[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

Tim Farron and Norman Lamb at Social Liberal Forum hustings

Sporting the same shirt and trousers outfit and similar close cropped hair styles, 57 year old Norman Lamb and the more youthful 45 year old Tim Farron – who being men, will of course not be described that way by the press – faced off in a hustings that saw more variety in their stock speeches and answers than usual.

Lamb went first and was on good form, with much more emphasis on his personal stories, using them to weave a convincing picture of his campaigning track record on issues as varied as freedom of information, arms exports and mental health.

He was followed by Farron who for the Social Liberal Forum audience dropped his usual opener of praising Nick Clegg and instead went for a joke about Richard Reeves, one-time and rather notorious strategy advisor to Nick Clegg. That was no opening quirk for through the rest of Farron’s speech were several other familiar riffs that previously have led to positive mentions of Clegg. This time, all the Clegg mentions were dropped through both speech and answers save for one very fleeting reference to the “Nick vs Nigel” debates. Out too was his habit of looking at the ceiling. Mostly.

Unusually, the opening applause – which is usually a draw or win for Lamb – this time was a very clear win for Farron, helped by his impressive oration complete with plenty of finger pointing in the style of Harrison Ford.

Unusually too, there were plenty of mentions of economic policy, reprising Farron’s great passion about inequality but otherwise producing a smattering of Vince Cable-like statements on investment and public services from both candidates – especially when it comes to improving social care.

On the question of cash for peerages, both Farron and Lamb agreed there was an odour that needed removing and – rightly – pointed to the underlying problems with unelected peers and party funding rules although – oddly – neither chose to say the answer in the short-term is to use party democracy: remove the odour of cash for peerages by electing nominees. Which after all is meant to be the party’s system.

Overall both were on good form with their very familiar jokes often playing especially well, suggesting that for most of the audience this was their first hustings – shedding a light on how little depth of engagement the leadership contest generates offline.

And did the Social Liberal Forum follow the official rules from party HQ on how to run a hustings? Of course not – and it was a better hustings for it. Even if it left hanging the question of whether Norman Lamb has swapped Mediterranean islands. He talked about Sardinia but was mute on Malta. I trust the Maltese Ambassador will be on the case soon…


Keep up with news on the Lib Dem leadership race

jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)


Jul. 4th, 2015 02:36 pm
[personal profile] jimhines

If you ever want to relive the days of dial-up modems, I suggest driving to the northern edge of the U.P., then piggybacking your laptop onto your phone’s data signal.

But with today being the 4th of July, I figured I should share a few of the fireworks from last night’s display. I’m particularly fond of the way #1 and #4 turned out, like giant flaming dandelions.

Firework1 Firework2 Firework3 Firework4 Firework5

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_forbes_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

Given what day it is we ought to think up something to offer as a present to the grateful nation. My suggestion is the abolition of the Jones Act. This is the law that says that all transport by sea between US ports must be carried out on US ships. They must be US built, of US steel, crewed by Americans. This leads to ships themselves costing 3-4 times more than if they were built in yards in other countries and leads to shipping costs being around twice what they would be in the absence of the act. As to why it should be abolished, well, that’s obvious from the preceding. But as to why it should be abolished as a birthday present to the nation, well, it was the imposition of something very like this by the English which actually precipitated the Revolutionary War and thus the birthday itself.

The English placed strict limitations on who could carry the trade of the colonies:

In the 1660′s the English government imposed regulations on the Amercan colonies in the form of the Navigation Acts. These Acts were based upon current mercantilist theory and intended to direct the development of the colonies to best suit the home country of England. Mercantilist policy involved:

Goods and produce going to or coming from the colonies were to be carried only in ships of the empire.
Certain specific colonial goods, among which were tobacco, rice, and sugar, were to be shipped only to Great Britain.
The mother country was to have a monopoly on the provision of manufactured goods to the colonies.
The colonies were forbidden to engage in manufactures competing directly with those of the mother country, and were encouraged to develop manufactures not produced in the mother country.
Preferential treatment was to be granted to encourage the production of certain colonial products for the benefit of the mother country.

