Saturday, November 29, 2008

Police Raiding a Commons Office

Since my last posting on this, I have read up on some further details. Namely that police raided Damien Green's Commons office.
Now I am not so concerned on this point as to whether Green is guilty or not, but I am concerned that an MP's office has been searched. Members of Parliament have a no of rights and priviliges and one of them is that their job protects them from the law in some areas. For example an MP can make a defamatory comment in the Commons Chamber and be legally protected.
This does not mean of course, that MP's are totally above the law, but an MP's rights must be protected and it is the action itself, and whilst I stand by my earlier comments that we don't know the full details, Green is not the first MP to have benefitted from govt leaks and he isn't exactly being accused of terrorist offences.
So my general take on this is caution but disquiet

Helping Alex Hilton

I am more than happy to give publicity for this. Many of us bloggers know how legally dicey blogging can be (I myself haven't been sued yet. But I have on a couple of occasions gone very carefully over blog postings I am writing for the simple reason that I don't want the hassle and I don't want to cause unessessary offence).
Alex has a no of enemies, but he also has a no of friends, inc myself. He is loyal, thoughtful, considerate, and has on more than one occasion been more than helpful and thoughtful (more than I have asked), to a low ranking blogger like myself.
I hope and pray that his current legal problems will soon be dealt with in a satisfactory manner.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Are We Being Green About Damien?

This was another jaw dropper. I think the best thing before reaching to any conclusion is to wait and see about the circumstances. I expect some of my Tory readers will assume that is a typicalattitude for a Labour blogger like myself to take, but I sincerely hope that Green has done no such thing and that the Tories' anger is justified, but until we know alll the facts we should not jump to conclusions

Terror in Mumbai

Am relieved the Indian Army seem to be gaining the upper hand, but am concerned about the no of hostages, esp as there is little information as to who has been taken etc.. Am esp concerned that a Jewish centre is among the buildings captured by the terrorists. One hopes and prays that there will be a swift and positive outcome, but there is still the shock that it happened at all and how and why everyone seems to have been taken by surprise by this

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Tipping Point

Its news like this that makes one wonder where and how things will end in Zimbabwe where Mugabe is concerned!
It shows that Zanu PF and Mugabe cannot govern, have no compassion for it's citizens and simply see them as fodder. Any decent government, responsible for this crisis or not, would be quick and willing to have rapid UN intervention. It also shows that South Africa's mediation policy of old is a total failure and that hard and firm steps must be taken to ensure that Mugabe's removal from power, without conditions, is a major priority for the International community as well as helping the people of Zimbabwe

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Apologies

My computer at home has broken down, so, as this has curtailed the amount of time I use on a computer on a daily basis for the present, it means that I will be doing less blogging, which is a shame.
Hopefully this situation won't last for too long and Mars Hill will be publishing blog posts on a more regular basis in the near future

Friday, November 21, 2008

Blog Stats Record

Well, am still trying to pick up my jaw, as it has landed on the floor and smashed at high speed.
Have basically just checked my blog stats for this week.
Yesterday I did not write a single blog entry and yet I got over 700 hits. That is a record! Higher than my interview with Iain Dale and mentioning the last episode of Life On Mars and they got nearly 500 hits within twenty four hours. This morning alone, my blog has received over 100 hits!
Well this time it was through mentioning that BNP list, I knew it would spark interest, but not by that much! Says a lot.
Now must book for an appointment in order to have my jaw fixed.

