Tuesday, 29 September 2009

well, it made me laugh

when I saw Mandy make the original speech I was reminded of Gloria Swanson in 'Sunset Boulevard'. Cannot imagine why.

victory for Kings Meadow Campaign

or so it seems - this time the fact that His Master's Voice reports the decision last night by the Reading boys to give two-year exclusivity to the Kings Meadow Campaign to do something about the baths as a U-turn gives the story more credibility rather than less, given the Post's usual craven stance. A U-turn is how those who messaged, texted and emailed me last night saw it too. The question is why? Cllr Graeme Hoskin, the Man Who Wasn't There, said last night that he objected to Askett Hawke's demand for a 250-year lease and did not believe they would guarantee public access to the pool. But RBC itself has denied public access to the pool for many years. Former leader of the council Dictatorship Dave "moronic members of the public" Sutton told me in 2004 with a complacent grin that there was "no likelihood" of the pool being open to the public in the foreseeable future. Any politician in Reading who said last night that they wanted KMC to have a chance to come up with viable proposals for public access for this listed building and for a public leisure facility is likely to have thrown back at them at election time their previous diehard opposition to public use of this facility. I remember chairing a meeting at Reading Town Hall on this very issue, to which the parliamentary candidates for the 2005 election in Reading were invited (I remember that Cllr Tony Page, the then Labour candidate for Reading East, failed to attend but sent a message opposing the work of the Kings Meadow Campaign) and hearing support for the baths as a public facility only from the Tories, LibDems and Greens. Not from Labour. I remember too that Cllr Sutton tried to stop the town hall being booked, causing embarrassment to the staff there. Remember all this when it is time to vote. Don't get fooled again.

Good luck to the campaign, and if I can help you in any way I will.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Kings Meadow Campaign

is something I have supported for a long time, effectively ever since I discovered in 1991 that the Labour Group (of which I was then a member) had been in secret talks, in the persons of Martin Salter and Tony Page, to reach an agreement to concrete over Kings Meadow in Reading. As part of this the then Labour council deliberately let the Kings Meadow Baths, a listed Edwardian building, fall into disrepair. I am only sorry that I didn't find out about this soon enough when I was a councillor in Reading - whenever I made enquiries about the baths I was fobbed off with various platitudes. Could do better. Anyway, His Master's Voice has deliberately misled the public (shurely not? Ed.) about the Askett Hawke proposal for "developing" the baths, which HMV says proposes a hotel on an island in the Thames rather than on the meadow. Kings Meadow Campaign, good for you for all the work you have done, in the face of abuse and threats from the Reading Labour boys.

Sunday, 27 September 2009


is quite likely to be the Chancellor again after today's elections - though she may still have to be in coalition with the SPD (our lot). Can you imagine such a coalition in the UK? Nor me. But it seems to work. I like Angie. She is the most powerful woman in the world, according to L'Express this week. Well, maybe. Probably. But that is not the point. Her quiet and phlegmatic approach seems to be what Germany wants. Her upbringing in the old East does her no harm either. Go for it Angie.

Friday, 25 September 2009

not necessarily intended to be helpful to the Labour Party

is something we Blair Babes used to get on our pagers in the late 1990s when "journalists" rang round backbenchers pretending to do "surveys" on whether we hated Tony Blair. As an instruction to us not to participate. Almost always too late. Now, to brighten up Labour Party Conference, a book has allegedly been published with the same kind of aim (without Tony Blair of course, because he won elections, and we can't have that, now can we?) It is all a bit of a mystery, but presumably a stack of copies will appear somewhere in due course and be snapped up, and then commentators will tell us all what to think about it. Anyway, methinks the publishers of this tome, whoever they are, have missed a trick. I have a Sony Book Reader, and a fine thing it is, though not enough books are published in e-book format for my liking. If this book had been published in this format its promoters thus ensure that anyone who wanted to read it would have it immediately, with no need for a truck to bring a physical book from a warehouse to a physical location. You can read Iain Dale about the "book" here. That's certainly what I would do if I had a book to market. Hmmm. We'll see.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Claire's off

Claire Ward that is, junior justice minister, former government whip, Labour MP for Watford, towel-slapper and veteran of Kosovo military goings-on, has been roundly castigated, by a former Bishop no less, for rudeness and unbecoming behaviour, as you can read here. Claire, Claire, where did it all go wrong?
Incidentally, if you google for a picture of her, as I have just done, you get a pop-up "How to Get A Flat Belly".
My work here is done.
Or is it?...

