Monday, February 28, 2005
Brian Sedgemore stirs it up
Brian Sedgemore's last speech in Parliament.
Friday, February 25, 2005
Bumper Keith Vaz round up
I wasn't going to blog this because it didn't seem so relevant but now has got a bit more exciting. The competition for the Labour candidacy in Copeland, Cumbria, was running along nicely, brought to my attention because a candidate for the nomination was Mian Mayat, one of Vaz's advisors. And then the only woman shortlisted was thrown out after it was revealed that she was (previously) a call girl in Paris. Read all about it.
The KeithVazMP.com I discovered the other day is still not working. A post-visit Mercury report fails to mention the launch of the website, unlike the pre-visit article. I love the bit at the end: "The day also saw a visit by a delegation of Swedish MPs looking at the school as an example of a multi-cultural city school". My old school is just down the road from City of Leicester (local hint: not St Paul's) and we used to have busloads of county kids arriving to gawp. During a more recent visit my brother's friend delighted them with some savage ape-like behaviour. I call on Ruth Kelly to end these zoo visits!
On a similar note there is also interesting stuff at Bloggerheads about MPs blogging. It is not felt that it would be a wise move to launch a blog now, so close to a probable general election. This will not deter Keith Vaz if he puts his mind to it, having just launched a "shall we have an elected mayor?" campaign. The company holding KeithVazMP.com makes quite a bit about their blogging software. The other issue is with having MP in the website address. If Vaz does launch then he will have to play by the rules. I'll be here watching, will you?
Firework Reform have hit back at the Mercury for not supporting their campaign and at some hypocrisy from Keith Vaz: "We have lobbied our MP, Keith Vaz, who we feel is not fully supportive, although he claims to be passionate". I am fully in support of Firework Reform as the things scare me out my wits. This is especially difficult in lovely Leicester where often the entire month of November is taken up by religious festivals and renders me, like dogs and cats, unable to leave the house at night. They are bombs. In what other context would you set off bombs in your back garden? Or give your children 1000*C hot pokers to play with?
Keith Vaz is serious about phone masts though. Some time ago (long enough ago for me not to want to try and search through the archives) there was talk about phone masts on Goodwood Road, outside primary schools and in front of churches. Vaz has been plugging the issue in the Commons: Phone mast plan at church, the Mercury. The business itself, They Work For You.
Thanks for reading.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
A tale of two cities
I have always known the Leicester Mercury to be a fairly right-wing Daily Mail-wannabe local rag but the representation of viewpoints in response to Mr Sacranie's intial letter have been staggeringly one-sided. In fact, out of 19 replies only one was in support of Mr Sacranie.
This may all be political correctness gone to far, or an incredibly valid debate on the use of an ancient symbol to represent a changing nation... etc etc. But it is the most excited I have seen the Postbag get about anything even approaching politics for a very long time. Even the 'elected mayor' issue is not competing.
Mr Vaz, the cause of the controversy, has not yet spoken. I don't necessarily mean an apology, but there has been no discussion, no defence. He can't congratulate himself on causing a debate as this can hardly be called a debate.
22 Feb - Shocking sight!
22 Feb - Flags are flying
21 Feb - The people have reclaimed the flag
21 Feb - Patriotic MP
21 Feb - Know the facts
19 Feb - Misconception
18 Feb - Flying the flag
17 Feb - By George, it's a perfect symbol
17 Feb - Tolerance works both ways
16 Feb - Proud of our flag and country
15 Feb - Tarnished sigh needs replacing - supporting Mr Sacranie
15 Feb - It's team spirit
15 Feb - Why St George is as multi-cultural as they come
15 Feb - Sporting chance
15 Feb - Patriotic touch
15 Feb - 700 years of heritage and it represent us all - their mistake, not mine
15 Feb - Fans had a different right wing to worry about
15 Feb - Friendly wave
11 Feb - Should MP be flying this flag? Iqbal Sacranie's letter that started it all
Dare I ask for any comments to be posted below?
Monday, February 21, 2005
Before I get too hysterical it is 'under construction' and not in any way indicated that it is the genuine authentic website of our Leicester East MP, although it seems unlikely it isn't.
I can't believe he would get himself together to have a website... only to have to close it down again in a few weeks. Why? This is why. No other versions of his name work. But otherwise I am most excited.
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Not only Cook... but Campbell!
He however is not opening himself up to the public, only to City of Leicester Sixth Form. He is there at Keith's request and, check this Vaz fans... help launch Mr Vaz's new website which is being designed and put together by the school. Website eh? Leicester Mercury, Spin doctor revisits his old school.
More news you want? Slimmers lose pounds in pledge to fight fat.
More elected mayor news? Two letters: A change that gets my vote is not, I think, entirely sensible. Downside to elected mayor I think is entirely sensible. I hope my recent letter to the Mercury comes out so sensible (or even comes out at all). Well done that girl.
