Nick Clegg has spoken today about how too much teacher time is taken up with box ticking and paperwork, which is pretty fair but he doesn’t speak about just what is wrong with our education system but also about the mindset of far too many people.
This is something that has been building inside of me for a long time and I have written about it several times in recent weeks and months. The crux of the issue is I disagree with what the primary function of schooling seems to be – exams. I would love to know a breakdown of parents thoughts as to whether they would prefer their child to be as best prepared academically for the world to give them the best career options or whether they would prefer their children to be as best prepared to make their own decisions and be the person they want to be.
This falls under the whole envelope I think about regarding the future of society and I could draw inspiration from many places. Last night I flicked over and saw a bit of a TV show called, ‘Secret Life of Living Dolls’ and it was about guys that like to dressing up as latex dolls. Not a fetish I’ve ever dabbled in I must admit but I can see the appeal. A group of them went out in public and got a pretty positive response until some douche started hassling them and screaming at them for doing it. Were they harming him? No. He just didn’t think that people should be allowed to express themselves in a way that he wasn’t comfortable with.
It didn’t shock me but that one person will have undoubtedly caused them more distress than all the positive the other people did. As a race we are generally accepting of those who are different and we are making strides towards making it even better. Homosexuality is now much more, I want to say mainstream but that isn’t the word, it is generally more accepted although some people still can’t do so, many of these people look at religion for a reason to treat these people differently. Religion is the biggest problem that the human race faces but that is a story for another day.
Going back to the education point. A few weeks ago I saw a piece on the BBC News where a failing school had been ‘turned around’ and the headmaster was telling the reporter how he’d done it. The kids are literally not allowed to talk at any time except in break and lunch times unless told it was acceptable by a teacher. Walking between classes had to be done in silence. He had the children line up in register order on three separate occasions during the school day in the main hall to take a register to ensure no-one was truanting. Of course this was in silence. Add to that incredibly strict uniform rules and people wonder why children do not feel free to express themselves.
I am sure Middle England loved it but I wanted to throttle the guy. He is doing so much damage to these young minds yet he is there patting himself on the back because exam results are up. The fact he has robotic children who I suspect are scared to find out who they are seemingly means very little to him.
The young mind is one of the greatest things about our formative years. We all have dreams and aspirations and good schooling can help that. I know what I wanted to be all the way through my younger years and I dabbled in it but here we are at 31 and that part of my life is seemingly in my rear view mirror. You grow up and you have other priorities. Yet I think every adult at some point comes to the realisation that all they truly want is to be happy. Oh happiness. There is a blog post all in itself. Money is great and having a good career is great but that alone won’t make most of us happy.
We all find happiness in different ways and what makes us happy as a teenager may well not make us happy in our 20s, 30s, 40s etc. We continue to grow and evolve as adults but for many of us that involves going back to our teenage years and remembering what our dreams were then and trying again as adults to achieve them. Last week Byron, a 27 year-old contestant in Masterchef Australia was eliminated but said that he now knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, he wanted a career in food because it made him happy. He hadn’t got involved in food after school for a variety of reasons but many of the contestants are like that. They chose a career path that they were expected to do or just fell into instead of going for what they truly wanted. This is a flaw in education and in society. We do what is expected of us instead of what we think will make us happiest.
I am all for being realistic but also I am slowly coming around to the fact that we are often better than what we think we are. We are amazing creatures who can adapt and grow in ways many of us never thought possible. Personally I have only taken one big career gamble in my life. One leap of faith that was not to do with happiness but in fact the total opposite. I was so unhappy and frustrated in what I was doing I had to break free and try something different, even if it didn’t work out. Luckily for me it did work out but it did feel like a huge risk at the time and it was done with my mental health squarely in mind.
This is what I want to see in our education system, people daring to be who they want to be. Being brought up in a very tolerant environment where people don’t judge you based on what sex you are, what sexual orientation you are, what colour you are, what clothes you wear, what make-up you wear, what style your hair is, what your teeth look like, what you do in your spare time, whatever. This all sounds very Utopian I know but unless we dare to dream and have the guts to act then we’ll never create the society that would be a truly wonderful place to live.
I want to see an education system where children have a plethora of opportunities and are able to explore them to the best degree possible instead of being taught a regimented syllabus that gives them the best academic possibilities as defined by the government of the time. Another thing I want to throw in here is the why schools deal with social studies. It is laughable. Social studies are marginalised for more academic lessons. I had five lessons of maths a week but in Year 10 & 11 I had no social studies lessons at all, at all. I’m not even sure I had any in Years 7 & 8 so it was only Year 9 where I had any social studies lessons at all and that was a joke.
Social studies is more important than algebra. It is more important than history, more important than geography, more important than science, more important than foreign languages and I could go on, I think you get my drift. Young people need to learn about the world and being part of a positive and welcoming society. This encompasses sex education as well. The hardest part of growing up is not learning academic things but learning about being part of society. These are the skills that many young people struggle with but we shun it as to give more time to academic pursuits.
