Saturday, April 30, 2005
Local elections: the first four wards
This ward is part of what were the inner city Labour heartlands along with Easton and Lawrence Hill. However a procession of incompetent and lazy Labour councillors starting with Ray Sefia and continuing with “Horrible” Helga Benson and non-entity Dudley Saward have turned this into a prime Lib Dem target.
The Lib Dems have done little in the ward either, current councillor Shirley Marshall has neither intellect nor a work rate and has been invisible since elected in 2002. She appears happy to pick up her councillor expenses and let Labour controlled regeneration quangoes take all the decisions in the area.
The Lib Dems have GP Jon Rogers running this time and Labour have nominated virtual unknown Simon Crew to replace the retiring Saward. It will be a straight fight between these two who will both benefit from the high-profile general election campaign in Bristol West.
The Green candidate is again David Simpson. He’s been ineffectively fighting the ward for years unable to attract the large progressive vote the ward contains. This was demonstrated by the large Bristolian vote last time round. It’s unlikely Simpson will do the work to capture this vote.
Blogonian prediction: Lib Dem Gain
Conservative “Spud” Murphy took this Labour ward last time in 2003 after years of campaigning. On the surface this is a straightforward ding-dong between Labour and Conservative, which should see a Labour victory due to the boost of a higher turnout from the general election.
But the joker-in-the-pack is Independent candidate Steve “The Avon Mouth” Norman, the day care campaigner. The former Labour Party member, staunch socialist and RMT official is providing Avonmouth’s Labour voters with a kind of “micro election” between Old Labour and New Labour in the form of Terry Cook, a Bristol Labour Party fixer and husband of cabinet member Clare Cook.
This is one of the most intriguing campaigns in Bristol, which many on the left and in the Labour Party are watching with interest. Norman has also become something of a talisman amongst the left in Bristol. His campaign has seen Respect, The Bristolian and The Socialist Party on the streets in Avonmouth campaigning on his behalf and even the Greens have stood no candidate against him.
He’s unlikely to win but he’s very likely to split the Labour vote. The repercussions of this campaign for the future of the Labour Party in Bristol could be notable.
Blogonian prediction: Con Gain
A solid Lib Dem seat since they turfed out former Mayoress Pat McClaren in 1999. The Labour Party used to pick up 50% of the votes in the ward, now the Lib Dems do. Lib Dem Bev Knott, their education spokesman, is liable to run away with the ward on a landslide. Especially with the boost he should receive from the Lib Dems' Bristol West general election efforts.
Whether Knott goes on to run education in the city depends on the Bristol Lib Dems’ notorious internal squabbles and how they are temporarily patched together after the election.
Blogonian prediction: Lib Dem Hold
Held by Bristol’s only independent councillor Roy Tallis. Continually dubbed a Tory by his detractors, Tallis has stood up and argued forcefully against the party system in Bristol for the last two years.
For this alone he deserves another four years and a little bit of wishful thinking says he’ll hold the seat. The reality of the Lib Dem election machine says otherwise.
It’s a pity that the promise of an independent slate of candidates organised by Tallis has not really seen the light of day.
Nothing is known about the Lib Dem Candidate although he’s likely to win.
Blogonian prediction: Lib Dem Gain
UKIP octopus broadcast special
"This is not science fiction," intoned insane UKIP leader Roger Knapp. Indeed it was not Roger...
Yet another UKIP election broadcast horror courtesy of Channel 4. It seems due to some unexplained cock-up the channel transmitted Thursday's Green Party broadcast with subtitles from UKIP. Full story here.
"It's pretty awful, It totally lost the message," said a Green spokesperson. Ho, ho, ho.
Respect's former London mayoral candidate, the Stop the War Coalition's Lindsey German is doing a blog about her parliamentary campaign in West Ham. A sample from this unexpected gem: "I had a good time with the kids who hate Bush and Blair and their parents who are fantastic."
At least one person's using the election campaign and the net to launch their career in advertising. However, this animation which has been knocking around for weeks is very good.
Still not made up your mind up about who to vote for? Try Public Whip's Quick Election Quiz or The Observer's Vote-O-Matic.
I'm not really sure why I keep recommending these things. Every time I use them it induces a philosophical-political crisis when they tell me I'm a natural Lib Dem. HELP!!!
