30 November 2012

Friday favourite 87

To somewhat belatedly celebrate St Andrew's day here is one of Scotland's finest comedians - Chic Murray live in Aberdeen in 1984.  Despite being at university in Aberdeen at the time, this performance completely passed me by - even though me and my classmates had frequented his pub on Bruntsfield Links in Edinburgh in six form a year or so earlier.

This must have been one of his last performances as he died in January the following year.

29 November 2012

Lib Dems to finally oppose internet snooping bill?

According to the Beeb, Nick Clegg is now 'non-commital' about the Communications Data Bill and is likely to use a Parliamentary report into it as a reason to withdraw support.  The joint MP/Peers committee apparently states, 'The Home Office has failed to make the case for the new laws' among other criticisms.

If so this is good news - but why has it taken so long for Clegg to make the right decision?  Is there no-one around him with the right liberal instincts and political antennae to have seen this many months ago?

26 November 2012

23 November 2012

Friday favourite 86 - a tribute to James Blunt

Here's one half of the Rubber Bishops paying homage...

Is Simon Danczuk deliberately smearing Cyril Smith?

Rochdale's abrasive Labour MP, Simon Danczuk has been pursuing allegations of child abuse by former Rochdale Liberal MP Cyril Smith.  Most recently at Wednesday's Prime Minister's questions.

These allegations (or at least some of them) are not new - Smith was investigated by the police in the early 70s (unlike Jimmy Savile) and the allegations were dismissed.  Now I'm not defending Smith if there is new evidence or the old police investigation turns out to be flawed and I hope anyone who does have information indicting Smith makes it available to the police.  But at the moment these allegations seem pretty thin on facts - however often Danczuk uses his parliamentary priviledge to raise them.

The thing is Danczuk is friends with disgraced former Labour MP, Phil Woolas - the man who invented damaging racist lies about his Lib Dem opponent.  Danczuk paid Woolas the following glowing tribute in his maiden speech...

"I also want to pay tribute to my hon. Friend Mr Woolas, who had Milnrow and New Hey within his constituency boundaries until general election day. He is an exceptionally good MP, and I consider him to be a good friend."

This close relationship with the crook Woolas makes me suspicious that Danczuk is simply using the Woolas playbook and the cover that parliamentary priviledge brings to smear his political rivals.  If so, then Labour will truly have scraped the bottom of a very dark barrel.

21 November 2012

Lords defeat for secret courts shows government needs rethink

With the Lords showing common sense and rejecting the government's plans for secret courts the BBC reckons the government will not accept defeat and 'go on the offensive'.

They shouldn't and Lib Dem ministers need to advise Conservative colleagues that attacking a fundamental tenet of western liberal democracy would be a deal breaker for many Lib Dem members and activists - just like the Home Office's ill advised proposals to increase internet snooping powers.

The breath of opposition to secret courts can be judged at their campaign website - and if you haven't added your name to the petition I recommend you do so now.

19 November 2012

CIPR elections descend into farce

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations is the professional body for tens of thousands of people working in the PR, communications and lobbying industries.  It has had a troubled recent past, including six figure financial losses and relocation of its HQ.

Its recent presidential election was won by Lionel Zetter who stood on a platform of merger with other similar bodies.  But it appears now that this election is null and void and will have to be re-run as a result of one of the two candidates for President submitting their nomination late.

Here's an extract of the email I received earlier this evening:
"Under CIPR regulations on the conduct of elections, there is a one week period after the results are published when complaints can be received.  In the week following the elections, a complaint was made about a decision by the CIPR to allow one candidate’s nomination to be received after the deadline for submissions had passed.

In line with CIPR regulations governing complaints about election processes, a report was commissioned into the conduct of the elections for consideration by CIPR Council at a meeting on 19 November.

The CIPR Council has today considered the report.  It has voted that the acceptance of a late nomination has invalidated the result of the election and that the CIPR should take action in line with Article 8 of the Election Regulations.  This states that Council can order a fresh election.

CIPR will today inform both candidates and all CIPR members of the Council’s decision and further information on a fresh election will follow.

