Saturday, May 10, 2008

Timpson Towers: Not Wet Paper Bag in the Road

On Tuesday we shook with laughter as Tory by-election candidate Edward Timpson piped up on Channel 4 News alongside a Cam who knew it wouldn't wash to have had it hard and grown up with 86 orphans and all that Oliver-esque song and dance.

So is the family seat actually a wet paper bag in the middle of the road as he impied? Or is it the above mansion and grounds? A Google satellite view. LOL don't give a monkey's whether Edward is rich, or a toff, or both. We do however care when he pretends to have had it tough for the cameras. Seems like he might be a bit dim to even try that one.

Complete Bollocks: Tory Resigns Over Cancer Hoax

This one is rather strange even by Daily Mail/Tory standards.

A Walter Mitty Tory name of Darren Gilbert (right) apparently told his bosses at a Tesco depot that he had testicular cancer. He even produced a forged Harley street letter to this effect. Rise and fall

He has now resigned from Welwyn Hatfield council. Isn't that in the constituency of the "I'll sue!" bluffer Grant 1234 Shapps for whom talking corrosive bollocks has been the corner stone of his career?

Including a ridiculous campaign of personation and anonymous sock puppeting on behalf of the imposed candidate of David Cameron's Conservatives i.e. Tony Lit in the Ealing Southall by-election. That campaign was seriously technically flawed, despite Shapps's claims to be an IT security expert.

Grant was certainly enthusiastically backing young guns like Darren ahead of the poll. Meanwhile Darren was conning his bosses to get time off work. Grant's Forum users are disgusted of Welwyn Hatfield"

Whatever next? Perhaps we'll see Grant's defender Iain Dale claiming to be a "blogging expert"?

When Trots Fall Out: Osler on Livingstone, SWP, Respect

Dave Osler has caught Ken Livingstone omitting to include "Comrades: Sisters and Brothers" in his future scoping for London and the country in Friday's Guardian. Very New Labour?

Possibly. Perhaps just a soupcon of the post-industrial pragmatism required to get elected and maintain power and get things done. And he did of course score 20% more backing than New Labour.

A comrade by the name of "Lenin" claimed in the comments that the Left List's campaign (0.9%) suffered because of the various name changes of these revolutionaries. Whose fault is that exactly SWP?

"Lenin", or Doorak as he would be known back in the mother country, claimed that elsewhere in the country the LL has done better. My arse! In Manchester Rusholme Nahella. a hard working candidate slumped to well under half her 2006 vote having already tumbled - as Respect's sole candidate city-wide - in 2007.

Meanwhile our friends in the North - Respect Renewal - who had been forced to stand down in 2007, polled almost exactly the same 500 votes as in 2006. Through Dr Kay.

As to Ken and the absence of a Unions namecheck in his analysis? It is possible too much can be made of that.

Socialist Unity meanwhile had repeated another Trial by Jeory exclusive on the possible rationale - apart from pure hatred - for the Standard's campaign against Ken. They feared he would stop them sticking out the Metro. And the graphic's theirs also.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Lib Con: Gilligan is Gilliganed-Up Like Kipper

Over at Liberal Conspiracy Sunny Hundal has Gilliganed-up Gilligan like a kipper. And Gilligan's fighting back and protesting his innocence.

Key fact, facts fans, is that Silly Gilly works for Iranian State media, the very same that provided the reassuring tractor production news that cheered us up. Who'd have thought it? Actually working for homophobic misogynist terror supporters while calling Ken for being civil to similar.

What a disturbing level of hypocrisy the old PhD smearer lives with. Please don't hesitate to go over to Liberal Conspiracy and join in the fun.

PICTURE: Is it my imagination or is Cam looking more than a bit out of it as he hands 40 pieces of silver to Silly Gilly? Press Gazette.

Trial by Jeory: John Biggs Batters Boris Cronyism

You couldn't make it up! Boris Johnson has established an independent panel to clean the Augean Stables of City Hall and the London Development Agency of any and all cronyism ... and according to Biggsy ... they are at least 80% and a suspected 100% Tory Cronies!

