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

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.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Conservative Councillors are causing a revolt

There is something very worrying happening at Medway Council that is having a very bad effect on democracy in Medway and is turning voters against the elected council, especially the ruling Conservative party.

At every full Council there is an allotted time for Public questions to Portfolio holders. It is true that this is often used by Politicos and Party members to make a point as well as one or two people with burning issues but used to fit neatly into the time frame.

Recently though there have been more and more questions are being brought to the Full Council meetings especially about tetchy subjects like Rochester Airport and Strood Library's relocation. The peasants are restless and the council are apparently not doing anything about it.

We've had Councillor Chitty say that Consultations are merely and FYI for the Public of the Council's intent and then last night Cllr Doe said a decision had been made and there was no point in consultation.

This coupled with the very dismissive and often condescending manner with which the Conservative Councillors have dealt with questions is causing more and more discontent. Questions have been answered with diatribes that don't answer the question, dismissed or in a few cases refused as in the case I saw, Cllr Jarrett said I am not in the habit of repeating myself.

At the last meeting there was a full blown revolt with hand clapping and meeting disruption where the Mayor (who wasted public money on the creation of her Christmas cards - including the rental for a fake Snow machine!!!!) ordered the public gallery emptied before leading the Council out. Last night Police officers were on hand when the same thing happened. One member of the public []
stormed through the cordon to tell the Conservative cabinet what he thought and accused them of not listening to the people who voted them in.

This Conservative Cabinet have such a large majority that they don't need to listen to the opposition parties (even if we combined with Labour to do so) but they aren't listening to the voters either. It is seriously becoming a problem. What was a small campaign of people who genuinely care about Strood Library and becoming a Medway wide issue and a symbol of an elected body that is mishandling of their dealings with the public and the protesters.

They have thrown out the slight bone of "Civilian Journalists" for those hardcore politicos and generally don't have public questions as we're too busy writing or tweeting but they are still not addressing the Public or their issues. Thirty minutes isn't long enough, everyone should get the opportunity to ask one question (maybe not the supplementary if there are too many questions) and they should be handled with respect and clarity not dismissed or treated with contempt.

In one attempt to save time they have cut the verbal asking of questions and displayed them on a screen at the front of the Hall - which sadly cannot be read by anyone in the Public area. Or if you're visually impaired you will not know what the answer was in relation too.

Something has to be done and before the local elections next year... the locals are getting restless and arrogantly treating them is not the way.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Gills Ladies - great game, great day out

I have been a fan of Gillingham Football club for as long as I remember. It wasn't until I was a student that I paid any real attention to their results and squad though and I took more of an interest in football in general.

I even started attending games when I could get up from Winchester to see them and visit my Granddad who lived nearby. I even travelled to Plymouth to watch Argyle beat us 2-1 in a stand full of Plymouth fans.

I've seen us win and lose, even going to Wembley for the Second Division playoff final (Which was the last game I went to see) and taking Sam to see her first game and my friend Caroline to see her home team Lincoln City vs. Gillingham (she wore her Lincoln shirt under a blue fleece but was still paranoid that the stewards and other Gills knew she wasn't "One of us"!!!)

I haven't been in quite some time though. I may live near enough on top of the ground but a combination of working two weekends in three, the fact that if I am off I have both of my children who... well I didn't think they would enjoy a game... and more importantly, it is bloody expensive for a day out when the park or swimming are so much more affordable.

This has never slowed my support though and I continue to watch them from afar. I also have kept an eye on the Ladies team.

There has always been a stigma attached to Women's teams and football. Lad culture always portrays it as half a sport or painfully amateur. Of course for those who have seen Women's games will know this is bollocks.

I first got into women's football watching the German Women's National team play on-line. I'd been meaning to go and see the Gills ladies play for some time but, like I said, taking my kids was always going to be a challenge, I can't get them to sit down long enough to eat their food or watch a movie let alone 90 minutes of game.

