Sunday, April 30, 2006

Blog Links etc..

Am going to revamp my blog next week, complete with new links. Have not forgotten, although obviously I have little time to do it at the moment

Prescott and Clarke debacle

(Press Association)

I don't approve of what John Prescott did and I do feel sorry for all concerned.
But what I find a bit off is his former mistress telling all to The Mail On Sunday, one of the most vicious and personal anti-Labour tabloids in the country! Just what positive help is that going to be to her or anyone else? If she really feels like that, then why not make an official complaint! Just goes to show that Hell have no fury..
With regards to Charles Clarke, I feel that he is a bit of a fall guy in that the real problem is the Home Office culture at present and that needs a radical overhall. Something both Conservative and Labour, to varying degrees, agree with. That said I feel he should do the honourable thing.
I feel rather bad about saying that with the strong sense of Party loyalty I have, but this is more than about elections and trying to avoid scalp victories from one's opponents, this is about helping to restore public trust and taking a sincere and honest view over what has happened and that is far more important. Put basically these incidents happened on Charles Clarke's watch. If this happened anywhere else in public life he would now be in severe trouble and with all that considered I think he has no alternative but to resign!
But I equally feel that there need to be some internal reforms of the Home Office as well and I would also like to add that these are personal views at present.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

School Reunion Review (Warning Spoilers)

(bbc.co.uk/doctorwho)

Meeting old faces from the past is always an interesting experience, and it isn't the first time Doctor Who has brought back a companion from the past, or even two for that matter! But bringing back two of the most remembered companions from the Tom Baker era was going to either work or not.
I was quite pleasntly surprised and thought it was a good story. From the chilling, but languid, Mr Finch, superbly played by Anthony Head (The phrase he said at the very beginning of the episode "It's nearly time for lunch!" was enough to make my blood run cold when you could guess (accuratley as it turned out) what he was about to do!), to the rundown, but still useful K9 (I think fans felt more sad about him nearly sacrificing himself for the safety of the children than they did for Adric sacrificing himself for the whole planet) The story was a delightful combination of The Demon Headmaster meets, erm, well Doctor Who really!
It was also good to explore the human aspect of the episode, with the what's, why's and wherefore's as to the Doctor having the need for companions but not letting anyone get too close to him. A revealing bit iswhen he mentions his fear of being close to humans and outliving them, although whether this is to do with those few companions he had who were killed off or whether it is to do with him being half-human, there is no further info.
And heck, have revealed I am a fan as well! :/
Anyhow it was all good fun. A metal dog, a sophisticated villain, a few unnerving moments. Just what the Doctor ordered! ;)
Besides which, when are we going to see Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart again!

Campaigning Today

So yes it's coming into the last week, with more work done and more streets to do and more doors to knock on.
This afternoon was spent, first of all mowing the front lawn of Baldock Methodist Church, and rather quickly as the place gets used mid afternoon, followed by an intensive amount of leafleting.
One of the things you find when going leafleting or canvassing is that you find you forget the little things like "Oh yes, No x,y, and z has a letterbox in a wall!", or the pleasant smiles when you meet people, when you are bracing yourself for a barage of abuse because you are down a street with a rep for having a lot of Tory voters.
That said, now standing in this ward for a third time, you can't help but compare with what's the same and what's different.
I suppose with regards to the differences I am less naive and more cautious, and I also find I am recognised more and some people come up to me and ask if I am standing again! On a more personal level I feel a lot more serene and calm. I think I can say it now, that when I first started campaigning in 2003 I was a bag of nerves within my last week. Now I tend to be calm in all circumstances. The thing that bothered me today was that I realised I missed Tammy. During the last weekend or two in the previous times I stood in Baldock Town, she would come down to help me. She even agreed to be my partner at the count in 2003, much to her then-girlfriend's annoyance. It's not often I have had friends who were more enthusiastic about me in the things I have done, but she was one of them!
Some people are keen to give advice, whether optimistic or cynical in nature about my candidacy, but my stance is always the same with regards to standing. I do it because I think people should have the choice and I also do it because I actually believe Labour can do a very good job and can deliver the goods. I have seen it happen myself and that is what helped make me join. Not only that, but recently councils have been given greater powers and responsibilities to make our areas a cleaner place to live in. There is now increased child benefit, plus the extension of free nursery education. Those are the sort of policies which is Labour at it's best and what makes this a better place to live in.
Yes mistakes get made sometimes, yes the behaviour and stance of some is disapointing, but we try and it would be sad to see that disappear under the Tories. In North Herts (which is Conservative controlled), we have already seen a tax hike from the District Concil, the stopping of funding buses and dail-a-ride for the elderly and disabled and the increase of allotment charges by 85%. These policies are morally questionable and unfair and yet, year in, year out, they look elsewhere to try and shift the blame. Being in politics is tough and sometimes painful, but taking responsibility is a firm sign of maturity.
But anyway, it's late. I'm tired, and there are things to do!
And as you can see from the photos I have just taken, my desk needs a spring clean.















As, I suppose, do I!
(That's the first self photo I have done, where I have looked directly a the camera and did not involuntary start blinking because of the flash. Am rather pleased :) )

He's Back Tonight..

(BBC Online)
And in just a few minutes as well...
Oh heck :/, will do a review tonight in the midst of blogging about campaigns, elections, and events.

The Beyondness of Things

(Daily Telegraph)
Brought this album by John Barry yesterday. As I have stated before I am a big fan of his work and this is certainly good for the end of a long and hard day! :-)

Friday, April 28, 2006

Vox Pops Part VI

(Wikipedia.org)
For when I have a very busy day.

Campaigning in local elections

Moving things up a notch, expect more within the next three days

Anna Ford

Much missed and much appreciated!

Antarctica

Interesting article in The Guardian from Simon Jenkins. Those huts used by Scott and Shackleton (the latter being one of my all-time heroes) represent much about early Polar history that is of great importance, and they should be protected!

Labour's "Black Wednesday"!

Article by Jonathan Freedland worth reading, esp the penultimate paragraph.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

It's a New Day!

