Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hillary Flies Into Danger

I know, comes across as one of those gosh, golly, and wild abandon short stories for boys and girls this side of the Atlantic some fifty years ago. Only the thing is, as we know now, that this wasn't exactly the case with Senator Clinton.
It's like the Northern Ireland incident, you find yourself asking why there is any need to do this? The woman is very able and qualified, she has a CV a lot of people would be more than proud to have and what is more she is quite a formidable person. I know some politicians have a touch of the Walter Mitty about them but at the end of the day the only person you are fooling is yourself. It seems therefore to be a shame that Hillary Clinton seems to have less belief in her abilities as her supporters have.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tintin Actor Found

Further to this, they have now apparently cast already for the two leading roles. Thomas Sangster from Love Actually is to play Tintin and Andy Serkis from The Lord of the Rings is to play Captain Haddock.
The next question is which of the comic books (if any of them), will be dramatised.

Macmillan On Stage

It's not often that I really want to see a West End play, but this is one of them, although I doubt I will get the chance.
Obviously given my politics, there are not many Conservative Prime Ministers who are heroes of mine, but there are two postwar PM's who I hold in high esteem. Churchill being one and Macmillan being another.
Perhaps it was the fact that Harold Macmillan was possibly the most left-wing Tory PM there was (honestly, those of us on the left never had it so good ;) ), but also he was someone who never let the sufferings that were inflicted on him in life get the better of him; whether it was the painful wounds he suffered during the First World War, his unhappy marriage and his wife's long affair with a politically dangerous maverick (plus the knowledge that he was not the father of "their" youngest child), his years of isolation as one of Churchill's supporters against appeasement, or indeed being mocked by the younger generation as an out-of-touch Edwardian fuddyduddy who was perhaps more aware of the shifting sands of political power and culture than they were. Macmillan overcame all that and proved himself to be one of the most capable and long-lasting of the postwar PM's. History has indeed been kind to him since his passing some twenty years agoand he has deserved it.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Ashes To Ashes. Last Episode of Series One

I won't spoil it for you, suffice to say it was funny in parts, heartbreaking in others and there was more than one twist in the story. I managed to work out who the clown was several episodes ago, but even so I was shocked by how things turned out.
And there will be a second series as well :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Driving Lessons

I did hesitate about blogging on this, as it is rather personal, but I do have a secret that I am a bit ashamed of but which I felt I ought to share as I know I am not alone.
I don't drive.
By that I don't mean I don't have a car, or am making a statement, or never even had a driving test, it's simply that I never have.
The reasons are varied, most of them down to procrastination. I decided to wait until my year out, delayed it, twittered about my chances of passing given my dyspraxia, got high and mighty about doing my bit for the environment (although I was always happy to accept any offered lifts and I have an embarrassingly large carbon footprint already), and simply felt it was an inconvenient time in my life to have one.
But then there never is a convenient time for these things. If I always took that view, I would never have had my year out, would never have taken one of the best jobs I had, would never have entered two of the relationships I have been in, would never have visited the US, and (lets face it), the benefits of driving outweigh the cons.
So I have bitten the bullet and this week, instead of making half-hearted inquiries, I have arranged to collect a provisional driving licence and start lessons within the next three weeks or so.
Will try and keep you posted. Am scared, but hopeful and rather excited! When 2008 started I knew it wasn't going to be a dull and boring year, but I didn't realise quite how exciting it would be :). It seems to be the year in which things happen.

Doctor Who Series Four

Many of you will have seen this trailer already, but it has just been officially released online, whereas previously it was only an official cinema release.
And if you don't know, it starts in a week-and-a-half's time, plus repeats :) (I will be out when the first episode is broadcast)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Last Night at Hertsmere CLP

Click here to read my post on the debate I was involved with last night at Hertsmere CLP on Church and State.
Basically it went around almost in circles, but I think we all took away with us some fresh ways of thinking on the issues.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cross-Party Friendship

