Tweets on 2009-04-30

  • @adambird I should hope so – according to their promos it takes months to learn to chop vegetables properly. Can’t afford high turnover! #
  • @jamesgraham soyez le bienvenue! bonnes vacances! (PS how busy is the train today?) #
  • @helenduffett bet it’s cold down there too #
  • Staring helplessly at the computer screen unable to work out why the work isn’t doing itself. Bah. Sniffle. Bleurgh. Oink. #
  • Not sure whether I prefer “snoutbreak” or “armagammon” #
  • @onthehour 4 o’clock? Already ? It can’t be! #
  • Wow. “Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg organised the drubbing” according to #BBCr4 headline #ghurka #
  • Nottm MPs Simpson and Palmer amongst Lab #Ghurka rebels. Shame on Heppell and Allen. http://tr.im/k2l0 #
  • @owenblacker Still strangely fond of “snoutbreak” mesen. #
  • @madamemish Speed restrictions, hence need for engineering works. Target is “Nottingham in 90″ http://tr.im/k5v6 #
  • @tonytheaker don’t forget a tin opener :) #

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Bloggers unanimous: Ghurkha champion Clegg aced PMQs

As I type, the Lib Dems are holding the Government to account on their stance on rights for Ghurka troops to settle in the UK.

But in PMQs this afternoon, Clegg launched a blistering attack on the Prime Minister on the Ghurka issue, despite following Cameron’s similar question.

And he’s been rewarded for his efforts with a round of ace reviews from bloggers across the spectrum:

Jane Marrick: Clegg’s finest hour

But it was Clegg who played the real blinder. This was the Lib Dem leader’s best performance at PMQs. Clegg has struggled to find the right issue to get the PM on, but this, on the Gurkhas, is the right one.

Guido Fawkes: Clegg Hits His Mark

Iain Dale: Clegg Shines and puts Brown on the Ropes

This was Nick Clegg’s strongest performance yet at PMQs in his 16 months as LibDem leader. Despite being pre-empted by Cameron, he put Brown on the back foot.

Gordon Brown 5
David Cameron 6
Nick Clegg 7

UPDATE: Andrew Neil has just said that the Daily Politics has never had such an avalanche of emails after PMQs as today on the Gurkhas. Furthermore, every single one of them supported the Gurkhas. Every. Single. One.

Caron’s Musings: Clegg slams Brown on Ghurkas

Brown gave a bit of a lacklustre answer, which, to be honest, it was hard to imagine he actually believed himself. Nick came straight back at him saying that “his answer was that of a man who knows he’s doing a shameful thing but doesn’t have the guts to admit it or change it.”

I want Clegg fighting on my side if I’m ever in trouble.

Paul Waugh: Clegg wins PMQs

[...] it was Nick Clegg who won the day. Many of us thought he would have to junk his Gurhka questions after Cameron majored on the subject. Yet as it happened, the Lib Dem leader was more passionate and more scathing than his Tory counterpart.

Final word to Jane Merrick:

PS I get the feeling this will be settled by the end of the week with another u-turn. At least two newspapers are running campaigns on the Gurkhas, including the Sun (which never loses campaigns). This is an issue where there is cross-party anger.

It’s a crying shame that on such an issue the Government has to be forced into providing justice for brave soldiers.

Tweets on 2009-04-29

  • Trying to resist the temptation to type “@jamesgraham you mean you don’t already?” Curses! Failed! #
  • Finding it very hard to believe the govt wanna tear down a successful windfarm and replace with with a nuclear power plant http://tr.im/jUTg #
  • The number of Actimel pots and catfood tins soaking in the sink betrays how long it’s been since we last washed up. #
  • I can’t hear right and my nose is blocked. Blaming #swineflu. #
  • Spicy curry will show those swine who’s boss! #
  • Walls sausage ad seems to be saying they make sausages out of the two best bits of small children. #
  • Lego Silence of the Lambs – The Musical! (NSFW) http://tr.im/jYon #
  • Don’t wanna be Obama’s Elf: http://tr.im/k0I8 #

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Supermajority back on the cards?

Over in the States, the Senate Democrats are currently three members short of 60, a magic number which means they can end filibusters and drive through legislation the Republicans are really unhappy with.

With the elections long over, most have assumed that’s that for the Democrats chances of getting to supermajority. We thought it possible, but unlikely, back last November.

Yet things still seem to be going their way. Firstly there’s an independent member who caucuses with the Democrats: 58. The 59th member is Al Franken, a senatorial candidate for the Democrats in Minnesota who should have won ages ago but is having to fight court battles to hold onto his seat. The latest is that the Minnesotan courts have declared him the winner, but his opponent Norm Coleman still has the right to an appeal and then to appeal further to federal courts. Talk about a sore loser.

