30 October 2009

The ACMD Should Resign En Masse

The Home Secretary Alan Johnson has sacked Professor David Nutt, Head of the Academic Council for the Misuse of Drugs, for giving advice about the dangers of drugs. His job.

Clearly the science on drugs is an inconvenient truth in the war on drugs.

But if the government is so determined to ignore the science, why have a body to analyse the science? That's the question I'd be asking if I was and drugs expert on the ACMD panel.

If the government is so insulting that it won't listen to the ACMD, the ACMD should make it known that they are being ignored. What better way than to resign en masse.

The ACMD are clearly just a political football to the government. It's time to take this ball away from the children.

Frankie Boyle on the BNP

In an interview with Frankie Boyle in the Independent, he was asked about Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time. His reply:
I watched it, and I just thought 'this is boring'. He's just a stress ball for people who really caused the problem. Jack Straw is sitting there. You've got essentially a racist government with a racist immigration policy and you've got a scarecrow to point at and say: 'Here's the racist – ooooh, you terrible racist.'

28 October 2009

A Radical Idea for Power2010

Sara Bedford has tagged me to come up with an idea for POWER2010 - a campaign billed as "the chance to have a say in how our democracy works for us all". I wanted to think of a brand new suggestion, away from the agreeable but well-rehearsed arguments for proportional representation, an English parliament, elected House of Lords etc. This is my attempt.

(I say brand new. I've not heard anyone suggest this before. Please let me know if this idea isn't a new one, I'd love to hear more about it.)

I'm 25, and a huge concern I have with our democracy is the lack of interest, and therefore the lack of representation, that the younger end of the electorate have in politics. I also think that the reforms often put forward do little to address this issue. Sure, lowering the voting age to 16 will help the weeniest bit, but nowhere near enough to address the huge imbalance between young and old election turnout.

So to address this, my proposed solution is a major shake-up to the way we vote: Instead of just grouping voters into constituencies based on geography, voters are also grouped based on age.

It would mean that instead of having, say, an MP for Bolton East, there would instead be an MP for 40-to-45-year-olds in the North West of England.

Why would this be a good thing? Well, primarily, it would mean that young people are equally represented compared to old people. So in order for a political party to form a government, they need to attract the youth vote as much as that of middle-aged and the elderly.

It would surely enfranchise the young and increase their turnout, but if young turnouts were still lower, it is no worse than the system we have at present with large variance in the size of the electorate in each constituency.

This electoral reform should work with any voting system. So it could be implemented around the existing first-past-the-post system, or (even better) integrated into a more proportional system.

There would be quite a few administrative difficulties: there would need to be multiple ballot boxes at polling stations, stronger voter registration to ensure ballots are connected to the correct age, etc. I am sure some expensive consultants could be hired to sort these sorts of things out.

I really can't see any real downsides, but if you can, the comments button is yours.

UPDATE: D'oh, it is customary with blogosphere memes to tag bloggers to take on the same challenge, and I forgot. I think I'm going to plump for Charlotte Gore, Thomas Byrne, Constantly Furious, Stuart Sharpe and Eric Fish.

27 October 2009

On the Horizon 27/10/2009

Two cracking posts from Sara Bedford: An over-inflated sense of worth from our favourite MP? looks at the extent of Nadine Dorries's merit that landed her Tory safe seat, and My mother always told me it takes two to tango - maybe someone should tell the Daily Mail… points out the inherent sexism of the nasty rag.

Liberal Vision: Another government scam to fleece us highlights an astonishing new regulation that will force drivers pay legal costs, even if they are found not guilty.

Sarah Ditum: [Infographic] Where are the BNP’s voters? looks at a surprising outcome of a nice graphic from Information is Beautiful.

26 October 2009

Social Engineering, You Say?

Andrew Neather's comments in the Evening Standard on Friday have unsurprisingly been wildly distorted by the right-wing press. Neather responded today to counteract the distortions.

I would like to look at how they chose to misrepresent Neather. There are two lines of attack:
  1. Labour chose an open-borders policy to engineer a more multicultural society.
  2. They did this as part of a cynical attempt to expose the Tories as xenophobes.
The 2nd point is reasonable enough. No policy should be enacted simply as a part of one-upmanship. (Neather's response insists that this "wasn't the main point at issue".)

