Reevesey's recommended reading

Monday, 28 June 2010

Photography as a crime rears its head again

Lat December I wrote a blog post Is photography the new crime? mainly because the Metropolitan Police Service had issued guidance to its Officers, which on the whole seemed to be being ignored.

Well this blog post is two fold, one is to celebrate the victory of journalists Marc Vallée and Jason Parkinson who have both received £3500 compensation each after police handling a protest outside the Greek Embassy prevented them from filming.

You would therefore now assume that these incidents would stop, unfortunately you could not be further from the truth.

The second aspect of this post is to highlight the incident from the weekend in Romford involving yet another journalist, Jules Mattsson and the Metropolitan Police who still don't seem to understand the guidance that has been issued to them as highlighted in my blog post Is photography the new crime?

Jules Mattsson was trying to cover an Armed Forces Day parade in Romford when ill trained and ill informed Metropolitan Police Officers, including an Inspector detain him, push him down stairs and generally act like very silly people while claiming he was being prevented from working for all sorts of reasons, all wrong.

The Romford Incident just shows that Police training is urgently needed before something goes horribly wrong!  Do watch the video on the blog.

This surely shows that the Police are still dealing with photographers/journalists in a far too heavy handed manner?

Pope deplores raids by Belgian police investigating child abuse

Yet again the Pope and the Catholic Church have misread the public mood about the anger of the child abuse scandal that the Catholic Church is shrouded in.

The Belgian Police have started raiding Catholic Church Offices investigating child abuse.

Pope Benedict has attacked the Belgian Police in a message of support to the Bishops of Belgium;
"I want to express, dear brother in the Episcopate, as well as to all the Bishops of Belgium, my closeness and solidarity in this moment of sadness, in which, with certain surprising and deplorable methods, searches were carried out."
So, yet again we see the Pope preferring to cover up the child abuse within the Catholic Church rather than helping the appropriate authorities sort it out and eradicate this awful abuse.

Police in Leuven, central Belgium, last Thursday seized nearly 500 files and a computer from the offices of a Church commission during their investigation of allegations of sex abuse.

They also searched the Church's headquarters and the Brussels archdiocese in Mechelen, north of the Belgian capital.

The Belgian Justice Minister, Stefaan De Clerck has defended the police action, in a series of TV interviews on Sunday, and said the investigation was legitimate.
"The bishops were treated completely normally during the raid on the archdiocese and it is false to say that they received no food or drink,".
Mr De Clerck said the Vatican's reaction had been excessive as it was based on false information.

Prosecutors said the action concerned alleged "abuse of minors committed by a certain number of Church figures".

It is a great shame that Pope Benedict instead of attacking the Police isn't urging the Belgian Bishops to assist the Police so their investigation can be swift rooting out the perpetrators of the child abuse so the Catholic Church can then move on.

Standing in the way of the Police is just proving once again how out of touch Pope Benedict is with the public and others on the awful situation.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Why Lembit Öpik should not be the Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of London

Yesterday afternoon I was sat in Starbucks enjoying a coffee (triple shot venti skinny latte) and sandwich when I read the story on page 5 of The Guardian "Being London mayor would suit me: Öpik" and nearly choked on my coffee.

Well Lembit it may suit you, but will it suit Londoners?

Deep down no, I really, really don't think so.

Lembit, you really must learn that just because you think something is a great idea, not everyone will be with you as over recent years in various roles and things you have done within the Party.

I was the Agent and Campaign Manager for Brian Paddick during the 2008 Mayoral campaign so I know what I am talking about when I say that London does not need a stand up comedian, chat show contestant, known for dating TV weather girl Sian Lloyd and then one of the Cheeky Girls with appearances in Hello magazine.

Yes, I know you could argue they got a similar breed with Boris Johnson, but actually it was very interesting on the night of the last Mayoral count when Boris turned to Ken and me and said "Have I really won?".

Boris went very serious and then just got on with the job, I just don't see Lembit Öpik doing the same nor being able to do the job.

The job of Mayor of London requires a serious attitude, something I have yet to see in Lembit.

You cannot clown around forever and not expect people to treat you as a joke all the time.

I've also beaten Lembit before in an election before when I ran Simon Hughes campaign to become the President of the Liberal Democrats back in 2004, Lembit just assumed that parading around local party events with Sian Lloyd draped on his arm would win him the election.

I think Sian would have beaten Lembit if she had stood against him.  In the end Lembit didn't even manage to get 20% of the vote.

