Friday, June 30, 2006

Vox Pops Part XI

(BBC Online)
For when I have a very busy day.

Josephine Rooney

I don't doubt that she is sincere, or that she has a real sense of moral outrage, whether misplaced or otherwsie. But quite frankly there are other ways of making your voice heard. Petitions, consistent lobbying (which no doubt she has done), protest marches, even standing for election! Put simply, this is a democracy and there are simple ways and means of making a point.

Antony and Cleopatra

Liz invited me and several others off the cuff a couple of days ago, to see Antony and Cleopatra with her at the Globe Theatre (and I nearly met Lola and Dunadan along the way). Will blog on this this evening, or tomorrow when I have time.

(JAJ's Blog)

Those two Parliamentary by-elections

Obviously not the best of news to wake up to this morning, although things were not so rosy for the other main parties either. David Cameron is not so trendy as he appears, it seems. Plus the Liberal Democrats, for all their negative campaigning, failed to take the seat.
As for Labour. Well obviously we will need to work at our fractured relationship with Blaenau Gwent, and we will need to deal with the fact that, in Bromley, we came from second to fourth place.
BTW Kerron, taking his cue from his new twin ;), has an interesting story about this photo immediatley above. Very much worth a read.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Farewell Harriet

Further to my last posting on her, I am sorry to report that she died last week!

Le Divorce

(Press Association)

One of these subjects which, even after some thought and when it comes to writing, I still find that my thoughts are jumbled and I am not sure how to unscamble them for this blog, but unscamble them I must, so here goes.
Put basically, the Archbishop of Canterbury has stated that the Anglican Church should be split into different sections in order to try and resolve the issue of homosexuality in the Church.
I wish I could disagree with him, but I can't see any other realistic way that this issue can be dealt with head on without the usual fudge, compromise, and the causing of hurt and distress to all concerned. The Anglican Communion (for whom I have warm regards because, whilst I am a nonconformist, I owe a lot in my growth and spirituality to their presence) should be the Church Millitant. Challenging us all, Christian and otherwise, for the lifestyles we live with regards to wealth and greed and D.I.Y. approach to faith. Not nit picking over differences and wanting to settle points and have a fight to the death within the Church.
Some would argue that, in behaving as they do, they are following God's Will as laid down in scripture. To both Liberals and Conservatives on such a point, I say:-"Be very, very careful!" St.Paul may have taken a harsh approach to things, even in a way we don't understand and which seems to go against rhyme or reason, but he was also more gracious and forgiving than some fundamentalists have been. If the Corinthians existed today, I wonder if those same fundamentalists would have shown the same love as St.Paul did? I suspect that they would have wanted them cast out into the outer darkness. What is it St Paul says in Chapter 13 of that 1st letter he wrote to Corinth:

If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don't have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but don't have love, I am nothing. 3 If I dole out all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but don't have love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love is patient and is kind; love doesn't envy. Love doesn't brag, is not proud, 5 doesn't behave itself inappropriately, doesn't seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; 6 doesn't rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages, they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when that which is complete has come, then that which is partial will be done away with. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, and love remain—these three. The greatest of these is love.

It worries me that I see very little of that in the current row in the Anglican Church.
I really don't see it going anywhere, if both sides are so determined to follow their dictates that they believe that they are following God's Will without listening to others. This is not to slam everything they do, but rather a plea that they listen.
Because I think the whole issue here is not about homosexual/heterosexual priests or male/female priests etc.. I think this is more of an issue of fear of God and how we understand scripture (Of course some on the fundamentalist side are being downright homophobic, because there was less talk of a split when some Bishops in the last forty years questioned the divinity of Christ, or when some disagreed about the nature of the cruxifiction). I remember once chatting over coffee with a friend of mine who is Christian, and a practising lesbian and we ended up having one of those conversations where we ended up talking about nearly everything about Life, the Universe, and Everything, and she pointed out that the reason some get wound up about the sexuality issue is because the fundamentalists fear that if they give ground there, what will they have to question next? They are frightened that their whole theological outlook will crumble down!
I disagree with the fundamentalist outlook there, although, speaking as an Evangelical I can see their thinking, but God is bigger and better than that.
But it means that the Anglican communion, and maybe all of us, should, without fear, gently challenge our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ about how we view scripture, how we come to the theological positions that we do, and be open to what each side has to offer. One of the great moments in my life was when I had the oppurtunity to have a brief chat with the Archbishop of Canterbury at Greenbelt a couple of years ago. You know the "If you found yourself in a lift with so and so, what would you ask them?" Well I met him (not in a lift, but in the market area) and got to ask my two questions.
One of them was how, as Archbishop, he could deal with the mass divides that are growing within the Church? He replied that he felt that they should be made to talk to each other and to keep talking. Admittedly my second question was who his favourite Simpsons character is?
Apparently it's Homer, because he is so human! ;)
But such is the clamour at present, and the desire from the extremists on each side to deal ruthlessly with the other, that I feel that the Archbishop's current suggestion is the right one!
But I ask that they don't view each other with malace and that they work at their fractured relationships.

Cross, Labourshire. Twinned with Dale, Conservativeshire

Iain Dale has quoted from my interview with Kerron.
Thing is, Iain is convinced that Kerron is his opposite no in the Labour Party (I can see what he means, there are some similarities in their blogging style), but I was slightly saddened to see that I got it wrong! ;)
Expect the Manxman from Watford to set up a political bookshop and edit "Little Book of Tory Sleaze" before too long ;)

Rupert has spoken

(Associated Press)
Unlike many on the left I don't see Rupert Murdoch as the devil incarnate, although I do question and get concerned about some of the influence he has over British, American, and Australian politics.
And yesterday evening was no exception when he suggested what I suspected could happen, i.e. that his newspapers could be supporting the Conservatives at the next general election.
You can just see some Sun columnists (not least former Sun Editor, Kelvin Mackenzie) just straining at the leash to put forward a pro Conservative message, and it doesn't help when Murdoch mentions when he thinks Gordon Brown should call an election (i.e. eighteen months after he becomes PM).
Well time will tell won't it! So long as Labour sticks to it's principles, consistently seeks to engage and rengage with voters, and works to implement those policies that make us ready to ask for a fouth term, then we have hope.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Exam Results

My sister got a 2/1 in History today, and her boyfriend a 2/1 in Criminology.
It is what I expected, although she was nervous, and I am very proud of her as always! :-)
Commiserations to readers who may be Uni students and who did not do so well!

Blair and Brown

(Press Association)
I don't know why this is news as such. I know people (particually the Conservatives and Lib Dems) are delirious with delight at the thought of Charles Clarke being the Sir Geoffrey Howe of the Blair govt, but there are differences.

1) Howe made his speech in the Commons at the culmination of a fortnight of heavy intrigue about who was going to challenge Thatcher

2)Thatcher gave no real indication when she would go, there was no single consistent obvious candidate to replace her within the Cabinet over her eleven years in office.

In any case, Margaret Beckett is stating the obvious. Everyone within the Labour Party (except for a few malcontents) and every supporter, wants a smooth transfer of power and to have a new and ready Labour Prime Minister to take on Cameron and his trendyshuffling at the next general election.

