Thursday, July 31, 2003

Flash Gordon to save the Tories?

I hate to indulge in party point scoring but the Tories really are in a terrible mess. Two friends of mine, one that has great affinity with several English counties because he owns most of them and the other who is quite a bit more right wing than Gengis Khan, are by natural inclination rock solid tory. Yet they have both recently left the tory party in distgust at the hopeless mess it's in.

According to the Conservative historian Andrew Roberts the thing that is going to save them is a Brown Premiership. While it is a bunch of Tory Tosh on two counts that a) there's going to be a Brown premiership and b) it would benefit the Tories, at least its very well written Tory Tosh.

Personally I was intrigued to learn that Conservative PM Andrew Bonar Law represented Glasgow Central.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Getting friendly with Satan

Now as a confirmed Guardianista, the Daily Mail should only be viewed as the earthly manifestation of Satan himself. It's not said directly but in the mind of every guardian reader is the assumption that those who read the daily mail are the narrow minded, mean spirted hypocrites that may seem nice on the outside but are infact the people who brought you John Major. Not to mention the joyless moral austerity of Melanie Phillips. They are the petty minded members of the "i'm not racist but" brigade that haven't got over the fact that we don't have an empire anymore.

But a terrible thing befell me this morning. An old copy of the Mail was on the kitchen table whether this was placed by an errant housemate or just sent direct from hell i am not to sure. But I had a look at it. It appealled to all the worst intincts, nosiness, purience. I have to say I thought it was a damn good read. Not that I would actually pay money for the stuff but it has the same feeling as reading your best friend's diary. You know you shouldn't read it but you can't help yourself.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Happy days at the SNP

A wee while ago I was doing some phone canvassing in a very English ward where the slighty dotty women I was calling was a convinced supporter of the SNP. After explaining that the Scottish Nationalist Party has about as much enthusiam for standing a candidate in the land of the sassenachs as I have for pogoing across the Gobi desert backwards she was unmoved but at least her unswerving support for her party leader is more than can be said for many of it's members.

John Swinney (apparently the SNP leader) is being challenged for the job by some political hick who is even more obscure than JS himself. How this effects the future of the nation i'm not to sure but at least its fun to watch.

As one former SNP member says "SNP members are banging their heads agianst a brick wall and there was a lot in infighting and backstabbing." If this was a party of government it would be understandable but to be doing this in opposition, that is impressive.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

The blog gets around

Looking at the IP addresses people have logged in here from:

Australia, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, South Africa, America, Brazil, France,
New Zealand, Greece, Switzerland, Netherlands, Czech Republic.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

James Graham emails!

I asked for people to let me know if the Lib Dems have got someone from the ethnic minorities elected and one James Graham, Organisational Vice Chair of the Green Liberal Democrats and a member of the Federal Executive of the Liberal Democrats no less has replied. Nice one James.

He writes: "Don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming we're perfect by any means. But we are making significant progress." Well that's good to hear. Indeed "the Liberal Democrat President is currently Lord Navnit Dholakia" Good Good.

"And if we're talking about MEPs, then I should point out that Saj Karim is number two on our North West list, and well placed to win." Yes and your preparing for government after the next general election no doubt.

There's more:"The first ever ethnic minority MP elected in the UK was Dadabhai Naoroji - a Liberal who was MP for Finsbury Central in
1892" I know the Lib Dems like to take credit for other peoples achievements but this was over 110 yeas ago and 95 years before the Liberal Democrat party was formed out of the wreckage of the SDP and the tiny Liberal party.

Obviously a career on the frontbench of Lib Dems politics awaits.

As I am fair to a fault and in the interests of impartiality you can read the email he sent me in full as he has posted it on his blog
Not Parrotting the party line

Geoff Hoon was having a bad day on Saturday and it wasn't helped by my old friend Nick Parrott having a go at him during the national Young Labour weekend. Alas I couldn't be arsed to go as the best bits tend to get repeated in the Guardian diary. So it was no surprise that the cringe making contents of their exchange is reproduce in technicolour detail here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Shock News

The Brent East selection went to a white middle class male politico, the MEP Robert Evans. Interestingly the person who is replacing him as an MEP should he get elected is from the back half of the 1999 list and is an asian called Munir Malik.

