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Month: May 2011

A plea from an LJ_UK poster…

Do you know this man?

Hi there…

Following this post over on LJ_UK I thought I’d try to help out the original poster.

If you can’t be bothered to click on the link this is what they had to say:

If anyone knows this man, they should send him this photo. I was attempting to take a picture of a tasty restaurant next to Hampton Court Palace earlier today and this man struck a pose. Not sure who he is, but I think he deserves this photo as he is clearly awesome.

So does anyone know? If not please try and spread the word via social networking and your own blogs.

I know this isn’t that important but it’s a dank drizzly Tuesday morning so…

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Mr Monkey Council suing Mr Monkey on public time and with public money

I suspect most of you with a bit of interweb nous will have been monitoring the Mr Monkey proceedings recently. If not a quick run down is that Mr Monkey is the man (or men) behind a blog (and subsequent twitter feeds) that basically revealed interesting tidbits about South Tyneside Council and the councillors on said council. Seemingly other members of the council weren’t too keen on some of the things he/they wrote and promptly decided to sue the people behind the blog and twitter feeds.

That is all fine and dandy. However…

Instead of doing it in their private time as this is clearly a civil matter the Labour run council have decided that it is council business and therefore both time and public money deserve to be spent on this case. Are you freakin’ kidding me? So far estimates are that they have spent between £75,000 and £100,000 of public money on the lawsuit which had gone through the Californian courts because that is where twitter is based. Also an insane amount of hours have been spent discussing the situation at council level.

Now I don’t know about you but if my councillors were using public time and money on private law suits then I’d be fuming and ready to campaign vigorously to get them out of office. What is more important to the people who live in South Tyneside, the fact that their councillors aren’t libeled or defamed or maybe bin pick-up, fixing pavements, ensuring the public areas look nice, keeping open Sure Start centres, libraries, leisure centres etc…

Just to clarify a point that whilst it is a Labour run council the action was first initiated by the previous Conservative Chief Executive.

A spokesman for the council told the BBC, “The council has a duty of care to protect its employees and as this blog contains damaging claims about council officers, legal action is being taken to identify those responsible.” Interesting position but totally whack. In a civil suit then the damaged need to decide whether to pursue the individual themselves. This is not a matter for the council to be spending money on and I’m sure the people living there would agree fully with that. Will the council stand up and say for example that bin pick-ups will now be fortnightly but that the defamed people working for the council are all right now so vote for us again and expect to get in?

The former Conservative Chief Executive goes even further in his rant to the BBC:

“This is a deeply tawdry, perverted and seedy little blog that has been in existence for quite a while.

“It’s no longer active, as I understand, but the information is still on the internet for all to see.

“This was a blog that didn’t just affect councillors; it also affected council officers.

“We have a duty of care, as any employer does whether public or private, to defend not only our commercial interests, but also the interests of our employees.

“That’s why we took the action, that’s why we’re pursuing it so aggressively, and I have no doubt that we will get there, and we will win.

“There have been many, many disgusting claims, which I won’t repeat in order to protect my family and friends – allegations of corruption, sexual deviancy, of drug use.”

Do you ever get the feeling that he isn’t a fan of the blog?

Just in the interest of fairness here in the Mr Monkey Blog and it is certainly shall we say ‘interesting’ reading…

Look I have no problems with the law suit. That is fair and the courts will decide on what the outcome is. You’d hope that the blogger has some pretty nifty evidence on the shelf for when that happens otherwise he’ll be crucified. However I do have an almighty issue that public money is being spent on this. That is the biggest disgrace of all. This is a civil matter and all those who believe they have been defamed by the blogger need to get together and pursue in through the courts themselves. Wasting public time and money on it only goes to show the average voter that politicians are only in for themselves and will use public time and money for their own means instead of spending it doing what they were elected to do – manage the local finances and services.

The quotes were taken from this BBC News piece

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Jim Tressel quits Ohio State job

The Columbus Post Dispatch is reporting that Jim Tressel has quit as Head Coach of the Ohio State Football programme with immediate effect. This comes on the heels of a troublesome few months for both the programme and Tressel personally after it became clear he had been involved in some pretty serious NCAA violations with regards to failing to report violations to either the compliance officer or the NCAA themselves.

