Thursday, 31 March 2011

Golly Gee

RBC Refuse Truck 2008
I've been looking through my old archives and came across this astonishing story from when Jo Lovelock was in charge.

I'd forgotten Reading Labour's track record when it came to race relations! This is one to the Borough's refuse trucks under a Labour administration taken in August 2008.

Even the black shirt supporting  Daily Mail thought it was beyond the pale. Perhaps Cllr Lovelock should have resigned over this quite disgraceful episode. Yeah, I know, fat chance of that.

Up The Arse! Issue 70

Up The Arse Issue 70
Out Saturday 2nd April - Arsenal vs Blackburn
Guest editor: Colonel Gaddafi
  • Manuel Almunia Clown School
  • Denilson's Crab Collection
  • Spurs 50th anniversary Programme
  • Professor Brian Cox's Wonders of the Premier League
  • Premier League News
And all the usual crap!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Reading Labour Guilty of Breaking the Law.

I can say that without contradiction. They have used a copyright photograph without obtaining permission from the copyright holder in their Reading Banner. That's a £6,000 fine or six months imprisonment thank you very much.

You see they believe that the law doesn't apply to Reading Labour as the postal votes fraud in Redlands showed. There's more to that story than ever came out in public if my sources are to be believed and I believe them more than the local Labour Party.

They lie and smear in their leaflets. They accept cheating as a way of life when campaigning. The Katesgrove Smear warns about hundreds more parking meters in residential areas in an attempt to suggest that Katesgrove residents will get parking meters in residential streets. It is completely fabricated bollocks.

Their tactics are to throw as much monkey shit as they can and hope it sticks but they are the ones with smelly hands.

During the last election they responded to a complaint about a completely fabricated lie in their Reading Banner by ignoring the complaint, hoping that whilst it was an actionable statement some parties simply don't have the money to pursue it legally. They were right.

Their election agents use the argument that "I never saw it" as a defence. Firstly, that's pure balderdash and second legally irrelevant. Tony Page in response to an accusation of making a deliberately fictitious election statement defended it with "I overheard it". Again . If that's the case then I've "overheard" him say many things that he can't prove I didn't... like when I was in the group room and he was wandering outside speaking on his mobile phone not realising I was there.

Yet the slightest comment from their opponents that they think can be used to bully and harass them no matter how nebulous and they use their vast union funded muscle to fund their threats and intimidation.

They will get respect when they deserve it. Bullying hypocrites deserve none.


I hope Duncan Bruce has got permission from the Chronicle to use their photograph and written permission from the parents to use it on his blog:
It would be a terrible shame to see him appear in court before the election or have to face down angry parents.

Labour have form on this. They used a photo of a tree planting in Katesgrove featuring local children taken from the Post in 2008. Angered parents and didn't do David Sutton any good.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Bob's Your Uncle...

Well, he was mine actually!
My cousin dug this up!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Serial Drama

We rather helpfully know what the Government thinks of the standards board:

Andrew Stunell:
"The Standards Board regime ended up fuelling petty complaints and malicious vendettas. Nearly every council had investigations hanging over them - most of which would be dismissed but not before reputations were damaged and taxpayer money was wasted. Frivolous allegations undermined local democracy and discouraged people from running for public office.

"That's why we are axing the unpopular and unelected standards board regime. Instead we will legislate to ensure that if a councillor is corrupt and abuses their office for personal gain they will be dealt with in the criminal courts. If a councillor behaves ineffectively or irresponsibly then it's a matter for the electorate not an unelected quango.

"This Government is freeing councillors from central prescription and top down bureaucracy so they can get on with their job. In the future councillors must expect to be judged at the ballot box by an electorate with real access to their accounts and personal interests in a new transparent era."

Eric Pickles:

"The standards board regime became the problem, not the solution. Unsubstantiated and petty allegations, often a storm in a teacup, damaged the reputation and standing of local government, as well as wasting taxpayers' money."

Wasting taxpayers money indeed. I really hate it when I end up agreeing with Eric Pickles!

The Chair of the local standards board gets an allowance of £2,385. All complaints have to be formally assessed by a senior council employee. They then might require further investigation. I would estimate the cost of the panel to be at least £10,000 per year if you take into account all the resources and officer time required.

Our local panel has already determined that it is okay for Labour councillors to use offensive language in the council chamber "in the cut and thrust of debate". The High Court has determined that they have no right to rule when a person is not on official council business. The national standards board is being abolished with the localism bill.
Maybe I should keep quiet that I'm the editor of Up the Arse! - Arsenal's Premier Spurs Bashing Fanzine.

