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Mahatma Gandhi once said:

"A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history."

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Summit's Going On....

Dearest Polly,

The international arena of political leadership and decision making appears to be an expensive game ('expenses game', even). At a time when your spreadsheet is teetering on the brink of collapse, under the strain of zero-fatigue....I know, why not helicopter in lots of VIP(oliticians) to compare and contrast global economic ruin....and squeeze in tea with Queenie at Buck House. Why don't they borrow our's free?

The G8 Summit in Gleneagles in Scotland cost £80 million.

Do you think our leader has any chance of delivering on that elusive moral compass. Not just bankers Gordon....!

Hope this glitz and blitz gets some results. Nothing like a little Obamarama....but at what cost to the taxpayer and the planet? Let's hope Gordon prayed for some divine intervention and a new 'values-free' script writer. No I'm not bitter, but I have been flirting with a little decision making myself.

Whilst it has been an emotionally charged, side-splitting journey, I think it's time to reveal my secret identity....and give up the blog.

Big Kisses

Ivor X

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ditch the Candles!

Ditch the candles...quick!
Ivor X
PS Are we there yet?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Flick the Switch


Just stumbled upon this little reminder of the lack of integrity so often demonstrated by our politicians. Is it any wonder that Labour does not have the voting public in support? Could someone please remind me why the third runway is going ahead?

Since active demonstration is the only option when consultation is a sham and democratic voice is ignored....tomorrow offers a second opportunity to deliver the climate change message. At 8.30pm it's lights out for Earth Hour 2009. Don't be embarrassed if you hadn't noticed too much publicity. I have googled local news reports on participation in Edinburgh and Scarborough (along with the rest of the world) but in the main, the UK press campaign appears to be as feeble as our goverment's effort to tackle climate change.

So whilst Vancouver, San Francisco, Sydney, India, Norway and many other countries get behind the great Switch Off...even The Guardian has attempted to dampen British enthusiasm. Well this is one vote I intend to get behind as it will actually have some tangible effect....if only a symbolic declaration of the strength of individual feeling towards tackling global warming. Take some candles to Hyde Park Polly and we can Vote Earth together. I have a feeling we won't be alone....

Didn't notice 10 Downing Street in the list? Well I'm 'flicking the switch' with pride....anyone able to pull the plug on political ineptitude whilst we are at it?

Be ready early Polly, I've been tinkering with the tandem and it may take us awhile to get there....

Big Kisses,
Ivor X


Will be back on the blog on Monday. Busy putting the finishing touches to my banner. See you tomorrow....bright and breezy. Wear something warm.
Ivor X
PS I'll bring my banjo...pack some refreshments!

Super Clanger

Dear Ivor
We must remain positive. We are not passive observers of our lives. I am not advocating storming the citadel as promoted by Prof Chris Knight, more of harnessing our own resourcefulness. Although a cliché, necessity is the mother of all invention, and we certainly need some of that now. Come off the allotment and start brain storming.

I am not being pessimistic when I say that the government is incapable of restoring the financial and environmental equilibrium to this country and I think that only through personal endeavour will we get through this crisis.

We can blame the bankers, Gordon Brown, light touch regulation and general greed, however finding a scapegoat does not resolve the issues. Throwing missiles at Fred Goodwin’s property diverts action into anger. We are all accountable for our future and before we look back with nostalgia at the past, even before this crisis happiness was not something we could boast a lot of.

We have created an ethos of entitlement that has paralysed our society, we have embraced legislation in favour of personal accountability and experienced fear instead of trust.

Initially I listened with some interest to the Michael Meacher and Fraser Nelson exchange on the Today programme, the first demanding that the bankers be held accountable for their avarice and the other recommending more leniency in order to attract the best banking brains. I couldn’t help but wonder if the best banking minds had got us into this dilemma perhaps we could do without them and Michael Meacher’s call for responsibility should start a little closer to home, the super clanger debacle for a start, but perhaps the odd £100 million of taxpayers money is of no consequence. The interview had no insight and was as beneficial as the bloggers puerile bickering on the daily politics show yesterday. A full debate on tomorrow’s “Put People First” march would have perhaps been too contentious?

Whilst concentrating on the bbc do you think they could do a find and replace on this article exchanging the word banks for government and save Alistair the trouble? Bound to need to use this text again in the future.

Poll x

Ps I’m not scared of Guido any more!


Thursday, March 26, 2009


Alex Dolan is guilty of misconduct? Speechless.

Making Waves

Dear Ivor

Alex Dolan, the supply teacher who secretly filmed unruly behaviour in classrooms, has been found guilty of misconduct.

I have watched her Despatches footage again with a deep sense of despair, even more so now that money in all areas of public expenditure is severely under pressure, or has even been cut completely. It is easy to fall into the trap of feeling totally helpless, however there is something that we can all do. We don’t have to stand by and let the system fail our children, a lack of education has a knock on effect on the whole of society from crime, employment, general aspirations and health and well being. We can all do something to assist our schools, whether it be with small financial covenants or with volunteering our time, and yes I know a CRB check would be required, or by continuing to register our complete dissatisfaction with an establishment that allows a GCSE science class to be subjected to at least 26 supply teachers, as Alex Dolan revealed.

The government promised us better education, better health services and a fairer society; however with the burden of debt that we are saddled it is extremely unlikely that this can be delivered, even in the long term. Watch out flying pigs!

