Thursday, December 08, 2005

Pre-emptive strikes

Vaz demands that 'bullying' video game be banned, Leicester Mercury.
Although he has not seen the game, Keith Vaz, MP for Leicester East, read a preview of Bully on the website of its manufacturer Rockstar.

He has now put forward a petition in the Commons demanding the game is banned.
And the Mercury is continuing to allow them to bring Manhunt in to this:
Mr Vaz has long campaigned against violent video games ever since Leicester 14-year-old Stefan Pakeerah was murdered by a man whom, his mother Giselle claimed, was obsessed with the game Manhunt, also made by Rockstar Games.
The EDM: Sale by Rockstar games of 'Bully'

In context: I went to Asda the other day to buy Gun. I'm 22 and had to get my driving licence out. The 18 logo is bigger than a penny, far bigger than 18s on DVDs or videos.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Video game night, not to be held at Vaz's

More news on the video game front... from MCV, Industry baulks at MP call for Government legislation. It's only a short read, but a good one. Highlights:
Vaz is not convinced the tight regulations that already govern the industry are sufficient. “I want to see a statutory system, not a voluntary code drawn up by the industry itself,” Mr Vaz explained. “I’m introducing my own Bill to make sure that happens. It’s not – and never has been – something that can be done by the industry itself.”
And in return:
The Video Standards Council is similarly concerned. “Vaz doesn’t want to know about the facts,” VSC director Laurie Hall said. “ELSPA and ourselves have tried to explain this to Mr Vaz and he doesn’t want to listen. We have consulted senior lawyers and the government and they were both perfectly happy. What more needs to be done?”
There's another story, from Hastings Today, about their MP, Michael Foster, wading in on the debate as well, MP backs steps to ban kid's Bully game. The headline there seems extraordinary, clearly allowing the reader to assume that the game is for children.

Foster gives details of the content of the game which commenters over at Game Politics pick many holes in, with the possibility that Mr Foster might be allowing his imagination to run away with him or be falling foul to rumour and speculation. The post deals specifically with the MCV article but there is discussion of this article as well.
Mr Foster said: "I understand the company has suggested the game might have an 18 rating but we all know this does not stop children accessing them. I really hope we can take action against this kind of irresponsible game. As a society we should be encouraging children to be compassionate and understanding towards others, not glamourising bullying."
If a game has an 18 rating children can not buy it and they should not be playing it. Anecdotal evidence from people working in games shops suggests that parents in their droves buy 18 rated games with children barely in their teens stood beside them, despite being warned by staff. From the BBC: Parents ignore age game ratings.

Children bully other children without the aid of video games. Of course bullying is awful, that is why children will not be allowed to play the game. Does this mean adults should not be able to play whatever they choose? Vaz and Foster are wading in to a debate they don't understand and being wildly illogical.

Keith Vaz in action

'Speeches send commons to sleep' from the Leicester Mercury details some familiar MP-joshing between our own Vaz and Humfrey Malins, Tory frontbencher, concerning falling asleep in the Chamber and who might make the most snooze-worthy speeches.

And how exactly does this fit in?
Later, Mr Vaz said he had been determined to vote with the Conservatives on one of their amendments, "but having heard the Mr Malins' speech, I have decided to vote with the Government."
Because they had a bit of a barney? Or because the speech was so bad? Is this how voting decisions are made? I don't believe him for a moment anyway, Mr Vaz almost never rebels.

Also from the Mercury, a letter in support of Keith Vaz's Tesco tyranny cause.

Our Keith has set up the All Parliamentary Tiffin Club, reported in Vaz helps hunt for best eatery, LM, where they will trial restaurants and raise money for charity at the same time.

A lot of the Indian papers have picked up the story bringing Vaz a bit of international fame: "British Asian leader Keith Vaz, MP, former minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Office," (Garavi Gujarat) and "
non resident Indian leader Keith Vaz, MP, former minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Office," (

A bit of an insight in to Vaz's vote in favour of 90 days detention: Two MPs defend chief constable (LM) where he reveals he might have voted for the 28 days but changed his mind after talking to Leicestershire Chief Constable. The Telegraph also has a mention of Vaz in Terror vote in balance after day of arm-twisting:

Labour whips were "optimistic" that they would force the proposal for a 90-day limit through the Commons.

They said more Labour MPs, including Keith Vaz and David Chaytor, had indicated they would now support it because of Mr Blair's offer of a one-year "sunset clause", which would require the powers to be reviewed and renewed after 12 months.

Vaz is also involved in a campaign in the Leicester Mercury, Bring killers to justice urges family in petition, where a Leicestershire businessman and brother of Oadby and Wigston councillor was killed in the Punjab, which wants the UK government to do more to push for the Indian authorities to take more action on the case.
Mr Vaz said: "I'm very impressed by the number of people who have signed the petition. Clearly, there's a concern about the way in which the case is being handled. Thousands of people from Leicester travel to India and their safety must be protected."