Putting the social aspect firmly at the heart of education policy would be a giant step forward both for the children of today and for society as a whole. Teach young people about tolerance and about how our differences are only on the surface. Teach them about how to treat one another. Teach them that just because they dress or act a certain act then you shouldn’t treat them any differently. I know it sounds obvious to many of us but we are seeing a lurch away from tolerance and it scares the living bejesus out of me. This is coming mainly from the elder generation but it filters down.
We need a generation of people who feel free to express themselves without fear of persecution in any way shape or form. It isn’t going to be easy but until we understand the whole journey of life starts how we perceive ourselves and the world around us, allowing us the freedoms to live our lives how we see fit and how how society dictates that we should then we’ll always have a problem. I don’t mind taking small steps but we need to know what the end goal is and find the best way to get to that end goal. Ridding society of intolerance should be that end goal at it starts with our education system. Letting young people discover who they are and letting them express themselves is the starting point as the more different people we are exposed to at the young age then the more accepting we are.
We are all different and until we understand that and embrace that then we’ll never get to where we want to be. So it is time to be radical. Put forward a plan to let our young people grow and if they grow outside of the perceived norms that society expects then so be it. A diverse future will lead to a happier place and isn’t that what we all want at the end of the day – to just be happy?
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Folks. Sometimes I wonder why I am involved and interested in politics. My political views are well known and the term, ‘bleeding heart liberal’ has been thrown at me more than once. I looked up the definition of the term, ‘a person of left-wing or liberal views (i.e. of helping the poor, siding with the oppressed) who is deemed to be excessively soft-hearted’ and I don’t think it is really justified in my case. I am not excessively soft hearted, I like to think that I have a good heart and firmly believe that our place as human beings is based primarily on equality and not on where we are lucky enough to live, or the circumstances we find ourselves in.
The problem is that there is a stirring in the UK, a stirring against that very notion. UKIP’s strength is coming primarily from people who believe that they are more important than others. If they have a problem then they deserve help but if another person has the same problem then they don’t. That I struggle with so much. I’m not saying that at times I’m not a selfish individual because at times sure I am, but I don’t ever think that people should be treated differently because of any circumstances.
This brings me on to an article I read this evening in the Independent. The piece entitled Nigel Farage on HIV: Why the Ukip leader’s remarks may actively hinder treatment in the UK made me so sad. I mean genuinely sad.
Nearly 60 countries from around the globe deny entry to people with HIV or Hepatitis B according to the United Nations. These countries include the Bahamas, the Kingdom of Brunei, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sudan, the UAE and Yemen. All of them very liberal and forward thinking democracies. Well maybe not.
Nigel Farage thinks that Britain should only accept ‘quality people‘ and when pushed he responded, ‘people who do not have HIV to be frank. That’s a good start. And people with a skill.’ I mean c’mon folks. C’mon. I haven’t been exposed to HIV and as far as I know, no-one that I know has HIV so my knowledge of the condition isn’t great but I know enough to know that people with HIV can live for a significant amount of time and be extremely valuable members of society. HIV is a disease that can be spread but the UN say that restricting entry does nothing to protect the public health. The best way to deal with the disease is to better educate people.
I like to think I’m relatively educated. I’m not the smartest guy in the world but I’m also far from the least educated. Education is a vital issue that as a nation and as a race we need to embrace when it comes not only to HIV but also to the potential spread of all diseases. The more we know then the more we will know how to prevent the spread of diseases. The implementation of better sex education will do wonders compared to illiberal and draconian measures about banning people from entering the country if they have a disease.
This is something I’ve written about before. I was severely unprepared in my education with regards to sex. I mean the sex education I received was pathetic. It consisted of one day in Year 9, so I was what, 13? and if I’m being 100% honest with you, I wasn’t ready to learn. I thought the whole thing sounded disgusting and I had no interest in it. We all grow up at different rates and there will have been others in my year who surely felt the same. No doubt many of my fellow students were tremendously excited. Still I do remember most of what we were taught and I don’t think many people were adequately prepared by the sex education we received.
Now it is what, 18 odd years later and my knowledge is more rounded and I’m more prepared but that is due to my own personal education. It is clear to say that I’m not your typical person. I have not exactly been that sexually active in my life. I am sure there are others who, unlike me, may well have been extremely sexually active but be just as uneducated. This is a problem we have as a society and this I firmly believe has helped allow UKIP to form views like this and not see their whole façade shatter.
