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Showing posts from October, 2007

Kittens and Breast Cancer

A few more pictures

Mummy (of the kittens) is tired.

The babysitter (is actually only 6 months old)

More babysitting (actually about a week ago - kittens grow quickly)

Lord and Lady Mayor plus two members of the leaders office at the coffee morning for breast cancer. It is difficult to fully comprehend James North's attention to detail. A pink tie and pink braces are visible, but he does also have pink socks.

Daily Mail story on David Southall

Following Rachel Pullen's story being public I have been contacted by more people who are being messed about by the system.

In essence the "experts" generally avoid being held to account. The story in the Daily Mail continues another of those examples.

Election results: Thursday 25th October 2007.

Cumbria CC, Penrith East
LD Patricia Bell 800 (59.8; +14.7), Con 380 (28.4; -2.20), Ind 123 (9.2; +3.6), Green 34 (2.5; +2.5), [Lab (0.0; -18.7)].
Majority 420. Turnout 29.7%. Ld hold. Last fought 2005.

Great Yarmouth DC, Nelson
Lab 329 (42.5; +0.1), Ind 257 (33.2; +33.2), LD Nick Dyer 96 (12.4; +12.4), Ind 49 (6.3; +6.3), Green 43 (5.6; -1.8), [National Front ( 0.0; -22.9)], [Con (0.0; -27.3)].
Majority 72. Turnout not known. Lab hold. Last fought 2007.

Harlow DC, Little Parndon and Hare Street
Lab 794 (52.6; +3.4), Con 598 (39.6; +0.5), LD Nick Macy 117 (7.8; -4.0).
Majority 196. Turnout 28.4%. Lab hold. Last fought 2007.

Harlow DC, Toddbrook
Con 728 (45.2; +5.4), Lab 713 (44.3; +3.3), Respect 102 (6.3; -6.6), LD Julian Watkiss 67 (4.2; -2.1).
Majority 15. Turnout not known. Con gain from Lab. Last fought 2007.

North Devon DC, Witheridge
Con 448 (58.5; -0.2), LD Kate Palmer 318 (41.5; +0.2).
Majority 130. Turnout 42%. Con hold. Last fought 2007.

Penwith DC, Gwinear, Gwithian and Hayle East
Con 493 …

Evidence, Law and Medicine

The link is to a summary from the Oxford Centre for Evidence-based Medicine's levels of Evidence (from May 2001).

This looks at the question of how reliable evidence is. Much of the "evidence" in the courts is from the lowest level (5) of certainty viz:

"Expert opinion without explicit critical appraisal, or based upon physiology, bench research or "first principles"."

Rachel Pullen's Petition

The link is to a petition in the House of Commons tabled last night.

This raises a number of interesting question as to how capacity is determined and who should be allowed to determine capacity.

If you have a number of parties to a court case it appears to me as wrong that one party should be able to pay someone to give an opinion which strikes out the capacity of another party.

I am also quite unhappy in the way that CAFCASS obtain opinions that the opinions of children that are "gillick competent" are invalid and strike out the children's capacity to express a view.

The official solicitor issue (see Hansard) is not one that will go away.

UK Government and Renewables in Europe

What I found interesting from Herr Fell yesterday was that the UK government is actually lobbying to prevent the Germans from encouraging renewable electricity generation.

He also explained how the MPs had to fight the government to force through legislation to achieve what is being done in Germany. I presume it will be the same here.

German Predictions on Oil Supply

The link is to the story in "The Guardian" about energy supplies. I am scheduled to meet the German MP behind this later today.

I will comment about the details in the report when I have read it. In essence, however, the thesis is valid. The minor details as to precisely the rate of decline and date of peak are not so important.

What matters is that peak is "about now" - within this or the next parliament.(making reasonable assumptions as the normal length of a parliament.)

Most importantly (as has been mentioned previously on this weblog) other primary sources such as U235 (with a reasonable energy cost of extraction) face peak as well.

Hospitals, journalists and political theory

An advantage journalists have in dealing with the media is that they understand how journalists think. Hence either Chris or Nick is likely to do a good job as far as Public Relations go.

The problem, however, is that the conventional wisdom within the media as to "what should be done" is:
a) Not necessarily something that will achieve the objective.
b) Not necessarily something politically popular.

A good example for this is the debate about "Healthcare acquired infection". It is possible to change the management of hospitals to prioritise hygiene. However, this would probably mean inter alia taking the cleaning contracts "in-house".

