Tuesday, August 31, 2004

A hard rain

I know it's just nostalgia and in reality our childhood Summers were never actually month upon month of cloudless blue skies as the sun beat down on our kickabouts and we didn't always play games of cricket in the street until it got dark on boiling hot evenings. But surely we did used to have some sort of Summer. For those of us who feel reinvigorated by a few sunny days strung together (yes, ok, it's not supposed to be good for us) this Summer has been a bloody disaster, and the consequences for those who make their living out of tourism in our coastal resorts, possibly terminal disaster. Not even a glorious Summer's day for our last Bank Holiday of the year. Depressing.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Away the lad

BykerSink at It's wrong to wish on Space Hardware is flying out to begin his VSO in Vietnam on Thursday and has posted what is likely to be his last missive from this country for some while. If you get the chance, wish him luck via his comments box, and then add Our Man in Hanoi to your links to follow his progress. For fairly obvious reasons around political sensitivity the new site is likely to be missing some of Space Hardware's bite, but if the site to date is anything to go by it will still be a cracking read as Steve tells it like he sees it... warts and all.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

"Although few liberal-minded voters have illusions about John Kerry, their need to get rid of the 'rogue' Bush administration is all consuming."

John Pilger in a powerful piece in The New Statesman points out, for those pinning their hopes on John Kerry, that when it comes to asserting US Imperialist power the Republicans and Democrats are united. Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Reagan and Clinton.... Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Afghanistan... "The real debate is neither Bush nor Kerry, but the system they exemplify; it is the decline of true democracy and the rise of the American 'national security state' in Britain and other countries claiming to be democracies, in which people are sent to prison and the key thrown away and whose leaders commit capital crimes in faraway places, unhindered, then, like the ruthless Tony Blair, invite the thug they instal to address the British Labour Party conference."

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Oil Flow

Oil, Thatcher, U.S., Mandelson and coup plots. Daniel Brett makes the links.

Terror suspect detained

Someone called Mark Thatcher has been detained in South Africa accused of funding international terrorism. For some strange reason Bush, Blair, Straw and Rumsfeld haven't demanded he is handed over, shackled and detained with the other 'suspects' in Guantanamo Bay. "Thatcher protests coup innocence" says the BBC and it would appear that this particular terrorist suspect is going to be given the opportunity to justify his actions by due legal process. Good job he was captured by a civilized country eh?

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Doing it for themselves...

In my Ward in Sandwell we have a stunning piece of natural woodland that is in the process of being saved from years of decline by local people. Although the park is in Sandwell, it has been owned by Birmingham City Council for generations and naturally, with their priorities being in the City, the park stumbled into decline. Well, local people decided enough was enough, formed the Warley Woods Community Trust, and have taken over the running of the land themselves. It hasn't been easy, but we are gradually seeing things turn around and one of the benefits to the Woods and the community has been the Green Gym, and if you want to get fit without kitting yourself out in lycra or busting a gut in the gym, it's a pretty good way to do it.
Not a post about global uncertainties I'm afraid, but one about local people doing something for their own community (even if they have had a grant from the bloody lottery).

Warley Woods

Monday, August 23, 2004

Darren 'sicknote' Anderton prepares to make his Birmingham debut.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

This is apparently a label from an item of clothing made by an American company for the French market. For those non-French speakers amongst you, the care instructions read:

Wash with warm water
Use mild soap
Dry flat
Do not use bleach
Do not dry in the dryer
Do not iron
We our sorry that our president is an idiot
We did not vote for him

Thanks to Peter Gasston from whom I unashamedly nicked this.

Back slapper

It must be because I gave him a favourable mention, but Daniel Brett (not to be confused with David Brent) has now, in his review of blog sites, described me as "left leaning", (the cheeky sod, it makes me sound like some sort of cross-dresser) and then sweetens the pill by saying I am "perhaps the blogging community's most favourite councillor". Some you win... some you lose eh?

