Monthly Archives: May 2011

Using Mail on a Nokia-Orange Phone

Nokia have turned off my e-mail client on my mobile phone without my permission. I have been using a Nokia 5800 Xpress as my personal mobile phone since leaving Sun Microsystems. I got it because it runs S3 and could be used to host Joikuspot which turns the phone into a wifi internet gateway. Over the 21 months I have been using it, my use has varied, to the extent that I also used an HTC Hero for two weeks.

Read more …

DE HQ Reunion Barge Trip

The Reunion barge trip is over, we travelled on the Stourport Ring, to and from Tardebigge, via Worcester, Stourport, Wolverhampton and Birmingham.

I have started to upload and convert the images and videos. I used a Nokia phone, and a Sony camera and Handycam so there’ll be some mucking about to make a video/slide show for youtube, laptops and the ipodtouch. The rest of the pictures are on flickr in a set called Barge Trip 2011.

Read more …

My snipsnap is back online.

My bliki, snipsnap, is now back on line, hosted by Amazon.

Read more …

Party Democracy, the accountability of Politics

Earlier this year, the Liberal Democrats at their annual conference voted down their platform position to support the Coalition Government’s NHS “Reforms”. The platform position was proposed by Paul Burstow, the Minister of Health and a Liberal Democrat MP. I am pleased that the left Liberal Democrats are finding their voice, but a historical look at the effectiveness of democratic conferences’ ability to manage their parliamentary parties in opposition, let alone government doesn’t give one much hope.

The NHS revolt is led by some of the most senior Liberal Democrats, but being in Government is new to this generation of Liberal Democrat activists.  Its conference and democracy was not built to manage a party of government.  Julian Huppert , now an LD MP,  and Isabel Fox have twice taken opposition to the Digital Economy Act/Bill to the Liberal Democrat Conference, have twice won their votes and motions, and yet the Liberal Democrats in Government have failed to get repeal of the DE Act into the “Great Freedom Bill”.

However, at the least the Liberal Democrat conference agenda is still under the control of its members and they can criticise and advise their leadership in this public and collective fashion.

One really has to wonder if the Labour Party is still capable of undertaking such an action. Labour Party Conference had a long and proud record of attempting to lead its party and for many years was “sovereign”, subject to the law of the land. (Not a constraint that it understood well!) 1

It’s common currency that Blair proved his electability to the British electorate by taming the Labour Party and the most visible victory was the re-writing of Clause IV. However, this was a fight at the end of long process, one that, it’s often forgotten was started by John Smith;  all ‘reforms’ aimed at taming the Labour Party and its membership.  These reforms either took power away from the membership, or weakened the leadership’s accountability to the policy of the Labour Party. They include,

  • One man (sic), one vote for Party Leader,
  • Prohibiting MP’s from standing for the Constituency Section of the National Executive Committee
  • Inhibiting CLPs from sending the same person to conference in consecutive years
  • Prohibiting CLPs from proposing policy at conference,  this is a result of the creation of the National Policy Forum, which now proposes policy to Conference
  • Individual Balloting for the Constituency Section of the NEC
  • Individual Balloting for the membership of the National Policy Forum

The result of these reforms is to take policy development and even debate away from the membership and restrict it to the National Policy Forum. Individual balloting stops the members holding the leadership accountable to policy because successful candidates have mandates of their own. Before 1997, the Parliamentary leadership chucked in some rallies as consultation and listening activities  but this stopped soon after they won the election. Labour has turned its conference into a rally to which they now sell tickets to its members.  Its policy development now Read more …

Selecting from an excel array using two or more criteria

In some of the more complex spreadsheets I have built recently I have wanted to select data from a table based on two conditions. This can be done using the functions COUNTIFS() and SUMIFS(). Once again using range names helps. These functions offer one the the equivilent of boolean AND, and they can be made to implement OR as well.

Read more …

Don’t live complicated lives!

I moved into a new flat which had been empty earlier this year and am now being chased by ONS for a Census return. I was not living in, nor renting the flat on the Census date, their web site does not permit one to notify them of the fact the premises was vacant, and I have been visited by an agent of the ONS and informed them that the flat was vacant. NB I had already filled in Census forms about two other addresses. It can’t be that these circumstances are rare, why is it so hard to tell them that the address was vacant, and more importantly, that this is nothing to do with me!

Read more …

Don’t live complicated lives!

I moved into a new flat which had been empty earlier this year and am now being chased by ONS for a Census return. I was not living in, nor renting the flat on the Census date, their web site does not permit one to notify them of the fact the premises was vacant, and I have been visited by an agent of the ONS and informed them that the flat was vacant. NB I had already filled in Census forms about two other address It can’t be that these circumstances are rare, why is it so hard to tell them that the address was vacant, and more importantly, that this is nothing to do with me!

Read more …

Sour Grapes

It seems that #yes2av is #downthetoilet, but I was watching Twitter tonight and two tweets passed me by the first says,

“congratulations cameron, congratulations murdoch, your lies have denied the country a democracy. #yes2av #vote2011 #libdems #tories #labour”

and the second, which I can no longer find says something like

“Nick Clegg , you #fail HAHAHA etc….”

You get the idea. There is a very short term view here. I hope some of my Labour friends understand what they’ve done. It’s a huge mistake. First past the post is not democratic, it’s also not helpful to our cause.

Read more …

Fair Votes, honest and dishonest arguments

In summary, I believe

  • MPs representing communities should have the support of the majority of their voters,
  • AV may nationally exaggerate the size of popular majorities, but it is likely to constrain the power of unpopular minorities and this is a good thing,
  • the choice of government should not be taken by a small number of swing voters in middle English constituencies, and I mean English,
  • AV is harder to ‘game’, people will be able to vote for their first choice, it gives more people a reason to vote and we’ll all see the real attraction and support of each of the parties,
  • AV means that more people’s vote will count,
  • many MPs will need to appeal to more than their tribal support,
  • the British system asks people to vote for an MP, not a government, the voting system should support this,
  • ‘First Past the Post” is dying, we use other systems for the European parliament, executive mayors, the Greater London Authority and in Northern Ireland, it’s time to move on.

I shall be voting for AV today, it’s not my first choice, but its better than what we have, why don’t you join me?

On issues of tribalism I was unhappy to receive a No2AV leaflet, with a picture similar to the one on the left.  I have tried to scan the original to share with you, but my scanner isn’t good enough. Interesting that they have Cameron’s back to us. Are they hoping that Labour and other left wingers will forget that the coalition is Tory led by the simple ruse of having him turn his back on us?. (It won’t be the last time!) The leaflet is decorated with text in UKIP’s Purple and Yellow. (Did they have some ink left over from the General Election?). The text suggests that we should oppose AV because of broken promises and back room deals, and that we, the voter, should punish the dishonest. It’s merely another attempt to keep the interests of the Tory party out of the debate. How stupid do they think we are? Why should we punish only Clegg and the Lib Dems for a deal they did with the Tories!  Anyway, outside London we can punish them both in the local & national elections by voting against them.

The biggest lie is that the current system is in democracy’s interest. If you vote on the merits of fair voting, you’ll support change, otherwise you have a party agenda, and the Tory Party agenda at that.

Read more …