Monday, 24 August 2009

back to normal!

Mr Salter reassures us by returning to his normal routine after, shock horror, posing in Reading West with Nasty Naz (who has updated his website after having some idiocies on it pointed out by bloggers, who are all working against democracy, as Mr S informs us). Yes, here he is back in Reading East. What do readers think about Unite Against Fascism, which backed the Reading East gig?

Oh and Cllr Tony Jones is giving us the clearest hints yet that he may stand as an independent in Reading West. He is portraying this as an anti-Tory move, but it would be the Reading Labour boys who would want to stop him standing. They want a Tory MP in Reading West, as they did in Reading East where they worked hard to make that happen. Cllr Jones should check his car brakes and look behind him on dark nights.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Denise Headley has defected to the Conservatives, no doubt as a result of this spate of deselections.
ConservativeHome's Local Government Blog: Cllr Denise Headley (Labour, Edmonton Green) is defecting
Source: conservativehome.blo...

Cllr Headley's statement: "This has not been an easy decision for me to take. I have been a member of the Labour Party for many..."


Surprised boys?
Never mind, it's coming soon, years and years of WHITE BOY OPPOSITION! Huzzah!

not in my name

I am not Scottish, but still - Tom Harris MP, who is (Scottish I mean) has written an excellent post condemning the release of the Lockerbie bomber al-Megrahi, who has returned to a hero's welcome in Libya, predictably. This was a shabby deal to ensure that he dropped his appeal against his conviction for the terrorist murder of 270 people - many of the Lockerbie victims' families believe that there was more to come out about the perpetrators of that terrorist outrage in 1988. Be that as it may, as Tom Harris and others have said, this decision was wrong for justice and wrong for compassion. If al-Megrahi cannot be treated for his prostate cancer in prison in Scotland then that is an indictment of the health care available in Scottish prisons, and the Scottish health minister, whose name temporarily escapes me, should resign. Some have speculated on what this piece of crassness by the Scottish Justice Minister, who I believe is called Kenny McAskill (I've never been able to take seriously anyone called Kenny - Kenneth Williams was Kenneth and never Kenny) might do to UK-US relations. I don't think they need to worry. I watched President Obama on the subject on TV this morning (his voice penetrates the French voice-over better than anyone else's) and he was very clear that it was the government of Scotland which was responsible for that decision. Perhaps there will be US boycotts of shortbread and tartan. Perhaps.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

the election will not be televised

or, it's campaigning, Jim, but not as we know it

Steve Richards, writing his monthly column in the New Statesman (a mag I subscribed to for over 20 years until I had to sue them for defamatory comments, but that is another story), gets it spectacularly right it seems to me, have a read here. But I was aghast to read there that Gordon Brown starts his working day by reading the newspapers! What world are the helmsmen of the nation living in? No wonder he seems so bonkers. It's not there you look for political intelligence Gordo. YouTube will have a story all around the world before the Guardian has got its (filthy) boots on.

have they all gone mad?

according to this story the East Midlands Labour Party has suspended a member who, according to him, went to a hotel with another member not his wife or partner and did not have sex with her, according to her they did have sex, no suggestion from either party that there was anything non-consensual about it, his wife took a dim view when she found out, as well she might, and he has been booted out of the party? Idiots. Oh, but read on in the story and you find a mention of "long-standing divisions". In the Labour Party? Shurely shome mishtake. So just when it gets interesting the story ends. Hmmm. Of course in Reading nothing like this would ever happen. No councillor would be publicly condemned by the then Labour leader of the council, local librarian Dave "moronic members of the public" Sutton, for misdemeanours the public was never told about, and booted out of the Labour Group for crimes no-one would talk about, in a disgraceful failure of leadership if the "story" was true, and in an even more disgraceful probably racist piece of bullying if it was not.

