BUSHELL ON THE BLOG


April 15. Two recent Populus opinion polls have put the Tories virtually neck and neck with the Labour Party. They’re on 33% to Labour’s 35% and 34% to 35%; and the gap is closing - a poor reflection on Miliband’s performance in opposition. With Cameron able to point to an economic recovery, Labour could well lose the 2015 general election. Here is how I think they could turn things around: 1) Take a leaf out of Obama’s book and concentrate on bread and butter workplace issues, like pay discrimination - women in full-time employment earn on average 10% less than men do, and that figure rises to 20% less if you include part-time workers 2) Campaign to raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour. These issues would go down well with Labour’s core vote. Ed could boost the party’s popularity in other ways too, but these mean slaughtering a few sacred cows. Like 3) On Europe, Miliband could severely nobble UKIP’s spurt in Labour constituencies by agreeing to a referendum on EU membership within months of getting elected – and then put the social democratic case for staying (socio-economic rights and protections) to the electorate. 4) On education, by restoring grammar schools Labour would reverse plummeting social mobility. 5) On MPs’ expenses, Miliband could draw a line under the scandal by proposing either a set allowance or a rise in MPs’ salaries (the former would be more popular). 6) On the economy, question the sustainability of Osborne’s “growth” – is it real, i.e. productive, or merely fuelled by government spending? Ed could propose immigration reform to protect wages and restrictions on foreign property ownership to keep urban housing affordable. 7) Make it easier to start and run small businesses, and workers’ co-operatives, by slashing red tape. 8) Back Co-op workers against their feather-brained and feather-bedded board… I don’t expect Miliband to take up any of my last six proposals, which is why the best way to make the Labour Party viable would be to find a new leader, preferably one with working class roots and some real-world experience. Something needs to be done because the growing gap between rich and poor, the squeezing of the middle class, and the feeling that ‘whoever we vote for we all get screwed’, fuel electoral cynicism and the appeal of fringe parties. Politics appears to be in the hands of a small caste of privileged liars whose biggest mission is to line their own pockets – not true of all MPs of course, but it’s a widespread feeling. The people at the bottom of the heap know they are being screwed like a Napoleonic whore when the fleet’s in town. The average citizen is losing out across the board – on jobs, wages, housing, health, education and pensions. And if the economy is growing, the benefits aren’t filtering down in a hurry. No wonder people are either apathetic or angry. The whole system needs reform. Giving us a genuine incentive to work, and a real say in how our society should be run would be a bloody good place to start.

April 13. The PacMan is back, man! Manny Pacquiao’s unanimous victory over Tim Bradley earlier this morning (UK time) was thoroughly deserved. Two years ago, he was stitched up by the judges who outrageously handed Bradley his WBO welterweight belt. This time there was no doubt. The 35-year-old Filipino southpaw was simply the better man; he was sharper, faster, smarter, hungrier and more effective, setting the pace for most of the bout. But inevitably PacMan’s victory is already over-shadowed by the biggest question in professional boxing: why can’t he fight Mayweather? It’s the tear-up the whole world wants to see. So why is it still unlikely? Simple – blame the suits. Relationships between Floyd Mayweather’s promoters, Golden Boy and Pacquiao’s promoters Top Rank are akin to the one between Kiev and The Kremlin: Cold War chilly. They won’t do business. Unfortunately Golden Boy also promote Amir Khan, Macos Maidana and Danny Garcia…which is why Manny is likely to fight Marquez next – for the fifth time – if the Mexican beats Mike Alvarado in Inglewood on 17th May. Top Rank’s Bob Arum has said: “The only people that can make Floyd Mayweather fight Manny is the public.” Sadly the chance of fight fans boycotting the Maidana bout on 3rd May, not buying tickets or Pay-Per-View, are about as slim as my chance of lasting a round with either of them.

In other fight news Paul Myners lost his battle with the Co-op this week. A board member called Myners’s resignation “a victory.” Yeah, it was a victory all right, a victory over reality. The Co-operative Group is about to unveil losses of more than £2.5billion. It has net debts of £1.2billion, and has been up shit creek since way before the Rev Flowers revelations, recklessly piling up debt by snapping up Somerfield in 2008. Only last Friday the Co-op Bank confirmed it had lost £1.3billion last year. Myners is not a Thatcherite shark; he was ennobled by the Labour Party. He tried to push through sensible reforms to put the Manchester-based mutual’s house in order. He proposed putting experienced business heads on the board as non-executive directors, replacing the present financial illiterates who were party to the failed Lloyds TSB acquisition bid and last year’s £1.5billion recapitalisation. Chris Kelly’s independent report is likely to name the guilty men - and boost Myners’s proposals to reform the corporate structure. If the group’s annual meeting rejects them, they will be like turkeys voting for Christmas; they’ll be signing the 170-year-old mutual’s death warrant. The Co-op may be a cherished brand but lenders won’t prop them up forever. How long before they are forced into liquidation?

Every now and then I get messages from people annoyed that I don’t think the same way I did 35 years ago. But life doesn’t happen in a void. We grow up, we deal with problems, our views change, our tastes change. I can’t stand that juvenile box mentality: “If you like Ska you can’t like Iron Maiden”, “You can’t talk to him because he votes for a party I don’t like/doesn’t dress like it’s 1981/isn’t content to doss through life in a permanent drunken haze” etc etc. As it happens, I’m perfectly comfortable liking punk rock and Bach, high-tech innovations and church architecture, Ivan Reis and J.M.M. Turner. And if anything I’m more convinced now of the need to fight for individual liberties. Isn’t it sadder to stick to your blinkered youthful beliefs against the evidence of experience? Dogmas are there to be questioned.

April 8. My new audio book Riff-Raff, Rebels & Rock Gods is on sale now. Subtitled, Confessions From The Glory Years Of Sounds, it packs in six whole hours of memories from a time before Simon Cowell when rock was real and pop was genuinely exciting. The cast of characters includes Ozzy and Iron Maiden unleashed in the USA, Hanoi Rocks in India, the Angelic Upstarts’ notorious prison gig, Rose Tattoo on the road, the Specials in New York, the Exploited in Berlin, The Selecter, Ritchie Blackmore, Twisted Sister, the Cockney Rejects, Judge Dread, Max Splodge and those legendary hell-raisers UFO – all for £7.50! Follow this link to download it straight to your computer

In 1978 I lucked my way into a staff job on the rock weekly Sounds. NME said punk was dead, but I was going out and seeing great bands every week – the Ruts, the Skids, the UK Subs, the Members and later the Upstarts and the Rejects. It was a magical time. I saw the Specials play their very first gig as the Specials supporting the Clash in Aylesbury. That was my first review in the paper! When the Mod revival started, I was there; and I was there for the birth pangs of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal too. Even to write these words unlocks a flood of memories: getting tongue-tied when I met Joe Strummer, going on the road with The Jam, becoming mates with Jimmy Pursey, eating pizza with U2, reviewing their demo tape, compiling the Oi albums, being mesmerised by Debbie Harry, being bamboozled into managing the Rejects, watching Def Leppard conquer the States, Ozzy Osbourne shaving off my eyebrows, getting rat-arsed with UFO... many, many times. Life is a drink and you get drunk when you’re young...For six years I had the best job in the world, then like a fool I walked away from it. And for the next three decades I’ve had people asking me about those glory days. What was Weller like? Is Ozzy really nuts? What crazy conspiracy kept the Gonads out of the charts...? You can’t put your arms around your memories, but you can sure as hell write a book about ’em. These were the best years of my life. I hope you enjoy them... because if you do, I’ll record part two and that will feature Ian Dury, The Clash, The Ruts, The Jam, Motörhead, Phil Lynott, Crass, Slade, Conflict, Gary Moore in Japan, The Skids, Seething Wells, Def Leppard, Eddie & The Hot Rods, Bob Geldof, The Mo-Dettes, The Eurhythmics, Bad Manners, the Business, the Last Resort , Status Quo, the great Butlin’s festival of the 60s and Engelbert Humperdinck. Those were the days, my friends...

