Tweets on 2010-04-20

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Tweets on 2010-04-19

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LibLink: David Yelland – β€œClegg’s rise could lock Murdoch and the media elite out of UK politics”

There are, of course many good reasons why the Lib Dems in power would be in the interests of our nation, but some of the most intriguing yet have been outlined by David Yelland in a piece for the Guardian’s Comment is Free.

The piece has many telling details of how journalism works in this country these days, but the chilling conclusion of the piece is this:

Over the years the relationships between the media elite and the two main political parties have become closer and closer to the point where, now, one is indistinguishable from the other. Indeed, it is difficult not to think that the lunatics have stopped writing about the asylum and have actually taken it over.

We now live in an era when very serious men and women stay out of politics because our national discourse is conducted by populists with no interest in politics whatsoever. What we have in the UK is a coming together of the political elite and the media in a way that makes people outside London or outside those elites feel disenfranchised and powerless. But all that would go to pot if Clegg were able to somehow pull off his miracle. For he is untainted by it.

Just imagine the scene in many of our national newspaper newsrooms on the morning a Lib-Lab vote has kept the Tories out of office. “Who knows Clegg?” they would say.

There would be a resounding silence.

“Who can put in a call to Gordon?” another would cry.

You would hear a pin drop on the editorial floor.

Go read the whole piece here.

Tweets on 2010-04-18

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Tweets on 2010-04-17

  • Mocking the voicemail computer based training package. Mocking it hard. #
  • Spilling Pret a Manger pickle down my shirt. (@ Nottingham Council House) #
  • Thanks, @rfenwick and @jamesgraham, your tweets tonight have helped me form my thoughts for my latest @libdemvoice blog post πŸ™‚ #
  • Please help me find interesting / weird / unexpected happenings as a result of the ash cloud and the grounded planes #

  • Trying to remember which of these animals is "the kitten" #
  • Today I got good news from the weekly weigh-in – but I wish my first mental reaction wasn't ALWAYS "yay – let's have cake to celebrate!" #
  • Tomorrow's bread will olive and celery seed. #
  • Ooh, love today's Dilbert. Didn't your astrologer warn you about Scorpios? #

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What challenges might the future bring?

Challenge #1 – the electoral system

I nearly wrote this a few weeks ago, at which point it would have looked prophetic – writing it now just looks like I’m crowbarring it on the back of the rather sensational Yougov / Sun poll, news of which is breaking on Twitter.

Any number of people have taken the poll figures, Con: 33 (-4); Lab: 28 (-3); Lib Dem: 30 (+8), plugged them into UK Polling Report’s uniform swing calculator, and reeled, aghast at the revelation that our awful electoral system is so completely bust that it’s conceivable that the party that came third in the national vote might also win the most seats.

It is of course, something the Liberal Democrats, and the Liberals before that, have been banging on about for some considerable time. The system is broken. Almost all elections in recent history have delivered a party that diverges significantly from how people actually voted, and many millions of votes are cast for people who don’t win.

So, the challenge here would be turning the momentum of getting a third of the electorate to vote for us into a much wider campaign for that normally nerdy of pre-occupations, electoral reform. That issue which we still believe in, but which we almost never talk about for fear of watching the voters’ eyes glaze over.

Challenge #2 – joining the establishment

Much of the Lib Dem media narrative in recent years has been along “Labservative” lines. We are the outsiders. The other two parties are the establishment and we have been excluded. If only we were given a chance, we could show the world we’re amazing.

The problem with that, is that lots of other very small parties are also trying to make that same pitch, with the numbers changed a little bit. I’ve heard each of UKIP, the Greens, the BNP and the two nationalist parties on the radio over the last week making exactly the same point that the “three major parties” all agree on issues X, Y and Z and only us, in the smaller party can possibly have that true external, outsider, anti-establishment perspective.

The better the Liberal Democrats do, the more the argument swings in favour of the smaller parties. Which presents us a conundrum. Which would earn us more respect? We can continue to argue we’re the outsiders, or we can big our experience data. We’re smallest of the three main parties – but we also have a big, respected parliamentary team, and in local government, a quarter of the population of England and Wales live in areas led by the Liberal Democrats. Can we be both? And if this the general election which first sees Greens, BNP or UKIP members joining in the smaller parties in the House of Commons does that give us credibility for being a larger party or rob us our remaining rags of outsider status?

