Thursday, August 30, 2007

Flying saucer

I want one !!

I know there are probably good environmental reasons against this, but humour me . Given I don't have a spare fifty grand in small change in my back pocket, this is going to remain a fantasy.Much like my wish to be on the Star Trek Enterprise and have my own transporter so I can beam myself all over the place at a moments notice;Breakfast in New York, lunch in London and drinks on a deserted beach.

Yep, fantasy land...


Monday, August 27, 2007

Farewell John Prescott

And so farewell, Brother Prescott of the two Jags (and the two jabs, the two shags, but the no principles).

Lyrical will the pundits wax on your decades of contribution to the labour movement. The way you gave working-class credibility to New Labour by having a regional accent and having worked on a ship for about five years nearly half a century ago.

Much tribute they will pay to your bettering yourself by going to college, whilst no doubt omitting to mention your pulling up the ladder behind you by voting for tuition fees.

And oh how humorous it will be to recall you thumping that protester fellow. And sly but still tangible will be the admiration and surprise that you attracted the sexual attention of two women.

Little will be said of your string of betrayals of the working class whose credibility you apparently gave to Blair's project to drive that class out of politics altogether. No mention will be made of your support for anti-trade union laws, your refusal to bring the railways back into public ownership, your siding with the government against the firefighters, your support for war. That even your own union eventually made you walk the plank and evicted your son from the union-owned flat that you'd stashed him in.

From me, it's goodbye and good bloody riddance. Mind you, I will miss the amusing 'two Jags' column in Off The Rails.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Domestic violence

The Guardian reports on the continual high rates of domestic violence and the crap attitudes of judges.

It highlights two recent cases where men were fined for violent and sadistic abuse of their partners :

It is quite hard, for instance, to fathom what the magistrates who gave Stuart Brown a £500 fine this week - after he dragged his wife out of bed and punched her at least 24 times - meant when they described him as being of "good character" . For the seven years of their marriage, Brown's wife, Carol McEwan, complained of regular verbal and physical abuse. Brown hasn't even lost his job - he still works at the Norwich and Norfolk University Hospital as a consultant anaesthetist, although the General Medical Council will be holding a disciplinary hearing. "No punishment this court could enforce could come anywhere near the impact you feel this had on you, your profession and your colleagues," the presiding magistrate, John Warne, told Brown.

The case caps a week of astonishment and despair for campaigners against domestic violence. On Monday, Colin Read, a management consultant, was fined just £2,000 for a catalogue of violence against his wife, Elizabeth Axe. Read became violent soon after the couple married last year, and, in one of the worst attacks, slashed his wife's feet with a knife while she was asleep because she hadn't made his sandwiches for work the next day. When she protested, he punched her. Eight days later, he complained that she hadn't ironed one of his shirts and branded her twice with the iron on her back - the steam holes were burnt into her skin. Too terrified to see a doctor, Axe treated her burns by standing under a cold shower.
Read wasn't given a community punishment as the judge said that the demands of his job meant he would be "too busy" to fulfil it. "A fine is not really a deterrent," said Axe after the three-day trial. "People might think they can do whatever they want, pay a few pounds and it's all over." When you consider these men's salaries, it becomes even clearer that the fines handed down were no real punishment - Brown is said to earn £100,000 a year, Read £90,000.

How the fuck can anyone be deemed of good character when they physically abuse another person. Seems the judge did not want to inconvenience these men too much, I mean can't have their well paid jobs affected. Perhaps if they really were punished they might think twice before acting as they did.

The judges seem to think that because the partner has left the man he is no longer a risk. Firstly, that smacks of seeing her as in some way to blame.No women is to blame for being burnt with an iron . Secondly, he is still a risk to any other woman he becomes involved in.

The report puts these two cases into context :

One in four women in the UK experience domestic violence during their lives, and it accounts for the murders of two women - and as many as 10 suicides - a week. In Britain, police receive half a million complaints a year, although this is, of course, a tiny proportion of the actual number of incidents. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) says it takes domestic violence "very seriously" and points to the increasing number of specialist prosecutors working on domestic violence cases. Overall conviction rates are higher year on year, but, looking at this week's cases, that seems almost irrelevant if the punishment doesn't fit the crime. In cases where domestic violence hasn't ended in murder, just 4% of men who are convicted serve prison sentences.

And yes I know prison is not the answer, but while we wait for a better world without violence against women I am quite happy to see these men punished for their violence. And yes it needs to go hand in hand with challenging attitudes that it is ok to abuse women and to address why these men act how they do through rehab programmes. More support is also needed to help women who are suffering abuse .

