Reevesey's recommended reading

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Gym bunny Reeves - weighing 2kg less today (5kg less intotal)

My weekly session with Richard Kerrigan my personal trainer at the Newhaven David Lloyd gym is now switching to Tuesdays.

My start weight on 16th August 2010 was 128.3kg, at the end of week one I was down to 125.8kg and today I lost another 2.5kg and now weigh 123.3kg.  So, I have lost 5kg or 11lbs in just two weeks.

I am really, really pleased with this.

Last night I did a late evening gym session and a short slow run in the morning!

Today yet again Richard put me through my paces, and today I was so determined not to quit on any of the exercises.  I did downgrade the weights on one rep of my lifts but did achieve everything else this week.

I am using more weights now and even one of the weird vibrating pilates machines while doing press ups - very strange feeling in my hands more than anything.

I am genuinely starting to feel the positive impact of the visits, I am less tired and obviously less fat lol.

I have conference coming up soon and I know this will be a challenge as it is a really busy week of work for me (and many others).  I was a little disappointed this afternoon to discover there is no gym at the hotel so will have to look elsewhere - there are two David Lloyd gyms so need to check my membership allows me to visit them, otherwise I will just have to do some running.

So two week sin, still losing weight, still enjoying it and drinking nearly 3 litres of water per day!

John Prescott, Labour and the truth about NHS Direct

On Saturday I blogged about the breaking news that the coalition government were planning to scrap NHS Direct and asking whether this in fact was the right decision.

Well it looks like the proposed changes will only improve the current service - straight away the new 111 service will be free to call unlike NHS Direct now, you pay for that privilege.

Where NHS Direct can only highlight other services, when you call NHS 111 you will be able to book a GP appointment or go straight through to local out of hours services. If you do need an ambulance the 111 service will cut out the need to go through the 999 service assessment.
Since Saturday the story has moved on a great deal, and I do hope and appeal once again that in future the Minister or Ministry responsible either announce these major policy shifts through parliament or at the very least announce it to the media in a proper manner.

Labour, especially via mouthpiece John "I want to be treasurer of the bankrupt party" Prescott have seized on this and are setting up websites claiming to Save NHS Direct.

In fact yesterday I ended up having a spat with John Prescott on twitter.

Leadership contender Andy Burnham MP said at the weekend of the announcement;
"The health secretary's statement will stun people across the NHS.

"It is yet more evidence that Andrew Lansley is on a vindictive mission to break up the NHS, ruthlessly dismantling services before alternatives are in place."
The reason Andy Burnhams comments, and the argument I used with John Prescott is that Labour are NOT being honest with the voters (again).  Actually they are being complete hypocrites.

That is not a comment I make lightly.

On page 35 of this year's Labour Party manifesto, sits the following paragraph:
"A new, national 111 telephone number will make non emergency services far easier for people to access and book."
Would the Labour government if still in power have had this 111 service running alongside NHS Direct?

Of course not!

Labour were planning to scrap NHS Direct themselves and replace it with a 111 service.

Yet Andy Burnham accused Andrew Lansley of being on a "vindictive mission to break up the NHS" when he would have done exactly the same thing himself.

John Prescott argued with me on twitter that "40% of NHSD staff are nurses - 1400. Your plan = replace them with call centre advisors. Ours was to change number."

What John Prescott omits there in his answer is that 60% of the staff are call centre advisors already.

They are taking people for fools in opposition in much the same way as they did in Government and unfortunately many people are still believing their shameful lies.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Clinton Cards - homophobic or just plain lazy?

As some of my readers know, my partner Roger and I will be holding our Civil Partnership next January.

This has led me into every card and stationery shop wherever I go.

I've been surprised how many companies have embraced not just the wedding market but also the civil partnership market too.

And when gay marriage becomes law, the whole wedding marketing scene will become so much easier.

However, Clinton Cards have not embraced the Civil Partnership aspect at all.

I popped into their branches on Princes Street and in Ocean Terminal and was somewhat shocked to see the photo below.
The advertising banner in the wedding section
So, although the photo isn't the end of the world, in this day and age it shows a major High Street chain very much stuck in the past.

Its a sad day when a major chain cannot admit the world has moved on.

I asked staff in both branches why they didn't have any Civil Partnership products or stationery.

The staff at the Princes Street branch giggled and said what's a Civil Partnership.

The staff at the Ocean Terminal branch said they sometimes do but only a few items.

So my question to the senior management Board of Clinton Cards is this;

Is the decision to not market products aimed at couples about to have a Civil Partnership based on homophobia or just plain laziness?

Either way Clinton Cards you need to change your marketing team.

So, now comes the time for you to help, will you now join me and contact Clinton Cards and ask them (a) why do they not stock any cards, stationery or products for Civil Partnerships and (b) was this a pro-active or homophobic decision or just an oversight and plain laziness?

When I checked out the website to confirm the contact details and to see the board members I also searched on there in the wedding section for Civil Partnership products and got this message;
Search Results for civil partnership

We're sorry but there are no matching results for your search this time.

Please select a new search and try again...
However, if you search for gay cards you get a selection of just 30 items mostly semi naked men, if you search for Civil Partnership in the general categories you get a pathetic 3 items.

So, if you are happy to ask the two questions I posed above the online enquiry form can be found here or you can do it the old fashioned way by writing to Customer Services (Website), Clinton Cards, The Crystal Building, Langston Road, Loughton, Essex IG10 3TH.
Let us see if we can achieve a success story and change the mind of the Board of Clinton Cards.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

NHS Direct to be scrapped

So, finally one of the most expensive parts of the NHS is to be scrapped, but is this the right decision?

The problem with NHS Direct is without very intense follow up telephone calls and research it is hard to monitor its effectiveness both from a cost perspective and effectiveness.

I used the service once when I still lived in England and I was given bad advice and different advice from the two telephone calls within an hour of each other.

No one ever called me back to ask my opinions or how I found the service - I ended up going to my GP so actually on that occasion it cost the NHS more because of the failure of the two staff to listen to what I was saying.

How is the service NHS Direct provides actually measured and assessed, if you visit their website it isn't easy to digest or find the information?

Apparently the NHS Direct service is actually to be replaced with a cheaper option, a 1-1-1 service which is currently being piloted in the North East of England.

I wonder on what basis Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has come to the decision to scrap NHS Direct?

Given that NHS Direct is currently tendering for Usability Experience Pre Qualification Questionnaire service providers with a closing date of 1st October, I wonder what Andrew Lansley will say to any of those companies that have spent money and taken time to prepare a tender, never an easy thing to write?

Will he be offering any compensation to those companies involved in the tendering process?

How will the transformation from NHS Direct to 1-1-1 take place, will all the staff keep their jobs or will they all be made redundant and then invited to apply for jobs in the new scheme?

Well let us await an announcement from the Health Secretary rather than jumping on a bandwagon as Andy Burnham MP has done, see here what he tells the BBC News website;

He said:
"The health secretary's statement will stun people across the NHS.

