Sunday, 28 October 2007
But, so what? Last time I checked, unlike the other two parties, it was delegates voting at conference that made our policy - not the party leader.
Part of the excitement at this "disagreement" might be a desire to inject some news into what is necessarily a relatively dull - but very important - contest.
And don't get me wrong, personal policy views from candidates are interesting. And clearly the position of the party leadership does have some bearing (one way or another) on how some conference delegates vote.
But *we* make party policy, not the leader. Which is why this leadership election is about general direction and emphasis of our campaigning, yes - but, for me, largely about who is best placed to communicate *our* policies to the public.
Saturday, 27 October 2007
Nich Starling (Norfolk Blogger) posted about this a bit more promptly than I'm doing. We basically have the same point - emergency service access will be pretty difficult with all lanes and the hard shoulder clogged up with traffic.
It can be hard enough for police and ambulances getting up and down the M6 when there's a traffic jam normally, with the occasional broken down car in the hard shoulder making progress difficult. But if every inch of motorway is covered by cars then what hope will they have?
Are we saying we should risk an ambulance being massively delayed just so that some people can get to work or home for dinner a little bit more quickly?
It's all very well saying that the lanes will be monitored to allow closure for emergency vehicles to get through, but we all know it only takes a second for an accident to happen and a pile-up or tailback isn't long following. Rather quicker than people will be to start reading or obeying a 'get back out of the hard shoulder' sign.
Friday, 26 October 2007
Jim has now published the two pieces, so if you want to have a read you can visit his blog.
Thursday, 25 October 2007
If reports are to be believed, Juande Ramos is set to take over - but not until the summer. Clive Allen to fill the gap?
Reminds me of a joke I heard on a Spurs podcast when the Board started undermining Jol back in August:
Q. Why is Ramos' first name 'Juande'?Ok, that doesn't work so well written down.
A. Because 'one day' is how long the Board will give him to turn things round.
I'm sorry to see Jol go, especially in the way it's happened. This season has really not been much fun so far.
If anyone isn't in work this Friday afternoon, I can recommend going to see UPA! An Argentine Film, which is on as part of the The Times BFI 51st London Film Festival. I caught it at the NFT earlier in the week and really enjoyed it.
It was definitely better than tonight.
Oh, just a quick moan - it didn't really affect the result, but tonight was one of the most inept displays of refereeing I've seen for a long time.
I have been a member of Dignity in Dying (and the Voluntary Euthanasia Society before it) for years and they have campaigned on this issue for even longer than that. The act calls living wills "advance decisions" - basically, these are how you can now explain in advance if there is medical treatment you do not wish to receive at the end of your life. You can also use them to detail what treatment you do consent to.
As I said, Dignity in Dying have been championing this right to choice for years and living wills have been available but not legally binding. Now a valid living will/advance decision must be respected by the medical team treating you.
You can read more about this and other related stories on the Dignity in Dying website.
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
Tuesday, 23 October 2007
As usual, we covered a big range of subjects at Overview & Scrutiny. Probably the most interesting for residents in my ward is the news that following the CCTV scrutiny review I chaired and months of work from John Hajdu's Muswell Hill and Fortis Green Association, Muswell Hill is finally to get some new - working - CCTV cameras. There will be two cameras installed in the centre of Muswell Hill in January.
If residents haven't already heard, other big news is that Hornsey Hospital now has a completion date of March 2009. I think it was around 2000 that the old hospital closed, so it's been slow, but they're finally getting there.
There was discussion about the Council's inability to consult residents properly, which is a recurring criticism across the borough. My colleague David Winskill asked about the contractors the Council used to deliver the CPZ consultations which Labour botched so badly, when lots of residents simply never received the consultation.
I did wonder if they had actually been delivered by bike like the old computer game Paperboy - the successful delivery rate was so random, there would definitely not have been a High Score for the contractors.
Haringey Labour do at least accept that they have been bad at consulting in the past, so hopefully (as D:Ream once said) things can only get better.
Section 106 funding is money given over to the Council by developers of large scale building works. It's to help contribute towards education and infrastructure costs locally. We found out last night that some S106 money is being used for badly needed streetlights - for the first time in Haringey ever, despite me first asking for this to be looked at 18 months ago.
There was plenty more, but this post risks lasting even longer than the meeting itself, so I'd better stop.
A few of us popped to the Nelson after, for a quick drink before closing to celebrate Cllr Emma Jones' birthday - which was the least we could do, as she'd just spent her birthday at a council meeting. Happy birthday again Emma.