Carry On Sargeant

The recent withdrawal of John Sargeant from Strictly Come Dancing has raised one or two interesting issues.
Its basically become one of those moments that you get where a vote is taken and those with the experience and authority find themselves at odds with public opinion, and , rightly or wrongly, the former regard this as unfair.
Now if you are one of those who regard a particular vote result as unfair and wrong, then you have a choice in how you react. You can take a dose of humility and accept the result, which many do, or you can decide that because you know better you can try and affect the outcome so that your view overrides that of the voters.
Now the Judges of Strictly Come Dancing may well feel angry and frustrated for good reason. Here is someone who is not playing by the rules, who is not dancing in the way he should be trained, and yet he gets voted in time and again. They must be wondering whether the public are thick, or ignorant, and therefore perhaps because they clearly don't have the expertise they have, then their views aren't so important and therefore the rules of selection will have to be amended. Basically they seem to think that the voters have made a mockery of their qualified position as Judges
It is easy, when one is in power or has a vested interest, to mock majority opinion if it disagrees with your viewpoint, especially if you have the expertise, knowledge and experience. However this is where humility comes into play. People vote in a particular way for all sorts of reasons and perhaps the Judges of Strictly Come Dancing, before making their harsh judgments, should have stopped to think long and hard as to why the public kept voting in John Sargeant and how they view the concept of Strictly Come Dancing as a programme. I know that the BBC's charter is to educate and inform, and so it should and must. But it is also there to entertain and this is harmless entertainment that offends very few people

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

That BNP List

A no of things come to mind reading this.

1) As stomach-churning as it is, the BNP is a legitimate political party and the police should therefore investigate how that list came out in the open. However...

2) Apparently there are many on the list, soldiers, teachers, policemen, whose peers would not want to work with them if they were identified, neither would those whose care and protection depend on them.

3) Membership of the BNP, at least in the police force, is incompatible with the Race Relations Amendment Act, I don't know what similar laws exist with regards to the other services mentioned, but I think there are similar guidelines, so is it legitimate for the police to inform those concerned?

4) As for the Vicar concerned, what Bible does he, or she, read?

Elections for post of Labour Party Treasurer

Mark McDonald, who stood for the post of Labour Treasurer earlier this year, has been invited to have a meeting with the current Treasurer, Jack Dromey, with regards to discussing some of the views raised in the election.
But McDonald also wants to echo the views of Labour rank and file members, so he is asking those of us in the grassroots what we think, via the Labourhome website. You can read what he says about this here.

Prince John

Last night I managed to get back home in time to catch a Channel 4 documentary about him.
For those who don't know, Prince John was the youngest child of King George V and Queen Mary and the youngest brother of the Duke of Windsor and King George VI. He was found to be epileptic when he was four years old and possibly had some form of autism as well.
At the age of eleven his formal education was abandoned and he was sent to live at Wood Farm, near Sandringham, with he nanny and some staff, where he died following a massive fit when he was thirteen and a half years old.
Now the popular view on him is that he was considered an embarrassment and abandoned by his family, and then forgotten about. Certainly a couple of family trees have not mentioned him, but not all published family trees are complete, and as the documentary showed, his parents visited him whenever they could.
Plus, to be honest, being sent away was the best thing they could have done for him. Some aristocratic children in his predicament were shut away and almost forgotten, epilepsy was not treatable then and it was known within the last couple of years of his life that he would not live into adulthood, and putting someone in his position, in those times when there was less empathy and understanding, into school and expecting him to lead a full life expected of a member of the Royal Family would have been cruel.
All in all rather sad, but I get the impression one can learn something from this.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kilroy: MEP or Celebrity?

I was thinking about this recently in conjunction with George Galloway's appearance on Celebrity Big Brother a couple of years ago. I see I was not alone.
Any ideas if Kilroy plans to stand down at the next election?

The Fleshwounds in Society

First of all my apologies for the absence in blogging, have been caught up with day-to-day life as it were ;)
But I did have several ideas for blog entries over things that have been milling in my brain and I thought this morning that perhaps I can put them into one blog post, so I hope you can bear with me
It seems that recently we have had to stop and examine where we are as a society in relation to each other and in relation to our wellbeing. It bothers me when we come across incidences that seem straight out a Dickens novel. A mother having her daughter kidnapped so that she can claim some reward, a local authority not acting on the almost blatant signs that a child is being abused and not picking up on it, an economy that is in danger and politicians spending time blaming each other when this should be the very time that political parties should look at ways of helping and supporting each other in finding a way out of this mess.
We see people attach too much to celebrity and not on people being famous for a particular talent, we see a breakdown in family life, we see a lack of respect of tradition (irrespective of it's origins) and a lack of respect for authority.Whilst I don't think we are a broken society, I do think we are bruised and bleeding.
Now whilst I am a Christian, middle-class, white, Englishman, I also happen to be fairly left-wing, tolerant, and open minded. I think Mary Whitehouse could go OTT and I think that there is something to be said for civil partnerships.
Am I one of only a few people who likes to see an open and tolerant society, but who also wants to see a spine of Conservatism with a small c, and be left-wing at the same time?
Just some thoughts

