Monday, 29 June 2009

Bexley Conservatives throw out Ian Clement

Ian Clement may have resigned last week as Boris Johnson's deputy mayor, but his troubles are far from over.

From the Bexleyheath and Crayford Conservatives' website:

At a meeting held on 25th June of the Bexleyheath and Crayford Conservative Association Executive Council, a unanimous decision was taken to immediately suspend the Association Membership of Ian Clement in light of recent reports in the press about his conduct.

The process of formally terminating his membership has begun. By the terms of our constitution, this will require a special meeting of the Executive Council, whereby fourteen days notice must be given to Mr Clement.

Last week, the London Assembly's Business Management Committee heard that Boris Johnson had been signing off Ian Clement's expenses since April.

Mike Tuffrey, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on the London Assembly said,

Serious questions remain about why Boris Johnson personally approved these claims when staff knew there was a history of irregularities. The Mayor now needs to come and explain himself to the Assembly.

Crossposted from Liberal Democrat Voice, an independent, collaborative website run by Liberal Democrat activists. Helen is a contributing editor at the site.

Inexperienced officers in protest frontline - never again, say MPs

An inquiry by MPs into the 1 April G20 protests has concluded that untrained police officers must never again be placed in the frontline of public protest.

From the Guardian:

The conclusion from the Commons home affairs select committee inquiry into the G20 protests of April 1 follows admissions from senior Metropolitan police officers that some inexperienced officers, who were clearly quite scared, used "inappropriate force".

The report by the cross-party group of MPs says they "cannot condone the use of untrained, inexperienced officers on the frontline of a public protest under any circumstances".

The inquiry also calls for the police to seriously consider whether they can continue with the use of tactics such as kettling – containing protesters behind cordons for a sustained period of time – and the controlled use of force against those who appear hostile without first holding a public debate over the future of policing public protests.

The report includes sections on Relations with the Media, Communications between Protesters and Police, Use of Close Containment, The Use of Force and The Use of Tasers. It does not comment on the death of Ian Tomlinson, instead summarising the policing of the G20 protests as a "remarkably successful operation" and making only oblique reference to "a few high-profile incidents."

The report also says that, given the use of untrained and inexperienced officers "in such a highly combustible atmosphere", the operation's success was down to luck.

You can read the full report here.

Also see Libby Purves in the Times on how policing civilians is a subtle and unresearched science.

As the Committee Chairman Keith Vaz said,

The basic principle that the police must remember is that protestors are not criminals - the police's doctrine must remain focused on allowing protest to happen peacefully.

Crossposted from Liberal Democrat Voice, an independent, collaborative website run by Liberal Democrat activists. Helen is a contributing editor at the site.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Ian Clement quits as deputy mayor of London

Ian Clement, the deputy mayor of London, resigned today following the misuse of his corporate credit card.

Ian Clement is the third of Boris Johnson's deputy mayors to resign or be pushed since Johnson came to office in May 2008.

From the Guardian:

The mayor's office announced that Clement, the deputy mayor for government and external relations, resigned earlier today following the discovery of further "discrepancies" less than a week after published receipts detailed how Clement had used the card for personal items over a matter of months.

The exact nature of the "discrepancies" have not been made public. But it emerged separately that Clement claimed money back for a business dinner on 5 November 2008 with the Tory leader of Barnet council, Mike Freer, which appears not to have taken place.

Freer's office issued a brief statement today to confirm that on the day in question he was at a funeral in Inverness.

Clement's departure brings to three the number of deputy mayors who have resigned or been forced to quit since Johnson came to office in May 2008, alongside two other mayoral appointments.

Today's revelations are particularly embarrassing since Johnson came to office on a promise to clean up the mayoral regime, cut waste and deliver value for taxpayers' money.

When Boris Johnson proclaimed, "The more deputy mayors the merrier" at his first Mayor's Question Time, was he talking just in terms of sheer turnover?

"I may have sprayed a few titles around," he said. Did he expect to need a few spares?

