Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Ebenezer

One of the things about Facebook is that, not only do you end up getting in touch with old friends from childhood, but some dim memories come back to the forefront of your mind.
This Facebook group ignited one of those memories.
Put basically, in the late eighties/early nineties, the local schools in North Herts were in touch with each other via a computer system called the Ebenezer, or Ebby as those of us who used it called it. It was basically a primitive version of the Internet (In fact, when the Internet really took off around 1994/95, I remember seeing it as an international version of the Ebby), where schoolkids set up sites and used chatrooms etc... only, obviously, it wasn't so sophisticated looking and it was all green lettering on a black background like some form of BBC Micro computer.
But I simply remember thinking it was fantastic technology and very useful, although what my fifteen year old self would have made of the web stuff I do today, such as blogging, goodness knows!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Top Bloggers

From Iain Dale's blog.
It is worth mentioning your Top Twenty favourite political blogs and as he says, email Iain with your suggestions. The winner gets some goodies in the post :)

Mike Reid R.I.P.

(BBC Online)

I suppose there was always a possibility that he would have returned to EastEnders, but never again will Albert Square hear that familar voice go "Pat! Oh Pat!" :(

At Last...

(Getty Images)
It looks like that things may start to get back to normal in the Cotswolds a bit sooner than expected. What has been happening here has been rather close to my heart. For one thing I will be at Greenbelt in Cheltenham next month, for another I used to live in Enstone in Oxfordshire, which wasn't affected, but being slap bang in the Witney constituency is very near places that were.

Now I am not joining those who are quick to condemn David Cameron for going off to Rwanda, these things are always at the mercy of events, but what I will say is that Gordon Brown has not only visitied some of the affected areas but he also pledged more help, help which is now arriving. For those quick to defend Cameron at the enemy's lair known as CCHQ, I would respectfully ask what their spin would be if they were in government and Gordon Brown jetted off to Rwanda. Suddenly one suspects they would be less thoughtful and kind!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sight for Sore Eyes

As some of you probably know, I had to go to see my GP yesterday with what a nurse suspected was conjunctivitis. Put basically, my right eye had had some kind oinfection where the lids had swolle and I looked like I had been knocked about a bit.
Anyway it isn't conjunctivitis, but I have definetly had an eye infection, possibly caused by a stray bit of grit, or grass as I was mowing the lawn earlier this week).
So now I have to take some penicillin tablets and some eye droplets several times daily and already the result is fantastic. My eye looks almost normal and it definetly feels more clear. It's just fantastic though to look in a mirror and see what just a few waking hours can do!
But before I start praising the Health Service, it's not the same for everyone. An Uncle of mine has had to go privately to see a specialist on Tuesday with a possible blockage. If he took the NHS he would have had to wait for somewhat longer. I am not anti NHS but for some time now I have felt that the service could do with a radical overhall. At the end of the day good socialism is about caring for the vulnerable, pure and simple!

Friday, July 27, 2007

In Defence of Paul Dacre

I know, I know, this feels a bit strange for me as well...
Politics always creates unlikely treaties and allies, and so it is that the Daily Mail is being a bit more generous to Labour in government lately.
The fact that Brown is PM is no coincidence. He and Paul Dacre get along, but both do not share the same politics.
That said, according to Iain Dale, one or two of the hacks at the Mail, used to it's frequent savage onslaughts, are feeling a bit, well rather annoyed may be putting it lightly.
One danger in politics is that one can get so wrapped up in the process and the tribal wars that one sees the electorate as fodder and a means to an end. The media are just as guilty of this as the politicians, but it turns the public off, understandably not taking kindly to being treated in such a way.
What Brown and Dacre have in their relationship however is good for the political process. Dacre is not rooting for the government, he is treating it with respect. Likewise Brown may not be trying to get the Daily Mail to support Labour (although that would be rather nice), rather he wants the government to be treated as an honourable opponent, not subject to the vitriolic and personal abuse that the odd Mail journalist, and indeed a small no (I hope) of Mail readers, like to see inflicted on Labour like a baying audience in a Gladitorial arena. As far as they are concerned, the Conservatives have a God-given right to govern and they cannot tell the difference between abusing Labour and simply treating it as an opponent and if there is one trivial reason why the Conservatives should lose the next election, it is to further deprive them of that belief and make them beg for the chance to govern in the same way that Labour has to beg time and again.
So for those on both sides who want this new relationship to go, I say "look again!" Is the Daily Mail turning Labour or simply changing it's attitude!