Lembit was a great joke teller (not comedian), after dinner speaker and worked hard for his constituents in his Montgomeryshire constituency.

I don't see the CBI or Unions taking a blind bit of notice of him if he was Mayor of London, he has been a joke character for such a long time both in and outside of the Party and as the saying goes after a while the mud sticks.

Lembit, if you want to make a difference then do so, but being the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London is a serious role, just look at the three previous candidates - Susan Kramer, Simon Hughes and Brian Paddick - they are in a different mould to you I'm afraid.

I actually hope that Susan Kramer will consider standing again.

England beaten by the Germans - cheats, better players and goal line technology

So, England is out of the 2010 World Cup, some may say just a few days after they should have been.

However, before everyone turns on Fabio Capello we have to remember that this is a team game and every single player on the squad has to take their share of the responsibility as does the FA and I really hope they all do so.

Despite being completely out played in the first twenty minutes we have to ask what would have happened if the German goalkeeper had been honest in the 39th minute when Frank Lampard's chip beat the goalie but was never given?

How did the Referee, two linesmen and the fourth official miss it when everyone else in the stadium saw it, including the German goalie who obviously is not an honest player, in fact he is a cheat?

See below for yourselves.

What would have happened if that goal had been given when the teams had come back out in the second half, would England have been rejuvenated?

To be perfectly honest, probably not, they were out played and out classed today and really did not deserve to win.

One question for Fabio though, why on earth did you bring on Shaun Wright-Phillips in the 87th minute?  What did you really think he could add or alter at that extremely late stage?

So, ignoring the result now back to the goal that wasn't.

The Mirror put it like this:
It is frankly ludicrous that Sepp Blatter and his FIFA mandarins continue to shrug their shoulders at such injustices as the one Lampard suffered when the entire stadium, through all manner of new technology, knew within minutes the ball had crashed off Neuer's bar and bounced at least two feet over the line.
It has brought the discussions of goal line technology, back in 2005 FIFA had agreed to a ball with a chip, at the International Football Association Board (IFAB) at its 119th Annual General Meeting near Cardiff, Wales, on 26 February 2005, whatever happened to that?

Unfortunately some five years later at the 124th Annual General Meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), chaired by FIFA as is traditional in a FIFA World Cup year, the meeting was marked by the major decision to no longer pursue the development of goal-line technology.
“The IFAB has decided not to pursue goal-line technology and to no longer continue experiments in that area,” explained the FIFA Secretary General, Jerome Valcke, in his opening statement. “The question posed to the members of the IFAB was simple: should we introduce technology in football or not? The answer from the majority of members was no, even if was not unanimous.”
The meeting went on and comments were then made by Jonathan Ford, Football Association of Wales and Patrick Nelson, Irish Football Association;
A significant decision, it was arrived at for a number of reasons, with the most important undoubtedly revolving around the philosophy of the game. “The human aspect of football is essential to this sport,” said Jonathan Ford of the Football Association of Wales. “The big moments in this sport – whatever they are – get supporters talking and go down in history. That’s what makes this sport so vibrant.”
“We were all agreed that technology shouldn’t enter football because we want football to remain human, which is what makes it great,” added Patrick Nelson of the Irish Football Association. “The fans keep talking about these matches again and again, and relive them.”

What a load of crap, has rugby been ruined? No.

Has tennis been ruined? No.

This continued head in the sand approach by FIFA and especially Sepp Blatter is just showing him and FIFA as being out of touch and arrogant on this key topic.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Scottish Conservatives let Michael Crow go and their plush HQ, what's next?

The Scottish Conservatives are going through a real internal struggle at the moment, during the general election they made a huge issue of targeting eleven seats, despite only starting with one.

They spent huge amounts of money on advertising vans as their daily photo props including a garage and container lorry one day, but what did these achieve?  Very little in reality other than a few spots on the election gaffes video done during the final week of the campaign.

So, what was the effect of their targeting strategy, erm, well, nothing, not one seat changed hands in Scotland, the Conservatives started with one MP, David Mundell and he is still their solitary MP.

It finished Labour 41, Liberal Democrats 11, SNP 6 and Conservatives 1.

Then we hear the Scottish Conservatives are to move out of their offices on Princes Street, The Scotsman claim these cost £100,000 per year, into their association office in Edinburgh North & Leith, another step down.

Internal criticism was next with Conservative Peer Lord Forsyth describing his party as a "marginal" force in Scotland.  He said it was time for a structural rethink of the Conservatives north of the border.

