Monday, October 30, 2006

A broad church

At least the Labour members in Selly Oak lcan't complain about not having a varied choice when it comes to selecting their next candidate.. Blairite loyalist to the core, Steve McCabe.... in favour of Foundation Hospitals, the Iraq war, student top-up fees, anti-terrorism laws and ID cards.... or serial rebel Dr Lynne Jones.... errm, opposed to Foundation Trusts, the Iraq war, student top-up fees, anti-terrorism laws and ID cards.

Should be a tasty selection meeting.

Parkinson's disease

If you just happen to be passing through the leafy lanes of Berkshire... this sounds like a great place to miss. Not just for the £850 bill for your grub and the unexceptional range of hearty ales, but you might even have the mifortune to bump into the Thames river bank's most boring Yorkshireman droning on about his love of Barnsley, Fred Trueman, Skinner Normanton, and Dickie Bird, whilst a whole host of middle-of-the road crooners to lull you to sleep. So... if you want a night out watching the tedious Chris Rea or Tony Christie over your reconstituted scampi and onion rings... this one's for you.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Happy families

Sir Paul and Lady Mucca. Couldn't happen to nicer people.

BNP kick squealing Sharon into touch... but who has trousered the cash?

Sharon Ebanks, thrown off Birmingham City Council following a recount of last May's Kingstanding election papers, has now been booted unceremoniously out of the BNP. Not for being an out and out racist, and surely not because enthusiasm for her cause drained away when it was revealed her father was black, but because she would not keep quiet about allegations of financial corruption in the BNP. Perhaps the most ludicrous suggestion for Sharon's departure was that
"she had made anti-semitic remarks"
... even Sharon, in the immortal words of Ricky Gervais, was moved to say "You're having a laff".

When the delightful Ms. Ebanks was fighting her case to keep her seat, Sandwell BNP activist Simon Smith launched a defence fund with a view to raising £5,000 from the gullible to pay for legal costs.... now some of the stormtroopers are asking the sheepish Smiffy, "Where's our money gone?" in light of the fact that the BNP are not paying the legal costs. Over on the Stormtroopers chat forum... things are getting a tad fractious.

Tom Traubert's Blues

A bad liver and a broken heart. A profile and interview with Tom Waits.


Simon Jenkins writing in The Sunday Times writes an interesting piece on Ruth Kelly's local government proposals and the notion that Gordon Brown had essentially filleted them before they were published. Jenkins is trying to push the nonsense of elected Mayors' though, so he presents us with a few facts from the right-wing think tank, the New Local Government Network, whose very basis for existence seems to be that they detest local government. So, one of Jenkins' 'facts about Mayors' is that
"Election turnouts have risen"
. Well.... given the hysteria generated by the local media in these contests, turnouts would be up, you would think. I took a look at the New Local Government Network's list of Mayoral election results... and the turnout of electors listed there appears to have been less than spectacular. Of course, in Stoke-on-Trent in 2005, (where in 2002 the public nearly elected a BNP Mayor, which would have produced an interesting response from our NLGN friends)... the turnout was helped by the fact that nearly 10,000 voters took the trouble to vote... to spoil their ballot papers! Some endorsement, that, eh?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The sound of silence

I've just come back from watching Aston Villa play Liverpool at the Liverpool Central Library. This is not sour grapes. We are no strangers to defeat by a comfortable three goal margin up there. For years during the seventies and eighties it seemed that we were invited along as the support act when Liverpool were presented with the Championship trophy, and for desert they rattled up three quick goals before declaring and playing an exhibition match for their fans.

What was different today though, (apart from the fact that their slightly better than average team are a million miles away from winning the title) was that those games used to be played at Anfield. A roaring atmosphere, full of screaming demented scousers, intimidating to away teams and fans alike. Today's game was played in front of what Roy Keane once described as the prawn sandwich brigade. 3-0 up, with five minutes to go in the first half, ripping your opponents to shreds, a whole squad of stewards wouldn't have been able to drag me out of my seat until the break. But no, this passive bunch of muppets, who came alive briefly with each goal before returning to their slumbers, were off down the steps queuing for their half-time scampi. After the break, they patted their stomachs, and fell gently to sleep, interrupted only briefly for the ovation to the immense Steven Gerrard as he left the pitch, job done. When we got back to the M6, where we merged with the fake scousers and Mancs on their way back to London from Bolton, I wondered where all the old Liverpool fans who used to go to the match from their Liverpool homes, go now on a Saturday.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Old Lady VS. Jerk in Mercedes

(Via Paulie)... and as he says, watch the airbag.


I had a late night last night, and this morning I dreamt I heard someone called Andrew Lansley, who claimed to be a Shadow Health Minister, on the Today ranting on about how PFI was a complete waste of money. Then things got more surreal... I heard Lord Baker, former Thatcherite Education Secretary of State, savaging Labour for backing down to faith groups, particularly the Roman Catholic church over the issue of them having to accept up to a quarter of their pupils from other faiths or with no religion. It was a really horrible nightmare... and so realistic.