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Otis Ferry Thinks Prisons Are "Namby-Pamby"

From what I have read, living up to his reputation in some quarters as being rude, obnoxious, and arrogant. But if he wants hard slog, then I am sure that can be arranged.
That said,I think it is safe to say we won't be getting any prison memoirs from him!

That Commons Clash Over Baby P

I have deliberately hesitated for a no of hours before blogging on yesterday's incident in the Commons, because it was an unpleasant and emotive PMQ's and I wanted to be sure a) What happened exactly and b) That I was fair in how I covered this. In any case both Labourhome and Iain Dale have covered this already.
Lets look at the actual clash first before heading to the subject matter. I think it may well be fair to say that David Cameron and Gordon Brown personally, as well as politically, dislike each other. They are not the first PM and Opposition leader to be contemptuous of each other, but this is not a healthy situation to be in. It means one has difficulty in holding back when an opportunity arises to savagely kick the other when they are down (to the point of offending the public), and it also means that one is always expecting the worst in the other and that is that second point which I think helped cause yesterdays bout of ill temper.
The perception of David Cameron amongst many of us in the Labour Party (and other political parties), is that he is a cynical opportunist who will kick Gordon Brown at every moment. The opportunism view has come about through the Lexus incident, the huskies in Norway incident, the family holiday incident. The nastiness towards Gordon Brown can be seen with his "Strange Man" comments, and of course this is someone who said he was not going into Punch and Judy politics and who was once a member of the Bullingdon Club. I won't go into why people dislike Gordon Brown, that would more difficult for me as I personally like the guy, although he can be rather shy and he does lack the polish of his predecessor, but maybe that isn't a bad thing. In general, try as I might, it is unfortunate that I find it hard to be objective about Cameron and Brown.
So when the debate in the Commons started and Cameron eschewed Brown's answers, it did look as if he was trying to pin the blame on the government. To be fair and honest I don't know if that is true and I think Brown was wrong to mention party politics, but if I were Brown and I took a personal dislike to Cameron for the reasons above, then I would be simmering away under the surface, thinking that Cameron was trying to pin the blame on Baby P's death on the government. The PM's mistake was to let is emotions get the better of him.
Now I admit, that I equally dislike David Cameron as a cynical opportunist (if that isn't obvious already), but I don't think that he wasn't being cynical and playing party politics, I hope not anyway. But for both his sake and Gordon Brown's I think it is best that they both try to forget this incident and work at looking at ways in which they can respect each other as people. It can be done. Churchill and Attlee were unrelenting as opponents, and yet they had a mutual respect that helped the political dynamics be a little less personal. As did Thatcher and Wilson, Major and Smith, Blair and Hague.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm A Celebrity 2008

Well here are this year's contenders. I have to say, quite a mix and one that will generate fireworks. That said, these kind of things are interesting as you get to see the people concerned in a different light. I remember developing a healthy respect for Johnny Rotten the year he was in it and previously I simply wrote him off as obnoxious.
That said I also enjoyed seeing Paul Burrell suffer in the Bushtucker trial, so maybe it's not a show that brings out the best in people :(.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lest We Forget

(BBC Online)

Osborne and his ill advised ways

Being fair, Osborne is Shadow Chancellor and if he wants to use the Evening Standard to make a misguided attack on the governments economic policies, then that is his right and one I would support on that basis.
That said, he couldn't resist yet another personal jibe at Gordon Brown, and yet again laid himself open to attack in the process:

"As our Prime Minister heads off on yet another foreign visit, he leaves behind him at home the innocent victims of his economic mistakes. There is the father who has just lost his job, the small business that has had its loan called in, the family whose home is being repossessed and the pensioner whose income has plummeted."

