Friday, February 29, 2008

The Twenty Questions Satire

Yes, my interview with Luke Akehurst has now been lampooned. Should have seen it coming really.

Post Office Closures

On my readers has asked me what I make of the post office closures that have been taking place around the country.
Put simply I am not happy with it, but I think the problems lie somewhat deeper in that we live in a more individualistic society and are losing a sense of what close-knit communities mean. This is something that happens in cities, towns, and villages, where you get people in streets who hardly know each other compared to forty or fifty years ago. As someone who has lived in villages my whole life, (apart from my first year when we lived at Bolton and when I was at Uni) I know how awful these situations are, but whilst I am keen to see a prevention of post office closures in those areas where people are isolated, I would also like to see a more active return to the concept of community in this country which is sadly lacking and not necessarily the fault of politicians, whether Labour, Conservative, or Liberal Democrat.

Dave Cameron's Diary: 29th February 2008

Hi trendy readers

Yes today is the one day, every four years, when women get the chance to propose to men (according to tradition), and whilst I like to eschew tradition, I would like to take advantage of this lovefest by making a declaration of love to the voters of Great Britain.
For many years now the Conservatives have been cruelly rejected by voters for some strange bizzare reason that few of us can fathom. However in an echo of that Beatles song 'Can Buy Me Love', we have decided to buy some friends. Never really listened to The Beatles myself, not as exciting as The Smiths,but there you go.
So just to show how in-touch we Tories are, we have launched a £500,000 advertising campaign to recruit online "friends". We need to show how in touch we are with ordinary voters, unlike all those corrupt politicians at Westminster.
I mean, only yesterday we had those protesters on the roof of the Commons who feel compelled to do this because they have no representative in Parliament! How awful it is that some people are driven to such extreme actions. I heard later that a Parliamentary pass-holder has been questioned and released on bail over this incident. Strange thing is, when I mentioned it to one of my colleagues he went very pale and muttered that after Otis Ferry and his merry chums storming the Commons chamber this was pushing it! Strange.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Following Barack

As I have stated earlier, next week I will be following Barack Obama's campaign in the US, and this blog will be purely dedicated to that.
Incidentally check out this film on Iain Dale's blog, where Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton recently shared a debate on MSNBC. Hillary was somewhat agitated, although I suspect that is down to the fact she is losing this campaign. Barack stuck to the facts, was dignified,did not get emotional, and cooly pointed out the merits of his Healthcare plan and his record of consistency on issues like Iraq. I am increasingly convinced that we have in Barack Obama, not only the Democrats candidate for the White House, but possibly the 44th President of the United States

Abusing the Privilege

It's rare that I found myself agreeing with Donal Blaney, but I do on this occasion (apart from shooting protesters and one does wonder if he would advocate this if pro-hunting protesters were on the roof yesterday).
I have every sympathy for the protestes concerns (maybe I shouldn't say that considering I will be leaving for the US via Heathrow on Monday), but yesterday was the wrong way to make a point.
Over the past seven years or so I have visited the Palace of Westminster on a semi-regular basis (as have many others who do not work there), whether it is to watch PMQ's from the Gallery, meeting up with an MP, or Peer, or staff members. Spending my day working for the MP I was working for at the time in his Westminster office, attending a talk or event. Every time stupid stunts like this happen I have noticed a slight increase in security and a slightly less open atmosphere at Westminster. I don't blame the Commons authorities because it is their duty to protect MP's, staff, and the public. I do blame those smug individuals who try and make a point which could be easily and legitimately be made in hundreds of other ways that can give them headlines on the Six O'Clock News.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Death Penalty

Lately the whole issue has come up again in the media, following these recent cases. The Sun have even canvassed their readers to find, surprise surprise, that 99% back the return of the death penalty.
This is always an emotive subject and for those who wish to see a return, the problem is that fine line between wanting to see justice or revenge.
That said, there are very compelling reasons not to bring it back. First of all there is always the possibility that sooner or later someone innocent would be executed by mistake, as happened to Timothy Evans nearly sixty years ago. If the death penalty existed in the 1970s, one could be rest assured that ten innocent people, the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four, would have been executed.
The second is that, even taking likely guilt into account, some Jurors would probably find the individual or individuals concerned "Not Guilty" for not wanting a death on their conscience. That said the former case is more compelling than the latter.
What is needed though i to make sure that, in some cases, life does mean life, as it would mean that the convicted person would not be able to hide from justice.

