Archive for October, 2010

October 29, 2010

>Stripping the Week 25-29 October 2010

>This week Boris and Dave’s high school scrap continued in public, with the Mayor of London making a right old Eton mess of the Government’s controversial announcement to cap housing benefit. In a strange development that must have something to do with it being Halloween on Sunday, his ‘Kosovo’ comments were backed up by shrieking Goddess of the Guardian Polly Toynbee. Deciding that Labourites using the phrase ‘social cleansing’ was not quite good enough, she described the proposals as a ‘final solution’ for the poor. She has since apologised for her foulness, blaming ‘a slip of the pen’… This is of course a totally cop out given that the joy of the written word is you can write it, walk away from it, check it, and make decisions stop yourself looking liking a fool.

The other big row Cam had was in the EU. He wanted a freeze to it’s budget. Others wanted a 6% rise. The rise will be 2.9%, so Cam says he has done well.

The PM had less of a row in PMQs, as all he had to do to defeat the out-of-his-depth Ed Miliband was read out a leaked internal memo on how Ed should behave in the weekly dual. Miliband was, of course, following it to the letter.

The normally popular London fire brigade put themselves in direct conflict with the public this week, voting to strike on bonfire night. As far as VN can tell this is the type of poor leadership normally seen at student’s unions, not those representing workers in key public sector services, and will do nothing to further their cause.

No Champions League football this week, but the Carling Cup returned. Arsenal got through against Newcastle, with the help of a dodge own goal, and the referee’s decision to allow Bendtner to pull off an American Football style body check on a retreating defender. Under pressure Man Utd also got through after a tough second half against Wolves, while Aston Villa and West Ham were forced to navigate extra-time to take their place in the quarter finals. The sponsors will be desperate for the Arsenal and Manchester United to keep going all the way to Wembley.

Listening to this week: Various Artists – Hospital Mix 7 (mixed by Danny Byrd)
Reading this week: Time Magazine – Fascinating cover story on the American Dream
Watching this week: The West Wing complete box set

Hero of the week: Armin Van Buuren – The trance superstar retained his number 1 DJ in the world status in a poll released this week.
Villain of the week: Polly Toynbee – We all know the rule about using the Holocaust in your argument, and Toynbee disgracefully won this weeks race to the bottom.

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October 29, 2010

>Lib Dem Party President Campaign Videos

>Regular readers will know that VN endorsed Tim Farron quite early on in the Lib Dem Party President protest. Nothing so far in the campaigns has done anything to change that opinion, least of all the campaign videos that each candidate has released.

VN is aware of who put together Tim Farron’s videos. This particular individual seems to have an obsession with having their subject ‘walk and talk,’ (note the video that started the ‘Yes’ to AV rally’. VN is just thankful there is no take-away coffee cup this time.) There are also a couple of dodgy cuts, but this doesn’t detract from Farron, who is class at articulating his message. He drifts seamlessly from top- rate media performer to man-of-the-people, and summarises perfectly why his skill set is so relevant for the role he is seeking. Any undecided voter could not fail to be engaged and impressed by his performance.

Susan Kramer has released this offering:

Not even in widescreen, this side of the campaign was clearly not a priority for the Kramer Kamp, and that really is not good enough for someone seeking a role representing the parties grassroots. The simply talking into the camera trick is worse than the ‘walk and talk’ approach, and gives the impression of being done in a spare five minutes.

In terms of hits it’s a landslide victory for Farron: 3,551 to 256. Pretty damning, even though his video has been out longer.

For London readers, the fabulous Helen Duffett will be chairing a hustings event between the two next Wednesday.

October 28, 2010

>Boris gets bashed on housing benefit

>Conservative Mayor of London Boris Johnson has always been regarded as an independent character. Prior to the election he was a useful asset for his party, as he was the most senior elected Conservative and generally well regarded by his electorate. However, since the Coalition came into power he has seemingly been on a collision course with the Cameroons, and has launched his most high profile attack  yet on Government policy on the proposed changes to housing benefit. He declared that he would not stand for a “Kosovo-style social cleansing of London”, and told BBC London that “the last thing we want to have in our city is a situation such as Paris where the less well-off are pushed out to the suburbs”. Pretty outspoken stuff for the man normally dismissed as an eccentric blonde bombshell.

