Sunday, 28 November 2010

Thank You, Frimley Park Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU)

My new son Landon was born Tuesday at 5.53am. He's the reason why I haven't been blogging much lately. But I thought I would quickly blog my thanks to Frimley Park hospital.
My new son Landon was born Tuesday at 5.53am. He's the reason why I haven't been blogging much lately. But I thought I would quickly blog my thanks to Frimley Park hospital.
Hospital experience is personal and is not an indication of how good care is for everyone for all treatments at a hospital. But I have to say that in my experience Frimley has been brilliant.
My dad in law had a bypass there (he later died because of his drinking habbit which caused the issue in the first place), my grandmother was kept alive when she was ill and has been going strong ever since. My mums boy friend was cured of cancer there and now my son was born at Frimley Park. So I can't complain.
Landon had a few problems being born (he was a ten pound baby) and in the end a caesarean section was required. The surgery and the care was brilliant. We were not left on our own during Labour the whole time, very impressive.
Landon has had a few problems with breathing and feeding since being born, this led to other issue. But the care in the SCBU has been first class.
So Thank You Frimley. Your staff and your facilities have been first class and I am very pleased Landon was born at Frimley Park hospital.
Landon is now doing much better and Jennifer and Landon should be out within the week. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Heartened by protests

I was in Last Thursdays Bracknell Standard What Does Bracknell Think. This time the panel was asked, Students were protesting against proposed changes to university fees but, what started out peacefully, was marred by the invasion of the Conservative HQ at Millbank, acts of violence and vandalism.

Protests happen in London everyday but don't make the news. What we want to know is whether the riot on Wednesday has actually managed to further the students' cause by drawing more attention to it, or has it hindered it?

My response;

I was heartened to see students on the streets, yes other protest are not covered but this was a big protest (close to 50,000 people). I was beginning to wonder if the British people had lost the will to protest. Brit's don't do enough of this type of activism. It's good to see some passion, much of it in a light hearted protest.

Unfortunately I think the few people who hijacked the protest at Conservative HQ have distracted the news away from the student cause. If this was at the weekend I would of gone myself. Although I would say to the students. Don't let the fees put you of. You can still afford to go.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Save our green fields campaign

I have been away from the blog due to the birth of my son, Landon. I don't really have the time to blog at the moment and I'm not following the day to day news events.
But I did want to highlight something that Sean Haffey (Conservative Councillor for Hart District Council) has blogged on. In his blog 'Save our Green fields' he has highlighted a small part of government policy which could have a big effect on our Green Fields. His blog is about Windfall sites and a campaign to call on the government to withdraw this part of their policy.
I want to support this campaign as I do believe we need more houses but I do not want to see them built on playing parks or recreation fields, let alone green sites.
Full details on how you can help and on what Windfall sites are can be found here.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Baby Time

My girl friend is due to have my baby very soon. This means that I will be away from the blog for a while. I will let you know if it's a boy or a girl and how it goes.
So enjoy the rest of the blogosphere and I hope to be back as soon as time permits.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

USA Naked scanners and lobbyists

There is an interesting article that a friend directed me to on naked body scanners in the Washington Examiner. It's about how boby scanners do little to improve security (items can still be hidden in body cavities) and the strong lobby in the states that has ensured it's rollout accross US airports.

See 'Naked scanners': Lobbyists join the war on terror

A point that the above article does not touch on is how safe are these boby scanners. They use a short but very high dose of exposure to X-ray's. See AFP's 'Naked' scanners at US airports may be dangerous: scientists. I do hope the rush to get these machine in use at airports has not exposed people to a high dose of x-rays as well as exposing their civil liberties.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Cameron acts quickly on the wrong man

It is not shocking to imagine a peer being out of touch with the general public and while Lord Young resigned quickly after making a candid remark without any heart felt concern and not incerting the context himself. His points that some people are doing ok out of the last recession is true. If you have a manageable mortgage and are paying lower interest rates and are in a safe job then compared to the 1980's recession when interest rates were over ten percent you are better off.

