Thursday, October 26, 2006


The Daily Mail is great at one thing – finding a hate figure, finding someone to blame. Here they have a look at the tragic case of the Ainscows – the couple who tried to kill themselves owing to their daughter’s spending habits. And, since they cannot blame immigrants, gypsies, inheritance tax or Tony Blair, they thrash around to find someone else to blame. And lo and behold, we have a new figure to hate – those evil TV executives.

The group of television executives who met this week to review their major new drama were convinced they had good reason to be pleased with themselves.

Yes, they are television executives. No doubt they are earning vast fortunes for doing the square root of fuck all. I’d be pleased with myself under those circumstances.

Indeed, their programme has all the ingredients to be a huge success. Real-life drama, intense family relationships and one of Britain’s best-loved actresses, Brenda Blethyn no less, will surely make Mysterious Creatures a ratings winner.

Which is the point of TV, surely? To be successful? To be a ratings winner?

The 90-minute programme, to be screened on Sunday at 9pm, is being heavily promoted by ITV as a hard-hitting drama premiere.

And arguably that paragraph counts as promotion – as it says exactly where and when the programme will be on.

There is no doubt its subject matter is a compelling story, retelling the harrowing tale of how an elderly couple, Wendy and William Ainscow, walked into the sea off Tenerife in 2004 to commit suicide because, they said, they could no longer cope with the burden of caring for their spendthrift autistic daughter.

The fact that the story is compelling may be the main reason why it has been made into a TV programme. It is a bold TV station who makes non-compelling TV programmes.

While William was tragically successful in his attempt to take his own life, Wendy was plucked from the sea, still alive. Her survival threw her into a pit of despair from which she has never escaped.

I would argue she was in a pit of despair before her husband’s death as well. Hence, you know, the suicide attempt.

Alone and impoverished she returned to Britain, to eke out an existence in sheltered accommodation on the Wirral.

Living off the state, was she? Normally this would make her a Daily Mail hate figure. But the Mail doesn’t like something not being hypocritical stand in the way of a nice hysterical story.

So perhaps it is not surprising that, desperate for money, she agreed to sign away the rights to her life story when TV executives came calling last year.

So, she made a choice, did she? Her problem. She sold her story for money. Live with it. Or not as the case maybe.

But dramatic events since suggest this may have been a disastrous decision - both on her part and on the part of the television company in question.

Well, yes and no. It will probably be a great decision for the TV company as they will have a highly acclaimed drama on their hands. And as for Wendy, well, she will have got money for trying to commit suicide. Whether that makes her happy in the long term or not is not really the point, and certainly isn’t the problem of the TV company. If accepting the money in the long adversely affects Wendy, then it is her issue. It is a business transaction between her and the TV company.

For the Mail can reveal that while those executives were anticipating their forthcoming triumph, Wendy Ainscow had once again flown to Tenerife and attempted to drown herself in the sea.

People who attempt suicide and fail often try again. I fail to see a link between her actions and the TV executives.

On Saturday, October 14, on a quiet beach on the neighbouring island of La Gomera, she swallowed 30 sleeping pills before wading fully-clothed into the freezing cold sea.
Plucked unconscious from the water by a passer-by, she was flown to the hospital, where doctors saved her.

Milk the melodrama! Come on!

She was taken to the University Hospital in Tenerife, where her condition was said to be 'stable'. She was heavily sedated while doctors worked to establish if she had suffered any brain damage.

So the doctors did what doctors do? Great, this is an exclusive groundbreaking story then.

If that were not shocking enough, the Mail can also reveal this was Wendy Ainscow's fourth attempt to kill herself in this way since her husband died.

It may be sad and tragic, but it is not shocking. Lots of people make repeated attempts on their life. And often the only thing that stops them is when they succeed.

Why does she keep flying thousands of miles to attempt suicide?

Maybe she wants to die? Maybe she is a little unstable? That’s what I would take from the five attempts on her own life.

Only she can answer that question,

Quite. But I sense there will be pointless lurid speculation to come…

but it seems clear there is a morbid link in her mind with the Canary Islands, a kind of grim resolve that only this place - where her husband died - is a suitable setting for her own demise.

Oh, and I was right. Pointless, lurid, idiotic and blindingly obvious speculation. I mean, for fuck’s sake give me strength. Do we reckon that a failed suicide pact with her husband is one of the most traumatic event of her life? Could be! And maybe, if she remains unstable, deeply depressed and unhappy, maybe she would relive that experience over and over again in her mind and potentially want to revisit it in reality?

Was Wendy Ainscow really in a fit mental state to sign a contract turning her life story into must-watch prime-time television?

