Our Man In Blackburn

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by jonwilly, Mar 18, 2005.

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  1. Gents I am not a cut and paste man by nature but this was passed onto me by our 85 year old retired Major late RE. Bothers him and it bothers me.
    Domestic & Regional News

    ::: News Archive :::

    March 17, 2005


    Source: The Guardian
    Uploaded/Updated: Fri Mar 18 00:56:52 2005

    Can an ex-ambassador to Uzbekistan beat Jack Straw in the general election? Craig Murray launches his campaign

    The idea of my standing against Jack Straw in Blackburn at the general election was born in conversation with Andrew Gilligan. Gilligan was making a documentary about torture and he and I were discussing Straw's decision to approve the use by MI6 of information obtained under torture by the Uzbek security services. I was the British ambassador to Uzbekistan until October, when I was removed from my post after criticising this practice. How could one hold Straw accountable for his decision? Or, for that matter, for the WMD dossier (he is, after all, in charge of MI6), or for the illegal war on Iraq? I declared I would go ahead and challenge Straw in his own backyard.

    Taking the train to Blackburn, I arrive at midnight. It is bitterly cold with sharp specks of snow in the air. I haven't booked a hotel, figuring that Blackburn is the sort of place to have a big old Victorian station hotel. I have visions of a large bed, velvet curtains and piping-hot, cast-iron radiators. Instead, I am met at the station by several vans of very cold-looking policemen. I ask one where I might find a hotel.

    "You'll be lucky," he replies.

    After a frozen plod through the snow, I come to a mini-cab firm, and a very chirpy driver called Ajit. He explains that the Blackburn Rovers v Burnley FA Cup 5th round replay has just finished, the biggest event in Blackburn for a long time. The hotels will be full with supporters. He's right; I end up sleeping in the Preston Novotel.

    The next morning I take a taxi into town to find a vacant shop I can rent as my HQ. There are several suitable-looking sites available and they all seem to use the same agent. I telephone the company and explain what I want, and why. They reply that commercial property owners in Blackburn would not want to be associated with any campaign against Jack Straw. I ask them, all the same, to check the availability of two shops. Then I buy a local newspaper, where I read that a Blackburn Labour councillor has just been convicted of rigging postal ballots among the Muslim community, and told to expect a custodial sentence.

    Blackburn's Muslim community is primarily Gujarati, and has traditionally been a bulwark of Straw's support. By chance, Straw went on an official visit to Gujarat only last month, where he made much of Home Office proposals to make it easier to get visas to visit relatives. I have put in a request to the FCO under the Freedom of Information Act for papers relating to the genesis of this visit; doubtless these will clear Straw's name of any electioneering purpose.

    There is much speculation that the war on terror will turn the Muslim vote against Straw, but the ennobled local leadership - he has made two patriarchs of his constituency's Gujarati community members of the House of Lords - remains firmly behind him. There is a thought that disillusioned young Muslims might split from the leadership; this is where the postal ballot comes in.

    The great disadvantage of a secret ballot is that, whatever social pressure you may have exerted, you have no idea what the individual does in the ballot box. With a postal ballot, community patriarchs can insist on inspecting the ballots before voting. Or they can even collect up all the postal ballots and fill them in themselves, which is precisely what the Blackburn Labour councillor was convicted of doing.

    At lunchtime I am surprised by a phone call from a television crew from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. They are making a documentary about me, but I thought I had given them the slip. Evidently not; they are at Blackburn station. For the rest of the day, they follow me around.

    The next morning brings good news. The two shops I specified are both available. They both belong to the local brewer, Thwaites. The one I choose has two pubs to its immediate right and one to its left. Only one of them is a going concern.

    This is one of Blackburn's most striking features. It has an astonishing number of ex-pubs. Some have been converted to other uses, but many more are derelict. I wonder why there were so many and what factors caused this cull. Something else I have yet to learn.

