Sunday, April 08, 2007

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Electoral Commission Guidance for candidates and agents

The Electoral Commission have produced Guidance for people who may be candidates or agents at the local government elections in England on 3rd May 2007.

The guidance can be downloaded either as a whole document (pdf format) or in sections, from The Electoral Commission

Guidance for candidates and agents available as pdf at:


Thursday, March 22, 2007

World Water Day 2007

As readers may know today is World Water Day. Living in the UK where we have little difficulty finding clean and safe water we can sometime forget the importance of water.

There are those who are less fortunate then us. I was surprised to hear that there are still more than one billion people in the world who lack access to a safe supply of water and instead have to drink from contaminated sources. As a result they face the prospect of illness and even death. 5000 children die every day as a result of drinking dirty water.

If you wish to help improve the situation you can contact your MP to encourage them to sign the Early Day Motion 1113 or you can donate money to WaterAid an international charity dedicated to helping people escape from poverty and disease caused by living without safe water and sanitation.


Monday, March 19, 2007

ID cards

Dear Khalid Mahmood MP,

You may have seen in Daily Mail of 12th March 2007 that the Government is planning to sell access to our personal data once the ID cards scheme has been introduced.

The story mentions that when ID cards are introduced, we will be expected to produce them in banks, shops, libraries, post offices. The Government will then charge these organisations to check we are who we say we are.

It is bad enough that the government insists on gathering vast amounts of information from the British people, and charging us for the privilege. The fact that they will be making vast sums of money out of charging people and businesses to check that data merely adds insult to injury.

Since the parliament passed legislation imposing this utterly unnecessary ID cards scheme information has come to light about the increasing costs which each and every one of us will have to bear for this unnecessary ID cards scheme.

I hope that this continued news about the rising costs of this utterly unnecessary ID cards scheme will get you to change your mind on the needs of this scheme and I hope that you will ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department to give Parliament another chance to discuss introduction of the ID cards scheme once all the costs of the scheme are known.

Yours sincerely,
Adam Nazir Ahmed Teladia


Thursday, March 15, 2007


Last night I met up with some friends and went to the National Indoor Area to see Ricky Gervais who is in Birmingham as part of his third live show Fame.

Most of the content covered in last nights show was based on Ricky Gervais’s he made jokes about the work he has done with Cancer Charities which led him into a few jokes about obesity. He had a pop at Dawn French and took the piss out of The Vicar of Dibley. He did a fair bit on how disgusting public toilets can be but his best moment was he was trying to impersonate an African but just couldn’t get the accent right. He tried a couple of times and then finally managed it. As always with Ricky Gervais some of the jokes were close to if not actually un-PC but the fact that he does it with no hesitation is what makes them great.

Two other things I really enjoyed was the warm up act, I can’t remember the guys name but I think he has been on previous Ricky Gervais tours, unfortunately he was only on for about twenty minutes but was good and Ricky Gervais’s entrance on to stage was good too. He appeared from behind a curtain with RICKY in lights behind him wearing a Crown and red cloak (like the one Peers wear in the House of Lords).

It was a great night and I would recommend Ricky Gervais - Fame! To anyone if it is coming to a venue near. Tickets are still available for the NIA events on Wednesday 18th and Thursday 19th April.

Colin Ross shares his thoughts on the night in his post Ricky Gervais - Fame!


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Liberal Democrat Peers call for public to be heard on Lords reform

On Tuesday Liberal Democrat Peers launched a consultation website encouraging members of the public to have their say on reform of the House of Lords.


Monday, March 12, 2007

The House of Lords

I have just been spending sometime sending the message below out to the Liberal Democrat Peers for whom I could find email addresses.

Dear Lord / Baroness,

I am sure that you will be aware that later today Monday 12th March 2007 the House of Lords will discuss the White Paper The House of Lords: Reform.

I hope that during the debate and votes you will take into account that last week the House of Commons the democratic arm of the UK legislature supported the options of 80% elected / 20% appointed by a relatively large majority of thirty-eight and that the option for a fully elected second chamber passed by a massive majority of one hundred and thirteen.

In the twenty-first century there is no need for a liberal democracy like the United Kingdom to have any legislators who are not elected by the public. Our laws are currently being passed by a chamber of aristocrats, bishops, businessmen, charity workers, judges and ex-MPs.

I would like you think about how we Liberal Democrats would have reacted if the Afghanistani constitutional convention had decided that some members of the legislature should be chosen by their Head of State and political leaders or if the Iraqi constitutional convention had recommended that part of its national legislature should be appointed by the head of government and political leaders because of their wealth, religious affiliation or support of their political leaders in the past. As Liberals Democrats we would have rightly questioned if that was quite the commitment to democracy that we were hoping for. So should we not now reinforce our commitment to democracy by only supporting a predominately or wholly elected second chamber in our country?

I hope that when given the opportunity to vote you will only support options that the House of Commons approved and do all in your power to get your fellow Liberal Democrat Peers to do the same.

