Thursday, 18 March 2010

Labour's Election Leaflet – Sponsored by Manchester City Council!

The local election campaign's been going on in these parts for several months now, at least as far as the “Lib” Dems are concerned. I've been receiving one of their Focus leaflets once a month like clockwork since about the middle of last year – plus a Christmas card, plus a calendar. They're really determined to get their man onto the City Council this May. But at least they (or their rich backers) are paying for their own propaganda, which is fair enough. The incumbent Labour councillor seems to be taking a more laid-back attitude – all I've had off his lot lately has been a letter from the local MP. Nothing else until yesterday.

Yesterday, a copy of “Manchester People” landed on my doormat. This is a “newsletter” published by the Labour-dominated Manchester City Council, supposedly to keep the local population informed about what's going on, and also supposedly non-party political. The headline was “Warm welcome for council tax freeze” - unbiased or what? Especially as the “freeze” in council tax that the council is bragging about is nothing of the kind – if you look way down towards the bottom of the front page (Paragraph 7) you'll find the admission: “Although the Council's element of your council tax bill is frozen, there may be slight increases in the smaller police and fire precepts.” Expect a rise, in other words – maybe 1 or 2%. In these times of hardship, the council should be going all out to cut council tax by getting rid of unnecessary waste and focusing on core services – scrapping “Manchester People” would be a small step in the right direction.

The other major story on the front page and continued onto Page 3 is about the upcoming Manchester Day Parade – another expense that we can do without. The rest of the publication is mostly upbeat filler about how well Manchester's doing (despite the massive unemployment and unacceptable crime levels) and how we all love recycling. Page 15 is given over almost entirely to the decision by the council to allow an outfit called Goals Soccer Centres to demolish part of Heaton Park and build a sports complex there. To those readers who live outside the area, Heaton Park is a huge area (actually the grounds of a stately home) on the north edge of Manchester that was sold to Manchester City Council in 1902 to be kept for the enjoyment of the general public. It's a lovely place, very popular in the spring and summer, the place is full of people in the good weather. Now the council wants to vandalise it. Not surprisingly, there's a lot of opposition to this proposal, in fact I haven't met anyone who's had a good word to say about it – you wouldn't think so from reading “Manchester People” though – I couldn't find one word questioning any council policy in the whole rag.

Instead of “Manchester People” it might just as well have been entitled “Vote Labour” - but then the Labour Party would have had to have paid for it themselves, wouldn't they? Easier just to charge it to the taxpayer.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Help Hogan the Hero Get Out of Jail for £1!

Copied from the national Libertarian Party Members' Blog:

This is a Libertarian issue if there ever was one, for the sake of £1, you can get a man released from prison. Old Holborn is running a campaign to raise £10 000 to get his fine paid.

As of 18.00 Hrs Tuesday 2nd March the amount raised was £5693

Over Five Thousand Pounds Raised in Thirty Six Hours

There has been a fair amount of comment in the blogosphere regarding the six month jail sentence given to Nick Hogan for flouting the 'no-smoking ban'.

Outrage has been duly expressed, here, there, and everywhere. Perhaps we can do better than just express outrage?

Nick was actually jailed for non-payment of the fine originally imposed for a 'mass smoke-in' on the day the ban came into force in 2007 in his pub, the 'Swan and Barristers' in Bolton. He no longer has that pub. He was fined again when council inspectors walked into his present pub and discovered a group of customers smoking - Nick wasn't even on the premises.

His wife, Denise, is now managing their present pub in Chorley herself. Their trade is so low that they don't even bother to open the downstairs bar. Nick is bankrupt, and had gone to court intending to argue that he could not afford the £500 a month payments demanded by the council towards their £11,600 bill for prosecuting him. He has already paid off £1,600. The court gave him a six month sentence instead, and he is currently in Forest Bank prison in Pendlebury, unable to help to earn the money which would ensure his release.

Denise has not even been able to speak to him since he was sentenced. She has merely been told to phone the prison on Monday to enquire when she might see him. She is confused, frightened, and feeling very lonely.

If all the people who disagree with the no-smoking ban contributed a few coppers, then Nick would be released. If you can't afford £1, then at least drop Nick a line and let him know he is not forgotten - not surprisingly, he is feeling very depressed.

Denise has just said to me 'all the people who disagree with the ban - where are they now? - and my Nick is in prison'. Quite.

Denise has no idea how to use the Internet, she has no idea how many of us are against the no-smoking ban. Let's show her.

£1 each - just 10,000 of you - let's see if the blogosphere can do more than merely rant in unison. Once the amount received totals the outstanding fine, they have to release Nick.

Nick's address is:

HMP & YOI Forest Bank
Agecroft Road
M27 8FB

OH UPDATE: Under the health act of 2006, it is the responsibility of the owner or the controller of "smoke free" space to uphold the law. It is not illegal to smoke in a shop or on a train. It is illegal for the owner or controller of the space to allow you to smoke.

Reprinted from the OH site


The Libertarian Party is utterly opposed to people going to jail for offences such as this.