Cameron and Auschwitz

One of the more unpleasant aspects of leadership is having to apologise for actions taken under your watch, or at least taking responsibility. The unpleasant aspect is when you may not of instigated those wrong actions for which you are held accountable.
With that in mind, isn't it time that David Cameron made an apology, at least for the way those comments appeared!

Being Recognised

Have been preparing for much of my time for next weeks trip to Chicago and yesterday I was shopping for a woollen hat and some extra gloves before heading off to work.
As I typed in my Pin No on making my purchase, the man behind the counter said "I've seen you on telly haven't I!"
"That's right, on Newsnight"
"I thought so, I was having pizza with my girlfriend and the TV was on in the background when you appeared on the screen and I said; "I know him! He works at that newsagents kiosk!"
He was friendly, but I couldn't remember this guy at all and I found it mildly disconcerting, although obviously gratifying to my ego. It's like the time a complete stranger came up to me last year and asked if I was that Mars Hill blogger!
So I have a very vague idea of what it is like to be well known, but I can see why some people get a bit nonplussed when it happens to them!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XXXVI: Luke Akehurst

Luke Akehurst was Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Castle Point in 2005 and Aldershot in 2001. He has been a Labour Councillor and Chief Whip on Hackney Council since 2002. He started blogging in May 2006. You can read his blog here.

What made you decide to start blogging?

In the aftermath of Labour’s victory the 2006 local elections in Hackney there was a lot of anti-Labour material on local blogs and I wanted to rebut it and tell our side of the story. It grew from there – I discovered there was a bit of a gap in the market for pro-leadership blogs and that it was a good outlet for articles and letters I might have previously sent to the press.

What is your best blogging experience?

Hazel Blears telling me she had this post up on her office wall:

And your worst?

a) Writing something in haste that unnecessarily hurt a friend while they were already having a tough time.
b) Some creep taking photos of my house and putting them on the web.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

This one:

It sums up all the rest!

Favourite blogs?

What inspired you to go into politics?

I got active in the Labour Party in 1988, aged 16. My family background is strongly Labour – two great-grandparents were Labour Mayors of Gravesend, and I grew up helping leaflet at election time. I was very angry about the impact of Thatcher on my own family and on the country, and I could see that Neil Kinnock wanted to make Labour electable again. I thought that by going to meetings of Canterbury Branch Labour Party I could help him!

A weekend watching Stoke Newington play or a weekend at an Amicus conference?

Stoke Newington doesn’t have a separate football team – it’s Arsenal territory. I don’t follow sport at all so I’d settle for the conference.

You seem to have an interloper claiming to be you. What's the story behind that?

I guess I am easy to spoof! The people behind the spoof blog are long-term activists on local issues where they disagree with or don’t approve of the record of Labour in Hackney. Then along came a fairly outspoken Labour Hackney Councillor with a blog for them to have a go at. 90% of it is legitimate satire and well-observed – the other 10% is personalised abuse which I think says more about the writers than about me.

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

China and India – to understand the next superpowers.
In the States I’ve only been to Washington DC but would like to see the rest of the country.

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

I love southern Italy, particularly Puglia. We had a fantastic holiday a couple of years ago near a town called Ostuni and I’d like to go back there.

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

Blair for both. I expect a lot of people would say Attlee but I actually think that the real stars in his government were Bevin, Morrison and from the left Bevan – Attlee himself was a great political survivor but tended to sit on the fence and failed to end the infighting between Gaitskellites and Bevanites in the final five years of his leadership, much to the detriment of the Party.

Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?

Living: Neil Kinnock. Historical: Herbert Morrison.

Favourite Bond movie?

Octopussy, because the screenplay was by George MacDonald Fraser, one of my favourite authors.

Favorite Doctor Who?

Tom Baker.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?


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

The Smiths. I’ve seen Morrissey in concert twice and it’s disappointing to have missed seeing The Smiths as a group.

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

Oxford – my partner Linda’s family live there so I go there a lot.

Favourite national newspaper?

Despite everything, The Guardian – you can’t understand the Labour Party without reading it, and its coverage of culture, the arts, food etc. is written with stereotypical N16 residents like me in mind.

What would you say your hobbies were?

