International Triathlon Relay 2019

The river was high and flowing fast, so the swimming leg was replaced by running, for fear of the risk that logs etc. in the river might not be spotted and hit the competitors.
Attendance was lower because of the unpleasant weather.  
Captured one strange incident when the 3rd leg German ran into the French runner.



Zen, bought with Bolt and intended as pets for the home and as company for each other.
Thought originally to be a pied cock budgie, but was most probably a spangle hen budgie.
Featured on 2 Christmas cards cos of 2 striking poses – both completely untypical – cos budgies don’t really smile and the practice of hanging upside on a maiden’s clothes line was given up.
Died far too early at just over 2 years, from organ failure.
Hard to attribute personalities to such small animals, but the contrast with her black-eyed albino friend could be striking, and the most striking difference stayed – that Bolt will scarper whilst Zen was more relaxed.
Fond memories.

David Mellen talks with Nottingham South Labour members

Thanking Labour members from Nottingham South for their campaigning, especially the wins in Castle and Wollaton West ward, David went on to highlight his priorities as the new Leader for Nottingham City.
– A council that does what it says it says it will do; work well with partners and listen;
– deliver the manifesto, especially the top 5 pledges;
– act on knife crime; homelessness; underfunding by government.

“This is not a drill” book launch

Five Leaves Bookshop arranged a launch of the “handbook” written by Extinction Rebellion.
The organisation has a very different feel to traditional political groupings.
Concentred most to compel people to realise there is a climate emergency through a range of actions including direct action.
Now famous for their blocking of transport, the road blockages in Nottingham were very brief.
I had expected such campaigns to generate some hostility, but the public have reacted by saying the climate is now one of their top priorities; something that might have been bolstered by documentaries on BBCtv showing the impact of plastic on the environment.
Having only 3 broad policies, but 10 principles, and a membership requirement that says you have to undergo non-violence training.
Three speakers from London had been organised for the meeting but two were on a train from London that was stopped by a landslide / bank collapse at Corby, triggered by the long spells of rain. (Turns out part of Arnold town centre was flooded too.)

As a veteran of working for progress through party politics, when called to speak, there seemed little point in saying that Extinction Rebellion are wrong, and acknowledging the change in public opinion, more relevant to say to work together where we can in our concern to get faster and more significant action on climate change.
Indeed, Cllr. Sally Longford, our new Deputy Leader, has worked with XR in getting a zero-carbon Nottingham policy adopted at the January full council.

I circulated a 2-pager on the council’s outlook (“cities are good for us”), our recent achievements, a 2006 plan showing how green policies need to be embedded in the planning of the council and our manifesto commitments.
In my speech, I emphasised the radical history of the city council, often led by Fabian & Co-op minded Labour members, had led to opposition to inner-city motorways, realised the bus needed help and introduced bus lanes, tried radical change with zone and collar (which was re-introduced in a different way in 2000), introduced free bus passes for older people and the less mobile, introduced the tram and alone in the northern hemisphere introduced workplace parking levy so that commuters to the larger companies (that can provide alternatives) pay for new facilities and extra services, rather than residents.

Joint Strategic Planning and Transport cttee – June 2019

Road map for the proposed HS2 East Midlands station

The joint cttee. between the City and County Councils reviewed the plans for an economic development around the railway station.
I suggested 2 undertakings –
– a review of all the heavy rail improvements we should be seeking in Notts. & Derbyshire;
– exploring the concept of the new developments being constructed with green architectural technologies.

I also expressed pessimism about the Waste Plan – there’s no national framework to boost food digestion and introduce re-use.
The Sinfin re-use facility in Derby has hit significant problems; de-gasification technology has not made progress, including at Blenheim Allotments in Nottingham.
Plainly the potential for incineration remains – better than burial – but one site along the MARR has already been stopped.

