Sunday, 28 February 2010
Thursday, 25 February 2010
Dr Ridley-Duff writes: "Labour, and particularly Ed Balls, would do well to review the intellectual sources underpinning the Conservative position, as they expose the intellectual weakness of New Labour's leadership on the issue of co-operative economics and participatory democracy." One could add that the Coop has led the way on Fair Trade and ecological matters, where the government has faltered.
But he goes on to twit the Conservatives: "why is the policy only being suggested for public sector institutions? Why is David Cameron not championing this for the banks (as Mutuo are doing)? Why is he not arguing for workers to have a right to take over insolvent companies (as happens in Argentina and Venezuela)? Why is he not championing employee-ownership as a business succession policy (as both the Employee Ownership Association and Cooperatives UK argue)?"
He concludes: "The UK is one of only four EU countries without co-operative law: an appalling indictment of a government that includes Cooperative Party MPs. Hopefully, the current news story will move them to action."
One of the few areas of UK industry to survive the Thatcher/Howe economic blitz of the 1980s was that of small co-ops and employee-owned businesses, enabled by possibly the only Liberal-inspired legislation during the Lib-Lab pact. The "Sheffield" approach may show a way out of our current difficulties.
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
However, this is clearly a correction of the equivalent in the print edition: "The film features an astronaut who is stranded on the moon, which was partly financed by Trudi Styler, the wife of the singer, Sting."
I knew Trudi Styler's reach was global. I am reassured that it does not extend into other parts of the solar system.
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
Scotland has shown the way, as I blogged last November.
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
I am glad to see that the demanding, but rewarding, Sarn Helen walk is on the schedule.
Monday, 15 February 2010
Accordingly, there will be no more party political stuff on this site until after electoral hostilities have ceased. That's not going to stop the support of these pages from the other leg, my personal interests, but postings will be less frequent.
However, there are dangers. Traditionally, government departments held only data which were required for their purpose, and not shared even with other departments. So, the department responsible for personal benefits would not have access to an applicant's record of vehicle ownership. These physical and philosophical boundaries have been broken down in the last generation, something which the British public is just waking up to. G-Cloud is going to increase the pressure to aggregate personal information and spread its access across government, in the process increasing the risk of sensitive information falling into inappropriate hands.
Friday, 12 February 2010
As for things individual Lib Dems stand for that make my hackles rise - here's one solid example that highlights a recurrent problem. Tom Brake and his Early Day Motion of 2008 to ban cannabis seeds (still highlighted on his own website here: http://snipurl.com/uc956). Banning things is not high on any liberal agenda, frankly.
I would go further. There are far too many motions on both Federal and Welsh conference agendas which call for new laws and not enough calling for existing pointless laws and regulations to be removed. We seem to be falling into the same trap as New Labour, the belief that passing a new law will make the world better. In Labour's case, there is usually adequate existing law, and all that is required is more efficient administration of it.
Thursday, 11 February 2010
In the case of rock and pop, the situation may not be quite so serious, in that the classic recordings of the 1960s will lose copyright in the next few years. The disappearance of many great orchestral recordings of later years, some of composers who had not had decent recordings before, is worrying, though.
Alternatively, we can just point people to John Cleese.
*at Westminster, at least. Both Hywel Williams and Elfyn Llwyd voted for the Liberal Democrat amendment to the Government's late addition to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill. (Adam Price was absent from proceedings.) Presumably Plaid in Cardiff have been converted to AV.
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
One of the few Conservative policies which David Cameron has not back-tracked on is his proposal to favour married couples over single people. He told the press recently: “I’ve always said this is more about the message than the money… I believe we need to try to build a society that is more about ‘we’ rather than ‘me,’ where we celebrate togetherness.”
This may not sit well with Susan Douglas, the former Sunday Express editor, who "is an unofficial adviser to Mr Cameron", "has a seat on the board of the [...] Centre for Policy Studies, one of the Tories' think-tanks of choice", and a strong contender for candidacy in the Conservative-held constituency of Stratford-upon-Avon, according to the Independent. There has been a split with her husband, Niall Ferguson, who has left Ms Douglas and their three children for the controversial Somali-born lawyer Ayaan Hirsi Ali. A friend of Ms Douglas is quoted as saying that the probable divorce was due to Professor Ferguson's "conducting a private life in a manner more akin to that of a Premiership footballer than a professor".
Mr Cameron's message does not seem to be getting through to the darling of conservative academia on both sides of the Atlantic.
