What I wrote at Lib Dem Voice

December 31, 2006

Jon Stewart on Time's 'Person of the Year'

The comedy genius behind The Daily Show pricks the pretensions of Time magazine’s decision to award its coveted annual title to ‘you’ - click here for the clip.

Favourite quote: “It’s almost as though consumers have moved on because mainstream media has abdicated its responsibility.”

Hat-tips to: Sobering Thoughts via the ASI Blog.

That was the year that was... as chosen by you

My review of the year is brought to you by… you. These are the five blog-postings which have attracted most hits in 2006 in ascending order of unique visitors:

5. ‘New vidcast: my take on Webcameron’ (1st Oct): what I thought was a subtle piece of satire suggesting that David Cameron’s inaugural attempt to speak to the YouTube generation perhaps lacked a certain authenticity appeared to get noticed for different reasons. This was, of course, never my intention.

4. ‘Oxford clutches to the past’ (28th Nov): the continuing fascination my home-town’s older university exerts on the media’s and public consciousness was demonstrated once more by the coverage devoted to Oxford’s internal wranglings over its governance. I explained why I was 100% behind the Vice-Chancellor’s reforms here.

3. ‘To robe, or not to robe’ (12th Nov): that this article was so popular had nothing to do with the quality of the writing, or the choice of subject matter - and everything to do with Iain Dale linking to it. I was rather scared by the proof of quite how many people read his blog.

2. First full day of the Lib Dem conference (18th Sept): ‘Clegg ups the ante’, ‘Media tarting’, ‘Fisking Jackie Ashley’, ‘Keeping it real. Honest’, ‘Can I stop now’, and ‘Immigration: “open door = revolving door”’. I’ve a sneaking suspicion winning that award may have helped boost traffic that day.

But, by some margin, the winner was:

1. ‘New poll: sexiest female and male Lib Dems’ (14th Dec): proving - yet again - how sophisticated and intellectual the readership of my blog is, and how undeserved is the party’s recently acquired reputation for moral dissolution. There’s still a few hours left to vote, by the way…

So, there you have it… my review of the year - well, the last three months - as chosen by you. Can I thank the tens and thousands of you who have visited my blog, for whatever reason, this year? I look forward to seeing you, and others, again in 2007.

December 29, 2006

Just a little bit of history not repeating itself

Flicking through a discarded copy of The Times on the train today (it’s just about value-for-money when it’s free), I noticed a chain of correspondence concerning young people’s ignorance of who Marie-Antoniette was.

I can’t find it in myself to feign shock. I have spent a reasonable amount of my life learning history; indeed I have a degree in it. In seven years at ‘big school’, I was taught the following:
  • Year 7: Anglo-Saxons and Normans (mainly motte and bailey stuff);
  • Year 8: Tudors (divorced, beheaded, she died, etc);
  • Year 9: agricultural and industrial revolutions (“Smash the Spinning Jenny! Burn the rolling Rosalind!”);
  • Years 10-11 (GCSE): the rise of fascism and communism (Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini - yay! - videos to watch);
  • Years 12-13 (A-level): the rise of Nazism (another two years of the chap with the moustache doing a poor Charlie Chaplin impersonation); and Europe, 1815-1914 (that’s Europe *excluding* the UK - the history syllabus was way ahead of Ukip).
It’s as uninspiring as it looks. And not just uninspiring: unhelpful, too. Liberal as I am, I’m not a Whig, so I’ve never bought into the teleological approach to history - that the discipline allows us to trace humanity’s relentless advance towards a golden age of liberty, egality and fraternity.

If history teaches us anything it is that nothing is inevitable, and life is messy, fragmented, kaleidoscopic. To make any sense of it, historians divide our continuum into periods - but, of course, it’s not as if a switch was flicked, and folk suddenly realised the renaissance was happening all around them. Any more than it was pre-destined that the ‘geographical expression’ which is Italy should ever have existed.

But unless you have some grasp of chronology, it’s impossible to understand how incomprehensible history is. To teach history in disparate, bite-size chunks - dotting about between Tudors and Nazis - without ever trying to contextualise or connect is senseless.

Nor can it be healthy for this nation’s history to be so ignored. For me, British history stopped in 1603, with the death of Elizabeth I. In my 16 years of formal education, I was never once taught anything about what happened here in the UK in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries (other than the popularising of the crop rotation system). That just can’t be right.

And it is truly bizarre that the imperial role of the English/British in Ireland, the Middle East, USA or Africa over the centuries should be wholly absent from our curriculum. It is hardly as if such issues are no longer relevant, or even that young people would not be interested in our involvement.

I don’t buy into the dismal cliché that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it - because people usually learn the wrong lesson. But I do believe that to comprehend the present you must have some understanding of the past. It’s perfectly possible. Or, as Marie-Antoinette almost certainly never said, “It’s a piece of cake.”

December 28, 2006

The Guardian on the Lib Dems

Today’s Grauniad editorial, ‘Liberal Democrats: In search of adventure’, is a critical but generally fair analysis of the party after its annus horribilis, noting that:
  • Poll ratings are dipping from low 20s to high teens;
  • Ming has not found yet a defining issue to make his own, as Paddy Ashdown did with Bosnia or Charles Kennedy did with Iraq;
  • The party is not yet daring to be radical enough on key issues, such as Afghanistan or Trident; and
  • The next year will be critical to Ming’s standing as leader.
Some of this is merely the ephemera of here-today-bored-tomorrow journalism. Until Tony Blair finally resigns, and Gordon Brown’s had six months as Prime Minister, it is silly trying to read anything much into opinion polls showing movements within the margin of error. Speculation is fun; but it is no more than speculation (and often not much fun).

What we can confidently assert is that the ‘Cameron effect’ is nowhere near as potent as the ‘Blair effect’ was in the mid-1990s.

In the year before Tony Blair became Labour leader (August 1994), the Lib Dems’ average ICM poll rating was 25%. In the year after, it was 17%, a drop of 8%. Perhaps fortunately for Paddy Ashdown, polling was still under a dark cloud following the debacle of the 1992 general election, and the 365x24x7 rolling news agenda was not as hyper-intense as it is today.

In the year before Mr Cameron became Tory leader (December 2005), the Lib Dems averaged an ICM rating of 21%. In the year since, the party has also averaged 21%.