At the moment though the message these cases are sending out is that it is not worth reporting attacks and that your suffering is worth about a week or two of these men's wages . No wonder many women feel there is no point and no one really gives a damn.

hat tip Mind the Gap.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Zimbabwean Women Activists Arrested

Breaking News - Women of Zimbabwe Arise

AT FOUR AM today Law and Order Police officers started to go door-to-door arresting members of WOZA. As it stands four members, Rosemary Siziba, Margaret Ndlovu, Idah Ndebele and Maria Moyo are confirmed to have been taken. Other members refused to open their doors in the dark.

At 4:45 am they arrived at the gate of Magodonga Mahlangu, broke her gate padlock and proceeded to try to break down the front and back doors. They did not succeed and left taking 'snowy' the dog with them. They were heard insulting both Mahlangu and Williams who are both leaders.

In Masvingo, Police also searched the homes of two members late last night and upon finding nothing promised to return to arrest the members who were not at home. Police officers said they are looking for information about the 'Sheroes Congress'.

WOZA and MOZA conducted their annual assembly in rural Matabeleland this past weekend and it is assumed that these arrests and searches are an attempt to obtain information about the congress resolutions.

News is still coming in from other areas ..

24 August 2007

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Protests in the Streets of Edinburgh

Here's me addressing the masses today outside the Edinburgh City Chambers where councillors voted through £10 million worth of cuts and to have a "consultation" about 22 school closures! (Not very glamourous but I have been picketing since 7 in the morning)
8000 council workwers were on strike and hundreds of campaigners from all the groups, nurseries, schools, community centres etc were out in full.
One of the biggest contingencies were the High School pupils from the three secondary schools that are to close. They were outside the city chambers in full school uniform from eight this morning with great banners like "Hey councillor! Leave our schools alone!" They are talking about having a school student strike in defence of their schools and services.
Politics in Edinburgh are all over the place. The Green Party has three councillors and despite voting against the closures and cuts had no presence at all at the protest. New Labour (despite being in power in the city for 23 years and responsible for spending the council's reserves) got all revolutionary and tried to be protestors, but they haven't done it for a very long time so didn't really know what to do - UNISON leadership couldn't even organise a decent PA system. The swips were out in force with their paper but no sign of Solidary (at all). The SNP who are trying to be all populist but are going to have to make really unpopular decisions - stayed away from the media today and have done all week. The SNP Executive in the Parliament have a policy for smaller class sizes and more nursery places. The SNP/Lib Dem coalittion in Edinburgh have voted through a proposal to potentially close 22 schools and nurseries!
The Scottish Socialist Party had quite a good intervention, even if I say so myself - we have a few comrades in the council, Colin Fox, convenor of the SSP spoke and was well received, our paper and leaflets were taken in good spirits too.
I have to say a good day of striking and protesting doesn't half raise your spirits - looks like there will be interesting times in Edinburgh over the next few months. I'll bore youse all with the details as they unfold - well I'll give some reports. If you are very interested you can look up the Edinburgh Evening News on google.
And if you want to see more photos - nicer ones than me and to see the mood of the protest today just click on the link

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Good and bad news...

Well the good news is Henman is retiring. So no more 'come on Tim' and 'Henman Hill', no more talk of the plucky chap and the delusion every year that he might win Wimbledon.

Bad news ? Well James Blunt has a new album.

Ah well, where is my AK47...


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Revolting Edinburgh

UNISON Council workers are on strike tomorow - new administration are making £10 million worth of cuts due to the last administration spending all the city's reserves so we are going on strike tomorrow in protest. But the city seems to be going daft protesting as the councillors have announced that there will be 22 school and nursery closures. Closures of community centres, cut backs to older people and disabled people, life and limb cover only in the home help service. All in all they are totally sledge hammering services with NO or little consultation.

However I am cynical enough to believe that they have bloated the amount of closures and cut backs in order to have some token sucesses in all the campaigns. 16 closures instead of 22, which would make the council look lenient.

We need to stand together - not seperate.

I'll let you know how we get on tomorrow.

Up the workers!

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Abortion Rights Resolution

Here is the text of one of the two resolutions that RMT is submitting to Scottish TUC Women's Conference. It's a good one. Never having been to Scottish TUC Women's Conference, I'd be interested in any informed speculation as to how it will be received! (Cat?)


