Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Six of the Best 465

Mark Pack says the party's federal executive has submitted a mess to conference on one member, one vote. He wants your help to sort it out.

"Somehow or other, the next government is going to have to find us a more effective, more innovative form of government, handing powers out widely to cities and counties, as part of a wider settlement that is far more important than the development of an English parliament at Westminster (another kind of centralisation, it seems to me)." David Boyle on the United Kingdom after the Scottish referendum.

"In 2013, Jersey quietly rose to the top spot of the global rankings of offshore tax shelters, as measured by the Global Financial Centres Index, edging out the Cayman Islands, Monaco, Gibraltar, the British Virgin Islands and Cyprus. Yet because it is so small and tends to shirk publicity, many have never heard of it." Leah McGrath Goodman takes us inside the world's top offshore tax shelter.

Museworth remembers 1989, when Mstislav Rostropovich played Bach among the rubble of the Berlin Wall.

"By the time Caruana won his fifth straight game to open the tournament, destroying Nakamura while playing with black, the commentators were struggling to situate this performance in historical context." Seth Stevenson reports on the Sinquefield Cup, one of the most remarkable chess tournaments ever held.

Flashbak lists the greatest songs ever banned by the BBC.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mike Nesmith as Frank Zappa, Frank Zappa as Mike Nesmith



From episode 57 of The Monkees, which was first broadcast in America in March 1968. The series was a staple of children's television in Britain for a few years after that.

Austerity: Will Labour activists still stick their fingers in their ears?



For those prepared to listen it has always been clear that a Labour government would implement austerity policies too.

During the last general election campaign Alistair Darling conceded that if Labour were re-elected it would its  public spending cuts will be "tougher and deeper" than those implemented by Margaret Thatcher.

And in October 2013 Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and business secretary, vowed to be tougher on benefit claimants than the Tories.

Yet through all this Labour activists have clung to the belief that austerity was all down to the personal wickedness of Conservative and Liberal Democrat ministers and would be reversed as soon as Labour came to power.

Will Ed Balls' speech today finally make them return to the same planet the rest of us live on?

I quote:
People know we are the party of jobs, living standards and fairness for working people. 
But they also need to know that we will balance the books and make the sums add up and that we won’t duck the difficult decisions we will face if they return us to government. 
Working people have had to balance their own books. 
And they are clear that the government needs to balance its books too. 
So Labour will balance the books in the next parliament. 
These will be our tough fiscal rules. We will get the current budget into surplus and the national debt falling as soon as possible in the next parliament. 
Tough fiscal rules that our National Policy Forum endorsed in July, demonstrating that, however difficult, our party can unite in tough times to agree a radical, credible and fully costed programme for government. 
And we will legislate for these tough fiscal rules in the first year after the election and they will be independently monitored by the Office for Budget Responsibility. 
So in our manifesto there will be no proposals for any new spending paid for by additional borrowing. 
No spending commitments without saying where the money is coming from. 
Because we will not make promises we cannot keep and cannot afford.
It ought to, but my money is on their continuing to stick their fingers in their ears and go "la la la".

Wok This Way wins Chinese Takeaway of the Day


Today's winner can be found in High Street, Oakham.

Direct rail service from London Euston to Shrewsbury returns


Welcome news in the Shropshire Star today: the Office of Rail Regulation has given its approval for a direct rail link service between Shrewsbury and London.

There will be two workings each way from Monday to Saturday, and one on Sunday.

The good news for me is that the service will call at Coventry. When I first started going to Shropshire I used sometimes to catch a train from Leicester to Coventry and pick up the Shrewsbury service there.

These days getting from Leicester to Coventry involves a change of trains at Nuneaton, but it will still be well worth it to avoid the experience of changing at Birmingham New Street.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rev comes to Market Bosworth


From the Leicester Mercury:
An unholy row has erupted after a parish priest announced that a ceremony to mark his civil partnership is to be staged at his church. 
A local parishioner has said that the service to celebrate the partnership between the Reverend Dominic McClean and his male partner at St Peter’s Church in Market Bosworth amounts to a “gay wedding”.
Thanks to...

