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Archive for the Category "Politics"

The single best souvenir of 2008 Dec 31

Did you back Barack Obama in the presidential election? Were you delighted by his victory? Do you want a keepsake by which to remember this historic occasion?

Well you’re in luck!


Eight for 2008 in review Dec 31

James’s post reminds me that it’s time to check back on my eight wishes for 2008 to see how they turned out.

1. That the fourth series of <DOCTOR.WHO> will be at least as good as the third; that the second series of The Sarah Jane Adventures will be at least as good as the first; and that the new series of Torchwood will be better than the first (and I’m sure it will).

No, yes and yes. The most recent series of Who had the usual mix of good (Midnight and Turn Left) and not so good episodes (Planet of the Ood, The Doctor’s Daughter), but overall it couldn’t match the third season – but then it had a lot to live up to. SJA put in an excellent second series (although I’m yet to see the finale) and Torchwood was much improved.

2. That the Lib Dems get good results in the London elections and the English and Welsh local elections in May.

There were good local election results, gaining seats, councils and a good share of the vote, despite the predictions that we would fall back. London alas saw us squeezed between the Livingstone and Johnson megaliths.

3. That I’m able to find enough spare time to make some progress on various projects currently sitting on the back burner.

Yes and no. The ones I were thinking about have still largely remained in drawers but a few newer projects have taken shape well.

4. That in the light of its inability to handle personal data securely the Government abandons the illiberal, costly, and technically monstrous identity database.

OK, this was just wishful thinking. But the Government and its agencies have continued to lose personal data all over the shop.

5. That I maintain a reasonable record playing Scrabulous on Facebook and at some point win a game of Settlers of Catan.

Don’t think I managed to win Catan, but my board game playing took a bit of a hit towards the end of the year as I got tied up with various other stuff. And this was the year, of course, where Scrabulous was destroyed by the owners of Scrabble. I’ve done reasonably will in the handful of games I’ve played on the cumbersome Scrabble application but don’t play anywhere near as much as before.

6. That the majority of my commuter trains into London are on time (December’s score: 0%).

In true OCD style, I’ve kept a record of every commuter train into London I’ve caught this year – with Southern spared the indignity of my measuring their evening service. There were positive signs at the end of February and it turns out that I got my wish: 52.5% of my trains left on time. That’s still a pretty poor figure and doesn’t take into account that few of those actually arrived into London Bridge at the scheduled time, but it’s better than a kick in the Travelcard.

7. That a sensible Democrat wins the US Presidency.

I think we can put this one down as a WIN.

8. That I lose some more weight, although ideally not through amputation, decapitation or any sort of wasting disease.

This, on the other hand, remains a work in progress.

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Twitter in Parliament Dec 21

It is not my intention that this becomes a blog about Twitter so I’ll let this be my third and final post on the subject for the time being (the next will be a small rant on a different subject).

But I wanted to draw attention to Twitter’s appearances in Parliament on Thursday, and in particular Jo Swinson’s contribution to the Christmas adjournment debate. As well as being the youngest MP, Jo is one of Parliament’s few twitterers, as she mentions:

I want to talk about the possibility of speeding up Parliament’s entry into the 21st century. I know that the Deputy Leader of the House has taken an interest in online matters. Indeed, I remember that, before his promotion to the Government, he was often seen asking questions in business questions to the Leader of the House about whether we should have more e-tabling of signatures for early-day motions and such like. More and more MPs are now using the internet to connect better with their constituents, and Parliament should also embrace this new technology, whether through social networking sites such as Facebook, Bebo and MySpace, or through interactive forums, encouraging comments on websites, podcasts, video logs—known as v-logs, they are small videos that can be uploaded to sites such as YouTube—or, indeed, a new website launched today called It aggregates all the mini-blogs or “twitters” of those MPs who twitter regularly. I declare an interest, as one of the five MPs identified as those who use this service. The others are the hon. Members for Loughborough (Mr. Reed), for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Watson) and for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps), and my hon. Friend Lynne Featherstone. This is an example of a way of connecting more immediately with our constituents, and I would encourage other hon. Members to make full use of the advantages that the internet offers, particularly in relation to the younger audience, who would not normally declare a huge interest in politics.

Jo went on to mention two other important issues of parliamentary accessibility: the rules which keep footage of Parliament off YouTube and mySociety’s Free Our Bills campaign, which I have plugged before.

Thanks to mySociety, you can watch Jo’s speech in full right here:

In tracking down Jo’s speech on TheyWorkForYou, I stumbled across two further mentions of Twitter. Thursday in the House of Lords saw Lord Norton’s debate about Parliament’s communication with the public. The first mention of Twitter came from crossbencher the Earl of Erroll, who also mentioned YouTube:

An interesting development is putting stuff about the Lords on YouTube. I was interested to see how we are rated. About 10,000 people have looked at the piece by the Lord Speaker, which is interesting and informative; about 12,000 people have looked at the Youth Parliament which took over the Chamber last summer; but 47,000 people looked at a pop group called the House of Lords, which was next on the list. That tells me that people are attracted by entertainment. If we are to try to get our message across, we shall have to make it quite entertaining and short, sharp and snappy so that people become aware of it.
The Lords of the Blog come along with more serious pieces. I have looked at that and it is heavier stuff to go through, but it is good. We need some short, sharp things. I think Twitter used very short sentences to track the State Opening of Parliament; for example, “The Queen has just entered the House” and so on. I do not know how many people showed interest in that, but all those little things build up more interest and then some people dig deeper. That is important.

The final word, though, to the second mention of Twitter, from the Lord Greaves:

A lot of noble Lords have talked about modern communication. I very much applaud the Lords of the Blog, the most interesting being the noble Lord, Lord Norton, and my noble friend Lord Tyler, but that is because I am interested in the same sort of things, which is why I am taking part in this debate. I do not go on Facebook or YouTube and I hope that I will never need to. I know that Twitter exists, but that can stay where it is. However, I applaud noble Lords who get involved in such things.

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Tweetminster Dec 18

Following up my Twitterati post, you can now check to see if your MP is one of the (very small number of) MPs on Twitter with Tweetminster.

It’s inspired, I believe, by the US version, Tweet Congress and its Liberal Democrat page carries the party’s official Twitter feed, as well as the most recent posts from our twittering MPs.

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