Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Standing for CSM Committee

Last night, after much deliberation, I threw my hat into the ring last night and am now standing for a non portfolio post for the Christian Socialist Movement Executive.
For those who don't know, the CSM is a Society of Christians who are affiliated to the Labour Party or who are in sympathy. It is practically the only society within the Labour Party of which I am a member.
I am standing because I believe that the role of Christians, and indeed for any political animal worth their salt, is to help stand up for the vulnerable in the society, and indeed country, that we live in. With that in mind I want to help in bringing that about and to help encourage the CSM in it's campaigns both inside and outside the Labour Party, and indeed in communicating it's ethos and being where the battles are to both the members and those outside the movement.
If you are a CSM member I hope I can trust on your support and if you have any questions to ask or any concerns you wish to air then please do not hesitate.

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part CLIV: Rob Carr

 Rob was born and raised in Newcastle upon Tyne and now lives in London.  Until last year, he  worked in the public sector. He now works in Westminster as Communications Manager for the Christian Socialist Movement , and as a political aide to a Labour Peer in the House of Lords.
Having grown up in a family of shipyard workers, trade unionists and Labour Party activists in the Northeast, he is himself a committed political activist campaigning for his trade union (Unite), the Cooperative Party and the Labour Party.
As well as being politically active, he is a Christian. For his sins, he supports Newcastle United. At night, he goes to the gym (sometimes) and out with friends (more often) to have discussions about football, politics and the poor quality of the ale among other things. He likes to have adventures. He doesn’t know how he finds the time either.

What made you decide to start blogging?

 I had kept a paper journal since my teens and had toyed with sites like Geocities  many moons ago. By 2009, I was writing long ranty 'messages' to my facebook wall, so I started a blog on Blogger as a natural progression to that and very quickly migrated to Wordpress. A couple of design changes and the purchase of my own URL later, and here I am 3 years older and wiser.

What is your best blogging experience?

I have to say my best blogging experience is probably an offline one. Through people reading my posts and me commenting on theirs, I've met some really wonderful people who I now count as friends. People like Hopi Sen (hopisen.com), Grace Fletcher-Hackwood at LabourList, and Sadie Smith who now blogs for Total Politics, amongst others. While my blog is yet to bring me the Pulitzer or Nobel prize for prose, it has helped build new relationships with great people.

And your worst?

The worst thing about blogging is the sense of disappointment I get seeing all the unfinished draft posts that I never got around to publishing. Political blogging, at least the type I've been doing, is a very fast moving area sometimes. A news story may break in an afternoon when I'm busy with my day job, I might catch up with it in the evening, write a draft, and go to bed. By the time I've come back to the draft the news as developed and my post never gets beyond the confines of my drafts folder. Once a month or so, I delete the totally unusable ones and get maudlin about missed opportunities to dazzle the world with my insights!

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

There are a fair few posts where I think I've hit the political nail on the head with a great piece of analysis and thinking. But my favourite post is from Feb 10, 2010. That was the first anniversary of my Dad's death and is my obituary to him. It's easily the piece of writing I'm most proud of. I repost it every Feb 10th and fathers day.

 Favourite blogs?

I have a problem with my RSS reader. I really need to have a cull on the number of blogs I follow. I read LabourList and left foot forward every day, along with Hopi Sen, Alastair Campbell, Richard Murphy, stumbling and mumbling, and Lansbury's Lido.

What made you decide to go into politics?

I grew up in the north east in an extended family of shipyard workers, trade unionists and party activists. Watching the end of industry in Newcastle was pretty profound for me and I always had a really strong sense of the injustice around me. I was always an active person, speaking up for  classmates at school, getting involved in community projects and then party politics. It just seemed a natural way to continue to voice that sense of injustice I see.

 What is the best and the worst thing about working for CSM?

The best thing about working for CSM is seeing the difference I can have. Whether that's the testimony of a Christian who has got involved in activism or an MP who I can see is going on a journey discovering how social justice and Christianity can go hand in hand. A few years ago, I was exploring my calling with a Vicar. I wanted to go be a worker in the mission field, but was concerned that I was feeling pulled toward politics. Imagine how good I felt the day it dawned on me that politics is mission!
The worst thing about my job is probably when I or Andy have some great idea but realise we can't do anything with it, because we just don't have the resource. It can be frustrating seeing ideas not get
off the drawing board. However, I try to take a long vew and file them in a notebook for another day.

