The Rambles of Neil Monnery

Another pointless voice in the vast ocean that is the interweb

On this Stop all immigration and close the UK borders until ISIS is defeated petition bollocks…

with 28 comments

Oh people. People of the UK. At times I know I sit on a different side of the fence to the majority. That is fine. I’m used to it. Yet last night when I saw an e-petition get shared on social media entitled, Stop all immigration and close the UK borders until ISIS is defeated then I started to get angry. Not because this e-petition exists, as I’m not surprised some people would think like this but because over a quarter of a million people had signed it. Overnight another 50,000 people have seemingly signed it and I want to go up to every single one of them and shake them vigorously asking if they understand exactly what they are arguing for.

Here is what we know, there are some bad guys (and girls) out there who are determined to change our way of life. They want the western world to take steps back and allow them to lord over huge swathes of the Middle East without any interference. They want this so they can use terror and intimidation to get what they want, whether they be to kill who they want to kill, rape who they want to rape, do some genocide just for the thrills, force people to follow the path that they want them to follow. Is this really what we want for people who are of the same species to us? Are we really so insular that we care only about what we can see if our own very narrow field of vision?

Just because we can’t physically see the danger that millions of people face doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. These refugees are fleeing from these barbaric people because what the people of Paris faced on Friday night is akin to what these people face every single day. Read your newspapers and you’ll see stories most days about people being rounded up in IS held territories and being executed for a variety of made-up reasons, that the terrorists use to reinforce their power and control over people. Would we accept that if it was us in that was us and would we want the world to turn a blind eye? Fuck no we wouldn’t.

It is easy to turn yourselves off to what is having beyond your spectrum. It is so easy to bury your head in the sand but these people are out there and they are brutally tearing apart the lives of millions of people. By closing our borders until this horrific terrorist group are defeated all we are saying is that we are all right and everyone else can deal with helping out these people fleeing from fear. Is that who we are? Are we really the type of people that only care about our lot in life and can’t empathise with those who have it so so so much worse?

There but for the grace of God is a great saying (although God doesn’t exist but still) and it is pure luck that you or I were born in the UK, where we have some many opportunities and relative freedom from oppression. We don’t get gunned down in the street just because we have a different point of view to someone else. Our sister and daughters aren’t taken by men with guns to be sex slaves just because they get off on it. These people face these scenarios daily and we wonder why they are desperately fleeing because lets be honest, wouldn’t we? Of course we fucking would.

Yes bad men and women will abuse the system to attempt to get into our country and carry out attacks aimed at changing our way of life but just because some bad people exist doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t help those who need help. People rag on the benefits system because a few bad eggs abuse it and take money that they don’t need or are entitled to but those few bad eggs taint the view of far too many. The benefits system is a lifeline to many but it is another example where our views are changed by the insignificant minority. People are being slaughtered and what some people want to do is totally looks inwards and not think about their fellow human beings. I know it sounds a bit Zen or hippy but we are but one species and we should be united against those who want to divide and conquer.

I’ll end this with this scenario. It is easy to ignore something that we cannot see but put yourself in this situation, you are walking down the street and you see a group of men with guns dragging a 12 year-old girl into a van and they start raping her. Do you get angry? Do you get scared? Do you feel helpless? Do you want to help? Do you want to do something to stop the pain this girl is feeling? Do you want to do anything you can to stop this happening? Just because it isn’t happening in your street doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. It is happening every single fucking day and we in the west have only seen the tip of what these barbarians want to do to people.

What a compassionate society does is welcome with open arms refugees, to give them a safe haven and an opportunity to not only to live but an opportunity to have a life. They are two distinctly different things and if people only care about themselves then they are perfectly entitled to do just that but for me, I don’t think that just because bad people aren’t in my field of vision they don’t exist. This is a time for the people of the UK to stand up for people who need our help, not to look the other way and tell the world that it isn’t our problem. Doing the easy thing is to walk away and tell the world that it isn’t our problem but the easy thing is very rarely the right thing.

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Written by neilmonnery

November 15th, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Posted in Politics

On the one that got away…

without comments

It has been an awfully long time since I’ve written anything personal here. I just haven’t felt the desire nor the need. Yet a few weeks ago someone surprisingly turned up in my dreams and then on Sunday I was laying in bed scrolling through Facebook on the iPad and I saw a link that my friend Anna had shared. It was entitled, They Wrote Down Their Confessions To ‘The One That Got Away,’ But Then These YouTube Comments Almost Top Them. The title of the story is pretty self-explanatory. The YouTube video is embedded below:

I watched this and over the past few days I have been mentally composing this blog post all about what I’d say to her and about how everything played out. It is a story not many people will know. I don’t talk about her or it because it was many many moons ago. I’m just not that open. A handful of people will know the story and I’m going to be deliberately vague on any identifying details but I think it is time that I want to write all about my one that got away.

As I pointed out in the previous paragraph, it was many many moons ago. I had been through a time of internal turmoil. I didn’t know where my life was heading and I felt helpless and adrift on the sea of life. I hadn’t been in any position to meet anyone for an awfully long time. Then I slowly found myself and a path opened up, one that would change a lot of things. A path that would very quickly mean meeting her.