This does not fit the conventional wisdom of the chattering classes. It sounds a bit luddite and traditional. On the other hand it would work and would be politically popular.

I, however, am not a moderniser. I am happy to be described as a progressive. However, I do not believe in change for changes sake - modernisation.

Election Results: Thursday 18th October 2007.

Basingstoke and Deane DC, Whitchurch
LD Eric Dunlop 858 (52.8; -5.6), Con 709 (43.6; +2.0), Lab 58 (3.6; +3.6).
Majority 149. Turnout 42.5%. LD hold. Last fought 2007.

Congleton BC, Sandbach West
Con 445 (45.1; +3.6), LD Patrick Darnes 382 (38.7; -3.1), Lab 160 (16.2; -0.5).
Majority 63. Turnout 19.2%. Con hold. Last fought 2007.

Ellesmere Port and Neston DC, Rossmore
Lab 504 (54.4; -4.0), Con 325 (35.1; -6.5), English Democrats 60 (6.5; +6.5), LD Graham Handley 38 (4.1; +4.1).
Majority 179. Turnout 20.0%. Lab hold. Last fought 2007.

Meltham TC
Ind 819 (53.9), Con 394 (25.9), LD Graham Colledge 307 (20.2).
Majority 425. Turnout 24.1%. Ind hold.

South Derbyshire DC, Church Gresley
Lab 639 (43.8; -23.0), BNP 516 (35.4; +35.4), Con 304 (20.8; -12.4).
Majority 123. Turnout not available. Lab hold. Last fought 2007.

Wellingborough DC, Croyland
Con 698 (52.6; -7.3), Lab 448 (33.8; -6.3), Ind 125 (9.4; +9.4), Green 55 (4.1; +4.1).
Majority 250. Turnout 25.4%. Con hold. Last fought 2007.

Wigan MBC, Wigan Centr…

Leadership Election

It is quite clear that I will not be a candidate in the Leadership Election. I will, however, not decide for now who I will support and I will announce that in the future when I have discussed matters with the other candidates and colleagues in Birmingham.

Parliamentary Question 17th October 2007

Health: University Hospital of North Staffordshire: Research

Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Health what studies were undertaken at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire involving children from overseas in the 1990s.

A:The information requested is not centrally held by the Department. The NHS West Midlands strategic health authority reports that University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust has recently written to the hon. Member following a similar request under the Freedom of Information Act.
Dawn Primarolo (Minister of State (Public Health), Department of Health)

Nominations and the Leadership Election

During the last Leadership election I found that the rules permitted nominators to sign more than one paper. The rules have, however, since been changed.

I do have one person other than myself willing to sign my own paper. However, I can see that there is going to be a challenge getting nominated.

It is, however, important to have a debate about the party's direction. The two front runners don't really have any political strategy differences.

Getting the 200 signatures from constituenties, however, is relatively straightforward.

Position Statement for Leadership Election

It surprised me just as much as anyone else when Ming resigned yesterday. We must thank Ming for the way in which he brought stability and improved the professionalism of the party although we still have further to go.

Unsurprisingly I am interested in putting myself forward for Party Leader. I am writing this note as a “position statement”. The reason I wish to stand is to be able to argue, and potentially implement, a particular strategy for the party.

The first point I will make is that we as a party must retain our system of involving party members in the determination of policy direction. I do not think all the detail should go through such a process. However, I do believe that anyone wishing to lead should first persuade the party and then persuade the country.

However, anyone wishing to lead has a responsibility to put forward the basis of the direction in which they wish to take the party.

The first question that is asked is about the Left/Right Axis. This demonstrates a …

Kitten Pictures

I like kitten pictures. Here are a few:


Solicitors in the Family Division EDM

Signatures continue to mount for EDM 2021 (which I tabled before the recess). This EDM (see link for current position) says:
That this House notes the comments of a senior social worker that meetings have been held during which solicitors acting for parents have discussed how to undermine the cases of their clients; further notes that there are many odd cases in which solicitors fail to oppose care proceedings or accept that the section 31 threshold has been met notwithstanding the opposition of their clients; recognises that reporting and obtaining the investigation of such behaviour outwith parliamentary proceedings remains a contempt of court for hon. Members; and asks the Solicitors Regulatory Authority to review the implementation of the new solicitors' code of conduct and how this relates to conflicts of interest in the Family Court.

