The End of Politics. Tarah, politics.

It’s an odd thing, this blogging stuff. I’ve been doing it for about 5 and a half years now, and it’s certainly grown. It’s also led to a ton of other stuff, which have changed my life in ways unimaginable when I first asked WordPress for some space to type my thoughts into.

One unexpected thing that has grown is my writing on politics. I’ve always had a hazy interest in politics: not parties, but policy. I’m more interested in the structures of power, the complex web rather than the tangled flies that stray into it. I began writing about it as part of my general logging on living in Beeston: we have one of the most complex systems here, and our plurality is incredible. Expand out to Broxtowe and this continues, creating one of the most interesting battlegrounds imaginable. In 2015, expect the metropolitan media to stream up here to try and make sense of it all.

Despite this, it’s become increasingly difficult to write about. This blog never had any intent, other than a love of my town and a compulsive urge to write. Writing is essential for me: my mind is in a constant mess of words and narratives; arguments and conflicts; metaphor manipulation and analogy refining, anecdotes and arguments in a constant state of polish. Writing helps by herding some of these thoughts and imprisoning them in print: straining some sense out of chaos.

Yet politics is starting to ruin that. I wanted to this blog to be free to roam as far as my mind wanders, blabbing about anything that briefly engulfs my interest.I’m lucky enough to have my own magazine and a column in The Nottingham Post to absorb some prattle, but this blog is becoming increasingly difficult to write on.

The problem is manifold. First, the fluidity of the scene here. Cursed are those that live in interesting times, for sure. Local councillors, our MP, the upcoming election, trouble in Kimberley, odd allegiances: I could churn out thousands of words a day if required, and if I had the time. I don’t have the time. Writing is only ten percent typing, if that. Most of the process is reading, talking, thinking, sitting staring into space and pondering in the bath. I write my Post article by taking a subject for a walk for a week: I’ll walk round Beeston or the Nature Reserve shaping the sentences and refining the angle before I brew some tea and bang it onto a Word document.

With politics, this is difficult. The chaos is hard to pin down, and it’s frustrating to finish a piece and have another twist drop into my inbox. It’s also stopping me talking about the positive stuff happening round here; the blossoming of Beeston businesses and events; Oxjam’s imminent arrival; the wonderfully productive work being done by Beeston Continuum to ensure we are not at the mercy of soulless developers again. Stuff that matters, that brightens this place, that gets pushed out by the awfulness of some of our local politicos.

I’ve also taken on a new job helping with Nottingham’s bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature, a hugely exciting project that will cement our city/ county’s reputation as a place of incredible writing, both in the past and right now: and of course, into the future.

The solution? I’m ridding this blog of politics. No more stories of Soubz, no more attempts to get straight answers from politicians, and no more leaving this blog open to depressing accusations of being a Labour mouthpiece (it’s weird how the only people who accuse me of being a Labour stooge, rather than having a healthy interest in politics and a desire to hold those in power to account, as befits a decent democracy, are politicians. For the record, I’ve never joined a political party, I vote on the evidence, not out of tribalism, and have never censored a contradictory comment on here: something other blogs -listen up, Broxtowe Blue – do as a matter of course.

Instead, I’m going to post anything predominatly political on a blog I’ve used in the past as an overflow, which you can find here. Theres a few articles on there, including a freshly written piece, and while mainly featuring local politics, will discourse on occasion to wider political issues: i’ve been fascinated by the recent referendum in Scotland for example: as I’m a technical Scot I was, for a few odd hours, of indeterminate nationality; like Shroedinger’s Cat I was both Scottish and British until the ballot box was opened and the wave form collapsed.

I’d also like YOU to help me. I want to host some articles not written by me; but by people like you. I don’t care what political stripe you are (though nothing from the BNP: I find reading crayon scrawled on the back of a Daily Mail hard to read), send something in. Not just a screed on your opinion on a subject, the likes of which could be read anywhere: it would be great to get some decent journalism, researched and thought about, one that challenges, rather than confirms, opinion. Let me know what you think.

Phew. I feel a great weight has been lifted. Viva Beestonia, viva Beeston.


I wasn’t intending to write up again on Kimberley, as when I last checked this blog was about Beeston, and the last thing I need now is blogging mission creep. Yet the fall out from my story earlier this week has shown why this is not just a story restricted to our neighbours in NG16.

Andy Cooper issued a full apology for his offensive remark, this was accepted by Kat Boettger though she still called for his resignaion and a by-election. Soubry persists in calling for his resignation, despite not addressing the points I made, namely:

1. Is it not hypocritical for Soubry to call for Cooper’s resignation when she employed Craig Cox, a man who thinks it’s amusing and totally ok to hold up a sign at a meeting demanding ‘BRING BACK SLAVERY’?
2. Does she not think it unwise, and will she make a public apology as such for taking a known thuggish facist, Darren Warner, to meet Nick Boles, despite being warned about his awfulness?
3. Is this desperate electioneering, kneejerk-shout the loudest gung-ho utterly depressing vote-grabbing in action?

