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Month: July 2012

Lib Dem Councillor leaves the party for Labour saying he’ll work even harder now he’s a Labour councillor compared to his Lib Dem days

You may have already read that a Brent councillor has switched his colours from yellow to red after believing that the Lib Dems have betrayed everyone. He has posted the following open letter across a plethora of Labour websites:

It is with great sadness that after more than 10 years as a Liberal Democrat Councillor, this week I have resigned my membership of the party. I joined the Liberal Democrats because I wanted to help make Britain a fairer, greener and more equal country. I no longer believe that the Liberal Democrat Party can make this happen. They have betrayed the values that I once shared with them.

However, I do believe that the Labour Party, under their new Leader of Brent Council Muhammed Butt along with Ed Miliband in Westminster, shares my values and that I can as part of a Labour administration continue to work for the people of Brent.

I find that I am unable to lend my support to the devastating policies the Coalition is inflicting on Britain. In particular I have been sickened by the hypocritical things the Liberal Democrats do and say here in Brent.While my feelings about this have built up over the past two years, there are three issues that have finally pushed me to take this decision:

The people I represent in Alperton are struggling more than ever under this government, but the Liberal Democrat Leadership in Westminster is prioritising reform of the House of Lords instead of a plan for economic growth.

The closure of the A&E at Central Middlesex Hospital under this government is an astonishing betrayal. Sarah Teather campaigned to keep the A&E when it was not under threat of closure. Now she is in government closing it. I am only sorry that I trusted her back then and I am sure that a number of her constituents feel the same way.

Paul Lorber also knows very well that had the Lib Dems won the Local Election in 2010 they would have faced the same pressure to close the six libraries in Brent. It is the Coalition cuts to local government that are causing this problem and Cllr. Lorber’s posturing on the issue is just an insult to the library campaigners and the people of Brent.

I recognise that some of my constituents in Alperton will feel let down by my decision. I apologise to them if they feel I ought to have nailed my colours to the mast more firmly before the election. Equally I trust that many of them voted for me because they knew of the hard work that I have done as a councillor over the years. I pledge to them that I will work harder than ever to improve the lives of everyone who lives in Alperton. I know that there are many people who voted Lib Dem at the last election and indeed many Lib Dem members who feel as betrayed as I do by the party’s record in the coalition. I urge them to join me and to join the Labour Party.

Councillor James Allie

Now this isn’t a diss against this guy but I feel this to my core and have said it repeatedly. If you are elected as a member of a party then you serve an elected official of that party – or you serve as an independent. You do not serve as a member of another party. That wasn’t how you were voted in. In Southend a Lib Dem defected just a couple of weeks back and although he has joined another party – the Liberal Party – he will serve as an independent. I have seen Labour already making flirty eyes towards him and I find it disgusted – and I know the Lib Dems do it as well – I find it just as disgusting when we do it.

Once you are elected and you decide the party isn’t for you then you have three options. Two of which are acceptable and one is self-centred and shows that all you care about is being a councillor and not representing those who elected you. You can either serve as an independent which I think most people can understand. You can resign and force a by-election where you stand for the party you now wish to represent and put the decision to the voters. This again is fair enough and is in fact the best way forward or you can serve as a member of another party. This is the cowards way.

This councillor though is a man who has been very vocal in his message that innocent people’s DNA and fingerprints should be deleted from police records yet has joined a party who thinks differently on this issue. A party that wanted to record everyone’s biometric information is the party he has now joined and one he believes best represents him. So clearly he was never a big civil liberties fan.

Having done a search for him on the Brent Liberal Democrats website – which is maintained well and updated all the time there have been but two references to Cllr James Allie in 2012. So clearly he wasn’t doing a great deal.

He has defected from the Lib Dems to Labour not because he now truly believes that Labour are the future but for self-preservation. He’ll be up for election again in just under two years time and now is the perfect time to quit the party and get prepared to fight an election for Labour. He can sense the way the winds are blowing and has decided to cash in now to get the reward at the polls.