The complaints about this grumbled on for a century and more and most certainly added to the complaints about colonial policy. And the justification was that this would build up the merchant marine. Which is much the same justification given for the Jones Act these days. And the policies are very similar, as are the effects. This gives excess profits, rents, to both US ship owners and US seamen (and, obviously, their unions). Those rents or excess profits coming at the cost of consumers of those goods that are shipped, or those who cannot consume something because it is not shipped.

This is actually a significant point for some parts of the US as this report, which I mentioned here, shows:

Transport costs. All islands, remote from the centers of economic activity, suffer from high transportation costs. But Puerto Rico does so disproportionately, with import costs at least twice as high as in neighboring islands on account of the Jones Act, which forces all shipping to and from US ports to be conducted with US vessels and crews. Even those that consider the negative effects of the Jones Act to be exaggerated – e.g., outbound cargo rates are lower than inbound ones, as ships would rather not return empty – concede it is a clear net negative. Puerto Rico also has local laws that add to transportation costs – specifically, prices and licensing requirements set by the Public Service Commission for ground transportation.

This is not, by any means at all, the only reason that Puerto Rico is going bust but it is one of them.

So, why not decide to give that to the nation as a birthday present? One of the things that the Founding Fathers complained about bitterly was the imposition of extremely high transport costs by the English. So, why not abolish the law that imposes the same thing on fellow Americans today?

Happy Fourth of July

Jul. 4th, 2015 04:29 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

For the Americans: Enjoy yourself, keep your pets from freaking out and try to get through the day with all or at least most of your fingers still on your body.

Everyone else: Uh, we Americans are gonna mostly be drunk and setting off fireworks for much of the day. You maybe want to stay out of our way until tomorrow. Thanks.

[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Caron Lindsay

Here’s the third set of tweets from the SLF Conference. Gordon Lishman chaired a session on political pluralism. David Howarth, former MP for Cambridge, looked at election data, Sue Goss from Compass looked at how progressive parties might work together and Tom Spencer, former Tory MEP who argued that a liberal party should alternate between left and right.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

SLF Conference – The Tweets #2

Jul. 4th, 2015 02:46 pm
[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Caron Lindsay

Here’s our second look at tweets from SLF Conference covering late morning and early afternoon. It’s a great day. Remember you can watch live below:

First up a session on how the Lib Dems rebuild featuring Sal Brinton and Mark Pack:

But at the end…

Sadly nothing too controversial. The most surprising thing was that Mark didn’t mention chocolate once.

And elsewhere the Huppertmeister and Kelly-Marie Blundell talked about liberty:

And Positive Money were questioning our approach to the money markets and showing up the ignorance of MPs (not just ours).

In the early afternoon, Daisy Cooper and Chris Nicholson took very different approaches to idea of reforming governance. Daisy wanted us to use it as a campaigning issue, and talk about concentration of power in hands of the few and how we would hand it back to people:

Chris Nicholson, former Special Adviser to Ed Davey, gave the perspective from inside government and said something that many people will consider quite controversial:

Some might see this as the Westminster Bubble blaming the party for our lack of success.

Federalism was on the agenda elsewhere

And a discussion on community:

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Mike Smithson


For EU supporter read “Blairite” or “CON-lite”

As I was returning from holiday a couple of days ago the News Statesman’s, Stephen Bush posted the above Tweet which I’ve been pondering over ever since – for there might be a grain of truth in it.

After the appalling Tory defeat by Tony Blair in 1997 the Tories had a couple of chances when they could have chosen Ken Clarke as their leader but on each occasion he was just too much. His undiluted support for Britain in the EU was never going to resonate in a party that had been torn asunder by the issue in the mid-1990s. Yet I’d argue that he would have done far better job leading his party against Blair in the 1997-2001 and 2001-2005 periods than any of the three who were carrying the blue flag over that nine years.

