The Rambles of Neil Monnery

Another pointless voice in the vast ocean that is the interweb

On Jeremy Corbyn and the possibility of women-only carriages…

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Madness. Just madness.

So Jeremy Corbyn has been speaking about sexism and he mused that he’d like to consult women about whether they thought the idea of women-only carriages on public transport would be a good idea. I’m pretty sure I could tell him the answer to that but I am a man, no wait, let me rephrase, I am a boy, so maybe I have a viewpoint that doesn’t fit with the women of the world but wait, what is this? Every single woman I follow on twitter who has commented on this since the story broke sees the idea as bonkers and not just that, they see it as dangerous. The bizarre thing is though that some men do seem to think it is a good idea and they know what is better for women.

Here is what JC said on the matter:

“Some women have raised with me that a solution to the rise in assault and harassment on public transport could be to introduce women-only carriages.

“My intention would be to make public transport safer for everyone from the train platform, to the bus stop, on the mode of transport itself.

“However, I would consult with women and open it up to hear their views on whether women-only carriages would be welcome – and also if piloting this at times and on modes of transport where harassment is reported most frequently would be of interest.”

Now looking at the quotes then a consultation on the idea isn’t completely crazy, although the idea of actually having segregation in the 21st century is. What I find crazy is that some people really think this is a solution to the problem. Of course several countries already have such rules in place including Japan, India, Egypt, Iran, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.

They were introduced for the reasons that JC would consider it here, for safety of women from sexual attacks. Some people think it makes it safer but others have said that it makes them feel that if they don’t use the women-only carriage then it gives license to the sexual predator that they have chosen not to avoid them whilst travelling on public transport and thus giving them encouragement.

The issue of safety for women is a clear one to address but by keeping some women away from men for a proportion of a journey doesn’t eliminate the problem. I have never faced the issue that many women face but I would guess the most dangerous part of any journey isn’t the part where they are on public transport but the travel to and from said public transport.

Of course we have had women-only carriages in the UK before before they were halted due in large part to gender equality laws. People should not be treated any differently based on their gender and of course should women-only carriages be introduced then you are treating the genders differently. This would (as I read it) contravene article 14 of the Human Rights Act that says, ‘Article 14 requires there be no discrimination in the application of human rights on any ground, and this includes (but is not exhaustive of) grounds such as (amongst other things) sex‘ Does this mean JC would consider walking away from the Human Rights Act or have I just interpreted it wrong?

A local Labour member and candidate has been tweeting about how good of an idea it is and how passionately he believes in the safety of women (we all do mush) but he says that drink is one of the big issues and that he’d feel his wife/daughter/mother would be safer on a train carriage that only had other women. He of course is fully entitled to that opinion but at what point do you draw the line? Do you say that because of workplace sexual harassment there should be men and women only offices if women want them? I just firmly don’t believe by physically keeping two sexes apart that it actually confronts the issue at hand.

You don’t fix an issue by shunting it down the line. You fix an issue head on and tackle the cause and not the effect. Until society does this to a successful degree then all you are doing in moving the effect to another time and another place, you aren’t eliminating it at all. How society does this is another debate entirely but the majority of women I know don’t seem to think the idea of women-only carriages is the solution to the problem because they’ve experienced at best unwelcome attention from men in many other places, many of them is much less safe locations.

Sexual harassment is a huge issue but you don’t fix it by segregation. As a person I believe that we are all born equal and therefore should be treated as such and treating people as unequal is the start of a slippery slope, one that we are desperately trying to get away from. I’ll end this with a brilliant sarcastic tweet I’ve just seen RT into my TL from a lady called Muriel Gray (@ArtyBagger)

Woman only train carriages. Super idea. Gender separation is so progressive. Urge MPs to think seriously about NHS funded chastity belts.

That I think is a good place to end.

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August 25th, 2015 at 11:35 pm

Posted in Politics

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On BT Sport blowing Sky out of the water for Ashes Cricket in 2017/2018

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I wrote this blog but by the time I went to publish it, Charles Sale had revised the fee to £80million over five years – I thought I’d leave in the original figure in the blog post just to show how much Charles Sale changed his report after publication. My fury is not quelled by the amount being a lot less but the money certainly isn’t completely insane. If indeed Sky walked away from the rights at that figure then fuck me did they overspend for the EPL and have dropped a right bollock on this one.

I was going to have a bath. Well I was thinking about it anyway. A way to soothe my aching limbs on a Sunday evening but thought I’d watch the end of the baseball first. My phone beeps, I wander over to it and I see a tweet with a link, so I walk over to my PC to investigate and the story is how BT Sport have reportedly won the rights to show all matches from Cricket Australia in a five-year deal worth – now don’t fall over or faint here – £70million per year. That is £350million over the next five years.

Now whilst this deal is for 32 test matches, for us in reality it is all about five, the next Ashes series down under. For the past two plus decades we’ve had all live England Test matches overseas on Sky Sports and whilst some of those matches haven’t been a full Sky Sports production, they have all had some of the Sky guys in the commentary box.

The thing is, Sky’s cricket coverage is the best coverage of any sport in the UK. I can’t really write that as fact but is merely my opinion – and indeed that of many avid sport watchers. The mix of voices in the commentary box is first rate. I have written about it before in a blog entitled, Why mess with nigh on perfection? and I very much stick by what I wrote in that blog post.

The joy of the Sky box isn’t just in the commentary and the presenting but also the chats during rain delays and the like. The level of voice they have is just second to none. From Michael Atherton to Nasser Hussein to Bumble to Lord Gower to Sir Ian Botham and of course to Michael Holding. Michael Holding is quite simply one of those people you wish you could just sit down with in a pub for a drink and a chat because he is quite amazing and Michael Atherton is the next Richie Benaud, he is that good. They get the right voices from overseas (both Ian Smith and Ricky Ponting just knocked it out of the ball park this summer) and to be frank, there is no way on Earth BT could even get close to the quality of coverage Sky do and do you know why we know this?