 Why are you standing for the NEC and why should Labour activists vote for you?

It's very difficult for someone to get elected to the NEC if they're not on a 'slate'. I felt that, with the changes in communication and prominence of social media, I would have my best chance of standing this year and maintaining independence. I'm a strong believer in keeping the party united and as an independent centrist feel I can easily communicate with all sides of our 'broad church'. I want to stand on the NEC as someone who is capable of airing the views of all members, whether on the right or left of the Party. I would hope that activists would want to vote for a fellow activist who is a believer in growing our activist base rather than just having members who pay a subscription but don't do anything. Elections are fought and won on the doorstep and we must equip members to get out there and campaign in their communities to make a difference.

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

I'd love to explore South America. I have a dream of travelling from Tierra del Fuego, up the western side of the continent through Chile and Peru.

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

 I adore North Africa. I was in Tunisia last year and have been to Morocco and Egypt before. The Arab spring had already change Tunisia when I went but I'd love to see it now it's had a first election, and I think I'd want to pop over the border into Libya, but that might have to wait a while!

Bar the present one, who is your favourite Prime Minister, and if different, your favourite Labour leader? 

Well, the present PM is never going to be my favourite! I have a soft spot for Harold Wilson. He had a brilliant touch for reaching out to voters, being seen by the electorate as 'one of us' long before Mandelson and Campbell had even thought about spin. He also had a talent for managing the party through some politically divisive issues and keeping it united.

Which figure has been your greatest inspiration?

I think this is the hardest question in this interview. I'd love to be able to name one person. A Mandela or Gandhi. A Churchill or Brunel. But I think the people who inspire me more are people I meet on a day-to-day basis who've overcome whatever life has thrown at them and succeeded. My brother, Paul, is a great example. Since infancy, he's been blind and paralysed down one side and yet today he works as a gardener. I struggle to get my head around that some days, but it never fails to inspire me.

Favourite Bond movie?

I'd have to go with one of the Connery films. Probably Thunderball. Though Craig is my favourite Bond.

Favorite Doctor Who?

As I'm from Tyneside, I was delighted to learn that all planets have a north, even Gallifrey. So my favourite Doctor is the ninth, Christopher Eccleston. I liked his mix of mischief, cheekiness, and dark sadness.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Can't I have all 3? I guess I'd have to go with mint. I can't have vanilla with lamb!

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

 When I was little, I fell over and hurt my leg one night. My dad took me to casualty at the main hospital in Newcastle, the RVI. It's just along the road from St James' Park, home of Newcastle United. That night Queen were playing. My dad and I sat in the car with the windows down listening. Sadly, I never got to see them from inside the stadium and would love to have.

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

People who know me tend to know I'm a big fan of architecture. Not enough people spend their time looking up as they walk through their cities. There's some magnificent sites to see. And Oxford has more than its share of them. I adore walking through the colleges and churches there.

Favourite national newspaper?

I think if I had to choose one it'd be the guardian. But I rarely buy it, I tend to read the top stories of guardian, independent and times online.

What would you say your hobbies were?

 I play guitar and drums poorly, but it's cathartic. I am also quite a decent artist but don't have space for supplies. I've taken up jogging since December, but that's more chore than hobby!

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

I've often played desert island discs in my head so this should be an easy one. Paint it black by the rolling stones, lady winter by Lindisfarne, and battle of the bean field by the levellers are my favourite songs du jour. I reserve the right to name totally different ones in a week though! As for books, Dumas' The count of monte cristo is one I've read over and over since I was young. The Odyssey by Homer is another perennial favourite. And an utterly impartial history of Britain by John O'Farrell is a great recent read that I thoroughly recommend.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mandelson Not Totally Right on Ed Miliband

I agree with Peter Mandelson up to a point. Yes the public want to see austerity measures, but they also want incentive for growth, they also want the vulnerable in society protected from cuts. There are imaginative ways one can go about that and it is a pity that the coalition are being unimaginative

The Oscars. Who Will Likely Win and Who I think Will Win!

