Thursday, 31 December 2009

John McWilliam

this is not the best picture of the former Labour MP for Blaydon, John McWilliam, who retired from the House in 2005 and who died on 14th November, but it was the best I could find, having only heard this very sad news today. I am on a New Year holiday in Cyprus, and am barefoot in Paphos and mostly not on line, hence the delay, having also spent some days in Cornwall for Christmas, in a place where you have to walk up the road to get a mobile signal. Some day all this will change.

John was a good man, I supported him in his bid for the Speakership when Betty Boothroyd (who has subsequently been very ill, oh dear), retired. Always hopeless but I was proud to support John. I remember him in the Strangers' Bar with a twinkle in his eye and an anecdote, but I also remember that he was to be bought by nobody, and that he understood that there was more than one way to advancement and a successful career.

Very sad. 68 is too young to go. I'll miss you John. Have a glass for me, wherever you are, and twinkle your eyes in all our memories.

Friday, 18 December 2009

strike is off

British Airways' 12-day strike off, by order of the High court. Fraud in the vote, they said. Irregularities, they said. Vote not valid. Strike cancelled, they said. Anyone else notice (last night was one of the rare occasions we had good enough reception to watch our satellite channels, so saw this on Sky) that the Unite spokesman said in response to this that the fraud/irregularities were not enough to alter the outcome of the vote. Remind you of anything? Redlands ward 2005, after the police found there had been fraud in the 2004 election? Stuart Singleton-White, the fraudster's friend, saying exactly the same, that the fraud was not enough to alter the outcome of the election, prompting the question in chorus, "How did he know?"

Redlands LibDem councillor Daisy Benson, elected after Singleton-White's condoning of fraud shamed the Labour councillors into humiliating defeat, wants to be the LibDem parliamentary candidate for Reading West, and has a platform now. Not helpful was it Stuart? Still, now you are in charge of Reading Buses, so onward to fresh triumphs. Hein?

lookin' good

thanks to the Sartorialist for this picture, taken in Melbourne, Australia. He takes pictures of people he thinks look good in what they are wearing, and I have stolen this one.

Lies, damn lies, Basher and Page

Basher McKenzie, apparently now recovered from some kind of agonising disorder of the nether regions, has posted this in which he says it is "not true" that Alfred Sutton playing fields are "earmarked for development". In fact of course it is true. The letter he attaches, in tiny print, to his post, signed by Cllr Tony Page, says as much. The last sentence of that letter in fact says:
"it would not be appropriate nor possible to remove this site from the Site and Detailed Policies Document". That is, er, earmarking the site for development. That is Basher's lie. In fact of course it would be entirely possible to remove the site from that document. That is Cllr Page's lie. I would have thought better of you Tony. They lie to try and save Park ward. But they lost Park ward a long time ago - when then Cllr Howarth watched the football on telly with Cllr Fatboy Hartley instead of going out with their then MP and her team and meeting residents; when Salter's hired thug beat up a Park ward candidate outside the mosque; when the then councillor team, with the honourable exception of then Cllr Christine Borgars, sneered at the residents of Green Road who were worried about the mosque development; when they put in the do-nothing Shirley Merriott, whose haircut alone lost Labour at least 50 votes, as a present for her help in the deselection of their Labour MP; when they told the electorate that fraud in east Reading elections was just fine; and now when they refuse to engage with the electorate and simply tell them lies, very loudly, in leaflets paid for by the taxpayer with money given to Mr Salter and donated to Mr Howarth's Public Impact propaganda outfit. Lost. All gone.

In the name of God, go.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

yes or no

My little poll on the demonstrations in Iran is over. Three votes were against the student demonstrations and ten in favour. It seems to me that the issue is clear cut. Guest post opportunity available to anyone who voted and who wants to expand on their position.

let us compare mythologies

with apologies to the great man for borrowing the title of his book of poems, top title though, hein?

Mr Salter actually spoke in the Chamber this week. He prefaced his remarks with this:

It is a pleasure to follow Tony Baldry. I can give him some comfort. I have just done a quick count around the Chamber and a clear majority of Members did not vote for the Iraq war. Let us glory in our purity for a few moments.

That may have been the case on the day. Mr Salter himself certainly did not vote against the Iraq war, despite telling everyone who would listen that he had, and informing the Reading party: "I walked through the No lobby with the full mandate of this party".

He continues later:

We also considered the election of Select Committee Chairs. In 2001, a fiasco occurred within the parliamentary Labour party because of the Executive's attempts to determine who their scrutineers were and to decide that Donald Anderson and Gwyneth Dunwoody were too good at their jobs and would therefore be excluded from the list of people put forward for the Select Committee. The parliamentary Labour party for once was not a poodle, and it rose up. As a result, we brought our internal democracy into that process, and the elected Back-Bench Members in the PLP had a say in the names put forward.

That did indeed happen, and I voted to remove the whips from the appointment of Select Committee chairs, and received a message of thanks from the late Gwyneth Dunwoody. Mr Salter omits to inform us that on that occasion he voted the other way.

Towards the end of his remarks he says this:

The farce of private Members' Bills is currently an exercise in using up time. We march the non-governmental organisations and lobby groups up to the top of the hill, and an inordinate amount of time, paper and rain forest is wasted in debating matters that will never get through, because a Government Whip can stand up on a Friday morning and shout, "Object." For goodness' sake, we have to be better than that.

Er, Martin, how often have you actually turned up on a Friday? Or on any other day? The whips don't stand up to shout "Object". They do it from a sedentary position. Do try and keep up. You've only had 12 years to try and learn how to be a parliamentarian.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

they didn't ought to have been and gone and done that

on the Silly Boys website they attack the Reading East MP for "using taxpayers' money to subsidise a political party". Oh dear. The listed office for Reading Labour Party is 413 Oxford Road Reading RG30 1HA, which last time I looked was the taxpayer-funded office for Martin Salter MP. Reading Labour Party's leaflets are mostly produced within that office, using a Risograph machine funded by the taxpayer as part of Mr Salter's constituency office equipment. Mr Salter's expenses returns show regular substantial payments too from the taxpayer to Public Impact Ltd, prop. Mr J. Howarth (remember "Your Better Off With Labour"?) , some of which is laundered into the production of glossy publications for Reading Labour Party. To say nothing of Mr Salter's boasts that "the council delivers my election leaflets" and the regular donation of council facilities free for Reading Labour Party events, promotions and stunts, something which the shamed former chief executive, Trish Haines, told me would continue as long as she was in office, because all the council's facilities were "in the hands of the Labour Group, and that means Martin Salter too". How true. To say even less about Mr Salter's claim of over £40K of taxpayers' money for a non-existent London property between 1997 and 2001.

In the name of God, go.

Monday, 14 December 2009

tell me this is not true

according to the Daily Mail (yes I know) the two British BNP MEPs are not to be given the usual assistance British embassies give British elected representatives, but "factual briefings only", it says here. This ought not to be true. It is wrong. It flies in the face of democracy. If people are elected they are elected and whatever anyone thinks of their policies is neither here nor there. And, if it is true (and I have seen it nowhere else) then how does it sit with the British government's "halva with Hamas" initiative, given that Hamas, just like the BNP, are an avowedly racist party? Allegedly a civil servant horrifed at this wrongdoing has leaked it to the Mail. Well, I wonder.

a revolutionary socialist on the airport bookstalls

Stieg Larsson, is who. I have read his trilogy (in English translation) and urge those who have not to do the same. Gene at Harry's place posts on this, linking to an article by Nick Cohen which I missed in September. Have a read.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

now there's a thing

I reproduce what is below, including the personal contact details, because they were posted on a public forum, without comment other than to say that I am aware of Dominic Jackson as a former constituent in Reading East, where as far as I can ascertain he still lives, and I wonder aloud what inspired him to visit an MP for another constituency, whether he visited his own MP on these matters, and especially what Mr Salter was playing at using taxpayer funded facilities to write letters to and on behalf of people he is not paid to represent. The Wiki Mr Jackson links to even has a button for people to check who their MP is if they are unsure. The whole matter relates to the Digital Economy Bill, which those interested can investigate further if they are so minded.

If Mr Jackson has moved to Reading West in the meantime I apologise to him.