Because they cover football these days and there is no-one out there saying they want to see more Jake Humphrey presenting or need to listen to more Michael Owen butcher another co-commentary. Sky again outshine BT in football coverage and it is no surprise, they have been the best for a number of years so they know what they are doing. Yes sometimes a change can revolutionise a sports coverage (see Cricket, BBC to Channel Four – another thing I wrote about) but at best all this deal will do is mean for one tour BT will have to put together a second rate team to cover these matches as al the top dogs are signed up to Sky and indeed will stay with Sky considering all the other matches bar one England series are still with the corporation. Although it could mean that Geoffrey Boycott could return to live TV commentary but that is a long ways away.

As you can tell I’m not happy but it isn’t just the fact that BT will be showing the Ashes in 2017/2018 but look at the money they are paying. I have a friend who always says, ‘well its not my money so who cares?’ but as customers we should care. £70million a year (again if the report is true – it is Charles Sale) is just insane. Flat out insane for what they would be getting. The previous deal was for £50million over four years and this is £350million over five years. Cricket rights have not gone up that much and yes whilst I agree The Big Bash is worth a few quid, it is paltry compared to the Test matches and if BT really think that the value of these rights have gone up by 600% in four years well then, those that said Sky overpaid for EPL rights must be looking at BT and thinking there was an ink issue with the fax offer sheet.

The loser in all of this is firstly the cricket fan, a) they’ll lose the best coverage of the sport for five extremely important Test matches and b) will have to shell out yet another subscription fee to watch cricket but there is also c) the average BT customer who will likely have these exorbitant rights fees passed on to them with rises in their subscription costs, even if they don’t want to watch cricket.

We’ll see if this story is true but if it is, the next Ashes series might just be the host broadcaster coverage (and I don’t hate Channel Nine’s coverage but lets be honest, it is not what it once was with the passing of Greig, Benaud and the retirement of Lawry) but they aren’t Sky and of course if BT put together their own list of broadcasters then expect the 2017/2018 Ashes series to have commentary from the likes of Matthew Hoggard, Darren Gough and who knows, maybe they can get more value out of Michael Owen and put him in for a few stints just to brighten all our nights and early mornings in three winters’ time.

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August 23rd, 2015 at 9:13 pm

Posted in Media,Other Sport

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On Jeremy Corbyn’s People’s Railway…

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We have to give the Labour Party their due here because without them what would we be talking about in the dog days of the political summer? Bravo Labour for stringing out this leadership contest and keeping yourselves very much in the news (albeit not in a great way and certainly not providing the Tory government with an effective opposition) but we’ll gloss over that for now and plough on through to the crux of this blog post.

The Railway Network. More people than not would be in favour of it returning to the hands of being publicly owned. Of that I have very little doubt and even I myself would have no issue with it because when push comes to shove no-one actually gives much of a shit about it either way. Someone is going to get our money and the government get a lot in terms of franchise fees, so the question is just what do the government get? Would they get more with renationalisation? Would the commuters get lower fares under a nationalised service and would they get a better quality of service under nationalised trains?

Well we actually have a recent franchise fee/award where it has not been taken from a private company to another private company, the East Coast Main Line was under public ownership but the services are now being run by Virgin Trains in a joint venture with Stagecoach. They are paying £3.3bn for the franchise license over eight years. This amount to £412.5million a year to the Treasury. Under public ownership the East Coast Main Line was generating £220million for the Treasury. So the tax payer is getting a better deal under private ownership.

Now on the issue of lower fares, we don’t know for sure what would happen and it is true that private companies will be wanting to make money because otherwise why are they in the game? Action for Rail, who don’t even have an About Us section on their website (but are supported by trade unions) say that according to research carried out by Transport for Quality of Life under public ownership, Season Tickets could go down by 10%, which would be quite significant, certainly in the South East commuter belt. The word ‘could’ always worries me but that would means that fares would still be extremely high and not as low as many would think under a renationalised network.

Rail fares are due to go up an average of 1% in January, adding £24 to an average Season Ticket. That in itself is not a big rise and isn’t one that will raise too many eye brows amongst commuters. No doubt they’ll be news stories in January about how much of a rip-off it is but it won’t really make too much of a difference on a commuters finances. That rise would not even be a cup of coffee a month.

Lastly the quality of service issue, again one we don’t really know but what we do know is that private companies have invested heavily in new Rolling Stock. I know in Jeremy Corbyn’s (very short) pdf document about the People’s Railway it says that we have a lot of outdated stock but I call BS on that. Anyone who is old enough to remember British Rail (and yes I am that old) can remember the slam door trains that were cold, dirty, slow and when you compare that to the air-conditioned, clean, fast rolling stock that most of us use then it is not even close. Yes there are some routes where the stock isn’t as up to date as others but in general private companies know they need to invest to attract customers, British Rail didn’t really do such a thing.

I read a story on LabourList this morning by Manuel Cortes, who is the General Secretary of TSSA (so I expect him to have a bias) but he said one of the funniest things I’ve ever read, ‘I was proud to stand at Kings Cross station yesterday morning, alongside representatives from all the rail unions, as Jeremy set out his vision for A People’s Railway. The public has been crying out for this bold policy for the past 20 years.’ The bit in bold is the funny bit, the rest had to be there for context.

