What would Clement do?

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

Archive for the tag “London Politics”

So when is a reduction an increase Boris???

A startling example of new maths, or possibly Big Maths (to go with your Big Society) has appeared via City Hall, home of Boris Johnson, Mayor for (The City of) London.

According to the published Budget for this year, Police numbers have fallen, and continue to do so. Kit Malthouse claims this is all becsause of retirement and “people leaving” – raising the question as to why they are leaving, but no matter…

Boris and his chums, who froze recruitment to The Met, are now claiming that by reducing support officers, they will be increasing police numbers. Oh, sorry, Kit Malthouse has just been on The Politics Show, claiming that no support officers will be cut, if they are deemed vital. (Helpful hint – try to live in Bexley or Pimlico)

Assembly Members are somewhat puzzled – no consultation, and a pile of spin, but no official announcement, rather press releases that now contradict the published legal accounts.

So, business as usual for London under Boris. Smoke and mirrors once again…

An Open Letter To Honest Opponents.

In the past few months I have met many Conservative and Liberal Democrat supporters in the blogosphere, and in the main, I have found them to be courteous and respectful of other opinons. Obviously I avoid blowhards like the plague, and with Lady P at my side I know better than to simply be rude for the hell of it (however much fun it would be).

I have also noticed that supporters and members of both parties are disgruntled to say the least with certain aspects of the Coalitions policies. In politics, it never does to attribute uniform beliefs to your enemies. In this spirit I ask my Liberal Democrat colleagues in the Yes To Fairer Votes Campaign, and Conservatives of a truly One Nation frame of mind to read on and ponder…

Is it honestly true to your principles to restrict the British people’s access to their land? To sell off ancient forests held in common, for the benefit of all?

Is it wise to fillet our Defences, as this administration is doing?

Is it just to erode the living standards of agricultural workers by abolishing their independent wages council?

Is it wise to allow one multinational company unheard of control over the media?

What patriotic Government allows such levels of tax evasion by the wealthy and large British corporations?

Is it good Conservatism, or Liberalism to erode our access to, and connection with Parliament, by destroying long cherished geographical boundaries and regional loyalties?

Is it fair play to instigate campaigning by smear and inference, as in the London Mayoral campaign?

Do you really believe that the upheaval this Government is instigating is in the true benefit of the NHS?

Does it really make sense to further atomise our national Education system, potentially excluding the talented poor for a generation?

Is it not simply politically motivated spite to add further needless anti-Trades Union legislation to the toughest Trades Union laws in Europe? Is this not something Disraeli would have baulked at?

How wise and patriotic can it be to seriously harm Britain’s universally respected voice to the World – The BBC World Service? Is it responsible? Is it truly what you want?

Are you entirely comfortable with a Government that is enacting legislation that was in neither of your parties’ manifestos, nor written into The Coalition Agreement?

I realise that we will not agree on everything, that is the nature of politics. But I also see that many of you oppose some, if not all of the measures listed above. I hope that we can all work together to help ameliorate the flood of ill-written, ill thought out legislation we see coming out of westminster and Whitehall.

For our nations’ sake I know that we will be able to work together at times…

Boris Johnson and Dirty Tricks (Part 2)…

Just had a quick look at the fansite for BoJo, http://CYBERBORISjohnson.wordpress.com/  and found that Peter Reynolds can be confirmed.

I read the latest post, relating that tweets confirm that Labour supporters would prefer Alistair Campbell to Ken Livingstone – dubious, but interesting nonetheless.

Then, in the middle of her post Angelnstar mentioned Ken and Press TV – followed by the words “homophobic”, “Holocaust denying”, “anti-female” etc, with a clear inference of guilt by association. Make no mistake, these epithets describe the Iranian regime perfectly, they do not, however describe Ken Livingstone.

I left a reply in the following vein (this is not word perfect):

” Interesting that you follow the Boris line in guilt by association, by inferring that Ken Livingstone is a Holocaust denier. as far as I know, Ken has never been a holocaust denier, nor has he been a homophobe, nor a sexist.

