Wednesday, 9 September 2009
Monday, 27 July 2009
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
Sunday, 12 July 2009
Below, you can read an email from our local NEC contact regarding the 'fall out' following the European and Local elections - some interesting points are raised.
First, thanks to councillors, MEPs, candidates, activists, members
and fellow-travellers for campaigning right through to 4 June in
the face of difficulties beyond your control and which you did not
I’ve received several requests for an extra NEC meeting to
analyse the results, and to ensure that all members are involved
in future policy-making and that the manifesto reflects Labour
This has not proved possible. In fact the original plan was to
postpone the May NEC meeting to June, but a date could not be
found which fitted with union conferences and other
commitments. So the NEC will meet next on Tuesday 21 July for
a full day, to allow extended discussion. This gives time to collect
feedback, and I would be interested in:
1) reasons for Labour losses, both local and European, and
reasons for any good results against the overall trend
2) what the party leadership can do to rebuild towards the
general election, organisationally and politically
3) how members’ views can be taken into account in policy-
making. The national policy forum “Warwick” agreement dates
back to last July, before the recession, and needs reviewing, but
time and resources do not allow another full-scale forum with
thousands of direct amendments. Are members and local parties
happy to work through their NPF representatives, and if not, what
is the alternative within the Partnership in Power framework?
4) what policies represent “Labour values”?
5) whether conference should return to resolutions or stay with
the experiment on “contemporary issues” introduced in 2007
6) anything else I should know.
Second, a number of questions have been asked about the
NEC’s special endorsements panel (the “star chamber”). One of
the problems is that the panel cannot decide who it wishes to
interview. It only investigates MPs referred to it by the chief whip
and the general secretary, and then has to decide whether they
have crossed lines drawn by the Green Book or by what members
and voters would expect. However the criteria for referral are not
clear, and this has led to perceptions of unequal treatment at the
initial stage, which I share.
The national audit office is examining all MPs' expenses for the
last four years, and we expect their report to provide objective
benchmarks, and perhaps lists of "flippers", extravagant
spenders, tax avoiders, and other types of misdemeanour. I
believe it would be preferable, except in extreme cases, for MPs
to come through this process, so that their situation is considered
alongside others where similar issues are involved.
The NEC will be reviewing the process, but conflicting views have
been expressed to me recently. Members want wrongdoers dealt
with through clear evidence-based decisions, which means
waiting for the audit report and further interviews. But they also
want a speedy conclusion so we can get back to policy, which
means either ignoring some transgressions or risking summary
injustice. Again, comments are welcome.
Depending on the number of replies I may not have time to
answer every point individually, but promise to read and take
them all into account for the next NEC.
NEC constituency representative
It was a great opportunity to meet other local activists, and reminded me how important our efforts are in helping to stop the BNP at a local and national level.
Following the main discussion we split into groups to discuss local activism, and I'm delighted to report that I came away feeling enthused and ready for the hard work ahead. I will now be organising activities in my local area,(North Worcestershire), and will do all I can to help out in Birmingham.
Some really great ideas came out of the discussion. I will be working hard, not only to involve the local political parties in my area, but also community groups, students, trade union members and members of the various faith based communities.
We will be organising social events, trying to recruit new helpers and organisers, and looking to mobilise support as and when needed.
This is just the start. We have a huge fight ahead of us; the BNP will be feeling confident after the European elections, and we must do all we can to put a stop to their growth. This is much bigger than party politics - we're talking about the very future of our great country. All that we love and hold dear is at threat if we don't get together and act now - those who still hold the view that the problem is not real need to wake up now before it's too late.
So, how to get involved? If you live in the Birmingham area look out for local events; many of these will probably be organised in some way by Claire Spencer, (@thedancingflea - if you're on Twitter). Claire is an excellent organiser, and I'm sure that things in Birmingham will really move forward due to her hard work. If you live in Worcestershire and want to get involved, please get in touch with me - either leave me a comment, or email me at email@example.com .
