Tweets on 2009-03-31

  • Hmm. Today’s afternoon play on R4 is about the Dewey Decimal system… #
  • @markpack There was a certain frisson in trying to remember Dewey codes before the plot revealed them… #
  • Hmm. Intrigued by podcast called “Kill him!” On closer inspection, it’s actually “Kim Hill”. #
  • Off to Birmingham to Be A Councillor. #
  • Wow, how long have you been able to get directly to platform 6 from the main concourse distribution bridge? #
  • Ooh. Burton on Trent is “a gateway to the National Forest.” Just “a” gateway? #
  • Leaving Birmingham New Street station. Don’t thing I’ve ever done that before. #
  • Avoiding Needless Alley. Hoping I’m on track. #
  • Roomful of councillors has made a list of 184 people who’d make good councillors. #
  • Boarding train for Nottingham. At least, train says Derby but guy on platform promises it really means Nottingham. #
  • Two of my three meals today have come from AMT kiosks. #
  • Apparently, today’s UK terror alert status is “Jazz hands”: #
  • @toranika LDV’s 12seconds channel is here: #
  • Scheduling loads of posts for tomorrow on LDV. Making up for two weeks’ silence. #

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Stop executions of gay Iraqis

Iraqi-LGBT reports that the administration in Iraq is about to begin executing gay Iraqis.

Urgent action is needed to halt the execution of 128 prisoners on death row in Iraq. Many of those awaiting execution were convicted for the ‘crime’ of homosexuality, according to IRAQI-LGBT, a UK based organisation of Iraqis supporting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Iraq.

According to Ali Hili of IRAQI-LGBT, the Iraqi authorities plan to start executing them in batches of 20 from this week.

IRAQI-LGBT urgently requests that the UK Government, Human Rights Groups and the United Nations Human Rights Commission intervene with due speed to prevent this tragic miscarriage of justice from going ahead.

Earlier in the month, officials working in the UK Borders Agency advised a gay Iraqi that they would be returning him to Iraq.

Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrats’ housing spokeswoman, who is the Iraqi’s MP, is perplexed by a recommendation from the UKBA that the Iraqi conduct his relationships in private.

The document says: “Even if your client’s homosexuality were to be established it is viewed that it would be possible for your client to conduct such relationships in private on his return to Iraq. This would allow your client to express his sexuality, albeit in a more limited way than he could do elsewhere.”

Teather, the MP for Brent East, said: “Immigration ministers need to show some humanity. If this deportation goes ahead there is a terrible risk that this man will be killed. How can we possibly claim to be a country that values human rights if we are willing to endanger a life in this way?”

ALDC’s “Local Solutions” conference – book now!

An email arrived yesterday reminding me that today, 31st March, is the last opportunity to register for early bird rates for ALDC’s Local Solutions conference in June.

Last year, LDV made recordings of the plenary sessions – still available here, here and here – if you want a flavour of the day. We intend to be there in June – and our aim will be to ask councillors across the UK to write more for LDV on how Lib Dems are making a difference on the ground.

On being a councillor

Last night, I joined Steve Hitchins and Laura Willoughby at Birmingham Council House for a training event all about encouraging local parties and council groups to recruit a new generation of councillors.
Steve Hitchins recruits 184 new people to be a councillor on

The session was called “Be a councillor” – and I hope each and every one of you reading these words has heard of it, not least because for the last month and the next one, they have been advertising on Lib Dem Voice in a beautiful Flash advert on our sidebar. The programme continues around the country, and you can find a full list of venues on ALDC’s website.

The event is targetted squarely at existing councillors and those people running local parties – something not immediately clear from the title of the training session. There is some value in attending if you yourself want to be a councillor, but the people who will gain most from this are those charged with recruiting the next group of people who will represent the Liberal Democrats on local authorities up and down the country.