Adopted by Dominic Jackson (, tel 07791 608873). Visited surgery on 11th December 2009, had 10 minute chat re: DEB. Gave Salter a briefing document with a list of concerns about the Bill. Salter admitted that he is a technophobe/luddite and declared this document very useful and thanked me for providing it. Was asked directly if a member of a campaigning organisation and readily admitted I was an ORG member. Salter's opening remark was that if he created an artistic work, why shouldn't he be entitled to profit from it. I replied that I was not saying he could not, only that for artistic works such as music and movies that can be represented as digital data, it's difficult to control that distribution when copying is so easy. Also pointed out that digital technology makes it ever-cheaper to record music. I noted that artists now make more money from playing live than selling records - for example, in the mid-1960s, concerts were a means of promoting records and thus selling more of them. Now, the recorded music an artist produces might be considered a way of promoting his concerts, where he makes more money (and can sell merchandise like T-shirts to fans and earn money from this). I pointed out that I have my favourite artists, who I make a point of buying CDs from, but others I don't care so much about I might just download but without ever having had the intention of buying it - so they haven't lost a sale. I pointed out that my briefing document listed plausible reasons other than "piracy" for the drop in CD sales and I also asked Salter to discuss with some teenagers what CDs mean to them. Young people today often place no value on CDs - music is something to be accessed "here and now" without having a collection of silver discs around. My briefing document expanded upon this by saying CDs are effectively an obsolete product as far as a large market segment is concerned. I also pointed out that [ DVD sales have risen], and only declined in 2009 because Blu-Ray sales took off. [ Cinema attendances are at a 40-year high level]. I used these to try to get him to question the core assertion that there *is* a problem with revenue for the entertainment industry being affected by file sharing and therefore that legislation was needed. I think this point needs re-addressing with him. I noted in my briefing document (which he flick-read, saying that he would pass it to more technically aware members of his constituency office - but he was interested in my section on the "background to the Bill").

Pointed out that the movie industry tried to sue the video recorder out of existence in the USA in the early 1980s (which Salter found quite amusing) - used this to demonstrate that a new business of selling films on videotape to end consumers emerged. Noted that the entertainment industry always opposes new technology.

Salter noted that my attitude seemed a little socio-anarchic, as in "I can share files and therefore I will" - I should have addressed this point more strongly but I did reply that it's more a case of "anyone can share files and trying to stop it is futile (when copying technology is so advanced)". I need to address with him more strongly that, as my briefing document explained, trying to base a business on controlling media distribution is likely to fail and that newer models are required. Salter is to write to Stephen Timms on my behalf and followup through his constituency office. I shall followup his reply when received.

-- Dominic Jackson 11-12-2009 19:09

Montreal Polytechnique Engineering Faculty 6th December 1989

Perhaps the whole world knew about this, but not me until I read something today in Le Monde weekend magazine, as it is just over 20 years since Marc Lepine, a Canadian, walked into the engineering faculty lecture hall of the Montreal Polytechnic University, drew a gun, fired it at the ceiling, sent the men, 50 or so of them, out of the room, said to the women students that he 'hated feminists' and if they were women who wanted to be engineers that is what they were, and shot six of the nine present dead, following this up with a shooting rampage through the university in which I think another eight women were killed, including a nurse and a member of the canteen staff, and quite a number of others hurt, including two men. Then he killed himself. Sorry, that first one was quite a long sentence, but I am aghast. Not just at what happened, but at the fact that since the arrival of Teh Internetz there have appeared, especially but not only in Canada, a number of sites which describe themselves as "masculinist", some of which make Marc Lepine a hero, and also that Fathers4Justice have cited Marc Lepine approvingly, and even more that in 2002 members of the Canadian armed forces held some kind of rally in memory of Marc Lepine the feminist-killing hero.

Members of the Quebec and wider Canadian establishment, and many others, wear white ribbons on 6th December against violence against women, which I suspect misses the point rather. Two of the men sent out of the lecture hall in which the women were killed by Marc Lepine subsequently committed suicide. Makes you think, doesn't it? And not in a good way. Why do we not remember this? Those in Quebec and in France who do remember tell us that at the time the expressions of outrage, and the public statements, came from men. A cardinal, the head of the university, one of the men not killed - you know, proper people. Not women.

We all knew this was around, but we didn't want to think about it, did we?

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Johnny Hallyday

a nation, by which he is worshipped, holds its breath as he remains in an artificial coma. The doctor who operated on him following which the complications set in, hence the coma, has been attacked in the street and needs police protection. Johnny is possibly the coolest man in France. Get well soon.

Update - Johnny of course does not actually live in France any more, but in Switzerland and the USA, for tax reasons.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009


more stuff coming out this week - certainly we have all had our letters from Sir Thomas Legg (who signs himself "Tom" though he and I have never met as far as I know), and his letter to me says he proposes to publish the words "Ms Griffiths has no issues". I think I'll leave the rest to the comments.

Pity though that there has been a firm refusal to look at claims from 1997-2001,for which years Mr Salter fraudulently claimed over 40K for a non-existent London property. But fraud is OK, isn't it, Mr Singleton-White?

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Salter takes aim at the beaver

Leaving aside the probably unintentional hilariousness of the title of his press release, which can be read in full here, his rant against the possible reintroduction of the beaver to the UK is bad science, as well as, in true Reading Labour boys' fashion, setting up a target which is non-existent and then trying to knock it down. The Science Editor of the Financial Times, who knows his onions on these matters, helpfully points out that Salter is simply wrong when he says that beaver dams prevent fish from reaching spawning grounds - after all, when beavers were still common in the UK, 400 years ago, so were fish. And Salter fulminates against the idea, saying whatever next, reintroduce the wolf? Already done in Scotland mate, and a very good idea too. I think his rant is because his paymasters in the angling federations believe that the presence of beavers would not improve the experience of leisure angling. Because of course 400 years ago when people fished England's rivers they did so for food, and that, according to paid lobbyist Salter, is Wrong. Only Foreigners from Eastern Europe do this! And they should be Punished! (Seriously, he has actually said that). Ludicrous. Bad science and bad politics. Mr Sarkar should dissociate himself from this nonsense immediately. Naz? Naz? (tumbleweed)

Monday, 7 December 2009

protest Uganda homophobia

You can read about the anti-gay law in Uganda on this post on Harry's Place. Horrifyingly, it criminalises all physical homosexual acts, even if committed outside Uganda in countries where such acts are not a criminal offence. There is a protest in London on Thursday and you could write to the Ugandan High Commissioner - also clearly any Ugandan who is gay and seeks asylum in another country should be granted it, as they have well-founded fear of persecution. Hein?

a reader writes

a review of my book by a recent reader

The One by Jane Griffiths

Politics, as somebody once said, is like making sausages in that the public should only see the end product. The One by former Reading East MP Jane Griffiths tears the veil from the sausage factory of Reading Labour politics.

The outline of the story itself would be already familiar to those acquainted with workings of Reading Labour Party & who followed subsequent events through the media. In the 1997 general election both the previously Tory held Reading seats fell to Labour. Reading East was taken by Jane Griffiths, a Borough Labour Councillor, while former Deputy Council Leader Martin Salter triumphed in Reading West.

Before long, Jane fell out big time with Martin & his Reading Party/Council clique. A campaign was instigated to first undermine & then oust the Reading East MP. The first de-selection attempt failed in 2000, the second succeeded in 2004 (the first de-selection of a sitting Labour MP in a decade). As a result of the infighting, the Tories narrowly re-took Reading East in 2005.

The One is a fluent & insightful fleshing out of these events. While a casual reader may be tempted to dismiss Jane’s allegations as paranoia, they definitely ring true for anyone familiar with Mr Salter’s Bisexual shenanigans (the latter not being covered by the book!)

For example, during the period when the two shared a Westminster office, Jane accuses Martin of spying on her mail for the benefit of the whips. This fits with the arrangement that Mr Salter, while Deputy Council Leader, had with the then Council Chief Executive Geoff Filkin that he would see Labour Councillors’ mail.

While hardly skimping on length & detail at nearly 300 A4 manuscript pages, there are still several tantalising passages where a curious reader might be left wanting more.

For instance, Martin’s resignation from the Council in 1996 to concentrate on General Election campaigning. Jane tells us that that this was to dodge the flak from a Council corruption scandal without spelling out his precise involvement.

Or former Councillor & Reading Party Chair Mike Price’s decamping to Australia to escape an unspecified scandal.

Perhaps most interesting of all, the allegation that Martin claimed £1000 per month between 1997 & 2001 in Parliamentary allowances for a non-existent property but this was not breaking any laws or rules in force at the time!

The Reading Labour cronyism described at times becomes comic farce. Such as the work for producing Reading Labour literature being given to a PR firm run by former Reading Party Chair John Howarth, leading to hilarious gaffes such as “Your better off with Labour”.
Jane’s comments on national & international issues (such as her still unashamed support for the Iraq war) would take up more than another review.

Although something worth mentioning is the author’s self-declared feminism permeating the book (she describes her Reading Labour enemies as “the boys” although they were not all male). Jane recalls how, after her de-selection, the Government Chief Whip Hilary Armstrong, laughed in her face. Something that feminists seem to ignore is how some women, once they get into positions of power, can be worse tyrants than men, just as much to other women. Although this of course, is a quite a separate matter.

