Friday, 26 November 2010

It's now time for the Blessed Vince to pipe down on the bonus question

So goes the wisdom of bankers. On the day that Vince warns bankers about excess bonuses again, I bring you the political pronouncements of the bankers themselves.

In a letter to clients from an investment management firm passed to me, they have this to say on the political issues of the day:

"Whilst one may dislike good companies disappearing, particularly to overseas predators, it is surprising how often they resurface at a future date in a somewhat different form after some imaginative financiers have had a bob or two. Apart from contributing to some banker's bonus, takeovers keep a lot of company directors on their toes to the overall common good.

"It is probably now time for the Blessed Vince to pipe down on the bonus question and remember that one banker's £1 million pound bonus is very often the Chancellor's £500,000 tax take - a fact that is conveniently forgotten in banker bashing. "

Well, Vince has been dubious about the "common good" of some takeovers for a while now and has also expressed the view that excessive bonus may be better spent, in the "common good", lending to small companies or improving the fragile banks balance sheets to allow them to lend more and to improve the worth of TAX-PAYER OWNED banks. But thank to Messrs Bankers I can now see the error of my ways!

UPDATE: Due to the letter passer being paranoid, I've now removed the company name!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Brian Coleman insults our Lynne...again!

You may remember, a couple of years back, Brian Coleman, Conservative Chair of the London Fire Authority, called Lynne Featherstone, "dizzy", "an airhead" and "an utter disgrace" for calling out the fire brigade when she thought her boiler was going to explode and take her house down. Her actions were backed up as the right thing to have done by the fire brigade.

Well, amazingly, Brian is still chair of the Fire Authority and in Today's Hampstead and Highgate Express he's back to his old tricks. Amongst the other insults liberally flung around he says:

"Lynne Featherstone is entirely light-weight. God knows how she manages as a minister"


Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Oi, students! Answer this!

What would you rather the LibDems have done:

a) Have all 57 MPs valiantly keep to their pledge and vote against the unfettered, uncompromising and unprogressive (Labour-initiated) Browne proposals for a cap-less full free market in tuition fees with no allowances for poorer students and then valiantly see these proposals go through with the votes of 500 Tory and Labour MPs (to be fair, now they are in opposition I'm sure some Labour MPs will now abstain but not enough to change the result).


b) Trade our votes with our coalition partners to make the Browne package better, fairer and more progressive for Students

Any rants/comments are expected to start with an answer and working. I thank you!

Having said that, I don't think having Vince denying there is a trust issue with breaking the pledge (and it was/will be broken, however justified) is particularly right or helpful. I don't know what our press operation has been doing all this time. Surely they could have seen this coming? The leadership should have been out there explaining this (along the lines above) a long time ago instead of putting their heads in the sand and hoping this would all go away and allowing this "betrayal" narrative to develop (which the media are only too happy to perpetuate).

But then, in my opinion, this is just a continuation as we also had an appalling election campaign (okay that's over-stating it a tad, but it was just the usual depressing long line of missed opportunities) starting with that appallingly bland slogan and logo and then that embarrassingly misjudged VAT bombshell poster (when even your own politicians look embarrassed unveiling it you have to ask - oh and that hasn't caused us any problems at all...) just making us look like any other party. Yes the first debate was great but we didn't seem to move foward in the subsequent two or capitalise on them (evidentally).

Er... I digress but only slightly as the tuition fees problems were all eminently foreseeable and have done us tremendous damage but not, I would argue, by the facts themselves but by the mishandling of them.

UPDATE: Also, what he said.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

It was ever thus

Student protests have always been ruined by a small section looking to cause trouble. They have always been the Socialist Workers (neither socialist or workers!). They included a surprisingly high concentration of sons and daughters of bishops and high court judges and would spend most of their time on campus debating whether they should actively start the revolution or just be prepared when it inevitable comes due to the failure of capitalism.

On every student protest I went to in London there was always at the edge of the peaceful protest, members of the socialist workers party (SWP) snarling at police and calling them "pigs" in the hope of fomenting some violence.  On one particular protest ("grants not loans", that dates me!) I was leading a small but dedicated LibDem contingent from our University and we ended up waving out LibDem self-augmented NUS placards amongst an SWP contingent who then all sat down in the middle of the road as part of their protest. Well, we agreed with the aims of the march and to show that us lily-livered LibDems weren't afraid of a bit of civil disobedience we sat down too. This conversation ensued:

SW bloke: What are you doing?
Us: We're protesting again the withdrawl of grants
SW bloke: But you're LibDems!
Us:  And we agree with free education
SW bloke: You shouldn't be here
Us: Yes but we share a common aim and feel strongly about the cause
SW bloke: No, we're here to get our heads smashed in by the police
Us: er...alright then, we'll just be off then...

During my first year we actually had a LibDem student union president (amazing!) so the union actually had sensible relations with the administration for once and it was unprecedentedly agreed with the administration (who shared our concerns) that the students would stage an overnight "occupation" of the central venue (which was owned by the University and which they otherwise rented out for a good income most nights) in protest at the government's plans. This was well organised and publicised (getting wider publicity for our cause being a constant problem). Various local news teams turned up and even a crew from Channel 4 news. There were going to film the initial meeting/debate of the occupiers. This was publicity money couldn't buy, it seems like we were actually going to break through into the media for once. Exciting times.

Except when the meeting starting, the SWPers just constantly stood up and were loudly f'ing and blinding about smashing the system etc., so unsurprisingly none of it got on TV. We felt quite deflated when the media had moved on and we were left there to spend the night.

Every couple of hours throughout the night the SWP kept calling meetings of the "occupation committee" (that they'd made up) and tried to pass a motion that we'd occupy the building indefinitely. Everytime everyone grudgingly got out of their sleeping bags to attend and vote against them. They lost everytime and were in a clear minority.

By the morning when people were packing up and preparing to leave, there was a sudden influx of SWPers from somewhere (they were not there overnight), there was a hastily convened meeting of the "occupation committee" and the motion to occupy indefinitely was passed due to weight of numbers. Everyone else left.

The situation dragged on for another day or so, windows were smashed and, in the end, the police were called. Bridges were burnt and a it was a waste of everyone's time!

I never went on a protest that wasn't ruined by the SWP!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Film 2010 f*** up

Oh dear, looks like the BBC will be apologising again tomorrow.

On Film 2010 on BBC1 tonight at the beginning of the first review, clearly someone didn't cut the sound from somewhere and we heard a female voice over the programme saying something like:

"They ask if I have problems with fans, Well, I don't give a f***"

Claudia Winkleman later apologised in case we had heard something we shouldn't have but not to worry if we didn't. Well we did! Not that I'm bothered and it was after the watershed but I'm sure someone will moan!

Friday, 5 November 2010

The LibDem media curse strikes again!

Typical! Phil Woolas is found guilty and the NUJ are on strike meaning there isn't much news on the BBC networks!

