Friday, 31 July 2009

working on

as Norm says, there should be no retirement age at all. I am a baby boomer aged 55, and at present if my employer wants me to retire when I am 65 I cannot refuse to do so. I hope that has changed by then. If I, or anyone else, is competent and has the physical health to do the job they are doing they should not be kicked out because of their age. Also as Norm points out, there are sound economic reasons for abolishing retirement age, which might help the argument in the coming years. I hope so.

there's the mayor

yes indeed, there he is - at Mandela Court, behind a table with, er, merchandise on it. Have a care, Cllr Pugh, have a care.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

the man who sold his vote

a rather fabby communication from Cllr Stainthorp, who fled from Battle to Katesgrove ahead of deselection - he was offered the Katesgrove seat in exchange for his vote and those of his family as required by the boys in the Reading East selection process - reproduced, typos, spelling mistakes and all, by Cllr Willis on his blog. Cllr Willis rather gleefully points out that Cllr Stainthorp is a primary school teacher. What fun. I do love a blogpost which manages to use the words "besmirch" and "curmudgeonly" in the same item.

another self-inflicted wound for Labour

I think Mr Howarth's latest column in His Master's Voice has been written with a sense of yearning: fisk me, oh fisk me. So I will.

Another self-inflicted wound for Labour

By John Howarth July 27, 2009

Lets imagine a Parliamentary by-election in the third term of a Government somewhat unpopular in the opinion polls and beset with problems covering the economy, rising unemployment, daily casualties in a far away war, a flu pandemic of unknowable proportions, a general loss of respect for the political system, a whole series of presentational gaffes and a seeming problem walking in a straight line without tripping up.
You really wouldn’t expect the governing party’s candidate to do very well.
Let’s now imagine that the by-election was in a seat where the incumbent MP, with a reputation for hard work in the constituency and of somewhat independent mind had resigned after a falling out with his party leadership.

Norwich North MP Ian Gibson didn't "fall out with the party leadership", I don't think he ever spoke to any of them if he could help it.
Somewhere like, say, Reading West.
Oh, not Reading East then? What happened there Mr Howarth? Why has Reading East got a Tory MP just like Norwich North has now?
Most of us here in Reading can imagine the backlash from locals
Seen it already in Reading East in 2005 Mr Howarth, you were cracking open the champagne that night I seem to recall.
if, after a falling out with Labour’s powers that be an MP with a reputation like Martin Salter’s,
What kind of reputation would that be then? Crooked expenses claims for four years, said he voted against the Iraq war and abstained, said he supported the Gurkhas and voted against them, said he wanted Crossrail for Reading and didn't vote - there's plenty more
walked away from his seat
his seat? Do parliamentary seats belong to their incumbents then?
leaving a brave but politically suicidal party loyalist to fight the seat in his wake.
so that's what Nasty Naz is then? They call him a lot of different things in Waltham Forest, the kindest of which is "weasel"
This is more or less what has happened in Norwich North. A massive own goal when there was no need for a by-election ever to have happened.
But Ian Gibson resigned. That is an MP's privilege. It was his choice.
While there were some questions raised over the actions Dr Ian Gibson, the previous Norwich North MP, by the Daily Telegraph’s relentless coverage of MP Expenses, Dr Gibson claimed he had done nothing wrong.

"MP Expenses", how quaint. Has his Master's Voice no style guide on the use of upper case? This could almost be a Reading Banner.
Of course lots of MPs had claimed they had done nothing wrong in recent months, however Dr Gibson had defenders among his colleagues including many who were outspoken in their condemnation of other MPs caught up in the expenses scandal.
Nonetheless Dr Gibson was thrown to the lions having received the thumbs down from Labour’s star chamber along with those who had somehow failed to notice they were claiming for mortgages that had been paid off.