Lords Speaker

(BBC Online)

I have always held the House of Lords in admiration (their style of doing things etc.. ), but for the fact that it needs to be more representative of the people.
That said there is a very minor piece of reform that is currently taking place, and that is the election of "Lords Speaker", replacing the role of the Lord Chancellor.
This is something I have agreed with for a long time, as the Lord Chancellor is also, at present, head of the Judicary and a member of the Cabinet. This can lead to all sorts of problems, perceived or otherwise.
So hopefully, with the current Lord Chancellor retiring his office from the role of head of the Judicary, and relinquishing the post of Lords Speaker, things will get somewhat ironed out.
There are nine candidates competing for the post. They are (as mentioned on the BBC Website):

  • Lord Boston of Faversham, a crossbencher and former MP and minister
  • Lord Elton, a former Conservative government minister
  • Baroness Fookes, Conservative peer and former Commons deputy speaker
  • Lord Grenfell, the chairman of the Lords European Union Committee
  • Baroness Hayman, former Labour MP and minister
  • Countess of Mar, independent peer who has been a deputy chairman of committees since 1997
  • Lord Redesdale, Liberal Democrat frontbench spokesman and scion of the Mitford family
  • Lord Richard, former Labour Leader of the Lords
  • Viscount Ullswater, a Conservative peer and a current deputy chairman of committees.

I have only heard of four of these people - Elton, Hayman, Mar, and Richard and would be happy if any of them got the post. But I know a bit more about Lord Richard than the others and see him as ideal, so if I were a Peer I think I would vote for him.

Will keep you posted on developments

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Kerron Interview: Complete with links!

At last. Managed to paste Kerron's copy, put it over the old one and it is all there, nothing missing! :)

Deaths on Everest

(Associated Press)
This is a difficult subject to blog about, as the ethics here can be so blurred that it is sometimes difficult to know what is the right thing to do.
Put basically, if you are a mountain climber and you have just summited Everest, and on your way down you come across a climber who is incapacitated, in that he or she is hallucinating and therefore dying, as well as lacking in oxygen. Do you leave that person or try and arrange a rescue?
My own instinctive gut reaction is to say that a rescue must be attempted, but it is not so simple. Beyond 26,000 ft you are in what is known as the Death Zone. The high altitude meaning that your body is slowly deteriorating. If you are up that high, with or without oxygen, it is best not to hang around, rather just do what you have set out to do and get off the higher reaches as soon as possible. That in itself makes any rescue difficult.
And the sheer height and altitude has caused a lot of deaths on Everest in itself. If Mallory and Irvine went missing on an alpine mountain in 1924, then there probably would have been a rescue attempt and they would probably, if found alive (given that Mallory fell to his death) lived to an old age. As it was, I suspect that their determination to reach the summit, or at least to get as high as possible, was a direct factor in their deaths. Another incident which showed the problems faced in such an inhospitable enviroment happened in late September 1975, when Chris Bonnington commanded a team of mountainners to be the first to summit Everest from the South West Face. They succeeded, only on the second summit bid one of the team, Mick Burke, was lagging behind. He didn't summit with the others (Peter Boardman and a Sherpa) and he bumped into them on their way back down. The conditions were developing into a whiteout and Burke felt he could reach the summit and back on his own in time. Boardman and the Sherpa stayed where they were to wait for him as planned, suffice to say the whiteout conditions developed into a blizzard, Burke failed to show up on time and Boardman had to make the agonising decision whether to wait further and put his and the sherpa's lives at risk, or to head off back to Camp 6. He prevaricated, then made the agonising choice to go back, only reaching Camp 6 just in time before darkness fell. The storm lasted another two days making a rescue attempt impossible and sealing Burke's fate if he wasn't dead already (which was likely).
But on the flip side of the coin, as it were, Lincoln Hall was rescued by a fellow climber, Dan Mazur, after he was abandoned by his team because he was clearly deteriorating. It makes one briefly wonder if the expedition leader who ordered Hall's abandonment, Alexander Abramov, has had any sleepless nights lately.
So what can one draw from this. Well I think it's an individuals moral and ethical duty to help a fellow climber in distress, unless it is clearly and absolutely beyond doubt that to do so would swiftly endanger other lives beyond doubt. Apparently a no of climbers get abandoned on Everest and one can't help but wonder if a rescue for some of them was feasible!

At last!

(BBC Online)
Claire Curtis Thomas calls for a restriction on the sale of lads mags
Three things spring to mind here.

1) It will be interesting to see which fellow male bloggers mention this and what they think!

2) If nothing else they appear to be more boring than tittilating. Maybe it's just me, but I find hints and sophistication more sexy than basic so-called humour

3)Didn't a particular senior politician in his aim to get trendy and down with the kids have an interview with GQ magazine some weeks ago! And yet I didn't hear as much spluttering from Tories about that, compared to his appearing on Jonathan Ross, and that impertinent question Ross asked him which involved self abuse and Margaret Thatcher! But of course, the exploitation of your average skimpy clad model is different isn't it!

C'est la vie!

Free Upgrades

Whilst using some spare time this afternoon, checking my e-mails, reading other people's blogs, updating my own and bemoaning my suddenattack of writer's block, I get a call on my mobile.
It's from my phone company asking if I want a free upgrade. I refused and immediately after the call I felt a slight tension as this image came to mind.


I clearly need to get out more.

Cally's Kitchen on Wah Wah Diaries

Worth a read!

Favourite Labour Blogger - The Result

Further to the Poll put forward on Mike Ion's site. Councillor Bob Piper won with about 32% and I was around 7th place with about 5% of the vote.
Many thanks to those who voted for me. I got into the Top Ten, so that's something.

Rowling to kill off two characters in final Harry Potter book!

I have a suspicion it will be Harry (because his fate seems to be linked with Voldermort) and Ron Weasley, because a while ago, a friend of my sister's came up with a really good theory as to why, except I've just about forgotten it.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Wind that Shakes the Barley!

I have yet to see the film, but I have been somewhat intrigued by the negative criticism of the film.
I suspect some of it is simply because a) Ken Loach directed it and b)It is about the IRA during the Irish struggle for independence, so some put two and two together and come up with c) that it must therefore glamourise the IRA.
But does it! I have read a variety of reviews on this film and apparently the IRA are not seen as saints. That they are seen in the film as guilty of some abuses themselves. It also, which some commentators conveniently ignore, show the atrocities committed by the Black and Tans. This is a factor in the Irish War of Independence which is an undeniable fact, and one which brings shame on our UK history.
So I think, given the chance, I will see the film, but whilst I am no fan of Ken Loach's politics, and hold no truck whatsoever with the IRA (speaking in part as someone whose Dad worked in London during some of their worst bombing campaigns there), I think that some of the attacks on this film are somewhat unfair. Particually when some, like Simon Heffer, have admitted that they haven't seen the film.
And whilst it has flashed across my mind, I totally agree with this comment from The Poor Mouth

Sunday, June 25, 2006

England 1 Ecuador 0

(BBC Online)
I suspected we would win, but did hold my breath a few times.
That said, they still play sloppy during the middle of the game, but they are imporving, they are improving! :)
Will I do a live blog for the Quarter Finals? We will see! ;)