But the 1st point is nonsense. Social engineering is the government attempting to intervene by influencing or setting limits on people's behaviour, for what it sees as 'good for society'. Social engineering is the antithesis of social liberalism.

'Open borders' is a socially liberal policy that is free from government intervention. It is placing restrictions on immigration that is social engineering; exactly the opposite of what the right-wing press were purporting.

23 October 2009

On The Horizon 23/10/2009

Constantly Furious: Gordo and Griffin: what's the difference? and The Lay Scientist: Quote Comparison: Nick Griffin vs The Daily Mail (and Jan Moir) on the face of it both appear to suffer from guilt by association fallacy, but they are actually making a great point about who is having the real impact.

No Sleep Til Brooklands: Mail now accusing others of racism? FIGHT! on how the paper is hypocritical about when the term 'racist' is thrown about.

Jennie Rigg: Where Are All the Female Bloggers? and Tory Radio: Positive discrimination elsewhere? ask some important questions about gender equality.

Official BNP Bingo Results

(This post follows on from the Question Time BNP Bingo post yesterday.)

I can officially confirm that the result of Question Time BNP Bingo was 18 points.

Well, I say official. I can't bear re-watching it to be honest. I found the whole show an excruciating experience. Particularly Griffin's weird laugh: when deadly serious allegations were being made against him, to be sat there giggling away was creepy.

Anyway, I have had 18 confirmed by another player, with only one difference (accounted for). I am waiting for another friend who got 31 to provide me with his list, but I suspect he was too lenient in his judgement. I have also had a report of 15, but he was clearly slacking. Despicable. (Or, it was my game, therefore my answer is right.)

Here is how the bingo card looked: (Green squares indicate the phrase was used)

While no bonus points were accumulated for consecutive use or completed lines, it came very close. It was just a 'Political Correctness' and a 'White Working Class' from a whopping score of 38.

There were some really close calls with some of the phrases that didn't get used:

  • 'Liberal Elite' wasn't quite said, but Griffin did refer to the "political elite". He meant it in a very similar context, but I decided to be very strict.
  • During the last question on whether the BNP's Christmas had come early for being invited on, the themes around the word 'Censor' were heavily involved, but the word itself was never used. Ooooh, so close!
  • I included 'Knuckle Dragging' as a bit of a joke (it is how Richard Littlejohn refers to the BNP, despite him being the provider of large amounts of their ammunition). However it became surprisingly close to being used, as references to the Neanderthals were frequent.
  • Despite lengthy exchanges about Islam, only 'Muslim' came up; 'Mosque', 'Mullah', and 'Imam' were all not to be (although they came close with "Sheikh").
  • When one of the audience (accidentally?) called Nick "Dick", I thought about whether that should count under 'One-Eyed'. Then I grew up.

Evaluation: the game did what it set out to do: provide a source of distraction to alleviate the tedium. I'm not sure I would have lasted the distance without it.

22 October 2009

BNP Bingo Preliminary Results

Well I got 18, but a friend has said he got 31. Results need validating, possibly with a second iPlayer viewing (Lord help me).

The phrases that I got were:
  • Deport
  • Overcrowded
  • Muslim
  • Racist
  • Fascist
  • Open Borders
  • Homosexual
  • Holocaust
  • Multicultural
  • Christian
  • Benefits
  • Jewish
  • Indigenous
  • 70 Million
  • Asylum Seeker
  • Invasion
  • Establishment
  • Immigrant
A full round-up will come tomorrow.

Labour Climate Change Hypocrisy

In his conference speech just three weeks ago, Gordon Brown said:
And every day we stall on a climate change deal, the people of the world are denied the chance to protect their world.
So given that there is no time to lose to stop catastrophic global warming, you'd have thought Labour would be right behind the 10:10 campaign to cut carbon emissions by 10% in 2010?

Well, yesterday the Lib Dems brought a motion asking the government to back the 10:10 campaign. Here's how they voted:

Con0 13871.9%
DUP1 455.6%
Ind0 466.7%
Lab296 (+2 tell) 1288.8%
LDem0 57 (+2 tell)93.7%
PC0 3100.0%
SDLP0 133.3%
SNP0 685.7%
Total:297 22583.2%

So that would be a resounding 'no' from Labour then. All words, no action.

