Wednesday 29 February 2012

Thoughts on Tonge and Huhne

Two Lib Dems have been in the news for the wrong reasons today.

First up looking at the case of Baroness Tonge. Do we know that Israel, or any country will exist forever? Simple answer is no we don't. Look at the map of 1980s Europe

Who would have thought when Maggie Thatcher came to power that by the time she left power that the Soviet Union would have split into its component parts. That the same would happen to Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, or that Germany would be reunited.

In the rest of the World since then Yemen has unified a Palestinian State has been recognised as had Eritrea and East Timor.  Also, while there is talk of when Puerto Rico might become the 51st state Palau has gained independence from the superpower. So nobody can say what countries will be around in 20 years time.

Baroness Tonge
However, Baroness Tonge's crime is not being unable to predict history but to say "Israel will lose support and then they will reap what they have sown." 

If we are to have influence in the world we should be striving to make Israel realise how they are seen by many in the world.  Along with Spain we in the UK have experience of dealing with conflict resolution and expertise that we can use to have influence in the Palestinian-Israeli issue. Peace walls are coming down in Northern Ireland, interfaces are being opened up after decades of being closed between communities. We are actually the position closest to that facing the West Bank and Gaza Strip today. What we should be doing is helping in the dialogue to enable Israel and Palestine to co-exist side by side.

Tonge is wrong and the fact that she has failed to realise that as Lib Dems we should be at the forefront of helping that region gain a lasting peace is illiberal and she had rightfully had the party whip removed.

Chris Huhne
The issue with Huhne is different, he has stepped down in his own words to defend what he says is his innocence. If he had been sacked or resigned for another reason he would have been entitled to his severance pay as any other employee with such a scheme has. The difference is that the minister in question has to put in the claim for it. I'm not sure if there is a time restriction on being able to claim this money, however I suspect that there might well be. Huhne is facing a court case the end date of which he does not yet know so he may have been unable to claim it after the case is settled.

So here is a solution.

Chris Huhne should set up a blind trust, over which he has no contorl, to handle the three months ministerial pay that he is entitled to as severance pay, with the proviso that if he is found guilty that all money and interest is returned, but if he is found innocent the monies in the fund are transferred to his control. That seems like a sensible and equitable solution just in case the accusations are those created by an ex-wife spurned making something out of rumours from the past.

I don't expect everyone to agree but I'd like to hear of an alternative that maintain the premise of innocent until proven otherwise in that situation.

Blogged elsewhere: Widdecombe wants referendum on equal marriage just not neutral questions

Ann Widdecombe has called for a referendum on the subject on gay marriage. She believes in doing this because the Coalition for Marriage carried out an opinion poll which showed that 51% of people thought it was unnecessary. This flies in contrast to previous opinion polls.
The reason? I suspect it has to do with the loaded nature of the question asking whether they agree or disagree with this statement:
Since gay and lesbian couples already have the same rights as married couples available to them under civil partnership, they should not be allowed to redefine marriage for everyone else.
So lets look at just what was asked in the other independent opinion polls on the issue.

Read the resf over on LBGT+ Lib Dems Northern Ireland

Sunday 26 February 2012

The Question: Q2 - February 2012

It is time to get my thinking cap back on and come up with an answer to The Question as posted on Stephen Chapman's State of the Nation blog.

The question this month is:

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given? 

The cliche answer of course is to say just be yourself and to be honest that is pretty good advise. My parents were good at this never forcing me or my brother into anything but letting us do the things that we wanted to do and getting their support whatever we decided to do.

But as many of us know being ourselves and being honest about ourselves is something that at times others have issue with a take exception to. As someone who was bullied as a child I know how painful it can be to be different from others and be yourself. 

However, it is a supplementary piece of advise that someone else gave me that I think is the most important.

If people take exception to you being you, they have the problem not you. Carry on being you and work at changing their or people like them's perspective of what is acceptable.

I think that piece of advice probably explains why I've ended up as a Liberal Democrat campaigner taking on so many issues of equality. It is the fact that I am content with being me, but find that people do not seem to want to accept that me or other people are a valid option or deserve the same things as the perceived norm. But each of us is unique and don't fit into a box.

So that fact that I can switch from supporting rugby to watching the ballet in a couple of hours. Be a person with a faith yet be a gay man. Have been a sportsman and at the same time play more than one musical instrument as well as sing, means that often I don't fit into people's idea of how to box me. But I will carry on being me, if you have a problem with that look at yourself.

If you want to add you answer visit Stephen's blog and post you link in the gadget and read the others responses as well.

Friday 24 February 2012

1920 Summer Olympics Antwerp: VII Olympiad

"Hang on!" you say, "Last week it was the V Olympiad. I know my Roman numerals what happened to the VI Olympiad?"

Ok, here is what happened, the games of the VI Olympiad had been awarded. In 1912 work on the Olympic Stadium designed to seat 18,000 spectators began. On 8 June 1913 it was dedicated (pictured) with 60,000 people in attendance and 10,000 pigeons released. The issue of course was timing and location. The games of course would have occurred in 1916 in the middle of World War I, the location as shown by the flag of the German Empire was to have been Berlin.

There the games of the VI Olympiad never took place and it was 20 years before Berlin got to host their games. The Deutches Stadion built for the 1916 bid was used for football matches but was closed in 1934 with the arrival of the Olympic Stadium.

Budapest had initially been chosen to host the 1920 Games over Amsterdam and Lyon, however as they were part of the German Allies the Austro-Hungarian Empire they were not suitable to host the subsequent games. Therefore it fell upon the Belgian city of Antwerp to help that nation and the world recover from the trench warfare that had ravished that land.

So on with the stats

Nations 29 (+1)
Competitors 2627 (220)
Sports 22 (+8)
Events 154 (+52)

20 April - 12 September 1920 hosted by Antwerp, Belgium

The IOC left which countries should be invited up to the hosts, therefore the athletes of the former Axis powers Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey were not invited.

The redrawn map of Europe did have the opportunity for new nations to join the Olympic family in Antwerp. But only Estonia took on that mantle for Europe. Czechoslovakia took on the mantle of Bohemia who had competed pre-war. Also from Europe the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later to be known as Yugoslavia) and Monaco took part for the first time, as did the newly independent Finland who had taken part as the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland before. Brazil and Argentina were also new countries, and having competed as Australasia, New Zealand competed for the first time as as a separate entity.

