Thursday, April 30, 2009

No We Can't

It's been a while since I was last in touch with Connie Lawn, doyenne of the White House Press Corps & senior Washington correspondent for USA Radio ( ), an oversight I intend to correct.
It seems that Connie didn't exactly hit the ground running with the Commander-in-Chief when he & his family recently unveiled the new pet dog, Bo, a Portugese Water Dog ( ).
Connie "asked if Bo would sleep in the [Obama] girls' room. 'No! he's got his own spot. He's got a nice little spot.'
"[Connie] then invited the whole first family to come spend time at her lake home. The president responded with silence."
I do hope it wasn't one of those "tumbleweed" moments, Connie.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Avarice Over Academia

One of the areas of civic life defiled by the Thatcher years was education. It was no longer seen as a thing of inherent value. Rather, it was to be seen through a Gradgrindian prism; at best, a means to an end.
New Labour carried on pretty much where the Tories left off, injecting more "market mechanisms" into the education system.
All of which has led to the move by Liverpool University to consider selling off its halls of residence in the city's south end ( ).
The university's Carnatic Halls in Mossley Hill & the Roscoe & Gladstone Halls in Wavertree are seen as assets to be cashed in. Marc Waddington's report quotes a university spokeswoman who lapses into a strange mix of estate agent speak & evasive euphemisms:
"Any sale would almost certainly wait for an upturn in the property market and would represent a major policy change for the university."
Waddington inserts a revealing aside into his piece when he says that the halls of residence have "traditionally eased first year students into Liverpool life in the more affluent south end" of the city.
The economic & class distinctions in the city of Liverpool, which don't always follow a north-south line, are rarely mentioned in the local media; as far as the Oldham Echo is normally concerned, it shouldn't affect your life chances if you're born in Kirkdale as opposed to, say, Aigburth. Such glib platitudes are, of course, bollocks.
Once the halls of residence are sold off, it may not end there. Waddington quotes a "senior source" who notes that there is a possibility of selling off "more recreation space down there [Mossley Hill & Wavertree] as well."
I don't normally approvingly quote city council leader Warren Bradley, but he correctly observes in the report that the bottom line is now at the top of the agenda for Liverpool University.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Breaking Ranks

Through a series of non-attributable briefings since the Hillsborough Memorial Service, the families of those who died in the disaster have been led to believe that official movement on the release of all the relevant documents, in an unaltered form, has begun. Though clearly welcome, it's necessary to remain sceptical until that comes to pass. [Incidentally, the coverage of this particular issue by the Oldham Echo has been less than helpful in its headlines, interchanging "could" with "will" with confusing regularity; Echo editor Alastair Machray needs to get a grip of what remains of his sub-editing operations.]
Chinks in the armour put up for 20 years by South Yorkshire police are, however, beginning to emerge. Liverpool Confidential today relates ( ):
"A Hillsborough policewoman has become the first officer to claim she was bullied into changing her statement in the aftermath of the disaster.
"Special Constable Debra Martin says she made a statement telling how Kevin Williams, a Liverpool fan of 15, died in her arms at 3.55pm on the day of the tragedy.
"But, according to a report in yesterday's Sunday Mirror, officers branded her a 'liar' and forced her to change the time to 3.15pm -- to hide the fact he could have been saved."
The fall-out from the memorial service is clearly having an effect within Whitehall. Just how great that effect is very much remains to be seen. What can't be gainsaid is the message a visibly shaken Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, took back to his colleagues.
While on the subject of the service, there has been a number of critical comments made by fans about Trevor Hicks' handling of the event as well as some of the comments he made. It should be recognised that Mr Hicks had prepared his text in the expectation that this year's turnout would be in the region of 12,000-15,000. The fact that over 30,000 attended probably threw him.
However, there were two points he made which should now be addressed. Mr Hicks, in a somewhat rambling & haphazard manner, referred to the need for all-seater stadia after Hillsborough. He should be aware that terracing per se was not a contributory issue on the day. Secondly, he condemned the lies which have been perpetuated by certain websites & blogs. Yes, the libel has been repeated ad nauseam online. However, for every moron who has posted ignorant & prejudicial "thoughts" on the tragedy, at least a score of other commenters, posters & bloggers have stressed the reality of that day & who was really responsible.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

We're All Middle Class Today

I'm bemused to see that the BBC's live Budget coverage ( ) includes its business reporter Declan Curry discussing today's developments with assembled figures from business (& the local CAB) from Liverpool's Albert Dock. Normally such elevated vox pops on Budget Day are broadcast from locations considered to represent Middle England. Are we now Middle Englanders?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sorting The Wheat From The Chaff

