Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Arthur's Seat: Thought for the Day

Arthur's Seat: Thought for the Day:
A bear, a lion and a chicken meet.
Bear says: "If I roar in the forests of America the entire forest is shivering with fear."
Lion says: "And if I roar on the great plains of Africa, the entire savannah is afraid of me."
Says the chicken: "Big deal. I only have to cough, and the entire planet wets itself."
You know when you visit a blog regularly, and you assume that you've linked to them because you read them a lot? Occasionally, you realise you've missed them. Arthur, Bookdrunk and Iain Dale all come into this category; read them regularly, but forgot to add the link. Oops.

I will now be listening to Small Gods. I may come back online when I've stopped laughing.

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Built To Last

Nothing particularly interesting about David Cameron's new vision for the Conservative Party, so a bit of a let-down for anyone who was thinking this may be some sort of Clause-4 moment for a party on the verge of a comeback.

To be honest, it's pretty boring stuff. New Labour-esque soundbites such as
Security and freedom must go hand in hand.
There is such a thing as society, it's just not the same thing as the state
sound rather good, but tell us squat about what the Tories actually intend to do about them. The title too is obviously chosen for its vagueness - what exactly is Built to Last supposed to instil in me other than reminding me of such other catchphrases as 'common sense' and 'back to basics'.

It's definitely a 'softer' Conservatism though - mention of the environment and sustainability is noted, as well as a much reduced emphasis on big business and private investment. Other than that though, it's really not revolutionary or controversial in the slightest. Die-Hard Tories might be spluttering a bit, but if the Tories want to regain power any time soon, they'll be ignoring that wing of the party altogether. That being said, I'd have thought trying to differentiate themselves from Labour might have been a good idea right about now, and that's really not the impression that I'm getting when I read this release.

At the end of the day, it will be actions rather than words that convince anyone as to the worthiness of Cameron's new party. Which is a good thing, because this release does little to fill me with confidence in terms of the depth of ideas possessed by Dave and co.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Power to the People!

Did someone mention Wolfie? Sorry. As usual, Monday means I'm in and out again. Just happens to be the day when one of the more interesting stories come out from under the radar; I had no idea this thing was even going on. Anyway...

POWER - An independent inquiry into Britain's democracy:
After eighteen months of investigation, the final report of Power is a devastating critique of the state of formal democracy in Britain. Many of us actively support campaigns such as Greenpeace or the Countryside Alliance. And millions more take part in charity or community work. But political parties and elections have been a growing turn-off for years. The cause is not apathy.
The report can be downloaded here (I recommend the executive summary, I'm not sure even a constitutional wonk like me can wade through the full thing easily) and they're organising a conference in London at the end of March; I've put my name down, but whether I can afford to get there is another thing entirely.

Read, digest, discuss. Especially, discuss at Liberty Central (rather good timing really, and complete fluke as well).
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Great Briton: Joseph Rowntree (1836-1925)

Britain has a long history of succesful, radical philanthropists. In the news today is Joseph Rowntree, founder of the Rowntree confectionary company, now, unfortunately, part of Nestlé:
In 1904, aged 68, Joseph Rowntree endowed the three Joseph Rowntree Trusts, giving “about one-half of my property to [their] establishment.” He believed the way to remedy the injustices of the world was not to relieve their ill-effects, but to strike at their roots. This would be the trusts’ work.
Got lots of money? Give it away to make the world a better place. The trusts all have a long history of reports, investigations and campaigns, nice to see them still going and doing his memory proud.

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Liberty Central launched

Ladies and Gentlemen...

It is, currently, a shell. Many (many) thanks to Unity for putting all the work in. This is a project, a start. It needs content.

That's for all of us. Write some. Submit it. Contribute.

Admin: Blogroll update

I've reorganised and updated the blogroll. Nowhere near finished, but I had nearly 200 in "Newly Discovered", which was a little silly.

Some were tough calls as to where to put them, so if someone thinks they're in the wrong place, holler. I've also set it so that on post pages, a much smaller selection appears; the main blogs for each party, and people I read regularly, alongside any aggregators.

I'm trying to have the main blogroll have every UK political blog. I'm pretty sure I'm nowhere near that yet, and the number grows daily. This is good, and bad. If you're not on the big list, let me know; commenting is best in this case.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Quote of the Day: Healey on Blair

BBC NEWS | Politics | Blair should quit now says Healey:
I think Tony's showing he is losing his grip
See, it's not just me who thinks he's tired.

Coalition update: Things are ticking along in the background, however Unity is in need of content for Liberty Central for when it goes live. At first, we can simply reprint good blog articles. So, tell us where they are...
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Blair on Liberty? He has no idea

Tony Blair has written up his beliefs on Liberty in today's Observer. I want to give it a good going over, and may do so later, but am busy. In the meantime, Charlie at Perfect is on the case:
The prime minister also seems to believe that liberty is a zero-sum game: you can’t have more of it, you can only shift it around. In his view, it’s all about achieving the right ‘balance’. His rhetoric is, likewise, ‘balanced’, although - in this case - bizarre
Go read, both. If anyone else want's to point out the many obvious flaws in Tired Tony's arguments then feel free to go ahead, I'll try to add links in to any others that appear.

Update: This, by Longrider:
No, it is not, you dissembling poltroon. Organised crime has always been ugly - unless Al Capone was pretty? Or, closer to home, the east end gangs such as the Krays, were sweet boys really? Modernity is not an excuse to sweep away our freedoms - only a charlatan would believe it so. There is nothing new here that was not here before.
Update 2: D-Notice (who happens to be a lawyer by trade) here:
He doesn’t mention the Government and other public bodies cannot be stopped from using laws that breach the HRA and that if a law is declared to be “incompatible” with the HRA then it’s up to Parliament to decide whether to amend the law; if so, good; if not, tough!
Update 3: Blairwatch:
IRA terrorism was different in nature and scale... there was a hell of a lot more of it. No muslim group has set off as many bombs as the IRA did, or killed as many people as the Loyalists did. But Tony's trying to change the subject. Notice how he says it's not about civil liberties but about modernity. Utter guff.
Update 4: Garry at Curious Hamster:
What's possibly more worrying is that, while I'm almost certain that Blair doesn't realise it, there are distinct facist undertones here. The state will guarantee your liberty to live your life in the way that the state demands. For the good of the nation.

Blair isn't a facist. He is, I suspect, ignorant as to exactly what facism is. He certainly doesn't understand that a government official with unrestricted power poses a greater danger to our society than a disaffected youth in a hoodie or a terrorist.
That'll be me last update; any more, see comments, etc; if anyone's interested, more will likely pop up in the Bloglines Citations. Update 5: I lied, so sue me. Tim and Tim have more, both rather good, so worth a look as well.

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Nick Barlow - 404 Not Found

Email from Nick Barlow, his site (What you can get away with) is down due to circumstances beyond his control, he hopes to get it back up Monday.

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Lib Dems- internet improvement?

At the beginning of the Lib Dem leadership contest, I wrote a review (well, more of a rant) about the websites of the respective campaigns. I still get a few people reading it, (mostly coming from the Campbell Campaign blog) so I thought I'd do a follow up, as there has been a remarkable improvement in many ways.

