Friday, June 30, 2006

In search of the right

It is very difficult to find anyone in the Labour Party who calls themselves ‘right-wing’. It’s very strange really, because most of them have no difficulty in identifying the ‘left wing’. But if you are going to have a left wing, it seems almost inevitable with the line of definition… you will have a right wing. You see, the problem is the right wing Labour people are frightened to call themselves right wing so they define themselves as moderate, or centrist (although, again without someone further to the right… how can you have a bloody centre). The Lib Dems get round this issue of left and right by trying to be both, and put on a different hat depending on who they are talking to. So they say there is no loger a left and right, but ‘modernisers’, traditionalists or whatever.

Anyway… I’ve resolved it, I’ve found the right wing. Believe me… this guy is right-wing. There’s a greasy pole, and he is either going to climb it, or use it to shaft someone with.

Are they by any chance related?

Is there anyone out there (other than Hazel Blears) who cannot make the connection between Blow for Labour in double byelections and Stealth plan to 'privatise' NHS care?

Cameron. Bubble. Burst.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

First, try and get them to go quietly.... then, if that doesn't work...

Following yesterday's post about Kelly & co. pushing for Elected Mayors, here comes Phil Woolas with the carrot. If the Council Leaders don't pick up on that... watch out for the stick right behind it. Perhaps the most sinister part is the bit where Woolas says, "Council leaders were not to blame, he said. Instead, the whole system of local government needed to be changed." What is it about these people that makes me think that will not be about MORE democracy? As usual, these talks on Regionalism are taking place over the heads of Labour Party members. It may be a handful of members, generally speaking the Leaders of Councils, are involved, but for the remaining councillors, they couldn't give a toss what we think. As for the wider membership (which is considerably less wide than it was when Blair promised to recreate a mass membership party)... well, they can just forget it. Instead of being ashamed of this, they look at 'new ways of funding political parties' (by the way, for more on that Labour people, try here) and other gimmicks designed to allow politics to operate in a vacuum from the people. When Blair says: "if we remain New Labour we will remain in office" you have to ask yourself who he means by "we"... because he might just be talking about David Cameron.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

You WILL have a Mayor says LOCAL government Minister

Ruth Kelly has become the latest blairite clone to decide that the solution to all of our problems relies on the election of a media star, someone dressed in a monkey suit, or a megalomaniac politician to take all the important strategic decisions. This really does sum up the New Labour project. 20 years ago we had a democratically elected tier of local government operating at a strategic level across our metropolitan local government areas. In this region it was the West Midlands County Council and it had a cross borough resposibility for issues such as regeneration, transport, and economic development. Thatcher hated Ken Livingstone and in a piece stupid vindictiveness, she dismantled the GLC and the Metropolitan County Councils.

Clearly that has not helped matters, and as the regions have stuttered and spluttered to provide any strategic lead role through a series of quangos. New Labour (or should we say Tony Blair, because it doesn't matter if Miliband is replaced by Kelly, it is the Leader and his 'advisers' who dictate the policy, the Minister simply has to 'do it' and fall on their sword if it goes tits up) has decided that the solution to all of this is not to reinstate a democratically elected and accountable body, but to impose an Elected Mayor on the regions. The notion of Elected Mayors having been rejected almost universally by Councils up and down the country, the solution therefore is to ignore them and create a new tier of government led by.... someone like Tony. A thrusting, determined demagogue (defined in my dictionary as: A leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions and prejudices of the populace... sounds about right). It will be a test for the Leaders of these Councils throughout the country to see if they stand up to the Government... or whether, Tory, Labour, Liberal Democrat to a man and woman, they roll over and allow the Government to tickle their tummy... whist drawing back the foot to kick them in their private parts. LOCAL government, my arse.

UKPoliticalHack has some interesting observations on the latest piece of dithering by Birmingham City Council's truly hopeless coalition which would seem to justify Ruth Kelly's point about "strong leadership".... but if that is what the people of Birmingham have voted for, that is what they get. There is nothing to say the electorate in a 'Greater Birmingham (God, how they detest that name outside of Birmingham) Region' wouldn't elect an incompetent bloody Mayor, then we would all be in the brown stuff.

Pole.... grease.... climb

"Mrs Beckett has come a long way since she denounced Neil Kinnock at a Tribune rally in 1981 for refusing to support her friend Tony Benn as deputy Labour leader. She dropped her opposition to Europe early on and moved from unilateralism to multilateral disarmament along with much of her party. Updating Trident, which Gordon Brown backed last week, is unlikely to be a problem for her." A profile of a career politician.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Ex... site... ing times.

