Tuesday, January 31, 2006

According to this report in The Times, there is concern for the peace process in Ireland because the IRA are still spying. Now, this shouldn't be confused with recent reports that British spies are still operating in Moscow, nor the fact that British Intelligence (a real misnomer that one) has produced reams of 'intellingence' about nuclear facilities in Tehran. No... see, they are OUR spies... and that is the difference.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Just before Christmas, Steve's parents were 'visited' by scum thieving from his parents. His dad has subsequently been very ill. Just exactly how low down the food chain do these bastards have to sink to get up to this sort of act of bravery. I don't subscribe to the Tony Martin 'right to shoot burglars' philosophy... but I understand entirely the sympathy it attracts.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Raise arms.... take aim..... fire!
The LibDem Twelve Days of Christmas

“On the Twelth Day of Christmas my True Love sent to me……

Twelve Lords imbibing,
Eleven rent boys telling,
Ten gays denying,
Nine journos digging,
Eight hit men missing,
Seven Mayors exposing,
Six MPs plotting,
Five Sexual Deviants.
Four dodgy gifts,
Three jammed guns,
Two drunken Leaders,
And a cartridge in a Great Dane."

Via Iain Dale.

I am reminded of that moment in I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue when they were inventing celebrity answerphone messages. "Hello, you're through to Peter Tatchell. I'm out at the moment.... if you would like to be outed too, leave your details after the bleep."
"If you provide state-of-the-art facilities plus a significant state-provided increment on the school budget, you will usually achieve better examination results. Who could ever have expected such an outcome?" Letter in The Guardian

In one sentence (in an article that is supposed to be about the Artic Monkeys but is primarily about himself) Paul Morley destroys the 1% of credibility he ever had and gets an instant entry into pseuds corner: "The hipper, cultier movies continually re-contextualise 1980s music." Ouch!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Professor Allyson Pollock has been exposing the myth of PFI up and down the country to small audiences for about 10 years now, whilst the Treasury have been banging on about it being the only game in town. Finally, some people are beginning to understand the logic of her case.

Mistaken Identity

"I see Hughes has come out, eh" I mentioned to a mate of mine this morning. "Bloody hell", he said, "he has only done a couple of years" No, Dave, not THAT Hughes!

Eric the Unread has a new Lib Dem anthem.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

And all that righteous indignation when Tom said “vote Lib Dem… get Tories” eh? Now they are not only running cities together, there is a possibility the might morph into each other. Over at Iain Dale's Diary, Iain's getting damp patches of excitement about it all. Frankly, I'm bloody horrified every time it's suggested one of the yellow swine are associated with joining us. Quite why an unreconstructed Thatcherite would welcome the arrival of some more lilly-livered liberals to boost the Cameron crowd is beyond me.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Never mind Brown or Blair, Hughes and whoever... there's devastating news from the White House!

I think he's gone too far this time. Whatever thoughts I might ever have harboured about my MP.... I cannot in a million years imagine him doing this.
Tim's scatalogical observation.

Would the next Liberal Democrat without scandals lurking in the closet please stand up.
Political Hack's observation.

On the subject of skeletons and cupboards...It has all gone quiet over here.
Tony Benn argues for a left challenger to the coronation of Gordon Brown as Blair’s successor. I agree with almost everything Benn says here… with one reservation. “Any candidate who came out against the Iraq war, privatisation and the crude commercialisation of our school system, with a hidden return to selection, at the expense of local education authorities, could be sure of party and public support, as would those who argued for pensions linked to earnings, an end to student fees, and a non-nuclear energy policy based on renewables and conservation,” he writes. Whilst I agree the Party needs to have this discussion, I think it underestimates the degree to which the media are now able to dominate and manipulate the agenda. Any leadership candidate standing on a platform of ending the cosy three Party consensus would be faced with the full monty from the media.

