Friday, 29 May 2009
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Saturday, 23 May 2009
May (MPs) never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals; but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind.
Well, it was written quite a few years ago, hence the "mankind" (keep up, Reading boys), and I would dispute that MPs "lead the nation", however they are good words, hat-tip Tom Harris MP for reproducing them here, a sound wheeze. Oh, if you were wondering, they are part of the Anglican prayer that is said by the House of Commons Chaplain at the start of each day's business, and for which you have to be present if you want to be sure of a seat in the Chamber that day.
And hat-tip Hopi Sen for posting about MPs' expenses in lolcats. Nobody else could do it.
I have spoken on the subject, in boring old plain English, to Radio 4, for broadcast on a programme called I think The Report next Thursday at 8 pm. They promised to send me a link to it, which I will of course post. And yes, naming has been done, Page Three Angel.
Friday, 22 May 2009
Anyway, when there was a vote on the issue in Parliament he didn't bother, saying he "didn't want to vote against the Government". There's a doughty campaigner.
More seriously, I have a friend who is in a coma and I am going to speak to him this afternoon, not of course knowing whether he will be able to hear me, or if any of this helps. If anyone reading this has experience of this situation and could advise that would be great.
Friday, 15 May 2009
Mr. Speaker: Martin Salter.
Martin Salter rose—
Hon. Members: Not again!
Martin Salter: This had better be good! Thank you for calling me, Mr. Speaker, for the third time and I hope for many more. Will the Leader of the House find time for a debate on the use of the £35 million Short money that the Opposition have received since 1997? That debate should be seen in the light of yesterday’s posturing by the Leader of the Opposition about the MPs’ communications allowance, which he and 90 per cent. of all Conservative MPs have claimed but now want abolished.
oh by the way - the Reading Borough Council Bill came back to the House yesterday. Thrown out again. Not a word from Mr Salter.
Thursday, 14 May 2009
Mr Salter is all over the media being Mr Clean. Not the cleverest thing. Given that he claimed £1000 a month from 1997 until the rules changed in 2001 for a non-existent London property. How is that better than Elliot Morley's mortgage payments? The House of Commons authorities say that records from before 2001 have been destroyed, I have been told - but no organisation destroys its payroll records. Ever. And I still have my payslips, which show ACA (Additional Costs Allowance, as second home money was known then), so they still have Salter's. So sooner or later the fraud will be exposed. Most of those currently "disgraced" were acting entirely within the rules. Not so Mr Salter during those years. I showed him how to fill in the forms and advised him to get a place in London in order to comply with them. You would have done better to keep quiet Mr Salter. You took the money and went fishing in India with Reading solicitor Mike Robinson, bragging to him and others that the "grand a month" was paying for it. Don't you wish you hadn't?
Here is Mike Robinson by the way. You will notice that he mentions his fishing holidays in India.
Nasty Naz is ahead of course, but who are his friends in the house?
Dangerous Denise is coming up on the side, she is a hard worker, in fact she is hard full stop, do not mess with her - but she is having a laugh with the girls we hear
Paul "PG Tips" Gittings is trying to get what is happening, but he doesn't. The other house mates are trying to persuade him to dress up in a cat suit, but it isn't working.
Dick Willy from Southampton has told the other house mates "I'm from Southampton".
Nasty Naz to the diary room...
Wednesday, 13 May 2009
* notice also that the wording on the website has been changed since yesterday, to acknowledge that Mr S actually did not vote on the Gurkha motion - took a bit long to learn the lesson of the lies on the Iraq vote, hein?
I am writing this on behalf of myself, Madan K. Gurung, Chandra Burathoki and Gyanraj Rai. All of us are Reading base-based former British Army Gurkhas.
As retired Gurkha soldiers living in Reading, we are surprised at the letters that have been published from Adrian Windisch and David Akroyd concerning Martin Salter’s abstention in the recent vote on the Lib Dem motion for Gurkhas (Post, Wednesday, May 6).
Their letters demonstrate not only their welcomed commitment to the Gurkha Justice cause but unfortunately, also their ignorance of the background to recent events.
