Beestonia: A Tenth of a Millionth..

Hundreds sold its 100,000th copy

I’m up to my neck right now finishing off Issue 16 of The Beestonian: for such a tiny magazine it sucks up an enormous amount of time, patience and shoe-leather. I think we’ve put together a masterpiece: you can judge for yourselves on Friday when we print and distribute.

The turmoil of the final ten days before print has a pattern; one of growing panic, coupled with a plethora of stuff happening: stuff I’d normally feel dead grateful for as it lends to me great blogging material; but it seems to dump itself into my life exactly when I’m too busy to do anything but edit submitted articles and run a legal fine-comb over the whole thing less I trigger an Oz-style lawsuit. It normally finishes on print day, where I stagger to the printers, a broken man, collect the issue and  then revive myself by distributing it to our predominantly licensed distributors.

So here’s a cop-out. I’m going to do a Best Of. Yep,  like the best bands do, and The Simpsons and suchlike do on telly, I’m stop-gapping with a retrospective. I can claim some mitigation here: Beestonia recently went whizzing past the 100,000 hit mark, which means that either every single man, woman and child in Beeston has read the blog around five times; I have a good chunk of regular readers here; or there are still a huge cohort of people looking for the short-lived Baltic Tourist Board site ‘Be Estonia’.


I’ve had a glance at the stats of this blog over the time i’ve been writing it: I won’t bore you with the details as I have with my girlfriend and anyone in earshot. Yet I can tell you I’ve written 222 more posts than the average blogger (223, to be precise); have had the majority of hits in the last 8 months and am a bit embarrassed to say the top search terms after the obvious (Soubry, Beeston, Wilkos) are ‘ EVIL CATS’; ‘KYLIE PENTALOW’ and ‘JIMMY SAVILE SHAKING HANDS WITH PETER SUTCLIFFE’.

So before I link to my favourite three posts, I best explain why  that search entry is so popular. When Saville died, and I assumed he was, like, not evil; and as such found a clip where he fixed it for a little Beeston boy to meet Luke Skywalker on the set of The Empire Strikes Back. Perfectly innocent. I also stuck up a rare and forgotten photo of Saville, Sutcliffe and Frank Bruno:


I can’t recall how I found the photo: was something I remember seeing many years ago and managed to source. Yet very soon after posting it, the Savile scandal broke, and the BBC broadcast Have I Got News For You, which had the host, Alexander Armstrong, put up the picture as something ‘found on the internet’.  Within twenty minutes of broadcast, I’d had 250 hits on that article, which swelled to ten times that amount with a day. So yes. The most popular post in three years of writing has been one that, as an afterthought, had a picture of a hideous abuser, a multiple murderer and a mentally troubled boxer thrown in.

It may have cribbed me most hits for a piece, but it doesn’t really shout ‘Beestonia!’, does it? So over the next five days, I’m counting down in reverse order the bits I’ve written I’m most happy with. Indulge me. I just hit six figures. I’m busy. Possibly insecure. I seek your approval.

So in at Number Five! It’s Theresa Lou. It’s no longer actually viewable on Beestonia: it was my first hit and, as such, had to flee the nest as it became far too big. I deal in polemics, politics and whimsy: Theresa Lou was a different entity whatsoever.

You probably haven’t read it if you’ve found this blog within the last three years. When I wrote it, I had maybe 50 readers per article. Theresa Lou went viral, for a short period, and was snapped up by Radio 4 and is still awaiting production as a play: yet I hold no hopes of it coming off ice and into development. It was fun while it lasted, it got people to come to the blog, and it gave me confidence to carry on.

Before you click the link, a warning. The whole thing is HUGE. It’s little more than a transcript of conversations I had with a Malaysian scammer while (mainly) drunk over the Christmas and New Year of 2009/2010, so will take up your time. I still have people approach me to tell me how much they love it: and I’m not going to stick up any false modesty here although I never embarked on the whole thing for public consumption. It was only after mentioning a couple of exchanges on Facebook was I persuaded to publish it on-line: it then span into madness and lots and lots of readers.

Put the kettle on. This is my War and Peace compared to the normal Mills and Boon I churn out. But with sofas stuffed with cash, goat sacrifices and promises of fire engines. Comfy? Then click here…


Guest Post: No More Page 3 Update, by Lisa Clarke.

Another guest post for you: this might look like tremendous laziness on my part but I’ve always thought Beestonia works well when it’s not just a couple of thousand of my words thrown at you each week, but comprised of different voices from all over our town. If you’d like to submit a piece, I’d be more than delighted to recieve it and, as long as it isn’t legally dodgy, overtly offensive or just a collection of florid words describing my awfulness, then I’ll publish here.