Foreign visits? One could write a similar paragraph about a Shadow Chancellor sunning himself on the Yacht of a Russian Billionaire whilst empathising with those who are suffering during the Global Credit-crunch, and who cannot double query an office donation of £487.000
Or indeed one could argue that the Leader of the Opposition spending a holiday for the cameras in the UK, before heading off for a private holiday abroad was just pandering to votes and insulting to families who are struggling financially, and maybe I am being a bit cruel, but one expects better from an opposition. Pro-Conservatives want standards, others want to see opponents one respects

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Review of Quantum of Solace

(© 2008 Danjaq LLC, United Artists Corporation and Columbia Pictures Industries)

Warning. Spoilers!

Well I have to say it was one of the more memorable Bond films and on it's own merits it stands up well.
As you probably know the film has had mixed reviews, this is mainly because after nearly fifty years, audiences and critics expect a certain formula with Bond. Quantum of Solace, like Casino Royale before it, breaks some of the established rules. For one thing there is no gun barrel sequence at the very beginning, that happens at the very end. There are very few witticisms (and the one I caught, where Bond replies to Mathis's comment about Agent Fields, was utterly predictable and weak. Not only that, but what has annoyed some Bond fans, although I am not among them, is the lack of any sexual shenanigans between Bond and the ladies in the film. Even the main Bond girl only shares a brief snog with 007 when they part near the end of the film, and that looked like an afterthought.
But why should Bond films stick rigidly to set rules? And if you see this as a sequel to Casino Royale, then you will see how well this film works! You see how Le Chiffre was a relatively small cog in the wheel of the terrorist organisation , Quantum (Clearly a successor to SPECTRE). You see how it has so many fingers everywhere that even the CIA and MI6 have been penetrated and how the British Government seem not to care so much about whether Dominic Greene is a villain or not, as to whether he is of use and whether he is helpful to their interests. Clearly, esp in the scenes with the CIA Station Chief for South America, this is meant to be a critique of the outgoing Bush administration and those in thrall of it. Whether that is totally fair might be another matter, although it has to be borne in mind that this is set in 2006 as it continues direct from Casino Royale.
As for the characters. Well Greene is a villain who reminds me for some reason of Maximillian Largo in the hybrid Bond movie Never Say Never Again. The jokey playboy who plays about being a compassionate philanthropist, but who deep down is a vicious psychopath interested only in his own agenda. That said, how Bond eventually deals with him is more nasty than any other fate that has befallen previous Bond villains and not one that I would wish on my worst enemy.
The Bond girl, Camille Montes, follows the tradition of previous Bond girls by being gutsy and with an agenda of her own. In this case using Greene to get to the killer of her family. As I more or less stated earlier, her relationship with Bond is unusual for a Bond girl in that it is mainly platonic. But it is she who points out to 007 that he has not settled in his mind the issues caused by Vesper's betrayal and death.
Which leads me to Vesper's boyfriend. I suspected at the beginning of the film, but was not fully aware of how willing he was involved in Quantum. That said when Bond catches up with him at the end, it was not a surprise that he was involved all along and that he seduced Vesper and faked his kidnapping as a sick way of using her as a mole. The fact that Bond captures him and then turns him over to his superiors, shows remarkable restraint. Many in his place would perhaps have not been able to control their emotions!
And Rene Mathis! Good that he and Bond managed to get some form of closure over their breach in Casino Royale (and I loved the dialogue in Italian between Mathis and his girlfriend), and was saddened that he ended up killed, although perhaps that was inevitable.
All in all, 8/10, although if I have any more complaints it is why we have yet to see Q and Moneypenny. Will they be back?

