Saturday, 22 November 2008

Hi Folks,

I have decided to take a break from writing The First Supper. The time has come to re-assess, re-group and re-organise. When I have news I will start up on here again.
Until then very best wishes to every one of you, especially those of you who have contributed with your comments. Seasons greetings and have a wonderful 2009.


Edgar Broughton

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Gordon Brown has promised he will “do everything in my power" to ensure there is no repeat of the brutal death of Baby P”. Not good enough and it never will be until the government drops it’s insane obsession for creating a paper mountain made of pages and pages of forms and returns from social workers. Social workers are required to spend hours of their precious time writing reports and ticking boxes in order to demonstrate to the government that all is well. It is not. Many social workers are prevented from doing their job and so they are disillusioned and de-motivated. Nice one Gordon though the blame lies more with traitor Blair.
It has been said that many social workers see their main task to be getting the statistical returns in on time. The welfare of clients is compromised in such a negative climate with such preposterous objectives. I have seen the same culture developed in my local Children’s service for whom I worked until recently. I am now unemployed and glad to be free of a system dominated by the same burocratic obsession with ticking boxes.
There is a plan to allocate access to social workers via call centres. The idea is monstrous and in my opinion devastatingly destructive. It is designed to remove people from waiting lists who will either not fit new criteria or will not have the means to access the service.
A social worker recently told me that “ the only thing that is readily on offer to most clients is meals on wheels” and that things are getting worse by the week. Money is wasted on burocratic rituals while people go months with out proper access to WHAT THEY NEED.
It is understandable that we all want to see the people negligent in the tragic case of baby P brought to book but we must look at the bigger picture. The fact is that today services and quality of service is being eroded and dismantled by a labour government. They have become so detached from our reality they are no longer able to meet the needs of the vulnerable.
One of the contributing factors to this mess is the decline in credibility of political statistics. Paddy Ashdown recently described this as due to an increasing lack of honest transparency among our politicians. In other words we can’t trust them and if the boxes are not ticked they will juggle the forms and resulting statistics until they are happy with the result. One in four posts in Social services are vacant and I suspect it is far worse in some areas
While I was till working in my local Childrens services in Wandsworth I became directly involved in a case of a young man at risk. My line manager had no idea as to what route should be taken. When ever I protested that nothing was being done I was told that as I had reported the facts to a senior manager my job was done. I was not happy with progress so I pushed some buttons again and eventually the young man was allocated a place of safety but only at the last minute and in my opinion this only happened because I kept pushing. Another case of every one too busy ticking boxes?
Recently the government introduced a scheme requiring all public service workers at all levels to act when ever they thought a child to be at risk. The intention was eventually to make all adults responsible in law for intervening for such a child whether it be to make a phone call or to intervene in some other way. What a fantastic idea I thought! Finally all children are OUR CHILDREN. Proper socialism at last. Sadly the Nevres Kamal the social worker who “ blew the whistle” in Haringey (all local authorities have a whistle blowing policy) was sanctioned and ultimately ignored. A letter from her legal representatives is copied below.

Ms P Hewitt MPSecretary of State for the Department of HealthHouse of CommonsLondonSW1A 0AA
Our ref: LD/KemalYour ref:
Strictly Private and Confidential
16 February 2007
Dear Secretary of StateMs Nevres Kemal v Haringey Council
We act for the above-named Claimant. She worked as a senior social worker at Haringey Council and discovered that child abuse victims were not being protected. Haringey of course is the home of the Climbie tragedy.
Our client's claims follow similar recent revelations in Westminster and Leeds. Statutory child protection procedures are not being followed. Child sex abusers are not being tackled.
Our client whistle-blew the fact that the sexual abuse had been ongoing for months and the new management brought in post-Climbie had not acted. She was then targeted for a witch-hunt by management who sought to dismiss her. She received a final written warning and was transferred out of child protection.
Our client won her racial discrimination and whistle-blowing claims (copy attached) at Watford ET on 15 February 2007 (copy decision attached).
We write to ask for a public inquiry into these matters.
Yours sincerely,
Equal Justice Ltd

