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Archive for January 6th, 2010

The day in view: Putsch, snow and BBC News 24

I’ll come to the snow later. The ‘plot’ to ‘settle the leadership’ broke just after PMQs at lunchtime today.  Carl Gardner, author of The Head of Legal blog, has penned an interesting piece for the Wardman Wire. With customary precision, Carl takes us through the constitutional issues, discusses the prospects of Crudas, Miliband and others  and concludes..“If Hoon and Hewitt wanted, as they said, to settle the leadership issue one way or the other – well, they’ve succeeded in that.”

Guido has the real deal... It is amusing… and Guido did appear to be the first to have the famous Hoon-hewitt letter on his blog at lunchtime.

Watch the movie?

The Liberal Conspiracy takes a most unusual line on the ‘plot’: LIVE pictures fropm the Labour Plot. Cat lovers will enjoy this one. Very good.

Reclusive Tory blogger Iain Dale tweeted…

The snow

Scots and Northerners are expressing outrage that now London and the fantastically well off South-East is under siege from snow,  the nation has gone into a state of hyperventilation and PANIC BUYING.  I did point out to my Scots friends that they must understand that we have “London Snow”.  This is quite different in texture and quality from Northern or Scottish snow.   I get up most mornings shortly before 4.00 am.

Regular readers will know that many deaths occur at 4.00 am.  My plan to avoid the Grim Reaper, before he visits at 4.00 am,  appears to be working.  It also allows me to get a bit of work done before Twitter and blogs start to weave their spell. The BBC does many things well – although on Newsnight last night Paxo had to listen to a very jolly Bishop  who must spend a fair bit of time telling parables in very simple language. Unfortunately, the BBC seems to think that anyone who is conscious between the hours of 5.00 am and 9.00 needs a good kick in the ass from Jonathan Charles who shouts the business news in a very manly way (nodding his head every 5.5 seconds to punctuate his points – I timed him one morning, so obsessed did I become with his ‘nodding dog syndrome’) and then, between 6.00 and 9.00 we get the autocuties (irredeemably good looking men and women) who, lovely people they may well be, smile far too much and speak to us as if we are children who really ought to eat more vegetables. (Fortunately BBC Radio 4 still caters to those who enjoy adult news).

Today, BBC News 24 went into overdrive. I have never seen so much coverage on snow in my life.  Every conceivable angle was covered.  We had the obligatory news anchor standing outside in the stuff, wiping slabs of snow off a car roof to prove it.  There was even a bit of confusion as to whether the snow was 15 INCHES deep or 15 CENTIMETRES deep. Oh the angst. We then went to the regions and were treated to regional autocuties, all standing about in the snow,  and then we had snow analysis, endless severe weather warnings and finally… requests to send pictures of our own snow in.  I was, I have to say, tempted.

Panic buying was much in evidence at my local supermarket. Bread – none.  Milk – None.  Salt – |None.  Fortunately, as I observed on Twitter this morning – there was plenty of garlic and coriander – so being a MIDDLE CLASS PANIC BUYER… I cleared the shelves of the stuff.

Finally… see what I mean?



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Tories digging it….

I was amused when I saw this picture posted on Twitter by @ericpickles, Chairman of The Conservative Party.

“@EricPickles In the spirit of bi-partisanship we feature two Labour politicians on our next poster”

The Tory bloggers have been running amok – some with style and panache – at the attempted putsch by ‘serial plotter’ Hoon and Patricia Hewitt. I watched the news at lunchtime – I just cannot get enough news about snow and requests to send in pictures about the snow I have got – and watched John Mann MP being wheeled out to look mildly sinister and dismiss the Hoon-Hewitt letter as a load of dissembling, disloyal and self serving bollocks.

But in the spirit of just enjoying playing around with captions and pictures (both from the Conservative Party Flickr site – a rich source of excellent photographs for this sort of thing) here are two I knocked up as I opened a bottle of Rioja. OK…OK… I know… childishly simplistic…. but we will all go mad if we take everything about the election campaign too seriously. As Shami Chakrabarti said in the podcast I did with her… the country is going to be governed by the government whoever wins and it may not even be a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea but between two devils at this rate.

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Immediate ballot on future of prime minister

Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt launch new Gordon Brown challenge

Times: Two former Cabinet ministers have today launched a last-ditch attempted putsch against Gordon Brown.

Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt have written to all Labour MPs calling for the leadership issue to be sorted out “once and for all”.

A source close to the former Cabinet ministers, both of whom were allies of Tony Blair, said: “We can’t go on like this.”

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Paul Waugh, writing on his Evening Standard blog, noted Lord Mandelson’s latest speech: ” Lord Mandelson has just delivered his speech on the need to Go for Growth. In it, he has compared George Osborne to Montagu Norman* – the Bank of England Governor during the 1930s who many on the left blame for spending cuts that deepened the depression.

“Of course consolidation is vital. But we have to show more sense and more caution that simply adopting a one club policy of cutting spending. Unfortunately, my friend George seems resolutely determined to duck the lessons of history and be the Montagu Norman of the 21st century.”

Read the full blog post…

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The Independent reports: “Demand for a seat to watch Tony Blair give evidence to the Iraq inquiry has been so high that a public ballot is to be held to allocate the limited places.”

120 people will be given the chance to watch as Mr Blair is questioned – one third of the seats being reserved for the families of servicemen killed during the Iraq war. Blair faces what the Independent calls a ‘six hour grilling’.  Given that there are no lawyers experienced at cross-examining witnesses on the panel ( a curious state of affairs which many have noted),  the grilling is more likely to be expedient ‘Burger King’ than searingly forensic ‘haut cuisine’.

