From The Times
July 29, 2009
Dan Clark: a likeable type
How Not to Live Your Life leapt from YouTube to the BBC. Now we ask if its star, Dan Clark, is the new Rik Mayall
Mass march over Climsland House
Thursday, 30 July 2009
Frank Clarke, right, with residents John Green and Sue Cinik, holding fallen concrete
By Nadia Gilani
TENANTS plan to organise a mass march over a lack of repairs to their properties.
Residents of Climsland House, a block of 20 flats in Duchy Street, Waterloo, say Labour-run Lambeth council’s housing firm Lambeth Living has ignored the building for too long.
Frank Clarke, acting chairman of its residents’ association, said: “This place has been neglected for about 10 years.
"The council has done nothing properly. We’ve had bad workmanship. There’s crumbling concrete falling down the stairs.
"It’s a dangerous building to live in.”
He said the block was so fragile that a neighbour who shut his door after returning home this month heard a lump of concrete crash down from the roof.
He said: “There’s bits of masonry falling from everywhere.
"The roof is like a sieve. It’s been leaking for years and got worse and lead to damp in all of our flats.”
This is not the first time that Lambeth residents are threatening direct action against their local authority landlords.
Last Tuesday, the South London Press reported how leaseholders were plotting a mass non-payment campaign over heating and hot water charges that have been increased by an average of 70 per cent.
In May, tenants marched to the town hall in protest over rent rises.
Frank is liaising with other residents’ groups in Waterloo and Kennington that are also angry and want to take a stand against the council.
He said: “We’re planning a march to the housing office.
Lambeth Living said some repairs to the property had been carried out last week.
A spokeswoman said: “Officers will continue to make further safety checks because of residents’ concerns.
"All windows in the block have been renewed in the last 10 years.
"A report on the external structure is being prepared and should be completed early next month.
“If the report shows the need for urgent action, further work on the block will then be prioritised.”
Eleven years ago, at the age of 17, Will Straw found himself being marched to Kennington police station by his father.
Home Secretary Jack Straw turned in his son, a pupil at Pimlico School, for allegedly selling cannabis to an undercover reporter. Will was cautioned by police and his father said he had learned a tough lesson.
After gaining a 2.1 in philosophy, politics and economics, he worked in the Treasury from 2003-07 before heading across the
With a Fulbright Scholarship, he gained a masters in economic policy management at
While in America, he remained a governor at
Seen as a future Labour star, he is committed to the school where pupils have about 40 first languages and a high proportion come from deprived backgrounds.
Tristram Hunt looks at the struggle for liberty in Britain
As the cavalry of the Manchester and Cheshire Yeomanry sheathed their sabres and wiped down their sweating horses, St Peter's Fields echoed to the groans of the near 700 wounded and dying. "The sun looked down through a sultry and motionless air," recalled Samuel Bamford, "over the whole field, were strewed caps, bonnets, hats, shawls, and shoes, and other parts of male and female dress; trampled torn and bloody ... All was silent save those low sounds, and the occasional snorting and pawing of steeds."
Today, in Manchester, plans are afoot to commemorate the 1819 "Peterloo massacre" of reformers and democrats with a sculpture outside the GMEX Conference Centre (to replace the existing demure blue plaque). At the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Putney, thanks to the Guardian's 2006 competition to celebrate Britain's radical heritage, a new interpretation centre now explains the significance of the 1647 Putney debates. In King's Cross, the British Library has recently hosted an exhibition by Linda Colley on the history of liberty, while Lewes in East Sussex is this year almost entirely given over to championing the life of Thomas Paine. Something is in the air when it comes to Britain's radical past, and now we have Edward Vallance's interesting primer to help guide us through.