The dispatch obtained a copy of a memo to Ohio State trustees this morning:

“I write to let you know that later this morning we will be announcing the resignation of Jim Tressel as head coach of the University’s football program. As you all know, I appointed a special committee to analyze and provide advice to me regarding issues attendant to our football program. In consultation with the senior leadership of the University and the senior leadership of the Board, I have been actively reviewing the matter and have accepted Coach Tressel’s resignation.”

Tressel has overseen the rise of Ohio State to the very top of the BigTen Conference and Ohio State are now seen as a perennial National Championship contender and as the biggest programme in the area. With one national title and seven BigTen titles (although three of them were split) under his tenure then his performances on the field had him up there with the very best but now his legacy will be savaged by his out the field issues and further reports this week from former players that they used to sell items as well in violation of NCAA rules then his position had in all honesty become untenable.

Next up is how will this effect Ohio State as a programme as Tressel had built an almighty ship there. Will recruits now look elsewhere and who can they bring in to oversee the biggest programme in the conference? There will be a long line of suitors for the job but things might yet get worse for Ohio State before it gets better. Just look at USC and how the best programme in America collapsed after the Pete Carroll era. That may well happen as well in Columbus and if it does it will mean that Penn State will once again become stronger and the daddy of the BigTen.

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Ryan Giggs and Twitter – what next?

Many people are panicking over the fact that Ryan Giggs may try to obtain the names of all the people who tweeted anything about himself and Imogen Thomas. The news that twitter was disclosing the authors of four accounts in a case in South Tyneside last night brought about a flux of tweets from people worried that this case-precedent will help Giggs and that everyone is for the slammer.

As Lee Corso would say (no-one knows this side of the pond who Lee Corso is – this saddens me) ‘not so fast my friend’

First of all has a crime been committed? Technically yes. If anything put out in a public forum that Ryan Giggs had an injunction against Imogen Thomas before it was revealed in the House of Commons by Lib Dem MP John Hemming last week then they are as I understand it with my layman’s view of law guilty of contempt of court. However in reality the CPS would not see it as in the Public Interest to arrest and charge everyone involved in saying anything that may have broken the injunction of any social networking site. So the likelihood of everyone getting a criminal record from this is shall be say minute and that is being kind to the chance.

Next up is whether multi-millionaire Ryan Giggs would want to individually sue everyone involved. Can you see a footballer deciding to take on what they are reporting as up to 75,000 civil actions against members of the public? No. Neither can I. If Ryan Giggs really wants to go after someone through twitter it will be the first accounts that reported it – namely the anonymous ‘injunctionsuper’ account would be his target as there is a considerable chance that this account user actually knew of the injunction and had seen legal papers therefore directly violating the injunction. Other people who had commented on it afterwards had not and therefore any success in a case by Ryan Giggs would be a long-shot.

Ryan Giggs has played his hand extremely badly and with only a year or two left as a player he has a big choice as to what he wants to do after e finishes playing football. If he wants a job either as a coach, a manager or TV pundit then any suit against multiple members of the public will not be forthcoming. I can not imagine any media outlet taking on such a toxic personality considering what the public would feel towards him at that point and the same goes for any club knowing the backlash they would get from the fans. If he wants a reclusive life counting his pennies then he can sue and become one of the most hated people in the country.

The ball as they say is in his court. The thing is though at the end of the day nobody gives a damn that he cheated on his wife. They just don’t. At some point if he has good advice he will let the injunction slide and take the short-term public hit and apologise publicly to both his wife and to all his fans around the world. People will very quickly forgive and forget and he can enjoy doing whatever he likes for the rest of his career. Pursue a civil case against the public at large and his future will be as private as he wants it to be as nobody will touch him job wise.

If any of the legal stuff is inaccurate then please let me know. I did pass Journalism Law back in 2003 but heck that was a fair while ago…

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Harry Redknapp to Chelsea? Is it all a Harry Redknapp PR stunt?

