Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Pride is often expressed in the tolerance and fairness of British society. That way can lie complacency, it is true. But wasn't it right for Britain to shelter American film directors and others who could no longer work in the US because they were or had been communists, or were thought to have been? Remember that even in those times there was a US Communist Party (I think it still exists today) and you did not go to prison for being a member of it. And if it was right then why is it also right today to deny employment to people on the grounds of their political beliefs?
Here in France holocaust denial is a crime, which it is not in the UK. The comedian Dieudonne, who has expressed such views and has publicly supported the Front National, is not however banned from working (though I have never seen him on mainstream TV, perhaps I am watching the wrong channels). Dieudonne is black. So it all starts getting complicated. Let's have laws against incitement to racial hatred, and let's have public servants dismissed if they break them. Let's not allow teachers to indoctrinate their pupils politically (it happened all the time when I was going to school). Let's make the BNP comply with UK laws by not restricting membership to whites (there is all kinds of nonsense on their website about the Norse Folk, you have to go to Iceland to find them chaps these days), which the Front National has to do here.
My sister had a teacher at primary school who was a Jehovah's Witness and who terrified some of the children with her proselytising. I submit that teacher should have been disciplined, instructed never to express their own religious views in class again, and allowed to continue working - if they did not comply then they should have been dismissed. In fact what happened back then (the 1960s) is that sympathetic noises were made to worried parents, the possibly traumatised children were ignored or not believed, and the teacher carried on working. But I still think that banning Jehovah's Witnesses from working in schools would be wrong.
Where are the old certainties? Give me Stalin and St Paul, as the man once sang - go on tell, me who sang that.
Monday, 29 June 2009
in His Master's Voice, so it must be true
actually it doesn't quote Salter, he went on the broadcast media later
hat-tip Rik Willis
Yes I know it is the vile Independent, but Simon Carr has always been able to write, and it is worth reading.
Interesting that Salter has allegedly developed a drink problem since 2005 - he did not have one before, cannabis was his drug of choice. I wonder why?
Sunday, 28 June 2009
tells us that Europe's only wild hamster lives around these parts and that France has been bad for not protecting it. It lives on what grows, and has traditionally been grown, around here, cabbages, lucerne etc, but increasingly they grow maize which is lucrative but not liked by hamsters. I have a hamster living with me now and she is called Pauline and is not an Alsace but a Russian one and is very pretty, but not very sociable, however that is the way of hamsters.
What is to be done? (As Lenin once asked).
Saturday, 27 June 2009
In its fifth paragraph the Times leader raises practical difficulties arising from the wearing of the burka: you can't properly drive a car or practise medicine; it impairs trust. Well, if these claims are true, then driving a car and practising medicine can be made conditional on not wearing a burka. And if someone behaves towards you or me in a way that impairs trust, we can make it plain what we think of their doing so by telling them.
The conclusion of the whole piece is the following:
An absolute ban on the burka is unnecessary and unenforceable. But civic education and religious debate... are the best way to consign to the dark ages this symbol of darkness.
Exactly so - except that non-religious debate is just as pertinent. The seeming reservations that were expressed here towards Mill's principles don't really come to anything when all is said and done.
Personally I find the sight of covered women offensive, and if I had children at school would object publicly to their being taught by a covered woman; I would also refuse to have medical treatment, or otherwise deal in the public services, with a covered woman. On the grounds that personal communication is necessary in these roles, and for that you need to see the person's face. If a woman feels the need to be covered she should stay out of public life. However whether I am personally offended or not is neither here nor there. Causing offence is often a good thing, and is never a reason for not doing something. So Sarkozy (whom I admire as a politician) is wrong about this, as France was wrong to ban the hijab in schools. Though it has to be said that here in Strasbourg I have seen many women and girls with the hijab or something like it, but never a burka-covered woman. I saw such women often in south London when I lived there, they may have been Somali (though how could you tell without seeing their faces) and often their male relatives, if accompanying them, were wearing crotch-hugging trousers and revealing chest hair with accompanying nestling medallions. Offensive on several counts.
Note that he says he is trying to decide which council seat to accept. Pitiful stuff really. "Select me or I'll punch your teeth down your throat"? He's done it before.
Lollipop man Richard McKenzie, who wants the taxpayer to pay his mortgage and living costs and the costs to the NHS of his violent activities, while he goes to a university now that he cannot find anyone to employ him. This going to happen?
Friday, 26 June 2009
On a slightly different note, a correspondent writes:
I read that Rethink has published a survey reporting that 11% of MPs have suffered from personal mental health problems, and as I know you have been accused of somehting along those lines by the bigoted Reading Labour boys maybe I can encourage you to help lift the stigma against mental health problems in general by commenting from a position of knowledge of the stresses entailed in the job.