Spending time with my 2 year old son, Jed. Hence my main hobbies nowadays are Thomas the Tank Engine toys and watching cbeebies.
Reading military history – particularly Napoleonic.

I used to be a keen runner – I did half marathons and mountain marathons – and if I could find the time I’d like to get into running again.

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

There is a light that never goes out – The Smiths
Bandiera Rossa
The Internationale

The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 by Engels
If This Is a Man/The Truce by Primo Levi
Robert Waller’s Almanac of British Politics

Paul's Blog Posts of the Week

Cally's Kitchen on the authenticity of C.S. Lewis not being reproduced on stage, i.e. his smoking habits.

Kerron Cross on how to challenge yobs

Annie Porthouse on the joys of royalties

Rupa Huq on Anglo/French relations

Philip Purser-Hallard on blogging delays

WongaBlog is musing on why the recent suicides near Bridgend have been happening

Brighton Regency Labour Supporter joins the support for Ken Livingstone

Luke Akehurst on "Labour's Top 50 Achivements"

Mike Ion refers to Michael Portillo's comments that the Tories' are unlikely to win the next election

Lisa Rullsenberg also explains why she has been away

Iain Dale on road safety

Donal Blaney gets on the defensive

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ian Paisley and Michael Martin

In the past few days we have seen two situations, where one iconic individual and one holder of an iconic post are in trouble!
Ian Paisley is a beleagured man at present, having been tainted by the resignation of his son, Ian Jnr. The eighty-one year old First Minister of Northern Ireland stated that he would serve for four years, it now seems credible that he may go within six months. Could it be that the man who has gone through the Troubles as a redoubtable figurehead, one who many of us disliked, will be felled bythis recent situation? There was a time when I never thought I would say this, but I will be sorry to see Ian Paisley depart from frontline N.Ireland politics. From being disgusted and angered by his bigotry, his bullying, his refusal to compromis, and his "playing with matches" around the gunpowder of the political situation of Northern Ireland, I have grown to respect him as a man who was prepared to put aside bitterness and help work for peace with the other parties involved. Many of us would have felt ill at the thought of sitting down with Adams and McGuinness, but for Ian Paisley to do it showed that perhaps he had a bigger heart than many of us on the sidelines on the UK mainland.
Then there is Michael Martin. The Speaker of the House of Commons is facing pressure to quit from the media and a cross-section of MP's with allegations of some form of misconduct, culminating in The Sunday Times publishing details of allowance claims for his Scottish home. It should be pointed out however, that no rules have been broken. The omens do not look good however, with increased media speculation growing.
Being Speaker of the House of Commons (as anyone who has read memoirs of previous Speakers will know), is a difficult job. At nearly every point in their career there will be some MP's who will hold a grudge against him or her. Indeed many may recall Betty Boothroyd's run-in's with Richard Ryder. The job requires nerve, skill, an ability to respect all views of the House, and having to be friendly but distant, so as to protect one's impartiality. They are perhaps more vulnerable than many MP's because of the nature of their job.
I suspect that some of the laws on Parliamentary inquiries need to be changed, but that does not mean that the Speaker should be forced to quit. If Michael Martin has been misusing his position, then the cross-party collection of grey suits will tell him so and he will resign shortly or stand down at the next election, for no Speaker can survive without the consent of the House. However, whoever succeeds as the next Speaker, those who might be making mischief should be aware of one thing. Many individuals change like Shakespeare's Henry V once they are in that role, and the plotters will find that the new Speaker is no patsy.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

David Stirling On Her Majesty's SAS

Recently a video has come to light, where the late David Stirling described how he managed to break into a compound in order to put forward his ideas for what became the SAS to an army General.

Whilst the story in itself was intriguing, I noticed from some of the wartime photos of Stirling, the face of someone familiar. Namely, George Lazenby who played 007 in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.


