Conservative MEP Candidate Selection

This is the problem you have when party lists determine who has a chance of being elected and who doesn\’t in a multi-member constituency.

It\’s entirely stitched up by the party insiders.

Add in, say, the tax funding of political parties and you\’ve a recipie for a self-selecting elite governing the country for evermore.

How lovely, eh?


The home secretary will today outline plans to increase protection for children surfing the web, including new jail terms for convicted paedophiles who use social networking websites.

The measures, which mirror systems operating in the US, include a requirement for convicted sex offenders to give their email address to the police. If they use that address to sign up to a website such as MySpace, Bebo or Facebook, they could be imprisoned for up to five years.

Five years for joining Facebook?

Isn\’t it, ermm, sort of necessary to show that they actually did something wrong? You know, like groomed a child or something? Logging on to leave "kthnxbai" on a friend\’s wall gets you five years now?

Government by Personal Anecdote

It would appear that this is what we have come to.


Our eldest son, Will, once a highly academic, sporty, handsome, smiling young boy, began smoking cannabis at school with friends. He was fourteen. He soon began to change into someone we scarcely recognised, who stole to fund the habit that began to consume him. Pleas from us to stop were met with a shrug and the comments ‘the government wouldn’t have downgraded it if it wasn’t safe to smoke’. With predictions of nine excellent passes at GCSE, we could never have foreseen that our son would follow a route of drug abuse and destructive behaviour that would bring our family to breaking point.

Yes, sad. But no, not the basis upon which to threaten 10 million man years of prison (2million smokers, 5 years jail time each).

Not that such a threat would in fact reduce consumption. One of the oddities has been that consumption has fallen since the downgrading.

Gordon\’s Expenses


Since 2003, the Prime Minister also claimed money for his utility bills and extensive renovations at his Westminster flat, including the building of a nursery.

So that is what people have been rumouring about. While living in Downing Street that flat that he gifted to Sarah was spruced up on his expenses.


Now, is that flat out on the rental market?

This Bomb Plot

OK, so these guys are alleged to have been plotting to blow up airliners. Here\’s how the bombs were supposed to work.

Is that the same bomb making method that was so compehensively shown to not work those couple of years ago? Or a different one?

Doesn\’t matter all that much to the court case of course: that their bombs might not have worked is no bar to their conspiring to make them so.

But anyone know?

Offshore Wind Power

I have to admit to a certain dubiety about this:

In Sclavounos view, the economics of the power industry are already approaching a tipping point that will drive rapid adoption of floating turbines. "The technology is essentially proven," he says. "We know we can design [platforms] and spars that are not going to move in big storms. What is going to lead to this industry taking off will be the economics. When carbon-emissions trading markets start maturing, you\’re going to see this industry take off, even without state subsidies. We\’re not far from it."

Not the statement about economics, that\’s obvious. As and when some form of renewables is indeed viable against conventional then it will indeed take off.

He estimates that Blue H\’s wind farms will deliver wind energy for seven to eight cents per kilowatt-hour, roughly matching the current cost of natural gas-fired generation and conventional onshore wind energy.

That\’s the bit I\’m dubious about, that they have in fact reached that point.

Anyone know more about it?

Biggest Willy Competition

Yes, we have an outbreak of willy waving!

Who in the British political blogosphere has the biggest!

Yes, I do says Guido!

But mine is better says Iain!

And mine more sweary says the DK!

And mine more perfectly formed says Tim Ireland!

(As boring technical background you need to understand the difference between pageviews, unique visitors and absolute unique visitors. The first is someone viewing a page. Someone might view many, or refresh to see the comments, or come back later in the day to see who has responded wittily to the "Lol, pwnd!"  they left as a critique of the Schleswig Holstein Question\’s exegesis which was so painfully put together by the blogger. The second is one person or computer coming by in a day, no matter how may times they do so in a day. The third is that same one person one computer in a month, no matter how many times they do so. OK?)

From the general discussion it seems that absolute uniques is preferred as a measure of reach: how many people are you getting the message to, rather than how many people do you have as the regular reading crowd?

Iain\’s got something a little north of 50k absolute uniques.

My Google Analytics numbers for the month of March: 

214,315 people visited this site 219,306 Visits 214,315 Absolute Unique Visitors 246,655 Pageviews 1.12 Average Pageviews 00:00:15 Time on Site 90.80% Bounce Rate 96.33% New Visits

Over 200,000 absolute uniques! Yes, it\’s true! Timmy has the biggest willy!

That this is on a site dedicated to celebrity fluff, that almost none of the visitors ever come back again, nor stay long enough to even read a post means nothing, nothing at all. (ie, it ain\’t this site, it\’s the old one.)

Middle Aged Priapism Rocks!