Many found the big Clarke personality very appealing and CON members in a YouGov poll in September 2005 had him some way ahead of both David Davis and one David Cameron. This, as we know, was not to be.

Bush’s comparison with Liz Kendall has quite a lot of merit although she has far less name recognition than Clarke had. She’s been dismissed by her opponents as the “Blairite” candidate – the one who wants to bring in Tory policies. Yet as a recent survey of CON councillors showed she is the one who is most highly rated by the party’s main opponents.

    My view is that LAB might just possibly fare better under her than any of the other three. More than anything she is the change candidate and, who knows, could reach voters that Burnham, Corbyn and Cooper could not.

After the devastation on May 7th Labour needs to signal a fresh direction. Electing Kendal would certainly do that.

Mike Smithson

[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

Lib Dem website screenshot

Want to read the latest news stories and blog posts from the Liberal Democrat federal website but want the stories to come to you rather than have to remember to go and check the website regularly for new content?

Then my free email service is just what you need. Just sign up for this daily email of Liberal Democrat news here (tick the second box under “What would you like to receive?”).

There will be no more than one email a day – and no email if there hasn’t been a new story added in previous day.

Hopefully you’ll find it a nice supplement to my monthly analysis of what’s going on in the party, Liberal Democrat Newswire, which you can sign up to via the same form (tick the first box).

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_forbes_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

One of the crazier stories coming out of Greece this weekend is that the country is going to impose depositor haircuts at the banks as a method of recapitalising them. This is crazy on two levels, the first being that it won’t work. The second being that it first appeared in the Financial Times who ought to know that it cannot possibly work.

No wonder Yanis Varoufakis was quick to denounce it:

The point being that it simply wouldn’t work. Here’s what the FT floated:

Greek banks are preparing contingency plans for a possible “bail-in” of depositors amid fears the country is heading for financial collapse, bankers and businesspeople with knowledge of the measures said on Friday.
The plans, which call for a “haircut” of at least 30 per cent on deposits above €8,000, sketch out an increasingly likely scenario for at least one bank, the sources said.

This is simply scaremongering. Just so that you know, the FT, like every newspaper, has its own political line. And for the FT that means being pretty much in the tank for the euro and European integration. I’m not quite suggesting that the paper has made this up in order to scare Greek voters to vote the “right way”. But I could easily believe someone who wanted to do such scaring feeding the FT the story knowing that they wouldn’t check it very hard.

The real point though is that this wouldn’t work:

Greek deposits are guaranteed up to €100,000, in line with EU banking directives, but the country’s deposit insurance fund amounts to only €3bn, which would not be enough to cover demand in case of a bank collapse.
With few deposits over €100,000 left in the banks after six months of capital flight, “it makes sense for the banks to consider imposing a haircut on small depositors as part of a recapitalisation. . . It could even be flagged as a one-off tax,” said one analyst.

It wouldn’t work because it doesn’t solve the problem. As noted, there’s almost no accounts with more than the insured amount in them left. So, all deposits are therefore guaranteed, up to that €100,000 by the Greek state. So, if the banks go bust the Greek state has to make all depositors good and whole. If the Greek banks don’t go bust by confiscating some percentage of the deposits (that’s the bail in, that’s what it means) then the Greek state has to make up those losses. That’s what the guarantee means. And if the Greek banks go bust then the Greek state has to come up with the capital to get them going again.

Whichever way it’s done we end up with the demand upon the finances of the Greek state being exactly the same. A bank recapitalisation will cost it money it doesn’t have, and a depositor bail in would cost it, through the guarantee scheme, exactly the same amount of money that it doesn’t have.

Thus, a bail in just won’t work. Which is why I’m terribly surprised that the FT fell for this story.

A Greek bail-in could resemble the rescue plan agreed by Cyprus in 2013, when customers’ funds were seized to shore up the banks, with a haircut imposed on uninsured deposits over €100,000.