The hits on this blog have been going crazy over the last 24 hours (not just by Micky Oakeshott). No... I'm not leaping Iain Dale-like into the blogging stratosphere and looking for shoddy sponsorship deals, but I do appear to have received some interesting links. Firstly, the BBC News 'The Editors' comments had some nice words about the blog from 'My Mate Dave' a regular commenter here and an old comrade from Warley Labour Party. For the next few hours the referrers came pouring in. Then I got a hat tip from The Guardian News blog... which rather quaintly described me as "engaging". Then, this afternoon, the biggest boost of all. Just before 3pm this afternoon, I got a very kind recommendation from someone who said "...yesterday I came across a great site run by a labour (definitely not new labour) councillor in Sandwell called Bob Piper. I'm a Lib Dem but on first reading I love this man and would vote for him if I was in that area." For some strange reason, following that reference, the hits generated by the BBC and The Guardian were eclipsed. The reference was on.... The BigBrother gossip pages (thank you Nicc, whoever you are). Now I know I've made it. Move over George... Celebrity Big Brother here I come.

Clarke savages his Leader

I don't know whether he will get the full Newsnight, 10.0 clock News and Radio 4 treatment, but another big beast in the jungle named Clarke has turned on his party leader. Describing Cameron's proposals for a Bill of Rights as "xenophobic and legal nonsense" Kenneth Clarke, who is supposed to be heading up the Tory Task Force on Constitutional issues, but wasn't even told about the proposals, proved what many of us thought all along, Cameron makes these things up as he goes along. They are pieces of ill-considered, misconceived 'back-of-a-fag-packet' policies designed Blair-like to appeal to the nastiest tabloid headline writers.

Charlie comes out

I surely cannot be alone in finding the comparison between Charles Clarke's trawl around the media yesterday with Geoffrey Howe slipping the knife gentle between the Lady's shoulder blades to be entirely fatuous. Howe had resigned on a matter of principle. Yes, he resented Thatcher, but much, much more than that he despised her for the direction she was taking the Tories in. Clarke was sacked... and the almost universal opinion of those I have spoken to in the Labour Party is that the only problem with his dismissal was that it wasn't done sooner. OK, so... ex-Minister is sacked and spits a bit of bile in the direction of the person that sacked him. Join the line, Charlie. You would get a damn site more respect from me if you felt so strongly about the direction that Blair was taking the Party if you had done the Geoffrey Howe thing and then launched your missiles.

Having watched the Newsnight interview... and missed the only worthwhile 5 minutes of Switzerland-Ukraine, I really cannot understand why Iain Dale was wetting himself about David Davis's 'killer instinct'. Davis was limp wristed to say the least. If this was a savaging from a 'nearly-was' member of the SAS, John Reid will probably sleep easy. Sometimes Iain lets his affection for Davis run away with him. Now... if you want to see a savaging of John Reid... this is a way to go! Say what you think, I say.


An excellent piece in The Guardian today by George Monbiot. "Advertising (and the businesses supported by it) is not the clattering of the stick in the swill bucket that Orwell perceived as much as the carrot that keeps the donkey moving. You are never allowed to come close enough to eat, however hard you pull. An economy driven by dissatisfaction could scarcely fail to cultivate mental illness." We used to call it alienation.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Customer Care... You're the customer... and we don't bloody care!

One of my constituents wrote to the Leader of Birmingham City Council and their Leisure Services Department about the state of our local park which, despite being in Sandwell (near Whitby's home in Sandwell, in fact) is owned and (laughably) maintained by Birmingham City Council. This is a copy of the letter:

Ms Woods

I am still waiting for a response from you since this out of office
automatic notification was sent on 14 April.

Since then we have entered into a consultation period on the future of
Lightwoods Park, and the children's play area remains in an attrocious
state. There is inappropriate graffiti of a sexual nature which has still
not been removed, and there is still a swastika on the floor.

The paths are still dangerous and a friend of my toddler daughter fell and
badly hurt his face recently.

As previously in April, I am again copying this to Mike Whitby, in his
capacities as Leader of the Council, councillor for the adjoining Harborne
ward, and as a local resident. I am disappointed not to have even received
an acknowledgement to my original email, especially as I note that the
Council's Performance Plan, which is before Cabinet today, indicates a
target of replying to every complaint "within 10 days".......and here we are
10 WEEKS on from my original contact, and not an acknowledgement from either yourself or Cllr Whitby.

I hope to hear from you within the next ten days.

Yours sincerely

L. S......

Q & A with the foetus

As Tory leader, you became a bit of a joke. Now you are a part-time shadow Foreign Secretary, so why would anyone want so see you in office?

Do you regret making a prat of yourself with that speech to the Tory conference when you were 16?

William Hague shows he has lost none of his old popularity... and fortunately for him retained his sense of humour as he answers questions in The Indy.

Same old shit... different sauce

"There are other important matters, such as a possible Bill of Rights.... which we shall wish to discuss with all parties." No, not David Cameron with his latest 'New' initiative, but the Conservative Party Manifesto in 1979. It obviously escaped the witch's attention when she got the big job, and we had to wait until 1998 for Labour to introduce the Human Rights Act in order to enshrine some civil liberties into British law. Now Cameron is trying to appear fresh and bold, reheating some stale old commitments, and promising to introduce... a Bill of Rights (maybe...). At the same time Cameron wants to scrap the Human Rights Act, introduced in order to ensure British law was in line with the European Court of Human Rights, but not withdraw from the Convention, so you would still be able to appeal to the ECHR. Serious politics... or a gimmick.... or as they used to say in the Merchant Navy kithchens when the cooks were reheating yesterday's stale grub, "Same old shit, different sauce".