In the name of God, go.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

listen, why don't you

Hat-tip Mike Smithson (Political Betting) for this picture of Alan Johnson and Gordon Brown, which, well, speaks, as they say, volumes. Tea at the European Parliament (travel expenses not included) for the best caption.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Kim Dae-jung

has died. The BBC obituary is quite fair really. Kim was a hero to me in the 1980s because of his fight for Korean democracy - South Korea only came out of military dictatorship in 1987. I was once attacked and robbed at a rally for him, in Inchon, South Korea, in 1987 (there were presidential elections in December that year) because people in the crowd thought I was American. Foolhardy to go there, with hindsight. But that didn't put me off Kim. Anyway, for those who don't remember, he eventually became president of his country, supported democracy and reunification with the North, and stepped down of his own accord, as all the best leaders of their countries do (Wilson, Blair). Oh yes.

Monday, 17 August 2009

a top girl

is Anne McIntosh MP in my opinion - so naturally enough they are after deselecting her. Anne Main saw them off in the marginal St Albans, because the constituency association members would rather have an MP of their own party, unlike of course the constituency Labour Party officers around the country. I hope Anne McIntosh gets through this too, though the new constituency in north Yorkshire is a safe Tory seat so the story is a bit different. Conservativehome reports it like this. Of course John Greenway MP
has already been deselected (effectively by Anne McIntosh) because of constituency boundaries, so it goes. I understand John has not been well lately, for which I am sorry, I also know of his reputation in the Council of Europe, and an excellent one it is - his activity for example with Amnesty International has brought him huge respect. However. this story is not about him but about Anne, who is a huge asset to Parliament, and an assiduous attender and voter there. We want you as a parliamentarian Anne.


I am having a technophobe Monday, but there is a rather well-intentioned little group here in France called Tryo, and their videos are always nice. This one is for their latest, "Dulce de leche" about a boy who leaves Chile in 1973 with his family, who become exiles in France, and his memories of his grandfather. It makes me cry. "Dulce de leche" translates into French as "confiture de lait", and is a sweet spread for bread, usually chocolate, much loved by children in the Hispanic world. While it is certainly called "dulce de leche" in Spain, I am informed that it has another name in Chile. Perhaps readers can help?

Nasty Naz

I have linked to his website, which does not seem to be updated very often. However I would congratulate Nasty on using a photograph of the Reading West railway bridge, and as far as I can tell it is taken from the correct side (the west), which is to be commended - Mr Salter continues to use pictures of Reading East on his website. Mr Nasty would do well to visit the constituency as often as possible, unlike Mr Salter, who spends his time in Reading East, and to refer to the constituency by name or by areas within it (eg Tilehurst, the Oxford Road, Kentwood Hill, Pangbourne) rather than talking about "Reading". Just a suggestion from a regular winner of elections in Reading...

Friday, 14 August 2009

deselection enquiry demanded

Operation Black Vote is incensed at mass deselections of Labour councillors happening in London at present. They include Denise Headley, who readers will recall was on the short list for Reading West earlier this year. Here she is:

This is not a surprise. The Labour Party is reverting to type. Desperate to blot out the memory of the Blair Years (boo hiss) when, er, we actually won elections and got quite a variety of people into Parliament and on to councils, they are getting rid of the GIRLIES and DARKIES and are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of years and years in opposition: endless meetings where white men shout at other white men. Yes, opposition. That's what you wanted all along, didn't you boys. Congratulations.

Thursday, 13 August 2009


I have seen Leonard Cohen live twice now, first last year in Lorrach, Germany, then last month in Liverpool, UK. I am going to see him again on Sunday, closer to home, at Colmar in this part of France, where he is playing at the Foire aux Vins, which started life as an agricultural show to showcase the regional winegrowers' produce just before the harvest, but now is as important as a music festival. They tell us ticket holders that "exceptionally" for this concert, which will be over three hours long, seating is to be provided for the audience. They know their demographic perhaps. When we arrived at the venue in Liverpool there were some people handing out flyers and asking us to boycott his show. Why, you might ask. Apparently because of this concert, which is in that place some f***ing tossers like to call "the Zionist entity" - we can't have him performing in front of DA JOOZ, even though he is himself - oh, never mind.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

