People’s Republic of Jericho

Votes in the Jericho & Osney ward here in Oxford have just been counted:

Susanna Pressel (Labour) 1793 votes ELECTED
Catherine Hilliard (Lib Dem) 769 votes
Bill Wilson (Conservative) 513 votes
Kaihsu Tai (Green) 311 votes.

And, once again, results in Oxford are going against the national trend, and it looks as if the local Labour party is going to be consolidating its grip on the City Council.

If you’re curious about why Andrew Smith held on comfortably in Oxford East (despite the fact that the Lib Dem challenger was really quite good) and the Lib Dems crashed and burned in OxWAb (where the Tory challenger was clearly bonkers), then Don Paskini has a very plausible explanation. It certainly rings true to me: in two decades or so of writing to MPs, Evan Harris has been easily the worst correspondent with whom I’ve ever had to deal, and constituents remember this kind of thing.

Thursday Cat Blogging: Enkidu, TV star!

Enkidu was on the local news today, filmed trotting across the boatyard site, and looking magnificent.

You can see him, for a bit at least, over at the BBC South Today page: click to watch the “BBC Oxford News”, and he appears one minute and seven seconds into the report. Philip Pullman is on immediately after Enkidu, but it’s a bit of a let down as he lacks the natural screen presence of the black-and-white cat.

Oxford Exceptionalism

National press: “Labour suffers worst electoral defeat for 40 years”

Local press: “Labour has taken control of Oxford City Council after a hugely successful election night.”

There are many nice things about living in Oxford, and one of them is that political culture here is lively. We have vigorous five-party politics (if you include the Tories), and what happens here is often pleasingly disengaged from the rhythms of the national scene.

Jericho, however, is rapidly becoming a one-party-statelet. Four years ago, the Lib Dems won by 846 to 716; and in the three contests that have taken place since then in 2005, 2006 and 2008, Labour has won by 713 to 437, 1100 to 704 and 907 to 301 respectively. That’s not bad at all.

“We Want Albert Square, Not Albert Speer”

The Jericho Boatyard planning application went to Oxford City Council’s Area Committee today. I couldn’t stay for the whole meeting, but I’m glad to read that (unsurprisingly) the local councillors threw out the proposals in the final vote. So no doubt it’ll go to appeal – again, and we’ll have to take it from there. Channel Four News covered the story earlier tonight, while the meeting was in progress, and you can watch the clip over here [and click on “watch the report”].

(We’re over here at the BBC, too.)

Save the Boatyard


The Philip Pullman discussion below reminded me of this bit of propaganda that’s going round the neighbourhood, as local gyptian-consciousness is on the rise.

(The film’s playing at the Phoenix with an exhibition of photos of the boatyard in the bar upstairs, and Pullman recently turned up to a ceremony to rename one of the campaigners’ boat Lyra’s Defiance. All the fictional characters are on our side — Sergeant Lewis, too. How can we lose?!?)

More here, here and here.

Cat Stats

By my reckoning Enkidu caught two mice in the first two years of his life, and three mice in the last two weeks. So either he’s getting much, much better at catching mice, or else the mouse population in Jericho has recently gone through the roof. (I wonder which.)

Rather touchingly, he brought in last night’s mouse shortly before midnight, played with the corpse for bit under the table, and then placed it in his food-bowl before starting to devour it.