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The bland and the blander

There are a number of 'liberal' bloggers who advocate 'anyone but Labour' in order to remove what they regard as the most authoritarian government in history. Whilst I obviously wouldn't accept their solution, I have some sympathy with their analysis. The Government's attacks on civil liberties justified by the war on terror, the invasion of Iraq in the name of... the war on terror, even Gordon Brown's commitment to renewing the nuclear deterrent (who's finger is on the button... if it is a 'unilateral deterrent' can Britain fire these things without US consent - I very much doubt it) in the name of the war on anyone you like, all of these things fuel the 'Get Blair/Brown out at any cost' argument.

But whereas some Labour activists have lived in hope that Gordon (he's one of us, from Labour, not someone who has infiltrated the Party) will bring about a new dawn... what on earth do the 'anyone but Labour' people imagine Cameron is going to bring to the table. He tells Jonathan Ross that he still believes the invasion of Iraq was right, he tells Andy Marr he wants to scrap the Human Rights Act and bring in something else (but unlike the Government, he doesn't have to say what it is) and he is committed to the same nuclear future (in power and weapons) that Blair favours.

The Tory history on sleaze is hardly likely to impress people that electing them is going to change anything there, and their record of running down public services is second to none. So what motive is there in replacing the bland with the blander? Revenge? Punishment? It's about the only one that I can think of, and it does have some validity, but cutting off your nose to spite your face is a bloody painful lesson.

Skips for Votes

Never mind 'cash for questions'. Ignore the 'loans for peerages' row. In Birmingham they've unearthed the great 'skips for votes' scandal.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I'm touched...

It is an honour to be recognised by my fellow bloggers (pause to wipe tear from eye and hide smug smile). Ernesto... any questions about aubergines will be ruled out!

Johnathan Ross for the 'A' list?

Did anyone catch 'Dave' on the Friday Night Johnathan Ross programme? I know most people wouldn't have done, I mean who wants to put up with that overpaid egomaniac when you leave the pub (Ross is a pain in the arse too). But actually, it was truly illuminating and I'm sure they repeat the show sometime over the weekend in an obscure slot - so try to catch it. When the Leader of a political party does this sort of thing, you should start to worry anyway. Blair's done enough tripe on the Richard & Judy circuit, so we know, but at least he wasn't overshadowed politically by the dozy duo. That is what happened to Cameron. Interspersed with his usual crude sexual remarks and innuendo, Ross actually raised some political issues... and Cameron looked completely flumoxed... a real rabbit in the headlights.

He squirmed in his boxers when Ross pinned him down to say he still thought the Iraq invasion was right, he looked distinctly uncomfortable when he said the old witch of Finchley was right to throw people out of work in Scotland, Wales and the North of England, and he squirmed again when Ross pressed him on the failure of privatised water companies. The highlight, though, was still to come. Ross raised the issue of decriminalising drugs (no, the conversation didn't touch on Dave's flirtation with the nose candy, although the guffaws from the audience indicated that was where they thought it was heading) and Cameron sort of giggled and said he didn't think that was right, and the proper thing to do was to care for the addicts - his touchy feely side showing, he hoped). Ross then said that drugs were actually available now, to anyone who actually wanted them, and that virtually any kid in the street could tell you where to get drugs (and, although he didn't say it, it was hanging in the air... even David Cameron knew where to score). It wasn't a question of caring for addicts, it was about driving the criminals out of the drug scene, said Ross. Dave said ....errrm, he didn't think that was right and the real issue was about caring for the addicts. Obviously not briefed beyond that, Cameron looked immensley relieved when Ross asked him if he could do a 'high five'. That was more like it for the lad... get me off the bloody policy stuff and play at being Ali G. As I say... watch or tape the repeat, it'll be just as good sober.

It's official... Cameron is a useless tosser.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I've lived in Sandwell for nearly 30 years... and they still think I'm a foreigner. That's the good thing about people round here, it doesn't matter if you come from the Punjab or Perry Barr, "yo ain't one of us"... but they welcome you in. Ar, I'm proud to be a Brummie (via Pete another brummie in exile).

Street Art?

The Council in Bristol are to consult people to see whether they want a piece of Graffiti artist Banksy’s work removed or retained as ‘public art’. Personally speaking, I prefer this one…

I need someone to protect me from all the measures
they take in order to protect me

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A sense of Purpose - Austin Mitchell

I'm indebted to Not Little England for highlighting Austin Mitchell's suggestions for a new Government get-tough campaign. Austin attempts to show Micky Oakeshott that he can outdo his daft suggestions any day... the difference is, Austin has a sense of humor and understands irony. Micky thinks it's what his mom does with his shirts.
Digital Dave and family values... as seen through the eyes of a twisted genius.

