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.