Browsing through some of my favourite blogs this morning, I read on one of Iain Dale's twitter updates, the question as to whether you can genuinely be friends with people from other political parties?
My immediate answer is yes, provided you know how to divorce politics from personality. In fact I would go so far as to say that it even helps sometimes because your respect for your opponent helps you to temper your approach in making a critical point i.e.managing to avoid getting too stroppy on occasion and working at trying to persuade your friend/opponent on the merits of your argument. Obviously that sometimes fails miserably, but like all aspects of friendship, worth working on. It's almost like being friends with someone who is passionately against your favourite football team, or does not share your faith (or lack of), or who thinks that the UK's next Eurovision entry is an act of musical genius comparable with the works of Lennon/McCartney!
I suppose my best friend in the Conservative Party is Tim Roll-Pickering. Now I reserve the right to regard Tim's politics as misguided, but we get on on other issues, namely a shared appreciation of Sci-Fi and, as I said before, if he is ever at the same count as me on an election night where Labour win and the Conservatives lose, whilst I would be delighted, I hope I would have the presence of mind to buy him a drink and show a certain degree of empathy. I think he would do the same if the roles were reversed, but I suspect we will both be in Old People's homes if that ever happens ;). In any case it does mean we both actually listen to each other and take on board any points one of us makes that the other thinks is worth considering.
So yes I think you can have friends across the political divide, it's just that, like all friendships, they need to be handled with care :)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Paul's blog posts of the week

Cally's Kitchen on why The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency made good TV last night (actually so was Terry Pratchet's The Colour of Magic. Worth watching or reading, or both :) )

Kerron Cross on being sized up for a kilt for his wedding

Rupa Huq is currently part of a Foreign Office delegation in Bangladesh

Tim Roll-Pickering on why disrupting Cathedral services is neither big or clever

Philip Purser-Hallard on why it's pointless to out Arthur C. Clarke, even posthumously

WongaBlog on Now That's What I Call Innuendo

Labourhome's Huffington Post on Obama's recent brilliant speech

Lords of the Blog is up and running

Luke Akehurst on the value of Greens casting their second preference

Iain Dale gives us his "Top 75 Political Books" (Note, John O'Farrell's brilliant "Things Can Only Get Better", beloved by Labour activists, is not among them)

Linda Jack on Elias Chacour, the Archbishop of the Melikite Church in Israel

Paul Linford on the return of those children who came from a different age and culture (makes me yearn to see Five Go Mad in Dorset again ;) )

Rachel from North London on city wildlife

Giving a Horse a Lift!

Sometimes the lack of common sense people have, in spite of their big hearts, is unbelievable, but it's even more shocking that the hospital allows pets in at all!

Friday, March 21, 2008

R.I.P. Brian Wilde

One you consider that, apart from Peter Sallis, he was the last of the pre-1997 old men in Last of the Summer Wine, and that he was the last surviving main actor in Porridge, one feels an era has passed.
Hat tip to Tim Roll-Pickering.

Good Friday

Well today I conducted my first ecumenical service. Just a short one; fifteen minutes, with just two hymns, prayers, and a four-minute sermon on the humanity of Christ. But I was nervous, although it seems to have gone down well.
One of the things I like about Easter is that I like to reflect on what Christ's ministry meant, what it means for me to be a Christian, and where it all fits in my life and, dare I say it, the lives of others. So finding oneself feeling a bit smug and superior about news items like this does make you try and bring things into perspective. After all, but for the grace of God as they say

Thursday, March 20, 2008

How to deal with Cameron at the dispatch box

I always feel for Gordon Brown when he gets into the bear pit that is PMQ's. Week after week being mauled by David Cameron who I suspect has spent a long while perfecting his bullying tactics. The price for one gladiator being good on policy and the other being good on soundbites and media presentation.
Yesterday was no exception as the PM was expecting a rough ride, only for David Cameron to decide to heap praise on him. No doubt wanting to do the reverse of Mark Anthony "burying" Ceasar at his funeral.
As was no doubt the intention, it wrong-footed the PM, which was unfortunate because it doesn't take much to slap down David Cameron.
This is a man who is politically shallow. The man who stated that he wanted to see the end of "Punch and Judy politics" and yet who engages in it on a frequent level. This is a man who has cycled to work, alerting the press that he is doing so, in order to show his commitment to the environment, whilst having his car ferry his day's work, tailing not far behind.
On one occasion when the PM scored a hit at PMQ's he stated that Cameron can rehearse his speeches all day in front of the mirror , but at the end of the day it is policies which matter. That worked because that is it is generally perceived. There may be blows and punches rained down on Labour but the real problem is getting our ideas and successes across, which we have done well with so far, such as national minimum wage, New Deal, low unemployment, unprecedented aid to Third World Countries. Providing when can ride through the potential of a global recession and provided we get our ideas across, that fourth term is ours for the taking.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Express Delivery

