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This and that…

March 12, 2012


Pwllheli, Wales – Back from a few days away and I saw motorcyclists out riding today…

That’s the first sign of spring in England – forget the swallows returning from their wintering grounds in Namibia and South Africa!

In Brussels the white heat of motorcycle politics continues. The good old IMCO Committee has thrown out the findings of the much talked up, by the riders groups, impact assessment into the cost effectiveness of the mandatory fitting of Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS) to new scooters and motorcycles, from 51cc to 125cc (A1 category vehicles).  Yes its official if you bolt on a load of extra gear to a scooter its going to cost more to buy and maintain but don’t worry as we are doing a “Nelson”.

As IMCO had already voted to mandate ABS on A1 vehicles it’s not really surprising that the impact assessment has been binned, after all European Union (EU) politics is nothing if not contradictory. Embarrassing to IMCO? Possible as UK-based consultancy London Economics, who produced the assessment, also concluded that  the costs of installing On Board Diagnostics and speeding up the timetable for the introduction of emission limits outweighed the benefits.

Next up an impact assessment into the impact that all these assessments are having on EU tax payers pockets. Err dream on!

Still its all keeping “the bikers friend” IMCO Rapporteur Wim van de Camp busy as he shuttles around trying to find a compromise between the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. With the European Commission acting as advisor this dialogue is known in Euro speak as a trilogue discussion. AKA trying to paper up the cracks in what has become dodge and unwanted legislation which, if BBR’s Brussels contacts are correct, may well end up in the Euro bin when we finally get to the European Parliament Plenary. Still its all made for a nice “get em out on the streets” campaign by the riders “rights” groups.

From the white heat of Brussels to the sausage sizzle of Westminster. Last week saw another holding of the annual Motorcycle Lobby Day at the Houses of Parliament. It would be an easy matter to criticise this event with under fifty riders meeting their Members of Parliament (MPs) and less than thirty MPs attending a reception organised by the All Party Parliamentary Motorcycle Group.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport Mike “the bike” Penning graced proceedings with his presence offering the “usual” comments on the importance  of motorcycling and an undertaking to bring the motorcycle test review to a constructive conclusion. This is apparently Penning speak for introducing both the requirements of the Third Driving Licence Directive and a revised fully on road test in January 2013.

According to BRR’s reception attendee there was considerable chat in the margins concerning the European Type Approval Regulations. UK MP’s have little if any influence in Brussels but it seems that Penning is making efforts to mitigate the EU Commission proposals.

As I said “easy to criticise” but I won’t in fact do so. Well done to The Rider’s Are Voters (RAV) partners who organised the event. As the press hand out stated: “UK Government needs to do more to maximise the opportunities that motorcycling can bring to transport policy, environmental policy, the economy and business.” Its just a pity that only 4% of MP’s turned up to listen to that message.

Now the good news. It seems that UK Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) legend Neil F Liversidge is intent on rejoining the riders rights action. His return as a MAG Director has been flagged up. Former MAG National Chairman Neil has been out in cold for too long. Ousted by the MAG “old guard” in 2002 Neil is considered by some an arrogant twat. In reality he has brain that can remember the tiniest detail, an ability to think up counter arguments instantly and as Chairman of MAG was constantly thinking of ways to improve MAG and the riders political “lot”.

The “Withnail and I” of the UK motorcycle lobby Nich Brown, MAG General Secretary, and Paddy Tyson, MAG Campaigns Manager, better watch out Neil is about!  What will Uncle Monty think?

Enjoy your early spring riding.


© Back Roads Rider 2012


24 Comments leave one →
  1. Elaine permalink
    March 12, 2012 6:17 pm

    Just a small comment – we’ve been told that Malcolm Harbour will be chairing the trilogues. 😉

    • Back Roads Rider permalink*
      March 12, 2012 6:39 pm

      Very useful information.

      Thanks for that.

  2. MAG a Lite permalink
    March 12, 2012 10:20 pm

    I was there when Neil the Liver sausage was ousted and rather than it being the “old guard” that done it, it was that group that was entltled “young men on the make” and here’s one name that may seem familiar from that bunch…………………yes……………………..Nich Brown.

    Ah the plot thickens like a boat of Bisto gravy.

    • Scouse permalink
      March 13, 2012 11:07 am

      Ah yes Mr Shouty… who at the time it appeared that after he didn’t get offered a job with “another organisation” started making several publicly embarrassing attacks on many people who had actively worked alongside him to get MAG into the position it was in. Just because they were getting the jobs he appeared to have his eye on or wanted his “supporters” to have … well that is how it appeared to the membership outside of Yorkshire.

