Friday, 5 December 2008


Apologies for the economic downturn in blog productivity.

I've noticed this before over the last 25 years, but comedians and comedy writers are often at their busiest during economic downturns. You're never far from my thoughts blog reader, but at this moment there is no space in my head or timetable to do you justice properly. I'll try and come back as soon as possible.

Happy early December...

Monday, 1 December 2008


On 20 Nov, after finally making e-mail contact with the local party, I received this e-mail:

Hi Dave,
Thanks for getting back. I'm interested in what you said about building up an on-line presence. Our election candidate has a website which has not been updated for about a year and I'd be very interested to hear your views on what we could do.
Best wishes

Here was my response, sent on the same day. Still awaiting a reply...

Dear Crouch End Labour Party,

Thanks for getting back to me.

I think what the local party has to do is look at what the Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone has managed to achieve in the five or so years she has been active in Crouch End. Now I know she has unlimited funds and a fantastic aptitude for self-publicity, but what she has aside from all that is passion, and belief in her cause.

My feeling is that Labour dropped off the radar in places like Crouch End because local voters and activists had the passion and belief knocked out of them by three key New Labour policies - hostility to public service workers and the unions, flirtatious courtship of the right-wing press, and the Iraq war. All these helped to overshadow the many achievements under Tony Blair.

When Gordon took over there was a groundswell of goodwill waiting to happen and rejuvenate the party - and we all know what happened next. Now the landscape has changed again.

I get a sense, and it may just be my own prejudices and instincts, that for all the problems everyone in the country is facing, there is a feeling that people are looking to Labour, and Gordon Brown, for solutions. In other words, the passion and belief is back.

So this brings me to our prospective candidate, and her lack of website. I can only speak for the area I live in, but there are so many things going on round here, so many things that could be addressed, things that should be natural Labour territory but which we are leaving to the Lib Dems to deal with. How is Crouch End going to deal with the recession? How many more local shops of value will have to close? How can we help the local traders? Can we at least join in on their local debates? Do we have any influence over landlords charging excessive rents? How green is Crouch End? Are we doing anything collectively to improve it? Are we happy with the community police?

And while we're at it, why don't we show Haringey a little support? Show off the Library, and Park Road Pools, and the new wing at Coleridge, all the good stuff that Haringey does that gets drowned under the bad publicity. It's all very well for Lynne Featherstone to sound off calling for heads to roll over baby P, we should be making sure the other side is heard, the huge support for the head of Haringey social services, the problems with reports and recommendations.

There are so many questions, issues that our candidate should be adressing even if she doesn't yet have an answer to any of them. We should be building up a massive e-mail address list, starting with members who pass their e-mails on to other local people, getting the local shops, schools etc involved.

Sorry to ramble on, hope it all makes sense

Best wishes


Monday, 24 November 2008


Well finally, contact has been officially made. Six weeks after joining the Labour Party, I received this letter from my neighbouring ward. After informing me of the sad passing away of the local councillor, the letter got down to business.

“Sadly our attentions now have to turn to electing a new councillor… I’m writing to all Labour members in Haringey to invite you to seek selection to be Labour’s candidate in this by-election…if you are interested in standing, you must complete and return the enclosed form by 5pm on Monday 24 November.”

In other words, welcome back to the Labour Party, do you fancy becoming a candidate? Now I realise that I'm registered in Haringey, so everyone remotely involved with the Labour Party here is deemed to be in possession of two horns and a tail, but do you think there might perhaps be the tiniest sort of vetting process at work? No one has ever been so forward to me on a first date.

I'm thinking of filling in the form anyway, just to see whether I get chosen or not. After asking for the usual personal details, the form continues as follows:
Gender: Male (sorry!)
Ethnic Origin: White (sorry again)
Details of Disability if applicable: Ha ha! I've got a hearing aid! Result!

Labour Party Experience: Hardly any. I went out canvassing in 1983. Once. And in 1997 I drove some old people to the Polling Station.