you decide who has the more to offer

Angie Merkel (left) is exactly my age, we were born the same month. She doesn't usually show that much cleavage (or indeed any). No more do I. Not fitting once there is a possibility of tit-wrinkle in a certain light. You know what I mean girls, don't pretend you don't. I actually thought this ad ( the slogan means "We have more to offer", fnar fnar) was rather witty. Because it allowed whoever wanted to to make boob jokes. When the ad hadn't. So the sexist German men (I'm sure there must be some, despite appearances, they can't all be gay film directors or football commentators in bad suits who pretend to prefer commentating on the women's game) could do exactly that. But what interests me is the take on it of the likes of Iain Dale and other males on teh internetz, who wonder aloud what might be the consequences by contrast of some kind of lunchbox-package political advertising scenario featuring (for the sake of argument) D. Cameron Esquire versus - well, name your male pol cand. Not. Going. To. Happen. Dicks aren't funny. Ridiculous yes. But not funny. Not in politics. Too close to home for most candidates. So an opportunity has been seized here with both hands (arf, arf). Ay thang yew.

Anyway, who in German politics is going to benefit most from this ad, readers?

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Labour and Tories just the same? I think not

James Gray is the Tory MP for Wiltshire North who has fought off deselection attempts since his affair and marriage break-up came to light. I went to Mongolia with James Gray in 2003 and charming company he was. I still have somewhere a photograph of the two of us standing at the edge of the Gobi Desert. I am of an urban working-class background and so was not brought up with horses. I did ride one on that visit (it is more or less compulsory in Mongolia), cautiously, slowly, with someone else leading the horse. Mr Gray (whose father was the Moderator of the Church of Scotland) was much more confident, but was kicked by a horse on that visit. Sometimes confidence can be misplaced. Mr Gray also once rode a horse into the House of Commons entrance yard, which MPs still have the privilege to be allowed to do, and there were not a few female persons around the House who liked watching him do so. Now there is talk of a new deselection attempt, which has been briefed to the Telegraph. This passage in that story struck me:

A number of members of the local Conservative association agree and will write to David Cameron asking him to intervene in a constituency where Mr Gray is defending a 7,000 majority. "In this climate, post expenses, it's seat we could now lose," said a stalwart of the association. "We must act now."

The Conservative Party is every bit as keen on deselecting its MPs as the Labour Party is - Bob Spink sits now as an Independent because of just this - but for entirely different reasons. The Tories will do it, or try to, if they think their MP might lose them the seat, which they think they could hold with a different candidate. Labour will do it if their MP is a winner. After 12 years in government Labour still do not understand power, and they turn savagely on those who do. I wonder if they ever will.

Monday, 10 August 2009

a common strategy

it has been suggested that the Government's initative on preventing violent extremism unfairly targets Muslims, or leads them to believe they are being unfairly targeted. It is certainly true that the risk of terrorism and violent extremism comes from more than one quarter. So I welcome the New Local Government Network's statement, for which hat-tip David T at Harry's Place, which says in part:

a sensible anti-extremism strategy would bracket together groups like Jamaat-e-Islami and Hizb ut Tahrir with Socialist Action, the Socialist Workers Party, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, and the British National Party.

though I would differ in respect of the BNP, because it is a legally constituted political party. The Green Party contains a great many right-wing extremists but no-one is suggesting targeting them. However I would include for example Combat 18 and like groups.

What do readers think?

a new tax?

I have had this Reading Borough Council press release for a while, and as usual it announced a very brief consultation period, which has now closed, but this autumn there will be a decision on getting more money out of council tenants. First: what do readers think of this: Second: what do Reading's MPs think of it? Third: what do the two Labour parliamentary candidates think of it? Would love to know.