George Lazenby

(United Artists)

David Stirling

Is there something we haven't been told! ;)

School Trips to Auschwitz

A piece I wrote earlier today on Labourhome :

Tories face uproar over accusing Labour of "gimmicks"

I would like to think that the Tories' concerns are genuine here (after all, I hate to think that they would stoop so low as to make political capital out of the Holocaust), as indeed is Labour's commitment on this issue.But to make an accusation of making a "gimmick" is not only ill-thought out, it is deeply offensive and not only does it show how the Tories' have some way from shaking the "nasty" label, it would do well for them to apologise to all concerned

Since I wrote that piece, Guido has stated that he thinks it's some over-zealous type at Conservative Central Office who will get a, ahem, good telling off. Iain has stated that he thinks it's due to lack of proper vetting at CCHQ. I appreciate all parties have their tribal blockheaded types who attack without thinking of the consequences or the weapons which they use, but it makes you wonder about the Tories' having such a crass-minded individual amongst them who can put this out into the public domain. Incidentally note some of the people making comments on Iain's blog don't see the problem with accusing Labour of making a "gimmick". I would gently suggest that it says more about them than the Labour Party and that they should sit down quietly somewhere and reflect on what they are saying and how it comes across.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Where Is Stephen Tall?

He hasn't blogged since October, Nick Clegg was elected in December. If it's a new job then it doesn't have to be about politics, or at least so tribal!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Earliest Surviving Colour Photograph


Long-time readers of this blog will know that I take a mild interest in the developmental history of photography, as mentioned here and here.

I have heard about this photo, but only came across it the other day. It is the oldest surviving colour photograph in the World and was taken as early as 1861 by James Clerk Maxwell. He discovered that colour photography was possible using red, green, and blue filters. However, due to the lack of development and limited use available, colour photography did not really kick off for another forty years with the invention of autochrome. Even then it didn't become widespread until the 1930's and 40's, when photographic film came on the market.

Amazing to think though, that when this photograph was taken, Abraham Lincoln was the US President, Dickens had just produced Great Expectations, and Prince Albert was still alive (although he died in December that year).

Driving in Alderney

Whilst Iain is musing over speed cameras and the like, over on the Island of Alderney someone has not been paying attention to the fact that not all road laws are the same in the British Isles.

Dave Cameron's Diary: 21st February 2008

Meeting of the Shadow Cabinet before PMQ's. Suggestions on what to givethe Prime Minister for his birthday (shudder). George's suggestion was met with shocked silence, before he mentioned that he was only joking, I do wonder about George's humour sometimes. Have gone for the safe option.
Then to PMQ's, where once again I savaged Gordon Brown until he was a quivering wreck. I am particually proud of comparing him to Fidel Castro who tortured and executed many of his opponents under his dictatorship, whereas in comparison..
Erm anyway, it was off to Bradford where I gave a dazzling speech condemming forced marriages. I was careful to make the distinction from arranged marriages. Afterwards one or two party members asked if the "Love Bombs" with the Lib Dems constituted as arranged marriages for the grassroots! They clearly have not seen the love at first-hand
Bad news this evening. The Electoral Commission stated that the main political parties received £16.7m in donations in the final quarter of last year, which is apparently the third highest amount ever. Embarrasingly the Conservatives are at the top of the list by around £4 million. Rang Lord Ashcroft for advice and he stated that it was worse for Labour because they had Union backing, whereas we had the backing of wealthy individuals concerned about the future of this country. He was coughing a lot at that moment, particually when he said that he wasn't being hypocritical. I do hope he is alright!

The High Court Circus

I have to say think it's getting a bit OTT now, although it's a bit of a Catch 22 situation.
That said, one Facebook group has a suggestion for Mohammed Al Fayed for after the verdict, considering he said he would abide by the Jury's decision. After all, it's not as if he is lacking in money

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Castro Resigns

Could it be that we shall soon see the dawn of a post-communist Cuba!

Dave Cameron's Diary: 19th February 2008

Hi trendy readers!

