Sunday, 31 March 2013

Saturday Six 32 - Bishops, Immigrants, Growth and Gays. And Boris.

So it's Saturday Sunday - it must be time for another tasty half dozen posts and articles which I've found thought provoking, interesting and/or enjoyable over the past week or so...

First up, from this morning, Stephen (Glenn) takes on Lord Carey (something I'm quite likely to do here later, too...) and another bishop is featured as Stephen (Tall)'s Liberal of the Week - the Bishop of Dudley urges leadership not capitulation on the issue of immigration.

Not unrelated to immigration (given the economic benefits it can bring, and the need for government raise its income and seek to engineer growth, this piece of budget analysis is quite insightful.

Last Sunday's stand in on Andrew Marr's Sunday morning show was Eddie Mair. One of the guests was Boris Johnson. Mair deployed his subtle but deadly interview technique to fatal effect as outlined in this report.

And finally two articles about pioneers in their fields. First, Robbie Rogers in the Guardian on his very public coming out - and what's next and then: "When I was in the Military  they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one." - The powerful story of one man who took on the US Air Force in the 70's.

Andrew

Sunday Sounds 70 - Thine Be The Glory

Blogging has been light for various reasons lately but that may be over-compensated by a slew of posts today, so be (potentially) warned!

Anyway, for Easter Sunday, Handel provides the music to one of my favourite hymns (and, yes, an athiest is allowed to have favourite hymns!)



I was also quite taken by this instrumental version:


Andrew

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

NOW! That's What I Call A Tune! 77

We may not (yet) be getting Plan B for the Economy - and Ben Drew is unlikely to be made Chancellor - but I can still feature him here. From NOW! That's What I Call Music! 77, here is Prayin':



Andrew

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A Journey through Texas - Mothers Heaven

It's time for the second entry in my meander through Texas' back catalogue in the run up to the release of the new album on May 20th.

Today, though, saw the release of The Conversation - and we can finally hear a studio recording of a song which has been played by the band at the odd few concerts they have actually played over the past couple of years. The single version has a more poppy sound than this version, although it does still have the country twinges. To be honest, I'm not sure what to make of it at this point, but have purchased it for multiple listens and further digestion. I suspect it will work better in the context of the album. It's not getting a physical release, but it is available on iTunes et.c if you want your own copy...


Texas' second album, after Southside, was 1991's Mothers Heaven. Much less successful here, their continued popularity in France and the Low Countries ensured the band survived to record a third album before the triumphant return to the higher reaches of the UK charts with White on Blonde in 1997... but that's getting ahead of myself.

Mothers Heaven kicks off with the title track which in some ways echoes I Don't Want A Lover at the start of Southside. The long instrumental intro (in this case an accordion playing a French-sounding tune) gives way to familiar guitars and Sharleen Spiteri's voice-as-instrument as she sings two lines beautifully, hauntingly, purely. The (then) trademark Texas' guitars and drums are launched - although there is a hint of the keyboard effects that would become Texas' staples on future albums.

It's a great opener - especially for a second album - reassuring the listener that the band hasn't gone off in a wacky direction*. The solidly familiar sound (although again with hints of what was to come) continues with Why Believe In You.



Dream Hotel is less rocky than the first two tracks - and takes the pace down, giving Spiteri a chance to demonstrate her range with her voice carrying a sultry tone. It's a low-key track whose impact is more felt by its immediate absence when it fades to silence in the end. It is followed by This Will All Be Mine in which Spiteri is accompanied by little more than a slide guitar and the faintest of backing tracks with only a couple of pieces of punctuation from the drums.

For all they may well be regarded as firmly "Middle of the Road", Texas have often tried to experiment within the confines of what they do. This hasn't always been successful - but it has enabled them to re-invent themselves and regain previous successes when they have been in danger of disappearing up cul-de-sacs. 

At 6'46" Beliefs is longest track on the album. Somehow, though, it manages to be less than the sum of its parts. Heavy guitars, solid drums, a catchy chorus and Spiteri's vocal all combine to create a track that is enjoyable but transient. It's followed by Alone With You (the second track in the above video) which I suspect is the track I'll be singing for the rest of the week.

