Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Greens Take Hotwells Ward to Become Biggest Party on Bristol Council

February 3, 2023

Yesterday there was a local election for the ward of Hotwells and Harbourside in Bristol. I had an invitation from the local Labour party to help them campaign for it, but circumstances prevented me from physically going and I do not believe in phone banking. Anyway, the results are in. It was won by the Green party, who took it from the Lib Dems by 26 seats. This is quite ironic, as in the last election the Lib Dems only won that ward by the same number. This victory now makes the Greens the largest party in the council, though I gather that none of them have an overall majority.

Hotwells is one of the city’s historic districts on the banks of the Avon running through the city, and where Bristol’s harbour was before it was abandoned in the 70s and the port moved to its present location at Avonmouth. It’s a mixture of retail, office and residential buildings, including some dating from the 18th and 19th centuries when it, along with Clifton, were the city’s spa districts. Some of the housing is very modern and upmarket, while there are also a couple of 60s/70s brutalist tower blocks. It’s also the location for one of Bristol’s private schools, Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital. It’s population also includes lecturers and academics from Bristol university, which is literally just up the road in Clifton. Just across the river are a couple of converted tobacco bonds, one of which now houses the city’s archives while another is, or was, the site of a green technology centre.

Bristol is quite a green city. Under the Labour mayor, Marvin Rees, the local authority’s put in a number of new cycle lanes and in that part of the city you do see people pedalling away, including women with their children in trailers behind them. The council has also announced other plans for developing a local green economy, including a clean air zone which has caused controversy in recent weeks because of the way it affects traffic.

Bristol Live reported that the new councillor, ‘ 24-year-old Cllr McAllister, who works in legal services, said his party was now preparing to take power in Bristol.

He said: “Successive Conservative-led governments and our Labour-run council have left our residents feeling frustrated — whether it’s through botched consultations on new developments, repair works to public throughways going on for years, the cladding crisis, or even threatening to take away our library.

“There’s never been a more vital time to speak up for our communities, and that is exactly what I’m going to do from now on. The Green Party is now the biggest group in the council, with 25 councillors, and I recognise the weight of that responsibility. As a team we are putting together our programme so we are ready to run this city from next year.

“In the meantime, I think that the city council’s current leadership has a responsibility as well — they have to now recognise the mandate that the Green Party has. I’m really looking forward to getting on with the job and representing this amazing community with the commitment and enthusiasm that it deserves.”’

See: https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/greens-win-bristol-election-race-8106783

He undoubtedly has a point about local service. Roadworks with the attendant diversions have been going on in Temple Meads for many years now, as well as in the rest of the city. And the council is considering closing Bristol Central Library and moving it to another location. Rees has also made decisions that make little sense, and have ignored the wishes and opinions of local people. The city wishes to build a new, top-level stadium. The ideal location would be Temple Meads, because it’s the site of the railway station and is a very short drive from the motorway. Rees decided against that, ruling instead that it should be build in Patchway, a district miles away in the north of Bristol. He also upset the local people in Hengrove and Whitchurch in his plans for the redevelopment of Hengrove Park. This was to be the site of new housing, but locals objected because there were too many homes planned and no amenities. They voiced their complaints to Rees, who politely met them. They also submitted them, and their alternative plans, to the relevant supervisory authority, who ruled in the favour. But Rees ignored them, and bulldozed his plans through.

But some of those 26 voters may also have been swayed by national issues. I’ve got very strong reservations about the Greens’ social policies. I’ve got the impression they’re very woke. It was the Green-led local authority in Brighton and Hove which caused controversy a couple of years ago by teaching Critical Race Theory in its schools. In Bristol, former Green councillor Cleo Lake put forward the motion calling for the payment of reparations for slavery to all ‘Afrikans’. In Scotland, it seems to be the Greens behind the Gender Recognition Act, which would lower the age of consent for children to identify as trans to 16, cut back on the amount of time a transperson would have to live as a member of the sex they wish to transition to. As well as the policy that has seen dangerous biologically male rapists locked away in women’s prisons.

But they also have great economic and welfare policies. As I posted a few days ago, I caught their party political broadcast the other night, and they said all the right things when it came to the NHS and the utilities: they want them renationalised along with a proper welfare state. Brilliant! These are the policies that Jeremy Corbyn put forward in his brilliant manifesto, and which Starmer promised to retain. Until he dumped them during a policy review. A few years ago the Greens were gaining on Labour in Bristol before Corbyn became leader, and I have no doubt that some of that was due to the Blairism of Miliband’s leadership.

The Bristol Live report speculates that the victory could mean trouble for Labour in the local elections here in 2024. That’s a real possibility. Novara Media has put up a video today in which Michael Walker and Dalia Gebreal discuss the failure of the Labour leadership to voice support for the strikers. There has been no messages of support from their front bench and Starmer has been going around sacking those that have stood on picket lines. On the other hand, when asked about this, the local MP for Bristol south, Karin Smyth, said quite rightly that the party still defends the right to strike and gave some reasonable objections to MPs standing with the pickets. But it still looks to me like Starmer not wanting to be seen backing strikers and alienating all the Tory and Lib Dem voters he wants to atract.

The Greens have won by a very narrow majority, which could vanish come 2024. But it’ll be very interesting to see how well they do and how the local Labour party responds to their challenge.

Watchmojo on the Most Evil British Tabloids

January 25, 2023

WatchMojo is a YouTube channel that specialises in lists of the most (insert adjective) of whatever subject they’re covering. This is usually popular culture, like films, TV programmes and comics. But in this video from their British offshoot they delve into the very murky world of British tabloid and red top newspapers to discuss the six worst of them. And so, imagine if you will, this run down of the very worst of British journalism accompanied by the old style Top of the Pops theme as that sadly missed programme went down the music charts.