Other Life Experience: Wife and three kids ('family man'). No previous convictions. Stand-up comedian. (far too self-aware to spout a party line in public).

Relevant Knowledge of Seven Sisters Ward and local government: Been to the planning office a couple of times. It's very nice.

Communication skills: Marginally better than Crouch End Labour Party. (Still waiting to hear)

Campaigning Skills and Experience: See Labour Party Experience.

I wonder if that would get me a place on the short list? I'd send the form off only I'm worried that no one else will apply and I'll end up becoming Councillor Dave of Seven Sisters. In which case maybe it's best that they know about the Cayman Island account and the second wife in Thailand...

Thursday, 20 November 2008


Oh well, it's all clear now.

Turns out the reason I've been getting no comments for the past few weeks isn't because no one's reading the blog. (Although surely that has something to do with it). It's because I had the wrong default settings. Computers are clearly to me what anyone who earns under 50K a year is to George Osborne ie utterly beyond my comprehension.

So keep those tirades of blogosphere invective cascading in this direction. Before I cocked up the settings, I'm afraid to say that all the comments I received were disappointingly erudite and well-considered. This is a blog on the internet okay? I want bile! spelling mistakes! Abbreviations! And the only punctuation I'm looking for is exclamation marks!!!


Wednesday, 19 November 2008


My fellow Conservatives, what I am about to say to you today should come as no surprise. When I first became leader, and I began to talk about the importance of climate change, and how there was such a thing as society, and how we would not tolerate racial discrimination, you looked on me with suspicion.

But you also saw that for the first time I was beginning to attract a new kind of person to the Conservative Party. The kind of person who isn’t yet eligible for a bus pass. The kind of person who doesn’t necessarily look as though he might send letters in green biro to the Daily Mail.

You remained suspicious, but as Labour became less popular, and we started to build a lead over them in local and bye-elections, you stopped minding so much. Even your Chief Flag Bearer Lord Tebbit cooled his criticisms.

And for a while, it meant that I didn’t need to challenge you any more. It looked as though we were so clearly on course for an election victory that I might have been able to become Prime Minister without having to create a ‘Clause Four’ moment. My Bullingdon buds George and Boris were proving a hit with the neutrals, and Gordon Brown seemed to be taking popularity lessons from my predecessors Howard and Duncan Smith.

Well, as we all know the landscape has changed. Labour, and Brown, are being given another chance. There’s no point repeating the truth, that Brown’s personal promotion of unfettered city greed did so much to get us here in the first place. After all, to reiterate these facts only serves to remind people that these now utterly discredited policies were pioneered by Margaret Thatcher, Nigel Lawson and Ken Clarke.

So how should we respond to this new situation? The easiest thing would be for me to revert to type. To call for spending cuts as the only way to help reduce taxes. To show up Labour as the party of tax and spend. To create a climate of fear about the pound, and the economy. Hague, Howard, IDS, they all began with good intentions, each one soon returned to fear, racism, self-interest, the 80s siren calls that still played well to the dwindling minority of loyal grass roots voters.

But I’ve gone too far for that. I’ve moved our party too far into the 21st century to allow us to return to the 19th. I believe that to take on Labour, instead of trying to argue with them, we show the people that there are alternative ways of saving our economy. So that is why today, I am reviving one of the few policies that Margaret Thatcher advocated but which she failed to see through.

From today, I shall argue that Britain must, as soon as is humanly possible, sign up to the Euro.

The pound has been in more or less terminal decline for half a century, and frankly we should have joined at Margaret’s first attempt. Now we have to accept that, for better or for worse, in today’s global economy, global solutions are required. This is what Gordon Brown never tires of repeating, but he remains convinced that he alone knows what those solutions are.

Margaret, for all her hectoring aginst Europe, was a pragmatist at heart. She also signed us up to the Channel Tunnel, a move that has brought us closer to Europe physically and emotionally.

