Saturday, March 31, 2007

Isn't Freema Agyeman fantastic?

Freema Agyeman as Martha JonesI've just seen seen Smith and Jones, the first episode of the new season of Doctor Who. And already I think Freema Agyeman is fantastically cast as Martha Jones.

Otherwise the episode was a reasonable opener, though I suspect that once again the best of the season is yet to come. And is it me or did anyone else think the monsters were a resign of the Sontarans when they first saw them?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Congratulations Sam!

This week saw the annual conference of the National Union of Students, including the elections for the coming year's National Executive Committee. I'd just like to say especial congratulations to my friend Sam Rozati, who came within five votes of becoming the next National Treasurer, surpassing everyone's expectations, and was elected to the part-time "Block of Twelve".

In my first, and possibly last, contribution to online television, I gave the following piece of analysis mid Conference. At the time the result for National President had been declared, the result for National Secretary was known but all we knew about National Treasurer was that it had gone to a recount. So here's a mid Election Night style commentary, courtesy of

Yes, well... itself is the latest in the ever growing number of internet TV channels, offering special student coverage.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Is first past the post a core belief of Conservatism?

Over on ConservativeHome: YourPlatform article - Christine Constable: When will Conservatives demonstrate their loyalty to the English?, a comment has been left:

Labour do indeed have a majority of seats in England but less votes cast for them than the Conservatives(2005 election). That's not a mandate to discriminate against the English in my book.
But the Conservative Party has long defended the first past the post voting system. Whilst I have no knowledge about the individual commenter's history on election systems, it would be fundamentally hypocritical to back a system and then rage against consequences of it. Also the Conservatives have never had the largest share of the vote in Wales, have not done so in Scotland for a long time and the last time the largest share of votes in Northern Ireland went to candidates pledged to take the Conservative whip was in 1970. That didn't stop the party governing the entire United Kingdom on many occasions.

But does conservatism ideologically prescribe a preferred voting system? Several years ago when I expressed surprise about the way the Conservative Future elections were done, I was bluntly told "We are Conservatives, we believe in first past the post" by one of the then executive members. It was one of those moments that show how often party youth wings can turn party positions into near orthodox religion. (Another came yesterday when doing some searching on LexisNexis I came across the case of the leaders of Oxford University Conservative Association denouncing advocates of voluntary student unionism as socialists! This was because it wasn't party policy!)

The Conservative Future case was also telling as in practice at the time the chairperson and executive elections weren't carried out by full first past the post, but rather by a limited system of elimination ballots, whereby an initial vote by just the executive members and the area chairpersons would vote, with only the top three candidates for national chairperson and the top ten for the six executive members going to the full membership. The whole system was frankly absurd - since only about twelve to fourteen candidates stood, ordinary CF members were told they weren't trusted to vote from twelve, but had to have the list whittled down to ten for them. (Similarly it was notable to have any more than four chairperson candidates.) With only a few candidates going to be eliminated in the first round, it rapidly turned into a process to try to tactically eliminate rival candidates and factions. (Some of the coverage of the early CF days in the LexisNexis archive suggests that this was always the intention.) It also did nothing to tackle the belief that CF was a clique. And with many candidates escaping elimination by only one or two votes (one candidate is to this day still known as "One Vote" because by only voting for himself he escaped the chop) the poor distribution of ballot papers was often highlighted and thought suspicious. Wisely the elimination round was scrapped in 2004.

Throughout the party there are a lot of places where the supposed absolute Conservative belief in first past the post is distinctly lacking. Let's just take two cases - candidate selection and the election of the party leader.

Candidate selection is not done on a simple first past the post ballot but a series of stages variously involving the selection committee and the full membership, with a series of elimination ballots. For one example, take a look at ConservativeHome Seats & Candidates: James Cleverly set to succeed Bob Neill at GLA, especially the video of the final selection meeting.

The leadership election has gone through several incarnations since 1965, but one of the constant features has been that the eventually elected leader must have at least half the votes cast in the final ballot, again with elimination ballots to reduce the number of candidates (and also in recent years denying the membership a full choice of everyone who stands). If it was a core principle of conservatism that first past the post is the perfect election system then I would have had the chance to vote for either Liam Fox or Kenneth Clarke, as well as for David Cameron or David Davis.

This leads to the age old debates about what voting system should be used for Westminster (and other elections in the UK). Now I'll be honest - there are a lot of people on all sides of the debate on proportional representation who have more than half an eye on the likely results for their own party. But I also think that too often parties' basic philosophies get overlooked. Practically all discussions about voting systems ultimately revolve around the degree of importance given to factors such as individual representation, stable government, simplicity for voters, the ease with which a government can be rejected and so forth. Is it surprising that an individualist party that believes in strong, stable clear-cut government favours a system that delivers this in this country?

Of course what works in one country doesn't necessarily work in others. First past the post has been proposed in referendums a couple of times in the Republic of Ireland but always rejected. Most reckon that if adopted it would permanently entrench a Fianna Fáil majority in the Dáil. In India it has been difficult for a single party or alliance to secure a majority at times, at one point having three elections in as many years. And in some African countries first past the post has reinforced single party government.

In this country for much of our history there has been more than one party that had a realistic chance of winning an overall Commons majority under first past the post. Indeed recent analyses and studies that suggested that it would take something like a 9% Conservative lead just to deprive Labour of a majority and that a Conservative majority may never be won again did lead to a lot of people (myself included) seriously reassessing our views on voting systems. Were we being opportunist? Or were we staying true to the principles of government that can be rejected by the electorate, and merely reconsidering the method of delivery?

And of course there are parts of the country where first past the post has historically worked against the Conservatives - most notably Wales and Scotland, where it has taken the additional member system top-up lists to deliver anything more than a micro parliamentary party in each of the devolved parliaments. When they have the power to do so, will the Welsh Conservatives/Ceidwadwyr Cymreig or the Scottish Conservatives change the system to one that would entrench permanent Labour control?

With a lot speculating about a hung House of Commons, with the prospect of the Liberal Democrats making electoral reform their blackmail for allowing government to function smoothly, to say nothing of the recent Commons vote for an all-elected House of Lords, the issue of proportional representation won't go away. Ever more Conservatives will be forced to work out whether their support for first past the post is rooted in principles or in mere party advantage.

Clock changing

No this post isn't a contribution to the endless debate about whether we should adopt Central European Time, with all the Cross Channel and Cross Atlantic issues rehashed.