Yes, quite, what happened in Cyprus was with uninsured deposits. Because that’s the only way it solves the problem. But we’ve already noted that there aren’t any uninsured deposits left in Greece. So, it won’t work, will it?

Someone out there is spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt with this story.

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_forbes_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

Sitting over here in Europe and watching the federasts worrying about whether their darling and delight, the euro, is going to survive the outcome of the Greek crisis is rather disconcerting. For they’ve still not grasped the basic point at issue here: it is the euro itself that is the problem, nothing else. What moves it all from disconcerting to howlingly frustrating is that they were told this, repeatedly, before the euro started. That for all their joy at ever greater European union they were simply sowing the seeds of the next economic disaster. And given what has happened in Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Greece in recent years disaster is not too strong a word. This is not our fathers’ recessions, this is much more akin to our grandfathers’ Depression. In fact, outside war or positively malevolent governance (like Mugabe’s Zimbabwe) it’s difficult to think of anywhere that has had an economic disaster to match these past few years in peripheral Europe. It wasn’t this bad for most of Europe in the Great Depression itself.

Paul Krugman points, quite rightly, to what is actually the problem, the euro itself:

Why are there so many economic disasters in Europe? Actually, what’s striking at this point is how much the origin stories of European crises differ. Yes, the Greek government borrowed too much. But the Spanish government didn’t — Spain’s story is all about private lending and a housing bubble. And Finland’s story doesn’t involve debt at all. It is, instead, about weak demand for forest products, still a major national export, and the stumbles of Finnish manufacturing, in particular of its erstwhile national champion Nokia.

What all of these economies have in common, however, is that by joining the eurozone they put themselves into an economic straitjacket. Finland had a very severe economic crisis at the end of the 1980s — much worse, at the beginning, than what it’s going through now. But it was able to engineer a fairly quick recovery in large part by sharply devaluing its currency, making its exports more competitive. This time, unfortunately, it had no currency to devalue. And the same goes for Europe’s other trouble spots.

Does this mean that creating the euro was a mistake? Well, yes.

Just to go back to basics here. We have both monetary policy and fiscal policy with which we can influence the economy. It’s not quite true but close enough to say that they can substitute for each other (no, let’s no go into the zero lower bound and all that, we’re being very simplistic here). It’s also true that different areas will have different economies. Manhattan’s economy is different from that of Queens, that of New Jersey is more different than that as against that of Louisiana, the economy of Greece is again more different than that from the economy of Germany and so on. The larger the area we consider the more we’re going to have sub-economies within that radically differ.

If things always stayed the same this wouldn’t matter. But they don’t: oil prices change, the weather does, technology changes. Different economies, these sub-economies, will react differently to those external changes (in the jargon, exogenous changes). And that’s fine, we’ve our monetary and fiscal policies with which we can manage them (please note here, I’m including currency exchange rates as monetary policy, which it can be).

Thinking of the US economy Texas with its oil is obviously reacting to the change in the crude oil price differently from Idaho, where they consume but don’t produce oil.

Our next stage is that if you’ve got one currency then you’ve got to also have one monetary policy. The basic interest rate is the same right over the US, just as it is right across the eurozone. So, in the US, when there’s one of those shocks only fiscal policy can be used to help one area that needs it. A lot of this is automatic, Federal taxes will decline (ie, less money is taken out of that local economy) when the local industry busts. And Federal spending will increase at the same time in that area. These are “automatic stabilisers” in the jargon.

And so what happens in Europe, in the eurozone? Well, we’ve got to have just the one interest rate because we’ve got just the one currency, that is, we can’t use monetary policy to help a specific region as we must set it for all. And yet we’ve not got fiscal policy across the entire region either. When the German economy was pretty sick (around 2000 to 2005) we had low interest rates for all because that’s what the largest economy in Europe needed. This set off massive property booms in both Spain and Ireland. And yet there wasn’t any tax collection from those booms which was then sent to Germany, as there would have been with a single fiscal space and policy. Then came the bust and those property booms collapsed: all the Irish and Spanish banks (I exaggerate, but only a little) went bust. By this time Germany was doing fine so interest rates were not reduced to zero: what the peripheral countries needed. But nor was there tax collection in Germany to send to those now poor countries.

