Archive for December, 2011

Backing the Military Wives.

December 18, 2011 Any other business Comments Off

For those of us who have long since tired of Simon Cowell’s latest mediocre Pop Idol Factor winner being Christmas Number One every year, the emergence onto this year’s scene of Gareth Malone’s Military Wives Choir is very welcome indeed. Made up of wives and girlfriends of serving military personnel, and with all profits going to the Royal British Legion and military charity SSAFA, it would be a hugely worthy winner.

To ensure it’s named Christmas Number One next Sunday, you can buy it on iTunes here or on Amazon here.

Boris’ global support.

December 18, 2011 Boris backers, Boris Johnson Comments Off

Never let it be said that support for Boris is anything other than global. Boris backers can apparently be found as far away as Sydney…

Are any other Boris backers going abroad in the next few months? Photos of Boris merchandise in other similarly exotic locations would be gratefully received…

[Thanks to Jon Ellis for the photo. The mug can be bought here.]

When Boris commandeered a bus.

December 17, 2011 Boris Johnson, London mayoralty Comments Off

Just weeks after meeting his pledge to rid the capital’s streets of those monstrous bendy buses, Boris has now met another pledge – to bring hop-on, hop-off, Routemaster-inspired buses back to London. With three entrances and two staircases, they will greatly improve efficiency, as well as using around 40% less fuel than the conventional double decker.

The first of the new buses arrived in London yesterday. Boris headed out to have a look at the new arrival, and couldn’t resist giving his aides a scare. The Standard describes what happened:

“Boris Johnson unveiled his new bus for London today – and demanded the right to drive it through the city.

The Mayor said “Christmas has arrived” as he insisted on getting behind the wheel of the Routemaster.

Then, to his aides’ astonishment, he drove the bus past City Hall before it was driven on to Trafalgar Square.

Mr Johnson shouted joyously as he drove: “It’s fantastic – so manoeuvrable.” An aide asked him to stop before getting to a main road but he joked: “Why can’t I drive on the road? I’m the Mayor! I’ve got a universal licence!”

Ken’s silence on the tube strikes.

December 15, 2011 Ken Livingstone Comments Off

Andrew Gilligan’s kindly used my video on the Telegraph site and added his own thoughts on Ken Livingstone’s refusal to condemn the tube strikes:

“Ken’s efforts to woo the “squeezed middle” took another knock today when he refused to condemn some of the chief squeezers. The Tube drivers, London’s second-greediest people, announced four one-day strikes in pursuit of their modest and reasonable claim for triple pay and time off in lieu for working on Boxing Day.

This is in addition to their current breadline salaries of £45,000 a year for a 35-hour week with seven weeks’ holiday, final-salary pensions, total job security, guaranteed future above-inflation rises bringing their pay to perhaps £52,000 by 2015, a further £1200 bribe for not striking (ie doing their jobs) during the Olympics, and all for work that would not tax the physical or mental capacities of a 12-year-old.

Ken’s silence on the issue is simply explained: he is funded by the Tube unions. Over the years he has received around £140,000 in campaign donations from them, including at least £37,500 from Aslef. They can afford it, of course. But we can’t.”

Ken’s Christmas present to London: tube strikes.

December 14, 2011 Ken Livingstone Comments Off

Today’s news that tube drivers are planning four strikes, one of them on Boxing Day, will seem to most Londoners to be truly absurd. Tube drivers are already paid around £45k a year (a figure that will rise to over £50k in the next few years), yet are striking as transport chiefs have refused to give in to their demands for triple pay and a day off in lieu whenever they have to work on a bank holiday. At a time when many people are struggling financially, it’s frankly scandalous that these vastly overpaid workers are claiming victim status. And at a time when many businesses are struggling financially, it’s utterly appalling that one of the strikes is on Boxing Day, many shops’ busiest day of the year.

All of this is hugely embarrassing for Ken Livingstone, whose electoral campaign is not only backed but funded by the very people who are planning to cause such widespread disruption across London. Watch this video…

Ken’s new funding plan: dinner.

December 12, 2011 Ken Livingstone, London mayoralty Comments Off

Ever since Ken Livingstone announced his plans to cut transport fares by 5%, and even more so since he desperately ramped up his offer to 7%, we’ve all been bemusedly trying to work out how he could possibly afford it. He claims, of course, that the cut will be funded by TfL reserves, but TfL are insistent that no such reserves exist. As such, Ken’s three most obvious options, if he were elected in May, would be as follows:

All are possible, given Livingstone’s track record. The first would be an utter affront to the voters, having been lied to for six months. The second would be horrendously unpopular, as Londoners wave goodbye to night buses and the like, and face increasing delays, suspensions and cancellations on the Tube. The third would be grossly irresponsible at a time when we’re already struggling to reverse a Labour-created deficit nationally.