I just want to know how the change in the clocks just passed me by - I've seen nothing about it and it was only when my computer told me that it had automatically updated that I realised.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The redundancy the NHS still needs

Since my post nearly a year ago (The redundancy the NHS needs) Patricia Hewitt has continued to fail to understand the NHS and morale is still low. It has reached the point that doctors are in despair.

*BBC News: Senior DoH staff 'dissatisfied'
*ITV News: Junior doctors in jobs protests
*Yorkshire Post: Hewitt defends doctor recruitment system
*BBC News: 'I'm leaving the NHS for New Zealand'

And just look at the reaction to her name at this protest about the mess that is the Medical Training and Application System:

So it comes as no surprise that doctors have started a petition for the redundancy of this redundant minister:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Remove Patricia Hewitt from the office of Health Secretary.

The number of health workers signing so far is very telling.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The UK's declaration of surrender in Europe

Caroline has posted a copy of an unofficial video to go with the UK's entry in the Eurovision Song Contest. (Caroline Hunt: Flying the Flag) Clearly the country wants to help the BBC by sparing it the cost of hosting the next Eurovision (remember what happened to RTE when Ireland kept winning?). So we've gone for a dead cert loser:

Monday, March 19, 2007

Petition to scrap ID cards

Just a quick post to note the campaign just launched by Conservative Future to scrap ID cards. Check it out, especially for Boris Johnson's comments about what he do with a compulsory card.

Join Boris

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The fringe nutters of student politics

Normally I would avoid giving such views the oxygen of publicity but the Student "RESPECT" group have released a campaign video on YouTube for the forthcoming National Union of Students elections. And it shows just why they never get elected:

Now I don't wish to denigrate the anti-war movement. I believe that most people in it are good well meaning people, and like them I opposed the Iraq War. (I do, however, disagree with the idea of an immediate pull out of Iraq as I believe this will only make the situation even worse and the chaos will spread into other countries.)

But what I cannot understand is why a small (let's be clear about this - the likes of Student "RESPECT" are in no way anywhere near the mainstream of those involved in student politics) but determined group routinely seem to think it is the role of students' unions and the national student bodies to go trying to change the country's foreign policy. All it does is harm both the organisations and the activists' causes. The students' unions/NUS wind up looking ridiculous even for obsessing with issues not of direct relevance to students as students, and thus undermining their ability to be effective on matters more within their remit, whilst the activists wind up wasting their efforts and energies trying to hijack the student movement, when they could be a darn sight more effective in joining the campaign directly.

So I say this directly to Student "RESPECT": If you think the most important matter is putting an end to the Iraq War, stop wasting time trying to capture students' unions and the NUS and go and it spend it campaigning against it. You are far more likely to win support for the cause if you do this, than by seeking to divert organisations established with other purposes. The Stop The War campaign bodies are the best vehicles for stopping the war. Students' unions and the national student bodies are best at focusing on the issues that directly affect students, and for which there are no other vehicles. Don't destroy one in a counter-productive attempt to seek support for the other. Use each body for what it is there for.

And for the rest of the world, please don't ever assume that Student "RESPECT" is typical of students. Hardly any students' union election is ever won on a manifesto such as this.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I'd just like to wish all my Irish readers a very happy St. Patrick's Day.

Thanks to A Tangled Web: Plastic Paddy Ignorance for a copy of the flag:

More information about the history of the day itself can be found at Wikipedia: Saint Patrick's Day.

There are some particularly interesting comments about the way the day is celebrated in some countries on the talk page:

As a native-born Irishman, a lot of the paddywhackery, especially American paddywhackery, associated with Saint Patrick's Day makes me want to puke. For one thing, no one in Ireland--except for certain entertainers, whose livelihood is gained by pandering to the expectations of green-clad Americans--would ever say "Saint Paddy's Day." It should be remembered that the first to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in America were Protestant "gentlemen," who dined at various good-quality inns; they wore the color blue, that color being then associated with the Feast.

The British government encouraged the celebration of Saint Patrick's Day as a "national day," because (at least, at the time) it had religious rather that political--i.e. rebel--connotations. Trooping the Colors at Dublin Castle was the annual contribution of the British authorities. It was essential to reinforce the ideology that even the "mere Irish" were happiest when serving their British overlords.

In New York, the parade was soon taken over by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, a right-wing, (some would say Fundamentalist), and certainly male chauvinist Catholic organization, who wanted to define for themselves what constituted "Irishness," an ethos very much removed from that of today's Irish population, as evidenced by the opposition to gays and lesbians. Seen from outside, their conception of "Irishness" is closer to that of the 19th century than to that of the Ireland of today.

But, in the United States, apart from the ridiculous practice of dressing up in green, the most odious aspect of St. Patrick's Day is the apparent license it gives to all to drink to excess. (The term "drowning the shamrock" comes from the tradition of the "Protestant gentlemen" putting their shamrock in the glass when the last toast was drunk.) When I was a child in Ireland, the day was celebrated primarily as a religious holiday, with obligatory attendance at Mass for Catholics. In those days, the public houses were shut on St. Patrick's Day. Even this year (2006), the off-licenses (liquor stores) were requested not to open until 4:00 pm, a request that was largely honored. The parade, during my childhood, was an industrial parade, intended to show Ireland's merits as a base for industry--another idea from Taoiseach (prime minister) Seán Lemass, intended to improve Ireland's miserable economy.

However, in the United States, those who would be Irish consider the day as a "National Let's-All Get-As-Drunk-As-We-Can Day." Greeting cards, including ecards on the Net, are laden with the stereotype of Irish drunks; no other ethnic group in the United States would condone this practice, which can often quickly lead to racial slur.--PeadarMaguidhir 11:13, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
An interesting perspective on how a day of tradition and veneration has been bastardised in the US to become an excuse for a piss-up.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

With St. Patrick's Day looming

St. Patrick's Day is looming once again and following a similar post last year by Hot Ginger and Dynamite: Focáil leat Lawlor, this leads me to wonder what party I would support if I were in the Republic of Ireland.

It's not as easy as it sounds. None of the main parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, are clearly defined ideologically in a left-right sense. For supporters of other parties this isn't so difficult - there are direct counterparts of both Labour and the Greens, although both are smaller. There's also a party that unashamedly calls itself a Liberal party and has the same international affiliations as the Liberal Democrats, namely the Progressive Democrats, although they're considerably to the right of our Lib Dems. "Very Orange Book" is perhaps the best way to sum it up.