Although it is attractive to relinquish responsibility and by implication accountability for our children’s education to a legislative body it does need to be a partnership. We cannot stand at the school gates and grumble if we are not prepared to sometimes assist if the school is struggling or officially complain where there is indifference or negligence.

Making waves may be a bit scary, but when your child’s well being is at stake what the hell!

This is certainly a time for thinking outside of the box; education does not begin and end at the school gates and our attitudes as parents and carers of young people to education matters a hell of a lot.

We do have the power to make things better and in these times of cash shortage a bit of innovative thinking would not go amiss. Where is our blitz spirit? We can’t let the buggers get us down!

There will undoubtedly be gems within our communities that can really make a difference.

Poll (thinking positively!) x


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In loco parentis?

Dear Ivor

My keyboard silence of late, although probably welcome was not as you might have thought due to a fit of pique, but more of the power surge variety rendering my computer bust!

I have now borrowed a laptop from James and am back, not a little reluctantly, online.

My absence from all things Google did undoubtedly have its benefits. After all googling does attract a foreshortened day, as the hours spent online disappear far more quickly than those spent on other activities, like the more lucrative paid employment! A sense of exasperation with the human race and especially politicians dissipates slightly when the world of blogdom is not at your finger tips and I was sorely tempted to leave the laptop unopened. Would I be missed by our hoards of followers or just by you?

However a bit like your reference to the temptation of hoppy beverages, I have been drawn back into this dark browsing world (perhaps I should open the curtains), further pyjama clad mornings beckon with a hazy memory of life before blogging, endless coffee, when I should be totting up my 5 a day, and the temptation of chocolate never far from my mind. That, your continuing good nature and the odd bit of catharsis thrown in for good measure, drives me onwards but possibly not upwards.

This morning’s dawdle through news articles and my re-acquaintance with Lobbydog and his mates has reaffirmed my belief that the government is well and truly on the back foot. When stories head the news like, Government to track facebook friends, you just know they are desperate to be diverted to the more mundane. That and the proposal to pay grandparents to look after their grandchildren are far more manageable than the odd trillion of debt. Whilst on this subject do you think I might be able to claim something for the dog, after all, technically speaking, Edwina is yours and I am only acting in loco parentis?

The hideous task of book balancing must start with the balancers themselves. They have warned us that things will be difficult, however at the moment this statement appears to be applied exclusively to the private sector. We need to see some gestures that they too are on board the titanic task of getting this country back into the black, or even the grey would do. I have a sinking feeling that they have been rendered inert by the enormity of the task and the precariousness of their own positions in government. Tough decisions need to be taken from the top down, starting with the emotive MP expenses saga, recognition of the additional debt of the hugely under funded public sector final salary pension scheme and the shelving of innumerable initiatives, however well intentioned.

The concentration of all parties’ efforts is required for economic and environmental survival. Most people don’t expect the government to have all the answers but they do demand honesty and action. Unpopular decisions will have to be made and presented clearly not shrouded in indecipherably constructed rhetoric and diversionary accounting methods.

We will do our part if you do yours?

Poll x


Monday, March 23, 2009


Awaiting conclusion, awaiting confirmation.
Synonyms include undecided, incomplete, unresolved, approaching, forthcoming, around the corner....

A little memo:
Britain has commited £1.5 bn to green stimulus...less than one third of France, less than one sixth of Germany and China is spending more than 110 times as much as the UK. Apparently, Britain's stimulus package is one of only three out of sixteen green financial initiatives to be classed as PENDING.
Capable of being done again, and again and again......that's about sums it all up!

Polly...I'm at the allotment indefinately...doing justice to Lady Evelyn and some good Men of Norfolk.

Ivor X

PS I now have a full understanding of the real reason why Britain is a nation of binge drinkers.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hole in the Soul


Just a quick blog as I'm not doing politics at the moment...too disillusioned.

As for drinking, which I am doing at the moment....though not excessively (damn those Irish kicks) ....I feel once again the critical point has been overlooked. Instead of imposing increases on the price of alcohol I can't help thinking that we should be asking WHY we all enjoy getting so tanked up....especially the middle classes. Never really given it much rational thought before today!!

Was at the local Angling Club 'Cheese and Wine' yesterday and noticed Vanessa knocking back the Fitou with gusto. I have a sneaky feeling the price was not influential in her choice and certainly did not inhibit the speed of attack. This binge-drinking phenomenon is about our state of mind and not the price of Alco-Pops. More than one third of British boozers sign up to excess....and we ought to be questioning what drives us to drink. We are a nation of bingers and we consider alcohol to be a socially acceptable drug...that 2 in 5 people need to consume to make love. (How do you hold your pint at the same time?) From experimentation to enjoyment, to drinking to cope then drinking to survive. It all comes back to the 'Hole in our Soul' as Dr McPhillips at the Priory purports. And he ought to know. I have an uncanny notion that he also knows Vanessa who, after her third glass of wine, officially earned the status of binge-drinker.

If we act fast we too can find out too if we 'belong' to the club...hic!

Back to my Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted...before they put the price up!

Ivor X

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tom Jones

On that basis...there must be room in our cabinet for Tom Jones....Aunty Gladys says she'll even forego the space taken up by her sherry bottles. Think she's carried a flame since dancing with him at the Con Club in Ponty. Head of Culture perhaps...or Foreign Affairs???
Bit reticent...sick of drudging through political treacle. Might set fire to a cactus.
Ivor X

Democracy rules ok?

