Friday, 21 November 2014

Rochester and Strood by-election results

Well, after a very long night and a couple of hours snatched sleep I thought I’d write about what the heck happened yesterday.

Firstly the UKIP victory in the Parliamentary By-election. To be honest it was no big surprise. A month ago when it was announced there was a belief that it was all flash in the pan and that Mark Reckless would be handed an embarrassing defeat at the hands of his former masters or even Labour.

As the time has gone on the amount of UKIP activists, doners and support has grown (or been bussed in) and Rochester has been worked hard. This was met by the Tories and Labour who have had MP after MP down and even the Prime Minister. This was never going to be a normal election.

Ultimately the majority attained was nothing to significant. With a turnout of over 50% Mark only managed to get a majority of 3000 over Kelly Tolhurst (his majority back in 2010 was 10,000). The Tories were celebrating this last night. They know that come May when UKIP will be spreading their activists and money over a larger area of North Kent, especially if Farage is going to stand in Thanet, that Mark will see this lead eroded.

What does this mean for Medway politics in the local election (held on the same day as the General)? Well it could lead to one of two outcomes.

The first is that this victory may buoy up the local party and they will make a valiant charge snapping up council seats drastically altering the shape of the local authority. This is their aim.

The second is that with the removal of resources could force them to make tough decisions. As Mark’s lead is fairly tenuous they may be forced to through what resources they have available to keep him at the cost of local councillors.

This of course is fairly hypothetical we’d have to see.

Needless to say that the Tories are stung and will be coming for them.

As will the Labour party. Naushaba Kahn fought a tough campaign with a lot of support from the local party and Westminster elect. If anything there was a belief that this was Labour's chance to regain the swing seat with the usual right of centre voters torn between UKIP and Tories.

Although they worked hard and attracted a lot of support they failed to make much of a media imprint and ultimately ended well shy of Mark scoring only 6.713 votes.

This has massive ramifications for Ed Miliband and the Labour party, not necessarily the hard working local party.

Labour's main definition at the moment is not the Coalition and let's face it the Tories (and we've signed off on them or are guilty by association) have pushed through some really nasty stuff - badger culls, ATOS, cuts to services, tuition fees... the list is exhaustive and all along, week after week we have to suffer Ed saying he and Labour would never agree to any of this and Ed Balls promising that Labour's economic plan (whatever it is) was much better.

With the extreme views of UKIP and the unpopularity of the  Conservative Government you would have thought the swing seat may have swung back to Labour. The fact it didn't suggests another two things.

The first that voters saw the Conservatives with Kelly Tolhurst's Local girl, local issues campaign as the best alternative and didn't want to split the anti UKIP vote or, and perhaps more alarmingly for Labour, that there is a serious problem with their message.

The whole situation must be even more concerning for the Conservatives. They threw the Kitchen sink at UKIP and although performed really well coming short by a small margin in both the parliamentary and the Hoo Peninsula ward by-election (Ron Sands (CON)  got 1965 against Chris Irvine's (UKIP) 2850) they still failed, despite the resources flung, to make it closer.

As I've said, this could be a temporary blip or it could be the opening of the flood gates. Already some of the old stalwart supporters of the Medway Conservatives have already jumped ship and it might be the beginning of a landslide. There is also a general malaise against the local Tories and should UKIP erupt like a tumour with a handful of Tory Councillors going purple between now and May it could change the face of Medway's Council.

Now with heavy heart I turn to the Libdem result.  It looks awful. Geoff Juby got under 1% in the parliamentary and I gained just over 1% in the Hoo by-election. Geoff's share of the vote collapsed by 15% of its 2010 share. It is being hailed as the worse performance of the Liberal Democrats in a By-election ever...

Now this will sound like a lot of excuses but here is the truth.

Geoff worked hard, and I mean damn hard with a dedicated team of local activists with a few visits from Westminster but this was not Eastleigh. This was not to be our battle ground, not a target seat this time around and Clegg et al did not appear with armies of Libdems busing in from across the country bank rolled by HQ and shadowy donors. This was a local battle led by a local candidate backed up by local activists.

This was always going to be a battle between the Tories and UKIP.

As for me. I am ecstatic about my 1% after all I did absolutely no canvassing or campaigning. Hoo was never a seat we could have won, nor did we have any presence out there. As many regular readers know my son was born on 10th October, had his first operation on 13th and I have been busy with my family settling in George. I'm amazed I got that many votes by doing nothing and I would like to thank everyone who did vote for me, next time will be definitely different.

The two great stories to come out of this election was firstly -

Britain first only got 56 votes. This, although depressing that they got more votes than some of the Independents is uplifting (I got more votes than them in one ward by election!!!) because even the Monster raving loony party did better than them! Truly a laughing stock.

The other is the results of the Green party. They fought a good campaign with a good candidate and scored a respectable fourth place with (1692 votes) in the parliamentary and local (314 votes). This was a great result for them and I've already sent my congratulations via Twitter.

Not to take anything away from them but the rise in support may be because they are now the non-UKIP protest party.  Ten years ago that was the Libdem party (though my Mum always voted Green!) but with the Coalition we've become part of the establishment so people tend to vote for a non-governmental party. If you don't want UKIP then the next best choice is Green. We could see some serious gains by the Greens next year if UKIP continue to develop in the towns.

I know a lot of this is all speculation bolstered with educated guesses but there is so much that could happen that at this moment in time (with four hours sleep) I'm not prepared to tie my colours to the mast until February or even April.


I will however close with a warning however to the other parties. The results of last night belay how strong we are in our wards, getting rid of the Libdems in Medway is going to be a tough proposition.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Imperial War Museum to close its library and sell collection

A story lost?
I may have mentioned in previous posts that this year is the Centenary of the start of World War One.

 This was a conflict that changed the world in many ways politically and socially but most of all it was responsible for the deaths of millions of young men across Europe.

The Imperial War Museum was established to tell the story of those who were sacrificed on the alter of Nationalism and in a fight against a perceived evil. This was done with exhibits and collecting a library of books, documents, photographs and sound recordings which have combined into a great resource.

I fear this blogpost might cost me my job or at least find me in a disciplinary but sometimes, just sometimes you should stand up for what you believe in and this is one of those times.

The Museum has been caught up in the cuts issued by Government and had to try and make savings where they can and have brought in someone to evaluate the operation and cut away dead wood.

Recently the Library has been identified as dead wood. As I understand it (I missed the meeting as I was on Paternity leave) the Library will be closed, the librarians let go and the books (not the documents, photos or Sound recordings) will be sold to other libraries and institutions. Basically scattered to the winds though this is under review as some books were donations.

For me, a historian and lover of books, this is an atrocity. The average person probably thinks; what's the big deal?

The big deal is that the collection is there to augment the galleries. In fact many people are now being directed to the new (Only a three or four years old) open library to look up answers to queries. It is also very popular (especially this year) and the amount of telephone enquires per day and walk in enquires is phenomenal. In the last year the museum was closed for six months whilst the refit carried on but the Library was open and attracted a roaring trade.

By closing the library and getting rid of this vital resource in favour of a website service is a massive disservice to the founding belief and purpose of the museum. 