“This Conference deplores the views of Cardinal Keith O'Brien who spoke out against abortions. He called on catholic politicians to use their political power and influence to change the law and impose their views on people who disagreed with them. Cardinal O'Brien said that the abortion rate in Scotland was equivalent to 'two Dunblane massacres a day'. He also took a public step towards coercing MP's when he said that catholics in Parliament should cease to take the sacraments of their religion if they did not obey the church.

The outlawing of abortion hits hardest at working class women. It was poor and desperate young women who risked and sometimes lost their lives in back street abortions.

Conference calls on the General Council and Women's Committee to condemn religion dictating politics and defend the right for all women to have the choice.”

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Monday, August 20, 2007

A Four-Year-Old Takes A Rational Decision To Reassess Her Beliefs About God, The Universe And Everything. Not.

How bloody ridiculous is this!? A Sikh couple is offering to baptise their daughter as Roman Catholic to get her into the junior section of a primary school she already attends.

Sikh critics are upset because, they say, of the history of Sikhs being persecuted for refusing to convert to other religions in situations rather more threatening and oppressive than this one.

Of course, the whole thing just exposes the irrationality of the very concept of 'faith schools'. How in God's name (ha ha) is a four-year-old supposed to make a considered choice as to what set of superstitions, if any, she subscribes to?!

Young Maya expresses a feeling on which four-year-olds are eminently more qualified to have an opinion - she doesn't want to be separated from her friends.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

"Gorno" or Torture Porn - What do you think about it?

I am feart of blood so there is no danger I would ever watch Kill Bill or Saw II or really anything with zombies, torture or anything like it. I did manage to watch Shaun of the Dead but was sick watching Pan's Labyrynth.

However I am aware that there is more and more torture films on the go just now and films depicting real horrible violence. Some people are saying they particulalry glorify violence against women. I haven't seen any of them so I can't comment soI just wanted ask others - what do you think?

There's a protest about Tarintino's new film which is supposedly is really glorifying violence against women.

Here's an article in The Guardian about it all.,,2069286,00.html

Why are gory, violent fims good to watch? What is the attraction? Does anyone who reads Stroppy Blog watch them?


Saturday, August 18, 2007

My Son Is Not A Monster

I may have mentioned before that I hate the Daily Mail, and this article has done little to endear me.

Jan Greenman has written a book about life with her son Luke, who has Asperger's syndrome and ADHD. My son Joe has Asperger's syndrome. He's a beautiful, affectionate, intelligent, sociable, funny, charming and sometimes infuriating boy.

Asperger's makes a parent's life difficult. On one level I have a lot of sympathy with Greenman. Yes, experiencing violence from your own son is horrible. Yes, the Asperger's desire for sameness and routine can be very frustrating and demanding. And maybe, since Luke has ADHD as well, he is much harder to cope with than Joe. Poor Jan had to give up her job as the treasurer of a private merchant bank. Perhaps the further you fall, the harder it is, eh?

But Greenman's article is cold and negative. Luke, according to the headline, is a 'monster'. A tip: his behaviour may at times be monstrous, but he is not a monster. If you must label, label the behaviour not the person.

Some of what Greenman complains about is behaviour common amongst children, although probably exaggerated in an Asperger's child. Lots of kids - autistic or not - wake up at 5am, write on the walls, and want to send their new baby sibling back to the hospital.

Greenman's upset at Luke's damage to expensive belongings contrasts with a notable lack of sympathy for Luke himself. There is not a word in this article acknowledging that Luke's life might be difficult, that he as well as his mother might find situations distressing. There is nothing about any positive aspects of his character. Greenman doesn't say she loves him, doesn't even really say she cares (in an emotional rather than strictly practical sense).

Luke has been excluded from mainstream secondary school because someone bullied him and he responded in a highly inappropriate manner. Hang on - Luke was bullied and he was excluded?! Sure, his response may have been inappropriate (that'll be the Asperger's), but what about the bully?! And what about the school, which can find no way to support a boy with Asperger's and ADHD and help him learn more appropriate social behaviour, and so chucks him out? Luke's mother has no such criticism or questions to raise. She only demands (reasonably enough) more special schools.

Maybe the Daily Mail has highlighted the negative and the book is more balanced. Maybe the newspaper, rather than the author, put the word 'monster' in the headline. There are several books around about bringing up - and about being - a child with Asperger's syndrome. I've not read any of them yet. But judging by this article, I won't be reading Jan Greenman's.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

25 Years of the CD

This makes me feel old:

Exactly 25 years ago the word's first compact disc was produced at a Philips factory in Germany, sparking a global music revolution.
More than 200 billion CDs have been sold worldwide since then and it remains the dominant format despite the growth in digital downloads.


