Wednesday, 31 December 2008
Thursday, 18 December 2008
Have a merry Christmas - and I look forward to welcoming you back on December 31st.
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
Over Christmas why not listen to some of their humour? Go to http://www.capsteps.com/ and listen to Christmas numbers such as "Why's the Army Frisking Santa Claus?"; "Jingo All The Way".
Monday, 15 December 2008
Sunday, 14 December 2008
The current Bishop told peers in his maiden speech -
"In the aftermath of the “Blackadder”television series, there are always perils for the bishops of Bath and Wells. I am constantly reminded of the alleged activities of one of my predecessors as a baby eater, as well as doing unmentionable things with a red hot poker. Entering your Lordships’ House has proved no exception, and the greeting from the Doorkeeper on my first day referring to these matters was capped only by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark seeing my five week-old granddaughter arrive and remarking, “The Bishop has brought his own lunch”".
Saturday, 13 December 2008
In the USA the mess left over from last week needs to be sorted out!
Friday, 12 December 2008
The 20 MPs successful in the ballot were as follows (in order):
Mrs Cheryl Gillan
Mr David Heath
Mr Lindsay Hoyle
Dr Evan Harris
Mr Peter Ainsworth
Mrs Jacqui Lait
Sir Paul Beresford
Mr Stephen Crabb
Mrs Caroline Spelman
Mr Jeremy Browne
Mr Jim Cunningham
Mr Tim Boswell
Mr Russell Brown
Mr Charles Kennedy
Mr Michael Mates
Standing Order 14
(4) Private Members’ bills shall have precedence over
government business on thirteen Fridays in each session to be
appointed by the House.
(5) On and after the eighth Friday on which private Members’
bills have precedence, such bills shall be arranged on the order
paper in the following order—
consideration of Lords amendments, third readings,
consideration of reports not already entered upon,
adjourned proceedings on consideration, bills in
progress in committee, bills appointed for committee,
and second readings.
(6) The ballot for private Members’ bills shall be held on the
second Thursday on which the House shall sit during the
session under arrangements to be made by the Speaker, and
each bill shall be presented by the Member who has given
notice of presentation or by another Member named by him in
writing to the Clerks at the Table, at the commencement of
public business on the fifth Wednesday on which the House
shall sit during the session.
Thursday, 11 December 2008
Now's the time to be planning your own party to coincide with and celebrate the occasion!
Below are two videos of an inspirational Inauguration.
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
Monday, 8 December 2008
There was no mention in the Queen's Speech about a full bill being introduced this session, but the Queen did say "My Government will continue to take forward proposals on constitutional renewal, including strengthening the role of Parliament and other measures." Baroness Royall, Leader of the House of Lords told peers in the subsequent debate "We will continue to work on measures aimed at improving our democracy and our constitution."
The draft bill had six parts, each dealing with issues raised in the Government's Governance of Britain programme. Key matters include abolishing the provisions covered by sections 132 to 138 of the Serious Organised Crime & Police Act 2005 concerning demonstrations in the vicinity of Parliament; The role of the Attorney General; the removal of the involvement of the Lord Chancellor in lower level judicial appointments; parliamentary consideration of treaties before ratification; and the placing of the Civil Service on a statutory basis - with codes of conduct.
Sunday, 7 December 2008
Saturday, 6 December 2008
A second "lame duck session" is expected in Congress. Details of the House arrangements can be found at http://democraticleader.house.gov/docUploads/27WeeklyLeader12_08_08.pdf?CFID=7017212&CFTOKEN=43085550. The Senate calendar for Monday is available at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=senate_calendar&docid=sc001.pdf
Friday, 5 December 2008
The purpose of the Center is to provide the public with an informative starting point for tours of the Capitol - but also to provide more facilities - such as an exhibition hall; gift shops; and orientation theatres.
