Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Is this respect?

Does anyone know what purpose the Labour conference actually serves anymore?
It used to be a place where there was debate, argument and votes. But all dissent is being quashed, even when it comes from an 80+ old man, who has been a member for 37 years.
At least the Lib Dems actually decide and set policy at their conference. Unlike the other two parties. The Tories week in Blackpool is set to be a series of leadership hustings. ZZzzzzzzzzz. Hopefully they'll see sense, elect Davies and continue down the electoral spiral. And to think that the Tory membership almost voted away its right to one member one vote. Good to see democracy alive and kicking.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

MPs Photo Call

Photo Call
Originally uploaded by johnhemming.
This photo by John Hemming MP sums up all that was awful about the Winter Gardens: the dreadful lighting. To be slightly fair, all the bad lighting wasn't just in the WG, but also in the fringe meeting rooms of the Imperial Hotel as well.
PS I can be seen just to the left of the TV light

Friday, September 23, 2005

Blackpool photo gallery

Just been browsing around and realised that there was actually some use made of our conference photos by the party.
My personal favourite is my shot of CK sat on the tram. Although also got a good one of him through a window, with the Big One reflected in it.

Steve Bell work of genius

Steve Bell's work of genius from today's grauniad.
For the record Steve had three cartoons published this year, which I think is more than ever before.
Unfortunately their picture editor had a mare with a series of vox pop: Steve Webb has Tim Farron's photo, David Law's becomes Steve Webb, and Cllr Arnie Gibbons appears as someone entirely random...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

blackpool blogging

Am finally back from glorious blackpool.
The week started poorly for me: after passing Preston, I realised I'd left my pass and hotel details in Birmingham after rushing to throw bits in my bags early on Saturday morning. The pass was easily replaced (at the not insignificant cost of £25!) by the excellent people on registration. The tricky part was remembering which of the several hundred hotels and guest houses I'd booked for myself...
Fortunately I'd multimapped the location, so knew the general location and that it was close to a PO and a couple of churches. I then twigged that the name had a Brum connection: The Dudley. Turned out to be quite delightful little hotel with a friendly couple running it. (You'll get a better room rate by phoning direct than through the web.) It was nicely situated halfway between the Imperial and the Winter Gardens.
As for conference itself, I spent most of it doing photos. In the morning there was a daily photo-op with CK doing something interesting (arriving in Blackpool, walking along the front, meeting trainee mechanics, popping into the creche, and riding a tram). Then along to various fringe meetings at lunch and in the evening to get shots of various MPs and other speakers. Claire Raynor popped along for an afternoon, so spent an hour with her (really nice lady, and had something to say to everyone).
There are many aspects to the party conferences, and Neil Fawcett sums them up quite nicely.
The last night of conference is the one where most delegates get quite tipsy. This year was no exception... Looking scruffy and having a big camera normally means you can blag into any event, so I started at the Bloomberg international reception, lots of big names and party bigwigs. Then into the ERS "whiskey tasting", a traditional annual conference event. Then a quick break to pop into the NUT fish & chip supper, before the press reception with possibly the most free booze in any event I've been to. The press event was good and had a good chat with Martin Rickett (PA) and Paul Glover (Telegraph) about politics and photography. Suffice to say I've been a little bit tender today.

Friday, September 16, 2005

off to the seaside...

Its party conference week coming up, so I may or may not be blogging from sunny Blackpool. (The last time I was in Blackpool was for an NUS conference. Woke up one morning to discover the prom was covered in snow, and it was mid-April.)
Not sure which debates I'll be going to, as I'm doing photos for the party, along with photographic partners Alex & Jade. But looking at my schedule should be getting some excellent training.
This will be my fourth autumn conference, and really looking fwd to it, as its a chance to meet up with friends who have been working all over the country towards the GE.
But being the 4th time means that I've learnt much about conference going and finding the best fringe meetings for free food & drink...