Question Time BNP Bingo

Tonight's much-hyped Question Time, featuring the fascist BNP leader Nick Griffin, is geared up to be must-watch TV for anyone with a passing interest in politics.

However, I fear it may turn out to be a particularly tedious event.

So, inspired by Dick Puddlecote and Independence Home, I have decided to knock up a print-out BNP Bingo card to help keep your interest in proceedings. It contains lots of words and phrases that often crop up around the inevitable debate around immigration, multiculturalism and its bedfellows.
Download BNP bingo PDF
Let me know if you intend on playing along, and predict a total score. Mucho kudos will go to the person who makes the closest guess!

I'll also be taking part in live chat at Mark Reckons during the broadcast.

13 October 2009

UK Border Atrocity

The UKBA has begun the scientifically flawed, blatantly racist DNA profiling of asylum seekers to determine their ethnicity *ahem* 'nationality'.

73% of children held at UKBA detention centres are developing mental health issues during their captivity. (More than half of these children won't even be deported).

The UKBA is adding extra inconvenience for those claiming asylum by requiring them to attend in person to submit information, and those who can't make their asylum claims during port entry will need to travel to Croydon to make their claim.

Anyway, back to life in civilised society.

12 October 2009

On the Horizon 12/10/2009

Welcome to the first in what will be a regular selection of some of the best blogging of late.

Mark Reckons - Surely the Lib Dems should be doing better than this? - Mark feels that a golden opportunity is being missed. Excellent comments thread.

Richard Wilson - The Parliamentary Question Carter Ruck and Trafigura don’t want you to see - The Guardian are being silenced. Find out what they aren't being allowed to report.

Byrne Tofferings - Welcoming Tony Blair as President - Thomas clarifies what exactly Blair would be President of, and would welcome his appointment (I have reservations).

7 October 2009

The New Look

Well the feedback from my poll on my blog's colour scheme was universally negative. Therefore I've changed to a new template from Marzuki Jalil. I have kept the yellow colouring (personal preference/Lib Dem allegiance), but the main text is on a white background now.

So hopefully your eyes won't try and jump out of your head when reading my headblurts from now on.

No doubt I'll be tweaking things as time goes by. hat black space at the top is crying out to be filled with an image of something...

Rags to Riches

It is normally the formula for social acclaim: from a humble background, a young man uses hard-work and ingenuity to make a success of himself, and becomes a multi-millionaire. His story shows that in our society, through motivation and dedication, anyone can achieve prosperity. It is quintessentially the American Dream, and is a prevailing ethos throughout Western culture.


But Curtis Warren made his fortune from drugs. Today he was convicted of smuggling cannabis, and faces a jail sentence of up to 14 years.

Meanwhile, Ken Clarke, the former head honcho of a rival drug-dealing network, is the Conservative Shadow Business Secretary.

6 October 2009

Panorama "Migrants: Go Home!"

Last night's Panorama looked at the route taken by African migrants and asylum seekers into Europe and the UK. It followed the "chain" of movement through Libya, Italy and France that is being "pushed" back by the authorities. Along the route, migrants experience highly dangerous transportation, cramped, squalid living conditions and political oppression, simply for having the will to move away from violence and extreme poverty.

Phil Woolas justifies these actions as the means to drying up the market exploited by human traffickers:
We call it pushing a chain. It's very difficult to push a chain, but we're trying to push a chain back down the route so that when the people traffickers say 'come this way, you economic migrants, come this way to France or to Germany or Sweden or Britain', we can show that the route is closed.
However without the border controls that produce such stringent limitations on people's ability to move, the traffickers would have no market to exploit. Immigration controls are basically the prohibition of movement, and like all forms of prohibition, it creates far more problems than it solves.

I also can't ignore the Woolas's horrid term "you economic migrants". This is the sort of 'us and them' language that sows the seeds of division and derision.

In particular, anyone who has seen District 9 should watch the show (and anyone who hasn't seen it should; I refer you to Charlotte Gore's spot-on review). The stark similarities between the themes of the film and the documentary show that the film was not just about South African apartheid but also about the way that brutal way humans treat anyone seen as outsiders.

(Handy BBC iPlayer embed code from http://upyourego.com/pip/)