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Mr London Street

I am indebted to Oranjepan (things you thought you'd never say. Ed.) for this link to a blog by someone who describes himself as "Reading's premier humourist". It's funny. So far.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Reading West Banner

yep, there it is again, the "summer" edition - Reading East pictures obviously, Salter and Nasty Naz pictured in Reading East, stuff about Reading Borough Council, blah blah - why does Nasty Naz allow himself to be pictured in Reading East? I know the answer actually, it is because he has no choice - Salter avoids Reading West and Nasty has no say in what literature the Reading boys publish, as no candidate does, so Reading East it is. But he should say that if elected (hah!) he will not do photocalls in Reading East, but will stick to the constituency he represents. Naz? Naz?

Oh and Mr Salter informs us that he has lived in the Thames Valley all his life. Oh yeah? And the years in Brighton, which last time I looked was not in the Thames Valley?

drivers to blame!

well, in a hierarchy of road users they should be when something happens, unless it can be shown that they are not. So if a cyclist for example collides with a car the driver of the car is to blame unless he can show that he was not. This is how it is in France and in other countries - in Munich for Oktoberfest, which of course has just started as it is in September, they take it further - if a drunk person walks in front of a car it is the driver's fault, ha ha. Various UK commentators are getting their knickers in a twist about this, but a car is a lethal machine.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Reading and Woodley

There, that got your attention. It is part of the strapline of the Reading Labour Party publication delivered in Reading East. At least now they are delivering (presumably) something different in the two constituencies, and are not delivering pictures of Martin Salter to Reading East residents, which was happening for eight years to my knowledge. The latest issue has pinged into my inbox, and it is in fact called "Reading and Woodley Banner", has no pictures of Martin Salter, and has no identifiable typos - not having been produced by former Cllr John Howarth (prop. Public Impact Ltd, remember "Your Better Off With Labour"?). The boys previously set their faces against any publication that was not called "Reading Banner" and against anything that mentioned Woodley, but seemingly have now changed their minds, about ten years too late. Although there do not appear to be any Howarthian typos, there are some interesting gaffes.

They are:

a picture with the caption "A Fair Deal For Woodley". That'll be a first then. From Reading Labour Party. Invites ridicule.

a picture of Anneliese Dodds with Marian Livingston in Church ward. I do not know Marian Livingston but she looks like a potential winning candidate to me. That is why they have taken her out of Church ward, which was safe Labour until its Labour MP was removed (hem hem), the Reading boys prohibited members from working the ward, and abused a Labour councillor for the ward into crossing the floor, and now they have put Marian Livingston into Reading West, where she does not live and where no-one has heard of her. Oh yes. And there is no picture of Malcolm Powers, who actually has been selected as the candidate for Church ward. Oh no.

a paragraph titled "Clean Up Our Politics" which says "Martin Salter, MP for Reading West, has been praised for his clean record" (on expenses). Indeed he has. But he does not of course have a clean record, and the piece is careful not to say he does. Because he took 40K fraudulently from the taxpayer over four years for a London property he did not have. I have turned up some interesting evidence on this, of which more later.

a paragraph which says "Labour has secured...hopefully in time, a terminus for Crossrail" - this is a lie. Crossrail is something the Labour council was lobbying on some years ago, but then stopped when Cllr Howarth got the transport brief, and something on which Martin Salter abstained in Parliament when it was voted on in 2005. Pants on fire, Zim One Lovelock.

a paragraph which says "Wokingham's Tory leadership is actively considering following Reading Labour's example, to organise a 'credit crunch summit'". Well, terrible grammar boys, but an improvement on the Howarth years, and it is of course a sentence which invites the question "sez who?"

oh and an item on the last general election result, in 2005, which says "Last time the Tories got in through the back door". Which back door would that be then? The back door of getting, er, more votes than Labour or anyone else? Yes, that back door. More people putting their crosses next to the Conservative candidate's name. That sort of back door. Looks more like an old-fashioned front door to me. Might have had something to do with not having the incumbent Labour MP the constituency had had for the previous eight years available to vote for. What do you reckon boys? Love to hear what you really meant by the "back door", especially given the number of helpful meetings between Reading Tories and the then Labour leader of Reading Borough Council, Dictatorship Dave "moronic members of the public" Sutton, and Martin Salter MP.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

the General Committee of Reading and District Labour Party

went like this at its most recent meeting, according to one who was there:

I attended a GC against my better judgement the oher day and it's a shambles.
There were only 27 people there and old Hartley the Education King was there pontificating the usual bullshit and Salter gave his usual shite and condescending report to the gathered. As if I am interested that he went on holiday to Australia.
The best bit though was Gavin from Compass who came to tell the Labour Party how to be a Labour Party and old fattie Hartley tried to say it was a waste of time.
Someone said maybe they should leave Labour and join Compass! They were talking about Labour Values and the Labour Councillors were talking about why it was all so difficult and it's been tried before and the National Policy Forum is a waste of space;

Then it hit me , this is why I have not attended a GC for 4 years; it's full of bloated Councillors full of their own importance and bullshit and people talking to themselves instead of representing the people of Reading.

Dave Sutton is now the Fair Trade King of Reading; Tony Page is running the Council as Jo Lovelock has hurt her knee or something; well on so much allowances she probably has a rich diet with Red Wine and it's all got too much.

Oh and the Parliamentary candidates were asking everyone to push on and go out canvassing and doing surveys so they can get their contact rates up; Salter's enthusiasm and love for the candidates filled the room; the moment he finished his shabby report he was off.

Apparently on Sunday he's jumping out of a plane at 10,000 feet for the Alzeimers Society; But with so much hot air coming out of his mouth he will probably float up there for two weeks!

It really did turn my stomach having to be in the same room as 'the mouth of Reading'.

and this is from a Labour Party member who to my knowledge is loyal and active despite everything.

she's got to be stopped

Rachel Eden, who has been selected by Reading Labour for the usually safe Labour seat of Whitley, has a blog. You can see it here. That won't do, will it boys? Put a stop to it. Now. It's anti-democratic (M. Salter) and women who write blogs are mad (T. Page). There's still time to deselect her if she won't listen, you know.

Friday, 18 September 2009

he thinks he's a foodie

so 1980s, the word "foodie", hein? Anyway, my attention has been drawn to a blog of sorts produced by former Cllr John Howarth (prop. Public Image Ltd, remember "Your Better Off With Labour"?); it is to be found here and I have linked to it on the sidebar under "Barely Literate Geordie Loser" - obviously. I very rarely use a spellchecker myself, no need, hem hem, but they have their uses, as any fule kno - except former Cllr Howarth, clearly.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Shirley gets the boot

as widely predicted, Shirley Merriott, she of the bizarre hairdo and unfortunate complexion, has been deselected in Park ward in favour of Basher McKenzie. She is not happy, she had to sleep with several of the Reading boys in order to get selected at all in the first place, despite her sterling work in 2004 in sending Reading East Labour Party members a fraudulent and barely literate letter drafted for her by former Cllr Howarth (prop. Public Impact Ltd, remember "Your Better Off With Labour"?); the letter had gone through the franking system of the South-East Regional Labour Party, keys to whose building were held at the time by Ms Kathryn Peak, a former amateur actress and police officer who is married to Malcolm Powers, the party's current regional director. In Shirley's place I would be well disgusted too.

Basher McKenzie will incriminate himself. He is an ignorant thug known for bullying and violent behaviour, so he fits right in with the Reading boys, but the electorate know what he is. Why did he lobby me when his wife's teeth needed fixing? His candidature probably adds 50 votes for Rob White before we even start.

Richard Stainthorp, the man who sold his vote, is standing down in Katesgrove, though the His Master's Voice report of this cannot quite bring itself to say so, and inserts a deliberate typo, see if you can spot it.

Malcolm Powers, to whom I gave his first job in politics (though don't worry, I'm not going to go all Mayor of Casterbridge on your asses) is an imposed candidate in Church ward. There is a history of this, as that ward's Labour Party members prefer to select someone they think will work hard and have the ward's interests at heart, rather than a puppet of the Reading boys - so they regularly get a candidate imposed on them. This happened to them when former mayor Maureen Lockey died - the candidate was imposed by the boys even before Maureen's funeral - and when that very fine man and fine councillor Wilf Wild also died.

