Friday, March 31, 2006

Coppell to stay - for a year at least

Looks like Coppell is going to sign a new contract - but still only for a year at a time.

This seems to be his preferred method of operating although I am sure he will have been offered a longer contract. Quite refreshing really.

Tag Football Reading

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Thailand - problems continue

The elections are on Sunday and then it looks as if we will be in uncharted waters.

The opposition boycott means that the elections could be declared unconstitutional so what happens then I don't know. The Peoples Alliance for Democracy has already asked the Election Commission to disqualify the Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra from Sunday's election.

I have attempted to read the parts of the constitution to see what might happen but I can't work it out. Research on the internet so far has not turned up the answer. Some of the opposition seem to be suggesting that the King should intervene under section 7 which as far as I can tell says if it isn't covered by the constitution then the King decides. They want the King to appoint an interim Prime Minister who would oversee some democratic reforms before a further general election.

Meanwhile the demonstrations continue and it looks as if significant numbers may still be on the streets come Sunday although the report indicates that the numbers supporting the idea that the Prime Minister should resign appear to be falling.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Update - Blair wants a revolution

Quick update to my previous piece on emission targets, renewable energy etc etc

Tony Blair says that he wants a technological revolution to slow global warming

Brilliant! Great! Fantastic!

Piece of news for you Mr Blair....

Number 1 "pushing for an international framework" doesn't count as revolutionary in my book.

Number 2 you are the leader of the government (I know this seems in doubt at times) and if you want these things to happen then start to think more radically about what needs to be done, lead from the front and make some really substantive changes.

Tags Politics Environment

Emission Targets and Renewable Energy

Various things got me thinking about this one having posted about the pathetic attempt to improve things contained in last weeks budget.

So the government admits that we will not make the 2010 target at the current rate of progress.

The budget adds a few tweaks but clearly more needs to be done.

Meanwhile in Mondays Guardian there was a report that Britain's wind energy is set to exceed expectations with 50% more wind farms powering British homes and industry by 2010 than predicted four years ago.,,1740698,00.html

So if exceeeding expectations won't do it then we clearly need to do more

There was a positive report in the Sunday Observer about Planning policy statement 22 which gives local authorities the right to insist that new housing schemes get 10 percent of their energy from renewables.

According to the article the first authority to integrate PPS 22 into its policies is Surrey County Council.

I know I would like to see it compulsory in all new houses nationwide but this looks as if it might at least be a start.

I do not know how many local authorities have done this or are in the process of doing so but perhaps we should all start checking this out. I know I shall and then if it has not be done I will be asking some questions.

Tags Environment Politics

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Rags To Riches

Great article about Readings rise to the Premiership (see link)

Although not a Reading fan I have been watching them for the last 11 years with my son and for about the last 9 years we have had season tickets. Despite being a Leeds fan I had a lot of affection for Elm Park. We used to sit in the old North Stand for most games as the smell of deep heat wafted up from the changing rooms underneath. We had the occasional foray into the South Bank for a cup game or two and the atmosphere was brilliant. They don't make grounds like that anymore and hence the inevitable move to The Madejski Stadium - Its called progress.

Over the years I have watched some truly awful football - a 6-0 defeat at home to Bristol Rovers, an away defeat to Wrexham 3-0 on the opening day of the 98/99 season and a 5-3 defeat away to Wycombe in the following season all spring to mind. Tommy Burns famously signed 7 players on transfer deadline day and most of them were overpaid and underskilled. Some players have left a lot to be desired. Brayson who could not hit a barn door at point blank range. Mass Sarr promised so much and faded away. Martin Williams who could have his moments but who was one of the laziest players I have ever seen so much so that at one game a wit called out "Come on Martin run round a bit - try and keep warm".

By comparison this season has been a revelation and a joy as Reading have rampaged through the divison seemingly crushing teams at will and for fun as wave after wave of Reading attacks batters opposition defences. And all credit to John Madejski who has stood by Reading through thick and thin and put his money where his mouth is.

Interestingly the article does not mention that next season the Premierships newest club will also be its oldest club.. oh and the fact that about 4.50pm on Saturday Steve Coppell was finally seen smiling!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Government of National Unity rejected by opposition

Thai opposition parties have rejected the prime minister's offer to include them in a new government if he is re-elected in the elections on 2nd April. The unrest continues and I fear for were this all going to lead. We are in the process of researching flights and prices for a trip to Thailand early next year but I am beginning to wonder whether or not we should delay. I am sure we won't because we know what a lovely country it is and how lovely the people are.