Yesterday George and I gave Mr.Brown a double whammy over the nationalisation of Northern Rock. With great gravitas we called on Alistair Darling to resign. Some of our members are suggesting that it is worse than Black Wednesday. I know this is true because at the time I brought Norman Lamont a cigar in order to help cheer him up over accusations that the pound had been effectively devalued and £3 billion sterling had been wiped off. Nationalizing a bank in order to protect it for the following months is far worse. You tell that to their customers!
Then to the Commons where George laid into Gordon Brown again. As he raised his voice attacking him for economic incompetence I could see how the future will be. Me as PM with George becoming one of the great Chancellors of the Exchequer turning this country around, after ten years of relative economic stability that we started and which Labour screwed up after, erm, well ten years I suppose.. Hang on! That sounds as if Labour is fairly competent and that can't be right!
Well anyway I am digressing. Later on, whilst I was watching old clips of John F.Kennedy on YouTube and George was playing darts in the corner of the office, complete with photo of Gordon Brown over the board, my PPS barged in and told us we were at risk of running late for our meeting with the Blessed Margaret at the new Conservative Party HQ. Off we dashed on our bikes, making sure that my lexus was waiting outside with the engine running, should we forget to go to another function immediately afterwards.
The event was to commemorate a bust of her being unveiled. As we lay prostrate before her, our great spiritual leader pointed out that we must not deviate from the old ways. I knew this myself when I recently sweated over the possibility of having to pen a Maoist-style self-criticism when I invited her for tea, stating a regret at not thinking of inviting her before Gordon did. George was not happy about that I can tell you!
Anyway the lexus was calling and off I went, faster than a man with a team of huskies to address the National Farmers Union. Was a bit nervous to be honest, but I drew on my love of the countryside and the fact that whenever I spend the weekends at my Witney constituency I like nothing better than watching badgers playing in the road outside the family home. For some reason they were not to happy to hear me say that, but some of my aides muttered that it was a remark worthy of Boris Johnson. I cheered up at that because someone in my office had the idea of Boris running for Mayor and obviously they know good political sense when they see it.
Then home, where I slammed on another CD by The Jam and listened to one of my favourite songs; The Eton Rifles. The Evening Standard recently pointed out that some of the lyrics were a bit anti Eton, but I pointed out that I knew, but ignored it. In fact I think that if you ignore the lyrics altogether, the message of the true Cameron Conservative alternative to Labour comes through

I'm Too Sexy For My Blog!

Hat tip to Kerron and Iain for letting us know that there is a quest to compile a list of Best Looking Bloggers.

Obviously I don't expect to get a mention, but not for the want of trying. Below is a photo of me in my sexy and provocative underwear

I know, I know. I have been taking risks bringing this forward, what with women, and some men, fainting with desire at their computers all over the World, but I felt I should not hide my desireability any longer

Monday, February 18, 2008

Al Fayed at the High Court

I didn't know whether to pity or feel angry with Al Fayed when he went into the Witness Box today and continued to make his facile allegations about what happened to his son and Princess Diana.
He has brought a new twist to the tale, apparently nearly everyone was involved in this "murder"; Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Tony Blair, Robin Cook, MI6, MI5, the CIA, the then British Ambassador to Paris, her brother-in-law Sir Robert Fellowes, some of the Royal staff. Trevor Rees-Jones (the only survivor) was "turned" against him. Paul Burrell and Princess Diana's eldest sister let down her memory by not foowing "her instructions". One almost wonders if The Wombles are going to get implicated somewhere!
This individual has wasted taxpayers money trying to find a truth which suits him, at the emotional expense of others who have also lost loved ones in that fatal car crash. What is far more likely of course is the fact that Henri Paul goaded the Papparratzi on, probably whilst under undue influence, and that if Princess Diana and her driver and Dodi had been wearing seat belts, then they may well have lived!
I would, and I suspect many others would as well, be far more harsh about Al Fayed, but for the fact that I don't think he is a well man at all, but I hope that he abides by the Jury's decision (I doubt it but one hopes), and that somehow he becomes aware and considers the distress he is causing others

Paul's Blog Posts Of The Week

Cally's Kitchen on the holding of a Bloggers Colloquiem

Kerron Cross on what it is like for a bloke to receive flowers on St Valentine's Day

Rupa Huq on the tribulations of Respect

Will Parbury takes Donal Blaney to task on American gun laws

Alex Hilton on the cynicism that takes place at the Daily Mail

Luke Akehurst is brief and to the point

Mike Ion congratulates Frank Field on his tax proposals

Skuds' on the swiftness of newspaper reporting.

Harry Barnes on the "Democratisation" of Iran

Tygerland on the implosion taking place in the US Republican Party

WongaBlog on taking photos of Trafalgar Square

Iain Dale on a possible nightmare sceneario for the Democrats (lets hope a situation does not occur where Hillary goes "nuclear")

Louise Hector is now offically excited

Paul Linford on "Englishness"

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Another Bond Fantasy Comes True

One of my earliest memories of watching a Bond film is seeing that scene in The Spy Who Loved Me, where Bond's Lotus escapes from a helicopter by plunging into the Med. It then swiftly turns into a mini sub.
Turns out that, like other minor aspects of science fiction, having a car/sub is now science fact.

