John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Monday, February 28, 2005
  Library off the starting block
Today's Cabinet Meeting started the process of bidding for funds for a new central Library for Birmingham. It may surprise people who live in Birmingham that no bidding for funds had occurred so far. This, however, is the case.

We have not been specific about the location as keeping our options open at this stage gives a better opportunity to achieve a more positive solution.

The option of putting the Library into Birmingham's West End Cultural Quarter is quite a positive one. The West End Cultural Quarter based upon the traditional plan of a civic centre includes the Museum, two Theatres (Crescent and Rep), Symphony Hall, the ICC and a large number of live music venues. (as well as Broad St).
 
Sunday, February 27, 2005
  Tyranny by stealth (The Homeland Security State)
Imagine it: The federal government tracking you in real time, while compiling a database with information on your speed, route, and destination; where you were when; how many times you went to a certain location; and just about anything else related to your travels in your own car.

The idea of systems to track where cars are already exists. There are lots of schemes whereby the real time location, speed and other matters (such as whether people are using seat belts) can be tracked.

I have had a "tracker" on my car for a number of years as a tool for finding the car if it is stolen.

Within the context of politicians having inherent conflicts of interest - which is why we have the separation of the estates of government - Charles Clarke's idea that he should be able to impose sanctions upon people is badly flawed.

The arguments that the Labour Party use for keeping detailed records of people in a centralised ID database apply the same to the idea of compulsory tracking. There are already arguments that car tracking should be compulsory (and linked to road pricing). You can already imagine Charles Clarke and David Blunkett type arguments as to why we need human tracking as well.

The technology is straightforward. People need to keep with them a mobile phone or PDA that can be used to track where they are. The government keeps records of all of this. Anyone that Charles Clarke decides is a suspected terrorist is required to have a chip implanted that does the same.

All of this technology already exists (apart from the implanted chip - but that is not difficult).

What do we have at the moment:

The same government is likely to institute laws requiring cars to be tracked and it is a small step from here to track people.

With all of the mass media in operation it would seem surprising that Tyranny could be established by stealth. From my perspective, however, this is something that is happening gradually. It is the gradual nature of this change that makes it insidious.

Somehow all the traditional understanding of the need for checks and balances has disappeared and been replaced by the concept of "the best of all possible governments" and "trust Tony".
 
Saturday, February 26, 2005
  Interesting Health Questions (inc MRSA)
The National Health Service is an important issue for many people. One aspect of that has been the question as to how prevalent MRSA is (the "Super Bug").

The linked report from The Telegraph indicates that it appears on the death certificate of about 1,000 patients a year. The real question, however, is how prevalent it really is.

Doctors from time to time report "old age" as the cause of death. This could include MRSA. Also Pneumonia is reported which also could involve MRSA. The difficulty is that we really need an audit of the records to find out what the true story is. Even in a City Council debate about MRSA there were two examples of people where MRSA was part of the story, but did not appear on the death certificate.

The real problem is that if MRSA appearing on the death certificate causes considerable stress then there will be a tendency for it to be omitted as a cause. This makes it difficult to really know what is going on.

Regardless as to how prevalent it is, however, we really should be able to do a better job of maintaining hygiene in hospitals - which is key in terms of limiting infection. One estimate has been that 40% of inpatients get an infection in hospital. This figure is, however, from about 5 years ago.

Another interesting question is the use of drugs. What proportion of prescribed drugs are of no use (I have heard an allegation of about 15%) and what proportion of patients are being treated primarily as a result of the side effects of prescription (I have heard an allegation of 10%). This is easily equally important as the issue of MRSA and probably more so, but it depends upon the outcomes.

Issues relating to Health are probably one of the group of issues that are worst handled through a simplified televisual debate. For example a side effect of a cough that arises from a drug to deal with high blood pressure is minor in comparison to the possible heart attack or stroke that could be the alternative.

Iatrogenesis is, however, something that should not be ignored. Much can happen as a result of patient demand, such as patients demanding anti-biotics for viral infections. This is, however, a very difficult area to handle as it does not respond well to the shallowness of much of what passes for public debate.

Another debate in the health service that does not normally see the light of day is how many people are being paid the wrong salaries. The salary system is relatively complex and there are widespread allegations of people being overpaid or even paid for a long time when they have left their jobs. These issues relate primarily to the complexity of the system (and the fact that people will generally complain about being underpaid, but not complain about being overpaid). With turnover rates of 45% in some medical jobs this could result in a substantial cost to the NHS of many tens of millions a year (or more).

The report linked about on Iatrogenesis cites figures of 180,000 up to 1,189,576 deaths a year (in the USA) from Iatrogenic causes. Some of this will be caused by the growth in claims for negligence - the usual law of unexpected consequences. This has people doing more things to cover their backs whilst resulting in a situation in which more errors are made.

A similar issue which has been ignored is that up to 40 people a year are killed by mentally ill people whose care regime has failed.

Given the government's massive concentration on terrorism, one wonders whether that is causing a lack of attention to this substantial issue.
 
Friday, February 25, 2005
  Remember the Tippex
Correction fluid was used to blank out crosses on ballot papers for the People's Justice Party, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats.

Fresh crosses were added in favour of the three Labour candidates, an election court was told.


It is important to remember that election fraud occurs across the country, not just in Birmingham. The difference in Birmingham is that we are trying to stop it.

What about the extra three boxes The legal debate about the three boxes full of only Labour votes does not rely on the fact that they had about 1,700 Labour ballot papers all in the same handwriting and blue ink, but instead on the basis as Envelope A's with a Ballot Paper and DoI in them they should not have reached the count in that form.