However, the Foreign Office advice now includes the following section :

There have been a number of political demonstrations in early 2006, in both Bangkok and provincial towns. Opponents of the Prime Minister held major demonstrations in Bangkok on 13 and 14 March 2006. These passed off peacefully. However, a further large demonstration by opposition supporters is planned for
Saturday 25 March 2006 at Makawan Bridge near the Ministry of Education building. You should avoid large crowds and public gatherings, as there is a risk of public disorder.

I can imagine others who might be considering a holiday in Thailand will be starting to look elsewhere. If this damaging dispute continues then I fear for the impact on the tourist industry in Thailand and the effect on those who rely on it to earn a living.

Is the taxpayer down £6.5m a year? I hope not.

This article in the Sunday Times (see link) caught my eye. It talks about government ministers but the implication is that MP's are quite easily able to overstate their true housing expenses by about £10,000 per year. I hope that this practice is not widespread but if it were to be then the taxpayer is down to the tune of approximately £6.5m a year

Tag Politics

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Thai Crisis continues

As Thailand heads towards elections on 2nd April the crisis continues unabated as opponents continue to call for the resignation of the Prime Minister. It looks increasingly as if their boycott of the election will lead to further trouble post 2nd April and an unwillingness to accept the result

Saturday, March 25, 2006

If you have an excellent starter it doesn't guarantee the rest of the meal will be as good

Steve Coppell is quoted as saying "We did have a great start to the season, but when you go to a restaurant and have an excellent starter it doesn't guarantee the rest of the meal will be good"

Well the starter was excellent

so was the main course

and the pudding

the coffee is being drunk and we just want to know how good the wafer thin mint is!

By 5pm Reading fans may know. Those of us who are a little further down the league may have to wait a little longer.

Tags Football Reading

Permutations for Reading to get promoted and/or win the title

The permutations in full (with credit to the Reading FC official site)

If Reading win then Watford and Leeds cannot catch them and they will be promoted.

If Reading win and Sheffield United lose then Reading will be champions.

If Reading win and Sheffield United draw then Reading would be 18 points clear with only 18 more available. Reading would also have a goal difference of at least 33 better than the Blades, but even so would not be mathematically champions.

If Watford win, Reading have to win in order to go up. A draw for Reading would not be enough.

If Reading draw, they need Watford and either Leeds or Sheffield United to drop points. This is because Leeds face Sheffield United later in the season, so they could not both win all their remaining games.

Reading cannot draw and take the title.

If Reading lose, they require Watford to lose and in addition Sheffield United must lose or Leeds draw or lose.

Everyone got that clear? Good. You will be tested later! and just so long as Leeds win

Tag Football

Friday, March 24, 2006

Gordon Brown's Budget in 50 words or less.

Saw this wonderful piece on the BBC website (see link). Budget One Won but I think I would have voted for Budget Nine if I had seen it in time - Just to keep up my track record of not voting for winners!

Tag Politics

Convey plays full 90 minutes for USA

American readers might be interested to note that Reading winger Bobby Convey played the full 90 minutes for the USA in a 4-1 defeat in Germany on Wednesday night, but Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann was an unused substitute.

Convey lined up in his normal left wing role, and put in a very solid performance that included one impressive 40-yard run past a number of players which apparently prompted Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler to say, "That's what Reading will be taking to the Premiership next season!"

So he has decided they are up whatever Mr Coppell may say.

Tags Reading Football

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A start but not enough

The budget had some interesting ideas but did not go far enough on environmental issues as far as I am concerned.

£20m on promoting and incentivising the greater use of low-energy light bulbs, better insulation and improved central heating and an extra 250,000 subsidised home insulation packages over the next two years. Ok I guess but more could be done in this area surely. And the sooner these issues are tackled the greater the benefits which will be reaped.

£50m was added to the government's Low Carbon Buildings programme to help fund a small number of micro-generation projects such as solar heating, heat capture and small wind turbines. Again ok as far as it goes but at some point the UK government is going to have to think much bigger. How about setting a deadline (3 years say) after which all new properties will have have Solar Energy built in at the time of construction?

