Saturday, September 30, 2006

Oh Graham Poll, you're a f*****g ****hole

Over a season you see good decisions, you see bad decisions, but with Graham Poll you get consistently bloody awful decisions. At a time when there are all sorts of allegations flying around about 'goings-on' in football, there has to be some method of charging referees with bringing the game into disrepute. If players do things wrong and can be charged, there should be public acknowledgement of when referrees make dreadful, dreadful mistakes. I know it's a bloody thankless task and an incredibly difficult and pressurised job, but the way Poll consistently favoured Chelsea today was a disgrace. One second half decision not to send off a Chelsea player who dragged Juan Pablo Angel to the floor when he had a clear run at goal was dreadful. It was compounded when Poll didn't even book the player... and it was unbelievable that he didn't even give us a free kick. So, lads, well done, you stuck it up the billionaires... despite Graham Poll!

And the winner of September's Foot in Mouth Award is....

...none other than Iain Dale's Dodgy Figures. In a rather smug posting entitled David Miliband's Dodgy Figures, Dale takes the boy Miliband to task for cocking up his figures on the Today programme in a piece about global warming. It then appears, having it pointed out that Miliband was correct, Dale didn't have the humility to accept it, but instead used a Greenpeace person to suggest Miliband had just made a verbal slip.

But that's just not good enough. As Omar points out, Miliband got it right, and Dale got it wrong, and what's more, Omar provides the broadcast to prove it!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Penny for them!

Delicious... delightful... absolutely brilliant! There can be no words to describe this absolute pile of old cow dung who wants to be the next Conservative candidate to get a thrashing from Ken. David Banks in the comments section shows just exactly what sort of problems the Tories have got:
"wow , what a stunner! We certainly need more beautiful women in politics so shes got my support!"
but at least political animal demonstrates that he is not entirely stupid (remember, David Banks is the benchmark here:
..."not being a Londoner (i.e. resident) counts massively against you - in voter terms."
You know, I get more optimistic about Labour's future every time I drift through these Tory blogs. Also at ConservativeHome they are extracting the yellow liquid from Cameron's 10 Commandments.... 1. Love thy neighbour and thy neighbour's hoodied child....

Manchester a success story

I fully appreciate the views of those Mancunian folk who did not like the fact that part of their city centre was turned into a fortress during the Labour Party conference, although given the escaltion of terror threats I suspect it has become something we are going to have to live with. However, it did give thousands of people an opportunity to see the rebirth of Manchester since the heart of the City was ripped out by an IRA bomb ten years ago. I remember going to Glasgow after it had been the City of Culture some 15 years ago and being really impressed with their city centre, and Manchester has done equally well. Of course, there are vast pockets of deprivation in parts of Manchester that you don't get to see by flitting around the centre, but as with Birmingham, a thriving Centre may at least encourage investment and regeneration in a wider area.

So it is probably even more depressing to read that the lazy arsed useless Tory Council and their little puppy Lib Dem partners were too dozy to even bother to put in a tender for such a prestgious conference in 2010.

It's not the guy they like... it's the one they trust

Iain Dale writing on David Cameron, The Brand:
A cult of personality has been consciously engendered. He, not the party, is now the Conservative brand. He is a thoroughly modern man whose marketing persona aims at direct comparison with one man - Gordon Brown. The media perceive Cameron to be where the zeitgeist is. By comparison, Brown looks like a man of the past. And that's exactly the way the Cameroons want it.
The opinion polls definitely show Cameron to be more popular (i.e. likeable, affable) than Brown. The crucial question though, "Which man do you think would respond best in a crisis?" gives Brown an overwhelming majority. It is that mistrust of Cameron's political depth, not his "niceness" that will, I suspect, prove his undoing. Despite everything the spin doctors have been doing over the last decade, people would still rather have Alex Ferguson running the team than David Beckham and Posh Spice, or thick and thin as they are otherwise known. As Blair said on Tuesday (I knew I must have agreed with something he said) "Using opinion polls now to predict the outcome of the next general election is like trying to predict the weather forecast in four years time."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A bevvy or two

I had a wee drink or six with young Tom Watson last night in the Midland Hotel. The impressive thing was the numbers of his colleagues and other delegates, from across the political spectrum within the Party, who came up, shook him by the hand and congratulated him on his recent decision. I do believe he will be giving his first television interview since the resignation at 11pm tonight (in the Central TV area only, I think).

