Eric Pickles: did you realise he was fat? and other fascinating facts

An interview with Eric Pickles – who seems to be a Mail-reading, simple-minded Tory MP – appears on the Mail website today and it is a strange interview. Firstly, it took two people to conduct it / write it up; secondly it is only being conducted because Pickles is just the sort of ignorant reactionary simpleton that perfectly embodies the Daily Mail agenda; but finally, the interview refers to his weight repeatedly as if this was more important even than his attacks on Daily Mail targets.

The headline implies that this is going to be a fawning interview in which the Mail deifies Pickles for tackling the issues that it really cares about: ‘Every Englishman has a right to put the bin out without waiting for it to be collected, by Eric Pickles’. Yet the article spends the first 10 paragraphs or so discussing his ‘girth’; which just seems a bit odd because Pickles really is attacking every target the Mail wants attacked, yet they still cannot resist their obsession with weight. It is as if the interviewers were keen to point out to Pickles that he was fat, as if he didn’t realise – and nor would the reader unless they pointed it out, over and over again.

The rest of the interview is to be as expected: Pickles is being given a platform to repeat the sort of shit you normally see in a Daily Mail editorial:

I fully support all those households who are demanding the restoration of the weekly bin ­collection.

‘It’s a basic right for every English man and woman to be able to put the remnants of their chicken tikka masala in their bin without having to wait a fortnight for it to be collected.’

At a time when the government is introducing the most draconian cuts imagineable Pickles’ actually thinks that what people really want is their bins emptied weekly. Seems to have his priorities a bit skewed. On a personal note: who are these people demanding that their bins be emptied weekly? My local council empties my bins once a week and most weeks I have nothing in my waste bin – I have even had a smaller bin issued by the council because I just do not generate the waste. I think the clue is in the next part of his opus:

He also doesn’t see why everyone should have to use slop buckets for waste food. Another bugbear is the amount of packaging that ­manufacturers produce. Urging them to cut back, he says: ‘It’s ­frightening and becoming utterly ridiculous.’

Yes, packaging does need to be reduced but packaging is also largely recyclable which is why my bin remains so empty each week: I recycle. As for the mention of the infamous ‘slop bucket’, how many times does this have to be repeated: there is no such thing as a slop bucket. I have a food waste bin, it is small, sealed and perfectly hygenic. I put food waste into it (thus cutting down on the likelihood of rats / foxes getting at food scraps which he moves onto) and my kitchen remains a lovely place to be. Every time I see the Mail use the term ‘slop bucket’ it makes me want to repeatedly smash the ‘journalist’ around the face with my food waste BIN until they finally realise that the two are in no way similar.

Anyway, back to foxes and rats:

‘By ending the weekly collection, Labour has ­doubled the ­country’s rat population since 1996 (to an estimated 80 ­million). We are only 20ft away from a rat any time.’

Pickles also blames the withdrawal of weekly refuse collections for the increase of foxes in urban areas.

As a commenter points out: how are foxes and rats chewing their way through solid plastic wheelie bins? Furthermore, food waste bins (at least the ones used by my council) have a metal clip to seal them, meaning even if a determined fox (or group of rats working together) overturned the bin nothing would fall out to feed them. Pickles clearly does not believe in food waste bins given that he believes it is a fundemental human right of ‘Englishmen’ (not women, the Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish who deserve no such luxury) to put ‘the remnants of their chicken tikka masala in their bin‘.

I think Eric Pickles is personably responsible for the supposed (I’ll come back to that in a minute) increase in rats. My first piece of evidence comes from the Daily Mail website in 2008: ‘Britain’s rat population could treble to 200 million next year as councils axe pest control‘. The article is illustrated by the following picture:

Chicken Tikka to blame for increase in rats

This appears to be rats feeding on the ‘remnants’ of Chicken Tikka that have been misplaced into a traditional bin, rather than a food waste bin. Eric Pickles’ fundemental right for all Englishmen is leading to the direct feeding of rats.

As if this wasn’t enough evidence of Pickles’ clear guilt, let me present exhibit two, a recent article taken from the BBC Website: ‘Bradford faces huge explosion in city’s rat population‘. How could this be linked to Pickles? Well, as the Mail article points out:

Pickles knows all about local ­government, ­having run Bradford Council in the Eighties. He pioneered privatisation and ­outsourced much of the town hall’s work…

On a more serious note, the BBC story actually identifies the cause of the increasing rat population as people pouring fat down their sinks (which congeals into an energy-rich food source for rats) and increasing amounts of litter above ground. Furthermore, the Mail’s scary number of rats reaching ‘200million’ by 2009 also seems completely false (not a huge suprise, granted) as an expert points out:

Recent Press reports of the UK rat population exceeding the human population are likely to be gross over-estimates says London expert Dr David Channon.

He says the more reliable estimates centre on the figure of about 25 Million give or take a few million.

The 60 Million figure often quoted [which the Mail based its estimates on] comes he says from a estimate made at the turn of the last century which related rat numbers to cultivated acreage and coincidently, human population.
At that time there were 20 Million acres in cultivation and an estimate was made of one rat per acre. The human population around 1900 was about 20 Million as well which lead to the rough link of one rat per person.