A Eurosceptic, free market Atlanticist Conservative who feels tough on law and order could thus look at the various parties and be left confused (there is no Irish affiliate to most of the international bodies that the UK Conservative Party is a member of). But some parties stand out more than others.

There is an interesting test online at Political Party Chooser - Republic of Ireland and my results are as follows:

1. Progressive Democrats.
2. Greens
3. Fine Gael
4. Labour
5. Fianna Fáil
6. Sinn Féin

And indeed looking at their policies on their website and public statements, particularly the tone of Michael McDowell on Sinn Féin, the PDs are probably the party I would plump for.

But what does everyone else get?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Is London doomed?

Here I come to destroy the day!Lembit Öpik has been touted as a possible Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London. (Liberal England: London Lembit?) Now I don't claim to be the world's greatest expert on geography, but the last time I look Öpik's Montgomeryshire constituency was in the middle of Wales and hardly anywhere in Greater London. Let's look again, courtesy of Liberal Democrat Voice: Lembit for London:

It's not exactly Zone 6 is it?

A report the other week in the Shropshire Star said:

Opik for mayor? Unlikely

Liberal Democrats today dismissed as "highly unlikely" a report that Montgomeryshire MP Lembit Öpik might bid to become the party’s candidate for London Mayor next year.

The report suggested that the Mid Wales MP was being touted as candidate for the job of trying to unseat Labour's Ken Livingstone.

It said that his entry into the race would "liven the contest up" and would not harm his parliamentary career if he performed well.

A colleague was quoted in the Daily Express as saying: "The party is keen to have someone well known with charisma to stand for the job, and that's certainly true of Lembit." The contest for the Lib Dem candidacy has just been advertised.

Would-be candidates have until the end of March to put in their applications.

Party chiefs will draw up a shortlist of names to be announced on April 9, and ballots will go out to all London members before the winner is announced at the end of May.

A party spokesman said applications had only just been invited, but an application from Mr Öpik was thought "highly unlikely".

The MP hit the headlines recently after ending his long-term partnership with TV weather girl Sian Lloyd and striking up a relationship with Cheeky Girl Gabriela Irimia.
Well that's a relief. For a moment I was worried that an association with Lembit would mean London was going to get hit by an asteroid.

Ellee Seymour - live and dangerous

For those of you who haven't yet seen it, there is a site on the internet showing whether or not you own website is banned in China. (Great Firewall of China)

Ellee Seymour reports that she is banned. (Ellee Seymour: Why is my blog banned in China?) Clearly her output is unacceptable to the authorities there.

This blog isn't blocked (yet), so I'd like to say that the Chinese government is a despicable regime that is too cowardly to let its citizens find things out for themselves. Very soon the day will come when it is finally overthrown.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The best news from Northern Ireland

Bob McCartney, UK Unionist Party leader, and His Ego are


(BBC News: UKUP leader loses North Down seat)

Why we should not automatically support the US Republicans

It'll be a short while before I catch up on everything in the blogosphere, but one post that has caught my eye is Caroline Hunt: Why I Find It Hard to Like Republicans. Calling spades spades, she sees briefly sets out what's wrong with many of them, especially Ann Coulter. It's well said!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Northern Ireland Assembly elections

Unfortunately my research today is keeping me from the internet, so my only source of information until this evening will be the BBC's text service of results.

Being an STV election it will take some time to determine the eventual composition of the new Assembly, and based on past elections the count could last into the evening tomorrow. Most of the hotly contested seats will be determined on transfers so even with the initial first preference results it won't be possible to determine some of them.

But my early revised predictions and thoughts on some constituencies in what has turned out to be a rather quiet election, at times drifting away from the constitutional issues and into other areas on policy:

First off I have a suspicion the UUP are going to do a lot worse than anyone's predicting. Opinion polls are notoriously useless in the province, massively overstating the UUP/SDLP vote at the expense of DUP/Sinn Fein, but when the UUP are polling only 16% then either they've become a party that no-one wants to admit voting for or a party that's running on empey big time.

Belfast West

It seems increasingly likely that the DUP will retain their seat here, against four for Sinn Fein and one for the SDLP. This particular election saw an interesting development that may either delight those who hope for the day when major parties compete for votes in all communities or run in horror. Both the UUP and DUP candidates took out adverts in the Anderstown News, pitching directly at the Nationalist/Roman Catholic community. The UUP advert was rather flat but at least positive reasons to vote for him (even if not very strong or convincing ones) but the DUP advert was a declaration that their candidate is anti-abortion, opposes "Peter Hain's anti-family agenda" (i.e. civil partnerships and equality legislation) and that Sinn Fein and the SDLP supported it. The DUP's record on homophobia is well known (the "Save Ulster from Sodomy" campaign, the expulsion of Paul Berry and so forth) but is it really in Northern Ireland's best interests for old community divides to be bridged in the name of new hate campaigns?

Predict: Sinn Fein 4, SDLP 1, DUP 1

Belfast East

On paper everything points to the DUP gaining a third seat at the expense of the PUP. And yet... There's a possibility that history could repeat itself for at least a fourth time. The DUP have a long history of vote mismanagement in this constituency, regardless of whether they try balancing the vote between candidates or piling it all up on their favourite (Peter Robinson). And with UUP leader Sir Reg Empey seeking re-election in this constituency, Robinson will probably not want to be outpolled by him (from recollection he last lost to Empey in 1975) in the run-up to the eventual DUP leadership election. I'm not saying for certain that things will foul up on the DUP again, but this is not a constituency that always meets even first round predictions.

Predict: Hmm... let's stay with my previous DUP 3, UUP 2, Alliance 1

South Antrim

The SDLP nominated two candidates to defend their single seat and the long running feud between them has burst out into the open, with fierce campaigning by each candidate on the other's lawn and front page headlines in the local paper. Everyone was wondering if Sinn Fein's Mitchell McLaughlin or Alliance leader David Ford would see the end of their careers, but with the SDLP turning in on itself (plus the DUP urging their supporters to transfer to Ford to keep Sinn Fein out) it seems as though both men will fight another day.

Predict: DUP 2, UUP 2, Alliance 1, Sinn Fein 1

West Tyrone

Reports are circulating that Kieran Deeny has been fighting on additional issues to the hospital. This strategy has worked for independents in the Republic (although party loyalty amongst voters is looser there) but could be the final thrashings of a man facing defeat?