"It is yet more evidence that Andrew Lansley is on a vindictive mission to break up the NHS, ruthlessly dismantling services before alternatives are in place."
Honestly, what a load of crap these Labour leadership candidates talk sometimes, let's wait and see first what Lansley has to say.

One thing that annoys me though is yet another major decision by a government Minister done through a visit or the media rather than through Parliament.

Labour were bad at this during their thirteen years of government, I sincerely hope that Nick Clegg holds the Conservative partners in the coalition to account on things like this.

Major decisions such as this should always come via Parliament.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Thursday's gym session with Richard Kerrigan, the David Lloyd Personal Trainer

Yes, this week was always going to be a challenge because of having two sessions in the one week with Richard Kerrigan my personal trainer, I realise most of my readers will actually have more sympathy for Richard's challenge having me as a customer rather than me, but you can't blame me for trying now can you?

I came away a little disappointed yesterday as there were two tasks I didn't see through to the end and actually conceded defeat, which really annoyed me.

Both were new challenges in Richard's attempts to get me fit and it has made me more determined to achieve these next time but also my main goals - losing the flab and staying fitter as I get older, given I am 42 this is not an option I can give way on.

My stretches and warm up were fine and today (okay, I know, yesterday now) I actually got to go on one of the bikes used for spinning classes, bloody hell they are just that bit harder and therefore push you more, especially when you also have a PT on your shoulder insisting you sprint as well - yes, sprint, I know.

I managed that one.

The shoulder press was one I failed on and didn't manage my usual three reps of 15.  My left shoulder is weaker than my right, something I wasn't aware of until I started at the gym last year and it is something I need to strengthen and ensure I don't concede defeat again.

The second failure was more of a semi failure and although I finished the three reps, the final one was without the 8kg weight.  Holding the 8kg weight to my chest, I have to step up onto a block, about 10-12 inches high and then thrust the other leg upwards at the same time as thrusting the weight above my head twelve on each foot, three times.

I am sure there is a more technical way of explaining this but hey, you will for now just have to imagine me thrusting legs and arms in an upwards direction.

I was knackered, no other way of putting it.  I was assured by Richard that anything above the heart is always harder, so although this was my first time, I know that next time, I have to do this.

Then there were a couple of my old favourites which were all pushing me but I did them, I know the saying goes no pain, no gain but yesterday was bloody painful.

Richard has a knack of asking if the weight is okay, if I say yes he adds more weight on - I do wonder what he would do if I said no, I suspect he would add more weight on as well.

I have a day off today, Friday and then will be back over the weekend under my own steam and then next Tuesday for my next PT session with Richard.

Seriously, if you are struggling at a gym talk to the staff about having a PT, it does cost money, but currently I do not begrudge a penny of it.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Labour's Jack McConnell to quit as an MSP

Scotland's former first minister, Labour's Jack McConnell, is to quit Holyrood at next year's Holyrood election.  The MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw and life peer said it had been "the greatest privilege" to have served as an elected member since the parliament was established in 1999.

Jack McConnell was recently made a life peer, taking the title Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale.

This announcement today will end the speculation that Jack was considering a return as Scottish Labour leader following next May's election.  As recently as May when he was made the life peer the questions of whether he would re-stand were unanswered.

Only last year Jack McConnell announced he had decided to seek re-election as a candidate in the 2010 Scottish Parliament election.

Despite being named a future British High Commissioner to Malawi immediately after he resigned as leader of the Scottish Labour Party, three months after losing the 2007 election by one seat to the SNP, Jack McConnell never got the chance to take up the appointment, following Labour's UK general election defeat.

But he has said that Scotland's partnership with the African country would continue to be at the heart of his work once in the House of Lords.

Lord McConnell told the BBC:
"I have been an elected representative for most of the last 30 years and it is time to move on.

"I have been involved in national Scottish politics, including the creation of the Scottish Parliament and serving in government, for most of those 30 years, and it is time for others to take Scotland forward now."

"As I enter the next decade - my 50s - I look forward to new challenges.

"I will continue my work on peacebuilding - across the world post conflict reconstruction is the single biggest development challenge of our time."
Whatever the political differences with Labour's Jack McConnell, he still stands as Scotland's longest serving First Minister and he commanded the respect from people across the political spectrum, although it should be said, not all of the time.

Jack McConnell has courted controversy in his years as well.

Here is the full statement by Jack McConnell MSP:

I have tonight told the members of Motherwell and Wishaw CLP that I will not be putting myself forward for election at the May 2011 Scottish Parliament elections. My successor in the Constituency, and the Scottish Labour Party campaign, will have my full support in those elections.

I will be forever grateful to the many people locally and nationally who have helped me in the causes I have promoted, and the decisions I have made. Together we have made Scotland, and the constituency, better than they were on my election in 1999.

I have been an elected representative for most of the last 30 years and it is time to move on. I have been involved in national Scottish politics, including the creation of the Scottish Parliament and serving in Government, for most of those thirty years, and it is time for others to take Scotland forward now.

In my application to become a Labour candidate for the first Scottish Parliament elections I wrote that devolution would be judged not simply by the creation of the parliament, but by the ambitions we set out for Scotland and what the Parliament delivered for the people of Scotland.

It is that focus on ambition for Scotland, and on making a real difference, that has driven me over the last 30 years and will continue to drive me as I seek new challenges beyond the Scottish Parliament.

As a young councillor and political activist during the 1980s I argued for devolution, because I believed then, as I do now, that democratic renaissance would be good for Scotland.

In the 1990s, I worked alongside people from across the party divide to make the Parliament a reality, and for the last decade I have been proud to serve my nation - and the people of Motherwell and Wishaw - as a member of our young Parliament.

As Scotland's longest serving First Minister I focused my efforts on creating the right conditions so that the people of Scotland could flourish.

Growing the economy was my priority - moving Scotland on from the devastation of the 1980s to prosperity.

I knew we had to tackle Scotland's terrible health record - and that banning smoking in public was the right thing to do.

I challenged outdated prejudices - such as sectarianism, and stood up against anti social behaviour.

I put the future of our young people at the heart of our policy making - through the biggest school building programme our country has seen, the creation of the national youth volunteering programme Project Scotland and our efforts to support vulnerable youngsters.

And I wanted Scotland to look outwards, away from the introspection of the past, to find our place in the world as a modern entrepreneurial and multicultural nation.

When we left office in 2007, Scotland had more jobs, more people, and more confidence than could have been imagined a decade before. Services were better, economic investment was increasing, health was improving, our reforms were reducing crime and Scottish education was competing with the best in the world again.

Older Scots were warmer, more mobile and better cared for. Younger Scots had more choices and more chances. And in building a modern multicultural nation, we had refreshed our international image, and our population was increasing not declining.

As I enter the next decade - my 50's - I look forward to new challenges.

