Saturday, April 23, 2005

RIP Sir John Mills

Damn it. It would appear that I was at one of Mills' last public appearances, in which case.

Go on, check out his filmography. He was one of the greats, and will be much missed.

And afterwards, read how the Guardian has been stupid again.

General election blog roundup 12

Here you go. I'm in a foul mood, so that's all you're getting.

Friday, April 22, 2005

On the Campaign Trail

For the last week I've undergone interweb cold turkey on account of being ensconsed in one of England's safer constituencies, pounding the streets on behalf of a major political party.

Pretentious shroud of anonymity aside, the limited feeling I've picked up from middle England's doorstep is, perhaps, predictable. Aside from the usual core of rock-solid Tories and Old Labour socialists (as well as a scattering of Lib-Dem loyalists) the most common feeling has been one of total dissatisfaction (bordering on disgust) with Blair. I say Blair rather than Labour, as the most common reaction has been "we have to get that man out". Immigration is, sadly, a popular topic for concern, but residual anger over the war was stronger than I expected, especially given national polls which show it low down the list of concerns.

One powerful impression was of more active engagement than 2001. It would be downright stupid to extrapolate national feeling from such a tiny, unbalanced sample, but nonetheless it was encouraging to feel that people this time around are really taking an interest.

General election blog roundup 11

Compiled by yours truly with trademark wit and verve and up now at the General Election Blog. Lots of good stuff.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

A message to voters in Hampstead & Highgate

I can confirm that our Lib Dem candidate, Ed Fordham, is a thoroughly nice chap. No typical party apparatchik either. Of course, the same can also be said for out Labour candidate, Glenda Jackson. It's a tough choice, but these two are the only choice. The Tories, from what I can tell, aren't worth a look-in. But I've seen no campaign material from any party other than the Lib Dems.

But our Glenda has the significant disadvantage of having Blair as her party leader...

I will at this juncture declare an interest. I now owe Ed Fordham a pint. But I plan to get him one back at some point.

Make your own decision, but - to paraphrase that old dude from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - choose wisely. Don't vote in fear - as the Labour party would have you do with their scare stories of a Conservative win - vote for someone with whom you agree and who is worthy not just of your respect, but of your vote and your voice/

John O'Farrell tries to get me to vote Tory

The latest Labour email missive is particularly irritating, even by their usual smug, scare-mongering standards (link to follow, when I find it).

"if we don't get our voters to the polls on 5 May, we will have a Tory government in just two weeks' time. Simple as that. Four years of Prime Minister Michael Howard on the telly every night and the evening news having to have an 18 certificate."
Like the news shouldn't have had an 18 certificate for the last couple of years, with the mutilated bodies of dead Iraqis and coalition soldiers every night? With images of naked Iraqis being forced to simulate sexual acts? How the hell are the Tories going to up the stakes? And as far as I'm concerned, Howard would be just as much of an embarrassment as Blair. I want neither of them.
"At this election it will be harder to get our supporters to the polls and we may well have less people with which to do it."
Perhaps you should take this as an indication that Labour's doing something wrong?

Then comes a call for volunteers on election day:
"what are you realistically going to achieve by going into work on 5 May?"
Erm... Did Gordon Brown approve this suggestion? Somehow I doubt it...
"Imagine the satisfaction from discovering that a retired mini-cab driver wanted a lift to the polling station, saying 'yeah, the car's on its way' and then making him wait two hours."
Yep, taking the piss out of OAPs. That's a brilliant vote-winner, considering that they're the age group most likely to bother. What a tit.
"One day away from the office or four years of Michael Howard in office - surely it's no contest."
So, one day away from the office campaigning for Labour, or four years of a Tory government which promises to lower taxes as opposed to a Labour government which certainly will raise. Yep. No contest.

They really are going all-out to get us to vote for anyone but Labour, aren't they?

(Edited to make final paragraph make sense. Finally. Blogger being a dick. Sorry.)

General election blog roundup 10

Up now at the General Election Blog. One that particularly ccaught the eye was some musings on how immigration may be a class issue from Stumbling and Mumbling. Personally I've always reckoned that in the UK racism is mostly a class issue, so this struck a fair few chords. Worth a look.

Anyway, it's me doing it today, so any and all assistance would be much appreciated. Seen or written anything interesting? Email it to by about 7pm. Cheers!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Bye bye Berlusconi

So, farewell, then
Dodgiest democratically-elected dude
And longest-serving Italian premier for decades.
You followed Bush
Like a loyal pup,
But your corruption
And control of Italy's media,
Plus your arrogance
And self-pardoning ways,
Makes me glad you're gone,
Albeit only for now.

