Friday 29 February 2008

Is M&S Setting Brown's Green Policy?

So that doyen of the High Street Mark and Spencers are setting the green agenda for the Brown Government, or so it seems. After yesterday's announcement that the store will start charging for plastic bags from 6 May it appears that the Prime Minister himself may be hopping unto the band wagon.

Lib Dem MSP Mike Pringle had presented a bill for a plastic bag levy north of the border in the last Scottish Parliament. But he withdrew his bill once some stores took steps towards encouraging reuse, and the executive then urged a voluntary code to take up the cause. However, there had been pressure from the manufacturers of plastic bags on the bill saying that it would effect the economy and jobs in Scotland.

Although as has been pointed out previously on this blog how some of these stores actually encourage this non-existant voluntary code needs major improvement. Sadly only IKEA who have removed single use bags entirely from their stores and now Marks and Spencers appear to be doing all they can to remove the option of free plastic bags from the customers easy reach.

So now the PM is yet again jumping up and down in response giving stores a year to eliminate single use bags from their stores. Although as the quasi-green Tories point out the Government and its agencies have prodused 1.2m such bags promoting themselves in the last 2 years. I'm so glad that years ago Lib Dem Conferences started to produce jute bags for delegate packs, so that we could happily ignore plastic handouts and put the stalls stuff into more environmentally friendly carriers.

Not a Leap Working Day

It may be the 29th February and therefore an extra day to 2008 today, however, those of us who work Monday to Friday are actually working one less day this year than last.

BBC Breakfast this morning showed some interesting figures based on weekends and Christmas and New Years Day, which I have since confirmed in excel (other spreadsheet packages are available). In 2007 there were 255 working days, 254 this year and 2009 will only have 253. So stop your moaning an enjoy the extra weekend days this year.

Thursday 28 February 2008

It's Good To Talk About It

See what happens when people get together to talk about things. All the bitterness of days gone by can be laid to rest.

Nick and the current incumbent of the Speaker's Chair Michael Martin got together to talk about the spat that erupted in the House on Tuesday. Especially as the amendment calling for a referendum had apparently been accepted by Commons clerks therefore making it eligible for debate.

The whole debacle seems to come down to whether the Lisbon Treaty is a reworking of the European Constitution. Under a very slightly different guise and a totally different name. Seeing as all three main parties promised a referendum on the Constitution in the last General Election in 2005, it depends on how much the Lisbon Treaty comes under the requirements for a public con census.

The Lib Dems clearly believe it does and the whole referendum should be on membership. The Tories also say they are substantially the same and the public should have a vote on the treaty. Only Labour with a reputation for stealth, subterfuge and downright lies seem to think the two should be treated differently.

Charles Kennedy is Back!

No sadly Nick Clegg has not persuaded him to take up a front bench role in the Commons.

In 1982 a young Highlander graduated from Glasgow University. He also served as President of the Union. Befroe going on to be President then Leader of the Liberal Democrats. Well last night Charles Kennedy won the vote to become the new Rector of Glasgow University.

Here's hoping the new rector of Glasgow will still be giving the former student rector of Edinburgh Univerty some hard times in his day job at Westminster.

Wednesday 27 February 2008

Ten Reasons My DNA Won't Become Government Property

So senior Police Officers have called for a national DNA Database. Here are 10 reasons why I won't be found on it.

10. I'm a law abiding citizen and have had no reason to give a sample to police.

9. Should the database contain every citizen, wouldn't that just slow up the process of using it rather than just known criminals. Thus contradicting its usefulness.

8. Our bobbies would merely be looking for and collecting DNA for every crime from shoplifting to murder. How is that going to make anyone feel more secure?

7. I'm not going to voluntarily carry an ID card, which contains my biometric data. So I'm less likely to volunteer by DNA code.

6. On at least 3 occasions in the last 12 months Government data sources have spewed out mine and close family members data. So I'm not trusting anything they hold of mine.

5. Even the Home Office are not calling to make it compulsory. But then maybe they just know they're not fit for the purpose of holding it, see above.

4. I am who I am, and that DAN is part of that equation and has no right being held and filed by someone else.

3. I am a name not a number. Much as I would love to live at Port Merrion I'm no prisoner.

2. We live in the real world not a George Orwell fiction written in 1948. Big Brother has no need or right to watch us that closely.

1. I do not, nor do I have any intention of working for Torchwood. Therefore the storing of my DNA to regenerate, correct or resurrect me as a result of issues in the line of duty is negligible. Should the role of data analysis become more dangerous I may reconsider.

When is Debate not a Debate?

So the Lisbon Treaty which the Prime Minister has done he best to avoid shedding too much publicity on, remember he turned up late to sign it, alone, reached an almighty row yesterday.

After years of denying us a referendum on an EU constitution before it failed miserably to votes elsewhere, the Labour Double B Government has moved on to the Lisbon Treaty. Which again does not look like it will be put to a referendum. Far from ducking the question the Liberal Democrats tabled an ammendment as to Britain's participation in the EU at all. Considering the party stance is very much pro Europe a brave move.

The deputy speaker refused to allow the ammendment to be discussed in the debate leading to the MP for the University constituency to be ordered out of the chamber. Sadly it looks like the whole essence of the European question is not going to debated any more on Brown's watch than it was under Blair. I don't recall ever seeing Ed so angry. After several points of order raised by his fellow Lib Dems to which no answer was forthcoming, he was excluded. The whole party left in protest at the exclusion of the party's Foreign Affiars Spokesperson from a debate on foreign affairs .

Now if only the Lib Dems here north of the Border were as bold. We could have agreed to calling a referendum on Scotland's participation in the UK. Agreed to work with the Nationalists on issues we agree on and get a far healthier looking budget than the one that did slip through. Instead we look like little kids who have had their ball taken away, or in case of some their minsterial car.