Sunday 23 January 2011

The Barnet Mash

Don’t Call Me Dave is fed up again! Most readers probably realised as much with his last blogpost. Reporting the truth is tiresome. As all of Barnet’s responsible bloggers will testify, it takes an enormous amount of time and effort to research and report the news accurately.

Although DCMD enjoys blogging (with both hands), he is very busy with his work and studies (and occasionally trying to have a life) and simply finds it too difficult to find enough time to write the type of articles which used to attract 500+ readers per day.

In a Eureka moment, DCMD realised that there was a simple solution to this dilemma. Instead of researching the news, it is much easier to simply make it up. There are many national newspapers which have been doing this for decades. So, without further ado, please change your bookmarks and visit Barnet’s latest entrant to the blogosphere - The Barnet Mash. Never a true word will ever be spoken!

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Free Parking!

Much has been written in the local press and blogosphere about Barnet’s punitive hike in ‘Pay and Display’ fees and charges (click the table below to enlarge).

At the Cabinet Resources Committee meeting on 13th January, Members agreed to increase the cost of Residents’ first permit from £42 to £100 - an inflation busting rise of 138%.

The second permit cost will rise from £75 to £125 (up 66%) and for a third permit from £75 to £150 (a nice round 100% increase).

Doctors permits will increase from £160 to £200 (up 25%) whilst essential service vouchers go up from £12 for a book of 10 to £20 - a mere 66% rise.

But it is not all bad news. Residents will be delighted to know that three vulnerable groups will continue to receive free parking permits:
Carers Permits
Designated Disabled Bay Permits
Members Permits
That’s right folks. Essential service vouchers go up by 66% whilst councillors continue to park absolutely free of charge. This must be what Lynne Hillan meant when she said that we were all in this together.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Mark Shooter Sacked!

Reliable sources have informed Don’t Call Me Dave that Conservative Councillor Mark Shooter is to be sacked as Vice Chairman of the Budget and Performance Overview & Scrutiny Committee and also replaced as a member of the Business Management Overview & Scrutiny Sub-Committee.

His crime was to insist on referring committee reports back to the Cabinet for further consideration. He had the temerity to suggest that there were better ways of saving public money that those proposed by the Executive. Such is their commitment to democratic accountability, Lynne Hillan and her cronies do not take kindly to having their authority challenged in this way, and Shooter is to be fired.

Mark Shooter joined the council in May 2010 and soon discovered that Lynne Hillan is a piss-poor leader who cares only about stuffing her boots at the taxpayers’ expense. Unfortunately, the corrupt system of local government which operates in this Borough, thanks to Tony Blair’s Local Government Act 2000, meant that Hillan was able to survive a no confidence vote by offering highly paid positions to fellow troughers like Andreas and Joanna Tambourgreedy.

Monday 17 January 2011

Boris slams Coleman & Freer

In his weekly Daily Telegraph column, Mayor of London Boris Johnson supports the rights of bloggers, saying:
“There are some people who wonder whether we need to tame the blogs, to sandpaper them, moderate them – perhaps even to censor them. And as soon as you put it like that you can see what twaddle it is. What we are seeing on our websites, for all its exuberant roughness, is a uniquely healthy and democratic process.”
As regular readers know, former Barnet Council Leader and now MP for Finchley, Mike Freer, could barely disguise his disdain for bloggers whom he suggested masturbated whilst writing about him (he should be so lucky).

Brian Coleman’s contempt for blogging led him to become the first serving Mayor in Barnet Council’s history to be found guilty of breaching the Members Code of Conduct following his vitriolic attack on blogger Rog T.

In these continuing times of shame for the political classes, Messrs Freer and Coleman would do well to remember who is the servant and who the master.

Saturday 8 January 2011

Back to School

The new University term starts for Don’t Call Me Dave on Monday. His homework has been completed on time. His pencils are all sharpened. Lunch box at the ready.

Seasoned observers will have noticed that the output of this blog increased dramatically in recent weeks. However, with the world of academia once again calling, it will now revert to its previous state of semi-hibernation.

Blogging will continue in earnest at Verbum Sapienti.

