Friday, 11 June 2010

Polite Notice

My non virtual life has preoccupied me and now I'm starting a new job, which will consume a lot of my time. Blogging has/will be casual. My apologies.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

New New Next Labour

So the five candidates have been chosen for the Labour Leadership. I'm glad Diane Abbott has a place in the debate, as at least there is some representation for the left of the party and it's backbenches. If Labour is to rebuild itself the debate needs to go beyond populist announcements or distancing themselves from the party's failures. As so far they've said nothing new. They have not yet re-shaped their politics to changed circumstances.

It's a sad representation of our politics though that most of the candidates are career politicians. It's a worrying trend as what do they really know about struggling to meet the bills, what it's like to wait on the NHS, getting on the property ladder? New New Labour sounds like much of the same. Which is disappointing, as who will speak for the little guy if not what many consider the "peoples Party"?

On a related note - Fingers crossed for Ed Ball's winning, there's hours of entrainment to be had.

Labour shows its Balls.
Balls bounces in polls.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Parliament Open For Business

You've got to love the state opening of parliament, a lot of sitting around in robes, horses and bling. It doesn't detract from greatness of the houses of parliament though, whenever I walk around the South Bank, I look across at parliament and I feel truly humbled by it, it's history is always on display. Today's state opening in all it's glory, is as always, pompous, ostentatious and the Queen never looks happy about the whole thing. But I love it.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Coalition So Far

Though I've been following the Con-Lib coalition progress to date, I've been reluctant to post on it so far, as they're just words being said and promises being made. Parliament isn't up and running yet. That for me is the real test of this government, will they use parliament effectively or will they use it like the conveyor belt it became under the previous government.

I've been impressed so far by Hague setting up an inquiry into whether Britain has been complicit in torture. Also by the fact that even though he is a rabid Eurosceptic, the government are taking a pragmatic approach to the EU. Just how Eurosceptic they would be was a concern, as regardless of your views on the EU, a lot of jobs depend on it and it's never a good idea to bait your neighbours.

I really enjoyed Nick Clegg's speech on political reform earlier in the week.

I'm a liberal. My starting point is always optimism about people.The view that most people, most of the time, will make the right decisions for themselves and their families. That you know better than I do about how to run your life, your community, the services you use. So this government is going to trust people.

Wonderful, wouldn't that be nice? One piece of reform that has got peoples back's up is the 55% rule. This is with regard to introducing fixed term parliaments, it gives parliament the ability to dissolve before that time. I'm not sure myself why that would be a problem, given a vote of confidence still stands and it makes sense to have an emergency stop button for the coalition. Most of the debate I've seen with regard to this, has centred around not changing something just because it's always been done that way. Could be just Conservatives being conservative?

I'm looking forward to hearing what the Queens speech says this Tuesday and I'll be watching with interest this new parliament starting.

On An Unrelated Note

How wonderful is this sunshine? In that great instinctive British tradition, passed down through the generations, on the first sighting of a cloudless sun filled sky, I rushed outside in shorts and a skimpy top. Then giving no thought to using sunscreen, I stayed in the sun uncomfortably long. I look like crispy bacon, almost as crispy as the barbarque food I enjoyed.

Hope everyone is enjoying the weather!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Queen Parting Gift To Brown

Brown's parting gift from the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh: signed photographs of the royal couple in leather frames bought from Smythson, the Mayfair store that employs Samantha Cameron as its creative director.
I wonder if her Majesty was dabbling in a little politics there. Surely not, it must just be one of those coincidences in life.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

New Labour Leadership Contest Underway

So the spectacle of the Labour Party electing a new leader starts. First up is David "Banana Man" Miliband, he hopes the leadership contest would be "open, warm, generous, comradely". Indeed, I'm sure that's what it will be David.

Gordon Brown Has Gone - Cameron Next PM

So Britain has a Lib - Con government and David Cameron as Prime Minster. I've held off posting as I wanted to see the terms of this coalition before writing about it, as they say the devil is in the detail.

Reading through it, I'm quite surprised by how much the Tories have compromised, though a few obligatory and traditional Tory policies. It is a fair balance between the two manifestos. I'm certainly very happy with the civil liberties section, would be happier still, if David Davies was Home Secretary rather than Theresa May, yet I feel fairly comfortable that any illiberal views she may have, won't be supported by this coalition. Most surprising though is how amicable it all seems, perhaps I've gotten too used to seeing politicians squabbling like children.

Yet does this deal mark more than the first between the two parties, does it mark the decline of the Labour Party? If they do pull this off, the Tories could shed the nasty party image, they could move out of the shadow of Thatcher, the Lib Dems will have time in office and a higher profile from that. So where does that leave Labour?

As I watched 13 years of New Labour draw to a close yesterday, I felt a mix of feelings - relief, joyful, happy, elated and a little shocked. Yet I do feel a sense of apprehension about what lays in front of us. I'm certainly not over joyed with Cameron as PM, yet I hope the sting of a Tory government will be damped by the Lib Dems. Only time will time however just who's interest they have and really what kind of government they are. Watching Clegg's speech today though, I admit, a smile crept across my face and a sense of hope I haven't felt about politics in a long time surfaced, just a little though.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

And So We Wait . . . ..

