The Rambles of Neil Monnery

Another pointless voice in the vast ocean that is the interweb

On the depressing road to where reasonable politics goes to die…

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On Monday (or was it Tuesday?) whenever it was, 14 Labour MPs walked through the government lobbies in an attempt to ensure Brexit happens on March 29, whatever that Brexit is. They did so for a variety of reasons but lets be honest, who honestly gives two hoots?

The reason I say that is because is actually doesn’t matter. All that matters these days is our own opinions and whatever actually happens in the real world, we’ll find a way to match up our own pre-deposed thoughts with what is going down in reality.

The other morning I was reading a story in the Guardian about Nick Clegg and his role at Facebook. The comments were a sight to behold. Probably 80% of the people were raging on Facebook and the fact that the former leader of the Liberal Democrats had taken a job with the company. Many said that if he truly cared about helping then he would campaign against Facebook on his own dime instead of trying to help from within.

Some even belittled Clegg as a nobody and had no idea why Facebook would want an experienced politician who knows his way around the European Union, is respected on the continent and speak five languages fluently. Yeah it is a complete mystery to me…

The point is people don’t like Nick Clegg. Some may say justifiably so but people have made up their opinions and anyone who doesn’t think he’s awful and a complete waste of space is just plain wrong. He could invent a teleportation device or cure the common cold and a significant number of people would say he’s only done so because he’s a Tory stooge or that it didn’t negate the damage of tuition fees.

Take Jeremy Corbyn as another example. He has followers who would follow him to the end of the Earth and still hail him as their saviour. People who hate Brexit would still vote loyally for the Labour leader as they believe he is playing the long-game. The same can be true of Bernie supporters, Trump supporters, Farage supporters. Name any politician who stands more than a stones throw away from the centre and you’ll find their supporters are far more loyal and unwavering.

This is what scares me. People aren’t questioning politicians any more, not even ones they generally agree with. If you’ve followed my politics or even just know me, you’ll know that I’m a Cleggite. I think being socially slightly left of centre and economically slightly right of centre is a good place to be. That doesn’t mean I think he walks on water or gets everything right. I like being able to engage my own brain and seek out some answers for myself. Being spoon fed and lapping up the party line just doesn’t sit well for me.

As long as we put our faith in people and not policies/actions then we are doomed to become diminished as a race. Democracy only works when people look at elections with open eyes. People can and often do change their minds and just loyally voting for any person or party with blind loyalty is bad.

The world of social media allows us to stay within our bubble and have our own viewpoints reinforced with spectacular ease. People don’t like debate any more. They like being right and having those thoughts backed up.

Politics is far from reasonable these days. When elections turn on the likes of Gillian Duffy and how someone eats a bacon sandwich, does that sound like reasonable politics to you? It sure as hell doesn’t me but what the hell do I know? I don’t think anyone is perfect and therefore clearly something must be wrong with me…

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Written by neilmonnery

January 31st, 2019 at 12:09 pm

On Renewing my Lib Dem membership in the age of Brexit and Corbynmania…

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This wasn’t a slam dunk decision. Since moving away from my local party in 2017 where I was relatively active, albeit in the background, I haven’t attended any type of political meeting or undertook any real campaigning. Being detached from such things does weaken the ties but that wasn’t what I was truly struggling with.

The big problem was the fact Brexit has become this all consuming behemoth of a monstrosity that is suffocating the life out of actual politics. You know, the day to day things that actually make a difference to all of our lives. It is clear that the vast majority of those coming into politics at the moment are here for one of two reasons, either they are inspired by Brexit one way or the other or Jeremy Corbyn is giving them (false?) hope of a brighter tomorrow and that socialism is really going to cure the nation of all of its ills.

Personally, I didn’t get involved in politics because of the European Union. I voted Remain and would do so again if there was a second referendum. The merits of remaining in the EU far outweigh the negatives in my opinion. To paraphrase James Carville, who some would know as the man behind Bill Clinton’s shock Presidential win in 1992 but others will know from making betting picks on The Tony Kornheiser Show, it’s the economy stupid.

Yes, being better off isn’t the be all and end all but it is a pretty darn good starting position for working out where we all want to be in life. Having a strong economy and growing our workforce with well paying jobs is surely what most of us want to see.

Seeing some Brexiteers saying things like having the economy go into the tank will be good as it will bring us all together and forge our bulldog spirit makes it seem that not everything thinks this. Some are happy to pay a price to get Brexit, the problem from my vantage point is most of those people either know they’ll be ok so don’t care or don’t fully understand the ramifications of any potential No Deal Brexit.

Yet I’ve hit the point where I just don’t care. Well maybe don’t care isn’t the right term. I am just Brexited out as it were and it isn’t just the side I disagree with that I’m tarring with this brush. Some strong Remainers do my nut in as well because they don’t see the bigger picture. Both sides are becoming more and more entrenched in their position and as a result, our country is being paralysed.