Things came to a head a few weeks ago when I almost cancelled my party membership - this has only happened once before, at the start of the Iraq war; and at that time I did in fact leave the party for a year.
Now, before anyone thinks that I might have fallen into bed with one of the other parties, let me assure you, this would never happen.
The core principles of Socialism run through me like the blood in my veins or the marrow in my bones - they are key to who I am as a person, and to how I live my life.
Like any long term relationship, there can be rough times. Times when you lose faith, times when you really wish you could just walk away.
Times when you feel powerless and ignored.
This has been my main problem. The feeling that the ‘powers that be’ disregard the views of those very people who allow them to be in office in the first place. The feeling that no matter what we say or do the heart and soul of the party will be ignored.
I honestly don’t know what to think anymore. Until very recently I would have told you that the prospect of removing Brown at this stage would be crazy. It would force us to call the general election early, which would in effect be suicide.
Now I’m not so sure.
Looking at 2010, what can we really hope for? Can win the general election? Well, in my heart I would still maintain yes; however, my head tells me something different; something I have no wish to even contemplate at this stage.
Yet, I’m still a member of Labour. In spite of all the disappointment, the broken promises, the lack of communication and weakness - I will not walk away this time. Now, more then ever we must unite as a party, as a movement for change and for good - which is what, in my heart I believe we are.
We must be strong, toughen up. Expose the Tories for what they are, opportunist and without policy. We must build on our success and put right our mistakes.
Effective leadership must come from the top; however, now is the time for us to take our party back. For all those hardworking activists to be listened to and appreciated for the hard work they carry out. Most importantly we must listen to the public; people are angry, worried about their jobs and the future for their families and friends. Our key objective must be to regain the trust of the general public, and that includes our core base of voters - the ones who now prefer to stay at home when elections take place.
We have so much to be proud of - the NHS and Minimum Wage to name but two. Now is the time to start fighting for our countries future. It would be a disaster for the UK if the Tories were to win in 2010; I for one don’t want Cameron to be our PM, and for that alone we must do all we can to ensure that doesn’t ever happen...
Saturday, 6 June 2009
I am delighted to report that the BNP were defeated on this occasion, with the Tory candidate, Mr Ahmed winning the seat. As such, a big thank you must go out to the clear majority of local residents who chose to reject the hate filled policies of the BNP.
One must still call into question however the three hundred residents who did vote BNP. Many of these, I’m sure were taken in by the BNP advertising campaign, as well as the ineffective campaigning from the other parties. It just goes to show that even after this one small local victory, there is still a lot of work in the community to do in order to change hearts and minds.
On a personal note, I took it upon myself to conduct what amounted to a one man door step campaign on behalf of Hope not Hate, and in the space of several weeks managed to deliver over two thousand leaflets. I hope that in some way the public took note of the real danger that the BNP represent, and if so, it makes the sunburn and aching feet all the more worth it!
All that awaits now are the European Election results on Sunday………
BTW: As mentioned above, the BNP recieved 300 votes - Labour only recieved 225, putting them in last place in that particular ward.
Thursday, 21 May 2009
As you will see from a previous post last week, they have decided to stand in a ward that just happens to have an Asian candidate.
Cynical move to target ward
I was disappointed to read in the the Shuttle that the BNP intend to field a candidate in the forthcoming local elections.
The shameless way in which the BNP have targeted this ward is beyond belief – to parachute their candidate in against the only local candidate of Asian decent, (the Tory candidate Mr Ahmed), is not only shocking, but also cynical to the highest degree.
I feel that I must also mention the comments provided by the BNP spokesman , Simon Darby. I am disappointed that you decided to print such inflammatory comments as part of the article.
Darby has a history of provocation, and I would hope that the people of Kidderminster are not fooled by this man, or his party.
It is now time for all the other main political parties, (and members of the public), in the area to unite and fight against the threat that the BNP pose to democracy and the future of our communities, town, county and country.
