Not Ashamed day – December 1st

A snap of the Christmas Tree outside Newbury Town Hall.

Tomorrow’s is “Not Ashamed Day“. At the behest of a friend, I have signed the “Not Ashamed” declaration, which reads:

WE BELIEVE that Jesus Christ is good news for our nation. He is the only true hope and solid foundation for our society.

WE CALL on government, employers and other leaders in our country to protect the freedom of Christians to participate in public life without compromising biblical teaching and to promote in our society the values that are revealed through Jesus Christ and that have so shaped our nation, for the good of all.

UPDATE 23:16 1st December: After reading comments from Ekklesia, Bishop of Croydon and others, I have withdrawn my name as a signatory of this declaration. I should never have signed it in the first place.

See also:

Sarah Palin ripped apart by her own side

Joe Scarborough, MSNBC host and former conservative congressman from Florida, has really laid into Sarah Palin. He’s written a remarkably withering attack in a column for Politico.

What has particularly riled Scarborough are Palin’s recent swipes on Ronald Reagan and George H.W.Bush. Scarborough says that Republicans should “man up” and tell the truth about Palin. The article is a wonderful read. It is an excorciating assessment of the Wasilla Whirlwind, using a good degree of sarcasm:

After Palin mocked Reagan’s credentials, the TLC reality show star took aim at the 41st president and his wife. Borrowing again from old left-wing attacks that Democrats used against GOP presidents, Palin channeled Ann Richards by bashing Bush and his wife as “blue bloods” who had wrecked America.

Palin was perturbed that a former president and his wife would dare to answer a question about whom they preferred for president in 2012. Perhaps her anger was understandable. After all, these disconnected “blue bloods” had nothing in their backgrounds that could ever make them understand “real America” like a former governor from Alaska who quit in the middle of her first term and then got rich.

Maybe Richards and Palin were right. Maybe poor George Herbert Walker Bush was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Indeed, he was so pampered growing up that on his 18th birthday, the young high school graduate enlisted in the armed forces. This spoiled teenager somehow managed to be the youngest pilot in the Navy when he received his wings, flying 58 combat missions over the Pacific during World War II. On Sept. 2, 1944, “Blue Blood” Bush almost lost his life after being shot down by Japanese anti-aircraft fire.

With his engine shattered and his plane on fire, Bush still refused to turn back, completing his mission by scoring several damaging hits on enemy targets. His plane crashed in the Pacific, where he waited for four hours in enemy waters until he was finally rescued. For his bravery and service to this country, Bush was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, three air medals and the Presidential Unit Citation for bravery while in combat.

What a spoiled brat.

I suppose Palin’s harsh dismissal of this great man is more understandable after one reads her biography and realizes that, like Bush, she accomplished a great deal in her early 20s. Who wouldn’t agree that finishing third in the Miss Alaska beauty contest is every bit as treacherous as risking your life in military combat? Maybe the beauty contestant who would one day be a reality star and former governor didn’t win the Distinguished Flying Cross, but the half-termer was selected as Miss Congeniality by her fellow contestants..

You can read the full article here

Prince Andrew Wikileak – hasn't the US Ambassador seen "Yes, Minister"?

I’ve just read the Telegraph article giving full details of Prince Andrew’s brunch in some where I’ll have to Google to check the spelling and location – Kyrgyzstan. It’s in between Uzbekistan and China.

I can’t say I am in the slightest bit surprised or alarmed by the Prince’s reported remarks.

First of all, it seems that the US ambassador, who reported the remarks, is labouring under the misapprehension that the Royals have some direct power in the UK. They don’t. So they can make remarks at private brunches as much as they like, it won’t mean that the government will automatically follow their lead.

Secondly, the ambassador does not appear to understand British humour. Perhaps she should watch “Yes, Minister”. Particularly this bit:

Sir Humphrey Appleby: [talking about nuclear fallout shelters] Well, you have the weapons; you must have the shelters.
James Hacker: I sometimes wonder why we need the weapons.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Minister! You’re not a unilateralist?
James Hacker: I sometimes wonder, you know.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, then, you must resign from the government!
James Hacker: Ah, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I’m not that unilateralist! Anyway, the Americans will always protect us from the Russians, won’t they?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Russians? Who’s talking about the Russians?
James Hacker: Well, the independent deterrent.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: It’s to protect us against the French!
James Hacker: The French?! but they’re our allies!
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, they might be now; but they were our mortal enemies for centuries, and old leopards don’t change their spots.

