Reevesey's recommended reading

Saturday, 31 July 2010

National Orgasm Day

Now, I know this post has been awaited with anticipation today, and I hope as you have been building up to reading it that you will positively shudder with excitement once you have read it through.

Please ensure you have tissues handy, just in case.

I was made aware of National Orgasm Day by my friend Caron Lindsay, while out for dinner on Wednesday to celebrate her birthday, which is in fact today, which Caron shares with National Orgasm Day.

So, today is National Orgasm Day, now some of you might be thinking this is just a bit daft, why are we limited to just one orgasm per year?

Surely, every day is orgasm day?

Dr Petra Boynton - a sex educator, agony aunt and academic writes:


Well, National Orgasm Day isn’t really a day where everyone in the UK will suddenly combust. Somewhat predictably it’s based on a commercial event where a sex store wanted some publicity a few years back.
 
Since then it’s been hijacked by just about anyone with a sex-related product to sell. And this year is no exception with a festival of product placement and bad sex science pinned around July 31.

The Orgasm Survey http://www.orgasmsurvey.co.uk/ has been completed by nearly 5000 women who have shared their most intimate secrets and you can read the findings here.
It appears Dr Petra Boynton is spot on, National Orgasm Day has become a sales day for companies selling items to help people, mainly women achieve an orgasm.
 
So, despite the hype and potential, another one of our special days has given way to capitalism instead of sheer enjoyment.
 
Have a very happy National Orgasm Day.

Ex-Labour MPs and Tory peer lose expenses fraud appeals

The BBC report that;

Three former Labour MPs and an ex-Tory peer facing expenses fraud allegations have lost appeals over a ruling that they are not protected by parliamentary privilege from prosecution.

Elliott Morley, David Chaytor, Jim Devine and Lord Hanningfield had argued at the Court of Appeal that only Parliament could hear their case.

The four all deny charges of false accounting over their expenses.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of seven years' imprisonment.

The men had appealed against a ruling in June by Mr Justice Saunders sitting at Southwark Crown Court in central London.

The judge had rejected arguments that they were protected by parliamentary privilege and should be dealt with by Parliament alone.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting with Lord Neuberger and Sir Anthony May, agreed with the judge's ruling.

Criminal trials
Giving the Court of Appeal judgement, Lord Judge said: "The stark reality is that the defendants are alleged to have taken advantage of the allowances scheme designed to enable them to perform their important public duties as Members of Parliament to commit crimes of dishonesty to which parliamentary immunity or privilege does not, has never, and, we believe, never would attach."

The four men are all on unconditional bail and face separate criminal trials as a result of the ruling.

However, they could take their case to the Supreme Court for a further challenge.

The charges against the men followed a nine-month police investigation triggered after details of all MPs' expenses claims were leaked to a national newspaper.

Mr Morley, the former MP for Scunthorpe, Mr Chaytor, formerly MP for Bury North and ex-Livingston MP Mr Devine were barred from standing at the general election after the allegations surfaced.

Lord Hanningfield, formerly leader of Essex County Council, has been suspended by his party.

X Factor winner Joe McElderry: I'm gay

Hat tip to my friend James Harrison for tweeting this morning "OMG Joe McElderry is gay! But he just loved his mam and his music" although it took me a few minutes to recall who Joe McElderry was then it dawned on me, the lad from X Factor.

As James says OMG (Oh my god for the oldies) Joe McElderry is gay!

I hope that Joe McElderry hasn't been hounded into making this announcement that he is gay, carried in full in today's Daily Mirror as an exclusive and The Sun, also as an exclusive.

The reason I say that hounded, is because if you read the statement from Joe on his own website, the word gay is carefully avoided (personally I think this is a mistake by Joe's PR team) and the language is very particular, as if this has come out of the blue a little.
Tomorrow there will be some articles about me in the newspapers because I have been doing some important interviews today. I wanted you to know that the articles are true.
I have read both versions and just hope that Joe is happy and his family, record company and all those around him will now support him through this period of his life, coming out is one of the hardest things every gay person has to do.

X Factor winner Joe McElderry
Which is why I am also now going to praise The Sun - I know, sorry, I should have put a health warning of some kind in front of that - but they have been sensible (sorry, again unexpected) and next to the online article about Joe have put My View by their agony aunt.

I have put it in full below as there are parents and family members out there who will find these groups and this piece quite helpful, even if they don't admit that now.
My View By DEIDRE SANDERS, Sun Agony Aunt

EVEN these days coming out takes a lot of courage.
In theory gay people aren't supposed to suffer from any prejudice in this country but, as I hear from readers every week, many do.
Most young people grow up hearing anti-gay jokes among the kids at school.
And telling mum and dad can be the toughest as, for even the most loving parents, it shatters their traditional dreams for you.

Of course, gay people can lead as fulfilling lives as straight brothers and sisters - but it can take everyone involved time to see how the new life is going to work out.
Most find coming out is an amazing relief because at last they can be themselves and be loved for their true selves.
There is plenty of help. Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays gives lots of support both to those wanting to come out and to the friends and relatives (0845 652 0311, http://www.fflag.org.uk/ ).
You can download their leaflets How do I tell my parents? and A Guide for Families and Friends. And if you would like my leaflets on Gay Worries or Gay Resources write to me at problems@deardeidre.org
Anyway, back to Joe McElderry.  I hope he can now be left alone come to terms with his sexuality and build relationships with friends and family again.

His music is good, I enjoyed The Climb when he won X Factor last year and see that his new album will be out on the 25th October.  Why a gap of ten months though, I have no idea?

Unfortunately as we saw with Will Young, the media paparazzi will now seek Joe and his first boyfriend, I really hope I am wrong but while prejudice continues to create headlines and sell copies of newspapers and magazines the paparazzi will unfortunately continue to exist.

Good on you Joe McElderry for being brave and taking that big step of coming out that every gay person has to, something a lot of straight people don't understand and never will because they don't have to do it.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Punched in the face just for being gay!

Another week and another unprovoked homophobic attack.

This time in Perth, Scotland.

Apparently the 30-year-old man, who was with his partner at the time, required first aid treatment by Twa Tams bar staff after the attack where he was punched at least three times in the face by the offender in his mid-30s.

The Perthshire Advertiser reports:
Bar manager Zoe Cooper said security staff did not witness the unprovoked attack but responded quickly, escorting the assailant outside, who then left the scene before police arrived.

Staff and patrons have been interviewed by police investigating the 9pm assault, which was captured on the pub’s CCTV cameras, with footage now being scrutinised by officers.

“It was such an aggressive attack, just horrible, and over in seconds,” said Ms Cooper, who was not on duty but viewed the footage yesterday with police.
The victim, who suffered bruising and was in shock after being punched, was a regular at the pub along with his partner.

On CCTV footage, the victim is seen seated at a table in the pub chatting to friends when a shaven-headed man approaches their table.
“Apparently he started talking about football and when (the victim) said he’s not interested in football, that’s when he said, ‘are you gay?’ which is just so shocking,” said Ms Cooper.
A Tayside Police spokesman said the ugly assault was totally unprovoked, with the offender calling the victim a “f***ing poof” before punching him in the face at least three times.

“We are treating this homophobic incident very seriously and are appealing to anyone who was at the pub or who may be able to assist us in identifying this offender to contact us,” he said.

The suspect, not believed to be a regular at the Twa Tams, was described as being 6ft tall with a medium build and shaved head and at the time of the attack he was wearing a white polo shirt, cargo pants and trainers.

Let us hope that the CCTV pictures are of a good enough quality that the pictures can be used to put away this thug for this unprovoked and mindless attack.

I hope the victim and his partner are able to put this behind them and carry on without it affecting their lives too much.

