Saturday 31 December 2005

Lies, damn Lies and Tory Statisitcs

Hidden away near the bottom of the side column of page 4 of yesterdays Scottish Edition of The Times I found the following.

The Conservatives have outpolled all parties in local by-elections in Scotland over the past 2 years, they claimed. The party produced figures showing that since May 2003 it had polled 10,683 votes in local by-elections, compared with Labour's 10,219, the SNP's 9833 and hte Liberal democrats 73,05. The Tories with 23% of the share-of-the-vote tables.

Intriged I decided to investigate using this very usual list of by-election results from the Lib Dem website.

For a start there have been 34 local authority by-elections in Scotland since May 2003. Two of these North Morningside/Grange and Drumry cannot be counted in the same 2 year tally as the last five/six, so the Conservatives should really come clean and say the last 2 and a half years for a start.

Of these seats Labour had won 11 in May 2003, the Independents 10, the Tories 7, The SNP 3 and the Lib Dems 2. One ward Speyside has had two by elections the first being won by the SNP in August 2004. This represents a heavily skewed sample in May 2003 the Tories won 122 seats (10%), Labour 509 (42%), SNP 182(15%) Lib Dems 175(14%), Independents and others 236 (19%), compare that to the sample which had 21% defended by the Conservatives, 33% Labour, 9% SNP, 6% Lib Dem and 30% Others.

The next interesting statistic is that of the 7 Tory held seats which faced a by election 6 of these the Conservatives had over 40% of the vote in 2003, In fact on three occasions they had pulled more than 50% of the vote in 2003 and twice it was over 60%.

In 2003 in these 33 seats Labour polled 34.75%, SNP 24%, Lib dems 13.63%, Tories 24.3%, compared to 32.63%, 24.07%, 14.54% and 15.07% respectively. Showing a further Conservative advatage from the sample.

However, the change in share of vote in these elections makes interesting reading. Labour -7.8%, SNP +0.1%, Lib Dem +5.9%, Conservative +2% SSP -0.3%. So even from their strong starting part they were not hte biggest gainers.

However, best of all is that the fact that they have not been able to add up. Either since May 2003 or Jan 2004 I only get the Tories in 2nd place, which is exactly were they started in these seats in the first place. Labour 10,543 (May 2003 16,520), Conservatives 10,324 (11,551), SNP 9,434 (11,409), Lib Dems 7,644 (6,481) SSP 1,208 (1,577). Since January 2004 and therefore the last two years Labour 9,735 Conservatives 9,548, SNP 9,196, Lib Dems 6,746 and SSP 1,017.

Indeed the only party to actually increased its vote on about 3/4 of the vote in the by elections has been the Lib Dems.

So statistically this report was using false statistics, it is also using a heavily skewed sample in favour of one party over the others. I shall be writting to the Times seeking a correction.

Friday 30 December 2005

The Petition that Nobody is Taking Seriously

First Jonathan Calder aka Mickey Mouse, of Cheesebourough, then Stephen Tall impersonating Charles Kennedy himself, have tested and shown up the inauthority of this petition set up by the Liberal and reported by the BBC.

So I decided to go one better and signed as A C L Blair, that is Anthony Charles Lynton aka Tony, of Westminster at just to see if it would be accepted. Well not surprising it went through with no difficulty. If any Tom, Dick or Tony can just march unto this website and sign up to demand our leader steps down it is a travesty of democracy.

We are a democratic party. All leadership elections are decided by one member one STV vote of the entire membership. Charles was returned unopposed at the start of the current parliament there is no challenger standing against him, therefore he is the leader of the Liberal Democrats. The press just seem to like recycling this story as they don't like the difficulty they face in reporting the new three party politics that hte country is facing (it always has been four for us Scots). the press would rather see us Liberal democrats unravel.

I'm sorry guys that is not going to happen, we are looking to the future and seeking to improve our position across the Uk you're just going to have to get used to us being around and challenging in all parts of the country. Hope you have a wonderful new year and hope you find a different Lib Dem story under Charles Kennedy's leadership to report by the end of 2006.

Tuesday 27 December 2005

Back from Christmas Holiday

Well I'm back. After a few short days back in Northern Ireland visiting my family I safely arrived back in Scotland last night.

It is amazing just how much you can fit into such a short time. Christmas week for the Glenn family involves two birthdays my dad on the 22nd and my elder nephew on Christmas Eve. When you add in the midnight service on Christmas eve, Christmas Morning service, watching two little boys enjoy their presents, plus playing (and winning) a football match on Boxing Day. I'm glad to be back in Scotland to relax by working up momentum for the 2007 elections.

TV highlights of the holiday have to include David Tennants's explosive debut as the Doctor. That has probably got to be the most spectacular TRADIS entry ever. It is a shame that power seemed to get to Prime Minster Margaret Blaine in such a short period of time.

The last appearance of Ronnie Barker with Ronnie Corbett in their 'Christmas Sketchbook' brought a tear to the eye. As did the obvious ending to a number of characters and possibly the show in 'Little Britain' on Christmas Eve. So we had two Prime Minsters in trouble in the space of 24 hours but neither of them is the MP for Sedgefield.