This is the real and basic problem of the euro. We must have one monetary policy for the entire area. And yet the local economies are too disparate to be all run with one monetary policy alone. There must be a fiscal policy which covers the whole area to make it even possible that the eurozone will thrive in the long term. And we’ve not got it and we’re most unlikely to get it.

Thus the euro itself is simply a mistake. As Krugman says.

The something for nothing culture

Jul. 4th, 2015 01:28 pm
[syndicated profile] chris_dillow_feed

Posted by chris

One thing I'd like George Osborne to do in Wednesday's "emergency" Budget is to end the something for nothing culture.

I know someone who has made almost £400,000 tax-free without working - equivalent to almost 20 years of getting the maximum welfare benefits the Tories are considering. Thanks to this, he is looking forward to a prosperous early retirement. This is surely unfair, given that so many younger people might have to work until they drop.

That someone, of course, is me. And the £400,000 is the tax-free profit I made from rising house prices.

In this respect, I am typically British. Just look at the TV schedules. Antiques Roadshow, Homes under the Hammer, Cash in the Attic and anything starring Phil & Kirsty or Sarah Beeny testify to our desire to get money without working. The idea that something for nothing culture is confined to benefit recipients is utterly wrong.

It is, however, economically damaging in at least four ways:

 - It diverts finance away from productive uses. For every pound UK banks lend to manufacturers, they lend almost £36 to home-buyers: £35.3bn vs £1264.8bn (pdf). It might also contribute to financial crises as bank periodically learn that mortgage lending isn't as safe as they think.

 - As Andrew Oswald and Danny Blanchflower have shown (pdf), it contributes to unemployment, in part because the deadweight costs to home-owners of moving house slow down the extent to which people can move to where there are jobs.

 - It creates a large constituency with a vested interest in loose monetary policy and higher inflation; inflation favours home-owners but hurts renters. The cost here isn't, perhaps (pdf) merely the werlfare costs of high inflation but the malinvestments, bubbles and increased risk of financial crises that result from low rates.

 - If people are looking to get rich merely from rising house prices, they'll be diverted from productive activity. Granted, my early retirement won't be a devastating loss to anyone, but across millions of people such early retirement - and the diminished need to make full use of their human capital event whilst they are working - might well represent a big loss.

These mechanisms are consistent with a big fact - that across countries, high home ownership is associated with poor macroeconomic performance; Greeks and Italians are far more likely to own houses than Swiss or Germans*.

Which brings me to the Budget. In proposing to cut inheritance tax on housing George Osborne will exacerbate all these problems by further increasing the constituency with an interest in house price inflation and in getting something for nothing. This is not just inegalitarian - most of those who stand to inherit a £1m house are rich already  - but also, I'd suggest, inefficient not just for the above reasons but also because lower tax on inheritances mean higher taxes elsewhere.

What it is not, though, is unpopular. Which reminds us that a big obstacle to a more just and efficient economy is public opinion.

* Of course, the causality doesn't just run from home ownership to shonky economies, but this is suggestive of some link.

[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Euan Davidson

I am writing this article after becoming increasingly frustrated at the tone and level of debate with which many people in our party are subjecting the Scottish Children and Young People’s bill and in particular the provision for a “named person” for every child.

Many of you will be asking what a “named person” is. If you choose to listen to the Daily Mail, the Christian institute and an assortment of other hysterical social conservatives this represents the introduction of state sponsored guardians whose mission in life is to spy on families and enforce political correctness. However I choose not to listen to these groups. I choose to listen to the countless social workers, teachers, child protections professionals, youth workers and other professionals who are backing this legislation.