Ok some might call me embittered over the way Harry Redknapp used and abused my beloved football club but I’m trying to keep an open mind. One thing that can’t be denied is that Harry Redknapp has arguably the best press of any manager in England due to the fact no-one dares criticise the Spurs manager. When a brave hardened (or more likely a young naive) journalist tries to say that harry might have made a mistake or two they get a roasting and promptly are never seen or heard from again in any capacity surrounding Harry Redknapp.

For example a journalist tried to question the end to Spurs’ season after they meandered their way down the stretch and instead of making the Champions League they only managed to make it into the Europa League. They had the squad and the fixtures to claim a top four spot but they failed to do so. When posed with that question Redknapp retorted that the fans had seen the club have its best ever season and they everyone should be extremely proud of what they achieved. Now I’m not sure but considering Spurs have won both domestic championships and silverware both at home and on the continent then isn’t that a better performance than finishing fifth in the top flight and making the last eight of the Champions League where in all honesty they got torn apart by a far superior Real Madrid side?

Of course it is but we can’t be thinking that. Not when Harry Redknapp is the manager. Now the end of the Spurs season was a mess. The club should have done better but these things happen. However there seems to be a bit of an issue with the wage bill at Spurs and the chairman would prefer to move a few out before bringing in any. This isn’t exactly how Harry likes to do things. At Portsmouth he jumped ship the moment the purse strings were drawn shut. The club still hasn’t recovered and whilst I’m not putting the blame solely at our former manager (the likes of Peter Storrie and Sasha Gaydamak deserve just as much, if not more blame for allowing such reckless spending) it should be noted that similar things are happening at Spurs.

Failure to reach the Champion League is a blow both in terms of prestige for the club but far more troublesome is the money aspect. The club will have budgeted for a deep run in the competition and the money they receive from the Europa League is chicken feed in comparison. So Redknapp has a problem with bringing in who he likes so needs something to help make the chairman bend over backwards to accommodate him and what is better than a more lucrative position at a bigger club?

Chelsea need a manager and for all his pitfalls I will not deny that Harry Redknapp is both a good tactician and an extremely good motivator. However his biggest weaknesses are a bargain and believing in his team if he really doesn’t think that they can win. I saw him on umpteen occasions because throw a game by not picking the best team in games he saw as problematic. That wouldn’t be much of an issue at Chelsea and it would actually be extremely interesting to see him go there.

If he did go there then that would surely end the speculation of him landing the England job wen Fabio leaves in 2012 which looks likely so if Chelsea does come calling then it will be a dilemma. Choose the chance to really compete for the title or stick with a Spurs team where the purse strings are tighter than my wallet. The bigger question though is whether or not Chelsea have any interest. They have been extremely quiet on the matter and is Roman really willing to spend £15million on Redknapp (the fee Daniel Levy has apparently put on Redknapp’s head) and give him the open cheque book he would desire?

I am skeptical. This smells of a Redknapp manipulated media storm to me but maybe – just maybe – I am just one bitter Portsmouth fan at the end of the day.

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Lewis Hamilton openly hints at racism in F1

Oh boy Lewis. Honestly when you look at your remarks in the cold light of day you’ll cringe and what’s more your future in the sport might now be in peril. That might seem way over the top for what might be seen in some quarters as a jokey remark but it was clear from his tone that he wasn’t joking. He fully believes that he has been unfairly targeted by the F1 stewards because he isn’t white and not because he’s a thug on the race track who believes he has the right to barge people out of the way.

Speaking to BBC F1’s Lee McKensie after the race the McLaren driver fumed, “It’s an absolute frickin’ joke.”

“I’ve been to see the stewards five times out of six this season.”

When Lee McKensie pressed Hamilton on why he felt the stewards were picking on him, the McLaren driver retorted: “Maybe it’s because I’m black.”

Hamilton then added, as if to make light of his previous remark: “That’s what Ali G says.”

You can watch the interview in full on the BBC Sport website

Now I know it is one remark but what is clear to me is that Hamilton has brought the sport into disrepute. He has openly not just criticised the team (which many drivers do) but has openly questioned whether the sport is played on a level playing field and that if you aren’t part of the in club then you aren’t excepted. This seems unlikely considering how many different drivers have raced in F1 from all matter of nationalities and ethnic backgrounds and no-one to my knowledge has ever hinted at racism in the sport.