Monday, 10 May 2010

Gordon Brown To Resign

Gordon Brown has announced he will resign as Labour leader, I, as I'm sure many will rejoice the era of Brown and Blair has gone. That is after all the back stabbing, the leader contest will bring. Yet in resigning Brown has lit the fuse to talks between the Lib Dems and Labour. I truly hope the Lib Dems don't cut off their nose to spite their face. As this looks like it's descending into chaos - no one knows who will be the next leader of the Labour party, yet again they will be "unelected" and to save us from the instability of a minority government, they will give us a minority coalition.

Oh well, let's just savour the moment. Gordon Brown is being thrown to the back benches of good bye political career, so long and thanks for all the fish.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

After The Election

I've been looking over the results to find some sort of pattern to them, there are some striking wins and swings. It seems an election fought very much on local and MP issues/expenses. There's little pattern to it outside of that, other than it being clear everyone lost, but some more so than others. A few big Labour names have gone - Jacqui Smith and Charles Clarke. Caroline Lucas, a Green MP makes a welcome addition to parliament. But most striking for me is how much divergence there is between the vote share and seat numbers:

Tories 36% of vote, 49% of the seats
Labour 29% of vote, 42 % of the seats
Lib Dem; 23% of vote, 9% of the seats

That is ridiculous. They speak of making parliament representative of the public with regard to gender and ethnicity. What about getting the basics right first, just simply reflecting how people vote.

Cameron is asking the Lib Dems to form a coalition with him, so far talks seem amicable and I would even go so far to say mature. I hope that it develops into something productive. As democratic and stable won't be a coalition between Labour and the Lib Dems, it will need to also include the nationalist parties, and what will there support cost? Ring fencing national budgets, leaving the UK in a position where England will be the only part of the country filling the black hole of debt. Not too mention it leaves Gordon Brown clinging to power by the fingernails he doesn’t have. That isn't workable.

Though I understand the reluctance/hostility/distrust both the Lib Dems and Tories feel towards this coalition. This is the hand that's been dealt and though there is a lot of difference between the two parties on social issues, there is overlap with regard to civil liberties, the role of the state, economy and the environment. It can only be a good thing for Britain that the Tories have the social conscience of the Lib Dems.

My Election Bet Results

As an update on my betting post, I am a loser. My bets largely centred on the Lib Dem vote having some weight and at the very least not dropping. That's not what happened. I lost all the money I made on the leaders debates and the credit in my Ladbrokes piggy bank is 50p. Let that be a lesson to all!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Election Night!

I'm seated on my sofa, surrounded by M&M's, crisps and ginger beer, tucked up in my duvet with a laptop and ashtray within easy reach. For ease I'll be updating this post, up until my snacks run out.

So far the exit poll predicts the Tories with the most seats in a hung parliament and the Lib Dems having less seats than the last election - Con 305 Lab 255 Lib 61 Others 29 - I can't see that being right. Party because it goes in the face of the polls, but also from what I'm hearing on the news about different seats across England, it sounds like people have been tactically voting on a large scale. What enforces this idea for me is, the polling stations that have been having a problems with voting are in Lib Dem and Labour constituencies.

Update 1:15ish - The seats declared so far have been largely Labour safe seats, they show a swing to the Tories of 8-10%. These are rock solid Labour seats in the North of England. The Tories making inroads should really worry Labour. That percentage has also been echoed in Lab - Con marginals, the first Lib - Con marginal shows no gain in vote for the Tories. The results on Lab - Lib marginals will hopefully start to show what's happening to the Lib Dem vote.

Update 1:30ish - A lot of talk about Labour forming a coalition with Lib Dems. That is incredible from Labour, Brown didn't face an election in 2005, he didn't face an election to be party leader and then in the face of election defeat, they're talking about holding on to power with an even smaller mandate. I truly hope Lib Dems don't entertain this nonsense.

Update 2:40ish - Lembit Opik has lost his seat to the Tories, wouldn't have guess that happening, his seat was one of the safest. Tories are making gains off Labour, the pattern to the swing however is strange at the moment. It could be just once in the polling station people placed their vote for one of the two main parties.

My snacks have almost all been eaten, so I'm off to bed, see what tomorrow holds.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

My Vote is For

After much thought, I will be voting for Lib Dems on May 6th, even though my constituently leans towards being a Tory safe seat. For me that's always been a problem. The previous MP just took it for granted that people would vote Tory and put his feet up in-between elections, in fairness it must have been tiring, after spending large amounts of taxpayers money. Thus my vote will go some way to making this seat less safe and more accountable.