They really wouldn't like it one little bit!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Guilty Party

Poor old Duncy-Wunky. Crying into his Mummy's apron because a nasty person said horrid things about him. Tell you what. If you don't like being accused of being an accessory to the illegal murder of 250,000 civilians, resign from the Labour Party and I won't mention it again.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

This is not a song about killing Arabs...

I can turn and walk away or I can fire the gun.
Staring at the sky, staring at the sun
Whichever I chose it amounts to the same
Absolutely nothing
I'm alive
I'm dead
I'm the stranger
Killing an arab

That's pretty much what a sticker on the Boys Don't Cry album I found in the New York Virgin Megastore had on it. Fat Bob himself has taken to changing the lyrics in the live set.

My ex-fiancee studied L'√Čtranger in sixth form and took my copy of the original 7" single of Killing an Arab for the class to listen to. It remains the most advanced book I've ever read in French (with a companion dictionary - my French reading level is barely above Asterix standard).

It's a brilliant book in any language so changing wording of a song about it simply to cater for the most wilfully ignorant or maliciously motivated is not something I'd agree with.

But now I can understand why Robert Smith does.

I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate.

Oh Meursault.

The kiss of treachery...

If there is one thing you ever need to learn in your life, this is all you need to know:

Oh I miss the kiss of treachery
The shameless kiss of vanity
The soft and the black and the velvety
Up tight against the side of me
And mouth and eyes and heart all bleed
And run in thickening streams of greed
As bit by bit it starts the need
To just let go, my party piece

Oh I miss the kiss of treachery
The aching kiss before I feed
The stench of a love for a younger meat
And the sound that it makes when it cuts in deep
The holding up on bended knees
The addiction of duplicities
As bit by bit it starts the need to just let go, my party piece

But I never said I would stay to the end
So I leave you with babies and hoping for frequency
Screaming like this in the hope of the secrecy
Screaming me over and over and over
I leave you with photographs
Pictures of trickery
Stains on the carpet and stains on the scenery
Songs about happiness murmured in dreams
When we both us knew how the ending would be...

So it's all come back round to breaking apart again
Breaking apart like I'm made up of glass again
Making it up behind my back again
Holding my breath for the fear of sleep again
Holding it up behind my head again
Cut in deep to the heart of the bone again
Round and round and round
And it's coming apart again
Over and over and over

Now that I know that I'm breaking to pieces
I'll pull out my heart and I'll feed it to anyone
Crying for sympathy
Crocodiles cry for the love of the crowd
And the three cheers from everyone
Dropping through sky
Through the glass of the roof
Through the roof of your mouth
Through the mouth of your eye
Through the eye of the needle
It's easier for me to get closer to heaven
Than ever feel whole again

I never said I would stay to the end
I knew I would leave you with babies and everything
Screaming like this in the hole of sincerity
Screaming me over and over and over
I leave you with photographs. pictures of trickery.
Stains on the carpet and stains on the memory
Songs about happiness murmured in dreams
When we both of us knew, how the end always is

How the end always is...

Robert Smith

Walking in the rain just to get wet on purpose.

Quite an interesting position to be in... as in the Chinese curse definition of interesting!

Both the local and national Lib Dems are looking for a futile gesture at this stage to raise the whole tone of the war and are encouraging me to pop over to Bremen in a crate and not come back. I've even been given the crate! However, if anything it's quite liberating to not have to answer to anyone or follow orders anymore. On the upside, I now have a far better idea of who my friends are in the local party. Not that many ;0)

I got involved in local politics because what I was digging up when writing muckspReading showed evidence of a Labour council that stank to high heaven. Since becoming a councillor, if anything, I've found it to be worse than I thought.

Here's one to try for yourself - name organisations wholly or partly funded by Reading Borough Council that have former Labour councillors in senior positions.

Labour's tactic of abusing the role of the standards committee is to try to imply that I've been compromising council officers. Codswallop. Council officers were only following orders and policies laid down by the Labour party which has reacted in the way that you would expect any organisation to behave when confronted with the possibility of inconvenient facts becoming public knowledge - shoot the messenger.

Morituri te salutant!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Standard Response

Seems the local Standards Board has determined that councillors have a specific exemption from human rights legislation of being allowed to have any personal opinions.

They also make a completely unfounded accusation that I blamed council officers... unless of course they are inferring that union officials who do not report to any manager in the council and are free to conduct politicking paid for by council tax payers are council officers. These are not independent council officers. They attend the political General Committee meetings of the local Labour Party as representatives of the unions.