It is also disappointing that Adrian and David seem to be making party political mileage out of what is a non-party political issue.
We are grateful to all our supporters but we recognise that the Parliamentary vote was won not just by the Labour MPs who voted with us but also by the far larger number of Labour MPs who refused to vote against Gurkhas and demonstrated this by withholding their votes.
Martin Salter was instrumental in persuading all those Labour MPs to support Gurkhas. We cannot think of a politician who has done more for the Gurkhas’ cause than Martin Salter, since he espoused the cause and was elected as chairman of the all party Gurkha Rights Group, a group he helped form.
We steadfastly believe that no Gurkha will say anything against Martin Salter and that nobody who is aware of what has actually been happening would doubt his motives and actions on Gurkhas.
Martin Salter remains in a unique position to help Gurkhas and we continue to rely on him in the settlement debate.
Martin Salter has in the past few days continued to demonstrate his genuine and serious commitment to Gurkhas by taking the Veterans Minister Kevan Jones to task in the Home Affairs Select Committee and also by continuing to attack the wholly fictitious arguments the Ministry of Defence is trying to push on the Government. We think he deserves praise not criticism.
Laxmi Prasad Sharma,
Madan Kumar Gurung
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Have been a little distracted lately as helping to look after a colleague and friend who has cancer, and this is kind of a new experience for me. Today I collected his prescriptions for him, which included a walking stick. Imagine. The rest of it was high-calorie food drinks to help him put on weight. You can be too thin.
Another, and much more trivial, distraction has been my attempts to book tickets on the Serbian Railways night train from Belgrade to Skopje (as you do) on Sunday night, and back again on Wednesday next. Cannot be done. Not electronically. After much struggle I discover this. My command of Serbian is limited but useful such as it is, as the Serbian language parts of the website (most of it) give far more information than the English does. Ho hum. We shall have to turn up in Belgrade on Sunday (germanwings from Stuttgart, excellent low cost airline, knocks the vile Ryanair into a cocked hat) not knowing how we are going to spend that night. Worse things happen at sea.
update: a very nice lady at Serbian Railways has just sent me the following email:
You can not reservation your tickets on our website or by telephone. You can reservation tickets 24 hours before travel to e-mail email@example.com Greeting!
Serbia has had a bad press. My brief visit to Belgrade in February showed me that.
Raj Chada - Asian. He's out.
Kelly Edwards. The girly stooge a la Anneliese. Might just be in with a shout as the one they can tell what to do.
Paul Gittings. Decent bloke (not what they want), and of course white and male (which they do want) and well known in the party. However Reading West has very few members - most of the Reading party members are in Reading East and have no vote - so there could be a rogue result.
Denise Headley. Girl. Not wanted. Not white either. Can't have that. But with the party members expressing their own views rather than being guided by councillors and Salter, maybe, just maybe.
Lisa Homan. Girl. Definitely not.
Ann Moore-Williams. Girl. Definitely not.
Naz Sarkar. Wrong sort of Asian. Is personally odious. This is usually an advantage in Reading West. The party members might just go for him, see Gittings.
Richard Williams. White and male. From Southampton, whose Labour Group and one of whose MPs (the unpleasant one) is hero-worshipped by Salter (who also has a vote in the process) - but will the few members in Reading West listen to Salter as much as he tells everyone they do?
What do readers think? My poll closes on eve of poll in Reading West. If postal voting is allowed in this selection and you are a Reading West member who is voting that way my advice to you is get someone you trust to take your ballot in person - the postal workers' union can get up to some very funny stuff.
Oh and ignore both the Gavins. They are not worth it.
He said: “Local newspapers hold local authorities to account. Whether you’re reporting the local court or council, local papers bring the way the community works into everybody’s home. If we don’t have local newspapers who is going to do that? If people don’t know what is going on in their community, how are they going to hold to account the people that run their lives? In the end, that is the point of local newspapers. They are essential.”
who do you think said that?*
and here is an example of that "holding to account" HMV is famed for:
an uncritical story about Mr Salter and Cllr Ruhemann having "protected" the Kennet Meadows - when a few years ago they were campaigning to build houses on it. I remember Dictatorship Dave Sutton appearing at Reading Labour Party to inform us moronic members of the public that we must all support housing on the meadows, and Mr Salter doing his bidding - but that was then and the Post has forgotten.