And finally, if anyone has any information please call Tayside Police on 0300 111 2222, they also have a very helpful page on their website about hate crime and what you should do, visit it here.

The Poke - Daily Mail’s secret editorial formula revealed

If you have not yet seen this, it is genius.

For legal reasons he can only be named as ‘Journalist F’, but today this young member of The Daily Mail’s editorial staff is in hiding as threats and invective continue to spew from Paul Dacre’s office after their top secret editorial formula was leaked to the press.

Journalist F, rumoured to be less than five years in the job, somehow gained access to Dacre’s high-security office, known in journalistic circles as ‘Fortress Britain’, and saw the secret formula tacked to the wall. Shocked by its similarity to a public transport system so often maligned within The Daily Mail’s own pages, he rolled it up, put it under his jacket and walked out of his job into a media firestorm.
“He’ll never work in this town again,” promised Jan Moir today, “We all know who it is and even if he becomes bisexual, moves to Hackney and smokes a pipe, he won’t even be able to get a job on The Guardian. He won’t get that far down the street. We have eyes, you hear me? Eyes!”

To read the full story and see the full map in full glorious colour from The Poke.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Ed Balls MP - "I’ve never been a front runner in this campaign" and "I am behind" but in it to win

Ed Balls MP has chosen to decisively stamp out the stories of last night when it was reported he was considering quitting the Labour leadership race.


Speculation about his leadership bid came last night after he failed to win the backing of the Unite union, which gave its endorsement to Ed Miliband.
Despite admitting on his campaign blog that;
"I’ve never been a front runner in this campaign, I did not have the early organisation of some other candidates and I am behind on formal CLP and union endorsements."
Ed Balls is adamant he is carrying on to the bitter end.

"I joined this contest because I believed this was a fight worth fighting for the future of our party and our country. I still do."
So, the Labour leadership race had a little hiccup last night, there was for a brief moment a bit of excitement to perhaps engage people that weren't expecting a Miliband moment and weren't bored of what appears to be a very dull campaign.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Ed Balls MP considering quitting the Labour leadership race

The Telegraph is running a story that Ed Balls is considering quitting the Labour leadership race because Britain's biggest union, Unite has backed Ed Miliband MP.
A source at Unite, which has 950,000 members who are eligible to vote in the leadership election, said: "The discussion before the vote was very much whether it should be Ed Miliband or Ed Balls. Ed Miliband won so clearly because it was thought he was the candidate best placed to be able to defeat his brother."
Ed Balls had been hoping to win Unite's backing, especially given that his close ally is Charlie Whelan who is Unite's political director – but only secured four votes compared to Ed Miliband's twenty four.

Photo: BLOOMBERG
The decision has left Ed Balls contemplating withdrawing from the fray and backing either Ed Miliband or his brother David, the former foreign secretary, who remains the bookies' favourite.

The fight now looks to be a straight two horse race between David Miliband and his brother Ed, after Ed Miliband secured the backing of three of the four largest unions, Unite, Unison and the GMB.
Each has well over 100 nominations from constituency parties – David with 151 and Ed with 140 – well ahead of the number obtained by the three other candidates, Mr Balls, Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott.
However, a senior Labour source said: "It's hard to see where Ed Balls's campaign goes from here. He faces some tough choices in the next few days."
Ladbrokes has cut their odds on Ed Miliband winning the leadership battle from 7/4 to 6/4 after yesterday's result amid a general sense of momentum building up behind the younger sibling. While David Miliband remains the favourite, his odds were lengthened from 4/7 to 4/6.
Ed Miliband last week won the key support of ex-leader Lord Kinnock as well as the backing of Baroness (Elizabeth) Smith, widow of the late John Smith, Lord Kinnock's successor as party leader.

Nick Clegg and the illegal war in Iraq comment at PMQs

Like most people I was so chuffed that Nick Clegg took David Cameron's place for Prime Ministers Questions last week.

I also loved the complete overreaction to Nick's comments about the "illegal war in Iraq".  The media went absolutely bonkers and the Civil Servants seemed to be as crazy too.
The Civil Servants really need to start accepting that a Coalition Government is not the same old style of Government that they are used to and they need to start chilling out a little bit.

It was quite obvious to anyone outside the slightly odd world of Westminster that what I was doing was repeating something about which I have strong personal views in a way that wasn’t binding on the government as a whole.

Snooker star Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins has died

Sky News is reporting the breaking news that former world champion snooker star Alex Hurricane Higgins has died.

A sad day for the world of snooker, I was brought up on snooker, football, tennis and cricket and the hurrican Higgins was one of the key snooker stars at that time, a real character who will be sorely missed.

Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins
He was 61 and had suffered ill health for some time.
Belfast-born Higgins, who won the world title in 1972 and 1982, was suffering from throat cancer.
His biographer and friend Sean Boru told Sky News:
"Everyone knew this was coming but it is still an awful shock.
"Alex may have passed away, but he will be somewhere even now still playing snooker," he added.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Scotrail Fail

I'm off to Dunfermline Town this morning so duly checked the timetable last night.

According to Scotrail's website, the train to Dunfermline Town leaves Edinburgh Waverley at 08.47am.

On arrival at Waverley this morning I noticesd that the 08.47am does not exist and in fact it leaves 08.46am.

Now I know its only a one minute difference but its the principle.


An online timetable of a rail company should be 100% correct!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Clydesdale Bank error - you must now pay an extra £300, every month

I really feel sorry for customers of the Clydesdale Bank and it's sister Yorkshire Bank Building Society, who today if they have a tracker or variable rate mortgage have received notification that they owe the bank money.

This error by these two banks affects around 18,000 customers, two thirds of which are in Scotland.

Some customers are having to find an extra £300 every month to cover the shortfall, this is despite the mistake being that of the banks, not the customers.

Clydesdale Bank said it had now contacted 99% of those affected by the problems and insisted half of those would see their payments rise by no more than £25 a month.

In my eyes that means half of the customers will see repayments rise by between £25 and £300 per month.

Steve Reid, retail director for Clydesdale Bank spokesperson said:

"First and foremost we are very sorry that this error has happened and for any inconvenience it may have caused those customers affected

“We would like to reassure mortgage customers that they need take no action unless they have received a letter from us. The vast majority of our customers are not affected and, of those that are, 99 percent have already received their letter advising them of the specific impact on their account. The other 1 percent will hear from us in the next couple of weeks advising them of options to bring their account back on track."
A pathetic sorry is not good enough from either of these financial institutions, how have these massive errors got past their own accountants and auditors?

I have now been onto the websites of both the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks and there is not one mention of this mistake or how customers, who will be rightly worried should contact the banks to discuss this.

What I did find though was a statement by Lynne Peacock, Chief Executive Officer of Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank where there were items listed under a banner of "Key Highlights" which included;

• Underlying profit up 11% to £264 million

• Pre-tax cash earnings grew by over 17% to £81 million (from £69 million)

• At 31 March 2010, Clydesdale Bank PLC’s Tier 1 Capital Ratio was 8.8% (up from 8.2% as at September 2009)

• Strong liquidity with liquid assets of £10 billion – more than doubled in two years.

Certainly a substantial amount of money, so perhaps Lynne Peacock will put some of that aside to help customers who have just been hit with a demand from her banks for up to £300 a month because of her banks mistake.

Oh and Lynne, perhaps put a statement on both of the banks websites telling customer's how you propose to help them, a lot of people will not be able to afford this extra money and as it was your mistake, you should be showing customers how you propose to help them.

UPDATE
I realised yesterday when in Inverness that I had cocked up and said Yorkshire Building Society instead of Bank and thank you to those who commented about it, all published as well.

Nick Clegg at the Despatch Box and the first ten weeks of Lib Dems in Government

Wow, a Liberal Democrat at the Despatch Box answering Prime Ministers Questions for the first time since 1922 and it was Nick Clegg, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister doing that historic event today, and he did well, you can watch it here.