Predict: Sinn Fein 3, SDLP 1, DUP 1, UUP 1

North Down

This is looking interesting, if not confusing. The UUP seem to be in dire straights and may be down to a single seat. This in turn could release a lot of votes to go in new directions. Meanwhile Bob McCartney's UKUP is reportedly invisible on the ground - this could be his last hurrah. I think we'll see at least one new party in the Assembly.

Predict: Confusion and another very long count.

And now to the results information coming in:

14:01 No-one elected yet, but both the DUP and Sinn Fein saying they've polled strongly and are expecting games.

14:53 East Belfast - Peter Robinson (DUP Deputy Leader elected) - no surprise. More interestingly Naomi Long appears to have been elected on the first count, indicating an upturn in the Alliance vote. Given that in recent years the UUP have made their main vote gains from Alliance (amidst losses elsewhere), this could spell a reversion and doom. Note that Sir Reg Empey hasn't yet been elected - not an encouraging sign for the UUP. (It does, however, mean that Robinson can face the DUP leadership election with the boast of having personally beaten the UUP leader at least seven times running.) The other interesting question is whether or not Dawn Purvis can retain the PUP seat here. Long's first count election potentially frees up some transfers and surpluses that might now go to Purvis. But I'm sceptical it will be enough.

Also reported is that Bob McCartney (UKUP leader) "looks like losing his North Down seat." I don't know if this indicates yet another first count with no-one elected in North Down (last time it took twelve rounds before anyone was elected!) but it's a promising sign (and will have people of all political persuasions cheering). McCartney has stood in five other constituencies but mainly those where neither his party nor independent anti-St Andrews Agreement Unionists were fielding anyone else (and that still left a few seats without any such candidate) so I doubt he'll be able to crawl back in in one of those.

15:54 Several more results come in, all on the first count.

North Belfast: Nigel Dodds (DUP) and Gerry Kelly (Sinn Fein) both elected. No real surprises here. The voting figures will give an indication as to how far the Sinn Fein vote will have to rise before Dodds's Westminster seat becomes vulnerable.
South Belfast: Jimmy Spratt (DUP) becomes the first new member of the Assembly. The DUP are widely tipped to gain a second seat here so this is an encouraging sign for them. Alasdair McDonnell (SDLP Deputy Leader) has also been elected first count. However the SDLP vote hasn't always been strong enough for two quotas here and as the local MP McDonnell may have taken the bulk of the votes so without numbers it remains to be seen how well his running mate is doing.
West Belfast: Gerry Adams (Sinn Fein leader) elected. No real surprise.

Seats: DUP 3, Sinn Fein 2, SDLP 1, Alliance 1, Others 0.

16:26 Some results from outside Belfast.

Lagan Valley: Jeffrey Donaldson (DUP) elected first count.
East Londonderry: Gregory Campbell (DUP) elected first count.

No real surprises here.

Seats: DUP 5, Sinn Fein 2, SDLP 1, Alliance 1, Others 0.

17:16 More first count results:

North Antrim: Ian Paisley (snr) (DUP leader) and D. McKary (Sinn Fein) elected. Since Sinn Fein only ran one candidate, due to particularly strong opposition to the St Andrews Agreement within their North Antrim party, it isn't really a surprise that their candidate was elected so quickly.

North Down: A. Easton (DUP). Now here's a surprise - one would have expected the DUP to be pushing Peter Weir for the most votes in preparation for an assault on the Westminster seat next time round.

East Antrim: Sammy Wilson (DUP). No surprise.

Seats: DUP 8, Sinn Fein 3, SDLP 1, Alliance 1, Others 0.

The UUP have still to win a seat. One of the problems is their consistent over nomination, particularly standing three candidates in many constituencies where they are facing a struggle to retain two seats. Without the numbers they may well be balancing for all I know, but right now UUP morale can't be high.

17:59 More results, with some moving into second counts.

West Tyrone: Pat Doherty (Sinn Fein), Barry McElduff (Sinn Fein) both first count. This suggests a strengthening of their vote as they seek to take a third seat.

Newry & Armagh: Conor Murphy (Sinn Fein) and C Boylan (Sinn Fein) both first count. Again it's a sign that they should hold their third seat (wich the SDLP had been hoping to take from them).

North Belfast: C Nm Chuilmn (Sinn Fein) second count. On this limited information I guess the DUP vote is balancing well and they will take a third seat at the expense of the UUP.

Seats: DUP 8, Sinn Fein 8, SDLP 1, Alliance 1, Others 0.

18:41 Ever more results

Mid Ulster: Martin McGuinness (Sinn Fein), Ian McCrea (DUP), Francie Molloy (Sinn Fein) M O'Neill (DUP) all first count. No surprise as Sinn Fein only ran three candidates despite having potential to start building for a future fourth seat, potential that could have been derailed by anti-policing Republicans.

North Antrim: Ian "Babydoc" Paisley Jnr (DUP) second count. Like father like son.

East Belfast: Sir Reg Empey (UUP leader). Finally a UUP seat

Seats: DUP 10, Sinn Fein 11, SDLP 1, Alliance 1, UUP 1, Others 0.


South Antrim: Mitchell McLaughlin (Sinn Fein), Willie McCrea (DUP). The first clear gain and an incredible result for Sinn Fein - they've been struggling for years in this seat. Now it remains to be seen if David Ford (Alliance leader) will be losing out.

Foyle: Mark Durkan (SDLP leader), William Hay (DUP).

Strangford: Iris Robinson (DUP).

Upper Bann: David Simpson (DUP).

West Belfast: Sue Ramsay (Sinn Fein).

Fermanagh & South Tyrone: Tom Elliott (UUP).

All fairly predictable, though interesting to note the UUP is still fighting in Fermanagh & South Tyrone.

Seats: DUP 13, Sinn Fein 13, SDLP 2, Alliance 1, UUP 2, Others 0.

As I'm now on the net, I'll be able to access the full figures now.