Yeah, it's a stressful job. But so is cleaning offices (and I have done that too, many years ago) and so is teaching (which I have done more recently). And both of those pay less. And depression has very little to do with the kind of job you do. Fortunately I don't suffer from it. The correspondent was writing to me about a BBC report which mentions among other things that the Norwegian prime minister "admitted" suffering from depression and was still re-elected!
here is a piece from Mr Salter's website about the stonking fabness of his activities on the "Select Committee on Reform of the House of Commons". He has been elected to this committee, he informs us. However, the parliamentary website lists no such committee. It lists Mr Salter as a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee. There is a Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons, of which Mr Salter is not listed as a member. Perhaps he would care to explain this strange business to us - the phantom Select Committee which does not exist and does not meet (according to the calendar of meetings on the parliamentary website) but which none the less has done sterling work in persuading the Prime Minister to reform the Commons, at the instigation of Mr Salter. Or is this a gaffe by the overpaid Public Impact Ltd (prop. John Howarth, remember "Your Better Off With Labour")?
Oh and those who have seen fit to inform me that "the media" agree with Cllr Tony Page (see strapline) should remember that this blog is part of "the media" and that newspapers, like the almost-defunct Reading Evening Post, are a small and discredited part of "the media". However, the Reading Evening Post may well agree with Cllr Tony Page about all manner of things. I look forward to their articles on the subject.
Thursday, 25 June 2009
Yesterday Mr Bercow's campaign manager, beery Martin Salter (Lab, Reading W), tried to cement his young man in place by saying: 'Mr Squeaker, it gives me particular pleasure to welcome you as our new reforming Squeaker.' He went on to say that 'the whole House should now get behind you'.
While Mr Salter was saying this there were groans and laughs from the Opposition. I heard someone make pretend retching sounds. When Mr Salter proceeded to ask a long question - longer than others were allowed - people shouted 'Speech!'. In other words: tell your mate Salter to shut up, Bercow.
by the estimable Quentin Letts of course
Saturday, 20 June 2009
Monday, 15 June 2009
Have you ever been taken up in some great wave of popular feeling and then towards the end had a sudden change of perspective that overturns everything? In the latest London Review of Books, Jonathan Raban writes about the MPs' expenses scandal. Viewing it from Seattle, he makes the interesting point that it isn't about expenses, it's about allowances. The Fees office colludes with MPs to help them claim an extra £23,000 or so that they can receive on top of salaries. This originates in the Thatcher era, I think, when the public wasn't minded to pay MPs more so the way round was to award an extra allowance. The expenses are therefore a fiction - it is only necessary to put together some more or less plausible list of spending that equalled the total one might claim as an allowance.This changes things, although it doesn't really excuse anything. It becomes a conspiracy against the public by the whole political class, to raise MPs' salaries by stealth. The items claimed as expenses turn out indeed to be just a joke. But it's a bad system because it is a deception (which has a corrupting influence) and because London MPs can't join in the game.Ever wished you were better informed? The whole Brown debacle is interesting for the way it is reported -- all the minutiae of the events, but no explanation of why it is turning out this way. The important thing to grasp, I think, is Brown's staggering inability as a team leader, his cultivation of factionalism (is Balls really as awful as he appears), and the real choices: will picking a new last-minute leader save anyone's seat, or would it just have the result of ending the new leader's career just as it began? The political reporting over here is dire -- it's just a soap opera, with Caroline Flint (who I reckon has been a competent minister) flouncing out -- but she was manoeuvred into a declaration of loyalty, and then abandoned. Loyalty is a two-way thing, you know.
Sunday, 14 June 2009
Saturday, 13 June 2009
Does this mean that Mr Salter was not at the Nasty Naz selection meeting today? I think we should be told.
organised by Tony Page we hear
I had forgotten TP lived in Reading West - the constituency boundary goes down the middle of Castle Hill
happy campaigning Naz
I do not think many of your erstwhile colleagues in Waltham Forest (a borough I have worked in and know something about) will be coming along to campaign for you from what they tell me
Con Gain Reading W
Anyway, some people have been trying to post a story on this blog about my alleged claiming of parliamentary expenses (it's a long time ago boys, get over it) for a "palatial" property in Reading. I have let one such remark through and posted that it is a lie, which it is. But I know their ways. So if you have been told anything of the sort it is not true. During my eight years in Parliament I claimed Additional Costs Allowance for a flat in London. I had a flat in London during those years. I don't now. End of story. Mr Salter however claimed £1000 a month between 1997 and 2001 for a flat in London he did not have, and used the money to go fishing in India and Canada, and he now has a rather fine large property in Tilehurst on the proceeds. Nice if you can get it. And he can't say it was within the rules because it was not.
Friday, 12 June 2009
Thursday, 11 June 2009
Tuesday, 9 June 2009
going to see marches in Reading calling for the killers to be brought to justice? Mr Salter at the forefront of a campaign? fundraising launch for his family? Anyone? (sound of tumbleweed blowing down a deserted street).
