Thursday, April 28, 2005

Freedom of Information - with a bit of help from a leak...

So after all the bluff and fluster, we finally have the Attorney General's advice on the legality (or not) of war with Iraq.

After all Tony Blair's stonewalling, it's taken a good old fashioned Whitehall leak to bring it into the public domain. It's all very damaging for New Labour, though - being forced to come clean in the final week of the election campaign, and in the midst of the Tory attacks on Blair's integrity and the Lib Dem anti war crusade.

Now for the leak enquiry...

Sunday, April 24, 2005

An Uncomfortable Anniversary

Today marks the 90th anniversary of the deportation and killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman authorities.

Whether victims of war, as claimed by the Turkish government, or of genocide - the first used to describe the killings in 1924 - the full horror visited on Armenia by its Turkish rulers is still a running sore between the two countries, but also has wider resonance given that Turkish hopes of EU membership, already a controversial issue, are also clouded by Ankara's refusal to admit responsibility for the events of 1915.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

A chat over coffee with Jessica

At last, the general election campaign gets interesting. After all the stage managed visits and set piece interviews, Blair's caught on camera being told the truth by a 20 year old student. Jessica Haig grabbed the headlines after being invited to what Blair's minders obviously hoped would be a walkover - memmbers of the public lost for words by the great leaders sudden appearance in a Leeds shopping centre. Instead, he got Jessica and she didn't mince her words.

OK, so it was uncomfortable for Tony - but this is an example of real people getting to the opportunity to tell politicians how they've sold out on their principles. We need more of it - particularly after the dull as ditch water campaign we've had so far. Who knows, it might even inspire a few more to turn on May 5.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

A Doctored Photograph - Worth Millions of Words

News that the Conservative candidate for Dorset South had doctored a photograph he used in an election leaflet sent Labour's campaign hard-man, John Reid, scurrying to the South Coast to make the most of the Tory discomfort.

Although it was all good knock about stuff, it's hardly news; after all, photoshop makes such high jinx hard to resist. The most startling thing about this particular manufactured row is that the original photograph showed the hapless candidate, Ed Matts, alongside Ann Widdecombe at a demo in support of a Malawian woman who faced deportation, along with her four children. Now that's surely a sacking offence in Mr Howard's book...

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Ooooh, Matron

No-one pretends that hospital-borne infections, such as MRSA, aren't a serious risk to health. But it's a bit rich for the Tories to come out with the plan to allow matrons to close dirty wards. For those with short memories, privatising hospital cleaning services was the big idea of the last Conservative administration. Silence has been deafening on this so far...

Who's opening your mail?

For those who have long worried about the effects of mail privatisation, a report that prisoners have been working for a company contracted to handle mail marked "return to sender" confirms their worst fears. Making a quick buck like this undermines any possible benefit public or business users could possibly get from privatisation. Contracting out, the PFI or PPP have gone too far - we have to return public services to proper public control and democratic accountability.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

It's going to be a long month...

Tony Blair saw the Queen this morning to ask her to dissolve Parliament and by 1.00 pm the first (Tory) election leaflet landed on the doormat. Great, at least the politicos are interested even if no-one else can raise much enthusiasm for the worst kept secret on months.

Interesting to hear the first pitches from the three main parties: Howard's not scared to be nasty to foreigners; Blair wants opportunity for all (don't want to spoil the party but this doesn't extend beyond our shores - certainly not Iraq, where the UN is concerned about hunger levels: must remember to mention the war if Labour come calling - they appear to have forgotten about it); and Kennedy thinks he's leader of the main opposition party(nice try, but tactically it could be a good call for the Lib Dems).

Funniest thing so far is the spoof (or is it?) blog from Alaistair Campbell

More - much, much more later...