Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tintin and the Live Action Film

There seems to be a lot of stuff about Tintin in the media lately, being the centenary of Herge's birth, the forthcoming Speilberg film, and the controversies that pop up from time to time (and yes I am not keen on the idea of Tintin in the Congo being available, although Herge did apologise for that and tried to redeem himself in the later books, such as The Blue Lotus and The Red Sea Sharks).

So it is that I was surprised that there has already been a Tintin live-action film out already; Tintin and the Golden Fleece, it remains to be seen however, what Speilberg's film will be like!

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XXXIII: PJP

PJP has been a Conservative party member for almost two years now and is the Ealing CF chair. He sits on the campaign team of Angie Bray and also hopes to stand as councilor in 2010. Outside of politics, PJP is on a gap year and works full-time at a design company based in maidenhead. He plans to travel widely in the second half of the year before going to university to study history. He has a rather large family, is one of four, and with two married already, the family is still growing! He enjoys music and films, and spends a lot of my free time with friends or girlfriend going to gigs around London! His blog is PJ's Politics

What made you decide to start blogging?

After reading various different blogs for around a year, and commenting on them all, it kind of seemed like the natural thing to do!

What is your best blogging experience?

I don't think anything will be quite as exciting as receiving my very first blog comment. Nothing else springs to mind!

And your worst?

It has to be having Tim Roll-Pickering systematically destroying my angry, anti Lib-Dem post. To be fair to Tim, it was not the most factual piece of writing I have ever done, and I did manage to see the funny side of it...

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

Either this one, on private schools, or my most recent post on HOL reform.

Favourite blogs?

Iain Dale, Guido, Tim Roll-Pickering, Mars Hill, ConHome, A Liberal Goes A Long Way and John Redwood's Diary.

What inspired you to go into politics?

My AS level politics teacher. He taught me to always do what I enjoy, and that is politics!

As a Conservative, how do you justify your being a fan of Tony Blair?

Well, "fan" might be a strong word (I hope you were not quoting me...!), but I can not help but admire him as a brilliant orator, political operator and I always felt that he believed in what he said and did really care about people. Of course, dragging Labour away from the left and into the Thatcherite consensus should earn him respect from Conservatives!

In your proposals for an unelected Lords, how would members be selected?

By an independent panel, made up of teachers, doctors, MPs from every party, civil servants, a few randomly picked members of the electoral register, leaders from the TUC and from the CBI. You get the idea! A cross-section of society, ensuring experts in every field are represented in the Lords, instead of creating another tier of politicians!

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

Well, loads! This year I am going traveling so will be visiting Russia, Mongolia, China, India, Thailand, Uganda and South Africa! So I obviously want to visit those countries, but I also want to visit Rome at some point soon!

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

California and Cyprus

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

Ah, a tough choice between Thatcher and Churchill! It would have to be Thatcher I guess!

Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?

Churchill. He refused to give in when he knew he was right, whatever was thrown at him. Very few people could read "Churchill" by Jenkins and end up not inspired by Churchill's life and determination.

Favourite Bond movie?


Favorite Doctor Who?

Tennant - Never Watched any before the new ones!

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Mint Choc Chip!

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

Jimi Hendrix and his band! I always forget the name of the band.

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

Oxford as I have never been.

Favourite national newspaper?

BBC website? Telegraph.

What would you say your hobbies were?

Reading, Playing the Piano, Music, Movies, Football and spending time with friends.

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

Books; The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy (Tolkien), The Fourth Protocol (Forsyth), Les Miserables (Hugo)Songs; All Along the Watchtower (Hendrix Version), Roxanne (The Police), Used 2 Love U (John Legend).

The London Underground Dinner Party

Here is the YouTube film that has been mentioned in the newspapers and on TV lately. I do admire them for this as they could so easily have got into trouble, although the fact they seemed to do it outside peak times must have helped.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Maybe I'm Amazed Remix

For me personally, one of Paul McCartney's best post-Beatles songs is Maybe I'm Amazed, in fact I read somewhere that one critic described it as "The Beatles' song that never was!" As it is I have recently heard the Twin Freaks remix and, this is unusal for me to say, I think it is slightly better than the original. If you know the song, judge for yourself.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Parliament Housed Elsewhere?