The progress of the Minerals plan was reviewed and I complained that the residents of Clifton saw the choice of Barton-in-Fabis as a new site for a sand and gravel pit was driven for narrower political reasons.

Labour stops The Brexit Party winning Peterborough

BBCtv by-election coverage was a bit laboured; emphasising how Peterborough was always Labour or Conservative.
But signals were being given that Labour may have won, beating The Brexit Party into 2nd place.

Thea Labour win is remarkable.

Cos a by-election was called cos of a petition against an existing Labour MP – a bit of a challenge; 
and although I’m prepared to be corrected on this, I understood the reputation of the Labour MP from 1997 – 2005 was not good; 
and I understand Peterborough voted Brexit in the European elections;
and then our Labour candidate apologised during the campaign (having liked or appreciated anti-Semite or bonkers material).

A Labour win in those circumstances is pretty dramatic.
The Guardian reports 7 reasons why.
Or –
“A hold is a hold” – Andrew Neil, BBCtv.

The new Peterborough MP has said she will undertake anti-Semitism training.
From the Peterborough Telegraph – “The Labour candidate for the by-election in Peterborough has apologised after ‘liking’ an anti-Semitic Facebook post, but emphasised she did not agree with the views expressed. Lisa Forbes said she “apologised wholeheartedly for not calling out these posts” and will “deepen” her understanding of anti-Semitism whether she is elected or not, so she can challenge it in the future.”

I don’t believe she is the first to have gone on record to denounce the IHRA code on anti-Semitism and then been caught out.  But Labour members have got to learn, cos arguments against the code soon come undone.
I’m also frustrated to see people who have previously shared anti-Semitic images sharing statements, each as JVL’s, defending the Labour candidate, when the candidate had already apologised.  
“… trolling of social media accounts is pernicious” says JVL, although I wonder if they meant trawling. Whatever, election opponents are going to check what you’ve said or liked or approved or appreciated.  
I am a tad worried if “like”s or emotion icons are taken as evidence, cos sometimes you can hit something on a screen, and either not realise you’ve done it, or find you don’t know how to fix it. 

But I would like in the future that people who post accusations of anti-Semitism to refer to the IHRA code to explain why.  
Both to demonstrate responsibility in making accusations and to re-emphasise the importance of the code.

D-Day 75th Anniversary

A bit disheartened by the pompous tv presentations of the events.
British servicemen were fighting to defeat the Nazis, and they’d resolved to have a new Britain, but instead it was repeatedly stated that it was “for freedom”.
I’d not seen the statues before, but the American one seems more human.
Nor had I seen the purple poppy – to remind us of the loss of animals.

A shame, given all the frictions there’s been with the U.S.S.R. and with Russia over the years since, that Russia couldn’t be at the events. The Steve Bell cartoon is controversial cos it talks about freedom for Europe, when of course, the Eastern bloc did not enjoy freedom post the German surrender, but D-Day can blind us to both the Russian effort and (infamously) the allied campaign through Italy.

Maybe I missed the representation or participation of Canada, the free Poles, and all the other countries especially from the Empire at the event.
I understand a commentator on BBC Radio 5 kept saying how the Canadians reached furthest into Normandy on D-Day; at some chagrin to those who know and celebrate the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry who were in fact went the deepest and captured the ridge overlooking Caen.

My own efforts to remember have instead been to watch more documentaries from the internet, and I was particularly struck by one that explored Monty more – concluding that he was a bit useless in communicating with peers and superiors, very good with his own officers and soldiers, and has perhaps been misjudged on Caen and on Operation Goodwood.
That his objective was for the Nazis to exhaust their armies and resources in the predictable and inevitable counter-attacks to any Allied successes, so when the break-through was to come, progress was much faster. (But how Caen suffered.)
I don’t know enough, but the “Patton” movie and other films suggests huge frustration at not taking Antwerp faster to relieve the burden of the long supply lines, and Operation Market Garden seems to be very much about wanting to gain territory quickly.