They refer to me not providing any evidence about comments in my personal blog, made in my own time... except you can't provide evidence to the Standards Board because have no right to represent yourself or be heard by these unelected guardians of public sensibility.

They did however find on a previous occassion that it was perfectly acceptable for a Labour councillor to accuse another member of being a twat in a public council meeting.

Just in case they were not paying attention. This is my blog written in my own time as personal comment. They have no right to censor my opinions when I am not acting in an official capacity. They have exceeded their remit.

Fact: In 1997 the unions asked the Labour council to fund three full time posts.
Fact: Prior to that they were not fully funded posts - they were allowed reasonable time off for industrial relations work.
Fact: The Labour council acquiesced to that request and agreed to fund the salaries for full time union work in 1998.
Fact: These union officials do not report to any council officer like anyother member of staff.
Fact: The facilities agreement allows paid time off to work on matters that specifically includes developing union policy which solely favours the Labour Party.
Fact: The unions donate rather generously to the local Labour Party.

The whole complaint is Labour bullying of the worst kind and an attempt to sweep whistle blowing under the table with threats.

If they were so proud of it why did they not tell anyone about the facilities agreement for 13 years? Did they feel it was something they needed to hide?

Use of the standards committee is a shameful abuse of council resources.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A Suspended Sentence

As Ali-Gate continues I thought it would help the debate if I put in the public domain the communications I've received from the party.

Nothing. Not a sausage (apologies for any casual racism towards any German readers).

Of course, that may be because I don't have friends in high places willing to pull strings for me. Some people in this party are more equal than others!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Diverse Opinions

Lib Dem conference seems to be going down the Labour route of quotas and "positive" discrimination. This is a shortsighted policy and counter productive to the actual aims.

It is also extremely illiberal.

What is at the heart of the lack of diversity is the culture resultant from being an activist led party. Unless Liberal Democrats stop choosing candidates on the basis of how much shoe leather they can wear out or financially contribute to the party, there is little hope of changing the situation.

Right after conference and without irony Tim Farron sent out the following to party members:

If you're only going to take one thing away from Spring Conference, let it be this: where we work hard, we win.

Now go home and work your socks off and win!

Well that's the disabled off the list. Women with families. People who already spend a lot of time involved with community associations or religious congregations.

This is also not helped by the party sweeping bullying and harrasment under the carpet when it is reported to them. Lib Dems are a volunteer party. You do not become a Lib Dem because you are after power. No-one has to do it and people being bullied can simply walk away. And they do.

The diversity question is not a problem with discrimination. It is a problem with the campaigning culture and the macho-activism that goes with it.

Monday, 7 March 2011

And Now The End Is Near

It's the end of an era and Reading politics is really going to miss Jo Lovelock's incompetent  performances as leader of the opposition. I wish her well in her retirement from front bench politics but from of the sound of it local Labour member's wish her a happy retirement as soon as possible as well. What's that you say? You haven't heard the announcement. Of course not, but we all know it's inevitable.

It didn't help her campaign to retain the top job emailing the administration her strategy for the crucial budget meeting but hey, we've all sent things over the Internet that maybe we shouldn't have!

Today she was summoned to Unison HQ to get her orders. How times have changed, eh? Having to meet up with Tony Jones who flounced out from the Labour Party because of behind the scenes stitch up for leader and deputy leader didn't go the way his ego wanted. [Foolishly I believed his official reason that it was over political differences. A union insider put me right on that!] Delicious irony.

Well, that's what happens if you run a bankrupt party and have to go cap in hand to the unions for money. If only the unions had worked that one out whilst Labour were in charge. RBC staff may have been paid equal pay by now!

Still the members got their chance to ask the chief architect of the failure by Labour to implement equal pay for an equal days work. I hope it didn't descend into a political meeting. They obviously have spent far too much time being political if they couldn't get equal pay from a Labour council after 13 years of Single Statutory Pay being on the agenda at Personnel Committee.

It can't be all bad though. Unison can obviously still afford free scoff and gambling in these times of austerity which presumably is why they are so upset about the loss of free money from the Council. Must be a bit of a no brainier for them. £12,000 to fund Labour's local election costs. Use of the General Political Fund to run a bogusly "non-political" anti-coalition campaign. £90,000 grand from Labour per annum courtesy of the council tax payer to fund union officials salaries - Priceless.

I guess that betting must be starting on the next Labour opposition leader.

Rachel Eden is obviously ambitious and has to be a contender because to be honest there isn't that much talent to go around but she'll probably be too busy getting herself in position to stand in Reading West.

