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The Gaza Strip

Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip seem to be more driven by an emotional desire for revenge than a proportionate response to deal with a defined threat.

This is a time when the UN Security Council should meet as it appears that Israel are intent on using the US Carte Blanche until the change of administration. Whether this would have any practical effect is unclear, but at least it would kick off some forum for consideration of the issue.

Tony Blair's role as Middle Eastern Envoy seems to continue the tacit support of Israeli attacks in the same way that his government initially supported the attack on Lebanon - in the sense that they did not support a ceasefire.

Given that futile violent gestures, such as the original rocket attacks on Israel, are driven by an desire for revenge it does not appear that this approach will reduce that desire.

ARW a second story

The link is to a second story in The Telegraph. What I find sad in some many of the cases I see is that the use of the state "hammer" doesn't really help anyone other than possibly government target numbercrunchers.

Obviously I don't see the cases where the system is getting things right, but I worry about how many times the actions taken by the state make things worse.

The evidence in international statistics are that England (and Wales) do particularly badly in terms of child protection. It has taken me a little time to find any comparative statistics, but I do now have them.

Election Fraud At Politicalbetting.com shock

Well perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. Its an election. If anyone is bothered as to who wins then there is a chance someone will try to fiddle it.

Congratulations to Sean Thomas for winning until the poll was suspended through fraud.

Still when some idiot on the square box next goes on about how more people vote in xxx reality TV programme remember to mentally ask the question as to how many votes each "voter" is casting.

Many of these pay to vote systems rely on peoples willingness to bung a few calls at their chosen candidate.

Hence when people talk about how there is a greater interest in voting in reality TV than local elections they merely demonstrate their ignorance of the facts.

Hopefully there is a greater sensitivity to election fraud now. I am, however, not certain that there is sufficient concern.

Smith v ADVFN - internet fora and Libel

The link is to Smith v ADVFN Ltd [2008] EWHC 1797 (QB) which is also discussed at Out-Law.com

This is a judgment by High Court Justice Eady (he also of the Max Moseley case). I hadn't spotted this one, but it raises an interesting point in respect of the spats and trolling that goes on in internet fora.

This case was one where a Nigel Smith issued 37 different defamation writs against a various posters on ADVFN's bulletin boards.

Those with time should read the judgment, but part of it follows:

The nature of bulletin boards

It is necessary to have well in mind the nature of bulletin board communications, which are a relatively recent development. This is central to a proper consideration of all the matters now before the court.

This has been explained in the material before me and is, in any event, nowadays a matter of general knowledge. Particular characteristics which I should have in mind are that they are read by relatively few people, most of whom will share an interest in…

Thomas Edison - a Peak Oiler before his time

The point about the Peak Oil Theory is that it is not a theory. It is a fact that Fossil Fuels are called such because they were made a long long long time ago and are not being made any more. Hence at some point global production will peak.

The only question is when (and in part what happens to production after that whether it falls off a cliff or gently edges downward).

The link is to a 2007 NY Times article in respect of Thomas Edison's views on sustainability.

Quoting from part of the article:
Edison also, like other scientists of his day, was beginning to understand even then that fossil fuels wouldn’t last forever. In 1913 Scientific American published an issue on energy problems, observing: “The question of the possible exhaustion of the world’s oil supply deserves the gravest consideration. There is every indication that we are face to face with this possibility.” Articles delved into technologies to capture the power of the sun, the wind, the tide and even the earth’s rotat…

Votes - keep them on paper - count them by hand

The link is to the story from the USA about the death of someone in a suspicious plane crash last week. The someone is someone thought to have been involved in the use of IT to defraud the 2004 election in the USA.

If we wish to keep elections honest then we have to keep voting in secret on paper and counting the pieces of paper by hand. It is not possible to publicly audit electronic systems to a sufficient standard to keep elections honest.

There are two Youtube extracts on the web page linked, both are interesting web pages.

ARW - a Mum on the run with her children

The link is to the story in the Sunday Telegraph today about a mother who was "on the run" with two children having been persecuted by the Family Courts in England and Wales.

She (ARW) is not on the run any more. She has decided to "stand and fight". Her 6 year old son (L) is settled in school in the Republic of Ireland. Her baby son Marco is very well.

The local Social Workers came to see ARW on Friday and confirmed that everyone is well and no children are at risk.

However, Devon County Council have indicated that they want to remove L from his mother and brother and put him in foster care in England.

This case is much like the one highlighted by The Times.

The reason for L being "in care" is as ludicrous as that for "S" in the other case.

In both cases mum left the country whilst pregnant in part because of the threat of removing the unborn baby at birth.

In ARW's case the argument was that L suffered "emotional abuse" as a result o…

Child Protection work Today

The link is to another article essentially confirming the thesis propounded by Sue White, Allan Norman and myself

First para:
Having spent almost 20 years working in residential child care I now teach social work. I was horrified (although sadly not altogether surprised) when a student reported back from a field visit that she had been told by a children and families social worker, ‘we don’t do relationships anymore”. It wasn’t even said with regret apparently, just a statement of what the social work role had become. In fact it seemed to the student that there appeared to be an almost ‘macho’ element in the assertion ‘ ‘forget that namby-pamby stuff they teach you in University, this is the real world’. In this ‘real world’ social workers spend most of their day policing and processing families from a distance. They rarely see them anymore but are quick to send letters telling them that they have ‘failed’ the appointment made for them in the social work office, now relocated, off the b…

Phil Thompson and some of his family - Great Grandparents Rights

The picture is of Phil O Gorman, his grandfather Phil Thompson and Sara O Gorman his mother.