    I return to London to find messages waiting from Martin Bell and Brian Eno; both want to help my campaign. Then I receive news from the estate agent. Thwaites has decided it will not let me rent any of its property in Blackburn. Its directorsfeel it would not be in the company's interests to allow its premises to be used to campaign against Jack Straw.

  2. I wish him luck - I grew up in B'burn and would dearly love that cnut Straw out on his ear; only reason he's there is that he was originally Barbara Castle's bag carrier...

  3. anyone for Big brother :evil:
  4. Blackburn is a strange and scary place in itself, all communities are enclosed and shut off, mainly from the rest of the UK as many peoples view of Blackburn is seeing it at a distance when traveling on the M65. No one visits for long.
    On the odd occasion I have to go there (mainly to shop at Outdoor Action) it always surprises me. It has a huge Asian population yet very, very few restaurants. At night the all of the shops draw down metal shutters and make the place look like a giant rat maze experiment. The stink of desperation is everywhere. Almost everyone I know who works in Blackburn lives elsewhere. The alienation is finalized by the local council becoming an independent authority (they are not classed as Lancashire but Blackburn and Darwen (An 'Excellent' local authority - OFSTED) as it says on the signs as brush its outskirts until you reach the reassuring Lancashire boundary sign a few miles down the road. Incidentally, Blackpool is no longer in Lancashire either), but both authorities are suffering the same fate, which is huge failures in education and council services. Straws cynical jolly off to India was widely reported in the local news up here, as he is papping himself about the next election as the vote rigging scandal was not just confined to Blackburn and Birmingham, but was endemic amongst a lot of communities in the UK.
    I wish Craig Murray the best of luck, but every community in East Lancashire has their own agendas which mainly include getting as much cash as they can for doing as little as possible, and getting them to change their ways will be a task I would not relish.
  5. I was born and bred in the North West just south of Blackburn. The old industrial heartland, the birthplace of the industrial revolution.
    Cotton and Coalmines where big massive employers for folk who's ancestors where only too recently farmworkers .
    Your working class and you vote Labour, I was taught that by my peer group as I grew up.
    As a young man I could see there was no future in the engineering industry to which I was apprenticed, building Locomotives, so I took one of those life time decisions and at 19 joined up.
    Industrial decay came slow and steady and Maggei finished it off. What she did was not nice but no male politician had the balls nessasary. She threw an entire older generation on the scrap heap.
    But it had to be done for the good and benift of the country.
    Blur has inherited from the hard work and bold decissions that Maggei took but now his Iron Chancellor is reverting to type and the spend spend spend of all Labour governments is taking over.
    The most corrupt government since Lloyd George , unfortunately the great unwashed will never notice let alone aknowledge.
    john williams
  6. Quite true. Many Labour voters (especially up here) vote not through what they want from a political party, but from generational peer pressure. One community votes for NL because they continue give good handouts and if you skive from working long enougth will pay fro everything as you get re-classified as disabled.
    They other newer communities vote for them because they too get hand outs and great dispensation for bringing several generations of their family over to live here because of how the govt runs its immigration policy.
    Bizzarely enongh Liverpool was staunchly Conservative until the early 70's when there was plenty of employment, then the socialists infaltrated the trade unions and look what happened.
  7. Oh yes disabliaty. As a young squaddei home on leave I used to use one Pub, best beer in town, and got to know all the regulars, The D Day men. Be in early tomorrow John if you want to stand at the bar, Why ? D Day uhu!, Dole Day.
    Bar pack at opening time and you got the full SP on how to claim and methods used.
    Nerves, it's mi Nerves Doctor can't sleep, shout at kids no sex drive all the pressure at work.
    And it's mi back Doctor, pain oh the pain.
    Everone assumed I was just in Th'army for a couple of years and would soon join the gang.
    john detest the bastards
  8. That, boys and girls, is what you get for voting in a labour government. They talk about equal rights etc but all they were ever interested in was getting into and keeping power.