Evidence stolen from the court A judge in an election fraud trial today renewed his appeal that evidence, which has mysteriously disappeared, be returned. This I didn't expect.

Woman tells how postal vote was stolen Miss Ishaq’s father had asked officials at the poll if a written complaint could be made about her vote being stolen but staff told him this was not possible. Another 40 people were turned away from the polling station in the same way that day. This happened in lots of places across the city.

Accused walk out of postal vote hearing
 
  Birmingham Strategic Partnership - goes for Sustainability
With the Birmingham Environmental Partnerships now linked to the BSP the Environmental Partnerships have been tasked with working on practical proposals for Birmingham to deal with climate change and the other requirements for a sustainable city.

My own particular interest is not in having a lot of long wordy well meaning and worthy documents, but some key actions that we need to take to improve the situation in Birmingham.

The Urban Village Environmental Partnerships in conjunction with Brumcan and the various other non-statutory organisations appear now to be moving further towards results.

We also have a further look at "Broadband Brum". It would be quite nice for Birmingham to progress to compete to be the most "wired" city in the world as well as taking serious strides towards being in the more sustainable large cities (I think we have a longer way to go there so cannot get as far as I would like that quickly).

Ayoub Khan also obtained a court order for Mohammed Afzal's phone bill. The importance of this will become clear over time.
 
Thursday, February 24, 2005
  The Anonymous Boundary Commission
I presented our many thousands of signatures against the Boundary Commission's proposals to split up Yardley to the Boundary Commission.

Oddly enough there is no sign indicating "Boundary Commission". That is because they are based in the national statistics office.

Hopefully they will heed both the logical arguments to retain the traditional links between Sheldon, Yardley and Acocks Green (going back to 699 and earlier) and also the strong public demand for this and against the Boundary Commission's proposals.
 
  Community Wars Continue
Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the disputes between b:cen and BANF.

The b:cen management don't seem to have learnt anything. Their most recent newsletter funded by part of their £2million a year grant from central government continues to launch into a diatribe against me.

In particular they have a go against local government as a mechanism for making decisions.

On the other hand we have the Home Offices State of the Sector Panel

The most recent newsletter (December 04) indicates that CVS (Community and Voluntary Sector) organisations are gnerally happiest with their relationship with local government (and least happy with the European Union).

The debate remains, however, as to what is the best mechanism for determining public policy. Should it be directly elected representatives or people appointed by primarily statutory agencies onto local Qualgos. (Quasi-Autonomous Local Government Organisation). I cannot really fathom out the logic, but it appears that the "Community Empowerment Network" solution being promoted is to exclude accountable representatives and instead have appointees. This is the traditional form of corporatism as developed in Italy from about 1890 onwards.

There is one key debate. If people are to be "accountable" there has to be a mechanism by which they can be "held to account". With directly elected representatives it is the next election. I still cannot fathom who holds the Community Empowerment Networks to account. We wrote to the Government Office as while ago to find out the GOWM viewpoint on their breaking of a number of rules that apply to such organisations and there has been no response.

Still in the mean time it is a source of funding for local voluntary organisations. I just wish they didn't waste as much as they did on things such as party politically biased DVDs etc.
 
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
  Council Meeting 22nd February 2005
Yesterday's council meeting had two main items of business:
The behaviour of the Labour Party was unusual. They said that they had no proposed changes to our Council Plan. They also called for a Council Tax increase of only 1.5%. Their calculations involved taking £3,642,000 out of the "rainy day" accounts (contingencies, balances, reserves) which is risky as it makes it harder for the council to cope with unpredicted issues.

At the end of the meeting they refused to vote on the budget. Why they would not press the "abstain budget" is not clear. It is as if they all walked out.

However, the budget has now been set. It involves an increase from £301,096,000 to £345,363,000 on Social Care which is £44,267,000. It involves using the fourth option for housing and resolves a number of other matters.

Labour's budget amendment indicated that they supported precisely everything that we were doing, but they wanted to take £1,566,000 out of unallocated policy contingency, £780,000 from carried forward balances (departmental reserves) and £1,296,000 from Earmarked Reserves.

The problem with such a change is that all it does is a one-off change of a capital nature to a revenue account. It is not sustainable and means that the next year's budget already has a hole in the revenue accounts (because it cannot be found every year).

Net Expenditure Figures Revenue Budget (in millions)


Portfolio2004/52005/6
Leader69.21667.229
Deputy24.46625.612
Education718.636768.303
Personnel Equalities3.6083.724
Housing General Fund34.32139.282
Leisure Sport Culture41.30645.043
Local Services/Community Safety4.0564.637
Regeneration18.90521.070
Social Care and Health301.096345.363
Transport and Street Services84.31490.026
Development Control Committee2.8252.880
Public Protection Committee13.36612.304
Licensing Committee00
District and Constituency Committees99.45697.382
Net Spend1,424.0301,530.979
Capitalised(71.541)(85.415)
Contingencies9.0066.896
Partnership Priorities05.670
Procurement PEP Savings0(6.800)
Net Expenditure1,361.4951,451.330
Reserves Adjustment(1.3)1
Budget Requirement1,360.1951,452.330
 
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
  Bordesley Election Petition - today's proceedings
Apart from police evidence as to who did what (and other allegations), there are two key areas of dispute in the Bordesley Election Petition.

These relates to the ballot papers that were counted.