Wait for it...

Tom Waits has one of the most distinctive voices in modern music, with a rasp that sounds like a 60-a-day man who has swallowed a razorblade. He has a 54-track triple CD out next month, Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards and by following the links you can find more details and listen to some of the tracks, and I would urge you to listen to 'Road to Peace'... one of Waits' few diversions into politics. It's bloody brilliant.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Power to the people... but only if you do it how we tell you

So, that's it then. Ruth Kelly is putting the local back into local government. She (well, her boss actually, but the Opus Dei One has been lumbered with it) has decided it is time for local authorities and local people to be 'empowered'. Time to throw off the shackles of centralised bureaucratic government. Sounds really good, eh? All that local democracy stuff... all that 'double devolution' jargon... set the people free... let them decide. I love the sense of freedom and empowerment for local people in this one classic phrase... Central Government will:
"Legislate for choice of three leadership models for local authorities: a directly elected mayor, a directly elected executive of councillors, or a leader elected by their councillors with a clear four year mandate. All executive power will be vested in the leader of the council."
All executive power will be vested in the leader of the council. Well, you can't get much more local and democratic than that... can you?

A new non-job filled

According to Iain Dale, Gillian Shephard has got a new job. Obviously the arse-end of the pantomine donkey position had already been taken.


Still trying to bin the reflected glory of others. After spending 23 years living on the back of a European Cup win when he wasn't there, he is now trying to claim the credit due to his successor.
"I always knew he was the right man and I have been proved absolutely 100 per cent correct."
Nothing to do with the 20 million-odd smackeroonies he trousered on the way out, of course.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Well, he ain't here then...

I thought I would try to help out in The War Against Terror (T.W.A.T.)... so I typed the name Osama Bin Laden on to this site...
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Ever since Thatcher, who seemed to think the law of the jungle was best, politicians have been engaged in trying to work out the best way of testing efficiency and value for money in public services. Major modified CCT regulations, Blair tried Best Value, and now we seem to have settled upon a series of inspection regimes. In health and social care you have CSCI and Joint Area Reviews and the Healthcare Commission, in local government we have the Audit Commission, education has OFSTED, and on, and on. If a Council, school, or a hospital trust gets a bad inspection you will often find something in the media from your rent-a-quote politician sounding off to anyone interested on the back of an Inspectors’ report.

It got me thinking about how we performance manage our MPs. At the moment, the only real measure is the ballot box every four or five years, and often, on the flimsiest of information, we are asked to judge whether they are doing a good job or not, even though we may have had no personal contact with her or him. So… why don’t we have a Commission that will tell us about our MPs. They could arrive with a few days notice, inspect all correspondence and see how quickly and efficiently it was turned round. They could check attendance in the House of Commons (MPs would clock in) and participation in divisions, and they could do unannounced spot checks outside their advice surgeries to check with constituents how they felt they were treated, was the MP polite and helpful, etc.

Then, they could publish their reports for everyone to see whether they are achieving a one, two or three-rated service as an MP. When it came around to selection of a candidate, or at election time, people would then be able to make an informed choice… yes, choice, that phrase so much championed by the government, about whether they had an MP who met the required standards. Then, if the public re-elect an MP in the full knowledge that he or she has been a wretch for years, so be it, that’s their choice.

Just to be helpful, I have suggested a name for the new body; it could be the Commission Hoping to Improve MPs. (CHIMP).

Monday, October 23, 2006

A mayor for Birmingham

The Birmingham Post today prints a letter from the Labour Group Leader on the City Council saying that "a Labour council would allow an unfettered referendum on the future governance arrangements for Birmingham." Leaving aside the fact that there is no immediate prospect of a Labour leadership of Birmingham City Council, should Sir Albert not indicate whether or not he has a particular interest in the possible position of City Mayor for Birmingham? With the Birmingham Post & Mail Group making it absolutely crystal clear over the last few years that it favours a City Mayor (pushing forward people like local historian Carl Chinn, the clown Digby-Jones, and even more laughably Karren bloody Brady who already presides over one lot of Birmingam losers), Sir Albert knows that a referendum is going to be massively skewed in favour of a 'yes' vote. Of course, there are those cynics who might suggest it is the only possible way Sir Albert could return to power in Brum.