Next is In My Heart which starts with electronic introduction before the more familiar Texas sound re-appears for what is almost an anthemic song about choosing between reality and dreams.


Waiting is this album's "Southside": an instrumental track to reduce the tempo and to lead into the understated but beautiful Wrapped in Clothes of Blue. Return has more than the usual country tinge to it, and limited instrumentation - it's a simple track which revels in its simplicity. Finally the plaintive Walk The Dust finishes the album in a pretty low key way. 
 
The album is oft overlooked in Texas' canon - probably because of the lack of commercial success. The 2001 Greatest Hits album did not feature any tracks from it although "In My Heart" did appear on the 2005 package "The Collection".
 
I've always thought that Mothers Heaven was somewhat unjustly overlooked - but having re-listened to it, with a critical ear - and frame of mind - I fear I may have to concur with those who feel it lacks substance, coherence or a stand-out track.
 
Musically, Mothers Heaven is similar to Southside, although the album as a whole is more downbeat and subdued; the bass drum that characterised much of the first album is less evident and there is a softer sound in evidence. 
 
That said, the album is of a piece with their debut - some of the future developments, even if foreshadowed, were still very far away - but we shall come to those in future weeks.
Andrew
* This will be covered when we get to "Careful What You Wish For"...

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Saturday Six 31 - The (very) belated edition


After a week of busy Lib-demmery, and a day mostly avoiding the t'interweb until I had seen the Grand Prix, I'm now kicking back listening to the new BBC radio adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. Anyway, here is my selection of blogs I've liked over the past week.

I don't agree with all of this, but Nick Barlow makes some good points and if we don't fight for liberalism, who will?

This may be just a bit of mischief making, or mark a more general softening in tone from Labour. Either way, it's worth a read over on Labour Uncut

Liberal Conspiracy has some analysis on the Employment figures - and the government's tendency to exaggerate what is a surprisingly good picture.

On the budget, Gareth Epps points out that the elephant in the room is housing shaped...

I disagree with Stephen Tall on Leveson but on this piece from Lib Dem Voice there is little between us.

Finally, another great infographic from Mark Pack.

Andrew


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

NOW! That's What I Call A Tune! 76

This week's act have charted 8 times - but with just 5 songs. Indeed, in terms of the Top 40, they have charted 5 times with 3 songs! This, their second (and fifth) Top 40 hit, has a wonderfully infectious, catchy chorus - Train with Hey, Soul Sister:


Andrew

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Anthology 42 - Vogon Poetry

I had chosen the poem I was going to post and came online to do just that - only to discover this was number 42 in my anthology strand. So, inspired by Stephen, I paid my own visit to the BBC's Vogon Poetry Generator site, and here is the result:


See, see the lovely sky
Marvel at its big neon green depths.
Tell me, Amy do you
Wonder why the turtle ignores you?
Why its foobly stare
makes you feel Groggy.
I can tell you, it is
Worried by your Spoondonalig facial growth
That looks like
A pesto.
What's more, it knows
Your cummerbund potting shed
Smells of pea.
Everything under the big lovely sky
Asks why, why do you even bother?
You only charm used cat litters.



You can have a go here.

Andrew

Monday, 18 March 2013

A Journey through Texas - Southside

8 weeks today*, Texas' 8th studio album 'The Conversation' will be released. In anticipation, this series will look at each of the proceeding albums in turn - charting the changing sound and developing image of the band. 

I've conducted this exercise (re-listening to back catalogue in order) in the past but it is still interesting to consider the album as part of a larger body of work - and seek to identify the common features and where the changes in sound occurs. From memory of past exercises, this isn't where it's normally assumed to be. It'll be interesting to see if past conclusions still hold true for me.

The one real constant in Texas' œuvre are the lyrics and without Spiteri's song-writing skills - and Johnny McElhone's musical abilities - I doubt that Texas would have survived the lacklustre performances of their second and third albums, even given the success of these in continental Europe. But more of that in due course, I'm sure. 