The thing is the Tories aren’t completely clean of this stain. In January, the following Conservative MPs, Stephen Phillips, Stephen Barclay, Tracey Crouch, Dominic Raab, Graham Brady, Charlotte Leslie, Mark Field, Nigel Mills, Jonathan Djanogly, Chris Kelly, Bob Blackman, Jonathan Lord, Craig Whittaker, Conor Burns, Karl McCartney and Sir Gerald Howarth added their names to an amendment that two Conservative MPs (who are doctors) in Dr. Philip Lee and Dr. Sarah Wollaston supported to do what Nigel Farage wants to do, to refuse entry to the UK of anyone who has HIV or Hep B. Do these people not understand that by doing so, it doesn’t protect the public or is it that they are pandering to those who are ready to be scared because they don’t know the facts?
I saw an interesting stat the other day, an Ipsos-Mori poll asked the public how big a percentage of the UK population was made up of non native people. The public said 31% whereas the actual number is 13%. When people don’t know the truth then they’ll form opinions based on incorrect information. This is the scariest part of politics and is the reason that UKIP are free to pretty much say whatever they want and are relatively teflon. People will easily believe something when it backs up their uninformed viewpoint. If you then attempt to bring facts to the case then they’ll tell you that facts can tell you anything. It shows that more people than ever before seem to be willing to close their minds and if that isn’t the scariest thing then I don’t know what is.
On the other side of the ledger it should be said that younger people are more open minded than they ever have been and that brings hope. They might not be voting Lib Dem for whatever reason but more than ever before would describe themselves as liberal. Young people are more accepting of people who are different. We are all unique and we should be free to express ourselves as such. Society though still dictates how many of us live our lives and we are afraid of ruining our reputations or careers because we may be different to other people. This is something our education system is woefully failing at, education isn’t about exam results but it is about preparing people for the world and letting people find who they are. This is key when it comes to sex education. Without good knowledge and an open mind then young people will think they are wrong or twisted or weird or depraved or immoral or whatever if they have urges that differentiate from the perceived ‘norm’. I speak with first hand knowledge on this matter.
In a way I feel as though I’m lucky that I didn’t let these feelings engulf me and make me feel worse than I initially did. I always had the thirst for knowledge and learned that things aren’t wrong or twisted or weird or depraved or immoral. They are just different. Nigel Farage, those Tories and a depressingly large number of the people in this country though are intolerant of those who are different. Banning those with HIV or Hep B from entering this country wouldn’t help solve the problem of the diseases spread but would further stigmatise those who have the disease.
What needs to be done is clear. It is so clear. People need to be better educated with facts instead of scare stories or school yard gossip. The better educated not only the youth of today, but all of us are, then the better we’ll understand what the problem is and how best to deal with it, instead of just pandering to an uneducated vocal majority who are scared because they don’t know the facts. As human beings the more scared we are then the more desperate and receptive we’ll be to solutions that don’t actually solve the problem, but sound like they will. This is a real problem that we need to understand and deal with. This is why UKIP are doing so well.
People are scared and in all honesty I don’t know why. If you are scared of what you don’t know then the best way to deal with that is to become more informed and not do what too many people are doing, putting their fears and worries on to a political party who inflates this fears and worries. Maybe that is just me but I don’t understand why people are willing to listen to rhetoric without knowing the facts. That isn’t using the brain that we are blessed to have to the best of its abilities. I don’t care if people have different opinions to me, that is life, but when they have such strong and radical opinions based on a severe lack or even no knowledge then that makes me sad. My opinions evolve as I gather more information on many, many things, as do everyone’s. Unless you allow yourself to gather more knowledge and information then your opinions will never change and that isn’t part of the human journey.
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Last night I was sitting in this very seat and I commented in an IM that I was really looking forward to stretching out in bed when Peyton Manning was finished doing his thing. Sometimes I really do look forward to bed, maybe much more so than I really should. This feeling is more prevalent in the autumn and the winter and last night was the first time that I was genuinely anticipating stretching out and lounging around in the warmth of my bed.
So I laid there and thought that I’d write a blog post on it but there was this nagging thought that I had already done so. A bit of research later and I found that I had a blog post about my bed drafted but never published. Sometimes my brain does work in weird ways, so I’ll use some of that post along with fresh material to flesh out my thoughts. What is in italics are what I wrote months ago in a draft of a similar blog post.
I wanted to pen something a little less serious. For a while I have laid in bed and thought about just how much I like my bed. It might be one of my favourite places. I often talk about how amazing my 15-tog duvet is (it is so seriously awesome, trust me) and how it is one of my favourite ever purchases (£19.99 from Bookers Cash & Carry in Aldershot).
I had no plans to buy it but I was idly wandering about whilst one of my housemates was looking for something and I came across it. The moment I put it on my bed I was far warmer. Good times. I didn’t get the full effect until I had moved out of that place and bought my own bed. My mattress is extremely comfortable. Couple that with the 15-tog beaut and I’m a happy chappie.
