Saturday, August 28, 2004
Vaz and Impeachment
Later, on Newsnight, no Labour big hitter deigned to make an appearance to refute Price's allegations. Instead Labour put up former Europe Minister Keith Vaz, a curious choice given his suspension from the House of Commons for a month two years ago for "serious breaches" of the MPs' code of conduct. Confronted with allegations from Price that could hardly be more serious, Vaz suggested the MP had been watching Shrek 2.
The website for the campaign is at ImpeachBlair.org which has a copy of the report for download. Check it out and email or write to Keith Vaz using the addresses to the side or through FaxYourMP.com. Is he representing your views?Are you happy with his behaviour? Let him know.
Thursday, August 26, 2004
Other Vaz news
A summit on the potential dangers of violent computer games is to be organised by Leicester East MP Keith Vaz.
Mr Vaz wants more research into the link between fantasy violence and real crime.He decided to act following the murder of Stefan Pakeerah.
Stefan, 14, died in a brutal attack with a hammer and knife in Stokes Wood Park, New Parks, Leicester, in February.Last month, 17-year-old Warren Leblanc, of Braunstone Frith, pleaded guilty to Stefan's murder, saying he wanted to rob the younger boy.
After the hearing, Stefan's parents said Leblanc's attack mirrored scenes in the computer game Manhunt, while police revealed that at one stage it had been considered the sole motive for the attack.
Mr Vaz said he was also proposing a private members' bill to Parliament on the issue of computer game violence.
Top marks to the Mercury for 'at one stage it had been considered the sole motive for the attack'. Yes, yes it had. Until it turned out it had nothing at all to do with the attack.
Also in the Mercury, another beautiful bit of intelligence that will make finding this attacker sooo much easier: He had a closely-shaved head, and is described as having a protruding nose.
A shame his nose protuded, had he had an inverted nose he would have been much easier to spot.
And finally, well done to all GCSE people getting results today - with a special shout out to my brother, his friends and all the Judgemeadow kids.
Vaz says no to impeaching Blair
The website for the campaign is at ImpeachBlair.org which has a copy of the report for download. More news coverage from the Guardian and BBC.
From the BBC report:
Labour MP and former minister Keith Vaz told Newsnight: "This is a silly story for the end of the silly season."
Mr Vaz said the evidence in the academics report was thin and questions over the Iraq war had been raised numerous times in Parliament, as well as in a string of inquiries.
"This matter has been put before the nation day after day over the last few years," said Mr Vaz. "All these reports have exonerated the government and it's time to move on."
I contacted Mr Vaz some weeks ago in response to the Big Intervention and his verdict then was similar. I would urge any Leicester East people reading this to get in touch with Keith with your views, whatever they may be. Contact details are to the side. Anyone else, get in touch with your MP. You can use FaxYourMP.com to find your MP and mail them.
Even if this only gets a debate going again and the issue raised in the Commons it will still be worthwhile.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Vaz and the mobile phone masts
Mr Vaz said: "Since my last bill there has been a considerable growth in the number of masts in Leicester and in particular I was horrified with the Goodwood Road situation.
"I would wish the law changed to avoid phone mast companies taking such advantage again so I have added an amendment to my original bill."
Further he is calling for a ban on masts being built on highways authority land.
The whole phone mast issue is a contentious one. Any opinions, comment below...
Saturday, August 21, 2004
Ethnic Forums and Affirmative Action
“We have to have affirmative action,” he told the World at One.
“I simply don’t understand why we haven’t taken that one last step. That really would make a terrific difference.”
All-women shortlists are attracting criticism but are getting women into Parliament. This Muslim News article claims all-women lists can be used to block other attempts at equality, with more from the Guardian. There is a massive inequality between the size of the Black and Asian (and other ethnic minority) population and their representation in Parliament, there are just 12 ethnic minority MPs at present.
With the acceptance of all-women shortlists can asking for one ethnic minority candidate per shortlist be that extreme? Perhaps a certain amount of discretion can be applied, asking that there must be at least one such candidate where the local ethnic minority population is over a certain percentage? All-women shortlists haven't helped Black and Asian women into Parliament: are we sacrificing one form of equality for another?
Friday, August 20, 2004
A Level Results in Leicester
Looking at the results table for Leicester and the county it doesn't take much to see the glaring inconsistencies between different colleges' results. This is a desperately upsetting situation that must be addressed.
But in the meantime let us not detract from the pride all the students should be feeling, whatever their results. Of course there are debates to be had about the education system, but why do we insist on having them when there should be celebrations? The people who do show themselves as having no respect for the students who have gamely taken everything the government, exam boards, local authorities and colleges have thrown at them (you have no idea) and come out fighting for their future.
Check out the coverage and results tables from the Mercury.
Thursday, August 19, 2004
Patricia Hewitt Site
Thank you very much for your email. I work for Patricia in her constituency and have recently become responsible for the running of her website. In the past couple of days I have updated it, although I know we still have a way to go in getting it up to scratch and then keeping on top of it. We hope to have the site fully updated within the next couple of week and would love to hear your comments on it then.
Monday, August 16, 2004
Keith Vaz Surgery
Early evening of Friday 20th. At Netherhall Neighbourhood Centre and (I think) the Morton and Northfield Residents Association at 294 Victoria Roads East.
Sorry for not being very clear, but you'll have to phone anyway, on 0116 212 2028 (between 10 and 1pm) to make an appointment.
A few notes on the surgery experience thus far...
Ringing up Mr Vaz's office was a daunting affair, the woman who answered didn't seem to be expecting queries about the surgery.
