Thursday, June 29, 2006

A witty riposte?

The front cover of Time magazine, May 7, 1945. Although he had committed suicide on April 29th and German radio reported Hitler had died in battle on May 1, his death was widely presumed but not yet confirmed.
Copyright Time magazine, commentary Wikipedia.

Hitler and Chamberlain- the latter soon to be discussed by the
Conservative History Society (see post below 25/6/06)

About 6 years ago, during a stormy debate on the issues that an increasing number of asylum seekers raised for Southampton City Council, Labour Councillor Cllr Jacqueline Rayment, (then I believe a portfolio holder), accused a member of the Conservative group, Cllr Alec Samuels of being a Nazi, saying, "Are you related to Hitler, Councillor Samuels?".
As Alec is one of the most tolerant, thoughtful, long-serving and hard-working of local government politicians, as well as being a respected lawyer and academic, one would have perhaps expected him to be upset or have acted with outrage to this baseless slander. However, when asked of his reaction to this entirely unwarranted slur on his character, he commented with typical dignity that he preferred to stick to the issues. He added outside the meeting, to the Daily Echo, "In my view personal abuse reflects on the abuser not the abused. I'm interested in the substance of the matter rather than any personal matter which came up and shouldn't have done."
In fairness, I should add that Cllr Rayment later withdrew the remark.
I read the following quote the other day which is perhaps a little more racy, if not quite such an understated response to the same charge...
"I have often been called a Nazi, and, although it is unfair, I don't let it bother me. I don't let it bother me for one simple reason. No one has ever had a sexual fantasy about being tied to a bed and ravished by a liberal." PJ O'Rourke, Give War a Chance.

Cameron has the popular touch...

'its 5 to 1 on Cameron'

I've finally got round to watching David Cameron on The Jonathan Ross show (owning a pub means Fri night viewing is not an option!) and I thought he did quite well. Certainly it was not to paraphrase Lord Tebbitt a 'dreadful mistake'. As we have promised already Ming on the GMTV sofa opining about sport, doubtless Tony and Gordon will now want to get on the act.
Funnily enough the one who I thought came across as a little childish and slippery was Ross!
- showing the traits more commonly found in some politicians!
A news report on the show from the BBC can be found at for the pic- in fact thanks for all the pics- they are great!

Bromley by-election

thats better...another Lib-Dem whitewash...
The camera cannot lie...before and after the Lib-Dem clean up.

Bromley by-election

The Lib-Dems fight dirty, we all know that. At by-elections, as Conservative activists in Romsey and Eastleigh know only too well, they fight really dirty but for sheer brass neckvisit

As it is SO astounding, I have reproduced the whole post below:

Tomorrow I get the chance to vote. This is only the second time I have been able to do this and I take the responsibilty very seriously. As many of my readers will know, Bromley has been a conservative borough for quite a while now but since the death of Eric Forth our old MP almost every party going has decided to try and grab this constituency.I have had leaflets pouring through my door from UKIP, Conservatives, LibDems, Green, English Democrats etc. (Nothing from labour by the way!) As well as all the loners who thought they'd have a go because they have a politics degree and even...the Monster Raving Loony Party! I heard tonight that there is a group going under the original name of The New Party!Well.. the one person who has really been annoying me in the run up to the polls has been the LibDem candidate. His name is Ben Abbotts and like the rest of them he is brilliant at telling us how awful the other candidates are and rubbish at giving me any good reason why I should actually vote for him.5 Things about Ben Abbotts campaign that put me off:1. There has just been so much of it...I only need one leaflet, once, not three per day...I don't care that it's recycled is still stupidly excessive!2. The Chat style magazine we received with articles about him on EVERY SINGLE PAGE!3. The printed post-it note they stuck to afore mentioned magazine saying "Don't you think he would be great for Bromley" to make it look like one of my neighbours had posted it through my door!4. The printed blue letter on little bits of A5 paper made to look like it had been hand written and starting with the phrase Dear Neighbour! - Oh and the envelope with our address written on it by some little old lady in a factory somewhere!!!5. The vile orange and yellow boards boasting that he's "Winning it for Bromley" and using the England flag to trick us into being all patriotic just because world cup fever is around!So anyway....enough of the list of reasons... I might actually have voted for him...I mean despite all of those points, he seems keen, he lives locally (Not in Yorkshire like one of the candidates) and he does seem to know what he is talking about...if it hadn't been for this:BEN ABBOTTS REVEALED:This is the picture of Ben Abbotts cleaning graffiti...It is on his website, it was on one of his many campaign leaflets:
(Please see above- MD)

Hypocrisy rules, eh?

