"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

Archive for December, 2009

Charles Clarke Urges Jumping Ship…But It’s Already Sunk!

You’ve got to hand it to Norwich South MP Charles Clarke, he can smell the whiff of the decaying Labour corpse alright, but sadly he’s not able to admit that no matter how hard he scrubs, the stench is still all over his own hands.

Nobody has forgotten his part in the New Labour experiment that has seen public freedoms slowly eradicated and it’s Bush supporting full on ‘crusade’ to war.

His current attacks against Gordon Brown and urging for his replacement in order to win the next election are nothing short of a political desperation to save his own skin.

The Labour movement is dead and the Tories are still the Tories, the upper class swine who will continue aggressive Thatcherism as soon as they are elected to power next May.

There is no longer any representation of working-class people in Britain today (if indeed there ever was), and pretending otherwise is just politically motivated lip-service.

You may be oblivious to the truth of British politics Charlie boy, the rest of us aren’t.

And as for Labour needing to adopt the “killer instinct”….we’ve had enough of that thanks.

Hundreds of thousands of innocent dead in Iraq and Afghanistan and our own children being brought home in body bags.

At least have the decency and courage to go down with the Labour wreck quietly….

Meanwhile the rest of us will start to build a new political movement, one that puts real working-class politics in the hands of real working-class people….and Parliament can go to hell!

If ever people who are supposedly ‘represented’ by Mr.Clarke feel like sharing their opinions with him, which ofcourse we are entitled to do, he can be contacted by

1) Writing to Charles Clarke MP for Norwich South, Norwich Labour Party, St Marks Church Hall, Hall Road, Norwich, NR1 3HL or Charles Clarke MP, Constituency Mail, House of Commons, London, SW1A OAA

2) Phone the constituency office on 01603 219902

3) Fax the constituency office on 01603 764475

4) E-mail clarkec@parliament.uk


Still Waiting For Response From Police Authority…

Surely basic and straight forward questions aren’t that hard are they?

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am interested in whether you would like to comment on how a 70K resettlement package has contributed to fiscal efficiency and police effectiveness?

Obviously I am referring to this article about the outgoing Chief Constable http://www.edp24.co.uk/content/edp24/news/story.aspx?brand=EDPOnline&category=News&tBrand=EDPOnline&tCategory=xDefault&itemid=NOED06%20Nov%202009%2018:38:05:857

According to your ‘Norfolk Police Authority Vision & Principles’, your vision is to “To provide the best police service for the County, meeting the needs of our communities, within the available budget.”

Now with the cuts in social services currently being forced on the community by Norfolk County Council I was wondering whether or not the cuts should actually come from council tax paid to the Police if the above is ‘the norm’?

Looking forward to your reply.

Any day now…perhaps they’re outsourcing an agency to formulate an answer at a decent price…

Independent Tenants Movement Not Consumer Panels

There’s a long and rich history of independent tenants organisation in Britain stretching back one hundred years. Battles against rent rises and demands for security, the fight against the Housing Finance Act and Housing Action Trusts (HATs) prompted tenants to organise on a militant basis and co-ordinate their campaigns. In the 1970s and 80s active Tenants Federations sprung up around the UK to co-ordinate Tenants Associations within a local authority area which in turn sent delegates to national meetings and debates.

In the 1990s a whole new industry of ‘Tenant Participation’ was encouraged by government to wrestle control of tenant organisation. Under the guise of ‘empowerment’ tenants organisations were sanitised and new forums and panels created. Instead of open debate they want to give us tenant directors gagged by confidentiality clauses and overcome with business plans, missions and visions. There’s a deliberate strategy to incorporate and sanitise tenants organisation. Some so-called ‘tenants leaders’ are easily flattered and end up spending more time with government officials than organising meetings with tenants. Now government is proposing to set up a national ‘consumer panel’; and saying that the regulator will only have to consult that panel and can ignore the rest of us! It’s not on.

But there are encouraging signs around the country of more tenants turning against this controlled Tenants Participation bandwagon. Again we’re starting to organise ourselves into the kind of independent tenants organisations that we’ll need to fight off the latest threats. If we are to succeed we’ll have to ignore the flattery and refuse the seductive offers of funding if conditions that restrict our democratic rights to organise and say what we want are attached. We expect and demand that, however we organise ourselves, our landlords hand over funds from our rents to finance our independent tenants movement, with no strings attached.


