Thursday, November 08, 2007

Not impressed - sculpture?


Call me old fashioned but I am not impressed with this sculpture which was unveiled in Trafalgar Square yesterday on the fourth plinth. How this fits in to Trafalgar Square's environment is just beyond me. More details can be found here at the Fourth Plinth Website.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Dave Bassett replaces Gus Poyet


Leeds have moved quickly to appoint a new assistant manager following Gus Poyet's move to Spurs. In comes Dave Bassett who has worked with Dennis Wise at previous clubs so hopefully this a shrewd move. According to the BBC Leeds are also looking to make a further appointment to the first team coaching staff within the next week.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rubbish tax is rubbish - maybe

The report in yesterdays Guardian stating that the Government has cleared up the rubbish tax confusion did not to my mind clear up the confusion

In the article itself it seemed that there were two very different steers emerging depending on which line you read. On the one hand "a Defra document published on the official Whitehall website revealed that the climate change bill would allow local authorities to charge for waste in a bid to boost recycling" and on the other "paper versions given to reporters and MPs stated that the bill would only give local councils the power to run pilot schemes to encourage recycling"

These two different slants would seem to propose very different ways of going about things.

The first implies that households will be charged for the amount of rubbish they throw away. This would seem to be on the basis that the amount of non recyclable rubbish can be weighed and a bill can be issued. I am absolutely convinced that this method will not be a great success and will in all likelihood lead to two unwanted outcomes - an increase in the amount of rubbish fly tipped or taken directly to the local municipal site and an increase in neighbour disputes caused by people putting their rubbish into other peoples bins.

The second implies some kind of scheme whereby those who recycle through kerbside collection facilities gain some kind of reward which is offset by those who refuse to use such facilities receiving some kind of charge. This seems to be a more positive way to go about things but we have to ensure that every household has the facilities to recycle and I suspect the administration of such schemes will be relatively expensive and open to challenge. If someone does not put out any recyclables then presumably their normal bins will need to be checked to see whether or not their waste contains recyclables. This may also prove unpopular as the thought of the local authority rooting through peoples bins may not go down very well.

If implemented sensibly by local authorities this may help, if not do not be surprised to see the amount of fly tipping on the increase

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Personal advisers on commuting!

Apparently the government in the form of Ruth Kelly is planning "a big increase in access to 'personal travel plans' after trials showed huge decreases in car travel for only a few million pounds of public spending. Under the scheme, households and other organisations are offered personal advice, including a home visit, during which an expert analyses what journeys are made by car and how some could be replaced by other means."

As an aim this is to be lauded although I somehow doubt the cost effectiveness and long term benefit of such a scheme without a real focus on and investment in tow other key factors.

Firstly money needs to be invested in good, clean, regular and reliable public transport. The example which I gave a month ago of our local station at Aldermaston is a good one. As I said then "On a Sunday as the trains wend their merry way from Newbury To Reading and back again try guessing how many trains stop at Aldermaston. Yes you guessed it a grand total of zero. Slow trains go up and down and stop elsewhere but not here." Just how much extra would it cost to get these trains to stop? Very little I suspect.

Secondly I suspect that a far greater return on investment could be achieved through working with employers to see how technology to could be best used to enable a significant number of employees to work from home for part or all of the week. Personal experience would seem to indicate that the worst times to travel on the motorway network in this country are Monday morning, Friday afternoon and Sunday evening. At least two of these three could be addressed through and increase in home working.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Into the playoff places

Leeds are now sixth in the table after just thirteen games of the season and a mere four points off the top spot. Next weeks away trip to Carlisle should be interesting given the current state of the League Table although if Forest beat Oldham we could be back in seventh by then.

Today's Guardian had a great piece on Saturdays 4-2 demolition of Millwall.

The old adage of the home crowd being a 12th man does not do justice to
Leeds United's vehement support - 13th, 14th and 15th men should be added to
that cliche. This was Leeds' sixth home win out of seven, lifting them into the
play-off positions, and it is difficult to see how any team from League One will
emerge from this intimidating venue with three points

The attendance of 30,319 was the highest in the Football League this season
and the fourth highest in the country on Saturday, and it took the average at
Elland Road to over 27,000 - more than any Championship club and 6,000 more than Leeds themselves registered in the higher division last season. Only two other
teams in League One have an average attendance that stretches to five
figures

They may remain in denial over what happened last season and during the
summer - the tickets for Saturday's match said Football League Championship, the
"Real League Table" printed in the matchday programme has Leeds top of League
One by some distance, and No15 in the squad is listed as "Football League" - but
the points penalty is unlikely to matter at the end of the season.
I certainly hope they are right!

The full article can be found under the headline "Leeds's baying Colosseum revels in ruthless mauling of the Lions"

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My vote goes to Nick Clegg


So why am I backing Nick Clegg?
Well I suspect that this will be a two horse race with an extreme outside chance that it might just become a one horse race! I assumed that Steve Webb would also stand but he has now thrown his weight behind Nick Clegg.

Last time I gave my second preference to Chris Huhne and unlike previous leadership elections where there has always been one candidate (usually the winner) whom I would not give a preference to at all I would not have a problem if Chris was elected.

I don't believe that there are huge differences between the two likely candidates and I guess I reserve the right to change my mind if some really significant policy differences emerge.

For me the critical question is which of the two is more likely to be able to engage with and communicate to the electorate at large as opposed to just to friendly Liberal Democrat audiences? Who is most likely to speak in plain language? Who is most likely to understand the every day common issues which affect millions of people? Who is most likely to understand the issues which frustrate people and where we need to identify (and communicate) common sense (a particular bug bear of this blog at the moment) policies for the future.

Given that this is the critical issue for me there is only one answer - Nick Clegg.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Post Flooding Report - Phase 2 underway

The next phase of the restoration of our house has begun. However this is just another way of saying more demolition has taken place as the floors and skirting boards come out.

The good news is that there is relatively little damp under the floor and so with a bit of luck the final stage of drying out may be shorter than expected. It also looks as if they may have to remove less plaster than was originally estimated. More than half the floor cam out today and the rest goes tomorrow.

This picture shows the bomb site that is now our hallway


This was a bedroom believe it or not


And this was a bathroom!




Monday, October 22, 2007

The death of Common Sense

I was sent the following by friend and it precisely sums up the way I feel about modern life in the UK. Source unknown but this theme is one that The Liberal Democrats could do well to exploit. Most people know instinctively that the world has gone mad and common sense has been lost. We need to identify these issues and explain what we propose to do about it. That will be a great way to reconnect with the electorate

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years.

No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
Why the early bird gets the worm;
Life isn't always fair;
and Maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6 -year- old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Tylenol, sun lotion or a band-aid to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 3 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I'm A Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

More flooding related problems

More news on the flooding front as Gordon Brown attempts to persuade the electorate that he handled the flooding crisis well.



According to MSN "The Prime Minister has appealed to insurers to continue offering cover to people in high flood risk areas after the industry reacted angrily to flood defence spending.


The Association of British Insurers (ABI) accused the Government of letting down millions of homeowners and businesses by failing to give enough money to help prevent floods.


