Friday, July 28, 2006

More good news..

From ConservativeHome:
"The Conservative Party's principal asset - almost its only asset apart from its core of loyal supporters - is evidently the Blair Government.... Only 36 per cent of those who bothered to go to the polls at the 2005 election voted Labour. According to YouGov, 33 per cent say they would still vote Labour today. In other words, despite a chaotic reshuffle, evidence of gross mismanagement in government departments, "loans for peerages" and John Prescott's 10-gallon hat, Labour support over the ensuing 15 months has dropped by only three points. The explanation must lie overwhelmingly in the Tory Party's continued lack of popular appeal and in the fact that the economy, if not exactly buoyant, remains in most people's eyes in reasonably good shape."
Now... I really must go back to the pool...

Good News

It has taken an extraordinary amount of time, but at last justice has been done for the people of Kingstanding.

Message from Tuscany

The first thing to say is... it's bloody hot here! OK, so, what a suprprise, I hear you say. You go to Italy in July and discover it's hot, hardly a novel discovery I suppose. But this is really hot. I've been to the Sahara in southern Algeria, and that was hot, the South of France, and Marrakech... but this is as hot as I can remember ever having experienced... and it's fantastic.

This has been my first chance to catch up on the news from home, and the fact that Doug Ellis is not only still alive, but also still in control of Aston Villa, is a matter for deep dismay. What is more I see from today's Guardian that the decrepid old sod has managed to frighten away one lot of investors and the possibility of Martin O'Neill becoming manager (although I think a lot of O'Neill's credentials to date are in the heads of his media mates). I also see the spectre of Sven has been raised. When it was mentioned in the Screws scam last year everyone had a good cackle.. perhaps the fake sheikh knew more than the rest of us.

Ah, well, back to the pool....

Friday, July 21, 2006

Going to cool down

Blogging may be a bit spasmodic as Mr & Mrs P are heading off to Italy, leaving teenage son Michael to wreck the house with the assistance of his mates... which probably means blogging will be spasmodic after that too whilst I get the computer mended.
Whew! That's one gone. Now could someone give Souness a job. Quick!

Squeaky bum time

There are a large number of Labour councillors outside of London who are very worried indeed. Many of those councillors are those who are up for re-election next May. They had assumed that by then Blair would have gone, the party would have been re-energised under whoever the new leader was, and they would be laughing all the way to the polling stations. Now they are not so sure. It looks like he may not go, and for them it threatens to become the nightmare scenario. Whereas it seems fairly obvious that despite New Labour people still don't trust the tories in Government and are very uneasy about the Dave factor... a protest vote in the local government elections, or staying away altogether may become increasingly attractive.

Well, councillors, you know what to do. We all have a responsibilty to get this leadership issue resolved, and your interests are more concentrated than many.

John McDonnell on his leadership challenge.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

With all Prezza's problems, inside and outside the trouser department, the string of revelations about the Home Office, Tessa Jowell's 'private' problems, 'cash for honours' and Levy's arrest, a deeply unpopular war in Iraq and a Prime Minister whose popularity is plunging, and all the problems associated with burn out and over familiarity.... the Labour Party could not have been surprised if it found itself 12-15 points behind in the opinion polls.

But we're not. The Tories have a very small lead, and even that looks vulnerable every time Cameron shows his face on TV. Over at ConservativeHome, one of the commenters thinks he knows why:
The current political landscape is fascinating, even when like me you are on the wrong side of it. I decided not to renew my Conservative membership as I loathe so much of what Dave is doing in aping his idol, Tony Blair. However, it's clear that the Conservative Party is attracting new voters. Question is do the new ones offset the old ones like me who are going to stay at home.

Sad anecdote: my safe Conservative seat has seen Association membership fall this year from 1250 to 900. Wonder why.

Iain Dale slams Tory-Lib Dem coalition

Now, this is fun. Comrade Dale has hit out at a scam being performed by Lib Dem-Tory run Camden Council... and then tries to imply that it is Gordon Brown's fault that the Council are on the fiddle. What's more... Iain confirms that it is not just the Council that is useless, they have a useless Press Department too.


Just a couple of points about this article in The Guardian.

