Thursday, July 31, 2008

Protestors have a gas outside Goldmans

Socialist Workers were dressed as 'fat cats' and giving out leaflets outside 120 Fleet Street (which could be Goldman Sachs International - it's definitely in the same building... Any better ideas?) this morning.

Gas company bosses are apparently due to meet there this morning to announce their profits while landing consumers with price rises of up to 35%.

Photo to follow...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Screws gets caned on privacy

I'm with tonight's Evening Standard on the implications of the Max Mosley BDSM case decision.

Mr Justice Eady reiterated that stories that invade privacy should be 'in the public interest' rather than merely 'of interest to the public'.

This isn't news. Article 3 ii) of the Press Complaints Commission code of practice for journalists already states that:

It is unacceptable to photograph individuals in a private place without
their consent.*

*There may be exceptions to the clauses marked * where they can be demonstrated to be in the public interest.
1. The public interest includes, but is not confined to:

  1. Detecting or exposing crime or serious impropriety.
  2. Protecting public health and safety.
  3. Preventing the public from being misled by an action or statement of an individual or organisation.

Crucially, the court concluded that:

There was no evidence that the gathering was intended to be an
enactment of Nazi behaviour.

Which, so far as I gather, was a key argument the Screws made for the story being in the public interest.

The most obvious implication will be that the red tops will tread carefully around stories purely about the sex for fear of being a***y violated to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

That said, everyone must be vigilant. Privacy is a rapidly evolving area of media law with no firm rules and, coupled with the astronomical costs that can come with no-win, no-fee agreements, many publications are very frightened of mis-stepping. In practice, given the choice between publishing or not publishing something that is 'in the public interest' but could lead to a legal challenge, they will increasingly avoid the risk.

Those privacy campaigners trumpeting Mr Mosley's right to keep his spankings private need to be aware that restrictive legal precedent can cower investigative journalists exposing corruption, malpractice and hypocracy among the rich, powerful and our elected representatives. This case wasn't earth-shattering but others may be. As with everything, there is a balance to be drawn.

Wall Street got drunk

George W. Bush adds to his list of memorable quotes with this blinder.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

More Lembit news from the Screws

This kiss and tell is really a bit cheeky.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Has Lem's 'bit' made a cheeky exit?

The Screws thinks yes.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Carpenter and kingly candidate gets 25 votes

Slightly late, but here is the final installment of the Haltemprice and Howden by-election leaflets.

Thomas Darwood (25 votes)

Both my mum (who lives in the constituency) and I were flummoxed by this leaflet which is sub-headed:
"Carpenter from Essex claims he has CV to become future King through political and constitutional reforms"
He continues:
"A carpenter from Essex has astonished the world by claiming to have the right CV to become the future King of the British peoples through political, cultural and constitutional reform. He also claims in the same CV to become the 'true' Archbishop of Canterbury and the 'true' Pope ! His preparation, he explains, reflects Christ's own period of service and like him a Singularity, he is the Figurehead of Western Civilisation and source the necessary understanding which will unift the three religions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. In charting this road map, the Conclusion to the constitutional hereditary monarchy will signify the compelling arguments to succeed to this astonishing claim and render upon Elizabeth II the most profound Act of Duty which he described as; 'The Glorification of the Reign of Elizabeth II,' which will expunge the sorrow and shame of the abdication crisis with the utmost of irony and render upon the Sovereign, honour and majesty equal in stature to what the Ascension did for the Lord Jesus Christ when he fully and successfully accomplished his task on earth..."
It continues for another page.

I don't think his piece on the by-elections blog shed any further light on his election bid. It's english, Jim, but not as we know it.

Chris Foren (23 votes)

'In common with other western societies the British economy has grown substantially over the last few decades. But repeated surveys have shown that we are no happier as a society.

So why do we continue to inflict so much environmental damage for the sake of extra growth? For example, the Labour government has plans for the expansion of a number of British airports (including a third runway at Heathrow). The reason given is to ensure that the economy continues to grow.'
Mr Foren, a former Leeds Crown Prosecutor, called for simplification to company taxation, the balancing of immigration and emigration rates, and replacement of the House of Lords with an elected senate. He hoped to use the by-election to establish a new political party called Work for Progress.

Hamish Howitt (91 votes)

Is a pub landlord whose glossy leaflet mainly focuses on smoking in pubs. However, he also mentions the Iraq war and being anti-fox hunting, and calls for a freeze on oil fuel duty and a 4% cap on inflation.

He writes:
"Many troops have lost their limbs or been badly injured fighting for freedom, these veterans are now humiliated and degraded like animals and are thrown out in the street to have a pint and a fag. I have two pubs, the walls are 18 inches thick, one you can smoke in and one you can't... IT"S CALLED CHOICE."
Chris Talbot (84 votes)

Stood for the Socialist Equality Party.

He wrote:
"Chris Talbot is the only candidate in this election opposing all the repressive measures passed by the Labour government from the standpoint of mobilizing an independent political movement of working people, based on socialist policies...

