Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Corbyn outlines plans to 'cap' boardroom pay

BBC News - Jeremy Corbyn outlines plans to 'cap' boardroom pay http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-38568116?SThisFB

In principle the idea of a wage cap or maximum wage doesn't sound like a bad idea . But wouldn't it be better, rather than having a wage cap, to force organisations to have their minimum wage as a fixed percentage of the highest salary in that company?

e.g. if the minimum wage was say 5% of the maximum then any organisation whose highest paid employee earned £1,000,000 would have to have a minimum wage of £50,000


Thursday, 5 January 2017

2016 is over, welcome to the future

I watched the film Pride the other evening. It's about the Lesbian and Gay community that supported the miners' strike in 1984. I balled my eyes out at the end of the film and both laughed and felt the tears trickling down my face through it. It's a film that conveys an important message. That message is:
The importance of solidarity - United we stand, divided we fall.

We can defeat the Tories and all the other bigots on the right. We can overcome the hate mongers. There are more of us than them. We just need to organise. If all those that are currently being targeted and persecuted by the right joined together we could drive them from power and elect a progressive government. A progressive government, an alliance that will serve all of the people.

I have always felt that the miners' strike was a misjudgement by the likes of Arthur Scargill and the NUM leadership. A trap was set and they fell for it. And it was the members that suffered. The men of the pits paid the price. The folly of their leaders broke the labour movement.
If all the pressure groups that represent those that are currently being bullied and oppressed by the right joined forces then a powerful movement could be built. A movement of inclusiveness. A movement for fairness, equality and justice. Society is a hollow vessel if it is not for all.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Our uneven handed BBC!

I complained to the BBC about their interview on the Andrew Marr programme. This is the reply I received. I am not in the least surprised.

Dear Mr Garrard 

Many thanks for getting in touch about The Andrew Marr Show broadcast on Sunday 13 November 2016.

The programme had several prominent items to reflect Remembrance Sunday, as well as an interview with the leader of France’s Front National party, Marine Le Pen MEP.

Andrew acknowledged beforehand that some viewers may have found the timing or content distasteful, but he also fully explained the context and rationale for the interview with Ms Le Pen as follows:

"Now, today we are remembering the fallen, particularly of two World Wars, and we are doing so in a context of a world which feels particularly unstable, even dangerous. Our greatest ally - the United States - has been going through great political change, but what of our other great wartime ally, France? 

Since Donald Trump's victory, anything seems possible, and in France they're asking whether Marine Le Pen - the highly controversial leader of the right wing, nationalistic French National Front - will become their next President. She's polling strongly - at least 6 million voters so far - and most predict that she will reach the final round this spring. Now, if she won that would be a huge and significant moment for Europe - Marine Le Pen is hostile to Brussels, she's against NATO, she's against free trade, and she's a vehement supporter of Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Now, I know this morning some people are offended and upset that I have been to interview Marine Le Pen, and that we are showing this interview on Remembrance Sunday. I understand that, but I would say this: Le Pen could - under some circumstances - become the next French President in the spring. This week in the immediate aftermath of the Trump victory, she's declared that the whole world has changed and that her brand of politics is on the march. What does that mean?

In the end, we are a news programme and I don't think the best way to honour the fallen is to fail to report on the next big challenge to western security..."

Many thanks once again for taking the time to get in touch. We acknowledge your personal views on the interview and its timing, but we hope our reply helps to clarify our approach and why we felt it important to hear from Marine Le Pen MEP here. 

Kind Regards

BBC Complaints Team


I think what really grieves me is that they give a disproportional amount of airtime to minority extreme right wing groups, and, never to extreme left wing groups. The BBC is biased heavily towards the right and as a consequence a morally bankrupt organisation.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

If you tolerate this then your children will be next

I like many people have become very alarmed by the way the fascist agenda has appeared to have come to the fore in recent months, and particularly in the last week or so. Hate, which is essentially fascism, is being displayed more and more openly. A worrying trend that has to stop. How do the decent majority stop it? We stand up to be counted, we challenge it whenever we can and we make it known by whatever means available that HATE is not acceptable.