Politicians should be careful how they express themselves but we the public want them to speak candidly or truthly. However when they do they are forced to resign. How is this supposed to help politics in this country if the politicans can't talk in public about any subject without such scrutiny or reflection of the context.

This is why political interviews are so lame these days. They can's express themselves. This means that they become aloof and can't answer question directly for fear of being quoted out on context, leading to the sack. Interviews these days are more like a game then an insight into the subject at hand.

Only a very few politicans can get away with using language that is accepted as their way, like say Vince Cable or Boris Johnson and even they avoid questions.

Ed Miliband also took some time of paternity leave to put the knife further into lord Young. But Ed should be careful because this just encourages the Tories to do the same back when someone from Labour speaks out of turn. And they will someone always does.

It is interesting how David Cameron has acted so quickly over the his photographer and website producer and Lord Young but has still done nothing about media advisor Andy Coulson who was editor of the News of the World during their illegal phone hacking operation.

So anyone fancy becoming a politican then?

Check out the Lord Young fact check here

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Charged with soliciting murder over Iraq war blog

Today Bilal Zaheer Ahmad, 23, of Dunstall was charged with soliciting murder over Iraq war blog which listing MPs that voted for the Iraq war. He of course was also charged for other offences under the Terrorism Act which I suspect had more significance.

The danger with this charge is the usual freedom of speech after all this information is already out there in the public domain. For example the BBC has a list of who voted for the war. But I doubt the BBC will be prosecuted or Old Holborn who posted a list today.

It appears you have to be increasingly careful. While I suspect Bilal added some vile words encouraging these MP's to be attacked. This ruling could continue to effect free speech on the internet as the recent Paul Chambers twitter trial has shown. Be careful out there because at this rate I don't beable to post anything on this blog.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The 'i' Newspaper review

