Thursday, July 29, 2010
Jonathan Calder has posted a defence of eating squirrels. It turns out that Jenny Seagrove is against it. Just an excuse for posting her picture as she appeared in Local Hero but with a pirate squirrel as company.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The opportunistic self-serving hypocrites who lead the Parliamentary Labour Party are going to vote against a referendum on AV despite their own commitment to the idea a few weeks ago. The arch-hypocrite (and sadly typical ex-NUS President) Jack Straw explains that the bill also provides for redrawing boundaries and reducing the number of constituencies. Of course the real motive is to join with Tory anti-referendum backwoodsmen rebels and defeat the government. So, the obvious solution - split the bill in two. Will Labour have the unashamed gall to vote against a bill only for a referendum on AV ? I doubt it, but if they did we would see their essential and deep-seated conservatism revealed. Simples !
I have recently bought a copy of James Walton's "Sonnets, Bonnetts & Bennetts". I couldn't resist the puff by Lynne Truss which said, "The perfect gift for the sort of person who shouts the answers at University Challenge". That's me. Here's an example of the questions inside.
Who's the only person in literary history both to have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize and to have played a girlfriend of Ken Barlow's in Coronation Street ?
No prizes for the first answer. Just buy the book.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
The decision of the CPS not to prosecute the police officer, Pc Simon Harwood, who struck and knocked over Ian Tomlinson is indefensible, unforgivable, outrageous. The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer should resign. The CPS Statement says that "...there is no realistic prospect of a conviction for unlawful act manslaughter." because of conflicts in the medical evidence. Perhaps they haven't heard of the jury system, in which twelve members of the public decide who to believe. It's what we commonly use when the accused is NOT a policeman.
The CPS also failed to prosecute for any lesser charge than manslaughter. After a year they have decided what we can all see in the video evidence: "Having analysed the available evidence very carefully, the CPS concluded that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of proving that the actions of PC 'A' in striking Mr Tomlinson with his baton and then pushing him over constituted an assault." so they're not completely stupid. They're just inexcusably slow. Why take a year to review the evidence ? Why not bring charges of common assault within the six-month time limit ?
Perhaps the policeman concerned will face charges under the Health and Safety legislation like the policemen who killed Jean Charles de Menezes. Perhaps he'll face a little reprimand under the internal disciplinary procedures. Or perhaps he will conclude that he can behave just as badly as he likes, because his colleagues will lie to the press to protect him, because his bosses will employ incompetent doctors who will screw up the evidence and because the bloody geniuses at the CPS can't put a case together in under a year !
Now it turns out Pc Simon Harwood had already reached that conclusion, having been previously investigated twice over his alleged aggressive behaviour.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
As we know, the government has excluded Trident from the Strategic Defence Review. Now the Liberal Democrats' Conference Committee has excluded a motion on Trident challenging that decision. Surprisingly perhaps, Ming Campbell has challenged the government's decision*. Ming is emerging as the strongest independent Liberal voice in parliament. Liberal Democrat voters and members have to be mature about the coalition in which we are the minority and understand that the leadership cannot deliver everything we want. In return the leadership has to understand that we can go on saying what we want even it's embarrassing for the government.
*Thanks to Liberal England for pointing out Ming's remarks.
I have often wondered what breakfast was like in the Hitchens family when brothers Christopher and Peter were young. Radio 4's "The House I grew up in" revealed yesterday that they were at each other's throats just as much as now, but physically as well when children.
If you enjoy watching brothers arguing, there's more on you tube.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Liberal Democrat Conference Committee is considering the following motion on Trident which many of us have signed.
Nuclear Weapons and the Financial Crisis
Conference notes that:
i) Britain is currently in the worst financial crisis since the end of the Second
ii) Britain’s capacity for independent military action is limited increasingly by financial constraint. The Strategic Defence and Security Review Green Paper (February 2010) called for Britain to act more in concert with our partners rather than attempting to bear the cost of fully-independent Armed Services.
iii) neither our coalition partners nor Labour, while they were in government, have indicated any willingness to include Trident in the Strategic Defence Review.
iv) in the last two military conflicts in which Britain acted unilaterally - Sierra Leone and the Falkland Islands - nuclear arms were irrelevant.
Conference further notes that:
a) under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty all signatory states undertake to pursue negotiations, in good faith, on effective measures relating both to the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament at an early date and to negotiate a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.
b) the cost of the proposed Vanguard submarine replacement contracts and lifetime running costs are in the order of £100 billion
c) the cost of replacing the current nuclear warheads will be a further £8 billion
d) any major military actions in the future are certain to take place as part of an international coalition for which purpose British nuclear weapons would be irrelevant
e) In a speech in May 2010 Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, cast doubt on the future of the Ohio-class submarine and with it the Trident missile system
Conference welcomes this year’s agreement to reduce the number of nuclear weapons held by Russia and the US and notes the bilateral agreement reached by the two Presidents. Conference also notes, however, that the weapons which are to be removed are due to be retired from service anyway.
Conference therefore calls for:
1. Trident to be included in the Strategic and Security Defence Review
2. Confirmation of current policy to cancel any planned 'like-for-like replacement' of the Trident system
3. A freeze on any further procurement by Britain of all types of nuclear weapon
4. The retirement of the current Vanguard fleet at the earliest possible opportunity.
These steps will save in excess of £108 billion during the planned lifetime of the Trident submarine replacement systems and the early withdrawal of the Vanguard fleet will save a further £2 billion per annum up to the year 2025.
Conference recognises that, under the terms of the Coalition Agreement, this policy cannot be implemented fully at this time but full implementation will be pursued once the party is in a position to do this.
Monday, July 12, 2010
The Independent reveals that the UK Border Agency has refused visas to child victims of Chernobyl fallout to have holidays here. I have written to Chris Huhne and Lynne Featherstone. If you agree, write to a Liberal minister as well.