Panel chair Patience Wheatcroft, a former editor of The Sunday Telegraph, is by her own admission a 'lifelong Tory,' he said.
"Panel member Edward Lister is a long-standing Tory councilor (in Wandsworth)," Biggs adds.
"Panel member Stephen Greenhalgh is a Tory councilor (Hammersmith & Fulham).
"Patrick Frederick is chair of the South East & Southern London Conservative Business Relations.

"I see no way in which the panel you have established could be described as 'independent'."
He also demanded to know whether Andrew Gordon, the panel's 'independent expert adviser,' had any political affiliation.
Mr Gordon is a senior investigator at PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants, where Cllr Greenhalgh was also formerly a partner.

Ted Jeory - who has in his hand a letter from Biggs to Johnson - reports inquiries too on how much these Tories are being paid and whether Mr Gordon is acting on a personal basis or on behalf of PriceWaterhouse.

"If PriceWaterhouse are acting, were they appointed by competitive tender?" Biggs is demanding.

"If not, why not? Is there a risk of abuse of public money in this exercise?"

BNP's Dick Barnpot: Feeling City Hall Cold Shoulder

Though sadly their boot boy blogster doesn't realise that Labour and Tories are united in seeing Dick as pariah. The BNP cite Tory Leader Richard Barnes and Labour Leader Len Duvall for 12 alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct. Though as far as I know it doesn't say one must spit on a fascist if they're on fire.

Basically the fear is that City Hall staff will not want to look after bristling Dick, and bristling Dick thinks that's not fair. Hat tip: Tory Troll.

Meanwhile the best Dale can do is to jeer at Ken for attending today's Assembly meeting. As one major purpose of it is to report on the previous year there seems little doubt that he'd have been accused of hiding if he had not been present. Boris should show his calibre and magnanimity by co-opting Ken to the team?!

After Constructive Dismissal?: Disappointment for Dale

Guto Harri has beaten Iain Dale to the job of Boris' Director of Comunications but Iain's found himself with a scoop as compensation. Guto's idea that Boris will be easier than the opposition in Zimbabwe is daft.

And LOL are disappointed that there is no place here for Darius Guppy. Black eyes and broken ribs? That's press handling that is.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

London: Brocket, Boris, Fast Cars and Loose Women

First Post are wondering about Boris Johnson's judgement. It seems he is considering an offer of assistance with his Transport Planning from the deeply dishonest toff Lord Brocket. When his collection of red Ferraris got into negative equity he dug a big hole and stashed several of them away to defraud his insurers. But life goes on as the 3rd Baronet reports:

"I had dinner with Boris a couple of weeks ago and we discussed a whole raft of ideas I have about improving the transport system," Brocket reveals in today’s Daily Telegraph. Johnson appeared to have been receptive to his ideas because he has now invited the disgraced peer to visit City Hall and amplify his thoughts. Says Brocket, who is, of course, an Old Etonian: "His people want me to come in and make a presentation on some issues."

Delightful! Perhaps we'll have Darius Guppy leading on Press Relations in the adjoining cell? And Tory Lord Conrad Black on City Regulation? And naturally Toffs' cars to be buried under central London parks.

Brocket may be more air kissing showbiz tart than noblesse oblige these days but he does come from a political family First Post reveal. His late father was a member of the pro-Nazi Anglo-German Fellowship in the 1930s and a few months before the outbreak of World War Two attended Adolf Hitler's 50th birthday in Berlin.

They make no suggestion that Boris's newest chum has such sympathies. Though perhaps his estranged first wife - who dobbed him in for the buried treasure - could assist the Post in clearing the matter up?

I'm not sure whether the father of another car lover with unfortunate associations was at Hitler's 50th too, though Hitler was certainly at Mad Max's dad's wedding in 1936. At Goebbel's Berlin home.

Meanwhile the automatons at the Standard are still on their mission to undermine the Mayor. A soul was never sold so cheap. Tory Troll also brings news that one of Boris' secret cabal - Planning Guru Simon Milton - was also part of Dame Shirley Porter's secret cabal. Anyone want to buy a used Council estate? Or a soiled red Ferrari?