Post War a new flag

In June 1914 at the IOC congress Baron Pierre de Coubertin had approval for him emblem of five interlocking rings as the official symbol of the Olympic Games. With the intervention of war it appeared for the first time in Antwerp on a white back ground to represent peace.

In 1931 de Coubertin said:

"The Olympic flag ... has a white background, with five interlaced rings in the centre: blue, yellow, black, green and red ... This design is symbolic ; it represents the five inhabited continents of the world, united by Olympism, while the six colors are those that appear on all the national flags of the world at the present time."

The original flag as pictured, went missing after the games and a new flag was used from the next Games and passed on to the next Summer Games Host until 1988 (when it was retired), but also up until the 1952 Winter Games before they winter Olympiads got their own flag to pass on. However, for the entire use of that 1924 flag being used it was known as the "Antwerp Flag" in honour of its first appearance.

...and a new Oath

The Olympic Oath was first muted in 1906 but didn't appear in the opening ceremony until swimmer, water polo player and Epée Fencer Victor Boin uttered the following words.

We swear. We will take part in the Olympic Games in a spirit of chivalry, for the honour of our country and for the glory of sport.

Boin should really be in that infamous list of ten famous Belgians, but rarely do people remember who took the oath on behalf of the athletes, from 1972 also the officials.

However, Boin won three medals across three Olympiad in two sports from 1908 to 1920. Silver then Bronze in the water polo, followed by a silver in the team epée in 1920.

New sports

Ice Hockey was the only new sport at the 1920 Games and along with Ice Skating which had returned from the London 1908 were a precursor to the new innovation that would happen four years later in Chamonix, France with the I Winter Olympiad.

The eventual winners were Canada (pictured) in the shape of the Winnepeg Falcons. The team included future Stanley Cup winners Frank Frederickson and Haldor Halderson. Seven of the eight man team were of Icelandic origin, as well as Frederickson and Halderson, Robert Benson, Walter Byron, Chris Fridfinnson, Magnus Goodman and Konrad Johanneson had some or total Icelandic ancestors. Only Alan Woodman and coach W.A. Hewitt were except from the viking blood.

The team they beat in the final were USA.

The flying Finn

A 23 year old from Turku in Finland was to start what was to be the most successful Olypic career of a distance runner. He still ties the most Olympic gold medals with a sprinter Carl Lewis, gymnast Larisa Latynina and swimmer Mark Spitz only Michael Phelps has won more.

In 1920 Paavo Nurmi took three gold medals in the 10,000m, Individual Cross-Country and Team Cross-Country. He was also to take silver in the 500om.

In 1924 he went on to take 5 golds 1500m, 5000m, 3000m team race, individual and team cross country. He also came first in both the semi-final and final races in the 3000m team race, as well as his semi-finals in both the 1500m and 5000m, meaning he ran seven races, for a total of 26,000m, and won them all. He had also been entered in the 10,000m but the Finnish delegation fearing for his health withdrew him from what would have been his last race of the Olympics for a possible 6th gold. He returned to Finland angry and 56 days after the Olympic 10,000m winner, his compatriot,  Ville Ritola ran a new world record to win gold he smashed it by a further 17 seconds.

He followed that up with another gold in the 10,000m with silvers in the 5000m and 3000m steeplechase in 1928. He would have been going for a 3rd 10,000m gold and the Marathon in 1932 but for a challenge from the Swedes that he had been paid too much in expenses to race in Germany and therefore broke the amateur rules.

An event in two countries and a first medal on ***** soil

For a unique Olympic moment we turn to the 12-foot dinghy competition. The second race was nullified at Ostend due to a tidal current moving the marks. There wasn't time to reschedule the race,  but as both the contesting boats were from the Netherlands the final race took place in Amsterdam. The only time an Olympic event took place in more than one country and the first Olympic competition held by the Dutch a whole 8 years before their own Olympics.

See also:

Thursday 23 February 2012

Paddy Power lose their leg to stand on as advert pulled

Cross posted on LGBT+ Lib Dems Northern Ireland

Remember the defense used by Paddy Power about why they wished to continue showing the Transphobic advert for Cheltenham:
Several members of the UK transgender community are cast in the ad, and it was also cleared by Clearcast [which pre-vets TV ads] before airing. This ad is simply a bit of mild-mannered fun in the runup to the Cheltenham festival.
Well Clearcast have now issued the following statement:
Last week we approved a tv ad for Paddy Power featuring references to transgendered people. When making our decision to approve the ad, we took into account the fact that the advertiser had sought a view from the Beaumont Society (a body run by and for those who cross dress or are transsexual) which did not find the script idea offensive.

However following a number of complaints over the last few days, it appears that the ad has caused offence and in consultation with broadcasters, it has been decided that the ad should no longer run on their TV or VoD services in its current format. We regret offence that may have been caused.
So where does Paddy Power stand now? Well they have issued the following statement:
Paddy Power’s Ladies Day commercial has been pulled from TV.

The decision to suspend the clip wasn’t made by us – it was done by the British TV advertising regulator along with television broadcasters.

This is especially frustrating given the commercial was already pre-approved by British television advertising clearance body Clearcast, just one week ago, who then considered the humour in the advert, while not to everyone’s taste, fell short of causing offence.

The Beaumont Society said there was "nothing untoward with the advert concept" and felt it was not inappropriate since "the entire campaign would be a tongue-in-cheek look at the Ladies Day race meeting where these days a large number of cross dresser’s make a day of it".

Furthermore, Paddy Power cast members of the trans-community in the various transgender roles in the commercial.

Given the attention and diligence we demonstrated throughout the development of this commercial, we are very disappointed by today’s decision.
So Paddy Power are frustrated and disappointed that they can no longer show this ad, that the decision on decency wasn't made by them but by bodies outside their control.

Having one group, and one that many in the transgender community are sceptical of, agree with your point of view may not reflect the other groups dealing with Transgender issues who have disagreed with your stance, that much is clear. Paddy Power unlike Clearcast have not shown any remorse for the offence they have caused to others, but rather go on to boast about the number of YouTube views they have received of the ad.

The ad has been removed for the screens though no doubt will still be available of Paddy Power's YouTube channel. Hopefully in future advertisers will think how to positively include transgender people in their adverts.