Stand up and say 'No More'

Another batty Sandwell BNP councillor is trying to work his website. Carl Butler's (remember him... the British Nazi Party was a German Party) latest gem is that if you want to change the world, all you've got to do is 'Stand Up and Say No More'.

I thought I'd give it a go... but I've been standing here for nearly 10 minutes saying 'No More', and I've just looked out the window, and it looks just the same. Still, it's nice to see Carl has entered into the spirit of things and is now advertising National Refugee Week. All is not lost, change is happening already. NO MORE!

It's a cracker!

Over at ConservativeHome you can read a tremendous Q & A session with John Redwood, the man who when he was Welsh Secretary made Peter Hain look like Owain Glyndwr. The old right-wing reactionary is clearly not one of the Cameroons and has obviously only been let out on a short leash. You can almost see him squirming in his boxer briefs when asked questions about the Tories would repeal the Human Rights Act (It is too early to answer your question), or whether local Conservative councillors should participate in Regional Assemblies as it is their policy to abolish them (We believe in local determination, so it is a matter for local Councillors to decide - errm, why have the policy then?) and on Congestion Charges, one of the main planks of the Tory campaigns for London Mayoral elections (We are currently looking at the whole road pricing debate). Splendid stuff!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Votes flooding in

The voting pattern in the Mike Ion Vote For Your Favourite Labour Blogger stakes seems to have settled down to a consistent 1, 2, and 3. I suspect some of my success to date may stem from the fact that one of my closest blogging allies PoliticalHackUK was (disgracefully) not in the list, so avoiding a split vote. Anyway, Hack has a good post about Birmingham Council's Tory/Lib Dem coalition Deputy Leader Paul Tilsley. Tilsley, you may recall, gave an embarrassing TV interview in which he appeared to think the Welsh should be grateful to the citizens of Birmingham from tossing them out of their homes and flooding their valleys so that we could drink the water. Now it appears it was the TV station that pulled the story because "it wasn't good news". I bet Tony Blair could find that man a job.

New Dave, old tories.

From The Thunderer, of all places, New Dave exposed... Excuse me while I huff and puff. No more has Mr Cameron abandoned self-interested Toryism than the wolf really wanted the little piggy to go with him to the fair. Yesterday’s speech by the Conservative leader confirmed Mr Cameron as a hardline rightwinger who plans to skew the tax system in favour of the wealthier at the expense of those who most need help. His plan to allow tax relief on childcare for working parents — basically a tax cut for all working parents — will assist the better-off while doing nothing to help low-income families. His antagonism towards both tax credits and the New Deal threatens the systems that have helped the least well-off. And giving transferable tax allowances to married couples is a direct assault on the lone-parent families raising a quarter of Britain’s children today. There’s more to life than money? Only if you have enough of it, Mr Cameron.

Bigging it up

The boy 'Dave' is at it again. Before swanning off to Germany to take up a real football supporters seat, (at least Gordon Brown only took up some other snotty sods place in an Executive Box) Dave told an audience in a speech on family values, "We need to big-up Asda." Apparently a reference to their family-friendly working hours. Unless, that is, you're a family who works for ASDA, part of the US union busting company Walmart. ASDA seems ready to try the same thing over here, and have been involved in a series of bitter disputes with trade unions.

Behind the smiley face... the same old scabby Tories.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

More Q's & A's

Whilst I am limited to referring people to Heseltine's questions and answers, Mike Ion is a hero, and asks questions and gets answers from one of mine.

Questions and Answers

What did you like about Margaret Thatcher? Michael Heseltine answers the questions in The Indie's You Ask The Questions. Why did no-one ask him if it was true that he had bought all his own furniture as the late Alan Clark deliciously suggested.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Flags and Symbols

I upset a few British nationalists or patriots or whatever a few months ago by being slightly critical of the blonde wrapped in the Union Flag on the Liberty Central site. It isn't something I can get terribly worked up about, but obviously a number of people do see flags as more than just a piece of cloth to be waved ar royal weddings and birthdays, or flown from your ariel during international sporting events. There is no doubt that in certain circumstances people believe a flag represents a complete culture or symbol of resistance. Not for nothing did the British use the Flags and Emblems Act to ban the Irish tricolour in the six counties of Ulster. I was struck by this paragraph by John Pilger in an excellent article on the plight of the Palestinians: "I was rewarded, on leaving Gaza, with a spectacle of Palestinian flags fluttering from inside the walled compounds. Children are responsible for this. No one tells them to do it. They make flagpoles out of sticks tied together, and one or two climb on to a wall and hold the flag between them, silently. They do it, believing they will tell the world."

Does prison work?