Last week I wandered into the Gills store on the off chance with the idea of buying my kids football shirts, whilst in the queue I was telling Sophie that Ollie was going to grow up playing professional football and would one day lift the World Cup so Daddy could retire. A very indignant Sophie announced that she would play football for Gillingham and win the World cup. Any way as a proud parent I duly posted this little story on Twitter and a picture of Sophie in her Pink Gills Shirt. Later that day we were invited to bring Sophie to watch one of the Lady's teams home games and for her to be a mascot!

Thankfully due to a paperwork error I found myself off this Sunday and the whole family went up to the Chatham town ground on Maidstone road to watch the Gills play Cardiff City in the league (they are placed first and third respectively!).

Despite the weather, which was attrocious, the game was fantastic and fast paced with Gillingham going up 2-0 by half time. Within five minutes of the Second half it was 3-1 and finished at 4-2 despite the torrential rain.

Sophie in the stands cheering on the Blues

I've watched a lot of football over the years of varying quality and I must say that this game ranks amongst the top games I've seen and hand over fist many times better than I've ever seen the Gillingham Men's team play. There was a lot of personal skill, team work, tactics and a will to win. Don't let the score line fool you, Cardiff were a determined opponent and didn't take stop trying to equalise and played some fantastic football as well.

The club were wonderful as well. Sophie was treated to a signed programme, a trip into the locker room to meet the team and manager, got a personal photo with her favourite player (Bonnie Long) and she even went to high-five the team as they ran onto the pitch for luck. We were also allowed into the club house to keep warm before and after the game as well which was most welcome! She had a great time and has announced that she does want to play for the team one day (fingers crossed!).

Getting to the ground is fairly easy, there is a car park, a 101 bus stop just outside and the train station is all of twenty minutes walk. Ticket prices are £3s (yes, £3!!!!) or £1.50 if you have a Medway City card and under 16s are free. Programs are £1 too. The cafe is small but inexpensive with Hot chocolate being £1, Chips £1.60, Burger or Hotdog about £2.50 but they do other beverages and food at similar prices right next to the pitch so that when you're queueing up you don't miss the game!

If you have never seen the Gills ladies play - you really have to! It is a great day out and both my kids had a fantastic time, Sophie was up in the stands cheering on the blues and shouting encouragement with her little lungs and the boy clapped and cheered everytime we did and Sam and I enjoyed a really cracking game!

They have two upcoming games that desperately need your support. The final of the Ryman Cup is being played at Chatham FC on 8th may at 7.45pm against Haverhill Rangers and the final League game is being played on the 18th May at home at 2pm against Coventry city which could be the title decider!

If you want to see a dynamic Gillingham team win a league with flare and skill then get up to Chatham on the 18th and watch the Ladies team, I certainly will be doing all I can to get there with the family to watch.
You can check out there website at:

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Tory claims Libdems support Boris Island - er no we don't

I was interested to read the report in the Medway Messenger about former minister and Liberal Democrat Jeremy Browne has stated that Boris island is a good idea for the economy and that the nation should take a risk and will ultimately benefited.

This however is not the view of the National party, who voted in conference not to support the move, and the local party who have always stood in opposition to the Airport in the Estuary and indeed on the Hoo peninsula and Cliffe.

Liberal Democrat Council group leader Geoff Juby stated in the paper that;

It is all very well having these grand ideas, but has he ever run a business? Does he really know what he's talking about? The answer is no. I think a lot of these academics don't understand the practicalities of having an airport at Cliffe.

Ultimately this story is saying that an MP has an opinion, much like the Conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, or indeed the Conservative MP for Tatton and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne who is said to back the idea - this is not Liberal Democrat party policy nor is it likely to be in the near future...

Which leads me to part II of this post.

I saw a tweet earlier from Cllr Chris Irvine (Con) stating:

Just the adding of the letter S makes it look like the whole party are backing this horrific idea that will shatter the fragile eco-systems in the North Kent Marshes and will significantly damage the way of life here in Medway and indeed across the waters in South Essex.