The scores of pieces in the MSM last week to mark the Hillsborough anniversary were notable only for their over-reliance on cliches, platitudes & truisms. None dared to question what has long been established about the causes of the disaster.
A few pieces & blog posts, however, did stand out from the rest. Larry Nield posted a thoughtful article on Liverpool Confidential ( ).
Writing on his Guardian media blog, Roy Greenslade remembered working on the Sunday Times when the TV pictures from Hillsborough were first broadcast. Greenlade also worked with Kelvin MacKenzie ( ):
"Prior to my joining the Sunday Times, I was assistant editor of The Sun for five years under MacKenzie and observed him on a daily basis. He was a mercurial, brash bully, characteristics relieved by both intelligence and a sense of humour. His editorship was marked by controversy because he too often made decisions based on instinct and fired by a fierce competitiveness.
"One of his prejudices was certainly a deep dislike of Liverpool, believing it to be largely populated by law-breaking, work-shy socialist scroungers descended from the Irish (another prejudice). So the Hillsborough allegations confirmed what he always suspected about Liverpudlians. It fitted his own perception perfectly."
On his Snowblog, the normally impeccable Jon Snow began by alluding to the years he spent at Liverpool University in the late 60s ( ).
However, he then took a dated & rather patronising turn:
"Liverpool remains a uniquely interesting community: funny, courageous, idiosyncratic, creative, self-destructive, on occasions sentimental to the point of mawkishness, and tribally divided by Christianity -- divisions most obviously exhibited through the perception that Everton is a Catholic football club and Liverpool Protestant."
Snow's "perception" did have an element of truth....before the Second World War; post-war slum clearance & New Town developments (Kirkby, Skelmersdale, etc.) largely put paid to the sort of tribalism that still afflicts Glasgow.
Be that as it may, Snow went on to raise an interesting point about the presence of Culture Secretary Andy Burnham:
" I am intrigued by the Culture Secretary Andy Burnham's appearance at the Anfield home of Liverpool FC for yesterday's memorial ceremony. I mentioned in yesterday's Snowblog that it had been 'unexpected'. His aides did not like this term. Mr Burnham, I learned, had been committed to attending for some time, having been invited by the organisers.
"But when he was introduced to the crowd (who had no foreknowledge of his contribution), he was prefaced by the words 'in a change to the schedule'. So why did it appear his attendance had been kept secret?
"Was there a nervousness of the deep-seated anger focused on the political classes for never holding a public inquiry into the stadium disaster? Or was it simply that this lover of football and renowned Everton supporter might experience a tricky rite of passage on hallowed Liverpool turf?"
The latter question can be easily discounted: Burnham's footballing allegiances, or anyone else's, for that matter, were irrelevant last Wednesday. The former question, however, is closer to the kernel of the matter.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mersey Beaten

An agreeably surreal ending to a pleasant day in the city centre. Having popped in to introduce myself to Wayne from the Liverpool Preservation Trust at his shop ( ), & having a most eye-opening conversation with him about local figures in the city's civic life (I could write more but the lawyers would pounce), I took advantage of the glorious weather to do a bit of window-shopping & wander down to the Pier Head. While debating with myself whether the extended canal system added to the waterfront (I'm still torn), I noticed city mayor Steve Rotheram in just some of his civic regalia. A knot of suited & booted male figures crowded around him near the Mersey Ferry ticket office. They then moved down to the Landing Stage (about which more presently). With time on my hands & the weather to savour, I decided to join them, hoping there could be a story.
It transpired that the Freedom of the City of Liverpool was to be conferred on Gerry Marsden on the ferry itself. Along with the chair of Merseytravel & Bootle councillor Mark Dowd, Mayor Rotheram presented Gerry with the honour in front of a phalanx of cameramen & photographers (yours truly had to employ his elbows quite a bit for the above shot). It was all a bit cheesy &, well, twee. However, a good time seemed to be had by all on the murky old Mersey, which couldn't have been calmer.
However, the council PR people started to smile nervously when the party began to pose for pictures with the waterfront in the background. Older Scouse wags began to call out, "Gerry who? Never heard of him!" Another helpful soul cried out, "The Searchers were better!"
Fixed smiles began to acquire a rictus element, eyes darted round in mild panic.
I smiled at one flustered council bureaucrat & said, "Good old Scouse wit, eh?"
He didn't reply.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Early Release For Hillsborough Documents?