One relates to a particular group of three ballot boxes that contained lots of Envelope "A"s. Each of the Envelope "A"s contained both a ballot paper and a Declaration of Identity.

The Commissioner at the time of writing has picked on the interesting point in law which is that if the electoral procedures are operating correctly then there should be no Envelope "A"s containing both a ballot paper and DoI.

In theory the ballot paper is placed in Envelope A and Envelope A and the DoI are placed in Envelope B.

When EnvB is opened the number on the DoI and EnvA should be checked. At that stage if there is no DoI then EnvA should be opened. Therefore at the count there should be no EnvB's with DoIs and Ballot papers (because if that had been what had happened then they would have been opened when EnvB was opened.

The row at the count was "where have these boxes come from". The row at the count should have been "These are just EnvA with DoI and Ballot and are hence invalidly counted".

The mere fact that 1500+ voters theoretically made the same mistake of filling EnvA with DoI and ballot paper raises substantial questions.

The second area are the different categories of votes argued by the petitioners to be fraudulent based upon aspects of the DoI and application for postal votes.

ReasonNumber of ballots
The same witness has used a number of different addresses289
The signature of the witness varies whilst the address is constant387
The voter has also signed as witness438
The signature on 2 or more ballots is the same23
The signature on the declaration of identity is not the same as on the application for a postal vote1637
Votes changed to Labour votes with tippex etc109
There are also some which are know to be forged????
Total (some in more than one category)more than 2414


A worrying element of this is that the signatures on 719 of the 994 permanent postal votes differ between application and DoI. Only 109 permanent postal votes existed prior to 2004.

It is wrong to assume that the total number of votes being challenged is 1500+2414 as they will overlap.

The point about these cases, however, is not that the number of votes has to equate to the difference between parties, but that the large number of fraudulent votes demonstrates that there was widespread fraud in the election and hence it is not valid.

The issue that then arises is can it be shown that any of the candidates are personally responsible for this either directly or by allowing it to occur.
 
Monday, February 21, 2005
  Labour Councillors Walk Out - 1,500 Ballots alleged to have signature mismatch
The Labour Councillors responding to the Bordesley Petition have now walked out of the court. This has, however, not stopped the court continuing.

The Petitioners have started by identifying the different types of fraudulent votes.

The first category they have identified is those votes where the signature of the voter on the Declaration of Identity (DoI) differs from the signature of the voter on the Application for a postal vote.

That means that either the application or DoI is bogus. It could be that the application is bogus, but the voters signature on the actual DoI is correct. However, it is a good measure of fraud in an election.

1,500 ballot papers are alleged to fall into this category. (that's 4,500 local election votes and 1,500 European votes)

The case continues
 
  Adjournment Ploy Fails - Bordesley Petition
A last minute attempt by the Labour Councillors to have the petition adjourned beyond the election failed at the Bordesley Election Court today.

The Commissioner had made it very clear he believes the issues in the petition need to be resolved before the General Election. He maintained this position.
 
Saturday, February 19, 2005
  Brownian Motion
So, Gordon Brown has decided that money spent filling in potholes is a Capital payment.

Similarly the subsidy to rail travel is also a capital payment.

What it really means is that he has actually given up on his "Golden Rule". He is fiddling so many of the figures that he is now falling back on the debt as proportion of GDP calculation.

None of these statistical changes make any difference to the real world. What they mean is that Gordon Brown is to be as trusted as Tony Blair. (ie not trusted).

I don't have a proper source of information for these figures, but I believe that the roads figure is £2.7bn pa and the rail subsidy is £6bn (don't know over how many years).

I am still more concerned about Labour fiddling the elections than I am concerned about Labour fiddling the books.
 
  Budget 2005/6 more details
Our budgetary proposals have been welcomed across the city. People recognise that we are acting on the issues that they are concerned about. They also welcome our movement towards more cost effective governance.
All in all, a Cleaner, Greener and Safer City than under Labour and with one of the lowest council tax increases in the country at 2.8%.

What we must do, however, is to continue the process of concentrating on cost-effective, front line services. For example decisions need to be taken taken on the basis of value for money not just whether it can be paid for from the budget.

This will enable us to make sure that we do a better job with same resources.
 
Friday, February 18, 2005
  Redirection of Postal Votes
Today I spent a few hours doing some analysis for the Election Courts which happen over the next 4 weeks. Gradually the true evidence is being provided by people such as the police, the CPS and the returning officer. I cannot reveal anything about that here as it will have to wait until the court.

There is, however, a lot of evidence of various sorts. One aspect I can talk about is the redirection of postal ballots. Quite a few ballots have been sent to addresses just a few hundred yards away. This is done even if on the next year's electoral roll the voter remains at the original address.

This is what we call the "Pendle fiddle" because it started in Pendle where postal votes were misdirected to a collection of central addresses. More information on this is available here

The Pendle fiddle has been used in Birmingham, but not as much as in Pendle. For example in the 2003 local elections 27 postal votes were sent to the home of the Labour Agent rather than the voter.

Looking through Aston there are at least 50 votes which have been Pendled.
 
Thursday, February 17, 2005
  Aston Election Petition
I thought it would be useful to put the Aston Election petition on the web. I need to tidy up the layout, but I haven't got the time for that at the moment. The words are verbatim.

I have been involved in three election petitions. One failed in 2000 and was based around Sparkhill. It failed because I told my lawyers that it needed to be served in 5 days and they got it served in 6. I also have advised the Bordesley Petition.

