Thursday, April 28, 2005

Anyone who has ever come into contact with Kath Phillips will know that this required a superhuman effort. I can think of a couple of Sandwell councillors who find it impossible.
Following Labour's defeat in the 1983 General Election the right-wing of the Party, (remembered nostalgically by some as 'Old Labour') did what they always do, and blamed the left wing of the Party for the defeat. Never mind that the left had never run the Party for a minute, the Thatcher victory was blamed on the manifesto, described by Kauffman as 'the longest suicide note in history' for having the nerve to commit the Party to a programme of social justice and wealth redistribution. Also castigated, and Blair repeats this myth to this day, were those in the Party demanding democratic reforms, (the ability to select/deselect their MP, one member one vote) who were condemned as 'splitters', despite the fact that it was the right that had broken away to form the SDP. I still cringe to think of West Bromwich MP Peter Snape going on local television the night after the election and stating that the one good thing to come out of the defeat was that Tony Benn had lost his seat in Bristol.

For those with a less twisted view of labour history, pop along to 340 Old Street if you are in London, and although, apparently, you won't get to see Benn in the nude, you will probably enjoy this exhibition, entitled, perhaps ironically, Power.

Best of luck to Phil Sawford, the Labour MP (or candidate to be precise) in Kettering. How ironic that he'll probably be signing-on soon because of the anti-Blair factor.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Charles Kennedy says the atmosphere at this General Election reminds him of those 'heady days' of the 1983 election. Heady days indeed. The Liberals got 10 seats, the Alliance got 13 and the SDP got 3. I'll settle for that.

Monday, April 25, 2005

"There is absolutely no disagreement between colleagues in our Party"

(picture via Honorable Fiend)

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Beats a night with Edwina any day of the week!
A popular tactic of those who like to think of themselves ‘on the left’ is to smear those to the left of them as being either mad (Benn, Scargill, Derek Robinson) or fascists. Cohen in The Observer uses the latter technique to smear George Galloway and RESPECT. Apparently it's called Godwin's Law.... or cheap shot lazy journalism.

Saturday, April 23, 2005 dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free, silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands

Today's Guardian lists some of this summer's music festivals. Glastonbury, probably Britain's biggest outdoor music bash gets a mention, but it clashes with the Festival Gnaoua in Essaouira that Mrs P. and myself are going to (which The Guardian fails to mention) and where rumour has it that Youssou N'Dour will headline this year.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Almost every radical I've spoken to or read on blog sites who has filled in one of those 'How should I vote?' Internet surveys has been told they should vote Liberal Democrat. As we know, come election day, they will not vote Lib Dem and Chat Show Charlie will be asked to spend more time with his baby before June comes round. John O'Farrell has been playing with himself in secret.

Paul Merton on the perfectionist and comic genius Buster Keaton.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Hemming, egg, face, let me introduce you. Birmingham's very own Screaming Lord Sutch makes the news again. He cannot say he wasn't told.

Usually, within minutes of a blog post about him, particularly in respect of postal votes, Hemming shoots from the lip with an instant response. Strangely he has been reluctant to answer the following question posed by Talk Politics:
Are Birmingham Lib Dem carrying out the instructions of the national Liberal Democrat party and processing applications for postal votes from Lib Dem supporter through its Birmingham Office?
It's four days now, and counting.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Google Maps are excellent. Print them out and see where your leaflets are going. This is our Ward.

WMD hunt

OK... it's now final. Google maps can't find them either.

Altenatively, Bloggerheads and Mushybees will let you join the hunt.

Bandwagon for Howard!

How ironic that the man behind the Poll Tax, and a member of the Government that introduced the Council Tax, wants to leap on to a passing bandwagon.

Victory in the battle against crime

Whatever the Tories and Lib Dems say about the performance of the government, I do feel we need to herald a tremendous victory in the fight against crime. Why, in Northumbria it would appear that burglary, car crime, assault and most other crimes have been resolved totally. So much so, it appears the police have had to resort to investigating such nonsensical 'crimes' as this.

