Sunday, October 30, 2005

In a week in which the French and the Spanish have been encouraged to join in the orgy of commemoration that confirmed that Britain Rules the Waves... someone thinks the Irish should forget their violent past.

Briefly interrupted the Match of the Day, icluding a most enjoyable humiliation of Man Ure, to watch a feature on the excellent Banksy on The Culture Show. As ever, the establishment looms as he apparently now has a coffee table book on the way, and you can buy Banksy originals for a couple of thousand quid.

Friday, October 28, 2005


Yesterday morning, for no apparent reason, my entire Windows system froze on that blue screen which welcomes you to Bill Gates World. No amount of fiddling and faffing about with it would put it right, so I upped and went to my local PC repair shop in Bearwood to see what they could do. The sorry response came back later in the day: Not much mate. They could do a reload of Windows XP and then everything would be OK, but all my files, photos and music would be deleted forever. Well, I had remembered to do a backup in June on a memory stick, but if there is a Council Officer reading this who has received a letter from me in the last four months and hasn't replied... you can always deny receiving it because I can't prove I sent it. Anyway, I know Flikr is not to everyone's taste, but I can be grateful that at least all my photographs have been captured on there.

But does anyone know how to transfer the files on my I-pod on to the PC without losing all 4,000 tracks in the process because the I-pod carries out the transfer in the opposite direction?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"The paper also outlined more powers for parents: they will get the right to demand new schools..." Oh, well done Ms. Kelly. I'll start getting the local parents in my Ward to demand new schools. By the way... does this mean they will automatically get one? More crackpot ideas and spin from our New Labour colleagues.

Your Education service is in safe hands... and here are those hands.

Ruth Kelly: Attended the fee-paying Sutton High School, followed by Westminster School for A-levels. She went on to Queen's College, University of Oxford.

Baron Adonis: Attended the private Kingham Hill School in Oxfordshire near Chipping Norton. He graduated (BA in modern history) from Keble College, Oxford, subsequently completing a doctorate in 19th century political history at Christ Church, Oxford in 1988, and filled a post as a research fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford.

Tony Blair: After attending the Durham's Choristers School, Blair was educated at Fettes College in Edinburgh (sometimes called the "Eton of Scotland"), then on to read law at St John's College, where he graduated with a second class degree.

God, their parents must have been unsuccessful in demanding those new schools in their neighbourhoods. No doubt they were hampered by the army of bureaucrats in the Council House scrathing their backsides and filing paper clips all day.

John Prescott: The son of a railway signalman, Prescott was born in Prestatyn in Wales and brought up in Ellesmere Port in Cheshire. He became a steward in the merchant navy, and was a trade union activist. What... no private school John? No "Eton of Prestatyn" for you then, eh? Think on lad, when these proposals go through, all the little John and Jane Prescott's will have a School of Excellence in their own back garden, run by a combination of the local vicar and MacDonalds.

Hell's teeth! And all we will have to fight the cause when the careerist backbenchers troop through the lobby, will be the Secondary Heads Association. More power to your elbows, comrades. I don't suppose there is any chance of the 'usual suspects' in the trade union movement getting off their fat arses and doing something, is there? Its your members kids too!

Monday, October 24, 2005

"....But otherwise the schools will be accountable not to government at the centre or locally but to parents, with the creativity and enterprise of the teachers and school leaders set free."

It must be lovely to live in the leafier parts of Islington, or to send your kids to The Oratory. Don't worry if there are not enough Labour MPs to push this through Mr Tony... the Tories will snatch your hands off for it!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

For fear of a savaging from my ultra loyalist comrades in the 'modernising' wing of our Party, I will make absolutely no comment at all on the alleged plans Mr Tony has for his friends in the business community... and I wouldn't dream of calling the Education proposals elitist, middle-class and discriminatory. Not while there are others who will do it for me.
The talk amongst the chattering classes and tv pundits is whether, in the event that the boy Cameron wins the Tory leadership bonanza, Labour should shaft Gordon Brown and go for a younger model. The 'skip a generation' pundits argue that Gordon will look old and tired in comparison to the fresh faced public schoolboy and that Labour would lose votes in the same way that the Tories lost votes to the juvenile Kennedy. The choice of the generation skippers would appear to be the ever young David Miliband. Interestingly, the alleged source for this story in the Observer, is someone close to the Prime Minister. Now, surely, our beloved PM couldn't possibly want to scupper his old mate Gordon's chances of replacing him?

