Sunday, 29 April 2012

Best Blessings of Existence 31

In which Emma B. cannot always get what she wants.

It was ridiculous in retrospect. Her entire life from aged 10 onwards had been devoted to ‘get thin quick’ schemes and nine short months were dominated by manic efforts to transform herself into a generously proportioned elephant. To no avail She gained precisely one and half stones and did not acquire the bloom of the models in the Mother and Baby magazines.

You can’t always get what you want.

As the second trimester slipped into the third, the lack of general interest from her nearest and dearest in what would now be universally termed as her bump was disappointing.But she found that she did not care – much. An interesting new development was her enthusiasm for teaching.

Everyone at Oaks Haven – including Andrew Penn, was delighted that she intended to come back and her fifth form threw a surprise party for her in the school library. They had made cakes and savouries and had knitted bootees and matinee jackets. Her sixth form presented her with a copy of Richard Ellman’s biography of Oscar Wilde. The thought of returning to a promotional post was truly exciting. She would have a marriage, a baby and a career. And all the Truscott/Chase/Nicola and the kiddies/ Hunt / Cleghorn/Chudleigh/Donald and Gillian and Eric dissatisfactions could be sidelined.

Oscar Wilde was remarkably perspicacious.

To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance…….

Month six was accompanied by birthing preparation and she had a choice of the customary hospital classes conducted with chilly efficiency by a Nurse Ratched figure, or alternative sessions in a Community Centre run by the Dorlich Branch of Birth and Baby Bond. The latter was strongly recommended by Gillian, who was National Secretary of The Bond and had written various incomprehensible papers about perineums and dilation. She was a firm advocate of natural childbirth minus gas and air; pethidine and (perish the thought) epidural injection; predicting a grisly outcome for women who succumbed to these evils:

Of course you’ll want to go to the Bond classes; drug-free labour is best for baby by the by – you’re a bit on the small side – is it growing properly?) and all they want to do in hospital unless you’re VERY FIRM is to drug you up; cut you up and whip it out so they can re-use the suite. And some doctors are gung-ho with the scissors and it can wreak havoc with your sex life….. (winking at Donald).

The Dorlich Baby Bond sessions were run by women who spoke like the Chudleigh matrons and dressed in Indian cottons from the Adini label. She joined a small group of six and nobody was overtly unpleasant, but after the second session, she gave it up.
Everyone else was accompanied by Daddy, in the cloying words of Course Leader Hannah, and the Daddies were full participants, pushing and breathing beside their respective Mummies.
In fact, some of them were rather better at it, she reflected – and it did seem a shame that it would be Celina rather than Ned for example, who would be called upon to take centre stage when the time came.

Paul refused to accompany her:

Oh really darling – I mean – can you see me on the floor with my legs in the air? (an unfortunate comment in the circumstances). You’ll have to be a brave little soldier and go to the front on your own – and anyway, I’ve got fencing class at Chudleigh. It was a blessing really and an excuse to do what she liked best – read about it from the safety and sanctity of her own front room.

Gillian was caustic; questioning her full commitment to this pregnancy, especially in light of the appalling news that she had decided to continue with her job. Donald had been an absolute stalwart, attending every birthing class, and had gone beyond the call of duty by taking the reins as Treasurer of the Picks Norton Branch.

Of course, David and Susan had been dearly wanted children… (glancing at Paul).

They were sitting in Gillian’s new cane armchairs in the Picks Norton conservatory, sipping pre-dinner drinks. Paul (with bare feet and frayed jeans) was sitting opposite Donald (in light sports jacket and deck shoes). Good old Doz (laughing) quite the trooper weren’t you – all that panting and blowing with the girls!! You must have felt terribly deprived when Gilly had Caesars –

And that was the end of that.

She assembled piles of babygros and sleep suits; cot sheets and blankets. The pram, a carrycot/stroller hybrid, took pride of place in the hallway. And they bought a dog.

Her mother regarded the acquisition of Splosh; (a retriever /saluki cross masquerading as a red setter) as the pregnancy equivalent of sunstroke.

Everybody knew puppies were prone to extreme expressions of jealousy – such as biting newborn babies and even killing them. She did not expect to preside at a funeral before the christening of her first grandchild.

But Splosh, with his floppy ears; feathery back legs and boundless energy was, as the Prince of Wales would later observe in reference to his second wife: non-negotiable.

She had never taken to the standoffish cat Perdita, and Splosh was the perfect excuse to make Conyham Crescent a cat-free zone. He chewed her father’s slippers and slept on the marital bed – sometimes in the marital bed and a household with a dog and a baby on the way was a family.

Paul and Splosh became inseparable and the dog would sit on Paul’s greatcoat in The Falcon – an accepted member of their social set. Her husband considered himself to be the very model of a dog-owner (there are no bad dogs, only bad masters) but she deplored his method of dog- toilet training which consisted of alternately rubbing the dog’s nose in its faeces and administering a blistering kick to its side.
He had been caught in the act when she stumbled into the kitchen at dawn, having been woken from sleep by canine whimpers and squeals.

Splosh cowered next to the cooker and she thrust her pregnant stomach between him and Paul, screaming at him to kick her next.

For God’s sake don’t be so WET - he’s got to learn - unless you want to be treading in shit every morning? And anyway, he has learned now, haven’t you?
(scratching the dog’s ears as it licked his hand).

As it turned out, he had. There were no more ‘accidents’ and man and dog continued to enjoy a relationship of mutual devotion.

But she had not liked it. And when she later discovered Splosh happily chewing his way through Paul’s prized first edition of the Beckett novel, ‘Molloy’, she took its companion ,‘Malone Dies’, from the shelf and gave him that too.

Months seven, eight and nine crawled along; punctuated by heartburn and a slight recurrence of the original morning sickness. She started her maternity leave and mused about child care.

State nurseries were virtually non-existent and her idea of childminders was derived from lurid Victorian pot-boilers about baby-farming or kitchen sink stereotypes of curlers, fags, wet nappies and a general patina of neglect and grime.

The obvious solution was to employ a properly trained nanny – someone who would look after her baby in its own home while she was at work, and make themselves scarce when she returned. Cherry Peabody, aged 22, sporting a distinction in her child-care and nursery nurse course, fitted the bill and she felt tremendously efficient to have made these arrangements before even experiencing a contraction.

As month nine began, contractions were to the fore; in theory if not in practice. Now that she had declared UDI from The Birth and Baby Bond, she felt free to book an epidural in advance – and did.

She banned Paul from the birth.

It was going to be a nasty experience she could tell. She had no desire for her husband to see her trussed up like a chicken and possibly doing something unmentionable like losing control of her bowels at a key juncture. She did not see how marital relations (which had taken a nosedive anyway, due to her Hunt/Cleghorn/bookseller demons) could ever be resumed following such an occurrence.


Her idea of the perfect birth was to endure nobly ( assisted by the pain-dispelling epidural) and then to greet Paul with babe in arms, from the vantage point of a freshly plumped hospital pillow, glowing with health courtesy of Clarins, Chanel No 4 and Timotei.