He was deselected by the national party. They can do this whenever they like. They have got a taste for it in recent years. I thought if people were deselected they were Bad People who had Lost The Confidence of the Party. Hein?
Dr Gibson was an all too convenient candidate for ritual sacrifice. He might have been a hard working constituency MP but he was also one of the awkward squad. Someone who voted against the whip and spoke out against the Government in an inconvenient way, Ian Gibson was one of the ‘usual suspects’ on Labour’s left wing.
No he wasn't. He was an independent minded Labour MP. I don't remember how he voted on the Iraq war, but I do know he didn't lie about it.
When the chance came for the leadership to dump him they took it. It didn’t seem to matter that whatever Dr Gibson had done it seemed, to the outside observer at least, much less dubious than others who had not even been called before the star chamber.
They might have anticipated Dr Gibson’s reaction and they might have anticipated that of the voters in Norwich North.

They might indeed. In fact they probably did. When deselections happen the favoured outcome is usually the loss of the seat to another party. The national party did all in Norwich North but say "Vote Chloe Smith", including selecting a Tory as the Labour candidate.
After all, they had plenty of warning. The lessons of trying to use organisational means to bar the local choice and impose leadership favoured candidates failed miserably in London with Ken Livingstone and in Wales with Rhodri Morgan.
In Reading East however it was a great success. The required Member was elected in 2005 to sit in the Conservative interest.
Voters don’t like it, but Labour’s leaders seem unwilling to learn a self-evident lesson.
What would that be then John? Don't campaign for the Tories if you want a Labour MP? Don't make me laugh.
The voters were never likely to ‘believe’ the Labour establishment version of events over that of a popular and hard working local maverick MP – what’s extraordinary is that the Labour establishment seemingly thought they might.
The voters never heard the Labour establishment version of events. Just as well really. The Tory victory would have been even bigger if they had.
Under the circumstances, it was rather surprising that Dr Gibson chose not to contest the by-election. In the current climate he might have had the chance of winning.
He might, but he probably would not have, and he would have been held responsible for the Tory victory. And do you know, perhaps despite everything he was loyal to Labour and did not want to stand against a Labour candidate. Your political experience has been in Reading Labour, John, and it has coloured your judgment. Not all Labour politicians are corrupt scumbags.
Beyond that, what does the result in Norwich North tell us? First of all even a result in line with current opinion poll trends would have resulted in the loss of the seat.
The current average from Electoral Calculus, a leading political number crunching website, suggested Labour would lose to the Conservative by around 5% of the vote. In the event the Conservative majority was 40%.

This is meaningless, mathematically and psephologically.
Labour could have expected its vote to fall by just under 13% based on national poll averages. In fact their share of the vote fell by 27%.
The Conservative could have expected a boost of just under 6% based on the polls and achieved 6.29%. This was a ‘must win’ seat for the Conservatives – anything less wiould

spell-check John, spell-check, how many more times?
have cast serious doubt on the ability of David Cameron to take his party to a General Election victory.
The LibDems, were never going to get anywhere in a seat that, like those in Reading, has always been a straight fight between Labour and the Conservatives. The Greens have made considerable headway in local elections in Norwich but mainly in the Norwich South seat.
The ‘non of the above’

spell-check won't help you here John, try getting your work read by someone who is literate
factor affecting the three main parties is still showing in the national polls, but fading somewhat from its high point in the European Elections last month.
All this is deeply worrying stuff for Labour. Gordon Brown stumbles on showing all the political elegance of a wounded elephant in a tutu with a party seemingly incapable of making the right political call.

don't do metaphor John, especially if you are going to mix them so clumsily, it doesn't suit you and you are no good at it. Stick to being the Picnic Correspondent of the Reading Evening Post. (Seriously folks, that is what he is).
The voters were inclined to punish the party disproportionately in Norwich North.
Oooh goody, "disproportionately", our favourite word in Reading Labour circles, usually reserved for Reading Labour's Jew-hating publications and having another outing here.
Most of this damage was self-inflicted and unnecessary. Unless Labour can show signs of better judgement over the coming months the prospect of disproportionate punishment at a General Election remains very real indeed.
Disproportionate punishment again! Hip hip hurray! Love for the word or failure of imagination? You decide.
Note: The boundaries of both the Norwich seats change at the next General Election. The effect is likely to mean a shift toward Labour of around 3% in Norwich North and a move from Labour of around 1% in Norwich South.
This is not a note - which would be a piece of factual information appended to aid understanding - it is an opinion dressed up as information. Don't get fooled again.