I'm sure I've said this before, but the joke about David and Ed, the Miliband brothers is that their father, the respected Marxist Ralph Miliband, wrote a book called Parliamentary Socialism in which his central point was that Labour would not deliver socialism through Parliamentary means. His sons are now setting about proving their father was right.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

This looks like it create plenty of work for one blogger... even though others might keep their heads down.

'Me as Tory leader? It's ridiculous; it's absurd. It's quite flattering. But it's just for the birds' - Errm, David Cameron, The Independent February 2005.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Never mind the 'modernisers'... they're still out there. I've received an e-mail from a very disturbed young woman who feels very strongly that we should all be grateful to the wicked witch of Finchley for freeing the slaves, winning the war against socialism, single-handedly defeating the Russians and giving the Argies, the Irish and the miners a bloody good thrashing. Very, very disturbed person indeed.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Sectarian... moi?

Courtroom Drama

A 7 year-old boy was at the centre of a Birmingham courtroom drama yesterday when he challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of him. The boy has a history of being beaten by his parents & the judge initially awarded custody to his aunt, in keeping with child custody law & regulations requiring that family unity be maintained.

The boy surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt beat him more than his parents & he adamantly refused to live with her. When the judge then suggested that he live with his grandparents, the boy cried out that they also beat him. After considering the remainder of the immediate family & learning that domestic violence was apparently a way of life among them, the judge took the unprecedented step of allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him.

After two recesses to check legal references and confer with child welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody to Birmingham City Football Club, whom the boy firmly believes are incapable of beating anyone.

(Thanks to The Black Country Villain)
Smug, arrogant, young, ex-public schoolboy, wants to 'modernise' his party - not exactly original is it.

The ego has landed

I don't know who said it first about who, but if this man was an ice cream he would lick himself to death.

Biting the hand that feeds us

It seems Blair has yet another 'modernisation' plan in mind in his long-term strategy of turning Labour into the SDP. The man who told us he was going to rebuild Labour as a mass membership party, and spent the next 10 years watching members drift away, now wants to 'modernise us again. Tony Woodley advises him that further sidelining the trade unions is not the answer.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What is it about Blairites and business. the latest public service to be subjected to the 'New Labour' axe is the probation service. They have announced the privatisation of the sevice.... to coincide with the government's Inside Justice Week (October 17-23), which aims to highlight the greater involvement of local communities in the criminal justice system. So much for the new-found enthusiasm for localism and civic renewal. Local Probation Boards will be abolished and replaced by smaller "business-focussed" bodies, composed of people with senior business, financial and management experience. Yes, I see. So the people who have made a complete cock-up of running of British manufacturing industry can have a go at doing the same thing to our public services.
The revolution will not be televised ... is a terrific fly-on-the-wall documentary which details the story of the Coup in 2002 against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez from INSIDE the palace. Unfortunately, for reasons one can only speculate on, the distributors of the film appear to be deliberately boycotting the distribution of their own film. An old mate of mine who runs a Venezuelan Solidarity Group has decided to distribute the DVD free of charge, with just a small donation to cover his costs. Contact him and tell him you were referred by me... and he says he will accept a 'smaller' donation. Believe me... the film is pretty damn good!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The silence is deafening. As highlighted by Political Hack the Tory/Lib Dem coalition have wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds of council tax payers money on a consultants report which reached conclusions that.... "Any transport professional could have told them these conclusions before they started." So, always prepared to offer an opinion on anything, what does the egomaniac self-publicist who was Deputy Leader of the City Council when they threw this money down the drain have to say about it on his blog? Errrm... not a thing.

Well... if Hemming won't tell us what's going on in his Council... we will just have to read the newspaper. Birmingham - a city racked by indecision and procrastination.

Monday, October 17, 2005

For years people in Bearwood, particularly the elederly, have complained with some justification that we haven't got any decent toilets in the shopping centre. So, the Council did a deal with advertising company JCDecaux which resulted in one of those continental superloos being fitted in the town. Now, knock me down with a feather, the NIMBYs don't want it!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Its a good news day.... maybe. It wouldn't be the first time this devious old get had spun a line of bull on the day of an AGM in order to get himself off the hook. It is said that no-one has got a good word for Doug Ellis. I have: try.... bastard.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Did Cameron inhale?