At the time, I ranked them as follows:
  1. Ming- nice, elegent, functional, not trying to reinvent the wheel
  2. Huhne- it's there, it works, it doesn't piss me off
  3. Oaten- it's not even there yet, but his personal page isn't ugly
  4. Hughes- It's flash driven, I can't link to individual pages, I can copy and paste text but I then can't source it, it annoys me, it's not standards complaint, it won't work in a text browser or on my phone browser (I just checked, Opera Mini, it reads this site and Europhobia fine, has a bit of problem with DK's graphics and loves the Guardian news site), it's just wrong.
So, obviously, Oaten's site was never there.

Ming Campbell

Improved layout and appearance from then, most of it good. Good information out there, and nice use of different sections. On a purely personal level, an article written by Paddy Ashdown was always going to appeal to me, best PM we've never had and all that.

It has flaws; my flashblock tells me the title bar had a flash element (it's designed well enough to have a default alternative for those without flash installed), which, while pretty, adds very little in impact, especially as to read the site you need to scroll down so it disappears. The picture of Ming looks a bit grainy and, to me, is weirdly posed. But overall, an improvement on what was before, kudos to the webteam there.

Chris Huhne

I said it was ugly and looked dated. No longer the case, now redesigned and has a much more graphical web feel. Nice use of "podcasting", a newsfeed, Blog aggregator of supporters, etc. Utility issues, the top logo doesn't link to the homepage when you're on a sub page, and the navigation menu is to the far right, which goes against user expectations, but a masive improvement on what was before, and a good use of technology. Oh, he's changed the acronym so he's not telling a LIE as well.

Simon Hughes

I said: Awful. My new rating: Poor. The content is substantially improved, the look is better, there's no ugly flash to get passed. There's a campaign blog, which currently has this picture of him near the top, um, not the best publicity shot ever, who's he going to hit? So, overall, it should be OK? No, sorry. One, very simple, and so easy to fix technical problem.

No page titles, no site title

In this post, I outlines simple techniques that can improve your sites usability and search engine presence. If I run a site search, the page title tells me what I've found. But if you don't have any page titles?

So, a significant improvement to Simon's site. But that's going from being rated worse than non-existent to merely being poor.

The winner is

I think, overall, that Ming scrapes a win over Huhne on the site front. Just. Both good, Huhne has a bespoke site that works, Ming has a customised Wordpress site that look good. Simon's site is adequate, but isn't actually helping his web presence. If you want a website, it's to get web presence. If you don't help search engines and users of search engines, you may as well not bother.

Still, if the polls are right, it's neck and neck between Huhne and Campbell. I've already said that I'd prefer Huhne to win, so Simon having a poor site doesn't, really, bother me.

However, it is my understanding that as President it's his remit to cover the party website? If so, someone kick him, the Conservative website has been significantly revamped recently, very well done to whoever did that, the Lib Dems need to play catch up there. When the hurly burly's done, Simon goes back to being President, which, from those activists I've heard from, he's considered to be doing a good job. But he needs someone who gets how to use the web properly.

Quote of the Day

We are giving the authorities an open invitation to abuse their power:
"In a democracy, personal liberties are rarely diminished overnight. Rather, they are lost gradually, by acts of well-meaning people, with good intentions, amid public approval. But the subtle loss of freedom is never recognised until the crisis is over and we look back in horror. And then it is too late."
-Andrew Napolitano, American judge, just after 9/11


Off The Record

At the risk of total flamebait, I must say that I think the suspension of Ken Livingstone from his position of Mayor of London is utterly stupid.

We seem to have situation similar to 'those' cartoons; a highly visible figure has made a comment - an unwise and regrettable comment, true - which they have then been called upon to retract. Citing free speech, they have refused, and they have been punished because of this.

Now ok, Livingstone probably shouldn't have said what he did, but as far as I can see, he broke no laws in saying what he said. What he did do was cause offence, something which I consider an absolutely fundamental right of any society which considers itself to have free speech. What's more, Livingstone has been democratically elected to office, yet entirely undemocratically removed - no tribunal or faceless board of bureaucrats should be able to override (even temporarily) the decision of seven million voters. I mean, how do they even have this power, and does not the mere existence of this power make the democratic nature of the post a joke in and of itself? I sure as hell wouldn't vote in an election if I knew my decision could be undone without good reason and the consultation of the electorate.

Quoth Ken:

There will be therefore no apology or expression of regret to the Daily Mail Group... To the Daily Mail group, no-one in Britain is less qualified to complain about anti-Semitism. In truth, those papers were the leading advocate of anti-Semitism in the country for half a century.

I'll leave to you whether or not you agree with Ken's comments on the Mail group, and whether it is therefore ironic or not that they should be complaining of anti-semitism considering the history that Livingstone ascribes to them. But I will say that regardless of their stand on anti-semitism, from what I've read of the Mail, they are generally quite happy to single out any particular group of individuals and target them with the 'abuse' that they consider so unacceptable in this case. What's more, they do this daily in the press, rather than in a private setting where you may think your comments should be considered private.

Which of course brings into focus the question of whether or not political figures are ever 'off record' or whether they in fact represent the position at all times. Enter stage left Prince Charles, recently in court over the publications of his private journals. The argument here of course revolves around whether or not Charles opinions are public interest because of the agreement that the Royal family do not pursue their own political agenda. Frankly, I think this is quite stupid. Of course Charles should be allowed to have his own political opinion, and he can shout it from the rooftops the same as anyone else. Likewise, Charles should be able to make comments (political or otherwise) in private, and not expect to see them plastered all over the newspapers the following morning.

we seem to have ourselves a vicious circle going as far as the press and political figures are concerned. Charles is just one man, whose opinion is no more or less valid than anybody else's. The papers only report his opinion because he is a famous figure, but then his opinion is only heard because the papers are so keen to report on him because it sells papers. The same goes for Livingstone obviously - my private comments don't go beyond whoever I voice them to, because I am not important. I consider this a basic freedom though, the freedom to have an opinion which is not scrutinised by the world unless I allow it - like posting it here. We need to get off the backs of public figures and allow them similar privacy, and not create situations from their private life that we would not expect to see a normal individual be bought up for.

It is supposedly the electorate that runs this country, not the media. We would do well to remember that when the latest 'scandal' hits the headlines.

Belarus: the last European dictatorship?

Sometimes, it's worth remembering that while Blair/Brown/Blears et al may be destroying the freedoms we're rightly proud of in this country, at least they're there to be destroyed.

United 4 Belarus - Home

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Samizdata quote of the day | Samizdata.net

Message for the tired man:
Whoever said "there is no such thing as bad publicity" obviously never had their career "Dan Rather'ed" into tiny pieces by the twenty thousand bloggers.
We're coming for you Tony.
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E-democracy: tied up in red tape

Or, why politicians should blog

Does it come as a surprise to anyone that I think our elected representatives should use modern technology to engage with their electorate directly? As a strong supporter of the principles of representative, Parliamentary democracy, and also of local democracy and local councils, reading this in the Guardian is disheartening:
Paul Evans, head of the Councillor.info scheme to provide elected members with a web presence, says only a tiny percentage of councillors use their sites to do anything more than list contact details.
Hmm. Paul Evans. I think I know what the problem here is. Councillors know that you should Never Trust a Hippy.