What this legislation actually does is provide for a single point of contact for every young person from the ages of zero to eighteen so if ever that young person requires support from services or a welfare issue is raised by professionals, these organisations are operating in tandem rather than working in isolation. This will operate in a similar manner as health visitors supporting mothers and infants. For the vast majority of young people the named person will be a midwife then a health visitor followed by their primary school headteacher and finally their secondary guidance teacher.

What this legislation does not do is give any professional greater powers to intervene in family life. It neither expands nor decreases the power or duty to intervene on welfare concerns. All that is changing is the structure of child protection within our public services.

This bill will not effect most young people but those it will effect are those most often let down by our system. Homeless and LGBTI youths, those in care and those who care for others, BAME, the children of travellers, those suffering from mental illness, or coping with sexual or physical abuse.

How often do we hear of cases of vulnerable children and young people being let down by the cracks in our system? I for one will do everything in my power to make sure that we have a joined up approach rather than our health, education and social services operating in destructive silos and letting down the most at risk in society.

This legislation isn’t a magic bullet. There are some concerns around cost implications and personally I’d rather the legislation stopped at sixteen rather than eighteen. So my plea to fellow Liberal Democrats is if you’re going to criticise this bill do so on a factual basis and do not give credence to yet another Daily Mail scare story.

* Euan Davidson is Co-President of Liberal Youth Scotland.

Latest Greek referendum polls

Jul. 4th, 2015 11:29 am
[syndicated profile] uk_polling_report_feed

Posted by Anthony Wells

Straight after the Greek referendum was announced actual polling evidence seemed quite light, but there has now been the expected rush in polling. Polls from a handful of different companies are all painting a consistent picture of YES and NO being neck and neck. In fieldwork conducted on Monday and Tuesday there was still a small lead for NO, but across all the polls conducted in the last couple of days the position has been almost a dead heat.

The most recent polls are below:

Metron/Parapolitik (Thurs-Fri) – YES 46%, NO 47% (No ahead by 1%)
GPO/Mega TV (Wed-Fri) – YES 44.1%, NO 43.7% (Yes ahead by 0.4%)
Alco/Proto Thema (Wed-Fri) – YES 41.7%, NO 41.1% (Yes ahead by 0.6%)
Ipsos (Tues-Fri) – YES 44%, NO 43% (Yes ahead by 1%)
Uni of Macedonia/Bloomberg (Thurs) – YES 42.5%, NO 43% (No ahead by 0.5%)

In the week we also had the monthly ComRes/Daily Mail poll. Latest voting intention figures are CON 41%, LAB 29%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 10%, GRN 5%. Tabs are here.

Do You Want Some REAL Fireworks?

Jul. 4th, 2015 11:00 am
[syndicated profile] badastronomy_feed

Posted by Phil Plait

Today is the Fourth of July, a national holiday in the US where we celebrate the signing of the Declaration Of Independence (we didn’t actually win our independence until 1783, depending on how you look at it).

It’s traditional to celebrate with fireworks, which I’ve always enjoyed (though some people are making the case that we should be aware of people (and pets) who don’t). But as an astronomer, my idea of fireworks is maybe somewhat more expansive than most folks…

Like, the explosion of an entire star. Called a supernova, they’re among the most violent events the Universe has to offer. The amount of energy they emit can be equal to the total amount of energy the Sun emits over its entire lifetime. The closest example is the Crab Nebula, seen above. Want a fun little bit of cosmic trivia to astound your friends? The light from this explosion reached Earth in the year 1054… on July 4.

Anyway, the good news is that these ridiculously huge events tend to happen very far away. But what if one were a lot closer? Well, if it got close enough, we’d be in trouble. I wrote a chapter in my book Death from the Skies! about that.

But I also talked to science communicator Rose Eveleth about what would happen if a supernova were too close to comfort for her podcast Meanwhile In the Future. Also appearing is my friend and astrophysicist Katie Mack.

