Saturday, October 27, 2007

Libdemologists Leader: 28:10, 9 Schtum, 16 Dunno

With nominations in for just two candidates and hustings underway only thirty-eight Lib Dems expressed a preference. Not including Man-Witter Cllr John Leech MP who presumably either forgot what day it was or is still too scared to commit in case it interfered with his career as a Mimicster.

The first hustings took place in Rugby. Ah, happy memories. Ish. Some rather famous school playing fields there hosted the Universities cricket final in 1981 or so. Your blogger was scorer for Manchester with Durham the opposition.

Our captain/opening bat Paul Dolphin (front, second from right) and four or five other team members were detained by police, helping calibrate a speed gun, en route from Cambridge where we were "on tour". The season had been wrecked by rain and had overrun.

Durham "kindly" put us in to bat. Our three and four that was. Sometimes it doesn't rain but it pours.

Lancashire U19s Phil Royle opened with DKS Beckett who was a full Lancashire player specialising in the one day game. In fact man of the match in the Roses One Dayer that very year I think with 2-28 and a rapid 30.

Both were quickly out and a strong bowling attack, including one Simon Hughes (no relation) and a Rugby School OB called Jake, who chatted up the umpires like he was their long lost son, quickly skittled another couple.

On the last ball before lunch our left-handed bat Paul Wolff prodded a Jake ball towards leg slip bouncing, we thought, just short of waiting hands. But Hughes claimed the catch theatrically and the umpire raised his finger.

Our stump splitting fast bowler and diplomat's son Abu Rahman smashed a few runs in good time after lunch. But our team were all out for around 115 as I recall.

Durham's opener was Worcestershire and England man Tim Curtis and he patiently, very slowly in fact, amassed the runs losing a couple of partners. Sometimes it doesn't rain but it pours. Sometimes it doesn't rain but there are alas only occasional showers.

Manchester would have won under the Duckworth Lewis method (D/L) at any point until the last run was scored. But sadly the rain held off. Runners up medals. In 1979 rain and D/L had I think helped us win the final. So it goes.

Beyond Muffingate: Headstart and Double Helping

We've covered the rather tedious Muffingate saga before of course when there was a falling out among A List Bloggers over who was in fact at the head of the queue for even the most quotidien of morsels. But we're shocked, amazed and amused that all of them - every one of them - have missed a story in which MPs are almost literally* throwing their weight about ahead of the real workers.

Over to Carol Prestidge, OHSWS Office Manager as she shamelessly drums up support for this travesty: "I thought I would take this opportunity" she begins before revealing that MPs will not only get an hour's start but will also be entitled to double helpings.

Ben Bradshaw MP (pictured below) is among those making his own arrangements to avoid running a gauntlet of heavy weight researchers, secretaries and caseworkers still sore over Muffingate.

* Not literally, this "is not a formal part" of the new priority programme for MPs.

Friday, October 26, 2007

MPs Expenses: Is Standardisation the Way Forward?

With a pestilent, persistent and puny stalker gracing every post's comments box with silliness it is a real pleasure to have some real quality visiting and commenting too. Ex-Campaign Group MP Harry Barnes certainly falls into that category with a response to the annual ritual of vilification of MPs expenses:

The areas covered by MPs expenses are, in general, justified. The problems of the present system are (a) that it is open to abuses as well as to essential uses and (b) it is easy for the media to misinterpret what it is about.
On the issue of employing Staff, there is a clear alternative. Each MP should be entitled to employ up to a given quantity of Staff (or Staff time). Those they appoint should hold minimum relevant qualifications. They should then enter an appropriate spot on the salary scale and move into a system involving annual increments. The whole of the financial arrangements (under clear rules) should be operated by the Commons and not as an expenses system for MPs. It is possible to operate other provisions on the same basis - such as the hiring of Constituency Offices and the supply of Office Equipment. The latter is already done with Parliamentary PCs.
MPs would thus draw down from a list of available facilities, but would not be called on to otherwise act as accountants and then have to submit appropriate income tax returns on these matters.
These type of arrangements would cut out the two basic problems I started from.

These are good suggestions I think. Similar to my thoughts on limits by items not cost on election print, and also the "producer" for the leaflets.

Though these are aimed at real problems of fiddling the accountancy whereas the main effects of standardising an MP's staff are in impression management and in helping standardise the service offered.

Less of a postcode lottery on MP's effort and staffing!

Having said that Guido Fawkes - who is coming back to form I think - had an interesting post today about an MP name of Philip Hollobone (Con, Kettering) who claims next to nothing staff-wise and does everything himself. Should that MP be forced to have a staff? Is he really doing a brilliant job? Or just blessed with a humungous majority and constituents who "sleep through" four years at a time and are not bothersome?

Quite a contrast with Sarah Teather who justified her exploitation of bondslaves interns by admitting that even with four staff she is letting the people of Brent down and not delivering on her forky tongued election promises.

UPDATE: See comments. Hollobone is in fact blessed with a tiddly notional majority after boundary changes. He must be hoping that his ruse of saving national tax payers cash by cutting services to his constituents will go down well and that he will be seen as a mighty conquering hero rather than a know-all maverick loner. Ms Teather will just be a Let Down and you can quote her on that.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind: Repatriate Tory Trolling Fleet!