Clayton v Clayton changed the law so that identifying parties to a Family Court case subsequent to the case is not contempt of Court. I will, however, not identify the Children in respect of this case.

Phil Thompson has three children, nine grandchildren and six great grandchildren of whom three have been removed from the family by arbitrary state action in order to satisfy government targets. The three were the children of Phil O Gorman and grandchildren of Sara O Gorman.

On 9th May 2006 after a sequence of events that completely confused the family the three children were forcibly adopted by a decision of the magistrates in Walsall Family Proceedings Court.

Since that point the Family have been trying to find out what happened and why the children were adopted and what is now happening to the children. They first contacted me in 2007.

It has not been possible to obtain any detailed reasoning a…

Bloggers, Libel, The EU and Bridget Prentice

There have been a few thrashings around in cyberspace about the EU and blogging and potential changes to the law to make "suing bloggers easier".

Obligatory Disclaimer: My formal qualifications are in Nuclear Physics not law. If you follow my advice on law as opposed to how to blow the world up, don't sue me if I am wrong.

However, I have been on both ends of libel actions as well as assisted as a Mackenzie Friend in a Malicious Falsehood action (which was the funniest court case I ever attended).

Libel is an interesting area of law. It along with Privacy, enciting hatred and Contempt of Court are the key areas in which constraints of Freedom of Speech apply. There was an interesting event about libel tourism before the summer recess.

First point.

Britain has libel laws which make it quite easy to sue. For someone to win the defendant needs to be unable to prove what they said about the claimant is true. In the USA the claimant needs to prove what the defendant says is f…

Will we run out of gas this winter

The linked article thinks so. I have not as yet done my own analysis. What I have found previously is that we use gas in the wrong sequence and use stored gas in preference to importing more.

What happens when the stored gas runs out is then unclear. It depends upon whether gas is available either as LNG to be regasified or at the ends of the pipelines.

Results: Thursday 18th December 2008.

Cumbria CC, Kells and Sandwith
Lab 434 (41.7; -24.1)
BNP 418 (40.1; +40.1)
Con 190 (18.2; +1.2)
[Ind (0.0; -17.2)]
Majority 16
Turnout 26.6%
Lab hold
Percentage change is since May 2005.

Isle of Wight UA, Newchurch
LD Colin Richards 389 (39.7; +39.7)
Con 377 (38.5; -8.0)
Ind 213 (21.8; -19.3)
[Ind (0.0; -12.4)]
Majority 12
Turnout 44.7%
LD gain from Con
Percentage change is since May 2005.

North Somerset UA, Weston Super Mare Clarence and Uphill
Con 478 (27.5; -33.6)
Ind 477 (27.5; +27.5)
LD Paula Howell 421 (24.3; -4.1)
Ind 228 (13.1; +13.1)
Lab 132 (7.6; -2.9)
Majority 1
Turnout 24.6%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007.

North West Leicestershire DC, Ibstock and Heather
Con 660 (31.5; -3.9)
BNP 645 (30.8; +30.8)
Lab 614 (29.3; -4.7)
LD David Wyatt 174 (8.3; -2.5)
[UKIP (0.0; -19.8)]
Majority 15
Turnout not known
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007.

Rhondda Cynon Taff UA, Glyncoch
Lab 217 (50.5; -19.9)
Ind 143 (33.3; +33.3)
PC 47 (10.9; -8.7)
Welsh Communists 12 (2.8; +2.8)
Con 11 (2.6; +2.6)
[LD (0.0; -10.0)…

Susan Holdsworth - not guilty

The link is to the story about Susan Holdsworth. This was an expert evidence story. The situation in the family courts, however, would not necessarily be the same.

Yesterday someone I cannot name (J) had a criminal case against him dismissed because there was no evidence against him. However, his children remain in care for essentially the same allegation.

He has been sitting with this criminal case hanging over him for about 6 months as it was delayed and deferred. The question is what the Family Courts now do.

His case is interesting and may end up in the European Court at some stage. However, the urgent thing is to try to get his children out of care. Why the Local Auhority wishes to torment the children by keeping them in care over christmas is a question the LA needs to answer.

There was a meeting on monday based upon the recent Lancet report. One of the authors was there to talk abont the issues. I had considerable agreement with her about the issues although I would not ta…

Madoff - another list

Reuters have produced another list of losers from Madoff. What is interesting is the large exposure from banks who lent money to Hedge Funds to invest with Madoff.

Some reports indicate that he started to go wrong in 2005. It strikes me as unlikely that $50bn of losses could build up in such a short period.

Still this has quite a bit of unravelling to do.

Madoff - "Made off" with $50bn

The link is to a list of organisations (people) who have lost in the Madoff Ponzi Scheme.

