Monday, 28 December 2015

Southeastern and Wettons lost property

I'm not one to complain *chortle* but this morning I had a very concerning incident involving my beloved Gillingham football scarf which I in haste left on the train at Victoria station. (it was the 8.58 from Gillingham to Victoria arriving on platform 8)

It didn't take long to realize, in fact I had only walked from Platform 8 to the Swatch kiosk on the concourse. I ran back and the Southeastern barrier guard very kindly let me back through. I ran up and down the train frantically searching for it. This sounds silly, I know, but this scarf holds a great deal of sentimental meaning for me. It was my first piece of Gillingham kit God knows how long ago from my Granddad - who hated football but was trying to indulge my interests.

I was frantic as it could not be found and I was resigning myself to filling out the lost property and, to be honest, its total loss to oblivion when I saw it.

It is unmistakable and to be honest there are not that many Gillingham fans! It wasnt on the chair I'd been sat on or in the floor - it was cruising past the window in a rubbish sack!

I jumped off the train and politely asked for its return before scuttling off. I thanked the barrier staff again and they asked me if the cleaner had given it to me.

I'm very grateful for the return of my scarf and for the help provided by the Southeastern staff but I am concerned that the lost property was in fact thrown away and when it was given back to me it was wet and covered in cold coffee and it worries me that other lost property may be being disposed of rather than being taken to lost property.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

English Democrat "Reprisal" is murder

There has been some interesting fall out (excuse the pun) from my last blogpost about the suggestion by English Democrat candidate for the Crime Commissioner post Steve Uncles that the Western powers should threaten Daesh (ISIL) with a Nuclear strike on Mecca the next time there is a terror attack in the West.

In the follow up of the debate on Twitter there were questions about my ancestor’s political affiliations and what I would do with Cyril Smith… The most disturbing seems to be Collective punishment.

A simplistic way of putting it is what happened to my Grandfather at school when the head teacher caned an entire class because someone had drained the radiator to fill their water pistol and as he lined them up he said “The innocent will suffer with the guilty.”
I will let you interpret the tweets for yourself and see if you come to the same conclusion as I have;

What do you think?

My interpretation, added to the original post about nuking Mecca during the pilgrimage as punishment does concern me greatly and leads to this “Collective responsibility” and took me to thinking about other examples of this in the past.

First one that popped into my head was the village of Lidice in the Czech Republic. Three Czech “terrorists” assassinated the German governor of Bohemia & Moravia Reinhard Heydrich on the 27th May 1942 (he died on 4th June). In reprisal for this terrorist act and to try to stamp out similar acts the German authorities liquidated the village of Lidice including executing all of the men, most of the children and sending the women to concentration camps. Buildings were flattened, animals were executed and even the dead were disinterred and their remains destroyed. In total 1300 people in the protectorate were killed in these reprisals.

Another example, sadly again from the World War Two era, are the executions of civilians for each German soldier killed ten local civilians would be shot. This happened in Greece (where whole male populations were liquidated) and notably in Russia with these duties falling to regular Wehrmacht troops not just the Nazi SS.

Although Mr Uncles has distanced himself by saying We can all agree that National Socialism is a terrible thing. I still cannot see the difference in the reprisal by nuclear weapon killing innocent civilians and the Karbiner 98 rifle shooting innocent civilians…

In the United Kingdom we have our own sordid past with the rounding up of women and children in South Africa during the Boer War, their property burnt and their internment at concentration camps where many died from disease and poor conditions. There is the reaction to the 1857 rebellion in India which saw British subjects, military and civilian being murdered and brutalised was avenged by British troops bayonetting civilians (including women and Children) in Delhi;
These were not mutineers but residents of the city, who trusted to our well known mild rule for pardon. I am glad to say they were disappointed reported the Bombay Telegraph.

Another report stated;
The orders went out to shoot every soul… It was literally murder… I have seen many bloody and awful sights lately but such a one as I have witnessed yesterday I pray I never see again. The women were all spared but their screams on seeing their husbands and sons butchered were most painful… Heaven knows I feel no pity, but when some old grey bearded man is brought and shot before your very eyes, hard must be that of a man’s heart I think who can look on with indifference.
All in the aim of ending “Terrorism” and protecting British/English citizens and rule.

