)

At our local station, there is a poster up informing the long-suffering passengers that there will be no trains tomorrow (Sunday) at all on the First Capital Connect Great Northern route (London to Stevenage, Hertford, Cambridge etc.) due to a shortage of drivers!

This doesn't help Mrs. LibCync who is staying over in London tonight and will need to try and make her way back home tomorrow. Seeking an alternative way home is made even harder by the fact that half the tube isn't working.

Anyway, this appears to be the result of an unofficial ban on rest day working linked to pay talks and it's also affecting other parts of the county.

Just thought I'd raise the alert for anyone planing to travel by train tomorrow. It was the first I'd heard of it.

Monday, 26 October 2009

This should be the end of Patrick Mercer's career

I was going to blog in indignation about Patrick Mercer saying of a (possibly bad-taste) joke by Jimmy Carr (the famous...er...bad taste comedian) that it:

"should be the end of Carr's career"

but then I find my moral high-ground being shot out from under me by friendly fire.

Nick Harvey is displaying Sandra Gidley-levels of opportunistic illiberalism here!

When will we learn?

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

House Price rises caused by lack of supply shocker

Damn right! Speaking as someone attempting to move at the moment, I can confirm that demand is massively outstripping supply.

At last someone speaks the truth.

After this BBC article a couple of weeks ago which trumpeted the rise in house prices with only a sentence referencing a possible supply issue it's good to see another BBC article today correctly identifying lack of supply as a driver.

Certainly, in my area, any 3 bed house that's any good doesn't even make it onto rightmove. Sold signs just appear.

UPDATE: Doh! Can't even get the title right...changed now

Telegraph Dr Who Captioning fail

Apparently William Ecclestone played the Doctor in 2005 according to this Telegraph gallery.

Friday, 2 October 2009

BBC news lack-of-perspective morons

According to the BBC news at 6, Rio's Olympic 2016 win (and Chicago's loss) is like:

"an international referendum on [Obama's] first nine months of leadership"

Er....what? Yeah, absolutely, the world is totally bummed by Obama's healthcare reforms and have really stuck it to him through this decision of the IOC, hell yeah!

Also, apparently, Rio won by basing their bid on sport! Who'd have though it? Basing an olympic bid on sport? That's the kind of revolutionary thinking you get in South America! We'd never have thought of that here...er...hang on...

Dozens of people turn up to see Clegg

Is it just me or does the phrase "Dozens of people turned up" in this article in the York Press about Nick's York public meeting mean that either:

a) Not many people turned up (a bit embarrassing)
or
b) A journalists is using it as a way of belittling us (cynical, moi?)

Does anyone now what the actual figure was?

Monday, 28 September 2009

Channel 4 should be ashamed

What is this sub "Tonight with Trevor MacDonald" sh*t that's supposedly about MPs abusing tax payers money?

This is really quite pathetic.

Parliamentary trips should be transparent
Some should be justified

YES

Some MPs tack on Family holidays to business trips (that happens all the time in the private sector) and don't cost the taxpayer anymore.

MPs have to sit through dull local entertainment put on by the local Government and sometimes take part.

Er, what am I missing?

Is this it?

I'm off to watch the second Corrie, let me know if it gets any better.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The Liberal Democrats have proposed not renewing Trident. David Cameron wants to increase the price of salads

I know several people have already blogged about Dave's exciting proposals (!) but I just wanted to applaud the utterly genius set of quotes from Danny Alexander. I also liked:

"While it's nice to finally have some concrete proposals from the Conservatives, at this rate it would take them several centuries to balance the books"

More like this please!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Need to read your local newspaper from afar?

Then My Digital Newspaper is for you. Simply go to the website and look up your local paper and if there is a digital version (and it uses the PageSuite platform which they mostly seem to) then you'll be able to find it and read it here.

Even if your local paper doesn't claim to have a digital version it may still be here (our local paper has been claiming that its digital version no longer works for the last month or so yet it's always been accessible though this page!).

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Dead magician is elected president of Gabon

An ex magical consultant to Paul Daniels and Jonathan Creek inspiration has won the Gabon's presidential election.

Oh, not that Ali Bongo.

I learnt my one and only party trick from an Ali Bongo magic book. The amazing detachable thumb or something like that. It still amuses small children and slow adults from time to time.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Former LibDem admits hunting offences

Thought that'd get your attention! I'm actually talking Clarissa Dickson-Wright who along with racehorse trainer Sir Mark Prescott has pleaded guilty to attending hare coursing events.

I remember a few years back hearing the news on the radio that she had defected from the LibDems to the Tories to which my instant reaction was:

"She was in the LibDems?!?!?!?!"

I hardly thought it was a great blow to the cause at the time. Seriously, did anyone know she was a member before she left?

I do wonder about some people and the parties they join, I mean how does one explain Mark Littlewood? Only joking...sort of...

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Bear stuck in skateboarding park

A bear in Colorado fell into a skateboarding park overnight and they had to put a ladder in for it to climb out!

The BBC has the pictures.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Can a LibDem stand as an Independent?

Quick question for all you party rules aficionados. Can a LibDem member stand as an Independent in a local election and stay in the party? This isn't for me (!) but I've been asked about this by someone and I said that I thought it was probably okay as long as you're not standing against an official party candidate. Is this the correct position?

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Barclays mortgage leaflet fail

I recently picked up an A4 leaflet in my local Barclays branch (because it amused me).
Leaving aside the fact that I find black and white photocopies scream professionalism (!), can anyone spot the mistake:

Friday, 14 August 2009

An interesting twist to the latest Green Party shenanigans

UPDATE: (an anon comment has pointed out that) The Register story has been updated and now finishes with:

According to the Greens: "There have been inaccuracies in reporting. The Party did not make the allegations indicated in The Register, nor was Mr Killock suspended by the Party." We accept that any allegations concerning the leadership referendum were not made by the Green Party, and accept its assurances that Mr Killock has not been suspended.

What's the nettiquette here? Do I leave the original posting as is:

Norfolk Blogger has been covering the recent spate of murky goings in the Green Party and in this post he talks about the curious case of the misuse of a membership list to aid one side of an internal campaign. Well, it turns out that the executive member who was thrown out of the party for five years for leaking personal data, Jim Killock is now the chief executive of the Open Rights Group (ORG) which campaigns for digital rights and against the...er...misuse of personal data!

When this unfortunate coincidence was put to the ORG, their response appeared to be:

"la, la, la, I'm not listening"

The Register has the full story here.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Devilish Italian Beer

I thought I'd share with you a picture of the amusingly named beer I found in Tuscany:

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Chiropractors reap the internet whirlwind

The ever-excellent Ben Goldacre has an article in the Guardian on the response from the internet (and scientific bloggers in particular) to the on-going case in which the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) is suing the writer Simon Singh for suggested that some of the treatments of serious illnesses such as colic are "bogus". The word "bogus" is the key here as the infamous Mr Justice Eady (he of libel-tourism and many other dubious rulings fame) has ruled that the use of the word bogus implies deliberate dishonesty by the BCA and not, as Simon Singh claims, just that treatments are not based on any sensible evidence and therefore...well...bogus.