Vallance's admirable ambition is to abandon the left's traditional predilection for narratives of glorious failure. Instead, he wants to explore how progressive movements have succeeded and does so both by examining British radicalism in its specific historical contexts and by "evaluating the enduring power of the idea of a 'radical tradition'", reinvented for each succeeding age. From the outset he is rightly alive to the tensions between English and British strands of radicalism. Nowhere more so than in the Magna Carta, "the greatest constitutional document of all times - the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot," in Lord Denning's words (a man well versed in the power of arbitrary authority). But as Vallance points out, this historic charter so beloved of Tony Benn was "a document forged as England stood on the brink of civil war; after a mere ten weeks, it was a political dead letter". What is more, the document which defenders of English (and then British) liberties cited from the 13th century onwards as defending legal due process and equality before the law was the 1225 version sealed by Henry III, not by wicked King John on the fields of Runnymede in 1215. And even that charter, as the passage of the Counter-Terrorism Act has most recently revealed, has never proved very effective at countering the will of princes or parliaments.
Indeed, it was King Charles I's arbitrary abrogation of power in the 1630s which first saw a sustained revival in Magna Carta studies led by the jurist Sir Edward Coke. And Vallance - as a historian of the 1688 glorious revolution - is at his sharpest in the 17th century. These chapters, following a quick canter through the peasants' revolt and Kett's rebellion, constitute the intellectual hub of the book as Vallance picks through the political thought of Britain's most philosophically fertile era. With a confident, scholarly touch, he reaffirms the significance of Leveller radicalism in the English revolution and the centripetal role of the Putney debates. In the Leveller pamphlet "Agreement of the People", he suggests, "the notion of inalienable, natural rights was, for the first time, being publicly recognised". And whether it is Lilburne, Overton or even Gerard Winstanley and the Diggers, Vallance impressively explores the vital interstices between their political and religious radicalism.
On into the 18th century and Vallance is equally interesting on the radical genesis of Paine and the political legacy of Mary Wollstonecraft. One of the great strengths of this book is a consistent and insightful treatment of female radicalism both in terms of women's involvement in radical politics and the broader battle for gender equality, concluding with suffrage.
But by the time we reach the Chartists and the 19th century, Vallance's footing is less sure. There are no clangers and the set pieces - the Tolpuddle martyrs, the Newport rising, the 1848 rally on Kennington Common - are done well enough, but with an almost total reliance upon secondary sources the book begins to take the tone of a well-trod chronicle. In contrast to his confident investigation of 17th-century political thought, no such light is shed upon Owenite, Chartist or Labour radicalism - or, indeed, counternarratives of liberal and Tory radicalism. Instead, we have a steady procession of names and events which then seeps into the 1900s with a highly perfunctory chapter covering the entire century - the Attlee administration being dispatched in a few crisp sentences. The exception to this is a highly sympathetic, even panegyric, investigation of the Pankhurst clan and their place in the struggle for the vote.
Perhaps most startling though is the parochialism of the study. Even amid the civil war (which formed part of a pan-European phenomenon), British radicalism often displayed a markedly internationalist sensibility. There is no mention of the abolitionist campaign or the anti-apartheid movement, nor British influence in the formation of the Pan-African Conference, the Indian National Congress and the broader anti-colonial agenda.
More debilitating is the tell-tale sign of academic infection. In contrast to the great radical accounts of British history by Christopher Hill and EP Thompson, there is an off-putting tendency here to luxuriate in self-conscious discussions of historiography and genealogies at the expense of the history itself. Vallance's laudable ambition was for this chronicle of "the men and women who fought for our freedoms" to inspire us to rise like Shelley's "lions after slumber" and continue the struggle. But the prose rarely matches the urgency of the subject matter, and rather than taking to the streets, one wants to retreat to the seminar room.
• Tristram Hunt's biography of Friedrich Engels is published by Penguin.
|Published on: 21/07/2009|
A corner of South London is this weekend celebrating the 175th anniversary of one of the least known, but perhaps most colourful, chapters in the history of the capital. In 1834 arguably the greatest attraction in the country at the time was formally opened in Walworth, in the shape of a 15 acre exotic zoo.