Ah yes, my winter duvet. This is still the best thing that I have ever purchased. I’m sure if I was to really think about it then I could say I had bought better and more important things but in terms of simple things that make me happy, this duvet really does stand alone. At the moment I still have my summer duvet on but we are getting close to the crossover point.
So anyway when that warmth envelopes me, I feel at ease. In the winter months I tend to spend a lot more time in bed. I will watch more TV from there and surf the internet from there. My sleep pattern is pretty haywire as well but I really get a great nights sleep from this bed.
I really do. I’m very lucky that I have employment where I can be more flexible than most in terms of times I work. For example this weekend I was working both on Friday and Sunday nights but that meant I was very much up to speed and therefore when I went to bed on Sunday night, I knew I didn’t have to get up early on Monday morning to do any work. I knew I could wake up and instead of rolling over and checking e-mails and work, I could just lay there and let myself drift in and out of sleep for a while. There are few things better than just doing that.
Just laying there drifting in and out of sleep. I did this the other day and had a lucid dream, my first for ages, I was in the dream and promptly stated, ‘what on Earth are you doing in my dream?’ and knew it was a dream but was in a place where I could just lay back and enjoy the show. It was so much fun but was a very strange one.
Now I know a lot of people when in bed enjoy the company of another, I have never slept well when sharing a bed. I like to spread out and use the whole bed, moving from one side to the other as I love the coldness of the sheet but the warmth of the duvet. I often wonder if I’m crazy but I’m writing a blog post about how I love my bed but don’t like to share it, I think that answers the question of whether I am crazy or not pretty well.
Ah yes. When planning this in my head last night I was trying to work out just how many nights I had not slept alone and I had a number in mind. Cue some thought later and I think I was pretty much bang on. I think this should indicate just how infrequent this situation has been that I could guesstimate the number and be pretty much spot on. How do people share beds and still get good nights sleep? Do you get used to it? It is a bit like how I just can’t sleep in a single bed any more, whenever I have to I just sleep terribly. I am used to spreading out and rolling over instead of turning over.
So there we have it. A totally pointless blog post. Well aren’t most of them in all honesty? I just thought it was time to appreciate my bed. I spend around a third of my life in it. Sometimes I think too much in it. Sometimes I’m too restless in it. I don’t do half the things that most people do in their own beds depressingly but I still love my bed. Sometimes just stretching out in it with the sound of the rain beating down outside knowing that I have nothing urgent to get up for so I can totally relax is just flat out awesome.
Thank you bed. I don’t appreciate you half as much as I should.
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Last night I was asked a question that I struggled to answer, the question was, ‘what are you passionate about?’ and beyond the obvious of certain sporting events/team on occasions then there was no default response. Even in that situations those moments are fleeting and few and far between these days. I get emotionally involved in some games on occasions but nowhere near the amount that I used to. I have become more placid as I’ve gained circumnavigations of the sun.
I would say I’ve become less emotional as well, which is interesting as the said person who posed this stumper informed me that I was too emotional, wonder what she would’ve thought after me years ago then? Although to be fair she also blames me personally for the fact communism doesn’t work around the world but we’ll ignore that for now and actually bury into the question at hand.
After some quick scrambling I spoke about some of my political passions. These are relatively simplistic. I believe that everyone should have the same opportunities in life, no matter their background. I am truly passionate about this. No-one knows who is going to be the scientist to makes the breakthrough on cancer, no-one knows who the scientist is whose going to make the breakthrough on HIV, no-one knows whose going to be the next great architect, no-one knows who could invent time travel, find a truly renewable energy resource etc. – some people are just talented but all talent needs to be nurtured and if those people turn out to be from backgrounds where it is hard to breakthrough, then we need to ensure that every person has the chance to grow up and be the person they want to be.
The other thing I pointed out was how we as a race treat people. We all know that there is a significant amount of people who treat others differently depending on certain circumstances, their gender, their age, their sexuality, their background, their creed and I could go on. That repulses me. When all is said and done we are all humans at the end of the day and when we come into this world, we are no better or worse than the next person.
Going on from that sometimes there are less obvious ways that we treat people differently. Those who have met me will know that I don’t own a coat. I’m 31 and I don’t own a coat. I wear a hoodie. Several years ago I went to look at this apartment I’m sitting in right now. The letting agent saw me hanging around outside and decided that I couldn’t be the person who he was there to meet so he hung around for a few minutes and no-one else came and he eventually came over to me and asked if I was Neil and I said yes.
He showed me around but was being pretty curt about it and then he told me that I’d have to pay six months rent up front, when I replied no problem, suddenly his whole demeanour changed completely. He understood I could actually afford this place despite dressing like a bum and everything changed. Would he have acted differently if I had turned up in a shirt and a tie? Polished shoes? I suspect he would have. I hate the idea of how we dress should equate to how people treat us. I know that is how society treats us and you have to play the game to some degree but I despise this so much. Guys get away with it more I know and women get judged to a ridiculous degree on what they are wearing or what they look like. The Daily Mail sidebar of shame anyone? why can’t we just get to a point where people can express their individuality without fearing how others will perceive them.