Usual disclaimers apply; over to Lisa:

Wow! Quite a lot has happened since I last wrote a bog about the No More Page 3 campaign for Beestonia. At that time I was involved on the outskirts, with quiet determination, trying to draw support and signatures to a campaign that , for reasons I didn’t completely understand had captured my heart.
I ran two local demo’s that were both well received. Then over Christmas thing went quiet. I thought nothing of it at first when the usually buzzing facebook group seemed less busy and put it down to the distractions of the season. But well into new year there still seemed to be little sign of life and I all but thought the campaign may be about to fold. Then something amazing happened. The fabulous, bubbly, determined young woman Lucy Holmes who I had only seen in her comical online videos about the campaign sent me an email. A long and heartfelt email explaining that she had put quite literally everything of herself into this campaign and was spent. She was reaching out to a small group of us that she had spotted through the networks for help and she seemed less than confident of a positive response. My goodness did she get one! We were all excited, thrilled and flattered to have been picked out and there are now 8 of us on the No More Page 3 team or NMP3HQ as we call ourselves. Most of us have never met and the whole thing is co-ordinated online through social networks. We are all busy people with jobs, often young children and lots of other things going on but we have this amazing determination in common – to improve the representation of women in the UK media starting by removing the sexist 1970’s dinosaur that is Page 3.

Within 24 hours of the new group forming our private site was alive with ideas – involving more students, universities, schools, gong after The Sun’s advertisers, drawing more popular support. Amongst the ideas that Lucy had noted down was tweeting Rupert Murdoch himself and we started to do this straight away, giving him an occasional update. Then after a day of Men against Page 3 was really well received across Facebook and Twitter we decided to run the following Sunday with a “Tweet Rupert Murdoch day”. He must have received 100s of tweets but responded to just 1. A supporter named Karen who simply suggested page 3 was “So last century”. The rest is a bit of history now that was splashed across national media for much of the following week whilst we at NMP3HQ attempted to deal with press interview after interview. Interestingly we have done a hell of a lot of international TV and newspaper interviews with most of Europe seemingly fascinated by this story and all utterly perplexed at the “strange Brits” having something like Page 3 still around. They, without exception see it as bizarre. It was all a bit of a whirlwind of activity but with us never quite making it onto our own TV screens owing to the pope who decided to retire the next day. Most inconvenient timing.
So this just about brings us up to speed, with the issue now constantly ticking away in the media and the pro-page 3 mob clearly very rattled. Presumably not helped by the fact that, despite the awful coverage of Reeva Steenkamps tragic death/murder, page 3 has been absent from The Sun 3-4 times already this year which, we have on good authority is unusual. It seems the end may be in sight, except we all know it isn’t an end….

Yesterday I was interviewed (little old me *snort) by a Times journalist who quotes me in an article saying “The Sun, as the top-selling paper, has a brilliant opportunity to change things for women in this country, and to present them in an equal, non-objectified way,..But unfortunately, it chooses not to accept that opportunity. Page 3 is part of that, but it’s certainly not the whole picture.” I was over the moon to have the opportunity to say that and it should have been a really good day. Sadly two other things happened yesterday -The Sun ran again with no traditional page 3 but instead photographs from a playboy bunny beach shoot (the model wore a bikini top! Whoop de doo) and a petition was started, seemingly by page 3 girls who were up in arms that they may no longer be able to pose topless as they want to in the newspaper and would no longer therefore be able to continue their important charity work and their morale building visits to troops in Afghanistan etc.

I have had a sleepless night (again) trying to marry this reality with the world that I like to think I’m living in.

You see….in the world I would like to be in there are newspapers with news, current affairs and features. These papers may at times focus on sex or sexual issues, they may also focus on glamour but they do it proportionately and equally. They ensure that nobody of any particular gender, race or creed is singled out for exploitation or public undressing. These newspapers make sure that at the very least when a woman is brutally beaten or murdered by her partner the murder/rape/assault is treated as that. As a crime against a woman who is worthy of respect by a man who allegedly has behaved in a deplorable fashion.
The world I would like to be in has newspapers and media that showcase young people’s talent.  Sometimes that may be their looks but it may also be their hard work and ability. The media support these extraordinary young people in carrying out charity work. They take amazing young musicians/artists to Afghanistan to entertain the male and female troops there. They may even take a model sometimes, female or male.

The world I would like to live in would stop putting pictures of young women in a national newspaper for men’s titillation (there are other publications for that which don’t make it onto family dining tables and into family restaurants) and start treating all women, regardless of their allure with respect. It would certainly not however immediately stop supporting the models it has encouraged to pose topless all this time but would continue it’s fabulous charity work and indeed expand the opportunity to give all young people a chance to be a part of that. It wouldn’t in a million years consider only supporting, in this charity and overseas work, a certain demographic of young, mostly white women of say, below size 14 dress size and it would surely to goodness not only take the ones who are willing to undress for the privilege? Surely not!