After the long campaign for justice over Hillsborough, & Wednesday's potentially pivotal memorial service, the news that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is to waive the normal 30-year rule for cabinet papers & ask for the Hillsborough documents to be released now is to be cautiously welcomed: .
I say cautiously because the authorities have displayed an unerring willingness over the last two decades to save their own pathetic skins & thus deny justice to the families.
The Guardian report highlights a hitherto overlooked detail from the immediate aftermath of the tragedy:
"The documents to be released could include police files and the records of the other emergency services, government departments and local authorities.
"The families say they are particularly keen to see the minutes of a meeting between the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher and South Yorkshire police officers, which they say took place on the Sunday morning after the disaster."
The minutes could bring to light the level of involvement which the government had even at such an early stage in the disaster's aftermath. It's no secret that Thatcher kept the police force sweet with generous pay awards & allowances in the run-up to the miners' strike five years earlier. One of the forces most closely involved in the policing of the dispute was that of South Yorkshire. If all the information is released, & it's a big if, such material would still be political dynamite.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

An Appropriate Address

After the critical remarks I've made on this blog about the Mayor of Liverpool, Steve Rotheram for his shaky grasp of American history, it's only fair that I commend his address to yesterday's service at Anfield. It was well-judged, well-balanced & struck just the right tone. Not bad for "a brickie from Kirkby & a Liverpool & Kenny Dalglish fanatic".

We Still Demand Justice

The message rang out loud & clear yesterday. Justice denied was, as over 30,000 people emphatically reminded Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, merely justice delayed:

By the time I got off the bus & started to walk up County Road, past Everton's Goodison Park stadium, it was clear that this was going to be no ordinary act of remembrance. The streams of people donning replica shirts (some wonderful retro 60s shirts among them) & scarves made it feel like old times, back to the days when you'd have to start queuing for a spot on the Kop around midday.

Arriving at the Hillsborough Memorial around 1.30, it was clear that both the stewards & the police had a major job on their hands in allowing people to congregate outside the memorial while keeping Anfield Road open to traffic. The city council really should have anticipated that one & closed the road altogether for the day.

Making my way round to Walton Breck Road, the scene almost resembled that of match day. The Hillsborough Justice shop was doing brisk business ( ), as were the fast food outlets & The Albert pub. A few familiar faces could be picked out from the throngs of people on Walton Breck Road, greetings were exchanged, mention was made of Tuesday's gallant heroics ( ), but nobody was really in the mood to make too much conversation.

It wasn't until the Kop had filled up that the size of this year's turnout really became apparent. With the Paddock Enclosure given over to TV camera crews from the world's media, the Main Stand soon filled up. Netting normally used for crowd segregation purposes were initially moved further along the Lower Centenary Stand, then removed altogether as both it & the Lower Anfield Road Stand rapidly filled up.

This was part memorial service, part justice rally. The crowd's spontaneous explosion of barely suppressed emotion & rage when Burnham referred to the lack of justice for the families was both emotionally overwhelming & awe-inspiring.
Many fans later questioned why a government minister was present. I wasn't opposed to Burnham's presence per se, but I can't help feeling it made little sense for the families to invite him when he had no specific pledge to reopen the case so that the government could start to deliver the justice so cruelly & callously denied for 20 smear-filled years.
The service's denouement was suitably affecting ( ).
Thanks, too, to the Celtic fans who presented the banners on the pitch prior to the service.
In The Arkles pub on the corner of Anfield Road & Arkles Lane afterwards, the mood was respectfully sombre. However, some of the normal banter began to return. I got talking to a fellow fan from Cornwall, the same age as me. Like me, he, too, decided to turn left when entering the Leppings Lane terrace that day. Reminiscences were shared, tears were shed & rounds were stood at the bar. Contact details were also exchanged.
If the families of the 96 wondered prior to yesterday about the continued level of support they command, they were surely left in no doubt by both the attendance & the response of the crowd.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

South Yorkshire Police Chief Accepts Blame....20 Years Later

As the relatives of those who died at Hillsborough will readily attest, the fight for justice has been blocked every step of the way by not just smear tactics, but evasive jargon, legalese & weasel words. It's therefore something when the current Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, Meredydd Hughes, admits to the Guardian's David Conn the force's culpability for the disaster ( ).
The fight to secure true justice, however, continues.