Spitting Image

Am looking forward to a documentary tonight about the former satirical programme
Like just about everyone else, I was a bit of a fan at the time, and fully enjoyed it's unremitting savagery against it's targets, the fact that I was a teenager at the time, feeling angry about the things that went on, and seeing S.I. as a voice for how I felt (perhaps in the same way many baby boomers felt about That Was The Week That Was or Beyond the Fringe) helped enormously.
And it is missed, although by the time it finished in 1996 it had run out of steam, it is still remembered for some of it's sharp edges. Personal favourites of mine include John Major and some of his cabinet colleagues going into a cellar under a pub at night and not being able to find any barrels, taps, etc.., having arranged a Party there. Or Ronald Reagan running with Duracel batteries against three elderly soviet leaders (Brezhnev, Andropov, and Chernenko )who used ordinary batteries, and a couple which are mentioned in Wikipedia's entry on S.I. :

Geoffrey Howe and Leon Brittan are standing at the men's urinal in a single sex toilet and Margaret Thatcher walks in and goes to the toilet next to them standing up. After she leaves Howe turns to Brittan and confides: "I can never go when she's in here."


Margaret Thatcher and her Cabinet are in a restaurant. After Thatcher proclaims "Steak, I'll have the steak", the waitress asks: "And what about the vegetables?", to which Thatcher replied: "Oh, they'll have the same as me."

and one which might be topical at the moment!:

England football manager Graham Taylor giving a team talk to his players, with Paul Gascoigne being given instructions to "create space, get into a good position – next to the photographer" with further tactics involving alcohol and Page 3 girls to follow. Gary Lineker, befitting his conversely clean-cut image of the time, is accused of being unprofessional when he says he wants to do some laps and weights before getting an early night prior to the game.

Anyway watch it if you can. It's on just after 10PM on ITV.

Doctor Who - Love and Monsters and Fear Her!

Missed Love and Monsters last week, being at a friends party, although I caught it on BBC 3 on Friday. I also got to see Fear Her last night.
Both were fairly unique in their way. "Love and Monsters" almost didn't feature the Doctor and Rose at all, and was more of a touching love story with elements of black humour. I recommend it and, without mentioning any spoilers I think it is fair to say that the hero of this story, Elton Pope, ends up in a fairly unique relationship.
And check out Lisa Rullsenberg and Tim Roll-Pickering's comments on this episode. I am also greatful to them that they did not issue spoilers, but mentioned enough to whet my appetite.
As for "Fear Her", well it wasn't the most scary this season so-far. Well not for me anyway, my vote goes to Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel and esp The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit, but it was a good story nonetheless, and an intriging moment from the Doctor when he casually mentions something from his past which should not be a surprise to Who fans, but which is a gem nonetheless and one which Rose picks up on before the Doctor swiftly changes the subject. You wonder if he experienced a mega traumatic experience before he set off on his travels!
And without mentioning any spoilers whatsoever, there was another tense moment at the end of Friday's episode of The West Wing and a sad one at that. I would love to say more, but one or two bloggers are wanting to wait for the DVD release and if I let slip anything I fear for my personal safety! ;)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

First Anniversary Post: Margaret Thatcher, breasts, favourite alcoholic beverages, next Labour Leader, and West Lothian Question

A handful of a title, but the various subjects on which I have been asked to blog on for Mars Hill's first anniversary.
As there has been no majority suggestion, I will try and do one blog on all of the above, only right now I am kind of mulling over whether to make it into all one subject or as a series of short subjects?
Oh heck, I will just make it into one subject.

(Press Association)
There is a strong dislike on many of the left (and even among One Nation Conservatives) towards Margaret Thatcher. This is understandable given her aggressive assault on all on the Unions, the economy, and, put basically, anyone and anything that stood in her way. Perhaps given the loathing many in the Conservative Party feel about Tony Blair, they may get some idea of the depth of feeling many Labour people felt towards Margaret Thatcher (Conservative readers and Thatcher affindos please note, I am talking purely about emotions there, not policy or rationale). Loved and loathed in equal measure it is not for nothing that the late President Mitterand of France said of her that she has the eyes of Marilyn Monroe and the mouth of Caligula.
But, to paraphrase Shakespeare in reverse, I have been asked not to bury Thatcher, but to praise her. Bit difficult perhaps, but not when you realise that she was not the worst British politician we have had, or even the worst Prime Minister of the Twentieth Century (For various reasons I have less of an opinion of David Lloyd George, and Neville Chamberlain for all his well meaning platitutes, was not exactly helpful as Britain approached it's finest hour).
So, to put the question in another perspective, what do I like about her? Well she came from Grantham (as did my maternal Grandad, who incidentally used to help deliver groceries to a certain Alderman Roberts), she helped develop the first soft frozen ice cream when she was a research chemist, she has a lovely daughter called Carol, and beat the odds to get to the top of her political party. She is tenatious, determined, resourceful, and tough. Qualities that are needed in a senior politician. She also sometimes reminds me of my paternal gran, who was a member of the Conservative Party, and I got on well with Grandma). In fact, on the one or two times I have found myself completely agreeing with Thatcher, I can see (as I have found with Tony Benn on the rare occasion I have completely agreed with him) why her supporters hold her in such high esteem.
I think she was right about the Falklands War, and the First Gulf War, and whilst I disagree with her monetarist aims, she had a role in ending Keynesian orthodoxy, although whilst her supporters would welcome that as a route to privatising almost everything in sight, I would argue that, whilst I dearly wish it happened another way, it gave those of us on the very centre to rethink our approach to economics, in particular inflation and unemployment, and to redefine Kenynesianism. A problem that Callaghan noticed, but only too late!
In face she is almost seen as an Iconic figure, almost to the extreme of being seen by some as a Madonna. Although personally I liked her better in Evita and didn't think much of her book sex, which I thought had a bit too much, well, er.. sex in it!

All those bums and breasts, too graphic I suspect as to be boring. Those old forties and fifties movies, much more stylised!
But the golden era of Hollywood was something in itself wasn't it! If there was anything they were pornographic about it was smoking! All those film noir moments with people lighting up for each other. But then I am one of those who doesn't smoke and is not a fan of smoking. I do drink on occasion though, although not much as I am not keen on the strong taste. But some I do like, such as red wine (particually French and South African), Kilkenny Beer, DarkStar (discovered courtesy of Neil Harding), as well as smirnoff ice. Favourite tipple! Possibly whisky and lemonade or whisky and soda, as I don't like drinking spirits neat.
Of course whisky has a particular Scottish feel to it! Maybe it's the iconic tuff like Loch Lomond (as immortalised by Captain Haddock in the Tintin books), but then again I have a love of things Scottish. Perhaps it is because I have ancestry from my mothers' side. The Heitons, who were allegedly accused by Sir Walter Scott of being noveau riche. But I like Scotland. I like the tartan, the countryside, the history, the accents, Edinburgh, the Western Isles etc.. In fact I like Scotland so much I want the next Prime Minister to be Scottish.
No, not Menzies, the other guy, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

