Wednesday, November 30, 2005

There are weapons of mass destruction.... then there are OUR nuclear weapons.... and our friends nuclear weapons. Atomic Hypocrisy...Tony Benn comments on the distinction.

If I don't post anything for the next few days, send out a search party to dredge the cut! Want to know the reason for this misery? Look no further!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A good postscript to the 90-day detention debate. "a fear-driven society will always find something unique about the latest way that its members might be killed."

Goodness gracious! Peter Hain says something I agree with. And in a good day for Guardian letters, so do Mark, John, and Justin!

David Cameron's new 'nation service' for young people. Will they all have to dance around naked whilst bashing the daylights out of each other? (thinking about it, they seem to do that in Brum on a Saturday night most weeks anyway).

Monday, November 28, 2005

Every year the CBI gather for their beano with dark threats of mass unemployment if some piece of progressive legislation is introduced, or if employers are asked to do anything to consider their employees welfare. So, the National Minimum Wage was going to create over 3 million more unemployed.... equal pay for women was going to lead to the collapse of the economy... and now that clown Digby Jones is pedicting Britain will go bust if the government honour their contractual obligations to public sector workers over pensions.

The Grand Coalition looms ever closer. "Meanwhile, almost unnoticed, a fresh axis is establishing itself. On issue after issue, the old abysses separating the Conservatives from the Liberal Democrats have narrowed or virtually disappeared." As the yellow Tories in Birmingham have shown, they are comfortable bedfellows.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Ahh... poacher turned gamekeeper... or 'scoop' journalist turned spin doctor. The Council spokesperson in this article, Daniel Slee, is a sad Stoke City supporter who used to be gainfully employed by the Express and Star writing harsh, cruel and deeply hurtful articles about Sandwell Council.
The craze for this sort of thing seemed to start around the Millennium... certainly around here anyway. Do these mini-illuminations exist across the country, or are they a West Midlands phenomenon? This tasteful little number, complete with a Santa's Grotto, has appeared in the next Ward to ours.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Yesterday marked the 15th anniversary of the demise of the Wicked Witch of Finchley. The BBC has commemorated the event by devising a rather clever graph thingy... try comparing champagne imports to coal production.

Just when did Cawol Thatcher become a 'celebrity'. Being the result of a congress between dipso Den and the devil's own daughter, doesn't make you a celebrity. Presumably the boy Mark could also have been invited, he's running out of countries to live in.

Monday, November 21, 2005

As someone who has ploughed his way through every edition of The Benn Diaries I suppose it would be hypocritical of me to complain about senior civil servants giving their views of events. What I do object to however, is the Chair of the Press Complaints Commission hawking his work round the national media to the highest bidder. Surely there should be some degree of impartiality in that position, and flogging your story about John Major's choice of underwear to Fleet Street editors (or Wapping and where ever they are now based) compromises that position. Anyway... just what exactly does the Chair of the Press Complaints Commission bring to the table to justify £155,000 a year for a part time-job?

Friday, November 18, 2005

“It was the flies that told us. There were millions of them, their hum almost as eloquent as the smell. Big as bluebottles, they covered us, unaware at first of the difference between the living and the dead. If we stood still, writing in our notebooks, they would settle like an army – legions of them – on the white surface of our notebooks, hands, arms, faces, always congregating around our eyes and mouths, moving from body to body, from the many dead to the few living, from corpse to reporter, their small green bodies panting with excitement as they found new flesh upon which to settle and feast.”

Robert Fisk was one of a handful of journalists who entered the Sabra and Chatila Palestinian refugee camps within hours of the Israeli endorsed massacre in 1982. I'm currently reading 'Tell Me No Lies', John Pilger's anthology of investigative journalism articles since the second world war, and that passage starts Fisk's outstanding and deeply disturbing contribution to the book, Terrorists. Definitely not for the squeamish, the article makes no bones about where the responsibility for the massacre lay, with the then Israeli Defence Minister, Ariel Sharon, and Tony Parson's old hero, Menachem Begin. No wonder the US kept journalists away from Fallujah. You can get Tell Me No Lies for just over a fiver from Amazon - 600 pages of pure gold.


The message on this soldier's helmet 'kill the messenger' gives an indication of their attitude to the media. More here.

The only tattoo I ever found even vaguely appealing was a guy in a market in Spain who had had his 'washing instructions' label tattooed just below his neck. So, why would you want to do this? Let's hope Charlie Clarke doesn't see it because given the hopeless history of government IT projects he might see this as an alternative to ID Cards.


Steve Bell's view.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Another Chavez takes on the might of the United States... and wins!
Melanie Phillips (description deleted on the advice of solicitors) banging her favourite drum, is convinced that the French riots are an Islamist plot to convert France into a Muslim state. Yes, Melanie, and the Watts riots... and Brixton riots? Or could the common factor be young people who are alienated, the victims of racism and exclusion? A much more interesting read is the Ken Livingstone interview on Something Jewish.
Steve at Occupied Country (if you haven't been there, go now) suggests we put our iPod or iTunes on shuffle and write down the first five tunes randomly selected. I gave it a go... and thankfully there was nothing too embarassing:

A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall - Dylan ('Live 1964')
Companeros - Christy Moore ('This is The Day')
Keito - Ali Farka Toure & Ry Cooder ('Talking Timbuktu')
Dojo Kun ( Jamais Laisser Tomber) - Temple of Sound (World 2003)
The Cool Out - The Clash (Super Black Market Clash)

Not bad with over 3,000 to choose from.

Rachel from north London recalls an hilarious conversation with Sir Ian Blair. I'd have loved to see his face. Thanks also to Rachel for this link... if it's still working, that is, Blair Abolishes Elections.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Michael Howard makes the worst case yet for Blair to stand down. Surely political parties go to the electorate either on their record in government, or on the promise of what they will do in future (or both).

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be. I would question the wisdom (and sanity) of anyone who suggests that John Motson "will go down as one of the all-time best commentators in television."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Better be careful what you are getting up to in the Cinema in Walsall and Wolverhampton, boys and girls. The staff are being issued with night-vision glasses. Goblet of Fire, indeed!

Meanwile, in neighbouring Dudley, the Tories are giving their definition of education reform.

"Lagaay, from Brighton, hit Adis and then stamped on his face during a drunken scuffle at the Level club in April. The victim then "whacked" his head against the floor of the men's toilets, suffering a fractured skull and brain haemorrhage. Last week, Judge Tom Crowther conceded that Lagaay had no intention of seriously harming Mr Kulo." Just a bit of clowning around then, eh Tom?

Monday, November 14, 2005

When everyone was "telling Sid" about gas privatisation and putting their shares in the new "leccy companies" behind the clock on the mantlepiece... there were those siren voices who warned that once these companies had settled in, the god of 'market forces' would strike back with a vengence. Well, wrap up warm... those days have come to pass.
For some strange reason former trade union General Secretary Alan Johnson wants to bite the hand that feeds him. Why on earth would the New Labour heirarchy care whether the trade unions vote en bloc at Conference? The Leadership only treat the Conference as a glam rally for themselves, and steadfastly refuse to even recognise any decision that they themselves don't agree with. Perhaps they want the unions to withdraw their money... introduce the State funding of political parties, and then they could rename themselves The Social Democrat Party.

Go, Silvio, Go. The Bad Democracy Awards.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

"While the world looks to Iran and Syria for the next Bush attack, Venezuelans know they may well be next." Same theme as yesterday... This time from John Pilger.

Friday, November 11, 2005

I had the misfortune last night to watch 'This Week' on TV. They had that irritating little twerp Tony Parsons presenting an insulting little film about the fact that MPs had turned down a police proposal to allow internment for 90 days. He said if there was a further terrorist outrage in London, the MPs who refused to back Blair would have blood on their hands. Parsons has always been an irritating little snipe, and he should know all about those with 'blood on their hands'. His first ever book, 'The boy looked at Johnny', co-authored with that other poser Julie Birchill, had a dedication that even the publishers printed a rebuttal of. The dedication was to that famous terrorist, Menachem Begin, who launched an armed action against the British, including bombing a hotel in which nearly 100 people died.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Thank God for Kerron Cross, I say. Whilst others were carrying out their vital duty in defying The Special One over his 90-day Internment Law, Kerron found time to get out on the stump and join the cleaners on the picket line outside of the House of Commons. I particularly liked this from Kerron: "I like the point Jack Dromey, the General Secretary of the TGWU, made in his speech about the privileged lifestyle of the Serjeant at Arms. He states that Sir Peter Grant Peterkin earns over £100,000 a year and lives in grace and favour accommodation due to his position - it's a very good point, which I hope wasn't lost on his wife Harriet Harman the Government Minister (who I believe earns over £100,000 and has access to grace and favour accommodation due to her position)". Nice to see some of our Lib Dem friends showing their true colours.... err, that's yellow, isn't it?
As it says on Talk Politics, if you read nothing else about the Terror Bill, read what Rachel has to say.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"Bush believes the spread of liberty, not the search for allies in an eternally shifting balance of power, is the guarantor of Western security." That should generate a belly laugh or two in Caracas.
Ramsey MacBlair's 'Government of National Unity' moves a step closer.