Dear Ivor

No doubt you are limbering up your vocal chords in preparation for the match on Saturday. In this instance I am afraid the green, green grass of home is more of the emerald variety for me. Come on O’Driscoll!

Just when I thought the ineptitude of our politicians had reached a peak along comes David Lammy. I am aghast but immune to surprise.

However I blame myself for believing in part the rhetoric of politicians and not peeking behind the façade of slick smoozing for substance, skills and experience. For being influenced by promises and not facts, for relinquishing my ideals for their ambitions, forgoing realism in favour of hype, the list goes on. I stand admonished and not a little pi**ed off.

My eyes have been prised open to what I suspected, but I must admit avoided, that our political masters keep us preoccupied with petty and unnecessary bureaucracy so that we have little time for scrutiny of their activities. We have taken the continuation of our democracy for granted and assumed that government by “The People” involved an exclusive group only.

The “Yes Minister” culture, wryly recounted through Chris Mullin’s diary, pervades the corridors of Portcullis house with in the main public acceptance, along with it seems petty criminals. Avoidance of collective responsibility for the continuing evolvement of our democratic process appears to outweigh our desire for change.

Unfortunately the very adversarial nature of our political system facilitates those who would rule and not those who would govern.

What are you doing on the 28th March? Fancy putting the people back onto the democratic agenda.

Poll x


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

University or Bust!

Dear Ivor

Sounds perfect, was hoping you were going to come up with something, otherwise I was preparing to go “off radar” with Libby!

Had James on the phone last night grumbling about his mounting debt at uni and by pure coincidence woke up this morning to the ongoing debate for the increase in tuition fees from between £4,000 to £20,000.

The latter figure seems astronomical and would need some justification. The general consensus amongst the majority appears to be a figure of approximately £5,000. From my limited experience in this field, there does appear to be scope for some courses to be condensed into a far shorter time scale and for a more business like approach to be adopted.

This may be at odds with the uni ethos of time spent honing social and drinking skills, but when faced with escalating debt perhaps the focus ought to be shifting to a more efficient degree process, with emphasis on quality not quantity . When uni attendance was free it was of no consequence if time was spent (dare I say wasted!) in the student union bars, with the little grey cells straining under the onslaught of both knowledge and alcoholic stupor, perhaps this is where our binge drinking culture is firmly entrenched into our young people?

A university year based on a school model may be necessary, however shouldn’t government in collaboration with university staff be investigating the alternatives, before shoving up prices for more of the same?

Wonder what the students think?

Poll (with ever increasing debt) x


Monday, March 16, 2009

A Little Hoppier?

Ahhh Polly!
How about a walk with Edwina to the Foresters Arms...I'll wear my heels!
Big Kisses
Ivor X
PS Better treat you to a Skrimshander before they put the prices up. You've always been ripe for a fruity finish. I'll be sparkling and refreshing, if a little hoppy!

Blogger's Diary

Dear Ivor

You may have stumbled across something for our Economic Heads to get their teeth into. The JAK Bank principle of a mandatory saving element incorporated into a monthly payment against borrowings does seem extremely sensible. A solution to debt dependency?

Speaking of dependency I am pleased to see that Gordon has rejected the minimum charge on a unit of alcohol in England. Whilst I acknowledge the misery that excessive consumption can have on individuals, their families and friends, and the health and social implications, I was a little concerned about the motivation behind this suggestion.

The NHS bill for alcohol abuse is an estimated £2.7bn a year. The bill for tackling weight related problems is £4.2bn. Should this scheme have been passed it could have led the way for a minimum charge per gram of fat or salt content in food items? Perhaps a set levy could then be introduced for stiletto heel heights per cm, higher heels command higher prices to fund the £29m surgical costs for damaged feet? Where would it have ended?

Still Scotland seems to be forging ahead, it will be very interesting to see the effects of the charging structure, could lead to cross border booze cruises or a boom in internet shopping?

I must admit I am trying to veer away from politics today. After listening to an extract on Radio 4 of Chris Mullins diary am completely convinced that the country is run by incompetent egotists with little conscience and absolutely no accountability! It is no wonder that the political scene is strewn with carcases of failed initiatives and budget deficits. Am feeling too cross and despondent to comment!

Instead of my usual limited political observations, thought I would let you know how the dinner party at Andrea’s went on Saturday night. As promised I gave her your excuses, I don’t think she suspected anything, and as requested did not divulge our blogging foray to anyone. Robin was also under strict orders to keep stum or else.

Whilst sitting at the table mopping up odd bits of conversation to my right and left I had a moment of clarity, absolutely no one present was interested in politics, the environment or the state of our education system. From the usual source there was the ongoing progeny one-upmanship, allotment tips and tricks, which you could have contributed to, sexual innuendo, which you also could have contributed to, and the most mind numbing exchange of views on the cost of car servicing. There was a minor comment on the economic crisis however this was soon extinguished by far more stirring and animated remarks concerning joint problems.

Even my valiant attempts at an early exit were thwarted by Robin’s antics with a stick-on moustache and his insistence on a nightcap at 2:30 in the morning!

What has happened to me, not only do I spend far too much time on the computer I have also lost the tenuous connection between myself and a group of people with whom I thought I shared common interests. How wrong can you be!

Poll x

Ps Think I need a meeting of like minds!


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Point of Interest.

Polly, you're back....I've missed your sparkling wit and that no-messing ability to put me firmly in my place!