There has been near hysteria in the media this weekend about the issue of crime. Knife crime reports, naming and shaming paedophiles, (pediatricians keep your heads down and doors locked) 'life must mean lifers' and a massive prison building expansion programme have all vied for attention in the headlines. We could be forgiven for thinking we were living in downtown Chicago in the 1930's with waves of lawlessness threatening the very fabric of our society. Dr John Reid is following in a long line of illiberal Labour Home Secretaries desperate to prove they are tough on crime and sod the causes of crime. In the same way that Labour has traditionally held the moral high ground over issues like public services, the Nasty Party has always dominated in the 'prison works' area, and Reid, like his predecessors, thinks talking tough about locking up the bad guys will allow us to make up ground and impress newspaper editors composing the latest horror headlines. Roy Hattersley takes up these themes in The Guardian, saying... "the ghastly competition in who can be toughest on crime and the causes of crime will continue, with profound damage to the fabric of civilised society." The question that must be answered is, if the screaming headlines about a breakdown of law and order are correct, and the prison population rises year on year, how does 'Prison Work'? In the United States, with an incredibly high prison population and an extremely harsh penal system... have they solved the crime problem?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer writes ..."The surprise is not that so few people want to be a member of the Labour Party these days. The surprise is that Labour still has any members at all."

It's a provocative article which makes the observation that with political parties spending vast sums on phone banks, and having access to e-mail databases, text messaging and mailshot facilities, why do they really need members at all? State funding of political parties will solve the money problem (with the odd bung from the odder millionaires who want a gong) so... Rawnsley says, the question could be asked what is the point to activists slogging around streets to ring on doorbells that are never answered and deliver leaflets that are never read. However, he concludes that there is still seen to be a value in putting boots on the ground.

I've got to say that in our neck of the woods we have recognised the need to knock them doors and slog them streets consistently for decades, and it brings rewards. People do appreciate good local candidates who work their patch, and the councillors are like fish out of water without the excellent work of Party members and supporters. Yesterday we had our annual celebration party for helpers and it was great fun. Here's a couple of photos so that folks can see themselves on my web thingy (as a couple of them called it).

Owen, Steve and John

The Youth Team with a strange gent.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Wind That Shakes The Barley

George Monbiot wrote a good piece a couple of weeks ago about the way the British media had panned Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes The Barley without actually troubling to see it first. In advance of the UK release next week, Ken Loach talks along the same lines. I'm glad socialists have got Ken Loach... beats Michael Winner eh?

Bye bye Frankie

I think Alan Pardew has got this about right. For a couple of years now it has been increasingly obvious that Frank Lampard, good player that he is, stops the world from seeing what a great player Steven Gerrard is. But when Gerrard is at his best for Liverpool it is not as a holding midfield player, it is when he can either play raking long passes, or burst forward with the ball himself, and do what he did to such devestating effect to West Ham in the Cup Final. For England, Lampard tries to do this... and they can't both do it. Sorry frank, but it's time for Carrick or Hargreaves to set Gerrard free.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

No platform

Oooh dear. Look what's happened.

Turn the bugger off

Leighton Andrews points out that it would appear a large number of BBC viewers watching the footie on BBC are tuning in to the alternative commentary to get away from John bloody Motson. I agree totally, but it's not just the anally retentive Motson, when he is put together with 'Lawro' the pair of them are totally unbearable.

Cast your vote now...

Mike Ion is giving people the opportunity to vote for their favourite Labour blogsite. Modesty has prevented Mike from including his own blog in the list... but it won't prevent me from requesting a Vote Piper link here.

Time for Wayne's World

A few years ago Aston Villa got to the final of the FA Youth Cup and played Everton. Myself and a couple of mates drove up to Liverpool to watch the match... which Villa won comfortably 4-1. We were magnificent that night, but Everton had a 15-year old little fat kid playing for them called Wayne Rooney, and he was instantly recognisable as a star. For half an hour he terrorised us, put Everton 1-0 in front, (then displayed a T-shirt to the Evertonians saying 'Once a blue, always a blue' - sorry, Elephunt) and before he got knackered it really did look like he was going to beat us on his own. Well, tonight should be the night for Wayne Rooney to step up onto the world stage. Go for it Sven, let the boy loose!

Odius, aye

Some more good work about the master race, this time by Political Hack, who has turned up some info about the BNP cuckoo Ebanks, or Odin's Eye as she is apparently otherwise known.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The wilderness years

There's an interview with Tory 'A' lister Louise Bagshawe over at ConservativeHome. Never mind the fact that she's pro-life and favours torturing countryside animals, the bit I like is where, in response to an allegation that she voted Labour in 1997 and 2001, she says: "No, I haven’t! I did join New Labour, but only briefly ten years ago. I was a Tory activist all through our wilderness years." Again.... "all through our wilderness years." I've got news for you, Louise... these ARE your wilderness years.

There's lots more of this stuff. Laughably, she was asked if she would be loyal if put on the 'A' list. Mmmmm. Also, whisper this to Mike Whitby and his all-white, all right male Council leadership, but according to Louise, "The Conservative Party is the best place for women."

It's not over til it's over

Most bloggers, left, right or centre have written off Tony Blair and moved on to the debate about who succeeds him, or whether Gordon can hold off the revitalised Tories (assuming the word revitalised is still the currency in three or four years). However, Tony Blair shows that despite all of his critics (who - me?) he can still charm his detractors.

More than just a logo...