It also warned that the shortfall in money announced in Tuesday's Comprehensive Spending Review could leave homeowners in areas at risk facing more trouble insuring their properties.
Before this summer's floods, the ABI had already called for the Government to spend £2.25 billion on flood defences during the coming three years.



But Chancellor Alistair Darling announced spending between 2008/2009 and 2010/2011 would total just £2.15 billion. The trade association said the announcement showed the Government had "completely failed to grasp the importance" of improving the country's flood defences in the wake of this summer's floods.



But speaking at Commons question time Gordon Brown insisted that differences with the industry over spending were "very small" and that the Government was doing everything it could to improve defences.


He also appealed to insurers not to deny cover to people at risk of flooding. He said: "I hope they will not take the step to deny people insurance."



Well Mr Brown I have a few messages to you with regard to flooding



1) It is almost certainly going to happen again and if your government has cut the money then don't complain when your government gets the blame



2) We have to stop building on flood plains at all costs - it is economic madness to continue



3) A lot of the flooding was not caused by flood plains from rivers it was caused by volume of water and high water tables. If we have a similar period of weather again the we are going to have similar problems. Money needs to be invested in drainage to ensure that water can be taken away to replenish reservoirs and that local drainage systems can be kept clear to handle high volumes of water. Money needs to be invested through local authorities and the farming community to ensure that this happens

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More lack of common sense



I missed this story which surfaced about a month ago. How old does the gentleman above look to you? 52? 62? Well actually he is 72 but clearly over 21


According to the BBC "Supermarket staff refused to sell alcohol to a white-haired 72-year-old man - because he would not confirm he was over 21. Check-out staff at Morrisons in West Kirby, Wirral, demanded Tony Ralls prove he was old enough to buy his two bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon. Mr Ralls asked to see the manager who put the wine back on the shelf. The grandfather-of-three said he had refused to confirm he was over 21 as it was a "stupid question."


Mr Ralls, a retired insurance firm regional manager, said he expected the store manager to resolve the situation but he was disappointed. "I felt like saying 'What do I look like? Are you a fool?' "He picks up the wine and, in the manner of a child taking home his ball, says 'Well, we won't serve you'."


The pensioner abandoned his shopping on the conveyor belt and left the store - but not before demanding a complaints form and phone number for Morrisons' headquarters.


I realise that retailers have to be careful but somewhere along the line surely there should be an element of common sense in deciding whose age needs to be checked.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ming quits

According to Sky News Ming has quit as party leader. The announcement was made by Simon Hughes and Vince Cable. Vince takes over as acting leader pending the election of a new leader.

Good news indeed. Ming was always a great foreign affairs spokesman but never made his mark as leader. Let us hope that we can now elect a leader capable of connecting with the electorate without references to things such as the "motor car"!

Top half and unbeaten

11 Games into the season and we are sitting in 12th place in the top half of the table and unbeaten so far. We are a mere 4 points off the playoff places and 6 points away from the automatic promotion spots. I have to say having seen the highlights of the 1-1 draw with Orient we are very lucky to be on 14 points although we missed a penalty they should certainly have won the game with a disallowed goal which clearly crossed the line. perhaps our luck has changed at last

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Still minus 15


According to the BBC "The Football Association has informed Leeds there will be no more action over the decision to dock them 15 points." I cannot understand why the FA refuse to act. We were rightly docked 10 points last season but as far as I can see there is absolutely no reason why we should have been docked 15 points this season.
Given the saga over West Ham and given the principles of natural justice it does not seem right that teams who we are competing with were able to act as judge and jury in this matter. As I understand it the FA has certain rules and principles which it is supposed to adhere to - clearly ensuring fair play is not one of them in this case.
Anyway as I write Leeds are 1-0 up against Gillingham approaching half time. Lets hope we can secure another three points.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Public Transport


I guess this is another story about common sense or lack of it

The sort of issue that we need to tackle at a detailed level where the ordinary people of this country can see that what is happening does not make sense and yet nothing is done.

We live about ten minutes walk from Aldermaston station which is on the main line between Reading and Newbury. So far so good with six kids between us and four of them teenagers you would think that this would be a good thing - and so it is sometimes.

Last Saturday night one of them wanted to go to Reading for the evening. He can drive and has a car but being sensible decided that the combination of alcohol and driving would not be a good one. So he checked the train times from Aldermaston to Reading and walked to the station and waited.....................and waited......................and waited. No train so he walked home again and then went back to the Station. He checked the timetables at the station. Guess what there were two of them and they both showed different times for the next train!

Still no trains.

I drove him to Theale. Still no trains and a notice indicating that the line to Aldermaston was not running and no trains to Reading anytime soon. I have no idea why they had not thought to put signs up at Aldermaston Station nor why the two timetables showed different times nor why the internet timetable was not capable of indicating that this section of track did not have any actual trains running over it. Simple actions which would help the travelling public

Then we come to Sundays. On a Sunday as the train wend their merry way from Newbury To Reading and back again try guessing how many trains stop at Aldermaston. Yes you guessed it a grand total of zero. Slow trains go up and down and stop elsewhere but not here. So if you are a teenager and want to get around on a Sunday you will need a car and once you have got that car well it seems silly to use public transport doesn't it?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Post Flooding Report - Phase 1 complete



It is fairly depressing to watch most of your home being broken up and put into a skip but that is what has been going on over the last week or so. After a long saga of inaction and many phone calls to the insurance company and their various agents we have finally seen some action. Most of the ground floor contents have been written off and broken up and put into a skip. We have had two of these big skips both of which were full.




We now have a pretty empty ground floor. All the contents that could be saved have been packed and sent for storage. We still have a table and chairs (although they too have been written off) and a serviceable kitchen. That is about it on the ground floor. Some rooms do not have power as yet but we do have five drying machines on site at last



Next step is for the builder to remove the wooden floors throughout the ground floor along with all the skirting and up to one metre of plaster but as yet we have no timescales for this.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Wags raise £105,000



About a year ago I posted about the launch of the Royal Families charity.
The Wives and Girlfriends of the Reading Footballers got together under the banner of the Royal Families charity, which was set up by Amanda Hahnemann and Karen Murty (wives of goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann and captain Graeme Murty). They aimed to raise sixty thousand pounds throughout the season for local charities.
At the time this seemed like an extremely ambitious target but they smashed that target with some to spare.
Tonight they brought the 2006/07 season to a close and launched the fundraising for 2007/08.
In doing so they handed out £105,000 to local Berkshire charities. We hear so much negativity about footballers wives and girlfriends but these women are absolute stars and have set an example which Reading can be proud of and which many other clubs would do well to follow.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Out of the relegation zone

Now we are out of the relegation zone properly following yesterdays 2-0 defeat of Swansea. That makes seven straight wins and equals our start to the 1973/74 season when we won the title! A repeat would do just nicely. Of course if the Football League had not docked us fifteen points we would already be five points clear at the top. Lets hope that when the FA consider this case that they either overrule the fifteen point deduction or at least send the case to an independent commission.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Common sense

This story about pregnant women getting cash to have a good diet really got me thinking.

Where has all the common sense gone?

Nobody disputes that a healthy diet is a good thing for pregnant women. But just how is this grant of £120 supposed to achieve that. The women will receive the grant too late into pregnancy (some seven months in) to have the desired impact and there is no actual guarantee that the money will be spent on the healthy food it is paying for! In fact the money could be used to buy cigarettes, alcohol or drugs.