Next Waste Of Tax Payers Money Copper List Revealed….

Below the EDP reports on the line-up of the next Chief Constable of Norfolk ‘contestants’. As three of them are currently not residing in Norfolk we will be paying a massive relocation fee as well as stamp duty on their new luxury abodes from our council tax.

Outgoing Chief Constable Ian McPherson has creamed his off the top of the cake and is moving on to bakery’s new…courtesy of the Met in London.

We did approach Norfolk Constabulary and the Police Authority on how they justify the waste of money but they declined to reply…

Favourite quote of the piece?

Police authority chairman Stephen Bett said that although stability was important, the authority was prepared to appoint another ambitious candidate even if that meant they may follow Mr McPherson’s lead by leaving the force within a matter of years.

Cuts in public services? We could start right here!

Adrian Leppard, Janet Williams, Philip Gormley and Ian Learmonth

New Year, new chief constable for Norfolk police – and today the EDP reveals the full shortlist of candidates for the force’s top job.

Interviews for the £134,000 post will take place on January 18 and 19. Outgoing chief Ian McPherson will begin his new role as assistant commissioner of territorial policing at the Metropolitan police on his return for the Christmas break and his replacement will be announced within three weeks.

Norfolk Police Authority has been given permission to interview four candidates for the post by the senior appointments panel. They are:

Current deputy chief constable Ian Learmonth who is in temporary charge of the force. He has risen through the ranks and takes a keen interest in operational policing. Mr Learmonth has played a key role in Norfolk police’s modernisation programme since joining in 2007 from Strathclyde police where he was assistant chief responsible for most major operational projects.

He is the popular choice among the rank and file and could bring the stability the force is seeking. Privately police sources say he will need to prove his ability to step up to the more politicised top job.

Adrian Leppard, the present deputy chief constable at Kent police. He is responsible for operational policing and has a number of corporate development duties including “change management” which would equip him well for any further modernisation in Norfolk.

He has filled a variety of roles from traffic policing to CID and has also led a number of major inquiries including high profile murders..

Janet Williams, currently deputy assistant commissioner at the Met in the specialist crime directorate which oversees major crime in the capital including murder, drugs, covert policing and shooting.

She had previously been in the running for the chief constable vacancy in Merseyside but dropped out of the running to focus on the Norfolk role. Ms Williams already has a home in Norfolk and her mother lives in the county.

Philip Gormley, currently deputy chief constable at West Midlands police. He began his career at Thames Valley police and moved to the Met in 2003 on promotion to commander.

He has experience in modernisation which could be crucial in Norfolk having led the restructuring of specialist operations at the Met. He also took command of the Met special branch, overseeing the merger of special branch and the anti terrorist branch to form the new counter terrorism command.

Police authority chairman Stephen Bett said that although stability was important, the authority was prepared to appoint another ambitious candidate even if that meant they may follow Mr McPherson’s lead by leaving the force within a matter of years.

Mr Bett added: “Ian McPherson achieved more in three years than many would have in a decade; if we can find a similarly ambitious replacement who can achieve that kind of success then we won’t hesitate to appoint them.

“We are not looking for somebody who will come here to see their time out. We are facing tough times and we need somebody who can take on the challenge.” source

Community Video Training Project

Community Video Training Project
New Directors
You can now watch short films made by new directors trained by Undercurrents in 2008 with funding from Communities@One and the Social Risk Fund.
Link to Community Training Project

Undercurrents has proved that anyone with access to equipment and the right training can effectively use video to bring about positive change in their community. Video cameras have become more portable, easier to use and best of all, cheaper. Now you can make a video reflecting your life,campaigners can gather evidence of factories polluting water supplies, you can produce an empowerment video aimed at getting people motivated into action. We can show how you can distribute your video across the web, or even get your images onto mainstream television news and current affairs programs.