Coming last at No. 6 is the Daily Star for its coverage of weird paranormal stories like black-eyed ghost children, their libelling of the Liverpool fans at the Hillsborough disaster and getting sued by the McCanns for its malign take on the disappearance of their daughter. They also blamed video games for Raoul Moat’s shooting spree, despite the entire lack of evidence showing that video games are responsible for real world violence, and for making up an interview with Duane ‘the Rock’ Johnson.

Coming in at no. 5, pop-pickers, is the Mirror, showing that it’s also left-wing papers that can have appalling low journalistic standards. This is there because of its owner, Robert Maxwell, raiding his employees’ pension funds, and Piers Morgan publishing fake photographs of alleged atrocities by British troops in Iraq. This part of the video shows some of the other headlines from the paper, such as its ‘Achtung! Surrender’ to the Germans at the 1996 World Cup as other illustrations of its lack of taste and anything resembling decent attitudes.

At No. 4 in this chart of journalistic infamy is the Daily Mail, as illustrated by its article ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’ praising Mosley’s BUF and its owner, Lord Rothermere’s trip to Germany and praise of the Nazi regime. The video also states that it’s been suggested that the paper’s pro-appeasement stance convinced Hitler that Britain would not retaliate if he invaded Poland, thus causing World War II. More recently the paper has also been sued for libel or inaccurate reporting by celebs such as Melania Trump, Alan Sugar and Elton John. The video also shows some of its racist headlines opposing the decolonisation of mathematics and opposition to non-White immigration.

The Daily Express is at No. 3, again because of such low points as being sued by the McCanns, scaremongering stories about the world being wiped out by aliens or killer asteroids, and its weird fixation on conspiracy theories about Princess Diana and her death, often at the expense of more current and important stories. In 2010 its editor said that he was appalled by some of the stories it ran, and was going to reign in its islamophobia.

No. 2, the late, unlamented News of the Screws. This was always controversial, but lasted 150 years, even claiming at one time to be the world’s best newspaper. That was until it was brought down by the phone-tapping scandal, whose victims not only included celebrities, royalty like Princes William and Harry, but also murder victims and dead soldiers. It was forced to fold after all its advertisers deserted it.

But the top slot in this catalogue of filth and sleaze merchants is the Scum. This rag’s viciously low reporting has made it notorious around the world, but what foreign viewers may not know is that it’s particularly hated in Britain for its smearing of the Liverpool fans at Hillsborough, like its fellow tabloid the Depress. Instead of the Liverpool fans being responsible for the carnage, it was found that the police were responsible for the 96 deaths. This anti-Liverpool venom is the reason it’s still banned in the city, despite the paper having made some half-hearted apologies afterwards. It also claimed the Birmingham 6, a group of Irish men wrongly imprisoned for an IRA terrorist atrocity, were guilty. On top of this it was also sued for libel by Wayne Rooney. But what makes it especially hated is its staunch support of Margaret Thatcher, the infamous ‘Gotcha!’ headline for the sinking of the Belgrano during the Falklands War, and its claim that it was responsible for Thatcher’s electoral victories with its headline ‘It was the Scum Wot won it’.

Of course this list leaves out some other instances of tabloid wrongdoing. The Scum has had any number of complaints for racism upheld by the former Press Complaints Commission, including one in which it compared Arabs to pigs. Piers Morgan has also been involved in the phone hacking scandal, though it’s possible the video mentions this and I’ve just forgotten it did. And I’d say the worst British tabloid was the Sport in its various editions for its mixture of sleaze, stories about freaks and daft stories following the Weekly World News style of journalism, like its claim that there was a B52 bomber on the Moon. The Sport was set up by David ‘the Slug’ Sullivan, according to Private Eye, a pornographer with convictions for running girls. But the paper has a low circulation compared to the others here, and so is far less influential.

As for the Scum coming first as Britain’s worst tabloid, I agree entirely, although I doubt this is an accolade the Scum would want to boast about on its front page. But when it comes to malign, biased reporting and racism, it is indeed the Scum wot wins it.

Why Do Right-Wing Men Support Andrew Tate and Tommy Robinson?

January 6, 2023

One of the great commenters on this channel asked me this yesterday. I must say that I really don’t know much about Andrew Tate at all. He seems to be some kind of cult figure on the right, and there were a number of videos put up on YouTube by right-wingers shocked at his conversion to Islam, wondering if it was genuine. I gather also that he’s anti-feminist, but the only other thing I really know about him is that the Romanian police arrested him on charges of enslavement and people trafficking after he got into some kind of spat on Twitter with Greta Thunberg. The right-wing American activist and YouTuber Matt Walsh coincidentally put up a video about this question, ‘Why do young men support Andrew Tate’ on YouTube yesterday. I haven’t watched it, so really don’t know why some men do. My guess is that, to them, he represents traditional masculinity and conservative values against the woke left.

In the case of Tommy Robinson, I think the short answer is that the people that support him are thugs. Robinson used to be a BNP stormtrooper before founding the English Defence League and Pegida UK. He’s got convictions for assault, and his house is actually in his wife’s name because of another conviction for mortgage fraud. There’s a video up on YouTube showing what he’s really like. It’s of him punching and beating someone at a sports match. His method of dealing with critics is to dox them, telling his supporters not to bother that person, and then later taking the video down, so that it doesn’t look like he’s encouraging people to go round and harass them He’s also done this personally to his critics and their families. He turned up at the house of the parents of one of his critics in Cumbria with his horrible mate Avi Yemeni, demanding a word in the early hours of the morning. He also went round banging on the windows and doors of Australian anti-racist and teacher Mike Stuchbery, as well as slandering him as a paedophile. It ended with Stuchbery leaving his job to go to Germany. He also got hit with a heavy legal case after he libelled a Syrian immigrant kid who’d suffered racist bullying at school. Robinson claimed the lad was the bully while interviewing one of the boys responsible for the attack. Robinson got sued for libel, lost, and was ordered to pay substantial damages.