We're into the last week of the campaign, so The Blogonian will, between now and election day, bring you his exclusive ward-by-ward analysis of the Bristol local elections. All the parties, all the personalities, read it here only in The Blogonian.
Friday, April 29, 2005
My constituency right or far right
Certainly brightened up a lot of commuters' days this morning. It was still up at 4pm today too.
Wednesday was a busy day for long-suffering South Bristol postmen. Not one but two election deliveries were shoved through our doors.
The first came courtesy of the South Bristol Conservative Party. They've decided that some character called Graham Hill is the man for us. His rather charming leaflet entirely consists of pictures of himself and various Conservative luminaries such as Alan Duncan and, er... Richard "Bunter" Eddy brandishing "Say No To Gypsies(sic) Site" placards. Nice.
The other leaflet was a pink and yellow number urging me to "Vote Dent". To be honest, I'd prefer to "Lynch Dent" judging by his views. "Say no to unlimited immigration" is his headline demand and inside the nutter claims he will "scrap 100,000 regulations that are killing small business". Presumably the kind of silly regulations that require employees receive a living wage and that ensure bosses don't kill their workers and the like. The man with one name "Dent" is of course from UKIP. UTIT is more appropriate.
The Blogonian's early summer idyll supping Pimms on the banks of the Avon at Shirehampton's hidden gem of a hostelry, The Lamplighter, was rather spoilt last night when an appalling sight appeared from around the corner.
Confused old duffer Doug Naysmith, accompanied by two New Labour harridans, was yet again out on the stump irritating locals in the Avonmouth Ward. Looks like Steve "The Avon Mouth" Norman's Independent campaign has certainly put it up the remnants of the once proud Labour Party in the area.
The Tories, meanwhile, are already claiming victory next Thursday. Norman is said to be sanguine about this state of affairs. "What's the difference between New Labour and the Tories?" he asks.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
"Pretty straight kind of guys"?
Try either The Times or The Independent for a decent view. Of the blogs, try www.perfect.co.uk or Chicken Yoghurt or Honourable Fiend. This promises to get interesting.
Locally, the Lib Dems, having been told to fuck off by the Evening Post, have decided to start bullying Bristol Indymedia instead. An ill-judged threat of libel action by Tim Pollard, the agent of Bristol West candidate David Williams, over a link on the independent news site to The Standards Board for England promises to get interesting. More on this later.
The Evening Post and the BBC have both done some commentary on the local elections. The Blogonian will be offering his view soon...
Was he booed or boomed? Tony Blair at the Lilian Bayliss School. There's a lot of talk about yoof speak which I'm far too old to understand but get the lowdown from www.urbandictionary.com here. Then view the BBC footage here and decide. The look on Blair's face says it all really.
Check out the rather neat "Read My Lips" movie here.
Couple of entertaining blogs. The hilarious Stop Veritas and Respect Watch.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
East Bristol: alien clone zone?
Anyway, it looks like unpronounceable Green Party candidate Arjuna Krishna-Das is coming in for some rather well-deserved flak. Seems he's spent too much time roaring around the city in his car and reading the Daily Mail for some people's tastes. His description of young people as "yobs" has not gone down at all well.
And his explanation of his views actually makes things worse. Especially his reply that "yob" applies to anybody doing anything "from littering and verbal abuse upwards". Shit. He's more authoritarian than Blair.
What a disappointment. His photo makes him look like something out of Star Trek - a harmless, benign alien beamed down to spread the way of The Ecologicals amongst the humanoids. But is he really from a planet friendly to the Earth?
Just as scary is a comment in praise of the Lib dem candidate. "My thought that the Lib Dems are the only party to combine a genuine sense of compassion with a good measure of common sense has been fully confirmed. Well done Philip James your parties consistently anti war and pro environment stance attracted me, and your humane and sensible answers to the questions convinced me, " it says.
Are we talking about the same Philip James? The one I see looks like Bristol's Lib Dem leadership has spent the last two years in the basement of the Council House engaged in some strange and terrifying bio-chemical experiment. The result? A horrifying clone of Councillor John Kiely.
Are we really to understand that someone in East Bristol thinks this sad old fart with his bandwagon-load of fully market-tested policies is the answer to all the hopes, dreams and aspirations of a lifetime?