Honestly, I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But, I’m guessing, nor was The Daily Mail. This is yet more lurid speculation from The Mail.

Surely the production company, Leopard Films, were not aware that as they were signing up the stars and preparing the script, Wendy Ainscow was repeatedly attempting suicide.

Probably not, no. Do they have a duty to spy on the woman, to check up on her? I’d say no…

Now questions are being asked as to whether the publicity circus preceding the programme contributed to this latest attempt to end her life.

Oh, for fuck’s sake. Who is asking those questions? Aside from The Mail, who is asking those questions? Specify, give me just one name of someone who is asking those questions. And as for whether it contributed to the latest attempt on her life, quite possibly. But as the article suggests, this woman has a history of suicide attempts.

No one doubts that Mrs Ainscow agreed to the painful prospect of watching her own husband's death re-enacted on screen.

Exactly my point. Her choice.

But could a woman in such mental turmoil really have guessed how she would react to seeing her own story being pumped out on TV for public consumption?

No idea, but again, her problem if she reacts badly.

During filming, tourists in Tenerife watched as Timothy Spall and Brenda Blethyn clasped hands and staggered repeatedly into the sea, re-enacting Wendy and Bill's fateful steps.
As one onlooker said: "It felt uncomfortably like rubber-necking at a road accident."

The obvious inference being that the onlooker is used to rubber necking. And if they found the experience so uncomfortable, maybe they should have walked on and looked at something else?

The irony is Wendy may still be lying in a hospital bed when the programme is screened, wishing more than ever that she, too, had died the day her husband lost his life.

The constant suicide attempts indicate that the woman wants to die, whether or not she wants to die more than ever is pretty much irrelevant. And if she is in hospital, maybe she won’t have to watch the TV programme?

On that November day in 2004, she clasped Bill's hand as they waded into the sea in Tenerife.
After 40 years of making joint decisions as devoted husband and wife, they had drawn up a suicide pact - their very last act of togetherness.

Pump up that melodrama! Milk it for all it is worth! God, this makes me feel ill.

The couple were driven to despair and financial ruin by their daughter Lisa, now 35, who, they said, suffered from Asperger's syndrome. She was an obsessive spender who ran up debts amounting to thousands of pounds and had to eat out every night at expensive restaurants.

Asperger’s Syndrome is a highly complicated condition. Many people have it, and don’t go out and spend a fortune a day. I strongly object to the implication that the daughter’s syndrome is linked to the suicide of the father and the repeated attempts of the mother – and I think a lot of people with the syndrome would object as well. This is The Daily Mail being fucking ignorant. They should check their facts before they spout this shite.

Indeed, it was Lisa's uncontrollable spending habit - at one stage, it was claimed, she was spending £1,000 a week, with 2,000 pairs of shoes stacked up in her bedroom - that had literally pushed her parents over the brink.

Here’s a wonderful, ground breaking idea. How about stopping her from spending like responsible parents would do?

Mr and Mrs Ainscow said they were getting through £1,000 a week to support their daughter - and when they refused to give her money, it was said she would tell them she'd never speak to them again, threaten to kill herself, or bang on neighbours' doors and beg for cash.

There are lots of difficult children in this world. And lots of parents cope with them. It is a very harsh thing to say, but perhaps the problem lies less with the daughter and more with the parents? Could they be *shock horror* bad parents?

To pay her mounting debts, 75-year-old Mr Ainscow resorted to theft - stealing from the post office he ran in Eastham, Merseyside.
In 2002, he was jailed for 15 months for stealing benefit books and cashing dockets to the value of £50,098. Liverpool Crown Court heard how he had stashed away new books meant for customers before cashing them in.

So Mr Ainscow was a criminal who served time? Lots of people steal under tremendous pressure, but normally The Daily Mail would not allow the pressure to be an excuse. But again, let’s not let a coherent editorial stance on theft to stand in the way of a hysterical story.

He was ordered to repay the £50,000, and he and his wife owed banks another £50,000. They remortgaged their home and Mrs Ainscow went back to work as a supply teacher, in an effort to keep the family afloat.

Oh, so they had financial problems, just like a lot of other families do?

In interviews at the time, the couple told of their despair over their daughter and said they felt let down by a lack of support from the authorities.

Again, at the risk of sounding harsh, it sounds like the Ainscows were very good at blaming other people for their own problems.

Mr Ainscow was released on appeal after three months, but under the shadow of shame and with Lisa's mounting psychological problems, life became increasingly intolerable for the couple.
The tipping point came, they said, when the authorities failed to help ease their plight when Lisa was released, without their knowledge, from a psychiatric hospital where she had spent ten months.

