Furnace Green & Tilgate- last minute leaflet

June 3, 2009



This is the last minute leaflet that has gone out in Furnace Green & Tilgate to support the Labour campaign. We are all aware that a low turnout in these elections could let in the extremist BNP and it is therefore important to urge people to vote to avoid such a catastrophe happening.

Ross Kemp, whom we all know as Eastenders’ Grant Mitchell, and who is a Labour Party member, has very kindly made available a letter which I have used to warn the voters of Furnace Green & Tilgate of the dangers inherent in a BNP candidature.

To do anything less would make me feel that I was standing idly by while the foundations of a monstrous evil of a new Third Reich were being laid.

Sadly, Duncan Crow, Tory candidate for Furnace Green & Tilgate does not seem to feel the same way and is busily trying to smear me on the Maidenbower forum.

Why, exactly, has he got so upset? Has this leaflet hit a nerve?

If he would care to reply to this post then I will publish what he says, even though I will inevitably disagree with every word.  

Ringing the MP’s office to complain really isn’t on.

Over to you, Duncan Crow.


West Sussex County Council elections- Furnace Green & Tilgate Tory candidate feels the pressure

June 2, 2009

Just when I thought this election was going to be the most tedious on record, and one where all the vital issues have been obscured by the MPs expenses scandal, the elections spark into life.

I have become the target of Tory ire, because of a leaflet which has been circulated in Maidenbower, which draws attention to the dismal record of councillor Henry Smith’s six years as Tory county council leader.

As my name, as election agent, appears at the bottom of the leaflet, various posts been made on the worthy Maidenbower forum, attacking me, especially, and other Labour election candidates.

In making the following statement, I fear that Mr Duncan Crow may have fallen victim to the same pressures which afflicted Susan Boyle after her six weeks in the limelight as ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ frontrunner.

Mr Crow says: This is one reason why I am personally aiming to deliver a crushing defeat to him (Ian Irvine) this coming Thursday in Tilgate and Furnace Green.

Well, if I don’t get elected in Furnace Green and Tilgate on Thursday, I am quite sure that it will be down to national factors like MP’s expenses and the general political situation rather than the personal qualities of the candidates. Only a megalomaniac would claim that they could personally deliver an election result.

And the shame is, that if the Tories do win on Thursday, the roads will still be potholed, children’s services will still be poor, vast amounts of taxpayers’ money will still be siphoned off into the county council’s press and publicity budget, to produce soundbites for Henry Smith, and the same old lame Tory excuses for abject failure will be trotted out.

Still, the voters of Tilgate and Furnace Green may yet demonstrate that if a blue sock puppet is put up for election it doesn’t necessarily follow that that sock puppet will be elected.

However, if Duncan Crow does get elected, it will be the clearest, but saddest, indicator that ‘Britain’s Got Absolutely No Talent Whatsoever’.

Exclusive! How Tory controlled West Sussex County Council uses Crawley taxpayers’ money to fund a pro-Tory press

May 17, 2009

Readers will be aware, if not particularly riveted, by my unending criticism of the ‘Crawley Times’ and the very pro-local Tory party stance it has taken. Indeed, a not especially interested in politics colleague remarked to me the other day that it seemed to be a vehicle for the promotion of Mr Henry Smith, Maidenbower county councillor and leader of West Sussex County Council. I found myself unable to disagree with this astute observation.

Anyone with an interest in local government and politics would agree that a strong, independent local press is an essential element in holding those who consider they govern us to account.

Sadly, the ‘Crawley Times’, proprietor Johnston Press, seems to take the view that ‘he who pays the piper plays the tune’, hence the expensive and lavish full page advertising by West Sussex County Council. This expensive advertising is all the more surprising because the Crawley Times is a very low circulation newspaper, and struggling Johnston Press is closing titles around the country, rather than opening new ones. Which makes the Crawley Times even more of an aberration.

As I have previously pointed out, there is an audit trail leading fron the West Sussex County Council press and publicity budget direct to the boardroom of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Effectively, Crawley council tax money is being siphoned off to bail out Scottish businesses that are in difficulty.

In an attempt to find out what sums of money are involved, I made a Freedom of Information request, and have received the answer I have published below. It seems the county council are going to make it too expensive for an ordinary citizen like myself to get the information requested. What, you may well ask, are they hiding? Is there another scandal, not quite of the MPs expenses level, that hasn’t been revealed. And is a rank amateur like myself capable of uncovering such a scandal, should it exist?