The public have been crying out for this for 20 years? They have? When? I do not recall there ever being a significant backlash against the privatisation of the railway network. Most people will agree that in an ideal world it would be under government control but for most people it has doesn’t really move the needle as it were. I have seen more public crying out over scraping TV Licenses or heck even stupid shit like Sachsgate or Jeremy Clarkson’s sacking from Top Gear. We might have seen more column inches devoted to the Chelsea team doctor in the past week than we have on the renationalising of the Railway Network in the whole of the last government.

Unions are unsurprisingly all pro this because under public ownership their members will get more strength, power and most importantly arguably a better pension and conditions but in 2004, ASLEF general secretary, Lew Adams stated on a radio phone-in program, ‘All the time it (the railway network) was in the public sector, all we got were cuts, cuts, cuts. And today there are more members in the trade union, more train drivers, and more trains running. The reality is that it worked, we’ve protected jobs, and we got more jobs.’ Maybe the good old days of a nationalised rail network weren’t as good as some people remember.

My point on all this isn’t to rubbish Jeremy Corbyn’s ideas as they aren’t bad per se but to rubbish the fact that deep down people care. There are so many more important things than who runs our rail industry and to win back support from those he needs to if he has any intention of putting any of his ideas into law, then he has to stop pussyfooting (which according to Google Chrome is actually a legitimate word) around with things that appeal to the unions and start tackling the issues that appeal to the aspirational working class and lower middle class that he needs to convince to win their vote.

The 2020 General Election will not be won and lost on the railways. Heck if Ed Miliband couldn’t win it on the NHS, which is often up there is the top issues people bring up that is facing this country then how on Earth is Jeremy Corbyn going to win when one of his big ticket items is an issue no-one ever brings up in their top ten issues facing the country today?

All Jeremy Corbyn is doing is winning the die hard Labour vote and making it all the more solid. He can sweep the north (as would Andy Burnham) but can he even get close to winning over enough voters in the south that he needs to if he wants to walk into Downing Street? Not the way he is going.

I have written it before but I’ll keep saying it, Labour are in the same situation as the Republicans in the US of A. To win the leadership you have to move so far away from centre that you stand out to the core vote enough, the problem with that is you are so far away from centre that the swing voters can’t vote for you. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, heck even Joe Biden should not be having a cakewalk to the White House but at the moment unless Jeb Bush can start really dragging the party back to somewhere near the centre then the Democrats are waltzing back up Pennsylvania Avenue and if Jeremy Corbyn wins and sticks to his path then either George Osbourne or Boris Johnson will be the next Prime Minister and it won’t even be close.

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

August 19th, 2015 at 9:11 am

Posted in Politics

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On Alex Dyke’s comments on breastfeeding…

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Sometimes folks you have to laugh because if you didn’t then you might cry. Alex Dyke is a virtual nobody to anyone outside of the Isle of Wight and latterly the wider BBC Radio Solent region. He fronted the call-in show on Isle of Wight Radio from 1991 until his dismissal from the station in late 2008 and spent the next short while if I remember correctly working on a web based radio service on the IoW before uprooting to the USA for a bit and returning to the UK and being a staple on BBC Radio Solent.

Alex Dyke and the BBC was never a marriage made in heaven. Dyke has always courted controversy and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you want to be a talk in host. Those that are the most confrontational and walk the thin line between good taste and being a douche often do well because they try to get people riled up enough to call in. This leads to people saying things that they either believe in but aren’t the widespread viewpoint or they may even say things they don’t believe in to get a reaction. Sometimes they go too far but many times a talk in host will say things that they don’t really think.

I have no insight into what Alex Dyke’s real views on breastfeeding are, I have met Alex and indeed back in the day I even spent a short stint at Isle of Wight Radio when Alex was presenting there. If you told me that his Neanderthal approach to breastfeeding were his real viewpoints then I wouldn’t be surprised one jot but on the flip side, if you told me that his views were just to inflame the listeners and piss people off enough to get them talking about him and his radio show then that also wouldn’t shock me one jot.

The fact that his comments made to a wider audience such as The Last Leg on Channel 4 have only done one thing though and that isn’t bring attention to his comments but bring attention to him. I doubt he is that upset by this. I doubt he is that upset by this at all. His only apology was to those who felt offended by his comments, he didn’t apologise for making said comments. Looking at his twitter feed he seems to be enjoying the limelight.

These were some of his comments on the issue:

“Couldn’t mums just stay at home and do it? I’m not offended by it, I’m just made to feel uncomfortable about it.

“You wouldn’t get ‘yummy mummies’… breastfeeding in public. Those kind of women wouldn’t do it because they’re very image-conscious and they know it’s not a great look.”
Breastfeeding mother

“I blame the Earth mothers, you know the ones I mean, the ones with the moustaches, the ones who work in libraries, the ones who wear hessian, the ones they’re always on Radio 4 on Women’s Hour, they are always pushing the boundaries and making us feel uncomfortable.

“Breastfeeding is unnatural. It’s the kind of thing that should be done in a quiet, private nursery.

“It was OK in the Stone Age when we knew no better, when people didn’t have their own teeth… but now I just think a public area is not the place for it and fellas don’t like it.”

Now whilst some of these comments are ridiculous, the final sentence says a great deal. People didn’t have teeth in the stone age…yeah ok then Alex…he clearly either knows naff all about evolution or is just talking out of his rear one to try and inflame the listeners to ring up his show so they could call him names and point out what shit he was peddling, yet again the classic signs of an attention whore or what we’d more commonly call them – radio talk-in presenters.

Whether Alex Dyke really believes his comments isn’t really the issue, what is, is the fact that the media are playing right into his hands by keeping him in the news. What have we noticed about the likes of Katie Hopkins? Those that pedal bullshit will always find a home within some spectrum of the media. Alex Dyke’s name is now being bandied about in the media and he now has more klout than he ever has done before.