(Getty Images)
For those of us who are members of the Labour Party, or indeed are firm supporters and sympathisers, yesterday was not exactly one of joy and excitement. For various reasons many of us felt annoyed, irritated, angry, frustrated, as well as deep concern over the recent activities within the Home Office. I for one had my head in my hands more than once.
But today is a new day, and whilst we feel a bit bruised, a bit battered, rather angry at the events over the last twenty-four hours, we need to consider a few things.
First of all, the reasons why many people were drawn to Labour in the first place. When I became politically aware in my early teens, I supported Labour (after a brief dalliance with the Lib Dems or Lib/SDP Alliance as they were then), not because the Conservatives had people like Archer (although that did help), nor was it simply because of the mistakes the Conservatives made (although that helped as well). It was simply this.
I felt that the Conservatives were pursuing policies which, whilst it looked very attractive after the extremism of some trade unions in the 1970s, were, in the long run, jepoadising the economy, jepoadising people's jobs, jepoadising Britain's economic stance in the world.
I think Labour have done a great deal of good in the past nine years.The National Minimum Wage being an obvious starter. I myself benefitted from Labour when I was unemployed for a while and put on their New Deal program (and that is one of the reasons I joined the Party in 2002). Neil at Brighton Regency Labour Supporter has put Labour's stance well. Perhaps the analogy is streching a bit, and it's not quite one I would use, but the basic point is worth considering.
So is this. Throughout the UK, many Labour Councils and Councillors do a decent and hard working job in helping to make their communities a better place. That is not to say that they are the only ones that do, but the Labour Party have, I believe, the right policies to help local areas. I would be very saddened to see many of those decent and hard working people (many of whom lack national political ambition) lose their seats, to see decent Labour Groups who run various councils up and down the land lose their majority, simply because of three national political issues which they were not involved in.
I am sure that these matters will be dealt with swiftly, and for those who are thinking of staying at home or voting for anyone but Labour, please don't assume that many in the Party don't share your concerns and anxieties over such matters. They do! But there are other ways of dealing with them!
Like I said, it's a new day, so let's work to make it better with Labour!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Vox Pops Part V

For when I have a very busy day.

Fabian Society

Last night I was invited to a debate at Committee Room 12 at the House of Commons, concerning Faith in public life. It was chaired by the Fabian Society and Stephen Timms was among the panelists.
Put basically there was a broad consensus about seperation between Church and state from many at the meeting. There were some disagreements about the finer detail and the National Secular Bloke was a bit loud and aggressive. I remember making a small defence of faith schools when questions and statements were asked from the floor, and feeling slightly nervous as I did so. I was too conscious of where we were, but overall the meeting went well and it was good to see some CSM friends and regulars again, such as Jonathan Cox and Sarah Wallis.

John Prescott

It's happened, he's sorry, and it 's not really worth mentioning.
But was very suprised to hear about it!

Tom Cruise

Am I the only one who is starting to get a tad irritated every time I find an article about him, Katie Holmes, scientology, silent births etc...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Changing Faces

Via Dear Diary


I have done this test before on another website, and I came up as Paul McGann. The Hartnell Doctor came at the bottom of the list. So it just goes to show how inaccurate these tests are.
BTW Kerron has recently showed us how he looks, post beard.



I mentioned that I thought he looked a bit like Paul McGann's Doctor. Which in turn reminded me of various comments that fellow blogger, Andrew West, a.k.a. WongaBlog, bears a passing resemblance to David Tennant.



This in turn has made me wonder which blogger is the missing link?


I suggest that it is Neil Harding, aka Brighton Regency Labour Supporter, who is the blogger who looks most like Christopher Eccleston!




















Any suggestions as to which bloggers resemble other Doctors, various assistants etc.. will be welcome. But I draw the line at Daleks, Cybermen, and indeed K9 ;)


Vox Pops Part IV

For when I have a very busy day.

Pope to possibly reconsider ruling on condoms
(Hat tip to Tim Roll-Pickering)
As mentioned on the BBC Website.

(AFP)
Am rather pleased if this is true, if only because it seems like common sense. I agree that in an ideal world, abstinence is the answer and those who can, should. But such are the dangers of HIV/AIDS that I think it would be inhumane to consider otherwise.






Cameron in Norway

(Press Association)
Wanted to mention this for several days. Bit of a waste of time, and indeed energy, to make a point on carbon emissions which could and can be made back in the UK







Waste of Money
(BBC Online)
And you thought Cherie's gross spending on hair was bad!
I think Michael Howard spending £3,600 on make up and Charles Kennedy spending £2,000 on cosmetics and nearly £5,000 on suits is a bit off!
My general view on these incidents are twofold. One, if the opposition parties and Conservative supporting newspapers start throwing stones like these, they ought to be a bit careful about glass houses. Secondly I think politicians from all parties who waste large amounts of money on trivial things, as opposed to serious policy, need a bit of a wake up call!
I do admit however that I did have my hair cut at the start of this election campaign, but I spent nearly £10 and the money was my own.

Grandstand

I don't often watch it, I have better things to do on a Saturday afternoon, but the thought of entering a room with a TV at about 12:15 on a Saturday lunchtime, with the channel switched to BBC 1 and not hearing that familiar theme tune. Well it will be another bit of a simple mainstay that has lasted for most of our lives that will no longer be with us! :/


Peter Law dies

(BBC Online)
Was a bit of a shock to read just now, and was not altogether impressed with his actions last year (although I am pleased that it sort of reopened the debate on all-women shortlists), but was saddened to read of his death

Campaigning

Well the other day I helped with some of the details for the North Herts Labour Party leaflets, and was in touch with some local members in Baldock about how things are going generally.
For me, the main point of the whole campaign is to give people a decent choice. Obviously, in my own situation it would be very nice if everyone voted for me ;), but for me the choice is the most important thing.
There is, however, little choice with regards to party representation in the Baldock area. At the moment it has six councillors; three Conservative from Baldock Town, one Conservative from Arbury (Bygrave, Ashwell, Hinxworth, and Radwell amongst other villages), one Liberal Democrat from Baldock East, and one Liberal Democrat from Weston.
That means that Labour don't have a proper say over what goes on in Baldock, which means that several hundred voters opinions (and in a small town like Baldock that accounts for roughly around a quarter of those who go out and vote) don't get taken into proper account. Now that's fair enough in a way, majority rules and that kind of thing. But it's interesting when one considers that some of those elected in Baldock itself, don't hold anywhere near half the support of those eligible to vote.
This is something I regard as a growing problem and one which needs to be urgently and maturely addressed by all the main parties. All I would say at present is to those eligible to vote in our ward is to take shameless advantage of our standing. We are standing to represent your interests and concerns before anything else. We each have our own ideas and interests, but they should always be put forward in relation to what you want!
Your voice counts, don't let others use it!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Harry Wants to Fight!

I am not sure what to make of these reports! Does he say he wants to so that it looks good, does he genuinely want to...
In any case, saying that he wants to fight in Iraq isn't clever any way you look at it! It wouldn't be ideal to waste taxpayers money and resources protecting a Royal in a dangerous area, where no westerner is safe anywhere in the country, when the money and resources could be spent on other fair police and/or millitary means!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

St George's Day

Just to wish everyone a happy St George's Day (even though it is late in the evening :/) and may you slay many dragons! ;)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Via Jo:


You Are Sunrise

You enjoy living a slow, fulfilling life. You enjoy living every moment, no matter how ordinary.
You are a person of reflection and meditation. You start and end every day by looking inward.
Caring and giving, you enjoy making people happy. You're often cooking for friends or buying them gifts.
All in all, you know how to love life for what it is - not for how it should be.


Not sure about the cooking bit though!

Happy Birthday Ma'am!