The idea of an elected mayor is a seductive one - one person to speak out, one person to blame, one person with whom the business community can relate.
That sounds so simple, but actually life cannot be solved just by one person doing all these things. One person's answer to that important question - what is the best thing to do for us all in Leicester? - is not healthy nor, in my view, safe.
Leicester's great strength is its people, with our great diversity and cultural variety. How can one person represent us all?
If we elected someone they are in power for four years. If we don't like what they are doing there is nothing we can do to remove them from power for their four years.
That is very different from our current system where political parties and group discipline on the council mete out controls.
I would not pretend that the current system makes us all feel in touch with our council and the decisions it makes on our behalf. There is a great deal more to be done and many of the new ideas about neighbourhood delivery offer us some new hope about influence in our communities.
Perhaps councillors should look on this debate as an opportunity to re-launch their roles.
But an elected mayor takes us in the opposite direction, one individual to represent us all, much more distant from communities with total control over how much power they share with any of the other councillors, who would see their roles greatly reduced.
With the pressure there has been on council finances and council tax levels and the crying need for more investment in our services, do we really need to waste at least £200,000 on this ballot? I think not.
Katherine Kerswell, Leicester.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Patriotism, racism and ignorance
700 years of heritage and it represents us all
Why St George is as multi-cultural as they come
It's team spirit
Proud of our flag and country
Tolerance works both ways
I profess myself horrified. I shall be writing to the Mercury this afternoon in support of Mr Sacranie and expressing the hope that this moral outrage can be extended to something a little more deserving of it. Like this. Or this.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Robin Cook Public Meeting
So that's a public meeting, all welcome. 7pm Weds 16th. Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre, Rothley Street.
Saturday, February 12, 2005
More Vaz news
Another article on the elected mayor plans, Let's have a big debate, 10 Feb.
Some EDM's then... our Keith is the primary sponsor of two: Leicester Mercury's Fight the Fat Challenge has garnered a few signatures as has Implementation of High Hedges Legislation (mark II).
Bad postbag for Vaz
A costly move
The city council has said organising a referendum for an elected mayor could cost in the region of £200,000.
All of a sudden, Leicester East MP Keith Vaz is organising a petition only a few months into the next general election in support of a referendum for a four-year-term lord mayor.
Does Mr Vaz expect us, the taxpayers, to dig into our pockets or will he dig into his own?
Nationwide polls outlined by the Government suggesting it is popular is a load of Blair, Blair, Blair and that's saying something from someone who has never been approached.
I am against an elected mayor for a term of four years. It would be like having another Prime Minister in each town. Each political party would favour its own candidate and favouritism would set in.
There would be no democracy at the council and freedom of speech would go out of the window.
Maurice Williams, Leicester.
Nice one Maurice. And then there's also...
Should MP be flying this flag?
Last week, I was driving along Uppingham Road with members of my family who had come over from Birmingham when my cousin pointed out a large flag with a red cross on a white background attached to the front wall of the house No 144.
My cousin, who was very alarmed, asked me if No 144 was the headquarters of the British National Party. I told him that it was, in fact, the office of our local Labour MP, Mr Keith Vaz.
Mr Vaz represents a constituency where there are many different ethnic communities trying to live together in peace and harmony.
So why can he not see that displaying this flag, with its obvious association with the far right, is likely to offend and upset many of the people who have voted for him in the past?
Iqbal Sacranie, Leicester.
Iqbal Sacranie is also the name of the secretary-general of the Muslim Council for Britain. Hmm. In any case, I myself have noticed big England flags hanging off Uppingham Road although a bit of research normally reveals that this is around some sort of sporting time. Why aren't they hanging out a Welsh flag?
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Elected Mayor for Leicester?
More articles round up:
9 Feb - Petition has already been signed by 1000
8 Feb - Debate rages over merits of an elected mayor
7 Feb - For - by our Keith
7 Feb - Against
7 Feb - Risks of having an elected mayor
It has been mentioned a few times in various articles that Vaz has been deliberating over this for a while. So good move on coming out with it now Keith. Just because the election hasn't technically been called yet doesn't mean we're not going to treat this with the cynicism it probably deserves.
I'll Manhunt you...
I'll pick holes in it some other time. Any comments, you can always comment...
Monday, February 07, 2005
Should Leicester have an elected mayor?
As the council consulted on the idea and rejected it Vaz need to raise five percent of the electorate in favour - over 10,000 people. At a cost of £200,000.
Vaz says: "A directly elected mayor will advance Leicester's economy, tourism and welfare.
"I call on the people of Leicester to revive interest and enthusiasm for local democracy and join my campaign to vote for a leader that can be visibly accountable to them."
There are criticisms also included in the article, but not here, cos we're all about the Vaz baby.
