Recent comments



Until a day or two ago, few people in Britain were aware of a new Bill before parliament which, if passed, will give Ministers the power to enact new laws, primary legislation, on their own account without the inconvenience of having to get them approved by either House of what used to be our legislature — and they will also enjoy the power under the Bill to amend or even repeal existing legislation.  If they get away with this, they will get away with anything.  It represents the final stage in the process under which the executive has steadily gained complete control of the legislature. Once again we may have to look to an undemocratic, wholly nominated House of Lords to protect our constitution against the assaults of a rapacious and omnivorous government.  It’s true that the Bill imposes certain limits on ministers’ powers to enact new legislation or amend existing laws, and that it requires ministers to lay an explanatory Order before parliament when exercising the proposed new powers:  but it remains a wholly unconstitutional and unacceptable piece of work which parliament should throw out with anger and contempt.

Attention was first drawn to this extraordinary development in a couple of short blog items on 7 February, followed by a longer and more analytical piece in Owen’s Musings the following day.   It was a full week later, on 15 February 2006, that the alarm was sounded for the first time (as far as I can discover) in the national media by Daniel Finkelstein, in his Times column of that day.  The following day the Times carried an anxious letter about the Bill from six distinguished Cambridge law professors: we may hope that the debate and protests will now take off and that the government will be forced to think again.

I have sent the following message to Daniel Finkelstein to congratulate him on his pioneering role in this affair and to note the interesting time-lag between the blogosphere and the national media:

Dear Daniel Finkelstein,

Congratulations on breaking the news at national level of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill scandal in your Times article of 15 February.  The letter in today’s Times
from the six Cambridge law professors amply justifies your concerns and
should help to raise awareness of what is about to happen to our

This is just to draw your attention to a piece about the Bill
published on 8 February in a blog (my son’s, as it happens!) which
attracted some bloggers’ attention — see the comments following Owen
Barder’s original post.   In fact the alarm had been raised on the
previous day in another blog, and one more again, as the links in Owen’s piece confirm.  Yet another blog suggests a different angle on the issue.

This seems to me an interesting example of the time-lag between an
issue being broken and aired in the blogosphere and its appearance
rather later in the national media.  I wonder to what extent the
political commentators such as yourself monitor the blogosphere, or at
any rate the livelier and more alert political blogs (such as Owen Barder’s and my own!) for leads to news of fresh horrors emerging from Whitehall and Westminster?

I am putting a copy of this message on my own blog, partly to make the
useful links in it more widely available and partly as a tribute to
you for getting this out into the open.  As you said in your own
article, why on earth has this not been all over the front pages for

Yours appreciatively,

Brian Barder
16 Feb 06

As a minor tail-piece: we should savour and store away this latest misuse of the word ‘reform’ in the title of the Bill (the "Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill"), as if this attack on democratic parliamentary process can properly be described as a ‘reform’.  In the same way, the assault on the comprehensive principle in education is described as ‘educational reform’ and the proposal to change the electoral system so as to give the Liberal Democrats the permanent power to decide whether the prime minister shall be the Tory or Labour leader is described, even more widely, as ‘electoral reform’.  There’s something Orwellian about this. 


A selection of pictures from our Caribbean cruise, November 2005. Click on the picture or the caption to see some more, and then click ‘prev’, or ‘next’, or ‘View as slideshow’.  Pictures are of the Azores, Antigua, Tortola (BVI), St Lucia, Grenada, Barbados and Madeira.  All the Caribbean pictures are on pages 1 to 5 on Flickr.

A (fairly light-hearted) diary of this cruise is in two parts, Part 1 and Part 2.


Levy Barder

Levy Barder was Harry’s father, and so Brian’s grandfather. (Click here for Jane’s up-to-date account of Harry and his family, including Levy.) 

Incidentally, this photograph has been uploaded here from the admirable web-based photograph album application Flickr, where you can see not only the picture of Levy but also many of my other (mostly unrelated) pictures too.  Just click on the picture, or on the title under it. 


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing. It seems you can look at some family photographs of mine by visiting
– although why on earth anyone should want to….

How we celebrated a family anniversary by the seaside in Brighton in August 2004 in the rain…..

A Seaside Celebration
Originally uploaded by Brian B.

See photos here

For a couple of years now my wife and I and two of our three adult offspring (hardly ‘children’), with a friend of one of them, have sought refuge from the forced jollification of the English Christmas (those paper hats and crackers, being pressured to hug strangers) and its ferocious costs (special ‘Christmas menus’ from mid-November onwards at £30 a head or more for luke-warm turkey swamped in glutinous gravy) by assembling somewhere pleasant and European-continental: recently Lille, and the much underrated Ouistreham. This time we went to Sitges, just down the coast from Barcelona in Spain, not because it happens to be one of the chief gay centres of Europe but because it’s a delightful place, especially perhaps in winter when its long luxurious beaches are empty, there are few Barcelona day-trippers thronging its shops and restaurants and museums, and yet most of its numerous restaurants and cafés are open – and serving mainly delicious Spanish food, especially of course sea-food, at remarkably modest prices. And no paper hats.



While the snow was delivering a white Christmas in many parts of Britain, thanks presumably to global ‘warming’, we were sitting outside pleasant sea-front restaurants in Sitges eating prawns and paella and wearing short-sleeved open-necked shirts (or the female equivalent) with hats to protect our heads from the hot sun. And it’s only half an hour’s train trip to the glories and eccentricities of Barcelona.

I haven’t yet got around to putting any of my Sitges photographs on my website[1], but that doesn’t matter because my daughter’s vastly superior pictures of Sitges from an earlier visit are already available on the Web at (and she has kindly agreed to my advertising it here). If you don’t yet know Sitges, try it – but not, please, at Christmas-time. We want to have it to ourselves again then, in case we decide to go back this year.

[1] Postscript: my Sitges pictures are now here: have a look!

6 January 2005

See photos here

Crock of gold at the end of Brighton pier Posted by Hello

Condi Rice’s note to Mr Bush: 28 June 2004 Posted by Hello

See photos here