22 April 2010


Around 50,000 people rushed into the Oklahoma Territory at noon in 1889 to stake homestead claims.  Pravda was published for the first time in 1912.  An explosion in Guadalajara in 1992 killed 206, injured about 500 and left 15,000 homeless.

Born today:  Henry Fielding (1707-1754), Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), Madame de Staël (1766-1817), V.I. Lenin (1870-1924), Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967), Charles Mingus (1922-1979), George Cole (1925), Laurel Aitken (1927-2005), Jack Nicholson (1937), John Waters (1946), Peter Frampton (1950), Paul Carrack (1951), Sean Lock (1963) and Kakà (1982).

It is Earth Day here in the US.


  1. It's Earth Day elsewhere on Earth as well.

  2. Just to let you know I'm still here! Been lurking - some very good discussions! Having some building repairs done in the hope my house will sell more easily!

    Despite not doing it myself its wearing me out!

    Also busy in the garden!

    Still anything to avoid the election!

  3. annetan - hello there! way things are going with the election, I would actually quite like a potting shed to retreat to...

  4. Bloody hell - the Greens are polling second in my constituency! (Darren Johnson - now I've confirmed which one it is). So despite misgivings, may have to throw vote in their direction, just on the off-chance...

    Am currently failing to download Green manifesto. Presume solar panels not fully up to speed.

    Ah! - there it is. back in a minute.

  5. hi all

    Philippa - you seem to suggest you know the direction of this election .

    Anne - good to have you back

  6. Interesting report in the Dutch chip wrappers this morning regarding Higher and Vocational education.

    Jay, I know you take in interest in the education sector so it may be of particular interest.

    The University of Maastricht have just produced a report which states that for every euro spent on Higher and vocational education, three euros are made.

    They did their research based on the cost of those who drop out, wages, use of welfare resources, health and crime.

    The researchers urge that funding in both higher and vocational training be increased and not cut.

    I find this report interesting when comparing it with provision of education (both higher and vocational)for youth in the UK and the mantra of cutting educational provision in line with public service cuts and the direct result of the rise in percentage of NEETS.

    I can put the report on here, but I'm assuming no-one wants to wade through pages and pages of Dutch.


    Just spent ages writing a lengthy critique of the Green manifesto, and got an error message when I posted! Possibly it was too lengthy...

    Can't be arsed doing all that again. Maybe later. Conclusion - lots of 'nice ideas' but several that display a tenuous grasp on how things actuaally work.

    But if Darren J is running second in my constituency, will go for him.

    Leni - the direction the cammpaign and coverage is taking, yes. V shedworthy. Outcome? God knows...

  8. Good to see you again annetan I was just thinking of you, and your hoped for move, as I walked the dogs this morning. Fingers crossed the repairs do the trick young miss. (xx.)

    The sky over my bit of E Yorks is now filthy with contrails. The contrast between the clear blue of the last few days and the milky haze up there now could not be be sharper. There is one hell of a lot of kerosene residue up in the atmosphere. Normally you no longer see it, it's the unusual contrast with the last week which brings it painfully into focus

    If air-traffic continues it's absurd growth I doubt my kids' kids would ever see a blue sky again. God help them if the Chinese et al ever aspire to ape the Americans and Europeans in greed .

    Air travel is another 'future' problem for us. A dilemma which in complexity is kinda on a par with immigration. Easy to say tax it more heavily (that will no doubt have to be done) but the rich having plundered the common purse will pay the tax and ground the poor. Taxing spending rather than wealth/income does little to promote fairness and equality.

    Air traffic is only one element in the crazy growth, must have growth, economic model.

    I suppose we could make a start by suggesting that mad mick's Ryanair should be grounded if he won't pay compensation as per Euro regs.

    I won't be able to watch tonight's 'debate' 'cos I will not under any circumstances watch a Murdoch TV station or buy his newspapers. Is it on radio again?? (Guess it will be)

  9. Sounds interesting, Duke, how is the dutch HE compared to here, as in the Mandelsonian "Uni as business" approach? The cuts here are shameless, VCs sitting pretty on £200,000 while they lay of hundreds of faculty to save money. Just like the recent story on that academy. Should have been obvious really, if you bring private firms in they will run it as a private firm - maxmimum profit, as big a slice of money going to senior staff as possible, laying off as many lower end staff as possible, minimise cost regardless of service...

  10. I see mad mick has worked out which side his bread is buttered as usual.


    My father is listed with Lewisham Electoral Office as 'proxy' not 'postal proxy'. And the deadline for postal vote applications was Tuesday. So unless by some miracle they can re-list him (or I can persuade him and mother to take a day trip to London), I don't even get to cast my 0.018 of a vote.

    Damnit. Should have sorted this out last week.

  12. Duke

    I am in favour of education/training not just for economic reasons either. The notion of education and learning for learnings sake appeal, and in my view contribute significantly to the quality of life calculus.

    That said the following seems to imply a truly heroic piece of accountancy....

    "The University of Maastricht have just produced a report which states that for every euro spent on Higher and vocational education, three euros are made

    did you/they mean three euro's are "saved" ??

    I think the USA has worked out that if you don't train/educate and instead imprison (3 strikes and out) the young (esp black americans) when they find 'work' for their idle hands you do even better.

    US prisoners are allegedly just about slave labour who produce a lot of basic stuff used by the military at rates which can better the cheapest from Mexico etc.

    I understand that if you refuse to work in US prisons you are given solitary. And as most UT's will know the USA has the highest proportion of citizens in prison in the world.

    That would suggest the economics of education and training are quite a complex piece of accountancy.

  13. Whack job alert. On the Earth Day thread, character called chronos claiming we shouldn't eat honey because bees are mammals. Really.

  14. Duke - as an aside, I remember hearing on R4 twenty years ago that even then the University of Liverpool brought directly or indirectly £50 million per anum to the city's economy... staggering.

