Showing posts from September, 2011

If Miliband took a truth drug

A superb article in the Indy this week by Matthew Norman, which you can read in it's entirety here , about the speech which Ed Miliband might have made to Labour party conference had he taken a truth serum. Highlights from the article: "Three minutes and 45 seconds into Ed Miliband's speech yesterday, my mind wandered off to a fantasy world in which some mischievous sprite had spiked his larynx-lubricating Evian with a truth serum." "Conference," intoned Little Ed in the escapist grotto of my mind, "you'll have read that this is the most important speech of my life ... "It couldn't matter less. Outside this hall and a few newsrooms, think-tanks and blogger's bedrooms, not a soul is listening to a word I say. "Yet irrelevance is what defines any Leader of the Opposition so early in the life of a government the public has clearly decided to give a fair chance. That same public has also decided that it can no more picture me grinning

Labour views of the Labour conference

On Political Betting this week Labour supporter Henry G Manson had some interesting comments on his party's conference. Some of them were as follows: "This was a bad Labour Party conference. It was confusing, contradictory, let the government off the hook and needlessly created an array of hostages to fortune. It all the feel of an emergency party conference arranged with a fortnight’s notice – not a platform planned carefully to showcase an alternative government and Prime Minister. "This week wasn’t just a car crash. It was a 30 car pile-up. I could write 10,000 on words on what went wrong. For now here’s my summary from a Labour perspective. We now have: • A leader who certainly does not look like a Prime Minister. If a first impression wasn’t already formed by the voters then it has this week. If the speech was composed and delivered with the intention of demonstrating his weaknesses over his strengths then it succeeded. He’s a nice guy but he’s out of his depth and

A Euro fantasy reverses itself

I was amused to hear the President of the European Commission tell the European Parliament today that it had been a fantasy to imagine that you could have a single currency and single market without a single economic policy. Funnily enough, a few years ago when there was a serious debate in Britain about whether we should scrap the pound, it was those of us who wanted to keep the pound who made exactly that point. Those who were arguing that you could join the euro without having a common european policy would be found on the side who were arguing that Britain should join. It’s because it would have meant too big a loss of economic independence that we wanted to stay out, and are glad that we did.

Planning reforms will NOT make gypsy camps easier

Hat tip to Conservative Home for pointing out one of the flaws in The Daily Telegraph's campaign against the Government's planning reforms, specifically the claim that they would make it harder for local councils to stop traveller sites being established. Not so says Bob Neill, Minister for Local Government: "Top-down targets for traveller sites undermined local discretion and turned a blind eye to unauthorised development, harming community cohesion. The Coalition Government is scrapping the previous Government's planning rules on traveller sites and issuing explicit new planning guidance which increases protection of the Green Belt and open countryside. Stronger weight is being given to protection of local amenity and the local environment. And through the Localism Bill, councils are being given tougher enforcement powers to tackle the abuse of the system." Localism means councils choosing whether or not to allow these sites. To say it means a "new legal ro

Ideas and Paradox

Thinking about some of the misplaced opposition to nuclear power recently provoked a line of thought about how often you find people holding combinations of views which you would not expect to find together. Sometimes the combinations are counterintuitive but fall short of a direct contradiction. Sometimes people manage to believe things which are directly incompatible. Here are a few examples 1) SUPPORT FOR ABORTION AND OPPOSITION TO THE DEATH PENALTY (or vice versa) As the "New Scientist" once put it, "The people who think human life is sacred before birth are often the same people who think it isn't after the age of criminal responsibility." It is by no means an exact match, but it is surprising how many people who think it is wrong for the state to execute convicted murderers also come out towards the "pro" end of the spectrum on state provision of abortion on demand, and equally surprising how many people who are towards the "anti" end

Boundary Commission proposals for Cumbria

The independent Boundary Commission has now published proposals for new parliamentary constituencies, and these will be open to public consultation for the next 12 weeks, until 5th December 2011. The proposals for Cumbria, and consultation arrangements, are given below. (Paragraph numbers are from the North West proposals document, from which this is an extract.) Initial proposals for the Cumbria sub-region 88. There are currently six constituencies in this sub-region, none of which has an electorate within 5% of the electoral quota. The electorates of all the existing constituencies in this county are substantially lower than the electoral quota. It was not therefore possible to leave any existing constituency boundary unchanged. 89. As mentioned previously, we propose to allocate five constituencies to this subregion, a reduction of one from the current arrangement. When developing proposals, we noted that our options were limited due both to the large geographical but small electora

Ten Years On

There are certain iconic events in each generation that everyone remembers - for my parent's generation it was when JFK was shot, for mine the most significant was the murderous attack on the twin towers ten years ago today. It is important that we should never forget the events of that day. About three thousand innocent people were murdered for no better reason than that they happened to be working in a building which to the perpetrators was a symbol of things they disapproved of, or were rescue workers who tried to save the lives of people in that building, or were on the civilian airplanes which were hijacked to crash into those buildings. The victims were male and female, young and old, citizens of many different countries (including about a hundred British people), undoubtedly included people of possible political viewpoint (from those who had voted for George W Bush to those who despised everything he stood for) and certainly did include every possible religious viewpoint (fr

Time to batten down

West Cumbria may get 80 mph winds today. Have been out in the garden removing or fastening down anything which was at risk of literally blowing away. If you'r reading this on 11th September 2011 and are in Whitehaven or West Cumbria, I strongly advise you to check that there is nothing in your garden which you wouldn't miss if this happenened. You probably don't need me to tell you that when it blows here, it really blows.