Spin & Superfluity

When not indulging in the sort of sewer-based tactics which would have made the tabloid redtops blanche ( ), & how satisfying to see the scales drop from so many eyes about the character of Derek Draper, Downing Street must dread the day when papers like the Oldham Echo finally go under: no more press releases faithfully reproduced with a complete absence of journalistic scrutiny or inspection to get in the way of another "spin" story.
Today's Echo dutifully carries one such piece masquerading as news: .
It intones:
"Communities Secretary Hazel Blears will will ease local regulations to allow empty shops to be converted into temporary art galleries, learning centres, charity shops and social enterprises."
It is true that such measures have been taken in the south west of England, particularly with regard to temporary art galleries. However, the key word here is "temporary"; after a certain period of time, the empty spaces will return, as the south west is discovering: .
The Echo insert (for that is basically what it is) continues with a string of vague, non-committal terms & phrases ("The aim is to stop the rot"; "Officials [always unnamed, note] said that the benefit should be seen quickly"; "Other councils will be urged", etc.).
Get the picture?
If this is an example of the "local journalism" that media commentators are anxiously fretting about ( ), they should give up the ghost here & now. It ain't worth saving, let it sink, guys.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Fateful Decision

BBC football commentator Steve Wilson looked back at the Hillsborough disaster the other day ( ) & recounted his own memories of that day:
"At about two o'clock on 15 April, I made my way into Hillsborough and was confronted by the low-ceilinged tunnel that led to the central terracing behind the goal - already full. I headed left."
Wilson's actions were chillingly similar to mine. Along with my brother & a friend, I felt that standing on the high bank of terracing adjacent to the North Stand, to the left of the central pens, would give us a better view of the game. We, too, headed left. It's one of those fateful decisions you never forget.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Another Name To Add

Paddy Shennan today named the most prominent figures at the centre of the Hillsborough tragedy ( ).
He mentioned Kelvin MacKenzie, of course, but didn't name Irvine Patnick, the Tory MP for the Sheffield Hallam constituency between 1987 & 1997, who supplied the Sun with the lies for its "The Truth" story.*
While on the subject, it's worth noting an edition of BBC Radio 4's series "The Reunion this Sunday at 11.15 ( ):
"Sue MacGregor brings together a group of people who were involved in the Hillsborough stadium disaster of 1989, which resulted in the deaths of 96 Liverpool FC fans."
One of the contributors is Rogan Taylor.

*If Patnick, or anybody on his behalf, is reading this post & wishes to institute legal proceedings, I have only this to say: see you in court; I know my case will stand up to scrutiny.

Civic Shenanigans & A Mute Media

I don't normally reproduce points made in the comments section of blogs. However, I gladly make an exception in the case of a post by David Bartlett on his Dale Street Blues blog. The subject under scrutiny was the Steve Hurst affair. Bartlett reminded his readers of the case's details ( ):
"Hurst was convicted of delivering a leaflet titled 'Walton Scab,' attacking sitting Labour councillor Pauline Walton and her firefighter husband Keith in December.
"Masquerading as a leaflet from The United Socialist Party (TUSP), the pink flyer accused Mr Walton of crossing a Fire Brigades Union picket line during a strike.
"Mrs Walton was accused of leaving council meetings early to learn lap dancing. And it said Mr Walton was so unpopular at Lee Park golf course he couldn't find a playing partner."
The ludicrous allegations against Mr & Mrs Walton nothwithstanding, it should also be noted that there is no such party as The United Socialist Party.
One of the commenters, calling himself Henry, posted a response which merits full quotation:
"How very sad that once again the Echo has seen fit to bury this story in a small column on page 5. No photograph and even using light grey typeface for the tiny headline. I believe you, Mr Bartlett, to be a man of integrity and responsibility. I am sorry to say that the Echo and, now it seems to a growing extent, the Daily Post no longer has any of these qualities and I wish you luck in the future.
"The Echo's treatment of this story tonight [April 8th] is a disgrace. Considering that this is not only an elected representative of the people of Wavertree, he is not just any ward councillor, but an Executive Board Member whose position was held open for him by by his personal friend and fellow fire-fighter, the leader of the city [council], Councillor [Warren] Bradley. This man was in a key decision-making decision on the Executive Board and the story merited significant prominence in the main newspaper of the city. I don't question the front page human interest lead about the little girl's recovery after the horrifying fall [in an accident at Liverpool One], but it is an astonishing editorial decision to try to hide the outcome of this appeal and the further comments from the judiciary from the people of the city. This casts further serious doubt about the whole journalistic integrity of our local newspapers. In fact, there is no longer any doubt when it comes to reporting local politics.
"There are serious questions to be asked about other individuals' possible involvement here, for example, was Mr Hurst acting alone in this stupid and malicious venture, or was this a joint decision to engage in these dirty tricks a fellow fire-fighter and an opposition councillor? The 100% support from the leader of the Lib Dems is breath-taking and an appalling example that does the reputation of the city no good.
"This is in spite of two court judgements, both expressed with absolute certainty, about the guilty verdict and the reprehensible behaviour which discredits both his party and politicians.
"Both papers have continued to portray Mr Hurst as a victim and ignored the indignity and outrageous smears against the Waltons. This is particularly so in the Echo. You now report that Mr Hurst wants to draw a line under this and put his and his family's life back together. I am sure he does, perhaps so that he can get back on the Executive Board, like [Councillor Mike] Storey was allowed to following his no choice resignation which probably averted an even more damning report by the Standards Board following the Henshaw affair.
"There is only one honourable course of action here. First, an apology from Mr Bradley, and an apology to the electorate of Wavertree and the city, and the same from Mr Hurst to his ward members, the electors in Wavertree and this should be accompanied by his resignation as a councillor.
"I would also suggest that the editors of the Echo and the Daily Post consider their positions if they are either unable, unwilling, or not free to report on the politics of the city they allegedly hold so dear. There are currently at least two major local political stories that you are sitting on. Has journalism been shanghaied? Will it be left to the bloggers, or does anyone in Oldham Hall Street have the guts to say what's happening in the city? What, or who, are you all afraid of upsetting?"
Phew! Talk about killing two birds with one stone. ("Oldham Hall Street" LOL!) Henry, I tip my hat to you!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Sewer Politics