I have tended to always have a low opinion of the Daily Express for it's nastiness, it's excuse for reporting stories, and it's lack of self-awareness and hypocrisy.
So I was glad to see them get their comeuppance over their reporting on the Madeline McCann case, although it's awful that Kate and Gerry McCann have had to suffer yet another indignity as they try and find out what has happened to their daughter. Thankfully they have had the bravery and stamina to fight back and the results of which we can see here.

The Early Morning Knuckle Punch

Well more of a small biff on the nose really. Iain Dale urges people to support Boris Johnson as their patriotic duty. Now there is an old quote about people who readily use patriotism as an argument and I respect and like Iain enough(as infuriating as some of his comments are), not to consider him among those people. That said it was a deflated point.
To be honest I don't think Johnson a good candidate for Mayor, mainly because his clumsy way of saying things has already got him in trouble with members of London's black community.
I would also point out that I wouldn't really want to see Boris Johnson's face when he loses. I would want to see David Cameron's and George Osborne's because Boris's standing was their idea and if Boris loses it will reflect badly on them. But if previous experience has anything to go by I would then feel guilty for having a moment of vindictive sadism.
I sometimes wonder where my niche is in politics, I really do

Anthony Minghella, Arthur C. Clarke, and that drummer from ABBA

You know those times when you hear of the unexpected death of someone famous, and your first thought is "Oh no" partly because it is a tragedy in itself, partly because you know the World will be poorer for their passing. Well that is the very thought I had this afternoon when I heard that Anthony Minghella had died.
One of the finest directors of recent years, some of his films could almost be termed as works of art. I don't know of anyone, for example, who has not seen The English Patient and not been moved by the two epic passion-filled love stories that exist within the film. I was looking forward to seeing an episode of Verity Lambert's swan song series, Love Soup this week, it looks like the other TV drama I was looking forward to watching is yet another swan song.
I have also just heard that Arthur C. Clarke has died today. Given his age it isn't entirely unexpected, but he was definetly a living legend and leaves behind an impressive body of work, not least The Sentinel, which was made into the film 2001: A Space Odyssey
Finally, there is the heartbreaking story about the recent death of ABBA's session drummer, Ola Brunkert. Session musicians are often unsung heroes, and Brunkert was no exception. He worked with ABBA just about from beginning to end and just about any ABBA song you hear will have the drums played by him.
Yet again we are seeing how precious and vulnerable life is and how much we take it for granted.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

London Mayoral Race Underway

Well it's officially started. Lets hope and pray it's of the clean variety and not of the bare-knuckle boxing fight in a barn somewhere!

The McCartney Divorce Settlement

I honestly don't see what Heather Mills has to complain about (allegedly she wanted more and what's wrong with £15 mill). For a start, a lot of people would be more than happy with what she has got, and with regards to her daughter many people live on less than £35.000 per year and what is wrong with B Class Flights! I recently flew economy class on Virgin Atlantic and felt that I was getting good service, and with regards to fame and security you don't mean to say that Sir Paul McCartney would allow his daughter to be at risk in any way!
The words Grow and Up spring to mind

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lords of the Blog

Have been waiting for this for about a month now and hopefully it will help encourage interest in the workings of Parliament

