Friday, 29 May 2009

Boris Johnson spins Rape Crisis cut as an increase

It takes a special skill to make a broken promise sound like a victory, but Boris has got it totally nailed down:

That's £466,000 a year as opposed to his election manifesto promise of £744,000 a year. 

So he's still breaking his promise, but just not as much as before.

Boris had promised to fund three new Rape Crisis centres in the capital explaining that: 

"Quite simply, we believe that it is more important to fund Rape Crisis Centres than press officers?"

But with rapes up 14.5 per cent from last year, shouldn't Boris cut the expensive spin, and start paying for those things that he promised London he would?

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Why Boris Johnson should cut (his own) public pay

Lots of righteous anger from Boris Johnson about the RMT's latest end-of-the-barrel pay demands.

Speaking about the planned two-day strike he said:

"The RMT leadership has failed to engage in any meaningful talks on pay, instead submitting a wildly unrealistic claim"

Telling the BBC that they

"should get a grip."

And take a one per cent rise.

Now I happen to agree with Boris here. We're in a recession and the last thing we should be doing is be giving out 5% pay rises.

So how exactly does he explain the following pay increases?

Mayor of London in 2007-8


Mayor of London in 2009


That's a 5 per cent increase. Or indeed this one:

Chief Executive of the GLA in 2007-8 


Chief Executive of the GLA in 2009 


That's a 12 per cent increase.

Now it is Conservative Party policy that 'public sector fat cats' should not earn more than £190k a year.

So when I asked Boris why he had personally signed-off Leo Boland's huge pay rise I was at least expecting a reply.

Here's what he told me:

"I won't talk about individual salaries"

Sounds like Bob Crow isn't the only one to shun those 'meaningful talks on pay.'

Bank note image by Beau Bo D'or

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Greenwich Labour on the side of Greenwich Labour

When I first saw this election leaflet from the Greenwich branch of the Labour party I was immediately suspicious, because:

  1. How many people do you know who speak like this?
  2. Miranda looked familiar.
  3. Why does Mark look so glum?

So who is Mr. Glum? Could this be him:

And his partner? Could this be Mrs. Glum?

Well what does Miranda say about herself?

Name: Miranda Williams
Bio: Knitter and Socialist, living in London working for an MP

Working for an MP eh? I wonder which one.

And what does she do in her spare time?

Leaflets eh?

So she's raising funds for Labour? Anything else?

Now when I first saw this leaflet I immediately thought that I had seen Miranda somewhere before, specifically that I had seen her at a meeting held by the Greenwich Labour party on the Olympics.

At that meeting, a woman who looked very similar to Miranda told the other Greenwich residents that:

"I'd just like to say that I moved to the borough two and a half years ago. I'm very excited that we have got the Olympics here in London and in Greenwich as well and I can't believe how narrow minded and short sighted and nimbyist so many people are being..."

She went on to say that she was 26 and found it 'sad' that there was so many older people complaining about (Labour's) plans for the Olympic legacy in the borough.

She did not say what, if any political interest she had in the matter.

So is this woman and Miranda one and the same person? Well here's Miranda's tweet from the day of the debate:

Unfortunately Richard never replied, but I do wonder just how close Miranda is to the party she says is "on our side"

And if Miranda is as close as her Twitter accounts suggest, then is it really okay for her to be portrayed as just another contented resident of Greenwich?

-Update- Miranda is now a Labour councillor in Greenwich.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Brian Coleman becomes Mayor and blames bloggers

Brian Coleman
The above picture is of Brian Coleman AM asleep on the job inside his office at City Hall

Last month I published this picture because:

a) I didn't see any reason not to
b) it was funny

Thinking that would be that, I carried on with my work, speaking to people at City Hall, looking through GLA documents and asking questions.

However, soon after this picture was published, certain high ranking officials close to Brian Coleman started looking through my emails.

My private correspondence with people at City Hall was trawled through, and press officers were warned not to pass me photos.

In fact one of my contacts was told that any pictures sent to me could 'easily be traced to their source'. This was a lie.

Last night Brian Coleman became Mayor of Barnet.

In his acceptance speech he vowed

"to defeat damaging bloggers, and also confront the constant criticism of politicians, both locally and nationally which only serves "to reduce voter turnout and help party's like the BNP".

Mayor Coleman said:

“There are a few people that I would not like to thank, those bloggers that think anyone involved in civic life whether it is an elected politicians or professional officers is fair game for personal abuse and whose mission it is to undermine and denigrate. Whilst mayor of this borough I will not tolerate anyone in this chamber or outside who regard it cool and trendy to undermine democratic institutions, and I do not have time for those who have community criticism rather (than) community service".

