Archive for September 2007

Unofficial CEP wallpapers

I had a spare half an hour to play with Paint Shop Pro today and came up with the unofficial CEP wallpaper below …

  Widescreen (1440 x 900)
  Regular (1280 x 1024)


I also produced quite a few St George’s Crosses with various effects on them if anyone’s interested.  I have them in pspimage format but I can convert them to pretty much any format you could ask for.

Tories pushing EVoEL

cosg-bubbles.pngThe Tories are pushing English Votes on English Legislation (EVoEL), their “answer” to the West Lothian Question.

The West Lothian Question (WQL) was first posed by Tam Dalyell, MP for West Lothian in Scotland during a debate on devolution.  The Question is whether it is right that MP’s elected in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland should have a say in matters that only affect England but not the country they were elected in.

The obvious answer, now that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own devolved governments, is to give England a devolved government of its own.  However, despite every poll in the last few years showing increasing and consistent support for an English Parliament, none of the main parties will support it.  The Tory proposal of EVoEL is as close as it gets but it’s not good enough.

The Tory proposal is to have MP’s elected in England form a Grand Committee within the British Parliament which will have the final say on matters that only affect England.  There are a number of problems with this proposal:

  • The MP’s, despite being elected in England, will still be British MP’s and they will have been elected to represent Britain, not England.  When debating and voting on matters that only affect England, their first loyalty will be to Britain.  Contrast that with the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland where their elected representatives are elected only to represent their own country.  What is good for the rest of Britain is second to what is good for their own country.
  • The Speaker of the House will certify whether something qualifies as an English-only matter.  The current Speaker is Michael Martin, MP for Glasgow North East.  Mr Martin was a member of the Scottish Constitutional Convention and signed the Scottish Claim of Right in which he pledged to put the interests of Scottish people first and foremost.
  • British MP’s not elected in England will still be able to propose and debate matter that only affect England.  The smoking ban – which only affected England – was watered down from a full ban to a partial ban by an MP elected in Scotland even though it only applied to England.  EVoEL wouldn’t stop this happening – an English Parliament would.
  • EVoEL would kick in when the Speaker decides that a bill only affects England.  Anything that costs money in England affects the amount of money available to be given to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the form of the block grant (actually a subsidy because only England pays more tax than it spends).  Therefore, only a handful of bills every year would truly qualify for exclusion under EVoEL.  It took a matter of days for a Scottish MP to spot this loophole that would allow him to declare an interest in almost every bill that doesn’t directly affect his constituents.
  • Recent polls have shown almost 70% of people want an English Parliament.  EVoEL isn’t an English Parliament.
  • The British Treasury will control the purse strings.  MP’s from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will still have a say on hom much money England gets and how it is spent.  The current Chancellor of the Exchequer is Alistair Darling, MP for Edinburgh South West in Scotland.

There are more problems with EVoEL – not least the fact that British MP’s don’t want it and won’t make any effort to make it work – but these are the main ones.  There is one major plus for EVoEL though and that is the fact that once they’ve admitted that there is a major constitutional and democratic problem that needs a solution and they’re forced to admit that EVoEL doesn’t work (and it won’t, you can be sure of that) they will have no choice but to give us a Parliament.

England 36-20 Tonga

England showed some real talent at times during tonight’s match against Tonga – it was a pleasure to watch.

Tonga scored first from a penalty, England equalised and then Tonga scored a try.  It was looking a bit dodgy at first but England settled in and played some quality rugby.

That said, Tonga were very dangerous at times and deserved every one of the 20 points they scored.

Finding the Common ground

I went to a public meeting last night on the future of Telford Town Park.

We’re quite fortunate in Telford in that when the town was built back in the 60’s, a huge amount of park land was given to the town with a covenent designating it as a park.

However, wide open spaces in the middle of towns are very attractive to developers and councillors alike, all of which see pound signs rolling in front of their eyes if they could just concrete over all that nasty green stuff.

The Liebour council that lost control of the town earlier this year for the first time since the council was created decided that it would finance the “regeneration” of the town centre by selling off the ice rink and bowling alley that it owns and rebuilding them on the park.