The key is to realise that you, each and every one of you can make a difference. You can help affect change. If we all do small things to counter fascism we will overcome the hate. We can drive it out. We can reaffirm that hate has no place in a decent society.

What can we do?
• Today I have sent postcards to the editors of five of the main culprit newspapers that have been encouraging hate. I've also complained to the BBC about their Marine Le Pen interview on the Andrew Marr Show. Next I shall start contacting those companies that fund adverts to the 'hate monger' newspapers:

• You can do the same
• And you can ask others to help to
• If you're on social media then follow the Stop Funding Hate campaign on Twitter or Facebook
• Follow Unite Against Fascism on Twitter and Facebook
• Print out some of the anti-fascist images on sticky paper. Stick them up in public places
• Print them out on plain paper. Shove them through people doors.
• Spread the word on social media
• Anything to get the message across

Now is a good time to remind you of Martin Niemoeller 'poem':

First they came for the Communists,
but I was not a Communist,
so I did not speak out.

Then they came for the Socialists and the trade unionists,
but I was neither,
so I did not speak out.

Then they came for the Jews,
but I was not a Jew,
so I did not speak out.
And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.

– Martin Niemoeller (1892-1984)

The title of this blog posting comes from a poster from the Spanish Civil War:


It inspired this Manic Street Preacher's song:

Think some more

These are seriously troubled times. It's time for all decent tolerant people to get up off their arses and do something, no matter how small.

Please feel free to share this picture

The postcards to national dailies

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Beauty and the beast

My favourite art gallery, in fact one of my favourite places, in London is Tate Modern. And up until yesterday I had not been there since the new Switch House extension had been opened. Turns out it's a great space. I like.

After a really delicious and very fine lunch at the 9th floor restaurant we headed for the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition currently on the go at Tate Modern.

I never bother with audio guides at art galleries. I'm not greatly interested in being told about what someone else thinks of a work or about the incidental history of the artist at around the time a piece of art was created. I just want to feed my eyes on it, soak up what I can from it and feel my feelings, independently from anyone else. I also don't like to move around an exhibition in the order it's laid out. I like to flit about either going to where there's some space or to whatever catches my eye. I like to consume art my way. I lose myself in some pictures, totally absorbed by the images and the colours; I commune with them, it can be a neo-meditative experience.

Red and Orange Streak

But enough of that bollocks, "what about the exhibition?" I hear you cry. The picture that caught my eye as I entered the first room was Red and Orange Streak. You can't not notice it; a painting of vivid red and orange on a black background. The orange forced my eye down the painting but I fought against it to stare longingly at the red. O'Keeffe's use of colour and the vibrancy with which she painted is like no other I have seen. Room 2 contained many of my favourite paintings including three 'music' pictures; Music - Pink & Blue Nº1, Music - Pink & Blue Nº2 and Blue & Green Music. All three are in oils whilst displaying a pastel like tone but with the sheen of oil. The shapes in her abstractions flow very smoothly and are pleasing to my eye. One gets out of her paintings what one wishes to get out I feel. You may see sensual and erotic shapes and nuances or you may see strawberry and peppermint candy-floss. Perhaps you will see both. Anyway for me it's all very pleasing. My favourite picture of the exhibition was quite a small one called Shell Nº2. It's pure O'Keeffe in one bite-sized chunk. Then there's her capturing of the harsh landscape of New Mexico in intense and bold hues with voluptuous undulating hills. Purple Hills anyone?

      Shell Nº2                    Blue & Green Music

Shell Nº2

I could eulogise indefinitely but don't worry dear reader I won't. All I will say is if you get a chance between now and the end of the month to go and see it go! In my opinion you won't regret it.