Thought I should point out that its only the Labour Party that is actually bothered by the issue at all. If anyone can find an ethnic minority member of the Lib Dems who has got themselves elected to something please let me know.

Dean 4 President

I just got this in my inbox:

The most incredible thing has happened. We've known that Howard Dean has gained momentum and is the only candidate in serious contention to win both Iowa and New Hampshire. Today, however, the latest Field Poll revealed that Howard Dean is now in the lead-- in California, the most populous state in the nation.

These amazing poll results are a testament to the power of the grassroots.

I know that at least 2 lovely Americans read this blog. Go and sign up for Dean at http://www.deanforamerica.com/signup and get yourself a president that the chief chimp in the local zoo can't outwit

Monday, July 21, 2003

Jeffery the Jailbird no longer

This day had to come eventually. I wish we could have put it off as long as possible but Jeffrey Archer or rather Lord Archer of Weston Super Mare is being let out in to the big wide world again. Well some one has to do charity auctions. I think the serious point is that the man may have a certain comic value but he shouldn't as a convicted criminal (and not a minor traffic offence either) be allowed to sit in the House of Lords influencing the laws that govern us all . He should be stripped of his peerage forthwith and be left to his book writing. But he last thing people expect of Jeffery Archer is quiet scribing so I suspect we shall be seeing him on our TV screens before to long.

Personally I loved the bit of TV where he was at Tory party conference doing his speech saying something like " I'm supported to be the next conservative mayor of London by Margaret Thatcher the former prime minister. I'm supported by John Major the former prime minister and i'm supported by William Hauge the next prime minister." Oh how they all appluaded.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Letter from America

"If Tony Blair is half as good a leader as speaker, your nation is truly blessed.
Rod Dunklee
League City, Texas, USA "

Saw this in todays Guardian. Surely a piss take of rootin tootin god fearing Americans? Still i'm glad that we've got Tony and they've got the retarded criminal chimp.
Greening Tribune

After reading this article on the BBC website I thought I would write a letter to that wonderful bastion of socialism Tribune and being the media whore that I'm posting it here as well.

"The urgent can often hide the important. The announcement by Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt of a massive expansion in offshore wind power hasn’t received the coverage it merits. Not only will this increase the use of wind power by 1000% it will also create 20,000 jobs in manufacturing, installation and maintenance. Inadequate on its own, it nonetheless puts us on course to produce 20% of our energy from renewables by 2020.

Increasing use of sustainable energy is a win–win situation. It helps protect the vulnerable in the developing world from the effects of climate change and brings greater security to our energy supplies. Oil from the Gulf and natural gas from Russia and Algeria are not the harbingers of international stability.

As production will diminish over the next decades the era of cheap oil is coming to an end. How we cope with this will have huge effects on our foreign policy, economy and the environment. Fortunately we have a Labour government in power to take the right decisions."

Will Parbury

Friday, July 18, 2003

Sack the Sub

In the words of Kevin himself "i didn't put him round that table!" it was all due to a sub editor whose understanding of the world has been limited to the collected work of GWB. Never trust a man you suspect of having more toiletry products than brain cells be they a Sub editor on the guardian or POTUS.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Mired in Maguire

Kevin Maguire is one of the few journalists remaining with an interest in the Labour Movement as a whole. Who else gives such informed comment on union elections and the like? I find it shocking to discover a journalist who knows what they are talking about. So I was somewhat disappointed with his latest Union Diary letting the side down despite the excellent story on the NEC being cut down to size.

What was really shocking about Maguire’s usually lovely article was the humdinger of an error in describing Alan Johnson as a cabinet minister in the same piece that describes him as higher education minister. Now either Charles Clarke has been forgotten about or Kevin thinks that Mr Tony has given DfES an extra seat at the cabinet table. Either way someone hasn’t been paying attention. Poor show.