That does not mean the Lib Dems should confidently dismiss Mr Cameron, or complacently assume he will implode. But, equally, the media might attempt to add just a little context and perspective before writing up any one poll as a triumph for the Tory leader or a disaster for the Lib Dems.

It’s certainly the case that Ming did not get off to a flying start as leader. A couple of early faltering performances in the House of Commons, and local election results which fell short of expectations (even if those expectations were perhaps too high) allowed an easy caricature to take root of a decent man who is now past it.

That’s unfortunate and, in many ways, unfair. But such is politics. The real test of Ming’s leadership will be for him to overcome that perception, for the party’s sake as well as his own.

And though the Grauniad identifies two issues on which the Lib Dems should stake out some distinctive ground - Trident and Afghanistan - the editorial is notably vague in offering policy prescriptions. Which is fair enough: there aren’t easy answers to either. And it smacks a little of sophistry for the Lib Dems to be accused by the Grauniad of political opportunism, and then to urge the party to determine our policies according to the level of “public disquiet” felt about Mr Blair’s defence and foreign policies.

This is rather typical of the Grauniad’s wish to see the Lib Dems act as its (and Labour’s) political conscience - but never, of course, to support the party because we “lack credibility”. A case of having your Christmas cake, and eating it.

It's too close to call

I was going to call it a two-horse race until I realised how ungallant such a headline might appear. But it really couldn’t be any closer in the race for sexiest female Lib Dem, as we enter the final furlong.

Not only is it a tie between Kirsty Williams AM and Jenny Willott MP for first place, but just three votes separate the trio of luminaries vying for the bronze medal position. Here are the scores on the doors:
There’s little doubt about the winner in the sexiest male Lib Dem poll. The 3rd Viscount Thurso is the runaway winner, with a whopping 29%. At the moment, the much-coveted runners-up are Jeremy Browne MP (21%) and Nick Clegg MP (18%). But it could all change…

I’m keeping the poll open til New Year’s Eve, so there still time to rig things for your favourite if that’s your thing.

Another year over...

I have finally got round to completing the Grauniad’s political Christmas quiz of the year - 23 out of 25, a suitably obsessive-but-not-deranged score. (And three better than Rob over at Lib Dem Voice.)

The two I got wrong:
George Galloway is evicted from Big Brother, but only after trying to sweet-talk fellow contestant Rula Lenska by talking about their shared interest in?

Venezuela, Uganda or Nicaragua
(At least I didn’t guess Uganda.)

How many Labour backbenchers rebelled against the ID cards bill?

75, 20 or 50
(I stupidly over-estimated the number of Labour MPs who give a damn about civil liberties any more.)

December 23, 2006

Scenes from the start of Christmas

Catching the train is when it starts for me.

Somehow - regardless of the railway’s attempts to put its passengers in a bad mood by jacking up the prices, cramming the carriages with cattle customers, and ensuring we’re all late for wherever we’re meant to get to - the mood is more cheery.

It’s one of the only occasions in the year you’ll be on public transport when almost everybody is heading for family and/or friends to begin their holiday.

I had a momentary panic yesterday. My iPod has decided to become erratic, telling me the battery is knackered when I’d only just charged it. In itself, that’s annoying. That it should give up the ghost five minutes before I’m about to board a train, and endure three hours of the ‘family carriage’ - the noise of which I can survive only with musical accompaniment - is not my idea of good irony.

(Thankfully, after a few minutes’ rest it got up enough puff to see out the rest of the journey ... before conking out again.)

Chugging into Newton Abbot (left) is when I know I’m on holiday, just half an hour from my parents’ home (or one hour, as First Great Western contrived it to be).

The whole journey had been swathed in a thick, ethereal mist - like something out of The Dark Is Rising - until we reached the coast, and the stretch of track that winds along the stunning Devonshire coast by Dawlish and Teignmouth. It’s a rou
te I know well; but it still takes my breath away.

Last minute Christmas shopping is something I love. I’m sensible enough to have bought most gifts months weeks days beforehand - but nothing beats the slightly giddy, slightly frantic atmosphere of hunting for presents to beat a deadline.

And, almost excitingly, Plymouth’s city centre has had a makeover since last year, with the smart new Drake Circus shopping behemoth (right) replacing its drab predecessor - though, unfortunately, the contrast with the municipal greyness of its concrete neighbours is now quite painful.

It may not have been his most heinous of crimes, but the dreary and characterless architecture of post-war Britain is one that Hitler still inflicts on us today.

Feeling festive yet?

If this doesn’t get you in the Christmas mood, nothing will.

Jarvis Is Hardcore

There’s a good - if slightly pretentiously written - interview in today’s Indy with that musical virtuoso Jarvis Cocker. (And if you’re still looking for a Christmas present for any wannabe indie ‘90s’ throwbacks you know, then I heartily recommend his solo album, Jarvis.)

His monochrome Sheffield drawl pretty much guarantees anything he says - bon mot, or simple statement - can be defined as deadpan:
… we have to get ready to drive off to a photo shoot. He dons an overcoat, woolly scarf and bobble hat. He looks like an adorable, sexy Where's Wally. "May I run to the loo?" I ask. "You can walk if you like," he says.
There is a terrific track on the album entitled From A To I - the A stands for Auschwitz, the I for Ipswich. As his interviewer, Hermione Eyre, notes, it has acquired a “chilling prescience”. Here’s the first stanza:
“They want our way of life”. Well, they can take mine any time they like. Cos God knows - I know I ain’t living right: I’m wrong. I know I’m so wrong. So like the Roman Empire fell away – let me tell you; we are going the same way. Ah, behold the Decline & Fall. All hold hands with our backs to the wall. It’s the end: why don’t you admit it? It’s the same from Auschwitz to Ipswich: Evil comes I know from not where. But if you take a look inside yourself – maybe you’ll find some in there.
Jarvis has always explored, with naively lascivious curiosity, the dark underbelly of modern living: most notably on Pulp’s 1998 album, This Is Hardcore - for my money, their best - which did so unapologetically and (it turned out) uncommercially. The penultimate track, Glory Days, sums up its big-band misanthropy:
Oh it doesn't get much better than this, cos this is how we live our glory days.
Oh and I could be a genius if I just put my mind to it
and I, I could do anything if only I could get round to it.
Oh we were brought up on the Space-Race, now they expect you to clean toilets.
When you've seen how big the world is, how can you make do with this?
It was Jarvis’s precocity for eulogising the mundane and seedy which inspired one of Chris Morris’s finest parodies on Brass Eye (which, though almost a decade old, is still the freshest, most brutally brilliant, satire around):

December 21, 2006

You say coke I say caine*

I recently bought a bike. In itself, that is (I readily accept) pretty uninteresting. What intrigued me, a little at any rate, was my rationale.