All this at an annual cost to the taxpayer of some £70 to £80m a year.

There are a number of issues where I think we should be making a very clear statement ahead of the next general election. These are not necessarily areas which need to be covered by heavy weight policy documents. A lot of what we want to do on the environment and many other issues is common sense but there are a number of smaller but meaningful issues which really resonate with the public and where we could make an impact

These are issues which for want of a better term are what I call common sense and fairness issues. Issues where the current government policy is either clearly barking mad, lacks commons sense or does not appear to be fair to people could yet prove to be a rich area for us to exploit.

Just as important as government policy is the reality on the ground. There may be areas where we would agree with the governments policy but where the practical implementation of the policy is not happening on the ground or where its implementation is not seen to be fair.

A list of common sense and fair pledges which resonate with the public could be very useful.

Lets start with abandoning this policy and saving the £70 to £80m.

Six out of Six

Given the depressing start to this season things have not developed badly.

Ok there is still plenty of opportunity for things to get worse but six games, six wins, eighteen points and a goal difference of plus eleven is not to be sniffed at!

I know that most of the rest of league one have to play tomorrow but to be out of the relegation zone already is absolutely stunning. We are now six points from the playoff spots and ten points from the automatic promotions spots. If we had not been docked fifteen points we would be five points clear at the top of the league.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The season begins here

The Football League docked Leeds United 15 points. I still cannot work out why they were docked any points let alone 15!

Anyway five games of the season have now elapsed. Five Games, Five Wins, Fifteen Points and we now stand on the grand total of zero after today's 2-0 win over Hartlepool. First target achieved and we are now three points from safety, nine points from the playoff spots and ten points from the automatic promotion spots with the best goal difference in the division. Had we not been docked points we would be two points clear at the top.

Meanwhile the off the pitch turmoil continues as Leeds United have been barred from full membership of the Football Association after being unable to prove all their non-football creditors have been paid. The good news is that according to the BBC "Leeds United will still be able to compete in all competitions, including the FA Cup. However, they will be unable to vote at any FA general meetings or receive FA Cup final tickets"

Saturday, August 18, 2007

-9, -9, -9


I feel a new chant coming on

-9, -9, -9
-9, -9, -9
-9, -9, -9
-9,
-9.

So having started the season on -15 points we have managed three straight wins (including two in the league) and now stand on the grand total of -9 points and only a mere 10 points from 20th and safety. Whatever the ins and the outs of the legal ownership shenanigans that have been going on the team are giving it their all on the pitch and long may it continue!

Meanwhile Ken Bates has sent me a letter (text below) - how kind of him to attempt to explain what has been going on. Far far better would be if he sorted out the problems that are currently preventing me from using the Leeds United web site to buy tickets so that I can go to games!

If you read the text of his letter below and have a better interpretation that "it is all someone elses fault" please do let me know.

Dear Leeds Club Member

I have delayed my usual pre season letter until the outcome of recent events was resolved.

I can understand if you feel frustrated by the lack of information coming out of the Club but negotiations on many fronts have been both delicate and confidential. Unfortunately information given to fans is picked up by the media and we are then at the mercy of individual media reporters and editors who sometimes interpret (or in some cases misinterpret) a story according to their views or prejudices.

Only now do I feel comfortable in informing you of the position and it will be a long letter because you should know of the many aspects of the recent past including many parties, plots, intrigue and much more.

THE ADMINISTRATION (CVA)

KPMG were advised throughout by Walker Morris the Leeds based Insolvency Lawyers as well as two Senior Barristers. In view of several press articles and comments by the Football League it is essential to state that all parties behaved properly at all times. The common desire was to save Leeds United and stop the taxman's attempt to close it.

In view of the behaviour of certain parties with hidden agendas, KPMG decided to invite fresh offers but at the end of the day the offer from the Forward Sports Fund ('FSF') was still the highest and best.

After the original creditors meeting there is a period of 28 days for anybody to object. The taxman objected at 3pm on the last day just before the court closed.


At the insistence of the League, KPMG tried very hard to meet the Taxman's objections and the negotiations were conducted at the highest level. The first demand/condition was that all monies from FSF to KPMG should be paid upfront. That was agreed. The second demand was that the Football Creditors should not get preference and be paid any more than anybody else. This was an impossible demand. If Leeds didn't pay the Football Creditors in full then the Club didn't get membership of the League. We were between the devil and the deep blue sea. Damned if we do, damned if we don't. The Taxman then proposed that a sum equal to that going to the Football Creditors be paid into the general pool for all Creditors putting them in a better position. FSF agreed. The Taxman then refused to withdraw their appeal and further stated officially that they would vote against any other proposal if Football Creditors were ever paid in full. Indeed they stated that they would oppose any further CVA when Football Clubs were involved. Clearly this is an impossible situation.

What really irks the Taxman is that until 2003 they got preferential treatment in any insolvency. Now they don't. That is not Leeds fault or that of the League.

Finally, we believe that the actions of the Taxman were illegal.

In the case of Wimbledon the very question of the Football Creditors was challenged in the High Court and the Taxman lost on Appeal.

Secondly, Newcastle United won in the High Court against the Taxman because of their refusal to allow VAT on Agents' fees as a deduction. Despite losing, the Taxman still submitted a huge claim for VAT on Agents' fees which was illegal. The Taxman is questioning the validity of some creditors' claims. They do not have clean hands in this matter. This dispute is not about Leeds United, it is about opposing the Football League's Rule that Football Creditors must be paid in full.

ALTERNATIVE BUYERS

At the time of buying the Club from the Administrators, FSF promised to talk to any other would be purchasers with a view to any possible cooperation. We did the best we could. This is a summary of what did or did not happen.

1. DUNCAN REVIE - Did not and has not made any offer at all. Neither has he contacted me or any other Director.

2. SO CALLED AMERICAN INVESTMENT FUND - One phone call and they have not been in contact since. Absolutely no discussion.

3. REDBUS - Mark Taylor, a lawyer, had one meeting and one phone call. No proposal.

4. SIMON MORRIS - He made contact through a middle man. We informed him to call us direct. We weren't prepared to negotiate through a third party. We haven't heard from him. In the newspaper it was reported that in buying Leeds it would be part of a £500/600 million pound development in the surrounding area. Unfortunately (for him) he doesn't own the land and Leeds citeh Council have put it out to possible public tender.

He also employed two PR companies to run a dirty tricks campaign against me which backfired. We obtained a background memo, a copy of which is enclosed. PROJECT PEACOCK is the code name for Leeds and PROJECT PILGRIM is the code name for Boston United. Gerald Krasner was the squirrel for Boston United and Morris hoped to get the Boston Club ground for redevelopment but he was unsuccessful.

Despite all the media speculation we knew of no other interested party.

MELVYN LEVI

Levi was a member of the Yorkshire Consortium (YC) who briefly owned Leeds United until it was sold to the FSF in January 2005.

For technical reasons, FSF acquired 50% of the Club at the time and had an option to buy the other 50% in June 2005. FSF exercised the option but Levi refused to sign over the shares.

