Saturday, August 14, 2004

More time to watch the Olympics

Via Blood and Treasure and Labour Watch, it seems that a certain MP is going to be able to spend more time with his blog:
Labour was facing claims last night that it has been forced to axe its campaign co-ordinator in the Hartlepool by-election amid protests that he was not local enough.

West Midlands MP Tom Watson was drafted in to run the party's campaign to hold on to Peter Mandelson's seat after masterminding the retention of Birmingham Hodge Hill for Labour.

But he is to be replaced by North-Easterner Fraser Kemp, the Labour MP for Houghton and Washington West and a Government whip.

Labour maintains the move was planned all along, although news of it came hard on the heels of the row over Mr Watson's attack on Liberal Democrat candidate Jody Dunn for defending heroin addicts in court.

The Lib Dems were last night refusing to attribute Mr Watson's departure to the row, which erupted when he sent out a press release saying barrister Ms Dunn was "soft on drugs." It led to a stern rebuke from Lib Dem deputy leader Sir Menzies Campbell who demanded that Labour refrain from "personalised and unjustified attacks."

Comical Tommy denies that anything is wrong, of course.

Big ballot papers

Via Labour Watch, we find that Fathers 4 Justice are planning to stand candidates at the next General Election. It's starting to look like the next election is going to resemble a by-election in many constituencies what with UKIP promising to stand everywhere, Galloway talking of Respect standing in 100 constituencies, the Greens getting more organised and standing more candidates as well as all the other fringe parties and Boaks-esque perennial candidates getting thrown into the mix. I wonder what the record is for the most candidates in a General Election? A quick Googling doesn't seem to bring any answers, even from the excellent UK elections site. Still, all those lost deposits should help Returning Officers' budgets across the country.

Still, with UKIP pressuring Tory MPs and Respect and Fathers 4 Justice threatening to target Labour ones, I wonder if anyone is going to specifically target the Liberal Democrats?

Friday, August 13, 2004

Change of status

I noted a couple of months ago that The Indefatigably Gorgeous One didn't seem to be listed as a Respect MP on Parliament's website. Well, he is now.

Meanwhile, he's being interviewed by BBC News Online todayand complaining that no one in the media ever pays him any attention.

Random linkages, no real connection

But just a few things I've spotted today and don't feel like making a separate entry for each of them. We'll start with Iain:
I've just seen Michael Howard on the telly, making a speech in which he claims that the most reliable measure of crime levels is the number of crimes recorded by the police. I guess he's done his sums and decided that the demographic of people who actually know what the fuck they're talking about with respect to criminal justice is too small for him to be bothered trying to getting any of them to vote Conservative.

Dave Neiwert continues the demolition job on the 'internment was a good idea' meme:

Michelle Malkin would have us think it would. Her case, though, is built on faulty method, faulty logic, faulty "facts", and an obviously faulty moral compass. Her book is best left shunned, untouched, and eventually, ignored.

Jamie listens to the voices in his head:

No. Stop it. Just fucking stop it. Leave it alone. You’ve been having initiatives non-stop since 1997. Mainly, they’re just attempts to fuck with people’s heads, but sometimes you insist on taking perfectly serviceable public institutions into dark corners and mutilating them horribly. You’ve made the country an international laughing stock under the leadership of a man whose main talent is receiving rich men’s gifts. Because of you, people worldwide think we’re wankers. They argue about America, but they say: “the Brits – what a lot of wankers. Look at that government of theirs. At least we can agree on that”.

Now I know this is our fault. We were desperate, and desperate people fall for conmen in the same way that old folks get bullied into buying useless alarm systems by sleazy door to door salesmen, a technique that David Blunkett has adopted wholesale in his home affairs policy. All you have to offer us is fear, and now we’re so disgusted with ourselves that a lot of us have stopped voting.

We’ll sort it out sometime, but meanwhile just go and sit in a corner, suck your thumbs draw your wages and do nothing.

And finally, Dave discovers the best movie title ever while Alison discovers that Jude Law is a Watchmen fan and has a Rorschach tattoo:

Blimey. Let's 'ave a look. That's fifteen minutes of quality television right there.