Monday, 8 February 2010
Sunday, 7 February 2010
Just come in from our spring conference, and all set to post my take on proceedings, I turned on BBC-News to see the sad news which has put conference reports out of my mind.
I suppose I should justify the posting by a connection. Back in 1961, Johnny Dankworth (as he then was) was not only respected within the jazz fraternity (and sorority) but had also had a couple of what would now be called "crossover" hits. So it was a bit of a coup for the Civil Service Clerical Association to book Johnny Dankworth's big band for a rally in the Albert Hall. There must have been a jazz fan on the CSCA's executive. So as a young civil servant I enjoyed a great concert free (if you don't count the union subs). The campaign was only a minor success, but the memory of the concert remains.
In my catholic record collection, there has to be a Dankworth album, and it's "What the Dickens!", a series of portraits in jazz - in appropriate styles - of characters from JD's favourite (his only, according to his sleeve note) literary inspiration. Even before today's announcement, it was top of my list for transfer to digital media.
What came over even during John Dankworth's life-time was his generosity. He will be much missed.
Friday, 5 February 2010
The other nominations are:
• Sir Michael Bichard, Chair of the Design Council and Director of the Institute for Government
• Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House and Chair of the Cultural Olympiad and
• Professor Ajay Kakkar, Surgeon and Medical Researcher with a special interest in thrombosis
One assumes that, unless some financial or moral skeleton is found in the cupboard, all will be confirmed in due course.
Yesterday, LibDem leader Nick Clegg took advantage of a visit to Durham to launch the party's manifesto policy on crime and policing (which will no doubt appear on the party web page in due course).
Being forewarned and curious, I found the following:
"EDDY evolved from the Durham Youth Enterprise Scheme, (DYES), which was founded in 1994.
"When the DYES programme was first piloted in 1994 it was developed after research into youth crime and anti social behaviour and, in particular, youth criminality.""Most recently a young man appeared on national television praising the programme and its success, he made mention that EDDY has had a dramatic impact on his life and has enabled him to pursue his life’s ambition to join the HM Forces. Nathan is currently excelling at the military college at Harrogate."
So far, so good, but there is a paragraph further down which clearly needs updating:
"The Rt. Hon Tony Blair PM continues to be patron of the programme. Regular contact has been made with No 10 to keep the PM abreast of the expansion and improvements of the programme. Unfortunately due to his hectic schedule the PM has not been able to respond to the needs of the programme and it has been decided to identify a new patron."
Thursday, 4 February 2010
"It was budget day. Or more accurately, the day of the vote on the SNP government's budget. It is, of course, a hung parliament. The Nats needed the support of at least 2 other parties to get their budget through. So, last week, they sat down and negotiated - with us, with the Greens, with the Tories and even with Labour. There was no panic, no disaster, no chaos. No parties merged with any other. All the opposition parties stated what things they would like added (we wanted more money for college places and action on public sector pay, the Tories wanted an independent budget review and more transparency on spending, the Greens wanted a home
insulation scheme, Labour wanted the Glasgow airport rail link restored).
"Result? The government conceded the Tory and Green demands, and just enough of ours to allow us to abstain. Budget passed.
"The point is, despite the nay-sayers' claims that hung parliaments are disastrous, civilisation didn't end today. On the contrary, it was all remarkably civilised. It was real grown-up politics, and the final result is a much better reflection of what the public actually want than what would have happened if one party had been allowed to ram its own programme through."
There is still room for improvement - 84 children in England and Wales die violently each year, seven a month on average. The police need to be more pro-active, not waiting until there is the chance of a prosecution before taking action. Bureaucracy needs trimming, something that I know my own authority, Neath Port Talbot, is working on. Staff shortages and rapid turnover need to be curbed. Perhaps recruitment could be broadened - surely degree-level qualifications are not necessary for as many levels of social worker as are currently specified? Education is no guarantee of good character and certainly not of life experience.
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
John Redwood:I am glad that the Liberal Democrats support the proposal. Their spokesman, the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Martin Horwood), has brightened up our debates, because it is the first time that I have seen someone come along with carefully prepared and beautifully typed-out scripts on each of the provisions, with his notes on the Liberal Democrat amendments on yellow paper, his notes on the Conservative amendments on blue paper, and his notes on the Government amendments on light pink paper-that paper should probably be dark red now, as they have moved on.
Mr. Redwood: I think that was a compliment, but I cannot be sure.
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Monday, 1 February 2010
It was widely reported at the time that the attack involved the use of white phosphorus, though the Israeli authorities continue to deny that this was the case.
The reprimands may not be the end of the story. Israeli servicemen and women are not immune from prosecution in civilian courts.