Mars Hill Readership

My sisters' boyfriend is one of Mars Hill's avid readers and recently he gently chided me for not being so frequent on my blog postings.
Some others clearly feel the same, as lately I seem to have lost about a quarter of my readership. All I can say in defence is that I am doing other things and that I try and update my blog as often as I can, which is nearly every day. I usually blog on stories which seem unique and sometimes refrain from blogging because I feel I could be unfair in my criticisms (I don't know how long I would have lasted in the Roman Senate!)
But bear with me, as Mars Hill is updated several times a week and still has interesting things to say!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Helping Burmese Refugees

Hopefully these recomendations will put more pressure on the Burmese government to do the decent thing and resign! Hopefully.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tory Delusions

One of the nice things about politics and personalities is that you can like and respect an individual and yet totally disagree with what he or she says. For example I like and respect Tony Benn, but I think it is fair to say that I am a bit more right-wing than he is. One thing he said in the early 1980s which I disagree with (and which the facts bore out against him) was that, if only Labour was more left wing, so that they could counter the Conservatives monetaristic threat, then Labour's electoral salvation would be in sight!
But political events can sometimes repeat themselves and yesterday one saw it in two newspaper colums. One in The Times, the other in The Independent.
In The Times, William Rees-Mogg argued that last weeks by-election results were satisfactory for the Conservatives. He then stated that:

"The results of by-elections are usually very different from those of subsequent general elections.
Nevertheless, one can use the Rallings and Thrasher guide to calculate the results of a theoretical general election in which the swing of votes matched the by-elections. On that hypothesis, the Conservatives would be the largest party, with 281 seats, Labour would hold 243 seats and the Lib Dems would have 93. From the Conservative point of view that would not be a bad result, but for Labour it would be a disaster.

Being a Conservative, Rees-Mogg ignores one or two home truths. First of all, the Conservatives by-election results between 1989 and 1992 were abismal and the result for the Tories in Richmond in 1989 was nothing to crow about when one considers what the result would have been if the Owenite SDP and the Liberal Democrats weren't split from each other and at loggerheads! (Plus the Tories 79-97 period of power never won a by-election as far into power as Labour have now been in)
Secondly it would take a pretty large swing for the Lib Dems to gain thirty extra seats. There is no evidence of that swing happening as dissatisfaction with Labour is not as bad as it was for the Tories between 1992 and 1997, the last time they gained a substantial amount of seats.

Moving on to The Independent, Bruce Anderson mentions the similar fantasies the Conservative Party has over power:

"It has never been easy to lead the Tories in opposition. Tories regard themselves as the national party: the rightful British National Party. Modern Toryism combines the two great British political traditions. On the one hand, there is a belief in authority and a reverence for our glorious past: on the other, individual freedom and economic dynamism. If those are not potent ideas, why does Gordon Brown pretend to believe in them?
As the true national party, the Tory Party also regards itself as the natural party of government. Tories do not believe that any other party should be entrusted with the national interest. They could also argue that every non-Tory government after Palmerston ended in failure. Tories know they will lose an election from time to time. But defeat should be a brief respite for fresh thinking, not a 40-year schlep around the Sinai Desert. One Parliament should be enough to reinvigorate the party and persuade the country to return to its true allegiance.
Given all that, it is never easy to lead a Tory opposition. The troops are likely to blame any delay in returning to power on incompetent map-reading by the leadership. After 10 years, and during a distinct shortage of manna, nerves are strained and tempers frayed."

The admission of Conservative Party arrogance from a Conservative.
If one compares Labour in 1989 to the Conservatives today, one notes that Labour had already grounded most of their hard left into the ground, gone through some important policy changes, enjoyed better Opinion Polls, were starting to take seats from Tory no-go areas, and had only gone through three leaders. Yes there was the 1992 election, but that was the Conservatives put on Parole. By contrast, the Tories are three years or so behind, have just discussed ideas, have not dealt publicly and firmly with their problem-members (which is what they need to do if they want to win back public support), and have a no of grassroots who seem unsure of moving to the centre ground. The space that any aspiring Party for government needs to occupy. If anything thats because Labour have occupied that ground for a long time and the Tories were firmly to the right in the 1980s, thus making the centre ground an easy target for Labour. If the Conservatives hope to win, they need to totally radicalise their grassroots and not sit and wait for any possible bad things to happen. But that will put them in immense difficulty, because to succeed they need to go into a vacumn in the centre ground and that's pretty much occupied at present!