Many points been taken on board. And I promise to be less grumpy and show more humility. Sorry if I offended the leading lights of blogdom and yes I recognise a certain greenness to my pallor. Damn them! Oops...there I go again.

Talking of points.....I have been putting my finances in order. After raiding under the mattress I have carefully wrapped up my global economy in one very small, organic handkerchief (Dick Whittington style) and am off in search of an ethical bank....but not to London. No cynicism remember, I'm serious and I think I may have found one. I was hoping for your balanced opinion and financial expertise. It's called JAK Bank and has been operating in Sweden for donkeys years. A bank that lends money at an interest rate of 0%. Sounds too good to be true. Thought the top financiers that are trying to sort out our British economic stability might fancy a little gander too. That is assuming they are not all teacher training....

Now I have a dilemma....cycling to Sweden (good beer), or staying at home and watching the Italian game (more beer). You may find me off line or at least incoherent for a while! What's new?

Let me know your thoughts, although after this weekend I may have nothing left to invest!

Happy thoughts,

Ivor X

PS Points mean prizes!

Friday, March 13, 2009

No qualifications required

Dear Ivor

Suffering from blogger’s block after Tuesday’s tirade and needed some quiet time for reflective thought, plus as a precaution to add my solicitor’s name to ICE (in case of emergency) numbers in my mobile phone.

Now remind me just when you thought it would be a good idea to name and shame some of the A list bloggers on the block. Perhaps a little envy over Lobbydog’s increasing followers and the failure to get a mention in the “Daley Dozen” has got to you, and being, now how did you say it, ah yes, “top of the political pops” is not so far from your own aspiration as you might like to think?

However to even consider messing with Mr Guido himself was nothing if not downright stupid, you have only got to look at Derek Draper’s fate to know that a fraction of that scrutiny would send you scurrying back to your shed in search of spiritual enlightenment.

Anyway your criticisms are a little misdirected as the accused only ever promised title tattle, gossip and in the case of LD compulsive nasal clearing, not political ambition or altruism.

Your impassioned plea for political action and your entreaty for a leader to guide you to the Promised Land are unfortunately both destined to go unheeded, unless you act yourself. To sit back into a quiet life, pottering on the allotment, composting at will, expecting a saviour to emerge, possibly of Irish extraction, who has the answers to climate change and social breakdown is a pipe dream and you gave up smoking some time ago.

Perhaps we have become too accustomed to being over governed and feel daunted at the prospect of being immersed in the democratic process; however the alternative is a dictatorship and the total erosion of civil liberties. It is quite tempting to continue to sit on the sidelines and observe, criticising the main players when they miss their goals and harbouring thoughts of how we could do it so much better, but secretly suspecting that we probably would rather not.

And despite your scathing comments I do actually admire people that stand up to be counted, like Leila Deen, however how many of us have the courage of our convictions or feel too overwhelmed by the pace of every day life to take on the additional responsibility for other people and bear the brunt of media interest?

We are very lucky to live in a country where we still have freedom of speech, albeit becoming somewhat eroded, however despite this freedom we do suffer from political apathy. Is this born out of complacency, cynicism or a lack of engagement? Is politics what other people do, a mysterious career in which qualifications and job responsibilities are subliminally hard coded into Oxbridge graduates?

Is it because we don’t really understand the machinations of government that most steer clear? Where are the post descriptions that outline the skills and understanding you need to govern a department or even the country? Rhetoric alone has proved to be inadequate and yet we rely heavily on this ability to select our candidates. Perhaps we should not be surprised then when they fail. Did Alistair Darling’s law degree bestow on him an understanding of economics? Has Alan Johnson’s union background provided him with an insight into education and health? In what other walk of life are qualifications and experience totally ignored?

Perhaps that is why politicians always have difficulty in answering direct questions because they don’t actually know the answer and perhaps don’t really understand the issue in the first place.

Our political system is based on an adversarial system where quick wits are admired more than slow deliberation. What kind of people do we really want to have responsibility for our national security, economic stability and social cohesion? I think I would prefer if it wasn’t a novice.

Poll (self-confessed tree squeezer) x

Ps Do we need an NVQ qualification for becoming an MP?


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Flatearther or Treehugger?

Polly, which side are you on? And where the bl***y hell are you?

It seems lunacy is catching.....will Mandy listen to Sir Nicholas Stern if he promises to eat up all his custard? Why don't they enter into more debate? Consult a little? Not constructive action surely? Wake me up when there's a plan.

About time we all did something. What brand of lunatic are you? Flatearther or treehugger?

Ivor X

PS You know which side of the fence I'm on!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Political Blagging!

Right That's It!

Does Leila want some rhubarb to facilitate the forthcoming debate with Baron Mandy? Rhubarb, rhubarb that it? Our politicians would prefer open, civilised debate with our adolescent pranksters? The revolting greenies may get in your face...but here's a few facts. We are not all adolescents, we are not all eccentric activists, we are not all incapable of lucid, persuasive debate, we don't 'get off' on risking legal action just for the hell of it and we are not all anarchical threats to government.

Some of us would like a quiet life, safe in the knowledge that our leaders have climate change in hand. But when you carry through a motion to build a third runway with a clear appreciation of the wave of plunge us all into despair and frustration. We can wring our hands in regret or we can throw cabbages. Most of us are too bl**dy British to do more than tutt....myself included. Damn rugby injury. God! I could scream at the whole patronising 'educated' lot of you who have the power and authority to change the world. Instead you argue, procrastinate, lecture, criticise.....and DO NOTHING!