It was a grand day out I thought as we boarded our train home. Oh the joys of travelling on a train out of London at a peak time on a Friday night. After a brief altercation about the seating arrangements we settled down to what would hopefully be a relaxing journey. It was not to be. The be-suited party of half a dozen alcohol-fuelled alpha males saw to that. It is embarrassing to be a man in situations like that. They made half of the journey quite unbearable. Thankfully they all got off at Ipswich. They appeared to have been on some kind of day out which entailed large quantities of drink and possibly with a sport connection. They weren't physically aggressive but their 'banter' was of a bullying nature and often sexist. The first half of the journey home put a bit of a damper on the whole day. There really is no excuse for behaviour like that. Laddishness is a destructive force in society that should be constantly highlighted as totally unacceptable by the mass media rather than the 'eh eh get a load of this' type attitude that currently prevails. Brainless knob ends not welcome here!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

I laugh in the face of tragedy

It's an embarrassing thing to do. But throughout my life, although thankfully not on every occasion, I have sometimes managed to laugh at really bad news. I don't know when it's going to happen and I have no control over it. It just happens. Likewise I will also say inappropriate things on odd occasions. Words will come out of my mouth that either I wouldn't dream of saying ever or would never dream of saying in the particular situation that I find myself in at that time. Often this sort of thing happens at social gatherings. I think because I'm never comfortable in largish social groups its some kind of reaction to the situation in which I find myself. It's probably a nerves thing. The trouble is I will say something that is out of place, realise my error, and then rather than just shut up completely I will then in some vain way attempt to explain my faux pas by saying further ridiculous stuff. Language is my downfall.

Now I'm sure I'm not alone in this. There's probably a name for it. There's a name for all conditions these days it would seem. In the cold light of day one can sort of understand it. Well I can. Unfortunately my affliction doesn't stop there. In these days of the interweb and social media I find myself doing similar online. It happens mostly in the situation when you are either live chatting or very nearly live chatting. I will type something inappropriate or out of character and will have pressed the send button before I have realised what I have done. Then I panic! I forget the old adage when you're in a hole stop digging and just carry on making matters worse. After that I retreat, licking my wounds and wondering how it happened. Eventually of course I get over myself and the pain starts to subside and I will forget about it until the next time. Brains are funny old things.

Hopefully people that know me realise that I try very hard to be kind, considerate and quite shy. Perhaps they have never even noticed this foible or just put it down to strange idiosyncrasy. Perhaps it's just me that notices. I know not.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

What is Leadership?

Sadly we live in a society where a large proportion of the people seem incapable of thinking for themselves; they believe what they are conditioned to believe. They tend to believe that leaders should be loud, arrogant, and forceful with steadfast non-compromising ideas. They also confuse leadership with management. The two are entirely different animals.

Leadership inspires, facilitates and empowers. Leaders can't tell you what to do. Leaders don't organise, managers do that.

I get really angry when people say that Jeremy Corbyn isn't a good leader. That's nonsense. After Tony Benn he's the most inspiring politician that I've ever heard speak. Through Jeremy we are moving towards the Labour Party membership being truly empowered. And his willingness to entertain a mix of ideas and to promote inclusiveness would seem to me to be facilitating. Jeremy with a vibrant and dedicated party behind him can make a difference. It's the non-believers that will be the downfall of the party. If they don't want to be part of a positive, democratic socialist party I wish they'd just do the decent thing and fuck off to a place where they're more comfortable, please.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

British Art Show 8

Appreciating art is very subjective; there is no such thing as good or bad art, it's down to what you like.

Today I visited Norwich Castle to see the: "British Art Show 8 is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to see some of the brightest names in contemporary art." You would hope that with a description like that there would be something to get excited about, but for me not so. In fairness the show is spread over three venues and I've only viewed one, so it could be that the Castle show is a duffer and the other two are fantastic but I don't really feel inspired to even bother considering going to see them. If these are the brightest in contemporary art (whatever that means) then I think Britain has a big problem. This exhibition was the most turgid and safe 'professional' exhibition I've been to in quite a while. It made the Martin Creed exhibition I went to a few years ago, a disappointing exhibition I tend to judge everything by now, look positively exciting. thank fully I know differently; there are large numbers of people up and down this country producing interesting and vibrant art, rather than the we've done our time at Art College got our degree so we must be really important artists brigade. People's art is the way forward and not this faux art prescribed by elitists!