Monday, July 23, 2007

BBC Values


The past week has seen my faith in the BBC somewhat shaken, particually as it has always been my favourite media outlet. But it appears to be contrite and this is certainly an oppurtunity to go back on the straight and narrow and renew their pledge to "Educate, entertain, and inform", not try and use the distorted phrase, "give the public what they want!" Media outlets like the BBC are there and should be there to inspire people and to give quality programmes which are hard to find in a highly competitive environment. I could go on but I feel passionately about this so it might turn out into a rant, suffice to say I have defended the BBC as an institution before and I don't want to be a broken record. I just wish more people shared my views on quality broadcasting. Cultural snobbery! I hope not, but the alternative is, as we have seen, rather unedifying.

Mugabe and the Archbishop

Check out this piece I wrote on the CPF blog.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ealing Southall - Mulling Over the Coverage

Been pouring over the newspapers this morning and the consensus is that Thursday was Labour's night (obviously) and that it was a success for Gordon Brown.
Especially looked at the Conservative newspapers to gloat, I mean get an informed view of what the enemy have been thinking on this issue (actually for those who aren't so political and find such a comment a bit off, I ought to point out that it's easy to gloat when the Party you support gets abuse from said newspapers week in week out!), and the answer, esp from the vile Express was unanimous: It's all David Cameron's fault!
So I think we have a taste there of how the Tories will behave, at least the right of the Conservative Party, should they lose the next election. They will resort to their time honoured tradition of backstabbing, or rather frontstabbing the leader, thus making David Cameron the sixth Tory leader in forty-four years to face an internal battle aimed against his position and authority. The problem for Cameron though is that he is trying to pretend to be a Centerist politician when the middle ground has been succesfully inhabited by Labour for years. So in order to survive as leader he will have to do a William Hague and do what his grassroots tell him only to face losing another general election. It's an awful Catch 22 but one which the Conservatives fell into so easily some twenty years ago when British politics were polarised and they assumed that electoral endorsement meant the public endorsed most of their more right-wing values and aims!

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Good Night

(Photos: Press Association)
Admittedly the majority for Labour was a bit down, but that is only to be expected during a Third Term, but for the middle of a Third Term we did well. Parliamentary majority in both seats were respectable and the Conservatives are in third place in both seats.

One can't help but feel a little sorry for David Cameron though, because he put his reputation on the line in Ealing Southall, but it has also shown that the electorate are not buying his PR brand of Conservatism. It's also a ringing endorsement for Gordon Brown. I can't recall Major having this kind of boost after becoming PM, in spite of the 1992 general election!

So it's a sping in the step for Labour today :)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Boris Johnson and Jaws

Boris has now been comparing himself to Mayor Vaughan in the film Jaws!
For those who haven't seen the film, a few things to consider.

  • Mayor Vaughan refused to close the local beaches on July 4th, in spite of the severe threat of a rogue man-eating shark scouring the area for food

  • As a result of this policy, which went against strong and informed opinion from those who were experts, a small child ended up killed by the shark in question

  • Mayor Vaughan came across in the film as self serving, opinionated, and more concerned about public perception and popularity than public safety!

To add to the gaffe, Johnson has stated that:

"A gigantic fish is eating all your constituents and he decides to keep the beaches open. OK, in that instance he was actually wrong. But in principle, we need more politicians like the mayor - we are often the only obstacle against all the nonsense which is really a massive conspiracy against the taxpayer."