So, the Caring Wing of the Conservatives are searching for a new logo to try to put the Wicked Witch and her torch of freedom behind them, and reinvent or relauch the 'Dave' Party. Painful as it will seem to those still clinging to the Lady, the Party leadership have finally realised the depth of hatred felt for her and what she stood for by the general public, and more importantly, that section of the public that actually trouble to vote. Of course, this is Dave's latest step in the move towards consensus politics. In the same way Tony Blair was more than happy to wave goodbye to those on the left of the Labour Party, Dave will hold the door open for those rabid Tory backwoodsmen and Tebbitites who cling to outdated notions of low taxation and a free market economy outside of the European Union. You see... it's not just a logo, it's not just an image, it is about reinvention, and it's not new. The Conservative Party has survived by changing and adapting over centuries. Chameleon Dave is no different in that respect to Chameleon Disraeli over 150 years ago. When Kinnock introduced 'The Rose' logo 20 years ago our Labour Party branch refused to use it and continued to use the Red Flag symbol. We did that for about 15 years, and only reluctantly started using the rose when New Labour dropped it in favour of those ridiculous red boxes saying 'New Labour, New Britain'. Suddenly, the rose almost became a symbol of Not New Labour... and it was OK for us to use at last. I dread to think what they will have to do to the Party to get us to use those bloody red boxes.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

On your bike...

I noticed this charity bike ride from John O'Groats to Land's End on Tom Watson's blog a couple of weeks ago, and it seemed like some people getting sore arses in a good cause. It stood out for me because my mother's family are Hurdman's, and because my own brother died too young of cancer four years ago. Gary Hurdman and his team, Sheila's Wheelers from Sandwell, are doing the ride to raise money for three worthy charities, and if you could see your way to donating a fiver (or more) to one of their three charities, I'm sure it will not only boost their coffers, but also their confidence. It is possible to donate online via the website.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word...

Still no signs of an apology by Mike Whitby, the Leader of the controlling Tory/Lib Dem coalition on Birmingham City Council who more or less told a councillor who politely asked why the make up of the Council's Cabinet and Scrutiny Chair's was composed of all-white men to, shove off to Burnley or Oldham (makes a change from 'if you don't like it, bugger off back to Pakistan, I suppose) if that was how she was going to behave. Rather than have the good grace to admit he was wrong and apologise, Whitby insists on making matters worse in the media by stubbornly sticking to the view that asking this sort of question is 'nasty politicking'. Interestingly, Whitby's Lib Dem colleagues seem to defend their coalition leader's stance, although a party that distributed torture photos of Abu Grahib prior to the General Election in predominantly Muslim areas of the City would know all about 'nasty politicking'. Someone I spoke to last night indicated that it is not just the remnants of the People's Justice Party (formerly, Justice For Kashmir) who have joind the Lib Dems, who are less than happy with Whitby and the Lib Dem leadership. But will they have the cojones to do anything about it?

Monday, June 12, 2006

A colourful past

It was more than a little surprising to read that Sharon Ebanks, the BNP cuckoo in the nest in Kingstanding, Birmingham, has got a black Jamaican father. I bet that goes down well at Party gatherings.

Roll up, Roll up, for the freedom bus.

So, it's mid-August, you've done champagne at Ascot, strawberries at Wimbledon and come back bronzed from Dubai... what to do next, that's the question? Well, why not join the freedom lovers at the Reagan Ranch in California, (all Conservative Future Members are invited) where you'll get to hear all about the Reagan Legacy. I don't suppose they will dwell on the fact that after the Republicans and Democrats in Congress voted for sanctions against apartheid South Africa, freedom-loving Ronnie vetoed the measure. Nor spend to much time on his warm friendship with the fascistic regime in Argentina, nor his backing for liberation movements in Guatamala and El Salvador where civilians were liberated from their toil by the death squads. Do you think our young Tory friends will learn about how he normalised relations with the dictator Pinochet, or sent Bush senior to the Philippenes to toast Ferdinand Marcos for "fostering democracy". Or perhaps they will hear how Ronnie carried out a secret war against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, defied international law to support contra rebels carrying out human rights abuses or how Reagan secretly sent arms to the Iranians and sucked-up to Saddam Hussein, even after his use of chemical weapons.

Perhaps though, they won't give you the whole 'freedom legacy' tour. Have a nice time, boys and girls.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Spawn of the devil

Thatcher had “an ego the size of a herd of elephants and the attention span of a gnat”. A quite delightful profile of one of the most unpleasant people you will hopefully never come across.
When nice guy Dave appears on the radio or in magazines and tells those interesting little homilies about himself, it seems like so much innocent fun, and all about enabling people to get to know the real 'Dave'. Until you realise that the examples he uses may be slightly less than accidentally chosen, and Brand Cameron is being plugged.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

I find Matthew Parris quite an amusing, and intelligent writer, despite the fact that I rarely agree with a word he says. His 'opinion' column in Today's Times is almost worth reading for this paragraph alone... "And the awful prospect looms that the Tories may actually win the next general election — and win it outright. This would not be a good idea at all, for all kinds of reasons." Now, what reasonable person could disagree with that. Parris then goes on to give us a vision of what we might be able to expect from an incoming Dave Government: "Mr Cameron’s government will need in the bank more than a weary cynicism about his predecessor at Downing Street. He may quickly be required to take potentially unpopular measures, as Mrs Thatcher did. Public spending may by then have hit the buffers, cuts may be needed, jobs may be shed, economic growth may take a temporary knock."

