"I have reached this decision after careful thought. My husband Paul is very close to retirement and we naturally wish to spend more time together in retirement. I would also like to devote much more time to my parents, who live in Yorkshire and have turned eighty."
Saturday, 27 February 2010
You can read further coverage here and here.
Now, before all of the Labour hacks jump on me and say be fair to her, I am stating that even I got three out of four of these questions and I certainly didn't say "You can't ask a gay a football question" in the same manner she (pathetically) said "You can’t ask a girl a football question." anyway here was how Luciana Berger responded to the Liverpool Echo's "Liverpool Test".
I say this not to make petty political points but as a person born in Nottingham, yes really I was, and I recall watching that football match while working in Peterborough, you have to accept that the coverage by the Sun and their continued campaign afterwards was never justified.
Now, anyone at all worth their salt will know that the 15th April 1989 was a major date for Scousers and Hillsborough was an awful tragedy and everyone in Liverpool and Nottingham affected by the disaster has a real issue with The Sun newspaper and their bloody awful coverage of the disaster.
Well, that appears to be everyone apart from Luciana Berger, who felt it perfectly acceptable to follow The Sun on Twitter, you can see here on Luciana's Twitter page that she is desperately defending her very stupid decision.
I follow my Lib Dem opponent, and indeed he follows me, doesn't mean we support each other!Now, that was Luciana Berger's latest twitter message (as of 9pm), honestly has she never heard of when in a hole stop digging?
When someone on twitter pointed this out to her,she stopped following the sun on her twitter account.
However, Luciana Berger has yet again proved she doesn't understand Liverpool or it's residents and voters and really should just shut up or resign and go for another seat, although I wouldn't recommend anywhere in Liverpool, Sheffield or Nottingham, I think you have proven Luciana that you just don't get it.
Thankfully the good people of Liverpool Wavertree have a local champion who wants to be their MP, Colin Eldridge.
So this morning I was struck by this story on the BBC website - Railway station faces rejection.
The proposals are for a new station and housing development in Thornhill, Dumfries and Galloway.
Unfortunately the plans are due to be "recomended for refusal" by Dumfries and Galloway Council planning officers when it comes up at ameeting of councillors later this week.
Transport Scotland has described the station plans as "premature" and that it will not oppose the planning proposal if that aspect was dropped from the planning application.
Thornhill Community Council has also objected to the planning scheme however their objections are to do with the density of housing proposed, the impact on local roads and the potential impact on pupil numbers at local schools.
However, the part of the report that did make me laugh was that there is no opposition from Network Rail however they have pointed out that a station in the town could slow down journey times on the route which would be against industry objectives.
So, no more building of railway stations ever then because it is against the industry objectives of faster journey times - Network Rail and Royal Mail were made in the same mould, employ lots and lots of senior managers make it as difficult as possible for customers and moan, moan, moan until you can moan no more and then complain.
But, let us ensure we never modernise or progress, because that is bad, yes?
Friday, 26 February 2010
Slanj, a kilt firm in Aberdeen has found itself at the centre of a racism row after selling tee shirts with anyone but england on them for the 2010 world cup in South Africa.
Let's all calm down, I think they're great and its not racism its banter between the Scottish and English over a football game, please let's keep it in perspective.
Thankfully Grampian Police, who visited the store have said no racism complaints have been lodged.
Slanj are selling two designs, now both only available online, one as in the picture, which I photographed from my Metro this morning which is anyone but england and the second which reads Algeria, USA and Slovenia Supporters Club.
Roll on the world cup!
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
This week, for the third time out of the last four, there will be no Liberal Democrat Parliamentarian on BBC Question Time.
Some weeks back they dropped Jo Swinson MP, then on the week Iraq was discussed, they dropped Sir Menzies Campbell MP - so it was down to the Conservatives to defend their record and yet, it was the Liberal Democrats who voted against the Iraq war, not Labour, nor Cameron's Conservatives.
When I recently complained (as did hundreds of others), I got the same response as shown below and discussed in greater detail on Lib Dem Voice.
“The Liberal Democrats like all parties get representation based on their level of electoral support, which means they are on most – but not all – ‘Question Time’ panels across each series. We believe it adds to the breadth of debate to have perspectives from politicians and non-politicians alike, so places are always limited even within a five-person panel.”Since when did one show in four back that pathetic response from Gavin Allen? If you want to see the full text of the email that everyone who complained received then you can read it here.
So, Gavin Allen obviously does not give a rats tail about what Lib Dem voters who watch the BBC think.
If like me, you are fed up of the BBC Question Time team ignoring the Liberal Democrats then;
Step 1: Contact the BBC about it.
Step 2: Spread the word to your friends. Suggest they do it – mention it on your facebook and twitter
Step 3: Write a blog post
Well, despite Christine Pratt's protests I obviously wasn't the only one who was unhappy about the breaches in confidentiality and in fact
Yesterday morning the first of the NBH Patron's to quit was Professor Cary Cooper, an academic and work-place stress expert, resigned saying that: "I am resigning now on the grounds that I think she [Christine Pratt] breached confidentiality.
"One of the things that is really important for any helpline or any counselling service is to retain confidentiality of the people calling up."
Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe and TV presenter Sarah Cawood followed Cary Cooper and then finally Hillingdon Conservative Councillor Mary O'Connor also resigned – leaving the charity without any patrons - all citing the same reason, the obvious breach of confidentiality.
The National Bullying Helpline website has this stinging attack on the four former Patrons;
"Our Patrons have resigned at a time when we needed them most. It is a shame that not one of them ever visited our charity offices to see how we operate or meet with our Volunteers and Trustee's, despite request."
The comment on the NBH website goes on to also explain that the Helpline has now been suspended;
"Due to the situation at this time we are temporarily suspending our helpline. However, the website is still operational and contains practical, downloadable, documents for those who need it. Competitor anti bullying charities, individuals with an axe to grind and a few others have forced our hand."
"We are currently considering the future of the charity. Christine Pratt is prepared to resign if necessary."I am shocked and stunned she has not resigned yet. What does she mean if necessary?
The worst aspect of this drama reading the NBH website is the attacks made on other anti bullying charities etc, my message to Christine Pratt is firstly, grow up and then go and clear your desk and do the decent thing and resign.
However, you cannot blame anyone else for this mess, it is entirely of your own making.
To rub salt into the helplines wounds the charity commission has said it is launching an investigation into the helpline because of complaints it had received in the last 24 hours.
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
He is one of the critics of the Labour Party for bringing in "outsiders" to fight westminster seats in Liverpool.
That brings the total to 140 MPs who are standing down at the next election - including 89 Labour and 35 Conservatives.
This time however it appears it isn't the actual islands that are the key aspect of the ongoing and escalating Diplomatic row, it is the sovereign waters of the islands where exploration drilling (for oil) has begun just this week.
Oil always starts arguments and definitely inspires greed, and this is what the war of words is really about.
It appears that Argentina's leaders have met behind closed doors at a summit in Cancun with other Latin American and Caribbean leaders and a document has been drawn up which they will all sign supporting Argentina in it's diplomatic dispute with the UK Government over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.
Defence Minister Bill Rammell MP has said the government had a "legitimate right" to build an oil industry in its waters and that the UK would take "whatever steps [were] necessary" to protect the islands and that it had made Argentina "aware of that".
Diplomatically this is strong language and the words coming from Argentina in retaliation are as strong.
Argentina appears to have gained the support from President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who has said that Britain was being irrational and had to realise that the "time for empires was over".
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has called for "Britain to return the territory of the Malvinas to its real owners - to return it to Argentina" on Venezuelan Telesur television.
So, the war of words continues at an increased pace but Argentina has ruled out military action for now at least and is trying to pressure Britain into negotiations on sovereignty.
Only last year Argentina submitted a claim to the United Nations for a vast expanse of the ocean, based on research into the extent of the continental shelf, stretching to the Antarctic and including the island chains and will be raising the issue once again at the UN next week.
Let us hope this war is one only of words. I'm not entirely convinced though.
Monday, 22 February 2010
However today, PC Johnson was found guilty by Nottinghamshire Magistrates of animal cruelty and was given a six-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £2,500 costs.
On the Guardian website, PC Johnson said;
Johnson, 39, said he was severely depressed and was suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder when he left the dogs in the car. He said that repeated investigations by the Independent Police Complaints Commission had made his life "hell on earth" and convinced him that they were "out to get him".I am appalled that PC Johnson was allowed to be in charge of police dogs, who depend on their handlers, if he was genuinely suffering from depression.
Also, shouldn't his line managers by therefore fined for neglect of duty for allowing the officer to be on duty in the first place? If these repeated investigations were affecting this police officer's attitude in such a way why did no one spot this?
Paul Taylor, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said that although the officer had been devoted to his dogs, they had died in terrible pain owing to his mistake. "His failure in this case is an aberration of his normal high standards," Taylor said. "However, his actions had catastrophic consequences for the two dogs in the car."If this police officer's mental illness was so bad that on a day when it was nearly 30 degrees he could allow two dogs to stay locked in a car with no ventilation, he could have also done similar to a prisoner as well, this police officer should clearly not have been on active duty at all.
An assistant chief constable of the Nottinghamshire police, Peter Davies, said dog handlers must now take their animals directly to kennels on arrival at work and that a fob system was being piloted alerting handlers to temperature changes inside vehicles.I am pleased that the Nottinghamsire police force has belatedly made some changes to their dog handling procedures, but it sounds like that either the PC's mental illness is just being used as an excuse or they genuinely have not really learned from this tragic incident.
It is a great pity that assistant chief constable Peter Davies didn't take a little more notice of these police dogs and their handler while they were alive and serving on duty.
Let us hope it is not repeated by any police dog handler ever. This was an appalling animal cruelty case and I am not entirely sure justice has been served today.
Sunday, 21 February 2010
From the BBC website:
She [Christine Pratt] told the BBC: "Over recent months we have had several inquiries from staff within Gordon Brown's office. "Some have downloaded information; some have actually called our helpline directly and I have spoken to staff in his office."I personally believe that Christine Pratt is completely and utterley out of order for confirming this as it now potentially can create an even worse atmosphere for those staff members as everyone will go into work tomorrow thinking, was it you that called the bullying helpline?
If this alleged bullying has indeed taken place, Christine Pratt has therefore provided some very sensitive information such as "Some have downloaded information;" - this will enable an IT expert to check which computers within the specific department have visited that particular website. Very useful information for a bully.