So when Prince Andrew heard about the local corruption and said “It sounds just like the French” – it’s called humour.

It sounds like he was playing to audience of adoring British Kyrgyzstan Embassy staff. They probably needed cheering up. Wouldn’t you if you were stuck out in Kyrgyzstan?

Those 103 petition signatory PPCs and where their contituencies are on the LibDem target list

Petition is here – “target list” is here and is based simply on a ranking of the difference in percentage points between the winner of the seat and the LibDem candidate.

There are six PPCs who signed the petition who are in the “top fifty LibDem target seats”. That’s 12% of the top 50 PPCs. Make of that what you will.

The 103 PPCs represent 17.36% of the 593 seats we don’t hold. So the distribution in the top 50 is just short of a third below that you’d see with an even spread across seats of all winnability degrees.

Signatory Target Rank % points margin from winner
Denis Healy (Hull North) 12 1.92
Lucy Care (Derby North) 20 5.01
Andrew Simpson (Northampton North) 25 6.17
Carol Woods (City of Durham) 28 6.63
Jerry Evans (Birmingham Hall Green) 38 8.32
Michael Mullaney (Bosworth) 42 9.27
Wendy Taylor (Newcastle upon Tyne East) 53 11.77
Peter Carroll (Maidstone and the Weald) 54 12.03
Adrian Collet (Aldershot) 59 12.31
Daniel Roper (Broadland) 73 13.84
James Blanchard (Huddersfield) 76 14.07
Paul Elgood (Hove) 78 14.16
Christian Vassie (York Central) 82 14.8
Jill Wareham (Isle of Wight) 86 14.99
Gareth Epps (Reading East) 87 15.21
Philip Eades (Poole) 91 15.9
David Goodall (Southampton Itchen) 92 15.92
Farooq Qureshi (Leyton and Wanstead) 94 15.97
Nigel Bennett (South Suffolk) 103 16.9
Jon Underwood (Tiverton and Honiton) 105 16.97
Bernadette Millam (Brighton Pavilion) 115 17.52
Jamie Matthews (Pudsey) 117 17.62
Graham Oakes (Exeter) 120 17.92
Helen Flynn (Skipton and Ripon) 123 18.18
Nigel Jones (Newcastle under Lyme) 128 18.35
Lynne Beaumont (Folkestone and Hythe) 137 19.17
John Dixon (Cardiff North) 138 19.18
Steve Guy (Wycombe) 141 19.85
Godfrey Newman (Horsham) 151 20.52
James Monaghan (Morley and Outwood) 155 20.83
David Rendel (Newbury) 157 20.9
Sam Boote (Nottingham East) 159 21.05
Trevor Carbin (South West Wiltshire) 161 21.15
Mark Chapman (Spelthorne) 162 21.18
Paul Brighton (Alyn and Deeside) 165 21.28
Elizabeth Jewkes (City of Chester) 170 21.51
David Smith (Wakefield) 185 22.94
Richard Baum (Bury North) 193 23.19
Mike Willis (Loughborough) 194 23.27
Mike Collins (The Cotswolds) 198 23.47
Jane Brophy (Altrincham and Sale West) 199 23.48
Sally FitzHarris (Kingswood) 201 23.57
Steven Lambert (Aylesbury) 207 23.73
Roger Barlow (Macclesfield) 215 23.89
Tom Snowdon (Amber Valley) 225 24.17
Alan Beddow (Warwick and Leamington) 228 24.27
Robin Lawrence (Wolverhampton South West) 234 24.69
Tim McKay (Edinburgh South West) 238 24.81
Nick Perry (Hastings and Rye) 251 25.38
Peter Reisdorf (Wirral West) 254 25.64
Andrew Aalders (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich) 256 25.81
Nigel Rock (Kinelworth and Southam) 261 25.92
Chris Foote Wood (Middlesbrough) 262 25.98
Chris Bramall (Stourbridge) 270 26.3
Adam Carew (East Hampshire) 271 26.3
Philip Latham (Stockton North) 284 26.79
Richard Grayson (Hemel Hempstead) 286 27.1
Jane Kulka (Reigate) 289 27.19
Jane Lock (North Swindon) 294 27.32