  15. Oh, it's ok, chronos was trolling for laughs. Sure as shit got them !

  16. Yup, that's me disenfranchised. Entirely my own fault. Know my vote would mean fuck all, but still bloody angry with self.

    On the upside, have organised votes for about a dozen expat mates out here, but...still not the same.


    French lesson. Prof may not get a word in edgeways.

  17. Deano, the debate's being shown live on BBC 24 News (Channel 80 on freeview).

    Also I think the Graun is streaming it.

  18. Thanks thauma. I can get BBC24 on freeview.

    My dongle connection too limited and slow for streaming from Guard (3gb a month from three) but it is getting faster. I think they put a new mast in the area a few months ago it used to be a lot more difficult.

  19. deano

    I am in favour of education/training not just for economic reasons either. The notion of education and learning for learnings sake appeal, and in my view contribute significantly to the quality of life calculus.

    Couldn't agree more. I am very much a believer in 'Education for education's sake'. I detest the notion that Education is there purely to shape people into an 'empoyment sized hole'.

    That's why that report a couple of years ago that schools in the north east of England were teaching 'call centre' courses was one of the most depressing things I've read in recent years. It was spirit crushing, mind numbing.

    did you/they mean three euro's are "saved" ??

    Saved and earned. They measured investment in education in terms of:

    i. Wages earned after education

    ii. positive effect on economic growth

    iii. Less reliance on welfare resources

    iv. The impact on healthcare (more educated normally means healthier in mind and body)

    v. The investment in Education and the correlation with crime rates.

    The researchers used a (and I hate this word and I cant think of another) holistic approach. They emphasise the rise in self esteem and dignity productive education brings and the positive correlation with economic growth both for individual and state.


    I don't know enough about the education system as a whole so can't comment on higher education comparisons between here and the UK.

    What I can say is that the report makes clear that investment in staff is just as important as the investment in the student.

    That shocking OECD report from 3 years ago which reported the UK and the US as being the worst places to be a child also put the Netherlands as the best place to be a child. Education is obviously at the centre of that.

    The best quote I have read about Education, cuts, underinvestment and its impact on society is by Derek Bok, an American professor:

    If you think education is expensive, try ignorance

  20. Thanks for the additional info Duke the rise in self esteem and dignity are of course invaluable things. The very things civilised societies naturally aspire to and are properly cautious about putting a cost on.

    If choices have to be made then electric toothbrushes and vaginal deodorants don't get a look in.....

    "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance" - a delight, which (if it was Bok's) was wisely nicked by the NUT when it was campaigning against Thatcher's education/public service cuts way back then.

  21. Morning/afternoon James - another delightful sunny day over the Humber and Wolds.

    I must get on with a little work now.

    laters all.

  22. Wind has dispersed the morning rush hour(s) contrails.

  23. Cheers deano,

    Always nice to hear from my own neck of the woods.

    (I reckon that Joni Mitchell might have been right about the whole 'don't know what you've got til it's gone' thing!!)

  24. Just checked BBC world, and it seems they'll be showing tonights political shananigans.


  25. James Dixon
    You *want* to watch that ?

    It got on my tits last time - the media's deep descent into personality politics did anyway... (Perhaps as I suggest, I am just an old crank now who doesn't get politics anymore...0

  26. Bitterweed,

    Maybe it's the 'car crash' nature of it all, I'm not sure!!

    But I do think it's worth watching for the little 'tells', and on the off chance that the facade slips and we're treated to a bit of a brawl live on national TV.

  27. James Hmm... Well it *is* Foreign Policy tonight. More my territory, so perhaps I'll open a couple of cold ones and enjoy the lies. I mean open, frank debate ;-)

    I just hope the questions aren't too skewed...

  28. Yeah, FP's more my bag too, so I think that I'm more likely to notice their cock-ups, and more generally, I think this could be the one that provides a proper glimpse into each party's true intentions....

    (it's slightly harder to keep the dog whistles in the right 'range' with FP, I think)

  29. Your Grice (and others interested in the education thingy)

    As a dutchy i remember that the proportions a fair while ago were:

    US budget: top ticket item: military followed by many other things, then education.

    Dutch budget: top ticket item: education followed by many other things, then the military.

  30. Exactly JD. I did European Politics in the early 90s, and was very sageley advised in the beginning of my second year by the Department Head that to understand the EU properly (and chose a dissertation topic with legs in the bargain) you had to either study EU money or EU FP / Defence. I did my disertation on the future role of NATO and my opinion on about seventy eight per cent of politics changed within eighteen months.

    At one point I had about eight and ahalf hours of documentary and other video material on the Srebrenica massacre. Watched it all in one morning - fucked me up for about a fortnight !

  31. Afternoon all.

    @annetan42-Hope you,re well.Wondered where you were!

    @Philippa-do you remember Peter Snow and his 'swing-o
    -meter on BBC election night?Was thinking maybe we
    could get a cyber version for 6 May and you could
    operate it.You could make predictions throughout
    the night although hopefully you won,t get as excited
    as Snow used to get.Used to worry that he,d break
    that flaming swing-o-meter when he was in full flow!

  32. AFternoon all

    Just posted a really long post about education and when I clicked on post it reverted back to some bizarre search page. Meh.

  33. OOOH! That one's worked.

    So anway, I have a puter to myself for an hour or two, but it is not as nice as being able to slouch on the sofa with my netbook on my knee. Waaaaa!

    As I was saying before the post got eaten, re higher and further education, I remember a Russel Group uni spokesperson a few weeks back saying more or less the same thing. It makes sense.

    And in industry, when times are hard one of the first things to get cut is training, which is just as short-sighted.

  34. BW - ew. I can imagine that really did your head in. I sat and watched the whole of the documentary The Shoah in France in one sitting and that buggered me up for a good while too.

    These things need to be broken down into hour-long units with a bit of the Simpsons in the interludes in order to keep our sanity, imo.