Now like most people my age, I have met and talked to thousands of people in my life and yet this person is the only one where I could tell you exactly the first thing she said to me and exactly the first thing I said to her. I can tell you where I was, I can tell you where she was, literally I can recall that first brief conversation perfectly. That is both scary and cool in equal measure at the same time. I knew instantaneously that I liked her and I mean instantaneously. I don’t know if I believe in love at first sight, I don’t think I do but if I did, then I’d say I fell in love with her the moment I saw her. No-one before or since has had such an immediate effect on me but she did. I liked her and wanted desperately to get to know her.

Over the coming weeks we would get to know each other, we would become friends and I think it is fair to describe us as relatively close. There was a spark. A real spark. People had told me of this spark thing but I had never believed it as I had never experienced it. I wondered how you could have chemistry with someone. It was an alien concept and not one that I truly believed existed and then I met her and boy did we have sparks, it was a veritable cascade of fireworks. That might be slightly overusing poetic license but trust me, the chemistry was real – and when I realised that other people saw it then I knew it wasn’t just in my mind.

I found this out when a mutual friend one evening said to me, ‘So…you and (name)…’ and pressed her fingers together and raised her eyebrows. I would shoot her down and move the conversation on quickly before later in the evening telling her that, ‘we’ll see…’ and not saying anything else on the matter.

Now this chemistry thing is one that I need to speak of in slightly more depth. To this day no-one else has ever been able to press my buttons to elicit a reaction like she could. Not even close. It was like she had the cheat sheet to me and how I was wired. We would fight and it was so much fun. Like real fun. We would prod and poke each other and it was just fun. I know that sounds weird how fighting can be fun but it just was. I remember once a couple of mutual friends commented how they didn’t like it was when mummy and daddy fought. I just wrote that sentence and smiled as I recalled it.

So yes we have established that there was some real chemistry. I think in my head at this point I thought things were just going to work out between us and that it was only a matter of time. At this juncture I didn’t know there were other suitors for her and to be honest pussyfooted around somewhat, waiting for the right time to ask her out instead of just biting the bullet and doing it. This went on for quite a while before someone basically told me I had to hurry up because there was someone else out there. I would find out afterwards that there was in fact two other potential beaus.

So I asked her out. She said that she really liked me…but only as friends. Dagger. I was surprised in a way because I did genuinely think that things were going to work out. The chemistry was real and we did really get on. I had really liked people before but I was infatuated with them and put them up on a pedestal and there was no real prospect of anything ever happening with them because I was the weird creepy guy who liked someone so instead of getting to know them, I would obsess about them and not speak to them. She was the first person where those tendencies weren’t front and centre. I would go out of my way to get to know her, spend time with her, talk to her. It just felt so natural.

I would have to lick my wounds and I suppose try and understand what had just happened. She went out of her way to not make things awkward and I will always be immeasurably grateful to her for that. Over the next couple of weeks word got back to me that she was going down the road with one of the other guys. That in a way cushioned the blow somewhat because I could convince myself that it wasn’t me or anything I did, it was just someone else was a better option. Whether that is true or not is unknown but I like to think that I couldn’t have read things that erroneously.

Yet despite her going down the road with another person, I still didn’t officially know of his existence. It was like a secret that everyone else knew that I wasn’t meant to know. One day – several weeks later – I sent her a message to say I knew of him and what was going on and that I was fine with things and she didn’t need to hide it from me. She seemed to react with a mixture of shock and anger that I knew but I was like, I’m cool with things and so it became more of an open thing.

A few weeks later I got a message from a mutual friend who told me that this guy was going to around later and the girl was worried about how I’d react. Now I don’t recall whether she was worried that I’d twat him or that it’d just hurt me or somewhere in-between. I genuinely don’t remember the ins and the outs but I sent back word that I was still fine and then it was set up that I’d meet him. It was like a political meet n greet, you meet someone, shake their hand, make small talk and move on. That is exactly how it went down. Yet I can you exactly what he was wearing and everything about that minute or so and it is so many moons ago it is ridiculous that I can remember such a seemingly insignificant event to such a degree. The reason I remember is because it included one of the most profound moments of self-discovery in my life.

During this conversation that probably didn’t last two minutes, I glanced at the girl and I saw the way she looked at him. She was so happy and had these big wide eyes as she gazed at him whilst I was talking to him and I learnt a valuable lesson. I learnt that my heart could simultaneously break but for it also not to matter one jot. I was totally besotted with this girl and I knew there and then that her happiness was what was important, not mine. She was happy with this guy and that was all that mattered. I could be happy that she was happy despite being so deeply unhappy. I know that doesn’t make any sense but it was how I felt at the time and even in the subsequent months I stood by that. She was happy. That was all that mattered.

Over the course of the next few weeks and months our friendship would drift, which is pretty natural. I know from my side I tried hard to keep our friendship close but I know that being friends with a single girl is different to being friends with a girl in a new relationship, certainly if you a single guy. Some months later there was an occasion where we were going to the same place, at exactly the same time, so I suggested we go there together and that was shot down so rapidly and forcefully I knew that we were never going to be close or even that social any more. That saddened me a lot but still, she was happy with the way things had worked out and despite everything that had happened, her happiness was still the only thing that mattered in my eyes between us so I really did step back.