Hatters on Cameron

Roy Hattersley takes a week off from attacking Tony Blair, and turns his attention to Dave. I suspect the dilemma that both Labour and Tories have with David Cameron is that neither really trust his integrity. Is he really the same old reactionary Tory trying to fool the electorate into believing he is something else as Hattersley says, ...
The Tory leader's approach to politics is so blatantly superficial that the thinking voter is waiting, perhaps subconsciously, for the real Tory to emerge from behind the bland wall of generalities.
... or does he genuinely believe what he is saying, and is just greasing the pole before shafting the Tories with it?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Don't think twice, it's alright

Birmingham City Football Club are Shit! Don't blame me for that, get it from someone who knows. At least Pete isn't like one of those saddos that have been wandering the earth for the last three years telling anyone who will listen that the sleeping giant has woken up.

This is a cracker for Dylanoligists. Thanks (again) to Tony.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

More from The Bench

I have never seen this site before today... and now I am nicking all of it's contents because it is superb. Whilst you are there... check out the Afghan Novelty Pen.

Why don't we do it in the road?

Cruel... but clever.

On the subject of music, if my daughter happens to read this... you are reminded that there are 392 Jeff Buckley videos on YouTube.

A Short Farewell

I get the impression from reading Labour bloggers that their attitude to Clare Short's resignation is rather shaped by their own position on the political spectrum. For what it's worth, I suspect Elephunt is closer to my sentiments on this.

Johnny B. Goode

I suspect if asked to name a singer/songwriter as "America's most evocative post-war poet" many would choose Bob Dylan, for his lyricism, or maybe Johhny Cash or Bruce Springsteen, for their description of white, blue collar life. I've got to say though, I was impressed with Roger Winfield's choice in Guardian Letters today.
Rock 'n' roll's defining guitarist and its greatest songwriter (In praise of ... Chuck Berry, October 18) is also America's most evocative poet since the second world war. The teenager-driven cars (No Particular Place to Go), the tight dresses, lipstick and high-heel shoes of the teenager who has to return to being a schoolgirl at the beginning of each week (Sweet Little Sixteen), the would-be pop-star guitarist (Johnny B Goode), the poor country boy determined to get to California for a better life, despite the uncomfortable journey in a Greyhound bus, and the dangers lurking in the deep south (The Promised Land). Chuck Berry paints the definitive picture of increasingly independent teenagers growing up in the land of opportunity that was emerging into the light from the dark days of McCarthyism.
Roger Winfield
Maybe, Roger, but if only we had never heard that poetic classic... My ding-a-ling!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Oooh Aahh, getting the Word of God

The queues this afternoon were massive, snaking around the Pavilion shopping centre and out in to the rain. People bringing their children, many of whom weren't born when he was strutting his stuff in his pomp, for a brief glimpse and maybe a word or two from the great man. Yer man was signing his book... Back from the Drink (oops, sorry, Brink) and if he has genuinely recovered from his illness, I'm so, so pleased. Paul is a legend, and one that many park players can empathise with. They also drink too much, they also fail to train... but unfortunately for them... they are also crap!


Super sleuth John Hemming has been quite good at highlighting voting fraud... and it is something which I agree with him on. It should be stamped upon and the perpetrators should be joining the ever swelling ranks in Britain's prisons. John is so hot on this, he not only exposed it on his blog, he even set up a website specifially to draw attention to abuse of the voting system. So, this is just a reminder for John, that this case in Preston Crown Court seems to have slipped your attention, with no mention on your website or your blogsite. Of course, I am absolutely sure that there is no connection between this momentary memory slip and the fact that the perpetrators were.... Liberal Democrats. (Hat tip to Impossible Promises)

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Unity draws our attention to this story on the Labour Party website about the Tory tax proposals which encapsulates the entire sentiment in one splendid headline!

Brum 'let down by its leaders'

The Tory-Lib Dem coalition (under the leadership of Mike Whitby who doesn't even want to live in the City himself) that is currently ruining Birmingham, comes under fire again.

By the way... whatever happened to that Lib Dem pledge to look again at Asian representation within their City Council Cabinet positions? They all still have a distinctly pale look to them.

Cruddas for Deputy?

I must confess that when it became evident we were going to have a Leader/Deputy Leader election sometime in the next year, the name Jon Cruddas did not readily come to mind. Then it became obvious he was coming up on the rails in the betting stakes, moving from over 100/1 to single figures in just a few weeks. Well, Cruddas has now formally thrown his hat in the ring, launched his Deputy Leadership bid, opened a campaign website... and I have to say he don't look half bad. For instance, on his 'Changing the Party' page he writes...
"I want to re-engage with those progressives who currently limit their activism to single issue campaigns; trade unionists, community activists, anti poverty campaigners, charities and many more."
If Brown (always presuming he wins, of course) was seeking a deputy who would carry out Prescott's buffer role (buffer, I said, not buffoon) placating the trade unions and the soft left, that's just the sort of appeal you would make. At this stage the only other people to express an interest are Mrs Dromey and the Suntan Kid... and on that basis, Cruddas, my old son, you're a shoe in for the job. Having said that Alan Johnson has all but made his intentions obvious, (and my postman is a Shop Steward who tells me he actually went to Johnson's wedding - but I won't let that influence me) Straw must have opened the veil debate for some reason and Paddy Power are quoting 25/1 on Clare Short and David Blunkett... who must have about as much chance as Norman Tebbit!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Off the fence time, Dave