Blame the authorities! Blame the TV execs! Blame everyone bar the couple in question!

So this quiet, devoted middle-class couple - he had been an oceanographer with the Ministry of Defence before retiring to run the post office - decided that life simply wasn't worth living.

Would it make a difference if they weren’t middle-class? This does leave an unpleasant taste in my mouth – the implication is that the couple’s lives were worth more because they were middle class and had decent jobs in the past.

They flew to Tenerife, and with money they got from pawning Mrs Ainscow's diamond and sapphire engagement ring, paid for a last meal and a night in a hotel. After taking a cocktail of sleeping pills, they went to the beach at Los Cristianos and waded into the sea.

Very tragic. Like most suicides.

They were rescued by a fishing boat, but Bill was already dead. Wendy regained consciousness two days later in hospital, and afterwards recalled: "I just thought, oh no, I want to go, I don't want to live."

Well, it seems obvious that the woman didn’t want to live. She had just tried to commit suicide!

The suicide pact of a respectable couple who should have been looking forward to a quiet retirement together made headlines around the world.

Yes, probably where the TV executives got the idea for the show from. So, Daily Mail, it is your fault as well!

Wendy, 66, was flown home to a future of haunting loneliness and poverty. She and her husband had sold their four-bedroom home to pay off debts, and after her return she was unable to keep up payments on the flat they had rented.
Despite the tensions, Lisa had greeted her mother's return with childish and undisguised glee. But the happy reunion between mother and daughter was not to last. Unable even to pay her meagre rent, Wendy suffered a breakdown.

I would argue she had already had a breakdown. Hence the suicide pact…

She flew back to Tenerife in April 2005 and took a ferry to La Gomera, where she swallowed 60 sleeping pills and waded into the water. Plucked once again from the sea, she recalled: "I wanted nothing more than to die."
A few weeks later she returned to Tenerife, swallowed more pills and plunged into the sea. Once more she was rescued. A few weeks later she made a fourth attempt to kill herself, on Lanzarote.

I really hope other people aren’t putting themselves at risk to rescue this woman.

This time she was determined not to fail. She weighed herself down with stones tied around her neck and took 60 sleeping pills before she entered the water.
But the pills were not the same as she had taken before and, finding herself unable to lose consciousness, she returned to shore. She was spotted by a hotel rep and rushed to hospital to have her stomach pumped.

If a Daily Mail hate figure had made repeated attempts to kill themselves (say, Pete Doherty), then no doubt we would be treated to a hysterical rant about how he was wasting the resources of the rescue services.

Once she had recovered, Wendy was sent back to the UK, where she was first placed in a hostel before an organisation for the homeless offered her a bedsit in a sheltered accommodation block on the Wirral, and a £5-an-hour job washing dishes.

From my time working as a supermarket manager I can tell you that £5 an hour is not a bad wage. Not great, but some people are on less.

After she had paid her £65-a-week rent, she had little money left. "I hardly ever eat," she said at the time. "But to be honest, I'm not in the mood to."

This woman doesn’t eat and repeatedly tries to kill herself. Perhaps she is the one who should be sectioned rather than her daughter.

Meanwhile Lisa, who was naturally distraught at her mother's repeated suicide attempts and was coming to terms with the loss of her father, stayed in a local authority bed and breakfast in Southport.
Though there was no joy in their existence, perhaps in time Wendy and her daughter might have found solace in one another's company.

I hope Wendy doesn’t read this article. It is so fucking depressing that it might push her over the edge. Once again.

But that was not to reckon with the making of the film Mysterious Creatures.
Its imminent release caused Lisa recently to speak out, disputing her parents’ claims of her excessive spending and aggressive personality, and the assertion she suffers from Asperger's syndrome.
She insisted she had never threatened her parents or bought 2,000 pairs of shoes. And she said she was worried Mysterious Creatures would show her incorrectly as mentally ill and violent.
"I am really scared that it will portray me as being autistic and violent, which I am not," she says.

Ignoring the fact that there is no direct link between autism and violence (autistic people can be violent, but so can non-autistic people) all we have heard so far is the story of the parents. The story of two people who were so unstable that they entered into a suicide pact. And one of whom served time for theft. For stealing from his customers. Lisa has a right to tell her story as well.

While both mother and daughter are clearly troubled, Lisa's recent comments have thrown new light on the story of the Ainscows.
Lisa was sectioned under the Mental Health Act in 2003. She was detained for ten months. Yet in medical reports released earlier this year, a Wirral mental health tribunal claimed the erratic 'behaviour of the applicant when at liberty was largely as a result of a catastrophically poor parenting regime'.