Sadly when I wake up it seems this is not the world I am living in, not yet anyway. So until then on with the fight…

A Beestonian Landmark / Off The Buses? – guest post by Simon Barton.

Sometime over the weekend, I went past 100,000 hits on this blog, which I’m rather delighted by: especially as half of those have been in just the last few months. Onwards to a million!

A guest post today though, from Simon Barton, owner of Barton’s on Chilwell High Road, which has been doing some rather interesting things over the last year, and looks set to expand and refine it’s events in 2013. Usual disclaimer: as with all guest posts they do not necessarily reflect my views, or that of my other outlet, The Beestonian. Over to Simon:

Here is a parable. It can be read as a microcosm of the grinding paralysis that has gripped the progress of our nation. A stultifying cycle that is suffocating us has to be broken.


A man had an idea that could give joy to the privileged few. It liberated. It hurt no-one, entertained everyone, was daring and fun and foolish and ridiculous. It looked a bit dangerous, but wasn’t, too much. But enough to give quite a thrill. It was seen as a passing fad, a pin-prick, something so isolated that it could be easily controlled and wouldn’t upset the old order too much. It could easily be ‘kept in its box’, or at worst put back in. It was tolerated, eventually and reluctantly by sceptical authorities, and it was accepted in England in 1896. It was the motor car. 


But to one single minded man, it wasn’t a car at all. 

It was a very, very, small bus. 

So he got out his tools, and got to work to change things. “This car’s inventor, Herr Benz, has evidently got many things wrong.” he thought

And the English authorities tutted, and folded their arms and shook their heads, and said: “Someone always has to take things too far, and spoil it for everyone.”

“Picking up passengers, and taking them to places they want to go!” “Preposterous!” “Who is this man?” “He must be stopped” “Prosecute him, he has no permission”. But still the man went on. And on. And on. And on and on and on.  And despite no one else thinking this way, he had had experiences that uniquely prepared him for what was to come. 


He was an engineer, a motor engineer, he had just enough access to funds, and he had family. 


A car does not function as well as a bus because it is too small and insufficiently powerful. Lacking the means, and not having the need to start from scratch, he used his engineering skills to adapt, first one, then two then more. “I can cut my car in half and extend the chassis”, “I can put on a roof and enclose the body” ” I can run my bus on petrol, with steam, with oil, even with hydrogen” the man thought

“But have you got permission?” “You will of course require our permission” said the authorities. And the man said, “I don’t need your permission, because I’m doing things so beyond your limited expectations that you haven’t yet written the rules to stop me. I have looked into it as closely as I could be bothered to, but in any case, whatever you say, I’m still just going to do it”.

But the authorities thought of ways to hinder him, not because they needed to, just simply because they thought they should. And prosecute they did, on trumped up charges. But the people loved him, really loved and supported him, and moreover, loved his buses. And he was an engineer, a motor engineer, and he still had just enough access to funds, and he had family. 

Like his buses, his family grew. And worked with him. Both the boys and the girls, driving and conducting. “Girls, driving and conducting,” said the authorities “are you quite mad?” Such dangerous thinking put the man, his daughters and their adopted home town of Beeston Nottinghamshire in the national newspapers in 1913. But still they went on, and with them, more and more people travelled on his increasing numbers of buses, and worked for his companies, and took jobs and careers that were previously unavailable to them, as they had lived before in inaccessible villages.

Strange unexpected things started to happen. People found they could totally rely on his service. They found they had more time for themselves because travelling was so much quicker, and if they chose to they could move from the squalor of cities to the towns and villages around and still work, and play, and rest. The economy started to move for the better, and people became more prosperous and met each other and married and travelled even more. The man who had been frequently threatened, and even once been taken to one side for making a fool of both himself and the town in which he lived, had, it seemed, been right.

“Hang on a minute”, said the authorities, “this lunatic has stumbled across a good idea after all. He, by his stupidity and completely by accident, has achieved things we have been trying to, with all our resources and Committees for years. What a stroke of luck we haven’t yet succeeded in stopping him”. 

Rather than thank him for changing the world for the better, they had their own plan. “Let’s copy what he did, but rather than do it for the love of life, the pleasure of seeing a job done well, and for a modicum of profit, let’s use people’s taxes and rates and start a “not for profit version” that properly belongs to the people.” 

And they did. His buses were the brightest possible red. Their buses were a rather sober green. His seats were covered with expensive and comfortable cloth that you could run your hand over with some pleasure, or were warm to your legs. Theirs were made of a plastic that poorly imitated leather, and which was cold in winter and too hot and sticky in summer.

Their service was not the same thing at all. Rather than making a bit of money, the green buses lost rather a lot of money. Rather than being run with vibrancy and love, with vehicles of colour and charm, it was all rather humourless and functionary and bossy. “Exact Fare Only” “No Change Given”, “Don’t stand beyond this point” “Don’t talk to the driver”.