Peterloo massacre

As numerous delegates and speakers have been keen to point out to us all week, the GMEX conference centre is built on the site of St Peter's Fields where in 1819 mounted troops set about peaceful protesters which ended with the infamous Peterloo Massacre. Just to show the lessons have not been lost on the modern day constabulary and their masters, it seems that yesterday they decided to commemorate the event with a historical re-enactment. About 70 peaceful supporters of CND were taking part in a 'release a balloon' demonstration in protest at Trident renewal. Just before the balloons were due to be released three ranks of police, accompanied by mounted police and dogs, swooped on the demonstrators because they believed the group to be "intending to cause disruption". One of the most fierce and highly dangerous protesters... a 62 year-old woman... was arrested, together with a graphic designer who was passing by and who objected to the heavy handed policing. Whew! Do I feel safe now!

Conference saved from dangerous protesters

As numerous delegates and speakers have been keen to point out to us all week, the GMEX conference centre is built on the site of St Peter's Fields where in 1819 mounted troops set about peaceful protesters which ended with the infamous Peterloo Massacre. Just to show the lessons have not been lost on the modern day constabulary and their masters, it seems that yesterday they decided to commemorate the event with a historical re-enactment. About 70 peaceful supporters of CND were taking place in a 'release a balloon' demonstration in protest at Trident renewal. Just before the balloons were due to be released three ranks of police, accompanied by mounted police and dogs, swooped on the demonstrators because they believed the group to be "intending to cause disruption". One of the most fierce and highly dangerous protesters... a 62 year-old woman... had been arrested, together with a graphic designer who was passing by and who objected to the heavy handed policing. Whew! Do I feel safe now!

Feed the world

A nice little snippet in The Independent conference diary today about Geldof's remarks cause of poverty in Africa is that 70% of their intellectuals live abroad.
"I'm sure we could spare David Aaronovitch. He'd feed a family of six for months."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A proper choice

Despite the enthusiasm of those delegates who would walk over hot coals for Blair, and those who want a coronation for Gordon, I get the feeling the Party itself is up for a contest based on ideas. Not "Old" Labour versus "New" Labour (despite what a lot of people say, I do not consider myself to be Old Labour. The whole concept of Old Labour was based around a sexism, often racism and more often than not male, homophobic right wing agenda) but a party that wants a debate about direction. The Lib Dems are having a debate between social and economic liberal values, Cameron is at least on the face of it trying to drag the Tories out of the 18th Century... so we should also question many of the Blairite principles instead of clapping like demented seals everytime anyone says "three consequetive general election victories". Michael Meacher in The Guardian writes...
Domestically, we should end the obsession with privatisation as a panacea, not only in health and education, but also in housing, pensions, probation, rail and local government. We need a new leadership that will genuinely listen to the party and the public, with mechanisms in place so that it can be held to account. Conference should have a decision-making role, not merely act as an opportunity for the leader to grandstand, and nominations each year for leader and deputy leader would allow sentiment within the party to be channelled towards change. Parliament should take back much of the patronage and decision-making that No 10 has appropriated to itself.

and frankly, I couldn't disagree with a word of that.

This afternoon, for instance, the delegates supported a resolution opposing Patricia Hewitt's sell-off of the supply agency NHS Logistics to unionbusters DHL.... and in light of all that....this may prove very interesting.

Independent views

They give you a free copy of The Independent when you go into Conference. So, I hope the delegates enjoyed this letter as much as I did.
Sir: In his conference speech Gordon Brown said, "It has been a privilege to work for the most succesful ever Labour leader and Prime Minister." "Well, that's a lie," replied Cherie. Perhaps she's just a big fan of Clement Atlee.

Bloggers 4 Labour

After making some rather tetchy remarks about Kerron Cross, it was inevitable I suppose that we should meet up at the Bloggers4Labour drink.... and guess what, he's a really nice guy, not an 'on message' Blairite at all, and was even featured on the telly later that night supporting Gordon Brown (so I suppose he must be a bit on message). Others present that I had a chance to talk to included Antonia (who confessed to clapping the video screen during HIS speech - a quite bizzare sight. People actually gave the screen a standing ovation at the end!!) Gareth, (who is a giant so I'm not going to write any rude comments on his site anymore) Catherine from North of the River and Adele, who wanted to know if Dave Prentis was a 'trot' (No, Adele, he's not). Anyway, there were a number of others present who I didn't get much chance to talk to or didn't remember their blog name after having imbibed a bit, but they all seemed pretty decent folks. I couldn't help thinking how dreary a Tory equivalent would be.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

You'll never guess who I met in a queue....

Just to show how hi-tech we are here in the New Labour village we have an internet zone for the thousands of delegates and visitors to use to access their e-mail, update their blogs and in some cases re-write the holy bible, I think. You see... there are only 6 computers between all of us, and some people are hogging them. So, in order to access the computers you have to wait in a queue (yes, another bloody queue) for anything up to half an hour.