It housed not only elephants, rhinoceroses and leopards but also the first giraffes ever seen in the UK. As well as the zoo, the Royal Surrey Zoological Gardens also hosted spectacular shows that incorporated large scale scenes of historical events, such as the eruption of Vesuvius or the Siege of Sebastopol. These were popular shows of the day using specially constructed sets and special effects such as fireworks, or burning ships which were part of naval battle re-enactments. One recreation of the city of Rome covered 5 acres.
The venue was so popular that it once drew crowds of up to eight thousand visitors a day and over 500,000 people came to see one spectacular during its first 100 days. Its music hall could hold over 12,000 people and put on concerts of up to 1000 performers.
However, by the late 1840’s the popularity of the zoo was beginning to fade, and the animals were sold off, the music hall was destroyed by a fire, and the park was finally closed in 1877.
Judy Aitken, Heritage Operations and Collections Manager at Southwark Council, said
"Walworth isn't exactly the first place that springs to mind when you mention exotic animals, but that's precisely what it was during the heyday of Surrey Gardens. This borough was once home to something that rivalled anything else in the country at the time."
Councillor Lewis Robinson, executive member for culture, leisure and sport at Southwark Council said
“It’s quite amazing to think that this part of Southwark once held some of the first wild and exotic animals to be seen in England. Not only that but it was also the site of some spectacular shows. We’ll be honouring that Victorian spirit this weekend when we put on a series of events to mark the 175th anniversary of the zoo.”
Southwark Councillor Caroline Pidgeon was instrumental in getting this piece of local history honoured in this way. She added
"It is fantastic that the whole community will be coming together this Saturday to celebrate the historic Surrey Zoological Gardens, where giraffes first roamed in England! I am delighted that through artwork and history boards in the park, the great history of this area will continue to be shared for future residents of West Walworth."
Investigation ... Alison Minards
By NEIL SYSON
and PHIL CASE
Alison Minards, 19, snapped on a four-hour shopping spree, faces a quiz from senior officers over claims that a girl had sex with FOUR cops in a pub toilet at a leaving do.
She has been a civilian detention officer at Kennington nick in South London for just four months.
But Alison has been off sick since the probe was launched into the antics of around 30 drunken Met Police staff at the nearby Pineapple pub.
The Sun reported claims of how a WPC in her 20s performed a sex act on her PC lover in the packed bar.
Four colleagues then allegedly went to the loos for a sordid romp.
Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson is said to be "appalled by the disturbing incident".
Other high-ranking officials fear mobile phone footage of the free-for-all could tarnish the force.
Sniffling into a hankie on the doorstep of her parents' home in Streatham, South London, Alison initially denied she was employed by police.
She shrugged and said "not me" when the allegations were put to her, but admitted to being off with flu.
On Wednesday she drove with her mum to shop in Croydon until 7pm.
Returning to her car, she referred The Sun to Scotland Yard.
The Yard's Directorate of Professional Standards has been unable to quiz her as she is off ill.
All seven said to be involved face accusations of disrepute and may be forced to resign.
The 29-year-old officer allegedly pleasured in the pub says on a social website that he has bought a house with his girlfriend.
He adds: "All going good, driving fast police cars, chasing people and fighting people. Perfect job!!!"
Staff at The Pineapple refused to comment.
Locals claim police who drank there were "a law unto themselves".
One man said: "We had a peep through the window. It was like something out of a film."
Scotland Yard said: "Firm action will be taken if it is proved standards have not been met."
First the pretty constable in her late 20s performed a sex act on her cop boyfriend in a packed bar.
Baying cops were said to have filmed it on mobiles.
Then a 19-year-old civilian took four boys in blue in their 30s to the boozer's loo for a marathon sex session.
An internal investigation has been launched into the incident at the Pineapple pub in Vauxhall, South London. All seven, who were off-duty, are accused of bringing the Metropolitan Police into disrepute.
The teenager, who appears on Facebook in a skimpy black bra, works with the officers at Kennington nick.