This years nominations are not much of a surprise, bar one or two. But like everyone else there is liley a difference between who I'd like to see win and who will likely win. Who I'd like to see win is in Italics. Who I think will win is in bold.


War Horse

The Tree of Life
The Artist
The Descendants
Midnight in Paris
The Help
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist
Alexander Payne - The Descendants
Martin Scorsese - Hugo
Woody Allen - Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick - The Tree of Life

Jean Dujardin - The Artist
Demian Bichir - A Better Life
Brad Pitt - Moneyball
George Clooney - The Descendants
Gary Oldman - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Glenn Close - Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis - The Help
Rooney Mara - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep - The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams - My Week With Marilyn

Kenneth Branagh - My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill - Moneyball
Nick Nolte - Warrior
Christopher Plummer - Beginners
Max von Sydow - Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Berenice Bejo - The Artist
Jessica Chastain - The Help
Melissa McCarthy - Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer - Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer - The Help

The Artist - Michel Hazanavicius
Bridesmaids - Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig
Margin Call - JC Chandor
Midnight in Paris - Woody Allen
A Separation - Asghar Farhadi



The Descendants - Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash
Hugo - John Logan
The Ides of March - George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
Moneyball - Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin.
Tinker Tailor Solider Spy - Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan

The Adventures of Tintin
The Artist
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
War Horse

In stating all of that though, the chances are I am a bit off the mark ;-)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Another Setback in the Lords for the Govts Benefit Cap Plans

When you get the Bishops arguing against and a Lib Dem rebel no less than Lord Ashdown, then the Coalition need to start to think about whether they are on the right track here. This deals with the wellbeing of a child and children are among the more vulnerable members of society. I trust the government realises that

Monday, January 23, 2012

That Iain Dale Tweet and Public Drunkenness

Many have tweeted and blogged on this, either defending Iain to the hilt or, in more cases, castigating Iain in rather unpleasant terms for what he tweeted. I can understand the latter if they do not know Iain and have only heard of him due to his tweet going viral.
Iain has put forward a strong defence here and it is this I want to address. First of all let's get the criticism out of the way. As I mentioned in my twitter feed I disagreed, and still do, with Iain's actions, namely the "slapper" comment and the taking of the photo. I accept Iain's comment about what the phrase may mean in Essex, but Iain must equally know how that phrase is seen elsewhere and how that may be interpreted. Taking a photo, whether that person was hiding their face or not also struck me as somewhat "off" shall we say, but then Iain does admit in his defence it wasn't very chivalrous. There is also the point that when we someone behaving badly as this woman seems to have done we do not know what is going on in their lives at that moment, but that is not a defence of the woman, merely an observation.
So that's the criticism. I would now like to point out a no of things, namely to Iain's harshest critics. 1) How well do you know Iain? As for me, I wouldn't say he is a friend, we don't mix in the same circles, but he is an acquaintance I get along with and he has been rather helpful and gracious to me (and others) over the years and I have not forgotten that. I have also heard one or two fellow lefties say he is one of the nice guys among the Thatcherite Conservatives and on that I agree. I may strongly disagree with his politics, but I do not doubt his thoughtfulness or his sincerity.
2) Do you travel to and from Central London on a regular basis, especially late at night? I haven't, but I do several times a month on occasion and it is not fun. There is the rush to get back home safely. The waiting for the train at a major station (in my case Kings Cross) and not feeling 100% safe, especially as there is more chance of you being bothered by strangers. Then there is the cattle trucks (as I tend to call them, although to be fair it has not been so bad lately), for the journey home, in finding a spare seat and a degree of personal space. Occasionally one has to deal with loud drunks and yes, many of them are possibly unhappy, and yes it could be any of us on the way home after a few at an event, but trust me. Being on the receiving end is unpleasant. I have had a drunk try and start a conversation with me when I was almost trapped in a crowd by one of the entrances and have pretended not to hear him. I have been stuck on a replacement coach at around 11PM. with an aggressive drunk on board holding up the journey (see my story here). Imagine facing that after a long day, a busy day, and you are tired and you just want to relax and go home! I disagree with Iain's actions but I can certainly see how he was provoked, and whilst his actions were wrong it does not confirm him as an obnoxious right-winger as some would have you believe, rather as someone who has been tired and exhausted and simply snapped. I don't agree with that, but cannot judge him due to, if nothing else, the times I have felt angry in similar situations.
But what does this say about our society? Iain is right, we do need a debate about public drunkenness and the horror it causes, and I have mentioned this before.Maybe I was wrong when I wrote that about the banning of alcohol (although I still see that as a strong option), but certainly we need perhaps tougher sentences as a deterrent, because this does raise the issues of public safety and well-being of others. Hopefully Iain's recent situation may bring that into the open.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hislop: Bring The Public To Account!