Former Director General Dr Sir Alan Borg wrote;

As a former Director General of the Museum I am horrified by the suggestion that the Library might be closed and dispersed.

If you agree with him, and me please sign this petition to make them rethink.

Thank you.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Local business woman nominated for Active Training Awards!

Now for a slight oddity for this blog....

In local sports and fitness news, local dance and fitness instructor Gemma Quinnell of Gemma Quinnell's Health, Fitness and dance ltd has got through to the final four in the finals of the Active Training Awards Small training provider of the year.

This is a massive achievement for the Gillingham girl who has worked for years as a fitness instructor, choreographer and dancer here and abroad and also offers courses in dance and fitness for anyone who wants to pursue a career in these fields.

My courses are aimed at anyone who is serious about a career in the fitness or dance industries - whether they want to be a studio instructor, dance teacher, personal trainer to Pilates teacher or run sessions for children and more. I tailor my programmes for each individual or group and help with everything from business skills to marketing, social media, confidence building, breaking barriers, innovation and choreography.

I teach my learners the tools to be self-sufficient and start their own businesses or grow their business so they can be at the level they want to be at.

Having done this very successful locally herself Gemma knows what she is talking about and is passing her knowledge back and obviously very successfully. She first established her company a mere four months ago with start up money from Medway Council (£500) and moved her focus from dance classes to training.

With just over a fortnight to go I really wish Gemma all the luck and hope that all her hard work pays off.

If you're interested in Gemma's courses then do check out her website at ww.Gemmaquinnells.co.uk

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Britain First are Toxic and blight Rochester


I fear the days of Mosley are returning, at least to Rochester
As a liberal, and an opened minded person I firmly believe in the freedom of speech for all. This is tempered with the addendum that you can say what you want as long as it does not interfere with another person’s freedoms.

This said, I am horrified that Britain First have come to Rochester yet again.

Reports say 50 Britain First “activists” in uniformed dress arrived at Rochester railway station attempting to march up the High Street with Union Jacks unfurled but we’re held off by 100 odd locals chanting and the Kent Police line that was trying to defuse violence. As I write this, I understand the BF are back on the train to where ever they have come from and that Rochester is attempting to return to some semblance of order.

I am against any such “organisation” on so many principles.

Firstly the very name is prejudice. Britain First.

Britain is an artificially constructed country spurned on by English military might and economic superiority and based on genocide of the clans and forced assimilation. Britain is in the process of devolution and almost broke itself apart this year and only hung on by a small margin in Scotland.

The other thing is; define a Briton. How long must your family have lived on this island before you are classed as a Briton? Do you have to be a Christian (or non Muslim)? A similar situation grew up in 20s Germany with a certain party saying that Germany was for the Germans and that non-Germans should be expelled or if they remained had rights withdrawn from them and well… we all know how that ended!

Britain is no longer an Imperial power that can dictate world policy, nor is it a homogenously (or majority) white Christian nation of Britons. As the Empire collapsed we have attracted former subjects who wanted to come to the mother land. As we became one with the post War Europe we attracted migrants to our shores, not just as “benefit tourists” but as people who wanted to flee oppression from the Soviets or dictators or came to forge a better life in a land of opportunity for them and their families much as many did to America. Some of them served in the British armed forces to defeat the Nazis but did not or could not return to the Eastern bloc as they had been over run by the Russians – what more do they need to do to be accepted? They are part of us now, second and third generations living in Britain as part of our society.

I thought I may have been overly judgemental so I checked out their Twitter and Facebook page and immediately wished I hadn’t.

Just check out this post….
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=650218521790079

It made my blood run cold.

The labels being thrown around, Liberals, Transsexuals, Communists...  I mean what the hell?

This is truly the voice of hate and mistrust. A voice I had hoped had been consigned to the waste paper bin of history or consigned to thugs like the EDL not an actual "political party" that is running for a Parliamentary seat - in MY neighbourhood!

This is the hate and prejudice that tore the world apart, cost the lives of so many people and should have died in Berlin in '45. I thought we were better than this, I thought we had evolved past this, the BUF and Mosley are a dark spot on the history of this nation and should have been forgotten and not replayed on the streets of Rochester. What gives them the right to dictate what lifestyle is right? Tell people how to live their lives? This is prejudice of the highest order.

In this Centenary year of the First World War, where nationalistic belief in ones own superiority caused the slaughter of innocence, where young men flocked to the flags of their nations and marched towards their deaths singing patriotic songs. Only 75 years after another nationalistic government that believed in Germany for the Germans and in ubermenschen (Teutons) and Untermenschen (Jews, Muslims, foreigners, Homosexuals, Jehovah's witnesses, Communists etc etc...) reopened the same wounds let us remember that we are better than this.

We have evolved past these notions and hate.  

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Baby George and Pulmonary Atresia

George Peter Sams
George Peter Sams was born at 10:22 am on the 10th October 2014 at St Thomas’ hospital, London. He has had the most amazing support from the medical staff there and is currently under care in the Intensive care ward. For those of you who don’t know my son (my third child) has Pulmonary Atresia, a rare heart defect that ultimately leaves half of his heart, the half that pumps de-oxygenated blood to the lungs to bring back vital Oxygen for the rest of the body, non functioning. We had the option to terminate early on but…

On Monday he goes in to have his first of three operations . This one is to put a plastic pipe or shunt into the closing hole in-between the ventricles that keeps the heart as a two (rather than 4) chambered pump giving him the shot at life. More will follow and his is not an easy road. He will have limited tolerance to exercise, complications to diet, digestion, renal function etc caused by the future ops and above him the spectre of early death on the operating table, or if his weak half a heart should give out. All the while we have agreed to give him this shot.

It just seems so bitterly unfair that this little bundle of innocence has already been given this massive handicap that could and probably will kill him eventually and we his parents have to make choices as to how long he gets to live or try and guess at what may or may not happen. I keep wishing our roles were reversed but to no avail.

Every hour I panic and worry that we’ve done the right thing, that he is going to be alright and that he has the best shot at life as he possibly can. I’m terrified of leaving the hospital on Monday unless I’m not there and…

I’m not a religious man, far from it, but for the first time in a log while I have offered up a silent prayer to my ancestors (especially my Grandparents) to watch over him and to take care of him. His fate is in the hands of the Doctors and in nature and all manner of things. If there is a higher reason or force controlling everything then I hope that George is dealt a better hand.

A good friend of mine said to me this weekend that I was tough, and I could get through the heart ache, pain and stress to come. The truth is – I’m not tough, I’ll get through this because I have to but in reality I’m terrified. I'm maintaining a steely façade and the "I'm good with this" stance to cover up the little boy inside who just wants to curl up into a ball and beg this to stop. This past year hasn't been the best for me or my family and more bad things are being pushed below the surface with the other repressed feelings. It is so repressed that the other day I started sobbing uncontrollably when I read that a German Cruiser sank with all hands a century ago! I mean really?

The raft I cling to is that he was a good weight, a healthy colour and alert and focused so should be strong enough to fight through the surgery and make a full recovery. He is one of us and my forebears were hardy and resilient. So should he be. He WILL be ok!