That was fun. She starts off each episode with a little vignette talking about some event in the future, then uses that as a springboard to talk about the science of an event. Clever.

I wrote more about the Crab in a recent post, and it turned out to be a little more poetic than I expected. But hopefully, it’ll give you an impression of the cosmic forces out there, ones which craft the Universe we live in.

If you’re celebrating July 4th today, have fun! But remember, have some perspective. The fireworks you’re watching could be a lot, lot bigger.

Facepalm with Caroline Lucas

Jul. 4th, 2015 11:10 am
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

GIQE could contribute to strengthening the UK economy via a carefully costed, nationwide programme to train and employ a ‘carbon army’. This army would be at the frontline of the fight against cold homes by making all of the UK’s 30 million buildings energy efficient, and, where feasible, fitted with solar panels. This would, in the first instance, dramatically reduce energy bills and fuel poverty, whilst also cutting greenhouse gas emission and cutting current dependence on imported energy.

How does putting in a more expensive method of energy generation reduce fuel poverty?

[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

Eyes in the Sky - Radiolab podcast

Ross McNutt has a superpower — he can zoom in on everyday life, then rewind and fast-forward to solve crimes in a shutter-flash. But should he?

The tensions between arguments for privacy and for security often keep campaigners for civil liberties busy. The latest edition of the Radiolab podcast from the US has a great piece of coverage of what may well be the next flashpoint in such debates: permanent aerial surveillance of cities.

The technology in question is both scary and impressive, even involving a little bit of ‘time travel’. By taking and keeping large volumes of photos, not only can events be spotted but they can then be traced back or forward in time, such as to see where a suspicious van came from and where it then went to.

Well worth a listen – and note the reference near the end to a proposal to use this technology in London.

[personal profile] naraht
Last weekend [personal profile] lilliburlero came to Oxford on their way from East Anglia to Aberdeen. Perhaps "on their way" is not quite accurate. Any friend who is willing to take the X5 bus to come to see you is a friend indeed.

[personal profile] lilliburlero arrived around lunchtime and, after going to drop off luggage at the hostel, we met up with [personal profile] nineveh_uk. Looking for outdoor places to have lunch, we went over to the Vaults at the University Church, but central Oxford was absolutely heaving with tourists. So we decided to escape to points north instead.

We had a lovely lunch at the Gardeners Arms in Jericho, ate their veggie burgers, and spent the afternoon in the back garden. Being under a plum tree, the table had all sorts of interesting little creepy-crawlies on it, but they didn't seem to dampen the discussion. Late afternoon we decamped to have a look around the old John Radcliffe, where Mary Renault once worked. It's been heavily but sympathetically modernised since - we wandered around the humanities common room in the basement trying to imagine surgical theatres and partitioned administrative offices trying to imagine a hospital ward. I should have done a bit of advanced research! But the architecture is lovely and intact, and the boards in the main foyer recording the hospital benefactors are still there.

By this point it still seemed a bit too early for dinner, so we went for more drinks at the Duke of Cambridge, where [personal profile] lilliburlero ended up with the largest stick of celery I've ever seen in a Bloody Mary. Finally to Al Shami for dinner, where we ended up with quite a spread as well as an interesting bottle of Lebanese white wine from Chateau Musar. Our day out concluded around nine hours after it started, at 10.30pm. I was pretty tired but would probably have happily gone on if [personal profile] lilliburlero hadn't needed to catch a coach at an uncivilised hour the following morning.

I'd met [personal profile] lilliburlero once in person, and have been seeing [personal profile] nineveh_uk regularly since moving back to Oxford, but they hadn't met one another before. We made a very congenial group, which pleased but didn't surprise me. On reflection I think I must have talked people's ears off about Mary Renault but they may also have been encouraging me. We ranged across the usual fannish topics - I had a list of new fic ideas as long as my arm, then promptly forgot them - but only got onto Antonia Forest right at the end, which was a shame. Maybe for next time? I'm sure there'll be a next time.