Having recently relinquished his position on the board, the greatest day in the club's history had passed him by.
Errm, not quite. He hadn't recently relinquished at all. Ellis had gone before we won the league title in 1980/81... and in fact he would have sacked Ron Saunders if he hadn't been thrown off the Board in 1979. as it was, he bought back into the club when we were European Champions... and within three years he had sacked the manager and got the club relegated!

The other interesting bit is right at the end...
Ellis has certainly had that in terms of his investment. He purchased Villa for around £80,000 in 1982 but, although the club is worth about £50m now.
Yes... not to mention the near million pounds a year he has taken out of the club in salary and dividends since he 'handed it back to the supporters' by going plc and converting his stake in the club into a small goldmine for the fat travel agent.

Another Tory snout in trough...

Ian Dale smeared former Labour MP David Hinchliffe and accused him of "trousering close on £6,000" as a non-executive director of an NHS Trust. But as PoliticalHackUK points out, there is a former Tory Council candidate sitting on the same Trust Board! Has he also got his nose in the trough?

Declaration of interest: Councillor Bob Piper is the Chair of the Sandwell Mental Health Trust, (which is undoubtably sufficient evidence of having nose in trough direction for Iain I suppose) .... but does not receive any remuneration for trashing Iain Dale's dafter posts.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

No tears here

There'll not be any regrets in Birmingham 6 about this. Now it's time for the other waste of space to follow him out the door after 23 wasted years. Does entrepreneur mean having the ability to stuff your pockets with money whilst ruining a business?

Let's here it for the Nobber

According to a poll carried out by ConservativeHome one of the favourites for the Conservative candidate to take a sound thrashing from Ken Livingstone is none other than... Nobber Norris. Nobber apparently attracted 10% of the votes... but behind him in the poll we find 3.5% of respondents also thought .... anyone but Nobber! They'll set 'em up, Ken, you can knock 'em down!

Anything for headlines

News of Dave's latest swing to the left, via Deadbrain

Hedonism Rules OK

I don't know how much further into the sewer the country can sink after this. Although I'm sure you can all think of some prime candidates to take part.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Speaks for itself.

Forward.... but which way is forward?

Iain Dale responds to Tim Montgomerie of ConservativeHome who has criticised Cameron for appealing to the liberal conservatives and ignoring or alienating their traditional right wing support. Iain gives the game away when he says:
"...there are things which David Cameron has announced which cause me to twitch a little. But for the most part, we keep our noses to the grindstone and don't rock the boat. Why? Because we know that it's necessary and we understand the strategy."

The strategy is according to Iain is... keep quiet, put up with all this liberal shit, lull those disaffected Lib Dem a New Labour voters with a promise of New Conservatism under cuddly, hoodie-hugging/bike riding/ecologically concerned Dave.... and then sandbag them with a good dose of old style right-wing reactionary conservatism if we can get elected!

Just one warning for Iain and his mates... and Tim and his mates too, come to that... there are many here among us who thought that was what was going to happen under Blair. Once he was elected he would jump out of his telephone box, throw of that millionaire loving outfit, leave all that wage restraint and anti-union talk behind him, stop the creeping privatisation of the NHS, education and other public services and emerge as our socialist Party leader. Well, I never believed a word of it. Blair was, and remains, a member of the ill-fated SDP. He is what we would have got if David Owen had stayed and gone on to lead the Party. So, Tories... be warned. History does repeat itself, first as tragedy, then as farce, as a great philosopher once said

It just gets worse..

Not only are they going to allow the bastards to desecrate our neighbourhood, disturb people's sleep, blight their homes and be a general bleeding nuisance... they are even going to allow the swine to advertise the fact that they are doing it on our bloody telly!! Can I pass on a short message from my constituents to Mr. Andrew Brown, Chairman of the Committee of Advertising Practice and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice who announced this decision.... GO STUFF YOURSELF WITH THE RAW END OF A RED HOT RASP.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Spot on

Letter in the Birmingham Mail:

Juventus fans are moaning because they've been relegated and docked 30 points. They should try putting up with what we've had to endure during the Ellis years!

It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe...