Anyway I digress (there is very good round up of the case so far here), the internet backlash has started as someone found out that there was an ASA ruling on this very subject that said such claims breached "truthfulness". Certain bloggers have then used this precedent to complain to local trading standards around the country and to the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) who regulate the trade about every local chiropractor who has a website containing these dodgy claims.

One amusing result of this is a panicky email (which can read in full here) from one chiropratice association, McTimoney, advising all their members to take down there websites ASAP and also to remove the use the the word "Doctor" from any literature or business cards unless it's made clear that they are not medical professionals as otherwise they may be liable to prosecution!

Ha ha! Right back at you! I just hope that Simon Singh goes on to win his court case and doesn't face massive costs.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Why is everyone one falling for the Cameron blunder spin?

Is it just me or were the use by David Cameron of a couple of "naughty" words not entirely a mistake?
I mean, he is a practiced PR man and the result of this so-called "blunder" has been wall-to-wall positive coverage of Cameron being a normal bloke who your man on the Clapham omnibus can relate to and also no doubt increased online views of his interview.

I bet if Nick Clegg said something similar the media wouldn't notice...

Monday, 27 July 2009

Bouncers and hospital staff allowed to issue fines!

In Henry Porter's Blog in the Guardian today he reveals that bouncers have been issuing fines in Norfolk without the knowledge of the local magistrates (and without any legal process) because the local police had accredited them to do so without consulting the magistrates or anyone else it seems. (There are also 8 staff at Addenbrooke's hospital who have been similarly accredited)

Apparently this orwellian "Community Safety Accreditation Scheme" was introduced in the Police Reform Act way back in 2002. I know the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, but did anyone notice this awful piece of legislation at the time? I certainly don't remember it. Scary!

Something else for the great repeal bill!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Google StreetBike in Siena

I'm back from my hols (sunny weather thanks) and I bring tidings of the Google StreetBike (well more of a tricycle) spotted in the historic Tuscan town of Siena. It seems that the rider needs a mate to help read the map and also to push him off (although you can't see this in the third picture this is what he was doing). Unfortunately I didn't manage to set up a surveillance feedback loop as before as others on holiday didn't seem to be that bothered by this chance sighting (shocking I know!) and wanted to move on and see the town. I suggested that we could walk alongside it and therefore be in all the pictures of Siena that it took but this idea was met with some resistance!





Sunday, 12 July 2009

Firefox 3.5 is so slow to start up

Having upgraded from Firefox 3 to 3.5 (I have yet to try out the new porn^H^H^H^Hprivacy mode!), I am quite dissapointed to find that it takes about 45 seconds (!) to start up with little or no CPU usage in that time and then takes ages to shutdown with very high CPU usage.

After some googling, I found this solution that deals with the slow startup problem. Clearing the temporary internet files really did work for me, well it reduced startup time from 45 seconds to about 10 seconds.

I have found much discussion of the shutdown problem but no solutions yet...

Friday, 10 July 2009

The hell of Luton Airport

You may remember that "London" Luton Airport was introducing a £1 charge to drop people off, well, it has been introduced and predictable chaos has ensued according to this Times article.

To make this system work they have "re-engineered" the road system and it had been chaotic with tailbacks of more than a mile greeting travellers. The management said it could take up to "six months to clear the congestion caused by the new scheme"!

You should also read the comments, they are all depressingly true. A number of times I've had to queue down some dingy stairs and that was just to get into the EasyJet holding pen. The ceilings in the check-in areas are low and just make it depressing from the start.

We are due to fly from Luton in the near future, we are equidistant from Stansted (a nice airy airport with good facilities) and Luton but the times worked out better from Luton. I'd forgotten how grim it is. I do this everytime thinking it doesn't matter what the airport is like. As I get older (and the justified complaints from the wife get louder), I'm not sure I can keep doing this so hopefully I will engineer it so this is my last trip from Luton.

Just to give an example of the general shabbyness of the Luton offering, I looked into getting some foreign currency. Now it always used to be the case (thanks Fool) that the cheapest way (better than high street) to get currency was to reserve it online for airport pick up with TravelEx (they would guarantee current rate or better). I used to do this a lot from Stanstead and it worked very well until they replaced their TravelExs with TTTMoneyCorp (another dubious BAA deal to squeeze out more money no doubt). To be fair to them they seem to have improved their offerings and website so are now comparable.

However if you look at Luton Airport (and you can only find this out by interrogating their Flash terminal map), you see that their provider of choice is The Change Group who have an unbelievably shabby website form that doesn't tell you any information that you's like to know like what are the rates, are they guaranteed and will you be open when I turn up! If you wade through their T&Cs , you will find out that the rates are whatever they are when you come into the airport (inflated!), if you want to cancel a reservation you'll have to ring the shop at the relevant airport (very high tech!) and the opening times are...damn I can't find it now (very useful) but it said somewhere on their shonky site (the currency converter is still "under construction") that they were "normal opening hours".

Bah! Anyway, I shall report back once I have gone through Luton hell again.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Another Labour press release masquerading as news in the Guardian

I'll just draw your attention to this Guardian article about Labour selecting its candidate for the Glasgow North East by-election (the ex-speaker's seat). It starts:

"Labour has tried to seize the initiative in the Glasgow North East byelection forced by the resignation of Michael Martin by selecting a prominent local activist as the party's candidate."

Now I can't imagine them starting an article about the SNP (or LibDem) selection in the same way, including copious standard fighting quotes from the candidate and then go onto to repeat an non-story smear about Labour from the SNP press office like they do about the SNP form Labour here:

"The SNP expects to select its candidate next Tuesday. Party officials denied charges from the Scottish secretary, Jim Murphy, that they were struggling to find a candidate"

Anyway, at least they have selected a local activist:

He said "This is my home; I know the challenges and problems that local people face every day."

uh huh...

"Labour has chosen William Bain, 36, the locally born secretary of Glasgow North East constituency Labour party..."

good good...

"...and a public law lecturer at London South Bank University."

Eh? How does that work then? Does he commute to London everyday for work? How "prominent" a local activist can he be?

Top quality investigative journalism from the Guardian again when it comes to Labour!

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Radio weatherman loses it after saying "rainy sh*te"

Ha ha. I've just listened to the weather on Radio 4 (at 12:57pm), and the weatherman was talking about Glastonbury. He said showers there might lead to a "rainy sh*te" instead of "rainy site". He then proceeded to stumble to the end of the broadcast whilst periodically breaking into laughter.

If it's put on listen again (not there yet) it'll be here.