All decisions by YC had to be unanimous, consequently Levi's actions blocked the deal. From that day to this Levi has worked in the background attempting to frustrate every effort to strengthen the Club's finances. We planned a rights issue to raise a further £5m for the Club but Levi frightened off the participants. Last October we agreed a deal with an Irish consortium who would put £10m of new capital into the Club and lend us the dublooons to buy back Elland Road and the training ground. Levi found out and rang the would be investors and put them off. This is well documented.

Then Weston (see later) got in on the act with Levi and they demanded 10% of the Club, £200,000 in cash and Directors' Box tickets for life in return for honouring the option. Levi has denied this but we have witness statements on file.

This is a brief summary of what has occurred but suffice to say Levi has been actively trying to frustrate all our efforts to strengthen the Club's financial position. He even went to court and obtained an injunction against Leeds printing a match programme. The Judge threw out his case after 40 minutes.

Robert Weston is the first husband of Levi's wife. Levi arranged with Weston (who lives in Jersey) to handle Leeds season ticket credit card transactions. For two years we have been trying to recover the £190,000 which Weston owes to Leeds. He has used every possible delaying tactic to avoid repaying the dublooons which he has acknowledged he owes. We have at last obtained judgment and should get the dublooons this month. Weston has been in jail for trying to pervert the course of justice.

Levi is a disgrace.

PLAYERS, BUYING AND SELLING

Player transactions are very complicated and when fans jump to conclusions they do not always know the full facts which, for important reasons, cannot be revealed at the time.

Let me take David Healy as an example. Healy's agent voted against the CVA. Healy had one year left on his contract which meant he could sign a pre contract in January and walk out next June on a free transfer. Everybody said we should get £3m+ for him but nobody offered it. He was a high earner and his agent wanted him away. Fulham's was the only genuine offer and we got £1m for him plus add-ons. He cost us £750k from nob end plus 20% of any profit. We still owed nob end £200k so of the £1m we actually got £750k net. We have already spent £500k on buying Casper and Hughes.

A year ago Danny Rose refused to go to Chelsea because he "loved Leeds". Last month his agent refused a new contract and Rose walked out. After a lot of haggling we got £750k plus add-ons of £250k. To buy or sell a player (a) he has to want the move (b) the other Club must be willing to do a deal and (c) we must afford him, otherwise we are back in a Ridsdale situation.

One example is of a young promising striker from the South. Free transfer and earning £600 a week. Deal done, except that his agent suddenly demanded £6,000 a week in wages. No deal.

I know it is frustrating sometimes for fans but we do not reveal our plans publicly, it just alerts the opposition.Rest assured, Wisey plans to recruit experienced but mainly younger players who are hungry for success and want to achieve things, not those looking to delay their retirement with no ambition other than to have another pay day.

THE WAY FORWARD

We now have a Club with no debt, the last legacy of the Ridsdale era is behind us.

We still have the consequences of the Krasner, Levi and Morris actions with us. They sold Elland Road for £8m. We have to buy it back at £15m meanwhile paying £1.1m a year in rent.

We have tightly controlled budgets and all the staff know that every penny counts.

We are willing to have discussions with any serious investor who has the Club's best interests at heart, rather than hoping to make a quick buck from the property.

We are preparing plans to develop Elland Road to enable non footballing income to come into the Club to strengthen our buying power on a permanent basis.

We will invest in our scouting and youth policies to continue Leeds' great history of developing home grown players.

The 15 point "sanction" is a scandal and a travesty of justice. We are appealing that decision to the Football Association but meanwhile will get on with the job of strengthening the team and getting back firstly to the Championship and then the Premiership.

Dennis, Gus and myself are here for the long haul. So the mindless minority who do their silly chants had better get used to it.

On a lighter note may I point out that under the Sex Discrimination Act demonstrations that invite men getting their shirts off is only legal if the Ladies do the same!

Finally, thank you all for the tremendous support throughout the difficult time. Fulham, Man City, Derby, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough have all been in our current position, look where they are now.

Marching on Together

Ken Bates
Chairman

Saturday, August 11, 2007

We made it


We made it to the start of the season although at the time of writing we are currently 1-0 to Tranmere. It has been a horrendous summer culminating in the Football Leagues decision to dock us 15 points. That decision was appealed but the Football League stood by their original decision and seem determined to screw Leeds over good and proper.

I cannot for the life of me see what rule has been broken let alone what rule has been broken that would lead to us being docked 15 points having already been docked 10 points last season we appear to have incurred a 25 point penalty. And to think that West Ham did not even lose 1 point and are still in the Premiership.

If there was a problem in leaving administration other than through a CVA then the League rules should say that. But they don't they say "except in exceptional circumstances" Obviously there were exceptional circumstances in that the Administrators determined that a CVA was not the best route. We do not have any say in this as I understand it they are just administering the insolvency laws of this country so why have we been docked 15 points? Where in the rules does it say that we have committed an offence let alone that we should be docked 15 points for it? Frankly it stinks!

Before the 15 point deduction I thought we would probably have a long hard fight against relegation given our inability to sign new players, the loss of existing players and the lack of a proper pre season with a full squad. The deduction of 15 points merely confirms this and increases the likelihood that we will be relegated again.

Still at least we have at last been able to sign some players including a goalkeeper. Casper Ankergren, Leon Constantine, Curtis Weston, Matt Heath, David Prutton, Rui Marques, Alan Thompson, Torre Andre Flo and Andy Hughes have all signed or rejoined having been on loan last season.

Of course there is still the question of the court case being taken by Her Majesty's Revenues and Customs which is scheduled for 3rd September. Presumably this could see us back in administration again with a further 10 point deduction.

Perhaps the saddest summary of all that has gone on over the last five years was published in todays Guardian entitled "Fans fight against the dying of the light as Leeds face up to life at a new low". It was all summed up in the following short extract from that article.

Elland Road is empty but for a handful of fans at the ticket office. Tony Doran is Leeds from top to bottom - Bremner shirt, Leeds tattoo on arm and shoulder, Leeds wallet, Leeds glasses case, Leeds earring. He wants to know what's happening with his season ticket. "I paid by credit card and the card's not gone through yet." At the club pub, Billy's Bar, and the souvenir shop only cash is accepted. The credit card companies are refusing to accept credit from Leeds.

What's the feeling like in the city? "Not good," he says. "We've never
been this low before. We'll be lucky to get 15,000 next season."

Doran is with his niece. I ask her if she has noticed a change in him.
"Yeah. He's not had a smile on his face for a year."

As the photographer takes his picture, a security man emerges and asks
what we are doing here. I'm talking to fans, I say. He makes a call to the
press officer, and says I have to leave.

"Can I speak to the press officer?"

"No, he won't talk to you. You have to leave. This is private property."

I feel angry, as Doran does. He has spent tens of thousands of pounds on his club over the years, and he would like to have his photograph taken inside Elland Road, but the club won't allow it. "Disgusting. They treat us like scum," he says.



That is what we end up with at the end of all this. Fans who feel they have been treated with disdain by the club, the chairman, the Football League and the administrators. Gates that are falling as the club tries to charge Premiership prices for Championship relegation football. A club that cannot tell them what has happened to their season ticket money and whether or not they will have a ticket for games this season. A club shop that will not take credit cards because nobody wants to deal with them. A club where the Press Officer will not even talk to a journalist who actually wrote a very sympathetic article and a club where a life long fan was turned away from providing the photo for the self same article!