It has it's interesting aspects though. This morning, whilst nosing in on someone's conversation in the queue I realised that I was standing right behind the world's numero uno Labour bogger, none other than Kerron Cross. To be brutally honest, I was a little disappointed. His blog shows a fresh faced youth, smartly dressed and neatly pressed. Not this Kerron Cross, however. Tieless, dressed in a Burton's suit which had definitely seen better days and with a ripped lining, he looked an altogether sorrier figure than I had anticipated. He must have that natural charisma though, because whereas I shuffled along unnoticed by fellow delegates, Kerron was approached by a series of nubile young things keen to chat and simply exist in the same atmosphere as him.

So, with Luke Akehurst being altogether 'rounder' than I had expected, and Kerron being somewhat shabbier, I hesitate to attend the Bloggers4Labour 'do' tonight in case more of my mythical impressions get debunked. I think I'll go home and dress down a bit though, I wouldn't want to stand out from the crowd.

Monday, September 25, 2006

New localism

The theme of the week seems to be 'devolving power to communities' So far I've heard Hazel Blears telling people about the need to 'empower local people', Ruth Kelly saying we need 'doorstep devolution', and Gordon Brown on Today saying we need to devolve power from 'Central Government to local communities'.

It all sounds very fine, doesn't it. But what does it mean? What I suspect it means is finding a way to take power away from local authorities. Empowering who then? Who or what are 'local people'? It's a stupid, meaningless phrase and one of the sorts of cliches that endlessly drips from David Cameron's tongue. Every local councillor knows about the self-appointed 'local activist' or 'voice of the people'. There is even one in my Ward who has given himself the OBE and signs his corespondence with this fictional award after his name. Self-appointed, unelected, unaccountable. By and large, they are unelectable... and hence their attraction to the Blairites. Like Thatcher, who wiped out a whole tier of local government because it wouldn't do as she commanded, the Blairites talk the talk on democracy... but they don't walk the walk. If someone else can claim a democratic mandate, it threatens theirs. Watch out for the Local Government Bill in the autumn and the Lyons report shortly after... and when you hear people talk of 'empowering local people' ask them the five questions!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Not now, Hazel, not now.

Ok... I'm in! I'm blogging from the broadband access in the exhibition hall inside the GMex Centre. I have to admit, I never thought I would ever make it. The registration hall is about three-quarters of a mile from the GMEX Centre. When I got there at about 1pm I was asked to join an enourmous queue of other delegates who had either not received police clearance or simply been victims of Labour Party imefficiency (take your pick). 20 minutes later, the queue had not budged an inch, other than those elderly people in front of me who had given way to fatigue. But... at about 2.30pm, half an hour after Conference opened, I finally got to the front, was told I was one of the 'happy people' (believe me, she cannot begin to know how wrong she was) and nwas given a slip of paper and received some instructions to go down a corridor and take the fourth door on the left..... where I joined another bloody queue!!! This was much shorter, and 10 minutes later I was given my pass (and who should be waiting for his pass, but none other than Luke Akehurst - we didn't speak). Another hike up the road, and starving hungry, bloody thirsty, and a bit too sweaty for comfort... I passed through the security checks and metal detectors, just in time to hear Hazel Blears making sweet noises about encouraging the voluntary sector and engaging with Labour supporters, not just members. She then went on to talk about efficiency and renewal under Labour.

Not now, Hazel, not now.

Must go... I've just seen an old UNISON contact, Wendy Nichols from Yorkshire, up at the mike and giving it plenty about the NHS strike.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

And they all lived happily ever after

To all those of you who think the world is full of nasty, selfish little Thatcherites, standing on their own two feet, and if that doesn't work, standing on everyone else's... read Steve's story at Occupied Country. It'll warm the cockles of your heart whilst bringing a tear to the eye.... and show you the value of good old working class solidarity.

Michael Meacher joins the blogging community

So, now Michael Meacher has joined the very short list of blogging Labour MPs. Today he can reveal from an unimpeachable source that Gordon Brown has told junior ministers that if they do not vote for him in the forthcoming leadership contest, they'’ll be out. Well it is nice to see that the authoritarian streak which has characterised the Party leadership under Blair is not going to be changed under Brown... if he wins.

Any other Labour MPs who want some advice about how easy it is to set up a blog, get in touch with me at Conference. Alternatively, you could arrange to pass your exclusive bits of juicy gossip, particularly about your fellow MPs in the Tory and Lib Dem camps, through to little old me and I'll repeat them.

It's not clever and it's not popular

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian on the failure of Thatcher-Blairism to understand that the privatisation of public services is neither popular nor an improvement.
When viewed in the round, Thatcherism's conduct of the public sector is one of extraordinary ineptitude: the poll tax, rail privatisation, on-off hospital autonomy, school testing, computer procurement, farm subsidies, family tax credits. Private finance, said to be "the only game in town", is startlingly expensive. Blair's quest for service delivery through "e-government" is as elusive as his quest for democracy abroad through e-war. Labour's most treasured creation, the NHS, is forced to find upwards of £12bn to pay for a computer system it does not need and must cut swaths through hospital services to do so. To all this, Thatcherism seems to have no answer.