While over on excellent local news-site Bramcote Today, Beeston North Councillor Steve Carr has been demanding Cooper step down, his fellow Lib Dems have expressed to myself and others that they don’t believe Cooper is a racist, and this is electioneering. This also echoes people who left KTC, one even expressing embaressment at Soubry’s intervention.

One Beeeston resident got in touch with me after reading the blog: an ardent anti-racist campaigner and no fan of the Labour Party wrote to her questioning her language. I am going to print this exchange in full, with Mr Swift’s permission, as an example of Soubzlogic: the binary mindset that refuses to brook any argument but their own, a terrifying hubristic logic that is immensely damaging to free political discourse:

Dear Anna,

What is really shameful is playing the racist card when comments may certainly be rude and inappropriate but can possibly only be construed as racist at the extreme ends of political correctness. There is plenty enough everyday racism going on that needs tackling head on without making up more for party political purposes.
Paul Swift

Dear Paul,

Thank you for your email. I will share your comments with Katharina Boettge who quite rightly in my view takes a very different view. I would be interested on her comments. I wonder if your view would be any different if a Lib Dem councillor called someone of Pakistani origin a P***i ? It doesn’t matter what label you attribute to the comment, nor the political party of the author as far as I am concerned. However, it seems in Broxtowe all that matters is whether the person in the wrong is a member of the Labour Party.

Dear Anna,

I was writing to you as my MP based on the contents of your newsletter. Not sure that I would expect my personal comments to be shared with others. If you do pass on to Katharina Boettge, who I do not know, then please also pass on that I am not a member of the Labour Party. Based on my increasing despair of the main political parties I am currently most likely to vote Green at the election.As a life long anti-racist campaigner I am concerned about the accusation of racism being made inappropriately as I think that it undermines the use of the word, particularly given the current trajectory of UKIP. The following is the Oxford Dictionary definition:

The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races:

Are you making the case that a Kimberly Councillor is racist towards people of Germanic origin? If so I think that further evidence is required. I would certainly not defend him based on what political colour he is as I am well aware that racism can cross party boundaries. However, one rude and offensive comment for which he has unreservedly apologised does not make him a racist,  With regard to your example referring to people of Pakistani origin then I would generally regard the use of that word as racist. However,  if someone was to say that a Pakistani political opponent reminded them of General Musharraf then I wouldn’t jump to accusations of racism.

Whilst I would never be a political supporter of yours I have subscribed to your newsletter for useful local news whilst respecting some of your political positions, e.g. over same sex marriage. Pleasingly the contents have retained some political balance rather than being a partizan party bulletin.  I hope that this continues to be the case in the run up to the election next May.

Paul Swift

As yet, no reply.

Further investigations into the former head of KRA (swiftly replaced by Tory Shane Easom last month) Darren Warner turn up more unedifying details. I’ve talked to several people who contacted me from Kimberley and the surrounding areas, painting a pretty awful picture of a pretty awful man. I have promised to protect these sources as he is a pretty terrifying character, not a person you want to cross due to his history of violence against those who oppose him, and the way he uses community projects such as SOBS (Save Our Brewery Site) to gain a foothold for his vile politics into local groups; a comon tactic used by fascist organisations the world over.

I have two sources tellign me Soubry WAS warned against this guy before she took him to a meeting with Nick Boles MP, possibly even by a senior member of her own party. Yet she ignored them, and continued to trumpet Warner’s achievements in her newsletter.

Thus, I would like to publicly announce that I wish Anna Soubry not to resign over this matter, but to make a full apology for this lack of judgement. I would also like the KRA to explan their association with Warner. I will stress again that the greens who left KTC are NOT aligned with KRA and refuse to work with Warner. A principled stand: will Soubry and the KRA also join in condemning this vile racist in their midst?


I’v been asked for an update several times about my legal travails with Soubry’s partner, Neil Davidson. Nothing really seems to have happened, despite the threats I’d be hauled into court asap if I didn’t obey their demands and pay costs to Davidson. I even rang up BrowneJacobson over a week ago asking what was happening; to be told that the guy dealing with the case was on holiday and would ring me on his return the following week. That week has now passed, so I’m still none the wiser. Was it just a bit of muscle-flexing blustery bollocks? I have the letter framed and ready for my toilet wall, but can’t hang it until I’m sure I won’t need to take it down again to check. Neil Davidson, BrowneJacobson, are you still suing me? Cheers, Matt.

The Real Racists of Kimberley?

‘It’s all kicking off in Kimberley’ sounds like a mildly amusing piss-take about the sleepiness of our Northern neighbours. Surely, compared to the bustle of Beeston, the other end of Broxtowe snoozes in pastoral peace?

Well, no. Right now it’s a hotbed of political fighting, with some very odd stuff cracking off. Soubz has alluded to a few things happening up there, namely the way Kimberley Town Council ( KTC) acts. The council recently had members leave in anger at the way it was ran, and issues over transparency. Chief amongst the council’s critics is Kimberley Resident’s Association (KRA).