That was the plan.

In reality, the baby was two weeks overdue and she was admitted to hospital for a pessary induction. It was horrible – all of it – and when she emerged from the other side – she understood why all her friends had discussed their pregnancies but not the births.

Honesty was not only not the best policy – its practice on the subject of childbirth would lead to the elimination of the human race because no woman alive would subject herself to such torture voluntarily.

The hours of waiting for the pessary to take effect were passed by a re-reading of Malcolm Bradbury’s campus novel, The History Man. She had loved it on publication because it reminded her of university days at Dorlich and now the onset of labour was punctuated by the escapades of Howard Kirk; Flora Beniform and the anally retentive student. She was transferred to the Delivery Suite just as Barbara Kirk concluded the novel by attempting suicide at her own party.

Suicide seemed the preferable option during the following hours when, amidst screams, she was informed by her anaesthetist that she was one of the unlucky 10% for whom epidurals did not work.

Nothing else worked either, including pethidine; gas and air and even the baby monitor which broke, eliciting controlled hysteria when it was assumed that the baby’s heart had stopped. Paul was telephoned at Bunter’s where he was wetting the baby’s head in advance of its birth, assisted by the Truscotts and Percy.

He arrived in the Delivery Suite to view his wife; legs akimbo in stirrups, screaming all the swear words in her vocabulary, plus some gas-and-air-induced imprecations about Frances Hunt and Aiden Cleghorn.

Vanessa June was born at 9 am after a thirty-six-hour labour. She was placed in an incubator and thence in a cot at the bedside of her mother on the ward.

The baby had mild jaundice, and breastfeeding was painful due to a touch of mastitis in her left breast.
She had booked to stay for a week – which was a relief because her parents had arrived and she suspected that once at home, she would revert to being the child as usual and her mother would transform into a larger than life Mummy/Grandma rolled into one. At least in hospital she was indubitably the mother and was called Mum by the nurses in case she was in danger of forgetting it.

Vanessa was a long baby with extremely big hands and tapering fingers (like meat hooks, announced Paul ). It was difficult to say whom she resembled if anybody and she only started to feel like a separate person as opposed to a body part that had miraculously become external ( like a heart or a pair of lungs ) when she overheard a nurse mention the baby’s name in conversation with the doctor.

Her parents visited daily – as did Paul – although in the devoted Daddy stakes, he was already falling short. Bonnie Corner, in the next bed; an experienced mum of three, was surrounded by flowers and gifts from her husband as marks of gratitude for the safe arrival of baby Joshua. Admittedly Ian Corner resembled an albino rabbit of middle years with squinting reddish eyes – but a present was a present and Bonnie had them and she did not.

Apart from a cheap tin of talcum powder courtesy of Ursula who took a quick look at her new sister and then started fidgeting and whingeing to be taken home.

Lynne came up trumps on her fleeting visit – although true to her word, Aunty Lynne was never an option:

Here (depositing two bottles of Moet et Chandon on the bed) this is for both of you. No, not you! (pointing at Paul). If she’s anything like her mother she’ll like this and she’ll get it through the breast milk. Nothing like starting early!

And she had cards and flowers from her teaching colleagues and Betty.

Two days before she was due to go home, Paul missed Visiting Hour. He had not mentioned a prior engagement and failing death, she could think of nothing that should take precedence over time spent in the company of his wife and new daughter.

On departure day, he was early, brandishing the brown corduroy carry cot and a white baby gro for Vanessa. She changed her baby’s nappy and looked at her husband.

He looked amazing.

Gone was his usual garb of ill-fitting jeans; frayed shirt and tattered combat jacket. He was wearing a sharp grey suit with matching waistcoat and a crisp tailored shirt fastened at the wrists with gold cufflinks which on closer inspection were mini compasses. His shoes were narrow, pointed, grey lace-ups and his hair was shaped and layered.

Her first thought was that he was a bastard because he had obviously indulged in an exorbitant sartorial splurge and had neglected to buy her anything for being virtually ripped asunder in the course of giving birth to his child.

Her second thought was that he was a bastard because the clothes were reminiscent of the Cleghorn/Hunt wardrobe – and where the hell had he been last night?

When his opening gambit was: I’ve got something to tell you, her second assumption was in the ascendant and she wondered who would look after Vanessa if her mother was imprisoned for murdering her father.

It was not infidelity but it was a betrayal of another nature.
He had got a new job.
Without saying a word, he had applied for the post of Head of Department at a fee- paying boys’ school. He had been interviewed for the post two days ago and that was why he had gone missing at visiting time. It was a highly academic establishment with no boarding component and habitually knocked the spots off Chudleigh for Oxbridge places. And it was in Northern England – almost another country.

So that was my surprise! exclaimed Paul with a merry laugh. Of course your Mum was in on it – I had to swear her to secrecy And now we’ll have our own home and our fresh start and it’s all you’ve ever wanted isn’t it?!

She asked what her father had said about it.

Well, not much – but you know, he never does, does he? Eric was thrilled of course – and Doz and Gilly were jealous! It was almost worth it for that!

She fiddled with the nappy pin. She had got the hang of disposables in hospital and the idea of switching to Terries and nappy pails at home was not appealing. But at the rate Vanessa was excreting, she would get through a pack of disposables in a day….

What about my job?

What? enquired Paul, You know, I think I can see a bit of Lilias in her. Around the eyes….

My job. I was going back to a scale post. And they’re expecting me. And I arranged all my maternity leave. And we’ve got Cherry for Vanessa…….

Oh – well not to worry darling! It was a grotty old dump anyway wasn’t it?
And everyone on the staff seemed a bit bonkers – like that drunk who pissed himself at Necker’s – remember?

You’ll be able to spend time with this little one – and pick something up later when you’ve shopped around. Absolutely no rush whatsoever – and we won’t need a nanny to start with because you’ll be at home, won’t you?

He was a bastard.

You bastard! You fucking nasty, selfish arsehole bastard! You swine! You FUCKING PIG!!!!

She had screamed at the top of her voice and was quickly surrounded by a posse of nurses; one whom she recognised from the Delivery Suite.

Now come on Mum – we can’t have you upsetting the babies can we? Mum’s a bit overwrought (glancing sympathetically at Paul) and Mum used a bit of BUILDERS’ LANGUAGE before baby made an entrance, now, what about a nice sweet cup of tea?

And she drank the tea and went home as a married woman; daughter; mother and dog-owner without a career.

Because you can’t always get what you want.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

We're not racist, says Ed Miliband

In a shock move today some days ago (this is the dead trees we are talking about), Labour leader Ed Miliband rushed to distance himself from the furore over Reading Labour's despicable desperate racist dog-whistle campaign in Church ward.  His "We're not racist" denial was reported in the Chronicle, so it must be true. 