Is it just me or is this video in this BBC article a little bizarre? I'm probably missing a legal nicety here but I can understand distraught families of victims not wishing to talk to the media and letting their lawyer read a statement but responding to a court judgement yourself quite happily and then getting your lawyer to then read a statement from you whilst still sitting next to him is just a little odd.

So, the by-election...Brown-trousers time? Logic would dictate that in the current national circumstances Labour would increase their majority. However on the plus side we can finally start trying to explain the coalition and our gains in it to real people en masse and see how that goes. You never know...

I hope we do modify our campaigning to deal with the new circumstances and start defending the sometimes complex decisions we have taken rather than reducing it to more flippant headlines. I know this is electorally naive (5 seconds from letterbox to bin etc.) but we should have a bit of a lead in here and I'd love to see if a more intelligent campaign could work...

Friday, 29 October 2010

Another scam to watch out for

My elderly (but luckily savvy) aunt just had a call from an Indian on a bad line claiming to be from Microsoft telling her that her firewall wasn't working and that he could fix it.

He asked her if she was near her computer. Luckily she wasn't. She asked him what she should do but she didn't catch all the details. She then rang me to check whether it was a scam.

A quick google shows this is quite common. I can see how a non-tech savvy person may fall for this. Warn your elderly relatives!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Daily Mail outrage at LibDem influence

Over at the Daily Hate Mail, they have an article seething about the "price in political correctness" paid by George Osbourne to his LibDem coalition partners.

Be amazed at the outrage as the coalition gives money "back to poorer parents", gasp as they recoil in horror at the thought of helping 'disadvantaged' (their quotes!!!) children.

I am, like many LibDems, a little queasy over some of the spending decisions, but just this once, indulge yourself. Take a little time out from the soul-searching and self-doubt and just read the article and feel an overwhelming sense of pride.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

If you think this"financial mess left by Labour" rhetoric is overblown...

It seems to be an increasingly common view now that saying that the state of the country's finances are much worse than expected is a dishonest ruse and of course we knew how bad it was.

Well, let me draw your attention to this one counter-example.

Remember way back when during the election campaign when we were boldly going further than all the other parties in spelling out what cuts we would have to make? I distinctly remember repeated assertions that we would save about a billion by taking the tough choice of cutting our commitment to the third tranche of Eurofighters. I also remember Andrew Neil picking us up (either Nick or Vince) on whether we could really make this saving and in the impartial (hah!) way that he has he implied we were lying whilst promising to check it later. We were still adamant.

Fast forward to the coalition getting at the books...

According to this article in The Register, whilst the country were still committed to buying the third tranche of Eurofighters, from 2005 the MoD under Labour just simply pretended the Eurofighter commitment didn't exist and removed the set-aside money from it's books!!

So, in a way, Neil was right. There was no saving to be had, but we certainly thought there was before the election!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Online Scientologists out in force

I finally got round to watching (on the iPlayer) Panorama's follow up to the John Sweeney shouty investigation into scientology a couple of years back in which the reporter famously "lost it".

I was looking forward to "The Secrets of Scientology" but found it rather pedestrian with lots of "this is the man who will tell me the secrets", "the secrets will be told soon by this man" build up with lots of fuzzy walking shots and not much pay-off.

Whilst the programme was interesting and shocking (although depressingly not really as we all know what goes on) there was nothing really new in it but I suspect the reasons for this was lawyer-inspired! (Has Carter-Ruck ever been on the side of good? (apart from Mr C-R's deathbed conversion to Liberal Democracy of course (always makes by think Blackadder I's archbishop episode))

What amused me is the utter predictability of the online comments on reviews of the programme (examples in the Mirror and the Metro) from scientologists (some claiming to be and some not) that are so transparent. Why do they think that anyone would be fooled by comments randomly going into the personal history and smears of some participants, especially as the programme had just said this is exactly what they do!

Here's hoping for some Scientology-love to boost my google analytics! :)

This is a safety announcement

This post about Government adverts over at Liberal Vision remins me about the announcement I recently heard (repeatedly as I was waiting for someone on a delayed train) at Kings Cross station:

"This is a safety announcement. Please do not run in the station and take care around the station and in the surrounding areas"

Gee thanks, it would never occurred to me to "take care" in the station. Also taking care in the surrounding areas would be a thought that would never have crossed my mind!! I mean seriously!!

There were other similarly pointless announcements endlessly repeated which I can't recall now. Notwithstanding the nannying issues surely people are desperately listening out for announcements regarding the delay/cancellation/late platform change of their train and we should restrict announcement to only immediately useful ones like these. (not to mention the confusion this may cause to foreign visitors trying to listen out for useful information)

In the same way there are campaigns about visual clutter (street signs, barriers etc.) should there also be one against audio clutter?

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Virgin email stopped working? A solution

Has your Virgin Media email stopped working today? I have an email address and this morning the incoming mail server started  rejecting all requests ("terminated unexpectedly") from Outlook Express.

Well, after much googling (anyone who has Virgin will know how pointless and time-wasting ringing them is!) I found the Virgin support forum and this post. The Upshot being what worked for me was to turn off SSL for the imcoming mail (Tools->Account->Mail->ntlworld->Properties->Advanced->untick incoming mail SSL). I am now receiving email again (I imagine it will stop working again once they "fix" it and I'll have to put it back). YMMV

Reading through the forums it seems that this kind of thing is quite a frequent occurrence each time picking out one of their other email domains (blueyonder, virginmedia).

When people ask me whether I would recommend Virgin, I always say that their broadband and TV service is excellent (I love on-demand TV and the broadband has never let me down) but woe betide if anything ever does go wrong as they have the worst customer service this side of Betelgeuse! (Indian call-centre script, have you tried turning it on and off, our systems aren't working at the moment, etc...)

UPDATE: They seem to have fixed it now.
UPDATE 28/07/2010 (the next day). Sigh, it's not working again, switching off ssl works...

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Twitter is not just for Chirstmas...I mean...Elections

Well, it is if you're a Tory MP in a safe seat who was slightly unnerved by a stronger than expected LibDem challenge during the General Election and felt you should make an effort to appear responsive to your constituents.

Mark Prisk, the Cornwall-loving MP for Hertford & Stortford opened a twitter account during the General Election in which he didn't really respond to anything other than sycophantic questioning and even then not much (I'd like to check to check the validity of this half-remembered slur but guess what...).

Mr Prisk was safely re-elected with 54% of the vote and, as if by magic, as of last week, the @Mark_Prisk twitter account has been deleted.

Well, it's not like he needs to be accessible to his constituents for another 5 years, is it?

Omninous signs from facebook

Of course, concerted action by a directed group could achieve this. I wonder...

YouGov loses all credibility...again!

