Control orders: Labour break their word, again

I couldn’t help thinking, as Blair announced the beginning of a phased withdrawal from Iraq (too little, too late and too slow – but better than nothing) that this was two finger to Brown. For had Brown’s 100 days started with an announcement of withdrawal he would have had instant double-bounce. Sooooooo – that explains the timing!

Sponsored (which means basically booked the room) for the Centre Forum debate ‘Security versus Liberty’ where Nick Clegg (Home Affairs No 1) was able to trail our opposition to the extension of control orders before the debate tomorrow.

When introduced in 2005 as an emergency – the Government promised (oh when will I learn) that they would have a proper review of them one year later. One year later they didn’t review them – but extended them with the promise of a review one year on. One year on they didn’t review them – they just wanted to extend them.

So – we are going to stamp our feet about this and vote against. They will still win – of course – they have a majority. But it is wrong to incarcerate people without trial without making all best efforts to bring them to trial whenever practical. And there’s much more the Government could and should be doing rather than simply falling back on the easy option of locking people up without having to prove their case against them in a proper court case. Examples of what they could be doing include allowing phone-tap and other intercept evidence to be used in court and also the use of questioning after people have been charged.

Centre Forum conference on the Middle East

I was going to attend a conference on the Middle East on 4th November held by the LibDem think tank – Centre Forum. Unfortunately that now clashes with the Climate Change march which I really want to go on – but I think it will be a an exceptional conference- so many interesting speakers being flown in specially. I might pitch up there after the march if there is any conference left. If you want details see www.centreforum.org/middle_east.htm

Also they have launched a new site (which includes a blog roll and included my blog too!) so if you want to look at that have a look at (www.freethink.org) which was launched at the Lib Dem Blogger Awards which I presented at the party’s Brighton conference.

My future

Wednesday evening sees my reselection for the seat of Hornsey & Wood Green. Happily – the motion passed unanimously. My lot know a work-horse when they see one!

We had the local party’s AGM on the same evening – and it was really well-attended, with a new Tottenham Branch also formed, following the election of our first councilors in the seat in May (and moving back up to second place in the Parliamentary seat in 2005). Hopefully we will replicate our success in Hornsey & Wood Green in Tottenham.

The second half of the evening was political debate. Paul Marshall, who runs the Centre Forum think tank came to discuss his book Britain after Blair, in which I wrote a chapter on race relations. Given that Haringey is one of the most multi-cultural areas in the country – and all the debate about veils at the moment – we had a pretty lively evening on both race and Blair!

Charles Kennedy's speech and my latest video diary

Tuesday was the big day at conference! Would Ming’s leadership be dented by defeat? That was the media’s obsession. In the event – Lib Dems had a red letter day. Our big idea – switching taxation from the person to pollution passed without amendment. Now both Labour and Tory will have to come onto our territory if they are really going to walk the talk – as opposed to their current hot air.

Later Charles made the traditional speech given to leaders of our party. He received a standing ovation on coming and going – and went for a Liberal drum-beating approach. He was never going to come on as an avenging angel – despite what the media probably hoped for. He wasn’t out to upstage Ming. It was just good solid stuff.

The evening was the piece de resistance! The book – Britain after Blair was launched and five of us who have written chapters were there to entice people to buy it. My chapter is about race relations. Blair’s legacy is worsening race relations. The negative impact of our American inspired foreign policy is clear in the growing fear of Muslims and consequent growing divisions in our communities. We are also more segregated than when Blair came to power – both residentially and socially – and this incendiary neglect of deprivation and isolation can lead to awful outcomes where communities have become extreme in their segregation – look at the race riots that were sparked in France and Holland because they were simply left to fester. But you’ll have to buy the book to not only know what proposals I argue for but also what the other 13 MPs say as well as a sensational audit of the country in Britain after Blair!Published by Centre Forum.

Today (Wednesday) – started with my usual (now) video diary – with another TV crew filming me filming my diary. The media love this stuff at the moment! You can watch it here:

http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=8491896411529032552&hl=en-GB

Worse than having a baby

Continue to wrestle with final rewrite of edits on my chapter for forthcoming Centre Forum book Britain after Blair. It’s worse than having a baby!

Today’s emergency is the granting of planning permission to a backland site in Crouch End. Local residents, local Cllr Dave Winskill, myself and others have long campaigned against this sort of cramming development that does nothing to add to our social housing stock and everything to add to developers’ profits. However, I get a desperate email from the residents’ group to telephone them to try and get the permission certificate stopped on the basis of the proper procedures not being followed when the Planning Committee considered the application.

The residents , angry at the conduct of the meeting, want me to get the Chief Executive to delay the Permission Certificate pending an inquiry into whether these transgressions have gone as far as to open Haringey Council up to judicial review. I suspect they have and that there are grounds for judicial review. I agree with the residents. To my mind it would simply be much better to refer the decision back to Planning Committee to consider properly under proper procedures before having to go through such a lengthy and probably costly process. I make my request to Dr Donovan (Haringey CE) who promises me she is looking into it and will get back to me.