"We're not racist"

dog-whistle girl
So that's all right then.  The Rt. Hon. The Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition has denied that there is a racist dog-whistle campaign going on. Good.  Excellent.  Feel better now, Mr Howarth (prop. Public Impact Ltd, remember "Your Better Off With Labour"?)?  On to new triumphs, hein?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

the Miliband in Reading - who's that girl?

although I always preferred Steve (remember "Black Panties And an Angel's Face" by the Steve Miller Band?) - anyway the pic you see has been posted by Reading Labour, well done boys, and it appears to picture 16 people, a number, but not all, of whom are known to me by sight or personally .  Now you'd think, wouldn't you, that those pictured with Ed the Glorious would be candidates for May 3rd.  Well, they are.  Except not all of them are there.  The Reading boys put the following caption to the picture on their Facebook page:

Ed Miliband outside Reading Station

Which seems to be 11 people.  Those named in the caption are the ones tagged in the picture. Gul Khan, on Mili-E's left, is a candidate but not named or tagged. Tony Page, in  the background (the fate of tall people in group photocalls, as I know), is a candidate, and is not tagged or named.  Neither is Liz Terry, second from left at the front.  But I don't know everybody there.  Why were they not all named and tagged?  Seems odd.  Who is the girl on Mili-E's right?  I don't know her.  Why was she not named or tagged when others were?  She couldn't be

dog-whistle girl

could she?  and if she is, why not name or tag her?

Just asking.

the Geordie loser loses it big

born and bred, not from Pakistan
 Fresh from his triumphal penning of the racist dog-whistle leaflet for Church ward in south Reading, pictured, in tandem with Mr Salter (of whom more below), Mr Howarth (prop. Public Impact Ltd, remember "Your Better Off With Labour"?) peppers the cybersphere with barely comprehensible semi-literate ramblings on the subject of education in east Reading.  He says he is the parent of three children and something in the same sentence about east Reading - his war with the English language is turning into a bloody rout, so it is hard to see what he meant to write through the miasma of pleonasm and linguistic barbarism - and me a professional editor.  Well, maybe so, but I know for a fact that at least two of his children were driven to school in "wealthy" Wokingham  from his then home in south Reading.  He has started a new family since, I am told.  Whatever. 

Though whatever the opposition to the school, the likely opposition to the prospect of the concreting over of a key green space in east Reading’s urban environment, one which Labour politicians including myself and the former MP, Martin Salter, in his time as a local councillor pledged to protect is likely to be even greater. I wish east Reading residents well in this battle and certainly hope, whatever the outcome on the Technical Academy, the current generation of Labour politicians will honour the pledges of their predecessors.

Yes, well spotted, people.  Mr Howarth has been spending so much time with Mr Salter lately that he cannot resist mentioning his name, despite the fact that it is irrelevant to the "issue" under discussion and that Mr S was never, despite his protestations to the contrary, the MP for east Reading.  Mr Howarth knows this very well, which is why he mentions Mr Salter's time as a local councillor in east Reading - a position he left more than 16 years ago.  Current Labour politicians must, he says "honour the pledges" of their predecessors.  Unto the seventh generation?

Monday, 23 April 2012


or Lower Rhine is the name of the departement of France I live in, and this is how that departement voted yesterday, according to francetv results service:

as you can see, it does not make pretty reading

Bas Rhin

1er tourRésultats

Participation :79.83%

Sarkozy 33.61% 196 968 votes

Le Pen 21.21% 124 264 votes

Hollande 19.57% 114 702 votes

Bayrou 11.94% 69 940 votes

Mélenchon 7.22% 42 300 votes

Joly 3.00% 16 188 votes

Dupont-Aignan 2.00% 10 173 votes

Poutou 1.00% 5 993 votes

Arthaud 0.64% 3 779 votes

Cheminade 0.28% 1 655 votes

Votes blancs et nuls1.88%

not one of us

this is a guest post from Flashing Blade, reposted from his site with his permission.  Interesting that this is the phrase automatically chosen, hein?

I return to the despicable, desperate, ‘dog-whistle’ racist leaflet produced by John Howarth’s Public Impact Ltd for Reading Labour Party.

On my twitter feed the chief political commentator of the Independent on Sunday, John Rentoul retweeted an article in the Sunday Telegraph religion section about the favourite to be the next Archbisop of Cantebury, Dr John Sentamu. It was retweeted by Mr Rentoul to highlight the use of language in the piece but I noticed something separate:

Reading Labour racist dog-whistle

“At its best, the besmirching of John Sentamu has revealed that strand of snobbery which views outsiders as lacking class, diplomacy or civility — in other words ‘not one of us,’” said the Rev Arun Arora.
“At worst, it has elicited the naked racism which still bubbles under the surface in our society, and which is exposed when a black man is in line to break the chains of history.”

The last paragraph won the Daniel Hannan award for mixed metaphor of the day. The use of ‘one of us’ in the first paragraph quoted is interesting as showing that what is meant by the use of the phrase are “outsiders” lacking “class, diplomacy or civility” that it has highlighted “the naked racism which still bubbles under the surface” Whereas the Reading Labour Party agent tries to justify the use of the term “one of us”, in terms of a white woman candidate ‘born and bred’ on the other side of the town, in drawing a distinction with a Pakistani born, local-living candidate:
“Labour voters in Church Ward are entitled to know that their candidate is not likely to abandon her party and that she understands the issues that matter to them. In other words, she is ’one of us’,”
And the school-girlish Sarah “No Councillor” Hacker tries to justify the term thus:
“As for the statement ‘one of us’. Again, how is this racist? Who is defining ‘us’? Reading Labour are defining it as a resident, a family…”
Both of the defences mentioned above fail totally to address the racist aspect of the use of the term, the drawing of ‘the us’ against the other in the use in Church ward highlighted by the quote from the paper.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Dial M For Murdoch

I downloaded this to my Kindle yesterday (oh how I love that thing) and have now read it.  I must say I was impressed with it as a source book.  It is clear, mostly chronological, and detailed while being readable.  It has a clear agenda, that the Murdoch Empire is Evil and has Corrupted Britain.  Well, that is not the full story, as any fule kno.

Tom Watson and Martin Hickman have put together quite an impressive account, which work has probably done much to save Watson's sanity.  But it is those who appear to be mad and obsessed who have often got hold of something which is true and/or needs to be disclosed, against the forces of those who not want the stone lifted up.  There is quite a lot of cut-and-paste in this, as you might expect.  For example, early on they trot out the story about the paediatrician whose job title was mistaken for paedophile - but they copied that from the Guardian, and it is wrong.  No paediatrician was burned out of their home, either.  Mr Salter was in on this stuff, as I noted here last summer.

Thes two have worked hard to find some impressive and entertaining quotes, such from as the New York Times, which described those attending the British Press Awards 2005, at which the News of the World won a bunch of awards, as "a club of misanthropic inebriates".  Larf?  I nearly passed me fags round.

