Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Man Who Wasn't There

One of the minor ambitions of my life is to actually get to the Big Conference. Although I've been in the party for about 25 years, I've never found the time to go... and life is really busy.

So I have definitely appreciated the veritable cornucopia of posts from all the assorted Lib Dem Bloggers who were there - in particular I enjoyed reading Millennnium Elephant's pieces on Sarah Teather and Ming.

Alex Foster's comments about being a 'bad' Lib Dem and avoiding the Leader's Speech were illuminating but haven't put me off the idea.

I'll get there one day...

Where will Conference be in 2008?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hungary for Knowledge

The "Lying Hungarian Prime Minister " story has been news for several days now. Thanks to Harry's Place, I've now found an interesting Hungarian English-language website with the splendid name of Pestiside

But never mind the Hungarian lies, have you heard of the "Hungarian Calendar"? It seems to be a book written by one Zoltan Hunnivari which seemingly claims that conventional history is wrong , that Jesus Christ was born in AD 194, and that basically the dates of ancient historical events are out by about 200 years. Of course, most historians would say that this is a load of old goulash.

If you want to know more, look up the phantom time hypothesis in Wikipedia , which suggests that the early middle ages (614 -911 AD) never happened.

If this isn't sufficiently weird for you, try the New Chronology of Russian mathematician Anatoly Timofeevich Fomenko, who believes that "the history of humankind goes only as far back as AD 800, we have almost no information about events between AD 800-1000, and most historical events we know took place in AD 1000-1500." Oh, and the historical figures of Jesus and Pope Gregory VII are the same person.

Wikipedia helpfully points out that "These views are entirely rejected by mainstream scholarship."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Labour's Achievements

My favourite Labour Blogger , Ministry of Truth, has given a list of 50 achievements by the Blair Labour Government:

1. Lowest inflation since the 60s
2. Low interest rates
3. Introduced the National Minimum Wage
4. Record police numbers in England and Wales
8. Funding for every pupil in England to double (since 1997) by 2007-08
9. Lowest unemployment for 29 years
10. Written off up to 100 per cent of debt owed by poorest countries
11. 78,700 more nurses
12. 27,400 more doctors
17. NHS Direct offering free convenient patient advice at any time
18. New Deal - helped over a million people into work
19. Local government funding has increased by a third in real terms
21. Free entry to all national museums and galleries
22. Overseas aid budget more than doubled
24. Child benefit up 25 per cent since 1997
25. Created Sure Start to help children from low income households
27. £200 winter fuel payment to pensioners & extra £100 for over-80s
28. The biggest rolling stock replacement programme ever seen on our railways
30. Over 30,000 more teachers in England schools
32. All workers now have a right to 4 weeks’ paid holiday
33. Record rises in the state pension
34. 700,000 children lifted out of relative poverty
35. Introduced child tax credit giving more money to parents
37. Cut long-term youth unemployment by 75 per cent
38. Free nursery places for three and four-year-olds in England, Scotland and Wales
39. Free fruit for all four to six-year-olds at school
40. Free school milk for five, six and seven-year-olds in Wales
41. Record police numbers in Scotland
44. Free TV licences for over-75s
46. Halved maximum waiting times for NHS operations
47. Free local bus travel for over-60s
48. Record number of students in higher education
50. Five, six and seven-year-olds in class sizes of 30 or less

It looks a pretty good list. (And doesn't even include the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly.) Remembering what happened to me under Mrs Thatcher, I particularly welcome number 9. If a Lib Dem government had achieved all this I'd be quite happy, although there's not been much done for the environment.

So why are Labour so unpopular???? It's not just a question of voting intentions, it's a matter that a lot of people loathe Blair and his government. Here's a few thoughts:

a) We don't like the government because the people at the top are not very likeable. After all, they don't even like each other. It's said that sincerity is important in politics- once you can fake that, you can do anything. Trouble for Labour is that much of the public now only perceives them as insincere and this perception tarnishes everything they do.

b) It's all those other "Achievements" that are the problem. Invading Iraq hasn't exactly increased Labour's public support. All that sleaze. Every flop from the Millennium Dome onwards.All those measures that erode democracy and our civil freedoms. The abject failures of the CSA and the Immigration Service. All the things brilliantly mentioned here at Bloggerheads.

c) There were always going to be some Tories who disliked Blair on principle. And the Thatcher years made us more of a "me, me, me...." society, not caring about any of those 50 items unless they benefit us directly as individuals.

d) Finally , Blair has torn his party away from it's roots. Those roots are unhappy.