'Stoop lower Mr Whitehead, lower...'
Following some great research by Iain Dale, published on his blog, I have writtern the following letter to The Southern Daily Echo;

Dear Letters Editor,
Lib-Dem activists often get upset when I accuse some of their elected politicians of political opportunism. Well to ensure even-handedness I would like to draw your readers to the voting record of Southampton Test Labour MP Alan Whitehead regarding education.On Wednessday 29th June he voted for the Education Order to prohibit all academic selection in Northern Ireland. Yet on the 24 May (Hansard volume 446, number 157, cols. 1575-1579) he voted against a Labour backbench amendment to the Education and Inspections Bill to end all academic selection in English schools. Hypocrisy rules, eh?
Matthew Dean
Southampton Test Conservatives.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Southern Daily Echo News Release

Clive Betts (left) with Jose Gasparo, male escort and one-time parliamentary assistant
Picture Copyright Newsgroup Newspapers Ltd 2006.
I bumped into a Labour Party activist today who wasn't very happy about my reporting of Alan Whiteheads free tickets for the world-cup. Apparently the major issue is Whitehead himself didn't ask for them! Well I'm always happy to put the record straight!
Letter to local paper reproduced below;
Dear Letters Editor

Following the revelation that Mr. Alan Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test has been enjoying free football tickets and hospitality for the world cup from McDonald's, I have been asked to make a clarification.

In fact the tickets were obtained by Mr. Whitehead's friend and fellow Labour MP, Clive Betts in his capacity as Chairman of the Parliamentary Football Club and who Mr. Whitehead plays in goal for.

This is not Mr Betts first brush with controversy. Long-time Echo readers will recall Mr Betts was suspended from the House of Commons in July 2003 for his part in a bogus immigration application by his Brazilian male escort and lover that he then went onto employ as his parliamentary assistant.

Yours sincerely,

Matthew Dean

Officer without Portfolio
Southampton Test Conservative Association

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Putting the Zing back into Ming!

Well with a newly resurgent Conservative Party, the Lib-Dems are in trouble- and they know it. Perhaps a typical article chronicalling his woes was the one writtern by one-time Southampton Echo political reporter Brendan 'patch' Carlin (hasn't he done well by the way- can't see his successor but one David Newble scaling the dizzy heights of a national broadsheet but I guess you never know!) noting that 'lackluster Ming gives his party cause for concern'
(for the whole story click on;jsessionid=PXLH43TCIKL2ZQFIQMFCFFWAVCBQYIV0?xml=/news/2006/05/11/nlib11.xml )
Still we learn over the week-end that Gavin Grant the European public affairs manager at the leading PR firm Burson-Marsteller
( )
has been drafted in to give him a make-over.
Mr Grant is a former Liberal Democrat candidate who has built an international reputation in public affairs. We are told his CV stresses in particular his skill in both reputation and crisis management...
but is it really Mings problems at PMQs that have led to this? I think that the Lib-Dem dilemma goes far deeper than that- after the shambles of their leadership election, I think that some sections of the British public began to see the poverty of talent in the Lib-Dems parliamentary party. Huhne was clearly totally unsuitable to those who have seen him in close up (see post below), Oaten and Hughes were both disgraced. With the honorable exceptions of David Laws and an aging Vince Cabel, who else could serve at the Cabinet table?
Further the local elections have shown that as the Conservatives broaden their appeal, the Lib-Dems are deeply vunerable. It is only a surprise to Conservatives such as myself that is has taken us so long to turn the tide.
Perhaps Mr Campbell has the hardest job in British politics. Tomorrow's PMQs and the forthcoming by-election in Eric Forth's old seat may just pile on the agony.