Friday, November 07, 2008

That Glenrothes By-Election Result

Great news :-), although we cannot rest on our laurels. That said, the Conservatives didn't win any by-elections this far into government and this is the confidence boost we need.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Mars Hill Blog Stats (Oct 2008)

Apologies for the delay

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

Milton Keynes, London, Nottingham, Coventry, Coral Springs, Surrey, Prague, Ottawa, Ann Arbor, Utrecht

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

United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Czech Republic, Australia, Netherlands, Germany, France, Argentina, Ireland

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) Cally's Kitchen (+3)

2) Rullsenberg Rules (Returned)

3) Wikipedia (+3)

4) Paul Linford (-3)

5) Bloggers4Labour(Returned)

6) Tim Roll-Pickering (+1)

7) British Blogs (Returned)

8) Shaw (NEW)

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

10) Chris Paul: Labour of Love (Returned)

Out of the Top Ten are Freemania, Labour Matters, dizzykj, Neil Harding, and Iain Dale

Nov 5th. Bonfire Night

I didn't go out to celebrate last night. Haven't for some years, and part of me wishes I did, if only out of tradition and nostalgia.
But I do wonder what the point is. I tend to find burning effigies of people distasteful and fireworks tend to be used to celebrate everything these days. Plus I wonder how many people know exactly why we celebrate it. Myself I find when I think about the Gunpowder Plot I am just thankful that a major terrorist atrocity was averted

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Bali Bombers Face Execution

To be honest I think they should be given life-long imprisonment without parole. Not so much out of compassion, but because they would delight in death as martyrdom

The Result

Well it's still incredible it has happened. Am now very proud of a blog entry I made two years ago,
although I am even more proud that the american voters have overcome prejudice and cynicism. I have to say I am not a fan of Jesse Jackson, but was touched when I saw the BBC report of Obama's victory speech and seeing a shot of Jackson with tears streaming down his face and I was thinking of Martin Luther King, whom Jackson was a friend of. King said the night before he was assassinated that he might not get to the Promised Land with his audience but that he had seen it, I wonder if this moment, this election, is partly what Dr. King meant.
My thoughts are also with John McCain. As an opponent I regarded him with respect, and his attitude towards those of us who supported Obama was reciprocated and it showed in his acceptance speech. What a pity therefore that some of his supporters do not share that graciousness. Hopefully, if they don't allow themselves to get too bitter, they will learn from this.
So here's to a new start for us all

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

US Presidential Election 08: Live Blog Entry

10:53: Well good evening. It's nearly 6PM on the US East Coast, nearly 3PM on the US West Coast and we are about to witness one of the most historic US Presidential elections in history. By tomorrow (hopefully), America shall see that it's about to have it's first black President or it's first female Vice President.
The campaign has been going for two years, has had more spent on it than any other election in US history and is one where, at the time of writing, has witnessed a 66% turnout of voters, one of the highest on record I understand.
The state to watch this evening though is not Florida (the scene of the 2000 debacle), or even Ohio (which has voted for the winner for the past 100 years, save in 1944 and 1976). It's actually the state of Virginia, where the declaration of surrender was signed by Robert E. Lee of the Confederates at the end of the American Civil War. The Polls show a strong support for Obama and it has not been Democrat for over thirty years. If at midnight GMT, which is when it declares, it goes for Obama, then, according to the experts, this will mean the election is game, set, and match to Obama.
Incidentally you may also like to know that the first results came through over twelve hours ago. A small hamlet in New Hampshire. Only 21 voters, and 15 of them for Obama. Not much perhaps, but solidly Republican since 1968 and with the record turnout of voters, with many queuing for hours I think the one safe prediction is that we will get a surprise tomorrow morning. Whether nasty or pleasant depends on your opinion

11:09: Have just seen a report on the BBC from Chicago. Its impressive the amount of young people who have gone out to vote, attending rallies etc.. My thoughts are very much with those campaigners I know there who I helped in March. A bit strange as well to see one or two familiar landscapes where I have been walking some eight months ago
Now then, I don't have any Peter Snow's or Jeremy Paxman's with me, but there is access to the major news channels at home and in the US, and indeed in Europe. Not forgetting Al Jazerra. Am also armed with duvet, radiator, Internet use and caffeine, but heck it's the home comforts which are attractive :-). We shall also be analysing the coverage on other blogs as well.