I will continue my work on peacebuilding - across the world post conflict reconstruction is the single biggest development challenge of our time.

The partnership between Scotland and Malawi will remain at the heart of my work - the link between our two countries is precious and shows that people united under a common moral purpose really can change the world.

I will continue to campaign to improve the life chances of vulnerable young people, whether here in Scotland or elsewhere.

And I will promote the vision of a modern multinational and multicultural United Kingdom, and speak up for devolution and diversity in the House of Lords.

I do not see this as end of Part One, more as the start of Part Two.

Throughout my career - from the classrooms of Lornshill Academy to Bute House, I have always tried to do the right thing.

I have made mistakes - we all do - but I believe I have served my country well and will continue to do my best in this new phase of my life.

It has been the greatest privilege. Thank you.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Wednesday session at the gym

Today was my first session at the gym without Richard my PT.

The session takes around an hour but there's a lot to do, stretches, warm up, main work out which consists of leg press, shoulder press, squats, lat pull down, split leg squats - three reps of each, then onto a real selection of cardio workouts, then abs and core work and finally the coll down and more stretches.

I have to be honest, I still ached in my arms and legs from Mondays PT session, but I knew I had to work through this if I am to succeed in my goals.

All in all, despite the gym being quite busy with muscle men, I managed everything and even managed to get my ipod to work properly.  It took me an hour and a quarter, but not bad for the first one on my own.

By the time I had left the flat I had already drunk over one litre of water, another litre was consumed during my gym session then another half a litre later on.

Tomorrow is a further session with Richard and then I will be on one a week plus whatever I achieve under my own steam.

Monday, 23 August 2010

New exercise regime - one week on and 3kg lighter

So, a week ago I made a real concerted effort to concentrate and motivate myself to not only lose weight but lose it having fun and concentrate on two dates.

The first is the 17th October 2010, which is when I am doing the Hopetoun House 10k run to raise money for the Bobby Moore cancer fund to ensure money goes into cancer research and in memory of my Mum who lost her fight to cancer just last year.  If you are able to sponsor me, you can do so here.

The second is 28th January 2011, not only is this my Mum's birthday but it is the date that I will be having my Civil Partnership with my boyfriend, Roger.

Richard Kerrigan at David Lloyd gym
The extra thing I went for at the gym is having a personal trainer (PT), Richard Kerrigan.  A PT is really focusing me and my efforts and worth every single penny.
"Richard is a trainer who strives for perfection in everything he does. Through his knowledge, passion for fitness and attention to detail he will try to achieve the very best for you. Richard sets very clear targets for his clients, but at the same time likes to ensure the people he works with have fun whilst achieving their fitness goals. Richard Says "The smallest detail makes the biggest difference"."
Last Monday Richard set me the challenge of drinking two litres of water per day - I have not only achieved this, but actually now exceeded it and it has not been as hard as I expected, although I do need to plan more toilet breaks!

I also started the week at 128.8kg, so was really chuffed that at the end of week one I am down to 125.8kg.

So today to be honest after Richard put me through my paces for an hour, I do ache somewhat now in places and muscles I wasn't aware I still had LOL, but I know it is for the best so I have another session with Richard on Thursday and will also be at the gym tomorrow under my own steam.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Ed Miliband MP lays out welcome mat for Lib Dems and concedes defeat in leadership race

This evening I have begun to wonder if the Labour leadership race had finished because Ed Miliband MP seems to have a lot of spare time on his hands talking to Liberal Democrats.

Instead of making up stupid stories perhaps he should concentrate on persuading Labour Members to vote for him.


Now I get it, he is admitting he has lost already and therefore conceding defeat in the Labour leadership race hence why he now has time to start talking to the media about made up stories about the Liberal Democrats.

Yesterday we had the nonsense about the supposed defection to Labour of Charles Kennedy MP - to which Charles has responded that he would;
"go out of this world feet first with my Lib Dem membership card in my pocket"
Today we have Ed Miliband MP saying that;
"I also know that there is widespread unhappiness among Liberal Democrat MPs. I think the idea that everyone is hunky-dory with what's going on is wrong.

"I am not going to start predicting who is going to defect and when they might do so, but I think there is a real chance for us to show that this coalition is going in the wrong direction as far as Lib Dem MPs are concerned - and as I say, the welcome mat is out."
So I am therefore not surprised that Ed Miliband MP, David Miliband MP and even Derek Simpson of Unite have all tried to intimidate and cajole Liberal Democrats to join Labour.

I am however amazed that any of these three chaps have the gall to attempt to persuade Lib Dems to defect given their behaviour towards not only Charles Kennedy  during the Iraq war but the Party over the last thirteen years, but then when did hypocrisy ever stop the Labour Party or Unions before.

Just look at the illegal war in Iraq that Labour MPs supported and voted for and yet now those in the Labour leadership race are distancing themselves from the decision to go into war. Hypocrites.

Let us also remember that it was Labour that stopped the rainbow coalition government being formed because of their refusal to work with the SNP, also 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.

Also, how many Lib Dems would have been unhappy about us forming a coalition with Labour/SNP/Plaid/Green/DUP etc etc?

Don't get me wrong, I am not in favour of the Conservative Party (nor ever will I be) and I will be doing everything in my power over the next nine/ten 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.

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 even Ed Miliband very well knows.

I wasn't overly happy about the VAT increase - but I would rather justify that than the murder of innocent Iraqi's.

I am a Liberal Democrat, proud of being so and proud that we are in government now achieving real results like scrapping ID cards, ending child detention, voting reform, an elected second chamber and taking 900,000 out of paying any income tax for starters.

I am however, very unhappy that we are having to waste time sorting out and paying for the Labour Party's frivolous attitude to spending public money (and their own) over the last thirteen years.
So, no I won't be wiping my feet on Ed Miliband's welcome mat, he can shove that request up where the sun don't shine!

Labour close to bankruptcy - why is the co-op bank helping them?

Thanks to a tweet this morning from GetLabourOut I went on to read their blog post, Labour – Mismanaging Even Their Own Finances which in turn pushed me to read the piece in the Guardian titled John Prescott: Labour 'on the verge of bankruptcy' which in turn provided me with more information to write the following blog post.

I know the topic of the funding of political parties is an emotive topic for many members of the public.  Whether political parties receive state funding or not?  Should unions and big business continue to bank roll Labour and the Conservatives? Should cash in brown envelopes or legitimate donations receive favours in return?

But a political party being on the verge of bankruptcy is another area of conversation completely, especially given the political party we are talking about is Labour, the party that governed Britain for thirteen years and during the major banking crisis.

According to the former Deputy Prime Minister (a position now held by Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg) John Prescott speaking to The Guardian on Thursday, said:
"The Labour party stands on the verge of bankruptcy. We are more than £20m in debt, facing a long-term decline in membership and a crisis in funding."
Now, for a senior Labour politician to admit this is one thing, but John Prescott, sorry Baron Prescott of Kingston upon Hull, is currently campaigning to become the Treasurer of the said close to bankruptcy Labour Party.