On that note I want to point out something that I noticed a while back. I was looking at my old school’s website for some reason and I saw how much more strict the uniform rules had become. Including a line on no unnatural hair colours or styles. I was apoplectic with rage. I wrote about it in this blog post entitled Why are schools trying to turn children into robots?. For those who don’t want to read it in full, I’ll paraphrase my own work. Basically no unnatural hair colours or styles, no hooded tops, heck no unnatural or crazy eyebrow styles are allowed. Are we for fucking real? I’m still mad about this what, nearly two years later.
I firmly believe that young people need to feel free to express themselves however they like. We shouldn’t stifle creativity. We all have personalities and we are all so very different. I grew my hair long as a teenager. Why? Well mostly it was laziness but also I wanted to try it to see if I liked it. I did and I didn’t. However I was free to do it. Would the school class long hair on a hair as unnatural? I don’t know but it annoys me just the notion that I couldn’t do it if I was a student there today. We need to let children be themselves and find themselves. Otherwise you’ll find a lot of young people reach their late teenage years and early 20s without knowing who they are. Life is hard enough without being unsure of who you are because you’ve been curbed in the past.
The thing is I am a good example of this. I have struggled for many years with finding out who I am. I have always had some interests and some tendencies but a couple of years ago I had an interesting experience, which I enjoyed, surprisingly, it really kinda caught me off guard. It opened up new potential horizons and my brain ran with it. Sadly for whatever reason they haven’t been explored again since. At this point mum I’d like to point out it was not a gay experience and I still don’t fancy men. I won’t go into detail into what it was because heck my mum is reading this but lets put it this way, it was surprising, it was very sexual and it wasn’t what I always thought about how vehement my sexual persuasions were, maybe I’m even more diverse than I previously thought and heck, I was always rather diverse in that department. Yes I think that’ll add spice to this blog post.
At this point I could start flowing into various things that I am passionate about on that front but I think I’ll refrain for obvious reasons. What I will say is society expects us to love in a certain way. Anyone who loves in a different way is shunned to some degree. People are afraid of what is different. I know of people who have a husband and a lover and all three parties know this and are happy, more than happy with this set up. I know of people who are madly in love yet one person is essentially kept as a slave. I know of people who are happy having lots and lots of anonymous sex in car parks. Whatever floats your boat people. Adults are adults and they have a free mind and a free will to live their lives as they please. Society shouldn’t dictate what is ‘normal’ and what is morally wrong or morally right when no-one is getting hurt and eyes are wide open.
And on that front, sluts. Why on earth does the vast majority of society treat men who sleep around differently than women who sleep around? It is such bollocks. If I had a lover who’d had one partner I wouldn’t care any differently to if they had enjoyed the pleasure of 50 or 100 men or women in their time. We have this unbelievable thing inside of our skulls called a brain and it gives us this free will. Happiness is so hard to find in this world, if we find it in a way that is different from the norm then so be it. Embrace it. Not everyone wants the white picket fence and 2.4 children.
So yeah this blog went in a vastly different way to how I perceived it when I started but thinking about what really gets my gander up, maybe more than I thought. I would love society to become more open and welcoming to those that are different. Slowly we are coming around to treating gay men and women better than we previously did. We are making good steps on that, certainly amongst the younger members of society. That is a step forward but what I’d love to see is young people being free to explore the world and their mind without fearing of disappointing others that they don’t get married and have kids or whatever. I know I’ve often worried deeply about disappointing my mum and she always says that she just wants her kids to be happy. The problem was always I never knew what would make me happy. Maybe I still don’t but recently my brain has been expanded beyond its former limits and I see things that I couldn’t see before.
So people of the world. Happiness comes from within. If you find happiness but you worry about how society may treat you then we have to change the preconceived notions on happiness. This is something I am fucking passionate about and politically speaking Lib Dems – read this and remember what we actually stand for. We want a society where everyone is free to grow up and be who they want to be. Life is all about having options and it is one hell of a fucking journey, the more options we have then the more likely it is we’ll find that happiness that most of us yearn for at some point, the problem is a lot of people (including me) don’t know what will make them happy.
So open up your hearts and explore. Explore the world, explore your mind, explore your options and once you do that you may find that what you thought you always wanted isn’t what you want at all. The problem is many of us are scared to do such a thing as we are afraid of what other people will think. We shouldn’t care what others think and that is why we have to change society to not judge people in any way for how they dress, who they love, how they choose to live their lives etc.
So yeah, maybe I am passionate about one or two things…who knew?