"The one that got away was this big I tell you". Euro-phobes are tearing themselves to bits over at Conservative Home over his remarks in an upcoming Spectator piece. Apparently Brown is planning to make Cameron look like an arse over Europe. Hat tip: Tom Watson who nearly wet himself when he read it.

Vice President Cheney: Hey Guys, Relax, Where's the Fire?

Vice President Cheney falls asleep on Bush's watch? Hey, kick off your shoes! Stop and smell the rose garden! Catch 40 winks during cabinet! Where's the fire?!

The remarkable thing is not some good old boy getting caught on video nodding off but that when the kindly camera pans away to spare his blushes it remains transparently obvious from the staring, nay eye-popping faces of Bush and their cabinet colleagues then he has not woken up and not smelt the coffee.

We had three old blokes nodding off in a Co-op Party area council earlier this month. No camera caught the inaction. But then again they weren't second in command of the Starship Earth. Probably just as well. Hat tip: Westmonster.

Recycling in Action: Dale Caught Fencing Stolen Images

"Hello, hello, hello. What's all this then?" Is it: "Bang to rights officer. I'll come quietly." Sadly no. Having been rumbled coming late to the party with a Cllr Kerron Cross story, he's only 'ad it away with this one from Recess Monkey!

Both these blogs are in what used to be called his "Daily Reads", now renamed "Favourites". And in time honoured tradition Dale claimed he hadn't read these blogs - for several weeks in the case of our favourite parliamentary primate - and to have got it off a man down the pub received the story in an email. "I never knew if was hooky officer! Honest guv! Don't you know who I am?"

In a controlled though not especially scientific experiment earlier this week Labour of Love carefully selected a Dale-come-lately story, with no attribution for his source whatsoever, instead linking directly to an exclusive story from the Italian uber blogger and comedian Beppe Grillo.

This story had already got almost 100 Technorati citations over just an hour or so short of three days (it was I think published at 2:33pm local time, 12:33 pm our time? on 21/11). It now stands at 150. Incidentally in comments at his post Mr Dale claimed the story had only been up for "two days" before his story, published at 11:34 pm on 24/11. Classic bad arithmetic.

Not wanting to cut off the flow of hits to the original story I did not run a long quotation that could act as a spoiler as Iain did, but just a link and what I thought would be some intriguing information about the blogger and his rather progressive comment policy.

And despite knowing about all the previous links I wilfully followed Iain's example, linking only to Beppe's original and not to one of a score of English language blogs who had caught the wave before Iain and myself.

Predictably enough the very first comment after I published my post was from one of Mr Dale's sock puppets "Father Ted" accusing me, (ME!) of running the post without a hat tip to Iain Dale. I laughed out loud. Really, I did.

Searching Mr Dale's blogroll one finds that Beppe Grillo is not there. And searching Mr Dale's archive one finds that this is the very first mention for Mr Grillo. And also that silly "two days" claim.

The same goes for mine before you ask.

So, where did Iain find the story? Was this a genuine albeit very late Dale discovery? Perhaps it was. But as Iain is building up such a track record for not acknowledging sources few serious people can believe him when he claims self-righteously and at very great length that all is "tickety boo officer".

Dale and Bagshawe: Blagging Thrashy Fantasy Fiction?

Iain Dale's long awaited fortnightly Daily Telegraph piece reckons that the selection of either Clogger Clegg or Buff Huhne - both Tories in all but name as far as he's concerned - would be good news for his party even if they don't immediately join. Ho ho ho.

Meanwhile at Conservative Home Louise Bagshawe flirts with Field, Hoey and Stuart with some drivel about big tents and visceral contempt for defectors. Hee hee hee.

What is the world coming to? But if it cannot be Cllr John Cumming MP do let it be Cleggie. We'll see how good that one is for the Tories!

Mr Dale is a popular Tory "blagger". Ms Bagshawe writes thrashy fantasy fiction.

MPs Expenses: Let the Screaming from Journalists Begin

Although the papers will no doubt make a huge fuss about MP's "tax free expenses" with screams of "snouts in the trough" - a ridiculous allusion that Labour of Love would never pander to - the bulk of these sums is generally spent to employ hard-working and typically rather underpaid staff.

Far more interesting than the total pay is where these staff are not hard working, not competent, not underpaid. And/or where they are wives, hubbies, girlfs and boyfs, masters and mistresses, sponsored candidates, or simply bloody useless.

Of course they get paid! Except that is when they are slave-interns. Which is an altogether more scandalous story.

The most interesting thing about this excel spreadsheet download for the Lib Dems (courtesy of Lib Dem Voice) is that although arch fibber Simon Hughes MP is among the lowest at £123,125 ... he appears to have had double helpings!

Those controversial housing allowances appear in column one, but no sign of sponsored travel or of the cost of parliamentary reports - some of which, like Cllr John Leech MPs in 2005 and even more so 2006 appear to be brochures for local election candidates paid for by the tax payer. Which is not allowed.

The whole Commons claim can be accessed here and the Lords right here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Libdemologists in North East: Phone Etiquette Problems

Lovely story from Fair Deal Phil of shenanigans from the Lib Dems in the North East. The cartoon is from the Newcastle Journal who also print a full transcript of the "cunning plan".

This follows the Cleggies spraying SPAM all over t'interweb.