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Food for thought

Daniel Brett asks whether Muslim's are the new Irish in respect of 'terrorism' allegations, and also raises some concerns that I certainly share about the impolications of the recent arrests and continued attacks on civil liberties in 'the war against terrorism'.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The let's have a party, party

I don't know why Stephen Stills and Neil Young weren't invited along for the ride, but Crosby and Nash are making their bid for the White House. Hey...showbiz to the Oval Office, it worked for The Gipper.

Who says the drugs don't work, eh?

40 quid to see the neighbours from hell!

Apparently our less illustrious neighbour, Small Heath Alliance, are charging the mug punters of Birmingham £40 a game to see their side for 'premium' games this season... £40 in order to allow thir porn king owner to pay someone called Muzzy £35,000... a bloody week!


Tomorrow morning eldest daughter will find out if her A level grades are good enough for her to take up an offer from Liverpool University to study politics. I think I'm more nervous than she appears to be. I really hate those gits who earn a living from the media twittering on about how A levels are much easier than when they were at school. I wish they would shut up and consider the impact their pontificating has on the pupils concerned... particularly those who don't get their grades.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

More Sept. 11th conspiracy theories than you can shake a stick at

Courtesy of Space Hardware, I refer you to a whole string of Sept. 11th (why do people in this country insist on saying 9/11?) conspiracy theories at Rigourous Intuition. Spooky, eh?

Monday, August 16, 2004

The British Summer

Having just come back from the Algarve, my heart goes out to the residents and holiday makers in North Cornwall who have had to suffer the dreadful flooding we saw on the news this evening. Strangely, 52 years ago today saw some of the worst floods on record in Britain in Devon. I think I'll get the 2005 holiday brochures tomorrow.

Watching them : watching us

If you haven't already linked to the excellent Daily Mail Watch, give it a try, it's good.

"Let's begin with this: 77% of Venezuela's farmland is owned by 3% of the population, the 'hacendados.' " Greg Palast on Chavez's victory.

Sunday, August 15, 2004


When BykerSink departs these shores for Vietnam next month, the blog world will be much poorer unless he is able to find the time and inclination to maintain both his Space Hardware site and his new postings about life in Vietnam. Today, for instance, Byker considers Venezuela in the context of oil reserves, US interests, Cuba, democracy and dictatorship, and comes up with a potential recipe for disaster. I hope it is just pessimism, but I suspect it is a pessimism firmly rooted in historical lessons, and Chavez could turn out to be another Allende.

For more on Venezuela, read this article by Selma James, one of the observers to the referendum.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Selective reporting

A hurricane hits the Carribean... and the BBC give as much coverage to the fact that Disneyworld had to close as it does to the deaths in Cuba.

Expect some interesting coverage next week if Chavez wins the refendum this weekend. For a less establishment-biased coverage, check out Hands off Venezuela or Venezuela Solidarity.

Watching him watching you

Ivan Pope has decided he has had enough of David Blunkett's authoritarian 'clamping down on everything populism' and has set up a Stalking David Blunkett blog. Well worth keeping an eye on, methinks.

Friday, August 13, 2004

What's the fuss?

Instead of David Blunkett jumping up and down about a convicted rapist winning the lottery, why doesn't he simply adopt the solution suggested by a letter writer to The Guardian today? He could charge the chap for his board and lodgings, in exactly the same way as he has done for the men wrongly convicted for the Carl Bridgewater murder. Or, as the letter writer asks, does that rule only apply if you are found to be innocent?

Not very Pc t-shirt from the Philosophy Football people... but worth a smirk. The man is on £4 million a year!

Thursday, August 12, 2004


Two good referrals from the excellent Howling Spoons. Firstly, Mornington Crescent online, and then a Clash Tribute bootleg, London Booted!

I'm writing this in a terrific cafe, with some excellent sounds, particularly Boozoo Bajou, Satta, which is terrific.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Welsh Lib Dems to the rescue

Thanks to Lib Dem Watch and David Taylor for this reference to the Welsh Lib Dems who are pledging to abolish Section 28 of the Local Government Act. Errm... the Government has already abolished it, though, as Lib Dem Watch suggests, the Lib Dems will no doubt now claim the credit as a result of their belated campaign.

