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A deafening silence over Rotherham 0

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It’s around 24 hours now since the damning report into sexual exploitation in Rotherham was released. The report is surely one of the most damning reports into social service failure ever published in the UK, and yet the leaders of our major political parties have remained deafeningly silent.

The silence is particularly damning from Miliband, given his party run Rotherham pretty much as a one party state. Labour have 49 of the 63 councillors on Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. Combined with years of documented failures in Labour run Haringey, people deserve to hear why the Labour party think we should continue to trust them with such vital public services

The absence of any comment from the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Opposition, shows a shuddering lack of political leadership across the board.

 

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Rennard kept campaigning whilst under investigation by the Lib Dems 0

In this week’s Independent on Sunday, political editor Jane Merrick and I revealed how Chris Rennard had kept campaigning around the country for Liberal Democrat candidates, while under investigation from the party for claims sexual harassing party activists.

The peer, who denies all the charges, has also been increasingly engaging with members online.

This latest development not only shows his continuing influence in Liberal Democrats, but puts further into question the party’s disciplinary process, and the authority of its leadership.

Read the full story here.

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I got nominated for the Ice Bucket Challenge…. 1

Yesterday my ‘best friend’ (we’ll be having words….) nominated me for the ALS/MND Ice Bucket Challenge. Yup, someone I’ve known since I was 3 years old, holidayed with, and lived with, decided that a suitable celebration of our friendship was to get me to throw a bucket of iced water over myself. My darling sister, generous soul that she is, immediately offered to help me fulfil my nomination.

Sorry to disappoint them, and readers who would no doubt like to see me sopping wet in iced water, but I’m not doing it. I’ve happily already donated (you can do so by texting ICED55 and the amount you want to donate to 70070), but I rather think the whole thing has got ridiculous.

My entire Facebook timeline is filled with people reciting the same script, dunking a bucket of water of their head, then warning people that they nominate ‘you’ve got 24 hours’! 24 hours or what?!

I get the awareness raising point, and it’s why I previously did the no make-up selfie, but something feels a bit different this time around. While the no-make up selfie actually was rather a nice way to bring women together against a female cancer, there is a rather sinister peer pressure angle to all this.

Celebrities are gleefully nominating their famous friends, sports stars are nominating their opponents, and politicians are nominating their political foes. Groups of friends no doubt consider those that don’t accept their nomination as a bit of a killjoy.

Hahaha George W. Bush nominated Bill Clinton. Lol, Andre Villas Boas nominated Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy, who fired him. Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs nominated the ref that got them mixed up – geddit?! Then there’s also the weird wet t-shirt element too.

Amongst all of this, the real reason for the donations has been lost.

ALS, or motor-neurone disease, is an awful condition. Once someone has it, their condition deteriorates, with symptoms such as difficulty moving limbs and respiratory problems, until eventually it kills you. Obviously care for, and research into, such a condition is expensive. It’s obviously great that the increased awareness has meant that £48 million has been donated in less than a month.

So please donate to Motor Neurone Disease Association in the UK on their JustGiving page, on their website, or on the text number I listed earlier, but don’t bother chucking a bucket of water of yourself.

 

 

 

 

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1,409 same sex weddings in England and Wales since law change 0

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The Office for National Statistics have, for the first time, released provisional data for the number of same sex marriages in England Wales. They reveal that there have been 1409 same sex marriages since the law changed on 29 March 2014. 796 marriages were between women, and 613 were between men.

June proved the most popular month for same sex couples to get married so far, with 498 taking place. 95 marriages happened in the first 3 days they were allowed!

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Rennard’s readmission shows that the Lib Dems haven’t changed at all 1

Last night, the Lib Dems announced they were bringing to an end any disciplinary proceedings into former Chief Executive Lord Rennard, who was accused of sexual harassment by party staff and activists. In a statement, party leader Nick Clegg said:

The Liberal Democrats have taken a long, hard look in the mirror since these allegations were made last year and I am confident that the party has changed.

How such a statement was written with a straight face, I will never know.

That Rennard will be allowed to return as a Lib Dem member and working peer shows the party has not changed at all. The old guard are still very much in charge, looking out for their mate, living on perceived past glories.

At every juncture the serious evidence put forward by Rennard’s accusers has been deemed credible, yet at those same junctures no real action has been taken. Instead, everything has become bogged down in a process so contrived I doubt that even those involved really understand what is going on.

Funnily enough, a committee of party members has exonerated a man who still wields real influence. As James Kirkup so brilliantly points out, it could only happen to the Lib Dems.

The worry now must be that Rennard will return to ‘active duty’, helping Lib Dems campaign in 2015. Party President Tim Farron apparently texted one of the accusers saying this wouldn’t happen, and clearly has the best of intentions. After recent events though, nothing can be taken for granted.

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Introducing the House of Cards show 0

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It probably won’t surprise you at all to learn that I am a massive, massive fan of House Cards. I was then really excited when I was invited to become a co-house of the British Tech Network’s House of Cards show.

I talk every week with American podcasters Jackie Hern and Roberto Villegas about one episode, and we compare it back to the original UK version too.

You can watch or listen to all our shows here.

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Israeli Ambassador goes to Bradford 1

George Galloway’s Israel Free Zone doesn’t seem to be working very well.

After the Bradford MP’s rant, declaring Israeli’s not welcome in his city, some Israelis took their passports and flags and headed up.

Now, Israel’s Ambassador to the UK Daniel Taub has gone to Bradford too.

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According to the local press, it seems councillors aren’t too happy with vile statements being made by Galloway either. The Yorkshire Post reports:

Leaders of Bradford Council yesterday told the visiting Israeli Ambassador that “ridiculous and damaging” statements by George Galloway did not represent mainstream opinion.

Not wanting to be left out, The Bradford Telegraph and Argus report that David Ward chipped in too:

Bradford East MP David Ward tweeted saying the ambassador’s visit was “a good opportunity to let him know the strength of feeling here about the Israeli attack on Gaza.