Tactically having the Lib Dems in opposition or working with the Tories, would cover the worries that I have about the Conservatives with regard to social issues, economic unfairness and non progressive policy. Certainly I see it being in my interest as a gay woman, to have a socially liberal party either working to influence the Tories or opposing them. Not because I think the Tories will roll back any gay rights legislation, I don't think they will. More that I doubt such a minority of people will be high on there list of considerations. The religious vote is bigger and more blue rosette wearing.

But more important for me and central to my choice, what a wonderful thing it would be, to show them who's parliament it really is, not Labours or any parties, but the peoples. I gladly place my vote for the change the Lib Dems could bring.

General Election Prediction 2010

It's very difficult to predict this election, polls are like a boat on a stormy sea, moving back and forth, up and down. In some ways it hangs on Labour's core vote being motivated to go out on the 6th. If the bottom drops out of their base vote, much like the EU elections, they could lose very badly indeed. Also the Lib Dem factor here is unknown, though clearly support has risen, will that translate into seats? As the Lib Dems are at a disadvantage to start with, they have the least amount of seats and much ground to cover.

It has become clear that Labour are going to lose, so the question is how badly? On the bases that Labours core vote sits on their hands or protest votes, a Tory win with a small majority of 10 to 20 seats. If they don't, still Tories, but with minority government, so hung parliament. If it's small enough the Tories may form a coalition with the nationalist parties. If not they'll form with the Lib Dems. I don't see the Lib Dems forming a coalition with Labour to keep the Tories out, that wouldn't be very liberal at all.

It's odd for me as someone who isn't an aligned voter, as a tribal political attitude could be what this election hangs on. I have never understood voting for 'X' party out of loyalty. My Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather (etc) vote was there own, not mine. Which is frustrating, this election result might, just might, lead to the biggest change in British politics for a 100 years. It also be the last Westminster election fought under first-past-the-post. If Labour poll 3rd but get more seats than the Lib Dems or the Tories form a government with less than 40% of the vote, it's hard to see just how there isn't a very strong argument for changing the way we vote.

Yet what stands between that is the question - how loyal will people be?

Monday, 3 May 2010

Bets For The General Election

My betting for this election is centred around a few Ladbrokes specials and constituency winners. They are:

Brighton Pavilion - A seat likely to be the Greens first Westminster win, but I've bet Tory in case the left vote gets split between Labour, Lib Dems and Greens. Tories do have a base vote here which could win out.

Hammersmith - My girlfriends constituency who doesn't like the Tories. So I've bet on a Tory win. Also given the Lib Dems were good odds and my own domestic bliss, I placed a small outsider bet on them too.

Harrow West - The seat next door to Tony "my parents live in my second home" McNulty, only a small swing needed for the Tories to win it. Doubt Labour can keep hold of it, with the bad press/expenses mess etc.

Newcastle East - This could be a close call between Labour and Lib Dems, I'm betting on a Lib Dems gain. Lib Dems are polling well in the North East.

Northampton North - A Lib Dem target seat and if the Lib Dems surge translates to votes, a winnable one. So I've bet on a Lib Dem gain.

1 Cabinet Minster to lose there seat - There are a few former Minsters looking vulnerable - Alistair Darling, Jim Knight and Sadiq Khan. Jim Knight being the most likely to lose his seat.

Lastly Tory Targets Special - How far down this list do you go before finding a seat the Tories will win?

Birmingham Hall Green
St Ives
Sunderland Central
Birmingham Erdington
Norwich South
Hampstead & Kilburn
Brighton Pavilion
Morley & Outwood
Edinburgh South West
Dagenham & Rainham
Richmond Park
Luton South
Croydon Central

I've bet on the ones in bold. The first certain Tory seat is Broxtowe the others could go Tory as a backlash against Labour. So I've put small bet's on them as a just in case.

I will be spending my winnings on dining out and I will raise a glass to New Labour, how sweet that beer will taste. So fingers crossed.

Update: Forgot to add the bet I placed months ago, Nigel Farage to win the Buckingham seat against the Speaker - John Bercow won't be standing as a Tory candidate in a very conservative area, as he has done before, but as Speaker of the House of Commons. That will be like campaigning with terrible BO and food stuck in your teeth. It's certainly worth a little bet, given it would the biggest one finger salute the public have given parliament in modern history. How could I resit?

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Election Week Four - Borish

This week was largely uneventful until a pensioner wielding a set of questions set the media alight, the Lib Dem surge has been capping off over the course of the week, the last Leaders Debate filled in a lot of the time and the Labour party for-filled the promise of substance over style by inviting Peppa Pig to a political launch. Other news bits.

* The Guardian newspaper came out in support of the Lib Dems stating that - "if it had a vote it would be cast enthusiastically for the Liberal Democrats." The significance of this move is adding to the sense that Labour is finished. It's the first time the Guardian have supported anyone other than Labour since 1983.

* Those cutting edge animators for Taiwan news, have created an re-enactment of 'Bigotgate'. Nice touch having the thought bubbles and microphone that looks like a detonator.

* Brown continues to be heckled, the heckler in question protested that: "Mr Brown needs to see real electors, not just hand-picked people." While being promptly removed from the room, how New Labour. Though in fairness if he had been old and unable defend him self they wouldn't have taken it so easy on him.