During Coleman's time in office his 'community service' has included:

During my time as a blogger I have:

So who's done more to decrease the public's trust in politicians Brian, you or me?

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Have Newsquest pulled their BNP adverts for good?

There's still been no official word yet but it looks like Newsquest may have decided to pull all BNP ads from their newspaper websites.

The banners which were prominently placed just yesterday have disappeared from all Newsquest sites reported to be carrying them.

Just take a look for yourself:

When complaints about the adverts were first made, individual editors defended their decision to carry them. 

However, a build up of coverage in the last 24 hours could have led to a change of heart at the top.

Indeed my own webstats have shown growing interest in this story from other media outlets, readers of the blog, and the company itself.

The National Union of Journalists have also condemned the decision, saying that Newsquest have "seriously [damaged] the reputation of the company's titles and its journalists."

Whatever the reason for the ads disappearing, Newsquest seem to have made the right decision. I just hope that they stick to it.

-Afternoon Update- 

A source at Newsquest has told me that "no contracts have been broken" with the BNP. 

Staff were sent a memo last week stating that 'any political party' could advertise with them. This has not officially changed 

Crucially I was also told that the BNP adverts "may come back"

Keep those complaints coming people.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Newsquest take advertising money from the BNP

I know that local newspapers are struggling at the moment, but this is just shocking:

"Nick Griffin's organization has found a new way of spreading its election propaganda. The BNP are paying for advertising space on the websites of local newspapers. Many of these adverts consist of a large banner headline that stretches across the top of the front page above the newspaper's title.

"They make local newspaper websites look like a BNP publication, with the slogans of the extreme right-wing party dominating the page. Other formats include a simple BNP logo and a video box. Clicking on the adverts takes the reader via a link straight to the BNP's website. All titles noted so far belong to the giant 'Newsquest' group that owns hundreds of local newspapers across the country, and has 164 of what it calls 'local media brand websites'."

Now I'm generally against the no-platform policy. I think that the BNP should be allowed to show themselves up in their own good way and their own good time.

But where I draw the line is in actually taking money from these creeps.

I mean what do Newsquest think they are doing? Do they think that this will endear the majority of their readers to them? 

And even if they've given up caring on that score, they could at least try and uphold their own damn policy:

Newsquest is committed to encouraging diversity throughout its workforce.

Our mission is to publish market-leading newspapers which reflect the views of the communities they serve.

To that end, our diversity programme encourages a workforce that reflects local demographics and provides equality and fairness for all who work for us.

We are committed to:

  • Encouraging diversity throughout our business
  • Upholding our equal opportunities policies
  • Monitoring progress in managing diversity

Ironically enough Newsquest were heavily praised last year for deciding to no longer accept adverts from the sex industry.

But while they no longer make money out of exploited and vulnerable women, they now seem more than happy to make money out of prejudice, hatred and fear.

Please make your complaint to the men at the top.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

The Evening Standard go through the looking glass

First the Evening Standard say sorry...
Then they employ a cuddly bear...
And then Andrew Gilligan writes a half-decent article.
We're through the looking glass here London.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Richard Barnbrook faces suspension for murder vid

BNP London Assembly member Richard Barnbrook could be removed from office for up to six months, after he admitted to broadcasting false claims about murders in his borough.

A joint City Hall and Barking and Dagenham investigation found that Barnbrook had broken both Codes of conduct and brought both authorities into disrepute.

In the now deleted Youtube video Barnbrook claimed that:

"In Barking and Dagenham alone three weeks ago there was a murder of a young girl, we don't know who's done it, her girlfriend was attacked inside an Educational institute.

"Again two weeks ago there was another attack by knives on the streets of Barking and Dagenham and two people were murdered."

The Metropolitan Police have since confirmed that there were NO murders in the borough within that period.

When I questioned him about this in November, Barnbrook insisted that his 'dyslexia' had 'muddled' his account.

However, Barnbrook now admits that he knew the murder claims to be false at the time.

When questioned about this, Barnbrook told investigators that he had been referring to people on 'life support'.

The Metropolitan Police say they have no records of any such cases.

"It makes little difference..."

Despite knowing that his claims were false, Barnbrook subsequently refused an offer from the BNP to remove his video because it “would be removed in 4-6 weeks anyway.”

He also wrote to the Barking and Dagenham Recorder, saying that it made 'little difference' whether his claims were true.

This along with his refusal to apologise, meant that investigators found he had clearly broken the code of conduct and brought the authority into disrepute.

Sanctions for breaking the code range from an obligation to make a public apology, to a full six month suspension.

Barnbrook will now face a full hearing.

A separate complaint into material he distributed during a byelection, is still under investigation.

Monday, 11 May 2009

So has the Evening Standard really changed yet?

I've got my free copy of the Evening Sorry now. Shall we read it together?