They would be accused of wanting to return to Polly’s ‘wrecking’ tactics, of fighting an outdated class war, and of pursuing a high tax and spend agenda (which, God forbid, might drive Tom Jones, Phil Collins and Rod Stewart to live abroad – by the way, I haven’t seen Rod, Tom and Phil down the pub lately, where do they live now?). The myths 1979 would all be dragged out – and remember, you would have to be over 40 to know whether or not they were the complete cobblers that they are. The new Leadership candidate would be accused of arguing for a return to the days when trade unions ran the country whilst bags of rubbish mounted up in the streets and you couldn’t bury your granny unless you had express permission from the local secretary of the GMB. The country would be left defenceless as hordes of Russians (oh no, sorry, Arabs) massed on our borders waiting to deflower our young and steal our money. Richard Branson, we would be told, would be heading off to Bermuda as his hard earned assets would be nationalised and turned into massive loss making state-owned bureaucracies and hordes of unruly youths would march through the streets demanding Digby Jones’ head on a turnpike (actually, that one might be a vote winner). Of course, Richard and Digby's money would then be misused by local politically correct neighbourhood committees dominated by gays and lesbians who would ensure maths and english were replaced by gender and peace studies on the school curriculum.

Alternatively, the media would offer us St Gordon, a safe pair of trousers, the saviour of the economy, the Lord of PFI who ‘gave’ the nation all those hospital and school buildings and set the Bank of England free from the shackles of all those interfering do-gooders.

No Tony, I love you to death, but sorry mate, you're wrong on this one. If we imagine there is the slightest chance that a left candidate for the Leadership would have a chance of a fair contest, we are spitting into a hurricane. It could never happen and they could never win. Unless, of course, we gave this man a chance.

Friday, January 20, 2006

History consists of a series of accumulated imaginative inventions.

History is always written wrong, and so always needs to be rewritten.
George Santayana

I don’t propose to give any credence to the full gist of Polly Toynbee’s ridiculous article, but there are a couple of points I would want to make. Firstly, I disagree with my MP, John Spellar, on many, many issues. However, his loathing for the Lib Dems is one of his plus points, and I’m pleased to see that he still reserves more bile for them than he does for the Labour left.

The second point is the throwaway remark by Toynbee at the start of the article that “in 1981, despairing of the ability of the leadership of Michael Foot to halt the Bennites' wrecking tactics and the many Militant coups, the Gang of Four - Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Shirley Williams and Bill Rodgers - split away to offer a better social-democratic challenge to Margaret Thatcher.” There you are, that was the reason, they had a “social democratic vision” and wanted to stop the left wrecking the Party they loved (or should that be controlled).

Did they? What were these ‘Bennite wrecking tactics’? Oh yes, I remember, they were about democracy in the Labour Party. Following the defeat in the 1979 General Election the Party in the country became embroiled in an intense debate about how the Party was run. These constitutional arguments centred around extending the franchise for the election of Leader and Deputy Leader rather than just MPs having a vote, mandatory reselection of MPs to try to ensure accountability (before this ‘wrecking’ measure was introduced an MP in a safe Labour seat held the job for life as long as s/he could sweet talk a couple of dozen people on the General Management Committee) and allowing the Party NEC control over the election manifesto (both Wilson and Callaghan claimed they had a personal veto over elements in the manifesto that they did not support.

Now, there is a valid argument about how New Labour has been successful in reclaiming the power of the leadership over the Party, but the fact that a number of right-leaning Labour MPs around David Owen, Roy Jenkins, Shirley Poppins and Bill Rogers decided to throw their rattle out of the pram because they may be held accountable to the wider Party, can be continually dressed up as “wrecking tactics” by their opponents is just utter rubbish. The reality is the founders of the Social Democrat Party formed their own organisation because they were frightened of …. Democracy.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

No apologies at all for linking to this site twice in such a short time but these are better days indeed. When smarmy Campbell tries to disguise the Tories as something new, just remember those same Pinochet buddies are still there in waiting.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Letter in The Guardian:

To the north of Iran lies Russia, an expansionist nuclear state that has invaded Muslim Chechnya. To the west is Iraq which invaded Iran in the 1980s and is now occupied by two nuclear-armed powers, Britain and the US. Also to the west lies Israel, another nuclear power. Although President Ahmadinejad's latest statement makes it clear that his country has no desire to develop nuclear weapons, the case for Iran to have an independent nuclear deterrent is far stronger than that for the possession of nuclear weapons by the UK.
Yusuf Rakeem

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Fifth Lib Dem enters Leadership race. Actually, on closer examination, the author of this site is either slightly disturbed or had a drop too much of the Charlie Kennedy's lately.