* Ed Ball's re-election is looking a tough fight. The Ashcroft Tories pounds are making it very difficult for him.

* In light of the Tories talking of withdrawing from Afghanistan there is an interesting article over on the the NY Times. The Pentagon reports on progress there every few months to Congress.

The closing days of the election will be chaotic, with all the parties fighting for attention like demanding children. With Labour polling what must be almost there base vote and Brown visiting Labour safe seats, suggesting that they've pretty much given up and are limiting the damage. The Tories are making inroads in the polls, the question is whether they can capitalise on that.

General Election Party Policy and Voting

For those unsure of how to vote on May 6th, though there are far too many policies for me to summarise them on this blog, the BBC have put together a handy guide to party policies. You can also answer questions about different policies and find a closest vote match at - Vote for policies - which include all the parties rather than just the three main.

If you want to tactically vote - look up the constituently you live in and the likelihood of which party wining it at this election at Election Calculus. Unsure what your constituency is? Look it up at election maps.

Whatever way you choose to place your vote, there are always people to vote for, independents, none of the above parties and of course the three main ones. So use your vote and have your say.

Happy voting!

Update: All the finial polls can be seen over on Political Betting, if anyone would rather tactically vote according what's happening nationally.

Also you can look up your constituency on Wikipedia to see who's standing in advance.

Poltical Posters Labour and Tory - Part 5

These should be the last couple of posters released. Labour have left there's quite late.

Labour's new poster launched to the sound of a car crashing, I'm sure no reflection on them at all. It's colourful and positive, unlike Gordon Brown at the last debate. Given lowering education standards, I wonder how old the child is though?

It makes the Labour Party look like the family party, a good tactic. Simple and too the point, just not very original. They have played it very safe.

Another Tory poster released to strike fear into people and yes we know you want to win Dave, don't need to rub it in.

Just a bit of hung parliament scaremongering. A waste of paper and I thought the Tories were Green?

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Leader Debate Bet's

Ladbrokes have expanded and improved last weeks betting on - what will they say at the leaders debate? Much more interesting betting and I must say, makes watching it so much more fun. I won last week after placing a bet on "volcanic ash", thanks to Clegg. This week the debate is on the economy, jobs, debt and the recession. I'm betting on:

Bankers Bonuses - I can't see any leader not wanting to say something about bankers, given public contempt. Not terribly good odds but seems very likely.

Tory Cuts - This is Brown's favourite line, it's like a default setting for him.

Hard working families - Cameron's favourite phrase at the moment, as he looks directly at camera.

Five more years of Gordon Brown - The Tories have been pushing this line in their campaigning, "Britain can't afford 5 more years of Gordon Brown." In a debate of this kind it's a good line to use.

No more boom and bust - Brown will be defending his record as Chancellor and PM, given he has said this on many occasions, it's a good line to use against him.

Fingers crossed.

Update: I won two "Bankers Bonuses" and "Hard working families". Brown unfortunately kept saying "Conservative Cuts" and Cameron "13 years of Gordon Brown and this government". So not quite.

Brown Calls Voter "Bigoted Woman"

Labours political poster was too temping not to parody.

This story will have some legs, as it's the worse possible thing Brown could have done. It's the contrast between the tough on immigration public face, it's that she disagreed with him and he reacted like that, it's blaming someone else, it's not wanting to engage with her and it's too easily labelling someone bigoted for raising immigration. All these things go together to make this a very damning two minutes for Brown, as it plays to all of those images presented by others.

So much too for meeting "real people", perhaps not such a good idea.

Update: Paul Waugh has a very good post on his blog, he's from Rochdale and gives a context to Ms Duffy's comments.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Election Week Three - Chicken and Egg

I've posted this slightly later than intended, as the weather has been so nice and I live in fear of this being the only sunshine we see all year. But last week was dominated by a vindictive backlash against the Lib Dems in the papers, the 2nd debate that was meant to be about international affairs, but ended up very similar to the first debate, scaremongering about hung parliaments and Brown going off the media/public radar. Outside of that.

* David Cameron not only ripped the head off a man in a chicken suit, but he was egged in the street. Campaigning certainly can be a bit of a freak show at times.

* Wonder why Blair has been quiet? Every giant ash cloud of death has a sliver lining, he's stranded in Israel.

* Brown responded to criticism of his election campaign being slow, sluggish and pretty non existent by - inviting an Elvis impersonator to sing "The Wonder of You". Yes, Suspicious Minds will be pushed aside by that stunt. I can't help but think though - Elvis has left the planet, Brown was never on it.

* In light of my lateness of posting a bonus point. What happens in the event of a hung parliament? Anthony Wells over on UK polling has a very interesting post which answers that question.