A fair number of his supporters seem to be football hooligans. A few years ago when he was running the English Defence League, their supporters included football casuals, so called because they wore casual clothing looted from the stores they trashed. When he turned up in Bristol, he was supported by the Democratic Football Lads’ Alliance, who might be genuine football fans, but I suspect otherwise. As for respectable Conservative support, I’m not so sure. The Lotus Eaters support him, but talk about him in coded language as ‘the bad man’ in case they get a YouTube ban for doing so. I don’t know if other right-wing web sites support him. I haven’t seen him interviewed by the New Culture Forum, even though they have interviewed History Debunked’s Simon Webb. Possibly this lack of obvious support is because of his violence and criminality, just as many Tories in the 1970s stopped supporting the NF because of it.

Unfortunately, the long official coverup of the grooming gangs has given him ammunition. He’s made a number of videos about them and spoken to their victims, in contrast to some of the police and local authorities that have tried to silence them. He’s thus able to present himself as a lone voice standing against official complicity in these terrible crimes.

I’ve covered Robinson and his wretched followers in a number of blog posts, and the anti-racist, anti-religious extremism organisation, Hope Not Hate, have published a book exposing him and his crimes. My guess is that some men support him for the same reason they support Tate, and that Robinson also represents to them traditional Britain against the Muslim threat. But how much support he has beyond his own milieu I really don’t know.

Lachlan Stuart Defends Women’s Rights Against Trans Ideology at the Left-Wing Labour ‘Expel Me Rally’

December 23, 2022

There’s been a new, serious development in the battle over women’s versus trans rights. Yesterday the Scottish parliament passed their gender recognition act, which lowers the age at which people can declare themselves trans to 16 and further limits the time required to live as a member of the opposite sex and the medical supervision also demanded to make it easier for trans identified people to be officially recognised as members of their declared sex. The issue is enormously controversial. Feminists and other people across the political spectrum have criticised the trans ideology because of the way it impinges on women’s sex based right. The ideology and legislation based on it demands that trans-identified men should be given comprehensive access to women’s spaces, which raises problems for women’s safety, privacy and dignity.

Already some men are claiming to be trans, according to the Scottish Daily Record to get transferred from men’s to women’s prison. According to the Record, these men do precious little to behave like women in jail and when they come out revert to identifying as men. There is also the problem that some of those men are violent sex offenders against women and girls. In Scotland this includes a hulking 6/3” brute who tried to indecently assault a 12 year old girl in a public toilet. Black American anti-trans YouTuber Karen Davis has pointed to 50 to 60 per cent of incarcerated transwomen being there for sex offences. She put up a post the day before yesterday commenting on a report that an American female prison officer is suffering from PTSD thanks to being ordered to monitor a trans-identified man on suicide watch, even when he relieved himself or masturbated. This brought back personal memories of sexual abuse. From the newspaper account, the woman was a conscientious officer serving in a women’s prison. She had absolutely no problem watching the female inmates at risk from suicide, self-harm or banging their heads. The prisoner in this case demanded that female officers were part of the team watching him.

I do feel that he did so deliberately to cause upset to the female officers. Way back in the 1980s I read a piece about the cons in male prisons, who masturbated in front of female officer. They were nicknamed ‘gunslingers’ and there seemed no way to stop them doing it. Not even making them wear pink prison uniformed helped. The laws allowing transwomen into the female estate was clearly passed with the best of intentions. I can easily imagine that men’s prisons, for unaggressive, feminine men, let alone those who genuinely identify as women, would be hell. But I feel that very evil, predatory male offenders are abusing it to gain access to vulnerable women.

There are similar questions over hospital care, particular women requiring intimate treatment and would naturally prefer that this is done by someone of their own sex. It is also a problem in sports and sports changing rooms. One of the complaints by Lia Thomas’ teammates was that he was persistently naked in front of them, leading to their obvious embarrassment and discomfiture. Some women are also required by their religion not to be seen by men in an undressed state. Kelly-Jay Keen and her people from Standing For Women held a rally at the open air swimming baths in Hampshire. There were three such baths. One was for men only, another for women only and a third that was mixed sex. The women’s baths had open up to transwomen and this posed a problem for Orthodox Jewish and Muslim women, who could not share it with men, even those who identified as women.

I gather that the passage of the law resulted in angry scenes at the Scots parliament. One irate feminist lifted her skirt to reveal her private parts. A petition has been started to repeal or amend the new act. There is also the question how it will be received by the Westminster parliament and whether Rishi Sunak will overrule it. And if he does, what will this do to the UK? There are theories that Sturgeon is using the act to widen the divide between Scotland and the rest of the UK as part of her independence campaign.

There are also deep implications for the political parties. It’s an issue that crosses the political divide, but conservative activists like the American YouTuber Matt Walsh consistently misrepresent opposition to gender ideology as coming solely from the right. The EDIJester, however, put up a video about it yesterday stating that he has no confidence in Sunak to combat the act and the advance of the trans ideology. He states that if Sunak doesn’t overrule it, then critics of the gender ideology will have to look to founding separate political parties.

Kelly-Jay Keen has already taken a step in that direction with her decision to stand against Keir Starmer under the Standing For Women banner at the next election. Starmer has fully embraced the trans ideology, which has led to several awkward scenes. When asked whether women have cervixes, he replied that it wasn’t a question that should be asked. Other senior MPs have dodged answering the simple question ‘What is a woman?’ Keen was originally going to stand against Eddie Izzard if he got selected as the Labour candidate for Sheffield, This didn’t happen, and so she’s decided to go after Starmer. She particularly feels that Labour under him has betrayed women. At the last Labour conference, trans activists were allowed a platform, but the LGB Alliance, which campaigns exclusively on gay issues but not trans, was excluded from having a place.