(Press Association)
Admittedly it's because (as both my Grandmothers said about the Queen Mother, and they were royalists!) she doesn't wash floors, but I have to say the Queen does very well for eighty and the way things are going she will break all records.
But I also think that it's good we are celebrating because, to use a cliche and this is something I have heard even some diehard republicans mention, she is very good in her role as Head of State and has a wealth of experience going back fifty-four years, especially when you realise that her first Prime Minister was Sir Winston Churchill.
As I have said before, although I am not a Royalist, I do believe in the monarchy we have and I think the Queen exemplifies that well.
I don't think anyone will be giving her the bumps though! ;)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

My Beef With Barry!

I don't often browse on the blog Barry's Beef. I mainly know of him as a fellow reader of Kerron's blog, The Voice of the Delectable Left. I know enough about his blog that he can go for adolescent humour sometimes, but that said, this afternoon I was in Stevenage and found I had half an hour to spare, so I popped into the local library and, whilst browing on Kerron's blog, I clicked on the "Barry's Beef" link only to find this!


Access has been denied
User: -
Access to the page:http://barrysbeef.blogspot.com/... has been denied for the following reason:This page has exceeded your weighted phrase limit.You are seeing this error because what you attempted to access appears to contain, or is labeled as containing, material that is contrary to the Library's Acceptable Use Policy. If you have any queries please contact a member of staff.

I didn't think it was that bad! Clearly haven't read it for a while.

But that said, given the stuff they have had in the past, I could easily access the Recess Monkey site!

I am probably coming across as somewhat puritanical, I know, but it's not that. I am not even being judgemental as such, I am just a tad surprised!


Tory Defector to UKIP is the Head of the Freedom Association!

(Voice of the Delectable Left)

Hat tip to Kerron for mentioning this defection!
Christopher Gill was Conservative MP for Ludlow from 1987-2001. During the 2001 general election campaign, he caused outrage by refering to asylum seekers as "rats in a bucket"! William Hague felt that as he was standing down, there wasn't much he could do to disipline him, although I feel that he could have had him expelled from the Conservative Party so as to set an example, but those are the private matters of the Conservative Party.
As it is, since he stood down, he succeeded Norris McWhirter as Chairman of the Freedom Association, an ultra right-wing pressure group which had a lot of support within the Conservative Party in the late 1970s and which advocated the ending of sanctions against South Africa, and which is comprised of redoubtable figures who seem to be on the fringes of the centre-right, if that!
It will be interesting to see how many more, if any, defections take place, and it certainly says something about some of the various groupings within the Conservative Party.

The Euston Manifesto Part III



After receving assurances from PooterGeek and Andrew from Bloggers4Labour , I have now signed up to The Euston Manifesto!
Apologies to PooterGeek for giving him a theological headache in the process! ;)



    Wednesday, April 19, 2006

    Euston Manifesto Part II

    Further to my last posting on this, I finally set aside some time last night to read up on it.
    I am very much in broad agreement and feel that, whilst some of it seems like stating the obvious it needs to be said. What's more if something decent comes out that seems to be okay and gets a barrage of criticism, it means that it is timely and necessary. Esp with the disturbing rise of the far-left and far-right.
    I do have a minor problem though! Just one. And it's the last sentence on Item 15: "We stand against all claims to a total - unquestionable or unquestioning - truth"! Does this preclude belief in God? I am sure that is not what was meant, but taking the view that "God is truth" if one believes in God, as I do, it can be difficult. Unless of course what is meant by this is that "we are against the attitude of not questioning what is claimed to be absolute truth whether it is or not!" If the latter is meant, then I will happily sign the Euston Manifesto.
    I did e-mail my concerns last night, but I have,as yet, to receive a reply. That said, I get the impression from what I have seen in the Blogosphere in the last few days that they may well be deluged! :)

    Pope Benedict XVI - One Year On

    (Associated Press)

    It doesn't seem to have been that long since Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected as Pope by the College of Cardinals. As I have said before, I remember watching the announcement live and saying "Oh no!" to myself when the Cardinal Deacon mentioned his name. I had first heard of him several years before when he was mentioned as "The Pope's Rotweiler", crushing dissent wherever it lay. My main concern was not Ratzinger's convictions (I agreed with about 45% of the concerns he had that I had read about), but rather his way of dealing with it. But then how much of this is down to media hype and spin!
    What bothered me initally about his election is that it would further damage relations within the Church. But then God moves in mysterious ways!
    One year on, there is no sign of that feared purge against liberalism! If anything he seems to be rather gentle and placid, possible more so than John Paul II. True, he doesn't seem as energetic as his predecessor was at the start of his Pontificate, but then John Paul II was fifty-eight when he was elected Pope and Benedict XVI will be eighty next year, so his lack of official travelling is understandable. He has produced, what was a pleasantly welcoming encyclical, but that is about it.
    Let's just watch this space. One isn't asking Benedict to compromise his faith, or indeed his integrity, but one hopes that his Papacy is that of a watchful, but benevolent Uncle, rather than that of a stern and vicious victorian schoolmaster!

    Tuesday, April 18, 2006

    Vox Pops Part III

    (Wikipedia.org)
    Where I mention in brief what I want to blog about, as I am having a busy day...

    Election Campaign

    The other day I went to Letchworth for an hour and found out that an aquaintance, who I met recently for the first time, lives in the Ward I am standing in. As we talked about education, health, the railways, amongst other things, he pointed out that he hasn't voted in the past five years.
    He isn't someone who doesn't have time for politicians, as some who don't vote are, but rather he doesn't have the time, or is unsure of who to vote for, or it's a very busy day for him and he forgets. I don't think there is a simple answer for that, other than it's worth repeating that it's very important to vote and use your voice whether it has a major effect in itself or not. In 2003, about 29% of the people of Baldock Town voted in the council elections of that year. Just think what a difference would have been made if the other 71% had actually voted!
    But many who don't vote know this! And voter apathy is definetly a problem that needs addressing.

    Global Warming

    Apparently it is estimated that the Arctic will be ice free by 2060 at the rate it is going!
    Just what will it take for the americans to sign up to Kyoto? That said, we must all work harder to stop the spread!

    Call to cut the role of religion in schools!

    The NUT is going to be calling for this today, esp with regards to Religious education. Understandably I am very concerned about this and would point out that it is a) A mistake, considering the value of religion in public life, b) The amount of ignorance concerning the basic tenets in major religions amongst many people is, quite frankly, rather shocking! And c)It does strike me that this is a subtle form of persecution

    Lyrics

    Bono has been voted Britain's best loved lyricist with U2's song "One". It is certainly a favourite of mine, but it's good that VH1 did this poll because it seems that a lot of people don't listen to the sheer poetry that exists in some lyrics.
    BTW I saw Radiohead on VH1 do a cover version of "Nobody Does It Better" at the weekend. I certainly thought so! ;)
    Heck! Can't believe I just gave a cheesy pun there! :/

    Guardian Headline on pg 15

    "Anti-gay church hounds millitary funerals"

    Not for the first time, I despair at the fact that some Christians, or supposed Christians, seem to be reading a different gospel to others! I mean, could you easily imagine Christ organising a vicious protest of millitary funerals just because a nation that tolerates gays is at war with another country. Furthermore, could you imagine Christ and his Disciples turning up with T-Shirts proclaiming that "God Hates Fags"
    Neither can I! I certainly can't equate it to loving one's neighbour.

