Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Labour leadership

To David Miliband, Harriet Harman, or anyone else thinking of challenging Gordon Brown, a question.

Why now?

Why not a year ago?

Monday, 28 July 2008


Tragic news from the old country as Weston's Grand Pier was destroyed in a fire.

Anyone brought up in the Bristol area will have day trips to Weston hard wired into their very essence, and any visit to Weston involved a trip to the Pier. I was never a fan of the arcades or chip stalls, but I did enjoy standing at the end and looking out over the Bristol Channel. The last time I saw the Pier was at the start of this month when I looked back from Brean Down towards Weston.

From this vantage point it was the main feature of the town, and it loomed as large visually as it does in my memory. It's blackened bones will now scar the town.
While Weston isn't as bad as some seaside towns, it's definitely seen better days. I fear that the loss of the Pier is a significant blow to Weston. Unless it is repaired it could define the place.
Sadly, it may be too expensive to do so.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Urban rain

This evening has been depressing. The rain has continued to lash down and I have not had a chance to plant the beans.

London rain - at any time of the year - beats you down.

How different to the exhiliaring thunderstorm that we got caught in on Brean Down last weekend. As it whipped in suddenly from the Bristol Channel it actually tasted of salt. After it had passed, we watched another move up the Somerset Levels, with some very impressive lightening as it moved towards Glastonbury.

T loved it. He was in the backpack and ended up under my coat and was so excited he shrieked. When he really gets caught he'll learn.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Ray Lewis and Mayoral Advisers

Boris, like Ken before him, is getting some serious flak because of allegations about one of his advisers.

The mayor is allowed to appoint a number of individuals to posts such as these. They are in a nether world between paid public servant and political appointee.

They attract a partisan press attention so that they cannot fulfil the role of paid public servants, and yet they do not have any accountability other than to the mayor who appointed them, which raises serious concerns about their political responsibilities.

The Greater London Authority Acts should be amended. The mayor should be able to appoint a cabinet, but he should do so from the members of the London Assembly.

If the Mayor wants particular people to particular jobs, he should be able to appoint them, but political and democratic responsibility should reside with the elected mayor and a cabinet drawn from the members of the Greater London Assembly. Operational responsibility should reside with officials.

The same system as set out in in the 2000 Local Government Act. Use this, not the failed mayoral cabinet experiment.