I find this quite interesting as Cllr Irvine is currently attacking Labour PPC Cllr Osborne for being disingenuous on Local  TV about  his housing status and yet here we are with a slightly disingenuous statement that implies Party policy has changed massively to the detriment of the people in Medway and even had the tag line saying you cannot trust us...


Pot... Kettle...

Saturday, 12 April 2014

UKIP are most welcome in Medway

Blue and Red will get dented by UKIP
No - I haven't defected, nor have I banged my head and gained one of those epic life changing concussions where one loses all grasp of sanity.

For once in my life there is an iota of reason in something I think...

The Medway Tories have held the Medway towns in their iron grasp for too long. They have an arrogant outlook that means they are right at all times and surely anyone who is against them is against the whole towns!?! (see my posts on Medway Knockers)

Indeed when the Liberal Democrats dared to stand against the wasteful and unwanted City of Medway proposal we were denounced as traitors. When the people of Strood stood up against the moving of their library, or the people rejected the privatisation of the specialist Dementia unit at Nelson Lodge what did the ruling council do?

Bugger all.

The Council carried on with what it wanted to do regardless as in Councillor Chitty's words: A consultation is merely the Council informing the public of its' intentions.

Their massive majority means that they can bulldoze through anything they want - be it dodgy investment in Rochester airport or perhaps voting to become a part of Austria (something I could get on board!) They are even able to keep the inept like Cllr Wickes at the helm of education two years after he should have bowed out despite a consummate amount of public pressure!

As the race for 2015 and the local elections begin the various parties begin their march. The Tories are looking to fortify their position, maybe gain some more in Watling ward and play on their (our) record in Coalition.

Cllr Maple is preparing his Labour troops for a sweeping victory in swing seats, parliamentary seats and indeed wipe the Medway Libdems from the face of the Medway political map.

We are planning on holding our seats as well as modest gains in Watling, Rainham North and Gillingham North at the cost of Cllr Cooper or Stamp following their defection from Independent group to Labour. The latter one is of particular interest as I'm in the mix for that.

So why are UKIP welcome?

Firstly - it could cost the Conservatives quite a few seats as their vote divides in places leaving the way open to another opposition party, maybe Labour, maybe us depending on the area. The Tory's massive machine could lose up to a third in the enfilading fire from the right and protest votes - big hitters like Jarrett and Chambers could find the Tory heart lands dissolving in two.

Secondly - street campaigns and statistic collecting have shown the majority of people switching to vote UKIP have come from the Conservatives but also from Labour rather than from us. This is good as where as the big two need to go out and rally their voters and try and win back hearts and minds we just need to cling to our loyal voters and sway a few soft liberals - even soft Tories who are tired of this council's arrogance or are pro-Europe and fear the knee jerk drift right that may come from Cameron's leadership post '15.

This UKIP phase may just be flash in the pan, as we were once (if you listen to our critics) and if one of my friends stated once that those who say they'll vote UKIP are less likely to vote anyway then ultimately I'm wrong and another blue tide will sweep this Tory autocracy back into Gunwharf in 2015 having learnt nothing and the peoples of Medway can look forward to another four years of darkness with only Labour and the Libdems trading a few seats here or there.

Of course if I'm right... and let's face Gentlemen and Ladies of the Medway Conservative party... you've got to be looking at the Purple peril and thinking it is a possibility.... how prepared are UKIP? What are their strengths? Can they divide you?

Of course we'll have to wait and see in 2015 and I can only hope they do grow in the Conservative heartlands like the tumorous growth they are.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Chatham PPC Tristan Osborne's Misrepresentation on housing?

Yesterday's appearance by local Councillor and Parliamentary Candidate for Chatham & Aylesford
Tristan Osborne on a local BBC politics programme caused a stir on Twitter for all the wrong reasons.

Although I agree with the sentiment that the housing ladder is impossible to get onto for the majority of people of mine and Tristan's generation ( I think I'm 3 years older) and many of my friends who I went to Uni with have struggled and even had to get 90% mortgages with their parents acting as guarantors.