(BBC Online)
Its been suggested that the House of Commons decamp elsewhere whilst repairs on the roof take place (Hat tip to Rupa Huq). So any suggestions of London alternatives are welcome on this thread. Personally I think Westminster Central Hall, but for size and convenience as it is used for church services and conference and event meetings on a regular basis.

Friday, October 26, 2007

CPF Report Published

The CPF Have published their report on Church communities and it can be found here.
Definetly worth a read, although I have to point out that I am a founder of the CPF.

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XXXII: Red and White

(Red and White)
Red and White is a British-expat blogger who lives in Thailand. You can find his blog at Real life Thailand

What made you decide to start blogging?

I became very interested in the blog of a friend in Korea,and he inspired me to do my own. At first it was mostly about ex-pat life in Thailand, but politics just kept creeping in until eventually I stopped resisting!

What is your best blogging experience?

Having a blog published and plugged on the front page by a broadsheet newspaper out here.It was about Thaksin Shiniwat's purchase of Manchester City.

And your worst?

Being threatened with legal action over a certain piece. I had written something everybody knew was true but it was a faux pas to say it publicly.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

I wrote an excoriating piece on the Thai junta's decision to ban youtube which got quite a bit of praise.

Favourite blogs?

On the Thai side, 'Bangkok Pundit' is very prolific, highly informative and very well researched. I don't always agree with his politics but he is a great blogger. On the home front, I like 'Pub Philosopher' and 'Letters from a Tory' as we have common political views. I'm also a fan of Neil Harding's blog and 'Mars Hill' because both of you welcome criticism and debate. To me that shows strength of character.

Which do you find more exciting. Thai or British politics?

Thai politics by far. The political system is far less mature out here, so politics is a nonstop soap opera of back stabbing, corruption, scandals and surprises. It's great entertainment but sadly it does not benefit society.

How do you see things developing in Burma, seeing as you have blogged several times on this issue?

Being so close to the action has reminded me how we should be grateful for the freedom we take for granted. The international media has dropped off but arrests and human rights abuses are still ongoing. Revolution will come, but the people are facing overwhelming odds. It will take time.

How did you end up living in Thailand?

I travelled SE Asia about five years ago and Thailand won me over for many reasons.

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

Yes, I'd like to visit Mexico and maybe somewhere in southern Africa.

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

Hong Kong. The place is so vibrant and built up yet so safe. I'd also like to go back to Vietnam again to see how it has changed in five years.

Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

I've got several I admire. Perhaps my favourite would be a man called Pridi Phanomyong . He led a left wing group that overthrew the absolute monarchy in Thailand and introduced several progressive state systems.

Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?

It may sound cheesy but it might just be Aung San Suu Kyi. She was bought up to place her moral values over everything else.

Favourite Bond movie?

I only ever saw "The Man with The Golden Gun"!

Favorite Doctor Who?

Sylvester McCoy is the only Doctor I watched more than once. The others were before my time and the later ones just rubbish.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

I'm a vanilla guy.

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

I've seen the modern incarnation of Guns N Roses but I'd like to see the original line up. I just missed out on Nirvana, too.

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

Oxford. Charming place.

Favourite national newspaper?

Telegraph. I'm all about the broadsheets these days.

What would you say your hobbies were?

I'm a big reader and I get through books quickly. Until recently I was into drumming and martial arts, now I spend more time writing and playing with my two year old son. I'm a Southampton FC fan too.

