Saturday 22 September 2012


The Guardian has a poll showing that the Lib Dems are now the fourth party behind UKIP (my emphasis):
Nick Clegg faced a double blow on Saturday night as one of his closest advisers admitted that the coalition's spending cuts had been too deep and a new poll showed the Liberal Democrats were now the fourth party in British politics behind Ukip.
Odd then that the excuse on this occasion for the Lib Dems is that spending cuts are too deep, when UKIP have a policy of far more robust cuts:
Recognise the dangerous levels of national debt and accept there is no alternative to major cuts in government spending. We do not accept that service improvements require ever-increasing government expenditure, and believe there is substantial waste and inefficiency that can be eliminated while vital front line services remain fully protected. UKIP also believes profligate government spending is killing off the productive activity that provides tax funds, and that easing the burden will be the route to revitalising the economy
Obviously it's now conference season so much manoeuvrings and nonsense on stilts appealing to the party faithful takes place, but it does take a strange distorted twist of logic to argue that the reason the Lib Dems are behind in the polls is because they're cutting too much when the party they are comparing against has policy of doing far more.

Being Rude

Andrew Mitchell, the Government’s chief whip, is in the sticky stuff for apparently being rude to a Police Officer. Unfortunate timing given that two Police Officers were shot dead this week.

Blogger Max Farquar has this quote from Tory cheerleader in chief, Iain Dale, attempting to defend the Mitchell's actions:
If we’re going to say that all politicians should resign if they, in a momentary lapse of judgement, lose their temper then we won’t have many politicians left
So it's worth noting that Mrs Dale hasn't always been so tolerant of politicians' momentary lapses of judgement particularly of the Labour variety, an example entitled "Gordon Brown's Top Tantrums":
We're all eagerly awaiting the serialisation of Andrew Rawnsley's book in tomorrow's Observer, and I, relishing doing the BBC News Channel paper review at 11.20pm tonight, followed by the Radio 5 Live on at midnight. To prepare us for the revelations the book will no doubt contain about Gordon's temper tanties, I thought it might be good to refresh our memories about existing account's of the dour one's demeanour. on earth did the Labour Party allow this man to become PM?
Or this:
Quite why the Labour Party are happy to have a proven bully defend Gordon Brown against charges of, er, bullying, is a little bizarre to say the least. He completely lost his temper with BBC News Channel interviewer Ben Brown this morning.
Tribal politics eh? A bubble existence obviously not for the benefit for the rest of us...

Saturday 15 September 2012

The Ramifications Continue

From the Independent:
Senior lawyers at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) were handed detailed analysis of the police cover-up of the Hillsborough disaster 14 years ago but decided to take no action against any officers involved, the senior lawyer who led a private prosecution on behalf of the families says today.
In a withering attack on the criminal-justice system in The Independent, Alun Jones, QC says the Director of Public Prosecutions needs to explain why his office did "absolutely nothing" in 1998 after considering a line-by-line analysis of tampered reports by South Yorkshire police.
Successive Home Secretaries also did "absolutely nothing" when requested to open the Hillsborough case, including Jack Straw in 1998, who responded, as follows, to the accusations of amended statements by South Yorkshire Police:
"There are bound to be questions, however, about whether anything in this process might amount to misconduct of a criminal or disciplinary nature. Lord Justice Stuart-Smith considers it would not. It would in theory be possible to instigate a further police investigation to confirm this conclusively, but I think the outcome would be a foregone conclusion, and I do not consider that such an investigation should be instigated."
That Jack Straw did nothing in the face of the evidence, and now having been caught out, must surely account for this childish and cynical outburst in order to deflect attention away from himself.

What is clear, though, is the cover-up and corruption went right to the top.

Royal Scandal

World Exclusive: Newly wed couple found sharing time together in a state of partial undress. See pages: 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,21,23,24,

Real news has gone AWOL. 

And not just news either. Much fuss is being made over whether two footballers who don't like each other will shake hands before the match. The sense of perspective needed was articulated by the QPR manager Mark Hughes:
"When I saw the list of [predicted] questions [from the press officer] that I was likely to have to answer today, there were nine on the handshakes and one on Hillsborough," Hughes said. "Ridiculous."
You get more grown up politics in Tintin

Wednesday 12 September 2012


The Hillsborough disaster was a watershed moment in British sporting history. Not only and obviously for the poor 96 souls who lost their lives, and their families, but also the impact it had subsequently on sporting grounds. It instigated a revolution in stadium safety both here and in world football.

It was, however, a disaster that wasn't a one off, it was a long time coming and inevitable. When the initial reports came in on that fateful Saturday most fans knew immediately which end of the ground it was in - crushing in antiquated terraces was the norm. I'm sure I wasn't the only to view the images on television and think to oneself: "there but for the grace of God go I..."