Note: Mr Howarth is the proprietor of Public Image Limited, former directors Mr M Salter and Ms Natalie O'Toole (Mrs Salter). A cursory look at Mr Salter's expenses shows that rather large amounts of money were paid by the public purse to Mr Howarth's company, "disproportionate" to the usual fees payable for web hosting and literature design and production. Remember next time you see a Reading Banner - you bought it.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

and in other shock news today

bears enter tree environment for lavatorial arrangements, His Holiness the Pontiff appears to be of a Roman Catholic persuasion, and Rose Kennedy has got a black dress..

Apparently you can buy cannabis at Mandela Court. There's me bus.

Friday, 24 July 2009

work is the answer

if how to get out of poverty is the question, says Tom Harris MP. And he's right. Get a job. It really is that simple.

Tarka Dal

or why the otter has to die, see here Mr Salter's self-penned puff on his contributions to the Marine Bill, in which he says himself that he saw his role as a member of the bill committee not to help produce a good bill, but to represent angling organisations' interests, so no trawling (geddit?) for a job next year then. We could almost be back in the era of cash for questions, when MPs were bought by vested interests and represented them in Parliament. Mr Salter mentions in passing that otters are BAD CREATURES and should be KILLED, and blows the racist dog-whistle in his mention, yet again, of "Eastern Europeans" who take coarse fish for the pot (which is legal, as he forgets to remind us).

Thursday, 23 July 2009

you heard it here first (just about)

Basher is not only going for selection in Park ward, he thinks he is going to get it, so Bog Brush Head Merriott is either going to be trashed or has been told she has served her purpose and must stand down

from his Twitter

“Been catching up on my sleep, planning the next campaign. Up for selection in Park Ward, so more election fun soon”

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

a non-discursive counter-argument

is what I would call Buzz Aldrin's response to the bloke who wanted him to apologise, because said bloke, and lots of others, think the moon landings never happened. Basically Buzz landed a punch on him. Good for Buzz. I tried to embed the clip but it didn't work chiz.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

the man who wasn't there

he wasn't there again yesterday, I wish, I wish, he'd go away (Stop misquoting. Ed.)

and Mr Salter is allegedly a member of this august body, but when the house votes on what it should do he neither speaks nor votes on the matter. Why?

here am I floating in my tin can

it was forty years ago today - well yesterday actually (that's enough 60s-70s pop lyrics. Ed.) The moon landing came well after midnight UK time, as it was presumably timed for US prime-time TV, something I obviously despised as a 15 year old at the time - I also held my parents personally responsible for the Vietnam war, but there you are, if you can't be stupid when you're young then when can you? (Don't answer that.) My parents had gone to bed and my brother and I stayed up, but before the actual giant leap was made we were both made to go to bed, because we had "school in the morning". I have been pissed off about that ever since, and my mother these days says they were wrong to stop us watching it live and she wishes she had herself. Whatever. It was many years before I encountered the notion that the whole thing was mocked up in a studio (something about the flag blowing in a non-existent wind), which is clearly bollocks. I do remember the first Kennedy assassination (I was eight) and the conspiracy theories that emerged almost immediately, I recall my father and his friends discussing them earnestly, but the moon landing theories didn't emerge till much much later. Anyway, there have been plenty more since, although they usually burn slow. I remember hearing from a group of further education students in 2004 that 9/11 was engineered by Bush and Blair to justify a war against Islam - the 9/11 Troofers had been around for a while by then but it took that long for their views to be treated as established fact by a group of not-stupid 20-year-olds. On this topic I recommend highly a book by David Aaronovitch called Voodoo Histories on the role of the conspiracy theory in shaping historical thought. He changed my mind about the death of Princess Diana. I think.