It is a great pity that the Rising of the House has been brought forward from next Thursday to Tuesday, perhaps David Cameron was nervous Nick would do well and didn't want to give him that second opportunity?

Labour have been attacking Lib Dems all day today saying that it wasn't 1922 when a Liberal last answered questions, so here is the history.

The modern type of Prime minister’s Questions only dates from 1961.  Lloyd George was the most recent Prime Minister to be a Liberal at that time (Churchill having joined the Conservatives before being PM).
 
The Coalition fell in October 1922 but the house rose in August.  On 4 August questions that had been addressed to the Prime Minister were answered by Neville Chamberlain, (presumably Lloyd George was absent).  On 3 August he answered the questions himself.
 
You can read those answers here.

 
Nick Clegg took a range of questions from MPs across the House, there were a couple of the obvious planted questions but they have always happened under all Governments and you can still spot the Labour ones.

Jack Straw was a disappointment in some respects, I thought his questions and points were quite rambling.

What Nick Clegg did manage to achieve, despite the Speaker's best attempts to thwart it, was to explain some of the Liberal Democrat achievements under the Coalition Agreement.

In just 10 weeks since the start of the Coalition Government, the Liberal Democrats have exerted a huge influence over its agenda.


Going into the election the Liberal Democrats made clear that they had four key priorities: fairer taxes; a fair start for children with extra funding for disadvantaged pupils; a comprehensive clean up of our politics, including a fairer voting system; and a green, sustainable economy.

Thanks to Lib Dem involvement, the Coalition Government will deliver on each of these.

There are also a large number of other Lib Dem policies and pledges that will now begin to make a real, positive difference to people’s lives because of our role in the Coalition Government.

These include everything from rolling back the surveillance state and giving people back their civil liberties, to prison and NHS reforms, fairer pensions, the ending of child detention and the scrapping of the third runway at Heathrow.
 
Delivering on our promises


 
Fairer taxes

 
The Liberal Democrats promised to make the tax system fairer by ensuring no one pays tax on the first £10,000 they earn and closing loopholes that allow the wealthy to pay a smaller proportion of their income in tax than people on low and middle incomes.

 
The Coalition Government has already taken a huge step towards achieving this by raising the income tax threshold by £1,000 in last month’s Budget, saving low and middle earners £200 a year, and reforming Capital Gains Tax. The income tax threshold will continue to be increased every year during this Parliament.

 
The Liberal Democrats also promised to restore the earnings link to pensions, which the Government will now do.

 
We also promised wide scale banking reform, including a banking levy to make sure that banks pay for the financial support they received from the taxpayer. The levy, which will raise £2.5bn, was announced in the Budget.

 
A fair start for children

 
The Liberal Democrats promised to introduce a Pupil Premium to target extra money at disadvantaged children. The Coalition Agreement makes clear that this will now happen.

 
We also promised greater freedoms for teachers over the curriculum, which will also be brought in as a key part of the Coalition’s education reforms.

 
Fair politics

 
The Liberal Democrats promised a comprehensive clean up of the rotten political system. This is now a key part of the Coalition’s agenda for which Nick Clegg has responsibility.

 
The plans include:
  • A referendum on the Alternative Vote to take place in May 2011
  • The right to sack MPs guilty of serious misconduct
  • Fixed term parliaments of five years
  • Reform of party funding
  • Moving towards an elected House of Lords, elected by proportional representation
  • A statutory register of lobbyists
  • A radical devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to local government and community groups
A green, sustainable economy

 
The Liberal Democrats promised a raft of policies to help the economy recover and make sure that we build a new green and sustainable economy fit for the 21st century.

 
A huge number of these policies will now become a reality, including:
  • Tough action to tackle the deficit
  • The creation of a green investment bank
  • Reform of the banking system to make sure that banks lend to viable British businesses
  • An independent commission on separating investment and retail banking
  • Measures to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses
  • Support for low carbon energy production and an increase the target for energy from renewable sources
  • Enabling the creation of a national high speed rail network
  • The creation of a smart electricity grid and the roll-out of smart meters
  • The establishment of an emissions performance standard that will prevent coal-fired power stations being built unless they are equipped with Carbon Capture and Storage Technology
  • Replacing Air Passenger Duty with a per-plane duty
  • The provision of a floor price for carbon, as well as working to persuade the EU to move towards full auctioning of ETS permits
Other Lib Dem policies that will now become a reality.

 
The Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for the restoration of freedoms and civil liberties eroded under Labour and the rolling back of the surveillance state. A huge number of Lib Dem policies will now happen, including:
  • The abolition of Identity Cards, the National Identity register, the next generation of biometric passports and the ContactPoint Database
  • The repeal of unnecessary laws
  • Further regulation of CCTV
  • The outlawing of finger-printing of children at school without permission
  • Extending the Freedom of Information Act
  • Ending child detention for immigration purposes
  • Removal of innocent people from the DNA database
There are also a host of other Lib Dem policies that will now happen under the Coalition Government. These include:
  • Fair compensation for Equitable Life victims
  • The modernisation of the Royal Mail
  • Flexible working and promotion of equal pay
  • Reform of the NHS to strengthen the voices of patients and the role of doctors
  • A commission on long-term reform of social care
  • Cutting Quangos and government bureaucracy
  • Implementing the recommendations of the Calman Commission on Scottish devolution
  • A referendum on further powers for the Welsh Assembly

Monday, 19 July 2010

Theresa May MP - please let Florence and Precious Mhango stay

Florence and Precious Mhango have already been through an awful lot, including two spells of detention.

For that reason, I think the best solution to their situation would be for the Home Secretary, Theresa May MP to use her discretion to grant them leave to remain outside the Immigration Rules.

She could do this very quickly so that Florence and Precious can have peace of mind and security for the first time in a long time. The more public support we can generate for them today, the better.

So, using the five points below why not drop Theresa May MP at the Home Office an email explaining why you think Florence and Precious Mhango should stay.

David Cameron's talking about community activism and people having more say about what happens in their area. It's clear that Florence and Precious' community wants them to stay - so why not let them?



  • If they are returned to Malawi, they will most likely be separated and 10 year old Precious will not be allowed to see her mother again.
  • Precious is settled at school in Glasgow and is doing well there. She and her mother have long standing friends here and are part of the community where they live.
  • Precious only speaks English and faces being separated from her mother and handed over to people she can't communicate with if deported.
  • Precious has lived in this country since she was 3 years old. She has no memory of Malawi. She is safe and doing well where she is in Glasgow. If she is deported, her welfare will be severely compromised.
  • People are worried about creating precedents in these situations - there can't be many people in this country in the same circumstances with such strong support from their communities behind them. This is an exceptional case.
There is a great argument put forward by J Arthur MacNumpty, please take a few minutes out to read his blog post on this issue, my friend Caron who has been blogging (rightly so) on this issue from the beginning has another take on it here at Lib Dem Voice.
I hope the weather held off for the vigil held in Glasgow tonight.

Honey bee larva disease American Foulbrood found in West Lothian

As many people will know, this is an issue close to my heart, saving the bees is important for so many reasons including supporting the food chain, so seeing this story on the BBC website and The Scotsman just reinforces why our bees should be protected.

I have blogged before about bees - The Queen has a vigorous sex life and The plight of the honeybee.

An outbreak of American Foulbrood, which kills off honey bee larva, has been discovered in West Lothian.
The disease was found at an apiary by a Scottish government bee inspector.

A 5km infected area has been declared around the apiary, which is located between Linlithgow and Kirkliston. Inspections will be carried out on other apiaries in the area.

The movement of bees and related equipment is prohibited, except under licence from the Scottish government.