The Labour Party governed the UK for 13 years and during the biggest banking crisis ever seen.

That banking crisis has led to banks closing the doors on small and medium businesses, rather than supporting and helping them at this crucial time.

Day after day we continue to hear politicians telling us that another small business in their constituency has unfortunately closed down putting more people onto the unemployment register - never a pleasant thing to face, trust me, I have been there.

Thankfully now that Liberal Democrats are in Government the topic of banking reform is high on the agenda and being acted on by Vince Cable MP, a real pity that Labour's Alistair Darling didn't do anything when he had the chance.

However, reading John Prescott's interview, one thing really stood out for me.  In the second paragraph, Baron Prescott said:
"We are only kept alive by the Herculean work of party staff and volunteers, trade union contributions, high value donations and the goodwill of the Co-op bank."
It's the final five words that caught my eye - goodwill of the Co-op bank - do you see my connection here now?

Here we have a bank that is happy to show goodwill to a political party £20 million in debt and yet the banks collectively are still failing our small businesses by not supporting them and offering loans to these companies to help them through this delicate time.

Thankfully the Labour Party is no longer in Government and therefore no longer mismanaging the finances of the whole country (just their own party's finances).

Let us hope though that any small or medium business customers of the Co-op bank needing help at this time receive the very same goodwill they apparently are showing the Labour Party.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Two jobs Lord Foulkes to quit Holyrood

Labour Peer, Lord Foulkes who is also an MSP is to quit Holyrood in favour of the House of Lords, but not until May next year at the Scottish elections.

In the Scotsman Lord Foulkes said:
"I have made it clear my name is not to go forward even for an allegedly 'unwinnable' seat."
Lord Foulkes has apparently, with others been disappointed by Holyrood.
"Up until now, Holyrood has, for various reasons, disappointed some of us who were among the founders of the institution."
 Surely though as one of the founders as he states he should have influenced changes to improve it?

But he is happier now he has seen the calibre of the candidates from all parties who are putting their names forward to stand in next years elections.
"I see among the new candidates being selected for all parties great hope for the future and the opportunity for it now to really fulfil its potential."
Lord Foulkes was elected to Holyrood in 2007. As well as being a life peer, he has also previously served as an MP.  When Labour won the 1997 general election he was made a junior minister in the Department of International Development before later becoming Minister of State for Scotland.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Day two of new diet/exercise regime

A great day, I haven't yet managed the 2 litres of water, I am approaching the 1.5 litres mark so for me a major advancement.

Managed the breakfast, snack, lunch, snack then dinner of gammon, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and a fried egg.

Breakfast tomorrow will once again be the 3 egg omelette with mushrooms and tomatoes followed by a banana.

The mid morning snack will be 300g of water melon with three slices of parma ham.

Lunch will be the same as today, chicken, bacon, Parmesan, sunflower seeds, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce.

Dinner will be cod, broccoli, carrots and peas.

I will also be doing a gym session plus badminton tomorrow!

UKIP in turmoil as leader Lord Pearson of Rannoch stands down less than a year into the job

UKIP leader Lord Pearson of Rannoch is to stand down after less than a year in the position.

Lord Pearson had a very difficult general election campaign, telling one interviewer he could not remember his own manifesto in detail, BBC political correspondent Ross Hawkins reports.

Now Lord Pearson has concluded he neither enjoys, nor has an aptitude for, conducting party politics, the BBC correspondent adds.

An interim leader will be chosen at UKIP's annual conference next month.

Lord Pearson, who defected to UKIP from the Conservatives in 2007, will remain in place as party leader until the conference in September.

BBC - Lord Pearson of Rannoch

Lord Pearson was elected to the position after the previous leader, Nigel Farage, stepped down to concentrate on contesting the Buckingham parliamentary seat held by the speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow.

Nigel Farage lost and went on to say he had not realised how "popular" Mr Bercow was in Buckingham.

Mr Farage will decide whether to stand for re-election to his old job, despite his injuries.

He told the BBC:
"I'm not going to say I'm absolutely not going to do the job again but I've got to decide, in the wake of that accident, whether I'm strong enough to take the job on."
I think given the size of Nigel Farage's ego, he will contest it again, and UKIP will continue to be nothing more than the single issue party they are.
Anti European but their MEPs seem happy to take the salaries.  Very strange.

Labour leadership hopeful Andy Burnham MP wants to scrap the NHS

Andy Burnham MP is plodding along in the Labour leadership race but not really attracting the media attention of the brothers grim.

Here is one way to do, get in a photo with the message "end the NHS".

In fact Andy Burnham was standing in front of a van with the message "defend our NHS", another reason why someone should always check the photos first......

Monday, 16 August 2010

David Mundell MP set to appear in court over election expenses probe

The Sunday Herald once again carries the story about David Mundell MP heading to the courts regarding the mistake in his election expenses.
The Scotland Office Minister, who is in charge of election conduct north of the Border, is preparing to petition the Court of Session after filing a misleading account of how much he spent on the campaign trail earlier this year.
David Mundell, is expected to ask the courts permission to make retrospective changes to his official spending returns, which he previously signed off as “complete and accurate”.

However, even if successful, he still faces a possible legal sanction for breaking the spending limit in the short campaign expenses.
David Mundell MP has already referred himself to the UK election watchdog over the error.

It is understood that Conservative Party lawyers in London recommended the court action and a date has been set for later this month, although Mundell is not expected to appear in person.

Under the 1983 Representation of the People Act, courts can allow candidates to amend errors in their returns caused “by inadvertence or any reasonable excuse of a like nature”, provided they were made in good faith, not calculated.
In 2005, Gordon Brown’s local Labour party petitioned the Court to include a rates bill for £200 in the then-Chancellor’s election expenses after the filing deadline had passed.

However, unlike Gordon Brown, David Mundell could still be in trouble after a petition is granted, as his mistake broke the legal spending limit.

Breaching the spending limit is a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £5000.

Lib Dem Voice also carries the story.

First proper day at the gym - aches, pains and water

Right, dinner is cooking, tomorrows lunch is cooked and ready, I am aching in places I forgot existed and I have drunk 500ml of water.

To most of you sat reading this, nothing in the sentence above is particularly extraordinary, I know, but for me today was a big step.

I know most of you are aware that along with (an ever expanding group) Beverley Hope, Elspeth Finlay, Fiona Lang and Jamie McHale am doing a sponsored 10k run on Sunday 17th October.

So, after weeks of dabbling at the gym and running last week I took the plunge and went in to the David Lloyd gym at Newhaven to see Richard Kerrigan, one of the personal trainers.

Today was my re-induction and I ache like hell tonight, which given I did not do the full run of exercises means I have some more pain to come and look forward to!

I am always a little nervous when going in for my sessions with Richard because often the gym is full of men with muscles and petit women and I wonder what the hell I am doing there, but Richard looks after you and concentrates on you so they become the background and you forget you are there.