Quite. I refer you to the earlier comment I made about bad parenting.

The panel, which ordered Lisa's release from Clatterbridge Hospital in the Wirral, where she was being detained, stated they were 'not satisfied that the patient is suffering from mental illness, psychopathic disorder, severe mental impairment, or mental impairment or any other forms of disorder'.

You know what, I am going to go with the experts in the Hospital to assess Lisa’s mental health. Not the mother, not me and certainly not The Daily fucking Mail.

According to Lisa, it was shortly after her mother returned to Britain following her father's death that TV executives persuaded her to sell the screen rights for her story.
Although doubtful at first, faced with a contract offering money for the rights to her 'exclusive story', her mother signed on the dotted line and so did she.

Not really the fault of the TV execs, then, is it?

Before her most recent suicide attempt, Mrs Ainscow released a statement saying that she was 'devastated that her daughter Lisa should choose to speak so bitterly' about her.

Devastated, maybe. But she shouldn’t be surprised. After all, Wendy has had no problems with talking bitterly about her daughter.

Perhaps her daughter's comments, allied to the imminent screening of the film, were enough to drive her over the edge once more.

Perhaps. Perhaps not. Lurid speculation.

This week, Wendy's lawyer agreed that she was traumatised by the publicity in the build-up to the screening.

Strikes me that Wendy has been traumatised by a great deal. The TV programme is likely to be a very minor part of that. After all, her first few suicide attempts were before the TV programme started to be publicised.

David Kirwan, who is also a long-time friend, said: "She is under immense strain with the tragic events of the past couple of years, due to be covered in the ITV drama at the end of this month."

David Kirwan managed to say nothing that is not blindingly obvious for anyone with half a brain cell then.

While hospital spokesmen in Tenerife have been declaring Wendy's condition to be 'stable', a television spokeswoman for ITV expressed "shock at the latest development".
She added: "Our hearts go out to Wendy and hopefully she will make a full recovery."
It seems unlikely this brittle woman will make a full recovery, and perhaps one day she will achieve her macabre wish to go to a watery grave like her beloved husband.

Well, if she keeps on trying she probably will succeed one day.

But surely she has suffered enough melodrama without millions witnessing her tragic story on TV.

Maybe Wendy shouldn’t watch the TV programme then?

The Daily Mail. Their message is "it’s your fault, unless you are middle-aged and middle class. In which case it is anyone’s fault bar yours."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Poles destroy children

No, not immigrants. Metal poles.

Tesco condemned for selling pole dancing toy

'The kit, condemned as 'extremely dangerous' by family campaigners yesterday...

Dr Adrian Rogers, of family campaigning group Family Focus said yesterday that the kit would "destroy children's lives".

He said: "...It is an open invitation to turn the youngest children on to sexual behaviour.... This will be sold to four, five and six-year olds. This is a most dangerous toy that will contribute towards destroying children's innocence."

He added: "Children are being encouraged to dance round a pole which is interpreted in the adult world as a phallic symbol.

"It ought to be stopped, it really requires the intervention of members of Parliament. This should only be available to the most depraved people who want to corrupt their children." '

I'm not sure anything I say can add to the eye-popping lunacy of this article.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday round-up

Another solid week for the foamy-mouthed rag of choice, and here's some of the best from today's edition:

One in five at nursery don't know their age
Is this really a surprise? Most three year olds don't know what day it is, let alone how old they are! Still, the article includes some oddly non-xenophobic praise for the Japanese.

White bread increases cancer risk
Oh, I *do* love a bit of Daily Mail science.

'Scientists put the cause down to...' yes, of course, because scientists are a totally monolithic block of robots who all believe *exactly* the same thing all the time.

'The new study published in the International Journal of Cancer set out to investigate potential triggers of Renal Cell Carcinoma....' Ah, so, in fact they were looking at one particular form of cancer. Not all cancers.

'The study did not specify what type of bread people ate.... The study did not establish exactly what in bread may be to blame...' Well, the headline is just plain WRONG, then, isn't it?

Idiots. Someone is paid to write this!

If anyone from the Mail would like an elementary lesson in how to read a scientific paper, I am available at very reasonable rates....

Four out of five rape victims 'have been drinking', says Minister
Ah, the sinister, hateful, subliminal misogyny that the Mail revels in so much.... it's your fault if you get raped, you drunken trollop... sickening, just sickening.

'But Baroness Scotland said that, despite of this fact, rape is "never the fault" of the woman who suffers it.' 'Despite of this fact?' Great use of English, guys. And anyway, this nasty, weasel-worded caveat aside, you didn't put *that* in the attention-grabbing headline, did you?