Friday 7 January 2011

Bloggers say goodbye

Left wing blog, Political Scrapbook, has produced a video featuring some of the high profile political bloggers who threw in the towel last year.

Missing from this list is one of Don’t Call Me Dave’s favourites, Constantly Furious, which came to an end in June.

Iain Dale claims that the reason he stopped blogging is because he’s a media star now darling he has too many other commitments. But DCMD wonders whether we are just observing a shift to localism. If people want national news and opinion, they can obtain it from a wide range of free sources. Good quality local news, however, is much harder to come by. The traditional investigative reporter is fast becoming an icon from a bygone age as local newspapers look to cut costs in the face of falling advertising revenue.

The Barnet Blogosphere is currently in good health - with several new blogs appearing in 2010 - providing an invaluable service for the community with an astonishing depth of coverage. The question is, for how long can this continue? If professional newspapers are losing money and cutting back their coverage, how can amateur bloggers provide the same service for free for the long term?

DCMD does not profess to know the answer to this question, but fears that local political blogging is unsustainable in its current form.


Q. What do you call an Aussie cricketer with 100 by his name?
A. A bowler.

Q. What do you call an Australian who is good with the bat?
A. A vet

Q. What is the most proficient form of footwork displayed by Australian batsmen?
A. The walk back to the pavilion.

Q. Who has the easiest job in the Australian squad?
A. The guy who removes the red ball marks from the bats.

Q. What’s the Australian version of LBW?
A. Lost, Beaten, Walloped.

Q: What did the spectator miss when he went to the toilet?
A: The entire Australian innings.

Q: What is the Australian version of a hat-trick?
A: 3 runs in 3 balls

Q. Why don’t Australian fielders need pre tour travel injections?
A. Because they never catch anything.

Q. Why are Australian cricketers cleverer than Houdini?
A. Because they can get out without even trying.

Q. What do you get if you cross the Australian cricket team with an OXO cube?
A. Laughing stock.

The Australian bobsleigh team have asked the Aussie cricket team for a meeting.
They want to ask their advice about going downhill so fast!

Q. What’s the difference between Ricky Ponting and a funeral director?
A. A funeral director doesn’t keep losing the ashes.

Q. What do you call an Australian with a champagne bottle in his hand?
A. Waiter.

Q. What’s the height of optimism?
A. An Aussie batsman putting on sunscreen.

Q. Why did the Aussie break his leg throwing a ball?
A. He forgot it was chained to his foot.

Q. What’s the difference between an Aussie batsman and a Formula 1 car?
A. Nothing! If you blink you’ll miss them both.

Q. What do Aussie batsmen and drug addicts have in common?
A. Both spend most of their time wondering where their next score will come from.

Q. What did the spectator miss when he went to the toilet?
A. The entire Australian innings.

Billy was at school this morning in the outback and the teacher asked all the children what there fathers did for a living. All the typical answers came out, Fireman, Policeman, Salesman, Captain of industry etc, but Billy was being uncharacteristically quiet and so the teacher asked him about his father. “My father is an exotic dancer in a gay club and takes off all his clothes in front of other men. Sometimes if the offer is really good, he’ll go out with a man, rent a cheap hotel room and let them sleep with him.”

The teacher quickly set the other children some work and took little Billy aside to ask him if that was really true.

“No” said Billy, “He plays cricket for Australia but I was just too embarrassed to say.”

Wednesday 5 January 2011

Money before safety

The myth that speeding fines are all about increasing road safety was finally quashed yesterday with the conviction of Michael Thompson whose ‘crime’ was to alert other drivers of a police radar speed trap.

Mr Thompson was charged with wilfully obstructing a police officer in the course of her duties. Is it really the duty of the police to catch and fine motorists? Whatever happened to the old axiom that prevention is better than cure?

As lawyer David Green writes in his excellent report in the New Statesman, Michael Thompson now has a criminal conviction because he encouraged others to stay within the law.

It is time for the Government to stop using the Police Force as uniformed tax collectors and instead let them get on with their job of catching crooks and villains.

