Saturday, August 28, 2010

Just a thought regarding Stewart Jackson

Surely when someone denounces opponents as, "sad, tedious sex-obsessed leftie weirdos" who were "unable to debate issues without personal abuse and vicious shrill denunciation". , there is an element of pot and kettle. That's a shame because otherwise this is a debate worth having and that means listening. If your opponents get abusive that's their problem and their actions will speak for themselves, but that does not give you the right to indulge in the same behaviour

Friday, August 27, 2010

Right Then..

Am just about to set off to Greenbelt, the Christian Arts festival at Cheltenham, which is an almost annual pilgrimage for me. Hope to blog there, but if not, I am sure you understand why

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Arthur Scargill Loses NUM Voting Rights

Reading this, I wasn't too surprised but two thoughts occurred to me.

1) A pity Scargill was not expelled twenty-five years ago

2) The phrase "hoisted by his own petard!" (he wrote the membership rules) springs to mind.

Make no mistake, Scargill is an unrepentant communist who used strikes and unrest as a way of playing politics and using people's livelihoods in the process. He broke the golden rule of strike action and refused to ballot NUM members when he launched the Miners' Strike which was used as a political battleground between the then government and the extremists running the NUM. The only casualties were the miners and their families who had barely enough to get by, plus helping to keep the Conservatives in power for a good deal longer.
I hope one day Scargill realises the damage he has done with his political games.

Congratulations to the Camerons

Meant to write this yesterday, but warm congratulations to David and Samantha Cameron on the birth of their daughter Florence. Imaginative use of Cornish middle name after place where they were staying, am just glad that I don't have a family of my own and a pregnant wife who gave birth recently, otherwise given where I recently stayed in Cornwall, the hypothetical Junior Burgin would have Bodmin as a middle name

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Pros and Cons of Advocating AV

The Labour Party has seen some interesting twists and turns with policy over the past few years. Regional Assemblies being one example where we have had to change our viewpoint due to circumstances, but one area where Labour is in danger of not coming out smelling of roses is the issue of the Alternative Vote.
Earlier this year, whilst we were still in government, we put forward a proposal for AV in the House of Commons and it was passed.
Since then of course, there has been a change of government and the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition has put forward their own proposal of AV. This has been dismissed by many in the Labour Party and with some good reasons.
One concern is that AV is an important reason for the LIberal Democrats being involved in government and it is not in Labour's interests to support the coalition given that we are the main opposition, and that would be seen by the electorate as petty, but there is a second much more deeper reason that goes beyond party politics and touches at the fabric of our Democratic process.
The Conservatives agree to AV but have put forward the dictat that there is to be a reduction of Parliamentary seats and a redistribution of the boundaries of those said seats. That send s one unpleasant message to the other political parties and that is "we plan to do a spot of gerrymandering"
If things stand as they are then I for one, a strong supporter of AV, will have to reluctantly be involved in the campaign to keep the First Past the Post system, as will others, but the coalition, if they are genuine about change for the better and not change simply to keep the Conservatives in power ought to tackle the following concern head on.

"That there will be an independent commission, or at least one with equal members from government and opposition, that will look into the proposed boundary changes and make recommendations that will not cause any unfair balance of power"

If that is taken seriously by the coalition and they are able to reassure the Labour Party then I will happily campaign for AV. It should be borne in mind however that the boundary changes are proposed in a Bill later on.
I doubt it would lead immediately to PR (which I oppose) as the Conservatives won't tolerate that, and I also recognise that some Trade Unions and Labour MPs are against AV whatever and were not happy with the original Commons vote some months ago. But there are good arguments for AV, there are keen supporters from all the main political parties and there should be no impediment to giving the electorate a choice that may well re-engage an interest in the political process that has strong arguments and defenders on both sides. If we cannot hold the coalition to account properly on the boundary changes whilst at the same time seeing the merits of AV, we will look petty and spiteful. If however we are able to hold the coalition to account on this we will be able to show that the coalition are not taking the issue seriously and are merely using it as a vehicle to stay in power.