In the past couple of decades we’ve seen many big changes push through parliament. Some for the better and some for the worse. Still shit was getting done. Now it might be just me and the fact I’m holding politics at arms length at the moment but what has happened in this parliament bar lots of bickering about Brexit?

I am sitting here racking my brains trying to think of some major policy that has gone through the House of Commons and I’m just coming up short. This country faces so many problems but they all need to sit and wait whilst the Brexit shit is sorted out.

The complication in all this is of course it is nigh on impossible for it to actually get sorted out. There will be a great swathe of the electorate who will be unhappy whatever happens. This country of ours has rarely been divided along such toxic lines. Both sides believe they are right and the other just flat out wrong. Belittling someone with an opposing view is just not on and to be perfectly honest, I’m just oh so tired of it. The #FPBE crowd do my head in as much as the arch Brexiteers.

Still despite my absolute despair at the current political climate, the Lib Dems got another few quid from me and I’ll roll on. Getting actively involved again may have to wait until the country is ready to actually get on with things that aren’t all Brexit, all the time. To be fair to my new local party where I moved to this year, the ward I live in has very active campaigners who focus on local issues. It makes a welcome break from the constant noise surrounding the referendum.

I suppose my major issue is there are few places in politics for people like me at the moment. Unless you are all over the Brexit situation and live and die by the latest news or are part of the cult of Jeremy Corbyn, there isn’t much for you. If you are/were politically aware but want to focus on a non-Brexit issue or aren’t infatuated with Magic Grampa then where do you go? They are the big political stories at the moment, one is straitjacketing the country and the other is willing to burn everything to the ground so that their starry eyed hero can rebuild everything in the way they want.

Politics wasn’t really ever much fun but it was interesting. Now it isn’t even really that.

Still you never know, 2019 might not all be about Brexit and Corbyn. I mean is possible…

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December 28th, 2018 at 3:44 pm

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On why those who want to #FireJamesFranklin need to get in the sea…

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Sports. Sports. Sports. Oh how it brings joy and how it brings deep deep sorrow. It is the latter that it uppermost in my mind this Sunday as last night (or the early hours as it was here) Penn State once more found an agonising way to lose a game against a top tier opponent that in reality they should have won. The last four defeats have been by a combined eight points and in all four, the team led in the fourth quarter. It is quite simply heartbreaking.

Yet sometimes perspective is needed. I know sports and perspective are often alien concepts. Sports goes much better with an emotional response than a calm and reasoned one.

This is why I was so disheartened at some of the Penn State faithful that are calling for the head of Coach James Franklin right now. I know it is a very small minority of those who claim to support the program who want a change at the top but if we’ve learned one thing in this social media era, it is that those who are in the minority can yell enough that they’l be noticed and gain at least some traction.

Penn State football should be pretty much dead and buried. The sanctions handed down following the Jerry Sandusky scandal were meant to crush the program for a decade or more. Six years later and they are very much nationally relevant once more. Even with another gutting defeat, the playoffs aren’t completely out of reach and multiple pundits think that even with the loss, Penn State may still stay in the top ten when the AP Poll comes out later today.

The reason for this can be laid firmly at the feet of the very man some people want to run out of town. Coach Franklin has helped turn around the narrative at State College. This is a team that is clearly improving year in, year out. The coaching in general seems pretty good (although if someone can teach how to actually tackle that would be a nice bonus and how many times can wide open receivers drop passes?) I digress. In general the coaches seem to be getting players to play at a level beyond what the recruiting services believed they would. This isn’t the be all and end all but it is a good indication.

Speaking about recruiting, who five years ago could say hand on heart that top players, with their pick of pretty much any college in the country would even consider Penn State, let alone some of them end up signing? Year in, year out the evaluation of high school talent has continued to impress. Getting some of those young men to commit to play for him is a massive part of his job, one he clearly excels at. If anyone has issues with his recruiting prowess then I firmly believe they will not listen to rhyme or reason.

Some may question a play call here and there, that is part of being a fan. For example from my sofa I wanted to kick three instead of going for the 4th down yesterday. I know it would’ve been a 42 odd yard kick with a rookie kicker but I liked the percentages. In general I’m an aggressive sofa coach but I didn’t like that call. When it became a throw that was blocked and not a Trace keeper/scramble of some sort then I liked it even less. I didn’t like the attempt to force feed Tommy Stevens early in the game. As for the 4th and 5 play call that ended it, despite all I’ve seen and read since, how you take the ball out of number nine’s hands, I have no idea.