I have been buying the 'i'paper from The Independent most days sice it's release.
I was an increasingly occasional reader of all papers but mostly a reader of none. This is because I get annoyed with biased opinions not in columns but in the articles themselves. Of course the Independent is supposed to be just that. But of course it is not unbiased. Granted its not overly influenced by it's proprietor (Alexander Lebedev) like other papers are. But the paper does have a feel of a left wing biased. I find The Independent isn't quite as bad as the other papers when it comes to the stories themselves. They also often do a little for and against outline which seems fair.
So why mention the Independent when reviewing the 'i' newspaper. Well the 'i' takes highlighted articles and opinions from the Indy and includes them in its 56 pages.
The layout
Upon opening the paper your see the News Matrix. You can get an instant glance at the headlines and the articles within the 'i'. Your also see the letter from the editor (Simon Kelner), which can be about anything although it is usually a defence or explanation of the 'i'paper (early days).
The Matrix is a fair amount of fun. Today (16th November) for example there is the celebrity fight club which gives a hand bag rating and also allows someone like myself (who knows nothing about celebrity) to at least cover my back in conversations at work. Today there is a list of the biggest ever bonuses and every day there are some nice touches just like this. As a fact man my really like Number of the day, which list facts and figures. For example today the numbers of the day are 2:1 ratio which new sellers of homes outstrip mortgage approvals, £40m the amount spent on lawyers by the MOD, 472,000 number of people employed by Tesco in its stores around the world, 16 the passages in George W Bush's memoir that have been alleged to be plagiarised.
The paper is split into News, Views, TV, IQ, Business and Sport and a page of games.The coloured contents table of page numbers is listed on the top of every page for ease. Most sections have their own matrix.
The news itself has a world section (Panorama) with short details on the world events, articles from the Indy and Caught *& social which is two pages of Caleb pictures and gossip. Everything in the paper is short and concise, you won't find any articles over two pages.
The views section has the Opinion Matrix, a from the blogosphere highlight and @i which is a letters page sent in by email, text,Twitter and Facebook. The views sections is contained within the News section and has a couple of Independent comment articles. The matrix here has short comment on the world news with a their view and our view for some of the topics (normally two).
TV section (centre pages) has a personal TV selector which simply highlights the evenings TV with comment on each split by program type. The bottom part has a listing of the main terrestrial channels plus Sky and another chosen channel. limited space has meant that satellite and radio programming is missing although there are highlights for both.
iQ is the other bits and pieces you normally expect to find in a paper such as health, fashion, music reviews and the arts. There are other little added extras such as ispy (Celebs again) and ibuy which is a small review of products an where to buy.
Business section again has a matrix and outlook forward by David Prosser, from the business pages which looks at world papers, buy sell for recommended share dealing, the diary and a small collection of city highlights including gobal indexes, sterling to Euro,Dollar gold price etc. There are no listings of share prices.
Sport has a handy sports matrix a few good Indy articles, results and fixtures but doesn't have a list of horse races like most papers only a 'Turf' section that covers horse racing but lacks detail.
Games section is on one page with Sudoku simple, intermediate, advanced, maths puzzle, crossword and throughout the whole paper I only found one conic strip.
Any good?
I think this paper is fulfilling the gap in the market it has identified. That gap is me and others like me. I don't have that much time to read a paper. I read online news on my Iphone, Watch 24 hour news but don't buy a paper and I'm active online mainly through the phone. What puts me of papers is the price (The 'i' is 20pence), The size and the heavy handed opinions. I don't feel the 'i' is forcing opinions down my throat or going for outrage. It's also nice to not be embarrassed by reading an article while having a pair of fine boobs glaring out from my paper.
The paper of course lacks detail, lacks games and lacks celebrity gossip, this is not a bad thing for everyone. So if you want that detail your going to have to upgrade to a more expensive paper. The 'i' makes up for it as I have the time to see the headlines and know some detail across a good range of stories. the paper is an easier read, rather than flicking through lots of paper. The selection of articles are interesting, well thought out and put together and not long SA's.
This papers knows you don't have time in this modern world so the matrix's throughout covers most of the detail. 'I just want to know what's going on' you cry and your find out quickly. This paper is designed with the online world in mind while not being online itself (apart from the Independent website).
This paper is not for everyone. If you want opinions that reinforce your view or you need to know more about Xfactor and need to see a pair of boobs or indeed want a paper that will use up your whole morning then this is not for you. If you get 'The Metro' because you like it rather then grabbing it because it's free and the only thing on offer then this is not for you.
If you want a quick read that is cheap and of decent quality I would recommend the 'i' paper. There aren't any morning paper alternative out there anyway and certainly not for 20p.
News efficiency 5/5 , Boobs 0/5

Sunday, 14 November 2010

What big US government

I will never really understand how some Americans think they have big government. Other than their massive spending on defence. Take maternity leave for example. see USA Today here.

The U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act allows for 12 weeks of job-protected leave. This is not paid (accept for a few states). To quote the article 'out of 168 nations in a Harvard University study last year, 163 had some form of paid maternity leave, leaving the United States in the company of Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland.'

That is not big government, that is already the smallest state possible.

I have been watching Undercover Boss USA and one thing that runs through each program (apart from the fact that the boss only seems to deal with the personal issues of the individuals and not the company wide problems) is that Americans get almost nothing from their government or their taxes. It is simply shocking how little help the US provides. In this program you see how Americans just get on with their problems. That is commendable but every program throws up many issues which the boss deal with later in the program.

It is not just healthcare but all types of care which is not as good as it should be. It's not as if the USA doesn't have Social Security, its just not very good when compared with other first world countries. We all know about Americas Work to Welfare programs which is much harsher than the Coalitions proposals, but did you know that US citizens only received three months of unemployment benefit until this was changed to two years for the duration of the recession.

So American I just want to let you know that you do not have big government.

USA Social Security Administration can be found here

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Some Lib Dems planned to abandon tuition fees pledge

Lets face it. Lib Dems members knew one thing about coalitions. The minor party generally does badly in the next general election. So we knew this was going to be hard. But damn it, this is very difficult indeed.