Pertinent to the same previous post of mine is this: "In February 2003 Devon and Cornwall (police) had raided Lawson's (a private investigator) firm, Abbey Investigations, and found that in late 2000 Lawson had supplied a national newspaper with checks of the criminal records of Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nick Brown, then Agriculture Minister, and another Labour MP, Martin Salter.  The newspaper which bought the checks (which came back blank) has never been named but, in 2000 and 2001, News International was siding with Tony Blair in his frequent rows with Gordon Brown, and Rebekah Wade's News of the World had placed Salter on a 'naming and shaming' list for criticising the 'For Sarah' campaign."  This is the only place I have seen that the checks came back blank.  Even Salter didn't say so at the time, as well he might not, because he has frequently bragged that he has  criminal convictions for possession of cannabis and assault.  Any other report or mention I have seen has said that the criminal record checks produced nothing of interest.  Not to that thread, no.  But a criminal record check obtained informally as opposed to a CRB check, would show everything on the record, including spent convictions.  Just saying.

The "For Neville" email was sent on 29th June 2006,  and it contained transcripts of voicemail messages between Gordon Taylor, head of the Professional Footballers' Association, and an associate.  The content was not apparently very interesting, it was just that it was clear from the transcripts that phones had been hacked - and now this had been disclosed to its victim.  All this stuff is what this book says, others may dispute it on matters of fact, I don't know.  I do know that Neville Thurlbeck, former chief reporter, is most offended at having it said, later in the book, that he inhabits a semi-detached house.  For example.

In October 2007 there was a clause in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill which provided for a custodial sentence for breaches of the Data Protection Act.  By the following April this clause had been dropped, although the Bill had been ready for royal assent the previous October.  Journalists and executives might have gone to prison otherwise.  I'm prepared to believe that. But who knew?

On the Max Mosley story (Nazi orgy which wasn't), Neville Thurlbeck allegedly emailed one of the women present to threaten that if she and the others did not cooperate in the writing of a follow-up story unpixilated pictures of them would be published, thus identifying them. According to this book Thurlbeck acknowledged doing this, under pressure from above. But sometimes there is a whiff of conspiracy theory here.  Chris Bryant, well known for being self-important as well as loathsome in various ways, said that the underpants picture of him (from the Gaydar site, seeking partners) was published eight months after he had asked Rebekah Wade in Parliament about payments to police.  It might, just, be that News International had other priorities than Mr Bryant's underpants.

Quoting from Thurlbeck (in a private conversation with Tom Watson): "All I know is that when the DCMS was formed, or rather when it got on to all the hacking stuff, there was an edict came down from the editor and it was find out every single thing you can about every single member: who was gay, who had affairs, anything we can use.  Each reporter was given two members and there were six reporters - that went on for about ten days.  I don't know who looked at you. It fell by the wayside: I think even Ian Edmondson (the news editor) realised that there was something quite horrible about this."  If I were a member of a Select Committee of the House of Commons (and I have been) I would be surprised if the tabloids were not snooping around.  Thurlbeck has professed himself pissed off at his confidence being breached in this way, by quoting a private conversation in this book.  I don't see why.  Happens all the time.  Has happened to me loads of times.  He calls the task of snooping espionage rather than journalism.  Well, maybe, but I don't really see that.

The book is a smooth read, as befits something basically written by a journalist.  There are not that many infelicities, considering that it has been produced quite quickly, although a CID officer is named "Fillergy" and "Fillery" in the same paragraph.

News International tried to marginalise those who were seeking to make its life difficult.  Well, what would you expect it to do?  What do people generally do? What would you do? At a BSkyB reception at Labour Party Conference 2010, a Times journalist told the Labour MP Stephen Pound that Tom Watson MP was about to check in at the Betty Ford clinic because of heavy drinking.  What is amazing about this, if true, is not that it was said, but that Tom Watson did, or at least he says he did, give up drinking for six months as a result.  Who's the patsy here?  Do the tabloids tell MPs how to live their lives? Should they? Should MPs obey?

It is very helpful to have detailed just how Yates of the Yard (and others) failed to check the evidence of criminality that they had been given.  Good to have all this stuff in one place.

Neville Thurlbeck (who has a "soft and precise Wearside accent", hmmm) was arrested in April 2011.  On 4th July 2011 the Guardian broke a story that the NotW had deleted messages on the phone voicemail of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler, to make room for more.  At that time the Met, Surrey police, NI and the Dowler family all believed the NotW was responsible for the deletions.  Five months later the Guardian would admit that this was bollocks.  Still, whatever, hey.  It's only the red-tops that make things up, hein?

The answers to the crossword in the final edition of the News of the World (1 across, 4 down, 10 across, 7 down) were Tomorrow, We, Are, Sacked.  Lolz.  I've kept that edition, as a souvenir.

The book reminds us that, when asked why he had not dismissed Neville Thurlbeck, at the parliamentary inquiry in July 2011, James Murdoch said he had never heard of him.  Was this true?

Scotland Yard was "humiliated" by the launch of a new, "proper" investigation.  Hmmm.

Potential smears, too.  The NI receptions at the 2011 party conferences were cancelled, but Michael Gove MP, Conservative Education Secretary (whose wife is a Times journalist) took the opportunity to praise Murdoch anyway.  "Gove's experience as Education Secretary might be useful if, as has been suggested, News Corporation makes a move into the educational publishing business."  I love that "as has been suggested".  I use it all the time.  It's how not to have to back up what you say as fact, and how to protect your sources.

Watson's approach and dialogue sometimes appear juvenile, and he does chase the cheap sound-bite.  Quoting himself at a parliamentary hearing: "Mr Murdoch, you must be the first mafia boss in history who didn't know he was running a criminal enterprise."  Whatever else James Murdoch might be, he is not a mafia boss.

After the Guardian's Marina Hyde had wrongly reported that the Sun had doorstepped one of the Leveson Inquiry's junior counsel, a couriered parcel arrived from Wapping for Alan Rusbridger, containing a  toilet roll and a note which read "I hear Marina Hyde's turd landed on your desk.  Well, you can use this to wipe her arse."  Mmmm, stylish.  But Marina Hyde is a shit, so very pleasing.

Chris Bryant said early in 2012, rightly, that there was a "three-headed scandal... mass criminality, then the mass cover-up and then, from 2007, the inexplicable failure of the Met properly to investigate..." But it does seem a bit like special pleading when it is the victims of the tabloids who are the ones wielding the trusty sword of truth.

Sometimes facile "the battle of Prince William's wounded knee".