Jonathan Bramall (Dudley South) 295 27.41
Linda Jack (Mid Bedfordshire) 300 27.6
Les Jones (Morecambe and Lunesdale) 301 27.66
David Ord (North Tyneside) 304 27.76
Sally McIntosh (Mid Derbyshire) 306 27.81
Simon McDougall (Littlehampton and Bognor) 308 27.88
Colin Ross (Wolverhampton North East) 311 27.91
Nigel Quinton (Hitchin and Harpenden) 313 27.92
Martin Lury (Chichester) 314 27.96
Fiona Hornby (Devizes) 316 28.07
Stephen Martin (North Warwickshire) 335 28.58
Simon Partridge (Great Yarmouth) 341 28.76
Paul Dixon (Sunderland Central) 349 28.98
Howard Keal (Thirsk and Malton) 360 29.6
Joe Naitta (Derbyshire Dales) 362 29.64
Derek Deedman (Arundel and South Downs) 365 29.82
Mark Blackburn (Westminster North) 371 29.96
Paul Smith (Enfield North) 376 30.15
Richard Nixon (Brigg and Goole) 378 30.24
Rob Hylands (Gosport) 388 30.71
Margaret Rowley (Mid-Worcestershire) 399 31.14
Tony Hill (Maidenhead) 401 31.21
Chris Tucker (Slough) 404 31.3
Anna Pascoe (South West Devon) 421 31.83
David Rundle (Banbury) 428 32.4
Margaret Phelps (Witham) 429 32.45
John McClintock (Chatham and Aylesford) 439 32.87
Alex Berhanu (Ilford North) 445 33.05
Chris Nelson (Kettering) 449 33.28
Dave Raval (Hackney South and Shoreditch) 451 33.34
David Harding-Price (Sleaford and North Hykeham) 453 33.43
David Hall Matthews (Bradford West) 456 33.69
Andrew Falconer (Runnymede and Weybridge) 466 34.29
Denise Hawksworth (Bolsover) 468 34.49
Brendan D’Cruz (Castle Point) 470 34.59
Alan Bullion (Sevenoaks) 480 35.44
Stephen Glenn (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) 497 37.01
Paula Keaveney (Garston and Halewood) 525 39.41
John Loughton (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) 535 41.59
Susan Gaszczak (Rayleigh and Wickford) 541 42.68
Iarla Kilbane-Dawe (Edmonton) 543 43.13
Ian Robertson (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) 558 48.8
Martin Pierce (West Ham) 561 51.19
Kevin Ward (Glasgow East) 569 56.52


The mystery of the "Hound Dog" Labour minister in the Wikileaks cables

Guido speculates on the mystery Labour minister mentioned in the Wikileaks cables as “a bit of a hound dog where women are concerned”.

The Guardian reports:

The minister, whose name the Guardian is withholding, was “forced to apologize … to a female … who accused him of sexual harassment … and has had marital troubles in the last few years”.

The confidential dispatch continued: “Contacts who know him well report he has manic depressive tendencies – ‘he’s very up one minute, very down the next’, and at least one … colleague has described xxx as a ‘bully’.”

The head of the office of intelligence operations cabled back, saying: “Washington analysts appreciate the excellent background and biographic reporting.” They found “particularly insightful and timely” the material about the minister’s “bullying, possible depression and scandals, as well as comments on the state of his marriage”.

That petition in full – 104 LibDem PPCs beg MPs to save the party's integrity and vote against higher tuition fees

A press release from 104 LibDem PPCs on Derek Deedman’s blog says:

A petition, calling on all Liberal Democrat MPs to vote against the proposed rise in tuition fees when this is debated in Parliament before Christmas, has been sent to all the 57 Liberal Democrat MPs.