      Phil,Craig, Nich and even Gary worked hard to get things done along side Neil. it was when he started attacking and making unfounded accusations against the people who had given him that chance to be in the limelight that the rest of MAG turned on him… he insulted too many rank and file members directly and created a situation of his own making. It’s a matter of learning from past mistakes and constantly telling people as loudly as possible that he knows best doesn’t mean he has.

      However we do need a more forceful lead in MAG and the whole movement in the UK in general to set a direction, but also we need someone who is not going to start the flood of ripped up membership cards again.

      • Ian permalink
        March 13, 2012 2:13 pm

        That’s an interesting attempt at rewriting history and a pretty nasty one at that. But the NC minutes Feb. 2002 tell another story.

      • Scouse permalink
        March 13, 2012 4:31 pm

        I am not denying there was bad feeling and accusations on both sides but at the same respect, in the time leading up to that meeting there was a period of public snarling and snapping from Neil which caused the problems MAG are still experiencing today. He triggered the backlash against himself by how he was perceived to be attacking the people who had moved away from what was seen as his direct “circle of influence”. And that is the whole issue…

        It’s what is perceived external to NC meetings that counts with the rank and file, and none-members. As I said above it was the feeling amongst the membership, with all the in-fighting, that his time was over and a totally new lot needed to come forward. Unfortunately it didn’t happen that way, and I want it on record here I have never been a fan of stalking horse politics, and we ended up losing the team that had pulled MAG through the 90’s. We have had ten years of not needing the direct action which is becoming more evident we need again…but still … time has moved on …

        Do we need more of the same bully-boy bombastic leadership style or is a more mature but charismatic style required… as befits the fact that we have all like fine wines, matured and mellowed ?

  3. Andy Pandy permalink
    March 13, 2012 8:20 am

    You wrote “Well done to The Rider’s Are Voters (RAV) partners who organised the event”, but if you go to the bottom of the press release it looks like the whole thing was organised by a public relations company Rowan Public Affairs.

    So not MAG, not the BMF, not MCIA, not ACU, but Craig C Clinch aka the Puppeteer Extraordaire, the Grey Eminence and Fifth Column. He who allegedly controls the people running riders rights organisations in the UK and Brussels.

    The thot plickens…..considering he too was one of the “young men on the make” that ousted The Sausage.

    • Back Roads Rider permalink*
      March 13, 2012 1:45 pm

      While accepting your take and your view of the “Brigadier” and the fact that MAG, BMF, ACU et al are simple camp followers, I just feel that in current climate anything is better than nothing.

      • Andy Pandy permalink
        March 16, 2012 7:08 pm

        Possibly – but I suppose it depends on the discussions – was it about the so called ban on bikes over 7 years in cities, Hi Viz, long forks and so forth, or was it a meaningful discussion about the future of motorcycling in the UK?

      • Back Roads Rider permalink*
        March 16, 2012 7:37 pm

        “meaningful discussion about the future of motorcycling in the UK?”

        From reports received, and hopefully not wishing to appear obtuse, that would appear to depend on who was talking to who.

  4. March 13, 2012 11:20 am

    Thanks, great stuff as always. It’s fascinating to hear about how the sausage is actually made.

    Mr Wim van de Camp strikes me as the chap in the prison showers who whispers in your ear that he’s only holding you down so that the other, rougher inmates don’t hurt you.

    Steve Baker MP seems like a decent chap with his head screwed on right, good on him for hosting the event. It seems a little early in the calendar though – the first official sign of spring isn’t bikes, it’s the mobile tax^W^W “Safety Camera” vans emerging from hibernation.

  5. Ian permalink
    March 13, 2012 7:09 pm

    So Scouse, Neil has offered his services as a Director and with his experience as a very successful financial advisor – and undoubtedly a more mellowed connasseur of fine wines, so what is the problem? His financial advice could only benefit MAG.

    He’s not standing as Chair, but you knew that, didn’t you?

    However for the audience reading this blog, you are making comments on past problems – but have failed to give a balanced and fair perspective of what happened. My recollection is that it was Neil who pulled MAG through the 90s, not you nor Brown nor Clinch, nor Neale. The flood of ripped up membership cards is a nice little scare tactic. But equally all of those who said that they would return if NFL left – well – that just didn’t happen either.

    What has always been the dark side of MAG is the back-stabbing, muck raking and sleazy innuedos. With all Neil’s faults, you knew where you stood with him. He called a spade a spade. Neil’s return is the best thing that could happen to MAG.

