What would Clement do?

A Labour blog that witters on about Clement Attlee. Hurrah for The Major!

Archive for the category “Free Speech”

Mcluskey Balls…

Well, day two of  Labour Conference ( after Labour Womens Conference yesterday), and we have our first official spat, between UNITE union leader Len Mcluskey, and Ed “not THAT Ed” Balls…

To be fair, Mr Mcluskey was supporting a compromise motion, merely “noting” disagreement with Ed Balls’ policy of pay restraint in the public sector, in defence of public sector jobs. In a sense, this is what union leaders are for – defending conditions, pay AND jobs, so it is hardly surprising that “Red Len” made this speech, and in the interests of debate, it was right for him, on behalf of his members, to do so. 

I suspect that Rob Marchant over at The Centre Left blog will disagree, in reasonable language, and then once again propose a divorce between Labour and the unions, in the interest of progress (or is that Progress?). Coupled with his interview in the Sunday Times, Mr Mcluskey has declared war on the right wing of Labour, and in particular the blairite organisation Progress and its supporters. Are they “cuckoos in the nest” of the Labour Party, as he asserts, or are they a legit part of our movement?  My feeling is that Mcluskey has some valid points, but that declaring war will do much more harm than good.

You see, many of those “cuckoos” are exactly the people who stayed with the party through thick and thin. Like Mcluskey, they didn’t leave over Iraq, the elder statesmen of the right fought elections and the SDP splits of the 1980s, they have shown the sort of loyalty to the party that should be commended. Politically, I have huge problems with many of their ideas, certainly with the way that Progress is funded, and its influence at the higher level of internal politics. But critics of Progress need to understand that these people have put in the hours, and taken the knocks that working for a political party year in year out brings.

Mcluskey’s true beefs with the Progress crowd, that they are ultimately against the union link, that they want to carry-on with the failed New Labour policies that ignored the needs of working people, and failed to combat increasing inequality, have a certain ring of truth about them. The tactics that Mcluskey is using however, only play into the hands of our Tory supporting press. And as for saying that your criticism is only of ed Balls, and not Miliband, well, that is not going to hold, is it? To my mind, Balls is probably right on pay restraint in general, although there are strong arguments for protecting and increasing the pay of the low paid…

And what of Ed B’s big speech today, straight after Mcluskey’s criticism? Would he fall into the trap of responding directly? Would we see a return to some level of infighting? Well, Ed is too long in the tooth to fall into that trap at least…

Ed gave us a comprehensive and engaging demolition of Coalition economic policy, and lack thereof. Coupled with the now usual stress on our unity, and, unlike the Liberal Democrats, it seems that Labour politicians actually can make funny one-liners… 

” If David Cameron’s butch, where does that leave George Osborne?”

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I’m Proud of The BBC – Are Labour???

Back in 2010, Mitch Benn – a comedian and songwriter of nearly godlike genius if you ask me, had his biggest hit so far with “I’m Proud of the BBC”, extolling the very real benefits that we all gain from auntie.  Newsround, Newsnight, iPlayer website – the list went on and on. And it hit a chord with listeners and viewers across the nation.

Well, we’ll know what we had if we lose it. The recent reshuffle was nothing more than another stacking of the deck against public service broadcasting as we know it. True, Mr C has moved on, but the tune remains the same – beggar the Beeb, and give a helping hand to Fox – sorry, Sky News.

Does it matter? Well yes it does. Every Government since Harold Wilson has accused the BBC of bias against them, and many have threatened to emasculate the corporation. As part of the fall out of the Hutton Inquiry, the last Labour government may just have started the process. However it was not irreversible, and we are now in a much more dangerous situation.

After all of ten minutes thought, The Coalition decided to cut funding via a freezing of the Licence Fee, then to stop funding The World Service via the Foreign Office. Yes, our Government took one ;look at our greatest soft power asset and said ” fuck it”. And fuck it they have.

As jobs are lost across the corporation, Unions are leading a campaign to stop the cuts – UNITE, BECTU, EQUITY and others, posing an alternative to the cuts – savings on top salaries, and a proper, forward looking policy.

 So where are the Labour MPs? Who is standing up for one of our great national institutions? One that unites us all much more than lousy weather, class snobbery and football? They, shamefully, seem as quiet as the grave, and I call that an outrage of the first order.