    Euston Manifesto

    Will be giving it an in-depth look this evening!

    Monday, April 17, 2006

    The Unacceptable Face of British Democracy!

    (Associated Press)
    I was disturbed to read that up to 25% of voters might consider voting for a "far-right party"!
    Whilst this is "very localised" at the moment, it is a fearful and growing trend, and some of it is due to anger and dissatisfaction with the main political parties.
    I have even been horrified to find, within the last year, that about two individuals in Baldock have sympathies with the BNP's aims and beliefs. For me, that's two individuals too many, supporting a vile political group.
    Most of the support for the BNP, across the country seems to come from white, working class areas, who feel let down and alienated. That said, I feel that this is a feeble excuse on their part. It's not that I don't sympathise with their concerns or predicament, but support for a far-right party who tell them that their problems are down to ethnic minorities receiving what is due to them will get them nowhere! By law, everyone should be treated equally and if they have a problem with that then they can contact the various authorities concerned, but being emotive and blaming individuals , many of whom are the vulnerable and on the margins of society is just wrong!
    But I think there is a much wider problem here that effects British democracy, which effects the way we vote and act and it is this!
    For far too long now, we have lived in a culture where we put ourselves and our own interests first and not considered what is good for the country as a whole. The maxim given by President Kennedy in his inagural speech; "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!" has, in the UK at least, been turned on it's head. We worry about our own individual rights, which is right and proper in itself, don't get me wrong, at the expense of others, which is a morally bankrupt attitude to take. When we vote for a political party, we should not just be thinking about our wallets and what we feel our country owes us, we should be thinking about those in society who are less well off and who could well benefit or suffer depending on how we vote! It was this selfless attitude that helped us during the Second World War when we were fighting hard against the people with the very policies and aims that the far right sympathise with. I tell any "patriotic" individual who may well be thinking of voting BNP in next months elections, wherever they are; "Your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents would be ashamed of you and what you are doing is putting all the hard work they put into helping defend this country in vain". What's more, many people in this country who support the BNP, clearly feel they are doing something immoral, because when the BBC interviewed several people in Barking yesterday evening, some would say on camera that we have "Too many immigrants...", but would not dare say that they supported the BNP. How spineless!
    So what can be done to fight this intrusion into decent democracy! Well, it will take a long while, but first of all, all politicians should help re-engage with the electorate. Many do so already, but there are some careerists who do as little work as possible, regarding leafleting and canvassing as beneath them. They have a moral duty to help. Many MP's, staffers, and councillors, need more active help and support and the jobs they do!
    Secondly, we should listen to the electorate more and not be afraid to tell individual voters when they are wrong. They may not vote for you or the candidate you support, but they will respect you for being honest.
    Thirdly, those of us who are in the main political parties, need to work together in a loose coalition whenever and wherever there is a BNP candidate in their area. For example, they could issue a Jt leaflet explaining why no one should vote BNP and mention briefly what differences there are between themselves, but what makes them better at representing their area than a far-right candidate(s) offering simple and brutal solutions to complex problems. Democracy is too important to allow extremist candidates take advantage of main party political arguments.
    Fourthly, we need to focus more on the deprived and poor areas in this country and work together to help rebuild them and to give the people who live there help, support, and some self-respect. Many feel marginalised and left-out of society and we need to do more to help them than just write them off as a pack of ignorant chavs, which some people who should know better seem to do!
    Fifthly. People like Billy Bragg are right on these issues! (apart from the bit about the BNP and Proportional Representation and duffing people up!) We need to reclaim our national identity and not let it get hijacked by the far-right. The UK has a history of multi-culturalism and variety in it's history. Britian has never been static in it's traditions, and that needs to be respected and encouraged.

    I admit that this in itself is simplistic, but we need to make a start and make major efforts to work at dealing with these complex issues. It will take a long time, mistakes will be made, but we need to start reengaging now, or else we will wake up and find that the enemy has entered the house while we were sleeping.

    The Easter Weekend

    A bit busy. Helped with some stuff for the May elections and put forward some of the issues affecting the local area, had one of my cousins come round for the day on Saturday, saw Doctor Who (which was a good first episode, but am looking forward to the one with K9!), missed the documentary about the various cinematic versions of Christ :(, and attended a quiet Easter Sunday service at Church, which had Communion, as well as Easter eggs being distributed to members of the congregation.
    Now I am a bit of a glutton for chocolate so that was just putting temptation in my path!
    In any case, today is going to be a bit busy in itself!
    Ah well, no rest for a Bank holiday weekend! ;)

    Friday, April 14, 2006

    Good Friday and Manchester Passion

    (wikipedia.org)
    Good Friday service was interesting today. Being a Churches Together event we had representatives from most of the churches in Baldock and it mainly comprised of hymns and readings, with a cross in the centre of the church, which had the symbols of a crown of thorns, a purple robe, a whip, some nails, and some small crosses made of nails. There was no blessing or prayers at the end and it was mainly a medatitive service.
    I also heard today that the Manchester Passion Play will be on BBC 2 this evening. It will be given a contemporary setting and will also be set to contemporary music, inc The Smiths and Joy Division.
    Should be rather interesting to watch!

    David Lloyd George

    (BBC Wales Online)
    Late last night I caught a documentary on the former British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George on BBC 4. Presented by Huw Edwards, it said that there needed to be a rehabilitation of Lloyd George's reputation!
    I disagree. To reverse the style of the documentary, I will start by briefly conceeding that he helped bring forward some important reforms., such as helping to disestablish the Church of England in Wales, temperance reforms, attacked the use of concentration camps in the Boer War, introduced old age pensions, unemployment benefit, and aid for the sick and infirm. He helped form the Ministry of Health and started reform of the House of Lords.
    But David Lloyd George was not the only one who supported these aims and his involvement in the Campbell-Bannerman and Asquith governments were not that of a one-man-band. In many respects, David Lloyd George was a wrecker extraordinare.
    For a start, there was his lack of promotion under Gladstone, and then Rosebery, because they had heard rumours (largely true) of financial corruption and womanising. There was the fact that he was a pacifist until the start of World War I. Then there was his manovering to replace Asquith, which split and permanently damaged the Liberal Party, he helped bring the Black and Tans into Ireland, he also helped sell honours for cash in an open and cynical fashion. His main ally being a shady Whitehall civil servant and rogue spy, Arthur Maundy Gregory. When a former Labour MP, Victor Grayson, accused Lloyd George of the sale of honours, he added that his chief salesman was "a monocled dandy with offices in Whitehall.." He was beaten up in the Strand shortly afterwards, and when he continued to criticise the sale of honours, threatening to name Gregory, he disappeared in suspicious circumstances (curiously enough, that was not mentioned in the documentary).
    As it was, the rumours of selling honours became so widespread that within two years, the coalition Lloyd George headed broke up, and he was defeated in the ensuing general election. Lloyd George never received high office again. Partly I think because, when the Liberals had the oppurtunity to go into coalition with the National Government of 1931, Ramsay MacDonald and Stanley Baldwin (esp Baldwin) had such a moral and political and personal dislike of the man.
    But if that wasn't enough, Lloyd George embarrassed himself, his dignity, and his supporters further. In 1936 he accepted an invitation from Hitler to visit Germany, and Lloyd George went under the mistaken view that he could pacify Hitler. He returned, making some favourable comments about the dictator.
    Many of Lloyd George's fans are people who talk about his mistakes as if he was some benevolent old relative who sometimes had lapses of judgement which,if not said is hinted, should not affect our view of him. I tend to think that causing one's family major distress over one's womanising, oppurtunistic politicking over a long period of time, corruption and cynicism over selling honours that may or may not have ended in someone's murder, sending in a gang of terrorist thugs to restore order in a troubled nation, and sucking up to a vicious dictator who was likely to be one of the most vile men of the Twentieth Century, are not exactly lapses of judgement. To lionise him in the way some do, does no honour to a profession which is already sneered at and unjustly attacked per se by many who regard those of us involved as corrupt and I would certainly consider him as among the Top Three worst Prime Ministers of the last 100 years.

