Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Catch the Pigeon!

The race of the year, at least for political hacks everywhere, is that for the Speakership of the House of Commons. I find the candidates an uninspiring bunch but I thought i would have a go at ranking them in order of preference. Having watched the hustings yesterday I feel a little depressed about the prospect for reform.

10 - Sir George Young - A likely winner but lacks any spark and seems to set himself out only because he came so close and lost last time round.

9 - Ann Widdecombe - The popular choice down the Dog n' Duck but her voice sends a shiver down my spine, plus she only wants the job for a year.

8 - Sir Michael Lord - Who? Has potential but again lacks zeal.

7 - Parmjit Dhanda - Complete outsider and probably a no hoper but he is engaging and at least seems to understand the need for reform. But appears to be in support of 'fixing' selections in favour of women and ethnic minorities.

6 - Margaret Beckett - I have always had a lot of time for Margaret but she has very little chance in this race and offered little fresh perspective.

5 - Sir Patrick Cormack - Has the presence to be speaker but again seems to favour the status quo and would act as a traditionalist if elected.

4 - Sir Alan Haselhurst - Experienced and has a track record of being a moderate Tory, i would imagine that he would have the support of the whole house but was caught up in the expenses row.

3 - Richard Shepherd - The local choice, he is the MP for near by Aldridge-Brownhills, has the past of bit of a Tory rebel, speaks with authority but again is a little short on radicalism.

2 - John Bercow - The Labour choice, but can he carry the Tories with him? Seems a little unreliable but at least he seems to be taking the right approach to the job i.e great change is needed

1 - Sir Alan Beith - Has experience and a track record of radicalism. He will have support from across the house. whilst I suspect Bercow will win I think that would be a mistake given Beith's record and his knowledge of the Commons. Much as it pains me to support a Liberal he is at least a man of integrity who 'gets' the problems facing our most important national institution.

Go Beith.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

They never change!

Tory Students at Oxford get caught up in racism row. Glad to see the Pretorian Guard of the Tory Party remains as mad, bad and dangerous to know as ever.

What's happened to Mike?

Does anyone know what has happened to Political Betting, every time i try to visit the site i get the same page. It's the best website for political gossip in the Uk and i am starting to miss it!!!

UPDATE: It's ok everyone relax i've found the new site

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

RMT strike action - WHY?

Can someone please tell me on what basis the RMTs strike action is justified. Is it just an effort to wind up Mayor Boris or is it just that Bob Crows ego needs a boost after his parties drubbing at the Euro Elections. The strike will only anger normal Londoners and their pay demand of 5% is way over the top in the current climate they are little better than the bankers, just trying to get what they can whilst the rest of the country tightens its belt.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009


I'm back...I can tell you care.

I feel i should apologise for being absent for the last month or so but work has kept me busy and to be honest I wasn't sure were to begin with blogging about recent events.

At least in Birmingham we remain a fascist free zone. I have never felt so miserable watching election night, not only did the Uk elect its first BNP MEPs but Labour managed to come second in Wales! Second in Wales for god's sake! Almost more worrying was the collapse of support for Labour across vast swathes of Southern England from Cornwall to Kent.

But tomorrow is another day, Brown is still PM and I welcome Bradshaw, Ainsworth and Kinnock into the cabinet all of whom I admire. Labour has no choice but to unite and support the PM as we enter a crucial year not only for GB but also for the Labour Party.

I, like many others have been disgusted by the likes of Purnell, Blears and Caroline Flint, they are cowards and can't even organise a coup. They have no support in the mainstream party and deserve to sat on the backbenches. I have a wee feeling that Cameron has still not sealed the deal with the British public, it is one thing to want Brown out but quite another to want Cameron in.

And perhaps worst of all we have to put up with Twenty20 cricket!

Monday, 20 April 2009

Good days and bad days

Down the pub the other day,during one of those great putting the world to rights conversation, i was asked was 'smeargate' the worst moment since I joined the Labour Party. On reflection i would say no but being a bit of a list addict i thought i would share my ten worst moments.. followed later by my ten best just to keep things positive.


