Friday, 26 June 2009

Entertaining Mr. and Mrs. Sloan

Tuesday's council meeting was a fun affair.

We can now say that Reading Tories make it up as they go along... it's official!

First we had a motion from them against the Preventing Violent Extremism report that looked like it had been made up on the back of a fag packet. Actually, it would have been much improved if it had been written on the back of a fag packet. So much so that when their group descended into farce they were told by their own Mayor to get their heads together and "sort it out", which they did by removing the word 'not' from their motion to reverse its main recommendation completely!

Then we had one of their number putting forward a motion to help defray the service charges to council tax residents by putting windmills on tower blocks. Since he didn't voice any opposition to the service charges in his speech he presumably agreed with them as a way of balancing the Housing Revenue Account, so it's amusing watching their headbangers trying to pretend that they'd do nothing of the sort.

I have to acknowledge though, that they have a understandable position to present to the electorate. It's hard to accuse them of their sums not adding up when they steadfastly refuse to do the sums in the first place. I suppose their argument is that it's impossible for the opposition to accuse them of committing major fraud on the electorate, when no-one actually knows what amount is involved.

This was followed in the meeting by an even more hilarious scene when the more excitable fringe of the Tory group had to be chased back to their seats after getting up to walk out when the saner members of their group suddenly realised that they'd lose one of their own motions if they left.

We're used to ridicule from both Labour and Tories for sticking to our principles in the council chamber. The number of votes since May 2008 which have seen the Tories and Labour voting with each other against the Lib Dems leaves no doubt that there is only one opposition party in Reading, but if the Tories really think that they are ready for power, then Lord help the residents of Reading. They are an absolute shambles.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Nice Work If You Can Get It

Our 'whiter than white' MP can spot an nice little earner for the local Conservative Party when he sees one.

From the published details of MPs expenses, Reading East Conservative Association submitted invoices for and were paid:

15/09/07£1,200 for delivery of Parliamentary Report.
28/03/08£500 for posting a Parliamentary report to inaccessible electors.
18/03/08£1,300 for delivery of Parliamentary Report.

What makes it interesting is that Rob Wilson in defence of breaching Commons rules over the misuse of the Communications allowance told the Commissioner:

"I am aware that a very small number of reports were delivered after that date due to reliance on volunteer deliverers, some of whom are elderly. However I know that in the vast majority of the constituency (including Church ward) my instruction was met."

So if we are to believe the MP for Caversham, he uses volunteer deliverers for which Reading East Conservatives charge £1200-£1300.

Assuming the "inaccessible" invoice is for items that were posted, that makes £2,500 paid from the public purse to the local Tory party for "voluntary" deliveries.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Compare and Contrast

Compare:

Chancellor Alistair Darling does not plan fundamental reform of the structure of the system that regulates UK financial institutions.

With:

The US government has announced a major reform of banking regulation to prevent future financial crises. The overhaul of the banking system will require big banks to put more money aside against future losses and is meant to curb excessive risk taking.

So there we have it, the Badger thinks everything in the garden is rosey whilst the US havve twigged just how corrupt the whole system is.

However this is the telling line:

Mr Obama has said he expected Congress to "work swiftly to get these laws into place", but warned that his plans would be a "heavy lift" because they faced opposition from "special interests".

Yeah, the same special interests that has seen the so called Labour Party lying supine on their backs and waggling their arms and legs in the air as they've had their tummies tickled for the last 12 years.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Show Me the Money!

Gordon Brown has launched a scathing attack on the Tories for proposing 10% cuts in public services. How dare he? The Tories haven't proposed anything of the sort... or indeed anything at all.

Rather like their local party who offer the electorate daily rubbish collections, round the clock litter picking, free day care for the elderly, a place at Eton for every child, a 50% cut in council tax delivered in lavender scented envelopes and a new Reading International Airport to cope with the large number of pigs circling overhead.

It's an interesting election strategy... relying on having a fool born every minute, but you've got to admire them for trying.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Take Me to the River

Katesgrove Children's Centre extension had its official opening today.

Despite the forecast, the sun came out and it was a nice day down by the river - although I did fail to get a go on the fire engine before it had to leave, Curses!

Praise where it is due to Martin Salter who turned up. Obviously, approving of my taking his advice to get out more, politics were put to one side and we had a pleasant enough conversation. It would be churlish not to acknowledge that he was instrumental in getting the Children’s Centre off the ground and despite his rather shabby record of toadying to the government, it is something he has done that he genuinely can be proud of.