...for giving me an excuse to use one of my photos of St Peter's, Market Bosworth.

The English question and the whale in the bathtub



The West Lothian question should not trouble a Conservative over much. Why overturn a constitutional arrangement that works in the name of abstract principles like ‘fairness’ or ‘justice’? That’s the sort of folly that Liberals and Radicals go in for.

But David Cameron had to act on it and act quickly. Because today large parts of the Conservative Party are hardly Conservative at all. The brighter among them do care about abstract principles, but most are Angry White Men who believe the disappointments of their lives and the failings of British society are the fault of Europe or the Scots or some other group institution or group.

It is from this latter group that most Conservative activists and increasing numbers of their backbench MPs are drawn. Such people believe the Scots already get more than their fair share from the English taxpayer – hence the imperative on Cameron to be seen to offer the English something once he had decided to issue a pledge in an attempt to buy off the Yes campaign in the Scottish referendum.

And if he hadn’t acted, not only would his own party have been in revolt against him, Nigel Farage would likely have emerged as the champion of the disaffected English.

So it looks as if we are to have English votes for English laws. In theory this is a fair reform, but the practical problems are that it will either make no difference (that would be the situation in most parliaments) or that it would lead to the UK being governed by one party and England by another and prove to be unworkable.

So, much as the idea of an English parliament meeting in York appeals, I cannot see it as a sensible option. Nor am I attracted by the idea of artificial English regions, each with its own assembly and capital.

I agonised about these problems in a book review in Liberal Democrat News a few years ago:
What to do about England in the new devolved United Kingdom is a question that will not go away. A Useful Fiction quotes Anthony King’s description of the country under the current settlement as “a huge whale in a small bathtub”, and without the counterbalance that the new parliaments offer in Scotland and Wales, it is England that has suffered most from the demise of local democracy. 
The traditional Liberal answer is to call for assemblies to be set up in the English regions, but I do not find this attractive. There are problems on agreeing where the boundaries should be drawn and the inconvenient fact that on the only occasion when plans for an assembly were put to the public (in the North East in 2004), they were voted down decisively. 
More than that, the regional system Labour has set up acts like a shadow, unelected variety of local government that makes it easier for Whitehall to force new infrastructure projects through in the force of popular opposition.
Perhaps the real problem is that English regional government appeals to those who do not feel comfortable with Englishness at all. Many on the liberal-left who are indulgent to Celtic nationalism still fear that England is too big and too irredeemably Tory to be allowed a modern constitutional form. They would rather see English identity hobbled by a collection of smaller assemblies.
If we are not to have an English parliament or a comprehensive system of regional government, then we shall have to learn to live with a looser solution where large cities and counties that want more power are given it and those that do not continue under a regime much like the one that exists at present. At the very least, we are going to have to give up the expression ‘postcode lottery’.

And as for coming to terms with Englishness, I commend a Spectator article by Nick Cohen:
The danger for Labour is that it could find itself portrayed as the enemy of the English. It is a novel position for the party. Most Labour politicians are wary of the left intelligentsia – and vice versa – and know the dangers of the electorate thinking them unpatriotic. But patriotism is changing. It is not enough for a political party to show that it loves Britain; it has to show that it loves each of its constituent parts. For Labour, the only national party with strong roots in England, Wales and Scotland, the balkanisation of Britain, represents a moment of danger. 
The question now is no longer: does Labour love Britain? But does Labour love England? Maybe not enough to allow fair treatment for the English electorate.  Labour is giving every indication that it will not accept English votes for English laws. It wants to devolve more powers to English cities and regions, as do the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.  But it is not contemplating a federal Britain, and is refusing to cooperate with David Cameron’s attempts to answer the English question. 
I sympathise with its reasons. I don’t want to see Welsh and Scottish politicians excluded from English life, not least because they are the men and women most likely to forward left wing interests. I hate the prospect of the petty, almost racist, populism of the Scottish nationalists spreading south. But my Britain is going or gone. The Labour Party cannot expect others to stand by an archaic system, rigged for the left’s benefit.
Who will benefit from the new system born from Salmond’s populism and the panic of the leaders of the UK parties in the face of it remains to be seen. But that is the battle we must now fight.

