Guardian readers switching to Lib Dems in droves

Wednesday’s editorial for the Guardian – which I found online here – is one of those pieces you see all too often in the Guardian, the time honoured preparation of the nose peg. Hold your nose, disregard the stench and put the cross by the rose.

It tries to find some vestige of hope in the Labour party, one thing remaining that is still worth voting for. But it’s the penultimate paragraph and not its conclusion that rings truest:

The party’s activists and MPs are so obviously convinced of their own decent intentions and past record that they fail to see how Labour can appear to outsiders. They have lost sight of the need to explain their actions, to listen to voters, to change and to stand up to immediate sectional self-interest – business as well as strikers. This confusion is the fault of serving ministers as much as it is the foolish greed of Hewitt and Hoon. The buzzword inside Labour’s ruling circle is renewal, but it is hard to see what this means, other than a hoped-for election win. The party is not renewing in any visible way. Its manifesto seems cloudy and unoriginal and its political base narrowing.

And the most remarkable thing about the piece? The comments that follow it. The Guardian’s online commentators are not buying it, not a bit of it.

In a number of comments, its readers are exhorting their paper to switch to the Liberal Democrats.

Claire McW:

Surely the Guardian can’t officially support Labour in the general election after this week’s revelations? They don’t deserve your support and need to work out what they stand for whilst well away from power. Take a chance on the LibDems instead.


I would also like to see the paper coming out in support of the Lib Dems.
Labour getting back in would be disastrous for reform.


I would find it difficult to spend the next 6 weeks trying to pretend that everyone was born yesterday and that Labour on 7 May 2010 will be fresh and optimistic and nothing like the burnt-out case it was on 6 May 2010. Perhaps you would, too.

In which case, why not stop now, save yourselves the grief, and back the Lib Dems. At least they’re an unknown quantity backing social justice. Labour have an unforgettable 13 years in power demonstrating their inability to deliver the same.

In 2010, a Labour vote is a wasted vote. And a Labour editorial is a wasted editorial.

And on and on it goes.

Steve Webb MP has a piece in CiF today shoring up our progressive values in the face of more ill-thought out Fabian criticism.

It looks like he’s sowing seeds in fertile ground.


Tweets on 2010-03-24

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Pudding club: lime and ginger cheesecake

Previously on Pudding Club: Apple soufflés / Chocolate mousse / Pear and Ginger cake / Chocolate/Chestnut torte / Beef Wellington canapés / Crème renversée au caramel

Today we were to have gone to our friends in Long Eaton again, but P felt rotten – we’ve both been sneezing and coughing recently, and I spent much of Sunday in bed, and he felt in need of an early night, so we pleaded off.

It’s shame, because I had already made our pudding – and now we have a diet-unfriendly dessert festering in the fridge that no doubt will go the way of all flesh over the coming days.

This recipe was pretty much invented out of the base of something off a jelly packet. I’ve been eating sugar free jelly a lot recently, remembering it as a diet tip from years ago. It has next to no calories and is something sweet to finish a meal with.

So, make a biscuit base out of a third of a pack of butter and a packet of ginger biscuits. Melt the butter, crush the biscuits, combine, and line a tart dish with them.

Scatter about 100 grams of crystallised ginger over the top and press into the base.

Ginger cheesecake biscuit case

NB, you will need to press the ginger in more than that, otherwise it will poke through the cheese layer in an unsightly fashion.

Put the base into the fridge to chill.

Some time later, make the cheese layer. I used real jelly, not sugar free, as should become clear:

Make the jelly with half a pint of boiling water, reserving two jelly cubes to one side for the garnish. Add 250grams of soft cheese to the jelly and mix well. Pour slowly over the set biscuit base and return the fridge to set.

When the cheese layer is completely set, garnish: melt the remaining jelly cubes directly in the microwave with a tiny amount of water. Using a squeezy garnish bottle, make swirly patterns over the set cheese.


Lime / ginger cheesecake

This was… OK. But a number of learning points. 1pt of jelly/cheese is barely enough to cover the flan dish, and I thought it would be masses. Perhaps individual ones instead? My crystallized ginger poked through the jelly layer and looked unappetising. The cheese mix seeped through the biscuit and made it hard to get out. The jelly garnish on the top was disappointing – and after I bought a squeezy bottle specially – perhaps with some green food colouring it would stick out more.

Tweets on 2010-03-23

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Sudden blindness

A few years ago, there was one of those questions at the end of Any Questions? that asked the panel what they would miss most if they went blind. And most of the panellists said things like seeing the faces of their children or grandchildren.