More to come on all of this. BTW, Reading Labour party usually selects its council candidates in November. It's September. They've left north of the river and Tilehurst till later. Oh and I was appalled to discover that Singleton-White, the fraudster's friend, has reproduced again. Been in His Master's Voice, so it must be true.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

a land down under

while we are on the subject of Mr Salter, his recent Westminster Diary, which has just pinged into my inbox, is most illuminating on the subject of how he spent his summer. He went to Australia, he tells us, at his own expense, to see family and friends and meet some Australian politicans. How much time he spent with the politicians, or how much attention he was paying, is another matter however, as he managed to spell the name of the Australian Labor Party wrong. He informs us that he went to Australia at his own expense. When I went to Australia to see family and some politicians too, at my own expense, in 2001, I was criticised by this very Mr S for "junketing at the taxpayer's expense". Well, I did have dinner in Canberra with the then High Commissioner, former Tory MP Alistair Goodlad, and it was one of the dullest dinners I have ever been to, but I suppose the dinner did count as "taxpayer's expense" if you like. Oh and if you're planning a trip to Australia don't bother with Canberra. Mr Salter may well have visited former chair of Reading Labour Party Mike Price ("a weak man" - Mrs Salter), who was last heard of in Sydney, having fled the hounds of scandal who were snapping at his heels in Reading. Price it was who went to see the then General Secretary of the national Labour Party to say that Reading only wanted one Labour MP, not two. She sent him away. And told me about it. And I didn't tell the media. But that is not what the scandal was about. Oh no.

he was there!

reports of sightings of Mr Salter on Monday in Reading East flood in. He was on the riverside by the Queens Road car park with a fishing rod! He was at the railway station! He was at the jobseekers' organisation New Directions in the town centre for a two-minute visit to get his picture taken! Oh and he turned up briefly at the South East Regional Grand Committee to bollock about Pincents Hill and to be told to piss off by the chair of the committee, Jonathan Shaw MP. Press release Martin? Martin? Martin? (sound of tumbleweed)

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

he wasn't there!

Parliament's South East Regional Grand Committee met yesterday morning, in Reading Town Hall. You can read the Order Paper for the Committee here. Reading Town Hall is of course in the Reading East constituency, and the Reading East MP was naturally enough in his place, the order paper reveals, as it shows the names of a number of MPs from the region who had tabled questions. A certain Mr Salter was not among them, although the meeting took place in his favourite constituency. When I have seen the Hansard of the committee I shall inform readers of the no doubt splendid contributions made. His Master's Voice has not yet seen fit to copy out a press release from Mr Salter on the stonking wonderfulness of his speech at the committee - but they will, they will. Whether he made one or not.

Oh and I was pleased to see my name in the frame as the LibDem candidate for Reading West. Not. Going. To. Happen. The LibDems approached me in 2004 to see if I was interested in crossing the floor to them, but I was not. But Was, good on you, keep it going, there is more to come out from that particular section of the dungheap.

Monday, 14 September 2009

thanks Tom!

for reminding me, and the rest of the world, of my statement of support for a hierarchy of responsibility for road incidents, which assumes the driver of a motor vehicle (and not a cyclist or pedestrian) to be responsible unless it can be shown to have been otherwise. It's like this here in France and in a number of other European countries. Tom Harris MP, a former transport minister, says this is nonsense, but he does not say why he thinks so. Why, Tom?

Thursday, 10 September 2009

ready to jump?

Cllr Willis thinks the recent spate of Labour defections to the Tories in London might be mirrored in Reading. He thinks there might be Labour councillors in Reading who would be welcomed into the Tory group. Maybe he is right. It has happened once already, this quote from His Master's Voice (so it must be true)

Azam Janjua gained a seat in Church ward for the Conservatives – he stood down as a Labour Party member a year ago in the same ward.
The taxi driver said: “I am very pleased to be elected. I will commit myself to the ward and promise to the residents of the ward I will work for their welfare.”

My personal knowledge of Azam Janjua is that he did exactly that when he was a Labour councillor for Church ward.

So who else is going? Now that Dictatorship Dave "moronic members of the public" Sutton has been trashed by the electorate of Katesgrove ward perhaps we will not see another disgraceful campaign of bullying and smear by the Labour Group - though I'm not holding my breath. But members of the current Labour Group in Reading have good reasons to escape the corrupt dungheap that is the politics of Reading Labour councillors. If you have a shred of decency left, go.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

as a mark of respect

my sometimes frivolous, occasionally incoherent and usually political ramblings are suspended for today. A very dear friend of mine died this morning here in Strasbourg and today is going to be quiet to remember him. Goodbye Paul and thank you for everything you gave us. No more suffering, but 42 is too young to go.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

count the votes on Thursday!