Monday 19 December 2005

Here Come the Brides (and Grooms)

Well at 10am this morning at Belfast City Hall, just up Chichester Street from one of my former places of employment, history was made. Shannon Sickles and Grainne Close become the first gay couple to take advantage of the Civil Partnership Act. There were unable to formalise their relationship in Ms Sickles home state of New York where there is not recognition of gay partnerships. Henry Kane and Christopher Flanagan were next in line to keep their appointment with the registrar.

It is good to see Northern Ireland making history for a breakthrough in tolerance and civil liberty for a change.

However, it wasn’t all rosy outside City Hall, some of the Rev. Ian Paisley’s Free Presbyterian Church members were protesting. But then Shatesbury Square wouldn’t be quite the same without some sort of protest.

Sunday 18 December 2005

Timetable for Conservative Change

When can we judge Cameron? He is saying that he is preparing to create a new Conservative sensitivity. Let’s see when he is looking at giving us these alternatives to the May 2005 manifesto which he authored.

Zac Goldsmith is heading up the environment policy group, they are expected to have policies in June 2007. ON the site seeking Lib Dem defections he is asking:

"How can we balance the urgent need to tackle climate change with the need to provide security of energy supply?"

Yet in May he did not seem to recognise Climate Change as an issue it was not mentioned at all in his manifesto.

On asylum David is considering another U-turn dropping the Conservative Party’s policy of imposing a cap on the number asylum seekers Britain can accept. This will come as a shock to most of the conservatives that stood for Westminster in Scotland as they were the sole party not looking at allowing immigration to make up for Scotland’s skill shortages. Therefore I have no idea how he is going to force this through his party as many of his MPs claim that their southern constituencies are actually highly sensitive over htis issue.

It is clear therefore that David Cameron’s plea to Liberal Democrats is nothing more than opportunism. Thankfully I’m glad that most of the people who vote Liberal democrat do so as result of looking at the policies and realising there is substance unlike the hyperbole and empty phrases and promises that the other parties.

Personally looking at what he promising the turn the Conservative Party into I can see him being challenged for the leadership in less time than Iain Duncan Smith. And if he is serious about these being his beliefs expect to see the Lib Dems defending their new MP for Witney in the 2009/10 General Election.

Saturday 17 December 2005

Two Daglishes on the Park This Afternoon

No that is not a type there were two guys called daglish on the turf at Almondvale today. Not only was Paul up to his usual good job up front but his old man, better known as Celtic, Liverpool and Scotland's Kenny Daglsih (I know he also managed Blackburn and Newcastle).

It was possibly the first time Kenny has been introduced on a football field as the father of his son. But he made the half time draw and from my vantage point standing just beside the tunnel I was close to my footballing legend. I was even closer when he sat in the director's box, but I had been even closer still in either 1989 or 1990 while I was standing at Euston Station waiting for the night train to Stranraer.

Kenny, and I think Paul, from a few years back.

I was looking up at the boards when who should come beside me but the manager of my other football team Kenny Daglish, for someone who would later seek to be an elected representative I found myself tongue-tied. Even worse after he moved away he came and stood beside me again; still the words failed to come out.

Any way the match ended Livingston 0 Aberdeen 0; a result and a point I would have taken before kick off, but sadly not what we deserved as we were by far the better team on the park.

However, I'll be up bright and early tomorrow morning to see if Liverpool can become World Club Champions; as I'm sure will Kenny.

John Spencer AKA Leo McGarry has Died

American actor John Spencer aka Leo McGarry from The West Wing and Tommy Mullaney from LA Law has died from a heart attack at the age of 58.

I know many Lib Dems are fans of the West Wing, indeed some of my local party discussed the latest series (only number 6 here in the UK) after our AGM. However, John was also a fan of the Liberal Democrats in fact a signed message of support hangs in Scottish party headquarters.

However, with season 7 of the West Wing still in production it means there will have to be a sudden plot line change for the remainder of the season, especially as Leo's character is fairly central to this year's run.

Sadly his death is a case of life inmitating art at the end of the second episode of season 6 Birnam Wood John's charater Leo has a heart attack in the grounds of Camp David. Unlike Leo who recovered to take part in the campaign of Jed Bartlett's successor John has not been so lucky.

Alison Janney who currently plays Chief of Staff, and former Press Secreatry, C. J. Cregg said:

"John was a consummate professional actor and everyone adored him. We will miss him deeply."

Bradley Whitford who played Deputy Chief of Staff and now Santos/McGarry Campaign manager Josh Lyman said:

"I can't believe that he is gone; We have all lost a dear, dear brother."

The shows creator Aaron Sorkin and oringinal executive producer Tommy Schlamme paid tribute as well by saying:

"We're shocked and deeply saddened by the sudden death of our friend and colleague.

"John was an uncommonly good man, an exceptional role model and a brilliant actor. We feel privileged to have known him and worked with him. He'll be missed and remembered every day by his many, many friends."

This is my favourite Leo McGarry quote which sums up the charater of the man, there is a crisis going down but he has spotted that the New York times has messed up in its crossword has not spelt Ghadaffi's name wrong to fit the grid nor given it enough letters for the clue.