His name is known beyond the confines of the BBC Radio Solent region and should the station not bring him back after his suspension then I’m sure they’ll be larger commercial stations lining up sign him up. If the BBC do bring him back then he’ll return to record audiences as people listen to those they disagree with just as much (or even more so) than those they agree with.

All we are doing by keeping talking about him (and I myself in this blog am guilty of this – but no-one reads this so who cares) is fanning the flames of Alex Dyke. We can all call him names and point out how stupid and moronic the things he said are but we don’t need to, it is obvious they are stupid and moronic, by doing so all we are doing is play into his hands.

I have no idea if this was a calculated move by the presenter but even if it wasn’t, he couldn’t have bought personal publicity like this and in the end it’ll be him laughing al the way to either larger RAJAR ratings or a larger bank balance or possibly both. Sometimes it is better to ignore those who say stupid stuff because at some point they’ll either stop saying stupid stuff or just go away completely.

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Written by neilmonnery

August 17th, 2015 at 11:15 am

Posted in Media

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On why on Earth is public ownership of companies a burning issue…?

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At some point within the next couple of hours I’ll have a shower, get dressed and walk the 100 metres or so to Thorpe Bay Railway Station and hop on a choo choo into town to do some food shopping. Not that exciting you might think (and you’d be right) but you see when I go to the railway station and pay my £3.60 for a day return to Southend Central, the money won’t be going to the government but to a private company (c2c) who have paid the government for the right to run trains along this train route.

Personally I don’t give a stuff who is getting my £3.60 (or indeed the money I pay for longer journey’s) but for some reason despite the many real and actual problems the country is currently facing, it has become a significant issue in the Labour Leadership Contest.

Both Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn have said that bringing both the transport system and utility companies back under public ownership is a long-term goal, whether to do it in one foul swoop or doing it gradually over time is up for debate but they both want it and it has broad public support. Yet I find myself sitting here wondering why it is such a story when we have far more important issues to face up to.

The NHS is amazing but as amazing as it is, it is also creaking. The NHS now deals with an ageing population who are living longer as well as many more treatments that are available that cost a lot of money. Put these two things together and you’ll see why the NHS is being stretched. As the NHS is currently constituted all that will happen is it will take up a larger and larger percentage of tax revenue and unless a government faces up to the hard questions, the NHS will continue to creak. I have no idea what the solution is but something needs to be done if the NHS is to survive and flourish in the 21st century without other any of government getting squeezed.

You see that folks is a real issue facing this country, not who gets the revenue from the trains (and remember, these companies pay a shed load of dosh to win these franchises) but people like the idea of the railway system and utility system being under public ownership because it makes them feel safer and many people don’t like big business, as a nation we have a big chasm between those who are pro big business and those that aren’t. Costa Coffee opened in The Broadway a few days back and some people think it’ll kill Ciao (the local coffee shop/bar) but other traders will love Costa as it is clearly drawing in custom to the row of shops that before wouldn’t have come here, that though is an aside and not really the issue here.

The private train franchises are there to make money, yes, yet they can only do so by making their business one that people want to use. Yes I know many people don’t really have a choice as they commute but many others do. Most franchises have invested in much better rolling stock, I may be 32 years of age but I do remember the old slam door trains, heck even when I was at university only half of SW Trains stock were new and the old slam doors still populated the Alton to London Waterloo Route and the non rush hour Portsmouth Harbour to London Waterloo Route. Now most trains are faster, cleaner, safer, more punctual and we should treat that like it is a bad thing? Would the government of the day have invested so much public money into the railway system and in turn, if they had, what would the public have thought about this?

I just think there are far more important issues facing the country than renationalising industry. When Labour drifted away from Clause IV in 1995 they went on to win three landslide elections on the bounce and whilst losing a fourth, they were probably set to be the majority party until Gordon Brown’s ‘bigotgate’ gaff, which I think stalled the campaign. Now two of the leadership candidates see that ideal as one to return to and indeed one that will be popular amongst their supporters and very much so within the unions, yet will it really raise too much of an eyebrow from those who would consider voting Labour? I suspect not.

It is still all about the economy and economical competence. It always has been and always will be (unless a nation is in a time of non-economic turmoil). The secondary issues will be about the NHS, Education, Crime, the EU, defence, our place in the world, the environment, immigration and you know what isn’t pushing the needle amongst the all important swing voters? Who gets the money from their bills and their transport tickets.

The sad truth is to win the Labour Leadership Contest you have to win amongst the activists and the majority of those activists believe that Labour need to move left because that is why they didn’t win in 2015 (hint folks – you didn’t win because you weren’t left wing enough, you didn’t win because the swing voters didn’t trust Ed Miliband and Labour on the economy as well as not being strong enough to stand up to the SNP). The issue with this is to win the contest you need to move left but to win the country you need to move right. Liz Kendall seems like the only person who is actually saying things that swing voters would like, the problem is not enough Labour members are even giving her words the time of day.

Having 100s of Labour activists and supporters turning up to see and hear Jeremy Corbyn is great but is he inspiring swing voters to come out and listen to him? Not really. I’ll say this and I think this will sum up the situation extremely clearly, the country made their decision on Nick Clegg big time in May and that is their right but if he had stood in a leadership contest this time around he could still have won again because a lot of people respected him for what he did, I think Tim would still have won but it wouldn’t have been a fait accompli.