In the last 10 years CD sales have been dropping worldwide while digital download sales are rising rapidly.

According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), digital sales will account for a quarter of all worldwide music sales by 2010.

CD sales in the UK have dropped 10% in the first half of this year, while download purchases have increased by 50%.

My first experience of CDs was borrowing them from the local library and copying them onto tapes,before that I taped from the radio.It allowed me to start collecting music as I couldn't afford to buy music as a kid. I can though remember the first record my parents bought me. And no, I'm not telling !

I now have LPs, tapes and CDs in my collection. I also download and am very attached to my ipod. I spend too much time on trains and I like to be able to shut out the noise and babble around me. I do though still like to have something solid, a CD or an LP, that I can hold and look at. I tend to buy CDs and then upload them and even when I have downloaded I still end up burning a CD to have a copy.

Some are nostalgic for LPs and I must admit I do like that crackle at the start when the needle hits the groove. I like the artwork on the covers and the sleeve notes . I like nosing in second hand record stores at the old LPs . The covers often say so much about the time , as much as the music does.

I suppose I just like music in all its formats .

Pic: London Calling, The Clash. A favourite band and album cover.


Rape Crisis Centres

It looks like rape is actually legal in Britain. Rape continually has a shamefully low conviction rate, but is it just the criminal justice system that is to blame or attitudes about rape? There are 50% less rape crisis centres now than there were in 1985. Juries rarely believe victims when it does go to court. The criminal justice system will improve when attitudes about rape change in society. Check out the Guarduan -,,2148480,00.html

Check out the TAR website They are planning a national meeting for Spring 2008.

I think feminists and the left need to get back to brass tacks and we take up demands to keep rape crisis centres open


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lads' Mags Sales Crash

Today's good news is that the circulation of lads' mags has crashed. The loathsome Loaded has lost 35% of its sales over the last year. Hurrah.

A pundit on Radio 5 offered three possible reasons: inability to attract celebrities to appear on the cover; 'format fatigue'; and the internet.

And there was me hoping it was because fewer and fewer men are the sexist neanderthals that these mags pitch themselves at. What do you reckon?


How to Save Someone's Job

I was involved in a campaign to defend someone's job a while back, and think it's an experience worth writing up here. It's not one of those struggles that makes the headlines, it didn't get as far as a ballot let alone a strike ... but that's because the campaign won. It's actually a very everyday sort of case, but I think the manner of how it won was something of a model.

This bloke - let's call him Jerry - worked for a transport company. He had an unblemished work record for seven months, then - with tragic personal cricumstances in the background - lost his rag with a workmate one day (no violence involved). He faced the sack, in the form of termination at the end of his probation.

The employer should have signed off his probation after six months, but the manager responsible hadn't done so. So Jerry was dealt with as a probationer, facing a 'review' of his employment rather than a disciplinary hearing with the basic rights that would involve. In fact, the manager had made such a dog's breakfast of the proceedings that Jerry's union rep was able to save his job - albeit with the probation (that he shouldn't still have been on anyway!) extended.

But before the extended probation was up, the aforementioned personal tragedy came back to haunt Jerry and he was unable to come to work one day. This got him back up in front of the management, this time pretty determined to sack him.

As this was still a 'review of probation', Jerry and his union rep were not even entitled to see the charges against him, let alone to have a properly-constituted disciplinary hearing - and if he were sacked, he would have no legal redress, having been employed for less than a year.

The union rep prepared all the arguments, but knew that this alone would not win it. The rep discussed the situation with as many people as possible in the workplace, and found that with some encouragement, they were keen to defend Jerry, especially as he was well-liked and hard-working. Workers drafted a petition, and got well over half the workforce to sign it - hardly anyone refused. Some wrote statements in support of Jerry as well as signing the petition.

Jerry, his rep and some other members went to their union branch meeting, where he got unanimous support, and agreed that in the event of Jerry being sacked, they would hold a special branch meeting near his workplace to plan an appeal and moves to industrial action if necessary. Activists started working on fixing a venue, date and time.

Meanwhile, the rep discovered that several other new workers had gone past their six months without having their probation signed off. She tabled the issue for discussion at the local negotiating meeting, and demanded that management ensure that probation is always dealth with promptly. Management had no choice to agree, but the rep kept on their case to make sure they were actually delivering.