On Saturday the prime minister told Channel 4 News things were sometimes said "in the heat of the moment" and when he was angry he might "throw the newspapers on the floor or something like that".As I said at the beginning, I am not going into detail on whether Gordon Brown, or anyone else has or has not bullied anyone within the Cabinet Office, that is for other's to investigate if they see fit.
Now, I have never visited the National Bullying Helpline website before today, but I was a little surprised when I got there to only see quotes from Ann Widdecombe MP (although she is their Patron) and David Cameron. I do not belive that Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg would not have given a quote if asked, however, have they ever been asked?
So, my initial though then became, is this story more politically motivated than we had perhaps originally thought?
However, back to my main point which is the confidentiality of anyone who calls or complains via the website.
In other words, Christine Pratt has not breached the confidentiality because in practice other than actual names and addresses your data is not protected and as Christine Pratt has shown today she is happy to share it with the BBC and any other news organisation if there is a story.
My advice would be never to use this helpline because your data and call is not as protected as you may have thought, and that if you are being bullied already this extra pressure will only make the situation potentially worse for you.
I was bullied as a youngster and to this day cannot tell you why the individual picked on me. I may have called a helpline such as this if it had existed back then, but imagine how you would feel if by contacting the helpline your details were used in this manner?
I really, really feel for the staff in the Cabinet Office that called or contacted the helpline, they would have thought that the call would have helped their situation, and initially it properly did, but they must be going through hell today and going to work tomorrow will now, because of Christine Pratt be a major, major event.
If, however this story is proven to be politically motivated, then there are much wider repercussions that will be felt. I do hope I am wrong.
Saturday, 20 February 2010
Tommy is not just an MP - he is an institution. He is the longest serving government whip of all time.
What is going on within the Labour Party? Does anyone actually know or understand all of these last minute resignations?
Friday, 19 February 2010
Today is one of those days where the rumour mill is running on full speed.
The only thing Gordon Brown has now is the element of surprise for announcing the date for the general election.
There has been a buzz all day today that tomorrow is that very day, and given the tweet earlier from Douglas Alexander:
"Big day for Labour 2moro, will keep u updated"
The volume of the rumours has grown louder and louder as the day has gone on.
Now this could of course just be the unveiling of the Labour campaign slogans and nothing more than that.
However, the fuel added to the rumour fire is that both Peter Mandelson and Ben Bradshaw have pulled out of the BAFTA awards at the last minute.
So, March 25th or just hope for it all to just get going from the faithful party activists of all parties.
Let's get a good nights sleep and see.
It took me a little longer today as I was just getting used to machines and the set up etc
I have to be honest, I am sat here writing this aching from top to bottom, there were definitely some aspects that were harder than others but on the who fairly enjoyable.
I'm in Inverness tomorrow so day off, but back in the gym on Sunday.
Yesterday it was Bruce George and today it is the turn of James Purnell.
James Purnell was the MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, in Greater Manchester, said on the BBC website that it was a "difficult decision", but he did not want to spend "all my life in frontline politics".
Given he has only been an MP since 2001, it is hardly all his life, although I do appreciate his career has very much centred around the Westminster bubble, however, we have to respect the wishes of all these Labour MPs jumping ship. James Purnell was a researcher for Tony Blair from 1992 to 1994 and worked as head of corporate planning at the BBC from 1995 to 1997.
James Purnell quit as work and pensions secretary after last year's local and European elections, calling for Gordon Brown to resign as prime minister.
Thursday, 18 February 2010
I am nearly two stone heavier than any of the Scotland rugby team's forwards, I know I am also considerably older, but I know I need to lose weight and look after myself.
So, tonight at 6pm the fightback started.
I am a member of the Newhaven David Lloyd Gym, and tonight Richard (my personal trainer) took me through my paces on the induction.
So, thats it for now, lets see how it goes......
Bruce George said he had decided "with an extremely heavy heart" to stand down after 36 years for health and family reasons. Bruce George, has a majority of 7,946.
From his own website:
During his time in Parliament he has specialised in Defence having been chosen to serve on the House of Commons Defence Committee when it was set up in 1979. Bruce went on to Chair the committee between 1997-2005. He has been a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe since 1992 and has served in virtually all of its elected offices including President (July 2002-July 2004) and President Emeritus (July 2004-06). He has also been a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly since 1982 and was recently elected as Vice President of the Assembly.
The dinner has been a great success and a big thank you to Craig McGill - from Contently Managed dot com for organising it and inviting me.
The speakers in order were, Tom Harris MP - then we ordered the starters - then me - then we ate the starters - Patrick Harvie MSP was next although continually interrupted by the arrival of the main courses - then we ate the main course and finally Councillor Alison Thewliss.
Unfortunately the Conservatives were unable to find anyone for the date.
Many topics were covered but the main focus of the speeches by the four speakers were why we use social media, how that's gone for us, high points and low points and then how we thought it may develop in the future for politicians, democracy and the voters.
There was then a lively Q & A session including topics such as - why are there so few women bloggers, is it the comments/attacks or is it the time needed, or does the number reflect the number of women involved in politics.
We then moved onto regulation and the 1200 websites taken down after instruction by the Metropolitan Police, it seems without a Court Order.