People began to stop using both this service, and then that of the man, whose own idea was damaged by the unfair competition and interference in his business by those who had the power to interfere. People began to think “this bus travel is not for me”. “What I quite clearly need is a car” 

The magic had been broken, and the roads started to clog with cars each often with one person in them. The speed of getting anywhere slowed because of the traffic. The growth in the economy stalled. People arrived at work late and angry and found that living away from the city and towns had become more inconvenient, not less. They questioned why they didn’t want to live closer to where the shops and pubs and offices were. 

And in the man’s family, still doing the same job, in the same company in the same building, at the same desk and in the same chair, someone had a plan. This was the man’s great grandson, and that man is me. Perhaps I have just enough access to resources, but maybe I do not. It is time to see. It is not for the faint-hearted.

If living away from your place of work is no longer the thing because travel has been made so unpleasant, we need to make the place where we work, the place where we also want to live. A town has to function where it can, as a big village. People will need to know each other just enough to feel they live in a place of identity, and that caring about each other and caring about our town will not be pointlessly dissipated, like blowing into a punctured balloon. We need boundaries that are tangible, so we know where our responsibilities end, and those of others begin. We cannot do all things, but we can change an area. When you change an area, you need to start with the smallest most manageable part.

And I have tried to. For twelve years now I have dug, and cut and swept and painted, and lifted and cleared and repaired. I am not finished. A massive site on the edge of Beeston has been taken in hand, and has been cleared where necessary of uses, and clutter and buildings. New uses have been found, hopefully to make a whole town beside the site to start to function better. And people have come to see this place, in ever increasing numbers, and many of them, thank God, intuitively ‘get’ it. It is strange and unusual, and we laugh and we congregate, and people sing and we talk, and we work, and shop and eat. And we start to know each other.

And have, you will ask, the authorities asked me yet how they can help, how they can help me achieve what they claim they want to see with their working groups and their committees and their agendas and their initiatives?

No they have not. They say “where is your permission?” “Have you got our permission?” And my answer?

“I don’t need your permission, because I’m doing things so beyond your expectations that you haven’t yet written the rules to stop me. If I am capable, I’m just going to do it. But if you just, for once, stop trying to hinder me, it will be done far sooner, and you never know, you may like it so much you might even want to imitate it.

A man had an idea that could give joy to the privileged few. It liberated. It hurt no-one, entertained everyone, was daring and fun and foolish and ridiculous. It looked a bit dangerous, but wasn’t, too much. But enough to give quite a thrill. It was seen as a passing fad, a pin-prick, something so isolated that it could be easily controlled and wouldn’t upset the old order too much. It could easily be ‘kept in its box’, or at worst put back in. It was tolerated, and eventually and reluctantly by sceptical authorities, it was accepted.


Simon Barton

Great Grandson of T H Barton OBE 1866 – 1946

Beestonia vs Mark Radcliffe

Those of you lucky enough to be able to spend afternoons listening to BBC Radio 6and the ever fantastic Radcliffe + Maconie show might have heard the following on Wednesday, after my girlfriend decided to tell the nation about our plans for Valentine’s Night: (you’ll need to turn your speakers up a bit for this clip, it’s a bit craply recorded)…

Oof. After being hissed at in the street by scores of indie-music/ romance fans about my lack of care for my partner, I wrote into Radcliffe myself:

(cheers for the more tech-savvy Tamar for sorting that audio file for me)

I hope that clears matters up. And in no way was this a cynical ploy to get my publication mentioned on national radio, oh no.

And just for the sake of it, here’s a free video from Radcliffe and his greatly underrated and now defunct band of genius, The ShireHorses:

Beestonians: Switch Off That PC And Go Out And Do Something Less Boring Instead.

A few things to stick in your diary: the formidable Phil Langran and tub-thumper extraordinaire Ian Beestin are both part of this rather unique event this Sunday:

Sunday 17th February at The Broadway Cinema and Cafe Bar, 14-18 Broad Street, Nottingham NG1 3AL:

A Musical History
Sung and spoken by Will Kaufman
Part of the Nottingham Festival of Words (, this captivating ‘live documentary’ sets the songs of Woody Guthrie in the context of the American 1930s – the Dust Bowl, the Depression, the New Deal and the state of popular music itself. Will Kaufman brings such hard-hitting Guthrie songs as ‘Vigilante Man’, ‘Pretty Boy Floyd’ and ‘I Ain’t Got No Home’ into conversation with other songs of the Depression Era – from Joe Hill’s ‘The Preacher and the Slave’ to ‘Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?’.

Normal Broadway ticket prices apply: £7.50 full price, and £5.90 for concessions. Duration: 90m.

4pm: The Phil Langran Band playing in the Broadway Cafe Bar, free admission. This features the full band line-up plus special guest Ian Beestin on drums.