No, if Labour have any sense, they'll go for John Ennis replace Mrs. Ruhemann. I've got a lot of time for John. He has the ability to attack the opposition without being unpleasant about it afterwards, unlike a lot of his colleagues. Although quite why a socialist (or indeed former communist) would want to be seen leading a party of class traitors is another matter!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Healthy Debate

The NHS always gets people going. It's an emotive subject where everyone seems to be able to give good examples and bad examples of care but basically the majority of people have no desire to see it become an insurance based system. But whilst we're here, let's not kid ourselves that National Insurance is a hypothicated tax. It is an employment tax which goes into the general taxation fund. the NHS is funded by general taxation.

As examples of treatment I have two cases:

A 63 year old man was admitted to hospital having suffered a sudden stroke. A known alcoholic and prolific smoker with no family in attendance and it being late at night, he was not treated by doctors as a priority when admitted and was left overnight to wait for the duty consultant. He went into a coma. The family arrived next morning after traveling 150 miles to discover that he had just been shunted into a ward on admission. The doctors had not administered the appropriate medicine or care that is essential in the early treatment of a stroke and later one of his daughters was taken to one side and told that the best thing that could happen to him would be for him to die - sensitivity awareness not apparently part of the training. At the same hospital was a naval medical team who told the family that the hospital should have called them to attend. Over the road was a private hospital with state of the art equipment that he had attended whilst covered by his employer's health insurance. Unfortunately it had been several years since he was declared unfit to work and was on incapacity benefit. He died two weeks after being admitted.

A 66 year old woman was diagnosed with breast cancer and treated at her local hospital. It was caught at an early stage by her GP referred in a matter of days and a belts and braces treatment of surgery and chemotherapy was undertaken. The first surgery was only partially successful at removing all growths and a second operation was required. During treatment the chemotherapy drugs caused a heart problem which required further surgery and a stent. During the course of treatment the hospital was closed and transferred to another doubling the journey time and quadrupling the cost of attendance as she was deemed well enough to not require ambulance travel despite the drugs making her weak and tired and not capable of walking any significant distance. There was no financial help available to cover the travel costs despite being a pensioner with no savings of note. She has made a full recovery from the cancer but is now on constant medication to cope with her heart problems.

These aren't some abstract examples. They are my Mum and Dad both treated during Labour's "golden years" of massive investment. I'm not using them as examples to knock the NHS or indeed Labour (that comes later). They are simply real world examples that show that the NHS provides a service that we will all rely on one way or another. It is also not perfect and is unlikely to be.

However, the NHS is the jewel in our nation's crown. [Yes, I'm a reluctant monarchist... President Cowell by phone-in vote is a scary thought, You think I'm being alarmist? All I'll say to that is: Boris Johnson.] The principles on which the NHS is run are undoubtedly held by all by a few in this country and treatment according to need rather than ability to pay is a fundamental cornerstone of the service and a national touchstone. However, to think that the current system is fit for purpose and should be protected from change at any cost is plain stupidity.

It's a fair enough to raise concerns and fight against short-sighted decisions, but it is not enough to shout "fire" and point the finger without making the case for an alternative. It is bust, not because of principle but becuase of a demographic timebomb. Nor is is sufficient to rail against the private sector.  What needs to stop are the riduculous print your own money PFI contracts being handed out by successive governements and the end of guarenteed profits to private providers. They need to work for them.

Once upon a time the NHS ran its own computer centres, with its own staff. So where were the unions when Labour proposed spending £7bn on a privatised computer system funded using PFI? They seem all to ready to spread scare stories now but were remarkably supine when Labour were trying to cut costs?

The problem with that computer system was that it was a centrally determined and specified piece of snake oil as a result of paying too many consultants. I worked for Fujitsu Services who ran the southern cluster. Our head of the project was sacked when he dared mention in public that it wouldn't work. Everyone in the computer business knew it would be a waste of money but a lucrative waste of money for them. This was confirmed when the PFI contractors dream of constantly changing requirements and the addition of local changes to the system meant that the 'partners' could get the open chequebook out. This was not the fault of private enterprise, it was the fault of a government that didn't know what it wanted and had no way of telling when it had got what it thought it had asked for, The reality is that proper funding for local systems would have given a better return on investment with any (smaller) national programme concentrating on interfaces. The crucial part here is the failure was because of a disregard for local requirements and forcing a top down design on the PCTs.

I don't know if the current proposed changes will work. I also don't know that they won't. I do know however that letting health expenditure continue on its current course will bankrupt the country. Some of the proposals, like changes to the blood donor service, make me queasy but dental services were effectively privatised and eye care taken out of the universal system decades ago. No government since those changes has attempted to restore them to free at the point of use. In any case, prescriptions aren't free and dispensed mainly by the private sector through Boots and Lloyds The Chemist.