Monday, 20 July 2009

election campaign starts early

in east Reading anyway

here it is, from His Master's Voice, so it must be true

Bog Brush Head Merriott for the chop it seems

so it's Basher "vote for me or I'll punch your lights out" McKenzie for Park ward

Norwich North

hat-tip Iain Dale for reproducing this "campaign poster" for Thursday's by-election. I don't often comment on blogs, especially Tory ones, for the (probably) good reason that life is too short and I have work to do, but "Vote Labour or the fox gets it"? they cannot be serious. In fact I do not think they are, and have commented as follows:

No, I'm sorry. It HAS to be a wind-up. In my 20 years in the Labour Party I knew many people who were devious, malevolent, spiteful and corrupt, as well as racist, misogynist and homophobic (obviously) but rarely since the late 1970s have UTTERLY STUPID people been let anywhere near the party's campaigns. So this can't be real.
July 20, 2009 8:11 AM

now it's gone viral

the hilarious Nasty Naz interview with Andrew Peach of Radio Berkshire that is, which is just everywhere, we are still waiting (1) for His Master's Voice to report it (2) for Mr Salter to put out a statement in support of Nasty and his great future in Reading West. The two of them were last seen supporting "diversity" together at Battle Primary School, and they might well wish to bury bad news, in a week when Reading West was revealed as the home to a neo-Nazi extremist bomb-maker for 20 years. So, Martin? Martin? (sound of tumbleweed)

Friday, 17 July 2009

this is pretty good stuff

I know that most people interested in the politics of Reading have seen this clip already, but I watched it today and I must say I was impressed. Nasty Naz, hey! Way to go, boy! Andrew Peach couldn't stop laughing. By the way, the IDR, if you call it an issue, is one for Reading East much more than for Reading West, hein? And Nasty Naz reveals to us that Martin Salter is standing down for "personal reasons" - not something Mr S has told us himself. Whatever can he mean?

What fun this is.

sorry, you'll just have to paste the link, best I could do - but you've probably seen it already.

although look here and you will see

what Oliver Kamm, who is among the many who has posted that clip on his blog, has to say about Nasty Naz's performance. He indicates that the direness of Nasty's performance has to do with "Labour's malaise" - about which he is entirely wrong. Nasty's performance is dire because Nasty is, er, crap. There is no malaise indicated by this selection. Nasty was selected precisely because he is, er, crap. He is there to make Martin Salter look good and to ensure that the seat goes Tory. That is what the Reading Labour boys want. Just as they did in Reading East.

Looks like it's going to work boys. Congratulations.

the man who sold his vote

well, everyone has a price

I republish this from His Master's Voice (so it must be true eh Mr Murrill?) without comment.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

that man with asperger's

a correspondent writes:
Headline : Cowards who let Gary Down.
Sub-head: Turncoats.
Salter's name under the turncoat list. Mugshot of Salter.
Text: Eighty two Labour MPs signed three Parliamentary motions dating back to 2005, opposing the Extradtion ACt and sending Gary Mckinnon to the US for trial. but only eight of them had the integrity to back the Tory Opposition day call for an 'immediate review' of the one-sided treaty. Of the other 74 Labour backbenchers, 59 displayed rank hypocrisy by supporting the Government (including Salter). Another 15 abstained.

Editorial: Roll of Dishonour.
Today The Mail names and shames the 74 labour mPs who stood up for Asperger's sufferer, Gary McKinnon - only to abandon him to his fate after one crack of the Government's Whip.
how smugly they paraded their love of British justice when they signed Commons motions backing Gary or demanding a review of our extradition agreements , under which the computer hacker faces up to 60 years in a US jail. but when it came to a proper vote, how quickly they ditched their principles and put their own perks and careers first. And these creeps wonder why we hold our politicians in such contempt?

Monday, 13 July 2009

the roof's fallen in on the Labour Group

oh yes it has. Been in His Master's Voice, so it must be true. But what made me laugh about this story that the roof of the committee room area in Reading Civic Offices (or Civic Orifices as Cllr Page is wont to call the building) has fallen in is that it had to be pointed out to the "controlling" Labour Group by the Conservative leader - they had no idea. But they're going to get round to thinking about what to do about it, really they are, Zim One says - there's going to be a meeting on 29th September. Nearly three months from now.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Henley Regatta

thanks to Augustus Carp for reminding me of these words by the immortal Attila the Stockbroker:

Russians at the Henley Regatta

The Duchess went pallid; the Duke stood and stared

The Colonel was livid – he spluttered and glared

And the Tory Peers said, “It’s a serious matter”

When the Russians invaded the Henley Regatta…

They charged in on DMs with football scarves high

Red soccer hooligans – “Surrender or die!”