Ian and Phil are both hugely talented and well worth spending Sunday at the Broadway: a cracking venue for everyone, not just cinephiles.


More music comes courtesy of Joe ‘Slide’ Barber, at The Crown on Sunday 24th February. Joe has been noted for his prodigious talents when it comes to playing bottle-neck blues: he stunned many, including The Beeston Express columnist ‘The Free Ranger’ with his understated style evidenced at the Oxjam Festival. I am contractually obliged to mention that he has Jimmy Wiggins, owner of The Guitar Spot for his tutoring in mastering this difficult art. Jimmy is also our music scribe on The Beestonian, and has been the Yoda to young Barber’s Skywalker for many years.

Also, check the posters dotted round Beeston and behold! I’m quoted on them after writing a review in The Beestonian after Oxjam. My teenage ambitions to be a music critic have been fulfilled just before I hit 40 and am banned from listening to all contemporary music.


Theres long been chatter about Beeston’s need for a cinema. I rarely visit the flicks, mainly cos of the hassle of getting to and from town and the crapness of Showcase and that terrible one in The Cornerhouse. The aforementioned Broadway is great, and the only one I’ve visited for a couple of years, but still, it’s a bummer to have to trek to and fro down Uni Blvd.

Thank heavens then that Barton’s is once again transformed, albeit temporarily, into a cinema soon. For just a tenner, you can spend an afternoon and evening watching classic. cult and contemporary film, courtesy of the Cambridge Film Trust. There will be food and drink – it’s licensed and there will be other surprises within.

It’s taking place between Friday 22nd-Sunday 24th February, and you can find out more – and book tickets online – here.

Go on. Get out more.

Let’s Party Like It’s 2015: Beestonia Channels Nostradamus.

Thank you to the responses, both online and in person, to the article I wrote recently about my little verbal scuffle with the Shadow Minister for Small Businesses, Toby Perkins MP, regarding the Tobin Tax. As such, I’d like to write a bit more to give some more clarity on the issue. Lots of other stuff is happening in Beeston, and I will be writing about them soon, but this one has been niggling me, so excuse me while I stretch this one out.

I vote, as I hope you do, not tribally but after a careful evaluation of the qualities of whatever politician is put in front of me. I hope in some way, this blog serves as an aid to that process. It was started up after a surprising failure to find such a thing on the Internet back in 2009, and I feel almost embarrassed to be inhabiting that role now. After four years of meeting politicians, the desire to see through the label and onto the individual has only been intensified. I have met some truly awful people from all over the political spectrum, as well as some absolutely faith-restoring individuals whose goodness shines through whatever colour prism it passes through.

So, to recap. I believe that the way to get us out of recession is complex, but relies on this: growth, fuelled by investment, funded/underwritten by tax. You don’t revive an ill man by draining off his blood.  As we have a situation in the UK right now that sees the gulf between rich and poor widening, and the power of wealthy establishments increase at the detriment of small businesses, there should be a serious look at the imposition of a Tobin Tax.

We’ll continue by giving it it’s populist and, I suppose, it’s localist nom de plume, The Robin Hood Tax. This levy is easy to impose, is a consistent and unavoidable income flow and is gaining popularity round the world: 11 countries on Europe alone are on the cusp of imposing it. It has such a tiny effect on financial institutions those harbingers of doom – and Toby Perkins MP came across as one of them- yet does so much to the nations coffers it’s hard to believe The City will reject it’s imposition: what better way to show some much needed – post 2008/PPI/LIBOR- contrition?

If Labour don’t run with this, then it’s doomed. If Cameron loses the next election and it’s not in the Labour manifesto, then it’s gone. The Tories will wait until Boris serves his tenure as London Mayor and bring him in as leader: and this is a man whose floppy blonde locks and buffonish nature disguise his virulent right-wing politics, where climate change is no more than a left-field hypothesis and the City is Camelot to the nation’s fortunes. Accuse me of being an alarmist, but I truly feel that we could be slipping speedily towards a Plutocracy: what hope if our only truly electable progressive party refuses to act as a brake to this slide?

You’ll get these arguments played out in the national press over time, especially as manifestos are formed (and the 2015 campaign, despite having the County and Euro elections preceding, is well underway within every local party office right now). Where does this issue sit locally?

Broxtowe’s erstwhile MP Nick Palmer commented on my last post that he was for a Tobin Tax, and was so in 2010. I checked my notes from attending hustings back then, and can confirm this to be true. It was at the Bramcote Hustings; which was possibly the most Tory-friendly of the three events I attended during that campaign. Rather interestingly, at the same event, Soubry confessed to being ignorant of the concept of this levy, which was hardly a fringe issue at the time. She promised, back then, to have a closer look at it: 31 months later and I’d be delighted to hear what side she comes down on.