The headline should really read 'A small group of Lib Dems planned to abandon the fees pledge'. This is because the same Lib Dems who were part of the negotiation team are the same Lib Dems who knew what was in the negociation document. So it's really they who planned to abandon the pledge. The rest of us had no idea.

Nick Clegg did try to get the Liberal Democrats to drop this policy and he failed. Because the Liberal Democrats are a democratic party it meant that he didn't have that much control over policy and has to accept some polices voted on by the party members.

As I said in A pledge is a pledge. End of . There is not much defence to a pledge. To pictures of you standing infront of a pledge, when knowing that the two parties you may have to negociate with both support tuition fees and won't pull back on it. Knowing times are hard and this would not be affordable. This was the big error. Perhaps the biggest error Clegg and the negociation team made. For a group of people so clever it is quite shocking that they didn't back away some MP's including themselves from this pledge.

It is right in a first past the post election system for the rest of the party to remain ignorant of the negociation document because you have to fight for a government not for a coalition. However I think now we have had a recent coaltion perhaps we should release some details of our priorities for negociation before the next election so atleast people will understand the difference between negotiable policy and non negotiable policy. I still feel that the Lib Dems where caught between a rock and a hard place after the electorate cast their vote.

I would also add that perhaps a policy to scrap tuition fees was not as fair as it first seems. Me and my brother did not go to university but my mum still paid through her taxes for others to go to uni. This doesn't seem fair. So I think it is more fair for graduates to pay something torwards their university education. The new system is like a back door graduate tax. It is a progressive system. The main problem with it is the cost or rather the cuts to higher education. I agree with some cuts because I don't think the state should pay the full cost but its the high level of cuts that have made the new system so expensive.

It's worth listening to Stephen Nolan on last night show with Rob Wilson MP who wrote the book where this detail is revealed. Iain Dale, Mehdi Hasan, Dr Evan Harris and Helen Duffett discussing this topic from about 1.45 hours in. click here.

Friday, 12 November 2010

More land development for Bracknell Borough

Bracknell Forest Council has opened for consultation their plans for the future housing development here. Comments can be made on the website (I will post mine in due course).This is for the remaining 3,626 houses required of the 10,780 additional homes proposed by 2026.
The proposals include the heading 'Previously Developed Land in Defined Settlements'.
These sites are;
18 houses at Adastron House, Crowthorne Road, Bracknell
100 houses at Garth Hill School, Sandy Lane, Bracknell
14 houses on Land at Battle Bridge House, and Garage, Forest Road, Warfield
28 at Peacock Bungalow, Peacock Lane, Binfield
35 at Farley Hall, London Road, Binfield
77 at The Depot (Commercial Centre), Bracknell Lane West, Bracknell
40 at Albert Road Car Park, Bracknell
20 at The Iron Duke, Waterloo Place, Old Bakehouse Court, High Street, Crowthorne
216 at Land to the north of Eastern Road, Bracknell
Some of the sites above make sense like the Iron Duke which has been boarded up for quite some time. However it's the next list that I am most concerned about. When reading through the document I find that developed land includes parks and playing fields.
Other Land within Defined Settlements where policy SA 2 states 'Identified for housing and should be developed in accordance with the requirements identified in respect of each site and all general policy considerations.'
40 at Bay Drive, Bracknell
85 at The Football Ground, Larges Lane, Bracknell
10 at 24-30 Sandhurst Road, Crowthorne
100 at Land at Cricket Field Grove, Crowthorne
20 at Land at School Hill, Crowthorne
11 at Sandbanks, Longhill Road, Bracknell (Winkfield Parish)
75 at Land north of Cain Road, Binfield
12 at 152 New Road, Ascot (Winkfield Parish)
What caught my eye was the Football ground and Cricket Field Grove. This would mean a new location would have to be found for Bracknell FC (which has been looked at before).
Details of the sites can be viewed here and the maps are here.
Of course this is a consultation so these houses won't go ahead at all locations but it's worth getting in your thoughts about the developments now. Click on link here for your comments as they will be considered.