Best bit: Mr Vaz has set up an e-mail address to enable people to comment.
What? What? Dost mine eyes deceive me? Be still my beating heart, an email address! Where? Oh, here, at the bottom of the article! Hurray! Btinternet?
Yes folks, btinternet is how seriously Mr Vaz is taking this. firstname.lastname@example.org. At least we have an indication that Vaz and his office actually know what the internet (or at least email) is and that it can be a helpful tool for communicating with people. It also shows he is down with the kids and capable of the horrifying crime of substituting words for numbers.
But this is too good an opportunity for fun to miss. I am mentally drafting an email to this btinternet as I type. Maybe it is time for this stalker to come out of the proxy blogger closet.
An apology is due for how late I was jumping on this bandwagon. If I compile all the relevant articles will you forgive me?
5 Feb - Take the chance to have your say online - week long poll
5 Feb - 10,000 names needed to spark a referendum
4 Feb - Elected mayor vital - letter
3 Feb - 'They voted for a monkey not a politician' - letter?
3 Feb - 10 steps to the top: the lowdown on how - short summary of process and powers
2 Feb - Backing for debate over elected mayor
28 Jan - Do we want an elected mayor? It's time to ask
28 Jan - Let debate begin
28 Jan - How the leadership idea might work
If ever there was a time to use the comments feature... it is now. Are you with me?
Friday, February 04, 2005
I have also been working on (note the effortless link there) a new website. Vote Leicester is born, to help with blogging the coming election and local politics. There is a new blog there, Leicester Election 2005, that will focus on the coming amusements. Please take yourself over there and have a look and perhaps even get interested in helping out. Feedback most welcome, I'm looking to make plenty of improvements.
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Keith Vaz surgery
Friday 4th February, this Friday, from 4 till 6pm on Uppingham Road near to his office. Exact details will only be revealed to those who have made an appointment, which you can do by ringing (0116) 212 2028.
It's game over Mr Vaz - the public speaks
IT'S GAME OVER, MR VAZ
10:30 - 29 January 2005
It was typical of an ill-informed politician to single out those games in his "name and shame" diatribe (Mercury, January 19) .
The games Keith Vaz chose were easy targets and gave him trite soundbites for the masses.
* Grand Theft Auto 3 (rated 18), a game where you play an ex-criminal taking revenge on other criminals for murdering your family (a plot device used for years in films with no complaint).
* Manhunt (rated 18), a really poor game that shouldn't have been released (poor story, bad game engine, simplistic gameplay), but nevertheless which employed plot devices that have been used in film for many years.
* Carmageddon, unlikely to be played by today's younger gamers as it was published in 1997, and the graphics wouldn't be anywhere near today's standards.
* Duke Nukem, a parody of all the macho big-gun crazy vet films (Commando, Rambo, etc) published in 1994. I can't remember "practising killing on pornographic posters" or pole dancers asking me to kill them.
Next he will be drawing parallels between this tragedy and Columbine, where politicians were quick to blame Doom for that massacre, completely ignoring the surrounding environment.
I'm all for a ratings system (perhaps the one that is already used by software houses?) and adult-themed games should stay in the hands of over 18s only, but what does Mr Vaz plan to do about piracy?
If he succeeds in banning all violent media, including films, of course, like the Deerhunter and Goodfellas, what is he going to do to stop kids getting their consoles chipped for about £5 to £10 and buying pirated games or downloading an ISO image from a peer-to-peer program on the web and burning it to a CD to play on said chipped console?
If this happens, control over what games children play is lost completely; and this also circumvents the responsibility of the parents, who should be monitoring what their kids watch, anyway.
I've been playing games for 25 years and it hasn't harmed me.
I'm well read, literate and numerate, polite and able to do my own research, rather that let someone else do it for me. Mr Vaz doesn't understand gaming culture, and he never shall, by the looks of it.
Frank Marriott, Loughborough.
I felt the whole thing deserved a quote plus it's the closest thing to public input I can manage to get on the blog. Also, to those of us we have the misfortune to regularly read the Mercury the writer is Frank Marriott of Loughborough, not the similarly-named and infamous Frank Evans of Enderby who is so fond of writing letters. When I searched the Mercury site for him my computer almost blew up.
Immigration, emigration and Keith Vaz
A BBC overview, unfortunately lacking in Vaz goodness. Fellow MPs criticise Godsiff, where Vaz accuses him of going beyond "what it is acceptable to say". Anger at Labour MP's call for ban on foreign workers, which goes in to a bit more detail and our Keith says: "He is very lucky because he got elected only because of the Asian community. Maybe he should think again about whether he wants to represent them."
On a more general note some fascinating and amusing facts and figures are wittily deconstructed by David Aaronovitch, Howard's figures add up to jingoism. Quotas should be established on how many of these returning Britons we even want back in, points given to those whose emigration did not involve reality TV of any kind.