Wednesday, May 30, 2012

At Oxford University's Department of Engineering Science, May 24, for the 38th Maurice Lubbock Memorial Lecture on LONDON 2012 - Engineering Success. Professor Guy Houldsby, Head of the Dapartment, is on my left, and the Lecturer Howard Shiplee CBE, Executive Director, Laing O'Rourke, on my right.
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Monday, May 28, 2012

Committee Room 14: Medical Justice meeting
Photographs courtesy of Edward Goldwyn
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At the Medical Justice meeting to launch The Second Torture
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Sunday, May 27, 2012

The week

Monday received a large delegation of Bangladesh National Party UK members who presented a petition. I forwarded it to the Foreign Secretary asking if he would take up the human rights matters they raised with the Bangladesh government, Their three main concerns are extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and the conduct of the war crimes trials, all of which have been taken up by international NGOs and lawyers.

At question time I had asked the Minister, David Howell, if we might suggest to the Bangladesh government that they issue an invitation to the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, and he said he would discuss this with colleagues.

Tuesday I recorded a broadcast for Channel 4 TV for transmission that evening, on the report by Medical Justice of the treatment of asylum-seekers who claim they were tortured. MJ showed conclusively that Rules 34 and 35 of the Immigration Rulles, which lay down the procedures for checking and acting on torture claims, are being widely ignored.

Wednesday a meeting with Abdul Malek, BNP convener and colleagues

Thursday, to Oxford to chair the meeting of the Maurice Lubbock Memorial Fund trustees, followed by the Open Day at the Engineering School, and the Maurice Lubbock Memorial Lecture by Howard Shiplee CBE of Laing O'Rourke on "LONDON 2012 - Engineering Success" The completion on time and within budget of the vast collection of engineering projects required for the Olympic Games shows that we can do it, with the right management. We have the engineers, and a skilled and able workforce. Lets hope the Government will  get stuck into other large infrastructure projects as Nick Clegg foreshadowed in his Financial Times article the other day, see

Friday, meeting with Sean Risdale and Matthew Brindley of the Irish Travellers Movement in Britain to discuss the situation at Dale Farm.
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Lindsay's birthday dinner May 26
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The Maurice Lubbock Trustees:
Dr M Jones, Sir John Lucas-Tooth, the Hon Lyulph Lubbock
Dr Alastair Howatson, Lord Avebury
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Maurice Lubbock Memorial Fund Trustees meeting May 25
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In the Garden

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Monday, May 21, 2012

More medical

Dr L confirms that my disorder is primary myelofibrosis, see

The longer description is "Myeloproliferative disorder/Myelofibrosis cMPL W515L mutation"

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lindsay at the exhibition to mark the centenary of the birth of her mother Pamela Hansford Johnson, in the Clapham Library, which she organised. Pamela was born in Clapham and lived there for the first decade of her life. She wrote 27 novels, some plays, and hundreds of literary articles. Her books have just been republished.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

The local elections

We have lost many good councillors, and clearly the electors are handing out an equal share of the blame to Liberal Democrat candidates as to Tories for the way Messrs Cameron and Osborne are going about the task of eliminating the deficit. We have been given no credit for mitigating the worst effects of Tory-inspired legislation on health, welfare and the justice system, or for LibDem-inspired ideas like the Pupil Premium and the reduction of taxes on low-paid workers, because people aren't aware of the role we have played in the Coalition. We have tried to explain it, but the media aren't interested.

What the Party needs in the second half of this Parliament is an easily understood objective that distinguishes us from the Tories, a principle that we will apply to all the decisions we have to make on Government business from now on. As I have said here before, there is plenty of evidence [] that in more equal societies:

  • People live longer, a smaller proportion of children die in infancy and self-rated health is better
  • They  are far less likely to experience mental illness.
  • They are less likely to use illegal drugs.
  • Children do better at school in more equal societies.
  • A lower proportion of people are imprisoned
  • Obesity is less common
  • There is more social mobility
  • Communities are more cohesive and people trust each other more
  • Homicide rates are lower and children experience less violence
  • Teenage motherhood is less  common
  • Unicef measures of child wellbeing are better
    Therefore, we should apply this test to all Government measures: do they promote greater equality, or greater inequality,and we should support or oppose them on that basis. The abolition of the 50p tax rate, for instance, should be opposed, as should any further reductions in benefit.  We should promote measures to get people back into paid employment, particularly when they concentrate on helping people at the bottom of the income scale, such as the building of affordable dwellings, and in order to compensate for the additional spending, we should increase taxes on the rich and on the agents of self-harm - alcohol, tobacco, salt, fats and fast food.

    LibDem policy has always been to create equality of opportunity. Since the evidence shows that greater equality means greater equality of opportunity, we must believe in promoting equality itself, and in doing so, we can mark out a distinctive territory that will allow us to escape being tarred with the Tory brush.