This seems to be an exercise in guilt by association, as reported by Peter Reynolds at http://peterreynolds.wordpress.com/

For the record, as a Labour member, I am not a Ken fan, and my views are set out at https://clemthegem.wordpress.com/

Usually, Angelnstar has accepted comments from me on her CYBERBORISjohnson blogsite, and we have had a few good discussions, however this time, my comment did not appear at all – moderation seems a might quicker than usual…

So, Peter, your point is proved

Boris,Bloggers and Dirty Tricks…

Addendum – Let me please make this perfectly clear – I should not have written the following –

“Clem has found out that Mayor Boris Johnson has been instructing his loyal band of bloggers and tweeters, when they can prise themselves away from “Top Gear” reruns on Dave, to engage in dirty tricks against Ken Livingstone…”

What I should have written, if hyperbole had not got the better of me, was ” Clem has found disturbing reports that followers of Boris Johnson have been involved in an organised campaign of guilt by association as regards his Labour opponent, Ken Livingstone.”

Apologies to anyone who was upset or mislead at this point – I still stand by thwe spirit of what I wrote below, and its condemnation of sectarian politics – a trend that neither candidate is doing anything meaningful to lessen…

My second favourite Tory, Peter Reynolds has posted that Boris, through his agents, has been instructing his “sheeple” (his word) to bleat, blog and tweet about Kens employment by the Iranian State run TV channel Press TV. Special instructions have been given to use phrases such as “holocaust denier”, in an attempt, presumably to shore up Boris’ support in Londons Jewish community. Once again, bluff hearty Boris camp engages in dirty tricks, whilst the rest of us who live in London full time suffer.

To read more on this, go to  http://peterreynolds.wordpress.com/

Let me make this clear, I think Ken made a serious mistake in working for Press TV, the mouthpiece of a repressive state which he would be better off opposing. However, Ken is no Holocaust Denier, and has been involved in anti-racist and anti-fascist campaigns throughout his career.

However this seems to be an alarming trend in London politics – Ken courts the “Islamic vote”, whilst Boris courts the “Jewish vote” – the US-style politics of special interests and “community Leaders” over what the electorate really need, or indeed want.

A Labour politician, especially a veteran such as Ken, should realise that this only leads to ignoring the real needs of his electorate, in favour of Tammany hall stitch ups. it also leads to heightened racial and religious divisions on the ground, and helps legitimise the extremist idiots on all sides.

Both of you – STOP IT NOW!


Thanks a bunch, Nick and Dave…

So,they don’t hang around, do they?

Fourth of Jan, and up goes VAT – a tax that egregiously hits the less well off most, whilst down here in the Capital we are supposed to be cheering as the Congestion Charge goes up for Bethnal green, but is axed completely from Kensington and Chelsea. Oh and Gideon, 14th Earl of Whyborn apparently dodged up to ONE POINT SIX MILLION POUNDS of tax.

This Government don’t just take with one hand, they stick two fingers up at us with the other!!!!

(The above is available for use by any Leader of HM Opposition, if they need a line…)

ONE POINT SIX MILLION POUNDS!!!! HE DID NOT PAY IT! !!!HOW WAS THAT IN THE NATIONAL INTEREST???? ITS NOT AS IF HE EARNED IT, IS IT?

Apologies for the shouty bit, but I ask you…

Wonder what fragile Little Nicky makes of that eh? And that bloke off the Werthers Commercials, and the spotty teenager who carries  Gideons bags and opens doors…

Back in the Sixties, with much higher rates of tax, the sainted Terry-Thomas patriotically said the following:

” I’m not dodging tax like all these blighters running off to Guatemala and other ridiculous places, I don’t think their attitude is quite right.”

But then he only played a bounder, didn’t he? What an absolute shower! A bunch of utter stinkers!

Get involved in the campaign to pressure the Artful Dodger at:  http://www.38Degrees.org.uk/

If we all spat at once, we’d drown them…

“Duchess of Cornwall poked with a stick”

Surely the most bizarre story that I have ever seen…

And whilst not in any way condoning a physical attack on the Royals, I just couldn’t suppress a giggle – thought every paper had become Private Eye for a moment. Or edited by Chris Morris.

Behind the headlines, the aftermath of last weeks’ disorder raised much more interesting long-term issues however:

The NUS leadership has been all but sidelined by the London Assembly of Students. For decades now, NUS politics has been dominated by young ambitious hacks carving out a career for themselves – in some ways it is the Oxford Union for the less posh. Students however have changed – with a massive increase in their numbers, traditional political methods seem remote .

Those protesting are from an age group least likely to vote. and since 2009, a group outnumbered by those reaching pensionable age by 2 to 1.