Friday, September 22, 2006


One of the highlights of my secondary education in Aston (and believe me, there were not many) was an amazing visit to the school by the Red Army Choir. I can still remember Kalinka, so in order to send all those off to conference in good spirits... here goes.

PS- Before the comments box is filled with Tory plonkers saying that this means I am personally responsible for the execution of every Russian kulak and peasant since 1917... save yourself the effort, I'm not interested.

Join the queue

I always liked Bill Bryson's description of the French attitude to queuing. They all stand around patiently in line waiting for a bus in an orderly queue. Then, as soon as the bus arrives it descends into a chaotic rugby scrum. Well, here's a blog about the British approach. I love this particular one... how many times have I stood behind this woman?


Lozells is not one of Birmingham's prettiest suburbs, and rap music, whether it be from the studios of New York or Dakar is not something I find very listenable, but Soweto Kinch has released an album about Lozells which sounds like it could be well worth a listen.

18 Doughty Street

I've added a link on the sidebar to 18 Doughty Street, the latest innovation by ConservativeHome's Tim Montgomerie and Iain Dale. It sounds as if it has got some real potential, although only time will tell if it descends into Labour bashing or Tory propoganda. I have some grounds for optimism on the basis that they seem to be inviting a network of 'reporters' to record slots for the station from across the political spectrum. I have been asked by Iain to give some thought to taking part and I'm going to try to visit the studio next month to see what it involves. However, as I told Iain, my rather broad 'brummie' accent (so I am told) never really translates to radio or tv.... but, let's see.

If there is anyone else who thinks they could do something along those lines, you may want to contact Iain via his blog and offer your services. I mean, Tom Watson must have some extra time on his hands these days, and he has got a face which is made for radio!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Old Big 'ead

It's late in the day for this I know, but Paulie from Never Trust a Hippy reminds us that even though it wasn't listed in Dead Socialist Watch, today marks the anniversary of the death of probably the best football manager this country has ever known (I don't know whether I'm the best, but I'm in the top one, he used to say). They are collecting for a statue to be erected to the great man if you want to send a quid or two.

His Master's Voice

Listen out for the PM's speech next week and see how often this happens (from 50 ways to irritate everyone)
Middle class people (especially politicians and media folk) who try to talk in "street" accents but can't keep it up – saying "goh", "woh" or "loh" one moment and "got", "what" or "lot" the next.

Only 18 holes in the game?

18 Reasons why I hate the Ryder Cup. What... only 18?? Here's another couple...

19. When it is played at the Belfry even the hotels and bars in the far West of Birmingham (20 miles away) are full of Americans dressed in silly clothing who were conned into thinking that the Hagley Road was in the heart of Shakespeare country, so they wonder around asking if you know where Anne Hathaway's cottage is.

20. Golf... or even worse still, golf on television. This is surpassed only by Formula 1 motor racing and anything involving horses as THE most boring spectator spectacle when viewed on tv. However, I suspect that unlike motor racing where being at the circuit and smelling the fuel, or horse racing where being near the parade ring and smelling the horse shit, golf is probably an even more distressing experience to watch live on the course.

I'll stop there, but I'm sure given the time I could get the list up near the 100 mark.
Alas... poor Ming

Watching Vince Cable explain the Lib Dems tax plans was a bit like watching Norman Wisdom explain nuclear fusion.His answers lasted as long as it took Andrew Neil to point out that he was talking rollocks.
Read more at the excellent Impossible Promises.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The cat litter tray of history

I've just seen Liverpool Lib Dem Councillor Richard Kemp make a Conference speech in which he called for their proposals for local government to be "condemned to the litter tray of history". Another speaker moving reference back of the report said, "There is nothing very much wrong with this paper.... because there's nothing very much in it". How very satisfying that the Party that only actually runs anything at all at local government level...seems to know sod all about it.
Everybody seems to be getting worked up about the Panorama programme tonight in case it names some well known football managers in bung scandals, with Bolton Wanderers manager Sam Allardyce threatening to sue if he is accused. Well, we certainly know that David O'Dreary is in the clear during his last year with the club because the tight-fisted old get who was running the club never let him spend any money anyway.

On the subject of which, there's an entertaining thread on this site about the renaming of the Witton Lane Stand at Villa Park now the old swine has shuffled off. One dipstick bravely tries to defend Ellis... and even tries to suggest that the club has a policy of not having any minutes silence before the game (during O'Dreary's reign we often had 90 of them every home game). Others are less generous towards the self-styled Mr Aston Villa.

Never appear with animals, kids or celebrities.