A new website is available about the Center - and visiting Congress - http://www.visitthecapitol.gov/
Thursday, 4 December 2008
The paper begins which some useful definitions and explanations of the Royal Prerogative.
The Paper is available at
Most Gracious Sovereign, We, Your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom and Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
A timetable of events is available at - http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/occasions/stateopening/timetable.cfm
Monday, 1 December 2008
Friday, 28 November 2008
Thursday, 27 November 2008
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Further details of the House and the Senate - which together make up the Virginia General Assembly - can be found at http://legis.state.va.us/
Monday, 24 November 2008
1 a review of how the UK economy is performing
2 forecasts of how the UK economy will perform in the future
3 details of any changes to taxation.
Sunday, 23 November 2008
Saturday, 22 November 2008
At Westminster it is expected to be the last week before the 2007-08 Session ends. Prorogation is expected on Thursday. The new session will be opened on December 3rd.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer will deliver his Pre Budget Report on Monday.
The calendar of parliamentary business is available at http://services.parliament.uk/calendar/2008/11/24/week.html
Friday, 21 November 2008
Thursday, 20 November 2008
"My Lords, I am at one with HG Wells, who said:
“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race”.
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
Monday, 17 November 2008
Examples include the convention that a Monarch will always sign a bill passed by both Houses of Parliament; and that Ministers will sit in either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.
A Joint Committee of Both Houses published a report on conventions of the UK Parliament. It is well worth reading - http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt200506/jtselect/jtconv/265/265.pdf. Of particular use to students will be the evidence given by the academics - Lord Norton of Louth, Professor of Government, Hull University, Professor Anthony Bradley, Professor Emeritus of Constitutional Law, University of Edinburgh, and Dr Meg Russell, Senior Research Fellow, Constitution Unit, University College London. This is available on pages 119 onwards at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt200506/jtselect/jtconv/265/265ii.pdf
An interesting academic article on the subject can be found at http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FCLJ%2FCLJ64_01%2FS0008197305006823a.pdf&code=3bfe8a864930e9690e528452fc6608c7
Sunday, 16 November 2008
Saturday, 15 November 2008
At Westminster Parliament continues to move towards the conclusion of the session by debating the final stages of a number of bills. On Tuesday the Lords will debate the Constitution Committee's report and follow-up on Relations between the executive, the judiciary and Parliament. Thursday will see a Commons debate on organ donation.
The week's calendar is available at http://services.parliament.uk/calendar/2008/11/17/week.html
Information on the Inauguration Day is available at http://inaugural.senate.gov/
Friday, 14 November 2008
Thursday, 13 November 2008
that in future the Usual Channels should agree on a member or members to nominate, and that the Leader of the House would then seek the approval of the House by tabling a motion in the following terms:
"The Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) to move that this House approves the nomination of Lord/Baroness [name] as a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee."
that there should in future be a presumption that ISC reports will be debated, subject to a decision of the Usual Channels in each case; and that the presumption should be that annual reports should be debated in Grand Committee and that special reports should be debated either in Grand Committee or in the Chamber.
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Monday, 10 November 2008
Sunday, 9 November 2008
Saturday, 8 November 2008
Both Houses in Westminster are sitting. Monday will see opposition debates initiated by the Liberal Democrats in the House of Commons. There will be a Commons debate on Heathrow Airport on Tuesday. Both Houses will be completing the final stages of legislation as the end of the session approaches. Full details can be found at - http://services.parliament.uk/calendar/2008/11/10/week.html
Details of current Commons committee inquiries are available at http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/Current%20Inquiries.pdf.
Details of Lords committees are available at http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/LordsWeeklyBulletin.pdf
Friday, 7 November 2008
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
Thank you for visiting this blog during the US elections. I've very much enjoyed writing the brief pieces on key races - and particularly interviewing people for the videos of the last few days. My visit to Virginia has been a fantastic experience for me - and I hope you have enjoyed my English perspective on what has been happening.