It's all so incestuous this in-bred Tory Cronyism isn't it?

Dear Returning Officer: Check Leech John Bull Set

UPDATE Fri PM: Leech's weasely response has now come to light. No answers as such. More anon.

Dear Sir Howard

It has come my attention at home, as I was campaigning and/or working in other wards and constituencies, and through email reports from other areas that WPS Limited of 8, Gawsworth Avenue M20 5NF is taking credit for the printing of a vast amount of Liberal Democrat franchise campaign material.

Some believe that more material bears the imprint of this printer than for example Labour material produced by a professional printing works with a number of high volume four colour offset litho printing machines plus folding and finishing machines and so on, in a works stretching over some 3,000 square feet and staffed by a hard working team of professional and craft operatives.

That impression may or may not be correct. But it is certainly a very considerable volume of print.

WPS Limited, unlike Labour's supplier described above, appears to work out of a small back room at John Leech MP's offices near the borders of Stockport.

Perhaps the MP has allocated almost all the space and overheads and staffing to political printing operations and perhaps that is reflected in his expenses claims to Westminister? But that need not concern us now. We'll find out in due course when Mr Leech goes open book on all his financial arrangements.

While it increasingly common for political parties to have their own Riso machines and these have been a stalwart of Lib Dem campaigning for their smudgy and blurry Focus leaflets for a good long time Mr Leech's operation appears to be taking credit for material that could not be produced on such a set up.

I also don't believe it could be produced at all or at any rate economically on modern high volume laser printers. The material is four-colour, high volume, full bleed, with strong solids and screened images printed over 95% of the paper, is produced on fine gloss or blade coated papers, and in some cases has several folds.

It does not seem credible that it could be produced on a back room Riso set up or without experienced, time-served operatives.

Clearly WPS Limited could have another works and design studio somewhere else and merely use Gawsworth Avenue as an administrative address. If so I don't suppose, strictly speaking, they'd be breaking any election law with the current imprint. Even if they are being economical with the verité. You will know that better than I.

But would it not be the case that if it is sourced from another company or companies, even from another country, it really ought to carry an accurate imprint stating this?

Why am I concerned?

In General Terms:

1. The use of WPS Limited on imprints if these are not in fact the honest to goodness printers is dishonest and obscures the provenance of the material used by Leech's franchise, some of which is it seems tax payer funded and claims to be apolitical "parliamentary reports";

In Specific Terms:

2. The use of WPS Limited on imprints in such a way would insulate Mr John Leech MP and his franchise from criticism they have had in the past for using printers from very many miles from their constituency;

3. The use of WPS Limited on imprints in such a way could in fact even obscure the use of printers in different countries or even on different continents where printing can be extremely cheap.

"Print miles" however would be a huge issue for members of the electorate, particularly where Leech's franchise is appealing to Green supporters to switch, already risible given their staggering waste of paper and ink;

4. The use of WPS Limited on imprints in such a way could also fudge the question of how many leaflets of how many designs are produced in a particular campaign.

You may recall that there was some controversy in 2005 about the huge number of different leaflets delivered by Mr Leech and his franchise. Some voters recalled that the volume of leaflets was a key factor in their decision.

As I recall four or five printers from all parts of the UK appeared in the declaration of expenses though one activist counted 27 different pieces of print and Leech's campaign was I believe reported to the Electoral Commission on suspicion of over spending and mis-declaration, including believe it or not the fib that only £17 was spent on 'phones during the election period! They may still be pondering that one;

5. The use of WPS Limited on imprints in such a way would also allow a simplification of invoices with WPS able to "buy in" print and sell it on. This is becoming more and more common in the commercial world as print is out sourced from Germany or the Czech Republic or China.

But it seems to fly in the face of the transparency we seek from our candidates, parties and elected representatives. More so now than ever before. Making it surprising that any MP or franchise is moving in reverse on expenses transparency.