Polls are mixed at the end of the week. Enforcing the notion that this is going to be a very unpredictable election and a polling roller-coaster right up until votes are cast. Largely because you can't account for people's anger, apathy and distaste with political parties at the moment.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Earthquakes Caused By Promiscuous Women

An Iranian cleric has said:
Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes.
Wow, I never knew my V neck top could cause such problems. I always thought earthquakes were caused by the movement of the earth's tectonic plates. How laughable of me. This could even challenge the notion that the earth is round.

Political Posters - Greens and Tories - Part 4

This is one of a series of posters the Greens have launched along with just about every on-line feature they could think of. Greens have a faction of the budget that Tories and Co have. Yet it really doesn't show. Nice stylish posters with a clear message, that surprisingly isn't negative. Good use of their money.

This was released before the Leaders debate in Manchester. The photo is of Labour minions, as they open the door for their glorious leader, head bowed, eyes downward.

The photo itself is eye rolling and comical. Though it doesn't work as a poster, a better idea would have been an on-line caption contest. It's ideal to spread around the web and mock.

This was released in the South West, a homage to the great cider tax uprising of April'10. Nice pun with the "cider you on", see what they doing there.

Targeted approach to using posters and witty. I don't know the strength of feeling towards cider in the South West, given Labour backed down. It's likely to be a strong poster for that region.

You can't help but be overwhelmed by just how much money the Tories have and are throwing at this election. These posters mark a change in tact since the Lib Dem surge. They're gone for populist policy statements, rather than attacks just on Brown and Labour government record. The picture is of Dave with his shirt sleeves rolled up, he means business, he means to get those lazy job dodges off their asses, no more daytime TV chaps, you won't be able to afford that wide screen TV once Dave has finished with you.

This will no doubt go down well with their core vote and tap into the disenchantment with the welfare state. It's a vote winning statement, yet it does run the risk of starting to look like the same old Tories.

Also just released, one of a series of phone box posters, which is a very different tact to the one above, a bit off brand too. I'm guessing this is attempting to appeal to the fluffy leftie arty types? I would never have guessed it was a Tory poster, which is why it doesn't work.

The Giant Volcanic Cloud of Ash

Putting aside the panic, stranded Brits and Royal Navy, how amazing are the pictures of the volcano. It looks like armageddon.

Also Carol Ann Duffy has written a wonderful poem about the silence in the sky.


Five miles up the hush and shush of ash,

Yet the sky is as clean as a white slate —

I could write my childhood there.

Selfish to sit in this garden, listening to the past

(A gentleman bee wooing its flower, a lawnmower)

When the grounded planes mean ruined plans,

Holidays on hold, sore absences at weddings, funerals ...
wingless commerce.

But Britain’s birds sing in this spring

From Inverness to Liverpool, from Creith to Cardiff,

Oxford, Londontown, Land’s End to John O’Groats.

The music’s silent summons,

That Shakespeare heard and Edward Thomas and, briefly, us.

You can hear her read it here.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Labour 3rd - Lib Dems Flying

What a poll.

Tory 33% (-4)
Lib Dems 30% (+8)
Labour 28% (-4)

Other polls released after, show this to be not just a one off. It's a wonderful thought that politics could change this much. Not just the switch back and forth between Tory and Labour, but a fundamental shift in politics. That's really inspiring to me, because it's democracy in action, something I unapologetically believe in.

Yet it's worrying on another account, at these figures it would make Labour the winner in a hung parliament. Brown still in charge even though he is 3rd. The very notion that the electorate could vote for change and get Brown, could be a very divisive non victory.

Which is what this boost hangs on - if people all the way to the voting booth, believe that voting Lib Dem would make a difference, we could really see an amazing election. If however by voting Lib Dem people think it could end with Brown, they will vote tactically. That tactical "anything but Brown" vote has been the one persistent element to the polls. More persistent than Brown weathering coups.

So let's see if it's sustainable. Certainly making for an interesting election.

Election week two - Sanctimony

Most of this week has been dominated by the build up to the leaders debate, the leaders debate itself, the Lib Dems surge off the back of it, parties side swiping at each other, while saying they don't do negative campaigning and of course the launching of manifestos. Outside of that:

* Brown and Cameron agree to a Paxman grilling interview, Clegg has of course already done one. Have I said how much I love Paxman? What's not to love? Cynical, gumpy and serious about M&S pants.

* Cameron launched the Tory manifesto quoting JFK. To which David Miliband said:
The words may be John F Kennedy but the policies are pure George W Bush.
We'll let slide the utter hypocrisy of a New Labour bushy poodle making such a statement.

* Brown said he may have had a part to play in this recession. Saying in an interview:
[In 1997 the banks] all came to us and said, 'look, we don't want to be regulated, we want to be free of regulation'.

All the complaints I was getting from people was, 'look, you're regulating them too much'. The truth is that globally and nationally we should have been regulating them more.

So I've learnt from that. You don't listen to the industry when they say, 'this is good for us'. You've got to talk about the whole public interest.
Oh the realisation........ that's what the government is meant to do, govern for the people who elect them. Who would have thought?

