Thursday, September 19, 2013
Time to prepare for the justifiable derision about to be unloaded on that proposal.
Back in the 2010 Election J.K.Rowling delivered a withering analysis of the small tax break idea which will no doubt be repeated gleefully shortly.
How can we help our MPs deal with the nose-holding they will have to do under Coalition duties?
"Maybe you know people who would legally bind themselves to another human being, for life, for an extra £150 a year? Perhaps you were contemplating leaving a loveless or abusive marriage, but underwent a change of heart on hearing about a possible £150 tax break? Anything is possible; but somehow, I doubt it. Even Mr Cameron seems to admit that he is offering nothing more than a token gesture when he tells us "it's not the money, it's the message.
Nobody who has ever experienced the reality of poverty could say "it's not the money, it's the message". When your flat has been broken into, and you cannot afford a locksmith, it is the money. When you are two pence short of a tin of baked beans, and your child is hungry, it is the money. When you find yourself contemplating shoplifting to get nappies, it is the money. If Mr Cameron's only practical advice to women living in poverty, the sole carers of their children, is "get married, and we'll give you £150", he reveals himself to be completely ignorant of their true situation.
Half a billion pounds, to send a message - would it not be more cost-effective, more personal to send all the lower-income married people flowers?"
Friday, November 09, 2012
Mitt Romney's 'Project ORCA' Was A Total Disaster, And It May Have Cost Him The Election
From the very start there were warning signs. After signing up, you were invited to take part in nightly conference calls. The calls were more of the slick marketing speech type than helpful training sessions. There was a lot of "rah-rahs" and lofty talk about how this would change the ballgame.
Working primarily as a web , I had some serious questions. Things like "Has this been stress tested?", "Is there redundancy in place?" and "What steps have been taken to combat a coordinated DDOS attack or the like?", among others. These types of questions were brushed aside (truth be told, they never took one of my questions). They assured us that the system had been relentlessly tested and would be a tremendous success.
reviews of electric cigarettes
Thursday, February 23, 2012
What is going on in the deaf community? And what can deaf Liberal Democrats do to help more people participate in politics? And if Mark Pack needs more examples of the power of social media today look at the sudden emergence of the Limping Chicken website.
This is how the new website explains its odd name
Earlier this month, BBC3 broadcast a documentary about five deaf teenagers. In one scene, a university note-taker told a deaf student that she couldn’t take notes for the whole lecture because “my chicken is ill.”
The note-taker’s only fault was being too honest (read this blog in her defence) but nevertheless, those words sparked an online craze in the deaf world, with social networking sites being overrun by jokes, spoof images and tribute videos about her chicken within just a few hours of the programme going out.
Those words hit a nerve because they reminded deaf people everywhere of both how random and frustrating deaf life can be. ‘Chickengate’ not only revealed the common ground deafies share, but also just how connected we are online. So this site was named in the chicken’s honour. Let’s hope its trip to the vet was successful.
We can ponder on the speed of that response and how other events in the future might change the ground game on an issue.
As for the Limping Chicken itself I do recommend you have a look at it. Already there are stories up which may surprise hearing people. For deaf Liberal Democrats like myself, could some of us make useful contributions, not necessarily political. And for all of us, are there points raised on which we could and should take action?
LibDem council groups for example may find the comments on the uselessness of some interpreter services to local authorities of vital current interest. And if they don’t know about the services offered by DeafWorks, here is an opportunity to find out.
Specifically for our own party, how do we make it easier for deaf people to participate? Interpreters at major conferences are great. But so much vital business is done informally, backstage, in small meetings or even in pubs.
If we were an autocratic party with conference goers basically sheep to be bleated at, this might matter less. But our party at its best is not like that. For my part I have given up on going to regional or national conferences as I can get so little done of any value in all the multiples of noise.
I don’t have a back-pocket solution to this. It would be interesting to discuss the problem however. The stories in the Limping Chicken provide a new expression of the narrative of deaf life in Britain. I suggest this can help all of us to define what we need to tackle.