Leonard Cohen: Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye



It seems odd to be wishing a 1960s musician a happy 80th birthday, but we had better get used to it. Even Steve Winwood is 66 these days.

Here is Leonard Cohen at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 and he is just as cool today as he was then.

I have chosen two other Leonard Cohen songs as Sunday music videos - I must be grown up:

John Leech to speak at East Midlands Lib Dems conference




The autumn conference and annual general meeting of the East Midlands Liberal Democrats will take place in Hinckley on Saturday 1 November.

The keynote speaker will be John Leech, Lib Dem MP for Manchester Withington, and the four candidates to be the party's new president have also been invited.

Book via the East Midlands Lib Dems website.

“It was as black as the night sky”: The Beast of Harborough returns

The Hatborough Mail reports that the Black Beast of Harborough was seen near Lubenham on two consecutive evenings earlier this month.

We have previously reported sightings of the Beast near Arthingworth and Foxton.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Peter Capaldi travelling in time before Doctor Who



Each episode of the second series of The All New Alexei Sayle Show, broadcast in 1995, featured a Drunk in Time sketch. This was a parody of a long-forgotten American series called The Time Tunnel.

As well as Alexei Sayle, they featured Jenny Agutter and Alfred Marks as the controllers and Jim Carter as an historical figure. Here he is King Herod.

And Sayle's fellow traveller in time was played by an actor called Peter Capaldi. Whatever happened to him?

The street name signs of Oakham



In Oakham today to visit the Dowager Lady Bonkers in hospital, I noticed that at one time the practice in the town was to paint street names on the side of houses.

Some, like Station Street, are well preserved. Others, like Kings Road, have decayed.

And some, like Long Row, have been imaginatively vandalised.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sandy Denny



Over the years I have posted several songs by Sandy Denny (photographed here in about 1970):
Read more about Sandy Denny.

84 per cent Yes vote in Billesdon

Church Street, Billesdon © Andrew Tatlow

No, Billesdon is not an enclave of Scottish Nationalism. It is a village in Leicestershire and it had its own referendum yesterday.

In it, local residents voted overwhelmingly in favour of the proposed neighbourhood plan. The 84 per cent Yes vote came from a turnout of 55 per cent.

I hope the plan will give them real control over the development and preservation of their village.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The skeletons found holding hands

Hallaton © Graham Horn

Today's newspapers loved the story of the two skeletons that were found holding hands. But even more interesting is the place that they were found.

The University of Leicester Archaeological Services website explains:
ULAS archaeologists have been working with local volunteers to uncover the lost chapel of St Morrell overlooking the small village of Hallaton in east Leicestershire. The Fourth year of excavations with the Hallaton Fieldwork Group (HFWG) has revealed the full plan of the chapel as well as the cemetery and evidence that the hillside has been used since at least the Roman period. 
The location of the chapel was unknown before research by local historian John Morison suggested it might be on Hare Pie Bank where the annual Easter Hare Pie Scramble and Bottle Kicking take place. Geophysical survey by HFWG showed a square boundary (approximately 36m across) with features inside it. Subsequent excavations by ULAS and the group have uncovered the chapel thought to be a place of pilgrimage in the medieval period and a pilgrim badge with ‘Morrell’ inscribed on it was found within the walls of the chapel. 
The excavations have identified the walls and tiled floor of the chapel as wells as fragments of stone masonry, wall plaster, tiles and lead from the windows. A number of silver pennies dating between the 12th – 16th centuries have also been found on the site indicating when the chapel was in use.
And Dr Graham Jones will tell you all about St Morrell. His seems to have been a local cult, and he is not marked anywhere beyond Hallaton:
The name in English is derived from French and means 'small, shrivelled dark thing' - compare the name of the Morello cherry. Queen Elizabeth I of England was known (not entirely pejoratively, perhaps) as 'a little morrella'. Because of the name's unusual flavour in the context of an English local church, the conjecture has been canvassed that it is a corruption of some Old English name such as Merewalh. This was a name borne by a Mercian sub-king on the Welsh marches of England. These lie in the far west Midlands rather than the east, but Merewalh was a benefactor of an east Midlands saint, Botolph of Icanho (what later became Boston), and several of his relatives were commemorated in Leicestershire and its neighbouring counties. 
However, a much more plausible explanation, and one with evidential support, is that Morrell, 'Mawrell' in 1532, represents St Maurilius of Angers, a fifth-century bishop and patron of that French town, whose legend purported that he sought exile in England where he worked as a gardener for an English noble. The families of Norman lords of Hallaton originated in that region of France. Also, land in Leicestershire and neighbouring Warwickshire was given in the eleventh century to the monastery of St Nicholas of Angers.