Garry Bushell

April 5. It was Clegg v Farage round two in the week, and the Lib Dem leader lost hands down. Even if viewers aren’t sold on UKIP, they can spot a wrong’un and slippery Clegg tried to pull the wool over our eyes at least twice. Firstly by claiming again that Brussels only generates seven per cent of UK laws and regulations – the figure is closer to 70%. Secondly by denying that the EU has “an aim to militarize.” Clegg called this “a dangerous fantasy that simply is not true”, which suggests that he’s either misinformed or he’s lying through his teeth. He must know that the EU already has its own battle groups consisting of ‘highly trained, battalion-size formations (1500 soldiers each) - including all combat and service support as well as deployability and sustainability assets.’ (quote from their own website). Only last September the EU Parliament approved a Report entitled: EU Structures: State of Play & Future Prospects which called for a fully fledged EU Military Headquarters, stronger EU Battle Groups, and more financial expenditure on military equipment. Also last year, Martin Schulz, the speaker of the European Parliament said quite clearly: “If we wish to defend our values and interests, if we wish to maintain the security of our citizens, then a majority of MEPs consider that we need a headquarters for civil and military missions in Brussels and deployable troops.” A recent article in the Telegraph added more. ‘The European Union is planning to “own and operate” spy drones, surveillance satellites and aircraft as part of a new intelligence and security agency under the control of Baroness Ashton’, it revealed. ‘The controversial proposals are a major move towards creating an independent EU military body with its own equipment and operations. Officials told the Daily Telegraph that the European Commission and Lady Ashton’s European External Action Service want to create military command and communication systems to be used by the EU.’ In November Brussels approved a plan to produce military drones from 2020 onward. All of this of course makes perfect sense if your long-term goal is the creation of Europe as a nation state, but harder to explain if your strategy is to pretend you’re not planning that at all. Like Clegg and all our other empty suits do...

Ed Miliband was all up for including Farage in the leaders debates before the 2015 General Election... until now. What’s changed? Well, a) he’s seen him in action against Clegg and b) he’s realised that UKIP are just as much a threat to Labour votes as they are to Tory ones. I don’t think any second-rate, self-serving Establishment politician could lay a glove on Farage in this kind of encounter. You’d need to pit an articulate working class radical of the Left against him, because like Nigel, a true socialist also treasures our hard-won liberties, and our right to run our own country; a true socialist would also have a better shot at countering Farage’s brand of Thatcherite economics, even if their solutions (nationalisation, trade barriers, a larger state and much higher taxation) are a proven recipe for disaster. Bob Crow, who I had been lining up for my next Litopia podcast, would have been perfect. Who else is there?

Coming soon: my new audio book Riff-Raff, Rebels and Rock Gods – a journey through the glory years of Sounds in the company of Iron Maiden, The Specials, Ozzy Osbourne, UFO, The Exploited, Twisted Sister, the Selecter, Hanoi Rocks, Rose Tattoo, the Angelic Upstarts, Judge Dread, Ritchie Blackmore, the Cockney Rejects, ZZ Top and more... Watch this space.

March 28. A few months after he joined the Sex Pistols, Sid Vicious hooked up with beautiful 16-year-old Norwegian Teddie Dahlin who was acting as translator on the band's 1977 Scandinavian mini-tour. Smitten Sid, 20, had split up with girlfriend Nancy Spungen at the time, and begged Teddie to come back to England with him. If her horrified mother hadn't confiscated her passport, Sid might not have got back with Nancy, and might not have died tragically in New York nineteen months later. The course of punk rock history would have changed. In my latest Radio Litopia podcast, Teddie talks about her books A Vicious Love Affair: Remembering The Real Sid Vicious and Fast Living: Remembering The Real Gary Holton which charts the suspicious demise of the legendary Heavy Metal Kids front-man and TV star. My other guests are Cockney piano player Frankie ‘Boy’ Flame, and Phil Templar from New York Oi band The Templars. The lively show features largely brand new tracks by Stiff Little Fingers, Bishops Green, Chris Pope, Rust, Nick Welsh, The Antagonizers, Laurel Aitkin, the Evil Turkeys, The Outfit, Superyob, The Warriors, Jonny Cola & The A Grades, Epic Problem, and Close Shave. The show will be posted here within 24 hours.

Sorry to hear that Steve Moore has died. Steve worked with Alan Moore (no relation) on comic strips for Sounds back in the 70s before moving on to 2,000AD, Doctor Who Weekly, Warrior and Fortean Times. Steve was born and lived most of his life in Shooters Hill, south east London, and was eulogised strangely in Alan Moore’s Unearthing. He said he always knew his tombstone epitaph would be ‘Steve Moore – no relation.’

Diana Dors’s sex parties are back in the news, thanks to the Max Clifford trial. The late great Bob Monkhouse told me he’d gone along to one of them at her West End home in the 50s. Available young women, mostly dancers, were on tap, and Diana’s first husband Dennis Hamilton soon led Bob to a private bedroom with an obliging beauty. There was a catch though; unknown to the comedian, other party guests would gather in the room above to watch celebrities shag through a massive two-way mirror in the ceiling. Clever Bob worked out he was being set up as a peep-show and his ardour, if not his ’ard-on, dampened. Much like a News of the Screws hack, he made his excuses and left.

I write about the Clegg-Farage debate over at On The Box on Sunday, but let’s look at the three controversial issues arising from the televised showdown. First Clegg claimed that leaving the European Union would cost us three million jobs. But this figure only concerns jobs linked to the EU as an export market; it is nothing to do with British membership. Jonathan Portes of The National Institute of Economic & Social Research called the claim “totally implausible and certainly not based on evidence.” Clegg wouldn’t (and couldn’t) explain why the EU would want to stop trading with a non-member UK. Secondly, there was UKIP’s claim that EU membership costs the UK £55million a day. That figure doesn’t really add up either, although it’s probably an under-estimation. It’s difficult to calculate the actual sum as it involves direct and indirect costs. In 2010 the UK directly contributed around £6.9billion to the EU budget. We got about half of it back, but Brussels told us how to spend it. The indirect costs included the Common Agricultural Policy could be as high as £17billion per year according to the Global Britain think tank, while the Common Fisheries Policy costs us £4.7billion a year. The cost of Brussels-imposed regulation is thought to be at least £48.7billion, and on top of that we’d have to add the cost of bailing out struggling member states like Greece. Farage’s figure is wrong, the EU actually costs us a lot more than £55mill a day. The final and biggest supposed controversy was the UKIP leader accusing the EU of having “blood on its hands” over Ukraine. Clegg has said he was “shocked” by Farage’s “extremism.” Tory minister Andrew Lansley called it “outrageous” and demanded that Farage withdraw his comments. Unfortunately for Lansley, the accusation has formidable support among his fellow Tories. In a new Bruges Group film, Norman Tebbit muses: “It must look to a Russian that this is a rather aggressive posture being taken by the European state.” Tory MP John Redwood accuses the EU of provoking Putin into flexing his military muscles. While another Tory, Bernard Jenkin (MP for Harwich & North Essex and enthusiastic nudist) describes those who want action against Russia as Euro-neo-cons spreading instability within Eastern Europe. He says that the EU’s actions are “on the way to causing a civil war” in Ukraine. At the other end of the spectrum, the Trotskyist Fourth International has also accused Berlin of “fomenting civil war.”

Black Sabbath’s Master Of Reality album has just been re-released on vinyl, along with their debut album, Black Sabbath and Paranoid. Masters, the band’s 1971 third LP, was short but massively influential. This was where Sabbath consolidated their trademark sound, with guitarist Tony Iommi tuning his guitar down to C sharp, making the band’s already awesome heaviness darker and deeper – a trick rock guitarists still copy. The stand-out tracks are Ozzy’s hymn to cannabis, ‘Sweet Leaf’, the gloriously riff-heavy ‘Into The Void’ and protest anthem ‘Children Of The Grave’ (‘Revolution in their minds, the children start to march... ’) Stoner metal and doom metal started here.

Demented German Stalinists have accused me of being a rabid right-winger because nine years ago I stood as a general election candidate in Greenwich & Woolwich. Let’s be clear about this. I stood on a platform of creating an English Parliament and calling for an English bill of rights. If anyone can explain to me why these demands are “right wing” or “extreme” in any way, I’d be extremely grateful. The big problem for the Stalinists is that I stood on an English Democrats ticket. Was this a mistake? The party chairman Robin Tilbrook, an Essex solicitor, assured me that they were a pan-political campaign, promoting a cause that crosses the boundaries of the tired (and inaccurate) old left/right divide and which was relevant to all democrats. The second time I met him was at a Campaign for an English Parliament meeting inside the House of Commons. As far as I can see, the campaign had and has more Old Labour supporters than right-wing ones. I was never a member of the party, but I took them at their word and stood on my own terms. Later developments made me, and many others, question their judgement. But I still think Robin is a good egg – I never once heard him say anything remotely ‘dodgy’ – and I advocate the cause of an English Parliament to this day. Compared to Tilbrook, the anti-democratic, libel-prone, intolerant Stalinists are the proper wrong’uns.

Why do old-fashioned Marxists believe so strongly that they, and only they, are in the right when their history is so full of shocking mistakes, brutality and mass murder? The problem is that if you believe as they do that Marx was to history as Darwin was to science then your convictions become incontrovertible truths, in your head at least. But as my clever friend Matt reminds me, Karl Kautsky called the Russian Revolution right. Lenin falsified Marx to justify the Bolshevik uprising, Kautsky knew no good could possibly come of it. He called them dictatorial “Blanquists” rather than Marxists; Lenin called him a “shit-head”.