Anna @ sewa mobil
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Why are we discussing the possibility of a State Funeral for Mrs Thatcher? Such things are not part of our historic treatment of the Heads of Government in the UK. And according to the political editor of the Daily Telegraph the innovation in this case risks insulting and belittling many patriotic citizens.
Peter Osborne wrote in his blog
Clem Attlee was deputy prime minister during the Second World War, and went on to lead the Labour government which founded the National Health Service and created the modern welfare state. He was mourned at a quiet funeral at Temple Church near Westminster. Harold Macmillan was put to rest at a small service near his Sussex home.
Such modesty does not suit our self-aggrandising modern politicians.
For my part I note that the idea of a State Funeral arose during the Premiership of Gordon Brown which was when the back-stage discussions started. I wonder if Brown had ulterior motives in this – making troubles for David Cameron for example.
Peter Osborne explains why the whole idea might backfire
On (December 20th) David Farham, a former miner, had a letter published in his local newspaper, The Shields Gazette. He wrote:
“I am proud to say I was on strike for 12 months in the 1984-5 strike, when Thatcher used the full might of [the] state to defeat us. I would stand on a picket line now if it would prevent her having a state funeral. She had a near-pathological hatred of trade unions, and referred to us as the 'enemy within’, but what did we do that was so treacherous? We struck to prevent pit closures and protect jobs – with disastrous consequences. Look at the ghost towns of former pit villages which she left devastated."
Osborne says he takes the view that Thatcher was right to do what she did even with the consequences so dire. But
Mr Farham – who accurately states in his letter that there are “hundreds of thousands like me” – has every right to believe what he does. He is a British citizen just as much as the most ardent of Thatcher fans, with the proviso that, as a miner, he probably worked harder and risked more for his country than they did.
Yet the British Establishment is now planning to insult Mr Farham, and the many honest and patriotic people who agree with him, by making Lady Thatcher the first prime minister to be given a state funeral since Churchill. This cannot be right.
The whole of Osborne’s piece and the blog comments re well worth reading in full.
This raises a question in my mind.
If the national extravaganza goes ahead the consequences look likely to be embittering rather than unifying. However if Cameron blocks this he is likely to worsen the animosity towards him held by the Tory True Believers who already despise his leadership. So which bullet will he bite?
Is it up to the LibDems to defuse this Labour inspired booby trap? And perhaps inspire a return to more modest profiles for our National Leaders? The job certainly needs doing or the UK will shuffle into a completely unnecessary bout of class war shouting which will damage our current efforts to stabilise the economy. Too may people will invest in heat and invective rather than reflection and constructive arguments over possible choices now before us..
Friday, December 16, 2011
As we tackle the process of objecting (or not) to the Boundary commission proposals, it's worth looking at what happens in states where the political classes can maddle unconstrained...
This is the proposal for a Congressional District in Pennsylvania. The new 7th district.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Back in 1970, seven people met to re-found North Buckinghamshire Liberals. The association had collapsed at the General Election of that year. One of this gallant band was Ilsa Greig, who has just died a few days short of her 89th birthday.
Liberalism in the UK owes a huge debt to a handful of people who refused to be pushed aside and fought for liberal principles against all odds. Ilsa was an inspirer and motivator for many people over the decades – many will remember her networking at national conferences, bringing people together and encouraging their Liberal careers.
As a young woman in Austria she survived the horrors of the Nazi Anschluss. All her life she has stood up to bullies and told everyone the truth as she saw it. A wonderful and sometime unsettling colleague, who always made it clear there is no contradiction between loyalty to a cause and fortright honesty in debate.
Milton Keynes Liberal Democrats are now a vibrant and effective political force, competing for control of the City Council. Many key campaigners were nurtured and encouraged by Ilsa over the years.
Thank you for your life, Ilsa.
Her funeral will be on Tuesday 22 November 10 am in Crownhill Crematorium, Milton Keynes.
Monday, November 14, 2011
The Independent Taskforce on Student Finance is today (14 Nov 2011) holding a ‘Students Finance Day’ .
