Interesting use of YouTube

A current Lords parliamentary inquiry is allowing YouTube submissions from members of the public.  The inquiry is on the topic of how people engage with the work of the House of Lords and Parliament more generally.

One such member of the public who has shared her views is, erm, Jo Swinson, in an excellent short video that addresses many of their questions.

You can see the video for yourself here on the Parliamentary YouTube channel, along with many other interesting shorts, including information about the clock that chimes Big Ben.


Tweets on 2009-05-26

  • @rfenwick NO COMPROMISE!! STV MMC FTW!! #
  • None of yesterday’s brilliant sun today – it’s already gloomy enough to need lights on. #
  • Lazyweb: what’s the best free software for resizing images to exact pixel shapes to make icons etc? #
  • @edfordham change your password. Deauthorise any third party sites with permission to post (eg facebook) #
  • @chrishughes mostly PC #
  • @iaindale queues of 1hr because of lane closure after accident earlier on. Expected clear by 2245. #

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Cometh the hour, cometh PR?

It’s quiet in LDV Towers this afternoon as all the responsible editors have day job responsibilties.

We can always tell when we’re not talking about something our readers want to have their say on, because you kindly have your say on it anyway on whatever was the top post.

And today’s topic is clearly Call Me Dave’s speech on parliamentary reform, in which he sets out a series of Lib Dem policy proposals and pretends they’re new.  There’s no zealot like a recently converted zealot, but hang on a minute, Dave?  Power to the people?  Small government?  All of that is Liberalism 101, the first chapter from An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Liberalism.  We’ve long held it dear, and we simply don’t believe you when we hear it from your lips.

As Lynne Featherstone said earlier today on her blog

There is stuff that Cameron’s said which I agree with – as you would expect given that many of the ‘ideas’ he puts forward in today’s Guardian are long-standing Liberal Democrat policies! Fixed-term parliaments, reducing of the power of the executive, cutting the number of MPs, devolving power to councils and empowering individuals. Transparency and accountability – definitely. Shame Cameron has had to be dragged kicking and screaming on these. But – to be fair – at least he is going out there.

Meral Ece went one step further and noted that Cameron’s words are not all that dissimilar from Nick Clegg’s speech to conference last Spring:

“They say it takes a village to raise a child. It will take a whole nation to raise us out of these turbulent times. That’s why, if we’re to build a better tomorrow.It must be driven by a different kind of politics. Winner-takes-all politics will only ever deliver boom-and-bust economics. So, to make sure growth is driven in every part of Britain, not just London: we will devolve power. To stop vested interests from controlling the economy and holding back reform: we will bring an end to big donations. And to create an open balanced politics that includes, engages and involves every citizen of this great country: we will secure fair votes for all. And you know what else? We need to give people back their rights. We need to stop people being bullied and chivvied by a state that invades every corner of our private lives, putting our DNA on a database, fingerprinting our children at school and losing their private data on commuter trains. Our freedom is a hard-won inheritance: Liberal Democrats will get it back”

But much of the comment on the LD blogosphere this morning is reserved for David Cameron’s outright rejection of PR on the basis of a straw man paragraph at the end of his speech:

[…] a Conservative Government will not consider introducing proportional representation.

The principle underlying all the political reforms a new Conservative Government would make is the progressive principle of redistributing power and control – from the powerful to the powerless.

PR would actually move us in the opposite direction, which is why I’m so surprised it’s still on the wish-list of progressive reformers.

Proportional representation takes power away from the man and woman in the street and hands it to the political elites.

And you m’colleagues have been quick to put him right on where’s he’s wrong with this.

Millennium recaps why we’re here – from Mark Reckon’s analysis that “safe seats equals sleazy seats.”

Jennie Rigg joined Millennium and explained it’s not any old PR we need – not the bad PR we have at European elections, or the messy AV+ Scottish systems, but genuine single transferable vote in multi member constituencies.  (Oh – and David Cameron didn’t answer Jennie’s question about a return to traditional British multi-member constituencies.)

When the revolution comes, my placard will read “STV MMC FTW!”

Nottingham’s Guildhall – pictures

Friday was Nottingham Council House’s 80th birthday – it really does not seem that long ago that I was there for its 75th.  The building was open for tours all day and that meant that it was impossible to book a room for a meeting.

Coincidentally, a chap I know vaguely through the Flickr website took up his birthday present of a hot air balloon trip over Nottingham, and took a whole set of photos documenting it, including this brilliant aerial shot of the city centre centred on the Council House.  So, his photo of the building from the air captured it on its 80th birthday.