Yes, Margaret knew how to tickle the tummies of our grass roots supporters when it came to bashing Jean Foreigner, but deep down she was the most Europe-friendly Prime Minister Britain has ever had – and she did it because for her winning elections was ultimately far more important than taking a stand for Britain.

Europe is our future. At times they may seem bureaucratic and over-zealous in their regulations, but generally we are grateful for their directives on work, human rights, the lives we lead and the food we consume. To quote from one of my all-time heroes,
“He said ‘d’you want it pasteurised cos pasteurised is best?’
She said ‘Ernie I’ll be happy if it comes up to me chest.’”

Friday, 14 November 2008


Yes that's right, I set up this blog back in July as a little experiment, first of all to see if I could write four or five short articles a week about one topic (so far so good), and second because I really believed Labour might be able to choose a new leader, as the current one was proving so hopeless.

Then he became an international hero, saviour of the world etc - and a prolific letter-writer (see previous blogs). While I didn't become a convert overnight, my enduring fondness for the man and his principles at least made me believe he deserved another chance.

But reading the newspapers and websites today, I'm reminded what it is about Gordon Brown that makes him no longer the right man to lead the Labour Party to the next election. God, I even almost typed 'election defeat' without thinking there, that phrase might as well be one word.

Gordon, schoolmaster of all he surveys and Professor-in-Waiting to the world, will 'tell' the assembled Ministers and leaders this weekend what they need to do to make sure the world economy stays afloat. Okay, as world leaders go he has a better grasp of economics than most. He's proved himself, as even his harshest critics admit, to be a calm man in a crisis. But there are two other crucial requirements now, and he is sorely lacking in both areas.

One - he needs to show humility. There has been not the slightest hint that the problems of the last few weeks might have had anything to do with Gordonomics - specific policies that encouraged the city greed that brought us to this place, along with the ruthless pursuit of economic growth at any cost.

I can see why in political terms a public apology hands his enemies a lifeline while they're currently wondering how to defeat him, but a private acknowledgment that there are other countries - notably those signed up to the Euro, and those who have continued to innovate with their economies - who also know a thing or two about how to keep their countries economically viable.

So two - he needs to listen. Not to the people who have had his ear for the last ten years - Irwin Seltzer, Rupert Murdoch, Paul Dacre, Margaret Thatcher, people who like him and most of the bankers have learned nothing from this greedy world they created. People from other countries who have their own ideas about how to get out of this mess.

Today's rant is pushed for time. Have a nice weekend y'all.

Thursday, 13 November 2008


Now I'm not trying to be flippant, I've been a freelance writer and performer for 25 years so I've had my fair share of anxious weeks and months wondering if I'll ever work again... but could we just stop for a moment and try and look at the current depressing unemployment figures from a different point of view?

Everyone is saying things are looking really bad for the economy, and for economies the world over, and of course economies are very big things that push and pull in all directions. But what I'm talking about is people. Individuals.

Now what I'm about to say goes against all my instincts as a lifelong Trade Unionist, and a believer that people should be paid properly for the work they do, but how about instead of making one person 100 per cent unemployed, why not make two people 50 per cent unemployed? I know, it's called job share.

These giant companies like BT and Virgin, for example, that are planning to shed thousands iof jobs. It shouldn't be beyond the realms of human capability for the people who run these companies to devise working situations where they could have two people working half-time, they're paying one less wage but they're not adding to the unemployment figures, they're putting one less person on benefits and giving everyone a chance to go out and do something useful in their lives - whether it's find anopther job, voluntary work, involvement in some local cause.

I know it sounds utterly fanciful and is so totally not thought through - this is, after all, a blog, so just be thankful I'm not writing 'that dude is so owt of tuch lol' - but if your own job is at risk which would you prefer - a 50 per cent pay cut plus 20 extra hours in the day, or a 100 per cent cut and 40 hours?

Oh well, back to comedy. Got bills to pay...