What would Clement do?

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

Archive for the tag “London”

DEAR MR JOHNSON…

With the London Mayoral Elections less than two weeks away, I have a few questions to ask Boris Johnson, our current Tory Mayor…

…dear Mr Johnson, I am struggling to find answers to these questions, I think you can help me on these;

  1. You are paid around £140,000 every year to be the Mayor of London. That is a huge amount of money compared to the London average of £25,000. You are also paid £250,000 a year by The Telegraph Group to write occasional articles. Which one of these is your main job?
  2. Until 2008, you were the Member of Parliament for Henley, which is outside London, although perfectly nice in its own way. You had never previously shown any interest in running this great city, and you were seemingly on-track to be a minister under your Eton schoolmate David Cameron. So why did you suddenly become so enthusiastic about the Mayoralty?
  3. Last year, as the News International scandal broke, you described it as “Labour nonsense”, and you & your political allies have consistently bemoaned money spent on the investigation. Do you have something to hide?
  4. Again, last year during the riots you were on holiday, and took your own sweet time to come back during the crisis. How can we trust you to directly run The Met???
  5. How is Darius Guppy getting on?
  6. At a recent meeting between Ken Livingstone and some of his online supporters, Paul Staines, a conservative blogger, interrupted, shouting “C*nt! You are a f***ing c*nt!” and then demanded someones’  name in a threatening manner. This has been seen by thousands on Youtube. Will you apologise for your supporters’ behaviour???
  7. Why should we pay £1.5 million for a Bus, no matter how nice it looks, when we already have a fleet of larger Buses in operation?
  8. Why are you wasting our money on proposing an airport we arguably do not need, and which will be outside your jurisdiction???
  9. Your supporters have spent the past few years smearing the Labour candidate as being anti-Semitic by virtue of association. As Ken Livingstone has Nicky Gavron (Jewish) as his running mate, and is in a party led by Ed Miliband (Jewish), will you repudiate these attacks, which have heightened racial and religious tension in the Capital.
  10. Why, as your chums in Government seek to make ordinary people pay for the financial crisis, did you decry “Banker Bashing”?
  11.  Which Mayor campaigned effectively, and brought the Olympic Games to London?
  12. Do you still believe that Gay marriage is equivalent to marriage between, say, a man and a dog?
  13. You have attacked Ken Livingstone for his (legal) tax arrangements, yet you gain £250,000 per annum from the Telegraph Group, owned by the tax-exile Barclay brothers, through Ellerman Investments, who also own The Ritz. You have yet to say anything about offshore tax avoidance – is this hypocrisy???
  14. Why have you had more meetings in the past four years with City financiers than with the heads of The Metropolitan Police?
  15. In which way are you to be admired for your many extramarital affairs, which you sought to hide?
  16. Should David Cameron watch his back if you lose, and find a safe Tory seat?
  17. Is £250,000 really “Chickenfeed”, as you said in 2009 during a BBC interview?

Boris Johnson, Saviour Of The Poor?

For those of you who don’t look at the blogs of the deluded and misguided Boris fans across the nation (yes, it is sad, but its a hobby..), you may have missed this little nugget that appeared on “The Wonder of Boris Johnson” a site published by Anne Sykes, dedicated to her love for you-know-who…

“BORIS JOHNSON – £8m Hero to the Homeless”

The Government has given £8m to the Mayors office to sort out rough sleeping in London by 2012. Anne then tells us that the latest figures show that there are 415 sleeping rough in the capital, although a link on her site to Homeless Link states that the actual number is nearer 3,000.

“Imagine how cold and ill they get with no hope to better themselves, caught in a vicious trap.” Well said Anne, I can hear the strains of Phil Collins “Another Day in Paradise” as she opines…

Yet £8 million, although a lot to you and me, is, to quote our saviour, “chickenfeed”. Per person, it amounts to £2666.66 – rather less than the average rent a Londoner pays in the private sector a year. Perhaps Boris shall buy each rough sleeper a flat? With a one bedroom flat in Hackney costing somewhere between say £120,000 and £160,000, thats 67 homes at the very best. This money, very welcome though it is, is a sticking plaster, and will provide no permanent solution.

Rather this money is being used to improve Londons image for The Olympics. This kind of cynical move is not new, indeed it has gone on at every modern games since at least 1936 – with possibly the 1948 austerity Games as an exception. Bejing, Moscow, LA, Berlin all received money to hide unpleasant aspects of themselves, and when the show moved on, all their dirty little secrets returned.

Londoners perhaps saw a prototype of the clean up when St Pancras Station and the surrounding area were tarted up for Eurostar. Suddenly, as if by magic, beggars and the homeless disappeared. A senior retired mental health professional warned me about renting in Camden at the time – “thats where the Police have shifted them all” he said despairingly.

I do hope that that along with the charities involved, such as Crisis, St Mungos and Homeless Link,  Boris’ Director of Housing Richard Blakeway spends this paltry sum well, and that some good comes of it. Yet rough sleeping is only the worst of our housing problem.

As Boris himself says ” It is scandalous that in 21st Century London people have to resort to sleeping in the streets..” But this is nothing compared to the hideous overcrowding that people endure at the lower end of the rented private sector. Anyone who has delivered a leaflet at election time knows that many houses, designed for an average family of four are now “multi-occupied”. In Haringay, I lived in one, at £450 per month,that had been converted to hold nine bedrooms. The highest body count was sixteen, including a young family with a baby. With a shower, a bathroom, one kitchen, and one separate toilet as our only communal spaces. Along our street of pre-war terraced houses, at least half had been converted this way.

In another wretched post elswhere, Anne says ” I adored Margaret Thatcher – she also had IT- lets say the X factor.” well, there is no accounting for taste, but I must point out that it was her adored Margaret’s flagship policy of destroying social housing that has led to massive overcrowding in unsanitary conditions across the nation. The reciepts from Council House sales were kept by the Treasury until after 1997. Local Authorities had little option but to borrow money against them to protect vital services in the meantime. With the destruction of an accountable authority for London in1985, seemingly to spite Ken Livingstone, the capital had no co-ordinated housing policy. In fact, the housing policy of this country since 1983 can best be summed up as “do you know what my house is worth now?”

With recent changes and caps to housing benefit, under Boris overall this will get worse. Boris and his chums at local level are creating a highly divided London, where if you are not wealthy, your place is an overcrowded slum.

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

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…

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???

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: