October 2011


There is a ‘Big Issue’ piece in this week’s Citizen, relating to Barton & Tredworth, entitled There is no such thing as Islamic terrorism.

In the article, members of a local mosque offer to dispell ‘misconceptions’ about Islam in a single day session or over a few days, and the piece cites several ‘sterotypes’.

The main theme of the piece, as exemplified by the title, though, seems to me like a straw man. Saajid Badat notwithstanding, in the twenty plus years I have lived in Barton, violent Islamic extremism has not been the problem, but rather a creeping assimilation of property and resources, what some would call ‘Islamification’, of the ward, coupled with poor or non-existent interaction with the ‘indigenous’ community. Local people are a lot more bothered, for example, with the traffic disruption caused by the ‘Islamic school’ on Stratton Road, when they were assured a decade ago that the building would be a community centre for everyone, and not a place where parents would clog up the road with their cars, not just in the morning and afternoon, but evenings and weekends as well.

The Working Man’s club on Barton Street is now the Friendship Café, dedicated to the benefit of (Sunni) Muslims. At least three properties on Charles Street have been bought up so that an Islamic centre, with parking, can be built at the back. The Barton & Tredworth Community Trust runs a madressah. It’s trying to sell the premises, due to financial mismanagement, but there’s little danger that a new venue won’t be found for the madressah if the new owners don’t want to share the building.

If the volunteers really want to reassure the community, they might wish to give their assurances that the BBC report about abuse in Islamic schools has no bearing on Gloucester. Islamic terrorism really is as much of a ‘Big Issue’ here as ‘bonkers boundaries’.

Despite the entry below, and despite the fact that my complaint to the Press Complaints Commission about, among other things, editor (in chief?) Ian Mean claiming the individuals who caused disturbances in Barton & Tredworth and the city centre in August were from my ward (the implication of claiming they ‘shamed’ B&T), has been rejected, for the spurious reason that a brief line four days later (almost) said otherwise, I do have to complement an organisation, or a part of it, when it’s merited.

Anyone who still visits the thisisgloucestershire website, particularly if they are interested in political stories, and especially ones involving Labour, will be aware of an individual going by the name of ‘James_Glos’, who for the most part, only posts comments against our Conservative MP, and in defence of the local Labour party and ex-MP Parmjit Dhanda. When I was able to post, I used to use his name in inverted commas because unlike myself, he is cagey about his identity, which is the hallmarket of a ‘Red Flag’ style sockpuppet. The only purpose of ‘James’ seems to be running online interference for the aforementioned local party.

Yesterday, ‘James’ posted this, below the ‘Date with your MP’ article:

Wednesday, October 26 2011, 2:35PM

“Tim, I’ve no idea who “my lot” are but I’m afraid whoever is MP there performance is going to be judged and commented on. I don’t think Mr Graham has done very well thus far, so I’ve said that.

I assume you were equally saddened when the previous MP was criticised on those pages. In fact I’d have thought you would have been more than saddened since the abuse was real quite crazy. So much so that a harassement order and a ban from this website were required for the main perpetrator. An honest critique of Mr Graham’s performance doesn’t really compare with that does it?”

The last part contains a reference to a rather despicable attempt by Parmjit Dhanda to gag me in the run-up to the last general election, which failed in its intent but was ultimately a success in that, although the local police completely mishandled their attempt to serve me with a harassment warning order, when I later referred to PC Steven Crown in a TiG article about (another?) city centre police officer abusing his authority, it was enough to get me banned from TiG, which ultimately has led to a whole world of hurt.

So, since the above comment is also pretty despicable when I have no way of responding, I complained about the post when I saw it yesterday, on the grounds of ‘libel’. That didn’t work, perhaps because TiG’s moderation company don’t view it as untrue. Just as I didn’t think what I said in passing about local Labour so many months back, and would say about any main party, being economical with the truth, was in the least bit controversial. This being the case, I reported the comment again, as ‘abuse’. This tends to always work, because nowadays, it’s enough to just say one feels offended by something for it to be labelled as offensive, without question. I rather suspect that it was ‘James’ or someone very like him, who made the same complaint about my innocuous comment. Innocuous, certainly, when compared to other comments on TiG that are left alone because nobody has an axe to grind with the commenter.

And work it has. Before 10:20 this morning, the comment was still there. After 10:20 it wasn’t. So my praise where it’s due is that everyone, even me, has an equal right, in the eyes of TiG’s moderation company, to get comments removed if they choose to take it.

Of course, as Marge Simpson once said, ‘That’s not necessarily a good thing…’

P.S. some people might question why I should get a comment removed, then re-post it here. Well, it isn’t the lousy comment, it’s the fact, mentioned above, that I don’t have the opportunity to respond. People can say any nasty thing about me they like as long as I have right of reply. Having that denied is quite frustrating. It’s funny, but with Richard Graham being such a disappointment (really, more so than I could ever have thought), and the Liberal Democrats being their typical selves, I flirted with the idea that, even with Dhanda still on board, there was little other choice but Labour. ‘James’ has reminded me why our local branch are still, for the most part, a shabby, untrustworthy bunch.

I mean, other people must be able to read their articles and appreciate just how devoid of journalistic merit most of them – OK, let’s say ‘many of them’ – are?

Warning signs flash merrily when the headline ‘Boy racers rev up again in Cheltenham’ hoves into view. It’ll be about cruisers, of course, and people have complained before that ‘boy racers’ is a lazy journalist’s phrase which doesn’t describe the behaviour of the vast majority of cruisers, who annoy residents more by being parked up in one place than ‘racing’ anywhere.

Then the report goes on to inform us that the council want to designate the Kingsditch Retail Park as an ‘accident hotspot’, citing three motoring accidents which, shady as my knowledge of what vehicles cruisers like to invest their money in, don’t seem to involve cruisers at all. And the Cheltenham Cruiser Working Group, consisting of ‘police, Cheltenham Borough Council, Highways, residents and parish councillors’, doesn’t appear to include any… cruisers. Perhaps if it did, the problems this working group appear to face wouldn’t have persisted as long as they have. What is it, getting on for five years now? More?

I’d like a closer look at the (parish) council’s data, before buying into any notions that cruisers are a bigger problem on our roads than a lot of other silly buggers who somehow managed to bluff their way through a driving test.

However, a year back, maybe two, there would have been dozens of responses to this story, from both sides of the equation, and varying in degrees of knowledge. Now it seems most people have just given up challenging the drivel the Cheltenham newsroom produces. If anyone out there uses Facebook, and wants an outlet for their criticisms that TIG can’t censor, or just wants to comment on a story that TiG has inexplicably denied responses to, this is worth a shot: Bring Back The REAL Citizen.