Monday, June 30, 2008

Boycott the Evening Standard

I watched an Alexei Sayle documentary about Liverpool last night. In it explained how Liverpool still largely boycotts Murdoch's Sun newspaper because of their coverage of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. Well that got me thinking;-)

The London Evening Standard's coverage of the London Mayor's election was one-eyed, vicious and untruthful as they fought to get Boris Mugabe Johnson elected that maybe they, Associated Newspaper and their editor, Veronica Wadley, should get this Liverpool treatment. It's the economic equivalent of a Liverpool kiss I guess.

I know you will not get that almost total boycott that has occurred in Liverpool but it wouldn't take much to put this rag in deep trouble. They are already up against the freebies, including one of their own. So Boris supporters heading back to the suburbs after a hard day at their city desk will still buy it. The horse and dog followers will still need it - I take it the paper still has good form guides. But if just fifteen or twenty percent of Standard readers stopped buying it there will be real trouble. Unlike the Sun that still has a market outside of Liverpool, the Standard is a London local paper and has nowhere to run.

Come on Londoners, how about a boycott of the London Evening Standard?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

1968 Revisited

First a couple of direct links to posts about 1968 on Jakartass's blog, his own and a post from David Jardine.

Reading the both the blogs and the comments made me think a little deeper on what did happen back then. Of course just one year didn't change the world as we know it. What made the change was something that had already started by then. When people criticize the often flawed heroes of sixties youth they are missing the point. Probably Alexander Dubček was a better man than Ho Chi Minh but it was Ho's name being called out in the protests that year. Che probably did end up with a blood lust that caused the executions of good people.

The revolution in 1968 wasn't based on class, although it was certainly against the ruling class. The communist party had no leadership role in it. In fact the French Communist Party spurned the chance of really taking on De Gaulle. Those involved were looking for alternatives to the old Stalinist ideas of the traditional communist parties, hence the explosion in Trotskyite and anarchist parties.

So what was 1968? It was the political side of the youth movement that had really got going earlier in the decade. If there was a class part to it, you would have to say the political side was predominately middle class. But the 1968 students had a connection to the Mod movement and the beginnings of the hippie movement much more than any political party or ideal. This was the first time I know of that a generation was in revolt against another mainly on the grounds that the older could no longer be trusted with running the world.

If there was no 1968 there could be no Tony Blair, no Bill Clinton, no Barack Obama and, sorry to say, probably no David Cameron in leadership positions at their age. The cultural changes that have happened since then would have been fewer. Why? Because the older generation found that, just like Charles 1st., they had no divine right to rule. So for all their mixed up political thinking, we should thank Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Rudi Dutschke, Bernadette Devlin and Tariq Ali. Problem is that we are now that older generation. We sowed the seeds of our own destruction;-)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Time to Dump Brown

Quotes from the first two articles I read on the BBC website today.

On plans to bring private companies in to run NHS trusts - link to the article.

And Geoff Martin, head of campaigns at Health Emergency, predicted there would be an "almighty row" over the plans. He added: "The government's suicide mission to alienate core supporters takes another leap with this effort to privatise the NHS on a scale that even Margaret Thatcher would have balked at."

On Imperial College having its own entrance exam - link to article.

Rector Sir Richard Sykes told an independent schools conference that all applicants had "four or five A-levels". He said it was "frightening" that 40% of his undergraduate intake came from the 7% who were privately schooled.

It's quite possible that whoever leads the Labour Party will not be able to stop a Tory victory but my message to the Labour backbenchers who are in danger of losing their cozy jobs is at least go out with your heads held high. What will these New Labour years be remembered for - Thatcherism with a human face and the Iraq war? Look back at the 1945 Labour government which is remembered for the NHS, Social Security, nationalising the coal and railway companies and so much more even though they were governing in tough times.

So Labour backbenchers need to find a new leader. Don't go for a Blairite because that's what Brown is. The only difference was he fell out with the gang boss and replaced him. Come up with some policies that you will at least be remembered for. Below are two you still have time to do.

One, invest a massive amount in council and low cost house building. Finance it by pulling the troops out of Iraq and taxing the city fund managers, oil companies and suchlike. (Do you remember how all the candidates for the deputy leader post jumped on this council housing bandwagon last year.)

Two, bring in laws, similar to what the US has, to break up the media empire of Murdoch. Make it so he has to get rid of Sky and one of his daily newspapers or keep Sky and lose both papers. He isn't going to back you in the next election anyway so why let him decide it.

I will try and think up a few more over the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Forty Years On

I've been trying to ignore it, but quite correctly many bloggers are remembering 1968 like Jakartass. It was a momentous year for those who were there. I was 16 and although I didn't get to the Grosvenor Square anti-war demonstration in March I did get to almost all the others that year. The UK wasn't as exiting as what was going on in France, Germany, the US and Czechoslovakia but a generation's political ideas were formed one way or another.

It was when the communist party started to lose the leadership of the left in France and also in the UK. New leaders were popping up. Danny the Red (Daniel Cohn-Bendit) in France, Rudi Dutschke in Germany, the Black Panther leaders in the US and people like Tariq Ali in the UK. Not all travelled the same path. Some like Andreas Baader moved towards terrorism.

The world was in trouble. The Tet offensive was on in Vietnam, a civil war in Nigeria, Russian tanks in Czechoslovakia, the ongoing cultural revolution in China and the beginning of the most recent period of troubles in Northern Ireland. Although a lot has changed I think we all thought it would be far more changed than it is.

Changes on Klong Banma

I haven't been exercising enough. Last weekend I managed to get a walk along our local canal, Klong Banma. I hadn't done this walk for a few months and found that much of the vegetation had been cut back and near the railway a new housing estate was being built. The site is on both sides of the klong and it looks like the builders only have road access on the western side. They have put in what I take is a temporary bridge to get their trucks between the two sides.

New Housing Estate
New Housing Estate

Building Workers Housing
Building Workers Housing

New Bridge
New Bridge

The new mosque, which is slowly being built near where Klong Banma goes under the Chonburi Motorway, is almost finished. It is one of the two giant mosques being built at the Bangkok end of the motorway. Below is a view from the klong path.

New Mosque
New Mosque