In my mind, and I leave it up to the reader to make a final decision, there is little difference between these lamentable periods of history and threatening to launch a nuclear strike on Mecca as a reprisal for a terrorist action in the West.

The one constant between the Lidice, Feldpolizei, Indian Mutiny and Boer War examples AND a strike on Mecca is that a large/extreme number of people face or have been MURDERED in reprisal for actions carried out by a few.

My family have been involved in Policing for over a century with my Great Grandfather Walter joining the Metropolitan Police in early 1914 and the immutable faith in the notion of Justice has been passed down from generation to generation and the ultimately the biggest nuggets of knowledge have been –

1.) Don’t make idle threats
2.) Two wrongs do not make a right

Murdering civilians in their hundreds of thousands during a pilgrimage in Mecca is ethically and morally abhorrent and is on the same scale as the terrorist who blows up a bus of commuters and the Oberleutnant who orders a nearby village levelled because one of his men was shot by a terrorist. 

As far as Mr Uncles is concerned, the only difference is that ISIS are not signed up to the Geneva Convention so are seemingly exempt from its protection. I'm sorry to say that this is not how the convention works a

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

English Democrat calls for Nuclear strike on Mecca

I have studied war and all of its incarnations since the age of eight when I first picked up the Ladybird book of "Soldiers" and
started asking questions of my grandfather.

War is undeniably one of the great evils that mankind has unleashed upon the world and sadly the one thing at which we as a species excel at. Aggression breads technology and at the very top of the tree are the nuclear weapons.

Many people argue that Nuclear weapons are necessary.

They have never been necessary.

The excuse of ending World War Two quickly is touted too quickly but the truth of the matter is everyone knew Japan could not physically hold out much longer and that conventional bombing methods would have sufficed. Indeed the RAF and USAAF had proved that over Europe where 25,000 people in three days in Dresden of saturation bombing in 1945 and Hamburg had suffered 42,600 killed in the firestorms of Operation Gomorrah in July 1943. With Germany defeated the bomber fleets were free to relocate to the Pacific.

At the turn of the 20th Century the greatest weapons were Artillery (and Dreadnoughts) by 1915 the horror weapon was poison gas, by the 1930s it was the Bomber especially if carrying gas and by 1945 it was the A-bomb. The only reason to use it in 1945 was to show the Russians that the West had them and was not afraid to use them should they be pushed as Churchill (succeeded by Atlee) and Truman knew that Stalin would not have hesitated to use them if he thought he had the upper hand.

In modern times though there is a small clique of states who have nuclear weapons all eyeing each other suspiciously... However who is the major threat?

A lose alliance of Islamic extremists who have no state and whose ability to use a nuclear device is, for the moment, limited to a dirty bomb for which the only defence is keen Military intelligence.

Should one of these devices go off in central London the effects would be ugly and a lot of people would be irradiated and killed with many dying from the effects for years afterwards.

English Democrat and former Kent Police Commissioner candidate (I think I heard he is running again in 2016) Steve Uncles has an answer to this... A retaliatory Nuclear strike on Mecca after ANY terrorist attack on the West.

Mr Uncles argues in his blog that the heart of Islam, within Saudi Arabia, will be full of Muslim pilgrims. He states:

Massive retaliation works on the same principles as Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), with the important caveat that even a minor conventional attack on a nuclear state could conceivably result in all-out Nuclear retaliation.


This threat to of massive retaliation of 1 million Muslims and the destruction of the most holy Muslim site in the world, if a further "civilised" life is taken on respective sovereign territory, may be the only answer to eliminate Islamic Terrorism.

My first response upon seeing this was... What... the... actual.... F**k?

My more reasoned approach is this;

First off the bat:

In 1914 the Sultan of Turkey decreed a Jihad against Britain and her Allies, for all Muslims to rise up against the West and come to the aid of Germany and her allies. Apart from a few scattered uprisings including some rumblings in Persia and in the Far East the majority was limited to just the Ottoman Empire.

In 2015 the same is true. Despite the call for a universal Jihad the number of Muslims fighting the West is, on the grand scale of things, a small number. Should the Holy shrines of Mecca be destroyed by the West then there will be a massive uprising of Muslims worldwide and who could blame them? Their Holy places destroyed in one blast would cause horrific hatred and rightly so.