The Disingenuous Of Some Agitators

One thing that has struck me in the past few days is how disingenuous some people are in order to make a point. Usually it involves being snide and then trying to be clever when caught out.
One attempt happened recently in cyberspace when Rupa Huq made a valid comment on The Guardian's Comment Is Free, regarding the recent vandalism of a memorial in memory of Stephen Lawrence. A simple scroll down the comments page on the Comment Is Free site will show a remark made where someone criticised Rupa's opinion on the subject matter by stating that no one makes the same fuss if a WHSmith window gets smashed.
Well yes there is a difference and most people can notice it. The simple fact is no one set up a chain of WHSmith's anywhere in memory of a murder victim, and the aforementioned comment leaves a bitter taste in the mouth when one considers that Stephen Lawrence was murdered simply because of the colour of his skin. I suspect the person who made their point knew something of that and was being revoltingly facetious.
Another example of disingenuousness this week came during the latest confrontation between Iain Dale and Simon Heffer on the Daily Telegraph TV Station. Iain criticised Heffer for making a link between autism and Gordon Brown (and lets face it, Heffer is not the first to do this), but he fought back by refering to autism in it's original meaning (it's some seven-and-a-half minutes into the programme Right On). Of course, Telegraph readers may well have a sophisticated view of the World as much as readers of other broadsheets, but we all think of autism in it's modern sense when it is first mentioned and Heffer is an intelligent guy, so either he was being ignorant or else he was being deliberatley offensive.
Are the right now all cuddly and friendly under Cameron? Hmm, I don't think so either!

Friday, February 15, 2008

MP's and the SAS

As a no of you know, my favourite Conservative bloggers are Iain Dale and Tim Roll-Pickering . I think the main reason being that, like Tony Benn's diaries, they are ready to show their human side, not that other bloggers do not, Kerron does it all too often ;), but each has it's ready charm.
So I was rather amused to read this piece by Iain yesterday, for which he got some flak from some of his readers for not being political enough. It concerns the possibility of MP's taking part in a TV show where they undergo some sort of SAS training and are pitted against each other. So basically it's war games minus the paintball guns and super soakers.
Worth watching? Definetly ;)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Coming To America

Just to let you know that in early March I will be in Chicago, getting first-hand knowledge of what a US Presidential election campaign is like.
I will be with Barack Obama's campaign team and will be away for a week. Hopefully I will be able to blog from Windy City, but if not it won't be for long.
Will let you know how things develop, am rather excited by all this to be honest, if a little nervous, as I have never been to the US before, let alone mixing with US politicos (although obviously I met some of Obama's supporters in London recently)

Fly Me To The Moon

Am rather intrigued by this, and rather enthusiastic too. That said however, I think we should wait for a year or so and see how the Global Economy pans out.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Speilberg Vs China

Making a move like this takes some bravery because from somewhere there will be flak in response.
And after the even more brave comments from Richard Vaughan, one hopes that more people will sit up and take notice of how China is using it's position as a member of the UN Security Council.
There is much to give praise with regards to the Chinese nation, and indeed it has come a long way since it's isolationist years, but because it allows private enterprise, more freedom of movement, and a desire for continued dialogue, does not mean it is a nation above criticism when it does something wrong. No more and no less than any other nation.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Ashes To Ashes: The Review

Have been galvanized into blogging on this by Paul Linford and apologies for the delay, but I do have a life outside the Internet ;)
In short it was excellent, the production team overcame the potentially difficult task of packing in the backstory of Life On Mars and how Alex Drake went into a coma in under an hour fairly easily. The characters were well written, although (and here is my criticism) they did overplay Gene Hunt being the saviour of the moment a bit too much, especially with the use of music. That said, his opening line was just pure Gene Hunt genius.
The knowingness Alex has of her situation also helps, as the production rightly assumes that we know that the 1981 she "inhabits" are full of "imaginary constructs". This makes things easier for the audience, although in following that line they do deviate from some small, but important plot elements in Life On Mars. For example, Alex is not in every single scene, if she was it would have added to the sense of her world being that of "imaginary constructs".
I did find throughoughly enjoyable though, and liked the sinister use of the Pierrot Clown and George and Zippy fromRainbow , children's TV characters (well Zippy anyway) who I detested at the time and still do.
In turn, that leads me to ask my readers and fellow bloggers a worthwhile question; What were you doing in July 1981? As for me I was just finishing my first year at Primary School, have a vague memory of watching Charles and Di getting married, and had Record Breakers, The Adventure Game, and Blue Peter as my favourite TV programmes.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Archbishop And The Sharia Law