There is an important principle to remember in financial services (and life generally) which is that if something is "too good to be true", then most likely it either isn't good or it isn't true.

This was one that wasn't true.

I am surprised that this was not picked up by the SEC, however.

This one will reverberate a bit. Some of the people who have sent money his way have then benefited by also reporting high returns - that are not real returns.

Rights for Great Grandparents

The linked story in the Sunday Mercury is a case I have been dealing with for some time. It has been very difficult to get to the bottom of what happened and in fact we have failed to get all the information. The courts have lost their file.

In the mean time, however we have managed to start an action which can be taken to the European Court.

It will be an interesting one as it looks at the question as to whether Grandparents or Great Grandparents have any Article 8 rights. In English law there are no such rights, but there are logically some under the ECHR.

Government Concede on Serious Case Reviews

The link is to the Queen's Speech debate on Children. 15 months ago I was the only person publicly raising concerns about "false negatives" in child protection where the system was failing to protect children. Now it is one of the key news items.

The government are still unclear as to the dimensions of the problem although Ofsted have produced some figures.

During the debate I obtained the agreement of the Chairman of the Children's Select Committee in assisting to track the true size of the problem. Later on, however, Ed Ball conceded my request for the information saying:

"Although I do not agree with everything John Hemming has said, I know he is committed to the cause for which he campaigns, and I can say to him today that, following the Ofsted reports of recent weeks, we will be able to give him the detailed information that he wants on serious case review numbers."

He continues to miss one of the key points on the writing of SCR's however (which is al…

Results: Thursday 11th December 2008.

East Ayrshire UA, Ballochmyle
Full details not yet available
Lab hold
Turnout 29%.

Fenland DC, Parson Drove and Wisbech St Mary
Con 512 (50.6; -49.4)
LD Gavin Booth 208 (20.6; +20.6)
Lab 190 (18.8; +18.8)
Green 101 (10.0; +10.0)
Majority 304
Turnout not known
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007 (Con unopposed)

Hillingdon LBC, Northwood
Con 1216 (64.4; -1.20)
LD Alan Prue 466 (24.7; +3.8)
Lab 116 (6.1; +6.1)
Green 66 (3.5; +3.5)
Ind 25 (1.3; -12.2)
Majority 750
Turnout 22.1%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2006

Newark and Sherwood DC, Clipstone
Lab 326 (43.4; +7.3)
LD Christopher Orton 216 (28.8; +28.8)
Ind 157 (20.9; -22.3)
Con 52 (6.9; -13.8)
Majority 110
Turnout 22.9%
Lab gain from Ind
Percentage change is since May 2007

North Ayrshire UA, Kilbirnie and Beith
Details not yet available.

Bradfield PC, Stannington
LD Katie Condliffe 763 (79.2)
Con 200 (20.8)
Majority 563
Turnout 22%
LD hold

Slight movement towards sanity from Government on Peak Oil

The link is to the minutes of the European Committee C on Higher Oil Prices. A rare moment of almost sense on the issue of Peak Oil from government Minister Mike O Brien This is from columns 11 and 12.

Steve Webb: As this is a helpful forum in which to have a measured question and answer session, rather than the frustrating soundbites that we get during questions in the Chamber, it is good to take the opportunity to raise a second issue. If I say the words “peak” and “oil” in the same sentence, people may have glazed expressions and there might be some concern about where I am heading, but I wonder whether the Minister could tell us the Government’s position on the first report—I was given it yesterday, but I do not know whether it is newly published—of the UK industry taskforce on peak oil and energy security? Serious organisations are involved in it, including one of the big six energy companies. It will take me just a moment to clarify my question, if you will allow me to do so, Mr.…

Whistleblowing: The Chinese Solution

The link talks about sending Whistleblowers to mental hospital. In the UK it is the straightforward arrest as part of an illegal criminal prosecution.

What the UK also does is to displace people from having a legal position with the use of unchallengeable experts.

We're all you've got

The battles about the 1600s were about the power of the King and his servants vis a vis the power of the people.

The King has now been replaced with the Prime Minister. One problem with our constitution is that the Prime Minister substantially controls the Legislature.

When it comes to a legal way involving the use of words rather than force for the people to control the King the only solution is parliament. To that extent: "We're all you've got."

If King Gordon can have MPs locked up for telling the truth about what the King is doing that is embarrassing then this undermines democracy and moves towards tyranny.

Today there was a vote as to whether the government (King Gordon) should have a majority on the committee (7 members) established to look at what rights the people have to hear the truth. By 285 votes to 281 the King got his way.

It was futile because both Lib Dems and Conservatives have said they won't provide King Gordon with a figleaf to conceal his emba…

Contempt of Parliament in 2004

The link is to Hansard in which the following exchange occurredRichard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek your advice on a point of order of which I have given you notice. As you know, robust debate is in the nature of politics and no one, least of all you, would want to inhibit that. However, I hope that you agree with me that there is an important distinction to be made between matters of argument and the deliberate misreporting outside this place of proceedings within it, including the doctoring of quotes from Hansard and the invention of votes by hon. Members on motions that were never moved.
My point of order, Mr. Speaker, is to say that that is what has been happening in Birmingham, where a Conservative councillor, Peter Douglas Osborn, distributed a leaflet misreporting a Hansard quote from the Minister for E-Commerce, Energy and Postal Services in respect of the Post Office urban reinvention programme. You will also be aware that Cou…

Wider review - but is it wide enough

The government are now widening up the review post Baby P. I am, however, not certain that this is wide enough. Unless they review the procedures of the Family Courts they will not get the system to work properly.