According to George Galloway... RESPECT have "the busiest political website in the country." Well, do they? What's the opposite of busy?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Are you drinking what we're drinking? (Underblog via Guido) and thanks to Toryscum for this.

As usual, Talkpolitics shows that he also also talks sense, and exposes John Hemming's vanity clause:
" seems to be perenially the case with John, his ego has got the better of him once again and his personal vanity would not allow anyone but him to be the one to make the challenge - even if others would have been far better placed, in law, as the plaintiff in this matter."

Repent ye sins

There's hope for Howard yet as Catholics elect a reactionary old conservative! According to the BBC the new Pope is a former member of the Hitler youth.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Hell's teeth

Grace by Jeff Buckley... no.61, Blood on the Tracks at 55, Born to Run at 37, ... and worst of all, Van the Man's classic Astral Weeks and Tom Waits' Rain Dogs, absolutely bloody nowhere. Totally unbelievable and discredited methinks.
I'm wary of the politics of the last atrocity, but... car bombs, like cruise missiles, don't ask questions about the people they kill. Marla Ruzicka's name joins the death toll.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Thanks to Christine (Supermum) for this. Ouch!

I shall vote labour, by Christopher Logue (written 1966)

I shall vote labour because
God votes labour
I shall vote labour to protect
the sacred institution of the family
I shall vote labour because
I am a dog
I shall vote labour because Labour tolerates
the traitor Ian Smith
I shall vote labour because
I am on a diet
I shall vote labour because Ringo votes labour
I shall vote labour because
upper class hoorays annoy me in expensive restaurants
I shall vote labour because if I don't
somebody else will


I shall vote labour because if one person does it everybody else will be wanting to do it.
I shall vote labour because
my husband looks like Antony Wedgewood_Benn
I shall vote labour because I am obedient
I shall vote labour because if I do not vote labour
my balls will drop off.
I shall vote labour because there are too few
cars on the road
I shall vote labour because
Mrs Wilson promised me five pounds if I did
I shall vote labour because I love
Look at Life films
I shall vote labour because
I am a hopeless drug addict
I shall vote labour because
I am a Wincarnis shareholder
I shall vote labour because
I failed to be a dollar millionaire aged three
I shall vote labour because labour will build
More maximum security prisons
I shall vote labour because I want to see
Nureyev and Fonteyne dance in Swansea Civic Centre
I shall vote labour because I want to shop
In a covered precinct stretching from Yeovil to Glasgow
I shall vote labour because I want to rape an air hostess
I shall vote labour because I am a hairdresser
I shall vote labour because
The Queen's Stamp collection is the best in the world
I shall vote labour because
Deep in my heart
I am a conservative

Saturday, April 16, 2005

In the aftermath of the death of Pope John Paul I (August 26 1978)and the election of Pope John Paul II (September 28 1978), Birmingham City Football Club created the legend of being the team that failed to win a match during the reign of a Pope.

Good news.... we're two matches in and counting. Let's all hope they take their time to elect the new fellah!
A sobering thought for someone who has to submit themselves for election, according to this test, only 1.7% of the population have the same political views as me... and only 2.5% of Labour voters! I hope the 2.5% bother to vote! Thanks to Pete.

Friday, April 15, 2005

I smell a bid for the 'yoof vote'....
Alan Milburn used to listen to German '60's hippie outfit Tangerine Dream... George Galloway and Milburn are Dylan freaks (is that the only thing they have in common), Lemit Opik is a Led Zep fan and Oliver Letwin boogies on down to the last movement of the Fourth Symphony and the Kindertotenleider by Mahler, much of Beethoven's Ninth, and Strauss's waltzes.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The new membership of the House of Lords is now being recruited as compliant senior backbenchers agree to give up their seats in return for becoming Baron Blatherskyte of Betrayal in the next Honour’s List. I’ve not been sounded yet, except at a lower level, but every time my phone rings the humorists say “House of Lords calling”.