Still this blog has the premise of what confession I’d say to her or what question would I ask, well I’ll come on to that now. Our paths were about to naturally diverge. I was to stop doing the thing and going to the place that brought us together. The last time I was to be there was known to all including her. That day came and she wasn’t sitting in her usual seat, she wasn’t there, I didn’t even get the chance to say goodbye and that was the only time she ever truly hurt me. Everyone else said goodbye including people who truly fucking hated my guts but she wasn’t there to say goodbye to. I wouldn’t have made a big thing or anything but just a simple goodbye and good luck with everything would have been nice. Maybe even say we’d try and keep in contact but nothing. On that little whiteboard that people scribbled their confessions on I’d have written, ‘I wish we’d said goodbye’.

Several months later I actually walked past her and another mutual friend on the other side of the street. I saw them but I don’t think they saw me and I remember thinking about whether I should go and say hello but I chose not to. That was the last time I would ever see her. I know she’d ask mutual friends about me every so often and I just wanted to scream that she should ask me herself. I couldn’t reach out to her because she had pushed me so far away that to make contact (that I won’t lie – I have thought about infrequently over the many moons that have come and gone since) would seem maybe a touch creepy so I always decided against it.

I don’t think I regret that things didn’t work out because things did work out for her. As far as I know she is still happy with the guy she chose way back when. I won’t sit here and type that I could’ve made her happier or that I was a better person than him because we don’t know, what I will type though is I would have done anything for her and put everything on the line to try and make her happy. Yet I type this and I fully believe that she made probably made the right decision. I have no idea if we’d have worked out. What I do genuinely think is that we’d have burned very brightly but for how long, that is a very legitimate question.

She was to this day the only person who I’ve instinctively liked and fallen for hook, line and sinker. There have of course been other people that I’ve liked and developed feelings for but with her it was just there and so bold and clear that I didn’t even have to think about it. I knew she was special. She was so smart, like way smarter than me and I like to think that I’m not exactly a moron but she was so intelligent that she could’ve done anything. Couple that with her deep work ethic that honestly she could be whatever she wanted to be and make a huge success of herself. It was part of what attracted me to her, not only was she breathtakingly gorgeous and we had this chemistry, I could see the potential she had in her to do anything.

Yet here we are. At the end of my tale of the one that got away. I wouldn’t even have a date or have real interest in anyone else for several years, not because I was pining for her or mending a broken heart but because I thought that there was little point chasing after someone unless they made me feel something like she made me feel. Weirdly enough the next person I would have interest in, a very similar scenario played out and she is now happily married to the other guy.

If I saw her again I’d just tell her that despite our time of being close being short, she had such a profound effect on me as a person. She taught me so much about me, both good and particularly bad. She made me want to be a better person. She showed me that I can have real strong powerful emotions and that I could be in so much pain and for it not to be important as my feelings can be inconsequential.

It has been so long but I can remember so many things about her, her accent, the way she said my name, her smile, her eyes, even writing this it has made me smile somewhat thinking about her. We may not have made it as it were but my life was enriched just by knowing her and had I never met her then I suspect I wouldn’t know myself half as well as I do. I just hope wherever she is, whatever she is doing, she is as happy as she can be but still, why didn’t we say goodbye…?

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

October 29th, 2015 at 8:10 pm

Posted in Personal

Tagged with

On whether a woman ‘needs’ to be selected for Oldham West and Royton by-election…

with one comment

Needs is the key word in the title.

The first by-election of the 2015-2020 will be called following the sad passing of Michael Meacher MP, who died this week following a short illness. He had been a representative in the House of Commons since 1970 and had always been an MP of them seat (and the seat under its previous boundaries and guise of Oldham West). The result of the by-election itself should be a straightforward Labour hold, although no doubts UKIP will have their eyes on the prize but in reality Labour should triumph here with relative ease, therefore this won’t be the first real referendum on Jeremy Corbyn or on the Conservative government.

For the Lib Dems this is a seat where they’ve never finished higher than third and never really been in the game in win it as it were. In the 1990s, the party were the kings of shock by-election wins as people protested against the major parties before returning home during a General Election. These days a lot of that protest vote goes towards UKIP, so I don’t think the party should be expecting much here but that doesn’t mean the party should be ignoring the by-election. This is a good grounding for Lib Dems in the local area to get back out of the streets to promote liberal values.

Jonathan Fryer over on LibDemVoice has written that the party must take the by-election seriously and I agree with him. I certainly wouldn’t be advocating an open cheque book in the attempts to pull out something surprising but a good well run campaign seems like a sensible approach.

One key will be finding the right candidate. I have seen multiple Lib Dems saying on social media that the party needs to find a female candidate because our current line-up of eight male MPs looks bad. Whilst I would agree with the second part of the sentence, selecting a woman for this by-election is highly unlikely to change the make-up of the Liberal Democrat parliamentary team, no matter how much we’d like for it to do so.

In 2015, the party chose only one man in a seat where the incumbent was standing down, in every other situation the party chose a woman. I’m not sure the fact the parliamentary party was all but wiped out can be laid at the feet of not having enough female candidates. I’m not sure deselecting Clegg, Farron, Mulholland, Lamb, Brake, Carmichael, Pugh or Williams and replacing them with a female candidate was ever truly advocated by people, yet in all likelihood that is what would have had to have happened for a woman to be selected as a Lib Dem MP in the 2015 General Election.