The problem is that the system is chocabloc with conflicts of interests. The rules that prevent people from getting second expert opinions act as a factory for miscarriages of justice.

It also creates an environment in which the whip hand is held by the local authority legal department. Some parents's solicitors then end up doing the bidding of the LA rather than their client.

The same pressures exist with Cafcass.

The social workers justify their actions on the basis that the court accepts the proposals. "Advocating for the child" includes pressurising experts to change their reports to suit the LA. That means that the whole decision-making process is driven by management decisions within the LA.

This doesn't always happen and it remains possible for thi…

Benefits Reform

The issue of Benefits reform is back on the agenda.

Whilst I accept the thesis that the tax and benefits system should act to encourage behaviour that society wishes to see and discourage that which we don't, it also needs to be fair.

They have been tightening up on Disability Benefits recently. That has resulted in some really stupid decisions. One recent one I saw had only temporary disability benefits provided to a man who had had his leg amputated. Clearly someone in the DWP thought the leg would grow back.

It is important to remember that there are real people on the end of the decisions driven by targets in the DWP. Sometimes these things get sorted out, but at other times they don't.

One really cruel policy is to fine people who appeal the removal of disability benefits by reducing their benefits whilst the appeal goes on. That is not just reducing the disability, but reducing Income Support/JSA by 20% below what it is deemed to be necessary to live on.

The Spectator on Fostering Agency issues

The link is to a story about another aspect of the child protection system. It contains a story in which there is an example of a common technique that institutions use to deal with criticism of attacking the messenger with false allegations.

It is claimed that people are "learning lessons" when more effort is going into covering up failure.

Results: Thursday 4th December 2008.

Bradford City MBC, Bingley
Con 1949 (59.9; -3.1)
Lab 689 (21.2; +4.4)
LD Jean Taylor 332 (10.2; -1.4)
Green 175 (5.4; -3.3)
Democratic Nationalists 61 (1.9; +1.9)
UKIP 49 (1.5; +1.5)
Majority 1260
Turnout 25%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2008

Braintree DC, The Three Colnes
Con 647 (77.0; +24.5)
Lab 121 (14.4; +4.1)
Green 72 (8.6; +8.6)
[Ind (0.0; -37.2)]
Majority 526
Turnout 21.5%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Colchester BC, Birch and Winstree
Con 745 (58.1; -12.1)
LD Jon Longman 423 (33.0; +14.1)
Lab 83 (6.5; +0.4)
Green 32 (2.5; -2.5)
Majority 322
Turnout 29.3%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Rugby BC, Avon and Swift
Con 361 (56.9; -12.0)
LD David Elson 153 (24.1; +9.0)
Lab 84 (13.2; -2.8)
Green 37 (5.8; +5.8)
Majority 208
Turnout not known
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2008

Waltham Forest LBC, Hale End and Highams Park
LD Jane Morgan 1298/Nick Bason 1295 (44.3; +2.4)
Con 1223/1155 (41.8; +4.6)
Lab 264/241 (9.0; -2.3)
Green 142 (4.9; -4.7)
Majorities 75/72
Turnout 34.4%
LD hold …

Stuart Syvret gets the Damian Green treatment

Following on from the lead of the UK government in having police investigate leaks of government information as a criminal matter and hence persecuting effective opposition politicians the States of Jersey have kicked off a leak inquiry and are asking police to investigate Senator Stuart Syvret over an internal memo.

The odd thing about the English case is that it involves at least some information (if not all of it) that is covered by the Freedom of Information Act. That means that the mole was under a duty to provide the information if asked for it.

This gives a complete defence of
Question 1. Do you have any information which is embarrassing to the goverment and can I have a list of it.
Question 2. Please give me item 1, item 2 etc on the answer to question 1.

A bit odd to prosecute someone for doing what is their duty. This applies to Damian Green in any event as it was his duty to hold the government to account.

Leaking and Motivation

The government are trying to open up a completely new argument in respect of the arrest of Damian Green.

They are trying to approach it from the perspective that the motivation of the leaker matters.

The point about parliamentary privilege is that communicating with an MP is privileged meaning that it cannot be criminal to talk to an MP. If it cannot be criminal then it does not matter what the motivation is.

The way they government are trying to take the debate would lead to a code of conduct for moles who would not be allowed to accept even a cup of tea from the leakees.

Preventing opposition politicians from using leaked information is a massive undermining of democracy.

It is the same issue with whistleblowing anywhere. It is important to protect whistleblowers from suffering as a result of whistleblowing. The government's argument is that whistleblowers must never benefit from whistleblowing.

You can have it one way or the other.

