A Far Fetched Resolution

I’ll tell you what happens with impossible promises. You start with far-fetched resolutions. They are then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, you go through the years sticking to that, out-dated, misplaced, irrelevant to the real needs, and you end up in the grotesque chaos of a Labour council, a Labour council hiring taxis to scuttle round the city handing out redundancy notices to its own workers. I’ll tell you.. You can’t play politics with people’s jobs and with people’s services.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Come on Cameron - what have you got to hide?

Less than 6 months as leader and Cameron's already squirming...

He's finally (a week late) revealed the lenders to the Conservative Party (totalling £16 million quid - a fair whack more than Labour got).

But oh, what's this? There's another £5 million we aren't allowed to know about...because it's been paid back!

Oh, well that's ok then. The loan, you see, has been paid back. So it's like it never happened.

What's that you say? You're not convinced? Funnily enough, niether am I. It's not like loans aren't supposed to be paid back or anything is it?

And I'm starting to get very interested in this. See, this loan was last year - and therefore not when Cameron was leader. It's perfectly credible that he knew nothing about it at the time. So if it was all going to be something a bit minor then fair enough, surely. He could just say "ooops, sorry, bit of a mistake, not on my watch".

But for the new leader ( who could easily wash his hands of it - or at least point at Labour and say "they're just as bad") to be this worried that he's prepared to take the flak for refusing to disclose it, then blimey, it must be good!

Unless he's just stalling in the hope it'll all blow over and he can go back to the same source for more?

Watch this space I reckon.

Journalists are (sometimes) really stupid

From today's guardian

"Student debt doubles as top-up fees hit poorest (Matthew TaylorFriday March 31, 2006)"

"Student debt has doubled over the last six years and students from poorer families are suffering most, according to government research published yesterday.
Final year students averaged £7,918 debt at the end of their course and students from poor homes averaged £9,842, according to the survey of 3,700 undergraduates and trainee teachers at 88 universities and colleges in England and Wales.
Top-up fees were considered a key factor, and increasing numbers need help from their families.
From this autumn students will be charged £3,000 a year, more than double what most pay now."

Look at the bulk of the article. You'd read that and think that Top-up fees were causing all that student debt wouldn't you? ( "Top-up fees were considered a key factor", "top up fees hit poorest")

But the read the first three words of the last paragraph...."From this autumn"...

Can you spot the really obvious flaw here?

Actually if anything this article presents quite a good argument FOR the reforms. If the poorest students are struggling to meet their living costs under the existing system, increasing student loans and giving them grants and bursaries might be considered helpful. I'd have thought.

I also wonder who Matthew meant when he said "were considered a key factor". Considered by whom? Which educational expert did he find to tell him that top up fees had caused existing graduates to be in more debt? Or did he just make it up?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Meanwhile...in the real world.

Whilst yet again the media-ocracy are raging at the failure of the democratically elected government of the day to topple at their every whim...

...in the real world, the real government confirms a 6% pay rise for the lowest paid in society, and a 10% pay rise for the lowest paid 16 & 17 year olds.

But anyway, back to the really important stuff, did you hear the one about the government who introduced tough new laws on political party finance and then stuck to them, to the letter?

I know, terrible isn't it.

It's almost as bad as taking bribes for asking questions in parliament. Almost as bad as lying on oath. Almost as bad as covering for your mates when they sell arms to dictatorships. Almost as bad as getting your 17 year old daughter to perjure herself to save your political skin. Almost as bad as denying you've given gifts from fugitive millionnaires when, you kind of have.

Almost, but not quite.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Back by popular demand...

Here he is....contemplating a bit of a jump. Wondering if his tired old legs will hold his ample frame.

Silly moggy. Shouldn't have climbed up in the first place.

(Click image to see full size.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Readers' letters

We always appreciate feedback - and we'll attempt to reply to all your letters. ;-)

From XXXXXXX@wXXkersliberty.XXX

> Pickles,
> I just read your blog. Don't you think it's a bit sad that you devote a
> large part of your life to attacking "Trots" - to the extent of
> celebrating Trotsky's murder by a Stalinist assassin! - but are not only
> too afraid to debate us, but too afraid to even email to tell us you
> won't.
> Vicious whispering campaigns and performing for your mates is so much
> easier than actually squaring up, isn't it?

& My reply:


I've been a bit busy what with finals and so on, so I haven't responded to you. I would, as I told you in my previous email, be delighted to debate you or one of your Comrades. I've raised the possibility of holding such a debate with next term's Labour Club co-chairs and I believe they are considering it. I will let you know their response.