East Antrim:
Candidate Party Status Count Votes* %
Sammy Wilson DUP Elected 1 6,755 22.5
George Dawson DUP Elected 2 4,167 13.9
Sean Neeson AP 3,114 10.4
Roy Beggs UUP 3,076 10.2
David Hilditch DUP Elected 3 2,732 9.1
Ken Robinson UUP 1,881 6.3
Danny O'Connor SDLP 1,769 5.9
Stewart Dickson AP 1,624 5.4
Mark Dunn UUP 1,617 5.4
Oliver McMullan SF 1,168 3.9
Tom Robinson UKUP 731 2.4
Mark Bailey GP 612 2.0
John Anderson IND Eliminated 4 398 1.3
Tim Lewis Con 395 1.3
Total valid vote 30,039 53.0
Turnout 30,293 53.5

No real surprises here, although the growth in the Sinn Fein vote is notable.

Same prediction: 3 DUP, 2 UUP, 1 Alliance

Belfast East:

Candidate Party Status Count Votes* %
Peter Robinson DUP Elected 1 5,635 19.0
Naomi Long AP Elected 1 5,583 18.8
Reg Empey UUP Elected 3 4,139 14.0
Wallace Browne DUP 3,185 10.7
Dawn Purvis PUP 3,045 10.3
Robin Newton DUP 2,335 7.9
Michael Copeland UUP 1,557 5.3
Niall Ó'Donnghaile SF 1,055 3.6
Jim Rodgers UUP 820 2.8
Mary Muldoon SDLP 816 2.8
Steve Agnew GP 653 2.2
Glyn Chambers Con Eliminated 5 427 1.4
Tommy Black Soc Eliminated 5 225 0.8
Joe Bell WP Eliminated 5 107 0.4
Rainbow George MPH Eliminated 5 47 0.2
Total valid vote 29,629 59.5
Turnout 29,873 60.0

If the DUP have learnt how to balance they should win three seats. But amazingly the PUP have bounced back and Dawn Purvis is in with a fighting chance. The UUP vote is dire in the leader's constituency and it looks like they will be the losers.

New prediction: 3 DUP, 1 UUP, 1 Alliance, 1 PUP

East Londonderry:

Candidate Party Status Count Votes* %
Gregory Campbell DUP Elected 1 6,845 20.2
Francie Brolly SF 4,476 13.2
George Robinson DUP 3,991 11.8
David McClarty UUP 2,875 8.5
Adrian McQuillan DUP 2,650 7.8
John Dallat SDLP 2,538 7.5
Billy Leonard SF 2,321 6.8
Norman Hillis UUP 2,054 6.1
Orla Beattie SDLP 1,797 5.3
Barney Fitzpatrick AP 1,401 4.1
Edwin Stevenson UUP 1,338 3.9
Leslie Cubitt UKUP 649 1.9
Phillippe Moison GP 521 1.5
Michael McGonigle IND Eliminated 2 393 1.2
Victor Love Christie IND Eliminated 2 73 0.2
Total valid vote 33,922 60.5
Turnout 34,180 60.9

Two battles still to be resolved - will Sinn Fein take the SDLP seat? My guess is no. Will the DUP take the second UUP seat? It seems very likely.

New prediction: DUP 3, UUP 1, SF 1, SDLP 1

Fermanagh & South Tyrone:

Candidate Party Status Count Votes* %
Arlene Foster DUP Elected 1 7,138 15.4
Michelle Gildernew SF Elected 1 7,026 15.1
Tom Elliott UUP Elected 2 6,603 14.2
Gerry McHugh SF 5,103 11.0
Sean Lynch SF 4,704 10.1
Maurice Morrow DUP 4,700 10.1
Tommy Gallagher SDLP 4,440 9.6
Kenny Donaldson UUP 2,531 5.4
Vincent Currie SDLP 2,043 4.4
Gerry McGeough IND 814 1.8
Allan Leonard AP 521 1.1
Michael McManus IND 431 0.9
Robert McCartney UKUP 388 0.8
Total valid vote 46,442 70.6
Turnout 46,845 71.2

Quota 6,635 Electorate 65,826

I must have missed the text with Foster and Gildernew's election. On the Unionist side the DUP will take a second seat thanks to Foster's defection. On the nationalist side things are looking awfully tight for the SDLP - by running two candidates they may have split the vote and it won't necessarily reunify. There may, however, be some Unionist transfers floating about that could help them.

Same prediction: 2 SF, 2 DUP, 1 UUP, 1 SDLP


Candidate Party Status Count Votes* %
William Hay DUP Elected 1 6,960 17.0
Mark Durkan SDLP Elected 1 6,401 15.6
Martina Anderson SF 5,414 13.2
Raymond McCartney SF 4,321 10.5
Pat Ramsey SDLP 3,242 7.9
Lynn Fleming SF 2,914 7.1
Mary Bradley SDLP 2,891 7.0
Helen Quigley SDLP 2,648 6.5
Eamonn McCann SEA 2,045 5.0
Peggy O'Hara IND 1,789 4.4
Peter Munce UUP 1,755 4.3
Adele Corry GP Eliminated 2 359 0.9
Yvonne Boyle AP Eliminated 2 224 0.5
Willie Frazer IND Eliminated 2 73 0.2
Total valid vote 41,036 63.2
Turnout 41,455 63.9

Unless things go very wrong for them in the transfers, the SDLP should keep their third seat.

Same prediction: SDLP 3, SF 2, DUP 1

Lagan Valley:

Candidate Party Status Count Votes* %
Jeffrey Donaldson DUP Elected 1 9,793 23.4
Paul Butler SF Elected 6 5,098 12.2
Basil McCrea UUP 4,031 9.6
Trevor Lunn AP 3,765 9.0
Jonathan Craig DUP 3,471 8.3
Edwin Poots DUP 3,457 8.3
Paul Givan DUP 3,377 8.1
Marietta Farrell SDLP Eliminated 5 2,839 6.8
Billy Bell UUP Eliminated 6 2,599 6.2
Ronnie Crawford UUP Eliminated 4 1,147 2.7
Michael Rogan GP Eliminated 4 922 2.2
Robert McCartney UKUP Eliminated 3 853 2.0
Neil Johnston Con Eliminated 2 387 0.9
John Magee WP Eliminated 2 83 0.2
Total valid vote 41,822 59.7
Turnout 42,058 60.0

Quite an advanced count by the time I accessed these results. It's clear:

New prediction: 3 DUP, 1 SF, 1 UUP, 1 Alliance

Mid Ulster:

Candidate Party Status Count Votes* %
Martin McGuinness SF Elected 1 8,065 18.2
Ian McCrea DUP Elected 1 7,608 17.2
Francie Molloy SF Elected 1 6,597 14.9
Michelle O'Neill SF Elected 2 6,432 14.5
Patsy McGlone SDLP 4,976 11.2
Billy Armstrong UUP 4,781 10.8
Kate Lagan SDLP 2,759 6.2
Walter Millar UKUP 1,210 2.7
Anne Forde DUP 1,021 2.3
Brendan McLaughlin IND 437 1.0
Margaret Marshall AP 221 0.5
Harry Hutchinson IND 170 0.4
Total valid vote 44,277 72.3
Turnout 44,728 73.1

Another that looks clear. The UUP seat looks safe for now. The UKUP vote is quite high and indeed the DUP vote is down here.