There were outbreaks of American Foulbrood (AFB) and European Foulbrood (EFB) in Scotland in 2009.

In February this year an AFB outbreak was found in a hive in the Stranraer area.

The latest infected area extends from the Forth in the north to Uphall and Broxburn in the south, and from Linlithgow in the west to between Winchburgh and Kirkliston in the east.

A spokesman for the Scottish government said: "Hives with American Foulbrood (AFB) must be destroyed as there is no known treatment. There are no risks to public health from AFB and no implications for the quality and safety of honey.

"AFB is highly contagious and difficult to eradicate."

Beekeepers are urged to check their hives and notify any suspicion of disease to BeesMailbox@scotland.gsi.gov.uk.

In June experts said three of the UK's 25 bumblebee species had gone extinct, while half had suffered declines of up to 70%.

Last month Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead announced a 10-year strategy to help protect honey bees, after the population dropped by a third in the winter of 2008-09.

Phil McAnespie, vice-president of the Scottish Beekeepers' Association, said: "This AFB outbreak will be very concerning to small businesses in Scotland which produce honey, and also to individuals who keep bees. It is like a form of 'foot and mouth' for bees.

"Their hives will have to be destroyed, and restocking and rebuilding a business takes time and money."
Mr McAnespie said before last year's outbreak of AFB and EFB, the disease had been seen by many in Scotland as mainly affecting hives in England.

"In England, there were inspectors on the ground all the time and AFB and EFB were found sporadically every year. The inspectors we had in Scotland were there in name only and were employed in other animal husbandry such as cattle, so the disease was not being picked up here," Mr McAnespie said.

"Since last year's outbreaks, the Scottish Government have identified the situation and the inspectors have had a steep learning curve."

It is estimated insect pollinators contribute £440 million to the UK economy through their role in fertilising crops.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Tarzan Boy by Baltimora

This is the type of music I spent my youth listening to and when I was a DJ for a time spinning the discs.

Conservative Peer Lord Taylor of Warwick is to be prosecuted over his expenses

Conservative peer, Lord Taylor is now the sixth politician to face criminal charges after police investigations into MPs' and peers' expenses.

Lord Taylor will appear in front of Magistrates on August 13th accused of six charges of false accounting.

From yesterday's Independent;
He is alleged to have claimed over £11,000 in expenses by pretending that his home was outside London when he was actually living in the capital.
Lord Taylor is now the sixth politician to face criminal charges over police investigations into MPs' and peers' expenses.


Three former Labour MPs – Elliott Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine – who all stood down at the recent general election, a current sitting Labour MP Eric Illsley, and a second Conservative peer, Lord Hanningfield, have also been charged.

"Having thoroughly reviewed the eighth file of evidence we have received from the Metropolitan Police in relation to parliamentary expenses, we concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to bring criminal charges against Lord Taylor," said the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, yesterday.
So, although five have faced charges and one is about to, two haven't as Keir Starmer states they have reviewed eight files of evidence.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Police probe David Mundell election expenses complaint

The BBC report:
Police have confirmed they are investigating a complaint of an alleged breach of election expenses rules by Scotland's only Tory MP.

It follows newspaper reports that a bill for £700 had been omitted from David Mundell's campaign costs.

Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary said it had been asked to investigate.

Mr Mundell said a mistake had been made in completing expense forms but this was due "solely to human error" and was "not any attempt to mislead".

"Such mistakes are not uncommon in election returns and there are established procedures for dealing with them," he said.

"Obviously, as soon as it was drawn to my attention, I informed the Electoral Commission who have an interest in such matters."
Human error and an extremely fast response from David, including reporting himself to the Electoral Commission.

Complaint over Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith's election expenses

A Channel 4 News investigation has raised questions over the election expenses of Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith in the Richmond Park constituency that he gained from Susan Kramer and the Liberal Democrats in this year's general election.

The report was on Channel 4 at 7.30 p.m.

Take That produce new album with Robbie Williams

Oh my bloody god, Take That are back together with Robbie and have already recorded a new album.

According to Robbie Williams, who left 15 years ago in 1995, before the band then split up (on my birthday) a year later has said he was "embarrassingly excited" and reuniting felt like "coming home" while Mark Owen added that it "feels like a dream".


Mark Owen added: "Getting the five of us to be in a room together, although always a dream, never actually seemed like becoming a reality.


"Now the reality of the five of us making a record together feels like a dream. It's been an absolute delight spending time with Rob again. But I'm still a better footballer."

Jason Orange said it was "absolutely brilliant," adding, "I'm over the moon that Robbie's back with us, however long it lasts. I just want to enjoy our time with him. Life is beautifully strange sometimes."

The amazing reunion took place in New York last September, following Take That's The Circus Live tour.

The new album will be released in November and includes songs written by all five members.

I am soooooo excited.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Buckfast ice cream for dessert?

Great story in the Edinburgh Evening News today about the Buckfast ripple ice cream available at the Englishman Scotsman and Irishman restaurant in Queen Charlotte Street.
IT'S been blamed for boozy violence and derided as the drunkard's favourite.
Now Buckfast is top of the menu for diners in Leith, where a restaurant is using the fortified tonic wine in its new range of summer ice creams.

Englishman, Scotsman and an Irishman, or E:S:I, is serving up Buckfast ripple ice cream to its lunchtime customers - and despite the drink's reputation, it's going down a storm with discerning diners.
You can even vote on it here.

BAA as bad as the cheap airlines

So, BAA now want to charge people £1 when you drop people off for their flights at both Belfast and Edinburgh Airports.

This really is a move too far but you can see as airlines and airports alike aren't making as much money as before so they are investigating new ways of taxing their customers.

Whether it is increasing the luggage trolley fee from £1 to £2 as they have at Luton, or increased charges for putting baggage on a plane or now charging for dropping passengers off they are keen to tax, tax, tax.

There does come a point where people will start to think is this really worth it, airlines are constantly looking at ways to disguise the real cost of a ticket and now airports want to charge for someone just to drop you off.

A bus or taxi isn't always practical, nor affordable so sometimes relying on a family member or a friend to take you to the airport to drop you off is the only option, why should that be subject to a tax from BAA?

Belfast, Edinburgh and then where, Aberdeen and Glasgow?

Monday, 12 July 2010

Mike Russell MSP, the man who wanted to sell Argyll & Bute's forests now wants to be their SNP candidate for the Holyrood election

So with the news that Jim Mather MSP is standing down at the next Scottish election the SNP in Argyll & Bute are now looking to select their next candidate.

Mike Russell MSP has announced via Argyll News that he would like to offer himself as the SNP candidate in fact they go on to also explain that to be the MSP for Argyll & Bute you really need to be a Minister in the Holyrood Government to be the MSP for Argyll & Bute.

Given they have had George Lyon (LibDem) representing them for eight years and Jim Mathers (SNP) for three years, both who have been Ministers in different Scottish governments, as their local MSP you can understand why

Argyll News goes on to provide a good argument on why therefore Mike Russell MSP would be a good choice to represent the people of Argyll & Bute in Holyrood.

I am now going to put forward a reasoned argument on why choosing the Liberal Democrat candidate on Thursday May 5th would be a much better idea.

I can't tell you at this stage who the candidate will be as we are currently in the final stages of that process and our members in Argyll & Bute won't make their final decision until the end of next week.

But I can tell you why Mike Russell MSP shouldn't be the MSP for Argyll & Bute after polling day.

Back in February last year the SNP government had a crazy idea that they were going to sell off 25% of the forests in Scotland, including Argyll & Bute where over 400 people are employed within the forestry industry.  The Scottish Liberal Democrats led by environment spokesman Jim Hume MSP mounted a campaign collecting over 30,000 signatures across Scotland to stop the SNP plans in their tracks.