Leo McGarry: [on the phone with the New York Times from the Chief of Staff's Office next door to the Oval Office] 17 across. Yes, 17 across is wrong. ...You're spelling his name wrong. ...What's my name? My name doesn't matter. I am just an ordinary citizen who relies on the Times crossword for stimulation. And I'm telling you that I met the man twice. And I recommended a pre-emptive missle strike against his air force, so I think I know how...

C.J. Cregg: Leo!

Leo: They hang up on me every time!

Lib Dems Truely are the Online Party

So yesterday I mentioned that this site had immerged as part of a coup to drag a reluctant David Cameron into the Liberal Democrats.

Today I mistyped the site to find this and there is also this proving that the Lib Dems are truely the party of the 21st Century and know their way around cyberspace. My hat is off to the people behind both these very rapidly produced rebuttal sites.

Friday 16 December 2005

Cameron has Given Up On Scotland Already

Just to see what the oppostion are up to I took at look at the Lib Dems 4 Cameron website. They have a map which turns all the Lib Dems seats tory blue for every part of the UK except Scotland.

So at least I can sleep well tonight knowing that David Cameron isn't pursuing me to join his new Conservatives.

Young Dave has Spoken

Well Cameron has spoken and apparently all I have to agree with him on is a commitment to green policies, localism and deregulation and then I should fit easily into the new Tory party. I’m not convinced and neither is Simon Hughes. It will take a lot more than a change of clothes and no new policies to make the sort of waves he is urgently looking for.

As Simon said:

"Talking about the environment, social justice, and a brave new world, is different from changing policy on nuclear power, fairer taxes, and Europe.

"They haven't changed their policy and, until they do so, Mr Cameron should be judged by his authorship of the last Conservative manifesto."

Let us not forget that young Dave and his shadow chancellor were two of the main architects of this.

So Mr. Cameron it’ll take a lot more than a new face to make those of us who have battled against Conservatism for years in various locations to simply up and jump ship. However, it is good to know you realise where the real talent is located, shame you won’t be able to pilfer it.

Leadership Crisis Culprit Revealed

There appears to a leadership crisis is the offing . Apparently David Cameron is about to launch his own brand of "modern compassionate Conservatism", including more environmentally friendly policies. How this will go down the farming, 4x4 driving and industrial supporter who make up the Tory core vote? There is talk of social justice, which is not going down well the BUPA members as this may give their buy to let tenants.

Apparently this is an attempt to woo the Liberal Democrat voters. So I appears that we have found the person who has been briefing against Charles Kennedy. Yes it was the same young policy advisor who was standing on the sidelines during Norman Lamont’s statements on Black Wednesday. That person may now be leader of the conservative party. However, within two weeks he has realised that his membership is largely getting older and is dying off. So he is aiming to take over as leader of the youngest, most forward looking and rapidly growing party. Step forward David Cameron as he launches his bid to be the next leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Sadly I understand on good authority that there are too many illiberal skeletons in his closet for this coup to succeed.

Thursday 15 December 2005

So We Discussed...

Was at my first Liberal Democrat gathering following this weeks news of attempted leadership coups, the Edinburgh Council Groups Jazz Reception. Did we discuss potential leaders to follow Charles Kennedy? No!

What we did discuss was how we can move the party on from our good performance in 2005 to make the most of the Scottish parliament and Council votes in Edinbught, Lothian and Scotland in 2007.

OK there was the occasional sentance about the weeks events but there was no forming of rival camps, no lobbying for potential leaders later this year. No there were far more important things open for discussion and so these were discussed:

Mobilisation of non-activists.

Organising across constituency boundaries for the new Multi-Member wards.

How Lib Dems strive for gender balance against David Cameron's grand scheme.

So any flies on the wall would have had a boring night of gettting what they expected all told.

Bizarre Labour Response to Post Office Closure

It is interesting to see just what sort of public response new Labour run West Lothian Council have to the closure of Bathgate’s main Post Office. Especially as I have posted my thoughts on this on the football club’s website. This is quite an good public arena locally because, as well as myself, a SNP and a Labour councillor are both regular posters.

Somebody had posted that the development of Livingston was shutting Bathgate, once a prospering beating heart of West Lothian, down. I responded that it was actually shutting West Lothian down. So imagine my delight when Labour Councillor Willie Dunn, who is also Deputy leader of the Council, came on an posted not about the Post Office situation but attacking my signature in light of the above post.

My signature comes straight from the West Lothian Lib Dem Website:

Working for Livingston and Linlithgow & Falkirk East with a link to the website.

Wednesday 14 December 2005

One ASBO Good More and the Police Can't Cope

Proof that ASBOs are not the best use of police resources comes today from West Lothian’s divisional commander.

While Superintendent Jim Coupland admitted the recent ASBO in Mid Calder had been a success he also told councillors that he would not have resources to police 2 or 3 concurrent dispersal orders across West Lothian. This adds weight to the Liberal Democrats believe that Acceptable Behaviour Contracts are a better way to deal with anti-social behaviour.

ABCs should be set up as a preventative measure rather than ASBOs having to deal with the effects when things go wrong. The result is that young people who signed up for fir ABCs in Islington learnt to take responsibilty for unacceptable behaviour. Similarly Parental control Contracts have been designed for parent of offending children under the age of 10.

