Friday, June 30, 2006


A couple of Labour bloggers, Antonia Bance and Kerron Cross, are having a bit of a spat at the moment which started with a discussion about All Women Shortlists but it now seems to have developed into a discussion about class and how it is defined.

My background is solidly working class. My dad was a bus inspector and my mum a housewife. We lived in a council house in an area of Glasgow which is one of the most deprived. I went to the local comprehensive. I had two holidays before the age of 18 because that's all my parents could afford.

I then went to University (only one of three from my year at school) and immediately got a job working for the Conservative Party. I left there after five years and got a job in a charity. My salary now is almost 3 times what my dad earned when he was made redundant - although I still can't even consider buying a house. I live in a two-car family and go on good holidays - in the past three years I have been to Barbados, Kenya and Cuba. I like going out to dinner and the theatre. I would appear to be middle class.

So what am I? I don't know and that's one of the reasons I don't like categorising people by "class" - it doesn't take into account individual circumstances and ghettoises people in one of three very indiscriminate categories.

But I would like to know - background or current status, which is more important?

Idiot SNP

I always knew SNP members were morons. Now there is conclusive proof. My poor dad came last in the Glasgow listings for the Scottish Parliament elections next year. He would make a better MSP than any of the rest particularly that bloody idiot Sandra White, now he'll just have to go out and win Glasgow Shettleston First Past the Post.

He knew he was never going to get elected, but bottom of the pile is just rubbish.

I am very narked off.

A win - but a wasted opportunity

So Bob Neill won then. I'm not sure that it was ever in real doubt, although the sharp fall in the majority surprised me. But the Bromley & Chislhurst by-election was a wasted opportunity which so nearly went badly wrong.

The death of Eric Forth allowed the Party to show how far it had progressed both in PR and professional terms. Instead it was a shambolic disaster. Before I start let me just give a health warning - I wasn't there, I'm making all my comments from what I have read and heard. In other words my judgements are based on the same info that the majority of punters base their judgements on.

1 It was the perfect opportunity to show that the A-list had teeth and that it would change the face of the Conservative Party. Instead the local Association dug their heels in and selected a white, middle-aged, pin-stripe wearing solicitor. As I read on another site - he looked like a Tory from the 80s. A lot of middle-aged white men may be the best choice for a seat. I have my doubts in this case, and so it seems do the people of B&C.

2 The World Cup poster looked brilliant. It was a great theme and showed a bit of humour, style, awareness of life outside politics. Then got spoiled by the fact that a copyrighted image had been used without permission. The kind of amateur mistake that shouldn't happen with so many people on board.

3 Talking of amateur - why were trainee agents running sector offices? Of course it was right to put trainee agents into the by-election. But running a sector office is a tough, stressful job for fully qualified and experienced agents, why was one trainees first day in the job (literally) running their own sector office? Put your best and most experienced people in charge and let the new guys learn from their experiences.

4 David Cameron is the most popular Conservative Party leader in decades. Why didn't he feature prominently in the campaign and the literature? Yes people vote on local issues but if you have an asset you damn well use it.

5 The bloody nomination fiasco. What the hell possessed Bob Neill to sign a declaration of nomination saying that he had read the House of Commons Disqualification Act and wasn't disqualified from standing when he damn well was disqualified as a member of a Strategic Health Authority. Thank God the Authority is being disbanded today or we would be looking at another by-election - or worse had "votes thrown away" been notified which would have allowed the Lib Dems to take a petition to the High Court and very possibly be awarded the win. Knowing that the SHA was being abolished why didn't he just resign the day his nomination papers were lodged. It was stupid and arrogant. He deserved to lose for that alone. Election Law is there for a reason.

6 Ungracious speech. Yes, yes, yes the Lib Dems are the smuggest, dirtiest fighters in politics. But you won. You looked like a bitter, twisted, angry, Nasty Party member. Not a good first speech.

So what's the answer? I don't know how we have more diverse candidates selected without removing the autonomy of local associations, but some of the mistakes made were just stupid. Upgrade, don't downgrade the campaigning department of CCHQ. Start to treat Agents as the professionals you love to claim that they are. Make sure that Agents Training encompasses more knowledge of election law. Use the brightest and the best at all times. Set up a dedicated by-election team who all know what is going on.

Phew - that's perhaps enough ranting for a Friday morning - time to go do some work.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The End is Nigh??

Released Foreign Prisoner commits murder

Will this hasten the end of St Tony? While I don't think every foreign prisoner should necessarily be deported, this will surely be another news cycle that will be very damaging for the Government.

Still, no doubt Dr Reid will come up with a tabloid friendly policy to try to cover it up.