Friday, August 03, 2007

8 Days to go

We have eight days to go until the new season kicks off and the Football League are still refusing to release the golden share to Leeds. According to the BBC the Football League wants them to reconstitute a Company Voluntary Agreement before they will hand the share back. Surely if they went into administration and a CVA was constituted and they are now out of administration (at least according to KPMG) then reconstituting the CVA menas they are back in administration. Perhaps this is the cunning plan of the Football League so that they can dock a further 10 points!

Meanwhile according to the Daily Telegraph the Taxman's demands are deepening Leeds crisis. David Hartnett an official at HM Revenue and Customs has insisted that Leeds must pay the £7.7 million owed in tax and has also demanded that Bates must reveal the identity of the mysterious backers behind his new bid for the club. KPMG have stated that if HM Revenue and Customs demand full payment of their debt then any attempt to obtain a new CVA would fail. Added to which of course "Leeds' biggest creditor, Astor, whose owners are unknown as the company is registered in the British Virgin Islands, have indicated that they will only back Bates' bid."

Saturday, July 28, 2007

20 questions for Ken


Two great articles in The Guardian yesterday and today.
Todays article which can be found here details how Ken Bates won back control of Leeds without offering the largest bid.
Yesterdays article which can be found here details the impasse which the club now find itself in and poses 20 questions which need to be answered as follows :

1. Why did Leeds collapse into insolvency and administration in the first place, with debts of £35.5m, given that Ken Bates, and his solicitor and fellow Leeds United director Mark Taylor, had said during 2006-07 that the club would be in a dramatically better financial position once the season was over and the contracts of high-earning players would come to an end?
2. How did Leeds come to owe £17.7m to three offshore companies, Astor Investment Holdings (registered in the British Virgin Islands), Krato Trust (Nevis Island, the West Indies), and the owner of the club, Forward Sports Fund (the Cayman Islands), and how did the club spend that money? Why was KPMG in such a hurry to sell Leeds United immediately back to the new company, which is also owned
3. Why was KPMG in such a hurry to sell Leeds United immediately back to the new company, which is also owned by the Forward Sports Fund and chaired by Bates, for 1p in the pound, when the administrators of other clubs have spent months running clubs and publicly seeking the best possible deal for creditors?
4. Who are the owners or beneficiaries of the Forward Sports Fund, Astor Investment Holdings and Krato Trust, and why have they chosen to register their companies in offshore tax havens where they are not legally required to declare their identity?
5. If Leeds United's owners are the anonymous people behind the Forward Sports Fund, how can the Football League be satisfied they pass its "fit and proper person test"?
6. Why have Astor and Krato agreed to waive any repayment of their huge debts so long as the club was re-sold to Forward and Bates, arguing, according to Taylor, that they had faith in the management of the club?
7. Leeds United's 2006 accounts stated that Astor did have "an interest" in the Forward Sports Fund, then at the creditors meeting on June 1, Taylor stated that the interest had been severed last December. How was this done, why, and what evidence was given of it to KPMG?
8. Why was the previous connection between Astor and Forward not mentioned in KPMG's first report to creditors, nor any explanation given of how the connection had been severed?
9. The 2006 accounts also stated that Patrick Murrin, the former Guernsey accountant, Chelsea director and representative of the large, anonymous offshore shareholding in Chelsea during Bates' time in charge, had "an interest" in the Forward Sports Fund. What is Murrin's interest in Forward?
10. The 2006 accounts stated that a company of which Murrin is a shareholder, Rivoli Limited, also registered in Nevis Island, had been paid £186,000 in "consultancy costs" during the year. What consultancy services did Murrin, and Rivoli Ltd, provide to Leeds United Football Club during 2005-06?
11. Why did KPMG allow Forward's and Bates' new company to receive the money for Leeds United season tickets - the company agreeing to refund the money if the club went bust - even though the company has not, still, been granted Football League membership, in apparent contravention of FA rules?
12. How has the money, around £4m, received from the 10,000 season tickets which the club say they have sold to their long-suffering fans, been used?
13. KPMG says it did "extensive work" to verify the claims of money owed to Leeds United creditors, while HM Revenue and Customs challenged the CVA, which narrowly approved the first sale, on the grounds of "material irregularities", arguing partly with the levels of debt claimed. So how much investigation did KPMG carry out into the club's debts?
14. Why did the club owe their own company Yorkshire Radio, of which Bates and Taylor are also directors, £480,000, and why was this debt first revealed only in the final voting at the creditors meeting, not in the initial statement of debts issued by KPMG?
15. When KPMG responded to HMRC's legal challenge to the CVA by announcing it was selling the club again, this time without going through a CVA, why did it give bidders less than three working days to make their offers, and no access to detailed financial information?
16. On what basis did Bates and Forward win the bid for the club the second time, and how did their offer beat those of other bidders, and why did KPMG agree to sell the club without being satisfied that the League would grant this company the "golden share" membership of the League?
17. Why has Forward's and Bates' new company not paid the players for the month of June?
18. What did KPMG actually sell to Forward's and Bates' new company if, as the League insists, players' registrations remain with the old company until any new company is awarded the "golden share"?
19. Why have Bates and Taylor apparently not yet obtained the permission of a court to act as directors of the new Leeds United Football Club Ltd, as required by s216 of the Insolvency Act, because both were directors of a company with the same name, which went into liquidation last year?
20. Why should the Football League make an exception for Leeds and grant Forward's and Bates' new company its "golden share" of membership despite the purchase not having been done via a CVA, given that the League has insisted on the CVA process for all 41 of its other clubs which have fallen into insolvency since 1992?
What a mess this whole process has become. How was Bates allowed to take control again given that there should have been some very serious questions about the fit and proper person test? Meanwhile long suffering Leeds fans wait to see whether or not they have a club that will be allowed to play in League 1 this season. Given how long this has dragged on I suspect that even if we are allowed to take part we will be facing another long hard battle against relegation.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fans lay flowers at Elland Road

Leeds fans have been laying flowers, scarves and shirts around Billy Bremner's statue at Elland Road as the chaos which surrounds the club continues. Players have apparently not yet been paid for June and there is no certainty as to whether or not the club will be granted the golden share for League One and so be allowed to start the season which begins on 11th August!

The fans are understandably frustrated at this latest twist in a saga which has frankly been running for five years. We are now waiting for the outcome of talks which are supposed to be taking place between the PFA, The Football League, KPMG and Leeds United. This is no doubt further complicated by the fact that Leeds United appears to currently go under two incarnations at present one the old club that went into administration and appears to hold the players registrations and the other Leeds United 2007 which claims to have bought the club through the administrators.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A wet weekend

My blogging activity has been fairly quiet of late and I suspect it is likely to continue that way for some time now after a torrent of water passed through my house on Friday afternoon. Pictures below

Inside the house as the washing machine and freezer start to drown

The garden floats away

View from the front door

The adjacent railway line - hence all the problems between Reading and Newbury on Friday. Still only two rooms still have water above the floorboards (all the rooms still have plenty of water below the floorboards). The power is mostly ok and I have finally got an intenet connection. The insurers have been contacted and seem very efficient but I suspect the building work will take a very long time.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Commercial demands and our heritage

I do not know how this abomination came about but I would suggest that someone needs to look at how they fulfil their role properly.

