Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Social Cleansing

"The longest suicide note in history" it may have been, but Labour's 1983 manifesto could also have been the last one to give any prospect of hope for a major part of the country's sense of well-being. I don't mean a feeling of safety from being overwhelmed by the Communist Bloc - the electorate took good note of that particular bogeyman and "rescued" us from him. I mean the very homes and society we exist in.

A while back I actually had a professional reason for listening to a 1983 Party Election Broadcast with Roy Hattersley et al trying to convince the Britain of 1983 to vote Labour. The party of the time was apparently unelectable, something to do with being peacenicks, pwned by the unions and being led by a man who wore a donkey jacket. One of their promises - we can of course only take this with the same kind of credence we would give to a modern party's pre-election promises, on, say, tuition fees - was to stimulate the economy, increase and ease societal tensions by commencing a programme of building new and better housing.

For various reasons then, they didn't get in. Thatcher did something clever and got people to buy the houses they lived in, making those that could speculators and capitalists in their own small way. She sold us shares in our utilities and suddenly many more people gave a toss about shares and property prices, jealous of the neighbours and lured into the kind of greed and speculation that the rich have always been able to afford.

Then, in a virtuous circle, the local authorities used this money in turn to build more and better-quality social and high-density housing, thus ensuring a future of shared stakeholding and civic pride in stable communities of mixed-income citizens.

Except they didn't. The f-----g w-----s. F--k knows what they pissed it all away on. New town halls and offices, certainly. But surely even that doesn't account for anywhere near what the windfall must've been. Who knows, maybe they weren't allowed to ring-fence it for housing. Maybe their budgets from central Govt. were reduced by the amount of money they got for selling their houses.

Upshot is, of course, that thanks to the Tories, the local authorities, New Labour (who to their infernal shame completely ignored this problem F-----G A-------S) and whoever else, there is not now, and there's not much of a plan for, such a building programme, which is now overdue by almost 2 generations (definitely 2 generations of the kind of over-fertile and pro-ceptive lower-social spectrum dwellers who ironically make such an overwhelming demand on such resources). In fact there is to be an anti-stimulus of a kind not seen since just before the 1920's depression.

Now, having been utterly ignored by the party supposed to represent or at least respect their interests (f-----g Labour f---s), and in the current "situation", those who rely on social and community-oriented housing have no-one as their champion, apart from, wait for it, The London Evening Standard.

Two articles today illustrate the diabolical and infernal situation we find ourselves in. The first is piece of sheer audacity and unwitting tragi-comedy, coming from a politician grounded in a history of local authority mindlessness of the kind that ended up killing Victoria Climbie and Peter Connelly. She's afraid of London turning into a middle-class ghetto. Lest we forget, she was a councillor in Islington for a decade. She was also a higher-ranking member of the governing party for the recent decade. You really couldn't make this up.

The second article is a bit late, as the process has been in effect for years already, but at least it's there in print. It makes the grim point with less tragic irony than Hodge can provide that any kind of "community" or "society" that remains in London will, unless a drastic turnabout occurs, be "cleansed" of its poor, who in turn will be shipped out to new bleak and spiritless ghettoes of their own, of rabbit-hutch and pebble-dashed ignomony. The people whose ancestors got the arse-end of the blitz or the empire, who were given meagre resources to share as newcomers arrived and who have been thoroughly unserved by all authorities, will now be exiled from the places to which they at least gave some kind of personality and spirit. They are being replaced, for as long as the current mileu exists, by more and more people whose only shared attribute is a rough correlation between their bank accounts. Welcome to the non-community.

F-----G C---S. Damn them all to hell.

Friday, 15 October 2010

I had a reply from my MP about Cycling and Cycling England ...

He said:
"Dear Tim Lennon,

Thank you for your email. I am an advocate of green transport, particularly
cycling. I don't yet know that Cycling England is to be closed, but
regardless, I accept that the Government will have to do many unpopular
things in the coming months, and for good reason.

But the Government takes cycling seriously. For example, to assist increased
provision of cycle training in England, the Department for Transport has
awarded grants of over £6 million in 2010-11 for "Bikeability" training.