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen TV Shows I Love

1. The West Wing
If only every politician was like Jed Bartlett...

2. 24
I love Kiefer Sutherland in this, but face it - you'd never want to work in CTU.

3. House
House really is a Mr Grumpy-Pants, but that's why we love him.

4. The A-Team
My favourite TV show as a kid - I had the biggest crush on Dirk Benedict.

5. Spooks
Losing its way slightly, but as long as Harry stays in it's ok. (Called MI-5 in the US)

6. Friends
The best comedy ever. Period.

7. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
And Spike became my favourite from the moment he first graced the screen.

8. Judge John Deed
Ah, if only every Judge was like John Deed....

9. Everybody Loves Raymond
I have a fear of living too close to my in-laws and this is exactly why. Marie would be a saint in comparison.

10. Doctor Who
The new Russell T Davies series have been great and Billie Piper has been a revelation. It's about time there was a seriously sexy Doctor and David Tennant fits the bill.

11. Any nature series by David Attenborough
The greatest TV natural historian. Life in the Freezer is a masterpiece.

12. Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere
Peter Kay's funniest characters.

13. The Professionals
This is how the security services should act (or over-act). Bad perms and fast cars.

Everyone here has said hi. Go visit them.

1. Mommy at Home
2. Reverberate58
3. Red
4. Carmen
5. Dawn
6. Susan
7. Christine
8. Mrs Cranky Pants
9. tlc
10. Pink Chihuahua Princess
11. Wrigley
12. Norma

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Who Dies Then?

JK Rowling has admitted that two characters are to be killed off in the final Harry Potter book. So who will it be?

My guesses are:

Voldemort - after all, no matter how savage and sad the final battle must be, good must ultimately win.
Neville Longbotton - who'll die in a brave but ultimately foolish attempt to avenge his parents and save his friends.

I am going to stick my neck out and say that I'm fairly sure that Harry, Hermione and Ron will all survive.

I also wouldn't be surprised if others including Mr Weasley die. Of course I could be totally wrong. Would welcome other thoughts and theories.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Farewell the Socceroos

So Australia are out of the World Cup. I suppose I'll have to support England now. Australia really were stars of the World Cup and were the better team today - pity they didn't get the ball in the back of the net.

Cheating Italian cretins. There is no way that was a penalty - the bampot fell over and they cheated their way to the quarter-finals. So I'll now be supporting England and whoever is playing against Italy.

Moaning Wummin Tennis Players

Wimbledon starts today. I love Wimbledon and between this and the World Cup I'll be spending most of my time watching sport over the next couple of weeks. But it's time for the annual whine from women tennis players about inequality of pay and how they should be paid the same as their male counterparts.


At Wimbledon a man's match is the best of five sets, a woman's is the best of three. Women don't do the same job as men in this particular tournament. In those tournaments where both men and women play the best of three sets then of course the pay should be exactly the same, but at Wimbledon men are paid more because they do more work.

Women's matches are best of three because it is regarded that women don't have the physical strength or stamina to cope with five sets - that is patently nonsense, I wouldn't like to tell Venus or Kim that they had less stamina than Andy Roddick because I very much doubt it's true - but they can't have it both ways.

If women played five set matches they should be paid the same as men, but they don't. £30,000 less for potentially hours and hours less work... not a bad deal.

Let's not worry about how much money very very rch people earn, but focus on the fact that a woman who works full time will earn 17% less than a man in full time work and that women are still working in the lowest paid jobs in Britain. Why do some sectors such as Banking have gender pay gaps of over 40%?

So Venus et al, while I believe strongly in equal pay for equal work, excuse me if I don't shed a tear for you earning only £625,000 for two weeks work.

There Is A God

Was at a party on Saturday night and one of the other girls there was the type who makes normal humans sick. Really a very pretty girl, slim, long blonde hair and she seemed like a very nice girl. Enough to make you scream. Then I noticed her greyish bra strap. That made me feel much better. Even the perfect are only human, there is hope for the rest of us after all.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Graham Poll - Send Him Home or Not?

On balance: Not.

We all make mistakes, sometimes bigger than others and to make such a major boo-boo in front of millions of people is a horror story. The embarrasment alone will be enough of a punishment.

It was a busy match, the Croats were being so stroppy that its not surprising he got flustered. Anyone would. I want to know where were the other officials, why didn't one of them pop up to say, handball, rugby tackle on Viduka, you've booked that bloke before and haw pal - there was a good goal there just as you blew your whistle. There are four officials, surely one of the assistants noticed the mistakes?

Send him home - no. But don't allow him to officiate at the final either. Accept that people make mistakes and don't resort to a blame culture.