Tony Clarke Non-Story: Ex-MP "Sacked by Text" a Bit Ago

It has been a slow news day. Labour Home now have blank faces on this so here's Mike Rouse but even after reading all that it's not easy to follow and is I think being misreported and confused, but I'll not name names.

Here's my best guess at what's up. I stand by to be corrected. In comments please.

Clarke's Wiki is a bit more helpful. Clarke was a surprise winner in Northampton South in 1997 and defended adequately in 2001. In 2005 however he lost by a fair old margin. The Tories having switched their candidate.

He has since been a Councillor but - presumably after being "sacked by text" from a panel of candidates for PPC or indeed for a council seat (I'm guessing a bit here) in some deselection carve up and then he stood successfully as an independent - he was thrown out of the Labour Party in May 2007.

His majority as an independent ward councillor at 600+ is almost as great as his first parliamentary majority! No idea whether he's planning to stand for parliament as an independent. Perhaps that's it?

Clarke's major claim to fame was being an anti-war MP who found a Bush-Blair memo leaked in his direction and gave it to the police instead of to the press as some - including the soon sacked leaker - might have expected.

The MP for Northampton North is one Sally Keeble - not apparently Clarke's best mate despite or because of the proximity - who was Clare Short's junior at DFID at the time the Iraq War broke out in March 2003.

She was unlucky enough to be in Manchester for a meeting with NGOs and LP members on the evening after shock and awe. Having spent much of the day at three or four different anti-war protests I attended that meeting and was so clear in my denunciation of the war and the ridiculous claims of WMDs and then of her thin but on message answers that Ms Keeble literally ran for it.

She rushed for "the last train" about 30 minutes sooner than she needed to. She didn't last long in that job, though I do believe she's back in business.

The only story really seems to be that Labour Home foolishly killed the comments on a discussion about the seat after a local rag picked it up. The first time ever they say. And obviously shutting door after horse had bolted. They're supposed to be back up but they're not. Mike Rouse has the lot in a PDF. But I really cannot be bothered to read them.

It is clear that no MP has been sacked by text. That no-one has been "sacked" at all in any normal sense of the word. That there is a conspicuous lack of clarity on dates and sequence of events.

All in all this is a confused, sub-parochial non story that has kept some Tory bloggers off the streets for a bit.

Libdemologist Leadership: Leech Cards Close to Chest

Apparently half a dozen nine of the most prominent Libdemologist MPs are not going to express a preference in the chalk cheese and cheese contest between the spaced out student pharmacologist Chris Huhne and the spaced out teenage twisted fire starter Nick Clegg for the leadership of the party.

This feeling of being too important to declare for either candidate cannot be what's stopping Cllr John Leech MP. Fresh from a hysterical and meaningless 10-second speech in the House he must be lying down in a darkened room, manically sharpening his little pencil and deciding how to spin this "trimuph" gloriously in his next press release and Hocus Pocus leaflet.

Or are we due another party political campaigning parliamentary report? No, that'll be in April bigging up a previously unheard of community activist or three at the tax payers' expense. Silly me.

In an exciting backstory John Leech pretended to be ultra loyal to Charles Kennedy while sticking in a word for Huhne Clegg. Then when the time came he backed Clegg Huhne. Now that they'll both outed as identikit economic liberals, coveted by the Conservative party, presumably lefty Leech will opt for fellow two-jobber Cllr John Hemming MP?

LIB DEM VOICE: How the MPs are lining up.
UPDATE from LIB DEM VOICE: Here, with Leech the last of the actively nominating Huhnites from last time to make their minds up. Perhaps Hemming is going to run after all?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Swing Low Sweet Chariot?: I Predict a Riot

In the course of his ramblings the South African ex-pat lawyer Marcel Berlins suggests in today's Guardian that he was present back in 1988 when an England international Rugby Union crowd burst into Swing Low Sweet Chariot.

Marcel claims that :

(a) this was the first time this song had been sung at such an event;
(b) this was in honour of Chris Oti who had scored three tries against Ireland;
(c) this was initiated for "racist reasons", as Chris Oti is black and the song is of course a negro spiritual

As he is a legal eagle, an ostentatious consumer of the fine arts, and a first hand scholar of apartheid and was actually at the game you might think he is a good judge on such matters.

But I was amazed by two of the three assertions. While (b) may well be correct I suppose. After all Oti scored three of the six second half tries for the Brits and that day Ireland were mullered.

But (a) seems absolutely wrong to me. This song has been sung around Rugby for at least 60 and possibly 100 years. In the wild it is spotted on buses to and from games, in rugby clubs and yes, even on touchlines and in grandstands. Could this really have been the first time at an international?

Well, Marcel has backers here (wiki), here (everyhit) and here (RU fan site) though the latter is a little sceptical.

For myself, I predict a riot of letters over coming days, perhaps weeks, with earlier and earlier sightings of the song.

The idea of (c) that this was racist, albeit a "racist tribute", is utterly wrong, idiotic and indefensible.

When I was at University and much involved in sports we had a brilliant young player name of Francis Emeruwa (then a London Wasp star and later founder of the Nigerians RUFC) who played for England at most age groups and levels. Did our players and supporters only start singing Swing Low Sweet Chariot when Emmy arrived?

I'm looking forward to seeing his captain Graeme Buchan and team mate and white South African Rob Udwin at the XXI Club 75th Annual Dinner in Manchester on 10 November 2007. I'll ask. But it's a no. Meanwhile watch that Guardian letters page.