The Dynamo Kiev Boys, pissed out of their heads –

They kicked in the gates singing “We are the Reds!”

They danced in the fountains and pissed in the water

(which grossly offended the Archbishop’s daughter)

They nicked all the strawberries and drank the champagne –

then they took off their clothes and streaked round in the rain!

They started a ruck in the private enclosure

And Alexei got nicked for indecent exposure –

took over the Tannoy and put on the Clash

then they danced on the seats ‘til they broke with a crash….

Then the Redskins turned up and they started to play

And it started a party which lasted all day

And it didn’t take long for the fat cats to scatter

When the Russians invaded the Henley Regatta!

Then they jumped in the water and nicked a few yachts

And they charged off to London at thirty five knots

And for weeks all the hip clubs were filled with the chatter

Of the day that the REDS





How many popular m usic ditties can you think of that include the word "regatta"? To get you started "Well Respected Man" by the Kinks, which uses the following top rhyme:

"..he goes to the regatta,

Adores the girl next door

Cos he's dying to get at her"

Excellent, hein?

inappropriate behaviour

is starting to be reported now:

[Jacqui] Smith is now sitting in the corridor outside her office having her photograph taken. A number of MPs pass by, and chat affectionately. Labour's Martin Salter bawls out, "This is a corridor! You've turned it into a film set! If I was going to make a porn movie I wouldn't do it here." Does she get many comments like that? "I do from him. He's a mate."

from the Filth today.

Friday, 10 July 2009

still dunvotin'?

Prevention of Terrorism this time, tsk tsk

turkish delight

don't all rush, but Turkish TV has this great new prog, where they get atheists on and get bods from various religions to try and convert them. If the conversion succeeds the former atheist gets a trip to eg Jerusalem or Mecca and so on. Is this ludicrously idiotic or inspired comic genius?

I have many Turkish colleagues and they are great, mostly a bit wacky in the humour department. One, when she goes to a cafe, goes into the kitchen to see what they are up to in there and starts helping them clean up if they look busy. Imagine the reaction of French waiting and kitchen staff.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

still dunvotin

yet again no vote yesterday. Gone fishin'?

ASBO anyone?

Six arrested at Twyford rail stationJuly 08, 2009
Six people were arrested at Twyford Station after trouble broke out among the crowds returning from Henley Regatta.
British Transport Police were called just after midnight on Sunday to a “serious disturbance”, according to spokesman Steve Wrelton.
More than 200 people were at the station, many returning from the regatta. The six – two men, three women and a 17-year-old girl, all from Reading – were arrested on suspicion of causing an affray and bailed pending further investigation.

Had drink been taken? surely not! youthful high spirits no doubt, let them have their fun. As I'm sure those living near Twyford station agree.

Incidentally did you know that when Oscar Wilde was released from Reading Gaol he was taken not to Reading station (because of the presence there of the paparazzi of those times) but to Twyford station? There should be a plaque.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


Mr Salter on the Finance Bill - with the government once, then sloped off home. What did he tell his constituents about the 10p tax rate?