Sources said she had been drinking all night and readily admitted consenting to sex with the men. Gossip about the women has spread like wildfire through the force.
One envious cop joked: "Everyone wants to know if they're available for Christmas parties this year.
"People were bewildered as the WPC pleasured her boyfriend in the bar. Then the civilian went one better by taking four guys into the bogs. It was scandalous."
It is understood no complaint has been received from either woman and none of those involved is suspended.
Last night the 19-year-old refused to comment at the home she shares with her parents in South London. She said: "I'm off work ill with flu. I don't want to talk."
Scotland Yard's Directorate of Professional Standards is investigating and the Independent Police Complaints Commission has been informed.
If the matter is proved the six police officers could all be made to resign.
Met chief Sir Paul Stephenson is fuming over what he called a "disturbing incident".
A Yard spokesman said: "The Met expects officers and staff to act with the utmost professionalism and integrity."
Police denied the antics came to light because they were filmed on cops' mobiles.
DO you know the women involved? Call The Sun on 020 7782 4103 or email email@example.com.
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 12:38 PM on 24th July 2009
Alison Minards faces questioning over the leaving party last month
This is the 19-year-old teenager at the centre of a police orgy investigation.
Alison Minards, a civilian detention officer at Kennington police station, faces questioning from senior officers over a Met leaving party in a pub last month.
A WPC in her 20s is alleged to have performed a sex act on her PC lover in the packed bar at the Pineapple pub in Kennington.
Another four officers in their 30s then reportedly had sex with a woman in the toilets.
One officer said: ‘It was scandalous.’
Sources said the women had been drinking throughout the evening and it is understood that no complaint has been received and no one has been suspended.
Miss Minards, who has been off sick since the probe was launched, refused to comment on the matter at her parents’ home in South London.
She said: ‘I’m off work with flu. I don’t want to talk.’
The male officer involved in the sex act in the bar wrote on a social website that he has recently bought a house with his girlfriend.
According to The Sun, he added: ‘All going good, driving fast police cars, chasing people and fighting people. Perfect job!!!’
'Disturbing': The alleged sex party took place at this Pineapple pub in London
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, is said to be angry over what he called a ‘disturbing incident’.
Some of the officers, all believed to be from the same south London police station, reportedly filmed the incident on their mobile phones.
Will Straw, a former pupil at Henry Fawcett Primary School in Kennington, was one of 12 governors removed by Lambeth council. The town hall has had ongoing concerns over financial management and the standards of teaching at the school. Headteacher James Walker is also understood to have been suspended.
Will Straw today said he had had little to do with governing the school in the past two years as he has been living in America, studying for a masters degree in New York and working for a think-tank in Washington. He returned to Britain a few months ago. He said: "It's frustrating following this sad period from 3,000 miles away."
Children's Secretary Ed Balls had to approve the decision to replace the governors with an interim executive board. Councillor Paul McGlone, Lambeth's cabinet member for education, said: "Officers found that the standard of education was falling year on year. The governors didn't respond appropriately and we exercised our legal right to replace them."
Vauxhall Labour MP Kate Hoey defended Mr Walker, who had been back at the school in Bowling Green Road for just eight months after being ill. She said: "I feel that he has not been treated in a way that would generally be considered to be justified and when the governors supported him, they got rid of them."
An Ofsted report in 2006 praised the headteacher for "good leadership" but judged the 350-pupil school's effectiveness to be only "satisfactory".
Lambeth council could not confirm this morning whether Mr Walker had been suspended. A spokesman said: "We had major concerns regarding the governance of Henry Fawcett School. We have established an interim executive board who are taking steps to ensure pupils receive the high standard of education they deserve."
Six police officers and a civilian police station worker are facing the sack over an alleged drunken orgy at a south London pub.
An investigation is being held over claims that two women, a WPc and a19-year-old civilian, had sex with between one and five male Lambeth officers at a leaving party.