Leila Deen's three minutes of fame played out the pathos of our political stagnation. The furor of commentary was about her methods not her reasoning. Are none of you clever enough to see the wood for the trees.....? Peter Mandelson, I respect your decorum and request for debate. When was environmental banter on your agenda? How many climate change gurus have you sought out? Whilst there is clearly economic reasoning in your Heathrow rationale, I'd prefer it if you saved the world economics is not the forte of our unelected government. You only offered debate after Leila Deen threw custard at you. Why don't you follow through with an open mind and real consultation with the people who are serious about saving the planet? We are not all activists...most of us are too cowardly. You might find yourself being persuaded by some educated scientists, entrepeneur, even the odd you dare?

As for political bloggers...we're a pretty yellow-bellied lot too aren't we? Guido with his outright vulgarity which keeps us all blogging on for more shock value. Iain Dale for his nicely packaged cynicism. Lobbydog for sniffing out the much loved gossip. Are we kidding ourselves? We are doing absolutely nothing to affect political decision making. We slate, moan, cuss, criticise...pat each other on the back, throw in some cynicism and comedy. But we are all as lily-livered and ineffective as those we lampoon. What is our own motivation? To be top of the political pops? Now you are there....what next? Iain and Guido...I'm talking to you? Ranting actually...because that's what bloggers do isn't it? How many people blog on to you daily? The politicians fear and envy the power you harness. But what chance is there of you translating it into some form of action to move this country forward. We are all churning out rhubarb....and letting the daffodils grow under our feet.

No, I don't know the answer. If I did, would you listen? Who are we prepared to take seriously if it's not our politicians or the Leila Deen's of the world? Who do you actually admire? Who engenders the qualities that inspire you to take note? What are the credentials that persuade you listen?

Our political leaders are university that the vital ingredient? Dr GB himself, Phd in History at Edinburgh, son of a Minister. Mr Cameron, Degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, son of a long line of stockbrokers. Nick Clegg, Degree in Archeology and Anthropology at Cambridge, son of a banker. Is that how they got to these positions of power? Oh! And Peter Mandelson, Degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, son of an advertising manager. Is this what earns them the right to be listened to but not to listen? This means they are right and others are wrong? Joss Harman, Degree in Politics and journalist for the Ecologist. Ummm, who else..Leila Deen, Degree in International Studies and Politics and writer for The New Statesman. Ahhh! But they belong to Plane Stupid don't they.....nevermind. Take off your blinkers. How many people who signed the petition against the third runway where university educated but too conformist to chuck custard? It's because we all cow-tow that our politicians can rail road democracy. So we are all as spineless as the governing power. High time we all actually did something....instead of slag something.

We can all carry on blogging out our self righteous character assassinations...but I yearn for someone to show me the way. I'm sick to the back teeth of our impassive acceptance of the crap that is our electoral system. Show me a leader that can drag us out of the quagmire? Be they entrepeneur, politician, environmentalist, German, scientist, minister, even financier (god forbid)....but for all our sakes...let them be an ACTIVIST.

Back to my composting....


PS Bring it on Jeremy Paxman. Leila and Mandy?



I'm spending the day at the allotment. I'll get more sense out of a pile of compost.

Could someone out there in the blogoshere do a simple compare and contrast of the manifestos for each party. I'd like to know if any of them have a plan. Labour could certainly do some 'lessons learnt'. Conservatives...well, it's all 'tit for tat'.

I've blogged off in exasperation from Labourlist....because they are NOT LISTENING! I refuse to resort to shaking my bells in defiance and singing LA LA LA LA LA LA LA at them. So I've dumped them for good. Let me know when they've reinstated democracy.

As for Nick Clegg....I'm in contemplative mode. Do the Lib Dems do Saving the Planet, Electoral Reform and a Democracy that Works? If so I may take a closer look at their manifesto.

Meanwhile I'll spend some peaceful hours festering amongst the vegetables!

Ivor X

PS No I didn't mean the politicians...I like my vegetables...they have more moral responsibility!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Meglomania Rules OK?

Dear Ivor

How you managed to link the outmoded conveniences of your local pub with proportional representation is beyond me! I could enter into a puerile slanging match into the logistics of gender bodily functions, necessitating the removal of several layers of clothing or the mere operation of a zip, however I have taken into account your fuggled condition and decided against this. Anyway am sure that the enforced exercise was beneficial and the cold air may have momentarily brought you to your much needed senses!

Am sure Leila Deen is not alone in feeling that she had no recourse other than to take direct action, and is indicative of a increasing sense of despair at the fingers in ears attitude of our politicians, people are shouting unheeded from checkout queues to online forums at the political decisions being taken in our names.

Leila’s action undoubtedly did attract far more press coverage than the less reported peaceful Convention for Modern Liberty, despite it attracting 1500 people in the London venue alone and hosting a high profile list of speakers.

Direct action however does carry with it a huge risk that the object of condemnation could emerge as the victim and illicit far more sympathy than deserved. The seemingly small step from klaxons to custard also feeds the underlying paranoia in politicians, giving more weight to their argument that they should be protected from public contact in the form of both words and deeds.

Proportional representation would be a huge step for our politicians, the division of power between parties, rather than single party domination, does require the alteration of an entrenched mindset with an inherent leaning towards megalomania. However even they must recognise, if we shout loud enough, that the current system is being held together by bureaucratic sticky tape and creaking tradition.