The Planning Inspectorate has disgracefully given approval to Blue Chip Casinos to open an all-night casino in a converted pub in my Ward (see artists impression of this disgusting object, left) despite the overwhelming opposition of local residents and elected members. I can find no words to describe the wretched bureaucrats who have taken this decision, but I would bet a thousand pounds to a bucket of shit that they don't live next door to an all-night gambling den.

This decision will ensure the lives of the people living in the streets nearby are blighted. Tossers with more money than sense will be banging cab doors, shouting to their mates, starting up their cars or rolling around the nearby streets in the early hours of the morning whilst hard working folk are looking to get a decent night's sleep. Meanwhile, no doubt the gambling bosses will stuff the money of the stupid into their pockets, Ministers will roll over on their comfy feather pillows in grace and favour homes, and the Planning Inspector will sleep soundly in his quiet Bristol suburb.

Rot in hell!

Prezza's Pole (oops... Poll)

I normally avoid this sort of thing, but, this is your chance to say what you think ...What was John Prescott's greatest achievement during his time with the ODPM? The results so far are not encouraging.

On being the 'nearly nasty' party

Roy Hattersley in The Guardian on Cameron's dilemma:
Pretending that the Conservatives are the "nice party" will not work. It is not true. And many Conservative members will not even try to counterfeit love for people they believe to be their social inferiors.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Picnic in the Park

Record crowds and scorching temperatures at today's Warley Woods Picnic in the Park.

Plans for the recolonisation of Cuba

The United States is busy approving plans for the recolonisation of Cuba under US hegemony.

Under the Plan, in the future all Cuban communication, electric power, transport, mining, industry, agriculture, medical, and other productive enterprise will be privatized and the vital actors (US and its entrepreneurs) will build and create for Cuba a water and sanitation system, a health care system, an education system, a transportation system, a communication system, a shelter system (homes for everyone), a food security system (a chicken in every pot), all presumably similar to what we are doing for or to the Iraqi people. Much more, in fact, than we are willing to do for the people of New Orleans.

Paperback writer

My new book, I think I'll call it Brainspotting. The Plot: Working class boy takes drugs, writes books, makes fortune, thinks 'Dave' is a good guy, becomes Tory, moves to live in California.
The End.

Tales from a murky past

I think I have some history with the Paul Corrigan mentioned in THIS article about Cherie Blair in the Mail on Sunday. Way back in the 1970's a Paul Corrigan used to visit our flat at Warwick University where he had befriended a couple of my flatmates. He was a Sociology lecturer and a bit of a Marxist (a very small bit by the look of his subsequent career) who would happily spout off about anything and everything, whether he knew anything about it or not. Looking at the picture in this biography in The Guardian, he has put on a fair bit of timber (as they say in Willenhall) since those days.... it must be all those breakfasts at the Cinnamon Club!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Baroness Thatcher must be one of the most reviled people in Britain... but even she has a few devotees who cling fondly to their memories (like those sort of 70 year old teddy boys or fifty year old punks) of baton waving policemen, queues of unemployed people looking for a job, the poll tax and beating up Argentinians. But this man must be so lonely. Nobody... and I mean nobody, likes him at all.

It's picnic time in the People's Park

 Tomorrow the Warley Woods Community Trust will be holding their annual Picnic in the Park and hundreds of local people will turn up with food and drink to enjoy the live music, and (hopefully) a bit of sunshine.  

Tomorrow's picnic also celebrates the centenary of the parkland being dubbed 'The People's Park' after it was brought into public ownership by local councils and public subscriptions. Over the last few decades the Woods and Park went into fairly sharp decline, but in recent years it has been taken over by a Community Trust and run by local people. With a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund they are starting to restore the park to its former glory, and tomorrow local historian Professor Carl Chinn will be broadcasting his local radio show from the picnic site.

Carl wrote a really good piece about the history of the 'People's Park for a local newspaper recently, and the Trust have published a Centenary publication which you can get for less than a tenner + postage (details are on their website).

Friday, July 14, 2006

Inside the bunker

The inside story about the new European Parliamentary grouping formed by Dave is exclusively revealed HERE.