I don’t drive, do not own a car, have never driven one. Having lived within a mile (at most) of Oxford’s city centre since I was 18, I’ve rarely had the need. I’m sure if I had one I would use it, but - to quote that most abstemious of self-denying clichés - what you’ve never had you don’t miss.

But since my student bike departed for the great rack in the sky, years ago, I’ve not cycled, instead relying on foot or bus. My flat is some 15 minutes’ walk into town, just under 30 minutes into work. Not a great distance, by any means, but I’m sufficiently impatient for an hour-long daily commute to irritate me (even after I bought my iPod). Catching a bus cut my journey-time by roughly one-third.

But buses in Oxford are not cheap (not much is: that’s the price you pay for living in a great city). I used to pay £44 a month for my 4-week PlusPass.

Then (and here I reach, not before time, the point of this posting) in November they increased the price by £2. Less than 5%, which, considering the recent increases in fuel costs, is by no means unreasonable.

But it was enough.

They had stretched my personal price elasticity to snapping point, and beyond. £44 a month I could tolerate; £46 I couldn’t. A new bicycle was purchased for the cost of six months’ PlusPasses.

The result? On the plus-side, my daily commute is now just 20 minutes. The debits are that I have had to learn the code of the cyclist:
  • traffic lights do not apply to us;
  • hand signals are unnecessary;
  • lights, even in winter, are an optional extra;
  • pavements are part of the highway; and
  • weaving between cars is de rigeur.
I’m still a beginner, and have yet to master all these techniques.

* in case you're wondering why the title, click here.

The Richards-Robinson spat revisited

Steve Richards’ accusation in Tuesday’s Indy that the BBC’s political coverage ‘is symptomatic of an anti-politics movement that serves no one’ has touched a nerve with the BBC’s Nick Robinson, who has penned a long rebuttal on his blog.

It’s a shame that Mr Richards chose to focus his argument on the BBC’s reporting of Tony Blair helping the police with their enquiries in the ‘cash for honours’ row. This has allowed Mr Robinson to brush aside his more substantive points, rehearsing the rather dull argument that “the police’s first ever interview of a serving prime minister was a major news story”.

Well, yes, of course it is. But, as President Bartlett would have said, “What’s next?” Mr Richards’ critique of the BBC seems apt and justified:
There was little attempt to explain, place the event in context or question what the police were up to. Instead the assumption was that the day had been simply another disaster for Blair.
(Though I might add that such a criticism should appear in, of all ‘quality’ newspapers, The Independent - which long since ditched the ideological aspiration of its title - is a pretty cute irony.)

In a lecture in Oxford last month, the head of BBC TV news, Peter Horrocks, noted how artificially binary used to be the corporation’s understanding of impartiality:
How did we interpret the BBC’s key value – impartiality? Well, on arrival we were soon taught how to handle that. In an era of neatly polarised Left/Right views - both domestically and internationally – it was easy to make sure that you delivered impartiality – simply by balancing interviews. A Tory minister balanced by a Labour spokesman. An industrialist with a union leader. An American foreign affairs expert with a CND activist.
And yet, all too often, this attitude persists in BBC coverage. It is exemplified by its late-night weekly discussion show, This Week, in which Diane Abbott and Michael Portillo battle it out, with tedious flirtatiousness, to prove who can be the most critical of their respective red ‘n’ blue leaderships. Occasionally a Lib Dem, or other (non-)party representative, is wheeled on to demonstrate how balanced the Beeb truly is (and, if they are female, to show-up quite how contemptuous Ms Abbott is of members of her own sex).

In spite of itself, the programme is sometimes interesting - though that has far more to do with the sceptical intelligence of the host, Andrew Neil, than of his so-last-year guests - but only when it attempts to understand the complexity, the subtlety, the nuance of today’s political issues. Programmes which follow the old adage - never under-estimate the public’s intelligence, nor over-estimate their knowledge - are the ones which work. They are all too rare.

But it is not just the BBC’s over-reliance on Crossfire-style debate, in which a rock and an immovable object are pitted against each other to slug it out in the name of neutrality, which compromises its integrity. (And if you’ve never seen it before, by the way - or even if you have - Jon Stewart’s brilliant demolition of CNN’s Crossfire is one of the most sparkily intelligent 15 minutes of television you will ever watch.)

Every time a journalist uses loaded words of any figure in public life - that they have ‘admitted’, ‘conceded’, ‘defended’, ‘denied’ whatever has been put to them - there is an implicit assumption that this figure has been tripped up, that they were being evasive, concealing, or even duplicitous until their double-dealing was exposed by the media. It is an unconscious journalistic tic, but one which feeds the ‘anti-politics’ agenda which Mr Richards has described.

I have concentrated here just on the BBC - which is perhaps unfair, as its reporting is far, far more objective than any of the newspapers (with the exception of the FT), which long ago gave up any serious pretence of reporting news, and have transformed themselves into identifiably partisan brands with news agendas to match.

But the BBC is held to a different standard, not least owing to its public funding, and indeed wishes itself to be held to a different standard. If it is honest with itself, and does not allow itself (pace Mr Robinson) to become over-defensive, it will recognize the justice of Mr Richards’ central thesis:

The BBC is not anti-Labour or pro-Tory, but unable to take a stand on policy issues, and, wanting to make waves, it has inadvertently become anti-politics. … I cite its thoughtlessly clichéd output last Thursday as symptomatic of the way as a country we have lapsed into a complacent view of politics, assuming the worst, unable or unwilling to understand the dilemmas politicians face.
I think Mr Robinson’s boss, Mr Horrocks, does recognize precisely this. He has set out what should be the BBC’s mission:
So, the days of middle-of-the-road, balancing left and right, impartiality are dead. Instead I believe we need to consider adopting what I like to think of as a much wider “radical impartiality” - the need to hear the widest range of views –all sides of the story. So we need more Taleban interviews, more BNP interviews - of course put on air with due consideration – and the full range of moderate opinions. All those views need to be treated with the same level of sceptical inquiry and respect. The days are over when the BBC treated left wing or pro-diversity views as “loony” or interviewed anti-Europe or anti-immigration spokesmen insufficiently often. We lost considerable credibility with some of our audience by excluding views that significant parts of the population adhere to. So please get used to hearing more views that you dislike on our airwaves. This wider range of opinion is a worthwhile price to pay to maintain a national forum where all can feel they are represented and respected.
I hope he achieves that national conversation, and that the BBC will once again become politically engaged. We need it.