It seems like Nancy Banks-Smith has been writing the sharpest television reviews in the media since Adam were a lad. Today she has written a neat little review of Jamie Oliver's latest school dinners programme which just captures the way in which politicians struggle to cope with celebs in front of a camera without a script. The scene where Oliver meets with new, and desperately unprepared, Education Secretary Alan Johnson was a treat, as Nancy saw it...
"Johnson was new to the job ("I'm this week's secretary of state") and it showed. I haven't seen anyone so unbriefed since The Full Monty. When he said "I can't commit to anything after 2008 financially", Jamie snapped back: "So does that mean our boys are going to be out of Iraq in a year and a half?" At this the minister's special adviser bounded from her seat as if gravity had been cancelled."
I'm quite sure we can expect David Cameron to take up the cause with gusto. "Every school-aged child will get free muesli and fresh fruit," Dave will pledge, adding with a wink to the camera how Margaret Thatcher was wrong to snatch the kids free school milk off them and he was apologising on behalf of 'modern day Conservatives' everywhere.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Some helpful advice for Conference Delegates

The Campaign for Labour Party Democracy has published Pete Willsman's Guide for Annual Conference delegates, and very helpful it is too.

Am I persona non grata?

I don't usually go to the Labour Party Conference. After over 30 years of going to trade union conferences I tend to think of myself as all conferenced-out. I've done my bit; I've spent whole weeks of my life listening to some of the world's most boring speakers reading out speeches they had spent nights in front of the mirror rehearsing.

But, this year my fellow Ward councillor is the Constituency delegate, and with a foolish rush of blood to the head, I offered to go along to offer moral support and the benefit of my dubious political wisdom. The Party is allowing Labour councillors special access to the Conference this year so I dutifully filled in my form, sent my photo for the pass (which I am told has Murdoch's Sky logo on it - have we sold that too?) and wrote out the cheque which the Party cashed pretty damn quick.

I received confirmation of my registration in Early August, but to date... no credentials, agenda, etc. So I phoned the Conference arrangements people, who confirmed my registration on their computer. However... they said... we haven't had your clearance back from the police!!

After 30 odd years membership, having held virtually every Branch Labour Party position, having sat on the interminable Constituency Management Committee for over 20 years, and 7 years a Labour councillor... this is what it has come to. Some member of Her Majesty's constabulary is going to decide whether or not I am a fit and proper person to go to Party Conference. Thanks a bunch!

Flog the lot

Patricia Hewitt says she is "fighting for the soul of the NHS". If this does not wake up delegates to next week's Labour Party Conference that we are actually involved in a fight to save the bloody soul of the Labour Party I do not know what will. When Blair is packed off to the US speaking circuit perhaps he can take Hewitt with him to carry his bags.... she has experience in the job, she used to do it for Neil Kinnock. Those of us with longer memories recall her days as a strident Bennite, screaming 'traitor' at those who had voted for Healey for Deputy Leader. Believe it or not... she was considered a danger to national security by MI5.... I think they got it right for once.

A plague on both our houses

I'm pleased to hear that Skuds has got them down in Crawley too... because we seem to be the subject of a plague of these buggers at the moment. By the way, I'm told that Skuds' team Crawley Town are actually on the box this week in a top v bottom clash.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Four more years....

For all those deadhead blogging youths at University who say they would rather have a Tory Government than another Labour Government... this is what it used to be like:
The Chancellor raised interest rates from 10% to 12%, then to 15%, and authorised the spending of billions of pounds to buy up the sterling being frantically sold on the currency markets.
Thanks to Elephunt at Impossible Promises for that via the BBC at On This day in 1992.

Although, despite all our recent troubles.... this makes happy reading. It would appear Conservative Party Central Office is even dozier than some our our lot..
A 'cold-calling' survey, in which party workers emailed local constituencies pretending to be members of the public interested in joining, found that only a third even got a response after the first attempt.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Exclusive: John Spellar on his Leadership bid

My MP John Spellar saw fit to announce to his constituency party meeting last night that in the interest of Party unity, and in order to avoid continuing media speculation... he will not be a candidate in an election for party Leader or Deputy Leader.

A stitch in time...

Antonia is a hero She has provided a link list to Iain Dale's top 100 Labour bloggers.

Sudan Watch

Ingrid Jones hosts the excellent Sudan Watch website, which has been cataloguing the horrors in Darfur for the last two years. She is sickened by what she knows, frustrated that the world watches the genocide taking place, and drained of energy, Ingrid is having to take a break. She writes:
Life is short. Taking a break. Can't stomach reading any more news of calls for war and death that gives thieves, terrorists, killers and rapists a field day. Can't bear to see any more photos of uneducated African children living in war zones where billions of dollars are wasted on greedy power crazy bums.