Engagement with the electorate is increasingly needed.

Some politicians do a much better job than others. Some have a very strong web presence, and are learning to use it effectively. Others? Well, improvements could be made. Not, necessarily, by blogging (although I think some sort of 'blog', whether updated daily, weekly, or monthly is good, not least for RSS feeds and similar), but definately by improving the layout and structure of their site.

Very basic web optimisation techniques, correct page titling, the use of Header tags, article pages rather than archive pages, etc. It's important to write for the web and, if republishing newspaper articles, edit them (or get a member of the team/a volunteer) to reformat them to be web friendly. For example, I've just written a dull paragraph about techniques, right?
  • Optimise your site for search engines and users
  • Ensure each page has full title tags at the top,
  • Break the text up using Header tags and ordered lists
  • Put every article on a separate page, don't just archive them all on one page
  • If republishing print articles from, for example, the local press, reformat them for the web, don't just print big chunks of text

Big chunks of text are dull and lose reader attention

See? Wasn't that better to read?

Most traffic to a website comes from search engines.

Search engine headlines are generated by the title tags at the top of the page. Ergo, every page should have a descriptive title tag to make the site more appealing to a potential visitor. This is especially important for news and opinion articles; search engines (let's be honest, we're talking Google here, the rest don't matter - at the moment) pay attention to header tags, title tags and page structure. Vary basic techniques can make your site and your opinion pieces much more search engine friendly.

By default, it also makes you more user friendly. I want to have a reason to visit your site regularly. You want me to come back regularly, else why have a site? The best bit of all of this? All of the things you need to do to make your site media, search and user friendly is pretty much the default in decent blogging software.

In addition, if you keep the site up to date and approachable, maybe you can cut back on the number of emails you receive asking the same question again and again.

Instead, you'll have a whole lot of new questions, mostly for clarifications.

Hostage to fortune?

Yes, there's a chance something you write can come back and bite you. Yes, there's a chance you can be quoted out of context. But then, you have that with any media.
  • "Did you threaten to overrule him?"
  • Mr Redwood, would you care to sing a nice anthem?
  • Is that an egg in the face
  • "Pauline had done her hair"
Every new media, every traditional media, even your choice of car ownership opens you up to attack.

But if people are used to going to your site, seeing your opinions, you can use that as a right of reply. Instantly, if you so wish.

You don't need to publish daily. You don't even need to publish regularly, although that does help. Promote the use of RSS feedreading software, email the updates out, or, better, just email links to the update. Engage in a debate with your voters.

I have a lot more respect for a politician who votes against what I want, but explains themselves well, than I do for lobby fodder aparatchiks, even if they're on my side. Talk to us. Engage with us. If you're not sure how to go about it, ask us. We'll, mostly, be happy to help.

Some blogs are written badly. Some are pathetic. Some are rabid attack dogs out for blood. Others are sedate, reserved, windbags. A bit like the mainstream media really. We don't dismiss newspapers across the board because of Rebekah Wade's Sun, or Paul Dacre's Daily Mail.

E-communication is increasingly the norm. When I started in my job, I spent most of my day on the phone, all over the world. Now, my equivalent in that role barely says a word all day, it's all e-mail. A part of me misses ringing Poland every day. But I welcome the ability I, and others, have, to influence opinion and discuss the news with anyone, anywhere in the world.

What's your local representative doing to talk to you

Reading this and don't know? That means they're probably not doing enough, after all, I'm just a lone nut in a small flat. They work for you, don't you think they should talk to you to? Write to them and tell them so. Politely, of course. More on this general ideal here and sometimes at Paulie's site linked above.

G'night all.

Non-trivial Solutions: Housesitting

Andrew (whose comment I quoted here) comes on board:
Well, the first thing is to lay down partisan arms, and start talking to the enemy. Evil Liberal Democrat Mat over at Not Little England, and evil Labourite Unity at Talk Politics are starting a coalition of the willing with two broad aims - firstly, some kind of tactical voting jiggery pokery to get the authoritarians of all stripes out of power, and secondly, to create a new constitutional settlement for the British people. You have to at least admire their ambition.
Well, fortune favours the bold and all that. Oh, technicalyly not a LibDem, still not got around to rejoining. Besides, as I've said a few times, on the issues that matter to me, I'm closest to the LibDems on 80% of them. That doesn't mean I agree with the LibDems 80% of the time, it's just that on some things, I don't care what the policy is.
I'm in with them, evilness set aside for the common good, so click those links and pledge allegiance. And cash. We need lots of it.
Good. He's right though, any kind of campaign like this needs to break out of the blogosphere and get press coverage and, eventually, people campaigning on the grounds. Expenses will need to be covered, printing paid for, etc.

I remember one of my earliest experiences with electoral politics was aged 17, Charter 88 organised a series of candidates hustings around the country; I had no vote, but I went because I was interested. Signed up to the charter, but the debate held was interesting and informative (and the Natural Law candidate was hilarious, when asked which politician she most admired, she answered with "Rupert Allason" - the MP for the previous two Parliaments and against whom she was standing).

It would be great to organise that sort of thing for 2009/2010. Publicity of all sorts is needed; we may need to coordinate letter writing campaigns, both to MPs and to local/national papers as well. Anyway...
As for me, I may just come out of blogging retirement. Every time I take a break, the government passes yet more authoritarian legislation. Maybe it's my fault?
Well, we've got to blame it on someone mate ;-)

Blog more. Actually, everyone set up a blog. Go on.

Oh, reminder:

Liberty Blog Round Up

I think a nice summary on a fairly regular basis of the on-topic posts would be good, there are loads of them out there now. First one to go up soon, possibly tomorrow, nominations currently to me using a proxy address, libertyroundup@fuzzyduck.org (no mailto:, but also no spaces, etc, that domain got trawled by spammers ages ago unfortunately).
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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Dear Dad (and other new readers),

My lovely, if at times annoying, sister, tells me you want to have a look at what I've been doing with my spare time for the last few months. Fair enough, I've sent her a link to pass on; I've lost your email address directly after one too many computer crashes I'm afraid.

So, I thought I'd write a brief description of the site and how it works for yourself and any other new readers we've picked up recently. But first Dad, a thank you. We never really talked about politics much when I was a kid, you worked with politicians every day, taught me the importance of being impartial and putting your own views aside when doing a job. You did, however (with Mum), teach me to think for myself, read, learn, research and come to my own conclusions; your refusal to have us inducted into the Church is something I remain grateful for, my atheism is so ingrained I have problems with weddings, christenings and funerals same as yourself. I still can't pay bills on time, and I perpetually forget my head, but I can use it when I put my mind to it, and for that I'm very thankful.

So, what have I been up to

Not sure if you met Paul when we shared the house in Exeter, short curly haired bloke from Shropshire, but together we've been writing a lot about politics; we both studied it at Exeter, and we mostly agree on everything (we sometimes worked to find things we disagreed on in order to debate, we both enjoy it). So I decided I'd have a go at this blogging lark, and asked him to both write a bit and keep me going (always did work better as part of a team).