I started off having my blood pressure taken, then being weighed and measured and to top it all off my photo taken!

I also had a good session on nutrition and you would think given I worked in hotels etc for ten years I would know the basics, yes to be honest I do, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't hear it again.

For my height, weight etc I should according to Richard be drinking 4 litres of water per day, but he acknowledged as I don't drink any to start with 2 litres, mark the bottle into 4 and set myself targets, so after leaving the gym I left to go to ASDA, bought the food for healthy breakfast x2, lunch x2 and dinner for this evening, plus the water, and yes Charlie, I did avoid the cakes, sweets and even the biscuits - a challenge in itself.

Now, if I was asked to drink 4 litres of coffee per day then I would probably have to reduce my intake, but WATER, I just don't drink the stuff, so the fact I have managed 500ml already since leaving the gym at 4.15pm is quite an achievement in itself.

So, dinner this evening is 150g of steak with corn on the cob, carrots and broccoli.

Breakfast tomorrow is a 3 egg mushroom and tomato omelette followed by a banana.

A snack around 11am will be a tub of natural yoghurt with some grapes and almonds.

Lunch is shredded lettuce, one slice of bacon, sunflower seeds, cherry tomatoes, sweetcorn, cucumber, chicken and Parmesan.

The afternoon snack is rice cakes with cream cheese.

I know this is a lot of enthusiasm for the first day, but I know I need to lose weight and get fitter again, if I don't, well let's not think about that, so help me keep motivated, don't offer me cakes and sweets and try and put me off - I want to lose at least three stone, with your help, Richard and David Lloyd I know I can do it.

Friday, 13 August 2010

BNP close to extinction as Richard Barnbrook resigns

Firstly we had the resignation of Lee Barnes the BNP legal officer, then mass suspensions of members and senior party officers mainly for supporting other people prepared to stand as leader against Nick Griffin, accusations of bankruptcy and now Richard Barnbrook, the BNP London Assembly Member has resigned and will sit as an independent.

Not that it changes his right wing views of course, nor to be honest will anyone really notice.

But Andrew Gilligan has the story.
Richard Barnbrook, the BNP’s London leader and its representative on the London Assembly, has today resigned the BNP label and will sit on the Assembly as an independent, I understand. This follows his sacking as the BNP’s Barking and Dagenham organiser three weeks ago after the party’s dismal performance in the May local elections.

Not very much noticed, the BNP is going through one of its periods of turmoil after its poor national election results in May, with Nick Griffin, its leader, fending off another leadership challenge this week.
Lee Barnes really lets the cat out of the bag and dishes the dirt on Nick Griffin and the BNP with statements such as;

"Bankruptcy of the party will have very serious implications for the BNP membership.

"If the party is made bankrupt then the BNP membership as a whole will be directly financially liable for its outstanding debts as an unincorporated association and not Nick Griffin or Jim Dowson.

"This is because Nick Griffin has no assets and Jim Dowsons financial assets are probably hidden away in some Spanish or Swiss bank account outside the UK."
Lee Barnes goes onto add;
"As far as I am aware the party is now technically insolvent.
"Outstanding court costs, wages bills, election expenses and also forthcoming legal cases against the party mean the BNP is now technically bankrupt."
And at the very end he quits as the legal officer and member of the BNP.

Although, what will happen to all those right wing facist and racist thugs across the country who remain members of the BNP, it will be great to see the BNP collapse but then where they will go?

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Liberal Democrats now the only effective opposition in Glasgow

It appears the SNP Councillors in Glasgow are not taking there jobs seriously any more and have given up.
SNP Councillors have yet again failed to attend one of the key Scrutiny Committees on Glasgow City Council.

In the week when news surfaced of a Labour Councillor being arrested the SNP were quick to rush out press statements about the tip of a corruption iceberg and the need for more scrutiny of the Labour Council.

Yet just last week SNP Councillors failed to attend either the Finance & Audit or the Operational Delivery Scrutiny Committees and yesterday failed to attend the External Governance Scrutiny Committee.

These committees are chaired by opposition Councillors and are the very bodies that allow opposition councillors to hold the Labour Administration to account.

As the current official opposition the SNP Group earns over £60,000 in additional salaries from Glasgow’s external companies and have a full time policy officer paid for by the Council yet they don’t think scrutiny of these arms length companies or whether Labour are failing to deliver on front line services is worth turning up for.

Voters elected the Councillors and therefore pay them, and to represent their interests and to hold this Labour Administration to account for its actions.

If the SNP Council Group won’t do its job as an official opposition then Glasgow’s Liberal Democrat Councillors will step and be the official and effective opposition that Glasgow so badly needs.

Labour must be held to account in Glasgow and the SNP are failing the voters of Glasgow so it is down to Councillor Paul Coleshill and his fantastic team to step up and hold the Labour Councillors to account.

Final guest post from Hugh O'Donnell MSP in Kampala, Uganda

This is it, my last contribution from Kampala, Uganda.
Today was a round of debriefing and formal farewells.

I've now had two farewell barbeque's and five formal speeches in seven hours.

These people are fantastic, warm, welcoming, generous of spirit and goods, but most of all they are upbeat in circumstances most Europeans struggle to understand let alone cope with! 

We took a final walk round the local markets to soak up the atmosphere for one last time.

Guest post from honourable muzunga moompi Hugh O'Donnell MSP

Hugh O'Donnell, Lib Dem MSP for Central Scotland region writes from Uganda.

Well, today brought to an end to my work activity and the project we have been working on for the last two weeks (almost).

The consensus among my Ugandan colleagues seems to be that the 'honourable muzunga moompi Hugh' (short White politician) translation from Lugandan - stop laughing please, had been useful and helpful - they even invited me back.

Workshopitis can be a problem here but it does seem to suit the very methodical approach to problem solving and team work.

Best two laughs of the day coming up.

I have been saying since I arrived that Scotland has too much rain, Uganda has too much red dust and sunshine, so we should do a swap.

The unusual scene of rain in Uganda
Today it poured from the heavens, and at lunch time my colleagues from Uganda gave me a small bag of red Ugandan dust!

I asked about the sunshine and they said we'd agreed on only one swap, and they decided that the dust they could spare better than the sun!

Score one to Uganda:-)).

All great fun.

Tomorrow is a final de-briefing day with VSO and my project team, then packing.

One more post tomorrow then home at 7.00 am on Friday.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The latest news from Hugh O'Donnell MSP volunteering in Uganda

Sometimes here in Uganda beneath the seeming careful planning a little bit of chaos is found!

Today is a great example of just such a thing.

My carefully arranged workshop plans were thrown into the bin when I was told the subject was HIV/AIDS - 10 minutes before we were due to start, talk about winging it.

Anyway as a facilitator getting the 16 attendees into groups to discuss the issue was relatively easy: workshops are a way of life here.