Hear Alex Salmond make the case for an independent Scotland



You are welcome.

Is this Britain's most prolific father? Bus driver fathers 26 children by 9 women




The Daily Mirror wins our Headline of the Day Award.

Reader's voice: It's not your usual sort of story, is it?

Liberal England replies: No, but it gives me an excuse to use this picture.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Charlotte Barnes to contest Ludlow for the Liberal Democrats


From the Shropshire Star:
Charlotte Barnes, Shropshire Councillor for Bishop's Castle, has been selected by Ludlow Liberal Democrats to contest the MP Philip Dunne's seat in the Ludlow constituency. 
A mother-of-two, Mrs Barnes has built a reputation as a local campaigner on issues such as unwanted housing, the Bishop's Castle Youth Club and the future of the town's business park. She is currently pressing the mobile provider EE over their poor signal in the area. 
She said: "It's a great honour to be selected to represent the Lib Dems in next year's contest. 
"I will be following in the footsteps of great local campaigners such as Matthew Green and Heather Kidd. "We face some real challenges in this rural part of Shropshire. 
We are often neglected by both Central Government and the County. The threat of our hospital services disappearing, falling school rolls and a chaotic slash and burn council are just some of the problems our area faces."
I had a drink with Charlotte when I was on holiday in the county a couple of summers ago. I am sure she will make an excellent candidate.

My Scottish forebear who defied Queen Victoria



It feels a good evening to honour my great great grandmother's brother Sandy Campbell, who is described in Robert Smith's book A Queen's Country:
Sandy Campbell sported a magnificent beard. Queen Victoria didn't like it and asked him to remove it. She said she liked all her stalkers and ghillies to be clean-shaven. But Sandy refused to part with his beard, saying he had never shaved all his life and didn't intend to start now. He told the Queen that he would rather go back where he came from. The matter was quietly dropped and Sandy and his beard stayed at Balmoral ... 
Sandy Campbell was a favourite with Queen Victoria. In his years at Loch Muick he met many members of the Royal Family and their VIP guests, but he was probably known as much for his hobbies as he was for his skill as a stalker. He dabbled in taxidermy in an age when "stuffers" were much in demand. The animals and birds he stuffed were put on display, along with other curios, in the Glassallt Shiel's coach-house - "the Loch Muick Museum", Princess Alexandra called it. 
Stones found in the hills, cairngorms, quartz, pieces of rock-crystal and rock-salt, deer antlers and the horns of sheep and goats, foxes' masks and brushes - they all found their way into the museum. I never discovered what happened to Sandy's collection in the Loch Muick Museum. If it had survived the years it might have found a place in the visitors' centre at the Spittal. 
"He was a bit of an eccentric," said John Robertson. He planted honeysuckle away out towards the Dubh Loch, halfway between in and the Glass-alt, beside a cairn of stones. He also planted holly trees along the lochside. John thought that only two of them had survived. 
Today, the museum has gone and everything in it, but if things had been different Sandy might have been remembered by one of the cairns he would put up at the drop of a hat. "If he parted company with somebody," said John, with a grin, "he would build a cairn." He erected one at the lochside and called it Campbell's Cairn, but his self-made monument was demolished by an avalanche about 1957.
The illustration shows the ballroom at Balmoral, which today houses an exhibition of royal artefacts. Among them is a silver figure of a Highland games athlete by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm.