 Maybe it is simply an unwillingness to talk about shared culture, or to sound anti- big business. Maybe this is some kind of twisted revenge for Paxman, The Today Programme and trying to be unbiased in its foreign coverage. I don’ honestly know, and if these are the reasons, it must stop now.

Just look at the people throwing mud at the BBC – The Daily Mail, Express, Murdoch, the Tory right and any weirdo who read Ayn Rand and never grew up…

Carlton TV gave us David Cameron, whereas the BBC has given us:

Round The Horne, Miranda, Who Do You Think You Are? The day To Day, Nigella, Panorama and Bagpuss, I Claudius, Absolutely Fabulous!

Sherlock, Fireman Sam, Bruce Forsyth and The League of Gentlemen, The Thick of It, Jeremy Hardy Final Score, everything on BBC Four…

And something that can never be replaced – Sarah Jane Smith – did I mention Doctor Who? 

 

 

apologies to Mitch Benn, hope he doesn’t mind…

 

 

DEAR ANDREW MITCHELL,

I understand that I, like most other people in “Team GB” am just a f****** pleb. That I no more have the right to question or obstruct your glowing, sleek, patrician self.

I further understand that you and your mates run the f****** country, and that our f****** pleb concerns matter not a jot to you. That I should get out of your f****** way, and shut the f*** up.

May I make just one suggestion? Would you please take your Rugby School educated a*** and f*** yourself,  preferably with something large and painful, you patrician t*****?

Yours,

Clem

Defending Offence: A reply to a writers’ question (1)

The reason I have not gone all out attacking Islamism in my art is because I feel the real that someone will slit my throat…

(Grayson Perry, quoted by Nick Cohen, pp 50 “You Can’t Read This Book” 2012)

…I worked on this opera about Jerry Springer. And, um, we got accused of being blasphemous, which was, came as a genuine surprise, ’cause it honestly had had really good reviews in the Church Times and Catholic Herald when it first went out in the theatre. So it was kind of weird, it all came a bit out of nowhere. We got 65,000 complaints when it went out on television. The BBC executives that commissioned it had to go into hiding, with police protection. And me and the composer were going to be taken to court and charged with blasphemy. But at the end of June, the High Court threw the case out on the grounds that it isn’t 1508.

(Stewart Lee,transcript from his show “90’s Comedian”, published in 2010, “How I escaped my certain fate…”)

Since its publication, “You Can’t Read This Book” by Nick Cohen has become one of the most important publications of the of the decade for anyone who sees free speech and free thinking as vital to the progress of humanity. After publication, there have been many reviews, mostly positive, of a book that takes an overview of the state of play for anyone who wants to tell truth to power, or simply be well informed. Having divided his arguments into three sections – “God”, “Money” and “The State”, Mr Cohen then rounds on the forces that he sees as being the enemies of truth.

With the lamented early death of Christopher Hitchens, Cohen is perhaps the best contemporary western journalist and essayist we have nominally on the left. I consciously say “nominally’, as he has been alternately the darling and the whipping boy for certain parts of the left liberal commentariat for much of his career. Oh how they loved his well researched attack on Blairism in “Pretty Strait Guys’, and how they pilloried him for his support for the destruction of the Ba’ath regime of Saddam Hussein, even if it meant supporting an unpopular war. Yet the fair weather friends of the far left, and their careless parrots within the wider currents of mainstream left/liberal thought would do well to cast aside prejudice and read a passionate, well researched and and literate defence of basic freedoms that without which, no truly liberating progress can come about.

I had no real intention to add to the pean of praise heaped upon his latest work, yet in a reply to a post I made on the 18th, I found myself reaching for my copy once again. Jaime Lynch Staunton, a writer and blogger asked the question:

Who is being cowardly and subservient to religion? How?

To do Jaime justice, I will divide my answer into two sections, and two posts

WHO…

In 1989, one of the great English Language novelists of modern times published his latest work. As in previous works, it was an exploration of themes close to his own experience as an immigrant from the Indian subcontinent to Britain. Salman Rushdies’ “The Satanic Verses” was attacked by fundamentalist clerics in Iran (a dictatorship had previously praised his earlier work), and the Ayatollah Khomeni pronounced a fatwa upon him, his publishers, and booksellers worldwide. Numerous attacks on bookstores and translators ensued or we threatened, most notably in Japan in 1991, the murder of an academic translator, and in Italy the stabbing of another. To their great credit, both the British Government and the publishing industry stood firm, and Rushdie has so far eluded his assassins.

