Web Analytics Trust People (once an Englishman in Philly): 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Football update

Went to my first Bromsgrove Rovers match back after University on Saturday. George Rooney has finally been sacked...ooops....I mean 'resigned due to other work commitments'. Steve Pope, the skipper, has taken over as caretaker assistant manager and we've signed Andy Sinton, the former England international. At 38 he put in a brilliant performance as we overcame Evesham 2-1 at home.

They scored in the 68th (from a dubious free-kick) after we'd missed a penalty and numerous other opportunities to put ourselves ahead: we could have had 3 or 4 by half-time. It looked at that stage as if it was season over for us...we just couldn't finish it. Then up popped Paul Scewczyk to grab two in the last three minutes. The then showed that we can still summon up a damn good atmosphere!

It was a much better showing from a team which now has a little bit of class and a lot more team spirit. We may just make the Premier yet!

Blueprint for blue disaster?

I agree immensely with what Free Democrat has to say about the EU Constitution. I also feel that there is a need for a single unifying, clarifying Treaty (whether it's called a constitution is for me irrelevant as both States and Golf Clubs (of the house variety) have such things). My concern with this one, and why we should not sign it, is that it is gold-plated. The direction of power shifts from member states upwards to a system under which power is effectively delegated downwards; since the Commission and institutions of the EU are in place 'forever'.


I am also concerned that this is a convenient trap into which Mr Blair can lure Mr Howard. It should be opposed and it should be clear the Conservatives oppose it. Nevertheless, Mr Howard should be very wary of sleep-walking into the situation where the Party's relationship with Europe verges on the obsessive...especially on an issue which is such a turn-off with much of the public.

Top-ups poll top

And so it happened.

The Government proved itself to be invincible again as Higher Education continues on its downward spiral in a bid to try to make up for the failings of schools at University. And now it'll cost ya...

Sir Edward, hurry up and...

So Howard is too old to be PM, at 62, according to Ted Heath. Odd then that Sir Edward himself was 59 in 1975 when he fought Margaret Thatcher for the Tory Party leadership. That would have made him 64 during the 1979 General Election....

It must be his age getting to him!

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Fat Chesire Cats

I saw a great programme called 'The Mayfair Set' last night on UKTVDocumentaries, about the control of business and businessmen on was all about Sir James Goldsmith and his role in the US 'junk bonds' of the early 80s... I shall blog on it soon!

If it's not hurting it's doing no good...

Harry's Place is spot on in quoting Congress-man Barney Frank:

"When you're engaged in a political fight, if you're doing something that really, really, really makes you feel good then it's probably not the best tactic."

I think this links in to some of Howard's success.

Michael Howard really beginning to appear a PM-in-waiting. On the Today programme today, under some quite tricky questioning, he was consummate and came over very well.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Bugging me...

I don't wish to be cynical, but was it a stomach bug?

I'm back

I'm back. And after a very productive week indeed. The Law Conference went splendidly.

As part of it we had a debate in the Cambridge Union 'This House demands Positive Discrimination for Fair University Access', which I found fascinating. Despite a very diverse range of Sixth Form students there, the overwhelming support was against this sort of measure. What we want in this country is a genuine meritocracy, not the planning of this Government to force us into the sort of country which has the 'right numbers' of different sorts of people in different places. That is not diversity, nor is it healthy. It is the most dangerous sort of state interference which is most open to abuse.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Was it ETA or someone more synister?

Either way I think it is useful for the Spanish authorities to use it to swing public opinion behind them for any actions that they've seen as necessary but unpopular for a while.

More worryingly is the list of places targeted. Any obvious omissions so far?

Britain must be prepared: both to thwart any similar attempts and to deal with the aftermath. More to the point Britons must be resilient and prepared. We must be prepared to cope with such tragedy and to meet the enemies of our society and civilisation head-on. We must also develop a will of iron and nerves of steel to pursue the course and values which we know are right. We should not be cowed by cowardly threats and blackmail but must defiantly continue our daily lives to show this dark danger that we will never let it triumph.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Paucity of posts: doing my bit for access

If posts get slow/ non-existent in the next few days then fear not. i shall be back. The Cambridge University Sixth Form Law Conference is kicking off with a whole bunch of sixth formers coming to stay in Cambridge colleges to learn about law at Cambridge and to see that we're not old-Etonian freaks (well not all of us anyway); and I'm in charge. As a result I may well have to put the blogosphere on hold momentarily! Sorry...

Thursday, March 11, 2004


After Dunblane I was naturally as shocked and disturbed as the next man, but I did say that all that happens when you have bans on carrying guns and you stop, or make it more difficult for honest people to have them for honest purposes, is you burden them. Criminals will always be able to get hold of them somehow. It is the people who genuinely want them for respectable purposes who lose out.

What is needed is action against the causes of serious violent and gun crime, a system to try and weed out people who may lose their minds and commit atrocities and an acceptance that, sad though it is, there will always be some nutters out there who we don't and can't know about.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Taking the Earl Grey...

Unbelievable. Why on earth do we need Europe-wide regulation of tea breaks? We need sensible co-operation on issues where co-operation is specifically better than unilateral competition and protectionism.

I can't help but have some sympathy with Laban Tall...

They're Back !

The Tipton Taleban return. Initial reports are that their first question on arriving at Heathrow was 'Can you tell me the time of the next flight to Baghdad ?'.