  35. Yeah, I imagine it would.

    I'm not a big expert on NATO per se, but I did pol/IR at uni, so I tend to take more of an interest in FP than anything else.
    And, given the nature of what has constituted FP in the last few years, there could be some interesting 'suggestions' tonight.

    NB- everybody seems to think Clegg's going to be out of his depth tonight, but I predict he'll probably come out with a more measured and intelligent approach than the other two - we'll see though....

  36. Above post in response to Bitterweed.

    Hey Paul and BB!!

  37. Hi All,

    Been driving all over the countryside this morning looking at rivers. Seeing all the campaign posters (a depressing number of which were tory) and thinking about the election made me realise something. I've been optimistic about voting Lib Dem not because I believed they could deliver, but just because I wanted what they were promising. I used to look for the ability to deliver in my candidate. Now I'm depressed because I've realised it's got so bad that a party merely promising what I want is reason for hope.....

  38. JD
    Out of his depth ? He cut his teeth negotiating with the Chinese in Brussels; I'd have thought he knows a thing or two, and would be made up if he anihilates the other two on you-know-what.

    But... the trouble is that since the -ethically correct- intervention in Sierra Leone, the narrative on every 'side' has become chock full of inconsistencies, paradoxes, abject brutality, and myth-making. Let alone the abysmal reductionism of rolling news and tinfoilhattery on the web (CiF. I'm looking at you).

    I'm just finishing Le Carre's A Most Wanted Man at the moment, and I think unless people are at least able to grasp the drivers in that narrative, they should steer clear of FP. How many chances of that happening ?? ;-)

    Still. Liverpool WILL win tonight. They will. They will...

  39. Clegg also has the advantage of having been against the Iraq war.

  40. thaumaturge
    Exactly. He can win the whole debate off that one alone - it'll be the measure of the man if he pulls it off... (I'm thinking... "what would Tony Benn do?" right now)

  41. Paul - nice idea on the swing-o-meter, but I fear that instead of getting more and more excited, I would become gradually more drunk and maudlin...this may not make for the best graphics...heh heh

    BW - loved that book - Le Carre still just brilliant at that kind of thing...better than Single and Single - but still have Absolute Friends on the unread shelf, must try that.

    (no, no! must not! must write! must not get distracted!)


    Weirdly, over the last couple of weeks, I have had three 'wins'. One on the National (€12.50), one on the Euromillions (€7.90), and one on the premium bonds (£25). I think I've used up all my luck for the year - so far today have found out vote fucked up, and then had to walk to french lesson as there was a wildcat tram / bus strike. So on the rule of three, BW, if I bet against Liverpool, they are guaranteed to win. Will do that now...

  42. Bitterweed,

    I agree.

    I think he has enough 'experience', for sure, but I think the key thing is going to be how he handles the (inevitable) accusations of naivete etc from the other two.

    Unfortunately, I think we're going to see something similar to the US, where considered and measured automatically equates to 'soft on terror and security', or some similar rhetoric/BS.

    (and Thaumaturge)

    The Iraq war thing is an 'ace up his sleeve' for sure, but, I suspect that the other two and their teams will have been working hard on how to smear that particular card for a while now...

    Again though, it could be interesting....

  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

  44. Philippa

    You bet against Liverpool?!


    We's gonna win.

  45. Your Grace

    The only benefit I see of the "prime ministerial debates" is that it has given the LibDems a platform more in keeping with their popularity in the country.

    But I would say that, wouldn't I? :p

  46. Afternoon all

    Have always loved Le Carre - the beeb have been doing all the Smiley stories on the radio - with Simon Russell Beale as Smiley - Bliss!

    Am ignoring all politics until the thing tonight as its lovely and hot on my balcony and I have a hammock arriving in about 20 minutes. My ex is kindly parting with it for my benefit.

    BW - I hope you're right and Clegg tears the other two to bits. Lets hope he keeps his head and stays cool.

    Noticed the press have really had a go at him today - particularly the D Torygraph.

    Right - time to uncork the first bottle...

  47. 13th Duke,

    I do think you're partially right.

    But, and perhaps it's me being naive here, I do think that, depending on how you approach it, there is something a bit less masqueradyish (sp?) with a debate than with the usual stage-managed campaign appearance stuff.

    At least, despite the best efforts of all the handlers and gurus before hand, there's an element of 'unpredictability'/'exposure'.

    (just think how differently the world could have been if Nixon hadn't been a sweaty bastard, and been president during the Cuban Missile Crisis, for example...)

  48. BB - exactly...

    (Honestly, sometimes I'm too devious for my own good).

    Fulham supporting mate has just sent round a plaintive plea for company for the match this evening - just after another mate sent round invite to 'debate #2'. Leading to the response from a third person
    "so the choice is between watching a bunch of overpaid blokes grappling with overseas attacks, and Fulham v Hamburg?"

    Thought 'twas funny...

  49. @JamesDixon-sadly you may have a point with regard
    to considered and measured somehow equating to
    weakness.All part of the Americanisation of British
    politics methinks-although i think any attempt
    by Brown,Cameron and Clegg to appear Ramboesque would
    rightly make them a laughing stock.Funny with us and
    the Yanks-same language but different culture.They
    have Arni and we have Prescott-say no more!!

  50. James
    (just think how differently the world could have been if Nixon hadn't been a sweaty bastard, and been president during the Cuban Missile Crisis, for example...)
    God, that's frightening. Watched a really interesting documentary about the Pentagon Papers scandal yesterday, and the sheer belligerence of Nixon in the taped calls is just nasty...

    I didn't really know a lot about the PP - only the cross-over with Watergate - am full of admiration for Dan Ellsberg (last seen being politely arrested at an anti Iraq War demo - so even more props).

    It's from 2009 - Not sure of US title, but maybee "the man who brought down Nixon". Well worth a watch.

  51. Paul

    "They have arni and we have prescott" - ROFL!