UPDATE: Found it on the iPlayer at about 56m30s in.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The amazing folding plug

Why didn't somebody think of this before? It's not often you see a new genius idea but I think this is one of them. The Register has the full story. Apparently, they are no current plans to bring this to mass production. It needs to be bought to market and soon! I particularly like the compact multi-plug & USB adapter.

Clegg's going to Glastonbury!

Well, that's something that I was not expecting to see. Our illustrious leader Nick Clegg is speaking about the protecting the environment and reinvigorating our democracy at Glastonbury on Sunday at 2pm.

Sounds like a good thing to do though. Well done Nick! I guess this is the flip side to the outreach work being done by St. Vince. Hope he manages to take in some bands whilst he's there.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

We don't exist again, both party leaders responded to the election of speaker

I was going to blog about how on the BBC 10 0'clock news last night they had both Brown's and Cameron's welcoming speeches to the new speaking but not Nick Clegg's (especially considering he was the only one who was a bit different) but I see Alex Wilcock has done it much better already!

Don't ya just love the establishment...

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Normal service is resumed, Iain Dale back to his partisan dissembling self

Phew! After my slightly worrying previous post praising Iain Dale for not making hay with the on-going Michael Brown donation palaver and detailing a growing respect for him (eek!) he has reverted to type with this post about the recent selection of April Pond to fight the Norwich North by-election for us.

Apparently selecting the already selected PPC for a new seat made out of some of Norwich North as our candidate for the current Norwich North seat fought under the old boundaries makes us "a bit dim"! He is also careful to stay on script and push the Tory squeeze message "Let's make an assumption that she loses - after all, the LibDems have never really done anything in Norwich North in the past and always come third".

I find this somehow reassuring as it reinforces my existing views and pulls me back from the brink of having to challenge them. Thanks Iain for providing certainty in an uncertain world!

Iain Dale on my mind...

When I heard the unwelcome news on the morning radio that Police are AGAIN looking into that Micheal Brown donation...sigh... my first thought was "Iain Dale's going to have a field day".

Pleasantly confounding my expectations, both Dale and Guido haven't taken the opportunity to rehash the whole thing and spread the usual innuendo. Maybe they can see that this particular aspect of the story is a bit silly. I am not a lawyer but how can there have been money laundering if the fraudster didn't get his newly cleaned money channeled back to him? Unless they was some clever scam involving him running a bogus billboard company! (There wasn't, right?).

Anyway back on (slightly silly) topic, I even listen to and enjoyed Dale's recent all-day local election results programme on Play Radio UK (intelligent political analysis that wasn't all about the Westminster village shock horror, BBC take note). And rather worryingly, when he appeared in his pyjamas on News 24...er...BBC News...whatever, I was pleasently surprised and started paying attention in a "oh someone worth listening to" kind of way.

Arrgh, this is just wrong isn't it? There must be something wrong with me...

Friday, 12 June 2009

Is this the worst film review ever?

Well, obviously, I'd never go and see the film Doghouse as it sounds bad and has Danny Dyer in it but I was amused to see such thoughts articulated in a proper review on a film site.

It ends with:

"Indeed this film is even an affront to the straight–to–DVD horror–gore–comedy genre and all involved should be summarily barred from making films ever again. A hate–filled and hateful film."

I don't think they like it!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Police tell schoolkids to report classmates who may be forming "extremist views" via a cartoon lion!

Absolutely outrageous. The Register has the story.

Apparently police in Lancashire are showing a video to schoolkids of a cartoon lion that tells kids that terrorists can look like anyone and they should report anyone with dodgy views to the authorities. They illustrate this message with the story of Guy Fawkes on the spurious pretext that his view "began forming" while he was at school!

I despair, I really do.

How to sell electoral reform - ditch proportionality!

As per, events seems to have overtaken me again although looks like it may be a typical Brown fudge.

Anyway, onto selling electoral reform. Firstly, don't call is "Electoral Reform"! It sounds incredibly dull (hell, it can be to which anyone who has sat next to me at a dinner party can attest!) I'm asleep already just at the mention of it. We need a better name, "voting reform" is all I can come up with. Any better ideas? Okay we'll stick with "voting reform" for the minute. At least it does what it says on the tin.

Secondly, proportionality. Just ditch it! Forget about it never mention it again (much). Ignore it. Really!

Whilst we all know that pluralism and working together is a good thing, most people will be persuaded by the argument that it will be a political fix.

Also, arguing for proportionality opens us to accusations of self interest which will, I'd argue, play quite well to discredit our "independent" credentials.

Making proportionality the headline opens us up to, in the minds of the public, powerful counterarguments (or smears!). Look out for a slew of further shallow articles on the danger of weak governments.

I actually don't think proportionality is the important thing. Being able without to vote for who you think is best free form tactical concerns is a far more important aspect.

Yes, we all want STV (we all do don't we?) and we know it's "more proportional" (hmm maybe also replace the word "proportional" with "reflective of/responsive to the voter's wishes"?) but we really can't hope to sell it on this point.

Proportionality just stinks of deals in smoke-filled rooms and party control and taking away power from the people (the less said about the Euro closed list system the better!). Actually lets say something about the Euro closed list system. Most people will understand proportional representation as being exactly that, a horrible closed list system that exists to support party control. One reason is that that's all they're used to (in England) but secondly, we can go on about the maths of transfers to we're blue in the face but it's not straightforward and to your average person the only way you can acheive proportionality is by using a party list at a high level (regional or national).

Proportionality will always be seen as a mathematical fix out of the hands of the voters.

I think they are two arguments and two arguments alone that we should use.

1. The voter should be able to vote for who they want without considerations of tactical voting and it should be easier for (popular!) independents to break through ("Safe seats are sleazy seats") - The FPTP -> AV argument

2. The voter should have intraparty choice so they can still vote Conservative (say) without having to vote for the one with the duck house - The AV -> STV argument.

Yes, you might then mention that STV is also then more representative of voters opinions but don't say proportional!

I would also argue that arugment 1 is a damn sight more straightforward to make than argument 2 (and needs to be won first). You can see were I'm going here...

Yes, of course I want STV and I take aboard Mark's argument that people only have one voting reform in them (and it would be great to do it all in one and obviously we should aim for that) but I agree with Jock Coats that we could and should put up with AV for an election as a staging post.

I am under no illusions (and nor is anyone else) that once Camron is in for the next decade (pessimistic moi?) all talk of reform will be thrown out the window and the status quo will then persist so I think we need to get something in that he can't undo and I just don't think we can win the argument for STV in the time left with the politicians or, more importantly, the public. If there is a chance of locking AV in (which has important benefits for the voters even though it is most definitely not proportional) we should grab it with both hands.

It seems the party is also waiting to see which way the wind is blowing.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Visit a farm tomorrow - Open Farm Sunday

I meant to blog about this ages ago but with one day to go...