Littlejohn doesn't seem too chuffed, but all right-thinking people will be delighted that these innocents, so cruelly snatched from their backpacking holidays, are out of the clutches of the Great Satan. Allahu Akhbar, as Terry Waite would say.

The whole thing does seem to have been blown up disproportionately.

Ilkeston Town 2 -2 Bromsgrove Rovers

Two points thrown away. 2-0 up against a side that hasn't won at home since september and we end up drawing. I don't think there is enough team spirit to carry us through. It'll be a stressful few weeks with eight games left...

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Back in business

I haven't had time to post on this yet, what with the end-of-term shenanigans and my busy last week but I've finally got round to it.

I thought that Howard's speech at Harrogate on sunday was consummate, well-crafted, clever, witty and brilliantly prepared the battleground for the next election. Now we shall see what New Labour's true colours are...

For too long they have got away with the rhetoric of choice and trust of people, but now they've lost the people's trust and seem genuinely short on ideas that aren't fairly 'Old Labour'-orientated.

It looks like Liam Fox was right.

More LibDem fudging...

I'm sorry but I couldn't resist...

I received the following extract from an email from the Cambridge Liberal Democrat students this morning:

"Further to Ben's email, I'd like to try and further persuade you to come to
the AGM, so...

(i) I've just spent £12 of my own money on fudge! So come to the meeting
and eat it! I may even bring some wine..."

What? More LibDem fudging?!

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Yate 2 -1 Bromsgrove Rovers

Oh dear...still other results went our way and I believe that the manager of one of our rivals to go up, Halesowen Town, have just off-loaded their manager!

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Censorship and free speech

This week Cambridge University Students Union had its annual elections. One of the candidates for the weighty portfolio of 'Welfare Officer', Tim Stanley, made some pretty dumb and unamusing remarks during a series of 'husts' held around the University. Now they were not going to help him and I would be frustrated as anyone that that was all the election descended into, but the powers-that-be banned him from speaking at any more hustings. I was staggered by this. There is a political grouping which decides what views you may and may not express in order to get elected.

You ought to be able to say anything at all (within the law) - if it is so wrong and offensive then it will not help your cause at the ballot box. God forbid that any of these nanniers gets anywhere near an office where they actually have any power.

Hikes? Yikes!

I do find developments like this massive increase in Chinese defence spending have a distinctly sobering effect. The biggest challenge of this century is going to be how we can compete and relate to China and deal with its enormous internal market. Many, especially France and Germany I believe, think that access to a large, but still relatively small, market in the EU will enable us to weather the storm if we can be protectionist enough. The only real way is to ensure we keep a flexible, adaptable economy that isn't overly fettered by legislation, regulation and drains by the state so that we can change to meet new challenges. We do not have a god-given right to create enough money to be able to guarantee the minimum wage for ever.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Corridors of power

Sorry for the sparse postings in the last few days. Yesterday I had a 'Westminster Day' going to watch Prime Minister's Questions before a reception and then dinner at the Carlton Club with its Chairman. It was thoroughly enjoyable and very entertaining with two particular events sticking out.

On entering the Carlton Club I had the fantastic excitement of seeing Maggie Thatcher herself coming out and had to hold the door open for her. She's still not lost ne sais quoi.

Whilst chatting with Michael Howard he assured me that I 'had launched his leadership challenge'. I asked if I could quote him on that, he agreed, so here it is specially for you!

The other momentous event of yesterday was Lord Woolf's speech at the Law Faculty, much reported, tearing into the government's disastrous constitutional tinkerings. They are either unnecessary or wrong, just like the waste of time which is the renaming of the Crown Prosecution Service. What an exciting day!

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

To boldly go

Great little article on the attitude of the EU and the new space race.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Breaking news for breaking inquiry

Oh dear...and then there was one (party involved in the inquiry). Blair has a quandary now. Back down and let it be seen that Howard is setting the agenda in a responsible way or push ahead with what is now becoming a joke of an inquiry and be hit very hard from a number of perspectives. The only ones one will possibly be happy with the inquiry are those who are happy anyway. All it can do now is make his situation worse...but the alternative is barely better.

Nice one Mickey H!

(On a related issue, I love it when they use 'staff and agencies' for newspaper reports they want to be anonymous.)

What do we do with the dodgy legal advice?

The Government is, of course, right on this. Legal advice given by a member of government should be confidential as it was given in a confidential manner. What puts them in dodgy ground is that a summary of the legal argument was published before we went to war. If it was good enough for Mr Blair to justify himself then, surely now we should be equally 'informed'?

Isn't it Haiti-ful

This tragic escalation of events in Haiti really is very sad and chilling. I have been following the developments for a while now, mostly courtesy of the Independent, and the coverage from reporters who were themselves trapped in Port-au-Prince, as they charted the capital's descent into anarchy really made me consider how lucky we are to have such a strong and just rule of law in this country. I have always thought that the worst experience possible would be to witness and be part of a descent away from a civilised country into a muderous urban jungle. Thankfully we have seen (comparatively) quick and decisive action from a willing international community.

Who are you?

I am a great convert to the blogging world and the great powers which it has for debate and also for political campaigning. Having just been 'outed' as a blogger on the LDYS chat-forum though I am acutely aware of the problems that come with an identity being unascertainable from behind a computer screen. This, for me, is the next big hurdle for the internet community. Recently I seem to have been mistakenly 'identified' on the Union forum in Cambridge to which I've never typed a word. The ability to misrepresent and create a stir is even greater in this medium than in the traditional world of politics!