Mr Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?

Nick Robinson has posted a staunch defence of the BBC’s political reporting, defending Auntie from the charge levelled by the Indy’s Steve Richards that it is becoming ‘anti-politics’.

Mr Robinson’s argument - ‘This simply won’t do’ - would have been a whole lot more persuasive had BBC Online not been carrying prominently the story, ‘MP intervened in Cheeky Girl case’ - with its clear innuendo that Lembit Opik has abused his position as a member of Parliament to help keep his nubile new girlfriend in the country. Read the story, and it is perfectly clear that Lembit was ultra-careful at every stage to ensure he acted with scrupulous propriety.

So what was the justification for the BBC’s splash? None. It’s the usual cheap trick of hack journalism in which the quality press - and increasingly the BBC - specialise: the desire to peddle gossip trumps their wish to report news, and they’ll invent any spurious public service angle to justify the lapse.

(More on the Robinson-Richards’ spat tomorrow when I’m more awake.)

December 19, 2006

Because it matters

MediaGrauniad’s Organ Grinder is once again asking its readers what have been their favourite TV shows this year. Which made me realise two things.

First, that I seem to have watched very little telly this year, for which I lay the blame firmly at the feet of Oxford City Council. And, secondly, what I have watched has tended to be on DVD, or via teh internets.

Still, as this blog is in a pre-Christmas mood of polls and random desiderata (otherwise known as being too knackered to write thoughtful op-ed pieces on current issues of import), I have managed to pull together my top 5:

1. The West Wing, Season 7 (More4)
2. QI (BBC2)
3. The Apprentice (BBC2)
4. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (More4)
5. The Line of Beauty (BBC2)

With honourable mentions to: Have I Got News For You (BBC1), Doctor Who (BBC1), Lead Balloon (BBC4), and Charlie Brooker's Screen Wipe (BBC4).

PS: I see from last year’s Organ Grinder that I was, to my shame, nerdy enough to post my 2005 list there:

1. The West Wing.
2. QI.
3. Peep Show.
4. The Apprentice.
5. The Thick Of It.

Clearly the last year has changed me in so many ways…

December 18, 2006

You wait ages for one Lib Dem poll...

Over at Iain Dale’s gaff, you can choose which Lib Dem MP you think has fared best in 2006 in his latest poll.

At the moment, Lembit Öpik appears to be storming to victory, based (I am sure) solely on his political achievements these past 12 months. Perhaps this signifies the end of the ‘Curse of Lembit’?

I voted for Chris Huhne. I thought I should do so once in 2006. And he has - without doubt - been the MP who has most made their mark on the party for the right reasons this year.

You read it here first

Congratulations to Norman Lamb, Susan Kramer, Steve Webb, Ed Davey and Lynne Featherstone on their new appointments in today's Lib Dem mini-reshuffle.

I should point out that Lynne's promotion to the shadow cabinet as International Development spokeswoman was first predicted here on this blog. Admittedly it took another nine months for Ming to heed my advice, but hey...

What a difference 5 days makes

Headlines from BBC Online:

13th Dec - 'Flintoff upbeat about fighting back in Ashes'
18th Dec - 'Flintoff hopes to avoid whitewash'

The progression from optimism to realism is always a painful journey.

December 17, 2006

Some people will do anything

Nice try, Lembit. But I'm still not going to include you in my poll.

Opinions allowed

Fan though I am of Girls Aloud - Sound of the Underground was a throbbingly good Christmas No. 1 four years ago, while Racy Lacey (the bonus track on Chemistry) is 3 minutes of perfectly pure pop pap - I detected some signs of double-standards in their interview in this week’s New Statesman.
… the Girls have a complaint: none of their high-powered admirers has actually bothered to ask them what they think about politics…. says [Sarah] Harding: “It just isn't talked about in normal magazines and newspapers. We never get asked who we would vote for. It could be a general question to ask us in an interview, but it isn’t.”
Cheryl, Nicola, Nadine, Kimberley and Sarah are, you see, party political animals. Well, fair enough. I’ve nothing against popstar polymaths. However, they seem less willing to concede such latitude to politicians:
“Politicians know that we get listened to by more young fans than they do [says Cheryl]. That's why David Cameron said he fancied me. He was just trying to be cool. I bet he couldn't name a single song of ours. Do I fancy him? No! Politicians should stop trying to be cool and get on with running the country.”
To which I’m tempted to rejoin: pop stars should stop trying to be serious and get on with entertaining their fans.

Of course, in a sense, GA are right. Mr Cameron’s view of the aesthetics of members of popular beat-combos is perhaps not the most crucial piece of information we require in order to determine whether he should be handed the keys to Number 10. And yet popular opinion asserts that there is something ‘other’ about politicians, a stereotype some are attempting to debunk by showing how down wiv da kidz they truly are.

This conundrum illustrates a wider point - society’s disinclination to trust politicians unless they can identify with them. Fair enough, you might say.

But why? Why must we conflate the personal and the political? Is it the case that we do not have enough confidence to make up our minds for ourselves based on our own analysis of the facts as presented? And therefore must place our confidence in another’s hands? In which case we must be able to identify with them - culturally as well as politically - in order to know their decisions are in fact ours?

If so, this is an intellectually bankrupt argument.

Of course we must trust our politicians enough to feel sure they are presenting us with accurate and relevant information. But then it is up to us, as citizens, to form our own clear, cool judgments as to which policies are best able to solve society’s problems, and to vote for the party that best advocates our assessment. We should not abdicate this democratic right and duty to our politicians simply because it makes our lives easier.

Even if we do agree with Dave that Cheryl is fit.

December 15, 2006

Typical. Just typical

Henry Mencken (nearly) once said, "No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the Lib Dem blog-reading public." How right he was would have been.

“Proof, if proof be need be,” (as The Day Today immortalised) is in this blog’s hit-counter, which suggests my post on sexiest Lib Dem male/female will soon be more popular than John Prescott’s departmental website.

It’s lovely of so many of you to visit; even more so if you’d care to go the extra mile, and actually cast your vote...

