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]


I only quote what Mr Salter is alleged to have said on the BBC (so it must be true):

Martin Salter, a Labour backbencher, said there was "a lot of anxiety and anger" in the House of Commons, with some MPs considering legal action.
He told the BBC's World At One: "I think there are some MPs who will feel very aggrieved at having the rules reinterpreted five years down the line, who may mount a legal challenge. Any attempt to apply a retrospective value judgment is undoubtedly going to be subject to challenge.

Might he be worried about retrospective "value judgments" given his own fraudulent claims for four years from 1997 to 2001- what might happen if the "value judgments" went that far back and they wanted their 40K plus back?

Still waiting for my own letter from Sir Thomas Legg - my not being resident in the UK might add a day or two on to the delivery time - but I know of at least one former MP who left the House in 2005 as I did and who lives in the UK who is still waiting too. And both of us claimed Additional Costs Allowance. For a London home. Which we actually had.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Guardian gagged!

before you break out the bubbly at the notion that the Filth has been stopped from spreading its racist poison, think on. Peter Carter-Ruck and partners appear to have secured an order preventing the reporting of at least one parliamentary question, which appears to be this one:

Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation to protect (a) whistleblowers and (b) press freedom following the injunctions obtained in the High Court by (i) Barclays and Freshfields solicitors on 19 March 2009 on the publication of internal Barclays reports documenting alleged tax avoidance schemes and (ii) Trafigura and Carter-Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura.

Prevention of the reporting of parliament? Now I know that it is said that if you want to keep a secret you should tell it to the House of Commons on a slow Tuesday at about 7 pm, thus ensuring that no media of any kind will pick it up and that none of your colleagues, family or acquaintances will hear it. But can m'learned friends really stop Parliament being reported? And should they?

Hat-tip Guido Fawkes for apparently being the first to break the injunction and publish the question, I am happy to follow him in this, and also to Iain Dale and others for highlighting it. It's important.

Country going to the bloody bow-wows, that's what I say.

In the name of God, go.

Sunday, 11 October 2009


Readers will have seen that Sir Thomas Legg, entrusted with a review of the Additional Costs Allowance paid to MPs for housing, is to write to all Members affected this week. This will include me, as the first year concerned by this review is 2004-5, and I stood down from Parliament in 2005. I quote the following from a letter I received dated 28th September and signed by someone called Ed Wood:

"The security of the review data is being treated with the utmost care as it is clearly sensitive. Consequently Sir Thomas has decided that it would not be prudent to send the provisional conclusions to private email addresses in all but exceptional cases, since there is a small risk that email communications can be intercepted. If you have provided an email address, this will be used to notify you that the conclusions have been posted. Please let me know if this will cause you any problems."

It causes me no problems at all. Imagine though, they think the conclusions might leak? Surely not!

My own representations following the letter I received have been to say that as far as I am concerned it is perfectly OK to inform me by email of whatever they want to inform me of, and that I request that the inquiry be extended to cover the years 1997-2004. During the first four of those years, as readers will recall, Mr Salter claimed something over 40K for housing costs in respect of a non-existent London property. When the BBC and other media who had been reading this blog and making their own enquiries started asking him questions he told them he was suing me, to shut them up on the subject. It worked. However, it was a lie. No legal letter has reached me. Nor, I suspect, is it likely to.

Because, er, it's true. And the House of Commons has records to show that it is.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Reading West - oh yes

Mr Salter tells us, as I reminded readers inthe previous post, that he has been campaigning against development on the Bath Road reservoir site since 1996. Maybe. Good to see him change his tune from "always" to "since 1996". Though I don't remember him campaigning on this site in 1996. He stood down from the council that year, ahead of a corruption scandal. Between 1992, after the Cross Town Route public inquiry, and 1996, he was one of a small group of politically motivated men (and one woman, yours truly), who worked on the Borough Plan, to ensure that its political direction was correct. This was done under the direction of Dictatorship Dave Sutton. Salter was not only responsible for the allocation of the site for housing, as deputy leader of the council, but was actively involved and hands on in the specifics of allocation of sites for housing. So was I, and I had and have no difficulty with housing development on that site.

Both ways at once.

Bad faith.


Thursday, 8 October 2009

Reading West - ah I see

Nasty Naz has updated his website for the first time in weeks, on which I congratulate him, and I also congratulate him, as I have done before, on featuring on the front page a photograph of Reading West, unlike Mr Salter, who of course features Reading East, his favourite constituency. However, Nasty informs us that the Bath Road reservoir site was refused planning permission "on clear planning grounds" (oh yeah?) and that he had "worked closely" (doing what?) with those campaigning against the application, and with Martin Salter, who spoke at the meeting. Martin Salter it was of course who put his name to the inclusion of the site for housing in the Borough Plan for Reading in the 1990s when he was deputy leader of the then Labour council. Mention that did he? Thought not. No, he tells us (in a post on his site put up today, after the meeting and the result, called "Decision Time for Bath Road Reservoir Site") that he has been campaigning against development on that site since 1996. Utter bollocks. Bad faith. Mauvaise foi. Crap. Won't do. Not even the careful little weasel words he hoped no-one would notice, that development was not bad in itself, over-intensive development was. Well, the residents who didn't want the development have noticed, and unless Nasty Naz distances himself from this hypocrisy sharpish the political fallout will be on him. Oh dear.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

fancy a beer?

try this one

brewed in "the Holy Land" or under licence in Germany. Not, of course, available in Gaza. that would be disproportionate, would it not? This is A Good Thing. And the proprietor looks like an excellent bloke from his picture on the site. Seriously, I am not a beer drinker, but where can I get this stuff? Although they brew excellent beer around here (and Kronenbourg too) I would like to get some of this stuff to offer to friends and guests.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

cities make us civilised

because if we live in a city we have some measure of loyalty to others who live there (even if we don;t like them, we acknowledge that we live in the same place and to some extent at least belong to that place) and those others do not belong to our tribe or family. This is a great step forward for humanity. Hat-tip Norm for this on the subject.