21/07/2009Reading Borough Council Press ReleaseResidents living in council flats are being urged to participate in a review of the way communal areas in their blocks are cleaned in the future. In 2006 Reading Borough Council - following consultation with tenants - agreed that it wished to retain and manage its general housing stock. The financial and business case that supported this decision was based on the introduction of charges for some services, such as communal lighting and cleaning. Most other local authorities and housing associations already charge for this. At some stage as part of the business plan Reading Borough Council will be deciding on a charging policy. In advance of that, the Council is keen to work with residents to ensure they are getting a good quality service and the right level of cleaning for their blocks. Working closely with tenants and leaseholders over the past 18 months as part of a comprehensive review, a set of three cleaning frequency bands have been identified. The proposal is to place each block into the relevant band so that people will know what level of cleaning they can expect. The three bands are: - Low Need: Small blocks (2 -12 flats) with low footfall and relatively few features to be cleaned. Average cleaning times would range between 15 minutes and 2 hours per week. - Medium Need: Low-rise blocks (6 - 12 flats) with higher footfall and possibly with a feature such as refuse lobbies, lift or waste chute. Average cleaning times ranging between 2hrs 15mins and 5hours a week. - High Need: Higher rise blocks (12 or more flats) and blocks which need a higher level of care due to the nature of the block, the locality and features that need more frequent attention like lifts, refuse lobbies or a foyer prone to blown litter. Average cleaning times varying from 10 to 50 hours a week. The majority of council blocks already fit into the appropriate cleaning band, however there are a number where the level of cleaning is either above or below the level of other flats of a similar size with similar communal facilities. Letters have been sent to residents living in council flats with details of blocks where the current level of cleaning means they do not fit into the appropriate band. If a block is not listed there are no proposals to make major changes to the level of cleaning. However, where a block is listed changes to the level of cleaning are being proposed. The Council is urging residents of these blocks to come forward and have their say. Questionnaires have been sent out with the letters. Residents are requested to return the completed questionnaire in the prepaid envelope by 24th August 2009. Alternatively, people can drop it in next time they are at the Civic Centre or a Housing Advice Shop. You can complete the questionnaire on line at There will also be a number of opportunities for people to attend a series of events where they can give feedback, find out more and ask any questions they may have. A number of drop-ins have been organised across estate areas over the coming weeks. These are being held at: -St Anne's Primary School, Washington Road Caversham, Monday July 27, 7pm -Lyon Square Advice Shop, Lyon Square Dee Park, Wednesday July 29, 7pm. -Southcote Advice Shop, Coronation Square, Southcote, Tuesday August 4, 7pm -Coley Community Centre, Wensley Road, Coley, Monday August 3, 7pm -Hexham Community Centre, Hexham Road, Whitley, Tuesday August 4, 7pm Reading Borough Council staff will also be door knocking and phoning residents to ensure they are fully up to speed on the proposals and to try and further gauge opinions. Reading Borough Council councillors are also being asked to come forward with any local knowledge so that this can be fed into the consultation process. Deborah Edwards, Lead Councillor for Housing at Reading Borough Council, said: 'I hope as many tenants of the flats as possible take an active part in this review and consultation. There are lots of opportunities to take part and comments and views will help to shape the service to people's needs and requirements. We want to be sure we are providing the right level of cleaning for each block." The results of this consultation are scheduled to go before a meeting of the Housing, Health and Community Care Scrutiny Panel in November, with proposals then going before a meeting of the Cabinet.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

invited guests

I think I might invite a guest to post here every now and again. The first one will be coming soon. But if you think you would like to post here then either send me a private email to or post a comment, telling me what interests you.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Blog Bust-Up! Yippee!

His Master's Voice, far too late as usual, reports Cllr Willis' exposure of Cllr Richard Stainthorp's barely literate email, and tries to represent the issue as a party political feud. Not so. Cllr Ballsdon, who was seeking signatures for the petition referred to, is a Thames Ward councillor: the road junction concerned is in Thames ward, and that is the ward in which Cllr Stainthorp happens to live. To my mind the most interesting part of this "story" is Cllr Stainthorp's remark that he would be careful about literacy if he were writing to a newspaper, but that "standards might slip" in emails, which are not for publication anyway. Oh yes they are if anyone feels like it. I've got some of yours Richard that you might not like seeing the light of day. He also says he does not read blogs and is "too busy" to write one. This is the Reading boys' line.

Cllr Stainthorp was about to be deselected from Battle ward when he was offered Katesgrove in exchange for his vote and those of his family in the Reading East selection. He is the man who sold his vote. His email to me on the subject said as the reason for changing his vote "I still want to be a councillor". But is he running away from the electorate of Katesgrove next May? Local blogs are saying he is.

Anyway, all of this is immense fun.

Georgia on my mind

The BBC reported on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Georgia a year ago quite reasonably, unlike some of its reports last year. A great many ethnic Georgians, getting on for 150,000, remain displaced, and it appears that ethnic South Ossetians who fled to Russia have been sent back. Please remember that South Ossetia asked to secede from Georgia (which it can do under Georgia's constitution) and join Russia - which refused. So what did Russia invade for?