Should the internet have more red tape, the audience had very mixed views.
Then we were asked whether Council, the Holyrood and Westminster parliament websites serve their purpose, how can they be improved and indeed who are the websites targeting?
Edinburgh Council's Twitter account came in for some flak and then we wrapped up.
A great evening, some good debate and I'm looking forward to the next one.
I, among many of my friends, colleagues and many others blogged about this at the time, you can read the posting here.
At the time, emotions were running high and Jan Moir said;
"In what is clearly a heavily orchestrated internet campaign I think it is mischievous in the extreme to suggest that my article has homophobic and bigoted undertones."
This was her understanding of how the Social Media arena responded. What this showed in fact was not an orchestrated campaign but in fact a heavy out pouring of grief for Stephen, Boyzone, his partner Andrew and Stephen's family but also a group united against a fairly solitary voice attacking Stephen Gately and making some wild accusations.
Jan Moir misread the public mood.
Following her article, 25,000 people including Andrew Cowles and Polydor complained to the Press Complaints Commission, a number never seen before complaining about one article or even a TV show, such was the anger of people out there.
Well, now the PCC has published it's findings - here.
I have read the adjudication and the Commission's ruling in full under each of the three relevant parts of the Code - Clause 1 (Accuracy); Clause 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock); and Clause 12 (Discrimination) this you can find here.
I think the PCC had a difficult role here, but could have proved their worth and showed they even had some teeth, but they failed. Instead they have backed a
I will be honest, I think the adjudication is a load of tosh, I just found my self shouting at my laptop, (it's okay, it didn't talk back).
Take their ruling on Clause 12.
Clause 12 makes clear that the press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's sexual orientation. The question of whether the article was homophobic or discriminatory to gay people in general did not fall under the remit of the Code.
That paragraph to me is completely bonkers, so the PCC doesn't rule on homophobic statements, is that what they are actually saying?
While many complainants considered that there was an underlying tone of negativity towards Mr Gately and the complainant on account of the fact that they were gay, it was not possible to identify any direct uses of pejorative or prejudicial language in the article. The columnist had not used pejorative synonyms for the word "homosexual" at any point.So, Jan Moir and the Daily Mail walk free to make any comments they like, mostly because, apparently it was obviously the view of the columnist not the newspaper.
The Commission made clear that this part of the Code was not designed to prevent discussion of certain lifestyles or broad issues relating to race, religion or sexuality. There was a distinction between critical innuendo - which, though perhaps distasteful, was permissible in a free society - and discriminatory description of individuals, and the Code was designed to constrain the latter rather than the former.
The Commission may have been uncomfortable with the tenor of the columnist's remarks on the topic; it did not consider, however, that the column had crossed the line on this occasion such as to raise a breach of the Code
To me, the PCC got this ruling wrong - as Jan Moir got her article wrong and the timing even more wrong.
A sad day today.
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
"We will also understand where we should give a lead and where there is a need for law," he will say. "Conservatives should never leap to legislate."
- One in six, voted in favour of Section 28 in 1988. A sixth voted against its repeal in 2003 including David Cameron and a third of the Shadow Cabinet
- One in ten voted against dropping the age of consent for gay men from 21 to 18 in 1994
- Almost one in five, voted against the Sexual Offences Amendment Bill in 1999 which aimed to reduce the age at which anal sex was legal from 18 to 16
- One in three voted to allow only heterosexual, married couples to adopt in 2002 including seven members of the Shadow Cabinet
- One in three voted against the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations in March 2007 which allows the Secretary of State to make regulations defining discrimination and harassment on grounds of sexual orientation. This included thirty-three, or a third of frontbenchers and four of the Shadow Cabinet
- The Conservative Party opposed The Equality Bill 2008-09. Nineteen members of the Shadow Cabinet joined attempts to block the bill which will introduce a single 'public duty' requiring all publicly-funded bodies to pro-actively promote equality across the board and remove barriers to fair service provision
He will then go onto praise David Cameron for the way he has changed the Conservative party by making it more open to gay people and supportive of gay rights.
I have blogged on this topic before - Gay friendly Tories are just wolves in sheep's clothing.
It appears however that Argentina considers the entire South Atlantic continental shelf to be its territorial waters, despite the victory Britain had when the Argentinians invaded the Falkland Islands.
All is not as it appears.
Is this decree anyhting to do with the fact that several British companies are about to start offshore exploration? Desire Petroleum has licensed six areas where it predicts around 3.5 billion barrels of oil and nine trillion cubic feet of natural gas can be recovered.
The submersible rig Ocean Guardian is on its way to the Falklands and drilling for oil is to start in the next 6 months.
Is the President of Argentina firing a warning shot by issuing her decree?
Gordon Brown, in his New Year message to the Islanders said:
“no doubts about United Kingdom’s sovereignty over the Falkland Islands and that the principle of self determination underlies this.”
Oil always guarantees greed, let's hope President Fernandez isn't getting greedy.
You can read the questions and Nick's answers here.
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
The Conservative leader thought a photo of him and Barack may help his poll rating which recently is on a slump, it's because people don't trust you David, not that they don't have a photo of you and Obama in their kitchens.