Beppo Grillo: Prodi/Levi Tax Italian Blogs Off Net?

Beppe Grillo is a kind of Billy Connolly character. A beardy Italian comedian - perhaps the Italian comedian - with a revolutionary and libertarian outlook. And like Connolly he mostly works live in theatre and arena shows, with the odd one getting televised.

Beppe runs a tight ship at his popular blog with strict but voluntarily maintained protocols for comments:

Beppe Grillo's Blog is an open space for you to use so that we can come face to face directly. As your comment is published immediately, there's no time for filters to check it out. Thus the Blog's usefulness depends on your cooperation and it makes you the only ones responsible for the content and the resulting outcomes.

Information to be read before using Beppe Grillo's Blog

The following are not allowed:
1. messages without the email address of the sender
2. anonymous messages
3. advertising messages
4. messages containing offensive language
5. messages containing obscene language
6. messages with racist or sexist content
7. messages with content that constitutes a violation of Italian Law (incitement to commit a crime, to violence, libel etc.)

However, the owner of the Blog can delete messages at any moment and for any reason.
The owner of the Blog cannot be held responsible for any messages that may damage the rights of third parties Maximum comment length is 2,000 characters.
If you have any doubts read "How to use the blog".

But he is rightly outraged by a proposal to regulate, tax and burden bloggers. Few could survive. Beppo says he will move lock, stock and barrel if the law is passed.

Howard Facts: Don't Build Them Like This Any More

Sadly the Website Howard Facts is politically neutral, just telling it like it is Howard-wise, which is a shame as the Australian Labour Party could do with talent like this on side. Hat tip: Tom Watson.

Meanwhile Iain Dale is linking to this "how it's done" video (YouTube), also assisting the Labour cause. Which is very kind of him.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dale: Suggesting Scottishness = "Pathetic Smear"

Blogger David Lindsay, who is in the process of forming a new party to break the mould etc etc, has ceremoniously removed Iain Dale from his blogroll. This follows a spat over the Scottishness of Dave-id Cameron who maintains homes on his ancestral trampling ground of the Isle of Jura as well as in London and in his Witney constituency.

Mr Dale apparently described the mere suggestion of Cameron's Scottishness as "a pathetic smear" which seems like backhanded racism.

"Iain" as in Iain Dale is clearly either Scottish or an affectation and nod to the shortbread tartan clans. Can you get more Scottish than Kelvin MacKenzie? asked someone referring to the Scots baiting racist Sun columnist. Well yes, Kelvin Calder MacKenzie would be one way to do it. Wouldn't it?

Iain Campbell Dale would be another. And David William Donald Cameron ain't bad for a Slough Comp cockney made good.

Lisbon Report: One Thing, Lib Dems Rattle Battle

The one loose end being that Leader of the Lib Dems, Vince Cable claims there must be a referendum while Tweedledum MEP (rtd) and Tweedledee MEP (rtd) say that that is absolutely unnecessary.

Perhaps Vince should run after all? He can be the scarey black crow of liberty.

"Tweedledum & Tweedledee
agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
had spoiled his nice new rattle.

Just then flew down a monstrous crow;
as black as a tar barrel,
Which frightened both the heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel."

As a Lib Dem VC can have a different view on every doorstep. So changing his mind from day to day or week to week should be fine. Surely as leader he must expect his senior colleagues to follow his line? Or take the whip to them?

Lisbon Report: Looks Like Gordon 5 Dave 0

Being busy during the Gordon/Dave-id "showdown" on Europe yesterday I've had to read it today. I must say that on the substance rather than the yahboo Gordon seems to have won the thing hands down.

Despite what the witterati in the Tory blogosphere have wittered. There was however one loose end I thought ...

For Train Spotters: Graham Stringer Rails on Rail Bias

Yesterday Graham Stringer MP (Manchester, Blackley) received a written answer to this question:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many new rail vehicles for (a) inter-city services, (b) commuter services in London and (c) local regional rail services were procured in each of the last 10 years.

From Tom Harris (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport):

The number of vehicles procured for (a) is around 1,200 vehicles, (b) around 3,400 vehicles, (c) around 600 vehicles.

This "holding answer" means that London commuting on local regional services had almost twice as many vehicles procured as Inter City services - also used by London commuters - and local regional services in the rest of UK combined.

When Mr Harris drills down into the overall results and identifies the new vehicles among these totals, as opposed to hand-me-downs and retreads and produces year by year tallies too it may well be that the continuing or even growing London-centricity of investment in passenger transport is shown.

Manchester is fairly good at using passenger transport, second only to London as I recall, but imagine the uplift in use with a proper proportionate investment in our trains, buses and trams.

World Cup Rugby: Shameful Passing Off Scam

Oh dear, oh dear, oh Dale. Iain confesses to knowing or caring little about Rugby Union in his recent piece of advertorial. This is a remarkable attempt to cash in on the 2007 World Cup Final by selling signed caricatures of England's fly half Jonny Wilkinson.

There are a few problems with the art. The resemblance is only slight. JW is kicking with his right foot - not something he does much these days. The ball is not in frame. The kit is unrecognisable from Saturday's World Cup Final.

Turns out that blogger's blogger Iain Dale really is dredging the depths. He is party to a deception under which remaindered 2003 prints are sold at a supercharged £150 (inc VAT) as if they relate to Jonny's recent final appearance.

