Archive for August, 2011

Boris’s ‘rock star’ welcome at Notting Hill Carnival.

August 29, 2011 Boris Johnson Comments Off

Charlene White, ITV journalist and newsreader, tweeted about the reception Boris received at the Notting Hill Carnival today…

Labour London AM’s son arrested over riots.

August 29, 2011 Politics Comments Off

The 25-year-old son of Len Duvall (Labour London Assembly Member and former head of the Metropolitan Police Authority) has been arrested on suspicion of looting a mobile phone shop in the recent riots in London. Always strong on detail, the Mail helpfully tells us that police have searched Mark Duvall’s council flat which he “shares with his bull mastiff dog”.

As embarrassing a development as it is for Duvall (and, more broadly, Labour in London), it’s important to note that both he and his son have strongly denied the claims. Indeed, his son has suggested the claims have been made solely because of who his father is. As such, always conscious of innocence until guilt is proven, we’ll hold off on any analysis or discussion of implications until the police have concluded their investigations. It’s one to watch…

New false-start rule could ruin London 2012.

August 28, 2011 London 2012, Sport 1 Comment

Usain Bolt’s disqualification from the 100 metres final at the World Championships today is the best example so far of the utter absurdity of the IAAF’s new false-start rule. The rule – introduced last year – is that any false-start is immediately punished by disqualification, unlike the previous rule where a second chance was allowed. Christine Ohuruogo suffered yesterday and Dwain Chambers went the same same way this morning, but Bolt’s premature exit is the highest-profile casualty imaginable.

Put simply, the rule ruins highest-level sporting events for the very fans and spectators for whom professional sport even exists. What’s more, the rule has most impact – as we’ve already seen – in the most popular events, such as the sprints where every hundredth of a second counts. Even last year, Tyson Gay – quite presciently – predicted that the rule could ruin sprint events. That’s just what’s happened. Now what we’re more likely to see is athletes holding off marginally at the start, and world records becoming less common.

The World Championships are the second most important competition in the athletics calendar. For the most anticipated event at the championships to be ruined in this way is a great shame. The IAAF now need to seriously reconsider the ruling in advance of the single most important competition – next year’s Olympics in London. To potentially deprive some of the world’s greatest athletes of sport’s greatest prize because of a bureaucratic ruling from people who apparently don’t truly understand sport’s raison d’être would be an utter travesty.

Ken Livingstone to be replaced by Trevor Phillips?

August 28, 2011 Ken Livingstone, London mayoralty Comments Off

There’s an article over in the Mail that suggests Ken Livingstone “faces murmurings within Labour that he should step aside in favour of Equalities boss Trevor Phillips”. A supposed source within the party said “Ken is too old, too gaffe-prone and too far behind in the polls” to win.

This isn’t the first time that a change of candidate has been suggested – respected Labour blogger Hopi Sen recently proposed replacing Ken with David Lammy or Stella Creasy. However, as disastrously as his campaign has gone so far, I’m pretty sceptical that anyone senior within Labour is seriously considering replacing Ken. His campaign’s already in full swing, and a late change would be both embarrassing and an acknowledgement that Labour are struggling to find a way to beat Boris. And anyway, his age, gaffes and lack of popularity were as much issues before they selected him as they are now. Indeed, Ken is another fine example of Labour’s recent habit of selecting a clearly unsuitable candidate (think Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband etc.) before realising the error of their ways a matter of months later.

Having rejected the main premise of the Mail’s speculation, what actually interested me more was the reference to Trevor Phillips. It reminds me of a particularly unsavoury affair during Ken’s time as mayor. Having fallen out with Phillips over the role of multiculturalism in modern Britain, Ken said that he should “join the BNP”, and boycotted an important conference on race relations. A year or so later, there were calls for an independent inquiry into claims that Ken and Lee Jasper had used public money to run a slur campaign against Phillips as he progressed towards chairmanship of the new Equality and Human Rights Commission. The entire affair smacked of pettiness, division, plotting and grudge-bearing – all terms virtually synonymous with the Livingstone mayoralty.

Nick Helm wins Edinburgh Fringe joke award.