On the BBC F1 broadcast both commentators Martin Brundle and David Coulthard believed both incidents in today’s race were worthy of penalties. Once the bar had been set when Paul Di Resta decided that the car in front should be used as a brake at the hairpin then it seemed relatively obvious that his two incidents were worthy of penalties too. Many other drivers have seen penalties this season for causing an avoidable accident.

Lewis Hamilton has always come across as a bit of a baby when things don’t go his way but to drop in a hint of racism is inexcusable even in the heat of the moment. An apology better be swift or Lewis may well find himself not being allowed to race for a weekend and that would seriously piss him off. He has been nurtured at McLaren since pre-teenage years but they don’t seem to have been able to teach him how to deal with the media. He is fast becoming the biggest whiner on the grid and considering some of the other drivers on the said grid then that is quite an achievement.

No doubt nothing major will happen to him but at some point McLaren will think that the talent they are getting is not worth the hassle and the FIA themselves may not tolerate too much more of this kind of behaviour.

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Nick Clegg is pissing off the Tories on the NHS. I’m not complaining and nor should the electorate.

When you wake up in the morning to the top political heading in the Guardian being Nick Clegg angers Tories with new delay to NHS reforms you have to think that it is a good sign. Finally the Lib Dems in cabinet and most notably Nick Clegg have realised something – that the public need to publicly see that they are not doormats.

The public have made it clear that they are panicked on any changes to the NHS. Now the NHS needs to evolve so changes will have to be made but if the changes that are made do not include privatisation and selling off the juicy parts of the NHS to private companies then the public will breathe a sigh of relief. The selling off of national interests is not a good thing long term and when it comes to the nation’s health then we all have a tonne of interest.

The NHS might just be the greatest ‘invention’ of the 20th Century for Brits. The core principles that it meet the needs of everyone, that it be free at the point of delivery and that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay are vital. If private companies were able to cherry-pick services then whilst it would still meet those principles it would not be viable as the investment in the non-profitable sectors of the NHS would not be there.

Big decisions don’t happen overnight and they need to be discussed at length and not just by suits in an office – by the people that matter. I did a google search for NHS and saw this story in the Daily Mail entitled Clegg ignites Tory mutiny on health: Don’t let him derail NHS reforms, MPs urged. To save you going to the Daily Mail and infecting your machines with bile I shall copy and paste the best bit:

‘An email circulated to every Tory MP urged them to ‘make our views heard at the top of Government so that the debate is not monopolised by others’.

‘It calls on MPs to tell ministers that the Bill contains a series of ‘red lines’ which cannot be negotiated away to the Lib Dems.’

Now I’m no math major as the American’s would say but I’m pretty sure that the Tories cannot push through any bill without the support of their coalition partners. That is y’know why there is a coalition. If the Tories were able to push through anything they wanted then they would have no need for the Lib Dems. So it seems that certain backbenchers are still not smart enough to work out that 306 into 650 is not more than 50%.

The Lib Dems hold the balance of power and whilst in many ways they have done well behind the scenes – publicly they have been seen as doing naff all to stop the rampaging Tories. Time to get those guns out Nick (I’m talking muscles here) and flex them. We can stop anything becoming law and if things are not right then stop them. The coalition is not about making sure everyone is happy – it is about doing the right thing for the country and if this NHS Bill is not right then it needs to be re-written and submitted again.

We always said we could do more in power than we could in opposition and stopping bad changes is just as important as pushing through good changes. Yes it is all a balance but sometimes you just need to stick your fork into the ground and the NHS is far more important to this country than free university tuition for all so this is the time to say enough’s enough.

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Winning elections on a local level – what the Lib Dems need to do

I was at a meeting of the local Lib Dems on Monday night and someone brought up an excellent point. In the ward he was campaigning in, an independent ran on a single-issue based specially for that ward. It was is an area with many bedsits and she wanted to implement a Landlord safety scheme to ensure that all Landlord’s are registered and if they didn’t act correctly then they would be struck off. Now her idea wasn’t really implementable but that didn’t matter – it attracted votes. Whilst she didn’t win, she got significant support and got more than double the votes of the Lib Dem candidate for a 22% share of the vote. This resonated with me that local elections in a normal situation can be influenced by very specific local issues.