Less than half manage basic GCSE English and Math passes
Hang on, I thought exams were too easy? Make your sodding minds up.

Anarcho's Cap has kindly sent in another contribution, which will go up as soon as I get round to it (sorry mate, my bad.) The Nameless Tory is on holiday growing a beard.

The Moai

Friday, October 13, 2006

A message to the media

What follows is highly personal, very ranty and a bit unfocussed.

We are fast approaching the 40th anniversary of the Aberfan Disaster. I was born and raised in Aberfan and my mother lost a brother and sister in the Disaster. For the uninitiated, 144 people, 116 of which were children under the age of ten, were buried alive by the incompetence of the NCB in 1966. Many of us are still very, very angry about the Disaster, and its aftermath.

Predictably enough, the vultures are descending. Grief tourists are looking to make political capital out of it, and the likes of the Mail have started phoning my grandparents trying to get a story out of it.

I am tempted to head home for a week so I can roam the streets with a baseball bat looking for journalists who want to make stories - and therefore money - out of my people's grief. Why now? Why the 40th? Where were you f*ckers last year, eh?

If you are *so* f*cking concerned about us in Aberfan, make a donation to the Memorial Fund, and leave us to mourn in peace.

EDIT: Pay up, you bastards.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


'Yesterday, I wrestled with my conscience over breakfast; it lost and I won. A card had arrived in the post from neighbours thanking me for a housewarming present. I averted my eyes because I hadn't bought them anything....'

Well, seeing as you've now admitted it in a paper which regrettably sells thousands of copies, I'd imagine the game is up, love.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Jamie Oliver wants shooting.

He unveils his "manifesto" in yesterday's News of the Screws. Quite why this slack jawed, ignorant mockney has been given two pages to talk about his political thoughts is totally beyond me, and his thoughts and opinions reveal just how little he knows about politics and also offers a very good argument for those who think free speech should be a privilige rather than a right.

Let's take a look:

"HE'S famous for his no-nonsense approach to cooking...and now Jamie Oliver has come up with a red-hot recipe for a better Britain."

He's famous for being famous if you ask me. Other TV chefs seem to have at least an iota of skill in the kitchen. He just seems to make basic food in an irritating way.

"The TV chef—who became an icon of change through his school dinners campaign—has added a dollop of realism, saying the country needs a shake-up."

Clement Attlee is an icon of change. Ditto Margeret Thatcher. How about Nelson Mandela?Jamie Oliver is an icon of the talentless - an icon of the Big Brother generation. Living proof that anyone can be a celebrity if they are willing to be a media whore.

"The 31-year-old employs disadvantaged youngsters at his Fifteen restaurants and has seen first hand the problems they face."

Great. Fuck-a-doodle-do. That's fifteen disadvantaged kids taken care of. Not being funny, but I get the impression that there are slightly more than fifteen disadvantaged kids in the UK.

"Here's his 20-point plan in full..."

Oh goody. *Can't wait*.

Problems often start at home with youngsters simply not having enough to do outside school hours. There should be better funding and a total review of how kids spend their time.There are areas in many cities where the police wouldn't dare go unless they were in large numbers. Just imagine what it's like living there as kids.

Well, I would imagine it is tough living there as a kid. But I'm not sure about the logic here. Oliver, in his finite (or limited) wisdom seems to be suggesting that there is a direct link between youngsters and crime. Sure, kids do commit crimes. But so do adults. If you are going to tackle crime, then you need to address both juvenile and adult crime. And Oliver totally fails to say to say how he is going to stop some areas being no-go zones for the police. I defy you, Oliver, to find me one politician who doesn't want to reduce crime. The difference between you and them is they often come up with ideas of how to cut crime. An aspiration is not a policy.

They are a profitable part of this country, and I'm proud to live in a multi-cultural England. If it wasn't for the Polish in the last few years, many factories would have gone bankrupt and half the buildings in our cities wouldn't be built."

Yes, very true. Immigrants are a source of cheap labour for shitty jobs that people in the UK don't want. I am perfectly happy to welcome immigrants who can contribute something to the UK economy. Like most people, it is the illegal immigrants who I have an issue with. And don't want to welcome to this country.

I think people should show they care about the country and want to be part of the community before getting all their benefits."

So as long as you are patriotic you can be a lazy bastard then? Jamie, you utter wanker, benefits should only exist for people who cannot survive any other way. Benefits represent a safety net for people in this country. If you want people to earn benefits, then the basic requirement should be a willingness to find work. Forget being part of a community, if you need to claim benefits you should be aspiring to find a way to get off benefits. And the best way to that would be to make working more profitable than claiming benefits. Either through reducing taxes of reducing benefit levels.

