Friday, November 30, 2007

The Eureka Stockade Rebellion

I'm falling in love with Wikipedia. From yesterday's front page I ended up on an article about the Eureka Stockade Rebellion in Australia in 1854. It fits in well with the Labour Party victory there. Miners, called 'Diggers' of course, staged a revolt over taxation and for voting rights. Some of the leaders had the experience in Britain of fighting for the Chartist movement. British troops and police under the control of the colonial government of Victoria killed 22 miners in a very one-sided fight.

Of the 120 'diggers' arrested, 13 were brought to trial and then acquitted. What caught my eye were the nationalities and race of these 13. I think Australia can be justly proud when you look at the list below. (I tend to think of early immigration into Australia being convicts but an explosion in population took place when gold was discovered.)

1. Timothy Hayes, Chairman of the Ballarat Reform League,
2. James McFie Campbell a black man from Kingston Jamaica
3. Raffaello Carboni, an Italian and trusted lieutenant who was in charge of the European diggers as he spoke a few European languages. Carboni self published his account of the Eureka Stockade a year after the Stockade, the only comprehensive eyewitness account.
4. Jacob Sorenson, a Jew
5. John Manning, a Ballarat Times journalist, from Ireland
6. John Phelan, a friend and business partner of Peter Lalor, from Ireland
7. Thomas Dignum, born in Sydney
8. John Joseph, a black American from New York
9. James Beattie, from Ireland
10. William Molloy, from Ireland
11. Jan Vennick, from Holland,
12. Michael Tuohy
13. Henry Reid

I'm guessing the last 2 are Irishmen. The Irish were probably over-represented in those arrested as the there were many camped close to the stockade when the British attacked.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Charlton Athletic 0-3 Sheffield United

Of course I shouldn't have posted Saturday's score as the very next match on Tuesday night was a disaster.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Is it too late to get rid of Brown?

If only the Labour Party could hold a leadership election now, I think they might even find the fifty or so MPs needed and brave enough to put up a candidate against Brown. If it were allowed maybe they could find a safe seat for Ken Livingstone so he could contest. Diane Abbott, weren't you going to pack it in this time anyway?

I'm not saying Ken could win but keeping Brown is flirting with a disaster. He looks like a man on the verge of a breakdown. This New Labour experiment has run its course and it's time for a rethink.

What Ken would bring to the game is the ability to delegate to good people which Brown doesn't seem to have.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Does Virgin call Alistair Darling Darling?

Sorry about the Black Adder title. With Darling about to finance a Richard Branson takeover of Northern Rock by allowing a long and not guaranteed payback of the tax money put in, they certainly should. The love affair between new labour and the rich becomes clearer every day.

I heard cabinet member Tony McNulty on Radio 4's Any Questions allowing blame on the missing data CDs to be put on a generic "post". He must know that most people would be blaming the Post Office and not a private courier company like TNT who could well be to blame. On top of that we hear that the reason the data wasn't cleaned of personal details was because the department didn't want to pay Ross Perot's EDS to do it.

How many contracts with private companies are there that should be done by the public sector?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Preston North End 0-2 Charlton Athletic

I haven't been updating the Charlton scores on this blog but yesterday's away win at Preston was nice to wake up this morning and far more important than England getting knocked out of the European Championship. Of course, like any computer nerd, I keep a spreadsheet of the Charlton season and four wins on the trot do look good.

Labour Victory in Australia

The left hasn't had too much to crow about in Europe the last few years so it was good to see that in Southern Hemisphere the Australians have at last thrown John Howard out. I'm hoping to hear soon that he has lost his seat too. I know nothing about Kevin Rudd but he would have to be really bad to be worse than Howard.

Howard's success I guess had been based on the electorate usually voting on their worries for their wallets and purses first. Nice to see that the environment, Iraq and maybe just the need of a change were more powerful this time. When the UK Labour Party spin doctors said there "was something of the night" in the then UK Conservative Party leader, Michael Howard, I think they could equally have used the term about the Australian version.

More on Ken Livingstone

I have in the past admitted to being quite fond of the Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London. If the Labour Party had not been taken over by Thacherites we might have had him as a prime minister. That's if the rest of the UK would put up with a Londoner of course.

