What would Clement do?

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

Archive for the tag “Media”

WHY I AM VOTING YES TO AV

In two weeks time, we get the first chance to fundamentally change our political system since universal adult suffrage was achieved in the 1940s – when domestic servants were enfranchised, and Oxbridge types lost their two votes.

I have already said that given the two choices on offer, I back AV over no change, and as the campaigns draw to a close, it is time to re-state my reasons…

Firstly, as some opponents of AV have already commented elsewhere, First Past The Post is manifestly undemocratic. Most governments do not represent will of the people by votes cast, let alone the total electorate. In the 1980s, taking the whole electorate, The Tories won no more than 36% of possible votes at any election. The same applies to New Labour, and to this Coalition. Only 217 out of 650 MPs returned in 2010 had over 50% of the vote.

Secondly, the great, and largely ignored seat theft that this Government is perpetrating against you and I. Regardless of how we vote in the Referendum, 50 seats will be axed, at a stroke making our established political class stronger, and also more distant from us. The only measure within our power right now to even slightly ameliorate this would be to make sure that every MP needed at least 50% of the votes cast in their constituency. That would be AV.

Thirdly, if passed, AV would give impetus to Lords Reform – lets kick the unelected into touch.

AV is just a start, and we could further modify the system to create a more proportional one after the barriers to reform come down.

AV is no block to radical reform – it is radical reform.

Look at those who back the current system – Press Barons, The Tax Payers Alliance (led by a non-dom), and Tories, with conservative New Labourites and a smattering of Blairites.

I would like to see a system where every MP has to reach out beyond the usual middle class middle ground of voters – with AV, not only second preferences but voter registration and participation become key.

I urge you all to think hard about this – we need a better way, and a better Government.

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Sexism in the Workplace and Free Speech

So, after the sacking of a couple of dunderheads at Sky Sports,  the focus has been placed on both Free Speech and on Sexism in the workplace.

About time too I would say, but what do the defenders of Grey and Keys really mean when they shout “Political correctness gone mad?”

An article in The New Statesman by an anonymous insider points to a culture of bullying and arrogance on Sky Sports’ flagship football programme, born of hubris and success. Read it at http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2011/01/sky-sports-keys-gray-melvin

After watching the video clips, it seems to me that there was certainly a problem here – Gray seems to be the alpha male, with Keys acting like his wingman. It reminds me of nothing so much as a bully and his creepy mate, you know the sort – you can find them in sports pubs across the land. They got found out, and now starts the bleating – “dark forces”, “genuinely sorry”, “a fine broadcaster”, and bizarrely from Giles Coren, “not in front of the ladies” – as if it is OK to behave like this at any time.

Working in The Hotel Industry, I can say that sexism in the workplace is alive and well, albeit mainly from the customers side. Yes, sad but true, female staff are still seen as legitimate targets for some sad men out there, who have not the wit to realise that the young woman in front of them is smiling because it is her job. Or that she is too young for them, or that she is not sexually available simply because she is serving them. Yuk. Guests from the Media,City, Estate Agents and Businessmen away from home being the worst offenders in my experience.(Anyone surprised?)

There is still a subtle sexism within the industry, and HR departments, however much they enforce the letter of the law, often ignore this, particularly amongst the low-paid. Which is ironic, as I have yet to experience a Hotel HR Department in ten years that didn’t have a majority of female staff and management.

The defence that this is merely Free Speech is not really an effective one here, to my mind. Of course, anyone should be allowed to hold any opinion, no matter how much I abhor it, yet in a civilised society women should expect to be treated with respect. “Banter” is only banter when both sides feel that they can win. I am by nature flirtatious, and enjoy the company of women, and, being English, enjoy a little bit of sauce.

At work, I tone this down,  and am careful not to overstep any mark ; self-deprecation is always good to use. I do not make crude and offensive remarks about anyone – they are not funny, they are not civilised. The notion that it is an exercise of Free Speech to harass female co-workers, to objectify them, and refer to them in dehumanising terms is simply sad.