Hillary and Northern Ireland

Was waiting for this story to come out for about for about a fortnight. Just what kind of important foreign policy stuff do Presidential spouses do as a rule?
It's not "nitpicking", it's questioning a line in a political CV that gives a wrong impression. Hillary Clinton did chair a couple of Women's Coalition group meetings and all credit, but why not simply say that instead of using the umbrella phrase "peace talks" which can be interpreted any no of ways!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Talking to Al Qaeda

I wish some people would realise that we are not dealing with your run-of-the-mill terrorist here (if there is such a thing), who wants independence for their provence/country, or who wants to extort large sums of money or the aid of international crime. What we are dealing with here are theocratic psychopaths who follow a culture of death, who have a martyrdom complex, and whose warped interpretation of the religion they profess to follow does not allow for any compromise as that means diluting their beliefs. We are talking about people who had no compunction about killing thousands of innocent people in one day in order to make a sick point and who want to enforce their beliefs on others. What these men deserve is to be hunted down, captured, put on trial, and then locked away (because aside from my distaste for executing people, these sort will welcome the death penalty if nothing else) for the term of their natural lives!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Welcome to the Bear Pit

The Christian Socialist Movement, of which I am a member, have asked me to represent them at a debate with the Labour Humanist Group which will be hosted by the Hertsmere CLP and will take place within the next fortnight (details to follow).
This is the first time I have actually been invited to represent any individual or organisation in a debate outside the area where I live and I am a little bit nervous and wonder if I will be flayed alive (metaphorically of course ;) )!
But then religion and politics are my two favourite topics of conversation and I do relish a good challenge, otherwise I would not have done have the political and spiritual things I have done in my life so far.
That said, prayers appreciated, or positive thoughts ;)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Another False Alarm

But the police did absolutely the right thing throughout. Having used Heathrow Airport to go to and from the US in the past week I can tell you security is tight to the point where you feel a bit nervous, esp when entering the US. It can also be irritating, esp when you have to do things like taking your belt and shoes off as I did, but today has reminded us why it is all there and thank God they are vigilant. It's times like this that I remember the IRA's chilling message after the Brighton Bomb that they only have to be lucky once. A sobering thought indeed!

I Get Interviewed By The Comet

My recent visit to the US has sparked local attention, here is an interview I recently gave to The Comet newspaper, one of the local newspapers where I live.


Someone left this post on my blog. I haven't published it because the person gave their e-mail address, but I thought I would share it with you because I was rather touched by it:

My name is Kimberly Searcy (Chicagoan) and Senator Obama supportor. I've been a follower of Senator Obama since 2002. I happen to be reading an article about your visit to Chicago that referenced your blog site. I just wanted to send a big thank you from Chicago supporters and supporters all around the state and nation who understands that "now" is a time for change. With help from willing people like you, we can be very successful with the change that is necessary, that change that Senator Obama embodies. Just a final note, I traveled down to Ohio to canvas and get the vote out. I met people from N.Y., N.J. , Indianpolis, etc. I too, understand the warmth and connection that all Obama supporters have. An absolute amazing experience. Thank you again for your voice and spirit.

But as it is I can't take the full credit for my visit. If my sister hadn't of insisted that I go, I wouldn't have been there, plus Kris and Kate did a lot as well :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Paul' blog posts of the week

Bit late, but I am sure you can understand why

Cally's Kitchen reviews The Other Boleyn Girl

Kerron Cross wonders if hair-straighteners are from the devil
(given the photographic evidence I am wondering ;) )

Rupa Huq shares my growing contempt for the Evening Standard

Tim Roll-Pickering has an excellent review of one of my favourite Doctor Who stories

Iain Dale on Ann Widdecombe's latest target

I'm Back

Left Monday afternoon, arrived around midday Tuesday (due to flight delays), and am now gradually recovering from Jet lag. Haven't been up long as I have slept for nearly twelve hours.
Just heard about Mississippi. Great news, and alongside Wyoming, am very proud to have been involved in seeing those two primaries go to Senator Obama. Oh and being denounced by Senator Clinton, among other activists and campaigners as a "latte sipping activist". I know for a fact that some of us don't touch lattes, that our food and drink tastes are varied, but so are the tastes of the American people (to use a ready cliche), and that's what matters ;)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Following Barack Day Seven