There was a backlash, aided and abetted by those who should, and did, know better. Keith Vaz, MP for Leicester South, came to the fore in this country calling for the book to be banned, in effect asking that Britain follow the lead of Apartheid South Africa. Predictably enough, Norman Tebbit weighed in, to kick an opponent when he was down. More disturbing was the response of some other western authors…

Most bizarre of all though, was the noise by a number of eminent writers and authors. John le Carre’, John Berger, Roald Dahl, Hugh Trevor-Roper, and others began a sort of auction of defamation in which they accused Rushdie variously of insulting Islam, practising Western-style cultural colonialism & condescension, and damaging race relations.

(Christopher Hitchens, in “Unacknowledged Legislation, Writers In The Public Sphere”, Verso, 2000. pp.127)

Rushdie even managed perhaps the greatest feat of ecumenicalism, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Vatican, and the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel all issuing statements to the effect that the main problem with the fatwa was not the actual death threat, but the blasphemy committed by the writer.  George Bush the first refused to follow in the footsteps of Vaclav Havel and Irelands’ Mary Robinson in upholding the international promise of the US constitutions’ First Amendment. Germaine Greer defended the rights of book burners everywhere, to her shame.

Eventually, the fatwa was lifted, as part of the ongoing diplomatic efforts of Iran to gain better relations and recognition in the west. Then in 2007, the now Labour Government gave Rushdie a Knighthood for services to literature. Again various radical Islamist organisations claimed offence. Predictably, many on the right criticised the award being given to a writer so firmly opposed to “Mrs Torture”, yet even some of them defended his right to write what he thought, notably Boris Johnson and Peter Hitchens, whilst claiming his work to be “unreadable”. In the same edition of the BBC programme “Question Time”  the daughter of Vera Brittan and Liberal Grande Dame Shirley Williams could not bring herself to support the appointment, saying that it was ill-timed, begging the old partisan question “if not now, when?”.

Now, with the murder of an American Diplomat and staff in Libya, apparently over manufactured offence caused by a grubby little film, and the French call to leave muslim countries over some cartoons, Mr Rushdie has become the subject of another well-funded fatwa bounty.

But of course, this is only one man, and one book. Hilary Clintons response to the supposed “offence” caused by the film “The Innocence of Islam” speaks volumes:

…our country does have a long tradition of free expression, which is enshrined in our Constitution and in our law. We do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views no matter how distasteful they may be.”

No British Foreign Secretary could say the same without contradiction on each point – historical, legal, and practical.

In December 2004, a crowd of up to 1,000 Sikhs protested outside Birmingham Repertory Theatre, some stormed the building, stopping the first performance of the play “Behzti (Disgrace), by the female British Sikh writer Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti. The play explores themes of abuse and hypocrisy within the Sikh community, and is set in a Sikh temple. It is, very obviously, a work of fiction. The play was cancelled after two days of negotiation involving the police and local dignitaries.

The leader of this self-appointed group, Mr Sewa Singh Mandla justified his actions thus:

In a Sikh temple, sexual abuse does not take place, kissing & dancing do not take place, rape doesn’t take place, homosexual activity doesn’t take place, murders do not take place

As reported in The Sikh Times, Steven Glover, writing in The Daily Mail expressed “a degree of sympathy” and found it “hard not to admire” the protesters. It was perhaps no surprise that the Roman Catholic Church in Birmingham, in the person of Archbishop Vincent Nichol would make common cause against free thought in these words:

Such a deliberate, even if fictional, violation of the sacred place of the Sikh Religion demeans the sacred places of every religion. 

Of course, I should not have to remind any reader of the actions of Christian Voice over “Jerry Springer – The Opera”, the protests and threatened protests that forced 9 theatres to pull out of the nationwide tour, the level of threat which sent BBC staff into hiding…

The cumulative effect of these and others religious protests and threats has been, in one writers’ words to “internalise the fatwa”, so that many artists and writers self-censor, much as most did under the great dictatorships of the twentieth century. In the end, all authority, secular and religious, relies more on “the policeman in your head” rather than the policeman on the street. Although there are policeman out there, ready to pounce whenever one transgresses the shifting boundary of “offence”.