The planting of the most implausible stories does not restore confidence. Apparently “The unlikely figure of trade secretary Patricia Hewitt has emerged as the most anti-war minister during cabinet discussions on Iraq.” Oh really, how convenient. Funny I don’t remember her sprinting out of the Cabinet room before Cook.

This kind of briefing would have nothing to do with the perception that the whole Iraq expedition is going arse over tit and a minister with the potential to go further wants to distance themselves from the mess. Could we be seeing the re-emergence of the Kinnockite Hewitt? Well the next leader of the Labour Party will be to the left of Blair.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Magic Malik

It must be tough being on the national executive committe of the Labour Party. All those meetings, all those important decisions. At least one of its members has a nice little sideline going. Shahid Malik, apparently not one of the most shy members, appears to have set as a Paul Daniels rival with a superb website detailing his magical exploits.

But I'm not sure about the photos, I distincly do not remember the moustache when I met the man himslef up in Burnley a few weeks ago. Could Shahid be using a body double? Such reticence.

More serious stuff when it gets a bit cooler.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Is this all he gets?

Young Christopher (Christopher Young surely, but that's what it says on the email) from the cabinet office ceremonal secretariat finally replies to my email. Holidays getting longer these days eh.

Apparently his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales has the

Knight of the Order of the Thistle
Knight of the Order of the Garter
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Order of Merit

This cannot be allowed to stand a prince with only four honours. What next a palace with no servants? But at least we have one Royalist in the cabinet office. "I hope this is helpful" writes young Christopher. Indeed it is, indeed it is. More tomorrow.

Is this all he gets?

Young Christopher (Christopher Young surely, but that's what it says on the email) from the cabinet office ceremonal secretariat finally replies to my email. Holidays getting longer these days eh.

Apparently his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales has the

Knight of the Order of the Thistle
Knight of the Order of the Garter
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Order of Merit

Simply this can't be enough. Something must be done but at least there is one royalist in the Cabinet office.
"I hope this is helpful" adds Young Christopher. Indeed it is, indeed it is. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Things can only get ... dumber

By now my irritation with non-voters was reaching breaking point.

‘Hundreds of people have just been murdered in Tiananmen Square because
they wanted the right to vote.’
‘Ah,’ said the non-voter ’But that, young man was in China.’
‘Erm, yes, yes, it was in China, your right there.’
‘And it wouldn’t happen in England, because we already have a democracy.
And that’s my point.’

I didn’t realise it was possible surgically to remove all logic from
someone’s brain. I didn’t try any harder to persuade him to vote because I
decided that the farther this person was kept from a ballot box it would be for
all of us.

John O’Farrell
Things can only get better

Monday, July 07, 2003

No respect

Recently the Labour party lost one of its own when the MP for Brent East past away. You would have thought this was a time for mourning but obviously no one bothered to tell the local vulture population as I gather that at the recent Parliamentary Panel training event in London, the Regional Director had to stand up at the beginning and make a statement saying that all those people who'd rang/emailed/etc the Regional Office the day Paul Daisley died to ask what the selection timetable was would not be graced with an answer. There are some sick people out there...

Storm in a ward

Manchester City Council has been at the centre of a storm over council leader Richard Leese’s attack on the Liberal Democrat group. Cllr Liaqat Ali got himself elected at the elections in May for Longsight as a Liberal Democrat but hasn’t got enough English to understand council meetings. So he expects the council to spend £20 per hour for a translator for him on council business. The Labour Group has objected and said the Liberal Democrat Party should pay; they after all got him elected.

The central charge has been put to the Labour Party namely that we’re a bunch of racists, this for the party that introduced the race relations act and set up the commission for racial equality.

Firstly is this attack on the Lib Dems discrimination? No, it absolutely is not. While the opposition have a right to scrutinise the council, the opposition themselves have no special privilege to be exempt from scrutiny themselves. Anyway the situation is completely absurd more than half of his constituents speak only English. Yes many do speak Urdu but most also speak English as well and if politics is about any thing it’s about communication. He is simply unable to do his job as a councillor. The labour councillor he replaced at the election is himself Asian. If you are blind you have no choice in being so, whereas Cllr Ali has plenty of choice. He’s been in the country five years. He has had plenty of time to learn the language.