In the first six months of this administration, this group have seen their pensionable age  rise, unemployment increase and fees to Education treble.

The protests were organised in a very loose way, using new social media – interesting to note that our press support this in Iran, but over here are starting to call for online censorship to rival China. Aaron Porter needs to get with the programme.

The Police are using tactics honed over the last 15 years on Anti Globalisation/Climate Change protesters. Reminds me of how they Policed the Miners Strike, using methods copied from Northern Ireland.

Compare these to the methods used against, say, The Countryside Alliance, or the big Anti War Demos, where huge numbers and people from all ages/classes came out to play.

The only effective leadership on the ground was leading The Met. NUS stewards had no authority to stop large groups of protesters doing what they liked.

The unofficial Student Leaders, unlike previous Student Protests, posed no alternative to the Fees rise and cuts, simply a big “NO!”.

This is a heady mix, and no doubt the Trots and Anarchists (a very loose term) will be competing to provide leadership as I write, but much more importantly, the NUS and Labour need to pose a viable, reasonable alternative. Fair enough, Ed is wary of being caught with a policy he cannot deliver come 2015, but Labour Students at least need to have a plan and a policy that can attract all those so pissed off that duking it out with the coppers seems a good idea.

At the Further and Higher Levels, our Education system is a mess – reforms during John Majors government have left us with no real Polytechnical ( or indeed vocational) system for the over 18s.  The youngest Universities are often no more than self-serving factories, churning out meaningless qualifications of doubtful value, and serve the students very ill indeed.

The fees rise was an arbitrary measure, and need not have happened. Alternative methods of funding, such as more targeted higher tax bands (up to, say 50% for the very highest earners) would be more equitable, as would closing the loopholes that allow Sir Philip Green and his ilk to trouser huge amounts of cash for no tax.

University and College accounts should be publicly published and open to all – the pay that some Chancellors and Chief Execs receive would shame  Croesus. the Russell Group is in this respect an adjunct to the IOD.

Altogether, there is much more to these protests than meets the eye…

Panic on the streets of London…

Dundee, Dublin, Humberside to follow?

Not since The Poll Tax riots has central London seen such violent disorder – so the media tell us…

But what really happened yesterday? Were those scuffles, baton and horse charges, smashed windows etc all caused by the lunatic fringe of the British left? Were the Police entirely proportionate in their use of force and the charming tactic of kettling? Why were people so angry?

Other questions are being raised, notably about David Camerons’ performance at PMQs, and on the splits in Little Nicks’  little party between the Social Democrats and the Orange(book)men.

The Daily Mail is predictably in full flight, Sky News and the rest of the Murdoch empire following suit. the Cenotaph defaced by urine, a statue of Winston Churchill (not his grave) “desecrated” says BBC London – all in all, not a good day to defend our democratic right to protest, but  I think we need to look at the reasons behind both the clashes in particular and the protests in general.

URINE AND DESECRATION:

Firstly, let me just say that as someone who has worked in the West End for a decade, and getting the night bus from Trafalgar Square, on almost any given night Whitehall is covered in streams of urine, more so in December, as the party season takes hold.

The Police tactic of holding fairly large groups in one place for a long period & only letting a few out does mean that on a practical level, protesters have nowhere to go to pee. It will also lead to greater frustration within a group of protesters – fuelled with the righteousness of their cause, and faced with a hostile Police force, tensions will inevitably boil over. People were surrounded in one area with no chance to leave for many hours. From what I can gather from the media, protesters were refused medical aid, and repeatedly baton and horse charged throughout the afternoon.

Faced with nowhere to go, with tension and anger still at a high point, chaos reigned in small groups, with a few people attempting to rip up the flags on the Cenotaph. Note that I find this indefensible, and had nothing to do with the issue at hand. I think that a few extremists were able to egg on a larger (though still small) number of protesters. Faced with an impenetrable barrier of riot Police, those few took out their anger on buildings – The Treasury being a close at hand target, and one that may have caused a few smiles amongst some current and ex-ministers.

As to dear old Winnie, well it looks like no damage done, and I wonder why there has been no outrage at the vandalism in Stepney that has led to Clement Attlees statue being moved – a double standard????