Tim Phillips-White, Kidderminster
I am pleased to say that they have published the letter in this weeks edition.
However, this still does not excuse the non-removal of BNP adverts from the online editions of their publications,(including the Kidderminster Shuttle). After increased pressure earlier this week, Newsquest did remove the offending items, but only it seems for twenty four hours. They have now returned.
For my part, I will be contacting Newsquest again today, to again ask for the averts to be removed once and for all.
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
Whilst this has been a dreadful few weeks for democracy and our political system as a whole, being known as a Labour party member has been something akin to being involved in animal torture. The ridicule, the scorn and disgust - directed both at the party and at myself for being stupid enough to support Brown and his rapidly sinking rowing boat.
Why, in that case do I still support the party? Why, when I really feel that I've had enough do I carry on regardless?
The only real answer to this is quite simple really....
I do not support New Labour. I am not a member of New Labour.
I am a very proud member of the Labour Party. Always have been, always will be.
I believe in equality for all. Opportunity for the many and not the few. I believe in a welfare state that lends a helping hand to those most vulnerable in society, including our greatest achievement - the National Health Service.
New Labour is dead. I mean really dead, rotting, causing one hell of a stink and classed as a great danger to public health.
In spite of all the turmoil, anger and tribulations - this can only be a good thing for all of us on the progressive left of the party. This may sound churlish twelve years later, but the fact is, voting for Blair was the lesser of two evils. Many of us were so happy to finally have a Labour Government that we'd probably have even supported James Purnell if we'd had too.
Blair and his colleagues began to strip away the heart and soul of the party - quite deliberately. They tool a calculated risk that even disaffected Labour voters had no where else to go, and at the same time won over the floating voters of middle England who were sick of Major and Tory sleaze.
What Blair did is unforgivable - he changed the party to such a degree, that here, today in 2009, it is almost unrecognisable to a large section of society. They betrayed the heart and soul of the party, stripped away the very essence that made us proud to be involved with the party in the first place.
Here, twelve years later we see the result, we are unelectable, our leader and Prime Minister appears to lost all authority over his ministers and MPs,he appears weak, and spends far too much time dithering over decisions where quick,decisive action is required.
There are dark days ahead for us, make no mistake.
Should we change leader at this stage? Until this week, I would have answered no to that question. To change leader at this stage would mean calling a general election shortly after. There would be only one outcome to this - slaughter. The party would be destroyed, and Cameron would be handed an election victory based not on the strength of his own policies, but on the public hatred and disgust at Labour.
Twelve months on, we may still suffer a very heavy defeat, however I don't believe that things would be quite as disastrous as the result of an early election.
So, do we stick with Brown, in the vain hope that he can regain his moral authority over the cabinet and the PLP. Or, do we call on Alan Johnson to save us? In all honesty, at this moment in time I really don't know the answer to that question.
Thursday, 14 May 2009
I found out today,via a screaming front-page headline in our local paper, that a BNP candidate would be standing for election to Worcestershire County Council. I don't want the BNP in my town, I hate the idea that a district of Kidderminster will be represented by Tony Gervis and his fascist cronies.
As I mentioned before, this has made the front page of our local paper, the Kidderminster Shuttle, who even managed to get a few words from Simon Darby on the subject - honestly, how this man sleeps at night I don't know?
Take this as an example:
"We don't want immigration to turn Kidderminster into a place like Handsworth or Lozells in Birmingham. What About English people and their rights?"
I should point out at this moment that the population of Kidderminster and it's surrounding areas are probably 98% white British. This is bullshit of the highest order from Darby, and whilst I'm not surprised, I am disgusted by the very fact that he's even been in the area recently.
Now, all this is bad enough, it really is. Until that is you take a look to see which ward Gervis will be contesting, and more importantly, who the opposition is.