Of course you can only be wrong once can't you. And how can you always be such a good judge as to what is nonsense and what is in the long-term, not short-term, public interest.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Day Out in Ealing Southall

Quite good and productive all round. Set off for London about 11:30AM, took the Tube to Acton from King's Cross, where I bumped into Andrew Bradstock, the Director of CSM (I later bumped into him at Westminster on the way back. Jonathan was clearly determined that I blog on his planned event ;) ) and we just chatted about how things have been going well for Labour in the past few months amongst other things.
Arrive half an hour early at Acton Town Tube Station and before long am joined by a young employee from Oxfam and Martin Linton, the Labour MP for Battersea, and we head off for the HQ.
There then followed a quick-fire itinerary of leafleting, giving balloons to children as they left school (where Michael Crick and his Newsnight posse were waiting in order to interview one of Virenda Sharma's Campaign Team organisers, and it is true, Michael is combatitive at most times and I am convinced it's to deliberately get a negative reaction if possible!), more leafleting, and yet even more leafleting. All interesting though. Martin noticed the lack of posters and I noticed the lack of fly posters outside houses etc.. leading to a possibility of a low turnout. Thing is though, we noticed the lack of posters in what we later found to be a Tory-held ward.
Martin had to dash off for a 5PM vote at the Commons, and there then followed some more leafleting, and noticing that some shops had posters for all the candidates involved, before heading back home.
I would say more, but I did some small film footage which I hawked to 18 Doughty Street, offering a Labour perspective, so you can find some more of what happened here:

(Part 1)

(Part 2)

(Part 3)

Incidentally, Rupa has also been blogging about first-hand campaigning for Labour in Ealing (the fact she lives there helps), and you can read her piece about having Govt ministers round for tea here.

On Earth as it is in Heaven

Jonathan Cox from the CSM has asked me to plug this event which I am more than happy to do:

I just wanted to let you know about an exciting event designed for young Christians interested in being equipped for political action. The event is on 8th-9th September in London and is entitled: On Earth as it is in Heaven: equipping young Christians for progressive political action. It a Christian Socialist Movement Youth event in association with Leaders to Come, a programme for developing young Christian leaders in public life at the Von Hugel Institute, University of Cambridge. Please see the flyer attached for more details - we have some great speakers, worship and workshops lined up and you don't have to be a political geek or card-carrying party member to come, just be 16-32 and interested in working for the common good through progressive politics.

More on the CSM can be found here

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Out of Love with Russia!

As someone who loves Russia as a country, I am somewhat saddened by this development, but feel that the British government had no choice. There was a reasonable request for extradition based on the evidence given and the Russian authorities were somewhat unreasonable in response. Hopefully however this will come to a sensible resolution. Litvinenko's death was a cowardly and vile attack and one which put a lot of other peoples lives at risk. I just hope that the Russian government soberly reflect on that.

Boris for Mayor?!?

(BBC Online)
It says a lot about the Conservatives that they seem keen on having as their candidate, someone who is not a London MP, who has a reputation for gaffes, however funny or not, and at the expense of a no of London Conservatives (mind you given that in the past twenty years the most prominent London Tories have included Dame Shirley Porter and Jeffrey Archer who can blame them!)

There are other concerns too. Boris Johnson has quit the Conservative front bench, but has not resigned his seat, which is some distance away from London even if it is near the Thames. Miranda has also quoted some of Ken Livingstone's points about Boris's suitability which you can read here.

That said, I welcome Boris's candidacy, look forward to an exciting contest, but hope that when voters go to the Polls, they quietly reflect on who would be better for London and the changes they have experienced for the better in the past eight years.

A Trapped Tory Researcher

Ah bless! But very funny ;)

Ealing Comedies

As you can see here (hat tip to Tom Watson MP), Tony Lit sent a cheque to the Labour Party last month for £4.800, thats just under the cap on donations to the Labour Party. The Tories may try and bluster out of this, but if it was a Labour Candidate at aConservative do and that candidate had sent a cheque for £4.800 to Cameron's Conservatives, I would not be best pleased and therefore I imagine that Labour HQ would be even more angry. So that should say something about how things are with the Conservatives at present. Now some are calling this a dispassionate business transaction, but the fact remains that the cheque is payable to the Labour Party and the signature is Tony Lit's. To use Dizzy's argument I would point out that, yes Tony Lit could have attended the dinner in good conscience, but he didn't have to sign the cheque! You have to hand it to him though, many Tories couldn't stomach doing such a thing
Anyway Tony, thanks for the cheque, much appreciated ;). I myself am all set to go off and do an afternoons campaigning in Ealing myself and will blog on what has been going on on the battlefront tonight or tomorrow morning

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tony Lit at a Labour Fundraising Dinner

Some morning news in the political world is just enough to make you sing. One thinks for example of items such as this! I would like to see how my Tory friends will explain that, probably they will be inexpicably silent or make some small excuse and hope the story will go away and be forgotten!