On the other hand, Rob Wilson rather predictably failed to attend yet another event in the ward and it was a shame the Mayor wasn’t able to fit it into his diary. Probably too busy fitting in party political events in his Mayor's dairy to bother. Previous Mayors have managed to turn up at events at the Children’s Centre and had a great time. I hope Fred manages to clear his diary in time for the Christmas Party.

It seems that the only time that the Tories’ can fit in activities in Katesgrove is when it comes to faking pictures for their 'newsletters'!

Update: One commenter has suggested that Rob was at the Woodley Carnival giving out prizes. I don't know if this is true, but it's a good enough excuse and probably more fun than his last visit to Woodley.

Sending a Knight Out on a Dog Like This

The bi-Annual gong fest has thrown up the usual bunch of sycophants and toadies, yet it really has hit a new low with the award of an honour for an evil blood sucking creature of the night.

But enough of Sir Alan Sugar. Well done to Sir Christoper Lee. Probably got it because Gordon Brown saw his bravura portrayal of Peter Mandelson in 'The Creeping Flesh'.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

One Trick Show Pony

There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth in Kent tonight with news that the Manc show pony is finally off to Real Madrid.

Please note that... not Chelsea or Man City or any other self-styled richest club in the world. Real Madrid. That must be a kick in the teeth for any self-agrandising multi-billionaire to know that a municipal football team has the drop on them.

Spending £80m right after shelling out £60m for Kaka means that Real Madrid are probably due another dodgy training ground swap from the capital of Spain and if UEFA had any bollocks, they would mandate that money spent on players was a maximum proportion of revenue.

I'm no fan of Real, but at least they are a football club. There is a lot to be said for a football team that is owned by the community, rather than some tax dodging, justice avoiding charlatan, but then what do I know about football... I'm an Arsenal fan!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Sir Alan Sugar's elevation to Labour peer should not come as a surprise to seasoned rats in a sack watchers or anyone with a passing interest in football matters.

The former Spurs Chairman bought into Tottenham Hotspur in 1991, just in time to be on the inside track of the first Premier League rights package negotiations. What a coincidence for a satellite dish selling entrepreneur.

According to "Sick as a Parrot: Inside Story of the Spurs Fiasco" by journalist Chris Horrie, during the negotiations for the first TV rights for the Premier League, sealed bids were made by Sky and ITV. The ITV bid was higher than the original Sky bid.

Alan Sugar was heard calling Murdoch with details of ITV's bid, telling him to: "blow them out of the water" after ITV had offered £262m.

The revised Sky bid was put to the chairmen of the clubs and accepted. ITV were not provided with the opportunity to up their offer. In the end Sky paid just £190m, after failing to meet foreign sales targets.

In 2007 Sir Alan sold AMSTRAD to Sky for £125m and pocketed £35m for his troubles whilst staying on the AMSTRAD board.

Sir Alan told the Independent in 2005: "The biggest problem Labour has is its name. It's not really a Labour party. It has a chancellor drumming up business and enterprise." And we all saw what happened when they sucked up to their friends in the City, the biggest recession in living memory and a generation in hock, no pension and debts coming out of their ears to pay for their student loans. Thank you Labour, handing the country over to those already loaded is a legacy to be proud of isn't it?

Sir Alan is absolutely right about one thing. The Labour Party has consistently hoodwinked their core support during the nuLabour years. Only sentimentality keeps it going. It no longer has any connection with the party of Keir Hardie where principles are 'flipped' as regularly as property.

In February 2005 Sir Alan made a famous prediction about the iPod: "Next Christmas the iPod will be dead, finished, gone, kaput."

He was wrong about the iPod, but with a slight adjustment he can rescue his reputation for telling it as it is.

Right now, it's the Labour Party that is dead, finished, gone, kaput and the call up of Sir Alan to become Lord Sugar is the final nail in the coffin.

Go on Sir Alan, you know it has to be done: "Gordon Brown. You're fired"

Friday, 5 June 2009

Woodley Town By-Election Result

Matthew HaywardLib Dems611
Zofia JacksonConservative521
Pippa WhiteLabour63

Just goes to show what arrogance can do to your poll ratings!

Nice and Sleazy Does It

Far from it for me to give the hapless La Dodds campaign advice but really, in retrospect was it a good idea to put out a leaflet that can be read as:

The Labour Party knows everything there is to know about parliamentary sleaze, so trust us to clean it up because we're the only party that really knows just how corrupt it is.