In fact in 2005 a Mr Qassim Afzal who was the Liberal Democrat candidate in Manchester Gorton used this model, submitting a single invoice from his own company for virtually all his expenses as I recall. Unlike Mr Leech, who was just a smidge inside the limit and had a very generous benefactor, Mr Afzal declared well inside the expenditure limit and was self funding. However this model appears to deliberately restrict transparency of expenditures;

I have received information that the WPS imprint has appeared on material delivered by local Lib Dem franchises in all five Manchester constituencies, in all three Salford constituencies, and also throughout Stockport. It may be that coverage is wider still.

Could you please respond to me at the address above on these concerns? In particular to reassure me that expenditure declarations including this printer will receive close scrutiny with any and all invoices for third party printers sought and produced and placed on the public record as the law requires.

I hope you will agree that if third party printers have been used their invoices should be appended to WPS summaries to support those vouchers?

It is now almost two weeks since I sent a fairly polite request to Mr Leech and his franchise for some answers on this matter but although he sent a receipt at 11:44 am that day I cannot seem to find any response.

Although I am a member and activist with the Labour Party I was not a candidate or agent in the most recent campaign and and writing as a concerned citizen and in a personal capacity.

I will copy this letter immediately by email to John Leech MP, to Cllr Simon Ashley leader of the Lib Dem franchise in the Town Hall, and later by post to the Electoral Commission. I have also published it on my web log.

Yours sincerely

Chris Paul
Manchester Resident

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Absolute Votes: Sheila Newman in Hall of Fame

Not only did Labour's Cllr Sheila Newman hammer John Leech's franchise candidate by 259 votes in my home ward of Chorlton but Sheila also gets into David Ottewell's county wide Hall of Fame.

Meanwhile Cllr John Leech MP still hasn't explained where he's getting his four colour process printing from as requested. We'll be interested to see Leech's franchise people's campaign expense declarations and how the ink blot allocates his office overhead.

And meanwhile I've yet to hear what's occurring on the question of the ex-Mayor Cllr Sandiford and his proxy voter plot.

TRIVIA: It may be that the all-time biggest Labour vote in a Manchester Local Government election c 3,500 was Tony Dale's 2001 by-election victory Whalley Range; agent-in-chief Yours Truly. Wind at our backs: General Election.

COBBLERS: Brown Down, Tractor Production "Best Ever"

Central Office Bobbins Blogging Enterprises (COBBLERS) carried the tragic story of Secretary Stalin's dip in the polls but missed the good news of a huge increase in tractor production in the north. Which fact really matters to workers of the world.
Meanwhile Czar Cameron's Conservative opposition are still pursuing a policy of having no policies whatsoever. "We've learned this over time" said Cam "When our policies of cutting vital services, undervalued and mishandled privatisations and making the rich richer become known we always drop through the floor in the polls. We're keeping schtum."

Lib Dem Confessional: Corrosive Weasel Words Are Us!

Go Martin Go! Obviously you're right about Labour's aspirations and Billy Bragg. And you're certainly right about the Lib Dem's collossal contribution to corrosion and cynicism:

... when we move into the realm of unsubstantiated allegation, weasel words, sly jibes, innuendo, and such like, then we contribute to the corrosive cloud of public distrust. It is unethical. It is destructive. And, what’s more, I believe it is counterproductive.

You'll not change it though, sorry Martin. It is there in the Lib Dem constitution. "All things to all people!" and "Weasel words are us!" it says, though it must be said it is naturally expressed in riddles.

Labour Home Survey: Grass Roots Advice to Mr Brown

Take this new Labour Home survey HERE.

Don't Trip Up: Was I Suggesting a Core Vote Strategy?

Writing at some length at Labour Home about the complexity of the supposed "swing" to the Tories and the need to do the business for fairness I am a little surprised for this to be described as a lumpen core vote strategy and linked with some worthy Wiseman wishes and thepowerlesslowpaid's slogans by one Stephen Farrington of Cardiff.

Someone incidentally who eschews "class politics" yet appears to believe that socio economic group C1 is "professional" rather than working class, never mind group B which actually includes teachers, midwives and many other public services workers. All kinds of white collar working people.

