Chris Huhne on crime and punishment

February 3, 2012 at 9:09 pm (Champagne Charlie, crime, gloating, law, Lib Dems)

Wise words from a man who knows exactly what he’s talking about…

…and may soon be able to speak with even more authority on the subject.

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TUC march in Brum this Sunday

September 16, 2011 at 6:44 pm (Brum, Cuts, Jim D, Lib Dems, protest, unions, workers)

See you there?

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Quiz time! Steve Bell and Clive James

May 17, 2011 at 12:12 pm (David Cameron, Guardian, Jim D, Lib Dems, trivia)

Steve Bell's If ... 16/05/11

© Steve Bell

Another prize-less competition: what does Steve Bell, in the “If” episode above,  owe to Clive James?

Clue: the answer’s in C. Hitchens’s Hitch 22. You may NOT use Google…

 

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Flashman’s back!

May 14, 2011 at 10:09 am (Asshole, Champagne Charlie, class, David Cameron, Lib Dems, literature, Tory scum)

Ed Miliband’s recently- revived description of Cameron as “Flashman” is probably ill-advised, as Tony Parsons explains here. But it does give us a not-to-be-missed excuse to revisit the wonderful world of George MacDonald Fraser, the writer who returned to Thomas Hughes’s Rugby School bully and wrote up his later career as a fabulous imperialist cad, lecher, coward, fraud and cheat.

Flashman.jpg

In the following scene from the first Flashman book, he’s just bribed a foolish admirer, Bryant, to help him win a duel (over a woman of course) by making sure his opponent’s weapon wasn’t loaded. Flashman has promised to pay Bryant £10,000 for this treacherous act:

So, with Josette mine by right of conquest – and she was in some awe of me, I may say – and a reputation for courage, marksmanship, and downright decency established, I was pretty well satisfied. The only snag was Bryant, but I dealt with that easily.

When he had finished toadying me on the day of the duel, he got round to asking about his ten thousand – he knew I had great funds, or at least my father did, but I knew perfectly well I could never have pried ten thousand out of my gov’nor. I told Bryant so, and he gasped as though I had kicked him in the stomach.

“But you promised me ten thousand,” he began to bleat.

“Silly promise, ain’t it? – when you think hard about it,” says I. “Ten thousand quid, I mean – who’d pay out that much?”

“You lying swine!” shouts he, almost crying with rage. “You swore you’d pay me!”

“More fool you for believing me,” I said.

“Right, by God!” he snarled. “We’ll see about this! You won’t cheat me, Flashman, I’ll -“

“You’ll what?” says I. “Tell everyone about it? Confess that you sent a man into a duel with an unloaded gun? It’ll make an interesting story. You’d be confessing to a capital offence  –  had you thought of that? Not that anyone’d believe you  –  but they’d certainly kick you out of the service for conduct unbecoming, wouldn’t they?”

He saw then how it lay, and there was nothing he could do about it. He actually stamped and tore his hair, and then he tried pleading with me, but I laughed at him, and he finished up swearing to get even yet.

“You’ll live to regret this!” he cried. “By God, I’ll get you yet!”

“More chance of that then than you have of getting ten thousand anyway,” I told him and he slunk off.

He didn’t worry me; what I’d said was gospel true. He didn’t breath a word, for his own safety’s sake. Of course if he’d thought at all he would have sniffed something fishy about a ten thousand bribe in the first place. But he was greedy…

  • David Cameron and Nick Clegg 'body echo'

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Charlie Brooker on Clegg: “sad-eyed defender of the new reality”

May 11, 2011 at 1:18 am (comedy, Guardian, Jim D, Lib Dems, Tory scum, twat, wankers)

Cleggsy Bear shuffles on stage to say each unpleasant new announcement was the fairest decision taken in our lifetimes…

Pudsey Bear and Nick CleggAbove: Spot the difference . . . Pudsey Bear and Nick Clegg. Photograph: Rex Features/EPA

In these uncertain, unsettling times, with unpopular policies being implemented by a patchwork coalition of the damned, Nick Clegg is proving to be perhaps the most useful tool in the government’s shed. Not because he says or does anything particularly inspiring, but because he functions as a universal disappointment sponge for disenchanted voters. You stare at Nick Clegg and feel infinitely unhappy, scarcely noticing Cameron and co hiding behind him.

Governments around the world must be studying the coalition and working out how to get their own Clegg. He’s the coalition’s very own Pudsey Bear: a cuddly-but-tragic mascot representing the acceptable face of abuse. But unlike Pudsey, he actually speaks. Immediately following each unpleasant new announcement, Cleggsy Bear shuffles on stage to defend it, working his sad eyes and boyish face as he morosely explains why the decision was inevitable – and not just inevitable, but fair; in fact possibly the fairest, most reasonable decision to have been taken in our lifetimes, no matter how loudly people scream to the contrary.

Read the rest here

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Nick Clegg was claiming that the NHS reforms were the Lib Dems’ idea just three months ago

May 9, 2011 at 9:44 pm (Asshole, Cuts, health service, Jim D, Lib Dems, Tory scum)

From The Spectator’s “Coffee House” blog:

By James Forsyth

 …It is worth reminding ourselves of what Nick Clegg was saying about these (NHS) reforms back at the start of the year. On January 23rd, he went on the Andrew Marr show and had this exchange:

‘ANDREW MARR:

Huge change to the NHS just coming down the line. Was that in the Liberal Democrat manifesto?

NICK CLEGG:

Actually funnily enough it was. Indeed it was. We were one of the primary critics in opposition of what we felt was a top …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) I don’t remember you saying you were going to get rid of Primary Care Trusts and pass it down to GPs.

NICK CLEGG:

We certainly said we were going to get rid of Primary Care Trusts.’

If you read the whole transcript, you see that Clegg was fully signed up to the reforms. He even said that doctors “can’t look after the clinical well-being of a patient if at the same time your decisions don’t lead to financial consequences.”

In truth, both Cameron and Clegg have known what Lansley was planning for months. If Clegg wanted ‘substantial changes’ to the bill, why didn’t he ask for them months ago?

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Daniel Morgan, Jonathan Rees, David Cameron, and the anatomy of a murder

March 14, 2011 at 4:25 pm (BBC, crime, David Cameron, Guardian, Jim D, Lib Dems, media, the cops, Tory scum, truth)

On 10 March 1987  the body of a young private investigator called Daniel Morgan was found in the car park of a south London pub. An axe was embedded in his face.

Last week, a former business partner of Morgan’s, Jonathan Rees, together with two brothers, Glenn and Garry Vian, were aquitted at the Old Bailey after the case against the three was dropped by the CPS because the amount of paperwork involved meant that it could not be guaranteed that the defence had been able to see all the evidence before the trial started. A fourth man, Jimmy Cook, had been cleared at an earlier hearing and Sid Fillery, a former police detective from Catford, had been cleared of attempting to pervert the course of justice. Rees and the Vians have previous convictions for serious offences. Rees served seven years from December 2000 for planting drugs on an innocent woman he was trying to frame. On his release, he was immediately re-engaged by his previous client, the News Of The World.

An employee of Morgan’s and Rees’s firm, Southern Investigations, said in evidence 23 years ago that a business contact had talked of wanting Morgan dead and that his police contacts at Catford would help bring this about.

We shall never know who murdered Daniel Morgan, in the same way that we’ll never know who killed Stephen Lawrence. But note the names above,  just for the record.

As with the Lawrence case, there are questions about the role of the police. Rees had been paying a network of corrupt cops who sold him information.  There have been five police investigations into the Morgan murder, the first of which is now admitted by the cops themselves to have been obstructed by police corruption. The collapse of the case last week seems to have been due to a genuine cock-up by the new team who investigated the case and by the CPS, rather than corruption. But after the series police of cover-ups that have dogged this case, one has to be a bit cynical about that.

After the collapse of the case an honest cop, Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell,  expressed his personal feelings to the Morgan family, describing the outcome as “wholly regrettable.”  He went on: “This current investigation has identified, ever more clearly, how the initial inquiry failed the family and the wider public. It was quite apparent that police corruption was a debilitating factor in that investigation…Significant changes have occurred since that time; nevertheless, there are important issues which we need to examine in order to understand what led to today’s decision.”