***BREAKING*** Sky confirm Eric Joyce arrested on suspicion of assault

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice
When Twitter lights up with the news that an MP you have taken on in debate has been arrested and in the Strangers Bar in Westminster itself, you want to have it confirmed. So it was that Sky News were the first TV news to confirm the rumours.

It appears the MP from the constituency next to the one I stood in, who I took on in two of the hustings for Falkirk, as agent, while the candidate was unable to get out of work commitments. Falkirk's Labour MP Eric Joyce, a former Army officer, allegedly headbutted Conservative MP for Pudsey Stuart Andrew. Apparently five policemen were required to remove the MP from the bar.

Eric has been in the House since winning the seat then of Falkirk West following the resignation of Dennis Canavan to follow his Holyrood career. It is possible in light of the serious nature of the events tonight that a by election may be the end of his political career 12 years on.

Update subsequently both BBC and ITV also confirmed the indentity.

Update 2: Labour have this morning suspended Mr Joyce from the party as spokesperson saying:

"This is an extremely serious incident. We have suspended Eric Joyce pending the results of the police investigation."

The Speaker of the House John Bercow also commented:

"Members will be aware of reports of a serious incident in the House last night. I have been informed by the Serjeant at Arms that the honourable member for Falkirk has been detained in police custody.
"The matter is being investigated. I take this matter very seriously, as do the House authorities."
However, early this morning many Labour supporters on Twitter why trying to spin a positive message out of the alleged common assault of a Labour MP on a Tory one.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Monday 20 February 2012

Do you cultural vandal take this other cultural vandal as your lawfully married husband

Yeah apparently I am now a cultural vandal.

It has nothing to do with the poetry I write. The music that I write, play or perform. The plays I have been in, though I suspect the one I am writing would have had Mary Whitehouse in a tizzy.

No apparently my cultural vandalism stems from love. Lord Carey says so.

He says the Government has no mandate to define marriage, but what mandate does he, or the Church of England, or Coalition for Marriage have to not allow faith and non-faith groups that want to allow equal marriage.

Apparently the web of family will be affected if marriage is redefined. So if this gay Christian uncle were to get married, in a church setting, before God and the people present, would it unravel the web of my family? I trust that I am smart enough to only fall for somebody who would get on with my nephews, would enjoy as much as I do taking them to places, seeing them read or watch new things and answer their questions. If I didn't end up settling for someone like that you have permission to shoot me. Of course bringing someone into the family is an important step just as many years ago my brother brought my sister-in-law into the family (and with her, her parents and sister).

But apparently Lord Carey has spoken to some gay friends who say they are worried that redefining marriage would affect the structure of marriage. I look at the number of people LGBT or straight who don't see it as affecting family relationships in a negative way but as a positive.

Basing any public opinion based purely on the opinion of friends is not a very dodgy way to go about things, they are more likely to agree with your point of view or not be so outspoken about something, especially if your opinion on something is strongly held and publicly known. Yet apparently according to Lord Carey's statement his friends comments are the only evidence that he basing his opinions on. I thought he was supposed to be a man of books and learning to reach the pinnacle of the Church of England.

In the meantime TWIMC SGM cultural vandal 42 GSOH, NM NK NS former athlete, politically active likes NIOO, good food and books,  WLTM similar for LTR possibly leading to M WTR

Read also  Andrew Page (AKA Scottish Liberal) with his take on the same subject.

Causing a stir for Paddy Powers Transphobic ad

Yesterday  I wrote a blog post over at LGBT+ Lib Dems Northern Ireland about betting company Paddy Power and the advert it showed a game of spot the CIS woman from the transgendered woman, only of course they didn't put it in quite such political correct terms. Here's how I started the post.

They say that the Cheltenham Festival of racing is one of Ireland's finest hours every year. Even if the Irish are losing money hand over fist at the trackside bookies.
However, Ireland's largest and most successful bookmakers Paddy Power have brought shame on themselves with their current advert leading up to Ireland's biggest betting week for their mobile app.
In the ad they say that they are "going to make Ladies Day even more exciting by adding some beautiful transgendered ladies: Spot the Stallions from the Mares."

You can read the rest on the blog post. It has since been quoted extensively in The Guardian as well as beating Pink News to the story, thereby being quoted. The story is currently accounting for over a third of the life time hits on the LGBT+ Lib Dems Northern Ireland blog. 

Paddy Power have apparently finally issued a statement saying:

 "Several members of the UK transgender community are cast in the ad, and it was also cleared by Clear Cast before airing. This ad is simply a bit of mild mannered fun in the run up to the Cheltenham Festival."

I wonder did they know the content, context or voice over ramifications of the advert they were making? Most appear to be in crowd scenes which means they could have been shot for any purpose. The only one doing any action shots is the person seen leaving the male toilets. I think the reaction that Paddy Power is making them seriously rethink what they have done. Though we have yet to see a public apology and their standard response to complaints

"Paddy Power has a long-held reputation of breaking the mould and doing things that are new and innovative for our customers and viewers. Our aim though is always to entertain, never to offend, and we apologise for any upset caused."

shows that they have not grasped the seriousness of what they have done.

If you haven't already please go and read my original blogpost or mine and other people's comments on the Cheltenham Festival website.

Saturday 18 February 2012

Tesco find a conscience via their complaints folder?

According to the Grauniad Tesco want the Department of Work and Pensions to change the nature of the scheme in which people will work in private sector firms for up to 8 weeks, with only the offer of an interview at the end of that time.

In comes after a week that the company who takes one pound out of every SEVEN £8.50 spent in the UK faced accusations of further profiting from slave labour. Having worked in retail  I know that someone can be trained to restack shelves in a morning. They can learn to operate a till in a similar period of time. The additional time that is required to get people up to speed is spent on knowledge of stock and gaining that.

Of course I started in retail as a Christmas temp, less than 8 weeks before Christmas. I was up to speed in a couple of days, I was then offered full time work after Christmas and have trained up many people to work in a retail environment since. It didn't take eight weeks for the manager of my branch of H. Samuel to offer me a full time position. I rose to have areas of responsibility in the chains then largest store on Shaftesbury Avenue when the chain was cutting back on staff I was moved to another branch, retained and given new responsibility because the Area Manager had also learnt that I had potential.