This particular petition was one I drafted. I have been working on raising the profile of the massive election frauds committed mainly by the Labour Party across the Country for some time now. With a bit of luck we will prove that in court by the end of March.

I hope to get the Bordesley Petition and put that on the web as well. There are about 2-3 petitions per year. These two petitions are the first to come to court based upon fraud in about a century. There were some that came close, but people pulled back.

The strength of the Aston petition is that Ayoub Khan has been very good in managing the legal processes. This is a difficult process and he has handled it very well.

Ayoub Khan was Lib Dem Councillor for Aston from 2003 to June 11 2004 (actually I think June 14, but that takes a knowledge of really arcane Local Government Law).
 
  Jazz Night Cancelled at The Village
The Village have decided to cancel all the live entertainment on Thurs, Fri, Sat and Sun. That means, for the moment, no more Jazz Evenings.
 
  CIA links terror threat to Iraq
BBC news

IssueBefore the warNow
Weapons of Mass DestructionNo threatNow a threat
TerrorismNo threat from IraqIraq a "breeding ground"
British Soldiersno deathsMany Deaths
Iraqi Civiliansfew recurring deathsThousands of Deaths


The real issue about Iraq is that going to war was not the only option. Sanctions shored up the regime of Saddam Hussain because his regime handed out food. It would have been quite possible for the Ba'th regime to have been removed by the Iraqi people if it has not been shored up by the West.

Saddam had murdered large numbers of his own citizens, but at a time when the regime was supported by the USA. There were more options than either do nothing or go to war. It is, however, now too late.

One key element of getting calm after the elections is the phased withdrawal of the belligerent troops. Bring our boys and girls back.
 
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
  Labour Funds more teaching of children to do graffiti
see Page 8-9 of the report
For all of Labour's woffle about anti-social behaviour they continue to fund training for graffiti artists to be better graffiti artists.
Extracts from the report:
============================================================================
Hugh Thornberry NCH Director said:
"I am really impressed. What a great piece of work."

Karen Stone NCH Assistant Director said:
"A fantastic representation of ideas of children and young people and their creative skills."

The Spray it ‘n’ Say it Report and DVD is available January 2005.
Spray it ‘n’ Say it Phase 2 is currently being planned by BCF in Partnership with The Haven, LIFT Project at Welsh House Farm.

============================================================================
There is clearly an issue to be tested here. The issue is whether or not the children who have been taught to do graffiti have managed to restrain themselves from doing it in places where it is not wanted and whether over time as a result their behaviour generally is better.

My personal view based upon my experience of people is that if they are taught to do something they are more likely to do it. Furthermore there are very few places where graffiti is wanted. Hence we will end up with more Graffiti.

On Page 9 it talks about extending the project. This in a sense sums up the incompetence of government. They talk about dealing with issues, but another arm of government is frequently working against them.

Underlying all of this we have the issue about the increase in indiscipline in schools from 5% of schools to 9% of schools being poor. This is happening at the same time as bodies like the Children's fund are encouraging children to be illdisciplined and rebel. There is a difference between people being critical in their thinking and encouraged rebellion. Human beings are creatures of habit if you get people to do something habitually they will tend to continue. I am a habitual Jazz Piano Player which means when I see a keyboard I am inclined to play jazz. Training Children to do graffiti gives them a habit of doing graffiti. This is not a habit society as a whole wants.

There is an important issue of how societies are structured here. Many of our statutory (and non-statutory) structures encourage behaviour that is generally unacceptable. This creates a confusing environment for people with mixed messages.

Note: If the Childrens Fund remove this newsletter from their site I have an electronic copy I can place on the web. Some people have expressed doubt as to the existance of this project. I can confirm it really is happening.
 
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
  "Operation Third Term" Labour's GOTPV Campaign - their view on postal voting
Labour's 2005 General Election Campaign booklet is called "operation third term".

In section 8 relating to Postal Votes it says:

Labour supporters with a postal vote are four times more likely to vote than Labour supporters who vote at polling stations. If we can get them to apply for a permanent postal vote it helps our electoral prospects in future elections.

That is not surprising if their vote is stolen and filled in for them. It only takes one Labour activist to fill in hundreds of postal votes.

They say:
After the ballot papers have dropped:
From this point your election campaign should be all about making sure that Labour supporters use their vote.

Brief your volunteers
• Under no circumstances should they handle or view the ballot paper until it is securely sealed in its envelope.

The best way to increase the number of Labour voters voting by post is to make sure that every time a volunteer contacts a Labour voter they offer a postal vote application form.

In the event that a voter asks a volunteer to return it, they should make sure that it is put straight into the post box or delivered to the council.


The point about all of the above is that regardless of the fact that Labour do say "under no circumstances should they handle of view the ballot paper".

This does not happen. The ballot paper is handled by Labour activists and not only in Aston and Bordesley.

The circumstances are uncontrolled and do not maintain a secret ballot. The European Convention on Human Rights says:
The High Contracting Parties undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature.

These conditions are not those that "ensure the free expressiion of the opinion of the people". That is because the system does not maintain a Secret Ballot.

On my Stolen Votes website I detail how I raised a judicial review into this issue that failed.

When I get some spare time (if ever) I will probably arrange for a second judicial review into exactly this issue.

Labour have massively undermined democracy in the UK.
 
  Labour Lawyers pull out of court case
Six Birmingham Labour city councillors alleged to have masterminded a campaign of postal vote fraud will face a High Court hearing without legal representation.

The Labour Party confirmed last night that London-based law firm Steel and Shamash was no longer acting for the Bordesley Green and Aston ward councillors.
(extract from article in Birmingham Post linked above.)