Austin Mitchell's amusing end of term report.
Over at Harry's Place there's a post which uses an interview with former UN weapons inspector and anti-war campaigner Scott Ritter to prove conclusively that the war wasn't all about oil

That elicited this comment from a computer generated blue hedgehog.... which offers an alternative explanation for motive behind the US/UK war in Iraq:

Guys you are missing Gene's point, it's obvious that it was not about oil (despite the fact Iraq has the second biggest known reserves in the world) and we know it was not about WMD's so that leaves.....Sand!

yes it's a little known fact that Iraq has one of the biggest reserves of high quality sand known, sand that can be used for many things like sandblasters and beach creation and, er, well lots of good stuff.

After all surely no-one is seriously expecting us to believe that Bush and Cheney lay awake at night crying at how Iraq was not free and how poor arabs were being tortured by Saddam and therefore spent $200 billion to save these poor people.

So if it's not oil, or WMD's and it was certainly not about freedom I put it to you that all is left is my groundbreaking Sand theory!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

More Lib Dem lies...

Baroness Shirley Williams was on Radio 5 this afternoon. She was asked whether, as she had got Crosby in her title, she would be keeping a lookout for the Liverpool v Juventus score this evening. A pretty banal question, I grant you, but not as banal as the answer... "I'm doing an election thing tonight, but I will be trying to keep in touch because I think Liverpool United is a good team." Slightly embarrassed, the interviewer pressed on... "Have you been to Anfield lately" he tried. "No" said the noble one, "I haven't been for about 18 months. I like the Grand National and I've been in the past, but I suppose I just watch it on TV like everyone else now."

Roll on an elected second chamber, and meanwhile, God preserve us from politicians who think they have to impress us with their love and knowledge of football, when really they couldn't give a toss.

The mind boggles

Big news in Brum as the Lib Dem Deputy Leader of the Tory run council John Hemming meets Deepthroat! How very distasteful.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Hugo Chavez.... Capitalism is Savagery. How long before the war against terror starts to focus on oil rich Venezuela?


I wouldn't call Birmingham City Council Leader Mike Whitby an opportunist.... but... to ask central government for a £140m commitment for the redevelopment of New Street Station on the back of a request for assistance to Rover smacks of a chancer at work!

Tall tales (but good, all the same)

J.A.M. Hemming (the Max Clifford of self-publicity) was, according to Talk Politics, beaten in an election by a dog!
(Please refrain from tasteless comments about his Labour opponent in Yardley).

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

"We believe in devolving power down to the lowest level so that local people are given greater control over their own lives."
Page 22 of The Conservative Party Manifesto 2005

"A Conservative Government will... review all speed cameras to ensure that they are there to save lives and not make money."
Page 22 of The Conservative Party Manifest 2005

That's empowerment?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

It is easy to be cynical about politicians promises and sloganising. Things can only get better, though, wasn't just a slogan. It has taken time for investment to start showing results, but certainly on the issue of anti-social behaviour and crime, the feedback I get is that people really do think we are making progress after the Tory years of under investment and the running down of public services. Certainly these people in Sandwell seem to agree that efforts to stop low level crime and anti-social behaviour are beginning to have an effect.

Friday, April 08, 2005

One of the strangest aspects of politics is the way some politicians grab every opportunity to make events fit into their particular worldview. So, when David Blunkett is asked about voting fraud in Birmingham, quick as a flash our Dave is able to translate the question into an answer about the benefits of a national ID card scheme. Equally, when my favourite Lib Dem John Hemming spys a problem "spiralling out of control" at MG Rover, he instantly identifies the DTI (that, coincidentally, the Lib Dems are pledged to abolish) as the main cause of the problem. David... John... the public are not as daft as you perceive, please stop this blatant opportunism and have a bit of respect for them.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

When it comes to election time, there is a case for brightening up the process through publicity seeking eccentrics like the Monster Raving Loony Party who would lighten up the news with a series of ridiculous stunts. In the absence of the late Screaming Lord Sutch... it is good to see that the Lib Dems have found a publicity seeking eccentric egomaniac to fill the void.

Ebay, obviously aware of ace election sleuth John Hemming, have decided not to accept votes for sale on ebay.