Hours later we hear there is to be a great review into why the Conservatives did not advance in Scotland.

Scottish Conservative chairman Andrew Fulton announced he is setting up a commission;
A commission, chaired by Lord Sanderson, will be set up to look at the structures of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party and examine how it works, and recommend any changes which would strengthen it.
This commission seemed to create even more splits within the rank and file of the Scottish Conservatives and finally yesterday the crack opened up enough to swallow Michael Crow.

Michael Crow was appointed just 18 months ago as the Scottish Conservatives Director of Strategy and Communications on a reported six figure salary.

The party, which won just one Scottish seat on 6 May, said he was let go as director of strategy and communications due to "financial constraints".

But if you read between the lines in some of the tributes in yesterdays Scotsman, there is also an apparent dislike, is this because he dragged the Scottish Conservatives into a modern political party that they are uncomfortable with?

Or is this just a split between modernisers and the old guard?

Conservative MSP David McLetchie, who is their Chief Whip in Holyrood told The Scotsman;
"I've won my seat on two occasions, even defeating the current Labour leader [Iain Gray].  I didn't need Michael Crow's help to do that...."
Ouch - bitter or what?  Maybe jealous of the reported salary Michael Crow was on?

So, the HQ has gone, the Director of Strategy and Communications has gone, who or what is next???

Sunday, 20 June 2010

RIP Zennor Reeves

Having pets is mostly a really enjoyable time and over the last 16 years we have had great times with Zennor and her sister Madron, who died in 2007.

Unfortunately since December Zennor (pictured below) hasn't been so well but had really deteriorated over the last two weeks.

Roger and I discussed a plan and yesterday at 11am said goodbye to our little girl.

Although the last few days, especially yesterday have been so hard for us its important to balance that with the years of great memories;

When Madron sat next to Roger and clawed the broccoli off his dinner plate and then ate it.

Zennor getting stuck in the tree in the garden in Lewisham every night and Roger waiting for me to get her down.

Madron sat at the windows of the flat in Dartford doing a noise trying to attack the birds.

Christmas 1995, Zennor growling at Madron when she tried to steal her toy mouse.

Loads and loads of great memories and we will miss you both so very much.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Was David Ruffley MPs action a shout for help?

On Thursday evening David Ruffley MP jumped in front of a Gatwick Express train at London Victoria Station during the rush hour. Incredibly, the train passed right over him and miraculously he also missed the live electric rail.

Following the incident, where the train was backed up and David pulled from the track he was then taken to St. Thomas's Hospital for checks.

David Ruffley has been the Conservative MP for Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, since 1997.
A British Transport Police source told The Sun:
"It was not believed to be an accident. Witnesses said he deliberately tried to jump in front of the train. At this stage it appears to have been a half-hearted attempt to kill himself.
If this was as appears a suicide attempt then the Conservative Party and his family must ensure he gets all the help he needs to get him through this extremely difficult time.

There are many organisations who can help.

Let's hope David has a speedy recovery.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Retain the international ban on commercial whaling

Since the end of May the International Whaling Commission has been meeting for it's 62nd Annual and Associated meetings in, Agadir, Morocco.

One of the reasons for this meeting is to vote on a proposal that would legalise commercial whale hunting for the first time since 1986.

The general public across the majority of the world is against this proposal, but pro-whaling countries are pushing for the legalisation extremely hard.

There are many organisations and people on the ground in Agadir setting up billboards, producing newspaper adverts, and building a giant, constantly-updating petition counter to show that the world's people oppose whale slaughter.
Please, if you are against whaling then add your name to this petition, and help achieve one million signatures.

To parties of the International Whaling Commission:

As citizens from around the world, we call on you to retain the international ban on commercial whaling as the core policy of the International Whaling Commission in its pursuit of conservation of whales.
More than 700,000 people, including me, have signed the petition to protect whales.

Thanks to the worldwide outcry, many governments have already pledged to oppose the proposal. Each time the Avaaz whale petition added 100,000 signatures, it was sent again to the IWC and key governments and some, like New Zealand, thanked all of those who had signed.

But pressure from the other side has been relentless and now other governments, especially here in Europe and Latin America, may abstain... or worse, even support the proposal. The vote really could go either way.

People pressure is our best hope. After all, it was an explosive worldwide social movement back in the 1980s that led to the commercial whaling ban we're now trying to protect.