Brown on Green

Gordon Brown has decisively acted in respect of the Damian Green. He has announced that he will dither until he knows which way the wind is blowing and then jump on the most reliable bandwagon.

It is very sad. This is an issue that should be easy to understand. It relates entirely to the work of an MP. It is something that most successful politicians have been involved in.

If MPs are liable for arrest for being leaked to then that creates a massive problem. OK you might entice someone to leak by buying a pint of beer. Does that really cause a problem.

I really don't think Labour understand what this is about.

Gissa job

Quoting from The Times, see links

The official said Stephenson should have told Sir David Normington, the Home Office permanent secretary who called in police, that leaks of nonclassified information were not a matter for a police inquiry.
Normington will chair the panel that will interview and vet applicants for the job of Met commissioner. The deadline for applications is tomorrow.

Dreadful.

Eternal Vigilance

I have linked to part of the proceedings of the Employment Bill. The relevant section follows. The attitude of the Labour Party is that they don't need to legislate to prevent vindictive acts because they are nice people and wouldn't do that sort of thing. Sadly, however, although some people are nice and would hold themselves back - others are vindictive and as such systems need checks and balance to prevent vindictive acts obtaining state sanction.

As yet Gordon Brown has not commented on "Green-gate". At some stage he will have to.

Natascha Engel: The hon. Gentleman is trying to legislate for something that I do not think will ever happen. The idea that a trade union might be purely vindictive and get rid of somebody because 40 years ago they were a member of such-and-such an organisation just will not happen.
Mr. Djanogly: I assure the hon. Lady that in Nazi Germany a person’s membership of the Communist party 20 or 30 years previously may well have been taken …

The Green Case: the tip of an iceberg of tyranny

The case of Damien Green's arrest is particularly egregrious involving as it does the abuse of parliamentary privilege. Parliamentary Privilege exists to protect those people that MPs serve - the citizens as a whole.

In the mean time, however, it is clear to me that this is in fact the tip of various tyrannical acts The Sally Murrer Case is another over the top prosecutoin relating to information. The number of tyrannical acts in the family court is legion with people being imprisoned in secret time and time again.

Hopefully the Green case will wake up everyone to the fact that we are sleepwalking towards tyranny.

Proposals for change in Child Protection

Together with two social workers I have written an article about how the decisionmaking system in social work needs to change. This does not directly refer to the Family Court although if the family court was not as much of a procedural mess then we could not have got the initial decisionmaking system wrong as cases would have bounced at the family court level.

Initially the article was published in the Birmingham post, but has now also appeared in Family Law Week and Community Care Magazine.

Parliamentary Privilege

The question, of course, is to what extent communications by MPs is privileged. In fact in 1957/8 there was a case in which the LEB threatened a writ against an MP because of a letter he had written to a Minister.

This was raised in the house to be referred to the Privileges committee

The committee considered the issue and on October 30, 1957 concluded that

"(a) In writing the letter of February 8, 1957, to the Paymaster-General of which the London Electricity Board complain, Mr. Strauss was engaged in 'a proceeding in parliament within the meaning of the Bill of Rights 1688.

"(b) The London Electricity Board in threatening by the letters from themselves and their solicitors to commence proceedings for libel against Mr. Strauss for statements made by him in the course of a proceeding in Parliament are threatening to impeach or question the freedom of Mr. Strauss in a Court or place outside Parliament, and accordingly the London Electricity Board and their solicitors have a…

Results: Thursday 27th November 2008.

Cambridgeshire CC, Hardwick
LD Fiona Whelan 1369 (49.9; +14.5)
Con 1169 (42.6; +1.3)
Lab 208 (7.6; -7.4)
[Green (0.0; -8.3)]
Majority 200
Turnout 36%
LD gain from Con
Percentage change is since May 2005

Devon CC, Exminster and Kenton
LD Alan Connett 1969 (62.5; +12.1)
Con 1182 (37.5; +0.4)
[Lab (0.0; -12.5)]
Majority 787
Turnout 43%
LD hold
Percentage change is since May 2005

Teignbridge DC, Kenn Valley
Con 924 (48.2; +7.0)
LD Hilary Berman 832 (43.4; -15.3)
Ind 160/128 (8.4; +8.4)
Majority 92
Turnout 42.1%
Con gain from LD
Percentage change is since May 2007

Walsall MBC, Birchills and Leamore
Con 764 (43.9; +12.9)
Lab 661 (37.9; -16.7)
BNP 90 (5.2; +5.2)
LD Christine Cockayne 72 (4.1; +4.1)
Democratic Labour 69 (4.0; -2.3)
UKIP 52 (3.0; +3.0)
Green 34 (2.0; -6.1)
Majority 103
Turnout 19.6%
Con gain from Lab
Percentage change is since May 2008

Bridlington TC, North
Ind 369 (38.1)
LD Mike Heslop-Mullens 275 (28.4)
BNP 198 (20.5)
SDP 126 (13.0)
Majority 94
Turnout 9.9%
Ind gain from Lab

Bridlington TC, Old Town
SDP 183/172 (30.6)
LD…

Damien Green: a complete non starter (and I don't mean Damien himself)

I cannot believe that any action has been taken against a member of parliament about leaked government documents. This goes straight against Article XI of the 1688 Bill of Rights.