Now, see what I did there, Jamie? I offered a suggestion on how benefits could be changed for the better. One of the things about a manifesto is that it should offer ways of doing things. Not just trot out trite truisms.

Having the guts to look at things in a non-political way is vital. I don't reckon healthcare, schooling and transport should be ruled by government."

Who should run them, then, Jamie? Are you seriously talking about privatising healthcare, schooling and transport? Because if you are, you are on the far right of my party. And you are not going to be popular with the electorate as a whole.

Stop wasting our time fighting other people's wars. Now we're part of the EU there's no need for a massive Army. If we halved our troops the spare resources could help fight crime."

If memory serves, the EU doesn't have an army. And international forces tend to be made up of national armies. So in order to contribute to international peace-keeping forces, we would need to have an army. Also, if you halve the army, what are you going to do with all the people you are making unemployed? As Thatcher proved so well with the Miner's Strike, making large numbers of people unemployed without any idea of how they are going to find work is never popular.

This is a bit of populism based around the Iraq war - jumping on the fashionable ant-war movement. Which is fair enough, I suppose, but I would point out that the Iraq War is our war. We started it. With the Americans, we went to a sovereign nation, invaded them, and started the war. Regardless of whether it was right or wrong to start that war, it is one hundred percent our war.

If I had my own department I'd let my senior team run it and have six months in the field listening to the public so you can make intelligent, informed decisions."

People who say "keep it real" wanted slapping in the face. And I would rather have politicians in this country trying to run their departments than wandering around chatting with local people. Not least because often talking to the public is not the best way to make "intelligent, informed decisions".

We've got one of the worst recycling records in the EU although things are changing (albeit I'm still waiting for my recycling bin!) If you buy loads of packaging then it's your responsibility to sort out disposing it sensibly."

Again, what is your policy? This is nothing other than an observation. I know it is my responsibility to look after recycling my trash. The fact that you have noticed that as well means nothing, Jamie. Nothing at all.

When I started looking into school dinners there wasn't anybody high up with a history of catering. Most of the people who have the answers aren't politicians, they're experts, and I think they're vital in government."

Frankly I am glad that there is no-one high up in government with a catering background because, based on what you're saying, Jamie, people with a catering background talk total arse.

I'm bloody proud of what we did with school dinners and I'm going to babysit it for ever."

Well, get on with baby-sitting it then and stop pontificating on Politics. And I'm not surprised you are so proud of what you did with school dinners. I doubt you will achieve fuck all else with your life.

I believe in comprehensive education. A mixture of ethnic minorities and social classes is really important. I think our primary schools are fantastic too."

Well, this is a bleeding revelation, isn't it? Apparently, schools are good. This bit of ideology will see Oliver ranked with the great political thinkers. "Schools are good" - groundbreaking stuff, on a par with the great works of Aristotle, Locke, Burke, Marx and Hayek. "Schools are good" - Jamie, you have guaranteed your place in history with this statement. Note for the future, Jamie - the bleeding obvious does not have to be stated. Because it is bleeding obvious.

This should be such an important part of our kids' schooling, just like in Australia. I think it's about time we took it more seriously. Stop building on playing fields and make sport compulsory."

I thought sport was compulsory?!?

I think education should incorporate sport and life skills. I'll probably get my a*se whooped by the science dudes for it. But I believe there should be enough choice for people to excel."

Science dudes? Oh, Christ, who are you trying to impress by using the word "dudes"? And there is choice at schools. I dropped science after GCSE, because I excelled at other subjects. It is not a policy to state something that happens anyway.

I've just been to Melbourne to open my new Fifteen restaurant and Stephanie Alexander—a bit like Delia—is concentrating on a charity to put kitchens and gardens in primary schools. Through growing food and cooking, nippers also learn numeracy, spelling,'s a wicked idea."

"Wicked" in that context went out of fashion in 1989, Jamie. And teaching kids Maths, English and Chemistry is a great wat to teach numeracy, spelling and, well, chemistry. I'm all for cooking being taught in schools, but as a minor supplement to more useful subjects.

Food in hospitals is more urgent than schools. Good quality tucker is crucial for the sick. I thought when we'd got it sorted in schools it would translate across the board. I'm hoping it still will."

"Grub"? "Good Quality Tucker"? Your terrible attempts at being a cockney sicken me, Oliver. And you may notice there is a difference between hospitals and schools. Just because you got some schools to provide more healthy food doesn't mean the NHS - a massive, failing bureacracy - is going to go "oh, maybe we should improve our food as well".