* It was John Humphrys. Hah!
As a postscript, RIP muckspreading, presumably Cllr Swaine is now otherwise engaged, in the savage struggle for the hearts and minds of the LibDem group on Reading Borough Council as they wait for the puff of smoke which announces a new leader.
Lord of our diversity,
unite us all, we pray;
welcome us to fellowship
in your inclusive way.
Andrew Brown's blog in the vile Guardian suggests this might be the worst. He is referring to the Anglican Consultative Council, which meets every three years and (to me at least) is a rather obscure body. It is meeting in Jamaica at present, which gives pause for thought when inclusiveness is being considered, hein? Someone else on the Andrew Brown blog suggests this as a hymn verse:
we will gadda in mobay,
To read da book a different way,
so Da batty man one day,
Wid us all can come an pray.
Well, as the hailstorms rage on this Alsace morning, thoughts do turn to these matters...
Monday, 11 May 2009
this from the website of Mr Salter, who told the media he was campaigning for the Gurkhas and then told them he "didn't want to vote against the Government" on the issue:
Mr Salter, who set up and chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gurkha Rights with Ann Widdecombe (Con) and Bob Russell (LibDem), negotiated a Government pledge not to deport any former Gurkha soldiers from Britain who failed to meet their new criteria and for the much-criticised settlement guidelines to be re-written by the summer. This climbdown was achieved two hours before the non-binding vote on the Liberal Democrat motion, and was welcomed by politicians of all parties and the Gurkhas themselves. Mr Salter addressed the Gurkha rally outside Parliament on Wednesday on details of the climbdown and received a warm reception
so what is a non-binding vote then? In eight years in the House I never heard of such a thing. A vote second class? A pretend vote? A children's vote? One that comes with a warning in Hansard "Please note: this vote Does Not Count. Any MP who told the media they were voting one way and voted another or abstained is Let Off."
I think rewritten was last spelled with a hyphen in about 1943.
John Howarth is 59.
One Labour MP, Stephen Pound, resigned as a PPS because he said he "couldn't look his Gurkha friends in the face" unless he voted against the Government on this issue. Is Mr Salter going to condemn Mr Pound for that course of action, given that the vote was "symbolic" and "non-binding"?
Thursday, 7 May 2009
By Wednesday morning, I and a number of other colleagues were sending out emails to three hundred Labour MPs urging them to withhold their support from the Government in the division lobbies later that afternoon unless we were promised a policy rethink. Pressure mounted during the day, not least thanks to the Speaker giving me the opportunity to raise at Prime Minister’s Question Time the appalling prospect of former Gurkha soldiers who did not meet the criteria being deported from Britain. By 2pm the Government’s position was shifting and after intense negotiations we got them to commit to review the policy (yet again!) before the summer recess in July and to promise that there will be no deportations of Gurkhas currently in Britain fighting their cases. At 3pm I addressed several hundred Gurkhas outside Parliament and told them the good news. None of this stopped the Government losing the symbolic vote later that afternoon but it is clear now that we are well on the way to getting justice for Gurkhas at last.
so the vote was only a symbolic one, so it was OK not to vote? Is a symbolic vote like being symbolic naked?
Gurkhas should be fast tracked to stay
By abstaining from the Commons vote on Gurkhas’ rights Martin Salter, the Labour MP for Reading West, betrayed the people he claims to represent.
As chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gurkhas’ Rights he wrote to fellow Labour MPs urging them to sign up to the revolt.
He said: “This is a moral issue and far more important than narrow party political squabbling. This is about doing the right thing by people who risked their lives for us.”
Then he abstained from voting, betraying all those who supported him.
Thankfully other Labour Party rebels were morally stronger and the result was an all party coalition that defeated the Government’s plans.