This is why I’m putting up this video of Labour policy-maker and gay rights activist Lachlan Stuart speaking at the 2020 ‘Expel Me’ rally. Stuart was a member of Corbyn’s team that included comprehensive support for trans rights in the manifesto. After the election, which he thinks gave people like him enough rope to hang themselves, he went back and reconsidered his opinions. He has now reversed them because of the above issues of women’s privacy, particularly regarding medical care. He states he is haunted by the idea of his mother being examined for cervical cancer by a man. He states that his research uncovered numerous cases where women were abused or disadvantaged by the policy. He was also very concerned at the way the treatment for people with problems with their gender identity only seemed to go in one direction – to transition. He also makes it clear that when he dug into the issue, he found a network of lobby groups and the persecution of doctors and other health professionals who dared to challenge the ideology.

Stuart was a member of the gay rights movement and the solidarity campaign between gays and miners back in the 1980s. He describes campaign against Thatcher’s Clause 28, which sought to ban the promotion of homosexuality in schools. Considering Thatcher’s own association with fascists like Chile’s General Pinochet and the outspoken hatred of gays by many Tory MPs, there was a real fear that this would lead to renewed persecution. He talks about the Solidarity with Miners campaign, and urges his audience to watch the British film, Pride. He states that they didn’t no-platform some of the extremely bigoted and homophobic miners, and speaks with real pride about the first cheque his organisation received from a Welsh miners’ union. He also talks about the way trans activists have distorted some of the policies in the manifesto. This was a clause which committed the party to age appropriate and respectful sex education. This is a real issue, as some schools have been pushing teaching children about gender identity at primary school. He also states that the policy was also meant to educate children that violence against women is unacceptable. But the clause has been taken and expanded by the trans rights activists to mean educating children about trans people at any age.

He also talks about the way his new criticism of the trans ideology has resulted him losing friends and support from other organisations and party members. Stonewall backed away, and Dawn Butler stopped taking his calls. But he remains determined to carry on. And if the party don’t like, they can expel him.

This could become an important issue for all parties at the next election. Kelly-Jay Keen intends to use her position as an aspiring MP to get round the ban that councils and other organisations have imposed on her campaigning. A few years ago she paid for the dictionary definition of woman as ‘adult human female’ to be displayed on a billboard in Liverpool. This was taken down on the orders of Liverpool council, which ruled that it was hateful.

Gender critical feminists are unfairly accused of being fascists by the supporters of the trans ideology. This is flat wrong, but there is a real danger that this issue is being exploited by the right and the extreme right. This includes the real fascist outfit Correct, Not Political. They stage counter demonstrations against Drag Queen Story Hour, gay rights marches and environmental, socialist and trade union rallies, along with anything they think is ‘commie’. Their livestreams begin with old footage of Mosley and his Black Shirts marching, in uniform and with the ‘Roman’ salute, all to the Adagio for Strings, as if it was a tragedy these ratbags were rejected by the British working public and rounded up by the government and interned on the Isle of Man. They’ve also posted discussions suggesting they believe in the stupid, noxious and murderous conspiracy theories about Jews and Masons. And unfortunately, one of the places they targeted for a protest was a library near me in south Bristol, which was staging a Drag Queen Story Time.

While I profoundly disagree with the trans ideology, I don’t want to see trans people persecuted. I’ve no doubt the majority are decent people who just want to get on with their lives. But there are fears that ordinary trans and gay people will suffer from a terrible backlash because of the very visible support for the ideology by intolerant activists. I don’t doubt that if they had their way, for example, Correct, Not Political would round up trans people and gays for imprisonment. There are signs that might be happening in America because of the controversy over Drag Queen Story Hour. I came across a report on YouTube that a Democrat politician in New York, who supports it and went to a drag show, had his offices and home vandalised with accusations that he was a ‘pedo’ and a ‘groomer’.

We need to keep this debate well out of the hands of the far right. And there is obviously a place in it for left-wing activists, because people like Stuart are serious when they state that they tried to reconcile their new opposition to trans ideology with support for them as a minority. Quite apart from the absolute need to protect ordinary, decent people from victimisation and prejudice because of their sexuality or gender identity or expression.

Anti-Trans Activist Kelly-Jay Keen Standing for Women against Keir Starmer at the Next Election

December 17, 2022

A week or so ago Kelly-Jay Keen announced that she intends to stand as a candidate under her ‘Standing for Women’ banner against Keir Starmer at the next election. She had originally said that she would stand against Eddie Izzard if the Labour party selected him as their candidate in Sheffield. Keen is unhappy with drag, viewing as ‘womanface’ comparable to Blackface as an expression of prejudice and hostility towards those it caricatures. She did, however, like Izzard. She admired him as a comedian and had absolutely no problem with him when he identified as a transvestite. She turned against him when he announced that he had gone into ‘girl mode’ and was now a woman, despite being biologically male. She was particularly not impressed with Izzard running a marathon in fake boobs. Izzard lost the selection battle, the winning candidate being someone with a very Muslim name. One of the candidates Izzard was up against was a local, Asian woman, who had been a charity worker as well as a long term activist in the Labour party. It was natural that Sheffield Labour party would chose a local person, who had been active in the constituency for years, rather than an outsider. I don’t think the Asian lady was the successful candidate, but I’m sure the same reasons applied. I think there’s an element of deliberately sticking two fingers up to Starmer in this, as I’ve got a feeling that Izzard was Starmer’s preferred candidate. Now that Izzard is out of the running, Keen is going after Starmer, especially because many women feel betrayed with the Labour party over the trans issue.