    Thursday, April 13, 2006

    Euston Manifesto

    (wikipedia.org)
    Today has seen a no of blog entries from NormBlog, B4L, PooterGeek, WongaBlog, and Jo (amongst others) about this.
    Jo isn't keen about it, feeling that it isn't Labour-Centric enough, whereas the others warmly endorse it.
    As for me, I am witholding full judgement until I have had a good, long look at it, which is a bit too time-consuming at present, suffice to say that a quick skim through read has shown me that what I have read, I like. Especially these points, which I think are important and timely:
    ------------------------------------------------
    T2) No apology for tyranny.We decline to make excuses for, to indulgently "understand", reactionary regimes and movements for which democracy is a hated enemy — regimes that oppress their own peoples and movements that aspire to do so. We draw a firm line between ourselves and those left-liberal voices today quick to offer an apologetic explanation for such political forces.

    3) Human rights for all.We hold the fundamental human rights codified in the Universal Declaration to be precisely universal, and binding on all states and political movements, indeed on everyone. Violations of these rights are equally to be condemned whoever is responsible for them and regardless of cultural context. We reject the double standards with which much self-proclaimed progressive opinion now operates, finding lesser (though all too real) violations of human rights which are closer to home, or are the responsibility of certain disfavoured governments, more deplorable than other violations that are flagrantly worse. We reject, also, the cultural relativist view according to which these basic human rights are not appropriate for certain nations or peoples
    .
    -----------------------------------------
    That said, I am wary of such a cross consensus of the left, as I am opposed to some "libetarian/left" patterns of belief as I am towards some attitudes and beliefs in the "conservative/right".
    Watch this space though! ;)
    BTW I wasn't able to upload the Euston logo, so I settled for the US Declaration of Independence! ;)

    Twenty Tracks

    (wikipedia.org)
    Via Grammar Puss:

    1) A track from your early childhood

    Just the Way You Are by Billy Joel

    2) A track that you associate with your first love

    Hmm! First love or first infactuation? First love would be an early nineties song, but I won't mention it because it might well give away who it was and my love was unrequited :/

    3) A track that reminds you of a holiday trip

    I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers. I first heard it on the way back from Niagra Falls in Canada. Great song!

    4) A track you like but wouldn't want to be associated with in public

    Do you honestly think I would mention it here!

    5) A track that accompanied you when you were lovesick

    Two spring to mind. Kiss Me by Sixpence None the Richer, another is a hit song from the late nineties, but I don't know the title of the song or who did it!

    6) The track you have listened to most often

    There are a lot of songs I listen to often, so I don't know

    7) A track that is your favourite instrumental

    Not sure. Possibly Venus from the Planet's Suite by Holst

    8) A track that represents one of your favourite bands

    How about We Are the Champions by Queen

    9) A track which best represents yourself

    Ooh, now that's a bit of a loaded question. I will leave that for others to decide

    10) A track which reminds you of a special person

    Well several songs remind me of several friends. With regards to the two friends of mine who have died. A couple of songs on Eric Clapton's Unplugged album remind me of Simon, because he had that album, and Hey Jude by The Beatles reminds me of Tammy, because that was a favourite song of hers.

    11) A track to which you can relax

    I agree with Grammar Puss about Mama Cass singing Dream a Little Dream of Me. I also like some of John Barry's instrumentals

    12) A track that stands for a really good time in your life

    Definetly "Things Can Only Get Better" by D:Ream. Do I need to explain why! ;)

    13) A track that is currently your favourite

    I did like Will Young's latest song, and I am not even a Will Young fan. Who Are You by The Who is good to tidy a kitchen to

    14) A track that you'd dedicate to your best friend

    Okay I have two best friends. So one is English Tea by Paul McCartney, the other is All Right Now (Live) by Queen and Paul Rodgers

    15) A track that you like especially for its lyrics

    I like a lot of songs for their lyrics, but When Love Comes To Town by U2 and B.B. King is a good one

    16) A track that no one likes but you

    Does such a track exist. I was derided at school and college for my love of Queen, but they have a very large fanbase

    17) A track that you like that's neither English nor German


    There is this European mediterranian song which is popular and rather of the lounge jazz variety, but I don't know it's name. It gets played a lot though. It kinda goes, la di da di dadidadida, if that helps at all :/

    18) The track that best lets you release tension

    "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by The Rolling Stones

    19) A track you want to be played at your funeral

    In My Life by The Beatles, as well as something in bad taste for when the coffin disappears from view ;).

    20) A track that you'd nominate for "Best Track of All Time"

    I wouldn't dare nominate ;)

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    Doctor Who

    (BBC)

    As some of you probably know, I am a big fan and for those interested, he's back on Saturday! :)
    And it's about time! ;)

    Cinematic Versions of Jesus Christ

    (wikipedia.org)

    An interesting bit in next week's Radio Times, about the various screen images of Christ. Apparently this is going to be explored in a Channel 4 documentary by theologian Robert Beckford.
    He has put down eight different types of Jesus, represented on the screen.

    The Rock Opera Jesus - See Jesus Christ Superstar

    The Marxist Jesus - See The Gospel According to St Matthew

    The Evangelical Jesus - See the Jesus film

    The Hollywood Jesus - See The Greatest Story Ever Told (That's the one with John Wayne as the Centurion at the foot of the Cross)

    The Official Jesus - See Jesus of Nazareth (The one with Robert Powell and a favourite of mine)

    The Not-the-Messiah Jesus - See Life of Brian (and he wasn't even called Jesus, he was called Brian Cohen, who was mistaken by many as the genuine article and who was a very naughty boy)

    The All-Too-Human Jesus - See The Last Temptation of Christ

    The Fundamentalist Jesus - See The Passion of the Christ (Which was not anti-semitic, or indeed as provocative as was stated! Very violent though, and you have got to hand it to them for doing the dialogue in the original aramaic and latin!)

