Friday, 27 February 2009


I have to say that I enjoyed the BBC's Thatcher drama 'Margaret' a great deal. It's nice to remember why I hated the mad cow in the first place. Also nice to see the big beasts of the time portrayed in a humorous style, Ken Clarke, Micheal Hesseltine and Norman Tebbit were all spot on but it was John Major that had me fits of laughter, the scene with him and Douglas Hurd in a restaurant really was hilarious. But it the programme served as a timely reminder that when faced with defeat MP's panic and all sense of loyalty goes out of the window, the trouble is, it worked Major won the 92 election. Incidentally, one has to admire the base cunning of Major with his 'dental surgery' that prevented him from being compromised during all the backstabbing in Westminster...genius.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Transport in Birmingham - Surprisingly highly rated

Our survey says: Birmingham has only the second worst transport system in the UK. Poor Bristol.

On the serious side, one of the first things that struck me when i moved to Birmingham a few years ago was the awful standard of its public transport network. Anyone who has been to New Street Station will know what I mean. But it goes further than that, Birmingham needs a metro, tram or trolleybus system, it would bring our city together and make a more exciting city to visit. The city centre has expanded in recent years as both the Jewellery Quarter and Digbeth are now decent places for a night out but they are two miles apart and there is no decent links between them, surely we can have a tram that links the two?

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Tory Local Government Policy - anti-democratic?

Today's announcement by the Tories of their proposals for local government reform will cause a great deal of concern for those of us who care about local government. Scrapping regional bodies is controversial but hardly anti-democratic and nor can directly elected mayors be considered so either, in fact I'm rather a fan. But holding referendums if Council tax goes over a certain threshold? Surely that is what Council Elections are for, if a Lib Dem Council (for example) puts up Council tax by 10% then the public have the right to use their vote to remove them. I have always believed that referendums are dangerous and should be used as little as possible (if at all), extending them to issues such as Council Tax just makes Local Councillors even weaker and means they hold even less responsibility.

Come on Cameron if you really support Local Democracy restore Councillors responsibilities.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Photos of the ol'country

These three sites offer brilliant photos and titbits on my favourite places in France.

1 - Avignon In Photos

2 - Paris by Pete

3 - Paris Daily Photo

So thanks to Pete, Eric & Nathalie for making my day a little less grim.

Any more suggestions welcome

Monday, 9 February 2009

Six Nations Week One

So far so good then for defending champions Wales. My verdicts on all the teams:

England: An easy victory but the team lacks so much pace as to make them look like pensioners on the pitch.

Italy: What were they thinking! I have always had a soft spot for Italy but their lack of strength in depth will always make their task hard especially away from home.

Wales: Looked good and still posses all the elements that won them the grand slam last time round, but injuries to Ryan Jones and Shane Williams will worry fans.

France: A poor result but they showed enough flare to worry Scotland & Wales who will have to travel to Paris.

Ireland: Team of the weekend, they played like the good ol' days with confidence and a great set of running backs but they will need to be on top form in every game to pick up the title.

Scotland: Same old sorry story they try but they just cannot produce for eighty minutes, looked confortable in possession but lacked any bite and defence was easily shredded by Welsh team playing within themselves.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

May you live in interesting times......

Just so people don't get the idea that it is only in the UK that politics is being effected by the mother of all all recessions. In Ireland the government has just unveiled an emergency budget that will cut the pay of public servants by 7% and cut spending on social services and international development, commentators believe Brian Cowens government to be on its last legs. In Iceland the government collapsed last week and in came Europe's first openly lesbian head of government, but she may soon find herself deep in electoral trouble as the far left Green-Left alliance now heads the polls. In Latvia the Minister for Agriculture has just resigned after mass street protests after protests by farmers. In Germany Deutsche Bank has posted its first annual loss since WWII.

I find a little perspective helps.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Jacqui Smith on a chicken run?

Is our esteemed Home Secretary (and Villa Fan) Jacqui Smith about to do a runner to a safe seat away from her her less than comfortable resting place in Redditch. Whilst I understand the logic of such a move i have a great deal of sympathy for the activists in Redditch who no doubt would have fought like hell to keep her in place, but now face the prospect of fighting an almost hopeless election with a fresh candidate and little central support. My suggestion would be for Jacqui Smith to fight the election in Redditch, then should she lose (unlikely as that is!) I am sure a backbencher of a certain age can be persuaded to stand down soon afterwards.