This could be seen as facile, but I think Ian Hislop has a point and it is one Jamie Reed (the Labour MP for Copeland) and I briefly touched on during this Podcast last summer. Put basically the worst tabloids would not behave as they have done unless there was a market for it, and so the public should ask themselves why they buy the papers they do, what they constitute as news, and whether they had their part to play in the damage caused by such papers!
We can all do immense damage by simple actions and by a hunger for muckraking and we should admit that, to ourselves if not to others

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Anniversaries Part II: Happy Birthday Muhammad Ali

Today the legendary former boxer is seventy. Whilst I am no fan of the sport, the achievements this man has made outside the Ring is tremendous. I wish him well

Anniversaries Part I: 100 Years Since Scott Arrived at the South Pole

Whilst this is tremendous, I do feel that it would have been nice if the anniversary of Amundsen's attainment last month was given the same amount of celebration.
In many ways Scott was a capable and brilliant leader, but he also had his flaws and I do think that we have a problem with over-praising and over-denigrating Scott. In a similar way one should not ignore Shackleton and his amazing achievements, whilst at the same time ignoring his faults.
I am sure though a time will come when that will all happen

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Iron Lady - A Review

So with two hours to spare yesterday I succumbed to temptation and went to see The Iron Lady at the cinema.
I was a few mins late and I did wonder if I had done the right thing as I noticed a no of the audience were of a certain age and looked suspiciously like Tories. I am sure that wasn't entirely the case but it did make an uncomfortable moment as I hoped I was going to be sitting among a cheering crowd, thankfully that did not happen either.
I have to say my feelings for the film are mixed. It needed to be longer, deal more with the issues of her premiership and it also needed to show both sides of the story (and that would have been hard), in showing not only why Thatcher was adored, but also why her opponents disliked her the way they did. It also fell into the usual pit (where film biopics are concerned) of glaring inaccuracy. Margaret Thatcher was not in the Commons Car Park when Airey Neave was murdered, she was at a publicity event elsewhere in London. It also does not make clear that Heath was Opposition leader, not Prime Minister by the time Margaret Thatcher challenged him. The use of archive footage the way they did also gave it a "Made for TV" feel.
That said, it was outstanding in some key areas. Meryl Streep did a brilliant performance and for that, merits an Oscar . It also showed her background as a Grocer's daughter and a rising politician in a way which made it clear why she became the woman she was, or indeed is, and it showed a side to her decline in a way which, whilst it showed that for longer than was perhaps necessary, was dealt with more sensitively than it could have been.
I would recommend it, but as I have said, my views of this film are mixed and perhaps the ideal three hour biopic would be difficult to make, but it does come across as a "Thatcher for beginners" and perhaps that is how we should see it

Three Cheers for the Lib Dem Rebels Over Welfare Bill

Last nights defeat for the government thanks to Lib Dem rebels in the House of Lords was not typical Realpolitik, it was a success for common decency. Yes the deficit needs to be cut, but is cutting benefit and therefore attacking the vulnerable the way to go about it? The Conservatives have a track record on this sort of thing where you wonder if they do it because they can't fight back. Well some of them can fight back and others with bones of decency and fair play do fight back for those that can't. Any government that attacks welfare and the like in order to save costs and does not go for more undeserving cases is a government which, at best, has twisted morals.