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

These change by the week but right now I'd say:Songs:"Bulls on Parade" by Rage Against The Machine"Laura Palmer's Theme" by Angelo Badalamenti"Pure Morning" by PlaceboBooks: "The Prince" by Machiavelli"Natural Cures 'They' Don't Want You to Know About" by Kevin Trudeau and maybe "The Art of Fighting Without Fighting" by Geoff Thompson

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Blogging and abuse

I have to say it wasn't until this evening that I bothered to read Devil's Kitchen for the first time in a while (not really my cup of tea really), but I have to say I was amazed at the bile aimed in my direction, simply because I raised a concern about the way Gordon Brown has had criticism thrown at him.
Just a couple of points in response

1) Mentioning the Bullingdon Club is acceptable in context of Cameron and Johnson, or indeed any other Conservative. A no of Tories have been members and there is concern in some quarters as to whther the Tories have changed, or whether they are the Nasty Party etc.. Now I accept totally and completely that both Cameron and Johnson bitterly regret their association with such a club, however, the simple matter of it merely appearing to be a breeding ground for some small amount of Conservatives is something that should be looked at for all concerned

2) The simple abuse thrown has helped in the somewhat misleading view that the Tories and other right-wingers in general arerather unpleasant. A view, I might care to add, that I don't agree with. As for being sanctimonius, I admit that I am as capable of that as Chris Mounsey and I apologise. Maybe I should be more careful in my critiques, but I wasn't aiming to be unkind to anyone and I have clearly walked over sore wounds without realising. Which I admit does surprise me, as I was worried I might have given Iain offence and I do have some respect for the blogfather.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Smallest Cinema in Wales to close

(BBC Online)
A sad little story and if there is something that can save it at the last minute, then I hope that happens.

Personalities and Politics

Whilst I appreciate it is an easy trap to fall into, one of the dangers of being involved in politics is sometimes taking an exceptional dislike to an individual because of their politics.
Now I am not being twee here, for example I think it's right that, if someone shared the politics of Adolf Hitler it might not be a good idea to invite them round for dinner with a few of your friends. But where centre politics are concerned, whether right or left, I think it is important to divorce personalities from politics. If nothing else it helps foster respect from the electorate.
So I am a little bit bothered when some Conservatives and Liberal Democrats make a few personal jibes about Gordon Brown.
So I was a bit disapointed when Iain Dale made a sweep at Gordon Brown for simply being on the Rugby World Cup platform last night. It wasn't as if he was putting forward some policy that would upset the political opposition and I am wondering if he would have written the same post if it was a Conservative government and David Cameron was there instead.
Of course the acid test is how I would feel if any Conservative leader, past or present, was there and for me personally I would not have been bothered. If people don't like Gordon Brown then fine, if they don't like his politics then fine, but don't have a go at him for doing his job and try to avoid making personal attacks for electoral gain.

UPDATE: Iain has since made it clear that he was referring to Gordon Brown being with Heads of State, and Gordon being Head of Government. Fair enough and I take back my accusation

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fallen Glory

I gave up watching during the Second Half, it was just too horrible and predictable. Still, we got to the final and at least we were beaten by worthy adversaries.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Christmas in Autumn!

Here is something. Do you get irritated like me, when you see Christmas decorations up, hear adverts for anything to do with Christmas shopping. In October!!!
I appreciate that, if I hold a Christmas Party I start inviting people fairly early on, but thats because there is a rat race to book a place and get hold of friends before they are invited elsewhere. I also appreciate that some scholars believe that the Nativity probably happened in September, or else you would not likely get shepherds out in the fields, but even so...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Peter Hook Quits New Order

Is it a Bassist thing? First Bill Wyman, then John Deacon, now Peter Hook

Ming's Downfall

(Press Association)

Like Iain and Kerron, I am saddened on a personal level about what has happened. Whatever questions arise about his leadership, Sir Menzies Campbell is a decent and respected politician who has been treated in a shabby way. I trust that Westminster will not just cast him to one side and that there will be found some clear scope for his very able talents.

Two more things. Tim Roll-Pickering and I had a chat about this this evening and we have worked out that Ming is the first Liberal leader not to face a general election since Sir William Vernon Harcourt 109 years ago. Secondly this is the first time I, and many other bloggers, have covered the entire leadership of an individual helping to run a political party.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Time and Chance

It is true that events can be the nemesis of a government but the same can equally be said of an opposition. David Davis's recent calls for the Conservatives to remain united show this and it does make you wonder what is going on behind the scenes now that a general election no longer appears to be around the corner. As for the attacks on Gordon Brown, they are bitter in a way that makes you wonder if the Conservatives are afraid of him!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Kelvin Mackenzie has done it again!