A giant doughnut-brandishing Homer Simpson has been painted onto the hillside above Cerne Abbas next to the giant. Apparently this is a publicity stunt to promote the Simpsons movie which is due to be released later this month.

Either the people who did this got permission in which case I would suggest that whoever granted permission should take a step back and think about how best to protect our heritage or they did not in which case they need to be caught and prosecuted.

From Wikipedia

The Cerne Abbas giant is a hill figure of a giant naked man on a hillside near the village of Cerne Abbas to the north of Dorchester in Dorset, England. The 55 metre (180 feet) high, 51 metres (167 feet) wide figure is carved into the side of a steep hill and is best viewed from the opposite side of the valley or from the air. The carving is formed by a trench 30cm (1 foot) wide and about the same depth which has been cut through the grass and earth into the underlying chalk. In his right hand the giant holds a knobbed club 36.5 metres (120 feet) long.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sums it up


Ken Bates has control of Leeds United again according to the BBC here and The Guardian here.
Apparently both Adam Pearson and Revenues and Customs are both still considering their positions so the possibility of further legal challenges cannot be ruled out!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Rumour, rumour, rumour

Well deadline day has come and gone. Bids had to be in by 5pm in Monday and supposedly there should have been an announcement on Tuesday. KPMG have delayed and rumours abound. Ken Bates has a bid on the table. That is the one thing that is a racing certainty. Rumour has that there were two or three other bids. However it is not clear whether or not this is bids or bidders. Redbus plus Morris could be two bidders with one bid or two bidders with two bids. Pearson and Wilkinson are rumoured to be another bid.

The best rumour so far is that another consortium has put a bid in for Leeds and have promised to pay off all debts thereby removing the possibility of legal action and have also promised funds for the day to day running of the club. The suggestion is that they will provide £20m and an announcement will be made (possibly tomorrow) once KPMG has proof of funds. If so you heard it here first!!

Exits nerves shattered clutching straw firmly.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Deadline day


A number of potential owners have until 5pm today to submit a bid for Leeds. As I understand it KPMG effectively have control of the club and will sell to the highest bidder today. Some of the potential bidders are complaining that they do not have access to all the information that they need to know in order to submit a bid. The Redbus Group have complained that they have “not been told what has been generated from season-ticket sales or from Kevin Nicholls's move to Preston North End.”

There are also rumours that Redbus might link up with the consortium led by Simon Morris to make a joint bid.

Another potential bidder to resurface is the former Hull City owners Peter Wilkinson and Adam Pearson ( a former Leeds United commercial director). They have disposed of their interest in Hull so might be interested in bidding for Leeds.

Ken Bates has resubmitted his original offer and is apparently threatening legal action if he is not in charge of the club at 5pm today. He was quoted as saying "Our bid is the original deal that was done in the meeting of creditors when we placed the Company Voluntary Agreement on June 1. We believe in fact our offer is valid. Therefore it should be the only one to be accepted. So there's a problem and a possibility that if the administrator goes down another route then there could be further legal battles."

Looks as if we are damned either way.

Either we are doomed to continue with Ken Bates under UK insolvency laws which clearly need a long hard look at and some reform or alternatively we face the possibility of a new consortium taking charge and having its hands tied whilst legal action continues in the courts.

Either way the chances of having a proper squad assembled and fit and ready for day one of the season have already gone by the board. I fully expect us to continue to struggle in League One at least initially and if things carry on in this manner off the pitch then a long hard relegation battle is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Will we survive??


It is hard top take in the latest twists and turns in the saga of Leeds United. Revenue and Customs waited until the final hour before launching a challenge to Bates plan to take the club out of administration. This despite a last ditch effort by Bates to prevent a challenge by upping his offer from 1p in the pound to 8p in the pound.
The High Court case has apparently been adjourned until September and Leeds are supposed to kick off the season on 11th August and KPMG (the administrators) have said that unless the club was able to leave administration, the Football League may not let it start the season
It appears that the CVA has been cancelled hence the delay to the Customs and Revenue Court case. Therefore KPMG are now responsible for running the club until either a new owner can be found or the club is put into liquidation.
They have set a deadline of 5pm Monday for bidders to come forward. I assume this is so that they can present information to a Football League meeting convened for Wednesday of next week. Somehow I assume that Bates will still end up as the highest bidder or will to contest any outcome that does not end up with him in control of the club and if so the saga will end up back in court again!!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Constitution approved

According to the BBC the Constitution Drafting Assembly has approved the final draft of Thailand's new constitution to go forward to a national referendum on 19th August. There will be huge campaigns on both sides to convince the electorate to vote yes or no. Former members of Thai Rak Thai see this as a backward step and as an anti Thaksin constitution.

The new 309 article charter limits the prime minister's term to eight years and makes it easier to launch impeachment proceedings. It will also prevent the Prime Minister from holding major stakes in media companies and extends financial disclosure rules to the entire Cabinet and Parliament.

Parliament itself will be slightly smaller. Seats in the House of Representatives are reduced from 500 to 480 and in the Senate from 200 to 150. However nearly half of the senate members will be appointed by a special committee rather than being elected!

The government appears to be threatening that there will be no elections unless the referendum approves the constitution (logical I guess). According to The Nation the Defence Minister Boonrawd Somtas said "The general election can take place only if the new constitution passes the referendum, otherwise political turmoil will never end."

Friday, June 15, 2007

The soap opera continues

The soap opera that is Leeds United continues. I don't normally believe in politicians intervening in sporting matters and I would not normally be supportive of a Lib Dem MP who was critical of my own team. However, you can see here what I think of our insolvency laws and the current goings on at Elland Road.

Now Lib Dem MP Phil Willis has laid down an early day motion in the House of Commons which according to yesterdays Guardian "urges law-enforcement agencies to mount inquiries, calls for greater transparency in the ownership of football clubs and urges HM Revenue and Customs to challenge in court the conduct of the administrators of Leeds United."

Meanwhile according to the Guardian sportsblog "aggrieved creditors have 28 days to challenge a company voluntary arrangement which settles an administration, and several creditors of Leeds United are understood to be taking legal advice about whether to do so. Several avenues are being investigated, one of which is to contest the FA and League's football creditors policy, which requires all money owed to those in the game, including players and other clubs, to be paid in full, while at Leeds the other creditors, which include schools, hospitals, the police, ambulance service and St John Ambulance, are to be paid just 1p in the pound."

Leeds also escaped a potential 10 point deduction by going into administration before the final game of the season when it had become clear that they were almost certainly relegated in any case. The Football League has closed that particular loophole. From next season any club that goes into administration after the fourth Thursday in March will have their 10 point deduction suspended. If they are subsequently relegated then the points will be deducted from the start of next season. If they stay up then the 10 points will be taken off their final total for the current season as a consequence of which they may then be relegated.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Thaksin update

The Thai authorities have frozen assets belonging to Thaksin Shinawatra. The committee which has been investigating claims of corruption has ordered accounts worth about £830m to be frozen.