So, that was a week in Bournemouth in which a Shadow Cabinet member could barely move their lips without "No tax cuts here" squeaking out... followed by a Tax Commission which recommends £21bn in... errm... tax cuts! Now we will see what the boy Dave and his friend Wee Georgie actually do. I bet they are downing an extra pint tonight in my local at the thought of the abolition of stamp duty on their shares, a reduction in business taxes and the ending of inheritance tax. A price worth paying, they will say, in exchange for a slashing of public services.

An issue for the Ginger People's Liberation Front

They are leading the fight against sexual sterotyping at The Bakers Oven, in Kidderminster and Stafford, but it cannot be long before redheads start to hit back!

If that doesn't bring tears to your eyes... this might!

That's Entertainment?

After 3 years spent trying to prevent Blue Chip Casinos opening an all night casino in a residential street in my Ward we have this week been notified that the Planning Department has received a planning application for 'an adult amusement centre'right in the centre of the main shopping centre. What, pray tell, is a bloody 'adult amusement centre'? Far be it for me to prejudge an application (but I don't sit on Planning, so I can say what I like anyway) but if it is some sort of sleazy venue more appropriate to Soho or the Arizona desert... they had better settle in for a protracted fight.

On the subject of Casinos, Sandwell Council's Cabinet will today consider whether the Borough should have a 'No Casino' policy. Under the 2005 Gambling Act licensing authorities are able to pass a resolution stating that they will not be issuing any new casino premises licenses. There are already two casinos in Sandwell and frankly, for one of the most deprived Boroughs in England, that is more than enough. The Director of Public Health for Sandwell in his annual report has pointed out the link between poverty and ill-health, and the health statitics for Sandwell clearly demonstrate that. I am confident the Cabinet will support a No Casino policy today and that it will be overwhelmingly passed by Council on 31st October.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Democratic deficit

I have already expressed my reservations about New Labour's about-to-be-announced 'Double decentralisation' which is expected to devolve services and skip over the level of local councils to empower community groups and the voluntary sector. Well, the Tenant Management Organisation from hell has not done a lot to change my mind, that's for sure.

Peace in our time?

A very good piece by Skipper on the achievement of the Government, and a lot of others, it must be said, in getting so close to a settlement in Ireland... together with a constructive comment from Politaholic... and the usual rant from Thatcher's little clone you-know-who.

Cash for Access

I thought Iain Dale seemed unnecessarily tetchy the other day when I saw him commenting on a blog about the contributions to the Conservative Party by the freemason-type mafia known as the Midlands Industrial Council. Well, Fair Deal Phil has been doing a bit of digging around on the MIC together with PoliticalHackUK and what do you see there...
Sir Anthony Bamford - donated to David Davis’s campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party.
Richard Smith - donated to David Davis’s campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party.
Nothing wrong with that, at all. Just that Iain Dale, campaign manager for David Davis’s campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party, seemed so keen to leap to the defence of the MIC. Perfectly innocent. Of course. No wonder Cameron has remained so close to his rival to the Tory leadership... keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Sunday Service

According to today's Observer, there is a battle going on within the Cabinet between the Catholic Tendency and the rest about proposals to stop schools, companies and other agencies refusing services to people purely because of their sexuality. Given that even the Conservative Party (well, its leader) appears to have been dragged kicking and screaming out of the 18th Century on the issue of gay rights, although I liked the passage in the article which said
"the issue has also tested David Cameron's progressive credentials, with senior Conservatives still locked in debate about their response"
(the words fence and sit spring to mind) this particular squabble seems particularly unedifying, and how a member of the Catholic freemasonry Opus Dei can be put in charge of equality issues seems totally mystifying to me.

As I have said before, religion is a personal thing. In the same way as I don't want to be 'converted to homosexuality' - a ridiculous concept, I know, neither do I want Jehovas or any other bible-bashers knocking on my door. I don't think the Church, of any religion, should run schools at all. I don't think Britain should be 'a Christian country' nor Islamic, or Bhuddist or Seven-Day Adventist come to that. If individuals choose to wear religous symbols or clothes, be they veils, turbans or spiked garters, that's OK with me... but just, as Nike would say, do it! Don't try to force your religious views on to me. The Labour Party I thought I was in stands for support for the rights of people irrespective of their sexuality. If the Roman Catholic Church, or any other Church, Mosque or Temple believe homosexuality is a sin, that is up to them. If the Catholic Tendency, whoever they are, or anyone else wants to import those values into the Labour Party, let them get up on their pins at Party Conference and try it!