I was lucky - I guess - we are a small family and my granddad had divided his estate between my sister and I. I was able to get a 50% mortgage and it has kept our payments down so I've been able to support my small (and growing) family.

For others, it is a lot harder.

So what went wrong?

Well... Tristan made a bit of a sweeping generalisation and said... well here's what he said.

So why is that a problem.... Well there is an implication that he has struggled to get on the housing ladder with the rest of Generation Rent and is one of those that suffered as well.

Local Citizen Journalist Ed Jennings quickly dug out his home address from the Medway Councillor's register of interests (available on the Medway Council webpage) and then hopped on Zoopla to get an estimate value of the house.

It isn't up to me to reproduce Tristan's home address, the information is out there but I know how I'd feel if someone blogged my home address.

Ultimately the value of the terraced house came to approximately £306,942

As I understand it this property is owned not rented (I'm open to correction!!!) and the accusation from local Conservative Councillor Chris Irvine is that he has misrepresented himself to the viewers and voters.

I personally believe that it was a sweeping generalisation that people of our age are having trouble and was not meant to be a deliberate misrepresentation.

However I think that Tristan should clarify this.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Nick should not have gone against Nigel

Yesterday I renewed my Libdem membership again. I still have mixed feelings about some things but I do believe that we have a good record in Government and have achieved some great things that have benefited many working families like mine.

I also have mixed feelings about Nick as leader. Sometimes I find myself in despair of the things that we have signed up to and think that Nick should show more backbone and stand up for what he/we believe in but then I see him speak at conference, the news or listen to Call Clegg and I'm immediately back on side, there is definitely something charismatic and down to earth about Nick when he talks unlike the seemingly out of touch Etonian Cameron (A bit harsh I know but the way he is portrayed) and the tainted Ed Miliband whose role in the Brown regime has been white washed over but not forgotten. There is a new guy on the scene and he is dangerous, it is Nigel Farage.

I don't agree with Nigel or his party on a lot of things and I think some of their reported views are dangerous for society and this country. I fear the demonising of immigrants can lead to all kinds problems and stoke fires, fires that like minded people in the BNP would enjoy starting. The problem is UKIP is a lot more mainstream.

When you hear BNP you are immediately reviled and even though some might agree that Europe is a problem and there is an open door for "Johnny Foreigner" coming into the country deep down you know that they are racist with links to street mobs. UKIP is a similar sounding voice but is more rational. Instead of saying Get the foreigners out it is saying that immigration is a problem that needs to dealing with. Same point, different approach.

Farage's appeal to the average bod on the street is that he is pointing out all the things that we know are problems. The EU has mass problems with the way it is run and is far from perfect, the people of this country need a referendum to finally put this issue to bed one way or the other, immigration has been a concern for almost a decade and none of the big three parties have successfully dealt with it. The people of this country have been bombarded by lies and exaggeration about the European Union by newspapers like the Express and Mail for decades including the infamous "Your Bananas are to curved" story. He comes over as a man of the people seemingly speaking the views of the majority or indeed ideas that they can get behind or understand from the media - much in the same way that Nick did back in 2010 before he seemingly sold his soul to Cameron (again as portrayed in the media.).

With Nick's record and the accusations of pledge breaking and being under hand he will never win when it comes to arguing with Farage over how many laws are made for this Country in Brussels. The nation fears the worse and who are they going to believe?

Is it the guy who is seemingly confirming your worse fears and the stuff you sorta knew already from what you read in the papers or the guy who broke his pledge to the Students and who got the Tories into power bringing us fraking, bedroom tax, cuts and job losses through the Public sector? Nick can twist and turn with Farage and present facts but you cannot argue with the image of a man who is portrayed as talking sense and of the people when you yourself are considered a career politician who hasn't had a real job and is considered to be fast and lose with the truth.

What makes it worse is that if you hit the Twitterverse you see fellow Libdems saying; Didn't Nick do well? Didn't Farage look awful and like a zealot?