Yes we should be giving people the chance to experience work, but like Waterstones who have now withdrawn from the scheme it should be with the end goal of there being a job on offer. Therefore it should be a short apprenticeship to prove you are ready and able to work for that company. Not a means by which the government is forcing you to take action, and may remove the meagre Job Seekers Allowance you are on if after the first week but before the maximum eight you leave the position. That is the enslavement element. That is what Tesco now do not want to be associated with.

However, the telling part in the Grauniad article is this:
Supermarket group Tesco said it has asked DWP officials to make the work experience scheme voluntary after thousands of angry customers wrote in and posted messages on Twitter and the company's Facebook site accusing the multinational of profiting from hundreds of thousands of hours of forced unpaid work.

So it appears that the sudden outpouring of compassion may only have come with one eye of the profit margins.

The Lib Dems stood for Parliament saying:
  • Scrap the arbitrary target of 50 per cent of young people attending  university, focussing effort instead on a balance of college education, vocational training and apprenticeships.
  • As part of our immediate job creation package, fund 15,000 new places on Foundation Degree courses and fully fund the off-the-job costs of adult apprenticeships, which currently have to be met by employers, for one year.

We were talking about apprenticeships as ways to get people back into work. This scheme is not an apprenticeship it is work experience which can result in you losing benefit if you drop out of it (probably because you don't like that particular experience or possibly for health reasons).

We need to create jobs, whether that is via apprenticeships or whatever route, not merely give people the experience of work without anything at the end of it for them.

Friday 17 February 2012

1912 Summer Olympics Stockholm: V Olympiad

Nations 28 (+6)
Competitors 2407 (+399)
Sports 14 (-8)
Events 102 (-8)

5 May - 22 July 1912 Stockholm, Sweden

In 1909, with only one application to host the V Olympiad Stockholm was duly selected as the hosts for the 1912 games.

It was the fourth time in the five official Olympiads that we had been in Europe. However, the final continent Asia finally had representation at these games with Japan taking part for the first time. The other newcomer also broke new ground as Egypt was the first Arab Nation. Portugal, Iceland, Turkey (as the Ottoman Empire) were also new nations.

Stockholm had wanted to expand on London including ice skating in the games by adding a week of winter sports into their Olympics. However, the Swedish based Nordic Games didn't want multiple sports in the early part of the 1912-13 season detracting from their own event scheduled once again for Stockholm.

There was no boxing at the 1912 the last time it would be missing from the Olympic programme. However, the three day event which appeared in St. Louis returned and has never left, as did road cycling which had only appeared at the first Games in Athens.

An introduction to these games was the use of electronic timing for the athletics events. But there were also the introduction of some multi-event disciplines.

Jim Thorpe the greatest sportsman on earth

Jim Thorpe
The Pentathlon had already been around in the Olympic programme since the Intercalated Games of 1906 this time there was the addition of the 10 sport event, the decathlon had arrived. The event arrived in the format we still recognise today apart from the fact that is took part from Saturday 13th July to Monday 15th over 3 days instead of the normal two these day. But the order of the events was the same starting with the 100m, then long jump, shot put, high jump and 400m which now concludes the first day. Then discus, 110m hurdles, pole vault, javalin and 1500m which now round off the event on day two.

One man dominated the pentathlon on 7 July and this event a week later. He was a mixed race Caucasian and Sac and Fox native American called Jim Thorpe. He won 4 of the 5 events in the pentahlon then a further 4 from the 10 of the Decathlon. Indeed between the 26 Pentathletes and 29 Decathletes his worse event placings were two fourths in the Decathlon's 400m and javelin.

The Pentathlon did award points on the basis of position, but the Decathlon brought with it a new scoring system based on the performance of the athlete on the day against a base. Thorpe's score of 8412.955, which equates to 6649 on today's points system, using a sand pit to land the pole vault with wooden not fibre glass poles, and other equipment differences would have been good enough to stand as Olympic record until 1932. 

Thorpe as well as the two multi-event wins also came 4th in the High Jump (he jumped the same height in the Decathlon) and 7th in the Long Jump (although the 7.07m he jumped in the Pentathlon would have been 4th in the individual).

However, in 1913 Thorpe was stripped of his two Olympic gold medals as he had been a semi-professional baseball player while a student with Rocky Mount in the Eastern Carolina League and therefore in breach of the then strict amateurism rules. Thorpe unlike other college athletes had not used an alias for these summer payments of as little as $2 ($47 today) per game and a max of $35 ($877) per week. He wrote to the Amateur Athletic Union saying:
 "I hope I will be partly excused by the fact that I was simply an Indian schoolboy and did not know all about such things. In fact, I did not know that I was doing wrong, because I was doing what I knew several other college men had done, except that they did not use their own names". 
But the AAU revoked his amateur status retrospectively, a decision upheld by the IOC. There were several appeals against the decision but even his team mate from those Games, later IOC President Avery Brundage said, "Ignorance is no excuse."

Eventually in 1983, thirty years after his death, the IOC decided to reinstate Thorpe as co-champion with Ferdinand Bie (Nor) in the Pentathlon and Hugo Wieslander (Swe) Decathlon, though both men always considered Thorpe to be true champion. King Gustav V 

Birth of the Modern Penathlon
The USA's 2nd Lt. Patton in the Modern Pentathlon

Baron Pierre de Coubertin created a new event for the 1912 games; an event that is still with us today. Initially it was designed as a military only event as the disciplines where those that the baron believed were necessary for a military officer.

First there was 10 metre pistol contest firing 20 shots with 40 seconds allowed for each shot. This was followed by a 300m swim (this is now 200m). Epée fencing where each competitor takes on everyone else in a one minute duel, a hit counts as a win, no hits counts as a loss for both. Next up there was jumping on a strange horse after just 20 minutes acclimation. The final event was a 4000m cross country run.

The Swedes took this new event very well, they took six of the first seven places in that first event in 1912. The man who broke in amongst them was 2nd Lieutenant George S. Patton of the US Army. He was an expert swordsman, indeed he helped the following year Model 1913 Cavalry Sabre, but was let down by his shooting. He claimed that his larger .38 caliber pistol made the holes in his target larger than the .22 caliber rounds used by his opponents, and that some of his shots went through earlier holes. However his was still penalised for one and came a lowly 20th in that event, he would be 7th in the swim, 4th in the fencing, 6th in the equestrian and 3rd in the run, to finish 5th.