We'll start, logically enough, with Southside from way back in 1989...


I still remember making the trip from Dunfermline to Cowdenbeath to spend Woolworths gift vouchers that my Aunt and Uncle had given me for Christmas, the Woolworths in Dunfermline having closed sometime before. I had three options - Depeche Mode's 101Pet Shop Boys' Introspective and Southside. Texas won out and those precious 12 inches of vinyl started a life-long love affair.


The album starts with what is probably still Texas' best known track: I Don't Want A Lover. The first sound you hear is the twangy guitar solo with a heavy beat kicking in after 30 seconds. Lyrically, it heralds what is Texas' stock-in-trade - songs about relationships from a strong female viewpoint. Sharleen Spiteri may have resisted attempts to market her rather than Texas as a band but there has never been any doubt that the band's voice is hers.


The heavy beat and Country and Western guitars continue through Tell Me Why and Everyday Now - although to my ears there's a hint of the more soulful aspect of Spiteri's voice on the latter which would appear on later albums, and on her solo album, Melody.
 

Southside itself is a short instrumental - something which became a feature of future Texas albums - adding the work as a whole whilst being slightly incongruous in their own right. In this case it provides a more mellow counterpoint to the proceeding numbers - ideal for the gentler sound of I Say A Prayer with it's softer guitar-led rhythm.


Back in the late eighties it wasn't unusual for CDs to feature additional tracks as the music industry sought to encourage the format in preference to Vinyl. The next song on the album as I listen to is is, therefore, such a track - Faith ups the tempo again before one of my personal favourites: Thrill Has Gone. If one track were to epitomise this album (other than, perhaps, I Don't Want a Lover) then this is the one: it has the beat, it has the guitars and it has the lyrics that tell of a post-break-up blame game:





(I know the visual quality is lower than I would normally prefer for this blog, but thought it would be interesting for you to see the styling of the band way back then!)

The next couple of tracks - Fight the Feeling and Fool For Love - continue in much the same vein, with Fool For Love succeeding at being pleasant but relatively forgettable. The penultimate track, One Choice, though, is another highlight of the album in the mould of the lead track and Thrill Has Gone.

The album rounds off with another downbeat track, Future is Promises. The guitars are brought back to being front and foremost and the Spiteri's voice has an almost-haunting quality with more hints of the soulful sound I mentioned early. It's another favourite:





Listening to Southside is like having a drink with a long-lost friend. You pick up where you left off and engage in the same conversations as you always have. It would be foolish of me to claim it was a great album - but it is a good album, albeit very much of its time. The band clearly had aspirations of Stadium Rock but with a Country Music twist. Whilst this is distinctive it wasn't right for long-term commercial success - but more of that in the coming weeks...

Andrew

*Erratum: The album is actually released 10 weeks today, I seem to have been getting ahead of myself. I shall use the extra two weeks afforded by this error to provide comment on the Greatest Hits and Live at the BBC albums...

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Sunday Sounds 69

I know, I know... this is a late post. And I hummed and hawed about what to choose. In the end, I decided that given this was number 69 in the series, this was maybe appropriate...

...although there is a link to the subject matter of a brand new blog post series I'm starting tomorrow... Oooh, the intrigue!



Andrew

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Saturday Six 30 - Secret Courts, All Male Panels and DNA

Much has been written again this week regarding Secret Courts, and the resignation of Jo Shaw (one of the leaders of Lib Dems Against Secret Courts) from the party. I could easily fill up this entire post with such pieces again this week. I will refrain, however, and give you this one by Jonathan Calder.

Oh, and maybe this one from The New Statesman's Stagger's blog by Richard Morris.

Meanwhile, Nick Barlow wonders if Clegg wants a new membership...

...or maybe there's something he's not telling us, muses Jonathan Calder.

Away from the issue of Secret Courts, Mark Pack has made a pledge not to participate in male-only panel discussions.

And finally, something to cheer every fan of the late Douglas Adams - a Google Doodle for what would have been his 61st Birthday.