As a tale told well of political treachery, The One is well worth reading by anyone with an interest in politics in general, & Reading politics in particular.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

use a long spoon

David Miliband (you know, bloke with daft haircut who doesn't know the first thing about politics and is the British Foreign Secretary) has decided to sit down and have halva with Hezbollah. Now there's a good idea. Not. He says there are nice democratic Hezbollah MPs in Lebanon and they are OK to talk to because they are different from the horrid terrorist ones who kill people. He should know that it was something like this which did for Segolene Royal's bid for the French Presidency in 2007 - she went to Lebanon and had meetings with MPs, and although Lebanon is still a francophone country the MPs were speaking Arabic so an interpreter was present. Hezbollah has refused to renounce terrorist violence, and Sego was pictured drinking tea with them, nodding and smiling. she wrote later in her book (worth a read incidentally) that the interpreter had not told them everything the Hezbollah MPs were saying (they were pledging to destroy Israel). Above you will see some of those nice democratic Hezbollah chappies, as well as the lovely Davy-babes.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Holocaust deniers

I have always wondered: the people who deny the Holocaust ever happened hold the kind of views held by, for example, Ahmedinejad, Nick Griffin, David Irving, Hizb ut-Tahrir, former leader of Reading Borough Council David Sutton, you know the kind of thing. But you'd think, wouldn't you, that people who hold those views would be pleased about the Holocaust. In the words of the immortal Rolf Harris version of "Stairway to Heaven" "Ooooh, it makes me wonder, what about you blokes?"

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

singh and shout

now this really is a top man. Mr D.P. Singh appeared on my original election address in 1997, with his family, and it was a privilege for me to have his picture there. He has largely been ignored by Reading Labour over the years, but now they have selected him for Kentwood (oh yes, I remember when Kentwood had Labour councillors) and he will campaign excellently. He would also be a very good councillor. I do hope Reading Labour will put its campaign team and resources behind Mr Singh immediately, er...
Reading Labour gave up on Kentwood long ago. They informed the Kentwood members (who are mostly good people) that they would have to select the odious thug Basher McKenzie and the invisible Salter stooge Viki Lloyd, neither of whom did any work, and then left them alone and watched the votes melt away. By the time they had selected Andrea Collins, who actually wanted to do some work there and represent the ward properly, it was too late. You need a machine for a ward like Kentwood, and Reading Labour has forgotten that. Now, disgracefully, they are only selecting ethnic minority people as paper candidates, which is such a tragic waste of human and political potential. The electorate will pay them back.
and do not get me started on the subject of Sikh men in general, a girl can come over all unnecessary. I have never been to the Punjab, and I had better not go there, I would never come back.

Monday, 30 November 2009

loud, but not very clear

Loud-n-Clear is a company based in Reading which appears to be some kind of front organisation. No directors' or other contact names are listed on its website and its phone is constantly busy, which is a bit odd to say the least. It is based at 29 Castle Crescent Reading, which is a serviced apartment building - why not contact it and ask it to do some web hosting and see what happens?

the racist right running schools in Britain

but that's OK, says Secretary of State Ed Balls in this article, and anyone who points out that schools are being run by members of the extremist pro-terrorist racist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir is being irresponsible. Shut up, he says. Don't tell. People might get upset. I wonder if he would say the same if the BNP were running schools? Hein? And at least the BNP don't advocate actually killing people because of their race.

In the name of God, go.

publicly shamed

in the dead-tree media, as you can see here. It is not so much that Mr Salter signed an Early Day Motion calling for hacker Gary McKinnon not to be extradited to the USA and then voted the other way, because people can change their minds, and a vote in the Commons is at least public (if anyone can be bothered to look, and they should). It is that he got local headlines by shouting publicly about the issue, and then voted the other way, not wishing to vote against the government. That is hypocritical and it stinks. He does this all the time. He did it on the Iraq war, when he told everyone in Reading who would listen that he had voted against military action in March 2003, but in fact followed the whips' instructions to MPs who had made public statements like this, and abstained. And then lied about it afterwards. This kind of thing is not only hypocrisy. It is political stupidity. Because why lay yourself open to criticism that you have faced both ways at once when there is no need to? Just because the Reading Evening Post will never expose this activity does not mean that no-one else will notice.

update: Blogger and Labour MP Tom Harris takes a different view, and is in favour of Gary McKinnon being extradited. If Mr Salter now agrees with Mr Harris, and that is why he voted with the government, will he tell us so? Instead of going to ground? Martin? Martin? (sound of tumbleweed)

Saturday, 28 November 2009

and your problem is?

not guilty, says a judge, so what was all the fuss about? Going to publish that all over Teh Internetz are we boys? Well I am saying it here in the interest of natural justice. Remember that?

Friday, 27 November 2009

duck and cover

oh dear, Lord Mandelson has gone shooting with Colonel Gaddafi's son, it says here, but not only there. I wonder if the Hon Member for Shooting and Other Blood Sports, who once approached the then Peter Mandelson to offer to help him become a member of Labour's NEC (he was rebuffed), and who later wrote him a letter begging to be allowed to be his PPS when he was Northern Ireland Secretary (similarly rebuffed and leaked to the Sunday Times), is going to spring to Lord Mandelson's defence? Martin? Martin? (sound of tumbleweed)

Thursday, 26 November 2009


oh well, it was only work and pensions, nothing of interest to your constituents, just so long as you keep writing letters, ones about a memorial in Reading East (when there already is one in Reading West) eh Mr Salter?

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Basher's got a...

I post this without comment for those of you who missed it

still cool about this Mr Salter?

Sky's unfeasibly tall and craggy Jon Craig has this to say about the arrest of Damian Green MP. He is as clear as he could possibly be in saying that there has been a cover-up intended to cover the arses of the former Speaker, Michael Martin, and the Clerk of the House, Malcolm Jack, and to stiff Jill Pay. Cherchez la femme, hein? Twas ever thus. And Mr Craig is a Main Stream Journalist! Who are Democratic and Fab! Unlike Horrid Anti-Democratic Bloggers! But Mr Salter said on the broadcast media that the arrest of Damian Green MP was Absolutely Fine. Does he still think so?

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

the minimum wage

never meant that much in Reading in my time there, because most of the lowest paid earned more than that. You didn't find security guards on £1.50 an hour in Reading before its introduction as you did in Cornwall where many of my family live. However, the minimum wage did provide much needed protection for people in many of the jobs which are necessary for all of us to have a decent quality of life - serving takeaway and other food, cleaning public spaces, staffing shops and so on. In my time in Reading the vast majority of Labour Party members did not have to live on such a low income - most of them could afford to buy the Guardian every day. A good income does not mean you are intelligent, because very many of them thought what the Guardian wrote was true. However. Anneliese Dodds has, as I have posted before, indicated that if elected Labour MP for Reading East she would not take the full salary, but would take the average for the constituency, which she says is £35,000 or so (this is much disputed) and use the rest to staff her office. There is of course a staffing budget for an MP's office, which she has not said she will not use, but it cannot be used for political staff, so presumably that is what she would use that portion of her salary for - because it is her own money and nobody can tell her what she can and cannot do with it. A pretty good wheeze. She posted all this on a profile of her on Labour List, and it has attracted quite a lot of attention, almost all of it drawn from my highlighting of it on this blog. Now she has written a piece for Comment is Free in the Guardian (where else?) on the subject. But the subject has now been removed from her own website, which in Reading Labour fashion is entirely non-interactive. As the general election approaches Anneliese would be wise to engage with the public other than in the pages of the Guardian, whatever the boys are telling her.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

the Blairingly obvious

appointing Herman Rumpy Pumpy, prime minister of Europe's only failed state, and Baroness Nobody, whom I had never heard of when she was a UK government minister and we were told she supported the saving of Ryeish Green School (she didn't) as les plus grands fromages in Europe is barmy. It reduces accountability and bolsters the positions of Sarko and Angie. which is what they wanted. George Grant posting on The Scoop has it right:

Don’t be fooled. The choice of Herman von Rumpty and Baroness Nobody as EU President and Foreign Minister was a big mistake.

Eurosceptics will doubtless be breathing a sigh of relief that the reviled showman Blair is not to fill the top job after all, and traffic will be spared the need to grind to a halt every time Blairforce One touches down. The choice of two non-entities has at least stemmed the growing influence of the European Superstate... for now.

