Thursday, 31 December 2009

John McWilliam

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

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

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

Friday, 18 December 2009

strike is off

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

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

lookin' good

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

Lies, damn lies, Basher and Page

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

In the name of God, go.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

yes or no

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

let us compare mythologies

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

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

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

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

He continues later:

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

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

Towards the end of his remarks he says this:

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

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

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

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

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

In the name of God, go.

Monday, 14 December 2009

tell me this is not true

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

a revolutionary socialist on the airport bookstalls

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

Sunday, 13 December 2009

now there's a thing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Montreal Polytechnique Engineering Faculty 6th December 1989

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

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

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

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Johnny Hallyday

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

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

Wednesday, 9 December 2009


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

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

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Salter takes aim at the beaver

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

Monday, 7 December 2009

protest Uganda homophobia

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

a reader writes

a review of my book by a recent reader

The One by Jane Griffiths

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 3 December 2009

use a long spoon

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

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Holocaust deniers

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

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

singh and shout

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