December 14, 2006

NEW POLL: sexiest female and male Lib Dems

Y’see it’s like this… Originally, I was going to upload a festive poll asking, ‘Who has been your politician of the year?’ But then I thought some more, and decided that was just too drearily worthy.

So I tried to think of something Lib Dem-themed, and not tedious. (Tory/Labour-readers: insert your own punch-line here.) This is what I came up with…

Two polls to find out who you think is the sexiest female Lib Dem, and who is the sexiest male Lib Dem. (See the right-hand menu.)

My short-list selection criteria were pretty arbitrary and utterly surface. Those whom I have ungraciously overlooked this year have 12 months in which to make themselves appear more attractive. These two might help.

Vote early, vote once, vote honest. (Sorry it’s not being run under STV.) And, please remember, it’s just a bit of fun…

(Click on the name to see a picture if - shame on you - you’ve no idea what they look like.)

Who do you think is the sexiest female Lib Dem?
Who do you think is the sexiest male Lib Dem?
  • Ben Abbotts - near-victor in the former safe Tory seat of Bromley. He may never live this photo down, though.
  • Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon - former party leader, former marine - still an action man.
  • Jeremy Browne MP - the victor of Taunton, and No 2 in the foreign affairs team.
  • Sir Menzies Campbell MP - party leader and pin-striped radical... but is he a pin-up?
  • Nick Clegg MP - shadow Home Secretary, “next leader”, and housewives’ favourite.
  • Nicol Stephen MSP - deputy First Minister of Scotland; formerly the youngest councillor in Scotland.
  • Matthew Taylor MP - former Shdow Chancellor, he remained the youngest MP for a decade, between 1987 and 1997.
  • John Thurso MP - first hereditary peer to sit in the Commons without first renouncing his title. Champion moustache-wearer.
  • Stephen Williams MP - third time lucky in Bristol West, he is now further and higher education spokesman.
PS: if anyone knows how I can get the polls 'aligned right' in the blogger template, please ping me an e-mail.

December 12, 2006

What IDS's report didn't say

Conservatism is a peculiar animal, and Iain Duncan Smith’s ‘Breakdown Britain’ report - which cites the collapse of the family as a major cause of social injustice here in the UK - shows just why this is the case.

I don’t dissent from his factual analysis (who can?). It is statistically the case that co-habiting couples are more likely to separate than married couples. Though clearly sad for the individuals, there is a wider societal effect if they split and children are involved: those children from lone parent families are statistically more likely to suffer behavioural problems and commit a criminal offence. The income of single mothers (the majority of lone parents) drops by some 20 per cent after separation. This, in turn, increases child poverty.

No-one can fail to be concerned by this. The question is: what should, what can, we as a society do about this?

The question, ‘what should we do about it’, is deliberately inserted. Because what was missing from IDS’s report (or, more accurately, the reporting of his report, as I haven’t yet read his 300,000 word opus) was a recognition that family breakdown is not simply a result of social liberalism, but also of economic liberalism. And here we see the tension at the heart of Conservatism, which can only ever buy into half the liberal credo.

Social liberalism - what those on the unreconstructed right-wing would regard as 1960s’ permissiveness - has undoubtedly assisted in the breakdown of traditional family values. Access to contraception and abortion, and the relaxation of the divorce laws, have given women and men far greater control over their own lives. It is no longer expected that couples should be shackled together - whether for the sake of any kids or not - if their coupledom is making them unhappy.

Such freedom is healthy - but, inevitably when you give people greater freedom, they will make mistakes. That’s the price you pay for having a free and liberal society. Social conservatives - the predominant force in the Conservative Party - regret this freedom. In fairness, most of them know they cannot turn back the clock. But that doesn’t stop them from wanting to.

Economic liberalism - which is more easily embraced by Thatcherite Conservatives, from David Cameron to Edward Leigh - has also contributed to the disintegration of the family unit. Flexible labour markets, one of Margaret Thatcher’s undoubted triumphs, are the enemy of the nuclear family. There has been an increase in the number of economically active women, which has made it easier for them to escape failing relationships. They have also stretched the traditional extended family support network: it is now far less common for three or four generations to live in the same neighbourhood.

Again you will hear no complaints from me that the freeing up of labour markets has helped make individuals, and this country, considerably more productive and wealthier. Nor do I think it should be reversed. I have yet to see many Conservatives, however, acknowledge the link between economic freedom and family breakdown.

It follows from this that those of us who are unabashed social and economic liberals (are there any left in the Conservative Party?) must accept the limitations of government action in the private sphere of family life - unless we want to undo the social and economic reforms of the latter half of the last century.

Does that mean there’s nothing to be done? No. It just means injecting some realism into the debate, recognising that marriage is not a silver bullet for society’s ills. I do not believe the benefits system should be loaded either for or against marriage; there should be equality of treatment both for cohabiting and married couples. It is no business of the state to subsidise the holy act of matrimony - marriage should be for love and keeps, not for cash. In any case, I simply do not believe that parents who won’t stay together for their kids will change their minds for an extra few quid. (Especially if, as is often the case, domestic violence is involved.)

Probably the best hope we have for minimising family breakdowns is to reduce poverty - for example, by encouraging more jobless lone parents back into work. Currently lone parents raise 13 per cent of all children, but (unsurprisingly) 31 per cent of poor children. This may require some tough-seeming measures, such as ending the non-requirement for lone parents to find work until their youngest child is 16 - a policy out-of-kilter with much of the rest of Europe. This would go in tandem with continuing (as, to be fair, Labour has started) increasing incentives for lone parents to return to employment.

There is something else we can do - and here I conclude on a more consensual note: highlight the harm that is done to society by family breakdown. If IDS’s report has helped to do that, it will have made a positive contribution to the debate.

Odone undone (ish)

Bloglines is an easy way to track those blogs you like to keep an eye on. It does, however, strip out the formatting of the original post - which can have unfortunate side-effects.

For example, today in Daniel Finkelstein’s Tuesday comment round-up I was a little startled to see this article highlighted:

Cristina Odone: (The Daily Telegraph) – You can’t shame a dodgy father by naming him Dominic Lawson
A moot point, really.

To be boringly fair, here’s the context:
Irwin Stelzer: (The Daily Telegraph) – Brown’s tax and spend would have stunned the Soviet Union Cristina Odone: (The Daily Telegraph) – You can’t shame a dodgy father by naming him Dominic Lawson: (The Independent) – I asked General Pinochet...
UPDATE: Seems I'm not the only one to have done a double-take.