The way people speak

I was in Last Thursdays Bracknell Standard What Does Bracknell Think. This time the panel was asked
This week's question is about the way people speak.
The British Library is doing some research into the way pronunciations of words are changing and have noted that under 35's pronounce certain words in different ways to older people indicating that language is changing.
Here are some news stories to give some background -
With a lot of words there is no right and wrong but that doesn't stop some pronunciations really annoying us.
What we want to know this week is what people's pet hates about the way others speak are? For example, does it make you cringe when someone pronounces the word 'schedule' 'skedule', to the letter 'h' 'haitch'?
Or do you think it really doesn't matter and people should lighten up a bit?
And my answer;
I certainly don't use the English language perfectly, for example I say 'guard' in stead of 'god'. It doesn't bother me. You can't expect language not to change over time if it's in constant use.
The only thing that really bothers me is when people end every sentence with a raised emphasis on the end making the sentence sound like a question.
It also bothers me when people judge others as being less than themselves based on their use of language.
Let me know what you think?

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Blog & Newsweek: 20 Bracknell & national politics

Here is a selection of issues making headlines during the past few weeks:

Local News

Slough Town Hall could become new school

Recycling collection goes weekly - In wokingham.

MP pledge to villager's - MP Phillip Lee lends his support to the campaign against 3,500 homes, Should be an interesting meeting for him with the Tory council. See my blog Crowthorne and Binfield housing rebels
and Get Bracknell 'Plea to look again at housing plan rejected'.

Taxi drivers fight for cap on licences - Personally I support them in this, there are a lot of drivers and it must be hard to make a living. If the level is right then perhaps they could charge less as turnover would be higher.

Local Links

Jane is the one finds that Labour in Reading "wrong" says its Facebook administrator, I blogged about this in 'Former Reading MP threatened with Facebook block from local Labour.

Cllr John Ennis finds Willis's stealth tax designed to rake in £150.000 plus a year.

Tony Jones thinks that Reading Lib Dem Councilor Daisy's Dilemma: Back Bayes And Sacrifice Epps? - Personally I think Tony has forgotten a major factor which is hard work. Daisy Benson works very hard as do the other Reading Lib Dem councillors, I believe this will stand them in good stead. They don't need a campaign as they are on the doorstep all the time anyway. Doing case work and looking after the interests of the area.

Green Reading in Woolas Hypocrisy has some examples in Reading of how dirty local campaigns can get. Personally I really hate this type of politics. The sooner this Woolas ruling washes through all parties the better for all of us.

Liberal Burblings asks Question: When does a $10 million trip cost $2 billion? Answer: When Fox News is involved

National Link (Links of the day)

Labour Blogger Moments of Clarity asks Should we consider not standing in Oldham East and Saddleworth this time? - It would be interesting to have a two way by-election but I still prefer a 3 way one myself.

Caron's Musings asks How the US Republicans get it so, so wrong.

Gudio Fawkes has a video showing that Coulson Could Learn a Thing or Two

Left Foot Forward reports that the Public unaware of just how much those at the very top are pai.

And finally this weeks entertainment is provided by my chance to indulge myself in a political music video. This week it's The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy with their tale of California Uber Alles, enjoy; 

Monday, 8 November 2010

Governments Transparency website

I have been using the website today. This was launched as part of the government idea to have business plans rather that top down targets.

As a decentralising Liberal I very much like the idea of a power shift from government" to local experts like for example. Paying charities by results for the number of reformed prisoners if they bring down reoffending rates. These are good ideas because it is people on the ground in the area who deal with the day to day issues and they know how to help individuals and in turn the greater good rather than inflexible central government targets.

The website itself is unusually clear for a government website. I like the way you choose your subject at the top, click on 'show' and the get a start and end date and the status progress on a number of points within the plan. I hope people do use it. It certainly opens up government because no one wants to flick through pages of PDF's on government legislation when just trying to find out simple points and progress (apart from political geeks of course).