As would the slaughter of a million innocents. How can anyone legitimise the murder, and it is murder, of all of these people? How many will be terrorists or support terrorists? These people will have come from around the world and may even be citizens of your state on a religious pilgrimage - how can you kill all these people?

If it happened we would be no better than the terrorists.

Thirdly is the prickly ball of Saudi Arabia. Yes there are sections of their society who probably funding terrorism but they are also pro-West and supply a vast swathe of the much needed crude Oil. Should anyone Nuke Saudi Arabia then that vital line is lost and the West is somewhat dependent on it at the moment. There is also the Saudi investment in the West and its business, their withdrawal could cause absolute chaos in the business world and financial markets.

The terrorists and their strategists know this and know any threat on Mecca is a paper tiger - it would cause more harm than good and is morally and ethically wrong. It is akin to General Amherst reported suggestion that blankets from Smallpox hospitals be distributed to the Ottawa indians to quell Pontiac's Rebellion.

What frightens me the most about all this though is that there will be many who agree with him.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Corbyn ushers in new style of PMQs

Today marked the begining of the Corbyn era of Prime Minister's Questions and I must say that I have been really impressed.

Many of my regular readers will know that I have not a big fan of the Labour party over recent years and am still dubious of many of their policies/MPs etc however I thought Mr Corbyn hit the nail on the head.

Charles Kennedy wrote in his book "The Future of Politics" that the House and indeed PMQs was stuck in a rut of like a Rugby game with two sides vying for supremacy and scoring points. Indeed over recent years it has become about bluster of;

"Thireen years of Labour government.... blah blah."
"More of Flashman... Same old Tory Party."
*knod* *knod* *knod*
Ultimately it did nothing to encourage any support for either party and was generally seen as an out of date process with people who should know better acting like school children on a long bus trip and being paid a large amount of money to do so. There also became a penchant for commentators of stating who had won or lost PMQS and often with a goal line in publications like the Evening Standard which trivialised the whole process

Mr Corbyn had a very different approach and had asked the General Public to submit questions which he and his staff (more likely the latter) had whittled down to a much smaller number of the most numerous.

Siting examples he asked calmly and collectidly about housing policy and benefits caps. The Prime Minister was forced to abandon his usual flashy displays and spouting and had to answer in a similar style.

Although I am always distrustful of siting an individual's experiences and passing them off as fact, something my Historian trained mind rejects as dangerous. One person's experience is not always everyone's nor is it fact. In this case however it does make the point that he has asked the public and real people are speaking through the new Labour leader.

It was a much more refreshing and dare I say it "grown up" approach to actually conducting business and actually holding the Government to account from the electorate rather than Political point scoring.

It is a style of politics that the public (myself included) can get on with and I look forward to more of the same in the future.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Corbyn as leader is definitely a good thing!

A new direction for Labour under Corbyn?
In case you have missed the news Jeremy Corbyn has been elected as leader of the Labour Party and this is something to be celebrated.

Celebrated? Really Chris? Why would a LibDem be celebrating this?

A fine set of questions to which the answers are; Yes, really and it is a long complicated rant so buckle up....

Firstly, I am a big fan of democracy and political theory - it is one of my vices and I'm a HUGE fan of Hobbes "Leviathan". I studied the evolution of Political theory at university for a semester and found this evolution fascinating and for a time I flirted with Marxism. To be fair I worked for MacDonald's at the time and it seemed to be a fair leap.

Anyway - at this point I was ripe to be attracted to a strong Labour movement and the Labour Party there was just one thing in the way.... New Labour.

New Labour has always struck me as a Diet Tory movement which was geared to winning elections and that was it. Throw in my opposition to the Iraq War and other policies such as ID cards etc and I found myself realising that beyond my radical reaction to my employer I had no real socialist beliefs and that liberalism was where my heart truly lay.

However I have always maintained that the Labour party should be a working class party and that for me and many others it had long ceased to be that.

Can I back up this assertion?

Why yes.

The rise of third (and fourth) party politics is a massive clue to this. In 2010 the Liberal Democrats attracted a large amount of votes from people who were looking for something different rather than the two same old parties who seemingly offered us nothing different. In 2015 following the Coalition that saw us being lumped into the same boat as Labour and the Tories the working classes flooded to UKIP seeing Farage as someone new and out of the Westminster bubble. Indeed according to our intel, streets that had been historically Labour were turning to UKIP instead. Why? Because Farage seemed to be voicing the working family's fears and beliefs rather than Westminster protocol and edited press statements.

