Daily Archives: 9 November 2006

The poor widdle firework

From the Guardian:

A spokeswoman for the North East Ambulance Service said: “We received a call stating there was a male who had a firework in his bottom and it was bleeding.”

I didn’t even know fireworks could bleed.

Later on in the article, a spokesperson from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents described the incident as ‘unfortunate’. Unfortunate for the bloke in question maybe, but a ringing victory for the genepool, surely?

Poppies

The white poppy raises its annual slow news day head. Personally I think this is self-righteousness gone loopy. Yes, of course peace is a Good Thing. But remembrance is a day to pay homage to those people who, for better or worse, have been killed in war in our names. Wear your white poppy on World Peace Day – don’t hijack somebody else’s day.

The real issue regarding red poppies as far as I’m concerned is how come they’re still so, well, primitive. Since I was a child, the plastic poppy has undergone two innovations: firstly they’ve added a little clip to make it slightly harder for the thing to slip off, and secondly they’ve added a green paper leaf. Fundamentally, the things still fall off at the drop of the hat thanks to the totally impractical pin you attach to your clothing and are only really practical for certain modes of dress (e.g. jeans. a hoodie and a tshirt)

At the very least, why can’t poppy sellers offer safety pins? Even better, couldn’t they also sell badges?

I’m not asking for the British Legion to turn remembrance Sunday into the equivalent of Red Nose Day, but one or two sops to modernity would probably help them immensely.

Is the A-list really not working?

Some Lib Dem bloggers have been very keen to crow about the reported ‘failure’ of the Tory A-list at attracting ethnic minority candidates. Personally, I’m not so sure we should be quite so triumphalist.

According to the statistics published in the Telegraph today, of the winnable Tory seats that have selected thus far, 5% of candidates have been BME and 39% have been women. This compares to an 8% UK BME population and 51% women. Clearly it isn’t parity, but it is undoubtably progress. And as these are candidates in a party that is resurgent, as opposed to Labour women and BME candidates, they have a real chance of becoming MPs. By contrast, Labour’s all women shortlist policy is liable to barely scratch the surface at the next election as they lose seats regardless of the ethnicity or gender of their candidates.

What the Tory experience has shown is something that some of us in the Lib Dems have known for a long time. For all the anecdotal horror stories about candidates being discriminated against, the real problem is a lack of candidates. Just like white men, some women and BME PPCs are excellent and some are awful. The Lib Dem experience is that, broadly speaking, they get selected in proportion to the total number of approved candidates we have at the time. The problem – which the upper echelons in the Lib Dems are completely disinterested in – is finding and getting more candidates from diverse backgrounds approved. The A-list has done a very good job at artificially narrowing the field simply by knocking 70% of while male candidates off the top list. This approach isn’t ideal as far as I’m concerned, but at least it is tackling the problem at source, unlike most other forms of positive discrimination.

So the fact that Ali Miraj feels discriminated against matters far less to me than the number of BME Tory candidates who eventually get elected. The jury is still out, but the numbers of candidates selected do suggest that progress is being made. Lib Dems should hold their tongues until we have something more tangible to shout about ourselves.