The 100 people who are screwing up Britain

'And now Mr. Bond/Burns, prepare to be beaten...'
(delete as applicable...)

Following 'The 100 PEOPLE WHO ARE SCREWING UP AMERICA ' Iain Dale is toying writing a British equivalent- 'The 100 PEOPLE WHO ARE SCREWING UP BRITAIN'.
(You can find details at
He asks to nominate candidates for a British version. His suggestions include Tracey Emin, Peter Mandelson, Trisha Goddard, Polly Toynbee, Will Self, Jack McConnell and Lord Falconer. The only qualification is that they have to be alive and have some relevance to Britain today and he stipulates that they can be from any part of British society, media, industry, culture and politics.
Well my first candidate would be Chris Huhne Eastleigh Lib-Dem MP, millionaire (who claimed on newsnight not to know how much he was worth!), London resident (who claims to live in Eastleigh, at least at election time!), Southamton FC supporter (who has in the past claimed to support 2 other clubs!), Europhile (who published his views supporting the single European currency then later argued for a referendum!) and producer of Lib-Dem literature paid for by EU money that is currently being investigated. Oh yes, current Lib-Dem environment spokesman who is in favour of much higher green taxes, for example on cars.
It is not just his policies and indeed the direction that he is attempting to take his party in that I object to- it is the arrogance that I have seen him show towards some of his constituents and his political opponents and also his endless negative campaigning. When people say they find politics and politicians a turn off, often it is because of some of the traits Mr Huhne has a tendency to display in spades.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Ming the Merciless

Would YOU want to work for these muppets?
I don't know why but I remember being rather surprised a few years ago when a then Councillor Bill Kearns told me that local Southampton Labour MP Alan Whitehead was looking for a team of people (or at least one or two good people) to help him with his casework and that he didn't pay them- not even ex's. There was I thinking that was what his parliamentary allowances were for!
Well it seems that everyone is at it- look at this ad from Ming- he doesn't want much does he? If anyone would like to come and work for free in my business, I would be delighted to hear from them...
3283/Parliamentary Intern , for Sir Menzies Campbell MP (North East Fife)

SALARY-None, but reasonable travel expenses within London will be paid
HOURS- While this is a voluntary position, we are ideally looking for an applicant prepared to work full time from 9-6.
PAY: None, but travel expenses within London will be paid.
COMMITMENT: While there is no binding contract, we are looking for someone intending to stay in the position for at least three months (and preferably up to 6) to allow time for security clearance and getting to know the position.
(Thanks to Guido Fawkes for the pics)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Reputation of Neville Chamberlain

Chamberlain (top) and the historian John Charmley
I see from that the next speaker meeting of the Conservative History Group will be held on Tuesday 18 July at 6.30pm in the Boothroyd Room of the House of Commons. The subject will be "The Reputation of Neville Chamberlain". The speakers are Robert Self and Professor John Charmley. I have seen John Charmley in action before- in a Times sponsored debate with Alan Clarke, Lord Blake and Andrew Roberts about 10 years ago and he was brilliant. His books Churchill- The End of Glory and Churchill's Grand Alliance are two of the best writtern and thought provoking, not to say controversial of the entire Churchill publishing industry so it should be quite a night!
Some great discussions on his work and other prominant historians can be found at the website

I have to admit that I have not come across Robert Self before but his CV and research interests detailed at and seem pretty impressive.
Now I guess that I ought to join the society!

Burger-gate and the man that is Clive Betts MP

Picture courtesy of although no mention of the information below is to be found on the site's biog section or come to that elsewhere!