That however is part of sports. We all have our opinions and sometimes I sit on the sofa, disagree with a coaches decision and it works out because you know what, I’m not always right and nor is James Franklin. No-one is right 100% of the time. This is true for all the other angry people on social media or commenting on BlackShoeDiaries etc…

I saw someone using the hashtag in the title saying that he never wanted Coach Franklin because he had only gone 7-6, 9-4 and 9-4 at Vanderbilt. He won nine games in back-to-back years at Vandy, doesn’t this idiot understand just how impressive a feat this is? He also says he’s never run an elite program before so he doesn’t deserve the Penn State job, well he might not have noticed that Penn State hasn’t been an elite program for an awfully long time and the journey towards it is being led by Coach Franklin. Winning ten regular season games in 2016 and 2017 was fantastic. The talent gap is closing on the top programs in the nation and soon those close defeats will turn into victories.

Losing hurts and this is the one team that I still deeply care for. I enjoy a Pompey win but a loss doesn’t crush me. Same with Hampshire, same with the Jaguars, Yankees et al but I won’t sit here and throw my toys out of the pram just because my team didn’t win a game. That is a very Millennial thing to do and as much as I loathe that term, sometimes I do look at younger people (well people my age and younger in all honesty) and wonder just where did they get this sense of entitlement from?

No program is entitled to dominate sports. Any sport. Those fans that believe a change in Head Coach will mean we suddenly win the big games or don’t squander fourth quarter leads seem to think one change fixes all. In general the whole PSU football program is moving forwards. Coach Franklin is a fantastic leader and doesn’t want his players just to play school. He prioritises education and lets be honest here, for some coaches that isn’t important but we expect more.

Success with Honor (or Honour as I’d spell it, what it is with American’s and their dislike of the letter u?) is something worth fighting for. I’d prefer to lose an extra game here and there if it was because players got a better education, became better citizens and had better opportunities in life. Winning a darn football game isn’t everything.

Anyway I’ve waffled on for long enough and I’ve only had two hours sleep. The long and short of it is Coach Franklin has made it possible to be proud to support the Penn State Football program once again. Clearly the team are going in the right direction. The young talent coming through is exciting and depth is being built. Recruiting is far better than it has been in decades and fantastic young men are coming to play and get at education at Penn State.

Those that want to #FireJamesFranklin need to get in the sea and get some expletive perspective. Is he perfect? No, but who is? Will he makes mistakes? Sure, but who doesn’t? All anyone can do in life is learn and continue to move forward. That is a great life lesson for us all and changing everything because you aren’t happy with one thing is not smart. Look at those who voted Trump or voted for Brexit just to change the status quo, how many of them are truly happy with what is going down on either side of the pond right now?

Seeing people, Penn State fans, genuinely wanting Franklin gone makes me angry but more than that, it makes me sad that people expect perfection from others.

On that note, going away from CJF, The coach is a man as are his staff but the kids are just that. Kids. Bemoaning a play here and there is fair enough but seeing people – fans – tweet at young men trying their best and dishing out the abuse. Well that alone is a sad indictment of modern day society. That might be even worse than people calling for Franklin’s head. Just because a player misses a tackle or drops a pass, who decided it was fair game to tweet them saying how bad they were? These are student-athletes. They aren’t getting paid. I wonder how many of those who send such tweets at these teenagers and young men would like being criticised by people they don’t know for their work/sporting performance by anonymous people on the internet?

You treat people how you would like to get treated yourself. If you wouldn’t like 100s of people ridiculing you on social media for mucking up that big presentation or for failing a school exam or for missing an open goal in a kick-about with your friends, then why would you deem it fair to do it to others?

Yes losing sucks. It really sucks but it is a darn sight better than not playing at all, not being relevant in big games or even worse, being Rutgers…

With that I have one final thing to say.

We are…

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Written by neilmonnery

September 30th, 2018 at 4:37 pm

Posted in American Sport

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On tuition fees being a more important issue than racism…

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The following is a conversation that may or may not have happened over social media last night following the Survation poll that put UKIP ahead of the Lib Dems.

Person 1: Lib Dems down 4% again. They get what they fucking deserve.

Person 2: Eh?

Person 1: Lying about tuition fees. The sooner they become extinct the better.

Person 2: So you are happy with the poll?

Person 1: Fuck yes.

Person 2: But you’ve received plenty of racist abuse over the years and you are rejoicing that UKIP are polling above the Lib Dems.

Person 1: No, I’m happy the Lib Dems are down because why anyone votes for them when they lied about raising tuition fees is beyond me.

Person 2: But the poll shows there is more support for a party I know you think is populated by racists and xenophobes but that isn’t important to you?

Person 1: It is but I hate the Lib Dems.

Person 2: You also hate Brexit.

Person 1: And?

Person 2: UKIP are pretty much the reason Brexit is happening. Oh and the fact it was a plan for David Cameron to quell his backbenchers followed by Jeremy Corbyn refusing to really put his whole muster behind the Remain campaign.

Person 1: Jeremy Corbyn can’t be blamed for any of this. He said he wanted to Remain on The Last Leg.