The Government has also committed to providing £5 million to schools through
School Sports Partnerships in England to provide further Bikeability
opportunities. A further £500,000 has been made available in 2010-11 to
provide bursary grants for new instructors to help meet the increased demand
for Bikeability training. Schemes such as CyclingCity, CyclingTowns,
Skyride and 3 Feet Please are also proving successful locally and are
helping to promote cycling as a viable transport alternative.

The Government will be reviewing all spending throughout its Comprehensive
spending review, due to be published on October 20. Cycling England will be
considered throughout the review, alongside all Government expenditure

Best wishes,

Zac Goldsmith"

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Letter to my MP re Cycling England

Email: timlennon@mac.com

Thursday 14 October 2010

Dear Mr.Goldsmith,

I'm writing on seeing that Cycling England is due to be cut in the
'bonfire of the quangos'. As per our previous discussion, this seems to
indicate that actually the Government has no real interest in
maintaining a national body, national standards, or national programmes
for cycling.

Cycling England is responsible for successes like the Bikeability
course and even the DoT's number suggest it is excellent value for
money (http://www.savecyclingengland.org/).

It's really hard for me to see how abolishing this very cheap body
(around £200k, apparently) is going to provide any value whatsoever for
our country, and I'd appreciate it if you would pursue the ministers
involved to understand just how they think devolving CE's role to local
authorities is in any way going to provide the same value or presence
that Cycling England has.

If you need more data or info to support discussion with them, please
don't hesitate to get back to me.

Yours sincerely,

Tim Lennon.

Monday, 4 October 2010

In response to TfL's call for feedback on the cycling superhighways and the year of cycling

Dear Mr. Jardine,

I'm writing to briefly provide some feedback on the cycling superhighways.

I live in Richmond, and thus have no immediate access to the highways, but I have followed extensive debate, videos and articles about them.

The general points I'd like to make are as follows:
1. None of the highways appears to comprise of a mandatory zone - i.e. one which may nto be used by bicycles, meaning that cyclists must still constantly assert their road position / rights. This is not, to my mind, a good way to encourage new cyclists.
2. None of the highways appears to provide a single unbroken route. They are regularly broken for parking, turns, and other car-centric road design. Once again, this is no way to encourage novices to get on their bikes.
3. All of the routes seem based on shared infrastructure - cyclists are expected to mix it up with cars as equals, when this clearly isn't the case.
4. I've seen no evidence that there is a link between the very low plans to increase cycling in London, and the volume of cycling traffic on the highways: in other words, do we have any conception that the highways will deal with a quadrupling of cycling traffic?

To be honest, I'm generally disappointed at the failure to consider independent infrastructure for cycling, and I'm disappointed that the overall goal (1.5m journeys) is so unambitious.


Tim Lennon.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Cycle helmets and cycle hire - a bad mix

Letter to Brake: Dear Sir/Madam,

I’m just writing after a fellow cyclist alerted me to what is apparently a new campaign on pushing cycle helmets for the cycle hire bikes in London. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/wirecopy/8020258/Boris-bike-scheme-urged-to-include-helmets-after-two-riders-injured.html and http://twitter.com/markbikeslondon)

No doubt you’ll be hearing from CTC, but I urge you to look at countries where a lot of people cycle – the Netherlands and Denmark, for example. A tiny minority of adults or children use cycle helmets in these countries, and yet cyclists are rarely injured. As Mark observes, if the roads in London are so dangerous, you’d be better calling for them to safer for non-vehicular users: mandating helmets for a cycle hire scheme is a sure way to murder it: http://ibikelondon.blogspot.com/2010/07/why-bike-hire-and-helmets-dont-mix.html

While I appreciate you have the interests of individual cyclists in mind, by suggesting they need helmets, it is demonstrably in the wider interest that more people cycle more often, and cycle helmets is no way to encourage this (http://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=4688 as an example).

I earnestly support your overall aim – to make our roads a safer place – but I can’t stress strongly enough that mandating cycle helmet use like this is of no value to the promotion of a healthier country and a healthier cycling environment.