Monday, 5 October 2009

the man who doesn't like women

is as any fule kno an adaptation of the title of the French translation of the first book in the Stieg Larsson trilogy, filmed as "Millennium" (its title in the original Swedish) and for some reason called in English translation "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". But I am not talking about the books (have read the first two and the third is going to be brought round by that nice Mr. Amazon any day now, and have seen the first film, did wonders for my French having to concentrate hard on the subtitles as I do not speak Swedish). No. I am talking about that Geordie bloke who used to lie for a living when he was in politics and now does it just for fun. Howarth, that's the chap, can't write or spell, remember "Your Better Off With Labour"? This morning I was putting off starting the day's work so I read the stuff he wrote about himself on his "blog" (which in the best tradition of the Reading Labour boys is not interactive, broadcast not receive, tell the people what they ought to think, that's the way). There are five posts, all purporting to tell the tale of his life, and each accompanied by a photograph of himself at the relevant stage in his life. It's too early in the day to inflict those on you, but I did notice that two of the posts included gratuitous pieces of old-fashioned misogyny. A mention of dungarees provoked the phrase "shrill man-hating feminists" and a mention of the male menopause (don't ask) brought on "bitter and twisted fifty-something females". Dear oh dear. This won't do, John. You don't get girls that way. You really don't. Your ex-wife Jane is I think fifty or so, the partner you left her for is apparently called Jane too, I do not know how old she is or whether either of them is bitter and twisted, though your ex-wife used to throw plates at your head when she was pissed off with you, I was told.

I am fifty-something and my name is Jane too.

I thank you.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

ten years on

from the Paddington rail crash - even His Master's Voice gets in on it here. We heard plenty at the time in Reading - Messrs Salter and Howarth standing up at Labour Party meetings saying "John Prescott's days are numbered " (hi John!) and Salter telling the press "My girlfriend won't travel by train any more", striking a blow for gender equality as ever. Channel 4 did a special programme soon afterwards from Reading, which featured the appalling Trot cow "lawyer" Louise Christian saying she was "campaigning for justice" for the victims of the crash. Hah. Did they have justice? As someone once said, "Justice? There's no f***ing justice!" More people from the southern hemisphere died in that crash than Reading people. I appeared on a local radio programme a couple of weeks later, doing a kind of "Desert Island Discs". I had chosen my records before the crash happened on 5th October and did not look at my list again before the broadcast - with hindsight perhaps "This Wheel's On Fire" was not the best choice. Great song though.

I'm not usually very personal on this blog, but I will just say here that following the death from cancer of a close friend on 9th September I have had two sessions of bereavement counselling (thanks, French health service!), and cannot recommend this more highly. Organisations like Cruse provide an excellent service in the UK as I know from people who have benefited from it. But I firmly believe now that professional bereavement counselling should be provided, within a month of a death, to those close to the person who died, whether they ask for it or not (I didn't). Productivity in personal and professional life plummets at a time of bereavement, and those two sessions gave me the opportunity to get it back and move on, which is fair to others close to me and lets me grieve (which everyone must do, whatever the circumstances of a death) without unnecessary baggage.

OK, back to the usual ramblings and musings now (Good, that last bit was dashed un-British. Ed.)

Friday, 2 October 2009

I'm a Stoic

but I knew that. Try taking this quiz - what Philosophy Guru Are You? Maybe everyone comes out Stoic, I don't know - just a bit of fun...

Homophobic? Moi?

the life of a gay Tory is not always a happy one. The Daily Mail published a nauseatingly homophobic piece in its Ephraim Hardcastle column about gay blogger Iain Dale's bid to become the Tory candidate for the Bracknell constituency. Dale sought an apology. He got one, but it was a fake. Then he got told to be a bit "less sensitive". We have all been here before. See the story here. I know that Tories think the Daily Mail is the voice of their supporters, so when it is racist and homophobic, as it regularly is, they have a problem. In fact the Daily Mail has its finger on the pulse of the nation - most of the time. Not this time. Most people are not homophobic. Most people do not like homophobia. I would bet that most people in Bracknell do not like homophobia either.

Oscar Wilde wrote: "He who lives more lives than one, more deaths than one must die." That was his fate, and it was the fate of most gay men in his time. You wouldn't think it would be today, would you. But it is. A gay friend of mine died last month, at the age of only 43, and while he was out to most if not all the people in his life, he too lived more lives than one, it emerges from his papers. Gay men very often die young, and not because of AIDS. Discuss.

Lily Allen sings: "You say it's not OK to be gay, well I think you're just evil." Also discuss.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

vote today!

if you are a member of the Parti Socialiste that is. There is a renewal plan for the party under Martine Aubry (of whom I am a big fan) , whose main points are these:
"primaires" - primaries for candidates. Yes to that.
"non-cumul" - elected representatives to hold only one mandate. It is normal in France for deputies to parliament to be mayors, for ministers to be regional councillors, and so on. Yes to stopping that.
"parite" - equality measures to try to do something about the male domination of the politics of the left. Despite the fact that the Parti Socialiste and the Communists both have female leaders, Sarkozy's cabinet looks, and is, a lot more diverse than the other parties. This won't do. So yes to that.
We are voting in our branches today, as above. We are also voting on who should head the list for the regional elections, due next March. Apparently the line for this region is Jacques Bigot. He's a white bloke in a suit. I also discover to my dismay that foreigners like me are not eligible to vote in the regionals, though we can in the municipals. Chiz.