    Sheff - love Le Carre too and wondered how he was going to cope with the end of the cold war. Have only read one or two of his since, but completely fell in love with The Constant Gardener. Sublime book. Film is a bit crap though in comparison.

  52. BB/James,

    don't get me wrong, I would love to see Cameron break down in tears admitting he is an etonian fuckwit and prostating himself begging for forgiveness from the nation as much as the next sane person.

    However, this whole cleggmania is giving me the eerie feeling of New Labour 97. Everyone is wanking themselves silly over a professional bureaucratic politician who really in my eyes has said nothing of substance.

    I absolutely remain to be convinced by Clegg in every sense. It's a measure of the utter paucity of our politics when Clegg is held up to be 'the great white hope'.

  53. I was thoroughly unimpressed by Clegg in the first debate, but I had no video. Tonight I shall be watching as well as listening. Wonder if it'll make a difference?

  54. Oh, and thanks for the link, Dot!

  55. 13thDukeofWybourne
    No, I think that too largely, but if we're debating the strategy of it - JD - Clegg could play a strong hand. This country is not as riddled with ultra right wingnuts as the US (yet) and a lot of people have gone off our foreign enterprises since Wooton Basset became the Sunday Express' new Althorp House.

    The press today were even full of mendacious crap than normal.

    It's a cracking read... I like JLC enormously.

  56. PhilippaB
    Can you bet against Torres pissing off abroad next season too ? Cheers.

  57. Your Grace

    I absolutely remain to be convinced by Clegg in every sense. It's a measure of the utter paucity of our politics when Clegg is held up to be 'the great white hope'.

    You're right...but as you said earlier (I think it was you), we are at such a pretty pass, that what he's promising seems attractive, or at least, less unattractive than the alternatives .

  58. It is indeed a piss poor offering we have. best scenario:

    Hung parliament ? Or heads-on poles style peoples' revolt ?

  59. Philippa - cheers for that. I'll keep an eye out for it.

    Paul - Haha - Prescott Vs Arni. Now I'd pay to watch that....

    13th Duke -

    'Everyone is wanking themselves silly over a professional bureaucratic politician who really in my eyes has said nothing of substance.

    I absolutely remain to be convinced by Clegg in every sense. It's a measure of the utter paucity of our politics when Clegg is held up to be 'the great white hope''.

    Haha - I agree, to some extent.

    I'm not a big Clegg fan, and I certainly think he was probably 'picked' because of his 'Blairesque' qualities (as was Cameron), which is enough to make me cautious.....

    However, I do think, generally, having that third party, not only not discounted from the outset, but actually gaining on the other two, can only be good for our 'democracy' in the long run (or at least, less bad!)

    (If only because we might finally see a re-think of the old two-party-FPTP paradigm/joke if they do reasonably well....)

  60. (*whispering) - heads on poles....

  61. For me, Your Grace, the best thing about Clegg is Cable, if that makes any sense at all.

    We need an economist in charge of the economy, not some posh Bullingdon twat. Alastair Darling and Brown have done a reasonable job so far, but they haven't gone far enough in wealth redistribution which is what I thought Labour used to be about. Clegg's policies in that respect make more sense to me. I like the idea of raising the tax threshhold to 10,000 - that is going to help a lot of struggling families. I also like the idea of a mansion tax - why should someone living in a house worth 2 million or more not pay considerably more tax on their property that the poor sod in a two up two down? In fact, I'd like to see a return to the old "rates" system we used to have before Thatch brought in her "community charge" tax on the poor, and the council tax hybrid that was spewed in its wake.

    But that's just me.

  62. BB
    the old rates system was left to rack up iniquity for years, quite delibarately imho. The result was pure Thatcherism.

    It's the Lib Dem or the Tory round my gaff. The current Labour one's been so on message she speaks in txt. Absolute crap MP, and on the way out by many estimates...

    See youse later. Got a cold bottle of French cider and a warm garden to sort me out.

  63. @BB/Bitterweed

    Agree that marathon programmes with a heavy content
    are a bad idea.Once watched an all-night American
    documentary about daily life in a Hospice.Got quite
    angry at the mechanical way the nurses related to
    their dying patients.Total lack of compassion.
    Patients were literally bullied into giving their consent to various things.Although i could
    understand the necessity i hated the 'attitude'.
    Very draining experience!!.

  64. OK guys - gonna bugger off cost I am getting backache sitting in this horrible chair. Sigh.

    Will try and pop back later.

  65. Evening Sheff,

    I definitely didn't say anything positive about the Liberal Democrats! I've just come across this article about Cleggmania.

    The key for me with Clegg tonight is if he comes out and categorically states that he is committed to withdrawing from Afghanistan and will work in a hung parliament to ensure this happens. I will give him credit for it.

    If he (as I expect) flim flams and pays lip service to the topic then he's as committed to the foreign policy status quo as the other two. And as this article shows, there's not much confidence he will be strong on the topic.

    Their policy on Trident appears absolute flim flam as well. Clegg says the UK's Trident renewal is effective and they will replace it with an unspecified independent nucelar deterrent. Apparently Menzies Campbell is looking into it.

    With Clegg's unexpected victory and now 'threat' I fully expect Cameron and Brown to try nail Clegg on these two foreign policy areas.

  66. Your Grace

    A lot hangs on what Clegg says tonight and and how he responds to what he'll get shot at him from the other two. Everyone's beady eyes will be following every gesture and twitch he makes and every word he utters. He can't afford to flim flam, so if he does he's stuffed. He can plummet just as fast as he's risen and the realist in me thinks he probably will. But I'm open to being surprised.

  67. James

    Don't be shy, no need to whisper :-)) I prefer the heads on poles option too but will make do with a hung parliament.

  68. Sheff,

    well, you don't know who's 'listening', innit.

