Sunday, March 27, 2005

More Who

I'm still feeling very impressed with the new Doctor Who. The reviews seem to be pretty good generally. Even Sara Cox was singing its praises today on Radio One.

Nick Barlow's review says it all:

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Anne Milton: Nurse. Mother. Dipstick.

Is the excellent Tim Ireland website which analyses the Conservative Campaign in Guildford, Anne Milton being the Tory candidate there.

The Tories seem to be willing to stoop pretty low to try and win the seat back.

You can find the site at

I helped the excellent Sue Doughty a lot in the last election and have seen how hard she has worked since. Ms Milton will have to be pretty lucky to win this one.

Other planets have a North as well, you know ...

Well I loved it. Christopher Ecclestone is an inspired choice and Billie Piper an ideal companion. The TARDIS looked great, the production values and writing is fantastic, and there were just enough in jokes to keep the fans happy without detracting from the plot.

Can't wait for next Saturday!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Buy this book

No, don't worry, not another ALDC campaign manual of mine!

My very good friend from University days Mr Daniel Hall has just had his latest novel 'Killigrew and the Sea Devil' published under his pen name Jonathan Lunn.

This is the latest story in the Killigrew series which follows our hero in a seris of swashbuckling adventures that will appeal to lovers of Sharpe, Hornblower and the like.

If you read all his books you will even find a bit part character called 'Fawcett' crop up somewhere ;-)

I should think you can buy it via the Amazon link on the Lib Dem website, it was also on the shelves in Borders and Waterstones last time I looked. Well worth a read.

Library funding

I am delighted to see that a committee of MPs have raised the issue of library capital funding.

At present we have bene given the usual pile of Government targets that we are supposed to try and meet, along with recommended size of library floorspace for any given population, but the Government allocated no capital funding to expand libraries. Nope, not a dime.

In Oxfordshire nearly all our main town libraries are way below the size they should be, because of decades of housing growth.

Despite these constraints I am glad to say that we have ben bucking the national trend of decline and actually getting more people into our libraries, buying more books and lending more out.

We have been able to do some redevelopments by some pretty clever schemes thought up by our staff.

We have just been able to commit funding for a new library in Thame as well, which i am delighted about.

BUT - we are only scratching the surface. With some real cash we could transform out town libraries and turn them into local centres offering traditional library services and much, much more. Libraries should be the base for the delivery of range of council and infromation services. They should have faciltities for every age group - parent and toddler sessions, child and teen sections, homework areas, book clubs, pensioner clubs, IT access and the rest.

Libraries can play a serious role in supporting learning for children and adults, for expanding aspirations and informing and engaging people.

And it wouldn't cost that much to act as a catalyst for real and rapid progress.

The Government claims to want to see all this happen, but they haven't so far put their money where their mouth is.

Tax and spend

I see the Tories (and even Labour occasionally) continue to attack our tax policies, particularly Local Income Tax with shocking tales about how 'middle income' types will be worse off, alledgedly.

They then demonstrate this by showing how the average Headteacher, or households of several young professionals, would pay more than they do now.

Perhaps they ought to look at the IFS website (to which there is a useful link at and see where such people sit on the range of household incomes.

Without giving too much personal information away I was slightly surprised to see just how high up the income scale my household is. I would pay a bit more in LIT than I currently do in Council Tax.

Most households in my ward, families on incomes around or below national average, would pay a lot, lot less though. And quite rightly so.

One of the most shocking things about this Government is that after eight years those on the lowest incomes still pay a bigger share of their income in tax than those eanring the most. If Lib Dem policies move things just slightly in the other direction then this is a policy to be proud of.

And those who harp on about the losers should aquaint themselves with hte facts about what most households actaully live on. It's quite right that headteachers, and other households, in the top 10% of incomes should pay more.

Health matters

I am delighted that health is back at the forefront of the election campaign.

In Oxfordshire we are once again seeing serious problems in the local 'health economy' as the local PCTs struggle with budget problems as the end of the year approaches.

On top of that we have two Minor Injury Units in local Community Hospitals closed currently.

I do hope labour will be able to explain how such things are still happening after eigh years in power.

Not long to wait now ...

Yes, like quite a lot of Lib Dem activists I am getting very excited about the forthcoming battle between the forces of right and reason and the dark side.

That's right, only sixteen days until Doctor Who returns to our screens.

I know this because in an effort to prove that I am as sad as the rest of them I have now downloaded my Doctor Who screen saver!

Whether my children quite understand what they are about to be exposed to I don't know, but we have already moved the sofa a foot forward just in case.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Institutional racism

I watched tonight's BBC documentary about racism and intimidation in an Immigration 'Reception' Centre with a sense of sadness, unease and shame.

That this country's immigration system can allow such behaviour is shocking. The people in these centres have committed no crime, many have faced persecution in their home countries, and many will end up being allowed to stay.

And for a Government which claims that 'child protection' is one of its top priorities to allow any child to be locked up in such a place is utter hypocricy.

To think that a Labour Government is so concerned about out-flanking the Tories that they have allowed such a situation to develop is appalling.

But then this programme comes on the same day that the newspapers report comments by Government Minister Hazel Blears who apparantly thinks British Muslims should 'expect' to be discriminated against by the Police.

I feel ashamed that these things are happening in my country.