What people language people speak in their own home is their own business but the national language is English. It would also be hugely damaging for ethnic minority communities to think that they can take their rightful place in British society if they fail to speak English.

Reliance on their own language can only mean the marginalisation of ethnic communities. All of this country's institutions of power, wealth and knowledge operate in English and to cut yourself off from the language relegates those people to the bleakest margins of society. I think that is wrong.

Personally I accept the argument that all the main political parties are in the definition of the McPherson Report institutionally racist. A simple glance of the House of Commons will confirm that but I think the Labour party has the best record out of any of the parties. And considering that the Lib Dems out of their London assembly members, Members of the European parliament and over fifty members at Westminster they can muster not a single ethnic minority representative it’s a bit rich for their supporters in the letter columns to call the Labour party racist. We need to address the issue of representation for the ethnic minorities and the inequalities that are faced by ethnic minority communities, that is the more serious that needs to be address by the press not whether one councillor has a translator or not.

Saturday, July 05, 2003


Thought I would post this for those at the right end of the country. A more substantial post will wing its way to the site by teatime on Monday.

Can Weblogs Change Politics?
A VoxPolitics Seminar

14th July, 5:30 - 7.00pm

Portcullis House, Houses of Parliament (room tbc)

Drinks and Food Provided

Steven Clift, e-democracy expert
Stephen Pollard, Blogging Journalist,
Pernille Rudlin, Mobile expert
Tom Watson MP, Blogging MP
James Crabtree , Chair

Weblogs (‘blogs’) and associated ‘social software’ tools have been this year’s big news online. But can they be used politically, and if so, how and to what end?

In America, blogging politicians are becoming common. Presidential Candidate Howard Dean, the emerging poster-boy of e-Democracy, is pioneering the use of new technologies to raise money, organise supporters, and get his message out. The forthcoming presidential election will be the first election blogged in real time, both by politicians and observers. In other ways bloggers have begun to affect the mainstream of American politics, with a hand in the resignation of Trent Lott, the sacking of Jason Blair, and the prosecution of the war on Iraq.

A couple of British MPs have also started weblogs, along with a handful of councillors and other activists. But will these new tools, and those who use them, make any difference to mainstream politics? Can they be a useful way for elected representatives to communicate to their constituents and supporters? And can citizens use them to be political, either by running campaigns or scrutinising those in power?
This Voxpolitics seminar will examine these issues, and ensure a lively discussion.

RSVP to blogrule@voxpolitics.com

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Quote of the day

"a successful democracy requires that citizens be involved and active in
politics, informed about politics and influential.

Furthermore, when they make decisions, particularly the important decision
of how to cast their vote, they must make them on the basis of careful
evaluation of evidence and careful weighing of alternatives.

The passive citizen, the non-voter, the poorly informed or apathetic
citizen all indicate a weak democracy" Almond & Verba The Civic Culture 1963

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Is this what I pay my taxes for?

No word as yet from the Cabinet Office... If this shilly shallying continues much longer we can only conclude that the Cabinet Office is staffed by a small cell of politically motivated republican extremists intent on wrecking the nation and bringing such foreign practices as the guillotine to the shores of our blessed isle. Outrageous

Logic need not pass this point

One David Carr of samizdata took umbrage at my post advocating regional devolution. Personally I fail to see why when he him self writes "Britain is a grossly overcentralised country with every decision that matters being made in London and then applied nationwide. We are, in effect, a City-State."

But then I remember as a right wing blog it must be obsessed with the European Union and how there all a bunch of nazi Germans intent on eradicating British fair play. True to form he writes as if its all an evil plan cooked up in Romano Prodi's office. If only the trains were as reliably wrong as this stupid argument.

"The regional assemblies are being created as civilian Gauleiters in order to ensure that the laws and directives of the EU Commission are administered and enforced at local level and to jockey with each for the chunks of redistributed largesse handed out by the various arms of the Euro-state. Their job is not to represent the will of the people to those in power, it is to ensure that the will of those in power is applied to the people."


