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Sleuth 14/11/2008

Barack Obama and buses, Alistair Campbell does God and the BNP out and about

Published on November 13th 2008.


Sleuth 14/11/2008

Sleuth is a sideways glance at the city every week. We give £25 for every story/rumour, piece of absurdity or serious issue you find for us to print. We ask for the money back if any legal action follows.

What Whitefield does today the White House does tomorrow?

All the media of Manchester got a press release recently about how Barack Obama's transport advisers were studying Manchester's Congestion Charge plan. We tracked the man behind claim Jack Opiola, an American consultant who worked on the proposed charge, to ask how close the plan had actually got to the president-elect. Opiola was in Rio. He was stuck in a traffic jam. How ironic. The idea hadn’t got very close apparently but Manchester certainly has been noticed by Obama's transition team and in Opiola’s words, “the unique nature of Manchester's proposals on transport with its plans for charging and a referendum meant that the eyes of the world are on the city.” He also mentioned that Australian transport officials are specifically observing what is happening with the TIF in Manchester and how the vote turns out. Sleuth reckons everybody loves a bit of attention. Nice one.

Text generation

Sleuth is a stickler for writing things out in full. That’s what the language is about, that's what predictive text messaging is for. So he was horrified to see this window on the closing down Dolcis store on Market Street. Maybe the writer was Scottish and had got confused with ‘laddies shoes'. No, thought Sleuth, more likely, he or she was just a bit daft.

Holy spin doctor

That former demon of spin, Alistair Campbell, when he was Blair’s right hand man, once said to an American journo that, ‘we don’t do God’. Throughout his career he’s made it clear that the whole subject of religion appals him. Odd then that at the signing session for his new novel, ‘All in the Mind’ on 25 November, he’s allowing Waterstones to host the event in St Ann’s Church. Maybe he’s seen the light - due to an urgent need to maximise sales of his new book. Or maybe the bookshop have messed up and not informed him of the location. This could be hazardous, they wouldn’t want a repetition of a Don McCullin event in the nineties. The famous photographer, who also despised religion, was so annoyed that Waterstones had put him in St Ann’s church for his event that he fled the city on the first train out.

Leftfield web presence?

This is a weird one. Certain city figures, some involved with the media, some not, have been sent a survey from the Guardian. This according to a Sleuth insider is, apparently, the ‘paper digging for info so they can set up their own website for Manchester. If that’s the case, thinks Sleuth, it doesn’t say much about what the London powers-that-be at the Guardian Media Group think of their brethren’s websites at the MEN and City Life.

Regular movements round the back

Sleuth asked lovely MIDAS, the inward investment agency based in Trafford Park, for some one-liners bigging-up the region. One of the info packs came back with loads of quotes from consultancies and business surveys. We’ve been variously declared Britain’s best city for business, the UK’s best city for a new headquarters, and home to the most popular British university. But Sleuth loved this one. According to Cushman and Wakefield’s UK Cities Monitor 2008 we’re ‘the UK’s best city for a new back office function’. Ooh er...madam. Is that a euphemism for something? Sleuth will in future be proudly relating to guests how smooth and slick we are as a city when it comes to getting the most from our back offices.

Purple and purposeful?

Sleuth was at a meeting with the splendid Lord Mayor of Manchester, Mavis Smitheman. The word feisty was invented for this purple-haired bundle of fun and energy. He loved it when she was describing her mayoral chain: “I like going to the get-togethers with the other mayors in the ten boroughs of Greater Manchester. I like to tell them I’m the only Lord Mayor there and they’re only mayors. I call them the villagers.” Sleuth reckons that the gym going Lord Mayor Mavis Smitheman would do well on a big night out with Gordo and Sleuth.

BNP stressing themselves and others?