Scotland Yard said everyone allegedly involved was off duty at the time and confirmed an inquiry into gross misconduct, which can lead to dismissal in serious cases, is under way.
The sex party is said to have taken place last month at the Pineapple pub in Kennington, near Waterloo station. Some of the officers, believed to be from Kennington police station, reportedly filmed the incident on mobile phones.
It allegedly began when the WPc, who is in her late twenties, performed a sex act on her boyfriend in the packed bar area. Four other officers in their thirties are reported to have had sex with the civilian in the pub lavatory.
Sources said the woman had been drinking through the evening and apparently consented. It is understood no complaint from either woman has been received and no one has been suspended.
The civilian worker last night refused to comment about the allegations at her parents' home in south London.
She said: "I'm off work with flu. I don't want to talk."
The Pineapple pub did not return requests for a comment.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson is said to be angry over what he called a "disturbing incident".
A Met spokesman said: "Officers from our Directorate of Professional Standards are investigating an allegation of gross misconduct involving several officers and staff from Lambeth borough."
He would not say how the alleged incident came to their attention.
By Sara Nelson
Last updated at 7:58 AM on 15th July 2009
When they’re not commanding countries or heading up the opposition, these political leaders like nothing more than a kick-about with the boys.
Tory leader David Cameron donned his shorts today to race across the turf with youngsters at the London Active Communities Urban Stars project in Kennington.
And last night U.S. President Barack Obama leapt at the opportunity to show off his skills as he headed a ball at the Oval Office after hosting the MLS Columbus Crew soccer team.
Ball skills: David Cameron gets competitive in Kennington today
Showing off: President Barack Obama heads the ball as he hosts a vist by the MLS Columbus Crew soccer team last night
Keeping hold of the ball: President Obama tosses the ball in the air as he poses for pictures
While Obama and Cameron seemed at ease with the sport, the same could not be said for Gordon Brown or the former Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The Labour leaders have looked awkward and out-of-breath as they tried to prove their sporting prowess in the past.
Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, was pictured inappropriately suited-up on the pitch at the Mile End Stadium in east London in 2005.
In the same year, Tony Blair managed to take off his jacket, yet still failed to impress with his dribbling skills at a training session at the Yue Tan Stadium in Beijing, China.
Conservative leader David Cameron showed off his football skills during an impromptu kick-about at a sports project in south London.
Mr Cameron was visiting the London Active Communities Urban Stars scheme in Kennington.
He was joined by celebrity athletes including ex-world number one tennis player Boris Becker and Olympic gold medalist Daley Thompson.
Later, sports stars delivered a report on tackling violence to Downing Street.
Mr Cameron said he was "delighted" to take part in a project and said it was important to give young people a positive outlet for their energies.
He added: "Sport - especially team sport - offers exactly that, so we have to do whatever we can to make sure sport is more accessible to them."
The display of football prowess was a first for Mr Cameron - better known as a keen cyclist and tennis player.
However, he was not the first front-line politician to show off his soccer technique to the cameras.
As chancellor in 2005, Raith Rovers supporter Gordon Brown was pictured with a ball at his feet while declaring he would back any Football Association bid to stage the 2018 World Cup.
The soon-to-be prime minister Tony Blair also took part in a memorable ball-heading session in 1995 with the then Newcastle - and future England - manager Kevin Keegan.
Moscow Olympics decathlon champion Daley Thompson - who had completed a seven-day cycle ride from Manchester - led a delegation including Mr Becker, golfer Gary Player and Argentine rugby player Hugo Porta to No 10.
They handed over the Breaking the Cycle of Violence report, commissioned by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which calls for investment in sport to tackle youth crime, anti-social behaviour and gang violence.
The report was received by Richard Taylor, the father of murdered teenager Damilola Taylor who is also the prime minister's special envoy on knife crime.
Daley Thompson said the Conservative leader was able to see for himself how sport can make a positive impact.
He added: "Our report shows how sports initiatives can be designed to meet the challenge of urban youth violence and I was delighted that I had the chance to explain this to him."