Monday, 14 April 2008

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Today’s Gazette carries the profiles for candidates standing in the local elections. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a link on the site for you to view the information on line.

Olive Elsom forgot to send her picture in – a post card from Canada would have sufficed. Neil Maxwell, standing for Labour in Harton Ward, also didn’t manage to get his photo included. How can the Ward members vote for him when he can’t even manage this simple task!

The best has been left to last. Together with ugly policies, the BNP must have some ugly candidates – they failed to provide pictures for 4 of their storm troopers. Something about the 9 o’clock watershed and children reading the paper underneath the quilt. Personally I think it’s because they could find any mug shots where they didn’t have their jack boots on.

Roll on the vote.

Keeping your powder dry!

In response to a couple of emails, thanks for the kind words re the pictures from The Sand Dancer 10k last week. It is strange to see snow at this time of year, and with the runners finishing the race with open blue skies, we certainly witnessed the full gambit of British weather that day. In answer to a comment, I have decided to start a daily photo section, beginning on May 3rd when I will be returning to a more regular pattern of posting. Feel free to use any of the pictures I post, particularly those who have emigrated and yearn for news from “home”.

Other people however, have been clearly very busy. Its rather gratifying knowing that you have caused certain individuals so much discomfort that they have to spend hours festering away trying to find ways to knock you down. Luckily for me I have more rewarding things to do in my life, particularly at the moment, but more about that later.

That does leave the issue of what to do about various comments and issues that have been raised. Should I lower myself or should I take the moral high ground and leave it in the gutter where it belongs?

Tactics, dear boy, tactics!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Fancy a Bargain?

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Rumour Mill Election Style

George and Olive Elsom are so committed to standing in the ward of Beacon and Bents that they have taken themselves of to Canada to see how our dominion cousins conduct local elections. Olive and Oily may be back in time to deliver election leaflets to 6 houses in the Ward (3 of whom don’t vote).

Colin Campbell has withdrawn his candidature for Cleadon Park, no doubt with the promise of a clear run in a couple of years. Then again, Colin may have moved on by then, such is the shifting sands of his political philosophy.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

The Word According to McCabe!

Poor old Councillor John McCabe (Labour - Hebburn South) has today objected to his Independent opposition election candidate (Stephen Rhodes) referring to him as a “Judas” for crossing the floor to the Labour side when he was elected 4 years ago (Mr McCabe was elected originally as an Independent).

I surprised that this pre election knock about even made the Gazette – the election period normally puts pay to publicity for this type of verbal spat. Mind you, they may have run the story just for McCabe’s final comment:

“And I must point out that Judas was still a disciple of Jesus”.

Now who would Jesus be then – surely not Malcolm or Waggott! Perhaps we should be told who thinks they can walk on water.

Either way, the paper will have to politically balance the article by allowing Mr Rhodes a reply.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Who What Where

When the list of candidates came out for the local elections in May many people were surprised to see an addition to the expected roster for the Beacon and Bents Ward. Top of the list is “Olive June Elsom”, standing as an “Independent”. Olive doesn’t live in the ward, she resides in the Cleadon Park Ward with her husband George, who as it happens is also a “real Independent” councillor for their residing ward. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with standing in a ward where you don’t live, but what is strange is that Beacon and Bents already has an “Independent” candidate, and a very high profile one at that. In March Robin Coombes (Independent – South Tyneside Alliance) decided not to stand against George Elsom’s colleague Terry Haram in the Whiteleas Ward as he did not wish to split the vote and allow Labour to take the seat by default.

I wonder why George has not adopted such a conciliatory approach. I wonder why his wife did not stand in the Ward where they live and George already sits. The situation is even more difficult to understand when you take into account an email sent by George on the 26th March to an unnamed source on the issue of another “Independent” (not linked to the Alliance) who was standing against his “real Independent” candidate in Cleadon Park.
“I certainly wouldn’t put someone up against your candidate so cannot see why you should want to put up one against mine. The only beneficiary to a split vote will be labour.”
The argument is good enough for Cleadon Park, but not Beacon and Bents.


Monday, 7 April 2008

Some one's got the hump!

Well, you take a few days off and all hell breaks loose.
That odious little man at the Corner Shop (Mr Rigg for it is he) has certainly got the hump(s)

Whilst his technical analysis is both amateurish and ignorant of how my Site Meter works (the link he highlights is a basic prĂ©cis for the public, it’s not the full version which I have access to) he has caused a few problems for this site.

The route to the Site Meter has always been open for anyone to view – there is nothing to hide about visitor rates and no claims as to self inflated figures have ever been made etc (unlike his site where no public access to his “popularity” is available). Without my own log on details, this site has always enjoyed an increasing readership base. However, by publicising the fact that the link exists, attempts have been made to “hack” into the site (and my computer) via the open gateway – my AVG and Zone Alarm software is working over time.