So I think looking back at the campaign and the gender breakdown our our representatives on the green benches and blaming the party as being sexist or not fair to women is pretty harsh. If we select a woman here and she doesn’t pull off the upset of all upsets then will people still call the party sexist for not having a female MP?

I’ve always advocated the best candidate for the job as being the bottom line. If it is a man, a woman, I don’t really care. If they are gay, bi or straight, I don’t really care. If they are white, black or of other regional descent, I don’t care. If they are atheist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh etc. I don’t care. I think you catch my drift. All seats at all levels will have better or worse candidates, some people just don’t fit in an area, some are already well known locally. It all comes down to individuals.

Yet having said all this, this word ‘optics’ is a key one. The optics of the Liberal Democrats is not good on this front. The optics won’t change after this by-election, certainly not from the outside, yet maybe the internal optics are just as key? I think that whatever the decision it won’t change much as we have to wait until a by-election in a Lib Dem winnable seat. Should Edinburgh West go tits up then that would be a seat where the Lib Dems could feasibly win a by-election but if that did come up, Mike Crockart would seem highly likely to be the candidate having been the disposed MP in May.

Richmond Park though is probably the key. There was no sitting MP in 2015. A by-election is very possible for 2016 should Zac Goldsmith win the London Mayoral Race (which he is very much in) and although he had a 19,000 majority, political parties traditionally do not do well when they are defending a seat in a by-election. It would be a tough win for the Lib Dems but it would be very much possible. This is a seat where the lights would shine bright for the party and the optics would be glaring. Getting women as candidates into winnable seats is far more important than the likes of Oldham West and Royton.

To answer my original question, no the party doesn’t need to field a female candidate. It would probably be preferable for most people but deep down it won’t make too much of a difference in how the party is perceived on this matter. Now getting female candidates in seats where they can win, that is another story entirely. The party has many impressive women who would be excellent candidates (and indeed many men as well) but just putting females names on the ballot won’t solve a damned thing. Getting women the right experience and putting them in the right situation is the key.

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

October 22nd, 2015 at 10:29 am

Posted in Politics

Tagged with ,

On a Lib Dem saying something offensive and dumb, a petty Tory and local journalism…

with 8 comments

Sometimes I come across a story where literally everyone involved in it comes out badly. Today I saw such a story that the more I looked into it, the worse the secondary characters looked. sadly for the main characters, they just never looked good.

For those who don’t know anything about the story to which I can referring then you can read the write-up in the Portsmouth News. The long and short of it is a ‘rising star’ in the Lib Dems apparently said something stupid whilst drunk, well lets be fair, something beyond stupid, something flat out disgusting. She should learn to deal with alcohol better, tell her friends not to post her stupid remarks on social media or to be frank have less vile words spilling from her mouth. The words she used were, ‘joining the Tories is like joining IS.’ Yikes. You can’t defend it so I won’t but lets look at the rest of the players in this story.

She had a friend who shared the comments online, first things first, don’t share such crap. It is wrong but will also come back to bite you in the bum and make you look stupid. It isn’t a bit of fun. In this era where all our communications on social media can be scrutinised with a click of a button, learn to be careful about what you share online. If people (and I actually know activists from other parties have done so looking for dirt) went through my timeline on twitter or my Facebook books or my instagram pictures, whatever, they would find that I love Nadiya from GBBO maybe a little bit too much, I love George from Masterchef Australia maybe a little bit too much. I talk a lot of sport and talk a lot of politics but plain offensive things, no siree bob, a) it isn’t on and b) your online identity is rightly or wrongly a part of you. So don’t share things that will get you into trouble.

So he has some fault for sharing the comment (or should I say alleged comment Mr. Lawyer?) but whatever. Next up is the Tory councillor in Portsmouth who saw it and instead of looking at it and thinking, ‘oh what a foolish young woman’ instead decided to tweet the local media alerting them to the Facebook status. I mean for real. Cllr. New, you are a grown man, act your fucking age (yes I said fucking, I’d edgy and uncouth like that – big up my Portsmouth upbringing under a Conservative council – or I should say Havant Council if I’m being strictly accurate). Some 17 or 18 year-old girl apparently said something fucking stupid whilst drunk, someone who heard it thought it was either funny or true so posted it online and the adult response is to go crying to the local media? Fucking hell.

So Cllr. New has some blame and then the Pompey News itself. Oh I love the Pompey News. I have had several friends pass through those doors. It was my hometown newspaper but what on Earth are you doing giving this story the time of day? The person who said it doesn’t live in Portsmouth, the person who shared it doesn’t live in Portsmouth (although either studies or studied in Pompey). So where is the Pompey angle? No fewer than three Tory councillors in Portsmouth are quoted in the story about it. I mean come on. I know local newspapers are dying and the written media as a whole is on life support but when you are calling up or e-mailing multiple Tory councillors for a comment on a story about a drunk girls comments who doesn’t live in the area then boy that is a tenuous link for a story.