Go back to your constituencies and prepare for...

Just quoting this so there's a slim chance I might notice it again in five years time and be able to laugh in UKIP's faces about it. (If they still exist then, of course):
A rising groundswell of anti-Brussels opinion will force Britain to leave the European Union within five years, the West Midlands' first United Kingdom Independence Party MEP has predicted.

Still, always fun to watch their slender grasp on reality:

UKIP claims that only ten per cent of UK trade is with EU partners. It wants Britain to leave Europe but to sign a trading agreement with the EU.

Mr Nattrass, who claimed 70 per cent of UK law was decided by the EU, said: "It is ridiculous that we should be tied by all these regulations when most of our products are going to the home market and other parts of the country.

"We should be looking at the Far East and China and India because that's where tomorrow's trade will come from." ...

A Department of Trade and Industry spokesman said that in 2003 the UK trade to the expanded EU was worth £109 billion or 58.5 per cent of Britain's total trade. For the period January to June this year the figure was £53 billion or 58.7 per cent of the total.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Understanding from the bottom of the bottle

Now it all makes sense - to be able to understand the ideas of the Adam Smith Institute, one needs to have knocked back 3 litres of White Lightning first.

This is the Central Scrutinizer

It was about this time that someone came up with the idea of Total Criminalization, based on the principle that if we were all crooks we could at last be uniform to some degree in the eyes of The Law.

Shrewdly, our legislators calculated that most people were too lazy to perform a real crime. So new laws were manufactured, making it possible for anyone to violate them day or night, and, once we had all broken some kind of law, we'd all be in the same big happy club, right up there with the President, the most exalted industrialists, and the clerical big shots of all your favourite religions.

Total Criminalization was the greatest idea of its time, and was vastly popular. Except with those people who didn't want to become crooks or outlaws.

(Frank Zappa, Joe's Garage)

661 new crimes - and counting:

It's not only old-fashioned criminals who have been in the government's sights. People who weren't considered criminal until the turn of the century have found that their "inappropriate behaviours" have been outlawed. Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, has asked each government department how many criminal offences it has created since May 1997. The Ministry of Defence hasn't replied yet (I suppose it's been busy), but the rest of Whitehall has admitted to inventing 661 crimes. As Hughes points out, Labour home secretaries of the past, such as Roy Jenkins, strove to reduce the number of criminal offences -- by legalising abortion and homosexuality, for example. Not so Straw and Blunkett.

Many of their new laws conjure up an unnerving picture of a Britain on the edge of anarchy. What, for instance, explains schedule 26 paragraph 18 (4) of the School Standards Framework Act 1998, which made it a criminal offence "wilfully to obstruct an inspector conducting an inspection of a nursery"? Had kindergarten teachers locked their tots in the classroom and refused to open the door? Or armed themselves with Paddington Bears and beaten the inspectors senseless? Section 3 of the Transport Act 2000 criminalised "the provision of air traffic services without a licence". Until then, presumably, the clear and present danger of demented radio hams directing transatlantic flights into Gatwick hotels had flourished unchecked.

Arrests for all offences proposed:

Police in England and Wales could be given powers to arrest people for minor offences such as graffiti or litter. ..

The government is also considering allowing police to test anyone they have arrested for drugs, regardless of whether they have been charged with an offence...

Police could also have the power to fingerprint drivers at the roadside, as well as at police stations.

(The job of the Central Scrutinizer is to enforce all the laws that haven't been passed yet)

The crazy world of...non-league football

The chairman, staff and several supporters of Farnborough Town are currently locked into their ground in an attempt to stop two businessmen taking over the club. Maybe they should call it an 'occupation' so the local SWP will come along and help them out?

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Feed your mind (and other bad puns)

This looks quite interesting - a collection of feeds from UK political blogs (found via Perfect). Feel free to complain about those blogs missing from the list...

Character names supplied by the Rothman's Yearbook

I watched Mystic River this morning - just the sort of film to get you in a happy, summery mood - and noticed that it, like Stepford Wives last week also had characters with the same names as British sportsmen. In this case, journeyman lower division striker Sean Devine as well as Manchester United defender (and Peter Kay impersonator) John O'Shea.

