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May 6th, 2009

Sore tooth and things

I have a sore tooth. It's the one that was completely replaced at huge expense last year after I broke it on an olive stone. I am seeing the dentist at lunchtime, and hope that they will sort it out.

fungus TMICollapse )

Meanwhile here are a couple of interesting links:

I'm Glad I'm A Boy! I'm Glad I'm A Girl! Difficult to believe that this dates from as late as 1970. (hat-tip to smofbabe.)

Of minority interest (though a minority well-represented among my readers): An Irishman's Difficulties with the Dutch Language, by "Cuey-na-Gael" (real name the Rev. Dr. J. Irwin Brown); full text on-line.

Book meme to come.

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Book meme

An interesting book meme from chickenfeet2003:

  1. I list three characters from ten favourite books.
  2. You try to guess what the books are!
  3. I reserve the right to be sneaky and use secondary characters.

  1. Frith, Pipkin, Blackberry
  2. Pastor Williams, Decuman, Lord Stansgate
  3. Bruce (the father), Helen (the mother), Joan (the girlfriend)
  4. Ulysse Mérou, Zira, Arthur Levain
  5. Duncan, Colin, Malcolm
  6. Bendico, Don Calogera, Ciccio
  7. Lake of the biology department, Atwood of the physics department, Captain Douglas
  8. Thorn, Gran'ma, Bartleby
  9. Rupert Potter, Benny Golightly, Selina Potter
  10. Ellen Emmett, Phil Graber, Dr Moreby

To make it easier, they are in alphabetical order by author. Also two of them are graphic novels.

Northern Ireland's MEPs

Say what you like about the European Parliament website, it does at least offer some transparency about what your MEPs have been up to over the last five years. This is the public record of the three MEPs from Northern Ireland.

MEP Jim Allister
(Ind)
(DUP -> TUV)
Bairbre de Brún
(GUE-NGL)
(SF)
Jim Nicholson
(EPP-ED)
(UUP)
Questions asked: 214 41 42
Motions Proposed 0 9 8
Reports drafted 0 1 2
Speeches in plenary 314 118 122
Written Declarations 3 0 4

As a point of comparison, my neighbourhood MEP - who is also our deputy mayor, and national chair of her political party - has asked 70 questions, put her name to 10 motions, authored three reports (on consumer policy), spoken 88 times and signed 1 written declaration.

To explain the categories:

Questions asked - fairly obvious, you can ask a question to the European Commission or the European Council. Allister clearly enjoys this most. De Brún sometimes signs onto questions asked by a group of her GUE-NGL colleagues.

Motions proposed - the mark of distinction between those who are inside the system and those who are outsiders. If you are not in a group, you can still vote yes or no to particular amendments or resolutions, but your access to drafting is much more limited.

Reports drafted - Allister's zero here is again largely a consequence of his not being in a group, and therefore not being in the way of getting this sort of task; but actually I find all three MEPs a little disppointing; de Brún's sole report, and both of Nicholson's are Regional Development Committee reports on EU funds being spent in Northern Ireland. It would be nice if any of them had set their sights on issues other than local pork.

Speeches in plenary - this is potentially a bit misleading since the real arguments happen behind the scenes in the committee meetings, which although public events are not recorded with the same degree of completeness as the plenary sessions. However, it's fairly clear: Allister speaks more often than the other two combined. It also has to be said that speaking in the chamber is not a good measure of effectiveness in other areas.

Written declarations - included for completeness, these appear about as relevant as Early-Day Motions in the British system.
 
My conclusion

Allister is a classic "outsider", more interested in using his elected position to promote causes that interest him than in playing the institutional game. Both de Brún and Nicholson have tendencies in this direction as well, but both are also at least partly inside the system; and both appear to have similar levels of impact, despite the fact that de Brún is from a much smaller group.

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