I have to say I was shocked when Rowan Williams suggested this. I have met him briefly on a couple of occasions, and on that experience and from what I have read and seen of him, he seems to be an intelligent and thoughtful guy.
However on this occasion I think he has ended up in a blind alley. We cannot have a system in this country where it is one set of laws for one culture and another set of laws for another. It will lead to a sense of resentment and confusion and help divide the country when we need to understand and work together accross the cultural barriers that exist.
One way to do that is to help uphold the law and it's framework in a way that benefits many, if not all of it's citizens. If people have a problem with a certain law, then campaign to get it changed, but what the Archbishop says will not work and is unhelpful to all concerned

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Obama Abroad

Last night I was at a small event in London along with other Labour4Obama supporters*, where some Democrat voters in the UK who support Barack Obama met up for the first time.
For me, it was the first time I got to meet with a no of his supporters, inc one or two members of his campaign team. It also raises the possibility that this time next month I might be in the US observing some of the action first-hand
Watch this space.

* Labour4Obama is independent of the Labour Party. It consists of individual members who support Barack Obama.

Grange Hill R.I.P.

The list of Children's TV Shows beloved by the BBC, that are no more is endless. Mr. Benn, Camberwick Green, Play School, Record Breakers, We Are The Champions (no nothing to do with Queen ;) ), the list is endless (although to be fair, some of those got repeated endlessly. Only Play School and Record Breakers lasted for years)
Now Grange Hill is soon to join that graveyard, and yesterday with some sorrow, I texted a no of friends with the sad news, although the reaction was mixed.
To be fair though, the feeling is the same as that of a childhood teddy in the loft. You don't see or particually care about it for years, but as soon as the threat of extinction or parting happens, then all the nostalga comes back, coupled with the hurt of potential parting.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Super Tuesday

Well I would have been surprised if either Obama or Clinton had a clear lead over the other, but I think it's the first time in a while that no clear candidate has emerged at this stage of a Presidential election campaign. That said it looks like McCain may well be the Republicans choice for November and in any case it seems to be turning out to being one of the most exciting Presidential races ever.

Munich Fifty Years On

Imagine if there was a plane crash with one of England's Premier football teams on board and around half of them get killed in the crash
It's too awful to contemplate, but that is exactly what happened to Manchester United fifty years ago today. For many of us who are definetly not United fans, it is a disaster which we feel almost as keenly as the people of Manchester and remember as a black day for footbal in general.
Our thoughts especially go today towards the survivors who are still alive today and the relatives of those killed in the crash.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Bishops Call For New Lenten Pledge

Two words for this: Very Sensible.
One of the great things about Lent is that we look at ways to be good to ourselves and other people in a more imaginative way. Considering the problems we have with climate change, perahps we should do less navel gazing and look around a bit more at the exciting world we live in and what we can do as part of a big gesture.

Duke of York Criticises Bush Administration

Not a story in itself, but for the fact he is fourth in line to the throne and that the Royal Family is meant to be above commenting on sensitive political issues.

Paul's Blog Posts Of The Week

Annie Porthouse on tithing and keeping Sunday special

Cally's Kitchen on "Super Duper Tuesday"

Rupa Huq on the need to make progress in the fight against the BNP

Tim Roll-Pickering on the vulnerability on the Internet

WongaBlog on visiting Birmingham Symphony Hall (great place)

Brighton Regency Labour Supporter on PR and the difficulties of arguning for it (Personally I am still enamoured by AV)

Normblog on British identity

Don Paskini on whether we should bring forth another windfall tax

PooterGeek on being stalked by celebrities

Ellee Seymour has a list on some of the most useless inventions ever

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XXXV: Sarah Hagger-Holt

Sarah Hagger-Holt works for the Methodist Church in the UK and was recently involved with the MRDF in Ethiopia. You can read her blog here.