It seems that the BNP has come out all over Greater Manchester. On Wednesday one of our readers got in touch about a display van going around town with the face of a battered white gent and the strapline: 'The police ignore racist violence'. The police of course completely reject this. Meanwhile, another of our readers texted us this picture of a wreath at the St Peter’s Square Cenotaph. Sleuth supposes that we all have the right to pay respects to the war dead, but didn’t our forbears of many creeds and colours die in a struggle against a regime which used nationalism as a weapon of hate against other races? The BNP would perhaps deny that they do the latter, but a look at core policies on their website seems to indicate the opposite with its talk of deportation and resettlement. In a city such as Manchester defined by the cultural mix of Brit and immigrant these claims seem particularly unwelcome. In a country with a racial mix which began thousands of years ago, it simply doesn't make sense.

BNP just say no

Finally on Wednesday another reader brought it to our attention that the Wigan branch of the BNP have decided they don't like the Congestion Charge proposals and are advising their members to vote No come the referendum on 11 December. This doesn't chime with what the BNP write in their own policy ideas in the section called 'Transport: time to invest'. They say, 'Congestion of our towns and cities must be eased by the provision of greater incentives to use rail and bus transport instead of private cars.' Of course then they trip themselves up talking about rights for motorists. Strange people. Still as one wag said: “if the BNP are advising us to vote No, that’s the best reason for voting Yes I can think of.”

Off the rails
Following our story this week about the hell that is the Manchester to Liverpool train service, things are getting more and more tense.Apparently the Manchester service drew up at Warrington station to let people off, but was so full the female conductor wouldn't let anyone on. Somebody pointed out that if a few people shifted around four or so extra bodies could squeeze in. This resulted in the conductor and a female commuter having a loud, and on the conductor's part very unprofessional, argument. A few minutes later, there was a scuffle when the conductor re-opened the doors and a fella tried to force his way onto the train. Then there was a stand off between the conductor and this fella which was only resolved when a platform attendant turned up to get him off the train. Good old East Midlands Trains. We've reposted our story (click here) about the train hell on this line - with a link to a letter you can send at the click of a button to Geoff Hoon.

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64 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

stalinNovember 13th 2008.

nick the dick! people like you need to hate somebody no matter what, otherwise you're tiny little world would be so dull. take tourself and you're mates off to the shetlands or somewhere so you can all inter-breed. you'd all look the same then. then you'd be happy.

Jane SpringNovember 13th 2008.

Yes. plus live-servicemen on the now infamous list. So will you honour one of them if they get killed in the line of duty? to the same degree as Mr Liberal Greenie? or Mr Ethnic-Minority?

AnonymousNovember 13th 2008.

Well said Alan, although I believe that many people who support them do so because they wrongly believe they are simply standing up for working class whites, unaware they are fundamentally an extremist party led by extremely unpleasant far right nazi sympathisers.

surface2aiRNovember 13th 2008.

come home babe.Babies waiting 4 u .Seabee a lot of lovinig in the hive.

NickNovember 13th 2008.

Well I also have seen the BNP truck and thought it far more practical than that old banger love not hate which throws out black disel fumes choking people. It states on the BNP Bus Racism cuts both ways how right that is . Steven Lawrence is a houseold name . Yet 15 year old Kriss Donald the white boy from Glasgow was also racialy killed . the judge at the time described his murder as the worst racist murder of the Centuary. His Asiam killers said on the day they killed him Lets go kill a white boy then they fled back to pakistan. They were eventually bought back and are now serving life. So that Liberal Moron who said the BNP bus was Scary. So his Murder. BNP forward and Upward.

Jane SpringNovember 13th 2008.

That ‘ridiculous commentary’ is one mans opinion. Are you scared that it is an opinion shared by many? Your vitriol towards someone else’s considered opinion suggest you are.

AnonymousNovember 13th 2008.

What a rediculous notion. You are voting yes just because the BNP say to vote no? You should all not be allowed to vote - you are worse that they are. Vote on the issues and vote on the facts.

Jane SpringNovember 13th 2008.

Well done for finding salacious comments on a blog. They can be found for just about group of people.

voice of reason.....November 13th 2008.