Back to back meetings

The first two weeks of September have involved almost every evening with some form of meeting, as well as a handful of day time events, so not much time to blog ATM.
Last week we looked at the draft of the Electoral Matters scrutiny report. I got dropped into this at quite a late stage, but have been able to quickly engage with the scrutiny - started off after the postal vote fraud in Aston/Bordesley Green in June 2004, then suspended while the election court considered the matter. Reconvened after the court judgement, but altered focus to look at election administration in the city. I obviously fitted in quite well to this review as I was barely present for my second meeting before being accused of being an elections geek. So finally recognised after organising my first Student Union election 10 years ago. (R.I.P. UMIST Students' Union).
Full Council was held this week, with a change to the structure of the meeting.
Not sure all aspects of it worked. The "Issues of the Day", weren't all necessarily truely issues of the day, but spun to make it 30mins of soapbox politics. And instead of being a debate, with only one speech in response, it was generally given to the relevant cabinet member. How the order of the Issues is determined, or how Issues are rejected if too many to fit in the 30mins is hazy.
Labour took the chance to throw out a Lib Dem motion of support for Ken Livingston. It really related to Standards, and Standards board issues. Why was it that no elected members from BCC were at the recent conference (held in the ICC) on Standards issues?
The restructuring of the meeting also had the effect that the tasty "political bits" occured right at the end of the meeting, hours after the press had called it a day and gone to right their copy/go to the pub.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Its now the 2nd weekend in September, and having just driven around parts of Selly Oak, have seen at least two sets of kids playing cricket on some of the green spaces around.
This inspiration to go out and play is surely because they have just seen England take a hatful Australian wickets on "free-to-air" Channel4. And next year they wont be able to be inspired by Freddie, Straussy and Gilo unless they are lucky enough to have Sky subscriptions.
We need to campaign to keep cricket free.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Am starting to work my way through the first series. Its really difficult to break away from it, and could imagine being really frustrated watching it weekly as there are cliff hangers at the end of each episode!
Its interesting to see JJ Abrams work before Lost.
Each episode ticks over at a cracking pace. Helped by the atmospheric beat driven background music. This is replicated in Lost. I presume in both shows it was programmed by Abrams himself.
Of course enjoying Alias is nothing to do with Jennifer Garner being quite hot in a multi-lingual, kung-fu kick-ass way.

Friday, September 09, 2005

iPAQ test

just testing a pocket pc app for blogging (pocket blogger).
am finding text entry stil quicker with the stylus keyboard than trying to use Graffiti ...

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Le Tour de Britain

Managed to see the last hour of the time trial through the streets of Birmingham today. Well, when I say "see", you don't get to see an awful lot during a time trail.
I found a nice place to watch, at the end of Broad St at the Paradise Circus junction. Having seen the route, I thought that it would be where the photogs would be, and low and behold a number of them were there. So jumped over the barrier, found a perch and pulled out my 1D2 and the 300f4.
You got a real sense of speed at this corner, and you could spot the riders who were just a little nervous of the tight corner. The best/fastest didn't touch their brakes, even though they did an average of about 48kph over the course.
Will put up some photos later

Friday, September 02, 2005

Anthony Wilson: bit of a $£%*

Watched 24hr Party People DVD last night, but with Tony Wilson's commentary track on. Have only met the guy once (he was hosting a big drugs debate at Manchester Town Hall), and he was highly articulate and well informed (and on the evidence of the film, he certainly should be...) of the issues.
But, he has an ego the size of Granada studios, and the film and his commentary do nothing to dispel that.
Despite the ego, he can lay claim to having nutured some of the best bands and musicians from Manchester over the last 20+ years. Was surprised to learn that The Doves can be linked back through to Joy Division (although shouldn't be that surprised as Doves are mancunian as well).
Love the film as it has some great anachronisms and goofs (satellite dishs can be seen during scenes set in the 70s, and the number of times the direction of travel changes while going along the mancy way gets silly).

gadget tastic

I've now inherited my boss's iPAQ (which was my boss's boss). Its only a H3970, but comes with built in bluetooth (no wifi). Have been impressed by the ease of setup and installation, even after I started to follow the instructions, instead of just plugging things in and inserting CDs.
Its not the same as a Blackberry (which the council offers to all members, and is being used by management at the University), as you don't have the same instant connectivity. But it does mean that I can now keep my 3 diaries in 1 place, and allow for making arrangements to fit in with all of them.
The only downside is that it is running Win Mob 2002, so doesn't have built in SMS abilities. Although I have managed to setup my mobile's GPRS, and bluetooth, so I can browse while mobile from the PDA. (OK, that took an evening to sort out...)