It's partly because local people get an attendance allowance and fed if they turn up and they desperately need both the money and the food, but it's a bit disconcerting when some of them leave half way through - usually it's because if they get to the next one they get fed again and get paid for the half day.

Today the organisers were smart, no one got paid until the end, so I had a full turnout (they were interested really), joking aside it seemed to be well received.

Chaos number two of the day came with the surprise announcement that tomorrow (Wednesday) will be a public holiday of mourning for the funeral of former Ugandan President Godfry Binaisa - now you need to pay attention for this bit.

When Ide Amin fled there was a temporary appointment for three months, then Binaisa was elected and lasted for 11 months when the current encumbant took over and put a stop to twenty years of civil war.

So basically any excuse for a holiday and we're off tomorrow - except me and the group I'm working with - ho hum.

Fraud probe Labour Councillor John Holden charged

A bad day for Scottish Labour today with a Glasgow Labour Councillor arrested and now a Highland Labour Councillor charged.

The BBC reports;

A Highland councillor has been charged following an investigation into alleged benefit fraud.

John Holden, who represents the Inverness South ward, was investigated by police, Highland Council and the Department of Work and Pensions in 2008.
The Crown Office confirmed Mr Holden has been charged, but declined to give any further details.

The case against him is due to call at Inverness Sheriff Court next month.

Mr Holden has said he would rigorously defend the case.

The Labour councillor has been suspended from the party's group on the council.

A Scottish Labour spokesman added: "As a police investigation is ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further."

Glasgow Labour Councillor Gilbert Davidson arrested over lewd text and voice messages

A Glasgow Labour councillor and former Lord Provost of Glasgow has been arrested and charged over allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards a female colleague.

Councillor Gilbert Davidson faces criminal prosecution after police investigated claims he sent suggestive voice mails and text messages to former civic chief and senior councillor Liz Cameron, asking her to share a hotel room with him.

The BBC reports:
It is claimed Gilbert Davidson sent offensive voice mails and text messages to former Lord Provost Liz Cameron.
Councillor Gilbert Davidson has also been suspended from the ruling Labour group.

Strathclyde Police have said that a 67-year-old man had been charged with an alleged breach of the peace following an inquiry at Glasgow City Chambers.

A spokesman for the Scottish Labour Party said:
"Councillor Gilbert Davidson has been suspended from the Labour group on Glasgow City Council with immediate effect.

"As a police investigation is now ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further."
 A police spokeswoman said:
"We can confirm that a 67-year-old man has been arrested and charged with an alleged breach of the peace in connection with a police inquiry being carried out at Glasgow City Chambers and a report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal."
The arrest and allegations closely follow the story last week in The Herald.
Labour councillor Gilbert Davidson is already being investigated after being accused at the weekend of groping counterpart Ruth Black.
Given all of the issues the Labour Party have faced in Glasgow - Councillor Steven Purcell, Councillor Ruth Black and now Councillor Gilbert Davidson it really is time Labour were voted out in Glasgow, they have and continue to let the people of Glasgow down.  You wonder what tomorrows headline is going to be.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Latest guest post from Hugh O'Donnell MSP in Uganda

Today's been an odd one!

Duly turned up at my scheduled meeting with DfID to find that the person in charge of the Dept dealing with the Equalities Agenda had only arrived in Uganda two weeks before me, and had about the same level of knowledge on the situation regarding disabilities as I did.

None the less we spent nearly two hours kicking around the issues that had been identified during last weeks workshop with the VSO and the disability network here in Kampala.

All in all reasonably useful and a good start to the engagement process.

Uganda has some of the most comprehensive disability legislation in the world, it's even part of their Constitution but implementation is a huge challenge, mostly because of a combination of finance and cultural attitudes, which to be fair are changing-very slowly.

All of which takes me to my next meeting of the day.

The Uganda Elector Commission has responsibility for delivering the disability laws in relation to elections but they have been less than successful in meeting their obligations.

After three hours we managed to prise out of them a verbal agreement to work in partnership with VSO and disability network-but they still have no money so we may make a return visit to DfID with cap in hand.

The media stuff had to be rescheduled for Thursday!!!   That's Uganda. 

Oh,  the reason there are no pictures tonight is that everywhere we went to meetings there were very big policemen with very big guns discouraging us from taking photos-sometimes discretion is the better part of valour - so here's a genuine shot of the police  barrack instead!!!!

Charles Kennedy MP and Sarah Gurling to split

The Press Association, amongst others has the very, very sad news that Charles and Sarah have announced their separation.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy and his wife Sarah are to separate.

A statement issued by the couple's respective lawyers said it was "with great sadness" that they had decided to split.

"In doing so amicably, our ongoing and overriding priority will obviously remain our son," it went on.

"We wish this to remain an entirely private family matter."

Mr Kennedy married Sarah Gurling in 2002 and their son, Donald, was born during the 2005 general election campaign while he was still party leader.

Friday, 6 August 2010

SNP spend £1million on ministers limos

As hundreds and thousands of us face tightening our belts and watching the household spending the SNP ministers carry on living a life of luxury at taxpayers expense.

A total of £929,899 has been spent on ferrying around ministers and senior government officials, and a further £65,759 on private hire vehicles.

The cost of running and maintaining a 25-car fleet, plus staff costs, had increased compared to previous years.

The SNP finance minister John Swinney was criticised earlier this year for making a 200-yard journey to a television studio in a chauffeur-driven limousine.

Perhaps he like other ministers should learn to put their left foot in front of the right and then carry on as before, it's called walking.
Ironically the figures were unearthed by Labour's Lord George Foulkes who himself had claimed, according to the SNP £27,576 for his taxpayer funded trips to and from London, over £15,000 of which went on flights since his election to the Scottish Parliament in May 2007.

It is great to see Labour and the SNP are as hypocritical as each other.  STV have the full story and figures.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Conservative Council leader Councillor Kay Cutts snubs gay activist

Ian Campbell was to be presented with a youth citizenship award by the leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, Councillor Kay Cutts.

Now Ian Campbell who is gay, was to be presented with the award for his work promoting gay rights and fighting bullying and anti homophobia in schools.

Ian is also the youngest Mayor in the United Kingdom.  At the age of 23 the Labour Councillor was elected to the post of Mayor of Retford, also in Nottinghamshire.

In the past the Leader of Nottinghamshire Council has presented the winner with officials presenting the other awards.

Ian Campbell was chosen as joint Young Person of the Year in Nottinghamshire by a panel of judges including Nottinghamshire's chief constable and given the award at the end of last year.

According to the BBC News website:

The organiser of the Young People of the Year awards, Tony Gearing, claimed: "She was very off hand and had decided she wouldn't take part - despite pleading - with the photographs or with the handing over of the prizes."
It appears that Councillor Cutts asked Ian Campbell what the award was for, and once he had told her she withdrew her hand and was in a bit of shock.