Middle-England-Man et. alI am startled by your views, we are no longer in a world where one can tolerate views which are historic and outmoded... We are a generation and a world in transition with diaspora of many different cultures moving around the world, this is not a uniquely british problem, and one can see already the number of european and american faces in saudi arabia, china, india, and other places brought there by economic potential. In a global environment, there is little place for abject nationalism, we have seen on our doorstep that many european nations have retained their identity while taking on a higher "european" identity also. It will take many generations for a truly integrated society to evolve but we must realise the dangers of nationalism have been seen only too clearly within our recent history..."If I can send the flower of the German nation into the hell of war without the smallest pity for the shedding of precious German blood, then surely I have the right to remove millions of an inferior race that breeds like vermin" - A.HThis is a massively extreme view, but one created from nationalism and a sense of overwhelming identity without any understanding of other cultures.....A US Supreme court judge once said, "In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way. And in order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently." We are shifting with our younger generations to a far more globally integrated society, and it would be a damn shame if the generation(s) after ours were afflicted with the same intolerances and insecurities.

George MedalNovember 13th 2008.

Dear Middle England Man to satisfy your desire, you're a bigot.

Jane SpringNovember 13th 2008.

Who knows when people hide behind "Anonymous".

Jane SpringNovember 13th 2008.

Good god. Time of the month? I'm struggling to see any form of riddle in my posts? Maybe its an intelligence thing? But I've never made any demanding requests....As for Doris Day movies??? you're accusing ME of riddles??

AnonymousNovember 13th 2008.

I'm proud to be English, but my England is very different from the BNP's. I'm proud to live in a vibrant city in a nation that holds deceny and tolerance amongst its traditional values. Quite by chance I wandered past the BNP truck in Manchester city centre, early on Wednesday morning. It was viscerally threatening - I was shocked at the impact made by a simple advertising hoarding (accompanied by Land of Hope and Glory). It just made me more determined to stand up to them.

jaybeeNovember 13th 2008.

The BNP wreath in memory of our war dead has been stolen from the St.Peter's Square war memorial. This theft has been reported to the police who have taken a dim view of this theft. Thanks to the plethora of Stasi style CCTV cameras around the Square and memorial they are studying footage in an attempt to identify the cowardly night-time creeper responsible for this despicible crime. For, and on behalf of, BNP ex-servicemens group. For you highly strung lefties and PC adherents this group does include servicewomen.

RichardNovember 13th 2008.

...or treat them like a political party and see if people vote for them. If they do, their opinions are valid for a proportion of the population. If they are indeed irrelevant, they will got no material votes. We call that democracy.

scoteeeNovember 13th 2008.

Are there any Jane?

Jane SpringNovember 13th 2008.

.....and doing a great job of twisting anything said around 180 degrees and using to avoid the issue. You would do very well on the payroll of the Daily Mail. Back to the issue, I don't beleive anyone stated that ALL immigrants act in the way you stated they did.

AnonymousNovember 13th 2008.

Jane, are we involved in the same conversation here or are you debating with someone else inside your head? Either way I cant keep up with this contributor who has been vitriolic, preaching, twisting everything said by 180 degrees and is a budding tabloid hack to boost. My simple comments can't compete. I hope you win your argument with this person.

scoteeeNovember 13th 2008.

I'm sorry Jane I wasnt aware thatI might be thought of as MI6?!Yes, Riddles.You ask lots of suggestive questions that demand responses and dont offer your own opinion.All I can see is a "Jane Spring" who holds herself in high regard up there on her soap box picking others points to pieces when all she probably really needs is good f**k to sort her out!!wasnt Jane spring that sad cow that sat at home watching dorris day drinking red wine??? well that figures!

JohnNovember 13th 2008.

I assume that the "fallen heroes" that the BNP are laying a tribute to would be the SS. As for their opposition to the TIF, presumably that's because it's just so difficult getting tanks past those pesky trams

scoteeeNovember 13th 2008.

stop speaking in riddles jane say what you mean ?

NickNovember 13th 2008.

