Friday, December 30, 2005

Faces of the year

I was looking at Faces of the year - the men on the BBC website. BBC have Peter Kay, Harold Pinter, Sir Ian Blair, John Sentamu, Pope John Paul II, David Cameron, Lord Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, David Blunkett, Saddam Hussein, Ray Nagin, Pete Doherty, Michael Jackson, Andrew "Freddy" Flintoff, Lord Sebastian Coe and George Galloway.

From that list the people who have interested me the most in 2005 are Sir Ian Blair who post 7th July managed the police well but has also become too active in political discussion for my liking, it was also a great shame that in 2005 Pope John Paul II passed away. While I am not a Christian and did not fully agree with Pope John Paul II all the time I was always inspired by how a man of his age tried to influence world leaders on issues such as global poverty and the death penalty.

David Cameron started the year as the Conservative MP who was asked by Michael Howard to write what to some turned out to be the most right-wing Conservative manifesto in decades and now he ends the year as Leader of the Conservatives.

Andrew "Freddy" Flintoff became the nation's hero when the England all-rounder played really well which helped England defeat the Australians and regain the Ashes for England.

Lord Sebastian Coe replaced Barbara Cassani as the chief of London's 2012 Olympic bid team. At that point Paris and Madrid were in the lead. But Coe and his team manage to change that and get London the 2012 Olympics.

For the Faces of the year - the women the BBC has Kylie Minogue, Katie Price, Sienna Miller, Keira Knightley, Carol Thatcher, Camilla Parker-Bowles, Kate Moss, Michelle Wie, McCartney sisters, Billie Piper, Rebekah Wade, Joan Rivers, Kate Bush, Abigail Witchalls, Angela Merkel and Condoleezza Rice.

Camilla Parker-Bowles had a great year and this summer she became the Duchess of Cornwall on her marriage to the Prince Charles the Prince of Wales. The Queen did not attend the civil ceremony in Windsor but was there for the religious blessing so she also manage to get off to a great start with her mother in law, so I have to respect her for that.

Michelle Wie a young golfer turned pro at the age of 16 in October. I don’t know much about golf but I have respect for the youngster from Hawaii, of Korean parents, who has become a golfing phenomenon without actually having won a title. She has already taken part in male competitions.

The McCartney sisters on the death of their brother due to an attack outside a Belfast bar escalated into the biggest crisis for years for Irish Republicanism when the five sisters of the victim, Robert McCartney, embarked on a campaign to bring his killers to justice. Blaming IRA members for the murder and subsequent interference with evidence and witnesses the McCartney sisters made a plea to the European Parliament in Brussels and visited Washington in 2005.

Angela Merkel became Germany's first female Chancellor and was sworn-in in November after winning a general election in September. After long and detailed negotiations, Merkel managed to take her Christian Democrat party into a "grand coalition" with the Social Democrats of Gerhard Schroder.

In January, Condoleezza Rice became the first African American woman to serve as US Secretary of State. Since then, Dr Rice has maintained a high-profile presence, travelling the world in the service of American interests. In April she criticised Russia for not being democratic enough, visited areas affected by Hurricane Katrina in September and, late in the year, attempted to calm European criticisms of alleged torture in secret US prisons. Could this be the beginning of a presidential campaign???

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

United Nations Association -UK Special Event

UN 60th Anniversary Speech by Secretary-General Kofi Annan

On Tuesday, 31 January 2006 United Nations Association -UK will be hosting a speech by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to mark the 60th anniversary of the first General Assembly which was held in London in January 1946.

The event will he held in the late afternoon at a central London venue, shortly to be confimed.

To request tickets for this event, visit United Nations Association -UK . If you have any difficulties in sending your details via the form, please call the events number on 020 7766 3459. A maximum of two tickets per person can be requested.

Tickets are free but space is limited and filling in this form does not guarantee you a place. Initial priority will be given to United Nations Association-UK members.

Friday, December 23, 2005

happy festive season

Just before I go away I just wanted to wish anyone reading this a happy festive season. Whatever you do have a good one.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

On January 10th 2006, there will be a mass lobby of Parliament and a meeting with Elections Minister Harriet Harman MP.

The next day, January 11th, MPs will debate the final stages of the Electoral Administration Bill. This will include a debate on Diana Johnson's amendment to lower the voting age to 16.

The meeting with Harriet Harman will take place from 4pm on Tuesday January 10th in the Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House. The meeting will be divided into three sections.

From 4-5, there will be a chance for supporters to discuss the case for Votes at 16.

