PR man's ballad

As noone reads this blog, I feel quite comfortable posting this. This isn't how I feel at the moment, but if I continue as I am, I could see me feeling like this in the future.

PR man's ballad
(with thanks to George Orwell)

We are the dead,
The faceless army that crowds,
Onto the number eleven bus.

To spend ten hours,
Bent to out desks in the office,
Calling for meetings and faxes.

We work away,
Waiting for the weekend,
Which we waste by the TV.

Unless we have,
To cancel our drunken plans,
Because this work's for Monday.

Monday we return,
To type up meaningless notes,
Onto the computer screen.

Time off in lieu,
When everyone else is at work,
We wander the streets of London town.

The time we have,
To ourselves we spend asleep,
Or recovering by drinking and smoking.

We do not visit,
The galleries or the theatre or,
Even walk through London Fields.

Our holidays when,
They finally come are called
Leave, and have to be approved.

We spend them asleep,
Recharging for the return to work,
And never having time to be alive.

Now we retire,
After spending so long at work,
That we can't think what to do.

We are the dead,
Our hearts, our minds, what's left,
Of our strength on the banks of the Thames.


BNP election candidate faces explosives charge

The AP reports via the Guardian:
A British National party election candidate and a dentist appeared in court yesterday accused of possessing an explosive substance. Robert Cottage, 49, of Colne, Lancashire, and David Jackson, 62, of Nelson, Lancashire, were charged under the Explosive Substances Act after chemical components were allegedly found at Mr Cottage's house. Mr Cottage stood for the BNP in this year's local elections in Colne. Both were remanded in custody at Preston crown court. No application for bail was made and the case was adjourned until January 15. A provisional trial date has been set for February 12 in Manchester.



Mozilla 2.0

Mozilla have released Firefox 2.0. Take back the web at



The Pavements of Sutton

I meant to post this letter a few days ago, but only just found it again. I came across it in a local paper, the Tamworth Herald.
Stop Paving Madness

I think it is time the council did something about the colours of the pavement slabs in Sutton.

The situation has been going on for several years now and I believe it is time we put a firm stop to it. It is atrocious that the paving slabs on our streets are all various colours, instead of, say, a uniform grey.

Walking to the shops last week, I noted that the slabs of the pavement on my road were grey, white and terracotta - three different colours on just one street! And, might I add, several of the slabs themselves were cracked, a sure sign of shoddy workmanship.

And to Tessa Miller, who wrote in last week claiming that people who write in pointing out these problems are 'moaners', let me assure you it is people like us 'moaners' who ensure this town is running smoothly.

I wonder if the Tamworth Herald published this in the hope of a campaign to "Keep Our Town Grey" or just to take the piss out of Disgusted of Boldmere. I'm sure this person intends to be community-minded, but the colour of paving stones really doesn't matter compared to other problems that need looking at - when every council house is up to scratch, we can talk about ripping up paving stones. Hell, they could do some voluntary work.

I wonder if the writer has ever complained, though, about high taxes...



Further advice on crisis management


Romania and Bulgaria

Former CPGB member John Reid has announced his five-year plan (actually, I think it's a seven-year plan) for immigration from Romania and Bulgaria when they join the European Union.

Something like 600,000 Poles have come to the UK since their state acceeded to the EU. They were able to go to only three of the existing members (and are, until the seven year period expires, second class citizens); the UK, Eire and the other one that I've forgotten. If the 600,000 were spread out across the EU, the effect would be rather less. The UK has more or less managed without any serious problems the arrival (albeit on a temporary basis) of quite a lot of people.

I cannot help but feel that encouraging the other EU members to adopt a similar policy would be rather better than throwing up these restrictions. Bulgarians are more likely to go to Spain (I've met a few there over the years that I've worked there) and Romanian is pretty close to Spanish, Portuguese and Italian (ROMANian is a giveaway as to where they're from; they used to be the Dacians).

I don't like gesturing to the readership of the Daily Mail; it pushes them to outright racism when discussing Islam, for starters. We end up going from the 'protecting British jobs' line to yours truly always having to say how patriotic he is even though I consider someone in Romania to be the equal of someone in the UK or anywhere else.



Diversity YES Intolerance NO

The Party of European Socialists is running an online declaration that anyone can sign as part of its Diversity YES Intolerance NO campaign.

From the declaration:
We are appalled by the rise of the far right across Europe
– and the racism, homophobia and hatred that spread with it! There is a real
risk that the lunatic fringe will enter the political mainstream - unless we act
decisively. But we are not frightened to stand up for diversity and tolerance.
We will defend our values, and we invite you to join us in saying YES to
diversity and NO to intolerance.

Let us make our voice heard - right across

Diversity YES - Intolerance NO

Our different peoples are what make Europe such a special
place. The PES strongly believes that Europe’s success is built on respect for
our diversity.

The PES is convinced that the peaceful cooperation that is
symbolized by the European Union has no future if intolerance and hatred are
allowed to grow in our midst.