Yet the ironic truth is that those most concerned about the growing and increasingly unaccountable nature of European politics should have backed Blair all the way. The brazenness with which the EU’s upper-echelons ignore popular opinion is indeed approaching the level of farce. Nobody was asked about the Lisbon Treaty, except the Irish, who had to be asked twice. The same goes for the new EU President, Belgian’s Prime Minister Herman van Rompuy, (technically president of the Council) and his foreign affairs sidekick, Baroness Ashton. The Baroness, Lord Mandelson’s successor as EU Trade Commissioner, does in fact have the dubious honour of never having held elected office in her entire life.

Consequently, the argument goes, the less real power these people have, the better. The truth, however, is that by choosing these backroom characters to represent the EU globally on our behalf, we are only making the EU’s chronic accountability crisis even worse.

One of the EU’s single greatest impediments is that virtually nobody, in Britain at least, understands the first thing about how it operates. Rational debate on the EU is consequently almost impossible because any matter is reduced to Europhiles supporting whatever the proposal happens to be, and Eurosceptics opposing it, regardless of what it actually says. Nowhere was this clearer than with the Lisbon Treaty itself. Had more Eurosceptics bothered to read it they might have found they actually quite liked it precisely because it seeks to address many of the issues that make them so anti-European in the first place.

The appointment of such a high profile and intensely controversial figure as Tony Blair to the presidency would thus have been very healthy. If nothing else, it would have opened up the inner workings of the EU to public interest and thus scrutiny as never before, and that, more than anything else, is exactly what the European Union needs.

seen elsewhere

on the site of a man who describes himself as a writer on politics:

The downfall of the new Labour project has not been so much about what new Labour did or did not do in power but the failure of many of its disciples to understand that Stalinism doesn’t work, never did, never will.

Profound insight, hein? Who wrote it?

Friday, 20 November 2009


here is a little gem I will give a little fisk to:

Reading West MP Martin Salter is to plant a “runway tree” to mark the twinning of the town
which town? Not Reading surely? Mr Salter does not and cannot speak for Reading, and certainly not its town twinning
with Sipson, the village earmarked for destruction if the proposed third runway at Heathrow airport goes ahead.
This month, celebrities, including actress Alison Steadman (”Abigail’s Party” and “Gavin and Stacey”) and the poet-laureate Carol-Ann Duffy, planted an apple orchard at Sipson, one of the villages that face demolition should the third runway go ahead.

So? Oh and poet laureate is not hyphenated
Martin Salter is one of many people who have signed up to become a “plot holder” on the land near Sipson which contains the orchard
plot holder? has he bought a piece of the land then? how much did he pay? who got the money?
as part of a campaign by Greenpeace to disrupt and delay the building of the runway.
that's going to work then. Not. And I speak as, most of the time, a Greenpeace supporter. The words Meaningless and Stunt spring to mind.
Martin Salter said:-
“I remain a staunch opponent of the third Heathrow runway

unlike your own Labour government and a cross-section of the trade union movement, some of which give you money
, and last year organised a cross-party Commons motion against the scheme which I consider an environmental abomination.
so that's all right then. Nothing like speaking or voting in the House or actually doing anything. An Early Day Motion takes about three minutes to table and is a piece of political graffiti.
As a Greenpeace supporter, I am more than happy to be a part owner with 60,000 others of an orchard in West London which is designed to obstruct the building of the runway.
What does Greenpeace have to do with land ownership?
It is fitting that here in Reading, which is also under the Heathrow flight path, that we mark our support for communities more badly threatened by these plans than ourselves.”
Hang on. I thought the tree was being planted in Sipson, not "here in Reading". Superfluous relative pronoun too. Poor. And who is "we"? I thought Mr Salter was planting this tree on his own? Incoherent.

When and where is this great event taking place then? Breaths are being held.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

a correspondent writes

in La Poule au Pot, a very nice little restaurant I used to go to occasionally when I was in London, were sighted yesterday one Liz Truss, described as "looking very uncomfortable" and Sir Jeremy Bagge. I wonder if they kissed and made up over the petits fours?

jeu de mains, jeu de vilains

is what the commentators are saying on the French media today about Thierry Henry's deliberate handball which stole the match last night. For non-Francophone readers "mains" is "hands" and "vilains" these days means "bad people", so the meaning of the proverb should be obvious. However, similarly to English, where "villain" means a bad person and "villein" meant a medieval non-knight person, "les vilains" in medieval France were people who did not carry weapons and so had to fight with their fists if they wanted a fight. Here is an online explanation of the proverb for today's readers:

Cette locution proverbiale trouve son origine au Moyen Âge. Elle était alors utilisée en référence aux "vilains", dont les altercations finissaient souvent en véritables bagarres. Aujourd'hui, elle fait plutôt allusion au sexe.

I'll leave readers to work it out. Ahem.

But I still think Thierry Henry should have been sent off. And nice Michel who brings our internal mail round feels bad about the result. "C'est dommage", he says.

seen on facebook

the following from Singleton-White, the fraudster's friend:

Hi Rob, I hoping to become a governor at Redlands so I'd be interested to know how you get on.

posted on the site of the man we hope will be elected councillor for Park ward next May. I am not Singleton-White's friend on facebook (quelle surprise!) so cannot read Rob's reply, chiz.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

class, HMV!

the Reading Evening Post has a Diary piece today titled "Class act Naz" which highlights that Mr Sarkar went to school at both Dulwich College and Winchester. Where did they get that from then? Cannot imagine. They quote Mr Sarkar only to say that when asked about his school career Mr Sarkar said "Where is this going? Is it going to be a story?". (Oh dear, oh dear, Mr Salter used to run little courses on how not to make a tit of yourself in the dead-tree media, have you not taken one of those courses Mr Sarkar?) The piece goes on to say, carefully, "Mr Sarkar is currently teaching maths full-time at Denefield School in Tilehurst where he is giving one-to-one tuition to GCSE students". It goes on to say that the Dulwich motto is Detur Gloria Soli Deo - Let Glory be Given to God Alone - and that the Winchester one is Manners Makyth Man, for which it does not provide a translation. It concludes by saying that it is not known whether Mr Sarkar played for the Winchester College football team known as the Winkies.

Class indeed.

I thank you.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Anneliese Dodds is profiled this week on Labour List, and her profile includes the statement:

would claim only the average Reading wage as a salary, and invest the rest in making sure that local constituents get the best possible service from their local MP

Interesting, huh? How would that work then? Would like to know. Raises several questions, hein?

Tory lady for Slough

remember Peta Buscombe? If I remember rightly she was at one time the Tory candidate for Slough. Anyway, she is a grand fromage in media regulation these days, and she has this to say, hat-tip Iain Dale, with whom I agree on these matters:

Ian Burrell, who edits The Independent's Media Pages, has a very disturbing blogpost about the ambition of the Press Complaints Commission to regulate blogs. The new chairman of the PCC, Baroness Buscombe, seems to have gone native already and wants her empire to grow ever larger.
She wants to examine the possibility that the PCC's role should be extended to cover the blogosphere, which is becoming an increasing source of breaking news and boasts some of the media's highest-profile commentators, such as the political bloggers Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes. Do readers of such sites, and people mentioned on them, deserve the same rights of redress that the PCC offers in respect of newspapers and their sites?"Some of the bloggers are now creating their own ecosystems which are quite sophisticated," Baroness Buscombe told me. "Is the reader of those blogs assuming that it's news, and is [the blogosphere] the new newspapers? It's a very interesting area and quite challenging."She said that after a review of the governance structures of the PCC, she would want the organisation to "consider" whether it should seek to extend its remit to the blogosphere, a process that would involve discussion with the press industry, the public and bloggers (who would presumably have to volunteer to come beneath the PCC's umbrella).The PCC regulates the press online as well as in print, and its remit also extends to the Sun's radio operation, SunTalk.Blogging, with its tradition of being free and unregulated, sees itself as very different. But is it really?Er, yes it is. We might write the same bollocks as newspaper journalists, but we don't get paid for it, for a start. Many of us do not see ourselves as primarily news outlets, either. I'd estimate that ninety per cent of my content could loosely be described as comment.I see absolutely no need for independently operated blogs to be regulated by the PCC or indeed anyone else. If they want to propose a voluntary system of regulation, fine. But the day they try to mandate it is the day I will give up blogging.Or have I just given them an incentive to do just that?!


Now that Liz Truss has survived a deselection attempt in SW Norfolk (hurrah!), where do people think the next attempt is going to be? and do they think Nasty Naz will survive having been caught out lying to Reading West members? the vote on my little poll on the right is neck and neck, with a respectable turnout.

Monday, 16 November 2009

the men of violence

Basher, oh Basher, why do you play up to it? this from your "blog" the other day:

So what do you do when you only have a lollipop stick to defend yourself with?

so the lollipop man's stick is a weapon, is it? and do the Alfred Sutton School parents feel safe knowing their children are being shepherded across the road by a man known for violent behaviour who thinks that is what a lollipop stick is for?