There, see, told you he was intelligent.

Fxxx Off !

Apparently, the only man in Britain with a smarmier face than David Cameron is going to be shown on Channel 4 telling someone to F*** Off. After nearly 50 years of inflicting his limited talent onto a gullible audience, I do wish he'd take his own advice.

Bullying payout

A teacher has succeeded in an Employment Tribunal over claims that her employers were bullying her and she is "likely to receive the statutory maximum, which is £56,000." Which of course, pales into insignificance when you compare it to this claim against Tory-run Walsall Council and its Chief Executive! Now that's a tasty little bill for the Council Tax payers of the Borough.... what a pity it was delayed until after the local government elections.


Is it possible that there are (or were) two Simon Smith's in senior positions within the BNP. Someone has sent me a reference to this clipping from 2003. There it describes a disaffected Simon Smith who "was a senior Midland elections officer" for the BNP and quotes him as saying.... "The youth wing of the BNP, modelled on the Hitler Youth under Nick Griffin's tutelage, is now breaking out of local confines and hopes to spread its race hate message to young students across the country". Before going on to urge people to reject the BNP, this Simon Smith was saying "I was recruited into the BNP as a naive 21 year-old in 1989 and my youth was eventually lost in a horrific whirlwind of human conflict caused by the party."

Was it the same Simon Smith? I know he appears a bit schizophrenic. Of course, it could have been an attempt to cover up his past in order to continue in a teaching capacity, or could the BNP simply be collecting Simon Smith's and doing something with them? There's a conspiracy theory for you Smiffy.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Gis a tenner, won't yer

Saddo BNP Councillor Simon Smith has leapt in to start a 'Save Sharon Ebanks' campaign fund in his capacity as 'Steve Freedom' on the Nazi stormfront website. Send us a tenner, he says (and you can kiss that goodbye).

Meanwhile, Sharon has been getting herself in a bit of bother because someone called Sharon on her website (Could they be by any chance related?) has said they wouldn't support England in the World Cup because "They've got too many black players." The fragrant Sharon denies it is her, and insists she gets lots of Sharon's contributing to her site. I don't really know why she is being so shy. She should take the advice of her collector-in-chief, Simon (Steve Freedom) Smith who makes no secret of his views: "There are obviously more important things than football, but having five Blacks playing for England was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me… I believe we should tackle (ha ha ) football fans and tell them that the colour of our strip is White…"

U turn if you want to...

I blogged yesterday about the way Party Leaders, notably Tone and Dave, seem to ignore the wider Party organisation and make up policies and develop initiatives on the hoof. I excluded Ming Cambell from that because he didn't seem to do it. I apologise most sincerely to Ming for that. I was wrong.

About face

Letter in The Guardian:
Labour and Tories swap sides in public sector debate? The problem is Cameron doesn't mean what he says and Blair and Brown do.
Nick Wright

Bugger off to Oldham or Burnley if you don't like it here!

I suppose it makes a change from saying "go back to your own country". The interesting quote here from Birmingham Tory leader Mike Whitless is the one where he justifies having no black councillors in senior positions within the administration by saying... "Don't come here and try to divide groups that are working well together and are recognised as working well together." Quite right Mike, how dare Respect councillor Salma Yaqoob question whether you white people are totally undivided and working well together!

Cheerio, cheerio, cheerio...

Sharon Ebanks, the BNP cuckoo in the nest on Birmingham City Council, can start preparing to spend more time with her family as she enters her last month as a councillor for Kingstanding in Birmingham. A court ruled yesterday that the votes must be recounted on 3rd July (Why the delay, surely she could be kicked out quicker than that?) following the cock-up in May which led to some votes being double counted and Ebanks being announced as the victor instead of Labour's Cath Grundy.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Podcast (slight return)

I make no apologies about returning to the subject of Iain Dale's contribution on political blogging on the Channel 4 podcast. Not simply because I'm basking in the glory because Iain chose my blog as his first blog of the week, but because he somewhat misrepresented my views. Iain implied I "hated Tony Blair" as much as I "hated Norman Tebbit". This isn't strictly true. In fact I have always maintained that Blair in some repects is the most honest Labour Leader we have ever had (OK, I grant you, WMD's, the Hutton Enquiry, etc don't immediately make you think of "Honest Tone"). But Blair never promised us ‘socialism’… not for one second. He is not a socialist, nor is he from what we rather pompously and proudly call ‘the Labour movement’. In fact as Geoffrey Wheatcroft says in today’s Guardian … 10 years ago I quoted someone who knew Blair well saying: "You have to remember that the great passion in Tony's life is his hatred of the Labour Party." Blair was and remains a market driven Social Democrat… and he did/does what it said on the tin.

