Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Park and Hide

The local Tories really are a party divided against itself as the latest CCEA Panel meeting flushed out.

When Peter Beard and myself voted against the Askett Hawke development of Kings Meadow it was because of:

  • Over development
  • We didn't think they'd get planning permission
  • It was a big hunk of cheese casting a massive shadow on Kings Meadow

Pretty clear and unambiguous we thought and a logical position to take. The Kings Meadow Campaign wasn’t perfect, but we thought more likely to deliver. However, we got a load of abuse from the Tories as they either voted for or abstained in favour of the developers. Then after it was apparent they had scored a massive own goal with their own supporters, we saw their panicked backtracking. They then called-in the decision when it was abslutely clear to anyone that had actually bothered to read the officers' reports that all would happen was a 6 month delay and Askett-Hawke would tell them to sling their hook.

So what did we get? A 6 month delay, Askett-Hawke told them to sling their hook and eventually the cabinet backed the Lib Dem position. Could have saved everyone one time and effort if you’d listen to us in the first place boys and girls.

Then we have Rob Wilson... the man wot “saved the Woodley routes 63/64” claiming unjustifiably that it was all down to him as his press release was regurgitated by the Post without any semblance of journalism or actual facts.

All fine, except we'd started campaigning on saving them a full month before Rob’s “parliamentary straight from nursery” researcher put out their “me too” press release... and even then that was factually incorrect as it was Labour that bailed the routes out by using Transport Infrastructure Fund pump-priming money.

Now we have the Tories failing to back Lib Dem calls to reverse Tory Wokingham's and Labour Reading's 21% hike of Park and Ride fares. Yeah, real joined up thinking from a bunch of muppets who want you to trust them to run public transport in Reading. In a prime example by the Tories of how exactly they’d back public transport... they agreed with Labour to jack up the prices. Sometimes, actions speak louder than words.

The worst insult they could muster was that we would dare to put the Tory position on our Focus leaflets? Duh! Too right, the local press won’t publish the real story. Despite their Labour leaning ways, the press now are so desperate to not annoy the Tories before the next elections that they choose not to report things fully.

It’s increasingly clear to even the Tories’ own supporters. There really is only one opposition party in Reading.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

The Yes Girl

One of my readers' favourites on muckspReading was "Nodding Doddy". I got the idea for that after watching her on the Politics Show South in 2007 where she spent the entire interview nodding vigourously at Peter Henley. Roll on two years and she's still at it.

No doubt the same nodding that has her standing for a party that is for replacing Trident when she is personally against it. Is standing for a party that introduced tuition fees, when she has campaigned against it. Is standing for a party that sent our troops to die in the illegal Iraq War, when she was opposed to it. But where are principles when politics are involved?

I have to agree with one point she made during the Politics Show about there being a lot of small businesses in Reading. There are... but they were bigger businesses until the Labour Party screwed things up.

After a promising start in student politics Anneliese has aligned herself too close to the Labour toadying machine to be seen as anything other than an apparachnik. Her press releases show the dead hand of Gordon Brown and a cut and paste Charlie Whelan template to put enough distance between herself and a dying Government.

Recent odds show the Tories as odds-on in Reading East, as you'd expect with an incumbent MP spending his communications allowance like there's no tomorrow (and rumours from Westminster are that there will be no tomorrow), but with the Lib Dems at 14-1 and Labour being out at 100-1, a significant switch to the Lib Dems to keep the Tories out is probably their worst nightmare.

One thing that I can guarentee that will happen over the next few months is that the Tories will start to throw mud in Reading East at the Lib Dems (and you can see from previous comments that they have already started with the personal attacks).

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Party Time

An abscence of posting can only mean one thing... it was party conference season and in between a ropey wi-fi in my hotel and £75 for a connection at the Bournemouth International Centre I think it was fairly reasonable for a holiday from blogging. I thought that whatever time I had on line was far better used handling casework emails.

I got lucky last year as my specialist subject came up at my first conference. No such luck this time, so this year I left it in the capable hands of Gareth Epps, Daisy Benson and Neal Brown to wave the Reading flag and get up and speak in debates.

After getting back to Reading I've been catching up on the various commentators and bloggers reports on our conference and they have by and large been so wide of the mark, you wonder if they are American service personnel.

The time when the only reason for party members to go to conference, in Vince Cable's words, was to give the leader a damn good kicking are over. We all know what we have to do and are fully behind Nick and Vince. We may have our disagreements, but we don't lie about them in public like the other parties do.

Since that's how they operate, it is only expected that others parties will try to make hay of the fact that Liberal Democrats are adults who can debate and argue the points and then once that is done and dusted get on with the job of sorting out Brown's broken Britain.