Although the website is subject to spin despite it's title and of course we the British public are very cynical about new government ideas. I still think this is a nice idea. Although I do understand the majority of people probably won't be interested or even know of its existence.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

An entertaining stress story

I was having an email debate about stress with friends. To me stress is relative, people who live in poverty, perhaps have to live with violence and are looking for their next meal to feed their children, survive with little support and living day to day, hand to mouth. That person would clearly have a higher level of constant stress than myself.
After this debate my brother picked up the email trail and added this funny story of stress. Enjoy.

I've just come across this debate, having returned from holiday. Middle class jobs are not stressful as long as you do not become financially reliant on them and there isn't a recession on! Otherwise it is easy to want to show oneself as willing to put in the extra effort / hours etc so you are not the one made redundant! Strangely for me, I don't really get stressed these days despite working in the middle of the city. Just because you are in central London doesn't mean you should be compelled to rush around everywhere, although it seems many do. Just getting briefly in someone's way and delaying their journey by 0.5 seconds is almost certain to bring an outraged 'tut'.
To recreate the feeling of intense stress however, simply perform the following actions. I tested them on holiday last week:
1. Go on holiday to Spain and plan to drive to various towns and cities, road trip style.
2. Order a mid-sized saloon as a hire car.
3. On arrival at the airport, discover the car you wanted was not available and experience excitement as you are told that it has been replaced by a brand new BMW 530d GT.
4. Allow excitement to be replaced by trepidation as you see the car is the size of an aircraft carrier.
5. Ignore partners advice to change car as you notice it has sport and sport+ buttons. Stress level 0.
6. Drive to Grenada to discover an utterly horrifying maze of one way, narrow back streets and dizzyingly complicated road systems. There is no apparent way out of the city. Stress level 3.
7. Embrace the first feelings of panic as car gets stuck down narrow a lane - try to remain calm as various locals shout and toot at you, shout back that they 'are not helping'. They do not appear to understand. Stress level 6.
8. Tell your partner you are going to abandon the car where it is and just hire another one. Stress level 5.
9. Rapidly retreat from above option as partner makes it clear it is not a valid option. Stress level 7.
10. Finally free car after folding back wing mirrors and doing a 254 point turn. By now locals have stopped tooting and have reached the quietly furious stage. Lots of crossed arms. Need to find way out. Now. Stress level 9.
11. Back to the road system. Yay stress level 10! The 'falling down' event horizon!
12. Start to giggle uncontrollably and use the taxi / bus lane system to exit city while waving at the annoyed looking taxi drivers.
After reading that my stress level returned to 0.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Former Reading MP threatened with Facebook block from local Labour party

Jane Griffiths former MP for Reading East is threatened with being blocked from the Reading Labour Facebook page for uploading some pictures. They don't allow comments on the page, something I'm always suspicious of. Jane Griffiths also reminisces about the bullying within the local party.
Activists and members are in this game not for some personal gain but because we think the party we have chosen can do some good in the community and the country, after all it's not a paid role. We disagree on how we get there and fall on difference sides of the political prospective. But with the means to an end of achieving our goal of helping our fellow man/woman.
Still it is getting better, isn't it?
Sometimes I wonder why we all bother to give up our time with all this going on. Damn politics.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Employing WebCameron

I'm actually disgusted that David Cameron is employing his filmmaker who produced the 'WebCameron' videos and his personal photographer in government. During a time when hundred's of thousand's will lose their jobs in government, Cameron finds a role for them, totally disgusting. Frankly the explanation that they could replace many departments individual photographers and save money is total rubbish. Why not redeploy those in government already instead.

To me it is simple, it looks like they could have been promised a roll in government and received one. Do we know how much they are being paid for these rolls? Are they being paid more than before? Did they take on the original jobs on a promise of getting rolls in government? This raises many questions. Frankly it makes me feel sick!

While I'm on this subject, I still can't believe that David Cameron is still employing Andy Coulson, It seems inconceivable that he didn't know about the phone tapping. Is Coulson really worth holding on to? I hope Tom Watson MP can keep the pressure up on Cameron see 'Letter to David Cameron regarding Andy Coulson'.