How refreshing to hear that George Galloway has referred to Denis Rodman as 'bro' in the Big Brother house. Is this how George addresses Maggot or Preston (who? I hear you ask) his fellow inmates in the house, or the 'yoof' of Bethnal Green and Bow. I suspect not, (although no doubt there will be Respect members getting in touch to confirm George's street credentials) but that this is George's way of showing he is hip and can 'talk the talk' in the black man's language. If he starts tapping fists with Denis, rapping or chatting about his bro's natural sense of rhythm I will be truly convinced that this man has completely lost the plot.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Thanks to Tom Watson for this link. Dunnes Stores in Dublin, the focus of international opprobrium when, in the 1980's a check-out worker, Mary Manning, followed her trade union policy and refused to check-out South African apartheid products. The dispute lasted three years and acted as a focus for people around the world who were opposing Thatcher's friends in the Apartheid regime. Well... some people never learn. Sign the petition here. Spread the word.

If there is anyone in Canada who stumbles across this site and would care to do me the occasional tape of this guy's programme, I would be eternally in your debt.
The Standards Board of England and Wales emerged out of the Nolan Commission on Standards in Public Life. Its purpose was to ensure that local authority elected members, when acting in their capacity as a councillor, behaved with propriety and also that some of the more horrific instances of abuse of officers by members, and vice versa, was curtailed. Well, Councillor Tom Ansell, the Conservative Leader of Walsall Council, has given me 7 days to apologise to the people of Walsall for innocuous comments made on this blog site... or he will report me to the Standards Board. Normally I would treat his correspondence as private, but given that he chose to embark on a tirade of abuse against me on the radio on Friday, including his threat of the Standards Board, I will print the text of my reply here.:

Dear Councillor Ansell,

Thank you for your letter dated 13 January about the article on my Weblog. I have re-read the item that you appear to think insults the people of Walsall and I cannot find anything in the remarks I have made which make any reference at all to the people of Walsall, and I cannot, therefore, find anything to apologise to them about.

In fact, in my 24 years working in Walsall I found the Walsall people to be amongst the nicest people I have ever met and worked alongside, albeit very badly served over the years by their elected representatives. I deeply resent your malicious assertion that I have insulted them in any way whatsoever.

On that basis you will not be receiving any apology from me at all, and if you wish to waste even more time and public money making this frivolous reference to the Standards Board, do so. Censoring elected members free speech by using the Standards Board might be the way you deal with issues in your Borough, it will not wash with the Standards Board which was created to deal with serious issues such as the bullying of Officers by Members, which you will be more than aware of in Walsall. Personally, I would have thought someone in your position would find better ways to spend their time, but that is up to you.

Incidentally, the compromise agreement signed by myself and the Council states that neither Party will make or publish any derogatory or disparaging statement intended to damage or lower the reputations of the other. I have deliberately avoided making any statement or remarks of a derogatory nature about the Council, its Officers or Elected Members in the written media, on the radio, or even on my weblog. You, on the other hand have not respected that contract and have made insulting statements about myself in the Chronicle newspaper and on Radio WM. Perhaps when you are making your ridiculous reference to the Standards Board you would like to provide them with these remarks. If you do not, I will.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Piper

Friday, January 13, 2006

Ming's minders try to gag Hemming

John Hemming, the West Midland's very own favourite for leadership of the rudderless ship known as the Liberal Democrat Party, is being quoted as I write at 379-1 on Politicalbetting to win the race. To put things in context, you can get similar odds that Celebrity Big Brother's lothario Gorgeous George Galloway will replace Tony Blair as Leader of the Labour Party. Despite the bookies scepticism, it would appear senior figures within the Lib Dems are so worried by the possibility of John sweeping the nation with his warm and passionate oratory... they have resorted to trying to gag him!