Tags Politics Environment

Flip Flop - as Mr Brown would say

So now we know where the Tories stand on freedom of speech. They originally opposed the "glorification" offence (presumably on principle) but have now decided to abstain. The glorification offence stands thanks to the failure of the Tories to stand by their principles and support the amendment proposed by Lib Dem Peer Lord Goodhart.

Lord Goodhart was quoted back in January (when the Lords threw this offence out of the Bill) as saying “It seems to me that the glorification of terrorism, having that in the Act, is at best useless and at worst could cause serious problems.”

I concur with that view and look forward to the prospect of Cherie Blair appearing in court on such charges should she repeat some of her previous remarks!

Tag Politics

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Confused as Ingimarsson calls for final Focus

Had me worried for a minute (see link). Seemed a bit early to be putting out the last Focus with polling day due on 4th May. Even the Pangbourne by-election is not until 20th April.

Tag Football Reading

The cost of the war in Iraq

I found this link on another site and the figure just gob smacked me

I have added the counter on my left hand sidebar between the blogexplosion links and sitemeter

At the time of writing the cost is running at over $249 bn. It is worth noting that this is only the cost to the US taxpayers. Further amounts would need to be added to this total for other members of the coalition.

Does anyone know what the comparable UK figures might be?

Tag Politics

Ferrets in a sack

The Labour party that is. Dromey accuses Blair, Clarke accuses Dromey, Beecham accuses Clarke. Whos next? Ah yes the small matter of a police investigation!,,1736488,00.html

Please feel free to carry on!

Tag Politics

A long 39 Days

It is going to be a long 39 days until the end of the season if last nights performance by Leeds is anything to go by. Judging by the report and the comments on Sky last night it was a mixed game. Leeds had plenty of the ball and battered Palace with route one stuff. But it sounds as if Palace exhibited more skill on the break.

Matters are no longer in Leeds hands. As an expert at clutching at straws one can only hope that Sheffield United continue to falter and that Watford start to feel some of the pressure of being in pole position to take over 2nd spot. Being honest though on current form Watford look to be the favourites.

Why is it that the results of the team you support have such a postive or negative affect on how you feel?

Tag Football Leeds

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Help - How do you create topics and a topic index

Does anyone know how to create topics and a topic index and then code each post with the topics it is related to? The idea is that I could have a list of topics (or codes or tags) such as Politics, Lib Dems, Football, Bikes etc etc and then code each post with the appropriate topic codes. There would then be a list of topics in the sidebar and people can click on the relevant topic to see posts related to that area. I am not sure if topics is the correct term but if anyone can point me in the right direction I would be most grateful.

Crunch time tonight

Watford took 3 points last night with a well deserved (at least from the bits I saw) win over Southampton. Leeds take on Crystal palace tonight and cannot afford to lose if they want matters to remain in their own hands. A win would be ideal and would leave them just one point behind Sheffield United a position that would have been unthinkable a couple of months ago. A draw would be ok given that they still have to play Sheffield United. If they lose then they require others to slip up and on recent performances it rather looks as if Watford might provide the main challenge to Leeds for that vital 2nd spot.

Tag Football Leeds

Monday, March 20, 2006

Swords into Ploughshares - Greenham Common

This is a copy of the article which appeared in Liberator describing the transformation of Greenham Common from a military airbase back into a common

Swords into Ploughshares

In 1992 the Ministry of Defence declared Greenham Common Airbase surplus to military requirements. Tony Ferguson describes how the local Liberal Democrats have involved the community and returned the commons to public access

On 8th April 2000 the fences finally came down and the public were at last able to roam freely over Greenham and Crookham Commons which made up much of the former Greenham Common airbase. What seemed like an impossible dream some eight years ago has finally been realised.

The airbase which was so notorious in the 1980’s for Cruise Missiles and Peace Protests was originally declared surplus to military requirements back in 1992. Liberal Democrat run Newbury District Council urged the Ministry of Defence to restore public access to the commons and to sell the land back to the Council.

However, it rapidly became clear that the Treasury were only interested in maximising the capital receipt from the site and had no desire to meet the wishes of local people.

Following a meeting with Hampshire Councillors to discuss their experiences at Blackbushe Airport it became apparent that the Council needed to be far more proactive if the once in a lifetime opportunity to create a better environment for the community was not to be missed.

The council established two clear objectives. Firstly to ensure that the community had a say in and a degree of control over the future activities which would be allowed to occur at Greenham Common. Secondly to be the successful bidder and to return overall control of the site to the local community.