Lets be clear here, Freedom of Speech means that you should be able to express what you believe. In a free society, Free Speech also means living with the results of your actions


Phone Hacking – The Scandal Spreads

Former Lib Dem MP Paul Marsden’s  questions as to whether his phone was tapped by the Trinity Mirror Group have led to the continuing Phone Hacking scandal being widened to potentially encompass the whole of Fleet Street – or at least the Tabloids, possibly a number of Broadsheets as well…

It also touches upon issues of Police corruption – were members of The Metropolitan Police Force (sorry, Service) on the payroll of one or more media groups? Where does this leave us as to the reliability of information received? Who are these officers, and will they be sacked and lose their pensions, as they rightly should? Why was Scotland Yard so tardy in bringing an investigation into this?

Scotland yard have reopened their investigations as of yesterday, citing “new evidence” that has come to light. This raises a few more points –

It is now impossible to claim that Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire were working alone – the new investigation includes notes from Mulcaire marked “For Ian” (presumable Ian Edmondson – just sacked by The News of The World), “For Clive”, and “For Gregg”.

Ex-MP Paul Marsdens request broadens this out to The Daily and Sunday Mirror – quite a reasonable assumption, given the prevailing atmosphere in Fleet street. According to the Independent today “If you ask any tabloid journalist, they will quietly say “everybody is doing it”…”

The key personnel in the frame now would be Rebekah Brooks (formerly Wade), Ian Edmondson,  Coulson, David Yelland, and Piers Morgan:

All of these august media operators learned their trade at News International under the fabulous Sun editor and grumpy rightwing git Kelvin Mackenzie.

The Christmas dinner soiree where James Murdoch met Ham-Face Cameron was at Rebekah Brooks’ Oxfordshire home, with Coulson in attendance .

Rebekah Brooks refused to attend a Commons enquiry into the press, and some members of the Committee claimed that they declined to have the Sergeant-At-Arms order her to do so, for fear of News International digging into their private lives.

The whole set-up stinks to high heaven…

Sky Sports, Gray and Keys – An Apology

In an earlier post, I intimated that shaved monkeys could do the same job as Andy Gray and Richard Keys just as well.

I know recognise that this is unfair to monkeys. Let me make it clear that I do not, nor have I ever condoned the shaving of monkeys.

May I also say in passing that monkeys are often, along with the great apes, a good deal better behaved than Sky Sports Presenters.

Although the last World Cup proved that an Octopus would be cheaper.

When it comes to Sky News however, I can think of no-one better than the dullards they employ now.

Who Would Have Thought It..?

Interesting to see the difference in reporting about demonstrations against unpopular governments making the less well-off  pay for the economic crisis…

Sometimes I wonder how all these editors deal with the contradiction inherent in painting a bunch of students and ordinary people in Westminster as violent anarchists, whilst wishing the ordinary men and women of North Africa and the Middle East well…

…then I remember their big fat paychecks…


Arrogant Aussie W*nker Humbled…

Shame its just a Ponting, and not a Murdoch…

Could we please change the name of the England Cricket Team to SOGAT 82? Just for a few days?

Sadly, this is a sport that Pork Balls, Boris and Little Nicky understand, no doubt Gideon, 14th Earl of Whyborn does too. Still, at least Keith Flett and Mark Steel will be happy…

Anyone off down the Walkabout?

Clem’s Christmas Roundup

It was (almost) Christmas Eve  babe,

and in the drunk tank,

an old man said to me,

” I could go nuclear…”

So time to take stock of the year, and consider the good and bad that we’ve been through…

First of all, losing the election has been a massive blow, yet Gordon Brown managed to leave office with more dignity and in better grace than David Laws did less than a month later. A fundamentally good man made way for a shyster.

The coalition was initially heralded as a “New kind of politics”, yet has settled down into the most radically conservative Government  since 1983. Everyone agreed that Ham Face and Little Nicky looked jolly nice on the lawn, giving civil partnerships a boost.

The Government decided that you and I would be better off with 50 less MPs, as it cost too much for us to have adequate representation. We all agreed that 50 less Coalition MPs would have been a good thing. the Guardian felt silly, and The Daily Mail  was grumpy, possibly that UKIP didn’t win outright. The Daily Telegraph did its best to bring the Coalition down by chatting to Liberal Democrats.Sales of Werther’s Originals plummeted in Tory seats.

