flotation device

First, an intro to the introduction.

Rather than bang out another version of Tap’s origin story, I thought I’d just use the introduction I wrote for Karl French’s book about the band and its place in the universe.

Some pictures I know you haven’t seen. I have more lurking somewhere in this house. When I find them, you’ll be the first to know.



(From Spinal Tap: The Official Companion)

When I am called upon to write about the mostly fictional entity called Spinal Tap, I usually do so in the mostly fictional character of David St Hubbins, long-time guitarist/clothes-horse for said group. David can knock the piece off at one sitting, email it to his manager, and be back in bed by 10am.

But the one thing David St. Hubbins can’t do for us is talk about a movie called This is Spinal Tap. None of the band can…

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Trust ‘Britain’ with our Human Rights?

Butterfly Rebellion

After World War II and the horrors of the holocaust a brief window of opportunity opened for the international community to discuss and concretise by declaration the fundamental rights and freedoms of human beings, not the rights of mere citizens but the rights afforded to all people by virtue of our common and shared humanity. Eleanor Roosevelt, who represented the United States on the drafting committee of the United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, rightly foresaw that the Declaration would have the same effect on the whole world that the US Declaration of Independence had on American society. No other written document in the history of human civilisation has so profoundly shaped how we see ourselves as people with inherent and inalienable rights, freedoms, and dignity.

Sadly, it is fair to suggest, that with the normalisation of international governmentality through the Cold War and the post-Cold War…

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I have drafted a section on housing and homelessness for this week’s Queen’s Speech

Andy Winter's Blog

queens-speech-ncrjThis week the Queen will read Her Majesty’s Most Gracious Speech, sometimes referred to as the Gracious Address, or, less formally, the Queen’s Speech. It has, of course, nothing to do with the Queen herself.  She is merely the messenger.  The speech is written by the government of the day, and sets out its legislative programme for the next session of parliament.

Rather than reading the Prime Minister’s speech this year, I have drafted a section on housing and homelessness which I humbly beseech Her Majesty substitutes for the message prepared by the Prime Minister. This is what I hope to hear on 18th May:

“My Government believes that homelessness is an abomination in this day and age, particularly in the sixth richest economy in the world. Councils will be resourced to build the homes needed to house current and future generations.

“My Government will bring forward legislation abolishing the…

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Labour’s anti-Semitism row is more about toxic factionalism than hatred of jews.

Iain Macwhirter

LABOUR’S anti-Semitism row is like something out of the satirical BBC comedy, The Thick Of It. Only the scriptwriters who dreamed up the Labour spin doctor, Malcolm Tucker, would have thought it too far-fetched. The former London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, was filmed last week seeking refuge from the press in a disabled toilet in the foyer the BBC’s Millbank studios, after being accused by another Labour MP of being a “Nazi apologist” for suggesting that Hitler supported Zionism. It was beyond satire.

It was also the most damaging prelude to an important election week for Labour. Candidates and activists pounding the streets this weekend must be furious. Labour’s Kezia Dugdale was one of the first to criticise Ken Livingstone, but there are bound to be consequences for Scottish Labour. The press is filled with Labour MPs accusing each other of being racists and bigots. At the very least, it looks…

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Domestic violence and benefit cuts – a note for Mr Crabb

Sentinel News

Stephen CrabbBy Chaminda Jayanetti

Politicians like to talk about their “backstory”. It makes them seem normal, relatable, or so they hope. Even if their background is hopelessly out of touch from that of most people, there will usually be some difficulty, or tragedy, or hardship – real or perceived – that can be front-paged to hide the privilege beneath. Even a grammar school education can be rebranded as “state”.

With Stephen Crabb, the recently installed Work and Pensions Secretary, it’s not so much of an act. He grew up in council housing. He went to state school, and both his parents received benefits at various points. So far, so normal.

Another aspect of his childhood that Mr Crabb has openly talked about is the domestic violence his mother suffered at the hands of his father. He has discussed it in media interviews. He has talked about the effect it had on…

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