Feel their pain

Iain Dale has got some old footage from YouTube of the days when the old Witch of Finchley used to spend her days dividing the country, which clearly used to give Iain those Jonothan Ross moments in his youth. The interesting thing is, having watched the video straight after seeing Farage of the U-kippers on the Andrew Marr slot this morning, how much closer the video (and the barmy Baroness) is to Farage as opposed to the vacuous rhetoric of David Cameron. I suppose if you watch the film objectively, with all that flag waving land of hope and glory stuff you can understand the hurt and pain the 'natural party of government' must be going through trying to adapt to a life of perpetual opposition.... and then you can laugh out loud.

PS - Doesn't anyone have the footage of the old witch leaving Downing Street for the last time, dabbing the tears from her eyes, a joyous occasion for the nation.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Victorian houses... Victorian values

Over the last year there have been a few 'modern' and more upmarket type of establishments opening in my Ward, appealing to a younger clientelle. It probably reflects the house price inflation in this part of Sandwell and the demographic change as younger people move into the Victorian terraced houses. So imagine my surprise this week to be contacted by a constituent who was genuinely upset because she had been told off by the waitress for breastfeeding in the Bistro following a complaint from another customer. It wasn't as if she was flashing her boobs or making an open display of what she was doing either, but when she asked for the bill and agreed to leave the premises to feed her child, she was given a bill for the starter and main course, even though they had only been served the starter. Personally, I don't think under those circumstances they would have even got the money for the starter out of me.... but I think it does raise a question about how some of these places market themselves as being 'modern' whilst their attitudes are so outdated.

A Great Leader

If Tony Blair is getting ready to shunt General Richard Dannatt into a quiet siding following his recent outpourings in the Mail, perhaps when looking for a replacement he will consider the commendation of the former Deputy Director of the White House Military Office who also served as the 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps 1995 to 1999 who knows "a great leader" when he sees one ... and there was me thinking it was only Steve McLaren who was looking over his shoulder nervously.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


The BBC Midlands News today devoted at least 12 minutes of our regional news coverage to the Sion Simon YouTube video. OK, there hasn't been an earthquake, or an outbreak of the plague, or a great train robbery today in the West Midlands, but surely this video cannot warrant that sort of broadcasting time. But it wasn't just the time devoted, there was also the tone of the coverage. The normally placid granny's favourite, dozy Nick Owen, was apoplectic about it. Interviewing Simon, Owen turned beetroot red and spluttered about the video "offering your wife for sex", before then hinting that the Labour Party may want to take action against Sion simon, and fellow West Midlands MP, Tom Watson who has made comments on another video suggesting David Cameron has a Filipino maid.

Now there are those amongst you who would suggest that given recent events concerning Simon and Watson, the old Downing Street dirty dossier team have been up to their old tricks. You may say that, I couldn't possible comment.

Update: Bloody hell... Murdoch's got his nose in the same trough now, and they even have the subtlety to mention that letter..

Luke's list

Extreme right-wing Labour councillor Luke Akehurst doesn't think The Guardian's John Harris should be allowed to join the Labour Party. Why, I hear you ask? Well, Harris apparently once advocated people should vote tactically for the Lib Dems, SNP, Plaid, Respect or the Greens in some constituencies.

Well... I have some sympathy with Lukey on this one. I mean, for heaven's sake, how on earth did this bloke ever get in to the Party? I am prepared to join a campaign, let's call it Luke's List, where we draw up a hit-list of all of those former SDP, Liberals, and Lib Dems who jumped on the New Labour bandwagon in the mid 1990's and joined the Labour Party, and campaign for their expulsion. All those Downing Street policy advisers who have been advocating the privatisation of public services for the last decade, they can be first up against the wall.... we know your backgrounds, for sure.

Luke... get a bloody life!

Scrap the GLC (slight return)

The latest person to join the queue to get a sound thrashing from Ken Livingstone in the London Mayoral elections is Lee Rotherham who is standing on a ticket asking Londoners to get rid of him (actually, Lee, if you are the candidate, don't worry, I suspect you will get your wish!). He is supported by the Right Honorable Norman Tebbit who I nearly bumped into on Tuesday when he was following 'shagger' Parkinson on the way back To the Lords after Eric Forth's funeral. I half expected the Witch of Finchley to come floating around the corner on her broomstick next, but by the ghostly look of Tebbit, I have some doubts as to whether he will linger with us long enough to still be around for the Mayoral elections.

