Monday, 3 August 2015

Don't jump!

There are many times we make spur of the moment decisions. Some are good and some are bad. Sometimes we have to make a quick decision, such as when we are driving, but when we have time and the issue is important, we surely should listen to the arguments and base our decision on the best information and facts not prejudices.

Members of the Labour Party have just such a decision. Some commentators have stated that the length of time the process is taking is damaging, but we believe it is healthy and democratic. Most critics support candidates who have run abysmal campaigns and clearly have little to offer except a degree of profile. There only argument seems to be "the other guy will lose the next election" ignoring the fact that their own campaigns expose their lack of political savvy. If they can't even persuade their own side that they are the best potential Prime Minister, why on earth should anyone else believe them?

The only campaign that has sparked the publics interest is that of Jeremy Corbyn. He is the only candidate to put forward a positive agenda. As such he is the candidate who most deserves the job. His opponents state Labour cannot win with Corbyn at the helm. I disagree as he seems to be the only one who can string two coherent sentences together. If that makes you unelectable then God help us.

One Barnet - Mr Reasonable speaks

It is worth reminding ourselves that there were plenty of warnings about the dangers of outsourcing in Barnet. This is an interview with Mr Reasonable from 2014. I think it is fair to say that he's been proven right.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Stan Davison - Remembered

I thought I'd post this little clip of the full interview with Stan Davison. I was thinking about the Labour Leadership contest and I thought a little wisdom from Stan wouldn't go amiss. Whereever Stan is now, I am sure he's still running a good campaign.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

The Saturday List #81 - My impossible bucket list

I'm not a believer in bucket lists. I think if you want to do something, do it. I've done most of the stuff I really wanted to. There will always be new stuff, so there is always stuff to do. But there is stuff I didn't do, which I will now never do because the chance has gone. If however Dr Who stops by in his Tardis, here is my impossible bucket list.