Person 2: Yeah it wasn’t exactly a wholehearted endorsement was it?

Person 1: If he said it then he meant it.

Person 2: Didn’t he say he was behind Remaining in the European Union like 7 or 8 out of ten or something like that?

Person 1: Good enough for me.

Person 2: Why didn’t he campaign with the other party leaders on it then?

Person 1: Jeremy is his own man and does things how he wants.

Person 2: Really…?

Person 1: Yes.

Person 2: Has Jeremy ever done anything wrong in your eyes?

Person 1: He speaks for me and everyone who cares about others and not capitalist ideals.

Person 2: What did you make of Ed Miliband’s Labour leadership?

Person 1: He lost. He was a loser. Just like Brown and Blair before him.

Person 2: Blair won three landslides.

Person 1: Only because the Tories were so shit. No-one voted for him just against the Tories.

Person 2: Did Jeremy win the 2017 General Election then?

Person 1: Yes.

Person 2: No he didn’t.

Person 1: He did better than everyone expected and that is the important thing.

Person 2: No it isn’t. Surely actually you know, winning and being able to implement his policies and manifesto is the most important thing?

Person 1: That is what people like you always say, winning is secondary to doing the right thing.

Person 2: Surely in politics, if you don’t win then you can’t do anything that your supporters actually voted for?

Person 1: He is holding the government to account.

Person 2: Do you actually believe anything you’ve said in this conversation?

Person 1: Of course. All of it.

Person 2: So you are still happy the Lib Dems are below UKIP in that one poll?

Person 1: The sooner the Lib Dems die, the sooner more people will vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

Person 2: That isn’t strictly true now is it?

Person 1: Yes, they wouldn’t vote for the Tories and the Greens are nothing.

Person 2: Did you not see the 2015 General Election?

Person 1: I did.

Person 2: And the way all those Tory/Lib Dem seats went Tory. Even places with like a 20,000 Tory majority went blue. So all those people who had voted Lib Dem before didn’t suddenly all vote for Labour then did they?

Person 1: That was Ed Miliband though.

Person 2: So under Jeremy Corbyn that wouldn’t have happened?

Person 1: No.

Person 2: So why didn’t all those seats suddenly turn red in 2017?

Person 1: Change takes time. Jeremy is building momentum and soon everyone will see that he’s the future. The Tories are the past and the sooner the Lib Dems die or become completely irrelevant the better.

Person 2: So let me get this straight. You hate Brexit. You hate the Tories. You hate UKIP but most of all, the top of your list is hatred of the Lib Dems over tuition fees.

Person 1: I suppose when you put it like that no.

Person 2: Then why rejoice the fact UKIP climbed above them in that poll?

Person 1: Because they lied and I can’t forgive them.

The mind boggles. I still think the Lib Dems biggest problem isn’t tuition fees per se but more the fact that many people feel like a jilted lover. They feel for Nick Clegg and his hopes of doing things a third way but when it came to the parliamentary maths, the only plausible way to provide a stable government was to form the Con/LD coalition. That isn’t what people voted and when he couldn’t honour all his manifesto (with particular reference to that one bit) then that was enough.

Voting isn’t about reason anymore. It is about emotion. Few people actually look at the candidates they are going to have on their ballot. Few look at the manifestos in full. What is en vogue is going to the ballot box and have a feeling, whether they is voting for somebody or indeed voting against somebody.

To get people to go out and vote you need to give them that emotional reason to do so. A million more people did that for the Lib Dems in 2010 than they had done five years previously. Hope was in the air but a lot of people these days want everything or nothing. Small steps of progress is not enough. This is why Jeremy Corbyn does well up to his limit. People feel that he has the power to change everything in one foul swoop and until he has a semblance of power to actually do so, he can talk the good game and doesn’t need to back it up.

In American Football the most popular player on a bad team is always the backup Quarterback because they provide hope that things can get better. Until they get their chance then they don’t have to prove it and that is exactly how it is with JC at the moment. He can promise the Earth and a socialist revolution but until he gets his chance, people will always believe he can do it all.

Logically the Lib Dems should be recovering. The majority of people seem to back a second vote based on the outcome of the Brexit Deal, which is the key issue facing the country today. Most of the big names tainted with the coalition are gone. In most of their key areas they are Tory facing and they are in absolute disarray. Labour aren’t doing too much better on that front. Yet when it comes to actually voting, people vote with their hearts and not their heads and that stench of betrayal isn’t leaving the Lib Dems anytime soon. It is tough but when you are a Labour Remain voter but prefer UKIP to the Lib Dems, that says an awful lot about where people’s heads are at…

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

September 5th, 2018 at 9:30 am

On Kate Hoey and Vauxhall Labour…

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Kate Hoey and the constituents of Vauxhall are one of my pet projects on twitter. Every time the MP makes a statement about Brexit or votes for as hard a Brexit as possible, I get out on iPhone and write a pithy tweet about the people getting what they voted for. Last year the country went to the polls and in Vauxhall, a constituency that voted overwhelmingly to Remain in the European Union, they flocked to the ballot box in their droves to ensure that the arch Brexiteer Hoey was the person representing them in Parliament. Why did they do that? Well it is because they decided that MPs aren’t important.

