The Thick of It


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wifi Islington

I read with interest that Islington Council has extended their free wifi zone to include Ashby House on Essex Road and the rest of the New River (Marquess) Estate. I was a candidate there in last year's council elections. While I don't doubt that with around 500 regular users of the network at any time it has benefits - I'd certainly love a free Internet connection - my experience of the estate is that many residents would be better off with council money spent elsewhere. Since the re-design of the estate now includes a circular "racetrack" popular with young scooter riders and is still home to much anti-social behaviour, installing CCTV and looking at tackling the regular individuals committing ASB might be better placed.

Black trying to pick his prison

I'm still unable to find out why Conrad Black isn't in prison. Someone please explain this to me. Even though he is appealing the judgement, most felons still have to go to jail despite an appeal pending. Right now he is trying to cherry pick the most convenient and lowest security facility for himself. I can't quite believe this, surely he should go where he is told?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Highbury Garage to re-open on March 2008

Rumour has it that the Highbury Garage gig venue is to open again on March 14th 2008 after a year of nothingness. This is good news and follows news in August that new owners had bought it.

Harriet Harman makes me cringe

During a particular party political spat of the sort that turns non-politicos off politics and makes me cringe, Harriet Harman gave Theresa May a wonderfully childish riposte recently. When defending her decision to take money from Janet Kidd (on behalf of Bob Abrahams) in Parliament she gave everyone confidence that she will remain in post by stating that "The honourable lady (May) can huff and puff but she will not blow this leader of the house down." Stirring stuff indeed.

Winning back the agenda

Listening to PMQs today, Brown is obviously trying to pain his government one one of substance over Cameron's focus on style. This has long been the big contrast between the two leaders but I worry that Cameron's lack of rigour isn't concerning the electorate while Brown is constantly reacting to negative events. These events are nothing like the cash for questions or arms to Iraq scandals of the mid 1990s Major government, yet they are not helping.

Labour is offering policies for positive change in Britain, like yesterday's announcement of the Childrens' Plan. This seeks to tackle the root causes of anti-social behaviour, crime (and the causes of crime?)and obesity and builds on the positive contribution of Sure Start.

Opinion polls have been better but they are sitting in the mid 30s and according to the Electoral Calculus (an amalgamation of all recent polls) the Tories are looking at a majority of 8 at present. There isn't an impossible mountain to climb, but we need to win back control of the political agenda otherwise nobody will be interested in our achievements.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Abrahams affair

Like Luke Akehurst, I've not had a single voter mention the Abrahams affair to me when canvassing in Highbury recently. Not one. My feeling is that most people don't really care too much for the Westminster Village's in fighting, though continued coverage of such events does help the drip, drip, drip effect of massaging and latent cynicism.


Conrad Black gets convicted of fraud, but somehow isn't in jail even though he has been sentenced. How has that happened? The judge, St. Eve told Black that the law applied to him "no matter how high your social status, how powerful you are, how wealthy you are, how successful you are, how intelligent you are, what your title is or how you educated you are." I'm quite sure that in the USA most convicted felons are "taken down" on sentencing.

I can't quite understand how Black is still getting away with it.

I'm also shocked though not suprised that high profile Tories like William Hague actually appealed to the judge on Black's behalf for clemency. This must be the same Hague who also recommended the thief for a peerage. Also the same Hague who claimed that Michael Ashcroft would be paying millions in taxes to the Treasury if he was also given a peerage.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Orient - Millwall and Anderlecht - Spurs

Anyone reading about the missiles thrown at the Spurs team at Thursday's UEFA cup tie in Brussels against Anderlecht might be forgiven for thinking that here is yet another example of continental hooliganism, contrasting with the clean behaviour of fans at home.

On Tuesday I witnessed more of the same as Millwall followers showered the Brisbane Road pitch with bottles, ripped seats, wood and coins. One coin only missed the referee's head by a few centimetres. We can't be so smug here in England, football disturbances still take place regularly, but with much less media appetite for reporting them than before.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Manchester Victoria

Being a fan of stations in general, I was always saddened by the seemingly forgotten plight of Manchester's Victoria station. However, it appears that Network Rail are keen to upgrade it, which is good news. Duoble however thuogh is that no specific plans have actually been relaesed yet.