The Site Meter link is therefore off line at the moment, and whilst Mr Rigg will pop many a gasket with claims of skulduggery, it’s his fault that this happened.

What a paranoid man he has turned out to be.

However, what is more important is that his obsession with this site (Graham, why do you get up so early to check what I have posted on?) has meant that I have had to look at the legal situation and the following information has been offered by my advisor – something which perhaps “all” bloggers (and one in particular) should take note off before the situation escalates to far for certain individuals.

As we all know, the Data Protection Act regulates the collection and use of personal data. As such, IP addresses become personal data when combined with other information that is held (by any source) i.e. a name or a very specific location. The Site Meter link offered only an IP (or ISP address), whilst Mr Rigg has offered both an address and name. In my case, he has highlighted my name and my IP address – this is against the law and contravenes the Data Protection Act as he has identified electronic data about myself without my permission.

This will be taken up as a separate issue.

For anybody else who has recognised their IP address or has had their name highlighted (though not necessarily linked to an address) you need to be aware of the comments of the Information Commissioner, Elizabeth France, in 2001 (the legal precedent has not changed) who passed the following judgement:

“If static IP addresses were to form the basis for profiles that are used to deliver targeted marketing messages to particular individuals they, and the profiles, would be personal data subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Thus the scope for using IP addresses for personalised profiling is limited…They will only become personal data if the website operator has some means of linking IP addresses to a particular individual, perhaps through other information held or from information that is publicly available on the internet”.

This interpretation also includes the deliberate linking of IP addresses and individuals names. May name have been linked to an individual IP address by Mr Rigg – this is interpreted by the Data Protection Act as personal profiling. This is against the law.

To make matters worse for Mr Rigg, the independent advisory EU body called the “Article 29 Data Protection Working Party” (it sets guidance rules for member state's) has offered the following binding judgement on how data cannot be used:

“The possibility exists in many cases, however, of linking the users IP address to their personal data (which is publicly available or not) that identify him/her, especially if use is made of invisible processing means to collect additional data on the user (for instance, using cookies containing a unique identifier) or modern data mining systems linked to large databases personally identifiable data on internet users”

The use of caches, cookies, and Google links to link IP addresses and names are therefore against the law.

This will be taken up as a separate issue.

Finally, lets us not forget how the Data Protection Act has been officially interpreted:

“If you wish to use IP addresses to identify or build a profile on each….visitors as an individual, even if they are never identified by name, you should assume that the Data Protection Act applies…. A Court will be influenced by the Information Commissioners guidance on this point….(and) gain consent before processing an IP address for these purposes, for example, via a data protection notice”

Therefore before any IP address can be linked to an individual, consent must be first obtained. The person who has offered this information, in this case Mr Rigg, must also issue a data protection notice or register as a data holder. I am 99.99% sure he has not done so. If he has, the public must have access to this notice.

I am surprised at Mr Rigg, surely he should have checked out his legal position in full before he embarked on his paranoid venture – but then again, this is the man who is pivotal to the BRENDA affair and the slanderous allegations which were made on his site and which he allowed to sit there unchecked.

It looks like his complete lack of intellectual judgement has let him down once again.

Better things To Do!

Whilst many people looked for far more exciting reasons for my lack of posting over the last few days, I was in fact devoting most of my free time to the South Shields Harriers” Sand Dancer” 10k Race which took place yesterday. Hundreds of athletes braved the snow storms to run just over six miles of beautiful coastal paths to finish up by completing a lap of Gypsies Green Stadium and a well earned pint in the Sand Dancer pub (sponsors of the race).

Well done to every body who lent a hand – marking the course, processing the entries and results, preparing hundreds of goody bags, completing the mile high piles of paper work etc – it all takes time and it’s all donated freely.

The race is essential to the Harriers funding requirements – it pays to train junior athletes, cover entry fees, transport costs etc.

If Gypsies Green is knocked down, this will have been the last race.

It was noticeable that the runner’s numbers, donated by Nova Sports, carried the name “Manchester City Council”. South Tyneside’s name was no ware to be seen, nor were any local councillors present at the race.

The photos tell it all – well done all the runners. A full article and results service should be in either Tuesday’s or Friday’s Gazette.

Below are a few pictures taken by the family on the day.

One Man and His Dog

No, the ship has thankfully not hit the pier!

Yes, it is April!

Their Off!

The Lost Official

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner


Friday, 4 April 2008

Election Period

Normal service will resume Monday 7th April - Election Period

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


As I put the cat out for the night, and persuade the dog to spend at least one night in bed, Councillor Rob Dix of South Tyneside Council has second spot on the local text news (BBC 1).

As for the local blog world being united against racism, it died a dreadful death tonight.


A Racist in our Midst!

Poor Old Rob Dix, apparently the charge has more “stick” than a Teflon frying pan. That can only mean he’s kicked out of the Labour Party, and if he does the honest thing, a bye election will follow his expulsion (he is currently suspended).

However, what of the other players?