The council talked to a wide range of bodies and individuals with a view both to finding a way of purchasing the airbase from the Ministry of Defence and to drawing up a planning brief to ensure that future development could be controlled even if the site was purchased by someone else

The council drew up a draft planning brief and consulted widely before adopting the brief as policy in 1994. The brief said that the developed area which had housed the barracks and the technical buildings could be used and redeveloped for employment generating purposes. The vast majority of the open area where the runways were was to be preserved as grazing heathland. The site was to be remediated with the runway being removed and all the fuel tanks and lines being taken out.

Meanwhile the Council pursued its links with the local business community and as a result of this the Greenham Common Trust was formed. In 1997 the Greenham Common Trust acquired the airbase from the MOD for £7m and the vast majority of the open space was transferred to the Council. The acquisition was funded by the banks, the Council and by the MOD accepting stage payments.

The Greenham Common Trust runs the developed area as a business park with old buildings let to commercial tenants. In addition the Trust and the Council put forward a bid to KONVER for European funding towards an Enterprise Centre. This resulted in the award of some £800,000 of European money and the Enterprise centre was formally opened earlier in 1999 and is already nearly full.

The profits from the Trust are used in several ways.

Firstly the costs of acquiring the airbase need to be met with loans from the bank and the council to be paid off and stage payments to be made to the MOD.

Secondly, the Trust has been contributing to the costs of restoring the open area with some £750,000 due to be handed over to the Council to pay for this.

Thirdly the Trust needs to reinvest in the Business Park and in particular the infrastructure which will be required in the long term especially roundabouts on the A339 and the internal road network within the park.

Finally the residual profits are handed over to a Distribution Committee which acts like a local lottery board. Local organisations can make applications for grants and the committee decides how the available funds should be used. In the first three years alone some £125,000 has been generated for local good causes. However, this sum will pale into insignificance once the debts have been paid off and the infrastructure has been put into place on the business park.

In parallel with the business park acquisition the Council has been
restoring the open area. Over 1m tonnes of crushed concrete have been removed from the site. All the underground fuel tanks have been removed and the pollution around the sites of these tanks has been remediated.

One small part of the airbase at the western end was reopened to public
access in September 1997 to reaffirm our commitment to returning the open area to public access. The remainder of the airbase was finally reopened to the public on 8th April 2000.

Finally the Council is currently in the process of promoting an Act of Parliament (Greenham & Crookham Commons Bill) to protect the open area in perpetuity.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Jethro Tull in Oxford

Just back from watching Jethro Tull perform in Oxford having been dragged along by my wife who is a great fan of them. I had never listened to much of their stuff and found them to be an interesting mix of classical, folk and rock. My wife was a little disappointed with the singing but the real star of the show for me was the classical violinist Lucia Micarelli who was on stage with Jethro Tull for most of the show.

Purchased her CD "Music from a farther room" and listened to it on the way back.

Brilliant stuff for more info see

Tag Music

Saturday, March 18, 2006

3 points more!

That is all that Reading now need to ensure promotion to the Premiership following a hard fought draw against Wolves which they were perhaps a little bit unlucky not to win. Meanwhile Sheffield United continue to come apart at the seams as they went down to a 2-1 defeat at Norwich. Congratulations and thanks to my Norwich supporting readers. Leeds struggled to get a draw at Coventry but are now 4 points behind Sheffield United with a game in hand and still to play them again. The games between Southampton and Watford on Monday and Leeds and Crystal Palace on Tuesday will be critical. Reading are now on 91 points and need 94 points to ensure promotion and 97 to ensure the Cahmpionship title.

Tags Football Reading Leeds

Awakening To Yourself

Found this elsewhere and thought it was worth posting

Makes you think.

A time comes in your life when you finally get it - when in the midst of all your fears and insanity you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice in side your head cries out - ENOUGH!Enough fighting and crying or struggling to hold on. And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and through a mantle of wet lashes, you begin to look at the world through new eyes. This is your awakening.I am sure that each one reading this can relate in some way and perhaps awaken or become a bit more enlightened.You realize it's time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that he or she is not Prince or Princess Charming and you are not Cinderella or Cinderfella, and in the real world there aren't always fairy tale endings (or beginnings for that matter). Any guarantee of "happily ever after" must begin with you and in the process, a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.

You awaken to the fact you are not perfect and not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are - and that's okay. Everyone is entitled to their own views and opinions.