This whole blog post probably doesn't make sense. It is more an attempt to get my thoughts and feelings onto paper and definitely not a cry for help.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Mark Reckless' defection

Defector: Mark Reckless.
The news broke yesterday, whilst I was at a wedding, that Mark Reckless had defected to UKIP from the Conservative party. This was somewhat of a surprise to me but I really guess it shouldn't have

For sometime I had believed that although stridently anti-EU and having rebelled against Coalition line time and again, Mark Reckless was Conservative through and through but his position would have meant that UKIP would be unlikely to win in Rochester and Strood in 2015 and would do very little to dent his voter base.

I totally hadn't considered that he would defect.
been.

Apparently I wasn't the only one.

I've exceptionally mixed views about defection. Although it is noble to follow one's belief to whatever end it can have some pretty nasty ramifications. A long while ago I wrote:

It is a decision that no one should take lightly, a decision that should be thought through thoroughly and not rushed. After all... like [Benedict] Arnold, once you've left you can never go back and some bridges can never be unburnt, for you will always be a turncoat.

According to Mark's website he has thought this through extensively, something I can well believe (I had a similar experience once) and ultimately came to this decision. He lists these reasons in depth in his article but ultimately it boils down to electoral promises and frustrations that he could not represent the people of Rochester and Strood as a Conservative anymore.

My previous prediction for the General Election in Medway was for UKIP not to bother standing a candidate as Mark was pretty much in that ground anyway... However this defection is going to shift the dynamic a whole lot more.

Earlier today I saw statistics that suggested that Mark will get re-elected easily based on the percentage of people in the Medway Council area who voted UKIP. If I remember correctly that despite being true across the region it was not the case in the Rochester & Strood wards. These wards mostly voted Conservative.

So we could see the return of a Conservative MP rather than Mark's re-election?

Not necessarily.

The Conservatives in Medway have been divided between the Rainhams and the Rochesters for quite some time and this defection could be the tumbling of small stones that sets of an avalanche. Already Councillor Chris Irvine, who is exceptionally close to Mark and works for him at Westminster, has quit the Conservative party and according to his twitter stream, will be consulting the residents of his ward as to what they would like him to do. If more were to follow...

We could see a larger UKIP powerbase with vast local experience than expected in the old Cathedral city.

This could also be Labour's big chance. The Medway towns have been swing seats for some time and although I had postulated that Mark would come through unscathed that was before the right vote was completely bisected. Naushabah Kahn, the Labour candidate for Rochester and Strood, has been making ground recently. Feelings against the Coalition do run high across Medway and they may be enough for her to capitalise on it, especially for a local girl who is talking about the things that matter to the working person who doesn't care as much about the EU as they do the NHS or Immigration as much as they do cut services. According to Medway Labour's Press release Ms Kahn stated;

With such division in the Medway Tory party, it’s clear that there is only one choice in Medway for the progressive, fair vote and that is Labour. We have a 10 year plan to save the NHS, including the extra resource of 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs and 5,000 more careworkers. In Rochester and Strood, we have a choice between a Labour party that will save the NHS or a Tory party that is in a race with UKIP to the far-right

Usual Party stuff but it is a sentiment that will draw people in.

Who knows, all I can say is that Medway is about to become really interesting politically over the next few months and part of me really laments my retirement which starts as of tomorrow.

I hope someone is going to cover this properly.

Just as a postscript and returning to the Benedict Arnold post and burned bridges, there is a sense of betrayal among some locals, be it electorate that voted Conservative and suddenly find a UKIP foothold in their constituency, local Conservatives who have seen all their hard work in supporting Mark thrown away, and also colleagues.

Indeed Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham & Aylesford was quoted as saying (and sums up the feeling for local Conservatives);

He looked me in the eye and promised me he wasn't going to defect. I feel very angry and let down.
 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Labour bluster over Medway LibDems

Some years ago I saw the last Deutsche wöchenschau, the Third Reich's newsreel dated March 1945. Whilst Messerschmitt fighters took off from waterlogged agricultural fields and streams of exhausted boys and old men in a mixture of uniforms marched past the camera the narrator pronounced ultimate victory would be theres. The Luftwaffe were blasting American planes from the air and the Russians were being turned back at the Oder. Whether the German people took anything from it is debatable but we know it was just noise.

Medway Labour have a lot riding on this election. The Coalition has not always been popular in low income areas where Tory led cuts have injured local services. The normally unassailable Medway Conservatives suddenly look vulnerable, especially as the locals are on the same day as the General election. These marginal seats could swing red again and I believe Gillingham & Rainham will.

Ever since tuition fees Medway Labour have been predicting the death of the Medway Libdems with an alarming frequency but I can assure you that there is still life in them. There are regular Focus deliveries, canvassing, street letters and campaigning just in a smaller area than Labour. Our membership is up and hardly flocking to Labour as they have suggested - I'm aware of only one in the last two years.

That is their weakness. They are pressing on all fronts to get the Tories out locally and in Westminster. Across Gillingham & Rainham, Rochester & Strood and Chatham & Aylesford. Even with Union funding their resources are not endless and they are stretching themselves thin. Although an all out offensive in Gillingham South may turn it red (I'll be moving) they will not get Watling ward. An all out offensive in Gillingham south would come at a cost of taking other fronts like Chatham & Aylesford where a strong MP might do enoug on personal performance over the popularity of Coalition policy.

The other problem Labour are facing is UKIP.

The common opinion is that UKIP are the bane electoral bane of the Tories but we've found that Labour are losing just as much support where as LibDem supporters are less likely to go Purple. Farrage is seen to be more in touch with the common person and their concerns rather than the Tory lite esq Milibamd led Labour. Seats in urban areas like Chatham central, Luton and Wayfield and even Gillingham North are fairly undecided and require shoring up before the election - further blunting their offensive capability. They also have to worry about their own seats from the weirdly popular Medway Tories. Rumour has it that Chris Irvine is on the offensive to take Labour's bulwark Cllr Murray's seat!

Labour, although set to gain ground along with UKIP who are becoming rapid favourites following unparalleled support across the estuary but it may be tempered and not the sure victory they are hoping and predicting. They'll also find the last bastions of LibDem seats a hard nut to crack and the red tide may be halted.

Let's just hope that come May I don't look like King Canute!!!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Southeastern Renew rail franchise

Well this is a sticky wicket.

Firstly I should say that for those of you who don't regularly read my blog will know that when it comes to rail travel and the EXTORTIONATE amount of time and money I throw at the railway system, I am apolitical on this subject.

No party, no government is innocent in the journey that has led to this day.

However I'm.... happy with the final decision that has led to Southeastern having their contract renewed.

Perhaps happy is too strong a word. However I can see the logic behind it.

I first read about it on Tracey Crouch's website and had mixed feelings.

On the one side I will continue to put up with dirty trains (seriously I got on a train last Saturday morning and it had Metros from Friday on most of the seats!), overcrowding, cramp caused by lack of leg room, lateness, congestion and absent staff,

Then as I read the release from Tracey's office the more I thought about some of the issues.

Congestion can't be helped at London bridge, especially if there is a broken down train or signal cockup.