Andrew

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

NOW! That's What I Call A Tune! 75

Okay, okay, I've overlooked Florence + The Machine, Biffy Clyro and even Alicia Keys in my considerations for this entry but, well, I am unrepentant. I may not have followed Glee into a third and fourth series (although may well still get these on DVD in due course) but there is still something infectious about Don't Stop Believin'.

Altogether now: "Just a smalltown girl..."





...and here's a version by the original artists, Journey - the studio recording of this also featured on NOW! 75.



Andrew

Monday, 11 March 2013

Riding it out - Some reflections on #ldconf

On paper, this should have been a great Spring Conference for the Liberal Democrats. Having won in Eastleigh, and getting to grips with the allegations against Lord Rennard, the party should have been in good spirits throughout and come away enthused for more campaigning, and more success. With County Councils elections in England just a few weeks away, this would have been a very desirable outcome.

Instead, I came away feeling somewhat bruised and (slightly) downbeat.*

Now, I don't want to overplay this. It is always good to spend lots of quality time with fellow Liberals. Whether it be in the conference hall listening to debates, in fringe meetings on any of a whole host of topics, in keynote speeches or just catching up with friends, it is just good not to have to constantly justify where you're coming from.

And there were some highlights on the floor of conference: Paddy's rallying call, Steve Webb's speech, Chris Jeffries' excellent contribution to the emergency debate on the Leveson report. And away from the conference floor: seeing friends from Autumn conference and Twitter, Glee Club, and my fanboy moment when Lynne Featherstone mouthed "good morning" when I passed her.

But there was trouble in paradise... the leadership's position on the Security and Justice Bill - at complete odds with the motion passed overwhelmingly at Autumn Conference - was very much on the minds of delegates. It wasn't just that the position taken was so completely out of kilter with the party -  it was the almost complete lack of engagement with the activists that stuck in the craw.

And then there were the shenanigans which led the Federal Conference Committee to decide that the Social Liberal Forum motion on the economy would require an hour to discuss. The effect of this decision - instigated, I am led to believe, by the leader's office - was to ensure that the motion wasn't debated. (There were nine motions in the ballot, and the FCC had decided there would be two half-hour slots. Had the economy motion came top it would have had both slot. But the motion on Secret Courts was always going to win so the economic motion, which came second, was bumped and the third placed motion, on Leveson, was debated instead.)

Due to a schedule clash, I missed Nick's Question and Answer session in which he angered the hall by failing to answer the questions he was asked. I also missed the attempt to have Standing Orders suspended so that the SLF's Economy motion could be taken on Sunday. The latter move failed, on a card count, to achieve the require two-thirds of votes in the hall. So the scene was set for the finale of this 3 act play.

The Secret Courts debate has been well reported elsewhere in the Lib Dem Blogosphere... Jo Shaw who, with Martin Tod and Charlotte Henry, had been leading the Lib Dems Against Secret Courts campaign, moved the motion and resigned from the party. The leadership, having clearly decided some time ago to ride the issue out, didn't even put up a defence. The debate was carried with just ten votes against - with more minds having changed in the course of proceedings.

The hall was subdued for much of the rest of the morning, although Tim Farron's stint as warm up for the Leader's speech did raise the mood somewhat. But Nick's speech, when it came, was disappointing. Yes, it hammered home our slogan for the next two years. Yes, it had some good attack lines against both the Tories and Labour.

But on its central tenet of defending our economic record, it was weak. It lacked any acknowledgement that the current policies were not delivering the results anticipates at the pace desired. To do so would need not necessarily be an admission of error - it is perfectly reasonable to argue that following Labour's opposition strategy (as compared with what they had proposed) would have led to a different but also difficult position: spiralling deficit and debt, much earlier loss of AAA status at a time of Euro crisis, greater currency flight and consequently increased borrowing costs, a vicious circle of spending and borrowing - and all this without a guarantee of increased growth unless it was sustained by the increased public spending.

Clegg's behaviour in scuppering the SLF motion (which would have been embarrassing, calling as it did for much higher levels of capital spending) along with lashing himself to the Government's economic mast, merely emphasised how out of touch he is with many of the activists. The sustained applause that greeted his defence of the European Convention on Human Rights must have been tinged with irony against the backdrop of Secret Courts.