Let me highlight part of this:
solicitors acting for parents have discussed how to undermine the cases of their clients

Election Results: Thursday 11th October 2007.

Horsham DC, Holbrook West
LD Belinda Walters 602 (43.9; +11.1), Con 554 (40.4; -6.5), BNP 163 (11.9;
+11.9), Lab 52 (3.8; +0.2), [Ind (0.0; -16.6)].
Majority 48. Turnout 32.2%. LD gain from Con. Last fought 2007.

Chippenham TC, Pewsham
LD Mark Packard 493 (58.8), Con 346 (41.2).
Majority 147. Turnout 19.5%. LD gain from Con.

Family Justice System: Petition

John Hemming:

I have an example of egregious behaviour by the family justice system to present.

The petition states:

The Petition of a British Citizen

Declares that a Local Authority has recently told a mother that she will not be allowed contact with her adopted child if she continues to protest outside the Family Court.

The Petitioner therefore requests that the House of Commons urges the government to legislate to prevent Local Authorities from using control over contact with their children to prevent parents from protesting about the unfairness of the Family Justice System in England and Wales.

And the Petitioner remains, etc.

Two amendments and an EDM

This week I have tabled two amendments. One to the Criminal Justice Bill to deal with street racing and another to the Legal Services Bill to assist membership organisations such as the Medical Protection Society.

I have also tabled an EDM on hospital acquired infections.
HOSPITAL-ACQUIRED INFECTION
That this House recognises the trauma caused to patients and families by hospital-acquired infection such as MRSA and C Difficile; believes that there are examples the UK can learn from in other countries such as the Netherlands; recognises that this involves having sufficient beds to keep some empty and isolate infected patients from others; recognises that having medical staff travel in their work clothes also gives a risk of infection; requests that the tendency to blame patients for the spread of infection is resisted; and calls for an urgent review as to whether reductions in bed numbers and planning for 100 per cent. bed occupancy and other cost saving measures are resulting in increas…

Martyn Smith and Ray Holtom

With Martyn's recent death and Ray's last week I think some comments are warranted.

Martyn and his wife Sadie have been the leading lights of West Bromwich Liberals since I have been involved in politics (1970s). Martyn was also ran the West Birmingham CHC for many years.

In the County Council elections many years ago they won two of the three seats in the West Bromwich East Parliamentary Seat. Sadly Martyn did not, however, convert that into winning the Parliamentary Seat itself.

Martyn was a hard worker for the Liberal/Lib Dem Cause in the black country. It is sad to hear of Martyn's death.

Ray Holtom was a Lib Dem Councillor who joined us in Birmingham from Labour. I first got to know him at the Trinity Centre which used to support the harder to manage end of the roofless sector. Ray always backed the powerless against the powerful and it is sad to hear of his passing.

Egregious - is it "parliamentary language"

There is a process for agreeing the words in parliamentary petitions. The words in petitions are not supposed to be intemperate. I have been told, but not had it confirmed, that egregious is too intemperate to appear in a parliamentary petition.

Merriam-Webster's definition
Main Entry: egre·gious
Pronunciation: i-'grE-j&s
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin egregius, from e- + greg-, grex herd -- more at GREGARIOUS
1 archaic : DISTINGUISHED
2 : CONSPICUOUS; especially : conspicuously bad : FLAGRANT
- egre·gious·ly adverb
- egre·gious·ness noun

The word is becoming less obscure.

If it quacks - It's a duck!

The European Scrutiny Committee of the House of Commons has concluded that:
The EU treaty is 'substantially equivalent' to the EU Constitution.

On that basis a referendum is due. I have, to be fair, taken this position for some time.

Court Procedures and technology

We have now identified the best technological solution for handling the issue of efficiently and cost effectively advising on the completion of forms for court and court bundles the the court of appeal.

There can be a lot of work collating things properly for the court of appeal. However, proper use of technology and software means that a good job can be done and the software is not expensive.

Has Brown Bottled it?

Labour cannot pretend that they were not planning on a potential General Election. Obviously they would wait until they have full information and a sort of dry run election during the conferences does give a better steer. The postal strikes do not help.

However, we now believe that Brown has bottled it. We are waiting for the annoucement.

MSbP - does exist

The link is to a criminal prosecution (that in the absence of any evidence to the contrary I would believe to be safe) for FII or MSbP. FII is a better description of the situation as it is Fabricating an Illness (by proxy).