Same prediction: 3 SF, 1 SDLP, 1 DUP, 1 UUP.

Newry & Armagh:

Candidate Party Status Count Votes* %
Conor Murphy SF Elected 1 7,437 15.0
Cathal Boylan SF Elected 1 7,105 14.3
Danny Kennedy UUP 6,517 13.1
William Irwin DUP 6,418 12.9
Mickey Brady SF Elected 4 6,337 12.8
Dominic Bradley SDLP 5,318 10.7
Sharon Haughey SDLP 4,500 9.1
Paul Berry IND Eliminated 4 2,317 4.7
Davy Hyland IND Eliminated 3 2,188 4.4
Willie Frazer IND Eliminated 1 605 1.2
Brendan Morgan GP Eliminated 1 599 1.2
Máire Hendron AP Eliminated 1 278 0.6
Total valid vote 49,619 70.1
Turnout 50,165 70.8

Okay since the joke is obvious, Paul Berry is now out.

Otherwise this is one of the only seats where the UUP are leading the DUP, albeit by just 99 votes and clearly because of the DUP's local difficulties.

With so many candidates now eliminated it's clear this will be:

Same prediction: SF 3, SDLP 1, UUP 1, DUP 1

North Antrim:

Candidate Party Status Count Votes* %
Ian Paisley DUP Elected 1 7,716 17.4
Daithi McKay SF Elected 1 7,065 15.9
Ian Paisley DUP Elected 2 6,106 13.8
Mervyn Storey DUP 5,171 11.7
Robert Coulter UUP 5,047 11.4
Declan O'Loan SDLP 3,281 7.4
Deirdre Nelson DUP 2,740 6.2
Orla Black SDLP 2,129 4.8
Lyle Cubitt UKUP 1,848 4.2
Robin Swann UUP 1,281 2.9
Jayne Dunlop AP Eliminated 5 1,254 2.8
Paul McGlinchey IND Eliminated 4 383 0.9
James Gregg IND Eliminated 4 310 0.7
Total valid vote 44,331 72.4
Turnout 44,655 72.9

Another where it looks fairly stable, although the shift in votes suggests next time round some seats will be very vulnerable.

Same prediction: DUP 3, UUP 1, SF 1, SDLP 1

Belfast North:

Candidate Party Status Count Votes* %
Nigel Dodds DUP Elected 1 6,973 23.5
Gerry Kelly SF Elected 1 5,414 18.2
Caral Ni Chuilin SF Elected 4 3,680 12.4
Fred Cobain UUP 2,498 8.4
Nelson McCausland DUP 2,462 8.3
Alban Maginness SDLP 2,212 7.4
Pat Convery SDLP 1,868 6.3
William Humphrey DUP 1,673 5.6
Raymond McCord IND 1,320 4.4
Peter Emerson GP 590 2.0
Tommy McCullough AP 486 1.6
Robert McCartney UKUP 360 1.2
John Lavery WP 139 0.5
Rainbow George MPH 40 0.1
Total valid vote 29,715 60.2
Turnout 30,067 60.9

Without an idea of transfers it's very difficult to guess how the Unionist fight is going. Fred Cobain looks to be in a strong position but is very vulnerable to the votes consolidating. Given how badly the UUP is doing elsewhere I'm inclined to call this one against them.

Same prediction: DUP 3, SF 2, SDLP 1

North Down:

Candidate Party Status Count Votes* %
Alex Easton DUP Elected 1 4,946 16.1
Peter Weir DUP 3,376 11.0
Stephen Farry AP 3,131 10.2
Leslie Cree UUP 2,937 9.6
Brian Wilson GP 2,839 9.2
Alan McFarland UUP 2,245 7.3
Alan Graham DUP 2,147 7.0
Marion Smith UUP 2,098 6.8
Robert McCartney UKUP 1,806 5.9
Brian Rowan IND 1,194 3.9
Alan Chambers IND 1,129 3.7
Liam Logan SDLP 1,115 3.6
James Leslie Con Eliminated 0 864 2.8
Deaglan Page SF Eliminated 3 390 1.3
Elaine Martin PUP Eliminated 3 367 1.2
Chris Carter IND Eliminated 2 123 0.4
Total valid vote 30,707 53.4
Turnout 30,930 53.8

It looks like Bob McCartney is going OUT OUT OUT!

Otherwise this looks like a very drawn out count. But I think the UUP should just get a second seat on transfers, with Alliance hanging on and the Greens making a historic breakthrough.

Same prediction: DUP 2, UUP 2, Alliance 1, Greens 1

South Antrim:

Candidate Party Status Count Votes* %
Mitchel McLaughlin SF Elected 1 6,313 16.5
William McCrea DUP Elected 1 6,023 15.8
David Ford AP 5,007 13.1
David Burnside UUP 4,507 11.8
Trevor Clarke DUP 4,302 11.3
Mel Lucas DUP 2,840 7.4
Thomas Burns SDLP 2,721 7.1
Danny Kinahan UUP 2,391 6.3
Noreen McClelland SDLP 1,526 4.0
Stephen Nicholl UUP 927 2.4
Robert McCartney UKUP 893 2.3
Peter Whitcroft GP 507 1.3
Stephen O'Brien Con 129 0.3
Marcella Delaney WP 89 0.2
Total valid vote 38,175 58.1
Turnout 38,481 58.6

Quota 5,454 Electorate 65,654

At the top end Mitchel McLaughlin topping the poll is astounding. At the bottom end things look awfully tight between a second UUP candidate (and fortune is not smiling on them today), a third DUP candidate and any SDLP candidate. David Ford (Alliance leader) looks safe.

New prediction: DUP 3, SF 1, UUP 1, Alliance 1

David Burnside (UUP - who looks safe) has called for his party to go into opposition to the devolved administration. It seems someone at least in the UUP has an idea of a direction to go in. Burnside should contest the UUP leadership this year and settle once and for all whether or not the party is going his way.