Yours sincerely,
Adam Nazir Ahmed Teladia


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Belsen survivor's death mourned

I have only just read on the West Midlands section of the BBC news website that Paul Oppenheimer a Holocaust survivor died on Thursday, aged 78.

Paul Oppenheimer survived five years under Nazi rule in Holland including time spent in the concentration camp at Belsen.

After his experiences of the Second World War Paul Oppenheimer came to live in the West Midlands and became an engineer however it was sometime until he started to share his experiences with others. His story which became known in the tale The Last Train From Belsen was told in book From Belsen to Buckingham Palace which was publisher by Beth Shalom Ltd in September 1996.

I met Paul Oppenheimer in 2004 when he attended a Holocaust memorial event organised my Zabir Ali and myself after our visit to former Nazi concentration camps in Poland.

My memory of Paul Oppenheimer will be of a polite man who was helpful to young people trying to understand what Nazi Germany was like and what life in a concentration camp was.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Nearly there

As you will have heard the House Of Commons supported the options of 80% elected / 20% appointed second chamber passed by a simple majority (ayes: 305; nos: 267) and the option for a fully elected second chamber passed by an absolute majority (ayes: 337; nos: 224).

I didn’t get the chance to read or watch much of the debate that took place in the House of Commons with regard to House of Lords reform last week so I was very surprised to hear that the House of Commons had only supported the 80% elected and 100% elected options. I was almost certain that the 20%, 40% and 50% options would fail but I also expected the 100% appointed and 100% elected to fail. I thought that if any would pass with a majority they would be the 60% and 80% and I thought that the majorities would be small, maybe even in the single figures.

As time has passed I have become a stronger supporter of a fully elected second chamber but I didn’t think we would get to this point so soon. I thought that we may get a partly elected second chamber soon and wait for it to push for an increase in its elected proportion.

Even with the success that supporters of reform enjoyed on Wednesday we can become complacent, relaxed and satisfied just yet. The battle for a democratic second chamber is not over yet.

The House of Lords will be debating its future this coming week and the call for a democratic upper house is likely to be met with defiance, opposition and resistance in the House of Lords. Not only from traditional opponents of reform but also from those who now enjoy their privileges as an unelected member of the legislature and do not wish to give them up.

If the supporters of reform become complacent, relaxed and satisfied now the success of Wednesdays vote will remain unfulfilled for years, even decades.

If you are a supporter of reform I would like to urge you to contact as many peers as possible urging them to support the Commons will when they have the chance to vote on reforming the House of Lords on Wednesday.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Question Of White Supremacy

Thanks to Chris Black for this


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Lords Reform

Today the House of Commons started debating on how we should reform the House of Lords (the vote is tomorrow).

In an email to supporters Unlock Democracy said "we have significant grounds for optimism, but not for complacency. 9 cabinet members have written to Labour MPs urging them to vote for the 50%, 60% and 80% elected options, while Liberal Democrat support appears to be holding firm. Our main concern however is that despite David Cameron's pledge to personally support the 80% option and despite a manifesto commitment for a 'substantially elected second chamber', Conservative support is not as firm as we would like it to be". I would like to urge David Cameron to call on his parties MPs to vote for its own policy.

The vote tomorrow is on the principle of reform, not the details of the Government's White Paper. If the democratic options are defeated tomorrow, the prospects of reform will be put back by a generation, it has taken us ages to get another chance to have parliament discuss the reforms since the proposals made by Robin Cook didn’t win sufficient support. So please encourage your local MPs to support an elected House of Lords.


Monday, March 05, 2007

David Blunkett @ University of Wolverhampton

Former Education, Home and Work & Pensions Secretary David Blunkett was at the University of Wolverhampton today to talk to staff and students.

David Blunkett's talk was entitled Can Democracy Live Up to the Challenges of the 21st Century.

David Blunkett spoke for just over thirty minutes laying out what he thought were the cultural, economical, political and social challenges to democracy in 21st Century GB.

Having spoken to two colleagues we were all surprised at how open David Blunkett was. We were all expecting him to be a bit of an arse but found that he was actually a lot nicer then we expected and thought he would be.

David Blunkett was the most high-profile speaker at the university since I have started and his speech was certainly interesting.


Liberal Democrat Spring Conference 2007

I was at the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference in Harrogate this weekend, I had planned to do a number of things while at conference but unfortunately only managed to do a few.

I arrived in Harrogate later then I had originally hoped for which meant that I missed the bulk of the Better Governance Working Group Consultation, however I caught the last section of the session which was lead by Jonathan Marks QC.

Following the consultation session I met with Simon Drage with whom I was training first thing on Saturday and we found that the handouts which we were supposed to use on Saturday had not printed so well, so we then spent the next few hours printing and sorting our handouts. On Friday evening I went out for a meal with the York University Liberal Democrats group, always a pleasure as I now know some of them and always a good chance to meet recent recruits and discuss what they think about the party policies etc.

On Saturday I had a 9.15 start as I was training Winning the youth & student vote with Simon Drage, this was a well attended session once again.