The Woman Who Threw the Cat in the Wheelie Bin

As someone who is a lifelong cat lover, I was shocked and angry to have read yesterday about the woman who was caught on CCTV stroking a cat and then throwing it in a wheelie bin. I did think it was bizzare enough to suggest that she was charged but put forward for psychiatric help.
Today's news has added to my concerns, not least that she thought it was "funny" and expected the cat to wiggle free from the bin. How anyone can expect an animal that weighs under a stone and has the full height of less than two feet to escape from a wheelie bin is beyond me, it leaves me even more agahst that she claims to have done it as a spur of the moment joke. Clearly the woman needs help, but equally it is important to let the police, the RSPCA, and the owners concerned to deal with this and for people not to let their sense of outrage consume them.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Friction Between Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith

Clearly something has been brewing for a while, although one wonders who is mainly to blame.It appears that Osborne is having a tough time implementing his proposed cuts and is prepared to ride roughshod over all opposition, no matter as to whether he is being wise or not in his proposals.
At the very least though one suspects the Tories are being disingenuous, as the recent exchange between Harriet Harman and the Prime Minister has shown . Expect major inter-departmental fighting and messes this coming spring

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Charles Kennedy Trapped in Defection Speculation

It's all very intriguing and it is tempting to do a Private Eye-style Apology in response, assuming there is a defection about to take place.
But why the lack of clarification over the weekend, and why in August. My suspicion is that a defection was planned for the end of August/early Sept and the news leaked. Kennedy may have been uncertain and right now the Lib Dem hierarchy are leaning on him and he his busy mulling over what to do next. A bit sordid, but time will tell as to what has happened exactly.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Simon Hughes's Latest Wheeze

Thing is, I thought that veto existed and was always carried out by Her Majesty's Opposition. Someone should tell Simon Hughes that being Deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats he can't have his cake and eat it, he has to ask himself, like Frank Field and Kate Hoey in the Labour Party, where his political loyalties lie.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Minor Operation

I suppose there is an element of the hypochondriac here, but I am a little bit nervous as tomorrow I will have a minor operation to remove two or three cysts from my head.
I have had similar operations twice before and no doubt more will follow, as I have a genetic problem where the sweat glands on my head do not work properly, so there is an unfortunate build up of nasty fatty stuff. The operation itself involves a local anaesthetic and slicing out the larger cysts, which is a bit icky but does it's job. It certainly means I can comb my hair less out of vanity and more out of necessity.
So why the nerves? Well I am a bit of a wuss with these things if that isn't obvious already. The injections can be painful, there is always the minor, but real risk of significant blood loss, and then there is the crippling headache I have for the rest of the day where I end up having a large snooze in spite of having a full previous nights sleep and right now I am thinking that in a matter of hours I will be going through all of that.
I appreciate people have to contend with far worse, that I am being silly, but I am also a little scared, so thoughts, prayers, etc.. would be appreciated and at least I can deal with the fact that it will be a long while before the next operation after this one.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Blair to donate memoir sales to charity

I should hope so to. Whatever people say about his motives and whether or not he did the right thing in involving the UK in the Iraq War (I happen to think it wasn't the right thing), the donation is an act of decency compared to if he kept the money and he should be welcomed for making such a move

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Obama and that Mosque near the 9/11 site

Put simply I agree with him. This is the United States of America we are talking about. It is a nation of religious freedom and tolerance where it's constitution is concerned. Not all Muslims are akin to Al Qaeda and Bin Laden and indeed some Muslims were among the victims in the 9/11 attacks. I hope and pray that those protesting can see beyond their pain and desire for retribution and welcome the positive opportunities that exist in this situation

Happy Birthday India

Sixty-three years ago today India gained independence. What I can say about this I said three years ago today, but it is a nation that has done well and one that can look back on much of it's past and present with pride.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Close - But No Meteor Shower

I have stood outside and looked out for it for several minutes, but not a sign. Ah well I did get to see the Hale Bopp comet which last appeared around the 24th Century BC, so that's not too bad.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