McDonnell standing will force Brown off the fence

I think it is fairly safe to say that John McDonnell will not win a Labour Party Leadership election when Blair stands down. That doesn't mean he shouldn't stand, and I'm pleased he has thrown his hat in the ring. No doubt those who wanted a coronation will call McDonnell and the Campaign Group divisive, or like Luke Akehurst they will rejoice because they think it will give Brown the opportunity to expose the weakness of the left. That may well be so, I mean if the left in the Party had not been so weak we would not have had to put up with some of the worst excesses of Blairism. However, the advantage of a contested election with a left candidate standing is that Gordon Brown will be flushed out. He will not be able to continue his disappearing act that he has become so adept in doing everytime Blair does something controversial. He will have to either stand firm on Blairite policies (such as the latest proposal to privatise the management of health services) and tell the Party and trade union members where he stands... or go some way to meet the demands of those in the Party who oppose the blatent conservatism of the New Labour project. Interestingly, big trade unions like UNISON, with a very substantial health sector membership, will ballot their members who pay the political fund to determine how the union will cast it's vote for Leader.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Cameron's 100% success rate

Promises: 1
Broken Promises: 1

More at Political Hack.

Time for a revolution... and to end the reign of King Tony the First

Can I start this post off by saying how much I welcome the investigation into the cash for honours issue. As someone who is implacably opposed to an honours system based on patronage, I actually think far more of the honours have been 'bought' in one way or another than we really know about. I know we are all expected to gasp with joy when a little old lollipop lady gets a gong for 40 years service seeing the kids cross the road... but these are just sops to make us think the honours system touches everyone. I'm sure there are people in the Lords who have been put there because they are capable of scrutinising legislation, and to ensure that at least someone is awake as Bills make their passage through the House. But I am equally sure there are Lords who have earned their place by decades of servility to their party leaders, or by agreeing to shuffle upstairs to create a vacant safe seat for an up and coming star of the future. Until the introduction of the requirement to declare donations we had no idea who was bankrolling the Parties, or what they got in return. However the number of super wealthy people who made it in into the ermine robes seems like pretty good circumstantial evidence that people have been getting their rewards in the Lords, even if not from the Lord. The loans for honours scandal is just the latest ruse to allow the wealthy to buy a Lordship which can be used as currency to buy even more Non-Executive directorships in the City of London. Slowly... but steadily, the information is being prised out of it's shell, and the near silence from the Tories over this (compared to the hysteria and rush for the media spotlight during the Prescott fiasco) tells me that squeaky-clean Dave is keeping his head down on this one.

Of course, part of the answer is for total transparency in Party funding. But that is not enough. The essential problem in this country is that at it's very heart, it is undemocratic. It is Her Majesty's Government, the Monarch can declare war, legislation requires the Royal Assent, the Monarch appoints the Peers, the Archbishops and the Bishops, and all the CBE's MBE's and OBE's are doled out by the Queen as if she had sat in her bedroom into the early hours pouring over lists of the worthy to decide who gets what gong.

But in reality, this power lies with the Prime Minister... and it is this power of patronage that needs to be brought to an end if we are to call ourselves a democracy. The monarchical powers are passed down by the monarch, not to the people, through the House of Commons, but to the Prime Minister, who exercises that power with all the grandeur and ruthlessness of a feudal King. The Prime Minister selects the Cabinet, those who would be King, and decides who gets what job. That gives the King the power over his Barons. The Prime Minister selects all of the other underlings of Government, all of the PPS's the Junior Ministers, the Whips and who sits on which important Select Committees. Added to this power, the Prime Minister can also decide who is next in line, who is waiting at the foot of the greasy pole, if one of the underlings doesn't behave themselves. In this way the Prime Minister controls the Government, and can therefore usually command the controlling Party... and in this way, controls the House of Commons. The power of patronage over the Lords just seals the whole thing up in one neat package. So the next time you hear Ruth Kelly or David Miliband talking about empowering people you will know they are saying you may be able to have power over the person that decides how often your dustbin is emptied... whilst the country is still run along feudal lines.