Refugee Week - Friday

Today I'm not going to focus on one particularly refugee who has made a difference to Britain. But instead the many thousands of "ordinary" people who do "ordinary" jobs and contribute to our country. The nurses, cleaners, shop-keepers, lawyers, accountants, businesspeople, journalists, authors, the 1,073 asylum seeker/ refugee doctors on the BMA database, scientists, the 1500 refugee teachers in the UK. And so many more.

Yes, there is a problem with unlimited immigration to the country. Yes, the South-East of England has too many houses and a lack of supporting infrastructure. Yes, asylum seekers who commit horrid crimes betray this country and the help they have received. BUT.

The vast majority of refugees who settle in Britain contribute to well-being of our country and we should focus on this and not the minority who shouldn't be here and try to approach the issue with a clear head.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Refugee Week - Thursday

Michael Marks came to Britain as a Russian born Polish refugee. In 1884 he opened his first stall at Leeds Kirkgate market. In 1894 he formed a partnership with Tom Spencer. That partnership Marks & Spencer launched one of Britain's most successful and respected brands and over the years has employed thousands of people.

Refugees to Britain aren't new - they've been coming to our country for centuries and have and will continue to create businesses and employment.

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about Louise

Thirteen books on my shelf that I haven't read yet.

1. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
I held off for so long before buying it, but have to wait until I forget the film to read it.

2. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
A funny book about suicides? We'll see.

3. The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid
I love Val McDermid. One of the best thriller authors in the world.

4. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
I've been told how brilliant this book is.

5. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
I love Dickens, but always seem to have a bit of trouble with this one.

6. Guilty Pleasures by Laurel K Hamilton
A horror story about a vampire hunter. Hope it's not just a Buffy rip-off.

7. The Mysterious Mr Quin by Agatha Christie
Possibly my favourite author, I have several of her books still to read.

8. Laidlaw by William McIlvaney
A crime thriller set on the mean streets of Glasgow.

9. Indelible by Karin Slaughter
I just discovered Karin Slaughter last year and would recommend her highly. Just not to the faint hearted.

10. An Act of Peace by Ann Widdecombe
I've enjoyed Miss Widdecombe's books much more than I thought I would. Well written and sensitive.

11. When the Wind Blows by James Patterson
I can take or leave Patterson. I prefer the Women's Murder Club books to the Alex Cross ones. I see this one going to a charity shop when I finish.

12. The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud by Ben Sherwood.
A birthday present from a year and a half ago. Will get round to it soon.

13. To Be The Best by Barbara Taylor Bradford
The follow up to A Woman of Substance. I like trashy novels.

There's about another 20 books that I've not read yet, perhaps when Thursday Thirty-Seven is launched we'll go through them all. Any reviews or suggestions of other books you think I might like would be welcome.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. Natalie
2. Carmen
3. Kailani
4. Elle
5. PatentPrincess

6. Scouser

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Summer Solstice

Today is the summer solstice and the great unwashed masses are loitering around Stonehenge as always. I don't "get" Stonehenge, I don't understand why people are so fussed about it.

Perhaps my bitterness comes from having to drive past the damn thing everytime I go to Somerset to visit the in-laws. The A303 should be a dual carriageway and it isn't, partly because of Stonehenge's proximity to the road. If that wasn't bad enough, people always slow down to have a gawk.

But, worse to come. Driving past the bloody thing on Sunday when all the camper vans were wending their way there was not fun. 40 minutes to drive 5 miles.

Knock it down.

Refugee Week - Wednesday

Peter Paduh won the award for Young Business Person of the Year in 2005. This is an award which celebrates the drive and talent shown by young business people. Peter came to the UK from Bosnia in 1993 and ten years later set up which recycles and reuses IT and equipment.

More on Peter can be found here

Story and image from the Refugee Week website.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Refugee Week - Tuesday

Elvis Ndhuhkire is a Ugandan citizen seeking asylum in the UK. In 2005 Elvis received a Year of the Volunteer award for his work with the Refugee Council and St George's Crypt Leeds for the homeless.

More details on Elvis and his work can be found here and his point about asylum seekers not being allowed to work is one that is worthy of further debate.

(Image and story shamelessly lifted from the Refugee Week website)

Monday, June 19, 2006


Sometimes regulation is a good thing....

Refugee Week

Today marks the start of Refugee Week.

Hopefully we will see some positive news stories about the benefits many refugees and immigrants have brought to Britain, rather than the usual bad news stories.

Many immigrants, many of whom have been refugees from conflict, famine, human rights abuses and extreme poverty have added to the cultural, political, economic wellbeing of our country. They should be welcomed not castigated.

Each day this week (if I remember!!!) I will highlight one immigrant's own positive story.

