Saturday, August 30, 2003

Deep in thought

One of the more highly charged shock troops of New Labour has set up a blog. Paul Richards is now sharing his thoughts with the world via the thinker where he, despite professing never trying to get himself in the guardian diary, lists his favourite LBJ quotes including:

"I don't want loyalty. I want loyalty. I want him to kiss my ass in Macy's window at high noon and tell me it smells like roses."

You would never have guessed that the man himself used to work for the Labour party.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

The backbencher at the guardian has renamed political blogging "plogging". Sounds like a pogoing pensioner with leaky incontinence pads to me. Not sure I entirely approve...ummmm.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Would you like a quote with that

Just started a new job today. On the plus side the hours are good mon-fri 9-5, the location's good central manchester. On the minus side the pay's crap and I haven't heard about a pension which is slightly ironic as its working for a big pensions company.

Saturday, August 23, 2003


If any fellow bloggers are going to conference this year and want to meet up drop us line as I shall be stewarding. When I went as a delegate in 2000 there were some computers there that could be blagged for a bit of blogging, hopefully it'll be the same this year.
Honesty is the best policy

In the email today had one of those dodgy ones about a business deal in a far off country no doubt a request for my bank details is on the way. But at least they were honest about their intentions. As the guy's concluding sentence says "Besides, I promised that you will not spend any of your money"

Thursday, August 21, 2003

New Weapon In Terror War?

A key characteristic of all fundamentalism is not only that they are at least slightly mental but also the absence of humor. So I am pleased to see the new MI6 weapon in the war on terrorism get a bit of coverage in the guardian today. Shazia Mirza is a female muslim stand-up comic believe it or not (and US immigration didn't). Lets face it, she's going to be cheaper and more effective than invading Iraq.

Top Secret

After listening to the Today programme this morning with it's piece on the evidence from the Hutton Inquiry i've just had a quick look at the site. It's literally the second document i've look at but Dr Kelly's security clearence is fascinating for three reasons. One it refers to an international defence organisation. Is this echelon or something else? second it says that certain access is subject to indoctrination. What is this indoctrination? How does the government go about this? Third what is Codeword?

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Cowell not the quiet man

Simon Cowell is getting his waxwork done at Madame Tussauds. The Pop Idol judge's model will be able to sling out effective putdowns to the pain loving people who try and inflict their less than dulcet tones on other visitors to the waxwork morgue. Quite why people want to put themselves through that particular experience is beyond me but no doubt they will in there thousands.

This reminds me a little while back Iain Duncan Smith was considered to be immortalised in wax but was rejected as "as too boring for a waxwork" which if you think that most waxworks don't say anything or even move must be a very, very high level of boredom. Personally I rather like IDS, an absolutely splendid chap but then I really don't want the conservatives to win the next election, which they could well do, even with the assistance of the quiet man.

I think that it says something about modern society when the leader of one of the two main political parties can't get a ruddy waxwork made of himself.
Politics has always been the province of the political elite. I remember in my GV 100 course in my first year at Uni when they coloured the areas of the globe that were run as democracies with a slide covering 100 years of history and it took many, many slides before even relatively small areas of the globe were covered. The point is that democracy is a very precious and rare commodity. We may have grown up used to it but in historical perspective and in many parts of the world today it is a rarity. I think that we may be moving into a political era of low participation where for the most part the public don't engage in the political process except they will take direct action over problems that they see as affecting them. The models are the fuel protests and the stop the war movement and the mainstream political parties risk becoming the target of political activism rather than the method by which it is carried out. Such a situation will not, I suspect, lead to the overthrow of democracy in this or most other countries but rather to the marginalisation of politics from the national life. We risk having plenty of politicians to address the masses but they will all be at home, no doubt watching Pop Idol.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003


This is a great site but what most concerned me was the really terrible handwriting displayed by some of the people who have been running the country. I mean not just bad like mine but virtually unreadable.

Noel Edmunds is trying to revive his flagging career with a bit of mea culpa media coverage but I think he is being a bit hard on himself. I have fond memories of Noel's house party. The gotcha's, the gunge, Mr Blobby, really it is all you could want in family entertainment. It has been nearly a decade since it first appeared on our screens and I think if it reappeared today it would be cheap and tacky, such is progress. Perhaps it could go to cable, perhaps it's already on cable. At the time I thought it was great TV but I also liked Beef and Tomato Pot Noodle back then when I was a lad.

Saturday, August 16, 2003


Andrew Stevens of Blairista says if you want to see a Lib Dem animated -- ask them if they're a Labour Lib Dem, or more of a Tory Lib Dem. I suppose the animation comes from the poor Lib Dem having to know what day of the week it is and what part of the country he's in so he can give a correct answer. The worry must be unbearable.

Shit happens

Alas Hobart the industrial dishwasher has departed and I now have about the worst job i've ever had working in the laundrette of an old peoples home. Thankfully there are only nine more days.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003


Presently i'm getting friendly with an industrial diswasher called Hobart so I'm not sure whether I'll be posting until Saturday. Anyway shouldn't you be on holiday?

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Day Dreaming

It's fourty years ago this month that Martin Luther King made his famous "I have a dream" speech. I have been rereading it recently from Penguin's book of historic speeches and I think it's the best of the lot. It was quite simply a defining moment in politics. It's also one of the best written speeches I can think of, indeed it's quite beautiful so I thought I would take a liberty and copy it here so you can take a peak.


Dr. Martin L. King Jr.

Delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves, who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.

One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.

There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must ever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecutions and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow. I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed; we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

I have a dream,

that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream,

that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream,

that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!" And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring

from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that.

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside,

let freedom ring! And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last."