Should Tory Leadership candidate David Cameron be obliged to 'come out' over whether or not he took drugs as an undergraduate? Ann Widdecombe, that well known liberal on these matters, says no, he should not. She feels whether or not he has taken drugs is of no importance, but she wants to know if he is hypocritical enough for her liking and will persecute sufficiently those who do take drugs. But should it matter? Politicians like Mo Mowlam haven't found that admitting smoking a joint or two in their student days was a major stumbling block in their career. So why not Cameron.... it could even improve his street cred. with some people (although I suspect it would not help in the eyes of the reactionary old buffoons who will select their leader).

Well, if you apply for a job as a teacher, or a management job in the NHS, or a Social Worker (No, not a Socialist Worker... for them drug taking is obligatory) you have to declare to those interviewing you whether you have even received a police caution for possession of a tiny amount of cannabis. So, why shouldn't the rules be more stringent for those who want to become Prime Minister of this country? Come on Cameron... did you or did you not inhale?

Some clown wrote in a letter to last night's Birmingham Evening Mail that Peter Crouch should never be allowed anywhere near an England shirt because he "can't run, can't pass, can't head the ball and doesn't score goals." Just to avoid being entirely negative, the twerp suggested the laughable Emile Heskey as a credible alternative. Last season Crouch scored 12 goals in 27 appearances for Southampton, who were relegated. This compares favourably to Didier Drogba, who despite playing with the superstars of Champions Chelsea, only managed 10 goals in 26 appearances. As for Emile Ivanhoe (honestly, its his name) Heskey... he managed 10 goals in 34 appearances for 'sleeping giants' Birmingham City. Just think how good Crouchy will be when he learns to run, pass and score!
On Newsnight the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, made it abundantly clear that the Government's aim now in Iraq, was to deliver a stable and democratic government to that country. Leaving aside the "5-10 years" he thought that would take, given the situation we find ourselves in, it could be portrayed as a laudable, if unlikely ambition. However, given that Saddam Hussein was only engaged in terrorising the people of Iraq, it doesn't do anything for the Blair/Bush War Against Terrorism.... but converesly seems to have at least fueled, and maybe encouraged the spread of international terrorism. Now Charles Clarke's latest measures aimed to deal with 'terrorists' or those who advocate it, are being interpreted as an incitement to terrorism. The Home Secretary says, He could not think of any situation in the world where "violence would be justified to bring about change". Milne writes...."as the mayor of London pointed out yesterday, support for Nelson Mandela, the wartime resistance and any number of anti-colonial liberation movements would all have been crimes under this bill."

The BBC website invites you to send in your views on Thatcher. I suspect the webmaster's censorship pencil is going to be working overtime today.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Via Jo Salmon, something devised by her partner Antonia....

You put your first name into Google, followed by the word "needs".

Mine came out worryingly as, Bob needs... advice, Bob needs... a job, or
Bob needs... a new cage!
I was uneasy about the 'A Very Social Secretary' programme on Monday night. I chose to watch it over the new Ray Winston drama on 4 and I taped the programme about the Camp David talks on BBC2. So, I must have wanted to watch it. Yet, after 15 minutes or so, I turned it off. Now I realise exactly what I didn't like. Not that I felt any particular sympathy for a Minister making a fool of himself and being lampooned, nor the fact that it seemed like a series of Rory Bremner sketches... but that the joke was... Blunkett is blind. Even in the short time I watched it was inconceivable that many of the jokes (jibes) would have made it into a programme about any other public figure having a relationship with a married woman.

Lee Jasper on Trevor Phillips
: "Any CRE chair who does not know if councils should print documents in more than one language, or whether "coloured" is an appropriate term, or whether holy days should be respected wherever possible, should seriously consider whether he is in the right job." I agree with Jasper. However, when I worked in Walsall once residents would refer to the 'coloured girl' because they were trying to avoid being rude. They thought the term black was offensive.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A hard rain

It hasn't rained in these parts for what seems like weeks. Until tonight, that is, when a hardy band of anti-fascist leafleters set out to deliver on an estate the BNP have targetted recently. It peed down the whole time and we were forced to abandon the struggle when the leaflets started tearing as they went through the door. Still, it was a good lesson for my son Mike, who is studying politics at 'A' level. Now he has seen the soaking wet and miserable side of the story at first hand.
It is with great relief that we can announce that Sandwell's mummified head is to be archived... and just when I thought she was leading the Tory Group.