Then, from 5-6, there will be the meeting with:

- Harriet Harman MP
- Diana Johnson MP (who is proposing the Votes at 16 amendment)
- Tim Farron MP (Liberal Democrat Youth Affairs Spokesperson)
- John Bercow MP (Conservative supporter of Votes at 16)
- Lord Lucas (who successfully piloted a Bill on Votes at 16 through the House of Lords)

Then, from 6pm, there will be a chance to meet with MPs and press the case for lowering the voting age.

If you have never done this sort of thing before plenty of help will be on hand.

So please, put January 10th in your diary and come to the meeting.

If you wish to attend the meeting, please let email and so that there is a full briefing pack for you before you arrive. If you cannot make it by 4pm, don't worry, the most important bit starts at 5pm.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Liberal Democrats Meet Up!

Mark Ramsden and I met yesterday for a catch up since the last time we met was before he went back to Leeds in September and we agreed that we should try and organise a Liberal Democrats Meet Up in the New Year.

So you are all invited to a new year Liberal Democrats Meet Up on Wednesday 4th January 2006 in Birmingham.

We will be meeting at 6pm at the top of the escalators in Birmingham New Street
station that go up to the Pallasades shoping centre.

We'll go for a meal at Pizza Hut or something like that and go from there.

See you there!

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?


A wandering spirit caring for a multitude of just concerns, you are an instrumental power in many of the causes around you.

And so am I, very dangerous: more dangerous than anything you will ever meet, unless you are brought alive before the seat of the Dark Lord.

Gandalf is a character from the Middle-Earth universe. has a description of him.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Conscience and Reform: The Liberal Democrat Agenda for Britain

I know that Charles Kennedy made the Conscience and Reform: The Liberal Democrat Agenda for Britain speech back in July but being lazy I only got round to reading it today and there were two quotes which I picked out and think should be repeated to the Parliamentary Party again especially since after a “calm and thoughtful meeting” to promise to stop briefing against Charles Kennedy articles appeared on the BBC website and in today’s Guardian and Independent that “senior” Liberal Democrats parliamentarians want Charles to resign.

During the Conscience and Reform: The Liberal Democrat Agenda for Britain Charles said “we are at our best and we do our best when we are positive and united”. So please unite behind our leader and get behind what we are currently doing. If you are pissed off about the way he is leading the party make your thoughts know in private to him or the chief whip but please don’t go and repeat what was said at a meeting to journalists this makes us look negative and split. This is what has prevented the Tories from getting back into power since 1997 and this is to some extent what cost them the 1997 GE. Our positive and united approach to politics is what makes us popular with the non-partisan electorate. Is this electoral base one which we want to loose when the two leading parties in British politics have for sometime united or will for sometime unite behind a new leader soon. This could cost us massively in the local elections coming up in the spring. I know that some MPs don’t care about doing well in local elections now that they have a seat at the Palace but those of us with an ambition to get their or to send more colleagues would like to do well at local elections so that we can build teams for the next GE whether it be in 2008, 2009 or 2010.

During the same speech Charles also said “we have to be bold and to be willing to take risks. There is no way forward if we opt for the easy life, heads kept securely safe below the parapet. If we're not prepared to live a little dangerously at times, then the far greater danger is that we just don't live at all”. So looking to the future I ask that our MPs, Peers, MEPs, Councillors and activists across the country to not fear coming up with bold, radical and unusual ideas for Britain’s Constitution, for Development, for Science and Technology, for Local Government, for the Environment, for Pensions, for Education, for the future of Europe, for Britain’s Foreign Affairs, for our Health services, for Transport in Britain because if we stick with our Liberal principles then our voters will stick with us for being principled and others will turn to us for being principled. Sticking to our liberal principles is the only way we will create a society, a country and a world we are pleased and comfortable with. We should change or policies because they don’t play well with focus groups, opinion polls or the electorate because if our policies aren’t ones which people disagree with we should explain to them why we have these policies and allow them to disagree with them. That’s the way we will gain the respect of the electorate.

On a final note for anyone who thinks that’s should be a isolationist and just concentrate on the problems, troubles and issues within our borders I’d like to reiterate what Charles said Charles said “Britain's prosperity and security is now inextricably bound up with events beyond these shores, events that we will struggle to control in isolation as a nation state”. If we want prosperity and security in our own homes then we must as a nation engage with international organisations such as the European Union, the G8, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, NATO etc. A lot of these organisations are not perfect but the only way that will change is if we are at the heart and trying to lead it. We must also look to see how we can help in international conflicts such as Dafur, the Middle East, in an integrated world where our cultures and economies depend on each other so much others conflicts can so easily become our problems and threaten our own peace and prosperity at home.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Mark Thomas and Rob Newman Live

Last night I went to the Warwick Arts Theatre with some friends to see Mark Thomas and Rob Newman. I had seen some of Mark Thomas’s stuff on video for some work I did at university but I had no idea of what Rob Newman was like and so was not sure what to expect. I was very pleased at the end of the night, as they were both good and full of laughs.