Unbelievable. Their comments are beyond irony. I hope for their sake they're one of the many Lib Dem activists trawling the net this election. Or they need to get out more... Urgently!
In the past week, explains the Prof, more voters have become convinced that all three leaders "cannot be trusted to tell the truth and are "weak". Even fewer think that either Blair or Howard "has sensible ideas for Britain's future".
I'm no fan but 'Electioneering' by Radiohead off the OK Computer album has strangely relevant lyrics.
"Kung Fu Labour are on a mission. Coming up to the election they need to bury the issues and find the pages from their '97 manifesto to avoid any awkward questions." Yes Tony, David and Gordon are 'The Kung Fu Statesmen'! Play it here.
The Labour Party election broadcast tonight is aimed at women. Their brilliant ploy is to try and convince women they've got more chance of pulling under Labour! More details.
For the completist. Here's how drug users intend to vote. Greens seem to have this issue wrapped up...
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Blair's visit by Channel 4
Monday 25th April
The Tony and Gordon "we're best mates" show came to Bristol today. Marginal seat. Lib Dems and Tories biting at the heels of the Labour MP Valerie Davey who's been keen to repeat during this campaign she was against the war.
A totally stage-managed visit naturally - Labour minions wandering around asking who we were, why we were there, were we part of the pool arrangement, no? Well then you can't film here. Here being beside a bridge over which the Prime Minister was due to walk imminently.
A strategically positioned group of Labour student supporters had been lingering with coffees (sitting outside on a freezing day like today, a total give away that they weren't just hanging out with friends) at the foot of the bridge ready to greet the PM. Pretty chilly stuff. And in the end completely redundant. New Labour's brightest stars were delayed which meant there was no time for the "bridge walk".
They took a different route to get to the tourism centre they were touring. A crowd gathered to watch them come in, people at windows of offices, standing on walls to get a view. One man behind me looked to be holding a box of flour. A policeman spotted him and stood close by.
False alarm - he cheered when Mr Blair arrived. So, it's got to be said, did most of the crowd. Perhaps the other parties have got all this distrust of the Prime Minister stuff wrong. Or maybe in Bristol today, they were all hand-picked…
Bored at work?
Does the election really exist?
No really. This is the place where you'll find prefab campaigner Doreen Hancock rubbing shoulders with Eastville prostitution campaigner and Independent candidate Tony Locke, whilst old communists from Southmead shop side-by-side with Greens from Southville.
Then there's the endless procession of senior city council executives crossing the centre to surreptitiously purchase their copy of The Bristolian - "the highly respected local periodical" (© Eugene Byrne, Venue). The latest word from these council mandarins, I learn, is that what this city needs is an elected mayor...
The Green Party have noticed the Farmers' Market phenomenon too and with a general election imminent, Corn Street was knee deep in leaflet wielding Green activists. Naturally, being local politicians, they were given a very wide berth by the majority of the right-minded middle-Englanders out for their organic bacon and a quiet life.
With little to do, the forlorn activists eventually congregated in a gaggle at the top of Corn Street around The Bristolian seller - where even his offers of a newspaper personally auotographed by Geoff "Councillor" Collard, the great Green hope for Cotham, failed to elicit any enthusiasm.
The conversation amongst us political saddoes soon turned to the thrill of this election. A particular subject of interest was the thinking behind senior politicians flocking into Bristol to "meet the people" without actually bothering to tell the people they were coming.
Instead you hear about these visits on the local evening news when the long-departed politician appears on screen grinning like a madman surrounded by people who are obviously party workers. Who else wanders up and down Park Street in the middle of the afternoon with five foot square orange Lib Dem placard?
What is the purpose of this? Do people think, "there's Charles Kennedy/Peter Hain/some Tory tosspot on telly in Bristol - they've got my vote?"
Then lo and behold who did we get on telly last night? Only Little Boy Blair flanked by his gurning chimp Chancellor and the execrable Valerie Davey wandering around the docks shaking hands with local party members before delivering a speech about cranes.
Are Bristolians really so dumb that they'll now rush out and vote Labour? Wouldn't they actually want to meet and speak with the politicians rather than see them on Points West? Do these stage managed political PR showcases really work?