As for his letter. The prioritising lark is just a lazy line that people who don’t like the fact the Lib Dems actually are a relevance spin to justify not liking them. Governments can do more than one thing at a time you know. Everyone knows the economy is the single most important issue out there but a government and the House of Commons can’t spend all day everyday debating it because that will do nothing. When will people realise this? Cllr James Allie realises this but he wanted a cheap and lazy line to help him justify quitting the party instead of giving the truth and saying ‘as a Labour councillor I’m bound to win, as a Lib Dem I’m not sure.’

If he is so confident that the people of Alperton ward would vote for him again because of his hard work then go to the polls and find out. Don’t just say it. Find out. Also why will you work ‘harder than ever’ now you are a Labour councillor? Are you saying that you were hot-dogging it as a Lib Dem and now you’ll actually work?

This just sickens me that councillors can do this. They get in and then say ‘hey fuck you’ to their constituents. If he (and anyone else) wants to switch parties then fine but let the electorate decide whether they want it or not. In the future where I am supreme-overlord of the world any defections will result in an automatic by-election. I suspect however that we’ll never live in that world. Sad times…

Update: I have amended the title hence why the comments may not make sense.

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When did we turn into a bunch of pathetic whiny babies?

Not about the Lib Dems before anyone jumps in but more Gymnastics. The GB team had a silver medal in the Men’s all around but got bumped down to bronze after the Japanese protested the score of one of their performances. The protest was upheld so the Japanese got what they deserved. However this hasn’t exactly been the way social media has seen the action.

Both my Facebook timeline and my twitter feed has exploded with people wanting to declare war on Japan, boycott sushi, never visit Japan on holiday, calling the Japanese cheats (and much worse) and I am sitting here thinking ‘wtf?’

This is the first summer Olympics of the twitter era where people can put down their initial reactions without actually thinking. The judges looked at the protest and agreed they had marked the Japanese incorrectly. They didn’t just knock them up a digit or two but they went from fourth to second. So clearly a score was very incorrect. The Olympics are all about fairness and as much as it would’ve been great for the British team to get the silver, a bronze is what they deserved and that is what they have got.

What I find truly bizarre is the amount of people who are suddenly experts on gymnastics and gymnastics scoring. It was similar to the afternoon and the Pete Waterfield/Tom Daley diving. Most of us know nothing about these sports apart from the basics. In gymnastics if you nail a dismount then that is good. If you don’t then it isn’t. In synchronised diving going in straight is good and being identical to your fellow diver is also good. Lots of splash and not being identical to your partner is bad.

I know people are frustrated with the Japanese protesting the result but what if the boot had been on the other foot? Imagine the British getting scored incorrectly and not getting a medal. We’d all say that there was a conspiracy and the world hates us.

I know twitter is great and everyone can tweet as they see fit but sometimes people really do tweet without engaging a brain…

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Sad day as Solution Focused Politics shuts up shop – a loss for the Lib Dem blogging community

News came through yesterday that Matthew Gibson has hung up his quill and has closed his Solution Focused Politics website as he is to busy to keep it going at this current juncture. With a full time job and studying for a PhD (basically making himself smarter – note to self – don’t stand too close to Matthew as people will confuse it with evolution and I won’t be the latest model if you get what I mean) he feels that it is time to shut it down as he can’t give it the attention he feels it deserves.

His farewell post follows (taken from this link):

I started this blog over 2 years ago now and in that time it has done better than I thought it would. The time has come for me to close the blog as I have other priorities that need to take precedence. But before I close I just wanted to say thank you to all who have read, commented and recommended this blog, it has been very much appreciated. I would like say a special thank you to ChrisB for his support and critical appraisal of my postings and I have enjoyed our conversations. I hope one day we will meet. I would like to say thank you to Helen Duffett who provided some great feedback which probably made me keep it going for longer than it would have. Thank you for your support and I hope things are going well for you in London; I’m sure we will meet again. And I would like to thank Neil Monnery, a friend I made through blogging and I wish your blog all the best and hope to see you at conference sometime.