Starmer has stated that the Labour party is fully for the trans rights campaign. I got an email from deputy head Angela Rayner and the head of LGBT Labour that if the Labour party was elected, they would outlaw all conversion therapies. This set alarm bells ringing in me. As Gay anti-trans activists like EDIjester and Clive Simpson have pointed out, the sadistic, inhumane and barbarous pseudo-medical practices used to try to turn gay people straight are illegal today. There’s simply no need for it. Modern conversion therapy involves psychiatric or religious counselling, which is voluntary. From American examples, and a brief story about one such in-patient centre in Wales in the ‘In the Back’ column in Private Eye some time ago, this can still be extremely unpleasant, and I don’t blame anyone for wanting to have this treatment very carefully monitored and legislated for.

But the ban on conversion therapy brings its own, anti-gay dangers. The Labour party also wishes to ban conversion therapy for transgender people. This could mean that they desire only the affirmative care model to be used in the treatment of transgender people. This mandates that someone going to the therapist believing that they are in the wrong sexed body should be affirmed in their gender identity and consequently set on a path to transition, complete with puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and finally surgery. Gender transition may be appropriate for some, but it is grossly inappropriate for others. There are issues with the mentally ill and autistic children being incorrectly diagnosed as transgender. Gender-critical gays have also argued that it is being used by homophobic parents to ‘trans the gay away’. This is based on the very high number of gender non-conforming children being brought to the Tavistock centre, who, if left on their own, would probably grow up gay but with a stable personality and identifying with their biological sex.

Keen is particularly concerned with the way the gender ideology is detrimentally affecting women’s sex-based rights. Trans rights activists demand transwomen be identified as real women and so have access to all female-only spaces. This has meant that in Scotland and California violent, biological men have been incarcerated in women’s prisons because they have declared themselves to be trans. The American anti-trans lesbian activist, Arielle Scarcella, recently put up a post about a report in the Scottish Daily Record that most of the men, who were transferred to female prisons claiming they were transgender, made minimal effort to behave in a feminine way and went back to being blokes after they were released. If this is true, then they were obviously lying to get out of being sent to the much tougher male prisons. She also posted about the problem of violent, sexual predators being put in women’s prisons because they identify as female. These are men guilty of rape and child abuse. One of the most notorious of these was 6′ 3” and guilty of assaulting a 12 year old girl in a ladies’ loo. She escaped by whacking him in the happy sacks and running away. These men, it has been alleged, have deliberately arranged to enter women’s prisons so they can terrorise the women there. I’ve no doubt this is true, not because they are trans, but because they are sadistic rapists and predators. They should not be imprisoned with women, or at least, not the general population.

There are similar problems with toilets and changing rooms in schools and sports facilities. In sport particularly, born women feel that they are being robbed of victories and opportunities by men like Lia Thomas, who seem to have opportunistically changed their gender. There are also related issues of dignity and care in medicine, with women being denied treatment by members of their own sex because of the ideology. And so on. Women are particularly vulnerable to the spread of the ideology and the feeling that they are really trans. For many activists and medical personnel critical of the ideology, it’s a psychological contagion like the spread of anorexia and eating disorders in the 1970s. In America, girls as young as 12 have had mastectomies. Some of those, who have transitioned have no come to feel it was wrong, and are detransitioning. Their stories are heartbreaking. One Dutch male detransitioner, who had been left with severe bowel and bladder problems following surgical transition, put up a tearful video last week announcing he was going for medical euthanasia as he could no longer live with these problems.

This is also not an organic movement. It is not grassroots, despite what trans activists claim. It is funded and promoted by big business and particularly the pharmaceutical companies producing the drugs. It is also extremely lucrative for those clinics providing the treatment. And some of the lobby groups in America promoting the ideology have received extensive funding from freedom of speech groups, who in turn are funded by the pornography industry.

This is a movement that demands very close scrutiny, if not to be actively fought. There are gay and trans people actively critiquing and opposing it, like Gays Against Groomers and Trans Against Groomers. But the mainstream gay organisations like Stonewall are actively promoting it, to the exclusion of gay interests. There have been complaints from the gay community that when a delegation was put together for some kind of mission to promote gay rights, it was composed entirely of gay men and transwomen. Lesbians were not represented, despite having suffered the same prejudice and persecution as gay men.

But the Labour party is captured. My local branch in Bristol passed a motion censuring the initial judgement in favour of Keira Bell, which ruled that this young woman had been misled and so damaged through medical treatment involving puberty blockers. The LGBT officer blandly stated that puberty blockers were safe and completely reversible. This has been revealed as untrue. I opposed the motion, and was thanked by some of the women afterwards for doing so, but the motion was passed. Militant trans activists spoke at the Labour party conference. The LGB Alliance, which was formed especially to fight for the rights of gay people against the trans ideology, was denied a place when they applied.

Starmer has said he will back trans rights, and made a public fool of himself by running away from questions about the fundamental nature of womanhood. When asked if women had cervixes, he refused to answer the question and said it was one that shouldn’t be asked. He has also apparently stated that if Labour gets in, legislation will be passed demanding the use of trans people’s preferred pronouns. This is the issue that catapulted conservative ideologue Jordan Peterson into the public limelight. When that legislation was being mooted in Canada – I think it may even have been passed – Peterson stated that he would defy the law. He also made it clear that if a student in his class was transgender, he would of course do them the courtesy of using their preferred pronouns.

Keen does not expect to win, but she intends to use the opportunity to raise questions and promote her cause, not just against Starmer but all politicians supporting the trans ideology. She has had a problem with advertising in the past. When she paid for a billboard in Liverpool to show the dictionary definition of woman as ‘adult human female’, which is the common sense definition, the local council banned it as hate speech. But if she registers as a political candidate, it will be impossible for councils to do this as censuring free speech and political debate.