Challenge #3 – managing everyone’s expectations

This is another challenge that finds us arguing from a surprising place, for us. Normally, the general assumption is that we won’t do terribly well, and we have to argue like mad that we can win, that we can be important and that we can be relevant to our country’s future. Our own party’s activists have wildly over-optimistic expectations that we need to manage down, and the wider public have disproportionately low expectations that we

But after Clegg’s debate success, suddenly we find ourselves having to manage things rather the other way. Huge numbers of excitable members of the public are suddenly thinking we can win. Celebs on twitter, and the game changers on Facebook who got Rage Against the Machine to number 1 in the charts suddenly all think that we will be running the country after the next election, and it’s the sensible Lib Dem activists who are having to apply the brakes and murmur, steady on chaps!

Perhaps most importantly, we have to pace ourselves. There are still weeks left to go. True, postal votes will be arriving from Wednesday onwards, so we only have to preserve the momentum for less than a week to get the first batch of voters. But there are still weeks left of the race, and if we are to find ourselves surpassing expectation in the final furlong we need to keep our nerve and our pace along the way. Clegg did so well in the first debate – however will he fare in the second two? Can he possibly do as well again? Will both other party leaders manage expectations better even if they don’t manage to perform? Only time will tell.

Unexpected consequences of ash cloud

I’ve a little bit of a thing for interesting facts that have an obvious connection once explained but seem a little weird at first hearing.

For example, the smoking ban means that the drains need cleaning more often. The reason? Much of the smoking now happens outside. More cigarette butts are dropped into the gulleys than were before, and those butts fill the drains faster than you’d think. And, also, apparently, don’t rot down as fast as you’d think either.

A recent episode of QI talked about how the Chinese civilisation developed porcelain and fine china very early on meant that they didn’t need to develop glass to hold hot or dangerous liquids and consequently didn’t discover lenses, which meant their scholars all had to stop reading in their 30s and 40s, which had a repercussion to their entire society. Fascinating.

So I’m intrigued to find out all the various ramifications of the ash cloud from an Iceland volcano that’s stopped all commercial air travel into the UK and most of Northern Europe.

There’s the very obvious. No travel. My brother probably didn’t get to a wedding in Dublin. Thousands of returning package holiday makers are stranded in accommodation that isn’t being needed by thousands of holiday makers who can’t depart. And Whitney Housten, who was in Nottingham yesterday, is having to make her way to Ireland by ferry.

Then there’s some slightly stretchier but still obvious ones: the Channel Islands have run out of blood for medical reasons, so the the RNLI are helping out. Lots of our fruit and veg is air freighted, so we might have few weeks when bananas and oranges are unobtainable or expensive. Apparently, a lot of our cut flowers come from Africa, and the bottom has fallen out of that market. And there’s been a massive saving in CO2 emissions.

There was also the reports of the delay to the Polish commemorations. One air disaster has devastated the top of Polish political society, and another air incident has delayed the state funerals because other world leaders cannot get their to pay their respects.

Once the airlines are allowed to fly again, there will be a huge adjustment to the schedules to try and get things back on track. It was complicated enough to do that after the various strikes, with a need for empty flights to get the planes back in the right places. This BBC story gives an indication of the complexity – I’d be intrigued to be a fly on the wall of offices full of people trying to sort out the mess of getting the crews and planes back in roughly the right place. It will be weeks before all the schedules are working properly again.

But these are all still fairly foreseeable consequences of the three day stoppage of air travel. There must be some really weird ones out there too – so what have you heard?

