- 58 in the Dissolution Honours List (29 Labour, 18 Conservative, 9 Liberal Democrat, 1 Democratic Unionist and 1 Crossbencher)
- 57 in the Winter 2010 list (28 Conservative, 15 Liberal Democrat, 10 Labour, 1 Plaid Cymru, 1 Ulster Unionist and 2 Crossbenchers)
- 8 nominated via the House of Lords Appointments Commission (all Crossbenchers)
- 6 appointed separately - three appointed directly to Ministerial office (all Conservatives), the former Head of the Civil Service, the former Governor of the Bank of England and the former Archbishop of Canterbury
Friday, July 26, 2013
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
That's fair enough, I suppose. After all, I have an awareness of the value of the technology but, if you asked me to explain how it works, I'd be fairly clueless. I like to think of it as witchcraft that doesn't require burning at the stake.
But her latest sally, against Guido Fawkes, appears to be a foolish and wholly unnecessary one. It does trouble me that she doesn't appear to understand that making unsubstantiated accusations about named individuals, even if they are the Guido Fawkes collective, is a rather dangerous game. I particularly dislike the threat to talk to the Editor of the national newspaper for which Paul Staines writes a column.
Now, I'd be one of the first to note that Paul and his minions have done plenty to coarsen political discourse in this country, assisted undoubtedly by some of those who hold public office, but it's still a fair way from there to criminality, especially without evidence.
I do have to admire Guido's response though, albeit in a 'from behind the sofa' kind of way. Holding a public poll to determine whether or not to sue her for libel is certainly entertaining, whilst giving her plenty of opportunity to withdraw her comments and apologise, should she deem it wise to do so - and it's the course of action that I'd recommend, frankly.
There is, of course, a degree of irony here, in that it is virtually impossible to hold the Guido Fawkes collective accountable for any libel they might commit, due to their entirely legal corporate status. So, before engaging our learned friends, Paul, Harry and Alex might wish to consider whether or not a level playing field is appropriate.
Just a thought, gentlemen...
Monday, July 22, 2013
Sunday, July 21, 2013
Monday, July 15, 2013
Iraq and Afghanistan have occupied American and other western troops for longer than World War 2, at enormous not to say inordinate cost, human, financial and political. And the longer we have been in these two countries, the less clear it has been not just who has won or even is winning, but also what winning looks like. Alliances shift, local politics intervenes, recent promises are trumped by old hatreds, my enemy’s enemy turns out to be mine too.
- clarity and legitimacy in post-conflict power sharing arrangements needs to be front and centre in any diplomatic or military endeavour overseas
- without the support of regional actors fragile states can never be stabilised
- mobile terrorist groups add a whole new dimension to instability in fragile states through their ability to hijack local grievances
- the phrase “war on terror” had the dangerous consequence of uniting under a single banner a series of disparate and sometimes localised grievances, so language is important
Ten years on, Saddam is gone, and the Kurds are safe, but the country is afflicted by violence and fissures. The overall reckoning is strongly negative. There were no WMD, and if we had known that in 2003 then there would have been no justification for war.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
|Not happy, not happy at all...|
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
|Posing for the camera...|
Monday, July 08, 2013
Saturday, July 06, 2013
It should be obvious to anyone with an ounce of political savvy that, if an opportunity is attractive enough, the competition is likely to be rather more aggressive, and potential applicants more likely to 'stretch the envelope' of what is allowable. And, given the likelihood of anything other than a Labour win in Falkirk in 2015, the possibility of being the next MP for the seat is attractive, especially as, once selected, the candidate isn't going to have to work as hard as his/her counterpart in a marginal seat. The fact that it's a job for life is not a factor, I'm sure...
So, you have motive. And, as any good detective will tell you, what you now need is opportunity. If it is the case that an affiliated union can pay the membership subscriptions for the Labour Party on behalf of its members, and said union wants more influence over the direction of said party, what happens next is only too predictable.
And, as long as said union, and said party leadership, are seeking broadly the same thing, and there is competition between unions with differing perspectives, it's not ideal, but it's tolerable. However, with the emergence of a small number of 'super-unions', the diversity of voices has been lost and the ability to obtain disproportionate influence has grown.
It is harder to gain that influence if a Local Party is active, attractive to potential new members, and has a vibrant and inclusive internal democracy. Sadly, we know that the Labour Party has a record of not really encouraging that sort of thing, and that all three traditional major parties have seen dramatic falls in membership over the past two decades.
Thus, stripped of all defences, it is far too easy for UNITE to effectively buy parliamentary candidate selections. I don't criticise them for doing so, as they feel that it is the most effective way in which to achieve their goals, but I am critical of a party leadership who have apparently allowed this to happen and then whined about the result of their failure.
A political party's internal democracy is only as good as the rules that safeguard it. And, whilst our internal rules can be labyrinthine and annoying, they are intended to be a force for good. They are, of course, only as good as the people who apply and enforce them, and Liberal Democrats need to train and develop a small, part-time volunteer bureaucracy to carry out such key functions.
But, the price of proper internal democracy is eternal vigilance...
Friday, July 05, 2013
|See, I can make beds if I have the right motivation...|
|Here, kitty, kitty, kitty...|
Thursday, July 04, 2013
Wednesday, July 03, 2013
|Cincinnati just after planting|
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Monday, July 01, 2013
|My new best friend. He only loves me for my raisins...|