Labour's current dogma of "Public good. Private bad" is not evident in their track record which has been to privatise services by calling it something else.

The core Conservative belief in privatising services is still there but tempered by the knowledge that any attempt to construct an insurance based system will be electorally disasterous.

The public on the other hand are not that dogmatic. They want treatment free at the point of use. When working for Fujitsu, I asked to be opted out of the private health scheme they ran as a matter of principle but I wouldn't have minded one little bit if the NHS hospital had driven my Dad across the road for treatment.

The principle of allowing the money to follow the patient is the right one and whilst I have reservations about some of the other proposals, that is what allowing GPs to direct funding of services will do.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Flammable Underpants

Pete Ruhemann is suddenly a sensitive soul.

It is a fact that he used the word "Quisling" personally against the Lib Dem group leader pointing his finger whilst he said it. All pretty unambiguous you would have thought. Except he seems to be wriggling like a worm on a hook. His defence seems to be "but sir, he called us names first".

Well sort of, when I made a comment I directed it against the Labour Party as a whole, not individuals. And more crucially in my own time, not whilst on council business. The findings of the courts in the case of Ken Livingstone "Nazi guard" jibe made it clear that when not acting on council business you are entitled to freedom of expression. Cllr Ruhemann made his comment during a council meeting whilst acting in his capacity as a councillor in the council chamber. They are not comparable.

He also refers to another comment I made where Labour reported me to the Standards Board, again made in my own time and in a personal capacity using a words that the Irish Daily Star thought was fit for a front page headline.

I have thought better since then about insulting individuals without good reason, but Labour haven't.

But let's use another word that applies to Peter Ruhemann. This is from an email by Roger Sym:

From: Roger Sym [mailto:Roger@******]
Sent: 02 April 2010 14:15
To: Roger Sym private
Subject: Actions from the EC Meeting on 1st April 2010

d) Pete Ruhemann is producing the next Reading Banner to go to the Borough Wards.

The Reading Banner mentioned contained an untruthful statement about an election candidate that at the time it was made was known to be incorrect and of the sort that Labour were guilty of during the last election campaign (cf: Phil Woolas) and from Labour's own internal email we know that particular Reading Banner was written by Peter Ruhemann.

I hope Labour don't mind me therefore in my own time whilst not on council business using the factually correct word to describe Peter Ruhemann: LIAR.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Music Hall Jokes

Yvette Cooper has the accolaid of being the subject of the only joke on the 10 o'Clock show that I've actually laughed at so it will come as no surprise to other to discover that I've turned down my personal invitation to see her in the flesh. The purpose of the visit is apparently to ask people what they want in the next Labour manifesto. You would have thought after being in government for all those years that she might have some idea what her party stood for and not have to get off the train waving a blank piece of paper in her hand.

The problem that Labour has at both national and local level is that not only did they get us into this mess, they know there is no money. Why? Because they spent it all... and even spent money they didn't have.

Now we have them harping back to a golden age, blaming the coalition for the death of Music Hall when the nation is tuned into X Factor. Worse than that, they were the ones who allowed the only buildings suited to hosting variety shows to be demolished and then bemoan the coalition's lack of support for traditional forms of entertainment.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, the claim by the more dillusional of their union chums that the country didn't vote for cuts is complete codswallop. Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour all said that there would be serious cuts. What the coalition has had to do is live in the real world and do what needs to be done. What Labour has done is dupe groups and double count figures to promise spending they know they can't deliver on.

Even more extraordinary is the consistent fact that Labour councils up and down the country are slashing services whilst attempting to blame the coalition of having an idealogical agenda. The scorched earth policy of Labour is as cynical as it is a complete failure to face up to what they have done. There is one party slashing public services for idealogical reasons and it is the Labour Party.

Spending is not back to some Victorian level, it only back to 2006 levels. In fact in Reading the overall budget has gone up by £1.5m. If anyone can tell us what great improvements we had under Labour from 2006-2010 then they may have a point, but spending that extra money increased the gap between rich and poor, child poverty got worse and educational outcomes of the poorest got worse.

Putting Labour in charge of public money is like handing the keys to the drinks cabinet to a drunk. "Washant me Guv'. It was the pixshies."

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

An Open Goal

Damn and double damn! One slip up and months of hard slog thrown away in minutes.

I'll be absolutely fair to Birmingham though. They were up for it. Arsenal weren't.

May You Live in Interesting Times

It's a very strange situation to be in, So much being said, much of it complete rubbish and not being in a position to comment.

I can't see that continuing!