After a hard week's campaigning why not relax with the family by going to a farm on Sunday.
Tomorrow is Open Farm Sunday, a scheme run by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) to encourage the local community into local farms. Each farm will be running different activities, from just looking through to pig racing. You can find local particapating farms on their website here.

Friday, 5 June 2009

A BNP councillor in leafy Hertfordshire!

Oh dear. The BNP has won the South Oxley division of Hertfordshire County Council by 27 votes. Was this expected at all? Looks like a 3/4 way marginal.

Arise Lord Sugar!

Sigh...There's not much you can say about this!

I'll just leave you with this excellent amusing youtube mashup of "sralun":

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

I was underwhelmed by Clegg at PMQs. Am I in the minority?

Have just watched Prime Minister's Questions live for the first time in a very long time.
I was underwhelmed by Nick Clegg's questions and cringed when he said:

"Isn't it true that the real choice for the electorate is between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats?"

I always think those statements are a bit embarrassing and have unfortunate echoes of "prepare for government". Just who are they for? The electorate? If so, they can surely see through them?

I see the BBC 1 O'Clock news cut that bit off thankfully.

I guess we had to go on the rudderless Labour theme to get on the news (or would they have had to cover Nick anyway due to RPA?) but we surely need to grab every opportunity we can to seem distinctive?

Having said all that, it seems this isn't the prevailing wisdom. Clegg's performance seems to have been well received over at Caron's Musings and even Iain Dale marked Clegg's performance highest (I agree with that, Cameron was lacklustre) and said the above quote was "a corker".

Maybe I'm out of touch, or everyone else is...

UPDATE: It seems Nick's quotes are being used more than Cameron's over at the BBC, so maybe we did the right thing. I still don't like the fact it makes Nick look like just another politician obsessing about Westminster.

Kevin Maguire says: "Brown could do worse than sign up to Clegg's agenda"

In his Mirror article, Kevin Maguire says:

"A Labour MP hoping to be promoted told me Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has played a blinder. Clegg got rid of the Speaker and his 100-day plan could deliver electoral reform at this 11th hour.

Brown could do worse than sign up to Clegg's agenda."

We all know that Maguire is er...close to the Labour inner circle (some may go as far to use the word "mouthpiece"!). I wonder what this all means...

Monday, 1 June 2009

Could the Guardian come out for the LibDems? There may now be a financial incentive.

Well, I'll believe when I see it! LibDemVoice has been pondering the significance of the Observer's endorsement in releation to the Guardian.

The Grauniad has always been frustratingly mealy-mouthed about the LibDems. For years people like Polly Toynbee have written long pathetic articles saying how we need electoral reform, opposition to Iraq, a more redistributive system, a more sensible approach to drugs, a less punitive justice system, civil liberties, more transparency etc. but hey that Labour party might just start doing it so keep the faith brothers (despite the last decade of evidence to the contrary)! Just like those socialists at university in 1997 who went round with placards saying "We don't trust Tony Blair"...er...but we're still going to vote for him because we have little brains.

Anyway, now I think they may have a financial reason to finally take the plunge. If/when the Independent goes under they'll be a whole load of newly adrift readers looking for a new home. I would, cautiously suggest that a lot of them would be naturally LibDem-inclined and if the Guardian wants to hoover up the majority of them then they neeed to be less of a craven house paper for Labour. I should be a natural reader of the Guardian but I really can't stand the smugness and intellectual dishonesty around issues of party and I can't believe I'm alone.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Friday, 29 May 2009

Why do people think a referendum on AV+ is a prize worth having?

James Graham has done an excellent post on the flaws of AV+ so I won't repeat the same points (writing down exactly what I wanted to say yet again, I must unplug that LibDem hive mind connection...) but merely to pick up on one aspect.

Why is it that anyone thought a referendum on AV+ was a good thing and something that is somehow a prize that should be compromised and fought for? Regardless of the flaws of the system,

WE WOULD LOSE the referendum!

James says "At the height of Blairite hysteria and the depth of the Tory nadir, we MIGHT have been able to pull it off. But can anyone tell me, with a straight face, that it could be won now?"

Here I disagree with him slightly. I don't think it ever could have been won.

The "PR will lead to a politicians' stitch-up behind close doors" argument, whilst we all know why it's wrong, is a very powerful argument in the public mind. Anything that even smells slightly of a politicians' arrangement away from the voters will get short shrift and I'm afraid the top-up element of AV+ does smell wrong and always will to the public at large.

Many years ago when I was at university, we, the LibDems there (and I suspect this is a very familiar story) proposed replacing the current system of inquorate Union General Meetings (UGMs) with a student council. At the time what happened was that every month the UGM would be inquorate and so the small Exec (dominated by career Labourites who thought they were socialists but who magically forgot any principles when they got a whiff of power in the party later - I said it was a familiar story!) would just make the decisions themselves. We thought this through a lot and with the idealism that only a student can have came up with a very thorough proposal. A council of 60 members elected by STV, elected by thirds, UGMs still sovereign etc. We somehow manged to get a referendum called on the same day as the annual union elections (otherwise no-one would vote). We were up-beat, we happily plastered the place with our "Pro-chance" stickers and went round persuading people. Everything was going well until the existing cabal of politicians who held the power started using the simple argument:

"It will just mean more politicians"

That really killed it stone dead. However right we were we just could get over this objection, however much we explained it to people that it wouldn't be politicians it would be them. That was it.

Now, I know that's just a unremarkable story of youthful idealism, but people really don't see politicians as one of them and anything that seems like a system for politicians rather than something coming from the people will lose. I think that's what did it for the North East elected assembly referendum. I bet several of us were surprised by the size of the no vote there.

I was always amazed that we fought so hard for something, to my mind, could never be achieved (winning an AV+ referendum). In retrospect I think we also made a grave tactical error in allowing through the current rubbish system we have for Europe (which really is a politician's system) and not holding out for something better. The PR system for Europe really has set back the argument for electoral reform I think.

But I am straying into a post that's been buzzing round my head for days "How to sell electoral reform", I shall probably commit it to the electronic page once I've dithered and everyone has written what I wanted to say better as usual!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

"They want to go now into bed with a bunch of serious, serial nutters for a start"

There is a great new interview with Nick Clegg in the New Statesman in which he doesn't hold back on his thoughts on the establishment system and parties. I thoroughly recommend it!

Go Nick! Finally I see a LibDem narrative coming over the hill

Nick's proposals to strike when the iron is hot, "bar the gates" and lock MPs in until they agree on reforms is exactly the kind of thing we should be saying. It's almost a direct response to my blogpost yesterday. (Yes, I know, I'm not that naive!)

Exposing Cameron's proposals for the window-dressing they are and drawing a clear dividing line between us and the establishment is exactly what is required.

My heart leapt when I heard the headline on the Today programme this morning. Let's just see how long it takes for this story to permeate the BBC news website.