His insistence that we won Eastleigh because of being in national government as well as local government rung hollow (although I still think there are national messages worth communicating.) In the confluence of the circumstances and the rise in the UKIP vote, it clearly was the local record that won through in Eastleigh, though.

Having decided to ride out the party's opposition to Secret Courts, Clegg may now be leading a party whose activists have decided to ride it out with him. Who will continue to fight, for what they believe to be Liberal Democracy. Who will continue to deliver leaflets, canvass, call, fund raise and attend conference. Who may well attend the leader's speech and applaude. But they may well be doing it with a bit less love for Nick than before.

My money would still be on Nick staying until the general election. But unless he makes serious attempts at rebuilding a conversation - a genuine two-way conversation- within the party, he may be the leader of a party fighting in spite, rather than because, of him.

Andrew

*I wasn't alone in this, as Mark Thompson outlines. 

** Alex has a good piece on this topic, including Nick's lack of arguments in favour, here

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Nick Clegg's Conference Speech

I'm beginning my journey home from Brighton, but ahead of, hopefully, doing some commentary later, here's the link to the storify of my live tweeting of Nick Clegg's leadership speech.

Andrew

Corporate Tax Avoidance


I put a speaker's card in for Stephen Williams MP's Corporate Tax Avoidance motion today (page 44) but didn't get called. But this is what I would have said...


Conference,

Taxation is a vast and complex area but it is also one in which it is easy to be populist and to create scapegoats. Where perceived injustices are used to draw dividing lines between us and "them" as movements such as Occupy do.

When determining taxation policy we need to be clear about our aims, objectives and targets.

We should be seeking a taxation code that is fair and reasonable. Where individuals and companies can contribute to society but not be penalised for success.

Conference, it's easy to be populist - and it's easy to attack large earners. But we should resist doing this without a broader strategy for taxation policy: we should speak out against inequalities in our tax system but we should resist the damaging rhetoric of Occupy and others on the left.

We're not - or shouldn't be - out to get the 1%. We're not "for" the 99%. We're for - or should be for- the 100%. Where everyone but the poorest contributes, the richest contribute more, and where everyone benefits from an effective tax code.

And when it comes to Corporate taxation, we should likewise exercise care in our language and motivations. It is easy to attack multinationals but we shouldn't attack big successful companies just for being big and successful. We should attack them when and where they transgress - and we should recognise and seek change where our taxation system is no longer fit for purpose.

But Occupy have one thing right: this is a global issue.

This motion seeks to address the global nature of modern business. To work towards a world where profits are taxed where profits are made - where a latte made in Basildon isn't taxed in Basle.

A world where contrived and artificial corporate structures designed to reduce tax rates are called out for what they are.

It seeks a transparent world, a world where corporate tax receipts will benefit the employees who generated the company's profits - wherever they are.

It's a motion which seeks tax justice - addressing a culture of tax avoidance in less developed areas of the world. That seeks to shine a light on the movement of profit not just out of the UK, but also out of the developing world and to extend the principles we have historically applied in the west so that others can develop more robust regimes and generate revenue.

It's ostensibly about tax avoidance but ultimate it's about moving towards tax fairness internationally.

Conference, please support the motion.

(Note: the motion was carried unammended)

Andrew

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Paddy Rallies the Troops

Paddy Ashdown has just delivered a rallying speech as chairman of the Lib Dem's 2015 General Election campaign. Here are my live tweets from the speech.

Saturday Six 29 - Secret Courts and Lib Dem Conference

I'm preparing this on Friday morning, en-route to Brighton for Lib Dem Spring Conference. One issue dominates this week - the votes in the Commons on Secret Courts (or Closed Material Procedures).

Like most people travelling to conference, I consider Secret Courts top be an affront to Liberalism and Natural Justice. But I've written enough on the subject over the past few weeks and months for the regular reader to know my views, so here's a selection of other blogs, and consideration of where we go from he.

Caron provided some initial reaction from Monday night's votes on Lib Dem Voice - the comments section is quite entertaining (although not particularly constructive...)