March 22. The more I think about Scottish independence, the more it winds me up. The English are part of this union too, so why don’t we get a vote on our future? It’s like a marriage where the wife says she’s thinking about divorcing you, she’s got this other fella, Brussels, on the go, but it’s her business, so keep your nose out, pal, you’ve no’ got a say in it. Granted it’s a complicated marriage, a polygamous one, Wales and Northern Ireland are also in the bed, and Brussels has been screwing all of us while telling us we’re made for each other (the slag); but essentially the analogy is right. What irks is that for decades now, the English have been bending over backwards to keep Scotland happy – giving her extra cash, devolving power, and spending fortunes on her Parliament while allowing Scottish MPs to keep having a disproportionate say in ours. It’s ended up with Scotland getting Holyrood, Wales and NI having regional assemblies, and the English having... sod all. We’re supposed to make do with the old UK Parliament, even though it remains weighted in Scotland’s favour. So the Scots make their own decisions, while the Scottish Labour block vote helps keep Miliband strong in Westminster – no matter how England votes. You don’t need Rachel Riley to work out that this effectively gives the Jock electorate two votes to the English electorate’s one... which surely stinks like a Glasgow khazi after fifteen pints of wee heavy and a deep-fried haggis. I don’t dislike the Scots, but I’m sick of hearing them whining about Thatcher’s 1989 poll tax. Slippery liar Blair and Gordon ‘prudent’ Brown did a lot more damage south of the border - they raided the coffers, attempted to split England up into regions and deliberately encouraged reckless levels of immigration. It was as if they wanted to wipe out England all together. So what are the English going to do? Are we content to let our tartan partners wear the strap-on, or are we finally going to wake up and stand up for our democratic rights too? The English need to put England first. We need to demand a referendum on EU membership and we need to campaign for our own Parliament. Because even if by some miracle the UK were to leap free of the corrupt Brussels monster tomorrow, the current national set-up is more unbalanced than Casey Batchelor doing handstands in a strong gale. It has to change. Ideally we need a proper internal federal structure, giving English voters the right to run our affairs just as the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish do. The English Parliament should sit in the Commons, with a second house, representing UK interests replacing the Lords, which has been tarnished by an influx of creeps, toadies and yes-men - another unwelcome legacy of the old New ‘Labour’ pantomime.

March 19. Everyone is saying how good the budget is but as far as I can see the country is still £1.2 trillion in the red, with debt rising, while productivity is flatter than a crepe suzette that has been used all night as a lurv mattress by Gemma Collins and Arg... If that’s good, I’d hate to see their idea of bad is. It’s being called the beer and bingo budget because Osborne snipped a pittance off the price of a pint and halved bingo duty “to help hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy”... which would be wonderful if this was 1960 and TV was still in black and white (Wot? No jellied eels rebate; no discount on brown and mild?) Cutting income tax and halving stamp duty land tax would have been considerably more helpful, Geo, old fruit.

Here I am earlier tonight with Joe ‘King Arthur’ Pasquale at Spamalot. I followed the likes of Terry Alderton and Heather Small, who I’m often mistaken for, to play Sir Knight Not Appearing Tonight. This joyous, barking mad Monty Python inspired musical is now closer to an upbeat adult panto than the lavish pastiche of Broadway it once was, but it’s still certain to tickle Python fans. Bonnie Langford’s vocals are surprisingly strong. (And what she gets up to backstage is just as funny as what the audience see out front).

March 15. This blog is closing down for a bit. Toodle pip.

March 14. First Bob Crow, now Tony Benn... someone put a guard around Vanessa Redgrave quick. To lose one iconic figure of the Left in a week was sad, two is tragic; three would suggest that God was running some sort of sick sweepstake. The former 2nd Viscount Stanley Anthony Wedgewood Benn was a lot posher than Crow but just as principled (out of office at least). A brilliant orator, Benn was a great believer in democracy and like Bob Crow he was adamantly opposed to the EU. In 2007 he pleaded with Gordon Brown to give the British people an EU referendum. He called it the “most bureaucratic, terrifying system in the world” and said that the Treaty of Lisbon was “being imposed on us on the grounds it's tidying-up... if tidying up involves tearing up the British constitution it’s a very interesting definition.” The Labour government refused us that referendum, despite having promised one in their 2005 manifesto. Speaking at a Labour Euro-safeguards campaign fringe meeting, Benn said that the “absolutely undemocratic” EU should be reformed and power handed back to nation states and elected politicians. He also spoke out against the “death of democracy” with the increasing dominance of unelected supranational bodies and multinational corporations. Tony Benn was wrong about many things, but he was right about that. Benn was one of the last voices from an era which valued mavericks, an era when politicians dared to stand up for their actual beliefs. You might not have agreed with the likes of Powell, Benn, Thatcher or Foot, but you knew they spoke from the heart. Farage is cut from the same cloth, which is why he connects with the public. They’re a different breed from today’s spineless hustlers. If Farage speaks for the free marketers, who speaks for socialism now?

March 13. Nigel Farage is denying accusations that he had an affair with an aide. There is no evidence whatsoever, and it sounds like malicious cobblers. The only people Farage is likely to screw are the political establishment.

March 12. Ed Miliband is against British citizens having a say on our continued membership of the EU. So much for being “the people’s party” so much for democracy. Ed says it’s “unlikely” that Brussels would want to transfer more powers from member states, which is a bit like saying it’s unlikely that President Putin will ever be seen out in public without a shirt. He knows full well that “ever closer union” is the EU’s clearly stated goal. The arrogant but unspoken message from the insipid Labour leader is that the political class know best. For those with short memories these weasels all promised us a referendum on EU membership before the last election – even Clegg. Cameron offered us a cast-iron guarantee, which he promptly discarded. Now he reckons we can have a referendum in 2017 if we vote him back in. Why must we wait? Ah, he says, because he wants to “negotiate new terms.” What utter hogwash. He might as well claim to be negotiating new terms with the Atlantic Ocean to cut back on waves. The cynical berk is fully aware that a) Government powers handed over to Brussels can’t be given back, and b) he’d need a majority agreement from the other 27 member states to renegotiate anything (see Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty). Merkel confirmed this when she was over last month. So rather than trust Cameron and wait three years, why don’t we turn the 2015 general election into a referendum by voting against ALL establishment politicians. In memory of Bob Crow say: No2EU, and yes to democracy.

March 11. Sorry to hear that Bob Crow has died. He was the sort of bloke you’d want running your union: tough, principled and completely down to earth. Bob was a self-proclaimed member of the awkward squad; loved by his members and feared by management, which is exactly how it should be. Old school socialist Crow was also fiercely Eurosceptic fronting the No To EU, Yes To Democracy platform - because he knew the EU was hugely anti-democratic and a disaster for the British working class. He will be missed.

Shocked that Charlton’s new Belgian bosses have sacked Chrissie Powell; a real shame. He was a decent man who did a good job in tough circumstances. It’s true the Addicks have had a rotten season but flogging Kermongant can’t have helped and it’s hard to feel too thrilled about Powell’s replacement Jose Riga. Let’s hope Chris gets another gig soon.

March 9. Last night on BBC2, Stewart Lee turned his comedic fire power on UKIP. Using his usual method of demolishing straw men (employing quotes he later admits are made up) and reducing arguments to the absurd, Lee pilloried concerns about immigration taking the issue back to prehistory. It was, inevitably, as honest as a 1960s spiv playing Chase the Lady down Oxford Street. But here’s what worries me: the BBC, paid for by all of us, are happy to broadcast a UKIP-bashing comedian, but can you remember them ever allowing a comic to rain wit and sarcasm down on the Greens or Respect? It doesn’t happen. Can you imagine them employing a pro-UKIP stand-up? Not a chance. Yet aren’t left-wing arguments just as nuts? Imagine it: “I met a bloke the other day who said we had to let a load of psychopaths out of prison and tell their mates on the run that they would be immune from prosecution for their crimes because if we did that there would be peace all round and everyone would be as loved up as an 80s rave... ” Who was this obvious madman? “Tony Blair.” “I met a bloke who said that if we all rose up, got guns and overthrew the capitalist system and then handed all the power to the state, we’d be able to create heaven on earth. Of course we might have to kill a few million people along the way, and lock up dissidents, and give up freedom of assembly, free speech and X-Boxes, and cope with food shortages and bread queues... but it’d all be worth it in the end; I know because I read it in a book... ”

The trouble with using a right-on comic like Lee to bash Farage and co is that he is a modern day snob. He devoted one show to taking apart Only Fools & Horses, the most popular sitcom of our lifetime. What are we to make of that? Perhaps Del-Boy would vote UKIP too.

March 8. Fella came up to me at Charing Cross station today and asked if he knew me because I’d been on TV or because I worked on the railways. I told him I worked in the signal box at Hither Green and he went away happy.