... From the standpoint of working people, the Labour Party is finished. Having severed any connection with the working class and repudiated its former reformist policies, all that remains is a politically corrupt clique interested only in their own self-enrichment...

... Even as millions are hammered by spiralling fuel and food prices, crippling mortgage payments and personal debt and face the threat of unemployment, the financial speculators continue to glut themselves while government bankrolls their nefarious activities with taxpayers' money.

In the next period, there is no question that legislation passed in the name of opposing terrorism will be used against those seeking to defend their livelihoods against the major corporations and the government.

Historically, the working class only secured its basic democratic rights through mass political struggle. The same is true today. There can be no democracy worthy of the name while grotesque levels of private wealth are wielded as a weapon against society...

... The Socialist Equality Party advances a programme for the fundamental reorganisation of economic and social life. We call for the replacement of the profit system and private ownership of the means of production with public ownership and production to meet the needs of society as a whole.

Above all the struggle against capitalism is international and requires the unification of the working class across all national, religious and ethnic divisions. The SEP is the British section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, the world party of socialism"
My mum thought Chris Talbot used too many big words in his leaflet to make him a good representative for the working class. Only 84 people disagreed with her.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Giant lizards and carpenters, part deux

As the good people of Haltemprice and Howden go to the polls, I reveal some of the highlights of the other by-election pamphlets I have in my possession.

Again in no particular order:

David Craig

The author of Squandered is standing for election on a platform of Stop the Government/Politicians wasting our money coupled with the usual demand for a referendum on the Lisbon treaty and clear limits on immigration. I say 'usual' because it's a theme he shares with The English Democrats and several other candidates.

If you haven't read Squandered, I'd definitely recommend it because I found it interesting and moderately intelligent.

David Pinder and Joanne Robinson

It's possible David and Joanne would be unhappy to be considered together since they are standing for The New Party and The English Democrats, respectively. I'm considering them together since they are both standing for small, apparently right-wing (although The New Party says it isn't), parties that have put out the sort of generic, glossy leaflet you'd expect from organisations with more than two members.

Read more here.

Tess Culnane

Yep, there's a National Front candidate.

She writes:
'Enoch was right! The Tories share responsibility for sixty years of mass immigration into Britain, creating intractable racial conflict. They rejected Enoch Powell's warnings - we should now reject their crocodile tears...'
'...Are we racist? It is Gordon Brown's New Labour that slaughters Iraqi families whilst sacrificing British lives
Are we fascists? It is Gordon Brown's New Labour that threatens to lock up our citizens without charge...'
Just think - New Labour, making the National Front look moderate since 2008!

Tony Farnon

'1) I want to help people break free from anything that holds them back.

2) Cigarette addiction is one of the worst common problems so I'll start there.

3) I reveal for free on an ancient secret which broke me free from FIFTY a day more than 20 years ago, it can also set you free!...

...5) Smokers - you HATE lectures from non-smokers... I DO know the feeling! Click and discover the secret NOW...'
In case you missed that - the website is here. And he's not letting you have his secret until you type in your email address.

David Icke

Has managed an entire election leaflet without mentioning lizards.

He writes:
'A candidate who is not after your vote, just your brief attention

For nearly two decades, David Icke has been warning about the coming Big Brother society and detailing a hidden agenda for a global fascist state that is now unfolding at an ever-increasing pace.

He has written ten books on the subject...

... While the mainstream media have ridiculed and dismissed him, others have taken the trouble to read what he is saying in detail and taken a very different view of the Orwellian agenda...

... 'It is happening everywhere - is the Labour government responsible for what is being introduced in the United States, Canada, Australia, Sweden, etc. etc.? Of course not, and the bigger picture and the connections that form the global web have to be understood if the dark-suits-in-jackboots are to be stopped.''

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Pro-world peace, giant lizards, carpenters for king... No. 1

I have the fortune (or not) to be in possession of  leaflets from 17 of the 25/26 candidates in the Haltemprice and Howden by-election. And, may I say, there are some real corkers!

I'm going to ignore the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, the Green Party, Gemma Garrett (Miss Great Britain Party and a regular on the by-election circuit) and Jill Saward, the anti-rape campaigner and Grace Astley, a teacher, because they're insufficiently interesting, in my humble opinion. This says everything about the candidate line-up...

In no particular order:

Walter Sweeney is not alone...

John Upex, former UKIP candidate for Wakefield in 2005, and now standing as an independent, is also concerned about the EU. He writes:



But I'm loving page 2:
Thus I propose - with immediate effect -...

... 2) to instigate and lead a Peasant's revolt - and declare Britain an Independent State outside of the European Union.
Please - I want to know more details of this Peasant's revolt! Should I bring a pitchfork? Don't leave me hanging like this!

Rev. George Hargreaves from the Christian Party  has sent a glossy poster with the slogan:
26 Candidates, but just one real issue... REFERENDUM NOW
What is this guy standing for? Answers on a postcard...