The report also contained recommendations for procedural improvements for the conduct of CIPR elections and any required regulatory changes will be considered and voted upon at the next scheduled Council meeting before a new election is called."
For an organisation representing those who are supposed to protect other people's reputations one would have thought someone might have foreseen this inevitable consequence of allowing a late nomination to stand - unless, of course, there was an ulterior motive for accepting it?

16 November 2012

Friday favourite 85

This week's favourite is for the man who enlivened up the 2001 general election with a punch and earlier today failed to get elected as Humberside's police commissioner.

Is it conceivable Prescott could lose the Hull police commissioner election?

Rumours abound of glum Labour faces at the Hull and Humberside count...

Expenses cheat is Labour's first police and crime commissioner

Earlier today Vera Baird - a former Solicitor General in the Brown Government - became the first Labour elected Police and Crime Commissioner - winning the Northumbria election.

Baird had been MP for the previously safe Labour seat of Redcar since 2001, but two and a bit years ago she was rejected by the good people of that borough - following a series of scandals over her expenses including the purchase of two artificial Christmas trees and attempting to spend a ludicrous £29.97 on snowflake lights and baubles and a further £5.48 on decorations.  Baird earned more than £120,000 a year as Solicitor General.

But she didn't leave it at that - having lost her seat she showed no contrition whatsoever and in 2011 cashed in to the tune of £109,000 by selling her publicly funded second home.

One hopes the Northumbria Police Authority finance department understand what they are letting themselves in for and do not let their new commissioner anywhere near the corporate credit card.

Israel's security is weakened by its belicosity

Israel is one of the world's military powers - a nuclear armed state - with huge conventional military resources and powerful supporters in diplomatic and influential circles across the globe.

It's a beacon of democracy in a part of the world where tyrants traditionally have misruled over their benighted people.  Witness the appalling slaughter in next door Syria where Soviet era supremo Bashar al Assad is directing a brutal and - no doubt - ultimately futile attempt to cling onto power.

The fact that everyone expects Assad to fail in his attempt to stay in control because this brutality simply drives people into the arms of his opponents seems to have no impact on their view of Israel's impending crackdown on the benighted residents of Gaza.

Cracking down on all the people of Gaza to pursue the organised militants who have been rocket bombing Israeli civilians is stupid military tactics and even worse politics.  It will simply engender even more anger among the Palestinians and be the best recruiting sergeant for the militant groups determined to destroy Israel.

Israel needs critical friends now more than ever.  Britain could take the lead - but there is no evidence that current foreign secretary, William Hague, wants to do anything other than ape the platitudes eminating from Washington.  So here is an opportunity for the Lib Dems in government that proves they are not just in the Tories pockets. Clegg is an expert at foreign affairs and he has a team of special advisers (supposedly) pursuing liberal solutions in areas without Lib Dem ministers - so what's holding them back?

13 November 2012

A history of London telephone codes...

I occasionally see the old alpha-numeric phone numbers on old shopfronts - you know the sort of thing 'Whitehall 1212'.  So when I stumbled across this obscure website at work today (don't ask why) I thought it was too good an historical source not to publicise.  And if you can fill any of the gaps in terms of naming conventions so much the better...

12 November 2012

BBC journalism needs radical shake up

With the news that the BBC's DG has quit - with an unneccessarily large pay-off - the focus of attention is on how the corporation continues to report the fall out of the Savile case.

But the risk is if the focus is solely on child protection the underlying weakness of some of the BBC's day-to-day journalism will escape the attention it deserves.  Attention that so far none of the 124 senior managers who are paid well over £100k each has spotted.

The BBC newsroom is the political wing of the Labour Party.  It has a metropolitan elitist bias that finds it inconceivable that the left can do no wrong.  After all the Beeb once employed Polly Toynbee as a serious journalist.  And the fact that Newsnight is produced by BBC Scotland - a place where the right is even more frowned upon - might explain the alacrity with which they published untrue (and unchecked) allegations of child abuse about a Tory peer. 

And it's not just in the political world where the BBC (and particularly BBC Scotland) falls down on the job of basic journalism.  The inbuilt BBC bias to Labour is mirrored with their inbuilt old firm bias in Scottish football.