The whole thing about this notion of ‘hating Blair’ is in a way playing into the hands of those who create this cult of personality, this Presidential-style leadership. It is definitely the way the market is moving. Cameron has jumped on the bandwagon and the Tories have woken up to the fact that it is not policies the media want to discuss, it is the ‘personality politics’ of their strong leader, driving their party in a direction that most Tories are at the very least antipathetic too, if not downright hostile. Policy is made on the hoof, at the whim of the Leader’s team. So whether it is ‘Blair’ pushing HIS Education Bill, never mind who the Secretary of State for Education is, or Cameron revoking decades, if not centuries of Tory commitment to ‘private good, public bad’, the driver is the Leader, not the Party. They are simply expected to nod through the Leader's latest initiative. It is no wonder Ming Campbell is getting squeezed as the media focuses in on ‘charismatic leaders’.

It's not Tony Blair who is to blame. We (Labour Party members and affiliates)elected him. The electorate voted Labour in three times with him as our Leader, and Labour MPs, whatever the views they may express privately, trot behind him through the lobbies consistently. We are to blame, in our various guises. The only way out of this mess as I see it is to reign in the powers of patronage that we invest in our Prime Minister, make the Prime Minister more accountable to the Executive, the Executive more accountable to the Parliamentary Party in power and the whole lot more accountable to Parliament and a reconstituted, fully elected second chamber. If we do not do that, then all of the other constitutional reforms, such as tinkering with the voting system, will remain peripheral to where political power lies in this country. If we don't do that we have moved very little from the days when feudal Kings had unfettered rights to appointed ministers from the landed gentry and the serfs looked on in confused wonderment.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

T. Rex

I've changed the sub-heading of this blog to reflect the kind words Iain Dale said about me on his Channel 4 blog roundup.

You better believe it...

According to a poll of grass roots activists (yes, they've still got some) Tories are strongly opposed to a collaboration with the Liberal Democrats in the event of a hung parliament. That may well be the case as far as the activists are concerned, but when it comes to getting snouts in the trough and trotters under the Cabinet table... we'll see. Just ask an expert.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Famous for 5 minutes...

I have absolutely no idea what he is going to say, but, apparently this blog is going to feature on a Channel 4 podcast. (Actually, in my ignorance, I don't actually know what that means either)

The world turned upside down

David Cameron is today expected to say that the Conservatives should abandon the "lazy assumption" that the private sector is always best. Well, welcome to Damascus, Dave, there's plenty of room for repenting sinners here. Let's hope those New Labour modernisers are listening too.

Q & A with Tony Benn

Readers question Tony Benn in The Independent

Where have all the Labour rebels gone?

Some former Communists are now in the Government because a shift of allegiance from the Kremlin to Downing Street is a natural process. The rest are in the House of Lords.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Not so 'comical Ali'

He was the favourite joker in the pack for comedians and bloggers alike at the time of the invasion. Only George Bush attracted more derision than the man the media dubbed 'Comical Ali'. Well, as this article suggests.... not all of his 'jokes' are quite so funny now.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Football in the war zone

Iraq prepares (warily) for the World Cup. From a country that once celebrated sports- football (soccer) especially- to a country that worries if the male football players are wearing long enough shorts or whether all sports fans will face eternal damnation… That’s what we’ve become.

Ivanhoe to leave?

No, no no.... please, tell me it's not true. This will ruin my Sunday lunchtimes in the pub.

An interesting defence ploy...

Dukes escaped jail today after it was argued he would not be able to cope with a prison term. Is that a reason for not sending someone to prison? If so, precisely what value is there in the 18 month suspended sentence?

What is football to you...

Although football these days is still a game watched mostly by the working class (although increasingly with a Sky Subscription) it has become almost an obsession of the chattering classes and others. What my mate Ernie calls the 'Honbyisation' of the game, where every middle class prat 'supports' some team or other. Blair with his fake Newcastle memories, Michael Howard who managed to support about 4 teams in a desperate effort to get someone to support him, and Chelsea who seem to attract so many media and political celebs it is a wonder anyone else can get in the ground. Dave Hill ponders the question, "what does football mean to you" in the Guardian uber-blog, and some of the comments are great. Such as this by someone called Betarish... "Dave, if you've had a quick perusal of David Winner's 'Those Feet', you'll discover that football - at least the way it's played here - is all about the projection of late-Victorian masculine values, and the repression of masturbation. I haven't yet seen any convincing evidence that disproves him..." only to be followed by this riposte ... "BetaRish this cannot be true look Manchester United, Chelsea, Sheffield United chock full of wankers."

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Cracked Actor

Altogether now... AAAhhh. People are being unkind to poor Adam, and saying nasty things about. Poor little diddums. He's a lovely boy and why don't these howwible people leave him alone or Iain is going to scweam the house down? He's not as dumb as he looks (apparently) which looking at the photo must be a great relief to all those around him. Errm, Adam, I mean, not Iain.