Deputy Council Leader Ian Malcolm comes out of the whole affair covered in the brown stuff. He tried to keep it quite, but a certain Gazette reporter D. MacLean got his teeth into it, and that was the cover up broken!

Labour has been engaged in a series of “spin” meetings at least since the weekend, but couldn’t come up with a suitable excuse for their racist member!

Sadly, David Miliband MP was unaware of the impending scandal, and when he found out (no doubt via the full page spread his constituency news paper put out in his home town) the flak was so bad that diplomatic relations between said Foreign Secretary and Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council now resemble the governments relationship with Zimbabwe i.e. they are as frosty as the Antarctic.

Let’s not forget that Mr Miliband was parachuted into the region to curb the excesses of “Malcolm in the Diddle”.

Said “I” Malcolm may have “diddled” too far.

With WAGGGOTTT on the rocks, the Council’s Deputy Leader has been to slow to tackle the problem of racists in his own ranks.

I also note the lack of coverage of the issue by local South Tyneside bloggers.

Hang your heads in shame boys, and don’t resort to the “innocent until till charged” defence. By then it will be too late.

You’re all as guilty for not commenting on the issue. What will you do when Dix presents himself in court in May! Ignore it?

What’s the matter Mr Rigg, the time stands at 12.34 p.m and the Borough has a racist in its midst. Surely your copy of the Gazette has arrived by now – or perhaps the Labour grape vine has stopped you from commenting.

“What is multiculturalism?”

Clearly Rob Dix doesn’t know, and neither do you lot at the Labour Party!

Dix by name, Dix by nature!

What a day to start a blog holiday!

Councillor Rob Dix (Harton Labour) has been arrested for racially aggravated disorder, the charges relating to his verbal attack on a traffic ticket warden. His employee, Parcel Force, are also investigating the issue. Dix has been bailed to appear again before the police 0n 7th May.

Eye witnesses accounts have collaborated the charges, so it doest look to good for Dix's long term political future, unless of course the BNP want him for free.

No doubt I will be returning to this issue.

Time for a Breather!

It’s April 1st, but as I look at my work diary for the next four weeks or so, I wonder who the fool is. Local news is slow at the moment – with the local elections looming there will be no loose talk or veiled comments, and there will certainly be no "green" documents. All things South Tyneside will only begin again on May 2nd when the election results are known (something also tells me that this is one of the most important local elections in this Borough certainly for the last two decades).

Now therefore seems a good time to have a little bit of a breathier and tie up a few loose ends etc. Posts will continue, but no to the same degree as the last 5 months. Rest assured however, us local commentators are an opinionated bunch and as such cannot keep our mouths shut on any issue. So keeping checking the site because there will always be something to read.

Especially on May 2nd – now there's a date for your diary.

Clegg - Over

I used to think that life as a Liberal Democrat must be a pretty mundane existence. However, an article carried by “GQ” magazine reveals a side to Nick Clegg which so far has gone unnoticed by the media and Play Boy. “Clegg-Over” not only reveals his drinking habits, but lets the electorate the number of women he has slept with, a round figure of about 30. Before we all jump to conclusions about dirty Nicks bedroom habits, perhaps he has used the word “sleep” in its truest sense. Have you ever read a Liberal Democrat manifesto – it is the safest cure to insomnia I have ever come across. Here is how Cleggie’s warm up patter may have gone:

CLEGG OVER – “Here darling, have a look at this for size” (Hands over manifesto to young lady)
YOUNG LADY: “Oh, Nick, you are naughty. OK then, just a quick look….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Or something like that.

Clegg is quoted as saying on the Charles Kennedy drink problem that it would have been “pretty hard” to run the country as an alcoholic. Perhaps not as hard as he thinks – George Brown is giving it a go and he’s a fool!

Shake Your Money Maker

Today’s Independent reveals what most of already suspected – there was no official plot to murder and cover up the deaths of Diana, Princes of Wales and her partner Dodi Fayed. Why this media circus was allowed to roll on in the full view of cameras, script writers, book writers and movie moguls is beyond me. Sadly, the whole affair was a money maker from the word go (let’s not forget the lawyers) and the public needs to prepare itself for a plethora of books, serialisations and without doubt a Hollywood block buster. The conspiracy theories will also continue long past the point Charles realizes he will never be King.

Nobody gained from this pantomime, especially the tax payer – the bill has come in and its £10 million.

Making It Easy

Yesterday I posted on the dangers of the BNP making significant gains in May’s local elections. Today the Lords gave them a leg up.

A Tonne To Many

Matthew Taylor, who was head of the No 10 policy unit under Tony Blair, has told today’s Telegraph that there are far too many ministers and that their number should be slashed by 25%. Gordon Brown has about 100 ministers under his control – that’s a fairly hefty number of people needed to run the country badly.

If the “Northern Rock” rational were applied to government departments, heads would roll – but that would be akin to turkeys voting for Christmas would it!