So, I'm not upset if one of the Lords has been detained by the police to try to explain whether or not his fellow Lords got there by bunging someone a few hundred thousand pounds. I welcome it. But until we decide to sweep away the power of the robber Barons and their feudal Master, we will remain serfs scrabbling around in the dust for crumbs.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Laugh... I nearly burst my stitches

So, this is what we have come down to. A Foundation Trust hospital plan to introduce Butlin's-style redcoats on the wards. If my memories of Butlins Redcoats is anything to go by they'll do well to keep them out of the beds!
There are expected to be 17 Parades today involving tens of thousands of Orangemen in the six counties of the North of Ireland. In sharp contrast to previous years the British Army are to be confined to barracks, the Orange Order seem to at least be talking the talk of peaceful marches (walking the walk may be another matter) and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has called for restraint. After more than 300 years of sectarian supremacist displays it seems the Orange Order want to celebrate their history in a positive fashion, and that is to be welcomed. This sort of thing will hopefully be condemned by everyone.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Madcap Laughs no more....

One night a long, long time ago, at Mothers Club in Erdington, Birmingham we were treated to the magic of Pink Floyd recording part of the live session of Ummagumma. Introduced by the late John Peel, the Floyd were tremendous... and I'm not sure they ever really reached those heights again, despite the popularity of things like Dark Side of the Moon. I was reminded of that gig again today when I heard about the death of one of the group's founders, Syd Barrett, who had already retreated into his illness by the time of Ummagumma.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
You were caught on the crossfire of childhood and stardom,
blown on the steel breeze.
Come on you target for faraway laughter,
come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!
You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,
rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!

Hug a Hoodie

Recess Monkey... Have You Hugged a Hoodie Today?

The Shadow Cabinet Member for.... Birmingham?

Andrew Mitchell is one of those talentless twerps that I have recently been identifying as a member of Dave's Shadow Cabinet. According to the Conservative Party website, this totally anonymous man is the Shadow Secretary of State for International Development. Interestingly, Mitchell's low profile in matters of an International nature may be explained by this report which describes him as also being... the Shadow Cabinet Member for Birmingham!

Errrm... who does he shadow?.. is there a Cabinet Member for Birmingham?

Monday, July 10, 2006

We do not endorse football related violence... but...

How many Materazzi's can you deck? Just move the cursor and left click. Shouldn't laugh... well, only a bit. (via Clive Davis)

Update - Link now working again.

The Authoritarian Tendency

It seems that the Party has learnt nothing from Blaenau Gwent. "Some fear that it will be used to tarnish their record so that their constituencies de-select them unless they fall into line on government policy." What, do they suppose the party members in Islington North are currently unaware of Jeremy Corbyn's views? I suspect not. this is the first step in an attempt to suspend left MPs in order to prevent them standing for reselection and to try to replace them with some tired old party hacks who have failed miserably elsewhere. The fact is, as Blaenau Gwent proved, Constituency Parties and the electorate deeply resent having candidates imposed upon them and foisting on them someone who will stick their tongue as far as possible up the rectum of the Party leadership will backfire badly.


It looks like the hoodie-hugging isn't proving that popular in my favourite Midlands Council as two Tories do the walk of life.

Can you pass the Tory Shadow Cabinet Test?

Following my earlier post about the Conservative Shadow Cabinet, Andrew Kennedy takes up the point and sets a test.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

My prediction

OK, I've rubbished Iain's predictions, it's now head in lions mouth time.

Allez Les Bleus! Allez Zizou!

Update: Well, I got one thing right. Zizou certainly Allezed!

Diary predictions

I've said this before, but I'll repeat it. I quite like Iain Dale. OK, he's a Tory, he likes Mrs T. I've never actually met him, and for some reason I cannot understand, he seems not to like the Deputy Prime Minister very much. On the plus side, he can be witty, informative and he is always willing to give a helping hand to lesser known bloggers than himself (all bloggers are lesser known than himself). But in his desperate efforts to 'out-exclusive' other bloggers and the mainstream media, Iain has a tendency to be a bit wild with his predictions. No, I'm not talking about his prediction early in the World Cup that Fat Frankie Lampard was a star, but this prediction today. Iain has read the tea leaves (or the newspapers he has wrapped the tea leaves in) and boldly forecasts that Prezza will go this week. Of course, in doing so, he hopes we have forgotten his prediction just before the local council elections.

This law must go.

