Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Mars Hill blog entries of 2008

Being my last post of the year I suppose I will follow my annual tradition of looking back and selecting my personal favourites from Mars Hill.
Hain Must Go stands out simply because of the interest it generated, getting mentioned by Guido, Recess and leading me onto appearing on Newsnight. My visit to Chicago (which involves several blog entries) also needs to be listed, of which this was one of the busiest days there. My driving lesson blog posts are also worth a mention, esp this one. Other favs include my view on the Church of England having Women Bishops, Carry On Sargeant, US Presidential Election 08: Live Blog Entry,

That Commons Clash Over Baby P, and How the Damien Green Case Should Have Been Handled
And the most popular blog entry? Well funnily enough it was this one on That BNP List!

The Situation in Israel/Gaza

As deplorable as this is, and however provoked the Israelis feel, do they not realise that the Palestinians will get even more angry and resentful. The Israelis have used strong-arm tactics for a long time and the question is do they really work to build peace?

The New Years Honours for 2008/09

I tend to be a bit cynical about these things but am very pleased for a no of reasons, not least because it is recognition needed and that it is timely, that Terry Pratchett gets a knighthood :-)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Short Review of the Year 2008

FAVOURITE EVENTS

Well I think Barack Obama's campaign and election is my favourite event by far :-)


PEOPLE WHO LEFT US IN 2008, WHO I WILL PARTICULARLY MISS

Sir Edmund Hillary

Heath Ledger

Jeremy Beadle

Roy Scheider

Anthony Minghella

Arthur C. Clarke

Paul Scofield

Charlton Heston

Sydney Pollack

Bo Diddley

Cyd Charisse

Estelle Getty

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Bernie Mac

Isaac Hayes

Paul Newman

Michael Crichton

Mitch Mitchell

Alexy II

Avery Dulles

W. Mark Felt

Oliver Postgate

Harold Pinter

Eartha Kitt


FAVOURITE FILMS OF THE YEAR

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Quantum of Solace

Frost/Nixon (Premature I know, as it is yet to be released in the UK, but I think I will like it :-))


FAVOURITE PEOPLE

The People of Zimbabwe (For standing up to intimidation when voting for their so-called President)

Barack Obama (Need I explain why?)

Gordon Brown (For fighting back against his critics and working flat out to try and mend the economy)

John Sergeant (For bravely treating Strictly Come Dancing as the entertainment show it is)



MUSICAL INSPIRATION

Queen + Paul Rodgers for being brave enough to release a studio album minus Freddie Mercury and John Deacon


POLITICIAN OF THE YEAR

Barack Obama for bringing forward a political renewal and having the confidence and instilling the confidence in his supporters and the voters to go all the way to the White House


PERSONAL HIGHLIGHTS OF THE YEAR

Going to Chicago to help in the US Election Campaign, making new and exciting friendships, plus the joy of seeing old friends around for Christmas.



BLOGGERS OF THE YEAR

LABOUR: The good people of Labourhome

CONSERVATIVE: Iain Dale's Diary

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT:Lindylooz Muze

OTHER: Paul Linford

NON POLITICAL: dizzykj


FAVOURITE QUOTES

So we pulled up to this diner, where people told us that we could get some good pie. And I like pie. Do you like pie too? So, we go in there, and we say, "Oh, what kind of pie you got?' And they didn't have sweet potato pie, they didn't have pumpkin pie. They had some cream pies mostly, which is OK with me. So, I got some coconut cream pie. And Governor Strickland, he got lemon meringue pie.
So while we're waiting for our pie, the staff come and they want to take a picture with me because they say, you know, the owner of this dinner is a staunch die-hard Republican, so we want to kind of tease him a little bit by getting this picture with you. So we're taking this picture and suddenly the owner comes out with the pie. And he looks at me and I say, "Sir, I understand that you are a die-hard Republican." He says, "That's right." I said, "How's business?" He said, "Not so good." He said, "My customer, they can't afford to eat out anymore." I said, "Who's been in charge of the economy for the last eight years?" He said, "Republicans." I said, "You know, if you kept on hitting your head against a wall over and over again and it started to hurt, at some point would you stop hitting your head against the wall?" He said, "You've got a point."

Barack Obama during the US Presidential election campaign

'I can see Russia from my house!'