I would of been physically sick if it wasn't for Vince Cable ordering Ofcom to investigate News Corporation's plan to take full control of BSkyB. I'm very concerned that Sky News could turn into Fox news and thats apart from the power Murdochs media already have. I'm now expecting a full assault by the Murdoch press on Cable.

Now excuse me as I need a lie down.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Ten tips for the Lib Dem part of the coalition

Julian Glover over at comment is free on the Guardian has 'Ten top Tips for the Liberal Democrats'. 10 points I totally agree with.

Point 4 is also one I never considered before. 'Join forces with Labour in Scotland next May. A Lab-Lib Dem coalition in Holyrood would prove that pluralism runs more than one way. Lib Dems aren't Tories in disguise', what a good idea, I hope there is enough votes to get a coalition in Holyrood.

EU Increase maternity leave 2nd reply

For completeness here is Catherine Bearder MEP reply to Bill Bloggs letter 'EU increase maternity leave policy'

Dear Bill,

Thank you for contacting Catherine regarding the vote last week in the European parliament on the revision of the pregnant workers directive. Catherine forwarded me this email and asked me to respond on her behalf and also pass on her good wishes. She hopes to be getting down to Bracknell soon. If you have any questions for Catherine in future it is best to contact her via rather than her cix account, which she is phasing out and doesn't check as regularly.


Catherine did not support the amendments you refer to. Her Liberal Democrat colleague in the European parliament Liz Lynne MEP tabled amendments to the proposals by the European Parliament's Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee, calling for full pay to be taken out of the report. This directive was always intended, quite rightly, to provide minimum standards to protect pregnant workers and women who are breastfeeding, but some of the amendments in the report went further and did not take into account the different traditions of Member States. For example, some countries have maternity leave, some have paternity leave as well, and some have parental leave. This leave is paid in totally different ways and at different rates – some from the social security systems, some from businesses and some are a mixture.


Whilst Catherine supports the original purpose of the directive, her view is that we can only really impose minimum standards at EU level and it should be for Member States to go beyond this if they wish. This legislation is intended as Health and Safety legislation for women at work.


Catherine is, as you are, concerned about the enormous costs associated with the proposed changes and was pleased that a second, more detailed impact assessment was carried out in to the Women's Rights Committee's amendments which between now and 2030 would cost some €121 billion.  As I said before, the extension of maternity leave could cost the UK €3 billion (£2.5 billion) each year. This is a staggering amount at a time when we have to stabilise the economy and deficit after years of mismanagement and waste by the Labour Government.


The amendments as voted through by MEPs last week could have a significant effect on businesses and particularly small businesses that are struggling to fight the effects of the recession.


This is still the first step in a long negotiation process and now the text will go to the Council of Ministers for their consideration. I believe that the UK's coalition government will not approve these proposals as it would have a negative impact not only on the UK but other Member States also.


Thank you once again for contacting Catherine and I hope this response has been of use to you.


Yours sincerely,

Mark Wheeler

Office of Catherine Bearder MEP

Monday, 1 November 2010

Yes we can't Obama

President Obama famously said on the John Stewart Daily show, "Yes we can but...". 

Obama, oh what hopes the world had.

It turns out that Obama likes to let others push through his reforms and is happy to have them watered down. He only has himself to blame for Democrat voters not flooding out in their droves to vote for his party in the mid term elections. Obama has blown it.

The Republicans and the Tea Party supporters would of attacked Obama and the Democrats with the same vigour with or without Obama's watered down reforms. So Obama should of gone for it anyway, gone the whole hog. It's ok to have enemies in politics. It motivates your own side to and gives clarity to your positions.

However this is not all good news for the Republicans, they better watch out to. Because if the Tea Party are not happy with the new found power that control of the senate may give them then (and I suspect they won't be) I can see the Tea Party running as a 3rd Party with perhaps plenty of Libertarian right Wing Conservative Republicans standing as members of an all new Tea Party.

From movements do political parties grow. You have been warned.