Introduction to Undercurrents video training workshops
Aimed at people with little or no experience of using video, this workshop will teach you to operate any video camera and edit a basic video feature.
The workshop consists of demonstrations and practical exercises including:
Holding and using a camcorder with confidence
Obtaining good audio quality
How to get the right images to tell a story
Understanding the cables and accessories
How to interview people
How to put your new video skills into action

Tel: +44 (0)1792 455900 email: training@undercurrents.org


Norwich People Urged To Have Their Say On Future Developments

People were today reminded they can take part in a consultation which could transform how Norwich looks in the future.

In October, Norwich City Council unveiled its draft site allocations plan, which identified 170 potential sites to be developed around the city.

The draft consultation document has been drawn up after the city council called on developers’ agents and community groups to come up with ideas of how sites in the city could be used for development.

Among the proposals are for the former Big W at Riverside to be turned into a concert hall or sports centre, 20 of the city’s car parks to be used for housing and for the Bethel Street fire station to be used for shops, flats and offices.

A string of staffed exhibitions will also be held next month, on the following dates:

January 11 from 10am to 2pm at Norwich Central Baptist Church in Duke Street

January 18 from 5pm to 7pm at the Walter Roy Theatre at the Hewett School in Cecil Road

January 21 from 5pm to 7pm at the Norman Centre in Bignold Road

January 28 from 5pm to 7pm at City Academy Norwich in Earlham Road

Following the initial round of consultation, there will be a second round based on shortlisted sites and another chance for the public to comment on the proposed document before the formal adoption of the document

To view the consultation documents, go to http://www.norwich.gov.uk or pick up a copy from City Hall or the Millennium Library in the Forum.


A Real Kick In The Teeth.

Politicians seem to have one thing in common, whichever party they hail from – and no, we don’t mean an unquestioning adherence to failed capitalism, although that is almost invariably the case these days.

That common ground is their unshakeable belief that the public has the attention span of a particularly challenged gnat. How else can one explain their continual policy back-flips?

Take, for example Universities Minister David Lammy. Way back – actually, only back to July this year – Mr Lammy was proclaiming that “in tougher times it is right that we continue to invest, which is why we are providing funding today to help meet some of the unprecedented demand to study at university.”

All well and good, and very praiseworthy it sounded, that is until yesterday, when Business Secretary Peter Mandelson pronounced that cutbacks were needed to pay for the “higher than expected cost” of funding grants and loans for the record number of students going to university during the recession.

In his annual grant letter to the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Dark Lord announced university funding cuts of £135 million for next year.

This is on top of £600 million efficiency savings to be made from 2012, which were announced in the pre-Budget report by the Chancellor, and £180 million of efficiency savings over the next 18 months.

The letter also says that universities will be fined £3,700 for every student they took on this autumn above the limit set out by the government – fines which will add up to many millions of pounds.

Mr Lammy was speaking at a time when the government was providing an extra 10,000 university places in a frantic effort to cut the number of school-leavers entering the unemployed statistics direct from school.

But government generosity at that time was strictly limited. Although it funded student support in loans and grants, there was no money to finance the teaching and universities had to provide it out of reserves.

These are now to be depleted even further to penalise universities for taking on more students than the government expected during the unseemly scramble to provide the extra places between July 20 and the start of the university year in September.

Mr Mandelson said at the time that the costs of supporting extra students would be met be “reprioritising” existing budgets, whatever that means.

Well, it’s now become clear. He meant that the costs would be met until the Labour government had bunged billions at the banks to such an extent that the public finances needed drastic retrenchment.

Apart from taxpayers having to pay the penalties for Labour’s misplaced generosity to a pack of failed gamblers, young people not even qualified to pay tax yet will also have to cough up, in terms of their life opportunities being cavalierly restricted.

So much, then, for Mr Lammy’s “continued investment.” The British people will continue to be squeezed to underwrite the profligacy of the bankers and education will have to bear £915 million of that squeeze.

And that’s just the start of a retreat from education that the government is trying so hard to portray as simple necessity. It is, in fact, nothing of the sort. It’s a judgement call that the government has got wrong.

To subsidise the banks, it is mortgaging the future of Britain’s young people, truncating the expansion of education chances for poorer students before that expansion really got under way.

And that is an ill-judged call, because it will inevitably restrict Britain’s ability to climb out of recession and the consequences will be visible for decades.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt described the cut as “a real Christmas kick in the teeth for staff and students and proof that the government has completely lost its way when it comes to higher education.”

We can’t better that estimate.