Friday, 5 June 2009
update: the following is an extract from Mr S's Westminster Diary:
First of all can I say thank you to all those people who have been emailing or calling my office, urging me to reconsider my decision to stand down at the next election after 25 years in public life in Reading. Whilst I appreciate all the kind things that have been said, I’m afraid my mind is made up. I’m very much looking forward to the next chapter in my life and to using what skills and experience I’ve amassed to benefit the work of a national charity.
Which charity is going to make him Chief Executive? I do hope it is not the one my niece has rather an important job in. Anyone got intelligence or suggestions?
Thursday, 4 June 2009
Notice too that Mr Salter talks only about Reading East. Either there is no issue with pedlars in his constituency, in which case he should have talked in general terms about the issue and about Reading Borough Council's position, or he has chosen to ignore the issue in his own constituency. But twas ever thus.
Mr Salter denied a letter was being circulated among Labour MPs seeking signatures to call for Gordon Brown to step down as Labour leader.
"I've not seen any letter being circulated and I've run a fair number of campaigns on the backbenches of the Labour party," he said.He added that rather than removing Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister should be given space to tackle the problems facing the country."We've got a man at the helm at the moment and whatever his unpopularity, [he] is best placed to see us through the economic problems," he said. "We've got to give him the space to do that. I'm sure people will reassess their position in the autumn."
Leaving aside the odd phrase "campaigns on the backbenches of the Labour Party" (what does that mean?) and the bizarre use of participles ("rather than removing Gordon Brown, the prime Minister should") and that it was an email not a letter, are we to understand that if Mr Salter says something is not happening then it is not happening? I hopped briefly on to Sky News last night myself, and while I did not hear the above words I did see Mr Salter, shown for some reason kissing Jacqui Smith. Whatever is going on? Liked Hazel's brooch by the way, maybe the Labour Party will start selling a line of those, like the alleged ice-pick earrings there used to be when the Trots were being hammered. Maybe.
Wednesday, 3 June 2009
These figures "relate to the total claimed from the Additional Costs Allowance (from which the cost of staying away from the main home can be made) in 2001/2 and 2002/3". The reply concludes "No other information is held."
Oh yes it f***ing is. Payroll records are held. From 1997 to 2001 I claimed a total of approximately £12,000 a year (the allowances were a bit lower in those years) - all those amounts were in respect of having a place to stay in London - obviously if I had had no place to stay in London I could not have claimed the allowance, because that would have been fraudulent.
Dismayed, because the information is publicly available if you follow this link, as the reply indicates : it says "this has been taken from the data previously published on the Parliamentary website and therefore already in the public domain" - so how much did it cost the public purse for whichever f***wit without the nous to download the information from there and remind the public of its existence on their own website or by other means to request the House to send me a two-page paper letter here in France, with the opportunity to comment on it or to question officers of the House about it, which I shall not do as the information is correct and I have supplemented it, see above? Just how much?
As a clue to the identity of the questioner I shall reproduce the request as sent to me by the House authorities, as follows:
"Please could you provide me with the following information:
The total amount of public money provided to the ex-MP Jane Griffiths between the years 1997 and 2002 for the purpose of providing a home in London."
May I for ease of reference remind readers that Mr Salter supported a Tory Bill which if passed would have permitted MPs' correspondence to be exempted from the Freedom of Information Act. Fortunately the Government saw sense and refused to support such pernicious nonsense.
I hope all the above is helpful to those seeking transparency in these matters. Those who might be interested in the prudent use of public funds I fear will have no audience here.
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
Reading West's Martin Salter, who never claimed a second-home allowance – he commutes, like many of his constituents – had previously decided to stand down. Now supporters are urging him to change his mind.
He doesn't claim it now. But he did from 1997 to 2001. For a non-existent London property. Because you could then. Except that others didn't. Because it's fraudulent. Come on then "supporters" - let's hear it from you. Mr Howarth?
Let's think about this. The selection process in Reading West for Labour has already begun. A short list has been drawn up. The final hustings take place a week on Saturday. Potential candidates like Nasty Naz and Dangerous Denise have presumably put some effort into this. Can Mr Salter have that whole process called off just because he fancies it? Does he have to seek to insert himself on to the short list as the sitting MP (under the rules you can do this, although you need to have previously stated in writing your intention to stand)? Or what? Is Patsy Powers going to change the rules for him? Would Nasty Naz and Dangerous Denise sue? Huh. It's all bollocks.
But then it was in the Guardian.
Hey ho, hey ho, it's off to vote we go.
a ragbag of Gypsy-bating, gay-bashing outcasts
She been to a Reading Labour Group meeting lately?
update: I have now seen a picture of the Mebyon Kernow bloke, presumably issued by the LibDems to show that their epithet was factual.