Featherstone's horse close to death

Hunter is keeping a close eye on the Lib Dem leadership contest. Despite Lynne Featherstone declaring for fellow millionaire Chris Huhne, it appears that she has failed to convince any of her Haringey colleagues to do likewise. Having trailed through 350-odd names on the Huhne Facebook group, not a single Haringey activist or councillor appeared to be supporting him.

Cllr. Matt Davies has already come out for Nick Clegg (a few months ago he supported Fortismere's bid to become a foundation school - will he soon be joining us Conservatives?) His colleague, Ron Aitken, once described Matt as a "communist" - but he seems to be becoming something of an 'Orange Booker' to me!

Fiyaz Mughal, their doomed wannabe-Mayoral candidate and Noel Park councillor, also backs Clegg.

There are quite a few hotties backing Clegg - all the mingers are out in force for Huhne. A few people, in typical Lib Dem fashion, have declared for both candidates - no-wonder opposition parties accuse them of being all things to all people....

Abolish the PC post which pays more than the staff nurse (and some doctors, too!)

The University College London Hospital, in London, is advertising for a "Diversity and Equality Co-ordinator" - and he/she can expect to pocket up to £36,642.00 per annum working for just 36.6 hrs a week, yet, on the same page, a staff nurse at the same hospital will receive just £29,764.00 if she's lucky (the starting salary is just £22,999.00) working for 37.5 hours. How can this be right?

According to the job specification, the purpose of the first job is "To support the Head of Workforce (Diversity and Equality Lead) in providing specialist support on equality and human rights matters to enable the Trust to achieve implementation of equality and human rights legislation" - what the devil does this mean? Unlike the poor old staff nurse, the post has "no direct budgetary or staff management responsibilities".

Having been to the hospital on numerous occasions, Hunter can state that the UCLH already 'reflects' the make-up of the local population. If anything, white people are under-represented! But that isn't a problem for Hunter: he expects first-class treatment from hospital staff - their skin colour isn't an issue. Nor should it be for anyone else!

At a time when hospitals, UCHL included, are facing financial "challenges", this and similar posts should be abolished. And if the government require such jobs, they should immediately make changes in the law to do away with the – i.e. withdrawing from the European Human Rights Act – principally designed for chancers and the like.

When a hard-working staff nurse is paid less than some PC, pen-pushing busybody, you know you're living under a Socialist regime. It's time to bring back common sense to the NHS.

Why so shy, Monica?

Monica Whyte, a Haringey Lib Dem councillor, has, apparently, been selected as the Lib Dems' GLA candidate for Enfield and Haringey --- according to Enfield Lib Dems. She was selected on September 16 but her own Haringey branch has not put out a single press release to announce her candidature and help raise her profile. How strange! Nor, even more odd, is there a mention of her selection on her own website.

Hunter wonders if Lynne has ordered her to stay out of the limelight - having another, younger, model in all the photos could confuse the voters and make 'Brand Featherstone' look old hat?

Over here in Tottenham, the Fib Dums have ‘selected’ David Schmitz as their candidate . A little yellow bird tells me that would-be candidates weren't exactly falling over themselves for the honour of representing the good people of Tottenham! Surely Mr Schmitz wasn't the only candidate seeking nomination? But what does it matter? David Schmitz is a very sweet man and a 100% improvement on the Fib Dums last (execrable) candidate, who I hear has chosen to spend more time with his X-rays.

Conference pricks - Labour members barely ahead

Hunter has just received this email in his in-box - forwarded by a co-shooter who visited the Terrence Higgins Trust's stall at this year's Conservative Party conference. Makes interesting reading...

Labour tops condom quiz poll - but only just!

Thank you for stopping by THT's stand at the party conferences and taking part in our condom quiz. The results are now in and make for very interesting reading.

Results from the quiz, taken by 495 delegates, showed:

*Less than 1 in 5 Conservatives got all ten questions correct, compared to just under a third of Labour delegates
*A third of Conservatives thought condoms had holes in them that could allow HIV to pass through, compared to a quarter of Labour delegates
*1 in 5 Conservatives didn't know how to put a condom on properly, compared to around 1 in 6 Labour delegates
*1 in 5 delegates at both conferences thought that using two condoms at once ("double bagging") is safer than just using one.
*8 delegates thought condoms could be washed and re-used!

