Saturday, July 21, 2007

It will all come out in the wash...

Its not only Mr Denham who has been caught telling a few fibs, now I see that his near neighbour Chis Huhne is at it!

A bit of (a) dope?

The new Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills
recently underwent a change of image...

Apparently John Denham's office got in a right state when they realised that the cannabis story was about to break. Denham's researcher had already refused to comment when contacted by George Jones of The Daily Telegraph on Thursday. As the day wore on however, Denham, whose spokesman said "we don't comment on surveys" realised the line was not going to hold.

He went onto give an exclusive interview, revealing all to the Daily Echo which was published on Friday. A bit of it can be read HERE.

The only thing is he wasn't quite truthful. When asked if he had smoked dope in the past, he has either denied it or refused to comment, a mantra he was repeating up to that very morning. When interviwed by the Echo, he said it had never come out before as he had never been asked!

A bit of a dope?

...or is this a case of the pot calling the kettle black?!!!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Censorship? No thanks. A little self-restraint? Yes please!!!

Two ladies study copies of 'Lady Chatterley's lover' following the 1960 obscenity trial
pic courtesy Getty Images
Freedom of speech and freedom of expression- two concepts that should be cherished and nurtered in a civilised, liberal democracy. It is not surprising then that many people, this author included, have a tendancy to find any sort of censorship, especially on moral or political grounds, objectional. As every undergraduate politics student has drumed in them, it was John Stuart Mill who in 1859 wrote, "We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still."
That said, unlike Mill, I do believe that authors have a responsibilty to consider how their work will be considerered by their wider readership and refain if their work is likely to cause widespred offence without spreading any objective good or furthering the battle for ideas. I feel to this day that Samon Rushdie's publishers decision to publish his book 'The Satanic Verses' was a study in how best to provoke the ire and distress of a small but vocal minority group within the UK. To put it bluntly, just because people can write pretty much anything they like, it doesn't mean they should.
On Friday, I wrote to one of my political opponents, Councillor Matt Stevens. Here is the text of my letter;
Dear Councillor Stevens,
Politics is a rough sport and probably best not undertaken by those of a sensitive disposition.
That said, the post on your blog likening the Conservative Council’s policies in some areas to those of the Brown shirts is profoundly offensive.
The Brown shirts or Sturmabteilung (often shortened to SA) were responsible for some horrific atrocities against the Jews and opponents of the Nazi Party in the 1930s and members of that organisation committed a number of documented acts of genocide during the Second World War.
To draw a link between that organisation and the administration of the council just because you happen to be politically opposed to some of the policies the council is pursuing is deeply irresponsible.
I write as someone whose family made considerable sacrifices fighting the organisation you claim the current administration are allied to.
I hope you will consider removing the offending article.
Yours sincerely,
Matthew Dean.
For those that are even inclined, Cllr Steven's post can be read HERE.
I shall leave it to readers to make up their own minds if they think it is an appropriate piece of commentary or not. Please be moderate in your use of language if you wish to make a post on the subject on this blog.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

It's a raid!

Put that light out...

I had the Smoking police in my pub today 'just checking the notices were up and that I wasn't having any problems'.
They were and I'm not...yet!

Monday, July 02, 2007

The schools competition reaches a conclusion...

Cheer up...two new academies are on their way!

Today was decision day for the Cabinet of Southampton City Council to decide who had won the Schools Competition to run two new schools in Southampton.
The report was a lengthy document that was criticised by some (well opaquely by the Labour leader) as not having any one clear recommendation on which bid(s) to favour. In the event the Cabinet went for Oasis Community Learning for both sites which mean that two new Academies rather than Trust schools will be built.
This is an interesting decision as it means that the schols will certainly have their own distinct identity, being run at arms length from the local authority. It was also quite a brave one as much (although by no-means all) of the educational estasblishment seemed to be in favour the Southampton Education Trust. I can't help feeling that the SETs would have meant that there would have been too little rather than too much change- and with falling school rolls and in certain areas, very very low educational attainment, no change is not an option.
Both Labour and the Lib-Dems were in favour of the SET bids, I suspect partly because they still wanted to be heavily involved in running the show rather than commissioning outside experts to run the sites. Labour's Education spokesman Matt Steven's had people cringing when he indicated there were five bids (!) and then proceeded to give a patronising homily on how the cabinet should vote so he did himself no favours with watching members of the public there. Vinson for the Lib-Dems was at least ordered and justified his views with some facts. All the bids were in fact of very high quality although I was taken aback by how vehemently some backbench Labour members were to the very idea of academies.
Interestingly then, the competition showed a phenomenon that is increasingly becoming apparent to Labour watchers in Southampton; how their local councillors are often far to the left of their national party and how in policy terms, they are in opposition to their government.
Lord Adonois at least will be breaking out the champagne this evening.

Bonnet rocks!

Bonnet rocks!!!

Last night I saw Graham Bonnet at The Brook and he was fantastic!
Chosen by Ritchie Blackmore to replace Ronnie James Dio in Rainbow, he sang on the Down To Earth album, which spawned two huge hit singles in 1980; "Since You Been Gone" and "All Night Long". Bonnet also appeared with the group headlining the inaugural Monsters Of Rock festival at Castle Donington. Bonnet only did a couple of years with Rainbow, leaving to resume his solo career, releasing the Line Up album in 1981, handled by producer John Eden. For the recording of Line Up he managed to enlist several well-known rock musicians including Deep Purple and Whitesnake keyboard player Jon Lord, Whitesnake and Rainbow drummer Cozy Powell, Status Quo guitarist Francis Rossi, Whitesnake guitarist Micky Moody on guitar and bassist Gary Twigg.
Tempted by an offer from ex-UFO German guitarist Michael Schenker, Bonnet joined the Michael Schenker Group for the Assault Attack album. Unfortunately at a warm up gig in Sheffield prior to a booking at the Reading Rock festival, a drunken Bonnet not only exposed the uncredited rythem guitarist working behind the amps off-stage but also himself leading to his abrupt departure. Bonnet referred to the infamous gig in some stage banter during the show, in fact he had the patter down to a 't' with the audience eating out of the palm of his hand by the end of the show.
Opening with 'Lost in Hollywood', he also gave the audience what they wanted playing all his hits as well as songs off his new album recorded with the Taz Taylor Band.
After performing a rollicking version of 'Stargazer', Bonnet made a quip about how difficult it was to sing Dio-era songs and I shouted out that he should join Black Sabbath (which Tony Iommi had asked him to do many years ago!), leading the band to play the first few chords of Paranoid which got a few laughs.
What a talent! What a showman! And what a voice!

What price principle?

going up...

I see that John Denham has accepted a post in Gordon Brown's cabinet as Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills.
It is interesting that he resigned because he felt he couldn't serve in a government going to war in Iraq on the 18th March 2003. On the 28th June 2007 he joined a government committed not just to continuing to fight in Iraq but also Afganistan. What price principle?