He never complained about the incident in the shooting but said:

The high spirit of sportsmanship and generosity manifested throughout speaks volumes for the character of the officers of the present day. There was not a single incident of a protest or any unsportsmanlike quibbling or fighting for points which I may say, marred some of the other civilian competitions at the Olympic Games. Each man did his best and took what fortune sent them like a true soldier, and at the end we all felt more like good friends and comrades than rivals in a severe competition, yet this spirit of friendship in no manner detracted from the zeal with which all strove for success.

He would later rise to the rank of General eventually famously taking command of the US Third Army in World War II.

Marathon tales

Two men in the marathon were to face different fates. Portuguese athlete Francisco Lázaro had carried his nation's standard in the parade of athletes at the opening ceremony on 29th June. On 15th July he lined up with 68 others at the start of the Marathon. It was an exceptionally hot day and Lázaro rubbed wax over his body to prevent sunburn. At the 30km mark he collapsed and suffering from severe dehydration later died, he was the first fatality in competition at the Olympics.

Kanaguri Shisō at the start and end of his
Stockholm Olympic Marathon
The other is Kanaguri Shisō of Japan. In the heat of that marathon he fell unconscious and was cared for by a local farming family. Once he recovered he returned to Japan without notifying officials.Swedish officials considered him missing for 50 years until it was discovered that he had competed in intervening marathons including coming 16th in the 1920 Olympic marathon in 2'48:45.4 and a DNF in the 1924 event. He ins considered the father of the Japanese marathon running tradition.

However, in 1966 after he had been rediscovered Swedish Television contacted him to see if he wanted to complete his first Olympic Marathon. He did and therefore completed the full  40.2km in a time of 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 8 hours, 32 minutes and 20.379 seconds.

Proud Finn but the Russian Flag

Finland had sent a separate team to the Games but on the nine times that they won gold the Russian flag was raised in their 'honour'. One man had the dubious honour three times, the first of the so-called Flying Finns. He took gold in the 5000m, 10000m and individual Cross Country (which helped his nation pick up silver in the team event). 

However, despite winning these three medals he saw the white, blue and red flag of Russia being raised and not the flag of Finland. It made him say that he "almost wished he hadn't won." 

The First World War interupted his sporting career and when the next Games came around in 1920 he was 31 and taking part in the Marathon. He finally got to see the flag of Finland raised in his honour and his national anthem played. 

When the Games came to Finland in 1952 he was, along with his successor in Finnish distance running Paavo Nurmi chosen for the honour of lighting the flame.

See also: The full list of my blog posts covering the past Olympics

Trevor Phillips doesn't really get what Jesus said about the law of the land

So Trevor Phillips says that Christians should break the law of the land and only follow their religious law.

Well I think there is an answer for him in Mark Chapter 12 verses 13-17

13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. "Why are you trying to trap me?" he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
And they were amazed at him.

I think that the result that they were amazed that Jesus told them yo obey the law laid down by the "oppressor" that they thought he was here to overthrow shows the lesson there. The law of the land is to be obeyed by those that follow Christ, even if they think it is oppressive.

Herein endeth the lesson to Mt Philllips.

Thursday 16 February 2012

Equal Marriage marching on except in Northern Ireland

Cross posted on LGBT+ Lib Dems Northern Ireland

Liberal Democrats at Edinburgh's Equal Marriage March
Picture copyright Liberal Youth Scotland
On Valentine's Day my Lib Dem colleagues in Scotland joined others for a march to Holyrood in support of equal marriage. As you may be aware there has been a consultation process there into the subject and the Government are now considering those submissions. There will also be a consultation by Westminster covering England and Wales.

However, the week before in the Northern Ireland Assembly the subject of the Sexual Orientation Strategy once again emerged from the long grass it has spent most of a decade in to feature at the top of First Minister's Questions. With the Junior Minister saying that OFMDFM do intend to publish this strategy and the revised Cohesion Sharing and Integration programme this year it fell on my Green Party MLA Steven Agnew to ask about one specific:

Mr Agnew: Will there be any mention of gay marriage (Editor's note: I will be sending a note off to my MLA to correct his language on this) in the sexual orientation strategy? Has any progress been made on providing full equal rights to gay couples?
Mr Bell (Junior Minister, Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister): Questions on those matters are the subject of much discussion and have been the subject of much discussion in the media over recent weeks. The issue is not under active consideration.

Now just what did the Junior Minister mean by that?

Is it simply that there is no active consideration of extending equal marriage legislation to Northern Ireland, even if the rest of the UK does. Seeing as we still lag behind on adoption for gay parents and blood donation, this would not be out of character for the Norther Ireland Assembly.

However, more problematic is what if the rest of the UK do accept equal marriage, what consideration then is there to recognise those couples so married should they choose to reside in Northern Ireland? Will their marriages valid and recognised in the majority of the UK not be recognised in Northern Ireland. If they are not civil partnered but married be offered protections under the law of a region that is only recognising marriage as between people of opposite gender and civil partnerships as between those of the same gender.

There could be knock on effects if Northern Ireland doesn't recognise equal marriages from the rest of the UK or indeed the world within its Sexual Orientation Strategy. There will be concerns as far as benefits go, health provision, wording and filling in of forms in all manner of ways.

The fact that there is no active consideration of the complications that carrying on a different approach to the rest of the UK again means that Northern Ireland will be reactionary in its response to this issue and is failing to be proactive in thinking there will be consequences. Not everyone born in Northern Ireland stays here, a lot of us do go elsewhere to study/work. Many of us fall in love with people from other parts of the UK, some of us may even bring that partner to live with us here in Northern Ireland.

So if an LGBT couple fall into that last category having been married elsewhere what position does that leave them in under Northern Irish legislation?

Monday 13 February 2012

Rangers go into Administration

One half of the Old Firm of Scottish football lodged an intention with the Court of Session in Edinburgh to go into administration this lunchtime. They now have five days to appoint an administrator.

We wonder what punishment the Ibrox giants will incur as a result of doing so to relieve debts of £21-75m.

The last time a Scottish League team went into administration without penalty was Livingston then of the SPL on 3 February 2004, just before their CIS Cup Semi-Final the tournament they went on to win that year. They were managed by the preferred consortium for the following season before Lionheart took them out of Administration, but after relegation to the First Division.