It was an enjoyable and thought-provoking evening. Topics covered included the changing role of local government; the qualities needed in tomorrow’s elected members; and what local parties need to do to attract and hold onto quality people. The evening culminated in asking each of us there to write out a list of people we knew in our wards and constituencies who would make good councillors. Between us, we identified 184 people – many of whom do not yet know they are Liberal Democrats!

Perhaps the most useful thing I took away from the session is the need for local parties to be clear about just what they are asking of both existing councillors and new ones. Are your approval processes adequate? Do you have a job description saying what you expect from your councillors? And do you have a councillor contract? And on all of these things, ALDC can help.

Be a Councillor continues its UK tour (Laura Willoughby promised there would be gig tshirts soon) – the next date is April 20th in Eastbourne – but the full list of venues is here (pdf).

Catchup to 29/03/09

Welcome to your sneaky guide to the best of LDV from the last fortnight.

In Op-eds, we had a round-up of polls after previous Labour governments from York Membery. Jock Coats told us of the opportunity of a lifetime to build anew, build better. Cllr Jenni Clutten asked whether we can trust our young people and Gareth Aubrey asked whether we can win them.

Our MP for Taunton Jeremy Browne penned a piece to explain why he was one of only two Lib Dem MPs to vote against allowing the Youth Parliament to meet in the House of Commons and Diana Wallis, our MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, put forward suggestions to help improve the gender balance at the European Commission. Michael Moore MP, who represents Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk gave his considered view about development in a downturn.

Julian Harris wrote about trading away poverty whilst Daniel Furr thinks the answer lies in world government. As the expenses row raged on, Hywel Morgan found a curious comparison amongst seven North London MPs. Joe Taylor thinks he has the answer to expense problems. Merlene Emerson checked out the quality of the air we breathe. James Graham was not impressed at the cost of Labour’s free lunch database.

As is often the case, a deliberative post on who are the Lib Dems drew a large number of comments this week when Geoffrey Payne asked “What is an economic liberal?” Alix Mortimer asked “what next?” for David Heath’s defeated fuel poverty bill, and we all learned that vegetarians are terrorists.

In our poll category, we asked whether Sir Fred should keep his pension, and you said yes. We asked if you supported minimum alcohol prices. And we asked if, in the event of a hung parliament where one party won more seats but another party won more votes… which should we back? We also had the return of our members’ survey. If you’re a paid up party member, you can join our panel here.

A busy week for CommentIsLinked@LDV saw Nick Clegg writing about the banking system not once, but twice. Michael Moore told readers of the New Statesman about broken promises. Vince Cable’s got a book out. Both Norman Baker and Nick Clegg wrote pieces about the Iraq war enquiry we need. And David Steel remembered to the Daily Mail that 28 March 1979 was the night that Labour self-destructed.

We learned a night in a police cell costs £853; we were saddened by the death of Ron Silver, who played Bruno in the West Wing; we were intrigued by news of a new voting system called Majority Judgement; we learned Gordon Brown is so unpopular in the Labour party that he’s not mentioned in their latest recruitment leaflet. It only takes three hours to learn how to fight the war against terror. Tony McNulty is terrible at timing. Nick Clegg responded to the economic crisis with a refinement of our tax policy.

And there’s a special place in this catchup for Eric Pickles. He fluffed it on Question Time, a fact that the right-wing blogs somehow failed to mention.

And a final paragraph to note that our colleague Mark Pack is moving on after ten years at Lib Dem HQ. All the very best in your new position, Mark, and we hope you’ll still find time to write for LDV.

The fortnight in numbers
Haggis Neeps and Liberalism #3
Golden Dozen #109
Y Barcud Oren #6

And in our private members’ forum
Mandatory retirement age still legal
Tax cuts now off the agenda?
Direct mail with multiple candidates
Kirklees WarmZone scheme

Writing more

One of the places the wedding news arrived at was UMRA, the Archers newsgroup, via an old friend who gave a link to tweets.