The full results are posted at the end of this email.

While we hope you enjoyed taking part, there is a serious message behind the quiz. When we put the same questions to 2200 university students they displayed an equally worrying lack of understanding of how condoms work and how to use them. We're concerned that, as comprehensive Sex and Relationships Education still isn't a compulsory part of the National Curriculum, too many young people are growing up without the information they need to protect themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Our young people currently have the worst sexual health and highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe.

THT are working with the Sex Education Forum (SEF) to ensure all young people's entitlement to good quality SRE. You can find out more about the issue on the SEF website or by reading our campaigning manifesto. You can also support the campaign on our e-campaigning website.

If you would like to receive updates on THT's campaigns on HIV and sexual health issues please send us an email to campaigns@tht.org.uk. We will never share your details with third parties.

If you would like to talk to us about your work or ours please email me at rowan.harvey@tht.org.uk.

Yours sincerely,

Rowan Harvey

Parliamentary and Campaigns Officer

Condom Quiz headlines:

495 delegates at this years' Labour and Conservative Autumn conferences took part in a 10 question quiz for THT (284 at Labour and 211 at Tory). We then compared their results with a longer quiz we ran with 2256 university students earlier in the year.
Overall only 24% of delegates got all 10 questions right - though Labour (30%) did significantly better than Conservatives (18%).

Despite this, the average scores for each party were very similar (8.64 out of 10 for Labour and 8.37 out of 10 for Conservatives) meaning that, while Labour got more top scores, they also got more low scores.

A quarter (26%) of Labour delegates thought latex condoms had holes in them that could allow HIV to pass through, compared to a third (33%) of Conservatives. This was still better than the university students, 36% of whom got this question wrong.
* 2% of Labour delegates and 5% of Conservatives didn't know that condoms have an expiry date.
* 16% (1 in 6) of Labour delegates didn't know how to put a condom on properly, compared to 22% (1 in 5) Conservatives. 13% of students got this wrong.
* Around 1 in 5 delegates (20%) at both conferences thought that using two condoms at once ("double bagging") is safer than just using one. It isn't, as the extra friction makes both condoms more likely to break. This was slightly worse than the university students, 16% of whom got this one wrong.
* Almost a third (30%) of delegates from both parties thought that thick condoms were safer than regular ones. 42% of students thought the same.
* 22% of Labour delegates and 26% of Conservatives would have used the wrong type of lubricant - oil based lubricant rots the rubber condoms are made from making them more likely to break. 11% of students got this wrong.
More Labour than Conservative delegates thought you had to be a certain age to buy condoms (4% Labour compared to 3% Conservatives). 6% of the students thought the same.
* 8 delegates (5 Conservative and 3 Labour) thought you could wash and reuse a condom. * 7 students thought the same.
* 16% of Labour and 18% of Conservatives thought that other methods of contraception apart from condoms could prevent STIs. This was better than the students, 23% of whom got this wrong.

If Clegg wins will Featherstone defect to Team Gordon?

Hunter notes that when asked, last week, whether she still felt she was in the right (political) party, Lynne Featherstone replied: "I am in my heart and soul a Liberal Democrat." Has no-one told her that the 'Liberal Democrats' are themselves a coalition party? They were formed by the union of two other parties, the Liberals and the Social Democrats less than twenty years ago, because those two parties _-with substantially different values - were both fed up with getting nowhere at election time.

Even today there is tension between the two wings of the 'Liberal Democrats', with Nick Clegg and others trying to drag the party in a Liberal direction, whilst Chris Huhne (and his cheerleader and fellow millionaire Lynne) are trying to drag it in a Social Democrat direction. 'Social Democracy' is just watered-down socialism in cuddlier wrapping to appeal to middle class voters. I suspect that Lynne would feel just as at home in 'New Labour' as in the 'Liberal Democrats'. The fact that she chose not to nail her colour's to a Labour mast when she decided in her 40's to take up politics and run for council, is more a reflection of the fact that Labour locally had proved themselves so spectacularly incompetent running the council and were clearly not a good long-term bet in Haringey.