I know I carp a lot (why are all the minor parties' party political broadcast all better than ours, no matter how loony, for instance!) but sometimes we do hit it spot on (AV+ equivication notwithstanding).

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

LibDems score well in MEP league of working for a more open, democratic EU

This Press Release from Open Europe contains the heartening news that Liberal Democrat MEPs beat both Labour and the Conservatives in their league table of UK MEPs' "openness" voting record.

We are beaten into 3rd place by both the Greens and the SNP who only have 2 MEPs apiece.

The other important point to take from this (bearing in mind Nigel Farage is on tomorrow's Question Time) is that UKIP are way down this league.

We should be shouting this from the rooftops!

Their league table looks like this:

Party Number of MEPs Average score per MEP

1. Green Party 2 39.5

2. Scottish National Party 2 38.5

3. Liberal Democrats 11 35

4. Conservative Party 28 29.5

5. Labour 19 29.3

6. Independents 4 26.75

7. UKIP 9 24.89


UPDATE: Looks like LibDemVoice beat me to it!

BBC can't do maths. Alex Salmond can (for some value of can)

The Guardian's Media Monkey has the story.

Apparently in a BBC webcast, Alex Salmond was asked by a member of the public what 24 divided by zero (24/0) is. He, not unreasonably, said "infinity" (the proper answer is "undefined" but I'd give him that). The BBC presenter said this was wrong and the right answer was zero (sigh, this is the total opposite of being right!).

Funnily enough a newspaper then picked up this story and repeated the unfounded allegations (now where has this happened before?) about Mr Salmond's maths ability.

After a complaint to the PPC, the Scotsman had to apologise for it's article "Salmond stumped by a mother's maths question"!

A Broadcast from the English Democrats was just emailed to me



The above email was just sent to me due to some "green" scheme or other I signed up to (must review that!).

Firstly, I wonder how this will be reflected in their election expenses and secondly, should we be doing something like this? :)

Should be using existing non-political networks like this? Also why not say things like "Clean up MPs, Vote LibDem"? I know we've been shying away from it but we can justify it and think we should welcome the questioning on such a provocative and non-establishment stance (the answer being our extensive reforms that the others wouldn't dare do).

We need to get out from under the establishment and fast

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged in anger about Ming's apperance on Question Time in the wake of the Expensegate scandal breaking. I may have misdirected some of that anger towards the party (although not all of it by a long chalk I'd venture!) and was verily slapped down by the great and the good. (although I note with interest that Alex Wilcox had also posed the same question)

It was pointed out to me that we have to work within the establishment straight-jacket of Question Time (and I suppose just sit idly by whilst David Dimbleby mocks and belittles us and cuts us off).

In the same way that we should have played within the rules of "the game" with respect to the speaker?

Well done Nick for calling on him to go and getting the result!!

Unfortunately, I'm worried we're now falling into the trap (being set for us) of coming across as too much like Westminster politicians.

The "impartial" BBC news introduced the item on the speaker with something like:

"After days of suffering allegation against themselves, MPs have now turned on one of their own"

which nicely sets up the context for Nick to be seen as just one of them.

The establishment is closing ranks to protect themselves and preserve the status quo.

For years we have fought for the media to say "the main 3 parties" instead of "both main parties". Well now they are! And you can bet your bottom dollar that once this "little local difficulty" has been successfully smoothed over it'll be back to how it was. In fact, I have notice several occasions when the phrase "both main parties" is back and used in relation to parliamentary reform proposals! Arrggh!

Apparently "all politicians"/"all party leaders" are now trying to out do themselves with reform proposals. Some in the media have even commented how it's strange that only now they seem to want to know. Excuse me! Over here! Hello!

A few times now on the 6 O'Clock News, the main report has had "both main parties" represented in the main story at 6:02 and then two sentences from Nick is shoved in apropo nothing just before Nick Robinson emotes across the screen at 6:25 (when most people have been bored senseless by the news and turned over surely).

Cameron is being allowed to be seen as the great reforming politician bestriding the UK stage cleaning up the system (Moat, what moat? All forgotten old boy). Last night, Huw Edwards said the main headline was "David Cameron has proposed massive reforms"! When he introduced the actual item he said the reforms were:

"Massive, sweeping and radical"

which must be true as newsreaders only read news, they don't give opinions right?

We know his proposals don't amount to a hill of beans but you wouldn't know it from the news. Do you remember when the news reported news not just opinion as fact? Or am I nostalgic for a past that never existed?

I know it is hard for us to battle against the establishment flow (or is that a BBC finally smelling the coffee and trying to suck up to the incoming Tory government?), but battle we must.

We should have been the first to call for a General Election (yes, I agree with Nick's arguments for reform first but calling for a GE is always win-win as Brown will never call one and if he does he was going to anyway and at least you can claim some kind of victory).

We should have called for all MPs who have been caught flipping or avoiding capital gains tax to be sacked safe in the knowledge that none of our MPs are quite that dubious! If someone calls us on this and says "you're only saying this because none of your MPs are affected" then good in that it brings out that fact which everyone (including us it seems!) is trying to sweep under the carpet.

In response to Cameron's weak "reform" proposals, Nick has been doing the rounds giving eminently sensible interviews. Here is Nick on GMTV.

However, I think he is being too reasonable, He always starts by saying something like "whilst I welcome David Cameron's proposals they don't go far enough" (Warning! Warning! Westimister politician alert! They're all the same). Stop welcoming them! Blogger Jamie Saddler, I would argue makes the same mis-step.

Whilst I understand that we have to be careful not to turn people off by being less than reasonable, I think we should be more explicit and say something like "David Cameron/Labour and the Tories isn't/aren't interested in meaningful reform. They just want to tinker round the edges as their quite happy to continue with the same broken system".

When Nick quite rightly makes the case that we've been going on about reform for a century and the times we have voted the right way in the teeth of establishment opposition maybe he should be a bit more feisty and say something like "it's a shame you/the media have never seen fit to cover it until now".

Ed Davey on The Today programme yesterday finished up his interview by saying:

"I'm glad you're now beginning to take them [serious European issues] up on the Today programme"

I see that another Tory/Labour deal opposed by only us to limit transparency is on the cards. We should be going ape about this all over the media. If this cannot get traction now it never will. This is our narrative calling!

Also why not bring history into it. Why not say "We Liberals first tried to reform the House of Lords in 1911" (or whenever).

On the news earlier in the day in response to Cameron's proposals we got Nick saying "Where are the recalls, where are the Lords reforms and where is the electoral reform". In later reports, his third point was cut off. We can't be seen to be tinkering like the others, we need to make the point that the whole system is broken, the others want to keep it and we want to change it and we need to make it strongly.

Make no mistake the establishment fix is now in, the powers that be think they have navigated through the worst parts of expensegate (notwithstanding the blip of the upcoming Euro elections which can be easily packaged off as a story about minor parties and then forgotten) and they can see clear blue reform-free two-party waters ahead.