One of defenses Whitehead has deployed to the local press over accepting the free tickets to the world cup is that he personally didn't ask for them- so thats all right then!
In fact that particular honor, according to the Mail on Sunday, goes to Clive Betts, the MP for Sheffield Attercliffe, a very safe Labour seat (for more info on the constituency visit
Mr Betts is also Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Football Club and it is in this capacity that he obtained the tickets.
It is not the first time that Mr Betts has been involved in serious controversy- in July 2003 he was suspended from the House of Commons for his part in a bogus immigration application by a Brazililian male escort who happened to be, yes, you guessed it, his lover. Co-incidentally (or perhaps not...) this was the same male prostitute that he then went onto employ as his parliamentary assistant.
Outed by The Sun newspaper while holidaying in Venice, the paper revealed that he loaned the lad £4000 which Mr Betts explained were to 'help with his tuition fees' - history does not as yet record if that sum has been repaid. The Sun's main beef was that Mr Betts should not have applied for a security pass allowing his former escort to walk unescorted around the Palace of Westminster. By doing so the paper alledged that he was undermining Parliament and breaching the MPs' code of conduct.
The usually toothless Commons Standards and Privileges Committee agreed and found that the MP had acted 'extremely foolishly' in photocopying a forged document which his lover was using to extend his stay in the UK. They furthecriticizeded his role in trying to obtain the security pass.
In typical New Labour style, Clive noted that it was what he described with typical understatement as a little, "error of judgment" and he apologized to Parliament. He went on to claim that because he had admitted everything (after The Sun had threatened to expose him!) and that because he had asked the Complaints Committee to investigate, that the matter was effectively closed.

Many thanks to Chris Palmer for his information in the writing of this post.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

David Miliband's Forty Grand...

I have reproduced the image above from
I wonder how much the site cost to put up, paid for by his local Labour Party and Thompsons Solicitors?
I have come across some shocking wastes of government money in my time but David Miliband's £40,000 blog, funded by public money is one of the best (or worst depending upon your mindset!) Read all about it at
Fair play to Chris Huhne MP who apparently found out the information- as a former Lib-Dem MP the hapless Mr Huhne knows all about wasting public money!
To see Miliband's blog go to
and for an amusing graphic go to

Councillor Mark Cooper

My old friend... (or nemesis!)
Picture above reproduced from
as over the next few months I plan to add some posts on
  • Political donations,
  • Romsey politics and the ethics and judgement of
  • Cllr. Mark Cooper- my one-time political opponent!
In the interim, I would merely advise Cllr Cooper that when in a glasshouses...
Copyright- Romsey Advertiser News
Tories refuse to hand back developer's donation

Councillor, Mark Cooper, (bid) to get Test Valley Borough Council to cut the reserve housing allocation for Abbotswood (off Romsey's Woodley Lane) from 800 to 500 have been defeated.
The first of those attempts came at a meeting of the Borough executive at Andover last Wednesday when it was lost by four votes to three.
And when he went back to Andover to renew his call at a meeting of the full council on Friday, he complained that nine of the Conservative councillors voting the new homes through were members of the Romsey Conservative Association which had received a "large cash donation" from one of the developers.