This petition has been established in opposition to the coalition government’s current proposed policy on tuition fees and has been signed by 104 of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidates at the 2010 General Election (over 15% of the total Lib Dem candidates).

The petition was conceived and produced by Craig Bichard, with the support of Derek Deedman, the Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Arundel & South Downs at the 2010 General Election. Craig is a 19-year-old student and passionate member of the Arundel & South Downs Liberal Democrats, and it is his ambition to become a Liberal Democrat MP in the future.

Both Craig and Derek feel very strongly that unlike manifesto policies, which are aspirations to be delivered by an overall majority government or used as a basis for a compromise agreement in a coalition situation, the unconditional pledge made by Liberal Democrat Candidates to vote against any rise in tuition fees is a promise which must be kept – and 103 other Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidates at the 2010 General Election agree and have signed the petition. All agree that this is a red line issue and the provision in the Coalition Agreement for Liberal Democrat MPs to abstain is not sufficient.

The petition reads:

During the General Election campaign many of our MP’s (and now government ministers) signed a pledge with the National Union of Students that they would vote against any tuition fee rises during the course of the next Parliament. The wording of this pledge clearly indicated that this would be unconditional; regardless of whether the party was in government or in opposition. The party has been very clear for many years about its view on tuition fees and that we feel they should be abolished.

However after the recent publication of the Browne review into university funding it now seems entirely likely that although tuition fees will be capped this will be done to an unacceptable level of somewhere between £9000-£9500 per year with almost all courses costing at least £6000 per year.

Stopping this from happening is vitally important. Not just for the benefit of students but also for the Liberal Democrats. There is one thing that sets the Liberal Democrats apart from other political parties; this is that when we say we will do something during election campaigns we then do it in government. This can be seen in how the income tax threshold will rise to £10,000 by the end of this Parliament, the AV referendum on 5th May 2011, the reduction of MP’s to 600, the Pupil Premium and the delay over the replacement of Trident. We have achieved this and more despite the compromises of being in a coalition.

Nick Clegg emphasised this best of all during the televised leadership debates when he said that the Labour and Conservative Parties have given us “Nothing but broken promises”, he also emphasised that “The Liberal Democrats are different”. Finally and crucially he announced how he wanted to create a “New politics” and part of this vision was for parties to do in government as they claim they will in opposition.

It is time for us to remind him of these important values. The rise in tuition fees is designed to fill in the £2.9 billion black hole that will be left in the teaching funds for universities after the announcement of cuts of 40% in the spending review. However in the context of reducing the deficit this is a drop in the ocean and these savings could surely be better achieved elsewhere. For example during much of Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister the top rate of tax for the highest earners was 60% and yet today in harder financial times it is 50%. Yet it is students (hardly the richest people in our society) who will be paying for the last generations mistakes. This may be a hard time economically but this is a battle we must win.

We are different and must show that we are; especially now that we are in a position to do so.  Otherwise this party will rightly face many more years back in the political wilderness having been labelled as ‘just like the other lot’.

So are these savings of £2.9 billion worth it? Is this price worth the loss of our party’s integrity and our values? If not then we must let the leadership know how we feel and stop these fees from rising while we still can.

We, the undersigned Parliamentary Liberal Democrat Candidates at the 2010 General Election, call on Nick Clegg, Vince Cable and all the Liberal Democrat MPs to vote against any increase in tuition fees, as pledged to the National Union of Students and publicised as such during the 2010 General Election campaign.

There must be better alternatives and we must find the right one; or the else the party and the next generation of students will rightly feel let down for the next Parliament and beyond.

Thank you all for your time, we will all be watching the results of the vote very closely.