But finally this week the 60th Democratic senator emerged in the form of defecting Republican senator Arlen Spector, who has crossed the floor in opposition to just how right-wing the Republicans have become recently. Claiming he is following the trend set by 200,000 Republicans in his home state of Pennsylvania, Spector says his philosophy is now more in line with the Democrats.

As the NY Times reports:

Democrats were jubilant about the development.

President Obama was handed a note from an aide at 10:25 a.m. on Tuesday during his daily economic briefing. The note, according to a senior administration official, said: “Specter is announcing he is changing parties.”

Seven minutes later, Mr. Obama reached Mr. Specter by telephone. In a brief conversation, the president said: “You have my full support,” according to the official who heard the phone call. The president added that we are “thrilled to have you.”

Last time we discussed this on’t Voice, a deal of discussion ensued about the value of strong government. Should the Democrats get the awesome power of a filibuster-proof senate? Or is their greater value in having to work for consensus?

Random thoughts on litter picking

Last Monday, I went to help with an event organised with a school and residents association in my ward. They were litter picking over lunchtime, with lots of children and residents on hand to help out.

A local resident has lots of information and pictures here.

Armed with a black bag and litter picker, I spent about an hour and a half wandering up familiar streets picking up small pieces of litter, and, in no particular order, here are the thoughts that occurred to me:

  1. I probably wouldn’t have been so happy to help if the weather hadn’t been quite so good.
  2. A litter picker is no substitute for a broom.
  3. Lots of the litter is stuff that didn’t exist a few decades ago: tin cans, plastic sweet wrappers.
  4. A sizeable proportion of the litter is to do with smoking or drinking: fag packets, cellophane, cigarette butts, broken bottles, lager tins.
  5. There’s an awful lot of litter, even on streets that look relatively clean.
  6. There’s an amazing amount of stuff stuck in hedges that has probably been there years.
  7. There’s no way councils can remove all of this litter on their own.  There has to be a three part approach – council tidying, dropping less litter in the first place, and communities taking charge of their own streets.

20 Firsts meme

I see I have been tagged by Liberal England in this meme:

First Job
I worked alternate Saturdays in Ludlow Library, helping with shelving books. I wasn’t supposed to use the computers, but they couldn’t keep me away. And I ended up bagsying so many good returns I ended up learning my library card number by heart: R2206005395.

First Real Job
Working in an adult ed centre teaching people to use MS Office and computers.

First Role in Politics
Volunteer, office of Nick Clegg MEP, 2001.

First Car
An ill-fated white Rover bought for a few hundred pounds. The clutch died a few dies later, and finally the crank shaft dropped out of it during the Leicester South by-election, and it was uneconomical to repair.

First Record
When Freddie Mercury died, and Bohemian Rhapsody was getting a lot of airplay, me, my mum and my little brother went to buy the CD of it from Woolworths in Leominster. It was the first pop CD that got played in my Dad’s hifi.

First Football Match
I don’t think I’ve ever been to a football match.

First Concert
I suspect I was in concerts before I went to them. Or maybe it was the Simon and Garfunkel tribute act in Ludlow in about 1995?

First Country Visited
We were frequent visitors to Wales throughout my childhood – but first went proper abroad to France in 1989.

First TV Appearance
I don’t think I’ve been on TV. I was vox-popped for Newsnight at party conference, but I suspect I was too loyalist for broadcast. “Are you happy with the Lib Dems being a redistributionist party?” “Absolutely.”

First Political Speech
First major one would probably have been proposing an amendment to abolish Council Tax at Nottingham City Council. The Labour party weren’t impressed.

First Girlfriend/Boyfriend
Miguel, I suppose. I once travelled all the way to Warwick Uni for a date, only to be stood up by him. I later discovered he’d been whisked away to hospital for an emergency appendectomy.

First Encounter with a Famous Person
Little and Large in panto?

First Brush With Death
Playing hide and seek in Ludlow Castle, rushing around a corner to hide to discover there wasn’t a floor. I nearly plumeted to my death!

First House/Flat Owned
This one right here up a hill in Sherwood, Nottingham.

First Film Seen at a Cinema
First one I can remember is Jungle Book, but my mother has a story of me in Bambi loudly asking “Mummy, why are you crying?”

First Time on the Radio
I read out some doggerel on BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester, on the subject of salmonella.

First Politician I Met
Can it actually have been Nick Clegg?

First Book I Remember Reading
It would have to have been one of the Famous Five books.

First Visit to the London Palladium
Like Jonathan Calder, that is a pleasure I still have in store.

I don’t really tag people – if you want to take part, feel free.