I don’t think she’ll win, as she herself admits. The election is still some way off yet, and she intends to do more foreign tours to places like Canada, Australia and New Zealand first. But it should make for a very interesting election.

Here’s the video in which she announces her intention to stand against Starmer

Sketch of Legendary Blue Peter Presenter, John Noakes and Shep

December 6, 2022

Here’s a sketch of another one of my favourite children’s TV presenters. In this case, it’s John Noakes and his friend, Shep. Noakes and Shep are best known from Blue Peter, where they appeared with Peter Purvis and Lesley Judd, as well as Valerie Singleton. During his time on the programme, Noakes did some daring stunts, like skydiving and climbing up Nelson’s column to give it a clean. The top part of the column projects out, so at one point he’s climbing up the ladder as it is inclined away from the monument. They showed a clip of him doing this a few years ago, and it’s one of those pieces of television you can hardly watch, as you can all too clearly imagine him falling to his death a hundred-odd feet below. Fortunately, he didn’t, and clearly had nerves of steel. But if something could go wrong in the studio, it would happen to Noakes as the incident with the elephant showed. That was an edition in which they brought a baby elephant into the studio. This pachyderm had a mind of her own, and although not an adult it was definitely a bit too strong for its keeper. Instead of him leading it, at various points it was dragging him along as he held on tight to its lead. It relieved its bladder and bowels on the floor, someone stepped in it, and it trod on Noake’s foot. This has become something of a highlight in broadcasting history, and every so often it gets trotted out and shown on some of the shows devoted to great disasters and mistakes on television.

Shep was Noake’s inseparable friend. So inseparable, in fact, that the Barron Knights wrote a song about the two and how Noakes could never get away from him. It had lines like ‘John could never be alone no matter where he went. For Shep would have a sniff around and soon work out his scent.’ The song had Noakes standing on the top of the Eiffel Tower and other locations that were hard to get to and finding that Shep was up there with him.

But Noakes’s popularity with the viewers was such that he couldn’t be confined to one show. He was given his own, called Go With Noakes. Noakes came from Halifax, and so the title music was ‘On Ilkley Moore by Tat’. Each week he would visit a different historic location. At one point, I think, he was walking the ancient Fosse Way. He also visited similar locations on Blue Peter, once visiting the potteries in Staffordshire. This was described in a chapter in that year’s Blue Peter Annual entitled ‘I Was a Sagger-Maker’s Bottom-Knocker’, after one of the specialised workers in the kilns.

Both Noakes and Shep are, sadly, no longer with us but they’re still remembered as two of the superstars of children’s television, bringing adventure and a touch of comedy on to the TV screen.

Here’s the opening theme, which I found on Louish Waltz’s channel on YouTube, with stills from the series.

And this is the incident with Lulu the elephant, first broadcast in 1969, from Tony Thompson’s YouTube channel.

Sketch of Children’s TV Presenter Brian Cant

December 2, 2022

This is the first of a number of sketches and pieces I’m planning to put up about some of the presenters of the children’s TV programmes I used to watch in the 70s. Cant was the lead presenter on Play Away, a sister programme of the long-running children’s TV favourite, Play School, on which Cant had also appeared, but aimed at slightly older children. Play Away was also more of an ensemble programme with a whole team accompanying Cant. There was somebody Cohen at the piano, and a number of other co-presenters, some of whom I’ve now forgotten. I think one of them was Toni Arthur, who I’ve since learned was a folk musician and the author of a book on seasonal customs for children, the All The Year Round Book. One of the presenters I do remember was Jeremy Irons, who has gone on to become a Hollywood star. I was really surprised in the ’90s when I read that he was playing the lead characters in David Cronenberg’s psychological horror film Dead Ringers. This was about a pair of twin gynaecologists, one of whom goes insane and believes that the women he’s treating are all mutants. The film includes a credit to H.R. Giger, the Swiss artist who designed the Alien in those movies, for designing ‘radical surgical instruments’. It’s as far from Play Away as you can get and is a reminder that the cast of such programmes are actors, who also take adult roles. Somebody must have seen Irons in Play Away and recognised his potential.

Cant was also the narrator for three interlinked children’s series, Chigley, Trumpton and Camberwick Green each set in one of these small fictional towns. These were animated series using small figurines and were similar in style, using the same type of figures and music. Trumpton started off with Cant announcing, ‘Here is the clock, the Trumpton clock. Telling the time, steadily, sensibly, never too quickly, never too slowly, telling the time for Trumpton.’ The various characters also had their own theme songs. One of the characters, whose figure I’ve drawn being looked at by Cant, was Windy Miller. Miller appropriately enough lived in a windmill. His song began, ‘Windy Miller, Windy Miller, sharper than a thorn’. The theme song for the local fire brigade began with a rollcall of their names, ‘Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grubb.’ The railway also had its own song with the words, ‘Time flies by when you’re the driver of a train as you ride on the footplate there and back again.’ These shows have developed a cult following. In the 1980s the band Half Man Half Biscuit released a record Trumpton Riots, about what would happen if Trumpton had a riot. According to rumour, it parodied the train song with the words ‘Time flies by when you’re the driver of a train, as you ride on the footplate with a cargo of cocaine’. You can find videos of ‘Trumpton Riots’ on YouTube, including the lyrics. These words don’t seem to appear, but perhaps they’re on another song with a similar theme. Half Man Half Biscuit, as their name suggests, had a peculiar sense of humour. One of their other songs was ‘All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit’. This was just before Communism fell, when there were far fewer people from eastern Europe in Britain, who might genuinely want such a football kit for their collection.