If Nick Clegg and the Liberal wing succeed in capturing the Lib Dem leadership and setting a truly Liberal agenda, I wouldn't be surprised to see Lynne crossing the floor of the house and joining Team Gordon on the New Labour benches.

Update: Have just found the above picture. Little did poor Ming know that the MPs around him were sharpening their knives and plotting to stab him in the back - Featherstone included!

They want Blair back (surprised?)

Having browsed the various groups on Facebook today, I see that my little eco-warrior Emma Jones has joined a group, created by Nick Cohen of the Observer, called Bring Back Blair.

Emma is seen as being on the Left of the Labour Party (as are most who have joined the group), but even she wants Blair to return to Office. This is a huge slap in the face for Gordon. Hunter senses that ordinary Labour Party members are waking up to the fact that Broon is a loser - and a bottler! As I've said before, they must be spitting blood that he called off the election which Labour probably would have won.

Blair, for all his faults, won three historic general election victories. In politics, winning matters. So far, the new group has 50 members. Expect it to grow...

Senior London Lib Dem says being London Mayor is 'not about policy'

Dizzy has found a YouTube post by Chamali Fernando, a wannabe Lib Dem candidate for the London Mayoralty. Astonishing, she says being London Mayor is 'not about policy'. At least she's being honest. Lib Dem don't lead public opinion, they follow it. All Chamali Fernando has done is confirm our view that they are a party of hypocrites, charlatans and opportunists.

Muddled Green thinking and hypocrisy on the London Assembly

Much has been said in the blogsphere about Brown being a Bottler. Hunter was too busy enjoying a politics-free break in the country (see below) to comment on the bizarre decision. Labour candidates and MPs in marginal seats must be spitting blood! But, as I said, that's all old hat now.

Today, a press release arrived in my inbox from the GLA Conservatives. Tony Arbour, one of our LAMs, has exposed the Green Party, aka Livingtone's pet newts, for muddled hypocrisy. They wanted members of the London Assembly to FLY to Dublin on a jolly, sorry fact-finding mission, to learn more about the Republic's carrier bag tax. As Arbour pointed out, "if we really want to find out about Ireland's policy, we could just write a letter"

The press release in full:

Date: 12 October 2007
Release: Immediate
PR: 377/07

Arbour condemns "wasteful junket"

Tony Arbour, Conservative London Assembly Member for South West London has kicked into touch Green Party plans to fly London politicians to Ireland to learn more about the Republic's carrier bag tax.

Speaking after yesterday's meeting of the London Assembly's Environment Committee, Mr Arbour said:

"Green Party Assembly Member, Darren Johnson seriously suggested at yesterday’s Environment Committee that London tax payers cough up something between £1,650 and £2,505 to fly members of the Assembly Environment Committee to Dublin on a fact-finding mission about the Republic's tax on carrier bags."

Mr Arbour was against the suggestion and persuaded enough of his committee colleagues to bin the idea for the time being.

He added:

"It is the height of hypocrisy for a Green Party politician to suggest that we all get on a plane and fly to Ireland with all that carbon dioxide being pumped out into the atmosphere - not to mention the cost of the trip - when, if we really want to find out about Ireland's policy, we could just write a letter."


Just why is it that so some many 'Greens' have adopted so many 'do as I say and not as I do' positions? Norfolk Blogger (aka Nich Starling) often comments on the Greens' hypocritical positions and I'm sure he'll comment on this one.

Somerset Scrumpy and Hungry Hippos

Having spent the past week in a beautiful village in Somerset, with the other half's family, I am now back in London. We rented a large cottage and time was divided between playing Hungry Hippos with the two nieces (aged two and a half) and drinking large amounts of Somerset Scrumpy down at the local. It's clear that country folk regard Blair's hunting and smoking bans as 'London laws' and treat them with the contempt that they deserve. After 11pm, the lock-in starts, the cigarettes, cigars and pipes come out and conversations about how the hunting ban has been a complete farce flourish. Rather unwisely, some then drive home in the early hours. Public, though, transport isn't an option - nor is hiring a taxi (they are few and far between and hugely expensive). The village pub is THE centre of village life and plays a central part in everyone's social life.

