Saturday, December 30, 2006

From Yesterday's Party to Tomorrow's Party

The leader of the future? Don't make me laugh!It really hasn't been the Liberal Democrats' year, has it? They started by brutally stabbing their leader in the chest, have had so many scandals surrounding leading figures that I've lost count and have since staggered about under their new leader, with many openly questioning whether they made the right choice and invariable speculation about a Kennedy restoration, whilst the party tries to find a direction and only gets the occasional good cheer from nasty, vicious, hypocritical local campaigning that had even some of their own ashamed of their campaign.

Not one half of a Dynamic DuoNow comes the news that three of their candidates from the last general election have joined the Conservatives. (BBC News: Lib Dem trio become Conservatives) Now the Lib Dems will try to write these three off as insignificant individuals. But amongst them is Richard Porter, who authored the Lib Dems' 2005 manifesto for the LGBT community. So do the Lib Dems consider LGBT issues to be insignificant or are they lying?

A truthful poster for the Lib DemsThe comments by the three no doubt say a lot for many still within the Liberal Democrats:

'[Richard Porter] described Lib Dem leader Menzies Campbell as a "has-been" who had put the party "in reverse gear".'

'Tariq Mahmood [said] ... the Tories "could make the NHS better". '

'John Barstow, a union steward, said his former party were "bland, formulaic and out of touch with real life".'
I'd like to welcome them all to the party and invite all Liberal Democrats who wish to be part of the real alternative to Labour to come aboard.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Livingstone vs Phillips round infinity

Ken Livingstone has attacked Trevor Phillips yet again. (BBC News: Mayor's fresh attack on Phillips) Yet again it stems from their differing views on the best way forward for equality.

Personally I find myself agreeing with Phillips the most. Multiculturalism seems to mean something different to everybody, but if policies pursued in it's name are driving communities apart and creating a divided nation then is it really helping?

A man who attacks people for media whorring and who routinely media whoresBut what really stands out is one of Livingstone's specific attacks:

"Trevor thinks he's doing his job as long as he's all over the media."
There is another politician in London whom that description fits far, far more.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Is Portillo out?

How many times has that question been asked? Well today it may need to be asked again. I just heard Portillo speaking on Radio 4 and he said that he was "not knowingly" still a member of the Conservative Party (though "there maybe a standing order somewhere").

So has the final end come for Michael Denzil Xavier Portillo? To borrow from a mispronounciation at his most infamous moment, has he proved not the Conservatives' saviour but merely their ex?

Who'll be getting this for Christmas?

I've just seen this on Mustafa Arif's blog:

Now who's going to be the first to explode with outrage?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

New twist in Loans for Lordships

An interesting article on BBC News (The Lords suitability question ) has highlighted the otherwise surprisingly overlooked point in the peerage scandal - three of the four Labour loaners nominated by Tony Blair were found to be unsuitable for peerages before the Commission found out about the loans. Meanwhile all six of the other Blair nominees were passed by the Commission.

The commission has two tests for political nominees: were they of good standing in the community, both in general terms and with regard to regulatory agencies; and would their presence in the Lords enhance or diminish the reputation of the Lords.
Is it any coincidence that every single one of the people nominated by Blair and found to be unsuitable was subsequently found to have made loans to the Labour Party? Just where was his character judgement?

And why has this point not received more media attention?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I'm going to visit my parents over Christmas and so probably won't get a chance to update this blog until after then. So I'd like to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Still no change at Oxford

A postal ballot of academics of the University of Oxford has rejected proposed changes that some claim will enable Oxford to dispel certain stereotypes. (BBC News: Oxford dons reject finance reform) So once again it's no change at Oxford.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Aren't university marketing departments fantastic? 2

My attitude to university marketing departments goes through various cycles - see my previous post Aren't university marketing departments fantastic?. Currently I'm feeling rather critical after learning that my alma mater the University of Kent is to change its logo to this:

The only good thing I can say is that at least they didn't arbitarily retitle it to "Kent University".

Thanks to Marksed - an education officer and his blog for tipping me off (see the post New Kent logo exclusive).

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Well that's the end for The Cheeky Girls!

Somehow I thought another Muppet would be more likely to end up with a pop starI never pretend to have the slightest clue about music, although I once heard The Cheeky Girls live and that was enough to last a lifetime. Why they've done so well is beyond me. But the recent news that Lembit Öpik has recently started dating Gabriela Irimia (Daily Mail: Party animal MP cheated on me with a Cheeky Girl) has left me wondering if this is the end for the pair. An association with Öpik is to success what the noise a strangled cat makes is to good music.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Is this the way to save foreign languages?

University College London has announced that it is making a GCSE in a language a compulsory requirement for all applicants from 2012. (BBC News: Languages made degree requirement) With languages no longer compulsory at GCSE the numbers taking them have plummeted. But is this really the way to try to encourage people to take them?

When I was choosing my GCSE subjects at the age of 13, the last thing on my mind was whether or not I would need a particular subject to get onto an otherwise unrelated university course at one particular university (even one that is almost within walking distance of my old school) in half a decade's time. Just who makes this choice on such a basis? Indeed who would even be aware of it?

As a last ditch attempt to save languages as a subject the motivation of UCL is laudable. But frankly this is completely the wrong level to make it at.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Can a monarch be vetoed?