I accept that various local authorities have threatened me with imprisonment, but to have a go at an opposition member of parliament is totally and absolutely wrong.

OK so Parliament is in suspension now. However, there must be a reaction against this.

Whistleblowing to MPs is implicitly protected as part of the 1688 Bill of Rights. If we are going back in legal terms to pre 1679 (Habeus Corpus) that is very worrying.

This is not in any way something minor.

Tories vote with Labour on Pre Budget Report

Confusion reigned in The House as the Conservatives decided to vote with Labour to ensure that there wasn't a vote on the Pre Budget Report. Personally I think they didn't know what was going on and will regret this in the future. Some came into the aye lobby and wandered out again. Technically there was a vote to have a vote 30 seconds before the end of the debate against which Labour and the Tories voted.

On the substantive issue there is a need for investment to bring back confidence into the economy (which is what it needs). The word "kick start" is misleading in that sense.

Looking through the PBR itself, however, the government seem to be ignoring £70,000,000,000 of debt (not precisely), £37bn of bank funding and £33bn of off-balance sheet - Enron style government debt. (I have those figures from a March report of 505 off balance sheet PFI projects). We are committed to paying £156bn over the next 30 years for all the PFI projects which has a net present …

RP and Others v The United Kingdom

The link is to an entry on BAILII for RP and Others v The United Kingdom. I was surprised to be told that this entry is there.

This is the case where I had a row with two court of appeal Lord Justices. There are a material number of similar cases where mainly women have had their legal rights to fight their own case removed - in my view wrongly.

This particular case is one where the House of Lords seemed entirely happy that a woman had had no trial at which the evidence claiming she was an unfit mother was tested.

I am quite pleased that the European Court of Human Rights has moved in what is a relatively rapid manner for this particular court..

We are in the middle of preparing a second similar case to go to ECtHR.

Results: Thursday 20th November 2008.

South Cambridgeshire DC, Teversham
LD Frances Amrani 269 (38.6; +2.9)
Con 237 (34.0; -30.3)
Ind 191 (27.4; +27.4)
Majority 32
Turnout 36.1%
LD gain from Con
Percentage change is since May 2007

Tower Hamlets LBC, Mile End East
Lab 1208 (47.3; +15.0)
Con 630 (24.7; +13.7)
Respect 604 (23.7; -0.3)
LD Jainal Choudhury 110 (4.3; -15.7)
Majority 578
Turnout 31.4%
Lab hold
Percentage change is since May 2006

Barnstaple TC, Forches and Whiddon Valley
LD Tony Clark 287 (51.3)
Con 164 (29.3)
Ind 97 (17.4)
Communist 11 (2.0)
Majority 123
Turnout 17.0%
LD hold

Ofsted reveals true picture on child deaths

The time story reports Ofsted's report into child deaths from abuse. This figure gives around 200 a year rather than the government's 100 a year (80+). The report is available here.

Quoting from the report
Since April 2007, Ofsted has been responsible for
receiving notifications of serious incidents involving
children and for evaluating the quality of serious case
reviews. Between 1 April 2007 and 31 August 2008, Ofsted
received notifications from local authorities of 424 serious
incidents, relating to 282 deaths of children, 136 incidents
of significant harm or injuries and six incidents of which the
outcome is not yet known. Four in 10 incidents involved
babies under the age of one.

Their figures are closer to those I have produced than those of the government.

Government Cover up - response

So the government's response (see linked story) is:

A spokeswoman for the Department said: “We have not ordered councils not to reply to Mr Hemming.”

Why then do I have all these responses which say:

Durham
Your request for information on Part 8 Serious case reviews request 1 of 5, received on 01-JUL-2008, has been considered.

Unfortunately we will not be able to provide you with this information. This is because we have been informed by central government that a national response is being provided by DCSF.

In accordance with section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 this letter acts as a refusal notice.

Bolton
I have since been instructed by The Department for Children, Schools and Families that they will be providing you with a coordinated national response and Bolton Council has no requirement to respond.

The fact that someone else is producing a response is not a reason for not responding. DCSF are not allowed to "instruct" departments that they have "no req…

Serious Case Reviews: Government attempts to cover up lists of child deaths

The link is to a story on "The Stirrer" based upon a press release I sent out over the weekend.

The following is the text of an email I have just sent to the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee:

Dear Barry

I am writing to you as Chairman of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee as you may wish to review the matter of Serious Case Reviews.

You will be aware that where a child dies or is seriously injured as a result of child abuse that a Serious Case Review is instigated. There is an important question as to whether these reviews achieve their objective of informing practise. However, these reviews are being carried out.

I have been concerned for some time as to the decision making process in respect of Public Family Law. It is my belief that substantial numbers of falst positives and false negatives occur - I believe that this arises as a consequence of the lack of accountability in the system which is caused by threat of contempt proceedings in the Fami…

Haringey is not unique

The link is to a story how a retaliatory allegation was made against the Haringey whistleblower for telling the truth.

Sadly this sort of thing is not in any way unique. It doesn't only happen in Haringey.

