Saturday, August 30, 2008

The "Where Were You When..." Meme

Normally I'm not one to do these, but Mars Hill: The "Where Were You When..." Meme has explicitly tagged me so here goes. So here is where I was when the following events happened:

Princess Diana's death - 31 August 1997

I was actually asleep and only found out when my mother came into the room at about eight o'clock that day, on the phone to her mother who had just told her the news. Initially I was confused as I thought I heard her say "the Prince of Wales" and I remember commenting that it solved some big dilemmas the monarch was facing. The she clarified and I turned on the news to get the details. I remember then going to church that morning where the congregation was even larger than normal. The rest of the day was spent mainly watching the news coverage of everything going on and the growing hostility to the Royal Family on that day. During the following week I was back at school in London and the conversations amongst strangers on the tube were clear that something big was happening.

Margaret Thatcher's resignation - 22 November 1990

I was at school when my class came in after (I think) the morning break to be told by our Latin teacher who had heard both the announcement and the famous weather forecast of "Thatchy Pog". I was stunned but not entirely surprises, as my family was entirely pro Heseltine. Later on the day on the second ballot I did an opinion poll of my class and found John Major leading to Douglas Hurd and I was the only pro Heseltine person! But I was young at the time.

Attack on the twin towers - 11 September 2001

I was working in the coffee shop at Marks and Spencer in Canterbury and didn't find out anything until after I finished my shift at about six that evening. On the way home I bumped into a local councillor who told me the World Trade Center had been destroyed and my reaction was sheer disbelief. I then made it home to the flat I was staying in to find my flatmate who told me and I saw the footage of the towers falling for myself. Having been up the towers only the previous summer I was amazed at the devastation. It took time to sink in that the world was entering a war.

England's World Cup Semi Final v Germany in - 4 July 1990

I can't remember this one at all! My family was never particularly keen on football so we weren't watching or following it.

President Kennedy's Assassination - 22 November 1963

I was waiting to be born.

John McCain shows his grace

Thanks to Iain Dale's Diary: McCain Shows His Class for this one. John McCain has put out the following advert to congratulate his opponent:

It's not an advert to win votes but a reminder that politics doesn't have to be ridiculously partisan at all times. Well done that man!

McCain - Palin

The very first time I visited the United States I began the trip in Anchorage, Alaska, So I've always found it strange when many Americans have talked as though it doesn't exist (e.g. the idea that Chicago is in "the midwest" when Alaska stretches the geographic west a long way). Maybe with the choice of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate that will change.

She is certainly a bold choice, as Juneau is almost as far away from the Beltway as you can get, and both her home town of Wasilla and Fairbanks, where she was inaugerated as governor, are even further. As a political maverick herself, having taken on both party establishments in Alaska, she makes the perfect complement to John McCain. What a contrast to a Democrat ticket claiming to be "change you can believe in" and made up exclusively of Wasington DC insiders.

And yes she's the second woman to be a major party nominee, and the first on a ticket that can actually win. She didn't get there through a political marriage, she has risen on the back of her own merits. This is a real way of cracking the glass ceiling and is a true victory for all women in politics.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

And it's Joe Biden

Barack Obama has chosen Joe Biden to be his running mate. (BBC News: Obama picks Biden as running-mate ) It's a bold move in one sense - Delaware has just three votes in the electoral college and is a pretty reliable blue state. But in another it means Obama now has his own Lloyd Bentsen who could prove to be far more credible than the Presidential nominee. And a campaign promoting "Change we can believe in" now has not only an all Beltway ticket but now includes a man who entered the Senate when Obama was prepubescent.

If there is one significant move in all this it's that increasingly the Vice Presidency is tacking away from being a stepping stone to the Presidency - who can seriously envisage a Biden 2016 bid? Instead the role is becoming more and more a significant office in its own right. And in turn that will make nomination battles more open and competitive. Dick Cheney (who also comes from a tiny state his party never needed to worry about) may well have made his best long term contribution to the office here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Obama stops walking on water

The latest opinion polls are not looking good for Barack Obama. The Boy Wonder is slipping into a dead heat despite having far more campaign finance and far more television coverage than John McCain. (BBC News: Why has Obama's poll lead slipped?) McCain's legendary underdog ability to triumph over superior odds is coming to the fore and at a time of rising fuel prices Obama is starting to run on empty.

So he needs to pull a rabbit out of a hat, aka choose a Vice Presidential nominee who can boost him. Times have changed since the days when delegates at party conventions got drunk over dinner and laughed about who to nominate, then carried forward the joke to the vote, resulting in people like William Wheeler going from one form of obscurity to another whilst Presidential nominees were left wondering just who their running mate was. (Rutherford Hayes famously said to his wife "I am ashamed to say: Who is Wheeler?")

Nowadays the choice is treated more seriously but is there really a stunning Democrat who can join the ticket and magically turn around Obama's chances? I somehow doubt the choice announced today (BBC News: Obama set to reveal running-mate) will do that.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How long do elections last?

I've just read Mike's Election Guide 2008 by Michael Moore. There's a lot I don't agree with, although his comments about excessive restrictions on Little League Baseball games so that children are only allowed to make a total of thirty-eight pitches are spot on.

He didn't last very long did he?But it's his comments about how long US elections last that made me want to laugh out loud. Noting the Presidential election officially began in 2006 he comments "Here in the US it lasts almost as long as the Ming Dynasty."

Now could he possibly have had in mind Ming Campbell famously trying to deflect leadership speculation by declaring "The last Ming dynasty lasted 267 years"? And then his own lasting less than two?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

"Rightful owners"?!?!

Until today I had never really heard of Murad Qureshi. Apparently he is a Labour list member of the London Assembly, that oh so important body to our lives here in London. And nor had I much reason to blog about the recent by-election in Church Street Ward in the City of Westminster. But a piece on Labourhome caught my eye: Turnout and ethnicity in the Church Street by-election.

Now claiming the result is all down to voters "voting ethnic" and ignoring the fact that the Conservatives have been doing a lot to tackle our traditional poor polling amongst various communities (as this commenter points out) is dubious in itself. But it's this comment that stands out the most:

As always we will need to consider carefully the implications of the loss of Church Street and work with the whole community to ensure that when we go back to the ballot for the ward in 2010, it will have a much higher turnout and return it to its rightful owners.
"Its rightful owners"?!?! This is so endemic of the attitude of some in Labour. They seem to think they have an inherent right to the votes of particular areas and communities.

No the "rightful owners" of Church Street ward are the voters of Church Street.

I think the commenters "AngyVoter" puts it best:

To simply say it's all the Bangladeshis fault really is pointless and just shows the mentality of some of the more "public" members of the Labour Party.

"The Ethnic Vote belongs to us"

Such an attitude is disgraceful. And this doesn't come from a random Labour Party member but one of their main Assembly Members, elected in second place on the list.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

...or Costelliband?

A further thought about men who decline to run for their party's leadership more than once has reminded me of this clip on YouTube of the former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating berating Peter Costello over the latter's failure to stand for the Liberal Party leadership both times he had the chance:

"A low altitude flier." With a cancelled trip abroad that doesn't sound so distant does it?

P.S. I've got not idea who our answer to Paul Keating is though:

Anyone care to suggest a counterpart?


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