December 11, 2006

It's all about choice

I’m appearing again on Iain Dale’s Vox Politix show over at internet TV station 18 Doughty Street at 9pm tonight. Fellow panellists (attendees? interviewees? - what is the noun?) are Paul Burgin, Kerron Cross and Barckley Sumner.

So, as a service to you all, here are your alternatives:

BBC1: New Tricks.
BBC2: The Choir. (I enjoyed last week’s.)
ITV1: Film - Analyze That.
C4: Monarchy by David Starkey.
Five: Film - Blown Away.

Because it works

Like most people with a public e-mail address, I get a fair amount of spam. It’s irritating, but there are harder things in life than pressing delete.

What has taxed me more is trying to work out what the point of spam is. Fair enough if it’s some anarchist attempt to bring down modern society by clogging our communication systems. I can at least understand the rationale of such behaviour.

But do people who send me an e-mail like this one (for the full effect, click on the pic) really expect me to think:
‘That looks like a bona fide investment opportunity, and no mistake. And so professionally laid out as well. To hell with that ISA, this will make my fortune.’
Apparently, though, I should wonder no more. The reason e-mail spam exists is that it works.

This, at least, is the conclusion reached by two university researchers, quoted in yesterday
s New York Times:
... “pump and dump” stock schemes are exploding on the Web. The antispam firm Postini said that unsolicited messages accounted for 93 percent of all e-mail in November — a record — and spammers are always finding ways to elude spam filters.

Spammers seem to prefer stock scams now, since they require no links to Web sites — just a message hyping an obscure stock.

An Oxford University professor, Jonathan Zittrain, and a Purdue University assistant professor, Laura Frieder, recently studied such schemes and reached a surprising conclusion: they work. Spammers often make a 5 to 6 percent return in just days. The suckers who buy the stock — and some inevitably do — lose 7 percent of their investment.
Even after polishing all my sympathetic sensory cells I find it hard to shed too many tears for those hoping to make a quick buck and falling for such a scam.

Reminded me of Jim Gower’s definition of appropriate government intervention, quoted approvingly by Nigel Lawson in the FT a few weeks ago:

[Prof Gower] wisely observed that the level of supervision should not “seek to achieve the impossible task of protecting fools from their own folly”, but should rather “be no greater than is necessary to protect reasonable people from being made fools of”.

December 10, 2006

Going for cold

Today’s Indy notes the recent upsurge in outdoor ice-rinks in major towns and cities:
Although the first rink with artificially frozen ice, the Glaciarium, was opened in London in 1876 it is only in the past 10 years that temporary ice rinks have become part of Britain's winter landscape and a new pastime for many families eager to keep their youngsters amused during the long, dark winter months of November to January.
Well, Oxfords version certainly kept me amused for an hour t’other night. Though I suspect my carbon footprint may have expanded as a result.

I was very fortunate friends pictured me at the one moment in the session when I managed to look semi-poised.

Any Diana conspiracy theorists out there?

If so, can you answer me this question…

Why on earth would the British security services choose to assassinate Princess Diana on foreign soil, where matters would be beyond their control, rather than here in the UK, where they might conceivably be able to get away with the murder of the century?

The cheaper way to complain about Royal Mail

Consider this a public service announcement…

As I’ve mentioned before, my other gaff is one of the top Google returns for ‘Royal Mail complaints’. (There are better claims to fame, I’m sure, but I take what I can get.) As a result, I get a few e-mails each month from folk desperate to obtain some satisfaction from Royal Mail.

Some are from Oxford; others from much further afield. How can I tell they’re desperate? Well, I don’t imagine e-mailing a district councillor, with absolutely no powers over the post office even in his own area, is a first resort.

Sometimes there’s a theme to the issues raised. This happened a couple of weeks ago, when a handful of folk e-mailed me, independently of each other, to tell me the number to call they’d been given by Royal Mail to arrange re-delivery of parcels wasn’t working.

I got in touch with Royal Mail to find out why not. A couple of days ago, I received a rather sheepish (and solecistic) e-mail from Royal Mail admitting their centralised phone system is indeed not working:
I have rung the number myself and the option to be put through to the local Delivery Office is slightly misguiding, as it should only infer that the option is for local issues, dealt with centrally. In addition, although we offer these manned lines to prevent communication problems, which a singular local telephone line may cause, my call still proved to problematic.
Their suggestion instead is that residents should phone their customer services phone number, 08457 740 740. Fair enough, you might say.

However, last week I received a very helpful e-mail from another of my residents pointing out that this might hit Royal Mail’s customers in the wallet:

Some companies that use these numbers are actually receiving a cut of the phone call costs. If you have an 'inclusive landline calls' phone package, then it is very rare that 0844, 0845, 0870, or 0871 numbers are are included in your 'free minutes' allocation, unlike normal numbers. Many mobile phone packages also exclude free phone 0800 and 0808 numbers for your bundled minutes. Therefore mobile 'phone users will be billed for calls to this number. Landline users may have to pay up to 8p per minute to call this number.
Which sounded like a bit of a bummer. ‘Til I read his second paragraph:
The website SAYNOTO0870.COM provides alternative non-geographic numbers for 0845 numbers etc. In the case of Royal Mail the alternative number which relates to 08457 740 740 is 01752 387 112. Using this latter number may be free for some mobile 'phone users and no more than national rate for landline users. This will stop Royal Mail getting a 'cut' out of people complaining about their service.
So there you go: if you need to complain to Royal Mail, and don’t want to line their pockets, call them at their Plymouth home: 01752 387 112.

December 09, 2006

Men are from Mars Hill

Paul Burgin of the Mars Hill blog invited me to be the twenty-first contributor to his entertaining series, ’20 Questions to a Fellow Blogger’. Here’s a taster to whet your appetite for the other 19:
Q: Would you regard the Lib Dems as being to the left or the right and how do you answer the charge from Conservative and Labour activists that the Liberal Democrats are the real nasty Party?

A: Is it really so hard to believe that there is room in Britain for a liberal party which tries to make a practical reality of the political philosophy which is liberalism? To those who ask if the Lib Dems are left-wing or right-wing, can I first ask you to define whether you think liberalism is left-wing or right-wing. And why. Then I’ll try and give you a more reasoned answer.