Monday, August 11, 2003

New Model Conservatives: I think not

Peter Cuthbertson was having a gloat over on his blog about the fact that the tories have edged ahead in the polls. Shock news indeed. But the best bit I thought was in the comment section. When a guy called Ron posted his thoughts on modern Conservatism

To my mind there have been 3 distinct phases in the Tories over the last generation.

"A" is the Thatcher-based steamroller that won 3 General Elections on the trot and was never defeated by the public;

"B" is the disaster when Clarke, Heseltine and the rest of the europhiles were running the show (5 million votes lost in one Parliament - how does anyone think that Ken Clarke would reverse it as leader?);

"C" is the poor sods trying to clean up the mess after 1997.

So in Ron's opinion what do they need to do to fully restore Conservative fortunes?

So, to my mind, the best way of returning to power is to bring back as many of the successful people from "A" who are not dead or senile

Erm I think that limits it a bit. So who do you have in mind Ron?

"The number one change I would suggest, to really put some kick back into the Tories, would be to dump Theresa May and get Norman Tebbit back as Party Chairman. He's still razor sharp and clear as a bell."


Friday, August 08, 2003

Victor in his birthday suit

I was reading the Metro on the bus this morning when a story involving tory councillor Victor Grayson caught my eye. It really is quite tragic that a balding middle age tory councillor thought that some "23 year old women" would email him out of the blue claiming to be on the lookout for an older man. Then I suppose being a councillor could have gone to his head, not every councillor gets to represent a ward called Wildridings.

If you didn't catch the metro far be it from me to stop you knowing about the salacious detail. Our erstwhile tory councillor received an email proportedly from a "Julie Masters" and promptly sent off in reply his sexual fantasies and photos of himslef in nothing but a suspenders belt, tights and his birthday suit. Somehow these were forwarded to every member of Bracknell Forest Borough Council and ol' Victor has had to resign from the Conservative Party.

What I thought was the clever bit was the way the story was turned so the issue was that he had been the victim of a dirty trick rather than his sexual peccadilo, which though very highly embarrasing didn't amount to even a peck on the cheek.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Ready, Kelly, Go

Prime minister's spokesman Tom Kelly is well up to his eyeball in the stinky stuff with his "Walter Mitty" remark. Rightly too. Speaking ill of the dead may be factually correct, death doesn't bring sainthood only a date with an oven or reincarnation as worm food. But the least that people can do is to put off the traducing of someones character until the're fully six feet under.

While it was the moral crassness which most surprised me I still find it completely amazing that the press operation in Downing st can display such ineptitude. Clearly someone forgot the first thing of lesson one from spin school. Journalists will try and screw you over if they can get a good story out of it, so there is no such thing as off the record. Not even, or rather especially in the high octane world of political journalism.

I fear that this is such a massive howler of a balls up, that like Jo Moore burying bad news it's time to bury Tom Kelly.

New Kid on the Blairista Block

One Andrew Stevens has taken the plunge and decided to become a gob on a stick with an opinion on anything and everything or as it's known in technical parlance a blogger. Despite calling me a token lefty and Tom Watson MP boring his Blairista is well worth checking out.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Economics of the mad house

Last Saturday I got an old browning copy of The Great Crash 1929 by J.K. Galbraith. It makes interesting reading though I suspect that it wasn't on the reading list of the speculators who gave us the dot com boom and subsequent bust. It doesn't exactly boost my faith in human nature when we keep repeating the same mistakes.

One of the points it makes was that the highly unequal distribution of wealth made the problems of the depression much worse. The rich having much more ability to stop spending than the poor as the essentials of human survival make up a much smaller proportion of their income. The Metro today has a nice little table of top earners, the most poverty stricken has an income of £2,600,000 up a mere 31.2% on the previous year. David Harding of William Hill saw his salary increase by 615.9% to £3,400,000. It would be nice to think this was the result of improvements in the businesses they run but these massive increases go on year after year regardless of the economic situation.

There are people around today who argued that the minimum wage was going to be a disaster and cost 250,000 jobs. Clearly they are embarrasingly wrong. But I suspect these are the same kind of people that argue boardroom pay is fine at whatever hugly extravagent level it is set. Personally I wonder at the vision of society these people have. The CEO in the office, taking home that day more than the office cleaner will do in the entire year. Doesn't seem right to me.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Hubble bubble

Perhaps I watched to much startrek as a kid but I am a big supporter of space exploration so I was saddened to read this story from the bbc. Hubble is to be shut down a year before the new James Webb telescope is to launch in 2011

Two facts are clear in my mind. Hubble could continue to be a useful tool until 2020 when irreplaceable parts such as the mirrors could be expected to degrade and it's said to give Nasa 33% of its results for less than 2% of its budget. Surely it is not beyond the ability of human kind to keep two space telescopes in orbit.
Up the Gilligan path

Oh dear it looks like its going to end in tears as the sexing up argument rumbles on. Gilligan really put his foot in it when he gave his evidence in private session to the foreign affairs select committee

"He said simply his source had alleged that Mr Campbell was responsible for transforming the dossier, and it was fair to draw the inference that Mr Campbell had been responsible for inserting the 45-minute claim."

"Following further cross-examination, Mr Gilligan said: "We may draw the inference and indeed the committee may reasonably draw the inference, and everyone else has reasonably drawn the inference, that the decision to include the 45-minute claim was a decision made by Mr Campbell. That was the allegation of the source."

That wasn't what he said in the first paragraph. If any elected politician had said such things they would be rightly pilloried as as an equivocating, mealy mouthed lying bastard who was trying to mislead the public and quite rightly hung out to dry. Obviously standards have been slipping in the fourth estate of late.

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