This is where the BNP really come into their own. We have one Asian candidate in the area, Mr Mumshad Ahmed, from the Conservatives, and it wouldn't take a genius to work out where the BNP candidate has been parachuted into. As I said, this shouldn't come as a great surprise, these are quite normal tactics from the BNP; however, this shouldn't detract from how despicable these tactics are,not withstanding the fact the their candidate lives at least twenty miles from Kidderminster.
The time for action in Kidderminster is now. The BNP can not be allowed to gain a foothold in this area, something that frightens me the most.
I have began to speak to the other local parties - unity now is more important than ever, and I'm hopeful that I can persuade the other candidates to provide a united front on this one subject.
This Saturday, I will be taking part in a HOPE not hate day of action in Worcester -I'm hopeful that some of those involved can be persuaded to join my fight in Kidderminster to rid the town of people such as Darby and Gervis.
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
Below, you will the third and final email, in it's full glory:
On Fri, May 1, 2009 at 3:24 PM, bob
> I have sent you just a few emails and I have received numerous replies.
> The BNP lists were leaked by people like yourself and those on that list received harassment and death threats. Some people were physically attacked. A lot were elderly people. You seek to dehumanise us but most of us are actually Ex Labour activists and supporters and left leaning. We are neither fundamentalists or Extremists when compared to the wreckers of this country and the war mongers.
> Put yourself in my shoes. I have your email addresses and more. Do you see the irony of it all coming full circle. Is it not time to repent for your sinful ways and turn your back on doing the dirty work of the state.
So, is this just pathetic attempt to put the wind up a thirty five year old part time activist, or should I be worried about this at all? To be honest, my first natural reaction is fucking anger - how fucking dare they send me shit like this!
I've yet to decide how to reply - any ideas?!
Friday, 1 May 2009
Take today's email for example: Reasons to Vote BNP and Muslims Hate Gays - yet another tour de force of lies and bullshit.
Once again, this shows the subversive and desperate measures that the BNP will take in order to obtain votes at the expense of the disillusioned voter.
This extract from the email is a good example:
The Anti-Democratic organisation Searchlight is ordering the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community not to vote for the BNP through its front group "Hope Not Hate".
This follows Harriet Harman's venom filled interview with PinkNews.co.uk, she said: "the BNP are homophobic and reactionary", amongst the usual smears. This is the same woman who once favoured making sexually explicit child porn photos or films legal — as long as the kids were not harmed.
She also wanted the age of consent lowered to 14 and incest to be decriminalised.
Further proof that we must all stand together to defeat the BNP.
For more information on the excellent Searchlight campaign - HOPE not hate, please see the web address below. Their site will provide you with information with regards to activities in your local area.
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
I think it was just about clear to everyone just how out of step the Governments plans were amongst the other parties, and more importantly, throughout the country.
Congratulations to Nick Clegg - he made his point well during PMQ's - leaving Gordon the defend the indefensible. A word also for Martin Salter - a true hero.
This time last year I posted a blog commenting on how the main political parties were being far too complacent in their handling of the BNP. For a long time it has seemed all too easy to ignore them, or treat them as a minor annoyance. Twelve months later, here we are facing the very real prospect of the BNP gaining seats at the Euro elections in June; a risk that we have to all take very seriously.
Now, more then ever, the time has now arrived for unity amongst our three major parties. This has to happen at national and at a local level; there needs to be a clear agreement as to the best way to confront this problem head on, and in Labour's case, on how to reconnect with a section of our local support who now feel more aligned to the BNP and their dressed up policies.
The old ways of protest no longer work, no amount of shouting or banner waving is going to seriously damage their chances next month or beyond. The second part of the answer remains at grass root level, we need to be out there, on the doorsteps challenging the BNP's policies at each and every opportunity,showing people the truth behind the spin, and more importantly, reconnecting with the white, working class vote before we lose them for good.
The problem is real and growing, the challenge is there. We must all face this head on, work together, and hopefully make some real progress in our communities and the country as a whole.
Just imagine the prospect of BNP Euro MP's....