Thank you.

I know that Matthew has struggled with this for a while as he’s been a busy boy and has sadly been the victim of some quite nasty personal attacks. This is never the type of thing that really encourages people to blog. Blogging it a strange beast in a way as you know that not everyone will agree with you and the detractors will often be the ones who’ll actually let you know that they don’t like you/agree with you whereas many more probably do agree with what you say but don’t bother saying a thing. I suppose that is just the nature of the beast.

The reason SFP was so widely respected was that it was different. It wasn’t your standard blog like this where I blog about whatever it going on in my mind. He had a plan to educate people with facts and show how the Lib Dems could move forward with realistic ambitions. The title itself rings deep to my core. I hate negative politics. I hope I can keep that up and don’t get dragged down into the muck like the rest of the activists (in all parties – we aren’t saints – the whole ‘Labour can’t win here’ shit riles me right up).

I think one of the main reasons I liked his blog and his style of writing was it was intellectual but it was well sourced and didn’t seem to be someone pretending to know what they actually didn’t know. That is one of my pet peeves. I know on this blog I write many things but I don’t write about things I know nothing about. Most of the stuff I write is solely opinion based and if it isn’t it is sourced. This was I think one of Matt’s biggest strengths in his writing style. It was smart and not pretending to be smart. You can really tell the difference.

Yesterday I tweeted that if Matt ever wants to guest blog then there is always a spot on this site for him. I’d be delighted if he wanted to scratch that blogging itch on this blog. Also it was extremely kind to namecheck me in his farewell post. We both liked each others blogs and we met at Conference when he was hanging around trying to talk to Helen Duffett. I sought him out and then spent several hours with his mate watching Matthew grill the aforementioned Mrs Duffett in a hotel lobby. It was Paxmanequse. No doubt we’ll bump into each other at Conference or at other events and I would say he is the first friend I made through either blogging or joining the Lib Dems.

Lastly I just want to write something about blogging in general. We all have different motivations for blogging. I know mine was driven from deep down being a frustrated journalist. Seven years ago I graduated from university with a degree in Journalism but during my three years actually doing it I lost my love. That love is slowly returning and even if this blog isn’t read by millions it is read by enough people that I feel it is worthwhile. Having said that with no real narrative apart from whatever I’m thinking about I don’t exactly have a regular following but as the what two odd years have gone on this hasn’t been as important and my style of writing has evolved from short pieces to longer writings.

Blogging is a personal thing but I think the more people air their opinions then the better for the world. There are so many brilliant minds out there who quietly keep their thoughts to themselves. Without blogging then I suspect many opinions would go unheard and that is why I’d always implore anyone who wants to write to just write. Even if it is just for yourself or you think no-one will care or even ever read it you’d be surprised.

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Portsmouth Football Club is a fortnight away from ceasing to exist – why don’t I care?

If you have known me at any point in my 29+ years of existence on this planet then you’ll probably know that football – and Portsmouth Football Club in particular – has been a large part of my life. I was born in Portsmouth. They have always been my team. They are still my team. However years of mis-management and big F U’s to fans coupled to my geographical position has led to my love of the club slowly dwindling.

I have had many amazing memories at Fratton Park. From my first game when I was in a wheelchair after an operation in 1990 against AFC Bournemouth in the FA Cup to last day survivals to promotion to the Premier League and then winning the Championship. Beating the Scum 4-1 was great but beating them 1-0 the year before was much better. Going top of the Premier League against Bolton that night where we knew a 4-0 win would get us there – and getting a 94th minute stonewall penalty.

This football club has made me happy and it has made me sad. Trudging home after 4-1 defeats to Crystal Palace and Leyton Orient in the FA Cup are two low points that stick out. That 4-1 defeat to Palace when a win sent them down and ensured our safety only to put in an absolutely pathetic performance. Winning was great and losing wasn’t but that night against Arsenal where they mullered us 5-1 in the Cup was still an amazing evening. It was a vital part of my life.