The BBC found the correct term for a Conservative Culture Secretary. Jeremy should go far…

Liberal Democrats have been apologising to their best friends after admitting they don’t really like them, and apologising to the rest of us for making such a rotten deal. they still held on to the Ministerial cars though…

It was decided that not only would tuition fees have to treble, but that funding for Higher Education would be cut by 80%. A well organised, fearsomely armed group took control of the streets around Westminster – The Metropolitan Police.

The Duchess of Cornwall was poked with a stick, and (oh, the irony) went on to a Royal variety performance featuring 25 minutes of Les Miserables – featuring student revolutionaries waving flags – ” Did she hear the people sing…?” don’t worry Camilla old girl, they were French.

Speaking of our allies, it was decided that the Royal Navy should specialise in becoming a landlord – renting out 50% of our carrier force to Les Bleus. Can’t see them defending the Falklands, but still, annoyed a few yanks…

Wikileaks told us what sensible people already knew, namely that diplomats don’t always like their hosts.

Julian Assange may or may not be someone that you would like your daughter to meet on a regular basis.

Once again, the world failed to find a collective answer to Global Warming, whilst we shivered a bit, and were given no credible answer as to why the country cannot deal with a little snow. Boris claimed to have bought the deserts of Araby, and then slunk off to cancel FIFAs bribe – sorry, all expenses paid stay at The Dorchester for the duration of The Olympics.

Gideon Osborne, The 14th Earl of Whyborn, sat on the Treasury Benches looking more and more like a pale evil toad. Dr Fox ( no, not that Dr Fox) let it be known that although he doesn’t like it, he was prepared to sell servicemen short. Again. The police warned that without constant pay rises and overtime payments, crime would rocket. Then proved themselves inadequate to their core task of keeping the Queens peace, thrice.

After a drawn out campaign, the much-vaunted David Miliband was done low by his supporters, notably Lord Mandy, who then wrote a rubbish book, and still has no inkling as to just how much everyone in the nation hates him. Tony Blair wrote nonsense, and we learned about both his sex life and his toilet regime. Lucky us. Mr G W Bush turned out the best book of all three, at least in terms of fiction and plot.

Ed M became our leader, and has scored a few telling points against Bullers Dave, yet the hardcore Blairites, after three years of disloyalty, have still to learn that unity cuts both ways. A few right wing placemen showed their true inclination was to power rather than principle.

Phil Woolas was finally ousted from both Parliament and from The Labour Party, after running a nasty smear campaign that really did us no good.

Charlie Kennedy proved top be correct when it came to the coalition, fat lot of good it will do him.

And the government Front Bench looked for all the world like the Thirteenth Earl of Whybourne from The Fast Show…”Me? With my hands on the public purse? With MY REPUTATION?”

The BBCs Nick Robinson, at last able to see his pals in power, looked on the verge of a massive orgasm every time
he reported for the News. Is he sponsored by Kleenex we wonder?

The Big Society turned out to be a big “fuck you” from Millionaires to the rest of us.

Pavement reformed and toured the USA and Britain, and The Pogues started a long fairwell tour – though Spider stacey hinted at this only being a break – please let it be so…

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…

Lies, damned lies, and LBC. (What REALLY happened today in Parliament Square?)

A day off, and I go for a haircut – ho hum, another dull day. In the barbers the radio is tuned to that bastion of fair-minded journalism, LBC which is really a kind of Daily Mail on the radio…

As we all know, today is the day that the Coalition pushes tuition fees to intolerable levels, and that the National Union of Students has organised a mass rally and protest in the centre of London.

What I was hearing made me increasingly agitated – not good when someone has a razor to the back of your neck.

Now I really do not expect much from LBC and its various phone in shows, but what I heard made my blood boil – a highly organised group of men and women were occupying the centre of our Capital, well armed and protected. The Metropolitan Police Force (sorry, Service).

Caller after caller, jock after jock repeated more or less the same stuff – rabble, we need water cannons, education is a privilege, not a right, we can’t afford it etc.etc ad infinitum…

The only two voices of sanity were Will Straw from Left Foot Forward, and the Chief of Police – who had to explain why water cannon were not really a good idea (since The Met  can already kill newspaper sellers and Brazilians without them, and with relative impunity), and would lead to an arms race with protesters.

