29 September 2007

A Worthy Cause

A friend of mine has just contacted me on Facebook with the following message:

"A good friend of mine is helping a good friend of his, Ian Purchase, raise £1m for Kidney research. Ian is about to have his third kidney transplant and is in quarantine. With time on his hands, he has set himself the challenge of raising £1m for Kidney Research. The plan goes like this... give £2 and ask 10 good friends to give £2 too... in five steps Ian should hit his target.You can donate here: http://www.justgiving.com/amillionthanks. To hear more about Ian and his treatment, visit his blog at: http://beforeyouaskiamfine.blogspot.com. I've deliberately tried to send this to 10 friends who don't know each other to spread the net as wide as possible.Thanks for your time in reading this message. I hope you choose to participate."

Normally I tend to ignore what look like dodgy chain email type things, but this is certainly not one of them and is surely the future of fund raising in a Web 2.0 world. I have given £2 and will forward the email to 10 friends as well - I have also have a good friend who suddenly developed kidney failure (in his mid-30s) and had a transplant about 18 months ago. I am pleased to report in that case, we are looking forward to his wedding in a couple of months which is being combined with the christening of his son. It just goes to show that this is a cause which can be effected by generosity.

and here is the widget from Ian's Justgiving page so I (and any readers out there) can keep track of his progress - but as at today, he has only raised just over £700 so has a long way to go before he reaches £1m!! - (there is a problem with the widget which will sort itself out, I hope, but if you want to see how Ian is doing, then just go to his blog - and here is a link to his latest post)

25 September 2007

Andrew Pelling - Result

Either this blog is a lot more influential than I had previously thought (and given I have not made it into a single one of Iain Dale's lists, this is unlikely) or someone over at Conservative Central Office has finally grown a backbone.

Not that I would like to be accused of kicking a man when he is down, but at least that is better than assaulting your pregnant wife....

In the meantime, I am keeping my fingers crossed that Iain is preparing a list of top blogs not mentioned in other lists of blogs, as I might just stand a chance.

22 September 2007

Craig Murray's blog taken down

It seems I have stirred up a few commentators over on Iain Dale's Diary.

Shock and horror expressed at the discovery that free speech does not equate to a carte blanche to say whatever you like about whomever you like. But at least in the UK you can't get locked up for defamation, unlike in Russia.

Still, if Usamov takes this further (which he would be mad to do - he has made his point) and sues Murray, it should make for quite a spectacle.

21 September 2007

Royal Prerogative part 2

Now I read that Brown is considering calling an election in the middle of the Conservative Party conference. Clearly he is not at all worried about using the powers he does not think he should have, when it suits him.

Andrew Pelling

If there was ever a case for an MP to be de-selected on grounds of his conduct, this is it.

Time for Cameron to show some mettle.

09 September 2007

Royal Prerogative

I have been meaning to ask for a while, what has happened to Gordon Brown's promise to bring in constitution reforms - in particular, curbing the royal prerogative in a number of areas. Over the last few weeks the rumours of an early election have prompted the Conservative Party to spend some of its war chest on advertising. The Labour Party, however, being led by the man who exercises the royal prerogative does not have to guess when the election will be called.

So rather than saying that he is going to bring forward this reform and give up the in built advantage which comes with deciding when an election and he is not attempting to benefit from it in the meantime, Gordon Brown, when asked if he will call an election, smiles like the Cheshire Cat.

Something tells me as we get to know Il Gordo, more of his low politicking will come out and will not be confused the high principles he wishes people thought he had...

05 September 2007

In case I forget

I have been invited on to Donal Blaney's show on 18 Doughty Street on Friday night - 7pm sharp. Don't forget to tune in - or whatever one does to get internet telly.