March 7. Production on the movie version of John Niven’s Kill Your Friends starts next week. This terrific novel about the British music biz isn’t so much a satire as a demolition job. Set in 1997, it paints a darkly funny and witheringly accurate account of the industry at the fag-end of Britpop; a world where ‘thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs’. Its lead character, A&R man Steven Stelfox, is deeply unpleasant, big-headed, cocaine-driven and utterly believable. My only concern is how much they’ll have to water down the character for the big screen. Nicholas Hoult is playing Stelfox...

Cameron’s daft posed picture of himself on the phone looking serious while discussing the Ukraine crisis with Obama has been sent up gloriously by Rob Delaney and a host of others on Twitter. The real joke is his pretence of being a major player in this unfolding nightmare. Britain’s policy options have already been exposed as little more than: go through the motions and do nothing. To that we can now add: tweet dramatic picture. Yeah, that’ll show the Kremlin all right. The diplomatic emergency has also shown up the weakness of the European Union (EU foreign policy reflects German interests and they’re too tied in to Russian gas to rock the boat.) Why should Putin take Baroness Ashcroft seriously? No-one else does. The Russians went into Crimea because they knew they could. The stakes are high for Putin too. If he allows Ukraine to break away from Moscow’s sphere, Belarus and Kazakhstan will surely follow. Marsha Lipman in Moscow reports that that there has been an increased crackdown on dissent within Russia this week. She says: “There was a tiny anti-war demonstration in Moscow just a few days ago... People were roughed up. Several hundred of them - in fact, three hundred and sixty out of just over a thousand - were detained. And this shows that, probably, the Kremlin is getting desperate.”

Loving the allegations from the Max Clifford trial, but isn’t it odd that he is said to have referred to his penis as “tiny”? Shouldn’t a PR man be in the business of inflating the truth – or to use the common parlance, bigging it up?

March 6. Tonight’s Question Time came from Barking, where the audience were so overwhelmingly in favour of open-door immigration that anyone who dared to suggest that maybe we’ve had quite enough of it for now thank you, was shouted down. One man with contrary views, who claimed to be jobless and homeless, was patronised by David Aaranovitch before walking out to cheers of approval and applause. It was like seeing someone at the UKIP conference receive a standing ovation for demanding we replace the Queen with Angela Merkel. Had anyone got up and expressed similar non-BBC views on say capital punishment you felt they would probably have been set about with pointed sticks. Like Lewisham, we can only conclude that the good people of Barking have had a remarkable change of heart since the 2006 council elections. Because the only other explanation is that the BBC1 producers loaded the audience. And that’s unthinkable, isn’t it?

March 5. Here’s my nice long honest and funny chat with Jim Davidson.

Voters think David Cameron is ‘posh and out of touch’, Ed Miliband is a ‘weak idiot’ and Nick Clegg is a ‘spineless liar’, according to a major new survey. Very perceptive. But where are these people when BBC1 recruit audiences for Question Time?

The Beeb might scrap BBC3. Will we miss it? The channel’s greatest achievement was Gavin & Stacey, a sitcom that could easily (and more logically) have been launched on BBC2. Ditto Being Human and Torchwood. Monkey Dust, darkly and dangerously comic, sadly died when Harry Thompson did. And the magnificently bonkers The Mighty Boosh has been off air since 2007. What else decent have they had? Uncle, Ideal... umm, is that it? BBC3 has been around for eleven years and I can’t even come up with eleven great commissions from them. The best shows on BBC3 right now are Family Guy and American Dad, quality imports that seem thrown away here.

March 4. My new punk and Ska podcast is up and running right now on Total Rock, with guests Rhoda Dakar and Angie Brown, plus songs from Booze & Glory, Stief A’Billy, Control, the East End Badoes, Chris Pope, Secret Affair, Dave Wakeling, Kill For Eden, The Angry Agenda, the Damn Vandals, the Versatiles, System Of Hate, Bad Manners and a whole load more. It’s about as laid-back and organised as a fist-fight in the House of Fools. Hear it here.

March 2. Russian forces have seized the Crimean Peninsula. In a worrying echo of the 1936 Sudeten crisis, Putin has moved to “protect” the Russian-speaking citizens of Crimea and by doing so has turned this into a dispute about ethnic nationalism. His illegal invasion has pleased many Crimean citizens - who are about 58 per cent ethnic Russian - but it has understandably horrified most of the rest of the country. To the men and women who risked their lives deposing Viktor Yanukovich in Kiev recently, their struggle is all about independence from Russia. The Russian press is calling them “ultranationalists”, Red Ken claims they’re mostly fascists – even though their main demand is for greater ties with the West. There are extremists involved, but they’re a small minority. One sensible short term solution might be to split up the country, ceding Crimea and parts of the east to Moscow, and allowing the rest of the Ukraine to pursue their dream of freedom. But there isn’t much sign of sense at work here. Will the threat of economic sanctions be enough to keep Putin’s forces in Crimea? If not, has the West got the balls to stand up to him? We’ve been down this road before – precisely 161 years ago, when Tsar Nicholas 1st sent the Russian fleet to sink Ottoman ships in the Black Sea. That sparked the Crimean War, which you might remember Russia lost. The tragedy is the Ukraine people will be no better off inside the EU. The West only offers an illusion of freedom and prosperity. The real revolutionary slogan would be: Neither Moscow nor Brussels, but genuine independence.

Comedian Paul Eastwood has horrified media nitwits with his gags at the UKIP conference. Referring to the Olympics, Eastwood quipped: “Team Somalia – they did well, didn’t they? They had to apologise. Didn’t realise sailing and shooting were two different events.” The joke police got their knickers in a twist about this, but given the established link between Somalia and piracy it’s clearly based on observable facts rather than racial prejudice. (The last time I looked sixty seafarers were still being held by Somali pirates; according to UN estimates, they received around £247million in ransoms between April 2005 and December 2012.) If Graham Norton had come up with that line no-one would have batted an eye. Paul also said: “Poland did well. They took home bronze, silver, gold, lead, copper – anything they could get their hands on.” Now this was a shocking joke, not to mention an insult to the Poles – everyone knows Romanian gangs have been behind the boom in metal thefts.

Feb 28. I recorded my Total Rock podcast today with Rhoda Dakar (late of the Bodysnatchers and the Special AKA) and Angie Brown, fresh from her experience on BBC1’s The Voice last weekend. What a great colourful character she is – funny and bubbly with a rock’n’roll past involving the Dirty Strangers and the Stones. Angie also toured with the Happy Mondays and has a life-long love of Ska. People who think in boxes might dismiss her as “just a dance act”. They need to get their heads out of their backsides. The woman has a massive soul voice worthy of sixties Stax; I hope she records a solo album that shows it.

Garry Bushell

The latest issue of Street Sounds is out now, bursting with punk, Ska and Mod features, cartoons, news and views. It’s still pretty underground; endearingly enthusiastic and amateurish but determinedly blue collar. Grab a copy from here for £2 + postage.

The paedophile scandal rolls on, with former cabinet minister Patricia Hewitt today admitting that the organisation to which she and her former Labour Party colleague Harriet Harman belonged to was "naive and wrong" to accept the assurances of PIE that it was a campaigning and counselling organisation. PIE was affiliated to the National Council for Civil Liberties for eight years from 1975 to 1983. In her first public statement since the scandal broke, Hewitt said: “I got it wrong on PIE and I apologise for having done so. NCCL in the 1970s, along with many others, was naive and wrong to accept PIE's claim to be a 'campaigning and counselling organisation' that 'does not promote unlawful acts.” She went on: “As general secretary then, I take responsibility for the mistakes we made. I should have urged the executive committee to take stronger measures to protect NCCL’s integrity from the activities of PIE members and sympathisers and I deeply regret not having done so.” That’s the way to kill a story, Harriett: own up, accept you were wrong, apologise and move on. Is this the end, or do you suspect like I do, that the link to child abuse runs much deeper into the Establishment?

Feb 27. Lee Rigby’s killers have been banged up for life. I’m sorry, that’s not enough; they should have been hanged. I don’t buy the argument that executing these wicked men would have created ‘martyrs’. The Jihadists have got ‘martyrs’ coming out of their dishdashas, what difference would another two make? Instead, we’ve given the terrorists two political prisoners for them to spend the next forty years protesting about. And what are the odds, given our wishy-washy political class – surrender monkeys to a man - that they’ll be out with a comfort letter in a decade or so? The only martyr here is Lee Rigby, brutally murdered on a London street in cold blood. These sentences make us look weak, not strong. Hanging his killers would have more just.

Feb 26. Was the link between organised paedophiles and the National Council for Civil Liberties as casual as Harriet Harman suggests? To hear her talk it was as if the PIE infiltrated the NCCL (for years) almost by stealth. On Monday’s Newsnight she said “any organisation could pay their affiliation and join”. Yet as my friend Matt reminds me that there is far more to the link between PIE and the academic Left; if you check out the ‘progressive’ mags of the time, such as Big Flame and The Leveller (copies of which can be found at the British Library), you’ll unearth a shed-load of pro-PIE articles. Some were tied into the Gay Liberation Front but a surprising amount came via women's groups. If I remember, the line was: men (the ‘patriarchy’) had repressed sexuality in all its forms, including children’s. That argument was used within the NCCL as well. It wasn’t an accident; it was part of their ideology. A real can of worms.