Despite the arrival of the rainy season in south Darfur the country is still faced with critical water shortages, International Committee of the Red Cross reported 7 Sep 2006.

War is senseless. As noted here many times before, countries with water shortages need to be helped by armies of world class land rights lawyers and water engineers to enable clean drinking water to be accessible where needed.

Sudan is a country the size of Europe. For sure, scientists say, it will face increasing water shortages (hence more fighting and killing over water holes, livestock, arable land) due to climate change. A dear old English friend, who'd lived and worked in the Sudan 50 years ago, once described to me Sudan's ongoing crises as "too many people living in the wrong place". I fear he is correct.

300,000 have died already. Now there are fears Sudan is preparing a brutal 'final solution' in Darfur

Measure the column inches this weekend devoted to this horror against those given over to the spoutings of an elderly German religious leader or whether Gordon is talking to Tony this week... and see if you can work out which should be more important.

Something for the weekend

No.2 in Iain Dale's top 100 Labour bloggers. Damn that Kerron Cross! He looks so smug (errm, sorry, I meant cuddly) too! Hopefully by 7pm tonight he will not have anything to smile about... but I do have a sense of unease about this one.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The God slot... or thought for the day

It would appear the Pope has put his size 9’s in it with some remarks quoting some 14th century Christian Emperor saying that the Prophet Muhammad had brought the world only "evil and inhuman" things. OK… who cares what the 14th Century bigots thought about these things, or why the Pope thought it so necessary to regurgitate, it would appear a peculiar way of, in his diplomats words “cultivating a position of respect and dialogue towards other religions.” But what do I know? I was taught religion at school by a Welsh, fundamentalist, sadist named Hughes. One of his tricks was to make us learn whole passages of the Bible, and then read them out from memory to the whole class. He would stand, fist poised behind your head waiting for you to stumble, hesitate, deviate or just plain forget. If and when you did his fist would bring down the vengeance of the Lord swiftly upon you. The one passage I cocked-up on was the 10 commandments, although I can still to this day recall elements of it that were burnt, or beaten, into my brain. So, how about this one for the Holy Father to contemplate in his quieter moments…
I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, punishing the iniquities of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those that hate me;
Even leaving aside his child beating tendencies, just how was this supposed to persuade me of the value of Hughes’ religion? If I make a mistake and worship a false idol, not only do I cop it (fair enough, you might say, although not terribly compassionate) but my kids? Their children, and even their children following them? No, not for me, mate, count me out of all of this stuff.

Home Truths

Radio 4 is deeply ingrained in my psyche. It dates back to childhood memories of the Home Service with, De Manio, Timpson, and Redhead on Today, Yesterday in Parliament and, of course, the bloody Archers (which as someone once said provided sufficient evidence to prove Marx’s theory that the peasantry were not a force for revolution).

I have to admit though, that in recent years I have drifted away from Radio 4 towards Radio 5. As one well respected commentator (well, OK, Iain Dale) said profoundly not so long ago, if your main interests are Sport and News, tuning in to Radio 5 is likely to be where you get your fix. So it is with me, although I am also driven completely up the wall by those constant commercial radio-style jingles telling me what I already know… that I am listening to 5 Live.

So, I was particularly intrigued by this shortlist of the worst programmes on Radio 4… and there is just so much here that I agree with. I used to almost worship the ground that John Peel walked upon… but I could not bear to listen to more than a few grating seconds of the execrable Home Truths. It is impossible to say how much I agree with this assessment of ‘Any Answers’…
Any Questions is bad enough, full of politicians who at least pretend to know what they are talking about. But allowing anyone who can dial the phone access to Radio 4 airwaves - anyone who doesn't have a public image to consider when voicing their opinion on immigration, homosexuality and homosexual immigrants - is not a good idea.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Suddenly... the Tories have stopped believing opinion polls.

Following what some commentators have described as Labour's worst couple of weeks since the last time we had our worst couple of weeks...(errm, sometime in late April/early May) MORI has published an opinion poll which reveals... Labour 1% in front of dozy Dave's crew! As you will see from the comments on ConservativeHome, the boys and girls are getting all jittery and have started blaming MORI for not being able to conduct opinion polls properly.

All it tells me is.... Labour try to ditch Blair... Labour's opinion poll rating rises. If the wider Party is listening, there might even be a message in there somewhere from the electorate.

Selling herself Short

Unlike a lot of comrades who were bemused over her belated resignation at the time of the Iraq invasion, I have always had a lot of time for Clare Short. When it was difficult to get any politician, particularly a Birmingham politician, to take up issues around Ireland on any other basis than 'send more troops, increase repression, etc.' Clare would bravely appear at public meetings and make the case for Irish self determination. She was roundly condemned by many as dithering over her resignation around the Iraq invasion and falsely, I think, accused of putting her career before her principles. As many regular readers will know, I am frequently sympathetic to those who stay and fight their corner rather than indulging in gesture resignations. Whereas Robin Cook achieved Sainthood in the movement, despite presiding as Shadow Foreign Secretary and later Foreign Secretary of a Government which flew daily raids over Iraq and approved sanctions which killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, Clare Short was lambasted for staying on as Overseas Development Secretary because she thought, wrongly, she could have more influence than George W. Bush over our Prime Minister.