When Jerry's probation review happened, things did not look good. But then the rep produced the petition and the statements from workmates, and made sure the managers were aware of the strength of feeling in both the workplace and the branch. Management decided not to sack Jerry, but to confirm him in position.

Jerry had no knowledge or experience of trade unionism before this job. But he is now a hard-working, committed union activist, handing out leaflets in the workplace, encouraging new workers to join, coming to meetings when he can, and always up for campaigns and industrial action.

The lessons?

  • No matter how silver-tongued your union rep, mobilising the members is the key to winning.
  • Behind every individual case there is a collective issue - in this case, justice for probationers.
  • Don't just get workers justice - get them involved.
  • It is a disgrace that ten years into a Labour government, workers in their first year of employment still don't have the right to claim unfair dismissal, and that employers still have the right to use the notion of 'probation' to deny workers basic rights.


Haloscan, blogger and recent comments

I have added the 'recent comments' to the sidebar as per blogger instructions. It doesn't seem to be picking up the comments and I think its because I have haloscan.

Any suggestions as to what I do?

Oh and yes, I know I need to change from blogger and I will be doing, but for now I want 'recent comments ' on the sidebar.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"I've often considered it a small tragedy that there are so many oiks amongst leftists. I find they are often happy to settle for a lot less than the higher price us ex public schoolboys demand."

A comment from Punchie on my post on class.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Karl Rove: rats and sinking ships

Karl Rove (pictured) is leaving his role as advisor to Bush in order to spend more time with his family.

Yeah right, of course he is.

Thoughts anyone ?


Chav's , bottle blondes and 'class '

It seems that calling someone a chav makes it acceptable to mock and look down on the working classes . First there was the attack on 'chav's ' who just did not know their place and went to Goodwood races . I mean, shouldn't they be cleaning the lavs and making the tea, doffing their cap at the ladies in their summer frocks. They just don't respect their betters these days:

Ladies dressed elegantly in floral frocks, and on the arms of gentlemen spruced up in cravats and Panama hats, were welcome: Daves and Tracys from Dagenham emblazoned with tattoos and chunky jewellery under Burberry baseball caps were not.

But despite the Earl of March and Kinrara’s wishes, a chav or two did escape the style-police at yesterday’s opening of Glorious Goodwood.

The earl, heir to the Goodwood estate, had said he feared that this most English of meets was going the way of other racecourses “whose patrons dress as though they’re going to a nightclub”.

“I won’t be asking that visitors wear morning coats but I would like to see the ladies in nice traditional English summer frocks, with linen suits and Panama hats for the gentlemen,” he is reported to have said. “We have far too many chavs, I’m afraid. Perhaps we’ll have to have some spare jackets.”

It looks like this was brought about by the Grand National Meeting earlier in the year and reported on by the Daily Mail in suitably snooty tones :

His (the Earl of March, SB)comments are likely to have been prompted by the Grand National meeting in April when Ladies' Day looked more like the queue for fancy dress night at a Liverpool nightclub.

The footballers' wives and glamour girls of the North-West put on a display that spectators at Aintree will never forget.

Heaving bosoms were on show, along with acres of fake tan and extravagant headdresses perched on bleached-blonde hairdos.

To make matters worse, the shrieking hordes swigged beer straight from the bottle.

And what exactly is wrong with bleached blonde hair and swigging out of bottles! Yep, I know i'm not classy ;-)

Following on from this is the youtube video, albeit filmed two years ago, showing jolly japes at a top public school :

One of Scotland's top public schools has condemned a video which showed ex-pupils staging a mock "chav hunt".
"Class Wars" was posted on the internet site YouTube by former students at Glenalmond College, near Perth.

The film, which showed teenagers wearing shell suits being chased by classmates dressed as aristocrats, was partly filmed on the school grounds.

Officials have described the spoof as "deeply offensive" and said it did not reflect the ethos at the school.

It began with one teenager in a baseball cap being pulled out of a river before being subjected to a simulated beating by a couple of tweed-wearing 'attackers'.

Another scene showed a shell suit wearing gang being chased through the school grounds by two young men dressed as huntsmen and on horseback.

They were shown being 'shot' as they ran across a field and one of the 'victims' was then prodded by an aristocrat as he lay on the ground.

Apparently the pupils are no longer at the school, headed for good jobs running business and the country no doubt. The school says it does not reflect the ethos and they condemn it . It is no longer on you tube but there is still a clip on the BBC news page.