Towards the bottom of the aerial shot is Nottingham’s Guildhall on Burton Street (behind the Cornerhouse).  So when we couldn’t book a room in the Council House, we relocated our meeting to the Guildhall. I misread the agenda and for the first time in ages was early for a meeting. 40 minutes early.

Our meeting room was the Magistrates’ Retiring Room, which is a connecting room between Court I and Court II.  The Guildhall was Nottingham’s magistrates court until the early 90s when business moved to the much larger modern magistrates court near the canal. Since then, many of the rooms in the Guildhall have remained, essentially unchanged and unvisited.  My 40 minutes was enough to have a poke around and look and see.

Court 1 in Nottingham’s Guildhall on

I had a longer look around Court 2 and took some phonecam pics while I was there:

22052009026 The magistrates’ chairs – just sitting there abandoned.

Fixed wooden benchesFixed wooden benches fill the courtroom, each separated out by panelling. There’s a public/press gallery at the top. There was hardly any room for the masses of paperwork trials cause these days.

Your seat would be allocated by your role – these two have “JURORS” and “WITNESSES” in gold lettering on them.

Jurors' bench  Witnesses' bench

(Hang on a minute…? Jurors? Maybe this wasn’t a magistrate court but a crown court, but in that case, why are there three seats at the top of the room? My understanding is that magistrate cases are heard by three magistrates and crown cases by one judge…?)

The dock has a staircase…

The Dock - with stairs directly to the cells

… directly to the cells in the basement of the Guildhall


These cells are mostly used for council storage these days

Cells - mostly used for storage

Most of the time I was in Court 2, it was dead silent, and I could hear pigeons cooing and scratching in the ceiling above.

Then a staff member came through, who was clearly giving a young woman a tour of the rooms, so I skulked in a corner and listened in to what was being explained. And there were some interesting facts I learned: although the courtrooms are mostly unused, they are occasionally hired out to film and tv crews who making period drama about courts before about the 1960s. They are also used by law students at Nottingham Trent for practice / training trials and moot competitions. I butted in and asked questions too, and was told the door to the public galleries was through the Marshall Room on the first floor.

The building is fascinating, and must have an interesting history.  There are lots of interesting features like the courtrooms and cells. There’s a huge, beautiful foyer, empty and unused, with boards detailing former mayors and sheriffs, colums, tiles, mosaics and so on. There are also lower brick corridors that connect it to the other buildings on the same city block, like the Central Police Station and the fire brigade. The Guildhall is currently one of many office buildings for the City Council, and it makes a pretty useless office, and is fairly unpleasant for those that work there.

See also

Nottingham 21 – interior shots, more historical detail
My Guildhall photoset on flickr
Photo from 1906 on Nottshistory (scroll down)

Tweets on 2009-05-24

  • @adamrio as ever, bits of Liverpool look stunning, while other bits of Liverpool are struggling and boarded up. #
  • Nottingham gets the Manhattan treatment: #
  • Headline says opposite of story in this Evening Post article: #
  • @adamrio isn’t it fleet week in NY? #
  • @adamrio the photos certainly look good…? #
  • Really enjoying this photoset of a hot air balloon ride over Nottingham and Wollaton Park #
  • Doing my little “I’m in @libdemvoice ‘s Golden Dozen” dance: #
  • Brave time for @margaretmoranmp to join twitter. #
  • Following a birthday party on twitter thanks to the magic of hashtags. #
  • @thoroughlygood – I quite agree. Not sure labelling cheese is necessary, though? #
  • Cracking open a bottle from recent French trip. Enjoying the fraîcheur de réglisse. Not promising to consomme avec modération. #
  • Switching mouse hands in an effort to stave off scroll-wheel related RSI. And limiting my solitaire time. #

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Weekly catchup to 23/05/09

And goodness, what a fortnight it’s been for politics and the party.  Since we at Weekly (hem hem) Catchup left  your screens a fortnight (hem hem) ago we’ve seen a lot of movement on the political front led by the Telegraph’s sensational coverage of the “Cash for Cushions” constitutional crisis that John Stewart’s chromakey team dubbed “Scamalot“.