Johnson is though now saying that he was quoted out of context. This after Coalition big hitters Cameron, Clegg and Cable slammed his comments. Clearly someone in No.10 has told Boris to play ball. This is interesting from a Government that so keenly supports independence and localism, and shows what a threat the Conservative leadership consider Johnson to be.

Boris Johnson on BBC Radio London

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October 28, 2010

>The Lib Dems need to find their William Hague

>When David Laws was forced to resign from the Cabinet the loss to both the Liberal Democrats and the coalition was a immense. The Government lost one of it’s greatest economic assets, and the Lib Dems lost their best fixer. The undoubted power house within the Conservative party is Foreign Secretary William Hague, there is no obvious Liberal Democrat equivalent, someone who can really knock heads together and sort through policy differences for the good of their party and the coalition.

Given his experience as Nick Clegg’s Chief of Staff and manifesto overlord, Danny Alexander was the obvious candidate tot fulfil this role, and was all set to do so. However, now he is in the Treasury time is not so available for him to fulfil such role, particularly without the support of Laws in Cabinet. Deputy Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael is clearly not a man to be messed with, and a highly effective operator, but his job is to make sure government policy is passed, not be part of the sausage factory of making it. Nick Clegg’s right-hand-girl Polly Mackenzie is also highly intelligent, and rightly respected, but clearly doesn’t have the authority of office or the media profile William Hague does.

The Liberal Democrats have been, somewhat unfairly, accused of getting little of their policy enacted. If they are being steamrollered on some issues this problem could lie at the heart of it. David Cameron has clearly employed Hague and Oliver Letwin to hold things together, and help the coalition progress on the Conservative side. The idea was presumably that Laws and Alexander, both key in the negotiations, would fulfil a similar role for the Liberal Democrats. This is clearly not happening anymore, and Clegg would do well to fix it as soon as possible to make sure his party continue to build on the initial success his party have had in government.

October 27, 2010

>Armin Van Burren is still the world’s number 1 DJ


Picture from

DJ Mag have announced the victor in their annual poll of the world’s best DJs. The winner once again is Armin Van Buuren, who retains the crown after claiming victory last year. His victory upholds the long tradition of trance superstars dominating the chart, after recent victories for Tiesto and Paul Van Dyk, who are at 3 and 5 respectively this time around.

Away from trance, the Swedish House Mafia, whose tunes dominated VN towers all summer, are big winners too. They feature both as a unit at number 23, as well as individually with Axwell at 10, Steve Angello at 14, and Seb Ingrosso at 16. VN favourite Andy C jumps a huge 39 places to get to number 61, no mean feat for a drum ‘n’ bass DJ in this chart. There is also a lot of love for Deadmau5, who jumps up 2 places to be at 4.

The chart is rather predictable, with all the big names such David Guetta, Above & Beyond, and Ferry Corsten featuring in the top 10. The chart is also always dominated by European trance DJs, but that is probably because they tend to worry about these type of things more, and their management launch proper lobbying operations on their behalf. The DJ Mag top 100 is still a pretty good barometer of who’s hot and who’s not in the world of dance music, and it is not doubt that guys still fill a venue. The lack of female talent on display in the list is thought deeply worrying, with not even Lisa Lashes making it.

Everyone always has an opinion on these type of things, so here is the full list for you to dissect. Feel free to add your top 10 in the comments section below. Danny Byrd would have definitely featured in the VN list, as would Shy FX. We can but dream…

October 27, 2010

>Nick Clegg and the Aleksandr the Meerkat enter the Collins English Dictionary

>New words for inclusion in the Collins English dictionary have been announced. They include ‘simples’ as made famous by’s Alexsandr the Meerkat, and BGT in reference to Britain’s Got Talent. Other popular culture entries inlcude ‘fauxmance,’ referring to celebrities having fake relationships in order to get publicity in the media, and ‘tweetheart,’ to describe a tweeter who gains admiration from their fellow members online.

Politicians have also made their mark on the dictionary, with Con-Lib featuring in the new edtion. Gordon Brown’s ‘bigotgate’ and David Cameron’s ‘broken society’ are now defined in the dictionary too. Nick Clegg gets two entries, with both Clegmania and Cleggstasy going in, and being defined as ‘the surge in popularity for the politician Nick Clegg’.

