All entries for April 2005

April 28, 2005

John Cross disciplinary: the saga continues

Writing about web page

The second part of the 'case for defence' in the John Cross disciplinary case is now online and I have to say that although Simon Lucas has said that we have only seen one side of the story, from what I have seen of his side of the story there still appears to be no case to answer. The defence, on the other hand, point out several very important factors which bear repeating:

  • The first two allegations against John Cross concern anonymously submitted questions which, even if they did constitute an allegation (which seems unlikely), cannot and should not be used as evidence against him. And, in addition, their use as evidence constitutes a slur on Benny Spooner, the former Chair of Council, who permitted the second one to be asked.
  • The allegation concerning the statement at the AGM concerns minutes which have not been approved and are open to interpretations other than the official line being peddled by the Union hierarchy in this case. This is also a slight against Benny Spooner as any breaches of the Staff-Student Protocol are the duty of the Chair of Council to rectify as they take place.
  • It sets a very worrying precedent for someone's vote at a meeting on any issue to be used as the basis for later action against them and makes a mockery of any professions of a Democratic Union by our officers.

If you feel strongly about this, sign the petition and/or come to the public meeting in R1.13 at 6:15pm next Tuesday. Also consider coming to Union Council next Thursday at 7pm in S0.21.

April 27, 2005

Attorney General less than confident about war on March 7th 2003.

Writing about web page

I've just been watching Channel 4 news and they're somehow managed to procure a copy of an earlier version of advice from the Attorney General than that which had hitherto been available, which suggests that the legal justification for the Iraq war was not as unequivocal as the government has been claiming.

For example:

27. In these circumstances, I remain of the opinion that the safest legal course would be to secure the adoption of a further resolution to authorise the use of force. [...] The key point is that it should establish that the Council has concluded that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity offered by resolution 1441, as in the draft which has already been tabled.
29. However, the argument that resolution 1441 alone has revived the authorisation to use force in resolution 678 will only be sustainable if there are strong factual grounds for concluding that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity. In other words, we would need to be able to demonstrate hard evidence of non-compliance and non-cooperation. Given the structure of the resolution as a whole, the views of UNMOVIC and the IAEA will be highly significant in this respect. In the light of the latest reporting by UNMOVIC, you will need to consider very carefully whether the evidence of non-cooperation and non- compliance by Iraq is sufficiently compelling to justify the conclusion that Iraq has failed to take its final opportunity. (Emphasis added).
I judge that, having regard to the arguments on both sides, and considering the resolution as a whole in the light of the statements made on adoption and subsequently, a court might well conclude that OPs 4 and 12 do requ1re a further Council decision in order to revive the authorisation in resolution 678. But equally I consider that the counter view can be reasonably maintained.
However, it must be recognised that on previous occasions when military action was taken on the basis of a reasonably arguable case, the degree of public and Parliamentary scrutiny of the legal issue was nothing as great as it is today.
31. The analysis set out above applies whether a second resolution fails to be adopted because of a lack of votes or because it is vetoed. As I have said before, I do not believe that there is any basis in law for arguing that there is an implied condition of reasonableness which can be read into the power of veto conferred on the permanent members of the Security Council by the UN Charter.
So there are no grounds for arguing that an "unreasonable veto" would entitle us to proceed on the basis of a presumed Security Council authorisation. In any event, if the majority of world opinion remains opposed to military action, it is likely to be difficult on the facts to categorise a French veto as "unreasonable". The legal analysis may, however, be affected by the course of events over the next week or so, eg the discussions on the draft second resolution.
If we fail to achieve the adoption of a second resolution we would need to consider urgently at that stage the strength of our legal case in the light of circumstances at the time."

Not altogether surprising, but I'm surprised that even this government managed to get 'go right ahead' out of that.

Reply from Simon Lucas

Follow-up to Open letter to Simon Lucas from Luke's blog

I've just received a reply to the e-mail I sent to Simon Lucas yesterday re. the John Cross issue:

I'm sorry Luke, but I'm sure you'll understand that I simply cannot comment on this issue.



Which is all right and proper. I just hope that the depth of feeling on this issue is taken into account next week as this issue has already cost the Union dearly and it would be terrible if it cost more.

I have just sent the following reply:


Thanks for the reply. I applaud your integrity in refusing to comment at this stage which I fully expected; I simply felt that I should make my feelings on the issue clear to you.


Another Union officer resigns

Writing about My resignation from Mike's blog

Mike Britland, the Chair of the Union's Democracy Committee has resigned over what increasingly appears to be the fiasco of John Cross's disciplinary hearing at the hands of the Union. I would urge even non-officers to write to Simon Lucas c/o the Students' Union or to e-mail him at to protest the shabby way in which John has been treated, and to turn up to Union Council next Thursday at 7pm in S0.21 to make your feelings known on the issue.

April 26, 2005

Lib Dems in dozy twits shock.

I got a leaflet through the door today from the Lib Dem candidate in Coventry North-West. Now, this would be all very well were it not for the fact that I live in Coventry South. It doesn't bode well for the Lib Dems' candidates' abilities to represent their constituencies in the unlikely event of their election if they don't even know where those constituencies are.

Open letter to Simon Lucas

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

As many people doubtless know, John Cross, the former Returning Officer, currently faces a Union disciplinary for comments made at the AGM in January. This evening, the Chair of Union Council has resigned in protest. Here's the text of an e-mail I have just sent to the Union President.

