Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Big Bus-iness

Last night's Reading Borough Council Cabinet demonstrated that Labour in the short four months they have been in charge have turned a £400,000 surplus into a £300,000 budget deficit - and keeping the deficit at that level is only achievable by Labour praying for an outbreak of lawlessness to help pay for it.

They are betting £575,000 on a massive INCREASE in bus lane fine revenue. That's an eye-watering £1.4 million in fines to Reading drivers required this year. That's after they had the cheek to complain about the introduction of fines for kerbside parking which was to be introduced to solve a real problem in some areas of town. The bus lane fines which we now see Labour see as a cash cow to bale out their incompetence.

All this whilst they let Tesco park their lorries without any form of sanction in the bus lane in London Street to make deliveries to their Crown Street store.

Update: Quelle surprise. After penning this post, what do I find Tesco doing? Illegally loading from the London Street bus lane. To get past it, a number 9 had to swerve out into the opposite lane during rush hour.

Despite complaints from me nothing has ever been done about it. It seems Labour has one law for Tesco and another for the motorist and visitors who will be paying through the nose for Labour's budget overspend.
Tesco lorry parked in a bus lane in London Street.
Registration number: CN 56 FSC
27 Sep 2011 18:10

Labour will need that £575,000 and more to get themselves out of the mire they are landing the Council and council tax payer in. By delaying measures in last year's budget they have already needlessly cost the council tax payer an extra £490,000. That figure is the cost due to the delay. Any budget reversals such as the Green Bin collection (£180,000) comes on top of that. This is getting on to a near 1% increase in council tax without even addressing the savings that they will have to make. We have already seen that they are making people redundant to pay for these "promises" so where are the unions in fighting these Labour cuts?

I'm estimating that by the time the budget setting comes around Labour will by their (in)actions have to make up at least a £2m hole that they have created unnecessarily, with the delays and policy reversals that steal from the poor to give to the rich.

They will have two choices. Increase the money they will have to borrow to pay for their runaway budget putting the council even more into debt or hike up council tax to eye-watering levels. They will try to blame it on the national government, but the simple truth is they are incompetent and not fit to run a whelk stall.

As Nick Clegg said, it's not polite to say I told you so. But I told you so.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

They Must Think You're All Mugs

Listening to Labour supporters right now is the equivalent of watching a mugger being interviewed on TV after demanding anonymity, then failing to apologise for whacking their victim over the back of the head with a sock filled with snooker balls, refusing to give back the money they stole but complaining vociferously at the parsimonious attitude of the Criminal Injuries Board in handing out compensation to their victim.

That theme is strong at their party conference. The latest comedy stylings from mBand in announcing a policy that will reward the richest the most and then stating that it probably won't be in their next manifesto anyway is certainly the shape of things to come.

He didn't stop there. Ed claimed single handedly to have beated Murdoch into submission by the innovative tactic of eating his canapes and drinking his champagne all whilst ignoring the fact that he called for the sacking of the one person who was actually responsible for stopping Murdoch's take-over of BSkyB.

Two can play at that game and I have it on good authority that Ed Balls will be announcing at conference a unicorn for every family in time for Christmas 2015 if the public elect another Labour government.

Labour's outgoing General Secretary Ray Collins was also in smug mode in his final speech where he proudly declared that he had "put Labour on a solid financial footing". Yeah, by selling them lock, stock & barrel to the trade unions. A shareholder with a 95% stake would normally be referred to the monopolies commission. Still, if Ed the Elder follows Ed the Younger's tactics, he'll be at the Unison fringe meeting scoffing prawn sandwiches paid for union members who have paid handsomely to be betrayed by their union's leadership.

And if anyone still thinks that Labour has changed, how about this from the NEC Chair: "Given what I said in my speech is there anyone who would dare be against it? That's unanimous." The old Stalinist tendency is still there, rubber stamping their paymasters and ignoring the wishes of ordinary members.

Judging by the outbreak of sniggering the one time they dared try to articulate a real policy don't expect them to announce any more between now and May 2015.

Leopards don't change their spots and Labour can't change their base instincts.

As Blair's best buddy Dubya said: There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Getting My Bearings

I do like Political Compass. The left / right axis isn't the only thing that defines politics like Guardianistas would have you believe. The Authoritarian/Libertarian (note this is not the same as economic neo-libertarianism) axis is what has always interested me.

It does help explain Labour's fondness for micromanaging individuals lives whilst simultaneously pretending to be left wing, which saw their 2010 election manifesto place them dangerously close to the BNP and the DUP in political outlook. It also helps explain why some Tories can be very liberal in response to civil liberties questions yet vere into neo-con nutter territory when it comes to economic measures.

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to see how my political views may have changed and it came up with this:

It shows I've been moving dangerously moving from Dalai Lama to Nelson Mandela territory over the years!

Friday, 2 September 2011

That's Entertainment

Reading Festival is over once again and even the BBC have given up the pretense of covering Leeds festival!

When I saw the original line-up I admit that I was slightly disappointed. I was already seeing Pulp in Hyde Park and Muse aside, it didn't look to be a classic. However, unlike last year, it exceeded expectations. The Strokes were good but they suffered from following on from Pulp who played more of an MFP Greatest Hits set than they did in July and so were hard to compete against. I watched the Horrors and White Lies instead of My Chemical Romance, but from the BBC3 coverage it looked like they put in a good set.

My personal highlights were Muse, Pulp, Interpol, The Horrors, White Lies and Warpaint.