It is labelled "S. Campbell," and I like to think my forebear was the model for it.

Alistair Carmichael: Shetland may reconsider its place in Scotland after yes vote



An article published on the Guardian website this evening has, judging by the comments put the cat among the pigeons:
Oil-rich Shetland may want to reconsider whether it stays part of an independent Scotland in the event of a yes vote, the Scotland secretary, Alistair Carmichael, has said. 
In an interview with the Guardian, Carmichael said if the islands were to vote strongly no but the Scottish national vote was a narrow yes, then a "conversation about Shetland's position and the options that might be open to it" would begin. 
The Liberal Democrat MP, who represents Orkney and Shetland in Westminster and has been secretary of state for Scotland in the coalition government since last October, said those options might include the islands modelling themselves on the Isle of Man, which is a self-governing crown dependency, or on the Faroe Islands, which are an autonomous country within the Danish realm. 
Asked if he was suggesting that Alex Salmond should not necessarily take for granted that oilfields off Shetland will belong to Scotland in the event of a yes vote, he said: "That would be one of the things that we would want to discuss. I wouldn't like to predict at this stage where the discussions would go." 
His comments were echoed by Tavish Scott, Shetland's MSP, who, when asked whether Shetland would have to obey the will of Scotland if it voted yes, said: "Will it now? We'll have to look at our options. We're not going to be told what to do by Alex Salmond." 
Featured on Liberal Democrat VoiceThe option of becoming a crown dependency was "something we will look at", Scott said, though he ruled out considering full independence for the islands.

New blow for Salmond



Wee Jimmy Krankie interviewed in The Big Issue:
Alex Salmond can sod off ’cos I don’t want it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A steam train arrives at King's Cross/St Pancras Underground station



Filmed, I believe, on 13 January 2013.

Former dinner lady jailed for running £150k skunk cannabis factory at her Leicester home

Headline of the Day sees a home win by the Leicester Mercury.

Celebrating Britishness before it's too late


My keyboard is misbehaving today - when I try to type i I get ik7, - but I can cut and paste. So hear is some great comment on the referendum debate.