For those of you that don’t know Telford, the town centre isn’t actually a town centre in the traditional sense.  Telford is a new town, artifically created by filling in the gaps between a collection of old towns.  Nobody lives in the town centre, it’s a shopping centre circled by a three lane perimeter road (part of which is now the obligitory contra-flow bus lane) which, in turn, is surrounded by offices and car parks and … the town park.

When the shopping centre closes for the night so does the town centre.  What the council want to do is create a town centre venue that’s open from 6 in the morning to midnight.

The cabinet member with responsibility for the town park, Councillor Dennis Allen, explained it thus: if you want a revitalised town centre with a night life then it has to be built together.  This leads me to ask two important questions – do Telford residents want the kind of town centre proposed and if so, do they want it there?

The thing with a new town – and this is certainly the case with Telford – is that it has lots of town centres and the centre of the new town isn’t necessarily one of them.  The actual town of Telford has four main town centres – Dawley, Madeley, Oakengates and Wellington.  In fact, Telford was originally called Dawley New Town and Dawley was intended to be the focus of the town.

So, assuming that people do want a town centre venue with a night life, do they actually want it where the shopping centre is?  Would they prefer it in one of the old towns or even wherever the council are going to put the 55,000 new houses they’ve agreed to build in the next 20 years?

I can’t answer that because I don’t know.  The council don’t know either because they haven’t asked.

In the past the council have taken away bits of the park, including the bit that they planned to rebuild the ice rink and bowling alley.  At least, they think they have.  But you can’t overturn or amend a legal covenent with a vote of councillors – you have to go to court and get it done, it’s a legal contract with the person who donated the land.  Legally, the parts of the park that the council decided would no longer be part of the park are sill part of the park.

I’ve taken some positive steps today – I’ve been speaking to a few people, including the clerk of one of the parish councils in Telford who has some experience in this area.  I intend to apply to get the town park registered as a common or village green (it doesn’t have to be in a village).  If I’m successful – and I see no reason why not as the land has been used exclusively for open leisure for well over 20 years – then they won’t be allowed to touch it.

General Election imminent?

There is much speculation on a general election date with strong evidence that it’s going ot be delcared soon.

However, I have a big problem with the system.  Why is it up to the One Eyed Wonder of Wankistan to decide when to hold an election?  Why should the ruling party dictate when an election is held?  The system gives the party in power an unfair advantage over the opposition.

If the Electoral Commission could be made even remotely unbiased then they should be the ones to decide when to hold an election, either at the end of the maximum term or when petitioned by an opposition party.

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BBC Bias on Brown’s speech

The BBC is never usually this blatant in their bias towards the ruling Liebour dictatorship but this just takes the piss.

In their reactions to No Mandate Brown’s speech they chose:

Four Liebour MP’s
Seven union leaders
Two hippies (Greenpeace & CND)

The only negative reaction was, of course, from the two hippies – everyone else was gushing at Britishness Brown’s speech.

The BBC isn’t even trying to cover up their bias any more, thiey may as well put banner on their website saying “Vote Liebour” or “Gordo the Goblin King for President”.

What will Brown be doing for Scotland?

This morning I asked “What will Brown be doing to England“?  Tonight I’m asking, “What will Brown be doing to Scotland”?

What was in Britishness Brown’s speech today?

Well, he’s promised to stand up for schools* and hospitals* and British values*.  He also wants to build 10 new “eco-towns”*.

He wants to increase stop and search powers for the police* and says that hospitals will be getting a good clean to tackle MRSA*.


So, what is there in No Mandate Brown’s speech for Scotland, the country he was elected in?  Simple – absolutely chuff all.  Every domestic policy in his speech only applies to England because, in his own constituency in Scotland, they are all the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament.  Education, Health, Housing & Planning and Police are all devolved in Scotland and Gordon the Goblin King has not secured a single vote to give him a mandate on any of these issues.  British values and Britishness in general is reserved only for England.  Britishness lessons in schools, the British flags on public buildings – only in England, never in Scotland.

And how many newspapers or news channels have pointed out this shocking, undemocratic, morally and democratically corrupt state of affairs?  None of them.