The series’ visual style has also influenced pop video producers. One of the series began, if I recall correctly, with one of the characters spiralling up out of an opened music box. Something similar occurs in the Ting Tings’ video for ‘That’s Not My Name’, where the two leads seem to spiral up into view from something off camera below them. The producers of another pop video for a song with the delightful name ‘Burn The Witch’, deliberately based its style on the three children’s series. He also appeared in a pop video for Orbital’s The Altogether in a sequence which was similar to Play School, the children’s TV programme that preceded Play Away and in which Cant also appeared as a presenter. He also appeared in a number of other programmes and theatrical productions. Wikipedia notes that Cant won a poll as the best-loved voice from children’s TV in 2007, and three years later in 2010 he won a special award at the BAFTAs for his work in children’s television. Accepting it, Cant said: “When I was a child I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. When I became a man I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, and they paid me for it.”

For further information, see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Cant

I found this rendition of the Play Away theme with a still of its cast on Bobby Gathergood’s channel on YouTube.

I found this video of Trumpton’s opening titles on the It’s Sam! channel on YouTube:

38 Degrees Petition to Get Jeremy Hunt to Provide Free School Meals to Children on Universal Credit

November 25, 2022

I got this message yesterday from the internet petitioning organisation objecting to Jeremy Hunt’s apparent refusal to provide free school meals to four-firths of a million children on Universal Credit, but who currently don’t qualify for free school meals. I’ve signed it, and if you feel as strongly about it as I do, I hope you’ll do the same. Because this is obscene. Britain is one of the richest countries in the world, and millions of working people and children are going hungry. They have to use food banks to stave off starvation, and now there are warm banks to make sure they don’t die of hypothermia because they can’t afford to heat their homes. Marcus Rashford, God bless ‘im, managed to shame them into providing fee school meals to deprived kids during the holidays. And they hate him for it. They published hit pieces afterwards lambasting him for being rich and having more than one house. Guess what? That’s irrelevant. The Fabian Society rejected class war, and so, I think, did the Labour party in general. They fought for the working class but saw socialism as such an eminently reasonable social system of society that everyone would benefit. This is where Labour differs from Communism. The only people who are fighting a class war, and exploiting class resentment, are the Tories in order to keep the workers firmly in their place.

‘Dear David,

800,000 vulnerable children are going to school hungry and missing out on free school meals – yet Chancellor Jeremy Hunt had nothing to say about it in last week’s budget. [1] He’s happy to leave hundreds of thousands of families, on Universal Credit but not eligible for free school meals, to struggle to feed their kids. [2]

David – we won’t let the Government get away with this. Our petition to expand free school meals is over 90% of the way to 100,000 signatures – but your name is missing. [3]

We MUST push this up the Government’s agenda if we’re to protect families struggling this winter. [4] That’s why we have BIG plans to expand this campaign – and it all starts with ramping up names on this petition and handing it in to Rishi Sunak to put child hunger firmly on his radar. As for the next stage of the campaign… watch this space!

So David, will you add your name to show Rishi Sunak he can’t get away with letting kids go hungry?It only takes a few seconds to sign!

I’LL ADD MY NAME

I’m not signing because…

It feels like we’re getting close to a breakthrough, David. Supermarkets, local councils, and celebrities are piling on the pressure to expand free school meals. [4] But time and again, the Government has failed to give critical support to families most in need – which is why we need your name, and your support.

So David, will you sign today to urge this Government to expand free school meals and keep this country’s children fed?If each of us reading this signs, we’ll smash the 100,000 target!

I’LL ADD MY NAME

I’m not signing because…

Thanks for all you do,

Flo, Tash, Siobhan, Angus and the 38 Degrees team

NOTES:
[1] The Guardian: ‘It would mean so much’: parents on the need to expand free school meals 
The Independent: Feed the Future: Jeremy Hunt ignores pleas to expand free school meals in autumn Budget 
[2] See note 1.
[3] 38 Degrees: Rishi Sunak: don’t let kids go hungry by ditching the free school meals expansion! 
[4] Evening Standard: UK supermarkets join calls for expansion of free school meals 

More Sketches of Geniuses of British Comedy: Bob Monkhouse, Rod Hull, Emu, and their Victim Michael Parkinson

November 25, 2022

Bob Monkhouse is, in my opinion, one of the very great figures of late 20th century and early 21st century British comedy. He was not just a comedian, but also game show compering some of the nation’s favourite shows. I can remember him from the early or mid ’70s compering The Golden Shot, for those that can remember that far back. The contestants had to give instructions to blindfolded marksman, Bernie the Bolt to get him to aim a crossbow at a target. If he got it, they won the prize money. I can still hear the words, ‘Up a bit, left a bit…’ and so on. I don’t know if Monkhouse took over from someone else, but there are clips of it on YouTube with a Black presenter with a broad Yorkshire accent. Later on, in the 1980s he presented Family Fortunes. He was asked in one interview what the worse moment from the show was. He replied that it was when one contestant kept replying to each question, ‘Christmas turkey?’ This led to exchanges like ‘What item would you take to the beach on holiday?’ ‘A Christmas turkey’. ‘Interesting answer. We’ll see. Our survey said. -‘ and then the buzzer to indicate that the people surveyed definitely had not replied that they would take a Christmas turkey to the beach’. Monkhouse asked the poor fellow afterwards what happened. He said that he didn’t know, his mind just went blank. In the ’90s or early years of this century he started to come back after a period when he was off camera. I think this followed an appearance on Have I Got News For You, where he displayed his wit. Actually, I think he had scriptwriters with him handing him gags, or perhaps I’m confusing him with another comedian and entertainer whose career was revived by the show.