In the past few years we’ve become more Presidential in our style of politics. The fact that during the last campaign, Theresa May and her team decided that instead of being called the Conservatives, being called Theresa May’s Team would be more effective branding. They were wrong. Not because the Conservative Party have a very strong and desirable brand but because she was bloody awful on the campaign trail.

For Labour, Jeremy Corbyn went from panel show punching bag to potentially the Prime Minister of this country. People started to buy into his vision once they understood just how vulnerable Theresa May was and in fact there was an alternative to a stonking Tory majority. The problem with this was instead of looking at all the candidates on the ballot paper, people started to just look at the party and in effect, solely the leadership. It was a referendum on Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Tim Farron to a large degree across England. In Scotland throw in Nicola Sturgeon too.

When people do this (and lets be honest, this is what the media has dictated over the past couple of decades) then it allows people to vote for someone who plainly doesn’t represent them. Whose fault is this? Well it on the electorate.

Using Vauxhall as the example, people will say they went out and voted for Jeremy Corbyn and his vision of the country but what they were in fact doing was voting for Kate Hoey. It was her name on that piece of paper and with every x in a box, it was an endorsement from the people of Vauxhall that her strong views on a hard Brexit were the ones that people felt aligned to. I know many will say that wasn’t the case but we vote for representatives in Parliament in this country, we don’t vote for a directly elected Head of State.

Only once have I voted for someone I knew absolutely nothing about. Looking back I am a little bit disappointed that I voted that way without at least Googling something about the candidate or reading something about them. Having been involved in politics, it is pretty clear to me that all parties can have good candidates who would be excellent councillors and MPs. On the flip side all can have bad ones as well. The person you are voting for is just as and often even more important the the rosette they wear.

Vauxhall Labour activists last night voted to deselect Kate Hoey as their candidate going forward, claiming that she doesn’t represent them. The pertinent parts of the motion are quoted below:

‘In June 2017 Kate Hoey was elected on a manifesto which explicitly rejected Theresa May’s approach to Brexit and pledged in a letter to constituents that she endorsed Labour’s plans.

‘This CLP censures Kate Hoey MP for repeatedly reneging on those commitments, and ignoring the clearly stated views of her constituents and the national and local Labour Party.’

‘This CLP therefore requests that the leader of the Labour party and chief whip suspend Kate Hoey from the Parliamentary Labour Party and remove the whip; and that the National Executive Committee declare Kate Hoey ineligible for re-selection or endorsement as a Labour party parliamentary candidate.’

You see I disagree with a lot of that. It was clear and obvious where Kate Hoey stood with regards to the EU. It doesn’t matter what the manifesto said, her position was there for all to see. It is hard therefore to attack her now for those views. It is akin to hiring someone totally unsuitable for a job despite them telling you in an interview that they would be shit and had no idea. Kate Hoey was a hard Brexiteer when 31,576 people voted for her in June 2017 and she is that now. A leopard doesn’t change its spots and just because you’ve only just noticed what she’s about, that doesn’t mean you should be surprised.

If you lived in Vauxhall and voted for Kate Hoey, you knew what you were getting. This wasn’t like the EU Referendum where it can be argued that there was some ambiguity about what people were voting for. Not all 17.4million who voted to Leave wanted the hardest Brexit possible. Some will have wanted looser ties towards the EU but on a cliff edge being jumped off of. Yet the people in Vauxhall knew what they were voting for. They voted in their droves for Kate Hoey and she is doing the job that her electorate clearly endorsed her to do and that is make Brexit as UKIPpy as possible.

If the constituents wanted an MP who’d fight Brexit then they had a more than capable alternative in George Turner. The vast majority however decided to approve of Kate Hoey and her love of Brexit. The people knew it her views, the local party knew her views so why they are making a fuss about it now I have no idea. I think Hoey is awful and is a shocking representative for the people of Vauxhall in Westminster but the voted and they got what they plainly voted for – a hard Brexiteer.

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Written by neilmonnery

July 27th, 2018 at 9:32 am

Posted in Politics

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On Late Night Poker…

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Whilst reading ESPN the other day I came across a link talking about Phil Hellmuth Jr. winning yet another World Series of Poker bracelet and it started taking me back. You see many years ago I would watch a TV show called Late Night Poker, which was broadcast on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom. It was the first time that Poker had been shown on TV in the UK and it quickly became a late night hit amongst young people.