Schillings need some PR help!

Google search results are notable fickle with the top match changing a couple of times a day as a site starts to challenge the top match.  A couple of times today the top result for “Schillings“, the lawyers at the centre of the Alisher Usmanov censorship battle, has turned up a couple of websites closed down in their anti-free speech offensive.

Now, this is all well and good should the sites in question come back up soon and the original content still be available because it means Google will turn those sites up as a top match for “Schillings“.  However, this is a bit dubious with Bloggerheads and Craig Murray as both blogs are still unavailable as I type.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is, the Schillings website is weak in Google terms and is ripe for a Googlebomb.

Personally, I will be linking the word Schillings to Chicken Yoghurt’s list of websites that are covering the story.

What will Brown be doing to England?

The BBC tells us what No Mandate Brown is planning to announce in his Liebour Party Conference speech.

He’s going to be backing greater use of stop and search by the Police.  Doesn’t apply in Scotland.

He’s going to cut cancer waiting lists so you can have longer to accept the fact that because you’re English you aren’t allowed the same expensive cancer treatments that they have in Scotland and as a result are going to have to die.  Doesn’t apply in Scotland.

He will remove barriers for poor people to get a university education.  Barriers such as top-up fees which only English students pay thanks to MP’s elected in Scotland forcing through the vote against the will of a majority of English MP’s?  Don’t bank on it.  Doesn’t apply in Scotland.

All Blacks demolish Scotland

anyonebutscotland.pngThe All Blacks gave Scotland a going over in the rugby today with Scotland failing to score.

Thank god we’re not going to be the only home nation to get a wooden spoon!

The most interesting thing about the whole game was the atmosphere.  Or lack of it – the crowd were virtually silent the whole way through.

Sorry, who’s islands?

The British government is preparing a submission to the United Nations on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to extend the territorial waters to up to 350 miles out from the coast.

The seabed surrounding the Falklands is thought to be a large, untapped source of oil and gas.

Many countries are preparing submissions as the UN has put a deadline of May 2009 on them but that hasn’t stopped the Argies from throwing their teddies out of their pram.

The Argies are, of course, bleating about how this is an act of aggression and saying that it won’t stop them trying to get their islands back.  The British government are saying that it’s just a formality and that the UN wouldn’t make a decision anyway because sovereignty of the islands are in dispute.

Can someone just remind me, whose islands are they?  I seem to remember a little spat with the Argies a few years back over the Falklands.  They claimed them as theirs and we demonstrated, in no uncertain terms, that they were ours.  Perhaps we should claim southern Argentina …

Like Father like Son

#1 is turning out to be a chip off the old block – he got elected to his school council this week and then got elected as council secretary.

At age 9 he’s already got a better grasp of English politics than most adults.

#2 tried for school council as well but just missed out by a few votes.

Two chips off the old block – god help the world in a few years time!

Part of the Union

This video needs no comentary. How anyone, having watched this video, can advocate anything other than home rule for England is beyond me. When the revolution comes, this video will go down in history …

Hat-tip: The CEP

Channel 4: Blogosphere mugging for Usmanov

This appeared on the Channel 4 News website yesterday: 

As Roman Abramovich gets his man at Chelsea, another Russian oligarch is making waves at Arsenal.

Alisher Usmanov, who this week increased his stake in Arsenal to 21 per cent, has taken exception to some of the fans’ websites repeating allegations first aired by the former ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray. Now his legal moves have sparked a revolt in the blogosphere.

Alisher Usmanov was jailed under the old Soviet regime for corruption. He says this was politically motivated – and that he was a political prisoner who was then freed and granted a full pardon once Mikhail Gorbachev came to power as president.

The lawyers’ letters began flying a couple of weeks ago. What started it was, according to his lawyers, “false, indefensible and grossly defamatory” allegations against Mr Usmanov on the website of outspoken former ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray.

Mr Usmanov’s lawyers wrote to Murray and to his internet service provider asking them to remove the allegations.

Former Uzbekistan ambassador Craig Murray has found some unlikely allies from across the political spectrum.
Murray refused and, facing the threat of a libel suit, his internet service provider took down his website.