they're coming to take me away ha ha

Napoleon XIV, anyone remember? Oranjepan has a post about the mental stresses of being an MP, which spectacularly misses the point of the whole issue. Politics is stressful, but no more so than teaching for instance, and the fact that it pays a lot better than teaching helps to deal with the stresses of it. If an MP is feeling the strain emotionally they at least have the opportunity, which not many of their constituents do, of taking a lengthy holiday somewhere calm and sunny, or a fishing holiday perhaps. The point is that currently an MP who has experienced treatment for mental health issues above a certain level is then barred for life from standing for Parliament. Which is unjust. If a teacher has mental health problems, they may need to stop teaching, but when they recover they can come back. So should politicians be able to. And Oranjepan hilariously says I have been the subject of a "whispering campaign" about mental health. Oranjepan ought to come out of the mole-hole he has been living in and look around. All women who achieve some advancement, especially if they are not protected by a powerful man, are described as mad. Always. It always happens. I knew that before I started. Where have you been, Oranjepan? And as for a "whispering campaign" it seems to me more like a loud shouting campaign. Cllr Tony Page (failed candidate for Reading East, 2005) yelling my name in the Reading council chamber (four years after I left Reading, have these people got nothing else to think about?) and telling other councillors not to read the "mad woman's blog" (see strapline), while immensely flattering, is hardly a whisper, as anyone who has ever heard Cllr Page speak can attest. So, in the words of a former TV journalist and pirate radio DJ of my acquaintance, "Get real".

nominations close

today for the Norwich North by-election. I don't know if Ian Gibson will stand as an independent (he cannot as Labour of course). Personally I hope he does and if I did not have a day job to go to I would go and campaign for him, I think he is great. But he may not stand, for the reasons that I did not stand as an independent in Reading East in 2005 despite being encouraged to do so from many quarters. I, and I suspect also Gibbo, did not and do not want to be held responsible for a Conservative victory by the fact of standing and taking votes from Labour. Incumbency has a powerful effect on the voters, and by all accounts Ian Gibson has been a good and effective constituency MP. But hey, let's not think about what the voters want, they are an inconvenient interference with the real business, that of plotting behind closed doors. Meanwhile there is still poverty, still deprivation and still a lot to do.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009


as in fact the Americans never called it, was four years ago today. We had left Reading, following the Conservative victory in Reading East worked for so hard by David Sutton, Martin Salter and Stuart Singleton-White, and had moved into our place in London. I had a job interview in Peterborough on 7th July, and left our home in Kennington at about 0830. There was an (unrelated) closure of the southern part of the Northern Line because of a defective train, meaning that there were no trains from our local tube station, Oval. So I got a bus to Charing Cross, thinking I would pick up a Tube train there to Kings Cross. Just as I got to Embankment station the doors closed and the man at the door would not tell me anything. I saw dark blue "Emergency Response" vehicles speedng by, vehicles I had never seen before or since. Unlike anyone who was at work or at home with access to TV or radio I had no idea what had happened. Including when I got a bus, which tipped all its passengers off almost immediately, at Aldwych. Someone said a bus had been blown up. Then the mobile network went down and I saw businessmen queueing at phone boxes, something I had not seen for at least 20 years. I was about 10 minutes behind each incident, so Tube stations were closing as I approached them, and ambulances had just taken away the victims as I got there. I am glad to say. As I walked back along the Strand after failing (obviously) to reach Kings Cross and my train to Peterborough and my job interview, someone gave me a free Evening Standard and I watched all the banks close their doors one afer another. The pubs didn't close though. Many of them were full to the doors with people talking and laughing too loudly, drunk on adrenalin or alcohol or both in the middle of the day, some of them with sooty black marks on their faces. I walked back to Kennington, which is a long way from Kings Cross, especially in the kind of shoes you wear to a job interview. An Italian cafe in Waterloo was full, and I asked if I could use their loo and get a glass of water. They immediately put a jug of water and a glass on a small table they dragged out from the back somewhere and said kindly that I could sit there and rest my feet. And of course use their loo.

Both my children and my niece live and work in London, and did then, and might well have been on one of the trains, but I didn't think to worry about them. I was sure they were all right. Idiotically, probably.

Someone once said you have only really lived when you have experienced love, poverty and war. I experienced war that day. Because at last I understood my mother's stories - she worked in central London as a girl during the Blitz - and I understood at last that war is when people who don't know you want to kill you. What I saw on the faces of Londoners that day was not fear but defiance. And bravado. And sometimes pride. And that was before I knew what was going on. And someone said in the street, only perhaps half an hour after the last bomb, "I knew the French were pissed off about not getting the Olympics, but did they have to blow London up?"