One of the problems with the debate about MSbP (and also SBS and CML) is that it does exist. The question is how one can identify when it is the case. It is not suffiicent to say

a) If the doctors cannot work out what an illness is caused by ... and
b) If the child is separated from the parents it recovers. (aka a parentectomy).

That this is "proof" of FII.

The evidence we have from recent deaths of children is that the systems we use for determining the truth of these issues fail and to some extent end up as random results.

What I find is that parents who get angry with the system generally lose. That does not mean, however, that the parents are bad parents.

If you ignore the corruption in the system (which is a minority) the majority is affected by …

STV Scottish by-election detail

I like the full information rather than just the summary already posted. Here is the detail of the Scottish by-election

Argyll and Bute UA, Helensburgh and Lomond South
LD Andrew Nisbet was elected at stage four.
The percentage poll was 37.4% and the quota was 1060.

1st Round
LD 642
Con 627
Ind 493
SNP 356
(SNP eliminated)

Round 2 (with SNP votes redistributed)
LD 752 (+110)
Con 684 (+57)
Ind 606 (+113)
(Ind eliminated)

Round 3 (with Ind votes redistributed)
LD 1014 (+262)
Con 839 (+155)
(Con eliminated)

Result: LD win.

Essex adoption case

The text here is from the Essex Enquirer which is available on the web, but only as a PDF which is quite difficult to negotiate. What it demonstrates is the court deciding that a child should be adopted after it had been confirmed that the parents were good enough parents for a newer child. This is one of the things that happens that I really do not think is right.

Inept Social Services have written to a mother of five telling
her she is a good parent – despite taking four of her children away
for adoption. The 33-year-old was told she could keep her fifth child just days before a four-year court battle with Essex County Council ended with her fourth child released for adoption.
On Friday, the judge also took the unusual step of insisting the
Brentwood woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, be
given regular access to the fourth child when he was re-homed.
But on 21 September social services wrote to the woman,who
is in a “committed” relationship, stating “no further action” would
be…

Election Results: Thursday 4th October 2007.

Argyll and Bute UA, Helensburgh and Lomond South
LD Andrew Nisbet was elected at stage four.
The percentage poll was 37.4% and the quota was 1060.
LD gain from Ind. Last fought 2007.

Hambleton DC, Northallerton Broomfield
Con elected unopposed.
Con hold. Last fought 2007.

Leicestershire CC, Shepshed
Lab 1217 (30.2; -12.7), Con 1074 (26.6; -10.2), LD John Popley 933 (23.1;
+2.8), BNP 807 (20.0; +20.0).
Majority 143. Turnout 37.3%. Lab hold. Last fought 2005.

Windsor and Maidenhead UA, Datchet
Con 799 (63.8; -8.6), LD Tim O'Flynn 352 (28.1; +12.0), Ind 102 (8.1; +8.1),
[Lab (0.0; -11.5)].
Majority 447. Turnout 35.8%. Con hold. Last fought 2007.


Not that these say anything particularly.

Peak Oil in The Guardian

This issue is gradually moving from the sidelines into the mainstream. That to some extent is inevitable.

It is quite simple really:

In a conflict between the laws of physics and the laws of economics physics wins every time.

Perhaps I would say that with a degree in Physics. However, I am right.

Hygiene and MRSA

MRSA and C difficile are only two of a number of infections that can be caught in hospital.

Gordon Brown talked about a "deep clean" once a year. To some extent that should demonstrate his disqualification for the role he is in. He proposes as a solution something that basically would have no effect.

I have linked to the BritMeds a collection of blog entries by people in the medical profession. Note that they generally support a return to providing facilities and clean clothing for medics to change into. The shortage of empty beds also has an effect relating specifically to MRSA.

for exampleThis brings us back to the over stretched NHS front line and the shrinking number of beds available, as this has rather significant knock on effects on our ability to 'isolate high risk groups' and to 'isolate carriers'. Most people working on the front line will tell you that it is routine in many hospitals for known MRSA carriers to be nursed in open wards with patients…

November Election - Automated Calls

Labour, it appears, have started doing automated phone calls. This, where a computer phones people, is of dubious legality. It shows they are preparing for a November Election.

At the same time we have the complications that people may not actually be registered to vote even though they have recently filled in the electoral registration form.

Then again the situation is better than it used to be for autumn elections where there weren't rolling registers. That means that people would have to vote where they were previously.

All in all I would not expect the AEA's concerns to have any effect on Labour's decisionmaking.