Lawyers’ letters also started landing in the inboxes of people who had linked to Murray’s site – in particular, Arsenal fan websites.

Facing the threat of being shut down, they removed the links.

If Usmanov thought that was the end of it, it wasn’t.

Over the last 24 hours it’s become an internet cause celebre. Craig Murray has found some highly unlikely allies from across the political spectrum.

Over 100 high-profile bloggers have now posted on it and, as we found, some are brazenly posting the original Craig Murray article that started this all off.

I don’t know if I’m one of the “high profile bloggers” he’s talking about but I am proud to have taken part in this and in posting the original article that Usmanov has been trying so hard to censor.  This isn’t because I get some peverse kick out of fisking people in the public eye (although I must admit I do enjoy it from time to time 😉 ) or because I think it’s “cool” to do this sort of thing.  Craig Murray’s book which contains all the accusations Usmanov is trying to censor from the blogosphere now has been out for over a year now and despite begging him to sue him for libel, Murray has yet to receive a summons to defend his claims.  Instead, Usmanov has hired thugs in suits to intimidate bloggers and web hosting companies into censoring criticism of him.  Craig Murray’s hosts – Fast Host – even went as far as editing a post on his blog to remove something he said and replace it with their own comment saying that lots of people disagree with his claims!

The long and short of it is, Usmanov has had over a year to challenge what his rotweillers claim to be libellous comments but has chosen not to do so.  Judging by the effort he is putting into bullying people who will struggle to defend themselves, he clearly wants to stop the accusations from being publicly available but the fact he has failed to do so through the courts means the only reasonable conclusion to come to is that the comments are – at least partially – true.

We bloggers are in the fortunate position that we are not subject to the censorship of editors or shareholders but it doesn’t mean that there is nobody out there trying to stop us saying what we want.  I have been threatened with legal action over things I’ve written in the past.  Usually they threaten me with slander which is when it’s spoken, not written down – always a good indication that the “lawyer” they’ve spoken to has an office somewhere between their ears.  But I’ve always written what I believe to be true and if I’ve got the information third hand then I say so – an example of how good netiquette can also save you from getting yourself sued.

Bloggers have a responsibility not to abuse the privelleged position they are in.  Some people don’t have the same right to free speech that we do in the civillised world.  But we must also protect that privelleged position – today it’s a Russian/Uzbekh (alleged) criminal, tomorrow it could be the government that are trying to stop you from criticising them.

Price Fixing Dairy Products

The big supermarkets are being investigated following claims of price-fixing on dairy products.

It is alleged that supermarkets are conspiring to keep the price of dairy products – milk, cheese, yoghurts, etc. – artificially high.

Whether I agree with them or not depends on one thing – who is benefiting from the inflated prices?  Supermarkets have been criticised continually for the past few years for paying less than cost price for milk from dairy farmers.  If keeping the price of dairy products artificially high means farmers are getting more for their milk then surely that’s what people have been asking for?  The supermarkets aren’t going to cut into their profits if they can avoid it – they exist to make as much profit as possible for their shareholders, not to provide a public service.  All this guff about corporate responsibility is bollocks.

Of course, if farmers aren’t seeing any of the extra money then that’s another matter entirely and the supermarkets are bang out of order.  Legally they’re wrong regardless of their motives because they’re operating a price-fixing cartel and that’s illegal.

Is this a case of being caught between a rock and a hard place?

Minge Campbell

Minge Campbell, the geriatric leader of the Illiberal Democrats, is facing not so subtle challenges to his leadership of the party.

Sir Minge said that his age wasn’t an issue but that he would make it an issue at the next election because “With Age Comes Experience, with age comes … erm … with er …”

Senility?  Incompetence?  Incontinence?  All three?  Does Sir Minge really believe that the fact that he’s a 230 year old zombie is positive enough to make one of the most pointless and ineffectual parties in history an election-winning prospect?

English nationalists risk civil war

Illiberal Dumbasscrat blog, Quaequam, is attempting to explain why an English Parliament is bad and why English people should submit to having their nationality and national identity abolished and their country broken up and lost forever.