Then this Wednesday, which was not only the hottest day of the year to date but the hottest day in about a decade (around 33C/92F), I went to have dinner with [personal profile] jae, who was in London for one night only. Was rather glad for the excuse to spend two hours on the air-conditioned Oxford Tube, but the trains on the Central line were utterly boiling.

At Exmouth Market everyone seemed to be enjoying the summery evening. [personal profile] jae both introduced me, and extraordinarily kindly treated me to, dinner at Moro. More Lebanese food, which I wasn't sorry about at all! (Though I'm afraid I made myself sound like an expert on eastern Mediterranean food, which I'm not.) The bread is just as nice as Nigel Slater says, the lamb was extraordinarily thin and tender, and the rosewater and cardamom ice cream was lovely. All in a very relaxed atmosphere - and cool as well...

[personal profile] jae and I had no initial awkwardness of meeting. We talked continuously for two hours, were gently encouraged to make way for the next reservation, and went to the nearby park to keep talking. We discussed the sadness of being in fandoms of one (she was, I think, hoping that I would have useful revelations on how to build fandoms out of nothingness, but I'm afraid I don't), the state of the Yuletide plans, the joys of using travel for fannish research, language learning, and how difficult it is to find good meta nowadays. I promised her one meta post on the subject of her choice in exchange for dinner (probably the exchange rate ought to be higher!) so, [personal profile] jae, please let me know what you'd like!

Not sure when the next fannish meeting will be, but if you find yourself in the area, let me know! I've also promised [personal profile] jae an insider's tour of Oxford when she next visits.


In other news I've managed to make an appointment for a haircut at Barberette in London. I've had short hair for quite a while and have spent a good portion of that time longing for interesting short hair, while neither knowing exactly what to ask for nor having any confidence that a random Oxford salon would be the place to ask for it.

I suspect I was inspired by renewed acquaintance with [personal profile] lilliburlero's excellent topknot, which sets a standard for cool haircuts. Not that I could pull it off. Before I go I must spend some time perusing their Instagram. It'll be an experience anyway!

SLF Conference – The Tweets #1

Jul. 4th, 2015 10:09 am
[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Caron Lindsay

The Social Liberal Forum is having its annual conference today with the theme of Rebooting Liberalism. It’s being held at the Amnesty HQ in London, so at this point, after the awful news this week about surveillance, we should probably say that we hope our friends at GCHQ enjoy the proceedings. The event sold out some weeks ago. Our own Mary Reid has been very involved in the organisation. SLF Conference is always lively, interesting and really makes you think.

The agenda looks brilliant.

Claire Tyler will give the William Beveridge Memorial Lecture. Julian Huppert and Bridget Fox will revisit Liberty,  Prateek Buch and Naomi Smith will tackle Equality, and Cllr Liz Green will focus on Community with Michael Meadowcroft.  Chris Nicholson will be drawing on his experience as a SpAd in a session on Reforming Government with Daisy CooperMark Pack and Party President Sal Brinton will be asking ‘How do we rebuild the Liberal Democrats?’, while David Howarth will discuss political pluralism with Sue Gossfrom Compass and academic Tom Spencer. 

In addition, people attending the conference will be voting in advance on the topics for four round table discussions, there will be fringe meeting on Positive Money plus a Youth meet-up.

The day will conclude with a Leadership Hustings with Tim Farron and Norman Lamb.

I am very sad not to be there, but I have asked everyone to tweet loads so I can keep an eye on what’s going on, and I’ll put up a selection of the most interesting tweets throughout the day.

You can also watch the live stream which is a bit erratic, but great to have:

I would probably have embarrassed myself by bawling during the one minute applause for Charles Kennedy – and there’s already news of a new award in his memory. Here’s a selection of the early tweets:

Claire Tyler’s Beveridge Lecture – Wellbeing, a modern take on Beveridge


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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