The metropolitan-based liberal elite are ignorant of the rural way of life and its hard-fought traditions. As I said to a local yokel, tolerance is a two-way thing. Us liberals shouldn't forget that.

How a speech can make or break a politician

Did you see David Cameron's speech at Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool? It was a brilliant speech - the speech of his life. David spoke for over an hour without notes - quite a feat! But then he is a class act through and through.

Please find the link here to the full text of the speech on the Conservative Party website - there is too much of it for me to adequately summarise here.

On a local note, David's humane and professional performance reminded me of the announcement of the Hornsey & Wood Green Parliamentary results at Alexandra Palace in 2005. What a powerful contrast he makes with the terminally inadequate Lynne Featherstone on that occasion: she only had to speak for 5 minutes, but she couldn't even manage that off-the-cuff. We were subjected to that scratchy, whining voice talking down into her notes the whole time, delivering the most graceless victory speech of all time. She even failed to thank the local police for their conduct on the day - a major faux pas, as this is a tradition upheld by politicians of all parties since time immemorial. So embarassingly awful was she that even Barbara Roche couldn't resist saying "Look! No notes!" when she got up to speak following Lynne.

Still, if Gordon does decide to call an election any time soon, we can expect to see Lynne propelled into early-retirement in her Highgate mansion: the resurgence in both Conservative and Labour fortunes nationally should be enough to consign Featherstone to the obscurity she deserves.

2007 Conservative Party Conference - so far

Much to Labour's and the liberal left's annoyance, this week's Conservative Party conference has been a huge success There has been no retreat to "the right" (incidentally, a phrase that was coined by one Gordon Brown MP)- as Labour were hoping for and, to be fair, a tiny minority of our own supporters were, too. David Cameron, quite rightly, knows that elections are won and lost in the centre ground.

That said, it would be wrong not to talk about taxes, Europe or immigration - all issues that the electorate care about in addition to education, the environment and NHS.

Gordon Brown has not changed. He's the man that raided pensions funds, blocked key reforms in public services, introduced 111 new stealth taxes, supported tax increases, supported the erosion of our civil liberties, supported the early release scheme and failed to support calls to keep A+E departments open and build more prisons. He’s an opportunist who will use anyone and anything for party political gain. This week, it was the turn of our Armed Forces in Iraq. One thing you don’t do in British politics – and that’s use our boys and girls as political pawns during an election. Conservatives, in addition to promoting fresh-thinking alternatives, have been right to point of Brown's hypocrisy and failings - of which there are many.

Conservatives are once again ready to rescue Britain and govern for all. It's time for friends and supports to get their chequebooks out.

Note to a certain Tower Hamlets Tory: remember Reagan's 11th Commandment

Having just read Dizzy's latest post on "Manners cost nothing", Hunter thought it was appropriate to remind a certain Tower Hamlets Tory, who has spent a large proportion of his time in Blackpool slagging me off to all and sundry, of Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment: "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican" (or Conservative!)

Tempting as it is, Hunter will not 'name and shame' the culprit or indulge in mud slinging. Thankfully, there is much unity, friendship and optimism under David Cameron's leadership. We are ready for an election and we are concentrating on attacking and exposing the enemies - Labour and their Lib Dem allies. The Tower Hamlets Tory in question should join us.

Blogging back to normal - tomorrow, hopefully

A number of readers have asked Hunter why he has not posted on this week's Conservative Party conference. To be honest, my health has been really crap this week. On Sunday a week ago, Hunter was in A&E with a minor, but painful, problem. I then developed a cold and now my achilles tendon is busted This is an on-going). My left ankle looks like a tennis ball. The Ibuprofen is working, so I should be blogging away in the morning. Well, fingers crossed...

All tonight was good for was an hour's tele-canvassing in darkest N4.

Hunter beats Featherstone - thank you!

Astonishingly, Hunter came 43rd out of 500 UK political blogs - beating Haringey blogger, Lynne Featherstone, who came in at 173! Matt Davies, another Haringey blogger, was trailing at 210. A big thank you to everyone who nominated me. Iain Dale's Guide to Political blogging in the UK is now on sale through Politico's at £9.74 + postage.