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

a whisper in the wind

well, more than one actually. A Reading West member who voted in the selection of Nasty Naz is unhappy that the selection meeting (which he confirms was "packed" in the old-fashioned, smoke-filled room sense) was not told that Mr Sarkar was educated at Dulwich College and Winchester. He says that while he personally would not have changed his vote if he had known, he knows others who would, and that he would like the selection rerun as he feels the members were misled, the more so as it has now emerged that Mr Sarkar misled (his word) both the members and the public by telling them he was working as a teacher when he was not. Another Reading West member describes herself as an "old-fashioned class warrior" and says she "had no idea" that they were selecting a public schoolboy, and would "certainly not" have supported Mr Sarkar if she had known. She too would like the selection contest rerun, but has been told that Mr Malcolm Powers, as the regional party official responsible for these matters, will have none of it - methinks Mr Powers has a conflict of interest as he is currently an election candidate himself in Reading, and as such (take it from one who knows) is expected to take orders on all Reading election matters from Mr Salter and a small group of men.

It is interesting too that these party members (and presumably others too) say it "never occurred" to them that Mr Sarkar was a public schoolboy. Why? Even in Billy Bunter's time Asian boys were allowed into the public schools of England. Asian people, or "Stanis" as Mr Salter has been heard by me to call them on many occasions, are supposed to live on benefits in crumbling houses in Newtown, to know their place and to vote as instructed in selection and election meetings.

Welcome to the 21st century, boys. Ah me, where are the old certainties?

Friday, 6 November 2009

questions for Naz, II

Mr Sarkar, still glowing perhaps from his placement in the Question Time audience, has not so far responded to my questions, which have caused amusement to those who know him, who point out that he used to be, not a teacher but a tutor, at Denefield (they think he has left), that he did something similar at Dunraven School in Streatham when he was trying to be selected there, and that his family has plenty of money and looks after him well, so that he does not actually need a salary. He also, I am told, did not tell the Reading West selection meeting that he was educated at Winchester. I wonder why not?

I am in the process of penning a formal question to Denefield School about their alleged employment of Mr Sarkar. I hope the response from the head teacher is as polite and helpful as that of his staff member was on the telephone on Wednesday.

There is a bit of a history with Labour PPCs and employment at Denefield School. Anybody guess what I am referring to?

fat is a - what kind of issue?

First Post has a piece about how the recession has boosted armed forces enlistment, as increased unemployment usually does, in the USA. This should be good news for the armed forces, as they get people signing up who are high-quality recruits and not just people who would be in prison if they were not in the forces. But the young people who sign up are not physically fit enough. And this is because they are too fat. And they are not happy to be fat. It seems. Says the article. French women don't get fat. We are told. Although on the estates and on public transport you see plenty of women here in France who are traditionally built. They are not white women though. Which is another issue, and one the current White House is having to confront. The average French woman is slimmer than the average British woman, though, and way slimmer than the average American. This is partly because she is more likely to smoke than either of them, partly, in fact quite a lot, because she walks more and is a lot more likely to walk or cycle to work than they are, and only a bit to do with diet - French women eat no breakfast, a big lunch and don't snack - but then why are the pharmacies full of non-prescription diet pills?

Ever since I gave up smoking six years ago I have needed to lose a bit of weight, and more so recently, as when a friend was dying this summer I discovered, rather late in life, the cheering powers of chocolate. I am not however identified as fat, while in the UK at least, and in the US I am identified as slim. I have always had a problem with my ankle joints, which has only really bothered me in the last two or three years, with advancing age and wear and tear, which explains why I have never run a marathon (that's my story anyway) . So, the French health service being what it is (the best in the world, no contest) I got my ankles X-rayed and scanned and checked out by a podologue (podiatrist I think in English, not sure) , who has made me some insoles to correct my posture, which means I can walk further, which is probably good for the weight as well. But I was a little surprised that she weighed me and suggested that my ankles would fare better if they were carrying a little less weight, and that I should go to a dietician and be helped to lose 15 kilos (which is over two stone, Brits, and none of my clothes would fit me any more if I did) . So I have joined a kind of online weight-watchers, and have a programme which says I will lose those 15 kilos by February. We'll see. I do not think I have the courage to tell you what I weigh now (remember I am five foot ten and broad-shouldered) but I will from time to time tell you if I lose (or indeed gain) weight and if so how. If Iain Dale can do it so can I. My current exercise regime is to cycle to work (20 minutes each way, mostly flat) about three times a week, to do two Pilates classes a week (no good for weight loss but fabulous, try it) one gym class most weeks (they run all these at work at lunchtimes, which is normal for French workplaces of any size and makes it easier to do these things regularly) and to swim once a week for about half an hour (in July and August I swim every day but don't do the classes). so not much really. And I don't take any diet pills.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Questions for Naz Sarkar

I am asking Labour's parliamentary candidate for Reading West, Naz Sarkar, the following questions. He can answer them with a guest post on this blog if he wishes, or in the comments. He is free to contact me on if he wishes to make a guest post. Either way any answers he gives or statement he chooses to make will be published here in full, unedited and in the first instance without comment.

1. Your website says: Naz is a mathematics teacher at Denefield School in Tilehurst and has been a Secondary school teacher for 8 years. Denefield School's website does indeed list your name in its mathematics department. Are you a class teacher?

2. Do you teach GCSE Mathematics at Denefield?

3. Do you teach A-level Mathematics at Denefield?

4. What size class on average do you teach?

5. How many contact hours a week do you teach?

6. The (very helpful) person who answered the phone at Denefield School yesterday said you were "one of our tutors". A tutor is not a teacher but someone with Qualified Teacher Status who works 1-1 with students, usually for a few hours a week, after school and occasionally in school holidays, as the current advertisement on Denefield School's website for Mathematics and English tutors makes clear. Are you a tutor?

7. If the answer to question 6 is "yes", why did you describe yourself as a teacher on your website?

8. If the answer to question 6 is "no", why did the person at Denefield School describe you as a tutor?

9. When did you start working at Denefield School?

10. Are you still working at Denefield School?

11. If the answer to question 10 is "yes", what job do you do there and what kind of contract do you have?

12. If the answer to question 10 is "no", when did you leave and why?

13. Will Denefield School make a statement on your employment with them?

I think that will do for now. Look forward to hearing from you Naz!

Thames Pilgrim

is how someone called Guy Robinson tweets, and he says this:

I note that my current MP, Martin Salter, both voted against the Iraq war (saying there was no moral case) and has a clean expenses record.

Oh dear. How they are deceived. No he didn't. He said he had, but he abstained. And he does not have a clean expenses record. He claimed over 40K in four years for a London property he did not have. Still, never let the facts get in the way, etc etc

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

where are you Nasty Naz?

a rumour is circulating that Naz is no longer working at Denefield School. He describes himself on his website as a maths teacher at the school, but according to my informant the school says he has never been a maths teacher there, but a maths tutor - this is someone who gives 1-1 tuition to pupils after school and sometimes in the school holidays, and is a position available to someone with Qualified Teacher Status, ie without classroom experience - they do of course have to pass CRB checks etc. So at the very least he has been economical with the truth on his website. When my informant questioned the school earlier today they had to spell his name for the school, and he is not answering his emails at the school address. Hmmm. Did the Reading West members know this when they selected him?

Denefield School is recruiting a maths teacher at present, the closing date was 19th October. They are also looking for a maths tutor.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

the awful truth

that you can't reveal to the ears of youth

a prize for the first to say where that line comes from and to give me the next line

I was referring though to Mr Salter's "campaign" he puffs here. He says he has been campaigning since 2004 for the Youth Parliament to sit in the Commons Chamber. Maybe, though he doesn't say what he has actually done. Anyway, it is now going to happen, and a jolly good thing too, say I. Mr S. says that not only should they debate in Parliament, but that Parliament should listen. Except that he, er, isn't going to. He won't be there. And far from listening, he is meeting one of the Youth Parliament's leading lights beforehand to tell him or her what to say. Oh dear. How wrong can you get it?

Oh and I have changed my mind. To save you Googling the line, the next one is:

Except to say it isn't worth a damn

Monday, 2 November 2009

just thought I'd point this out

from the Reading Labour non-interactive "blog" of Nasty Naz Sarkar:

I recently attended a Diwali event at the Sikh Temple in Cumberland Road. Admittedly the event was not in the constituency that I hope to represent in Parliament but it brought home to me the multicultural nature of Reading

What is going on? The Labour candidate/MP for Reading West is supposed to spend most of his time in Reading East and do his photocalls there. Not apologise for going there. Mr Sarkar, you are off message. Even the header of your website shows Reading West, unlike Mr Salter's which shows of course Reading East. Now sort yourself out. Oh and "the multicultural nature of Reading" is well represented in Reading West, significantly by the Bajan community - the largest Bajan community outside Barbados, which is why Reading is, er, twinned with Speightstown in Barbados. Mr Salter never had any contact with that community, for reasons best known to him.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Reading Buses

This story is a bit old, but there is a new comment on it from digitaltoast which I thought was worth reproducing here:

Sorry I'm a bit late to the party, I've been away but I'm totally surprised on returning to read that Reading Buses and Council had "only just" found out that their fuel was not what they thought - because I told them this in June 2008!