After grumbles about YouGov's dubious methodology during the leader's debates in April, their latest impartial and not at all leading question for the recent Sun poll on the AV referendum is a corker:

“Before the election the Conservative party criticised an AV referendum as likely to cost £80 million at a time when the government would be needing to make major spending cuts. In view of the government’s current cuts in public spending, do you think it is an appropriate or inappropriate time to hold a referendum on AV?”

Wow! That's not leading at all is it? Isn't there some polling code they should be following or something?

Oh and the same polling showed overall support for AV. The Sun strangely didn't mention that though!

H/T: UK Election Trend

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Prison Reform role reversal. Who's the nasty party now?

I see LibDemVoice already have this well covered.

I just want to report these stark facts:

Coalition Justice Secretary Ken Clarke speaks on the need for more intelligent sentencing, sending fewer people to jail and greater rehabilitation

Former Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw in the Daily Mail (!) speaks against (and in praise of Michael Howard), "Prison DOES work!"

So go on, our next left forward friends, let's hear it?

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The numbers just don't stack up

Like a many other LibDem bloggers this morning, I never thought I'd say this but...

Clearly my heart says "progressive alliance" but the numbers just aren't there.

Even is we could get it to work in a stable way, we would only get electoral reform if all of the alliance voted for it, including all of Labour. I'm really not sure you would get that. There are a lot of fierce opponents of reform out there (witness Labour "big beasts" all over the media slagging us off).

Word is that Labour have dropped the referendum requirement and will just legislate for AV, however Harriet Harman on newsnight last night was rowing back from this. (also I question the legitimacy of this)

Bizarrely, I think you can trust the Tories more on electoral reform! We know they are against it.
I think Nick Clegg has played a blinder, who'd have thought the Tories would be offering us a referendum on AV? If this is part of a published open agreement, I trust that it will be delivered and we know the Tories will then campaign against a change. However AV (yes, it's only a small step, not PR) is a hell of a lot easier to sell than anything that smells of a politicians stitch up (even if that's not true). It has only (albeit small) advantages over the current system (no tactical voting, better chance for independents).

We suffer either way (the drawback of coalition under FPTP) by one wing of our voters potentially boycotting us next time but I'm sick of all this LibDem hate from "progressive" pro-PR types. We're the ones arguing for it! What about Labour who have had 13 years! Why not hate them? Besides it is clearly the point that it does not have a parliamentary majority (and was not voted for by the electorate).

However, if we can show clear policy wins out of a LibCon deal then we may be able to salvage some credibility and also the boost of doing the right thing and providing a stable government must have it's upsides politically. (Think of the damage caused by being seen to be a member of an unstable "coalition of the losers", think of the resulting Tory landslide)

So, assuming we've got good policy concessions and yes, sup with a long spoon and watch your back, but we should go with the Tories (eek!). However surely we can't countenance Michael "prison works" Howard as justice secretary? We must be able to veto that!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Top Tory ran prayer sessions to "cure" gays

Philippa Stroud, tory candidate in Sutton & Cheam (we'll hold this seat, right?) who is also big in IDS's Centre for Social Justice has some very dubious views, according to this Observer article.

It worries me that people like this may soon have their grubby little hands on the levers of power...

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Telegraph admit support for LibDems isn't just a post-debate blip

Well they didn't mean to but they've caught themselves out!

Several LibDem bloggers at the time pointed out that contary to the prevailing media narrative that we only gained support due to a post-debate X-factor style (oh, silly voters, won't you come to your senses) blip, an ICM poll taken before the debate had actually put us at 27% showing the surge had already started.

It was convenient for the media to gloss over this fact in order to give the impression above.

Oh dear, what a tangled web we seems the Telegraph can't remember it's own lies! In the pathetically titled "Poll blow for Nick Clegg as voters think twice" when trying to argue the reverse of before, this time that the LibDem poll lead has plunged, they have bought the same fact into play that they'd previously tried to hide. They say:

"Mr Clegg’s party is down three points to 27 per cent – the same level it was on in an ICM poll at the time of the first televised debate."


Friday, 30 April 2010

Another truely bad review

I'm almost tempted to watch this so-called Dr. Who DVD after reading this totalscifionline review!

It finishes by giving it a 0/10 and saying:

"If we could give it a score lower than zero, we would. "

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Can the LibDems get a fair hearing from Dimbleby?

We saw how Adam Boulton tried to bend his role as an impartial chair last week. I'm worrying by the prospect of a debate with David Dimbleby in the "impartial" role.

Dimbleby is one of the worst offenders. Every week on Question Times (when they deign to let us on), he repeatedly allows smears on the LibDems from other panelists to go unanswered. He just doesn't let us back in to respond (and this happens a lot more frequently then with the establishment parties).

Having been spoilt be the leader' debates in which, by and large, a direct smear can be directly responded to by the smearee soon after, Dimbleby's "impartial" chairing on Question Time is even more apparent.

I don't wish to repeat that Ghandi quote that we have been seeing a lot lately but he used to just dismiss/ridicule us with a quip and then move on with no right of reply but now he's come out fighting for his establishment and now actively smears us himself!

The last Question Time, was a disgrace. I was hoping to get a screen shot of the smug anger and disdain with which he laid into Ming (I love Ming but seriously he should really stop doing Question Time, we need more than affable now) over the Michael Brown donation but trawling through the episode on iPlayer is hard going! Towards the end of the programme, he also made an unchallenged claim that the LibDem manifesto was full of double counting which he didn't allow Ming to comeback on.

I hate the fact that he pretends to be this reasonable, cuddly character and is giving the big political jobs despite his feeling for us being clear to see (am I paranoid?).

Let's hope he sticks to the rules of the debate and reigns himself in!

UPDATE: Here's a screenshot:

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Another twitter election error (this time from a Tory)

The Tory deputy mayor for Bishop's Stortford, Keith Warnell, has been caught out being offensive to local six formers on twitter (wlll they ever learn!).

Mr Warnell saw two sixth formers out campaigning with the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate and tweeted:

“Bloody sixth form canvassing in town today, good grief whatever next”

Oops! The sixth formers in question saw the tweet and complained to the paper. Mr Warnell did not apologise for the tweet instead saying "he did not realise comments were public"

The Bishop's Stortford Observer has the full story.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Jo Swinson is "another observer"

Just now on Newsnight's summary of tweets from tweetminster, they had tweets from Alistair Campbell, Ed Balls and Eric Pickles and then one from "another observer" but the author's name was clearly one "joswinson".

I know that name from somewhere. Doesn't she have something to do with politics?

Argh! McAfee destroyed my computer!

Last night after my McAfee anti-virus downloaded some updates, I got a message saying my XP machine was going to reboot in 60 seconds. Being annoyed by this (as I was doing stuff) I didn't really read it and just cursed McAfee for forcing a reboot on me so issued the "shutdown /a" command (to abort the shutdown) then a minute later it happened again and all my desktop theme disappeared (start bar went grey).