Here is the piece in full with a couple of typos corrected:

The sum of all changes in voter choice in limited local government elections, plus a much closer run thing in London, is clearly a swing from Labour to the Tories. But this simple sum hides a multitude of calculations.

There has been quite a lot of talk on blogs, in the mainstream media, and from politicians including Prince Charming Cameron of a shift in individual voters from Labour to Tory. But is this really what occured on Thursday?

In the valleys of South Wales the swing from Labour was to essentially Labour-ish Independents by those who would not vote Plaid, or Lib, or Tory and who will be back to vote Labour come the General Election as Hopi Sen pointed out the morning after the night before.

In other places we saw tactical Tories who have been voting Lib Dem to spite the "socialists" for as many as ten years going back to the Home of the Blues.

And in others perhaps an increase in the number of tactical Labourites who held their noses and voted for the Libs in the face of a Tory regrouping.

There were areas where Local Government Labour has not maintained the conversation with core voters sufficiently to prevent a stay-at-home or some dabbling in protest on national issues. Principally the 10p Tax Gaffe.

In those same areas and elsewhere Tory campaigns picked up and many slumbering voters were probably shaken awake after years of staying home.

And in Manchester in so far as there was a Tory revival beyond the usual minor swings on national issues this came in unexpected ways. In Cheetham Hill and Whalley Range the most extraordinary things happened.

Young Asian "Tories" leapfrogged from fifth to second in the former and fourth to third in the latter, quadrupling their party's votes. But these are not Tories. They pushed out bland (and yet quite ridiculous) Tory leaflets with one hand and a communalist message with the other.

These guys were standing not to give a particular community or political persuasion voice. Not a nation or even a province. This came down to harnessing votes from villages in a particular valley in North Punjab.

And even more exceptionally the campaign in both wards saw Tizb_ut-Tahrir leaflets also doing the rounds - the Stand Up for Islam ones showing Brown with Bush and claiming the Qu'ran is to be banned - and in Whalley Range these were distributed with a side order of threats by Tory campaigners.

That really is exceptional. Shameful that Cameron's party can't control such hotheaded tactics.

But all the other scenarios and calculations are pretty widespread surely? We probably don't have the detailed numbers in many wards to track what is happening. It is a good deal easier to tackle the sums that show in the bare results than to understand the workings. But working to deal with the superficial sum of Labour to Tory swing will not and cannot work.

The masturbatory triangulating "roundheads" of the party must now throw their hands up and stop playing games with themselves for the benefit of 8,000 or 80,000 key voters. The rot has now spread well beyond these, but it is not too late to turn things round.

As Fabian General Secretary Sunder Katwala has proposed here Labour simply need to get back to doing the right thing and being seen to be doing the right thing. In a unified way, which may well mean looking to pick agreements rather than picking fights.

In 1997 Blair swooped into Number 10 NOT on the basis of some nuclear physics level mathematics by swing voters but on a national feeling that it was time to flee from selfishness, harsh market economics, fat cats and me me me. And to bring public services back up to speed.

Ironically we're now getting to a point where the same flight from selfishness, harsh market economics, fat cats and me me me may appear to be a flight from Labour to the more hard-of-thinking commentators. Though I don't know why anyone would trust Charisma Boy not to slash the public services.

Good works in redistribution, poverty reduction, economic stability and growth have been achieved but these pesky triangulators have been advising that these be kept fairly quiet and essentially trying to find and press the selfish buttons of key voters.

While simultaneously pissing off layer upon layer of Labour's natural coalition of workers' interests.

Let this stop right now. Let's get back to really living the best of the soundbites. "For the many not the few" we say. But then as we introduce a minimum wage we also give the rich and super rich completely unnecessary tax breaks. To the extent that they become so rich and so greedy that they can yacht off to tax havens.

There is no need whatsoever for a change of leader. But as a party we do need to make sure Gordon Brown has an up-to-date map of the territory beneath our feet and that his compass is not deflected by alchemists and those masturbatory triangulators.