After the global ban was first implemented on commercial whaling, the number of whales killed each year plummeted from 38,000 per year to just a couple of thousand. It's a testament to the power of humanity to move forward. As we move to confront the other crises of the modern age, let's cherish this legacy of progress by joining together now to protect our majestic and intelligent neighbours on this fragile planet.

Despite the global ban, Japan, Norway, and Iceland continued whaling and are now pushing to make the IWC proposal as lenient as possible. Expecting permission to catch more whales than ever, Japan is reportedly planning to buy its largest whaling ship yet.

So, add your voice and sign the petition today.

You can also email the Japanese Embassy, Norwegian Embassy and the Icelandic Embassy to tell them your views.

Labour MSP Frank McAveety resigns after microphone mishap

You would think after Gordon Brown being involved in a microphone mishap creating "bigotgate" with Gillian Duffy in Rochdale during the general election that politicians, especially Labour ones would have learnt a lesson.

Well, apparently no, Glasgow Shettleston MSP Frank McAveety has been plunged into a crisis resulting in him resigning as Labour's frontbench shadow sports spokesman and also his position as the convenor of the Public Petitions Committee.

Members of the Public Petitions Committee had just finished taking evidence from Parkinson's disease campaigners Frank McAveety began speaking to his committee clerk about a girl in the public benches.
He started by saying: "There's a very attractive girl in the second row, dark … and dusky. We'll maybe put a wee word out for her."

Mr McAveety continued: "She's very attractive looking, nice, very nice, very slim," before adding: "The heat's getting to me."

The MSP added: "She looks kinda … she's got that Filipino look. You know … the kind you'd see in a Gauguin painting. There's a wee bit of culture."

Unfortunately for Frank McAveety the microphones were all still on.

My reply to Derek Simpson of Unite's invitation to rip up my membership card

I can hear the trembling of many of my friends and colleagues now as they read the title of this blog post, but have faith my people, I will be polite and not tell Derek Simpson to shove it up his......

So Derek, you are urging me and my fellow members of the Liberal Democrats to rip up our membership cards?

Let me ask you a few questions first, if I may?

Why have you not been so vocal about the sheer outrageous level of the borrowing by your own Labour cronies when in Government, plunging us into the biggest debt we have ever known?

Why do you feel bringing British Airways to its knees and on the brink of bankruptcy by continuously striving for strike action will achieve anything positive?

Why did you not cut Unites ties with Labour over the illegal war in Iraq?

You see, there will be reasons why you won't answer those questions and I will not rip up my membership card, nor will I resign my membership of the Liberal Democrats because Nick Clegg and our party have entered into a working coalition government to sort out the mess that Labour have left behind after thirteen years of being in government.

It was Labour that stopped the rainbow coalition government being formed because of their refusal to work with the SNP, however in reality bringing so many parties together would not have had a balanced or steady work flow to achieve anything whereas the grown up approach of both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives has already seen dividends.

Don't get me wrong Derek, I am not in favour of the Conservatives and I will be doing everything in my power over the next eleven months to beat them in every constituency and region across Scotland to get Tavish Scott as First Minister and the Liberal Democrats as the Government of Scotland.

Being in a grown up coalition doesn't stop that.

There will be policy announcements and changes that my moral compass doesn't agree with, but very few people join a political party because of just one individual thing, as you very well know.

I am a Liberal Democrat, proud of being so and proud that we are in government.

I am unhappy we are having to waste time sorting out and paying for your Party's frivolous attitude to spending over the last thirteen years.

So, no I won't rip up my membership card you can shove that request up where the sun don't shine!

Monday, 14 June 2010

Belinda Eyre-Brook

Many of my readers will remember Belinda, who worked tirelessly to get Ed Davey MP and the Lib Dems on Kingston Borough Council elected.

Just over two years ago Belinda lost her battle with cancer.

Rob and Belinda ensured the funeral was a celebration of Belinda's life and everyone who attended was given some bulbs to plant.

Well, I planted mine once in the current flat (as I have a balcony) and it has bloomed, as the beautiful picture shows.

Belinda will never be forgotten xx.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Tory MP Caroline Nokes declares extra marital sex wrong while cheating on her husband with a toy boy

Whoops, the Conservatives don't learn do they?

So Caroline Nokes, the new MP for Romsey and Southampton North has been having an affair for four years with James Dinsdale, a conservative councillor and activist ten years her junior, despite during the election endorsing a Christian group's declaration that extra-marital sex is wrong.

