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