Since then there have been three league teams that have entered administration:

Gretna had been allowed up to the SPL without meeting the ground regulations in time. But after living the dream the nightmare was entered on 8 March 2008, when they entered administration with debts of a mere £4m. The team were already bottom of the SPL but were deducted a further 10 points. At the end of the season they faced relegation and the Scottish Football League uncertain if they would fulfill their fixtures relegated them to the lowest tier of League Football into Division 3. The SFL fears were well founded as the team was liquidated on 8 August weeks before the start of the season.

Debt £4m
Crime Entering adminstration, then fear of completing fixtures following season
Penalty 10 point deduction, then later relegation down to bottom tier Division 3

Livingston were again in trouble after the Italian Job turned out to have been some sort of hatchet job. Something those of us in the stands had been growing more aware of all that single season of Massone control. With unpaid bills to the council of £330,000 the Court of Session put the club into administration on 28 July 2009. Two days later despite the fans baying him to sell the club to the administrator Massone refused twice and liquidation proceedings were begun. The new owners who the administrator had been acting on behalf of lodged a surety bond of £720,000 against any loss of earnings should the club fold, were still relegated to Division 3 on 5 August, less than a week before the first league game was scheduled within the period of any appeal. Rules of insolvency was the reason cited for such a harsh penalty, despite the successful bid being in place with the support of the fans even before the entering of administration.

Debt £330,000 minimum (rumours of max £1m)
Crime Entering adminstration, then liquidation in and out less than a week after.
Penalty relegation to bottom tier Division 3

Dundee like Livingston had been in administration before from 25 November 2003 to 6 August 2004. They entered administration on 14 October 2010 with debts of £2m, £420,000 of which was to the tax man. Their penalty was to face a 25 point deduction on 1 November which saw them on -11 points 20 points below the next team. Miraculously with only 11 senior team players left in the squad and a ban on buying players while in admin the team went on a Division one record 23 game unbeaten run to avoid slipping down in the same season that Livingston managed to win their way back up from their penalty.

Debt £2m
Crime entering adminstration for second time in 7 years
Penalty 25 point deduction


Apparently new owner Craig Whyte borrowed against 4 years future season ticket sales to 'reduce' the paper debt from £28m to £14m. This is thought to be a £21m debt to Ticketplus and then £5m VAT on that deal. There is also the issue that Rangers are currently awaiting the final verdict on the £49m Employee Benefit Trust tax case. It is a tangled web for one of the largest supported clubs in Scotland, that may well lead to liquidation proceedings. If it does what then. There has been the precedent set as above for such financial disasters.

Debt At least £21m possibly as much as £75m
Crime So far entering liquidation
Punishment To be decided

A lesson in statistics for Liberal Vision re: Liberal Reform

As many of you will know one thing I hate is the manipulation of statistics to try and say something. That certainly has something to do with having worked in statistics both in the public and private sectors. There is nothing I hate more than when political groups misappropriate statistics for their own ends and that includes within our own party.

Yet after the soft launch, or looking at the Lib Dem Voice Golden Dozen rather hard, of Liberal Left we now have another soft launch for a group calling itself Liberal Reform.

Now Liberal Vision got out the trumpets and Angela Harbutt to some fanfare said in their honour under the title The right sort of Lib Dem group announces its launch:

There has surely been a need for a grassroots membership group that speaks to the mainstream of the party embracing the free market, for quite sometime. According to a Lib Dem Voice survey from April last year, 35% of Lib Dem members and activists describe themselves as ‘economic liberals’, now a bigger presence in the party than those who would describe themselves as ‘Social Democrat’ (noting that less than half describe themselves as “centre left”). So the time is right for a group such as Liberal Reform.
Now the survey dates of that Lib Dem Voice survey were 18th to 24th April 2011. So far starters I know I for one was too busy in the run up to polling day to complete that one. It appears I was not alone, the previous Lib Dem Voice survey had 130 more respondents.

Lib Dem Voice also always add the caveat:

Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However,’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past accurately predicted the winners of the contest for Party President, and the result of the conference decision to approve the Coalition agreement.

They have also got things wrong in the past.

Put looking at said survey the rankings are:

Please tick any or all of the descriptions below that you would be happy for someone else to use to describe you:

  • 87% – Liberal
  • 65% – Progressive
  • 64% – Social liberal
  • 60% – Internationalist
  • 55% – Pragmatic
  • 52% – Reformer
  • 45% – Centre-left
  • 44% – Civil libertarian
  • 44% – Radical
  • 41% – Green
  • 35% – Economic liberal
  • 34% – Social democrat
  • 33% – Moderate
  • 30% – Moderniser
  • 27% – Centrist
  • 25% – Keynesian
  • 21% – Libertarian
  • 20% – Ideological
  • 16% – Mainstream
  • 14% – Free marketeer
  • 9% – Centre-right

It is oft quoted that there are lies, damn lies and statistics which makes some of my previous jobs sound like a step down from the press. However, Angela was very particular in her picking of the stats. Comparing Economic Liberal with Social Democrat is not exclusively opposite, but in recent days those of us who were around in the early days of merger have learnt that the younger generation don't quite realise that. Also only highlighting that centre left is below 50% without direct contrast.

As you look at the stats you will note that Social Liberal is 64% to Economic Liberal 35% those two are more or less mutually exclusive opposites. Also while Centre Left is 45%Centre Right is only 9% with Centrist coming at 27%. Therefore the defining of the centre we see that not everyone who says there are either centre right or left considers themselves wholly centrist, these three may well me almost mutually exclusive.

But to highlight only the figure of the 11th ranked word chosen by the 530 Lib Dem activists who filled in that survey to try and illustrate that you are mainstream seems a ridiculous use of survey statistics and would actually be statistically insignificant to claim as the norm or mainstream opinion.

Liberal Reform I note does refrain from using such divisive language, although I did recall seeing something, somewhere last night about not concentrating on targeting soft-left voters as we had done under Labour. Seeing as even when I was working in Labour held seats (as all our targets in Scotland were) I know that we also worked on soft-right voters from the Conservative vote I know that this wasn't the only place we were gaining support from. This comment has either since been deleted or I just haven't relocated it yet.

As I said last week, I don't like being TOLD that there is only one type of Yellowness that us Lib Dems ought to be. I'm all for discussing the values of various policy approaches, but for a party that talks about being left nor right we have some people who seem intend that we can only exist if we pull more one way than the other. Look what is top of that list of words, that is what I think we all should be


Note: the author has worked in the Statistics Branch of a Northern Ireland Department and has provided analysis of customer service stats for two multi-national companies European and Global networks.