First, Ian Jack (one of my favourite journalists) mourns the possible end of Britishness:
In the SNP’s big-change but no-change version of independence, nobody’s identity is at risk. If people want to think of themselves as British as well as Scottish, then they can keep calm and carry on. 
As Salmond wrote, soothingly, in the same document: “Much of what Scotland will be like the day after independence will be similar to the day before: people will go to work, pensions and benefits will be collected, children will go out to play and life will be as normal.” 
And of course it will. But gradually British identity will wither. If it survives at all, it will become narrow, eccentric, strident and romantic, like so many other national identities that have been deprived of their states and institutions. I value it too much to want that. 
Gordon Brown erred when, as prime minister, he attempted to enunciate his list of “British values” – which turned out to be the values of most civilised nations. He would have been wiser to have written, as Orwell did, about its characteristics rather than what he imagined to be its longstanding moral beliefs. 
The markers of Britishness for me include empiricism, irony, the ad hoc approach, pluralism, and a critical awareness of its own rich and sometimes appalling history. It’s sceptical, too: it has seen a thing or two and knows nothing lasts. 
But perhaps what recommends it most is the frail senescence that makes it an undemanding kind of belonging, and unexpectedly fits it for the modern world. 
The untangling of the institutions – military, administrative, academic, ambassadorial, commercial, cultural – that have sustained this identity can’t but be painfully destructive. The past 300 years have not been about nothing.
Next, Paul Mason attends #LetsStayTogether in Trafalgar Square:
I’ve been thinking about what was different to the vibe last night and, say, the Olympic opening ceremony designed by Danny Boyle. Boyle’s spectacle was brash, drew on a Brits-via-Hollywood meme, and placed heavy stress on working class culture (Abide With Me) and the folk traditions of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. 
The Dan Snow/Bob Geldof version drew much more on poetry, the non-national and even laid claim to internationalism (The Night Mail, by gay, communist conscientious objector WH Auden was read out.) 
So maybe, if you want a Britishness that exists at a higher level than medleys of regional folk songs, this is what you have to accept. 
There was no mention of royalty, or Dunkirk. Nobody shouted “British jobs for British workers”, as Gordon Brown did to the Labour party conference once. You can have strident English nationalism of the EDL and generations of far right football hooligans. 
You can have the progressive English nationalism we saw around Euro 96. You can have the sturm und drang available to both sides in Northern Ireland, or the soaring, class-based patriotism that transports rugby crowds at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
But maybe you can’t have a strident *British* nationalism. Maybe that’s the subtextual mistake all those lectern-banging politicians have been making. Maybe it has to be something quiet.
Then Isabel Hardman dissects "The Vow" made by the three party leaders:
It doesn’t matter how many front pages you sign next to your new promise to Scottish voters, you’ve still only unveiled this offer in the last two weeks. If you had it planned for ages, then why wait until the point that it’s so late you appear desperate? Or if you’ve only cobbled together this promise in the last few weeks, then is it really a good idea.
Finally, Nick Cohen shows that Scottish nationalism is as pernicious as any other variety:
Nationalists build walls to keep their people in and the rest out. They create ‘us’ and ‘them’. Friends and enemies. If you disagree, if you say they have no right to speak for you because not all Scots/Serbs/Germans/Russians/Israelis think the same or recognise their lines of the map, you become a traitor to the collective. The fashionable phrase ‘the other’ is one of the few pieces of sociological jargon that enriches thought. All enforcers of political, religious and nationalist taboos need an ‘other’ to define themselves against, and keep the tribe in line. 
The process of separation and vilification is depressing to watch but familiar enough. Scottish nationalists are preparing a rarer trick, last seen in the dying days of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. They are trying to break up an existing multi-national state and turn neighbours into foreigners. They want people, who have lived together, worked together, loved each other, had children together, moved into each other countries and out again, to be packaged and bound up in hermetically sealed boxes labelled ‘Scots’ and ‘English’.
The notion that Scottish nationalism is always cosy and ‘civic’ has flourished without challenge. Alex Salmond’s greatest propaganda success has been to limit debate. If you are outside Scotland, and disagree with him, you have no right to comment on its internal affairs. If you are inside, you are ‘talking down Scotland’; showing yourself to be a self-hating Scot unfit to serve on its ‘Team’. 
The nationalists have bullied too many into silence. People who know better have not spelt out the costs of separatism, or said clearly that progressive forces will suffer most. 
How can they not? Nationalism will allow capital to remain global, while forcing arbitrary local divisions on labour. Brian Souter and Rupert Murdoch have flirted with Salmond because they can sniff a small state coming that must, whatever its currency turns out to be, run surpluses and build reserves to please the Bank of England, the European Central Bank and, above all, a market that will punish the tiniest step away from neo-liberal orthodoxy. 
The currency question has no answer except deeper and wider austerity. That people who think of themselves as left wing can brush it aside and pretend that working and middle-class Scots won’t suffer is a self-deception so extreme it borders on religious fantasy.
Keyboard latest: the backspace is working again.

Monday, September 15, 2014

David Wynne, Boy with a Dolphin and Ozric Tentacles

Photo: Keith Pitchforth

The sculptor David Wynne died earlier this month.

I remember seeing a marquette of his Boy with a Dolphin on the Antiques Roadshow one Sunday. The next day, after calling in at the Liberal Democrat News office at Cowley Street, I walked along the bank of the Thames to Chelsea, where I came across the real thing.

The model for the boy was Wynne's son Roly, who grew up to be the bass player with Ozric Tentacles. He died in 1999.