This one is particularly entertaining in that the author really does seem to believe his somewhat bizarre claims, the most bizarre of which is “Every time an English Nationalist speaks they go on about how if we don’t have an English Parliament, we risk having a civil war,” closely followed by a comment saying that English MP’s make important decisions about Scotland all the time and citing the Barnett Formula – administered by a Scottish Chancellor of the Exchequer for the last 10 years – as an exmple!

Now, we all know that the Illliberal Dipshit’s don’t like England.  Their last three leaders have been an Irish commando, a Scottish alcoholic and a Scottish geriatric.  The Lib Dums are an irrelevance in England, the only place they have any influence is in Scotland and Wales where they traditionally vote for illiberal left wing eurofederalists.  But to suggest that every time someone complains about the British establishment’s racial discrimination against English people they are risking a civil war is simply a poor work of fiction.

The author tries to produce an air of mystery around the name, Quaequam, with this strange post – like anyone actually cares why his blog is called Quaequam!  I know that having read that you’ll be dying to know what it means and I did post a comment explaining it but it was deleted.  That might strike you as a bit childish but then the word “Quaequam” comes from a comic book and you really can’t expect much else from a grown man that reads children’s comic books.  Apart from the kind of crap he posts on his blog, I guess.

ISP’s censor top blogs

Veteran bloggers Tim Ireland, Bob Piper and Boris Johnson have had their sites pulled by their ISP’s for criticising Alisher Usmanov, the alleged dodgy geezer who is trying to buy Arsenal football club.

People who have been into the blogging scene for a while will know that things like this have happened a few times in the past but that the censors never win.

Ironically, Bob Piper the person who did a picture of David Cameron bloacked up for Bob Piper once threatened legal action to bloggers carrying a copy of a page that he thought he’d deleted – the page in question is, and always has been, available on this blog (Naughty Bob Piper).  The Sun got a High Court injunction banning the publishing of images of a journalist they used to try and entrap George Galloway MP.  The blogging community published hundreds of copies of his picture and the injunction was set aside because it was unenforceable.

The latest attempt to supress free speech comes courtesy of Alisher Usmanov’s lawyers, Schillings of London.  Schillings are apparently well known for this sort of thing although I’ve not had any experience of them.  Yet.

No doubt they’ll be in touch soon – the post by Craig Murray, the former Uzbekh ambassador and author of a book which criticises him, which Schillings are trying to censor is as follows:

September 2, 2007

Alisher Usmanov, potential Arsenal chairman, is a Vicious Thug, Criminal, Racketeer, Heroin Trafficker and Accused Rapist

I thought I should make my views on Alisher Usmanov quite plain to you. You are unlikely to see much plain talking on Usmanov elsewhere in the media becuase he has already used his billions and his lawyers in a pre-emptive strike. They have written to all major UK newspapers, including the latter:

“Mr Usmanov was imprisoned for various offences under the old Soviet regime. We wish to make it clear our client did not commit any of the offences with which he was charged. He was fully pardoned after President Mikhail Gorbachev took office. All references to these matters have now been expunged from police records . . . Mr Usmanov does not have any criminal record.”

Let me make it quite clear that Alisher Usmanov is a criminal. He was in no sense a political prisoner, but a gangster and racketeer who rightly did six years in jail. The lawyers cunningly evoke “Gorbachev”, a name respected in the West, to make us think that justice prevailed. That is completely untrue.

Usmanov’s pardon was nothing to do with Gorbachev. It was achieved through the growing autonomy of another thug, President Karimov, at first President of the Uzbek Soviet Socilist Republic and from 1991 President of Uzbekistan. Karimov ordered the “Pardon” because of his alliance with Usmanov’s mentor, Uzbek mafia boss and major international heroin overlord Gafur Rakimov. Far from being on Gorbachev’s side, Karimov was one of the Politburo hardliners who had Gorbachev arrested in the attempted coup that was thwarted by Yeltsin standing on the tanks outside the White House.

Usmanov is just a criminal whose gangster connections with one of the World’s most corrupt regimes got him out of jail. He then plunged into the “privatisation” process at a time when gangster muscle was used to secure physical control of assets, and the alliance between the Russian Mafia and Russian security services was being formed.