After getting no-where asking direct questions to Reading Buses, I spoke to Peter Watson of British Sugar on 24th June 2008, and he followed up with an email clarifying that it was never "sugar waste".

I then forwarded this to Reading Buses and Reading Borough Council - about 3 days later I got a very, let's say "robust", phone call from Sam Simpson from Reading Buses. He proceeded to launch into a hatchet job on Dr Paul Bardos (more on him later) basically saying he was Tory and therefore biased and incorrect and he hated the environment and wanted to kill fluffy bunnies and kittens with hoses run from exhaust pipes into their warrens etc (or something along those lines), and that bioethanol was definitely a waste by-product of growing sugar beet.

Also in June 2008 I had the following reply from Reading Buses board member Warren Swaine in reply to "were Reading Buses conning us?":
"As far as RTL is concerned, conned is not the right word. There was a misunderstanding which wasn't cleared up until after the initial publicity had gone out. Reading Buses acted in good faith when putting together the publicity as they were under the impression at the time that it was actually waste product."

Also, in the Reading Forum, on 24th June 2008, he also wrote in reply to further questioning on this:
"I will ask. They cannot lie, spin or whatever you wish to call it to me... I'm a director!"

It appears they were always going to be safe though - when I contacted the Advertising Standards Authority explaining that I felt this "sugar waste" claim to be misleading, I received a reply dated 22nd July 2008 explaining that they do not cover:
"statutory, public, police and other official notices/information, as opposed to marketing communications, produced by public authorities and the like".

I did try and persue this explaining that I felt the sign was a marketing communication, but they we steadfast.

I got a reply from Reading Trading Standards with an almost identical position - as Reading Buses was a council owned company, they could do nothing.

Around this time, I also made contact with this Paul Bardos who Sam Simpson had mentioned. Dr Bardos appeared to have had a similar experience to me - asking lots of questions but getting a lot of brush-offs in the process.
All of this, multiple emails etc, happening across June and July 2008 - unfortunately I moved and changed jobs at around that time, and having tried the best I could, this got pushed to the back of my mind.

But I don't believe for one second that this is a "surprise" to anyone at RTL or RBC - unless they had a two month long "flash forward" style amnesia moment during June and July 2008!

If anyone wants copies of the relevant notes and emails, feel free to ask.

30 October 2009 09:45


shiver me timbers

a ransom is being demanded by Somali pirates for a British couple who sailed their yacht into waters around those parts. If I had a yacht I might sail it in the Mediterranean, parts of the Caribbean, the Baltic perhaps in summer. Not off the Horn of Africa. The phrase "more money than sense" springs to mind. Deserve (almost) all they get. Are they going to pay back any rescuers they might have? Hein?

Thursday, 29 October 2009


Salter is in today's Guardian calling himself 'a little saint' for never having claimed for a flat in London 'since 1997'

writes a correspondent. Well, I am not a Guardian reader. However, a cursory search of their website turns up the following by Sir Michael White:

Reading West's Martin Salter, who commutes like so many constituents, tells me how long his day is – and says he couldn't have done it if Tony Blair or Gordon Brown had made him a minister: that would have meant getting into bed after midnight and on the 6.30am train the next day.

Aahh, poor love. He will leave politics a disappointed man. Too two-faced to be a minister. And it's the only thing he ever wanted. And his pledge to get back to Reading every night is worth exactly that much - would have been jettisoned for a ministerial job. As we all know, although he has never had a place in London, he claimed for one from 1997 to 2001. Well over 40K.

where were you, Martin?

Mr Salter failed to turn up to vote at all yesterday. Including on the Territorial Army.

totalitarianism in the Foreign Office

Oh yes there is. I suspect that this article by Nick Cohen in Standpoint about FCO whistleblower Derek Pasquill is true. So the left in Britain will rise up in defence of this man who fought for freedom, justice and liberal values and is only not in prison because the FCO dropped the prosecution so he would not embarrass them in court? Anyone? Anyone? (sound of tumbleweed)

I strongly suspect that all Foreign Secretaries since (but not including) the late Robin Cook have knowingly or (what may be worse) unknowingly connived at the appeasement of the Islamic far right - as have many Labour MPs and councillors, going right back to Martin Salter marching for the burning of The Satanic Verses.

Shame on you all.

Tributes to Norman Edwards

Well, there have been some, in the comments on my previous post from yesterday, after I found out from His Master's Voice that Norman was no longer with us. The HMV "story" is titled "tributes to former councillor Norman Edwards" but includes a tribute only from his widow. Nothing from the Labour Party, for which he worked as a councillor for years and as a volunteer. This is disgraceful. One might almost think... Reading Labour Party is chaired by Trish Thomas, who is not a bad person, but there is no statement from her on behalf of the party, even though she and Norman were members of the Labour Group at the same time; nothing on the Silly Boys' website. Nothing. Even if you only found out when I did, or even from my blog, a statement should have been posted today. Has a condolence letter been sent to his widow? Thought not.

Shame on you all.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Reading Borough Council Bill

as you can see was before Parliament yesterday - as Mr Salter will know, having undoubtedly been there to support it. Hein?

Norman Edwards

Rest in peace. Norman Edwards was a good man and a brave one. HMV has a report here, make of it what you will. When I was campaigning as the Labour candidate for Reading East in 1997 Norman had just taken early retirement and he single-handedly ran my campaign office for six weeks. I will never forget his kindness and commitment to the cause. He was a brave man too - there was a vile personal campaign against him by a bunch of so-called peace-n-love hippies in Newtown when he was a Park ward councillor, against a bridge over the Kennet that they said would bring poor working-class people into their area who would drop crisp packets into their vegetarian gardens. Norman faced them down. No crowd-pleasing duplicity for him, unlike several other Park ward Labour councillors we have known.

life in a jar

Irena Sendler has died aged 98. No, nor me. But she did have an obituary in the New York Times. I offer you the opportunity to read about her here, for which hat-tip Harry's Place. They say rightly that the prize does not always go to the most deserving: she was up for the Nobel Peace Prize for saving 2500 children from the Warsaw ghetto, but it went to Al Gore for a slide show about global warming for Guardian readers to talk about at their dinner parties. Congratulations. That it should come to this.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


Mr Salter made a speech, and a number of interventions too, unusually for him, in the House yesterday, on the Marine and Coastal Access Bill. He had the good sense to listen to the warnings he has received and not to do his Griffinesque rant about "east Europeans" who fish inappropriately. The debate ended at ten last night, and Mr Salter's speech was made not that long before that time - but when the vote was taken he wasn't there . Huh?

Sunday, 25 October 2009

did he go to Cornwall?

rather than the "night-time economy" of Reading? I ask because Basher McKenzie's post, which you can read here (it is not for those who are easily upset by bad grammar and spelling) is titled "street pasty". (If you want a laugh, note that the Silly Boys' website says this: showing Labour's continued commitment to cutting child and pensioner poverty, even in these straightened times" - were the times crooked before then? "Straitened", boys, "straitened")
Huh? Now I know something about the life of central Reading after dark, because (a) I used to take part in some of it from time to time when I lived there and (b) for six years I lived on Minster Street in central Reading. Basher's post seems to indicate that he and the other street pastors (whom he calls "my team", the impertinence) were there to learn how the night-time economy works in central Reading. And there was me thinking they ought to know that already or they are not safe to be let out, and they ought to be there to help. I wish the initiative well, and I hope they find a way to stop it being hijacked for an election stunt, and that Basher, who is free with his fists both at home and when he is out, doesn't punch anybody - though there is a history of Park ward candidates getting punched, hmmm, though usually it is Labour's hired thugs doing the punching. Ah, I see, that is why they kicked out bog-brush-head Merriott as their candidate, not as I thought because she had outstayed her usefulness, but because she is not known for violent behaviour and they wanted someone who is. If Basher knocks your door, don't invite him in. It isn't safe.

Friday, 23 October 2009


I just had to reproduce this post from Mr Salter's site here: and in view of its amazing content a little light fisking is called for:

Salter Represents UK at Stockholm Conference on Human Trafficking

no he doesn't. If he had he would have had to be sent there by the Queen.

