Friday 25 September 2009

Terminator Invited To Newham As Official Civic Guest

As if he didn’t already have enough to worry about, Californian governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican former film star and sex pest who currently presides over an unemployment rate of 12.1% and the fiscal freefall of a $26.3 billion budget deficit in the richest state in the US, has been invited by Newham’s Great Helmsman Sir Robin Wales to become the borough's ‘official civic guest’ at the Olympics. What a clash of egos that could prove to be.

According to the Newham Recorder, Wales has written to Schwarzenegger, who lived and trained at Charles ‘Wag’ Bennett's gym in Romford Road in Forest Gate in the 1960s, saying:

You have been an inspiration to weightlifters and sportspeople since you started winning titles during the 1970s, and have capitalised on your appeal by moving onto acting, and now governing California.

The success of our borough is largely because of the hard working men and women, like yourself, who have contributed towards continually improving Newham, which is the most ethnically diverse area in Britain.
The local rag also says that Wales “would like to talk to Arnold about saving money”. It says something about the monumental self-regard that the Mayor of Newham has for his own abilities that he now thinks he can ride to California’s rescue.

Schwarzenegger, who has impoverished the most deprived sections of his own state by infamously making swingeing cuts to child welfare, health care for the poor and AIDS prevention efforts and by firing 5,000 state government employees (as well as proposing to close 220 state parks) hardly seems like a suitable choice for ‘official civic guest’ to one of the poorest boroughs in England.

However, that doesn't mean that we can't draw some inspiration from the Golden State. The massive campus protests by students and faculty members at the University of California, the scale of which, according to the Guardian, have shocked state authorities as they have escalated from a local dispute to a state-wide walkout, are a tremendous example to the rest of us in opposing the cuts in local services that a new Tory government is expected to introduce.


HarpyMarx said...

Ay Carumba!

Terminator meets the Outlaw Robin Wales.

Oh my!

Good news btw about the campus protests at the Uni of Calfornia.

Mike Law said...


I sent the following in to the Newham Recorder on Tuesday (doubt that it'll be set to ink):

The Mayor has invited Arnold Schwarzenegger to be his guest for the 2012 Olympics because he used to train at Wag Bennett’s Gym in the sixties. I would have though a better choice would have been Lennox Lewis. Lewis was born in Newham and actually took part in the 1988 Olympics winning gold! He also happens to be black, which I would say is a better reflection of the ethnic diversity of the borough than a white Austrian is.

However, it seems that a major incentive for inviting the elected leader of the world’s 7th largest economy is to advise him on budget cuts. I doubt if he needs such advice, as it is well documented that in July of this year he posted a video on twitter announcing a $15 Billion budget cut (while brandishing a knife – maybe Sir Robin is seeking some new PR pointers).

Sir Robin intends to spell out to the Terminator how Newham has managed to identify £70 Million in budget savings. Incidentally, £70 Million is 0.27 percent of California’s predicted $26 Billion deficit.

I can imagine that many Newham residents will be interested in this £70 Million saving. For a start, does it now mean that we never really needed the extra £58 Million that Sir Robin insisted we should get if we were to be recognised by government as an inner-London borough?

Furthermore, the very fact that it is being referred to as a savings implies that it's money the borough receives annually that has been spent (unwisely) in the past. If it is a saving that is to be spread across the next council term (4 years) then Sir Robin’s administration has wasted £140 Million over the past eight years; if it is a saving that is to be made per year, then he’s wasted £560 Million over the same period.

Instead of talking in two years’ time to a film star from over 5000 miles away, why doesn’t the Mayor let those of us who live here, on the doorstep, know now exactly how he is going to save the money?

Kevin said...

"Terminator meets the Outlaw Robin Wales"

Louise, I wish I'd used that as the title of the post!

Mike, great letter as always, will be interesting to see whether it is published. You're right about Lennox Lewis' association with the borough being a more obvious choice, I completely missed that one (not a big follower of boxing, to be honest).

On a different note, what's happened with your 'Newham Doublethink' blog? I've had it in my Google Reader for ages but there have been no updates. With so little prospect of the Recorder publishing anything critical of Sir Robin, we definitely need more Newham bloggers!

Mike Law said...


Re letter: thanks. Have to own up to an interest re Lennox Lewis - He's my wife's cousin, although she hasn't seen him for years and years.

Re blog: Gosh, I didn't think anyone read it; it was a bit of a vanity thing and I started to form the opinion that most blogs (not all - John Gray's Labour blog is great example of a man running away with his warped sense of self importance) are an ego trip - I have a large enough ego as it is.

However, I have changed the name of the blog ( - only because I've always liked Aaron Hill's poem and he did live in Plaistow for a time).

It's also a matter of time, but I will be putting a couple of postings on it in the next day or two (including the text of my letter to the Recorder) - would be very grateful for any criticisms/advice.


Anonymous said...

ERR, But Arny will not be the Governor then, those lovely Americans have TERM LIMITS. Good Idea, one would think ..

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