Well last night Kris and I gave a farewell lunch for George Rosenblit, our host, and this morning I got up before eight and set aside time to pack, wash, change, and have breakfast without feeling rushed and set off for Ogilvie for 11:30 this morning. Am now telephone canvassing and have just had a quick lunch, and will head off for O'Hare International Airport at 2PM via rail.
As I said before I am feeling sad to go and feeling a bit lonely as well as I am travelling home on my own with experiences that aren't shared by the family and friends waiting for me, but hey, that's life!
Am very glad I came though and, if I get the chance, will be happy to come back and help again later this year. I really doubt that will happen, but if it does it will be good.

Signing Off from Chicago, and here's to Mississippi tomorrow


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Following Barack Day Six

Today is a bit of a mixture of emotions for us. On one hand the omens are good in Mississippi, on the other it is the day Kate goes back to London and I am starting to prepare to go home tomorrow.
But it's all good and today we had a bit of a lie in, before breakfast and travelling down to Ogilvie Station for the last time as a trio.
The past few hours have been spent telephone canvassing, meeting new volunteers, and making more friends on Facebook from the campaign. Plus saying goodbye to Kate who managed to get organised to go straight to O'Hare airport with great panache and skill. The next twenty-four hours won't be the same without her, as she has been the one who has made the most contacts, had the most knowledge of how to get around, and, being a business consultant, has one of the best organisational skills used with the minimum of fuss that I have seen.
Anyway, there is more work to do and I will soon be at Highland Park with Kris, giving a farewell meal for George Rosenblit and his helper Jesse, who have looked after us so well. The people here are just brilliant, warm, approachable and friendly, with interest in Brits being over to help meaning that we have already been interviewed by amatuer and professional local media outlets on both sides of the Pond. But hey, it helps show how worthwhile and very important Senator Obama's campaign is :-)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Following Barack Day Five

A bit of a varied day so far. Got up just before Six AM and set off for the main headquarters of Barack Obama's campaign, where volunteers were receving calls predominantly from Wyoming regarding enquiries to do with today's caucus in that state. One thing I have learnt from that experience this morning and from what I have heard later on, is that turnout is high and, at the time of writing, Senator Obama has an almost 20% lead over Hillary Clinton.
Around lunchtime Kate and I decided to do some more work at volunteer HQ, and so travelled several blocks to what has become a friendly and familiar volunteer area. I can't say how much the warmth Senator Obama's supporters have and the friendly way we have been treated and the whole day has just flown by. Whilst I will be glad to meet up with family and friends in the UK, I will be sad to leave here. I certainly feel that I have made some friends.
Well the focus right here is on Mississippi for Monday's primary and the omens look good. They certainly do in Wyoming and I am tentatively looking forward to tonight. As I keep saying, the show's not over until the well proportioned lady sings ;)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Following Barack Day Four

Well today is spent telephone canvassing voters in Wyoming, encouraging them to support Barack Obama at their Caucus meetings tomorrow.
There is also heavy campaigning for tomorrow's congressional election in Illonois 14th Congressional District. This is esp important as the Democratic candidate is a Barack Obama supporter.
Well Kris, Kate, and I will be elsewhere tomorrow, following Senator Obama's campaign and the week has been going somewhat quickly. I will be a bit disapointed to leave so soon (on Mon evening), but it's good experience and it will be good to be back home. Plus I have learnt a lot about campaign skills, tactics, and attitudes. Oh and not to have bagels and eggs for breakfast, followed by corn beef hash for lunch! My stomach has only just settled down properly.
And here's to Wyoming tomorrow :)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Photo of me in Chicago

Taken just over an hour ago at Union Street Station, just up the road from Obama's volunteer campaign HQ. Film buffs will recognise at as the place where the bookkeeper was arrested in The Untouchables

Following Barack Day Three

Well this morning the concentration is on Saturday's primary in Wyoming, very much the Mid-West. It's interesting, although like before, hopeful caution is the phrase I would use.
This evening Kate, Kris, and I will be at a performance of one of Beethoven's pieces at Symphony Hall (I forget to my shame whether it is a symphony being performed).
Incidentally check out this piece I have just left on the Labourhome site.