Fifteen people across London have been nicked in a series of dawn raids targeting notorious crime gang the Adams family. It was part of an operation codenamed Octopod. Have you noticed how the cops always love to raid at dawn? You don’t often hear of tea-time raids, or siesta raids. The message for the criminal underworld is clear: never go home until after breakfast... Mexican drug lord El Chapo Guzman was also nabbed at dawn last Saturday. He’s alleged to be the biggest cocaine distributor in the world. And here’s what I heard: the top names on his speed-dial were 1) Reverend Flowers 2) Cara Delevinge 3) Those guys you see loitering in the bogs at the Brits...

I’m still not sure what to make of events in the Ukraine. You can understand people wanting to be independent of Russia, but breaking away from one corrupt undemocratic regime to join the EU is like fleeing a burning building to get hit by a petrol bomb. The Ukraine’s pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych legged it a few days ago. If Putin can’t reinstate him, maybe George Galloway can get him a gig on the next Celebrity Big Brother.

Feb 25. STOP PRESS. Sickening to see that John Downey, the main suspect behind the IRA’s horrendous 1982 Hyde Park bombing, has just walked away a free man because of a police blunder. This was an appalling atrocity. The Provos had packed 25lb of gelignite surrounded by 30lb of nails into the boot of a Morris Marina. When men from the Household Cavalry rode past, the device was detonated. Four soldiers died, 31 others, including bystanders, were injured and seven horses were destroyed. Downey’s fingerprints were linked to the car, and he was arrested at Gatwick last May. But today Mr Justice Sweeney ruled that Downey will not face prosecution because of a letter – dubbed a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’ – sent to him by mistake by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in 2007 saying that he was not wanted by the cops. Nearly 200 suspected terrorist fugitives received similar letters, effectively granting them amnesty following a deal struck by Tony Blair and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. During the case, the court heard that he should never have received the ‘comfort’ letter as he was still wanted by Scotland Yard, yet the letter was sent and Downey will never face prosecution. To rub our noses in it even further it appears he could now be entitled to thousands of pounds in compensation for ‘wrongful arrest and imprisonment’. We’re told we have to swallow this as part of the alleged Peace Process. Time will tell how well that turns out. In the meantime, our criminal justice system has failed the men who were murdered – Lieutenant Anthony Daly, Staff Corporal Roy Bright, Corporal Jeffrey Young and Trooper Simon Tipper. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

Incidentally, Downey’s bail sureties included Roy Greenslade, the oleaginous former Maoist and ‘media expert’ who works for the Guardian – the paper that supports any country but our own.

The Labour Party is playing this paedophile scandal in completely the wrong way. Harriett Harman’s immediate response should have been to declare outright that the National Council of Civil Liberties were out of order to tolerate the PIE in the late 70s and early 80s. Instead on last night’s Newsnight, she wriggled and prevaricated. Under a sustained grilling from Laura Kuenssberg, she finally and reluctantly expressed regret, but her first instincts were to ignore and then deny. In reality these well-meaning right-on useful idiots (to use Lenin’s phrase) were hoodwinked by cunning child-rapists who used the language of liberation to pull the wool over the eyes of professors, lawyers, social workers and politicians. They were conned, it was wrong and they should admit it. To pretend otherwise is shameful.

Feb 24. South London dance legend Angie Brown appeared on The Voice’s blind auditions on Saturday, performing her 1992 Bizarre Inc smash hit ‘I’m Gonna Get You.’ It was a massive rendition, but not a single judge turned round. Doesn’t this suggest that either the contest is rigged/orchestrated by the producers or the judges don’t know star quality when they hear it? ‘I’m Gonna Get You’ sold two million copies worldwide and topped the US dance chart – as did the follow-up ‘Took My Love.’ Angie’s powerhouse performance this weekend rocketed the song back into the iTunes Top 100. Lovers of the Brixton girl’s feisty and distinctive vocals will be chuffed to hear that her new single, 'Fight No More’ is out today – very garage house it is too.

As it happened, we couldn't stay too long in the pub last night as Jim had a constant stream of nice people wanting their pictures taken with him. Ah, the healing effects of Celebrity Big Brother. I'll let you know when the podcast is up.

Feb 23. My friends at the Mirror tell me the paper is strapped for cash, and yet I see that Trinity Mirror’s former CEO Sly Bailey is in line to collect shares worth £800,000 next month. Bailey was a disaster for the company. Trinity Mirror’s value slumped by 90% during her time as boss. She was notorious for cost-cutting, but strangely the one thing she never got round to trimming was her own hefty salary. In 2011, with pre-tax profits down by 40%, Sly pocketed £1.7million. Nice work if you can get it. They finally got shot of her in 2012, with a generous £900K pay-off. Now she’s set to benefit again from the company’s executive pay scheme. Ker-ching. Talk about one law for them, and another one for us...

Alex Turner is blaming his bizarre, rambling Brits speech on “nerves”. Apparently they come by the pint.

I’m interviewing Cockney comedian Jim Davidson for my podcast tonight, assuming we get out the pub before the studio closes... details to follow.

Feb 22. The Mail has exposed the historic links between senior Labour Party officials and organised paedophiles – but don’t expect the BBC to cover the story. The Labour bigwigs include the party’s Deputy Leader Harriet Harman who was the legal officer for the National Council for Civil Liberties’ (now Liberty) when the Paedophile Information Exchange was part of that organisation. P.I.E. wanted MPs to allow sex with children as young as ten, if consent was ‘genuinely given’ and the child ‘understood the nature of the act.’ They campaigned to legalise incest, and lower the age of consent to four. Jimmy Savile could have been their poster boy. On P.I.E.’s behalf, Harman wrote a four-page submission to MPs trying to water down a proposed ban on child porn. Patricia Hewitt, once Labour’s health secretary, was the NCCL general secretary at the time. And Harman’s husband, Jack Dromey (now part of Miliband’s frontbench team) was an executive committee member for more than ten years. The Left were very keen on supporting the P.I.E. – I was part of a demo sent down to ‘protect’ one of their meetings from furious parents in East London. It was a turning point for me – I agreed absolutely with the parents, and this night was one of the key reasons I left the International Socialists. Under Labour control, children’s homes in Islington were rotten with abuse and paedophile rings. An inquiry found that dozens of sexual predators worked for the council under then leader Margaret Hodge (formerly Labour’s Children’s Minister (!), now chairman of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.) Her lawyer husband Henry was another NCCL exec member... So will Harman and co now apologise? Don’t hold your breath. They’re more likely to keep schtum and hope it goes away. The BBC - still wedded to the simplistic “if left is right then right is wrong” Tom Robinson view of the world – are doing their best ostrich impression too. But it’s important for the Fiddlers’ Three to face up to their mistakes and admit “We were wrong.” With Operation Yewtree still investigating historic sex crimes, what possible reason could they have for staying silent? If they don’t speak out, wouldn’t a reasonable person assume that they’re still apologists for this vile group?

Feb 20. We’ve just had the wettest winter since records began, according to the Met Office. Their records began in 1910, but other records started in 1776 – and it’s been the 16th wettest winter since then. Christopher Booker notes that 812mm (32 inches) of rain fell between November 1929 and January 1930, which trumps the Met Office’s provisional figure of 486.8mm between 1 December 2013 and 19 February, 2014. Let us not forget that just three months ago these clowns predicted we were on course for a Winter that fell “into the driest of our five categories.”

Feb 19. Ninety-nine servicewomen in Afghanistan and 102 in Iraq were sent home for falling pregnant between 2006 and the end of last year. That’s what I call active duty. Apparently the big clue was the ‘Baby On Board’ signs on the back of the tanks.

Feb 18. The wait is almost over. My rock memoir - Riff-Raff, Rebels & Rock Gods - is being released as an audio book on the 4th April (4/4/14). It covers a whole range of thrilling and provocative bands, often in bizarre locations. So as well as big box office names like Ozzy and Iron Maiden, the collection includes Hanoi Rocks in India, the Exploited in West Berlin before the Wall came down, ZZ Top in Vegas, the Angelic Upstarts' prison gig, the first US tours by the Specials and The Selecter, Judge Dread in Germany, Rainbow in Scandinavia, Twisted Sister, the Cockney Rejects etc. It’s been a real labour of love, too. I’ve gone back to my original notes and diaries, written them all up and then recorded the results. Old friends, like Mick Geggus, Rod Smallwood and JJ French have been helpful and supportive and the whole process has been tremendous fun. The book should be available to pre-order next month. Watch this space for details...

According to Buzzfeed, in 30 years time we’ll have hangover-free alcohol and clothes that repel dirt. And you know what? We’ll still be waiting for the Tories to give us a referendum on Europe...

