Andrew Allison

Archive for 2008|Yearly archive page

Updating blogroll

In Uncategorized on January 5, 2008 at 12:41 pm

I will be updating my blogroll shortly. If you link to me and I have overlooked you, please e-mail me and I will add you.

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Iowa Caucus

In Election 2008, US president on January 5, 2008 at 12:18 pm

Yesterday, I made a prediction about the US Presidential Election. I said the misguided Democrats would go for Hillary. I want to expand on this.

The win in Iowa for Barack Obama is significant. Thanks to Iain Dale, I discovered that there are less than 5% non-white voters in the state, and in a country where race still dominates the agenda, Obama couldn’t have had a better start.

I have said before that Clinton is a divisive figure is US politics. She certainly doesn’t have the charm of her husband, but with his support, backing and appeal, I think she will mount a revival in her fortunes. Without Bill, she is going nowhere. With Bill, she will win the nomination. For me, it’s a simple as that.

Momentum is also with John McCain and I think he will keep it. Voters want a safe pair of hands in the White House, and McCain is certainly that. To many in the US, Giuliani is perceived as a New York man, and not a man for America.

So for me, it will be Clinton and McCain slugging it out later this year, and the latter will be inaugurated in January 2009.

Blogpower Resignation

In Uncategorized on January 5, 2008 at 10:17 am

It is with regret that I have tendered my resignation from Blogpower. I posted yesterday about ethics and integrity in blogging. Since then James Higham has had his moderator status revoked, sending him a clear message that he is not welcome in any admin role; even though recently the admins were happy for him to continue in an archivist role.

Blogpower does not resemble the group I joined over a year ago. It has saddened me the way it has developed.

NHS Shame

In Campaigns, NHS on January 5, 2008 at 9:44 am

Tony Sharp has highlighted the case of Joan Hughes, a cancer patient let down by the NHS. Read about it here and sign the Downing Street petition by clicking here.

Iowa Caucus

In Presidential Election, US on January 4, 2008 at 5:56 pm

The results of Iowa caucus have been revealed. This is just the first step and history tells us the result here is not the final result.

I still think misguided Democrats will nominate Hilary. The Republicans will either go for Rudi or McCain. Either one of them will beat Hilary. They are my predictions.

Ethical Blogging – my response

In ehtical blogging, James Higham on January 4, 2008 at 4:46 pm

There are many journalists who regard bloggers as – at best – second class writers. I can see where they are coming from on one hand, but on the other hand, I know they feel threatened.

There are many people who like the idea that their ramblings can be seen by a wider audience. You can publish anything you like and promote yourself. It is an exercise in vanity. It doesn’t matter how badly you write; it doesn’t matter if what you say is abusive or incorrect; you have managed to engage – if you want to call it that – with others, who may be taken in by what you say. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and if you want to say something that is libelous, then it is up to you, and you have to pay the price if any action is taken against you.

Journalists feel threatened by bloggers who write well and are popular. They don’t like the fact an ordinary person who has insight and who researches well can reach an audience and in many ways influence public opinion. They also feel that if they ‘nip blogging in the bud’, they can remove the threat to their business. Unfortunately for them, they are too late. The way we communicate in the 21st Century is completely different to times past.

James Higham has written about the need for ethical blogging; and he is right. Those bloggers who think scurrilous blogs will just die away are missing the point. There has to be standards and unfortunately those standards are not being met. Just because anyone has the right to express their opinions doesn’t mean I have to promote them. In Blogpower I am doing just that. Too many people are hiding behind their right to free speech and are not accepting their responsibilities; the responsibilities of presenting their case without the need for gratuitous abuse. They are not researching their facts or they are simply copying off other blogs and presenting this as their own work. Plagiarism is something that will get you kicked out of university before you know it.

I appeal to everyone in Blogpower to realise that standards are more important than simply promoting the blogosphere. We have to take blogging to the next level, where bloggers are regarded as trusted opinion makers; where facts have been researched; people you can quote with confidence.