The taskforce says:
"This is a national day dedicated to explaining the 2012 changes to student finance in England. The main aim of the campaign is simple - to ensure people understand how the new student finance package works before they make a decision as to whether they can afford to go to university. The day is being organised by us alongside the National Association of Student Money Advisers (NASMA) and the Higher Education Liaison Officers Association (HELOA)."
This is building on the work of Martin Lewis and others to provide accurate guides for students and their families. In particular to knock on the idea that from 2012 students need to pay three times more during their study period than students registered in 2011 and before.
There is a website for the taskforce with links to several very useful resources.
One resource is a video prepared by Bournemouth University which is particularly effective.
Let us hope that 2012 cohort students get the message and can make their educational decisions based on facts.
A thought. From October 2012 there will be people at Universities on the old system and on the new, able to make direct comparisons between their respective financial situations. I wonder if this will influence opinions on which of these cohorts is the better off?
Labels: student fees
Friday, November 11, 2011
There tends to be exceptionally serious programmes on TV in this week also, so I have a habit of serious thinking and reading at this time rather than unalloyed celebration at the passage of years.
Todays memory of war is on a semi-palindrome date 11th Day of 11th Month of 11th Year numbered in the 2000 series Common Era.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Hats off to the Economist which features a piece by the author of a new book on the International Arms Trade.
Andrew Feinstein comments:
In 2010 84% of retiring generals in the Pentagon went into employment with the big defence contractors. Lawmakers seldom vote against any of these gargantuan projects. They get a lot of campaign contributions from the large defence contractors, and the contractors ensure that there are jobs on these contracts in every single congressional district, even if it’s just a couple of people sitting around a table surfing the internet.
This means that anyone who votes against these projects is accused by the lobby of voting against jobs in their own constituency.
A Pentagon whistleblower I interviewed, Chuck Spinney, describes the system as a self-licking ice cream.
Feinstein in the Economist’s online More Intelligent Life ‘Quick Study’ feature.
Odd questions that come to my mind. What is the situation in the UK? Do we have self-licking ice-cream relationships with former military and civil service personnel taking up roles with the arms industry after retirement? (1)
Should MPs with significant defence establishments in their constituencies be banned from sitting on defence committees?
And should LibDems be using our presence in government to prise out more information about all this so public debates are better informed? If this is not happening, why not?
This is a matter of political will. The imperatives of national security and commercial confidentiality legitimately conceal some aspects of these deals, but they’re also used to hide the malfeasance that takes place. There needs to be greater transparency, particularly around the use of middlemen.Feinstein was a South African MP who resigned in protest over failures to investigate a $5 billion arms deal and now heads Corruption Watch in London.
Secondly, we need far stronger regulation of an industry that quite literally counts its costs in human lives and is highly under-regulated. There are negotiations in the UN at the moment for an international arms-trade treaty, but it will have to be tough with meaningful enforcement methods.
I would also suggest that no weapons manufacturer should be allowed to make any political contributions.
See Quick Study, a new series on The Economist's Prospero blog that offers a crash course in a particular subject, delivered by an expert in the field, with some suggestions for further reading and for more useful links.
(1) is a rhetorical question really…see Lewis Pages book 'Lions Donkeys and Dinosaurs' for some thoughts...
Feinstein, A (2011) “The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade”. Hamish Hamilton.
Thursday, November 03, 2011
There has been a bout of fire-flecked muttering on possible ‘Plans B’ for the economy.
Now I do have misgivings about some of the coalition strategy – because I feel there is no magic solution and any strategy has strengths and weaknesses. It would be helpful to recognise the weaknesses and deal with them rather than ignore them. Still less just demonising and insulting those who try to point them out.
Do we need to look again at very basic economic ideas seemingly absent from public discussion?
For example, what happened to the Keynsian concept of the multiplier? I have seen no real discussion of this in our defences of the Coalition strategy. And does the Coalition economic strategy imply the resurrection of the version of Saye’s Law (so-called) that Keynes claimed to have refuted? In other words, is the idea alive again that there is a natural level of employment which will be achieved when the economy balances?
As an Old Keynsian (J.K. Galbraith flavour in my youth) I need to go back to some basic texts and think these through. Anyone else for the journey?