However, Barack Obama's White House team weren't playing ball or hadn't been sent the right script:
A Washington source said: “The President is too busy to meet foreign leaders. He is focused on domestic policy and world issues like Afghanistan. The leader of the UK Conservative Party is not on his radar.”It seems that not everyone wants to meet David Cameron.
The Conservatives were hoping the meeting could have happened last week when Cameron was expected to be addressing a technology conference in California, however, this visit was ditched and Cameron did the speech by video link once the Conservatives realised a meeting between Obama and Cameron wasn't happening.
The Conservative leader was offered an alternative meeting though:
In a knock-back for the Tory leader, US officials said Mr Cameron could speak instead to Mr Obama’s National Security Adviser General Jim Jones.Oh dear, it appears David Cameron is not as popular as he and his team thought.
Monday, 15 February 2010
At the Emergency General meeting of the BNP in Hornchurch, Essex which had been called following the decision by the courts that the BNP membership rules were not complying with British law, the decision was made to accept non-whites, as long as they agree that this country should stay British.
The BNP had also invited journalists to the EGM, maybe to boost the numbers, however just before Nick Griffin was due to speak one of the officials and BNP Councillor Richard Barnbrook decided they no longer wanted Dominic Kennedy, Investigations Editor of The Times in the meeting because they were upset or offended by a piece that Dominic had written in the Times on Saturday just a week before.
"The Times had been invited by Simon Darby, the party's press officer, with other media, to hear Mr Griffin describe the constitutional changes."It then transpores that Dominic defended why he was there stating he had been invited by the BNP's own press officer, but to no avail, he was manhandled out of the room by the thugs.
Mr Griffin said The Times had lied about the party. He said: “Because he is from The Times, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and it lies and it lies and it lies about this party.
“So he [Dominic Kennedy] was told ’we’re sorry, you told one lie too many’, The Times, so we are not allowing anyone from The Times in – kindly leave.This utterley appalling behaviour shows that the BNP is still controlled by Griffin and his thugs, just because a journalist has written a story about the desparation and rubbish coming our of Barnbrook's mouth while on a recent visit with him in Barking he gets attacked and thrown out.
“He refused to leave when he was asked so he had to be encouraged to leave.”
Long may Dominic Kennedy continue to highlight these thugs that call themselves a political party and I hope he wasn't hurt when thrown out of the BNP meeting.
Beverley Connolly, a Tory councillor in Tandridge, Surrey, said: "I'm sure they are all eminently able candidates, but some of these people have been parachuted in from out of the area. We have a black candidate, a gay candidate.This is a mixed story really, yet again, another Constituency Association objects to the way that David Cameron and Eric Pickles are running the 'new' Conservative Party.
"I'm not remotely homophobic. It's not a reflection on their abilities or personalities but you have to ask if people are there just to tick boxes. It's not about what's best for the party in East Surrey, it's about what the party wants."
The list of six includes the 'winner' Sam Gyimah, Tariq Ahmad, Iain Dale, Philippa Broom, Natalie Elphicke and Sally Marks.
This Conservative 'A' list of candidates has been around for a while now and seems to cause controversy all the time, first there was Bromley when the local Association rejected Cameron's 'A' list and instead picked three jobs (and I want a 4th) Bob Neill, last week we were reading about the problems with Joanne Cash, then there was Liz Trust and the affair and the list goes on.
Cameron maybe trying to convince the electorate that they Conservatives have changed, but we are seeing week after week that the grassroots Conservatives have not changed, they are still exactly the same.
Is Conservative Councillor Beverley Connolly homophobic or racist, probably not, does she dislike being told exactly what to do by David Cameron and Conservative Central Office? Definitely.
Sunday, 14 February 2010
Boris Johnson’s appointee to run the fire authority, Tory Assembly Member Brian Coleman, today refused to rule out any fire station closures.So, Labour's Val Shawcross is suddenly interested in stopping Cameron's Conservative Mayor and his cronies closing London's fire stations.
Labour’s Val Shawcross AM, said: “The Chair of the fire authority ought to be able to reassure Londoners that there is no question-mark over the future of any of our fire stations and the fact that he refused to do so is surprising and a cause for real concern. We need a cast-iron guarantee from Brian Coleman and the mayor that fire stations, including in outer-London, are safe.
However, she wasn't quite so vocal back in 2005, when she herself was chair of the same London Fire Authority, and closed Manchester Square Station in Westminster and also redeployed 10 fire appliances from central London, including Dockhead fire station, to outer boroughs in London.
I did a lot of research for Simon Hughes MP, I was his Constituency Organiser at the time and the area served by Dockhead fire station had the highest volume of hoax calls in any London Borough and we questioned Val Shawcross why she was removing one of the fire engines given this research, she couldn't answer and never did bother to either.
We ran a massive campaign with full support from London Firemen and women, and many of the people living around Dockhead fire station. We held a public meeting in the February 2005 to stop the cuts, we lost and Val Shawcross shut Manchester Square station and took away one of Dockhead's fire engines plus others.
I hope I helped you get your memory back Val?
I was out delivering with the formidable Elspeth Finlay, and in fact this was our third weekend out togther, the end of January we were in North East Fife, last weekend we were in Edinburgh South and then this weekend the Borders. Elspeth isn't joining me in Inverness next weekend though.