Anyway, here is the answer I got, from which you can draw your own conclusions.

  1. Dear Mr. Irvine                                                                                    Ref: FS-Irv 

Freedom of Information Request –Newspaper Advertising Expenditure 

I am writing regarding your further Freedom of Information request, which I received on 24th March 2009. In that request, you asked us for information regarding newspaper advertising for specific titles for the period 1st September 2008 to 1st March 2009. 

With regard to your request, we estimate that the cost of the more detailed analysis to comply with your request would exceed the relevant limit of £450 specified in regulations for local authorities. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 2 1/2 working days in determining whether the Department holds the information, and locating, retrieving and extracting the information. 

Under section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act the Department is not obliged to comply with your request and we will not be processing your request further. 

However, I can give you the total Advertising/Publicity expenditure for the period in question. This total is £516,241.27. Please note that this total does not include recruitment advertising. 

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications. 

Right of Appeal: 

West Sussex County Council provides you with the right to request a review of this response under its complaints procedure.  If you decide to request a review and are not satisfied with the outcome, you then have the right to direct your comments to the Information Commissioner who will give it consideration. The address is as follows: 

The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow

Cheshire. SK9 5AF. 

Yours sincerely


Note that the advertising costs I requested were for the Crawley Observer, Crawley Times and the Crawley News.

The figure in the reply is  £516,241.27. I emailed back to ask if this figure referred only to those titles. As I have not received a reply, I can only assume that it does. 

Half a million quid on publicity in six months? Wouldn’t the voters prefer this money to be spent on repairing the roads, on schools, and on social services.

I only ask.

Norman Tebbit says ‘Don’t vote Tory’ !

May 12, 2009

OK, he’s saying don’t vote Labour or Liberal Democrat, either, but then he would, wouldn’t he?

But who would have ever  thought that Norman Tebbit, darling of the Tory right, would urge voters not to back his Party?

Strange days. 

‘And former Tory chairman Lord Tebbit urged voters to show their anger about the expenses scandal by not backing any of the major political parties in next month’s European elections.’

From the BBC website.


May 7, 2009

Check out Crawley Labour Party’s new website!


And congratulations to the Labour Party members who put in so many hours and so much effort to bring it into being.

Alistair’s budget soaks the rich?

April 23, 2009

Well, hardly, although to hear the squeals from the Tory right you’d think Denis Healey was Chancellor, ‘Squeezing the rich until the pips squeak’.

If the right are so against Alistair Darling’s budget, then it must be a good one. It’s bound to have an impact on the coming local elections, in which I am a candidate for the Tilgate and Furnace Green county council division.

I’d like to think that the election will be fought on local issues, like the Tory run county council squandering our money on trying to stop the South Downs National Park, and presiding over poor quality children’s services, risking another ‘Baby P’ scandal in West Sussex, and bankrolling local newspapers, with taxpayers’ money,  to produce Tory supporting propaganda,  and desperately sending road gangs around Crawley to do a shoddy job of patching up potholes (already a partial victory for Crawley Labour Party), and investing OUR money in dubious Icelandic banks ( we might get back 70%-80%), the list of Tory mismanagement goes on and on and on.

So I hope all this won’t be forgotten  when voters cast their votes on June 4th. But I have a feeling that the budget may play a significant part in the voter’s choice. It is possible, just possible, that many voters in Tilgate and Furnace Green might, by the time June comes, be feeling a little bit better off. The combination of cheap credit, mortgage rates at a historic low, and inflation down, could just weigh in voters minds- ‘hey, this is what a Labour government can bring, why on earth risk it by voting Conservative?’

So far we have been fairly fortunate in Crawley in that unemployment is nothing like the levels in the North and the Midlands, but we cannot be complacent. Which is why I think it is a shame that county council jobs were devolved to Horsham, but nothing to Crawley, and neither Crawley Borough Council or West Sussex County Council raised a squeak of protest.

And in my view Tilgate and Furnace Green needs a county councillor who is prepared to ask awkward questions of the county council, and who is prepared to get stuck in and involved with the issues that matter to the voters of Tilgate and Furnace Green. Someone who’s awake, not asleep on the  job at County Hall.