Tim Lennon.

Friday, 9 July 2010

We've got your number Israel

Continued quoting of Israeli apologists for ethnic cleansing, murder, terror, torture, vile persecution, racism, apartheid, hate crime, attempting to erase / change history, theft, greed, in the midst of any news item about the region, is a pain to endure.

Today 9th July 2010, on the Guardian website, this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/09/foreign-office-blog-lebanon-hezbollah-fadlallah

A shame that Britain feels the need for such action, still lapdogging it up to the US and Israel.

Luckily for Guardian readers, the background and pedigree of the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman quoted is cleared up rather quickly. For a start, he is of course clearly a supporter of ethnic cleansing, murder, terror, torture, vile persecution, racism, apartheid, hate crime, attempting to erase / change history, theft, greed, simply by virtue of being a member of the Israeli government today.

This is because we have your number, Israel, and we know the truth about everything, Zionism, 1948 and all the outrages since, how it works and why you currently exist. Witness Walt and Mearsheimer, Finkelstein, Pappe, to name but 3. It's over, everybody knows you're hanging on to your stinking money just as long as you can, you just keep pretending you're not an evil empire.

But further, from this story: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/16/world/middleeast/16mideast.html?pagewanted=2

Mr Palmor's own casual attitude to value of life and peace can be determined: "Yigal Palmor, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, went further, saying that most of the United Nations agency’s staff in Gaza were local Palestinians and alleging that a “large part are affiliated one way or another with Hamas.” "

Mr Palmor's weak attempt to deceive on the nature of the Gaza blockade and the Freedom flotilla on his own webpage: http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/HumanitarianAid/Palestinians/MFA_Spokesman_Gaza_flotilla_24-May-2010.htm From which:

"MFA Spokesman Yigal Palmor

Ships forcing their way into Gaza will do nothing to aid the people there. Existing land crossings are more than capable of meeting their needs.

International aid organizations and the private sector of Gaza ensure that all the necessary food, medicine and clothing are provided to the Strip via Israel. In a typical week, 15,000 tons of supplies enter Gaza. Truckloads of meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, milk powder, baby food, wheat and other staples arrive in Gaza on a daily basis. Building materials are also shipped in, when monitored by International organization so as not to be commandeered by Hamas for the fortification of bunkers.

Since the ceasefire in January 2009, well over a million tons of humanitarian supplies entered Gaza from Israel - that is almost a ton of aid for each man, woman and child in the Strip.The land crossings remain the most efficient system to transfer goods to Gaza, and the flotilla organizers are well aware of this fact. The organizers also know that since December 2008, their ships have been denied permission to land. Israel has invited the organizers of the flotilla to use the land crossings, in the same manner as all the reputable international organizations.

However, they are less interested in bringing in aid than in promoting their radical agenda, playing into the hands of Hamas provocations. While they have wrapped themselves in a humanitarian cloak, they are engaging in political propaganda and not in pro-Palestinian aid. If the organizers were truly interesting in providing humanitarian aid - as opposed to engaging in publicity stunts - they would use the proper channels to ensure delivery of any supplies."

For corrective and to judge Palmor's value as an educated commentator, the above should be read against the UN , WHO and others evaluation of the blockade, summarised here:

The flotilla of course succeeded in achieving a slight relaxation in the list of items banned from entering, described by the UN as a step forward: http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE65G26520100617

"Richard Miron, spokesman for United Nations Middle East envoy Robert Serry, said they were encouraged by Israel's move, adding, "we hope that today's decision by the security cabinet is a real step forward towards meeting the needs in Gaza."The United States, Israel's main backer, said the decision was a positive step but welcomed further loosening. "

So it seems Mr Palmor's judgement of the efficacy of the flotilla or the need for supplies to be increased is somewhat the minority view.

But wait a moment! At the end of the Guardian article, he admits that Frances Guy is an honourable woman!

Re-reading the quotes, it's clear to me that evidence points to the fact that Palmor actually supports her views on Fadlallah, and just at the end of the interview, is actually changing his mind, and has decided that Fadlallah was a man of peace indeed!