For me the British Art Show 8 was dull beyond compare. Enter at your peril, or at least have a strong coffee or two before going.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Heartbreak Hotel

Sorry to break it to you but The Eagles were wrong; quite often you don't check out any time you want but you do leave. Life is like a stop at a hotel; we check in a birth, for a short stay, checking out at death. During our stay if we're lucky we will have a few good times in amongst the pain and the heartbreak.

I've been heartbroken three times in my life. The first was as a naive ten year old, coming home with the results of my eleven plus in a small brown envelope. That small brown envelope contained a life sentence. I had failed that ridiculous and cruel exam. I was written off, consigned to the scrap heap and at such a young age as well. Exams are cruel. Exams are evil. I never recovered from that rejection. Heartbreak is like that. It leaves a permanent scar.

And my most recent heartbreak?
Well it happened just over a week ago. The referendum on the UK's EU membership. How upset I was about it even took me by surprise. It felt like a relationship break up or bereavement. I suppose it is a relationship break up. One that I don't want to happen even though I know it will. It's fair to say that, reiterating my previous post, I was devastated. How could so many people be so wrong?
So much ignorance. So much pain.

I used to dismiss or ridicule people when they stated that they were passionate about this or that. What I didn't realise was that I am passionate about the EU. I want to remain a European. And, if it's within my power, one way or another, I will achieve that goal.

I try to be a good person. I try to see other people's point of view if I am able, and if it doesn't go against fundamental human rights. But last week's result had me so incensed that I produced the picture above. I many ways it goes against much of what I stand for, but I make no apologies for publishing it. I needed to; otherwise I would have probably combusted.

Contrary to what some might think I don't believe the reasons why people voted to leave the EU are that simplistic. There are any number of misguided reason s from those on the right or the so called left as to why they voted to leave, although I've yet to hear a reason that actually makes sense to me. Having said that, I do believe that the majority who voted to leave did so for racist reasons. It makes me sick in my stomach. Racists are ignorant. Pig-shit ignorant. It's something that cannot be justified on any level. It's abhorrent to any civilised person. England needs to be ashamed of itself. What a hateful place this has become.

Sunday, 26 June 2016


A few years ago someone I know asked me if I considered myself English or British. Without hesitation I answered neither, I'm European I said. And that's how I have felt for a long time and still feel now.

As you can imagine I feel angry, sad and generally bemused by the incredulity of the referendum result. I've calmed down now so I won't be quite as insulting as I have been in recent days on social media. In fact I had to initiate a self-imposed ban on social media to stop myself from being mega insulting to so many people. I've come to terms now with the result and feel that those who voted for out will mostly be the ones that suffer because of it and because of that don't feel quite so bad.

The only good thing to come out of this is the possible breakup of the United Kingdom. As much as I find nationalism distasteful I do wish the Scots the best of luck with their future in Europe. I have no doubt that this time they will gain their independence and remain in Europe. I also think that an independent Scotland could prosper because of England's idiotic decision to leave the EU. Industry will flock to north of the border because of what the English plebs have decided.

My biggest concern is for the poor people of Northern Ireland. They have been shat on big time and result of this referendum could well reignite the violence that was so successfully subdued in the 90s. I hope they can find a way through but fear that unless a united Ireland is achieved somehow shit will happen again. If only the loyalists could see that England doesn't give a bugger about them.

This referendum has brought out the nastiest of the nasty in some people, particularly white obese racists from Essex and Lincolnshire, but not exclusively.

I shall continue to be blunt and try to shock the idiots back to sort of decency but I doubt my efforts will have much effect.

As much as I like the writing of George Orwell I fear Aldous Huxley has won out. Time will tell.

Thomson clan dress tartan - the future?