Tuesday, 28 April 2009
It's always nice when you have look at your emails to discover that some idiot from the BNP has come across your email address. I would therefore like to thank 'Bob' from the BNP in London for sending me a load of racist bullshit to read today, one of which was entitled "The Media and Global Jihad" - a most interesting read.
Anyway, I thought it would be the polite thing to do to reply to him, so I have. Oh, and here are his contact details, just in case you feel like saying 'hello'....;.
dateTue, Apr 28, 2009 at 11:50 AM
subjectThe Media and Global Jihad
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Sly & The Family Stone: There's A Riot Going On
Try to imagine the most fucked up, off its head album that you can? If you multiply that thought by about a hundred the answer you'll get is There's A Riot Going On; the 1971 album by Sly & The Family Stone.
By 1970, the band should have been at their creative and commercial peak. A run of top selling albums and singles had been topped off with a performance at the Woodstock music festival. However, things were far from good; the band had been missing performances and Sly was slipping into drug problems of epic proportions.
On top of that, their new album was taking forever to record.
The majority of the album was being recorded at Sly's rented LA mansion. His home had become like your worst nightmare; full of friends, hangers on, drug dealers, drug addicts, armed bodyguards and several pets. These included a vicious pit-bull and, for some reason, a baboon.
Recording sessions went on and on. Sly, often working for days on end without sleep; kept awake by a cocktail of cocaine and PCP. The bands record label, Epic had no idea what was going on at the house; recording costs increased and the release date was put back time and time again. Even the bands manager had no control over Sly; who by this stage had become a law unto himself.
People involved with the making of this record are not even certain if their contributions are included on the finished recording. If you look at some of the people possibly involved however, its amazing. At some point, Miles Davis, Billy Preston and Bobby Womack were involved, although its almost impossible to tell where. Billy Preston however, was almost certainly responsible for the electric piano parts on Family Affair.
We talk these days about Lo-Fi albums; recorded work that has a rough, recorded at home feel to it. This was the original Lo-Fi album. The songs sound raw and the sound quality at times is really poor. Don't think that this was on purpose however. The only reason the recordings have this quality to them is because the tapes were almost worn out due to the amount of re-recording and overdubbing that took place in the studio. One story recalls how Sly would get various girls to sleep with him on the basis that they could sing backing vocals on the album. This would take place and when they'd left and Sly had had his way, he would wipe the vocal tracks and start again.
I think this album is amazing. Compared to the bands earlier work, its a very dark, bleak recording. If you compare it to the other major release of 1971; the seminal Whats Going On by Marvin Gaye, you can see how these two albums are the polar opposites of each other.
Gaye's album shows concern for the environment, war and the people affected by the fall out of Vietnam. But most of all it does carry a positive message of hope and faith in God. The Family Stones album is down in the gutter; its the 1970's and life looks bad. Too many problems, not enough time, and no solutions.
This is a late night album; one which sounds best at three in the morning when you cant sleep and the world seems against you. Its very easy to sink into the tracks on this album, to become part of them, letting them envelop you - proper headphones music.
This album contains some key Family Stone tracks, Family Affair, Runnin' Away and (You Caught Me) Smilin' amongst them. I love the whole album, in Slys hands, warm funk rhythms become a vehicle for regret and despair. The first four tracks on this album, (Family Affair included), Luv' N' Haight, Just Like A Baby and Poet are just incredible; lyrically and musically.
If you've not listened to this before - get it. You need this album
Worcestershire, May 1991: I'm stuck at home revising for my A-Levels. God its boring, summers just started to arrive, and I'd rather be anywhere then here in my bedroom, surrounded by history and economics text books.