AGITATORS – INSIDE AND OUTSIDE:

Of course the usual suspects were there in abundance; Socialist Worker, the myriad of grouplets that survive in London, Anarchists, and perhaps a few less politically motivated. of course these groups were set on confrontation with the Police, who they see as the enemy in all situations. however, these protests have been notable for the level of organisation that has come through non-traditional methods – social media playing a large part, and many of the organisers have had little or no experience of protest before. Over the course of the past four weeks, a new generation of students have been introduced not only to protests, but to Policing methods that have been used against anti Globalisation activists, Trades unionists, and many others. It changed attitudes on both sides radically.The Leadership of the NUS has been bypassed by many on each march, and sadly, The Labour Party has been absent at a National level, yes we voted against the Bill, but Ed refused to be drawn on reversing it.

Also bear in mind the argument that over 1 million peacefully marched against the Iraq war, and were ignored. (I was on that one, although I changed my mind.) This doesn’t make rioting right, but for some it would be a justification. Our politics is still broken and seen as disconnected from the majority of our people.

The Metropolitan Police leadership have been quick to put their spin on events, but i think we can all remember the briefings that claimed Jean Charles de Menenzes was a terrorist, that the Policeman who killed Mr Tomlinson is still  suspended on full pay, and not facing jail time. We residents of London also see the Police day after day signally not getting involved in basic issues of public order – to many in the force it is not “real” Policing anymore. Now a large demo on the other and, well thats “action”.

After the past few weeks, where the Police have been caught off guard ( how would the Tory HQ in an iconic building NOT be a target???), it seems that a fair few officers may have been looking forward to a showdown, which is what they got.

HRH, A BIT OF ROYAL VARIETY:

As the demonstrators were let out in dribs and drabs, some made their way along Oxford Street, many dispersing to go home. Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall, riding in a stately Rolls Royce became a target for a tiny number of by now very angry young people. From film witnessed, one young man shouted “Off with their heads” – NOT the “baying crowd” depicted in The Daily Mail. The car was attacked by this small group, and once again the Metropolitan Police had to run to keep up with one of its basic functions – keeping The Queens Peace.

The couple were unharmed, and Camilla managed a light quip on the way home. They had become, for a small group, a symbol of this Governments policy of making the poor pay for the recession.

Nick Robinson seemed almost jubilant as his former Uni chums pulled off a slim majority for this Bill – could the BBC have a word about impartiality? Others seem to manage it, why not him?

No doubt Boris will say something hyperbolic in the hours to come, that rather seems to be his job – light relief and cuts.

Ham – Face Cameron will put on his “serious” face, and promise to root out the troublemakers – may I suggest he look no further than his Bullingdon Club chums, who like nothing better than breaking restaurant windows and harassing low-paid staff.

Poor Little Nicky will look anguished, pained even. He will use that quiet voice to once again state that his utter capitulation of the one principled policy that most people in Britain agreed with him on has really been the right choice. The “New politics” will use the unelected House of Lords to nod this shabby Bill through. Poor old Vince, his face looking even more sad…

Is it any wonder people got angry? Who is to blame? My money would not be those living in bedsits…

Brian Coleman news…

Who was the ONLY London Assembly member to refuse to publish their expenses this year? Yup, leader of the London Fire Authority… Brian Coleman.

  • Who trousers over £100,000 a year from their combined salaries as Assembly Member, Fire Chief and Barnet Cabinet member? Hey, its Brian Coleman again. ( Average firefighter salary – £33,000pa) PLUS EXPENSES (he claims these for all three jobs – hope there are no double entries).
  • Who has spent over £20,000 of public funds on taxis to date in their political career? Brian Coleman (is this getting boring?).
  • Who got a very nice present from AssetCo (company that provides strike cover for LFA) last year – a £350 Harvey Nicholls hamper? Hey, its Brian again ( wrong hamper Brian, Fortnums is still the best). He also had some nice meals with their chairman in the last year too…

If you click on “Colemanballs” below, you will see what this nasty  guy really thinks about open government…

Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?????

A modest proposal for Boris and alcohol…

The latest wheeze from City Hall (well, Boris Johnson’s fevered mind) is a plan to reduce alcohol-related crime in London, taken straight from South Dakota (no, really!).

It would see offenders convicted of alcohol related offences forced onto a “sobriety programme”, and made to pay for twice-daily breath/blood tests as enforcement. Both Boris and the State of South Dakota claim a 99.6% compliance rate, and a 14% reduction in the prison population,solely because of this measure. No doubt the rivers of South Dakota have also turned into Lemonade, and the hens lay had-boiled eggs. It smacks of New labour at its very worst.