You learn the importance of living and championing yourself and in the process a sense of new found confidence is born of self approval. You stop criticizing and blaming other people for the things they did to you, or didn't do for you, and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected.

You learn people don't always say what they mean or mean what they say and not everyone will always be there for you, and that it's not always about you. So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself and in the process, a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance. You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are, and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties, and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness.

You realize that much of the way you view yourself, and the world around you, is as a result of all the messages and opinions that have been ingrained into your psyche. You begin to sift through all the beliefs you've been fed about how you should behave, how you should look, how much you should weigh, what you should wear, where you should shop, what you should drive, how and where you should live, what you should do for a living, who you should sleep with, who you should marry, what you should expect of a marriage, the importance of having and raising children or what you owe your parents.

You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. You begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for. You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you've outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with, and in the process you learn to trust your own knowing.
You learn it is truly in giving that we receive, that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a "consumer" looking for your next fix. You learn principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a bygone era but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life. You learn you don't know everything, it's not your job to save the world and you can't teach a pig to sing. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO.

You learn the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake. Then you learn about love, romantic love and familial love. You learn how to love, how much to give in love, whento stop giving and when to walk away. You learn you will not be, more beautiful, more intelligent, more lovable or important because of the man or woman on your arm or the child that bears your name. You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn just as people grow and change so it is with love -- and you learn you don't have the right to demand love on your terms -- just to make you happy.

You learn that alone does not mean lonely -- and you look in the mirror and come to terms with the fact you will never be a size 3 or a perfect 10 and you stop trying to compete with the image inside your head and agonizing over how you "stack up." You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs. You learn feelings of entitlement are perfectly okay and that it is your right to want things and to ask for the things that you want and that sometimes it is necessary to make demands.

You come to the realization that you deserve to be treated with love, kindness, sensitivity and respect and you won't settle for less. You allow only the hands of a lover who cherishes you to glorify you with his or her touch and in the process, you internalize the meaning of self-respect.
You learn your body really is your temple. You begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin eating a balanced diet, drinking more water and taking more time to exercise. You learn fatigue diminishes the spirit and can create doubt and fear so you take more time to rest. And, just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul, so you take more time to laugh and to play. You learn, that for the most part in life, you get what you believe you deserve - and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You learn anything worth achieving is worth working for and wishing for something to happen is different from working toward making it happen. More importantly, you learn in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You also learn no one can do it all alone and that it's okay to risk asking for help. You learn the only thing you must truly fear is the great robber baron of all time, FEAR itself.

You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your terms. You learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom. You learn life isn't always fair, you don't always get what you think you deserve, and sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people. On these occasions you learn not to personalize things. You learn no one is punishing you or failing to answer your prayers. It is just life happening. You learn or deal with evil in its most primal state -- the ego. You learn negative feelings such as anger, envy, resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you. You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls. You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about_: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower.Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself and to make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never, ever settle for less than your heart's desire.

You hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind and you make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility. Finally, with courage in your heart and with faith by your side, you take a stand, you take a deep breath and you begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.

- Author Unknown

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Thailand - the rural / urban divide continues

This saga continues as the based rural supporters of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra march into Bangkok.

At least 10,000 of Mr Thaksin's supporters, mainly poor farmers, have spent
more than two weeks travelling down from the countryside in the north and
north-east, which forms the prime minister's main support base.

Tag Thailand

The Greenham & Crookham Commons Commission - 3 years on

The Commission was established by Act of Parliament in 2002 and commenced work on 4th March 2004. The Commission consists of 10 Commissioners appointed by various bodies such as the local Councils, English Nature and the Open Spaces Society and 10 Commissioners elected by the commoners.

At its first meeting I was lucky enough to be elected Chairman and I think it is fair to say over the last three years the Commission has achieved a lot.

  • There is increased public awareness of the Greenham and Crookham Commons Act.
  • The detailed Management Plan is well underway and a completed draft should be ready by winter 2006.
  • A Grazing Committee has been set up to manage grazing on the Common.
  • Grazing Regulations have been written, consulted on, approved by the Commission and are awaiting confirmation by the Secretary of State.
  • Access regulations have been drafted and consultation is underway.
  • Increased recreational use of the Common.
  • The re-landscaped area is being actively managed under the Act and improving as a conservation habitat.
  • Ongoing conservation grazing by Commoners cattle and ponies.
  • There is a very active and growing Greenham Conservation Volunteer group (see link
  • Greater public say in how the Common is managed.
  • Recognition of the Commission in the Planning Process (indeed last night we agreed to set up a sub committee specifically to deal with planning issues which affect the common).