As I mentioned on my blog the timing you suggested was not ideal and I would prefer later in term, maybe 7th or 8th week since both finals and the local elections are my priorities (and in the case of the latter the club's too).

A slightly archaic debate about marxism has never been something to thrill regular members of the club in the run up to exciting local elections- even though me and you might like nothing better. I think [The outgoing Labour Club Chair] would agree that for the minority who do find that fascinating, this term just gone has given them ample to chew over in the coming weeks.

As regards my blog you have prompted me to undertake a little statistical exercise (I've counted my blog posts) and work out what subject areas I have covered. This is more for my amusement than anything else but I may post it on there.

For your information I have posted 24 times thus far.

Subjects covered include:

Blogging - 2 post
My Cat - 1 post
David Cameron and the Conservative Party - 5 posts
Dick Cheney - 2 posts
The Liberal Democrats (including Liverpool City Council) - 2 posts
The Alliance for Workers Liberty (including invite to a debate and their silly
website) - 2 posts
John Prescott - 1 post
Jewishness- 1 post
Freedom of Speech (Cartoons) - 1 post
Comedy mis-types - 2 posts
Music/pop - 1 post
Journalists/Student Tuition fees -1 post
Oxford University Labour Club elections - 1 post
Alan Woods/meeting my first real Militant - 1 post
Top 5 Least Favourite Trotskyists (in response to a discussion started by
readers of another post) - 1 post

Of these 24, Trotskyists are mentioned in 4 posts as the main subject matter and 1 in passing. In 4 out of those 5 cases this was because I was reporting on my activities in the Labour Club where I have been spending some of my evenings away from revision. This is barely 1 in 6 posts.

I don't see this as disproportionate. In the past few weeks I have met a Trotskyist for every post of my blog about Trotskyists. In that time I have met very few Tories, not counting the several I will have met in libraries or on the bus and so on without knowing. But yet I have posted more about them both in terms of number of posts and in terms of content. That is because they are the real enemy here.

If you don't want me to talk about Trotskyists, to the extent that I do, then tell your Trotskyist friends to stop trying to infiltrate my Labour Club.

In the meantime you will be delighted to know that the club is in good hands over coming terms. I am assured that an inclusive, campaigning freshers drive with lots of social and other activities to keep bringing new young people into the Labour Party and making them feel welcome is in preparation as we speak.

I for one am delighted that our club is in for a good couple of terms and I'm sure you'll join me in wishing them luck. I know that [The outgoing Labour Club Chair] hasn't yet found the time to do so - but I'm sure that's just worry over [His girl friend's] election tomorrow.



P.S. As regards vicious whispering campaigns I have no idea what you mean. I would be interested in hearing more - but as I suspect this is another one of your vicious whispering campaigns then I suspect you won't be telling me.

Monday, March 13, 2006

For those bored at work...(or in the library)

1. Name of band/artist: Blur
2. Are you male or female?: Charmless Man
3. Describe yourself: Country Sad Ballad Man
4. How do you feel about yourself? Tender
5. Describe your ex girlfriend/boyfriend: Fool
6. Describe current girlfriend/boyfriend: She’s So High
7. Describe where you want to be: Country House
8. Describe how you live: Parklife
9. Describe how you love: There’s no other way
10. What would you ask for if you had just one wish? Coffee & TV
11. Share a few words of wisdom: Look Inside America
12. Now say goodbye: Death of a Party

Via Bloggers for Labour - just pick a band and answer the questions with song titles. Don't normally post these type of games but this one was a bit classier.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Tipsy in the snow

Sent to me by my mother from Liverpool - he's getting on a bit (17 in May!) so i'm a bit concerned that he's mucking around in the cold. But then he looks so cute in the snow...
Basically just testing out how to post pictures...

Tipsyinsnow Originally uploaded by danielamokachi12.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The future's bright

Just a quick congratulations to all of the Labour Club people who got elected at the OULC termly general meeting on Thursday. I popped along to add my vote to the many who turned out to get the club out of the doldrums of this term.

A turnout of over 80 was the highest of the millenium - and all the right candidates won the big positions, with Emily and simon setting themselves up for a fantastic freshers term in charge.

The incoming team is probably one of the most talented and dynamic in years - and the most politically right-on too. But the defeated candidates in most of the elections were also assets to the club - if only some of the outgoing executive would let them alone to find their own way. (the same goes some of the old lefties who've been making life difficult for genuine hard-working sensible Labour people since I was around first time...)