Reading West MP, Martin Salter, last week flew to Stockholm in his capacity as a Member of the Home Affairs Select Committee to represent the British Parliament at the annual Inter-parliamentary Conference of Justice and Home Affairs Committees which was hosted by the Swedish EU Presidency.

Manage to find the terminal for Stockholm? Foreign travel not being your thing unless it is to Canada or India. Although come to think of it plenty of Swedish people go fishing, I went to Stockholm by sea in 2006 and I saw them doing it - pack your rod when you went?

The theme of the conference was “a balanced approach to legal security and combating organised crime, with a special focus on trafficking for sexual purposes”.
The conference heard presentations from the Head of the EU’s Organised Crime Unit, the Swedish Chancellor of Justice, the Head of the Swedish National Police and specialists in anti-trafficking work.

and what about the committees represented there, presumably from EU member state parliaments? What contribution did you make, Mr Salter, on behalf of the committee you were there to represent, or indeed on behalf of the country you have said you were there to represent?

Sweden has particularly tough laws which make it a criminal offence to seek sexual services from people who have been trafficked and which deliberately to set out to criminalise the customers as well as those working in the sex industry.

It does indeed, what UK perspective, or indeed Select Committee view, is there on these matters that you were able to share with the meeting? And in what language? To be fair, I imagine that English was one of the languages used by the meeting, and that interpretation services were available. Is your speech published on a website? Are translations available that I might share with my French colleagues who have an interest in these matters?

Martin Salter said:
“This was my first EU trip in nearly thirteen years in Parliament

Shame on you. For a number of years all back bench MPs have had the opportunity to visit other EU countries to inform themselves about how things are done there, to meet parliamentarians and government from those countries, and generally to learn. Was fishing in India more fun?

and I found it absolutely fascinating.

Jolly good. Tell us more. Johnny Foreigner friendly? You once referred to Latvia, which is a little to the south and east of Sweden, as "far-flung", even though British men go there for stag nights. They would go to Stockholm too if it were cheaper. Reindeer meatballs? IKEA? In what did this fascination lie?

The conference highlighted the very real differences in approach to complex and difficult issues such as prostitution and human trafficking with the tough line of Sweden being in marked contrast to the more relaxed attitude prevalent in countries such as Holland, Denmark and Luxembourg. Personally I found myself more inclined towards the Swedish position as it seems to me that if prostitution is to remain illegal then the customers cannot remain immune from prosecution.

OK, your personal view is what it is, but was the conference there to hear your personal views?

I also see the sense in trying to limit demand

Limit demand for sex workers' services? What? Bromide in the tea, government issue? Men to be placed under curfew? What nonsense!

reduce opportunities for criminal gangs to profit from the obscene trade in trafficking human beings for sexual purposes”

and the proposals you put forward for this on behalf of the UK Parliament's Home Affairs Select committee were what exactly? Do tell.

BTW, the late Stieg Larsson wrote a splendid trilogy with the above as a theme, and it is an unputdownable read in both the English and the French translations if you cannot read Swedish, find it here

Thursday, 22 October 2009

climate change? can't be bothered

that was what last night's vote was about, but Mr. Salter, a vice-chair of the Labour Party in Parliament for the environment, had something else to do. Writing a strongly worded letter and getting his picture in the Evening Post perhaps?

a racist party

has been given a platform for its spokesperson to be heard in London. Disgraceful, you might say. I would not. Free speech is an important issue. Oh, and the BNP are to be represented by Nick Griffin on the BBC's programme for smug people, Question Time, tonight. There is to be a demonstration led by Ken Livingstone and Peter Hain. Ken it was who gave the racist party its platform (Hamas, if you needed to ask). Oh dear.

basher on the street

here is Basher McKenzie telling us he likes living in Park ward. Er, jolly good. And that qualifies him to be a councillor for it precisely how? He doesn't tell us. He does tell us that he is a street pastor. This means going out into the streets and trying to be helpful. Sounds like quite a good thing to do actually. But why do politicians have to be pictured, especially if they are (a) not Christians or churchgoers (step forward Bet Tickner and Gul Khan) and (b) candidates for election? If I were the organisation behind the street pastors I would take a dim view of being hijacked for an election in this way. And why do you think Park activist Rob White was not invited to the launch of the initiative, hein? Anyway, Basher also tells us that he has been kayaking, and that he likes it. I hope he hasn't told Mr Salter, who has sworn to destroy canoeists and all their works. Split alert!

btw, the Reading East MP has set up an award for Lollipop Person of the Year, or something like that. I wonder if Basher has been nominated?

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

it's always the same old faces

that you don't see voting in the House when that is part of what they get their salary to do - a division last night here - what could have been more important, Mr Salter? A photocall in Reading East? At ten o'clock on a Tuesday night?

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

tokenism - that's a long word, isn't it, children?

here, in His Master's Voice (so it must be true) is the story that Labour in Reading has selected an Asian woman for the first time. Yep, looks like it. They won't select anyone of that persuasion in a marginal (I remember the outrage when Redlands ward went its own way and selected Rajinder Sohpal, when it was a Labour marginal - Rajinder went on to serve several terms as a successful Labour councillor - now of course Redlands is LibDem following Mr Singleton-White's triumph with the fraud, but that is another story) but Bobbie has been selected in Caversham, which of course is not marginal, it is a Tory seat and she is effectively a paper candidate. Caversham has lost the Labour councillors it had when Reading East had a Labour MP, and will not have them back, pity most of the ones it had then were idle (take a bow, S. Waite), duplicitous (step forward, Kathryn Peak) or spineless (we thank you, Susan Stainthorp, who followed hubby when he sold his vote). So, Bobbie, sorry and all that, but you are joining Anneliese in being required to do what Mr Salter tells you to do, and make sure you stand at the back in photocalls. From what I know about you (not that much, but I remember you) you deserve a lot better.

the Barcelona Disputation

no, me neither. Here's Harry's Place on the subject. Blimey. What with that and Bob Dylan releasing a Christmas album - well, we live in strange times.

en greve

the French railways are on strike today, ho hum

so are Servisair, who look after a number of airlines including easyjet and Air Maroc. French workers go on strike All The Time, though oddly they are the least unionised in Europe, and they do it with style. They kidnap the bosses sometimes, obviously they drive sheep along the Champs Elysees, that's old hat, but I was taken by Servisair. They arrived at the checkout desks at Orly airport on the baggage conveyor belt, dancing and singing, then they danced on the checkout desks, grabbed the luggage labels and tore them up and scattered them as confetti over the heads of the people trying to check in, some of whom were disarmed by the spectacle.

Their performance was clearly influenced by the video for the current Charlie Winston hit "In Your Hands", which is set in a dole office, (you'll have to paste this link to watch it, sorry)

and which in its turn was influenced by the 1997 British film "The Full Monty", which is about a group of unemployed male workers in Sheffield who turn to stripping:

now that's the kind of multiculturalism I like

Monday, 19 October 2009

sugar rush

finally, as a result of prompting by this blog and others, the fraudster's friend speaks out on the "deception" practised on Reading Buses:

Stuart Singleton-White, who chairs Reading Transport, said: “It is completely unacceptable that both the board of Reading Buses and the council have been deceived over the type of bio-ethanol fuel that has been used over the past year.”

Mr S S-W's "consultancy" work on behalf of various companies involved in "environmental" stuff is well known. Let us hope that he has removed the link to the company which supplied the fraudulent fuel to the bus company of which is he is chairman from his own company's website - or things would start to look a bit bad, wouldn't they?

Sunday, 18 October 2009

oh, Sir Thomas!

Sir Thomas Legg, that is (sounds like a late medieval poet to me) or "Tom" as he signs his letter to me, dated 12th October and received on 17th October. He confirms that his review looked at the Additional Costs Allowance during the years 2004-05 to 2008-09, for the first of which years I was a Member of Parliament. He states:

"In your case, having examined the records in the light of my interpretation of the rules and standards in force at the time, I have not identified any payments made to you under the ACA during the review period which I consider call for any repayment or further supporting evidence to be provided by you. Accordingly, my conclusion is that no action is required from you."

So there it is. Mr Salter misunderstood the review and has been bragging that he has not received a letter. He will have received one by now.