Alan Reid MP and George Lyon MEP who ran the campaign to stop the sell off in Argyll & Bute held a public meeting in Lochgilphead chaired by Robert Beaney of the Forestry Commission Trade Unions where over 240 local residents squeezed in to hear about the plans proposed by the SNP.


The two politicians spent time meeting community groups and forest contractors who raised their deep concerns about the impact that the privatisation plans will have on local jobs and local community projects which use Forestry Commission land.  Many of them such as the Kintyre Way, the Dalriada Project, the Loch Awe Improvement Association and the Mid Argyll Cycle Club could be threatened if the Forestry Commission land is handed over to the private sector.

Who was the SNPs Environment Minister who was proposing these plans to sell off 25% of Scotland's forests?

Mike Russell MSP.

This man was then sacked by Alex Salmond because of the huge public outcry.

Mike Russell is dangerous, his plans could have seen thousands of acres of Scottish forests sold to developers.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats campaign was mounted against the SNP’s attempts to effectively sell off publicly owned Forestry Commission forests to private timberland investment companies. The proposal was hidden deep within the Climate Change Bill and would have seen the most commercially viable forests being leased to private investment companies for up to 75 years.

Unsurprisingly when this privatisation by the back door approach was debated the SNP were backed by the Tories, the SNP’s unlikely but ever loyal bedfellows in Holyrood.


The 25% of forests targeted for this leasing option was the most commercially viable proportion of Scotland’s forestry estate and equated to about 40% of production for the Forestry Commission. Removing this from public ownership would have significantly diminished essential Forestry Commission income for investment in maintaining Scottish forests and projects including the 7stanes network and for creating new leisure access initiatives such as mountain biking, walking, orienteering and other community woodland initiatives elsewhere. A further worry was that Forestry Commission jobs were undoubtedly under threat, and local timber companies dependent upon cutting rights granted to them by the Forestry Commission faced an uncertain future if those cutting rights had been taken away or if wood prices were set higher than is affordable for local companies.

The campaign to stop the sell off was a success, but we must remain vigilant to ensure the SNP don't try to sneak it through another time in another Bill.

So, when it comes to voting for your next MSP in Argyll & Bute on Thursday May 5th, when you think of voting SNP think of Mike Russell's plans to sell off 25% of the forests in Scotland, which would have included all of the forests in Argyll & Bute.

A scary thought indeed and that is why Mike Russell should not be the SNP candidate in Argyll & Bute and never the MSP.

Catholic Bishop Joseph Devine, Bishop of Motherwell gets his knickers in a twist

I am not a religious person and therefore do not always appreciate the priorities set by those who are but I do think that the Bishop of Motherwell's congregation members aren't worrying about what he is worrying about and that perhaps he is getting his proverbial knickers in a twist over nothing.

Over on the BBC News website the story is reported this morning;
A Scottish bishop has criticised Prime Minister David Cameron for failing to act quickly to scrap the law preventing Catholics from taking the throne.
Really?  Is this what the Catholic people in Motherwell are really concerned about?

Perhaps I should point him to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's new website looking for laws to be repealed?

Joseph Devine, the Bishop of Motherwell, has apparently said the Act of Settlement was a "scandalous" law that discriminated against members of his faith.

The Act of Settlement was passed by the English parliament in 1701 and extended to Scotland after the union.
It only applies in countries where the Queen is head of state.

The attack from the Bishop of Motherwell follows comments from UK Constitutional Reform Minister Mark Harper MP that the coalition had not ruled out reform, but that any change would have to be taken "carefully and thoughtfully".

The Bishop of Motherwell said;
"When the monarch is free to marry a Scientologist, Muslim, Buddhist, Moonie or even a Satanist but not a Catholic, then there's something seriously wrong."
Now, don't get me wrong, this is clearly something that should be sorted out in this day and age.  However, is it really that important at the current time given the economical mess we find ourselves in after thirteen years of the Labour Party spending money as if it was going out of fashion or just grew on trees?

I suspect good Catholics in Motherwell are worrying about their jobs and their future rather than being up in arms about who the Monarch can marry.

Just saying.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Conservative MP Mark Reckless too drunk to vote in Budget debate

So, less than two months into the new job and the Conservative MP for Rochester & Strood in Kent, Mark Reckless has a reputation for being reckless by name and reckless by nature in the recent Budget debate.

The recent Budget debate, that went on to the early hours of the morning was followed by a vote at around 2.00am in the morning.

However, Mark Reckless MP did not participate in the vote because of his drunken state.

The Daily Mail reports:
Mr Reckless claimed he decided not to take part in the 2.07am vote because of his drunken state.  ‘I thought it would be inappropriate in the circumstances,’ he said.

However, other Tories dispute this version of events and say he was asleep on the terrace during the vote and received an official warning from his party the following day for ignoring the whip.

‘He didn’t decide not to vote - he missed it because he was asleep,’ said one.  ‘It was bad enough him being drunk, but missing the vote was worse in the eyes of the whips. He got a severe rollicking the next morning.’



Obviously Mark Reckless MP was not the only one engaged in drinking.

Mr Reckless, the MP for Roch­ester, Kent, was among the most enthusiastic revellers. At one point, he fell on the floor and had to be helped to his feet.
Later, he struggled to open a bar door, repeatedly slamming it on his toe, apparently unaware his foot was in the way.
Although Mark Reckless MP wasn't happy to accept he was at fault in fact he went on to blame the Whips not his own inability to say no to more alcholic drink, or perhaps being slightly more grown up and sticking to soft drinks, tea or coffee or even staying in his office and doing some work?
Mr Reckless, 39, said the Tories’ decision to issue a strict three-line whip on the late-night debate - which meant all Conservative MPs had to stay to the end to vote - was partly to blame. ‘It was a bit like a lock-in,’ he said.
I find this statement by Mark Reckless MP at best merely childish and at worst pathetic from someone who is now a Member of Parliament.

If Mark Reckless cannot control his own actions and drink in moderation when it comes to staying late for the votes that go on into the dead of night then I suggest next time he excuses himself.

The Budget was an important aspect of the Coalition Government's strategy to tackle the enormous debt mountain left behind by the Labour Party, therefore all MPs should have taken this seriously and getting drunk in the bar is not the example we expect.

At least Mark Reckless MP does not intend to claim the £130 taxi fare back on his expenses - one sensible decision he has made!

He was not the only MP whose conduct came under scrutiny on that Tuesday evening, fellow Conservative MP Sheryll Murray also had a little memory loss.

South East Cornwall MP Sheryll Murray, who had also been drinking on the terrace, was reportedly involved in an exchange with a Commons doorkeeper who asked if she needed help when encountering her in a corridor.
'I’d had a couple of glasses of wine on the terrace but I wasn’t rude to anybody. If I had been rude I would apologise.

'Somebody did say, “Are you all right?” But I don’t remember being under the influence of alcohol.

‘There is a lesson to be learned from this: You don’t drink at all on the terrace.’

The following day, a Conser­vative official apologised to the doorkeeper.
What this shows is that perhaps the bars in the House of Commons should close at 11pm and that on the few opportunities the House sits late for debates with votes MPs should not engage in late night drinking!

MPs cannot go on about loutish behaviour in our town centres each weekend when they can clearly not behave sensibly themselves and drink in moderation on an odd late night when they should be working.

SNP government scrap energy saving home grants

I remember when the SNP announced they were scrapping the first time home buyers grant of £2,000 thinking on the scale of their spending commitments this was short sighted if they were genuinely trying to get more homes built and people to live in them.

Now we see they are scrapping energy saving home grants.

How does this tie in with their climate change targets and strategy?

Home energy use accounts for over a third of Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions and improving efficiency is considered to be one of the cheapest and quickest ways to meet climate change targets.