It remains that there is a question as to what Labour Candidates were doing on an industrial estate after midnight with hundreds (and possibly thousands) of postal ballots.

Election Day story about postal votes

It also remains the case that there was electoral fraud not only in the two wards which have election petitions, but also other cities.

The Labour Party are driving to have postal votes because they know that they get more votes. How many are honest and how many fraudulent is not clear. What is clear that thousands are fraudulent in some wards. (and hence parliamentary seats as well)
 
Monday, February 14, 2005
  NRF goes through "on the nod"
Having led their troops up to the top of the hill to oppose our analysis of the Neighbourhood Renewal Funds Labour today recognised that we were right. The attempted an oblique assault on our proposals to give each ward a basic £50,000. When I pointed out that included would hit Oscott even harder they pulled back.

Labour MPs are still trying to make something of the fact that we have put Performance Reward Grant into Social Care and Housing. The fact is that the City Council's biggest problem areas are Social Care and Housing. We have put most of the spare resources into Social Care and put £1.6Million into Housing to deal with the Labour Government's inane requirement for yet another survey of tenants views on stock options.

We know tenants want to stay with the City Council. We have worked out the finance for the fourth option, but the government still require us to waste money on yet another stock options exercise.

In the mean time there are rumours Labour are distancing themselves from the six Labour Councillors the elections of whom will be subject to election petitions on 21st Feb and 7th March. In theory Steel and Shamash who have been their solicitors so far (the Labour Party's solicitors) should be their representatives. It remains to be seen if they will stay "on the case".

The fact that thousands of ballot papers have been fraudulently completed will be proven and will raise questions about the way in which the Labour Government have undermined democracy in the UK. (both directly and through historical corporatism)
 
Sunday, February 13, 2005
  For students of electoral procedure - UIA get 140 seats out of 275 a majority (estimate)
As I am the sort of person who is interested in the mechanics of elections I thought I would have a look at the seat allocation procedure. It is a different procedure to that used by the UK for the European Parliament (D'Hondt). The details are available at the link above.

The initial quota is 30,750. All parties with less than that get excluded leaving only the remaining groups. I'm in bit of a rush at the moment so I have not checked the calculations. These are the figures at stage 2 of the allocation.
PartyVotesQuotaMy Guess
102432051.482
130217555174.6975
1694075295139.92140
175934803.23
204362551.241
2551506805.175
258367951.261
283605922.082
285116694340.0740
311307961.061
324699202.402/3
352432052.402/3
Total8009450275


On this I guess that SCIRI/Da'wa UIA will have 140 seats of the 275 viz a majority.

This is the interesting thing about the net. All the media are saying that UIA don't have a majority, but on my calculations they do.
 
  Iraq Election Results (provisional)
There are those that say that the Vietnam Election results from 1967 are a precedent that informs the Iraqi Results announced about 90 minutes ago (1pm GMT, 4pm Iraqi Time).

I would argue differently. The national results which *provisionally give the following:
130 Kurd Alliance2,175,55126%
169 Shi'a UIA4,075,29548%
2851,168,94314%
Total Votes8,456,266


Are a clear victory for the Shi'a UIA list with the Kurds putting in a very strong showing. This gives the Kurds+Shi'a 74%. For key votes in the provisional national assembly 67% is needed. Also the Shi'a list have to be in government.

*provisional - subject to appeal by parties
Note I have only reported those parties that got over a million votes.

Most of the parties got small votes which will not deliver any representatives. 85 parties got less than 10,000 votes. That will probably give the Shi'a UIA a majority in the Assembly. (As those votes will most likely not be counted towards anything. I have, however, not checked the rules on this. )

Vote RangeNo of Parties
0-10,00085
10,001-50,00013
50,001-100,0004
100,001-1,000,0001 - list 255 at 150,680 Ghazi al-Yawer (Sunni Arab - President)
Over 1 Million3 as above


This gives the "big three" 7,419,789. If you assume 250,000ish other votes are counted towards representatives that gives a vote that matters of say 7,750,000.
This gives the UIA 53% and Kurds 28%.

There is a possiblity of calm in the future, but only if the belligerent forces are withdrawn.

Election Rules
I don't know what the rules are that relate the elected representatives and the numbers of votes. The system is a party list system which elects a number of representatives from a list starting with the first one. There are a number of systems that can be used. D'Hondt and St Lague are the most common. Both of these provide representatives until all the representatives have been allocated. I believe every third candidate is required to be female.

Mathematically the number of votes cast divided by 275 is 30,750. This would imply any party with more than 30,750 votes gets someone. Note that 85 parties have less than 10,000 and will get nothing. The allocation system tends to bias towards the larger parties as well. If they are using one of these systems then they probably will

The difference in Vietnam particularly was that the opposition to the US was divided into a large number of groups. The US sympathising faction in Vietnam got 35% of the vote and won. In Iraq the US associated faction (which also called for troop withdrawal in Arabic) only got 14%.

To that extent the result differs in that the winners cannot be defined as being sympathetic with the US. The Kurds have their own interests which have historically aligned with the US, but they don't have a blocking vote.

It is clear that the US have trained their sights on Iran. Hence having elections in Iraq which result in a faction seen as sympathetic to Iran being elected will not go down well with the Project for a New American Century.
 
  Lib Dem Pre-Manifesto 10 point Plan - Debate post
I have put the 10 point plan in the sidebar (blogroll). I have also copied it below. If we find that there is a particular debate about any specific item then I will put in a specific entry for that.