The enquiry will roll on and we will be told some thing palatable at the end of it but while Social services are allowed to decline we will get no where. It is time this government acted responsibly and effectively to ensure that sufficient funding is available for training and resourcing social workers.. So far it has failed miserably to such an extent that it’s policies have eroded not improved existing services. They have made significant positive changes in some areas of the work and how it is carried out such as new procedures for dealing with rape victims and there are others but the overall effect of their target driven obsessions is mostly detrimental.
Mean while we must all be vigilant where children are concerned. We must be ready to intervene if we think any child is at risk. I will never forget the young woman who challenged me while I was pushing my three year old son in his buggy in the dark. She over heard me say to him “ you don’t know where you are now do you?” ( it was part of a game we played when he couldn’t sleep) She thought this was odd and she turned to ask him – “ do you know this man?” He told her I was his daddy and she apologised to me. No need. I wanted to kiss her. What a brave and loving thing to do! Don’t hesitate. Participate.


Copyright e d g a r b r o u g h t o n 2008

Monday, 10 November 2008

bah humbug ?

Losses at Europe's biggest bank, HSBC, relating to the US housing market crisis reached $4.3bn (£2.7bn) in the third quarter.
The unprecedented turbulence in financial markets continued to present "enormous challenges", the bank added.

The times they are a changing. The recent financial crisis is responsible for the forming of different attitudes regarding the difference between what is necessary and what is desirable in the mind of the consumer. We knew about the difference all the time but in times of boom we all tend to spend a little more on the fripperies and desirables as opposed to the necessities. We all know about the struggles of the local shop against the might of the four giant superstores but today the Co-operative society announced a 25% increase in turnover. You may know that the good old Co-op is basically a socialist organisation and it looks as though people are becoming increasingly choosy about where they spend their money. I am in the process of moving what little I have to them and I know of at least one other person who is going to do the same. Recently Shoreham Steve wrote a lengthy comment to a post on my blog which outlined his attempts to deal only with ethical business. Not so easy but always laudable to try. More and more people will respond favourably to the fair trade companies and will slowly reject the wasters and users i.e. the major banks and their dodgy chums.

Are the high streets dying? I don’t think so. Just evolving but people will begin to hang on to their old mobile phone a bit longer and they will probably hang on to their cash rather than spend it on the luxury items. If the shops that only sell unnecessary goods were removed from the scene entirely then what would be left? Not much. Our local high street at Clapham Junction is no exception and is made up of the usual shops. They all sell stuff no one needs. Most of us have what we need though of course I accept there are far too many exceptions.
Recently Brown said he hoped his measures would encourage the banks to start lending again. That is what caused the problems in the first place so it is imperative that they, the banks, are monitored closely. Brown also thinks that new tax cuts will encourage consumer spending. Great! Lets all go and buy more stuff we don’t need.

I am no financial expert as you will have already deduced from this post but I do believe we have to begin to look at a personal policy around spending that addresses three basic issues if at all possible.
1. Do we need the new purchase?
2. If we do was it made responsibly in terms of the effects on environment?
3. Did the people who made it get a fair price for a fair days work in a safe , healthy work environment?

Some of you will already know how difficult it is to buy in this way but we have to begin to demand the option, partly by refusing to buy what does not meet our standards. Boycott the decorative, the trivia and the fripperies and have a sensible Christmas. Give to the poor and the children and try not to give too much to the venture capitalist and the high Street muggers. If you can’t eat it, it doesn’t save you money or you can’t wear it, keep an old person warm with it, make some thing useful ( tools) OR make a child very happy for longer than three days then don’t buy it.
If people down sizing their Christmas spend causes businesses to go to the wall it is probably a case of natural wastage and or survival of the fittest which many of those failing businesses would have claimed when the boot was on an others foot. The decline in the high street that you think you might be seeing could be the beginning of some thing radically more realistic and viable. Let us hope so.

Finally I would like to hear what others think and what strategies they employ when spending. The best comment will receive a free goodie from the EB Band catalogue.


copyright e d g a r b r o u g h t o n 2008

Monday, 3 November 2008

Ray Dixey

Old roadies never die at least not in so far as they are integral to the life of the band and therefore to the history and legend. Ray and I keep in touch via e-mail and he comes to gigs when he can. I think some times Ray misses the camaraderie and in his own words being “ connected”. Now our Ray is some thing of a writer like me so between us the idea evolved that it would be fun to have him write an occasional piece about the old days or any thing else he fancied. He has a caustic wit when addressing the petty burocracy that plagues us all so don’t be surprised if we get some commentary on modern life in forth coming contributions. Any way enough from me. Let’s have Ray introduce himself.