At the time Britain's grounds could claim the worst safety record of any other developed nation, despite no fewer than eight official reports into crowd safety between 1924-85. Hillsborough was no freak, and we all knew it, it was the culmination of complacency, neglect, low investment, bad management and prejudice. It's no coincidence that in the 20 or so years since the famous Taylor Report, who recommended significant changes to stadia safety, that no major incident has occurred, yet in the 20 years prior to 1989, we had involving British fans; Ibrox 1971, Bradford fire, Heysel, and of course Hillsborough.

We also knew from the outset, that Hillsborough was a cover-up, particularly by South Yorkshire Police. Whatever ones thoughts on the game of football, or the futility of sport in general, a parent with a child in a so-called civilised society should be able to attend a sporting game on a Saturday afternoon and return home safely after. And when that doesn't happen there should be a proper inquiry into all institutions involved. With Hillsborough, though, it was clear from the start that a major cover-up ensured: UEFA, FIFA, the Thatcher Government, MPs (even recently), the media, the coroners, and most notably South Yorkshire Police all closed ranks (for many years Sheffield Wednesday refused to have a memorial at their ground, like it was an embarrassment). The blame was pinned quite decidedly by Lord Justice Taylor on South Yorkshire Police.

Yet today I'm surprised with the contents of the publication of an independent report into the disaster. I must confess that I was cynical from the outset: the files would be delayed 'till the 30 year rule comes in 2019, they would be redacted and they would be incomplete. But I was wrong, and even for a hardened cynic like myself, when it comes to the behaviour of police at football I'm rather taken aback by some of the revelations:
  • Some 164 police statements were amended, he says. Many removed comments attacking the police.
  • Officers carried out police national computer checks on the dead to impugn their reputation.
  • Blood tests were also taken from the dead to see if they had been drinking, including from children.
  • At the time of the Taylor Report [Margaret Thatcher] was briefed by her private secretary that the defensive and – I quote - “close to deceitful” behaviour of senior South Yorkshire officers was “depressingly familiar.”
    And it is clear that the then government thought it right that the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire should resign.
  • Evidence that a number of the dead survived "for a significant period" beyond the 3.15pm cut-off point imposed at the original inquest
  • ...a box of files containing police statements littered with hand-written notes saying ‘remove the last page’, ‘exclude the last paragraph’ and ‘rewritten as requested’.
This is wholesale corruption and cover-up by the authorities, one that hasn't come to light in detail for over 23 years.
The absence of a coroner’s report applying a verdict compatible with this assertion, or the experiences of all those who witnessed and survived Leppings Lane, is as incomprehensible and reprehensible as the actions on that initial April day.
When the coroner, Stefan Popper, decided the deaths were accidental 90 days after April 15 - on the grounds of what we can now see was tainted and doctored evidence - his judgement became emblematic of the most insidious representation of the second, institutional disaster; of the deceptions, the cover-ups, the lies and the closeted public 'servants' who idly kept their distance and shuffled off to their comfortable retirement as peers of the realm when they knew justice had not been done.
I haven't had time yet to read through the entire report but tribute must be made to the 'justice for the 96' campaign who never gave up.

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Cheering The Enemy

I was intrigued by this article by Donata Huggins in the Telegraph, articulating her shock at Gordon Brown being cheered at the Paralympics while George Osbourne was booed:
Crowds at the Paralympics this week booed George Osborne and cheered Gordon Brown. Yes, you read that right
Huggins is clearly astonished and baffled by this behaviour and doesn't understand so can only put forward the argument that it must be due to the stupidity of the British public, ill-disguised as this comment:
I cannot believe how short the public's memory is.
There is of course another explanation. When people have limited power they express their disaffection in the only ways available that they can. For example, when football fans fundamentally don't agree with their manager or board and have fallen out, they begin to celebrate opposition goals during a thrashing - as a way of trying to humiliate their own club. It's an expression which confirms powerlessness against vested interests.

Jonathan Aitken makes a similar point in his book, Porridge and Passion documenting his time in prison for perverting the course of justice, particularly when Michael Howard former Home Secretary visited him, which resulted in immature behaviour from the Prison Officers' Association:
The row between the screws and the Special Branch Officers continued for most of the visit, thereby alerting everyone in the room to this public spat between two traditional enemies: the police and the Prison Service. As a consequence, several prisoners decided to demonstrate their support for [Michael Howard my visitor].

As the visiting session ended with each inmate being called out by name, a dozen or so prisoners put on little demonstrations of respect towards the former Home Secretary. 'Good afternoon, Mr Howard,' 'Nice to see you at Standford Hill, Mr Howard,' 'Good to 'ave you with us sir,' and 'Thanks for coming to show yer loyalty to yer old friend, Mr Howard', were some of the bouquets tossed in Michael's direction by inmates passing our table as they left the visiting hall.

The point they were making was if the screws were going to be rude then the cons were going to be polite. It was a rather better point than any made that afternoon by the Prison Officers' Association.
So what better way of expressing discontent against Osborne than cheer on Brown who left him such a toxic legacy? Osborne the same chancellor't have successful budget in March and whose budget we the people pay for have absolutely no control over.

The only option left is to cheer a massively failed man in order to piss Osborne off. Such nuances though are above Huggins' head