These are taken from the printed version of the pre-manifesto document. For more details, see the full document and conference motion (links above).
 
Saturday, February 12, 2005
  They cannot be serious
To quote from the newsweek article:
"... Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success—despite the deaths of innocent civilians ..."


Now if you put that with Juan Cole's analysis of munitions and the level of support for the insurgents:
"Likewise, the guerrillas in Iraq have many advantages. They were the managerial class and the officer class, so they have a great deal of organizational know-how. They clearly still have some of the loot the Baathists stole from the Iraqi people, and they know where the missing 250,000 tons of munitions are. If either ran out, there are plenty of Gulf millionnaires who would surreptitiously support a Sunni insurgency against American domination in Iraq. "

and this

"An earlier Iraqi estimate put the number at 40,000 fighters and 200,000 supporters. I personally suspect that estimate is closer to the truth. Except that I think the difference between a fighter and a supporter is fluid. "

The possible number of supporters the insurgents could get with this US policy goes as high as 2.5 Million.

Each time the US goes beyond what is generally acceptable they make the situation worse.
 
Friday, February 11, 2005
  Election Campaign Misses Point
As usual the Election Campaing looks as if it will miss the point. The real challenges are to identify the problems and then look at how to resolve them. Much of this relates to the mechanisms by which government operates.

For example we are heading for bed number cuts in Birmingham (yes about 100 more beds to be cut on the current info I have). This is driven by the incompetence of the governmental structures rather than any shortage of finance.

Similarly the Criminal Justice system is in a bureaucratic muddle - although some aspects of this are getting sorted.

One of the debates that misses the point by the furthest is that on migration. Most of the problems that arise from immigration result from people who are illegal immigrants abusing the processes. For example there were the Chinese Cockle Pickers.

It is not that we need lots more laws. What we need are laws that work.

These are Labour's pledges:

"Your family better off"
The problem with this one is Labour know they are in a financial mess. This has not yet impacted people generally, but will. The inefficiency and corruption in Labour's mechanisms of governance are undermining prosperity. Labour have created a situation in which a company can be sued if it gives an employee unpaid leave for any reason.

"Your family treated better and faster"
Er ... MRSA, fewer beds etc.

"Your child achieving more"
This year 9% of schools have discipline problems. Last year it was 5%. Even taking into account some statistical error that is a deteriorating situation.

"Your country's borders protected"
This is their campaign on "ID Cards" which will not apply to people until they have been in the UK for at least 3 months. What they are not doing is dealing with the real issues. Instead they are raising Chimarae. Whether people will see through this or not is not clear.

"Your community safer"
Pull the other one - look at their record - particularly in terms of violent crime which is what worries people most.

"Your children with the best start"
With the discipline problems that exist in 9% of schools I think not.

It is interesting that two of these "pledges" relate to school education.
 
  CarpetGate - getting to what underlays the issue
With a bit of luck CarpetGate will help find out a lot about the practicalities of why the Council Tax Payer is frequently ripped off.

The particular cost was agreed by the council as a fee to be paid to the subcontractor plus a small percentage to the contractor. The contractor has a responsibility for value for money - which in itself is an interesting question to resolve.

The Council does a lot of work on the basis of a schedule of rates. The idea of this is good that contractors get a mixture of work some of which is more profitable and some of which is less. The work is also done on a range of timescales.

It will take me some time to get into the details of this.

It all seems to be the same situation whereby the council puts itself into a weak negotiation position and then loses out.

The same thing applies to big projects as well. Ideally we should keep a number of options on a big project until the contractual stage. This enables a proper negotiation rather than one in which the boot is always on the other party's foot.

The same principle, of course, exists for central government as well.
 
Thursday, February 10, 2005
  Ikea Riot - yet more surreality
It seems that the only thing some people care about is a comfy sofa. We have had road rage for some time, now we have sofa rage.
 
  Schools Shortchange
The government pride themselves on funding school rebuilding through PFI. The only problem is that they are not giving all the money. Par for the course really. They are only giving about 80% of the cash.

It looks like "building schools for the future" is going to be similarly partially funded.

I am also worried about planned NHS bed cuts in Birmingham. The details on this are not clear yet, however.
 
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
  Even Allawi was calling for troops out
This story says:
Even Mr Allawi's party website in Arabic said that that the interim Prime
Minister wanted a staged withdrawal of the US forces.

I understand that he says something different in English.

Meanwhile the results are delayed

Still it looks like 169 (Shi'a main list) will come top followed by 130 (PUK KDP alliance).

The most ironic element is that it appears that the US's favourite candidate has actually done better in Iraq than in the US expatriate vote.



 
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
  Budget consultations
One of the interesting exercises around the budget is the consultation with various groups affected by the budget. Friday was the Unions, Monday was the Community/Voluntary/Non-Statutory/Not for profit/Social Enterprise sector.

These have been useful exercises although relatively easy this year because the budget is generally good news for everyone.

One issue that arose during this was the "Schools Forum". This is another body established by the government which has a statutory postion, but is not directly elected. In this instance, however, I think the processes have been set up properly and the Schools Forum acts to replace the discretion of the Secretary of State for Education.

One of its key roles is to deal with disputes as to how much Education funds will be kept centrally and how much sent to schools for each LEA.

The interesting question for the moment is what the government will do with schools funding with the Education Bill. The theory of the bill is that school funding will be by a specific grant. The problem for the government is then they are deciding precisely how much to fund each group of schools. This means they end up taking the flack for discrepancies. How they will handle this is not clear so I expect they will just sidestep the issue.
 