It would appear from this report here that this action may have an impact on the proposed takeover of Manchester City. Thaksin's people were supposed to be performing due diligence on the proposed takeover but now Man City are asking questions about the impact of his assets in Thailand being frozen.

Now the military government have stated that Thaksin Shinawatra is free to return to Thailand in order to pursue a legal challenge against the freezing of his assets. Indeed the current Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont has said that he would personally guarantee Thaksin Shinawatra's safety if he did return to Thailand. Apparently he has been given sixty days in which to return and make a legal challenge for the return of his assets

This is an interesting development. He has been banned from all political activity for five years and his political party Thai Rak Thai has been dissolved. Until now the line taken by the military government is that they do not want him to return until after elections (originally scheduled for October) which are supposedly going to take place in December.

Now the government appears to be backing Thaksin Shinawatra into a corner – effectively forcing him to return to reclaim his assets. There are already demonstrations against the military government in general and the dissolution of Thai Rak Thai in particular. Thaksin’s presence in the country would seem to be likely to add to such demonstrations and increase the potential for serious civil disorder.

Being cynical one might think that the military government would have encouraged him to withdraw his assets from Thailand and then claimed this as evidence of “guilt”. Maybe they attempted to do this and he refused to be drawn into acting in this way.

Either way one has to conclude that the military government is deliberately attempting to bring matters to a head. Sadly I suspect that this means that the government feels that it now has sufficient control over the military units to ensure that it can crack down hard on demonstrations if it feels the need to do so!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Zero emission homes





According to the BBC the first zero emission home has been unveiled. This two bedroom house (see above) is insulated to lose 60% less heat than a normal home. It also features solar panels, a biomass boiler and water efficiency devices such as rainwater harvesting.
According to the report "The home generates all its own energy - and when you're away on holiday can send electricity back to the National Grid. The company says its annual energy bill would be £31, as compared to £500 for the standard new home of this size."
This is all great news but I guess the important thing is how quickly this sort of design and technology get incorporated into all new homes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A new twist to blue on blue

According to The Guardian the US is currently arming Sunni dissidents in Iraq. Apparently "Arms, ammunition, body armour and other equipment, as well as cash, pick-up trucks and fuel, have already been handed over in return for promises to turn on al-Qaida and not attack US troops". Whether or not such promises extend to British troops is not clear and frankly from the tone of the article there seems to be a fair amount of scepticism as to whether or not the Sunni dissidents can be relied upon to hold to their promise. American forces already have quite a reputation for so called "Blue on Blue" incidents otherwise known as friendly fire - blue being the friendly forces and red being the enemy forces. I guess this will lead to cases of purple on blue where US forces will be killed and injured by enemy combatants firing bullets supplied by the US. And we wonder why we are so mired in Iraq!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ban on political activities partially lifted

According to the BBC the ban on political activities by parties in Thailand has been lifted.

Obviously this will not include Thai Rak Thai which has been dissolved by order of the Constitutional Tribunal.

However, according to the Bangkok Post this is only a partial lifting of the restrictions stating that "the cabinet agreed to partially lift the Council for Democratic Reform's Announcement No 15 and allow political parties to be meet and act, with immediate effect"

This addresses section 1 of Announcement number 15. However it does not address the issue of the setting up and registration of new political parties (section 2 of Announcement number 15) and given the dissolution of Thai Rak Thai there is likely to be significant demand for at least one new party. Apparently this will be addressed by the Council of State who are to look at a a bill to "modify section 2 of the announcement". The critical word here would seem to be modify. If there were to be no ban on new political parties then section 2 could just be lifted and the implication of the need to modify it is that this is not to be the case!

Monday, June 04, 2007

The madness of our insolvency laws

So Ken Bates rules supreme at Elland Road once again. According to the BBC Ken Bates put the club into administration with debts of £35m. He needed 75% of creditors votes to buy the club back and after a recount got 75.2% of the creditors to back his plan which gives them just 1p in the £1. Superficially one might say all well and good but there are a lot of other factors at play here.

At the creditors meeting there were 6 bids in total 5 from UK bidders and one from the USA.

However two of the creditors (Astor Group and Krato Trust) would only support the Bates bid and held enough votes to defeat any other bid. Neither the administrators nor the solicitors know the identities of the beneficial owners of the Astor Group. Apparently Astor loaned the club £12.1m less than a couple of months ago shortly after they had served a final demand for £5m. This increased the debt and (coincidentally) increased their share in the voting process to such an extent that they would be in a position to dictate the eventual outcome

One of the bids would have returned 18p in the £ to creditors and yet a deal which returned only 1p in the £ was pushed through by groups which (allegedly) have no links to Bates!!

The law needs reforming so that the administrators make the decision about what represents the best deal for the creditors. It looks as if the system has been abused here and a lot of creditors are considerably worse off as a result.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Vote for sex


I guess this is one of my favourite political slogans ever. I would not normally promote a campaign by a Tory candidate but this one by Mr Forse who is standing for a seat on New Forest District Council is certainly causing a stir Apparently this is a delayed poll from the May elections caused by the death of one of the candidates. The strap line across the bottom of his leaflets as shown in the picture above (VOTE FORSE X) has and probably will continue to be misinterpreted! Full story here on Sky News.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Thai Rak Thai dissolved

The Constitutional Tribunal has banned Thaksin Shinawatra and 110 other Thai Rak Thai officials from political office for five years. They have also ordered the party to be dissolved after it was found guilty of violating electoral laws. Apparently thousands of troops are on the streets of Bangkok in case of unrest and one former Thai Rak Thai deputy had threatened to mobilise thousands of protesters.

The caretaker leader of Thai Rak Thai Chaturon Chaisang said last night that the verdict was "highly unexpected", and expressed his worry over "setbacks" towards the development of democracy in Thailand. He called upon the party's 14 million supporters to respect the verdicts, and not protest.

However, according to The Nation he then vowed to fight on and said that "the verdicts proved that he who controlled the state power could make anything right". He said "the public would not accept the verdicts". "This is not acceptable. The country is now ruled under dictatorship."

According to the report in The Nation he continued his verbal attacks before his speech was take over by a newscaster!!

State censorship will not solve this problem. Even if Thai Rak Thai is successfully and peacefully disbanded the ideas that were central to the philosophy of Thai Rak Thai will find a home in another (probably new) party and I suspect that this is the real problem which will not go away when and if further elections are held.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

B52 sabotagers acquitted


Fascinating that two men who broke into an RAF base to sabotage US B-52 bombers by clogging their engines with nuts and bolts were acquitted after arguing that they were acting to prevent war crimes in Iraq despite the judge instructing the jury to ignore the wider issues relating to Britain's decision to go to war.
According to The Guardian here the two men argued that they were attempting to disable the B52 bombers in order to prevent them from taking part in attacks on Iraq and in order to prevent war crimes and loss of life and property in Iraq. Specifically they argued that war crimes would be committed because the B52s carried cluster weapons which would scatter unexploded bomblets which would kill and injure civilians. They also argued that the aircraft were carrying bombs tipped with depleted uranium that would spread radioactivity.
This seems to be a fascinating precedent and I wonder where this will leave future legal actions against say protesters at Aldermaston or those who wish to clamber all over coal fired power stations to prevent global warming?