However Dr Channon points out that the driver for the link was acreage in cultivation and not human numbers. So, whilst the human population is now around the 60 Million mark, the cultivated acreage is not markedly different to what it was a hundred years ago.

Despite this, the one rat per person link has now achieved the status of an urban myth.

He also points out that the link between fortnightly collections and increased visibility of rats is caused by people deciding not to put the waste into their bins:

People don’t want to live alongside decaying food for two weeks and often put it out in the garden where opportunist pests like rats, pigeons and foxes can clean it up. This creates risks both for the householder and the neighbours.

So, the bins are not to blame but rather people not using them. Either way, it seems that rat populations are much lower than the tabloids would have you believe – particularly in London where sewers increasingly flood, drowning huge numbers of rats at a time which helps maintain a steady population.

The Daily Mail article is a mess of myths and ignorance masquerading as ‘common sense’ and truth, which seems appropriate in a way because this is what both the Daily Mail and Pickles represent. Even though the two are firmly aligned the Mail article cannot resist ending with another dig at his weight:

Pickles has even banned ­refreshments from being served at departmental meetings unless they go on for more than four hours.

While it’s a small and symbolic gesture, aimed at saving money, the removal of plates of biscuits might have another happy ­outcome — ­helping Britain’s Local ­Government Secretary reduce that magnificent girth.

If Pickles had any kind of self-respect he would have told the two interviewers (Amanda Platell and Andrew Pierce) where to go, rather than accepting the mocking just so he can plaster his stupidity all over the Mail website.

Look into the future with Peter Hitchens

Peter Hitchens makes an interesting claim in the Daily Mail today about how he can help you ‘see the future’. His evidence for this is his amazing prediction in 2007 about the next election:

How you, too, can see the future

I told you so. Yes I did. Here’s what I wrote on October 16, 2007: ‘The result of the next Election is already decided – the Left will be in office, either with a Labour majority, or a Lib-Lab pact, or a Lib-Con pact, or a Tory government in thrall to Left-wing ideas. No radical change, on the areas which Tory voters care about most, will take place.’

See? You can look into the future, if you visit my blog.

So, he predicted that the election could end up with a Labour majority, a Lib-Lab pact, a Lib-Con pact or a Tory government and it turns out that one of those cover-all-bases predictions was right. Considering that Peter is about as far to the right as you can get, it also isn’t much of a bold prediction that whoever got into power would be – according to Peter –  ‘in thrall to Left-wing ideas’, considering that Peter considers pretty much everything apart from his own column to be evil left-wing drivel. I think Peter could have summed up his ‘prediction’ more succinctly if he simply said: ‘whoever gets into power will not satisfy my deeply backward, reactionary right-wing views.’

Whatever the Election Outcome, We Need Revolution

As I start writing this post it is 8:41 which means that polling stations all over Britain are still going to be open for another hour and 19 minutes. I’m nervous and judging by what I have read on various blogs, websites and Twitter, I’m not alone in feeling this way. For the first time in my life I genuinely care about the outcome of this election, not necessarily because I have anything more to lose at the outcome, merely that during this election I have tried to make an informed decision and as such my vote feels more valuable to me.

Judging by the people I have spoken to over the past few weeks not everyone makes an informed decision, not many people even try. They seem to try and make judgements based on hearsay or family voting patterns, or who looked good on TV, rather than taking the time to find out what each party or candidate actually stands for. I have some sympathy for them. I have received leaflets from the Conservatives, Plaid Cymru, the BNP and the Liberal Democrats, but I didn’t meet a single candidate or even hear whether any of them were in the area.

What is worse is that all of the leaflets were completely irrelevant to me because they were sent to the wrong constituency. I received a second leaflet from a different Liberal Democrat who was actually in my constituency, but I received nothing from any of his rivals. Strange that after 5 years of supposed planning only one party got the boundaries correct for my neighbourhood.

Adding to this sense of disappointment my local Conservative candidate’s email address did not work, even though when I eventually got in touch with her via Facebook she confirmed the exact email address that I had used for her. Labour got back to me with a message of thanks for the post I had written on Emma Moore – the same local Conservative candidate – and her dishonest leaflet as they had received feedback from various people that had read it. The local Liberal Democrats got in touch to say that they had forwarded my email on to the relevant candidate’s team, but I have heard nothing since. She called herself an ‘activist’, yet couldn’t even manage an acknowledgement via email. I voted Liberal Democrat, but they were extremely lucky that I had a different local candidate to vote for thanks to the border confusion.

So, politics has a long way to go to really engage with voters. Being a political ‘activist’ is all well and good, but too often I don’t think people realise that they need to move outside of political circles and actually engage with the voting public. As I experienced, even if you do try to get involved, to enter the political circle, you still find it hard to get even a one-word response from a candidate.