Conrad Black

Am I the only one who noted the irony of some the mass media coverage of his being found guilty happening on Bastile Day?
That said, some say that his wife might leave him as he is now damaged goods. Well if anyone came out of this badly as well as Black, it was Barbara Amiel for her sheer greed! You have to feel sorry for her but I somehow expect that the market of elligible male and rich men will now have dwindled considerably, as will the amount of invites to big social occasions.
Another thing to consider is that it was the shareholders who blew the whistle, not fellow board members of Hollinger International, who included Henry Kissinger. Of course for a no of reasons one cannot say that they were guilty of knowing what was happening and turned a deliberate blind eye (and lets not forget what a virtuous and decent man Kissinger is), so one has to therefore assume that they were not doing their jobs properly and were being incompetent

Friday, July 13, 2007

Casinos and the Daily Mail

Like Kerron, there is one government policy over the past few years which I have strongly disagreed with, and that is the idea of Super Casinos in this country. Such places encourage misery, debts, break up familes, and has for the argument that they generate jobs, one might just as well argue for the creation of narcotic factories! Sometimes you have to oppose something purely on moral grounds.
But these events also create unlikely bedfellows, and so it is that I find that I am in agreement with the Daily Mail on this issue! In fact I find I agree with them when they sometimes attack David Cameron and when they sometimes say nice things about Gordon Brown. Could it be that we are seeing this newspaper become an honourable opponent of the "So, we meet again..." variety, rather than a nasty attack dog?
My answer to that is, whilst it's a pleasant surprise to see the Daily Mail agree with us on one or two things, be very, very careful. Recognition of a mutual enemy doesn't exonorate the sins of your allies, as the West noted in it's relations with Russia during World War II
Not that I am saying the Daily Mail is Communist you understand ;)

The Queen Vs Annie Leibovitz

(Press Association)
I thought when I first heard that Annie Leibovitz was going to take the Queen's photo, that it was going to be an interesting encounter. You know, something along the lines of: "So, have you taken any unusual photographs?", "Well there was that one of a naked John Lennon hugging a fully clothed Yoko Ono on the morning of the day he was shot!"

But this was a little bit unexpected. When I first heard about it, I thought "Well I would be a bit irritated, but I wouldn't flounce out!", which is exactly what has turned out to have happened.

The way the images were put together though, it seems like there was a bit of mischief making going on somewhere, but an apology has been made and that should be the end of the matter!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tory Flyposter Gang in Ealing attack Labour activist!

No, it's no joke in poor taste, you can see it here (Hat tip to Recess Monkey)

It's a disgrace, but not all that surprising, and I doubt the Tories will even bother to try and find out anything about it!

Two Memes

Having been tagged by

Six English and Latin Hymns.

Well I don't know of any latin hymns as such. The closest being some of the Taize chants (unless you count pieces from things like Faure's Requiem), but my six favourite hymns are (in no particular order)

Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
Amazing Grace
The Lord's my Shepherd
Silent Night
Once in Royal David's City
Think of a World...

Five Things I Love About Jesus

He's incredibly, incredibly forgiving, especially when he knows everything, and I mean everything, about you

He doesn't take b******t from people

He goes on about peace, love, and understanding, but not in a woolly way

He's always there, even when it seems like he isn't and everything seems to be going wrong

He gives people choices, whilst not being neutral about everything

Tagging: Kerron

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

It's Official

I have blogger fatigue :(

The Numbers Game

Over the past fortnight those of us in the Labour Party and Conservative Party have been playing a numbers game of sorts. You know the drill "We've turned one of your MP's", "We've nabbed five of your councillors", that sort of thing. And it's not a criticism, I myself texted Tim Roll-Pickering to gloat, er I mean inform him that Quentin Davies defected to Labour ;). But that's only because he rang to gloat, I mean inform, no heck he's a Tory he was gloating, when Harriet Harman was elected Deputy Leader of the Labour Party when he knew full well that I was travelling to London every week to help Hilary Benn's campaign team!
However, whilst I am not diminishing the significance of any defection, I think that in her blog entry today, Rupa Huq hit the nail on the head when she stated that where Labour are concerned "we should get over it and concentrate on campaigning for our man rather than getting all introspective". At the end of the day we are campaigning for our man to represent Ealing Southall and the concerns of it's constituents, not whether five of it's councillors have left the Labour Party in a huff. In any case I will be going there to help next Tuesday (I know, a bit late in the day and I was hoping to be there today, but events have conspired against me), so it will be interesting to see the battle first hand as it were!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Rose Tinted-Glasses