Just last week she celebrated her 15th wedding anniversary.

The Mail on Sunday reports:

But the MP's young lover Mr [James] Dinsdale, a Conservative councillor and former leading light in the party's youth wing, Conservative Future, told journalists: 'I can confirm Caroline Nokes and I have had a sexual relationship.
'I have no further comment to make.'
Then goes on to say;
Today, his [James Dinsdale] mother Beverley, apparently unaware her son had admitted to sex with the MP, said: 'My son was Caroline’s agent at the General Election for goodness sake – he helped her win – so it is natural that they should still meet up from time to time.
'They are both grown-ups but James has a girlfriend here in Bury St Edmunds – he is spending the day with her today.'
So another Tory falls for the don't do what I do, do what I say option.

For four years of her fifteen years of marriage she has been living a lie, having an affair with a Tory toy boy ten years her junior - shame on her - I wonder if she mentioned it in her election literature?

RSPCA shuts it's doors to strays and unwanted animals

and those animals who can no longer be cared for due to their owner's ill health, death or change of circumstances.

This is a sad, sad day.

There is no explanation on the RSPCA website to this major change of policy.
We are no longer able to take in stray cats, dogs, equines or farm animals. If you find a stray animal please follow the advice below:
• Dogs – contact your local authority.

• Cats – visit our stray cats pages for more information.

• Equines and farm animals – contact the police.
Now I gather the RSPCA like other animal welfare charities receives no government funding which makes this policy change even more bizarre, because all they have done by shutting their doors is push the problems onto other animal charities such as - Cats Protection League, Hillside Animal Sanctuary, Dogs Trust and even the SSPCA - the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The Scottish SPCA is entirely separate from the RSPCA, which operates in England and Wales only. There is no such charity as the 'RSPCA Scotland' or 'Scottish RSPCA'!

As someone who has supported the RSPCA over the years I am astounded, shocked and saddened at this change of policy - we have had both cats and dogs from their branch at Radcliffe on Trent - and was never happy that they only housed animals for 7 days before putting them to sleep, but now to just shut their doors is shameful.

A huge thank you to Hillside Animal Sanctuary for putting this information into the public domain.

Hillside already take in around 75,000 animals each year so the RSPCA shutting it's doors will only increase that figure, if you can make a small donation and help Hillside, please do so here and help them today.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

GM foods, additives, preservatives and obesity

This is a blog post I have been wanting to write for some years.

I do not believe in GM foods (neither does the Soil Association), I do not believe we actually need them, what we do need however is for a world wide organisation to oversee and manage our crop growing and ensure where we have surplus that this is moved to where we have famine.

I will return to this aspect shortly.

I am 42 and although it pains me to say it, obese at 19.5 stone.

Bizarrely my diet when I really sit down and think about it is not hugely different from when I lived at home aged 17 and I was only 12 stone with a 32 inch waist back then.

Now, family and friends will jump in and shout but you eat sweets like they are going out of fashion, but I have a sweet tooth, but I have always had a sweet tooth, often when Mum used to get back from ASDA (GEM as it was back then) I would go and get the box of Rowntree Jelly and scoff it - a sugar heaven.

Anyway, I digress, mince and mash with a thick onion gravy was one of Mum's weekly dinners.  The mince would have been fried in lard and the mashed potatoes would have had butter and full fat milk added in - imagine that?

If I cook mince now, I don't add any fat whether it be lard or oil and the sheer volume of water that comes out is spectacular.

Some of this is down to the fact that so much water is injected into our meat these days so the companies get the maximum amount of money for the increased amount of "meat".

Okay, I have selected just one meal out of many but my main point within it stands.

What additives or preservatives got added back then, honestly, probably very little, if any.  Now compare that to now, the list just reads like a mini war and peace novel on the rear of the label and then there is the added water.

Bread and butter, a staple part of most people's diet.  Again, back when I was 17 a loaf of bread would go mouldy after just 2-3 days, and yet now it would last a week to 10 days.

How?  What the hell is in those additives and preservatives and what are they doing to our bodies?

I am not convinced that the additives and preservatives used in food stuff today is not adding to the obesity problem our country faces today.  Albeit just a small part, it must affect our bodies.

So, why am I against GM foods, well for exactly the same reasons, we do NOT know the effect of GM foods on humans, and no I am not convinced that testing them on animals tells us anything I'm afraid.

Why do we insist in continually messing around with nature and then wonder why we face so many problems around the world - only one thing is destroying the planet on which we live and that is man!