That was followed by training Your local party checklist which I was training with Dave Hodgson of the Membership Department. This was the first time I trained for the membership department and the first time I trained with Dave Hodgson who I now known for a couple of years. This session was not so well attended but that was to be expected as it was running at the same time as the policy debate on Trident. Unfortunately my friend Colin Ross was not called to speak in this debate which was a shame since I had suggested some minor changes to text he had sent me earlier in the week.

After I was done with the training I was on the Liberal Democrat Agents and Organisers Association's stall as an executive member I try to help out at every conference with the stall. Unfortunately this year the exhibition didn’t seem as busy as in the past so I spent most the afternoon reading and talking to people on the neighbouring stands. I did get a visit from Elspeth Campbell who was interested in some of the changes in electoral law coming in at this election. Later Sir Menzies Campbell also came by and he wanted to discuss the development of training.
On Sunday I was hoping to get into the hall to list to Simon Hughes MP, President of the Liberal Democrats and Sir Menzies Campbell MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats speeches which were scheduled for 9:15 and 11:45 however I felt very lazy and tired so decided to just waste my time doing nothing.

After conference I spent a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon in an Liberal Democrat Agents and Organisers Association Executive meeting which discussed various issues.

We left Harrogate at 4pm but I only got home at approximately 8:30pm since the weather was not the greatest the drive back involved a number of traffic jams and speed restrictions.

All in all not a bad conference as I got to do some training and meet a number friends and people I know who I only get to meet at conference.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Liberal Democrat Spring Conference 2007

I am going to be at the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference this weekend, I have a rough timetable for the weekend but like most conferences its not set in stone and will most probably involve me not getting to everything I want to get to.

Tomorrow I hope to get to the Better Governance Working Group Consultation in Harewood 1 at The Holiday Inn. This should start at 3pm and finish by 5:30.

On Saturday I have a 9.15 start with Winning the youth & student vote which I am training with Simon Drage in Queen’s Suite 4 of HIC. That is followed by Your local party checklist which I am training with Dave Hodgson of the Membership Department. This session runs from 11 in Queen’s Suite 4 of HIC and finishes at 12:30. Your local party checklist is a first for as previously I have only trained for the Liberal Democrat Agents and Organisers Association and Liberal Democrat Youth and Students.

After I am done with the training I should be free for the rest of the day so I have volunteered to help out on the Liberal Democrat Agents and Organisers Association's stall.

In the evening I would like to get to the Liberal Democrats Training Task Group fringe What’s new in training which starts at 6:15 in Queen’s Suite 8 of HIC.

On Sunday I would like to get to Simon Hughes MP, President of the Liberal Democrats and Sir Menzies Campbell MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats speeches which are scheduled at 9:15 and 11:45.

After the conference we have a meeting of the Liberal Democrat Agents and Organisers Association Executive planned.

I am quite looking forward to conference especially as this time I have chance to train for someone who I have not trained for previously and as always conference is a good chance to meet up with colleagues and friends who I don’t get to meet that often.


"proper job"

As you may know I am hoping to get a "proper job" come June as I hope I will be done with education by then.

So recently I started looking at the recruitment pages of newspapers and so on. Yesterday I sent off an application form for the post of Administrative Assistant, External Training Services at the Royal National Institute of Blind.

I would be very grateful if people would let me know of any vacancies they hear, know or see advertised.

My ideal job would involve working for a not for profit organisation as a Fundraiser, Policy Developer/Researcher or Conference & Events Co-ordinator/Planner.

I would ideally like to be based in the West Midlands but would consider moving to Leeds, London or Manchester and the Salary does not bother me too much (the job I applied for yesterday starts at £11k).

Please get in touch if you hear, know or see something, I would very much appreciate it.


Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"Proper job"

As people may know I am hoping to get a "proper job" come June and so today I spent a couple of hours filling in an application form for the post of Administrative Assistant, External Training Services for the Royal National Institute of Blind.

I also saw an advert for the post of Office Services Assistant for English Heritage in the Metro on Monday unfortunately I have not got round to requesting the application pack for that job yet but since closing date is on 8th March I better hurry up.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Votes at 16

I was recently invited to a Secondary School in Wolverhampton to talk to about two hundred fourteen to sixteen year olds about the Votes at 16 campaign.

I have published the text of my speech below. However please remember that I am a supporter of Votes at 16 and that I was asked to prepare a talk which considered both the arguments for and against votes at 16. If someone is looking form an opinion on this issue I would recommend that they look at or read Give Wayne Rooney the vote,, The Real Democratic Deficit and Votes at 16 Issues Briefing.

A number of the arguments that I will make for or against reducing the age at which people can vote were also used in 1971 when the minimum age was reduced from twenty one to eighteen.

At first a number of people of all ages, gender, marital status, communities, political views, race or religion will say that they are not interested in politics or that politics does not affect them. However if we think about the number of people who are concerned about or affected by BBC, Education, Environment, Food, Health, Sport, Transport and so forth we will realise that politics does indeed concern or affect everybody.