    One of the things that comes to my mind, and does bother me when looking at all of this, is that we all have a habit of making Christ in our own image. We also tend to read the Bible on face value, or read it to suit our own agendas. For example, many point to the violence in the Old Testament, whereas one could also point to The Good Samaritan in the New Testament, or indeed the Psalms in the Old Testament. All complex and thought provoking nonetheless, but what is the crux of my faith is not whether Jesus was marxist or fundamentalist in the way some in the US believe, it is the fact that I believe that two-thousand years ago, God in human form decided that he would take the rap for all the bad things you and I have done. Whether we accept that is another matter, and then one goes into the realms of theological debate, but that is what I simply but firmly believe, whether you find it offensive or not!

    Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    In Famous Footsteps

    Yesterday I met up with Liz in London, and on her mentioning that, despite living in the City for most of her life, she had not seen everything there, I took her to see Abbey Road Studios.
    Then I realised that here was too good an oppurtunity to miss and she took the following photo
















    Suffice to say that I felt like a tourist, but it does feel strange to be following the footsteps of these guys.



    (EMI)

    Monday, April 10, 2006

    Gospel of Judas

    (Wikipedia.org)
    A lot has been made in the Media in the past few weeks about the lost "Gospel of Judas"! That he was given a bad light etc.. That, in the true style of sensational media, it casts new light on the Gospels!
    But does it! The document has been known about for a while and the manuscript has been dated to about between 220 and 340AD, whereas the oldest part of St John's Gospel can be dated to 125 AD.
    What few doubt is that it's a gnostic document, and therefore unlikely to shake the faith of most informed Christians. Gnosticism is popular amongst some, because it's all about elitism and "special knowledge" and the Church in the 2nd and 3rd Century had a tough time dealing with the widespread growth of gnosticism within the Church. In any case, for that reason alone, and because it doesn't correspond with mainline accounts of the life of Christ, it was not included in the New Testament.
    Besides which, Judas is not so harshly treated in the Bible anyway. He is mentioned as being sorry that he betrayed Christ, having returned the money paid to him by the Pharrisees, and is so overwhelmed with guilt that he commits suicide. If Christ is shown on the Cross, saying of his tormentors, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they are doing!", then what does that say of his attitude to Judas!
    It is interesting though, how his name is now a byword for betrayal. I once remember my friend Simon, saying that in the time of Christ, to call someone a Samaritan was to insult them and to call someone a Pharisee was a to praise them and how it is now the other way around.
    Funny things words!

    Shirley the Sleaze

    (BBC Online)

    According to The Independent; Tory tax exile, bad landlord, right-wing haridan, bully, privatisation-without-morals obsessive, makes Thatcher look like a saint, she-who-is-in-trouble-with-the-Inland-Revenue for being a swindler of taxpayers, and other things that she is which wouldn't be nice to share here, Dame Shirley Porter (I think you can guess by now that I really don't like her!) is going to be the subject of a BBC Drama.
    Apparently they will show her as a Cruella De Vil!
    That's very insulting! Who exactly it is insulting to is of course another matter.
    And for those who know nothing about her, this will make interesting reading!

    Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog

    (wikipedia.org)
    This has been advertised around the blogosphere for a while, and Skuds and PooterGeek have noted it, and my old friend Liz Evershed has waxed lyrical about it (and she is doing a Phd in Medieval and Renaissance Literature), and it is very clever and very funny, so I have added it to my links column.

    Sunday, April 09, 2006

    Palm Sunday

    (BBC Online)
    This Palm Sunday saw Baldock Methodist Church worshipping with our Anglican bretheren at St Mary's Church, Baldock.
    I had wanted to set off earlier, so as to catch the procession from Clothall Common, but events conspired against me, and those of us waiting in Church were spared the sight of Sally the Pony, who was going to make an entrance into the Church, but seemed to be tto tired to do so at the last minute.
    In any case it was a good service, although very liturgical. Nothing wrong in that, although it is something I am not altogether used to. That said, it was a good service, with the children performing a scene from the Passion.
    They also had plenty of hot cross buns with tea and coffee afterwards, and then home, when, with some time to spare, I watched a DVD of Keeping Mum, starring Rowan Atkinson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith, and Patrick Swayze. An enjoyable black comedy set in a small picturesque village of Midsomer Murders proportions, involving a shy Vicar, a frustrated housewife, a nymphomaniac seventeen year old, a sleazy golf pro, and a motherly housekeeper with homocidal tendencies!
    Suffice to say that the phrase "I'll just put the kettle on!" is now enough to rather unnerve me! ;)
    BTW I came across this photo of worshippers at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, taken earlier today. The Church is believed to be where Christ's body was buried.

    Saturday, April 08, 2006

    Reliving election nights!

    (BBC Online)
    It's my suspicion that everyone has an interest, and/or hobby, that most sane people find inherently boring. Knowing me, I suppose I have a lot of boring interests, but one of them is catching highlights of previous general election nights on BBC Parliament.
    I knew it, I can almost see the sheen go over each of your eyes as you read this, but I am as interested in elections as some people are over football results, and this morning (as BBC Parliament showed the highlights of the 1966 general election) was no exception.
    You will be pleased to know that I did not waste several hours of my life watching this (I have a life you know ;) ), but I sat and watched some of it, as I have done when they have shown highlights of some of the other general election nights.
    So why?
    Good question! Well, apart from 1997, which I saw live anyway, a lot of these election highlight programmes were before my time and it is interesting to see things from a historical perspective. As I pointed out this morning, it's the little things which interest me! The retro graphics, the lack of hindsight of what the following few years brings, seeing famous, and yet-to-be famous faces, seeing just how nice or just how vile some politicians were, the bad taste style of ties and other fashion accesories! ;)
    This morning was no exception. As yet unknown names cropped up, like David Owen, Donald Dewar, and Gwyneth Dunwoody! Seeing Peter Snow's predecessor, Robert McKenzie showing a breathtaking mind for statistics, Robin Day asking the kind of brilliantly impertinent questions which makes you realise that Paxman has inherited his mantle. The shock of seeing people smoke in the BBC Television studio, and seeing the Liberals pleased that they had gained their seats by about a third. Which is impressive until you realise that this tallys up to about twelve! ;)
    And the names! The days when you could tell what Party someone was in by their name! Of course their were exceptions, as Anthony Wedgewood Benn could tell you, but I sort of miss names like Noel Twystleton-Fyfe, or Cecily Maynard-Maxwell-Hunter! Of course, you also get names like Vladimir Munro, which give an indication to his family's politics, but there is something gently amusing about telling what party someone is in, just by seeing the name on the ballot paper! *
    That said, things have improved! The graphics for one thing, and it's a pity that Peter Snow won't be helping out at the next election. Plus the speed of data and the improvement of technology makes it more interesting, but seeing these highlights are like some history lesson or a trip down memory lane!