This blog will continue to describe and explain the ways of Washington and Westminster. I very much hope that you will keep coming back to Washminster - interesting times lie ahead. Do send me your comments - or just get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The result is now clear - this has indeed been an historic election. Congratulations to President-Elect Obama, and all those who helped elect him. It has been a real privilege to spend the last few days with people who worked so hard to achieve this victory - I will forever treasure the memories - and look forward to continuing the friendships formed and deepened over the last week.
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Fairfax County, VA: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/eb/returns.htm
Alameda County, CA: http://www.acgov.org/rov/current_election/index.htm
Multnomah County, OR: http://mcelections.org/2008-11/results.shtml
Travis County, TX: http://www.co.travis.tx.us/county_clerk/election/20081104/results.asp
Alexandria, VA: http://alexandriava.gov/uploadedFiles/elections/info/2008NovFullUnofficialSample(1).pdf
Fairfax County, VA ( VA 11 district): http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/eb/OS_Sample%20Ballot%20Style3.pdf
Northampton, MA: http://www.northamptonma.gov/cityclerk/uploads/listWidget/6771/Specimen%20Ballot-November%204,%202008.pdf
Rugby, ND: http://www.co.pierce.wa.us/xml/abtus/ourorg/aud/Elections/Archives/gen08/vpweb.pdf (pages 13-16)
Monday, 3 November 2008
"will be important in a British context as a test of the Government's standing and of the strength of the "Brown bounce".
Weeks ago, many were predicting a reprise to the Glasgow East by-election, in which the SNP overturned a thumping Labour majority. A similar defeat in Glenrothes was being described as a possible trigger for a Cabinet revolt against Gordon Brown – the long-awaited denouement to a calamitous year for the Prime Minister.
How long ago that seems. While all bets are still off concerning the results of Thursday's vote, the tide is flowing Labour's way for now. Mr Brown must believe Labour has a good chance of winning, or he would not have risked a second visit to the seat last Friday, hammering home his message that an independent government in Edinburgh would have lacked the resources to shield Scotland from the world financial crisis.
Like the Tories, Alex Salmond's SNP has had a bad few weeks in "narrative" terms. Talk of an arc of prosperity running through Iceland has been held up to ridicule. It did not help Mr Salmond that a government minister in Oslo has asked the SNP to stop dragging Norway into arguments over Scottish independence.
But voters are unpredictable, and Glenrothes electors may yet revolt against the idea that the London establishment is patronising the Scots. If so, the SNP will be encouraged and all the old familiar question marks hanging over Mr Brown's leadership will return. After all, if Labour holds on, it will hardly rank as a political miracle. Labour held the seat in 2005 with a majority of more than 10,000, while the SNP needs a swing of 14 per cent to win. But in these febrile times, any victory achieved by Labour now – even in such a rock-sold Scottish seat – is bound to be hailed as proof of Mr Brown's political resurrection."
Sunday, 2 November 2008
Today I've been out in Alexandria - trying (successfully each time!) to persuade supporters to let us replace their yard signs (16 inches by 26 inches) by bigger ones - eight foot by four foot! Later we went along the medians (central reservation) of one of the main streets putting up ordinary size yard signs. A deposit is required for the licence to put signs there (which is forfeited if any of the rules - and they are quite precise and complex in terms of size of sign and how many feet from official signs). I helped make Eisenhower Avenue very decorative.
Saturday, 1 November 2008
This morning I went to the farmers market in the old town of Alexandria. I recorded this video at 8.30 am.
Of course it's also - finally - Election Day in the USA. The final push is now on - so it will be a busy weekend for political activists around the country.
In Parliament, both Houses work on as normal. The calendar is available at http://services.parliament.uk/calendar/2008/11/03/week.html. On Tuesday the order which will bring the local and European elections together on the same day will be considered by the Lords.