(If you are looking for a solution please go the end of my ramblings.)

I thought I'd better let it reboot if it wanted to so I closed what I could.

When it rebooted there wasn't even a taskbar and not much worked (including the internet). PANIC!!

After a lot of fruitless tinkering I decided to go to bed.

This morning, with a clear head, I worked out that the system file svchost.exe was missing (this is needed for a lot of system services to run including the one that provides the pretty themes). Luckily I had another computer of the same XP version around so I took the file from there and transferred it. Success, after a reboot if all seemed to be working but then I get the reboot message again. This time I read it and it said the RPC service had stopped working so the machine was rebooting.

Much googling on the other machine let me to believe it could be a virus (but the ones referenced were "fixed" in 2003).

Much disk checking and "virus fixing" ensued.

However, I eventually found that McAfee itself was the problem.

There had released a new virus definition file which was erroneous marking the vital svchost.exe as a virus and quarantining it!

I downloaded the "SuperDAT Remediation Tool" (from the link above) and ran it in safe mode (press F8 before Windows startup) and it fixed the problem. (Then I updated McAfee) Phew! I only installed McAfee after coming to the end of my tether with Norton, I guess now I should try the free AVG which has had rave reviews (even from my Dad after being recommended to him by Sony for his new laptop) and isn't a system hog.

Just thought I'd put this up there so people might find it if their computers have stopped working (assuming they can get to the internet, not sure what I would have done had I not had a second computer handy!)

UPDATE: Arrghh! It's happening again svchost has gone! This is not over! (Clearly their "fix" doesn't work)
UPDATE": When I tried to run their standalone dfinition update in safe mode it said "Error: No qualifiying McAfee products found". I have now uninstalled McAfee and installed AVG. The world is a better place...

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

David Camerwrong presents a new vision for Britain

This is quite an amusing cut-up version of a Cameron speech (warning: contains strong language):

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Populus: Con 32%, LD 31%, LAB 28

A populus poll for the Times just released shows a LibDem surge of 10%.
Initial details here.

Monday, 19 April 2010

We've even silenced Dale!

Things must be bad at Tory HQ. We've given Iain Dale writer's block!

Surely there must be some pro-Tory spin you can think of to post today, Iain?
Have CCHQ really not sent you anything usable recently?

I thought the news about Cameron pledging a nationwide school talent show was jolly exciting. Maybe try that?

BBC live coverage promotes flirting!

I've just been watching Nick at a student Q&A on the BBC election website and just for a few seconds the live feed was replaced by a cable channel running adverts for flirting services. Come on BBC, sort it out!

The Sun reports majority support for electoral reform

The thing that stood out for me (about from me worrying about whether the party has sorted out a way to neutralise our poilcy negatives - not that they're are not right but can be easily misrepresented in one line - see The Sun!) in this Sun article bashing us for our liberal policies is that their poll reported that 54% supported our policy to bring in STV! Time to shout it proud! Electoral reform is no longer a minority subject!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Get your LibDem election posters here

Ever since I blogging about the possibility of Esther Rantzen stealing our posters, I have had a trickle of people alighting on that post after searching for a place to get LibDem posters. Well, LibDemVoice have sailed to the rescue and let it be known that you can download the pdf of a LibDem window poster here and print it out yourself. Go on, stand proud amongst your neighbours!

Friday, 16 April 2010

Cameron pledges school talent show - winner gets to record a song with Gary Barlow

No really!! I'm not making this up. This isn't some spoof story. I'll be very pleased for the BBC to use it's normal fawning Tory slot on the news to extensively cover this initiative.

A warning to us all

A man in Stroud has been jailed for shouting at political programmes on the TV.

The man explained that shows like the BBC's Question Time made him angry!

The BBC has the story here.

We need to start talking about the Tax Switch again

I'm not sure at what point we stopped talking about our "Tax Switch" and it became focused on the "Tax Cut" element but we need to go back to the switch.

I think the "A £17bn tax cut? That's an awful lot of money and in a recession...moving on" attack first used and honed by the BBC on their News after our manifesto launch(what that impartial news organisation, should they be trying to mislead? Yeah, you would have thought!) and now used by Cameron during the leader's debate is, I fear, an effective one.

Also, it doesn't help responding to it with our costed list if they're only going to let you mention one thing before cutting you off and then claim that it silly to think you can raise all that money from that one thing.

In this situation all you can do is don't do a waffle-filled introduction (Nick!) and just list the measures as fast as you can.

However if we start referring to it again as a £17bn tax switch (which will cut tax for the lowest earners...) then you've already got the idea of how it will be afforded in the public mind (even saying revenue-neutral which we used to say will help).

We mustn't let it be framed in tax cut...funding terms as the traps outlined above are difficult to escape in this soundbite culture.

UPDATE: One further thought, if we start talking about the switch in its entirety this also helps to neutralise that rubbish Fabian argument about the only most of the "cut" going to those who are not poor.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

How will The Sun spin this?

The poll commissioned specially for the Sun has 51% saying that Nick won. How are they going to spin that?

LibDem's pull wool over voters' eyes?
Style over substance win for LibDems?

Should be interesting...

UPDATE: They went for "Cameron voted 'Best PM' in Sun poll"! Gotta love 'em!

Mark Prisk: The Hertfordshire Tory MP who spends his time campaigning in Cornwall

Mark Prisk is the Conservative MP for Hertford & Stortford (a currently safe seat). He is a "a born and bred Cornishman" (in his own words). Indeed, before becoming MP for a Hertfordshire seat he tried and failed to win a seat in Cornwall in 1997.

Fortunately for Mr Prisk, all the seats in Cornwall are held by the Liberal Democrats and consequently there are no Conservative MPs. So to boost their campaigning presence, David Cameron made Mr Prisk "Shadow Minister for Cornwall" in 2007 (somebody set up a local PriskWatch site then but it doesn't seem to have been updated since). This meant he could spend a lot of his time in his beloved Cornwall.

Unfortunately for Mr. Prisk, there was and is no Minister for Cornwall to shadow and this got him in to trouble when it turned out that he had been claiming expenses from the taxpayer for his jaunts to Cornwall for his "fictional minister" non-job. He was reprimanded by the speaker (but typically for our useless system there were no sanctions).

Recently, Cameron announced that under a Conservative government, that he would create a permanent Minister for Cornwall. Mark Prisk has refused to rule out becoming that Minister in response to a letter in the local paper from the LibDem candidate Andrew Lewin. So, it looks like the people of Hertford & Stortford can look forward to another 5 years of neglect!