It's a "weblog". Essentially, an online magazine that we write articles for when we feel like it, and each article has its own, built in, letters (comments) page. Some people come to the site regularly to see if we've written something, others subscribe to our "syndication feeds" (all those coloured button links to the right), methods to subscribe to the site and get regular updates via various types of software, and have recently picked up a few more readers than before.

It's fun to write, and getting feedback on your ideas, especially from those that disagree with you, fores you to think about your opinions. I love doing it, and I'm using the subject of my degree, rather than just the skills I picked up doing it as I do at work. It's going rather well at the moment; we've got a lot of regular readers, We've
  1. Won an award
  2. Been nominated for the weekly BritBlog roundup (I nearly bought you Tim's book for Xmas as it happens)
  3. Lots of other people are talking about what we're saying
  4. And I've become involved in a new movement to try and effect genuine changes to the constitution in order to control and repeal the actions of the current government.
Running a site like this is easy, and completely free. Haven't made any money yet from the adverts, but the Amazon links are quite good; if you (or anyone) fancy signing up to their DVD rental scheme (which I'm thinking of anyway), then they'll pay me good money at no cost to you!

Oh, if you're still using Microsoft's Internet Explorer to read websites, can I strongly recommend you get Firefox instead? Button links to the right, it's just so much better, and completely free as well (they'll, eventually, pay me money for doing that too!).

I would promise to come visit you and Mum more often, but I always do, and never get around to it. I'll try to. Much more likely to see you when I get roped in to helping darling sis move house, really good news on that one. And yes, I am slightly scared that I'll be an uncle soon.

There's a lot to read on here (and I try not to swear too often), have a look around.

Your ever loving, but unreliable and forgetful, son,
- Matthew.

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John Reid: Idiot

A Big Stick and a Small Carrot: John Reid: Idiot

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DMOZ Open Directory

Hmmm, to whoever did our listing here, mind if I nick the description for the next tagline?:
Not Little England - A weblog opposing attempts to destroy the civil liberties and open minded ideals that made Britain great.
I assume the listing is new, and definately a few more established blogs missing from it (read: most of the ones I read regularly), never really used DMOZ but it sounds like a good plan.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

My hair, my "crowning glory"?

Two High Court judges ruled that people regarded their hair as their "crowning glory" and could be "intrinsic" to their identity.
My understanding from the brief spot on PM is that this sets a precedent, your hair is now part of your person legally, and anyone who cuts it off without your consent is guilty of an assault, right?

Bloody right too. Number of people that "joke" about cutting my hair off, really gets to me, my choice to wear my hair long is a source of humour, a woman's choice to wear it short goes unmentioned. Why? Nice to see that my (mostly) neatly kept hair is now actually considered part of me and the law will now recognise it.

Serious issue? No, but if I can tell people to piss off when they effectively propose ABH and cite this case, then I'm happy.

Off out now, not that anyone cares, but light blogging this evening from me.
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Fears raised on ministers' power

The Legislative and Regulatory Bill is scaring a lot of people online, it's one of the tipping point moments. BBC News has finally covered it:
For the Tories Ken Clarke said it could "sweep away parliamentary procedure and debate on an astonishing scale".

But minister Jim Murphy insisted the bill would have safeguards built in.
And from an anonymous comment, I'm pointed at Rob Knight's post from Sunday, which I must've missed when I was there yesterday. Go read. If nothing else, EU-Serf's comment there about the need for cross-party opposition to this is something I wholeheartedly endorse.

Switzerland to help Poland catch up with Europe

"Switzerland is not EU member but it has close relations with the union," the Swiss minister said. "We have decided to make a contribution to level economic and social differences between the new and the old EU states and to allocate 1 billion Swiss francs for the purpose," she added.
A non EU state thinks it's a good idea to give money to Eastern reconstruction and catch up? Works with the EU Commission to set up a special fund? I have no idea what to make of this one.
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Vote positively


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Linford's Top 10 Political Speeches

Joys of being a proper journalist; people paid him to go report on these. Paul Linford: My Top 10 Political Speeches:
Following the success of my top 10 political books - well, four comments are better than none! - here's my list of the ten best political speeches I have heard during my lifetime.
Lucky git. Have to agree with him on some of them, especially his first choice. Kinnock's blistering attack on Militant gets played every so often, whenever I hear it I stop to listen, and I'm not in any involved, I was a kid at the time. Go read.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Talk Politics - Liberty Central

OK, we may have got a little carried away at time in the last week; while I hoped to strike a nerve, I certainly didn't expect to get as many disparate groups on board as fast, or things to grow as quickly as they have. There's a lot of frustration out there with the status quo, and riding that wave isn't exactly easy. Controlling it without getting carried away? Not sure if I could, let alone whether I should.

Re-read my original post, with a view to maybe taking the link out of the tagline. Not ging to, I stand by it completely. I don't want, and did not call for, a partizan, anti-Labour campaign; I called for a campaign against the current Govt, and identified their authoritarian measures as the problem. I have no problem with a politician who rejects attacks on our fundamental liberties, regardless of party; I may disagree with them on policies, but that's a debate worth having. But removing my freedoms for the sake of a few headlines and an appeal to the politics of fear? No thanks.

Politicians in favour of an authoritarian, moralising or state-controlling agenda I oppose, whether they be Thatcherites and Cornerstone Tories with appeals to Victorian Values or "Faith Flag and Family", or New Labour apparatchiks who legislate away fundamental freedoms and declare their intent to catalogue, control and nanny my life.
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences.”
C. S. Lewis (via)
The worst thing about our Govt? I'm pretty sure that, when it comes down to it, they genuinely mean well and beleive they're doing the right thing. They're not.

I want to be involved in a campaign to show that, to win the case for liberal values, individual freedoms, constitutional reforms and Parliamentary democracy.

That's why I want you to go here and read what Unity has to say about what comes next.

A tactical voting campaign is being planned. If done in the right way, for the right reasons, it could do some good. But I, personally, am not interested in partizan brinkmanship, back to the post that started it all:
liberal Labour bloggers can work within the party in an attempt to bring the control freaks to heel
That was the first part of my 3-point plan. It remains a central part of it. Authoritarian centralism is something I reject utterly. Unfortunately, the current leadership of the Labour party are authoritarian centralists par excellance.

If the Labour party has, fundamentally, changed by the time of the next election, if the next leader isn't someone who has bought into the project completely, then my opinions may change. I see no signs of this, I see no ministers that give me hope.

But I see Labour members that give me hope. Work from within your party, if you so wish. It needs to change, it has lost its way.

I have almost given up hope for the party I voted for in 2001, the Govt I stayed up to watch win in 1997. There are no lost causes in politics.

If the govt stops attempting to categorise me, rolls back its recent regulations, accepts the basic principles of liberty that we're working on and talking about, then maybe I won't get involved in a massive tactical voting campaign in 2009. Maybe it won't be needed.

For now, however, I'm afraid it is.