My last Pompey game was our FA Cup Final win in 2008. That was a surreal experience having been away on a work weekend and travelling down to London for the match from The Cotswolds. I haven’t been to a game at Fratton Park for maybe six years and haven’t been a season ticket holder since the end of the 2004/2005 season when I became an adult (well in terms of not having a young person discount) and moved well out of the region. I moved back into the region in 2007 but didn’t return to being a season ticket holder and then left the region again in 2009.

Since then the club has been owned by crooks, mirages and people who might actually have less money than me. It has been a joke – a pretty bad one I grant you – but it has been a joke. I used to watch games on TV and rant and rave (as my former house mates would certainly attest to) but now if Pompey are on the box I’ll watch and I’ll just sit there and watch. My voice doesn’t yell or shriek.

This might not be a Pompey thing. I don’t really yell at the TV for anything any more. Maybe I have mellowed out or maybe there are just so few people involved in my day-to-day life who care about sport to any degree that I have lost my passion. I still watch a lot of it and do still work around a lot of my calendar around sport. I love so many sports and enjoy watching so much but I don’t care about it as much as I used to. I just don’t.

Going back to Portsmouth for a moment it just seems as though the club has been on life support for so long that it needs a rebirth. Whether that rebirth comes in the form of a Phoenix club or whether the Trust can actually buy the club I don’t know but one of those two things needs to happen. All Portpin taking over would do is prolong the agony and they would do whatever they could to asset strip the club to get as much of their money back as possible. They don’t care about the club. They care about money.

Talking of money there are several players that need to take a wage-cut or just write off wages otherwise the club will go to the wall a fortnight on Friday. A few of them are at least willing to talk but it seems as though a couple of players – namely Tal Ben Haim, Kanu and Dave Kitson – want all their money and aren’t willing to talk. On one hand you can see their point – they signed contracts in good faith and expect them to be honoured but on the other hand they could be the ones that sink Portsmouth Football Club once and for all.

I suppose that just sums up exactly my thoughts of Pompey – and indeed football – at the moment. No players really care about the clubs that they play for. When you are young you have this idealistic viewpoint that the players kiss the badge on the shirt and they mean it. They only care about money and to a small degree they care about their team mates and maybe their manager. The fans are an inconvenience who just happen to help pay their wages.

The clock is slowly ticking on a very famous football club disappearing into the sea and that club is my club. I’m just disappointed that it isn’t really moving my needle. I’m just sad all around with regards to Pompey. Whatever happens they’ll be a Portsmouth Football Club – either in this guise or in the guise of a newly founded club. Either way I’ll care but I do wonder whether I’ll ever care as much again as I did for the first 27 or so years of my life.

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What to do when a man is playing God? Get another man to play God and say he’s the real God

Yes folks more on the Penn State Child Sex abuse scandal. Recently I don’t seem to have written too much jolly but there isn’t too much jolly going on in my peripheral vision at the moment.

Yesterday Mark Emmert the President of the NCAA decided to lower the boom on Penn State football. Whilst he didn’t use the death penalty he did essentially kill Penn State as a football powerhouse for the best part of a decade and relished every single moment. He had appointed himself judge, jury and executioner but what he was really doing was appointing himself as God. The moral arbiter of the NCAA. He got all the power he wanted from the other presidents and decided to not only use it – but use it far beyond his actual remit. Luckily for him you won’t find too many people trying to defend Penn State so he could’ve done whatever he wanted and the public would have backed him – or said he didn’t go far enough – he was on safe ground.

He believed that Joe Paterno had become too powerful at Penn State. So to show everyone how it should be done he used a power-play himself and became the supreme being in charge of everything the NCAA rules over. The problem was the NCAA don’t rule over criminal cases – that is done by the police but that is but a mere minor detail. To show everyone that becoming too powerful leads to bad times he usurped more far reaching power than anyone in NCAA history. Yeah that will sort it.

He repeatedly said that this was a unique situation and he had not set a precedent. Anyone with a semblance of a brain knows that is laughable. The NCAA now have the power to rule over criminal acts. Personally I am all for due process and to allow the courts to decide on what is criminal and what isn’t but why wait for the law and due process when you are Mark Emmert?