To add insult to injury to the people of his Hertfordshire constituency, they can catch him on how he's doing occasionally via reports from Cornwall on the TV news. This was on Channel 4 yesterday:

For those of you you don't want to watch the full report, here is a screenshot of him enjoying campaigning in Cornwall:

Whether the local LibDem, Andrew Lewin (who was "born & bred" in the constituency) can make a significant dent in his majority remains to be seen. (Labour seem to have given up)

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Excited about the manifesto launch

Now the Labservatives have launch their two manifestos which seem be high on waffle and gimmickry but low on actual policies, I'm now quite looking forward to the launch of our policy-centric and fully costed manifesto.

Unless, the media really do go all out to mislead (they have form) I can't see how this won't be good for us.

The preview already released shows how we are highlighting our 4 big changes and keeping things simple and straightforward. Unfotunatelty we still have to use that awful slogan and Nick has to, yet again, shoehorn it into his introduction but you can't have everything...

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Same "ordinary member of the public" used in Conservative broadcasts 6 months apart

Can you give me your opinion on this? Are these women the same person?

First in this Conservative broadcast from November 2009 (at 1:02):

And second in tonight's election broadcast (starting at 10 seconds in):

she even has the same lovely blue coat (shown at 1:01 in tonights broadcast).

In the first video she is at a CameronDirect event, an ordinary member of the public explaining why she is considering voting Conservative (Brown hasn't done very well, looking for a change) and in tonight's broadcast she has made the decision to go blue.

Now this could be a great Tory success story of an undecided who has been persuaded by Cameron's charisma to come into the fold or maybe she wasn't an ordinary member of the public (with a nice blue coat) initially at all! Or maybe she isn't the same women at all and it's just my eyes...

A election broadcast with absolutely no policies

I just watched the Conservative election broadcast on BBC2 to coincide with their manifesto launch.

Is it just me or did it contain no policies whatsoever? Extraordinary!

Has Esther been stealing LibDem posters?

Having been directed to this ITV News report from Strange Thoughts, I was intrigued to to see the final shot of the film which was of Esther putting up one of her own campaign posters in a shop window. However in the pile of her posters behind her was clearly a Liberal Democrat poster for our candidate there, Qurban Hussain!

 Something fishy?

Has Esther been "liberating" LibDem posters?
To be fair, it is also possible that this is an example of TV fakery and they probably found a shop window which already has a LibDem poster in but took it down as it would have ruined the story they were trying to tell. But did they put it back? Or was it just there in the middle of Esther's pile?

Enquiring minds need to know!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Phew! The boy done well

After my initial concerns, worried old Hector that I am, I am feeling mightily relieved and not a little impressed that Nick acquitted himself well in the face of Paxo's grilling.

My fears about Paxman's general approach were borne out, he was obviously trying to pigeon hole and re-enforce establishment lies with his general "so, you are in favour of murdering the first-born, moving on..." tricks.

I think Nick generally coped with these well but I would have appreciated greater push back on the "LibDem MPs saying different things in different part of the country" lie that he was trying to make stick. Nick did well on the hospital version of this but with the schools version, after answering well, he petered out a bit when Paxman again tried to leave the accusation hanging there. (Disclaimer: This is my recollection, maybe he was better!).

However I think we really need to push back hard on the common myths peddled by our opponents as if these are heard enough coming from supposed "impartial" (ha!) journalists there will have more staying power in the public mind (obviously that is the establishment strategy and always has been, nothing new in that).

Having said all that and considering the interviewer I'd give Nick a A-.

Now we wait to see if the other party leaders agree to a Paxman grilling and if they do, whether it is a grilling and whether it will be up against Coronation Street! (If they do refuse do the BBC have to give them equal time elsewhere?)

I'm nervous about the Paxman interview

Well, I shall be watching the 30 minute Paxman interview of Nick Clegg on BBC1 tonight at 8:30pm but I approach it with trepidation.

Whilst I have confidence in Nick, Paxman is a scary prospect. Firstly his recent treatment of LibDems has been utterly appalling which has been noticed by other bloggers (can't find the links sorry) but also noticed by my aunt who randomly compained of his sneering at LibDems on the phone just now!

Also, a "gaffe" at the beginning of the campaign could haunt our campaign throughout. Now I'm not saying that Nick will make one but it has been the modus operandi of BBC political interviewers on radio and TV for a while now, not to get information out of a politician or to inform but to induce some "gaffe", or some words they can twist into one that they can then run in the next set of headlines. Depressingly this seems to define success for a political interview these days (Should the BBC be doing this I wonder?).

Anyway, I'm probably worrying about nothing...fingers crossed, touch wood...

Shock super-fast broadband for all pledge in Labour Manifesto

The Labour Manifesto contains a pledge to give every household in the country a broadband speed of at least 16.8 megabits! Unfortunately this is just the result of those tech-savvy Labourites confusing megabits with megabytes. The Register has the full story.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

They don't like it up 'em - Vince has the Tories on the run

Having just read this article on LibDemVoice about the usual Tory mouthpiece suspects (I'm looking at you Dale) crowing over Vince Cable's supposed bad performance on the politics show, I also followed the link to the iPlayer with trepidation. However what I found was Vince being reasonable and coping in a calm way with Jon Sopel's constant interruptions and agenda (is this really what the BBC should be doing?) and coming over well.

Interestingly, Vince's very reasonableness was forcing Sopel to stay his interruptions slightly as they now made him look bad (lesson in how to deal with aggressive interviewers I think - others take note!)

Party Mouthpiece Iain Dale also posted about a Today interview with Vince in a similar vein:

"It was good to hear Justin Webb give him a hard time on Today just now. About time someone did."

I again (like a true obsessive - maybe this is how football fans feel?) dug out the link to the interview and listened with trepidation only to hear Vince coming across well as per.

Yes, this may be my partisan bias affecting my judgement but I am well used to and prepared to hear LibDem representatives screwing up (IMHO!) and this was not happening.

Whilst reading Dale and their ilk during election periods is rather pointless if you are in pursuit of any sensible insight (of which he can be capable occasionally), it is very good (and amusing) in giving you a quick real-time guide as to what has the Tories wind up. And I can tell you Vince clearly has!

Anecdotally, they are right to be worried as I and others have noticed that he plays well on the doorstep.

They can't abide the cold steel!

That awful slogan

I feel a bit churlish bringing this up now as we seem to have been playing a blinder recently but I'm still bugged by THAT slogan.

When I first got the email two months ago from the Director of Election Communications revealing the new slogan and branding I though it was some kind of joke. And when we were asked to use it as "widely as possible in campaign material and elsewhere", my immediate response was "not if I've got anything to do with it". I had a look around LibDemBlogs but didn't see the anger/disappointment I expected to see. Indeed some seemed to actively like it. (Update: But I did find it later in the comments of this LDV piece)

My opinion on the subject hasn't mellowed since. It's just awful and worse, it undermines our excellent labservative campaign (I'm waiting for the "Don't vote LibDem, they'll only change things" poster!). It's more difficult to complain that the other two are the same and we are different when we have an equally vacuous slogan. It looks like the branding on a cereal box!