my first reaction to disquiet among some of the commentariat about the trend among local authorities to count votes the next day was a yawn. What does it really matter, I thought to myself. But then I thought, a few years ago that attitude might have been reasonable. There is a lot about election day in Britain that is redolent of the 1950s, including the signs identifying the polling stations and the grubby pencil on a string in the polling booth (that was how it was the last time I voted in person in the UK, in the 2005 general election) and we should move on from that, I thought. In order to engage people better with the political process, I thought. But more recently, now that news is 24-hour, and waiting for the morning papers to find out the news is something people just don't do any more, why should we wait until the afternoon of the next day for a few thousand votes to be counted? I favour electronic counting of votes in any case, which conservative commentators generally do not, but that is probably another matter. Let's have it all on the night. Also I have been an election candidate several times, always victorious, naturally, (eh, Cllr Page?) and it is a stressful process, it would be kinder to all concerned to have the result as early as possible. And what fun election night TV coverage is for the stay-at-homes - so let's keep it on Thursdays, say I. Just a bit of fun...

Monday, 7 September 2009

no platform? I think not

the Times has this which indicates that Labour is going to drop its policy of not sharing a platform with the BNP. This is a policy I have come to realise is nonsense. But the reason the story gives for the change is that the BBC is going to give the BNP air time on programmes like Question Time now that they have elected MEPs, and Labour will not have an empty chair. That is not a change of policy nor is it a reason for one. Refusing to have an empty chair is a matter of political expediency not of ideology. If Labour is changing its policy then let them tell us so - I for one think they should. The story quotes one M. Salter as describing the BBC's decision to give air time to representatives of a legal political party which has elected members as "lamentable", which epithet the OED defines as "deplorable or regrettable". He is entitled to that view, which I do not share, but tells us nothing about Labour Party policy on the issue. I really, really think we should be told. Changing a policy is a grown-up thing to do boys, so be brave little soldiers and just do it.

Oh and the BNP is legally constituted, but I believe their website still indicates that membership is only open to white people. If that is still the case then a legal challenge should be mounted, and fast.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

reading west, what next

whispers come my way that the LibDems are profiting from the resignation of Patrick Murray as PPC for Reading West to "do a Martin Bell". Not, you understand, recruiting the great man in the white suit (Irony is prohibited when it is galumphing. Ed.) but not standing a candidate at all, as was done by both Labour and the LibDems in Tatton in 1997, giving rise to the hugely entertaining Battle of Knutsford Heath, a career in pantomime for the Hamiltons, Neil and Christine, and Hutch, without Starsky, active in British politics (Now I've heard everything. Ed.). This would give an independent candidate, should one be inclined to stand (whatever can she mean? Ed.) a real opportunity to take the seat. Otherwise such a candidate could perhaps legitimately be accused of simply ensuring a more comfortable victory for the Tory Alok Sharma than would otherwise be the case. Anyway, there is nothing on the LibDems' website to hint at anything of the sort, though I suppose that is the last place you would find it if it were true. Still, makes you think, dunnit? From what I know of the Reading West LibDems they hate the Reading Labour boys in general, and Martin Salter in particular, with a very great passion. So you wouldn't catch them voting Labour, eh Ricky? But...

Friday, 4 September 2009

doomed! not!

remember that Sars and bird flu were going to kill us all, and before that the Millennium Bug was going to Destroy The World? And that none of that happened? Well now the UK health top banana Sir Liam Donaldson says that swine flu is, er, not going to kill us all, and that fewer people are going to die of it than normally die of flu every year. That is because, Mesdames et Messieurs, swine flu ("Grippe A" as they call it here) has rather mild symptoms. So I am glad some people are coming to their senses. Here we still have a warning from the Prefet of Bas-Rhin (France has regional government yay!) that major public buildings might have to be closed in the event of a serious epidemic. What utter bollocks all this is.

When I was teaching English in Latvia in 2006 bird flu was being much talked of, and my students rather delightfully referred to it as "chicken grip".

Thursday, 3 September 2009

left or right?

if you try and find out which countries drive on the left by Googling you get a site called pubquizhelp, not very surprisingly. But as Samoa becomes the latest to change, I am indebted to Cllr Richard Willis for this post setting out the current situation. When I was young Sweden changed from left to right, and I was told in all seriousness by relatives that this left the UK alone in driving on the left (my family didn't get out that much). In fact a great many countries drive on the left, including Australia and New Zealand but also countries which have never been British, such as Mozambique and Japan. There are three others in the EU that do, apart from the UK - can readers name them without following the link to Cllr Willis' post?