If I was whacky French post-modernist Jean Baudrillard I'd probably conclude at this point that perhaps the general election doesn't really exist. Is it merely a series of election-style simulations where our reality has been replaced with a simple and satisfying series of crafty and mediated images? It certainly seems that Blair on telly gets far more interest than real candidates in the flesh at the Farmers' Market...
But thankfully I'm not Jean Baudrillard. So instead I'll just conclude that most politicians are disreputable cowards petrified of real people. They know damn well that us real people would throw eggs and tell them to piss off if we got half a chance - which wouldn't go down too well on the evening news - so they don't give us that chance.
The one small ray of light in this whole Blair affair, however, came from a small group of anarchist protestors. Refusing the alienation, exploitation and shackles of work in favour of spending the day drinking in up-market dock side cafe bars, they were there on-the-spot to give Blair and friends a hard time... And the media even picked up on it!
Local Lib Dems in Post attack
Some have even been saying the paper's coverage is "illegal". If only. The paper's main bias seems to be towards boring us to death with their election coverage.
But at least one Post journalist has had enough of the constant Lib Dem whinging and bleating and sent out a clear message over the phone yesterday - that is no doubt supported by many right-minded Bristolians - telling the party to "fuck off".
Well done that journalist!
Here's another site full of election subverts.
Or how about a Respect movie soundtracked by Leonard Cohen?
The BBC have published the full transcript of the interview yesterday between Today's John Humphries and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on the legality of the war. Straw's ducking and diving like mad... And it shows.
Anti-war Independent, Reg Keys, who's taking Blair on in Sedgefield has a website at http://www.keysforsedgefield.org.uk. Donate some money if you've got it.
Monday, April 25, 2005
The Alastair Campbell Blogger has been unmasked. "I’m a 30-year-old who works in the marketing department of an online bookmakers," she explains to The Times.
Now, what was it "leading cultural commentator" The Guardian's Mark Lawson said on Saturday?
"... almost all the bloggers seem to be male...". Well done mate. We await next Saturday's drivellings with the usual dread.
The best piece you're going to read on the mendacity of Blair and New Labour on Iraq and Attorney General Goldsmith's advice is here.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
No great surprises I'm afraid. Unless you include Michael Blundell from the crackpot English Democrats. They describe themselves as "(a non-Racist) UK Political Party looking after the interests of the people of England" and are running in Bristol North West.
I'll leave you to make your own mind up about them but they do boast Garry Bushell as a candidate!
Of the rest, Bristol West is of most interest. Looks like Independent councillor Roy Tallis backed out of standing but Douglas Reid of the Save Bristol North Baths Party is. Obviously he has little else to do with £500 of campaign funds. Wouldn't he have been better off standing in the local elections?
Lib Dem Stephen Williams is being touted to win this, especially since perma-tanned Tory David Martin appeared on HTV last week and just about everybody loathed him.
Bristol South has just the three main parties, a UKIP candidate and the Green, Charlie Bolton. Most people think Primarolo's 14,000 majority could easily be halved. To get beyond that it depends how much tactical voting goes on.
Bolton is working very hard on this seat although he will achieve little but hoover-up anti-war and protest votes that could have been tactical votes for the Lib Dems. But no doubt his work now will pay dividends in the local elections next year where he should take Southville Ward.
Similar outlook in Bristol East where new girl Kerry McCarthy's vote could easily be halved. With both Respect and the Greens working hard, again it's likely that the Lib Dem tactical vote will be the loser and let McCarthy in with room to spare.
Don't expect any surprises at all in Bristol North West where the Tories are the main challengers and Naysmith will romp home.
DJ Moniker and other stuff
"Here's my version of the utopian immigrant-free Britain that Blair and Howard would love us to inhabit... enjoy."
It's excellent. Listen and download here.
Elsewhere, blogger Chicken Yoghurt who got a slagging from pompous tosser Mark Lawson yesterday has done a handy poster for your window.
Lawson is coming in for a hammering all over the net but the best comment is here.
For a general round-up of what's happening on the internet during the election try this at perfect.co.uk.
The Sunday Times has a leaked memo to the Labour troops from Ali Campbell. Who would've leaked that then?
And this week AA Gill has to explain to his children that his wife is a Tory candidate - “Mummy’s not a bad person, she’s just a Tory. She’s not lying on purpose, just don’t believe anything she says.”