Their activities have rather inevitably made them go blind and weak at the knees.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Crewe and Nantwich: Tory Lived in Paper Bag in Road

It seems that the Tory candidate in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election is trying to trade on the fact that he "lived with 80 foster children" (Channel 4 News). "You were lucky!" seems to be the idea "I lived in a paper bag in a puddle in the middle of the road." The candidate was in fact the son of a house which welcomed short term foster kids. Trying to excuse Tory showboating on the 10p tax - under Tories of course, with Cam as a Treasury Advisor, it was 22p with no minimum wage, no minimum income guarantees, lower allowances and no step changes in pensions.

And despite the 10p Tax Gaffe there has been a very substantial distribution these last 11 years from the wealthiest to the lowest four deciles in particular.

Lib Dem Voice's Mark Pack made a ridiculous "Joke" about this man here - showing the blog standard level of Lib Dem humour, local fetishism and a very good standard of Dale-baiting - but if Cam's Chester Barrister is going to pretend to be Oliver! at the drop of the Artful Dodger's hat we'll be applauding Lib Dem honesty before the campaign is over.

Councillor Falstaff: Throwing Down the Outsize Gauntlet

When a Falstaffian figure of a man waddles up to the bar at a post-election celebration - for hammering Leech's candidate in Chorlton by 259 votes - and starts comparing beer bellies we know we've carried the "strengthening" campaign based on carbohydrate loading a little too far. When Cllr Falstaff reveals that he was in fact the Westmorland u13 Cross Country Champion the message is amplified. Looking forward to seeing Jim BattleFalstaff on the starting line of the Greater Manchester Run on Sunday 18 May and seeing which of us has the better muscle memory. It'll have to be under 45 minutes for the 10k to best even a lardy wobbling blogger.

Astonishment: Crikey There Goes Charles Clarke, Again

As sure as eggs is eggs Charles Clarke can be relied on to do his damndest to rain on Gordon's parade. So why is Iain Dale astonished when Charles does the deed, again. Has Iain been living on another planet this last couple of years? Or is he just laying everything on a bit THICK?

Deputy Mayors: Boris Johnson Will Have "Lots"

The appointment of the social entrepreneur, pastor and ex-young offenders Governor Ray Lewis as "a Deputy Mayor" (Telegraph, Pic Justin Sutcliffe) has caused a great hurrahing in some quarters, and not a little harumphing in others. Such as in comments on that previous link.

Not mind you about Ray's achievements or potential contribution. Though there will always be a debate about the segregation / separate development model whoever is practising it*. The CV provided by the Mayor's press office is a bit sketchy. But what there is of it looks grand (below).

When he was starting his Academy (2001/2) Ray's gut feeling about the Tories as confided to The New Statesman this year was as follows:

I couldn't stand the Conservatives. I thought they were all a bunch of greedy bastards.

Good stuff from an ordained pastor! Though IDS it seems turned him. Let's hope he's turned again by the Bullingdon posse.

So what's the controversy?

Well, although this experiment of Ray's is taking place in the Socialist Republic of Newham, aided and abetted by DfS funds passported through the LEA, FEFC and LSC funds inter alia there is an attempt to badge it otherwise.

Iain Dale's natural sectarianism I suppose, and I should talk!, whereas Cassilis explains that is is Johnson's and Cameron's and Blair's perceived non-sectarianism (apoliticalism?) vs Brown's alleged tribalism that appeals.

But isn't there but one Deputy Mayor in the usual scheme? Whether there is an attempt to pass it round between parties - with the Greens and Labour accepting - as in Ken's first term. Or whether it is held by co-idealogue as in Ken's second term.

Speaking to the press office I find that Boris Johnson is planning to appoint a good few of these "Deputy Mayors", essentially renaming the "Mayor's Advisor" positions of the old regime. There doesn't seem to be any clarity on how many of them there will be

But the title was compared by an insider to a Corporate Vice-President. There was a little further comment on the potential for confusion through using the same title as the Assembly position for say 20 such "Deputy Mayors"?