I want to start with an overview of doing voluntary work. When you give up your time for free to give something back, you do so because you enjoy it and not because you endure it. Once you come away from it less happy than you were going in then it is time to stop. In general I’ve found voluntary work to follow a certain pattern. You start and you enjoy it, then you enjoy it a little bit less but still enjoy it, then you do it because it is what you do, then you do it out of obligation and then you the negatives start outweighing the positives and it is time to walk away. That is pretty much what happened here.
For seven odd years I thoroughly enjoyed it but the last year less so and certainly the past few months. Most people that knew me away from the station were really hoping I’d walk away as it sooner than I did. They knew how much it was agitating me. As someone else at the station said (whom I didn’t share a night with) said to me ‘there is just too much politics’ and that I think it probably quite a fair statement. Heck I’m involved in politics and if you’d have asked me whether local politics or the Hospital Radio station was more political, I wouldn’t be able to answer straight away, it would require some thought.
I was involved in two separate shows and I will talk about them in isolation because I could do one without the other.
For eight years I had been involved in the request show on a Wednesday night. People have come and people have gone. The show has gone on and will continue to do so without me. For many years I was trusted to do the show but in recent months it was clear that for whatever reason, that trust had evaporated. I was never told why this trust had gone but I have my suspicions. It could of course be that the board had decided to adopt Fox Mulder’s policy of ‘Trust No-one’ because the rumblings from other nights and from other people was that the board didn’t trust anyone who wasn’t them.
It came to a head for me personally when one week a board member was sent in to spy on me under the pretense that we needed extra people to do the show as we had a grand total of one person away. So that meant we still had five people, which is way more than enough to do the request collecting and present the show. How do I know that she was sent to spy on me? Well lets put it this way, she won’t be working for the secret service anytime soon. I won’t go into detail but I will say this, it wasn’t just me that thought it, every single person thought it and thought it straight away.
There is some added background I should probably throw in at this point. Certain people have long perceived me to have an ego that needed to be curbed. Whether or not I have an ego is up for debate and I won’t sit here and type that I didn’t think I was pretty darn good at what I did – both on the wards and in terms of presenting – but when new members are introduced to me with the words, ‘this is Neil, he thinks its his show but its not’ then I personally think that lacks class somewhat and is actually off.
I haven’t applied to do any other radio work. I never asked to do my own show. Even when I joined the football team I did so because I was asked and not because I asked. Many people come into that radio station with ambitions to go further in radio and actively use it to just further their radio journey before dropping it the moment they’ve got what they wanted, yet folks it is me, the loyal guy who hasn’t used the station who has the ego problem that is damaging everyone else. With me out of the way everyone will be happy and blossom. I was the problem. Yeah…
Here is a good example of the type of thing that was being introduced that I found annoying. Obviously when presenting a radio show as part of a team, only one person can drive the show at any one point. That just comes with the territory of presenting on radio. So you have to rotate amongst the people that want to do it. However too much rotation within a show leads to a disconcerting experience for the listener. I have heard shows with three or four main presenters within a two hour block and frankly they are terrible.
Anyway recently there were just two people who wanted to drive the show so we did the whole show each on alternate weeks. We both preferred that to doing one hour each every week. However the board decided that wasn’t good enough and that every week we had to rotate amongst everyone who wanted to drive a show. So if for example there are six people who want to drive a show then they have to get 20 minutes each. That is to be frank madness and doesn’t think about the listener experience but whatever. In terms of the night I did, we had to change the way we did things despite everyone being happy with how we did it because someone on the board disagreed. Does that really make much sense?
So I was always going to take the World Cup off as a) I wanted to watch as much of it as possible and b) I actually had quite a bit of work to do on unsurprisingly giving what I actually do for a living. I also thought this would give plenty of time for others to present without my evil spectre hovering over them and curbing them. When asked why I wasn’t there the next week, a board member said that I had ‘gone off in a huff’ – all class folks. All class. I had decided not to return during this hiatus but came in for one week as the others who could present were both away, I came back but got told so many new rules and all the things I now wasn’t allowed to do because I was too dominating and I knew I was done.
That is why my request show team days were done but of course I still did the football, well I thought I did. I’ll start from the very beginning. Three years ago I was asked to become the third man in a two man booth to cover for one of the two main guys if they were away, one of these two was retiring and moving away so I would do my time and become his replacement. Excellent news.
For three years that was the case up until this summer. Over the course of these three years I had done more and more games but only strictly as the summeriser. That is key here folks and I’ll tell you why. At the AGM this year it was brought up that they really needed someone to train up to commentate if both of the two main guys were unavailable. Someone actually brought me up and asked about me as surely I was involved and it drew a rather interesting response. Apparently I was only a summeriser, I was not as good as I thought I was, I had too big of an ego, I didn’t understand how much work was involved in commentating and to be blunt – I just wasn’t the person they wanted. The fun bit was I was actually in the room and heard all of this. A nice personal attack at the AGM and did anyone step up and say that wasn’t on? No they didn’t. Afterwards several people came up to me and asked what that was all about and I said I didn’t know but it just reinforced the notion that I believed I just wasn’t liked and it was thought life would be better if I just disappeared.