 Our New Slogan

A Cereal Box

Having said that every other campaign thought I was too lazy to commit to a blogpost seems to have been implemented as if by magic, so it looks like this may have been an early misstep (like having no party insignia behind Nick's conference speech in the close-ups used on the news coverage or making a three minute video for Channel 4 about our tax policy without mentioning our tax policy!) but it's a shame we're stuck with it as I can feel the votes floating away every time we have to use it. Despite Mark Pack's twitter protestations (was the good Dr. involved in creating this duck-billed platypus of a slogan?), by far the weakest parts of Nick's otherwise excellent leader's speech at conference were where he tried to shoehorn in this ungainly and deeply unconvincing slogan.

Glad to finally get that off my chest! Now for some positive post-Easter break blogging...

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Yet another BBC complaint sent

Further to this response and having heard Nick interviewed on Today, I was able to write this:

I complained about an interview with David Cameron you conducted on the 7th January where he was not asked once about a hung parliament. As this is an issue that equally affects all parties, I drew comparison with how you treat interviews with Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats. These interviews are dominated with questions about hung parliaments at the expense of being informing (one of your missions!) about policy.

You replied:

"As regards to the questions put to Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, this isn't something we're able to respond to without reference to a specific interview you heard on 'Today' or another of our broadcasts"

Not having the resources of the BBC to call on, I couldn't immediately lay my hands on chapter and verse for you but last Saturday (13/03/2010) you interviewed Nick Clegg on the Today Programme and the interview was dominated by questions about Hung parliaments.

Now, you have a comparison I look forward to hearing from you with a real response. Also I hope that in the future when you interview David Cameron or Gordon Brown that you ask them repeatedly about what they would do in a hung parliament including whether they would consider working with each other.

We'll see what happens. If any of you want to complain about the interview last Saturday then you can use Cameron's interview of 7th January as a comparator!

Another BBC complaint sent

After this post yesterday, I have now followed up with a complaint to the BBC:

On the 9am news you reported that David Cameron had announced that he wants to introduce a levy on the banks and that Labour support a similar scheme but only with international agreement.
The Liberal Democrats were not mentioned in this comparison despite having had, very publicly, supported a banking levy for some time.

Then on the 10am news you repeated the above but we got a snippet of a speech from David Cameron which was basically a word for word copy of a speech made previously by Nick Clegg. Still no mention of the pre-existing Liberal Democrat policy.

On the 12pm news, a bit about the Liberal Democrats wanting to break up the banks was added to the end but you didn't mention that they supported a banking levy too. Since it was by means of comparison this omission was actively misleading.

"Conservatives support a bank levy, Labour also supports a bank levy whereas the Liberal Democrats want to break up the banks" suggests strongly that the Liberal Democrats don't support a bank levy.

So I am complaining about the blatant bias by omissions (which I can only suspect were deliberate) and of the continuing misleading reports even when you added a bit in about the Liberal Democrats (I assume after complaints).

Let's see what they say...

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Cameron copies another LibDem policy - where are our press team?

So, I hear on the Radio 4 news at 9am that David Cameron has announces that he wants to introduce a levy on the banks and apparently Labour would support a similar scheme but only with international agreement. Hmm, I'm sure we've been calling for something similar for a long time.

Then at 10am, we not only get the same headline but also a snippet of a speech by Dave saying how the taxpayers should get something back for bailing out the banks. No that sounds really familiar, almost word for word one might say.

And here is the BBC's online version in which there is no mention of us.

Where is our press team springing into action and informing the BBC of the ommisions they are making this close to a general election? Do they not work at weekends?

I'm hoping I'm wrong and the party is working hard as we speak to rectify these omissions from the supposedly impartial BBC. Well are we?

UPDATE: Well on the 12pm news they mentioned that we want to break up the banks but didn't mention that we also support a levy which suggests that we don't by omission.

More success with the online article (thanks John)which has been updates with a good Vince quote:

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat economics spokesman Vince Cable said: "The other parties seem to be moving on to ground the Liberal Democrats have occupied for some time: banks must pay for the protection they enjoy from the taxpayer."
Mr Cable said his party had been "very specific about how this crucial issue should be tackled, after extensive discussion with the City and others".
He said it was "seriously worrying that both the Conservatives and the government still do not seem to have worked out a specific proposal".

Thursday, 18 March 2010

6Music strikes back?

Just now on Radio 4, we've had "6Music from the North" broadcast instead across half the news and some of The Archers! It thought it may have been a local pirate station before they announced themselves.

It's gone back to normal now. Considering that 6Music is a digital only station that's quite a cock-up!
Unless it was the deliberate act of 6Music staff raging against the dying of their station. (although more likely it's yet another result of the BBC's disastrous technical outsourcing to Siemens!)

UPDATE: Seems it was a mistake (so they say...)

Monday, 15 March 2010

Tory MEP uses McMillian-Scott's grandparents against him!

Wow! The nasty party really can't hide their true nature for long!
I followed the iPlayer link in Liberal England's posting pointing us towards an interview with our new defector and Nick on the Yorkshire and Lincolnshre Politics Show. It was a good interview but can we not brief our defectors a bit better (if they are amenable) so instead of:

Q: Which LibDem policy are you proud to have on the doorstep that you didn't have in your previous party
A: Well, it's all about Europe really...

It should have more like:
A: Well, under the LibDems no-one will pay tax on their first £10k...

but, I digress, what I really wanted to point out was that after this interview they talked to Tory MEP Roger Helmer (after CCO refused to put anyone up) and in comparing the grandfathers of the Michal Kaminski and McMillan-Scott (at about 58:20) said and I quote:

"You might like to be aware that [during the second world war], Edward McMillan-Scott's grandparents were interned in Britain because they were prominent members of the British Union of Fascists."

The interviewer was slightly shocker by this tactic and said:

"Well, Edward McMillan-Scott admits that openly so thank you for mentioning it"

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

"Independent" Guido dances to the tune of the dead tree press and repeats their lies

Despite Guido's history with the so-called dead-tree press and particularly the Telegraph, he seems to be lapping up their lies and insinuations, by regurgitating their non-story about Jo Swinson's non-existent cosmetic expenses.

As any fule kno the weasel worded Telegraph article insinuated that Jo Swinson claimed for cosmetics without actually saying that she did because she didn't. One of many stories they made up about LibDem MPs as we clearly didn't have enough (clearly there was some!) bad stuff (well, not compared to the Tories, their "parent party").

Come on Mr Fawkes, I expected better (well actually I didn't really!)

Saturday, 6 March 2010

CCHQ approves dog whistle

Looks like the clamour of tory activists to return to form has been approved. Details here.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Iain Dale - lying tonight!

Sigh, I know pointing out cheap party-political falsehoods in Iain Dale's postings could be very time-consuming but I'll make an quick exception for this one, Why Don't the LibDems Select BME Candidates in Winable Seats?