So I think a lot of people come out badly in this. Both young Lib Dems need to learn not to say (or be amused by) offensive stuff (let alone let it be shared on social media). I suppose in the old days (of you know – ten years ago) a person says something to friends when drunk and no-one else hears of it. This desire to share everything on social media is something people need to curtail (and I say that as an avid social media user). The Tory councillor who squinnyed like a fucking baby (see I am from Pompey – I used the word squinny) needs to grow the fuck up and if the local newspaper is going to react to every story where someone says something offensive when drunk then the Pompey News is going to be the main reason for the rainforests to die out.

Just maddening. The lot of it.

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Written by neilmonnery

October 1st, 2015 at 3:48 pm

Posted in Media,Politics

Tagged with , , ,

On the new ‘kinder, gentler’ politics…

without comments

I haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks. Not because I haven’t had things to say but because I’ve been in some sort of a malaise in terms of writing on the blog. Not that I haven’t been writing a lot mind you, I’ve been writing elsewhere doing a fair amount of sports writing. This blog though has developed more into politics as the years have gone on.

Still here I am. On the back of two Labour conference speeches I feel compelled to tap tap tap on the keyboard once more. Jeremy Corbyn I actually have few problems with. He doesn’t live in the real world but what he has to say sounds good. He would be a fantastic President or Prime Minister of Utopia. Sadly for all of us Utopia isn’t where we live but his sentiments are nice all the same. He needs to remember that he isn’t talking to the Labour membership any more, he has to speak to the wider electorate but he may well get there in time. He speaks of a kinder, gentler politics. Something I could fully endorse and get behind.

I’ve been actively involved in politics for several years and I have found it challenging I must say. People trawl through Facebook and Twitter posts to find something that they can twist and manipulate to fulfil a narrative that they have. People lie. People will say that there is one rule for them but another rule for everyone else. It is a constant bugbear of mine. You can be the biggest arsehole you like if you choose to be, that is your prerogative, but if you whine when people treat you the way you treat them then I have issues with it. You treat others how you’d like to be treated but if you think people should treat you better than you treat them then surely that isn’t fair or right?

So kinder, gentler politics. Good. I actually liked Jeremy’s style at PMQs. I’m not sure six questions from the public is the best idea and his lack of follow-up allowed the PM to have a relatively easy time of it but it was conducted in a far more civilised tone. The House of Commons as a whole needs to grow up and if Jeremy Corbyn helps drag it there then good times.

And then today Tom Watson, who is the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party had his speech at conference. The memo I’m guessing didn’t reach his desk. You can read his speech here. If that is kind and gentle then I’m both an experienced and well recommended lover as well as a three Michelin starred chef. Just bear with me a second whilst I go and prick my microwave chilli…

Tom Watson is a big bruiser who thinks politics is done by being populist, attacking enemies and not putting your policies out there for people to debate and vote on. He is essentially the anti-Corbyn. JC is quiet but says what he thinks in a progressive manner. Watson is loud and in a way quite brutish. Calling the Lib Dems, a ‘useless bunch of lying sellouts’ and the Tories ‘nasty’ isn’t progressive. It is easy, lazy, old school politics. The type that Corbyn wants to move beyond.

The issue I have is the Lib Dems aren’t useless (as we are seeing now in government at all the Lib Dem policies that the Tories are cutting out) and aren’t sellouts. You can debate lying but when you consider how much of the Lib Dem manifesto made it into coalition policy then they punched above their weight in government. The Tories aren’t nasty either. You may disagree with their policies (I do a lot) but they aren’t nasty. Labour aren’t all bad either. The truth is (as I see it) that all parties have some genuinely interesting policies that could take this country forward. Heck even UKIP had a policy about reopening all the nursing colleges that had closed and that seemed like a sensible idea to help repopulate the nursing industry as it were.

I’m not saying consensus politics is the way forward but I do think treating the electorate like adults would be a great thing. Sadly as we know the way to win elections is to scare people (see Tories, 2015) so I’m not sure the ‘kinder, gentler’ politics that Jeremy Corbyn desires will be embraced by his party, let alone by the wider world. This is JC’s biggest problem. Lots of Labour MPs have things engrained into them and it will take more than a leader’s vision to take it out of them. This will be one of Labour’s biggest issues going forward, it gives other parties a free license to throw the words ‘kinder’ and ‘gentler’ in the face of any Labour MP or candidate who throws mud.

Lastly one final bugbear of mine, these ‘Never kissed a Tory’ t-shirts, badges etc. – do these people actually ask everyone they kiss what political party that they are affiliated with if any? Do they go to a club, get drunk, spy someone on the dancefloor, shimmy their way over to them and say, ‘hey baby, I just met you, and this is crazy, I think I want to snog you but before I do I want a breakdown of everyone you’ve ever voted for?’ I think not somehow.

Why would you be proud of the fact that you hadn’t kissed a Tory anyway? Isn’t that you know, just a bit pathetic? I have friends who are Tories, who are Labour, who are Lib Dems, who are Greens, heck I have even been known to have UKIP friends (albeit a smaller amount). Someone’s political allegiance isn’t the overriding factor of a friendship or indeed whether I want to snog them. I would be stunned if it was an issue that stopped most people deciding if they wanted to play tonsil tennis with another.