I don't want a referendum

Whilst the tube strike seems like the obvious subject for blogging tonight, there is nothing I can say which hasn't been muttered under the breath of millions of commuters tonight - such as why the hell does it take all day to get the District line working properly? Or why hasn't the RMT been banned? Thus, in a reactionary mood, I should be ripe for recruitment by anyone of the burgeoning number of campaigns to hold a referendum on the latest EU treaty, which everyone, except Gordon Brown, Mrs Brown and all the little Brownies, accepts is a lazy rehash of the old defunct constitution.

However, getting back to first principles I am quite a fan of the current British electoral system of first past the post, winner takes all, ner ner ner ner etc etc. It makes for strong government and allows the country to take a clear direction, albeit, occassionally the wrong one. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, it is the best of a bad lot and is a whole lot better than constantly having the Libdems in government.

I do not believe that referendums (or -a, if you are being correct) play any part in this process as they undermine the supremacy of Parliament and therefore the will of the people as expressed in a general election.

Added to this overarching point are the smaller but important issues, such as the home advantage given to the question setter on the basis that people prefer to be pro rather than anti something - viz pro-choice and pro-life in the US abortion debate - the difficulty of encapsulating a difficult issue in one question - which results in a blanket "yes" or "no" - particularly unsuitable for a massive document rather than a clear expression of principle.

I am also irritated by the lack of sincerity amongst those calling for a referendum on the EU treaty - they don't want a vote so it can be approved, they want it, so that the treaty can be scuppered. I do not understand why that is not the policy of the Eurosceptics. It is a bit like Labour giving its MP a "free vote" on hunting as they were too cowardly to come out and say they wanted to ban it, they just did everything possible to get a vote passed and allowed 6 billion hours of Parliamentary time.

It is for this reason I despised Goldsmith's Referendum Party (great political antennae in that family for sure) and I laugh at the idea of UKIP being behind a referendum now.

It is time to stand up and be counted on the issue itself -- not a ridiculous diversion. It would be widely popular for the Conservatives to declare that if elected they would withdraw from the treaty and start reviewing all damaging legislation emanating from the EU. Sure, we need to do business with Europe and we need to meet European standards, but the reverse is also true for them, and we manage perfectly well to trade with the US and the rest of the world without being part of a trade block. I do not advocate complete withdrawal but Britain needs to make up its own mind how far it goes.

So forget a referendum, let's just work on getting a government which will protect British interests in Europe.

01 September 2007

Home Information Packs

Just in case I am not giving enough of my hard earned money away to the government the process of moving house has just got more expensive - and I am not referring to the £50 parking fine I picked up this morning in Wandsworth, having assumed that whole borough has no parking restrictions on a Saturday. No, I am referring to the £550 I have had to shell out to pay for a Home Information Pack, or HIP as they are jauntily referred to.

Since HIPs are currently only mandatory if you are selling a 4 bedroom house (soon to include 3 bedrooms) it has been suggested that a lot of people will be describing their 4th bedroom as a study or storeroom, which is a bit daft. On the basis that most people looking for new houses these days go online and search using criteria, one of the most important being number of bedrooms, why would you want to market your house as having one less? In our case, we have ensured that the 4th bedroom is actually presented as a bedroom and not as the junk room that it was a few weeks ago...

So yesterday, we had the energy efficiency inspector over to do his work - which includes measuring all the rooms - something which will be done next week again by the people who draw up the little plans that go on the estate agent's particulars. No doubt the energy efficiency report will note that we have no double glazing, no cavity wall insulation and that our windows release a lot of heat. I will be very surprised if it notes that it is far more energy efficient to live in a house which has been standing since around 1880 rather than to live in a new one, that is centrally located meaning a shorter commute (by public transport) and less of a need to use the car for simple errands (some weeks our car barely moves).

Of course, no one buying our house will give a monkey's about the energy efficiency rating since the cost of heating etc is relatively very low in comparison to the value of the house. Double glazing would also be almost impossible given planning restrictions. If anyone says they do care, then tough, they are not getting a price reduction - in fact I might just charge them extra for being a tosser.