David Miliband Event Meeting

Last Wednesday evening I hosted one of the Community Events planned by David Miliband's leadership campaign. The idea is to help generate a re-connection with the Labour Party's grassroots and with local communities.
There was a small gathering and we spoke for over an hour on various issues, including dealing with voter apathy in general, the need to sometimes criticise the public sector, exposing the government on the Economy and to point out some of the problems we helped to resolve, the problems of government cuts and the expectation that charities will step into the breach, only some charities will be among those facing cuts in funding. Then there was the issue of Afghanistan and the need to help bring stability to the country.
At some point we had a phone-in from Ian Murray MP and we discussed some of these issues with him, Afghanistan and the economic downturn being the major issues. His thoughts and comments were useful and helped lay the groundwork for the rest of the meeting.
We clearly have a hard slog, both locally and nationally, and we cannot just wait for the Coalition to implode, but we have strong arguments and with time, patience, and following an inclination to listen, we are capable of returning to government after the next election. There was also general enthusiasm for the idea of community events in the future, so something is clearly starting :-)

Monday, August 09, 2010

Sherlock - Fantastic Series

Much enjoyed, and yes the modern setting does work and gives a new slant to the characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I especially liked the climax with Moriarty at the end, although the character was not how I imagined him to be. As with Rev, please BBC another series!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

20 Years Since Iraqi Invasion and The Death of Ian Gow

I remember these two events, twenty years ago and within days of each other, fairly well. I was on holiday in Ireland with my family and, at the age of fourteen, had already developed an interest in politics and World Affairs. Both items of news were shocking as they were unexpected.
Ian Gow was a Conservative MP I disagreed with often, but he was a conviction politician, a brave man, and a man who had a strong sense of devotion and loyalty even if that was sometimes misplaced. His murder was not entirely a surprise, but was shocking and barbaric, but thankfully with the Peace Process continuing, an act which is firmly placed in the past. That said, I do agree with Tom Harris's suggestion that a memorial to Ian Gow should be put in the Commons.
The invasion of Kuwait was another barbaric attack and one which proves to have had a profound effect on recent history. That said I supported the use of force to remove Iraqi troops from Kuwait then and still do ic. Thankfully such events are in the past and one prays that it remains so now. What made that successful compared to the Second Iraq War though was that the aims were clear, they were accepted, and there was a groundswell of public support and a united coalition of nations involved. Something that perhaps we should consider with regard to future potential conflicts.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Tony Blair's Memoirs

Of course some of the old satire, some of it rather crude, has consequently returned. This one is rather interesting though, a take on one of the last photographs taken of John Lennon (on the morning of the day he was shot no less) where he is naked around a fully clothed Yoko Ono. I'd like to think the mimicry is unjustified, but I do share the view that if there was any time where the British government was poodle to a US Govt committing to a highly dubious course of action then this was it.

Hat Tip to Beau Bo D'Or

Last Ep of Rev. Tonight

And am rather sad that is so, it's been a good six weeks where we have seen a charming, irreverent, but gentle and fairly accurate comedy about the life of a London Vicar who, whilst very human, primarily wants to serve God and encourage growth in his local church.
Please BBC, a second series

Combat in Iraq Over by Aug 31st

Well this is more positive and sooner than I expected, although I hope that every effort is made to help ensure the stability of the Iraqi government and that this will help generate more positive moves towards a more unified global coalition in working to isolate and break Al Qaeda

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Clare Balding Vs AA Gill

There are some unpleasant individuals within the world of newspapers who seem to take a perverse pleasure in causing offence. Some are more well known than others, one thinks of Kelvin Mackenzie or Rod Liddle for example, but some would add AA Gill to that list and it's easy to see why.
For me however it's not so much his comments which annoyed me, but those of the Sunday Times Editor whom one might think was a little more responsible and mature with regard to these matters. How one can equate making fun of ones dress sense compared to ones sexuality is beyond me, I mean, how many people have committed suicide due to the trauma involved in having a bad dress sense in comparison to someone being bullied and ridiculed for being gay? Indeed I didn't know that, like gay people, fashion victims had no choice in what they wore!
I sincerely hope that the Sunday Times thinks before it digs itself a further hole and apologise to Clare Balding for offence caused.