When I answered questions for Mike Ion's blog last week I was asked which three laws I would repeal. I didn't include the 2003 Extradition Act... but it must surely go. I have no sympathy whatsoever with bankers who do rip-off millions of pounds from their employers, and I must confess to some reticence to support people in those circumstances... but as one of them says in Today's Indie... the Government should insist on "this crime allegedly committed by Britons against Britons in Britain being tried in Britain." Despite what the stupid boy Oakeshott may say, this isn't anti-Americanism. It would be equally wrong if this Act applied to Sweden, Switzerland or Swaziland. One of the most disturbing features is that the law was apparently introduced to deal with terrorist suspects. How much attention, I wonder, would the Independent or other newspapers have paid if these three people were to be sent off to be shackled in Houston or Guantanamo, if they had been terrorist suspects? But the same principles should surely apply even if they were. There should be a minimum requirement for a country to make out a case for extradition on the basis of crimes against their nationals or in their country. As Rod Liddle writes in The Times: "In 30 years hardly any alleged IRA terrorists have been extradited from the United States to Britain, despite the fact that the accused were in the main: British citizens; had committed their alleged crimes on British soil; and there was prima facie evidence to prosecute them."

The History Man

Stephen Fry in The Observer on why we should learn from history rather than spending time apologising for it.
"We haven't arrived at our own moral and ethical imperatives by each of us working them out from first principles; we have inherited them and they were born out of blood and suffering, as all human things and human beings are. This does not stop us from admiring and praising the progressive heroes who got there early and risked their lives to advance causes that we now take for granted."

He flits from shop to shop just like a butterfly, in matters of the cloth he is as fickle as can be

Andy Marr this morning had Vivienne Westwood on talking about her perfectly laudable campaign in conjunction with Liberty against human rights abuses. It was difficult not to laugh out loud though when she explained that youth were turned off politics by 'consumerism'. This coming from a fashion designer....!!!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Living in the Shadows

When Labour came to power in 1997 although they had been out of office for 18 years they had a front bench team containing some real heavyweight politicians (no, not just you, John). Whether you liked or loathed people like David Blunkett, Jack Straw, Gordon Brown, Peter Mandelson, Robin Cook, Clare Short, John Prescott, Mo Mowlam, and to a lesser extent Harriet Harman, Jack Cunningham and Margaret Beckett, they were at least politicians that people could recognise and even if they hated them, they knew they hated them and why.

The Tories have now been in the wilderness for nearly 10 years. Try naming more than half a dozen members of Cameron's Shadow Cabinet. If you can, I suspect you are a hopeless political junkie and you might need to think about getting out more. I tried this out on a group of USDAW Shop Stewards I was talking to last week. Out of the seven Stewards six of them named the boy Hague (a failed Tory Leader), four said Ken Clarke (a failed Leadership candidate and not actually in the Shadow Cabinet) and there were 3 suggestions each for David Davis (a failed Leadership candidate), Michael Howard (a failed Leader and not in the Shadow Cabinet) Liam Fox (a failed Leadership candidate) and Boris Johnson. Only one person got a member of the Shadow Cabinet and their portfolio correct (Hague & Shadow Foreign Secretary). So those that were known, were known for being failures, or in Boris's case for being funny on TV.

My point is that this Tory front bench is woeful. No personality, precious little public profile, and seemingly making no impression on people whatsoever. They are not even well known enough to be loathed. These USDAW Stewards were not apolitical people, and I would guess they were ahead of the average voter on these things. Now, this may be because the Tories need to establish Cameron, and therefore the Shadow Cabinet have been pushed into the errm... shadows. To return to the point about Blair's 1997 Cabinet though... Blair in 1995-97 was promoted as the front man, but I got the impression that people as a whole thought he had a competent team around him. I suspect if you try the above exercise on a few people down the pub you will not get the same response about this anonymous bunch. Just ask someone who the Shadow Cabinet member is for Culture, Media and Sport or what they have done in opposition to Tessa Jowell during her last difficult year. Ask them if they have ever heard of Peter Ainsworth (I have to admit, I haven't), or Philip Hammond, or do they know what David Mundell, Cheryl Gillian or Oliver Heald do for a living? Whilst Health has been a political minefield for Patricia Hewitt over the last six months or so... what has Andrew Lansley been doing with his daytime hours?