The members of a political party shouldn’t think about themselves but think about the country and the party. That is why I voted Tim over Norman in our leadership contest because I knew Tim held the key to advancing Liberal beliefs. Jeremy Corbyn can advance many things and he could solidify the core vote but can he branch out to those who aren’t the core vote? That I doubt, that I doubt very much and if he believes the railways are a burning issue then I think it is clear he isn’t ready to lead either his party or his country because it is so insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

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

August 10th, 2015 at 11:25 am

Posted in Politics

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On a song that just makes me smile…

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I think we all know that I’m no music critic or music writer. I have many, well some, well one or two journalistic qualities and writing about music isn’t one of them. So I tend not to write about it and music certainly isn’t my thing as it were. Yet every so often a song comes about that I keep clicking on whether it be YouTube or Spotify when I’m on the move and a song but an artist who is somersaulting up my music thoughts and that artist is former Canadian Idol third place finisher Carly Rae Jepsen.

From her third album E•MO•TION, we’ve already had the awesome video and above average catchy pop tune of I Really Like You but her second release is even better. The video is again superb as it shows Carly during her promotional tour for the album in New York, Paris & Tokyo and is filmed without a plan or script, it is just a camera following Carly around during down time between events (it has since come out that Carly didn’t even know it was for a music video until well into filming) and shows a young woman just enjoying life. I also loved the karaoke bar scenes as it reminded me so much of Lost in Translation, a film that just makes me happy. So the video is great but what about the song?

It is knock out of the park good if you are a fan of pop with an 80s synth vibe then it’ll be right up your street. There is plenty of music that is great that is deep and meaningful but often people (well I know I do) just want music to cheer them up and that is where cheesy easy-listening pop music comes in and that is what this song comes good. It is packed full of energy and bounciness that I think we’ve come to expect of Carly and to be frank just full of full good vibes and that is what I want in my pop. Throw in a surprising amount of saxophone and you’ve got yourself a sure-fire hit and a summer song that’ll go far.

It still surprises me just how much I am liking her music. It is what I call ‘happy music’ and the type of music that you can often find me bouncing about to in the kitchen when making dinner. On a slightly deeper level it reminds me that their is a big wide world out there and whilst there is oh so much bad that we see populate our news outlets, there are also opportunities to people to just be happy and isn’t that deep down what we all want, to smile and be happy?

Watch and enjoy. If you don’t find yourself bopping along then I’ll be surprised.

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August 2nd, 2015 at 5:09 pm

Posted in Random Stuff

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On the Independent’s response to Clarkson, Hammond and May’s move to Amazon Video…

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Oh the Independent, why do you have to be so foolish? The Indy is renowned for being a pretty good newspaper that doesn’t let personal opinions get in the way of a story. Well today after it was announced that Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May would be taking their talents to Amazon Prime on a three-series contract, the aforementioned newspaper decided that the appropriate story to cover such an event was entitled, How to cancel Amazon Prime: after Top Gear hiring, how to leave premium service – the piece was penned (well typed) by their technology reporter Andrew Griffin.

Reading the piece and you get the sense that Mr. Griffin isn’t a fan of the boys and he of course is fully entitled to that opinion, heck many many people share his opinion. I know I think Jeremy is a bit of a douche but I also quite like Top Gear and think the three of them make a very good light entertainment show. I know I’ve written about it before that whilst I was disappointed in the BBC letting Clarkson go, I fully understood it and believed they didn’t really have much of a choice.

I wasn’t shocked that there was a clear market for the trios talents and whilst I am personally disappointed with their move (as I don’t have Amazon Prime) and had hoped they would emerge on netflix (as I have that) I certainly don’t think the lead story on the matter (and indeed several hours on) it would still be in a prime position on the Independent’s home page was about how you can cancel Amazon Prime.

If a newspaper really believes one of the top stories of the day is about how to unsubscribe from a TV streaming service then I think that newspaper needs to take a long hard look at itself in the mirror. The fact there are essentially no positive comments on the piece says a great deal.

Still you wonder why they posted this story, was the writer asked to do it or did he do so on his own volition? Well when the writer has written on the issue before stating, If anyone thinks Jeremy Clarkson is anything but a racist bully then that is a bad opinion and you are probably a bad person. (I know this is a late response but I didn’t realise that people — actual human beings — thought it was ok to punch a man because he didn’t bring you a cooked steak.) I think we ascertain what the writers thinks and he is using his position at a newspaper to write an Anti-Clarkson story. Man isn’t that the dream of all journalists to use their position to push their own personal opinions on the readers?

Look he may not like Clarkson, that is a pretty fair position to be in but honestly is one of the biggest stories in the world today really about how you can cancel from a service? For those who can’t be bothered to read the piece but want to know how to end a subscription to Amazon Prime well I can help, you just click on ‘End Membership’ on the ‘Manage Prime Membership’ screen. I know, shocking eh? It is that level of insight that makes the Independent one of the leading media outlets in this country…

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Written by neilmonnery

July 30th, 2015 at 4:27 pm

Posted in Media

Tagged with

On Tom Brady, ‘deflategate’ and ESPN’s shall we say ‘biased’ reaction…

with 3 comments

Ah it is nice to be writing about something that isn’t politics. I need to write more non-politics blog. Remind me of this people.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about by looking at the title then here is the simple version of the story. During the AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts, the footballs that the Patriots were using (both teams play with different footballs when on offence – like that makes any sense) were seemingly not up to the required pressure. After an investigation it was determined that the Patriots quarterback Tom Brady probably knew that this was the case and it was in fact a deliberate ploy. The commissioner of the NFL banned him for four games. That same commissioner was also the appeals judge and in shock of all shocks, he rubber stamped his previous decision.