Bury Motty... and his mate Lawro

Humiliating as last night's football was in Croatia (just my luck to be in Cardiff when Wales win their annual match) at least we didn't have to put up with the commentary from John Motson. Whoever covered the game for Sky was bad enough, and David Platt's summarising brought almost as many hoots of laughter out of my Welsh fellow drinkers as Paul Robinson's air kick... but at least they weren't John Motson. I said this before the World Cup, and nothing he said there with the idiot Lawrenson (or Motty and Lawro as the Beeb call them in the hope that we will identify them as a couple of lads at the match) did anything to change my mind. So I was pleased to read this in my local rag...
"With every passing year the nonsense with which Motty pollutes the airwaves becomes ever more intolerable."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I'm setting out early....

I'm going to an event this evening at Cardiff City Hall, not too far from the Millennium Stadium.... I hope I don't get caught up in the crush.

Should we ban smoking outdoors too in some areas?

Westminster Council has applied to extend the smoking ban for pubs and bars to outside the premises. Now I know this will attract all sorts of complaints about civil liberties and send the pro-smoking lobby into fits of apoplexy.... but... I have some sympathy with what the Council are doing. The Planning Inspectorate has overuled the wishes of the Council's planning committee and the objections of the overwhelming majority of local people in my Ward and allowed a planning application for an all-night casino in a residential street. The Planning Inspectorate ignored the fact that people will be coming and going in taxis and cars all bloody night, banging doors and shouting farewell to their mates. As from next year with the smoking ban in operation on the premises, the smokers will be congregating outside for a fag and a chat at all hours. Well, I think Sandwell Council need to consider whether we can apply for the same sort of ban. I wouldn't want to intefere with the running of businesses before, say midnight, but after that it seems perfectly sensible to say that in residential areas people should not be allowed to congregate outside and cause a nuisance to people who need their sleep.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Go for the man, never mind the ball

...or should that read, go for the balls, never mind the man. A lot of what is written on political blogs is about the personalities of the politicians. Yes, there is discussion and analysis of political issues, but often even that is defined in terms of individuals. So we either have 'Blairwatch' which frequently hits the spot, but often couches it in fairly meaningful insults about the personalities involved (I am not exempting myself from that, by the way) all the way through to Iain Dale, who writes a marvellously entertaining site, but mostly in the style of a newspaper gossip columnist. The one thing you can guarantee from most is that the personalities are discussed and described in an almost entirely sectarian style.... and the commentators do that even more.

So, that's why I found this piece so interesting. It's by a conservative, it's about personality, but it is thoughtful, and not simply sectarian.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Who am I and where have I been?

One of the first blogs I check each day is the excellent The Daily. Once again today we find an interesting post, this one asking What's Watson up to? which reveals that Tom has put down two Written Parliamentary Questions asking about his own diary commitments and travel arrangements.

Bald men fight for comb

Just a couple of days after failing to win the leadership of his party U Kipper Richard Suchorzewski has resigned from the Kippers because of an alleged dirty tricks campaign by supporters of the other half of the rump. The Judean Popular People's Front’ are still searching for a leader, Richard.

The Hitler Youth

As The Daily points out today there has been a massive growth in the use of MySpace and similar sites, Social network sites are serious campaign tools and some of it is for ploitical purposes. According to my 17 year-old-son there has certainly been a great deal of interest in this sort of 'chat' site by the fascist BNP. He said that they start off talking to young people about matters of interest, music, tv programmes etc. and then they start gradually moving the conversation around to topics such as how difficult it is getting a job with all the asylum seekers in the country, or how the clubs are full of 'immigrants'. Eventually the chat moves around to how the BNP are defenders of English values and their love of issues such as animal welfare. I attended a Unite Against Fascism meeting in Birmingham on Saturday and it is quite clear from what people were saying that the racists have decided secondary school kids are a target audience.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Over the last few days The Guardian letters columns have been filling up with people relating malapropisms. There is a friend of mine whose wife is an absolute genius at these. To be really effective a malapropism must have a germ of truth in it somewhere and Barbara's best to date was to issue a warning to her husband, "Jim, you know, a leper never changes his spots."

Watson calls for Cameron to come clean

Tom Watson challenges David Cameron to answer his questions. It would be good if a number of Labour Bloggers were to post this on their blogs.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Kerron Cross gets his leg over in his Watford strip

Communication breakdown

I'm amused by the irony of those bloggers who agree with Jack Straw because they find wearing the veil makes 'face-to-face' communication difficult. Very droll. While you are at it, perhaps you would all like to throw your radios away.

The Sandwell Council Jihad

rewriting history

Despite the fact that we come from different strands within the Party, I don't often take issue with Hughesy who writes a fine blog, but I don't think I can let this pass unchallenged. In an attempt to have a dig at John McDonnell for saying that people are disillusioned with Blair's Government, Hughesy decides to put the boot in to Clem Atlee for some obscure reason, saying:
"I wonder if he can remember the majority that Attlee managed for his (very short) second term of office after his allegedly ‘successful and highly popular progressive first term’ (according to some leftie mythologists)"
Now, I don't know whether I am a 'leftie mythologist' or not, but let's not deal in myth and look instead at some facts.