Most of my mates have left school already, and are probably making the most of the weather getting pissed down at the local on cheap beer. Not me though, I've got to stay here for the time being; working and feeling sorry for myself. I really want to get this all over with; finish school and get to my eighteenth birthday in July, then I'll be free of all this unbelievably tedious shit
Home, July 2006: Thinking back, 91' was such a great year for music for me personally, (leaving out the start and demise of my ill-fated band - think New Order / Happy Mondays with Birmingham accents). Two of my all time favourite albums had been released that year 'Blue Lines' by 'Massive Attack' and 'Road to Freedom' by The Young Disciples. Both releases radically changed the way I looked at, and thought about music.
So,lets go back to 1991. Probably looking for an excuse not to do any work one day I was flicking through a copy of Melody Maker. As usual, I was casting my eye over the singles reviews for that week; in doing so, one in particular catches my eye; a new release by some band from London called Saint Etienne. The single was called 'Nothing Can Stop Us'.
Being the 'big fish' musically amongst my group of friends, I'd always thought that I was clued up when it came to new bands and new releases; but I knew nothing about Saint Etienne - had never heard of them before.
The review made the record sound incredible; over the intervening years I must have damaged a few brain cells, but I can still just about remember general gist of things. The reviewer mentioned that the record felt like the first day of summer; the first really warm day of the year, when the leaves are out, the birds are singing away and you can take your school jumper off and wrap it around your waist. More importantly anything could happen..
This review captured my imagination so much - sure the sun was indeed shining outside and the birds were singing; but I was trapped inside revising. I wanted to know what this record felt like. More importantly, I wanted to see if the review was in fact correct, or if he'd been talking a load of old shit.
As I often did back in those days, (before the wonder of the internet), I caught the bus into down and purchased a copy from the local Our Price; I'm still amazed that they actually had it in the first place.
The cover gave little away, (God, I LOVE reading record covers!!), except for a gorgeous photo of the singer Sarah Cracknell on the back, (you can imagine what a seventeen year old thought about that). It was always, (still is), so exciting buying new records; jumping off the bus and walking home as quick as I could, running straight up the stairs to my bedroom to play this latest gem - almost quite ritualistic in a way.
I had no idea what to expect, none at all - and then I heard it for the first time.
By St Enids toenail what a record!!!!! The Northern Soul bass and drums, the magical guitar stabs, all topped off with Sarah Cracknell's wrap around, gooey vocals..
The review was so right, this record sounded almost perfect to me; despite the 60s soul references, the record sounded so new, clean and modern. The main thing however was that it planted a massive smile on my face - its still there fifteen years later as I sit here listening to the record again whilst writing this.
A great record should make you feel something; make you giddy, feel drunk or high; make the blood rush to your head. A great record should make you want to dance, sing, fall in love, kiss someone - it should make ANYTHING seem possible.
That record was aptly named, because it made me feel all of those things back then; and it still does now
They could have left it there; just released that one, perfect record. That would have been enough; of course though, they've released stacks of great records in the years since then.
Saturday, 14 March 2009
Not only that, but the state of mind of one or two of my small band of ‘followers’ has started to not only concern me, but frankly has me tearing my hair out.
Don’t get me wrong, Twitter can be fun, it can be distracting and quite amusing at times; but there are some disturbed maniacs out there who take the whole thing way too seriously. Have we really come to a point in 2009 where people consider strangers on Twitter to be their real life ‘friends’?
I’ve come across some odd behaviour this week, what can only be described as stalking, I swear, some people must spend all day on there – and I feel bad for spending the odd hour here and there…. Then there are the people who are so obsessed with every living moment of every Z List celebrity; spending their time practically begging to be followed. I’m not in any position to judge another persons behaviour, but come on, for fucks sake, get a fucking life…Or at least a fraction of one.
Conclusion - keep away from Twitter!!
Oh, and why the fuck is Bill Oddie following me!!??
Thursday, 12 March 2009
So, the gloves are now off, new blogs will follow and heads will roll!
In saying that, even though I've got a lot to get off me big old chest at the moment, I will be posting a lot more music based stuff and a lot less political guff...
This is just a quick 'hello' - I will be back very soon...
Oh, and Happy 40th Birthday to Mr Graham Coxon.....