Saturday 11 February 2012

Boris Johnson hands St. Patrick's Day to Sinn Féin

Dear Boris,

I spent 7 St. Patrick's days in London.

On the first while in the Student Union I helped to set up Kingston University's Irish Society, which is still going strong 23 years later. On every single once of them apart from that one I was doing something Irish, sometimes in one of the centres of Irish population, but not necessarily. But always in London.

I was a member of London Irish and when I returned there after 1992 hoped to be able to represent them in Athletics though I never competed again. I also took part in Gaelic Football when I was there as a local team in Kingston was looking for players, so I merely transposed by football and rugby skills to a different sport for a couple of years.

Therefore to condemn all the London Irish who attend a gala dinner on St. Patricks day as part of Sinn Féin and the event as being "lefty crap", and the people being "lazy and stupid" is offensive and racist. You wouldn't call all the London Scots who attended a Burns Supper last month as being members of the SNP, nor call them tight and drunkards. But then knowing your record of stupid sayings offending cities, peoples and nations maybe you would.

Yours a proud Liberal Democrat, former London Irish man, whose eyes are more on Rome than Paris this afternoon and that for the rugby and not the Pontiff.

Daily Fail misreport courts ruling on prayers

Seeing this mornings Daily Mail (paper edition) front page you would almost believe that David Cameron, or at least the personage of Ken Clarke in his role as Lord Chancellor had declared war on Marx's opiate of the masses.

The two stories that sparked the headline


with the subheader

Anger as TWO major court ruling go against British worshippers

Refers of course the case in Bideford Council and the failed appeal of Cornish guest house owners [both links to non Daily Fail coverage].

First lets us look at the ruling on prayers before council meetings. The Mail screams out that these are now banned. Here are the words of Mr Justice Ouseley who ruled on that case:

"A local authority has no powers under section 111 of theLocal Government Act 1972 to hold prayers as part of a formal local authority meeting or to summon councillors to such a meeting at which prayers are on the agenda. 
"The saying of prayers in a local authority chamber before a formal meeting of such a body is lawful provided councillors are not formally summoned to attend."
Hang on  there! Far from being banned the judge said it was lawful to hold prayers before a council meeting. What wasn't lawful for requiring ALL councillors to have to attend.
If the calling to order of the council meeting occurs after the prayers are said and councillors who do not wish to partake in them have a chance to enter the chamber then no harm is done. In other words prayer is allowed, just don't force everyone to take part in it against their own conscious. Something that Christians also want to be allowed to do themselves.
The second, which happens to be the result of the appeal hearing, just happened to be delivered on the same day. It is the case of the Christian guest B&B owners who prevented a civil partnered homosexual couple from staying in a double room.
On this occasion we turn to the ruling of Lady Justice Rafferty.
"Whilst the appellants' beliefs about sexual practise may not find the acceptance that once they did, nevertheless a democratic society must ensure that their espousal and expression remain open to those who hold them.
"It would be unfortunate to replace legal oppression of one community (homosexual couples) with legal oppression of another (those sharing the appellants' beliefs).
"However, in a pluralist society it is inevitable that from time to time, as here, views, beliefs and rights of some are not compatible with those of others. As I have made plain, I do not consider that the appellants face any difficulty in manifesting their religious beliefs. They are merely prohibited from so doing in the commercial context they have chosen."

So here we have a judgement that says the the Christian owners had no issue in expressing and manifesting their beliefs, however they had entered a trade of hospitality. The point was made at the time of the judgement had they checked the marriage certificate of every "heterosexual couple" who had turned up at their guesthouse to book a double room. Their objection had been to the fact that the couple were not in marriage of a man and a woman and they would not let them share a room. One wonders what the report would have been if one of the 'of faith' civil partnered couples that I know had been the couple in question? Because then you would have had two potentially christian couples of differing opinions on either side of this debate.

In both cases there was no hindrance in worshippers actually worshipping. What there was however, was protection under the law for those that are not worshippers, or at least don't not believe the same as the worshippers in question.

If Christians want to maintain freedom of their religion they really must stop attacking others options to opt out of their belief system.

Friday 10 February 2012

1908 Summer Olympics London: IV Olympiad

"And the games of the 5th Olympiad are awarded to.......Rome"

So why are we in London? And why are they now the 4th?

Last first the Intercalated games of 1906 (see last week's post) were at the time recognised as the 4th Olympiad, up until 1949 the position of the 1906 Games being in dispute. The former is because on 7 April 1906 Mount Vesuvius erupted devastating Naples and the funds that were designated for the Olympic stadiums and infrastructure were directed instead to that end. London stepped into the breach, not for the last time.

For the first time athletes came in behind their nation's standard
Nations 22 (+10)
Competitors 2008 (+1357)
Sports 22 (+5)
Events 110 (+19)

27 April - 31 October 1908 London, United Kingdom

An introduction to the opening ceremony in London was the parade of athletes behind the standards of their nation. This was because for the first time competitors truly where there to represent their nations and not as individuals. The days of the mixed national teams in Olympic games were over. So around the White City Stadium paraded the flags of the 22 competing nations lined up with Greece to the front and the United Kingdom (as their banner says in the picture) to the rear.

The new nations to take part in the games were Turkey (who were represented by one Greek athlete Aleko Moullos in the Gymnastics), Finland (though still part of the Russian Empire as the Grand Ducky of Finland at the time) and New Zealand (though their three athletes formed an Australasia team with the Australians).

The first Winter Olympians

At the Prince's Skating Club in Knightsbridge on the 28th and 29th October a first occured for the Olympic movement medals were awarded for what are considered winter sports now.

Ulrich Salchow of Sweden (pictured) who the following year would the following year take off on the back inside edge, and land on the back outside edge of his other foot, the jump that still bears his name took gold. Sweden took all three medals in the mens singles.

Great Britain took the women's singles through Madge Sayers, who along with her 45 year-old husband Edgar took bronze in the pairs behind the German pair of Anna Hübler (Germany's first female champion) and Heinrich Burger.

There was another dicipline the Men's special figures, which went to the Russian Nikolai Panin (their first gold). He was a multi-sports person, taking part also in rowing, cycling, athletics and gymnastics. With skating not on the Olympic calendar again for 16 years in 1912 he took part in the 50m pistol coming 8th.