I've been following the Steve Hurst affair over the last few months, thanks, largely to Tony Parrish, Professor Chucklebutty &, latterly the Liverpool Preservation Trust blog. The details are a mixture of the surreal & the downright reprehensible. It seems that no depth was considered too subterranean by the Lib Dem councillor ( ).
Mark Brown, the presiding judge in the case, was damning in his remarks: "This sort of conduct brings considerable discredit on his party and on local politicians in general.
"This was dirty tactics of the worst kind."
Let that be Councillor Hurst's epitaph.

Parish Notice

Organisers & supporters of the Michael Shields campaign ( ) will march from St George's Plateau on Lime Street on Saturday, then through Islington, West Derby Road & ending up at the Liverpool Supporters' Club on Lower Breck Road prior to the lunchtime kick off for the home fixture against Blackburn Rovers ( ).
The organisers expect Justice Secretary Jack Straw, constituency MP for Blackburn, to be at the match.

Local History & Local Agendas

As a city Liverpool has generally made a mess of preserving & maintaining its historic features. This trend began around the time of industrialisation when the city's original pool was built over as the dock network took shape & the city expanded from its waterfront settlement (just think of all the economic, cultural & leisure-related benefits if it had been possible to reopen sections of the pool with just, say, 10% of the money splurged on culture year going toward such a project).
Civic historians may initially therefore welcome the reopening of the city's first dock ( ):
"Liverpool's Lost Dock is being opened to the public for the first time in 200 years. The first glimpse for centuries of the world's first enclosed commercial wet dock will be unveiled this Saturday."
The dock was first opened in 1715 & was filled in during the 1820s. The dock was featured on Channel 4's Time Team documentary, "The Lost Dock of Liverpool", this time last year ( ).
But wait, there's something ever so slightly amiss about this. It's located within Liverpool One. As the recession sinks its teeth in just that bit further, it isn't unduly cynical to see the Daily Post piece as little more than a glorified advert for the place at a time when an increasing number of retail spaces in the white elephant, sorry, prestigious development lie empty:
"The entrance is located by the large curved steps that lead up to the garden area on the upper tier of Liverpool One."
Oh yes, the garden area. Wayne Colquhoun remarks about the wisdom of allowing children to play there on his Liverpool Preservation Trust blog today ( ).
Wayne also observes about the dock's reopening:
"We can now walk around and see two old walls that are left below the tons of poured concrete, yippee! We are so lucky in Liverpool."
Wayne, Wayne, tut, tut, such sarcasm is most unwelcome & unwarranted given the heroic, nay Herculean endeavours of the city fathers, the Grosvenor people & our local fearless champions of investigative journalism on Old Hall Street to insulate Liverpool from the global recession & engender a renewed civic pride.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Clutching At Straws