Tina Fey as Sarah Palin in a Saturday Night Live skit

What has become clear is that Britain cannot trust the Conservatives to run the economy. Everyone knows that I'm all in favour of apprenticeships, but let me tell you this is no time for a novice.

Gordon Brown on David Cameron in a speech at this year's Labour Party Conference



(FAVOURITE BLOGGING QUOTES
OF THE YEAR)

"To be lectured by the Conservatives on unfairness is, as they say, like being lectured by Tony Soprano about crime." Beyond New Labour on the Conservatives attempts to be seen as more friendly

Happy New Year to you all :)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Dodgy Area of Conservative Party Friendships: David Cameron, David Ross, and Michael Spencer

Sometimes you have to feel sorry for David Cameron. Well it is the Christmas season after all, and so it is that not only physically does he get dragged through the mud (and boy does he not miss a trick with getting press attention, if haphazzardly at times) , he also does not seem to get a grip on his Party after three years in the job, as Geoffrey Wheatcroft points out well.
The problem is not just bad PR though, it's bad judgement. Already we have had David Cameron showing appalling lack of judgement over his choice of friends within the Conservative Party, and more recently we have had the sorry tale of the antics of Conservative Party Treasurer, Michael Spencer, whom I understand Cameron has yet to condemn.
And this is the man who wanted to show a change in British politics when he became leader! How does this man hope to become Prime Minister. I personally like to see opponents one can respect, it is difficult for me at least to respect David Cameron.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

More on the Pope's Comments

Am pleased Cally's Kitchen and Paul Vallely have clarified some of what was said recently by Pope Benedict XVI, but wouldn't it have been better if he avoided the subject given that it is contentious, or rather at least affirmed positives, like the need for different genders to depend on each other, or what we need to do to help the environment. Being very generalistic here, the homosexuality issue has caused so much pain that many on both sides need to think and consider before speaking for fear of causing hurt and misunderstanding.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Things to do with Advent/Christmas Pt 46:The Glorious Twenty-Fifth

So here I am with my brothers laptop at home feeling sinful for blogging today of all days, and so many things to blog on and yet it does not feel appropriate. Hmm!
Anyways I could not pass without wishing you all a Merry Christmas and I hope the day has been good for you. As for me it has been good with some top notch presents including a book on the history of classical music from my brother, plus we have some long standing friends from Canada around his evening which is a delight and why I really must sign off.
But in the next few days

Expect another blog post about the Pope

About the latest Tory financial scandals (BTW appreciated Geoffrey Wheatcroft's column in the Guardian yesterday)

And about the end of the year

MerryChristmas

Paul x

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pope Benedict's Comments on Homosexuality

I have to say that I was rather saddened more than anything when I heard the Pope's latest pronouncment on this issue. But then are we surprised by his views any more than bears do their business in the woods and the Pope being, well, Catholic!
Where do I begin? Is it the fact that he makes a leap of a connection with damage to the environment, or that he has hurt the feelings of others! I know the Conservative communities that exist in the Christian faith, to my shame I once held more strict views myself, but I do wish some Christians would stop and think through what they are doing when they make such pronouncments and concentrate on loving their neighbour rather than worrying about their faith being under attack from the postmodern world. Sexuality is a vulnerable aspect of everyone's nature, gay or straight, and we need to be aware of that within others as well as ourselves.
Some fights are worth making a stand for, others are not (for example if the Pope spoke out about the abuses in Zimbabwe, and the unchristian behaviour of Robert Mugabe that would have been tremendous) and it is focusing on that and remembering what a fragile and vulnerable world that we live in thats important.
Its just sad that, especially at this time of year, of all the things Pope Benedict XVI could have said (he could even have simply pointed out the value of inter-gender dependency, esp given the wider World we live in), he had to plough through a sensitive issue which has the effect on some individuals and groups as a person sliding down a large razor blade, using their feet as a break, and landing in a bucket of salt.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Things to do with Advent/Christmas Pt 45:The Santa Dash

Rather intruiging, although I can't see this taking off in London. That said, did anyone see Clash of the Santas last night? If not, then I suggest you do if you get the chance. Its not often we get to see good seasonal one-off comedy/drama, but this was delightful.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Williams Calls for C of E Split!

I have argued for this myself, but for the Archbishop of Canterbury to do so in public is unprecedented. Brave and to be comended and lets hope this opens up debate on the issue.