August 28, 2011 Any other business, Comedy Comments Off

It’s rare that comedy makes it into the news so the announcement of the winner of the award for the best joke of the Edinburgh Fringe is an annual highlight. The winner this year is Nick Helm for his joke: ”I needed a password eight characters long so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.”, though I think I actually laughed more at Matt Kirshen’s effort which came in at number 5: “I was playing chess with my friend and he said, ‘Let’s make this interesting’. So we stopped playing chess.”

The political link – if you’re looking for one – is that Nick received his award from the TV channel Dave, allowing the Guardian to wittily declare “It’s official – Dave loves Nick”. They’re a clever bunch, aren’t they?

Last year’s winner was Tim Vine for his one-liner: “I’ve just been on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. I’ll tell you what, never again.” which, whilst quite clever, I remember not finding particularly funny – on paper, at least. Again, number 5 was probably the one I found funniest, just for the brilliant and unexpected imagery from Gary Delaney: ”As a kid I was made to walk the plank. We couldn’t afford a dog.”

The wooden spoon for the worst joke of this year’s festival was won – deservedly – by Paul Daniels: “I said to a fella ‘Is there a B&Q in Henley?’ He said ‘No, there’s an H, an E, an N an L and a Y’.”

Livingstone ‘sacrificed the votes of Jewish and gays’.

August 26, 2011 Ken Livingstone, London mayoralty Comments Off

There’s an interesting read over at the Jewish Chronicle. Martin Bright reckons that Ken’s support for Lutfur Rahman in last year’s Tower Hamlets mayoral election was a conscious calculation that “backing Mr Rahman’s brand of Islamism-lite will win him enough support to justify sacrificing the votes of Jewish, gay or more moderate Muslim Londoners”:

“To win over voters who threw him out of office at the last mayoral election, Ken Livingstone will need to demonstrate that he is no longer a sectarian politician prepared to set one community against another. He must also recognise that the “cheeky chappy” act no longer washes with large sections of the electorate.

News of his speech at a Bengali festival, and his comments last week about voters facing a choice between good and evil at the forthcoming mayoral elections, are worrying signs that Ken is up to his old tricks.

The broadcasting watchdog Ofcom found against the Bangladeshi TV channel which broadcast Ken’s speech at the Baishaki Mela festival. However, he appeared alongside the highly divisive Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, who left the Labour Party to stand as an Independent.

Ken has calculated that backing Mr Rahman’s brand of Islamism-lite will win him enough support to justify sacrificing the votes of Jewish, gay or more moderate Muslim Londoners.

There is no doubt that Ken’s comments comparing himself to Churchill and Boris Johnson to Hitler were intended as light-hearted banter. But there is often a darker edge to the ex-mayor’s “jokes”. At the heart of his politics is the belief that he is on the side of good and his opponents are on the side of evil. No change there then.”

Ken’s lying makes quite a spectacle.

August 26, 2011 Ken Livingstone, London mayoralty Comments Off

I was intrigued by Andrew Gilligan’s article last week, in which he noted that Ken Livingstone keeps telling anyone who’ll listen how brilliant his health is. In a recent interview with Amber Elliott (the same interview in which he compared Boris to Hitler), he went on and on about his fitness. He mentioned his low cholesterol level, his ‘heart profile of an Olympic runner’, and the fact that he still doesn’t need glasses. He’s clearly concerned that he might come across as a doddery old veteran compared to Boris’ relative youth and enthusiasm. Indeed, were he to win next year, he would be 70 by the end of the four-year term.

But wait, what was that about not needing glasses? As Milo Yiannopoulos points out, it’s simply a lie. A silly and unnecessary lie…

[Image stolen from Guido Fawkes.]

Boris’ response to the riots.