I have the awful feeling that when Kelvin Mackenzie meets his maker there will be many who will not be mourning his passing. Which is a sad indictment on anyone.
Last night, not content with having insulted Liverpudlians (whom he still hasn't apologised to), the Labour Party, Elton John, and many others, he feels fit to insult the Scots. Again.
Of course one wonders about the implications of this given his name, but personally I find it sad that people cheered him on and even more sad that someone feels the need to behave like this, bearing in mind that when the tide turns against him he runs away, as he did by pulling out at the last minute from an appearance on Question Time late last year.
I suppose in short, anyone who allegedly states that "I want to get the Lonsdale Belt for vile and be personally rude to as many people as possible." should be pitied and I hope those who are right-wing who are worth their salt reflect on how they morally feel to have him amongst them.

General Election. The Morning After

Given that we are now facing a general election some time in the future, as opposed to within weeks, one wonders even more what the result will be, although the following is not in doubt

Your thoughts. The morning after the general election, if your side wins

Thank God

Look at those seats we have gained/kept. The ______ (insert name of your party here) will find that difficult to dislodge

Good to have a spring in my step this morning

Oh look, here comes ________ he/she was being smug, crowing away that the others would win. Not smirking now

Although ___________ seems a bit upset. I suppose I ought to make some kind gesture without looking like I am rubbing it in

Lets have a look at all those newspapers biased against us! This will be fun after the abuse they have given us!

Five more years/Five years of this Party in government, who would have thought it!

And if your side loses

Oh no, you are kidding!

They gained _______ Those ****** gained _______!

I wonder about this country sometimes, I really do!

Oh no, they voted in _____ That *******! The thought of that odious ****** in the Commons!

And to think I have to go into work and face _______ he/she has been smug throughout and won't resist rubbing it in!

I can't face even looking at some of the newspapers today

Five years/Five more years of them! Its so unfair!

(And hopefully....)

________ brought me a coffee/tea and didn't mention the election once. Considering he/she supports ______ that was really kind of him/her

Actually there is a challenge for you. If your side wins the morning after the next general election, would you make a point of being kind towards anyone you know on the opposition. I like to think I would!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

University Politics

(University of Bedfordshire)
Following Iain and Paul's posts I suppose I am unique among political bloggers in that, when I was at Luton University (now the University of Bedfordshire) I avoided student politics.

I wasn't exactly totally out of the picture, being a member of the Christian Union executive which was affiliated to the Student Union I attended SU AGM's and once attacked a member of the SWP over a motion they were putting forward, although perhaps given that I stated I was a CU rep, I should have not made the one or two cheap jibes I made in my comments, which I have thankfully forgotten. One of the great things about being a Christian, you find it helps moderate your behaviour without diluting what you say, only it didn't on that occasion.

That said, student politics did not attract me, I was at my least interested in politics then and yet to join Labour (in spite of the attempts of my late friend Tammy Wilband, who later got shortlisted for Camarthen West in early 2004). I also found student politicians to be self regarding and disliked the election campaigns because those who stated what the problems were and how they could deal with them did not get elected and those who had flashy campaigns and promising things without putting down much, if any detail on how they would go about acheiving their aims, did tend to get elected. Sometimes I despair over how people can so easily be won over by the glitziness and shallowness of a particular campaign.