October 27, 2010

>The beast gets prodded at PMQs

>It was always going to happen. Having proved he is not utterly useless in his first performances, Ed Miliband received the wrath of Prime Minister David Cameron today at Prime Ministers Questions. Having jumped enthusiastically to his feet to slam the Government on cutting peoples’ jobs, the PM calmly reeled off a letter in the Times giving advice to Ed on how to deal with the hornets nest of PMQs. It turned out Ed had followed the advice entirely, and the cheers soon died in in the throats of the baying Labour MPs behind him. Cameron finished off the Leader of the Opposition by declaring he ‘might have a plan for PMQs, but he doesn’t have one for the economy’, before dismissing him as having ‘nothing to say’. Ed may not have been as bad as we all thought, but he still has much to learn.

The questions from the backbenchers revealed little new, with Labour MPs picking examples of cuts from their constituencies, and Cameron reiterating that the Government are making ‘difficult decisions’. It was pleasing that Dr Julian Huppert reiterated the priority of restoring civil liberties. The two rows clearly brewing are those on housing benefit, with Lib Dems Simon Hughes and Bob Russell particularly unhappy, and defence spending in Scotland, with the SNP leading the charge. The latter has the possibility of being more damaging with upcoming elections in Scotland.

Labour’s leaked memo about the cuts, and positive growth figures  were Cameron’s aces today, but so was the fact that both the Leader of the Opposition and the Labour backbenchers refuse to give an alternative. Until they do so, Cameron’s facts and figures will continue to edge out Ed Miliband’s rhetoric.

October 27, 2010

>Skins USA trailer launched


Skins (TV series)Image via Wikipedia

VN was delighted to hear that the filming of Skins series 5 was well underway,  and reported that the American version was nearly good to go too. The programme will be broadcast by MTV, and the creator of the British version, Bryan Elsley, is in charge of this new offshoot. MTV have recently started releasing trailers:

What made the original UK version so brilliant is that it touched on characters and characteristics that our uniquely British. Elsley has compiled an all American writing team for the Skins trip across the Atlantic, and it looks like a lot of the stories will be based around those originally aired in the UK. Will American viewers tolerate the more, uhum, gritty, scenes that made the programme so groundbreaking in the UK? VN suspects that American’s will have never seen anything like it, and that those of us used to the original episodes will be somewhat unimpressed at the inevitable watering down that will take place.

Skins USA will broadcast from January 2011.

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October 26, 2010

>Firefighter’s union prepared to leave London burning to strike on bonfire night


The unions have been building up for a good old strike ever since it became clear their puppets in the Labour party were not going to hold on to power at the General Election. Bob Crow and his cronies couldn’t wait to get in on the action, but Londoners have come to expect nothing less and have learned to accommodate. 

The same cannot be said of the Fire Brigade. Firefighters are rightly held in high regard across the country,  but the news that the Fire Brigades Union has decided to call a strike in London on November 5th, bonfire night, has been greeted with anger and anguish. Of all the public sector, firefighters can often be relied on to keep the support of the public the longest, but this course of action on their busiest night of the year will severely jeopardise that, and continues the trend of increasingly reckless and militant union behaviour.

The row surrounds new contracts for firefighters, on which they will be re-employed on worse terms. Those that don’t sign the contracts have been threatened with losing their job. Reasonable grounds for disquiet from a union, but nothing justifies the dangerous course of action the FBU ballot decided on.

Let’s hope that a compromise can be resolved so that the brave members of Fire Brigade receive the pay and conditions they deserve, and their union doesn’t lead them into leaving London burning this bonfire night.

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October 26, 2010

>Champagne banned at Tory conferece, but not at lunch with Mandelson

>A lot was made about the champagne drought at Conservative party conference, with David Cameron and his team determined that nobody would be caught coiffing when they were about to announce huge austerity measures. 

Such rules though don’t seem to apply to Lord Mandelson, one of the main offenders for signing cheques in the dying days of the Labour government. He is currently hosting a lunch for the Legatum group, where the guests are being served a delicious lunch of champagne, lobster, halibut and crab. 

Clearly opposition suits some…
Thanks to eyespymp for posting the pic
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