Meantime, cross party support for John continues to grow here, and here.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

OK... here is the full gist of the eccentric (and outraged) Tory Councillor Tom Ansell's amazing outburst (most of which is complete cobblers) in which I am identified as the most obnoxious person he has ever met.
10 good reasons to vote Liberal Democrat: Iain Dale's Diary has a terrific poster tribute to Charlie Kennedy (not suitable for a family newspaper).

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I'm told the Tory Leader of a neighbouring local authority has labelled me in the media as "the most obnoxious person he has ever met." This simply because I lightheartedly described his charming little hamlet as "a dump" even though I never even suggested he was responsible. Coming from a Tory, and from a man with such a deep political insight, I am obligated to say that's the nicest compliment I have ever received in my entire political career.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

"Do you ever get that scary feeling that there’s more than one Peter Mandelson? What are they really doing in Millbank Tower? They tell us it’s a communications centre. Well, I reckon they’re making Mandelsons up there and getting read to store them in that Millennium Dome in Greenwich. When the clock strikes midnight on December 31 1999, millions of Mandelsons will emerge from the Dome and civilization as we know it will be at an end." Tony Banks, (via Iain Dale... who just so happened to have compiled 'The Wit and Wisdom of Tony Banks') and is presumably hoping for a reprint.

Monday, January 09, 2006

If they start to eulogise over Ariel Sharon on your nightly new bulletins, just remember, his death would be none too soon for many. Robert Fisk says: So it is as a war criminal that Sharon will be known forever in the Arab world, through much of the Western world, in fact - save, of course, for the craven men in the White House and the State Department and the Blair Cabinet - as well as many leftist Israelis.
Shurely shome mistake? The Grauniad appears to have overlooked the challenge from Yardley's very own leadership challenger. So, in the interest of fairness, the PoliticalHackUK gives us a brief synopsis of the Hemming career which ably demonstrates the man is definitely fit to run this hopeless shower.

I hear on the grapevine that pornographer David Sullivan is considering adopting this strategy for his ailing football club.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Whoever took this decision is completely potty and should have the humility and commonsense to apologise to the family. (via Normblog)
Surely this cannot be serious. I know that Political Hack and myself have jokingly urged the Lib Dems to elect John Hemming as their new Leader, but you don't expect people to take it seriously. This must be a spoof! We all know that Hemming thinks Hemming is great... but how did he get the support of another batty Lib Dem MP. Charlie Kennedy with half a bottle of Scotland's finest inside of him would do less damage to the Lib Dems. Go for it John. I'm backing Hemming!
Of course, on a purely selfish level, the imminent demise of the Lib Dems could be bad news as their supporters return to their natural home in the Conservative Party.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

"The icon of horror of Saddam Hussein's rule is a 1988 film of petrified bodies in the Kurdish town of Halabja, killed in a chemical weapons attack. The attack has been referred to a great deal by Bush and Blair and the film shown a great deal by the BBC. At the time, as I know from personal experience, the Foreign Office tried to cover up the crime at Halabja. The Americans tried to blame it on Iran." Pilger on The Quiet Death of Freedom.
Does anybody know just exactly how much we cough up each year for "British Intelligence"?“

…..western intelligence agencies say they have tracked Iranian attempts to secretly acquire sophisticated equipment for nuclear programmes and missile development.” (Fuelling the crisis, The Guardian January 5th 2006)

“….a senior British official directly accused Tehran of supplying Iraqi insurgents with sophisticated roadside bombs that have killed eight British soldiers and two security guards since May.” UK accuses Iran over killings of soldiers, The Guardian October 6th 2005)