This is something that the Lib Dems have been extremely successful with in the past. Listening to what people want on the ground and working for them. This election was slightly different because of the backlash due to national concerns but that will pass and the next local elections in 2012 should be played on a more even keel without Lib Dem hate.

So what to do? Well first of all the Lib Dems need to be pounding the streets at all times of year and not just for the month before an election. Speak to people. Find out exactly what is important to them on a local level. Where I live independents have swung on to the council as part of a local housing association who opposed a big housing development. Again a single-issue party in the main but it has struck home across the eastern wards of Southend East. They are basically opposing any development that would change the status quo and that is going down well with the majority of the people here.

Now I’m not saying that is what the Lib Dems have to do at a local level but the better we know people’s concerns then the better we can formulate a plan to win seats on councils. If the biggest concern on a local level was how much people hate the foreigners then we aren’t going to make inroads as that is polar-opposite to where we stand. However if we find out that in a specific ward that the biggest concern is something that we can back then it should be front and centre of that campaign on a local level.

It isn’t rocket science and that is the way the party has run for eons but the feeling from people I speak with is that in the past year people within the party have listened to advisers more than people on the doorstep. I firmly believe that 2011 will the low point of the party result wise for the foreseeable future and that our (belated) stance against the NHS Bill will play out well in the court of public opinion. The wider-public do not care at the moment about fairer votes and green issues – they care about jobs and foreigners – and whilst one is fair the other is depressing. However that will change and as the economy recovers people’s ideals and bones of contention will change.

Most people will not have a scooby doo who their local councillor is. They only hear from them three or four times a year and many of them whilst toddling off to the polling booth to mark their polling card will not bother to find out who won. So they do care that much but if they hear from an activist or candidate say four to six times throughout the year and build up a rapport then they will remember that and will lean that way unless they are entrenched in a political camp. So the way to win is work hard, pound the pavements and listen to people. If the party does that then the doom and gloom of 2011 will be consigned to the rear-view mirror.

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Cheryl Cole axed by Simon Cowell on US X Factor – what next?

In a way I hate myself that I am writing a full-on blog on the subject. In another way…no wait I still hate myself. So Cheryl Cole is out after the first round of auditions in Los Angeles because of concerns over her accent and her lack of chemistry with Paula Abdul. Hands up who didn’t foresee these problems? I notice no hands in the air.

One person who did foresee this issue was Simon Cowell clearly. He wanted to give Cheryl her shot as he thought she deserved it but isn’t it lucky that Nicole Scherzinger was already employed by the show to be a co-host with Simon Jones? Everyone and their mother knew that the show didn’t need co-hosts so it was clear from the off that she was there in case Cheryl didn’t work out and if there is one thing we know about Simon Cowell is that he is ruthless and will put the show before individuals.

The story – first reported by TMZ is only a surprise in that after taking so long to get Cheryl in, it only took one round of auditions to get her out. She was a star on the UK version of the show but her departure means that only Simon Cowell has migrated to the US version of the show full-time after a decision was made not to hire Dermot O’Leary for the presenters job. I don’t think Louis Walsh or Dannii Minogue were ever serious candidates. Can you imagine Louis Walsh on US prime-time? That would have been mildly amusing. He and Paula could have shared the limelight for most insane judge.

So now the question is out there as to whether or not Cheryl rejoins the UK show. There is no doubt that if she wants a seat on the UK version that she’ll be offered it but she will no doubt feel scorned big time by Cowell and the show itself. The UK version just seems to be collapsing in gravitas and I suspect ITV are more than a little bit scared by it all. Louis Walsh will return and be joined by Gary Barlow. Kelly Rowland and Tulisa from N-Dubz had been lined up to round out the panel but should Cheryl want one of those two seats then she would have it and a decision would need to be made.

Cheryl has every right to be furious but this is a huge moment in her career. If she leaves The X Factor family then her profile will collapse and she’ll disappear into the background. She owes an immense amount to Cowell and The X Factor as without it her career would never have blossomed to the level that she finds it at today. So it is time to lick her wounds and swiftly return to the UK version of the show. I know that is easy to say from outside as if I were in her shoes I’d chuck it all in but being outside gives perspective and hopefully her advisers are doing that right now.

