Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Climate Change - Early Day Motions - Cameron's Green credential shows true colours. (Warwick & Leamington Liberal Democrats)

Climate Change - Early Day Motions - Cameron's Green credential shows true colours. (Warwick & Leamington Liberal Democrats): "Lib-Dem MP, Chris Huhne, has written to David Cameron, asking him to demonstrate that his party is as united in tackling climate change. All Lib Dems have signed two Early Day Motions in support of tackling climate change and in favour of the Climate Change Bill currently passing through Parliament. In contrast, fewer than half of the Conservative MPs have signed the motions to date. David Cameron himself has not signed either.
Warwick & Leamington Liberal Democrats supported these Early Day Motions recently following a talk by local expert, Matthew Rhodes. We sent letters to the Prime Minister & key Government ministers asking them to support these motions. It is disappointing that David Cameron and the Conservative party have failed to live up to their new so called Green credentials so early on by failing to support these bills."

Friday, March 24, 2006

HM Revenue & Customs

Its getting to that time of year when we complete our tax returns. I called my tax office this morning to check a few details. Government departments get a lot of bad press for example the CSA or Benefits Agency. My experience with HMRC was very positive, they had instant records of last years conversations, my current tax status, knew what they were talking about and offered simple advice that I actually understood. They were able to make changes on the system as we spoke.

The Internet Tax Return is also excellent, easy to use and as they often end up owing me money, a check lands on my doormat within days of completing it.

Well done HMRC... Whatever it is they are doing, they are doing it right.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Blue Man Group

Blue Man Group

I went to see the Blue Man Group in London yesterday with some friends. This is a stunning show and I would recommend to anyone if they get the chance.

Using complex home made instruments, they create a rhythmic backdrop for their unique blend of performance art, mime and comedy. Each piece of performance exploring relevant themes of humanity in the 21st Century with the audience participating on a range of levels.

Well worth going to see, expect something really different.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Guardian:-The scramble for schools,,1730412,00.html

A rather damning article in the Guardian that shows just how bad the situation has got. One parent considering selling a kidney to pay for private education, another having been refused their 5th choice school, appeals consultants making a fortune helping parents (those that can afford it) get the places they want, house prices going through the roof near sought after schools.

Where does this leave the bright kid from the council estate, or the mother of the child with special needs that can only get a place in a failing school with little in the way of the support she needs.

I did not have the benefit of choice when I went up to the High School.

Along with my friends from the local area, I went to the local school which was a short walk away. Some from surrounding villages arrived by school bus. There was never a question as to whether I would get a place or should I apply for a different school. I had a choice of subjects to take at O Level and further choice of A levels. Many went onto University, some to Oxbridge (one came from the local council estate). Writing this now and looking back makes it sound as though I was somehow privilaged, perhaps I was, yet this was the local village comprehensive high school in which I got an excellent education.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Snow in Harrogate.

Two days after coming home from the snow in the Alps we have some impressive snow falls in Harrogate where I am attending the spring party conference. We seem totally unable to cope with snow in this country. As I walked to the hotel last night the pavements were becoming treacherous as the temperature dropped.

I attended a consultative session on International Law, quite a complex issue. Our table was discussing the question of when is it right to intervene in the affairs of another state. We agreed that intervention could be anything from Diplomacy, International Aid, Sanctions, Peacekeeping or Military Action. The intervention needs to be appropriate to the situation. Military action should be a last resort in extreme cases. We all agreed that genocide is a situation where we have a responsibility to act.

Next up was a 'Meeting the Challenge' session hosted by some of our key women. I especially enjoyed Lynne Featherstone, I am a bit of a fan of Lynne, I love the way she communicates with people in a down to earth way, she is passionate about a style of politics that everyone can identify with.

This session was followed by the introduction of Ming Campbell as our new leader. Whilst Ming was my second choice I am confidant that Ming has the drive and ambition to lead us to greater success.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Three Valleys

I got back from another successful skiing trip this afternoon. Marek and David had rented a small apartment near the Three Valleys for the week. Stuart and I joined them for a few days as I had to be back for the party conference and Stuart has been on short term passes since the birth of his daughter a few years ago.

Now the sensible approach would have been to have warmed up on a couple of nursery blue slopes to rid myself of all the bad habits I have developed since I last went skiing a couple of years ago. Not so the other guys who are more experienced skiers than I. So a half hour trip up two gondola's later and I step out into a cafe and lift station 2.5KM up. Stunning scenery and slight altitude sickness for a couple of moments until I acclimatise.

An American we met in the bar the night before expressed his view that the ski area, "It's HUUGGE, I mean its HUUGGE Man!" Americans typically see anything European as quaint yet Huge was a far better description, three valleys each side around 1KM up, serious amounts of skiing just to get back to the lifts. Marek and David seemed intent on doing the whole area in just one afternoon and so, discretion being the better part of valour I punctuated some runs with well earned breaks in the sun at the various bars and cafe's dotted around the mountain while they went off on kamikaze missions.

I don't know where Marek & David get their energy from. Their approach to the apres ski being very similar, we ended up playing pool with some young snow borders from Yorkshire. The lads regaled us with tales of how many times they had almost killed themselves off piste and felt we would be impressed with the volume of strange coloured drinks they were pouring down their throats.

By around 2:30 they inevitably started to loose the ability to stand up straight, muscle strain coupled with alcohol poisoning. Marek and David were Cossack dancing and doing hand stands round the pool table. The young lads were starting to see us as a threat. We were chatting to their women, two attractive 18 year olds, showing a genuine interest in them as people with respect, were holding our drink, winning at pool and managed to sprint back up the hill to the hotel. The following evening when we asked them how they had got on that day they informed us that they had such bad hangovers they had not gone out all day, we casually mentioned that we had been up on the first lift to catch the virgin snow. They avoided us after that.