However, getting involved in politics has its own rewards. Today I cast a vote that genuinely meant something to me. I actually felt completely happy with my choice, because I knew what the party stood for and just as importantly exactly what the opposing parties stood for. I was glad I made the effort to read some manifesto summaries on various websites, as well as taking independent assessments such as

I read the leaflets that got put through my door and posted articles about two of them. The post on Emma Moore’s leaflet is now the top Google search result for ‘Emma Moore Conservative’ and the post on the BNP leaflet received a solid amount of readers and confirmed that it was the same leaflet that was being used around the UK – each candidate just added their name and photo. Very lazy, almost as lazy as the lies it told.

To her credit Emma Moore left a detailed response underneath my post on her leaflet, although she failed to return to answer any further questions. Nonetheless, she got in touch and tried to politely back up and explain her views. Her use of Facebook to engage with voters also gained my respect. A relatively young candidate I think she is at least using the right tools to engage voters. Just a shame she happens to work on behalf of an elitist party that only wants to engage voters every five years and spends the time in between treating them with utter contempt.

So, as the polls close and the results come in I can at least be satisfied that I was politically active during this election. I asked questions, I responded to the propaganda that was put through my door. I tweeted, I blogged, I watched the live debates, I read manifestos, newspapers and encouraged those around me to do the same. Whatever the result, I can rest happy that I participated as fully as possible.

But, here’s the thing that has become more apparent as this election campaign has gone on: now is not the time to rest, to stop, to give up. Whoever wins this election requires the utmost scrutiny, not from an unregulated and shamefully biased press, but from informed, active citizens. Thanks to Twitter, Youtube and bloggers who go the extra mile, lies are exposed at a faster rate than ever before, as is injustice. I sense a new spirit in the air, it is the spirit of revolution and disgust. Disgust at three weeks of solid attacks by a main-stream press desperate for the Conservative party to win the election. Disgust at the way that politicians come begging for votes every 5 years, only to lock the door of number 10 on us afterwards, treating us with utter contempt until the next time.

Britain needs a fairer voting system and an end to the two-party system. The vast majority of people in this country hate the Conservatives and everything that they stand for; yet here we are, the masses, nervously awaiting a possible Conservative majority because the voting system makes it possible and the scare-mongering press make it probable. This is no longer acceptable. It is no longer logical. The earth is not flat. The power resides no longer solely in the hands of the politicians. The sooner we realise this, the quicker we can remove the Conservative elite from power, forever.

A X for Liberal Democrats is Two Fingers to the Daily Mail & Friends

So. Here we are on the eve of the election and I’m nervous – pretty much for the first time – about the outcome. I’ve always voted Liberal Democrats because the only party I’ve known since voting age has been a Labour party pursuing an increasingly Conservative agenda and before voting age I lived through the sleaze of the Conservatives. I voted Liberal Democrats with the expectation that people would be surprised, that they would see it as ‘wasting’ a vote on a party that couldn’t possibly win the election. However, I never saw it like this. I always viewed the tactical voter or the voter choosing only a party that they thought might win as wasting their vote. For what can be more of a waste than voting for the party that you do not really want in power?

Before the first TV debate I asked a question on Twitter along the lines of ‘will anyone be voting Lib Dem, because I’m sick of people saying they would like to vote Lib Dem but they then do not because they won’t get in’. I received a lot of responses suggesting that they would be voting Lib Dem, largely because Labour had let them down and the Conservatives are a terrifying alternative. However, it wasn’t until after the first TV debate that a Liberal Democrat vote really started to vote for something, and after that point the right-wing press constantly attacked the party to confirm that perhaps they were a realistic option after all.

Now, suddenly, it seems as if people who once merely claimed that they would like to vote Liberal Democrat, might actually vote Liberal Democrat when the time comes. I’m genuinely excited at this prospect. However, because of the electoral system in this country Labour and Conservatives may not gain much more of the overall vote, but still seem likely to win a huge amount more seats than the Liberal Democrats. This system is likely to either create a hung parliament with a stand off between Labour and the Conservatives, or it will provide the Conservatives with a narrow victory.

I am dreading a Conservative victory. I work in Further Education in one of the most deprived areas in Wales and one of the target zones no doubt for Conservative attacks on the long-term unemployable, disabled or just poor people in general. During the third TV debate Cameron launched his evening with an attack on the welfare state, and there is every reason to expect he would launch any Conservative victory in exactly the same way.

I’m extremely distrustful of Cameron’s glib pledge to ‘fix Broken Britain’; firstly, because ‘Britain’ isn’t broken, it just seems that way if you read certain dreadful right-wing newspapers; secondly, because any parts of society that do require fixing – such as the vicious cycle of poverty, crime and failure – are not going to be fixed by hollow phrases about ‘getting people back to work’ or ‘giving responsibility back to volunteer armies’; and finally because the Conservatives seem to believe that small government can fix big problems, but haven’t explained in anyway how. All we do know is that the Conservative candidates have no experience of how the vast majority of people live in the UK, and they couldn’t give a damn about the poor.