All in, my old Alma Mater has a bright Labour future. Which has given me a nice cheerful end to the term - and means I can look back with smug satisfaction whilst I continue my lonely struggle with the libraries of Oxford.

Let's hope most of those people can be out on doorsteps in the coming weeks to give the Lib Dems a good whooping, like the immature left got a whooping on Thursday. A fair and friendly election internally is the kind of bracing introduction to election season the club needed.

It's now time to unite & fight. ;-) Good luck to all.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Alan Woods bottles it...

Rumour has it that Alan Woods of Marxism.com has pulled out of coming along to the Labour Club tomorrow.

That's such a shame. I was very much looking forward to meeting my very first real, proper "Militant". Or almost my first. I've met a fair few ex-Millies in Liverpool over the years but never someone who actually came out and admitted it. Until Friday, post John Smith Memorial Dinner (cheers to Jo for the pictures).

Post-dinner we all decamped to Escape bar (so-named I believe for the yearning it induces in those who enter) . Whilst I attempted to get a round of drinks in a woman called Emma who had been at the dinner, and who seemed to be spoiling for a row after rather too much port, accosted me.

My memory of the "debate" is a bit fuzzy but I do remember it really kicked off when I wholeheartedly agreed with an OULC comrade of ours that revolutionary Marxists had no place in our Party or our Labour Club.

She seemed outraged by this arguing (with staggering audacity): "Well I'm a member of Militant - do you think I belong in the club?"

What really shocked me was that she was surprised by my reaction. What shocked me even more was when she emailed me the next day to apologise for her behaviour.

I didn't tell her what my blog was called. But I'm pleased to have got certain things off my chest - especially now that I know that Alan Woods has bottled it.

P.S. And she's from Sheffield - and argued that the city of Blunkett & co was an example of exactly how things go badly when you don't have a militant-run council. Words fail me.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Pickles in an [Ice-]pickle...oooh what to do!

Pickles has been invited by a micro Trot-sect to discuss some of the concerns that he and others raised with Daniel Randall at his University Labour Club in a set piece debate in mid/late April.

The meeting was going to be hosted by the Alliance for "Workers" Liberty - but they have now offered a neutral platform to debate the issues.

The title of the debate, which is yet to be set would be on the topic of marxism and the Labour Party. Whilst Pickles would love to go along and bring out some of the old 80s rhetoric he can't help but think that, in mid/late April there might be more pressing engagements...finals, actually winning the local elections ('Power without principle is barren, but principle without power is futile').

It was then or this coming Wednesday and Pickles wants to use all his energies making things difficult for Alan "Militant" Woods of Marxism.com when he comes to visit the Labour Club on Tuesday.

It seems Sven-Goran Engelsson who runs the club until next week is trying to go out with a bang. I'm sure we can provide him with one. I think I might try and get that redundancy notice my step-dad got back in '85, from a Labour council, (a Labour council!) and brandish it whilst questioning him.

Anyway - if anyone has any thoughts on where I might tell that ship of fools to stick their pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo if I do accept their kind offer of a debate please do pass them on.

Answers on a postcard...

My little throwaway comment on Daniel Randall being the everyones 6th favourite troskyist revolutionary seems to have got people talking....

Since I completely made it up and there currently aren't any top-ten lists of trotskyist revolutionaries, and since this site is so aptly named, I thought I would throw this out to the public at large. Please write in with your top five least favourite trotskyists. It's about time a site named after "That Speech" had such a competition.

(Please, nothing libellous and no threats of violence or anything.)

The winner will recieve ...the first bullet when we're all against the wall...

Can I make it clear that the relevant people should be members of actual trotskyist organisations secretly or otherwise.... It's not good enough to just shout "Trot" at someone who's a bit lefty.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Silence is golden

I've not posted in over a week.

It's partly because I've been really busy but it's also in protest. There's something about blogging which makes you feel as if you have to post almost daily, or at least every couple of days.

But what if you've just got nothing you want to share with the world?

I do have something I want to tell y'all - but it will now have to wait until after I've had my little battle with Nozick for the evening, or is it Hayek...I don't know. My class isn't til tomorrow so I've got loads of time to find out....haven't I?

Suffice to say that my friendly local university Labour Club where I'm currently enjoying the odd trip down memory lane, had a visit from everyone's 6th favourite trotskyist revolutionary,Daniel Randall the other day and he made me angry.