(BBC Online)
Well I am lying a bit here. The bit about wanting Gordon to be the next PM and Labour Leader because he is Scottish. I want Gordon to be the next PM because he does a sterling job (no pun intended ;) ) managing the economy, has done much to help with regards to fighting third world debt and has the experience, in opposition and in government, as well as the expertise, to lead our country into a fourth general election.
Of course some argue against Gordon becoming PM. Either it's personal dislike, or fear, or ideological differences, or the simple fact he is Scottish, thus raising the West Lothian Question. I don't think that this in itself is a barrier for Scottish MP's in Westminster seeking high office (In any case the Conservatives, the main critics here, have very few MP's representing Scottish constituencies in Westminster), but the West Lothian Question does raise some pertinent and legitmate causes of concern. This has been redressed for now by lowering the amount of MP's from Scotland in Westminster, but something more definite needs to be done.
The main, and indeed simplistic answer is to have devolution in England, whether that is to bring forward regional assemblies (although that seems to be unpopular) or an English Parliament! In any case time will tell how this question will be resolved and resolved it will be. Our unwritten constitution may take time to develop, but rarely leaves untidy loose ends. My own personal view is that an English Parliament, with deference to Westminster, is feasible, but that is up to popular consent and I don't see much of that and the mainpoint of our legislative assemblies in this country is that they serve Queen and Country.
Phew! Think I will be a bit frivolus and blog on Doctor Who next time. ;)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Earliest Political Memory

Feeling inspired by Iain Dale's piece on this subject, I was just wondering what your earliest political memory is.
As for me, this is what I posted on his blog:

Born 1975.
Shortly before my family moved to Oxfordshire in June 1979, I have this blurred memory of seeing the 5:40 news after Ivor the Engine and seeing piled rubbish in an area. I have an uncomfortable feeling with hindsight that I was seeing a news item about the Winter of Discontent.First definite memory, newswise, would have been Prince Charles's first marriage. I definetly remember the Falklands, and my earliest political memory (aside from finding out at the age of seven that Parliament was where people shouted at each other and behaved in an immature way) was the 1983 general election. I remember telling my paternal gran (who was a member of the Conservative Party), that I wanted Margaret Thatcher to win because Michael Foot looked like a horrible old man.Thankfully however, by the time of the 1987 general election I was a bit more aware and wanted the Tories out (because they caused unemployment)and wanted the SDP/Liberal alliance to win (because they seemed reasonable and hadn't had a chance since the First World War).I got it right by 1992, or should I say left ;)

Incidentally, this post has brought back more memories, such as when the Queen's bedroom got broken into and Indira Gandhi getting shot, as well as the shock of realising just how long ago these events were..
Anyway, am interested to know what your memories are! ;)

Private Eye Part III

(Private Eye)
As I mentioned before, I am a big fan of Private Eye magazine, and buy at just about every fortnight.
And this edition is a particular gem, although I don't think the cover is so good (I still think one of the best is the first ever one I brought, the one with David Mellor and his family and in-laws posing for the cameras)
So what do I like about this edition! Well the Street of Shame articles are good. I thought the Jonathan Aitken spoof diary was cruel, but the joke in it about Aspinall and Goldsmith was good, although I would have involved Aspinall's zoo in the bit about the Emperor Bokassa wanting something to eat had I drafted it. Or maybe for legal reasons I might not have, in any case (ahem) we all know what a kind and lovely person Aspinall was and his zoo was one of the best in the land! The bit about Freddie Forsyth and Charles Haughey is an eye opener and I hope it isn't true because, whilst I strongly disagree with Forsyth at the best of times, I have some respect for him.
And the Premiers**ts, Yobettes, and Gary Bloke cartoons are a joy as ever.

Top of the Pops RIP

(BBC Online)
Over the years some great childhood institutions have lost their way and ended up axed by the BBC. One thinks of Play School (a pre school favourite of mine), Record Breakers, Rentaghost (although when you see Andy Reed MP's Westminster office, you do wonder if it did finish ;) ), Jim'll Fix It (if there was any honour or award I coverted it was a Jim'll Fix It badge), even Doctor Who had a long hiatus.
So with inevitable sadness that I found out the other day that Top of the Pops is to be axed after forty-two years.
Although I felt it had lost it's way (I came to that conclusion circa 1992, when it did to many dance and rave songs and featured too many boy bands for my liking and not enough guitar based bands. By University I had stopped watching it altogether), I retained a residual fondness of the show and, like a middle aged man who finds that a children's annual he has not read since he was ten is about to be sold at a jumble sale, I would rather it didn't go.
But I suppose times have moved on. We now have our favourite digital and radio stations and our music channels, we can, and have, lived without TOTP. But what those of us who were dismayed to see it go resent, is the end of another part of our past.
And yes, I am unhappy to see this go as well.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

First Anniversary

As some of you may or may not know, Saturday will be the first anniversary of the start of my blog.
Of course, like all things that start, Mars Hill was somewhat different than it is today. Tiny readership, no Bloggers4Labour involvement, sporadic postings. Then slowly, bit by bit it grew.
So what did I mention this time last year. Well you can find it all here, suffice to say I did a review of The Girl in the Cafe, was looking forward to the Live 8 concerts, made an attack on Zimbabwe's so-called government, sneered at the Crazy Frog tune, mentioned my involvement with a Make Poverty History vigil, and attacked Henry Kissinger in such a way, that I doubt I will ever be invited to a Bilderberg Group meeting.
Am happy and proud of my blog, and for those who have stuck with me and my rants for a year (or at least six months), I thankyou and assume from that that I must be doing something right.
To celebrate though, I am asking for two things. One for you to tell me what your favourite blog posting of mine was (and I will add a link to the one with the most in favour). The other is to ask for your suggestions on what you want me to blog on during the weekend. At the moment the suggestions seem a little, well.. Suffice to say I am open to all comments and ideas.
Incidentally, last year I asked for captions with regards to the Live Aid photo on the left. Being a relative unknown at the time, none were forthcoming, so if you can think of something witty now, that would be great! ;)

(Associated Press)

Charles Kennedy - The Hamlet of the Liberal Democrats?

Recently Charles Kennedy has been bemoaning his enforced departure and says that he could yet be leader, and yet denying that he is rocking the boat for Sir Menzes Campbell!
Reminds me of Clement Attlee's comments to Harold Laski during the 1945 general election campaign.
The fact remains that, as squalid as the way Kennedy was treated, his alcoholism did not help and to try and make a full comeback now will be damaging for him on a personal, as well as a political level. For that reason I suggest as a piece of free advice, irrespective of party politics, that he should spend at least a year taking stock of his situation and spending time with his family before he decides what is the right thing to do. Charles Kennedy is a talented man and it is saddening to see him be his own worst enemy. Not as bad a situation perhaps as George Brown's, but sad enough nonetheless!

Going On a Diet!