Wednesday, 5 August 2009


is what this is - are we going to see feminist demonstrations in support? Anyone? (sound of tumbleweed)


yep it's still around and has never gone away, alive and well and living in Rochdale, and plenty of other places too.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

would you want your daughter to...

(I can remember people saying that quite seriously) His Master's Voice has this story about an alleged lack of ethnic minority people in senior jobs in Reading Borough Council. Whatever. Thanks to a reader for pointing me to a comment on the story, which mentions me in person, by which I am hugely flattered. The author of the comment is one Tony Knott, who may well have had a good lunch when he wrote it, I reproduce it here, so that those who know him as a former Labour Party agent and mover in Reading Labour circles may know what his views seemingly are:

Again what a load of PC rubbish! What with Harriet Harman going on about women in the Labour Hierarchy although she successful beat 4 men for the deputy leadership and the rubbish female candidates in the name of positive discrimination that have been foisted on Reading Labour Party members over the past thirty years (Mauve Denby, Jane Griffiths, and Ms Dobbs. Now this rubbishy, no doubt publicly paid for, Quango report is it not about time this council got its priorities right. Go on councilors you have a great deal to do. Get our failing education and schools improved, kick the a****s of the officers of the children’s department and social services which were left to go to rack and ruin. Why aren’t private hire drivers not tested on the town’s “knowledge” and why some of them have difficulty in speaking and understanding the indigenous langue. That would all be discriminatory! Ethnicity, disability, gender and sexual orientation should not be the issue – it should be all about ability. Reading has about 12% ethic minorities so a 12+% is about right. If anything there should be a wee bit more positive discrimination for the white indigenous population of this town? I walk about some areas of Reading and wonder what country I am in. Go into Lidl in Oxford Road and you rarely hear the native tongue at all. Did someone once say when in Rome…? Tell that to the Poles, Romanians, and Albanians etc. I sometimes wonder what and why Mr Sohpal gets paid by we the tax payers to fling about biased aspersions and unproven statistical bunkum just to justify his superfluous employment. I believe many immigrants to this country and especially from Indian sub-continent have enhanced our own culture and workplaces by being prepared to assimilate into our way of life. The other should take note.

Leaving aside the barely literate spelling and syntax (what is it with the Reading Labour boys that they can't write English properly? I am pleased however that of the names of the three women he derides, one of whom is currently a party candidate in Reading, mine was the only one he spelt correctly) I wonder if Mr Knott remains a member of the Labour Party? Publicly slagging off people who are members and candidates is at least a disciplinary offence, unless you are one of the boys of course, so Mr Knott is unlikely to have his collar felt by party top bananas.

Tony Knott was last seen up before the beak in Reading for racial abuse and assault. Nice chap. The reader who pointed me in the direction of Tone's comment described Mr K as a "slimy twat". Seems fair.

here we go again

open primaries for all, say I, let the voters decide.

Anne Main, Conservative MP for of St Albans this time.

voodoo histories

I have mentioned this book, by David Aaronovitch, before, and now Sadie Smith (she of the Tavern, read her blog), who doesn't post often enough, has reviewed it. Read the review here. There aren't many political blogs, especially on the left, where you would find Nietzsche's concept of bad conscience referred to - I am not a fan of old Nietzschie-babes, but still, you have to take your hat off to Sadie. I think so anyway.

Monday, 3 August 2009

rivers are for everyone

well, everyone except canoeists, according to Mr Salter.

Canoeists want a statutory right of access to the rivers they and others enjoy. They are not seeking to trespass, nor to break the law, although Mr Salter has this to say about them:

Martin Salter said:-
“It is clear that although there is plenty of room on our larger rivers for everyone, canoeists and anglers alike, the militant tendency within the British Canoe Union is absolutely determined to continue to trespass and disrupt the effective voluntary agreements that are in place that allow both sports to exist side by side. I will be emphasising to Huw Irranca-Davies the need for him to stand firm against the BCU demands for a statutory right of access irrespective of the damage and disturbance they cause to other water users.”