I also cannot talk about voting without mentioning the disgraceful behaviour of the press telling us who we should vote for and why this is the best reason for us to vote Liberal Democrat. Think of it this way: Tony Blair cozied up to Rupert Murdoch for his support and then bent over for Murdoch after he was elected. Likewise, if the Conservative Party are elected they will owe the press for turning their newspapers into extended Conservative leaflets for the past 3 weeks, if the Daily Mail doesn’t agree with a progressive policy (this is hypothetical, I know I’m talking about the Tories here) then they will do all they can to force Cameron to back down – much like they did with Labour over drug classification.

Now, imagine that Nick Clegg is in power and wants to force through some progressive policies that has Dacre and other shit-stained editors frothing at the mouth. He and his party have already received every possible attack from the right-wing scare-sheets during the run-up to election, so not only does he not owe them anything, he can also safely ignore their opinions. If the Liberal Democrats can get elected without press support, why would they want to court it whilst making policy decisions? Wouldn’t it be lovely to have scientific policy, for example, dictated by scientists and experts rather than the constant interfering, lying and badgering of the Daily Mail?

I hope I wake up on Friday morning to find out that Cameron hasn’t won. However, if he does scrape a majority then I know his slash and burn policies, his elitism and his total lack of appreciation of how powerful the ‘little people’ are will lead to civil unrest. At the end of their term – if they even survive this long – the Tories will be thrown out by a landslide to give way to genuine electoral reform and they will never govern again. Every cloud and all that.

That, though, is a long way off. For now I will be voting Liberal Democrat and urging others to not vote for a Tory party that really does offer them nothing, unless they just happen to be very rich.

See this wonderful guide for more details on the ‘evil’ Tories.

Your Local Candidates: who are they?

This election is supposed to be exciting because we have seen the leaders on TV having a carefully staged discussion. A discussion that allowed some pretty inane questions to be asked and answered without any further questioning from the person asking the question or others in the audience. It says a lot about the state of British politics that such a rigid and unrevealing ‘debate’ has caused such a stir amongst the voting and non-voting public.

Whether it has actually changed anything remains to be seen in terms of votes cast on May the 6th, but I imagine for many of us we are more interested in meeting our local candidates, and here for me lies the problem: so far in this election I have not met any of my local candidates.

This isn’t to say they haven’t been visible locally or even called on my house whilst I am out, it is merely to say I haven’t heard of anything happening locally and I haven’t answered my door to a single candidate. I have received a Plaid Cymru leaflet from Danny Clark, a Liberal Democrat leaflet from Jackie Radford and a Conservative leaflet from Emma Moore (I think I got something from Labour but have misplaced it). All of it pretty uninspiring and in Emma Moore’s case, a disgraceful mish-mash of lies, implied racism and contradictory drivel.

So, how am I or any other voter supposed to choose between candidates based on one leaflet? Perhaps the problem is that many politicians feel just as apathetic about politics as the general public. If they know that an area normally votes Labour, irrespective of whether Labour has abandoned its roots by making the rich richer as well as getting involved in illegal wars and torture, then they send out a leaflet to simply go through the motions, they do not expect any vast change in voting patterns, so they do not bother really trying to win votes.

However, all of the candidates have put contact information on their leaflets and this includes a website. So I visit them to see what else I can find out.

The Liberal Democrat Candidate website is pretty uninspiring on a local level, just six mainly short paragraphs of information about Jackie and an invitation to click on the Liberal Democrats website. No details of what Jackie is up to, whether I can see her or whether she’ll be in my area in the run up to the election. I find out a bit more about what Jackie has done in her career, but I don’t find out anything more about the kind of person Jackie is.

The Conservative Candidate website is a more personal affair, with more details and a few photos of Emma and South Wales. However, the political priorities are the same as on the leaflet so I’m still not finding out a great deal more. She does have a Facebook page, and this does get updated quite regularly with comments on a range of matters. It is these opinion pieces that give me a better idea of what kind of views she has – this is the kind of stuff as a voter I’m looking for.

The Plaid Cymru Candidate website is not at all personal and you have to dig around to find the one paragraph dedicated to Danny, and no contact details are given (nor are they on the leaflet) this is a huge minus for this candidate. If I cannot easily contact you when you want my vote, what chance I have got if you actually get in?

I guess my point is, on a local level I am still as much in the dark as I have been during previous elections. I might have seen the three party leaders on TV, but on a local level I know nothing more about the actual person I would be voting for to represent my area.

After my previous post on Emma Moore’s leaflet campaign I emailed Emma to offer her a right to reply, to which she has not responded. I also emailed both the Liberal Democrats and Labour. The Liberal Democrats responded quickly that they would be forwarding the email on to the relevant team, but I have heard nothing since. Labour have yet to issue any kind of response. I’m pretty disappointed with this, and it seems to dent any spirit of public activism.

I spent a couple of hours of my time pulling apart some lies being delivered to thousands of houses by the Conservative candidate and I don’t have a single proper response from the three main parties on this matter. As a user of social media perhaps my expectations are too high. I kind of expect my candidate to have a blog, a Twitter page, a decent website and I expect them to check their emails regularly. I kind of expect to get a real feel for the candidate through the open sharing of their views on a range of matters. Apart from Emma’s Facebook page I don’t get any of this from the candidates. I am no wiser than before.