Cameron must be thinking of that famous quote attributed to the Duke of Wellington... "They may not scare the enemy, but by God they scare me." Or that brilliant Private Eye cover showing Nixon saying, "At least no-one is goint to try to assasinate me with Spiro T. Agnew as VP."

Creek... paddle... row!

With sinking heart I realise that when reinforcements are announced by Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, the only question from Liam Fox, his Tory Shadow, will be whether there shouldn’t be even more. Up the creek the Cameroons will go (just as Iain Duncan Smith did over Iraq) until to criticise the deployment in principle will look like a late and hypocritical U-turn. Matthew Parris in The Times.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Questions and Answers

Mike Ion asks the Questions. If the answer is little Micky Oakeshott... what's the question?

Traditional American Values

If you thought George W. Bush was an isolated case... watch this Political Ad for a Traditional America

Cameron praise for Birmingham

David Cameron, speaking to the Local Government Association, has described Birmingham as "an economic powerhouse, and a place of beautiful urban design." Unfortunately for the people of Birmingham he was talking about the Birmingham of 100 years ago, not the place currently run by the Tory/Lib Dem halfwits of today.

Due process

When a foreign government applies to extradite one of your citizens, but you are aware that prisoners in that country are tortured, abused and put to death, should you really agree to allow extradition? Would we extradite someone accused of alleged crimes carried out in this country against the Mugabwe regime in Zimbabwe? I think not. So, why is the Home Secretary going along with this?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Time to go home

It sounds like the totally useless Tory spokesperson on Health, Andrew Lansley (who???) is preparing to spend more time with his family.

No disciplinary action over Nazi victory

The Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council has highlighted a series of errors which resulted in the wrongly declared election of a BNP candidate in May's local government elections. However, he said no disciplinary action will be taken. One of the errors meant that one candidate seemingly appeared on ballot papers as standing for two different parties if the Birmingham Mail can be believed.

Are the Chief Returning Officer for Birmingham City Council.... and the Chief Executive who thinks there should be no disciplinary action, by any chance the same person?

Dirty politics

Tory blogger Iain Dale has done a lot to promote blogging in this country (and not a little bit to promote Iain Dale, but hey, why not?) and last night he was invited on to Newsnight to be confronted by Paxman. Now, the prospect of being even lightly grilled by Paxo would terrify most people, and in that respect I thought Iain did quite well (although on his blog, like most football supporters who've just watched their team on match of the day, he whinges that his best bits were left on the cutting room floor). My one reservation was that the area chosen for discussion ended up making Dale look a bit smutty. The 'political' story about Prescott is the one about the Texas billionaire, the Dome and the Casino. All good intriguing stuff. The angle Iain Dale was channeled down was the DPM, the secretary or secretaries and the shagging. All good News of the Screws stuff, but instead of striking a decisive political blow, Iain was made to look like a Conservative Party stooge (for David Davis's former campaign manager to say he hadn't spoken to senior Tories about these matters seemed to have even less credibility than Prezza's excuses) doing an impression of Piers Morgan. Perhaps it was Newsnight who chose the debating line, but for Iain, I think it was the wrong one. As Tony Benn often says, 'Don't wrestle with a chimney sweep... you'll only get dirty too.'

Nothing happening

The Lib Dem Manifesto for Birmingham City Council in 2004 when they took control of the City Council in a coalition (oops, I mean a progressive partnership) with the Tories, pledged to press ahead with the devolution agenda. They said...
A city – “that's local” - decentralisation
Liberal Democrats have been promoting effective devolution for many years. This will continue and we have proposals to ensure the finance is placed in the wards where it is needed.

Now it would appear, like so many of the coalitions aims... this one has ground to a halt too.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


There must be someone out there who could do a British equivalent of this. The Brick Patriots.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Sheer bloody torture

If someone attached electrodes to your genetalia and threatened to crank up the power, or grabbed your fingernails with a pair of rusty pliers, or put you in an orange jumpsuit and kept you in solitary confinement for years on end, I hope, like me, you would still resist this.

Get your backside into gear...

