Wednesday, 25 June 2008

"Liberty" and David Davis

Peter Hoskins in The Spectator believes that the row between Shami Chakrabarti and Andy Burnham is at an end. Or was his tongue firmly in his cheek?

My view is that most people would have recognised that Burnham's squib, crude and unpleasant though it was, was not a serious accusation of adultery. Behind it, though, was the "dog-whistle" suggestion that the director of Liberty, an avowedly non-party-political organisation, was colluding with the very Conservative David Davis. The aim, clearly, is to demean Liberty's reputation, and the things it stands for, by association.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Better rail travel: keep the pressure up

The First Minister had a going-over in the Senedd last week from Trish Law and others. The AMs were unhappy that the second phase of the Ebbw Vale reopening, the link to Newport, had yet been further delayed. Rhodri Morgan's deferment of a decision until a feasibility study was published later in the year, clearly did not satisfy them.

Keeping up the pressure for better rail transport via the Assembly is effective. However, we can do our bit, too, by joining Railfuture, a campaigning group which has a vigorous Welsh arm.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

More evidence that alcohol is too freely available

Early in this blog, there was reference to an alcohol epidemic.

Now, two news items (here and here) reinforce the message: alcoholic drinks are just too easy for children in Wales to get hold of. Nor are young people as a whole being brought up to respect alcohol.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

From Davicam to Anorak

It was hard to work out from today's House of Commons interchange whether David Cameron was really a car models nerd, or whether he had given up asking penetrating questions in favour of product placement on behalf of the Ford Motor Company.

Either way, it is fairly certain that Tony Blair would have turned the House to his side with a humorous shaft of ridicule, instead of the plodding po-faced answers which Gordon Brown gave.

Barack Obama

Two images from the 1990s came to mind .

One is of a fresh-faced politician, with a smart (in both senses of the word) and assertive wife. They were receiving the rapturous applause of a Blackpool audience who sensed - rightly - that they were on the brink of a change in their party's fortunes.

The other is of German writer/director Edgar Reitz's recreation of the Munich of thirty-five years earlier, in his TV series, "Heimat 2". In the only episode which reached the heights of the first series, the effect of the assassination of a young US president on the citizens of Munich, especially a group of friends and fellow-students, is poignantly displayed.

John F Kennedy had become not only an inspiration for his own people, but for a whole generation round the world. He, too, had a wife who had a style which broke with tradition. The Blairs - and we tend to forget this in the wake of the Iraq invasion - became pin-ups for socialists and social democrats in Europe and beyond.

Barring an incredible number of super-delegates switching their votes, Barack Obama will become the Democrat candidate for the US presidency, and his brilliant, attractive, wife Michelle the potential first lady.

There is no doubt that, if the free world had a choice, this charismatic couple would enter the White House next January, just as the Kennedys had nearly fifty years earlier.

However, Americans have a habit of resenting advice from outside the Union. The Republican contender John McCain has two great advantages, too. He has campaign money in hand, while the two Democrats have had to spend right up to the wire (and provided much negative campaign material on each other, gratis). He also has experience on his side, including experience of the real world outside the United States.

Obama has had the sense to sign up some star advisers, though, and it seems that he still has the power to attract campaign contributions. Moreover, the downside of great experience is the time spent acquiring it; the Democrats have made little secret of their intention to stress McCain's age (he is the oldest man ever to be nominated for the presidency).

There may be one more handicap for McCain in the form of a third candidate who, with a conservative platform, may take more Republican than Democrat votes.