Derek Deedman (Arundel and South Downs)

Godfrey Newman (Horsham)

Simon McDougall (Littlehampton and Bognor)

Martin Lury (Chichester)

5. Bernadette Millam (Brighton Pavilion)

Andrew Falconer (Runnymede and Weybridge)

Paul Elgood (Hove)

James Blanchard (Huddersfield)

Jon Underwood (Tiverton and Honiton)

10. Mark Chapman (Spelthorne)

Andrew Aalders (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich)

Wendy Taylor (Newcastle upon Tyne East)

Nick Perry (Hastings and Rye)

Peter Carroll (Maidstone and the Weald)

15. Alan Bullion (Sevenoaks)

Roger Barlow (Macclesfield)

Richard Baum (Bury North)

Nigel Quinton (Hitchin and Harpenden)

Nigel Bennett (South Suffolk)

20. Chris Nelson (Kettering)

Chris Bramall (Stourbridge)

Sam Boote (Nottingham East)

Adam Carew (East Hampshire)

David Ord (North Tyneside)

25. Adrian Collet (Aldershot)

Gareth Epps (Reading East)

Chris Foote Wood (Middlesbrough)

John Dixon (Cardiff North)

Philip Eades (Poole)

30. Steven Lambert (Aylesbury)

Philip Latham (Stockton North)

Lynne Beaumont (Folkestone and Hythe)

Michael Mullaney (Bosworth)

Brendan D’Cruz (Castle Point)

35. Jamie Matthews (Pudsey)

Helen Flynn (Skipton and Ripon)

Edward Fordham (Hampstead and Kilburn)

Alex Berhanu (Ilford North)

Richard Grayson (Hemel Hempstead)

40. Howard Keal (Thirsk and Malton)

Iarla Kilbane-Dawe (Edmonton)

Paula Keaveney (Garston and Halewood)

Steve Guy (Wycombe)

Rob Hylands (Gosport)

45. Martin Pierce (West Ham)

Tim McKay (Edinburgh South West)

Elizabeth Jewkes (City of Chester)

Daniel Roper (Broadland)

Stephen Glenn (Linlithgow and East Falkirk)

50. Chris Tucker (Slough)

Dave Raval (Hackney South and Shoreditch)

Margaret Rowley (Mid-Worcestershire)

Mike Willis (Loughborough)

Andrew Simpson (Northampton North)

55. Colin Ross (Wolverhampton North East)

Fiona Hornby (Devizes)

Paul Smith (Enfield North)

Tom Snowdon (Amber Valley)

Anna Pascoe (South West Devon)

60. Denis Healy (Hull North)

Tony Hill (Maidenhead)

Jane Lock (North Swindon)

Les Jones (Morecambe and Lunesdale)

Paul Brighton (Alyn and Deeside)

65. Ian Robertson (Rutherglen and Hamilton West)

David Harding-Price (Sleaford and North Hykeham)

David Rendel (Newbury)

John Loughton (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow)

David Hall Matthews (Bradford West)

70. David Smith (Wakefield)

Jerry Evans (Birmingham Hall Green)

Carol Woods (City of Durham)

Denise Hawksworth (Bolsover)

Mark Blackburn (Westminster North)

75. Jonathan Bramall (Dudley South)

Jane Brophy (Altrincham and Sale West)

Peter Reisdorf (Wirral West)

Jill Wareham (Isle of Wight)

Jane Kulka (Reigate)

80. Paul Dixon (Sunderland Central)

Susan Gaszczak (Rayleigh and Wickford)

Sally FitzHarris (Kingswood)

Simon Partridge (Great Yarmouth)

David Rundle (Banbury)

85. Mike Collins (The Cotswolds)

Margaret Phelps (Witham)

Stephen Martin (North Warwickshire)

Graham Oakes (Exeter)

Nigel Jones (Newcastle under Lyme)

90. Trevor Carbin (South West Wiltshire)

Farooq Qureshi (Leyton and Wanstead)

John McClintock (Chatham and Aylesford)

Nigel Rock (Kinelworth and Southam)

Christian Vassie (York Central)

95. Linda Jack (Mid Bedfordshire)

Kevin Ward (Glasgow East)

James Monaghan (Morley and Outwood)

David Goodall (Southampton Itchen)

Joe Naitta (Derbyshire Dales)

100. Robin Lawrence (Wolverhampton South West)

Lucy Care (Derby North)

Richard Nixon (Brigg and Goole)

Sally McIntosh (Mid Derbyshire)

Alan Beddow (Warwick and Leamington)