Elsewhere: Watching The Decline of New Labour

His belief in a parliamentary democracy and MPs who work on behalf of their constituents is clear and often put him at odds with senior party colleagues. The fact that he does not follow the party line all the time is what makes his account all the more memorable.

Decline & Fall: Diaries 2005–2010Decline & Fall: Diaries 2005–2010 by Chris Mullin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The second volume of Chris Mullin’s diaries that I have read and, as an inside account of the British Parliament at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, it’s both reassuring to see that many representatives in The House are not in it purely for self gain, having loftier aims that benefit us all, and disappointing to discover that Honourable Members, just like the any group anywhere, can be back-stabbing and self-serving. Mullin clearly falls into the former but his ringside seat for the end of the Blair era, the expenses debacle, the arrival of Gordon Brown and the self-destruction of New Labour is fascinating. I don’t know if the diaries are well edited, or well written in the first place, but you are drawn in by the stories the diaries reveal and gripped as the details of parliamentary life are unveiled. His belief in a parliamentary democracy and MPs who work on behalf of their constituents is clear and often put him at odds with senior party colleagues. The fact that he does not follow the party line all the time is what makes his account all the more memorable. The book’s easy to follow as Mullin does not fall into the trap of reducing most people to nicknames or initials and, therefore, can be read without constant reference to a ‘cast of characters’. This volume ends as Gordon Brown leaves number 10 and Mullin retires from The House (he did not contest the 2010 election) but before that point some of the most interesting events of recent times are recorded with a charm and wit that’s compelling.

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Elsewhere: Will 2011 be the year that internet radio will pass traditional radio?

Then there are habits to break. Others here have touched on the car radio but broadcast receivers are also clock radios, shower radios, kitchen radios etc. I imagine substantial number of these form part of a routine and there’re not easy, nor cheap, to replace quickly. And why would you if it’s still working well for you?

In the spirit of keeping things in one place. I just answered my first question on Quora, a question and answer website that’s hooked into your social network – via Facebook and Twitter. I imagine it’ll become overwhelming pretty quickly as it needs much more engagement than Twitter so, should all the people I follow on Twitter start posting questions, I’m going to end up swamped with questions. Still, so far, so interesting.

The question: Will 2011 be the year that internet radio will pass traditional radio? [link]. And my response:

I can’t see internet radio will pass traditional radio for quite some time.

There are too many broadcast radio (AM, FM, HD, DAB) receivers out there for this to happen quickly, and – even today – the number of FM receivers continues to grow as they are added to mobile phones, MP3 players etc.

Right now, broadcast radio remains more portable (mobile data is inconsistent) and FM receivers can generally handle a poor signal quality in ways that data connections don’t seem to be able to do (at least, without resorting to continual re-buffering).

Then there are habits to break. Others here have touched on the car radio but broadcast receivers are also clock radios, shower radios, kitchen radios etc. I imagine substantial number of these form part of a routine and there’re not easy, nor cheap, to replace quickly. And why would you if it’s still working well for you?

(There are some interesting figures for streaming & mobile listening produced in the UK by the Absolute Network and analysed at James Cridland’s blog.)

You can add something to the answer by joining quora and going here.

Elsewhere: An Insiders View Of Government

The diary format is easy to dip in to – and that had been my intention – but I found I was hooked and could spend many hours reading; it’s not a slimline book!

A just posted a review on Goodreads and Amazon of Chris Mullin’s account of life inside the Labour government.

A View from the FoothillsA View from the Foothills by Chris Mullin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An an insiders view of life as a Labour MP and, at times, as a junior Minsiter (transport and environment/Africa) this is a compelling read. The diary format is easy to dip in to – and that had been my intention – but I found I was hooked and could spend many hours reading; it’s not a slimline book! The inner working of government are fascinating: Mullin has a particular dislike for the poorly written speeches he was expected to deliver; the excesses of Ministerial cars and the fact that, as a Junior Minister, it seems impossible to actually get anything done. It’s interesting to see that a relatively few number of MPs – mainly those nearest the Prime Minister – can actually do very much at all; the rest expected to tow the party line. Mullin was not that close to The Man but he certainly has a different view than most of us. Of most interest historically, of course, are the discussions that lead to the UK’s support of the Iraqi war but, if you’re interested in how much of government works, this is possibly better positioned than some of the bigger names.

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