Following Barack Day Two

Well it turns out that Ohio was not so bad (Clinton got a ten point lead as opposed to sixteen as feared), and with all the votes totted up, Barack Obama should do well at the Convention in a few months time, although, as we all know, the show isn't over until the well-proportioned lady sings.
So after the Primaries yesterday, today was a day off for Kate, Kris, and myself. A late wake up, a brunch at a diner, followed by a visit to Sears Tower, followed by a general lookaround, an evening meal at an Irish themed pub.
Then we got to see "Between Barack and a New Show" at Second City. Now for those who don't know, Second City is a comedy theatre where the likes of Alan Alda, John Belushi, and Mike Myers started their trade and the impressive talents at this evening's sketch show is definetly worthy of Saturday Night Live.
Anyway it's very late over here, so I will call it a night, esp as Kris is waiting to use the computer

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Following Barack Day One (Evening)

Well it's evening here and Polls have closed in the four states having their primaries. Texas, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Ohio. I have to say that Ohio does not look good and, first hand, it looked 50-50 to me throughout the day. But, overall, it looks like Barack Obama is in for a good night, provided he does well in Texas. It's been good today. Have enjoyed an american meal of corned beef hash for lunch, spent a short while looking around this bit of the City Centre with Kate and Kris and spent the afternoon here at the volunteer HQ doing the same things as this morning. Plus filming some stuff for later, as well as taking pictures. I also found out what forming a caucus is with regards to Texas. Basically it means people organising a small group who decide to back a particular candidate.
Well it's a bit euphoric here and right now CNN is blaring on a huge screen at the front. Tomorrow, or later today in the UK, we will see how well Barack Obama does and whether it is, realistically, the end for Hillary Clinton.

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XXXVII: Linda Jack

Linda Jack has a background in Teaching and Youth Work and as active trade unionist, now working for the FSA on their Financial Capability Strategy. She served as Lib Dem Councillor until May and is currently sitting on Federal Policy and International Relations Committees. Linda is also a former PPC for Luton North, currently PEPC for Eastern Region. Trustee for Elijah Trust, a charity working with the Arab Palestinian Citizens of Israel. She have a particular concern for the Bedouin in the Negev. Motivated by injustice of any kind. You can read her blog here.

What made you decide to start blogging?

I started during our last but one leadership election just over two years ago because a few people were slagging off Simon Hughes, and then I just got the bug!

What is your best blogging experience?

Probably the first time I discovered a blog had reached no 1 on the aggregate for the day - I was stunned, I think the title was 'Iain Dale with his knickers in a twist’!

And your worst?

When my fellow bloggers were baying for my blood because of the mild comments I had made about Ming on WATO, I think I am pretty good at defending others but find it incredibly difficult to defend myself.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

It is hard for me to judge, but between a couple that my peers have nominated Multiculturalism, the latest moral panic? Or Let’s Lock up our Children why don’t we?

Favourite blogs?

Political Betting, Lib Dem Voice and Paul Walter

What inspired you to go into politics?

I have always been one to take up a fight when I believe people are being treated unfairly. I am particularly inspired by the Old Testament prophets, especially Isaiah and Amos – railing against those who “trample the needy and do away with the poor” and constantly challenging injustice. I often say that my first attempt at collective bargaining was in the army and it didn't go down too well! In fact I got threatened with a charge of mutiny - which was the only offence punishable by death at the time, so I am ashamed to say I backed down! Then as a student I got involved in student politics, ending up as President of my SU against the odds. I think it was my poster campaign wot won it! I had beautiful posters with slogans like 'The UNION needs JACK' and 'Come up Trumps with Jack' and 'Put Jack in the Box' (under which someone had scribbled 'and close the lid!')

You are involved with the Elijah Trust, for the benefit of Mars Hill readers, tell us what it does exactly?

