Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tractor Production Figures Also Up

Guest blogging from Labour's Manchester conference has been Wirral South's Alison McGovern for the Dale Street Blues blog ( ).
She began yesterday's entry in breathless, fawning & adulatory terms:
"There was another chance to see our great new leader on the platform today".
Someone should remind Alison that she was in Manchester, not Pyongyang.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hicks & Gillett To Get The Hollywood Treatment

Kudos to Scott Murray, normally of the Guardian, for penning a perceptive piece on one of the football blogs regarding Sky Sports' real agenda in their coverage of the fans' sit-in protest after the match at Anfield on Saturday ( ).
The Murdoch-owned station is only too happy to patronise supporters who pose for their cameras in team colours or reminisce about their club's history. However, Sky becomes embarrassed & jittery when the fans begin to question the ownership of their club. It's much too close to home for Murdoch & his acolytes.
Meanwhile, there's a chance for Liverpool supporters to voice their feelings about the liars' ruinous reign at Anfield on film at the Hope Street Hotel this weekend. As Jim Boardman puts it in a post on the Anfield Road blog ( ):
"Liverpool fans the world over have helped to push the story under the noses of bank executives across the globe. Last week the story was placed firmly into the faces of literally thousands of US media contacts.
"Email has been an important tool. Twitter and Facebook have helped push it that little bit further. Next up -- YouTube.
"Casting Director Dan Hubbard (King Kong, The Damned United, The Bourne Ultimatum and more) and Hollywood Producer and Director Mike Jefferies are both massive Liverpool supporters. And that means they've also had just about enough of the situation too. And they're going to do something about it.
"But, as with every part of this campaign, they need your help.
"Are you in Liverpool this weekend? Can you be in Liverpool this weekend?
"They're making a film, they want it to go viral, they want you to star in it.
"It's not just about the famous faces they've approached to join in, it's about all fans -- all fans who want an end to this nightmare.
"Get yourself down to the Hope Street Hotel in town this weekend.
"Saturday: 10am-6pm.
"Sunday: 9am-Noon."
So, if you consider yourself a Liverpool supporter, or even if your footballing allegiance lies on the other side of Stanley Park but you still view the saga as symptomatic of football club ownership generally, here's an excellent way of sustaining the campaign.
See you there.

Accurate Journalism

Looks like the Oldham Echo's Ian Hernon was spot-on in reporting that David Miliband would make a nonsense of all those reports that he wouldn't work under his brother ( ).
No doubt Big Al Machray will be commending Hernon for his scoop.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Prediction Paradox

With the world & its wife expecting David Miliband to step back from frontline politics following brother Ed's victory in the Labour leadership, it's worth noting the confident & unequivical tone of counterintuitive commentary by the Oldham Echo's Ian Hernon ( ).
Hernon proclaims:
"[David Miliband] scotched speculation that he might walk away from the Shadow Cabinet elections after losing the leadership by a wafer thin margin to Ed."
Of course, it is possible that all the pundits are wrong & that the elder Miliband brother will stand in the Shadow Cabinet elections. However, given his departure for London immediately after Ed's speech in Manchester, during which he visibly smarted at criticism of the decision to support Bush's Iraq war ( ), that doesn't seem likely.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Reign Of Ruin Revisited

Recommended reading: David Conn, whose articles in the Guardian on the situation at Liverpool Football Club have been exemplary, delivers a damning resume on Hicks & Gillett's reign of ruin ( ).
The first clips have appeared on YouTube of yesterday's sit-in protest on the Kop following the game against Sunderland ( ).
Warning: contains "industrial" language; this is, after all, the Anfield Kop, not the Oxford Debating Union.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Middle East Gets New Peace Envoy

David Bartlett noted the departure of Jason Harborow for sunnier climes earlier this week, commenting that the man who played his part in the farce that was the Liverpool Culture Company & helped ensure 2008's legacy of waste & squandered chances will take up an educational post in the Middle East, a job which Harborow enthuses is "a life-changing, career-changing opportunity" ( ).
If he does for the Middle East what he did for Liverpool, the peace process is doomed.

Recommended Reading

Aside from an uncharacteristically naive profession of faith in Vince Cable, Marina Hyde was spot-on in a piece on Rupert Murdoch's baleful influence in US & UK politics in today's Guardian ( ).
When you consider the sort of candidates Murdoch is openly supporting in the US mid-term elections ( ) you realise that the Land of the Free has morphed grotesquely into the land of the free to be bigoted & stupefyingly ignorant.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pot, Kettle, Black

This blog doesn't normally draw attention to the way people look. In fact, it's a trait I usually deprecate. However, the words, glasshouses & stones really do spring to mind when perusing the latest example of Joe Riley's sagacity & wisdom ( ) in the Oldham Echo.
Riley opines:
"Merseyside fire chief Tony McGuirk notes there are some bone idle workers in the public sector. He then apologises.
"Then a Dutch director of Stena Line ferries describes British workers wanting jobs as unsuitably fat and covered in tattoos. He, too, apologises.
"Despite the evidence of our eyes and ears, telling the truth is obviously a difficult and dangerous business nowadays."
Yes, not content with scrawling ignorant & crass bilge about the proposed community centre in Manhattan, incorporating an area of religious worship for muslims ( ), Riley now wades into the bone-headed "bone idle" comments of Merseyside fire chief Tony McGuirk ( ), asserting, without any supporting evidence, that McGuirk's scattergun libel on public sector workers is somehow indisputable.
For good measure, Riley concurs with a businessman who feels that it is valid & permissible to call people (not "some" people, you'll note) "unsuitably fat".
However, it would seem that "the evidence of our eyes" draws us to "a difficult and dangerous" truth concerning Riley's qualification to pontificate on the subject.

Paying The Penalty

Amid the growing number of reports about the parlous financial situation at Liverpool Football Club, not to mention the team's dreadful form, one observation which stands out comes from the unlikely source that is the BBC's Robert Peston ( ).
Being the BBC's business editor, Peston is loath to criticise the ruinous reign of the two lying owners Tom Hicks & George Gillett. That said, Peston highlights the hard-headed business logic which the club's main creditor, the Royal Bank of Scotland will apply over the next month or so.
*Acknowledgements to fellow Liverpool fan Tony Karon ( ) for the link.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How The Cuts Will Affect Warren's War Zones

The Guardian's John Harris has been filing video shorts from the Fib Dem conference at the waterfront. Here he has a quick word with Chris Huhne, environment secretary, who airily dismisses the defection of local councillor Ian Jobling to Labour because of the cuts. Harris also visits Picton Ward in Wavertree for a rudimentary vox pop from local residents; in truth, Harris' attempts to generate some debate & reaction to the impending cuts don't quite succeed.
However, the video is notable for an exchange between Harris & Warren "War Zones" Bradley. The former leader of the city council repeats that risible phrase about "the golden vein of social justice" from the ConDems, though he says it more in (desperate) hope than expectation: .

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Cuts A Community Can't Take

Wayne relates a telling encounter with a Fib Dem delegate in his shop last Friday ( ).
The delegate, presumably steeled for any uncomfortable questions concerning his party, was both bullish & ignorant about the history of the Fib Dems in Liverpool, making the obvious barb about Hatton (yawn), yet offering no words of comfort for Warren "War Zones" Bradley --wonder if he's had a word on that hotline to Clegg, you know, the one he claimed to have last May when he claimed social justice would run through the ConDem government like a "golden vein" ( )-- but instead asked Wayne in all seriousness: "So was Trevor Jones Liverpool's T.Dan Smith?"
Those who remember the period may well maintain that comparisons between "Jones the Vote" & the 70s Newcastle Labour councillor could be made.
The Fib Dem conference at the Oldham Echo Arena (hope no one tries to take any pictures there) provided the backdrop for a piece by the BBC's Robert Peston last week as he looked at the city's economy, particularly in the city centre, in the context of the impending cuts ( ).
It was an informative package. However, had Peston ventured little more than a mile north of town, he would have arrived in Everton. That's what Paul Vallely did in a piece for today's Independent ( ).
Vallely, Liverpool-born & bred, visited the West Everton Community Centre ("The Wecc") & penned an eloquent dispatch from the frontline, quoting those whose plight is already dire. After the cuts have really taken effect it may well be terminal. He detailed with controlled anger the "reforms" that have already affected the local community:
"Already being axed are funds for a project to help unemployed people in the most deprived areas of the city set up their own businesses. A project to speed the rehousing of people made homeless by mortgage repossessions will go. Free sports and recreational facilities for young people have already gone. Free fruit and vegetables for primary school children have been reduced. A keep-fit programme to help the elderly stay active has been cut, which will almost certainly send some of them into residential care earlier than need be the case.
"Quit Smoking and Cut Down on Booze projects have been cut. So have handyman services available to help the old and frail cope. Grants available for families with children with Special Educational Needs have been cut. So has a scheme to provide free smoke alarms for the old and vulnerable."
You can imagine the short, damning & colourful verdict the people in Everton have for the Fib Dems, particularly the local ones, as they face a bleak future. Warren "War Zones" Bradley may have used that much vaunted hotline to Nick Clegg to get his partner off the hook over her Facebook "joke", but it's grotesquely apparent that it will be the only reason for its use by one of the heirs of "Liverpool's T.Dan Smith".