“Government officials now acknowledge that there is no evidence, or even reliable intelligence, connecting the Iranian government to the infra-red triggered bombs which have killed 10 British soldiers in the past eight months.” (Anger as Britain admits it was wrong to blame Iran for deaths in Iraq, The Independent January 5th 2006)

Your front-page coverage of Iran's alleged nuclear activities suggests that you have not learned the important lessons from Iraq. After recent intelligence failures over WMD, editors should be doubly wary of "leaked intelligence", its timing and the motives of those who provided the information. (Iran intelligence is not trustworthy, Letter to The Guardian January 6th 2006)

Friday, January 06, 2006

Is this the moment of New Labour’s victory?

Philip Gould, in a letter to The Guardian, offers an interesting analysis of the current political situation. Cameron’s ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ is not so much the reinvigoration of the Tories, Gould says, it is an admission of defeat: “What has happened to the Conservative party in recent weeks is the political equivalent of the collapse of the Berlin wall. New Labour has pushed and they have capitulated….. proving that in the long march of British politics, we were right and they were wrong.”

In a sense, I think Gould is right. Cameron’s anxiety to distance the Conservative Party from policies they have fought elections on, not just in the last year but for generations, is an attempt to drive the stake deep into the heart of Thatcherism. It is an acceptance by the Party leadership that the great ‘She-Devil’ that they have revered and worshipped, is a reviled and hated figure throughout most of the country. In coming to that realisation, the Conservative Party have accepted New Labour has won the battle for the centre ground of British politics.

The consequences of this realignment in British politics could prove catastrophic for our democracy. What it says is that all future elections will be a fight for the votes of a few hundred thousand people in middle-England. The political parties don’t have to give a fig for the voters in their traditional heartlands. New Labour doesn’t need to tailor their policies to win the votes of whippet breeders in Barnsley, welders in Wolverhampton, or building workers in Bootle. The same is true of the Tories in the Shires. They know that even if they put up a monkey in Buckingham the Tory faithful would still turn out in droves to vote for it (you could say that John Bercow was living proof of that). No…. neither party has to fight for those votes, what they are both after are the votes of those people in the middle-ground of politics.

What we are now seeing is the Tory spin doctors spinning the message their focus groups tell them these people want to hear. The middle ground doesn’t want a privatised NHS for their granny; they do want selection in schools so that their little Samantha doesn’t have to mix with rough kids from the council houses; they don’t like the idea of the Euro, but they are not anti-European. As Kinnock said in his infamous 'redundancy notices delivered by taxis' speech, you can have all the principles in the World, but without power they count for nowt (The flip side of this coin wasn't mentioned; you can have all the power in the World, but if you've sacrificed your principles to get it, it equally counts for nowt).

So, what does all this mean? Have the Tories finally capitulated and accepted New Labour was right all along? Or is this just smoke and mirrors and after the election, Cameron will rip off the mask and Norman Lamont’s adviser and Michael Howard’s script writer will step out of the shadows and restore the Thatcher heritage. I suspect Tories wishing and hoping for the latter will be seriously disappointed. In the same way that the Labour left thought Blair was just ‘putting it all on’ and would stop all that New Labour nonsense when he got into power, the sad reality for the retired Field Marshals and blue-rinsed battalions could be that Cameron means what he says.

Then, like elections in the US, we can all go out and choose between tweedle-dum and tweedle dumber.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

So, at last.... Charlie's 'come out'. No real surprise though, surely. How could you expect anyone to lead this lily-livered shower without being driven to drink! In the immediate aftermath the speculation is that the manner of his statement means that anyone standing against him would be regarded as insensitive. Well, my money is on at least one candidate with the skin of a rhino (and no earthly prospect of winning) standing against him... step forward into the paddock.... Hemming the stalking donkey.
Masters of War
And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead.