I would say it illustrates very well the contempt held for the working class by this group of privileged public school kids and the Earl, even if it is wrapped up in the term 'chav'.They may use this word, but they mean working class. They mean common, not one of 'them', 'look they don't know how to dress or use the right knife and fork'. 'They', the working class, have the nerve to ignore the rules and 'invade' our genteel world. Ignore all that Cameron nonsense, society is not classless and even if you have the money you don't have the 'class'.The message is don't step out of line and know your place.

The barriers are there, some more hidden than others, to ensure even if you can afford to play with the middle and upper classes you never really fit in.

Pic: Courtney.Well any excuse, but nothing wrong with drunken badly behaved bottle blondes !


Of course even some on the left look down on the working classes, as evidenced by a comment left on this post and reproduced here :

I've often considered it a small tragedy that there are so many oiks amongst leftists. I find they are often happy to settle for a lot less than the higher price us ex public schoolboys demand.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Should I Go To The Heathrow Protests?

... Is a hypothetical question, really, cos even if I supported them, there are far more pressing demands on my time during the school summer holidays. But it's a hypothetical worth pondering anyway, and I've pondered to the conclusion that I shouldn't.

I'm not one of the saddos who have been phoning Radio 5 all day denying the existence of climate change, slagging off hippies or not giving a toss about the environment. But I do have a problem with a flat opposition to air travel without differentiation.

I think the fact that many working-class people regularly travel abroad is a Very Good Thing. From my parents' generation where only the rich set foot outside these shores, we have progressed to a society where most people in most developed capitalist countries have seen a bit of the world. That's good for quality of life, for broadening horizons, and - union jack boxer shorts notwithstanding - for integration and internationalism. I have no desire to curtail it by objecting to airports or demanding hikes in taxes on flying.

Sure, air travel is not environmentally friendly. But how about curtailing the bloody thousands of probably-unnecessary business flights by people who could almost certainly do their business on a webchat but see world travel as a perk of the top-flight job? How about changing the ridiculous fact that it is cheaper to fly from London to Glasgow than to take the train? And how about changing that fact not by pricing up air travel but by taking the railways back into public ownership and slashing fares?

Maybe Heathrow shouldn't be expanded, but until the protesters make it clear that their demand is not that everyone should holiday in Clacton not Morocco, then I'll not be joining the camp.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Holiday Listening

Just back from a week-long family holiday in Dorset, where plenty of driving meant plenty of listening to music (negotiated amongst a family of five, all with strong opinions on such matters). Most Listened To CD was the eponymous Libertines album, a superb collection of songs of which Music When The Lights Go Out is probably my favourite. Much time also spent listening to Disc 2 of 2001 compilation Unbelievable. This was a sweet-and-sour experience, as I can't bear Blue Monday but can happily drive along to the La's, Charlatans and Inspirals.

At a motorway services stop-off, I bought CDs by the Ordinary Boys, Kaiser Chiefs, and ... wait for it ... the Best of the Boomtown Rats. Yes, really. The sleeve notes would have you believe the Rats are the ultimate late-70s voice of the Irish urban streets. That honour, of course, goes to the Undertones, but I was a Rats fan at the time, and not having listened to them for some time, a few of the songs gave me a happy surprise in remembering how good they really were - particularly Rat Trap, Looking After No.1, Someone's Looking At You and Like Clockwork. Bob Geldof, eh? There's a man who should have stuck to the music and given the politics a miss. Or actually, should have retired from the music before the forgettable songs at the end of this collection and given the politics a miss.

Saving the best til last, Extras, a gathering of out-takes b-sides and oddities from the greatest band in history - that's The Jam for the uninitiated. Amongst the gems is a version of Burning Sky more acoustic than that on Setting Sons. A song about making your peace with capitalism, it couldn't help but remind me of Alan Johnson's recent renunciation of Marxism. Obviously, unlike Weller's first-person character, Johnson has not become a business suit, and I am not accusing him of such, but here are the lyrics, so perhaps you will see what I mean ...

How are things in your little world, I hope they're going well and you are too.
Do you still see the same old crowd, the ones who used to meet every Friday.
I'm really sorry that I can't be there but work comes first, I'm sure you'll understand.
Things are really taking off for me - business is thriving and I'm showing a profit and.
And in any case it wouldn't be the same, 'cause we've all grown up and we've got our lives
And the values that we had once upon a time seem stupid now 'cause the rent must be paid
And some bonds severed and others made.

