Monday, June 25, 2007

EU Constitution

The original treaty proposing an EU Constitution was negotiated by the Irish during their Presidency of the EU (the Irish media at the time even referred to it as the Dublin treaty, hoping it would lead to Dublin taking its place amongst the other European Cities with a treaty named after it, such as Amsterdam, Maastricht, Nice and Rome).

So it's interesting to see that according to the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, "“The substance of what was agreed in 2004 has been retained" and “Really what is gone is the term constitution."

So although the Telegraph is wrong that the implications of Ireland having a referendum implies anything for the UK situation (Ireland always has referendums on the EU - they'd have a referendum if there was a treaty mandating the sort of chocolate biscuits to be served at the Council of Europe meetings), it does seem that the Irish have backed their main point.

This is clearly a disgraceful attempt by the EU to ignore the democratically expressed will of the French and Dutch people on the treaty. More to the point, the wiggling by Brown and Blair about their election promises is basically saying "we don't need to vote on the duck any more, because we're now calling it a chicken".

Which is a pretty good analogy for the two PMs.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Sexism and the Apprentice

The process for getting Brentwood's most popular job is under fire over the questions asked of the two female candidates. Specifically, Katie Hopkins and Kristina Grimes were both quizzed over their family commitments.

Liberal Democrat women's spokesperson Lorely Burt ... "This is a classic example of the kind of casual discrimination still faced by working women every day."

and from Brendan Barber from the TUC said:

"had last night been a genuine interview, Kristina and Katie could have had real grounds for complaint against Sir Alan".

Except for one minor problem. Kristina was put through to the final, and it was (according to the show) Katie who chose not to join her there. It's a bit difficult to claim the decision not to "hire" you was sexist, when you were in fact hired.

Now, it is certainly the case that we didn't see the male candidates being quizzed over their family commitments, but two of them didn't have families and the one that did lived in Loughton, which is practically next door to Brentwood anyway.

More to the point - it was Kristina who raised the subject of her family commitments - "my son has grown up, and now I have the freedom to do what I really want and to take the extra risks" is a fair paraphrase of one of the things she said during the interview.

So this leaves us with Katie - now, I could be wrong, but as a married man with a young child, I would expect that if I were to interview for a job in Manchester (or maybe even Devon) then the employer might well ask about the impact of such a move on my family. This is a relevant concern to the employer - if my wife and kids are not happy with the idea of moving to a different area, this could have a significant impact on the amount of time I'll spend working for them. The idea that this is not of concern to an employer is ridiculous - he or she should be allowed to ask questions about the impact of relocation on the candidate's family, regardless of the gender of the candidate. Katie was the only candidate with a family that would have had to relocate - the questions didn't seem particularly outrageous to me.

Remember also, that earlier in the series, a candidate was fired because his family commitments were preventing him working effectively.

As for the quotes - it does seem it's yet another case of politicans seeing a bandwagon and trying to jump on.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Talking of reality tv....

During last night's Apprentice, Katie Hopkins remarked she wasn't sure if she was ready to uproot her family to move from Devon to Brentwood.

There is a God.

MPs and bandwagons

So, a Big Brother contestant has been thrown out of the house for using the n word. From all accounts, Channel 4 acted relatively swiftly - program makers consulted station bosses, and she was removed from the house at 3:30 this morning.

Keith Vaz is an MP who disappeared from sight in the days when being caught out breaching codes of conduct was actually a bar from being in Tony Blair's cabinet, only to reemerge during the Shilpa Shetty controversy earlier this year. Naturally he was asked for a quote.

"After the Ofcom decision I thought Channel 4 had learnt all the lessons it was possible to learn.

"But I'm afraid they haven't and there's more to be looked at in this whole sorry episode," he added.

Um, what exactly were Channel 4 supposed to do? Drown the offending house mate in the Big Brother garden pond? Throw her into a vat of boiling oil? Make her move to the house next door with only Jade Goody and Jo O'Meara for company? (Actually, come to think of it......)

It seems to me they have learnt the lesson - the housemate offended, and the first anyone heard of the controversy was when she was booted off the show. Quite else they could have done is beyond me.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Funny is.....

when you get told off by the wife for describing the London Olympic logo in terms of Lisa Simpson doing something rude, and then Newsnight ask "is it Lisa Simpson doing something rude" in their intro.