Well, those are my impressionistic quotes and observations.  While I have no time for Tom Watson and his associates, I am glad to have read the book.  I am glad I have it, because it is informative, and those mentioned in it are likely to come forward now and say so if they have been misreported there.  Which is all to the good.  I'd love to know what those closer to the centre of these matters actually think now.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

the headless man!

headless man flyer
perhaps I have a nasty mind, or a long memory, but putting out a picture of a headless man* is a little, er, insinuatory, hein?  Even if they are too callow or stupid to have meant that - and I do not think Messrs Salter and Howarth are either thing -  the fact that they did not want even to attempt a representation of the man they are talking about speaks volumes in itself.  I remember in John O'Farrell's very amusing book Things Can Only Get Better, about growing up a Labour supporter in the 1980s, he refers to the humourlessness of the time - no cartoon or picture could be created of any non-white person, because that would be racist.  Of course, he and his friends did not personally know anyone who was not white and middle class.  The 1980s is the decade Messrs Salter and Howarth have never left, politically and in other ways.  Fortunately, others have moved on, even in Reading politics.  Now, let's get factual on yo asses: I worked with Azam Janjua for several years, when he was a Labour councillor and I was a Labour MP.  He used to join me at surgeries in the ward, which the other two councillors could not be bothered to do, and I saw him hard at work there all the time.  I remember one time a woman came in to see me, and when she saw Azam Janjua was there, she said to me "Oh, it's OK, I'll talk to the councillor, he knows how to get things done."  Back when Church ward was Labour the other two councillors were Christine Grieve and Chris Goodall.  Despite his reputation Goodall did come out with me on occasion, and he did do some work when approached by residents.  Grieve however could not be bothered.  She was usually at choir practice in Caversham when anything needed doing.  Well, Grieve is history, I am glad to say.  The residents think so too.  "Stuck-up cow" and "bossy-boots" were some of the nicer things they had to say about her.

For the record, Azam Janjua worked hard for the people of Church ward for many years.  He treated people with courtesy and respect at all times, and they voted for him, and have continued to do so, as a result. I watched him work, and he was not a big fan of paperwork.  He was still working as a taxi driver then, long hours, and he used to say that time spent filling in forms was time he couldn't spend talking to people and trying to help sort out their problems.  The only criticism Messrs Salter and Howarth can find is that he doesn't fill in enough forms.  And as for changing parties, why then is it OK for their candidate in Redlands ward, Tony Jones, to go from Labour to Independent and back again when it suits him, but not for anyone else to change parties?

The insinuations being made are gross, disgusting and backed up by NOTHING.  If there is evidence then let it be made public.  Nothing ever has been.  These therefore are filthy slurs.  I don't know the Labour candidate in Church ward.  I do know she didn't write this stuff.  She has made a mistake in standing, because this filth is being sent out in her name.  She deserves to lose, and, win or lose, she will have a lot of ground to make up with decent people in south Reading and elsewhere.

*headless man: code for sexual misdemeanours.  There is or was a famous photograph of a man whose head could not be seen,  I'll spare you the rest.  The Guardian won't.

Friday, 20 April 2012

to add to the dog-whistle

this is what the Labour boys think about their candidate in Church ward

is it me, or are we missing some content here?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

how would the cartoons vote?

20 Minutes, the free paper you get on the tram, has a feature today on how the cartoon characters beloved of millions would vote.  Remembering that we are in France, I am talking the presidential election, whose first round is on Sunday.  Sadly I do not have the right to vote here - yet - but that is another story.  There are ten candidates, outgoing (yes!) President Sarkozy, and his Parti Socialiste opponent, favourite in the polls Francois Hollande, may well be known to cross-Channel and other non-France readers, the others less likely.  Anyway, I will do my best.  The feature had some fun plays on words, but I will not try to translate those.  That way madness lies.

SpongeBob SquarePants, who has been vilified by the American Right for believing that climate change is real, would vote Eva Joly.  She is the Green candidate,, and is currently wearing green glasses to prove it.  I like her a lot.  She is not French but Norwegian, and her accent is relentlessly mocked and vilified.  This is partly why I like her.

Batman, who believes in zero tolerance and who is against corrupt elites, would be at one with Marine Le Pen (Blonde Catwoman, this paper calls her), especially as one of the Batman original artists is very much of the right politically.  Marine Le Pen is Front National - well, I don't need to tell you what that is, I hope.

Princess Leia of StarWars is for a legitimate democracy.  What those wars were all about really, or so say some of the fans.  She is voting Sarkozy.

Marge Simpson, who, according to her creator, Matt Groening, would have voted for Obama, because she believes in social justice and will vote for a person with a good voice, is voting Jean-Luc Melenchon. He is the candidate to the left of the Parti Socialiste, and is a terrific speaker.  Currently doing very well in the polls.  Tomorrow is the last day polls are allowed.  Campaigning stops tomorrow too.

Super Mario is for Philippe Poutou, a kind of bizarre Gaullist who says he is the voice of the people.  Because he supports the workers.  Go figure.

The Blues are voting Red.  It says here.  The Smurfs (les Schtroumpfs in French) have created a collective syndicalist movement, and effectively embody the dictatorship of the proletariat.  It says here.  How we roared.  Anyway, they are voting Nathalie Arthaud, who describes herself as the communist candidate, and who is in fact a Trot gobshite.

ET is from, and mostly on, another planet.  He is therefore voting for Jacques Cheminade, who is - get this - a supporter of Lyndon LaRouche and thinks the Queen is a drug dealer.

Prince Charming - remember that Cinderella and many other beloved fairy tales were first written in French  - is voting for Mr MoDem, which means something like LibDem, Francois Bayrou, currently fourth in the polls after Marine Le Pen.

The Gaulish Gaullists - Asterix and his pals - are voting for Nicolas Dupot-Aignan.  He describes himself as  Gaullist of the right, and, er, you what?  No clue.  Less than one per cent in the polls today.

And our friend Francois Hollande of the Socialists gets the support of - sorry probably not much known outside France and Japan - Naruto.  He is a funny little person taken seriously by nobody but who finishes up as the Great Ninja of them all.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

look at this (if you're one of us)

John Howarth's company's services
for which I am indebted to Was, who is good at this stuff.  I wonder (silly old me) why in the box in the centre of the page the word "labour", clearly intending to refer to the Labour Party, has a lower-case initial letter, when higher up the page, and in all other conventions, it is upper case?  Just asking, still, remember "Your better off with Labour"?  Anyway, Mr Howarth's company is still providing these services, because it gets a credit for printing Labour Party leaflets, calling cards and so on to this day.  The text is usually worked on by himself and Mr Salter, who decide the line to take.  The line they decided on for Church ward for this election was the line I have heard them both express many times, namely that the people who live in Church ward in south Reading are racist.  This is presumably why they decided on the "one of us" leaflet you see below.  I don't know how the people of Church ward are going to vote on May 3rd, and what the figures will look like, but I do know that this leaflet has had an effect - and not in a good way for Messrs Salter and Howarth

the racist dog-whistle leaflet
oh and the "one of us" story has now appeared on His Master's Voice's website here and the comments are mostly not mad, but rather considered, and, I submit, do give an idea of what readers of that organ are thinking.

this is not a war

says the Filth, kindly exposed to the world by Norm.  Yes I know this is a couple of days old, but hey, I have just been celebrating my birthday and thinking about other things.  Anyway, this is what the Filth had to say about the start of the trial of Anders Breivik in Norway.

To its credit, Norway has refused to rise to Breivik's provocation. There is nothing that fanatics who see themselves as warriors want more than to provoke an over-reaction. That was the mistake that the United States made after 9/11. Even though Breivik's acts are abnormal and abhorrent, Norway has rightly put him on trial in the normal way, has emphasised that he has rights, and has allowed him to have his say in court, however painful that may be. This is absolutely the correct way to assert the strength of democracy and the rule of law in the face of acts of terror of all kinds. This is not a war. It is a challenge to the rule of law, and it must be met with an assertion of the rule of law, not by its abrogation.