In 2005, out of an electorate of 44,245,939, Labour got 9,552,436 votes, approximately 21.5% of the electorate. Labour had a majority of 66 seats

In 1950, out of an electorate of 34,412,255, Labour got 13,266,176 votes, about 38.5% of the electorate and Atlee had a majority in single figures.

Yes, Labour only won a wafer thin majority in 1950, but with more votes than the Conservatives, and with nearly 2 million votes more than they had won in the post-war landslide. Staggeringly, 18 months later, Labour added another 700,000 votes - and lost to the Tories.

So, on a programme of nationalisation, building homes fit for heroes and creating the National Health Service (despite being broke from fighting the War), Labour markedly increased its popularity. In 2005, Labour's 9.5 million votes compares very badly with the 'Things can only get better' euphoria of 1997 when the Party secured 11,348,623 votes. So privatistion, creating a market economy in the National Health Service, and flogging off council housing are hardly the popular policies that the 'right mythologists' would like us to believe.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

One big happy family

There are Blue Tories and there are Yellow Tories, but in Aberdeen, as in Birmingham, spot the difference!

So, what could be happening in Spring then?

So... at last, we get the recognition we deserve. Instead of spending a fortune and a lot of arses getting fat on conference seats clapping like demented seals every time the Leadership throw them a fish... we have scrapped the Spring Conference to put a lot more effort into blogging and podcasting!!

Believe it anyone? Not me, that's for sure. I suspect this is the first part of an announcement about a Leadership contest in the Spring. I mean, you wouldn't want a distraction like the Spring Conference to get in the way now, would you?

National Poetry Day

Apparently today was National poetry Day, so I thought I would reproduce Benjamin Zephania's plea for a vegetarian Christmas.
Talking Turkeys!

Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas
Cos' turkeys just wanna hav fun
Turkeys are cool, turkeys are wicked
An every turkey has a Mum.
Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas,
Don't eat it, keep it alive,
It could be yu mate, an not on your plate
Say, Yo! Turkey I'm on your side.
I got lots of friends who are turkeys
An all of dem fear christmas time,
Dey wanna enjoy it, dey say humans destroyed it
An humans are out of dere mind,
Yeah, I got lots of friends who are turkeys
Dey all hav a right to a life,
Not to be caged up an genetically made up
By any farmer an his wife.

Turkeys just wanna play reggae
Turkeys just wanna hip-hop
Can yu imagine a nice young turkey saying,
"I cannot wait for de chop",
Turkeys like getting presents, dey wanna watch christmas TV,
Turkeys hav brains an turkeys feel pain
In many ways like yu an me.

I once knew a turkey called........ Turkey
He said "Benji explain to me please,
Who put de turkey in christmas
An what happens to christmas trees?",
I said "I am not too sure turkey
But it's nothing to do wid Christ Mass
Humans get greedy an waste more dan need be
An business men mek loadsa cash'.

Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
Invite dem indoors fe sum greens
Let dem eat cake an let dem partake
In a plate of organic grown beans,
Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
An spare dem de cut of de knife,
Join Turkeys United an dey'll be delighted
An yu will mek new friends 'FOR LIFE'.

Benjamin Zephaniah

You can take the Tories out of the 19th Century... but you can't take the 19th Century out of the Tories

One man's "little joke" is another man's "offensive homophobic comment". I don't know the background to this, but the Liberal Democrat person's comment that.... "this is a work-related e-mail service and therefore I also have rights not to have to read unrelated dirt." seems a trifle over the top considering the original e-mail sounded like a fatuous piece of nonsense about Noah having "to obtain planning permission, abide by building regulations, commission an environmental impact study, install a fire sprinkler system and seek guidance from the RSPCA." I suspect (on absolutely no evidence, I hasten to add) that Cllr. Clutterbuck is your standard old Tory bore who was adding his little piece of nonsense on to another piece of nonsense and that no amount of social re-programming will change him.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Mass debating

So, here it is... the launch of the new Tory eurosceptic group, the Movement for European Reform. Its aims are crystal clear..... it wants to , well, reform the EU. It stands for "having a debate", and it will become "a powerhouse of ideas for change." Is that not enough to persuade you what a good idea it is? OK, then, try this, "it will be a strong new voice for change, optimism and hope" and it will be "an exciting new project which aims to build a body of opinion in the European Union in support of a flexible, open EU."

Well, you can't get much clearer than that about your objectives can you? And you thought it was just another front organisation for all those xenophobes and other crackpots to whinge on and on about straight bananas and being in Europe but not ruled by Europe. As if.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Funeral songs

Paulie over at Never Trust a Hippy gives us the top 20 songs played at funerals. I must admit to having some doubts about this list on the basis that I thought Frankie's syrupy 'My way' was supposed to be the number one funeral song these days. however, it did bring to mind my own dear mother who had requested my father be sent to the fiery furnace accompanied by one of his favourite songs by one of his favourite singers, that they always used to request for the last dance. So as we stood around somberly, the button was pushed and the coffin started to trundle along the conveyor belt, and the melodic sound of Jim Reeves singing.... "He'll have to go"!