Of course, this has now cursed all my movie-watching for months to come as I'll now be looking out for shared names in everything I watch.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Same old, same old

Wouldn't it be more newsworthy to discover that there's a leading player somewhere who hasn't been linked with a move to Real Madrid?

Methinks he doth protest too much

I think Guacamoleville gets it right in talking about the media demanding a 'maverick' candidate for Hartlepool. Still, there's always the guy who runs the duty-free shopping ship if the monkey Mayor and the orange-ukipitan aren't going to stand.

But, I do think Kilroy-Silk's statements in this article are very much on the lines of 'everything is alright, please don't feel the need to investigate further, all is well within UKIP, we agree on everything'. For instance:
"There is no fierce infighting at all - I have never known a political party so at one.

"I do not know one single person in the party who did not want me to stand and I wanted to stand. I was very excited by the prospect and very enthusiastic."

Monday, August 09, 2004

New toys

I've now got one of these.

Europa Universalis II is in the post.

I should be getting broadband installed in the next week or so.

I may never leave the house again.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Worth waiting 44 years for...

One of those trivial urges led me to discover this list of wedding anniversary gifts, just to check some of the more obscure ones - yes, divorce papers could be construed an appropriate gift for the first anniversary - only to discover that there are also some modern alternative to the traditional, some of which are, frankly, bizarre. For instance, who decided that 'desk sets' were an appropriate 7th anniversary gift, musical instruments for the 24th or 'optical goods' for the 48th? There's an air of someone filling space with some of the entries like furniture for the 17th (which gets replaced 12 years later), bronze for the 19th, and alabaster for the 37th.

But it's in the 40s where the list starts to get slightly surreal, going from the traditional ruby at 40 to land at 41, 'improved real estate' (well, all that furniture has to fit somewhere, and it's good to put something on the land, I suppose) at 42, travel at 43 and then, obviously because the last 3 have cleaned out the savings, the 44th is the rather simple 'groceries'. There's a brief return to expense with sapphires at 45, then the following years are an 'original poetry tribute', books and the aforementioned telescopes and microscopes before the 49th gets the gift of the rather vague 'luxuries, any kind'.

The mention of the generic 'luxuries' does make me wonder whether part of the list was composed with the help of a cargo manifest from Elite but as yet there's no mention of a 'radioactives' or 'narcotics' anniversary, so maybe not.

The day Kilroy lost his mind

Ah, two of my favourite things put together: ridiculing Robert Kilroy-Silk and UKIP, combined with a Chris Morris sketch. Is that the Mind Your Language theme music? (via doctorvee)

Swivel-eyed splits

It's always fun to watch fringe parties consuming themselves as the massed egos clash:
The UK Independence Party was in disarray last night after its members turned on Robert Kilroy-Silk, its brightest star, and attempted to block him from standing for Parliament.

Less than two months after its triumphant performance in the European elections, the UKIP's honeymoon period came to an abrupt end with fierce infighting over the selection of a candidate for the Hartlepool by-election in autumn. Mr Kilroy-Silk, a former television presenter, had voiced his intention to stand in the seat made vacant by the appointment of Peter Mandelson as EU commissioner.

Senior party members, however, have moved to block him after claims that he openly flaunted his leadership ambitions...

Many people believe that the former Labour MP is the only candidate capable of mounting a campaign that can challenge Labour.

Those close to Roger Knapman, the UKIP leader, think otherwise. One party member said: "Keeping Kilroy down has become more important than getting an MP." The winning candidate is likely to be a relatively unknown local activist...

Many veteran UKIP members, however, are bitter that Mr Kilroy-Silk has stolen the limelight since he was elected as MEP for the East Midlands in June. Although Mr Knapman, the former Tory MP for Stroud, has led the party since 2002, Mr Kilroy-Silk has been the star of the show since the elections, when he attracted the most publicity.

Allies of Mr Knapman fear that if the "housewives' choice" succeeds in becoming an MP it would make his leadership aims unstoppable.

On a related matter, I do wonder if there's going to be one last twist in Hartlepool when Mandelson decides he doesn't want to become a Commisioner and there's no by-election after all the sound and thunder.