Feb 17. Just watching tonight’s two televised live debates on immigration and benefits. When did TV discussion shows come down to who can shout the loudest? Why fill a TV studio with idiots who just want to drown out views they disagree with? Depressing.

Carry On Oi – an album I compiled the best part of 33 years ago - has just been re-released on vinyl by Plastic Head. We had our backs properly against the wall at the time I put this together. Oi had managed to upset every shade of middle class opinion from the hippy left to the Tory right. Rock pseuds hated us, we were getting blamed for the summer riots and the Daily Mail had gone into over-drive, absurdly calling Sounds (which covered more black music than the rest of the rock press combined) “the fascist bible of hate.” Carry On Oi was my way of hitting back. The message was defiant, uncompromising, and occasionally funny. Listening to it again now, I’m pleasantly surprised both by how well the tracks stand up and how hard it would be to misinterpret the lyrics and sleeve-notes. Songs range from the Last Resort’s terrace anthem ‘King Of The Jungle’, which lionises hooligans, to the solid South Wales socialist anger of The Partisans. There are tracks from Blitz, Red Alert and the Business – who put Garry Johnson’s poem Suburban Rebels to music, attacking right-on protesters as “the sons and daughters of well-off bankers/Tom Robinson’s army of trendy wankers”... in contrast to the picket line solidarity of Oi The Comrade. The second Business number ‘Product’ is about marketing and alienation. There’s Infa-Riot, The Ejected, the 4-Skins sending up their media image with ‘Evil’, Peter & The Test-Tube Babies with their pathetique nonsense and even The Gonads. And just to make sure even the thickest detractors got it, the album was dedicated (among others) to Wat Tyler, Winston Groovy, Amnesty International, the Prisoners’ Rights Organisation, George Orwell and long-dead dockers’ leader Ben Tillett. Most of the featured bands are still going today, and many of them have influenced much bigger bands all around the globe. Within weeks of Carry On Oi being released in 1981, I was contacted by Black Flag in the States who wanted to include a song on the next comp – and did. Many followed. I still get young bands getting in touch now, from Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, and Eastern Europe. The media might have bought into the bullshit but youth around the world got what we were really about. I’ve had nothing but stick for decades over my involvement in Oi music, largely because of the transparent lies the Mail printed at the time. History will judge us and the truth will out.

Feb 16. The standard Tory line against UKIP up until the next general election is going to be: ‘vote UKIP, get Miliband’, the old Red scare. But if you vote Tory, you get Miliband’s policies anyway because in power there is barely a happenth of difference between the two parties. Forget what they say, judge them by what they do. A case in point: European Union Commission President Barroso, on today’s Andrew Marr Show, revealed that all of Cameron’s waffle about “renegotiating key powers back to the UK” has been about as honest and above board as the EU accounts. Barroso made it clear that any significant reform of the EU would require treaty change and any such change would require unanimous agreement. In other words, it’ll never happen. He also let slip that to date our government has presented precisely zero plans for renegotiation, and that open door migration between member states cannot be changed. That’s what a single market means – as Ministers fully realise. All talk of “clawing back powers” and creating “a new relationship” with Brussels is Buster Gonad-size cobblers. Vote for any Establishment party and you get Establishment bullshit.

Feb 14. The Lib-Dims lost another deposit in Wythenshawe & Sale last night, racking up a feeble 1,176 votes. Clegg’s chumps are going downhill faster than Matthias Mayer, plummeting by a whopping 17.5%. They are now as discredited as the BNP, although they of course retain their undeserved and disproportionate influence in government – and will do pretty much anything to hang on to it, up to and including going into Coalition with Kim Jong-un if they had to. They’re utter weasels.

UKIP did pretty well, coming second from nowhere; their vote was six times higher than it was in 2010 and they smashed the Tories into third place. But they need to take many more votes from Labour; in truth they need a win to make real headway and time is against them. Labour's victory looks impressive until you realise they managed to appeal to less than one in six potential voters. The real winner? None of the above.

Hacking scandal update: Piers Morgan's Life Story henceforth Piers Morgan's Life Sentence? Stranger things have happened.

Feb 13. Journalists have been in touch over the last few weeks, looking for an English voice to back Scottish independence. Essentially they want me to say: “Stuff the Jocks, let’s re-build Hadrian’s Wall and bring on an English Parliament.” It’s not that simple, though. For starters ‘Scottish independence’ is a complete con. Scotland might become independent of Westminster but it would still be ruled by Brussels. They’d be as free as a salmon in a sandwich. It’s like a convict in a prison yard getting to wear his kilt...

Of course ‘Home Rule for England’ would be a good thing, but it’s a meaningless slogan within the European Union. What annoys me more is the fact that the Scots get their referendum while the rest of us are denied the “cast-iron” one Cameron promised us over the EU. We can’t have that vote because it could bring about Real Change, rather than a cosmetic one. I don’t even buy Cameron’s apparent opposition to Alex Salmond's fake nationalism, because the Tories would benefit greatly from losing the Scottish Labour vote. In reality, Cameron, Salmond, Milliband, Clegg and Barroso all want the same thing: ever greater union, ever less democracy and ever greater rewards for those merry turncoats on the gravy train.

Feb 12. Today’s Times runs a list of the Top 20 guitarists which wilfully ignores most of the acknowledged six-string rock gods. Hendrix and Page are in, but not Clapton, Beck, Blackmore, Slash or Brian May. Naturally there’s no Steve Vai. More surprisingly, the list is weak on the punk and post-punk guitarists who redefined the electric guitar in the late 70s and early 80s. When punk kicked open the doors of the music business to a flood of young bands, it also ushered in a new wave of guitarists who weren’t content merely to mimic their predecessors. Musicians like John McKay (The Banshees), Robert Smith (The Cure), John McGeoch (Magazine), Tom Verlaine (Television), Keith Levene (Public Image), Stuart Adamson (The Skids/Big Country), Johnny Marr (The Smiths) who is in their Top 20, and The Edge (U2) all took guitar-play in radical and stunning directions. Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) was more traditional, but his Fender Twin reverb turned up to the max was the backbone of the band’s sound and became the template for guitarists such as Steve Whale (The Business), and Mick Geggus (Cockney Rejects) who created and inspired street-punk which in turn influenced bands such as Rancid, Blink 182 and the Briggs. Wouldn’t a TV show focusing on the brilliant creativity of New Wave guitarists and the Second Golden Age of the Electric Guitar, involving expert testimony from contemporary guitarists, be great viewing for viewers (okay, mostly men) of a certain age? It would reward nostalgia freaks and music aficionados alike and maybe inspire some young whippersnappers to build on that fine legacy.

I’m closing this blog down for a while to concentrate on a new book. Back in a bit.

Jan 20. UKIP have suspended a councillor for saying the recent floods were an expression of God’s anger about gay marriage. Although according to some sources, the opposite is true and for the first time in history it’s about to start raining men. We need to test the theory. Let’s send all our gay couples on a package holiday to Bongo-Bongo Land. If the South of England dries up and spouts palm trees over night, God’s pleasure will be evident. If geezers in leather pants parachute down from the clouds, we’ll know the Weather Girls got it right. Councillor David Silvester (no relation to disco star Sylvester) has caused problems for UKIP, but that’s the risk you take when you sign up Tory defectors. The truth is the Farage brigade aren’t the only party to harbour fruitcakes in their ranks – they all do. There are senior folk in British politics who believed in the Euro, which is even more bonkers. In my distant days as a far-Left activist I met people who thought that Eastern Europe’s police states were bastions of human progress and freedom, that Chairman Mao was a force for good and that each and every human being is a potential Einstein – and if you believe that think how much damage you could cause to education once you came to power. Oh hold on... I remember one Labour Party militant in East London who got angry to the point of apoplexy at the very mention of the word charity. People worship many strange gods. But as we chuckle, spare a thought for Mr. Silvester who, after watching the soaps and TV chat-shows for a week, is now busy building himself an ark.

Jan 19. Jim Davidson is looking increasingly isolated on Celebrity Big Brother, which is understandable as he’s sixty and is surrounded by loud dull drunken child-adults with no conversation and a liking for the worst kind of cheesy pop. I feel his pain. Jim has put up with a lot, and held his tongue admirably, but he’s obviously bored out of his head in there and only came alive today when he hosted the mock talent show. Whatever the outcome, he’s surely done enough – and received enough obvious public support – to land a new TV show of his own.