1 - The 10p Tax
2 - Colin Powell addressing the UN, the moment it became clear that the Iraq war was a farce
3 - The deaths of Mo Mowlam and Robin Cook
4 - This McBride-Draper affair
5 - Any time Blair and Bush appeared together
6 - Northern Rock
7 - Browns 'six tests' for euro entry
8 - Clarke & Milburn launching 2010 vision
9 - Hutton Inquiry
10 - The 2004 European Elections


1 -That sunny day in 1997
2- Minimum Wage being passed into law
3- John Prescott punching an idiot farmer
4- The military intervention in Sierra Leone
5- Brown becoming PM
6- 'Good Friday'
7- G20 - Brown as he should have been
8- The Southall by-election
9- Iain Duncan-Smith's quiet man speech
10- Winning the 2012 Olympics

Friday, 3 April 2009

New Library - Hope Yet for Birmingham!!

Plan's outlined this week for the new Birmingham Central Library point to a massive improvement. For those who don't know Birmingham our current library is a disgrace, a bloated concret block with little natural light and architecture that would make a multi-story car park look impressive. It is ,in short, a hellish dump.

The new building appears at first glace to be a massive contrast bold, innovative but this time with windows!!! It should look decent in its suggested position so at last the people of Birmingham will get the library they deserve. So in, a rare fit of political fairness, I must congratulate the Tory Council leadership for being ambitious and creative.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Brown's biggest gamble

As world leaders meet in London this weekend our PM will be facing what I consider to be the biggest political challenge of his long career. Firstly he must reconcile the differing interests of France & Germany as well as ensure that Obama remains in confident support of Brown, as he appears to be at the moment. Secondly he must ensure that the outcome of the summit is tangible and of immidiate value.

Whilst getting them to London is an achievement in itself, nothing less than the fate of his government hangs on the outcome. Only big changes to the international financial system, which are explainable to the economic illiterate majority will bring him any measure of victory anything less be viewed as a failure. Success would give Brown the chance to reshuffle his cabinet with a view to a possible Autumn election, failure and we may as well all give up now.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

News from the East

The 'Credit Crunch' claimed its third prime minister this week as the PM of Hungary resigned following both Iceland and Latvia in ditching its leadership. Given that he got caught admitting to lying on a grand scale to the Hungarian public perhaps we should be surprised he has lasted this long. Who, we wonder, will be next?

Meanwhile in the Czech Republic the government of Mirek Topolanek has lost a vote of no confidence and will be forced to resign. This may not sound like big news, but given that the Czech Republic is currently holding the presidency of the EU a collapsing government could have a serious impact as the EU struggles to deal with the impact of the global recession and the increasing assertive Russian Bear.

Monday, 23 March 2009


Having beaten Exeter in the semi-final Moseley will be heading to Twickenham on April 18th for the National Trophy Final. I'm looking forward to it aldready. HQ here we come....

Friday, 20 March 2009

Biggest Game of the Season

On Saturday Moseley will face Exeter in a game that has been doubled up so it counts for both league points and as the cup semi-final. This is by far Moseley's biggest game since their recent revival began a few years ago. I would urge everyone that can to get down to Billesley Common on Saturday and cheer on Birmingham's top rugby team. GO MOSE.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Papal Ignorance

I understand that the Pope told journalists on a flight to Cameroon that condoms only exacerbated the AIDS pandemic. Instead he called for a return to spiritual values. So whilst the Pope waits for us all to rerturn to God's chosen path, a path which mankind has never and will never follow, thousands and thousands can die because men who use prostitutes in Africa refuse to were condoms. Nice. Here's an idea which, whilst at odds with Catholic doctrine, may actually save lives why don't we provide free condoms, arrest anyone who refuses to ware one when visting a prostitute and educate young people as to the dangers of HIV/AIDS.

No better still lets just sit on our Papal backside and lecture journalists instead.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Birmingham Two Star Council

News reaches the Oscott bunker that the audit Commission has downgraded Birmingham City Council from a three star to a two star rating. This is deeply worrying as it shows that the progress made in the last decade is in danger of being wiped out by a Tory administration hell bent on cutting costs rather than improving service.

Sorry to get all partisan but our glorious leader Mike Whitby is clearly not capable of giving the city the leadership it needs or deserves.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Peter Hitchens - Britain's last great bigot

Here is an article from Peter Hitchens on the film 'Milk', which was published in the Sunday Mail this week.

"Penn and the tricky truth about gay power

I rather thought the extraordinary film Milk, starring Sean Penn as the American homosexual activist Harvey Milk, would pick up a few Oscars. This is a subject that really gets Hollywood going.
Milk is an interesting movie, though like so many these days it is much too long. It does at least hint at the extraordinarily promiscuous lifestyles of many pre-HIV homosexuals. It also contains a very telling and honest moment where Milk – no slouch at the tricks of politics – proclaims that he is
‘a homosexual with power’, and proceeds to wield it. He was the first of many."