Considering the lack of available police manpower to tackle concurrent ASBOs in West Lothian perhaps the local council should look at involving the community more in preventing anti-social behaviour before they find themselves unable to cope with the effects.

My Two Pence Worth on Leadership Shenanigans

I was going to start my post, about the briefing in the corridors of power against the party leader, by supposing I had got elected in May. But then seeing as on some projections Linlithgow and Falkirk East would have given us a overall majority Charles Kennedy would be residing in Number 10 and the issue would not have come up.

A lot has been said and written in the last 24 hours by my fellow Liberal Democrats. My fellow Bangorian Lembit Opik said "I would say if the boss delivers the best result in 82 years, you keep them on."

Stephen Tall points out that not everything CK does is perfect, nor does he please all of the members all of the time. But he argues that the man should be allowed to come to his own decision and not be briefed about behind his back.

James at Quaegquam Blog! warned of the problems of trying to live a life yesterday as Jonathan Calder noticed the BBC had changedits story to this.

Of course this is the biggest thing for us Lib Dems to write about today. Personally I’m ashamed that some of our senior figures are taking a backhanded route to try to oust the leader. Also if they have issues they should take these to the leader, after all we the party of openness, are we not?

However, I think Will Howells puts it best in this open letter.

Space Cadet - Who's Fooling Who

It appears that tow of the so-called ordinary members of the public being fooling into not going to space on Channel 4's Space Cadets may actually be actors after all. How many of the other 8 are may need some more digging.

Iranian President Calls Holocaust a 'Myth'

The Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has further enraged Isreal by saying the Nazi Holocaust is a myth.

He then says, if this happened, the countries responsible should give up some of their land in Europe, America, Canada or wherever to give these people a homeland. Therefore he is ignoring millennia of oppression of the Isreali people, including from the Persians, that forced them from their own homeland in the first place. Somehow he is attempting to justify oppression of the Palestinian people by oppressing another nation.

There is no reason why we cannot come to an amicable solution over the Isreali/Palestinian issue but diatribes like this are not helpful to either side and just heighten already existing tensions in the area.

Tuesday 13 December 2005

Bathgate Main Post Office Set to Close

The Main Post Office in Bathgate is set to close under plans released today. A new post office will then be relocated in the Spar shop in the town.

Although this is only 150 metres away from the current location it is relying on the long term commitment of the Spar to maintain the post office on its premises. Recently the Carmondean Post Office was under threat when Safeways was taken over by Morrisons. Morrisons refused to maintain the post office as part of their take over of the business.

The people of Bathgate will be trusting a large number of much needed services to the whim of a retailer who may renege on the franchise if it does not prove profitable enough for their liking, or if the chain goes under or taken over. Then the community may find a newcomer to take up the Post Office franchise not so easy to find.

Monday 12 December 2005

What if it had been Grangemouth?

Living near the fuel storage depot and refinery of Grangemouth I was wondering what would the equivalent impact of been if Buncefield had happened here. This map was taken from Encarta and modified.

The map above has the extent of the smoke cloud from Buncefield yesterday superimposed on a map of the same scale of central Scotland. As you can see the cloud would have stretched from Glasgow to Edinburgh. In fact Irvine and possibly Troon would be under the cloud to the west.

It would have stretched almost as far as the southern coast of Loch Lomond however, Milngavie, Erskine and the majority of the Glasgow conurbation would have been under the cloud out west. To the southern extent it would have strethed as far as Biggar, Peebles and Galasheils over the the eastern end.

Edinburgh like Glasgow would be almost totally enveloped with Prestonpans and Tranent just outside the eastern shadow. Falkirk, Cumbernauld and Livingston would all be in very dense smoke. as West Lothian, North and South Lanarkshire and the southern shore of the Forth would all be in the thick of it.

In fact the Forth is a worrying addition to the Grangemouth scenario. The expolsion was heard up to 100 miles away from Brucefield. What force would that have made? Would that have created some form of tidal wave or mini-Tsunami in the Forth Estuary? The impact would have gone both up and down stream affecting Kincardine and Stirling upstream. Torry Bay on the opposite banks. Rosyth shipyard down stream, along with Bo'ness the Queensferry towns, Dalgety Bay. And what about the famous bridges themselves?

It is scary to contemplate the added affects this incident could have had at Grangemouth. It is horrifying to work out part of the area affected based on a local scenario. Even knowing that the snapshot I usedwas not the full extent of the cloud of smoke it is still a harrowing thought. I think we are very lucky that nobody was critically injured in this incident.

Tony Blair's Broken Resolutions of 2005

Almost a year after the Tsunami and Tony Blair has failed to meet his promise to more than match public donations from the public purse.

£300 million were donated by the British public yet of the £275 million committed by government only £75 million has gone to direct humanitarian aid.

This is becoming a year of broken promises by Tony Blair as similarly he failed to meet expectations of his promise to Make Poverty History. If you want to send a Christmas card to the Prime Minister to ask him to meet his promises and encourage others to do so you can do so at the Make Poverty History website.