However, as she wasn't available for comment it was left to a spokesperson to comment, who in my opinion has actually added even more fuel to the fire.

The spokesman said:
"The Conservative Party takes allegations of homophobia extremely seriously.

"(We) are satisfied that her conduct at the youth awards ceremony in question was exemplary and any suggestion to the contrary is completely inaccurate.

"None of her actions were in any way homophobic."
He then added Councillor Cutts had refused to be photographed with the winner because he was a Labour Party activist.

The Conservative Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council has refused to have a photo taken with the Mayor of Retford, Councillor Ian Campbell.

Kay Cutts needs to grow up and apologise publicly and then donate money to a LGBT charity of Ian Campbell's choice.

Bassetlaw District Council is Conservative run, but chose to elect Ian Campbell as the Mayor - Ian won his seat from the Conservatives by just 15 votes.  So, in that part of the County the Conservatives are much more grown up than the leader of the Shire, Kay Cutts could well take lessons from her colleagues.

Ian was thrown out of his home when he came out, so I am sure this minor mishap will be nothing to him, but I hope he pursues it and shames Kay Cutts.

UPDATE Friday 6th August 17.37pm
Ian Campbell saw my original blog post and via twitter we have been chatting.

It appears that Councillor Kay Cutts has come out on the attack via BBC Radio Nottingham and has yet again today stressed that she refused to have a photo taken with Ian because he is a Labour Party activist.

Councillor Cutts - what a load of crap.

Go back and read exactly why Ian Campbell won the award, see what happened to him when he came out?

Ian Campbell's political allegiance has diddly squat to do with him winning the award and he was only at the ceremony because he won the award, nothing to do with being a Labour Councillor nor to do with him being the youngest Mayor in the UK.

Councillor Cutts either you are being homophobic, or just plain stupid?

Ian Campbell has stated on twitter to me (so it is in the public domain) that he will accept a full apology from Councillor Kay Cutts.

I think Ian is being great, I still think he should push for a personal donation to a LGBT charity, there is enough of them in Nottingham that would benefit from a donation of £100.

So readers, here is where you come in, if like Ian and I (different political allegiances) you think that Councillor Kay Cutts owes Ian Campbell a full and public apology, and if you like a personal donation of £100 to a LGBT charity of Ian's choice then email her today, in fact do it now!

Councillor Kay Cutts - Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council.  Just click on her name or here.

Hugh O'Donnell MSP writes from Uganda

Hugh O’Donnell, Liberal Democrat MSP for Central Scotland is the first MSP to volunteer in VSO’s new Scottish Parliament Volunteering Scheme. Mr O’Donnell will spend ten days helping the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) which lobbies for the rights of people with disabilities.

Disabled rights is an area Mr O’Donnell has a real active interest in, after working for 15 years with adults with learning disabilities.
There's a cliche that says a camel is a horse designed by a committee, and sometimes it's a truism, but not here in Uganda!

22 people turned up at today's workshop; representing the alliance of disability sector voluntary groups.  Uganda was the first African country to sign and ratify the UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities and now I know why.

They have a can do attitude, a fierce determination and a genuine belief in the cause. Every one of them has a disability, or HIV/Aids, but they run the organisations themselves with some support, a lot of it from VSO and the volunteers like me.

Unlike me these 'internationals' , like Ian and Renata give up a year of their time to support local effort and expertise,: the best I can do is 10 days.

But everything is appreciated and welcomed.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Conservative MSP Ted Brocklebank to stand down

Conservative MSP Ted Brocklebank has announced he will be standing down at the 2011 Holyrood elections.
The 67-year-old former journalist was elected as a member for Mid-Scotland and Fife in May 2003.

He said it had been an "immense privilege" to serve his constituents but said he was hoping to return to his former career in broadcasting.
Mr Brocklebank was the Scottish Conservatives former rural development and fisheries spokesman but resigned in February 2007 in protest over a policy U-turn.

He was angry that David Cameron stepped back from a threat to withdraw the UK from the EU common fisheries policy.
The Conservative MSP is currently the spokesman for Europe, external affairs and culture.
"It has been an immense privilege to serve the people of Mid-Scotland and Fife and I have greatly enjoyed my time in the Scottish Parliament," he said.

"I don't see myself putting my feet up and playing with the grandchildren. I feel very active.

"I've enjoyed my eight years but I'm equally looking forward to getting back to my old trade."

He added: "It will be good to re-discover my non-partisan voice again, especially on fisheries and media matters."
Conservative leader Annabel Goldie said the MSP had made "an important contribution" to the Conservative MSP group and to the parliament.
"His career experience before entering politics has enabled him to be an authoritative commentator on a range of issues but particularly those related to media and culture, " she said.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Conservative Councillor Neil Rockcliffe calls his ward "Chaffrica"

Conservative Councillor, Neil Rockcliffe for Chafford and North Stifford ward in Thurrock, Essex has been slammed for calling his ward "Chaffrica" on his facebook page while on holiday.

Councillor Neil Rockcliffe

Councillor Rockcliffe, wrote: "Is missing being in Chaffrica" and then went on to add:
"Thinking that the scriptwriters of Eastenders must live on Chafford Hundred...has all the ingredients...murderers, rapists, concerned ethnic minorities, gay men etc, etc...."
Councillor Neil Rockliffe, who represents Chafford and North Stifford with just a majority of 117 votes, said he had now removed the posts.

Chafford Hundred has one of the fastest growing black and minority ethnic middle classes in the United Kingdom.

The comments have been slammed by anti-racism organisation TRUST.

A spokesperson speaking on behalf of the Chair of TRUST said: “This isn’t helpful at all. The borough has been red-flagged for community cohesion and we are all working so hard to turn it around.

Speaking to BBC News;
Mr Rockliffe insisted that the reference to "Chaffrica" was a comment about his garden, and how overgrown it is.

He added: "The comment had been blown out of all proportion and taken out of context. It wasn't a public comment and I'm not a career politician."
When asked by the BBC to respond to his references to "murderers, rapists, concerned ethnic minorities (and) gay men," the councillor said: "If you look at the date of the Eastenders comment on Facebook and the episode that went out that night, they were issues in part of that programme."

He said he did not know how the remarks could have got into the public domain but he said they had now been removed.

Speaking before he had managed to speak to Mr Rockliffe himself, Councillor Garry Hague, the leader of the Conservative group and fellow ward councillor on Thurrock Council, told the BBC:
"We are taking this extremely seriously, we will take whatever action is necessary."
A spokesperson for the council refused to be drawn on the matter, but did acknowledge they were aware of it.

Leading Tories are remaining tight-lipped on the subject.

Last week, Councillor Rockcliffe tabled a motion at full council asking: "If the Labour group had something against Chafford Hundred?"

Like every other politician before him, Neil Rockcliffe has made a stupid comment on Facebook and then it appears is denying knowing how it became public!

I would suggest because you pressed enter.