Oh, all right, yes, I mean ME, of course!





Somerfield- Brown’s Broadfield bonanza

April 18, 2009

Yes, it’s gold rush time in Broadfield. Somerfield is closing down on May 6th and will re-open as Morrison’s.

In the meantime, the store is selling off its stock at rock bottom prices. Not everything, yet, just the ‘green label’ items. But there are some real bargains to be had, and very good food at the sort of prices we haven’t seen before. Of course, a lot of things have been completely sold out…..but there’s a couple of weeks left to run, and Broadfield Somerfield has a very big storeroom/basement….

So come and join in the gold rush…stock up…beat the recession!

What’s this got to do with Gordon Brown, a reader asks.

Well, replies broadfield1, it’s Brown’s Broadfield bonanza because everything that is bad, however unlikely, is blamed on him by the Tories, so if something good happens, let’s blame that on him as well.

And I haven’t checked out the booze yet….or have I?

Henry Smith’s through the looking glass ‘Direct Democracy’

April 3, 2009

My old friend Gerry Mander calls me from the six counties of Northern Ireland. ‘How are things over there, Gerry?’, I inquire. ‘Oh not so good’, he says, ‘Now that they’ve taken the ‘London’ out of Londonderry.’ Gerry is something of an expert in the art of arranging democracy and engineering ward boundaries to ensure a built in majority for a ruling elite. Gerry witnessed, first hand, as he grew up in Londonderry, the way the Ulster Unionists gerrymandered ward boundaries to their advantage. And, sadly, he experienced the mayhem that arose from this practice, when the oppressed Catholic underclass rose up to demand equal housing rights and equal voting rights. A mayhem that developed into the thirty years of violence known as the Troubles.

A fascinating character, is Gerry Mander, who has long regaled me with accounts of how a ruling elite will manipulate and pervert the course of democracy to suit their own ends.

I remind Gerry that many Crawley dwellers believe that the county council ward boundaries have been changed solely because the Tories who dominate the County Council are seeking to create wards which are electorally more advantageous to them. Indeed, I tell Gerry, Broadfield1 wrote to the Boundary Commission to object to the proposed wards on those very grounds.  

Which brings us nicely on to Councillor Henry Smith and ‘Direct Democracy’. As some of you may know, Councillor Smith is the leader of West Sussex County Council, whose main claim to self aggrandisement is that he has co-authored a book entitled  ‘Direct Democracy: An Agenda for a New Model Party” which argues for far greater devolution of real decision-making power to people, locally elected bodies and Parliament’– Councillor Smith’s words.

Strange then, that Councillor Smith should, according to an unimpeachable source, be planning to propose, should the Tories win a majority of county council seats in Crawley, to replace the two local county council committees with one. At the moment there is one committee for the ‘east’ of Crawley, with a Tory chair, and one for the ‘west’ of Crawley, with a Labour chair. Surely, one would have thought, two committees represents a greater devolution of power than just one, but it seems the co-author of ‘ Direct Democracy: An Agenda for a New Model Party” which argues for far greater devolution of real decision-making power to people, locally elected bodies and Parliament.’ thinks otherwise.

‘And what’, asks Gerry, ‘has prompted this fine example of reducing democracy, which the Orange aldermen of Londonderry would have found so admirable?’

‘It seems,’ I reply, ‘to have been initiated by a complaint from Broadfield Tory councillor and Broadfield Tory county council candidate Alan Quirk.’

‘So,’ asks Gerry, quite clearly very interested, ‘do you have a Brown Nose Day over there in Crawley?’

Resisting the temptation to say ‘Every day is Brown Nose Day in the West Sussex Tory Empire’, I find myself unable to answer Gerry’s playful question.

‘Surely,’ Gerry goes on, ‘the county local committees do a useful job in awarding grants and discussing issues which are important to local communities, and if there is one, instead of two, then much of the opportunity for residents to talk with those in power will be, at the very least, halved.’

I find that the only reply I can give is one of resigned agreement, and I add:



Daniel Hannan- Charge of the Right Brigade

March 27, 2009

A reader asks- ‘Who is Daniel Hannan?’ broadfield1 replies- ‘a very good question, and one which I wouldn’t have been able to answer until this week.’