He also made a dramatic call for the money to be handed back to the Perbury Group, which donated it, and suggested that the cash had landed the nine with a financial interest which they should have declared, he suggested.
And he said at the Council meeting: "The public has a right to be concerned that developers are giving cash donations to a political party during the evolution of a Borough plan; a plan that has the task of fingering land for future housing development.
"If Tory councillors continue to back 800 at Abbotswood they are either ignorant of public opinion or arrogant enough to think it doesn't matter.
"If they back 500 it will show they are not influenced by the developer's contribution. Whatever number they vote for, it would be better for the reputation of the planning system and this council to return the cash in order to remove the collective bad taste in the mouth that this issue has created."
But in answer to his complaint, the council's legal officer, Susan Tovey, said declaring an interest was "entirely a matter for the individual councillor."
Now Cllr Cooper is considering making a complaint to the Standards Board.
He said after the meeting: "It was something I wanted to steer clear of, but I am being advised that I should consider lodging a complaint."
In making his initial call for the 300-house cut, at the executive meeting, Councillor Cooper said: "The Inspector who dealt with the Borough Plan said in his report that the Abbotswood site is one that is cherished by many local residents'. I urge the Executive to recognise the value that local residents place on this site.
"The Inspector admits that development, whether at 500 or at 800 dwellings, will harm the site but that such harm could be mitigated by landscaping and tree planting, particularly with the use of banking and substantial screening by way of tree buffers, by good design and attention to detail."
He was supported by Councillor Sally Leach who said that 800 dwellings could only be fitted on the site by achieving very high densities of between 40 and 45 per hectare. "Such densities are appropriate for brownfield sites in or near town centres but are hardly appropriate for an edge of town location," she said.
But Conservative Councillor Peter Boulton, who is the new environment and health Portfolio holder, said: "Eight hundred is the figure we have to go for. The developer will go for 800 even if we say 500."
Three Conservatives missed the vote on Abbotswood. Council Leader Ian Carr is away on a cruise, while deputy leader Martin Hatley and Mrs Caroline Nokes declared an interest and left the room.
On January 5 this year, Mrs Nokes, told the Council that her "fighting fund had received a large donation". The Test Valley interest book shows that Mrs Nokes had confirmed by e-mail that Romsey Conservative Association had received a donation from the Perbury Group.
Following last Friday's meeting, Romsey Conservative Association chairman, Alex Briggs, said: "Perbury Group made donation last December in response to the Chancellor's pre-budget report, which indicated higher taxation on development, specifically to fund the campaign for the next General Election.
"We are intending to use the money to assist the campaign of our parliamentary candidate Caroline Nokes, who declared the interest at the first available opportunity and has taken no part in discussions pertaining to this site since. It is a matter of public record that Caroline had prior to that point voted against housing development on this site."
10:05am Friday 9th June 2006
I am looking forward to writing about some of the issues the above article raises.

Labour's Chameleon backfires!

I saw this great pic of 'Dave the Chameleon' on the site
which if double clicked on (on their site, my IT skills arn't that good!) takes you to the official Conservative Party site
I have no idea if this is an 'official image' but this must be the first time a Labour Party political broadcast and subsequent campaign has actually probably lost them more votes than it has gained them to the Conservatives! The message seems to be Dave the Chameleon listens and changes, Tony Blair just ploughs on regardless!
To watch the party political broadcasts, download great screensavers, ringtones, wallpaper and exclusive Dave the Chameleon merchandise why not log onto the official Labour site ?
its great!
There is no way that Mandleson would have let anything so inept go out when he was in charge of Labours public relations.
A detailed briefing on the 'Dave the Chameleon' campaign can be found at


He's lovin' it...

Prime Minister Blair yesterday pledged that getting the 350 disappointed British pupils- including children from the South Coast- back out to Germany to watch another game was "something we need to work on" following an alleged ticket scam.

Following on from the scandal of Burgergate where members of the parliamentary football club such as Southampton Labour MP Alan Whithead were given free tickets by corporate sponsor McDonalds, he should ask them to donate their tickets for the remaining games and suggest they get back to parliament and do some work...

Jonathan Aitken

'If it falls to me to start a fight to cut out the cancer of bent and twisted journalism in our country with the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play, so be it.'Jonathan Aitken launching his libel action in 1997.

I am thrilled that Jonathan Aitken has accepted my invitation to speak on Wed 26th July at a literary diner that I am organising at The Duke of Wellington in Bugle Street in Southampton. Tickets are avalible at £28.50 and include a three course meal and coffee. Jonathan is a most entertaining speaker and as he will be speaking about people he knows in politics, business and public life, it should be quite a night!
For further details, please email me at for details.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Built to Last...

Well done Dave, sold out!

The first of the Conservative Partys really big events in Hants post the last general election has been announced and it is to be held as Hampshire's new cricket ground, just outside the town of Eastleigh. (For info on the venue click on )

Entitled, "Built to Last", the document is a new statement of Conservative Principles that will apparently guide the party in its policy making and campaigning is to be discussed nation wide and led locally by Havant MP David Willets.
Interestingly non-members and indeed even non-supporters will be able to attend if the Conservatives national web-site is anything to go by
-One hopes thats its results will be a little more successful that Blair's dire 'Big Conversation' or William Hague's largely ignored 'Listening to Britain' consultations...