If Labour really do want to be kinder and gentler then stop calling the Lib Dems ‘useless’ ‘lying’ ‘sellouts’ and stop calling the Tories ‘nasty’ and ‘Scum’. Seems pretty straightforward to me?

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Written by neilmonnery

September 30th, 2015 at 3:23 pm

On Labour’s one enemy – the Tories. If only they had kept that mantra 2010-2015…

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I had a link retweeted into my timeline just now and it made me shake my head in despair over what might’ve been. Paul Flynn MP has written a blog post entitled, One Leader, One Party, One Enemy. The blog is about how Labour’s coronation of Jeremy Corbyn as leader should further focus the minds of the party on who the real enemy is for them and that is the Tories. If only that was their mantra for the past five years then who knows how things would’ve panned out but of course is most certainly wasn’t.

For as we all know Labour spent more time, more column inches, more media sound-bytes and more leaflet words on berating the Lib Dems than they did on attacking the Tories. It was a easy win for them as winning over disaffected Lib Dem voters was a far easier job than winning over potential Tory voters. The only problem to this strategy was it was doomed to lead to another Tory led government and isn’t that exactly what the Labour party didn’t want? They had to decide whether they hated the Lib Dems more than they hated the Tories and they decided that the Lib Dems were the target of choice and to allow the Tories to lead the 2015-2020 government.

I choose the word ‘allow’ with thought because that is what they chose to do. Attacking the Lib Dems the way they did consistently over the five years of the previous government could only ever lead to a Conservative led government (note I don’t say majority as I don’t think anyone really saw that coming but still). This is a case of simple electoral mathematics that people don’t like but that is the way of the world. If there are more Tory/LD marginals than Labour/LD marginals then the wholesale collapse of the LD vote would lead to more Labour MPs but would lead to even more Tory MPs. It is quite basic stuff and when you are targeting LD seats at the expense of a Tory/Labour marginal then you know that you’ve drawn your line in the sand and that is that you prefer the Tories to the Lib Dems.

Take for example Ed Balls and Nick Clegg. One of the very few ‘surprises’ that wasn’t a surprise to me was Ed Balls going down. Everyone knew that he was in trouble and that it was an extremely marginal seat. Ed Balls wasn’t a popular consistency MP and he’d barely scraped home in 2010 so with the Tories not exactly down in the polls, basic logic had the seat as tight. However Tom Watson had a vanity project that was more important that ensuring Ed Balls’ survival and that was seeing Nick Clegg go down in nearby Sheffield Hallam. So instead of going all out to defend Ed Balls from a very embarrassing defeat, he had a mission to kick Nick Clegg out of parliament. He visited Sheffield Hallam on five occasions. Nick Clegg as we all know just about survived but Ed Balls did not.

If you asked Labour whether they would’ve preferred to win Sheffield Hallam but sacrifice Morley and Outwood then I suspect the blood lust would say that they would do that deal in a heartbeat. Swapping a Lib Dem for a Tory is a deal they would’ve done in a heartbeat. This has goes to more than suggest that the whole strategy and ire of the Labour party 2010-2015 wasn’t pointed at winning a General Election but by kicking the Lib Dems.

In the UK there is clearly a broad anti-Tory majority but in our political system to knock them off the other parties need to essentially have some form of cohesive strategy. That would include not to point their cannons mainly on other anti-Tory parties. Sadly in politics too many people like to play politics and shoot at everyone and in turn allow the Tories to come through the middle and win.

In 2015 the Lib Dem vote collapsed rightly or wrongly but in those seats where they could beat the Tories but didn’t, they didn’t win not because of poor local campaigns but because for five years the Labour party had been launching a vast media attack on the Lib Dems and thus allowed the Tories to take those seats. It is the classic case of winning individual battles but losing the war. That might actually saw up the 2015 General Election pretty well for Labour.

If the Labour party concentrate on taking on the Tories then it will do the opposite of what happened earlier this year. If it is Tory attack after Tory attack then in those Tory/LD marginals, the Tories might slip up and lose and in the Tory/Labour marginals the Tory vote will slip and go towards the red rose. In politics you have to pick your battles and know both who your real opposition is and know the best path to being the leading party in Westminster. For Labour it is training the cannons on the Tories and the same for the Lib Dems.

In 2015 the Lib Dems ran what was a defensive campaign aimed at keeping the seats where they were entrenched and dug in but sadly for them it failed because the national narrative was so anti-LD that people who were angry at the Lib Dems for betrayal were more happy to see them lose than they were for the Tories to lose. If you voted Lib Dem to keep out the Tories but felt betrayed by them because the Tories were so evil, then allowing the Tories to win just seems oxymoronic to me but what the hell do I know?

If Paul Flynn is right that the latest incarnation of Labour are there to take on the one enemy that is the Conservative party then that is a strategy that will best serve the anti-Tory cause. I still firmly believe that a Jeremy Corbyn led party can’t make the gains they need to win a majority. There are just too many constituencies where the demographics are not favourable for an extreme left party to come through. Yet having said that, Labour can dig themselves out of holes they created for themselves in many Tory/Labour marginals and if the narrative is once more not on how evil the Lib Dems are but how bad the Tories are then there are enough Tory/LD marginals that can turn yellow and keep the blues out of power.

