Tuesday, July 31, 2007
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
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
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!
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
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
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
Saturday, July 21, 2007
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
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!
Thursday, July 19, 2007
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
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:
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.
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
Sunday, July 15, 2007
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
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
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 ;)
Thursday, July 12, 2007
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!
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
The Lord's my Shepherd
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
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
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
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 ;)
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.
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.
I really like this link pinched from Luke Too http://www.brownandharman.co.uk/
They are cabinet-makers of distinction in Rottingdean
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.
Mint is often like toothpaste and whilst a good quality chocolate is unbeateable it does vary so I'd say vanilla for consistency/dependendableness.
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
I know my way round the Guardian best but it's not perfect.
Song - "Smartest Monkeys" by XTC, classic B-side from early 90s
That's just today though, it may change tommorow.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
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.
Friday, July 06, 2007
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Sunday, July 01, 2007
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 ;) )
London, Liverpool, Manchester, Seattle, Chelmsford, Lincoln, Spring, Columbus, Philadelphia, Calgary
Top Ten Countries listed (In order of most visits to my blog)
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
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 ;)
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?