What next from Labour?

We know just how screwed up the economy is because we're the ones that wrecked it. Go on pretty please let us try and fix it.

Or

We've buggered up the NHS, so please let us put it right because we're the ones who know what's broken.

...you get my drift.

Drawing attention to why the electorate hates you is never a good idea.

And Martin Salter really has gone demob happy when stating on BBC Berkshire that MPs who didn't back Gordon Brown were 'insane'. You can tell he's not defending his seat and is looking for a post-Commons peerage courtesy of the Order of the Brown Nose.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

You've Got to Laugh...

Pete Ruhemann, the man who resigned after being responsible for years of failure in Reading's Children's Services has said about claims that Martin Salter is being begged by party members to not stand down: "I can confirm there have been a number of people in the party have been asking him to stay on."

It could be the first time a rat has joined a sinking ship!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Won't Somebody Think of the Children?

It looks like the party that knows best what is good for us has launched a predictable attack against Lib Dems for sticking to our principles. In a bizarre attempt to deflect attention from their discredited approach, Labour claimed that we were against child protection. Utter tosh. The difference is that we wouldn't spend £224m on a paedophiles' AtoZ detailing the lives of all children in this country.

Do you know what we'd have done with it? Spent it on providing more front line staff instead of enriching computer consultancies with a track record of failure. When CDs full of children's personal details, as they inevitably will, are found riding around on trains, will we see this discredited lot resign? No, of course not. We saw how desperate they are to cling on to their jobs when Pete Ruhemann disgracefully refused to accept responsibility for the failures in Children's Services.

And Labour really cannot see any way of solving problems other than to hand over millions of pounds to computer consultants, who co-incidentally have donated money to the Labour Party.

Let's imagine how the conversation for the creation of database went:

"Dear computer consultancy, we have a problem with failing to provide adequate safeguards for our country's children. So instead of putting resources into children's services and providing more social workers to provide a decent level of service, what can we do that makes it look like we are doing something instead? A computer database you say? What a brilliant idea. If we'd asked child protection experts they would have never come up with anything as innovative as that. Here's a blank cheque. Oh, and here's a wall for you to piss it up as well."

If as it couldn't get worse, they handed the contract to PA Consulting, the firm which lost details of all 84,000 prisoners in England and Wales.

No, the real truth is that whilst we have this Stalinist bunch bent on centralising state control of the individual we, the citizens and our children, are the one's in danger.

We are in the last days of Pompeii. The sooner they go, the better.

Monday, 1 June 2009

The Tooting Popular Front

It's been an interesting few weeks listening to politicians speaking of reform and proposing absolutely nothing of the sort, apart maybe from Alan Johnson who is desperately trying to distance himself from Gordon's mess before he sticks the knife in.

When it comes to the two main party leaders, David Cameron has offered enough hot air for a balloon trip to Paris and Gordon Brown has promised yet another focus group. Has he not see 'In The Thick of It' episode 2? We just need an Expenses Czar and we'll have had the full gamut of knee jerk reactions.

Of course the Lib Dems could bore for Britain on the subject of constitutional reform. Proportional Representation, Freedom of Information, House of Lords reform... yawn! We've been there and done it, some of us for considerably longer than we'd like to admit, but until the two main parties understand that the sheer unaccountability of the representatives of the people is the basic problem with British politics we're not likely to see faith in the political process restored.

As a case in point, it was demoralising to see a report on BBC Breakfast this morning where people were just not interested in voting because they felt it wouldn't make any difference. In a constituency where you could pin a blue rosette on a donkey (and in the case of Gosport, that's exactly what they have done for the last 35 years) what is the point of voting? What is the point of a democracy where less than 50% of the voters have an absolute grip on power for up to 5 years. I can't remember the last time a ruling party had a mandate from more than half the population to implement their programme.

We like to pretend that we have the mother of Parliaments, but in fact we have a squalid system where vested interests continue to have their way over people's lives. You can see this in the way that nuLabour were seduced by the lobbyists, the bankers and the management consultants, the very same people who supported the Tories in the past and who will support them in the future. Labour or Tory? It doesn't matter. They both sweep up hangers-on who have no principles other than to be on the winning side for their own self-interest.

Politics in this country won't change until voters are given back control of their lives. In the words of Wolfie Smith: Power to the people!