(With apologies to E.J. Thribb)

It's not racist to impose limits on immigration

It is, however, incredibly likely to appeal to and stir up racist sentiment. And it certainly IS racist to put up anti-immigration posters in close proximity to immigrant businesses and places of worship.

Michael Howard is not a racist. But he is fully aware of the racist, xenophobic sympathies he is appealing to, and his anti-immigration campaign is designed merely to stir up fear of the "other". This is how pogroms start - something of which Howard, considering his heritage, should be fully aware. Manipulate petty xenophobia and racism for political ends and soon the "petty" part ends up dropped. For short-term political gain, Howard is risking a long-term entrenchment and expansion of genuine racism - something which is not, and never has been, part of the British way of life.

General election blog roundup 9

Up now courtesy of the blogger formerly known as Chicken Yoghurt. He's attempted to abolish the numbering system, the bastard, but I shall continue to fight the good fight...

Also over at the General Election Blog I've put up another post related to my ongoing attempts to work out who to vote for, based on a campaign questionnaire that came through the letterbox today. May be of interest to some, at least...

Update: My local Lib Dem candidate has now emailed. He's read my commentary on the questionnaire, think's I've got some points wrong, reckons others are amusing and that others still are helpful. Also makes moderately reasonable points about why I should abandon a Labour MP with whom I agree on most things for his party. Some of the reasoning seems taken straight off the Backing Blair site... Seems like a nice enough bloke. I shall continue to ponder.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Frank Gardner

No editorialising from me, but this interview with the BBC's Frank Gardner, crippled by bullets while on a routine assignment in Saudi Arabia, is a must read.

Backing Blair shift in tactics, and who do I vote for?

This is pretty much what I reckon the Backing Blair campaign should have been all along - I hoped they'd get to it eventually. Now my local Labour MP (well, OK, technically not just at the moment) is on the "approved" list - which is only right, considering their voting record.

Nonetheless, Backing Blair is still cautious. A Labour member friend of mine was telling me the other day to vote Labour so that Gordon would have a good enough majority to get things done. I, like the Backing Blair lot, am not so sure:

"the message is no longer Vote LibDem, Get Tory, but instead Vote Blair, Get Brown.

"There are two reasons to distrust this new message. Firstly consider Tony Blair. Given all the dissembling over WMDs, the sheer scale of his betrayal of our trust, taking this into account, what guarantee do we have that he will indeed stand down? None. And when will he stand down? Possibly sometime in the next 5 years, but it all comes down to trust, a commodity which Blair is sadly lacking."
Either way, they now have a well-considered breakdown of constituencies in which anti-war, pro-civil liberties Labour candidates should receive our support as well as constituencies where the Lib Dems have a good chance of beating the Tories - either to first or to second place. It's worth having a quick gander.

I, meanwhile, am still waiting to hear from my local Lib Dem candidate. For anyone who's interested, this is what I've asked him:
Glenda Jackson has voted against the government consistently on the war in Iraq and ID cards, two of the major issues with which I am concerned. She's liable to continue to be a thorn in Blair's backside, and is well enough known for her views to get some airtime. She's also very pleasant in person - she bought me a coffee once when I was working at the House of Commons.

However, a vote for her is - thanks to the absurdity of the current system - also a vote for Blair as Prime Minister. I want him gone. My ideal scenario, short-term, is a Labour government led by Gordon Brown with the Liberal Democrats as the official opposition - allowing you lot time to build up enough knowledge and MPs with experience to be able to form a government in 5-10 years time.

At the moment, however, my prime concern is for Blair to have as tough a time of it as possible. How would you, as a new MP in what will likely remain the third party, be able to give him as tough a time as an ex-minister with name-recognition value through her acting work, who has publicly called on him to resign following the Hutton Enquiry and voted against the government consistently over the last few years?
Just remember folks - you don't have to make your final decision until polling day. I certainly haven't, and there's still time to win my support. A word of advice, though - don't fucking patronise me - I'll vote against you out of spite. I'm childish like that...

General election blog roundup 8

It's fairly packed this time, thanks to Nick Barlow.

And by the way, Mr Smarty-Pants Barlow, I shall continue to defend the true number - like the mighty silver-haired one, Kilroy himself, I shall fight for truth to be returned to the General Election Blog's roundup numbering system. Akin to those brave and noble souls who valiantly protested against the heinous loss of 11 good, strong English days with the vile switch to the doubtless EU-sponsored Gregorian calendar in 1752, I verrily ne'er shalt desist in mine righteous toil until the disgracefully-mislaid weblog collation is returned to us, it's distraught admirers. Unless I get bored, that is...

(Come on UKIP/Veritas - why not include a return to the Julian calendar in your election promises? What's with all this wishy-washy continental dating nonsense, eh? The return of those 11 days is long, long overdue - and the British people would truly bow down in awe before you should you succeed. Hell, you might even get my vote, just for the amusement value...)