This brought the view that: "It won't be as many as that." Which is I suppose reminiscent of Clegg's evasion on the sexual profligacy question.

At the time of writing it is unclear whether these folk will attract salaries in the same six-figure ball park as their predecessors. And in Ray's specific case whether he will be leaving his work at the Eastside Young Leaders Academy. Here's the thumbnail CV:

Ray was born in Guyana in 1963 and attended schools in Walthamstow. He began his career working as an administrative officer for the Civil Service before becoming a Clerk in Holy Orders for the Church Commissioners in 1990. During this time he gained a degree in Theology & Pastoral Studies from Middlesex University.

After working at HM Prison Woodhill, Milton Keynes, Ray became Executive Director of Eastside Young Leaders' Academy in 2001. He is also a Trustee and Governor of the Petchey Academy in Hackney and a Justice of the Peace.

His motto is: "We see no shortage of young black males in the courtrooms, so my vision is to seek to prepare as many as possible for the boardrooms."

Ray is married to Pamela and they have three daughters aged between 16 and 21.

Other inspirational leaders to whom Cameron has cosied up include the doyens of the United Estates of Wythenshawe project - also supported by Tory-linked city charities - and his candidate in Whalley Range was, delightfully I'm sure, in cahoots with Hizb_ut-Tahrir.

* FASCIST REACTION: Here's Not for the faint-hearted.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Cassilis: The Great Literature Tag Game

Liam of the always interesting Cassilis blog has tagged me to perform the following:

Pick up the nearest book
Open to page 123
Find the fifth sentence
Post the next three sentences
Tag five people and acknowledge who tagged you

Just to mix things up a bit I'll stick strictly to the script and not reveal the name of my book.

And afterward they will not be helped. Ignominy shall be their portion wheresoever they are found save (where they grasp) a rope from God and a rope from men. They have incurred anger from their Lord, and wretchedness is laid upon them.

I have changed one word in the translation for an equivalent. There were no books on my desk when I opened the post.

If I had gone left I might have got the The Skeptical Environmentalist, 24 Hour Party People or British Hit Singles.

But as I went right I landed on this one, with near misses a Sarah Brown cookbook and The New Mother Syndrome. Both shelves being rather like one of those library trolleys of returned but not shelved books,

Let me see. Whom shall I tag then?

Rupa Huq, Will Parbury, John Hirst, Iain Dale, Fluxlist

The latter (a group of 100 or so artists etc) because this script reminds me of Fluxus happenings and their scripts.

School Choice: Dr Huq's School of Hard Knocks

Dr Huq has been selling her body of knowledge over at Harry's Place. Essentially reflecting parental anxiety over school places, sink school, free school dinners, and statemented kids.

What a media tart she is getting to be! Here's my comment:

Having met some of the Ealing massive and their rising 4s I understand the problem described here by school governor and former PPC "Rubina" Huq.

It just struck me as I listened to their plaints that getting together and piling into the so-called "sink" schools you were allocated under a transparently fair and fully advanced system would "turn them round" or at least raise their statistical performance.

When I asked whether these anxious parents had looked at the Ofsted reports for the allocated schools I found that they had not done so.

When I asked whether these anxious parents had checked the applicable distances last year for their target schools and chosen accordingly I found that they had not.

When I asked these anxious parents whether they had even used all three of their choices, never mind wisely, I found that some of them had not even done that. OMG! FGS!

When I asked these anxious parents whether they had chosen their addresses very carefully I found that some had moved very recently but ended up 200 metres too far away - 500 instead of 300 metres. Which is missing by a mile if you're that serious about such things.

And while some of the parents had actively sought work-rounds e.g. nan's addresses they were willing to start a campaign of outing parents who had found rellies willing to play along, or temporary rented accommodation or whatever it was.

We were right to oppose SATs - particularly when young kids are coached to within an inch of their young lives to keep the school economy healthy.

We should also make sure parents understand the purpose of value-added measurements and their superiority to absolutes for measuring schools.

And also the sheer stupidity of using the numbers of free school meals or statemented kids as measures of school genius levels.