Results: Thursday 13th November 2008

Boston BC, Fenside
BNP 279 (42.6; +42.6)
Boston Bypass Independents 141 (21.5; -21.8)
Con 119 (18.2; -0.1)
Lab 69 (10.5; -13.2)
UKIP 24 (3.7; -11.0)
Majority 138
Turnout 22.1%
BNP gain from Boston Bypass Independents
Percentage change is since May 2007

Darlington UA, North Road
LD Anne-Marie Curry 561 (50.8; -4.1)
Lab 262 (23.7; 0.0)
Con 115 (10.4; -1.0)
BNP 106 (9.6; -0.3)
Ind 60 (5.4; +5.4)
Majority 299
Turnout 24.2%
LD hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Hinckley and Bosworth BC, Markfield, Stanton and Fieldhead
Con 637 (35.2; -0.1)
Lab 521 (28.8; -11.8)
LD Robin Webber-Jones 390 (21.5; +12.8)
BNP 263 (14.5; -1.0)
Majority 116
Turnout 41%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Wokingham BC, Coronation
Con 850 (53.2; 0.0)
LD Coling Lawley 675 (42.2; +4.6)
UKIP 74 (4.6; -0.2)
[Lab (0.0; -4.3)]
Majority 175
Turnout not known
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Woodley TC, Coronation Central
Con 255 (50.8)
LD Patrick Power 247 (49.2)
Majority 8
Turnout not known
Con hold

Woodley TC, Coronation East
Con 639 (59…

EDM 2499 - Independent Inquiry

This EDM is at the nub of the issue recent deteriorations in child protection practise. The government is proposing to look at how well the changes have been implemented. We need to look as to whether the changes were the right thing to do.

I would not go about reorganising local authorities again. I would, however, move away from ticking boxes towards visiting people.

Jumping to Conclusions

The link is to Camilla Cavendish's article today where she argues a similar case to the one that I argue. I add concerns about the Integrated Childrens System and the fact that this drives social workers to make earlier decisions and remain in the office feeding the machine.

The Family Court system then fails to challenge these wrongful decisions.

Review into Child Protection

It seems to be that the government are going to have a review of Public Family Law. The question, however, is whether it will be wide ranging enough.

*edit Having Lord Laming look at what has happened since Climbie is thoroughly insufficient. Firstly, his proposals were unlikely to help in solving the wrong problem and actually making things worse. Secondly, this is taking the same person to look at the same issue which is likely to result in the same conclusions.

A typical family court nonsense.

Baby P - Haringey again

The link is to the story about Baby P. That is another false negative.

The system we operate in England (and Wales) for child protection is systematically flawed. It generates wrong decisions and causes masses of damage.

Not only that, but the changes post Laming have made things worse.

Birmingham Remembrance Parade 2008

As usual I took photos of the parade from the VIP stand. This really is not such a good location to take photos. There may be other photos on the web later.

Previous years: 200520062007





The parade is gathered.

Then the wreath layers come out of the Rep.


The Colour bearers gather outside the Hall of Remembrance

The service is run from the Hall of Remembrance

A volley of shots is fired at the start and the end of the 2 minute silence.

The Lord Mayor's party stand outside Baskerville House
and the parade parades out past the Lord Mayor



There are more photos on flickr

Lest we forget.

Birmingham Childrens Hospital

The link is to the commissioner report about Birmingham Children's Hospital.

A lot of the criticisms relate to short cuts by not having evening and weekend services and not having specialist teams.

A few years ago concerns were raised about the tariff paid to childrens' hospitals.

The consequences of these changes now seem clear.

Edinburgh and Glasgow by-elections

What is interesting about STV elections is that you find out voters subsequent preferences.

The full result for Forth is here

The Scottish Socialist Party vote went a third green and only 3 votes to Solidarity whereas Solidarity went independent. The Lib Dem votes went first non-transferable, then tory then Labour then SNP. The tory votes went mainly-non transferable, but more than half transferred and that was 270 SNP and 267 Labour.

What this says to me is that this battle has a distinctive anti SNP element to it.

The glasgow results are harder to find, but can be tracked from here. You need to download a zip file and extract it.

The few green votes went SNP in preference to Labour. The BNP voters preferred the tories to SNP then Labour. The SSP just about preferred the SNP to Labour, but it was close. The Lib Dem votes preferred Labour, then SNP then Tory. The Tory votes mainly didn't transfer, but otherwise preferred SNP (77) to Labour (48).

I find that interesting, but pe…

Zimbabwean Inflation in pictures

The link is to pictures of Zimbabwe's 231 000 000% inflation.

I noticed in 2012 that the webserver it was on had stopped working so I found the page in the internet graveyard and have uploaded it here.

One image is missing, but most of the quality of the original post is there.