I await with interest to see what the plan is, will raw emotion or shrewd strategy win the day? We shall see as they say…

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September 13th, 2015 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Politics

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On remembering the six gay weddings in the USA in 1975…

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How many of us have heard the story of the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Clela Rorex and what she did in 1975 by issuing wedding licenses for two men to get married? I suspect not many of us. I know I hadn’t until I was pointed in its direction last night but it is a quite wonderful story and I’ll allow Clela to recount it in her own words via NPR:

The couple came in. They asked for a marriage license. And it’s the first time I met openly gay people. I said, I don’t know if I can do this. And at that point, I went to the district attorney and he said the Colorado marriage code did not specify that marriage had to be between a man and a woman, and therefore, I did it. I honestly did not anticipate the degree of hate. It was threats, people needed to kill me for doing this, and that kind of stuff. And I had entire church congregations writing me that it would be Sodom and Gomorrah in the area. I had a small son, he was about 8, and people would call on the phone and if he answered, they’d spiel their hatred to him. And one day, I walked into my office.

I was standing and looking out my window and this horse trailer drives up and some media vans. This cowboy gets out. All of a sudden, it just dawned on me – he was going to ask for a marriage license for his horse. My deputy and I were flipping through the marriage code like crazy, you know, what are we going to do? So the cowboy comes in and asked for a marriage license. And I started taking information. I ask him his name and Dolly’s name – Dolly was the horse – and I said, and how old is Dolly? He said, 8. And I put my pen down, calm as could be, and said, well, I’m sorry, but that’s too young without parental approval.

This woman to be frank is an unsung hero. She just looked at people and looked at the law and saw nothing on the statute that prohibited a wedding between two people of the same gender. She wasn’t afraid of the unknown, she issued the wedding license and got on with things. She would issue five more before the lawyers and the Colorado Attorney General made her stop. Sadly for her she had to leave office before her term was up and she knew she would never have won re-election.

The whole question of whether the government should ever have been (or indeed still should be) involved in weddings is a legitimate one to raise. I think it is clear that as a society we are evolving at a rapid rate and the speed that gay marriage has been accepted throughout the western world shows that public perception is changing on homosexuality. Love is love is one of my favourite sayings. Whether it is love between people of the same gender, people of wildly different ages, who cares? Life is so short and in large parts miserable, I never understood why some people thought that if others didn’t follow life via the convention that they believed was right, that they were wrong.

The friend who pointed me to the story did so following telling me about a gay proposal at a Houston Astros game he was at that came up on the big screen. Texas is about as red as red can get (bar Austin) and the crowd went wild and cheered as the embarrassed person being asked said yes. If the vast majority of a baseball crowd in redder than red Texas is cheering for a wedding proposal between two men then progress is more than considerable on this front.

40 years ago Clela Rorex saw two men wanting to get married, she didn’t see anything in the law that said they couldn’t so issued the marriage license. Considering Kim Davis is still sitting in jail having been found guilty of contempt of court in Kentucky for failing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, we aren’t at the finishing line yet where it just isn’t an issue full stop. Still progress is clear and people like Clela Rorex show us that even the best part of half a century ago, some people didn’t just see gender, they saw love and as we move forward I think more and more people are not looking at partners and seeing gender first and foremost but seeing love and happiness ans isn’t that in the end what it is all about?

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September 7th, 2015 at 11:25 am

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On the pure dumpster fire that was Penn State/Temple…

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Oh my word. What can I even say to comprehend what we witnessed yesterday? When you get stomped all over by a team that hasn’t beaten you in 74 years and even spotted you a ten-point lead to start the game then you know things didn’t exactly go to plan.

Where can you even start? You have a Quarterback who many draft analysts had as the best QB potentially coming out of the 2016 class and some even saw him going #1 overall who looked dazed and confused as wave after wave of Temple defensive players came charging at him untouched and unchallenged. Usually in the game of American Football you are allowed to employ a line of five men called the Offensive Line, whose primary task is to protect the Quarterback from such an assault but Penn State decided to abandon with tradition and just allow these guys to run free at Hackenberg all game long.

Yet I’m not willing to give Hackenberg a pass, not by a long shot. This was one of the top QB recruits in the country, if my memory serves me right he was the top Pro-Style QB recruit. He had a great freshman season, looked like he was ready to become a college superstar and under John Donovan’s system he has just regressed. Yes there have been glimpses of greatness but those glimpses are becoming fewer and further between. Even when he has time and open men he isn’t connecting. Up 10-0 he had DaeSean Hamilton open for an easy touchdown and a 17-0 lead but he overthrew him. One of the Temple players was quoted afterwards as saying, ‘He (Hackenberg) was out of it after the third quarter. He looked like he didn’t wanna play anymore’ and that isn’t an unfair assessment from what I saw.

Next up the play-calling. Look Hackenberg sucked. The whole offensive line sucked (but Paris Palmer really really sucked) but what on Earth was going on in the booth? Did John Donovan actually have a plan for this offense or was it all made up from the top of his head? One thing I failed to notice in the whole game was one crossing route, I certainly doin’t recall a completed pass on a crossing route. If Temple’s linebackers are just blitzing and bringing pressure then do one of two things, take advantage of the one on one defence on the outside with our excellent Wide Receivers or call some fucking quick screens over the vacated area in the middle of the field. Not one screen. We had a couple of bubble screens that were completely blown up but seriously draw up a screen pass or two.