Sunday 11 December 2005

China Adjust Massacre Estimate

As I yesterday there were reports of a massacre near Shanwei in Guangdong province. The Chinese authorites have up their declared number of people killed by 50% to 3. Howver, the locals are still claiming as many as 20 have been taken.

This is the second rural demostration in rural Guangdong this year the previous one occured in Taishi village. Most of these demostrations are against corruption, pollution and land seizures that are affecting rural life in China. Whole villages have already been uprooted in a number of schemes carried out by the Chinese government.

Saturday 10 December 2005

Double Standards of Woolworths

One wonders what Woolworths are attempting to do.

Earlier this week they said they had withdrawnJerry Springer the musical from their shelves because of 'numerous' complaints about it.

Then the claimed it was over lack of sales.

yet you can buy it from thier online shop.

Indeed the website is doing its outmost to sell this product with this gushing review.

"The Opera is the smash-hit multi-award winning musical, which opened to unprecedented rave reviews and standing ovations at the National Theatre. The Opera is the smash-hit multi-award winning musical, which opened to unprecedented rave reviews and standing ovations at the National Theatre."

So maybe neither point one or point two are actually correct. I wonder just what Woolworths will have to say for themselves.

Massacre in China

Reports and pictures are coming out of China of a massacre of reportedly as many as 70 people in Dongzhou, Shanwei. Official Government sources are reporting only two dead yet these pictures would seem to back up independent sources claims that the death toll is far higher.

These killings took place close to Hong Kong on Tuesday as residents were protesting against the construction of a power plant. Official sources say they were throwing bombs at the police and army while eye witnesses are reporting that these were only fireworks.

If the reported death toll is correct it is the worse massacre since Tiananmen Square but this one was away from the western camera crews.

Coming just 3 years before Beijing is due to host the Olympic Games the readiness of the Chinese authorities to still suppress protest by deadly force is a worrying sign. What will happen if such a protest were to break out in Beijing during the high profile international event that is the Olympics? Would innocent foreigners caught up in such a protest be slain as well?

There had been concerns when Beijing was awarded the XXIX Olympiad that their human rights record was still not suitable to host such an event. The events of the last few days, the deadly force, suppression of news and government cover up show that little has changed inwardly in China.

Maybe it is time for the International Olympic Committee to seek an alternative venue capable to hosting the games at very short notice.

Scotland to Cheer on Trinidad and Tobago

My prediction for the world cup is that there will be a high demand for Trindad and Tobago shirts here in Scotland.

With Dundee keeper Kelvin Jack, Rangers defender Marvin Andrews, Falkirk Midfielder Russell Latapy Dundee United Striker Colin Samuel and St. Johnston Striker Jason Scotland all hailing from Trindad and Tobago, not to mention Dwight Yorke, Shaka Hislop, Dennis Lawrence, Scotland fans loved England's world cup draw.

Devon Mitchell, Errol McFarlane, Jerron Nixon, Anthony Rougier, Brent Sancho, Arnold Dwarika and Lyndon Andrews have also all had spells in Scottish football. They even have a Gary Glasgow on the squad who like Scotland is aptly named though has never played in Scotland. Indeed the full list of clubs in Scotland for whom these players have plied their trade is Rangers, Dundee, Dundee United, Falkirk, Hibernian, Livingston, St. Johnston, Raith Rovers and East Fife.

In fact if you see the full list of players who are currently playing in Britain it makes some interesting reading:

Chris Birchall (Port Vale), Russel Latapy (Falkirk), Jason Scotland (St Johnstone), Stern John (Derby), Kenwyne Jones (Southampton), Kelvin Jack (Dundee), Marvin Andrews (Rangers), Dennis Lawrence (Wrexham), Carlos Edwards (Luton), Shaka Hislop (West Ham), Brent Sancho (Gillingham), Hector Sam (Wrexham)

So be prepared for cheers of Marv, Marv, Super Marv, Super Marvin Andrews whenever a ball is cleared from defense leaving Owen, Rooney or even Crouch looking stupid.

Friday 9 December 2005

Equity Opposes Sainsburys and Woolworths in Springergate

The actors' union Equity has voiced its concern about the removal of Jerry Springer: The Opera from the shelves of Woolworths and Sainsburys.

They issue is two fold their General Secretary Christine Payne has issued the following statement:

"Equity is opposed to the action which Woolworths and Sainsbury's have taken on two grounds. Firstly, Equity strongly supports artistic freedom and equally strong opposes censorship in all its forms, however offended any individual may feel themselves to be by a particular piece of dramatic art.

"Secondly, Equity members derive income from the sales of recorded material, including DVDs, and so stand to lose income from actions such as these.

"Equity is inviting all of its members to make their views known to Sainsbury’s and Woolworths about these acts of censorship."

So the ruckus rumbles on. Isn't it amazing how much negative publicity 10-20 complaints have received? I have noticed at least 50 bloggers who have mentioned this, then there was the BBC online article, not to mention the number of emails and letters that are winging their way to the Sainsbury and Woolworth ivory towers.

Strangely unlike earlier this week both companies are now telling the media that it was done for commercial reasons not as only yesterday or in the email I received because of complaints alone.

USA Attention Deficient on Climate Change

What is it with the Bush administration and climate change?