So desperate to trumpet anything as a local success story, I suspect even the staff at the Oldham Echo raised their eyebrows & took a deep breath as they billed the necessity for staff at a local debt collection agency as a "jobs boost" ( ):
"A debt collection firm wants to take on at least 100 new staff in Liverpool as recession-hit companies look for help in collecting cash they are owed.
"Intrum Justita said it needs to expand its UK and Ireland headquarters in Old Hall Street."
You have to hand it to the Echo in the way it continues to trot out its tired & jaded "jobs boost" headline, even though the vacancies concerned are a direct consequence of the recession, of which the Echo is otherwise largely in denial, particularly with regard to Liverpool One.
Note, too, the debt collection firm's address. Old Hall Street is, of course, also home to the Daily Post & Echo. The Echo reporter clearly didn't have to travel far for that story. The way things are going at parent company Trinity Mirror, the theme of debt & lost jobs may just be a little too close to home.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Remembering Hillsborough

Before the BBC delete it from their iPlayer on Monday, it's worth mentioning a report on Hillsborough by Newsnight's Peter Marshall on Monday's edition of the programme. Marshall, himself a Scouser & who was at Hillsborough, reflects on the events of that day, talks to a handful of relatives who lost loved ones & mentions the campaign for a new independent inquiry ( ).
The page also links to a Newsnight piece Marshall did ten years ago, which goes over the lies, fabrications & cover up that followed ( ).

A Very Fickle Follower

Loyalty. Allegiance. Support.
Those are words which carry grave import throughout life. At the risk of trotting out a truism, the most important, stressful & emotional times of your life can be affected by those qualities, or, indeed, the lack of them.
They can also apply in a more trivial way. Like following a football team.
Where is this post going, you might ask. Well, it's a long-winded way of returning to Kelvinwatch, this blog's look at the sayings & doings of Kelvin MacKenzie, the man who is to journalism what Bernard Madoff is to financial probity.
It seems that MacKenzie is under the impression that following a football team is a transitory, ephemeral matter ( ).
The Guardian's Media Monkey site reports that "Kelvin's column in Monday's Sun, about how he was going to ditch Charlton Athletic after 12 years because the team looks like being relegated, has not gone down well with The Valley faithful. At all. The club's fansite, Charlton Life, has posted an article attacking MacKenzie, who previously followed Millwall and is now thinking of switching allegiance to QPR in west London, as a 'man who gets through more football teams than Vanessa Feltz gets through cream cakes'."
Oooh, well said, sir!
Anyone who truly follows a football team knows that it is something that stays with you. Allegiances, unlike players, are not transferred. Sure, it can seem illogical & irrational. In fact, it often is, but genuine supporters understand that. Unlike MacKenzie.
It remains to be seen whether MacKenzie undertakes an uncharacteristic Trappist vow of silence, or brazenly repeats his libel about Hillsborough in the days leading up to the anniversary.
Meanwhile, just in case there are any QPR fans reading this (you never know), get organising now. Make it clear to MacKenzie that you'd rather have Fred Goodwin on your board than allow this buffoon to enter Loftus Road.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

About That Matter In Hand

David Osler ruminated on his always highly readable blog this Sunday just gone about the affair surrounding the husband of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith ordering two porn films on cable & the fact that the £10 cost for the films formed part of her MP expenses claim ( ).
Aside from the low humour generated by the affair & the relish with which this latest New Labour-related piece of schadenfreude was greeted (one of my acquintances recited a whole list of websites where said dubious delights could be accessed free of charge -- &, after careful consideration, I've decided not to link to them), it seems to say so much about the putrid mess that Labour has long been. This isn't a moralistic observation about the onanistic preferences of Ms Smith's spouse (entirely his own business), it is a more ethically centred take; expense fiddling is just that, whether the scam involves the drinks bar at a five-star hotel, or a couple of skin-flicks. The most objectionable aspect of the tawdry saga isn't what he watched, it is the fact that he expected the rest of us to pay for it.
Osler muses in the closing paragraph to his post:
"Meanwhile, I can't help thinking that the old Militant Tendency slogan of 'a worker's MP on a worker's wage' could profitably be resurrected. It's not as if they need £150,000 a year or so to function as part of the political system, is it?"
Terry Fields would have denounced all involved with magnificently withering scorn.....& then mischievously speculated on the viewing habits of other (male) New Labour MPs.