    *In case anyone is going to waste their time looking, I made those names up!

    Guardian Review, Pg 3

    Okay Kerron, what did you do to upset Posy Simmonds! ;)

    Friday, April 07, 2006

    Vox Pops Part II

    (wikipedia.org)

    Again, some things I have read on today that I want to mention, but for which I have no time to properly blog on:

    Trafalgar Square

    Ken Livingstone is someone whose views and attitude I find irritating from time to time (His comments over the ayatollahs, esp after his refusal to apologise to Oliver Finegold being a case in point). But, like several others, when I do agree with him, I think he has a very good point to make.
    The state of Trafalgar Square is one of them, over the past five years I have seen the state of that area vastly improve for the better. The facelift is brilliant, and part of that is by clearing off the pigeons from the main part of the Square. That will turn the clock back a bit if they are encouraged back and leave their calling cards all over the place.

    Avian Flu

    Very worrying, although I think we should just be cautious and not panic just yet. So far there only seems to be one isolated case in the UK. I think caution and common sense are the watchwords for now. I know the fears myself, as the Burgin household have some poultry and a couple of cats as well.

    Bragg Does Tour against BNP in their battlegrounds

    With his Hope, Not Hate tour! I think it's decent that he's doing this. The more eyes that are open to how proto-Nazi and vile the BNP are, the better!

    Regards

    Paul

    Monkeying Around!

    (wikipedia.org)











    I am somewhat bemused by all the recent attempts by George Galloway to out the identity of the Fake Sheik reporter, Mazher Mahmood!
    This is somewhat unfair in so far as the principle of investigative journalists need to have some degree of protection. That said, Mahmood's style of journalism as the Fake Sheikh isn't exactly investigative serious journalism! Hardly Woodward and Bernstein! Not if you look at the Countess of Wessex etc..
    That said, I have little time for people who use pseudonyms to spread gossip about people in public, when they won't do it so openly.
    So it's interesting that some of the people who was so keen to out Mahmood's identity are people who use a pseudonym themselves! People who spread gossip and make vicious and unpleasant personal attacks (even when it's true and the person is sorry), who could even be accused of petty bullying by publishing someone's phone no, and one of these gossip mongers anxious to out the Sheikh, being somewhat sensitive about his own identity being out in the open.
    As is pretty understandable!
    I am not interested in a scrap over this, but may I gently point out to the Recess Monkey gang(and others, to be fair!) that behaving like an adolescent is one thing, being oh so slightly hypocritical is something else!

    The Right Brothers Song - "Bush Was Right!"

    (wikipedia.org)

    Hat Tip to Kerron for pointing this out, although to be fair I did spot it in yesterday's Guardian.
    I can't tell whether it is meant to be ironic, or whether they are a quartet of self-righteous hicksters, but it is compelling to watch!
    That said, the tune is somewhat reminiscent of Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire! and, according to Kerron, the theme tune to Cheggers Plays Pop
    Bizzare!

    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    Clash of Opinions

    (wikipedia.org)
    Imagine you take a taxi to an airport. Imagine that the taxi driver, kind soul that he, or she, is, let's you chose the music on the way. Imagine that your favourite song is London Calling by The Clash (Not too difficult for me, as I have mentioned, it is a favourite of mine!), and imagine (not that it should matter), that you are an asian twentysomething male!
    Now imagine being arrested on your plane, just before it is about to take off, and told that the song you had played and the "overall impression" you gave, made the said taxi driver suspicious. You are questioned and released without charge, but as a result you miss your flight.
    This actually happened in Durham recently. Now I appreciate we are all a little jumpy in this day and age and for good reason, but the actions of the taxi driver strike me as a little OTT, if not somewhat petty and sinister!
    Put it this way, if this guy WAS going to commit a terrorist act, would he behave as this man did!
    Makes you wonder what would have happened if he requested Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds!

    Vox Pops


    (wikipedia.org)


    So much I want to blog on, so little spare time, so by the time I might get the chance the news might have moved on, so in short:

    Council Elections
    Obviously I will be more detailed on this at some point!

    Denis Donaldson
    Northern Ireland is tricky to write about at the best of times, suffice to say it was a brutal and barbaric murder and, as Peter Hain said, probably done to help undermine the peace process. I was also, as I suspect many others were, not surprised and that is somewhat of a sad reflection on the World we live in.
    Thing is though, I am surprised Donaldson didn't pack up and swiftly move when journalists recently tracked him down!

    Tony and Gordon
    The Lennon and McCartney of the Labour Party. They have helped revitalise the state of Britain in the past eight years and it would be better at this stage to reflect on what Labour have done with their leadership on local communities and progress, rather than see that frittered away

    Geneva Convention
    No one, as of yet, has said that it will be scrapped and if anyone does, you can be sure that I will be the first to protest. Just because the enemy doesn't abide by the rules, doesn't mean that we should lower ourselves to their savagery. That said, we can show that we mean business without resorting to barbarism.


    -------------------------------
    That's more or less it for now :-)

    Newspaper Headlines Predicted About Bird Flu + Boat Race

    Via Normal Mouth
    A good thing to make you smile first thing ;), although I think the Mirror headline should belong to the Express!

    In other news, all the recent talk about the Oxford/Cambridge boat race stirred a vague memory in my head, so I did a quick search and I found this: quote by Hugh Laurie:

    "The year was 1980, I was no. 4 in this particular encounter, and the result was a loss by Cambridge by a distance of five feet, which is something which I will carry to my grave....In fact, I shouldn't really say this, because I still to this day wouldn't want to give any pleasure or satisfaction to the opposing crew. But yes, it's true, it was a very bitter defeat." - Desert Island Discs, May 1996

    It can be found here
    http://www.hughlauriefaq.com/quotes/boatrace.html

    Wednesday, April 05, 2006

    The Candidate Part II

    I can confirm that I am once again standing for North Herts District Council in Baldock Town.
    Why again! (I stood in that Ward in 2003 and 2004) Well I was asked and I feel that Labour needs a voice in Baldock. Who will win is dependent on Polling Day, suffice to say that it will be tough, albeit enjoyable, and a good chance to present Labour's case for those willing to listen.
    There will also be four candidates this time, the Greens putting one forward, so this will defenetly be the most interesting election yet that I have contested.

