In response to this story:
30 September 2006
29 September 2006
26 September 2006
Cherie L. Bandit
The mass media need to stop focussing on gossip like this. They defend it as the "human interest angle", which they claim sells more papers. But they should be looking at the real issues that matter to ordinary people. Sometimes this will mean comparing personalities (Cameron vs Brown, for example, or even Brown vs Blair), but this kind of playground tittle-tattle is interesting only to those in the Westminster Village.
Cobbled together by Gavin Whenman at 10:09 am
25 September 2006
"The current affairs programme investigates the secret world of Labour Party funding. Martin Bright, political editor of The New Statesman, looks at how allegations of secret loans and cash for peerages have brought brought Blair's party into disrepute, and unravels the possible legal consequences."
A more accurate synopsis might read:
"Man who believes he is Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward attempts to pervert the course of justice by making a one hour documentary about a police investigation that has yet to be concluded. He intersperses this with attempts to talk to the main players, knowing full well they won't. He does so anyway as he wants them to appear guilty."
Cobbled together by Gavin Whenman at 9:00 pm
24 September 2006
Will he lose his dignity?
Let's just clear this up. The public did not vote Tony Blair in. The only people that did are his Sedgefield constituents. He was appointed Prime Minister by the Queen, as he was the person able to command a majority in the House of Commons**, and his party received just 35.3% of the vote. That means that 64.7% of the voting public do not support his party, let alone his administration.
* In between the awesome Scrubs on abc1 and E4.
** Actually, the PM doesn't need to be able to command a majority - see Harold Wilson, Governance of Britain.
Cobbled together by Gavin Whenman at 7:33 pm
23 September 2006
This is her profile picture
* And admittedly, and unfortunately, did exist to a lesser extent whilst I was editor.
Cobbled together by Gavin Whenman at 4:28 pm
17 September 2006
Anyway, I'm off to Barcelona tomorrow, so all those going to the LibDem conference, enjoy it. And to everybody else, just be glad you're not going to the LibDem conference.
Cobbled together by Gavin Whenman at 2:03 pm
16 September 2006
Perhaps the only exception to this is in the chamber of the House of Commons, where they seem to do all in their power to ensure the other side can't talk.
I'm a Liberal Democrat, yet I don't just read LibDem Blogs. I read, for example A Very British Dude, partly so I can piss him off, but partly because there's some good writing in there. I don't consider the fact that we disagree on most issues a turn-off - reading a blog which accords exactly with my world view is actually fairly boring most of the time.
I admit I don't read any Labour blogs on a regular basis, but that's just because no good ones have caught my eye**. I used to subscribe to the once-great Recess Monkey, but since it started posting Photoshopped pictures from Beau Bo D'Or, I switched my subscription to that site.
Courtesy of Beau Bo D'Or
I'm discussing this because Iain Dale, noted Conservative blogger, has released his Top 100 Lib Dem Blogs*** (PDF). The fact that all of these blogs are not of the same political hue as his own had not stopped him from rating them.
Perhaps this relative harmony in the UK political sphere, relative to the US I mean, is a sign that we all recognise, both politicians and those that watch politics from the sidelines, that we are joined together by a desire to make the country and maybe even the world a better place to live. Perhaps we lose sight of this in the cynical, powderkeg 24 hour news cycle where the slightest thing can be blown up into a 'scandal'.
* See Alex Wilcock's analysis of Sen. Lieberman's primary race for a quick overview of how he used this.
** Although I'll be taking a look through Iain Dale's Top 100 Labour Blogs (PDF) to remedy this.
*** I'm, surprisingly, number 37. The newly-launched Lib Dem Voice gets the top spot and Will Howells excellent blog comes in at an 12. Iain Dale's book, Guide to Political Blogging in the UK, is out on 22nd September.
15 September 2006
"Thank you for getting in touch. My information was that only extremely violent material would be covered so only a relatively small percentage of material would be covered. I do agree with the other points you make about learning more about underlying reasons why people commit murder."
14 September 2006
Cobbled together by Gavin Whenman at 2:32 pm
12 September 2006
And if you really want a reason to check out the article, I'll let you into a secret - I'm wearing a Donkey Thong in that photo.
In other news...
Clare Short will apparently be standing down as an MP at the next election, in order to
"be free to advocate a hung parliament so that the Lib Dems could “do a deal” to ensure PR"For those unfamiliar with Claire Short until now, she's the ex-Labour minister that fell out with Tony Blair but isn't dead.
Clare Short has confirmed she is stepping down in a column for The Independent.
Cobbled together by Gavin Whenman at 2:26 pm
11 September 2006
"ensure that people who don’t subscribe to CIX*, or Lib Dem News, have an idea of what's going on in the party, and can talk about it."There's an interesting poll up at the moment showing that fellow blogger Lynne Featherstone MP might have enough support to run for the party Presidency... Or not, 'cause at the time of writing only 47 people have voted**.
There's also Liberal Review, although the front page links haven't been updated properly in a while.
* No, I don't know what this is either.