Ben Helfgott is a Holocaust Survivor who came to Britain in 1945. Ben is the only known concentration camp survivor who competed in an Olympic Games and captained the British weightlifting teams in the 1956 and 1960 Olympics.

Ben now dedicates his time to furthering the cause of the Holocaust Remembrance and Education.

Ben Helfgott's Story

Megan's Law/Sarah's Law

The Home Secretary's pronouncements that we may be adopting our own version of Megan's Law here in England concerns me. I hope that Gerry Sutcliffe's fact finding trip to America is a genuine fact-finding one and that he will listen to all sides of the srgument.

It seems to me that the Home Office is in such a shambles at the moment that John Reid is making a series of announcements designed to please the tabloid mob, rather than genuinely protect public safety.

I have real problems with Megan's Law, or Sarah's Law as it will be known here. Does letting parents know where sex offenders live protect children? If there is imperical evidence that it does then I would support it, it just seems to me that it can't be proved. More than 80% of child sex abuse victims are targeted by family members or family friends - this new law will do nothing to protect them. Paedophiles will go to where children are - this list will simply send them out of their own areas to look for victims. It will also increase the likliehood of recently released criminals going underground and out of contact with their parole officers.

We'll also have the spectacle of the mob hounding people out of their homes because they have a name like someone on the list - God help all the innocent John Smiths out there. And the paediatricians and podiatrists? They're just asking for it with a name like that.

I would rather see much tougher sentences in the first place with the option of NEVER releasing convicted child sex offenders if they are deemed to still pose a risk.

But where does it stop? I don't have children but the thought of a rapist living next door isn't appealing to me, nor frankly is the idea of a convicted violent robber or house-breaker.

Better that the Home Office concentrate on amending existing legislation, abolishing automatic right of release after half a sentence is served and the third of a tariff being knocked off for pleading guilty. Ensure that the public are secure in their trust of sentencing and probation and you won't have to resort to these ridiculous headline grabbing efforts.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

It's Thuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrsday

Thirteen Things about Louise

The Musicals
1 Les Miserables - the best stage musical ever
2 Singin' In The Rain - the best film musical ever!

3 Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
4 Calamity Jane
5 Moulin Rouge - brought the movie musical screaming into the 21st century
6 Annie
7 West Side Story
8 Evita - both the stage and movie version, Madonna doesn't disappoint
9 Jesus Christ Superstar
10 Oklahoma - Hugh Jackman made a wonderful Curly
11 Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat - Pharoah as Elvis. Pure Genius
12 Miss Saigon
13 Pirates of Penzance - more operetta than musical, but still deserving.

And the one I don't like - South Pacific, don't know why but it just leaves me cold.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Carmen

2. Wystful 1
3. Mary
4. Kelly
5. Friday's Child
6. Pixie Princess Mom
7. Lady Jane

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Thursday, June 08, 2006


We are going camping at the weekend! Me - the girl who thinks anything less than 5 star is slumming it.

What's the betting that the only part of Britain to be rained upon this week will be Cornwall and I'm sitting in a tent the whole time. Have warned that if we come back next week and have hated camping then the whole set-up is going on E-Bay. Still - I intend to enjoy. Last holiday I had was last July and since then have lost my job, moved house, had two close family members die, my husband has left his job. Is it any wonder I need a break. Would rather be going back to the Caribbean.

We're thinking about Aruba later in the year. Any info out there?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Another Thursday, Another Thirteen

Thirteen Things about Louise

My favourite music
1 Billy Joel - and I'm going to see him on 10th July. YAY
2 The Beautiful South
3 Deacon Blue
4 Les Miserables - the 10th Anniversary Concert is especially good
5 Elton John
6 Ella Fitzgerald
7 Frank Sinatra
8 Kirsty MacColl
9 Madonna
10 The Planets - Gustav Holst
11 Otis Redding
12 The Beatles
13 Rick Astley - was one of my first ever crushes
Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!

1. Cheryl
2. Fated Hearts
3. Tricia
4. Lady Daria
5. Chaotic Mom
6. Scouser
7. Red
8. Tanya
9. Wystful1
10 Moogie
11 Cheeky
12 Ardice
13 K T Cat
14 Moonlight
15 Reverberate58
16 Twiga 92
17 Jennifer Sprague
18 Chi
19 Lisa
20 Melli
21 Emily Rose Jewel
22 Pink Chihuhua Princess
23 Dawn
24 Yellow Rose
25 Cristie
26 Janet
27 Sonya
28 tnchick
29 txsoapmom
30 Lifecruiser
31 Friday's Child
32 Undercover Angel
33 Liberty Belle

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!