A programme has just started on Radio 4 with two people who actually did lose their sight suddenly and unexpectedly – viral meningitis in one case, diabetes the other – and they actually said it was no longer seeing faces that did bother them most. In particular, it was people ageing they didn’t see. “What does my brother look like, now he’s grown up?”

That puzzles me slightly. Maybe it’s my pragmatic face on life, but what I’d miss most, in order, would be reading, driving and the internet.

I’ve always been a massive reader – everything, all the time. Printed words surround us on adverts, signs, directions. Even if you can learn to read Braille as quickly as reading normal text, there’s an issue about how much text is available in Braille. And surely audiobooks and having text read to you is just so much slower a way of consuming information than scan reading it for yourself.

And without reading, without text, the whole of the riches of the internet and computers and online life fade away. Again, it’s possible to use a computer with text to speech or brail interfaces, but that must be so frustrating compared to the speed of assimilation of information through your eyes.

And driving. Clearly if you went blind, you’d have to give up the amazing freedom that comes from owning a car and being able to go anywhere you want any time you want. I learned to drive very late in life after being a bit of a driving refusenik in my teens. Until I was 25, I entirely got around on foot and on public transport – I still can’t even cycle. And I coped. I could get from one end of the country to the other; go camping in Scotland or Wales by train. So I know I can cope without a car. But I’ve got so used to it now, I know I would really miss the freedom of just leaping behind the wheel, topping up the tank and driving to the other end of the country at a moment’s notice.

The other conundrum that sometimes gets asked is – would you rather go blind or deaf? As someone who sings and makes music, how would I cope without music? But compared to losing reading, losing singing would not be so severe.

Here’s a link to the BBC R4 programme.

The younger woman is now talking about such awful things – boyfriends who stole from her, and got her to sign things by telling her they were something else – a premium bond encashment form instead of a gas bill. And two men who noticed her dog, followed her home and forced their way into her home. I hope they caught the bastards.

Who made the threatening #cashgordon phone call?

Are you up to speed with the mess the Tories made out of trying to use social media yesterday? They launched a website trying to criticise Gordon Brown for something or other. Part of the site included a twitter feed so that any twitter user using the hashtag #cashgordon could get their words on the site. Users quickly found out that these were not screened before going live, which meant you could get anti-Tory sentiment onto the Tory website. And then the more technically minded twitterati discovered that if you included some code in your tweet, you could make the Tory website do some unexpected things.

All this is covered in Mark Pack’s post here yesterday, Chris Keating’s post on his own blog and also this rather funny image on Flickr.

So far, so silly. Lessons, I’m sure, have been learned about the wisdom of setting up sites that invite user participation but don’t take the time to think through just what that participation could include.

But as t’Voice’s old friend Alix alerted us to in the comments yesterday, there’s a slightly more sinister side to the story too. Twitter user @jimmysparkle posted to say the Conservatives had phoned his workplace, alleged that he hacked their site, and threatened to sue.

Text of tweets

conservative party phoned my workplace claiming they may sue me for supposedly hacking their website… tweeting != hacking. lol #cashgordon

Apparently the woman who phoned was a Laura Cooper, no idea if she was genuine. Claimed I hacked their site. Fail fail fail #cashgordon

This was enough to pique the interest of Sky journalist @niallpaterson who started digging. Before Paterson got involved, Twitter had unearthed that the name of the woman who phoned Jimmy Sparkle’s office sounded suspiciously like the name of the girlfriend of Samuel Coates, one of the Conservative web workers responsible for the site in the first place.

Paterson has clearly got some sort of denial out of CCHQ, because he was able to tweet the following:

Text of tweets

But even in the cab home, i’m working – Tories confirm tonight that Lua Cooper DID contact @jimmysparkle but is not a member of staff

Ms Cooper is a “friend” of party worker, her actions were neither authorised nor condoned by CCHQ. She “felt strongly” abt hijacking of site

How very strange. The story so far seems to be: Tory worker sets up weak site. Weak site becomes magnet for vulnerability exploits. Tory worker’s girlfriend gets upset and phones twitter user’s boss to allege hacking. CCHQ hang her out to dry.

It will be worth keeping an eye on how this story develops during the day.

UPDATE: A correction – although the person making the call was originally identified as Laura Cooper, it turns out her name is actually Lua Cooper.

Daily View 2×2: 23 March 2010

Diagram of wings of early planeIn history, March 23rd was the day in 1903 the Wright Brothers applied for a patent on one of the earliest aeroplanes – and the day in 1933 Adolf Hitler became dictator of Germany.