how I was Robert McNamara'd into submission

which as any fule kno is a line from, or rather part of the title of, a Paul Simon song (a rap really before there was such a thing and anyway nice Jewish boys don't rap) called "A Simple Desultory Philippic". I wonder how many other popular ditties have the word "philippic" in the title. Don't all rush. Anyway, Robert McNamara is dead. He was something of a hate figure when I was young and the Vietnam war was still on. And that is his legacy despite the good things he did then and afterwards. But don't believe me, Oliver Kamm has written about him better than I could. Read it here.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

out of his own mouth

twelve years in Parliament and Mr Salter doesn't turn up to move his own amendment and then doesn't know the House procedures. Says it all really. Here it is, better than I could. As those commenting elsewhere on this blog have said, he is going ahead of further damaging revelations. Oh dear.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Bagnall fireless locomotive

often called the Biscuit Train, was my little campaign from 2003, and much derision it brought me. I'm not sorry though. Ever wondered where it had got to? Wonder no more.

That's right. Some bloke bought it for his dad's birthday.

Beats socks or an Aramis gift set.

Friday, 3 July 2009

copy it out why don't you

His Master's Voice that is, with its report of the annual meeting of Reading and District Labour Party, detailing the officers elected (Trish Thomas re-elected chair, a fine person in my view) - but why? and as for copying the press release to the extent of saying that Nasty Naz Sarkar would do his best to "hold Martin Salter's seat" - are they inviting mockery? or are they just idiots?

do they report the annual meetings of the other parties in Reading? at all? (sound of tumbleweed)

we made you

which as any fule kno is the title of the latest hit ditty from the great Eminem, the video for the few who may not have seen it yet is here

the reason for mentioning it is twofold: first because it is funny (and the Sarah Palin lookalike - I hope it is a lookalike - bit is funnier) and second because as so often I find, wisdom about current affairs comes from Dr Dre, who makes an excellent appearance in this video too. The Dre-ster discovered Em, and has been known to say that he wouldn't have taken him on if he had known he was white. Whatever.

Hopi Sen quotes Dr Dre with these words:

What's the difference between me and you?
You talk a good one - but you don't do what you supposed to do."

Yep, Mr Salter. Your latest trumpetings about your public support for the Gurkhas (in Reading East obviously) don't mention that you forgot to vote for them when their case came before Parliament. And your supposed saintliness on expenses that you remind us of constantly omits the fact that you claimed over £40K between 1997 and 2001 for a non-existent London property.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

the feathers flew

here is an exchange (semi-public, well, totally public now it is on here) about the Reading council meeting on Tuesday last week. From what I can gather from those who were there, some kind of untrue allegation about the Tory councillor for Park ward not holding surgeries was made, and his group leader naturally enough responded and called for the record to be set straight and for an apology, after all a council meeting is a public forum:

Dear Jo,

At Full Council earlier this week, one of your Councillors made an accusation in public regarding one of my group, claiming that he did not hold Surgeries in his Ward.

Having checked with Member Services and having spoken to Wazir the assertion made by Cllr P Jones is clearly incorrect (see below). I copy my e-mail to the list of people who will have heard his remark at Full Council, so that Cllr P Jones has the opportunity to put right his untruth.

Tory Park Ward Surgeries - 2009

17 January

21 February

21 March

18 April

16 May

20 June

I am sure that you would agree that we all have a responsibility to ensure that politicians behaviour should not stoop to this low level and Cllr P Jones' behaviour fell well short of the standard that I know to be acceptable.

I would be grateful if you would now instruct Cllr P Jones to make a f
ull and sincere apology. I would also like assurance that his future behaviour will be markedly improved.

Zim One however, instead of responding to this, issued a tirade about another councillor altogether, who it is not suggested even by her has lied, although she says that the nth announcement that the Pakistani community is being bribed with a free plot of land for a mosque had nothing to do with the European elections. Noooo Josephine, of course, it didn't, nooo, now take your tablets like a good girl and have a nice long lie down.

Here is her response to the above, in full for those who are minded to fisk. I may do so myself, but not tonight as it's late and it is still over 20 degrees.

Dear Andrew,

It saddens me to have to respond to you in this public way as I do not believe that this sort of discussion is best conducted via the pages of the local press.