How did you get involved in blogging?

I've only really dipped my toe in the world of blogging, writing a blog just for a couple of weeks during my first visit to Ethiopia in order to share the experience with friends, colleagues and supporters of MRDF, the charity that I worked for.

What is your best blogging experience?

Most of the blog entries were written from a conference centre in Addia Ababa where I was staying with 60+ delegates from a dozen African countries, all staff from small, highly committed voluntary organisations. The best experience was getting several of them to contribute to the blog and see them share their experiences with a wider audience.

And your worst?

Blogging from Ethiopia is hard, finding an internet connection, waiting ages for pages to download - the government monitors and sometimes blocks internet use and mobile phone connections making these sometimes impossible to use effectively.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

Not for me to say.

Favourite blogs? and

How did you get involved with MRDF and end up in Ethiopia?

I'd been working for MRDF, and international development charity rooted in the UK Methodist Church, for four and a half and travelled to India and Ghana with them before to visit some inspiring projects, helping very disadvantaged people. Ethiopia was different because it was an opportunity for MRDF partner organisations across Africa to meet each other and share skills to help them fight poverty in their own areas. I was lucky enough to go as a reporter and recorder and to learn lots myself!

What should be people's main concerns with regard to East Africa?

Of course Kenya's very much in the news at the moment and the situation there is a grave worry for all of East Africa. Ethiopia is a country with high levels of poverty, but with so much strength and resilience and such a fascinating history - my biggest concern is that we in the UK don't see Ethiopia solely through a 'Live Aid-lens', it's so much more than that!

How can people get involved with MRDF on a volunteer basis?

Check out - volunteer in our London office, use Bible study and church materials in your church or group, campaign on climate change and trade or run the London 10K for us - there's lots of things you can do!

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

Jordan - to see Petra and experience another side of the Middle East.

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

Actually, Ethiopia, I only saw a tiny part of a fascinating country full of variety and would love to travel around the country.

Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

The Pankhurst sisters and all those who struggled and didn't give up to extend the vote to women. They weren't afraid of anyone, were prepared to make real sacrifices and, I have a hunch, loved making trouble and embarassing those in power!

Which Christian figure has been your greatest inspiration?

Archbishop Tutu, someone unafraid to stand up for unpopular causes, to take risks and also to laugh at his oppressors.

Favourite Bond movie?

Not a big fan, I'm afraid....

Favorite Doctor Who?

Doctor Who used to give me nightmares as a kid - which still puts me off! I liked it when Janet Ellis was in it though.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Vanilla. Every time.

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

Pet Shop Boys (if anyone can get me tickets...)

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


Favourite national newspaper?

The Methodist Recorder (okay, that's not true, actually the Guardian)

What would you say your hobbies were?

drinking tea, reading, charity-shopping, making soup

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

It's too tough to pick one...But if I have to try, maybe 'A Prayer for Owen Meany' by John Irving, or 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte (I know that's two, but there's plenty more where that came from!)...And a song - 'I've known rivers' by Courtney Pine makes my spine tingle every time.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Families Working At Westminster

I am honestly in two minds on this issue, as many of the MP's who employ their families appear to be above board in how they handle the issue. Some indeed work in a volunteer capacity. However we do need to regulate the issue, and am glad there is a cross-party consenus on this. I particually agreed with Simon Hughes about having a one family member policy.

Mars Hill Blog Stats (Jan 2008)

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

London, Lancaster, Wolverhampton, Toronto, Copperas Cove, Tempe, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Manchester, Sheffield

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

United Kingdom

United States



New Zealand

The Phillippines





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) Recess Monkey (NEW-ish)


3) Guido Fawkes (NEW)

4) The Last Ditch (NEW-ish)

5) Freemania (+ 4)

6) Labourhome (NEW)

7) British Blogs (- 5)

8) Rupa Huq (- 4)

9) Kerron Cross - The Voice of the Delectable Left (- 6)

10) Cassilis (- 5)

Out of the Top Ten are Cally's Kitchen (14th place), Prague Tory, Paul Linford (11th place), Tim Roll-Pickering (12th place), and Iain Dale (15th place)

Top Ten Searchwords that lead people to my blog

derek conway



david watson evangelist

jeremy clarkson's websites

blogs banned china

hope littlejohn

mars hill

paul burgin

barack obama in martin l k church