Oh dear oh dear oh Dale. Hat tip: Miles Barter.

Mexican Wave: Troops Out Policy Like a Yo Yo

Our man in Mexico is behaving a bit like a Libdemologist, no offence Ken, slamming Poland's new "right wing" regime for leaving Iraq at the USA's mercy by withdrawing swiftly, having just called for British troops out as soon as possible to prevent them being at the USA's beck and call!
Our Manc in Mexico also points to this Gulf News item about Blackwater rats of war leaving at an average of 100 per day.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sir George Gideon Oliver Osborne MP: Liar or Fool?

George Gideon Oliver Osborne's Wiki Entry is full of loose ends and adverse information. Allegations of cocaine use, disgraceful insulting use of the term "autistic", Bullingdon Club membership, outright lies about a White House meeting, and repeated 80 and 90% mendacity scores on Channel 4's Factcheck* feature are among them.

Unfortunately his latest piece of utterly inaccurate cobblers, as told to the Manchester Evening News (Today's City Edition p21) is not showing up on the website. But as a servant of truth and justice I'll patiently and faithfully re-key it:

[Headline]Families 'hit by tax bill of £50 a week'[/headline]

POORER families and struggling small businesses in Greater Manchester have been 'clobbered' by government tax rises, says shadow chancellor George Osborne.
He claims the tax bill for an average Manchester family will rise by £50 a week after Alistair Darling's recent tax rises.
Mr Osborne said the chancellor was 'out of his depth'.
The Tatton MP, shadow minister for Manchester, told the M.E.N. that the city would be particularly hard hit by Labour's 'wrongheaded' tax plans.
Mr Osborne said: "Hard working people across Manchester who save through their companies' share ownership could lose out as a result of Labour's latest tax rises.
"As usual, there wasn't a word of warning about this in the chancellor's pre-budget report but the average tax bill for a Manchester family will rise by £2,600 a year for the next five years."
He said Conservatives were committed to increasing the inheritance tax threshold sounding the death knell to death taxes, and lifting nine out of 10 first time buyers out of the stamp duty net."

There you go Mr McGOO, a verbatim re-typing of your arrant nonsense. If Conservative Central HQ or Cllr Iain Lindley of Salford would now explain how the average family in Manchester is 5 pence never mind £50 worse off a week than before Alistair Darling's speech I will also print that explanation verbatim.

In answer to my own question: as GOO is a Magdalen College scholarship boy we have to assume he is not a fool, he is repeating such things over and over again despite corrections so we cannot conclude he is mistaken, which leaves just one explanation.

Most of us these days don't give a monkeys whether George Osborne snorted cocaine with vice girls - an accusation he strenuously if not entirely convincingly denies - but we do care about his runaway addiction to MENDACITY.

Reading Postcards from the edge, more so than watching the film perhaps, shows us how these vices - cocaine and mendacity, or "talking shit" - are linked.

Obviously George issues mangled denials on the former - and who cares - but he seems to be in dire need of a 12-Step-Programme to conquer his appalling predeliction for, nay addiction to fibbery.

* As we revealed here Channel 4's excellent factcheck service found that Tory positioning on Labour's tax regime was 90% mendacious while on the likes of IHT and non doms their own plans were a mere 60% mendacious.

Dale's Diary: One of the Emptiest Days on Record

What a series of non stories Mr Dale has today. Day eight (33 to go) of a dire Aussie campaign diary. Some tosh about Chris Huhne and drugs. A link to Guido stating the obvious about the Indy that we had yesterday and on which Mr Dale had already snaffled The Spectator's traffic.

Some twaddle about schools with the unjustified pay off "Typical socialist economics of the mad house". Pompous self-serving twaddle about a slip of the tongue in the Lords being corrected - unlike his own frequent errors - as if at his own right royal command. Repetitive tosh about the Treaty.

Some ignorant tosh and twaddle about anonymous comments and libel. Where he seems to applaud football clubs and their legal eagles doing a bit of a Usmanov.

Obesity Averted: But Fat Letters from Schools?

For a few short days last week your correspondent exceeded the self imposed 15 stone limit for health and happiness. Not exactly obese at 6 feet one and a quarter, but hardly four minute miling territory either.

But worry not. Thanks to robust early intervention half a stone has been shed in just a few days. Now only three stone to go to get to a proper racing weight for an old chap. Regular reports may ensue. "Bar" charts and "pie" charts too perhaps?

Is there a blogger weight widget?

Anyway, according to the preamble for the News 24 item about Scottish Schools trialling healthy free meals, chips every day but battered Mars bars on Fridays only, headteachers may start sending letters home stating: "Your kid's a bit fat".

No mention of:
"Your kid's a bit thin", "Your kid's a bit spotty", "Your kid's a speccie four eyes", "Your kid smells of wee", or "Your kid's a ginger nut". This can only be a matter of time. Meanwhile Tory Michael Gove will continue to renounce this nannying of schools and scholars while insisting ties and blazers are worn at all times. Caps too for 'one bugs' presumably?

Meanwhile the children at St Michael's School in Dumbarton - featured in the N24 item showed signs of neither malnourishment nor over indulgence. Few of the kids wandering about Manchester do either. Where are all these fat kids we're always hearing about?