Alcohol dependency is an illness, and alcohol related crime is a social blight – one that the Drinks Industry thinks that it can get around with its nifty little “Drink responsibly” tack-ons to its adds. the above measure is a grand-standing bit of spin, but no more. Given Johnson’s own established capacity for booze, and his promotion of alcohol-fueled interviews at The Spectator, it is also a sick joke.

The truth is that from the 1980s, successive governments have “liberalised” the sale and  availability of alcohol, at the behest of Drinks Companies and Supermarket chains, with little real thought about the social or medical consequences. I should declare an interest here, as I work as a Bar Manager, and have worked in the industry for around twenty years. My Father and Grandfather were both Landlords, so I may have a little experience here, in both Pubs and the high-end places that Johnson and his pals frequent.

In Australia, the service of booze is much better regulated, and here is why…

Along with personal Licences for those managing/owning premises, in Oz all staff have to have what is called an RSA – Responsible Service of Alcohol Certificate. Courses cost around Aus$200, and are generally paid for by employers, or can be attended individually.

This has a number of results. The first is that, on cost grounds alone, Alcohol is segregated to its own shop in all Supermarkets, which cuts down on under age purchases, and spur of the moment purchases.

Secondly, all staff, not just management have not only a legal responsibility, but can also receive legal punishment, leading to loss of work if they fail in their legal duties, making the checking of ID, refusal to serve drunks etc more frequent.

The RSA course also has a section on the medical effects of booze, and has led to greater youth-awareness of the harm excessive drinking, both long and short term.

We also need to deal with the discounts used by Supermarkets trading in alcohol – my own preference would be for a ban on off-sale discounts, and also on on-trade discounts not involving cooked food – in effect ending cheap “Happy Hour” jug cocktails at a stroke.

This would not be welcomed by Diageo or Tesco, and I doubt Boris would have the stomach for it, given the huge amounts of cash thrown at the tories by Supermarket chains and Drinks Multinationals, but if we do not tackle this effectively an soon, then we could see a rebirth of a hardcore prohibition movement – fuelled by and fuelling religious animosity.

Come on Ed, lets get this underway…

Remember,Remember…

So, the press are full of stories of “selfish” Firefighters, and their wanton proposed action on November the fifth. A few points need to be raised against the unthinking right wingers howling and spouting cant…

The London Fire Brigade management arbitrarily set a date of 26th November for new working contracts to be signed by all Firefighters, initially with no room for further consultation. Under section 188 of the 1992 Employment Act, if they do not sign, they loose their jobs, not because we don’t need them, but because they oppose the contracts.

The main bone of contention is not money, but shift patterns. With around 50% of London Firefighters living outside of London, and the reality that you can be called out right up until the very last second of your shift, this is not a small point. Think about it, do you work in a job where you are on call for 13 hours, and at 12 hours 59 minutes suddenly find yourself doing another two hours (dangerous) work with no notice? the 48 hour maximum is often more of a minimum, so all talk of “long weekends” is in reality hot air.

The use of section 188 by management is seen by most Firefighters as an attempt by LFB to bully them, and their Union, and for many is the central point, rather than even the disputed shift patterns, that up until now have been under discussion for five years, so the Union have been negotiating with management up until the bosses decided (no doubt with Boris Johnson’s backing) to provoke a confrontation.

In areas such as South Yorkshire, where 12hr/12hr shift patterns are currently working, this has been achieved by negotiation with the FBU, rather than Reagan-style confrontation, as practiced by London Fire Brigade.

Finally, an emotional point – after November 5th comes Remembrance Sunday. at the Cenotaph, and around Britain, alongside service comrades past and present we will see Firefighters march past a pay tribute to the heroism shown during the Blitz, at Coventry, Silvertown Docks, Bristol etc. We will remember those who went to rescue those caught in the 7/7 attacks, Bradford stadium fire, even the Brighton Bombing. Emergency Service cover is not a “luxury”, nor are those we ask to put their own lives in danger for us especially privileged- they are men and women who potentially sacrifice everything for us, every working day.

Perhaps those that bray loudly at the FBU are still hankering for another Miners strike – perhaps their homes are fireproof. I wonder who they will call if this turns out not to be the case? Boris with a bucket???

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