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Why I keep saying on the blog I have created that you don't have a website

Dear Mr Vaz,

Why I keep saying on the blog I have created that you don't have a website

First, this is untrue. I have in fact referenced your Labour template site on the blog and followed the appearance of with excitement. I have not added a permanent link to this 'site' on the blog, for which I apologise and have amended.

However I will maintain that you are currently without your own website. Your website is a Labour templated, Labour fed site. It's not yours and it's not the sort of site I wanted you to have. In my introduction to the blog (under the title) one of the central points was that I wanted you to interact with your constituents. Your 'site' does not allow conversations between you and your constituents or between constituents themselves.

In the first post I made to the blog, over a year ago, I said that you didn't even have a bad website. Well now you do, congratulations. It's not good enough.

Helpfully there are lots of people ready and waiting who want MPs to blog and are offering bargain basement prices on packages to set you up. Visit the Political Weblog Project. You've already got a small but guaranteed audience of about 20 people a day who read this blog, including the odd commenter. This will increase no end if you plug yourself in to the wider blogging community.

That's on the UK stage. What's more important is the local arena. Currently visiting this blog are people from all over the country and often even the world but most are from Leicester itself. I can not see that your 'site' provides a useful resource. While it is good to have information about surgeries and your contact details online the template provided to you does not make for a very accessible or attractive look. These sort of things do put people off. The impersonal news items, random links (International Monetary Fund anyone?) and out of context 'Parliamentary news' are of limited use.

How do your adventures, questions and links help the people of Leicester East? What are you doing and why are you doing it? And, crucially, what do we think about it?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Leicester festivals

Greetings all and a Happy Diwali for today, followed in quick succession by a happy Bestu Varush tomorrow and Eid ul Fitr on Friday with bonfire night on Saturday. Quite the party week. Check the Leicester Mercury and Leicester City council site for events listings.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

South Asia Earthquake

Keith Vaz was in on the debate in Parliament yesterday, check his comments or the debate itself.

News from the Mercury: They need your help, Yaqub grieves as quake claims seven relatives, Muslim forum to buy supplies and Firefighters team saves three.

Disasters Emergency Committee and Islamic Relief UK.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Multiculturalism, racism and Keith Vaz

Keith Vaz has been writing about race relation issues in the Parliamentary Monitor magazine where he talks about the hate mail he receives and developments in attitudes to multiculturalism.

Vaz reveals race-hate fears, ePolitix. Vaz and family are targets of hate-mail, Leicester Mercury.

The Monitor is published by the Runnymede Trust but an online copy of the full article is not available.

After reading some of his comments I am going to be writing to Keith Vaz to try and understand how these sentiments can be reconciled with some of the legislation that he and his government are supporting.

Vaz round up

A more general look at Vaz's recess projects...

Here he is weighing in over NHS (or not) dentists: The future's wide open as dentists seek new role in NHS and Dentists ready to drop NHS patients, both Leicester Mercury.

And now NHS hospitals: 'People are being left on trolleys' and a letter, Time to improve, again both Leicester Mercury.

Our Keith is also busy handing out IT skills qualifications, Skills up to profit, Leicester Mercury. Wait a minute, the Keith Vaz responsible for this?

And last but not least a story about the successful use of traffic calming in Evington village, Accident rate cut, thanks to speed curbs, Leicester Mercury. Maybe someone should mention that after £890,000 and 3 years it looks like fault lines are running through the mini roundabout.

More video games and Vaz

The video game controversy rumbles on with the arrival of a new game, Bully.

Fury of victim's mother over computer game on bullying
, The Guardian.

Bully game 'is irresponsible', Leicester Mercury.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Rebrand this: rebranding, identity, profiling and... quangos? The solution to all Britain's problems

With the walls of the internet closing in around me I struggled to find free / linkable content for you to read on this story.

Hazel Blears has been put in charge of a government commission on racial integration. Yes, that would be the Hazel Blears that said Muslims should expect to be unjustly harrassed by the police, this back in March - one can only imagine the situation now.

In an interview in the Times on Monday she floated the idea that Britain should start talking about its various communities along US lines of Irish-American, Italian-American and the like. They then ran a feature on this 'rebranding' plan that was picked up elsewhere (such as the Independent, subscribers only should apply).

The Guardian carries most of the business - Tories criticise government 'confusion' on extremism, Multiple choices and Life on a hyphen edge.

Keith Vaz hurries in to the fray in the New Kerala in Rebranding of Indians unacceptable, say UK ethnic communities:

“I understand what Hazel is trying to do but the British Asian community know precisely who they are. We know who we are and we are comfortable in being able to identify ourselves without the need for external labels. What we should be doing rather than rebranding is doing more to positively encourage young people from the Asian community to become more involved in the mainstream. That means ministers like Hazel and others ought to appoint more Asians to positions of responsibility through quangos, for example.”

I wouldn't worry about it though peeps. Blears is on the side of the oppressed. As discussions about active racial profiling come to the fore Blears assures us in the Times article that she is familiar with conflicts of identity and the like - she's from the North.

The parents aren't alright

BBC - Parents 'ignore game age ratings'. Found via Slashdot, discussion here. One for Keith Vaz's reading list perhaps?

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