How odd to raise a comparison with 9/11 and (presumably) Guantanamo Bay.  Of course "this" is not a war, whatever organisations Breivik might have consulted or had links with.  What did the Filth think Norway might have done?  Started putting people in orange jumpsuits because they had blond hair or right-wing views?  It's too bizarre.  Breivik murdered a lot of people.  He was seen doing it and arrested.  He didn't try to kill himself, as some do who do these things.  If (here comes the counterfactual) he had managed to escape the police, he might have been killed while being captured, as would eventually have happened.  Would that have been an "abrogation of the rule of law"?  I only ask.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

the dead trees begin to take notice 2

I didn't think it would take long.  A reader has just sent me a clipping from His Master's Voice, below, which does not of course mention the breaker of the story, namely moi.  Apparently it was buried somewhere deep in the dead-tree edition on Friday.  Thanks, and glad to set the record straight.

the dead trees begin to take notice

the Reading ones that is.  Yes folks, step forward the Reading Chronicle, which has this on Reading Labour's racist dog-whistle, fairly factual on the whole, unlike His Master's Voice, which so far, on its website at least , has been silent on the issue.  Well, there's only been what looks like a criminal offence committed by a candidate a matter of days before a local election, and only a racist dog-whistle publication which has become a national disgrace, so nothing to get in the way of Whitley Dad Pissed Off With Council and Tragic Teen In Plea For Money, hein?  So big up the Chronicle, considering how poisonous the political climate is in Reading.

Word reaches me too of a late surge in the LibDem vote in Church ward.  Unlikely, you might say.  I thought so too.  And how much it will amount to on May 3rd I don't know.  But some people are saying they will not vote for a party (Labour) which has called them racist, and they have never been Tory voters, and at least the LibDems don't insult them.  Hmmm.

I've known for a long time what the Reading Labour boys think of the people of south Reading, because I've heard them say it.  Racist, they say.  That's why the local party members are not usually allowed to choose a candidate, unlike other wards, because they cannot be trusted to choose the one the boys want.  I know that the people of Church ward are not racist, and the local party members I know are not either.

There's still time to withdraw the leaflet, apologise and move on.  You will (probably) be forgiven electorally.  You weren't when at least one of your candidates was responsible for electoral fraud in Redlands - you lost every councillor there.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

look and learn, Labour Party

former general secretary Peter Watt fires a warning shot about Labour's addiction to control.  As well he might.

ten years since something that never happened

namely the Jenin "massacre" as it was called at the time, on the West Bank.  Which, as anyone who follows events in that region knows, did not happen.  But which would be thought to have happened by anyone who gets their information about the world from the Guardian.  Which said it happened.  A guest post on Harry's Place makes a timely reminder that that organ is not the best place through which to understand the world.  It is worth a read.  Oh and when I mention something like this I don't usually tweet the post.  You've only got to look at the comments on the Guardian's Comment is Free to understand why.

one of us

yes, that again.  Here is Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail:

In a ward of Reading — one of those southern English towns where Ed Miliband is desperate to make local-election gains — Labour has shipped in a white person to fight the Tory candidate, an Asian. Labour leaflets describe their woman, Eileen McElligott, as being ‘born and bred in Reading’. They add, subtly: ‘She is one of us.’
Imagine the Left’s outrage if Tory leaflets ever said such things against an Asian Labour candidate.

Read more:

Imagine indeed.  National coverage in their dearly beloved dead-tree media, written by "proper" journalists - and they still think this is OK?  Putative parliamentary candidate Rachel Eden still has the possibly criminal letter on her website?  Outrage on the doorsteps in Church ward as voters rail in fury at being called racist by the Labour Party?  And just what do you imagine the other parties are saying on those very doorsteps?  The Tories are mostly too clever to put anything "difficult" in their leaflets, but will talk up a storm: the LibDem publications have splashed this story everywhere, using words like "shameful".  Only the Greens  seem to think dog-whistle tactics are OK.  Well, there you are.

Friday, 13 April 2012

the passage of power, by Robert Caro - LBJ

is the title of the new volume in the series which forms the great biography of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro.  It is the best study of political power I have ever read.  I have been waiting years for the latest one, and have just pre-ordered it.  Read the others now if you can, but be warned, it is "du boulot" as the French say, there is a lot in it.  The books are long, and they are detailed, and they are fascinating.  The effect of the coming of electricity to rural Texas on the politics of the state?  How rural women did washing in that state?  How the farming was done?  How the Senate was taken over and controlled?  How civil rights legislation was introduced, after decades of failure?  How the Senate election of 1948 was stolen?  It's all there.  There has been about a ten-year gap between the appearance of each volume, and Caro is 76 now, so I am relieved that he has found the time to write it.  You can read a lovely profile of him here and you can start with volume 1 here if you haven't discovered these books yet.  I love his style - the long looping paragraphs followed by one-sentence ones.  I wish I had had the chance to read these before i went into politics, but they came out during those years.  Highly recommended.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

you can't read this book

I am a huge admirer of Nick Cohen, and yet I was a little disappointed in this book of his.  It reads like a collection of newspaper articles, and there is nothing wrong with that, but I just found it a bit slick.  He is wrong on the English libel laws.  He is against them as they currently are, on free-speech grounds.  Of which, possibly, more later.  In general terms though he is good in this book.  On blogging and so on, which some of us do quite often, he says "politically active Westerners can find that the Web seduces them away from the public they need to influence - it gives them unrestricted freedom, and then denies them the audience that makes that freedom effective".  This I think is right, and is the downside (there is always a downside) of the internet debate, dialogue, call it what you will.  This is why the Reading boys are wrong to be solely in broadcast mode in their online presence, because they have not understood that others can say exactly what they like - their own denial of a platform does not mean that the platform is not there.  You really can say what you like, and no-one (almost) can stop you saying it, but equally, no-one is reading.  Or, most of the time, most people are not.  So what is the alternative?  Ah, well, there is the rub.

He appears to be a sound interventionist: (here on Belarus) "if the men with guns do not want democratic change it takes other men with guns to make them change their minds."  I do not think this can be faulted. Go on then, if you think you can.