Friday, 16 October 2009

oh no, John, no John, no

here is a picture of Labour candidate for Reading East Anneliese Dodds in (probably) Church ward, Reading, with Labour candidate for that ward Malcolm Powers. Unfortunately however the picture as it appears on the Dodds website is tagged "Northumberland Road shops". "Avenue", Anneliese and Malcolm, "Northumberland Avenue". Sigh. this is not how to get people to vote for you, boy and girl.

but the fraudster's friend is nowhere to be seen

a fab little story emerges that Reading Buses, the council-owned company which bought a bunch of hugely expensive buses it said were worth having because they ran on sustainable biofuel from the UK, has been conned, and sold buses which run on, er, some other fuel, imported from Sweden. As various commentators are saying, this does not reflect well on the Labour Group, which is known for having over-cosy relations with certain commercial entities and has been for a long time. Back when the bus company was chaired by Cllr T. Page (Lab, Reading East 2005, failed), there was much trumpeting, usually from Cllr Page in the Reading Evening Post, about the all-round stonking sustainable fabness of said company. Cllr Page no longer chairs the company's board, but it is still he from whom we hear. The company's board is currently chaired by - ta-da! Stuart Singleton-White, the fraudster's friend! Pictured left reminiscing about his days in the Navy trashing Argies for Her Majesty. Stuart, where are you? Stuart, Stuart, come back and talk to us! We won't ask you why you said voting fraud in Redlands ward was OK! We won't ask how you knew exactly how much fraud there was! Promise! Talk buses to us Chalky!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

now he needs a fraudster's friend

this from Mr Salter's website today:

Mr Salter said:-
“It was hardly surprising that Mr Legg found nothing untoward regarding my claims as I have never sought to bill the tax payer for a second home in London.

Oh yes he has.

Update 18th October: My attention has been drawn (thank you) to my own linguistic inexactitude and to the corresponding linguistic rigour displayed by Mr Salter. Indeed, his statements reproduced above is the unvarnished truth, and mine is a calumny. In fact of course he never has sought to bill the tax payer for a second home in London, because as he rightly says he has never had such a home. No, the 40K+ that the taxpayer did fork out paid not for a London home but for Mr Salter's fishing holidays and general lifestyle, not least the deposit on his large house in Tilehurst.

For four years, until in 2001 MPs were required to produce rental or mortgage agreements, which he could not do as he had been claiming for a property in London which did not exist. This is fraud. It is criminal. I watched him fill in the claim forms. I showed him how to fill them in at the beginning. More than 40K over those four years.

Criminal fraudster scumbag.

And rubbish politician. If he had kept quiet and not gone all over the media shouting about expenses no-one would have noticed the fraud. Even if he gets away with it because nobody can be bothered to subpoena the House of Commons' payroll records from 1997-2001 for Mr Salter, by his own venality he has helped to show up the Labour Party as a haven for fraudsters. Which outside Reading mostly it is not. Well done Mr Salter.

the shipyard boys

I have family in Barrow in Furness, where my grandmother was from, and until she died in 2002 I used to go there about once a year. Most of the time the constituency of Barrow and Furness has had a Labour MP, and in recent years it has been John Hutton, who is frankly unimpressive, but he is standing down so that is another story, which certainly will be told. Former West Lancashire MP ColinPickthall has drawn attention to apparent fixing of the selection process for the next Labour candidate in favour of somebody called Woodcock. Colin ought to know. He was in Labour politics in the north-west, close to Barrow, for a long time. I think Colin is a good man and a man of integrity. So obviously he had to be got rid of. Here is what Alex Hilton had to say on the subject.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

so that's a f*** off then

from the Speaker in yesterday's Hansard

Let me first say to the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Paul Farrelly) that I think that he has just made representations. I am grateful to him for his point of order and for courteously giving me advance notice of it. A written question has indeed been tabled, as he said, by the hon. Gentleman himself. It is not sub judice under the House’s rules. It has already been published on the notices of questions, and it is also available on the Order Paper and, indeed, on the parliamentary website. There is no question of our own proceedings being in any way inhibited. If the hon. Gentleman wants to pursue this as a matter of privilege, there is of course, as he will doubtless know, an established procedure for raising it with me in writing. Furthermore, I now understand that an injunction is no longer being sought. I hope that that reply is helpful both to the hon. Gentleman and to the House.

so there Carter-Ruck

he won't be driving a camper van

as Dutch travellers everywhere seem to, for sure. No, far-right politician Geert Wilders has won his appeal against the ban on his visiting the UK. Good. Hein?

who's that girl?

Nasty Naz posted the picture below on his non-interactive "blog", about his visit to the Alan Place, Reading, residents' association shindig. He names Cllr John Ennis, who is (a) on the right in the picture and (b) Salter's lackey with no discernible integrity, and otherwise only refers to himself (I believe it is he, second from left) and "residents". However, I feel I must point out to Nasty that on the left of the picture is Alan Place resident (last time I looked), former Labour councillor and possibly the best Labour mayor Reading has ever had, apart from David Geary of course, Rose Williams. Why didn't you mention her, Nasty? Huh? Oh, of course, she is only a GIRL.


Yes I know this is wikipedia, but it was the best I could do on a busy morning.

The Streisand effect is an Internet phenomenon where an attempt to censor or remove a piece of information backfires, causing the information to be publicized widely and to a greater extent than would have occurred if no censorship had been attempted. Examples of such attempts include censoring a photograph, a number, a file, or a website (for example via a cease-and-desist letter). Instead of being suppressed, the information receives extensive publicity, often being widely mirrored across the Internet, or distributed on file-sharing networks.[1][2]
1 Origin
2 Examples
3 See also
4 References
5 External links
[edit] Origin
Mike Masnick originally coined the term Streisand effect in reference to a 2003 incident in which Barbra Streisand sued photographer Kenneth Adelman and for US$50 million in an attempt to have the aerial photograph of her house removed from the publicly available collection of 12,000 California coastline photographs, citing privacy concerns.[1][3][4] Adelman stated that he was photographing beachfront property to document coastal erosion as part of the California Coastal Records Project.[5] As a result of the case, public knowledge of the picture increased substantially and it became popular on the Internet, with more than 420,000 people visiting the site over the next month.[6]
[edit] Examples
In April 2007, an attempt at blocking an AACS key from being published on Digg caused uproar when cease-and-desist letters demanded that the code be removed from several high-profile Web sites. This led to the key's proliferation across other web sites and chat rooms, in various formats, with one commentator describing it as having become "the most famous number on the Internet". Within a month, the key had been reprinted on over 280,000 pages, and had appeared in a song on YouTube which had been played over 45,000 times.[7][8][9]
In April 2007, Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, was portrayed with feet superimposed over his head, an act extremely offensive to many Thai people, in a video posted by a YouTube user named "Padidda". The Thai government banned the site for lèse majesté, and many other YouTube users responded by posting other clips even more offensive to Bhumibol, leading to tens of thousands of views.[9]
In September 2006, video clips portraying paparazzi footage of Brazilian television personality Daniela Cicarelli having sex with her boyfriend on a beach in Spain were uploaded to YouTube. Court injunctions, which culminated in the temporary blocking of YouTube in Brazil, proved unsuccessful in preventing the spread of the video.[9]
On December 5, 2008, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) added the Wikipedia article Virgin Killer to a child pornography blacklist, considering the album's cover art "a potentially illegal indecent image of a child under the age of 18".[10][11] The article quickly became one of the most popular pages on the site,[12] and the publicity surrounding the censorship resulted in the image being spread across other sites.[13] The IWF were later reported on the BBC News website to have said "IWF's overriding objective is to minimise the availability of indecent images of children on the Internet, however, on this occasion our efforts have had the opposite effect".[14] This effect was also noted by the IWF in their statement about the removal of the URL from the black list.[15][16]
In early April 2008, The Church of Scientology's unsuccessful attempts to get Internet websites to delete a video of Tom Cruise speaking about Scientology resulted in the creation of Project Chanology.[17][11][18][19] Similarly, the church attempted to remove a series of Operating Thetan (OT) document leaks from Wikileaks. Wikileaks responded by vowing to "release several thousand additional pages of Scientology material next week".[20]
In September 2009, the Photoshop Disasters blog posted an advertisement from Polo Ralph Lauren that contained a heavily manipulated image of a female model. The post was subsequently reprinted by BoingBoing[21]. Ralph Lauren issued DMCA takedown notices to BoingBoing's ISP and Blogspot, which hosts Photoshop Disasters, claiming their use of the image infringed copyright. Blogspot complied, but BoingBoing's ISP consulted with BoingBoing and agreed that the image was fair use. As a result, BoingBoing issued a mocking rebuttal[22], using the same image again and posting the takedown notice. The rebuttal was widely reported, including on frequently viewed websites such as The Huffington Post[23] and ABC News.[24]
On 12 October 2009, Trafigura instructed Carter-Ruck solicitors to seek an injunction preventing The Guardian newspaper from publishing a parliamentary question relating to the 2006 Côte d'Ivoire toxic waste dump scandal. The Guardian published a brief story about the injunction which led bloggers and others to track down the story and it was widely republished across the internet, became the top trending topic on Twitter and led to further questions in Parliament[25][26]