Perhaps, and I'm serious here, it's time to redraw some of these nutrition, RDA, BMI and other charts drawn up by skeletons who'd "never had it so good"?

George Galloway: Running a Witch Hunt in Respect?

Apparently Tower Hamlets Respect has 489 members. Just 7% of them are also Socialist Workers Party members. About 34 of them. Yet it looks like they had almost 50% of the votes at a recent Respect EC. And apparently 57% or seven of twelve delegates to their ever-so-important National Conference too.

So SWP-ers had a third of their tiny membership in the EC and 20% dominating the Respect delegation. Fortunately Gorgeous George knows a carve up when he sees one. And like a guiding steward of democracy and enlightenment he and his handful of reactionary allies - perhaps representing a tendancy with even less adherents - are shining a light on these seedy affairs and sticking through their own slate instead!

Yes reader! I know you'll want to read more of all this amusing chicanery. Harry's Place has more of this if you can bear it.

I suppose this puts George in the place of Neil. Driving out entryists and undesirable revolutionaries to make the way for a New Order?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Kerron Cross: Dobbing in a Labour/Cooperative MP

For asking a question about school students learning bridge versus gambling. What's he up to? Cllr Kerron I mean. Drew is clearly barking.

Guido Fawkes: Has Spotted Something About the Indy

Like Libdemologists they are changeable, undecided, erratic.

Andrew Pelling MP: No Charges, Still Problem for Tories

In what may well be a he said/she said stand off the CPS have decided not to try to convict Andrew Pelling MP. He is therefore legally innocent of assaulting his wife. The Tories have to decide what to do with him, and he is also considered a defection risk. Interesting exchange of comments at Conservative Home.

Mexico Exile Blog: Right Smear Right, Right Smear Left

A Mancunian in Mexico writes Exile Blog which provides an unusual combination of blog-ola, anti-imperialism and bad language. Mostly about the formerly celebrated blogger Oliver Kamm.

Recent posts include this link to Anti War who expose an attempt by the US Right to slander anti-war activists including the interesting character known as Congressman Ron Paul (Republican, Texas). Anti-war, conservative, libertarian, pro-life, pro-gun, small-state, no tax rises, anti-immigrant, anti-UN. Beloved of Stormfront (neo-Nazis) too.

Actually he is very much part of the US Right himself.

I've no idea whether there is any connection but the Conservative Home bubble Britain and America has run a story or two showing Americans who make George Galloway look reasonable, loveable or in their own word "moderate". Surely this is libel George? Go get 'em!

Unsurprisingly in five years of anti-war and anti-Bush demos in Cali-forn-i-ay there are a few issues.

Some offensive posters, a spot of nudity, some anti-zionist material that is arguably anti-semite and even a Bush or two burnt in effigy.

But can any of these really be compared for harm with America's military adventures? Bombs and planes break my bones but names can never hurt me?

AC John Yates: More Sad Moby Dickery, Wail Ahoy!

No sooner than I make such a scurrilous allegation about Paul Rowen and his Rochdale cronies than I find him proving me right in the same paper. Yates of the Yard to put record straight on cash for honours they say. What was supposed to be a private hearing is to be in public and the loser Yates is expected to try at least to spill his collected bile. Egged on by the likes of Rowen who stands to lose his seat on current polls and particularly with the shift to the right of a Clegg, Huhne or Hemmings succession.

Looks like Rowen's man David Hennigan has got a line into the Indie which as Iain Dale spotted is a bit of a comic.

As if to prove they're up for any old Lib Dem nonsense they also have Norman Baker's latest fantasy. On the death of David Kelly. Perhaps not an expert in diplomacy Dr Kelly's brother in law is Michael Pape:

"It is just raking over old bones," said Mr Pape, who is married to Dr Kelly's sister, Sarah, a plastic surgeon. "I can't speak for the whole family, but I've read it all [Baker's theories], every word, and I don't believe it.

PAINTINGS: Moby Dick (George Klauba) and Quixote/Panza (Octavio Ocampo).

Independent on Sunday: On Ming's Last Supper at Helm

Ming's last supper as spiritual leader of Libdemology was with some of the naughtiest in the political business - Rochdale Lib Dems. Poor sod.

Lewis Hamilton: What an Extraordinary Race in Sao Paulo

Second on the grid. Back to fourth after turn one. Seventh or eighth after turn three. Down to 18th following a strange mechanical interruption. And battled back to eighth and only around ten seconds off where he needs to be to win the championships. Another pit stop. Fourteen laps to work a miracle.

Can't help thinking Alonso is to blame for all this. We'll probably find out in the fullness of time that he picked Hamilton the rookie as his team mate thinking it would give him a clear run. How wrong can you be?

Hamilton has just set a fastest lap. But he's still in eighth. Needs to be fifth. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone gave an interview saying he wanted Alonso to win the championship. But that's not about to happen either. Alonso is a complete and utter disgrace.

Hamilton up to seventh. Seven laps to go. He is unlikely to gain another place on the track. But it is not unlikely that one or other of the six in front of him will retire over mechanicals. In which case HE WILL STILL WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP.

But no-one does falter. Raikkonen it is. For Finland and Ferrari.

Europe: A Democratic Social and Con-Federal Europe?

Harry Barnes makes a clear argument for having a referendum and for voting yes in it. Bob Piper meanwhile wonders at the duplicity and triplicity of the Tories who are now calling for a referendum, having always opposed the same opportunity on far greater changes.