The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name

For what it’s worth I suspect I am a libertarian – I believe in small government, freedom of speech, transparency in public spending, and as little legislation as possible. Needless to say I don’t support any of the major parties (they’re all a bunch of corrupt bastards) and am not a big fan of the EU (another bunch of corrupt bastards).

Not Everything Gets Worse You Know

Despite my gloom and regular jeremiads, it is true that life and society, in oh so many ways, do get better over time.

(I was one of those surveyed, by the way. YouGov, here’s a hint for free – we have civil partnerships now, we can’t get sacked for being gay, heck, we can even serve in the army, so you really don’t need to preface the question with “Some people might think the following questions to be of a personal nature”. We’re grown-ups, and we can cope with you just asking which team we bat for).

Only just over 50 years ago….

Umm, Really?

One is forests, which are disappearing at an alarming rate and which act as “sinks” for carbon dioxide.

Rich world forests are expanding, as they have been for near a century. It\’s a distinction that\’s worth making: perhaps those disappearing tropical ones are going because those countries are not rich?

And if that is so then the solution is to aid them in becoming rich so that forest cover returns, as it has done in the rich countries?

Great Minds Think Alike

Or the consistency of small minds. Your choice.

Mad Max\’s Nazi Sex Orgy.

My comment.

Then again, as PJ O’Rourke has pointed out, absolutely no one has ever fantasised about being tied up and ravished by a liberal.

Nick Cohen:

He had a little of my sympathy for proving the truth of P J O’Rourke’s assertion that, “no one has ever had a fantasy about being tied to a bed and sexually ravished by someone dressed as a liberal”.

Stefanie Marsh:

If we were in a generous mood, we could even decide to find the whole thing hugely comical, if a touch Benny Hill, and concede that P.J. O\’Rourke was right when he said: “No one has ever had a fantasy about being tied to a bed and sexually ravished by someone dressed as a liberal.”

They at least bothered to look the quote* up which must be why they\’re paid the big bucks, eh?


* It is also the most mindbogglingly obvious quote to use in the circumstances. I\’m actually a little surprised that Google News doesn\’t show more uses of it.


Hiring Fertile Women

Now, it\’s true that she won\’t be able to claim maternity pay as she\’s employed as a freelance, but, umm, this is a problem that a large number of businesses face:

No sooner had the newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky announced that she was pregnant than the applications to stand in for her started to arrive.

“It’s a very hot spot and we’ve already had plenty of inquiries but they are a bit previous,” Chris Shaw, senior controller of Five, says. “She’s not planning to stop newsreading for quite some time yet and as we approach that date we’ll obviously begin to think about finding someone to stand in for her.”

It is a mere six weeks since Kaplinsky joined Five on a £1 million salary, and one week since Mr Shaw enthused about the “Natasha effect” that had produced a 72 per cent rise in the programme’s ratings.

It is also only a week since Sir Alan Sugar made his controversial remarks about how women should state their intentions about having babies to recruiting employers.

It\’s one of the reasons for the gender pay gap. Given that a woman of fertile age might (note, might) do this, and that you\’re not actually allowed to ask them whether they intend to, means that employers will be reluctant, to an extent, to take the risk. This being so, the risk will be covered by offering a lower salary.

Now as to what to do about it all, well, that\’s where the problems start. For if we want to insist that women do indeed get statutory maternity pay and leave, and that their jobs must be held open for them to return if they wish (although with no insistence that they actually do so) then we also have to accept the corollary that this will influence the wages of those offered these options.

Note, not just those who use these options, but all of those who potentially might.

Or we could say that the inequality of pay is the greater problem, part of the solution to which would be a limiting of those options surrounding maternity leave and pay.

But it is one or the other, not both.

Jude Kelly

Women in the top posts will have got there on sheer flair, stamina, determination and conscientiousness.

Ms. Kelly is in one of those top posts.

Can\’t beat that old English reticence about blowing your own trumpet now, can you?


This is going to make things interesting:

The Government\’s drug advisory body is set to recommend that cannabis should remain a Class C drug, creating a dilemma for Gordon Brown who has indicated he wants to clamp down on use of the drug.

Which way is he going to jump?

But the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs appears to go against this view.

Though the council refused to confirm its conclusions, the BBC reports that the decision was taken at a private meeting of the council where new research from Keele University about links between cannabis and mental illness was discussed.

The study reportedly found no evidence that rising cannabis use in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s led to more cases of schizophrenia later on.

Quite: the question of whether the link between cannabis and schizophrenia is causative or not still remains. Does smoking send you crazy or do people going crazy self medicate?

That, even on the most alarmist figures, and assuming that the dope is the cause, we were talking about 500 cases per year. Amongst 2 4 8 million users (make up your own statistic here) that\’s nothing:and certainly not, even if true, a good enough reason to threaten that many people with 5 years in jail.

So, which way will the monocular Scot go? Will politics trump science again? Politics trump freedom and liberty?