Since you have chosen this course of action, I have no alternative but to ask publicly that you take control of your group and ensure Cllr Chowdhary desists from making untrue allegations and personal attacks at council meetings in future. His assertion that the signing of the agreement for the Mosque at Green Road had been timed to coincide with the European elections is completely false. There had been months of meetings to iron out a number of matters to satisfy both sets of lawyers and indeed the charity commission requirements. I am more than happy to meet with you and relevant officers and go through the history in detail, but the reality was that this agreement took time for a number of reasons outside the Council’s control and the eventual date was in no way decided by any councillor and it was only signed when all the lawyers were satisfied that all outstanding matters had been satisfactorily concluded. I attended several meetings with officers and community representatives to better understand and try to work through the obstacles to the signing. The Community representatives who attended those meetings were very keen to get the agreement finally signed and pressed the Council to meet regularly to ensure that progress was made. I would therefore request that the remarks made by Cllr Chowdhary at the last Council meeting should be withdrawn.

I believe Jamie Chowdhary's allegations could well have crossed the line with regard to the Code of Conduct for Councillors, and I am still thinking about whether to take that further. As well as asking Cllr Chowdhary to withdraw his remarks, I hope you are not supportive of such tactics and that you will reflect on that and instruct Conservative members to refrain from smears of this kind in future.

As for Peter Jones, he accepts he got carried away, but was stopped from finishing what he was saying by the shouting from your group and the Mayor's intervention, which prevented him from making it clear that he was saying that he had never heard about a Conservative surgery as a local resident. In any event, as he accepted Cllr Hussein's assurance that he does conduct surgeries before the Council meeting finished, I believe that counts as a correction to any other impression that may have been given.

I would add that Peter was, as were the rest of my group, genuinely astonished at the rejection of a Labour proposal for all councillors to have CRB checks. He was angry at the reaction from the other groups, especially as we are clear that such checks would be carried out in the same confidential manner used for staff, school governors and volunteers. We believe that as public representatives who enter people's homes or spend time alone with residents at surgeries it would be good to give the reassurance and to set an example that councillors had undertaken CRB checks. I would expect all political Parties to have asked candidates if they had any "skeletons" which could cause their Party embarrassment before they were selected as candidates and therefore any CRB check would be unlikely to reveal anything of concern. We really cannot understand why both your group and the Liberal Democrats were so against this. Many of the residents we are quite likely to visit at home are the vulnerable elderly and it was reassurance to them we particularly had in mind. I hope we might revisit this proposal at some stage soon and that both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats will rethink their knee-jerk opposition to this.

You may also not know that Peter's wife had recently came out of hospital after 6 weeks and he had hoped to be back home with her before 11.00 p.m. at night. He was exasperated that what he and we thought would be a simple amendment had taken such an unpredictable turn and was going to mean an even later return home than was necessary.

I trust you will reflect on all these matters and I look forward to an assurance that your group will not be calling other councillors’ integrity into account in this way again.

Yours sincerely,

Jo Lovelock

So she accepts that Jones made a twat of himself (not for the first time) but requests Cumpsty to refrain not only from pointing this out but from pointing it out when Labour Group members tell straight lies to the public. There's democratic for you. Zim One is the right name. In the name of God, go.

Oh and if Peter Jones wants to spend more time with his family he could always, you know, resign.

Salter at constituency event

in Reading East, obviously, as this makes clear.

Did he inform the Reading East constituency MP he was going to open a children's centre in his constituency? did he bollocks.

bus workers unite

Mansoor Osanloo, the Tehran bus workers' union leader, is in prison and may well lose his sight there because of health problems he has developed. His crime appears to have been to have organised for better conditions for bus workers in the Iranian capital and suburbs. Meanwhile, London buses are still carrying advertising for Press TV, a holocaust-denying apologist for the Ahmedinejad regime, and the only voice expressing concern about that is that of Tory London mayor Boris Johnson. Comes to something when it takes a Tory to worry about the workers. Though I don't suppose he is really. But the Unite union should be saying or doing something, shouldn't they? Hello? Hello? (sound of tumbleweed blowing down deserted street).