** About half the party.
Cobbled together by Gavin Whenman at 9:15 pm
08 September 2006
"Businesses were ordered yesterday to ensure that their staff took minimum rest periods, after existing guidelines were dismissed as “meaningless” by the European Court of Justice.Can't see anything wrong with that - if anything the concentration of workers must wane after 6 hours, lowering productivity. It's also good for the health (mental and physical) of workers. But not according to "business groups", who said:
Judges in the ECJ
The ruling means that employers must ensure that staff take off at least 11 hours between working days, and have a minimum of 1 day off a week, as well as a 20-minute rest after every 6 hours of work."
"... employees would be unable to choose to work long hours to earn more money because they would be forced to take breaks against their will."I can see the scene now - employers having to wrest reluctant employees from their desk, forcing them to take a walk, chat to loved ones or, heaven forbid, eat. I predict carnage in the office as employees take their revenge against businesses, stabbing the heartless boss who ordered him to go home, just to comply with these "Euro-crats". God, this is EU law gone made, absolutely mad*.
* Moron warning: I'm not being serious.
Cobbled together by Gavin Whenman at 11:42 am
07 September 2006
"Go back far enough, and Prime Ministers quit when Parliament sacked them. Every government from 1837 to 1874 was brought down by a parliamentary vote. That happened again in 1886 and 1895, and, much more recently, in May 1979, when Jim Callaghan lost a vote of confidence in the Commons, by 311-310 and was forced to call a general election. Before that, the last Prime Minister forced out of office in that way was Ramsay MacDonald in 1924...Not necessarily. A defeat on a motion of confidence does not automatically trigger a general election, it is just that has been the convention in recent times. A House of Commons Library Standard Note clarifies the matter:
James Callaghan, the last PM to
be defeated on a confidence motion
"In 1993, John Major lost control of the Conservative Party, and lost an important vote in the House of Commons. He immediately tabled a motion of confidence in his own government, defying the Commons to sack him. But sacking him would have triggered a general election in which a lot of Conservative MPs would have lost their seats. So the whole Tory party rallied to the government. Similarly, if David Cameron tabled a vote of no confidence in the Labour government, every Labour MP would rally to Tony Blair."
"... a Government that has been defeated on a confidence motion can either decide to resign or the Prime Minister can request the dissolution of Parliament."So, the Commons could express it's lack of confidence in the Government, the Government would have to resign and a new Prime Minister could be sent for by the Queen. Who this would be in the present case is up for debate - perhaps Tony Blair stays on as a caretaker Prime Minister whilst the Labour Party selects a new leader?
* The BBC News website is entering its third glorious day of front page coverage. I suspect even a nuclear war might be knocked down to a secondary headline.
Cobbled together by Gavin Whenman at 11:00 am
06 September 2006
The LibDems have today officially launched their Taking Power online conference, which will discuss the Power Report and how to revitalise our democracy, getting more people involved in the process.
Speaking at the conference's launch, LibDem leader Sir Menzies Campbell said:
"60% of young people stayed away from the ballot box in polling day last year. For them, the prospect of voting for their local MP, or playing a part in choosing the next government was clearly not a real priority.As The Times might say, Join the Debate here.
This is a serious problem. It threatens the very legitimacy of our political system – because if you do not vote when you are young, you may never develop the habit of voting at all. And with successive generations turning there back on conventional politics in ever greater numbers, our participatory democracy is beginning to lack participants."
- The 2009 Project, which aims to get all 13 million voters under the age of 35 to pledge to take part in the next general election.
"So we can't just celebrate the benefits of globalisation. We must also be honest about its costs, because the alternative is that people project their fears and anxieties on to other ethnic groups or other countries."
for his chin
It's almost as if he has a focus group set up telling him what they least expect a Tory leader to say.
Cobbled together by Gavin Whenman at 11:24 am
04 September 2006
Now take a look at the flash animation on the Conservative website, captured here:
Are the two now working more closely to put forward a joint message to separate electorates, or has one been copying the other*?
* Or is it just a massive coincidence.
Cobbled together by Gavin Whenman at 11:29 am
03 September 2006
"We need to cut our politicians some slack - recognising they should be free to live their lives in common with those they represent. In return, politicians need to get real - their job is not to act as miracle-workers, but to enable us to make the best of our own lives as we wish to live them. That way, we’ll not only get the politicians we deserve; we might just end up with the society we deserve as well."
Cobbled together by Gavin Whenman at 7:39 pm
01 September 2006
"If we are not prepared to predict and intervene far more early then there are children who are growing up - in families which we know are dysfunctional - and the kids a few years down the line are going to be a menace to society and actually a threat to themselves."
... there was a "pretty good chance" children of teenage mothers who were not in stable relationships would grow up in a "difficult set of circumstances" and develop behavioural problems.At first glance, you can't fault his logic. After all those born to teenage mums on low-incomes in inner city areas who stay with the father for a short period of time are bound to be a menace to society.
Except they're not. And the reason I know this is because I'm one of them. I'm in the second year of a law degree at a respectable university - although maybe we've misunderstood Mr Blair, after all, lawyers are a menace to society and he should know, he's one of them too.
Cobbled together by Gavin Whenman at 7:40 pm
At a news conference in Devon with Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper, Mr Cameron said climate change was the biggest challenge facing the world and politicians had to work together. Binding targets on cutting carbon emissions every year from now until 2050 would take that issue out of politics he argued, "Then you can really ask politicians what are you going to do to achieve those targets".
Cobbled together by Gavin Whenman at 2:32 pm