Whilst queueing up at my local bank today, I overheard two OAP's in front of me criticise a lot of what goes on in society today and that, apart from ration books, if only society was like the 1950s.
I could go into some argument against that, suffice to say that in the 1950s, many OAP's wanted to see a return to the Victorian era, and no doubt in the Victorian era....
My concern is that, in old age, I will wish life was just as it is today.
Apart from ration books of course ;)

The Thick of It

Saw the latest one-off episode the other evening and it was a delight to watch (but then I tend to have a sadistic sense of humour, so be warned). Not least seeing Malcolm Tucker having to making a humiliating apology of sorts to a cleaning lady and seeing various Spin Doctors and journalists run around like headless chickens, the former trying to back a candidate to replace the outgoing Prime Minister who will keep them their jobs, and the latter trying to get an exclusive in the small hours and getting constantly frustrated in the process. The comuppance at the end when Malcolm Tucker realises he hasn't been invited into the loop and is merely an accesory, the same going for his colleagues, is priceless, as are the jokes and indeed the characters. Especially the slightly dim and naive Olie trying to ingratiate himself into the inner circle and Jamie, the hack who has severe anger management problems and is unhelpful in backroom, let alone frontline, politics of Westminster.
Definetly worth watching.
The irritation of being unable to use the title bar!

Doesn't seem to have affect any other blogger, and have used more than one computer and the result is still the same, so why me? Grrr

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XXXI: Rupa Huq

Rupa Huq is a senior lecturer in Sociology at Kingston University and occasionally does some DJ'ing in her spare time. She has also organised a major conference on New Labour in Power, has written for Tribune, New Statesman, Progress magazine and Red Pepper amongst others, as well as apprearing on various radio and tv programmes, inc the Today programme on Radio 4. In addition to her various talents, Rupa stood as the Labour parliamentary candidate in Chesham and Amersham in the 2005 general election, as well as standing for Labour in the 2004 European election in the North West. Her blog is Rupa Huq's home on the web

What made you decide to start blogging?

I started off writing lefty things in print journalism mostly for "Red Pepper" but have also done things in Tribune and New Statesman before but felt I was doing it in a void as not many people would bother corresponding back. Blogging is like a dialogue, more informal and has instant results. I began by contributing things to the Progress website blog last year but then felt it'd be more fun to have my own.

What is your best blogging experience

They said about Alan Johnson that he loved reporting the story but hated being it. It's always fun to be namedropped or linked or hat-tipped but I found it hilarious at the time of the Bethnal Green and Bow selection where I was one of the runners to find myself profiled by Luke Too http://lukeakehurstsblog.blogspot.com/2007/04/bethnal-green-shortlist.html
He (?) likened my eyebrows to those of Dennis Healey - not the first time
As far as blogging myself - possibly reporting from Labour party conference in Manchester last Autumn to Progress in London and the wider world.

And your worst?

HHHHmmmmmm. I suppose comments from weirdos are never great experiences. I don't pre-moderate mine either unlike some.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

It's hopefuly yet to come.
I really like this link pinched from Luke Too http://www.brownandharman.co.uk/
They are cabinet-makers of distinction in Rottingdean

Favourite blogs?

Chris Paul, both Lukes, Will Parbury and then occassionally to see what the enemy is thinking Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes. Of yes and Mars Hill of course.

What's the most satisfying thing about being a sociology lecturer and how does it relate to your politics?

The freedom to write stuff, talk all day, kick around ideas and get paid for it. I teach courses that touch on conventional and non-conventional politics (the latter encompassing social movement theory, non-violent direct action and the like). I also have written stuff on politics including a chapter on the "Asain vote" and with my colleague Brian Brivati organised a conference last Autumn on 10 Years of New Labour where Clare Short made some erm... historic... comments.