Sunday, 21 October 2007
If nothing else, the Mayor's scheme seems to have generated a lot of interest. I've had a few emails as well as the couple of comments on my blog - but have noticed that it's one of the most regularly searched for items that people arrive at my blog from.
The original post summarises my basic feelings about the scheme. And the emails and comments I have had have not so far been ones from people eternally grateful to Ken for his generous offer.
One email I received was from Stella, who lives in Palmers Green, who said:
I came across your blog while looking up oyster cards for those on income support. I really think this government thinks we are stupid, and just like many other times they got it wrong again. Why is it that this oyster card is introduced with a flat fare, so that you get value for money only for long journeys. Do they think we dont know we are being robbed for short journeys? Many of us on income support don't travel unnecessarily, and usually just to the local shops for our basic affordable essentials.
and Stella also suggested a more immediate way of helping people on income support with their essential travel:
Why can't people travel free if they need to get to job interviews? I've had to turn down many a job interview cos I didn't have the £7 plus to get there and back.
Good points. Again, I also don't see why (if this is such a key priority for Ken) the discount does not apply to the tube as well, but only buses.
I think there are some questions to be asked, so I am going to get in touch with Geoff Pope, one of the Lib Dem GLA Members. If he isn't already on the case, I know he'll follow this up. My main questions are:
- How much did the scheme cost to set up, to promote and to administer?
- What is the take-up rate among those eligible?
- How many discounted journeys have been made and how does this compare with estimated figures?
- Why is the tube not discounted in the same way?
Saturday, 20 October 2007
It definitely has been a busy few weeks, keeping up with casework (bins, strange smells, traffic, planning applications etc) has taken up the few bits of spare time I've had around work and Council.
I also had to miss the first Fortismere governors meeting since Haringey Labour sacked their three representatives - as it was on Monday night and directly clashed with Full Council. So I need to go through the minutes and check up on what happened at that meeting, which will do tomorrow. As well as finally tidying my room - now I don't have a mother here to make me do it, that takes even longer than it used to when I was a child.
I did have some friends visiting for my birthday last weekend though and had an excellent night out in Islington. Then I sadly had to work on my actual birthday (for the first time in years) but managed to get out a little before 8 and go to see the Maccabees in concert at the Roundhouse in Camden with a couple of friends, so worked out okay in the end. Missed the support acts, but the Maccabees were great, second time I've seen them live.
UPDATE: Just randomly saw this review of the Maccabees on a blog. I liked it.
I just saw this story on BBC News - brilliant. A first edition of The Importance of Being Earnest handed into an Oxfam shop. Which reminds me of a slightly adapted Oscar Wilde quote someone sent me on my 31st birthday:
"Thirty-one is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-one for years. Lady Dumbleton is an instance in point. To my own knowledge she has been thirty-one ever since she arrived at the age of forty, which was many years ago now."
I wasn't sure what to make of that. But, anyway, I'll have no problem being 32 next year.
Ok, I'm heading off to a friend's to watch the rugby. I'm not much of a rugby fan - and support Wales when it comes to rugby anyway - but looking forward to it anyway and hoping for a better showing than in the group stages...
The really big game, of course, is Spurs away at Newcastle on Monday night, which I won't get to watch as I have a council meeting - but hopeful that it will kickstart our season!
Individuals can no longer be held responsible for obesity and government mustI do agree that society needs to do more to stop obesity rates soaring - and by 'do more' I'm talking about things like funding for sports, clear food labelling, reducing health inequalities and the poverty gap in general.
act to stop Britain "sleepwalking" into a crisis, a report has concluded.
The news centred around saying that it's not the individual's responsibility if they get fat (whether that's a fair analysis of the report itself, I have no idea). But people do have to take responsibility for their own lives - on a level playing field, if you'll excuse the pun.
I liked the Facebook status of one of my friends after this news story came out:
Mike is wondering if it would be society's fault if he went and ate the contents of the fridge.
So, the choice is going to be Chris Huhne or Nick Clegg. Of other potential candidates, I would have really liked Steve Webb to run - or, of course, my old colleague Julia Goldsworthy.
I've already been asked who I will be supporting. It's actually quite easy - Nick. Of course, Lynne is chair of Chris' campaign and has lots of good reasons why she is supporting him, but I've been looking forward to seeing Nick go for the leadership for some time.
I would be perfectly happy with Chris as leader too, though. I thought he performed exceptionally well in the last leadership campaign where he finished a strong second - I was pleasantly surprised and very impressed. But I think Nick is better placed to take the party forward.