Monday, April 18, 2005

The unfairness of the system

Tim Hicks, using the BBC's electoral calculator, again highlights how insane the current voting system is.

With the three main parties on 30% of the vote each, 10% going to others, here are the results we would get:

Labour 328, Conservatives 201, Liberal Democrats 86, Others 31

That's on the same share of the popular vote. Democracy? Bollocks, more like.

Non-story of the day - or is it?

Labour has hinted that if France rejects the EU constitutional treaty in its upcoming referendum (as the polls suggest it might) then the UK won't have to hold one of its own.

Well, dur... Of course we won't. If France rejects the constitution, that means it cannot possibly come into force. All it takes is one member state to say "No", and the entire thing gets thrown out. So there'd be less than no point in holding our own referendum - unless, of course, you want to waste a vast amount of money on asking the country whether or not they approve of a treaty which no longer has any possibility of coming into effect.

The only question is - why are Labour bringing this up now? It's an utterly pointless distraction. Unless, of course, this is the first step towards launching Labour's secret weapon. The Tories have already said that they'll hold the referendum six months after coming to power. Could this be Labour's way of bringing up the contentious and divisive EU issue prior to the election? I wouldn't put it past them. Say what you like about Labour - they're not stupid...

General election blog roundup 7

I flatly refuse to accept this new numbering heresy. Roundup 7 (NOT 8) is here.

As an extra until I find more time, check out The New York Times' profile of Michael Howard (reg. or BugMeNot required). They seem to be comparing him to Sandra Bullock...

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Tactical voting

Superb stuff - complete with handy, easy to understand graphs and stuff - showing just how anti-Labour tactical voting in favour of the Lib Dems won't let the Tories into power, from Cabalamat Journal. A must-read.

"The Tories, on a constant 34% share of the vote, gain the maximum number of seats on a 13% swing from Lab to LD, i.e. where the Labour vote is 24.8% and the Liberal Democrat vote is 32.5%. The maximum seats the Tories get is 301. There will be 646 seats in the next parliament, so to get an overall majority they would need 324; thus, the best the Tories would do is 23 seats short."
A 13% swing is pretty much unprecedented. It's not going to happen. As for the Tories?
"A Conservative overall majority is wildly implausible. For it to happen, they would have to poll about 12 points higher than Labour, without the Lib Dem share of the vote rising to steal otherwise-Tory seats... There's no point in being concerned about a Tory government unless they start consistently polling at least 5 points above Labour, and even then a Tory government is a remote possibility."
Lest we forget, the best the Tories managed in today's polls was 1 point behind Labour. But the way the first past the post system and the current make-up of the constituencies work, even if they get an equal share of the popular vote, Labour will still be returned with a majority. The best the Tories have managed to do in the polls so far was a one-off aberration which saw them 5 points ahead about two weeks ago. That's 7 points less than they need to safely form a government.

So can we now please shut up with the scare tactics?

At the moment I'm still undecided. But as someone who's pro-EU, the only choice is Labour or Lib Dem. And the more I hear Labour telling me how a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for the Tories when that's so blatantly yet another lie, the more I feel tempted to abandon my current anti-war, anti-ID card, anti-detention without trial Labour MP and chuck a vote at Charlie and co.

Update: This site may be handy - lots of pretty graphs and stuff showing opinion poll-based projected results.

General election blog roundup 6

UP now at the General Election Blog (and yes, I know it says it's number 7 - technically it is, but meh...)

Poll-wise, everyone's got confused. What's it to be?

Various polls for various papers today have major variations, so let's have a run down:

Sunday Times:
Labour 36%, Tories 35%, LibDems 23%

News of the World:
Labour 40%, Tories 36%, LibDems 19%

Sunday Telegraph:
Labour 40%, Tories 30%, LibDems 22%

Independent on Sunday:
Labour 40%, Tories 34%, LibDems 22%

Interstingly, both the News of the World and the Telegraph polls came from the same company - so how come the 6% difference in Conservative votes? Either way, A Logical Voice sums it up fairly neatly: "Polls give Labour a majority of between 60 and 152 seats... that sort of majority would be absolutely scandalous".

As ever, UK Polling Report has more.

Oh, and it looks like Labour may have twigged that they'll be able to secure more votes if they start hinting at an early Blair exit. The Independent on Sunday claims to have evidence that Blair is preparing to hand power over to Brown, along with a poll which reckons that with Brown in charge, Labour would be 12 points ahead... As I pointed out ages ago, Vote Blair, Get Brown could be Labour's best possible strategy...

Update: Tim Worstall's weekly Britblog Roundup is now up, and as ever it's a good un.

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