Admin: Title and colour scheme

Just thought I'd point out, last week when I tweaked the template I finally got rid of the "Great Britain" bit in the title tags. The blog was always supposed to be called simply Not Little England, but Iput the GB bit in because I wanted to explaint he title. It stayed for ages because, well, Google referrals benefitted and people were referring to it as such. Back to just the plain title now, so if you use a "blog this" applet or similar it'll all display right. Of course, those linking to us with the Great Britain bit are helping the Google interpretation, so no need to change anything ;-)

Second, Biodun comments:
I know this is off-topic and probably very different from what most people have been saying...

but I hate your new site colours, especially the grey boxes holding the posts. I think they're ugly.

Can we have a vote to see how many people want it back the old way?
Well, part of why I do this is to teach myself website coding. People didn't like the all black scheme, I didn't like the all murky grey scheme, so I compromised with the boxes. However, I'm open to persuasion for anything that I am actually able to code (or anything someone can explain to me).

Perhaps a three column effect, with black side borders, and grey central column, with no boxes? That was the intent when I last changed it, but, well, my coding with CSS is pretty dismal.

Sticking to a dark background/bright text though, personal preference, high contrast is good.

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Indy: Lawson: Bird Flu, don't panic

Dominic Lawson: I'm not scared of avian flu (and I've had it):
There is not a single recorded proven example of it spreading between humans. Not one
Just an aside. I'm fed up with all the media hype over this non-story. No H2H transmissions yet recorded, minimal deaths compared to normal flu deaths each winter, widespread evidence of immunity and recovery withing Chinese populations, dealt with in Vietnam. First discovered as a strain in Scotland; had forgotten that one. Non-story, MSM scare story, worth watching, but never worth the front page screaming it's getting.

Indy: Thomas Sutcliffe on Irving and Free Speech

Todays Independent:
If you want to defend David Irving's right to talk nonsense, as I do now, you have to face the fact that you're going to find yourself in ugly company ... Unfortunately those of us who think liberty of expression has had a very bad time just recently don't have a lot of choice. You can't always choose the site of battle, and there's no getting round the fact that those who wish to qualify and trim the principle of free speech occupy what looks very much like the high ground.
He is, of course, completely correct. As Judy eloquently points out, Irving is, not to put to fine a point on it, the type of person I'd rather avoid at all costs. However, banning him from speaking his mind isn't the way to go about it. Sending him to jail for making a speech is counter-productive and potentially even more damaging, as John observes here.

Sutcliffe again:
...free speech has never been defended by protecting the saying of things that nobody minds being uttered. If that was so what kind of liberty would it be?
Iqbal Sacranie made some pretty obnoxious remarks about homesexuality recently. The way to counter this is not to ban him from saying these things, not to arrest him, but to tell him he's wrong. Shout it from every rooftop. Lowri Turner may be an ignorant bigot, but the way to deal with this is to tell the world she is (as this Google search shows was done), not ban her from talking such nonsense. I retain my position that those cartoons were stupid, unfunny and not worth publishing, furthermore, that to do so once was misguided, to continually do so was bloody stupid. But I would not seek to ban a newspaper editor from being a blithering idiot (although I'll happily call them out when they are, especially everyone's favourite traitor). Freedom of speech has to be an absolute. If someone is talking crap, you need to tell them it's so, denounce them, shout it from the rooftops. "No platform" when it comes to groups such as the BNP is counter productive; debate 'em, show them up as what they are.
There's a real danger in moving to a position where the affront a speech might cause governs its admissibility...This particular right is too important to be withheld from the repulsive.

This is what you get...

When you introduce legislation aimed at stopping terrorists.

That's right, legislation originally brought in to help fast track extraditions of would-be terrorists is now being used to combat white-collar crime. Or, more specifically, legislation bought in to make it easier for terrorists to be extradited to the USA is being used to combat suspected bank fraudsters.

So let's take a closer look at this:

First off, we have the inevitable yet quite wrong practice of using very aggressive law in an area in which it was not intended to be used. This is legislation accepted on the grounds that it is necessary to combat terrorism, a loss of freedom in some areas to supposedly safeguard freedom in others. So is it acceptable to use this law to combat something as mundane as fraud? No, it isn't, but tough, because the law is there now and isn't going to be repealed any time soon.

Secondly, we have the fact that it is now not necessary for the US to provide prima facie evidence in order to get suspects extradited. Let's leave the America bashing for a second, and overlook the fact that Britain still needs to give probable cause to get a suspect shipped the other way, and instead focus on the fact that British citizens can now be extradited for trial in a foreign country, for a crime that there is no solid evidence that they committed. Obviously the doing away with Habeas Corpus is not enough for the British and US governments; let's just treat suspects like cattle on the off-chance they are guilty and ship them off to America. Er, no. Perhaps, perhaps you could find a way to justify this in a case of suspected terrorism, but for fraud? It isn't what the legislation was intended for, and it's clearly using a forced-through law for political ends.

I said I'd leave the America-bashing alone. In fact I'll actually leave it to Boris Johnson:

They [the US] can, under the 2003 Extradition Act, Hoover over to America, as if by some electromagnetic power, people against whom they are not obliged to produce any prima facie evidence - whereas we have absolutely no such corresponding right to extradite to Britain suspects that we want to.

And finally, there is also the small matter of this suspected crime being committed by British citizens against a British bank, predominantly sited in Britain. The Enron link, and the fact that some portions of the crime took place in the USA and the Cayman Isles, should not be enough to counter the simple fact that this should be a domestic UK issue. Now, I'm quite sure the US legal system will treat them fairly, and that at the end of the day it probably doesn't matter which country they get tried in, but there is a principle here - British citizens should not be whisked off to a foreign country for trial, even if it is politically convenient to do so.

So yes, this is what you get for giving up your freedoms!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Coalition: Coming on nicely, critique and roundup

Update:Changed a few things and marked them, just to be a little more clear, provisional title very misleading.

Very briefly, I'm in a rush, large amount of discussion out there, not all of it favourable, good summary from the Bloglines Citations facility. Some criticisms, discussed below, likely they'll be ongoing. Some opposition, Bob Piper and Neil Harding being two, I don't think either have fully got the point.

Anyway, Anyone But Labour Tactical Voting Campaign (provisional title) is crystalising, see Bloggerheads for more on that, specifically I agree completely with Tim's call for readers to join in and set upt ehir own blogs. Agree or disagree, blog-spot is free, and getting a domain with all the trimmings isn't that expensive. Many of us out there can help with the basics if you want or need it. The more people we have discussing the issue, linking to each other and telling their real life friends/colleagues, etc the better off we and the campaign are.

I'm thinking maybe a Carnival of Blogs, a lá Britblog, that could rotate around, the best posts, the new blogs, etc? Good idea? Ah, whatever; start nominating anyway; libertyroundup at fuzzyduck dot org until I set up a proper email account for it. Anything on topic, and also any/all well written critiques.

Unity has been posting and working on the other aspect, Liberty Central, see his blog for more on that and the openings of a discussion.

Beyond that, I have a life to lead; keep the feedback and posts coming, even critiques and flaws are worth reading.

The ID Cards Bill - What You Can Do To Help Defeat It.