People like me who support the idea of reducing the minimum age at which people can vote will argue:

First and foremost there is a basic democratic principle that there should be no taxation without representation. Young workers pay income tax and national insurance, young shoppers pay VAT and the government has no problems collecting the money without reference to date of birth. Not letting sixteen and seventeen year olds express their political views through the ballot box gives the impression to young people and to the rest of society that young people’s views are either not valid, or not as valid as the views of older citizens. This implies that young people are not real citizens.

Second, there is a lack of consistency about the age at which a person gains various civil rights. If people are old enough to marry, die for their country, change their names, and pay prescription charges and full fares on public transport, why should they not be able to vote for the Men and Women who form the laws and regulations which govern these issues. I realise that some of these are actions for which people under eighteen do need parental consent.

Third, Citizenship education is now a compulsory part of the national curriculum in England at key stages three and four and it is an optional part of the curriculum for key stages one and two. So by the time someone is sixteen they could have had eleven years of Citizenship education. Young people reaching the age of sixteen will have a great deal of knowledge of how the British political system works, perhaps a better knowledge and understanding than most people that are older. Yet they are denied the right to use this knowledge and understanding for at least two further years. Lowering the voting age to sixteen would allow a seamless transition from learning about elections, democracy, the importance of voting, the different electoral systems, pressure groups, topical political issues and so forth to putting such knowledge into practice.

If we stick with the status quo some people who may have been enthused or motivated by citizenship classes will, in fact, have to wait much longer than two years for a general election. Someone who turned sixteen in June 2005 will be twenty-one by the time of the next general election.

A poll commissioned from YouGov by the Social Market Foundation in 2002 showed a link between the age at which people first vote in a general election and their inclination to use that vote. People who turn eighteen in the year leading up to an election are significantly more likely to vote than those who turned eighteen in the year after an election and have therefore had to wait up to five years. The Social Market Foundation poll looked at the turnout for young voters of different ages in the 2001 general election. It found a dramatic difference between 27-year-olds and 28-year-olds. Turnout among 27-year-olds was only forty nine per cent; among 28-year-olds, it was sixty five per cent. One explanation is that the first group was under eighteen in the 1992 general election, and therefore had to wait five years to influence the choice of a government. The 28-year-olds, by contrast, had turned eighteen in time for the 1992 election and went to vote with enthusiasm. This enthusiasm carried through to 1997 (when seventy per cent voted compared to sixty four per cent of those who just missed voting in 1992) and had diminished only slightly by the 2001 election. This "birth effect" was also found among those going to vote for the first time in 2001. Among 22-year-olds, who had waited four years to vote, the turnout was fifty four per cent; among 19-year-olds, it was as high as sixty eight per cent (nine per cent above the national average). Lowering the voting age to sixteen cannot erase the “lottery of birthdays”, but it will ensure that everyone can participate in a general election by the time they turn twenty one. If it is true that those who “vote young vote often”, then the argument that lowering the age at which you can vote will decrease turnout is weak, since in the long run it will have opposite effect.

The advent of the internet, together with an expansion of the number of television channels has led to a huge increase in the amount of information available to people of all ages, but to young people in particular as news organisations can now tailor their news to a younger audience. The age at which young people are developing a range of political and issue viewpoints is getting younger and it is right that this should be reflected in the age at which they should become entitled to vote in elections. Some people claim that young people find it difficult to differentiate between fact and opinion and so they could easily be misled by what they hear, read or see in the media or on the internet.

Research shows that younger people are less likely to vote than older people. Research by the Electoral Commission in 2001 found that, whilst overall turnout in the General Election 2001 was 59.4%, turnout among those aged 18-24 it was just 39%. The Commission found that, in common with those aged twenty five and above, many younger voters had little interest in politics, but also found that a significant proportion of younger voters were not registered to vote. It is often argued that by extending the franchise to sixteen and seventeen year olds, turnout is likely to fall further. However I would argue that as the research by the Social Market Foundation showed that we could tackle lower turnout by lowering the voting age and the problem of people not registering to vote is different. You will find that many minority groups such as the young, BME etc are not registered to vote and this should be looked at separate from the debate on lowering the voting age.

Many also argue that older voters know younger people who they do not consider to be sufficiently mature to cast a vote. They ascribe this trait to all those under the age of eighteen. There are also a number of sixteen and seventeen year olds who do not consider themselves mature enough to vote.

Many opponents of lowering the voting age argue that those who are entitled to vote do not do so simply out of their own interests, but also bearing in mind the greater good and the needs of society as a whole. They also argue that many young people are too innocent of the world and that older people know what is best for sixteen and seventeen year olds.

This argument is the same as that which was used in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by those opposed to the extension of the franchise to women and members of the working classes.