Now when you read that you might think that if Brady cheated then he deserves a ban but there is no actual proof that he knew of the under-inflated footballs. It was determined that it he is all probability knew but they had no evidence that he in fact did. Still the verdict that no evidence doesn’t matter was reached and Brady got slammed. Yesterday when the commissioner announced that Brady’s four-game ban would be upheld it wasn’t a huge shock (like the man would overturn his own verdict on appeal – hah) but I was genuinely appalled by the narrative that the so-called worldwide leader in sports set on the story.

They focused on the fact Tom Brady wouldn’t turn over his phone for investigation. Well I’m sorry people but the NFL doesn’t have power of subpoena and why should he turn over his phone? It is up to the NFL to prove that he cheated and not Tom Brady that he didn’t. That is the world we work in, well I thought we worked in anyway. That was essentially the only thing ESPN talked about, that by not handing over his phone and destroying it, it showed that he had something to hide and why the ban was rightly held up. Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times speaking on the ESPN show Around the Horn went one stage further by saying the ban should’ve been doubled, it prompted me to tweet that he was becoming the biggest douchebag to ever appear on the show and when you considering TJ Simers and Jay Mariotti have been on that show – that says something.

ESPN personality after ESPN personality lined up to slam Brady and praise the NFL. Talk about defending the shield. Next you’ll be telling me that ESPN has the NFL’s back because they are business partners and the NFL are unhappy with how ESPN have been covering the sport and you might even start to think that Bill Simmons constant attacks on the NFL were a significant factor in why ESPN let go of their biggest non-rights asset. It was left to Dan LeBetard on HQ and the always excellent Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbonon on Pardon the Interruption to defend Brady and attack the NFL on this. My favourite line is one Kornheiser keeps saying that even if Brady did it, it is like watering the base-paths in baseball, it is a non-issue.

Look I’m not a Patriots fan so my point of view isn’t determined by my rooting interests. I’m a Jags fan and if Brady’s ban is held up then when the two teams face up in week three he would be banned. My other rooting interest is I want Peyton Manning to receive a second ring and that would be helped if the Patriots had a backup Quarterback for four games. Yet I also believe in fairness and if a player (even if he did it) deflated the balls, I don’t see how that can be worthy of the same suspension as a player who violently assaulted his ex-girlfriend then I have real issues with the. The optics are just flat out terrible. The NFL as tough on air pressure as they are on domestic violence. Go NFL!

Tom Brady released the following statement this morning and it sounds like this is going to federal court. I hope Brady goes in kicking and screaming, taking down the NFL on the way. I am firmly of the opinion that this case has little to do with the facts but more to do with other owners wanting the Patriots taken down a peg or two and I believe there are other considerations at play as well.

I am very disappointed by the NFL’s decision to uphold the 4 game suspension against me. I did nothing wrong, and no one in the Patriots organization did either.

Despite submitting to hours of testimony over the past 6 months, it is disappointing that the Commissioner upheld my suspension based upon a standard that it was “probable” that I was “generally aware” of misconduct. The fact is that neither I, nor any equipment person, did anything of which we have been accused. He dismissed my hours of testimony and it is disappointing that he found it unreliable.

I also disagree with yesterdays narrative surrounding my cellphone. I replaced my broken Samsung phone with a new iPhone 6 AFTER my attorneys made it clear to the NFL that my actual phone device would not be subjected to investigation under ANY circumstances. As a member of a union, I was under no obligation to set a new precedent going forward, nor was I made aware at any time during Mr. Wells investigation, that failing to subject my cell phone to investigation would result in ANY discipline.

Most importantly, I have never written, texted, emailed to anybody at anytime, anything related to football air pressure before this issue was raised at the AFC Championship game in January. To suggest that I destroyed a phone to avoid giving the NFL information it requested is completely wrong.

To try and reconcile the record and fully cooperate with the investigation after I was disciplined in May, we turned over detailed pages of cell phone records and all of the emails that Mr. Wells requested. We even contacted the phone company to see if there was any possible way we could retrieve any/all of the actual text messages from my old phone. In short, we exhausted every possibility to give the NFL everything we could and offered to go thru the identity for every text and phone call during the relevant time. Regardless, the NFL knows that Mr. Wells already had ALL relevant communications with Patriots personnel that either Mr. Wells saw or that I was questioned about in my appeal hearing. There is no “smoking gun” and this controversy is manufactured to distract from the fact they have zero evidence of wrongdoing.

I authorized the NFLPA to make a settlement offer to the NFL so that we could avoid going to court and put this inconsequential issue behind us as we move forward into this season. The discipline was upheld without any counter offer. I respect the Commissioners authority, but he also has to respect the CBA and my rights as a private citizen. I will not allow my unfair discipline to become a precedent for other NFL players without a fight.

Lastly, I am overwhelmed and humbled by the support of family, friends and our fans who have supported me since the false accusations were made after the AFC Championship game. I look forward to the opportunity to resume playing with my teammates and winning more games for the New England Patriots

Look, I have no idea if Tom Brady did know anything or indeed if he directed anyone to change the air pressures in the football but I know this, the NFL seemingly have no real proof either way and the NFL look like they are using ESPN as their mouthpiece to try and win the battle in terms of public opinion and that stinks. This now isn’t about deflated footballs but about a man’s legacy. Tom Brady is one of the greatest to have ever played the position and this tarnishes his reputation. I have even heard some media personalties say that he shouldn’t make the Hall of Fame because of this. Madness.

So Tom Brady v the NFL in Federal Court. This my friends could be fascinating and it might not shock you who I’m rooting for…

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Written by neilmonnery

July 29th, 2015 at 3:07 pm

Posted in American Sport

Tagged with

On why sometimes being a Lib Dem makes me lose sleep…

without comments

Last night folks I was ticking. Not tickling, which would’ve probably been a lot of fun but ticking. I’ve been ticking on a certain subject for quite a while but last night it exploded and I was still awake at 3 and possibly even 4 this morning seething. What could be making me so mad? Well it is the air of arrogance that some members of the party have and how instead of engaging in debate, they prefer to make a pithy comment in an attempt to show their moral superiority. I’m sure all parties have these people but as a member of this one, I see these more and they are so cocksure of themselves that anyone even attempting to engage in debate needs to be swatted away in a dismissive style.