First they back out of the promises made by the Clinton administration about the Kyoto Protocols. Of course they had to cheat the most environmental minded almost President out of the white house by shutting down the recount in Florida to do so.

Then they seem to blindly think that climate change is somehow not going to affect them, as they glibly drive around in their gas guzzling cars, even to the end of the drive to pick up the paper and mail.

Now it appears their representatives have walked out of the latest UN climate conference in Canada.

I just hope many American's take to heart the message that former President Clinton gave the conference when he said:

"There is no longer any serious doubt that climate change is real, accelerating and caused by human activities."

Sadly I think the only place that doubt still exists is in the West Wing and the Oval Office. Even the plea of Prime Minster Martin of the host nation that the USA needed to heed "the conscience of the world" was formally declined by the US delegation.

Maybe we'll see Bush on an episode of Jerry Springer in a few years time entitled "Sorry I left the thermostat on too high", but then again he'll probably have deep fried before he realises that.

Pipe Down or You'll Get an ASBO

Schoolboy piper Andrew Caulfield has been told he cannot practise his bagpipes at home anymore or he will be landed with an Anti-Social Behaviour Order. It is not that Andrew is a novice piper who tortures the air with inexperienced squeaks and squeals but at 13 he has already piped Santa in to lights on for the same council that is threatening him now. He also teaches other aspiring pipers on the canter.

After being 2 decibels over the limit on a simulated test his parents bought him a quieter set of pipes but the council have refused to retest the conditions.

Is this a case of an ASBO too far? What does this mean for the traditional music of Scotland, if pipers can no longer practise in their own homes?

Meanwhile to follow up on Mid Calder's ASBO the calming effect was evident last weekend. However, Charles Dundas, the Lib Dem candidate from both Westminster Elections for the area this year, while praising the police expressed concern that Anti-social Behaviour Contracts, which are used by some other councils, were not explored. These would have which helped to prevent anti-social behaviour before it took place, rather than an ASBO which deals with the problems after the event.

Thursday 8 December 2005

Will Blair Remember Them?

The exclusion zone of protest outside our nations Parliament at Westminster has resulted in a most illiberal conviction.

Yesterday under Section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act a 25 year old woman was found guilty for reading out the names of the Iraq War dead at, wait for it, central London's Cenotaph. You probably know it, it is just down the road from Tony Blair's central London flat and it has a starring role every November when the Queen leads the tributes laying her wreath on its steps.

But it falls within half a mile of the Palace's of Westminster and therefore is subject to no protests, therefore it is hardly any wonder that Tony Blair cannot hear the voice of the people they are being kept up to half a mile away from him while he remains tucked up in the Westminster village.

What next: a motorist arrested for arguing with a traffic warden in Parliament Square? A tourist arrested for wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt while taking a picture of the Great Clock of Westminster?

Jerry Springer: The BBC Soap Opera

Well the BBC have noticed blogsphere's widespread uproar to the Jerry Springer: The Opera DVD being removed by Sainsburys and Woolworths.

I appear to be getting what is appearing to be the standard reponse from Woolworths which did not even address my specifific questions. There are tell tale signs in the response.

My Email

Subject: Jerry Springer: The Opera DVD

Dear Sir/Madam,

I understand for press coverage that you have removed
the above product from your shelves because of 10
letters of complaint for a so-called 'christian'

As a Christian myself I am apalled that these people
should want to ban anything which while secular in
origin contains a message of redemtion at the end. I
think this is one way that the Christian message can
be spread to a secualr world and have actively used it
in outreach to non-churched teenagers.

May I ask why this decision was made by your company?
Does the production breach the BBFC classification? Is
Woolworth's claiming to to be above the BBFC in its
decision of what it's customers including myself are
allowed a choice to purchase?

If Sainsbury's are removing this DVD because of these
'chirstian' saducees are they also complaining what
about lad's magazines such as 'Loaded', Women's
magazines such as 'Cosmo' which surely also violate
thier high moral stand point. If not, are they being
selective in their protest? And therefore have they
forced Woolworths to bow to selective protest?

I look forward to your response. Until then I shall be
shopping elsewhere as believe in the freedom in our
country for all people to have their say, without fear
of any religious group seeking to censure.


Stephen Glenn

Their 'Automated' Response

Dear Stephen,

Thank you for your email.

Please find below our Media Statement regarding this title:


Woolworths is not a censor and does not wish to act as one. Like any other retailer, it is guided by government legislation with regard to film certification.

However, we also listen to our customers and their feedback. On this occasion we have received numerous complaints and it is clear to us that our customers would prefer us not to stock this product.

As a result it has been removed from sale.

Further information - Woolworths Press Office, 0207 706 5689

I can assure you that your comments have been noted and I hope you will reconsider your decision and shop with us again soon.

Kerry Dover
Customer Support Advisor

Notice the gap after 'as a result it has been removed from sale' a sign that there was a pasted section above that.

Kennedy Not Worried by Cameron

Charles Kennedy has said that the election of David Cameron will not affect the identity or ambition of the Liberal Democrats.