With absent staff, can you blame them? The way that commuters speak to staff when something goes wrong would make me want to backslide into an office when things start going badly.

I commute on a busy railway line to London and travel at peak time so I can't really complain about the business. Even if they were to throw on a couple more carriages or compromised more leg room for more seats then they wouldn't get many more of us sitting down though if they got rid of First class....

The other things are bearable. Sort of.

I can understand that Southeastern are aware of the London Bridge transformation and it makes sense that they continue. It is going to be chaotic enough let alone bringing in a completely new company which will still be wet behind the ears when the brown stuff hits the fan.

I also like that the Government are forcing Southeastern to invest money into the network in various different ways - its all on Tracey's website, it is late and there's no need in me repeating it all - and the fares will be frozen in "real terms"

Great

But they are going up by the rate of inflation and as my wages are being frozen yet again (some 4 years in a row) I'm going to be paying 25% of my take home... Great...

I did read an opposition point of view on it on Tristan Osborne's blog and there are areas which I disagree with. To be honest Connex were crap and things are getting safer and the rolling stock has improved but the escalator that Labour put in has really made rail travel the reserve of the richer.

I do not see HS1 as a victory for the average commuter.

I mean it is great for when I go to visit my sister in Newark as I can cut around London and walk to Kings Cross but it is of bugger all use to me when I work in South London, it also means my old fast train to Victoria (which used to be 45 minutes) now takes longer as it has to stop at additional stations (Meopham and Longfield) because it was faster than the HS1 into London....

It is also too expensive for a regular journey (especially if you factor on the 30 minute tube journey)...

Any way I'm getting side tracked.

Either way I'm screwed. All I can do is try and smile and hope that the optimism that Tracey's PR exudes actually holds water. Things need to be improved, the prices need to be reined in and well...

The network needs a lot of things and I could sit here bitching and griping about it but I'm sure no one would care that much - well definitely no one in any of the major political parties who have long forgotten the commuters and the system we have to put up with.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Scottish Referendum and Social Media

As the smoke clears from yesterday's referendum there are a couple of lessons that can be learnt.

Firstly, I want to say that the whole referendum was a good thing for democracy and the democratic process. It has been so disheartening looking at voter turnout to elections over the last few years in the UK - as a democrat I found it hard to accept that the people of this country have so little interest in the future or selecting the best party to lead and form a government. Even if the people of the UK voted BNP or Raving loony party it would be better than just sitting at home complaining.

However last night saw over 80% of Scots voting.

Wow!

This shows how important the people took this whole debate. Whether they watched the televised debates or read the pamphlets, entered with predetermined ideals or chose at random, they got involved and that is the main thing so well done Scotland!

However this is not the important thing that I am alluding to.

It is not a new thing, it is something I think I spoke about after AV...

The other day SKY news was waxing lyrically about how the #Yes was three times more popular on Twitter than the #no and that pro independence tweeters were dominating the twittersphere. The same was true with the #Yes2AV, which I was part of. Online we thought we had won.

You cannot take online chatter as a clear view of the polls.

Twitter is a bit of a soundbox. Although a good forum for debate it is also a place where the entrenched dig themselves in with likeminded fellows. Libdems stick with Libdems, Tories with Tories, Labour with Labour. Let's face it - it is logical. Although many of us get on with those from other parties we don't agree on a lot and if we did we wouldn't be in the parties we are! There's no point arguing about politics with each other because we don't agree and won't agree - I tried it recently by arguing with Gillingham & Rainham's ex Labour MP (and candidate for 2015) Paul Clark and instantly regretted it as it took several days and neither of us gained ground or agreed on anything. To be honest, it started to stress me out and was an irritating distraction as I tried to concentrate on my work on von Spee's fleet.

Most people won't voice political opinions on Twitter, or even in real life when asked by a politico as they don't want to be drawn out into a debate. I've done enough door knocking to know that most people will either avoid answering, say their busy or just say they will take the leaflet and read (recycle) it. Not many will argue, even less will argue with an activist about policies unless they are die hard politicos or like my grandfather, had pre-set ideas that, despite logical debate, could not be undone.

Twitter users are the same, those that tweet general stuff or people who have causes other than politics won't take any interest in a politico tweeting at them trying to convince them of a subject. Often his is a quick way to get blocked or an unfollow in the same way that on the doorstep you'll get a door slammed in your face.

As we AV supporters learned back in 2011 and the Yes campaign found out again last night, the volume and quantity that Yes supporters say Yes is not an accurate portrayal of how wide your message has spread and been accepted. I feel stupid saying this but think I need to, not just to online campaigners but also to the researchers at SKY news - not everyone is on Twitter and it isn't an authority on political popularity.

I think the final word has to go to Danny Alexander MP who tweeted this earlier....

Monday, 4 August 2014

Another Bookshop gone

One of my favourite things in this world are books.  Old books, new books, fiction, non-fiction, comic, serious, classic books, Sci-fi books, fantasy books, intellectual books.... Sadly my wife prefers that I buy - Kindle books.

Reading has always been a big part of my life, it was my crutch as a child. I was fairly shy and I was always a fan of sitting down day dreaming with a good book. By the age of 11 I had read all the local libraries Doctor Who books and was working my way into the teenage section. In my late teens I put down the books and picked up the controller but with a regular commute I'm back to reading voraciously again.

One of my favourite, yet costly places to go are books shops and I have a couple of favourites and sadly one of them is now closing. Bargain books at Waterloo is in a perfect location for me. Whenever I have time to kill before a train I nip in and have a browse and have picked up some real bargains. Even when it is closed at 6am when I walk by there is always time to window shop.

Sadly today I read the signs that it was closing down - this makes me sad.

I will now have to rely on WHSmiths which sadly sells at a higher price and tends to be more populist. I don't want to buy from the top 25 of Non-fiction or Fiction, I don't want celebrity biography or some generalist history on World War One - I'd rather browse a topic section, smell the leaves, have that thrill of discovering just what I was looking for like the time I discovered a book on the Boer War that analysed the contribution of Kitchener and especially at the battle of Paardeberg (which is where my great, great Grandfather fought).

Sadly this is becoming far too common with smaller and broader book shops disappearing and being replaced with populist big companies. Waterstones isn't too bad for that but even then they will shrink their sections depending on supply and demand so I find a plethora of vacuous celebrity biography and books on TOWIE and nothing on philosophy and one set of shelves covering history from the Romans to the Victorians, three areas devoted to World War Two and a seven books on local history but a bloody great Costa in the middle of the store.

I will miss the Bargain book shop, more than a person should really but living in a town devoid of bookshops (seriously other than WHSmiths and a Works) there are no dedicated bookshops - I have to go to Chatham or even Rochester - bugger it I'll just look on Amazon (which as good as it is lacks that book buying experience, it is too easy!).

Thursday, 17 July 2014

How I met Your Mother finale review


I’ve just watched the final episode of season 9 of the Hit US sitcom How I met your mother which, if you haven’t seen it is the story of how Ted meets the mother of his children and the love of his life.

Need I say *Spoiler alert* ahoy?