1. Get taken for a spin in my Dad's Wellington bomber in 1944. My Dad was a bomber pilot during WWII. I'd loved to see him in action flying his plane. It would be pretty scary, but I'd miss the Ploesti trip where he got shot down. I know him and his crew got back from the rest in one piece!
2. Take the Blue Midland Pullman from St Pancras to Manchester Central Station. This service ran until around 1966. It used to pass my house in Mill Hill around 11am. At the time, there were green diesel engines with red coaaches and green multiple units. But there was only one Blue Train. As a four year old, I used to get really upset if I missed seeing "The Blue Train" pass the window. Mrs O'Keefe, who used to clean the house for my mum and was a lovely lady from Co Kerry, the nearest thing to a Grandma I had, usd to make sure she'd come up and we'd watch together. She told me it was "The luxury Express to Manchester" which sounded impossibly glamarous. She even got me a book with a picture of it in for my 4th Birthday. Sadly they don't run "Luxury Expresses from St Pancras to Manchester" anymore. The service terminated at Manchester Central Station, which is now the G-Mex centre. Out of curiosity, I googled it a few years ago. It was indeed a first class only luxury service. It convinced me that Blue was the right colour to associate with Manchester!
3. See The Clash at the Music Machine. It was a gig I missed. I had "something better to do". The music machine was my favourite venue and The Clash were in their absolute prime. I just assumed that I'd go next time. A bad mistake.
4. Visit Berlin and see the wall fall. When Bowie released Heroes, I was intrigued. I wanted to go to Berlin and see the wall. Back in the 1970's and 80's we didn't have budget airlines and I was skint. If I knew then what I know now, I'd have moved heaven and earth to get there for one of the most iconic moments of our time. Instead I watched it in a pub!
5. See Manchester City beat Newcastle United 2-1 to win the 1976 League Cup final and see Dennis Tuearts overhead bicycle kick, which was the winner. I thought long and hard about whether this would be my football moment or whether England vs Germany would be. In the end I went for this as it was at the height of my youthful football obsession. i was too young to remember the world cup victory well, however Tuearts goal to win the League cup was just a brilliant moment in my life that I missed.
6. See Ali Vs Frasier (1). I love Muhammed Ali, to me he is iconic, the greatest boxer ever. But if I had to pick a fight of his to see, I'd love to see his first fight against Joe Frasier. I also love Joe Frasier. Ali had it all in some ways, the banter the aura. But I loved the way Frasier was just a boxer. If ever you saw the two men on chat shows, it was clear who the star was. I always felt that Ali's personality and aura totally overshadowed him. However on that night, it didn't. Of all the fights, I think it was the most interesting. I find it quite sad that Frasier will only ever be a footnote. He deserves a bit better. He was the only man to beat Ali at his peak. To me that makes him pretty unique. As my Dad was an Aussie with no interest in football, boxing was the iconic sport in our home. Those fights made a lasting impression on me. I'd have taken my Dad as well!
7. Drive an E-Type Jag at full pelt from Bunns Lane Works to Watford on the M1 and back and chalk the time on the wall of my Dad's workshop. There has only ever been one car I really wanted, that is a blue E-Type Jag. I am not a petrol head, but I loved the E-Type. Not the convertable, that is for posers, the proper job with the roof. When my Dad ran his crash repair business, if a new sports car came in for repairs, before he gave it back, he'd thrash it up the M1 to Watford at full pelt and back and clock the time on his workshop wall. He always said this was a "necessary safety check". As a driver, he was a complete maniac. I am not, but I'd make an exception. However he used to do it in the 1960's and 70's at around 8pm, when the roads are clear. No chance of that now!
8. Save the bottom of my garden from the chainsaw of the man who "cleared it". Until I was six or seven, the bottom of my garden (I still live in the house I grew up in, bought it from Mum in 1987 after Dad passed away) was a magical place. There was the big apple tree, that was full of lovely apples in the autumn. There was the sad, old lonely pear treee, that only ever had one pear a year in it. There was the "Rose Gazebo" planted by the old ladies my folks bought the house off. There was "The ditch", full of leeches, frogspwan and sticklebacks with its magic spring. Then my Dad "paid a Paddy" to "clear it". All of this was destroyed (apart from the ditch which my Dad filled in the year after, when Valerie fell in). I can remember my complete horror when I saw what had been done. My Dad was made to feel so quilty. I've spent years trying to repair the damage. We have a pond, apple and pear trees, but the magic has never quite returned. I am sure if I could have shown my Dad what it would look ike and how my sisters reacted, he'd have thought twice. It taught me a valuable lesson. It is easy to destroy magic and hard to make it.
9. Have you ever gone home early because you are tired and missed the best night ever? Actually I haven't, there is something in my DNA that prevents me from doing that. But if I had that Tardis, I would have persuaded myself to do just that sometime back in the early 1980's. You see because I stayed up, I caught two people kissing and that completely changed my opinion of one of them. I really wished I hadn't because that one is still a friend and when I see them now, I still think of that scene and it still occasionally troubles me. Some things are actually better not to know.
10. And finally. Anyone else remember Jack Geache's clothes shop in Harrow. Used to be the shop where all the Teds went for their 1950's outfits. They had a pair of purple suede shoes in the window. I really wanted to buy them but they were a squillion quid and I was skint. So I never did. I happen to believe that if you've never owned a pair of purple suede shoes, you ain't really a proper rock and roll guitarist and that is a problem for me. For my 18th birthday my mum asked me what I wanted and I said "It's really expensive and you can only get them from Geaches in Harrow and they are Purple Suede Shoes". My mum, to my amazement said "You are only 18 once so we'll see what we can do". On the day, I got a shoe box with a pair of Hush Puppies inside. I asked her why she got me them. She said "I made your father drive me to Harrow to get you the ones you wanted, but they were really expensive and these are far more practical". My Dad who was an altogether more generous soul and got what having the right clobber was all about simply stood looking shamefaced and embarrassed (not enough though, to nip up and get the shoes). Have a great weekend.

Friday, 31 July 2015

The Friday Joke 31/7/2015

'Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed,
there are many rewards;
if you disgrace yourself,
you can always write a book.'
- Ronald Reagan 

Thursday, 30 July 2015

The perils of upsetting the applecart

Last night I had an interesting chat with a friend who is a cynical Marxist Athiest. We were discussing Jeremy Corbyn. He made a telling observation. He said "If you go around preaching tolerance and social justice, try and help the sick, feed the masses and threaten the powers that be, the one thing the bible tells you that is true is that sooner or later you get crucified". He probably isnt wrong.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

The most depressing TV show I've seen for years

Last night I was unfortunate enough to watch a gruesome spectacle of a TV show called young genius of the year. It appeared to me that it would have been better entitled pushy parent of the year. Perhaps the worst thing was that none of the kids seemed much more than bright with good memories.To me a genius innovates and solves seemingly impossible problems. Just memorising a stream of facts means nothing. The likes of Einstien and Mozart were genuises. In our generation Steve Jobs is a genius. The title should go to kids who innovate and invent. Just learning a bunch of facts in your bedroom is unhealthy behaviour for a young person. I know a few proper geniuses. They have many strings to their bow but the main is an ability to think about problems without the prejudice of what they've learned. Lets see some of these on the show and lets see a format that promotes thought, not parrot like repetition

Labour Leadership Special - Do Blairites actually believe in Labour Party Democracy

As it starts to look increasingly likely that Jeremy Corbyn will win the Labour Party leadership contest, we seem to hear ever more wild suggestions from those at the right of the party. MP John Mann has suggested that the party suspend the contest. He seems to be saying that the contest has attracted "the wrong sort of Labour supporters" to use the old British Rail phrase. It seems that the Blairites are claiming that the the £3 offer to have a say as a registered supporter has attracted "Tories and Militant Tendency" to join and sway the vote towards Corbyn.