I don't think i have to say too much, other than I find Hitchens a disgrace. Apart from the obvious fact that Harvey Milk was certainly not the first homosexual with power, i would like to also know what other films about gay politicians have been produced by Hollywood as its a subject that "really gets Hollywood going".

I also wonder if this article is another attack in his ongoing battle with blogger Iain Dale, following the last pile of homophobic drivel he published.

The man is a bigoted fool and the Mail should have nothing to do with him.

Friday, 27 February 2009


I have to say that I enjoyed the BBC's Thatcher drama 'Margaret' a great deal. It's nice to remember why I hated the mad cow in the first place. Also nice to see the big beasts of the time portrayed in a humorous style, Ken Clarke, Micheal Hesseltine and Norman Tebbit were all spot on but it was John Major that had me fits of laughter, the scene with him and Douglas Hurd in a restaurant really was hilarious. But it the programme served as a timely reminder that when faced with defeat MP's panic and all sense of loyalty goes out of the window, the trouble is, it worked Major won the 92 election. Incidentally, one has to admire the base cunning of Major with his 'dental surgery' that prevented him from being compromised during all the backstabbing in Westminster...genius.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Transport in Birmingham - Surprisingly highly rated

Our survey says: Birmingham has only the second worst transport system in the UK. Poor Bristol.

On the serious side, one of the first things that struck me when i moved to Birmingham a few years ago was the awful standard of its public transport network. Anyone who has been to New Street Station will know what I mean. But it goes further than that, Birmingham needs a metro, tram or trolleybus system, it would bring our city together and make a more exciting city to visit. The city centre has expanded in recent years as both the Jewellery Quarter and Digbeth are now decent places for a night out but they are two miles apart and there is no decent links between them, surely we can have a tram that links the two?

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Tory Local Government Policy - anti-democratic?

Today's announcement by the Tories of their proposals for local government reform will cause a great deal of concern for those of us who care about local government. Scrapping regional bodies is controversial but hardly anti-democratic and nor can directly elected mayors be considered so either, in fact I'm rather a fan. But holding referendums if Council tax goes over a certain threshold? Surely that is what Council Elections are for, if a Lib Dem Council (for example) puts up Council tax by 10% then the public have the right to use their vote to remove them. I have always believed that referendums are dangerous and should be used as little as possible (if at all), extending them to issues such as Council Tax just makes Local Councillors even weaker and means they hold even less responsibility.

Come on Cameron if you really support Local Democracy restore Councillors responsibilities.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Photos of the ol'country

These three sites offer brilliant photos and titbits on my favourite places in France.

1 - Avignon In Photos

2 - Paris by Pete

3 - Paris Daily Photo

So thanks to Pete, Eric & Nathalie for making my day a little less grim.

Any more suggestions welcome

Monday, 9 February 2009

Six Nations Week One

So far so good then for defending champions Wales. My verdicts on all the teams:

England: An easy victory but the team lacks so much pace as to make them look like pensioners on the pitch.

Italy: What were they thinking! I have always had a soft spot for Italy but their lack of strength in depth will always make their task hard especially away from home.

Wales: Looked good and still posses all the elements that won them the grand slam last time round, but injuries to Ryan Jones and Shane Williams will worry fans.

France: A poor result but they showed enough flare to worry Scotland & Wales who will have to travel to Paris.

Ireland: Team of the weekend, they played like the good ol' days with confidence and a great set of running backs but they will need to be on top form in every game to pick up the title.

Scotland: Same old sorry story they try but they just cannot produce for eighty minutes, looked confortable in possession but lacked any bite and defence was easily shredded by Welsh team playing within themselves.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

May you live in interesting times......

Just so people don't get the idea that it is only in the UK that politics is being effected by the mother of all all recessions. In Ireland the government has just unveiled an emergency budget that will cut the pay of public servants by 7% and cut spending on social services and international development, commentators believe Brian Cowens government to be on its last legs. In Iceland the government collapsed last week and in came Europe's first openly lesbian head of government, but she may soon find herself deep in electoral trouble as the far left Green-Left alliance now heads the polls. In Latvia the Minister for Agriculture has just resigned after mass street protests after protests by farmers. In Germany Deutsche Bank has posted its first annual loss since WWII.

I find a little perspective helps.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Jacqui Smith on a chicken run?