Iain claims that after the election that we will have no BME MPs.

Wait, what's this? My all-of-three-seconds spent at google turns up this, Operation Black Vote saying that the LibDems are on track to have between 1-3 BME MPs after the election.

He then finished his post with a flourish:

"Nick Clegg has been leader of the LibDems for two years now. Is it too much to ask why he hasn't made a single speech on what he intends to do about making the LibDems elected politicians reflect the society they purport to represent?"

Oh, wait, that same short google session has turned up something else, it's Nick Clegg giving a speech on what he intends to do about making the LibDems elected politicians reflect the society they purport to represent!

Will Lord Ashcroft's friend (look a cheap party political point! See, it's quite easy to do! I feel dirty now though...)  update his posting accordingly? I wait with baited breath.

UPDATE: Well, he has updated it with a mealy-mouthed explanation but still has not addressed the flat-out contradiction about no speeches having been made.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

LibDems go all "New Labour" on copyright ISP takedowns! Why?

The Register has the worrying story here.

Apparently our shadow culture minister in the Lords, Lord Howard has tabled an amendment to the Copyright Bill giving grerater powers to the courts to grant takedown injunctions to ISPs.

To be fair, The Register admits the move is "well-intentioned" and it seems that this is to replace the current proposal to give unlimited power to Lord Mandelson but shouldn't we be fighting against any such powers that are open to abuse by big players (witness DMCA-takedowns in America)?

Having said all this, maybe I'm missing a subtlety?

UPDATE: Apparently I'm missing a fairly big subtlety, Lord Howard is a Tory! Thanks to The Bureau of Sabotage (in the comments) for doing the fact checking I failed to do...
 Hopefully The Register will now update it's story. Maybe the party could send them a nice statement of our position?

UPDATE 2: Er, looking at the text of the amendment (120A), it seems that this was put forward by Lord Howard and Lord Clement-Jones (one of ours). So the story stands (but with the wrong name). Or am I reading it wrong?

UPDATE 3: The Register have updated their story and LibDemVoice has Lord Clement-Jones's explanation.

Monday, 1 March 2010

"Lord" Ashcroft admits he's a non-dom

The BBC has the story here.

Interestingly, he says being resident for tax purposes was "not a condition" of his peerage! So can we find out the precise conditions and who let it through?

Monday, 15 February 2010

A further BBC complaints response

As I wasn't happy with the BBC's last response to my QT complaint, I complained further and have
eventually got this back:


Thanks for your further e-mail regarding the 26 November edition of
'Question Time'. Please accept our apologies for the delay in replying. We
know our correspondents appreciate a quick response and we're sorry that
you've had to wait on this occasion.

We note that you were unhappy with the response that you received to your
complaint of 27 November, in which you expressed concern that Liberal
Democrat MP Jo Swinson had been dropped from the panel.

Your return complaint was forwarded to 'Question Time' Executive Editor,
Gavin Allen, who explained in response that the Liberal Democrats, like all
parties, get representation based on their level of electoral support. This
means they are on most - but not all - 'Question Time' panels across each
series. He added:

"We believe it adds to the breadth of debate to have perspectives from
politicians and non-politicians alike, so places are always limited even
within a 5-person panel."

In relation to your complaint that the programme did not include a Liberal
Democrat representative on the programme when the Iraq war was being
debated, Gavin Allen also explained that:

"It's also important to note that whilst the Liberal Democrats anti-war
policy was distinctive it was not unique. Respect, among others, were also
opposed to the war. As has been shown across a number of Question Times
this series, the Iraq inquiry will be debated many times. The Liberal
Democrat's view will be clearly and regularly highlighted, but it's
reasonable that others should also be given the opportunity to debate."

However, if you believe a serious and specific breach of the BBC's
Editorial Guidelines has occurred here, and you wish to pursue this
complaint further, you can contact the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit,
within 20 working days, and they will carry out an independent

You can write to them at the following address:

Editorial Complaints Unit
Room 5170
White City
201 Wood Lane
London W12 7TS

Alternatively you can e-mail the Unit at the address:, but
please note that complaints submitted via e-mail must include a postal
address as ECU findings are sent by letter.

We'd also like to assure you, Mr LibCync, that we've registered your
additional complaint on our audience log.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.


Regular readers will notice that:

"It's also important to note that whilst the Liberal Democrats anti-war
policy was distinctive it was not unique"

flat out contradicts the previous explanation of:

"in order to facilitate debate by having representatives
willing to question the central political consensus on these issues, of
which the Liberal Democrats are a part"

So I shall be taking this further.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

AV is a no-brainer

I expected to see the LibDem blogosphere erupt in a fit of hand-wringing over different voting systems in response to the news that Goron Brown was now (after 13 years of dither) proposing a referendum on changing the voting system. I was pleasantly surprised to see this wasn't the case so much. Maybe it's because we've already been through a recent bout of this last year. Not wishing to repeat what I said then (although I will), I just wanted to say that I can't believe anyone can seriously suggest that we shouldn't support this.

If we are going to have a referendum, there is absolutely no way we would win with AV+ or STV as, as I've said previously, anything that is complicated to explain will be seen as a stitch up by the public. AV I can explain (and sell) to people, just about! (it's like the X factor would be if they didn't want as much of your money as possible)

Yes, we all know that STV is the best system in every way but AV does solve quite a few of the current problems.

1) It eliminates wasted votes for losing opponents
2) It requires a candidate to get "majority" support
3) It allows smaller parties/independents half a chance as a vote for them is no longer wasted (okay, same as point 1)
4) It removes tactical considerations (okay same as point 3!)

Yes it doesn't:

1) Make for a more proportional system
2) Reduce the powers of the parties in candidate selection
3) Allow you more chance of being represented by someone with similar views
4) Eliminate wasted over-votes for winning candidates

as STV would.

I would argue, however, that AV is still a major step forward in accountability and respecting the voters' wishes.

My 2-point plan for getting the perfect voting system in the UK would be:
a) Win a referendum on AV
b) A subsequent LibDem government brings in STV

Pulling back to now just for a second though, would even enough Labour MPs vote for it for it to get through (with our support)?

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Another BBC complaints response

I've had a response to this complaint. Damn, my slightly ranty scattergun approach isn't foolproof (I will try and improve). Can anyone point me to BBC interviews with Nick which were annoyingly bogged down with talk of hung parliaments?
I remember seeing/hearing them but can't remember where/when.

Thanks for your e-mail regarding 'Today' on BBC Radio 4.

I note you were disappointed that David Cameron wasn't asked about the possibility of a hung parliament during his interview with Evan Davis on 7 January.

We do realise that listeners have many questions that they'd like to be put to an interviewee, but, due to time constraints it's simply not possible to ask as many as our audience would like us to ask. The choice has to be selective and we accept that some listeners may disagree with the decisions we take.