Oh, one last thing – this ash cloud is all but invisible from the ground and doesn’t appear to stop the sunlight getting through. I bet some people are having a hard time believing there’s actually anything up there at all. Has anyone seen any nice conspiracy theories about why the authorities REALLY want to ground all commercial planes? πŸ™‚

Tweets on 2010-04-16

  • All month, I've been looking at my bank balance and thinking higher than normal. Assumed better debt management. Was actually overpaid 😦 #
  • It's freezing outside todayi. I blame the volcanic ash. #
  • Heh. Spinvox has just rendered "A suit that fits" into Masseuse Efforts. #
  • New Satellite Image of Volcanic Ash Cloud (thanks, @ianvisits) #
  • @dr_nick doesn't look like ash anywhere near Dublin or Soton: – are Irish flights grounded too? #
  • Wants to watch Law Abiding Citizen: #
  • Grr. Noise heard from another room: ring ring ring clunk. It was my mobile falling into the *almost* empty cup I'd balanced it on. #
  • @adamrio for half those dates me 'n' 'im indoors will be singing services at St Paul's Cathedral, so will be resident in London. in reply to adamrio #
  • Something on Hacked IRL makes me LOL most days. Today it was this: #
  • New York's fake house is actually a subway emergency exit #
  • @helenduffett I'm still wearing the same sort of thing I wore when I was 18 πŸ™‚ in reply to helenduffett #
  • "The notion of compartmentalizing reactionary workflow" ?! yah, thanks, @susioneill #
  • @A_C_McGregor me or Gary on Sunday would be fine if OK with you? in reply to A_C_McGregor #
  • Volcano in Iceland Β« Flickr Blog #
  • Wondering if it's worth the effort to shift a computer into the same room as the telly. #
  • The debate is gonna be on Radio 4 as well – maybe I could just listen to the radio and see whether Nixon or Kennedy wins? #leadersdebate #
  • Hah. @gorvidcamerown is on Foursquare. He's mayor of 10 Downing Street. Ho, ho ho. #
  • @dr_nick has "Listen live" button. in reply to dr_nick #
  • Comparing my remaining daily calories with the nutrition details on the pizza box. #
  • @doctorvee yes, they have money to throw away. Β£16m to spend. Not everyone who goes through Kirkcaldy lives there. in reply to doctorvee #
  • @helenduffett oh, you're too too kaind, sweetie. in reply to helenduffett #
  • @mithomas20 @miketd @TonySutton4Nott will you be writing up your experience at hustings? #
  • Aha, now the #leadersdebate challenge begins. Can I stuff 100 envelopes in 90 minutes? #
  • Wow. 200,000 is 2million if you multiply it by 10. Thanks for that insight, DC. #
  • @lordbonkers aaaah – that's why the code was so complicated. in reply to lordbonkers #
  • Injunction against police? OMG, are you mad? #
  • Intervene with young ne'er do wells the FIRST TIME they burn down a cactus shed. #leadersdebate #
  • @Alexander_Ball no ad break at all! in reply to Alexander_Ball #
  • Interesting that Cameron just turned into Anna Russell with his "I'm not making this up, you know!" #
  • Clegg 49 Brown 27 Cameron 24 at around half time in ITV online poll #
  • Oh good lord! Cameron just said he wants to be able to nuke Iran and China?! #
  • @markpack it's Leicester South all over again – second everywhere can sometimes be enough πŸ™‚ #
  • Sorry, what's this about Uncle Bulgaria having cancer? Blimey, The Wombles has got gritty since I stopped watching it. #
  • Heh, namechecking the questioners. Skills he learned in a Lib Dem conference summation speech. #
  • Switching back to real news on Radio 4 πŸ™‚ #
  • Well, I didn't even nearly manage to get the envelopes stuffed. #
  • That's interesting – did anyone say "I agree with Gordon" or "I agree with David" ? #