Today is the seventieth anniversary of the Abdication of Edward VIII (unless you're in the Republic of Ireland, where it's tomorrow!). It was just the latest in a long line of actions that have shown that the monarchy can be flexible and overcome particularly problematic individuals that dates back to at least King Stephen and also includes King John, Henry IV, Henry VII, William III and Mary II and George I. The monarchy rapidly recovered (not least because of George VI's stand during the war) and it's only recently that the issues of the Abdication have become relevant once more.

It's often said that one of the basic points of a monarchy is that there is no choice whatsoever about the succession. But this overlooks a vast amount of precedent of both individuals and lines being passed over. Were one to follow a notion of strict male preference primogentiure then our current monarch would not be Elizabeth II but Francis II. Time and again a way has been found around a problematic individual, allowing the system on monarchy to survive.

Contrast this with France in the nineteenth century, where it wound up with a restoration putting on the throne die hards like Charles X. A legitimist succession to the Orleanist line (and ignore the Carlist line, as most legitimists did) before 1830 may have given the monarchy the stability and broader support it needed to survive, but ultimately the monarchists wound up supporting Henri, comte de Chambord, who made impossible conditions for taking the throne and ultimately wound up being the one man who made a France a permanent republic.

I rather doubt that Prince Charles will wind up being the UK's come de Chambord. But it's hard to deny that his accession is creating uncertainty. His marriage to Camilla is exactly what his great uncle was officially forced to give up the throne for (and wasn't "Duchess of Cornwall" precisely the title proposed for a non-Queen Wallis?). Now social attitudes have changed a lot in seventy years but the prospect of a Head of the Church of England being married to a divorcee is one that many find hard to accept. Traditionally the monarchy and the Established Church have reinforced one another. Could we see one bring the other down? And which?

Then there's the issue of public popularity. Whilst the newspapers seem to have restrained themselves in recent years in reporting the "Royal Soap Opera" (give or take the Daily Express obsession with Diana) the media does still retain the ability to break a public figure's credibility. Charles has fought a long battle for media, and thus public, approval and in many ways its not over yet. Can he successfully reign if he's constantly having to work like a politician to maintain popularity, in a job that is defined as not open to politicians?

But equally a lot of this would apply to William (although he also has to navigate the problems that the title "King William" will bring). A public debate and choice of "Charles or William" amounts to a limited choice republic and it would be hard to resist the logical consequence. Will the monarchy be able to weather a second storm? And what will happen to the Church of England?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

No more Labour Deputy Leaders?

It seems others share my scepticism expressed in my previous post "Is the Labour Deputy Leadership worth a pitcher of warm piss?" Several MPs are calling for the abolition of the post (BBC News: End Labour deputy post, MPs urge) arguing that the party can ill afford the election. Presumably they're also wondering just what the post does.

Oh and in case anyone's wondering why I've shifted the style of the links, it's because of a post about hyperlinks that I recently read on Mustafa Arif's blog which specifically mentioned this one. For his comments click here. ;)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Are the DUP becoming enlightened?

One of the searches that has brought someone to this blog is:

jeffrey donaldson gay

Given his outburst on Question Time last Thursday most people would seriously doubt it. But then while looking at the other results I saw a interesting post by and this image made me laugh:

Somehow I doubt Ian Paisley would approve...

Friday, December 01, 2006

November on this blog

Yes it's that time of the month again, time for a look at the stats for this blog. Once more earlier stats can be found at the pages for February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September and October.

First off the sites most people come from:

  1. GuardianUnlimitedBlogs (NEW)
  2. Google (-1)
  3. Mars Hill (-1)
  4. (+1)
  5. Educationet Messageboard (RE-ENTRY)
  6. Jo Salmon (-2)
  7. (NEW)
  8. Cllr Iain Lindley's Diary (-5)
  9. Cally's Kitchen (-1)
  10. Wikipedia (NEW)
Dropping out of the top ten are Ulster Young Unionist Council (at 12, down 6), Antonia Bance (at 13, down 4), Mark Clarke: Conservative Future Chairman (at 16, down 9) and Iain Dale's Diary (at 28, down 18). Compared to last month it's been quite a shake-up. No less than three of the new/re-entry sites have been linking direct to my post about the Christian Union/Students' Union controversies, which as you might guess has also been the single most read individual page on the site. (However I don't normally provide stats for individual page views because many people read the posts either on the front page or through Facebook.)

Then we have the top ten search engine requests that brought people here:

  1. what does your birthday say about you (-)
  2. tim roll-pickering (-)
  3. laura blomeley (-)
  4. 'john nye' radley (NEWish - he was somewhere at the bottom last time)
  5. mp before 1945 election, john profumo (NEW)
  6. london borough of sutton postcode change (NEW)
  7. cornwallis building collapse (NEW)
  8. millwall loonies rotterdam (RE-ENTRY)
  9. kennedy assassination and "caroline hunt" (RE-ENTRY)
  10. kish queen mary college (NEW)
As ever a mixture of brand new terms and some ongoing ones. Not many outright strange terms amongst the others though - only this raised an eyebrow:

Don't count on it!

Finally as ever we have a list of all the cities detected that people are in):


Thank you all for reading!


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