Saturday, February 25, 2006

Ken Livingstone suspended for 4 weeks over gibe.

The London Mayor Ken Livingstone has been suspended for four weeks after being found guilty of bringing his office into disrepute by comparing a Jewish reporter to a concentration camp guard. A disciplinary tribunal said he had been "unnecessarily insensitive and offensive" when approached by a journalist from London's Evening Standard after a party at City Hall last February.

The Mayor, who earns a £138,000 salary, will be suspended on full pay for four weeks starting on 1 March. Since he lost the case he must pay his own costs, estimated at £80,000.

This tale was referred to the tribunal following a complaint by the Jewish Board of Deputies.

This is a transcript of the taped exchange between Ken Livingstone and Oliver Finegold which led to the Mayor of London being suspended from office yesterday. Mr Livingstone was leaving a reception at City Hall in February last year when approached by the reporter.

Oliver Finegold: "Mr Livingstone, Evening Standard. How did it ..."

Ken Livingstone: "Oh, how awful for you."

OF: "How did tonight go?"

KL: "Have you thought of having treatment?"

OF: "How did tonight go?"

KL: "Have you thought of having treatment?"

OF: "Was it a good party? What does it mean for you?"

KL: "What did you do before? Were you a German war criminal?"

OF: "No, I'm Jewish. I wasn't a German war criminal."

KL: "Ah ... right."

OF: "I'm actually quite offended by that. So, how did tonight go?"

KL: "Well you might be, but actually you are just like a concentration camp guard. You're just doing it 'cause you're paid to, aren't you?"

OF: "Great. I've you on record for that. So how did tonight go?"

KL: "It's nothing to do with you because your paper is a load of scumbags."

OF: "How did tonight go?"

KL: "It's reactionary bigots ..."

OF: "I'm a journalist. I'm doing my job."

KL: "... and who supported fascism."

OF: "I'm only asking for a simple comment. I'm only asking for a comment."

KL: "Well, work for a paper that isn't ..."

OF: "I'm only asking for a comment."

KL: " ... that had a record of supporting fascism."

OF: "You've accused me ..."

After the words "You've accused me" there is a gap on the tape followed after five seconds by a sound indistinguishable other than it being a male voice.

I think that the tribunal was wrong to suspend Ken Livingstone because of his remarks. We should have free speech in this country and the journalist approached Ken looking for some quotes. It is part of the territory of a journalists' job to take some flak from the public, they are interrupting peoples' lives to get a story. Oliver stopped Ken and asked questions, Ken was not attending a pre-arranged interview. If you stop anyone else in the street and start asking questions, you may be given a rude reply, it is the risk you take for interrupting someone. Oliver certainly takes offence very easily indeed. His skin must be very thin to take Ken's remarks as offensive. The Jewish Board of Deputies have not done their community any favours making a big issue out of these remarks. The only people Ken may have to answer to is the voters, when politicians screw up the electorate will push them out at the next election.

This tribunal has let Londoners down and wasted their money. Londoners voted Ken to be their mayor, he has not changed overnight and I am glad that he has stood up to these media bullies at the London Evening Standard by not apologising to Oliver. This tale also shows just how much influence the Jewish lobby has in the UK, another cultural change we are adopting from America! Do not worry about it Ken, not all of the voting public are touchy. Ken has done a very good job for London as mayor and should be re-elected for a third term at the next election. Oliver, get a life and don't take life and the past so seriously. Most people after a party like a laugh and a joke but you Oliver, need to be able to take it on the chin like a man.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Swan Hotel, Aberford.

I had a lovely meal in this pub near Leeds on Saturday night with friends. It is in the village of Aberford on what was once the Great North Road before the A1 bypassed the village.

I have never been in such a busy pub before. It was heaving with customers due to it's reputation for good food with generous portions. You stand around the bar area after telling a waitress that you would like a table when one becomes available. Other customers were more than happy to wait for as long as it takes, they expect a long wait due to the popularity.

We were allocated a table and the food was good, with very generous portions. My dinner came on a large plate plus another sizzler plate for the meat. The menu is very big with plenty of choice and dishes from all around the world.

My lasting impression however is an amazement as to why with market forces being what they are, why are people so happy to stand around in a very crowded pub waiting for service like in a cattle auction? Customers positively remark that you are luckly to wait for a table, as upstairs the restaurant is bookings only, with a 3 week waiting list. It must be awful for the staff to work in such cramped conditions having to twist around customers all the time. I feel the profitability of this pub is astounding as you cannot get any more turnover from that amount of customer floor area.

This is not a relaxed romantic venue to eat out at, more a last supper before the Titanic goes down.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Jean-Christophe Lafaille.

I read his obituary in my newspaper today. He was a mountaineer: born Gap, France 31 March 1965; married (one son, one daughter); died Makalu, Nepal c27 January 2006. I found his life story very moving and his death is a great loss to mountaineering. The obituary gives you an insight into the passion he held for his sport and life itself. What sums up his attitude so well is one of the last quotes he gave before leaving for Makalu, why he climbed in such dangerous conditions alone, Lafaille replied:

"I find it fascinating that our planet still has areas where no modern technology can save you, where you are reduced to your most basic - and essential - self. This natural space creates demanding situations that can lead to suffering and death, but also generate a wild interior richness. Ultimately, there is no way of reconciling these contradictions. All I can do is try to live within their margins, in the narrow boundary between joy and horror. Everything on this earth is a balancing act."

I believe he knew the risks involved before tragedy struck but has lived his short life to the full and has escaped death many times before. He was never held a prisoner by risk assessment and experienced freedoms most people can and will never enjoy. He enjoyed his life on earth to the very limits of nature and is an inspiration to us all. So many people are limited to what they can only see on television but Jean-Christophe Lafaille lived his life to the edge. This was the edge of life itself not the sofa.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Choice Gift Vouchers .

I had a Christmas bonus from my employer in the form of gift vouchers. They were provided by a company called Choice Gift Vouchers and where redeemable for goods and services from a lot of big High Street names in the UK. I saved my vouchers and went down to our local branch of Argos to make a purchase. The guy on the till told me that I could not use the vouchers because Choice Gift Vouchers had gone bust. A quick check back home on the internet revealed that Pricewaterhouse Coopers had taken the firm into administration. The website for Choice Gift Vouchers simply states...

"The Website you are trying to access is currently unavailable.

Please try again later."

So that is my Christmas bonus well and truly gone. I shall keep the vouchers as you never know what may happen in the future. Moral of the story, if you are given vouchers redeem them as quickly as possible. I feel very sorry for members of the public who have saved for these vouchers as part of Christmas hamper packages - High Street robbery I call it.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Cartoon fun with Mohamed .

What a fuss has been made in the Muslim world over the Danish cartoons. Why can they not take a joke? The Muslims are being very touchy at the moment and need to lighten up. There is a rightful place in journalism for cartoons to use satire to make a point using humour to good effect. The Muslims should understand this, the rest of the world can take criticism and humour - they should be strong enough in their lives to take it on the chin and in good spirit. Setting fire to embassies in the Middle East is not the way forward and shows just how backward their religion really is.

It is a shame that the British press did not have the courage to re-print these cartoons so that their readers could form their own opinions rather than being told an editorial line. Adults should form their own opinions and freedom of speech should be upheld. No-one should be censored and all opinions should be allowed expression.

These were only cartoons, nothing more. There was no violent action in Denmark unlike the arson taking place in the Middle East over cartoons in a publication whose audience is a long way away from them.

I did not find anything offensive in these cartoons but feel that setting fire to buildings is simply criminal and ignorant. What are these Muslims - sheep with matches?

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]