Dumping Household Pets

I don't care what the reason given is, there is no excuse. As someone who has been brought up in a cat loving household, this is something that tends to make me feel angry.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Contradiction Over the Economy?

Interesting article, but lets just see how the next spending figures look. At the end of the day we are in an uncertain period and the only certainty is that many people are trying to spend their way out!

The Cholera Epidemic in Zimbabwe

A no of questions spring to mind over this!

1) Is this where Mugabe meets his downfall?

2) What can aid agencies do to help without being hindered by Mugabe's regime?

3) What is the South African government playing at?

No 2 is the one that needs urgent priority, but one wonders just how much of a block to the solution, as well as a cause to the problem, Mugabe and his Zanu PF thugs are? I can't see him in power this time next year, the way things are going, but you never know! :(
The current situation certainly adds poignancy to some of the lyrics of Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas when you listen to it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

That February Election

It won't happen, as Paul Linford points out. For one thing we need a bit more stability first.

That Phrase "Nu Labour", Democratic Rights, and Being Polite

I have wondered where that phrase "Nu Labour" has come from, having a vague memory that it was a pathetic attempt to equate Labour with Zanu PF, that excuse for a political party that Robert Mugabe runs. Having done a bit of research and asking around, that seems to be the consenus in some quarters, although "Nu" can equally be shorthand for "New", hence my uncertainty.
That said, many of those who use the phrase "Nu Labour" do so in context of some attack on the government, and there are some who should know better who equate the government with what goes on in Zimbabwe. Which is not only offensive to the government who are doing all they can to help those who are suffering in Zimbabwe, but more so to the actual people who are literally dying in that country because of Mugabe's regime.
Lets put it another way: Is there widespread cholera in the UK? Have opposition members disappeared? Has there been voter rigging in order to stay in power? Have we seen roaming thugs going around stealing farms from its owners? Has the economy gone so kaput that it costs millions to buy a loaf of bread? Of course not, and yet we have a few individuals who are being nasty and unpleasant enough to make a vicious comparison.
Mind you, exaggeration doesn't seem to be anything new, as Christina Patterson has described so well in her column in Saturday's Independent. We get far more wound up about voting where reality TV shows are concerned, like "Strictly Come Dancing", and not take into proper account that many are suffering and dying so that free and fair elections for a government can take place in other parts of the World.
What would help to change this? Well basically perhaps more respect for each other as political opponents and trying to avoid making insulting comparisons when being critical, which is very difficult. God knows I need to, even yesterday I let a moment of irritation get the better of me in a post I left on Iain Dale's blog. I won't dare say that we need to bring an end to Punch and Judy politics, but we need to try, and try again to help change attitudes within ourselves and others, and have the grace and guts to apologise when we fail

Monday, December 15, 2008

The De Menezes Result

Am glad the Jury gave an open verdict. To do anything else, especially given that the witnesses who were commuters on the tube stated that there was no call of "Armed police!", would have been a travesty. I appreciate that there was a conflict of information that morning and a sense of panic, but one has to bear in mind that an innocent man ended up being killed as a result, and hopefully this verdict will give everyone a chance to move forward.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Democracy in Sark

What could be argued as the Barclay Brothers' effective blackmail of the people of Sark and pulling out when they failed to get the result they wanted, causing some of the Island's inhabitants to lose their jobs, may well be seen as a disgrace. That said they were good enough to bring a voting system to the Island which has allowed Democracy to florish in Sark and for that many are greatful

More on the Damien Green Saga

This raises some interesting questions, namely whether the Conservatives did receive anything that was to do with national security and if so, did they contact the relevant authorities? If they did so, who mentioned it and was this with David Cameron's authority? How come Gus O'Donnell was told of the arrest after it happened, when Boris Johnson and David Cameron were told in advance?
The whole issue raises a no of concerns, but not all of them aimed at the Government.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Woolworths Closure Sale

In a rather grim way you could argue from this that the commercial side of Christmas 2008 has definetly arrived

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Possibly the Strangest Queen Video There Is!

Calling All Girls, from their 1982 album Hot Space

(Queen Productions Ltd)

Things to do with Advent/Christmas Pt 44: When Exactly Was Jesus Christ Born?