The customer service was amazing and Tom was on hand throughout the evening from our arrival onwards. The rooms and decor were stunning, the food was all fresh and great and it was just a great experience, Elspeth, Matthew and I would all definitely recommend it.
Over the course of the weekend a massive part of the Borders, mainly in the East and South was delivered but I went into Jedburgh, Camptown (no jokes please), Selkirk, Melrose and Gattonside.
Here are a selection of photos from my delivering leaflets days in Fife and the Borders. Below is a picture of Crail Castle, the mince pie ice cream from our day delivering leaflets in Fife, the sunset on my birthday in Selkirk and finally Crail Harbour and the beach.
Saturday, 13 February 2010
Cameron's Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson said: "I have no intention of imposing a one-size-fits-all model across the whole of London."The last word goes to London Liberal Democrat Assembly policing spokesman Dee Doocey who said:
"The mayor's decision to cut £16m from the police budget, to cut 455 police officers, and to reduce all borough police budgets, is a slap in the face to Londoners."
Friday, 12 February 2010
It is okay for people to jump on someone for making a comment as Jonathan did but if you read it in the context of the group being friends including Nigel Owens himself, who was the butt of the joke, excuse the pun then it is just that, banter amongst friends.
Jonathan Thomas' team mate Ian Evans (who's twitter account is also down) had written on twitter: "Legs and ass are in bits, can't move" following a training session and Jonathan Thomas replied: "U gotta stop
hanging round with Nigel Owens!"
Nigel Owens is the Welsh referee who came out in 2007 and yes in his autobiography he revealed that he had once attempted suicide over his sexual orientation and had suffered discrimination.
However, there is a massive difference between discrimination and banter.
Nigel Owens said: "It's just banter, it's been taken totally out of context, I think people are sometimes losing their sense of humour. I am disappointed that some people cannot see the humour in what people say."I know it has been hard for sportsmen and women to come out and Gareth Thomas has been a shining example since his announcement, but let us also realise that a bit of harmless banter is exactly what it is, harmless banter.
He also added that he considered Jonathan Thomas a good friend and that the matter was now closed.
As someone who has suffered homophobic bullying over a length of time in my lifetime, I am also one of the first to engage in a bit of banter, gay and otherwise. I know full well if I had put the comment on twitter that Ian Evans did, I would be under a deluge of banter from friends of mine, gay and staright, and that's exactly what it would be, banter, harmless but bloody funny banter.
Let's lay off the guys and get a sense of humour here everyone. Jonathan and Ian, not all the gays in the village feel the same.
Thursday, 11 February 2010
During First Minister's Questions, Annabel Goldie called for a statement from Nicola Sturgeon because of Nicola Sturgeon's letter of support for a convicted fraudster.
Two hours later there was then an emergency meeting of the Bureau to discuss the possibility of an emergency statement, however the SNP refused to give a statement today and it was then pushed to a vote.
The Liberal Democrats and Labour voted for the statement, but Annabel Goldie's Tories bizarrely supported the SNP therefore giving them a majority and saving Nicola Sturgeon's bacon.
It is unbelievable that in the space of two hours the Conservatives have gone from demanding a parliamentary statement, to backing down and voting with the SNP to delay it until a week on Wednesday.
It is outrageous that our MSPs have been denied the opportunity to question the Deputy First Minister on this serious matter, but it appears that eventually she will be called to account on the 24th February.
It should therefore be remembered that it was the Liberal Democrats that forced a vote on this matter and it was the Conservatives’ behaviour that prevented the statement and saved Nicola Sturgeon's bacon.
Geoff Hoon recently failed in his attempt with Patricia Hewit to oust Gordon Brown in a bizarre coup.
The Ashfield seat is also a Lib Dem target seat and I suspect Geoff Hoon is jumping before the formidable Jason Zadrozny ejected him.
Well, now apparently everyone's toys are all back in the respective prams and she is the candidate again.
On Joanne Cash's Twitter page, some toys are obviously still out of the pram, there is a line in her biog, for all to see, RIP dinosaurs - that's so grown up and clearly what local people will want from their MP isn't it?
No, it clearly isn't, reading this from the Daily Mail:
'She [Joanne Cash] lost a lot of goodwill by doing that. Labour will now have a field day. It may be best if both Sayers and Cash resign and we have a completely fresh start,' one local party member said.This is not simply a clash of two alpha females as some in Cameron's Conservatives may have us believe. Cameron and his team of interferers have had their noses put out out before, remember the Bromley by-election?
The local association didn't take kindly to interference from Cameron and his team and so ignored the A-lister thrust upon them and went for three jobs Bob Neill (and I want a 4th), and then came within 700 votes of losing the seat.
Cameron would have us believe his party has changed, but situations such as this show that it hasn't in any way, my blog post earlier about his attack on lobbyists only for a senior tory, Andrew Mackay to become one two days later, a Conservative Future chairman suspended for making Nazi comments, the twitter rules for twits saga, the list just goes on and on and on.
When David Cameron and Eric Pickles have to personally intervene in a dispute such as this, it really does show all is not well in Camp Cameron.
Has this public throwing the toys out of the respective prams just shown that Joanne Cash will resign again at the drop of a hat if she doesn't get her way?
It could make the voting lobbies in the House of Commons interesting on occasion if she does.