Recently I braved myself to go before that bathroom oracle, which can make you feel happy or depressed - The scales!
It decreed, even after checking twice, that I was thirteen stone.
I feared this would happen. Lately my stomach has been expanding in a way I find embarrasing, and I have noticed a hint of double chin in the mirror. Gone are the days I had, up until the age of twenty-five, when I could eat anything and everything and not put on weight. My metabolism has been wreaking smug vengance.
Well no it hasn't quite! It's my fault for being a greedy guts and having a liking for too many snacks (usually the wrong things such as biscuits, chocolate, crisps, lots of fizzzy drinks etc..). In fact, if I still went on a semi regular pilgrimage to McDonald's (which just about ended after watching Super Size Me), the situation might be worse.
I wonder if I should be bothered, after all I am not bothered about anyone else's weight (unless they are definetly over twenty stone and then I seriously worry for their health), so why do I get mildly depressed about any sign of weight on me? If anything I should be greatful that I don't look as I did at eighteen, which was that of someone who looked like they were stranded on a desert island or a hostage just released after several months or years of incarceration.
Well there is my health I suppose. I don't eat enough healthy food and am awareof the fact that, now I am thirty, I should really be taking more care of myself. I still remember that night a few years ago, waking up with an extremely bad attack of indigestion only weeks after seeing a documentary about Richard Beckinsale, and convinced I was having a heart attack (there have been cases of people being rushed to hospital with severe indigestion, under the belief that they are having a heart attack, and believe me it is no laughing matter).
Am I being a bit over anxious? Well perhaps, but it is no bad thing to be concerned about your health and to lose a bit of weight, so (inspired by Lola's blogging on losing weight) what I intend to do is lose a few pounds (until I am near twelve stone), and keep you posted on my progress. That will give me a sense of responsibility and it will give you a bit of boredom, I mean entertainment!

Longest Day

In case anyone has forgotten, yesterday was the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.
It certainly felt strange going down the garden to check on a few things at 10:30 last night and not needing a torch, and even more strange to remember when I did an early shift around this time of year some years back, and getting up at 3:45AM and not needing to switch any lights on.

New Abortion Limits

(BBC Online)
I totally agree with Cardinal Murphy O'Connor's comments, and my views on abortion have been mentioned before on this blog. Put basically, if a child can survive outside the womb at twenty-twenty-two weeks, then why should it be aborted!
I would expand on this, but I have to go into work shortly, but I welcome your views with regard to a discussion on this.

Transcribing Interviews Part II

Apologies first of all to B4L readers, if they find a couple of repeated edited blog entries on their 6PM e-mail that don't seem to make sense. I was trying to edit Kerron's interview, and keep all the links, without it looking untidy and at the same time, sentences and links going missing in the attempt. For some reason Blogspot won't let me do that, so after numerous attempts and battles of wits against my computer I have had to keep it in the original draft and at the same time ditch the links. I have put some of them in italics though, so if you are intrigued enough, you can search for them on his blog, and anything else in the interview that you may find of interest.
And personal apologies to Kerron, although you have ended up with three plugs for your blog within thirty-six hours on this site, so it's not all bad! ;)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Transcribing Interviews

I don't know whether it is blogspot playing up at the same time, but following Skuds advice and rearranging the links and format on my interview with Kerron has caused no end of problems. No sooner do I tidy everything up, than several of the links come undone, or some of the interview goes missing. It's like that Greek myth of pushing a stone up a hill, only to see it fall back down. So rather than waste my time getting annoyed, I have brought it back to how it was originally and suggest that for now, future interviewees don't leave any links on their answers.
A bit harsh I know, but just trying to keep everyone happy (which is probably how I got into this mess! :( )

Saddam Hussein and the Death Penalty

(Associated Press)

I agree that Saddam Hussein was a vile and evil despot. I am glad to see that he was toppled, I am glad to see him on trial and being made to face up to his crimes, but I strongly disagree with him being given the death penalty. If nothing else it will make a martyr out of him, and life-long imprisonment (which, it could be argued, is more cruel) will certainly force him to fully face the consequences of his actions over a long period of time.

England 2 Sweden 2

(BBC Online)
Was hooked by the game and we played better than usual, although we seemed to get sloppy after the first half, but within twenty minutes we picked up again. A pity we relaxed a bit in the last two minutes though and thereby allowed Sweden another goal :(! That said we are on top of our block heading for the last sixteen :).
As for Owen! Sad, but I don't think we can do much worse without him, the England squad cannot rely on one player alone.
And to cap it all, I listened to ABBA whilst tidying the kitchen last night, although some songs (The Winner Takes It All, The Name of the Game), seemed a bit close for comfort ;).

Women Bishops Part III

(BBC Online)
Further to my previous two postings on this subject, it's worth pointing out that, in the US, the Episcopal Church there has elected Katherine Jefferts Schori as it's first leader by a narrow vote of 95-93.
This is only to be expected, considering the fact that the Episcopal Church in North America has women bishops, that it was only a matter of time before one of them was elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA.
But it is not going to be helpful in the problems the church is facing worldwide. They are already difficulties over the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, although that is another story.
What do I think about this? Well the same as I do over the current problems in the Church of England, which I will metion shortly. I feel a bit torn, on one hand I almost wish the americans hadn't elected Schori, because it will rock the boat and could cause all sorts of problems. Whereas I happen to agree with the idea of women priests (although there was a time when I didn't), as I regard it as Biblical and morally right. That said, if I were a Roman Catholic, or a High Church Anglican/Episcopalian I would probably think differently on this, as my ideas on what defines the priesthood in general would be different. The question over Schori's election is not whether it is the popular or trendy thing to do, it is whether it is the right thing to do? Those who elected her believe it was the right thing to do, because, believe me, it would be easy not to, if only to have a relatively quiet life.
As for the Episcopal Church in the UK (otherwise known as the Anglican Church, or the Church of England), there is a debate at the moment as to whether to elect women as Bishops. Again, this is inevitable if women are already ordained priests. What I do find slightly distressing though, is that some Roman Catholics have called for a break in relations with the Anglican Communion if that happens, or rather a more frosty relationship.
I can understand why many feel that way. To take their view, the liberal wing of the C of E is behaving like a wiful petulant child, wanting things that, in their understanding, goes against 2,000 years of history, apparently refusing to consider their feelings and hurts over this issue, i.e. what's the point of continuing?
And because I once shared their views on this I can empathise, as some who are against women priests or bishops are not being sexist, rather there is the symbolism of the Church and who fits into what criteria that is being disrupted in their eyes. They would argue that there are female saints and female doctors in the Church, and yes, there is also the Virgin Mary.
But I urge the Roman Catholic Church not to freeze relations. I cannot see it as being helpful at all and we have much to learn from each other. Speaking as a Methodist, we have women priests and bishops (or rather ministers and chairs of districts), and yet we have fairly good relations with both the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches.
Another aspect of this is that there are aggressive minorities within both the liberal and evangelical wings of the Church, who are keen to whip up this issue in order to enforce a few points and settle a few scores against various groups. We must not let them because they want the anglican community to split and make their own stamp on the Episcopal Church worldwide, and if nothing else such behaviour is a long way from how Jesus Christ behaves.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Secular Aggresiveness

Norm's blog entry on Madeline Bunting's article in The Guardian. Made me cheer somewhat

Women Bishops Part II

(BBC Online)
Given that this is in the fringes of the news again, I was going to blog on this this morning, however work and general busyness make that unfeasible, suffice to say I hope to do a post on it this evening and my general views can be found here

Mr Blue Sky

That song by The E.L.O. seems to be going around a bit lately.
Lisa Rullsenberg mentioned it yesterday on her blog, I was flicking through the TV channels when I got home yesterday and saw it played on the film version of The Magic Roundabout, during a dream sequence that Dougal had! Plus it was used on last Saturday's episode of Doctor Who (BTW I have yet to see that episode, so no spoilers)
Given that it is a favourite song of mine I feel somewhat spoilt! :)
And yes, I was annoyed that it was only in the trailers and accompanying album for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and not in the film itself.