The exact times of the surgery can't be told to constituents unless they are booking an appointment "because then anybody might turn up". I was given an approximate time when I pointed out I didn't know if I could come unless I knew when it was. We're busy people, we constituents.
I remember councillor's surgeries as being rather slapdash, informal, easygoing affairs. The local councillors have times, dates and locations proudly displayed on the City Council website, even Patricia Hewitt has times, dates and locations on her website, though you must make an appointment. But presumably that allows people to just turn up and mill around a bit.
Is Keith scared of us?
Sunday, August 15, 2004
No Vaz news, but good news.
This site has had a bit of a Labour-friendly / visually-unfriendly make over. And Patricia Hewitt, fellow Leicester MP, has been voted out of Tories in Turmoil.
Monday, August 09, 2004
Keith Vaz Surgeries
Friday 22nd August
That's it, I'm afraid. The location and time will not be released until next Monday, when you will have to ring the appointments line on 0116 2122028. The surgery will be held somewhere around the constituency.
Saturday, August 07, 2004
Plugging Keith Vaz Blogging
A letter to the Leicester Mercury is proving an incredibly daunting task. Looking at the websites of Leicester's other MPs is proving interesting. Patricia Hewitt has a Labour-standard template with her own domain, patricia-hewitt-mp.co.uk, which, as noticed over at the Not David Lepper blog (and pointed out to me in the early draft of this blog) means it cannot be used during elections because she will be a candidate rather than the MP she is described as. Her 'news' section contains nine posts since the Budget in March. How about trying a blog, Patricia?
Parmjit Singh Gill will be excused for currently living at the Leicester Liberal Democrat pages, he hasn't been an MP for a full month yet. As the site points out he is the first ethnic minority LibDem MP, now Leicester's second Asian man, along with a woman. Leicester scores many brownie points for political correctness.
Friday, August 06, 2004
Keith Vaz and Manhunt
The good old Leicester Mercury has been full of the sort of well-balanced, informed, calm and non-reactionary commentary that we are so used to.
Mr Keith been receiving letters about the violence in video games.
He is also getting involved in pre-emptively banning Doom 3.
The Scotsman carries the fullest statement from Mr Vaz... Mr Vaz told PA News: “I have written to the Home Secretary asking him to look at the link between videos and crime as a matter of urgency.
“I have asked for additional research to be funded in part by the manufacturers themselves in order to see whether or not there is a link between these video games and crimes of violence.
“As regards this particular video game I am calling on other retailers to take the same action as Dixons has done.
“They have cleared this game from the shelves and I think it would be appropriate for others to do the same.
“The family have intimated they are going to sue Sony today so I am calling on the Government to give the family any help they need in their lawsuit.
“These transatlantic legal issues are very difficult. The aid of the British Government is going to be of immense help to them.
“I think this is a very important test case and therefore the Government should give any help they can.”
Any comments would be welcomed.
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Tories In Turmoil
Over at The UK Today, a riff on Labour's competition to vote. Take a look at Tories In Turmoil for a wider range of prospective new leaders.
On the question of Blair I would urge people to check out the Big Intervention. Write to Keith Vaz to let him know what you're thinking about Tony Blair and New Labour.
This is what can happen with internet-ness and blogs and all. The power to mobilise all these people will just grow and grow. So have fun signing petitions and writing letters.
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Googling Keith Vaz
Top of the list comes profiles and information from the incredibly handy They Work For You, where you can look at voting records, recent appearances, statistics on attendance and rebelliousness and get contact details for all UK MPs as well as access hansard archives.
Next up poor Keith is still being dogged by the Hinduja scandal with a three year old BBC article and accompanying BBC profile.
Coming in at number three is the Public Whip's Voting record. This information is also accessible through They Work For You and Vaz shows up as remarkably unrebellious.
Leicester City Council's rather nice website comes next with only paltry contact details available.
A profile at Operation Black Vote rolls in next. Keith's place as the first Asian Minister in Parliament is often referred to in such profiles, though not in the next, Dod's Biography, where the emphasis is on his work as a solicitor.
Equally often referred to is Keith's reason for no longer being a minister, and a review of the case that lost him his job polls up next at the archive website for Official Documents.
The last result on the first page is another sparse reference on politics.co.uk.
On the second page of results the Labour site manage to sneak in, as well as more local info from thisisleicestershire.co.uk. A sympathetic article on the scandal from The Hindu highlights possible undercurrents of racism and the groundbreaking life and career of Keith's mother, Merlyn Vaz, is chronicled.
More soul-less biographies and an amusingly illustrated account of his love for Goa follow.
All very interesting. Some genuinely interesting, some interesting because of their lack of interest. Although this post didn't start with the intention of making a point I can't help but be struck by one: Keith, where are you? Where is the real Keith Vaz?
Keith Vaz Blog: An Introduction
It is here to provide news of Keith Vaz to his constituents and to give us an easy, free and accessible way to communicate with him, and with each other. As such I welcome comments and want to positively encourage them. Any other dedicated constituents can become co-authors and hopefully this blog will become a helpful part of the ever growing MP-blog cyberworld.
This vision is promoted by Tim Ireland at bloggerheads.com, where there are great articles about political blogging that inspired this and many other blogs, listed to the right of the page. The aim is to encourage MPs to take up blogs as the way forward for communicating with their constituents, rather than static websites that never get updated and terse replies to emails by staff. Blogs offer a chance for real communication which is, after all, MP's jobs. Keith Vaz doesn't even have a bad website, so this is an attempt to helpfully prod him on his way to enlightenment.
As ever comments and feedback will be gratefully received. The blog is very new and I'm still developing things. Look out for new stuff with regular Vaz and Leicester East commentary.