Jan 17. Last night “Frank Carson’s dressing room” was trending worldwide on twitter because of the extraordinary row between Linda Nolan and Jim Davidson on Celebrity Big Brother. What happened in Frank’s dressing room? Speculation is rife, but the answer is simple: Linda was supporting the late great comedian up in Blackpool over the summer of 1995 when Frank realised that money was going missing from his wallet. Small sums - £20 one night, a tenner the next - were vanishing regularly. It happened so frequently that the cops rigged up hidden cameras in his dressing room – and caught Linda’s late husband Brian Hudson helping himself to a score. He was only ever charged with stealing £20 because that’s all that could be proved, but Frank was in no doubt that Hudson had been taking his cash all season. He was furious, and so were most people in showbiz circles. Jim, who was a good friend, was so livid that he threatened to sort Brian out over the incident – if memory serves they had to be pulled apart. This must have all come back to him as he’s sat there trying to work out why Linda has been so off with him all series. The former ‘Naughty Nolan’ is doing herself no favours with her sour attitude and shit-stirring on this show. She’s Narky Nolan now. PS. Linda did my ITV series in 1996 and was a lot of fun, but she turned up at my house with Brian and my wife at the time made damn sure he was never left in a room on his own.

Jan 16. Jan 16. R.I.P. Trigger. Sad to hear that Roger Lloyd-Pack has died; this wonderful rubber-faced actor might have starred in a Harry Potter movie and played Owen in The Vicar Of Dibley, but he’ll always be Trigger to me. The pubs will be ringing with Only Fools & Horses quotes tonight.

Jan 13. Ed Miliband is the new champion of the middle classes. They certainly need one! Pensions are shrinking, energy costs and taxes are rising, savings are being eaten away by low interest rates, and decent jobs are increasingly scarce. For the average two-parent family with one parent working income has stagnated. Unfortunately for Super-Ed no-one is likely to forget that he was in government when pensions went into free-fall under New Labour. Gordon Brown did nothing to stop the loss of jobs in manufacturing, nor to boost wages. And as his Energy Secretary, Ed Miliband gleefully heaped on Green taxes. He’s always been part of the problem, never the solution.

What we see as middle class values – self-reliance, hard work and the belief in bettering yourself – were traditionally shared by the aspirational working class too. The core value – work hard and be rewarded – is surely better than the Benefits Street alternative which is laze about, knock out ten kids and get rewarded anyway. If welfare pays more than work can you blame the feckless for putting their feet up? Rather than demonise the poor, though, the real solution is to create jobs, maybe even start making things again. As the old song says: ‘Oh why don't you work like other men do?’ ‘How the hell can I work when there's no work to do? Hallelujah I’m a bum, hallelujah once again... it’ll take a revolution to free me again.’

The row about François Hollande’s affair continues to rumble. Turns out he’s been doing to Julie Gayet what his government have done to the French economy. This story will courir et courir. But is it much of a story? A French politician having a fling is about as surprising as an English one fiddling their expenses. What’s tomorrow’s headline? Hollande eats cheese? Hollande drinks wine?

Jan 10. Sad to see pictures from Clerkenwell fire station after it and nine other London stations were closed yesterday. It’s not just personal memories - my Dad was stationed at Clerkenwell and Shadwell before transferring to London Fire Brigade HQ in Lambeth. It’s more that these are completely the wrong kind of cuts. When trimming public spending, surely it makes sense to lay off pen-pushers and management baggage rather than front-line services? Closing these stations will save £28.8m, but at the cost of 552 fire-fighter jobs. It also inevitably increases the risk to public safety. Clerkenwell was the third busiest fire station in London.

Just watching last night’s Question Time, from Goldsmith’s College. Blimey, hasn’t Lewisham changed? At the last Euro elections in 2009, UKIP had just shy of 5,000 votes. At the General Election the following year, the Tories had 26,890, many of whom, you’d suspect would be Euro-sceptic, as would a good many of the Labour voters. Yet somehow BBC1 managed to find an audience for Question Time which was entirely “on-message” regarding Europe, immigration and so on. UKIP’s Paul Nuttall went down like Francois Hollande at a marital fidelity rally. It was like debating Celebrity Big Brother and finding everyone in the crowd loved Liz Jones and Luisa. Or turning up at White Hart Lane tomorrow and finding the entire ground supports Palace. Could they all have moved, these thousands of terrible Euro-doubters? Or is there a fishier explanation such as, whisper it, audience fixing? A preposterous suggestion. The BBC insist that the Question Time audience is scrupulously balanced with participants invited from a cross-section of political parties, ranging from Labour to the Greens via the Socialist Alliance, the Lib-Dems, and the Deptford branch of the Sandinistas.

Never mind the quenelle, why don’t all lovers of earthy blue collar comedy adopt a secret semi-Masonic sign of our own? We could call it The Kinnell, in honour of Cockney comedian Jimmy Jones, and every time some pompous middle class bore like Marcus Brigstocke turns up on telly we could make The Kinnell to show our disapproval. Perhaps a discrete two-fingered salute moved up and down the right cheek, or to use another visionary Jimmy Jones creation, the five-knuckle shuffle.

Today’s Sun confronts the stark truth that the sacrifices made by British troops in Afghanistan will have been in vain. The Taliban are on course to regain Helmand province as soon as we pull out. Tragically, 447 UK servicemen and women gave their lives for nothing. I hate to say I told you so, but I did...

Jan 9. The BBC’s decision to “tell the truth about immigration” was at least a first. Immigration has long been the Bombay aloo of British politics with anyone raising the issue however mildly being dismissed as racist, “far-Right” or worse. BBC political editor Nick Robinson admitted that the Corporation has failed to cover immigration adequately for at least the last two decades. In the programme, Robinson gently mocked ordinary people at a New Forest county show for not knowing what percentage of the UK population were born abroad. Wow, Nick, I wonder why they were so unsure. Do you think that maybe it’s because state-funded radio stations and state-funded TV channels have stifled debate and misled us all for years?

Various Labour former ministers popped up to say they had got immigration wrong. Jack Straw expressed “regret”; Blunkett, more bullish, said if the Blair government hadn’t opened the doors people would have come in anyway, while shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said there should have been more debate, which is nice of her. Although like Cameron, when it comes to issues that the liberal elite disagree with the people over (immigration, crime and punishment, the EU, grooming gangs etc) Labour have been keen to avoid any conversation whatsoever. In the Sunday Times at the weekend, Robinson said the BBC had made a “terrible mistake” in censoring “warts-and-all” coverage of immigration. “They feared having a conversation about immigration, they feared the consequence,” he said. They still fear it – which is why the Question Time audience is so uncharacteristically right-on and controlled.

Even Robinson’s documentary was loaded with false assumptions, the most glaring being his suggestion that immigration equals prosperity, and that to limit it would mean less growth and lower wages. Not so. The last House Of Lords study on the Economic Impact of Immigration found that immigration ‘has very small impacts on GDP per capita’. That’s right - all the chaos and over-crowding, all the strain on hospitals and schools, is for nix. I’ve gone through the pro-and-con arguments about immigration here before and in my book The World According To Garry Bushell so I won’t regurgitate them again here. The simple truth, still not told by the BBC, is that immigration is great for bosses who want to keep labour costs down, but terrible for the British working class whose wages are undercut, whose jobs are lost and whose life prospects are diminished. Still if it keeps Kensington and Chelsea in cut-price au pairs so be it.

There was a more revealing BBC South East report by Rachel Royce on the effects of a decade of Polish immigration to Kent and Sussex, where Polish homelessness is likely to reach more than one in seven by 2015. You can see it here.

Like most people I think immigration should be sensibly controlled, although after The Ashes, I am willing to let in anyone who can play cricket.

Jan 8. Boris Johnson has described Deputy PM Nick Clegg as a “prophylactic protection device”, or condom. Has he thought this through? If Clegg is a condom, this makes Cameron a massive plonker – and I’ve cleaned that up. By the way, the Prime Minister’s hairdresser is getting an MBE. Understandably, Boris’s prefers to remain anonymous...

My daughter came home from school yesterday and told me that the storms were evidence of climate change, as opposed to being evidence of weather. We had worst winds in 1969, and, according to the Met Office, higher storm surges in 1953.

Jan 7. The EU are busy establishing a new European Public Prosecutor who will be able to use the European Arrest Warrant against British citizens. The EAW suspends Habeas Corpus and allows other countries to arrest our people in our own country and bang them up pending trial. EU apologists says it’s okay because anyone they nick is still protected by the European Human Rights Act. Here’s the difference: under Habeas Corpus, a person may not normally be detained for more than a few hours without being charged in open court. And a charge can’t be brought unless the investigators have already gathered enough evidence to show there is a prima facie case to answer. All the ECHR offers is entitlement ‘to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal’ (article six). Nowhere does it specify what is “reasonable”. In many EU countries, and in the “Corpus Juris” proposed embryo EU-wide criminal code, it is six months, extensible. After Andrew Symeou was extradited to Greece from North London under an EAW he was held in a hell-hole prison for 11 months before appearing in court where it became apparent that there was no serious prosecution evidence against him. His extradition went ahead despite compelling evidence of mistaken identity and evidence that the charges were based on statements extracted by Greek police through the violent intimidation of witnesses, who later retracted them. The ECHR also makes no provision for Trial by Jury, no Right to Silence. It has no provision against trials in absentia, or double jeopardy, or hearsay evidence, or prejudicial media reporting before a verdict. There is nothing to stop previous convictions from being read aloud and used to establish guilt, and no need for judges' impartiality to be assured by their having had experience as defenders as well as having served as prosecutors. It is an absolute disgrace. It overturns English Common Law and abolishes our hard-won liberties. Why is it not being debated?