All over the country on election night thousands of ballot boxes are opened, ballot papers counted and the result is declared within minutes of the end of the count. Give the same job for one district to the Senior Master at the Royal Courts of Justice to do and it takes two months to organise the count, and another month to declare the result. What's the matter with these people? You've seen the count take place, tell us who won... get on with it!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Not quite on the mark there, Dave

As we all know 'Dave' has pledged to rectify the gender imbalance and diversity mix amongst Conservative MPs, and one of the ways he has decided to do this is through the 'A' list of candidates for potentially winnable seats. ConservativeHome has published some interesting figures of the progress being made by Dave's New Model army in the country:
Proportion of women selected (of all candidates): 29.0%
Proportion of women selected (since A-list): 22.2%
Proportion of women selected (before A-list): 31.8%

Mmmmm, yet another example of talking the talk rather than walking the walk. Oh, and by the way, apparently there's a possibility that one of those selected so far may be from the minority ethnic population.


I have got to say, on reflection.. this story is hard to swallow.

The best two footballing sides (Argentina and Brazil) are out of the competition. If Zinedene Zidane can repeat the footballing masterclass he gave against Brazil, surely neither an ordinary German nor functional Italian team can prevent the great man lifting the World Cup for France (OK, I'm a Francophile, and I know this is also not the best French side we've seen by a long way). I'm not even considering the prospects of the bloody Portugese....

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Everybody's talking at me, I don't hear a word they're saying

"I know everybody in SW1, in the Westminster Village, is talking about this. I'm afraid they talk about little else. But I think as a Government, if we are not going to squander a third term, let's just turn out from Westminster and talk to the people of this country." Tessa Jowell to Andrew Marr on Blaenau Gwent. I don't suppose there's any chance of a bit of 'turning away from Westminster and listening' too, is there?

PS - I'm not particularly a supporter of a 7/7 public enquiry, mostly because I don't think anyone from the security services would allow the truth to emerge anyway and it would just frustrate people and prolong their agony. But if Tessa really wants to talk to someone.... Danny's been waiting a whole bloody year.

Dubya's State of the Nation

If you've got quicktime... this is very good. (via Newer Labour)

Not counting chickens...

For those who have been wetting themselves in recent months about the Conservatives chances of forming a Government sometime in the next four years, the opinion polls showing Cameron racing away have been a source of constant joy. Tory bloggers have hardly been able to contain their glee, and predictions about the size of their overall majority have been appearing in abundance. The media have similarly rejoiced with banner headlines announcing the latest poll triumph for Dave. Strangely... the Sunday Telegraph front page appears to have overlooked the latest poll commissioned by ICM for... the Sunday Telegraph.

Update: Over at Political Betting, this looks interesting too.(hat tip to Mike Ion)

Eye on the ball

How refreshing to see that with all the problems in the Home Office that Dr. john Reid has got to sort out... he hasn't taken his eye off the ball. Tightening up the Official Secrets Act to prevent the public finding out what dreadful cock-ups you are making must be one of the first things the electorate will thank you for. Much more important than all those trivial issues surrounding asylum, prisoners etc. Go to it John.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

On the road again

Together with the other Ward Councillors Dr. Ann Jaron and Steve Eling I was out this morning doing the Bearwood Street Surgery for July. Over 500 houses in Bearwood were leafleted earlier in the week telling people we would be in their roads this morning. Today we walked the streets and called on anyone with the leaflet displayed in the window. It was a great success... although absolutely baking hot, and we made a number of contacts whose issues we will be taking up first thing Monday morning. It is part of a rolling programme designed to cover the whole Ward during the year and show people that we don't just come round at election time.

More impersonators

My apologies are obviously due to the Luke Akehurst I mentioned in yesterday's post. I was obviously fooled by some Tory who had created a spoof Akehurst site. They had made it so reactionary that I should have seen through it. Anyway, this is Luke Akehurst's Blog.

That's more like it

Over at ConservativeHome we here that "Tory MPs hear that change must be faster, deeper and wider." from the Cameroonies. I liked this comment by one of the contributors:

"faster, deeper, broader"...does that mean we are going to have some policies anytime before 2050? If the changes already put in place are any indication of what is to come, I think we are going to have a seriously hard time getting votes come 2009/10. When I hear fluffy phrases like the stuff thats coming out at the moment, I shudder because I know thats another few thousand votes we've thrown away. I have no faith in these changes.