As usual we got the annual sanctimonious claptrap about "freebies" from the Greens. The tickets are not free. Geddit? No, they don't. They have no resale value, cannot be passed on and as local councillors we would normally have the right to ask to be able to monitor an event on such a scale in our town. What's Rob's proposal? That only wealthy councillors get in to monitor the festival? That councillors should get free admission and sign a waiver promising to not enjoy any of the bands? The lack of visibility by councillors had to be a major factor in the council's decision to stop the festival for several years which led to the rise of that travesty called Glastonbury becoming so big.

In fact it is more essential than ever that councillors, whether they like the music or not, attend. I was critical of the "Them Crooked Vultures" tunnel and the positioning of the NME/Radio1 stage, the vast amounts of combustable material left lying around at previous festivals and the monitoring of the campsite area.  These have all been addressed and you don't get that sort of detail sitting on your arse at home. Not everyone likes the mosh-pit so different views are essential to make an event (that councillors are ultimately responsible for) which generates a huge amount of cash and puts the town on the global map be as successful as it is. This year crime was down and the layout of the festival better than ever, and that was in part down to councillors inputing their observations into the mix.

However, it sounds more like Rob didn't want to dip his hands into his pockets and shell out the compulsory charity donation. Think of the trees, won't somebody think of the trees?

I met up with my friend Sharon who works for Universal Records but missed my friend John who was mixing Cults in the Festival Republic tent... he had to hot foot it to Leeds thanks to the split day line-up. They were both at Portsmouth Poly with me on the Entertainment Committee. Sharon was Ents Officer during 1987-88 and 'Punky' John mostly did sound engineering, although he also played for a local punk band called Ad-Nauseum. I was sound engineer for his spin-off band Sod Noz on their world tour (which consisted of just the one gig, although they did make up tour tee shirts!)

Ad-Nauseum - John's playing bass
That was my 16th Reading Festival out of 25. The first was in 1987 on a guest pass from Entec who were a major sound and lighting company which also owned the Marquee. Reading therefore always brings up "what if" thoughts as John was not the only person from PortEnts to go on to work in the music business. In the end I decided not to go to New York to take up a job as a lighting engineer but I did learn a lot doing gigs which has come in useful later on.

Like when the committee voted to buy an 'ESP Interface' after the techies presented a motion saying that it would allow them to mix bands from the bar on the opposite side of the building! In fact the techies pulling a fast one on the rest of the committee seems to be a recurring theme and a valuable lesson...
Never get yourself into a situation where you rely entirely on consultants for advice!
We also prided us on fast get outs at Pompey Guildhall, so when the Cocteau Twins played we were left twiddling our thumbs during the get out and we weren't sure what the next item of gear to load was, our stage manager Paul the Bastard asked their road manager:

"What's the next flight case?"
"Cable nose."
Puzzled looks from Paul. again: "What's next?"
"Cable nose."
More puzzled looks: "What's that?"
"Ask Cable. Cable knows."

That's what happens when you don't factor in a Dutch road crew to your calculations. Cue next Ents meeting when a motion was put forward for Paul to order 144 Cable Noses!

There's plenty more where they came from. I may just write them all down one day.
Ents Outing Summer 1984 - play spot the Was

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Holidays in the Sun...

...please don't be waiting for me!

Strewth... I hadn't realised that I had been off the blog for such a long time. Don't worry, I've got plenty of stuff stacked up.

I blame it on my first holiday for 4 years - I don't count party conferences as holiday! It was nice to have a drink with a fan of @matildathecat and visit the scene of the crime for the first time in 18 years :-D

Speaking of party conferences, I got my accreditation email last week:

Just to confirm, we have received information from Greater Manchester Police that you have been successfully accredited for the upcoming Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference 2011

At the time of application I didn't even have a valid passport but it was quite painless if you followed the simple instructions. That hasn't stopped a stream of disaffected members queuing up to complain about marching into a police state or some other half-baked excuse to moan.

What did they expect? We have the Deputy Prime Minister and other ministers of the realm attending. Did they really think it would be an open house, expect the party to uphold an individual's right to bear blue paint or require a police officer to doff his cap and hold the door open for them at the utterance of "Don't you know who I am?"

In fact at the heart of many complaints seems to be the idea that some Lib Dem's are more equal than others and shouldn't be subject to the same security checks as lowly members. The days of casual attendance and relaxed entrance procedures may be a regrettable consequence of being in Government but I would rather have the opportunity to debate Lib Dem policy with those in power and meet Ministers than tilt at windmills.

Some of the questions being moaned about are in the Lib Dem data part of the registration process not the police section and the registration web site is also quite specific in stating that the data collected by the police will be handled under conditions required under the Data Protection Act and will not used for purposes other than for which it was collected:

The information supplied by you will be provided to the relevant Constabulary for storage on a computer system in connection with the policing arrangements for the Party Conference. The information will be retained and/or passed to other police forces in the future to assist with the accreditation of subsequent political conferences only. Details of the data stored may be obtained in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act.

It's one thing to be paranoid enough to not trust this categorical assertion but if anyone has evidence that this is not the case then they should report a criminal act to the Information Commissioner.

Wrapping it up as some bogus civil liberties issue does disservice to real civil liberties issues like the disgraceful treatment of Gary McKinnon and when there is so much to do to ensure that the Tories don't run away with the coalition agenda by keeping our eye on the political ball, this is the equivalent of contemplating fluff accumulating in the navel whilst being attacked by a man with a machete.

This is not a civil liberties issue, it is an inconvenience.