From Iain Dale's Diary: The ID Cards Bill - What You Can Do To Help Defeat It.:
Andrew Watson of No2ID has asked me to publicise the final stage of their lobbying campaign on the Identity cards Bill. He's trying to get as many people as possible to write to Members of the House of Lords before it considers the Bill again on Monday 6 March. Click HERE and then HERE to find out more.
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WriteToThem.com Zeitgeist 2005

I mentioned my MP is pretty good, right? Well, he's one of 29 with a 100% success record from the WriteToThem.com Beta Test - WriteToThem.com Zeitgeist 2005 (Adrian Sanders, 16th). I'm one of those respondents; only used the service once, I've got his email address now.

For those wanting to contact their MP, find out where they stand, etc, I heartily recommend this service. Some of the notable responses are telling...

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What else are we for?

Repealing this lot. (Hat tip: Chris)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Coalition: what is it for? Where is it going?

Update: changed a few misleading titles, nothing deleted, for honesty's sake.

So, James and Joe ask a very important question and raise some valid concerns; what is the campaign for. By defining it as purely against Labour, James is correct when he says:
If there is to be a “coalition of the willing” on civil liberties issues, then let it be for real civil liberties, not a handful that Conservatives have deemed electorally useful to cherry-pick. Let it concentrate on individual candidates and politicians, tactically opposing any candidate who doesn’t sign up to X, Y, Z rather than letting individuals off the hook and supporting “best fit” political parties who subsequently will be under no pressure whatsoever to carry out their reforms.
We have to be careful to be in favour of something, not just against something. We need to be campaigning for liberty and reform, not just against the current government, we need to be a positive force, not a negative force.

So, as Bishop Hill observes here:
There are two strands we need to cover.

1. Getting Labour out (campaigning methods and tactics)
2. Keeping the next lot in order (Constitutional stuff, what are we after?)

I suggest we start with broad areas of principle and move on to specific issues at a later date. It will be very easy to get bogged down in detail on "social rights" or the right to bear arms.

For issues like this it may well be better to leave doors open rather than to try to slam them shut and risk alienating potential supporters.
And I agree completely. Consequently, the campaign needs to effectively have two, linked, branches, effectively operating semi-independently of each other. The first is a tactical voting campaign, starting with the forthcoming local elections and moving on from there. That campaign has acquired a [provisional] name already, it's nice, simple, catchy [that I'm no longer sold on, mistake].

Vote Anyone But Labour Tactical Voting Campaign

More on that later when details are finalised; I'm in contact, privately, with a number of people that are putting together nascent ideas. This is going very fast (there's a lot of frustration out there), but the worst thing to do is rush into something and make mistakes.

Next up?

Liberty Central

Unity already has this started, discussed further at Talk Politics - Where liberty is, there is my country, a nice little quoting of Franklin I believe. Nick Barlow has also suggested that a broad based Constitutional Convention, learning from the success of the Scottish experience, but also from other, older attempts; the US founding fathers have been mentioned.

Bishop Hill (Bishop Hill: British Constitution) and Chris (strange stuff: The new British Constitution) have already started a discussion about this, and there are others, specifically some of those involved in the Campaign for an English Parliament, amongst others, that are distinctly on the Right that have been arguing for a new constitutional settlement for some time.

It needn't, in my view, be a radical shift or a massive change in the structure of the country. I, personally, may favour radical changes, but I've read my Burke, I know that people don't like sudden, drastic changes. But I also know that
All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing
I wouldn't, actually, go so far as to describe Blair/Brown et al as evil. But they are walking roughshod over both the traditional constitution and modern liberal values of liberty.

We need to establish a campaign for freedoms, liberties and a redrawn constitution. It can, and should, include such other, established campaigning groups with whom we can make common ground. Liberty Central. Bringing them all together. Cross party, non-partizan in favour of those fundamental beliefs that make a modern liberal country.

Joe's right though:
There are many decent people in the Conservative Party, but there are many nasties too. So I have no inclination to give them a hand up. I am rather enjoying their plight, grinning smugly at Cameron's desperate spin
To which I respond with two points. First, from my post when Kennedy resigned:
Cameron's apparent conversion of the old Tory party into a modern, forward looking liberal party is a welcome, and necessary, developement in British politics. Those of us who looked on in horror at the old Tory government can, it appears, approach Cameron's Tories with cautious optimism; they are no longer at the top right, enemies of the blood, but at the bottom mid-right, enemies merely of the head.

It is esential, in the months to come, that the LibDems recognise the new shape of British politics, and look to a leader who can both work, constructively, with Cameron on areas, such as civil liberties and personal freedoms, where they agree. But that leader also needs to be able to strongly emphasise the differences, push that they're not both the same, that it's not a case of "vote LibDem, get Tory".
I stand by my analysis in that post, although I'm not sure I fully agree with the conclusion now. For both Joe and James, and any other LibDems who share their, legitimate, concerns, both read that post and comment here; we need to make a breakthrough, the LibDems need to sweep up the Tory votes in those parts of the country where they are weak; what happened at Dunfermline? The Tory vote collapsed. Why? Because the LibDems were the challengers. Third party squeeze is something the LibDems are very familiar with in those seats where they are the thrid party.

Now, the Conservatives are getting used to it in those areas where they are the third, or worse, party. We also need to ensure that in those seats where the Tories challenge Labour, that we (and, to an extent, UKIP) do not cost Tory victories; Cameron says he's going to ensure the candidates echo his "modern" values. Yes, I don't trust him fully either. But I do know that there are a number of Tories who do echo our need for liberal values. Specifically, I refer you to Gav, here:
the younger blood in the Conservatives would still have been uncomfortable with the party’s previous position on homosexuality, marriage and other illiberal policies.
and here:
The Tories are realigning themselves as the party of the liberal economics (as it was already) and liberal social policy (which is a major and welcome change). Pragmatic Conservatives are more and more understanding that the “Back to Basics” policy of Major and the unenlightened social policies of Thatcher were off the mark
He's a very vocal Tory blogger, but pretty sure there's a groundswell like him.

Yes, there will always be the headbangers, and I don't trust Dave to be more than saying the right thing and manouvering like Blair. Which is why I think we need Liberty Central. Let's commit him to things, and hold him to them.

I would like to think we can persuade the Conservative party to commit to electoral reform. It would be in their best interests given the way the electoral system is backed against them now. Maybe, possibly, it could happen (Gert has more). But we could at least get a cast iron promise to a commission and a referendum. And we can maximise the number of LibDem (and other) MPs to keep it on the agenda as well.

I cannot risk another Labour govt after this one. ID cards would become entrenched, the NIR would take hold, the basic principles many of us have been fighting for, campaigning for, dreaming of or writing about for years would be lost. Replaced by a centralised, authoritarian bureacracy that reserves to itself the right to censor and approve. Even Shirley Williams is buying into elements of authoritarianism.

I, we, cannot sit there and do nothing. Yes, this means being anti-Labour. Yes, this means campaigning against something. But we do it because it's an attack on everything we stand for.

So, what are we for Joe? We're for Liberty. We're for Democracy. We're for Parliamentary power over the executive, we're for decentralisation and freedoms.

We're for a Britain in which liberty is a central tenet. We're for those things we can all agree on.

Are you with us?

BritBlog Roundup #53 is up

With extra link to here goodness. Good stuff, as always, and some new blogs to add to the ever-growing blogroll...

Blair, Hitler and Godwin...