In the light of past scandals, the Arts Council is, as in the case of “Jerry springer” much less likely to grant money to any production that could cause offence to be manufactured. It is not hard to find a local politician, of any party, who will readily give voice to any loud “community” based campaign against whatever is seen as against any particular religion. The over used word “respect” is now the mantra when it comes to deeply held beliefs – as if simply believing something deeply enough makes it impossible to challenge. The Commission for Racial Equality conflates religion with race regularly, as do many others, which is insulting on both levels, if you think about it.

So, Commissioning Editors, Publishers, Producers as well as writers all tend to shy away from the new religious taboos – finding much more comforting and safe ways to shock us – a “Booky-Wook” here, a “Little Britain” there, but please, don’t offend the clerics too much eh?

 

FREEDOM OF SPEECH

The freedom to think what you like, and to express those thoughts, whether in print, on film, in speech or art without fear of censorship, imprisonment, torture or death. That to me is what free speech means.

Why is this so hard for some religious people to understand? My advocacy of evolution, or of Atheism come to that, should hardly cause a believing Christian, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, Sikh or anyone else much heartache, other than perhaps regret that I may be punished at some future date by their respective deities.

In the space of barely seven days we have seen blood shed against a pretty bad film  (by all accounts) that has offended some clerics in the middle east who have not seen this film. We have seen some christians in The Hebrides protesting that an award-winning evolutionary scientist and author is coming to their book festival in Lewis. And once again, a wealthy muslim fundamentalist organisation has put a bounty on the head of Salman Rushdie.

These despicable acts of repression have been met with hand wringing by those on the liberal left who still have the decency to object to the curtailment of our freedom of conscience, which is after all enshrined in the U.N. Human Rights Charter. Yet outside of novelists and media types, where are the big battalions of politicians willing to defend our right to be offended? Who will stand up for the individual who dares to say what they believe to be true, even if they are mistaken?

Politicians of left and right keep as quiet as the grave, not daring to say a word to power.

Defence of each of the three subjects does not mean that you agree with any of their arguments, or like their work, or want to invite them to tea. What it does mean is that you are willing to defend their and your right to liberty of thought. There is no argument that can be made for the fanatics and fundamentalists who, like wealthy libel lawyers, infest the earth with one purpose – to shut you up and keep you ignorant. No argument citing “cultural sensitivities’, “provocation”, “islamophobia” or “atheist fundamentalism” can hold any sway when the shedding of blood of people with absolutely NOTHING to do with film production takes place.

There is no justification valid under the Sun for any of the actions that have taken place – it is not “western imperialism”, “cultural imperialism” or any other such nonsense that idiots of the western far left and despotic clerics of the middle east parrot to stock outrage.

This is a sad state of affairs for anyone to observe. We need to be stressing that religious tolerance, a keystone of our society, in no way means a cowardly subservience to religion.

London Olympics 2012 -( am I allowed to write that?)

First off, what a few days we have had in London since the opening ceremony! 

What an opening ceremony, the first that I have ever watched twice by the way. Let me explain, we had it on in my workplace with the sound off – which led to most of us watching thinking it was utter crap. I mean, why was it in The Shire? Then the giant Andrew Lansley frightening children with young Conservatives, then an inflatable Boris Johnson? Without the BBC commentary and the music, it made no sense at all.

Luckily Lady P recorded it, and made me watch it all over again, whilst repeating “Danny Boyle nailed it!” until I got it. It was a glorious, seemingly chaotic evocation of Great Britain, miles apart from the usual regimented pseudo-totalitarian Disney-esque horror you usually endure at these things. Danny Boyle managed the first original opening to an Olympiad since Goebbels in 1936 – with a much better underlying message. The only low point would be Paul MaCartney, although as neither The Kinks, The Jam, nor the surviving members of The Clash were available, so be it…

And the Sport – Pendleton, Tweddle, Murray, the efforts so far from Ogogo, the sheer exhilaration watching Florence, Baillie and every competitor on the Lee Valley white water course. Wiggins and his “real celebrities” speech, Mo Farrah. Adlington,  The Brazilian Zannetti, flawless on the rings,  the GB Womens’ Soccer team showing their overpaid, self satisfied male counterparts how to do it…

…it just seems to be a pleasure after pleasure. Usain Bolt, Phelps, the fact that if Yorkshire was an independent nation, it alone would rank an astounding tenth in the medal table, above Australia, New Zealand, Hungary,South Africa, The Netherlands etc. And that the rest of Great Britain would STILL be third in the table! The BBC doing what it does best, and better than all the rest…

Yes, there is a lot to be be happy about in austerity-hit Britain at the moment, but also some nasty things to ponder once the cheering and celebration stops, such as:

  1. The Mayor of London, nominal head of The Metropolitan Police, taking  Rupert Murdoch as his guest to the Games. Thats right, the head of an organisation that The Met are actively investigating. Taken on an official Jolly. By Boris Johnson.
  2. The use by numerous construction firms who built the Stadia of a shared Blacklist of potential employees. Not only to weed out leftists, but also Health and Safety reps, or those who reported accidents.
  3. The 300% overspend from the initial (and hopelessly wrong) estimate.
  4. The tax breaks given to multinational sponsors, some of who have relented to the pressure of the mighty 38 Degrees campaign.
  5. The G4S security farce, and the resulting use of soldiers instead. Some of whom now face redundancy in the autumn due to defence cuts. 
  6. The Olympics Act of 2007, which has given a shot in the arm to the enemies of free speech. An Act of Parliament whereby the very use of such words & phrases as “Olympic”, “Gold”, “Silver”, “Bronze” and even “London 2012” became the property of LOCOG, and in effect handed Corporate Censors the right to police the English language for private gain.
  7. The fact that the selling off of state school playing fields, a national scandal, has returned under Michael Gove. He allowed 21 of 22 applications since 2010. From 1979 to 2008, we lost at least 10,226, mostly before Labour tightened up the regulations in 1998.
  8. That Labours’ minimum standard that all children receive at least two hours PE per week has been undermined since 2010 by Gove, who has disastrously cut the £162million funding for the School Sports Partnerships by 69%. 

So, lets all get behind Team GB for the rest of the Olympics and The Paralympics, but be prepared to ask the hard questions when the party is over.

DEATH & TAXES PART TWO – ITS THIS STUPID ECONOMY, STUPID!!!!

Last Sunday, The Observer newspaper did a service to the people of the world, although in a week when pointless metal-encased flames and uniformly branded sportswear are the biggest news in town, you would look hard in the rest of the British media to find out.

In a series of articles, and in conjunction with the campaign group Tax Justice Network, London’s most venerable liberal(ish) weekly exposed the true state of the world economy. It is not a pretty sight, but at last, we critics of trickle-down free market horseshit have some reasonably accurate figures to throw back at Adam Smith/Cato Institute blowhards. Not to mention third wayers like Progress…

The former Chief Economist at McKinsey, Mr James Henry has just produced the most detailed estimates of the offshore economy – you know, all that moolah stashed away in tax havens from the Caribbean to the Channel Islands, by way of Switzerland and Lichtenstein. This is forensic accounting at its best, echoing the work over the years of Mr “follow the money”, Greg Palast. 

To quote from the front page:

Their wealth’s, as Henry puts it, “protected by a highly paid, industrious bevy of professional enablers in the private banking, legal, accounting and investment industries taking advantage of the increasingly borderless, frictionless global economy.”

Helpfully, the report can quantify in numbers both the approximate number of individuals and what the probably keep hidden, although the report is careful not to attempt to put a price on the number of apartments in Chelsea, Canalettos on the wall, or Van Gogh sketches owned by this global elite. The figures are pretty instructive:

  1. The Approximate amount of wealth held “offshore” in tax havens – £13 TRILLION to £20 TRILLION. Thats between $21 and $32 TRILLION.
  2. The approximation number of people hiding money offshore around the globe – ten million. 
  3. Estimated amount owned by just 92,000 of the above ten million – $9.8 TRILLION.

I suppose that we can now put a number on the size of our true global Ruling Class, and, as a result, we know have to radically rethink our idea of the gap between the rich and poor, as both the poor and the very rich are now palpably underrepresented. It also puts the supposed “death of class politics” (TM Mssrs P. Mandelson, W. Clinton, A.L.Blair) into its proper perspective.

Typically, the biggest losers in the period measured, from the 1970’s to 2010, have been Oil and Mineral rich developing nations and the former Soviet bloc. Russia lost $798 Billion since 1990, the Ukraine $167 Billion,  & the Kazakhs $138 Billion. Predictably, Africa has suffered badly, Nigeria bleeding $306 Billion and Ivory Coast $141 Billion respectively. 