Guest post from Hugh O'Donnell MSP in Kampala, Uganda on VSO’s new Scottish Parliament Volunteering Scheme

Well here I am ready to start the VSO placement in Kampala at the end of a remarkable 24 hours non stop!

The Pearl of Africa, Uganda is stunning, a place of urban sprawl contrasted with the silvery blue of lake Victoria, tribal huts side by side with high rise businesses in glass and steel.

The one constant so far is the relentless cheerfulness of the people - it's true a happy disposition can and does make all things seem possible.

As I climb under the mosquito net to sleep I wonder what my first encounter with the disability organisations will bring - to say nothing of my protocol visit to the British High Commission.

Tomorrow is indeed another day.

Hugh O’Donnell, Liberal Democrat MSP for Central Scotland is the first MSP to volunteer in VSO’s new Scottish Parliament Volunteering Scheme. Mr O’Donnell will spend ten days helping the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) which lobbies for the rights of people with disabilities.

Disabled rights is an area Mr O’Donnell has a real active interest in, after working for 15 years with adults with learning disabilities.

Mr O’Donnell will be using his skills and passion to make a difference in this area by reviewing NUDIPU’s advocacy strategy, supporting the organisation in targeting the electoral commission to secure representation for Ugandans with disabilities in addition to planning and delivering a workshop with NUDIPU for a group of disabled peoples’ organisations on joint advocacy.

One in ten Ugandans has a disability and it’s estimated that over 1.4 million of these people are children under 16 years old. One of VSO’s main aims for its disability programme in Uganda is to build the capacity of disabled peoples’ organisations to engage and advocate more effectively with policymakers and organisations that deliver basic services.

Monday, 2 August 2010

The Metropolitan Police still don't understand that photography is not a crime

I have blogged before about various incidents that have taken place between the Metropolitan Police and journalists before and unfortunately, despite ACPO issuing guidance for police officers, it appears some of them cannot read or perhaps it is the case they don't want to.

It states "Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel."

It goes on to say under both Sections 43 and 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, that "Officers do not have the power to delete digital images or destroy film at any point during a search."

My previous blog posts are Is photography the new crime? and Photography as a crime rears its head again if you want to read them.

From the National Union of Journalists website today;

NUJ member and photographer Carmen Valino has been threatened with arrest and forced to delete images.

Carmen Valino had images deleted from her camera by police and was threatened with arrest whilst photographing the scene of a shooting in Hackney, East London.

The incident happened on Saturday 31 July as Valino photographed a crime scene from outside the police cordon whilst on assignment from the Hackney Gazette.

She had identified herself as a journalist and showed her UK Press Card to the police.

A police Sergeant approached Valino telling her that she was disrupting a police investigation and to hand over her camera. After protesting to the Sergeant that she was in a public place, outside the cordon he had no right to take her camera, he grabbed her wrist and pulled out his handcuffs. Before he could put the cuffs on she handed him her camera. He then left for five minutes before coming back, bringing Valino inside the cordon and asking her to show him the images and deleting them. Valino was told that she could come back in a few hours to photograph the scene.
This incident highlights how police are still not following the law or the agreed ACPO Media Guidelines as highlighted at the top of this post.

Surely at some point this has to stop, the police have got to stop abusing their powers and perhaps now it is the time for the IPCC to investigate?

Why Bob Crow and the Unions are wrong

I'm interested to know why Bob Crow thinks having national strike days will benefit the country or those of us who live here?

Its easy for a Union official such as Bob Crow to call for a national strike but instead Mr Crow, why not propose some alternatives that the Liberal Democrat- Conservative Coalition Government could explore?

And that is where we lose Bob Crow and the Unions, its much easier for him and others from the Union movement to just snipe from the sidelines about the Coalition Governments actions rather than do anything positive.

Given the Coalition Government is trying to sort out the massive debt that the Labour Party (funded by the Unions) and its MPs (many offices also funded by Unions) left behind after thirteen years of irresponsible overspending, it is bizarre and hypocritical that the Unions are complaining at all in my opinion.

Strange how Bob Crow and others were silent over that thirteen years of irresponsible overspending?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not happy with many aspects of the Coalition Governments announcements either, mainly those that are obviously Tory.

I am however delighted that ID cards have gone, that child detention is on its way out, that 900,000 people will be taken out of paying tax, that gay marriage is being talked about, that rural fuel derogation is a step closer to becoming reality, that fairer votes are going to happen and more - and those are only because there are Liberal Democrat MPs sitting in the Coalition Government.

That's the difference Bob Crow, the Liberal Democrats were an effective and substantial opposition party now in Government still standing up for fairness.

What are you and the RMT doing, apart from moaning, whinging and demanding folk come out on strike where they won't get paid for that day, although you will still get paid so what do you care?

What will the strikes actually achieve other than those people losing a days wages and giving the anarchists a day out?

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Andrew Reeves running blog stat porn for July 2010

So, continuing my monthly stat porn figures for anyone who is remotely interested, the monthly summary of my visitor stats according to google analytics is as below for July 2010.

The busiest day on my blog last month was Sunday 11th July and the story was about Mark Reckless MP, the new MP for Rochester & Strood who was too drunk to participate in the Budget votes.

Last month I had 2,454 absolute unique visitors, down from last month. They made 3,530 visits and 4,676 page views.

So, my top 10 referring sites for the last month (with previous position in brackets) were;
1. Facebook (1)
2. Twitter (2)
3. Lib Dem Voice (3)
4. Lib Dem Blogs (4)
5. (5)
6. SNP Tactical Voting (6)
7. (7)
8. Norfolk Blogger (16)
9. Caron's Musings (21)
10. Lallands Peats Worrier (39)

Last month I wrote 40 blog posts, the most for some time now.

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

1. Conservative MP Mark Reckless too drunk to vote in Budget debate
2. Conservative MEPs claim paedophilia is connected to homosexuality
3. X Factor winner Joe McElderry: I'm gay
4. Clydesdale Bank error - you must now pay an extra £300, every month
5. Tory MP Caroline Nokes declares extra marital sex wrong while cheating on her husband with a toy boy
6. Government Ministers resign over taxpayer funded travel

7. Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen in mental health joke gaffe
8. Conservative MSP John Lamont drops his support for Borders railway
9. Complaint over Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith's election expenses
10. Ed Balls MP considering quitting the Labour leadership race

So this month concentrates more on politics with topics like Zac Goldsmith's election expenses, Ed Balls quitting the Labour leadership race, Mark Reckless MP too drunk to vote, Conservative MEPs claiming paedophilia is connected to homosexuality and Joe McElderry the X Factor winner announced he was gay.

The visitors to my little blog came from 57 countries this month, down from 71 last time, the top ten were as follows;
1. United Kingdom (1)
2. United States (2)
3. Canada (=7)
4. Belgium (=3)
5. Ireland (=3)
6. India (=7)
=7. Spain (=7)
=7. Australia (11)
=7. Germany (=7)
10. Netherlands (6)
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