The Government lost the vote in the House of Commons by 267 to 246, the first time a government has lost an opposition day debate since 1978. One ministerial aide, Stephen Pound, resigned from the Government to vote with the rebels, saying “I couldn’t look my Gurkha friends in the eye if I wasn’t doing everything I can to attempt to match their contribution to our country with our support for them.”
Madan Kumar Gurung, 57, from Reading, served as a Gurkha for 24 years.
He said the result was a “historic victory” for the Gurkhas and “I would like to thank the loving and lovely people of Britain form the bottom of my Gurkha heart. Having fought so hard it is a great feeling to know that my colleagues will be able to stay here.”
The Green Party supports Gurkhas and their families. Rob White put a motion to last year’s conference which achieved overwhelming support.
Gurkhas have played an active front line part in the British Army’s activities in times of war and peace for nearly 200 years. In this period approximately 300,000 have fought alongside United Kingdom soldiers with the loss of 45,000 of them.
Gurkhas and their families should be given fast track eligibility for either the right to remain or for citizenship.
You can read more about this issue at www.gurkhajustice.org.uk
Reading Green Party
Despite his fine words MP abstained in vote
Recently Reading West MP Martin Salter has been speaking eloquently and emotionally in support of Gurkhas’ residence rights, having made himself chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gurkhas’ rights.
Despite talking the talk, Martin again showed he wasn’t up to walking the walk. On April 29 he abstained in a Commons vote on a motion supporting Gurkhas’ settlement rights.
The 27 Labour rebels who joined with the opposition to defeat the Government included a ministerial aide who resigned his role to support the revolt.
In contrast, after all his fine words, Mr Salter couldn’t bring himself to put his vote where his mouth was despite not even having anything to lose as he is standing down as an MP.
Backing the Gurkhas? With his cowardice and hypocrisy Martin isn’t even worth a gherkin.
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
I just wanted to thank you for your support whilst I was a candidate in the Reading West selection. I say was because I am no longer a candidate. I won't comment here on the process but I was not shortlisted, despite the nominations and goodwill I received.With a council by-election ongoing in Lambeth and my council portfolio (community safety) there are many day-to-day challenges to get on with. My enthusiasm is undimmed.I will also be doing the London to Brighton bike ride in June and it would cheer me up if you could think about sponsoring me!http://www.justgiving.com/cllrmarkbennettBack to Reading West, you may have seen the following in the Sunday Telegraph (if you did I hope you don't buy it), which I would like to comment on."Another battlefield on which Labour’s future will be settled is the selection of general election candidates.The Sunday Telegraph has uncovered an attempt to parachute a Blairite into a winnable seat following the fiasco at Erith & Thamesmead where a bid to win the selection for Georgia Gould, the 22-year-old daughter of Lord Gould, Mr Blair’s polling guru, has ended up with an investigation into alleged tampering with postal votes.In Reading West, where retiring MP Martin Salter hands over a Labour majority of more than 4,600, Mark Bennett, who used to be Alastair Campbell’s deputy at 10 Downing Street and who was said to have been the author of a critical memo about Gordon Brown, suddenly joined the contest “from nowhere” according to local sources.Armed with glossily printed letters to party members, Mr Bennett won significant support before falling to a pincer movement and failing to make the final shortlist.However, Labour sources expect Blairites to use similar techniques across the country where seats suddenly become vacant in a bid to “change the face of the parliamentary Labour Party” and bolster the chances of a Blairite candidate in a future leadership election."
I have written the following letter to the Sunday Telegraph.