It's ironic that in a party so seemingly obsessed with spin, that it's managed to obscure the respectable list of things that it has achieved. Let this be a lesson for us in the Lib Dems for the future - let's stay honest and modest ,even if that means owning up to the occasional failure.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The pruning of a Bush?

If it was someone from Respect - or even a liberal blogger from the States - writing about the idea of George W Bush being impeached, I'd not take it too seriously.

But when a UK Conservative starts writing favourably about the possibility of it happening, I start to get interested...

To quote the lady concerned - Martine Martin (no. 50 on Iain Dale's Tory list)-

Even though House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has publically stated that "impeachement is off the table", if Conyers becomes chairman he will certainly put it firmly on the agenda. He has publically stated "When the House returns to the Democrats, I will have the power to subpoena Bush Administration officials to answer questions and face the consequences for their abuses of power". In fact, I'd say that the elections this November could very well be a huge turning point in American history, because, dependant on the outcome, there is every possibility that George Bush could actually be on the sliding slope to impeachment, and eventually maybe even the death penality.

I know, I know. It'll never happen, I hear you say.

Maybe not. But at this point I would never rule out the eventuality... so just watch this space folks.

Every patch of land, every building, every garden, has a councillor...

First of all , congratulations to Stephen Tall on winning "Lib Dem Blogger of the Year"...!

I see that Stephen is also a councillor for Headington in Oxford. Not having a good knowledge of the city (last time I went there was for a wedding at St Cross Church decades ago) I don't know whether he represents any of the celebrated dreaming spires.

But it got me thinking. Every piece of land in our country has a councillor - probably several.And so does every famous location or building. I believe that David Morton has the privilege to represent the area that includes Headingly Cricket Ground, and Simon Wright likewise for Fakenham racecourse.

Do any of the other Lib Dem bloggers currently represent notable places?

What is it like to be a councillor for a ward that includes Aintree, or Winchester Cathedral, or Snowdon, or Inverewe Gardens?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Make Your Own Seal

Found via Ramblin' with Roger , a site where you create your own seals...

Well, I quite like it.

The Top Six

The six blogs shortlisted for the Lib Dem Blogger of the Year award are all worthy candidates - although I have to say that the one I nominated didn't make the list.

The award is for "The blog that has done the most to promote liberalism in the last year." Well, I'm not sure that many of us set out to do this as our main purpose. For me blogging is a pleasurable activity- whether about politics, or music, or football, or history - and I cherish the sense of community that I find at Lib Dem Blogs.

To use a football analogy, we're a league of fairly equal players - some of us may write more frequently, or more elegantly, or more amusingly, or more knowledgeably than others - but we don't have any "Chelsea" or "Man U" bloggers towering above the rest.

And that's good.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Back to Blogging

The last few weeks have been exceptionally tiring for me - not enough hours for sleeping adequately, let alone blogging. But hopefully things are improving a little bit now.

August is traditionally a quiet month here for councillors. However some interesting things have been going on in the ward I help represent:

First of all Asda and Henry Davidson have withdrawn their appeal on their first planning application - which is mostly for a supermarket on land with outline planning consent as a neighbourhood centre. ... They are now going to appeal on their second one. What's the significance of this? Well, the second application has space for some community uses which the first one lacked - So if Asda win their appeal, what we get will be an improvement on the first application (which our council officers strongly recommended for approval)

However I doubt that Asda will win with their second application . They've clearly switched applications because their advisers felt they were on very dodgy ground with their first one. There are still strong reasons for refusal - heavy traffic, conflict with our council's retail policy, loss of amenity for neighbouring residents - with their second one.

What's the moral to this story? Councillors should always look at applications on basis of their planning merits, not on the size of the applicant.

The second item of interest was an application for a small beauty studio to be housed in a redundant Green Belt farm building - actually a few derelict toilets. Our officers recommended refusal - partly because they felt it might damage the vitality of our High Street, although they didn't raise this concern over Asda. In the end it got passed, because councillors felt it complied with our poilicy on re-using existing farm buildings. But I was struck by the support that the applicant had from her clients. For example, lots of lengthy, articulate, and quite angry comments here on our local website.
Chris expresses his own views on this weblog.

I write this blog in a private capacity , but just in case I mention any elections here is a Legal Statement for the purposes of complying with electoral law: This website is published and promoted by Ron Oatham, 8 Brixham Close , Rayleigh Essex on behalf of Liberal Democrat Candidates all at 8 Brixham Close.