As for the Lib Dems being ‘the real nasty Party’ - there’s too much tribalism in politics already, and whatever I say here will change no-one’s mind, so I’m going to excuse myself from answering. Instead I’ll say this… there is a liberal diaspora in British politics today. There are liberals in each of the main parties, and yet party loyalties all too often stop us from working together. It’s a waste and a shame. I am a liberal first, and a Lib Dem second. I’m content with the Venn Diagram relationship between the two, but I’m not a ‘my party right or wrong’ guy.

Gone to the Dogs

It’s been a pretty knackering last few weeks - the result of trying to juggle my real job with keeping on top of the City Council’s about-to-be-published budget - so today was a self-proclaimed day of rest. I took full advantage of it to pop down to London to catch up with friends, and gorge on turkey ‘n’ trimmings.

It was a perfect win
ter’s day - bright sunshine, blue skies, a not-too-biting chill. Here’s the proof:

View from Canary Wharf escalator (unashamedly
inspired by Route 79).

View of the Thames looking across to Greenwich.

And a final one to show I can take poncy pics with the best of

December 08, 2006

Blog-roll dust-down

I have, finally - and after putting it off for months - got round to updating my blog-roll links, adding a few new categories to create a little more variety.

In particular, I've linked to blogs I know link to me, or have highlighted posts I've written. I'm bound to have missed people out; sometimes it will have been an accident... E-mail me if I've unjustly snubbed you.

PS: I stupidly deleted my list of Lib Dem blogs, and so have had to re-build it. Let me know if I've forgotten to add you again.

Christmas, Actually

Christmas - it means so many different things to so many different people. Well, that’s the traditional festive cliché done.

To me, it means having to sign 1,600 Christmas cards in the next 10 days; mainly for work. (Though there’s some ‘political’ cards, too. Oh, and I still have a few friends in the real world.)

I refuse to use a stamp or pre-printed cards. And I insist on addressing each one individually. Which is doubtless very sweet of me. In reality, it means that anyone who receives a Christmas card from me after I’ve signed the first 50 won’t be able to read my scrawl. My signature starts to resemble the decline evidenced by Guy Fawkes’ moniker during the course of his torture.

Tonight was the first night, and I got through my statutory 160 in two hours. Co-incidentally the length of time it takes to watch my favourite Christmas film, the unjustly maligned Love Actually. (Yes, I know it was on ITV1 yesterday - yesterday I was talking about Oxford city council’s budget til 11pm.)

Click on my blog profile, and you will see LA listed as one of my top seven films, a view from which I do not resile having watched/listened to it again tonight. As far as I’m concerned, those who disagree have no soul.

December 06, 2006

Cleggy live and unleashed - UPDATED

Housewives' favourite*, Nick Clegg, was on Iain Dale's Vox Politix show last night, over at 18 Doughty Street.

UPDATE: If you missed the live performance, I'm reliably informed by Iain Dale that you can watch again by clicking here. In my view, it's especially worth watching for the bit where Nick refers to me as "the great blogger".

* I understand he is also Lib Dem Shadow Home Secretary.

David Cameron: 2% more popular than Neil Kinnock

One year into the job: how’s David Cameron doing? Though there’s much I could say, I’m clearly not the most impartial observer. So I thought I’d let some figures do the talking instead.

The graph below illustrates how Mr Cameron and Mr Blair compare after their first year as leader of the opposition, against their parties’ previous general election results.

Mr Blair took over in July 1994, just over two years after Neil Kinnock’s defeat at the hands of John Major in April 1992.

In the 12 months that followed, Labour’s ICM poll rating averaged 49%, up 14% compared to their general election performance.

Mr Cameron took over in December 2005, six months after Michael Howard’s defeat at the hands of Tony Blair the previous May.

Over the last 12 months, the Tories’ ICM poll rating has averaged 37%, up 4% compared to their general election performance.

You can draw your own conclusions. I infer just one: Mr Cameron, you are no Tony Blair.

December 05, 2006

Cleggy live and unleashed

Housewives' favourite*, Nick Clegg, is on Iain Dale's Vox Politix show tonight from 9pm over at 18 Doughty Street.

* I understand he is also Lib Dem Shadow Home Secretary.

'Are your councillors worth their expenses?'

So screamed today’s Oxford Mail hoardings hot on the heels of the news that the 48 city councillors’ expenses soared 19%, in 2005-06, to more than £240,000. This is an average of £5,000 each, which - as I earned £4,997 last year - makes me a below-average councillor.

Unlike MPs, there is an economic argument for higher wages for councillors: though there is an abundance of folk wanting to get into Westminster, most parties find it hard to recruit good potential councillors. This suggests the laws of supply and demand are currently skewed.

However, I find myself conflicted. I do not depend on my councillor’s salary to pay my mortgage. I am fortunate to have a full-time job I enjoy which earns me a decent wage from understanding employers. I have many colleagues who do not find themselves in such a position, some of whom devote far more hours to their Council work than I am able to do.

Nor do I wish to earn any more money for being a councillor. Not (in case you were wondering) out of some mis-placed hair-shirt piety - but because I can only justify to myself remaining a councillor while holding down a full-time job precisely because my Council pay is pretty immaterial to me. The moment the money started mattering to me would be the moment I would want to stop being a councillor.

Last time the issue of councillors’ pay came up at Council - in order to approve an increase recommended by an independent body - I excused myself from the vote. I didn’t feel I could approve a pay increase which would personally benefit me while (as the guy in charge of the City Council’s budget) I am seeking to find millions of pounds of savings. But neither did I wish to veto a pay award that, on its own terms, was quite reasonable.

Once more unto the polls

The Oxford governance debate rumbles on… Following last week’s defeat of the Vice-Chancellor’s proposed reforms, over 200 members of Congregation (the University’s ‘parliament of dons’) have triggered a postal vote of all 3,700 electors.

Ballots will be mailed to us within the next few days, and close of voting is 4 pm on Monday, 18th December.

I would be surprised (though delighted) if the short-sighted rejection of the Governance White Paper were over-turned. I suspect the fear of the future on abundant display among the joyless conservatives at Congregation will continue to hold sway.

The University is a publicly accountable charity, and, if it fails to become publicly accountable of its own volition, risks forfeiting the very academic independence the rebels claim to be defending.

Though it might be the Vice-Chancellor who loses this battle, it will be Oxford that loses the war.

Clearly not a blog-Smith

Blogging isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and MPs appear to be among the most resistant. So I was surprised, but pleased, to see my local MP, New Labour’s Andrew Smith, joining the modern world at the request of the local rag.