The energy saving grant provides residents with up to £4,000 towards the cost of installing solar panels and other renewable energy devices in their home.

Almost 3,000 households have taken up grants of varying amounts since 2007, giving residents the chance to cut their fuel bills and help the environment at the same time.
 
The grants provided up to 30 per cent of the cost of installing a home renewable heating system, up to £4,000. Renewable energy devices that the grants could be used for include ground source heat pumps, wood fuel stoves and solar thermal water heating.

However, it appears the SNP government have not been so good in letting everyone know as reported in today's Scotland on Sunday;

John Conway, operations director at Renfrewshire company Solar Panel Scotland, said:
"We had no knowledge, despite being the major provider of solar panels in the Scottish domestic market, that the scheme was to be shelved.

"It's very disappointing because it has been an important and successful method of promoting renewable energy to people across Scotland."
Let us hope the SNP government assess the impact that removing the grant will have on their climate change targets and the level of greenhouse gas emissions that will now increase.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Conservative MSP John Lamont drops his support for Borders railway

The Borders railway, or Waverley line as it has become known was closed on Monday 6 January 1969 as part of the Beeching Axe. The last passenger service on the line (and the last train to traverse the entire route) was 1M82 21.56 Edinburgh - St. Pancras sleeper, on Sunday 5 January 1969 hauled by Class 45 D60 "Lytham St Annes".


The picture shows the Borders railway line being dismantled in 1969.

Ever since then, and before, there have been campaigns to reopen the Waverley line.

Recently those campaigns have finally been successful and now become a reality.

The current Campaign for Borders Rail website states:
At an historic debate in June 2006, the Scottish Parliament then approved the Waverley Railway (Scotland) Act, including Borders stations at Stow as well as Galashiels and Tweedbank – a key campaign success for CBR and the people of Stow.
So on 3rd March 2010, another historic event in the return of the Borders railway, the turf-cutting ceremony near Galashiels by Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson triggering the activation of the 2006 Act – a process that could only be halted by further legislative procedure in the Scottish Parliament.

All local politicians have been supportive of the reopening of the Waverley line, that is until yesterday when the Conservative MSP, John Lamont publicly performed a spectacular u-turn.
However just over a month ago when John Lamont MSP wanted to be elected to the Westminster Parliament for Galashiels he was in favour of the Railway and now he has flipped his position.

Surely he must recognise the impact a railway would have on the economical growth for the Borders? 

As Lib Dem Jeremy Purvis MSP said:
"Given the economic fragility of the region, the case is stronger than ever for the region to be connected by rail to the centre of Edinburgh and Glasgow."
John Lamont also plainly doesn’t understand that the project will be paid for by the Scottish Government through annual revenue repayments, not the whole capital cost up front.

Through their taxes Borderers have been subsidising the rail network for a generation in Scotland and for our future economic growth the central Borders needs to be connected to the network.

On the BBC News website, John Lamont says;
A recent survey on the Borders railway had shown people wanted better public transport but there was "frustration" the line would not extend to Hawick or link with the West Coast main line.
"Many people remain unconvinced that the new railway to Galashiels will make much difference to most communities in the Borders particularly since it will not go to Hawick and on to Carlisle," he said.
This recent survey John Lamont quotes from must be the one that he spent thousands of pounds of tax payers money on over a year ago and which John Lamont has never released the results.  Of course people in Hawick are not going to be as happy as those in Galashiels, but one step at a time and also it is about the economical growth for the towns across the Borders.

Jeremy Purvis MSP said:
“Mr Lamont says that because some of his constituents won’t use the line then it’s a waste of money. Doesn’t he get the fact that the Borders benefits when the whole region comes together to support priorities. If he uses his stupid rationale then no more money should be spent on the Reston Station issue as constituents of mine in Tweeddale won’t use it. But I support that and other issues across the parts of the Borders not in my constituency. He is driving a wedge in the region and he should be ashamed for doing so.

“I have this week written to the Transport Minister asking him to bring forward the financial close of the project from next autumn to next spring before the Scottish Parliament elections. They are doing this for the Forth replacement crossing so they should do it for the Waverley Line.”
Anyway back to the most expensive MSP, John Lamont, who for the financial year 2008/09 spent £26,952 on postage and office supplies.

John Lamont MSP had surveyed, wrote, wrote again and did yet more surveys about the Borders railway - but - where are the results Mr Lamont?  Finally you refer to this survey, but you have never released the results from this done in 2008/09 and now drip feeding very carefully worded statements about it show your constituents anything.
It appeared when John Lamont challenged Michael Moore MP for the Westminster seat that he was bored in Holyrood, this dramatic u-turn on the benefits of a railway for the Borders just highlights his boredom and lack of enthusiasm for standing up for the Borderers - perhaps he is not going to stand next year?

However, the campaign for a Borders railway must not be derailed by the lone voice of John Lamont MSP.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Derek Brownlee MSP fails to become Conservative candidate for Dumfries

The Conservative MSP for the South of Scotland, Derek Brownlee had recently thrown his hat in the ring to become the Conservative Party candidate for the Holyrood seat of Dumfries, currently held by Elaine Murray MSP of the Labour Party.

This seat at the next election will be a top target for the Conservatives so selecting the right candidate is key.

Unfortunately news reaches my little blog that last Monday the count took place to select the next Conservative candidate for the 2011 election, but Derek Brownlee didn't win.

Although Derek Brownlee was not the local party's first choice, he lost out by just one vote it appears to local Councillor Gillian Dykes.

This must have been a major blow for Derek Brownlee, but at least he can continue as the South of Scotland MSP for the Conservatives.

Will the Conservatives put pressure on Councillor Dykes to move aside or will they just accept the decision and move on?

Derek Brownlee isn't the only person unhappy with the selection of Gillian Dykes, her fellow ward Councillor, Labour Councillor Dempster said the party must be “desperate when they select someone directly responsible for cutting teachers and public transport”.

From today's Dumfries & Galloway Standard;
In a statement sent out by the Labour Party, Mr Dempster said: “Only last week she tried and failed to cut even more. This ‘Cuts Councillor’ has launched the largest assault on education our region has ever seen but wants to cut even deeper.

“She is part of the administration that wanted to close ARCs and had to be shamed into dropping the proposal by the scale of outrage they caused.

“She introduced a hurtful disabled tax that is now being investigated by the Equalities Commission for breaking the law.”

The rant continued: “I am shocked that someone who has been so focused on attacking the vulnerable and elderly thinks they could represent us in Parliament.

“People in Nithsdale don’t want an MSP whose priority is to sack teachers, cut classroom assistants and increase charges for our pensioners.”
 So, it's gloves off in Dumfries, or Dumfriesshire as the seat will be known at the election on 5th May 2011.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Labour MSP Rhona Brankin to quit Holyrood at next election

Rhona Brankin MSP has served as a Labour MSP for 11 years now and at the tender age of 60 has decided enough is enough and she plans to hang up her jacket and retire from Holyrood, although she doesn't seem to rule out other roles in public life.

Rhona Brankin, said:
"After 30 years of being active in the Labour Party, I feel the time has come to step aside from frontline politics."
The former Labour Scottish Executive minister said she wanted to spend more time with her family and take up other roles in public life.



Rhona served as deputy minister for culture and sport, deputy minister for environment and rural development in the early years of the Scottish Executive.
She then went on to be deputy minister for health & community care and minister for communities.

Rhona Brankin is a former chair of the Scottish Labour party and was a member of the Constitutional Convention that drew up the blueprint for the Scottish Parliament.

She recently took over as convener of Holyrood's Public Petitions Committee when her Labour colleague Frank McAveety MSP stepped down after making inappropriate comments when the microphone was still on about a female in the public benches during a debate in Holyrood.