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part I: Kerron Cross

(The Voice of the Delectable Left)
Kerron Cross was born in 1977 and was educated at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge (Known as Anglia Polytechnic University at the time). He works as a Research Assistant for Andy Reed MP and for the past year has run a blog known as Kerron Cross - The Voice of the Delctable Left:

What made you decide to start blogging?

I had an election blog during (and in the run up to) the 2005 General Election. It was hosted by our local Labour Party and is still online I think at - not the catchiest web address in the world to remember! That blog was a million miles away from the Delectable Left stuff though – it was simply a record of what I was doing on a day by day basis as a local councillor and Parliamentary Candidate in SW Herts. Although it had a bit of a cult following, in truth it was more than slightly worthy/dull and too specialised for anyone other than my political opponents to check it that regularly. Following the end of the General Election campaign – and the unsurprising fact that Labour didn’t win SW Herts! – I made the difficult decision to pack the site up. I did have a few people wanting me to keep writing and it had given me a taste to do something a bit different. Having seen your blog at Mars Hill I realised it would be quite easy – and more importantly – free(!) to set up a blogspot blog. That was this time last year, and the rest as they say is history. I have always said that The Voice of the Delectable Left doesn’t try to be Panorama and take itself too seriously – it’s just my (hopefully) witty take on life and things as I see it. For example you are as likely to get a post about Right Said Fred or David Hasselhoff as you are politics – and I think people like that for some strange reason!

What is your best blogging experience?

They are all good really, but I guess meeting new people via your site is the best thing. That sounds incredibly sad, but there is a diverse blogging community out there to engage with. Aside from that I’d have to say the best thing is when you have started a running joke, or broken a story no-one else has thought of. That is what makes your site different, gives it its individual charm and gets people coming back. Some of the running jokes, like the one about David Cameron being my evil twin seem to have taken on a life of their own! And I’m still impressed that I got Sadiq Khan to change his blog pic and helped Right Said Fred to reform. ;-)

And your worst?

Apart from Blogspot being notoriously unreliable, I could say being put on E-bay for 25p by a fellow blogger when I was single and attracting no bids but in truth I’ve been very lucky. The style of my site is that the posts are not meant to offend anyone or anything like that so I’ve not really attracted any controversy. In fact in the last year I’ve only removed one post from the site – and that is when I ill-advisedly posted up pictures of my then long-term partner cheating on me when she was in France. It wasn’t offensive or overly bitter, it was just that I couldn’t bring myself to stare those pictures in the face every day I looked at my blog. The only person I tend to upset is myself! For info, the person in question is no longer my partner.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

I don’t know what other people would think my best entry was, but for me it’s the stuff that still makes me laugh now. I like the early stuff most maybe the I Slow Down For Badgers post or Me and the Tory Leadership fairly typical self effacing humour and it’s stuff that I still refer back to in some of my current blog posts. The observations till stand up a year on. I hope. I know something people also like are the ongoing stories concerning my work colleagues – Travis, Dave and James. Fortunately they seem relatively happy with their cameos on the site.

Favourite blogs?

I have a few that I regularly read. Mars Hill and Barry’s Beef, because they are entertaining, but also where I get most frequent mentions/abuse; Recess Monkey for my scoops – although unfortunately it seems to have tailed off a bit in recent weeks and most of the other Labour blogs, Lisa Rullsenberg, Lola and Pootergeek should probably get mentions at this point. I would say Tom Watson but any attempt to open his site normally causes my computer to crash. In truth I try and read all blogs from all sides. Even the Tory ones. If it makes you laugh, that’s good to my mind. And let’s face it listening to Tories is bound to make you laugh sooner or later. I’d recommend Iain Dale for humour and Guido Fawkes for scoops.

What inspired you to go into politics?

I presume by the question you mean why did I decide to stand for elected office – because I think most of us are interested or aware of very basic politics from an early age. For me I grew up in the 1980s in the middle of ultra-Conservative Hertfordshire. I never knew anything but Tory Government till 1997 – although you could argue that I was around between 1977 and 1979 under Callaghan, I have to admit to be more bothered with rusks than elections at that point! Needless to say, coming from a fairly poor family in a very affluent area, the Thatcher years more than left a mark on my political beliefs. On becoming a councillor, I guess I kind of fell into it. I had been involved in leading social action and community work at my church – you know, getting pot-holes fixed, setting up recycling schemes, litter collection and graffiti clear ups and so on. From there I was asked to stand for the Parish Council – which was non party political – as an environmental campaigner and then after a failed attempt to get on the District Council where I lived, I was invited to stand for Labour in nearby South Oxhey. All in all, I’ve been a councillor 5 and a half years now – and I stood for Parliament in my home constituency (SW Herts) in the 2005 election. It’s all steam-rollered from there really. Although having worked for an MP for 7 and a half years helps, I suppose!

Why do you take such a dislike of the Lib Dems?

I thought you may ask something along these lines, it’s something I’ve become almost famous for. The truth is that I find the Lib Dems campaigning style deeply disingenuous, nasty, deliberately misleading, personal and venal. Having been on the receiving end of it, I thought it was a one-off, but then you realise that not only is the behaviour widespread it’s actually condoned and sent out as standard practise by the party. Every election is a “two-horse race” where “only we can win here”. The ubiquitous bar chart, which is not to scale. Where if no statistics actually support that “only a Lib Dem can win here” so “don’t waste your vote on the Labour/Conservative candidate” then their “private poll shows” that “only we can win here”. They say anything to anyone on the doorstep – whatever you want to hear. Different policies for different parts of the country – even though any policies they do have are kept deliberately low-key or vague. But the most annoying thing is the piety of their spokespeople saying that they “hate ya boo politics”, and “mudslinging” and the behaviour of the other 2 parties. My problem is not so much their negative campaigning, it’s then that they pretend that they do not negatively campaign. The Lib Dem strategy seems to play well with voters in by-elections when voters are looking for a protest vote, but it is also why are they are thoroughly hated by the other 2 parties – more than the Tories and Labour probably hate each other. I mean for me, I can disagree with a Tory fundamentally on everything but still respect them as a person and as a politician, but I can’t say the same for most Lib Dems I know. Which reminds me of one of my favourite Lib Dem lines: “Don’t vote for a politician, vote for a Lib Dem” – what does that mean? Thoroughly horrible and nasty party that deserves to be revealed to the public for what it is.

How does it feel to be the "Father of the Commons Research Assistants"?

Erm, again, this is one of those funny little “facts” that has sprung up about me, I don’t think it’s true by the way, but it’s a good myth to have as political myths go. I have been around for a good few years, but I have never been Special Advisor to Stafford Cripps – as has been suggested – or sat in on Clem Attlee’s Cabinet meetings. I’m proud to have been involved for so long promoting Labour values in parliament and serving people in Loughborough, as well as having a little policy input. Actually I think there must be longer serving Tories here than me – although it’s not a bad title to hold, it does make you feel that your life is slipping away from you somehow! In all seriousness, I do know one guy who has been here longer than me (by one month) and he suffers terrible depression – perhaps that says it all really!

Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?

I’ve always said that I’d like to visit Canada, New Zealand and Ireland. I know which of those is more likely! Being half Manx (that’s where the name comes from incidentally) I do love the quiet island life, lovely scenery and slow pace of things. Places where everyone seems far more relaxed and laid back…and polite!

Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?

Well, when we were younger, we never had the money to travel, so I’ve only been abroad a handful of times. Although it’s not really abroad, I would say the Isle of Man. It’s like a home from home and I go back every year to see relatives. I absolutely love it and would recommend it to anyone who wants to get away from it all – although I can’t guarantee good weather, I’m afraid! Apart from that, I quite liked Menorca when I went a couple of years ago – people were friendly and the weather was good. Very peaceful.

Who, excluding the present leader and Prime Minister, do you regard as the best British Prime Minister, and if different, the best Labour leader?

Tough question. I’ve only really known Blair, Thatcher and Major – so if I can’t have Blair, I’m not about to pick one of the other two. So I guess Clem Attlee, for introducing the NHS (for starters),which is no mean achievement. If I was going to be cheeky/provocative, I’d say the best Prime Minister will be the next one – Gordon Brown. ;-)

Which Christian figure has been your greatest inspiration

It sounds cheesy, but it’s people who have encouraged me along my own personal journey through life. So I’d pick Brian Plumridge, who used to run the youth group at my first church – Fuller Hall (Brethren) and my boss, Andy Reed MP. Although being from different ends of the political spectrum both have been great roll models about how to treat other people and about how to make a difference in the lives of others – without making a song and dance about it. Either than saying Jesus, I have to say I never really look to “identify” with Biblical or historical figures – although I did get to play St Peter in a recent theatrical production, so by rights I should say him.

Favourite Bond movie?

Goldeneye. Fantastic movie, the funniest of all the Bond movies made. More comedy than action, and brilliantly pitched, in my opinion. That’s how I prefer my Bond movies. The follow up was probably more action and very little comedy, it was a great disappointment. But not as disappointing as the Timothy Dalton years, obviously.

Favorite Doctor Who?

Well, I grew up watching the Jon Pertwee and Peter Davison ones, so I guess they were my favourites growing up. Thought the Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann years were awful, never watched it. Chris Eccleston was amazing when they brought Dr Who back and David Tennant has followed it up with a very different but also very entertaining Doctor. I suppose on reflection, I’d pick Eccleston because he made the part watchable again and it was wonderful Satruday night viewing for all the family. Without Eccleston, we wouldn’t have David Tennant, so that’s my reasoning – although I like both of them.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Are we talking ice cream? Vanilla I guess – it’s boring, steady but ultimately rewarding – which is like me! Love Haagen Daas though – Baileys flavour was nice, why don’t they make it anymore? I usually resort to the cheesecake ones now. It’s a hard life.

Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?

I love Beautiful South and Barenaked Ladies, but as I’ve seen them in concert many times over, I’ll say Crowded House. Wish I’d seen them at their early 90s peak – I think Neil Finn is very under-rated as a musician and song-writer, love his work and would love to meet him. So I’ll say him. However, another person I find inspirational is Mike Nesmith from 60s TV band The Monkees – his solo work is wonderful, so I’d recommend people give his music a try, especially the early post-Monkees stuff. Saw him (and the other Monkees) at Wembley Arena in 1997 – Nesmith was brilliant. “Rio”, which was a number one in the year I was born 1977, remains my favourite song – it’s on the “Peter’s Friends” soundtrack if people want to listen to it.

In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics..?

I was at Uni for 3 years in Cambridge – at the Poly, and I spent 2 years on and off in Leicester. I suppose given my continuing links with Leicester, I’ll say Barsby – but I’ve never been, and probably am unlikely to ever go to it!

Favourite national newspaper?

The Guardian. I’m convinced they do things to upset me. I read most papers online, but in our house we get paper versions of The Sun, The Telegraph and The Daily Mail – which probably seems very odd for a dyed in the wool Socialist, but I always like to know what the opposition is saying!

What would you say your hobbies were?

Football, sport, supporting Watford FC, acting, writing and possibly even my girlfriend at times! ;-)

And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books
(Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?

Songs often change. At the moment, it’s Rio by Mike Nesmith, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out – the Neil Finn and Johnny Marr live version and Tapioca Tundra by The Monkees – a song you hate at first but the more the listen the more you love – although I can’t believe I’ve picked a list without Old Red Eyes Is Back by Beautiful South, so maybe I’ll say that as my third choice instead. I’m not big on books, but I probably read more Shakespeare and Bible than anything else! I guess Things Can Only Get Better by John O’Farrell, even though he was quite terse with me, mind you, he does write for The Guardian! Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby. And The Importance of Being Earnest – technically a play but the best book I own. I also like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, so I’ll mention them in passing too.

PAUL: Kerron slipped this one in himself!

What does “Kerron” actually mean?

“Kerron” comes from the Manx meaning “Dark Stranger”. I tell people it’s like “tall, dark and handsome” but more just “dark” and, er, “strange”. It’s pronounced so it rhymes with “heron” – just put a “k” at the front and you have it. Most people get it wrong, and although I’ve been called a lot of things(!), it doesn’t bother me as much as people think it does. Honest.

Some Anniversaries

(BBC Online)
Yesterday saw the thirty-sixth anniversary of Sir Edward Heath becoming Prime Minister and I noticed something mildly interesting.
Some Tories remember the date the Sainted Margaret was first elected Prime Minister, and yet yesterday, hardly any Conservative blogger mentioned Heath.
This in spite of the fact that he was, as Margaret Thatcher charitably put it last year, a pionner of monetarist policies. That he snatched victory from the jaws of defeat (Labour were expected to win that election) and helped damage the Labour Party into a tussle with the hard left which took many years to recover from. Amazing!
Still he was responsible for the Three Day Week, and many Thatcherites have a pathological loathing of him!
Anyway, as anniversaries are mentioned, I thought I ought to point out that in less than a weeks time, Mars Hill will be celebrating it's first anniversary. To celebrate, I thought that I would ask you guys what you would like me to blog about. Whatever is the majority view I will blog on the said subject.
(I have a horrible feeling I might regret this ;) )

Monday, June 19, 2006

Labour and general elections..