Friday, 16 April 2010

The Leaders Debate

I was one of the nine million who tuned into this spectacle last night, my overwhelming thought was that it went on far too long, almost slipped into a coma once the repetition of soundbites began. On the performance of the leaders though:

Clegg came over very well, he won that easily. One answer I really liked from him was on elderly care, it's so nice to hear the notion that you should/can put people above politics to reach a cross party consensus. I've said before on this blog, that there should be areas that politicians don't involve themselves in, but come to an agreement then just leave it alone, heath care is the one I feel very strongly about. So I echo the sentiment around the web, I agree with Nick.

Cameron wasn't too bad, though surprisingly not that good either, being on the defensive doesn't suit him, he seemed very ill at ease. His opening and closing statement though were the most refined and sharpest. He just really didn't pose a challenge or make a mark in the debate itself, he ended up eclipsed by Nick Clegg.

Brown clearly had a few well rehearsed lines and jokes to deliver. Which he did seamlessly, I'm sure no one noticed. Just as trying to embrace the unwilling Lib Dem leader went unnoticed. At no point did I think I was watching Brokeback Mountain. Not even when Brown lent forward, gazing at Clegg, while smiling and biting his lower lip, before looking up to say - "I agree with Nick".

General consensus today is that Clegg won the debate. If he can capitalise on this interest, it will make the forthcoming election harder to call, by pushing it into a hung parliament territory. Certainly the other parties are getting concerned. Yet Clegg is in the wonderful position that in the event of a hung parliament, it is he who the others will look to in order to form a government. That makes him very difficult to attack.

Labours Censorship Of Comments

I was watching Labours animated manifesto on Youtube and was struck by the statement, "we like people with opinions" within their "active democracy" section. So I thought I would test this, I posted a comment:
So you plan to do in 5 years what you promised to do in the last 13, with no money, only debt you've created. That sounds so achievable.
It may surprise you to know it was rejected. I tried another tac:
It's nice to see a policeman on the beat . . . . . . for once.
Nope, another:
Boom and bust, where art thou?
Then another:
Please amend the dialogue to say "we like people with our opinions".
Interestingly other political parties don't censor their comments, seeming to understand that not everyone will agree with you. Yet to take away the voice and criticisms of those that don't, while I hasten to add, inviting comment, is far worse in the long run for democracy, tempers and debate.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Labour Election Manifesto

New Labour shines it's atomic ray's upon the nuclear active family.
Labour Manifesto
Manifesto - [man-uh-fes-toh] - noun - A document that political parties release, which promises you something for your vote. Yet changes at will when they are elected. See bribery.

Update - Another Cover.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Election Week One - In My Bag Is

An interesting week, if somewhat tedious, full of grinning politicians and glaring Gordon. I'll be doing this weekly post up to election day, essentially reading the news so you don't have to. It's a thankless task at the moment.
  • The Digital Economy Bill was thrust through parliament, with little debate. Quite why it couldn't be scrutinised by the next parliament, given the concessions made by minsters. i.e restrictions on the activities of persistent copyright offenders will not come into force for a year. Instead indicative of New Labour, it was ushered along with little regard for due process. Finish how you started then. Its about the only consistent thing New Labour have done. Shamefully undemocratic and draconian.
  • Brown spent some time this week promoting the utopian crime free future of a DNA state. The wonderful Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, challenged him:
    It has been suggested that the tragic case of Sally Anne Bowman was only solved because her murderer was 'an innocent' on the database. In fact, he was arrested for a separate violent offence and it was then that his DNA was matched to the crime scene.
So taking the DNA of those convicted or arrested for crimes worked then? Who would have thought that if you had a targeted approach to collecting or retaining DNA, rather than an indiscriminate approach, it could be affective.
    • Tories have pledged to erase the historic convictions of all those found guilty of consensual gay sex. This is with regard to several changes to the law over the years, yet due to that not being retroactive, there are people who have criminal records for homosexuality. This is a good idea, to tar people as a sex offender for having a consensual relationship, is just disgraceful. Though I don't imagine it being a large amount of people, it's the right, fair and just thing to do for them. I at last give my full support to a Tory policy.
    • Jack Straw will face the mother of Gary McKinnon as she stands as a candidate for his Blackburn seat. She's wants to protest against Labour's erosion of civil liberties and the extradition treaty with the US. Good luck to Janis Sharp, though I don't imagine for a moment she will win, it will lead to some very uncomfortable moments for Jack Straw. Priceless.
    Lastly, there were a lot of pledges in theory, smiles, staged photo shoots and "we will consider that" responses from the party leaders. Nothing new, other this pushing of the political wife into the limelight. Which has been nauseating.

    Political Posters - Lib Dems, Labour and Tory - Part 3

    • The Tories - "Clumsy Brown"
    The Tories proudly launched this one with the announcement of NI reduction. Two giant boots about to crush the first shoots of recovery by taxing jobs, yet another tax on those who have been prudent, unlike Gordon Brown, as he stumps on the first signs of hope we've seen in months and months.