This is true, I thought he looked out of his depth and struggling in the face of the facts that Nick was presenting and playing down the alarmist stories and suggestions of a new City the size of Manchester being needed by 2019 (that is approximately homes for 502,900 (in the city and metropolitan area in 2011) people from Europe according to the accusation). The polls don't lie though, people are more inclined to believe Nigel with him coming out on top both times.
He has confessed he doesn't want power merely to bring the people of the UK to a vote and that is attracting so much support for common people who feel they should have a say, a say their parents and Grandparents never got in the 70s.

I should reiterate that I do agree with Nick on Europe and that we are better off in and working to reform from within rather than being powerless and sitting on the fence complaining about it. I also dislike Farage, I personally don't trust him and disagree with a lot of what his party says about things and believe that a lot of what they are doing is scare mongering and stoking fears to achieve their own political machinations.

I also think that although to some extent the debate was needed and it was good to see the differing opinions, it was also a bad idea. It has given far too much air time to a man who represents a party that has members with somewhat out dated (at best) and dangerous (as extreme) views about things and society in this country, a party that has at last count - zero MPs in parliament. He should not have been indulged on National Television and radio like this. A lot more people will have been attracted to his cause or party based on his performances rather than actual belief's and politics.

I also think Nick was wrong to go on personally. Like I said, I have a lot of time and admiration for Nick and he was one of my main inspirations and indeed role models for getting into politics and joining the party but his public image is not a good one. There was a reason (albeit petty) that Ed Miliband would not share a platform with Nick on equal marriage, he has become a political pariah and is considered almost a bogey man, a living embodiment of a man who has sold out his morals and beliefs for a ministerial car and office - which I still believe is untrue, mostly, depending on the day. The public believe the worse and that has come out of these polls leaving Farage all the more stronger.

We've even had people on the doorstep in Gillingham (thankfully in a Labour street!!!) telling us they are going to vote UKIP in 2015 because they're tired of the other parties and that Farage talks a lot of sense!!!!

All I cling to is that with declining numbers of people turning out to vote means hopefully less votes for UKIP - or they divide the Tory vote allowing more Libdems on Medway Council!

Friday, 4 April 2014

Campaigning for Europe in Gillingham

Catherine Bearder on the Streets of Gillingham
Last Saturday the Medway Liberal Democrats hit the streets of Gillingham - but this was not an average street canvassing or leafleting it was a special occasion.

The upcoming elections for the European Parliament are exceptionally important and as we are the only party of In and in full support of Europe we had to hit the streets and talk about the excellent work the party have achieved but we weren't doing it alone.

Standing with local party stalwarts like Councillor Diana Smith and Councillor Geoff Juby as well as regular activists and newbies was current standing MEP Catherine Bearder and candidate Antony Hook.

Whilst Nick Clegg has been standing up to Nigel Farage and the generalisations and lies about the European Union we took to the streets to try and dispel the myths on our doorstep.

There was quite some interest with many people drifting by on the bright sunny day and taking leaflets and others stopping to talk to our candidate and representative about specific issues like crime, immigration, economy and jobs.

The European Union is not the most perfect organisation in the world, there are a lot of questions that need answering and reform that needs to be done BUT the only way to reform it is to be inside it. I am a fan of Gillingham FC but I have serious questions about how the club is run and of the Chairman Paul Scally. The only way to have an input on this though is to be a shareholder - so I sit at home and mutter to myself. Should the UK leave the EU it will have to deal with them in the same way that Switzerland and Norway do but without any input into the trading agreements or how they work - so we will be sat at home muttering to ourselves.

The EU also provides money to worthy causes and projects including money for projects in Medway and regeneration of the Dock yard as well as charities - who is to say that our government, who have cut services and make massive efficiency savings would still invest in them as well?

It was a privilege to meet Catherine and Antony and to watch them talking with ease with the public in Gillingham High street and talk passionately about their work in the field and what the EU has to offer and the people we spoke to were impressed too.