On my way back to the home of my friends - I stopped at the table set up by the Democrats at Huntington Metro. In fact there were tables set up at every Metro station I went to! This morning we are off to the Farmers' Market in Alexandria - and I'm told a heavy political presence is expected.
Yesterday I spent time ringing up undecided or infrequent voters - still a success rate (that is - actually talking to the person rather than their answering service) of one in six. When I did get through responses were very positive for Obama - I even signed up volunteers - which in years of 'telephone canvassing' in the UK has only happened once - it happened 3 times yesterday!
The Department's new website is still in the early stages of development, but can be accessed at
Friday, 31 October 2008
Thursday, 30 October 2008
Early voting is in full swing. In Fairfax County, Virginia you can vote 'in person absentee' from 15th October to 1st November - 8am to 8pm at the Office of Elections and 1pm to 8pm at satellite locations on Mondays to Fridays. On Saturday the times are 9am-5pm at all locations. In Virginia you have to have a valid reason (though the reasons are wide and fairly easy to meet). Some states allow absentee voting as of right.
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
In today's Washington Post there are articles comparing Obama and McCain's proposals on Healthcare reform. I have to say, as a British subject - who is diabetic and has a strong family history of heart disease, I'm glad to have the National Health Service. I was diagnosed because I was routinely (and without cost to me) tested by the new doctor I registered with when I moved to Rugby. The government has provided extra money for such testing. My medicines for the condition are provided on prescription (which are free for diabetics). It's reassuring that should I fall victim to serious illness, neither I nor my family would need to worry about the massive cost of treatment. I'm free to choose which doctor to register with,
I'm off later this morning to one of the campaign offices in Arlington
On the flight over I had an interesting chat with a Virginia resident about the forthcoming elections - and the unprecedented interest they had generated. I also took the opportunity to read the newspapers and magazines, plus a detailed opinion poll done by NPR. I recommend having a look at the report and the Powerpoint presentation that goes with it (http://www.greenbergresearch.com/index.php?ID=2271)
I'm now off to bed - and will visit campaigners in the morning.
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
This district covers the southern part of the state, between the 6th district to the west and the 15th district to the east. The 3rd (with Grand Rapids its major town), the 8th (based on Lansing - the State Capital: and the former district of a friend of this blog, Bob Carr) & the 11th district (on the outskirts of Detroit) also share boundaries. This district is the home of Kellogg's "Tony the Tiger" - the cereal giant is a major employer in Battle Creek, the largest city in the district (53,364). Jackson is the second city with 36,316 people. Much of the district consists of small towns and farming communities.
The incumbent is a Republican freshman, Tim Walberg. He is known for his conservative views. In 2006 he raised twenty times more than his Democratic opponent, but won by only 4 percentage points. His website is http://www.walbergforcongress.com/Home.aspx. He is being challenged by Mark Schauer, minority leader of the Michigan state Senate. He is a graduate of Albion College (In my teaching for Educational Programmes Abroad, I met a number of Albion students who came to London to study and intern in Parliament and elsewhere). His website is http://www.markschauer.com/
The Ninth District is on the north western outskirts of Detroit. Congressional Quarterly describes it as "heavily suburban". It is the wealthiest and most-educated district in the state. The major industries are Auto manufacturing, engineering, health care and insurance. Farmington Hills (82,111); Troy (80,959); Rochester Hills (68,825) and Pontiac (66,337) are the largest cities in the district.
The incumbent Republican Joe Knollenberg has been in Congress since 1993, and is one month short of his 75th birthday. Ecomonic hardships, particularly pronounced in the state of Michigan, may cost him his seat. In 2006 he survived by only five percentage points. He is socially conservative - but has voted twice against a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.He has served as an appropriator within Congress. His campaign website is http://www.knollenberg.house.gov/
Gary Peters is the Democratic challenger. A veteran and former state Senator, Mr Peter's has also been a Vice President at both Merrill Lynch and UBS/PaineWebber. His website can be found at http://www.petersforcongress.com/index.asp