Yes Scotland has lost the referendum campaign

Terrific stuff from Cicero's Songs:
Yes Scotland have comprehensively lost the intellectual argument. They have been totally destroyed. From currency, to healthcare, to pensions every argument that they have put forward has been eviscerated. 
It is not that Yes Scotland has more emotion that bothers me- it is that they only have emotion. All rational considerations have been ditched and those who raise the perfectly valid questions of how - practically - Scotland can avoid serious problems, are dismissed without any attempt to answer the questions.
And he later says:
This referendum has been divisive and dangerous, and no matter who wins, it will be difficult to heal the wounds that have been created. 
Now, the process of healing must begin, but the Yes campaign should understand there has been emotion - and increasingly that emotion is abiding anger at the way that they have dismissed so lightly all the serious concerns that any rational observer would have at making such a big step.
Just to cheer you up, let me add a passage from Shuggy's Blog that I quoted yesterday:
This is not a national independence movement that requires any struggle or sacrifice but rather one that promises that nothing and everything will change. Keep the Queen, the open border, the currency - you'll hardly notice a thing, except your wallet becoming a bit fatter. 
It is the lie of painlessness and that it is so widely-believed is storing up trouble for the future for this country, regardless of the outcome. For who do you imagine the nationalists will blame if they're denied this decaffeinated national rebirth, or if they get it and then realise it isn't how they were told to imagine it? Certainly not themselves.
Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice 

Trivial Fact of the Day with Norman Lamb

Norman Lamb began his political career as a researcher for the Labour MP Greville Janner.

It's amazing what you learn on Wikipedia.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Paddy Ashdown on the global power shift



From the TED website:
Paddy Ashdown claims that we are living in a moment in history where power is changing in ways it never has before. In a spellbinding talk he outlines the three major global shifts that he sees coming.
This talk was filmed atTEDxBrussels in December 2011.

Six of the Best 464

"This is not a national independence movement that requires any struggle or sacrifice but rather one that promises that nothing and everything will change. Keep the Queen, the open border, the currency - you'll hardly notice a thing, except your wallet becoming a bit fatter. It is the lie of painlessness and that it is so widely-believed is storing up trouble for the future for this country, regardless of the outcome. For who do you imagine the nationalists will blame if they're denied this decaffeinated national rebirth, or if they get it and then realise it isn't how they were told to imagine it? Certainly not themselves." Shuggy pus his finger on the dishonesty of the Yes campaign.

Towards the Sound of Gunfire reveals how thin on the ground Liberal Democrats now are in many parts of the country.

David Hencke on a crunch week for the child sex abuse inquiry.

On the Spiked Review of Books, Bruno Waterfield stands up for George Orwell against Will Self.

"The man who had created the world’s greatest detective never knew how badly astray his own investigation had gone. In part to avoid embarrassing him, Elsie and Frances did not reveal the secret of the paper cutouts until long after his death." Mary Losure, on The Public Domain Review, looks at Arthur Conan Doyle and the fairies.

Retronaut presents maps from the Festival of Britain.
Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

One the for the writer's notebook

This afternoon I was passing a house where two small boys were climbing on the fence in the front garden.

Their mother came out and the following dialogue took place.

MOTHER: Don't climb on the fence.

FIRST BOY: Why not?

MOTHER: Because your father put it up and it's very likely to fall down.

This sort of thing happens to people like Alan Bennett all the time.

Market Harborough Arts Fresco 2014


My mother is home but needs a lot of looking after, so I was able to pay only a flying visit to Arts Fresco today.

But it was good to see it back in the town.

Elvis Costello and the Attractions: Watch Your Step



When East Midlands Trains warned its passengers to "Watch Your Step" I used it as an excuse to post the Spencer Davis Group cover of the song of that name by Bobby Parker.

But in the comments on that post Asquith sent to me to this terrific song from Costello's fifth album (and fourth with the Attractions), Trust. Like the best of his early work, it is perfectly poised between beauty and menace.

The video shows a live performance on American television. Elvis Costello was interviewed, and it is amusing to see him encountering a chat show host from another era. Note also that in those days he had far more of a London accent than we are now used to hearing from him.