The under the table cameras brought a unique insight into what was going on and it brought in a brand new wave of poker enthusiasts to the sport. Without these then it would be extremely difficult for poker to ever succeed as a spectator sport, who would want to watch several people sitting around a table and only know what was going on when the cards were turned over? There is a big difference between playing poker and watching it on TV.

Players who appeared on this show, which started nearly nearly two decades ago are still fresh in the mind. The aforementioned Hellmuth won Season 3 and was one of the big stars but people like Devilfish, Ross & Barney Boatman and Ram Vaswani quickly became names and faces that the casual fan would know.

What Late Night Poker did however was slow-play the way in which the viewer would find out exactly what cards all the players around the table had. Instead of just showing all hands on screen, which is the norm nowadays, the producer would only show one or two hands, putting the person at home in the position of trying to work out what they might do if they were in the position of the players whose hand we hadn’t seen.

In 2017, Josh Hesp, a 67 year-old man who runs a caravan park in Bridlington became the second biggest winner from the UK, having secured just over £2,000,000 for his fourth placed finish at the main event. Playing in the Main Event was part of his bucket list and it sure was a change of scenery compared to his local casinos in Hull. Wgilst he didn’t win, this payout is part of the legacy of the original Late Night Poker as its brand of poker, No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em wasn’t very popular in the United Kingdom before the TV show. Since then however it has become the bread and butter version of the card game played across these four nations.

It would help spawn a whole new group of people who would go on to create poker schools or get involved in the internet revolution that has enabled fans of card games, slot games and the like to play from the comfort of their own PC or laptop. One of these website is NetBet Casino. With several video poker options along with a variety of slot games and roulette tables, it is a one stop shop for the online gambler.

Late Night Poker helped create a poker school that I was part of in the early 2000s. The stakes weren’t high, maybe the winner won a bag of doughnuts or a pint from the other players but it was extremely enjoyable. The show was revolutionary and if Channel 4 wanted to bring it back, I’m pretty sure it would be a late night hit once more…

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Written by Ian Pope

July 16th, 2018 at 10:24 am

Posted in Uncategorized

On Nick Clegg’s comments Re: Freedom of Movement in the Financial Times…

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The last time I took any interest in the figures, the Lib Dems had around 100,000 members. It would probably be fair to say that I’m in the top 1% of those people with regards to my support of the former leader and Deputy Prime Minister. I have written many blog posts defending Nick Clegg but the moment I saw the words that he’d typed out in his Financial Times column, I knew it was going to be a lightning rod for criticism.

The premise of the piece is that freedom of movement within the European Union shouldn’t be a given. An unchallenged principle. He puts forward that this is the right time to look at reforming both internal and external immigration. If they did this then it would grease the wheels between the UK and the other 27 states.

It is probably accurate to say that immigration played a significant role in the outcome of the EU Referendum in 2016. If being part of the EU came with an opt-out of freedom of movement then I suspect that would be sufficient for enough people who voted Leave to have actually voted Remain. The problem in this scenario is that this option wasn’t on the table and is goes against a fundamental principle of the modern EU.

When Nick Clegg penned the article, he knew it would fly in the face of what many grass root Lib Dems believe. He’s never been one to be overtly political when it comes to appeasing the members, so putting forth such an opinion shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. With his political ambitions seemingly in his rear view mirror, it has allowed him to be even more bold in airing his points of view.

When I first read the piece and saw some of the responses from the Twitterati, I thought back to how Labour members now view Tony Blair. It seems that political parties are broad coalitions of people who generally have similar views but don’t always think the same. When one leader comes then a significant number of the membership will shy away. When they go these people may come back and get more involved with those that strongly supposed the previous leader stepping back. Tony Blair is a swear word within Labour at the moment and Nick Clegg isn’t too far away from that within the Lib Dems.

This is why Tim Farron probably got more leash than he arguably should have had. The membership after 2015 didn’t want another Centrist and instead wanted someone untainted from the coalition. Had Nick Clegg had such a gay sex issue that Tim Farron seems to hold then the clamour to remove him would’ve been far more fierce than it was for the leader who led the party into the 2017 General Election.

Still, Clegg’s name is far more muddied than Farron’s. This column will not have helped. On one hand you can put your own views to one side and understand that maybe it is a debate worth having. I wouldn’t personally say it was but you can at least understand that point of view. Well I can anyway. Yet all that will come about from this piece is more Lib Dems will deride Nick Clegg and look forward to him leaving the party. If he resigned then many would rejoice. This is part of the problem within political parties, many people only want those who agree with them on every issue to be fellow members. If you have a differing position to the majority then you are pilloried.

The truth is across Europe, more people are questioning both the internal and external migration situation. On a personal level, I believe migration across the Globe should be far more open than it is. We are but one race and are all supposedly born equal. Should where you are a born give someone more of a birthright to live and work somewhere? Should an Englishman have more or less of a right to live and work in England compared to someone from say Nigeria or Costa Rica? It may sound a bit Utopian but I believe borders should be even more open.