There is a lot of blame to go around. You wait for the best part of nine months for the season and that is what you get served up. I have always been one of those very loyal fans that wants to give a coaching staff or a manager time to turn things around. I think I have rarely advocated for a change. Steve Cotteril and Richie Barker are the only two Pompey managers I’ve really wanted to see go for instance.

James Franklin was the guy I wanted and I don’t think he’s done a horrific job but his offensive coordinator is getting a right pelting amongst Nittany Nation and it is tough to not want to join in. He has been given a great hand in Hackenberg who was on the up but his scheme clearly doesn’t fit with Hackenberg’s skill set. Herb Hand is also taking a lot of heat for the O-Line and I give him a little more leeway due to the sanctions but Donovan’s seat has to be extremely hot. He has not done a good job coaching and his offensive play calling and his drawing up of plays to be honest – stinks. He needs to improve a hell of a lot or move on.

The defense was fine until it got completely gassed because it was only getting a minute or two breather between series. Jason Cabinda missed a potential pick-six. Nyeem Wartman-White got hurt and is out for the year. Carl Nassib had a terrific game but this loss and the 27 points that Temple put up isn’t on the defense at all. Could they have played better? Sure, but they played well enough to keep Penn State in it, yet the offense played well enough to just raise everybody’s blood pressure and rage.

You wait nine odd months and that is what you get. I think the only word that describes this is quite simply, ‘yugh’.

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September 6th, 2015 at 10:37 am

Posted in American Sport

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On wondering what more James Vince has to do to play for England…?

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The ECB and the England team have a long-standard in-joke that the rest of us mere mortals just don’t understand. For years they’ve decided that Hampshire players are not deserving of playing for England and the only time they’ll play one is in a really bad situation where they can fail a lot easier so they can quickly say that they’ve tried and the player failed. It is getting boring but they still find it funny. The rest of us don’t.

The latest example is James Vince. Look as those who know me will attest, James Vince has been frustrating me for a good few years because you knew there was a mighty fine player in there ready to break out but he would more often than not flatter to deceive. This year though that has all changed and I completely trust Vince’s batting because he has performed week in, week out at the T20 format and indeed was the top run scorer in the competition this season.

Vince is a classical player and has been likened to Michael Vaughan for several years but as Michael Atherton pointed out on Saturday during Sky’s coverage of the T20 Blast Finals Day, what you are surprised with is just how hard Vince hits the ball. He isn’t all muscle but is just a pure striker of the ball. He isn’t getting out in dumb ways any more and instead is extremely reliable. He susses up a pitch very quickly and to be frank is clearly the best player who has played a full season at domestic level this season.

Today with Joe Root being out then he could easily have slotted in at number three but the selectors and captain have decided to go with Moeen Ali instead. Ali is a good player and might well play well but at some point you have to see what you’ve got with Vince instead of just taking him around from ground to ground with no desire to play him. Of course Vince can open but England have clearly decided that Jason Roy and his top score of 39 in all international matches is the man for them. I mused on twitter that had Roy played for Hampshire and Vince for Surrey that Vince would have gotten his chance. T20 isn’t all crash, bang wallop, you need to have some basic technique too and I think Roy technically is not just a notch below Vince but a full level.

This is just the latest snub from England on Hampshire players. Michael Carberry played just one T20 international and six ODIs. He of course played six Test matches when he was in superb form in the warm-up games that he was only playing in because of injury concerns to other players and got the nod. He wasn’t great in the Ashes tests but he wasn’t completely out of his depth either and was arguably the best batsmen on that tour. England though went with the new golden boy Sam Robson for the next series and Carberry was discarded.

Danny Briggs had a few games but then got smashed around the Bellerive Oval on a road and England decided that was enough so brought in Stephen Parry for the T20 World Cup. The Lancashire spinner wouldn’t take a wicket. You don’t get dropped for one bad game, certainly when you are a spinner on the flattest and hardest of decks when you are asked to bowl in a Powerplay. Yet again though this backs up by PoV that England do not put Hampshire players in a position to succeed, in fact it is quite the opposite.

Hampshire have made in to Finals Day six years on the spin and in that period Hampshire have been represented England at T20 level on just eight occasions (seven for Briggs and one for Carberry). By then England had moved on from Dimitri Mascarenhas. James Vince has never played and nor has Chris Wood. There was even a year when Jimmy Adams was the top scorer in the T20 tournament but he was never given a shot by England.

The hate that England have for Hampshire players is pathetic and I just don’t know what more James Vince can do. He is clearly more than good enough to play but they keep deciding not to give him a go. I can only image just how frustrated Vince is, I am and I’m only a fan. Jason Roy scored 273 in ten innings for Surrey in the T20 Blast this season. James Vince scored 710 in 16. Vince’s season average is nearly double that of Roy but lets keep Jason Roy and his helicopter bat in the side because he plays for a big county in Surrey and therefore he must be good.

Give us a break.

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August 31st, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Other Sport

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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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