Belfast South:

Candidate Party Status Count Votes* %
Jimmy Spratt DUP Elected 1 4,762 15.7
Alasdair McDonnell SDLP Elected 1 4,379 14.4
Alex Maskey SF 3,996 13.2
Anna Lo AP 3,829 12.6
Carmel Hanna SDLP 3,748 12.4
Michael McGimpsey UUP 2,647 8.7
Christopher Stalford DUP 2,035 6.7
Esmond Birnie UUP 1,804 5.9
Bob Stoker UUP Eliminated 0 1,122 3.7
Brenda Cooke GP 737 2.4
Andrew Park PUP 410 1.4
David Hoey UKUP 298 1.0
Jim Barbour Soc Eliminated 6 248 0.8
Paddy Lynn WP Eliminated 5 123 0.4
Roger Lomas Con Eliminated 5 108 0.4
Rainbow George MPH Eliminated 4 66 0.2
Charles Smyth PROC Eliminated 4 22 0.1
Geoffrey Wilson IND Eliminated 4 10 0.0
Total valid vote 30,344 62.0
Turnout 30,533 62.4

Astonishingly people are talking about Alliance taking a Unionist seat - but it could well happen. Certainly the votes imply a UUP->Alliance shift. Indeed the DUP vote is not as strong as they'd like, or very well balanced. Sinn Fein have defied all predictions of a loss here and even improved their vote share.

New prediction: SDLP 2, DUP 1, UUP 1, Alliance 1

South Down:

Candidate Party Status Count Votes* %
Caitriona Ruane SF Elected 7 6,334 13.7
Margaret Ritchie SDLP 5,838 12.7
PJ Bradley SDLP 5,652 12.3
Jim Wells DUP 5,542 12.0
Willie Clarke SF 5,138 11.1
John McCallister UUP 4,447 9.6
Michael Carr SDLP 2,972 6.4
Eamonn McConvey SF Eliminated 7 2,662 5.8
William Burns DUP 2,611 5.7
Ciaran Mussen GP Eliminated 6 1,622 3.5
Henry Reilly UKIP Eliminated 5 1,229 2.7
David Griffin AP Eliminated 4 691 1.5
Martin Cunningham IND Eliminated 4 434 0.9
Nelson Wharton UKUP Eliminated 4 424 0.9
Peter Bowles Con Eliminated 3 391 0.8
Malachi Curran LP Eliminated 2 123 0.3
Total valid vote 46,110 64.3
Turnout 46,623 65.0

With no idea as to transfers it's hard to be sure, but it looks as though the UUP will hang on here.

Same prediction: SDLP 2, SF 2, DUP 1, UUP 1


Candidate Party Status Count Votes* %
Iris Robinson DUP Elected 1 5,917 16.4
Jim Shannon DUP 4,788 13.3
Kieran McCarthy AP 4,085 11.3
Simon Hamilton DUP 3,889 10.8
David McNarry UUP 3,709 10.3
Michelle McIlveen DUP 3,468 9.6
Joe Boyle SDLP 3,068 8.5
Angus Carson UUP 2,128 5.9
Dermot Kennedy SF 1,089 3.0
George Ennis UKUP 872 2.4
Stephanie Sim GP 868 2.4
Michael Henderson UUP 675 1.9
David Gregg IND 650 1.8
Bob Little Con 508 1.4
Cedric Wilson IND Eliminated 2 305 0.8
Total valid vote 36,019 54.0
Turnout 36,340 54.5

This longs complex because both a second UUP and a fourth DUP seat are in or out of the realms of possibility. The DUP have balanced a lot better - so for now I'll call it their way:

New prediction: DUP 4, UUP 1, Alliance 1

Upper Bann:

Candidate Party Status Count Votes* %
John O'Dowd SF Elected 1 7,733 18.0
David Simpson DUP Elected 1 6,828 15.9
Sam Gardiner UUP 5,135 12.0
Dolores Kelly SDLP 4,689 10.9
Stephen Moutray DUP 3,663 8.5
Dessie Ward SF 3,118 7.3
John McCrum DUP 2,975 6.9
George Savage UUP 2,167 5.1
Arnold Hatch UUP 1,815 4.2
David Calvert IND 1,332 3.1
Helen Corry GP 1,156 2.7
Sheila McQuaid AP 798 1.9
Patrick McAleenan SDLP Eliminated 4 761 1.8
Barry Toman IND Eliminated 3 386 0.9
David Fry Con Eliminated 3 248 0.6
Suzanne Peeples IND Eliminated 3 78 0.2
Total valid vote 42,882 60.6
Turnout 43,235 61.1

Quota 6,127 Electorate 70,716

It seems that Sinn Fein may gain from the UUP here.

New prediction: DUP 2, SF 2, UUP 1, SDLP 1

Belfast West:

Candidate Party Status Count Votes* %
Gerry Adams SF Elected 1 6,029 17.8
Sue Ramsey SF Elected 2 4,715 14.0
Paul Maskey SF 4,368 12.9
Jennifer McCann SF 4,265 12.6
Fra McCann SF 4,254 12.6
Diane Dodds DUP 3,661 10.8
Alex Attwood SDLP 3,036 9.0
Margaret Walsh SDLP 1,074 3.2
Sean Mitchell PBP 774 2.3
Louis West UUP 558 1.7
John Lowry WP 434 1.3
Geraldine Taylor IND Eliminated 5 427 1.3
Dan McGuinness AP Eliminated 4 127 0.4
Rainbow George MPH Eliminated 4 68 0.2
Total valid vote 33,790 66.5
Turnout 34,238 67.4

Sinn Fein have balanced spectacularly and look on course for five seats. This leaves the last seat between the SDLP and the DUP - with the current balance favouring the former.

New prediction: SF 5, SDLP 1

West Tyrone:

Candidate Party Status Count Votes* %
Barry McElduff SF Elected 1 6,971 16.8
Pat Doherty SF Elected 1 6,709 16.2
Claire McGill SF Elected 3 4,757 11.5
Thomas Buchanan DUP 4,625 11.2
Allan Bresland DUP 4,244 10.2
Kieran Deeny IND 3,776 9.1
Derek Hussey UUP 3,686 8.9
Jo Deehan SDLP 2,689 6.5
Eugene McMenamin SDLP 2,272 5.5
Seamus Shields SDLP 1,057 2.5
Joe O'Neill IND 448 1.1
Robert McCartney UKUP 220 0.5
Total valid vote 41,454 71.0
Turnout 41,839 71.7

Quota 5,923 Electorate 58,367

Messy as fuck! Sinn Fein have finally won all three seats and the DUP are on course to hold their seat - and indeed have managed to outbalance the UUP. But with three SDLP candidates fighting for a single seat and Kieran Deeny doing well there's a lot to play for.