Critics have said that David Cameron would turn into a clone of Charles Kennedy's image with voters as a young family man. However, on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme the Lib Dem Leader said:

"You will see very clear differences of policy and of substance between ourselves and the Conservatives"

He stated real policy differences with Mr Cameron on issues such as the Iraq war, university tuition fees and the environment. He said:

"The one policy decision on Europe that the new (Conservative) leader has announced is that they're going to withdraw from the Conservative grouping in the European Parliament their British MEPs, so that's an isolationist approach and that's not the real world.

"On tuition fees [Mr Cameron] doesn't share with us the opposition to tuition fees."

He also ruled out the question of a coalition between the two parties as now being "redundant".

Actually keeping an unique identity from both Labour and the Conservatives will not be too hard going on the performance at PMQs yesterday.

Wednesday 7 December 2005

Queen's Carol's Mother Taken to Hospital

Just two day's after Carol Thatcher was crowned Queen of the Jungle in the fifth series and the day after David Cameron becomes the fifth sucessor to her mother, Maggie Thatcher has been take to hospital after feeling faint. A number of tests have been carried out and she is being detained at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital overnight as a precausion.

Not a Fantasy Shadow Cabinet Anymore

Well how did my selection of the Fantasy Shadow Cabinet get on now that the major positions have been filled.

Well I got the leader right young David, who clearly benefited from the long campaign to win over the Conservative party members how he will do in the country we have yet to see.

I was right on bringing William Hague back to a prominet role, although I had him as Shadow Home not Shadow Foreign Secretary.

I may have shunted George Osbourne off to the Chairmanship prematurely however I expect him to possibly be there in 2008 to oversea the election bid og DC. he is for now remaining as Shadow Chancellor.

David Davis has remained as Shadow Home Secretary and not fulfilling my fatasy of shadowing Gordon Brown.

Other candidates in the leadership bid fared less well. Liam Fox made way for Hague and has taken on the defence brief. No word yet on Rifkind or Clarke.

Jerry Springer: The Opera An Alternative Christian Perspective

Many of my fellow bloggers have mentioned that Woolworths and Sainsbury’s have banned the Jerry Springer: The Opera DVD from their shelves. Some are blaming Christians for the limited outcry over this issue, as a Liberal Democrat, a Christian and a dramatist here is my take on this issue.

Most of the Christians who are upset about this DVD have never seen the show, or at least I think have not seen all of it. Also if they are upset about the language and people used in the show they would be equally as shocked as some of the people who listened to some of Jesus parables when they were first told.

The second half of Jerry Springer: the Opera is surely about redemption isn’t that the central ethos of the Christian message. As someone who has written Christian material for a non-Christian audience I know how difficult it is to get any message across in that theatre, however I applaud Jerry Springer the Musical for at least asking the questions in a way that gets noticed. I’m sorry that some other Christians do not see it in that way.

Monday 5 December 2005

I've Outgeeked Will Howells

Will Howells aka No Geek is an Island is hiding in shame as a bad geek due to his poor result of books read in the best geek novels since 1932 published in today's Guadian.

Therefore I'm not sure whether it is with some pride or shame that I have read the following half of the top 20 listed.

1. The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- Douglas Adams 85% (102)
2. Nineteen Eighty-Four -- George Orwell 79% (92)
3. Brave New World -- Aldous Huxley 69% (77)
4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? -- Philip Dick 64% (67)
6. Dune -- Frank Herbert 53% (54)
7. I, Robot -- Isaac Asimov 52% (54)
8. Foundation -- Isaac Asimov 47% (47)
9. The Colour of Magic -- Terry Pratchett 46% (46)
14. Consider Phlebas -- Iain M Banks 34% (35)
16. The Man in the High Castle -- Philip K Dick 34% (32)

If you add on that I have read the entire series of 1,7,8 and 9 does that make for bigger geekdom?

Saturday 3 December 2005

Best's Final Journey 3

Here is the text of the poem that Calum Best son read by Belfast woman Julie McClelland, the one that brought him and me to tears earlier today.

Farewell our friend, but not goodbye.
Your time has come, your soul must fly.
To dance with angels, find the sun,
But how we'll miss our special one.

He walks among us just a while,
Weaved your magic, made us smile.
Your life was so full of light and tears,
We lived it through you, through the years.

The golden days, they went so fast.
The precious times, why can't they last?
So many loved you, did you know?
We were not ready to let you go.

The stars from Heaven are only lent.
A gift from God, that's why they're sent.
We won't forget our Belfast boy,
He filled our lives with so much joy.

Your star will shine now in the sky.
Farewell our friend, but not goodbye.

I've just being reading the comments on the BBC website and am astounded at the number of people complaining about the coverage amongst all the tributes. Why no? Why today? Why mock a man for the disease of alcoholism? Something which as he doctor put so eloquently today he was made too well by the transplant that he returned to drink.

Many of the comments however do refer to the fact that yet again today George Best has done more to unite the people of Northern Ireland than many a politician has tried and been unable to do.

Best's Final Journey 2

Since I last wrote I've been griped by the coverage on the television. I tried to identify the scarfs that were thrown unto the hearse. As well as Northern Ireland and Manchester United I'm sure I also spotted Linfield and Celtic showing that yet again George has united the people of Northern Ireland.