I not saying I know exactly how we should act, but we need to act now and fast, that window of opportunity is closing fast...

Where is the East of England Euro Leaflet?

Jo over at A Week is a Long Time asks Where is the SW LibDem Euro Leaftlet? so in that vain, I shall ask where is the East of England one?

I've had leaflets from , Labour, Tory, BNP, UKIP, Greens and assorted minor parties but nothing from us. It's possible it has been shoved in with takeaway menus inside the free paper which could lead to it going unnoticed between the letter box and the recycling bin but I do usually check (sometime they slip in windowed enveloped to catch you out!).

Anyone had theirs?

UPDATE: 29/05/2009 - Our leaflet arrived yesterday! Not bad, I just hope people bother to unfold it!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Have "The" Labour Party made a naming error?

I recently received my postal vote and on the ballot paper for the European election in the Eastern Region there are 15 parties listed. The parties are listed in alphabetical order, so the BNP is at number 2, the Conservatives at number 4, the Liberal Democrats at number 7 but "The Labour Party" due to their preceding "The" are way down at number 12 (UKIP are at 14). Without the "The" they would have been above us.

I know in these fevered times on the political blogosphere, this isn't very exciting by comparison, but surely the addition of the "The" and subsequent loss of position on the ballot is a bit of a tactical blunder by Labour?

Friday, 22 May 2009

Martin Bell - Part of the problem

Having watched the earlier Question Time last night, I was surprised by the performance of Martin Bell, the erstwhile "Man in the White Suit".

He seemed to shy away from any kind of reform and seemed quite happy with the current system. (Having said that, Vince oddly didn't mention electoral reform once, despite being given opportunities)

His main argument seems to be that we need to keep the current system with the current strong parties and all that is needed is the occasional additional sprinkling of Independents. He kept using the phrase "a very British revolution", without really saying what that means other than him and a few other celebrities getting elected and nothing else changing.

He came across as as much a tool and defender of the establishment as any representative or the two establishment parties.

It did seem that he wasn't part of the solution...

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Go Vince! Go Vince!

Vince Cable is on Question Time tonight and the programme has been moved to the earlier slot of 9pm.

I'm hopeful that we'll put in a better performance than we did last week.

Make us proud!

Tory MP: 'People are jealous of my house' :-( )

Blimey! Well at least Anthony Steen MP is being true to his Tory roots!

Hattip: Iain Dale

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Phil Willis rose to fame playing a computer-generated character apparently

Well according to this article in the Yorkshire Post. It says:

"The MP rose to fame playing a computer-generated character in television commercials for internet service provider AOL. He starred in more than a dozen television adverts for the company."

Top quality subbing from the Yorkshire Post there!
(For those who were wondering, it was his daughter who played AOL's Connie)

Vote Match: Aren't we opposed to copyright extension?

I recently took the Vote Match test run by Unlock Democracy. Luckily it said I should vote LibDem (although I only gave it the choice of that and Libertas!).

My results are here. As I was looking through the list of things it thought I disagreed with the LibDems on, I notice all the things on which there was a mismatch were things that either I or the party were open-minded about (phew!). Except:

"Extending the period of copyright protection on sound recordings from 50 years will predominantly benefit music companies and work against the interests of consumers."

I said that it would, the party said wah wah! This doesn't sound right to be (or very Liberal), a quick google turns up this article in which two of our MEP oppose the extension proposal. Andrew Duff MEP even said:

"Europe must stop putting more obstacles in the way of consumer choice. The Commission has been far too weak in giving in to pressure from big business. We should now look at how we can really help performers without penalising those who enjoy music"

I know there are subtleties in this argument but the quote above sounds very much like it's agreeing with the Vote Match statement.

According to the FAQ, the parties had a chance to change any responses but it still doesn't look right to me. Does any know the real position?

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Boy aged 12 did not father baby

Well, I can't say I'm shocked. I thought it likely they may be another potential father in the wings at the time. I wonder if there was the involvement of a Max Clifford-like character in the original story?

Friday, 15 May 2009

Why did we put Ming on Question Time???

When, I saw the listings for Question Time 5 minutes before it was about to start, my face fell.

I managed to blog off this quick post questioning the wisdom of this but secretly hoping I would be proved wrong. I wasn't.

That was horrible! Commentators over at the LDV QT post have picked up on some of the "unhelpful"/misjudged things he said but really he was a hiding to nothing from the beginning.

As per usual we have the whole rollcall of establishment rallied against us. (I include Dimbleby in this. When we cut off Ming when he was trying to respond to a direct angry audience question about his food allowance and said we'll just deal with the other point first I said to Mrs. L, "he won't go back to him, he never gives the LibDems a chance" and lo, he didn't. I should have started keeping a log of Dimbleby snubs but don't really watch QT much anymore - I don't watch the smugfest This Week EVER - my head would explode!)

Considering this was probably going to be the most watched QT of the year, considering the opposition we face and considering how people would be tuning in looking for answers/direction, we needed someone "clean" (Sarah Teather?) who could put across our mainly strong position on expenses. We could even have had any of the other MPs will lesser (financically), more easily explainable problems , ie. phone bill, trouser press or even better one of our MPs who have been unfairly maligned.

Now we have successfully let the establishment make it a story of "the three main parties" (how we wish they would do that normally!).

Where was the list of our record in fighting for the release of expenses (and being thwarted by the establishment parties).?

Where was the list of what we had paid back (really small beer) compared to the other parties (obviously this really couldn't have been given by Ming!)?

Where was the demanding of an apology from Ben Brogan for the treatment of Andrew George and Alan Reid?

Where was the case against safe seats and for electoral reform?

This was probably our biggest opportunity of the year to break through in the public consciousness and we blew it! Now we're just as bad as the others in the public mind.

Who the hell thought putting Ming up was a good idea???

I'm actually really angry about this. This is a massive failure on behalf of the party.
Really there is nothing good I can say about this. I am livid with the party. (UPDATE: Got a bit carried away here!)

I wouldn't be surprised if activists aren't even more demoralised now.

UPDATE: A few comments have pointed out that these things are arranged in advance, and would my preferred option be that Ming pulled out (and put up someone else)? Well yes it definitely would be ! (Do we know if the other party guests were the originals or were they replacements?).

Yes the BBC would have made a sarky comment and maybe this would have put us in their bad books for a while but I think this was so important that it was a sacrifice worth making!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Why are we fielding Ming on Question Time?

Surely we needed someone who was "clean"? We have plenty of them!

Maybe I'm over-reacting but this seems like a bit of a wasted opportunity/own goal by us.

I guess we shall see in an hour. Maybe he'll do us proud but I don't think the public is in the mood to hear any politician explaining away their claims...

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Conservative candidate loses High Court battle to stop LibDem leaflet revealing meeting attendance using Data Protecttion Act

The Register has the full story.