Other new sports

Hockey (field) also made its debut at these games. Don't tell FIFA but at the first London games along with France and Germany the hockey teams on England, Scotland,Wales and Ireland all took part. England beat Ireland in the final and Scotland and Wales each took bronze.

Jeu de paume (Real Tennis) made its one and only Olympic appear at Queen's Club it went to one of the two Americans, Jay Gould II, in the otherwise British field of eleven.

Rackets also made it only Olympic appearance at that other great Tennis venue the All England Club that will once again be hosing Olympic Tennis this summer. All the competitors were however British so I'll let you guess who won all the medals then.

Water motorsports The London games were the only ones for which motorised sports are still counted in the medals table as three classes of motorboat raced in Southampton Water. However, in each of the three classes although multiple boats started only one in each completed the five laps of the 8 mile course. After these games the IOC stated that the games were not intended for motorised sport.

Some familiarities

The Diving in London took on a familiar look after its debut in St. Louis, although the names of high diving (for the 10m platform) and fancy diving (for the 3m springboard) less so. Although there was also a 1m springboard in that competition the medals fit only in the now familiar categories.

Preparing for the start of Marathon at Windsor
The marathon up until London had been a distance approximately the distance from Marathon to Athens approx 26 miles. But the race from Winsdor to the Olympic Stadium was meant to be just 26 miles, with the athletes using the Royal Entrance to the Olympic stadium before doing a 586 yard lap of the track. However, when it was realised that the Royal carriage would be blocking the Royal Entrance an alternative entrance was found leaving still 26 miles to the stadium, but a clockwise run around the track to a finish line made an extra 385 yards. In 1912 and 1920 the distance continued to vary, but from 1924 onwards the London distance became the official Olympic distance.

On a personal note a marathon has been run in London every year since that 1908 Olympic marathon. Even though the London Marathon only started in 1981 there was a continuous annual race organised by the Polytechnic Harriers (until 1999) the club of . My first brush with Olympic history was training on the track of Kingston Athletic Club and Polytechnic Harriers while at Kingston Polytechic (different Poly as Regent Street is now part of Westminster University).

These were the first Olympic games to be held in London, this summer the city will set a new record for hosting the most Summer Games. We've heard talk about the the legacy of the 2012 Games but what of the 1908 Games?

When a judge ruled that British athlete Wyndham Halswelle had been interfered with by one of the other finalists in the 400m there was a dispute as the definition of what deemed interference was different in the USA and British rules for running the event. The result was a rerun of the race, but the accused and his two fellow Americans refused to run. It meant that Halswelle had the only walkover win in Olympic history.

Following that event in the the greatest legacy of 1908 must surely be the establishment of standard rules for the sports that were deemed to be Olympic sports. Also bringing in judges from other countries other than the host. From here on all sports would be deemed to be judged impartially and a set of rules would be known for each competition. On top of this after the near death experience for the Games in St. Louis, London had given them high profile. Although they were still somewhat drawn out they were successful and as we know the movement has survived to this day.

See also:

Thursday 9 February 2012

Is Thatchell speaking with forked tongue regarding Ken?

The Peter Tatchell foundation have issued the following statement on Facebook regarding Ken Livingstone's 'riddled' comment about LGBT Tories. Embolding is mine for the purposes laid out below.

Ken Livingstone is not homophobic. His use of the word 'riddled' has to be judged in context. It was clearly not used with any homophobic intent. All parties have lots of gay, bisexual MPs, as Ken noted. He is right to state that there were many gay MPs in the Tory party, from the backbenches to the cabinet. After Labour’s victory in 1997 many gay Labour MPs came out, while gay Tories remained in the closet, continued to vote against gay equality. Ken is correct to suggest that in the 1980s and 90s the Conservative Party was avowedly anti-gay, while having many gay MPs. Lots of Tories opposed gay equality, despite their own homosexuality. They were hypocrites, homophobes. Ken is right to point this out.

In recent years, the Conservative leadership has embraced gay equality, which is commendable. However, only two weeks ago it was reported that 100 Tory MPs intend to block David Cameron’s plan to end the ban on same-sex marriage. They still oppose gay equality.

However, when Livingstone was Mayor in 2005 he invited outspoken Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi to London. Thatchell himself called him out as being a hypocrite at the time.

he Mayor justifies hosting Qaradawi on the grounds that he wants a dialogue with Muslims. But why is Ken having a dialogue with a reactionary Muslim leader? Why isn’t he meeting liberal Muslims who believe in human rights? Why does he host a homophobe like Qaradawi while ignoring pleas from the Muslim gay group, Imaan?
Ken has been a long-time ally of the lesbian and gay community. He stood up for our rights long before any other major politician. He deserves our respect and appreciation. But on the issue of Qaradawi, Ken has made a major misjudgement.
In the name of fighting Islamophobia the Mayor is colluding with homophobia. He appears to believe that Muslim rights are more important than queer rights, and that it is acceptable to ally himself with fundamentalists who despise gays and want them killed.
Livingstone would never host Catholic extremists like Opus Dei or right-wing Anglicans from the Christian Institute. Why is he rolling out the red carpet for an Islamist hate-monger like Qaradawi? 
Ken seems willing to sacrifice gay rights if it is politically expedient to do so. Does he want Muslim votes? Is that why he is cosying up to Islamic fundamentalists like Qaradawi and the reactionary Muslim Association of Britain (MAB)?
Note at the end of this BBC article that is was the head of the Conservative group in the London Assembly who said "[Qaradawi] is the type of man Mr Livingstone should, like us, be condemning not cosying up to. It's utterly unacceptable." 

At that point it was the So why then does the Peter Thatchell foundation now back his use of the word, when in the past he has condemned him as willing to sacrifice gay rights for political expediency. Does raising the issue of previous LGBT closeted Conservatives in the run up to an election campaign not count as political expediency.

Does using a word like riddled, which I notice has casued outrage from with LGBT members of all parties (not just the Conservatives), not warrant an apology. The above which is not condemned, but put into context by the Thatchell Foundation. How come formerly it was a major misjudgement and yet not it is something that Thatchell has to jump in to explain. 

Clearly the use of the word was a misjudgement, although the Thatchell Foundation have refused to say that is it. But they are jumping in to defend one candidate, while there are another seven.

It is a political expediency that Livingstone has gone running to the best known LGBT rights campaigner to get him out of this jam following this faux pas of his own making?