The appointed Commissioners are reappointed annually. The elected commissioners face an election every three years and their term of office is now up.

The election process will now commence and by the beginning of July we will have a new set of commissioners.

This all seems a long way from 1992 when the Ministry of Defence declared Greenham Common Airbase surplus to military requirements. I wrote an article for Liberator some time ago about “swords into ploughshares” about the battle to return the commons to the public.

If anyone is interested I may reproduce it on this blog.

Meanwhile if you want to know some more about the background go here

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Thai elections may not happen

This saga continues to unfold. Thaksin Shinawatra now seems to be denying suggestions that he was about to step aside. Meanwhile Thailand's election commission chairman has cast doubt on whether the election which was due to take place on the 2nd April can go ahead as the planned boycott by opposition parties may mean not enough MPs would be returned in the election. The article also goes on to confirm the divide between rural and urban areas. As readers of this blog will have deduced I am not a Monarchist by nature but I really hope that Thai politicians listen to the appeal from King Bhumibol's advisor for all parties to work together to solve this crisis.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Thai Prime Minister considers his options

The saga continues although it is no clearer from this report what he is actually intending to do.

There was one section which amused me

The demonstrators are angry at the $1.9bn sale of his family firm Shin Corp, accusing him of tax dodges and betraying the nation by selling an important national asset to Singaporean investors.

Particularly interesting given that whilst we were in Thailand in January one of the big stories was the continued failure of Thai Beverages (the maker of the top-selling Chang beer) to obtain a listing on the Thai Stock Exchange and its ultimate listing in January on the Singapore Stock Exchange.

Confirmation that the Cameron honeymoon is over

Labour have overtaken the Tories in the polls and even better we have maintained our share at 21% proving that the dip in January was just temporary. I am not sure when the poll was done because then go on to say that the Lib Dems would drop to 19% under Sir Menzies Campbell! - I guess we will have to wait until next month to see the validity of that one. On a more positive note Sir Menzies got a +19 satisfaction rating

Tag Politics

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Trouble brewing in Thailand

Trouble seems to be brewing in Thailand – a country which I have great affection for and which we visited in January. Even then there were signs that trouble lay ahead as protesters besieged government house in January. The Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is not popular in the urban areas but appears to be much more popular in the rural areas where the majority of the population live hence his gamble in calling an early election.


The most worrying aspects of the latest reports are the suggestions that Thaksin Shinawatra may declare a state of emergency if the protests continue and the statement from the opposition that they intend to boycott the election on 2nd April. I fear that after the 2nd April life in Thailand may become much more difficult If as I expect Thaksin Shinawatra wins and the opposition refuse to accept the result.

Committee of MPs to consider Trident replacement

According to the radio this morning a Committee of MPs is to start considering the question of a replacement for Trident today.

Good. Late but good.

First three questions.

1. When did we first start developing a replacement for Trident?

2. How far have we got with this development?

3. How much have we spent so far and how much further expenditure is already committed?

And I assume that when these hearings commence they will consider the issue of whether or not we need or should have a replacement at all. Consideration of what Trident should be replaced with should await a decision that we should replace it.

Tag Politics

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Serbian government and the Milosevic funeral

Just seen this on Sky News. It appears that the Serbian authorities may be preparing themselves to suspend the law and guarantee Mira Markovic temporary immunity from arrest or charges if she returns for the funeral of Slobodan Milosevic.

It also appears that this may be because Milosevic's party are currently propping up the government and are effectively in a position to hold them to ransom. I hope that this does not go ahead.

If you choose not to face justice and go on the run then so be it. But be prepared to pay the price. Stay away or return and be arrested.

See also this link

RSS Feed?

Does anyone know how to add an RSS feed to a template in blogger. I was hoping to add the Liberal Democrats National news feed to my page but I cannot see how I do it.

When I click on the RSS feed link on this page it comes up with a lot of code most of which seems to be sections which relate to the current news items on the page. Do I chop out most of this and if so which bits do I need? Any help most gratefully received.

You could not make this up if you tried

So Sir Ian Blair thinks it is ok to tape his telephone conversations without informing the other party. The best bit of this little gem was that according to the media the call was about the admissibility of telephone tap evidence in British courts.