Thanks Nick for this book, ,and I'm sorry I was a little disappointed.  This time.  But you are a sound man.  And I am sorry I refused you a cigarette that time in the Strangers' Bar at the Commons, because you were not Blairite enough for me.  And nearly nine years ago I gave up smoking, so I can't offer you one now, even if you still wanted it.

east of Eden

Rachel Eden, the Reading councillor the boys want to be the parliamentary candidate in Reading West, posted something exceedingly bizarre on her blog yesterday.  You can see it here.  She appends to it the text of the letter from the Labour agent to Alison Swaddle of the Reading East Conservatives.  This is the letter which was first placed in the public domain by Tony Jones, who took it down swiftly when he realised that publicising it might be a criminal offence under the Representation of the People Act 1983 - but not before his post had been gleefully screenshotted and reposted by me and several others.  So now the only Reading Labour person to have the letter in the public domain is Rachel Eden.  I commented on her blog, kindly and gently, to ask why.  Comment moderation appears not to have approved my comment.  Shame.  Never mind, you can read it all elsewhere.

the dead trees get it wrong - again

the Independent is a bit of a LibDem rag and as such of no interest to anyone really.  However, their Diary column is often rather good - it is written by Andy McSmith.  Now I've been informed on several occasions that items which appear in Diary columns don't have to be, er, true  or anything, they can be made-up slurs, and in fact usually are.  This is what they have to say today, fisking as usual mine.

Something rotten in Reading

If Oscar Wilde were alive now, he might write a Ballad of Reading East, wish I'd thought of that one in which "some grow mad and all grow bad", because something is poisoning the political atmosphere in that constituency.

A few months ago, the Tories in Reading East deselected a councillor, Jamie Chowdhary, reputedly because he was too close to the former Tory council leader Andrew Cumpsty, who was on the way out. They threatened to expel another, Mark Ralph, who publicly objected. Baroness Warsi, intervened to prevent Councillor Ralph's expulsion, but to no avail. This week, he announced that he is resigning. Reading East is also the only constituency in a generation, no, the first one, there were several Labour ones later where a sitting MP was sacked no, deselected, I continued as Reading East MP for another 15 months,  not even the Reading Labour boys could manage a sacking by the local members of the Labour Party. Jane Griffiths, who lost the seat in 2005 no I didn't, I stood down, has accused her former colleagues of being "racist"  no I haven't, I have said that the "one of us" leaflet is racist because it is using dog-whistle language.  I have not accused any individual or group of being racist. because of an election leaflet in which a Labour council candidate, Eileen McElligott, is described as "one of us" – as if to imply that there is something alien about her opponent, Azam Janjua, who, by the way, used to be a Labour councillor before he switched to the Conservatives and you don't say why he did, what was done to him by Reading Labour, and how the then Reading West Labour MP, Martin Salter, was involved

So you see, Mr McSmith. spectacularly wrong.  But it's only a Diary piece, hey, so keep the lies coming

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

nope. phrase still missing

one of us?  born and bred?  don't think so

criminal defamation

Was suggests that Reading Labour may have committed this offence under Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, because Azam Janjua is a candidate in an election which is imminent, and a Labour candidate (Tony Jones) has published on his website an extract from a letter from the Labour agent in Reading, David Absolom, which states that Azam Janjua has committed an offence of (unspecified) misconduct.  The actual wording is "disowned by the Labour Group following allegations of misconduct".  You will find here the text of a public statement, made in Reading's council chamber in March 2008 by the then leader of the council, David Sutton, in answer to a question from Marian Livingston, now herself a Labour councillor.  Sutton said in that statement that he was making it after discovering that Azam Janjua had joined the Conservatives and been selected by them to stand in Church ward, the ward he had previously represented for Labour until he stood down in 2007, citing family reasons.  He also said that the allegation of misconduct was made in "late 2006".  There is no evidence that the police were ever involved, or that any allegation was ever substantiated.  To this day no evidence has been produced in support of any allegation against Azam Janjua.  A letter from then MP for Reading West Martin Salter, in whose office the alleged incident allegedly took place, was referred to at this time but has never been produced.  Sutton did not say why no public statement was made for well over a year, other than to refer to his own personal "outrage" at Azam Janjua's selection for the Conservatives.  He offered no information about the position of Azam Janjua in the Labour Group from "late 2006" until he stood down from the council before the elections in May 2007.  Azam Janjua remained a Labour councillor until he left the council in 2007.  So at least up to May 2007 he had not been in any way "disowned" - and in March 2008 he was neither a councillor nor a member of the Labour Party, so the question of "disowning" does not arise.  Therefore, to help Was with the sequence of events, it clearly was (1) allegations of misconduct (2) resignation from council (3) joining the Conservative Party (4) selection as candidate for Church ward for the Conservatives (5) public statement by David Sutton.

Was has this to say:
1) Something did happen and Labour covered up a criminal act in their offices by someone who was then a member.
2) They required something to smear Cllr Janjua with after his defection and cobbled together a bogus story which explains why they never went to the police.
In the absence of any report to the police and the failure to provide even a shred of evidence to back up their accusation, we are left with only the one conclusion that this is a clear attempt to defame an election candidate which is contrary to section 106 of the Representation of the People's Act 1983.

On serious reflection I think Was is right.  It is for Reading Labour to substantiate or withdraw the allegation they have caused to be published on Tony Jones' website (and which has subsequently been published elsewhere), and if they do not do this it is for the Reading East Conservative Associatin or its Agent to initiate an action under the Act.

Oh and Reading Labour could withdraw their racist dog-whistle leaflet while they're about it.  It's been reproduced on large numbers of national political websites and is "most-read" on many of them.  Not for good reasons, boys.  Say sorry and move on.

No, Councillor

Welll, Ms Hacker shares a surname with the Yes, Minister character.  Flashing Blade has this to say on Reading Labour's twentieth-century broadcast-not-receive mode. She has forgotten to let through my comment on her post from yesterday, so here it is:

Hello Sarah. it wasn't the Tories who first mentioned the atrocious despicable dog-whistle racist Labour leaflet for Church ward, it was me. It was picked up by others afterwards. How shameful that you lend yourself to such tactics. I hope your constituents can forgive you for it.

and here is her reply by email:

I know. I saw your tweet. It's a nonsense. I am not shamed, my post is not shameful. Your opinion means nothing to me.

and here is my reply to that:

Oh yes it is. Shameful. You have lent yourself to lies. And racist

lies at that. Go talk to the Bajans and other ethnic minorities you
represent. You do talk to them don't you? I REALLY hope so. And
just a small question - you say "I know" i.e. you know that you lied
when you said it was the Tories who first mentioned the atrocious
dog-whistle racist Reading Labour leaflet - so how do you justify
saying you are rebutting the Tories when it was not their line in the
first place? Just asking.


a few corrections

Adrian Windisch (nice bloke, shame about the politics) has had this to say, fisking mine as usual:

Now theres a phrase ("one of us") that can have dfferent meanings. If you are a Tory, LD (or Jane Griffiths) it has racist overtones.  I did not say the phrase itself was racist.  I said that used in the context it was it was a dog-whistle to racists - and also that the stated view of Mr Howarth of Public Impact Limited the Church ward electorate is indeed racist.  I have heard him and Mr Salter say so.