New prediction: SF 3, DUP 1, Deeny 1, SDLP 1

Over all it's quite a shock that the UUP is still sinking further. The party seems in terminal decline now.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

What harms the environment more?

Today whilst in the toilet I saw a notice on the hand drier extolling the virtues of using hot air over paper towels, including the fact that it does not create as much waste. But how much carbon is emitted into the atmosphere by its use?

Which is the lesser of two evils? Paper towels or a hand drier?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

What Colour Green Are You?

Courtesy of Kat on Facebook:

You Are Emerald Green

Deep and mysterious, it often seems like no one truly gets you.
Inside, you are very emotional and moody - though you don't let it show.
People usually have a strong reaction to you... profound love or deep hate.
But you can even get those who hate you to come around. There's something naturally harmonious about you.

Ex leaders behaving badly

Anyone who thinks that Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher, to name but two, behaved badly in the years after being deposed as leader might want to consider that they could have been even worse.

Slugger O'Toole highlights the recent appearance of the campaign trail by former Ulster Unionist leader Lord Molyneaux of Killead. Only he's been canvassing for Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists! (Slugger O'Toole: Oops he did it again!) Worse still he's been campaigning for them in Belfast North - where the UUP is facing a tough fight to hold its final seat against the DUP.

This is, of course, not the first time Molyneaux has publicly undermined his party - in the 2005 general election he joined with outgoing UUP MP for Belfast South Martin Smyth to endorse the DUP candidate for the seat, resulting in neither Unionist party winning. But one has to wonder why Molyneaux does this. His own position on the province was long that it should be integrated with the rest of the United Kingdom and that a local assembly would just keep the border question open. And he fiercely opposed power sharing, even with constitutional nationalists. So why is endorsing the DUP on their quest to go into government with Sinn Fein? Is the man so bitter that he's thrown all principles to the wind merely to spit his old party colleagues?

Small invasion - no-one hurt

There must be frustration in both Washington and London this weekend as the opportunity to restore faith in military action by liberating a small country invaded by its larger neighbour rapidly evaded the need for outside intervention.

About 170 Swiss soldiers crossed the border into Liechtenstein and wandered for about a mile before realising their mistake and turning back. (Liechtenstein: no retaliation for Swiss 'invasion') Since Liechtenstein has no army, it could have been easily taken, but authorities on both sides seem eager to play down the significance.

This means that the chance for Tony Blair and George W. Bush to have a final military adventure that could be easily justified (who would seriously object to undoing an invasion?), or for The Sun to run every single stereotype of the Swiss imaginable, has proved elusive.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

So it's a smoking email

Following on from my earlier post (What are Labour scared of?) a few more details have officially emerged. (BBC News:
No 10 e-mail basis of injunction

An internal Downing Street e-mail between two members of Tony Blair's inner circle is at the centre of an injunction against the BBC.
And pictures of Ruth Turner and Lord Levy have been appearing and disappearing from news stories and blog posts all day.

The blogosphere is dropping numerous hints then hiding them. Dare I write anything further?

Friday, March 02, 2007

A year of Ming Campbell

I knew I should have stayed in the stallsToday Sir Menzies Campbell celebrates one year since being winning the Liberal Democrat leadership election. And if his party, having its spring conference, isn't regretting the choice then they must be blind to political reality even by Liberal Democrat standards.

The latest opinion poll shows that just 6% of the public think Ming would make the best Prime Minister. (BBC News: Voters want Kennedy back - poll) But there's even worse news.

49% of those questioned thought [Charles Kennedy] would be a better leader than Sir Menzies Campbell - who polled 22% in the ICM survey of 1,005 people.
Time to bring him back?Liberal Democrats I've spoken to recently have been dismissive of the idea that Kennedy can come back. They seem to think he lost credibility when his party stabbed him the chest. (He wasn't the future ever!) Perhaps they're right - but it wasn't only Kennedy who came out of the affair badly.

I wouldn't be surprised if many are now regretting the events of last year, even if they are putting on a brave face. Privately many are no doubt hoping for the chance to break out in song (to the tune of "Bring back my grant cheque to me"):

Bring back,
Bring back,
Bring back Char-lie Ken-ne-dey!
But do any of them have the courage to do so during their current conference?

What are Labour scared of?

"The Attorney General has obtained an injunction against the BBC to stop it broadcasting an item about the cash for honours investigation." (BBC News: Attorney General halts BBC probe)

Is this because of unfounded accusations or have the BBC discovered a smoking gun?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

February on this blog

With Tracksy now working again, normal service can be resumed. For those who wish to see stats for earlier months you can now click on one of the labels at the end of this post.

Since there were problems with the statistics for January, all comparisons are with the stats for December.

First off the sites most people come from:

  1. Google (-)
  2. Labour - loyal - searching for renewal (NEW ENTRY)
  3. Wikipedia (+2)
  4. Cally's Kitchen (+3)
  5. Mars Hill (-2)
  6. Cllr Robert Rams' Blog (NEW ENTRY)
  7. (-)
  8. MyBlogLog (NEW ENTRY)
  9. Young Unionists (RE-ENTRY)
  10. Political Opinions (NEW ENTRY)
Dropping out of the top ten are Facebook (at 13, down 9), Cllr Iain Lindley's Diary (at 29, down 21), Backing Blair (at 31, down 21)
Educationet Messageboard (dropping off the radar altogether) and GuardianUnlimitedBlogs (ditto). This has been quite a shake-up, but covers two months in which a lot has happened.

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 (+1)
  4. why is alix wolverson so rubbish (NEW)
  5. sutton surrey map (NEW)
  6. uccf controversy (NEW)
  7. first gentleman clinton (NEW)
  8. nigel farage fruitcake (NEW)
  9. rhonda paisley and willie mccrea affair (RE-ENTRY)
  10. alternative to gordon brown (NEW - are people in Labour so desperate they're resorting to Google?)
As ever a mixture of brand new terms and some ongoing ones. Some of the other weird searches include:

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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