We call on all democratic parties - and their European
political families - to reject all forms of intolerance and hatred. Everyone has
the right to live in dignity and to be treated with full respect regardless of
their nationality, ethnic origin, race, gender, sexual orientation or

We call on all democratic parties - and their European
political families - to refrain from any alliance or cooperation with any
political party that promotes intolerance.

We urge all democratic parties to ensure that their social
and economic policies do not generate the social insecurities and tensions that
flame the fires of intolerance and hatred.

You can sign at the PES website.



Clare Short resigns Labour whip

"Clare Short, the Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood since 1983, has announced that she has resigned the Labour whip and will sit in the Commons as an independent for the remainder of this Parliament.

"Since resigning as International Development secretary in 2003 – in opposition to the Labour party’s stance on the Iraq War – Ms Short has consistently criticised the Labour leadership and the direction of the party. Last month, announcing her decision not to stand at the next General Election, Ms Short claimed to be “profoundly ashamed” of the Government."

Will she sit on the Government or Opposition benches?

I feel a bit sorry for Clare Short. I'd like PR and she will wonder for the rest of her life whether a resignation from her at the same time as the late Robin Cook would have made a difference, particularly as her intent was to stay in the Cabinet, it would seem, to try and improve the situation where she saw a risk of winning the war (which I don't think she was in favour of) but disastrously losing the peace. Since she found in 2003 that what was to happen after the toppling of Saddam was not even considered, she must have wished she'd done the former. Hindsight is 20/20 and I, for one, wish her well. She may have been wrong but was honestly wrong.



Vae Victis!

Matt Sinclair sent me a link to Tim Worstall posting about Cato's frequent appeals for the destruction of Carthage. A decade of studying Latin mean that I was able to point out some errors... for posterity, my post appears below.

1. The Latin for union is conventus

2. As conventus is a 4th declension neuter noun and European is an adjective, it should be conventum europæeum in the accusative voice.

3. Ceterum does not mean therefore. Therefore is 'igitur' or 'ergo', as in cogito ergo sum. Moreover, et cetera gives it away.

4. Ceterum does not mean therefore. It means 'but'; I think this, **but** Carthage must [still] be destroyed

5. Censere means to argue rather than to think. Minor detail, but to think is putare

6. When trying to write it in Latin, you neglected to use the æ dipthong. Correctly written, it would be CETERVM CENSEO CONVENTUM EVROPÆAM ESSE DELENDAM if it has to be in capitals for ease of carving into stone.

Vae victis. Literally, 'woe to the defeated' but idiomatically ... well, insert your own idiom here.

In other words, I pwned a big blogger :)

It's not much, but it makes me happy.

Actually, reading that post I come across as a right arse, but I did it after work, so I was understandably and justifiably in a bad mood.



The Child of Madonna

I'm not going to criticise Madonna's motives for adopting a young Malawian. I actually think her motives are entirely altruistic, although I think she opens herself to the charge of orientalism.

However, it's worth noting that the GDP of Malawi is US$2,016,000,000, according to the BBC. Estimates of Madonna's wealth range from US$365,000,000 to US$700,000,000, or between one-sixth and one-third of Malawi's GDP. Not one-third of one per cent - fully one third, or 33%.

If Madonna really wants to help, there are better ways. Half of Malawians live below the poverty line. There are 900,000 Malawians with AIDS. Even on the lowest assessment of her wealth, Madonna could wipe out Malawi's current account deficit and have US$30m left. Riding in on a white charger or, indeed, Gulfstream, is a drop in the ocean.



20 telltale signs that you're a political junkie

From Luke Akehurst's Blog. Mine in bold.

1. The first thing you do in the morning is check the BBC’s politics website, followed by the broadsheets

2. You can name 10 Lib Dem MPs

3. The Today programme is as much a morning routine as brushing your teeth and taking a piss

4. You know the URL’s for the Top Three political blogs from memory

5. In your briefcase is a copy of Private Eye, an iPod, and Alan Clarke’s biography
I have an iPod and sometimes Private Eye

6. You read Boris every week, even if its only to disagree

7. You record Question Time via Series Link on your SKY + box or TiVo8.
No, but I sometimes watch it on the BBC website if I miss it

8.You know the Huffington Post is not a newspaper from a town called Huffington

9. You know who Nicholas Sarkozy is

10. Your family never brings up politics in your presence

11. You have a complex opinion of Tony Blair

12. You actually know where the politics section is at your local Waterstones

13. You always vote

14. Your water cooler conversations usually revolve around a recent Westminster scandal, whether your colleagues like politics or not

15. You have given money to a political party, via either membership or a donation

16. Your dream is to appear on QT yourself
I'd settle for the panel at LSE SU QT

17. You read political blogs during your lunch hour

18. You see more of Iain Dale than your children, sadly

19. You can name the last four foreign secretaries
Couldn't remember who was the last Tory before Cook.

20. You have a ‘handle’ at Comment is Free

14 out of a possible 20. b+ - could do better


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