Thursday, September 16, 2010

McGuirk Should Be Fired

So you work in the public sector. You're anxious, to put it mildly, about what the ConDem cuts will mean for you. Kids at (or hoping to attend) university, with all the costs to think about, mortgage not yet paid off, partner worried about his/her own job, there's a lot to consider. And then along comes someone who enjoys an annual salary of £200,000 per annum, having received a 25% pay increase just a year or so back, to tell you that you're "bone idle" ( & ).
Tony McGuirk, chief fire officer for the Merseyside Fire Brigade, made the remark at a meeting organised by the right-wing thinktank Reform earlier this year. It has only just come to prominence after they were highlighted at the TUC conference in Manchester on Tuesday.
Evidently thinking himself qualified to opine on the entire public sector workforce, McGuirk opined: "We've got some bone idle people in the public sector. There, I said it -- bone idle people."
Yes, this character who clearly feels he's an authority on all things beyond his remit did say it &, well, it certainly speaks volumes about the intellectual capacity of the man.
Another indication of McGuirk's managerial foresight & sagacity came a few years back in a Q&A for the Guardian. The latter half of the piece is, by turns, ironic & revelatory ( ):
"Describe your own management style.
Hopefully transformational. I'm trying to move the organisation forward in a way that brings people with me.
What's the secret of effective teamwork?
Recognising that teams shouldn't be clones of their leaders, that you need difference and diversity to do an effective job.
What's the best piece of management advice you've been given?
An old divisional officer of mine said the secret of leadership is knowing when to be invisible. It's easy to hog the limelight and overshadow other people's achievements. Yopu have to step back.
Who is your management guru?
I don't really have one but I do admire Willy Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways, for doing a tough job with good humour and a lot of charm."
It's a pity that McGuirk didn't recall the advice to be "invisible" & not "hog the limelight" simply in order to make crass, inaccurate & risible claims.
There is, of course, a wider political context to this sad case of a jumped-up middle manager putting the world to rights. McGuirk made his comments at a Reform meeting. Far from being "independent", as some of today's media have reported, it is, in fact, very much to the right of centre, as it acknowledges on its website ( ):
"We believe that by liberalising the public sector, breaking monopoly and extending choice, high quality services can be made available for everyone. Reform would remove public services from the escalator of ever-rising costs. It would enable policy makers to aim for a lower level of taxation and public spending which would better suit the UK's current and future economic challenges."
As Merseyside's firefighters put their lives on the line, they can take comfort in the knowledge that their boss gives support to those who wish to "liberalise" the public services, with everything that entails for their jobs, whilst playing the shirkers card.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tea & Sympathy (But Bring Your Own Teabags)

Hugh Muir mused in today's Guardian Diary column about the whereabouts of Richard Balfe, the former Labour MEP turned Tory, who has been appointed as David Cameron's "envoy" to the trade unions ( ). Hugh rightly thought it odd that Balfe should be conspicuous by his absence from any sort of political prominence, particularly during the week of the TUC conference in Manchester.
Well, as if on cue, Balfe has surfaced with a few welcome words for those who may feel a little uncertain about their jobs at the moment. If you happen to lose your job as a result of the ConDem cuts, the Tories & their Lib Dem lap dogs will "sympathise" with your predicament; they really will, you know ( ).
They'll feel your pain. You know that, don't you?

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Cretin Calls

The story's been told before but it's worth recounting in order to remind ourselves what a loathsome cretin Kelvin MacKenzie is: .
MacKenzie's saloon bar rants have their natural home in the Murdoch media. However, it remains a mystery why the BBC periodically feels the need to give him a platform for his prejudice & ignorance.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Who Says There's No Passion In Politics?