The story that brought it out last night was one from last year that people only noticed yesterday and the hand wringing was in full flow. The story was that Alison McInnes MSP wasn’t selected at number one in the North East Regional list for the Scottish Parliament. This showed that the Lib Dems were still anti-women, deep down sexist and morally wrong according to a number of people. I don’t know Alison nor Mike Rumbles, who got the top spot, but the issue wasn’t about them as candidates to some people, it was solely about gender and the fact the members who selected the candidates position on the lists got it wrong.

For writing this blog post I’ve just gone back to the thread that really charcoaled my Chilean Sea Bass (does that work?) and it got a tonne worse after I ducked out. This is the comment that first got me rumbling:

I don’t believe anyone accused individual members as being sexist, but sexist outcomes are sexist outcomes.

So this member put the result down as a result of sexism. Now in isolation this is essentially saying that any time a man beats a women in a selection then it is a sexist result. Surely no-one can actually believe that? I mean if that is the case then they are saying that any woman is superior to any man because any woman would be a better candidate than any man in any scenario. That is what people are saying if they actually believe that.

At this point I have no doubt that people reading this will be thinking, ‘oh that is such bullshit, that isn’t what they are saying, they are saying that Alison is better than Mike and anyone who disagrees is sexist’ but that thought process alone suggests that selecting candidates is a black and white process and one selection is right and one is wrong. As I said earlier, I have no idea of the credentials of either candidates in this case but the members who do have more of a knowledge will have a better insight and maybe they are best placed to select who they think the best candidate is rather than someone 100s of miles away and only sees the sex of the candidates as a determining factor.

So I waded into the thread. I won’t c&p the full comment as you need to read the whole thread for full context but I essentially said that if members in that particular area weren’t mature enough to pick the right person then you’d expect that those members are just as mature as the rest of the membership ergo none of us are mature enough to make the right selection so who should make every selection? I suggested Tim Farron but then questioned what some people would say if he picked the wrong person according to some people, it didn’t need to be a majority of dissenters because as we’ve seen the majority can get things wrong as seen by Rumbles > McInnes in the regional lists.

The response I got:

The big irony about the comment above is the historically it is *women* who got dismissed for being hysterical.

Boom. Man talk about lowering the boom and not engaging in the actual point. This is the type of person that blows my mind. Instead of engaging in debate they instead have an opinion and anyone who points out the issues in their opinion or indeed has a different opinion needs to be dismissed as being inferior (or indeed in my case hysterical). Why would I take such a thought from the above, well later in the thread after I’d ducked out the same person speaking to someone else said:

I don’t think that everyone in North East Scotland is sexist but I am working on the fairly safe assumption that anyone who comments on this thread with “are you accusing x of being sexist?” is sexist. Or dim. Take your pick.

So no-one in NE Scotland is sexist but they got a sexist result (not sure how that can happen – smells rather oxymorony* to me) but then to call people dim if they disagree with your PoV is self-righteous to the max and is a problem I have come up against on many an occasion (although to be fair this is mostly online and rarely do you find this attitude with people you meet).

The person who got that comment responded thusly and sums up my thought process perfectly:

Blinkered self righteous people like you are part of the problem not the solution , bend the knee to your view or we are all sexist or dim….ever looked in a mirror?

Some people believe that they are right and that is quite simply that. Those that disagree are not smart enough to see the world like they see it. That air of superiority stinks and a disproportionate amount of Lib Dems have that. Now I can counter that with having met many Lib Dems and having debated issue where we disagree but there are been a debate and you understand each others views but still disagree and move on and that is great, that is exactly how it should be. We can’t and won’t always see eye to eye on the best way forward to fix issues, that is human nature but when someone says that they are right and anyone else who disagrees is dim, it frustrates the hell out of me that some people are just so dismissive of other views and other people.

You see the issue here (after over 1,000 words) isn’t about what the issue should be about. The issue should be about whether a woman should ever be deselected/moved down a list. That is the point that is up for debate on this. Instead it has turned into a debate about how the result was sexist and proves that the Lib Dems need more provisions in place to ensure a greater proportion of women are in place as candidates. That is a legitimate debate and one I might get into at some point but instead I am just mad at people who have decided that because they have an opinion and you might not share that opinion then they are better than you.

I’m not singling out this one person as I’ve seen in on many occasions by a group of people. It is times like these that make me less inclined to go to Conference and instead spend the money on a holiday to Barbados or somewhere (scarily the prices aren’t that much different) because it makes you question whether you belong amongst so many people who are clearly on a different plane of existence to my humble self that I might not even be intelligent enough to be worthy of a hello.

Apparently this may sound hysterical to some people (I think that term is great, most people who know me accuse me of being too cold and emotionless but apparently I have so much emotion that I can be hysterical – beautiful) but some people really can make others feel inferior and that isn’t right. There needs to be a way to bring more equality to the elected representatives across sex, sexuality, ethnicity etc. but there are different opinions on how to do this but there is also the issue that many members see how others are treated and instead of standing up instead roll their neck in and don’t put themselves out there in case they have different opinions to the most vocal. That is just as much of an issue with encouraging people to step forward to stand as candidates.