What has this got to do with Corbyn?

Jeremy Corbyn is of the old school of Labour, a genuine Left winger who will (hopefully) steer the party away from the middle ground and actually represent the working classes again. No more of this abstaining on key votes as they did under Harman recently. The Party membership are obviously vexed with this New Labour fad and want to return to their old core values, the values the party were founded on, the very values and voters who were that much more extreme than the Old Liberal party back in the 1920s that saw the party rise to prominance. This is the same shift again almost a century on.

Finally there will be a gulf between Right and Left which will give the voters something to get behind.

There have been a lot of smug Tory tweets claiming walkover in 2020 and that we are looking at another five year term of Conservative government based on today's Labour leadership result. I wouldn't be so sure... After all if Corbyn can steer the party left and actually start representing the working classes again then they will draw a massive amount of support away from UKIP (always a good thing) and if he stands on anti-austerity (and means it) then he will gain even more votes and we could see the rise of the Labour party.

It also means that dissatisfied centralists in the Labour party may come looking for a centre party and join the LibDems(?).

So what about Medway?

Well on the council level it is too early to say. Many people have predicted the Conservatives losing seats in the last two elections and they've still walked away with a massive majority. I think it is too early to say for 2019.

I will predict that Corbyn's tenure (if done right) coupled with the absence of Mark Reckless, will see the end of Medway UKIP's showing on the council and (hopefully) see a massive fall in their vote share across the wards.

For the LibDems locally it won't make that big a difference with us still campaigning on our strengths and strong work ethic.

As for the 2020 General election - it is way to early to call that... IF the right candidate (and my money is on Naushabah Kahn) is against Rehman Chishti then we could see a swing to Labour. Sadly I fear the same might be true in Chatham & Aylesford IF the right candidate comes along and the voters of Chatham go back to Labour rather than UKIP then not even Tracey's record could save her but that is a pretty BIG IF!!!!

Though these predictions are, as Joey from Friends once said; Moo ("Its like a Cow's opinion - it doesn't matter"). I stand by my belief that Labour will now return to its roots and represent its core supporters - the workers which can only be a good thing for British politics having a clear divide between Red and Blue.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Forrester's & Livingston Planning continued...

There are many times where an original text goes before an editor and is changed for numerous reasons and although I agree with changes I also feel I should post the original article in its original tone. Here is the text that went onto the Medway Libdems webpage.

This weekend there has been a furious response to Tony’s letter in the Medway Messenger regarding Planning Committee. They feel it is an unjust personal attack on and that events did not play out the way they are described.

First off the bat I should describe the planning issues.

Forrester’s Hall on Sturdee avenue had been abandoned not long after my daughter’s third birthday in May 2013, the caretaker said that when we booked the hall that it was for sale. Since then it has been boarded up and derelict. Neighbours on Sturdee Avenue and Valley Road had noticed that it had been used by local youths as a squat come drug den and has not only been vandalised but also set on fire. I was deeply saddened to have to report this to the Police myself back in January when I found it broken into and the level of damage inside. The property has been since been bought by a developer who is proposing to build four bedroom houses on the site. The big concern for residents on Valley road is that these new houses are set back on the land and will now be overlooking their gardens and back windows effectively compromising their privacy.

The second issue was the now derelict British Legion building on Livingstone Road which is likewise to be demolished and have houses built on it. The big problem with Livingstone road though is parking. Although to Council officials and enforcement officers will note that during the day time there is no excessive parking they will not notice that in the evening and weekends the pavement becomes impassable with cars parked upon it. It is something I have written about extensively on my blog and is a constant annoyance for families like mine who cannot pass the parked vehicles with a pram or indeed with my disabled daughter’s walking frame and we are forced to cross the road on the bend to get to an easier path. Basic road safety tells you that that is not a good idea and with the rate of knots that some people drive down Livingstone road it is only a matter of time before there is an accident. I raised my objection for the development based on a worry that there would be less adequate parking and that pedestrians like myself would suffer. It was a complaint echoed by other residents.

Both issues were discussed at length at the Valley Road PACT before the election in May and objections logged with the council before the deadline in April.