It’s birthday to Joan Crawford, Wernher von Braun, José Manuel Barroso, Marti Pellow and Russell Howard.

Today in history, two people who underwent pioneering surgical procedures died: Britain’s youngest ever liver transplant patient died, aged three, and in 1982, the recipient of the first ever artificial heart died, aged 61.

2 Big Stories

All yesterday, two huge political stories raged through the online world: the farce of a Tory attempt to use social media, #cashgordon, and foreshadowing of last night’s Dispatches, which showed three Labour former cabinet ministers in a very bad light.

The newspapers catch up with the latter, but don’t seem to be covering the former.

Byers, Hewitt and Hoon suspended over lobbying allegations

The Telegraph reports:

Three former Cabinet ministers, Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon, have been suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party over allegations they tried to sway policy decisions by lobbying the Government.

The Lib Dem party line on this horrid mess which embarrasses Parliament?

Liberal Democrat Shadow Leader of the House, David Heath said, “MPs should not be using their positions to further their own interests over those of the people they should be representing. Liberal Democrats brought forward measures to restrict the influence of lobbyists in Parliament. Sadly, Labour voted them down while the Tories failed to show up. Labour and the Tories claim they want to clean up politics but the reality proves different.”

Official: British are better at cooking than the French

For a little light relief, the Guardian reignites the old rivalry between the French and the Brits:

More than 2,000 French people and nearly 1,350 Britons were asked about their eating and cooking habits. Their answers revealed that 72% of the British cook at home daily, compared with 59% of the French. One British cook in two spends more than 30 minutes preparing a meal while only a quarter of the French spend that long.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

  • Liberal England liveblogged Dispatches
  • And depressing reading it makes too.

  • Jonathan Wallace has Conference: the Movie
  • “Starring” Chris Huhne. Relive the highs and lows of last weekend in this blockbuster epic.

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

One last word

Reading List has a blog post with a variety of links to other blog posts on the story of the B&B who turned away Huntingdon Lib Dem Council Group leader John Morgan and his partner.

As Twitter user @qwghlm points out,

The “Christian” couple who refused a gay couple a bed obviously didn’t have 1 Peter 4:8-9 to mind when they did so: Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (ESV)

Tweets on 2010-03-22

  • Huddling in front of my computer for warmth. Atishoo! #
  • I would have thought it would take at least three quotes to be "all over the place" #
  • You know them by the company they keep, @ncclols 🙂 #
  • @markpack @libdemvoice were or where? #
  • Good lord, speaker time limits in the US Congress make Nottingham City Council's seem generous. #
  • Watching C-span on @rfenwick's recommendation. I'm not at all sure what is going on. Gatorade. Louisana Purchase. Something kickback?! #
  • Parliamentary inquiry, @rfenwick, how much time is remaining? (Is my bread gonna burn while I watch this?) #
  • @rfenwick would that be Congressman Studly ? in reply to rfenwick #
  • @rfenwick I get all my US political news from @joemygod in reply to rfenwick #
  • Really loving @helenduffett's piece on leaders' wives Shame to bury it on a Sunday evening! #
  • ATISHOOO. Grrr. #
  • @alexwilcock absolutely – there's scant room in public for Nick's sense of humour to shine through, so he comes across as worthy. in reply to alexwilcock #
  • @joswinson he is married… in reply to joswinson #
  • Artworking election addresses. Fighting urge to include dog whistle West Wing quotes. "… has a secret plan to fight inflation" #
  • @jonxyz Rather depends on the nature of the business your customers undertake? in reply to jonxyz #
  • My laser printer is making the sorts of noises that make me wince, and think a new laser printer will soon be needed. #
  • QR Code Cupcakes – #
  • @ncclols Outdoor Vacuums – Billy Goat Outdoor Vacuums #

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Tweets on 2010-03-21

  • @VizTopTips Add a uvular trill to a yawn for a readymade Wookie impression. #
  • @qwghlm "repeat after me: 'It's not dead, it's only resting'" in reply to qwghlm #
  • @praterraines loving the list of 10 for the general election, that looks a big help! in reply to praterraines #
  • @dr_nick Really – has Hereford cinema closed? Small one still in Ludlow? in reply to dr_nick #
  • Time to do today's food log. Managed 7 of my #5aday, but not many vegetables. #
  • Really finding that #wonders of the solar system is challenging my attention span. Keep needing to rewind it when my mind wanders. #

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Tweets on 2010-03-20

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