We kicked off our coverage with a triple bill of Norman Baker’s contributions on the matter, but it was to be a gift that keeps on giving.  Stephen ranted, then questioned; you answered in spades. Clegg weighed in. Alix assumed the position. And queried the value of cushions. But ultimately in those heady days of early-to-mid-May-2009, we still thought we’d got off lightly. We defended Andrew George; we castigated the Telegraph for its descent into the gutter; we summarized.  We told the Telegraph to say sorry

But there were flies in the ointment.  There will always be Teignbridge.  And the Rennard situation began to deepen. Party president Ros Scott intervened.

Stuff got heavy for speaker Michael Martin. Clegg called for him to go. Dozens of PPCs put their name to an open letter. And then, he resigned.  We had the first reactions. An historical view. Hardly surprising he should go when 85% of our readers thought he should. Lets hope our subsequent poll on replacement speaker is similarly influential.

In all this expenses muck, lets not forget there were saints too, at least twice.

And there were tributes too for Chris Rennard, who announced his plans to retire later this year, in uncertain circumstances addressed head on by our Editor at Large in this cracking post.

Our snap members’ poll also considered expenses. You’ll find our questions and your responses all under this link. (Unless you’re reading this long after I wrote it by which time something else will be at the top of the page)

Enough of expenses. In case you’d forgotten, we have council and Euro elections in mere weeks.  We did cover those too, with Anders Hanson urging us not to forget the locals. Stephen considered Euro-polls. Helen had news of social networks on a European level. Merlene Emerson told us of VoteMatch. We discovered to our horror we’d actually be talking about Europe in our European campaign this year. And on a more general note, Tony Greaves urged us to abolish postal votes on demand.

We’ve also been taking on the BNP head-on in the last few weeks. Mark showed their election address is a tissue of lies; they have difficulty with numbers; and they used a photo of one of our servicemen without permission. It would be a tragedy if the expenses scandal put them into the European Parliament. After all, there’s Nothing British about them, no matter how hard they gatecrash the Queen

On other topics from our guest-contributors this week: Nonsense on stilts from our Chancellor, says Ed Randall. Daniel Russell is pushing for electoral reform and so is Layla Moran. Luke Burford is almost on board whilst Mark Thompson has been with us for a while. Benjamin Mathis gunned for the man in tights; Ed Fordham gave us a sneak preview of his Newsnight appearance. Kalvis Jansons explained his thinking behind the “PM Resign” petition. And Hywel Morgan wondered just how much money MPs should spend on food.

On a completely different note, Caron Lindsay told us of a struggle within the Scottish church over the fate of a gay minister in Aberdeen. (Earlier this evening, the result of the vote was announced.)

A post about a non-partisan repository of leaflets became a reliving of the Bermondsey byelection in the comments. I highlighted some opportunities to work for the party. We brought you the two  new party election broadcasts, #1 and #2.  

We launched a new strand of content called Daily View which we brought to you on the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 18th, 21st, 22nd and 24th.  After all that, we’ve nearly got the rota straight and almost decided what to call it.

In CommentIsLinked@LDV:
Clegg – restore trust in democracy
Cable Arthur, Delia, rotten bubble
Norman Baker on expenses

In numbers this week:
Golden Dozen #117
Y barcud Oren #8 

Tweets on 2009-05-23

  • Really struggling to remember this month’s 4-digit Guildhall door code. #
  • Early for a meeting. Touring the deserted old courtrooms and cells and taking pics. #
  • Motoring through my call sheet. #
  • @stephenbarker – kind offer. I have it in my phone but normally by now I’ve got it automatically in my mind too. #
  • Today was Nottingham Council House’s 80th birthday. Doesn’t seem five minutes since it was 75, let alone 5 years. #
  • @kayray do you know about BookMooch? I’m slowly emptying my house, one book at a time. #
  • RT @carriequinlan: go and type 54 Great Russell St, Camden Town in to google streetview. NOW. h/t @debaucherydean, @holymolydotcom #
  • 12seconds – Court 1 in Nottingham’s Guildhall #

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Tweets on 2009-05-22

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How much space?

How much space

An interesting photo is doing the rounds at the moment – I saw it on JoeMyGod but Andrew Sullivan explains best what the photo is:

Image via SUNY Stonybrook Department of Geosciences (h/t: Ian Swain, Martin Prosperity Institute). This poster, courtesy of the city of Muenster, Germany, illustrates the different amounts of space taken up by different kinds of transit.
  • Bicycle – 90 sq. m for 71 people to park their bikes.
  • Car – 1000 sq. m for 72 people to park their care (avg. occupancy of 1.2 people per car).
  • Bus – 30 sq m for the bus.