I am unclear as to whether or not he has broken any laws. The article in the Times implies there may be Data Protection implications and I always thought that you had to notify the other party if you intend to record their call hence the long winded gibberish at the beginning of some calls to banks, insurance companies etc. However, according to the radio this morning this may not be the case.

Whatever the outcome of the technical legal points being made I think Ian Blair has made a serious misjudgement in believing that it was ok to tape/tap the phone calls which he made.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Parliament neutered again

This article in today's Sunday Times is yet another example of this governments breathtaking arrogance in ignoring and sidelining parliaments proper role in the decision making process for such important matters.

We were promised a proper debate about the replacement (or otherwise) for the Trident weapons system. This debate should take place in the open and parliament should have the final say on whether or not we want a replacement and if so what form that should take, when it should be developed by and what budget should be allocated to it.

What a sham when we now discover that work has already commenced on developing a new system at AWE Aldermaston. All work on a replacement system (as opposed to maintenance of the existing system) should come to an immediate halt pending a proper parliamentary decision.

Tag Politics

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Race for 2nd hots up

Blunts slipped up and dropped three points at Coventry but sadly Leeds failed to take full advantage only managing a point at home to Norwich. I know at least one reader of this blog will be pleased with the Canaries point but quite how Andy Hughes managed to score a goal is beyond me. He is a hard worker alright but lets say that his crossing and shooting ability are not the best. Most Reading fans were delighted that Norwich were prepared to spend £500,000 on him last summer and thought Reading had robbed Norwich. For Leeds the race for the second automatic promotion spot is now actually in their own hands. All they have to is win their last nine games!! Meanwhile Reading extended their lead at the top to 15 points in a hard fought 0-0 draw with Watford. Reading had the better of the chances overall but clearly missed Glen Little on the right wing.

Tag Leeds Football Reading

Friday, March 10, 2006

No English Parliament

So says the Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer. Hmm well I don't feel too strongly one way or another about whether or not we get an english parliament. However, if we are not to get an english parliament then we clearly need to address the current situation where issues which only affect England are voted upon by politicians from Scotland. Simon Hughes comments were spot on as far as I am concerned and I hope that we will continue to address this issue.

Tag Politics

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Remember Charles I

This government is unbelievable. Identity cards, curbs on freedom of expression, people detained without trial, illegal wars, rendition flights, the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill and now this suggestion that Members of Parliament should have an arbitrary limit placed on the number of questions they should ask. Parliament is becoming more and more neutered. If we carry on like this there will soon be little point in our elected representatives turning up at all. Four centuries ago their predecessors took a stand against the power of the monarchy. The time has come for present day Members of Parliament to make a similar stand against the growing powers of the executive before it is too late.

Tag Politics

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

More confusion

First of all the poor guy can't tell whether $600,000 which comes his way is a gift or income. Now he is confused as to whether or not he owned shares in a pub chain. It strikes me that for someone who has been described as an "international lawyer" he might have a problem organising the proverbial piss up in a brewery.

Despite Jowells split from her husband I still feel that this will follow the path of other similar scandals in the past particularly as more and more allegations drip out.

Tag Politics

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Where to get the Orange Book?

Given the amount of hot air over the orange bookers over the last couple of months - and the varying opinions I thought it might be a good idea to obtain a copy of The Orange Book and have a read so that I can form my own opinions.

Is The Orange Book a disaster for Liberalism or is it the way forward or somewhere in between? It looks likely that I shall never know as I cannot find a copy. I have tried the Lib Dem Bookshop, Politicos, Amazon and Ebay so far without any joy. Does anyone know where I might be able to buy a copy?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Is there a missing principle?

I saw parts of Ming's speech yesterday and was particluarly interested in the part about tax policy. I wondered at the time about the 50p rate and whether or not Ming wants to drop it. I concluded that he did but only because of the three principles which he outlined as follows :

First, the tax burden must be lighter for those on lowest incomes.
Second, the tax system must provide incentives to companies and individuals to behave in a way that sustains our environment.
Third, the system must be simple – it must support enterprise and must not stifle it.

To this I would add a fourth " The tax burden should be heavier for those on the highest incomes" To me it is important to be up front about this if we genuinely believe that those who earn the largest amounts in society can and should contribute a little more to the overall tax take.