James’ suggestion is not snobby or unnecessary; far from it. If you are serious about blogging, read and digest what he has to say.

The cost of ‘filling up.’

In fuel costs, oil on January 3, 2008 at 8:46 pm

I filled my car up with diesel yesterday and paid £1.05 per litre. Also, yesterday, the price of crude oil rose to $100 a barrel for the first time.

I am not an economist, but I do know that when the cost of fuel is high, it puts inflationary pressure on the economy. I also know the chance of further reductions in interest rates are less likely as a result. I also know that the dollar has been weak against the pound for a few years now. Why is it then we have the highest fuel costs in western Europe?

I have said this before and will say it again: The government has to stop thinking about the short-term ringing of the cash registers at the Treasury and think of the long-term interests of the British economy. A reduction in fuel duty has to happen now; but I am not going to hold my breath.

How accountable is your Chief Constable?

In Democracy, Police on January 3, 2008 at 7:51 pm

How much does democracy mean to you? I don’t just mean electing MPs and councillors. I mean true democracy. Do you think it’s important?

I ask these questions in response to Sir Simon Milton, the Chairman of the Local Government Association. He thinks Town Halls should be able to hire and fire police chiefs. While his motives are genuine – I am sure he wants police chiefs to be more accountable – he is missing the point. Why shouldn’t we be able to hire and fire police chiefs? What is wrong with senior police officers putting their plans directly to the voters and let them decide? After all, Sir Iain Blair is quite happy to enter the political fray whenever he feels, but doesn’t have any accountability directly to the electorate.

Sir Simon’s remarks have outraged the police. The thought of accountability has sent a shiver down their spines. It is this predictable response that makes the case for directly elected police chiefs more compelling.

Sir Simon also wants a US-style FBI police force to take over big investigations and counter-terrorism, to free local officers on the beat. This I would agree with, just like we should have a Department for Homeland Security, as in the US. The police – again predictably – are against this too.

When Superintendent Ray Mallon took over control of Middlesbrough Police a few years ago, he brought in a zero-tolerance approach to crime; and it worked. When Middlesbrough was allowed to elect its own mayor, Ray Mallon – now no longer in the police force – stood as an independent and won. The people trusted him as he had proved himself. He stood again and was re-elected. What if a senior police officer stood on a platform of zero-tolerance in your area and came up with a plan to police your streets and make them safer? He may not win, but at least you would have the chance to elect him.

Therefore, in answer to my opening question, democracy means a lot to me and I want to see more of it. More directly elected mayors, directly elected police chiefs and why not have a meeting of parents at the local school and let them decide on who is going to be the next headteacher? I am not afraid of democracy, but those who are in power will tell you that they are better at making decisions for you. Don’t fall for it. They just want the power for themselves. Sharing has never been the strongest suit of politicians or bureaucrats.

No extra cash for Hull’s Roads

In Uncategorized on January 2, 2008 at 11:05 pm

If you ever drive though Hull, the one thing you will have to prepared for is a bumpy ride. The city’s streets are in a terrible state of repair. Roughly a quarter of the city is traffic calmed too. All in all, motor manufacturers should road test their cars here. The suspension will get a good test.

The government has a pot of £600 million set aside for road improvements for the next 25 years, through Private Finance Initiatives. If you live in York, Sheffield, Hounslow, Newcastle, Redbridge or the Isle of Wight, you are in luck. You may have to put up with road works for goodness knows how long, but you should be in for a smooth ride. Hull, on the other hand, will not receive a penny.

The city is in dire need of investment. The flooding last year only made things worse. The government will not reimburse Hull City Council properly for the costs they incurred during those floods and now they will not provide any extra cash for the road infrastructure either. The Leader of Hull City Council, Carl Minns, has described Hull as the forgotten city. It seems once again the city is going to be overlooked. The voters of the city have already given a resounding message to Labour at the ballot box, and I imagine at the local elections this May, Brown and Co will given another bloody nose.