It is argued that young people themselves show no desire to see a lower voting age and that an extension of the franchise to sixteen and seventeen year olds would be of interest and benefit to just a few, rather than the many.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Liberal Democrats' Better Governance Working Group

I am currently a member of the Liberal Democrats Better Governance Working Group which which was set up by the Liberal Democrats Federal Policy Committee to look at issues such as how we can re-engage citizens with government & politics, how we can ensure effective scrutiny & accountability in our democratic system, how we should respond to issues relating to decentralisation, and in particular the “English Question”, and how boundaries between the state and citizens should be defined.

Under the chairmanship of Lord Paul Tyler the working group has produced How can we improve the way we are governed? a consultative document which will be discussed at the Liberal Democrats in Harrogate conference next week.

However people also have the opportunity to participate in the discussion online at People can post their comments and views at or if they wish they can submit an article or articles which should be sent to

Last night we had another one of our “evidence” sessions which involve someone who has expertise in the area coming into discuss their ideas. I happen to miss the first witness session a couple of weeks ago with Lord Anthony Lester QC however yesterday I was were pleased that Baroness Helena Kennedy QC came along to speak to us. As you may know Helena Kennedy QC chaired the Power Inquiry and is one of the country's leading barristers. She had some interesting comments, ideas and views on issues such as public participations and the constitution yesterday.

I would encourage anyone reading this to take a look at the consultation paper available at and use to let us know what their ideas and views are with regard to accountability & scrutiny, citizen & the state, the constitutional settlement, decentralisation & devolution and re-engaging citizens.

If you will be in Harrogate for the Liberal Democrats Spring Conference there is a consultation session at 3pm on Friday 2nd March in the Holiday Inn (Harewood 1).


Monday, February 19, 2007

Who are the most influential unelected people in the country?

The Guardian is trying to compile a list of the countries most influential unelected people.

Anne Alexander, Camila Batmanghelidjh, Russell Davies, Michael Eboda, Georgina Henry and Isobel Larkin have all nominated 10 people each. You can also email your nominations to just make sure you put 'top 50' in the subject field of your email.

My list of the 10 most influential unelected people in the country is:

1. Jonathan Powell, chief of staff, Downing Street
2. Sir Gus O'Donnell, head of the civil service
3. Lord Falconer, Lord Chancellor
4. Baroness Valerie Amos, leader, House of Lords
5. Ian Blair, commissioner, Met Police
6. Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC
7. Rebekah Wade, editor, the Sun
8. Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England
9. The Queen
10. Sir Terry Leahy, chief executive, Tesco


Monday, February 12, 2007

Liberal Democrat Spring Conference 2007

The Liberal Democrat Spring Conference 2007 will be in Harrogate on 2nd - 4th March 2007.

Like last year I will be training at this conference too. The sessions I will be training are listed below. I know that Your local party checklist does not list me as one of the trainers unfortunately Colin Ross will not be able to make that session as he will be occupied else where so Dave Hodgson has asked if I will help out.

The directory and agenda for the conference are now available on the Liberal Democrat Conference Homepage

Saturday 3rd March: 09.15-10.45
Winning the youth & student vote
Simon Drage and Adam Teladia, LDYS.
Queen's Suite 4, HIC

Saturday 3rd March: 11.00-12.30
Your local party checklist
Dave Hodgson and Colin Ross, Membership Department.
Queen's Suite 4, HIC

Saturday 3rd March: 16.00-17.30
The count
Colin Penning and Adam Teladia, Agents Association.
Queen's Suite 9, HIC


Sunday, February 11, 2007

West Midlands Liberal Democrats Moving Forward & Warwick and Leamington Question Time

Yesterday I travelled to Warwick for my first Moving Forward day of 2007. The West Midlands Liberal Democrats Moving Forward programme is for seats which the West Midlands Liberal Democrats hope will do well at the next General Election.

Despite the weather not being the best I was pleased to see that a number of seats sent representatives.

The training covered was on literature, mainly encouraging local parties to try different types of literature, making the most of election week and the postal vote campaign.

During the Lunch break all the seats taking part in the programme have a 1-2-1 to review progress, I sat in on the Birmingham Hall Green progress and was pleased to hear about the progress they are making and their plans for the next few months.

Ed Davey MP who is the Liberal Democrats Campaigns and Communications Committee Chair and Sir Menzies ("Ming") Campbell's Chief of Staff also attended part of the Moving Forward Day and gave us a briefing on the national picture and plans which was interesting.

After the Moving Forward Day Warwick and Leamington Liberal Democrats hosted a Question Time event which included local Parliamentary Candidate Alan Beddow, Phil Bennion, Ed Davey MP, Warwickshire Councillor Nigel Rock and Colin Ross.

I submitted three questions none of which were asked but I was lucky enough to make comments during the discussion on housing and what would happen if there was a hung parliament. Other issues discussed were Climate Change and Trident.

All in all it was a good day for me because I got a chance to chat with a number of the representatives from the Moving Forward seats and had a chance to meet up with some colleagues and friends I had not seen for sometime.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Chocolate Fondue Fountain

I recently reported on this blog that the day of Ashura had just planned and that on this day Muslims should be generous towards their family & dependants and spend more on them then what is normally spent. I usually receive gifts from my parents and brothers & sister in laws on this day.