I forgot about the children's programme Look and Read and only have vague memories of it. How did you get involved in that?

You might be too young! It was a BBC Schools thing from the seventies. I was asked to lookdown a telescope for it because my school in Ealing was proximate to the BBC in White City and they often filmed inserts there; I was also on "Junior That's Life" around the same time.

How did the Dj'ing come about?

I had a lot of records; it's the logical progression of making compilation tapes I guess. I began in hospital radio where any songs about death and dying were banned (including Sinatra's "My Way"). I was a big Smiths fan so not a great fit. I later graduated to squat parties in my mis-spent youth. Live is much more fun - like blogging, you see instant results.

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

I guess I'm the last person in England who's never been to the U S of A.

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

My first time on a plane was to Russia in its Gorbachev days on a school trip. It may be intersting to compare and contrast to now I suppose.

Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

Jennie Lee

Which figure has been your greatest inspiration?

My parents; from a courageous generation of pioneers.

Favourite Bond movie?

I have to say I'm not a Bond person and only sat through one all the way through because I was in a cinema - it had Roger Moore and a yellow 2CV featured in the storyline. I was only little and can't remember much apart from a scene at the end where Thatcher (?) rings up to congratulate him but he is too busy getting his kit off to listen. Sorry.

Favorite Doctor Who?

Tom Baker

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Mint is often like toothpaste and whilst a good quality chocolate is unbeateable it does vary so I'd say vanilla for consistency/dependendableness.

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

XTC - a great group from the 70s/80s/90s and 00s who retired from live work in 1982 afterr the singer sufferred chronic stagefright in Paris

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

Cambridge for book-shopping and to re-haunt those old haunts.

Favourite national newspaper?

I know my way round the Guardian best but it's not perfect.

What would you say your hobbies were?

Snakes and ladders with Rafi.

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

Book - The Hungry Catterpillar by Eric Carle (I believe George Bush Jnr also chose this when asked)
Song - "Smartest Monkeys" by XTC, classic B-side from early 90s
That's just today though, it may change tommorow.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Third Event

First of all, sincere apologies to all concerned for the photo, which was due to the batteries on my digital running out.
Well only four of us ended up at the Social at the end. Miranda was dealing with the after-effects of her handbag being stolen and others were campaigning in Ealing or Sedgefield, in preperation for the two Parliamentary by-elections later this month. Still it went well with the conversation ending up being around politics (Tim is somewhat overconfident about Ealing, so I have told him I will ring to remind him come the result. I know he will if he is right, so I urge fellow activists to help prove him wrong by going down there to help).
And, erm, we also talked at length about Doctor Who and Life On Mars.
That said, it was great fun and a good basis of getting to know fellow bloggers. Cally's Kitchen has already written up on the evening here.

Hot Fuzz

Saw the film a couple of days ago. Definetly one of the funniest I have seen for a while, which possibly says something about my warped sense of humour. If you haven't seen it though, I recommend it!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Canopy of Prayer

Check out this piece on the CPF Blog, regarding some of the events around the 2nd anniversary of the London bombings

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The New Smoking Ban

Further to my last post, Tim Roll-Pickering adds a fine piece to the argument!

The President and his Scooter

Well it's all about protecting your own I suppose! In any case it's still a form of Democratic abuse, in spirit if not in substance.

Doctor Who Series Three Review

It was generally very good. I liked the arc of the Saxon story, even if the outcome was one of the worst kept secrets around, and it didn't detract from the climax of Utopia . I don't think anyone expected the Fob Watch and the moment Professor Yana showed it, you didn't suspect or guess, you just knew. You also knew that it wasn't a good idea to open the watch, but you knew he would do that as well, ending up with Derek Jacobi giving one of the best portrayals of the Master, even if it was for only five minutes!

John Simm was also good, making the part very much his own, although his one problem was occasionally finding himself doing dialogue and scenes that did more justice to Anthony Ainley (and lets face it, if there is any template to refer to, it's Roger Delgado's original portrayal). But sometimes the humour worked. The scene where he gasses the cabinet and where he makes the odd condescending put downs (i.e. the phone conversation he has with the Doctor) was inspired (as was the background story of how he came to be a psychopath). The scene where he plays that Scissor Sisters track was definetly not inspired. As for the final scene with the Master, what was the point? We know he will come back, the only time I honestly thought it was the end for him was in the TV Movie and if he can survive that, he can survive anything! It's been a trait of the series since around the Peter Davison era to make it look like the Master has been killed off, whereas they hardly bothered during the Pertwee era. Far better tension for him to noticeably escape and know that he is somewhere planning mayhem and chaos!