It is probably just as well for Mr Blair, given his travels and his quest for worldwide fame,  that there are few countries which allow private individuals to bring private prosecutions to have politicians and others arrested when they visit.

Attorney General Baroness Scotland may block Israeli war crimes warrants

The Times reports: “The power for a private individual to seek an arrest warrant from a British court for a foreign national they wish to prosecute is an unusual but not unique quirk of English law. The ability, which derives from the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980, is also available in varying forms in the Netherlands, Spain, the Czech Republic and New Zealand. But after several high-profile cases where British courts have granted arrest warrants for foreign nationals — many of them Israelis — Britain has gained a reputation as being an easy place to do it.”

It seems that Hamas has been ‘stirring up trouble’ by hiring lawyers to have visiting Israelis arrested for war crimes, prompting the government to act. The Times notes: “The Attorney General could be given a veto over arrest warrants for foreign leaders in an attempt to placate Israeli ministers who fear war crimes prosecutions if they visit Britain. Baroness Scotland of Asthal, who is in Jerusalem, discussed an amendment to British law that would give her office the power to review arrest warrants in private prosecutions against political figures, according to Foreign Ministry sources. Israel warned that a failure to resolve the situation soon would have consequences for both countries.

A Mr Jeffrey loop comments on the issue in The Times: “Do you lot still have trial by fire or combat too? Grow up England.”

It does seem rather bizarre that private individuals can bring such prosecutions. Lawyers maintain that it is quite difficult to get arrest warrants – but the Times does note that the evidence underpinning the issuing of such warrants has , in the past, included articles in newspapers! Oh dear. Another matter for Jack ‘The Lad Chancellor’ Straw to look at?

Ten ways to reveal your lover: coming out the easy way

James Quarmby, tax partner, Thomas Eggar writes in The Lawyer: “Homosexuals are the hidden minority. Don’t look round but the person sitting at the desk next to you may be one. Unlike other minorities we’re not immediately obvious (apart from a few flamboyant individuals I could mention). This means you won’t know unless you’re told……”

James Quarmby considers various methods for coming out, noting that some law firms are liberal while other law firms still live in caves with their animals when it comes to issues of sexuality. I did like this wry comment ” 2. Don’t make any grand gestures or announcements. Hanging a banner over your desk emblazoned with the words, ‘Yes, I’m gay, get over it’, probably isn’t the best move. Lawyers are conservative ­creatures by nature and are easily shocked by… well… anything really…

and this… “5. Do take your significant other to the firm’s Christmas party. You can be ­guaranteed that, within a few hours of arrival, the gossips will have done their work and that every last man, woman and child will know all the fabulous details. However, it’s probably best to avoid ­getting heroically drunk and snogging to the slow numbers on the dance floor. This may be a step too far.”

There is more good news.  On 1st January yet another law regulator lumbered onto the stage. Only time will tell whether the new Legal Services Board will have any value whatsoever.  A new blog run by ‘ a barrister’: Of Interest to Some Lawyers noted “We are the new, independent body responsible for overseeing the regulation of lawyers in England and Wales. Our goal is to reform and modernise the legal services market place by putting the interests of consumers at the heart of the system, reflecting the objectives of the statute that created us, the Legal Services Act 2007″.

I went onto the Legal Services Board website.  Not a ripping read, it has to be said – although I enjoyed reading the register of interests and expenses for the board members. The expenses were satisfyingly dull – mainly taxi fares and one board member had no expenses. Why not…was my immediate thought? The LSB is subject to the Freedom of Information Act and the website has a helpful section on how to make FOI requests. The website reminded me of the early days of the web in design terms and the new logo looks as if it had been knoocked up by a board member keen to demonstrate that this was not a money wasting quango. The Approved Regulators page explains all to any member of the public with a burning desire to see state of the art web design and modern regulatory practice in relation to law regulators. We shall see… in time.

You may like to look at this excellent article from the Law Society Gazette. It raises ‘food for thought’: The Legal Services Board must properly research what it is about to do

Official: 2,500 ex-servicemen are in prison

My attention was caught when I saw this headline in The Telegraph: “Nearly 2,500 ex-servicemen are in prison in England and Wales, official figures show for the first time.”

The Telegraph report did not explain why we have so many ex-servicemen in prison beyond stating the obvious – that the government is not, perhaps, looking after ex-servicemen that well when they return from war,  but the Telegraph did make this wry comment ” The count of the prison population – which was carried out in November – is the first time ever that the Government has attempted to understand how many former members of the armed forces are in jail. Officials were able to complete the count by matching all the 81,000 prisoners aged over-18 in England and Wales with a database of more than one million veterans held by the Ministry of Defence.”

Clearly:  The answer to the question – why are there so many ex-servicemen in prison? – is rather important, I would have thought?

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Judges examine rise in complaints against MI5

The Independent reports: ” A record rise in the number of complaints against MI5 and other bodies authorised to spy on the public is being investigated by judges appointed to oversee the use of surveillance powers in Britain. Some of the allegations brought to the attention of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, include claims of harassment against officers working for the Security Service, MI5. Others concern the alleged misuse of surveillance by local authorities. The tribunal judges, who oversee the work of MI5 and other law enforcement agencies authorised under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, confirmed yesterday that they were looking at why the number of complaints had more than doubled from 66 in 2007 to 136 in 2008.

And finally… the weather

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