For three years I was told I would be the next commentator and I was ready to undergo whatever training was needed. Everyone knew this and I was told I’d get the appropriate training this summer. Instead of this however the station advertised for new commentators, interviewed a couple of people and I believe have brought at least one of them on board and maybe even both. With the current set up of two commentators and bringing in at least one new person, you don’t need four people as it is extremely rare both main guys will be unavailable. So the new person is now obviously the cover guy and I’ve been relegated to ‘use only in desperation’ or ‘do not use at all’ – I haven’t been told which.
Now here’s something else. I was already down to cover the opening game of the season as one of the two guys was unavailable. A few days before I was told that they had hired a new person and he’d also be doing that game. The thing is we only have two press passes. Three into two doesn’t go. I read this and knew that even if I went to the game, I wouldn’t get in as you aren’t going to bring in a new person for their first game and say he can’t come in, so I just said if I needed to step down then that is fine and that was greatly received.
I said nothing on it because of the Southend v Portsmouth match on September 13. I had already been told that I was covering this game so I knew that if I was completely out of the radio that I’d hear nothing and not get to cover this game. I heard nothing and can now assume that I’ve been cut adrift completely. It is annoying as I had two friends wedding that day and I had said I couldn’t go to the reception because I already had plans.
Personally I think certainly on this front I’ve been treated pretty shabbily. I’m sure others will disagree and say I’m at fault or maybe that I was just never good enough but three years ago I was brought in to replace a guy as he was leaving. Three years later I’ve been culled before he’s left and before I was ever given the opportunity to step up to commentate. To be cut without ever actually being given the opportunity sucks but what can you do?
So I walk away with a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth I must admit. I’ve not even written half of the things that I could. I hope that my departure means that everything is now amazing and my perceived reign of terror is over. Everyone will come out of their shells and blossom into the radio presenters they were meant to be if I wasn’t stunting their growth and dominating the situation. In case you can’t tell I’m being sarcastic.
Yet at some point you just realise that you just aren’t wanted anymore and when that happens it is best to just walk away. That is the same in many forms of life. There is no point trying to save something that is beyond saving and if you aren’t wanted you aren’t wanted. What can you do? I’m sure the station will carry on perfectly well without me and probably most think it’ll be a darn site better too.
fan (noun) — an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, pastime, celebrity, etc. (origin: 1885-90, Americanism; short for fanatic or, some say, fancy)
fanatic (noun) — a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics. (origin: 1515-25, “insane person” from L. fanaticus, “mad, enthusiastic, inspired by god”, originally pertaining to a temple, from L. fanum.
Some say that the term fan may have devolved from the word ‘fancy’ but the general wisdom seems to suggest that it comes from the word fanatic. Why am I writing about this today? Well as most people who have known me in real life will know, sports has been a rather large part of my life for an awfully long time. I will call off social events and activities if I want to see a sporting event on the tellybox. I was once a Sports Editor. I have commentated, no wait, summerised only, on live football games for radio and I may or may not have yelled an insane amount of swear words when following various sporting events and seen my mood adjust to quite concerning degrees based on what is going on.
I would argue that over the years I have mellowed. I can sit and watch a game and not get so emotionally invested. Pompey were on the tellybox the other day and I sat and watched it in a rather monotone way. We weren’t very good and I just shrugged and moved on with my day. Maybe I had actually got past the point where sport could get to me. Maybe I had grown up. Maybe it was time for me to emerge from the sporting cocoon that I have enveloped myself in and maybe just into things that were more high brow, take in some culture, get interested in the arts.
Then Saturday night happened.
When you are up until nigh on 5AM watching a College Football game with your blood pumping, engaged swearing, too much sweat that is good for a single man in the early hours of the morning when fully clothed, then maybe the link between fan and fanatic isn’t too far-fetched.
So yes. On Saturday my day was pretty much built around watching Arsenal v Manchester City and then Rutgers v Penn State. One kicked off at 12:45PM and the other 01:12 AM. So they bookended my day. I watched the football match and enjoyed it. I did have another game I was meant to be seeing but as they say, things change, I will have plenty to say on that matter in due course (and I know you are reading this waiting for what I have to say – I can see you). By 11ish I was pretty tired but I persevered, I had a shall we call it, rather tepid shower to revitalise me and I put on the Big Ten Network to settle down to watch the game.
Now it was in the early hours and I wasn’t alone in watching this game. Whilst physically alone I had twitter open, I had Black Shoe Diaries game threads open and I had a skype conversation open with someone who was also watching the game (although not a fan of PSU – he still watched as I was and he stuck with it as it was the most compelling game of the night) and I’d like to show off my witty repartee and the type of language that was flowing out of my fingers as the game unfolded. I am not proud.