Palmer’s willingness to support this tax is heartening, of course: as things stand he’s most likely to be our MP in 2015. That’s not partial optimism, it’s simple psephological fact. Soubry’s majority is the tenth most tenuous in the UK, and the swing required (less than a percent) to turn it back to Labour means it’s a simple win: a bit of back-of-an-envelope maths suggest to me that the Conservative party, under present polling data, would need a 15% swing in the polls within 24 months to put the contest into a 50-50 battle. The collapse of the Lib Dem vote nationally is also important here. I frequently hear from Labour activists that the Lib Dem PCC in 2010, David Watts, was disingenuous in the campaign as positing that it was a two-horse race, where he was one half of that future Findus lasagna: initially neck-and-neck with Palmer; post the Gillian Duffy bigot-gate gaffe, Soubry.

I make no apologies for thinking Watts strategy was valid: not admirable, but valid. Who goes into a campaign stating they are destined to lose? If Watts let in Soubry, well, so be it. David Mitchell, PPC for The Green Party, polled around the same votes for the Green Party that defined Soubry’s majority: do we blame him, therefore? Also, it seems very odd now, but Britain was gripped in what now seems a greater hysteria than the Salem Witch Trials, that of Cleggmania. Remember it? I imagine our deputy PM has a home where every surface in his bedroom plastered in that phrase, just to ensure he has some ignition to spark his getting up in the morning. As dull followers of political trends knew it was never to be, but to that first time voter; or to the fair-weather ballot-box attendee it might have seemed that a century of Tory/Labour hegemony could be usurped with  a vote to the yellows. Why shouldn’t have Watts ran a campaign using that as fuel? Labour fans may say that he let in Soubry as a result, but surely Watt’s remit is not to choose which party he loses to. Perhaps it’s worth considering that the overall outcome of the election put his party into power- albeit within coalition for the first time in any registers voters lifetime.

However, it’s not credible to believe that the Lib Dems can fight back from what is becoming a real existential threat electorally to a strong force within 25 months. Yet let’s not dismiss the effect of local popularity, and the Lib Dems have that in spades. I remember watching Watts, defending his position as Bramcote councillor at the 2011 locals, force his face into his hands as his count was totted up. The difference between a raw statitician and a psephologist came into play here: Watts overcame the Lib Dem national decline and held.

Watts is pugilistic when it comes to campaigning: the Lib Dems may have no real hope here, yet they’ll want to make an impression, as well as retain their deposit. Watts is presently the best man for this.

Soubry? I’ve long posited that she’ll look to vacate to Rushcliffe come selection. She has, admirably, got herself front-bench very swiftly, and despite the odd foot in mouth moment, is a bit of a Cameroonian darling: pro-Europe, hated by the 1922 Committee, socially liberal. Would the Tories-assuming the Cameron/Hunt/Gove cabal still keeps control-want to lose her in 2015? Clarke has not hinted at leaving, but he’s out of favour with the party, gaffe-prone and demoted. He is also 72. He’s ripe for the Lords. I still forecast a move across the Trent.

Palmer? Well, if, one postulates from the poll I ran recently then he’s a shoe-in. Yet receiving 70% of an online poll is not science, though maybe a tad indicative. The swing in 2010 to the Tories was much less in Broxtowe than elsewhere, and when you factor in the aforementioned  strong Lib Dem campaign it seems that Palmer’s personal presence saw that his unseating was by the shallowest of margins.

So surely a shoe-in as candidate? When we recently met I asked if he was up for it he gave an emphatic yes. Yet it’s quite possible that the local party may have an all-female list imposed. If this happens, and guessing that Palmer isn’t quite up for the necessary surgery, he is absolutely ruled out. I won’t get into a debate here about the pros and cons of all-female lists, no yet anyhow. But it would be a blow to Labour’s chances to regain the seat.

Their are also stirrings among the more Leftist elements in the party to back a candidate who is seen as less of a New Labour type. Palmer has, over time, moved to the left: his last term as MP saw him stronger against the whip and publicly regretting voting for the war in Iraq. Will this be enough though to prevent a more militant candidate? Watch this space.

Becks To Go: Official / Post in Public Hands / Robin Hood / Robin Hood / Riding Through The Glade.

Becks Bargains

I’m sad to say it’s official: Beck’s Bargains, one of Beeston’s friendliest, cheapest and most unique shops, is to close. They were informed at the weekend and will be shutting up in three/four weeks. I chatted to the staff earlier, and they are pretty upset but resigned to their fate ‘I’m going to put my feet up for a couple of months. I’ve been working since I left school and I’m now a grandmum so I think I deserve a bit of time off’, said the lady I spoke to.

It is a real shame: the staff were lovely, and will be greatly missed. Pop in before they leave, and tell them as much; they’ll really appreciate it.