We can grow crops that do provide enough yield, yes I know disease is awful when it attacks crops or animals (or even humans) but there are natural ways around these problems.

Supermarkets don't help the issue either as they insist that all of their fruit and veg is category one, so no blemishes, perfect shapes and sizes and often farmers throw the remainder away - a disgrace.

When I worked for Dyson & Sons, Yorkshires finest fruit and veg chain and ran their branch in Roundhay Road, Leeds we would often sell the category two products, absolutely nothing wrong with them but Supermarkets flex their buying muscle a little too much and insist on perfection - whereas I would prefer taste.

Now, back to my first point, here in Europe we have become lazy consumers, partly down to the attitude we have developed of a disposable lifestyle, so we tend to shop daily at the local supermarkets for ease rather than planning our weekly shopping using farm shops, farmers markets and small independent specialist shops.

Our farming and production methods create surplus foods such as the European butter mountain.

So, why can we not move the surplus food to the people in developing countries who actually NEED food to live?

The answer is we could, if we wanted to, but why on earth would companies/governments do this when there is very little in it for them.

This is where Pret a Manger stand out as a leading example of breaking the mould and the rules.

Any food left over in their shops is given to the homeless people in the city where the shop is based.

Yet most hotels and food chains won't because it contravenes Health & Safety legislation, but Pret a Manger worked round that and found a conclusion rather than accepting the norm and walking away.

So governments and food producers could find a way to move food surplus around if the will was there.

My message is stop messing around food, stop food becoming just a profit margin pumping it full of water, additives and preservatives and scrap GM foods - let's get back to basics and make the food wholesome and nutritious again.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Simon Hughes MP is the new Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats

So, Simon Hughes MP has won the election to become the new Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats following Vince Cable's resignation just last month.

It's hard to get overly excited about this announcement given it has come on the same day that 20 redundancies of the Parliamentary Office of the Liberal Democrats has been announced but I wish Simon all the very best.

I was Simon's Agent and campaign manager when he became Party President back in 2004 and I know Simon will be a great Deputy Leader.

John McDonnell withdraws from Labour leadership battle

John McDonnell has withdrawn from the Labour leadership battle with a matter of hours before nominations close.

John McDonnell had just 16 nominations at the time of his withdrawl, less than half the number required to go through to be included on the ballot paper.

John McDonnell is hoping that by adding his 16 nominations to the 11 that Diane Abbott already has that she can then get the final 6 needed to go through onto the ballot paper.

Ed Balls, David Miliband and Ed Miliband all have at least the 33 nominations required and Andy Burnham is now claiming that he also has 33 nominations.

Explaining why he was pulling out of the race, John McDonnell said:
"I stood for the Labour leadership as the candidate of the Left and trade union movement so that there could be a proper debate about Labour's future in which all the wings of the party were fully represented.

"It is now clear that I am unlikely to secure enough nominations and so I am withdrawing in the hope that we can at least secure a woman on the ballot paper."
Yesterday, acting Labour leader Harriet Harman said she was nominating Diane Abbott because she did not want to see a "men-only" contest where there has been wide spread criticism within the Labour party of the similarities between the perceived three main candidates, Ed Balls, Ed Miliband and David Miliband, who are already through to the next stage of the election - because they are all Oxford-educated men in their 40s, who worked as political advisers before becoming MPs and then cabinet ministers.

Let's see if Diane Abbott pulls it off.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

David Cameron, Margaret Thatcher and Gordon Brown

Back in 2007 Gordon Brown was roundly criticised for inviting Margaret Thatcher to 10 Downing Street.

So, even though he is also a Conservative, will David Cameron receive the same criticism for inviting Margaret Thatcher to 10 Downing Street today?

Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Why Labour MP John McDonnell should not be leader of the Labour Party

Whatever you think of Margaret Thatcher and let's be honest, this is a person who generates feelings from hatred to love, wanting to go back in time to assassinate her is not something you expect of a Labour leadership contender.

John McDonnell had told the GMB union hustings event on Monday evening that he had been asked what single act he would do to improve the world if he could travel back to the 1980s.
John McDonnell replied:
"I said: 'Look, I was on the GMC that Mrs Thatcher abolished, I worked for the NUM and we had the NUM strike, I think I would assassinate Thatcher'."
This really highlights why John McDonnell will should never be leader of the Labour Party.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Jamie Stone MSP to step down at 2011 Scottish election

Jamie Stone, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, has announced that he will step down from the Scottish Parliament at the next Scottish election.
Mr Stone is stepping down 25 years of public service to pursue new avenues.