An interesting list of those who have had their obituaries prematurely announced.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

So, Cameron really is the full Monty... a true Blair clone. Today he is to announce a new Tory policy for the NHS and will admit that the policy they fought the General Election on a few months ago was complete rubbish (he presumably won't dwell on the fact that he was the author of the Manifesto). Like Blair announcing Labour's new Education policy, without any reference to the Party, and precious little reference to the Secretary of State for Education, Cameron doesn't seem to have discussed the issue with Andrew Lansley (who he? I hear you say... well he is supposed to be Shadow Health Secretary). So, Cameron "will stress his commitment to the NHS".... but Andrew is saying "his party would impose no limits on the use of the private sector". Who should people believe? Well, like the Lib Dems when they try to face both ways at the same time.... neither of them!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Blogger purged by Leb Dims for his blogging activity. How very bloody Liberal of you.

Oh, and (via Iain Dale) here's your chance to plunge the Leb Dims into further oblivion... sign the Save Chuckie petition. At the time of writing only 34 poor souls had, and I'm reliably informed most were Labour and Tory.
David Cameron is a fraudster and a hypocrite. So says the Small Town Scribbler, and who am I to disagree.

Herbert Douglas Ellis... it's his birthday (choke on it!)

I just love the Wikipedia entry for Aston Villa Chairman Doug Ellis. It has just the right tone of irreverance for this shocking little man. I like the bit which states that he was reported to be the first football club director to pay himself a salary (believed to be as high as £200,000 per annum). Oh, yes, and the passage that says Ellis sold a number of his shares at flotation, raising around £4m for himself. They even debunk his ludicrous claim to have 'invented the bicycle kick', something more popularly attributed to flaboyant continental players such as Pele. The fact is, to most Aston Villa supporters, Herbert Douglas Ellis is an unpleasant smell which lingers around the ground... and unfortunately we are saddled with him. But for a man who has made a personal fortune out of football, his latest demented spoutings just about take the biscuit. Its bad enough 'rent-a-headline' Caborn coming out with this claptrap, without one of sport's very own pocket-liners spouting off. I'll believe Richard Caborn is serious about a salary cap for the overpaid when he and his leader get up at the CBI Conference and demand it, and Gordon Brown tells the penguin-suits in the Mansion House to enjoy their dinner because he is going to start salary-capping. Perhaps Richard Caborn would like to back my call for Doug Ellis's salary to be capped... to nil!
I had a good day out yesterday at The Hawthorns. There was some 'jovial banter' between the two sets of supporters, but peace was maintained by a line of fairly friendly, but firm, matchday stewards. In fact, they seemed to be responsible for nearly all the security in the stadium despite the presence of large numbers of police officers on duty, presumably as backup in case the whole thing 'kicked-off'. This policing is apparently compulsory and is part of the criteria for issuing a ground safety certificate. When Wigan Football Club objected to the high cost of this policing they were told by the Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Policeforce, "You cannot expect the tax payer to pick up the cost of policing football matches." So... why is taxpayers' money being spent on the policing of this multi-millionaire's wife. Particularly when the multi-millionaire in question tells the taxpayers to mind their own business! "The Public Accounts Committee has pressed Prince Charles to open his accounts to full public scrutiny. But Clarence House maintains that what the Prince of Wales does with his private wealth is his business."

Sunday, January 01, 2006

It was the Sun Wot Won It? Is Scum magnate Murdoch preparing to switch horses... or just hedging his bets. Tory hopes of winning the backing of the News International titles at the next election are given a major boost with the arrival of Jonathan Collett, previously Michael Howard's press spokesman.
Just one new year's resolution: To read Robert Fisk's 'The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East'. I have read the excerpts in The Indie, but now I'm going to find time for a 'reading week' to do justice to the book's 1300 pages. Anyway.... here's some Fisk to be going on with:
"The Ed Murrows and Richard Dimblebys, the Howard K. Smiths and Alan Moorheads didn't mince their words or change their descriptions or run mealy-mouthed from the truth because listeners or readers didn't want to know or preferred a different version.

So let's call a colony a colony, let's call occupation what it is, let's call a wall a wall. And maybe express the reality of war by showing that it represents not, primarily, victory or defeat, but the total failure of the human spirit."