Was this a flash in the pan or a slow burning problem, let's see.
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Then Councillor Daisy Benson and I enjoyed a little fun banter about singers called Taylor, and lo and behold Taylor Dayne contacted us both on Twitter.
Tell it to my Heart was the big hit for me back in 1988, feel free to buy it, download it and listen and yes, thats what I was dancing to back in the day when I was 20.
I am soooooo, excited it is untrue, it has made my birthday, Taylor Dayne, thank you so much.
However, none of the SNP MP's bothered to show to participate.
I would like to add in here that Angus MacNeil MP wasn't in Westminster following the death of his Father. I would like to pass on my sincere condolences, it is hard losing a parent as I know myself only too well.
The remaining six MP's from the SNP could however have made the effort to attend this debate covering a very important topic to the voters of Scotland.
Alistair Carmichael and the Scottish Liberal Democrats have campaigned tirelessly for fairer island fuel prices since 2001 and believe that the government not only has an opportunity to help in this issue, they have in fact a duty to do so.
It is appalling and shocking that Labour have been reluctant to introduce a duty rebate system or even to trial one.
The fuel price issue has been addressed in other EU countries and recently George Lyon, the Liberal Democrat MEP for Scotland asked the European Commission to look into the issue of derogation.
The Liberal Democrats are demonstrating joined up politics unlike Labour and the SNP, who spend more time attacking each other rather than working on issues such as this which are vitally important.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland said:
“Immediately following my parliamentary debate earlier this morning, I was approached by Treasury Minister Sarah McCarthy Fry MP who informed me that she has now instructed her officials to carry out a proper examination of how reduced rates of fuel duty for island communities which are operated in other EU countries are made to work in practice.
“Treasury Ministers in the UK have always claimed that a reduced rate of fuel duty could not be made to work in the UK, this is the first time that they have ever been prepared to look at how other countries manage to do what they seem to find so difficult. We are far from getting what we need and want on this important issue but it is a significant and important piece of progress.”The fact that six of the SNP MP's could not be bothered to attend just proves their irrelevance in Westminster and once again proves it is the second party in Scotland, the Liberal Democrats who are standing up for a fair deal for the people of Scotland.
This is what David Cameron said on Monday this week in a speech where he launched a scathing attack on lobbyists;
He said: ‘It's an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long...an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money. I'm talking about lobbying - and we all know how it works.Then today, just two days later top Tory MP Andrew Mackay, who was embroiled in the recent expenses scandal and faced having to repay to Parliament in excess of £31,000, has admitted he will be joining Burson-Marsteller after considering a number of agencies when he stands down at the forthcoming general election.
‘The lunches, the hospitality, the quiet word in your ear, the ex-ministers and ex-advisers for hire, helping big business find the right way to get its way. In this party, we believe in competition, not cronyism. We believe in market economics, not crony capitalism. So we must be the party that sorts all this out.
I am all for cleaning up politics and let's be honest, once again it was Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats who led this debate a year ago when Nick launched the Take Back Power campaign and now Cameron is trying to catch up and make it sound like it was his idea.
But David Cameron quite clearly does not carry his party with him.
Now, I do not want anyone thinking that I sympathise with Bob Crow the leader of the RMT, because I do not, that man has brought so much misery to the commuters of London over the years that I cannot say his name without spitting and getting extremely angry.
However, this is one issue where I fully agree with the unions, although I don't agree with their choice of striking to solve the problem, that will just wind up commuters and travellers and not gain public sympathy.
The trains in Scotland are some of the cleanest and safest I have travelled on in the last twenty years, when I first moved to London after moving from Torquay trains had guards, trains were clean and trains also had fire extinguishers.
The removal of guards led to trains becoming more dirty as people just left their rubbish all over, vanadalism became more frequent, then fire extinguishers were removed and the main reason cited was vandalism.
I was on a late night train home from London Charing Cross to Dartford a few years back when stupid thugs set fire to a chair on a train, and myself and one other passenger had to attempt to put the fire out by stamping on the seat because the extinguishers had been removed while evacuating passengers into other carriages, because there was no guard to assist.
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
I would urge anyone wavering in their support for the SNP to join Alex Dingwall and back the Scottish Liberal Democrats which offers positive local change in Glasgow.
Alex Dingwall topped the poll in 2007 in the Maryhill/Kelvin ward and now joins fellow Liberal Democrat Councillor Mary Paris representing the people of the ward in the Westminster constituency of Glasgow North which Katy Gordon is campaigning in to become the next MP for the area.
Alex Dingwall said of his defection from the SNP to the Scottish Liberal Democrats: “I believe that Glasgow needs a change in how our city is run and a party that sets out a clear, credible alternative to the current Labour Administration. Regrettably over the last year it has become clear to me that the Glasgow SNP Council Group lacks both the leadership and the authority to set out an alternative vision for our city."
“After 31 years of membership with the SNP the decision to leave has not been an easy one but the move away from a local to a centrally set income tax and the recent threats to take away control of schools and care for the elderly from local authorities show the SNP simply doesn’t trust its councillors, preferring instead to govern local communities by ministerial decree."
“That’s why I am pleased to be joining the Liberal Democrats. I share their commitment to local government and to the core principle of keeping local decisions local.