Monday, February 07, 2005
  Demise of UDP
For a number of years we have had the process of a "Unitary Development Plan" as a guide for planning throughout the city. The government have tired of this and are now going for a different system with Local Development Frameworks (LDF) instead. The LDF consists of Local Development Documents (LDDs) as part of a Local Development Scheme (LDS). So that's clear then.

Normally these processes of change go round in a circle. For example back in 1990 there were four District Health Authorities in Birmingham. This changed to one single Health Authority, then it split into 11 Primary Care Trusts which merged into 4 PCTs (Today) and there are rumours that it will revert to a single organisation in the future.

The cycle of change in the Health Service is around 14 years. Each change lasts about 3-4 years until it is changed again.

The advantage of continually reorganising things for central government is that it gives the appearance of progress when in fact the chaos created by reorganisation frequently undermines progress.


 
Sunday, February 06, 2005
  Kurds predominate in UK Iraq Elections
The Results of the Iraq Elections from people living outside Iraq are now available.

Margaret Thatcher introduced a system whereby people who have left the UK could vote in UK elections so that is not unique.

In the UK 28,673 people voted. 62% of those voted for list 130. I have a real struggle reading the arabic script, but I think the name of the party is something about not occupying and Kurdistan (I think the last word is Kurdistan or something like that).

19% voted for list 169 which is the main Shi'a list. In the US 32% voted for the main Shi'a list, but only 4% for Allawi's list (5% voted for Allawi in the UK).

This may shock the US State Department. The US State Department totally misunderstand the situation. The evidence of the election result is that in a secret ballot 32% of Iraqis living and working in the US have voted for a list that wants the withdrawal of occupying forces.

I cannot find an easy source of information as to which list is what and it takes me too long to translate the Arabic and work out the situation, but the message from this is quite clear.

Any student of the history of Iraq will see this as a repetition of the situation in the 1920s and 1930s.



 
Saturday, February 05, 2005
  Yardley Net Campaign Hots Up
One of the issues in Yardley for the General Election is that the Labour Candidate is not really interested in Yardley, but wanted to be the Labour Candidate for Wakefield Central.

As part of her campaign to be selected in Wakefield (June 2004) Karen Marshall from Yorkshire said "there are four candidates left on the shortlist and I feel that Jayne Innes is the best one for the job. She has local roots in the constituency [Wakefield Central]..." "I think it's important to have someone who has a head start and who knows the local area [Wakefield] already." Ms Innes Campaigning in Wakefield

When we put a reference to the original Labour noticed it and changed it from the "lass with the local [Wakefield] roots to": This link

They may change this again so I will extract the text:
"Birmingham Lib Dem leader John Hemming's commitment to being the MP for Birmingham Yardley is so half hearted that even if elected he plans to treat it as a part time job and continue as a councillor! "

This is all linked to the fact that I am not going to resign as a councillor if I am elected as MP for Birmingham (Yardley). Lynne Jones MP and Steve McCabe MP both were elected as Labour MPs for Birmingham whilst local councillors. Neither resigned as councillors.

My criticism of Labour MPs in Birmingham is that generally they don't represent Birmingham in Westminster, but moreso represent Labour in Birmingham. My view is that we need to have MPs that fight for us rather than people that wander off to promote their own careers.

It is important to keep links between the City and the MPs so I personally believe it would be wrong to resign as a councillor. However, at least we have a clear issue of difference between our campaign and that of the Labour Party.

We take the view that we need to argue the case for Birmingham nationally. Labour feel that local links should be cut.
 
Friday, February 04, 2005
  Iraq Election Results
After a bit of a rummage I have found the website of the Iraq Elections Commission It is ironic that the website of the Iraqi government is part of the US Embassy domain.

It was almost inevitable that in any election which has any validity that the party backed by the Mujtahids would win. The difference now in Iraq is that the concept of Vilayet i Faqih is not seen as necessarily being the core of the political philosophy of the Shi'a.

To a great extent they were playing a waiting game tolerating the occupation in the hope that they would obtain political power once the music stopped. Conflict between the Shi'a and the Muwahiddun has existed for at least a century. This is likely to continue.

The divisions between the Sorani and Badinani Kurds have been put aside for the national elections (although not the elections in the Kurdish areas) with the clear objective of the Kurds of maintaining their local power base. The tensions with Turkey, Syria and Iran which could rise if any potential independent Kurdistan were to develop powered with Kirkuk oil remain.

Inevitably one of the demands of the Mujtahids will be the removal of occupying forces. Given that one of the reasons the US invaded was to obtain military bases in Iraq that will give a starting tension.

What mystifies me is why there is a delay in producing results. The counts on a polling district basis were made on the night of Sunday's election. Why it should take any substantial time to aggregate these is not clear. It may be that the US were hoping that their candidates would do better.

It still remains that our boys and girls need to be brought back to the UK as soon as is practicable.

 
  Mike's Vodafone Shares
Just to explain the situation with Mike Whitby's Vodafone Shares.

Councillors (and MPs) need to declare "pecuniary interests" where they may be influenced by a conflict of interest between their own personal finances and those of the common good.

As far as shares go a "pecuniary interest" or "prejudicial interest" is defined as having shares with a nominal or face value of 25K or over 1% of the company. Note that this is not a market value of 25K.

The reason for this limit is that for a large company (eg Vodafone) whether or not one or even 20 masts are installed will not affect their market value. Hence the two matters do not conflict.