Now I don't want you to get me wrong, ideals are fine when you are young
And I must admit we had a laugh, but that's all it was and ever will be,
'Cause the Burning Sky keeps on burning bright.
And as long as it does (and it always will),
There's no time for dreams when commerce calls.
And the taxman's shouting 'cause he wants his dough and the wheels of finance won't begin to slow.

And it's only us realists who are gonna come through 'cause there's only one power higher than that of truth and that's the Burning Sky.

Oh and by the way I must tell you, before I sign off, that I've got a meeting next week,
With the head of a big corporate I can't disclose who but I'm sure you'll know it and.
And the Burning Sky - keeps burning bright. And it won't turn off til it's had enough,
It's the greedy bastard who won't give up, and you're just a dreamer if you don't realise,
And the sooner you do will be the better for you,
Then we'll all be happy and we'll all be wise and we'll all bow down to the Burning Sky.

Then we'll all be happy and we'll all be wise and together we will live beneath the
Burning Sky.


blogging and waffle

Not posted much of late, been busy and generally uninspired.

Not sure what to say about the foot and mouth update, much like many on the left. I mean even Punchie is waiting for a Trot vet to tell us the line.

Pootling about the Internet there are a few posts that have caught my eye, so i'll be lazy and direct you to them.

Will asks questions about the Lefts response to two attacks on ex-Muslim activists . These attacks were a response to them speaking out about Islam. I suspect the response will be silence or some sort of wussy liberal talk on the Guardian about the need for sensitivity and not offending Muslims, even from those who are best placed and most entitled to do so.

Hakmao highlights a survey that shows some pretty bloody awful attitudes to women who are raped, much along the lines of certain women are asking for it .

I have recently joined Facebook. I'm still undecided about it as a tool for the left. I do think the left needs to look at its strategies and tactics. Demos, shouting into a megaphone and paper selling have limited value. The Internet is one medium that has been, and should be , embraced by sections of the left. It has a role, though there is a danger of just arguing amongst ourselves and being cliquey. It won't go away though and does need to be used.

There is a debate on Facebook at the moment about the BNP having groups on there.I suggest having a look at Volty's post on this.

Finally a post by Dave on the social impact of Blairism. The left needs a more complex response to New Labour and this is a good start to that debate. Its not all bad and for many its quite good. To ignore this will not advance socialism or help the argument against New Labour. I am not cheer leading New Labour in the least but the reality is it IS better than Thatcher and the Tories, however small the gap.

Hopefully I'll find time and inspiration to post in the next few days !

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

More strange searches

Looking at my stats today I noticed two searches, one was 'Hazel Blears stockings' and the other a search for Dolls4Jim .

I also get people searching for mud wrestling on a regular basis. They must be quite disappointed to find one of my many Denham posts .

Strange people, still keeps them off the streets I suppose ;-)

Pic for Volty, who is rather taken with both Hazel Blears and Yvonne Ridley .

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Yangtze river dolphins

I just find this sad :

A freshwater dolphin found only in China is now "likely to be extinct", a team of scientists has concluded.


The team, writing in Biology Letters journal, blamed unregulated fishing as the main reason behind their demise.

If confirmed, it would be the first extinction of a large vertebrate for over 50 years.

"The Yangtze river dolphin was a remarkable mammal that separated from all other species over 20 million years ago," Dr Turvey explained.

"This extinction represents the disappearance of a complete branch of the evolutionary tree of life and emphasises that we have yet to take full responsibility in our role as guardians of the planet."

If confirmed, it would be the first extinction of a large vertebrate for over 50 years.

The species (Lipotes vexillifer) was the only remaining member of the Lipotidae, an ancient mammal family that is understood to have separated from other marine mammals, including whales, dolphins and porpoises, about 40-20 million years ago.

The white, freshwater dolphin had a long, narrow beak and low dorsal fin; lived in groups of three or four and fed on fish.

Just more fucking up of this planet .


"this is what a feminist looks like"

Run the Women's Challenge with Fawcett

'Bmycharity' for everything you need to start raising sponsorship online.

Fawcett relies on donations from individuals to fund our campaigns and keep us strong and independent;

you can have fun and help us raise moneyby asking your friends and family to sponsor you in the Women's Challenge.

I'm game for a laugh whose up for it with me? We need to sign up now!

Im challenging all the contributors (and female readers) of this blog to do it with me and my reference number for the race is 111617.


You can now sponser mehere


Friday, August 03, 2007

The Holiday Bottle

I was going to blog about this, but I'm off to down a bottle of red instead.