The only newspaper to have given this case extensive coverage has been the Guardian (from which most of the information in this piece has been obtained). The Murdoch press has largely ignored it, which is, perhaps not surprising: the main customer of the information that Rees obtained by bribing cops and hacking into phones was the News Of The World (though the Mirror also paid him for information).

Acting Deputy Commissioner John Yates has some explaining to do: he assured Parliament that the phone-hacking scandal was limited to Clive Goodman (former NOTW royal correspondent) and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, both of whom were jailed in 2007. He also stated that hacking phone messages was only illegal if the recipient had not yet listened to them (!). Chris Bryant, MP for Rhondda, has accused Yates of misleading two parliamentary select committees on the phone-hacking issue. Now, the director of public prosecutions has written to the Guardian, accusing Yates of misrepresenting him in attempting to justify the evidence he gave the select committees.

But if Yates has some explaining to do, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have even more: this time-line shows that Andy Coulson (until recently, Cameron’s communications director) must have known about Rees’s activities when he was Deputy Editor and then Editor of the NOTW – and that Cameron must have known this when he gave Coulson his job with the Tories and the coaltion government. Clegg must have known about the prosecution of Rees and its implications when he signed up to Cameron’s coalition.

The whole business stinks of Murdoch criminality, police corruption and Tory/Lib-Dem complicity. There will be more revelations tonight at 8.30 on BBC 1’s Panorama.

Meanwhile the killers of Daniel Morgan and their police friends have gone free, while his family are left to grieve. Morgan’s brother Alistair told the Guardian“It was obvious my brother was going to blow the lid off the links between the police and criminals.”

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AV: the campaign catches fire!

February 19, 2011 at 12:53 am (Champagne Charlie, David Cameron, democracy, Lib Dems, trivia)

The electorate can scarcely contain themselves on the burning issue of the day:

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Against Wilful Stupidity

December 21, 2010 at 8:19 pm (anonymous, Lib Dems, Max Dunbar, students, Tory scum)

How amazing is Marko Attila Hoare. He’s even right about nine-grand tuition fees. His post is not just a takedown of the policy but an attack on anti-intellectualism in general: on a culture that equates stupidity with integrity, and intelligence and creativity with naivety and pretension. Read the whole thing.

As a child studying at Holland Park Comprehensive School in London in the 1980s, I naively believed that hard work and talent should be rewarded, and that a university education would be my reward for studying hard. I was one of those who actually worked at school and did my homework. And it wasn’t always easy, with classes constantly being disrupted by loudmouthed morons who despised education, viewed school as oppression and teachers as the enemy. They dossed around for five years and left school with minimal or no qualifications, after having made the learning experience as difficult as possible for the rest of us. So difficult was it to work in such an environment, that I found I could study more in one hour of poorly attended optional after-school maths class – where there was no noise and disruption – than in three hours of regular classes.

Welcome to England: the European nation that most despises schools, universities, teachers and students, and that most celebrates stupidity and vulgarity. As encapsulated in the moron’s refrain to the student  – ‘I’d rather have a degree from the university of life’. The subtext being that education corrupts and divorces students from the real world, and that there is a greater nobility in ignorance, prejudice and underachievement. The binge-drinking yobs and football hooligans are the ones with the real integrity, not the poncey students with their poncey books.

How, you may ask, did a nation that thinks like this produce some of the world’s greatest institutions of learning, including the world famous Cambridge and Oxford, but also excellent universities and colleges like Imperial College, York, the London School of Economics, Warwick and others ? In fact, it’s a question of two sides of the same coin. There was a traditional belief that university education should be the preserve of the privileged few, while the masses should have no access to it. Unjust as it was, this system did at least have the merit of producing treasures like Cambridge and Oxford. A more enlightened ruling class would have sought to preserve this treasure and maximise the chances of students from all social backgrounds of benefiting from it.

Instead, for the last twenty years or so, our politicians – both Labour and Conservative – seem to have been following an inverted form of Flaubert’s dictum, and to believe that the point of democracy is to lower the ruling class to the level of stupidity attained by the masses.

There are two strong points here.