But they were good years and ones which I look back with affection. The 1997 election happened during my second year and I stayed up all night with some friends to watch that, all of us pleased to see a change of government after so long. How many students have experienced that kind of moment during their time at Uni/College? ;)

Time to Repent

As a non Roman Catholic I have wondered how awful it must be for a priest to remain silent on some of the things said to him in the confessional box. However, in these circumstances, given the regime involved and given the strict rules of confession within the Roman Catholic Church, I don't know how this priest can sleep at night!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Comings and Goings

I was not surprised, but rather disapointed to read on Iain Dale's blog that Ann Widdecombe plans to stand down at the next general election. I mean, she may be an opponent, but she is one of the few opposition politicians I am rather fond of and think she sometimes has a breezy style of common sense which we all need to hear from time to time.
Am not sure about her political acumen with regard to those politicians outside the Party structure though ;)


On other news it seems that Tony Benn is interested in standing for Parliament again. I say that as opposed to wanting to return to Parliament, as Tony is standing in a Tory fiefdom, so I think he is just trying to make a point somewhere. That said I wish him well and incidentally I have recently been reading through his latest volume of diaries which came out last week. They are definetly worth buying, esp as each volume seems to get better, or ratherwe live in a political climate where, whether you agree with Benn or not (and a lot of the time I don't), his views are worth looking at and taking into consideration.

Oh and I came across this gem on YouTube. Its a Labour Party Broadcast from the 1959 general election campaign which Tony Benn hosted

(Labour Party)

Richard Henry

Labour's new Parliamentary spokesperson for North East Herts (seen here with Constituency Chair, Clyde Millard who is on the left of the photo).
Richard Henry was selected by a large majority of members of the Labour Party in North East Herts. at a packed meeting in Letchworth Garden City on Saturday 15 September. He is from Stevenage and is a lecturer in Health and Social Care, as well as being a Borough Councillor with local government experience stretching back twenty years. He also has been involved with Health issues and has experience as a Trade Union activist.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Mars Hill Blog Stats (Sept 2007)

Apologies for being late, has been one of those weeks.

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

London, Middlesbrough, Kingston Upon Hull, Birmingham, Tokyo, Cebu, Houston, San Jose, Hong Kong, Delray Beach

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

United Kingdom

United States



South Africa





Korea, Republic Of

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) Iain Dale (+1)

2) Tim Roll-Pickering (+2)

3) Mike Ion (NEW-ish)

4) Confessions of an athiest (NEW)

5) British Blogs (NEW-ish)

6) Never Trust a Hippy (NEW-ish)

7) Cally's Kitchen (+3)

8) Daily Pundit (NEW-ish)

9) Kerron Cross - The Voice of the Delectable Left (-8)

10) Rupa Huq (-1)

Out of the Top Ten are Bloggers4Labour, Prague Tory , (12th place), Conservative Mind , Bob Piper, and Jonathan Chilvers

Top Ten Searchwords that lead people to my

richard beckinsale

richard beckinsale cholesterol

richard beckinsale heart attack

evie winter

richard beckinsale bloody kids

china banned blogs

richard beckinsale daughters

what to say on your birthday

seven deadly sins quizzes

doctor who david tennant leaving

Just what is it about Richard Beckinsale that keeps leading people to my blog? I mean its great that people still remember a talented actor who died young nearly thirty years ago, but still..

Gordon's Decision

The Conservatives may start slating Gordon Brown for not calling an electon, but there is a difference between considering and going back on one's word.

There is more to this than just posturing. Right now we have been dealing with various crisies during the summer and whilst they are managable, to call an election now would be irresponsible. Government is there to conduct the affairs of state, not just attacking the opposition.

In any case now we shall see if the Tories can hold a united front, as Donal Blaney showed in his recent post on Conservative Home

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Conference Blues Part II

With regards to the recent Facebook scandal, I am glad that the Conservative hierarchy moved to act in a quick and responsible fashion, but it once again raises the question as to how out of touch are many activists within the Conservative Party?
But that is not the only problem the Tories have faced. There is Michael Brown who, according to yesterday's Evening Standard, was heard to say loudly in a conversation that he hoped the Conservatives would lose so that Cameron would get into trouble (there's loyalty for you), as well as foreboding comments from Max Hastings and Dominic Lawson, hardly Social Democrats.
A failed autocue won't be the Conservatives only problems it seems.

Conference Blues

I have a lot to do right now, but expect a blog post on the Conservative Party Conference this evening where I will mention Facebook, gremlins, and people who talk loudly amongst other things
That will get you wondering ;)

Monday, October 01, 2007