John Nicholson writes (punctuation and grammar as per the leaflet, which is typed text in several different font sizes. Dots show where I've skipped a few lines):

MY PERSONAL VISION IS A world, where wars between countries are totally eliminated. A world, that feeds everyone in it adequately. A world where science and medicine are used to benefit all societies. A world where children are safe, well educated and consider themselves equally responsible for the well-being of all...

Written by a third generation teacher. PAUL KELLEY...

..."There is no obvious level to how intelligent children can become..."

"...What is clear though, is that the power of mathematical approaches in so many area of human life means we must improve learning in mathematics. On a global level, mathematics seems the logical starting point for global cooperation"...

...I am cooperating with an East Yorkshire Emeritus professor of theoretical physics to develop the definitive teaching program in mathematics...

... Except for leading researchers my work has been ignored by every labour minister of education, it will be up to parents to evaluate my recommendations. I even sent my research to the Browns and an abacus with each child . NOT EVEN A 'DEAR JOHN', HE MUST HAVE THOUGHT IT WAS AN EDUCATIONAL TIMB BOMB


... My resolution in this well known dispute, can only be settled by HSBC providing my, "Abacus One" for every child on earth for their fourth birthday, or a criminal court action in front of a Jury.
I'm not sure if he's promoting a new maths tool, hopes being an MP will give him leverage with his bank, or thinks he can bring about world peace (I'd suggest he writes to Mr A L Blair). Or maybe he's trying for all of the above.

More later...

[NB: Can someone drop me a comment if election law forbids me from posting this stuff? My media law book doesn't mention it]

Thursday, July 03, 2008

To read the utterances of fools and bigots

Click here. An interesting fixation on imperial measurements, for some reason...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Haltemprice by-election candidate calls for EU referendum

More than ten years after ex-Tory MP Walter Sweeney lost his Vale of Glamorgan seat, he is making a comeback by standing in the Haltemprice and Howden by-election.

So why has he chosen to re-enter national politics? And why is he standing as an independent against Tory MP David Davis?

Paul Linford suggests a revenge match.

I had to ask...

Mr Sweeney tells me:

Ma chere Femme de Resistance,

Thanks for email.

I decided to stand because DD resigned on (in my opinion) the wrong
point of principle about the loss of civil liberties. Most of our liberties are
being lost as a result of our membership of the EU, and not because of the poor
performance of our own Parliament. I am standing as an Independent to campaign
for a fairly funded referendum on our membership of the E.U.. I hope to pick up
votes from Liberal, pr-EU voters who are not afraid of a fair debate, as well as
Eurosceptics form all parties and none.

Yours sincerely,

Walter Sweeney

What a banker!

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, a group of Guardian readers wondered if people yoked to the furnace of the capitalist machine were as odious as they thought. Their problem was how to find out.

Fortunately, Cityboy braved the bull and bear pit so they don't have to, and has penned a 'heavily trailed in The London Paper' yarn about it.

"Cityboy: Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile"
is a morality tale charting how a socially astute, popular, fun-loving hippy is briefly (10 years) led astray by the lure of lucre. We know how right-on he was and is, because he takes every opportunity to remind us.

If you’re looking for incisive social commentary about the City in the late 1990s, go elsewhere, because Jane Austen it ain’t. The Digested Read explains it better than I could, but I can summarise the entire book in the following paragraph, to save the trouble of buying it:
All bankers are fat, smelly, spotty saddos who try to use their money to buy the sex and company they couldn’t get while they were the socially inept school mathmo dork. Except if they’re excessively posh, gauntly ghoulish and smug. All bankers’ wives are gold-digging dragons who live in Surrey and who their husbands constantly cheat on by sniffing coke off the naked buttocks of Brazilian lap dancers. Although I act like an immature pratt constantly through the book, I am actually a hippy artist. Sorry, did I forget to mention, I'm a hippy artist who loves the oppressed, but was turned into an ugly, bloated and yellowing, morality-free wreak by my competitive streak, before being redeemed in a long and badly written last chapter.
Yep. It really is that insightful. It heaps cliché after cliché onto an overload of swearing and debauchery. After the 10th coked-up lap dancer who overuses the word ‘f**k’ while inserting a cucumber into her rectum, I started craving a nice spreadsheet. Although none of the characters are particularly sympathetic (except for the protagonist’s colleague, Michael, who I’m probably supposed to think is a sad dork but actually sounds a really sweet guy), the main character exhibits such smug, lefty contempt for everyone and everything that no number of paralytically drunken client dinners and affairs could make him less likeable. His colleagues may be greedy and debauched, but at least they don't maintain pretentions to moral superiority.

I almost yelled at the book “If you hate your colleagues that much and think they are all saddos with poor personal hygiene and more money than social skills, why don’t you just f**k off and work for the public sector, you miserable ass… Oh, I forgot… The money…”

In summary: Cityboy or ‘the best hatchet job on hippies ever. Period.'