Jamie is the second Highland Liberal Democrats MSP to announce he is standing down.

John Farquar-Munro MSP is also standing down and Alan MacRae has been selected to replace John and fight the seat at next years election.
Following his announcement, Jamie Stone said:
"After serving in the Scottish Parliament for almost 12 years, and as a local councillor for 13 years before that, I have decided it is time to pursue new avenues.  I will leave my Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross seat with an increased majority at my last election and wish my successor the best of luck as they represent an area that I have come to love very deeply.

"I have found my years of public service hugely rewarding and have made friendships that I am certain will last for many years to come.  However there are some new challenges that I would like to tackle while I am in my mid fifties and fit and well.
"My support for my party remains undiminished and I will continue to be closely involved in it. Equally the commitment to the Far North remains and in future years I would very much hope to be able to help the area in every way I can.  I do not rule out political work at some stage in the future, but for now I want to take the opportunity to do something completely different.

"In standing down next May, one thing remains, and I treasure it – to have been the first Member for nearly 300 years to represent the Far North in the Scottish Parliament has been the honour of my life."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott MSP paid tribute to Jamie:

"Jamie Stone is a great friend and Parliamentary colleague. We shared a passion for Scotland's Parliament since representing our respective local authorities on the Scottish Constitutional Convention in the 1990's. Then we both hoped to be part of the start of Scotland's new Parliament. Since that fist day after election in 1999 many a moment has been enlivened by a Jamie Stone story or sharp political observation, often at the expense of his own side!

"Jamie's work ensured that Parliament was no creature of the central belt and truly reflected all of Scotland. From Wick's maternity services to the Berridale Braes and the A9, Jamie has put the people of the Far North first. I will miss his cheerfulness, candour and dedication to his constituents and wish him and Flora best wishes for their future endeavours."

Nestlé's palm oil and the devastating effect on Indonesia's rainforest

Did you know that Nestlé produce enough KitKats every five minutes to stack the Eiffel Tower?

If you like Kitkats this is an amazing picture now painted in your head.

There is however a downside.

The palm oil used in KitKats is produced by companies who are demolishing areas of the Indonesian rainforest to create palm oil plantations, so by association Nestlé is also therefore implicated in the deforestation of rainforests.

Now Nestlé have denied  this, obviously and I sincerely hope Greenpeace will keep up the pressure on Nestlé to ensure their palm oil is from sustainable sources.

Below is the response from Nestlé:
We can assure you that Nestlé UK does not buy palm oil from the Sinar Mas Group for any of our products, including Kit Kat.

We do purchase palm oil from Cargill and we have sought assurances from them about their supply chain. Cargill has informed us that Sinar Mas needs to answer Greenpeace’s allegations by the end of April. They have indicated that they will delist Sinar Mas if they do not take corrective action by then.

Nestlé recently undertook a detailed review of its supply chain to establish the source of its palm oil supplies and we have made a commitment to using only "Certified Sustainable Palm Oil" by 2015, when sufficient quantities should be available.  As an important step on that journey, a number of Nestlé markets, including Nestlé UK, have already purchased Green Palm certificates, the certificate trading programme designed to help suppliers tackle the environmental and social problems created by the production of palm oil.
Endangered species such as orang-utans are among the worst affected wildlife species in Indonesia, now there are charities and organisations working to save the orang-utan and prevent the deforestation.

Indonesia has announced that they will introduce a two-year moratorium on deforestation to help tackle climate change, the country's president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said. 

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono made the announcement in Norway on the eve of a climate conference in Oslo.

In addition to the work of Greenpeace, commitments from Nestlé and the work of charities in Indonesia this announcement is fantastic and it proves that by all of these groups working together that actually a harmonious result can be achieved.