The series has taken up the mantle left by Friends and matched the same dynamic of a group of friends from mixed backgrounds in their late 20s living in a flat in New York and frequenting a bar – with a sly nod to Friends by having them hang out in a coffee shop once and hating it.

The characters are all linked to Ted, who is also the narrator and the central axis of the story with his search for love. It also swept me up in the story as it showed a guy, about my age with the same problems as I have. The whole growing up and making adult decisions, moving out of the 20s into the 30s and leaving his old life behind him in kind of a right of passage from youth to adult to father and husband.

Like Friends it has had a really decent run, it had nine seasons and around two hundred episodes covering a vast array of subjects, encounters and growth of all the characters. There are mountains of cultural references, in gags, great human quality and drama despite the comedy. It was after all, a story about love, life and friendships across the years.

So season 9, the final season, has just finished and I am left with serious mixed emotions. Firstly, as a season I’ve been quite disappointed. The overall story arc was about Barney and Robin’s wedding but with the other leading edge that Ted was going to meet the unnamed mother and fall in love. Sadly it dragged. There were so many complications with the wedding and the other characters (like Lily and Marshall’s planned move to Italy vs. his being given a Judgeship in New York state, Ted still having feelings for Robin and finally letting her go, Barney finally putting his commitment issues down etc…).

Although the episodes were mostly good, it felt like they were stalling the main plot and to quote my wife at the end of most of them;
Hurry up and get married for Pete’s sake!
There were lots of references to the Mother, and she meets all of the others and helps them in one way or another, even convincing Robin to go back and marry Barney. With only two episodes to go we were still on the edge of our seats. Marshall and Lily were expecting baby number 3 and decided to go to Italy, Barney and Robin were married and Ted was due to meet the mother by the next episode. Other lose ends were also tied up, even little ones like what was Blah-Blah’s real name? How did Scooter get over Lily? What the hell was Barney’s job? (Please…)

The last two episodes seemed to rush things as they passed the meeting and passed into the future with Ted and (the still unnamed) mother having their two children, Lily and Marshall having their third and his return to corperate law and the devastating news the Robin and Barney have divorced as they couldn’t make things work. We were left with Robin leaving the group of friends as she no longer had any thing in common and that being around Barney was too painful.

So, the finale.

We begin to tie up even more threads. Barney becomes a father after one of his One night stands finally backfires – a truly moving moment when he holds the baby girl for the first time and tells her how much he will love her forever and you finally see him grow up. It was something that struck accord with me as I remembered holding Sophie in my arms for the first time and the feeling that evoked and that deep down I changed as I’m sure we all do the moment we become parents.

 Marshall becomes a judge and out of the job he despises and Ted and (the still unnamed mother) get married on a day that Robin comes back to be with her best friend’s big day, a day that many didn’t think was coming. We see Ted talking of his love for the girl, who we finally find out is called Tracy(!!!!)  and all the times he looked back fondly on their life together, through the highs, lows, the petty arguments and when she got sick and died.

Yes, she died.

The scene dissolves back to his study where he has been narrating the story to his children over the last nine years and telling them about his life and they tell him if they want their permission to ask out Aunt Robin that’s ok. It ends with him standing outside her house holding the iconic blue French horn, a symbol of their love (he stole it for her on their first date back in the pilot!).

Part of me was overly gratified that the subtext for the first four/five seasons of on/off romance and affection (in true Ross/Rachel style) was gratified. Even the other great love of his life (and the girl I’d been rooting for), Victoria had said at the end beginning of season 8 that Ted had to chose between her and Robin’s friendship (reminds me of Emily’s ultimatum in Season 4(?) of Friends…). The show had prided itself that all those who had predicted Ted and Robin would get together were wrong and just when we had accepted it all they fired off that last twist in the last five minutes.

As a romantic and someone who has read a lot of love, the human experience and even walked in the footsteps of Ted at more than one point in my life, I will admit that I cried a little when I re-watched it on E4+1 whilst writing this review.

Then again, the teenage daughter makes the valid point that the whole story barely doesn’t have the mother in it – I mean I can understand the first 8 seasons as it is all about growth and life and hints being dropped about the mother (sorry Tracy) as well as his romantic encounters including being ditched at the altar (by Stella played by Sarah Chalke), the great love that was Victoria (Ashley Williams), the turbulence of Zoe and Jenette… But Season 9 barely has her in it as well and this was meant to be the season they met and fell in love, so in a way – I’m not surprised and a little let down. They have gone to the standard sitcom cliché of he’ll get with her, she’ll be with him and he’ll marry out of the group etc…

Don’t get me wrong it is something that if I ever get a free 100 hours to rewatch the series I’ll be watching it from another viewpoint and nodding along with that smug I know what happens look like the second time I watched Sixth sense, but part of me will always be disappointed a little by the ending and feel eminently sorry for Tracy who has been killed off without chance to be developed fully and is a virtual unknown.

It has been a fantastic series, one that never lost its way like Friends, never changed its basic make up and chemistry like Big Bang Theory and did not over run by too much like Frasier. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and if you have never seen it – dude, you need to watch this sitcom! – I am just in a state of shell shock at the ending and a little disappointed but then again, when there is ever an ending to a series that isn’t your ideal, won't you always be?
 




 

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Nick Clegg's gift to the party at Christmas?

 
As I write this I feel very disloyal, like a Benidict Arnold or a William Joyce. I think the time is coming for Nick Clegg to stand down as leader.

I should quickly state that I think he has done an amazing job as leader and raised the profile of the party a million times higher than it has been since the end of the First World War. He has led us into Government and has got many of our pledges from our manifesto straight into the law. Income tax level has been raised, pupil premium, tripple lock pensions protecting them, we've postponed Trident, helped keep the cuts humane(ish) and improved the amount of apprenticships just to name a few.

We are no longer a party of the shadows, the discontents, the weirdy beardy party... The guys with the "Give a quiche a chance" t'shirts. We are a serious party that has achieved and deserves support and our activists are out there trying to drum up support and getting it.

The problem is Nick and this is the hardest thing for me to write.

People on the doorstep are not ennamered with Nick. Ultimatly he could come up with the cure for cancer and bring World peace and the Tories would claim it was their move and Nick would still be criticised for the Tuition fees fiasco.

He is still hated for jumping into bed with the Tories and bringing them into power - even though Labour had really messed up the country and change was 4000% needed in 2010. He is blamed for the cuts (not George Osbourne or David Cameron strangely) and for pathologically lying (Which he didn't do). No amount of;

Yeah but we've done this...

is going to help and good, ney excellent candidates are likely to be left behind and a lesser or worse, UKIP, candidate will get in.

I was listening to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack (Yeah, I know - how awesome am I?) and was thinking about King Theoden of Rohan's comment of "It was not Theoden of Rohan who led our people to victory."


I got to thinking about the party as the kingdom of Rohan and Clegg as Theoden. Theoden was a good king during peace time and in the past wars, he was revered by all but then he fell under the spell of the evil wizard and let the kingdom fall into disarray and had to be saved by a better leader.

Our party is famous for its massive self destruction in 1916 that took almost a century to rectify and has had so many splits and factions in the past we cannot afford for it to happen again as this time it may be fatal.