August 24, 2011 Boris Johnson, London mayoralty Comments Off

Matthew Barrett over on ConservativeHome has compiled an excellent list of all the initiatives Boris has launched in response to the London riots:

  • A £50million fund to rebuild high streets: ”Boris Johnson today encouraged Londoners to support high street businesses as he announced a £50 million regeneration fund to rebuild areas damaged by the riots.” – Evening Standard
  • A new £3million fund to help restore riot-damaged high streets: ”The £3million High Street Fund is backed by London Mayor Boris Johnson and Prime Minister David Cameron and will offer immediate cash support to small and medium sized businesses still suffering in the wake of the violence. Up to 10,000 shops, banks, restaurants and other businesses across London suffered losses as a result of the riots. Small firms were among the worst hit.” - Evening Standard
  • £20million for riot-hit Tottenham and Croydon: ”Mayor of London Boris Johnson is to work with the boroughs to develop plans that may include redeveloping land for commercial use, improving transport infrastructure in Tottenham and establishing Croydon as a retail centre” - Evening Standard
  • Giving Tottenham Hotspur £8million to help move stadium: ”Boris Johnson is to offer Tottenham Hotspur FC a huge cash injection in a move that could finally end the battle over the Olympic Stadium, the Standard can reveal.” – Evening Standard
  • Calling for young looters to be sent to specialist education units: ”Mr Johnson wants courts to be able to send those aged 11 to 15 convicted of being involved in disturbances to pupil referral units (PRUs). At present, only headteachers can order a child to be removed from their school and moved to a PRU” – Evening Standard
  • Re-launching the Croydon Tramlink service - and offering a free service to help it get passengers back – Croydon News
  • Launching a giant screen to identify suspects: ”Faces of scores of riot suspects are being shown on a giant screen in one of the shopping streets worst hit when looters devastated London.” – Evening Standard
  • Demanding every rioter apologise to their victims: ”He has written to Justice Secretary Ken Clarke to say that the Government must make sure that rioters “are made to face up to the enormity of their appalling conduct”. Urging Mr Clarke to force every convicted rioter to do unpaid community service as part of their sentence, Mr Johnson also said that youngsters involved in the violence should be sent to tough Borstal-style schools.” – Evening Standard
  • Arguing against police cuts: ”Mr Johnson told Sky News: ‘The case I make to the Government, and I’m going to continue to make, is that numbers matter, and I think that the numbers we have got on the streets in London now they’re up on when I came in (as mayor). But it’s vital that we keep them high and that we keep public confidence. People need to see police on the streets out there.’” - Daily Mail

This is a timely reminder of everything that Boris has done to help those whose lives and livelihoods were so badly hurt just a couple of weeks ago. It comes a week after even Dave Hill – Ken Livingstone’s biggest supporter amongst mainstream journalists – acknowledged that Boris’ analysis of the situation was both more complete and more progressive than Ken’s. There is still a huge amount of work for Boris to do, but it’s clear that he is making good progress.

Ken and Hugo: a reminder.

August 23, 2011 Ken Livingstone, London mayoralty Comments Off

On the night that Hugo Chavez has quite monstrously offered his support to Colonel Gaddafi, it would be remiss of me not to remind readers how close Chavez is to another failed socialist. He and Ken Livingstone are best mates…

Ken’s announcement: neither major nor exciting.

August 21, 2011 Ken Livingstone, London mayoralty Comments Off

Ken Livingstone has today revealed that he will be making a “major and exciting announcement” about his campaign tomorrow. The void that followed his cryptic message has been filled by others’ speculation about what the announcement could be. The best guesses I’ve seen so far include that he’s standing down as Labour’s mayoral candidate, that Lee Jasper will be his running mate, that Colonel Gaddafi will be advising him on democratic affairs, or that he secretly fancies Lady Thatcher.

As much as I’d love any of those to be true, my sources suggest otherwise. I’m told that he and Ed Miliband will be unveiling plans for an ‘army of Labour volunteers’. That’s it. Unless I’m missing something – or my sources are wrong on this – the announcement won’t be nearly as ‘major’ or ‘exciting’ as we’re led to believe…

UPDATE – 22 Aug: My sources were correct. Ken’s launched a website which “lets supporters share information about the campaign and stage local events across the capital”. All of which sounds remarkably similar to the activist dashboard which Boris’s team launched – with far less hype and hullabaloo – about six months ago. Better late than never, hey, Ken?

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