Monday, September 24, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I suspect the Campaign for Gender Balance are behind promoting an organisation that provides employment for so many young women.
Monday, September 17, 2007
This was our opportunity to comment on the development of our housing policy and the brand new paper written by Andrew Stunell MP. When I get a chance to read it I will comment here in more depth. So many of us were able to discuss specific and very different issues from our parts of the country and I was able to explain the housing challenges in our towns and the example of our Cricket Pitch in Leamington.
Chris Huhne joined us later and explained how we can include the Green agenda into our housing policy. Chris has some fantastic ideas on the environment and if we are heading for Zero Carbon by 2050, then we need to build these ideas into our housing policy.
Over lunch I attended a session looking at electronic voting. I explained some of our experiences at the count in Leamington in May.
Following some training in the afternoon I attended the evening Rally on Freedom & Human Rights. A series of excellent speakers showed how vital it is to stand up for these abroad and to defend them at home.
A couple of fringe events and then back to where I am staying as I have a busy day tomorrow.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
To avoid a repetition of events at last years jaunt, I have pledged not to gate crash the party run by the Scottish Liberal Democrats and not to be then led by a group of student interns to a night club on the front and force fed tequila. Though I do have a 'meeting' in the bar tonight with the rest of the West Midlands Regional Exec and I probably wont be sticking to the mineral water.
It will be a busy week though. I was impressed with the training schedule again this year. I thought I would do less training over the years, yet this year there are several new and essential courses I have pencilled in.
In recent conferences I adopted a fringe event strategy based on those that do the best food. It may seem a bit mercenary, but you must understand that my first conference I attended fringe events that seemed interesting. I tried to pack so much in and simply forgot to eat, come mid afternoon I was getting quite light headed. So a few hearty fringe buffets and a Breakfast ran by the BBC world service should see me right though with enough energy to clap at the end of Ming's Speech.
If I find a broadband connection I can hijack I will try to update you as the week progresses.
The BBC has a good summary of the situation for concerned customers.
I started wondering last night what would happen to my house if the bank did go under. (Highly Unlikely)
Will they have to sell my house to pay off their debts?
Or if the bank stops trading, would I never have to pay my mortgage again.
Well there is mixed news for people with Northern Rock mortgages. It seems our homes would not be repossessed but we would have to carry on paying our mortgages. Our mortgages are probably the strongest assets the bank has.
More disturbing is that the worlds banks are in this mess. A lack of regulation in the US and sharp practice, selling mortgages to America's vulnerable poor, that will never be paid back, has created a mess here in the UK.
A shed load of cash has gone missing and someone is going to have to pay for this.
I am pretty sure that no one is going to be rounding up those ultimately responsible.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
In a letter published in the Guardian and covered in the Independent, the coalition argue that the changes to the treaty are necessary as the EU has enlarged in recent years.
A copy of the letter is included below.
We believe it would be fitting in the EU's 50th anniversary year for the Union to agree the changes outlined in the draft Reform Treaty. These proposals have been precipitated by an increase in EU membership from 15 in 2004 to 27 members today. These enlargements have been very successful, bringing in ten former communist countries of eastern Europe to the EU fold. Any large business or other organization which almost doubled its membership in such a short space of time would have to alter its rules and modus operandi. There is no doubt that if the EU didn't address the impact of new members on its institutions, it would be severely criticised.
The draft Reform Treaty, agreed at the European Council in June, is in Britain's interests as well as the European Union's because it will lead to more efficient, effective and democratic decision-making. Ratification of the Treaty by all 27 EU Member States will help the Union to focus on the issues that really matter including a deeper Single Market and climate change. It is this agenda, rather than excessive debate about institutional reform, that should occupy the EU's energies in the years ahead.
Roland Rudd (Chairman, Business for New Europe)
Brendan Donnelly (Chairman, Federal Union)
Peter Luff (Chairman, European Movement)
Dr Olaf Cramme (Associate Director, Policy Network)
Mary Creagh MP (Chair, Labour Movement for Europe)
Phil Bennion (Chair, Liberal Democrat European Group)
Alex Bigham (Head of Communications, Foreign Policy Centre)
(signed as members of the Coalition for the Reform Treaty)
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Naomi draws a parallel between the process of torture and the events in Iraq at the beginning of 'Operation Iraqi Freedom'. From the 'showing of the instruments' months of media coverage of how the US air power would attack Baghdad, the silencing and blinding of the nation through the destruction of the telephone exchanges and media stations and then the unfettered looting of the nations infrastructure, treasures and culture.
The final stage in the process, following the dehumanising is the reprogramming, in some ways more inhumane, more sinister. Naomi again draws the parallel with torture, in the weeks before release, victims in Guantanamo are send to a place where they watch DVDs and eat junk food.
In Iraq, the sudden unfettered free market attempts to reprogramme the population with cheap consumer goods. One employee of an American company taking advantage of the new frontier exclaimed, "One well-stocked 7-Eleven could knock out 30 Iraqi stores; a Wal-Mart could take over the country."
Most disturbing is that the American idea of exporting democracy has nothing to do with good governance, its about replacing a culture that goes back to the earliest civilisation with one that has been around for a few decades.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Now the problem is that with the introduction of the new parking scheme there are simply not enough parking spaces for all the people living in these streets.
People living in the area disagree and last night put forward some imaginative ideas that would help address the problem, real community politics stuff, people reaching agreement amongst themselves as to how they want their streets to work.
Unfortunately the council showed less imagination and residents were met with a whole host of reasons why things could not be done, which seemed to be more down to cost and bureaucracy than anything else.
Here are two of the suggestions made at the meeting.
Another resident and key campaigner on this issue, proposed a scheme in Guy St that would allow parking on both sides of the road. She drew on examples in other parts of the town where similar sizes of parking spaces and road widths had recently been drawn and that this could be put in practice in Guy Street. Again this was rejected on the basis that latest guidelines require wider spaces and that the narrower spaces in other parts of the town had been laid out in earlier times. Probably during the time when the Feudal System operated from the castle when the lord of the manor could park where the hell he liked by royal charter.
I found it a frustrating meeting, you could feel the frustration on behalf of residents who really wanted to solve this, many had put a lot of work and research into the problem and it appeared they were not being listened to.
Statements that Residents had brought this problem on themselves by owning cars (in a society that almost requires it whether we like it or not) or by living there in the first place (when even young doctors cannot afford to live in the street, let alone anywhere with a drive) met with restrained anger.
I fear the council will go back and tinker with their plan and maybe squeeze a few more spaces out.
What it needs is a bit of imagination and some of the residents’ council tax money (they all have jobs and probably pay a significant amount collectively) spending on a decent scheme as that proposed in Guys Cliffe Terrace that will go a long way towards solving this problem.