As much as it pains me to say, Nick needs to step down around Christmas as part of a structured leadership move to allow the new person to get their feet under the table and begin fighting for May 2015. It would give enough time for the party to establish them and the new manifesto as well as have us standing up in Parliament.

I know mine is but one voice in a party of many and that there are those who are more voriferous in their attacks on Nick or in their defence of his position. Ultimatly I think it will come down to a motion at conference, I just think it wouod be better that Nick stood down rather than suffered the humiliation of a rebellion and ousting.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

They cut down my God Damned tree!!!!!

I am royally vexed - Well no, I'm pretty Pissed off actually.

To set the scene, my next door neighbour is attempting to sell her house and there are several aesthetic things that we can help with. As she has no back gate to her property she asked if some workmen who were going to clear her garden could go through our back gate and over her wall. She also asked if we would go halves on repairing the wall between our two properties.  Both of which we agreed to.

A couple of years ago a small tree began growing against the wall and was damaged by one of their kids but it grew and had reached six and a half foot tall and had elderberries ripening. We had
trimmed it recently but pretty much left it as was.

I should say now - we have had no complaints about the tree - and I spoke to next door just last week about unlocking the gate.

I went out for an hour earlier with the family for a walk when I got back from work. When we came out of the shop across the road I saw next door in her front garden cutting something up but didn't see what as I was attempting to get the kids across a busy  road.

When we got into the front garden I noticed she had hurried indoors and no wonder because my tree
was laying across my front garden in several pieces having been cut- the-F**K-down.
It is not so much that the tree has come down as it was an annoyance to my wife and if the wall was going to be rebuilt it was clearly in the way.

What has royally ticked me off is the fact that the tree was on MY property and was cut down with out discussion or permission and what really rubbed the salt in the wound is that the fact I had to go and clear up the God forsaken mess. It was like someone had shot my dog and expected me to bury it.

I was quite attached to that tree as the only patch of real greenery in our front garden, especially as the conifer I bought a few years ago was robbed from outside my front door!

I wouldn't mind but over the last five years my neighbours have royally taken the mick out of me - The kids have thrown all manner of beer bottles, fag ends and rubbish into my back and front gardens and I have complained a total of 0 times. When our other neighbours moved in on the other side they dumped all manner of shit in my overgrown back garden and still I've said nothing.

Well this time I went round, knocked - no reply. My wife told me to let it go, nothing would bring the tree back (and besides she hated it anyway). I know the law is on my side but what's the point in going to a civil court over it?

Instead I have taken a couple of punitive measures. My back gate is now sealed tight, no bugger is opening it and if I catch someone in my garden, so help me God!
Second, I am pretty certain that the dividing wall is her wall so if it she wants it rebuilt/repaired I won't be footing a penny. If it is my wall then I'm happy with it's tumbledown rustic look and will not be paying for it...

Sorry - I am just so angry and I needed to vent. Can anyone suggest what I can do about it or should I just lay back and take this as well?

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Labour's Youth tax

Today has been a day of mild confusion for me. I've read the link so kindly given to me by Medway Labour with Ed's announcement of the removal of jobs seeker's allowance for under 21s. It says a lot but also not much.

I agree that the benefit system is bloated and needs redress. I know that the budget is shafted and there are cuts that have gone the wrong way such as the cuts to the Coastguard. I also agree that we need to get people out of the benefit trap.

There is, however some serious issues with Labour's new policy. Overall unemployment is down (last I checked) and the overall number of Apprenticeships are up with Coalition policies to encourage large companies to take on people. However there is, naturally, a saturation point where no more can be taken on.

I take the point that we can't all be astronauts and that sitting on the dole waiting or the England call up or for Simon Cowell to snap them up and actually getting off your arse and working and there should be incentives.

My concerns are that not everyone will be able to get into this training. As I said earlier, there is a saturation point and ultimately if we train say 500,000 electricians a year - where are they going to go? People are working later in life to top up their near worthless pensions. This means posts are not opening up as much. Trade jobs such as Electricians, plumbers, carpenters also require a building projects and housing projects, something that is very slow to get off the ground especially with Councils not willing to invest in a lot of regeneration projects of the dire urban centres. The same is true for so many other careers, the Labour motion is trusting that the job market will be able to support all of these apprenticeships and training and that they will have job spaces for the qualified at the end of it. Seems like an awful gamble with our young's lives. This isn't the late 1930s where the population was small enough and an economy that could support growth and workers in factories. Even then my grandfather was forced to become an apprentice and into the army by his father and he always resented the choice being thrust on him. 

I fear as well that with such a large workforce the employers can be "competitive" with their wages i.e. pay them less. If ten people with similar qualifications apply for the same job you hire the one who will work for less. It is good business. 

It also makes me wonder about the fate of older workers in society. In a perfect world no one is ageist and that you get a job on your merits. In reality though employers make business decisions and are more likely to hire a you g back rather than an older applicant who may have family commitments.

It seems to me, as an observer, that between the major parties, things have got really rough for the young. The Coalition took away the education fund, tripled tuition fees to screw up further education, successive governments have made it harder and harder to get a house so now they're stuck living with their parents and now we're taking away the safety net of job seekers allowance and forcing them to pick a trade.

It would be better to put the money into the education system to support A'levels or towards Further education rather than bribing people into a career and life choice or find yourself cut off by the state.

It is just so illiberal, ill thought out and patronising that... I just can't get behind it.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Removing Foreign influences from Schools is bad


I am greatly concerned by the rumours that are flying around (I've not been able to watch the news or read a paper today or this weekend as my kids make me watch Tangled and Frozen AGAIN...) about Michael Gove's plans to remove non-British subject matter and books from our schools.

Where I work we have a video on loop of a Minister stating that his party had removed all the foreign influences on the Country's Culture. Sadly this Minister was Reichsminister Josef Goebbels and his speech ran something like this:

We have a German theatre, a German Press, German Music and German Arts. Those who said that we could not remove the Jews from our culture have been proven spectacularly wrong.

OK - this is a pretty extreme example.

However just by thinking about this and tweeting earlier I realised how much could be denied to our children.

How many of these books would be banned?
No Four Musketeers, Count of Monte Cristo Goethe, Schiller, Mozart, Beethoven, Washington Irving (who I think is a genius!), Schubart, Bach, Schuman, Saint Saens Carnival of the animals, Catcher in the Rye, To kill a Mockingbird, Dostoyevsky, Pasternak, Les Miserables, Haiku Poems, Marx and Engles....

World War One studies will only have the poetry of Sassoon and Wilfred Owen and not include the classic that is "All quiet on the Western front" by the German author/soldier Remarque.

We cannot just remove a whole swathe of ideas and literature, the opportunity to expand young minds literally and musically just because the writer or composer's are not British. It is madness, like putting on the blinkers! Young people should learn who they enjoy culturally and given choice rather than being railroaded into just Dickens and Shakespeare.

The subject of history will be decimated as we concentrate entirely on Britain and her achievements. I studied world history starting at school with the slave trade and its impact on European and American history, economy and society. I went on to study Russia 1900-90, Japanese Middle ages and Modern history as well as the Renaissance across Europe in the 15th and 16th century - a period in which England was nothing but a sleepy backwater compared to the courts of Florence and Paris.