Mike Whitby was criticised for not declaring that he held 2,014 shares in Vodafone which have a Nominal Value of 107.13 whilst having a market value of around £2,800. Either way the shares are well below the 25K limit.

(For those new to Birmingham Mike Whitby is the leader of the Conservatives on the City Council and Leader of the City Council whilst I am Deputy Leader of the Council)


 
  Infectious Disease Trends for Birmingham
Reportable infectious diseases and food poisonings 1999-2004
199920002001200220032004
Campylobacter*121912741209957857832
Cholera121000
Cryptosporidium*9383299444
Diphtheria000000
Dysentery63998134
S.Sonnei24251520
other Shigella29231532
Encelphalitis (I)000000
Encelphalitis (PI)000000
Food Poisoning667478204198192145
Salmonella182183173243
VTEC (0157)16488
Hansen's Disease000010
Hepatitis A484541824246
Hepatitis B94162088
Hepatitis C46286491
Leptospirosis000000
Malaria82840271312
Measles403557802935
Meningococcal Meningitis303437121621
Meningococcal Septicaemia558463404437
Meningitis (Other)243231213028
Mumps143125323440369
Ophthalmia Neonatorum12123767
Paratyphoid Fever1181791411
Poliomyelitis (P)000000
Poliomyelitis (NP)000000
Rabies002000
Rubella213028353010
Scarlet Fever403830284925
Tetanus000000
Tuberculosis
(Respiratory)
156174171180186210
Tuberculosis (Meninges &CNS) 288247
Tuberculosis(Chemprophylaxsis)831038410695141
Tuberculosis (Other)143168138151163187
Typhoid Fever98126166
Typhus000000
Whooping Cough151836361114

 
  2.8% and money to sort out Social Care
So we have announced a 2.8% Council Tax increase (lowest in the Metropolitan Region) and also an additional £30 Million plus for Social Care.

We also have set our sights on sorting out the problems in Housing. I think there is now a general recognition that we mean what we say when we talk about sorting out the problems in Birmingham.
 
Thursday, February 03, 2005
  Broadband Brum
Now has a Web Page
 
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
  CarpetGate - the pile thickens
At least I am getting to the bottom of the reasons why the City Council spends so much money on getting simple things done.

It all comes down to being governed by budgets rather than value for money. Hence we end up spending the budget rather than checking what we are paying for is value for money.

One of the key changes has to be to get a concentration on unit costs as part of value for money. The expensive carpet in the Labour Group Offices was spectacularly expensive for five reasons:

a) It was top of the range carpet
b) It was patterned so there was 30% waste
c) The work was done out of hours
d) The price was not competitive to start out with it being on a mixed schedule of rates
e) It was done on a "money no object" basis.

I am gradually getting to the bottom of the figures. Whether it was 2, 2 1/2 or 3 times the real market price is not clear. What is the case is that we need to be a lot more cost effective in how we do things within the City Council.

This is clearly the case in other public bodies managed as they are in similar ways.

 
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
  No questions from Labour
I was quite surprised at how few questions there were from Labour at today's full Council Meeting. The questions did not fill the full hour allocated and they didn't ask me anything.

Clearly they have so little to say as they are so much in agreement with what the administration are doing that they could not find any questions to ask.

We did have an interesting discussion about MRSA. This discussion made it clear that many Labour Councillors don't know the difference between a virus and a bacterium. This is an important issue as people generally have the same misconception.

This, in part, is the reason why people often demand anti-biotics for viruses (4th decelension hence not viri). The overuse of anti-biotics is part of the cause of prevelance of MRSA. The most important issue is antisepsis and the requirement for cleanliness.

Much that a lot of money is being spent on the NHS there is not an acceptable outcome in terms of cleanliness. Part of this is driven by the centralised planning and targets so beloved of government. This prevents ward sisters from managing the cleanliness in wards in the same way that "Matron" used to be able to do it. Labour's management protocols undermine "Matron".

What I believe more work needs to be done on is finding out how many people actually die from MRSA. It is not a notifiable disease and we heard of two cases where people who died from MRSA had something else on their death certificate.

Labour did propose a rather meaningless and inaccurate motion about transport which did not mention bus lanes. They also agreed with us that having experimental multi-occupancy lanes would be a good idea. They are trying to face both ways on the A38 Tyburn Road about the bus lane.

We pointed out we had delivered for many modes of transport:

a) Pedestrians, by moving towards Pelican systems from Puffins
b) Cyclists, by protecting good cycle routes eg Brandon Passage
c) Bus users, action on bus safety, queue jumping and bus priorities
d) Trains, working on the Camp Hill Line
e) Cars, developing multioccupancy priority systems.

The point is that if we can get the number of cars down by about 15% then there will not be that much congestion in the city.

In recent years bus patronage has gone down gradually mainly as a result of concerns about safety. We cannot even give away bus passes for senior citizens to many people as there is about a 7% reduction in patronage each year.

Labour's spies complained about me sitting in my car reading a newspaper parked in a loading bay in Smallbrook Queensway whilst I was waiting to pick up a keyboard I bought on Saturday. Of such momentous issues is a City Council meeting made.

Another discussion was about the lack of forward planning for CCTV and the costs of our own approaches. This enabled me to point out that Labour's £169 per square metre (all in) carpet could have been done for £57.75 per square metre (all in) had they been any good at procurement when in administration.
 

Click Here for access to higher resolution versions of the photos The license for use allows use of the photos by media as long as they are attributed.

better brent chart

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