Patrick Hennessy's article describing me as a 'Blairite' parachute candidate in Reading West needs correction.I do not identify as Blairite, Brownite, New Labour, Old Labour or any of the labels that are attached to people by others for their own negative purposes. I identify only as Labour and totally disapprove of factions seeking to out-left or out-right each other.I have been a Labour activist for 17 years, and a trade unionist for longer. I started work as a hospital porter aged 17 while Margaret Thatcher was prime minister. That does not make me a Thatcherite, and to label me a Blairite because I worked at Downing Street (as a civil servant) from 1997-2001 is equally simplistic. It is true I worked for Alastair Campbell in Downing Street, but I was not his deputy as Mr Hennessy claims. I was a researcher, as a glance at his diaries will show.Nor was there any parachuting in Reading West - it was my own decision to stand and like many other candidates I have pounded the pavements alone. There was no machine helping me. The 'significant support' referred to came from across the Labour movement, and I am grateful for it. As for 'glossily printed letters' to members - such luxuries were not open to me. I have never been wealthy and come from a working class, Labour-supporting family rooted in Reading and Berkshire. I have known Reading since I was a baby. My grandfather, Tom Bennett, was born into poverty in what is now Reading West and I have family living and working across Reading. So describing me as "from nowhere" in respect of Reading West or Labour politics is false. I have worked hard as a Labour councillor in Lambeth for four years, with a crime portfolio, so I am not untested as a working politician.I do not recognise the 'memo critical of Gordon Brown' to which Mr Hennessy refers, and in fact I volunteer for Go Fourth: The Campaign for a Labour Fourth Term. I believe in party unity and in Labour in government. I will continue to do so. Finally, I offer whoever is finally selected in Reading West my best wishes.Yours faithfullyCllr Mark BennettCabinet Member for Community SafetyLabour and Co-operative councillor for Streatham SouthLondon Borough of LambethAnyway, members of this group, apologies for a longwinded email and thanks so much for your support. It meant a lot.Yours everMark
It is on his facebook group, which is where I saw it.
Monday, 4 May 2009
In Reading West, where retiring MP Martin Salter hands over a Labour majority of more than 4,600, Mark Bennett, who used to be Alastair Campbell’s deputy at 10 Downing Street and who was said to have been the author of a critical memo about Gordon Brown, suddenly joined the contest “from nowhere” according to local sources.
although those "local sources" are likely to be talking arse, as they often do. Anyway, Mark Bennett did not make the shortlist, although a couple of GIRLS did! We can't have THAT of course.
Armed with glossily printed letters to party members, Mr Bennett won significant support before falling to a pincer movement and failing to make the final shortlist
so who was against him then?
Thanks to everyone who has commented on the demise of my blog and its reinstatement here. Investigations continue as to how this has happened, and the strong hint in Salter's last Westminster Diary column, which railed against political bloggers and referred obliquely to legal action, did not escape me. Looks like I might have to go autonomous rather than being a rent-free tenant on blogger.com as I have been up to now. Being autonomous pays better anyway.
Friday, 1 May 2009
the point having been well made by Cllr Willis here
where he asks the question "Has Martin Salter No Shame?" I have known Mr Salter for well over 20 years but even I am disappointed now. He asked a Prime Minister's Question this week, after months of gurning for the media about Gurkhas. He spoke in Parliament about going to the funeral of a Gurkha veteran from Reading. (That veteran was, of course, a Reading East constituent.) Then there was a LibDem motion - on the Gurkha veterans' issue. Then there was a vote. He abstained. He used the same line in the media he has used many times before, notably when he abstained on Crossrail, namely that he would not vote against the government because he had received "private assurances" on the issue. This even though he had pledged to use "all Parliamentary means" to campaign for the Gurkhas. Except speaking in the House on the issue. He was silent throughout the debate, if he was there at all. And did not vote, obviously. Those two little letters after the name, "MP" mean that you are, er, a Member of Parliament, and that your place is there. If Mr Salter changed his mind on the Gurkha issue, as he is entitled to do, then given that he had been a clanging cymbal for the media, and had also made a self-justificatory statement, published uncritically by the Daily Telegraph, on his U-turn, why did he not stand up in the House and state his position? His constituents deserve that much, even though it was a deceased Reading East constituent he had most recently spoken about. An amendment was tabled in his name as well as in that of George Howarth, a Labour MP I always found to be honourable and decent though we did not always agree. But he did not speak to it. Did not speak at all. Only to the newspapers. Shame. Shame.
He didn't use this line when he abstained on Iraq He just lied.
Which is worse?