August 29, 2015
by Paul
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Conference Countdown 2015: Human Rights motion – we need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water

As many will know, there is an excellent motion on Human Rights to be debated at the Bournemouth conference. I have set out the motion below this post.

I have one query which readers may be to help me with.

It pertains to this section of the motion:

Conference resolves to:
…C. Retain the Human Rights Act unless it is replaced with a Bill of Rights which incorporates and builds on those rights set out in the ECHR and oppose any attempts by Conservatives to introduce a British Bill of Rights which does not achieve this.

Continue Reading →

August 29, 2015
by Paul
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How would Jeremy Corbyn actually lead the Labour party?

It was bad enough watching Ed Miliband rather out of his depth as leader of the Labour party. He seemed to sit back in his study quite a lot, talking with his inner circle. He did quite well at PMQs sometimes. But you got the impression that he wasn’t really fully in charge. This was made worse by unfortunate (and somewhat irrelevant) incidents such as the bacon sandwich episode. Continue Reading →

August 29, 2015
by Paul
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Disgraceful attitude to mental health disguised by the warm words of Iain Duncan-Smith

Listening to Iain Duncan-Smith can be enough to send anyone to sleep. He drones on and one can be lulled into thinking he is being quite reasonable.

However, behind his warm words, there is a chilling attitude to disabilities and particularly to mental illness.

He seems to be saying: There must be something you can do if you are suffering from depression.

And: If we start cutting your benefits, that’ll act as a little nudge to push you gently into work.

Blimey. What planet does he live on?

Having had a little experience of mental illness and those suffering from such long-term disabilities, I have to say that none of this washes. Continue Reading →

August 28, 2015
by Paul
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From Major-General to Daniel Radcliffe

On my Spotify I am enjoying the Major General’s Song from Pirates of Penzance – it still amazes me that anyone can sing all those words in such a short space of time. Tom Lehrer took Gilbert and Sullivan’s tune from that song and turned it into the “The Elements”, which Daniel Radcliffe uses as his amazing party piece. So here’s the Major General, Tom Lehrer and Daniel Radcliffe in that order:

August 23, 2015
by Paul
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The magic of Slim Harpo

I am rediscovering my love of music. After surviving on a very limited playlist of my “device” for a while, I have now invested in a UE Bluetooth Boom box, which is excellent, plus subscribing to Spotify Premium. I figure that when my music discovery voyage was at its height, I used to spend a fortune on vinyl, so forking out on Spotify is much less than that.

This week I stumbled upon the music of Slim Harpo. He was a Louisiana-based “swamp blues” artist who lived from 1924 to 1970. I don’t know how he managed it, but every track of his is pure gold – each a bit different, with a fantastic sound. Part of the magic is that it was all recorded using valves and in one take in an echoey studio, which gives the music a wonderful sound.

Here’s a couple of great tracks from him:





August 23, 2015
by Paul
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Guilty pleasures #457: Rubettes – Sugar Baby Love

I have an eclectic musical taste. Whenever anyone is kind enough to ask me what sort of music I like, it rather discombobulates me. In my Spotify library you will find Muse, Biffy Clyro, Rizzlekicks, Ten Walls, Calvin Harris, Foo Fighters, Kasabian, Daft Punk, Dizzee Rascal and FatBoy Slim alongside Jacques Brel, Elgar, Mozart, Britten, Beethoven, Gregorian chants, hymns, Django Reinhardt, Jimmy Durante, Noel Coward, Flanagan and Allen, Gracie Fields and George Formby. So, “eclectic” is the only word I can find to sum up that little lot.

Amongst all that, I suppose it’s not odd that I absolutely love this track. It always brings a smile to my face!


August 22, 2015
by Paul
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Cameron’s hot air on seagulls

It’s a problem that’s been going on for at least a century. Seagulls, seagulls and more seagulls in towns. In some places, such as St Ives, Cornwall, the local seagulls seem to have evolved to be particularly skilfull at nicking sandwiches out of “emmets'” tourists’ hands just as they leave the baker’s shop. They swoop from, apparently nowhere, and snatch food. Icecreams are a seagull speciality. The gulls know where the icecream shops are, they know which roofs to sit on, poised. They know exactly when to swoop to grab some poor unsuspecting child’s icecream. (And it is quite a frightening experience for the child and its parents).

The problem is that seagulls are a protected species. They tend to be reasonably protected from predators. Many attempts have been made to curb them in towns, but the problem rumbles on, year after year. Continue Reading →

August 22, 2015
by Paul
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When politics gets so serious that politeness gets thrown to one side

I’ve been in the Liberal party/Liberal Democrats for 25 years. I am happy to say that I have great friends and colleagues in the party and it is a pleasure to work alongside them. 99.99999 recurring % of Lib Dems are unfailingly joyous to deal with.

But I feel I ought to observe that there is a minuscule number of people who have hearts of gold, have the noblest of intentions, but don’t seem to realize that they are not observing basic politeness. Continue Reading →

August 17, 2015
by Paul
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Are you a teenager or first year student just about to go away? – you may need to get vaccinated for the main Meningitis types

The NHS is providing a free vaccine for certain strains of meningitis to teenagers, sixth-formers and all first-year students who are starting college or university this autumn. All you need to do is contact your GP surgery to arrange a jab, if medically appropriate.

The NHS Choices website says:

Young teenagers, sixth formers and ‘fresher’ students going to university for the first time are now routinely offered a vaccination to prevent meningitis W disease.

The Men ACWY vaccine protects against four different causes of meningitis and septicaemia – meningococcal (Men) A, C, W and Y diseases. Continue Reading →

August 17, 2015
by Paul
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The stars and stripes flying in Havana top a list of significant achievements by Barack Obama

I was toddling around in nappies when the US flag was taken down in Havana in January 1961. The decision to break off diplomatic relations between the USA and Cuba was taken a day earlier by President Eisenhower. So started a period of frozen relationships between the two neighbours which included years of trade embargoes. Continue Reading →

August 5, 2015
by Paul
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The endless ingenuity of cold callers to try to talk themselves out of the Telephone Preference Service

I was cold called by Xxxxxx from the “Energy Efficiency Centre” this afternoon (I won’t say the guy’s name as he has a living to earn even though he has been misdirected by his superiors). That by the way, is the well established entity called the “Energy Efficiency Centre” which doesn’t come up on a Google search.

I said straight away that we’re on the Telephone Preference Service. He replied that they contacted me through machine dialling on their computer which is not covered by the TPS, which only covers manually dialled calls.

I then wished him “good afternoon”. He continued to argue with me so I sang “Good afternoon” to him and put the phone down.

These companies are endlessly inventive aren’t they?

August 1, 2015
by Paul
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We need to be careful before jumping on the Lord Sewel bandwagon

Nigel Griffiths. Tim Yeo. Mark Oaten. Paddy Ashdown. Ron Davies. Ian Harvey. David Blunkett. John Prescott. Cecil Parkinson. David Mellor (“toe job to no job” – replace orange bra with alleged Chelsea FC strip). Robin Cook. Harvey Proctor.

All those men were MPs who featured in tabloid sex scandals over the last few decades. None involved expenses abuses or other impropriety that I can recall or find in the archives.

The Lord Sewel episode admittedly involves an alleged breach of drugs laws (legislation which liberals have campaigned to reform) and the use of a publicly supported flat. Continue Reading →