2024

Back cover image of the dec 1975 issue of “issues in radical therapy” (via danielle carr on Twitter.)

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File under HamasIsrael don’t care about their own people?

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2023

THRIVING?

My son’s school’s Thrive teacher is leaving. She helped transform my lad’s experience of school from being one where he had weekly if not daily challenges with regulating his emotions and his behaviour, to one where he enjoys school every day. She’s going to be very greatly missed. I managed to tell her this today and thank her for her work. It was so sad to hear her story. She has committed ten years of her life to helping our youngsters get the best start in life, and done lots of extra work getting accredited to do so.

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TORYBOY

ToryBoy The Movie is the account of filmmaker John Walsh’s disillusionment with what he saw as the corruption, lies, hypocrisy and general incompetence of Blair’s Labour government, and his conversion to the Conservative (Tory) Party general election candidate for Middlesbrough in 2010. Under his own steam and £15,000 of his own money, John found his opponent, Sir Stuart Bell, the serial incumbent Labour MP, invisible and unknown to his local constituents who nevertheless voted him back in every four or five years (albeit with an ever diminishing majority).

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WRITING TO MY MP: ICJP - COMPLICITY IN WAR CRIMES

Adapted from this template letter. Dear Mr Sharma, My esteemed representative: I write to you today with a heavy heart, weighed down by the profound disappointment I feel in your recent actions. Your unwavering support for Israel, despite its blatant disregard for international law and its commission of war crimes, has cast a shadow over your impartiality and your ability to hold office effectively. The recent decision by the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) to serve written notice to Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer of their intention to prosecute UK governmental officials for their role in aiding and abetting Israeli war crimes has sent shockwaves through our nation.

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CURRICULUM VITAE (REPETITUM)

Following on from my success delivering the news to my local community, I took a break from the world of (very part-time) work to focus on… playing in my first bands. And learning to play the guitar. Much of which came at the expense of any interest in or motivation to study, or revise for ‘O’ Levels, and later ‘A’ Levels. Living in a small rural market town, some of my friends, and my own younger brother, in fact, had Saturday jobs bush beating - literally (as far as I know) beating bushes to encourage game birds to fly to their sporting deaths.

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Last night, I watched ToryBoy The Movie. This morning, I watched unelected former Tory Prime Minister and Jewish National Fund patron David Cameron become the UK’s new Foreign Secretary.

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Where we’re at. “Humans are complex and flawed.” “Nazis were only human.” “Hamas are animals and must be slaughtered.” “Palestinians don’t count.”

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After more than three weeks of Israel’s “targeted” bombing of Hamas in Gaza, Starmer claims that a ceasefire now “would leave Hamas with the infrastructure and the capabilities to carry out the sort of attack we saw on October 7.”

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PROPAGANDA

Last night, I was away in the middle of nowhere with no wifi and very poor data connection, so put on the TV to watch the BBC/ITV news at ten. Haven’t watched it for fifteen years or more. It was pure propaganda for Israel. Jeremy Bowen even said as much: “This is what they want you to see” (as opposed the genocide in Gaza).

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PAY RISE

I haven’t had a pay rise since April 2017. Taking into account the cost of living increases year on year, and especially in the last year or two, I’ve effectively taken a pay cut every year. To be fair, I was thankful to have a job at all during and after covid. Thanks to Kate Morley’s historical UK inflation rates and price conversion calculator, I now know how much I should be earning if my pay had kept up with inflation.

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FREE PALESTINE

There seems to be a co-ordinated drive to obliterate Palestine, and Palestinians, from the map. I find it very upsetting that my government, and many other “Western” governments are wholeheartedly supporting Israel’s genocidal “self-defence” narrative. Nothing justifies carpet-bombing innocent people - mostly women and children. Nothing justifies cutting off their supplies of electricity, water, food, fuel. The sadistic Netanyahu told Palestinians in Gaza to leave, then bombed the crossing into Egypt while they tried to do so.

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CLASS

Thinking about Maths at school, got me thinking about the origin and meaning of class. It’s a classic word, and means so many different things depending on the context in which it’s used. Its Roman origin relates to the dividing up of society, or groups of people for war or military objectives. My Latin teacher at school was obsessed with lining up the desks and chairs at the end of each lesson.

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RESPONSES TO MY OPEN LETTER TO PETER MASON

I got a reply to my open letter to Peter Mason[pdf], Leader of Ealing Council, and one of my local ward councillors. Slightly oddly, he addressed it not just to me, but also to CASH (Clean Air for Southall and Hayes, and my neighbour Angela Fonso (who heads up the campaign group. You can see a record of all Mason’s Letters to CASH, if you’re interested in the history. I’d also submitted two Freedom of Information requests(FOIs) to try to get answers, as I didn’t expect a reply (as he has never replied directly to any of my previous questions).