The big complaint that Labour have got is that no one told them and that they had not attended the meetings prior to the election and that the issues were not discussed after the election.

Firstly, the candidates would have known about the PACT meetings as the first meeting I attended was chaired by Gillingham North’s very own Pat Cooper of Labour, who was invited to subsequent meetings but failed to attend. I would have thought it would have been in the interest of any prospective candidate to attend such meetings and get a feel for their area and with the open nature of the forum I’m sure they would have been more than welcome. The other issue is of course the planning complaints were not brought up at the last meeting (the first since the election in May) as the deadline for lodging concerns had passed and it was “old business.”
Parking on Livingston road

Secondly; I find it hard to believe that the new Councillors didn’t have the ability to look at the upcoming planning proposals before the meeting on 30th June. All upcoming planning proposals were on the website with complaints/comments posted and would have been available to Councillors by officers beforehand. If, again, they had done their homework they would have seen what was proposed in their ward, what issues were raised and by whom and they would have had the ability to contact residents with issues.

There will no doubt be accusation of “Sour Grapes” because we/I lost the election in May but in all honesty I and the resident who helped Tony draft the letter and gave their approval, are just annoyed that genuine complaints have not been addressed because of seeming apathy.

I welcome any positive feedback from the Labour group answering these concerns.

There are a couple of criticisms that have been levelled that I should clarify.

There is a lot of history between the Medway LibDems and Councillors MacDonald and Stamp and I'm sure that there will be claims of personal attack and part of an ongoing hatchet job.this of course is untrue in my case. I joined the group after whatever happened happened and I can count the number of exchanges I have had with them on my hands.

I have no interest in what happened nor in continuing any perceived grudge.

The other thing is that I have been accused of hypocrisy for not lodging a complaint about not lodging a complaint about the Forrester's hall development - ignoring the one i put in about Livingston. Also that I am supposed to be representing my community.

Well first - I didn't lodge a complaint for the simple reason - I forgot. Working 39 hours a week, a 4 hour commute to London & back every day, three children and a ton of proof reading meant it slipped my mind. Had I been elected though I would have quit my job in London and I would have looked at the concerns on the planning application.

As for representing the community - I was not elected and do not pretend or attempt to represent anyone but the Sams family. Representing the community is your job Councillors.

I'm guilty of many things; Poor memory, putting the rubbish out in my pants and a t'shirt, loving Runaway bride and having a guilty love of the music of Taylor Swift but hypocrisy is not one of them. I was brought up with a strict moral code and belief in honour which I think has come out in my blogging - if someone does soomething good I'll commend them. If they do something bad I'll criticise no matter which party they are. I got into politics not because I wanted power or to be a councillor but to do good and help people, if I had wanted to be a Councillor as my primary goal I would have takne Vince on his offer and joined Labour back in 2012 or the offers I had to join the Tories... I am a man of principle

Take this on the chin and learn from it.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Daggers down please

Yesterday I managed to see a snippet of Norman Lamb and Tim Farron's discussions with LibDems and members of the public on BBC. We have got two very good candidates for leader and although I know who I will be voting for I'd be more than happy serving under the other should they win.

Unfortunately there are some ruptions on social media between hardcore members of each camp. The leadership contest is something that is meant to bring members together in healthy debate and discussion on where we want the party to go and what we want to achieve. 

Sadly I have seen rival factions arguing on Twitter (yes there is a difference between arguing and debating) and there can be a lot of pro X or Y tweets fired about. Yes I am a little guilty of the latter but I made the conscious choice to take down my banner and keep the pro X or Y tweets to a minimum concentrating on other things... Did I mention I've written a book? 

This is not the time for petty infighting and squabbling. We were almost were destroyed in Westminster a month ago and were in councils across the country like Medway. 

Yesterday's TV segment proved the scale of the uphill battle we will have with the tumour of Tuition fees still festering in our chest and the big question being;
"How can we trust you again?"

I think Tim hit the nail on the head about trust needing to be early and this is definitely going to be the long game with no rapid turn around in five years and it is going to take A LOT of hard work together.

So let's put the daggers away and concentrate on the future of the party we all love and think of her future. Yes debate, no to squabbling and let us all decide as adults, get this done and move on together and rebuild.