Nick Clegg, an advocate of proportional representation, whilst outlining his plan for the future has made reference to bankers saying. "When doctors and teachers do something wrong, they're barred from working. Disqualify them now." Can we suggest he should promote the same penalties for our MP’s?

Please note however Mr Clegg the electorate are in no mood for games. Beware of low flying confectionery.

Poll x


PR and WCs


Why is it that invariably when you frequent a traditional country pub the Gents' loos are always outside? This is blatantly sexist. We have to humbly shuffle out into the cold and expose our manhood to the elements whilst the ladies enjoy a moment of relief within the comfort and warmth of the hostelry. Frankly, it makes no sense. Ninety percent of the people in my local today were men....and we all duly trotted out into the rain at regular, fuggle-induced intervals. It is not that I am bitter. I just thought that in this age of equality that the common sense decision would be to inconvenience the fewest.....that would be the handful of women whose admirable bladder control meant considerably less need to excuse themselves. Now if I had summoned up the guts to initiate a fair vote amongst the patrons of the day, would the outcome have reflected the proportionate representation? Would democracy have played out fairly....or would the local, all powerful WI have overthrown the mumbling male majority?

Funny how thoughts collide (much like the French front row), but whilst surfing the blogoshere, I later discovered an article by Polly Toynbee calling for electoral reform. It is now official...I am utterly in love....with Polly. Not you, I hasten to add, as I'm still bristling from your condemnation of Leila Deen's custard throwing antics!

I hereby declare that I will comment no more on Labourlist as it's a waste of blogging time. Whilst I am not a sneering intellectual, I am certainly a disconnected voter who occasionally decends into frustrated monologues about the 'roadblocks to democratic engagement.' Polly is spot on.....this is all wasted effort, for without proportional representation our votes have no chance of winning. We do need a choice closer to our views and Labour and Tory are not offering me an option. So where to now?

It seems Jack Straw also has electoral change in mind but it is even less proportionate than 'first past the post'! He openly denegrates Proportional Representation as it produces weak governments (ha ha ha), and advocates that we switch to Alternative Voting. I'll leave you to read up on this ludicrous system of voting whilst I consider my own personalised brand of campaign for electoral reform. Could Nick Clegg be my salvation or should I while away my evening working out how to make my vote count?

You're not in the WI are you Polly?

Ivor X

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Drastic Action

Go Leila!

It was custard, nothing more sinister. And yes it was an invasion of his personal space. It was an assault...on his senses.

I know it breaks your heart to hear that Mandy's Savile Row suit may be a challenge for the drycleaners but I feel you've missed the point. It is not about whether Leila was right or wrong but rather WHY she did it? Most of us are happy to idly sit and moan about the ineffeciencies of our politicians. But, if the third runway was going to plough through your father's grave, what would you do after your letter-writing and petitions were cast aside? If democratic measures were functioning effectively, then she would not have needed to resort to custard. Why doesn't Mandy take the upper hand and offer Leila an opportunity to exchange views? Let's guess, she'll be arrested and prosecuted.......and Lord Mandelson? Mmmmm thought so!

Guess what? I don't want a third runway either. I would like immediate solutions in place that address the very real issue that is climate change. I've campaigned to no avail, written a letter (still unanswered) to Ed Miliband, signed petitions, hooned millions of paper aeroplanes in peaceful you think my government has taken note?

Ivor X

PS How do you make custard again?

Friday, March 06, 2009

Custard Sigh

Dear Ivor

I have retrieved your banished sandals from the garden and given them a bit of a brush up, you never know in years to come how much an historical virtual PM’s footwear may be worth. Have you still got your old specs?

Although I can appreciate the underlying principles of Plane Stupid’s activist Leila Deen, I must admit I winced a little at the green custard throwing incident. I am certainly no fan of Peter Mandelson and think that his green credentials are as credible as Jeremy Clarkson claiming to be sorry about his disparaging remarks on Gordon Brown’s leadership skills.

However peaceful protest and informed debate should not be considered as standing back. The mere words of the late Gordon Wilson had a more powerful impact on attitudes in Northern Ireland than any aggressive retaliation could have achieved.

Acts of violence simply delay dialogue and shift the focus. Climate change resolution is too important to be reduced to a pie throwing competition.

Poll x


Thursday, March 05, 2009


Only 4735 miles to Bhutan...are you coming or not?

Public Wall-e

Dear Ivor

I have been plagued by doubts today, probably due to excessive blogging! However this morning whilst listening to the Today programme (I have tried to wean myself off Radio 4 but it is proving harder than I thought, I blame Evan!) heard the news update on the Chinook helicopter debacle.

Due to fundamental errors the eight helicopters were purchased without analysis of the software documentation and codes to ensure that these met the UK Defence Standards, simple mistake! As their airworthiness can’t be checked they have remained in a hangar for the past 9 years.

The cost to the taxpayer has spiralled from £259m to more than £422m or a mere £52.5m each. Makes Sir Fred’s pension pot seem not so bad, he couldn’t even afford one!

The Commons public accounts committee chairman Edward Leigh said that the Chinook Mark 3 programme had been "hamstrung from the start" with "bad decision-making to the point of irresponsibility".

Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies (a Cambridge alumnus, ex-banker (Morgan Grenfell) and with wife employed as his parliamentary assistant, probably of little interest to you), took on the post in October 2008, said he "entirely accepts the criticism that successive reports have made" but claimed there was "nothing new " in the latest public accounts committee report. He seems to have ignored the disclosure that the new downgrading programme to get the Chinooks into the air has been adopted without checking costs with Boeing, hey what’s a few more millions between taxpayers, therefore resulting in an even higher bill.

Mr Davies who does seem to have a problem with recognising the efficacy of defence equipment perhaps ought to reconsider using Wall-e’s old mate as his kit advisor.

However frivolity on Google images aside and on to doubts, why is it that we can rightly haul the banker’s over the coals for losing millions and being rewarded for failure but the odd £100 million here and there in the public sector goes largely unchallenged by the British people.

Why isn’t there a public furore over this scandalous waste of money and the cost to our service men and women? Why is there little desire for accountability here? Are we manipulated into focusing on convenient diversions whilst the bigger picture remains shrouded in sound-bites and convenient legislation?

Or are we just so used to politicians’ failure that we allow them immunity from responsibility?

Poll x

Ps Need to look for our own Head of Defence and Foreign Affairs, think we can exclude Mr Davies.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Delusions of Grandeur?

Mmmmm......I suspect in the aforementioned cases it's delusions of grandeur not 'fear of crime' that is a more apt description of their state of mind. As I sit here musing quietly in my allotment, and sharpening my machete, it occurs to me that Fred the Shred should be feeling very, very afraid! Do you think for one moment that he is quivering in his silken-lined slippers? neither.

Please could you forward my comforting words to Mrs Harris and Mrs Harmen....'GET A LIFE! Only walk when the green man flashes!!!

Keep safe Polly,

Ivor X

PS Behind you....

Life of Crime?

Dear Ivor

Iain Dale has published an open letter to Mrs Carolyn Harris (wife of Tom Harris MP), who has expressed fear for herself and her children if MPs’ addresses appear in the public domain. She appears to be suffering from a “fear of crime” and perhaps needs to put things into perspective. Most British people are good, law abiding citizens who wouldn't dream of ever turning up on an MP’s doorstep.

Harriet Harman and stab vests unfortunately spring to mind. Living undoubtedly has its risks, although the alternative does seem a little less attractive. According to the British Crime Survey the most serious violent crimes against the person have actually decreased since the mid 1990’s and are similar to the rates 25 years ago. Strangely this is not reflected in people’s perception of the risk of crime which has increased. These figures are also supported by the Office of National Statistics.

Why don't people in the UK feel safe? We could place the blame at the tabloids scaremongering doorstep, however when MPs themselves want to conceal their addresses from the British public, it only adds to the conspiracy theory that they know something we don’t know. So triple lock your doors and view everyone with suspicion, because therein lies safety and not a little servitude.

Poll x


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Life Laundry

Even Obama is entitled to do some life-laundry from time to time!
Ivor X

Churchill or Bust?

Dear Ivor

I am perplexed by the frantic scurrying around of officials after the return of the bust of Churchill by Barack Obama, which under the Bush regime took pride of place in the Oval Office.

Could this be a back handed snub to the British people, or perhaps it is a covert slight to Churchill, or even a rebuff to Sir Jacob Epstein’s anarchic and polyamorous tendencies? Is he perhaps sweeping out the last vestiges of the Bush administration and the rebuke is aimed at them?

Or maybe it was because the item was on loan and it was time to return it and frankly President Obama has got other more important matters like banks and companies going bust on his mind!

Poll x


Democracy for the Poor?

Un oeuf is un oeuf!

No more jovial sarcasm. Whilst I'm happy to neck it in copious quantities, I steadfastly refuse to become...bitter. I'm just swopping my espadrilles for those sandals and tuning in to my love-force. Ah! That's better.

What's happened whilst I've been away Polly? Clarity of mind (not claret) and total confidence in my government, has reassured me that whilst Fred the Shred was distractedly searching for his well-hidden conscience, the powers that be will have wrestled that £670, 000,000,000,000,000, 000 (what's a few zeros between bankers) from his bulging wallet and redistributed them amongst the poor! NO?

Well, I know you accuse me of being naive, but I really thought Gordon had a heart. Don't tell me he can't do anything because it's legally irretrievable. Our government is made up of our brightest legal minds in Britain? Lawyers and Politicians versus The Bankers....lay your bets! It's a traversty. We all know that. If Gordon Brown can flex some legal muscle in public interest it's a monumental coup for Labour. If our PM does not have the authority to right this wrong then the whole notion of credible governance is blown wide open. What exactly is Gordon's job remit and accountability? Is there a job description for PM? In other words....who exactly is in charge?

The real issue is power. Who runs the country? Lord Hailsham once said that the UK is an 'elective dictatorship'. Can you believe that, for the 'core executive', there is NO written constitution outlining clearly in law it's responsibilities and limits? My sandals are now lying in a heap at the bottom of the garden under my jangling chakras. I think you should pour yourself another black coffee and read 'Power and Participation' in Modern Britain' . Whilst lengthy....I learnt quite a lot about the interplay between political forces....and ultimately what barriers exist to democracy.

It seems we are at a watershed moment with our government. The Convention for Modern Liberty led a timely debate at the weekend. One of it's topics centred on 'Democracy and Liberty', exploring how 'true' democracy can be incorporated in our existing institutions. Is it possible to drain the bath and keep the baby we already have?