Results: Thursday 6th November 2008

Edinburgh City UA, Forth
First preference votes:
Labour 2013 (29.5%: +0.5%)
SNP 1841 (26.9%: +4.2%)
Conservative 1180 (17.3%: -2.9%)
Lib Dem (Sanne Dijkstra-Downie)
985 (14.4%: -3.5%)
Green 341 (5.0%: -0.8%)
Independent 1 297 (4.4%: +2.6%)
Solidarity 80 (1.2%: -0.6%)
SSP 53 (0.8%: +0.0%)
Independent 2 26 (0.4%: +0.4%)
Turnout 32%
The Labour candidate was elected at Stage 9
Labour hold

Glasgow City UA, Baillieston
First preference votes:
Labour 2257 (46.8%: +0.8%)
SNP 2027 (42.1%: +9.1%)
Conservative 226 (4.7%: -1.8%)
Lib Dem (David Jackson) 142 (2.9%: -0.9%)
SSP 88 (1.8%: -0.4%)
BNP 46 (1.0%: +1.0%)
Green 32 (0.7%: -1.1%)

There were no Solidarity or Scottish Unionist candidates in the by-election. In May 1907 between them they polled 6.7%)
Tu…

Fire Station Proposals

People living in Yardley will be aware that we are unhappy with the proposals in terms of locations of fire stations and closures of Hay Mills and Sheldon.

We now have the files with the maps of timings now and proposed timings. Anyone who wishes to see those should contact my office. They are big files of about 5Mb each and there are over 10 so we cannot email them.

Constituents with a memory stick can have a copy and we will display the maps in the window.

Camilla wins Paul Foot Award

Camilla Cavendish should be congratulated on winning the Paul Foot award for her work on opening up the family courts.

This is a battle between the vested interests of lawyers, experts and practitioners and the interests of children and families. The people who earn money from the system want to be kept away from scrutiny. Those who suffer from their actions want the professionals to be held to account.

Sam Thomas and her baby in Ireland

The link is to Fabulous. That is the News of the World's magazine.

I am not sure the link will last for ever. Hence I have extracted some of the article.
As they count down to their due date, most mums-to-be are busy putting the finishing touches to the nursery and packing their hospital bags.

But not 19-year-old Sam Thomas. In the last weeks of her pregnancy, she became so terrified the British authorities were planning to take away her baby, she fled 262 miles from her Somerset home to Wexford in Ireland, where 7lb 5oz Ellie-Jay was born on September 30.

"She's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life. She makes everything I've gone through worth it," says Sam.


I am the MP referred to in the article. What is important about this is that it was another case where a baby was scheduled for removal at birth. Providing all the information to sensible authorities (and remember that a Social Worker from Somerset went to Ireland to argue for removal at…

Canadian Miscarriage Suicide

The link is to a story from Canada where similar mistakes are being made to those in England and Wales. I don't think they have the problem in Canada where cases are dragged out merely to increase the legal fees, but the same problem with assumption of guilt causes tragedies like the one involving the murder/suicide in Canada.

Results: Thursday 30th October 2008.

Allerdale BC, Workington St John's
Lab 452 (35.6; -14.7)
Con 394 (31.0; -18.7)
BNP 257 (20.2; +20.2)
Ind 113 (8.9; +8.9)
Green 55 (4.3; +4.3)
Majority 58
Turnout 30%
Lab gain from Con
Percentage change is since 2007

Brentwood BC, Hutton South
Con 686 (73.4; -5.1)
LD Linda Price 199 (21.3; +6.4)
Lab 50 (5.3; -1.3)
Majority 487
Turnout 31.2%
Con hold
Percentage change is since 2008

Camden LBC, Kentish Town
LD Nick Russell 939 (36.5; +0.9)
Lab 863 (33.5; +3.2)
Green 518 (20.1; -6.3)
Con 171 (6.6; -1.1)
BNP 62 (2.4; +2.4)
UKIP 21 (0.8; +0.8)
Majority 76
Turnout 28.7%
LD hold
Percentage change is since 2006

South Oxfordshire DC, Thame North
Con 423 (50.5; +8.3)
LD Jeannette Matelot Green 287 (34.3; -9.5)
Lab 127 (15.2; +1.3)
Majority 136
Turnout 18.9%
Con hold
Percentage change is since 2007

Coedffranc Community Council, Coedffranc
Ind elected unopposed
Ind hold

Dover TC, St Radigunds
Lab 244 (32.7)
Con 219 (29.4)
LD Dean Stiles 93 (12.5)
Dover Alliance 86 (11.5)
Ind 72 (9.7)
Ind 32 (4.3)
Majority 25
Turnout 20.9%
Lab gain from Ind

Ga…

Gordon Brown's Boom and Bust

It is relatively straightforward to find the budget speeches of the past decade. They speak for themselves.


Gordon Brown 1997
For most people the acquisition of a house is the biggest single investment they will make. Homeowners rightly expect their investment to be protected by sensible policies pursued by Government.

I am determined that as a country we never return to the instability, speculation, and negative equity that characterised the housing market in the 1980s and 1990s.

Volatility is damaging both to the housing market and to the economy as a whole.

So stability will be central to our policy to help homeowners. And we must be prepared to take the action necessary to secure it.

I will not allow house prices to get out of control and put at risk the sustainability of the recovery.

Gordon Brown 1998
Section 2: Stability and prudence
First, stability.

By spring last year, with consumer demand already rising by 5 per cent and the money supply by 11 per cent but industrial production up o…