On that basis, I am sorry to hear that she will not contest the next General Election... (well done to those bloggers who broke the story before the media), and I'm even sadder to see the fact that she wants to campaign for a hung parliament. As a Birmingham MP she only has to look at the state of almost total inertia in the City since the pathetic and clueless Tory administration, propped up by Lib Dems who would sell their grannies for a foot under the Cabinet table, took control of the Council three years ago. Think again, Clare. By all means campaign for a more progressive Labour Leadership, but not for a coalition of orange book yellow Tories and Cameroon chameleons.

UPDATE: If this story is correct it would appear that Clare has chosen to commit political suicide. Her meetings with the other Birmingham Lib Dem MP, local lothario John Hemming, would be well worth the price of the entrance ticket.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Better to die on your feet than live on your knees

Just a different perspective, I suppose. My comrade from the right of the Party, Luke Akehurst, is at it again. Following the RMT walkout at the TUC before His Master's Voice began, Luke states that in his experience that sort of behaviour is How not to recruit people into trade unions. It just goes to show how experiences differ. I have done a bit in the trade unions myself over the last few years. Strangely, I invariably found that it was those trade unionists who stood up for what they believed in, who voiced the opinions of people in the workplace even when they were unpopular with the bosses, and who were actively prepared to oppose redundancies, closures, privatisations etc. who were respected by their members and were best equipped to recruit more members. Those that silently sat back, meekly accepted the crumbs handed down from the top table, sheepishly followed their careerist full-time officials... they never seemed to get respect, or recruits.

The very observant Pc

I am indebted to Red Mist for this reference to an article from the Express & Star newspaper about a blind man who had been banned from driving for three years. I like the bit where the prosecuting solicitor Peter Love asked Pc Glyn Austin, one of two officers who pulled Aziz over, if he had noticed anything about the driver. Pc Austin replied: “I did - he didn’t have any eyes, Your Worships.” I also agree that the comments of former Leader of Sandwell Conservative Group, Karen Bissell, could be construed as meaning the fragrant Karen didn't think the poor chap should be banned at all. I'm sure she didn't mean that... but the phrase about beggars in respect of this particular gentleman could have been better chosen.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Balti plotting

I have no idea about the validity of this story, although Tom is known to like a curry (or two). But I must question its credibility, I mean... why on earth would you go to Wolverhampton for a balti????

Party poopers

They've all gone quiet over HERE. Despite joining in the London media hype over West Ham's new aquisitions, Iain Dale appears to have gone all shy after they were played off the park yesterday By Martin's lads. I know how Kerron felt now when Watford were only able to get a draw after apparently murdering the Hammers. Still, watch out Kerron... you're up next!

Friday, September 08, 2006

The not-so-secret thoughts of Adrian Bailey Aged 53 and three-quarters

Tom Watson... as most people know by now, is the Labour MP for West Bromwich East. Tom has been in the news for his part in the move to get Tony Blair to avoid leading Labour into the valley of death next May. The MP for the next door constituency, West Bromwich West, is Adrian Bailey, who you almost certainly will not have heard of. Mr Bailey is not even a celebrity in the Bailey household. An ultra loyalist to Blair, Bailey has now come out to condemn Tom Watson's actions, claiming Tom was “out of touch with the people in the borough” This is funny enough to be a spoof. Bailey publicly critices Watson in the newspapers... whilst claiming Watson is being disruptive. As one Sandwell Councillor points out in the article, Watson has the overwhelming support of people in our area. He is a bloody good constituency MP. Adrian Bailey, on the contrary, is an MP who seems to spend an extraordinary amount of time meddling in the affairs of his constituency Labour Party. Perhaps if he looks at the BNP voting pattern in his constituency he would learn a few lessons from Tom Watson about working WITH party members, not AGAINST them.