  69. Paul / JD
    Thing is, I kind of knew what I was going to see; at least in terms of the savagery and the EU's culpability in starting those serial wars. What I didn't realise was how closely responsible I would feel - the UK were right in the thick of deciding to recognising Croatia (against all the better judgement) and that led to an eight year long total transnational bloodbath in the Balkans. I almost felt personally culpable, as a Brit, living two hours flight away from those valleys. I'll never forget the tone of moral superiority and sour complacency that Douglas Hurd and Whitehall - the UK government - had over the whole matter. I felt sick as a dog. Then I switched on the one oclock news, and guess what - that morning, the Dunblane masacre had taken place. I shit ye not. Some morning.

    That evening I got pretty drunk, and someone started lecturing me on animal rights and I tore such a strip off her I still feel like apologising again fifteen years later. I went nuts. Grim. But *that* is what fucked up, greedy and complacent Foreign Policy does to innocent people overseas.

  70. Right. Football. Back later..

  71. Right! Have pizza, have dip, have wine.

    Lemme at 'em.

    (have again bowed out of communal debate-watching, on the grounds that my mates don't need to see that...)

    listen and type, listen and type...

  72. Evenin' all. If Cleggy has the last of the summary whine and says his party will pull out of Afghanistan, they've got my vote. Absolutely no chance that's going to happen... there's more chance that Ngog is going to get a hat trick tonight.

    I was going to listen to the match on the radio, while getting ready for work, but if I put a mirror in the right place and wheel the telly round, I don't need to take a radio into the shower - now I can just watch Ngog. (Sorry)

  73. Fucking hell. My mate's teenage daughetr has just joined facebook group:

    "This volcano has stopped more immigrants in 2 days than labour in 12 years."


  74. Bitterweed,

    I'll reply to your 19:37 post after these shananigans if that's OK!

  75. Paedos..... well, didn't see that one coming....

  76. "Size does matter" - phwoar Nick!

  77. Is Gordon going to go back to 'jobs' and 'recovery' for every question?

  78. Thaum,

    Haha - That's one for the laydees!!

  79. btw - who's the Christopher Biggins lookalike who's 'presenting'?

  80. Is Cameron wearing a hairpiece?That hair looks
    like it,s been sprayed on.

  81. http://www.itv.com/electiondebate/

    handy real time polls to get an idea of how people are judging it round the country

  82. Paul - haha - I definitely think he's had a few hairplugs put in special, for the campaign like!!

  83. missed the 'paedo' thing fetching more dip - whassat?

  84. Clegg- "We're in Afghanistan to keep us safe".

    Taa daa!!!

    Well done Nick, you're a made man, welcome to the oligarchy. Biscuits and coffee are on your left and the BAE man is on the right with his cock out. Just get sucking when you're ready.

  85. Clegg used the breaking of a paedophile ring as a 'pro-Europe' whatsit.

    (didn't have it on me bingo card!)

  86. I think Cameron was attempting a joke there!

  87. quote of the night over on the cif thread:

    "This is the worst Kraftwerk gig I've ever seen"

  88. ""We're in Afghanistan to keep us safe".

    Taa daa!!!

    Well done Nick, you're a made man, welcome to the oligarchy."


  89. Gordon Brown's going down swinging, innit!!

  90. Am undecided about Trident!

  91. stolen from Twitter after the first one, I rather think your grace!

    "you can't just rustle up a nuclear deterrent"
    now that's a Blue Peter project to really go after...

  92. Another 'joke' from Cameron falls flat!

    Nice one Duke btw!

  93. Cameron totally ignoring Brown's questions on Green issues!

  94. If anyone says GET REAL again they,ll get a cyber

  95. Haha

    St Michaels double glazing.


  96. Paul

    If anyone says GET REAL again they,ll get a cyber

    Amen to that!!

    (Gordon's 'bully side' seems to coming through a bit more tonight, I think..)

  97. They're all looking a bit annoyed with each other....

  98. Clegg@Dave

    "You dont need new treaties but you do need to work with people in Europe who at least think climate change exists, that would be a start".

    Poor Dave, struggling again...

  99. Camerons hairpiece is definitely sliding backwards.
    Very unkind of the camerman to do a close up and
    make it so obvious!!

  100. Oooooo Catholic paedo scandal and birth control!

  101. Yeah was a good question, thaum.

  102. If it does get all physical and that, I've got a tenner on Clegg - any takers?
    (I'm mainly looking at you there Pipster!!)

  103. Priceless shot of man yawning there...


  104. What? What I do?

    Have just finished pizza, am casting around for biscuits. this may get tense.

  105. Heh heh, Cameron's just lost the wavering-between-Tories-and-BNP vote.

  106. Hi All--Watching here too, they all seem more aggressive today. Cameron is a patronising puffin to the questioners. Slimy.

  107. Pope ? Yeah, good question, fucking cack answers. Puscilanimity squared.

    One nil to Atletico also. Liverpool playing like wet flanels.

    Double Fuck-it.

  108. T'was just a reference to your liking the odd flutter...

  109. Ah. Am saving up for city v spurs. 12 goal stunner, trust me.


  110. Cameron is soooo going to lose the expenses / clean Parliament argument.

  111. They do seem more confident tonight but were all crap on the Pope question - I noticed that Clegg struggled quite a bit with that one.

    Cameron has a tone to his voice which is annoying - you're right Boudican he does sound patronising.

  112. This comment has been removed by the author.

  113. Nice one Gordon on the inheritance tax!

  114. Ooh, I used to live in Westbury-upon-Trim.

  115. "All women in future to have full state pension" - wahey! Me no kids, no interruption to employment (so far)....

  116. As Mutley once said "sckin fckin rckin bstr"

    If it's about the footie or the politics, I dunno.

  117. 1100 business leaders...

    I'm havin' that as the name of my band!!

  118. scratch that

    I'm havin' rubble of the recession instead!

  119. Pipster

    did you find biscuits?

  120. no i didn't. am v cross. think there may be some choclate in the freezer...

  121. rubbish, I was going to live vicariously!!