I think I've found an exception to Godwin's Law, Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry:
But once you accept his premises –lebensraum, the supremacy of the Ayran race, etc.- his actions did have a kind of loony logic. He meant well. Blair, on the other hand, is working single-mindedly for the triumph of Evil. Only when you have grasped this do his policies make any sense.
Brilliant, just read the whole post. I was going to turn in, but it showed up in the feed and I couldn't stop laughing.
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Longrider moves, LibertyCentral on its way

Two brief ones before I turn in, The Longrider has succumbed to the lure of his own domain name, and is moving his blog; the old link remains on the blogroll for a bit, as he hasn't figured out how to import the archives. If anyone knows how, I'm sure he'd appreciate the assist, I certainly would as I'm thinking of switching to wordpress myself at some point.

Second, Unity comments to say the site is almost up and running; keep an eye on Talk Politics tomorrow. I shall be out for the day, I'll put up the shiny logo he's done when the link is live.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Interesting Google referrals

Now why, we ask ourselves, would someone from the BBC be searching for this: Peter Hain terrorism

Still, 5th after the BBC and TheyWorkForYou. That's not bad.

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notes from a small bedroom

Well, nice to be having an effect; Pete of Curator's Egg (a non-political but worth reading blog) joins us political bloggers with notes from a small bedroom:
The key fight in the days ahead is no longer a question of left or right - the vital question is liberty or authority. I know where I stand, and I know what I fear for the future of my children
Welcome to the blogroll Pete, now all I need to do is reorganise it properly like I said I would...
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Friday, February 17, 2006

Coalition: Bringing the Right onboard

OK, Unity of Talk Politics has already registered a domain, so part 2 is in progress, completely independently. Link to follow, naturally, when there's something to link to. He's also said he'll post more on the subject over the weekend on his blog, so watch that space as well. Initially, I was put off the name by connotations in modern politics, but then Nosemonkey reminded us all of the title of J.S. Mill's seminal work, On Liberty.
Unity also stresses: On non-partisanship I'm please to seek acknowledgement that this should be anti-New Labour - lets not forget that there is a constituency in the Labour Party, like myself, who're just as pissed off with Blair as everyone else and have just as much to gain by joining the coalition of the willing.

We need the Labour dissenters as much as anyone else - not least because it will prevent us being written off as just a Lib Dem/Tory coalition.

Our aim should be for the Great Reforming Parliament - after that we can go back to business as usual on all the other stuff.
And I think I agree. Well, maybe not business as usual, but partizanship isn't always a bad thing...

In the meantime, Andrew of Non-Trivial Solutions comes on board with a series of very important points:
I, and I'd guess a lot of other young Tories, would be in if you didn't say things like this about us:

'he, like me, is instinctively opposed to them, but finding that even they can't be as bad as NuLab.'

Damning us with faint praise isn't the way to build a coalition. Still, let's write it off to teething problems as we all embrace the brave new world of tripartisan co-operation and understanding. That which unites us is far more important than that which divides us at the moment.
He is, of course, right. I'm couching my language bearing in mind the need to persuade people of the need to vote Tory, and why it's important to do so, to acknowledge they've changed. 6 months ago, to even consider voting Conservative was anathema. The world has changed, Cameron is making a difference, and Blair/Brown/Clarke/Blears et al are doing the rest.

However, an effective tactical voting campaign needs to swing both ways; we'll need to persuade the Left to vote Tory in Tory/Labour marginals, just as we'll need to persuade the Right to vote LibDem (& SNP?) in Labour/LibDem (Labour/SNP) seats. To a lot of people, that's not going to be an easy thing to do.

We have to acknowledge that and address their concerns.

i) Campaigning has to be very tightly focussed on the civil liberties issues we all agree on - ID cards, OTT terrorism legislation, the Civil Contingencies Act, the Leg/Reg Bill, and so on. You'll lose an enormous amount of support if the coalition comes out in favour of a wider liberal agenda, particularly on Law and Order. Us Tories still want to brutalise criminals with lengthy jail terms, punishment beatings and hard labour. Getting New Labour out isn't going to change that.
Agree; love the hyperbole there, but the point is sound, we need to concentrate and emphasise that we all oppose, those issues that we disagree on need to be left open for debate, but it's vitally important we don't allow a campaign to be hijacked.
ii) The coalition needs full time resources. A writer if it becomes a blog, a campaigner if it becomes a portal, and so on. That means:

iii) Money. Lots of it. We need it. Fuck knows how we get it.
Hmm. I think he may be right; if we're going to do this properly, we'll need someone actually concentrating on it full time; I know that my paid employment needs to come first for me. So, ideas? Potential backers? We're talking a civil liberties/basic freedoms campaigning group that runs effective campaignsfor the duration of this Parliament minimum, and probably organises events on the ground at the next election. Moveon.org is funded by members contributions, but the US has a much higher tradition of donations than we do; can we emulate that? Should we? Any other potential big backers?
iv) The coalition needs to be strictly non-partisan, except in its opposition to New Labour. You'll lose a lot of Tories again if you start advocating voting Lib Dem in Tory/Lib marginals, and vice versa. In fact, the coalition shouldn't even discuss that sort of situation. Even where the Tory candidate is a rabid Cornerstone member who wants to hang gays and publicly flog benefits claimants, or where the Lib wants to install revolving doors in prison cells and to legalise and make compulsory the taking of crack by 13 year olds, they'll still vote with the party whip when it comes to civil liberties issues.
Again, agree, and have already said so; I live in a LibDem/Tory marginal, in such seats, the battleground is over the dividing issues; we need to ensure that the campaign itself does not try to get involved in such seats. I would, of course, hope that Cameron can keep such loons minimised, and I've never met a Lib Dem in favour of dealing drugs to kids (responsible adults can make their own minds up...)
v) Learn from the failure of Backing Blair. Being too strident and too paranoid just comes off as being extreme. We need to sound measured and sensible. This will be difficult given that most of us throw phrases like 'police state' around with impunity. Just remember how ridiculous all of those hard lefties in the Eighties sounded when they suggested that Maggie's next move would be to abolish elections to maintain tyrannical power forever. And enjoy the warm glow now that New Lab are suggesting exactly that... See - I'm already guilty of this point. I sound like a lunatic.
I think he's right. As Katherine observes:
And no satire. With all due respect to Backing Blair (which I thought was funny), it ran the huge risk of alienating and/or confusing people who were just clicking through.
I love the backing blair site, and there's no reason we can't link to or even endorse such humerous endeavours, but the campaign itself needs to be straight.
Learn from organisations like the Tax Payers Alliance - non-partisan grass-roots campaigning, and gaining lots of publicity.
Also backed up by Jawbox:
I think Justin's right - this sort of thing is going to require someone who's worked on this kind of project before. We need to get existing web campaigns on various issues - No2ID being the obvious example - to up sticks and join the broad coalition, and at the same time any press or political coverage/support it could attract will be vital.
I think I agree; there are a number of single-issue or even multi issue campaigns that could back us. Some are however bound to be strictly non-partizan and may have problems doing so; we may need to only oppose those candidates who refuse to endorse a simple, agreed upon platform, to which Bishop Hill suggests:
There are two strands we need to cover.

1. Getting Labour out (campaigning methods and tactics)
2. Keeping the next lot in order (Constitutional stuff, what are we after?)