I would agree that referenda on all these things would be desirable and I may differ from Harry and Bob in thinking it should have been yes, yes, yes, and now yes. Though I think they're yes men now? Harry certainly is.

But I also differ I think in feeling that while desirable this is not politically necessary or, to be blunt, worth the risk.

Because these disgraceful Tories have denied the country plebiscites in the past if we were to have one now it would clearly NOT be confined in scope in the voters' minds to this amending treaty.

It would not be YES, taken together the changes in this particular amending treaty are satisfactory, or NO, taken together the changes in this particular amending treaty are unsatisfactory.

Insofar as it was about this treaty at all it would turn into a battle over a handful of cherry picked clauses. Without reference to the concessions gained in quid quo pros as these were conceded.

But more than this any referendum now would be about all kinds of spurious side issues, mass media myths and underlying issues of nationalism, identity, jingoism and hatred for the other. It'll be things like:

- SAVE THE POUND (sterling) "Sterling" incidentally is from the Old French esterlin transformed to stiere in Old English (strong, firm, immovable). Wiki.

- SAVE THE POUND (avoirdupois) If the word avoirdupois sounds a bit foreign too it is from French and Middle English (Anglo-French) avoir de pois, "goods of weight" or "goods sold by weight". Wiki.

- SAVE THE BENT BANANA, ERRATIC CUCUMBER and THE BARMAID's DECOLLETAGE (oo-la-la) All those standard EU Bureaucracy Myths and Cliches will simply come home to roost.

- VOTE FOR A FREE EUROPE Basically a charlatan alternative constitution with anti-Europe agenda based here.

- FOR ENGLAND AND ST GEORGE The patron saint of Aragón, Canada, Catalonia, England, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Russia, and Palestine, as well as the cities of Genoa,Beirut, Ljubljana, Freiburg and Moscow, as well as a wide range of professions, organisations and disease sufferers. Wiki.

And this is before we get to "French Farmers are lazy paysans", "Greedy Germans hog the sun loungers", "Up yours Delors", "All right Jacques" and all the rest of the painful tossery that our Tory friends relish so much.

We are a mile from the beach as we swim across the channel. Twenty seven national flags adorn our swimming caps with some joining the event at different times. The Tories now wish us to stop swimming and tread water while there is a vote at home. And presumably turn round and return arduously to shore if that vote is NON.

Forget it. Let's get ashore and enjoy some toasted "emulsified high-fat offal tube" sandwiches. The European Union on average scarcely makes the top ten of people's political concerns.

If like we Irish we British were experienced in this referenda lark we'd have already voted on all the baggage and we'd keep our eye on the ball. As it is we can - like 25 other nations - do without this distraction.

Chorlton Libdemologists: Oh Dear Oh Dear Oh Dear

Chorlton Hocus Pocus arrives through the LOL letterbox. Here is a PERSONAL review of the dispiriting contents. I am not a candidate or officer of the local Labour Party. I have never been employed by the party. This blog is independent and personal.*

"Tesco Application Delayed"

The leaflet squeals. This concerns a plan to upgrade an existing (appallingly bad) Esso garage shop nearby and replace it with a Tesco Metro. So far there has been two preliminary traffic studies one from the applicant predicting a 4% uplift in traffic. The other from protestors and a "let's get it right" lobby which says 6%. When it is 5% or above there has to be a full independent study. Very reasonably the Council planning committee has adjourned their next consideration of this until Thursday 25 October by when this study will have been carried out.

Leech says that he and his sidekick Ankers are working to "stop Tesco's plans". A different Lib Dem who is late on the scene, but presumably is their next local candidate, is pictured with Leech.

They are I think going to fail and the fact that they have personalised it to Tesco - ownership or operator's name not being a planning issue - is part of that. Leech and co are leeching onto the lifeblood of a campaign with individuals from all parties and none, local shopkeepers are far from unanimous in opposition, local people in the wider area have not been asked for their views, and these local people could see a benefit from a quality late shop and off licence.

Morrisons isn't that good and might improve. There would be significant employment of local people (six tills in the latest drawings, one in the existing) and on the minimum wage or better and with proper terms and conditions and health and safety. Unlike many local shops. Whatever we may think of Tesco they are far more accountable on food miles, environment, staffing and hours, waste and so on than most shop operators. The garage itself could become genuinely 24 hours instead of lying about it and taking two very inconvenient hours out.

Interestingly plans for a garage shop operated by Somerfield alongside an existing McDonalds at another Esso garage location in the constituency - indeed in Cllr Leech MP's own ward - have seen no piggy backing of opposition. And plans for an extended Cooperative Local - also in his constituency and in his ward - ditto. Both these being at accident hotspots. Not Tesco see?

Leech has previously tried to claim credit for stopping a larger Tesco in a neighbouring constituency. And he himself has been seen shopping - in his best Blue Peter Shoes - at ASDA in Hulme, also not in his constituency.

Libdemologists say Tesco are the devil incarnate. McDonalds meanwhile are marvellous. Leech has not only taken hospitality and tickets (later returned after a sustained protest and lots of weaselly excuses) but also conspired in an Early Day Motion on McJobs as part of their marketing effort in which they trade on the idea of McJobs and McOpportunities. Esso are great. ASDA Walmart are the best.