I have no idea what happened at Penn State and do you know what? No-one else reading this has an idea either. If they say that they do then they are either a liar or they are called Graham Spanier, Tim Curley or Gary Schultz. Everyone has an opinion on what happened at Penn State and most people’s opinions are set in stone before any of the key players have faced a jury or spoken in public.

The Freeh Report was a horrific read but it was also a report without subpoena power. Mark Emmert said about how it was so thorough it had talked to over 300 witnesses and was good enough for him. The only issue is he didn’t speak to anyone with any first hand knowledge except Graham Spanier – and he has already claimed that most of his testimony wasn’t even included in the Freeh Report for whatever reason. Conspiracy theorists might claim that Louis Freeh already had a narrative and much of Spanier’s testimony didn’t fit that so it was left out but those conspiracy theorists are all crazy…

Something that did cheer me up (well cheer me up is not the right wording so let’s say made me less angry) was the fact many journalists after spending months whaling on Penn State have questioned his right to step in. Many have finally said that he has over-stepped his boundaries to make this big PR stand. Some people such as Jay Bilas to Chris Fowler to Tony Kornheiser to JA Adande to Bomani Jones etc… actually think the NCAA went beyond their remit because they wanted to be seen to be acting.

For the past few months I have said that this issue is the Salem Witch Trials 2012. It is such a lightning rod story that people don’t care about due process as they just want justice and they want it now. I spoke to a couple of my neighbours about it yesterday and all they heard was ‘child sex’ and they said everyone deserves whatever they get. I tried to argue that should innocent people deserve punishment too and they didn’t care. There was child sex involved and that was enough for them. That is sadly the way things are these days.

Should the catholic church be shut down because of its issues on this front? Should the boy scouts be culled? People want Penn State football finished but does that punishment fit the crime? The crime was perpetrated by an individual and it was compounded by other individuals. These individuals are either in jail, dead or facing criminal prosecutions. These people are not involved at Penn State any more and the university is already changing its culture and following the recommendations to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again. How does penalising the innocent make up for the evilness and the criminal acts/bad decisions of others?

Losing twenty scholarships a year for four years means that there are eighty fewer scholarships for student-athletes at Penn State but it also means that eighty fewer student-athletes will get scholarships all over the country. So eighty people who will be recruited to play college football next year will not get a scholarship? Do these eighty people deserve that? How about all the businesses around State College? Do they deserve to see their incomes drop as the football programme at the university decreases?

All the other student-athletes on non-football scholarships will also suffer as the men’s football programme pays for all the other sports. These sports may well be cut as the university might not be able to afford them. How about the football players themselves? Yes they are transfer without penalty by why are they penalised for events that happened before they even got into junior high school?

What happens if Tim Curley and Gary Schultz are found not guilty at their criminal trials? What happens if the Freeh Report isn’t gospel? What happens if actually the main players in this instance actually were duped by Jerry Sandusky and actually didn’t know everything that everyone thinks they knew? There are so many questions and whilst we have heard many answers none of these answers have come from the people that know the answers. The answers have come from everybody else. At some point these people will answer these questions and then what do we do?

I know everyone wants to hit Penn State hard but was it the university that faltered or was it people? If I said that you moved into a house that five years ago a paedophile lived in would you be guilty of harbouring that person even if you didn’t know them? Should you face sanctions? The people involved in this horrific state of affairs are in jail, dead or facing criminal charges as I have already said. They are not playing football at Penn State today, they aren’t the hotel or restaurant owners in State College. Punish those who erred and not those that didn’t. That is my point of view.

One last thing – even those who have erred deserve due process. You don’t shoot first and ask questions later. Mark Emmert has played God because he believes he is serving the American’s peoples will. The general public have made up their minds and they want justice. They don’t care if the justice is fair or not but they want someone to suffer because these innocent kids had to suffer at the hands of a monster. Who suffers they don’t care as long as someone does and because Penn State employed all then they are right people to get hurt despite all the other innocent people at that institution. I’m sure these people want the catholic church shut down and the boy scouts dispensed with as well.