But these are notorious Kleptocracies surely? This doesn’t happen in Democracies does it? Err, yup ‘fraud so – Mexico lost $417 Billion, Venezuela $406 Billion, Brazil a whopping $520 Billion. to name but three…

Fans of the Chinese model of free market dictatorship will be ashamed to learn that since the 1980’s, her economy has lost a staggering $1,189 Billion to offshore tax havens. The rest of us are not all that surprised…

To put this in perspective, if the Super Rich paid only 30% tax on their interest, it would amount to more than the rich economies spend in a year on aid – some $189 Billion. (That’s if they only “earned” 3% interest)

The figure of £13 Trillion is a sum that dwarfs the combined economies of the USA and Japan.

Under increased pressure to do at least something, the British Government recently entered into the mother of all sweetheart deals with Switzerland and its Bankers – UK residents are going to be able to make a one-time payment of between 21% and 41% to clear the slate on undeclared assets. This allows tax dodgers to still avoid both the current 50% top tax rate, and the future 45% rate.

One of the most industrious founders of the UK-based tax haven industry was reportedly one Ian Cameron, father of the Right Honourable David Cameron, our Prime Minister.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has repeatedly made statements to the effect that, since 2008, it is time to stop “bashing bankers” and let them get on with it, and his hopes to make the City of London some sort of “haven” for international finance. He also trousers £250,000 per annum for writing a column for Telegraph Newspapers, owned by the Barclay brothers, who are all registered offshore for tax purposes. This amount is somewhat more than his substantial salary for running our Capital City. There is, of course, no suggestion of any linkage here.

Boris’ Best Mates – Number One: BRIAN COLEMAN

 Londoners will be pretty familiar (and pretty fed-up) with Brian Coleman, the Barnet Councillor, ex- Mayor and London Assembly Member for Barnet & Camden, at least until next week. We are used to his habitual rudeness to members of the public, and his total disregard for anyone who disagrees with him. His casual insults are legend.

Now we all know that in politics, as in life, choosing your friends is an important indicator of your character, perhaps as important as your actions. In all honesty we in Labour have our reservations as to some of Ken’s allies, and most of us are pretty open about this, so maybe we should just take a peek at one of Mr Johnson’s closest political allies…

Mr Johnson put Mr Coleman in charge of the London Fire Brigade and Emergency Planning, taking Mr Coleman’s salary to over £120,000 per year, meaning he is one of the five top payed councillors in Britain. Yesterday he gave us an insight into why Johnson so values his services, when his attitude towards the Firefighters he bosses about, and their elected representatives was reported in an interview to be thus:

Most of the Union officials, if they had half a brain cell, they’d be dangerous… We have to break the FBU frankly… 

He also confirmed that there would “inevitably” be job losses, confirming that 27 fire engines, that is 16% of London’s total, could be cut. This is in direct contradiction to  Mr Johnson’s claims.

Let us take a moment to inspect this man’s record, after all, should Boris Johnson win on May 3rd, he will be a key player in the running of London:

Between April 2006 and March 2007, Coleman spent £10,000 on taxi fares. The average taxi spend of all GLA members for this period was £845. Granted, during this time, Brian was banned from driving for speeding, but has he never heard of the Oystercard?

In 2009, in the wake of the national expenses scandal, he was the only Assembly Member to refuse to voluntarily publish his expenses:

I won’t do it voluntarily. Its none of the publics business

Despite a salary of £128,000, Mr Coleman lives in a subsidised Housing Association flat, with a monthly rent of just £546. His landlord is the  Finchley Methodist Church charity. Lucky him. Recently, a single mother, faced with an increase on her rent of £150, taking her monthly rent to £1,100 contacted Mr Coleman see if he could in any way help. His answer, which speaks volumes, was thus:

…live in the real world…

Like many in the Boris camp, he really hates criticism, and just this week it was reported in The Barnet Times that he had called Friern Barnet resident & Psychiatric Nurse Paul Merchant a “twat”, then urged this voter to “clear off out” of a packed public meeting at Hendon Town Hall.

This is the third such incident in the past twelve months alone.

On May 3rd, this man is standing once again as GLA Member of Barnet and Camden. His Labour opponent, ex-local MP Andrew Dismore needs only a 5.5% swing to oust him. Time to eject this pompous, arrogant man from the Assembly chamber I think.

If, like me, you would also like to see this odious creep banished from City Hall, then best you vote for Ken Livingstone as well.

The Return of Mr C

It seems that 2012 is the year of Olympic Omnishambles for the Coalition, and it keeps on coming.