Usmanov has two key alliances. he is very close indeed to President Karimov, and especially to his daughter Gulnara. It was Usmanov who engineered the 2005 diplomatic reversal in which the United States was kicked out of its airbase in Uzbekistan and Gazprom took over the country’s natural gas assets. Usmanov, as chairman of Gazprom Investholdings paid a bribe of $88 million to Gulnara Karimova to secure this. This is set out on page 366 of Murder in Samarkand.

Alisher Usmanov had risen to chair of Gazprom Investholdings because of his close personal friendship with Putin, He had accessed Putin through Putin’s long time secretary and now chef de cabinet, Piotr Jastrzebski. Usmanov and Jastrzebski were roommates at college. Gazprominvestholdings is the group that handles Gazproms interests outside Russia, Usmanov’s role is, in effect, to handle Gazprom’s bribery and sleaze on the international arena, and the use of gas supply cuts as a threat to uncooperative satellite states.

Gazprom has also been the tool which Putin has used to attack internal democracy and close down the independent media in Russia. Gazprom has bought out – with the owners having no choice – the only independent national TV station and numerous rgional TV stations, several radio stations and two formerly independent national newspapers. These have been changed into slavish adulation of Putin. Usmanov helped accomplish this through Gazprom. The major financial newspaper, Kommersant, he bought personally. He immediately replaced the editor-in-chief with a pro-Putin hack, and three months later the long-serving campaigning defence correspondent, Ivan Safronov, mysteriously fell to his death from a window.

All this, both on Gazprom and the journalist’s death, is set out in great detail here:

Usmanov is also dogged by the widespread belief in Uzbekistan that he was guilty of a particularly atrocious rape, which was covered up and the victim and others in the know disappeared. The sad thing is that this is not particularly remarkable. Rape by the powerful is an everyday hazard in Uzbekistan, again as outlined in Murder in Samarkand page 120. If anyone has more detail on the specific case involving Usmanov please add a comment.

I reported back in 2002 or 2003 in an Ambassadorial top secret telegram to the Foreign Office that Usmanov was the most likely favoured successor of President Karimov as totalitarian leader of Uzbekistan. I also outlined the Gazprom deal (before it happened) and the present by Usmanov to Putin (though in Jastrzebski’s name) of half of Mapobank, a Russian commercial bank owned by Usmanov. I will never forget the priceless reply from our Embassy in Moscow. They said that they had never even heard of Alisher Usmanov, and that Jastrzebski was a jolly nice friend of the Ambassador who would never do anything crooked.

Sadly, I expect the football authorities will be as purblind. Football now is about nothing but money, and even Arsenal supporters – as tight-knit and homespun a football community as any – can be heard saying they don’t care where the money comes from as long as they can compete with Chelsea.

I fear that is very wrong. Letting as diseased a figure as Alisher Usmanov into your club can only do harm in the long term.

This text is available from the Google cached version of Craig Murray’s website and from other websites and blogs.  Whether Craig Murray is right or wrong in what he says, he has a right to voice his opinion.  If Alisher Usmanov or his lawyers, Schillings, have proof that this is libelous then they should seek redress through the courts.  The fact that they simply threaten ISP’s and the media with legal action instead would suggest that the evidence doesn’t exist.

The fact also remains that not only has Craig Murray’s website been taken down but other websites that refer to it have also been taken down.  If someone wants to talk about a public figure or talk about someone else talking about a public figure then their right to do that must be protected.

You can do something about this.  Alisher Usmanov is a rich man but he cannot realistically take on hundreds or thousands of people.  Copy the text above to your website or blog and help protect free speech.

Cub Scouts

Number one got himself invested as a Cub Scout tonight …


18DS’ Blaney obsessed with war

Donal Blaney, the 18 Doughty Street presenter, is obsessed with war.

Barely a day goes by where his programmes don’t have some reference to the US Democrats wanting to “give up and run away” from Iraq or the need to bomb Iran into the stone age.

I wonder, would he be so in favour of Operation Bomb the Darkies if the British government introduced conscription and he was out there getting shot at fighting a war that was instigated on entirely false and illegal pretences?