It is institutions that make these people evil – not individuals. If you believe that then I despair I truly do. You punish the people involved you don’t punish those that weren’t. That is maybe an old school belief but heck there is nothing like a (very) public witch hunt. Justice takes time but time isn’t something people have time for as it were. People want justice – or what they perceive as justice – yesterday. Whether they actually get justice is not important. The perception of someone paying the price is enough whether or not the people paying the price are people who should be.

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The night of the stand-up (and extremely loud) row with fellow Lib Dem Blogger Richard Morris…

Well as noted a few weeks ago I had a bit of a pop at Richard Morris. It was about him agreeing with a tweet from Baroness Scott. You can read the full blurb here and to give him his due he did reply in full here but I’ll give you a sneak peak at the title of the post – Oh Dear, I’ve upset Neil Monnery AND I’m an idiot – yeah usually when someone upsets me they are in the wrong and are therefore an idiot (actually Neil that’s bs as you yourself are an idiot and are usually in the wrong – Ed). Oh thanks a lot Ed…

But anyway I think people thought we were getting over our public spat. I had gotten over it but then do you know what that pesky Richard Morris did? He only went and infiltrated one of my dreams (yes this really happened) and we had a stand up row in front of a room full of people arguing about whether Vince Cable was the greatest human being on Earth. Richard was arguing that he was and I thought it was hyperbole. We were actually screaming at each other. I thought it was very unprofessional but to be fair we were both to blame and I haven’t heard myself screaming at anyone ever so it was a very uncomfortable feeling.

So I’d to put it on record that the Richard Morris is my dream was wrong and whilst Vince is undoubtedly awesome there are in fact better people than him in the world. If he disagrees then bring it on when I’m not in a dream-like state Morris!

Why Richard Morris turned up in my dream I have no idea. Possibly my subconscious was thinking about his cabinet reshuffle posts that he has posted in the past few days. Maybe Vince Cable was in my mind as I saw he was talking with Scottish Lib Dems last night. What I really want to say is that I dreamt about another Lib Dem blogger and in all honestly I am a bit weirded out.

My dreams should not be about other Lib Dem bloggers and stand-up rows about Lib Dem politicians. They should be more like my dream the other night where I was at the cricket and the rain came and everyone was running for cover and none other than Lord David Gower was rushing behind me and I was thinking to myself why wasn’t he in the Sky box presenting? Yes that is a better dream.

So word up Morris. No more entering my dreams or I’ll start entering yours and when I do that I turn the dream into a nightmare. Think me in speedo’s. Yeah…

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Lee Dixon joins ITV Sport

Days after Lee Dixon announced that he was leaving the BBC, ITV have released a press release confirming that he would be joining the channel. This happened on the same day that Gareth Southgate left his job at the FA meaning that Lee Dixon is in effect the replacement for Martin O’Neill who left ITV for the managers job at Sunderland in the middle of the last football season.

The pree release reads as follows:

ITV have announced that Lee Dixon has joined its pundit team covering the range of major football competitions broadcast by the channel.

The former Arsenal and England defender will be part of ITV’s on-screen panel led by presenter Adrian Chiles from the start of the 2012/2013 football season.

Dixon will offer insight and analysis throughout England’s World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign, as well as FA Cup, UEFA Champions League and Europa League matches.

Niall Sloane, ITV Director of Sport, said: “We are delighted that Lee is joining our team with his wealth of experience, knowledge and insight. His appointment follows our acclaimed Euro 2012 broadcasts and signals ITV Sport’s intention to continue to bring viewers top-quality coverage.”

An interesting move as Dixon is well thought of but the old boys network at the BBC limited his opportunities coupled with the lack of lack football on the channel until the 2014 World Cup. ITV have recently dropped to just one staff commentator so to move to three permanent pundits is a bit of a surprising move. Still we’ll see the best of Lee Dixon I expect with him reuniting with his old MOTD2 mate Adrian Chiles.