Rhona Brankin's current Midlothian seat will disappear at the election in May next year, with a new Midlothian North and Musselburgh constituency emerging after boundary changes.

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen in mental health joke gaffe

The Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, Andrew Bridgen strayed into the area of mental health in a debate in the House of Commons, unfortunately for him he tried to make a joke of it, never a good idea.
Andrew Bridgen MP: "As for those suffering from mental health problems, especially selective amnesia, I can see plenty in this Chamber."
Neither did he then go on to apologise, another mistake.


Mental health is a serious issue in this country and making light of it by politicians, who should know better, is not helpful.

It is this petty playground throwaway comments that stop mental health being treated as a serious illness.

Mental health is everyone’s business. We all have times when we feel down or stressed or frightened. Most of the time those feelings pass. But sometimes they develop into a more serious problem and that could happen to any one of us, including Andrew Bridgen MP.

You may bounce back from a setback while someone else may feel weighed down by it for a long time.

There’s a stigma attached to mental health problems. This means that people feel uncomfortable about them and don’t talk about them much. Many people don’t even feel comfortable talking about their feelings. But it’s healthy to know and say how you’re feeling.

Hopefully Andrew Bridgen will apologise for his childish comment.

Forestry Commission Scotland needs volunteers this weekend in Stranraer

The Stranraer community and anyone else prepared to travel is being invited to help plant some of the 100,000 trees that will create the town’s own community woodland.

To get more local people actively involved in creating a community woodland, a special volunteer planting day is being held on Saturday 10th July 12 – 3pm at Gallowhill Farm – everyone is welcome.

Last year, Forestry Commission Scotland bought the land directly above King George Park, with a view of turning part of it into a thriving new woodland for local people to enjoy.

Stan Corcoran from Forestry Commission Scotland said:
“This should be a fun day and one that everyone can get join in with. We have so many plans to make this woodland a fantastic place for local people and visitors and it would be great if we can get a helping hand to plant all these trees.

” Everyone, no matter the age, can take part and plant for generations to come. You don’t need any experience, just lots of enthusiasm”.
Plans for the new woodland at Gallowhill already include a path network to boost opportunities for walking, a new car park with disabled access and a community pond surrounded by shrubs and fruit trees.

The local community has been involved in the design and development of the woodland through drop-in meetings run by the Commission. Now, a newly formed project group has been established to help take forward the development of the woodland for the benefit of the community.

Future plans for the Gallowhill Community Woodland Project also include sourcing funding for bat, bird and mammal boxes and stone features. The Commission is also working with the project group to possibly buy the former farm buildings at Gallowhill farm to redevelop them for community use.

For more information about the tree planting day, please contact Stan Corcoran or Lyndy Renwick at Forestry Commission Scotland on 01671 402 420.

My memories of the day London was attacked - 7/7 2005

My day was a weird one on the 7th July 2005, to be fair given the Olympics announcement it was a weird week.
I was now Head of Office and Constituency Organiser to Lynne Featherstone MP and Haringey Liberal Democrats.

Lynne and I had had a good day on the 6th July when the Olympics result was announced - in fact we had been stood in the corridor behind the Speakers Chair when the announcement took place, a rare occasion that cheering happened in the Chamber!

Anyhow, back to 7/7. I'd come into our Norman Shaw office early to deal with casework, parliamentary questions and the like but was due to take my laptop over to Southwark (previous job) so Matt could take EARS off my laptop.

I'd gone from Westminster to London Bridge on the Jubilee line and was halfway up the escalator when they just stopped (afterwards we realised it happened at the moment the first bomb went off). 3 tube staff ran, no, sprinted down past startled passengers.

I continued up and out to Matt, the staff at the top were saying there had been a power surge, so people were just carrying on as if nothing had happened.

After seeing Matt, handing over the laptop and having a quick catch up I headed back into London Bridge but given the fact that the Underground staff were no longer allowing people down onto the platforms and the sheer density of the crowds I headed up to the overground train station and onto a train to Charing Cross.

Still the power surge was to blame.

From Charing Cross I sauntered up Whitehall, still completely oblivious to what had happened although by now there was the sound of sirens wailing across London.

It was only when I got back to our office in Norman Shaw that I realised there had been no power surge but in fact a series of bombs had gone off bringing parts of London to a standstill, but worse, that people had been killed and even more injured.

The eerie sound of sirens then sounded for the remainder of the day, no work was done, everyone in the House of Commons was just sat or standing in silence watching tv monitors in offices and corridors.

Lynne had driven in with one of her daughters that day and all the MPs were trying their best to act normal and strong in light of this terror attacks.  This was made harder because we knew that constituents would have been affected.

As the hours and days passed afterwards this became very apparent and Lynne and everyone in the office put that bit extra effort into those cases I can tell you.

It was a day I will always remember and will never forget those who died or who were injured nor the people from the emergency services who were heroes.

Thank you to the policemen, policewomen, firemen, firewomen, doctors, nurses and paramedics who worked that day including two friends and colleagues - Richard Porter and Brian Paddick - we owe you all so much.

These are my memories of the day London stood still, you can read in The Independent the memories of a series of other people caught up in the day.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Is Alyn Smith fed up being an MEP?


It appears that just a year into the new term of the European Parliament, the SNP's Alyn Smith MEP is already bored and getting itchy feet.

News filters though to me from Strasbourg that Alyn Smith MEP will be seeking the nomination to stand as an MSP in next years Holyrood elections.

Not a great shock although this is yet another SNP politician who clearly doesn't get the whole issue of dual mandates and why they are a bad thing.

However, Alyn is possibly looking to stand for the SNP in East Lothian against Labour's leader Iain Gray.

For now Alyn is "playing it by ear".

Monday, 5 July 2010

Gay couple in homophobic attack by 15-strong mob in Bradford

Unfortunately while thousands of people in the LGBT community were enjoying Pride in London this weekend, another nasty homophobic attack was taking place.

Two gay men, aged 21 and 37, were walking along Heap lane towards Bradford city centre at around 7.30pm when the mob of 15 men and women began verbally abusing them.


DI Ian Bryar of Bradford South police said the couple were "very shocked and upset " and confirmed the incident was being treated as homophobic.

He said: "This was an unprovoked attack on two men walking towards the City centre. Because of the language used by the group towards the victims I believe that this attack was based on the men's sexuality and is therefore being treated as a homophobic hate crime.
Police say the gang grabbed items from a nearby skip to fashion makeshift weapons and attacked them following the verbal abuse.

Both men were treated for head injuries that required hospital treatment but were described as not serious.

You can only describe these 15 people as cowards, the fact they needed to create a gang of 15 to attack 2 people is nothing short of cowardly.  I hope that if the attackers families or friends know or suspect it may be them they will go to the police.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Bradford South police on 0845 6060606 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

I wish the two guys in Bradford all the very best and a speedy recovery.

Total Politics Best Blog Poll 2010: vote now!

It's that time of year again, when Total Politics asks you to vote for your Top 10 favourite blogs. This is the fifth year of the poll. The votes will be compiled and included in the forthcoming book, the Total Politics Guide to Blogging 2010-11, which will be published in September. For the second year running, the poll is being promoted/sponsored by LabourList, LibDemVoice and Iain Dale's Diary.

The rules are simple.

1. You must vote for your ten favourite blogs and ranks them from 1 (your favourite) to 10 (your tenth favourite).

2. Your votes must be ranked from 1 to 10. Any votes which do not have rankings will not be counted.

3. You MUST include at least FIVE blogs in your list, but please list ten if you can. If you include fewer than five, your vote will not count.

4. Email your vote to toptenblogs@totalpolitics.com

5. Only vote once.

6. Only blogs based in the UK, run by UK residents or based on UK politics are eligible. No blog will be excluded from voting.