Elijah Trust is a charity which was set up initially to support Mar Elias Educational Institutions founded by Elias Chacour (now Archbishop in Galillee) but now we have a wider brief to support Palestinian citizens of Israel in general, we also partner with Mossawa a human rights organisation based in Haifa. My particular interest is in the Bedouin community living in the unrecognised villages in the Negev, who though Israeli citizens are hugely discriminated against without access to water, electricity, roads and very limited health care and education.

How did you find being Lib Dem PPC for Luton North?

It was great fun, the pressure was off because it wasn't a winnable seat for us, although I was amused when I got asked to do an interview with Radio 4s PM. I thought they were confused with Luton South (a seat we thought we could have won) but they said 'No, we think Luton North could be a shock result' to which I replied ' there'll be noone more shocked than me!'. The highlight for me was the young people's hustings organised by 3 Counties Radio. I was nervous (having been a youth worker most of my life I should have done OK) but, it was great and I got a phenomenal response from the young people.

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

So many places, but probably somewhere like Alaska where I could see the Northern Lights

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

My pal from work, Martin and I did a bit of consultancy work in Trinidad about 18 months ago and we stopped off for 3 days in Barbados on the way home - it was idyllic and I would love to go back.

Who, excluding the present leader, do you regard as the best Liberal Democrat/Liberal/SDP Party leader, and if different, the best Prime Minister?

Leadership wise Paddy - his worth is now recognised as an international statesman, what a pity he never had the opportunity to be Prime Minister.

Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?

I am going to be cheeky answering this as I have seen others have! Greatest living inspiration is Desmond Tutu - he was on telly the other day and was asked how he wanted to be remembered he said 'he loved, he laughed, he cried' what an epitaph! I have a Tshirt with a quote from him 'I am wondering which bible people are reading when they say religion and politics don't mix' closely followed by our own party President - Simon Hughes who has always been an inspiration to me.

Favourite Bond movie?

Probably The Spy who Loved me.

Favorite Doctor Who?

Tom Baker - could it be anyone else?! Although it has to be said I still hide behind the settee when Dr Who is on!

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Ooooh, all 3!

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

Queen when Freddie Mercury was alive

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

Cambridge - I love it

Favourite national newspaper?


What would you say your hobbies were?

I like the way you phrase this - what would I SAY my hobbies were - perfect for me as I hardly get anytime to persue them anymore! I used to love all sorts of artycrafty things, making paper, painting, illumination, sketching. I used to be an art student and had ambitions to be a silversmith - maybe an ambition for retirement now....... So now I usually only get time to do a bit of photography and swimming.

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

Favourite songs - this is a movable feast depending on my mood and level of nostalgia - but today they are – These are the days of our lives – Queen, Lenny Bruce is dead – Bob Dylan and if I am allowed a classic, I know that my redeemer lives – Handel. Books - Blood Brothers – Elias Chacour (The book that has inspired me most about the Israel/Palestine situation) Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen and Primary Colours – Joe Klein

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Obama and Cameron?!?

Iain Dale compares Barack Obama to David Cameron in the Guardian's Comment Is Free. Speaking individually, I think not for this very reason:

"Obama and Cameron are both opposition politicians, yet one of them finds it easier to resonate with hopeful, optimistic language than the other. American politics can be much less partisan than ours here in Britain. You may oppose your president, but the office carries with it an aura and respect which is lacking in the British prime ministership. David Cameron loathes Gordon Brown (the feeling is clearly mutual) and makes no attempt to hide the fact. Because of our more confrontational approach to political life he can just about get away with displaying his contempt. But he mustn't overdo it. A basic level of courtesy needs to exist in public life. Neil Kinnock learned very quickly that people didn't like it when he was overtly rude to Margaret Thatcher. Even his allies winced at some of his barbs.
Oppositional politics isn't easy, particularly when you have promised to abandon "
Punch and Judy politics". OK, so that promise lasted approximately three weeks"

For one thing Cameron cannot control his personal contempt for Gordon Brown and it does show and, hopefully, it will rebound against him. It certainly shows on George Osborne. That said, Obama has shown tremendous dignity in his critiques against his opponents (see here) and has proven himself to be above Punch and Judy politics. To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, "Mr Cameron you are no Barack Obama"

