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Member since: 2001
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Local government, London Mayoral & London Assembly elections 3rd May

It's that time of year when I do the obligatory thread about the elections that are on this year.

We have a number of local elections as always, the London Mayoral race with Boris Johnson & Ken Livingstone as the frontrunners and London Assembly elections. A number of places are also holding referendums on whether or not to have an elected Mayor.

No local elections where I live so I'll be looking over the border to South Yorkshire to see if the Liberal Democrats continue their decline on Nick Clegg's doorstep. Sheffield is also one of those places having a Mayoral referendum, although I have yet to come across any interest in that matter whatsoever.

Come to think of it, I would expect voter turnout to be even worse then usual this year, which is never a good thing.

As always feel free to comment on what local elections are on where you live, any local issues and how much or how little campaigning is being done by political parties where you live.


Premier league boss claims China stole egg foo yung from Sheffield


THE chairman of the premier league last night accused China of stealing great British recipes like egg foo yung and Szechuan chicken.

Sir Dave Richards insisted eggs were first mixed with foo and yung in Sheffield more than 1,500 years ago and then a 'Chinaman hypnotised everybody and made off with the pot'.

He said: "And 70 years ago my Uncle Eric invented spaghetti, went to bed and woke up the next morning to find he had been kidnapped by Mussolini." Richards then stepped on a roller skate and went hurtling through a jam factory before crashing head-first into a wasps' nest.

He added: "Pele's from Huddersfield."

Sheffield Wednesday 1 Sheffield United 0



The stupid is indeed strong with James Delingpole......

.....I would have posted this in the good reads forum, but it's not a "good read". It is in fact the most hilariously idiotic article I've read in a long time. Anyone would think that this is a parody but those of you aware of Delingpole will probably be aware of his long track record of loony drivel.


Let's get one thing clear: Obama unquestionably ranks among the bottom five presidents in US history. In terms of sublime awfulness he's right up there with our late and extremely unlamented ex-PM Gordon Brown which is quite some doing, given that Brown singlehandedly wrought more destruction on his country than the Luftwaffe, Dutch Elm Disease, the South Sea Bubble, the Fire of London and the Black Death combined.

Agreed: the damage President Obama has done to the US economy with everything from Ben Bernanke's insane money-printing programme, to his cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, to his ban on deep-water drilling to his crony capitalism hand-outs to disaster zones like Solyndra to his persecution of companies like Gibson is incalculable. And, of course, if he gets a second term the damage he and his rag-bag of Marxist cronies at organisations like the Environmental Protection Agency manage to inflict on the US small businessman trying to make an honest buck will make his first term look like Calvin Coolidge on steroids.

So why do I think this would be preferable to a presidency under Mitt Romney? Simple. Because I've seen what happens, America, when you elect yet another spineless, yet ruthless, principle-free blow-with-the-wind, big government, crony-capitalist RINO squish. His name is Dave Cameron and trust me, the cure is far worse than the disease.

Astroturfing: what is it and why does it matter?


Astroturfing is the attempt to create an impression of widespread grassroots support for a policy, individual, or product, where little such support exists. Multiple online identities and fake pressure groups are used to mislead the public into believing that the position of the astroturfer is the commonly held view.

Although usually associated with the internet, the practice has been widespread ever since newspaper editors first invented the letters page. Pick up any local paper around the time of an election and you will find multiple letters from "concerned residents of X" objecting to the disastrous policies of Y. Similarly, concerned residents often turn up on talk radio shows and even in campaign literature, although the latter can prove more dangerous, as Labour party activists posing as residents in Greenwich discovered a few years back.

To overcome these dangers, most astroturfing now takes place on the forums and comment sections of blogs and newspaper websites. Here, individual astroturfers can leave comments under numerous identities with little fear of discovery. Discovery does occur, however, and in 2008 one member of Boris Johnson's campaign team was caught posting comments on blogs critical of his boss without sufficiently concealing their identity. A few years later, another member of Johnson's campaign was found posing as a concerned Labour supporter trying to prevent Ken Livingstone from being the party's candidate for mayor.

None of these British examples comes close to the sort of operation seen in Russia. New forms of software enable any organisation with the funds and the know-how to conduct astroturfing on a far bigger scale than even the Kremlin could hope for. As reported by the Guardian, some big companies now use sophisticated "persona management software" to create armies of virtual astroturfers, complete with fake IP addresses, non-political interests and online histories. Authentic-looking profiles are generated automatically and developed for months or years before being brought into use for a political or corporate campaign. As the software improves, these astroturf armies will become increasingly difficult to spot, and the future of open debate online could become increasingly perilous.


The Scotland act does not devolve constitutional matter to Holyrood and as such it is for Westminster to decide if and when.

The SNP are being incredibly dishonest over this proposal. They know that they won't win right now and they want to tie the referndendum in with the anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn in an orgy of anti-English jingoism.

Plus the SNP can always indulge in some anti-Tory dogwhistle politics due to the mess the Tories made of Scottish issues when they were last in power.

Petition for the Thatcher state funeral to be privatised


In keeping with the great lady's legacy, Margaret Thatcher's state funeral should be funded and managed by the private sector to offer the best value and choice for end users and other stakeholders. The undersigned believe that the legacy of the former PM deserves nothing less and that offering this unique opportunity is an ideal way to cut government expense and further prove the merits of liberalised economics Baroness Thatcher spearheaded.

The left must call the right's bluff and challenge the EU


All the criticisms have focused on Cameron abandoning Britain's place at the negotiating table. Those on the left should have no truck with Cameron's position. It was about defending the pre-eminent power of the City, whose firms provide more than half the Conservatives' funding. Despite empty government rhetoric about Britain going back to "making things", the City still calls the shots.

But that does not mean the left should be applauding the EU treaty. It could hardly be more disastrous for the European left. At a stroke, it effectively abolishes social democratic governments in the eurozone. As Paul Mason put it, "by enshrining in national and international law the need for balanced budgets and near-zero structural deficits, the eurozone has outlawed expansionary fiscal policy". Furthermore, all eurozone budgets must be submitted to the unelected European Commission for approval.

There will be those who believe that a fiscal stimulus in the current economic climate would be disastrous, and they are entitled to that view. But it is up to the people of Europe to decide at the ballot box. As Economist columnist Bagehot points out, it would become "pointless" to vote for a party that advocates "Keynesian stimulus policies or tax cuts". It's difficult to disagree with his understated conclusion: "That feels politically very dodgy to me."

But more broadly, now is an opportunity for the left to stop abandoning the EU debate to UKIP and Tory rightwingers like the NHS-hating Daniel Hannan. It is a travesty that highlighting the EU's palpable lack of democracy has become a rightwing issue. Why should European commissioners nobody elected issue diktats? Here the left can call the right's bluff. Why not call for the abolition of the commission in favour of an administration made up of elected members of the European parliament, for example?

Britain stays out of EU financial crisis deal


Mr Cameron said it was not in Britain's interest "so I didn't sign up to it".

But France's President Sarkozy said his "unacceptable" demands for exemptions over financial services blocked the chance of a full treaty. A full accord of "wasn't possible, given the position of our British friends," President Sarkozy said.

Of the 27 EU members Britain and Hungary look set to stay outside the accord, with Sweden and the Czech Republic having to consult on it.

Mr Cameron told a press conference: "We want the Eurozone countries to come together and solve their problems. But we should only allow that to happen within the EU treaties if there are proper protections for the single market, for other key British interests. Without those safeguards it is better not to have a treaty within a treaty, but have those countries make their arrangements separately. It was a tough decision but the right one."

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