Monday, May 21, 2007

The death of a grand old lady


A sad day today as the Cutty Sark (one of the most famous landmarks in London) goes up in flames. I remember visiting the Cutty Sark as a small child and being totally in awe of this vast ship - it must have seemed a lot bigger to a small child I guess but it is a sad day to hear the BBC Radio commentator referring to a charred and burnt out hulk. I suspect the Heritage Lottery Fund (or whatever they are called this week) will be receiving an application for funds to restore this grand old lady.
  • She is the most famous ship in the world
  • She is the epitome of the great age of sail
  • She is the only surviving extreme clipper, and the only tea clipper still in existence.
  • Most of her hull fabric survives from her original construction and she is the best example of a merchant composite construction vessel.
  • She has captured the imagination of millions of people, 15 million of whom have come on board to learn the stories she has to tell.
  • She was preserved in Greenwich partly as a memorial to the men of the merchant navy, particularly those who lost their lives in the world wars.
  • She is one of the great sights of London.

Statement of Significance

  • She is the world’s sole surviving extreme clipper, a type of vessel that was the highest development of the fast commercial sailing ship, with the majority of her hull fabric surviving from her original construction.
  • She is internationally appreciated for her beauty and is one of the most famous ships in the world.
  • Her fine lines – a considerable part of her appeal – are defined by her frames which form part of the vessel’s composite construction; a construction technique of which she is the best surviving example and of which she is of exceptional quality.
  • She has captured the imagination of millions of people, 15 million of whom have come on board to learn the stories she has to tell.
  • She is a gateway to the World Heritage Site at Greenwich and is a key asset to both the World Heritage Site and the Borough of Greenwich.
  • As a tea clipper, she is tangible evidence of the importance of tea in 19th century trade and cultural life.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A bad week

On so many fronts the last week has not been good news.

The local election results were not good across the country although undoubtedly they varied a lot from area to area. Some areas posted good or steady results whilst other lost ground.

I have been helping in West Berkshire and Portsmouth. The results in West Berkshire were disappointing although we retained control of both Newbury and Thatcham Town Councils. Better news in Portsmouth where we gained one and lost one and where our leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson held his seat after a very strong and determined effort by the Tories to oust him.

If a week is a long time in politics then a week is a very long time in Football - particularly if you are a Leeds fan. Just over a week ago Leeds were 1-0 up against Ipswich and heading towards 48 points and the possibility of today's game against Derby being a meaningful encounter. Then Ipswich equalised and a pitch invasion and FA investigation followed.

In the immediate aftermath it became obvious that we were effectively relegated to league one baring some form of miracle today. Last Monday Ken Bates told Yorkshire Radio that support shown for Leeds over the last 48 hours was "beyond my wildest expectations". By Friday Leeds had called in the administrators, suffered a ten point reduction and been formally relegated to League One.

Meanwhile there is a rumour a minute as to what the future of the club will be in terms of new owners. Apparently Mr Bates wants to buy the club back from the administrators and has set up a new company called something like Leeds United 2007 for the express purpose of doing so! I am not sure where the fit and proper person test fits into all of this but perhaps it should!

Apparently Gary Kelly and an Irish consortium are interested in purchasing the club. So are some Russians. Oh and some Americans as well. And a consortium headed up by Duncan Revie the son of the former Leeds United manager Don Revie. Also according to the BBC The Leeds United's Supporters Trust says it is in a position to make a proposal to buy the club. These are just the rumours I have heard and doubtless there are many more to come

The only positive point to emerge from this whole debacle is the fact that at least the ten point deduction applied to the current season and not the next one.

I suspect that we are in for a long summer whilst the long suffering fans wait for a whole host of issues to be resolved. Even if we have new owners we have no clue as to who the manager will be and which players will be leaving and which players will be arriving. Either way I expect wholesale changes to the team before we begin life in League One

Monday, April 30, 2007

The fat lady has sung



At least barring some miracle whereby Leeds win by about 5 clear goals at Derby and Hull lose by a similar margin. Failing that Leeds will begin next season in League 1 (or Division 3 to the rest of us). Leeds have never been outside the top two tiers of English football and to think a few years ago we were playing in the Champions League semi final. Yes Mr Ridsdale we lived the dream and look where we are now. To be fair there are plenty of others along the way who need to take some responsibility for the situation we now find ourselves in given that as recently as a year ago we were in the play off final and within 90 minutes of a return to the Premiership

I will try to get back to more regular blogging following the local elections next Thursday but no promises as life has been somewhat frantic to say the least.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Interesting reason for standing

I would not have thought this worth blogging about normally were it not for the reason that this lady gave for standing. West Berkshire has not normally had the BNP contesting seats but this time two BNP candidates have put up in Thatcham North. Then the Newbury Weekly News published this article outlining why one of the candidates had decided to stand for the BNP.

Apparently she "decided that enough was enough recently when her grandson came home from school after a citizenship lesson and said that he was learning about other religions."

I guess I always thought that that was what schools were for - education about things that our kids would not know about otherwise.

I tried to follow her line of reasoning to its logical conclusion.

Languages - French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin will no longer be on the syllabus - English only please.

History - well ok providing it is only British history

Geography - ditto

Politics - ditto

Art - ditto

Home Economics might survive I guess just so long as there are no foreign foods or recipes on the Food and Nutrition part!

I assume that Maths, IT, the Sciences and Design Technology would survive, but Latin and Greek and their associated history will I assume be just that - History

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Leeds update

Ahead of today's vital clash with Burnley comes news that David Healy has been appointed as the Leeds United captain until the end of the season following the suspension of Jonathan Douglas.

That news was immediately followed by speculation that Fulhams new manager Lawrie Sanchez has put David Healy at the top of his list of transfer targets after the job he has done for him in the Northern Ireland team. If we stay up I hope that we manage to keep him and learn how to make the best use of his undoubted skills. If we go down then I am sure he will depart and it is just a question of how large a fee we can get for him.

Friday, April 13, 2007

First it was Royal Bank now it is HSBC

What is it with the banks in this country. It used to be that banks treated their staff and customers with respect and courtesy. Not any more it seems.

A couple of weeks ago the Royal Bank of Scotland threatened its staff with disciplinary action if they did not have their primary bank account with the Royal Bank of Scotland. I followed this up with my local branch who had not heard the story and attempted valiantly to get me a response from their headquarters. The kept me in touch and promised a written response from their headquarters. Sadly to date I have not received any communication explaining their position. Two fingers to me I guess my accounts and business are not worth keeping!

So should I move my account elsewhere?

Well I am seriously considering it despite the inconvenience involved but I won't be going to HSBC. According to yesterdays Guardian one of their branches has now decided that only customers with £50,000 or more in savings, a hefty mortgage or a salary of at least £75,000 are to be allowed to talk to staff. If you do not meet this criteria and want to be served personally or make an inquiry then you will have to go to another branch.

Banks seem to have lost the concept of customer service and perhaps they are also losing site of one of the basic economic equations involved in Banking. There are some who have money and leave it in the bank, there are some who need money and borrow it from the bank, the difference between the two interest rates covers the banks costs and provides its profit!