I attended a meeting at The Nottingham Post yesterday with the (Beeston-based) deputy editor Charles Walker; digital publisher Natalie Fahy and a smattering of other local bloggers/writers. There are great changes afoot at the papers website, and thankfully so. The present model is famously awful, but I always assumed this was to strong-arm you into buying the physical edition. However, it now seems that they have seen the sense in having a strong online presence, especially as they think they can monetarise it. The model will be simpler to navigate, more user-friendly, and crucially: featuring more content from bloggers. This means the Post will no longer be under one editorial yoke, but have a greater plurality in content. There are moderators, but I asked a few questions on what could get through and it seems that it’s pretty much hands-off. So, very soon I’ll be posting/ mirroring content there and piggy-backing their presence to get Beestonia out to a wider audience. I thus will be needing some quality content, so I need YOU to send me ideas and content that I will post up under the Beestonia brand. I’ll still be writing here, and won’t be changing anything stylistically, merely using the Post to get a wider audience.


Of course, saying that, I still intend to take them over in 2016 when The Beestonian really hits its stride.



Thursday was odd. As I’m officially unemployed, I have to attend various state-sponsored events to help me get back into employment. However, as I’m presently setting up a small- business, I get sent to different ones with the focus on those who wish to be their own boss, and so it was on Thursday afternoon. An hour of fairly straightforward tips were given by the woman running it, followed by questioning us about how we intended to give flesh to our ideas. She reaches me:

‘So, Matt, what is the next step you’ll take to get your small-business up and running?’

‘Well, in an hour I’m off down the road to meet the Shadow Minister for Small Business, Toby Perkins MP’

Which sort of was taken as a generally positive step. So off I trotted, down Chilwell Road to The Other Space (not been there yet? It’s great). Toby Perkins MP, the aforementioned shadow, was there with erstwhile (future? I’ll be writing about that tomorrow) MP Nick Palmer, hosting an event for small businesses in Beeston to see what the opposition would change/retain should they seize power in 2015. A good debate ensued, with Toby holding some good ideas, if not necessarily much different than the incumbent government, until a question was asked about a move towards local banking, micro-financing and credit unions.

He was generally enthusiastic about this, yet didn’t explain how this would be funded, rather optimistically thinking they would be self-sufficient. I am sceptical about this, and asked if it might be a much better idea if these more localised institutions would have a greater competitive edge if they were underwritten by a fund that was paid for by a Tobin Tax. What’s that then? Well, it’s also called a Robin Hood Tax and is  0.05% levied on all financial transactions. For more details, this is a very helpful resource: . I was under the assumption that Labour would find this is a policy that is well worth looking at, and making a manifesto commitment as such.

It seems that’s not the case. Toby dismissed it vehemently, giving the reason that London’s financial institutions would be ‘driven away’. That’s a worrying thing to say, for a variety of reasons. First, there is no evidence that taxes like this do have any effect on big banks: this is the result of a detailed study by the IMF, not some pointed, agenda-driven leftish group. We already have some of the most liberalised laws concerning finance in this country, the City being a virtual tax-haven just as much as the Caymans or Switzerland. The economic value of the City is also questionable: many figures are bandied about but I do not believe it’s anything like the 20%- Toby quoted. There are even arguments that they actually have a net loss on the country, due to off-shoring their bonuses and profits, and creating a very insecure foundation to base spending on. As we’ve seen over the last five years,  a sizable amount of the activities in the City are no more than smoke and mirrors: mere manipulation of figures rather than a tangible product.

Eleven countries in the EU have already committed to bringing in a Tobin Tax: these include France, Spain, Germany and Italy: this thus would not be a unilateral move. I argued this point and Toby pointed out that the City may not decamp to Frankfurt, but further. Again, this is scare-mongering bunkum. The Obama administration are looking into the levy imposed on Wall Street: if we were to show commitment to it, then the US would have fewer reasons to demur.

There is a difference between small businesses and large businesses right now. There is a unlevel playing field. Firms like Starbucks, Google, Amazon, TopShop -even our own local Boots- can afford to avoid taxes in this country by finding loopholes that small businesses cannot. This creates a hole in the economy, that must be filled by smaller firms, or, as we are seeing now, swingeing cuts to services and benefits. Boots head office used to be in the Rylands. Now it’s a Post Office Box in Switzerland. Such things are unfair.

If the Opposition is serious about their plan to develop growth from grassroots methods, then they need to stop being so in awe of the big financial institutions and large businesses. They should show courage in tackling the massively inflated salaries and bonuses of those who drove us into the financial crisis, and stop falling into a supine stupor every time some cretin in a pinstripe threatens to pack his Luis Vuitton at the mere mention of narrowing the cavernous maw between rich and poor.  I was disappointed that the Shadow Minister is still holding to a pre-2008 mindset; and worried that if they don’t start to listen to the public and stand up to those who have given a free rein to take the piss for so long, Labour can forget about returning to power in 2015.