Anonymous says..“ I'm proud to be English, but my England is very different from the BNP's. " Oh dear "

AeronNovember 13th 2008.

"daily mail reading 'do-gooders'" - now there's a phrase you don't often hear.

The Fat ControllerNovember 13th 2008.

There are one hundred train stations in Greater Manchester - The TIF proposes to give a total of £149 million towards rail improvement. Bad deal or good? Could they have spent more on rail than the £1.2billion on digging up the roads and putting trams on the rails they lay.

AnonymousNovember 13th 2008.

Yes Jane.. So first I was vitirolic, and now I am preaching! And as for the factual comments, what are these exactly!!! Great imagination though!

Adam-AltrinchamNovember 13th 2008.

The best way to repsond to the BNP would be treat them as completely irrelevant (which of course they are) - that way however they intend to vote on the congestion charge should have no bearing whatsoever on how ordinary people vote. There are serious concerns for Manchester on both side of the arguement and it would be bizarre if the wacky BNP influence this decision!

Jane SpringNovember 13th 2008.

Do you think 'other' groups would honour BNP members that have died in service? Thought not.

middle-england-manNovember 13th 2008.

I don't accept that Manchester is defined by its cultural mix, I think it (and the country) is being worsened because of its cultural mix and the political furore that goes with it....and in this country of free speech, everyone should be entitled to voice their opinion without the daily mail reading 'do-gooders' jumping on pathetic bandwagons. If they want to lay a tribute to fallen heros, who the hell are you to criticise?? Are you complaining about the mulsim church laying wreaths? or the Labour Party as they were the ones that have lied to justify a war where 100s of our soldiers have been murdered. You are a disgrace to Great Britain. (and I'm not a supporter of the BNP, nor do I share their beliefs. I'm a Conservative voting, working member of Middle-Class England. Or as the government calls me, a cash-cow.) Shame that I'm no-doubt about to be called a Bigot by those who are infact the Bigotted ones.

heatsekeerNovember 13th 2008.

yes check this out. Iam a black man and last week the governor of california tried to set fire to barak obmama police are looking for Arnold Scroch ANIGGER

Chris PaulNovember 13th 2008.

You really just need to see some of the NO campaign's supporters in action at debates and so on to realise what reason and nous is up against here. Of course there are some people on that anti-progress side with reasonable arguments ... Peel for example want to make more profit in their out of town and merseyside operations and know a revitalised GMC could threaten that ... then there are MART, the BNP, and strange as strange can be the SWP (though they are keeping quiet about their line). All these TWAs and FWAs!

No MSGNovember 13th 2008.

Jane Spring,are you still single by any chance?

scoteeeNovember 13th 2008.

Done a bit of digging and this is the type of supporters who demonstrate through bloggs what type of people they really are..www.blogger.com/comment.g…

No MSGNovember 13th 2008.

Oh I just wondered whether or not the lonely nights on the sofa with copius amounts of red wine following Dorris Day on the box had done the trick yet ?

Jane SpringNovember 13th 2008.

Riddles?

G JacksonNovember 13th 2008.

Classic repost Middle Englander. The Sleuth comment criticises the BNP for laying a wreath. This is a single political party. You say 'Are you complaining about the mulsim (sic) church (sic) laying wreaths?' It would be more pertinent for your arguments if you said Al Qaeda or some other Islamist extremist party. To include the whole of Islam in your comment when the comments refer to a single party the BNP shows your true colours I think.

scoteeeNovember 13th 2008.

There is a policeman on the list ?

middle-england-manNovember 13th 2008.

Jackon - much like classing anyone that doesn't wholeheartedly embrace every non-briton as a BNP sympathiser or bigot? As for Britain’s heritage, yes we are made up of a different nationalities. Firstly, there was resistance to these ‘invasions’, and secondly, they happened over centuries, not months. Never before have British people just allowed ‘others’ to come to our land, tell us we are evil, tell we are ‘infidels’, tell us we deserve to die, force us to accept their cultures….and expect to be paid by us in the process. In centuries gone by, we have stood up to such invaders. We used to call it Dunkirk Spirit. Apt given the subject of the article.