The Liberator is right in identifying Secret Courts as being different to many of the proceeding issues in which Lib Dem parliamentarians have defied Party policy. I think this may have ramifications for years to come - particularly post 2015. Tim Farron's decision to vote against the Whip may well have increased his chances of securing the leadership should he decide to stand...

On A View From Ham Common, Richard Morris identifies some of the questions the issue raises. Including "Is There Much Hope?"

Mark Thompson wonders whether it's worth attending Lib Dem Conference at all...

...whilst a more drastic response is suggested by George Potter - and I'm not sure it's all that tongue in cheek either...

It isn't all about Secret Courts though - Caron Lindsay on Lib Dem Voice seeks to put Conference in a wider perspective.

And that's it for another week!

Andrew

Vince Cable at Social Liberal Forum

Unfortunately I can't embed this storify of my Tweets from the Vincent Cable fringe event at Lib Dem Conference, so here's the link.

He was entertaining and on good form... Enjoy!

Andrew

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

NOW! That's What I Call A Tune! 74

Following recent appearances from Paolo Nutini and La Roux in this strand, I very almost chose them again this week (for "Pencil Full of Lead" and "Bulletproof", respectively. As it happens, the act I have gone for has also recently been one of my NOW! Tunes!: MIKA, this time with We Are Golden.

Note that I chose this before I had seen the (rather odd) video:




Andrew

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Was someone listening at Little, Brown and Abacus?

Of course I flatter myself but word reaches me - via The Banksonian - that Abacus are to reissue Iain Banks' back catalogue with completely new jackets, restoring a consistant look across his (non-M) œuvre.

I previous blogged about this here and here - the latter of these two pieces featured the design for the paperback edition of Stonemouth which is template for the new look covers. Here are some of the others:





A vast improvement on the mishmash they had become.

Andrew

Monday, 4 March 2013

In Which My Name Appears in the Daily Mail

As you may know, the Justice and Security Bill returns to the Commons today in a move which appears to have been engineered to get it out of the way before the Liberal Democrats' Spring Conference.
 
My latest blogpost on the subject is here. Aside from blogging, I've also supported conference motions (both when debated at Autumn Conference and when proposed for Spring Conference), signed the petition to our parliamentarians, written an open letter to Nick Clegg, written an actual letter to Nick Clegg and signed a letter to The Times.
 
Over the weekend, I also signed a letter, organised by the Lib Dems Against Secret Courts campaign, which is in today's Daily Mail. My name appears 39th in the list of 116 activists who had signed by the time the letter was submitted.
 
Andrew

Secret Courts - #notinmyname

Over the weekend, there have been reports that the Tories want Britain to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)*. It appears that Theresa May wishes to make this a manifesto commitment for the 2015 general election. This would go further than their 2010 commitment to replace the Human Rights Act (which enshrines the ECHR in British law) with a Bill of Rights. 

It is also at complete odds with the Coalition Programme which spoke of building on all our obligations under the ECHR, ensuring the rights it bestows continue to be enshrined in law and protecting and extending those liberties.
"We will seek to promote a better understanding of the true scope of these obligations and liberties."
One would like to think that these last words were drafted and inserted by the Liberal Democrat side of the coalition. Given the recent rise of UKIP - and an emboldened Tory right - Liberals need to make a positive case for the ECHR (as well as the European Union which, whilst completely separate as an institution, is often deliberately confused with the ECHR.)

The Convention has earned its "hated" reputation as a result of a number of high profile cases, as well as the length of time that things can take in being settled at the Court in Strasbourg. As with any legal system, there will always be cases in which the outcome is at odds with what some (or many) of the populace want. But that is why we have a court system: to prevent mob justice.

Whilst we may disagree with some of the judgements of the Court, the underlying principles of the ECHR are about a society in which people are entitled to liberty and justice without fear or favour. It contains such outlandish notions as the Right to Life, Prohibitions of Torture, Slavery and Forced Labour, Rights to Liberty and Security, Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion, Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Assembly and Association. And it contains a right to fair trial.