In the way that discussion does on UMRA, conversation digressed and included remarks to the effect that this place is less readable now it is cluttered up with tweets.

That’s an entirely true criticism and one I have heard before. The long pages of bulletted tweets, often only half of a conversation it is nearly impossible to follow, do change the nature of this place. And including them here is a short cut, because I don’t find time often enough to write more substantive posts.

And even when I do write more stuff here, I often get halfway through and think, “This would make more sense / reach a wider audience on LDV” so pack up tools here and post the piece over at

If you are bothered by the tweets, I’ve made two new links available over on the side bar – a link to the site without the tweet posts, and a link to the feed for the site without tweets. You’re more than welcome to use those if you like, and I shan’t be the least offended!

These are possible thanks to the magic of wordpress. The tweet category on this site is cat 19, so adding &cat=-19 into an url suppresses posts in that category. The url does however get a little bit lost if you keep pressing “older posts” and gets completely broken by page 3,

The magic of wordpress is also helping to bring more content to these pages. I’ve also installed a WordPress plugin called FeedWordPress which will automatically copy across the posts I write for LDV onto these pages. This may be a little weird. The posts will be in a category called “First appeared on LDV” and you won’t be able to comment on them. There should always be a link back to the main website, so do comment over there. Some of the posts may make little sense here – not least the Weekly Catchup… But we’ll see how it goes and make changes if necessary.

Getting married

Hopefully all those of you who read this blog will have read the news of our engagement from a tweet sent on Monday.

This has proven a pretty effective way of getting the news out – an awful lot of people have subsequently contacted us to say they’re happy, to offer congratulations and to enquire about dates.

We won’t be setting a date yet, and we are trying to avoid spending too much time thinking about it whilst one of us still has serious academic obligations that are supposed to be filling much of his time. That said, we’ll probably be trying to get along to a Wedding Fayre on Palm Sunday to see how the land lies. (“If they spell it with a Y, more people will come”)

This blog won’t transform into a wedding angst blog, rest assured. It’s almost impossible to write about within my personal blogging rule, which is not to talk about too much people who are not themselves living their lives online or in public. It’s one thing to decide to talk about the things I do and to talk about politics in public, but it’s unfair to drag other people into the public domain without their permission. (This is the reason, incidentally, that I do not use my fiancé’s name in full anywhere on the blog.)

So, some general thoughts on weddings and marriages in particular. Clearly as two men, we’re not getting married in a church. Bizarrely, I learned last year, that the Civil Partnerships Act is so framed as to prohibit even those faiths that were happy to marry gay couples from doing it. For example, the British Quakers were more than happy to recognise lasting gay unions, but are not allowed to get involved in civil partnerships.

I’m quite sad that this means we won’t be able to use any of those lovely hymns I spent my childhood as a choirboy singing. It might mean we end up having a singalong at the reception as a way of circumventing the rules!

Such little preliminary planning as we have done has consisted of browsing various websites of the hotels and other places near Nottingham that do weddings. And some things spring to mind: few of them mention any prices at all. Few of them refer to civil partnerships as an option as well as civil marriage. None of them is big enough to house our entire combined friends and families (although when we finally get hold of the prices, we may well have to viciously prune the guestlists and hope not everyone invited can make it!)

Hmm. Awfully big adventure, this.

Tweets on 2009-03-28

  • @FemmedeR what ‘appened with you story yesterday? #
  • @miketd can only see half your conversation, but le roux / la rousse is redhead; le/la russe = Russian; le roux also as in sauce. #
  • @miketd Larousse, however is a dictionary named after this guy… #
  • @miketd les roustons, however are… erm… things that come in pairs that only men have… is any of this helping? 🙂 #
  • Get excited and make things: #
  • @lfeatherstone pesky squirrels #
  • @madamemish Grey’s Anatomy here. This is living indeed. #
  • @madamemish Weird how George is back, no? Massive Chrichton homage? #

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