BBC Scotland Sport continues to employ people like Jim Traynor and Billy Dodds - people who compromised themselves completely over the collapse of Rangers.  Traynor was fingered by Alex Thomson of channel 4 as one of the reporters who simply regurgitated what they were told over lunch (but hopefully not their actual lunch) with senior Rangers execs.  Dodds was employed by Rangers and benefitted from their illegal tax-evading employee benefit trust (EBT). 

And today the BBC website's match report of Hibs v Dundee Utd contained the following opening sentence: "Hibernian moved temporarily back to the top of the Scottish Premier League after their first victory over Dundee United in seven attempts ..."

The word 'temporarily' was later removed during the succeeding Celtic v St Johnstone game - but the expectation was clear that Celtic would win.  Happily they didn't and now are two points behind leaders Hibs.

You would have thought with hundreds of senior managers and editors that they might actually do their job of employing people who are actually good journalists and casting an editorial eye over their output.  One can live in hope that whatever happens to the BBC as a result of this shambles they use it as an opportunity to have a truly radical shake up of their organisation - but I won't hold my breath.

9 November 2012

Friday favourite 84 - the end

With Hearts facing liquidation next Thursday and clear evidence that they have been systematically cheating by failing to pay tax (like Rangers) their end cannot be far away.  So here's the Doors with 'This is the end' - the Apocalypse Now version.

7 November 2012

Trump makes fool of himself over Obama tweets

It was bad night for US conservatives with the comfortable reelection of Barack Obama - with or without Florida.

Obama's success clearly got to follicularly challenged right wing tycoon Donald Trump - the man whose pastimes include bullying Scottish pensioners.

According to the Daily Mail Trump tweeted that Obama's reelection was a 'disgusting injustice' and claimed the world was 'laughing at us'.  No Donald they are laughing at you:

Ohio looks like it's Obama's

CNN reporting exit poll that 59% support auto bailout with 39% against.  It also reports that more Dems than GOP registered voters turned out.

Edit - VI exit suggest Obama wins Ohio by 3%

US election result update

I'm refusing to watch the taxpayer junket that is the BBC coverage of the US elections.  So I started with Sky News and soon switched to Al Jazerra UK - because it is low budget has no adverts (so far) and means it has to rely on expert opinion rather than celebrity flannel.

But I fancied seeing what Fox News might be saying - but sadly wasn't allowed to view by my Sky box as I hadn't subscribed to their 'entertainment' package!

6 November 2012

US election exit poll suggests Obama victory

Sky News reports some interesting background issues from the US national exit poll.

The economy is the the most important issue for 60% of voters (with healthcare rating just 17%) and crucially 39% think things are getting better with 31% saying things are getting worse.

These sort of polling figures would normally suggest incumbents would do enough to resist the 'time for a change' calls that see them turfed out of office.

Interesting football related statistic of the day

Victoria Park, Dingwall - home of Ross County FC - holds 6,300 spectators.  Which is 1,220 more than the population of Dingwall itself (5,080).

5 November 2012

3 November 2012

Dennis McShane was no anti-fascist

Don't take my word for it.  Take that of (former) Tory blogging supremo Iain Dale in 2009:

McShane has invoked basically a Godwin's Law defence to hide his own greed and excess.  He was one of the least likeable Labour ministers, smug, arrogant and detached in equal measure.  A man that made Cameron and Osborne look like the tribunes of the ordinary and the poor.

McShane was a cheer leader for the worst elements of the Blair/Brown years - the 'relaxed about extreme wealth', the ones who hobnobbed with the rich and famous in a desperate attempt to deflect from their own contradictions and betrayals.

McShane should follow his south Yorkshire ex-neighbour, the former Barnsley MP, Eric Illsley - to jail.

2 November 2012

Romney's zombie apocalypse

According to Buffy creator, Joss Whedon.  Enjoy...

Friday favourite 83

Here's Robert Plant from an obscure Spanish TV show in the days before his voice 'went' with a fantastic accoustic version of 'Whole lotta love'.