Mark Thomas came on first and managed to go through a wide range of subjects. The joke I most enjoyed was his idea of how to invade the United States of America. Mark Thomas also spoke about his experience of attending large arms fair in London recently.

Rob Newham took us through why he thinks the First World War was about Iraq and the Berlin to Baghdad railway. I had never heard this theory before and am still not sure about it. I still believe that the First World War was due to the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (call me naïve if you wish).

Rob Newham also talked a lot about the current Iraq conflict and the causes. It seems as is Rob Newham is convinced that it is rooting in Iraq changing to Euros from Dollars for oil trading, a theory I have heard before but not paid too much attention too. I guess the lack of participation by Euro trading nations in the conflict may explain that theory.

I don’t recall all the jokes from the evening but one I do from Rob Newham (I think) was that funny how George Bush was told by god that the USA should participate in a conflict in the middle east but not that there was going to be a severe hurricane in New Orleans.
University of Wolverhampton Students Union

On Thursday 8th December 2005 we had our second union council meeting. It was the first I attended as the last one was on the same day as Eid.

I had proposed two motions the Environment and Ethics motion and the National Identity Cards motion. I was very pleased to find that both were passed with huge majorities.

We also spent a great amount of time discussing a no smoking policy for our union. We decided to settle on a partial ban with a possible referendum on the issue in the future.

Other items and issues discussed were the Cry Wolf working Group to which I was co-opted along with another five councillors. We also discussed changes to the make up of Students Representative Council, I thought that there maybe some discussion on this but I think that everyone found that the recommendations made by Ceri and Kim were sensible and part of the tidying up process. We also discussed the Unions Equal Opportunities Policy, British Sign Language Awareness, union Policy on Drugs and Violence on premises and student healthcare rights.

Environment and Ethics

This Union Notes:

The Higher Education sector alone:
· Spends in excess of £3 billion every year on goods and services
· Consumes around £200 million worth of energy
· Owns 9% of all office space in the UK

In Britain:
· Despite the need to control climate change, use of oil, coal and gas has gone up over 10% since 1993
· Nearly 60% of all waste is still landfilled

· Climate change is predicted to cause more frequent and severe droughts, floods and famines
· One percent of the world’s remaining tropical forests are destroyed every year
· 25% of mammals and 12% of bird species are currently regarded as “globally threatened”

This Union Believes:

· That each generation is responsible for the fate of our planet
· That each generation is responsible for safeguarding the balance of nature and the environment, for the long term continuity of life in all its forms
· That the education sector as a whole must promote positive solutions to the environmental issues we face
· Education has a key role in changing behaviour and action of both governments and individuals

This Union Resolves:

· To commit to environmental improvements by students, officers and staff
· To a review of the environmental performance of the Union
· To establish a environment and ethics working group consisting of students, officers and staff

This Union Mandates the environments and ethics working group to:

· To appoint a spokesperson to report to SRC regularly
· To carry out a review of the environmental performance of the Union and recommend environmental improvements
· To write an environmental statement for this union to be approved by SRC
· To develop a relationship with local, regional, national and international environmental organisations in order to advance the unions aims of being more environmentally friendly

National Identity Cards

This Union Notes:

· The Identity Cards Bill has now passed its Committee Stage, with the Government having blocked every significant amendment.

This Union Believes:

· That the disadvantages of such a scheme will outweigh any benefits to the students of the University of Wolverhampton.

· That the cards will do nothing to prevent terrorism, fraud, catch criminals.

· Government estimates the cost of such a scheme could reach £6billion, with independent commentators predicting costs of as much as £18billion, they estimate cards between £220 and £300 each.

· This will hit the most vulnerable and poorest in our society, those on low pay, who usually don’t drive, don’t go abroad and as a consequence have no need for a driving licence or passport, yet will be forced to pay up to £100 for a card they don’t want or need.

This Union Resolves:

· To support “No2ID” campaign, which is a coalition of Political Parties, NGOs, Other
· Make it a policy of this union to ensure that national identity cards would not be required to access union services or facilities unless specifically called to do so by an Act of Parliament
· Mandate the President to write to Rob Marris MP, David Wright MP and Bruce George MP asking that they vote against the introduction of ID Cards and that they encourage other parliamentary colleagues to do the same
· Mandate the President to write to the Home Secretary expressing these views and asking him to reconsider his decision to push forward this legislation.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

As some of you may know the Centre For Reform has changed it name to CentreForum.
It has a new website at and also a forum for discussion at