Yesterday James Murdoch exploded a truth bomb at the Leveson Inquiry, and Vince Cable found out exactly how he was shafted, apparently by not only Jeremy (C)Hunt, but also George Osborne, David Cameron and Alex Salmond, to name but three.

It is highly likely that Jeremy will not be Culture Secretary for much longer. Yet it must not stop there, the documents implicate both George Osborne  and his advisor in secretly lobbying on behalf of News International, and against his own Cabinet colleague. Alex Salmond also rallied to the Murdoch standard, and unsurprisingly the Scottish edition of The Sun backs the SNP slavishly.

Many would also like to know the name of the “Libdem MP, a former Sky employee” mentioned as also lobbying for his former masters. I bet it isn’t Simon Hughes, but apart from that, all bets are off…

Throughout this scandal, Ed Miliband has played his hand well, acting on principle as well as with good instincts. His backing of Tom Watson does him and The Labour Party credit. He compares very favourably with, say the Mayor of London, who firstly called the hacking allegations “a Labour plot”, and has consistently sought to downgrade Operation Weeting and the associated corruption investigations. He and Kit Malthouse have behaved with naked self interest throughout.

A LETTER TO LONDON CONSERVATIVES…

Dear London Tories,

 I realise that now is not a good time for you, what with the Budget fiasco, Labour’s poll lead, and having to be nice to Little Nicky and his ilk. You have my sympathy, you really do. It must be galling to look at the London-wide polls and see Labour with a nineteen point lead, and now it looks like Livingstone may even beat Johnson for Mayor. You certainly didn’t need that prat Alexander reminding everyone that these austerity measures will carry on until at least 2016  yesterday, making George “Gandalf” Osborne look more like Saruman with every passing day…

 To an increasing number of you, it must feel like you chose the wrong chap in David Cameron, after all, it cannot sit easily with you when an hereditary Liberal like Helena Bonham Carter pops up and tells the world that David is “not right wing at all, really” after spending weekends with the Camerons at Chequers. I mean, where was Julian Fellowes, or Michael Caine, come to that? Or at least someone with a smarter looking husband…

…and that “tennis” comment did not go down well with voters, not at all. Nor did David’s failure to name a pasty outlet that is actually open in Leeds. For the record, I recently went up there and counted at least two Greggs, and one West of Cornwal shop not five minutes from Leeds station – does no-one do their research at number ten?

 It maybe that he really is “the heir to Blair”, in that he holds your party in contempt, just as Tony did with us. In this you have my sincere condolences, as it will not end well for you, just remember what happened to us…

 Leaving aside “Mad Frankie” Maude making a hash of Union bashing, something we all thought any one of your MPs could do in their sleep, what really must rankle is that faced with an enormously unpopular Labour government, in 2010, you could not defeat Gordon Brown without needing the Coalition. Dave really did not connect with that many swing voters, even when given the electoral gift of “Bigotgate”, economic crisis, the expenses scandal etc. And he seemingly hasn’t got any better – why, for someone who claims to have the countryside in his blood, he fails to remember which horse he rode, and when. He couldn’t even win an election against Gordon Brown.

 However, I think I may have found a solution to your Leadership problem, in fact, it is staring you in the face. You need someone who portrays unambiguous Conservative instincts, yet can appeal to floating voters and socially liberal types across the land.You need a ruthless man. Someone with a high media profile, yet who can take gaffes and bad publicity in his stride, a man that can amuse and delight both the party faithful and those all-important floating voters.Sadly, David Davis won’t do it, & I think you know who I mean, but just to be clear, you need Boris Johnson.

The only problem is that he currently resides in City Hall, not Westminster, but you have it in your hands to change this between now and May 3rd. Just remember, a defeat for Boris can easily be blamed on David Cameron – after all, look at the polls – its the Budget, stupid! And those pesky LibDems! Finding Johnson a safe seat should present you with no problem at all, particularly with the seat cull going ahead, and I doubt that any local association would refuse him, be mad to.

Once safely ensconced in the chamber, it is merely time to revisit the glory days of the 1922 Committee and hey presto! No more Coalition, just a straightforward Tory government, at least until election time. The great Communicator, teamed with someone in contrast, maybe someone northern and blunt, would be a difficult team to beat.

So, for the sake of your party, and all you hold dear, I appeal to your better natures, do the right thing, and make this dream a reality. You know what to do – stop canvassing, stop leafletting, make like you don’t care. It will be hard I know, but in the end, it will be worth it.

 

Yours,

 

Clem.

 

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