New logo debate continues!

Always wash your hands...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Re-cycling in Freemantle

What a great pub!

Southampton City Council have approached me to ask if I will allow for a set of re-cycling bins to be allowed in the car park adjacent to The Park Hotel. Actually I am delighted as not only will it help improve the dismal re-cycling rates in Southampton and replace the site lost by the closure of the Star and Garter around the corner from my pub in Freemantle but also make life easier for my customers and I. I shall certainly be giving my permission subject to the site being suitable and there being no contractual or legal complications. Site meeting Thurs lunch! News updates to follow!!!

New Conservative Party logo

Well the "Call me Dave" project to re-brand the Conservative Party continues apace and the latest idea is to replace the Conservative's Torch logo with something else. Infact the torch device itself has been changed at least three times to my recollection and the current logo featuring a more muscular arm in a cut down picture frame is far from ideal as it looks like you've chopped a bit off the logo when you put it on a leaflet.
One of Gavin Barwell's team at CCO also introduced the 'swoosh' during the Hague period (Gavin is on the A list and a councillor for Woodcote, where I lived for 5 years or so incidently) which was used for a while on both local and national publications.
The challenge will be to find a device that is both symbolic of what the modern Conservative Party is trying to achieve as well as contemporary and visually attractive. Me thinks easier said than done...
I thought the efforts from the guys at
was very amusing (see top)

Name change for the party next?


Well England's bid to bring back the FA cup has started in earnest and Labour MP Alan Whitehead is in on the act...
Despite my best efforts to get The Daily Echo interested and the fact that it was front page news on the Mail on Sunday a fortnight yesterday, the local rag only managed to devote a couple of paragraphs to the fact Alan and his mates are off on a serious freebie!
As goalie for the Parliamentary Football club, Whitehead is one of 23 lucky individuals who have been given free tickets and will enjoy lavish corporate sponsorship during the world cup.
As Kevin Miles, international co-ordinator for the Football Supporters' Federation claimed McDonald's had handed over the tickets to curry favor with the MPs, and criticize the politicians for asking for them, there seems to also be considerable resentment locally.
Mr Miles has spoken of the "chronic" problem in which Fifa distributed 40% of World Cup tickets to sponsors, hospitality packages and non-competing football associations.
"They've got the tickets because they're MPs, but the biggest crime is that McDonald's is in the position to give them out," he said.
"They're doing it to buy themselves influence, let's make no mistake about it.
I would like to know the answers to a few questions myself;

  • Who is paying for the flights and hotels?
  • Will Mr Whitehead miss any important debates or votes in the chamber of the House or in select committees on which he serves while he is away?
  • How many engagements in his constituency as well as surgeries has he had to cancel while away?
  • How does he see his relationship with the World Cups corporate sponsors will affect his impartiality and independence as an MP?

For a link to the original story go to

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Under-age drinking

I know from feedback from numerous publicans that I am far from being alone in being uncomfortable at the way Hampshire Constabularly is policing under-age drinking. According to yesterday's Daily Echo, they are using under-age children to go into pubs across the city and attempt to illegally purchase alcohol. While underage drinking in any premises, including pubs, is unacceptable, one has to wonder if entrapment of bar staff is the answer. Further, such activity would appear to be to be against the published Home Office Guidelines that state such operations should take place where the police have received intelligence that under-age drinking is taking place. That is certainly not the case in the premises that the police have visited in Southampton. The fact that during the latest 'stings', the Officer in Charge invited the press along would seem to indicate that this is all about publicity rather than effective policing. Rather than attempting to catch people out, a partnership approach with particular emphasis on staff training is surely the answer?
Interestingly, I understand that the police carry out no such checks in the likes of Tescos, Sainsbury's and other retailers who supply the 'take-home trade' yet the perception of many that are involved in the drinks industry is that such retailers are a major part of the problems of both under-age drinking and binge drinking. For example, in the average pub a bottle of Stella Artois is about £2.40, this week Asda are advertising 2 cases (40 bottles) for £16.00. Draw your own conclusions.