We are the only major party where it is the members who decide policy, not slimy tax-avoiding grey suits leading a bunch of sheep who'd happily vote for a donkey with a blue rosette on its arse. Where the idea of party discipline is to hide the true thoughts and feelings of party members behind a tissue thin facade of lies and false promises. One Tory candidate in Reading thinks his local group leader is completely useless. Bet you won't find that on his election leaflets.

There is a big clue in how our party operates badly hidden in our party's name... the Democrats bit. There is also a massive clue as to how the Tories operate and treat the electorate hidden in their name... Con-servative. When I was at Poly, there was a joke about the Socialist Workers' Party in that they were neither workers or socialist. The same is true of Labour they no longer represent labour, instead they have proved themselves to be the party of bankers and management consultants and look where that has got us.

I had a great conference, then I went back to my constituency and prepared for tea.

Friday, 11 September 2009

A Right Charlie

"Cameron will say absolutely anything if he thinks it might get him elected. If a shock poll was published saying 99% of the British public were enthusiastic paedophiles, he would drive through the streets in an open-top bus surrounded by the Mini Pops."

Gawd Bless Yer Mr. Brooker.

Stationary Traffic

I suppose I have to careful what I say here, but it would appear that the deputy leader of the council does have a slight problem when it comes to facts when they get in the way of his arguments.

This is the man who threw a wobbler when I suggested an inner zone for the buses because short hop travel was too expensive and the man who told a full council meeting incorrectly (to much braying agreement from the Tories it has to be said) that mini-cabs in bus lanes were illegal. They are not. I had a response from the DfT that they are perfectly legal with the right traffic orders and in operation in many towns and cities in the UK... and in fact in operation down the Kings Road.

Now at the Traffic Management Panel he has claimed that I backed the closure of Station Hill to bus traffic. This is a lie. My position at board meetings, in public meetings and to the council officers responsible for highways has been loud and consistent.

For the record: A premier route interchange that is distributed around the station or away from it is not a transport interchange worthy of that name.

Simples.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Screen Wipe

I think by now most people know how much I hate the Gruaniad. The trouble is one of their writers, local boy Charlie Brooker, is probably the best media commentator in Britain today. His Screenwipe episode on the news is probably one of the best attacks on the 24 hour news culture ever made.



So thank goodness for RSS feeds, I don't have to sully my favourites with a link to their website!

This is right on the button yet again. Charie Brooker on James Murdoch


It sounds like the local Standards Board is going to be very busy between now and the next election with assorted Tory skunks and Labour rats competing with each other to tell tales to teacher. Should be a good spectator sport for the rest of us!

Peter Jones' "Malcolm Tucker" impression is legendary, but I wonder if this means that Mr. Willis will have to behave himself for a change! Shame!!!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Chants Would Be a Fine Thing

Now I've been sailing close to the edge of the libel laws for a great many years. Hewlett Packard rather famously tried to do me for libel and trademark infringement in 1996 but failed because they didn't understand the law when it comes to satire (UTA! Issue 16). I've had the Arsenal Action Group threaten to burn my house down (rather stupidly in front of three police officers) and the FA Premier League got so annoyed with me attacking them over their prosecution of football fans publishing fixtures that their lawyers blacklisted my email address.

Freedom of speech is a right that must be preserved to protect against the power of the state, but there is a limit. The oft' cited shouting 'Fire' in a crowded cinema is one example where there is not a carte blanche to say what one likes when one likes.

Amazon.co.uk have been selling a CD from Manchester United supporters containing "Sit Down You Paedophile" being sung at Arsène Wenger and profiting rather nicely from it. Not surprisingly this generated a plethora of complaints.

In an interesting defence, Amazon claimed that they were selling the CD in the interests of protecting "free speech". The very same company that removed all critical reviews and deleted a discussion thread criticising their decision to sell it.

Given the rather bad taste of some items published in Up The Arse! over the years, I agree that there is a fine line to be trod between what constitutes distasteful and objectionable content and what is plain illegal, but in this case only a muppet would have tried to continue with their defence for so long.

It is probably just a coincidence that an email to their customer services department from Arnold J. Aardvark pointing out that a distributor can also be held to be guilty of criminal libel saw the item being removed from sale a day later. I suspect that an audio download accusing Caitriona Clancy, their Executive Customer Relations (sic), of being a 'kiddie fiddler' would have been removed before you could say 'hypocrit'.

Football humour is always going to push the boundaries of what is acceptable. It goes with the territory, but there is a well accepted line that the majority don't cross. There will always be the morons who sing about gas chambers and air crashes, but they usually are marginalised by proper fans and don't get the backing of multi-billion dollar global corporations.

What new wonders can we expect from Amazon in time for Christmas? A CD of Munich songs sung by the Citizens Ensemble? The Hillsborough Hymn Book sung by the South Yorkshire Police Choir? The next Up the Arse! is already writing itself.