Withdrawing from the ECHR would be a retrograde step for Human Rights in this country - but that day (if it is coming) - is some way off. 

Civil Liberties in Britain face a more immediate attack. Today (Monday) the Justice and Security Bill will return to the Commons' for the Report Stage before completing that stage and receiving a Third Reading on Thursday. It appears the Government want to get the Bill out of the way before the Lib Dem Spring Conference, beginning on Friday.**

The bill's principles run contrary not only to the instincts of the Lib Dems at large but also to the Coalition Agreement - but it appears to have been agreed to wholeheartedly by Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander within the "Quad". Furthermore it appears not to have been agreed as part of a deal - so Liberal Democrats now appear to be supporting a piece of Draconian legislation with no Quid Pro Quo. Not only so, but the leadership have not been particularly forthcoming with a explanation or rationale for supporting the legislation.

Liberal Democrats are opposed to the provisions in Part Two of this bill, which provide for "Closed Material Procedures", dubbed Secret Courts. This has been demonstrated with a overwhelming vote in favour of a motion opposing them at Party Conference, numerous blogposts across the blogosphere (including a number of my own), a petition, and letters to The Times. The exception to this rule appears to be the leadership of the party, and our Parliamentarians (with a few honourable dissenters). 

An additional motion was proposed for Spring Conference but rejected by the Federal Conference Committee. An Emergency Motion has now been proposed which it is hoped will be discussed at conference - even if, by then, the die has been cast. If passed, the motion would reaffirm Liberal Democrat policy to repeal the legislation if in a position to do so.

Lib Dems in Government have achieved a number of notable successes - including in the area of Civil Liberties. The ending of Child Detention, abolition of ID cards and the associated database, the scrapping of the Draft Data and Communications Bill. But this bill, if passed would strike at the principles of fair access to courts which have underpinned our legal systems for centuries. This bill would be a stain on our reputation as a Country - and as a Party.

Defending Human Rights and Civil Liberties should be central to our politics. Whether that be supporting the ECHR against a reactionary press or fighting the erosion of basic legal principles against an authoritarian government machine. If the Security and Justice Bill is passed - and Closed Material Procedures become part of Civil Court proceedings - it will be a sad day for Liberal Democracy, and for Liberal Democrats.

Andrew

*For any Sun readers reading this, that's the "Hated European Convention on Human Rights"...

**This, in itself, is a kick in the teeth to all those who campaigned for the party in Eastleigh, securing a win which will have helped to shore up Clegg's position against the small number of those who wish to see a change in leader.

Jo Shaw has written an excellant summary of the current state of play, here.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Sunday Sounds 68

This week's Sunday Sound is something completely different - in the context of my blog but also every time it is performed or heard.

This recording is a full orchestra version. The work is in three movements, although total "performance" time is just 4'33''. It is, of course, John Cage's 4'33":



Enjoy!

Andrew

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Saturday Six 28 - Rennard, Growth, Eastleigh and Rape Jokes

Good Morning, 

Depending on how organised I am, and what else I have on, I sometimes put this post together in stages over the course of the week. Other times, the majority of it is written on Saturday morning. So it is this week, with the exception of the first selection:

As I type this particular entry, it's Sunday evening, and already I cold have filled up this post with entries regarding the allegations against Lord Rennard - and the alleged cover-up. I'm sure there will have been many more articles by the time you read this - but here is a post by Linda Jack which makes some good points.

Over on Not The Treasury View. Jonathan Portes draws a link between much vaunted immigration statistics and UK exports.

Of course, the big news of this week was the Eastleigh by election, won by Mike Thornton for the Lib Dems - a very welcome fillip given how other news has been for us lately. Here are Caron's observations on Lib Dem Voice about what we can learn as a party. By way of contrast and comparison, here's a take by a Tory Supporter, Nick Denys.

Politics can take over your life - Jazz Hands, Serious Business reassures that it's OK to do other things! Honest, it is!

Finally, rape jokes made by machine. Not funny, not plausible. Martin Belam says Solid Gold Bomb's excuse just won't wash.

Andrew