Is our esteemed Home Secretary (and Villa Fan) Jacqui Smith about to do a runner to a safe seat away from her her less than comfortable resting place in Redditch. Whilst I understand the logic of such a move i have a great deal of sympathy for the activists in Redditch who no doubt would have fought like hell to keep her in place, but now face the prospect of fighting an almost hopeless election with a fresh candidate and little central support. My suggestion would be for Jacqui Smith to fight the election in Redditch, then should she lose (unlikely as that is!) I am sure a backbencher of a certain age can be persuaded to stand down soon afterwards.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Welcome to the Club

As highlighted by this blog a few weeks ago Iceland is set to join the European Union, I think this is fantastic news. I like Iceland and its people and I think they will be better off inside the club. It may also be good news for whales as I hope the EU will use membership negotiations as an opportunity to restrict Iceland's hunting.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

No time ....

When did life become so busy.. so little time for blogging. so in the best style of a lazy b******d here's a few links that have tickled my fancy in the last few days.

1 - The man Prescott shows us Labour bloggers how it should be done.

2 - The FT questions new boy Ken Clarke's position on Heathrow

3 - French Politics raises some cynical questions on what the current French general strike will achieve.


Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Slum Dog Millionaire

Last night I had the pleasure of going to the movies, for the first time in months, to see Slum Dog Millionaire. Having heard the response of critics to this film, Kermode for example views it as Danny Boyle's Best, i was looking forward to an outsatnding film.... It wasn't. It was good, very good in fact but certainly not Boyle's best and certainly not the best film of the last year.

I can't help feeling that the normal cinema audience has been fed such light weight crap over the last few years that any film with a touch of magic and depth is seen as a work of genius.

For those who care these are in, my opinion, the ten best films since 2000:

1 - Goodbye Lenin (2003)
2 - The Lives of Others (2006)
3 - The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
4 - Bad Education (2004)
5 - Downfall (2004)
6 - Y tu Mama Tambien (2001)
7 - Hotel Rwanda (2004)
8 - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
9 - Last King Of Scotland (2006)
10- Cockles & Muscles (2004)

Just typing that list has made me feel good.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Issrael & Gaza

To understand the conflict in the Middle East, if that is possible, you could do worse than start here.....

Thursday, 15 January 2009

The Euro - Time to re-open the debate?

I have just listened to an interview of Radio 4 (details to follow as soon as i can get hold of them) on the subject the Euro. Ten years on is it time to reopen the debate? I would say yes, i know that there is little chance of the UK adopting the euro in the short term but with Iceland, Sweden and Denmark all looking to join isn't the UK and its pound becoming dangerously isolated?

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Tory gerrymandering?

David Cameron has made a few suggestions about how to re-balance the House of Commons. Naturally as a Labourite i would love to be able to attack these proposals as gerrymandering but unfortunately in all good consciousness i can't. The fact is that the UK's election system is skewed in favour of Labour at the expense of the Conservatives. This is quite simply unfair. Whilst no system can be perfect there is clearly still something slightly wrong with our system when Labour needs as little as 35% to form a majority whereas the Tories need over 40% (assuming the Lib Dem vote doesn't collapse completely)

Politically I believe that politics is self correcting, voters will get the outcome they want, so whilst a few extra seats for the Tories might make a minor difference now in the long term it will have little impact on who gets to run the country.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Super Sarko to the rescue!!!!!

I would be interested to know on what basis Nicholas Sarkozy is negotiating his way around the Middle East?

Is it .....

A- As president of France?
B - As last year's president of the EU?
C - As just some bloke who likes to get to any international crisis first and make alot of noise before heading back to Paris safe in the knowledge he has achieved sod all?

Any ideas?

Friday, 2 January 2009

Predictions for 2009

1 - There will be no UK general election in 2009

2 - The BNP will win a seat at the European Parliament

3 - The Liberals and Tories running Birmingham will start to fall out

4 - Aston Villa will qualify for the champions league - but will go out of of the UEFA cup at CSKA Moscow

5 - Sarkozy will become increasingly dominant in the EU

6 - Iceland will hold a referendum on membership of the EU and vote in favour of joining.

7 - Clegg will find himself in troubled waters as Liberals receive a thrashing in the European Parliament elections

8 - A Bill to regulate blogs will be introduced following a series of high profile libel cases.

9 - Sarah Brown will assume an ever increasing public role.

10 - The Pound will regain much of its value and return to around 82p to the Euro.