Incidentally didn't Liberals write the books on economic liberalism?

Clearly our Labour councillors and Council are doing what is necessary to ensure that any extension or change to the shop on this site is developed and operated with proper regard to traffic, nuisance and planning law. The existing shop and garage are poor in various regards. If Tesco/Esso cannot make the site pay on these terms they will have to forget it. The Lib Dems are just using the brand "Tesco" in a pejorative sense and jumping on a band waggon. And deliberately mis-managing public expectations. Pathetic.

"Europe Matters in Chorlton"

MEPs Chris Davis and Saj Karim were apparently joined by our heroes Leech and Ankers in a discussion on Europe which the piece says also strayed onto the Congestion Charge and Metrolink (on which incidentally the Lib Dems have a horrendous record of dithering, two-facedness and opportunistic opposition). There is no picture. It says that "hundreds of local people were invited".

You may wish to speculate in comments as to how many, apart from the three overpaid loon representatives and the relatively decent Tory-raised Saj Karim MEP, actually turned up for this meeting. This is becoming a regular formula for describing a Lib Dem meeting with no audience.

Who exactly was invited anyway? Just known Lib Dem supporters? If so, that would of course be a disgusting dereliction of duty and add to the impression that Lib Dem reps only represent their own stalwarts and don't give a flying fig for the rest of us. An impression only assisted by treatment of incoming email and letters from non-supporters, party political livery of an an inconvenient office, and the snarling and cliquey demeanour of the majority of the local Libdemologists.

Let's hope that tax payers in general have not footed the bill for this event. We are certainly paying the salaries of all those performing to an invited audience. We are paying for the putrid livery of an office when 65% of us voted against the bird of fibbery. And we pay for workers and Leech himself who do not treat our concerns equally.

"Friends of Chorlton Green"

The next meeting is on 31st October at 6pm in the Horse and Jockey Pub.

"Are Council Cutting Corners on Tarmac?"

Hilarious! Mr Ankers sadly took a bit of a twatting on this when he stood up in full council and raised the quality of the "Micro Asphalt" treatment meted out to hundreds and hundreds of yards of local pavements in the ward and just across the border. Specifically Vicars Road/Albemarle Road and Egerton Road North - which is at the top of my road.

Turns out these are two of almost 50 locations where this cheap and cheerful method has been used to restore some cohesion and a uniform surface to battered pavements. When the more conventional hot tarmac is used the bill runs into humungous figures for small stretches of pavement.

Clearly it is amusing that weeds and even mushrooms can push their little heads through a pavement within a month of repair. But then again having resurfacing in a particular ward measured in hundreds of yards of pavement instead of dozens may be considered a worthwhile quid pro quo. I have some pictures of the little mushies somewhere.

Interestingly the first bit of pavement and road resurfaced in Whalley Range Ward after the election of Cllr John Grant in 2003 was the bit right outside his own house. Perhaps it is the omission of tarmacing outside his own dwelling - wherever that may be - that is pissing off Cllr Ankers?

Anyway mate: Bonzer use of a precious question at full council! The ONLY complaints city wide out of 50 locations! But, to be fair, ringing an officer may be a better way to proceed than making an idiot of yourself in council?

"Ryebank Fields Campaign Continues"

And Manchester's Labour Council continues to play a blinder in facilitating local people's action to create a village green. This is not a party political campaign - ditto the Tesco, Chorlton Green and others Leech and Co try to appropriate. Hands off our campaigns you blood sucking wotsits!

Meanwhile I will rush along to the singing workshop and concert .... on 13th October, whoops ... but there is a fundraising Night at the Iguana on 7th November where we can no doubt collar our Lib Dem representatives.

"Recycling Improvements"

Apparently Cllr Ankers is responsible for the annual yellow pages recycling facility at Morrisons car park? This was operating for years before ever he started stomping round Chorlton claiming local people are "bastards" for not coming to the door. He is also "pushing for a roll-out of cardboard recycling". Something which was announced in pipeline by our Labour council before he was ever a candidate here, never mind a councillor.

Nothing like pushing for something you know is coming. Or saving a hospital you know isn't threatened in any way.

Small Print, Omission, Marks Out of Ten?

"The Liberal Democrats care for the environment" so their confetti of leaflets is printed on recycled paper like everyone else's - though it looks to be bleached; their printing machine is also recyclable, like everyone else's; and apparently it takes the same electricity as a light bulb to run. The fibs and appropriations are also of course recycled.

What's missing? There is no paid for advertisement from John Leech or the MEPs on this Hocus Pocus. This ruse to use public funds to support party political material was first observed in the case of Chris Huhne MEP who got into a spot of bother for it, using the scam to fund his own campaign to be an MP.

Leech continues to do it, as well as using his parliamentary reports to feature party political materials and promote candidates in target seats. There should be a law against it. In fact there is.

What else is missing? Any politics or alternatives to the sterling work of Manchester Labour whatsoever!

Marks out of ten for this leaflet? 2/10. The bar chart is misdrawn but is actually for the most recent local ward result. And there is no spurious health story or major scaremongering effort.

Local people must surely see through this stuff? However persistently and pestilently it arrives?

* The disclaimer is necessary as the Lib Dems have made a habit of representing what are clearly bloggers' personal views as if they represent statements from or policies of the Labour Party. They are treacherous weasels.