I have to admit I think the ITV football output is the best it has been for a while. I think Dixon and Keane will be a good combination even if I think Southgate is a bit meh. I am a huge Martin O’Neill guy so that is a loss but the BBC’s coverage has just got too stale. ITV is at least trying something new and I might be one of the few people knocking about who still enjoys Adrian Chiles.

Looks like Alan Hansen, Alan Shearer and Mark Lawrenson are set to dominate at the Beeb for a good while yet…

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Did I miss the memo that high school proms are newsworthy?

I am now three weeks into my self-imposed ‘I will buy and read the local newspaper – the Southend Echo every Monday-Friday’ commitment. I have to admit that the £6.75 I have spent on doing this hasn’t been the best £6.75 that I have ever spent but it has taken me back to being a journalist. One thing though has really stood out and that is they seem to have a photographer at every single local high school prom. When did the high school prom become newsworthy? Can someone enlighten me?

Now I know some of you will be thinking, ‘but Neil you are just jealous because you didn’t go to any of your high school discos or proms or anything social’ but you’d be wrong – I went to one. Hah! Although it wasn’t a prom or anything it was a big leaving VI form party in the park – or more accurately Sandown or Shanklin Rugby Club. I can’t remember which. Anyway as per usual I digress. I’m not jealous of either going to proms or having the local rag deciding it was newsworthy. I just think it is preposterous to have the gall to pretend it is even remotely newsworthy.

No doubt the local paper will say that it fills up space and no doubt people buy it to see their photos and to see them all but isn’t that the type of thing that Facebook and other forms of social media was invented for?

Here are a couple of photos from the last two days but in the 15 days of buying the local rag I’d say a good eight of them have had double page spreads from a high school prom.

high school prom southend
High School Prom Photo 1…
southend high school prom
High School Prom Photo 2…

I just don’t get it. Maybe I am just a grumpy old man. I know that the local rag will have quite a few non-stories in it. It isn’t easy finding enough news to fill up a newspaper every single day but prom photos?

The whole high school prom thing is also a bug-bear of mine. It is the Americanisation of our young people. More and more pressure is put on young people to have a good time at these things and make an impression. I read a story in a national newspaper the other day that two girls had waited too long to hire a limo for their prom that they went out a hired a helicopter instead. The helicopter cost them £500 to hire between them. I don’t think I even had £500 pocket money throughout my teenage years yet alone to spend on a helicopter trip to arrive at a prom in style.

Proms are essentially for the popular kids and it deeply harms the less popular kids self-worth. If you aren’t popular or you can’t afford a new dress or to arrive in style then people look down on you. Having the local newspaper photographer there doesn’t exactly help this.

I could bang on about it for hours but I’ll be good and won’t. It just really pisses me off. Not just the whole newsworthy issue but the prom culture itself. I’m not sure the benefits outweigh the costs in fact quite the opposite – I’m pretty darn sure the costs outweigh the benefits.

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Prominent Southend Lib Dem Cllr quits the party

Some very disappointing news dropped into my inbox earlier today and confirmation has come that Cllr Ric Morgan has quit the party and has joined the Liberal Party. He will continue to serve as one of the three councillors for Prittlewell and whilst a member of the Liberal Party he will be serving as an independent. This means in terms of the make-up of the council the independents are now the main party of opposition although with one of their members effectively voting with the Tories on all issues and the Thorpe Bay three having a voting pact with the Tories it is pretty much a farce and you can’t really tell the make-up of the independents on Southend Council.

On a Lib Dem level I think this is a bigger blow than how it might seem to the outsider. Ric Morgan is in the (accurate) words of the local rag was a maverick and the Lib Dems badly need someone like him. I don’t think it is a secret to say that there was tensions between Ric and the leader of the Lib Dems on Southend Council and that these tensions were not being solved any time soon. Some people have already contacted me to say that this was a secret and I shouldn’t be saying secretive internal stuff on the blog. I think the way Ric has left and his public trashing of Cllr Longley and the Lib Dems for having no vision in the local rag pretty much shows that these tensions are out in the open.