    More doom and gloom from the Tories, who would have thought it. Pushing this angle seems to be about making Labour look like the tax raisers. A good tactic, as no one wants to pay more tax, in that respect it gets their message across.
    • The Tories - "I took everything from you voter"

    One of a series of smug smiling Gordon posters, were he states he took your pensions, caused record youth unemployment, doubled national debt and increased the gap between rich and poor. Thanks Gordon, that will look great on your CV.

    I like these posters, very direct, non apologetic and to the point. Great way to use a political poster.

    • Lib Dems - "The atomic bomb of tax"

    This poster looks familiar. Parodying posters can work well if drawing parallels. The original poster was from the 1992 general election, an interesting link being made there. Given Major was trying to get elected in the context of a bitter recession brought on by a housing bubble and burdened by an unpopular predecessor, some would say evil predecessor. Labour, led by Neil Kinnock, was largely back in the mainstream, after being in the wilderness for years and were doing well in the polls, until the "we're alright" incident. Of course unless you are a political geek, this isn't what will spring to mind, "duck and cover" will be the lingering thought as you throw your self to the ground.

    This just feels like the Lib Dems jumping on the negative bandwagon. It also feels lazy. The poster isn't iconic enough to really make the link and it goes against the grain of the message they're carving out below.

    • Lib Dems - "Labservative"

    This is a quirky animation and an interesting line from the Lib Dems. Labour and Tories are one and the same, even branding them "Labservative", which though a bit gimmicky, is a good way of expressing this point easily. It also turns the tables on the comment echoed frequently, that a vote for Lib Dems is a wasted vote, by saying you are wasting your vote for the status quo. I like it very much, a strong message well conveyed.

    • Labour - "Ashes to ashes, funk to funky"

    Labour did an on-line campaign for supporters to come up with a poster, dubbing it the "peoples poster". Which was a great idea to get their core voters involved and utilised the internet. Though it ended up very partisan, and an own goal when the Tories started tic for tac. As the chosen poster isn't very strong, it doesn't make Cameron look bad. It's like dressing him as Adam Ant and saying, "don't take us back to the 80s". Though their are some that would get on their knees and pray that 80s music doesn't make a come back, along with poodle perms. Most would remiss with watering eyes, while raising their arms in the air one at a time, humming "prince charming, prince charming". A wasted opportunity and we do have to be-careful of copyright, don't we Gordon?

    Saturday, 10 April 2010

    The Grand National 2010 Bets

    I love a bet, and the mother of all bet's the Grand National is irresistible. My bets for this years race are to win or place:

    Niche Market

    Comply or Die

    My outsider bets are:

    Dream Alliance - More sentimental reasons for placing a bet, I found it such a sweet story.

    Character Building - Who is being ridden by female jockey Nina Carberry. She could make Grand National history by being the first woman to win it. I happily place a bet on that.

    Fingers crossed and good luck to all.

    Update - The winners were (not me!)

    1. Don't Push It
    2. Black Apalachi
    3. State of Play
    4. Big Fella Thanks

    Wednesday, 7 April 2010

    The First Heckle

    Day 2 of the election and there it is the first heckle. I did like the part about thinking Gordon wanted to talk to the public. Only Sir if you intend to say a planted question, are a Labour activist and have been frisked.

    Tuesday, 6 April 2010

    Election Called!

    At last, bring on the election! Expect to see lots of baby kissing, manic smiles, many promises, Lord Mandleson and embarrassing moments from the main leaders, all the way to the polling station. Also expect every time any policy is mentioned, for Labour grab their calculators and start adding up to complain that it doesn't add up.

    Most importantly though at long last, we get our say, we get to shape a mandate, we get a voice. I'm really looking forward to using mine.

    Sunday, 4 April 2010

    I'm Coming Out!

    Me, your wonderful host

    I've written, deleted and rewritten this post several times, wondering what I should say and whether I wanted to say those two words "I'm gay". I decided that since I've recently came out to my family, by writing this for me I can be open in all parts of my life, it also explains somewhat my distraction of late. For others it may help to understand that journey you go through to open the closet door, at best it may help someone who hasn't come out take that step. So where to start on what is the most personal post I've written?

    I recently came out to my family, I'm 28 which certainly would fall short of government targets if they should be some on "closest opening". Oddly though from my experience within the LGBT community it's not a late age. I've always thought that things would have been so much easier if thinking back to my youth every image, every message and every narrative wasn't that a relationship is between a man and a woman. If "gay" wasn't just a word people used to insult, yet weren't quite sure what it was all about and neither were you. Which is always what I think of when people speak of "gay indoctrination", they don't stop to consider the reverse of that. Yet it is never indoctrination to present different views, it's education. Which is never something that society should fear.

    For me getting to this point was a slow realisation, steps forward, backward and burying my head in the sand for long periods. Largely because I started on the principle that I was straight. Yet when you don't feel like your friends about the cute guy, when you wonder why the orchestrator isn't playing or you feel self conscious about listening to KD Lang, these just reinforce the thoughts in your mind that something is different. The best way I can express that process you go through is, it's like different levels of consciousness. Akin to recalling a dream or your eyes adjusting to the dark. You see just small parts until you have enough information to see the bigger picture. Certainly being gay is something I feel I have accepted about myself, not chosen to be.