It transpires that Mr Hannan is an obscure Tory Euro MEP, who unfortunately ‘represents’ us in the South East, and whose claim to fame is that he made an embarrassing exhibition (or what my granny would have better described as ‘a complete a**e’) of himself in the European parliament. His performance ended up being looked at many times on YouTube, where for some reason his rant was posted for posterity and the amusement of the wider world. The target of Mr Hannan’s rhetoric was Gordon Brown, towards whom the Tory right displays an almost fascistic hatred. If tomorrow belongs to Mr Hannan and his followers, I sincerely hope I’m not around.

I had a quick look at the YouTube post, but, even though I have a strong constitution, I could not bear to look at it for long. It seemed to be Mr Hannan conducting some sort of denunciation of Mr Brown, which seems a bit rich coming from someone who has never implemented a political policy in his life, compared with the Prime Minister, who is wrestling with huge economic problems and decisions every day. Which links back to my previous post- what WOULD the Tories do?

The question now is- what sparked Mr Hannan’s outburst? I think the answer lies in recent events, and is an attempt to rally the Tory right. I am sure that many right wing Tory activists are extremely unhappy at the re-emergence of Kenneth Clarke, a very pro-European Tory, now shadow business secretary. You may remember the recent Tory wobble, on   raising the inheritance tax threshold to £1,000,000, a policy which Mr Clarke described as an ‘aspiration’, not a ‘commitment’. Could it be that the right wing of the Tory party is readying itself, because it is not happy with the direction of Mr Cameron’s leadership?

Whatever, the sight of the Tory right in full cry is not a pleasant spectacle, and given the way that the sitting county councillor for Tilgate & Furnace Green has eulogised over Mr Hannan’s speech, I worry that, if the BNP stand, there will be two parties vying for the far right mantle in the coming election, not something the voters of Tilgate & Furnace Green deserve.   

If this is the Charge of the Right Brigade, they might do well to reflect on the outcome of a similarly named Charge during the Crimean War. It was not a happy outcome for those who took part.  


What WOULD the Tories do?

March 26, 2009

We’ve been hearing a lot of criticism from the Tories lately, aimed at undermining what the government is doing to revive the economy and stave off the worst effects of recession.

It’s certainly hard to keep up with it all- bank bailouts, quantitive easing, gilt auctions etc etc. It is difficult to remember a time when a government has been so actively interventionist. We’ll never know if the measures taken have stopped things being even worse than they are, and what life would be like if those steps hadn’t been taken. But we are not alone in this, and other governments, including that of the USA, the biggest economy of them all, are doing similar things.

David Cameron modelled himself on being Blair-lite; if what Gordon Brown has done is seen as successful, will Mr Cameron start imitating Gordon Brown?

Leaving that aside, what have the Tories said that they would do differently?

Actually, they haven’t  said anything about what they WOULD do, preferring instead to complain about what IS being done. It’s almost as if they don’t want the government to be successful in handling this crisis, because they believe that a Labour failure would make it more likely for the Tory party to win an election. If that’s true, then it says a lot about the Tories’ claims to patriotism and caring for the country and its citizens. I wouldn’t say that the Tories are displaying cynical opportunism, because that would be too mild, but it would be worrying if that was what their election campaign was based on.

Even more worrying would be if they won and formed a government. While they are not saying much now, the way they handled recessions when they were in government was by slashing public spending and hiking up interest rates. Result- massive unemployment, large numbers of homes repossessed and whole communities blighted. My guess is that they would behave in exactly the same way, because if they reject Brown’s way, then there is no other way for them to act. As Michael Heseltine almost said, they would march RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT.

Not for a long time have the differences between the Labour Party and the Tory Party been so marked, and I think this will show at the elections in June, in which I shall be a candidate for the Tilgate& Furnace Green county council division.

Which brings us to a matter of Tory-led West Sussex County Council and the not so small matter of the £12.9 million which the county council holds in an Icelandic bank. Writing on the Maidenbower forum, council leader Henry Smith says that this money is ‘frozen’. What exactly does this mean? Is it not earning interest? Is the county council unable to spend this money? What steps are the council taking to recover the money, or is it another case of the Tories doing nothing?

One things for sure, £12.9 million would fill a lot of potholes and pay for better adult social services and better children’s services, something I’m sure the voting public will bear in mind.