Nick v Nigel: What happens next…

I know everyone’s done one of these already, but I thought I’d give it a go…

On the whole, I thought Nick Clegg did a great job against Nigel Farage – but then, that’s because I’m someone who tries to base decisions on facts and figures, and almost his whole hour was focussed on providing these.

However, that’s not normal.

Stats make people switch off – unless they are funny (29m Bulgarians and Romanians, anyone?) – and there are only so many times people can be impressed by your ability to remember a person’s name.

One of Nick’s biggest problems was how he spent a lot of time saying how great the EU was – and not really addressing the fact it’s also pretty awful in places, too.

I’m as ardent a Europhile as the next person, but if you don’t tackle the genuine concerns people have about the EU, you don’t have any hope of true engagement.

So yes – say how brilliant the European Arrest Warrant is; how trade negotiations and deals are an asset – but also point out how you’d make everything better.

We have a record of reform and achievement, so maybe it’s time for Nick to treat the next debate like a European doorstepping.

Point out UKIP are a party who want to take the UK out of Europe, but only hold elected positions of power in the European Parliament.

Point out how Nigel Farage has not tabled an amendment since 2008, missing numerous chances to take powers AWAY from Europe.

Point out while Lib Dems are campaigning for a single seat parliament, better fishing regulations, standardised roaming charges – Nigel Farage is being paid to do nothing.

If Europe is so all-powerful, why repeatedly spurn the chance to tackle the issues at the source?

And this is by no means a personal attack on Farage, but the inaction and hypocrisy of a party that are so concerned about the EU’s influence over our country that they sit back and watch it all happen.

He won’t do it, of course, since Nick’s too nice a guy and has already set out his stall, but it’d be nice.

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The Curious Collection of Lib Dem Music Videos

Over the years, I’ve been collecting weird videos – namely, videos focused on Lib Dem MPs. I didn’t mean to, but after I noticed the first few during the “Election Song Contest 2010″, they just kept coming.

So, below, are the ones that I have to hand – I’m sure there are more and, if you have some, feel free to post them in the comments below!

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We got it wrong on Syria

Today our parliament, by the slimmest of margins, voted against intervention in Syria as the BBC showed footage of alleged napalm-like attacks on schools.

Some are saying it was a good day for democracy, but it really wasn’t.

The Govt recalled parliament because it wanted to act on the knowledge chemical weapons were used it Syria, that much is obvious. However, after consulting others and talks with the opposition, it is clear the motion was watered down – to state we were to wait for the UN reports; to say there’d be a vote on military action should it come to that.

So, today’s motion? Was more a message, to say we would not stand by and watch  country commit war crimes against its own people.

Why, then, did Labour table an amendment that was practically the same as the motion and vote against the Govt?

I am, mostly, against intervention. And I have no problem with people suggesting non-military solutions or voting against something they disagree with – but to see MPs vote both ways just because of the name at the top of the paper? Not cool.

And to see MPs jeering at the vote result, talking about leadership challenges, of victories for their leader? It sickens me. There are people dying at the hands of their own government and our parliament resorted to turning a vote on how we could help them into a party political slanging match.

Across both votes the majority, in principle, were for action based on evidence. And now they’ve somehow managed to turn that into the result we have.

Now what? Do we not get a second debate and vote, because the first failed? Do we table another motion on how to help the Syrian people & condemn a tyrannous regime? How long do we have to wait until we DO something – another two years?

The problem isn’t necessarily the result, more how it was reached – and reacted to.

So no, today wasn’t a good day for parliament, even if the outcome was one you hoped for; it was a lesson in how to be a top-class dick.

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Upsubbing to GCHQ

Remember when you were a kid, and you found a snail, and as you went to lick it one of your (nicer) brothers might’ve shouted: “Don’t do that! It’ll make you sick!”

And so you put it down and carried on eating grass instead.

This is what the Government are doing right now, only the snail is not really a snail; it’s the hard drives from the Guardian. And your big brother? GCHQ.

In both cases, the subjects are doing what we’re all taught to do; listen to your elders, respect experience, acknowledge you are not the expert on everything.

Throw words like ‘terror’, ‘threat’ and ‘national security’ at any Govt and they will immediately be on high alert, ready to defer to anyone who knows more about the particular threat of the day.

That doesn’t mean we should support, excuse or condone the destruction of data, more we should understand that the sole reliance on ‘experts’ is not always a good thing.

“Destroy the hard drives but keep reporting” seems like a logical compromise from the likes of Clegg when you remember he is both tech-illiterate and listening to the advice of the security services.

The Cabinet is mostly made up of 40-something white men who think having an iPad means they are in-the-know about technological advances. In the last 10 years, technology has advanced quicker than it probably did throughout the rest of their lifetime, and they are ill-equipped to dealing with the adaptations – you need only look at the responses to social media issues to see it’s an all-encompassing illiteracy.

There would be difficulties in having ‘independent’ advisers on these sorts of instances, of course, but someone within the Govt (and independent of the security services) who understands even the basics of data transfers, hard drives, encryption etc really wouldn’t go amiss.

I’ll admit, there is a part of me that agrees data in the wrong hands should be destroyed – would you want the deaths of people on your conscience if it landed in the laps of the ‘bad guys’ because you forgot to turn WiFi off before writing up your story?

It has to be said, though, I can’t really imagine the Guardian would be stupid enough to hook up hard drives containing sensitive data to an internet connection, never mind an unsecure one. Journalists have been doing this longer than most have been MPs.

But as Rusbridger said, it was not the only copy – so it still exists elsewhere. And if it still exists, then what was the point? My guess would be GCHQ showing some muscle and trying to limit the amount of leaks that could happen. But mostly muscle.

And it’s that, rather than the actual destruction, that should worry us most.

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Liberal Youth Elections 2013

So, I’ve cast my votes in the Liberal Youth elections. Here’s who I went for, and why.

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