Yes you are right Sir!

Practically anyone who opposes your murderous state is a person of peace indeed! Congratulations! A wonderful thing when a man takes the righteous path.

Please contact me when the reparations are finalised. One trillion Euros, to be shared out equally and handed personally to every Palestinian, by an Israeli supporter accused of crimes against humanity, immediate return of refugees to refurbished lands and homes, one man one vote, and the cutting of current Israel into two halves should do it.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Andrew Wakefield is a discredited quack


I’m writing to all of you because I’m very concerned at the choice of content in the latest magazine I’ve seen.

There are five pages discussing immunisation. Four of these are used by practitioners who have a clear financial interest in stoking concern over the use of immunisation, with one of the writers even attempting to resuscitate debate over Andrew Wakefield.

Just a reminder: Wakefield has been struck off. He’s been censured by the BMA. His article on autism and MMR has been withdrawn by the Lancet. Ten of the twelve co-authors have now disowned the article and the research. No-one, in extensive research, has been able to support his linking of MMR and autism.

The presentation of the two longer articles and the magazine itself very clearly attempt to suggest that there is a debate over the efficacy and value of vaccination, and also using shameful quackery to stoke fear and uncertainty among readers – I wonder that we didn’t see a suggestion that the four humours actually govern our resistance to infection. Just a couple of examples of the poor, inconsistent reasoning in the articles by Halvorsen and Donegan:

1. Jayne Donegan states “...the WHO states that [apart from clean drinking water] no other health intervention has reduced disease and mortaility as effectively and safely as immunisation” and then goes on to suggest that vaccination is pointless: “the mortality rate for tuberculosis fell no differently in countries [that did use BCG versus those that didn’t].”
2. Frankly, she’s a homeopath, which has no scientific basis, whatsoever – just like her lame, cosy “if you give your children ... time and love they will be much more resistant to disease ...”
3. “If children are ... given lots of clear fluids, and their fevers and mucus let flow ...” – perhaps she’d like to re-introduce the four humours as a theory of medicine? Or maybe real doctors, when seeing an ill child, stick corks in every orifice?
4. “She’s the only doctor in the country whose opinion on vaccination has been tested in legal proceedings.” Who cares? I want my doctors to have opinions tested in science, by their peers
5. For Halvorsen, measles, mumps and rubella are just brief obstacles in childhood – according to him, vaccinating against mumps in childhood makes you more likely to get it as an adult!
6. He’s also red hot on aluminium in vaccines – do you think people maybe research the effects before they put these additives in? Does he bother indicating what he thinks constitutes acceptable levels of aluminium? No, he just likes spreading a bit of fear, uncertainty and doubt, so lucky NCT punters can hop along to his dedicated children’s immunisation service.
7. Vaccine damage payments unit paid out 1,367 times between 1978 and 2005. So, in 27 years, when we probably dispensed 50m or more vaccinations, That’s about 0.0027%. In fact, even if they’d paid out 10 times that number it’s still less than 0.03%. Wouldn’t that be a more meaningful statistic to tell worried parents?
8. “The risk of developing asthma is halved if the first DTP vaccine is delayed... ” Halved from what? Is it already such a low risk that by admitting this, his argument is rendered meaningless?
9. MMR. The “campaign” to discredit Wakefield? What a shameful piece of journalism. Wakefield is a discredited researcher, disowned even by the co-writers of the paper.
10. “The increasing number of vaccines given to babies may be contributing to the rapid rise in numbers of children developing immune-related diseases.” At least he’s honest enough to admit there’s no consistent research on this, but then attempts to knock down his straw man by dismissively quoting the department of health.

I’m extremely concerned that NCT Richmond thinks this content is suitable material for our magazine. Quackery like this should have died with the advent of scientific method, and should not be promulgated through magazines like ours. I’d like to know what the branch is planning to do to ensure that, if we want to present alternate views such as these again, we:
a) Don’t pretend it’s a two sided debate with views and facts evenly divided.
b) Make clear the official guidance.
c) Provide proper links / resources, rather than cherry-picking links which only point to (for example) damages claims or negative points.