To put your head above the parapet, man or woman, gay or straight, white or black takes a lot and if you see others being dismissive you really would naturally think twice. I know I would. The most unedifying part of politics is being dismissed out of hand as being wrong. I’m sure I’m wrong a lot, I’m human but if I am I want to know why and not just get the sense that others believe that I’m inferior. That is where I struggle and it is sad to say that a number of Lib Dems (again online mostly, haven’t really found that much locally or face to face when out and about) have made me feel this and that sucks and makes me lose sleep. Sad times.

*I know oxymorony isn’t a word but it just felt right

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Written by neilmonnery

July 29th, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Posted in Politics

Tagged with ,

On Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘Tea Party’ issue for Labour…

with one comment

Jeremy Corbyn. Wow. Seriously what a run this is. This is a bit like the time Michelle McManus came from a 50/1 outsider to storm through and win whatever Simon Cowell show she won, was it Pop Idol?

He got on the ballot in a blaze of MPs feeling guilty and wanting to have a proper debate about where the party were and where they were going. Now he is third favourite but coming in at a rapid pace on Betfair and indeed in the first poll (YouGov/The Times) it was predicted that he would actually win the Labour Labourship contest. Holy Shit.

Still, I still find it unlikely that he can actually win but lets play the game because the title of the post actually does have some merit and brings up a legitimately interesting question/point.

I think it is very hard to win an election in any modern democracy from the fringes unless you are in a time of deep recession or rise of national identity. People generally like parties and politicians who are somewhere around the centre. Whether they are centre-right or centre-left doesn’t really matter and the majority of voters can sway with the wind between these ideological viewpoints.

The word in the previous sentence that is key is the word ‘majority’ for you see you only win if the majority of people vote for you. Tony Blair’s three victories came from the centre-left ground and Ed Miliband decided to throw the blueprint of victory away and move the party further to the left. This of course solidified the core vote but it left the floating voters with a long way to travel to vote for him.

Jeremy Corbyn is coming in and lets be honest, saying a lot of things that people want to hear. The thing is many look at socialism and see it as a good thing but does socialism lead to people aspiring to do better and more importantly is it a position where the majority of floating voters will really gravitate towards? Modern political history says that it does not but it will once more solidify the core vote.

Labour’s recent political success all came when the party spoke to those who wanted to get further in life. Blair knew that people wanted a helping hand and not a hand out. Blair proved that you can not only win from the Centre-Left but you can win in a landslide. Now there is a surge of people within the Labour party who seemingly want to forget the good times and go back to the time when they stood for a small proportion of the electorate but really bloody stood for them. They didn’t win and therefore couldn’t help that section of the electorate but that didn’t matter.

I had a conversation with someone recently on this and they said they thought Jeremy Corbyn was principled and that is exactly what the country needs as no-one else was principled. I don’t know his voting past or his voting intention but he seemed enthused by Corbyn. He may be a swing voter but many of the newer Labour members do seem very enamoured by Corbyn’s words and don’t seem to look at how he can actually deliver what he wants.

The policy that anyone earning over £50k a year should have a 7% tax hike to pay for free education for students is not going to win over the people that you need to win over to win. 7% is quite the tax hike for a lot of people who don’t even consider themselves as that well off.

Nuclear disarmament sounds good and is something I would personally see as a good aspiration but is JC doing to dismantle all our nuclear weapons without getting the rest of the world to do the same? That leaves us kinda vulnerable, no…?

How much money is he going to borrow to renationalise all the utility and transport companies that he wants to? That seems to be something that would plunge the country back into a state of deep national debt and that doesn’t sound like a good thing.

He also wants to reunite Ireland and that is an interesting one. I don’t think that I’m going out on a limb here to say that might be rather hard to get over the line.

So he has lots of policies that’ll be extremely tough to actually make happen even if he wins the leadership contest and then a General Election. The issue is again look at these and how are the party going to win over the moderates that they need to actually win?

And this my friends is where the link to the Tea Party comes in. The Tea Party as we all know is the very vocal and furthest mainstream part of the Republican Party. They get a lot of air time and the Republicans keep moving further right to appease this section of the party but in doing so, all they are doing is making it even harder for the moderates to go out and vote for them. There are millions of American who believe in the small state that is at the heart of Republicanism but can’t bring themselves to vote for a Republican Party that are drifting further to the right and away from the centre, instead choosing not to vote for voting for a moderate Democrat.

I’m a Hillary guy and think she would make a superb President of the United States but her chances of winning against a moderate Republican aren’t as slam dunk as many of us outsiders are led to believe. In the electoral system in the US you really have to dominate the larger states in the Electoral College and in recent years the Republicans have struggled in many of these (Texas/Florida being the large states that seem solid in). If the Republicans find a moderate then they can be competitive in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana and the like but they won’t vote for an extreme and this is what Corbyn followers have to look at.

Jeremy Corbyn might speak to you but will he speak to enough people to actually win an election? If the answer is no then surely you have to vote for someone else who can. If you think that politics is all about principles and standing up for what you believe in but not getting anywhere to actually act and help those you want to help then Corbyn is your guy. If you want to do some good for those people but not get everything you might want/believe in then you have to be more moderate.

Winners come from the moderate ground and to win you have to be there. Being idealistic but getting nowhere seems noble but also seems pointless. There is a reason the Tories and Lib Dems are cheering Corbyn on from afar and that isn’t because either of the parties think he’ll eat into their support. Putting significant ground between Labour and the centre ground will leave a lot of voters sitting on their hands or going somewhere else.

My last analogy (and if this doesn’t worry Labour voters I don’t know what will) but a Labour General Election victory is actually less likely than me having a successful date whilst wearing my new tie-dye fleece. Yes folks it is just that unlikely.

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Written by neilmonnery

July 22nd, 2015 at 5:10 pm

Posted in Politics

Tagged with , ,