I feel slightly guilty writing this post. In the last two leadership campaigns I have publicly supported David Rendel (who came 5th out of 5 in the election Charles Kennedy won) and Simon Hughes (who came 3rd out of 3 in the election Ming won). It is, however, the first time I've been supporting the bookies' favourite, so hopefully I can't jinx it for him.
Now, if Lembit is supporting Nick too then he really should start to worry...
Congratulations to David, who is a very formidable campaigner. He was instrumental in electing the first Lib Dem councillors in the Tottenham constituency for some time - Cllr Karen Alexander and Cllr Carolyn Baker, who won in Harringay ward. In the election before, the top polling Labour councillor had almost five times as many votes as the bottom placed Lib Dem, with Tories and Greens inbetween - which gives you a clue as to the amount of work that has gone into Tottenham from David and others over the years.
I just need to have a quick word with David and check he's up to speed on the issues around Spurs!
Friday, 19 October 2007
This is the first free weekend I've had for ages - well, I say free, I will be spending most of it delivering leaflets. Rock'n'roll.
So there's lots of catching up to do. Aside from the usual stuff, I'll want to write about the latest developments with Alexandra Palace, interesting comments I've had from the public on Ken's oystercard scheme, the London Mayoral selections and, you know, maybe a line or two about the coming Lib Dem leadership election.
So inbetween the leafleting I will be trying to rattle a few posts off. Starting tomorrow.
Will just say now that I did get to the theatre for the first time in a while last night - to see Avenue Q. Wouldn't have been an obvious pick for me really, but it was excellent, very funny. My favourite song in it was probably 'The Internet is for Porn'. Ok, I admit I just included that to see how many people I can disappoint when they're googling 'porn'.
Friday, 5 October 2007
I had an email a little while back from the A Quarter Of... website mailing list.
It's a website that sells sweets - a good place to get hold of Wham and Stinger bars and things like that. Anyway, the email was to say that the Wispa was going back on sale:
And Cadburys are saying that they are bringing it back because of public demand… and in particular demand off the internet… which got us thinking…
PS Stop Press... apparently the 'return' of Wispa is not totally what it seemed... it will just be a limited edition from what we hear. Cadbury's have made 23 million bars and that's it. It's better than nothing I suppose... but not quite the "bowing to public demand" that it initially seemed... unless the public demanded that they could just re-enjoy Wispa for 6 or 8 weeks! Just a PR ploy? You might think that... I couldn't possibly comment!
Anyway, you can get your Wispa bars now, from A Quarter Of... (other confectionery sellers are available).
Thursday, 4 October 2007
It was my first Tory conference and it was noticeably very different from Labour and Tory as soon as you walked around the exhibition area. Yes, there were many stands that you could see at any of the three - but I'm fairly sure, as just one example, that the British Fur Trade Association only have a stall at the Tories (fur is the 'natural, responsible choice', apparently).
There were celebrities, of sorts, all over the place. Boris Johnson was having difficulty trying to turn his photo pass the right way around to get through security behind me on the first day, William Hague was happy to be signing copies of his book at the Politicos stall and Edwina Currie chaired one of the fringe meetings I'd organised. But the biggest celebrity was Tony Hadley (ask your older sister, kids) who was staying in the same hotel as us and seemed to be there all week.
The photos are just a general shot of the Winter Gardens, relatively buzzing with meetings and interviews, and part of the panel for the Health Hotel Question Time on Tuesday night - just included as on the far right (seating wise) is blogger Iain Dale who gave an accomplished performance.
As with the other conferences, my time in the hall listening to any debates was very limited - in the Empress Ballroom (where I once played the cello as a nipper) I just went in for about 5 minutes of a speech by Ken Clarke, which didn't exactly get my pulse racing. But I have been assured that it picked up after I left. I watched the first half of David Cameron's speech on tv, which was fine but didn't say anything to me and, sad to admit, have seen a couple of others on the Parliament Channel since I got back. Iain Duncan Smith, who was actually really quite good, and Chris Grayling, who really wasn't - although I have always thought of him as fairly good.
The funniest conversation I had was with a guy who turned out to be a delegate from Kingston & Surbiton. Had I been feeling more tactful, I might not have mentioned that I used to work for Ed Davey, Lib Dem MP for said constituency. I got a bit of an earful which would have made most Tories blush, but (while he didn't exactly come around to thinking Ed is great) he did mellow from four letter words to Ed being 'alright' after a couple of minutes.