    • Scouse permalink
      March 13, 2012 9:13 pm

      I will give anyone a fair go at anything but when he started slagging people off in public again as regards the Directors position, all I can say is …seen it all before 😦

      • Ian permalink
        March 14, 2012 7:28 am

        Keep digging Scouse 😉

  6. Ian Cook permalink
    March 20, 2012 8:10 pm

    It’s good to see MAG’s found another public billboard on which to hang its dirty washing for all to see!

    Give it a rest boys – let’s look forward not back. Of course, in common with any similar organisation, there will be internal politics, but there’s a time & place. Here and now are not it.

  7. March 25, 2012 10:44 pm

    Could you post something new, please? Every time I come back to check, I get the sausage munchies something fierce.

  8. Human Resources permalink
    May 6, 2013 3:19 pm

    Well a year or so on and your prophesy has become fact. Withnail and I have either left the building or are in the bad books with MAG management. Lazy Bones Snich had a reputation for being very good at walking up and down corridors shuffling paper, i.e. seeming to appear to be working while effectively doing FA, was he finally caught out?

    Tyson’s departure to Tibet immediately following his resignation seems somewhat suss. Was it planned a long time ago, considering he went with others, or was it really as the drums are beating – that he went as a result of his stress related illness? Seems like Facebook has exploded to discuss the whys and wherefores – mainly the same people who Tyson appears to have cultivated as his proselytes (and apparently is still winding up, e.g. by providing his resignation letter for all and asunder to read). Pondering further, one could ask why a staff appraisal went so horribly wrong – or in this case -comment that this is the best thing that could have happened to MAG. So N+P – Cheerio, farewell, goodbye, nice knowing you. As you join the scrap heap of Riders Rights employees, be assured that you won’t be remembered for much longer.

    • Back Roads Rider permalink*
      May 6, 2013 9:21 pm

      Well well, a prophet is never recognised in his own country. Not that I’m in it at the moment.

      I promise to give Paddy a wave if I see him coming the other way. As a consummate self publicised no doubt he’s (a) getting paid (b) will be writing another long winded, with a whiff of Zen, account of the trip, btw the Chinese built road to Base Camp is very nice if a bit boring, in the very overpriced Overland magazine and (c) touring Canada with a multi-media presentation.

      Personally I’d recommend the Qingzang railway………

  9. Arthur Philip Dent permalink
    May 7, 2013 8:24 am

    If I ever see him, it’ll be the single-finger wave…

  10. Gonzo permalink
    May 7, 2013 2:10 pm

    But you see, there’s the rub, Overland magazine might be overpriced for the proselytes, but it’s free of charge from the Yudu library if you really have the time and inclination to read about yet another trip on a motorcycle….

    • Back Roads Rider permalink*
      May 7, 2013 7:23 pm

      Personally I prefer the paper version. Its got a hundred and one uses, following the read, for the hard arsed overland rider. I leave it to your imagination to as to what those uses might be.

      Mind thinking about its got a hundred and one uses without reading it.

      • Arthur Philip Dent permalink
        May 7, 2013 7:39 pm

        I think the only use it would have, would be when you’re out in the bush – as you’d block the khazi otherwise!

  11. Ford Prefect permalink
    May 8, 2013 5:52 pm

    While on the subject of arseholes, there is one more person that MAG and FEMA would do well to consider sending to the Outer Galaxy. Herewith an excerpt from a spoof letter in response to AH No3 to the President of the EU parliament:

    “In the case of lunatic verbose scribble that you have sent to the EU Ombudsman, there were salient points you raised including the description of your grandmother’s educational attainments. This reminded me of mine, who was a one legged ballet dancer from Thessaloniki. She unfortunately had to cut her dancing career short (please forgive the pun).

    Your diatribe to both the European Ombudsman and to President Schulz has provided the European Union’s Civil Service with such delight that for example, in my own office we have enlarged your correspondence and wallpapered the rooms with it, in order to provide a source of mirth and laughter whenever we find that life is getting us down.

    We, (by we, I mean my colleagues and myself) are curious to understand whether you speak just for yourself, or whether you represent other personalities that may inhabit your delusional mind, such as Napoleon, Von Rippentrop or perhaps the great Attila the Hun.

    The reason I ask is because in your correspondence you have nominated a number of personalities that you consider important in your presentation of issues that only a socio-path could consider logic and worth presenting to another rational human being.

    Your interpretation of the Boston Matrix to suggest that democracy is failing in the European Union in your missive to President Schultz brings to mind another design which is the back cover of a record produced many years ago by the Goons comedy trio and is possibly a far better description of the European Union’s democratic processes than the one you hypothesize. The Master Spike Milligan spent many a year developing his character Count Jim Moriaty. This reminded me that you are not the only fruitcake inhibiting this planet.” etc


  1. El Camino – The Road

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