As regards to the questions put to Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, this isn't something we're able to respond to without reference to a specific interview you heard on 'Today' or another of our broadcasts.

BBC journalists and presenters are well aware of our commitment to impartial reporting. They are expected to put their own political views to one side when carrying out their work for the BBC. They seek to provide the information which will enable viewers and listeners to make up their own minds; to show the political reality and provide the forum for debate, giving full opportunity for all viewpoints to be heard. Our senior editorial staff, the BBC's Executive Committee, and the BBC Trust keep a close watch on programmes to ensure that standards of impartiality are maintained.


Monday, 11 January 2010

Most tenuous headline ever

This BBC article (okay puff-piece for own programme but still!) has the headline:

"Survivors cast survive swine flu"

Other than the fact they were filming in the midlands, they doesn't seem to be any reason to think they may have got it! Of course had an epidemic halted production we may have been saved the tedium of a second series...

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Nick's been on fire recently

How nice it's been this last week, everytime Nick appears in the media he seems to say what I think he should be saying. Whether it's responding to the hung parliament question by saying we are not for sale or his personal comments on Gina Ford's baby rearing techniques, he seems to be hitting the nail on the head. With the comments on child rearing I think he may have inadvertently stumbled across the holy grail of genuinely reaching previously unreachable/politically unengaged people if the comments on this mumsnet thread are anything to go by.

We just need to make sure enough comes across in the media. Don't forget to join the MediaWatch group and keep up the pressure.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Dissapointed in Dale

My automatic Dale-o-matic confidently told me to expect the following post, but it hasn't appeared (yet):

Snow gives lie to climate change fanatics

I've got loads of snow in my garden. How do the climate change fascists explain this one?

The global climate conspiracy have been suspiciously quiet on this! Enough said.

Come on Dale don't let your regular readers down!

National Rail website makes itself less useful

With the news that the National Rail website has fallen over in the snow, I thought I'd articulate a problem I have with the websties revamp.

A month or so back, they revamped the website to make it prettier. However before when you would search for a journey and you clicked on "details" next to any resultant journey, you would get a page of the details of the 5 or so consecutive journeys after the time you wanted. This made it easy to compare the details of the journeys leaving at different times.

Now, on the new pretty site when you click on the details next to a suggested journey you get a page with only the details for that one journey and not the others. This makes it a real pain to try and compare them.

This makes my life that little bit less easy.

Progress, my a*se!

UPDATE: An anonymous commentator has pointed out that if you hover over the number of changes than you get a pop-up with the changes in. This seems to be the case but I'm sure it didn't do this when I wrote the post as I checked for this. Maybe something has been fixed.

Quick BBC response

To be fair to the Beeb they obviously respond quickly to delayed responses!

Here is the belated response to my Question Time complaint (it's basically an amalgam of responses others have had):

"Thanks for your e-mail regarding 'Question Time' broadcast on 26 November.

Please accept our apologies for the long delay in replying.  We know our
correspondents appreciate a quick response and we're sorry you've had to
wait on this occasion.

I understand you'd like to know why there wasn't any Liberal Democrat
representation on the panel during a discussion about the Iraq war. I note
you felt that as a result of this, false claims about Liberal Democrat
policy went unchecked.

We forwarded your concerns on this issue to 'Question Time' Executive
Editor Gavin Allen who explained that we constantly monitor the balance of
the panel and that in light of their national electoral strength, the level
of representation for the Liberal Democrats on the programme remains very

He added that on this occasion the panel was rearranged to reflect a change
in the prominence of some of the issues due to be discussed on the
programme and in order to facilitate debate by having representatives
willing to question the central political consensus on these issues, of
which the Liberal Democrats are a part.

He also added that:

"It was regrettable - but necessary - that the decision to replace Jo
Swinson was taken relatively late, but we have to keep a constant editorial
eye out for the best possible panel and this can of course mean last-minute
alterations. To ensure the widest range of political views are heard there
are occasions across the series when nationalists or minority parties are
invited onto the panel".

It then goes on to say the standard stuff about the audience log.


"discussion about the Iraq war"

"central political consensus on these issues, of which the Liberal Democrats are a part."

Hmm, I'll see how I can take this further...

BBC complaints

I hope you've all taken heed of this cry for help with media monitoring. To this end I have just sent this complaint off to the BBC about today's Today programme:

"In David Cameron's full interview on the Today Programme he was not asked once about a hung parliament and was allowed to talk relatively unhindered about his policies.

Whenever Nick Clegg is on for the Liberal Democrats, the interview is dominated by obsessive questions about hung parliaments to the detriment of anything else. In not asking the same to David Cameron, the BBC are showing double standards as this question applies equally to all parties.

Can I take it then when Nick Clegg is next on , you won't ask him about hung parliaments and take up valuable time in which you could be helping to inform the public about what the parties stand for? Or does the BBC's mission to inform only extend to the cosy establishment parties?"

Hmm, possibly too ranty. Not as bad as my first attempt which was a complaint about a lack of a LibDem on Question Time in November which was dominated by the Iraq inquiry. I have had a holding reply but not a response. I have now complained about the lack of response!

I have learnt to my cost that typing directly into the BBC's tiny box on their complaint form is not a good idea. Cue much embarrassment when they send the complaint back to you by email and it doesn't make as much sense as you thought it did - never mind spelling! (See below). I suggest you type it into your favourite text editor first and then cut&paste it. Also this means you can easily send a copy to LibDem MediaWatch.

My overlong Question Time complaint is presented for your delectation (corrected for some spelling and sense!):

"I tuned in to watch a Question Time dominated by the Iraq
inquiry and was disconcerted to see no Liberal Democrat representative. As
I'm sure you know, the Liberal Democrats were the only one of the three main
parties to vote and argue against the Iraq war from the start and have a
distinct position on this issue.

Also I noticed that the SNP representative made a point about all three
parties failing on the Calman report which just isn't true of the Liberal

There wasn't a Liberal Democrat on last week and from David Dimbleby's comments at
the end it sounded like there won't be for the next two weeks. Is this

I don't see how this can be anything other than the BBC supressing legimate
opinion and hiding away the views of one party and also allowing its
opponents to tell lies unchecked about it.

Should it not at least have been incumbent on the chair to point out that
the Liberal Democrats weren't taken in by Blair in the Iraq war debate whilst
the establishment member's of the panel were all agreeing on how the house
agreed on war?

Question Time often makes space for celebrities or journalists (often
establishment politicians masquerading as independent journalists). Is this
realy more important than reflecting the range of party political opinion
and not presenting a skewed reality of the public?"

Ross is leaving!

Finally I might be able to watch a film review show or a Friday night chat show on the BBC again (without cringing and feeling wholly unsatisfied)!

The news that Jonathan Ross is leaving the BBC is being greeted with universal acclaim in our house!