An LBC journalist at the scene reported from behind Police lines, describing one policeman injured, and claiming various missiles had been thrown; fireworks, stones, paper, snooker balls, all unsubstantiated by the radio listener ( I don’t deny their existence, I just want evidence).

Then an amazing thing, he told his audience that protesters had come armed, and mentioned a Meat Cleaver. Hurriedly we were then told that the reporter had not seen the cleaver, but had overheard a police officer, who also not witnessed the weapon warning his colleagues of this mythical weapon. This was simply repeating rumour, and any reporter worth their salt would have either wanted confirmation, or said nothing. Not good old LBC, say what you like, they know how to scare their listeners.

Now I think we can all agree that the vast majority of Students and others protesting were non-violent in expressing their anger, and have an important case to be angry about. The Lib Dems made such a fuss of their proposal to scrap fees during the election campaign that it was obvious  how much they wanted the Student vote. One could reasonably assume that whoever they went into Coalition with, this one policy would be the one thing they would not sell out. Not only did they sell out, but they have been loudly trumpeting the virtues of £9,000 per year tuition fees, as if this would never put anyone off entering Higher Education.

As Will Straw has said elsewhere, these particular cuts are avoidable and egregious. What is more, they do long term damage to our economy, as David Davis has stated (hardly a cabal of Trots and Anarchists there).

With a reasonable case, well argued and with support from not only Labour members, but also some of the more honourable Lib Dems, and even a few Tories, one would think that Nick and Daves “New Politics” would be flexible enough to look again. Not a bit of it, Govey and the Boys from the Bullingdon, in cahoots with Little Nicky, his pet Scot, and that bloke from the Werthers Origionals adds set their faces as hard as stone against compromise. Maybe they were all negotiated – out after those few days in May.

No wonder Students, Teachers, Parents and Grandparents are just a little miffed. Its a fair bet to say even a few of the boys and girls in blue were at least anxious as to how they would finance their kid through Uni.

So as the new stories unfold over the next few days, may I inject a little common sense?

1. Yes, the usual suspects will have been at the demo – The SWP, Anarchists, etc. Looking for a confrontation with the Police.

2.No, the majority were not led or members of the above.

3.The heaviest armed and disciplined and indeed protected group in London today have been wearing blue, and should have been displaying their numbers on their shoulders.

4.People on both sides will have been injured. Those injured by the Police have very little chance of redress.

5. Press and other media reports will very probably be one-sided and innaccurate, often scapegoating the wrong individuals.

I have just heard that the Tuition fees have been raised – they measure just scraped through. Shame on the Liberal Democrat Party. Shame on The Conservative and Unionist Party.

A Cabinet of the wealthy have just made the rest of us pay yet again for a crisis created by their City backers. They have put short term solutions before our nations’ long term interests. Let them never talk of patriotism without a resounding chorus of our laughter in the future.

How the other half die…

What kills more people in the Third World today? War? TB? Famine? Torture? Sweatshop conditions?HIV/AIDS?

Nope, its the shits.

Typhus, Cholera, E.Coli and other water-bourne ailments regularly kill more people (mainly the very young and the old) than anything else. According to the United Nations,every week 42,000 die due to dirty water and a lack of sanitation, 90% of these deaths will be children under five. I think we can all agree that this is a crime, as the basics of sanitation are not only common knowledge, but relatively cheap to implement. Simple sewerage, no less than clean drinking water, is what many millions across the planet lack – obscene when you see just how much is spent every day on bottled water in the West these days.

I suppose that we really should see stars campaigning on this issue more often, but then again, its hard to imagine Bono or Katy Perry opening a sewer – not much of a photo opportunity for Gwyneth Paltrow I suppose….

We all had a good laugh at the Commonwealth Games, and the prospect of a bunch of runners getting the runs, but if you are an Indian child, the runs could well be the death of you.

I urge you all to get informed, and get in touch with WaterAid at http://wateraid.org/uk

We should be digging toilets, not graves.

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