It's harder to get the good stuff to the kids who need it most. It's largely class bound. You can buy a Shepherd's pie from a cheapo place and you can bet there will be more rubbish in it than one from Waitrose or Sainsbury's."

Again, "Nosh?" Fuck off, you mockney wanker. What is going to be your policy here? You're going to force Sainsbury's to build a store in every rundown area? Genius. That will work *so well*. I used to work for a Supermarket chain, and, as surprising as this might seem, they actually do market research on the best places to set up their stores. And if Sainsbury's has decided not to set up a store in a poor area, it is probably for a good reason. Like the fact that the local people cannot afford those products. So you either need to force the supermarkets to reduce their prices, or raise the incomes of the poor/less prosperous. Which is a tough sell, as both reek of communism.

I'm still banging the drum on school dinners because more needs doing. The government is planning dinner ladies' training schools. Brilliant! But many schools have kitchens that are falling down. Tony Blair's the only one who's done anything. So come on Tiger, let's carry on the good work."

I am despairing of the thought of the government pissing away more of my taxes on dinner lady training schools, all in a publicity stunt to keep a gobby TV chef happy. Tony Blair is the only one who has done anything, because he is the only person who has been in power since you started your little crusade. And "come on Tiger" - how homo-erotic is that? Is there something you are not telling us about your special relationship with Tony? Or are you just so naive that you think someone as self important and ego driven as Blair would respond well to being called Tiger by someone who became famous for a series of rubbish adverts for Sainsbury's.

Jamie, go back to whatever it is you are good at. Because judging by your manifesto, it certainly isn't Politics.


Monday, October 02, 2006

A guest posting: Anarcho's Cap

Anarcho's Cap was one of our first commenters, and he's kindly submitted a post. Here it is!

Labour has one serious candidate - but it also seems to have a death wish

The bullying Reid was yesterday unleashed on a hogtied Brown to warn of the dangers of straying from the Blairite path

'Rottweiler Warning," the headline flashed up on Sky News, just as John Reid stopped speaking. It turned out to be a dog-eat-child story, not the home secretary at all. One delegate was heard to hiss loudly: "I'd vote for Cameron if Reid won the leadership. I'd rather have the nice Tory than the nasty one."

Fair enough, however I suspect there are probably a few older Tories who would vote for Reid rather than Cameron. Also, one delegate? Anecdotes do not an argument make…

This must have been one of the most unpleasantly jingoistic, rightwing rabble-rousers a Labour conference has heard in quite a few years. This was Britishness as from the Millwall terraces. "No no-go areas," he boomed: "We will go where we please, we will discuss what we like."

So we should encourage the segregation of Muslims by not going there? Politicians should stay out of areas where people don’t like them? Much as I dislike John Reid – at least he’s got the guts to say what he thinks, and go into these areas to say it. All that cock Brown can do is waffle on about “Britishness, shared values, security” – which is fuck all use when someone is trying to blow you up.

No fool, he's hard to fault on particulars: the poison is all in the sentiment and tone. How proudly he gloated that Cameron had found his policies too extreme. Indeed, if he was one of Cameron's team, that speech would have got him fired.
Reformed old communists have this in common: when they swing the other way, they always go that bit too far. They never take off their combat kit: the progressive social democratic gene is alien to their psyche. So there was nothing progressive about his performance yesterday.

I’m sorry Polly, this makes no sense, I know it’s hard to force out 1500 words of drivel a week, but at least try an make it lucid. Also, Social Democratic Gene, does that mean we could screen you lot and remove you from the gene pool?
Roy Hattersley will not be alone: his threat to shoot himself if Reid becomes leader could turn into a mass die-in of Labour supporters.
Oh, shame.

But there was Tessa Jowell, first up within seconds to tell the BBC what a wonderful speech it was. Indeed, rhetorically it was a barn-stormer. So is this it, the last throw of the shrinking group of Blairites? Is this war, after all? No, take a deep breath. It probably isn't quite.
But it is a sign of something almost as depressing. I lost count of the number of times Reid used the word "leadership" in his tough, tough, tough speech, as he put his marker down to be first among possible challengers. So far it's just a threatening gesture from the bruiser lurking in the alleyway. It smacks of both bullying and cowardice: without the bottle for a fight, he will hang about flashing that stiletto under his coat, hoping Gordon trips up all by himself during the next excruciating months of uncertainty. Only then might Reid, more hyena than rottweiler, scavenge up his 44 nominations from MPs, only making a move if he senses a smell of death around the Brown camp.