Following Barack Day One

Right now I am at a telephone canvassing bank in Chicago where the Obama team are telephoning people in Ohio for today's primary. I am starting to get used to this as we arrived at the HQ yesterday evening and spent two hours there. Managed, managed somehow to avoid listening to my body telling me it was 1AM GMT, in spite of the nap on the plane, and glad we did some work as this morning, Chicago time, does feel like morning.
We also have a good host in George Rosenblit, who Kris, Kate, and I have been staying with in Highland Park, some 25 miles away. This morning he treated us to eggs, bagels, and English muffins, just for us :)
The omens look good for Obama, but we cannot take this for granted, esp Ohio, so tonights results will be interesting.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Right Then!

Am off to Chicago. I hope to blog whilst over there about the exciting things that are happening, but it could be that I don't blog for another week. Either way I am in for an exciting time and, God willing, will keep you all informed at some point

Paul's Blog Posts of the Week

A day earlier than usual as I will obviously be busy tomorrow.

Kerron Cross on the government scrapping plans for super casinos

Rupa Huq on single sex swimming (Incidentally, David T eventually won the argument)

Andrew Philip on 100 Favourite Scottish Football Poems

Antonia Bance on the despair that is a beauty contest

Luke Akehurst on why we cannot be flippant about Boris Johnson

Mike Ion on the one policy that is the Tories' achilles heel, but which they cannot psychologically walk away from. Slashing public services with cuts

Don Paskini on the situation most bloggers have been through

Tygerland feels homeless. In the blogging sense that is!

Stephen Tall may kill off his own blog. I am with Iain on this!

Iain Dale states that Gordon Brown was the winner at last PMQ's. Why thankyou Iain ;)

Paul Linford on why some of us find Jonathan Ross irritating at times

Jim Wallis takes shock jock, Bill Cunningham, to task over his attempts to smear Barack Obama

Harry Wins His Spurs

I don't think I am alone in saying that in the past few days my respect for Prince Harry has increased somewhat. Admittedly I didn't think it was a good idea for him to be on the front line, but that said it was handled well and I think he has found some degree of purpose.
It is therefore somewhat unfortunate that some individuals thought that it was clever to mention publicly that he was over there. Those people should be ashamed of themselves because they not only put the Prince's life in danger, but also the lives of those soldiers serving alongside.
There is also a particular individual who should also feel ashamed, but seems to lack the meaning of the word in this context, and that is George Galloway for the appalling comments he has made.
One doesn't expect anything better from him, although it is a slap in the face to thousands of civilians, let alone soldiers. The Taliban are most certainly Britain's enemies because n 2001 we invaded Afghanistan because the Taliban government (who incidentally were not exactly the most friendly regime on the Planet), were sheltering Osama Bin Laden and other Al Queda operatives and were refusing to hand them over. It could be argued therefore that Galloway's comments were therefore insulting to those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks, as well as the British soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, as well as being disloyal to the country of which he is a citizen.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Mars Hill Blog Stats (Feb 2008)

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

Sheffield, London, Chelmsford, Chicago, Greenville, Raleigh, Schaumburg, Maidenhead,
Canberra, Stockholm

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

United Kingdom

United States









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 (NEW-ish)

2) Tim Roll-Pickering (+10)

3) Paul Linford (+8)

4) British Blogs (+3)

5) Cally's Kitchen (+9)

6) Wikipedia (NEW)

7) UK Polling Report (NEW)

8) WongaBlog (NEW-ish)

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

10) Rupa Huq (-2)

Out of the Top Ten are Recess Monkey (12th place), TV SHOW SPOILERS AND NEWS, Guido Fawkes, The Last Ditch, Freemania, Labourhome (11th place), and Cassilis (13th place)

Top Ten Searchwords that lead people to my blog

the queen vs. leibovitz

the queen and annie leibovitz

paul burgin blog

beasting wikipedia

mars hill/gays

blizzard race to the pole

29th february tradition

capturing mary location

alan johnson hostage

nigerian problem

As always, the bizzare seem to mingle with the mundane.