There were some other gems in the series. Smith and Jones was hugely entertaining and enough for the viewer not to look at a straw in the same way for the next few hours. The Daleks story was good, although the pepperpot icons seem to be there for affection and nostalga if anything else! The Lazarus Experiment was brilliant, especially with the tension as he returned to normal. Human Nature/The Family of Blood was among the best of the series and quite unnerving. The use of the Doctor as someone disguised as a human being was a wonderful, if brave move. As for Blink It's not often I get unnerved by a Doctor Who story, but that one certainly did.

And Series 4? I am looking forward to it, but am a bit wary of this thing of bringing back companions (Apparently Martha Jones will be making a comeback. If you are going to do it, why not also bring back some more familiars from the classic series). I also hope to see a return of the Master, but who knows? I have heard a rumour that the series will see something new!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Doctor Who - Series Three

Will do a full review on Tuesday, although I really enjoyed the latter part of the series, although that said I felt there were one or two aspects of the last episode that could have been better!
Memo to anyone who produces Doctor Who concerning the Master. More sociopathic unnervingness, less cartoon camp (although it is good in small doses now and again ;) )

Mars Hill Blog Stats (June 2007)

Top Ten Cities listed (from where people visit Mars Hill)

London, Liverpool, Manchester, Seattle, Chelmsford, Lincoln, Spring, Columbus, Philadelphia, Calgary

Top Ten Countries listed (In order of most visits to my blog)

United Kingdom

United States





St Helena




For those who have started reading my blog in the last month, or who have returned after an absence, a warm welcome to you all

Top Ten Blog/Web Visitors

1) Bloggers4Labour (+9)

2) Cally's Kitchen (+2)

3) Kerron Cross - The Voice of the Delectable Left (-1)

4) Iain Dale (+4)

5) Daily Pundit (NEW)

6) PJ's Politics (NEW)

7) The Done Thing (-4)

8) Rupa Huq (NEW)

9) WongaBlog (NEW-ish)

10) Prague Tory (NEW-ish)

Out of the Top Ten are BaldockBaldrick, Jonathan Chilvers, Daily Referendum, Paul Linford, and Freemania

Top Ten Searchwords that lead people to my blog


conservative party logos

doctor who the sounds of drums part 2

it's a new dawn its a new day song

geraint day mars

i am the avalanche

here i am, lord--a hymn

photos baldock hertfordshire

life on mars final

song it's a new dawn; it's a new day

Bloggers Social - The Third Event (Reminder)

Time and Place

Saturday, July 7, 2007
5:00pm - 9:30pm
The Coal Hole (left door)
The Strand (nearby Tubes, Covent Garden, Embankment, Charing Cross)

It should be great fun. Those who say they will be going are James Cleverly, Cally's Kitchen, Adele Reynolds, Cllr Miranda Grell , Bloggers4Labour (moderator), and Tim Roll-Pickering. Other possibles inc Tygerland , Kerron Cross-The Voice of the Delectable Left, Parburypolitica, PooterGeek, Labourhome (moderator), Conservative Mind, philsheldrake.com , Union Futures, all the lads at Fisking Central, Furberworld, Jonathan Chilvers , Rupa Huq's home on the web , Radioleaflet , Someday I Will Treat You Good , My Rambling Thoughts , NormBlog , Don Paskini , Skuds' Sister's Brother , Three Score Years and Ten , Lizzie Fision , Ellee Seymour , Normal Mouth , and The Done Thing and rose's random ramblings

An interesting mix there I think you will agree :)
Oh and PS Have not forgotten the Paintballing idea ;)

Online Scrabble

One of the things I like about Facebook is the new online applications. One of the new ones I have noticed being Scrabble.
So it is that Alex Hilton (a.k.a. Recess Monkey and Labourhome ) has challenged me to a game.
Problem is I have not played for a no of years, so I felt a bit rusty when I gave my four letter word (steady ;) ) this morning. But it keeps the mind going
Now to see if Facebook have a Chess application?