Sunday, 1 April 2012

Green Councillor in Four Letter Pasty Rant!

Well I seem to have caused a bit of a stir (again, I'm afraid) by straying into the the knee-high mud of sending late-night tweets about pasties.

I woke up yesterday to an email offering warm words about 'the Argus story'. When I ventured outside a little later, Brighton seemed to be swarming with billboards (pictured left) proclaiming details of my misdemeanour for all to see.

I duly visited the Jubilee Library to read the screed  in question (of course I don't buy it if I can help it) but gave up after half an hour of waiting, so had to endure about 15 people talking about the article before I even knew what it said!

It took a chat over a pint with some Green Party people from around the region later before someone produced a copy: the 'story' appeared to be simply that I had offended Labour leader Gill Mitchell and the CEO of a pasty business by asking on twitter: 'Honestly, who gives a fuck about pasties?'

Of course it was meant as a humorous way of expressing disappointment that so much media coverage of last week's disastrous budget was about pasties and baked goods: less on the tax cuts for millionaires, increases in tax on pensioners, support for fossil fuels and so on.

I'm glad that I got a chance to express exactly that point (well, sort of....) in the story:

It was a joke that was responding to the news because it's not the only thing going on in the world. The point I was trying to make was that the debate about pasties is distracting from the larger issues.

Clearly I sympathise with any business that is suffering from the appallingly unfair budget...

I can't imagine how slow a news day in Brighton it must have seemed to the Argus bosses in Southampton - or what it means for the once-great evening paper that it is left scrubbing for front-page stories on twitter and the increasing dominance of on-line news services like the ever-improving Brighton and Hove News site - but the powers that be decided my comments were the most important news that day.

I thought the story was ok actually, quite fair. But it was all topped off when former Prime Minister John Prescott, presumably on his way to the football -  was photographed in a white coat, outside Greggs in North Street, waving t'Argus - and my photo (pictured right) around, claiming it evidenced the fact that Greens don't care about jobs!

Of course that's opportunistic - and nonsense. One thing I'm proud of than anything is the work of the Green council in improving wages for low-paid staff, like those who work in Greggs - and our support for job-creating schemes in the city like the Brighton Hospital project and major developments at the Preston Barracks and Circus Street sites.

But what a lovely irony, that we were all paying too much attention to changes in VAT rules on baked goods, laughing at all the Labour and Tory politicians quick to eat and buy pasties and sausage rolls when we are war, when we face a crisis of unemployment, widening inequality, when thousands are dying for democracy in Syria, when we are re-entering recession but refusing to even discuss the failure of the underlying economic strategy, and so on.

And then a Labour politician makes the point beautifully by popping in to hang in with our local pasties (never mind that Greggs, as a national enterprise with near-monopolistic power in the pasty trade, poses an even larger threat to local pasty dealers) here in Brighton! And he's talking about the Green Party when he does so!

But there we go. Of course I'm sorry if my original comment causes anyone any offence, but I'm not sorry I was able to drag criticism of the budget and the media to the front page of the local rag.


  1. LOL
    Trouble is you now sound like any other politician who has committed the ultimate crime of 'getting caught' (Fletcher in Porridge)
    You should empathize I hope with JerryCan Maude
    Always saying sorry devaulues the 'poltical currency'

  2. Former Prime Minister John Prescott?