No No NoNovember 13th 2008.

As long as the Yes voters know what they will do to Manchester businesses then carry on, vote Yes... but you'll see the businesses move out

johnthebriefNovember 13th 2008.

voice-of-reason, how reasonable do you think your statement is that "we are no longer in a world where one can tolerate views which are historic and outmoded... " - I thought the point of a liberal democracy was to tolerate all views, not just those that accord with your own. It's a cliche but nevertheless true, that freedom of speech only matters when it's offensive

Burt CodeineNovember 13th 2008.

^^ Erm by 'this lot' I mean the BNP and not the Vote Yes for TIF lot...although...

John ButterworthNovember 13th 2008.

Middle England Man how can you possibly say that this country has been worsened by its cultural mix. I come from Bury as did all my family, but somewhere in the nineteenth century we had a Scottish relative, before that I guess with my name my background was immigrant Saxon, no doubt they inter-bred with the native Celts. Maybe there's some Norman in there too. Who knows? I may have black blood in me from when Britain was empire building, go back before the Saxons and I may have Mongol, Slav....who knows what mix. I love Britain's mongrel nature, recent immigration is part of a continuing heritage. I am not proud of the BNP trying to hijack that heritage and narrowly defining Britishness as white, it proves their ignorance of history, and their simple lack of intelligence. Shall we go through the history of this country and look at how many great figures of the past had immigrant backgrounds?

strefford_potterNovember 13th 2008.

That's convinced me, I'll definitely be voting YES now.

Jane SpringNovember 13th 2008.

Interesting that you quote 'Freedom of Speech'.

Dennis/hattersleyNovember 13th 2008.

In response to Stalin i know [i think] what your trying to say,but why the Shetlands ? Having viking. the land of simmer dim ancestory blood coursing through my veins annoys me for the silly interbreeding comment.Drive to the granite city and get the 12 hour ferry to Lerwick and visit the beautiful Zetlands and i'm sure you will rethink your risable comment,even better go when Up Helly'ya is on

James GNovember 13th 2008.

Well said Karen H. Exactly. No violent invasion there.

Jane SpringNovember 13th 2008.

almost as rediculous as reporting factual comments as "all immigrants who come here "demand that we die" and "force us to accept their cultures"." You preach tolerance, then display the exact opposite.

Artie fufkinNovember 13th 2008.

This is desparate stuff from the yesmen. The BNP also make a great play about cleaning litter, does that mean every one of us who doesn't support he BNP should go out and hoy litter about?

Michael WestNovember 13th 2008.

Most thinking people realise that the BNP only think about colour (or to use a much bandied word on their website indigenousness people) in their sense of Britishness. A very startling thing I did learn from their website is that it ranks 2,500 on the most visited UK websites (ManCon ranks at 24,000 and Labour 14,000). Slightly worrying or they have a team of helper monkeys hitting the site morning noon and night.

AvoNovember 13th 2008.

Seems that a disgruntled ex member of the BNP has released full details of all members of the party on the internet. The information includes names, addresses, contact numbers and email addresses.

AnonymousNovember 13th 2008.

Yes absoultely, the BNP should have no effect on how someone votes on the TIF. So much ridiculous commentry from middle england man, yawn, as per usual making it impossible to have an objective debate on immigration et al. People are fools to believe the BNP are anything but an extremist party that are hijacking some peoples sometimes genuine concerns.

KellyNovember 13th 2008.

I tried to get on that East Midland Train this morning. There was loads of room for a good few more, and couldn't believe how unprofessional the conductor was being. She was really rude. That's the third time this week, loads of commuters have been left on the platform not being able to get on the train. Tensions are getting very high!

AnonymousNovember 13th 2008.