What is included:

  • Clunky new masthead? Check
  • 'Who cares?' story about an affair? Check
  • City kids did good story? Check
  • City kids did bad story? Check
  • Taxodus? Check
  • House price obsession? Check
  • New snooty columnist? Check

What isn't included (thankfully)

What should be included (but isn't)

  • Scrutiny of Boris
  • Transport coverage
  • South London coverage

So it's pigeon steps basically. Some good signs, but nothing like the radical change the ad campaign had promised, and which the paper really needs.

Thankfully much of the spite has been taken out, but there's still not enough left to put in its place.

Where's the voices from outside the Kensington triangle? Where's the London that the rest of us live in? 

And more fundamentally, where's the news?

There's not enough in-depth analysis. There's not enough political coverage and there's not enough that sets it apart from the nationals.

They've done enough to stop me hating it for sure, but nowhere near enough to get me reading it every day.

So what do you think? Will you be shelling out 50p to the Standard from now on?

Veronica Wadley lashes out at the Evening Sorry

It's all been a bit quiet over in Sockland since the Evening Sorry campaign began, although some clues can be found in this laughable statement from leader in exile Veronica Wadley:

"London is laughing at this ludicrous campaign. Saying 'Sorry' for the past smacks of a Soviet courtroom 'confession'. 'Sorry' has all the hallmarks of a KGB-style smear campaign. It denigrates the judgment of 500,000 loyal readers who have been buying the paper in recent years.

And, according to the dozens of emails I have received, it is utterly humiliating for the staff and contributors. They are in despair."

Well at least one of them is.

"The new management seems to think that a paper should be edited by self-serving market research - and the Pravda-style promise of good news is an insult to the intelligence of its readers."

Says Veronica 'Evening Boris' Wadley.

"Under my editorship, the award-winning Standard campaigned against corruption and waste of taxpayers' money at City Hall. The Russian-owned Standard now appears to want to dump Boris Johnson, one of the most popular politicians in the country, and reinstate Ken Livingstone, the discredited mayor who was voted out of office by London.

The Standard, supported by the electorate, called it right and Ken's supporters still cannot deal with that. The Russian owner, motivated by his own political convictions, is plainly out of touch with Londoners.

The 'Sorry' campaign's suggestion that the Standard and its journalists lost touch with London is a malicious invention. Daily, we campaigned for better and safer public transport, a cleaner city, affordable housing, the rights of cyclists and police accountability.

We received endless praise for championing the arts and talents of a great city. And we raised huge sums of money for London charities including most recently over £200,000 for Greenhouse which provides sports facilities for disadvantaged children.

As for Geordie Greig, well, Etonians have a history of collaborating with the KGB."

Ha ha ha! I've had some mixed feelings about the new look Evening Sorry, but this statement has gone some way to redress those.

Now I wonder who could have been sending her those 'dozens of emails'?

-Update- Via Press Gazette comes the new 'positive' front page:

Friday, 8 May 2009

Snow more nonsense for Boris over "Bollocks" jibe

Some top-notch legalese from the GLA Standards Committee investigation into Boris's snow day strop:

"After viewing web-cast footage of the [select committee] meeting, the GLA’s Sub-Committee did find that, at one point, the Mayor did say “nonsense, bollocks, nonsense.” The GLA’s Sub- Committee considered that, in itself, the term “bollocks” is not disrespectful, and noted that none of the members of the Select Committee took offence. 

"In addition to this, the GLA’s Sub-Committee were of the view that the Mayor said this word quietly, under his breath, and then quickly sought to correct himself by repeating the word “nonsense.” For these reasons, along with the fact that the Select Committee was a political arena, the GLA’s Sub-Committee concluded that the Mayor’s use of the term “bollocks” was not a failure to treat others with respect, and did not bring his office or the Authority into disrepute."

I bet the lawyers had some fun with that one.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

A sorry state of affairs for the Evening Standard

The most striking thing for me about Roy Greenslade's Evening Standard story was the almighty and near unanimous kicking that the paper received in the comments section beneath it.

Now the Guardian's website tends to have a majority of 'right-wing' commenters, but for whatever reason, almost none of them had stuck up for the Evening Standard under this piece.

Almost nobody that is except for commenter 'billybonds'.

Near the end of the lynching, billybonds writes:

Now this comment seemed a little out of place after reading some of the vitriol above it, so I clicked through to see what else billybonds had to say about life.

Here's all of billybond's contributions to the Guardian website, listed in date order:

And that's it. I guess there must have been something really special about that ad campaign for ol' Billy. I wonder what it could have been...

The Evening Sorry

So although Billy was sold on the ad campaign, reaction elsewhere to it has been overwhelmingly negative.