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OPEN LETTER TO PETER MASON

Publishing this as it’s in the public interest and I’ve had no reply to my original email sent on 1st July (Mason has, as far as I know, several personal assistants who read and respond to his emails, even if it’s just a holding acknowledgement response - I’ve had one before, as well as a next day reply, and a ‘no reply at all’). I’ve also now submitted two Freedom of Information requests to get answers to my questions.

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Based on [residents'] feedback, Ealing Council has drawn up a list of ideas to reduce congestion and to make walking, cycling and using public transport easier in Southall. There are links to the survey results and to a new survey.

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Adam Curtis (1984), The Great British Housing Disaster, on how local councils dealt with unsafe new housing developments. “Privately, they know that their tenants are at risk, but publicly they have to try to defend the decision to leave them…”

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Local council elections today in many areas. Don’t forget you now need to take some form of id with you (passport, driving licence, or something else from this list).

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RISKS TO HEALTH FROM REMEDIATING SOUTHALL GASWORKS

AI is more ethical than Ealing Labour Party. No money was exchanged. What are the risks to health from remediating Southall Gasworks on site in the open air? The land is highly contaminated with benzene, naphthalene and a while host of other VOCs, PAHs, heavy metals, “blue billy” and asbestos, and surrounded by residential streets. The local community is mostly of south Asian and African heritage, and it is known that people with this heritage can be genetically vulnerable to naphthalene poisoning.

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I AM THE LEADER OF EALING COUNCIL

I asked Google Bard to advise me on a local matter. I am the leader of Ealing Council. I have received more than 250 reports about a BAD odour nuisance and air pollution from the remediation of the highly contaminated Southall Gasworks land. We had a public meeting where 250 angry residents complained about health problems as a result of the air pollution, including eye, nose and throat irritation, respiratory problems and infections, and even cancer and death of loved ones.

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UNDER POISONED SKIES

Watched Under Poisoned Skies on BBC iPlayer last night. It’s the sad and shocking story of children in Iraq dying from leukaemia as a result of toxic air pollution from mega rich oil companies burning off excess natural gas in the open air near their homes. Benzene (found in the air) and naphthalene (found in the children’s urine samples) are the main carcinogens. Levels of benzene are between 3 and 9.

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SOUTHALL RESIDENTS TO GIVE BLOOD SAMPLES

After six years of campaigning for justice: “The fact that gas used to be manufactured from coal has been lost to the public consciousness, but the chemical legacy remains.” “These communities already have multiple disadvantages with air pollution, overcrowding and poor housing. This is another burden being placed on them.” Via: Scientists to examine health fears at west London luxury development

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HORSESHIT PARADE

I visited the Palace of Westminster this week with my big kid on an educational school trip. It was a very cold, wet and windy day, and we were patriotically under-dressed and sans brollies. We took a good lashing from Mother Nature. The tour of the Houses of Parliament was cool, dry and stuffy, and the little radio headphones we were given so we could hear better were sub-optimal. The House of Commons was closed to ordinary commoners like us, but the House of Lords was open as long as we refrained from parking our cold, wet and windy working class bums on our superiors' ‘holier than thou’ red leather benches.

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Finally got around to watching Our Friends In The North. ‘None of the issues the show mines so brilliantly – from inequality, deindustrialisation and the parlous state of Britain’s housing to homelessness and the corruption of our public officials – have gone away.’

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‘…housebuilders appear to be making ever greater profits.’ ‘[they] …blame the planning system, the costs of materials and labour for elevated prices. It’s also popular to blame land prices.’ ‘The evidence to back up this claim is hard to find.’

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‘…according to research by the London Tenants Federation, we are demolishing more social housing than we are building. Economics makes that inevitable.’ www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/opin

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Solidarity with all teachers today, especially those striking for better pay. Eight year old is at home, and refusing to practice for his spelling test tomorrow because he doesn’t want to be a scab.

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‘…financial liberalisation, mortgage reform and lack of investment in the existing building stock has transformed English homes into crumbling vehicles for the accumulation of wealth.’ We need more than new homes - Positive Money

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No tipping or dumping.

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‘…prioritises the maintenance of public housing, which is crucial in ensuring that people have a roof over their heads and a comfortable place to live’ Singapore housing policy

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RESPONSE TO EALING'S AIR QUALITY STRATEGY AND ACTION PLAN

Ealing Council’s draft Air Quality Strategy is a 64 page document together with a 40 page Action Plan, and the consultation period runs until 30 January 2023. It’s taken me the best part of six weeks, all my spare time over Christmas and New Year, to get through it all, make notes and cross-reference to try to make sense of it all and offer some feedback. Really, there must be a much longer consultation period if Ealing Council is genuinely interested in residents' views.