Yet even though I believe in that, I can understand that the majority of people disagree and that the idea of Freedom of Movement within the European Union shouldn’t be unchallenged. I can disagree with Nick Clegg without hating on the man. Sadly we are at the point where discussion and nuance has become a tiny part of political discourse. Now we only see headlines and compare them to our personal beliefs.

Politics is poorer these days and the reaction to this article is a prime example of why. On a day when Theresa May promised £20bn for the NHS but pretty much refused to say how she’d pay for it, the Lib Dem membership are concentrated on an article from their former leader about how to make membership of the EU work better for those that are sceptical. Kicking Nick Clegg has become a comfort blanket, just like Labour members love kicking Tony Blair.

Disagreement is normal in both life and politics. Just because someone floats an idea different to what you think doesn’t make them bad. It means they are tackling an issue from a contrasting angle and that is rarely a bad thing. If we all had a hive mind, we’d be a cult and UK politics already has one of them, it doesn’t need another…

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Written by neilmonnery

June 17th, 2018 at 2:45 pm

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On the Lewisham East by-election result…

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When this by-election was called, the conventional wisdom was that Labour would win with around 50% of the vote, the Lib Dems would put their by-election game into a high hear and get second with around 25% of the vote and then the Tories would slip into third. When I woke up this morning and flicked through twitter to find out what had happened overnight, the result wasn’t exactly a shocker.

What it means in the grand scheme of things is very little. Labour won with half the vote. Yes this is slightly down but it was still a comfortable victory and doesn’t send any sort of message to Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit. No doubt some natural Labour voters drifted to the Lib Dems because of this issue but nowhere near enough to get anyone at Labour HQ to consider changing course.

For the Lib Dems it was a solid result that will remind some that the party isn’t comatose. Winning was never a realistic option despite what some members seemed to think. That wasn’t Richmond Park where the party had a network and a very distinctive position compared to who they were up against in the last big by-election victory. With many Labour supporters still believing that a soft Brexit would be provided by Corbyn, that isn’t too far away from the Lib Dems new position of a second vote.

One person who’ll come out of this with an enhanced profile is the Lib Dem candidate Lucy V. Salek. With the party desperate for articulate and impressive younger women, Lucy has clearly shown that she is another one to add to the mix as hopefully a starlet of the future.

I firmly believe that every person who puts themselves forward to stand for parliament deserves all the help and support possible. The party is moving that way and many talented women are coming to the fore. Supporting in a by-election however is much easier than at a General Election and that is where the party let themselves down last year. A lot of fingers have been pointed at certain candidates for under-performing but those doing the pointing should be looking not only at the lacklustre national campaign but also at where resources were being poured into. Targeting has for a long time been a Lib Dem asset but in the past two elections at least, it has been severely lacking.

So many words will be typed out on computers over the next few days with people trying to work out what this result means but the long and short of it is, it means very little. All three of the main English parties did exactly what was expected. No-one can claim to have done staggeringly well but Labour won, the Lib Dems showed they still have something about them to the tune of if a by-election happened in a Tory facing Remain seat, they would be in the game. As for the Tories, they knew they weren’t getting anywhere and pretty much didn’t care.

So when all is said and done, it is pretty much a Status Quo. If I were a betting man and could get odds on a Lib Dem parliamentary gain in a by-election (should the parliament last a full five-year term) I would be all over them at anything longer than Evens. All you hope for is that the people of Lewisham East continue to hear from their local Lib Dem team and this wasn’t a six-week blitz followed by tumbleweed of epic proportions…

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June 15th, 2018 at 2:32 pm

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On watching a parent litter in front of their kids…

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On Sunday I got a bit riled up. I’d nipped out to the supermarket to grab myself some goodies and dinner. It was a lovely day and the stroll into town was pleasant enough. Nothing in my short trip should’ve fazed me nor tripped me up. Yet well, it did.

Walking towards the supermarket, I noticed a man, woman and two kids walking in front of me. I didn’t think twice about them but moments later, I watched as the dad veered out from the right hand side of the walkway to the left. Immediately I knew exactly what he was going to do. Sipping the last dregs out of his KFC drink, he simply lobbed the cup into the mud by the river. I was aghast and full of rage. So much so that I very nearly yelled out at him.

Why people litter is just beyond me, it truly is. I have never littered and have no understanding of why anyone would. The worst bit wasn’t that he’d thrown his rubbish into the mud but that his two children were both of very impressionable age. If they see their dad acting in such a loutish manner then they’ll believe that acting in that manner is totally acceptable. Not less than five seconds later, he’d have passed a rubbish bin outside the shop.

For a minute or so I was berating myself for not saying something but then what was the best case scenario for doing such a thing? Maybe he would’ve listened, understood and promised to do better in future, therefore showing his kids a valuable lesson that littering is not ok. That alas would not be a realistic outcome.