Britain has not experienced revolution, not in the same way as France and Russia and even Germany! Its history can be very rich, it can also be very dull - has anyone read history from 1815-51? I really struggled and I was interested! History is a multi-faceted subject with other nations having an input in British actions. Take the Boer War - Germany was actively politicking and supporting the Boer to cause trouble with Britain. Half if not more of Britain's policies were influenced by France.

The British Monarchy and its genealogy has been foreign for centuries and their interactions with their families abroad have started and ended many wars over the centuries. Victoria was half German, she married a German and she was Grandmother to the Kaiser. King George I didn't speak English, and George II only grudgingly. William III was a Dutchman, Mary Queen of Scots was French... Are they to be culled?

I agree that there are many aspects of British Culture that have been forgotten like Robin Hood, Mallory's King Arthur, Lord of the Flies, Poetry by Yeats, Byron, Shelley and history like the Boer War that has long been forgotten that maybe should appear in school but not at the expense of cleansing "foreign" influences like this.

Half of growing up is discovering what you like, opening up your mind and reading around be it in English, History or even musically. Let us not stifle our young from the beginning and leave them thinking that British is the only way.

Guess that is one more thing I will have to be teaching my kids outside of school. They will read whatever they want and be taught about foreign politics, history and geography by us.

To quote a great writer (can't remember if it was Burke or Heinrich Hahn) - Where once you burn books you will soon burn people.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

My retirement from Politics

I have arrived at a very sad but easy decision.
Baby #3 from 12 week scan
As of September I will cease to be an active member of the Liberal Democrat party and the unofficial Go-To Medway LibDem guy.

Before people start braying about the collapse of the party or a lack of my commitment I have two words.... Pulmonary Atresia

A few weeks ago Sam (my wife) and I went for the twelve week scan of our third (and final) child expecting they would be as healthy as Sophie and Ollie. 

Sadly we were wrong. There was a complication and we were referred to Kings hospital.

They have a condition called Pulmonary Atresia. The right side of the heart that pumps to the lungs is either missing (aorta) or detrimentally too small (ventricle), also the vital Pulmonary artery is blocked and too small to carry blood to the lungs.

The outlook was not good. There is extensive surgery to re-plumb the heart and lungs which can have renal and digestive side effects, physical disability and curtailed life expectancy. 

After two weeks of trying to decide whether to give the child a go or to be cruel to be kind and end it now we went back for another scan.

Nothing had changed but we were told the surgery was actually fairly routine and a curtailed life expectancy actually meant Early adulthood.

Neither of us, despite being pro-choice could bring ourselves to terminate and we felt that it was better to let fate decide and give the baby a shot at life and see what happens.

The baby is due in October and must be born in London where it will be rushed to intensive care and if strong enough be operated on a few days later with a follow up four months later.

The next year will be hard on my wife, my other two kids (especially on Sophie) and the baby. I will do what I've always done and knuckle under and put them first. Baby's health is never going to be great and depending on blood vessel development in the lungs and the success of the operations mean that I will need to dedicate a lot of time to them.

My time is going to be exceptionally valuable and I'm making sacrifices and sadly being an active member of the party is one of them. I feel guilty as next year is going to be vital for the Medway branch but family must and always will come first.

I'll still be blogging on my history blog from time to time (I'm not dead after all!) but this blog will be indefinitely suspended from September onwards I'm afraid.
 
I'm sad to let it go and may post on a very rare basis. This has been a big part of my life since 2010 and want to thank you all for reading.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

UKIP want to surrender Europe to the Germans

My Grandfathers were two very different people. Peter had been an only child of a Police Sargent who had studied Pre-war but post war joined the Police and coasted, enjoying life. His political outlook was soft Tory-liberal, though not a fan of the EU he was open to debate and discussion before making his decision.

Jim was different. He had been forced to join the army at a young age and grafted as an Engineer through his service into the late 40s before becoming a civil engineer and doing the same. He worked hard for every penny he earnt. He was suspicious of the Conservatives as they wanted to get his hard earnt money and he despised the Unions for ruining the country and industry (so voted Tory) but above all he hated Europe.

One day he said to me; "A united Europe? That's what Hitler and the Nazis wanted. We fought to stop that and now we're just giving them it in peace time."

Sad to say but he is wrong.

German foreign policy had, for decades before the First World War, been to isolate Britain and keep her away from European matters. Bismarck knew that the British, when disturbed, could throw the entire empire at a problem from behind its' Naval shield on its' little island and Germany could do little to stop them. Britain's Grand Isolation and aloofness in European matters allowed Germany to win wars against Austria and France, establish itself as a dominant power within Europe militarily and economically. 

Where was Britain? Fighting in Africa against the Zulu and German supplied Boer.

World War One came about not because of Teutonic aggression of Austria and Germany persecuting little Serbia and Belgium. It was started by the failure of diplomacy to act. Austria had the right to grievance over the death of the heir to the Imperial throne but so did Serbia for the occupation. 

Had the European nations and heads of state got together in 1912 when the Balkan wars were at their height then the conflict may have been averted.

In 1940 when the Wehrmacht were masters of Western Europe and looked poised to cross the channel Hitler made one last "Appeal to reason" to the British Government. Should they surrender Britain could keep her Empire if Germany was allowed to dominate Europe. Ultimately Britain would become a satillite state of Germany dependant on European trade at prices set by the Reichsbank.

I'm not saying that Germany has similar designs on dominating Europe militarily nor am I being anti-German. As many know I love Germany, her culture, her food, her language and her football team and I would welcome our new Teutonic masters should the day come. 

I am merely observing that Germany (and France to a lesser extent) are the dominant power in the EU and single handedly bank rolled Greece. Should UKIP and the "No" wing get their way and we voluntarily isolated Britain then we will be a satillite state to Europe forced to trade at the whims of prices set by a German dominated European bank...

If Britain doesn't want to face this they need to fight as they did in 1914 and 1940 only this time in the EU parliament.

Did Churchill, Chamberlain, Asquith and Lloyd George walk away? 

No, they fought for Britain and so should we and not follow this coward Farage as he meekly throws in the towel and completes the noble work of Herr Von Bismarck.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Labour must think you're all stupid




This kind of thing really grinds my gears.
Those of you who know me or are regular readers of this blog will know that I'm, somewhat naively, a fan of good Democracy and the democratic process. So it will come as no surprise why my gears are so well and truly ground.

Also before I start I should say this is not aimed at hard working Labour activists, councillors or MPs but the party machine and those who use the following technique on the doorstep - you know who you are!


Unless you have been living in a cave for the last few months you'll know there is an election on Thursday for some local authorities (not Medway) and more importantly the European Parliament. 

The LibDems (at least on a local level) have been campaigning for the merits of the EU over Grand Isolation which UKIP seem to espousing. National politics has not been used unless brought up by the voter.

This election is not about the cuts.

This election is not about Tuition fees.

This election is not about the Coalition.

This election is not about Nick Clegg or David Cameron.