Tim Lennon.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Historical Precedent for Lib-Cons Constitutional Change

After the 1933 German election, Hitler, the leader of the minority Nazi Party, ignored the sizable socialist opposition and formed a coalition with a minor party to achieve a 51.8% parliamentary majority.

Hitler immediately passed ‘The Enabling Act’, which effectively raised the bar so that his coalition could not be removed from power in Parliament without a two-thirds majority of the votes. This supposedly was for the stability of the Nazi coalition government. The ‘Enabling Act’ was originally brought in to provide stability in Germany for the following four years. We all know what happened thereafter.

Does this situation sound familiar today?

Whilst not in any way, shape or form, comparing the Lib-Cons to the Nazi Party, it proves how dangerous it is to mess with the constitution for party political purposes, especially without the approval of the electorate.

All supporters of democracy of whatever political opinion should combine to block this dangerous constitutional change.

Michael Baldry

Cycling shouldn't be this hard.

To BBC Look East (look.east@bbc.co.uk)

Also at: http://ipayroadtax.com/?p=399

Dear Sir/Madam,

I'm writing to complain about your feature on 20th May about the cyclist knocked from his bicycle. After showing the footage, your reporter moved straight to verbal diarrhoea from viewers, rather than any analysis or meaningful review of the video you showed. Perhaps your reporter thinks that someone being knocked from his bicycle by a careless driver doesn't merit any analysis?

I have a number of questions and suggestions I'd like answering:

1. When you report traffic incidents on the show, how often is this 'vox pop' format used?
2. How often are traffic accidents reported on the show? How many of these involve cyclists?
3. Is there any requirement on journalists to verify / counter statements used by viewers in the quotes read out? (For example, "cyclists don't pay road tax", "cyclists being given rights to complain about cars".)
4. Do you think your journalists should undertake any factual research into the comments being read out? (Would you for example, read out or display a statement like "all the immigrants in our town are illegal, and avoiding taxes" or "white men are more intelligent than black men"?)
5. Does the BBC have any requirement to fairly reflect different points of view when using this format? (Your journalist seems largely to have used quotes from people who either don't cycle, or have a very negative view of cycling.)

And some suggestions:

- Why not use the video to look at general road safety? Driving like that endangers pedestrians as well as cyclists.
- Why not use it to look at the legal situation - should the police have been called? is what happened breaking the law?
- You could look at how other countries / boroughs approach traffic safety.
- You could ask why someone was parked straight across a cycle lane.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Tim Lennon.

Saravanakumar Sellappan Care Failure

To: Comms@mayday.nhs.uk

Dear Sir/Madam,

Horrified to read this story today:


“'Nothing was done'

Mr Jafferjee also called into question the standard of care the dying man received at Mayday Hospital in Croydon, south London, where he was given a "plainly cursory" examination.

He said: "The sheer pain Mr Sellappan had been suffering when entering was the pain of a fractured skull and the underlying brain injury.

"He was given a leaflet about head injuries. Because the hospital had run out of leaflets for adults, he was given a child's leaflet."

He continued: "The doctor simply told him just to go home and look after himself. He started to cry because he was obviously in pain and nothing was being done."

He said the next morning a friend found him unconscious in bed and took him to another hospital, where he died despite an operation. “

I wonder if you would reassure me by detailing the various steps you have taken or will be taking to prevent such a catastrophic failure from happening again?

Yours sincerely,

Illinois Cook

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

BBC communication

Sent: 03 April 2010 21:02:30

Dear Mr Cook,

Thank you for your comments regarding this line that we regularly use in our reports: “The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”

On the most basic level, we use the word “disputed” because it is a simple statement of fact – Israel does actually dispute the contention of illegality. The Israeli government’s argument is outlined here http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Guide+to+the+Peace+Process/Israeli+Settlements+and+International+Law.htm

While the international is clear on the issue, this opinion comes from an interpretation of treaties and conventions. No court has actually sat and ruled definitively that Israeli settlements are illegal. The International Court of Justice ruling on the West Bank barrier would certainly support the contention that settlements are illegal and that the West Bank is occupied territory as defined by the Geneva convention, but this was an advisory ruling and does not carry the force or weight of law.