    Coming out turned out to be such a tiny moment in my life, yet you enviably build it in your mind to be such a huge thing, because it is to you. So many of your thoughts are filled with trying to put an answer to all those questions and feelings you have, then you think about just how you bring up the subject of being gay, what you say, how you say it, anger that you have to say it. Then there's the thought that you know, that when you say it out loud, you won't be the same person to some people, you know you will spend your life having to come out, as the word partner can only get used so many times. All these things combine make it a mountain that you look upon and feel intimidated by.

    Yet I've learnt a lot from my experience, I learnt just how alone you can feel being gay and from that just how important having a community and support is. When your family and friends usually aren't gay being apart of something bigger becomes a life line to you. I learnt that my family are completely wonderful and I shouldn't have doubted them. I learnt that my girlfriend is the best thing that's ever happened to me. But most importantly I learnt what real happiness is. I learnt that when I stopped being caged by the truth.

    Thursday, 1 April 2010

    Rail Strike Plans Cancelled By Court

    I always have mixed feelings about strikes. I do feel it's very important that workers can stand up to their employers, regardless of the company being small, big, private or public. Unions of course are a prefect way to do this, as they are a collective voice. Yet the main gripe for many, is that people are so heavily reliant on public transport to get to work, with the current climate everyone is fearful of their job. So there's an element of inflicting misery on others about striking.

    Yet the rights or wrongs of the rail strike isn't what raised my eyebrow. What did was just how easily their action was brushed aside by the courts. If a collective group have such little room to stand up, what about the individual? That's somewhat concerning.

    Wednesday, 31 March 2010

    You Are Not Welcome

    Brown gave a speech today about immigration, in his speech he warned against scaremongering and urged an "united front" among the main parties to combat xenophobia. Saying that "how we conduct this debate is as important as the debate itself." In that same speech he said:
    To those migrants who think they can get away without making a contribution; without respecting our way of life; without honouring the values that make Britain what it is - I have only one message - you are not welcome.
    Well, why not just grab a pitch fork? Someone has been reading the BNP's guide to immigration. It's like "British jobs for British workers". Just how is that helpful from a government? You would like to think this "debate" could rise above, you're not welcome or go home. Lest we forget who lit the fuse over out of control immigration with their policy to begin with.

    As although there were people who could have filled many of the jobs immigrates have taken, it was easier and cheaper, due to minimal wage, to fill those vacancies with workers from abroad. As a result the unemployed have been left on benefits, people have seen a shift in their communities in a short space of time, along with a shortage of resources.

    Not really able to take seriously a government that has ignored peoples fears until this late moment and on the eve of an election. All while patting themselves on the back over their policy. Selectively glossing over that, if current policy was working would we have BNP members elected to local councils or Europe?

    Sunday, 28 March 2010

    Time To End The 'Special Relationship'

    It took a report by the "Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee" to conclude what we all knew already. That for Britain it's more a "special friendship", where one partner gets to see other people, have no commitment and yet call up for a bootie call. It's amazing it took a committee to conclude that.

    What made the "Special Relationship" work was Britain's relationship with the rest of the world and the rest of the world's belief that Britain would council America not to do stupid things. Blair destroyed that position giving support to Bush, he made Britain a lap dog in the eye's of the world. In doing that he undermined what made the "Special Relationship" work. He made it just a term that people snigger at.

    At least we won't hopefully have to hear all about the "Special Relationship" any more, while watching MPs falling over themselves, grinning like a manic and repeating creepily the declaration that they're special, so very special, over and over again like Gollum without a comb over.

    Covering Up Abuse In The Catholic Church

    Paedophilia is a "grave sin" the catholic church teaches, so grave accused priests were moved to another parish, while paperwork was buried. Just how many abuses must be reported before they stop being above the law? If you abuse a child you commit a criminal offence and you should face prosecution. It's beyond the pale that the church was not only more concerned for their reputation than protecting children, but church law is still in play with these cases. They are crimes, those priests should be put on trial, not prayed for.

    Wednesday, 24 March 2010

    Election Pre Budget

    Never before has a chancellor said so little in so many words. T'is the season though, which is why it was far better to kick the Tories, than come up with a credible plan to pay off £167bn of debt.

    The BBC have a handy summary of the key budget points. Must remember to buy a couple packs of cigarettes and a bottle of cider before Sunday.

    Emmeline Pankhurst

    I'm currently reading the biography of Emmeline Pankhurst and came across this wonderful photograph of her. She's being arrested after leading a protest to parliament, armed with a rolled resolution for women's suffrage and a few lilies of the valley. What really strikes me about it is, the look on her face, such pride and defiance.
    We are here, not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers.
    Wonderful, I hope I always look as proud on my way to vote.