So imagine my confusion when I saw a tweet with ten reasons to vote Labour on Thursday. (here) with a link to the Labour page with Ed's pledges for what Labour would do if they won the next election. 



Clearly it would be argued that this meant the General election next year and it is a mere coincidence that this list has appeared now at this election.

Can this behaviour be just attributed to a small dirty tricks brigade? 

Well, no.

I've seen a lot of tweets locally about the toxic nature of Clegg and it makes me wonder how much campaigning on Europe vs. National policy there has been but that is just supposition.

Who sent the original tweet? Was it an activist trying to cause confusion? It was some guy called Iain McNicol - the General secretary of the Labour party - surely he would think he knew what elections were taking place on Thursday?

This is not the first time that this has happened either, indeed shadow minister Chuka Umunna tweeted (back in may 2012 here)
Cameron is running a heartless and hopeless government #voteLabour today for growth, jobs and to relive the squeeze on you and your family.

Which was interesting as it was Local and mayoral elections with no impact on Westminster what so ever!

It is little wonder that candidates are secretly venting their frustration at Ed et al. Local PPC and Councillor, Tristan Osborne was unfortunate to get caught on tape out lining his concerns with leadership etc.

It is telling that a PPC selected for one of the top 101 target seats against a formidable and capable Tory MP (Tracey Crouch) is showing these sort of concerns.

 You can view the article here

How can they appeal to the average voter if they can't even tell the truth about what the election on Thursday is for? Or have any policies on Europe? 

If I cannot trust them on these two fundamentals how can I trust them with pledges or my taxes?

Friday, 9 May 2014

Same old Labour - Same old... Y'know

As those who follow me on Twitter will know, my days of being actively involved in politics are looking like they may soon be over (more on that later) and part of me is relieved.

As the election campaigns really set in here in Medway and ground work is laid down for the general & local elections next year the uglier and nastier things get.

As predicted the lines between national and local politics have become blurred and the three remaining LibDem councillors (as well as the standing candidates) are being blamed for supporting the Coalition nationally.

Their ministry of Propaganda has began churning out tweets regularly saying things like; 
"Medway Libdems supported the trebling of tuition fees"
"Medway Libdems support the Tory privitisation of the NHS"
"You can't trust the Libdems"

What a load of hogwash. I could easily turn round and say:

"Medway Labour supported the illegal invasion of Iraq"
"Medway Labour supported the Fuel escalator & RPI on rail fare that robbed hard working commuters."
"Medway Labour supported the reckless management of the economy that pissed the nations money down the drain"
"You can't trust Labour with your money"

I know full well that none of their (or my) statements are true. From our end there was a lot of anger at Tuition fees. As we have no MP we as a group tend to look more at local Medway issues and what we can effect. Also as we don't have an MP we cannot get them to vote a certain way. I have, however written to our incumbent MPs on a few topics requesting information and clarification on a couple of topics but that has mainly been as a resident!

I'm also tired of seeing messages saying all the LibDems will be wiped out, Labour will defeat your MEPs, take your wards and remove you. I feel like a tumour festering at the heart of Medway ready to lanced. I often wonder will my wife will come home from work and find I have disappeared into the "The Night and fog" (check out Nacht & Nabel decree on wiki for the reference).

So, I find myself asking why? Why are they targeting us in this way and not their arch nemesis Darth Cameron?

I have come up with a theory. 

Since the Coalition began Labour under Ed Miliband have defined themselves as simply "Not the Coalition." 

Cameron could hold up a lump of coal and Ed would say it was white. They say they wouldn't do things but they have little in the way of alternatives. The Libdems are seen as the weaker part and so they look to extend their majority by assimilating our seats. After all Labour has been moving from the left for the centre ground for the last couple of decades and left leaning liberals will be tempted to vote Labour over the seemingly right leaning liberals.

The other problem is Labour are actually hemorrhaging supporters to UKIP. A lot of working class families who gave up on Labour last time and who are still not convinced are looking at UKIP as saviour or as a protest vote. They know Labour screwed the economy and failed to deal with immigration and Europe, the Coalition have done little to salve that and only UKIP are saying they will deal with them. Where can they get voters??? Oh yeah, Libdem supporters.

It amused me that they wasted a PPB on how Clegg is a joke but still haven't given us an alternative, where is Ed talking about the EU or tackling UKIP? Does he or his party have an opinion? 

I'm feeling better off out of this childish point scoring and blowing smoke for votes. I got involved in politics to help people and my community and I feel disheartened that a few feel the need to resort to these levels to win votes. 

If my departure wasn't already dictated by events beyond my control I'd stand and fight for what is right.

As it is, I'm almost relieved to let the children play and I can redirect my energies to something more worthwhile.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Disney have destroyed the Star Wars Expanded universe

A small section of my Star Wars Library
It is as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced...

Yesterday it was announced that the entire Star Wars Galaxy had been destroyed... Not by a Death Star, nor the Sun Crusher or the Galaxy Gun but by Disney.

I was born in 1980 and grew up watching the original Star Wars trilogy at Christmas every year, I was a teenager when the Special Editions came out and I was beside myself with excitement when I saw my favourite movies in the cinema, an experience I never thought I would get. Before that I had got into the Expanded Universe.

In the wake of Return of the Jedi many people wanted more. The Role Play Games expanded a lot so that gamers (like me) could experience more of the Galaxy far far away and do the things we had seen in the films, be it flying X-Wings against a Stardestroyer (I lost my port engine by the way) take on Dark Lords of the Sith or Boba Fett...

There were also works of Fiction. Timothy Zahn started the ball rolling with Heir to the Empire,  Dark Force rising and The last Command and if you haven't read them and call yourself a Star Wars fan you have to read them. These were followed by books by Kevin J Anderson, Dave Wolverton, Kathy Tyers, Aaron Allston and Michael A. Stackpole which I spent my teenage years digesting and falling in love with. My favourite character Imperial Admiral Daala has, in recent books, become head of the Galaxy's Government.

I bit my tongue through the prequels... OK not hard and I admit I did rant a little... and often... about how some of the stuff from the Expanded Universe had been neglected or altered by the early films but ultimately most was left in tact so my room for complaint was small and Timothy Zahn et. al started bringing in Prequel stuff into the EU including Luke Skywalker encountering a Droideka some twenty years after Return of the Jedi having never mentioning them before hand. It was OK... I accepted it, so did everyone else - it was a necessity to link Original Star Wars, the EU and New Star Wars.

Last night I read this....strw.rs/1nNvyUm

Disney have killed it all off. All those characters, all those planets, all those events... gone...

Oh yeah there will be new books and new stories based on the sequels and the new project Star Wars Rebels but everything else... all those books that made George Lucas and now Disney buckets of money are all irrelevant. They don't exist and they never did in the narrative of the Star Wars Universe.

Yeah it does mean that the film makers have a lot of freedom to write and create the new series of movies but...


It feels like a big middle finger to the fans who have followed the Expanded Universe for over twenty years. For me the films (even though Episode I and II were not great they did add to the story) and the Expanded Universe were Star Wars, for the majority of my lifetime and for millions of fans like me. 



This news will have sent ripples through the Star Wars fan base and a great many people will be most displeased.