  • Strange: RT @megpickard Cameron grabbed Clegg by the sleeve to prevent him going into the audience #leadersdebate #
  • Blimey, that was quick: (@documentally) #
  • Oh good lord, look at this awful Beeb pic of Cameron! (7th image in gallery) #
  • Erk. Have just had an email from eBay saying it's time for my new look, with lots of pics of women's clothes. Just What Are You Implying? #
  • Yes, @qwghlm the Lib Dems have a Glee Club. It is, however, VERY DIFFERENT from the hit US TV show. (scroll down) #
  • @qwghlm oh, gawd, yes, it's the highlight of every LD conference. @willhowells likes it because it means the bar is half empty. in reply to qwghlm #
  • @A_C_McGregor there's new polls every day with fieldwork taking 2-3 days, so Monday? in reply to A_C_McGregor #
  • @qwghlm he had an entertaining piece about it in one of the early Pod Delusions. in reply to qwghlm #
  • A 7 point poll boost?! Parity with Lab again? >> RT @joerj Sky poll voter intention changes Lab 27 (-2) Con 35 (-2) Lib Dem 26 (+7) #
  • @NCCLols @TonySutton4Nott let's wait til Tuesday to see – they've not managed to correctly complete nomination papers in the past. in reply to NCCLols #
  • So let me just check – did BOTH Cameron and Brown say "I agree with Nick" ? #
  • @northernheckler sorry, gonna have to have that joke explained to me? 😦 in reply to northernheckler #
  • The Justin Bieber Guide for Old People << beginning to understand now. #
  • @jamesgraham from my print article: "saying that is disrespecting the voter. It all depends how many more people end up agreeing with Nick" #
  • *sigh* sticking to 300 words is rlly rlly hard 😦 #
  • @A_C_McGregor what is your picture? in reply to A_C_McGregor #
  • Those calories from pizza seem an awfully long time ago now. #
  • Uh-uh-huh. I'm all bunged up. #

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Tweets on 2010-04-15

  • Quick cuppa. My companion has never used a tea strainer before. (@ Malt Cross) #
  • I just became the mayor of Malt Cross on @foursquare! #
  • Bolting down a bean and chorizo misery pouch before heading out to a residents meeting. #
  • Talked myself hoarse at the meeting. Erk. #
  • Oh, my freezing hands, Should I wear gloves indoors? #
  • @thesc who'd wanna be an incumbent right now? It's just yet another example of the Tories nicking something out of the LD campaign book. in reply to thesc #
  • Blarg. Raising my voice at the public meeting last night has really done a number on my larynx. I'd not make a day as a teacher! #

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Tweets on 2010-04-14

  • @miketd yes, I saw that too. Words have been had about twitter and two-way communication. He's only been here a few days, not found the @ in reply to miketd #
  • Ooh an embargoed copy of Lib Dem manifesto in my inbox. I could tell you what's in it but I'd have to kill you. #
  • @CharlotteGore surely suicidal people are by definition not curious? If you want to know what happens next, don't kill yourself. in reply to CharlotteGore #
  • Today's misery pouch is carrot and butterbean. Bleurgh. 😦 I want a chicken burger. Something crunchy and deep fried. #
  • Oh, no. #OnlyConnect has got as far as the final! When did that happen? #
  • Now #onlyconnect is showing me Danish pastries. It's like a huge conspiracy to taunt me with things I can't have. #
  • That #onlyconnect final was jaw dropping! How did the gamblers make those connections? #
  • @JanStrassen I'm just generally ambivalent about pulses. And carrots as soup. Pouches are from @dietchef in reply to JanStrassen #
  • @MattGarrahan how many people heard it on the radio, and what did that earn her? in reply to MattGarrahan #
  • RT @ethicalgirl: Michael Cain to David Cameron on #torymanifesto : "You're only supposed to rip the bloody poor off" #ge2010 #ukelection #
  • @thoroughlygood are you moving to Manchester? Away from the Albert Hall? in reply to thoroughlygood #
  • @NCCLols so, actually, that's "BNP advertising on one single bank note, as far as we know" ? in reply to NCCLols #
  • RT @joswinson: BBC Radio 4's "Vote Now Show" is clearly going to be essential listening during the campaign – worth a visit to iPlayer… #
  • I'm just chuffed that the Vote Now Show is on the same podcast feed as the ordinary Now Show, so I can listen to them whilst leafleting. #

  • Someone doesn't think I should go upstairs to bed! #
  • @chriswiggins @chrisjw133 Tweetup at #ldconf – @Libdemvoice usually organise Liberal Drinks which we're happy to be a tweetup too. #
  • RT @BeauBodOr: Tories manifesto impossible 2 achieve. You cannot reduce massive waste with only 1 collection a fortnight. #
  • RT @bykimbo: Just. Plain. Weird. #
  • Clegg: this is the first time a political party has spelled out, line by line, where the money will come from. #
  • Another Passionate Cameron (@iaindale) (NSFW) #

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