Tuesday, January 31, 2006

7 things to do before I die

I knew someone would make me do this ...

7 things to do before I die:

1. Learn to play guitar properly
2. Record an album
3. Work on a US Presidential campaign
4. Visit Iceland
5. Organise a big party for all my friends
6. Do a rock gig as lead singer of a band with a set made up of the best of 70s & 80s rock classics
7. See my children grow up and lead fulfilling lives

7 things I cannot do:

1. Play guitar very well
2. Speak a foreign language
3. Run
4. Avoid being distracted
5. Suffer fools
6. Anything that involves blood or needles
7. Watch Desperate Housewives

7 things that attract me to Abingdon:

1. The Dil Raj
2. The River Thames
3. Bun Throwing
4. Abbey Meadows
5. Old Anchor Inn
6. Near a lot of beautiful countryside
7. London is far enough away to be distant but near enough to be accessible

7 things I often say:

1. “Maybe just a quick half then”
2. “In a minute!”
3. “With the greatest of respect...”
4. “I shouldn't be back too late”
5. “Well where did you last have it?”
6. “Maybe we'll get it for you for your birthday.”
7. “How ya doin'?”

7 books that I love:

1. Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
2. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
3. The Dark Tower series - Stephen King
4. Killigrew RN - Jonathan Lunn (my mate from Uni)
5. Husbands – Adele Parks (another mate from Uni)
6. Mort – Terry Pratchett
7. Executive Orders - Tom Clancy

7 movies I watch over and over again

1. This is Spinal Tap
2. The Blues Brothers
3. Lord of the Rings trilogy
4. The Usual Suspects
5. The Italian Job
6. Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence
7. Se7en

7 people I want to join in too:

Most of the people whose blogs I read have already done this, so I'll do this instead:

7 favorite albums:

1. A Night at the Opera - Queen
2. The Black Album - Metallica
3. Appetite for Destruction - Guns 'n' Roses
4. Afraid of Sunlight - Marillion
5. Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd
6. Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
7. Earth vs. The Wildhearts - The Wildhearts

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Sunday, January 15, 2006


No, not a comment on the speeches yesterday, but news that my favorite Who monsters have been spotted in Cardiff.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Thank You Charles

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the latter part of his leadership I feel very sad that Charles Kennedy has ended up having to stand down as party leader.

I can't claim to know Charles hugely well, but I have met him on many occasions, mainly through work, and I have always been impressed by his personality and politics. He must be going through a difficult time at present and I wish both him and Sarah all the best at what is undoubtedly a very difficult time for them.

At the present time it is easy to forget just how well the party has done while he has been leader. I well remember the period when Paddy finished, and all the questions about whether 1997 would prove to be the party's highpoint. Yet Charles went on to lead us into two further successful General Election campaigns, gaining seats and votes each time. Several of my friends are now MPs as a result.

In my view his impact on the party's ability to take on Labour in its former heartlands - not least by making the right call on Iraq, tuition fees and a host of other issues - is an equally important achievement. Again we should not forget that if, six years ago, you had told political journalists that we would hold parliamentary seats in Brent, Birmingham, Cardiff, Bristol, Manchester and Leeds six years hence, they would simply have laughed.

I also believe that Charles did a good job because he tried to keep the party together politically. His comments today about the direction of the party rang very true with me. He is right to say that
there is a genuine debate going on within this party - somewhat crudely caricatured at times as being in rather redundant terms as between left and right; in rather simplistic terms as between social liberals and economic liberals; in rather misleading terms as between traditionalists and modernisers.

I, and I think the majority of members, do not see myself as either a 'social' liberal or an 'economic' liberal - rather I see myself as a liberal, trying to balance the maximum freedom for the individual, socially and economically, with the need to ensure that the weak and disadvantaged are not left behind.

Also Charles is spot on to argue that It should be a debate driven by ourselves. It must not be allowed to become dictated by others who do not share our long-term hopes and goals. We must stand and argue - politically independent and intellectually self-confident.

We have always done best when we draw up policies based on our liberal principles as applied to today's circumstances and not driven by whatever position either of out main opponents have chosen to adopt this week.

As far as the leadership is concerned I have to be somewhat circumspect because I am a member of party staff. However I will make these general points:

1 We should not fear a leadership contest if there is genuines support within the party for more than one serious candidate. The recent leadership contests in our party, and the even more frequent ones in the Tory party, have not, in themselves, caused problems. They have often been beneficial.

2 Neither, if there is clear and solid support in the parliamentary party for one serious candidate, should we fear an unopposed contest.

3 One way or another we have to move the political debate forward, and preferably not as a battle between two 'wings'. A genuine debate about how to apply our principles to the Britain of today is essential, with or without a contested leadership election.

4 We have to get back to solid, integrated campaigning on the ground, and we have to continue to expand our organisation to enable us to sustain it.

Most importantly of all we have to work together as a united liberal party.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

John Peel book

In an uncharacteristic display of good taste my Dad bought me the John Peel auto/biography for Christmas.

It is one of those books that, once started, it was hard to put down.

The first half of the book was written by Peel himself before he died, the second half written by his wife Sheila with help and support for their children.

Peel's humour, humanity and wit shine throughout his chapters. There were several real laugh out loud moments and a lot of genuinly interesting stories as well. Sheila's half was equally compelling and brought a different perspective to Peel.

If anyone who listened to Peel either on late night Radio One (as I did as a teenager and student) or who enjoyed his dry wit on Home Truths hasn't got hold of a copy yet I would strongly recommend it.

When he died I listened to the tribute programme on the saturday on Radio 4 on my way to a Lib Dem training event and arrived, untypically for me, with tears running down my face. I guess after years of listeneing to him that I felt he was more friend than DJ. This book reinforced that feeling.