No, the cowardice and lack of bottle for a fight is Brown’s, his smug statements that he’d “welcome a contest”. No he fucking won’t. He expected this conference to be his coronation (as did you) and now you’re throwing your toys out of the pram because it isn’t. He’s terrified of a straight fight, because he’s realising his support isn’t as solid as it might have been. Tony clearly wants someone else. Also, if Reid loses to Brown that will be the end of his political career, Brown will see to that, and that takes courage to take that kind of political risk. So you’re wrong, in so many ways you think bitch.

What will be the effect of this lurking? It is designed to make sure Gordon Brown strays not one step from the Blairite straight and narrow: at home on the NHS and public-service reform, abroad on the war and Bush. He will make this interregnum yet more needlessly fraught, flashing that glint of a knife whenever Brown tries to shape his own style and agenda.

Well, if Reid’s trying to stop Brown doing something mental he has my support. God knows what he’s planning.

If they hobble him sufficiently, he may flounder, and Reid can step up. Or some anyone-but-Reid challenger might charge through the middle, anything better than the old attack dog himself. Who knows? It will spawn enough conspiracy theories to keep the media happy and the voters bored and angry - deeply damaging to Labour.

I think the real reason voters are bored and angry is the lack of a contest not the potential for one. The anger stems mostly from rising taxes, worsening services and the sheer incompetence of the government?

Waffle about focus groups on Newsnight, reid came out better… "Reid is seen as very aggressive. Scots, old, bald, and he's hardly known. Brown has undoubtedly suffered a bit in recent weeks - but these ordinary women voters hadn't noticed the coup. He has to be more cheerful, but he has enduring strengths with them."
Ordinary women voters, well that’s it all sewn up for Brown then, 50% of the population – oh hang on, that’s not a majority. Also, Brown is not popular (well we know you like him, Pol), most people see him as dour and unfriendly, and no amount of contrived interviews about his children will change that.

She is as critical too of the recent Guardian poll that assessed Brown and Cameron's personality qualities. "It's pretty meaningless to ask about a list of attributes. Most of these have nothing to do with how people actually vote for a prime minister. It's not an application to be a charming receptionist. Cameron may come out as nicer, but this isn't about niceness. If it was, Neil Kinnock would have beaten Mrs Thatcher easily. Mrs Thatcher was never seen as 'nice', but she was admired and respected. Gordon Brown need not be rattled by this stuff. Concentrate on his strengths. Some of this polling seems designed to trip him up."

Of course, the Brown = Thatcher thing has a flaw, a lot of people genuinely liked what Mrs Thatcher did, up until the poll tax. Brown is a high taxing tinkerer who just won’t fuck off.

But what if he can't win? What if, in this celeb-struck era, the smiles do matter more than a strong economy? Even Brown admirers are nervy, alarmed by the polls since the failed coup. "Stable but fragile," a close Brown minister described the situation, no better than that.

Strong economy? Slowing growth, pitiful productivity growth, increasing tax burden, debt laden consumers, increasing inflation and a housing bubble looking like it could burst? That’s a strong economy, to you on your £140k it might be, but not to the rest of us.

As for the failed coup, given Brown organised it, he deserves to get hurt by it, Assuming Tom Watson 1500 mile round trip the day before was not just to say hi to Gordon and the bairn?

There is a fatalism, bordering on a death wish, hanging over some in the party right now. Just when new ideas and new faces are needed - and there are plenty around - everything hangs in suspended animation, delaying a contest that never comes, waiting for a hustings that never happens. Just when the probable next leader needs freedom to step out and show what he can do, he is kept gagged and hogtied until Blair finally sets him free.

Gagged and hogtied, oh, you’d like that wouldn’t you Polly, getting a bit rough with Gordon, a little Kinky, he could take his eye out and.... hmmm

Meanwhile, the Tories gain a stronger foothold: their conference will give them another lift. Labour's navel-gazing must weary voters beyond endurance. Is this a party almost willing itself to fail?

Please yes, please, please, please

Here they are, with only one serious candidate - yet bent on destroying his authority and reputation every day that goes by. If enough people really think that he is not a winner, then dump him now and choose someone else fast. Get it over. But if it is to be him, get behind him now. Build him up, don't pull him down. Much more of this and they will be staring certain and well-deserved defeat in the face.

To be honest I don’t care. If they had any real respect for the electorate they would have an election shortly after the new leader is appointed. Fat chance. The choice is pretty uninteresting. Reid will take 100% of our liberty and 90% of our income, Brown will take 100% of our income, and 90% of our liberty. The choice is like being asked which bit of dog-shit you’d like for your dinner.