Have heard these theories before, and given the appearance of the Shepherds, definetly not December, but personally I don't think it matters so long as it's celebrated ;)

Hat tip to Cally's Kitchen

The Carphone Warehouse Man, the London Mayor = More Embarrassment for the Conservatives and David Cameron

After putting the distinction between friendship and professional distance to the limit, Boris Johnson has shown, yet again, that his sense of judgement is perhaps below par.
That said one wonders about the judgement of other senior Conservatives here! Lets not forget that Ross donated thousands of pounds to the Conservative Party, nor that he has been close to David Cameron. It says something that this has not been mentioned much, if at all, in the Conservative blogosphere today.
All in all this is not looking good for the Conservatives, esp as the latest opinion polls do not look good. No wonder Cameron wants an early election

Monday, December 08, 2008

The IT Crowd and Wallander

Saw The IT Crowd for the first time in the past few weeks. Very funny and, unsurprisingly given it's by one of it's writers, similar in style to Father Ted.
Also saw Wallander for the first time last night after missing last weeks episode. A bit plodding, but it has some good twists and turns and if given a chance will be a success. Rather like Morse meets Van Der Valk.

Things to do with Advent/Christmas Pt 43: St Nicholas's Day

Okay, how many of you spent Saturday not realising that it was St Nicholas's Day?

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Speakers' Statement

I have to say given the Speakers statement on Wednesday, that if he didn't simply ask for a warrant from the police what can Speaker do and not do? Because my jaw definetly dropped when I heard that the police did not have a warrant.
Definetly very damaging for Michael Martin and I wonder if he will still be Speaker by Spring 2009

Doctor Who: The Next Doctor

A no of names have been mentioned; Patterson Joseph, David Morrissey, Colin Salmon, and Robert Carlyle.
No I would prefer Colin Salmon out of those four (although they would all be very good), but I think given the Christmas Special this year that it will be David Morrissey.
Will be interesting to watch the next four episodes in any case

Cameron "The Lightweight". According to Barack Obama

Well there is nothing new is there, and the President Elect seems to have only learnt what many of us knew for months.
Bit embarrassing for the Tories though ;)

Hat tip to Kerron Cross and Rupa Huq

Peter Hain Not Charged Over Donations Row

In January I went on record as saying that Peter Hain ought to quit over the donations row, given todays news, I am glad to see that he has been cleared due to insufficent evidence.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

New South Wales MP's To Be Breathalysed

In the midst of the problems we are currently seeing at Westminster, this makes interesting reading.

Boris Johnson and the Three Hour Outrage Over Damien Green

A snipet from Andy McSmith's article in yesterday's Independent:

"To cover his lines, Sir Paul made three phone calls shortly before Mr Green's arrest. At 10am on Thursday, he rang the London Mayor Boris Johnson, who also chairs the Metropolitan Police Authority, to say an MP was to be arrested. At 1.20pm, he rang Mr Johnson again, and told him who the MP was. Mr Johnson exploded and went public in his criticism of the operation."

This raises one question. Why did Boris Johnson only explode when he found out who the MP was? If I were in his place, from he moment I was told I would have made every endeavour to find out who and why!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

How the Damien Green Case Should Have Been Handled

With all the anger (and rightfully so) over the arrest of Damien Green and his Commons office being searched, some aspects of the case are not being properly considered.
That is, that the civil servant responsible for the leaks is a former Conservative Party member and that there is the allegation that he was used to obtain sensitive information, i.e. that he did not have the idea to leak in the first place. For civil servants to be so politically partisan is as much as a no no in British politics as MP's offices being raided.
If the police had dealt with the case on a softly softly basis and conentrated onthe civil servant alone, then some progress might have been made. They could even have invited Damien Green in for a chat. Perfectly resonable, and then the result could well have been that the Conservatives were caught using civil servants who have political previous to leak government information. This would then have been a disciplinary matter and the Conservatives would have had eggs on their faces.
Make no mistake, we are dealing with an opposition that not only goes for Punch and Judy politics, but appears to absolutely delight in it. They are increasingly fighting low and dirty. Sometimes, if handled well, they get caught red handed, but blundering in heavy handed with little to no respect for the sanctity of Parliament does no one any favours.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Hillary At The State Department

Well yes, I am not one of her greatest fans, but in healing wounds we need to be conciliatory. Plus she has her talents, and will be useful to the Obama administration with regard to the Middle East