Thursday, June 26, 2008

Good Luck Stephen

Best wishes to all the Lib Dems in Henley today, I hope polling day goes well. I'm sorry I'm not there to help, but I graduate on Friday, and I have to pack up my room to go home today/tomorrow. But anyway, good luck to you all, and let's hope the Tories get a bit of a shock come Friday morning.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Book Meme

Jennie has done this, so I thought I would, since I haven't written about much rececntly (yes, Heinz should be ashamed of themselves, but I couldn't be arsed to write about it).
The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed."

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Strike out the books you have no intention of ever reading, or were forced to read at school and hated.
5) Reprint this list in your own LJ so we can try and track down these people who've read 6 and force books upon them ;-)

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
It would appear off the back of this that I am some kind of awful literary mysogynist, for which I can only:

1. Apologise
2. Urge more women to write fiction I might want to read.
3. Urge the Big Read to include the Faction Paradox novels and non-fiction on this list, so that I wouldn't be such an awful git.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tory Hissyfits Becoming A Habit

I will leave to others the point that this morning's threats from the Tories over our leaflets in Henley are not likely to get very far, since they are bollocks. What I want to ask is this: is it now Tory standard practice to attempt to neutralise criticism of their candidates by threatening to sue people over it? Anyone remember this from Bromley and Chislehurst?
David Cameron has accused the Lib Dems of fighting a "dirty" and "personal" campaign in Bromley and Chislehurst.


The UK Independence Party also got into a spat with Mr Neill, who threatened to sue over a UKIP poster accusing him of favouring "unlimited immigration".
Or this from Ealing Southall?

After all, the Tories know their pockets are deeper than most other parties at the moment; if it comes to it, they can afford to piss around in court doing this kind of faux-outrage, wasting a judge's time. And that's if they even get as far as a courtroom. I mean, in the heat of a campaign, they don't have the time to actually sue anyone over anything, they can simply say they will. I don't actually recall the two previous examples going to court, does anyone else?

Frankly, the best thing Stephen Kearney can say is "Well get on with it then. Sue me."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Parliamentary Oversight of 42 Day Detention

Just watched PMQs, where all three party leaders did pretty well, I think (Dale continues to push the line that Nick is no good at PMQs, but frankly just looks a bit silly doing so).

What I want to talk about, however, is the point that both Nick Clegg and Michael Howard raised, asking very focussed questions about this parliamentary vote within 7 days business. The Government has suggested that this allows democratic oversight of the use of this power, and that therefore the 42 days legislation does not hand over undue power to an overmighty executive for ever more.

Today, the point was raised that any genuine setting out of a case for extended periods of detention in an individual case would require the potential criminal trial which would follow to be prejudiced, or sensitive information to be disclosed at a time when such revelations would be counter-productive in the ongoing investigation. "Quite right", replies the government, "which is why all that would happen is that the Home Secretary would come before the house, say that she felt this particular case was jolly important, and could she please bang up without charge someone non-specific who in her judgment is a real rotter?"

If this is the case, then what is the point of this check on the power at all? A Home Secretary who comes before the house asking for approval to use this power without having to make any argument that it is justified in the specific case in question is going to get that approval almost automatically. Here is what will happen:
Home Secretary: I come before the house today to ask for approval of the detention of a person who, in our opinion, poses or posed a threat to the security of the country, and who we need to detain for longer to bring them to justice and/or prevent a terrorist atrocity.

Opposition: Why should we approve this, can you give us any evidence we should do so?

Home Secretary: You know full well I can't, and when this power was legislated for it was made quite clear that no specifics of the individual case could be discussed. BUT, if you don't approve this, then you might be responsible for the deaths of a lot of people.

Opposition: *sigh* OK then.
I would put money on this happening 99% of the time. Parliamentary oversight would become a piece of ceremony, with little doubt over the outcome. If the government thinks this is a concession worth shouting about, I can't hold out much confidence for the other concessions that they claim makes this power more palatable.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Back From Henley

I just got back from the (very winnable) Henley by-election, where I have been since Sunday lunchtime. Look, here are some photos to prove it:

The HQ:
Free Image Hosting at

The March We Have Stolen On The Tories:
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Breakfast Yesterday Morning:
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In my time there, I did four delivery rounds of tabloids and letters, and wrote really quite a lot of addresses. Stephen Kearney, who I had a quick chat to today, is very nice, and makes a point of coming and saying "Hello" to all the volunteers if he's around, which was appreciated. Also, I met Neil, and saw Mark (but didn't get much chance to speak to him, because everyone was very busy at the time). I also met several others who do not, to my knowledge, have blogs, but who were marvellous nonetheless.

I have to say, I had a really great time: the staff at the HQ are universally welcoming and lovely, as well as being very organized and professional. I think it's especially worth going for a couple of days if you have the time; the campaign may well be able to put you up for free at a local supporter's house, and that way, your travelling-to-helping time-ratio is more favourable. Plus, you get much more of a feel of being part of the campaign, and of how it's all going. Thame, where the campaign HQ is based, is a nice place too. Highly recommended.

If I get down there again at some point, I hope to see lots of you there. It's really worth doing if you want to see us pull off a surprise victory.