Yesterday, the Nottingham Post lead story focussed on a bit of dirt that had seeped out. Cllr Andy Cooper, Labour, who also represents at the Borough level, was accused of racism by Soubry after referring to ex KTC member and present KRA member, Green Party member Kat Boettge as ‘Eva Braun’. The email was leaked, Soubry instantly demanded his head for being a ‘racist’ and hell broke loose.

The Nottingham Post editorial that accompanied the article ditched sensationalism for a sober, considered take on the subject, pointing out Soubry’s choice of words ‘racist’ was semantically incorrect, ‘xenophobic’ was more appropriate. Racist is much more loaded. Racist is where one holds a sign up at a meeting demanding ‘BRING BACK SLAVERY’. When former Cllr Craig Cox did this, Soubry punished him by, errr, employing him in her constituency office, until the press got wind.

I don’t think Soubry is a racist, of course, despite this error of judgement. I also don’t think she’s homophobic for her remarks about inserting fingers in arses. . I also don’t think Andy Cooper is a racist, and don’t believe he should resign: apologise, by all means (as he has done), but as with Soubry and her errors of judgement, resigning isn’t appropriate.

I have met Andy on occasion, I freely admit, and I have always found him a very nice man: a bluff South Yorkshireman, a fan of ale and football, as far from the polished slickness of modern politicians as you could possibly get. Definitely not a racist, or a xenophobe (he’s a staunch fan of the EU). He is a politician of conscience, voting against the Labour whip at times. I do however think he did something idiotic and it was right for an apology to be demanded, and right for Cooper to issue one.

But what actually led to this bitterness over at Kimberley? Soubz has been keen to suggest a wide-reaching Labour-led scandal several times recently, and a little bit of poking around has led to curious reading. Battles are been fought on many fronts: the former brewery site; plans for housing; the prospect of getting the tram. At a recent meeting, police had to be called after KRA refused to leave at a point of commercial sensitivity (this is not unknown in councils, I attended a meeting on Tuesday at Beeston Town Hall where we had to leave the chamber when a similar issue arose).

Before the controlling Labour group took control in 2011, KTC was, according to sources at the time ‘a dysfunctional mess…a council ran for around 20 years with little governance, no relationships with key-stakeholders, projects shelved and ignored.’

There have also been accusations of ‘corruption’ on the council, notably in Boettger’s resignation letter. While these have been withdrawn, Boettger has explained she was referring to a ‘corrupt system’, rather than individual acts of corruption. Various figures on the amount of money KTC holds have been thrown about, with the council pointing out they hold a rather large surplus while being attacked for ‘draining the coffers’. Bizarre accusations.

The reasons Soubry is attacking Kimberley with such vigour? Votes. The recent Ashcroft polling shows she is 9 points adrift of Nick Palmer in Broxtowe, a seemingly impossible figure to claw back. Beeston has very little love for her, so she has turned her back on the area and focussed on the North, in an attempt to claw back swathes of swing voters in marginal areas. It’s a desperate strategy, and one that feels able to sling all sorts of half-truths about.

An interesting figure emerges through the whole story, a guy called Darren Warner. Until recently he was head of KRA, and an active campaigner. He became someone Soubry could do business with, and there are mentions of him in Soubry’s newsletters. She even took him to a meeting with Housing Minister Nick Boles, where they discussed development in Kimberley. An upstanding member of the community, running a grassroots community group, yes?

Or a man with some notable dodgy right-wing views and possible fascist sympathies?

Warner was revealed to be a member of the BNP in one of the recent membership leakings, and appears to be good friends with rabid right wingers ‘Nottingham Patriots’. I’m not linking to their site for your own safety, but feel free to check themselves out yourself. It’s the usual swivel-eyed hate site, paranoid and delusional at a supposed cabal of socialists and Islamists running the country. Sources who know Warner have told me that his connection with these groups is more than just on polite nodding terms.

Concerns about Warner’s past, including convictions for violent crimes, were put to Soubry by members of KTC. Her response was ‘I’ll see who I want’. Politics makes strange bedfellows, for sure, but it seems Soubry was perfectly happy to do business with a fellow who see knew had not just awful history, but an awful present.

Here is what looks like a full blown racist, working directly with Tories and being invited to meetings with Government ministers. Perhaps Soubry and members of KRA should be careful with who they work with in future. Green David Kirwan has told me he has made it clear he will not work with Warner, will Soubry also make this clear?

Interestingly, has there been some back pedalling going on here? If you use google to search for ‘Darren Warner + Anna Soubry you’ll find this:

Some results may have been removed under data protection law in Europe. Learn more..

Has someone swiftly invoked the recent ‘right to be forgotten’ legislation? EDIT: Apparently it pops up whenever you search for a name. My techphobic error

Apologies for covering an area outside my usual patch, back to Beeston in future. Kimberley types, please feel free to debate in the comments. This is a desperately complex tale, so if you spot any errors / wish to offer up any salient points, please do so.