It is clear politics is changing and social media will play a huge part in this – I genuinely believe we will start to learn an awful lot more about local candidates in the next few years as we expect them to share more of themselves with voters. However, at the moment most of us will have to make do with staged TV debates in a studio far, far away.

Emma Moore, Conservative Candidate for Ogmore and her dishonest leaflets

On Saturday morning I received a personal message (addressed ‘Dear Resident’) from Emma Moore, my local Conservative candidate for Ogmore. In this personal message she outlines ‘why we need change in Britain today’, and I was immediately struck by a a series of tabloid lies being wheeled out by Emma in an attempt to gain my support. I therefore decided to take some action and post on it. So here we go, tabloid lie number one:

The Conservatives would review the effects of Labour’s misguided laws – such as those which results in a grandmother being tagged for selling Goldfish to an underage customer

Oh dear. Emma Moore is using a story about a grandmother being tagged for ‘admitting causing suffering to a cockatiel’ and for selling goldfish to a person under 161. So of course the tabloids like the Daily Express and Daily Mail used this as ‘proof’ that Britain had gone mad because they buried the animal cruelty bits and tried to pretend the punishment was just for selling a fish to an underage child – which, we should not forget is still a crime and I thought the Conservatives were traditionally tough on criminals?

Unfortunately for Emma Moore an ‘and’ follows the above quotation and she continues:

terrorists not being deported as it would be against their ‘rights’

Ah yes, the tabloid obsession with ‘rights’, notice the use of inverted commas around ‘rights’, making it clear that Emma doesn’t believe terrorists have any ‘rights’. Presumably she is happy to have extraordinary rendition and torture because people we label terrorists shouldn’t have ‘rights’.

As has been pointed out before, the tabloids have an agenda to discredit the human rights act, the very thing that attempts to guarantee every individual basic human rights irrespective of the colour of their skin, the religion they may or may not follow, whatever crimes they may have been accused of, their sexuality and so forth. It is the basis of trying to create a world in which everyone is guaranteed not to be abused by any state that signs up to the charter. This doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but here we are being told that ‘rights’ for certain groups are bad.

However, as the Guardian reported in 2009 the majority of tabloid scare stories blaming the lack of deportation of a criminal in most cases has nothing to do with human rights and more to do with legal loopholes and other complicated aspects of international law. Rarely does human rights have any impact on deportation, and if it does it is because the country to which they may be deported is likely to kill or cause unnecessary suffering to the deportee. We are supposed to be a civilised country, we have no form of capital punishment, so should we really deport criminals or ‘terrorists’ to a certain death sentence? To do so undermines the morality of us all, it would appeal only to the basest instincts of a minority of people in Britain – the dark instincts which the Human Rights Act is designed to keep in check2.

So far from Emma Moore we’ve had two tabloid myths repeated, but she’s happy to keep ploughing the ‘aren’t you outraged’ furrow and moves onto bail:

Simple things have been overlooked. Can you believe it is not illegal to breach bail?

Now, I’m moving outside of my comfort zone here, but from what I have read bail – like most aspects of law – is quite a complex subject and Emma is trying to oversimplify it. From what I have read it is true that the ‘breach of bail conditions is not an offence as such’, but a ‘constable may arrest a person who is believed to be likely to breach or has breached any condition of their bail’3. Furthermore, there are two aspects to breaching bail: firstly, the breaching of bail conditions (moving house, breaching a curfew, moving within areas that are off limits, approaching witnesses etc); and secondly the failure to attend court at the set time without a reasonable excuse – this is a separate criminal offence under the Bail Act 19764.

I’m not going to pretend to fully understand the intricacies of bail, but I know that the subject is far more complex than Emma is suggesting and that because breaching bail conditions normally results in arrest and the reconsideration of whether bail will be granted a second time I’m not overly sure what making it a criminal offence will actually achieve. Sadly, Emma doesn’t make any attempt to inform me.

Emma Moore isn’t finished with bail yet though:

In most cases bail is offered automatically, even for relatively serious crimes, only for some people to commit more crime whilst awaiting trial.

Here is where the tabloid world of crime starts to contradict itself, for only a couple of paragraphs earlier we were being shocked at the harsh sentence handed out when a goldfish is sold to an underage customer, now we’re being told that ‘relatively serious’ crimes allow the accused to get automatic bail. Well, which is it? Do we have a system that penalises even the most petty offence harshly, or a system that is too weak to deal with those accused of ‘relatively serious’ offences? You cannot have both Emma, unless your paranoia makes you imagine that the criminal justice system is more interested in persecuting goldfish selling grandmothers than hardened criminals. Considering the justice system remains independent from the government I’m not sure you’d be able to argue this point5.

Furthermore, bail is normally granted unless:

Once charged, the police must release you on bail unless the custody officer reasonably believes that:

  • There is doubt about your name or address; or
  • Detention is necessary to protect you or somebody else; or
  • You will fail to attend court or will interfere with witnesses or the administration of justice.