This year my brother Bashir & his wife Sabiha gave me a gift on the day but my brother Umar & sister in law Zarina said that my gift had been delayed so I would have to wait.

Today my gift finally arrived it is a Chocolate Fondue Fountain. Those who know will know that I like a chocolate from time to time so this will be a gift that I am sure to enjoy.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A new Prime Minister & his/her first 100 days in office

Later this year we should be having a new Prime Minister entering Number 10. progress have set up a page on their website asking people to suggest policies or initiatives they would like to see the new Prime Minister introducing in his/her first 100 days in office. If you wish you comment please visit

Some the ideas that people have suggested which I like are begin the separation of executive and legislative powers, electoral reform, introduce a plastic bag tax, make a commitment to end the genocide in Darfur, make a commitment to move to a democratically elected head of state, reduce the voting age to 16, remove the right of the Prime Minister to exercise the Royal Prerogative on behalf of the Monarch and work to reform International bodies (EU, G8, IMF, UN, World Bank).

I’m not sure a new Prime Minister would be able to achieve a lot on some of these ideas in his or her first hundred days however I do hope that the next Prime Minister whoever it may be does achieve something on the issues mentioned above.

With regard to the separation of executive and legislative powers I hope that the reformed House of Lords is totally independent of the executive and has no Secretaries of State or Ministers.

I hope that the next Prime Minister can at least deliver the referendum on Proportional Representation that we were promised in 1997 Labour Manifesto.

Make a commitment to end the genocide in Darfur is a little vague but I must be honest that I don’t know enough about the situation there but I have to say that it has been going on for far too long and while our attention has been focused on Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq etc hundreds of thousands if not millions of people have been forced out of their homes and this is putting great pressure on the countries neighbouring Sudan.

Make a commitment to move to a democratically elected head of state is something that I would like every government to offer and I really hope that the Liberal Democrats will sooner rather then later adopt this as policy however I don’t think that there are many supporters for this idea at Westminster.

Reduce the voting age to 16 is something that seems to have disappeared from discussions on constitutional reform at the moment but sometime ago the Electoral Commission reported that it was not the right time but I hope that a new Prime Minister will look again at the issue.

Removing the right of the Prime Minister to exercise the Royal Prerogative on behalf of the Monarch is something that I doubt we will see any Prime Minister suggest I think this will happen by Parliament acting to limit the issues on which the Prime Minister exercise the Royal Prerogative on behalf of the Monarch one by one.

Work to reform International bodies (EU, G8, IMF, UN, World Bank) is also something that is important especially if we want to make progress in the twenty-first century however this requires a united effort especially from the leaders of the worlds leading countries such as USA, UK, France, Germany, Japan etc. Some of these have recently elected new leaders of their governments and USA, UK and France will all have new leaders by January 2009 so I hope that either by then or soon after the new leaders have taken office we get some movement of the reform of some if not all of these organizations.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Liberal Democrats launch manifesto consultation

The Liberal Democrats have launched their manifesto consultation today. Every party member can now log on to which will enable them to contribute to the creation of the Liberal Democrats manifesto for the next general election.

Today key party figures, including party leader Menzies Campbell, Chief of Staff, Ed Davey, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, David Laws, and Chair of the Liberal Democrat Election Manifesto Team, Steve Webb met to set out the manifesto’s key themes.

For the next election the Liberal Democrats will produce a web-based interactive manifesto, which will use audio-visual communications as its centrepiece rather than the written word.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Muharram and Ashura

I don’t usually mention my religion and religious activities on this blog and I don’t wish to make this blog about Islam or Muslims but I will now be using this blog to try explaining and helping create a greater understanding of what Islam is and how Muslims live their lives.

First I would like to point out that there are a number of different Muslim groups, their views on Islam and the way Muslims should live their lives are very different in some cases. There is also the fact that the different cultures Muslims come from also influence the way in which people follow Islam. Therefore I ask that people who read about Islam and Muslims on this blog do not take what is said to be the views beliefs, views and way of life for all Muslims.

We recently entered into the first month of the Islamic calendar which is Muharram. The word Muharram comes from the Arabic word meaning sacred and it is one of the four months mentioned in the Quran (Holy book for Muslims).

Muslims believe that Muharram is a month of great reward and virtue. The Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said, “The best of fasts besides the month of Ramadan is the fasting of Allah’s month of Muharram.” it is also reported that the Prophet Muhammad said “The one that keeps a fast in the month of Muharram will receive the reward of thirty fasts for each fast.”

The Tenth day of Muharram (29th January 2007) is known as “ASHURA”, some Islamic scholars state that before the fasts of Ramadan were made obligatory the fast of Ashura was compulsory for Muslims however after the fasts of Ramadan were made compulsory this fast became optional. The Prophet Muhammad continued to fast on this day himself and also encouraged his companions to do so. When asked the reason for this fast the Prophet Muhammad replied “It is a compensation for sins of the past year.” i.e. the sins of the year that has gone will be forgiven. Muslims also believe that this is the day when the Prophet Moses and his followers gained freedom from the pharaoh.