In my tree dwelling days I would never have believed I would find myself nodding to Tony Benn's address....but then I wouldn't have believed he'd be on 'YouTube' either! Still...he talks sense. He is not into soundbites and political 'tit for tat'...and frankly I agree with with the words that wisdom has bestowed upon him. Civil Liberty is a moral question. When rights are taken from the people and retained by the politically powerful, then democracy is at risk. There must always be a right to campaign. If we are denied a right to be heard then politicians do not have to listen. This is especially true for the poor as freedom only comes with economic security.

Egalitarians seeking greater social justice must commit to the notion that we must win the battle against poverty. Electoral reform must reduce the major inequalities in income and wealth, and a 'true' democracy must listen to the voices of the poor.

I stood behind a lady at the bank today who was crying. She was withdrawing her children's savings of £300 to cover her bills. She felt she was acting immorally because this had been put aside for her son's future benefit. Morals sorely missing in the bonus-culture of the rich. This whole farce is about entrusting our morality into the hands of the politically powerful. Power should be cherished and used wisely for the common good.

So how do we distribute income fairly in a nation that ranks fourth most unequal society across the EU (Dennis and Guio, Monetary Poverty)? Assuming that Fred the Shred donates his pension or we raise taxes on the rich....what then? How exactly do we abolish poverty and so empower the unheard?

In 2006 the Queen said in her October speech:

''My government will take forward legislation to reform the welfare system and to reduce poverty'. A Citizens' Income would make it easier for many familiies to earn their way out of poverty.''

So what exactly is The Citizens' Income? Malcolm Torry directs the Citizen's Income Trust and presents a thinkpiece for change that does away with means testing by introducing a right for individuals to share in the nation's inherent wealth. The government would distribute an equal amount of money to everyone on a monthly basis.
Clive Lord demonstrates it's affordability in his book A Citizens Income. It does however assume that our bankers have not already completely squandered away the wealth created from generations of industrialists, farmers, scientists and entrepreneurs who worked hard to put the coffers in there in the first place.

James Bruges provides absolute clarity on how to make poverty history with A Citizen's Income in his book The Big Earth Book. There are always other sources of funding other than printing a few more notes! The government could tax environmentally damaging activities, The Bank of England NOT PRIVATE BANKS could issue the country's currency. The bureaucracy of benefits and tax returns would save a packet too. Then there's always bankers' bonuses to share out equally. I cannot bring myself to eek out exact figures for just how many individuals own what proportion of our nations wealth. I suspect Fred the Shred is only one diversion from the bigger picture.

In the words of James Bruges:
''Soon, if business continues as usual, much of the planet, all humanity's inheritance built up over millenia, will become the property of a few individuals. The rest of the population live in fear of losing their jobs, of being unable to pay a mortgage, of falling ill, of penury in old age.''

I take my hat off to The Convention on Modern Liberty and hope with all my heart that this is the 'rumble in the jungle' that brings us all as free thinking individuals to our feet. There is a unity of spirit in Britain that is desperate to repair our democracy. Pullman pays homage to courage, virtue and modesty. They are disproportionately represented in the common public...I fear it is the politically powerful that are poor in morality and courage. We have much intellectual curiousity and harmonising of voices but how do we harness this people power and deliver a true working democracy for all, rich and POOR!

Ivor X

Monday, March 02, 2009

Wake up call

Dear Ivor

Whilst you meander home in defeat on your bicycle, beret at a jaunty angle and with the whiff of garlic about you, suffering no doubt from the odd reflux of Pernod, and muttering about Bastareauds, I have been thinking about the erosion of our civil liberties.

Philip Pullman has drawn together his own views in an extremely brooding article published in the Times online on 27th February.

As I read a cold shiver ran down my spine followed by an overwhelming desire to peer furtively out of the office window to see if I could catch a glimpse of a rogue telecommunications van, or failing that any vehicle with black tinted windows loitering suspiciously. Neither was obvious so breathing a sigh of relief I cranked up Google and attempted to locate instructions on “protecting your IP address”!! Unfortunately this proved slightly too technical and I abandoned the challenge in favour of a jot of realism.

It is too late for us, our surfing and blogging habits are already logged and no doubt your exploits have been the subject of many a closed cabinet meeting, don’t worry the minutes will never be released. In the last month alone there have been many articles from people like Stella Rimington, Charlie Booker and David Davis, to name but a few, attempting to get us to wake up and smell the coffee. On Saturday a Convention on Modern Liberty was held across the United Kingdom organised by Henry Porter, hoping to spark a political movement based on this issue.

A further glimmer of light on the horizon is the involvement of students from UCL who are adding their rap to the hum of dissent around the country. The co-ordinated mobilisation of all student bodies in support of civil liberties could provide just the wake up call we require.

Here’s hoping the next generation of politicians are not too fast asleep. Better make some strong coffee.

Poll x


Sunday, March 01, 2009

A Banker with a Conscience?

Allo! Allo! Polly,

Life is good here en France.

One Pernod, two Pernods, three Pernods, floor!

En route home equipped with a new map, new wheels and much needed clarity of vision.May be some time. Could you please forward this article on Leonard Abess Jnr to 'Fred the Shred'....addressed to his conscience?

Ivor X

PS I know, I'm struggling to find it too.

Lost in France.

We have.
I am.
OOh LaLaLaLaLaLa Dance!
Ivor X
PS A thousand pardons but The Ship and Shovel slipped my mind....seduced by the late offer of a ticket! Monday?