But, somehow, you could always tell his heart wasn’t in it. This was his opening gambit:
Funny thing to be doing a blog. I have never been very attracted to them myself, and if I hadn’t been asked by Oxford Mail, I wouldn’t be doing this one now. That’s 32 words, so only 468 to go.
After this first flush of enthusiasm, on 18th October, he managed to post one more article a week later. Since when… nothing. Six weeks of silence. Come on, Andrew, where’s your commitment?

December 04, 2006

Dreaming of a gold Christmas?

Various Lib Dem luminaries have been asked to select their festive choices for reading and viewing. Frankly I’m hurt I wasn’t asked… but I imagine TPTB in the party assumed bloggers didn’t need much of an invitation to thrust their unwanted views on the public at large. And they were right.

So if you’re just dying to know how Ming Campbell, Saj Karim, Dorothy Thornhill, Chris Rennard, Tim Pickstone or Tom McNally are going to be whiling away their time over Christmas then click here. (M’Lord Rennard proves himself to have previously unknown intellectual shallows.)

If, however, you’re looking for some truly stimulating fare, here’s my rarefied short-list:

  • JFK: an Unfinished Life, Robert Dallek
  • The Discomfort Zone, Jonathan Franzen
  • Significant Others (Tales of the City V), Armistead Maupin
  • Ruling Passions (Dalziel & Pascoe), Reginald Hill
  • On Beauty, Zadie Smith
Other entz
  • Frasier, Season 5 (dvd)
  • Queer As Folk USA (dvd)
  • The Mighty Boosh Live (dvd)
  • The Sweet Escape, Gwen Stefani (cd)
  • The Wire, Season 1 (dvd)
And don’t forget - if you’re buying through Amazon, click via this link to earn the party some commission.

December 03, 2006

In his own words: a year in the life of Dave

Dear Mom & Pops,

Well, what a whizzo 2006! I know you were a bit iffy when I decided I wanted to try being Tory leader for a year (too young - as if!), but it’s such a lark!!

Everyone thought I’d be really nervous to begin with, but I wasn’t. It’s a question of upbringing, really. (Or of ‘good breeding’, as we used to be able to say!!). As you always told me, Mom: “You’re better than any of them, Davey, and don’t you forget it.” Some of us are just born to rule. And though it can be the most frightful bore - meeting ordinary people and pretending to listen to their tedious complaints - it can be jolly good fun too (like when I gate-crashed those vulgar Beckhams’ party!).

And you’ll never believe this - I’m actually bicycling to work!! Not every day, obviously. But whenever there’s a camera crew about, I just hop on my bike, and there I am on the television news!

Of course, some dismal Johnnies decided to make a fuss about Tompkins following me in the car with my shined shoes and pressed shirt! What would they rather I do? Throw the man out onto the street just because he’s polluting the planet while I’m saving it? Anyway, how long have the Tompkinses been in service? Good help is so hard to find!!

And, of course, the silly chump came a cropper with that ghastly Farepak misfortune one reads about in the FT. One’s heart really does go out to these chaps. I know how livid I’d be if Fortnum’s failed to deliver our Crimbo hamper in good time.

The travelling has been really interesting, but so exhausting. I’ve been to lots of hot countries whose natives appear to be suffering dreadfully - even though it’s really sunny!! (Do you remember when Uncle Jamie and Auntie Caroline returned from their safari in a terrible tizzy because their luggage was mislaid, and vowed never to return to “that ungrateful and godforsaken dustbowl of tinpot former colonies!”?)

I think that simply by being there I was able to help those poor people. At least now they know it’s perfectly possible to be rich, successful and happy - after all, if I can be, anybody can!!

And then of course there was my jaunt to the Arctic, when a load of us flew out to show how destructive is ‘global warming’. It was really sunny there, too - though in a cold way! There are some who get terribly gloomy about the threat of climate change. But not me! Because wherever you look around this thawing tundra you see the shoots of 'green growth' - just the sort of thing we Conservatives should be encouraging!

I have to admit, though, all that snow reminded me of my university days!! But don’t worry, I’ve put all that behind me now. (Honest!)

Speaking of which, I’m a little worried about Gideon (he hates it when I call him that!! “But Gideon,” I say, “Gideon’s your real name, not George.” He knows I’m just teasing!). I know you asked me to look after him - and I am doing - but he’s ever so young, and often seems a little lost. Some of the other boys pick on him just because he’s got a squeaky voice (it’s actually quite funny when you listen to it, but Gid would be so upset if he knew I’d told you that!).

There’s this older boy, Gordon, who really hates Gid just because Gid told the other boys that Gordon had been stealing from them for years. Gordon was furious because he used to be really popular. But then we all noticed that he’d been pick-pocketing our tuck money without us noticing - and then offering to share his tuck with us!! The worst thing was we all wanted to buy chocolate (though not chocolate oranges - bleugh!), but we ended up eating his curled-up, corned-beef sandwiches... and feeling grateful to him! What a swizz!!

Money can be a bit tight - who’d have thought organising a party could be so expensive?! But I was chuffed to bits that the lads all had a whip-round, and chipped in with £35 million - and all they asked in return was that I get them into this club I know (called the House of Lords - Pops would love it, exactly his scene!).

The party (or 'happening', as I re-branded it!) was just swell until the police arrived. But, fortunately, they seemed more interested in this other bunch of lads, who were also hanging round the club, and really are rather rough. Very non-U. Except for their ‘ring-leader’, Tony, who’s awfully nice. Even you’d like him!! He must have just fallen in with the wrong crowd.

Don’t worry about me, though. Kudos to you both: you told me to get a job before I went ‘gapping’, and my internship at Carlton was just peachy. The money I earned there paid for this year (and I’ve still got a little left over!), and it’s good to know I can go back there as soon as I get bored. So much better than working for some dreary supermarket (like that oik Archie Norman!!).

Anyway, I must sign off. The film crew has just arrived ready for my next spontaneous Webcameron thingy, and it always takes an age to set up (what with the make-up girls, set-designers, ‘gaffer’, floor producer, and so on). But I love it! Becoming leader of Cameron’s Conservatives is the perfect prep for a career in the media!!

Love to y’all, and don’t forget to keep it real!!

Dave xxx

December 02, 2006

Define yourself

Are you a conservative or a liberal?

A conservative lives by the motto, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

A liberal believes the future should always be better than the present or past.