(BBC Online)
Enough frivolity (for now ;), suffice to say I was going to do a similar posting to Jo's yesterday. But she put the argument so well I will simply give you a link to it here, and I totally agree with her).
Brought The Guardian late this morning and saw the headline "Brown aide: we will lose next election"
Aside from the fact that this is taken out of context, the fact remains that Labour are in a difficult position (that's obvious!). But that is amazing when you consider our current economic climate, our commitment to the enviroment and International Development, and our majority in Parliament from last years' general election.
But that election last year was a warning shot across the bows. Yes we have a majority of over sixty. Yes the Conservatives have less Parliamentary seats than Labour did in the aftermath of the 1983 general election, and yes the Liberal Democrats (whilst they gained a good no of seats) failed to make much headway in terms of reaching their targets.
Then there is the popularity (admittedly lacking in policy substance, but there nonetheless) of David Cameron, and the deep sense of anger with Labour over Blair's leadership. Iraq, perceived sleaze, lack of moral judgement from the odd individual or two within the Party! There is also the plain and simple fact that Labour is now in it's ninth consecutive year of govt after winning three general elections (something that has never happened to the Party before).
On Saturday, at Jon's Party, some of us were not just being frivolous and singing songs by Queen and The Rolling Stones, one or two of us were earnestly discussing in the corner of Jon's kitchen, what happens next! Not just in terms of winning elections, but the current political culture and climate and how much needs to be changed!
My own view, is that, being in unchartered waters (not just for Labour, but also for everyone else), it is easy to get fed up, irritated, rebellious, and to lose one's nerve.
We must not and cannot do that. Cameron is not indestructible, he just happens to be slick at PR and is aware of a simple facet of truth, that political parties need to reform every so often in order to survive.
Labour need to reform too! We are no longer in the 1990's, times have moved on, and we hold the agenda, shown by the simple fact that David Cameron seems to be aping some of our ideas and style.
We must be bold, be confident, not cling to the masthead of the past, but at the same time, not panic and return to the tendency to lurch towards the hard left. Within four years, there will be a new Prime Minister, and that will likely be Gordon Brown. He has an exemplary record as Chancellor, and if recent comments he has made are anything to go by, realises that the Labour Party needs to have a Vatican II moment, in that, we do not deviate from the core truths that have propelled us, but that we need to be more accesible and open to ideas as a Party.
We are, of course, already rich in ideas and substance, and consistently consult with others outside the Party: The public services, the general public, registered charities, businesses and the like. But recently we have become sidetracked by squabbles, petty backstabbing, lack of foresight and common sense from a few individuals, shortsightedness and downright selfishness, panic, and headlines, not always from pundits who have our Party's welfare at heart. Plus in the background, there are a few ragged survivors of Labour's wilderness years; the pirates of the hard left, anxious for their day to return with a vengance.
For those who are Labour, for those who want to vote Labour again, hang on! The Party WILL reform (it is in our nature), we will embolden and move forward, not jettosing our fantastic achivements that have made Britain great over the past few years, and yet at the same time, reconnecting with the British people in the way we did at the start of our premiership, otherwise we will have the nightmare of Cameron in Downing Street, smashing our tax credit system and slashing public services.
Labour's internal reforms need paitence, perseverance, imagination, and due care. We are ready and waiting and take heart, it is coming soon! Provided that people do not lose their nerve.

Mike Ion

As I said I would, I have posted a link to Mike Ion's blog on the sidebar.
With regards to the elections, I have 6 votes so far, but it looks like Cllr Bob Piper will win under FPTP! :/

Vox Pops Part X (Being Frivolous)

(Public domain)
Further on "silly topics", a few things.


A 1963 comedy/drama/suspense film, starring Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau, and James Coburn. Caught it on TV last night. Great movie and if you haven't seen it I warmly recommend it.

(Magnum Photos)
Recording of C.S. Lewis

Ever wondered what he sounded like? Three very short recordings can be found here. He definetly lost the Belfast accent (he was an Ulsterman, but preferred to be seen as Irish as opposed to English, although that is no way indicative of his politics), but the pronounciation of some words are definetly indicative of his background.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Weekend

Originally when I thought about it, I wasn't going to blog on my weekend. Felt that I didn't have to blog on nearly everything which goes on in my life. Then I came across the somewhat pompus and pedantic Mike, Mark, and Dave, who may well be a humourless Labour activist, or a malicious Conservative/Lib Dem, and thought "Why not!"
Plus I saw Battersea Power Station against a lovely 7PM sun glow and wished I had my digital camera with me so I could show you! Instead you will have to make do with this:


I know, it's a bit ugly, but on the other side, against the evening sun, it.Well you would have had to have seen it to believe me.
So what was I doing this weekend! Well I got invited to an impromptu party of sorts by my mate Jon, who recently did a blog about living on just £5 a week. Thankfully he only did it for a week in order to make a political point about asylum seekers.
So anyway, he is hosting this party where he lives and as I have been to his parties before and have had to dash across Central London between half ten and midnight in order to catch the last train from King's Cross (a bit of a triathlon in itself), I ask if I could stay the night, which was fine so long as I brought a sleeping bag, which I duly did.
Got lost between Battersea Park and Jon's flat, but managed to get there on time, after having to go around another block because of a police and fire brigade cordon (Still haven't found out what happened there), and was the first to arrive. But the Party soon gets in full swing and I hardly know anyone there this time, bar Jon, his girlfriend Anna, Jon's flatmates, and the saintly Helen (Not Lola I hasten to add, although she is angelic! ;) ), but somehow it is one of those times where it doesn't matter and you find you get chatting with most there. Someone got out their karaoke CD's and most of us had a go, although I regret attempting Don't Stop Me Now, given Freddie Mercury's amazing vocal range.
Party finished at 3AM and I slept on one of the sofas and woke up just before 9AM feeling refreshed and relaxed. Had a wash, got dressed, watched Sunday AM (wondering if that is normal! I think not), before helping clear up and have some breakfast/lunch and heading off home.
Probably boring I know, but I haven't enjoyed myself so much in ages, and have forgotten the fun but bizzare conversations people have at parties, like my arguing with one person why having cats and dogs as households pets are useful and that he was wrong to suggest them as potential haute cuisine!
Wasn't anyone I have mentioned here, I can assure you of that! ;)

Jackie Ashley interviews Melanie Phillips

See here.
I meant to blog about this for a couple of days, but Jackie Ashley puts the whole "From Guardian to Daily Mail, and why?" so well I can't do better.

When I'm 64..

(BBC Online)
At last!Many happy returns to the Mighty Macca. :)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Burma. When Will Things Change!

(BBC Online)
It is coming up to the sixty-first birthday of Aung San Suu Kyi (on Monday), and she is still under house arrest in Burma. Recently the Burmese junta extended her detention and she has been under arrest for ten of the past seventeen years.
She advocates non violent resistance and in 1990 won a convincing victory in the free elections that year. With typical arrogance however that is not what the Burmese Junta wanted and they overturned the result and imprisoned Ms Suu Kyi.
There seems to be no end in sight with this impasse. The unlaw govt still wield power in the face of international condemnation and sanctions. It's leader, Senior General Than Shwe, a squat and brutal man who is into psychological warfare and who slams on any remote threat to his power. He is said to be superstitious and allegedly consults with astrologers.
And the economy is crippling and the poor getting poorer. But whilst some would argue that this is down to sanctions, the economy is in some ways thriving due to the tourist trade with visitors who should know better. So where is the money going?
This is almost reminscent of the Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos, the fear being that a milliant group may take over if something (such as a transfer to a democratic system) does not happen and soon.
But there may well be hope. I remember things looking bleak with regards to South Africa during the 1980s, when things looked unchangeable, the same with the Phillipines. Maybe it will be the same with Burma, but the plight of this country must not be forgotten, nor conveniently brushed away.