    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    In Political and Christian Praise of: Martin Luther King

    (wikipedia.org)
    I have been meaning to write about Martin Luther King for a while, as he is, without doubt, one of the biggest Christian, and indeed political, influnces in the US of the Twentieth Century.
    The son of a Baptist minister, King graduated from Morehouse College, Atlanta, with a degree in Sociology. He later studied to become a pastor and gained a divinity, and then a Systematic theology degree.
    King first came to public prominence with his support for Rosa Parks, following her arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a bus for a white man. He helped to organised the Montgomery Bus Boycott which last for nearly 400 days and which ended up with the Supreme Court of the US outlawing segregation on intrastate buses.
    King then helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which advocated nonviolent protests against institutions which did not respect civil rights. This attracted some criticism, but King's take on this was rooted in his faith, and also through his admiration of Mahatma Gandhi and the successes he made with regards to nonviolent protest. It was important to get as much public support as possible, and that meant showing up the opposition for the aggressors they were.
    By and large King was succesful. 1964 saw the Civil Rights Act which gave ethnic minorities the right to vote, as well as other labour and basic civil rights. That same year, King won the Nobel Peace Prize. Much of this may have been due to the 500.000 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the previous year, where King made his I Have a Dream speech.
    King then took his attention to the widespread poverty in some major areas of the US, starting with Chicago. This made him an enemy of the corrupt Democrat Mayor, Richard Daley, although given how vile Daley could be that was no bad thing.
    King also spoke against the Vietnam War and made many affluent americans feel uncomfortable and angry when he attacked what he regarded has America's abuses at home and abroad, once stating that "True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."
    It was tragic, but almost inevitable, given the amount of enemies he made, that he was murdered in 1968 (and I have just realised that I am writing this on the anniversary of his death. How bizzare!). But ideals never die, and the ideals King held are still held and used by others, as he said on the evening before he was killed:

    "It really doesn't matter what happens now.... some began to... talk about the threats that were out -- what would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers.... Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place, but I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over, and I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And so I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

    And we still have a long way to go.

    Oi! Do You Want A Fight?

    (BBC Online)
    With the local election campaigns starting to get underway, David Cameron picks a fight with UKIP, calling them loonies and closet racists!
    Aside from the fact that it is potentially libellous (and Cameron has been given to making ill-judged outbursts lacking substance, lately), UKIP is a relatively new party made up of those from the hard right and some dissaffected Conservatives.*
    Put simply, I'm not fussed with who Cameron has a scrap with, but my free advice is that he should be a bit sure of his ground before starting a fight.

    *I would like to point out for legal reasons that, whilst there are some loony Tory grassroots who live in a bygone age and are as nasty as sin and seem to have some horrible effect on the Party, some grassroots Tories are nice people, if somewhat politically misguided and naive! ;)

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    The Boat Race

    (BBC Online)
    Was pleased to hear that Oxford won the Boat Race yesterday!
    And I thought Cambridge's excuses were a bit shallow, suffice to say that I supported Oxford, not because I went there, or because I have had friends there etc.. That easily applies to Cambridge as well. It's just that I once lived very near Oxford and that is the reason for my loyalty, as it were.
    But it did set me thinking, what if there was a boat race which was open to all Universities and Colleges in the UK. Obviously then I would be rooting for Luton, and Wardown Park would see a hub of activity on most winter and spring mornings. Admittedly Portsmouth might have an unfair advantage and (if held on the Thames, although in likelihood there would have to be several geographical locations) St Andrew's would have to travel some distance ;), plus there would probably have to be several events taking place over several weeks, but I am sure it would be a popular move once the practicalities had been sorted!
    Plus such a move might lessen some prejudices ;)

    80th birthday!

    (Press Association)























    It's a bit of a shock to realise (esp as her mother died only four years ago), but the Queen will be eighty this month!
    It is also a bit of a shock to realise that she is one of the top five longest reigning monarchs in British history and only two others (George III and Queen Victoria) have reached the age of eighty. Another British Head of State reached eighty but he was Richard Cromwell, almost totally forgotten but good for quiz evenings! :-)
    So, as part of the celebrations, a series of photographs of her, from the year of her birth to the present day, have been released on exhibition. Looking at some of them, it's a bit of a pleasant surpirse to notice just how beautiful she once was! No wonder Paul McCartney wrote a love song about her ;)!
    But before I get too cloying in the insufferable style of Roy Strong or Lord St John of Fawsley (I would like to see how they would cope on £5 per week), I feel I ought to point out that I like the Queen, not because of who she is (I am not a Republican but I am not a Royalist of the teatowel variety), or even that she was very beautiful, but rather that she is very good at what she does and knows the limits and excesses of her position well. It's not too often we get someone on the throne who is of her like, so I think an acknowledgement of her achievements is no bad thing!

    In Thespian Praise of: Sir John Mills

    (BBC Online)
    In a career spanning some seventy years, and having appeared in films as famous as In Which We Serve (1942) to Bean (1998). Sir John Mills seemed to be the quintessntial father of British film, television, and stage.
    Born in Norfolk in 1908, Mills started his acting career in 1927 at the London Hippodrome and appeared in his first film in 1932. He first got noticed in a minor role in the 1939 film Goodbye, Mr Chips and had his first major starring role in the 1946 film Great Expectations.
    Further films included Scott of the Antarctic (1948) , Ice Cold in Alex (1958) , Swiss Family Robinson (1960) , Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), Ryan's Daughter (1970) (for which he won an Oscar), The Thirty-Nine Steps (1978), Gandhi (1982) , Hamlet (1996) , and Bright Young Things (2003).
    Usually typecast as establishment figures (notably army or naval officers from World War II), or as cockney or rural figures struggling against the odds. Mills managed to combine the two styles well in Great Expectations and, like Gielgud, seemed to have a permanance about his career due to it's longevity.

    Yet Another Blog Link

    Fellow Labour activist and CSM member, Jonathan Cox, has set up a new blog for his project.
    I first knew Jonathan when he worked for Alun Michael and he now works for the Refugee Council. In his line of fearless duty, Jonathan has taken part in the Living Ghosts Endurance Challenge.
    This is a campaign to highlight the plight of failed asylum seekers who have to live on a Red Cross food parcel and just £5 a week. Since Wednesday, Jonathan has been living on £5 per week and it has been a tough time for him, although clearly not as tough as it is for real life asylum seekers who clearly have to cope with more than one week.
    Worth a look, and Jonathan, keep up the blog after you've finished as I think your experiences and thoughts are worth sharing.

    Sunday, April 02, 2006

    April Fool's Day

    (Associated Press)

    I couldn't resist. Seven Fifty AM, I sent of a text message to about a dozen friends (irrespective of Party or political interests and/or allegancies) simply saying "PM has resigned".
    True, it was a mistake to send one to a freelance journalist, but my general view was that I was not sophisticated enough with my practical jokes(unlike this blogger ;)), however within fifteen minutes one friend (not a Labour supporter) texted me back to say that everyone should throw a party. When I reminded her what day it was, she texted back her irritation, saying she was going to a wedding and how could I have done that to her.
    Another friend texted me back, rather shocked, and my brother rang me up wanting the full details. Yet another checked the news channels.
    Now none of these people are naive or dumb. It was simply a combination of, in one case, wishful hope, and in others having received the message as they were getting up. That said, I will have to be a bit more sophisticated next year.
    (Press Association/Associated Press)
    Anyways, yesterday was very busy with work and preparing for the forthcoming elections, and it was during a quiet moment at work that I browsed through a copy of the Guardian and read the article about Chris Martin.
    Now that was clever, and I started to fall for it, but the bit about not voting Labour because there would never be a windmill on No. 10 was a bit OTT