Whilst it is true that some Tory commentators suggested that Tories do such a thing, there is no evidence that this has happened in any sort of numbers to actually affect the campaign. In general it is the one or two jokers in every party, who do it in the vain hope that they will impress their friends. I suspect that the last thing the Tories actually want in reality is Corbyn, so it is only the very stupid who will do this. As to the claim that it is militant tendency, this is complete cobblers. The way militant worked was that it would join associations and over a long period of time engineer changes to constitutions and committees to exclude normal members. As the last poll I saw said that 47% were backing Corbyn, this clearly was not the case. This is not a long campaign of cunning Trotskyite entryists. It is clearly a popular movement. It is also clear that the "entryists" are largely students and formerly loyal Labour members who were sickened by the lack of compassion in the Blair/Brown years.

Another thing which intrigues me is just how silent Gordon Brown is. From what I understand, he is not one to hide his light under a bush. Has he realised that his words, like Blairs are likely to simply inflame matters. Blair claimed that anyone voting for Corbyn should have a heart traansplant. To me this was a staggeringly vain and obnoxious statement. Back during the Blairite pomp from 1997-2002 (pre Iraq), it seemed to all, me included, that Blair had seen off the left for good. Whilst I never was a Blairite, it was easy to be seduced by the landslide victories and the obliteration of the Tories. But Blair squandered his victories. He was always to cosy to big business to care about his own party. Thingshe should have done, such as renationalising railways and regulating banking were simply ignored, to keep rich donors happy. By the time we got to 2010, the grassroots had been alienated.

I don't believe that the Blairite mantra is dead. But I do believe that there are simply no Blairites capable of articulating a coherent manifesto. In fact the only person who has is Corbyn. It is not good enough for Blairites to simply stick their fingers in their ears and shout "La La La". They have to have  a clear, concise program and a leader who can articulate it. They cannot simply say "We are better than the Tories". They have to have a program that demonstrates that and a Leader who can make the case. The same is true of Corbyn. If the Blairites cannot put a program together which has the support of the majority of the Labour Party and a Leadership contender who can articluate it, then they can't expect to win. And if the likes of John Mann cannot stomach that, then he clearly doesn't believe in democracy.

Following the general election defeat, Labour clearly needed fresh ideas and a break from the past. Jeremy Corbyn is the only candidate who has remotely offered that. If the great and the good of the Labour party don't like that, then they simply don't like democracy.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The most important lesson my Father taught me

Some time back in the late 1970's, when I was still at school a life changing event happened in my life. I didn't realise it at the time. In fact it is only recently that I've really understood it. We all think that life changing moments are big, monumental events. In my experience, often they are not. Often such lessons take decades for the truth of them to filter through.

Anyway let me tell you what happened. I was going to see a punk rock band (who I have long since forgotten) with a mate of mine. We were getting ready to go and as is my want, I made a pot of tea. As it was just being poured, my Dad walked in. I asked if he wanted one and he said "I am dying for one, it's freezing out there". As we sat around chatting, he said "What are you two up to?" I replied that we were going to see a band. He then said "I did a little cash job just before I left work. The guy gave me a tenner". He then gave us a fiver each. He said "You two go out and enjoy yourself. You'll enjoy it far more than I will". My friend was gobsmacked. His father was a stern figure who thoroughly disapproved of him enjoying himself. Whilst my Dad was no punk rock fan, he loved enjoying himself and loved nothing more than seeing his kids do the same. As we left, he said "you know money is worth nothing if you don't enjoy having it. I've seen many a miserable millionaire buried". The next day, he said "Did you have a good time?". We had and I said "Yes great, thanks" I also passed on my mates thanks. He said "You know his Dad is a miserable sod. I feel sorry for him. It must be hard growing up in a home where people don't know how to enjoy themselves". Like many of the things I learned from my Dad, it took years for the message to really filter through, but filter through it did. He viewed money as there to help us live and recognised the power of sharing. So if you have a spae fiver, just consider whether if you have any miserable friends who need cheering up. Mabe not a fiver, maybe just a bit of time