  122. I'm not sure about the amnesty scare-mongering from DC and GB!

  123. Never realised we had so many criminal gangs and that all illegal immigrants were working for them, but really want to just pay taxes.

  124. "You can't deport 900,000 people - you don't know where they live" - zing!

  125. ****Warning - need to shout****



  126. Is it nearly over now? Can't say I've learnt anything new and now they seem to be just going over the same old ground as they went over last week only doing it marginally more smoothly. They've obviously had some coaching.

  127. sheff

    I do hope so. Nearly over, that is.

  128. Very telegenic closing by Clegg. Loadsa bullshit, but well done.

  129. Initial reactions to the 2nd debate - Cameron and the Tories are fucked (insubstantial nonsense - btw where was the big society?). Clegg is a lightweight populist neolibcon who lies plausibly. Brown is a very unpopular liar with some apparent substance.

    My current prediction of eventual percentage of vote: 1Lib 2 Lab 3 Con. (assuming turnout higher than usual). Wouldn't it be interesting if the UK finally were forced to really try 'coalition' government? Perceived wisdom in the UK seems to be that this will cause an economic and social apocalypse. I guess they never ever looked at the success of post-war Denmark, Germany etc etc.

    This could be a turning point, but the Conservatives must 'lose' for the UK to go forward.

  130. have just found out something interesting - deadline for postal vote was this Tuesday, deadline for proxy vote is next Tuesday - so will ring up tomorrow, see if I can switch proxies to someone who can get to Ladywell....

    May not have given up my 0.018 of a vote just yet.

  131. Initial reactions to the 2nd debate - Cameron and the Tories are fucked (insubstantial nonsense - btw where was the big society?). Clegg is a lightweight populist neolibcon who lies plausibly. Brown is a very unpopular liar with some apparent substance.

    My current prediction of eventual percentage of vote: 1Lib 2 Lab 3 Con. (assuming turnout higher than usual). Wouldn't it be interesting if the UK finally were forced to really try 'coalition' government? Perceived wisdom in the UK seems to be that this will cause an economic and social apocalypse. I guess they never ever looked at the success of post-war Denmark, Germany etc etc.

    This could be a turning point, but the Conservatives must 'lose' for the UK to go forward.

  132. Is it me, or was the ratio of talk-time Clegg:Cameron:Brown 70:20:10?

  133. I can,t believe people will make up their minds who
    to vote for based on this televised crap.If this
    triggers another Clegg surge then i give up!Wankers
    the lot of them!

  134. Hiya Scherf! Yes, agree. Very poor performance by Cameron and your other analyses were right on too.

    Will probably vote for the plausible liar in hopes of getting PR.

  135. The woman on now is making some sense, ie "none has agreed to pull out of Afghanistan ... there's nothing between them".

  136. Paul
    Wankers the lot of them!

    Hi scherfig.

  137. Helen Mary Jones, Plaid Cymru, apparently.

  138. Although i will concede that Clegg did across better
    than the other two wasters!

  139. Hi scherfig

    Well rehearsed sound bites everywhere. Do they never learn?

  140. Farage. Now there's a wanker!

  141. Meanwhile, Simon Jenkins is making a like haughty eighteenth-century princess royal again over on CiF - about "scientists" and "science"...

  142. Hi, everybody! Just a flying visit, love to all.

  143. hey, scherf!

    (got biscuits?)

  144. Hi scherfig

    Think we 'met' once a few weeks ago.Hope all,s good
    with you!!

  145. I'm agnostic about whether the debates are a good thing or not. On one hand, I'm suspicious of creeping Americanism; on the other hand, I think it might be a good way for the majority of voters and potential voters to hear basic positions. Let's face it, most people don't read the manifestos.

    The other reason I'm suspicious is that I thought Clegg came out much better in this one than the first, but suspect it's because this time I saw the video and wasn't just listening.

  146. Thaum,

    I think that's why I like the debates more than most.

    You get a better picture, often sub-conscious, than you would otherwise.

    Yes, it is overly stage-managed etc, but there's always the little 'tells' that cannot be prevented, or the little twitches that tell a different story to the words being spoken.

    Put it all together, and you get a more accurate overall impression, in my opinion.

  147. @thaumaturge

    Agree with you.But as you and others said we
    desperately need PR in this country to set politics
    alight.Cos at the moment it,s the floating voters
    in the marginals who decide who wins General
    Elections.And let.s just say some of them may be
    easily bought.

  148. James - yes, the twitches in the non-currently-speaking candidates were instructive.

    Paul - agree, the most important thing is to get a fairer (aaaagh, did I really use that word?) voting system.

  149. Radio 4 now interviewing, like, idiots...

  150. none of whom can speak English in a recognisable form.

  151. Can't take any more of this electionmania tonight - off to bed. Night all.

  152. Nobody said, who came out on top in this mass debating session? Can any of you swallow it?

  153. Glad they picked up the little cheap shot from Sky on Newsnight, the smirking dig from nowhere by the "moderator" - "And you were on the front page of the telegraph today werent you, Nick?"


  154. habib - think this was more level, but clegg still ahead, brown less weird than last time, cameron a bit better but only a bit.

    best idea of the night - "you can't just rustle up a nuclear deterrent" - makes it sound like frantically checking the fridge for what you can use to make a pudding.

    anyway - night all - have to try to regain my vote tomorrow....need to be awake...

  155. Night Philippa,

    In my opinion, Clegg had the edge again on performance, and substance (though that's relative, granted).

    To me, Brown came across as quite aggressive tonight, and seemed very reluctant to engage in any actual debate (Lost count of the number of times a particular issue was about 'jobs', and 'his strong leadership on the world stage when it came to the economy').

    Cameron seemed very snooty tonight too, spitting his dummy out about Labour leaflets, but refusing to actually address the claims of said leaflets properly. He also was found wanting on some of his other claims too. His cheeks went red a number of times, and you could see the facade of call me Dave slipping.