    They will bribe anyone and everyone to keep that power, as the above posts, amongst other things, prove. Any of you folks out there who actually vote labour - enjoy the fruits of your victory. If they win the next election, all the money you have made on your house will dissappear within 3 years of that victory. Rising taxes, falling consumer spending and increasing unemployment caused by it will see to that.

    And, for those too blinkered to know it already, those tax rises will not improve public services, just as those tax increases already imposed have so far failed to do anything (anything AT ALL) to improve public services. You got an NHS dentist? (Mine just stopped being NHS). Your school teachers saying they have LESS paperwork? Your policeforce NOT buried under a pile of Labours f*&cking bureaucracy? (And if they are not, then please tell every other force how they achieved that miracle!) And lets not mention the pension system they have ruined, manufacturing they have ignored and allowed to lose 1 million jobs. (That, by the way, is what labour call economic competence!)

    So, go ahead all you labour voters, bleat about how Maggie consigned a generation to the scrapheap, talk about ERM and property crash. Coz, if labour win, they will most certainly make all of that look like a sunday picnic. Vote labour and see where it gets you and the country. I pray not to be here if that happens.

    Labour - they lie (WMD anoyone, for starters), they cheat (for their own benefit - nanny visa for you my lover?) and they most certainly steal - from anyone who has the decency to bother having a full time job. Incidentally, did anyone know that a government survey recently made the 'shocking' discovery that a married couple with children would actually be better of (ie richer to you labour folks) if they separated and stopped working, because then they would earn over 40K a year in benefits. That is more than me and my wife earn now. That is another one of those economic competence things then? And remind me why they ought to be in government again?

    God, I really, REALLY hate labour.
  9. Phew El gringo, can I vote for you??
  10. main reason I left UK was because labour came to power.......can't afford to return now anyway........you get what u vote for...........America went to war with England [no taxation without representation] I'm still taxed by UK gov without any benefits whatsoever so will continue to put my 5 pen'orth in until they disenfranchise me. feel better now I've had my moan!
    ps...........Good luck to the fella standing against man of straw.
  11. Hate labour 'El Gringo? hate labour.. :D .. gawd I REEEEEEEEEALLY HATE and DESPISE every blood sucking one of those tossers in Goverment when you consider the damage they have caused to this fine country of ours not to mention the total disrespect they have for those who put them there in the first place!!!!!! I just hope that the good people of this country finally wake up to Nu Labour and kick em into obscurity next time round before it is too late, Blair and Brown have spent the last 2 terms surviving (and throwing away) on the leagacy left by the Conservatives

    Heres a thought ... :roll: ... Next Queens Birthday Parade (Or any other time the RHA Boys bring the guns out to play in the park 8) ) hows about swapping the blank rounds for a few airbursts and a spot of 'Fire for Effect' on that c*nt Hoon and his Dear Leader.....?

    Ok rant over......
  12. Snapper - I could not agree more. It is a shame the majority of the country didn't see it that way in '01.

    Like the fire for effect idea too. One question tho' - do we have to restrict that to TCH? Or could we include TCB and TCP?
  13. Speedy/Jonwilly - Just got back to Singapore last night after a quick visit to the UK to catch up with family still living in Blackburn. To say the area is depressing is an understatement. Labour & Straw in particular have done nothing for the people there but as you quite rightly say there's an inherent trend for people to vote Labour regardless.

    Will also be keeping an eye out on how Craig Murray gets on and wish him well, but knowing the folk round that neck o' the woods he's more chance of p*ssing into the wind and not getting wet!

  14. My old constiuance has never voted other then Labour since Labour first came into being.
    Even the locals joke that if labour put a Pig on the ticket it would win.
  15. Daft thing is that I remember as a kid looking at the local council in B/Burn - fairly good mix of tory, lib and labour at the time; even recall a tory mayor at one time. It's just at general election time that it all goes to c*ck and Labour weigh the votes rather than counting them...