First Oxford Tory Christopher Quinton unsuccessfully sued the victorious Oxford LibDem councillor Robin Pierce for "publishing injurious falsehood" by revealing that this Tory candidate had attended certain planning meetings and then devining what his views are on certain planning issues. Then he went on to claim that since Mr. Pierce had published personal information about him that he had therefore breached the data protection act!

The judge said: "I decline, however, to interpret the statute in a way which results in absurdity. Plainly, it cannot have been the intention of the legislature to require electoral candidates to give their opponents advance warning each time reference is to be made to them in a document that happens to be computer generated."

National Express trains to charge for reservations - appalled but not shocked

I would be shocked by the news that National Express is to charge £2.50 each way for a seat reservation if it wasn't the kind of thing I've come to expect.

I am appalled though!

This is effectively a mandatory charge as I can't imagine anyone in their right mind these days (except in a really off-peak time) booking a National Express East Coast ticket without a reservation.

Unless there are going to reduce the cost of the ticket accordingly? Are they B*ll****!

National Express said "We find that people are often reserving multiple seats as they're not sure which train they are going to catch."

Er, well don't let them then! Surely it's not beyond the wit of man?

The article also says that "National Express confirmed the charges will be introduced from this Sunday on some seat reservations on its East Coast route between London and Edinburgh and East Anglian routes through Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk."

I think you'd be lucky to manage to reserve a seat of any of their foul sub-standard trains through Hertfordshire (there aren't reservations)!

Jonathan Wallace will be pleased!

Friday, 8 May 2009

A cuddly Beatles-playing monkey toy

Just thought I'd blog about a gift I recently bought for a friend's child, so if they become really popular I can boast about being ahead of the curve!

I seem to have been going into out local "Childrens' boutique" Boutini a lot recently as many friends seem to be sprogging off all at the same time.

However, just the other day, I bought a monkey with a pullstring that plays "Let it be". It just really appealled to us. We actually saw it on a previous visit but had no occasion to buy it. Now Mrs. L is going to be seeing her goddaughter, we now have a reason!

The gift hasn't yet been given but no doubt the recipient's mother will wonder what we're on!
It's a shame we have to keep giving stuff away but I'm assured I can't be buying these things for myself! Although I noticed quite a cool crinkly mouse in there...

Your Friday animals

First, news that the world's smallest pigs are thriving. Pygmy Hogs (I guess Pygmy Pigs would sound silly) released into the wild have been captured routing around on camera:



Also captured on film is the rare Java Rhino in Indonesia.


And lastly, rhinos at a Kent safari park are getting chapped ears in the cold.
Ah bless.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Is there a need for organised Manchester ID card resistance?

When I first heard the news that there would be an ID card trial in Manchester, my first thought was that I hope there was an opposing campaign gearing up in Manchester ready to put the arguments against to the local population.

On further reflection, I think this will be unnecessary as Costigan Quist points out, I can't really see people voluntarily rushing out to spend £30-£60 (and the time/hassle) to get a card especially one that will have no obvious benefit to them.

In fact it seems doomed to failure...which makes me suspicious. What carrots/sticks will the government be introducing up there? A free ID card with every sandwich bought?
Will the local benfits system suddenly need ID cards? One to keep an eye on I think.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

A Good LibDem use of YouTube

There have been a lot of posts recently about the use of YouTube by politicians and production values etc.

This video from the Hertfordshire LibDems' Six To Fix campaign for the County Council elections is really good. The use of vox pox is very effective and the whole things looks really professional.

Why did Lembit vote to keep the second home allowance for Outer London MPs?

I was reading the Evening Standard on the train yesterday when I came across this article: MPs say they face hardship after axing second homes cash.

It had details of some of the MPs ("rebels") who voted against scrapping the second home allowance for outer London MPs. Given our London MPs' sterling record on second homes (they don't have any!), I was enjoying going through the list of Labour and Conservative MPs who opposed the scrapping. Imagine my surprise, dissapointment and annoyance when I came across:

  • Lembit Opik (Lib Dem), Montgomeryshire

What was he thinking of? Was he objecting to the way the whole expenses vote had been handled? If so, may I suggest that this nuance isn't going to come across in "the court of public opinion"!

Surely all out MPs should have been voting to scrap this? Isn't this Nick's position? Now we can't say all our MPs voted to scrap the allowance. Saying we all did excpet one doesn't cut it.

Is there a rational explanation for this?

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Government defeated on Ghurkas vote

The BBC is reporting that the Government has lost the vote on Ghurka rights by 267 to 246.

Excellent news. I know this vote is non-binding but it will hopefully have the desired effect on Government policy (or at least drag it kicking and screaming towards what is right).

This was despite earlier "concessions".

Friday, 24 April 2009

EU vote Profiler - wohoo I'm a LibDem!

As seen over at Iain Dale's, the EU profiler asks you 30 questions and then tries to divine your position of political landscape. I took it and got this:

Petition for Brown to resign on No.10 site!

There is now a simple petition on the Number 10 petition site calling on the Prime Minister to just resign. Pleasingly the last bit of the URL is "please-go".


If you so desire, you can sign it here.

New Gurkha Guidelines - BBC and Guardian coverage - compare and contrast

Witness the gaping chasm between the two!

First the BBC article Fury over Gurkha settlement plan details how the government claims the new guidelines will allow another 4,300 Gurkhas to settles whereas the Gurkha Justice Campaign said it would be just 100. It includes quotes from Joanna Lumley , "To treat them like this is despicable." "ashamed of our administration", our very own Peter Carroll, "truly appalling", an ex-Gurkha local councillor, Dhan Gurung, "insulting to loyal Gurkhas"and the Gurkhas' solicitor, David Enwright, "This government, Mr Woolas, should hang their head in shame so low that their forehead should touch their boots. This is a disgrace and a betrayal of our armed forces and our veterans."

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said in response: "This improves the situation."

Over at the Guardian however, it's reprinting Government Press Release time, in their article New guidelines allow thousands more Gurkha veterans to settle in UK, there is no mention that this might not be a pure good news story. In this version we have quotes from Phil Woolas, "This guidance honours the service, commitment and gallantry of those who served with the Gurkhas brigade" and the chief of the general staff General Sir Richard Dannatt, "further underlines our extensive and ongoing commitment to the welfare of former Gurkhas".

Now I know the BBC story is two hours after the Guardian one and you could argue is more of a follow-up reaction story but didn't it occur to anyone at the Guardian to actually talk to the Ghurkas or their organisations? I'm sure they wouldn't have been backwards in coming forwards!

UPDATE: Oh bah humbug as I was writing this the Guardian story has been updated with a more balanced view. Now it's called "Government accused of 'betraying' Gurkhas over UK settlement right" (same URL) and it talks of "an act of treachery" and has quotes from Nick.