Life lessons from an ad man

Former classics teacher and currently Vice Chairman of Ogilvy Advertising, Rory Sutherland makes the daring assertion that a change in perceived value can be just as satisfying as what we consider “real” value. His conclusion has interesting consequences for how we look at life.

Mock The Week

As shown on Dave over Christmas.

Monday 3 January 2011

How the Archers should have ended

Hillan’s Epiphany

Don’t Call Me Dave was surprised to read Lynne Hillan’s Christmas message to her loyal subjects in the Barnet Press this week, under the heading: ‘We’ll have to follow the example of volunteers and work together if we are to make Barnet better in 2011’.

Is this the same Lynne Hillan who, six months ago, tried to award herself a pay increase of £20,000 only to back down after a public campaign led by Barnet’s Bloggers (but not before she had awarded the cronies who kept her in her job an inflation busting increase of 50%)?

Saturday 1 January 2011

Ethics of Journalism

Don’t Call Me Dave has been shocked at the media reporting of the arrest of his former English teacher Christopher Jefferies on suspicion of murdering architect Joanna Yeates.

Murder is the most horrific crime possible and there is a natural public interest in this story, but under our tried and trusted system of justice, suspects are innocent until proven guilty. To date, Mr Jefferies has not even been charged let alone convicted. As the Attorney General has pointed out, there is now a real risk of any trial being prejudiced by this relentless coverage.

Whilst we expect the gutter press to dig up as much salacious material as possible, it is regrettable that even the self styled quality papers have decided to follow suit, rather than restrict themselves to factual reporting of the case.

Former colleagues and pupils have been quick to lend, or possibly sell, their names for a quote. “He was a bit eccentric” they all say. Well yes he was, but many teachers are. Being eccentric, however, does not make you a murderer.

“He dyed his hair blue.” Why is this relevant?

“We thought he was gay.” It is true that many of us did think so and perhaps he is but, again, why is this relevant? The Police have not stated whether there was any sexual element to the murder and, even if there was, it would not preclude gay men from suspicion. It is just a rather pathetic effort by lazy journalists to spice up a story rather than deal with the facts.

“He was a strict disciplinarian who would lose his temper in class.” Ask any parent prepared to spend £9,000 a term educating their children if they would like it any other way.

It is now being reported that Mr Jefferies bought the flat from a teacher of the nearby preparatory school who is currently serving a prison sentence for molesting a child. Well that’s it then. You’ve got him banged to rights. If you buy property from a convicted criminal, you must be a criminal yourself.

A huge emphasis has been placed on the fact that Christopher Jefferies once taught at nearby Clifton College. That he retired nine years ago is seemingly irrelevant for a media still fighting a class war. Every opportunity has been used to mention that it is a prestigious English public school. If a long retired teacher from a sink comprehensive was accused of a similar crime, would his former school receive such attention?

There is not a scintilla of evidence to link Clifton College to the crime, and it is manifestly unfair to undermine the school in this way and create an atmosphere of fear for parents and pupils.

If Christopher Jefferies is charged and convicted of the crime of murder, he will properly face the full force of the law and will deserve no sympathy from anyone, including the media. But until then, a slightly more responsible attitude to reporting would not go amiss.

Grumpy New Year!

Don’t Call Me Dave wishes all his readers a Happy New Year. At the same time, he intends to have a moan at the £1.8 million cost of the firework display organised by Boris Johnson.

The event was financed by the London Development Agency and the office of the Mayor of London - or taxpayers to use the correct term.

We are in the midst of a financial crisis. Due to the profligacy of Gordon Brown and his discredited Labour regime, the current government has been forced to implement the most severe austerity measures of a generation. Local Authorities the length and breadth of the UK - including the GLA - are similarly being required to make massive budget cutbacks.

There is no question that it was a most fantastic and well organised display, but public servants who face redundancy in the coming weeks, and residents facing the loss of vital front line services will not be impressed that money can none-the-less be provided for a giant party which, quite coincidentally of course, portrays the Mayor in a good light.

We expect our political leaders to lead by example. The Conservative Prime Minister has pointed out that we face tough times in the year ahead. The Conservative Mayor of London, meanwhile, appears to be singing from a different hymn sheet.