That seems to leave a significant level of discretion for those involved with the case to refuse bail. Whilst it is true that bail is granted in the majority of cases, it must be remembered that the majority of alledged crimes are not actually serious. If the allegded crime was serious and any member of the public was in danger, then bail could easily be refused. I understand that sometimes this system isn’t perfect, because a certain element of human judgement is involved and human beings are not perfect, nor can the behaviour of other human beings be predicted accurately. However, as far as I am aware no-one else seems to be putting the bail system at the heart of their election manifesto, presumably because their are real problems to tackle. Emma seems more concerned with scaring me into voting for her, rather than winning my support by tackling the real issues. At least she is clearly on-message with the rest of the Conservative Party and the Tory press.

Next up, a very predictable and depressing attack:

We would scrap the European Human Rights Act… stopping ridiculous compensation claims like prisoners getting money for not having heroin supplied to them in jail and being ‘forced’ to go cold turkey.

Wow, you’re selling me the Conservative dream Emma! A vote for the Conservatives, is a vote to scrap your basic, fundamental human rights. I know, a vote for the Conservatives has always meant this, but at least they used to be subtle about it. Now they actually think it should be a policy they can show off. As for the heroin story, yes, you guessed it, it is taken from the Daily Mail: ‘Drug addicted prisoners receive compensation for being forced to go cold turkey’ (I suspect that Emma is a Daily Mail reader).

Like most stories in the Daily Mail, it is also palpably untrue, as a serving prisoner points out on his blog in a post about prison myths:

One such lie, a myth in the making, is that hundreds of prisoners were awarded compensation after being refused heroin. It speaks to the sanity of Mail readers that they could ever think this could be true, but there you are. The case in question was actually about de-toxing from heroin. In the community, detox via the NHS is supported with a regimen of drugs which lessen the pains of the process. But in prisons, this support was absent, forcing the detoxers to suffer. The compensation came about because of this inexplicable disparity in treatment, which led to their being caused unnecessary suffering. Feel free to object to that, as you please, but it had bugger all to do with being refused heroin.

It is terribly depressing to think that the Daily Mail is not just directly attempting to force a Conservative government on us for the next four years, but also that their lies are indirectly being fed to people in my constituency. People who will not have immediately spotted the lies because they don’t spend their spare time writing or reading this blog and others. That there is little more to her opening statement than the above tabloid lies says a lot about the Conservative tactic of scaring people into voting for them. I can understand this from their point of view because their policies are directed at maintaining and increasing the wealth of the richest 6% of the country, and these policies are hardly likely to convince many in this area of Wales to vote for them.

And one final point, Emma Moore, if I may direct this at you personally. Under the heading ‘Safer Communities’ you have three bullet points; I have serious issues with two of them.

Firstly, you state that you want to ‘Have a dedicated border police to crack down on immigration and visa offences’. How exactly is this point related to ‘Safer communities’ unless you’re trying to link the idea that immigrants make a community inherently unsafe? I find you wedging immigrants between serious crime and drug-related crime, under the heading you have chosen, deeply offensive and it smacks of racism. You actually seem to be stating that our communities would be safer if we cracked down ‘on immigration and visa offences’. Do you seriously not understand how racist that sounds? Immigrants are human beings who seek a different way of life in a different country for a huge variety of reasons, they are human beings, the same as us all9. Yet here you are stating that they make our communities unsafe. I wonder how safe immigrants will be if you do scrap the European Bill of Human Rights.

Secondly, you state you want to ‘increase drug treatment programmes to tackle addiction-driven crime’. Sounds like a good idea, in fact this is exactly the kind of programme that the prisoners were refused when they sought compensation for being denied this treatment. You know, the story you used as an example of the UK’s crazy compensation culture. You manage to completely contradict yourself in the space of a few paragraphs and if you actually spent an hour looking into your ‘evidence’ you probably would have spotted just how stupid you were being here.

It staggers me that you would not even conduct the most basic research before publishing a leaflet and posting presumably thousands of them through doors all around this constituency. You have so little respect for your prospective voters that you feed us this tabloid drivel as ‘evidence’ of why we should vote for you, yet even your own pamphlet inadvertently undermines your own arguments.

I have emailed you a link to this article and offer you the right of reply, I will publish it underneath this post. So, if you want to argue any of your points further then I will publish them here. I am still considering printing this on leaflets and doing my own mailshot because I am that disgusted with your leaflet.

UPDATE 1 – 25th April, 2pm

I appreciate the early comments and take on board my perhaps simplistic idealism with regards to the Human Rights Act, however, I stand by my assertion that to alter or scrap the act requires judgements to be made about who deserves and who doesn’t deserve human rights. If history has taught us one thing, it is that governments and human beings in general are not the right people to make these judgements. It is only safe and fair to ensure that everyone has basic human rights, irrespective of how testing that can be at times.

Secondly, in response to how long this took me, well, under 2 hours with Google at my side. I would like to spend more time tidying up what I have written, considering my points a little more and attempting to write something better but as a one-man-band with other commitments I have to be satisfied with off-the-cuff posts like this. Still, I think I have demonstrated that it wouldn’t have taken Emma Moore long to research her stories and consider her prospective voters.

