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.