“I will continue to work constructively for my constituents and for the people of Glasgow, but now in a way which is entirely in keeping with my personal and political beliefs.”
Liberal Democrat candidate for Glasgow North, Katy Gordon added: “I’ve known Councillor Dingwall for many years and I’m really pleased to welcome him to the party.
“This is a real boost to the Liberal Democrat campaign in Glasgow North. People are fed up with Labour and Councillor Dingwall’s decision demonstrates once again that the real alternative is the Liberal Democrats.”
The Liberal Democrat MSP for Glasgow Robert Brown added: “I’m delighted that Councillor Dingwall has decided to join the Liberal Democrats.
“As a talented and able politician, he will be a real asset to the Liberal Democrat group.
“I’ve no doubt that he’ll work in close harmony with his Liberal Democrat colleagues and with Liberal Democrat principles for the greater good of Glasgow.”
That is nearly 90 Labour MPs who are deserting, jumping ship, collecting a pay off (in the rules and all MPs receive this) as they pass go, resigning or plain retiring before the election.
It is incredible that so many are leaving it so late to announce their decisions.
I blogged last week about the Tories Twitter rules for Twits and now the IOC find themselves in a similar state of confusion.
The IOC have created a four page rule book consisting of thirteen rules about the use of blogging, facebook, twitter and photos on such sites.
Photos are not allowed of any athletes at the opening or closing ceremonies, medal ceremonies or in fact of any athletes participating in any of the events.Nick Pearson, pictured, was one of many athletes on Twitter who were generally confused about the rules but is a happy chap now and I look forward to his tweets.
In other words the athletes, sorry, athletes and other accredited people that aren't journalists must keep all of their postings in the first person and they must reflect their personal views only.
They have the detailed story over at wired dot com;
there is no Olympic rule that sets up a blackout period for athletes according to Bob Condron, the Director of Media Services for the United States Olympic Committee.
“Athletes are free to blog during the Games,” says Condron. “And Twitter is just a blog that’s written 140 characters at a time.”
There are some restrictions on what athletes can do online during the Olympics. According to the IOC Blogging Guidelines for the 2010 Games, athletes and other accredited people must keep their posts confined to their personal experiences.
“You can’t act as a journalist if you aren’t,” says Condron. “You need to do things in a first person way.”I do wonder why this is so harsh, given that they surely cannot prevent any of the supporters present posting photos of the events and ceremonies?
Rule 49 of the Olympic Charter says that “Only those persons accredited as media may act as journalists, reporters or in any other media capacity.”
Anyhow, I am sure as ever the Winter Olympics will be a great joy to watch, thank goodness for Sky+.
Ms Cash resigned at a special meeting of the Association tonight - also attended by Eric Pickles and Lord Strathclyde - following internal tensions in the local party.
9.45pm: CCHQ mounting effort to reverse decision.
Monday, 8 February 2010
Those are the words of the Revd Rod Thomas, of St Matthew's Church, Elburton, Plymouth.
Revd Thomas is the chairman of the evangelical group Reform, described on their own website as a network of individuals and churches within the Church of England committed to reforming the Church of England from within according to the Holy Scriptures.
I am astounded at this outrageous sexism, and do not understand the thinking of these peole from supposedly a caring profession.
Extract from the open letter to all Bishops and Synod Members from Reform;
"As 50 incumbents of Church of England churches we are writing to say why, in our view, the consecration of women bishops would be a mistake and would raise for us great difficulties of conscience and practice, as well as being wrong for our Church as a whole.I don't pretend to understand God, the church or it's followers, but these views of people like Revd Thomas, who are clearly scared that a woman may be in charge of a church are scary.
Our concern is derived from Scripture. It seems to us that the Apostolic teaching on male headship in church and family (as in 1 Corinthians 11-14, Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Peter 3) is clear enough in its principles: overall leadership in the church is to be exercised by men."
I thought the church was supposed to be all embracing, and apparently yes, it is as long as you aren't gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or trans. Now, it also appears that women are to be embraced as long as they are at home, doing the baking or arranging flowers, what utter rubbish is that?
I may have read this wrong, but that is what I took from this quote on the Reform website;
"The letter points out that their opposition is based on the pattern the Bible gives both for relationships in the home and the church. They say that they cannot see how, as Bible teachers, they can do other than put into practice what they believe the Bible to be teaching."
In other words women cannot run a church but they can run a home.
I hope the Synod sees sense and moves with the modern times we are in and I look forward to a female bishop being recognised properly and I wish WATCH (women and the Church) who are campaigning to see women take their place alongside men in the Church of England.
However on Saturday a slightly more sour gaffe was uncovered by the Yorkshire Evening Post, the chairman of West Yorkshire Conservative Future (the Conservative youth group) David Bolt, son of the deputy leader of the Conservative group on Kirklees Council, Councillor Martyn Bolt.
David had written in a monthly email newsletter - "In effect, we will form a CF Sonderkommando which will be available to blitz any areas......"
This choice of Nazi language is deeply offensive, especially to people in the large Jewish community in West Yorkshire.
To be fair to the Conservaives, David Bolt has now been suspended. However all references to him on their website have gone, the Conservatives must realise that just airbrushing a problem does not hide the problem.
Is this another reason why the Conservatives want to approve everything before it goes anywhere?