1) Most people don’t mind funding public services that they may never or rarely need – for example, people are happy to fund the NHS through tax even though they may never get sick, to fund the police even though they may never be the victim of a crime, even to fund welfare though they may never be out of work. The same should apply for higher education.

2) If you consider yourself leftwing, the indulgence of philistinism is a bad move – even if it’s wrapped in prolier-than-thou rhetoric.

Also check out Marko’s report on a recent demo, and watch in disgust as he lifts the Daily Mail rock.

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Students and London Underground Workers: Statement of Mutual Solidarity

December 9, 2010 at 10:55 pm (class, Education, Jim D, Lib Dems, students, Tory scum, unions, workers, youth)

Submitted by Janine 

We the undersigned representatives of student campaigners and London Underground workers wish to publicly state our support for each others’ current struggles against funding cuts, tuition fees and Tube staffing cuts.

We are fighting to defend two essential public services – education and transport – which we believe should be publicly-provided, fully funded and accessible to all. Both services face intense attack under a government hellbent on vicious public sector cuts.

Students, together with other public transport users, believe that Tube stations should have enough staff for us to travel easily and safely around the capital. London Underground workers support the principle of access for all to further and higher education, and know that many working-class people – including our own kids – will be unable to attend university or college if to do so means taking on a massive debt.

London Underground workers have now taken four days of strike action against the loss of 800 jobs, mainly on stations, as well as other industrial action. Students have repeatedly protested against cuts and fees, walking out of schools and colleges, demonstrating in huge numbers, and occupying universities. Both groups know that if we do not defeat this round of attacks, there will be more to come.

As we fight these cuts, we take inspiration from knowing we are not the only ones taking action. We encourage students and Underground workers to send each other messages of support, and to visit and support each others’ pickets and protests.

In particular, we encourage everyone to attend:
– protest against cuts and fees, Thursday 9 December (the day of the vote in Parliament), assemble 12:00 at ULU, Malet Street – rally at 15:00, Victoria Embankment
– protest against London Underground job cuts, Wednesday 15 December, 09:30, City Hall (as Mayor’s Question Time takes place)

Signatories:

  • Janine Booth, Secretary, RMT London Transport Regional Council
  • Steve Hedley, RMT London Transport Regional Organiser
  • Simon Hardy, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts
  • Joana Pinto, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts
  • Manuel Cortes, Assistant General Secretary, TSSA
  • Michael Chessum, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts
  • Fliss Premru, Vice Chair TSSA TfL Central
  • Ed Maltby, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts
  • Vaughan Thomas, President, RMT London Transport Regional Council
  • Adrian Rowe, Chairperson, RMT National Young Members’ Committee
  • Shelly Asquith, Uni of the Arts London student, London Young Labour Executive
  • Brian Munro, Secretary, RMT Bakerloo branch
  • Bob Sutton, Merseyside Network Against Fees and Cuts
  • Malcolm Taylor, RMT Staff Side Secretary, London Underground Stations and Revenue Council
  • Owen Jones, Labour Representation Committee / UCL Occupation
  • Brian Whitehead, Relief Regional Organiser, RMT
  • Mac McKenna, RMT rep, London Underground Stations & Revenue Council
  • Sean Rillo Raczka, Chair, Birkbeck Students’ Union; NUS NEC Mature Students’ Rep
  • Paul Rutland, Chair RMT TfL No.1 Branch
  • Chrissie Burrell, TSSA industrial/leaner rep, London Underground
  • Sofie Buckland, University College London
  • Stephen Read, RMT health and safety representative, Bank stations group
  • Oisin Wall, PhD student
  • Gary Lazell, RMT rep, East Ham stations group
  • Simon Hewitt, member of NUS and UCU
  • Clare Reilly, RMT rep, East Ham stations group
  • Adrian Finney, Chairperson, RMT Stratford no.1 branch
  • Gemma Wisdom, Social Welfare Course Rep, Worcester University
  • Mick Crossey, RMT rep, London Underground Stations & Revenue Council
  • Liat Norris, Chair, Staffordshire University Socialist Students
  • Daniel Randall, National Campaign Against Fees & Cuts and former NUS NEC member

To add your name, please e-mail Janine.

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