On the day of Ashura Muslims should be generous towards their family & dependants and spend more on them then what is normally spent. The Prophet Muhammad said “One who generously spends on his family on the day of Ashura, Allah (God) will increase his provisions for the whole year.”


Friday, January 26, 2007

Talk Democracy launches

Electoral Reform Society, Hansard Society, Make Votes Count and Unlock Democracy have come together to launch Talk Democracy. Talk Democracy is an open space for people to share their views and co-ordinate their work in the area of democratic renewal and reform.

Talk Democracy also provides users with a series of forums on topics.

There is also a space for people to promote activities and initiatives for things going on around the country.

To register go to


Reception in the House of Commons

Last night I was at a reception in the Members Dining Room of the House of Commons. The reception hosted by Liberal Democrats Leader, Sir Menzies Campbell was for members from the black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds.

My invitation said that the event would start at 7pm so I arrived a little early and was in the Members Dining Room in time but not many people were there then so I waited for a short time before Dan Rogerson (MP for Cornwall North) arrived, I know him from by-elections and conferences so we spoke for a bit about how his time in Parliament is going and what I am currently doing. After Dan left I started talking to Alistair Carmichael (MP for Orkney & Shetland) who is the Liberal Democrats, Shadow Transport Secretary. I have spoken to Alistair previously but we had a good discussion on what Alistair is doing now and how it is different for since he had always been involved in the Home Affairs team. While I was talking to Alistair Lorely Burt (MP for Solihull) came over to say Hi. I know Lorely from being on the West Midlands Liberal Democrats Executive. Lorely didn’t have much time as she was trying to meet as many people as possible before she left to make sure she got home last night as she had constituency work today. I then found myself talking to Andrew Stunell (MP for Hazel Grove) who I know from by-elections, conferences and from a Policy Working Group that we were on together. After many years in the Whips office Andrew is now the Liberal Democrats Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, an area in which we share an interest. So we spoke about the situation with Your community, your choice and the work that is happening to rewrite that. While I was talking to Andrew we were joined by Cllr Qurban Hussain the Deputy Leader of the Council in Luton where the Liberal Democrats have minority control.

As we were talking Sir Menzies Campbell started to the proceedings and welcomed us all to the Houses of Parliament. After for a while about how he wanted to see the Liberal Democrats benches in Westminster and Brussels reflect the make up of society. Sir Menzies Campbell then introduced former TV presenter and campaigner, Floella Benjamin who will spoke about how far the BME community had come in the UK and she spoke of her experiences as a young child when as she played in the back garden of her house the neighbour through a bucket of urine over her and her brothers & sisters. After Floella Benjamin, Sir Menzies Campbell called on Simon Woolley, National Co-ordinator of Operation Black Vote. This was the first time I had heard Simon Woolley speak he talked about the frank discussion he had with the Liberal Democrats Parliamentary party on Wednesday night and said that he was serious about seeing better representation of the BME community in Westminster and so would ensure that the Liberal Democrats took the issue seriously too.

After Simon Woolley, Sir Menzies Campbell introduced Lord Dholakia who became a Liberal Democrat Peer in 1997 and has served as an assistant whip between (1997-2002), sat on the recent panel that selected cross-bench peers, was Party President from 2000-2004 and in November 2004 was elected joint Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords. The final speaker of the night was Sajjad Karim (MEP for North West England) the only elected BME Liberal Democrat Parliamentarian. Sajjad Karim spoke about how it was difficult in the past for members from the BME background to get selected for elections but that things are getting easier.

After the speeches were done I had a chat with Hong Ling Dyer who I know from when I was involved in the Liberal Democrat Youth and Students, we were joined by Sir Menzies Campbell press officer Puja Darbari who spoke about how this had been a busy week for Sir Menzies Campbell and his team with the launch the Liberal Democrats ‘We Can Cut Crime’ campaign on Monday, followed by the debate on Iraq in the House of Commons on Wednesday when Sir Menzies Campbell outlined the Liberal Democrats strategy to bring troops home from Iraq by October and then there was a lot of press work to do promoting last nights event. Later I spoke to Mike Girling of the Liberal Democrats Press Office. One Mike’s responsibilities is to get the Liberal Democrats message out through the BME media. We spoke of some of the obvious outlets there are and how and where he look to find others he could target.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Papers

Yesterday I was looking at The Independent and The Guardian website and found some articles and blogs which I thought readers may be interested in.

There was Taking liberties by Conor Gearty and Variations on a theme by Sir Hayden written by Edward Pearce on comment is free.

Then there was Hain in plea for power shift by Andrew Grice the Political Editor of The Independent and Huge majority say civil liberty curbs a 'price worth paying' to fight terror by John Carvel and Lucy Ward on The Guardian.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Make It An Issue

Earlier this week the Power Inquiry launched the make it an issue campaign with the aim of encouraging people across Britain to call for the rules of democracy to be decided by the people and not politicians.