Educate, agitate, organise

Don't mourn, organise, said Joe Hill, just before his execution by the US state. Well, I am getting well peed off by all those people (inside and outside of the Labour Party) who want to carp and moan, and say "why do you stay in that Party?". When you ask them what they are doing instead, at least the wish-washy liberals and the RESPECT people can say they are doing something. What are the others doing? Yoghurt knitting for victory?
Rant over... for those still in the party, you can always try to Save The Labour Party.

Friday, August 06, 2004

One small step for man...

For over 12 months now I have been trying to establish a Farmers' Market on a piece of land near the main Bearwood shopping centre in my Ward. I identified the land, spoke to the market traders to see if they were interested, canvassed local residents for support... and then waited whilst the Council's markets section, Planning dept. and Highways dept. all got involved in a highly convoluted discussion about the suitability of the site, parking arrangements, safety considerations etc.. I began to despair... but today, whilst I am over 1,000 miles away from sunny Sandwell, I've had an e-mail saying the whole thing should get off the ground in the next month. I'm chuffed!

Pilger on Paul Foot

John Pilger, as so often, hits all the right notes in this tribute to Paul Foot.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Anybody but Bush

I'm not very convinced by Kerry, particularly all that drumbeating about his military record (the US role in Vietnam was even more disgusting than it is in Iraq, at least they could hide behind the 'wicked Saddam' excuse this time round) but on the basis that the first step is to get the crook out of the White House, I'll go with kerry. I was finally won over when I found out The Boss is on board too.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


In an effort to ape the New Labour spin machine the Tories obviously feel the necessity to come up with a new initiative every day in an attempt to appeal to a new section of the electorate. So, following their appeal to the green wellie and rifle brigade, they have now decided the 'boy racer' vote is up for grabs. Sad... very, very sad.... and funny!

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

A pint, a pint, my kingdom for...

I love going on holiday to warmer climes. Yes, I know, all the warnings about skin cancer etc are very worrying, but when you live in a country where grey is the natural colour, a few weeks abroad soaking up the warmth does wonders for me. Except... I cannot get used to very fizzy keg or bottled ale, and an 'old' Labour person like me needs a good pint with a smooth head, not a glass of cold fizzy pop. So, I've been drooling over The Guardian's online 'virtual' beer festival.

Also in The Guardian, George Monbiot highlights the trend towards increased authoritarianism in response to T.W.A.T.. Isn't this the very sort of thing Orwell predicted in 1984? A mystery enemy that you cannot see and cannot defeat allows Big Brother to keep the proles quiet and fearful.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Lessons to be learned

On this blog yesterday I commented on how far the Tories have declined from being the "natural party of government" in the 1980s to a rump of a party becoming increasingly irrelevant to the electorate. Well, what lessons have New Labour learned from that decline? The Conservatives, with an arrogant leadership became increasingly alienated from their grass roots supporters, and an ageing membership found itself unable to motivate themselves for the fight. Tory attacks on local government, where the numbers of Tory controlled councils slumped drammatically also further reduced their party activists. A number of sleaze scandals meant the road to power was opened to N.ew Labour, who could probably have won the 1997 election with a chimp as leader, the Tories were so demoralised.

But have the Blairites learnt anything? An arrogant leadership, alienated from the mainstream party? Definitely. An ageing and declining membership? Certainly. Council control being wrested away in whole swathes of the country? Yes. As Peter Kilfoyle, once the hammer of militant on the party right, points out in today's Guardian, the Blairites have either being listening and not understanding, or much more likely, not even bothering to listen.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Howard rallies his troops for General Election

As Andrew Rawnsley points out in today´s Observer, there can be no clearer sign that the Tories have finally abandoned their claim to be a serious opposition at the next General Election than this. With all the opportunities to attack Blair over recent months and with Prezza left in charge of the country... Michael Howard declares a major initiative calling for a fair deal for country sports. Those who want to freely engage in shooting and hunting defenceless animals and want to engage in wildfowling and deerstalking, can rest safely in their beds tonight knowing that Michael Howard is going to get the bureaucrats of their back and reduce red tape. The rest of us will carry on in the real world...