He's having a bad week

When it's not going your way... it's just not going your way. Blair not welcome here either. Still, I note (via Red Mist) that someone still loves ya, Tone.
It really is quite strange. Keeping the Faith has listed the top 50 achievements of Tony Blair. Now, I thought they were achievements of the Labour Government! Surely that man Gordon Brown, so much slagged off by Blairites over the last few days, must have had something to do with these. Such as No.1, for instance... oh, and no.2.... errm, not forgetting no.3. Equally strange, there seems to be no mention of an obvious ommission..... eliminating weapons of mass destruction from Iraq.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Revolting MPs

Tom Watson is a Sandwell MP, a blogger, and a very, very loyal Labour Party man. Although Tom and myself differ over very many areas of Party policy, he has never adopted a hostile attitude whenever we meet, and when we very occasionally bump into each other we have been known to sink a pint or two very amicably. He thinks I'm a mad trot and I think he is a New Labour clone (and we're both wide of the mark). Since coming into Parliament I don't think Tom has ever voted against the Government line, so for him to sign this letter must have took a lot of soul searching for a man who has only just been appointed to a Ministerial position. There will be those (Iain Dale springs to mind) who will say this is Tom Watson taking a cynical political gamble and hoping for his reward in a Brown Government. But I was watching Tom recently when the Sandwell Labour Group gave their verdict to MPs on the antics of Clarke, Prescott, Jowell... and Tony Blair following the local government elections, and I could tell that as a Party man, it was hurting.

It's his party and he'll cry if he wants to

Here we go, here we go, here we go. There, see, that's one more we've got... we only need to get rid of Blair and the other half a million members he promised us when he took over might actualy join or rejoin.

Monday, September 04, 2006

We're sorry. honestly, really, really, sorry

The self-flagellation of the Conservative Party continues. In the wake of their, "We're terribly sorry" for Thatcher's previous support for racist South Africa, we now have a "we're really, honestly sorry" about the fact that they cocked-up the public services under the old witches regime. I await with baited breath Dave's pronouncement that "We're genuinely sorry for being Conservatives".

File under De-Thatchification.

Essential wear

Just one of the T-shirts available from the good folk at Philosophy Football to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Spanish Civil war. Each one of the four designs is based on banners of the Republic and the International Brigades who fought for land and freedom against the fascists.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

It must be History Revisionism week. Thatcher didn't really call Mandela a terrorist. Young Tories didn't wear badges saying 'Hang Mandela'

Iain Dale seems like a nice guy... but his fixation with Lady Doom really does tend to overshadow his judgement at times. Now we find he is using the Foreign Minister of the discredited racist apartheid government to defend the old witch's policies towards South Africa in the strangely titled The Rights & Wrongs of Margaret Thatcher (errrm, where's the wrongs, Iain?). The bit I like is where Botha says... "she was firmly opposed to apartheid and any form of racial discrimination." This latest piece of sucking up is evenly mildly critical of the boy Dave. It is really quite bizarre and reveals something deeply unhealthy in Iain's inner psyche ... something of the Johnothan Woss in the night here, methinks. Whatever next? Pinochet the torturer and tea-sipping companion revealed as a cuddly old uncle who was misunderstood by everyone except her? No, of course not... why, even Iain goes on to say he didn't think the old bat was right on everything!!! So, perhaps Iain will give us the benefit of one of his top 100 lists. The top 100 things Thatcher got wrong! Don't hold your breath.

It's Squeaky Bum Time

There are moves underway in the Labour Party to get support from Constituencies for a Contemporary Resolution on the Leadership issue. Constituence delegates are urged not to be distracted by those trying to persuade them to support a trade union resolution.

The Leadership model resolution is:
Conference notes the call by the First Minister of the Labour Welsh Assembly Government on 10 August 2006 for clarity over the leadership of the Labour British government well before the Welsh, Scottish and local government elections in May 2007.

Conference notes with concern mounting electoral losses and public controversy about the direction of both domestic and foreign policy.

Moreover, Conference notes growing public concern and interest in a new constitutional settlement to ensure that future British Prime Ministers and their governments are held accountable to Parliament and the electorate.

Conference commends the achievements of its Party Leader since his election in 1994, and subsequently as Prime Minister through Labour’s three successive British General election victories in 1997, 2001 and 2005.

Conference notes the Prime Minister’s previous statement that he will not fight the next General Election as Party Leader or Prime Minister. Conference now believes that the next Labour Prime Minister needs as much time as possible in office before the next General Election, if Labour is to secure a fourth term.

Conference, therefore, calls on the NEC to use its powers under Clause VIII 3 (h)* to table a resolution at Conference for debate and ballot on Wednesday 27 September under Rule 4B. 2d (ii) to enable delegates to decide on a card vote whether or not there should be a Leadership contest before the 2007 Annual Conference.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Relax... browse... it's Saturday!

When I refererred to 10,000 Reasons Civilisation is Doomed (No.3266 is a bitter man) I forgot to reference the fact that I got to it from HERE. Amongst the other little gems worth browsing from the same site you will find Photos made in Moscow subway which shows that Uncle Joe is alive and well and riding the Moscow underground. Looking at the other pictures in the set, there must be a lot of people who think the country would shape up a bit if he went back to the day job. Also.... someone who likes Tunnels and takes some cool pictures of them.