Crossposted from Liberal Democrat Voice, an independent, collaborative website run by Liberal Democrat activists. Helen is a contributing editor at the site.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Arrested for requesting a policeman's badge number

From the Guardian today, shocking footage of two women being arrested at Kingsnorth climate camp in Kent last year.

The women had asked police officers who were not displaying their badge numbers, to identify themselves. They were arrested for "obstructing a police officer."

The video, made by police surveillance officers, shows an officer holding one woman by the neck and the other woman being laid face down on the ground before having her legs bound.

Emily Apple and Val Swain were held in custody for four days but all charges against the women were later dropped.

They have complained to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and investigators will review the video as evidence.

Crossposted from Liberal Democrat Voice, an independent, collaborative website run by Liberal Democrat activists. Helen is a contributing editor at the site.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Which party's winning on the web?

PR Week has a piece comparing the online strategies of the UK's three main political parties. With a nod or two towards Obama's use of social media, the article presents a report card on each party, compiled by their panel of experts.

Each party is examined on its approach, key players, leader and the involvement of MPs and grassroots.

The Conservatives are found to have "attracted the most plaudits so far," while Labour's "command and control mentality" is said to be hampering their efforts.

The verdict on the Liberal Democrats is that our "overall understanding of social media is impressive" but that grassroots efforts could be strengthened by better design/integration and more effective public engagement. Special mentions are given to Steve Webb and Lynne Featherstone, while it's thought that more can be made of Nick Clegg and Vince Cable.

Although funding remains a critical issue, [Mark] Pack must be replaced. The decision to split his job into three is structurally sound but may result in less intellectual vision.

The party also has to pay more attention to the basics of functionality and design, and it needs to integrate its tools better. Meanwhile, a focus on local activism should not obscure a continuing requirement to engage with the general public better.

Simply put, the Lib Dems need to be more tenacious and adventurous online.

Is this a fair picture? Are we outward-looking enough with our social media efforts? What should our vision for the future be?

You can read the full PR Week article here.

Crossposted from Liberal Democrat Voice, an independent, collaborative website run by Liberal Democrat activists. Helen is a contributing editor at the site.

Friday, 12 June 2009

How to opt out of the mobile phone directory

A new directory enquiries service is being launched on 18 June. The 118 800 database has millions of private mobile phone numbers, including those bought from various companies' marketing departments.

From the service's FAQ page:
How did you get the mobile numbers?

Our mobile phone directory is made up from various sources. Generally it comes from companies who collect mobile telephone numbers from customers in the course of doing business and have been given permission by the customers to share those numbers.

Your mobile phone number may be on the database without you realising it, and children's numbers may also be held, particularly if a parent is managing the account for them.

If you don't want to be contacted via the service, it's up to you to opt out. This will take up to four weeks to take effect.

There are three ways to opt out:

• Visit the 118 800 website

• Text the letter E to 118800 from your mobile phone

• Call 0800 138 6263 (although, not surprisingly, this number is currently experiencing high volumes of calls).

Read more on the privacy issues at the Register.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

London commuting during the tube strike

I love this interactive map from the BBC, to show how London commuters travelled during today's tube strike.

You can add your coloured "pin" to the map, to show the mode of transport you used. At the moment "walking, cycling or scooter" are lumped together, as are various types of public transport.

It would be much more useful to show these separately - sure: walking and cycling are both foot-powered, but are very different ways to travel!

The facility to upload photos is a nice touch.

This is one of the first times the BBC have done a map in this way - they'd welcome your feedback here.

UPDATE 11th June:

Silvia from BBC Have your Say saw my blog post and tweeted to say thanks. Which was nice.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Londoners urged to "Bike the strike"

From the London Cycling Campaign:
"Tube strike? Don’t stress, cycle," say the London Cycling Campaign.
LCC is urging commuters to beat the stress of the possible tube strike by cycling to work next week.

Cyclists are being encouraged to band together on Wednesday and Thursday to form 'BikeTubes', groups of like-minded commuters cycling from tube stations to central London.

"Biketube" routes have been chosen for an enjoyable, low-traffic ride, so it's a great way to get started.

See the Biketubes page for route details.