Jan 6. Sad to hear that Simon Hoggart has died. He was a masterful sketch writer, as this passage from November reminds us: ‘Another day, another U-turn. This is less a government than a dodgem car ride. Sparks fly from the roof. Attendants bellow unintelligibly from the sides. Nominally driving, ministers crash into each other. Sometimes they fling the wheel round and nothing happens... ’ It was Hoggart who wrote of Mrs Thatcher: ‘There was always the gleam of a drunken navvy looking round a bar for the chance of a fight.’ Wonderful stuff, his wit, warmth, intelligence and impatience with nitwits and sycophants is already sorely missed.

Dermot Murnaghan duped Nigel Farage into agreeing with an extract of Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech. It was a cheap shot. Like getting Ed Miliband to agree that every woman who can work should be enabled to ‘under the principle of equal pay for equal work’ and then denouncing him as a rabid Maoist.

This may be the beer talking, but I believe I need another beer. I wasn’t going to drink, this month, honestly I wasn’t. But tonight’s EastEnders drove me to it... and Secrets of the Living Dolls is still to come... That red-haired one looks disturbingly like country singer Rose-Marie.

Jan 5. I’ve reviewed Channel 5’s ridiculous Top 50 ‘Greatest Stand-Up Comedians’ over on the On The Box page. If you didn’t see the show, the producers included David Baddiel but completely blanked Chris Rock. They had Jo Brand in their Top 10 while giving Jackie Mason and Steve Martin the bum’s rush. Michael McIntyre was at Number Six, ahead of Richard Pryor. I’ve no disagreement with Billy Connolly being number one, but was surprised to learn that Sarah Millican at 15 is considered funnier than Peter Kay (16), Joan Rivers (23), Bill Hicks (33) and Frankie Howerd (44)... The question is: did C5 cleverly construct this Top 50 to wind up viewers to the point of apoplexy or did it accurately reflect the prejudice of the clueless executives who put it together? The presence of Ben Elton at 32 suggests the latter. These were people whose idea of what comedy should be was forged in the late eighties when the rising tide of right-on university graduate stand-ups persuaded TV bosses to apply a Pol Pot Year Zero policy to comedy. ITV sacked Benny Hill, BBC1 laid off Les Dawson. Even the Two Ronnies were pilloried by the Not The Nine O’Clock News team. Blue collar gag-telling comics, so popular on ITV’s The Comedians, were purged in favour of those who saw stand-up as a form of therapy or social work. The posh boys won the culture war and the long-term results of this can be seen every week in the schedules. TV comedy, as Bob Mortimer recently pointed out, is now largely in the hands of Oxbridge graduates. As a consequence, satire has died (as comics share the same assumptions and prejudices as our rulers) there is no longer any mainstream laughter in prime time and the Christmas comedy larder, once home to Eric & Ernie and the Trotters, is shockingly bare. Well done, everyone.

THE exception of course is Mrs. Brown’s Boys, the Xmas Number 1, which basically re-jiggles the kind of jokes Jimmy Jones told as a sitcom. Naturally comedy snobs hate it. Would the show even have been commissioned if its loveably coarse creator Brendan O’Carroll hadn’t been Irish and a drag-act?

THE all-time great comedians missed by Channel 5 include Max Miller, Tommy Trinder, Chris Rock, Steve Martin, Ken Dodd, Jackie Mason and Rita Rudner. There was no room for Sam Kinison, Jim Davidson, Jerry Sadowitz, Jerry Seinfeld or Mike Reid either. And surely any serious student of humour would make a case for George Carlin, Jay Leno, Craig Ferguson, Milton Jones and Lewis Black? There are many fresher stand-ups better than some of C5’s choices, like Aisling Bea, Jim Jefferies, Terry Alderton, Doug Stanhope and Louis CK. Andrew Dice Clay had a bit more of a following than Tim Vine (who is great in five minute chunks) and surely Dara is a more impressive performer than Alan Carr? There are many great neglected British comedians who should be on TV now but aren’t because they’re not hip – such as Adrian Walsh, a craftsman in the Bob Monkhouse mould, and Cockney comedian Keith O’Keefe who is a great gag-teller, and a genius ad-libber. My old favourite Micky Pugh has never wanted fame, but in my view should be in EastEnders in a kind of Frank Butcher wag-at-the-bar role. There’s always a wag at the bar in an East London pub, except in Walford...

IN Marxist dialectics, a thesis always creates an antithesis which eventually produces a synthesis. So it has been in comedy. The old guard of Bernard Manning and the blue collar comics kick-started the opposing middle class wave of Ben Elton and co. Their synthesis has been the likes of Peter Kay and more recently Micky Flanagan who are working class comedians doing observational material brilliantly, although in Kay’s case not often enough. (And I hope Flanagan gets his own show soon but keeps creative control of it, he’s doing too many bad telly gigs at the moment.) But that said, I still get off on seeing a great old pro like Mick Miller work an audience. Long may he continue.

Jan 4. R.I.P. Phil Everly, the youngest of the Everly Brothers, who has died in Burbank, Los Angeles. US miner’s sons Phil and Don melded country harmonies with rock’n’roll and notched up nineteen amazing hits between 1957 and 1962, including ‘Bye Bye Love’ and ‘Wake Up Little Susie.’ They were such an influence on Lennon and McCartney that at one stage the Scouse pair called themselves the “Foreverly Brothers.” The Everlys also inspired The Byrds, the Hollies and the Beach Boys. Phil died following complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 74.

Jan 3. P.J. Harvey’s old Left edition of Radio 4’s Today Show has caused a stink, but it was really a rather dull affair – clichéd and unsurprising. How much livelier could the programme have been with genuinely radical voices and challenging opinions? I’d book Brendan O’Neill to make the case for why free speech trumps political correctness, Bjørn Lomborg to debate climate change with James Delingpole, and Ed Husain to ask who on the modern Left is on the side of Muslims who support secularism and pluralism. And if we can’t get Nigel Farage to grill a Cabinet member about their EU lies, I’d invite Bob Crow and an investment banker to debate who the real anti-social elements in modern society are.

Developers could be allowed to destroy ancient woodland under a proposed “bio-diversity off-setting” scheme – i.e. if they agree to replace old forests with new trees. The government says this is the only practical way to deal with the demand for more housing. Really? Wouldn’t planned and limited immigration be more practical and less destructive?

Jan 2. Here’s an early contender for serious book of the year. Ruling the Void: The Hollowing of Western Democracy by Peter Mair which argues that our mainstream political parties have become so disconnected from wider society that our democratic system is curling up and dying. Voter turn-out, like party membership, has plummeted all over Western Europe as political elites turn their backs on everyday concerns and conspire to stamp their will – or more accurately the EU’s will - on the rest of us. Real decisions are taken by bureaucrats and bankers, nation states lose control of their borders and economies and popular opinion is crushed underfoot. The biggest mystery in all this is why so many on the Left stay locked in to the EU ‘project’, and how those left-wingers who can see through the charade can marry their beliefs with Labour Party membership. They’re like a cuckolded husband who won’t give up on his cheating wife no matter how many times he catches her in bed with shady geezers from Brussels. It’s time for a UKIP of the Left.

Jan 1st 2014. Happy New Year! I’ll post my TV awards over at On The Box on Sunday. But here is my pick of the cultural highs of 2013, starting with Book of the Year: Lost Victorian Britain by Gavin Stamp; Best biog: Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume One: Not For Turning by Charles Moore. Film of the Year: Django Unchained. Album of the Year: AM by the Arctic Monkeys; Top Punk Album: For The Love Of It All by the Old Firm Casuals; Protest Album: Dreams From The Factory Floor by Louise Distras (remember when we had factories?). TV Show of the Year: Game Of Thrones. Best wishes to all my readers, and good luck - in our damaged, decaying, tranquillised and infantilised culture we’ll need it.

Some of today’s papers, along with a few opportunist politicians, seem to be trying to drum up hatred towards immigrants. But why target the poor Romanians and Bulgarians? You can’t blame them for wanting to make a better life for themselves. If there are too many immigrants heading for the UK, the people responsible are the fat-cats who benefit from this ready supply of cheap labour, the European Union and its Free Movement policy, politicians of all establishment parties who want to be part of the EU, and the newspapers that encouraged us to vote for those parties. It wasn’t the Roma who conned us into the ‘Common Market’. It wasn’t the Bulgarians who caused the banking crisis. It’s madness that we can’t control our borders, but we should blame our rulers, not the immigrants – and sign the People’s Pledge.

Previously...