Monday, October 10, 2005

A US Vietnam veteran has saved and published the poignant diaries of a young doctor shot by US troops in 1967 whilst fighting to protect her wounded patients. "I know that an Iraqi mother will one day be in the same position as Mother Dang. Why are we in Iraq? I don't know. You can't know the vulgarity of war until you've been there, until you've been splattered with your friend's blood," he concludes.

Thanks to Political Hack for this. How refreshing to note that if you phone the Social Services Out-of-hours helpline your call will be dealt with by a telephonist outsourced to 'Facilities Management' company Vertex. As he says: "If you are a member of the Council Cabinet, you may now wash your hands."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Oh no! Our glorious leader has 'intelligence' information that he cannot share with us for security reasons, about Iranian involvement in support of the 'insurgents' in Iraq. Is this information from the same preople that briefed him on the mythical weapons of mass destruction? Coincidentally,(?) his mate pronounces on Iran in similar terms on the same day. Scary.
Keep right on... there is something about the colour blue that gets my back up.

I was there – Gigs that changed the world

That’s the title of a book just released by Mark Paytress. Well, I can’t claim these changed the world, but they made a bloody big dent in me.

Van Morrison and The Caledonian Soul Orchestra, Birmingham Town Hall
(about 1970) - I had never heard anything like this before. Sulky old Van, out of his moody blues and into Californian gypsy soul music.

Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band, Old Traffic Cricket Ground, 2003 – I had seen Bruce before, over 20 years before, but for his sheer energy and entertainment value made this one stick out.

Pink Floyd, Mothers Club, Erdington, 1969 - Recorded for part of the live Ummagumma set. Introduced by Peel, Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun, Careful With That axe, Eugene. Sheer magic… it was another 20 years before Floyd recorded another live album.

Bob Dylan, Liverpool Odeon, 1966 - THAT tour.

Youssou N’Dour, Essaouira, Morrocco, 2005 - Not the greatest concert ever, but I will always remember it for that fantastic festival and that's the point. The experience is often more memorable than the music.

Jimi Hendrix, Some club in North London, 1967 – I was dossing around in London and someone at the hostel mentioned this bloke who had just come over from the States and could really play the guitar. I got there early and stood near the front (a mistake). Jimi was magnificent, and my ears were whistling for three days afterwards.

The Beatles, The Odeon, Birmingham 1964 - We queued up all night for tickets and with all the screaming I barely heard a word… but I could say I had seen them.

The Spencer Davis Group, The Alley outside Mothers, Erdington - We were queuing up outside to get in and Stevie Winwood was doing the soundcheck solo. He played a heartachingly good 'Georgia on my Mind' which he never played in the set but prompted spontaneous applause outside in the rain.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Steve Bell is ready for David Cameron.

IOU £7 million. Some people rob you with a fountain pen.

Was the 80's the worst ever decade for popular music? This says so to me. (via New Links)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

We all know that "we've got to change" is the theme for this week's Tory Conference. Well, thanks to Phil who sent me this. Pimp My Party is your chance to send the Tories to the knackers yard. Apparently based on some sort of MTV programme, Pimp My Ride, he said, sounding like a High Court Judge.

If you think the standard of the Tory opposition in Parliament is bad, you should try sitting through a Sandwell Council meeting. It has been months since anyone heard the Conservative leader, the lovely Karen Bissell, (Councillor for Old Warley and Express and Star Central) say anything at all. She sits through most Council meetings like a rabbit caught in the headlights whilst her deputy tries out his stand-up comic routine. I had been intrigued about Kas Bissell's inactivity, until I scrolled down this!

Monday, October 03, 2005

The hits on my blog seem to have been boosted largely by people google searching for Cuddles massage parlour, including one nice chap from the Express and Star newspaper (there see, I said I would 'out' you). So much for me thinking people were coming here for my sharp witty comments and deep political insight. Bummer eh! (That should up the hits)
Tom Watson invites comments on an article by Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Health, in which she states, "The NHS is, as Aneurin Bevan put it, 'the most civilised thing in the world.'" Personally, I suspect Nye got it right when he said, "It is an axiom, enforced by all the experience of the ages, that they who rule industrially will rule politically"..... except those were the days when we had industry. These days you can substitute 'financially'. Which leads us to.... this!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

A wonderfully affectionate piece about Paul Foot, The Gnome Years, by Richard Ingrams.

Tribute to Walter:
"That's the trouble with old people today - no respect." - Letter in The Guardian