11:27: Everyone is cautious. That is good, but it is an edge of the seat, waiting for the results time. Matt Fry of the BBC has pointed out how much Obama has learnt in eight years since he was trounced in a Congressional election in 2000 (the first time he ran for national office). Meanwhile on Iain Dale's site, Mike Rouse speculates that if it's an Obama /Biden victory, then the US might just as well be Canada. So?


11:31: My brother has just texted me, giving me a CNN Poll with McCain leading 1 all. Make of that what you can

11:37: Rupert has spoken. Rupert Murdoch has stated his concerns to the BBC about an Obama victory. Well he would wouldn't he! First results from Indiana and Kentucky. Obama 50% McCain 49%, thats from CNN

11:48 BBC Have not mentioned Kentucky or Virginia yet

11:53 Rumours that Fox News has stated Obama has won. This is speculation at the moment, no evidence I know of the Fox has done so

0:04: Polls have closed in six states. BBC Give Electoral College projections McCain 8, Obama 3, with McCain taking Kentucky

0:17: Rumours that Republicans are contesting the close of Polls in Virginia. An interesting sign perhaps. Sky News project an Obama win for Vermont

0:27 Polls are about to close in Ohio, Georgia, and South Carolina. By 1AM we should have a good idea of who the winner will be. Results come through much more quickly in the US than in the UK

0:40: Fox News state that Ohio is "Too close to call", well Fox News might not be the most reliable source of coverage, but who knows..

0:55 Actually trying to make sense of all the info coming forward, it looks like it's going to be close, but again, who knows

1:00: Polls have just closed in 16 states and rumours are that Obama has taken Florida. If he has that would be fantastic

1:12: BBC Projection of Electoral College so far. Obama 103. McCain 34. That is encouraging, but am presently encouraged by the noises from Florida.

1:14 Check out Justin Webb's assessment of Vermont.

1:22 Am concerned by reports that Obama is behind in Virginia, but otherwise happy with the way things seem to be going so far, given the exit polls. Will now crash out for a while, but will be back

04:24 It looks like Obama has nailed it :-). Projected electoral college votes Obama 333, McCain 155. Thats pretty divisive so I think it would be fair for me to say that Obama will be the next US President.

04:27 And he has Ohio and Florida, well thats definetly nailed it then! ;)

04:35 Well I'm signing off. A truly historic day, a monumental one in Global, as well as American history. Time will tell how good a President Obama will have been, but this election was a call for change, for a restoration of confidence, and for a new kind of politics. Let us continue to meet that challenge wherever we are

Monday, November 03, 2008

Live Bloggers

Iain Dale will also be doing a live blog on the US Elections. If you know of anyone else, then let me know and I will advertise it here.
Likewise if anyone has anything to mention regarding Election Night, then let me know. We shall also be looking at coverage on the BBC World Service, the BBC News Website, BBC News, Sky News, CNN, Fox News, Al Jazerra, CNBC among others. Not, of course, excluding coverage on other blogs.
It is going to be one of the most exciting, impressive, and memorable nights in US Election history (momentarily disregarding who the candidates are, the record turnouts already have shown that), so it is too important an election to miss.

UPDATE: Apart from Iain Dale, other live bloggers will inc.

Aberdeen University Labour Club

Liberal Conspiracy

Cally's Kitchen

Times Online

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Last Forty-Eight Hours

There is a wonderful line in an episode (Evolution of the Daleks) of the long running sci-fi series Doctor Who, where the Doctor tells someone that "Daleks are bad enough at any time, but right now they're vulnerable. And that makes them more dangerous than ever."
Right now, the Republicans are vulnerable, they are feeling vulnerable and they are scared of losing states like Virginia. They will not go down without a fight and that means that neither side will relax. The evidence points to Obama winning on Tuesday, but nasty surprises can happen and as we can see , all the stops are being pulled out.
Well here's to Tuesday