Ah look there is an "Article History" link. I'll just link to the 10:30 version of the story...hang on it says "
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 13.28 BST on Friday 24 April 2009. It was last updated at 13.28 BST on Friday 24 April 2009. "

Hmm, so has the original now dissapeared into the ether for ever, so we have no proof of the Guardian's government mouthpiece role?



Thursday, 23 April 2009

Jade Goody - The Musical

Please tell me this is another prank from Chris Morris, right?

The Budget Galaxy Song

The Galaxy Song is one of my favourite Python songs and this reworking of it for the budget is quite good.

Whilst I don't wholeheartedly agree with the final sentiment (to be expected from a Tory Blogger), it made me chuckle. Credit where credit's due. No pun intended!

Shouldn't the parliamentary party be being seen to support Nick more?



Watching Nicks Clegg's budget response, you see and hear the usual appalling parliamentary behaviour in the background. The emptied out chamber, the hubbub of other MPs talking and the views of other MPs ignoring Nick's speech completely. What Tories are left are busy discussing strategy and writing notes (not on Nick's speech!).

I often wonder whether the speaker can do anything to stop this but I know this is part of the establishment game to belittle us in the eyes if the public.

However, I really think our own MPs should at least be seen to be paying attention and reacting to his speech especially if they are in the doughnut around him that will be seen on the news (and hopefully fool the viewers into thinking MPs are still listening).

I know it's probably been a long boring day but they can at least pretend to be interested for the sake of the cameras. The arms-crossed scowling slump is not a good look, St. Vince.

They should also not be looking round, looking bored, writing, talking, concentrating on what they are reading with a pen in their mouth, looking round with a pen in their mouth, nudging a colleague to get more reading material to then flick through, looking like this is a waste of their time and generally being distracting. I'm looking at you Ms Goldsworthy!

I'm not sure that maybe the only reason we saw the other empty benches, the Tories plotting and the slouching St. Vince was that they had to cut to a long shot to avoid the distracting background.


Just a thought!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Visited by the Google Streetview car - surveillance feedback loop established

The day the Google StreetCar came to Chez LibCync...

Well, I caught it on camera (and film by mistake natch, luckily it reversed so I could get some actual pictures!) thus setting up some weird surveillance feedback loop. The fabric of space-time remains intact but there's no telling what will happen when they put the images up...

video

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Doing a Jade Goody on Stephen Hawking

I turned on the ITV News last night to see what was effectively an obituary for Stephen Hawking. Lots of the great and the good talking about him in the past tense and reflections on aspects of the man, illustrating his sense of humour with his cameo on the Simpsons.

It turns out he had gone into hospital with a chest infection. Whilst this could have been undoubtedly serious, he's not dead yet! I'm pleased to see that he's now expected to make a full recovery.

However it seems now that the trend started with the coverage of Jade Goody's demise (remember the "pre-humous" memorial copy of OK) of trying to follow "celebrities" all the way to their death is to continue. This is a rather unpleasant turn I think.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Tory Brian Coleman says G20 assault woman was asking for it!

Tory London Assembly member Brian Coleman said:

"Nicky Fisher turned up to this protest, which everyone said could be violent. She put herself in this situation – and lo, she was hit.

"It's like going gambling and then complaining that you've lost money.

"All right-thinking people will have little sympathy for her. The police were dealing with a very serious situation caused by some very silly people."

I'm amazed Brian Coleman is still in a job. It was he who recently had a go at our Lynne Featherstone for calling out the fire brigade even though she was following official fire brigade advice. Brain Coleman is also chair of the London Fire Authority.

Maybe he has a problem with women?

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

More G20 police brutality

The "I"PCC have launched another probe as video evidence of another incident has come to light.

The BBC show doesn't show all the blows landed by the big policeman on the small but agitated women. The orignal youtube video shows more (incident starts about 3:15 in).

Maybe it's time to remind the media about Kingsnorth? It might get some traction...

"I"PCC admit there may be CCTV footage of Ian Tomlinson

Blimey, an Easter weekend is a long time in the political blogosphere. I go away for a few days and all hell breaks loose!

Anyways, before all this, in a previous post I speculated that maybe the G20 CCTV footage of previous police contacts with the unfortunate Ian Tomlinson might conveniently disappear.

And lo, it came to pass.

It now seems, the "I"PCC now admits (forced by continued scrutiny I imagine...keep it up!) that their chairman was wrong to claim that they were no CCTV cameras in the area. It's okay though as he "believed he was correct at the time" and "it now appeared there were cameras in the surrounding area". Really in the City of London? Cameras in London? Wow!

(So, how do we stop them obtaining the footage and then "losing" it?)

On a related note, I listened to The Reunion on Radio 4 with people who were involved in the
Hillsborough disaster 20 years ago. It was quite an emotional programme but what struck me was that some of the survivors said they were taken aback by the speed at which the Police lies (let's not beat around the bush by calling it spin) operation seemed to start in earnest. Apparently, within 30 minutes of the tradgedy, stories were coming out of the police control room of fans urinating on the dead etc.

Plus ca change!


Thursday, 9 April 2009

When will the BBC cover Nick's expenses call?

Nick's excellent call to scrap the second home allowance and other expense reform has been covered in The Times, The Daily Mail, The Evening Standard and even the East Anglian Daily Times (enough with the Cleggover already, it's not big and it's not clever...).

But still not a peep on the BBC news site or even on that news ghetto that is their politics section.
When will the establishment BBC cover this (or will they at all?) or would it not please their establishment political masters? (oh God, I'm sounding like a Tory! Although I include them in the establishment here.)

UPDATE: The BBC now has it with a timestamp of 15:17. Well, it definitely wasn't there before and it is still confined to the politics ghetto. Maybe it will make onto the main UK page at some point today?

The inaccessability of GPs

Caron's Musings has a post about her trauma trying to get an appointment with a GP.
I echo her experiences but another aspect of GP surgeries is the delivery of test results.

Our local surgery has a dedicated test results phone line - well menu option of the main line (which sounds like a sensible user-friendly thing) but it is only open between 2pm and 4pm Monday-Friday and this is the only way to get your results short of booking a GP appointment (see above!).

Recently I had cause to ask them whether someone who couldn't ring between between 2pm-4pm as they couldn't get away from work (this was on the Friday and they didn't want to wait over the weekend) could maybe come into the surgery at 4:30pm and pick up their results instead. Eventually when I got through on the forth attempt (ring number, choose menu option, listen to ringing phone, eventually get message saying they are busy) they said no and that ringing between 2-4pm on a weekday was the only way to get results.

I know this may be a minor niggle but it's just another inconvenience put up when you're trying to deal with your local GP surgery and it could cause someone significant distress. Also this combined with difficulties and delays in getting appointments means that something that, to my mind, should take about a week (appointment, test, results, appointment) ends up taking a month with all the inherent stress.