Mr Salter is so concerned about this he has, er, written a letter about it. No-one, so far as I know, not even anglers, wants access to rivers "irrespective of damage and disturbance" - although water birds are often subjected to slow and agonising deaths by the activities of spliffed-up anglers, who leave lines on the bank for birds and other animals to get tangled up in, and angling of course by definition mutilates sentient river dwellers.

Here is what one of the canoeing organisations had to say on the matter:

CANOE ENGLAND STATEMENT Response to Griff Rhys-Jones’ debate on access to inland waters
Canoe England is extremely disappointed with the distorted debate about access to water on the BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show Thursday 23rd July 2009.
The feature was unbalanced, misrepresentative and did not allow Canoe England’s position to be heard. As a result the arguments sought to inflame the myth that access to the rivers is a canoeing versus angling debate which is untrue. Canoe England is not “demanding” unregulated and unfettered access to rivers like the speakers stated.Lack of access to inland waters is not a canoeing versus angling issue it is in fact a concern for all members of the public. With over 41,000 miles of rivers in England and Wales, there is plenty of room for everyone. Martin Salter Labour MP for Reading West and Mark Lloyd Chief Executive of the Angling Trust made the following points on the Radio 2 feature:
• “The British Canoe Union has a militant view.”This is untrue. For years, canoeists have been respectful of voluntary access agreements. The current interpretation of the law presumes that rights of navigation do not exist. Canoe England does not agree with this position and will do all that it can to challenge the current interpretation and encourage the introduction of fresh legislation to place the matter beyond doubt. • “Canoeing disturbs fish and spawning beds.”The canoe is a traditional craft used throughout the world for exploring wilderness areas and quietly observing wildlife and flora. It causes no erosion, noise or pollution and leaves no trace of its passing. It has been proven that canoeing at appropriate water levels is an environmentally benign activity and causes no damage to fish stocks. *
• “Canoeists want unfettered access”Canoe England wants to see the introduction of an Access Code detailing how and under what circumstances access to waters should be permitted for all. It would set out water user’s responsibilities and emphasise measures to protect the environment. The introduction of new legislation in the form of a bill similar to the successful Scottish Land Reform Act, which includes such an access code, would benefit all water users and the environment.This is not a canoeing versus fishing debate or even about money, as canoeists buy licences and take nothing from the rivers only rubbish to dispose of appropriately, it is about access for all and in this small crowded island swimmers, walkers, canoeists, anglers and people who want to enjoy the inland waters should be able to do so.
Canoe England fully endorses Griff Rhys-Jones’ sentiments.

Hope that's cleared up any misunderstanding. Perhaps when Parliament resumes in the autumn there can be a sensible debate about this - ideal for a Westminster Hall debate I should have thought - some MPs do this, understanding that their role is more than that of a letter-writer to ministers. Nasty Naz, let's hear from you - what do you reckon on the rivers?

Saturday, 1 August 2009

aqua Marina

I'd forgotten all about that poisonous cow Marina Hyde, who used to do the Diary in the Filth, but here she is again, reminding us that Mr Salter is a pottymouth - he called her a "fucking rude bitch" when she dared to question one of his press releases, she reminds us. She doesn't tell us though that in that same conversation he informed her that she should take some lessons from the Reading Evening Post, which knew how to talk to MPs.

The above incidentally is why I mention Reading politics and certain people in it fairly often on this blog. It is because there is a story to be told, a narrative which will be part of history, and because those who should report these matters do not. I don't just mean the Reading Evening Post, although their record is shameful even for a local rag edited by the product of a secondary modern school in the Kent coalfields (OK with that Mr Murrill?), but the many others who could and should comment in robust and forensic fashion on the Reading political scene - bloggers, broadcast media, present and former politicians even, are not doing so. Instead, former Cllr Howarth (prop. Public Impact Ltd, remember "Your Better Off With Labour"?) writes in the Reading Evening Post about what kind of champagne to take with you on a picnic (Veuve Clicquot apparently). If others won't tell the story then I must.


this is how the BBC said goodbye to Corazon Aquino, former president of the Philippines and a hero to me in the late 1980s when she brought a measure of democracy and, as importantly, trust in government, to the people of the Philippines. She walked away from the presidential office in 1992 and no-one has been able to hold a candle to her since. Goodbye Cory and thank you.