With regards to Emma Moore, I am still awaiting a response. I have passed this post to the local Liberal Democrats, but am still awaiting a Labour leaflet to get contact details of who their candidate is.

1, See Enemies of Reason: ‘The Proof at last‘ and ‘April Fool‘ for more details on how the tabloids skewed this story and the Express even laughably campaigned to ‘free her now’.

2, See Guardian: ‘Bad Press: human rights myths exposed‘.

3, See wikicrimeline: ‘Breach of bail conditions‘.

4, See Your Rights: ‘The rights of defendants‘.

5, See Wikipedia: ‘Separation of powers‘.

6, See Your Rights: ‘The rights of defendants‘.

7, See The Daily Mail: ‘Drug addicted prisoners receive compensation for being forced to go cold turkey‘.

8, See Ben’s Prison Blog (written through sending written blog posts via the Royal Mail to a friend on the outside who uploads them to his blog): ‘Myths in the making’.

9, See Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!: ‘We need to change the rhetoric on immigration‘. And Angry Mob: ‘Deport me, I’m not even integrating‘.

Some Important pre-election links

It has been a very busy week for the blogosphere and Twitter, given the wealth of bullshit being printed by Tory-supporting newspapers.

One of the best round-ups of this can be found over on Tabloidwatch and makes essential reading, also pay Die Dog or Shite the Licence a visit for his take on this story. Enemies of Reason also has an important post on the matter, as well as a brilliant selection of worthwhile articles to read that almost makes this post rather pointless.

Beau Bo D’Or has created some graphics highlighting the importance of disobeying Rupert Murdoch at this election. He is not advocating voting for any particular party, but just not voting for the Murdoch-backed Conservative Party:

Disobey Murdoch

Johann Hari has been in fine form (not that he ever isn’t) with some important articles on the election: ‘The forces that have been blocking British democracy are becoming visible in this election‘; ‘If you’re looking for class war, you can find it – in David Cameron’s policies‘ and ‘The great bloody hole in the British election campaign – Afghanistan‘ – all essential reading.

Five Chinese Crackers has screen grabbed an Express headline declaring that David Cameron has already won the 2010 election.

Finally, if you’re not on Twitter I think now is the time to seriously consider joining. The amount of interesting articles I’ve read this week that I have only found from following people on Twitter has been immense. Twitter is helping to drive the truth forward, and has managed to destroy the Tory-press’ amazing smears this week within minutes of their publication. You can follow me on Twitter here.

Not Even the Daily Mail can Defend Conservative Policies

The founder of the Daily Mail – Alfred Harmsworth, Lord Northcliffe – started the Daily Mail as a nationalistic newspaper designed to stand ‘for the power, the supremacy and the greatness of the British Empire’. David Lloyd George referred to Northcliffe as ‘one of the biggest intriguers and most unscrupulous people in the country’ and earned the wrath of Northcliffe and the Daily Mail when he refused Northcliffe’s list of people who should be in his new government.

When the Daily Mail wants a certain outcome it isn’t afraid to dispense with even the vaguest pretence of being a newspaper and is happy to become a propaganda machine for the Conservative Party. Just look at the attacks against the Liberal Democrats:

The political process requires an active, questioning and investigative press. What it doesn’t need it a newspaper offering up dishonest attacks aimed at discrediting one political party in favour of another. The Daily Mail has consistently attacked Gordon Brown, but never to the extent that Clegg is now being attacked, largely because Brown was never perceived as a real threat. Cameron and the Conservatives have pretty much escaped scrutiny. Even when the Daily Mail reports that London is the most unequal city in the Western world with the top 10% being worth a staggering 273 times more than the poorest 10% they do not mention Conservative plans to scrap the 50p tax rate for those top earners, nor do they mention the scrapping of the ‘mansion tax’. Yet any other issue is immediately linked in some way to the Liberal Democrats, even though they haven’t been in power for so long they couldn’t possibly have caused or contributed to any of the current problems.

This election does bring hope of real change, and perhaps a belief that power can reside outside of either Labour or the Conservatives. The Conservatives were voted out of office in 1997 in a landslide of utter disgust, and Labour are facing a similar defeat in this election. However, it would be strange to hand the reins back to the Conservatives when they are no better than the shower of elitist shit that was dispensed with and rejected so overwhelmingly in 1997.

The Daily Mail know the Conservatives cannot win the election through policies – as their policies are only going to benefit the richest 6% – and David Cameron seems insistent on not actually discussing on elaborating on policy, just an endless stream of meaningless soundbites. They know that they cannot polish an electoral turd or sell the Conservatives as a great hope. So they do what they know best: discredit, bully, attack, lie, skewer and most importantly ramp up as much fear as possible so that people are scared into voting Conservative as the lesser evil.

I wonder if this time it will work, as surely there must be a backlash against being told who to vote for by a newspaper that – outside of its ignorant readership – is universally reviled and hated? Only time will tell, but I sincerely hope people vote for the policies they agree with, not vote for the person that the Daily Mail tells them to.