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New podcast, International Marxist Radio (IMR). The first episode features Ealing’s own Joe Attard speaking to In Defence of Marxism (IDOM) editor-in-chief Alan Woods. Well worth a listen, Alan is a very knowledgeable and engaging speaker.

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2022

THE PROPERTY LOBBY: THE HIDDEN REALITY BEHIND THE HOUSING CRISIS IN EALING

There will be 14,800 new homes in 23 new developments in Southall over the next few years. 14 units over 10 stories high, and 7 over 20 stories high. Up to 40,000 new residents (and their cars)! One third of the total new developments in the whole of Ealing borough (only Acton is getting it worse). So not happening so much in the ‘white’ or richer areas of the borough, for some reason.

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I know someone in a big old house where the temperature indoors now is not much higher than outdoors. They put their heating on and watched their smart meter tell them they’d spent £13 in an hour without really getting much warmer.

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We’re lucky that our modern little first floor flat has good insulation and retains heat. We started putting the heating on in the morning for no more than half an hour last week, and it’s soon toasty, and stays warm all day.

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Surprised I haven’t been asked to remove this review of FM Conway. Is 5,000 views a lot? I guess, at the end of the day, it makes no difference.

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Got soaked the skin collecting big kid from school (who, it turns out, ate and drank nothing all day…). Last time I got this wet was on my way to record this interview for the BBC…

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Regular exposure to even low levels of air pollution may cause changes to the heart similar to those in the early stages of heart failure… Low levels of air pollution linked to changes in the heart

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Public concerns over remediating the toxicity of the land… have not been addressed in the revised plans…. “no details have been provided” on the proposed remediation strategy. Brighton Gasworks developer changes plans to include affordable homes

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TRIGGER VOTE FOR SHARMA

In July 2019, I attended a public meeting with Public Health England to discuss air pollution problems created by the development of the old gasworks site. At this meeting, I asked Public Health England if it is true that people with Asian and African heritage are genetically more at risk from poisoning from naphthalene – one of the main causes of the stink coming from the gasworks site. Do you know what they said?

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2021

STRAWBERRIES FOR PIGS?

Little did we know at the time, but these little strawberries were usually engulfed in a toxic plume of benzene, naphthalene, and god only knows what else. Sensibly, the wife refused to eat them. We later discovered that official planning documents for the nearby old gasworks, which was being dug up in the open air for new homes to be built on the contaminated land, stated that no vegetables should be grown on the land.

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2020

CHAOS AND CONFUSION

If you thought last year was bad…. No one could have foreseen this! British coastguard sued by French charity for failing to save drowned refugees. Broccoli and cauliflower thrown away. A shortage of lorry drivers. Renationalised energy companies.

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NATIONALISING SAUSAGES

Navy gunboats defending our fish from the French. An army of Sikhs feeding European lorry drivers caught up in Kent. Shortages of broccoli and lettuce. Nationalising sausages doesn’t seem like such a crazy idea, now, does it?

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HIGH TRAFFIC NEIGHBOURHOOD

Took me an hour (as opposed to 10 minutes) to drive my lad home from school this afternoon, thanks in part to the High Traffic Neighbourhood (‘Improving access for HGVs’) in Southall ‘Green’. Like a rat, I tried the side streets and back roads option and found those to be jammed, too, and Scotts Road - although confusingly still two-way throughout - is now No Entry from the eastern end.

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2019

RETURN TO WORK

I returned to work last week after my extended absence due to respiratory illness, which may or may not be related to three years of breathing the poisonous gasworks' air. I find I now have to literally climb over two rough sleepers camped outside the door of my workplace in order to get in. There is no more space in the nearby doorway, and the doorway around the side entrance is similarly occupied.

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SOUTHALL UNDER SIEGE: THE NEIGHBOURS FROM HELL

‘A lack of scrutiny,’ says John Freeman, Regulatory Services Officer at Ealing Council. He’s talking about lessons to be learned from the council’s response to the new asphalt plant built in neighbouring Hillingdon borough in 2014. ‘We didn’t expect there to be so much odour from a new building, or so many complaints.’ Moving swiftly on. Oppressive odour The highly contaminated old gasworks site in Southall has been kicking up a stink, too.

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2018

INCONSIDERATE CONSTRUCTOR

Lorry driver on his phone while leaving ‘Southall Village’ building site, right next to school entrance during school run. Got a load more verbals from the driver and his colleagues on site - ‘Did he hit anyone?’, ‘He doesn’t work for us!’ All part of the Considerate Constructors Scheme, aka Couldn’t Care Less Scam.

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