It's such a shame that this US Republican politician didn't get the nomination he sought despite this memorable address: .

Recommended Reading

Kudos to Michael Moore on his recently-started blog (what took him so long?), Open Mike, for injecting a much-needed note of sanity & common sense into the debate around the so-called mosque (it's actually a cultural centre containing a mosque) in Manhattan ( ).
The anniversary of the 9/11 attacks has witnessed an intensification of the rabid rantings from the US hard Right (Fox, Glen Beck, Sarah Palin, all the usual suspects) with their apocalyptic pronouncements about The Clash Of Civilisations & an unspoken wish to resurrect & resume the medieval Crusades. Into this truly toxic stew pours the malicious bile & ignorance of Florida Pastor Terry Jones --neatly described in a Guardian editorial today as "a low-rent bigot with a gun" ( ) --with his now-withdrawn threat to burn 20 copies of the Qur'an today.
There's nothing new about scapegoating particular groups of people in order to distract attention from the flaws in your own policies & that's precisely what we're seeing in Manhattan & the US generally today.

Green Gets Away With Facebook "Joke"

Given the flak they'll warrant at their Liverpool conference next week, the local Lib Dems have decided to get the relatively minor stuff out of the way in advance. The North West Lib Dems have finally decided to administer a slap on the wrist to Cllr Sharon Green for her Facebook "joke" ( ) & told her not to do it again ( ).
However, it would seem that the local party is either in a state of total ignorance about the workings of Facebook, or expects the rest of us to suspend all our intellectual faculties:
"An investigation into newly-elected councillor Sharon Green said it was 'not possible to say beyond reasonable doubt' whether she had created the offensive content."
The North West Lib Dems merely "reprimanded" Green for mismanaging her Facebook account.
Mismanaging, eh? Well I suppose that's one way of putting it. Another way of putting it is to say the local party is trying, not very successfully, to cover up for Green's gesture & is prepared, if necessary, to lie about it.
David Bartlett notes in his piece:
"It is understood the Lib Dems had been keen to conclude the investigation ahead of the party's high-profile conference in Liverpool next Saturday."
I bet they were.
Nice to see that Warren "War Zones" Bradley's much-vaunted hotline to Nick Clegg has been put to use...even if it is only to get his partner off the hook.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Liverpool Blitz

This week's media coverage of the 70th anniversary of the Blitz has, inevitably, focused on the events held in London. As my parents & grandparents always maintained, it could be argued that the Port of Liverpool was an even greater target for Hitler's Luftwaffe because of its strategic position in relation to the North Atlantic convoys.
Peter Sissons, Liverpool-born & bred (he attended the same school as Lennon), looked at the largely unreported effects of the Blitz on Merseyside during 1940/41 for a BBC Radio 4 piece on Monday ( ).

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Less Mea Culpa, More Je Ne Regrette Rien

Reaction to Tony Blair's self-justifying tome has been wearily predictable; what was always suspected, & sometimes expressed sotto voce, is largely confirmed in the book, particularly the working relationship with Gordon Brown.
Be that as it may, it's amusing to see at least one senior reporter, the BBC's Nick Robinson, deliver a terse mea culpa on his blog ( ).
It confirms my own suspicions about the pointlessness of having senior political reporters who can boast of having "access" to "sources" around Downing Street & Westminster when what they're fed simply doesn't tally with the reality.
Far more candid & refreshingly acerbic is Channel 4 News' Jon Snow who remarks ( ):
" 'Maddening' Gordon made him drink more than he should have. So if there are no extracts on his website (for me at least), at least there are his somewhat gaunt features to prove that this at least may have been true. He was 'right' to go to war. No apology for Iraq, but he writes that he will try to remedy the 'consequences' until the end of his days. Buy the book and you, too, can contribute to his efforts.
"All 'maddening' Gordon seems to have done, in Blair's book, is to have lost Labour a British general election. Even A Journey [the title of Blair's book] doesn't blame him for Iraq. Although if Gordon had been a bit more 'maddening', he might have done many tens of thousands who died, and millions who fled (and have still not returned) a great service."
Indeed, it's grotesquely ironic that the man Snow mischievously refers to as "our former dear leader" feels the need to apologise for the ban on fox-hunting, but not the carnage in Iraq ( ).
Blair merely bleats that he didn't envisage the horrendous fall-out of riding on Bush's coat-tails.
Now that is "maddening".