I suggest we start with broad areas of principle and move on to specific issues at a later date. It will be very easy to get bogged down in detail on "social rights" or the right to bear arms.
So, on point one; vote trading has been tried in the past here and in the US, it was anti-Tory when I was last involved, and Nader traders have been at it since for awhile. Not sure on the efficacy, but it's something to consider.

A simple, basic platform? A small unmber of key issues that we want repealed/addressed that point to opinions on wider subjects?

Backed up by a campaign to ensure Parliament is returned to its status as the controller of the Executive, not the other way around?

A rabid reformer like me can combine with a traditionalist and argue for a return to the days when Parliament was supreme and the Executive held to account by it, right?

This post is, of course, part 3 of the ongoing campaign to unite bloggers and others ont he left and right in opposition to the current government that started here.

Nation States: Build your own Blogtopia

Aside, DK got me back playing NationStates.Net, where I'm having fun building my own left-wing utopia. I avoid the forums from the last time I played, but the game itself is silly and not too time consuming, a few clicks per day.

Oh, the book is great as well, near the top of my recommended reading list. If anyone else joins, click 'leave the region' and then come find us in blogtopia.
Yes, I am off work today, had a dentists appointment so took a days leave, am sat at the computer reading blogs and slowly downing a bottle of Bell's finest Scotch...

Edumacated readership - geeky interlude

Just looked at the stats for the day; two of our busiest days yet, this is good. Anyway, one thing impressed me. There's a campaign ongoing to get website authors, etc to acknowledge that there are browsers that aren't installed by Microsoft. There are even sites that celebrate people that manage to get above 50% of their readers using non-IE browsers. Well, since I've been counting, there has only been one day where IE has hit 50%+, that was when the blonde joke got linked to by someone on a fan forum for The Libertines (I mean, of all bands? I felt dirty)...
Perc.Browser NameVersion

I am proud of you all...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Coalition: feedback and where next?

Well, that's stage one complete, get peoples attention. Thanks to all the links people.

Now, stage two. Um, right. OK, ideas and suggestions received.
  1. Bishop Hill suggested and John has expanded on the idea of a moveon.org style website linking the liberal left and libertarian right together. I like the idea, but not got the time (nor the resources for a domain name/hosting right now). Any suggestions for names and/or volunteers to set up/run/pay for?
  2. Bondwoman wonders if the internet can help us facilitate changes and alliances such as this more easily; would we have been rid of Major earlier if we'd had blogs?
  3. D-notice observes that Labour voters don't always go towards parties we want to get support. A lost vote for NuLab is a lost vote, but, um, still not sure I like where they're going.
  4. Doctorvee talks about the need to defeat Labour as well, and observes the electoral system is completely against us; he's right on the latter part, I'm not as convinced as him that all Labour MPs are evil...
  5. Garry the Curious Hamster is wondering if he could stomach voting Tory; he, like me, is instinctively opposed to them, but finding that even they can't be as bad as NuLab. He's glad he lives in a seat where it's a straight LibDem/Labour fight; similarly, I'm glad I live in a LibDem/Tory marginal. But given I plan to move within the next few years, I may have to bite the bullet
  6. Quarsan at Blairwatch urges us to vote any way that isn't Labour; on this, I disagree, we have to plan a tactical vote campaign and make sure it's well publicised, splitting the anti-Labour vote will give them more seats than they deserve
  7. Unity reveals we have similar taste in music, and then goes on to discuss the need to change the system completely; I agree, but in order to do that, we need a govt that will genuinely reform the system. That, to me, means as many LibDems as possible, and to persuade the Tories that they really need to acknowledge the need to reform things.
  8. And, finally, Bishop Hill asks "is anyone listening to the blogs?"
Well, are they?

More to the point, will they?

The next step is two-fold

  1. build a platform for us to meet and discuss strategy and promote candidates, a freedom blog central. That, someone else needs to do, but it's definately something I like the look of.
  2. Study local election numbers; what sort of seat are you in, what party/candidate needs our support, what elections between now and 2009 can be used to build the momentum?

Other ideas/suggestions welcome. Essentially, we all need to get involved. Also, the Political Weblog Project. If your MP is on Our Side, we need to get them blogging and joining the debate. If they're not, we need to get the opposing candidates up and running. This does, of course, mean talking to politicians. Trust me, at times, I've called a few friends. They're not all bad. Honest.

Follow up post here.

Europhobia: A bit of over-the-top historical/constitutional pedantry

The handy thing is, as there's no accepted definition of terrorism, it would be entirely possible to argue (and a number of historians have) that the Glorious Revolution was a terrorist act. And please note the name. That's right, "Glorious" - glorifying terror if ever I saw it.
Sounds reasonable to me. It's not the first time we've discussed 1688 around here either.
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Huhne: talking my language

Anyone would think Chris Huhne had been reading this blog:
The new divide in British politics is between "civil liberties" and "authoritarianism", Chris Huhne, a Liberal Democrat leadership contender, said last night. Mr Huhne attacked Tony Blair for being "illiberal", and the Tories for being unreliable defenders of liberty.
I know, it's not just me saying these things, but it's definately the sort of thing I want to hear from a candidate and potential Prime Minister.

For the record, I issued the challenge and never updated; I didn't join the LibDems within the deadline, but I strongly suspect I will before too long. The reason I didn't was purely personal and financial. It may only be 6 quid, but when you're at the edge of the overdraft and the credit card is maxed out, 6 quid is a lot.

However, I do know who I want to see as Lib Dem leader, and more specifically, who I don't. Huhne, despite his public school/journalism background, wins. Hands down. He's a great writer, and more importantly, he takes the importance of policy and ideas seriously. I hope he does well, and I'd love to see him win. More. I'd love to see him in Number 10. He's genuine, he believes in freedoms and liberties.

Failing that, I suspect Ming Campbell will take the spot. At first, I was opposed, too old, too Scottish, too patrician. He's turned me around on that one, he can speak well, he can put the case, and I think he genuinely believes in what he says. He may be another two Jags, but they're a hobby, he's not likely to use one to drive a few hundred metres down the promenade bacause his wife's new hairdo may get blown about a bit.

Simon? The furore over his 'outing' didn't change my views. The way he handled it (badly) didn't change my views. I like the guy. He's honest (he Did Not Lie, if you believe he did, look up the meaning of bisexual and compare it to homosexual/gay), but, essentially, he's an activists candidate, a doorstepper. All parties need them, and he's one of the best. But as leader? No. Nice bloke, but not Prime Minister material. If the Lid Dems are serious, they need someone you can see on the steps of Number 10.

That's not Simon Hughes.

So, I hope Huhne wins. If not, Campbell is pretty much a shoe in from what I can see. If Hughes wins, the party will continue, and continue to pick up Labour defectors, etc. But he's not the leader to make the breakthrough the LibDems need. And, as the only solidly liberal/libertarian party, the country needs the Lib Dems to be strong, Huhne's right:
He also attacked the Conservatives as "fair-weather friends" of British liberty and said as party leader he would step up the campaign to defend liberty. "If we, as Liberal Democrats, did not speak up for civil liberties," he asked, "who would?"

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