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part CLIII: Tom Scholes-Fogg

Tom Scholes-Fogg is the Co-Editor of the book "What Next for Labour? Ideas for a New Generation". Formerly trained as a Chef at the Hilton, Tom has held various positions in the Labour Party at branch, constituency, and district level. His blog/website can be found here.

What made you decide to start blogging?

I started blogging in 2009. I read many blogs as I still do and thought why not set up my own blog and see if anybody is interested in what I have to say. I would highly recommend people to set up a blog but there is one problem.....it is addictive.

What is your best blogging experience?

Probably the article I published about Cameron’s NHS Privatisation meeting. 

 And your worst?

I would say the piece I published about the student protests in 2010, I perhaps could have phrased my points better.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

The piece I published in January 2010 about David Cameron’s NHS Privatisation meeting. It is my most read blog to date. Sadly what I said in that blog is starting to come true.

Favourite blogs?

Guido, Conservative home, Alastair Campbell and Labour Uncut.

What made you decide to go into politics?

I accidently ‘fell into’ politics. I originally trained as a chef and it is only through doing impressions that I started listening to what politicians were saying. With my background and the values, I joined the Labour Party.

What policies do you think Labour should pursue to make them electable to both Middle Class, and C2 voters?

My colleague and I tackle this very issue in ‘What next for Labour?’. I’ll try and reduce my answer from 296 pages to a few lines.

Labour need to restore their economic credibility, remain pro-business, support SMEs, and address the bread and butter issues relevant to C2DE voters such as housing, immigration and jobs.

You mention a no of political issues on your blog that mean a great deal to you. Which particular issue stands out most of all for you?

I’m very passionate about the armed and emergency services. For me it would be supporting our services much more. I think politicians need to work together on this rather than trying to score petty political points. Our service personnel do a fantastic job and we should be doing more for them.

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


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

I love France, particularly Normandy. I have been many times and I plan to visit again very soon.

Bar the present one, who is your favourite Labour leader, and if different, your favourite Prime Minister?

This is a tough one as a number of leaders have done a good job so it is difficult to pick one. I would say Clem Attlee is my favourite Labour leader followed by John Smith, and Tony Blair my favourite Prime Minister.

Which Christian figure has been your greatest inspiration?

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams talks a lot of sense.

Favourite Bond movie?

Tomorrow never dies.

Favorite Doctor Who?

I am not a fan of Dr Who.....dare I say that?

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Chocolate! Definitely. Everybody loves chocolate.

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

I would have loved to see the Beatles.

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

Oxford. I know a few chaps who live in Oxford and I keep saying I’ll visit.

Favourite national newspaper?

I read a lot of newspapers. Probably the Times.

What would you say your hobbies were?

 Hobbies include royal history, genealogy, tweeting and cooking as I used to be a chef.

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

Songs: Anything from Adele, Feeling Good (Muse), and Just say yes (Snow patrol).

Books: I won’t say my book.....so, the biography of Oskar Schindler, Peter Kay: Sound of Laughter, and the complete works of Charles Dickens.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Scotland Decides

I agree that there should be a referendum, but equally I believe that some respect should be given to the current constitutional procedures. The Houses of Parliament still has some authority over the Scottish Parliament and therefore the government has a right to have some say. However I do agree with regards to a two year process as this is too important an issue to be flippant about or ignore. Scotland needs to make firm decisions about it's future, let us do it carefully and thoughtfully

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

St Paul's Protestors Village

Last night Rachel and I went for a walk after a meal and ended up outside St Paul's which was unplanned, but I am glad we went by because I cannot see the protests as a major problem unless they were having a major event there!
There were about 150 tents, or not much more, and the atmosphere was peaceful if subdues. There was wide enough space to enter and leave the Cathedral entrance, more than 30 ft wide in fact. Compared to the protesters who used to be camped outside the Palace of Westminster it was a walk in the Park. I honestly cannot see what the major fuss was about, unless it is a social embarrassment issue or a Royal Wedding or VIP Memorial service was about to take place.