Following numerous requests over the years we have finally got Sandwell Council to install one of those continental-style Superloos in the main Bearwood shopping centre. This is my nightmare. Our Superloo has been installed following an arrangement the council reached with advertisers JC Decaux.... who were the masterminds behind this. Please, please don't let this happen to us!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A few weeks ago Tony Benn suggested that national newspapers should ask election candidates a series of questions to give the electorate some idea of where they stand on certain key issues. Well, now The Guardian has done something like it (albeit only for sitting MPs... and many, including, shame on him, blogging MP Tom Watson, do not seem to have responded). Should George Galloway be elected as Respect MP I wonder if he would turn up to vote more frequently.

Neo-con Paul Wolfowitz, newly appointed President of the World Bank could, according to some, emulate his predecessor Robert MacNamara and move from a White House hawk to a succesful World Bank President. Oh yes? George Monbiot in The Guardian has a different view of MacNamara "He bankrolled Mobutu and Suharto, deforested Nepal, trashed the Amazon and promoted genocide in Indonesia. The countries he worked in were left with unpayable debts, wrecked environments, grinding poverty and pro-US dictators."

Monday, April 04, 2005

John Hemming, Lib Dem partner of Birmingham's Conservative controlled Council, claims that electoral fraud has been reported in Sandwell. By whom... and with what evidence? I cannot find anyone who can verify this story... apart from this twunk who makes the claim that he has "considerable experience in the current political arena" (he spent a year on Sandwell Council, only spoke once, and then supported a Labour Group resolution to welcome the cultural diversity brought about by immigration into the country). Is this man Hemming's witness? Or is Hemming so gullible he believes everything he's told. No... that can't be the case, because he forgot to mention this one.

For more on Hemming, self-publicist supreme and failed Parliamentary candidate (must have been postal voting fraud that did it) I refer you to the excellent UK Political Hack.

The Pope... from a different perspective

"The greatest crime of his papacy, however, was neither his part in this cover up nor his neanderthal attitude to women. It was the grotesque irony by which the Vatican condemned - as a "culture of death" - condoms, which might have saved countless Catholics in the developing world from an agonising Aids death."
Terry Eagleton in The Guardian

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Apparently Birmingham City Council has spent £2.35m on a park in Birmingham. Meanwhile, a park in my Ward which is perversely owned by Birmingham City Council and supposedly maintained by them, is a bloody disgrace. Despite the fact that the City Council Leader lives within yards of the park, he seems content to allow Lightwoods Park to deteriorate.
I wasn't sure exactly what it is about David Aaronovitch that really gets up my nose. Certainly his so-called "polemic dynamite" can be provocative, but the article in today's Observer really sums up what it is I despise about the nation's most high profile ex-communist come Blairite (or is that Sue Slipman). It's the way he describes the working class as male, right-wing and saloon bar intellectuals... and those who think differently to him as "the British intelligentsia" who are living "in shuttered dining-rooms in Holland Park, Highbury and Kennington, in converted barns in Herefordshire and flagged kitchens in Brittany, in the pages of the London Review of Books and at publishing parties". So, perhaps we should have a little feature in the Observer colour supplement, a sort of "At home with the Aaronovith's" number, where David can show us round his little two up, two down terraced house, coal in the bath, whippet warming up outside etc, just before our Dave gets ready for his Sunday trip down the boozer for a few pints of mild before his roast beef and an afternoon of farting in the armchair watching the footie. Patronising fat get!
Dave Lambert at Talk Politics, (2/4/05) raises some interesting points in response to my question about the problems of a local income tax. I await the flood of comments from the Lib Dem intelligensia.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

An April Fool

OK... it was 1st April... but surely Oliver Kamm was having a laugh when, in this article on human rights under Fidel Castro, he quotes Donald Rumsfeld attacking "Old Europe" as some sort of justification. If you really want to look for human rights abuses in Cuba, surely you need to look no further than Guantanamo Bay.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Fear the yobs.

Is there anyone out there with information on how a local income tax would work? If my constituents in Sandwell work in Birmingham and pay their local income tax through PAYE, who gets the payment... the borough with a business, or the borough where they live? If it is the area where you live... wouldn't those captains of industry in the leafy lanes of Worcestershire benefit over the working class areas of Sandwell where the factories are?