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Facebook ...arghhhhhhh

I have finally given in and joined Facebook!

First MarshaJane has been nagging me .Then last night I went to Tami's birthday and meal and she made an offer I couldn't refuse, if I joined she would set up the Dolls4Jim group. So I'm there, my name is stroppy bird. I have been 'poking' people. I'm not sure what that means yet but it sounds fun. Of course I am sure there are better uses of my time ,as with the blogs I get the feeling this could be addictive.

Oh and thanks Tami for a nice night. Hope you enjoyed your birthday . I gave Tami a birthday card with a picture of Jim Denham on it. Oh and a large glossy picture which Tami put on a seat set aside for him,it was as if he was there with us, in spirit(s). Tami has told me it is going on her wall. We managed to baffle her Birkbeck mates who could not understand who this Jim was and what Dolls4Jim was about. One thought Jim had really stood against Gordon Brown. I think Dave and George despaired of us.

Oh well, better see if anyone has 'poked' me over at Facebook. I only have three friends , its the school playground all over again :-(

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Salford Bin Workers' Victory

It seems that the Salford bin workers have won their dispute with the Council over casualisation. Below is the T&G/Unite press release. I'm always sceptical of union press releases, having seen many a shoddy deal sold as a victory and dressed up like a Christmas tree. But this one does look like a genuine victory. Great news.

The sad thing is that one of the main organisers, Mick Cashman (pictured), did not live to see the victory, as he died of a heart attack last month. I never met Mick (but do know several of his relatives), but many people I respect speak very highly of him. The union has dedicated the victory to Mick's memory.

Salford dispute ends in workers’ success

The terms of a new agreement reached between Salford City Council and the T&G section of Unite – the union were greeted with cheers today by union members, as they voted unanimously to accept the deal and therefore end the dispute with the council over the casualisation of jobs and the undermining of council pay and conditions.

The agreement was described by the union as “a commitment to 100% service delivery by a permanent workforce.” Following a review, the council will ensure that staffing levels for refuse collection and street cleansing are established on the basis of service need, and any additional staff will be recruited on permanent contracts. Permanent hiring of staff will start from Monday 6th August. Recycling services will transfer to direct council contracts by 1st November.

Mass meetings of union members this morning backed the agreement which had been recommended for acceptance by the dispute organising committee yesterday, following a long day of negotiations on Monday with the employer.

Neil Clarke, T&G section of Unite Regional Industrial Organiser, said:

“The outcome surpasses the expectations of our members at the outset of the dispute. It represents a magnificent victory won because of the unity of Unite members, and demonstrates what can be achieved by organised workers who campaign collectively within a strong union.”

The full details of the agreement are:

  • A review of refuse collection services and subsequently, of street cleansing. The outcome of the review will establish the required number of staff to meet the service need. Any additional staff over and above the current establishment will be recruited to permanent council contracts within three-month of the end of the reviews.

  • Recycling currently operated by agency workers will transfer to a service delivered by permanent staff employed directly by the local authority by 1st November 2007 at the latest.

  • Some workers will commence permanent employment on Monday in positions that have previously been filled with casual staff.

  • Pre-planned holiday cover and long-term sickness can be covered by temporary workers employed on terms and, replacing the current agency arrangement.

  • The development of fully-funded training opportunities for employees who currently are non-LGV drivers so that in-house driver cover will replace the reliance on agency workers.


Happy Birthday Tami !

Fellow founder of Dolls4Jim Tami,is 30 today !!!!!


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Another Stroppy woman joins 'Team Stroppy'

Bit of a belated welcome as Cat has already introduced herself.

Some of you may know Cat from UK Left network, a place of refined and comradely debate ;-) Given Cat can hold her own over there, and of course stand up to the ego of the perma tanned one, I'm sure she will have no problems blogging and debating on Stroppyblog.

I can vouch that Cat is stroppy, in the nicest possible way, and someone I enjoyed spending a Sunday afternoon in Edinburgh having a drink or three with:-)

Welcome to Stroppyblog !!


Flooding - Back To The Future?

In the late nineteenth century, there was severe flooding in the east end of London. A poor, working-class, industrial, slum-ridden area, the result was catastrophic. And it was all the more catastrophic because the local private water company proved itself totally inadequate at dealing with the crisis and supplying clean water and sanitation.

The upshot of this was that the Metropolitan Water Board was formed to bring London's water supply into public ownership.

Anyone reckon that we are in a similar situation this summer and perhaps a similar response is required?

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