Reading Labour are defining it as "a resident, a family, someone being effected by the harsh cuts brought about by national government, a worker, a parent, a Labour member." That's what they say now, when challenged on their racist dog-whistle.
When I see someone being attacked I like to look at the facts for myself. Who has been attacked? In the last few years I even defended my General Election rival LD Daisy Benson .
I said at the time. 'In the past Reading Labour have said the Greens were linked with terrorists or another year they said we had links with the bnp. Again these attacks were so ridiculous that they did more damage to Labour, calling into question everything they said.' And following this Jane tries to link me to the Latvian Green Party, she seems a bit focused on WW2. "In Latvia they were overtly racist in government, promoting the expulsion of all Jews from Latvia." They were, and this was earlier this century, not at the time of WW2 - the rest of the Green movement did not disown them. If true this would make them the opposite of every Green Party I have heard of, and they should be removed from any link to the rest of us.
So yesterday I pointed out how the phrase 'born and bred' is not uncommon. Jane Griffiths says that two of my examples are 'black', which she thinks makes me wrong. I didn't say the examples were "black", that would have been meaningless.  I said the phrase was used, in two of the four examples given, as code for race.Actually that makes my case, it isn't a white supremecist code word if its in common usage by non white candidates.
Tory Cllr Isobell says Labour's behaviour was 'arrogant' and 'unjust'. Jane claims that Isobel says 'She also directly criticises Green Party chairperson Adrian Windisch for attempting to defend Labour, saying he has been taken for a fool.' Jane says 'She's right.' Actually Isobel says 'Unlike Adrian, they are not fooled.' Yes.  Read it again.  "Unlike...not fooled" means "was fooled".  English, dontcha know. So much for accuracy then. And this sort of 'untruth' gets repeated.
LD Orangepan says 'She is supported by Green Party stalwart (and former Battle ward resident)' Adrian Windisch. But when repeating this Jane says '(and Battle ward resident)'. I moved to Earley a couple of years ago. Perhaps Orangepan updated this when he realised his error and just didnt say he had done this That I think is what happened.  Actually Adrian I don't care where you live. Poor journalism in either case.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Oranjepan is full of it

Berkshire blogger Oranjepan has this to say, and (sigh) I am obliged to do a little light rebuttal

Reading Borough Council's local election campaign exploded into controversy this week as accusations and counter-accusations exposed the political divisions between the parties.

Following the deselection of sitting Conservative councillor, Jamie Chaudhary, over an internal 'vendetta', the Peppard ward representative announced his party resignation during the full public session of the Council amidst cheering by Greens and Labour that he would take legal action against the party. 

Cllr Chaudhary declared he is to stand as an independent candidate against his former colleagues with the backing of local members and officers.

Former Labour representative Jane Griffiths, who had a similar experience when she controversially became the fist typo! sitting MP to be deselected no, just the first Labour MP in about ten years, there were quite a number of others to follow, and mine had been preceded by a Tory in Surrey Heath rejects claims that the decision was for 'health' reasons, and provides the insight that public splits of this sort are rarely conducive to successful election campaigns.  I said nothing of the sort.  Wrong.

LibDem Gareth Epps pays tribute to his opposite number, describing Cllr Chaudhary as "one of the most able and hardest-working" members of the tory group, adding his view that these events have been part of a 'murky process'.

Meanwhile Labour was forced onto the backfoot when an election leaflet used phrases described as a 'dog-whistle' to racists.

Battle ward's Cllr Sarah Hacker attempted to defend the combination of two divisive phrases by examining them separately, as threats of legal action were made by electoral agent David Absolom if tories didn't withdraw their 'smears'.  I have commented on Sarah Hacker's post.  Moderation is on, so I hope she lets it through.  If she does not I will post my comment independently.  My main point is that the issue was first raised in the public sphere by me.

She is supported by Green Party stalwart (and Battle ward resident) Adrian Windisch who similarly prefers to interpret each phrase in isolation.

Labour councillor Tony Jones rejects outright any accusation of racism towards Azam Janjua, explaining that the underlying attack is because the Conservative candidate for Church ward is a 'political turncoat' who defected from Labour amidst allegations of misconduct. A bit rich, coming from someone who publicly defected from the party he had represented for decades - And then went back.  Turncoatism writ large methinks.

Other commentators have been scathing in their criticism.

Jane Griffiths was a victim of Labour's internal party factionalism no I wasn't, I was seen as a threat by a group of men, who never said why and she notes the irony no I don't - this is a word I avoid using, and not something I did  of Mr Absolom's wish for a 'civilised and sensible campaign' having stirred up this vitriolic feud. Jane explains that this amounts to a climbdown by Labour yes, but in respect of the last sentence in the Howarth-penned (you can tell by the typos) where they say they "did not intend" - a threat of legal action is normally a sign that the argument has been lost with an implicit acknowledgement of racism. 

Another former Reading Labour insider, Andrew Tattersall, knows their habitual practise of 'gas-lighting' all too well. He slams it as a racist campaign which shows Labour's desperation, and names John Howarth as the man responsible for a long-running and systematic campaign of artificially stimulating public fears stretching back to the 1990s. No.  He names Howarth as the man responsible for Reading Labour's leaflets over a large number of years.  Howarth is also the man whose company, Public Impact, was pimped to Labour MPs by Martin Salter, who got free use of House of Commons facilities to do so, with the connivance of Clive Soley, then a Labour MP, now in the House of Lords.

LibDems like to be known for their 'evidence-based' approach is that right?, so Warren Swaine (himself a victim of personal attacks by Labour for his use of satire) that's true decides to compare and contrast leaflets delivered by Labour in different wards.

Gareth Epps celebrates the diversity of Reading as 'one of the most harmonious communities in the UK' and agrees with his colleague that the references may not be overt racism, but they create an 'unambiguous reference', one which is designed 'to pander to racism'. yep

Conservative bloggers are also quick to get in on the bickering. Continuing Peppard ward councillor, Richard Willis (who was previously forced to apologise for describing the racist policies of Rhodesian white-minority leader Ian Smith as 'wise and benign'), is typically straight-forward in expressing his view that Labour's position is indefensible.  He's right.

Meanwhile Cllr Isobell sp! Ballsdon says Labour have 'stooped to a new low'. In particular, she notes Labour's candidate doesn't live anywhere near Church and is trying to play up any 'local' link to potential voters, however tenuous.

Isobell also provides a balanced round-up of alternate views, enabling her to judge Labour's behaviour as 'arrogant' and 'unjust'. She also directly criticises Green Party chairperson Adrian Windisch for attempting to defend Labour, saying he has been taken for a fool. She's right.

But the final word must go to Andrew Tattersall, who completely repudiates Labour's official response - he specifically highlights the inconsistency of Tony Jones, who resigned from his party for two years because of bullying treatment meted out to him he doesn't say anything of the sort, yet has now rejoined and is happy to bully others not aware he was doing that.

Oranjepan says:
Racism at any level of society is completely unacceptable, however  it is vital that all sides understand the expression of such negative sentiment is an indicator of insecurity - in this case the political insecurity of candidates and campaigners who are trying to withstand an on-rushing tide of public cynicism about politics created by irresponsible representatives.

The politics of fear and division is a vicious circle which is wrecking untold damage our democracy. Political engagement continues to decline as a result and this is presenting opportunities for populists with more extreme motives and hidden agendas.