The last few days his tour of India has been getting some exposure on the BBC World Service TV news. I take it he was visiting Amritsar at one point as he was wearing a head covering scarf to go into a Sikh temple. Together with the red dot head on his forward and the sly grin of man who will not take the press too seriously, it made me laugh.

Ken has, without Blair style charisma and without party support when he first stood for the job, built a considerable political machine in London. I know most of the London Labour Party and many of the ex-GLC insiders were behind him, but what we have now is probably the closest London has ever been to the old New York Tammany Hall Democrat machine, even more so than Morrison's LCC.

In my mind this isn't a bad thing. His success is based on having enough support from the various minorities to have a majority come election time. Hopefully he will have a large Sikh vote now;-) If he were twenty years younger the party would have had a replacement for Gordon Brown if he loses the next election.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Gordon Brown - A Labour Disaster?

I wonder if some of the MPs that supported Gordon Brown are having second thoughts. I am beginning to suspect he is leading the party to an electoral disaster. My hope was his ability to talk 'Labour' might actually be based on some sort of ideology or set of principles. More an more it looks like neither, just Blair without the charisma.

I think you must have one or the other to win an election. Be known as a man with principles which lets you get away without the charisma, like Ken Livingstone, or no principles but lots charisma like Blair.

Brown is just coming across as a bully and I don't think that will work. I do hope the UK doesn't end up with a Cameron old Etonian government because of this.

Flowers in the Klong

Haven't walked or blogged for a while. Set out this Sunday morning at 7:10 AM. A usual walk north along Klong Banma over the railway and under the motorway. Went on a side canal running to the west and off on a lane I haven't been before. Someone is building a traditional Thai style house (complex) which looks like a palace with lots of smaller buildings joined by walkways. I will get a picture when they finish it.

On one section an area of water hyacinths allowed to grow off the main channel was in bloom and you can see how they get their name with their mauve flowers. Of course they are an invasive species from South America and are not good for native plants and are also a sign of pollution, but it is nice to see their flowers;-)

Further along was a tall flowering plant in blue and white in the mud of the klong bank. I think it was a wild ginger or heliconia, but I haven't seen it before. I tried to dig out a section with my stick to bring back but it was too deep. I might take a small spade with me next time I go.

Some of the moslem community were getting ready for a wedding lunch and loud music led the way. Tables and chairs were ready under a long open tent and people were already turning up in their best clothes. Isuspect some might be arriving by boat later.

Returned home after an hour and forty minutes so not a bad walk.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

John Eric Austin and the Golf Club Cabinet

So John Austin MP for Erith & Thamesmead, or John Austin-Walker or whatever your name is, you are proud to have supported Gordon Brown in the recent Labour Party leadership election. I'm reading your September letter to your constituents.

I thought you were meant to be on the left of the party. Even though Brown was going to win couldn't the left have put up a candidate just to try and keep him honest. Someone to say in public that the left doesn't agree with Blair and Brown's Thacherite policies. Are you after a cabinet job? I think you need to take up golf to get into that club.

Khun Sa Dies

Last week Khun Sa died. It didn't get that much exposure in the press, but when I first came to Thailand he was an important figure in the north and rumour had it he sometimes stayed in his own house in Bangkok.

Khun Sa was a drug warlord long before we had heard of the Colombian cocaine gangsters. He controlled a large part of Burmese Shan States which tend to be lumped in with the Golden Triangle. Although the Thai army did force him out of his northern Thai base of Ban Hin Taek he did fight them to a standstill. The US DEA and embassy staff in Thailand were in fear of their lives from him.

He was finally defeated by his own people who actually believed in the independence movement lie he hid behind. So where would a pariah like this go when he was on the run? To the generals in Burma of course. They welcomed him with open arms and allowed him to run various businesses from Rangoon.

By the way, opium farming was introduced to this area by the French who needed a source as the UK controlled Indian production and the US could source from Turkey. How else could you trade with China without getting them hooked on opium? Not the West's finest hour.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Golf Club Government

This Gordon Brown government really does represent its own class. The London ambulance driver and blogger at Random Acts of Reality says that GPs in the UK will get a 10% rise giving them an average salary of £110,000. At the same time other health workers are seeing a below inflation pay settlements. Well I guess they aren't at the club on weekends.

Alan Johnson, isn't this on your watch, or do you play golf too?