Dear Simon,

I have been greatly concerned over the past few weeks to read of the circumstances which have today led to Benny Spooner’s resignation as Chair of Union Council. Whilst I accept disciplinary sanctions must be available in some cases, I find it troubling that anonymous questions to officers, criticisms in meetings, and most importantly votes in the Annual General Meeting seem to have caused, in this case, the unedifying spectacle of someone who has been a loyal servant to this Union over a number of years being hounded through disciplinary procedures without being told which clauses of the Union’s Constitution, appendices, policies, or regulations he has breached.

Over the course of this academic year, the sabbatical team have, by and large, shown themselves to be committed to the democratic character of this Union, and I thus find it particularly troubling that this record has been marred in this way. All Union members should, within reason, have the right to say what they like in Union meetings, and, without exception, should be allowed to vote as they like without fear of subsequent pursuit for voting in a way other than how the Union’s officers, Executive, or Sabbaticals wish. Something that was drilled into us at Union Council training last year was that there should be an atmosphere at Union meetings such that everyone should feel comfortable to contribute; this affair has, at a stroke, destroyed any hope of such an atmosphere prevailing in future.

The lamentable decision to pursue disciplinary action in this case has now robbed the Union of the services of two of its most capable and committed members. It will also do untold damage to the reputation of the Union and our ability to profess its democratic nature when people are hauled before a disciplinary simply for exercising their right to take a full part in Union meetings.

I hope that this distressing issue can be resolved quickly with no further unpleasantness.




Anyone who feels that this is not the way the Union should be behaving, sign the petition.

Are the police trying to fit up innocent people as 'terrorists?'

Writing about web page

According to the article above, police in Scotland and elsewhere have been routinely showing people arrested as suspceted terrorists pictures and details of people who have never been convicted of any offence and trying to get them fingered as 'terrorists?' Is it just me or is it profoundly disturbing that now that thanks to the government's wonderful Prevention of Terrorism Act (2005), this could cause hundreds of innocent people to be the subject of various sanctions without even being told what they're accused of and why because the police have happened to show their picture to someone who may well not have anything to do with terrorism either?

April 21, 2005

Final list of General Election Candidates

Follow-up to General Election Candidates from Luke's blog

A while ago I put up a list of election candidates in the local constituencies. This is now the final list. For details of other constituencies, click here.

Outgoing MPs are marked with a '*'.

Coventry South:

William Brown, UK Independence Party
Jim Cunningham, Labour*
Vincent McKee, Liberal Democrat
Irene Rogers, Independent
James Rooney, Families First
Heather Wheeler, Conservative
Rob Windsor, Socialist Alternative

Rugby and Kenilworth:

Richard Allanach, Liberal Democrat
Brian Hadland, Independent
Andy King, Labour*
Lillian Phallikaropoulos, Independent
John Thurley, UK Independence Party
Jeremy Wright, Conservative

Warwick and Leamington:

Ian Davison, Green
Linda Forbes, Liberal Democrat
James Plaskitt, Labour*
Greville Warwick, UK Independence Party
Chris White, Conservative

If you want to find the voting records of outgoing MPs, there's a handy site here.

An antidote to Party propaganda

There seems to be a proliferation of posts at the moment extolling the virtues of one political party over the others, so here is my definitive guide to why you shouldn't vote for any of them. I'm trying to present a broad view which doesn't make my own prejudices too clear.


  • The War with Iraq.
  • All the accompanying shenanigans re. intelligence, WMD, etc.
  • The despicable Prevention of Terrorism Act (2005) and the Anti-Terrorism, Crime, and Security Act (2001), which drew comparisons with Stalinist Russia from a Law Lord.
  • Top-up fees being introduced in spite of promises that they wouldn't be.
  • Smug, pious, sanctimonious wanker Tony Blair.
  • Alistair Campbell.
  • Hazel Blears.
  • PPP/PFI. Especially on the London Underground.
  • Lies, damned lies, and statistics.
  • Botched reform of House of Lords and office of Lord Chancellor.
  • The proliferation of 'special advisors' paid for by the tax-payer.
  • Dodgy dealings with postal votes.


  • Michael 'something of the night' Howard being an utter gobshite.
  • Lowest common denominator campaigning.
  • Gave way on the Prevention of Terrorism Act when they had the government by the balls.
  • Commercial rates on student loans.
  • Don't manage to be a credible opposition, let alone a credible government.
  • You can't trust them as far as you can throw them.
  • Supported Iraq war.
  • Memories of the Major administration.

Liberal Democrat:

  • Give opportunists a bad name.
  • 'These are my principles – if you don't like them, I have others.'
  • Oppose government actions right up until the government start carrying them out.
  • 'Chatshow Charlie' Kennedy who opposed the Prevention of Terrorism Bill so much that he and a number of his MPs didn't bother to turn up when they could have defeated the government.
  • Half-hearted opposition to the Iraq war.
  • Pretending that tuition fees have been abolished in Scotland.

April 18, 2005

Evil, evil exam timetable.

I went to the 'wall of death' at the Arts Centre today to check when my exams are and discovered to my horror that they have scheduled one on a Saturday afternoon. On Saturday May 28th, I will spend the three hours from 2 til 5pm in an exam. Not nice. :( Still, at least I finish on June 9th.

April 2005

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