    It was also interesting that both Brown and Cameron seemed to be making a concerted attempt to attack Clegg (like I suspected they would), but in the end couldn't end up disguising their disgust for each other.

    And finally, I do think Clegg maintained his composer best, despite aforementioned attacks, and, for the most part, managed to respond to them with actual solid rebuttals and explanations, rather than recycling the same sound bite over and over, like the other two seemed to be doing.

    (He also gets a bonus point for me because when it came to immigration, I think he actually had the balls to make some suggestions, that will undoubtedly be unpopular because they didn't seek to put the issue in black and white terms)!!

    Again, though, that's just my opinion...

  156. erm... or not!


    Night folks.

  157. Watching Question Time and to be honest most of what
    the panellists are saying is going in one ear and out
    the other.Just as much of what the 3 leaders were
    saying earlier made little impression.Extremely
    disillusioned with politics in this country.Just
    want to rip the piss out of the lot of them.
    Politicians seem to have a regressive effect on me.
    Like going back to being one of the bad lads at
    school.And i,m a grown man FFS.Tough times are ahead
    and yet don,t see any political solutions on the
    horizon.Wish i could feel more positve!

  158. Away, Paul, have a pint! Ain't none of 'em worth any of your thought. Just do what you have to do, to get by. Funny thing about legality, it only gets ignored by those who make the laws.

  159. Or those who know how to get around them.

  160. @Hi habib

    You,re probably right.Too much thinking can be bad
    for the soul.But if we don,t think then we let those
    with power do whatever the fuck they want to do.And
    what depresses me most of all is that i see British society like a slow-motion car crash that is gonna happen yet i,m absolutely powerless to stop it.
    Anyway won,t bore you any longer with my 'downer'.
    Hope alls well with you up north!

    @Evening medve.

  161. Never stop thinking, Paul. You don't become suckered, that way. We'll get by, we always have...

  162. Wrote a post earlier on Cif about the Muslim
    face veil.Am expecting a lot of flak for it because
    i am in favour of a ban in public spaces where inter-action is required.The Holy Koran doesn,t demand that a woman cover her face and there is no cultural precedant in this country for that to happen. Plus there is also the issue of women being eitherforced or put under pressure to wear the face veil against their will.

    I was talking to a couple of women i know from the middle east about this who have lived in this country
    for many years and are now British.And they were
    saying how concerned they were at the small but
    growing number of Muslim women in Britain who are
    now appearing in public with their faces covered.
    So other than banning it how can women be prevented
    from being forced to wear it?And what hope does a
    woman have of getting a job if her face is covered?

    I also spoke to some Hindu and Chinese shopkeepers
    in my neighbourhood who say would want the right
    not to serve anybody entering their shop with their
    faces covered.And they all have notices up saying NO HOODIES so why can,t that extend to the face veil as well?

    Last time i posted a similar view i was accused of being a racist,a fascist,islamaphobic etc etc.I
    can handle that but i,d be lying if i said it didn,t
    grate a bit.The Muslim communities in Britain have
    the worst leves of poverty and social deprivation in this country and there are a number of reasons for that.Some of which are down to cultural attitudes
    which have nothing to do with Islam.And which some
    may argue are actually unIslamic.And women who
    cover their faces and who in effect shut themselves off from mainsteam British society are-in my opinion- a small but growing example of a cultural practice which is actually unislamic.

  163. Yeah, Paul, that muslim face veil is causing loads of problems. Just like the hoodies are. Honestly it's getting out of hand.

  164. Hi Paul

    just been catching up - watched rerun of great debate - not much to choose between them I thought.

    Yes - Muslim women. Agreed - covering s not a religious covering - purely cultural. Muslim women I know here are not supporters of covering or indeed of Sharia law even in civil matters. Seveal told me the only way forward for them is to be free to dress as they like and to freed from the many of the restrictive bonds placed on women. All are believing Muslims and do not want their religion damaged but recognise their right to freedom of choice in personal matters - as much as any of us have total freedom !

    These things are difficult to discuss on Cif - the debate is always polarised with no room for discussin around the middle ground - or even any questioning - same with immigration.

  165. I mean, come on, if we can't see these people's faces, how will we know if they're alright or not?

  166. Paul

    An everyday incident story. In Swansea there is a grocery shop run by Afghani family. I go there with my Indian friend (Hindu ). Many Muslim women shop there - about half wear full burka.

    S and I went to buy food for children's party - - 4 Muslim women were there , 1 in burka. We got chatting - recipes , usual stuff - ingredients. They were telling me which spices etc for cakes and how to make special sweets. The covered womam stayed aloof - her friends explained she couldn't speak English.

    We paid for goods and left shop. As we ere getting into car the woman in Burka came towards us - she had bought sweets for us for the children. Her friends explained to her what we had been talking about in the shop.

    She stood there silently - holding out the sweets - just nodding at us. The really sad - and horrible - thing about this story is that it was not the lack of language which had excluded her - it was her invisible face. One of the other women had very little English but she was included - we could smile at each other - indicate age of children etc - many ways to communicate without language but you need to see someones face ! I felt ashamed that this one woman had been ignored.

    I wonder if in a society where all women are covered are they able to read a different, more subtle form of body language and non verbal cues ?

  167. Funny thing is, for all of my life I've been taught that religion, culture, tradition is important.

    It's not at all. I think wearing a veil is inherently stupid. I think believing in any god is stupid. Anythng you do just for the sake of tradition is stupid. But, hey, if you want to do it, carry on.

  168. Habib

    Agreed - it should be a matter of choice. The problem is it can be difficult to break with a tradition if it has been instilled in you from childhood.

    We have to be careful with legislation - can be seen as an attack on both religion and tradition. We also have the problem that the Jewish Beth Din courts operate here and UO Jewish women cover their heads and many continue the old tradition of wearing a wig.

    Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all just learn to live together as friends - brothers and sisters all ?

