Monday, 30 November 2009

loud, but not very clear

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

the racist right running schools in Britain

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

In the name of God, go.

publicly shamed

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

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

Saturday, 28 November 2009

and your problem is?

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

Friday, 27 November 2009

duck and cover

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

Thursday, 26 November 2009


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

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Basher's got a...

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

still cool about this Mr Salter?

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

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

the minimum wage

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

Saturday, 21 November 2009

the Blairingly obvious

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

seen elsewhere

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

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

Profound insight, hein? Who wrote it?

Friday, 20 November 2009


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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 19 November 2009

a correspondent writes

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

jeu de mains, jeu de vilains

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

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

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

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

seen on facebook

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

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

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

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

class, HMV!

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

Class indeed.

I thank you.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


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

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

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

Tory lady for Slough

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

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


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

Monday, 16 November 2009

the men of violence

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

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

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

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

a whisper in the wind

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

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

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

Friday, 6 November 2009

questions for Naz, II

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

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

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

fat is a - what kind of issue?

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

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

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Questions for Naz Sarkar

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

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

2. Do you teach GCSE Mathematics at Denefield?

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

4. What size class on average do you teach?

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

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

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

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

9. When did you start working at Denefield School?

10. Are you still working at Denefield School?

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

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

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

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

Thames Pilgrim

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

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

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

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

where are you Nasty Naz?

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

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

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

the awful truth

that you can't reveal to the ears of youth

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

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

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

Except to say it isn't worth a damn

Monday, 2 November 2009

just thought I'd point this out

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

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

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