The service was very moving. The second poem that Callum read out got to me as well so I'm not surprised he reached the point of tears. Hearing all the anecdotes for his friends, family and doctors shows the light he will be remembered in. Yes there was the down side but he was a light that was extinguished too early.

Best's Final Journey

I have the TV playing in the background showing live pictures from the Cregagh Estate as the funeral procession of George Best prepares to pass through thousands of mourners to Stormont. Already in scenes reminiscent of Diana flowers are being thrown from the masses unto the hearse in what is the biggest funeral in Northern Irish history.

The location of the funeral service is somewhere I used to walk to during my lunch breaks from one of the government departments just off the estate. It's at the top of a mile long wide avenue that leads up to Parliament Buildings and will undoubtedly provide exception pictures of crowds later on today as the masses stand either side of Prince of Wales Avenue watching the service on big screens.

Best marks a period of Northern Ireland football history where the fans did not care which side of the community the players came from, it was a form of escapism. Sadly for the last few years Neil Lennon has been hounded out of the Northern Ireland team by sectarianism. Best debuted alongside Pat Jennings, two young lads from different sides of the community who both enter the hearts of al football fans in the province.

It is a shame that in relative peace the national football team has become a target of sectarianism, while at the heights of the troubles it was one thing we could agree upon, largely.

Friday 2 December 2005

ASBO Over Mid Calder

I know that there have been at least two hits to this site this week over the Anti-Social Behaviour Order that has been placed over Mid Calder. I suspect that as my blog mentions both ASBO's and Mid Calder in the past that is why I am coming up high on the list.

Here is my take on this issue as someone local to the area, involved in politics and known to frequesnt the area in the evening following bowls at Mid Calder Bowling Club.

The situation in Mid Calder is starting to remind me of a mild saturday night ack home in Bangor. I say mild in that there are not as many kids hanging around, nor are they all as drunk as Bangor tended to be at chucking out time. However, Mid Calder is not as big as Bangor, so the groups of young people who congregate there look more like a hoard and are closer to residential areas than Bangor's main streets.

Our candidate in the General Election and By Election Charles Dundas talked to local police about this problem while out canvassing in the village in September with Simon Hughes. The police were saying that they were having difficulty controlling the situation which has been getting steadily worse in recent years.

It now appears that the only option open to them has been to apply for an ASBO that covers the entire village. Allowing them powers of dispersal to any group of two or more people, that they suspect of anti-social behaviour.

Are the police right to do so? Well there is no other option open to them under current legisation to take further action.

What affect will it have? Already some people are thinking and writing to the press saying the issue is liable to move just over half a mile away to East Calder. Others are saying the police cannot be everywhere to dispearse everyone all the time.

Where will this lead? We have yet to see but I will keep you posted.

USA Next to None on Climate Change - Says USA

Being a quiz freak while attempting to answer the BBC New Americas weekly quiz I can across this story that I had somehow missed.

What shocked me first is the arrogance of the USA who said on Monday:

"With regard to what the United States is doing on climate change, the actions we have taken are next to none in the world," said US negotiator Dr Harlan L Watson, saying greenhouse gas emissions had dropped 0.8% since George Bush became president.

The statement was of course shot down by environmentalists at the conference, Steve Sawyer of Greenpeace said:

"The one thing... we cannot afford is to allow this US administration to hold the rest of the world hostage while they go on about voluntary this and voluntary that," he said.

However, I think the statement from the US is just an attempt at over spin. They have merely changed sentance order and punctuation. This is the statement that possibly is mor ethe reality they were faced with.

With regard to what the United States is doing on climate change in the world. The actions they have taken are next to none.

After all Bush, rejected Kyoto, doesn nothing to inhibit the oil companies in his own country, is taking little action to encourage alternative fuels. Unfortunately Americans may think this happening due to the activity in the Bartlett Adminstration in The West Wing.

Thursday 1 December 2005

Retirement Seems Further Away with Each Passing Day

I don’t know about anyone else but his post by Peter Black got me thinking about the exponential rise in proposed age of eligibility for the state pension this couple of weeks.

On the 22 November the Liberal Democrats unveiled their proposal to raise the age to 67 and provide the citizens pension. This was widely expected at the time to be the recommendation of the Taylor report.

On Wednesday we are told that the Government in light of the Turner report is considering raising the age to 68.

Then this morning I read that if state contributions are made smaller it could rise to 69.

The clarify what the report is actually saying, The Scotsman writes:

The age of entitlement to the state pension is likely to rise to 66 in 2020, then 67 in 2030 and finally 68 in 2050. If ministers decide the state's contributions should be smaller, Lord Turner said pensions could even be delayed until 69.

So it looks like I’ll be getting my entitlement at 67. Why did I leave the civil service where my contract guaranteed I would have to retire at 60 and be able to claim my contribution pension?

Press Plagiarist of the Year Award

Guido Fawkes in association with a Recess Monkey and Tim Worstall are getting their own back at those lazy newspaper journalists who merely take their copy straight off unsuspecting bloggers. They have launched the Press Plagiarist of the Year Award.

Rather than repeat anything that they say, although of course it would be credited here, I’ll just encourage you to go and take a look and vote.