Make it an issue will shortly announce a series of events and meetings across the country where people can join the campaign and debate the priorities for democratic reform.

Inspired by the campaign in the USA, make it an issue will use the web as a space for action and debate. launched on Monday with a series of films and blogs.

Key supporters include Saira Khan of The Apprentice, Philip Pullman, Billy Bragg and Greg Dyke.

Organisations and individuals can join the campaign and contribute ideas by signing up at


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

How will politics change in 2006

I have been reading How will politics change in 2006 by Nick Assinder BBC News website, Political Correspondent from 1st January 2006 and found that he predicted that:

For Britain's three big party leaders (plus one), 2006 will without doubt be interesting. And, as far as politics is concerned, it will be all about them.

He seem to have got that prediction pretty spot on however I would say that David Cameron's early promise has still not been tested and Nick Assinder seem to be more tolerant of Charles Kennedy then some Liberal Democrat MPs giving him a few months of probation.

Nick Assinder predicted that in the budget Gordon Brown "will be forced to raise taxes, cut spending or increase borrowing, this may present the first real challenge to his reputation and leadership hopes". What we got was Tax rises 4p on wine and 1p on beer in line with inflation, but no increase in Income Tax or VAT. Spending promises from Gordon Brown included raising investment in schools from £5.6bn now to £8bn a year over five years, £600m to fund world-class British athletes, a new national sports foundation with £34m from the government, another £2m for evening sports clubs for young people, £1bn for a new energy and environmental research institute, Child Trust Funds to get an extra £250 or £750 when the children reached seven-years-old, child care vouchers increased to £55 a week, By April next year, to increase the number of community support officers from 6,000 to 16,000 by April 2007, free off-peak national bus travel for pensioners and disabled people from April 2008, £1m for Britons injured in terrorist attacks at home and abroad, £200m to promote international peacekeeping and an extra £800m for the armed forces. Gordon Brown said net borrowing would be £37bn in 2006-07 and £36bn in 2007-08.

On the local council elections Nick Assinder predicts "Labour can expect losses", we saw on 4 May 2006 was the Conservatives gain 11 councils, Labour loose 17 and the Liberal Democrats gain 1.

Nick Assinder also predicted that "the issue of the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq and the developments in that country, will continue to have a direct impact on domestic politics" I'm not sure how wrong or right he was on the issue but one thing we are seeing is the distancing of British policy in Iraq from that of the USA. President Bush recently announced an increase in the number of US troops in Iraq but we hope to start seeing the withdrawal of British troops in Iraq soon.


Friday, January 19, 2007

Celebrity Big Brother and racism

I was watching This Week last night, usually I switch of straight after the My Moment of the Week. However last night I continued to watch as they discussed the situation in Celebrity Big Brother.

Now I’m not a fan of Celebrity Big Brother, the last time I watched Celebrity Big Brother was when Jack Dee was in the house, so unless I’m mistaken that was back in 2003. Therefore what I have posted in this post comes from just what I saw on This Week last night.

I came to the conclusion that Danielle, Jade and Jo’s behaviour towards Shilpa was a consequence of their lack of information, knowledge & understanding of other cultures rather then racism.

My reasons for believing this are first the discussion that This Week showed between some women (one was Jo from SClub7, I didn’t recognise the other) about whether Indians eat with their hands, showed that they had some knowledge of this occurring but they weren’t even sure where this occurred. One of them mentioned it possibly being China. From my knowledge in the “eastern” world it is the norm for people to eat with their hands. I know that as Muslims we are told to eat with our hands since that was the way the Prophet Muhammed ate.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy mentioned during the discussion that came after his report that Shipla was not participating in the alcohol drinking and discussion about sex that occurred in the House. Now from what I remember of watching Big Brother and Celebrity Big Brother in the past those two activities take up some amount of time since people having nothing better to do. I don’t know why Shipla isn’t participating in these activities however I do know that in some Indian cultures these are still things which are not done or at least not done in public. People may have a drink from time to time but will only do it at home or in place where they are not vulnerable. The talking about sex is more a case of a sexual relationship being between the people in the relationship and it being a private matter. In the same way that most people would not invite others to watch them having sex with their partner why would you discuss it with someone else?

I think that the majority of the people who think what has been occurring in the house as racism will be the “educated” and “intellectuals” who can sometimes be over PC and they have a desire, hope or wish that British people were as appreciative, knowledgeable and understanding of other cultures as they are.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Unlock Democracy launch new website

Unlock Democracy has launched its new website. As some of you may know Unlock Democracy is name under which Charter 88 and the New Politics Network will be working together to progress their aims and objectives.

The new website has publications published by Charter 88 and the New Politics Network in the last few years, information about local groups and information about Unlock Democracy latest campaigns and projects.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Just some interesting reading

I have been going through some blogs and newspaper websites and have picked these articles and posts as I found them interesting.

There is an easy answer to the West Lothian question by Simon Jenkins in The Guardian, Matthew Taylor (the Lib Dem one) is off by James Graham and History of the Union by Gavin Whenman