    Every culture has its wonders and its horrors. I see it all as the acievement of us - of mankind - be it the tottering tower like houses in Yemen, paintings of Giotto or music from Senegal. That means I have to accept all the horrors too and not say some must go but some can stay. All should go.

  169. All should stay, Leni, because none of us know with certainty what is right. We do have a rough idea of what is wrong, though.

  170. Hi Leni and Heyhabib

    I,m usually quite relaxed about peoples right to follow whichever path they want to.But this face veil presses the alarm bells with me.And i don,t
    want to sound racist but i think the failure of the White Liberal Establishment in this country to address this properly is just storing problems for the future.

    The Holy Koran says women must dress modestly,it
    says women are equal to men,it does not require Muslims to have arranged marriages,it preaches against abortion but not against contraception.
    Yet too often this is not being practiced in
    Britains Muslim communities and that is holding
    those communties back in my opinion.

    In my road there is a Muslim couple who at HIS
    instigation have become increasingly radicalised.
    He now has the pointy beard and the full garments
    as does his little son when both used to dress like
    everyone else in the street.She now only appears
    in public not only covered from head to toe but also
    with the face veil.She used to be a lively friendly
    woman but will now only talk to the woman i live
    with.We,ve both seen the way she has been broken down bit by bit.He dotes on his son who is a spoilt little shit whilst she is left with her little daughter and is now pregnant with her third child in 5 years.

    Now all the fucking PC mob can argue about the
    freedoms of this and the rights of that but at the
    end of the day Muslim women need to be empowered.And
    they need to be empowered within a British context
    where they are in control of their destinies.And for
    starters that fucking face veil has got to go.

    Apologies for the language Leni.

  171. There is no certanty - but certain restrictive practices can limit our ability to exploreand try to understand. We ae all locked into certain modes of thought - we think and live within certain parameters. I am not saying 'all should go ' through legislative means - I wouldn't ban tha burka by legal process.

    I do not think there will ever be universal agreement - that would be worse as it would close all avenues of search and discovery - once - if ever - we arrived at a 'conclusion' on which we all agreed life would become more sterile and empty.

    Only when we stop being afraid - of God, the future, ourselves, others , - will we begin to live in real freedom/

    It's very complicated - we are complicated. The law often creates more problems than it solves.

  172. Paul

    In this case it is the coercion that is wrong - not the burka. This is where it gets difficult. If you are sure the woman was coerced and doesn't wear the burka from choice I can understand your anger.

    The imposition of the husband's belief on his wife and family is wrong - but then I would say that no child is born a Christian or a Muslim. A child is born into a family - who may follow a given religion. If one or both parents are very observant then religious practices are passed onto the child. This is true of all religions - I see no way round this. Children grow up - some reject religion and family tradition - others continue it. We cannot raise children outside of their families in a God free zone - then return 16 year old atheists to the family home.

    Abuse of many kinds within families is difficult to overcome. So called 'domestics ' were only made illegal during my lifetime - even though this meant that wives - and sometimes husbands - could be beaten almost to death without any official interference. Sexual abuse of children used to be ignored.

    Cultural practices are very difficult to address - some young Muslimas are choosing Islamic dress though their mothers never veiled or even wore a head scarf. The wearing of beards among younf Muslims also seems to be on the rise - this through choice - perhaps a way of asserting identity - perhaps a passing fashion and perhaps in some cases a sign of religious fervour.

  173. Post been snatched away - night night xx

  174. Hi Leni

    But the point i,m making is if there was a ban on
    the face veil in public then this woman would have to show her face irrespective of her husbands wishes.Also
    i would like to see tighter controls on arranged
    marriages as well-and especially with those with
    a spouse from overseas.So this way young British Muslim women will be in a stronger position to assert
    themselves.And surely this is a good thing.

  175. @heyhabib
    I,m not saying someone should give up all their
    cultural traditions if they choose to live in Britain.
    I know from my own experience that would be totally
    unacceptable.But some communities like the Hindu,s
    Sikhs and Jews have in varying degrees held on to
    their cultural values without putting themselves on
    a collision course with the the core British value
    of being in control of your destiny.And that i feel is
    something that more Muslims should be prepared to
    do.I just don,t see how insisting a woman has her
    face uncovered in public spaces where she is inter-acting with others is somehow an affront to her religion here in Britain.I know you don,t see it that
    way but some misguided people do.

  176. Hi to the person from Argentina who is lurking.

  177. Paul

    I too would like to see all arranged marriages stopped - though there is a difference between arranged and forced marriage.

    I don't disagree with your sentiments - I just don't know the way forward in this.

    The empowerment of women trapped in these situations is difficult. A woman has to feel confident enough and to be sure of a support system which will protect her. Women brought from abroad to be married have a restricted visa which denies them the right to work and the right to draw benefits.

    If they have no children they can be deported if the marriage breaks down. To return in disgrace in some cultures can mean her total rejection and in some cases her death.Once she leaves her husband she is homeless and usually penniless . Destitution does not mean she will get benefits - she has to be destitute plus ! Isn't British law wonderful ? The plus is not defined.

    If she has children - or is pregnant - she may be allowed to stay here but may be rejected by her local community.

    Of course women and children should be protected - it is also true that boys should be too. The little boy you descibe is a 'shit' because he is being taught to be one. He may in the future bully his wife - or he may think things out for himself.

  178. Hi Leni

    Outrageous that a childless woman can be deported
    back to an uncertain future in her own country
    if the marriage breaks down.That certainly needs
    to change.Have got to go now.The reality of work
    beckons!Lovely 'talking' to you as always.Might
    be able to come back on-line later.Hope your rib
    is healing.Nite x

  179. Paul, people have to do what they think is right. That I am in agreement with you is neither here nor there. That all of us have a right to do what we perceive to be right, as long as it breaks no law, is fair.

    The laws we break are the one's we choose not to heed. I would rather that there were less laws and more sense, let religious people practice their beliefs if they break no law.