You Cannot Convince Everyone

Possibly the most humourous part of David Cameron’s TV appearance in the Leaders Debate was his ‘I met a black man in Plymouth’ story, where he claimed that a 40-year-old man had in fact served with the navy for 30 years – making him 10 when he joined. However, it gets worse, even the Daily Mail are running the real story of this man, who is a bit upset and perplexed about David Cameron putting words into his mouth:

‘He said I spent 30 years in the Navy. I was actually in for six years, as a marine engineer serving on HMS Intrepid and HMS Berwick.’

‘At least he took 10 years off my age.’

Still, not everyone is convinced David Cameron did mess up, take this Mail commenter for example:

Sounds like a Labour set up. He probable did say those things to David Cameron so that when he was quoted he could claim Cameron lied. Typical underhanded Labour tactic.

– David, London UK, 18/4/2010 14:11
Click to rate Rating 26

And at least 26 people agree with him.

Hypocrisy: Thy Name is Littlejohn

Another Friday morning and another hideously hypocritical festering turd of a Richard Littlejohn column infects my PC screen. In it Richard tells us that the ‘real world’ is sunny and all is well, but he still woke up yesterday wanting to slash his wrists (oh how happy the real world would be if he actually did). Why would he be feeling this way? Because of Gordon Brown of course:

It was the soul-destroying sound of Gordon Brown on the Today programme, droning on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on…

Not for the first time, I found myself shouting at the wireless – which isn’t an ideal way to start your day. Stop telling lies. Answer the damn question. For once in your life, don’t patronise us. Oh, for heaven’s sake, just shut up.

The irony of Richard Littlejohn writing this makes me want to put my fist through my PC screen, but I’d much rather Richard actually engaged with his critics in an adult debate about any of his favourite topics, because if he did that he’d be utterly destroyed. Littlejohn is too thick, too ignorant and too wrong to do this. Hence why on Question Time he forced an audience member to take back his perfectly reasonable question that he was one of the BNP’s favourite writers. Littlejohn’s blunt-headedness was entirely predictable: ‘I’ve called them knuckle-dragging scum etc in my column, so take that back’, he completely misses the point that his columns regularly attract a large BNP comment base and he provides the BNP with exactly the right blend of bullshit and outrage that they thrive on.

If Littlejohn actually engaged in a sensible debate he would realise how he fuels the BNP and shares many of the same attitudes, but as demonstrated in his clashes with Will Self and Johann Hari, he is just a blustering coward who shouts down his opponents or dishes out childish insults. Littlejohn seems to think that thanking his mail box for supporting him every now and again is engaging with his audience, or thanking some idiots who paid to attend a ‘literary’ lunch with. It isn’t Richard, how about you tackle some real questions or topics once in a while, rather than writing horseshit from a gated mansion in Florida. Perhaps if you did, you could then criticise others for not doing the same you hypocritical coward.

Before Littlejohn even got into any of the above he couldn’t resist a quick plug for his new book, claiming that sales were good. Which is a surprise given that Amazon have already started slashing the price by 50%, in preparation for the hordes of 1p copies that will be available shortly.

Here’s a tip for your Littlejohn fans on a budget: rather than waste £6.49 on his book, why not just visit the Daily Mail website and copy and paste Littlejohn’s archive into a Word Document and print it. Get a nice A4 sheet of cardboard, defecate on it, and bingo: a front cover. Which reminds me, Littlejohn’s website is back up and runninggiven that he has something else to sell – funny how it was abandoned when he wasn’t whoring anything isn’t it? Just look at it, I think the pen dripping poison is a designer having a laugh and Littlejohn isn’t in on it. Likewise, look at the title in the browser bar, he is referred to as ‘Richard Little John’, brilliant, the web designers have managed a small cock joke!

I do have some issues with accuracy though, the cartoon drawing on the front page is missing proper lines of face fat, and the grinning photo on ‘the career’ page is badly out of date – considering the bloated mess that waddled into the Question Time studio the other night. It also fails to mention what an utter lying bastard he is as well. Which is why I’m offering to set up and host an alternative Richard Littlejohn website, perhaps links to the latest blog posts on his lies, homophobia racism and general shitness. If anyone is interested in getting involved with content / running it / graphic design, email me at (replacing AT with @ of course).

For now though, enjoy these comments from his latest column:

“The LibDems have unveiled a poster modelled on the Tories’ ‘Labour’s tax bombshell’ campaign in 1992. It claims, without a shred of evidence, that Conservatives are planning to put up VAT.” says Richard Littlejohn.

I’m not sure why you’re upset about someone making claims without a shred of evidence. It’s pretty well your rasion d’etre.

– ZedsDeadBed, Truro, UK, 9/4/2010 8:46 Click to rate Rating 22

I’m genuinely surprised by this. do you really get paid for churning such dull nonsense.

– David, London, 9/4/2010 0:40 Click to rate Rating 17

If the quality of this article is anything t go by its no wonder the price of your new book has been slashed only a week after its release

– Simon, Newcastle, 9/4/2010 0:53 Click to rate Rating 17