Makes a change from writing about Ken Clarke…

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Things I think I think – IV

Carrying on with my occasional/more than occasional column for all those little tidbits that do not warrant their own blog post. I have called it ‘Things I think I think’. Today we have a bit of everything.

*The international cricketing summer has started today and it is raining in Cardiff. No huge surprise but there but I thing I think I think is that Sky’s cricket coverage might be the best coverage of any sport I watch. The pundits are allowed to have an opinion and genuinely discuss them. It isn’t forced and they all work terrifically well with one another. Just now Athers was saying how he thought having different captain’s in all forms of the game with Nasser and Lord Gower disagreeing. Worth watching and listening to unlike many pundits who all agree and don’t want to say anything controversial.

*The Apprentice last night. Not a great episode and I had no feeling for anyone who saw the boardroom but I do think that Leon is a tit. The show was about beauty therapies and he seemed to think that by being involve he was losing his masculinity, ‘what if my girlfriend saw me wearing make-up?’ he whaled. You are on a TV show where you’ll be filmed doing embarrassing things and looking like an idiot. Wearing make-up (which everyone in TV does) is not something to get your back up over.

*Last night on the radio we played some excellent tunes. When you can get Beats International Dub Be Good To Me and Jean Michel Jarre’s Oxygene IV in the same show then you know you are on to a good thing. The show certainly misses Will though. He is always so upbeat. He’ll be back next week.

*I resisted for so many years getting a posh phone but I love having the interweb at my fingertips even in bed. I asked my mum why I resisted for so long and she responded that it is because I am tight. Can’t really argue with that. However I am now fully a convert. Being addicted to the interweb like I am being online even when not sitting in front of my PC or laptop certainly gets a thumbs up from me.

*There are some reports out there linking Larry Brown with the Penn State Men’s Basketball job. Now that would be quite something. Imagine JoePa and Larry Brown on the same campus? I find it extremely unlikely that it’ll happen considering that Tim Curley seems to care little about Basketball but it is fun to dream.

*I saw this video on YouTube yesterday which confirms that Joel will be the driver of Dominator 2 this year. I know a lot of people aren’t a big fan of Joel’s but I think it showed in the 2009 season that when he wasn’t the driver the team did not do nearly as well. He is a fine driver and storm chaser in his own right so to carry on working with Reed and Chris is how it should be. The new series of StormChasers is set for UK TV in October on Discovery.

*The news that QPR are putting up Season Tickets by average of 40% says everything about the Premier League. I enjoyed it when we first got up there as it was fun to be in the big league but the novelty soon wears off. This season has been the one where I’ve had the least interest in football since I got into the sport what 20 odd years ago. The fact Pompey’s owners are not exactly seen in the best lights by certain people – i.e. me and the fact I’m not a fan of the manager either harms my love of both my club and the sport in general. The Ashes winter was without a doubt the highlight of my sporting year with football not really faring too well.

*Looking forward to Sunday. The Monaco GP is one of my favourites on the F1 calendar (with Canada and Brazil) so I’ll thoroughly enjoy that. Be interesting to see how the new rules help that race. The Indy 500 is also on the same day so I may well watch that as well.

*For those congratulating Jonathan Legard on winning a BAFTA and then using it against Martin Brundle need to grow up and that includes Charles Sale in the Daily Mail. BBC won the sport BAFTA at the National Television Awards for their coverage of last season’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix including race commentary from Jonathan Legard. Since them Legard has been scandalously removed from the commentary box. His replacements, Martin Brundle and David Coulthard, now do a rambling co-commentary with no feel for a crafted race narrative. said the columnist. Clearly he must be a friend of Legard’s as nearly every single person I speak to/read online says they prefer the Brundle/Coulthard partnership. I know I do as it is not faked and they don’t dumb anything down. The more they do the better they’ll get but without a doubt the best F1 commentary pair since Brundle joined Murray Walker in the box in 1997.

*Oh and a three-day weekend. I keep forgetting. Hopefully I won’t forget on Monday!

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