The realistic best case scenario would be a string of obscenities followed by the word off. Another very plausible outcome would’ve involved a punch or two heading in my direction and that certainly was what I wanted and nor would that have been good for the watching kids.

Walking home I decided that I’d made the best decision but isn’t it a sad indictment of society that people are scared to intervene when people are acting boorishly? Carrying your rubbish to a bin isn’t exactly a hardship and you can’t go a couple of minutes without passing one around shops. Those who treat the planet with such clear and obvious disdain are really rather selfish. Whilst the planet struggles with what mankind is doing to it, he’ll be fine as he’ll be long gone before the effects are fully felt but what about his children and their children?

This blog has very little point bar wondering why some people act the way they do. I just don’t understand it…

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May 8th, 2018 at 10:21 am

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On Lib Dem Targeting…

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First things first, when I started to write this blog post I had to work out whether it was targeting or targetting. I always thought it was the latter but that is apparently an obsolete British spelling of the word and the version with only one T is now the preferred way to spell that word. You learn something new every day so they say.

So anyway this piece is about targeting resources within the party. There have been numerous words written about this over the years. The party had a good record in focusing resources through the Tony Blair Labour years as they were able to really harness their vote where it was most needed. Some 2010 and the Nick Clegg bounce however, this seemed to disappear as there were not enough activists nor cash to attack potential fertile ground at a national level. Locally many paper candidates actually won in 2010 on the back of Nick Clegg as what were usually poor areas for Lib Dems significantly outperformed expectations.

Since then things have not gone well. At local level the activists deserted the party in droves because of the coalition and what can you say about the General Election in 2015? When external polling data has people like Julian Huppert up over 20 percentage points and he still loses, sometimes you just gotta admit that you were whacked and had little chance of succeeding. At that General Election the national party were even looking at a handful of potential gains, I’m guessing they weren’t exactly watching the news or the media narrative surrounding the party.

Two years on and the party were given a surprising opportunity to actually regain at least some of its lost ground. This is where I think the national party didn’t do half as bad a job in terms of targeting as I know many other members think. The issues last year weren’t where resources where placed at the outset of the election but the lack of movement when it became clear the election had changed.

Tim Farron did his gay sex bit that foot the party in the foot but more than that, the whole thing stopped being a semi-second referendum on Brexit. It became something more. Kudos to Jeremy Corbyn and Labour for achieving this but this took away the hard Pro-EU vote from the Lib Dems and instead made it an open field. The talk of Vauxhall is the big one but all the data points to that seat very much being in-play as long as the campaign was about one issue and stopping Theresa May having a mandate to push through hard Brexit.

Resources then should’ve been pulled out of any Labour/Lib Dem seat where we weren’t defending. Sheffield Hallam and Leeds North West could still have been saved although the way things went down, the likelihood was unlikely but they weren’t dead causes by a fortnight out. Vauxhall alas was by then.

This however is not a blog about the national party but more about local politics. I think we should stand in every seat we can just so people have the option to vote Liberal Democrat on their ballot paper. The issue is not every seat has an equal opportunity of victory, so you have to have laser like focus to give you the best bang for your buck in terms of both money but also man (or I should say people) hours. That is how bosses run businesses, they don’t just give every department the same amount of cash, they give more money to the areas that are likely to bring in more custom, politics has to work in the same way.

If you have enough man hours and cash to put out enough extra leaflets and knock on enough extra doors to give you 1,000 more votes say across a whole local party, do you do that across all the wards or do you focus in on the ones where those extra resources are more likely to result in holding or gaining a seat or two?

Is it better to have say one win, four second places and ten finishes third or lower than three wins and 12 finishes third or lower? I’d argue the latter. Once you win a seat, you are in a better position to win that seat again next time, you get more involved in the council, you get a better platform to speak from, you have more influence, you give yourselves a better chance to grow.

Unless there are national swings, at local elections you know whether you have a chance months out. You do the work all year round and you’ll know which seats are in-play along with those you’ll run a skeleton campaign in. One of the biggest problems is candidates often think they can win even when they can’t in reality. If your strategy is to send out leaflets but not speak to many people on the doorstep, unless you are ahead going in, it seems awfully unlikely that you’ll win coming from behind.

So I’d love to be able to give every candidate the best opportunity to win but there is only so much money in the kitty and only so many doors that can be knocked, or leaflets that can be delivered. Every journey starts will just one step and every councillor returned is a step towards more. It is better to play to win fewer seats than play to just play many seats with lower chances of success.

Local parties need to have long-term vision instead of short-term reactions. Hopefully up and down the land that is being borne out but if I see lots of time and money spent in dead areas at the detriment of potential winnable seats, I’ll sigh once more and wonder why the same problem continues to not get fixed…

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April 9th, 2018 at 8:35 am

Posted in Politics

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