In Finland they don't even go to "big school" until they are about 7 years old and they stay in the same school to 16 and they do very very well indeed.

No faith schools AFAIK, mixed education, no publically announced intermediate exam grades, every school a good school.

Parental choice IS a bit of a sham really. Other means of allocation need to be used unless they are LOADS of school places perceived as good enough for little dears and there have to be loads of surplus spaces or infinitely flexible intakes for this counsel of perfection to become reality.

This is ridiculous! This is unnecessary anxiety to the point of suicide! Kids are very durable and find their own level almost wherever they go to school.

There are some appalling instances of mistakes at my kids' schools but by and large they are winning more than they're losing and will do just fine. One of mine was put in completely the wrong science set for example and may miss doing two extra GCSEs as a result. One child was just moved UP into the A or A* set, having got an E, to make room for some B kids to move down.

The head of science should be taken to one side and taught Newton's laws. What goes up must come down being perhaps the best one for her particular case.

But I digress.

My kids are also I think more likely to make the subject choices they want in the NEAREST STATE SCHOOLS that they have always gone to than they would have done under some brain grading centre of excellence, independent, or vestigial state selective with less vocational options. Nonetheless they will have enough and good enough academics to change tack if they wish to.

First appeared as a comment at Harry's

Iain Dale IPM: The Great London Lefty Clearout Begins

Iain continues to recommend a scorched earth strategy towards all City Hall officers. My advice to officers there is: "Don't resign, help Boris help Londoners, or at least wait for Iain's silly wrongful dismissal to come along".

Pass go, collect £200,000. Or whatever.

Dale's Sour Grapes: No 94 - Bruce Anderson

Sour grapes connoisseur and arch exponent Iain Dale says Bruce Anderson's analysis of his treasonous former boss Boris Johnson must be crap. Because Bruce resigned from the Speccie when Boris gave his column to George Galloway. Or actually Iain Dale says - with either sour grapes or mendacity - that Bruce was sacked by Boris.

As some of us have pointed out if one must declare any runs ins (and indeed assists) from a subject then Andrew Gilligan should regularly declare his "familiarity breeds contempt" take on Ken, and his "Johnson saved me" eternal gratitude to Bor-eeece.

Recovering From Labour Day: Post on LabourHome

LOL have stuck a post up on LabourHome for the first time in twelve months. The "switch" from Labour to Tory reflects the sum of many small calculations but how many voters simply switched? Not a lot. Time to get back to Labour's core mission. Forget the Tories. And forget picking disagreements among ourselves. Let's start picking agreements. And catching Gordon doing things right.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Crewe and Nantwich: Labour Select Tamsin Dunwoody

Andrea posted the story last night at Labour Home. Watch this space for campaign details. Here's a Times piece on the family from 2004.

By the look of it variously aliased Grant 1234 Shapps and his sock puppets have been out in force at the local paper's website. Transparent and ugly tactics from the horrid nasties.

I would seriously suggest that that newspaper monitors and immediately publishes any strange patterns in IP Addresses and Pseudonyms. And also that Wikipedia are zapped an image of Moyra Tamsin immediately.

CAPTION: It was tremendously generous of Tamsin's grandad Morgan Philips to lend the family slogan to the party and Clem Attlee in particular. Tory ne'er-do-wells will find it anyway ...

So Weak: Dale Meets Gordon's 128th Ancester

Desperate times for temporarily triumphant tory tossery call for desperate measures. Iain Dale has been tipped off on the occupation of one of Gordon Brown's predecessors - 128th of the bloodline - who was a local Merchant Grocer.

Genealogist Dale, of bovine farmer stock himself, thinks this will save Dave from future accusations of being a flim flam snake oil salesman with no policy clothes on him whatsoever. Pah-bloody-thetic!

UPDATE: Dale did get something right yesterday and, like a dog walking on its hind legs, this does need to be acknowledged. Iain correctly guessed the number of goals to be scored at Old Trafford. Though not quite their distribution between the parties. Partisan chump: 0-5 to the Hammers. Actuality: hammered 4-1.