I don’t think it is right to comment on those issues as I am not a councillor and am therefore not privy to a lot of what goes on but I do think I can say that I have been concerned in my what year and a half as a member of where the party is going in the borough. The vision is very short-term and is extremely defensive. The talk is of keeping what we have and not expanding our horizons and making progress across the town. Whilst the Lib Dems nationally are not exactly the flavour of the month there are pockets across the country where the Lib Dems are doing well. These are places with a clear message and a clear vision. That isn’t something the Lib Dems currently have in Southend – well not to my knowledge anyway.

The membership of the party locally has pretty much stagnated in the past year or so with no real movement or defections. New blood and new ideas are what keeps political parties going. I am the nominal head of Liberal Youth in the borough but in all honesty I have been pretty awful. However I had a meeting last week with Essex Liberal Youth and I’ll be working on this in the near future to start getting the Liberal Youth active in Southend. Hopefully this will help bring in some more voices to the discussion.

I thought the ‘Six to Fix’ that the party put out for the May elections was actually a pretty decent document. However these issues have not gone away because the election is over. These are things that Lib Dems should still be talking about. As for Cllr Morgan saying that his local colleagues are ‘lacking in vision’ that is a claim that could easily be substantiated but to be fair most political parties could be accused of such a thing.

This departure is not a good thing for the Lib Dems. I won’t sugar coat it but I am hopeful that it is the kick up the backside that the party need locally. With no elections next year things seem to be in a bit of a malaise but if the Lib Dems carry on down this path then in four years I could easily see the Lib Dems holding just Leigh on the council. This is the strongest warning shot across the bow that the party could have gotten locally. The Lib Dems have for many moons been the natural opposition to the Tories in Southend. The way things are going they might be hind both the independents and Labour in the very near future.

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‘You were a graffiti artist in the last century Sir? Well that means you are banned from public transport in 2012’

Twitter is sometimes really an excellent source of information. This lunchtime I saw a tweet with a link to an article on The London Vandal website. Not what you’d call really my natural territory. Being someone who is very boring an law abiding and who lets say didn’t exactly set the art world on fire before dropping it full-time after Year Nine. A website on graffiti was’t one that I had visited before. However…

The story linked was about how the police had gone on mass raids across the capital of known graffiti artists a couple of weeks before the Olympics. Seems a bit heavy handed on the face of it but when you delve further into the piece you will see that it isn’t about keeping these scallywags away from the games but these scallywags as it were aren’t actually scallywags at all. I just used the word scallywags three times in a sentence. I don’t think that would’ve gone down well with my print tutor at university but still…

Anyway these people who were rounded up and arrested and charged on decade old trumped up charges aren’t active in the graffiti community any more. They are regular Joe’s. It is a bit like all those men who were involved in football violence in the 80s. Most of them are now in there 40s and 50s and live regular lives. The football violence is something in their past. It is the same with these people but it seems the British Transport Police aren’t as convinced.

Slapping them with bail conditions that they can’t use any public transport or go within a mile of any Olympics venue is (to me) an extremely scary issue. It is clearly using powers they have to get what they want even if legal they are not moral. It is abusing powers to the utmost degree and trying to solve a non-existent problem. That is the sign of a police state and these actions (if we are taking the story and their sources at face value) that were taken against these bunch of people is not fair and it is not right.

I know there are bigger issues at hand and security is an important issue but this isn’t about security. This is about people abusing their powers as they are scared that there might be a bit of graffiti in London when the world is watching. Being arrested and bailed just so they can put extreme bail conditions on people is not how the law should work.

Again taking this report as gospel this is an absolute disgrace and those officers who decided that it was worthwhile are a disgrace to their profession. The thing is no doubt they think it’s a job well done. Rustling up a few low level criminals from a decade or more ago just in case they decide to do a bit of graffiti during the Olympics is appalling. Is this the country we live in these days? I’m afraid folks it is.

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