Lib dems are where exactly

Cllr Jenny Kingsley formerly of the conservative and now lib dem persuasion has written a letter published in today’s Guardian arguing "Many young people are disillusioned with the present government's spin and management of public services, and consider the Conservative party to be out of touch with contemporary culture, and lacking a sense of social responsibility and justice."

This illustrates the central problem facing the Lib Dems namely that they are a party of protest and lack any sort of ideological coherence. It is virtually axiomatic in British politics that they are surrogate tories in one area and labour in another depending on which ever tack gives them most electoral advantage. There may be 2 real Liberal Democrat people in the country but most are people hacked off with the main parties. For instance I went to Essex University in Colchester which is now represented by a Liberal Democrat Bob Russell who just happens to be a former Labour parliamentary candidate.

It's the quiet ones you want to watch

Obviously as this isn't processology no one will have noticed it. But when David Miliband is not screwing up the finding formula he does do some good things.

Wise words

“At just over £20,000 a year, that half way mark is not high – after tax, national insurance, council tax, rent, as electricity and a full tank of petrol. But the media opinion formers, who themselves earn so much more, develop a convenient social myopia, air brushing out the low earners and most of those below the median.”

Polly Toynbee Hard Work: life in low pay Britain.

Honour a Prince

As promised earlier more on the heir to the throne. Quite simply I find the attitude of some people to Prince Charles disgraceful. He is quite literally a prince among men, an example to us all and our future leader god willing. We do not appreciate him enough. I intend to put right that grave injustice. So we should start a campaign to get him a honour. He's probably a little shy asking his mother direct so I'm going to help him out. An email to the cabinet office Ceremonial Secretariat that deals with such matters goes this very morning.

Only human

A little technical difficult meant that the following three posts got posted twice. Please forgive. Also apologies to Nick Barlow for not mentioning him below, which is ironic as he's the only one I've met in real life.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Cleavage is so important

“To my mind there have always been two fundamental cleavages in socialist thought – the cleavage between
revolutionaries and reformists and the cleavage between centralisers and federalists.”

G.D.H Cole quoted in Socialisms old and new by Tony Wright MP

So true, but obviously G.D.H Cole never met Dolly Parton.

Thanks Guys

A big hand to all the lovely people who sent me emails. In particlular to fellow bloggers Tom Watson MP, Harry@harry's placeand Peter Cuthbertson, even though he is a tory.

Royal Progress Delayed

HRH will return tomorrow all being well.

Cleavage is so important

“To my mind there have always been two fundamental cleavages in socialist thought – the cleavage between
revolutionaries and reformists and the cleavage between centralisers and federalists.”

G.D.H Cole quoted in Socialisms old and new by Tony Wright MP

So true, but obviously G.D.H Cole never met Dolly Parton.

Thanks Guys

A big hand to all the lovely people who sent me emails. In particlular to fellow bloggers Tom Watson MP, Harry@harry's place
and Peter Cuthbertson, even though he is a tory.

Royal Progress Delayed

HRH will return tomorrow all being well.

They do it better down under

Is this the best campaigning idea ever? Last April New Zealand Young Labour came up with the type of original thinking that has been sadly lacking from Young Labour in the UK.

"Young Labour today expressed their deep disappointment at McDonalds franchise ban on the "Tearaway" youth magazine, imposed after the magazine featured an article on lesbian and gay youth, and on Wednesday will hold a "kiss-in" at the McDonalds Head Office (61 Wellington St Freemans Bay) in Auckland as a form of protest."

'"Young People today understand that different sexualities are an important and valid party of New Zealand society,' Young Labour President Michael Wood said."

Not sure it would work in Northern Ireland though. The David Trimble and Ian Paisley snogathon for Unionism somehow doesn't have quite the same appeal.

Next in line

"Some of my more illuminating conservations have been with vegetables"

Prince Charles quoted in last Saturday's Mirror

How lucky we are in this wonderful country to guided in our national life by the Prince of Wales. This man deserves recognition. More on this later.

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