I would not take exception to dropping the 50p tax rate so long as we retain a method of ensuring that those who can afford a little more pay a little more. There are other ways that such a principle could be implemented as was outlined by Chris Huhne during his campaign where he suggested that we could limit the tax relief on pension contributions for higher earners.

Tag Lib Dems Politics

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Redesign launched - comments welcome

I have redesigned my blog. Please feel free to have a look and all comments positive and negative would be most welcome. I know nothing about templates but found some information about a three column layout and customised it from there. So I am slowly learning about html and tags and colour codes etc. Anyway suggestions to improve this version would be most welcome

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The race for the second automatic promotion spot hots up

Sheffield are getting the jitters certainly judging by last nights performance against bottom side Crewe. Watford managed to squeak a point from their home fixture with Derby drawing 2-2. Meanwhile the mighty Leeds negotiated a tricky fixture away to Crystal Palace coming away with all three points following a 2-1 win.

Sheffield United are still in 2nd place on 75 points but Leeds have closed the gap to 6 points and they still have a game in hand.

Meanwhile Reading march on towards the promised land despatching Burnley 3-0 and with a 14 point lead over 2nd and 20 points over third.

Tag Leeds Football Reading

We do not need another centre right party in British politics

And even if we do then the Liberal Democrats should not be it!

Why are we considering privatising the Post Office so that we can invest in it. This sounds like shades of railway privatisation. Yes of course we want to support the Post Office network and it is vital for local communities that they are retained. Indeed we should be finding ways of reopening some of those that have already closed but not this way. I can think of a number of other ways of paying for this or indeed legislating for it.

Then we start on single parents. We should be standing up for the poorest and most disadvantaged in society.

Just a final aside I wonder if anyone who thinks Sarah Teather should be promoted watched Question Time on Thursday? Nuff said

Tag Politics Lib Dems

Friday, March 03, 2006

Move to the right? I hope not

If this story has any truth to it then I guess I voted correctly. Innovation by all means but the last thing that British politics needs is another Centre Right party

Tag Lib Dems

Thursday, March 02, 2006

So Sir Menzies Campbell wins it and waves goodbye to the Jag

I guess this was not a huge surprise given that Campbell was probably the best known to the general public and therefore would be the best known to those members who are not that active and who did not attend the hustings etc.

Lets hope that the whole parliamentary party will now unite behind our new leader and that when Sir Menzies Campbell announces his new Shadow Cabinet we see a genuine attempt to make use of all the talents regardless of whom they supported during the leadership campaign.

On a personal note the only positive was that I managed to turn a potential loss of £25 into a win of £8.92 on Betfair at the last minute

Tag Lib Dems

MPs who never declared for one of the three candidates

I have checked the list of supporters for each of the three candidates and as far as I can see 56 MPs including the candidates declared their support for one of the three candidates.

That leaves 7 who have not declared

Charles Kennedy (who said as the former leader he would keep out of the contest)
Lembit Opik (who appears to be a Hughes supporter but will not say so)
Willie Rennie
Mark Oaten
Alan Beith
David Heath
Andrew Stunnell

Anyone have any ideas on who these seven supported - particularly the last five?

Tag Lib Dems

Is this $600,000 earnings for work done or a gift? Oh I don't know -Pull the other one.

This stuff is fairly incredible. Mr Mills is unclear as to whether or not a substantial sum he has received is a gift or earnings!! Indeed so unclear was he that he had to consult his accountant and the Inland Revenue before deciding that $600,000 was actually earnings on which he should pay tax. Interestingly he felt initially that it was a gift.

Either this was a gift in which case I wonder what he might have done to get such a "gift".

or alternatively of course it was not a gift in which case had the $600,000 been declared as a gift tax laws would have been broken.

I guess the public (and the media) will draw their own conclusions from this messy affair but I am sure that this one will run and run until inevitably within the next few weeks Tessa Jowell will go.

Tag Politics

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Is it Cameron or Chameleon

I can't make up my mind. Mind you it looks as if he can't make up his mind and John Prescott was right!

He is a Liberal or so he says - come on you Lib Dems come and join me. Wait a minute if he is a Liberal he should join us.

Oh not to worry. He is New Labour now but without Blair. Delivering good public services is now important and he is the man to do it better than Tony. So maybe he should join New Labour - not Old Labour no never.

Hello whats this he is now a Green as well! Well perhaps he should join them instead.

In fact strangely enough the one thing he appears to be pretending not to be is an old fashioned right wing Conservative.

Tag Politics