Whilst thinking about Paulie, I read David Peace's masterpiece The Damned United about Cloughie's 44 days at Leeds last week, and I couldn't help but think that a second volume about the Forest years would be much appreciated. I can't recommend this book enough, so I'll just reproduce one of the reviews on Amazon:
"David Peace captures the essence of Brian Clough brilliantly throughout - you can almost hear him saying every word. He doesn't shy away from some of the harsher realities - and speculations - about Clough but the reader can just as easily see how Clough's ability and drive made him the success he was. I can't recommend this book too highly."

Snout.... trough... eat!

When John Hemming MP was a bag carrier for Conservative Leader of Birmingham City Council Mike Whitless, he spent ages on the telephone bending the ears of reporters on the Birmingham Mail giving them news of excessive spending by the outgoing Labour administration on office decorating, carpets etc. Councillor Hemming would also regale us at great length with these tales on his blogsite... although for some mysterious reasons the archives no longer contain these posts.

So it is amazing that he hasn't been able to comment on this story, although it is amusing to note that the coalition thinks so little of the Dim Libs that Hemming's replacement, 'jolly good sport' Tildsley, has now been relegated to using his bus pass (oops sorry, I meant making a generous sacrifice).

Tweedle Dum... and Tweedle Dummer


How to lose friends and influence people

One of the most cutting remarks made about Tony Blair by his detractors in the Labour Party was that he never actually liked the Party or its members very much. In the same vein, the boy Dave has put a few noses out of joint (no pun intended, Dave) by snubbing the Party's B Listers.

Vote Blue... turn green?

With all of these new touchy-feely, hug-a-tree Tories I am sure that the new Internet TV station 18 Doughty Street, being "anti-establishment" will be keen to establish its 'green' credentials. Or will it?

I know the new station claims to have funding for its launch from its central London location... but do we know where from? It's best to be open about these sort of things given the current sensitivity, don't you think?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Tom Watson - The Movie

Tom Watson's resignation as Defence Minister has had a particularly good spin off... the best British political blogger is freed up to return to blogging. Now, in response to Cameron's latest publicity stunt, we can enjoy WatsoCam.

Bloggers4Labour... nothing happened, shock!

Labour's numero uno blogger Kerron Cross came to the bloggers4labour get together in Manchester last week.... but not much really happened! I suppose in a sense Kerron is right, but what exactly was he expecting to happen? Lap dancing? Karaoke? A round or two of bingo, or carpet bowls, perhaps? Here we assembled, over 20 people united only by our support for the Labour Party (which everyone had talked about all week) and the fact that we had blog sites. So, in a fairly relaxed and informal setting, we had a couple of jars and a chat, which was about what I was anticipating. Perhaps Kerron could organise the next one, and we could all find out what delightful sins go on on a wet Tuesday in Watford... perhaps the Derby & Joan Club concrete hut would make a good meeting place?

Nothing like hacking off the media

How very refreshing to see that those Tories who were sniggering at Labour (and me in particular) last week because we couldn't even organise the distribution of passes to Conference... are having a little local difficulty themselves in Bournemouth. Why, according to Iain Dale, many media folk couldn't get in and even the normally immaculate Andrew Rawnsley allegedly had to spend the night in the car because he couldn't access his hotel inside the secure zone. Those red silk socks will be starting to get a bit lively about now, Andrew.

Cameron theft shock!!!

An exclusive at The Stirrer reveals that David Cameron has been stealing images on his Webcameron site from a Birmingham-based web designer. Cough-up some cash for the guy, you bloody cheapskate fraudster. (Hat tip to Tom).

First day shockers

I wrote earlier about the turgid, dreary delivery of David Davis, who had less punch than the West Ham forward line. Little did I know that he was only the warm up act for John McCain. Frankly, it would have been more lively if they had wheeled out John Wayne.... and he's been dead since 1979! He first became famous for being a prisoner of war in Vietnam... and they obviously performed the frontal lobotomy on him there. It was truly, truly abysmal. According to the boy Dave, who looked quite lively in comparison (Geoffrey bloody Boycott would have looked lively in comparison) he's going to be the next President of the United States (McCain, that is, not Dave, or Geoffrey). Heaven help us.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sleep easy, Gordon

I've just watched the most abysmal conference speech by the David Davis to the Conservative Party Conference. At through in almost total silence by the delegates, at the end of his ponderous rallying call, Davis got a 23 second standing ovation. And the Tories have the temerity to accuse Brown of being dour.