So we believe that is fair and reasonable to characterise the issue in the way we have.

The arguments around this issue are considered in detail in this report, commissioned by the BBC Governors:


Thanks and best regards,

Middle East desk
BBC News website


Thanks for your reply.

You first offer that you are simply stating a fact which prevails. In other stories, however, the BBC does not state that a different view is held.

Eg. in this story:


You do not state that armed reprisals are illegal under international law yet they are, or that Israel disputes it. Similarly the munitions used by the Israeli armed forces, torture in Israeli jails etc. You do not use that phrase or similar at the end of those stories, only in the settlement stories.

Using the phrase as you do seems to give the state of Israel an undue level of credibility for it's claim that that the settlements are legal. The international community is clear that they are not, and that the other policies / tactics mentioned above are not. The Israeli state website you offered me is mere propaganda by the guilty party, and in no way stands up to scrutiny. Of course it cannot stand up since it declares the illegal to be legal. Such theory is not therefore enough to justify including the statement "though Israel disputes this" at the end of your settlement stories.

'Revisionist historians' and fascist/Nazi sympathisers dispute that the Holocaust took place, and yet you would not feel it justifiable to indicate their views at the end of Holocaust-related materials, I'm sure.

You then contradict yourself by outlining the case that there is no such thing as international law.

You state that the relevant rulings are advisory and do not carry the force of law. If this is the case, why do you state that the settlements are "illegal under international law" in the first part of the phrase that I am objecting to? Clearly the international community is clear, the UN which has supreme responsibility is clear, and the BBC have quoted it after every settlement story I can remember, so the BBC is obviously also clear that international law exists and the settlements are illegal under it.

Finally the report commissioned by BBC governors which you imply is your guidance on the matter has been discussed by Arab Media Watch I note:


They are happy with Lubell's advice that the settlements be described as " illegal settlements ", and recommend that their illegal nature be stressed. The report is also very clear, in that it's last word on the settlements is:


The vast majority of opinion holds that the establishment of the settlements is indeed a

violation of the 4th Geneva Convention. This is the view expressed not only by leading

commentators (including Israelis), but also by other states (including allies of Israel), the UN

Security Council, and the International Court of Justice. The Security Council has clearly


“[…]that Israel's policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new

immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva

Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also

constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in

the Middle East”

There is no mention of any need to describe the way the state of Israel reacts to the claim that the settlements are illegal. Why then does the BBC insist on using this phrase / summing up technique in this circumstance? This one alone? When something is illegal it is criminal, and there is no reason to oppose the opinion of a tiny criminal minority against the judgement not merely of the injured party but of the vast majority of the rest of the world and the relevant bodies, ie the only bodies whose job it is to judge the matter.

I repeat my demand that the BBC stops saying: "though Israel disputes this" at the end of stories relating to the settlements. I would be very happy if the sentence merely read " The settlements are illegal under international law."

Yours sincerely,

Illinois Cook


No reply to my email below so far.

The BBC is still using the phrase:

"Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this. "

eg. here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/8634754.stm

I take it that since you are unable or unwilling to further defend its use, you are putting measures in place to ensure it will not be used from now on?

Yours sincerely,

Illinois Cook

Sent: 11 May 2010 10:16:00

Dear Mr Cook,

Thank you for your further email on the issue of the illegality of the settlements.

The reason we feel it is correct to say the “settlements are illegal” is, to quote Lubell’s advice, “the vast majority of opinion holds that the establishment of the settlements is indeed a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention”.

We are not judging the credibility of Israel’s argument, but recognising that there is an argument.

Clearly, you remain unsatisfied with our response, it is open to you to address your complaint to the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit: ecu@bbc.co.uk or Room 5170, White City, 201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TS.

Best regards,

Middle East Desk
BBC News website