853 and Dave Hill both say that 'sorry isn't enough' and even advertising bods say they have created a problem that didn't exist.

For me however, the danger is not that the problem didn't exist, but that it did and that these ads are just ramming that point home.

The danger for them now is that this could easily become Geordie Grieg's own Gerald Ratner moment: the moment where Standard readers finally realise just what old crap they've been buying all these years.

And so while for grabbing attention, the campaign has worked, if Londoners are really going to believe the paper has changed then it's a change in substance that needs to be made.

And so far there's been very little sign of that.

Tories say Assembly elections a 'squalid stich-up'

The Conservatives today declared the election of a Green party member to Chair the London Assembly as a 'squalid stitch up' by 'a ragbag of minorities'

Speaking at today's Assembly AGM, Tony Arbour said:

"London is a Conservative City. We control all of the boroughs. Last year we demonstrated we dominate London-wide politics and on June 4th we will be crushing all of the other parties in London...

"We have had a demonstration this morning of how ridiculous proportional representation really is. Because of a squalid stitch up between a rag bag of minorities, has meant that this Assembly in its every day activities is dominated by people who do not represent London."

Also speaking against the election of Darren Johnson, disgraced former Chairman Brian Coleman said:

"In moving [for Andrew Boff instead of Johnson] the Assembly will have a Chairman who will not be briefed against by their own group. Who will turn up at functions when he is expected to turn up at functions. Who will not have to be accompanied by an officer on to the eighth floor in case they say something out of place or surrender without a fight...

"Who can make a decent speech at a public function. Who does not need a word for word briefing for Assembly meetings and can deal with unexpected occurrences whether they're in the public gallery or on the floor of this chamber. Who can restore the dignity of this Assembly and reassert its authority in relation to the Executive and allow this Assembly to do the job that Londoner's elected it to do...
"and who also won't serve roast beef without horseradish sauce at dinner."

The speech by Coleman (who did not go into detail about the horseradish incident) was described as 'offensive' by other AMs.

Departing Chair Jennette Arnold also pointed out that she had attented functions at 'a quarter' of the cost of Brian Coleman when he had been the Assembly Chair.

Why the Conservatives should be stitched up

If the London Assembly was a legislative body then of course I agree that it should be led by the group with the largest share of the vote.

But with it's only role being to scrutinise a Conservative Mayor then it makes no sense that the scrutinising should be led by the Conservative AMs themselves.

And while Andrew Boff would also probably make a good chairman, the same cannot be said of the Tories' candidate for Deputy Chair Lady Victoria Borwick. 

Earlier this year Borwick was investigated and then apologised for using her position on the Transport Committee to promote her husband's electric vehicle business. 

You can read a very interesting interview with the new Chairman of the Assembly over at Mayorwatch.

-Update- Nick points out in the comments that the Tory group made a very similar 'stitch-up' deal with the Lib Dems in 2004. Hypocrites.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Stepford Boris

Is anyone else out there slightly terrified by these?

Twitpic one
Twitpic two

Monday, 4 May 2009

New Evening Standard apology spotted on the Tube

Andrew Gilligan
-Update- And on the side of the Devil's own bendy!

Photos reworked by the ever brilliant Beau Bo D'or

The Evening Standard apologises for being rubbish

The Evening Standard will today launch an ad campaign apologising to Londoners for being such a bunch of vindictive, out of touch, snotty-nosed, misery-bags.

The move follows research commissioned by the paper's new editor which shows that Londoners would overwhelmingly prefer to burn in hell than ever read their grotty rag again.

According to Standard and Guardian columnist Roy Greenslade:

"The market research evidently discovered that Londoners considered the paper to be too negative, not celebratory enough and guilty of failing to cater for the capital's needs. A great city with great facilities was being persistently talked down.

"Greig's response to the findings was to deal with them head on. He takes the view that the only possible way to win back readers who have deserted, and attract new ones, is to be honest and admit to previous failings."

The adverts, which will run on the paper's hated bus and tube network, come ahead of a full relaunch of the title on May 11th.

Advertising slogans are expected to include "Sorry for losing touch," "Sorry for being negative," "Sorry for taking you for granted," "Sorry for being complacent," and "Sorry for being predictable."

The campaign will be seen as a slap in the face for despised former editor Veronica Wadley and pet cat Andrew Gilligan, under whose miserable reign the paper hemorrhaged Londoner's remaining respect.

Meanwhile, the decision to talk up London and its people is thought to have been greeted with the sound of loud cheers from the eighth floor of City Hall.

"Sorry for being complacent" photo taken by @robblemitchell 
"Sorry for losing touch" photo taken by @theklan
"Nothing to look into" by Mr. Stop Boris
853 blog have found the video ad