Here is an extract from the Greenpeace Statement, to read the full statement go here:
You'll never guess what. Nestlé has only gone and agreed to our campaign demands! And you've made this possible. We really, seriously could not have done it without you. Now we need to move straight on to the next big player in the palm oil industry - banking giant HSBC. With nearly 1.5m views of our Kit Kat advert, over 200,000 emails sent, hundreds of phone calls and countless Facebook comments, you made it clear to Nestlé that it had to address the problems with the palm oil and paper products it buys. When combined with orang-utans at Nestlé HQ's in Croydon, Frankfurt, Beijing and Jakarta, and banners dropped over the AGM in Switzerland, Nestle top brass have really been under pressure.
Let us hope that Nestlé stick to their word and that Greenpeace and public opinion can change the minds of HSBC.
HSBC's policy says that it will "not provide financial services which directly support operations in wetlands on the Ramsar [Convention on Wetlands of International Importance] list". And yet we've recently published evidence to show that Sinar Mas has expanded its operations around the Danau Sentarum National Park in Kalimantan, one of the very wetlands on the Ramsar list.

HSBC bosses need to know the devastating effect their investments are having, and that they can't bank on deforestation or driving orang-utans to extinction.
Email HSBC CEO Michael Geoghegan now - you made Nestlé take action, let's make HSBC listen as well.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Finally a running blog for running

Following a challenge by text from Elspeth Finlay and Beverley Hope today I have entered a 10k run, in Edinburgh on 17th October.

Sadly, neither of the girls were actually going to do it unless I threw my hat in the ring, such is my power.

So, the gang of four - Elspeth Finlay, Beverley Hope, Fiona Lang and my good self will be hot footing around the gorgeously stunning Hopetoun House on the Cancer Research 10k run.

Starting in front of the stunning Hopetoun House the 10k route takes in the roads and paths of the picturesque venue. Utilising the beautiful grounds around the house it moves out onto the surrounding small farm roads circling the estate. Once back into the venue the route takes in much of the sloping estate grounds where you may see a deer or two on your way past the lying ruins of the historic Hopetoun Estate.

The ground underfoot is a mixture of flat road surfaces, mixed in with uneven soft ground, which take you over the hills and back into the leafy paths of Hopetoun House. This is a cross country route with a road race feeling.

I will therefore be using my running blog as a diary, or blog in the 138 days to the run on October 17th.  So watch and read about my progress over the coming four and a half months.

If you feel you can sponsor me, however small an amount, I am running for the Bobby Moore fund and I would greatly appreciate your support - you can sponsor me here.

The Bobby Moore Fund raises money for bowel cancer research in memory of Bobby Moore who died from the disease. The Fund was set up by Bobby's widow, Stephanie Moore MBE, in partnership with Cancer Research UK in 1993.

To date, the Fund has raised over £12 million pounds, which has the objective of raising money for cutting edge bowel cancer research, and raising awareness of its high risk symptoms. Thank you for helping to tackle bowel cancer.

Andrew Reeves running blog stat porn for May 2010

So, continuing my monthly stat porn figures, the monthly summary of my visitor stats according to google analytics is as below for May 2010.

The busiest day on my blog last month was in fact Monday 10th May and the story was about Jack Frew, the gay 16 year old who was tragically murdered.

Last month I had 6,069 absolute unique visitors, massively up from 3,436 last month. They made 8,749 visits and 12,488 page views.
So, my top 10 referring sites for the last month (with previous position in brackets) were;
1. Twitter (1)
2. Facebook (3)
3. Lib Dem Voice (2)
4. Lib Dem Blogs (5)
5. SNP Tactical Voting (7)
6. Blogger (6)
7. (110)
8. (11)
=9. (17)
=9. (16)

Last month I wrote 26 blog posts.

The top 10 stories by direct page views that you've read most were;

1. Jack Frew - murdered in cold blood for being gay?
2. Jack Frew RIP
3. David Laws - the sheer hypocrisy....
4. Sky News Kay Burley - reporter, presenter, journalist or bully?
5. Peter Mandelson's resignation forces Harriet Harman to reshuffle
6. Adam Boulton gets a dose of his own medicine and doesn't like it
7. Conservatives to freeze pay of public sector workers on £18,000+
8. Scottish Conservative reshuffle - hold onto the deck chairs
9. Vince Cable stands down as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats
10. Councillor Bailie Gordon Matheson is new leader of Glasgow City Council

So this month's mixed bag is about Kay Burley bullying an interviewee, Jack Frew, Vince Cable standing down as Deputy Leader, Annabel Goldie moves the deckchairs on the titanic and Peter Mandelsons resignation!

The visitors to my little blog came from 54 countries this month, up slightly from 52 last time, the top ten were as follows;

1. United Kingdom (1)
2. United States (2)
3. Netherlands (5)
4. Australia (7)
5. France (9)
6. Canada (3)
7. Ireland (4)
8. Spain (12)
9. Belgium (7)
10. Germany (6)
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