When I received an email from Livingstone’s team on Friday, with the subject line ‘Help us pay for a Fare Deal’, I thought perhaps they were to at last reveal how they would pay for what remains an unfunded, unaffordable pledge. The email invited me to a ‘special dinner’ in February, with ‘special guest’ (wait for it…) Ed Miliband! For the opportunity to share bread (or whatever it is lefties eat when being comradely) and be spoken to by the enchanting, charismatic leader of the Labour Party, I need to pay just £125 (or a frankly bargainous £1,000 for a table of ten). It’s an interesting funding technique, to be fair. By my calculations, to pay for the £1billion fares commitment that Ken’s made, they need just eight million people to attend…

Ken’s book: more mentions of Zionism than TfL.

December 12, 2011 Ken Livingstone Comments Off

Ken Livingstone’s autobiography – by all accounts, a bitter and turgid tome in which he attempts to rake over old grudges (to mix at least a couple of metaphors) – was met with a largely muted reaction when released. That quiet response could be explained by the length of the book – at 720 pages, it’s 100 pages longer than that of Tony Blair (who actually has a story to tell), so it’s more than possible that readers and reviewers are still masochistically ploughing through it, whilst simultaneously despairing at human nature.

Anyway, Andrew Gilligan has – heroically – made it to the end, and has performed an interesting analysis of the contents. He reveals that there are 64 mentions of “Israel” or “Israelis” in the book and 32 mentions of “Zionists” or “Zionism.”  This compares with only 30 mentions of the words “TfL” or “Transport for London,” and only 17 mentions of “NHS” or “National Health Service”. There are a further 23 references to “Nazis” or “Nazism” and 16 mentions of Hitler.

For a man who so often claims to love, live and breathe London, it’s clear that actually Livingstone’s biggest passions are borderline extremist. Where that becomes a problem is when his private obsession overspills into public life – whether it be comparing a Jewish journalist to a Nazi concentration camp guard, declaring English Heritage to be the biggest threat to London since Adolf Hitler, comparing Brian Coleman to Nazi Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels, being forced to apologise to the London Jewish community after anti-Semitic comments about the Reuben brothers, welcoming Yusuf al-Qaradawi (an advocate of the persecution of Jews) to London, or indeed comparing Boris to Hitler (a comment all the more pathetic, offensive and absurd, given Boris has Jewish ancestry).

The electorate awaits, Ken…

Ken’s ready for retirement.

December 9, 2011 Ken Livingstone Comments Off

When I caught a couple of minutes of one of those veterinary programmes on TV earlier, they were about to put an old dog out of its misery. Which reminded me that I hadn’t yet shared this photo…

Doesn’t Ken look well-suited to life as a pensioner; ready to embrace retirement and grow old gracefully, out of the public eye? Does he really seem a man ready to lead one of the world’s biggest cities for four years and into his seventies? Wouldn’t he be happier spending more time with his newts, his innumerable offspring and his old chums Lee, Yusuf, Lutfur and Hugo?

Rick Perry hits rock bottom.

December 8, 2011 Politics Comments Off

I’m not yet too interested in the US presidential race (and probably won’t be until after the mayoral election), but Rick Perry’s latest video – in which he questions gays being allowed to serve openly in the military – is truly something to behold. By which I mean, probably the most moronic campaign video I’ve ever seen…

For the 4,000 ‘likes’ the video has received, there are nearly quarter of a million ‘dislikes’. It’s prompted this response which, while immature, is thoroughly deserved…

London CF donate £4,000 to Boris’ campaign.

December 7, 2011 Boris backers, Boris Johnson Comments Off

I’m about a month behind on this (not an uncommon lag, truth be told), but it’s great to read of the £4,000 donation that London Conservative Future have made to Boris’ re-election campaign.

I fully expect Conservative Future to really come into its own over the next few months, unleashing literally thousands of young-ish Boris backers onto the streets of London to help with the campaign. That London CF is also able to make such a significant financial contribution is a cracking added bonus.

[Nicolas Clark and Richard Allen, Chairman and Treasurer of London CF, are pictured with Boris.]

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