Kindly Rob has let me (big)Ray Dixey write a piece for his weblog.
I first met the band when they were a 3 piece band in the 60s with Rob and Steve’s mum Joyce driving them to their gigs. At the time I was with a bike club and got invited up to Warwick where the band were doing a gig through the streets on the back of a flat back lorry and needed some back up.The next time I met the band was at a free concert at Hyde Park corner at a benefit gig for the people squatting at 144 Piccadilly, a large enpty house which could have been used for helping the homeless of London.The 3rd time I met up with the band was at a gig in Bracknell, Berkshire and hung around after the gig to help the road crew strip down the bands gear and load the truck.Rob and co. must have been impressed at my enthusiasm and being unemployed I was offered a job to start the next day with the 3 other crew members,which turned out to be 5 days of back to back work the first gig being up Liverpool,the second in Kent, the third was Hull,fourth Swansea and the fifth in London.As there was now 4 in the road crew and only 3 seats in the truck I made a bed in the back curled up inside one of the W.E.M. p.a. horns and think I got more sleep than the rest of the crew over the 5 days.There were times over the next 10 years when the EB Band didn’t tour. At these times I took on tours with other bands and worked my way up through the ranks learning how to sound mix. I had my name on Geno Washingtons,Geno live at the marquee. Later I was offered a job as a p.a. hire manager and assistant manager of a rehearsal studio working out of Pinewood Film Studios where as I had a lot of muscle and could bench press 400lb I got not only to be minder to The Beach Boys, I also got to do the sound monitoring for them while they rehearsed for a press gig in a London hotel.I retired from the music business in 1983 as the company went bust. My father had just died and I sold my house in London to buy a bungalow in Essex near my sister and became a carer to my blind mother until she passed away.I now live in South Wales half way up a mountain and have just recently had quadruple by-pass surgery.More later.
Love to all,Big Ray.

I have to express my disgust and condemnation on hearing the news that last month a teenage girl in the Kurdish region of Iraq was stoned to death by a group of men. It is believed that 17-year-old Doa Khalil Aswad, who came from the Yezidi faith community, was killed because she had fallen in love with a local Muslim man. Her death was filmed by her killers and the video posted on the internet. Amnesty International has described the killing of Doa as “abhorrent” and says it is becoming increasing concerned about the number of honour killings in Iraq.

An Islamic court in northern Nigeria has postponed an appeal hearing on behalf of a woman sentenced to death by stoning for the crime of adultery

An Islamist rebel administration in Somalia has had a 13-year-old girl stoned to death for adultery after the child's father reported that she was raped by three men.
Amnesty International said al-Shabab militia, which controls the southern city of Kismayo, arranged for 50 men to stone Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow in front of about 1,000 spectators. A lorry load of stones was brought to the stadium for the killing.
Amnesty said Duhulow struggled with her captors and had to be forcibly carried into the stadium.
According to Amnesty International, at one point during the stoning nurses were instructed to check whether Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was still alive when buried in the ground. They removed her from the ground, declared that she was, and she was replaced in the hole where she had been buried for the stoning to continue. Inside the stadium, militia members opened fire when some of the witnesses to the killing attempted to save her life, and shot dead a boy who was a bystander."
During her trial Duhulow was originally reported by witnesses as being 23 years old, based on her appearance, but established from her father that she was a child. He told Amnesty that when they tried to report her rape to the militia, the child was accused of adultery and detained. None of the men accused was arrested.
A man has either to confess his adultery to the court or four men must have witnessed the act for the male “adulterer” to be held accountable. Nothing surprising there then.

Apart from the horror of such vile practice a whole nation is brutalised and slowly inured to such savagery and ultimately corrupted. Any body left to complain or protest will be swallowed up and disappeared. It seems the darkest days are still to come. There is little any of us can do except to add our voices to the protest when we can. Meanwhile Amensty International need our cash to continue the fight for reasoned justice so please give what you can spare.

Big Brother/ Father is vetting you? As a Vatican watcher I was intrigued by the latest announcement concerning the induction of new priests. Is the proposal for a Vatican edict to profile and vet men who wish to become priests a sound idea? The aim of the new process will be to determine if the candidates for priesthood are likely to be able to control their sexual urges.

Thank you for the kind birthday greetings. May all your days be happy.


Copyright e d g a r b r o u g h t o n 20008