7. Anonymous votes left in the comments will not count. You must give a name

8. All votes must be received by midnight on 31 July 2010. Any votes received after that date will not count.

Now, I would be honoured if you chose to nominate my little blog as you did last year.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Government Ministers resign over taxpayer funded travel

Ten out of ten to President Sarkozy for clamping down on lavish spending by his Ministers as the public face cuts in the public sector.
Two French ministers have resigned after rows over spending thousands of euros of taxpayers' money on a private jet and cigars at a time when budget cuts are hitting the public.
Development Minister Alain Joyandet and Christian Blanc, a junior minister tasked with overseeing development have both resigned.


Alain Joyandet caused outrage after spending £96,000 on a private jet to take him to Martinique for a conference.

Christian Blanc came under fire last month after it emerged he spent £9,759 of taxpayers' money on Havana cigars. He was ordered to pay the money back.

Read the full story in the Daily Telegraph.

The irony of Union leaders calling for strike action

Earlier in the week the Taxpayer's Alliance released the salaries of 38 Union leaders accusing them of hypocrisy when shouting out about public sector cuts and the unions retaliated saying the Taxpayers' Alliance was "a secretive, self-appointed, right-wing front" that stood up for the rich.

The RMT in their typical tradition just launched a personal scathing attack on the Taxpayer's Alliance.
A spokesman for the RMT said the Taxpayers' Alliance should publish its own accounts.

"Their chief officer, who has launched this laughable attack on the trade union movement, has never been elected by anyone in his life," he said.

"They wouldn't understand the concept of internal democracy if it bit them on the backside.

"The Taxpayers' Alliance is nothing more than a secretive, self-appointed, right-wing front and why anyone takes them seriously is a total mystery."
Ignoring the RMT attack, looking at a slightly different angle which is an argument I have had for years, it isn't the level of their salaries I am angry with, it is the fact that if one of their members is on strike, they don't get paid. 

However, the Union leader still claims their salary and this has been going on for years and years, it is in fact why I stood down as a NALGO shop steward as I was at the tender age of 17 and 18.

Ironic or hypocritical?

Why do they not lead by example and perhaps when their members are on strike they donate their day's wages to a charity?

Perhaps then no-one would begrudge the Union Leaders their large salaries.

Oh, Mr Crow if you stopped threatening strikes every five minutes for no real reason then the general public may not treat you with such contempt, just saying.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Lothian Buses must take responsibility for their own actions

Wow, god I'm angry.

I'm interviewing in Edinburgh West today for a new member of staff, had caught the number 10 in time from home but little did I know the horrors that were awaiting me in town.

We came through St. Andrew's Square but instead of turning right into Princes Street we turned left because the driver had forgotten that Princes Street was shut so buses were diverted down George Street.

We did a big loop and then turned right into George Street, so off I got.

I spotted two "supervisors" and asked where I could catch the 26 from and why hadn't the diversions been advertised more widely?

One supervisor, the pleasant and professional one said "it had been advertised in the Edinburgh Evening News".

I then asked why the bus stops hadn't been marked yesterday morning (none of the ones I had used had been) and the second supervisor said "its all TIEs fault, they are cleaning the tracks".

I replied that its easy to blame TIE but as far as I'm aware the operation of Lothian Buses is down to Lothian Buses?

He then said "But TIE closed the road".

I'm sorry this is pathetic and I will follow this up because he is out of order just to blame another organisation when clearly the providing of information for bus diversions has to and does remain the responsibility of Lothian Buses.

A big fail today for Lothian Buses and their man of misinformation.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Conservative MEPs claim paedophilia is connected to homosexuality

Today during a Parliamentary hearing organised by Members of the EPP Group on the sexual abuse of children some of their members claimed paedophilia is connected to homosexuality, despite offering no proper evidence.  This is because their claim is completely unfounded.

Vytautas Landsbergis, Member of the European Parliament for Lithuania, former Head of the Lithuanian Parliament and member of the EPP group, said there was a connection between homosexuality and paedophilia. Children, he said, should therefore be protected from “homosexual propaganda” and “homophilic [sic] pædophilia”.

Anna Záborská, EPP Member of the European Parliament for Slovakia, later made a further remark on “adult men abusing young boys”.

Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Home Affairs, responded that such claims were unfounded, and that the European Commission condemns discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Unfortunately Vytautas Landsbergis and Anna Záborská are not alone with these atrocious homophobic views, similar comments had been made earlier this year by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Holy See (Vatican) Secretary of State. He had argued that “there is a relationship between homosexuality and paedophilia”.

It is really scary that people in such senior positions have these views and yet cannot back them up with fact.

The majority of LGBT people across the world condemn paedophilia.

Andrew Reeves running blog stat porn for June 2010

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

The busiest day on my blog last month was Thursday 17th June and the story was about Caroline Nokes MP, the MP who made a virtue of marriage during the campaign and then we discover she has been having an affair.

Last month I had 3,010 absolute unique visitors, massively down from 6,069 last month. They made 3,993 visits and 5,129 page views.

So, my top 10 referring sites for the last month (with previous position in brackets) were;

1. Facebook (2)
2. Twitter (1)
3. Lib Dem Voice (3)
4. Lib Dem Blogs (4)
5. Blogger.com (6)
6. SNP Tactical Voting (5)
7. Google.co.uk (=9)
8. Prestone.co.uk (New)
9. Google.com (18)
10. Liberal England Blogspot (69)

Last month I wrote just 22 blog posts.

The top 10 stories by direct page views that you've read most were;
 
1. Tory MP Caroline Nokes declares extra marital sex wrong while cheating on her husband with a toy boy
2. My reply to Derek Simpson of Unite's invitation to rip up my membership card
3. Why Lembit Öpik should not be the Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of London
4. Was David Ruffley MPs action a shout for help?
5. RSPCA shuts it's doors to strays and unwanted animals
6. Jack Frew - murdered in cold blood for being gay?
7. Labour MSP Frank McAveety resigns after microphone mishap
8. Jamie Stone MSP to step down at 2011 Scottish election
9. Scottish Conservatives let Michael Crow go and their plush HQ, what's next?
10. England beaten by the Germans - cheats, better players and goal line technology
 
So this month's mixed bag is about World Cup football, Jack Frew, the RSPCA closing it's doors to strays and unwanted animals, Scottish Conservatives in decline and Labour MSPs microphone mishap!
The visitors to my little blog came from 71 countries this month, up from 54 last time, the top ten were as follows;

1. United Kingdom (1)
2. United States (2)
=3. Belgium (9)
=3. Ireland (7)
5. France (5)
6. Netherlands (3)
=7. Spain (8)
=7. Canada (6)
=7. Germany (11)
=7. India (24)

Second Royal Yacht to be berthed in Leith Harbour

Many Leithers are proud that the Royal Yacht Britannia is berthed in Leith Harbour, well now the Royal Yacht is to be joined by a second Royal Yacht, The Bloodhound!

The racing yacht was once owned by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and is due into its new home in Edinburgh to become a tourist attraction.

The BBC website claims it has sailed into the Harbour already, but this shipping website is not showing it and I cannot see it from my windows or balcony.

The Bloodhound is a massive 63ft (19.2m) and will be berthed alongside the Royal Yacht Britannia, which is well worth a visit if you haven't already done so.

The Bloodhound was built for US huntsman Isaac Bell in 1936, and was bought by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in 1962.


The 74 year old Bloodhound was sold to The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust earlier this year by Tony and Cindy McGrail, who have spent four years restoring it.

The sailing yacht has had numerous racing victories include the Morgan Cup in 1936, the North Sea Race in 1949 and 1951, and the Lyme Bay Race in 1959 and 1965.

So, come to Leith Harbour, shortly to be home to two former Royal Yacht's.
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