Jane, I think vitirol is a bit of an overstatement don't you? And it is is ridiculous to suggest that all immigrants who come here "demand that we die" and "force us to accept their cultures". Such nonsense helps no one and makes it impossible to take any of the person's comments seriously.

burt CodeineNovember 13th 2008.

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to stomach the 'Yes' advocates latching onto virtually anything which can be tenuously linked to the TIF proposals. If it's not Barack Obama's historic election win it's that sickly bunch at the BNP or god knows what else. It disgusts me to hear this lot (and yup, conversely I agree with free speech and all that...) puking their thought ends all over this proud city. Just glad I didn't have friends and family up and witnessed such a sight...

scoteeeNovember 13th 2008.

Jane I would honour you if you picked up arms against any nation that chose to invade our shores and I would be right behind you regardless of your beliefs.However I see no reason for our own nations bloodshed along with that of others whilst I can still walk the streets,earn a wage and have freedom of speech.Each of us has our own beliefs and It is my belief that British servicemen put their life at risk for what they believe in.As a more direct answer to your question, the beliefs of a british individual prepared to defend our nation is irrelevant...they are defending our nation!

James PNovember 13th 2008.

I can't stand they've put a wreath there, it totally misses the point. John's comment here is funny though. Still I went to the Cenotaph and the wreath seems to have disappeared. The power of this organ perhaps.

Karen HNovember 13th 2008.

To Middle Englander this is from Manchester: the Victorian Age by Gary Messinger.‘Manchester was an extraordinarily open town… which became a kind of Eldorado. From the farms, villages and towns of neighbouring areas, successive waves of English labourers migrated towards it. From across the sea came the poor of Ireland. From the north came Scotsmen fleeing the harsh life of the Highlands and the slums of Edinburgh and Glasgow. And from the Continent more settlers arrived; some fleeing religious persecution, others fleeing civil strife, such as the Greeks during the revolution of 1821 and Italians during the wars leading up to national unification in the 1840s. Others, particularly the large number of Germans from Hanseatic cities,were attracted by the chance of high monetary returns for their business skills. In the northern part of the city, east European Jews arrived to join their Spanish and Portuguese brethren, Italians set up their own community in Ancoats.’ That's what makes a successful city.

Kevin PeelNovember 13th 2008.

The BNP are against everything we in this country should stand for. I truly can't think of any more reason why we should vote yes. Vote yes for progress!

AnonymousNovember 13th 2008.

Burt - are you likewise disgusted to hear other groups 'puking their thoughts all over this proud city'? Muslim Rallies? Gay & Lesbian rights demonstrations? Women’s rights? Greenpeace actions? Disabled action events???? The thoughts that were ‘puked’ were opinionated, but merely that. Highlighting elements of our society that is incorrect is the grounds for any demonstration – to degrade and be disgusted by one because it is a political party that you don’t agree with, makes you are wrong as they are in your eyes.

JamesNovember 13th 2008.

Jaybee - how very P.C. of you to include women. Not really a highly strung lefty, but does your BNP ex-servicemens group also honour people of different ethnic groups and sexuality?Though not.

Alan BeswickNovember 13th 2008.

The BNP betray British history. They are Oswald Mosley's rump of the Nazis. They are vicious only and never constructive. They are either the overbearing playgroung bully or the bitter playground weakling plotting his revenge. Has anybody ever met anybody who admits to being a BNP member? No because all right thinking people think they let this country down.

scoteeeNovember 13th 2008.

It's a smart arse thing I think springy!!!

Just Say YesNovember 13th 2008.

If the BNP say no we should defiantley say YES

AnonymousNovember 13th 2008.

Chris I think you have your wires crossed. The YES campaigners are riddled with self-interest in the congestion charging - the NO camp doesn't have anyone that would benefit measurably from the dropping of the charge. Your example of Peel is rediculous. They are campaigning 'NO', so how would that BENEFIT their out-of-town operations? surely for self interest they would want people to be forced out of Manchester??

Jane SpringNovember 13th 2008.

MSG - I'm not I'm afraid to report, why? are you asking?

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