Segueing nicely, I met Tim Pollard, aka Nottingham’s Official Robin Hood, last week, and had a good chat where I discussed my plans for an article for The Beestonian (he lives round here). He’s  a great guy and I’ve got an utterly inspired idea to run a feature about him soon: I’ll keep you informed.


And for the sake of making the headline to this article to work:


Soubs Salute/ The Back of Beck? / Guest Post by Rish Baruah.

Loads of stuff to cram into a post tomorrow, dealing with what looks like a new future for the media in Nottingham: you’ll have to wait for that though.  I also have a bit of news about when I met the Shadow Minister for Small Business (and our erstwhile MP, Dr Palmer)  last week, and got into a bit of an argument. However, a few quick things to run through before I hand over to a guest contributor, Rish Baruah.


So I’ll confuse usual readers instantly by giving Soubry a round of applause. Yep. Credit where it’s due, she’s pledged to vote in favour of same-sex marriages this week: it’s rumoured that some marginal Tories will vote against, or simply abstain, but Anna has been pleasingly bullish and pledged to vote. So well done, Anna. There, I said it.


News reaches me that, hot on the heels of the closure of Hoggs butcher, Beck’s Bargains is to shut very soon. I best state this is not as yet verified as I only heard after it had closed for the day, but it seems the staff were given no notice, but successfully protested their rights and were as such granted a stay of execution. I’m sad it’s going: where else can you pick up five – yes FIVE- Crunchies for a quid?? It’s about as far from Waitrose as it’s possible to get, but that is not a complaint. Friendly staff, super cheap food, recycled plastic bags. Boo to the owner, i say. What a loser…

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Right, over to Rish, (who is more famous for being the brains behind Forest blog,  and the former assistant editor of The Beestonian. Usual disclaimer, the views of hosted pieces do not necessarily reflect my own views, etc.

Be careful what you wish for 


If ever a constituency was a microcosm of the country as a whole, it is surely Broxtowe. A wafer-thin majority, whereby the Tory candidate won the balance of power by the Lib Dems splitting the opposition vote; a diverse constituency featuring some affluent areas, and some areas which are downright struggling; a demographic featuring young single mothers, council tenants, private renters, middle-class families, and a number of elderly residents.

Despite having roots a couple of miles down the road, I have always had an affinity for Beeston; it just always seemed to have more personality and community spirit than the part of Wollaton in which I grew up. I have lived in Beeston for eight years now, and although interested in politics would not describe myself as an activist or an advocate of direct action; more someone who occasionally expresses concern for the world in which I live.

I am probably preaching to the converted here, but Nick Palmer was always a delight on the occasions on which I have sought his counsel; prompt to respond, willing to explain his reasons if he disagreed, and also willing to admit when he made mistakes. Of course, he is a politician, so I don’t kid myself that he is entirely altruistic – I suspect that his Hustings confession that it was a mistake to support the war in Iraq was at least partly politically motivated.

Anna Soubry is a very different animal, and that in itself is not a bad thing, until you consider some constituents’ experiences:

  • Slow to respond to correspondence, and in many cases, not responding at all
  • Very eager to speak up for the needs of the constituency, even though many of the residents of Broxtowe won’t even recognise the concerns
  • Misrepresenting* issues, such as her comment in Parliament about the postal workers (as reported by Matt at the time)

Now, in her role as Public Health Minister, she has stoked quite a fire, which has been well-reported and much-debated elsewhere (including this wry piece of satire), and her appearance on last week’s Question Time was actually quite intriguing; who would have thought the Member of Parliament for Broxtowe would get jeered by an audience in Weymouth? If you are anti-Soubry, you would not have needed to deconstruct her performance as she did herself few favours.

Of course, it would seem as though Anna Soubry is being prepared for great things by the Conservative Party; her rapid elevation to Junior Minister suggests that. However, what use is that when she is in real danger of losing her seat at the next election? The cynic would suggest that any publicity is good publicity, at least in the eyes of the party mandarins.

I asked my fellow Broxtowe-dwelling colleagues what they thought of her (admittedly a self-selecting sample, if you consider where I work). A Kimberley dweller said that she was doorstepped for over twenty minutes by Anna Soubry while canvassing for the 2010 Election, and Anna just would not take no for an answer. My colleague hasn’t seen her in Kimberley since then.

“So what?” I hear you cry, “that is just what politicians are like in this day and age. That is why turnout is falling; we don’t really have much of a choice.”

This, dear reader, is why I am going to finish where I started; Broxtowe is a microcosm of the country. A wafer-thin margin keeps the ruling elite clinging on. The difference is that Nick Palmer and Anna Soubry are very different creatures, and now we can judge each of them on their track records as the Member of Parliament for Broxtowe. As constituents, we do have a real choice to make, and your vote at the next election will make a real difference.




* I use the word “misrepresenting” advisedly