Monkhouse began his career away from the camera, writing jokes for other comedians and children’s comics. In an interview with the popular science magazine, Focus, he recalled how he nearly created Star Trek. He had been a science fiction fan, and so had an idea about a spaceship, called ‘Enterprise’, whose captain was a Scotsman called Kirk. Ah, that would have been interesting. He also gave praise to the other comedians he believed deserved it for their skill. One on series about various TV comedians, he described Jimmy Carr as ‘the comedians’ comedian’. But that phrase could also easily describe him. He was acutely interested in other comedians and the craft of comedy itself. In the 1980s he had his own show at about 7.30 in the evening, in which he interviewed comedians he admired from Britain and America. One of them, if I recall rightly, was our own Les Dawson. His house was also full of old film and clips of past comedians. He died of prostate cancer a few years. After his death one of the TV channels broadcast his farewell show, with commenters from other comedians. They said they didn’t realise how terribly ill Monkhouse was at the time, and that he was saying ‘goodbye’ to them. Another great comedian lost to us.

Rod Hull and Emu – another brilliant comedy act taken from us by the Grim Reaper. Hull said he was inspired to create Emu while watching a nature programme in New Zealand. This may have shown the country’s national bird, the Kiwi, another flightless bird rooting around on the forest floor. Or it may have shown Australia’s great flightless bird, the emu. Either way, the bird inspired Hull to create this avian monster of children’s television. It was the most terrifying puppet not to come out of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, though some cruel individuals may detect a certain resemblance to the villainous Skeksis in the film The Dark Crystal. Whatever its inspiration, Emus temperament was more like the 12-foot carnivorous Terror Birds that lived after the demise of the dinosaurs. Hull and Emu had a variety of children’s programmes. I remember him from E.B.C. 1 – ‘Emu’s Broadcasting Company’ with Billy Dainty on BBC 1, and then he moved over to ITV and Emu’s World. On E.B.C., Hull and Emu attempt to perform pieces from the Bard, complete with Emu wearing an Elizabeth cap. I also remember a recurring segment where Dainty, another great performer in his own right, dressed in Edward strongman long johns, tried to give advice on getting fit. This was introduced by the 20th Jazz song, ‘Keep fit, take exercise, get fit, and you’ll be wise, whatever you do, keep fit’. The music that introduced the Shakespeare segment, I later found out, was the 16th century German Mohrentanz, played on shawms and crumhorns. Emus also did weather forecasts, which were introduced by the jingle, ‘Weather, weather, all together, what’s it going to do? We don’t know, and so let’s ask, weatherman Emu.’ In addition to his own programmes, he also appeared as a guest on others, most notorious on Parkinson.

Emu’s style of comedy was pure, anarchic slapstick, whether he was on his own programmes or a guest on a chat show. These performances usually started off calmly, with Hull talking quietly and the puppet behaving itself on his arm. If they were being interviewed, Emu would act docile, snuggling up to the interviewer to be stroked. ‘There, he likes that’, Hull would say approvingly. Then it would start to go wrong, the beak would curl up in a snarl and before long Hull, his guest star or the interviewer would be savagely attacked by the thing’s beak, all with Hull screaming, ‘No, Emu! No!’ This would often end up with the three struggling on the floor while the set collapsed around them in a heap of overturned furniture. Emu was a force of pure chaos, bringing down televisual order. And hilariously funny. But it wasn’t all laughs. I can remember my grandmother telling me I was not to get like him with the sock puppets I made, as Hull had admitted he couldn’t control it. I don’t know if that was true, or another reworking of the old fear about ventriloquists and their dummies. I think Emu was also like Sherlock Holmes as the artist’s creation its creator would like to kill off and move away from but couldn’t because of the characters’ immense popularity. Hull himself was sadly taken from us in a domestic accident. He fell off his roof trying to fix his TV aerial.

I couldn’t sketch Rod Hull and the monstrous bird without also including his most famous victim, the chat show host Michael Parkinson. Parkinson’s show, simply called Parkinson, was one of the mainstays of British television. Parkinson interviewed a number of great and famous stars, like Oliver Reed and Mohammed Ali. And then he had the misfortune to interview, and get assaulted, by Emu. This incident has gone down as a piece of broadcasting history. It became so notorious that it was included in a skit in Private Eye commemorating Parkinson being given an honorary degree or doctorate from one of the universities. Whenever a celebrity, actor, sportsman or whoever, is awarded one of these honorary qualifications, the Eye prints a piece celebrating it in Latin, with the title ‘The …. Laudation In Full’. The Latin is easily understood, recognisable from the Latin vocabular in English. The Parkinson laudatio mentioned his interview with pugilist Mohammed Ali, before adding ‘assaultam cum Emu, avis horribilis. Ave, Emu, salutamus Emu, laudamus Emu’. Or words to that effect. Parkinson had his revenge a few years later when he appeared on Room 101. Parkinson naturally wanted Emu to be consigned to the room containing everything rubbish and terrible in the world. He was obliged when Emu was brought on in a miniature guillotine. Parkinson naturally threw the switch or pulled out the block, and one of children’s television’s most comically terrifying puppets was beheaded, with Parkinson shaking his head as if he couldn’t quite work out whether this was appropriate or not.

Sketches of Bradley Walsh and Joe Lycett

November 15, 2022

Mark Pattie, one of the great commenters on this blog, suggested that I draw Bradley Walsh and Joe Lycett. Well, your wish is my command. The sketch of Walsh below is of one of the memorable moments on The Chase when Walsh cracked up laughing. In this instance, it was over the name of the German swimmer Fanny Chmelar. This is probably one of those moments that will haunt him for the rest of his career as his pops up on various ‘bloopers’ shows. Lycett is just a straight portrait, which is unusual for a comedian. I hope you like them.