Cameron and Tourette's and Abbott on Racism

Both have apologised for their comments (see here and here) but it shows how careful politicians need to be when making off the cuff comments. In Diane Abbott's case she needed to be aware that Twitter is a dangerous place for this and it is hard to make comments out of context. She should have affirmed what she meant by her comments in a follow up tweet. As for Cameron, well he seems to have what one can politely call an "old school" humour (take his "calm down dear!" comments for example), but he needs to remember that he is Prime Minister and that it is important in this day and age not to needlessly cause offence. Equally it is is important for a Prime Minister to be sensitive to the concerns of the electorate and I imagine plenty of voters with tourette's feel they now have a PM who does not understand or care about their condition.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Kelvin Mackenzie at the Leveson Inquiry

Bullish and unpleasant as per usual, Mackenzie was successfully routed on the Anne Diamond case and his role as Sun Editor during most of his time there. I say most of the time because he did say he was more restrained towards the end because of the commercial changes and this is where I have real problems with this sort of Journalism is that it has a "give the people what they want!" attitude and to grab their attention it goes for sensationalist muckraking, rather than to educate, entertain, and inform which is better. Why because the latter tends to be more predisposed to the truth, the former by being sensationalist is more inclined to slide off the rails, and many people expect to, or feel it is an ideal, to believe most of what they read in newspapers

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Wrong Way to Reform the Lords

To cut in half, the membership of any Upper and/or Revising Chamber so that it has half the members that exist in the Lower and/or Primary Chamber, seems ridiculous. There are many ways to reform the House of Lords, and if you want more dedicated members and to strengthen it as a revising chamber, perhaps the best thing to do is to make that chamber elected.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Murdoch On Twitter

So, it seems that Rupert Murdoch is now among the Twitterati.
My first thought, when realising it was genuine, was that this was a PR exercise to countenance the recent negative news and the likely bad news that will come about in the coming weeks and months.I still think that.
That said, one can expect some fascinating stuff that will come through as a result, but lets not get sentimental or too disgusted about this. At the end of the day Rupert Murdoch is a human being who has helped denigrate our media and institutions, not some mythical deity to be worshipped and/or feared

Monday, January 02, 2012

Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia

Fantastic start to series 2. Many twists and turns and some dark humour as well, such as when Moriarity got distracted by a phone call! It also makes you realise that just when you think you have sussed out the lead characters, you find you haven't! Keep at it Mr Moffat and Mr Gatiss, you are thousands of miles from jumping the shark yet!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

A Short Review of the Year 2011


The Arab Spring

The Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge


Pete Postlethwaite

Gerry Rafferty

Susannah York

Sargent Shriver

John Barry

Gary Moore

Nicholas Courtney

Jane Russell

Michael Gough

Elizabeth Taylor

Sidney Lumet

Elisabeth Sladen

Jackie Cooper

Seve Ballesteros

Garret FitzGerald

Peter Falk

Archduke Otto of Austria

Betty Ford

Amy Winehouse

Steve Jobs

George Baker

Diane Cilento

Joe Frazier

Christopher Hitchens

Václav Havel


The King's Speech

The Adventures of Tintin

Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows


Rachel Stalker (for making her mark in politics, in particular in Harlow), and being a fantastic girlfriend

Tom Baker (for taking the plunge and joining the Big Finish Team)

The people of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Syria (need I explain why!)


Ed Miliband (for keeping a steady pace), and also to Yvette Cooper (one of Labour's best fighters), oh and Rory Weal, for THAT speech


Labour Party Conference, getting into a deeper relationship with Rachel, and life just gradually changing for the better


I hardly ever, if that, tire of their tweets and they are amusing, clever, witty, and wonderful, and helped also keep me sane during a difficult period this year :-)


"Anybody who saw The French Lieutenant's Woman had a crush." - President Barack Obama revealing he one for Meryl Streep

"Celebrity is horrible. It's a ghastly, vile thing." -- Daniel Radcliffe

"It is mortifying to acknowledge conduct that is not only contrary of public decorum but intrinsically sad and empty." -- Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, head of Italy's bishops' conference, on Silvio Berlusconi.

"This is one of the most humble days of my life." -- Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp, at parliamentary committee hearing on the phone-hacking scandal.

Happy New Year everyone