I once sat on the same shop stewards committee as Bill Morris at a factory in Brum. I liked him a lot. What a shame he has got to be associated with this shower. I knew Maggie Jones too. She represented UNISON on Labour's NEC and deeply resisted any democratisation of the union's political fund. Why, it might even have compelled her to vote in line with the union's policies. As for the CEO of Priory Health Care being honoured by the PM... I refer you to the remarks I made a few moments ago.

This is one for my old pal Ernesto, not that he ever took that many bites... who ate all the pies?

It's a dog's life, eh?

When I first saw this headline... my heart skipped a beat! Fortunately, it's another one.

Monday, November 07, 2005

As the Tories (surprise, surprise) rally round to try to save Blair's Terrorism Bill, the delightful Anne Widdecombe tells The Scum: "If we now end up with 28 days and someone on the 29th day goes out and kills someone, where will that leave us?". Which elicits this reply from The Anorak... It’s hard to say. But perhaps in a similar spot than if we end up with the full 90 days and someone on the 91st day goes out and kills someone, or everyone. (hat tip to Bloggerheads).

Political Hack on the disaster that is Hemming's mate Mike Whitby.
As Gil Scott Heron sang, in his classic 'B Movie' "God damn it…first one wants freedom, then the whole damn world wants freedom." On that basis, these people are scary... Uncle Sam's worst nightmare. Can't be long now before the drums start beating out the WMD warnings... and the 45 minute readiness stories.

Friday, November 04, 2005

We skipped Bearwood Jazz last night to go to a Comedy Club arranged to raise funds for Unite Against Fascism. I don't go much for standup comics, and when other people roll in the aisles over the likes of Ken Dodd or Jasper Carott (the World's unfunniest comedian who has never so much as succeeded in getting me to break into a smirk), I just don't get it. So, I wasn't easy to impress by the six acts. I don't want to be unkind because all of them were donating their time for free, and some had travelled from as far away as Manchester and Bristol to appear... but, well, some of them weren't very good. One thing that impressed me yhough, was a guy who could give you the telephone area dialling code for anywhere in the Country. As people shouted place names out, including students from unlikely areas such as Buldleigh Salterton, he got their dialing codes spot on. I don't know how many there are in the UK... but I was impressed. Not laughing, but... impressed!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

It has been 15 years since I was last inside the House of Commons. November 1st 1990 marked the 15th anniversary of Geoffrey Howe’s resignation speech which prompted that pompous ass Heseltine to stand against Thatcher for the Leadership of the Party. Three weeks later I was attending a trade union delegation to an all-Party meeting on Pensions in one of the Committee Rooms. One Labour MP, Tony Banks, chided his Tory counterparts by saying they found it difficult to concentrate because of events unfolding down the corridor. Well, down the corridor the Tories were busy applying the first touches to their summary execution of the Wicked Witch of Finchley. As she returned to Downing Street after the first ballot she was only 2 votes short of the margin she needed for victory and she announced she was going to fight on. Fatally (for her, if not the rest of us) she flew out to Paris for a European Summit, and by the time she got back a couple of days later, the game was up. From a seemingly invulnerable position she had been wiped from the political map in just a few short days.

Yesterday, I returned to the scene of that glorious crime. Walking down the corridor to the tea room near the Commons library, the TV screen flashed an update… The Minister for Work and Pensions, David Blunkett had resigned. A couple of hours later at Prime Minister’s Question Time, Michael Howard taunted Tony Blair, saying he had lost the support of his Cabinet and that he had “Office without power” (which seemed a bit rich from a man waiting for his P45 and was shortly going to be without either). The interesting things was that although the ‘loyalists’ hoping to climb the greasy pole dutifully supported the PM, the front bench seemed to find something interesting happening near their shoelaces. Still… I couldn’t help getting that feeling of déjà vu all over again, as that glorious tennis commentator said last year. A couple of hours later on, Blair came the closest he has got so far to a smack in the face when he won a division on a clause in the Terrorism Bill by a single vote. Turbulent times indeed.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

As the late, great Ian Dury would have said, What a waste.
I don't mean to be disrespectful to what will, I am sure, be a very moving day for survivors and relatives of those who will be remembered today... but couldn't the BBC have said on their news bulletins that there would be five candles lit at St Paul's Cathedral today?

Courtesy of my MP, Mrs P, the two dusbin lids, who are both studying politics, and myself will be going to the Mother of Parliaments tomorrow to see our democracy working at close quarters. The kids are under strict orders to keep their discipline when the Tories are on their feet... and I'm hoping they do the same when our lot are speaking.

Talking of discipline.... the first half of this match last night was one of the most shambolic performances I have ever seen in my life. I always liked Darius. Nice, quiet, unassuming lad who came up with a regular half-dozen goals a season. A bit like Emile Heskey without the whingeing. But no-one used to gift him goals like we did! Still, nice to see this bloke behind bars at last.