Quotes are me if no initials, NM is also me, NH is the person on the other end of the skype conversation window.
It started off with general game conversation. Our O-Line may have slightly false started…
NH: how many would you estimate moved early there…
NM: more than the amount of women who’ve turned me down…
then I got annoyed with the WildLion formation…
fuck that WildLion
Then I saw a safety blitz that the QB didn’t see…
OH COME ON
I CAN SEE THEY ARE COMING
Then I revealed a shocking truth…
NM: oh fuck this
NH: just awful
NM: you know I turned down a date tonight for this?
NH: good grief
NH: i hope you thought up a better reason than i want to watch penn st…
NM: I just said I was busy.
Then a Rutgers player got a first down when he really should’ve been tackled short of the line to gain on a big 3rd and long. Not sure I took it too well…
DONT LET HIM GET THE FUCKING 1ST DOWN
Then it was half time and we discussed Lily Adams from the AT&T commercials and how she was an actress and not a real AT&T employee. I fancy her. Anyway on to the second half…
if this flag is against us…
throw him out for being a prick
yep – no doubt I’ll sleep maybe 45-60 mins after this game ends
I’ll be wound up
Then we did something good. An interception…
NH: we were saying…
NM: FUCK YOU BUTTGERS
Either I was writing in prose an orgasm or Penn State did something good here…
Then we didn’t do so good…
oh come on
busted play again
too many of them today
didn’t need to hold either
what the hell was that?
Then we scored a TD to win it but it was called back because of a penalty but we would score another TD and it would hold up. This is the conversation. I was rational for brief moments…
NH: wow oh wow…
NH: too quick!
NM: FUCK YOU UMPS
NM: FUCK YOU
NM: its a hold
NH: pretty clear
NM: COME ON
NM: ITS CAPS ALL THE WAY
NM: NO FLAGS
NH: go for 2?
NM: LOL BUTTGERS
NM: get the 1 so a FG only ties, if they miss the 2 a FG would win it
Then we stopped Rutgers and won the game…
NH: who says it wasnt worth staying up for?
NH: that will make getting to sleep a touch easier!
NM: I’m too pumped
So maybe on occasions I can still see the link between the words fan and fanatic.
One of the biggest issues for personally is many of the events I get so pumped for are on US time and therefore are in the early hours. When a game finishes like that, that I am so emotionally invested in then I can’t just go to bed and go to sleep. So I have to unwind and that takes time and I can easily see the sun rise in the morning before falling asleep. I am so lucky I have employment that grants me some flexibility and I can work late at night and don’t have to work office hours every day.
I don’t know the reason for this blog post but I thought it was interesting that despite my education, my journalism background, my thoughts that I am smart and linguistic, at times just shouting and swearing is all that can come out of my mouth/fingers. Sport still has that effect…at times.
I don’t think I’ve written about any dates that I’ve had since around this time last year I still don’t get why there was no second date but still… this isn’t because I’ve been all coy with my dating blogging but more to do with not having any dates but as the title of this blog indicates, it is time to put that right. Around a month ago it was all go in my private life including a situation where I had two dates in two nights. Talk about excitement!
So anyway on with the show and the tale of a heady couple of weeks of late July and early August 2014. Lets look at this chronologically…
First date was with someone we’ll call Woman A. We had a coffee date. Now being the type of guy I am, I had done my research on her and knew that she was using rather old pictures on her dating profile, so that wasn’t a surprise. We got on ok but if I’m being honest conversation was a bit stilted and it was one of those situations where if we saw each other again I was open to that and if we didn’t I wouldn’t be overly concerned.
Yet we did have a second date and it was pretty similar to the first. I was sitting there thinking ‘do I fancy her or not?’ and after date two nothing more occurred and I wasn’t too fussed. Nice girl but when conversation really struggles then you know it probably wasn’t going to go anywhere, still the day after the second date I had a first date with someone else so time to focus on that one.
This one was an interesting one as I went into it firmly believing that is was a one date only job and I’d never see her again. Now this doesn’t sound like a great attitude to have going into a date I know but like the previous person, I had done my research and this one had a dating blog where she wrote about her dates and I had read the whole thing before we’d met. So I knew what her type was and I knew I wasn’t it. So whilst I’m not going to say I was just going through the motions, I went into the date not thinking it was going to go anywhere and if I’m being honest I wasn’t even sure we’d get along that well.
So anyway we meet and first things first – lets get it out of the way – she was stunning. Whilst I wouldn’t say out of my league physically…no I can’t finish that sentence. So anyway we get along surprisingly well and conversation flows and there is no awkwardness. This is a rarity in my dating world! We are the last people there and we head off, she even offers to give me a lift home, which I didn’t see coming but it can’t be a bad thing, if she disliked me she wouldn’t be offering me a lift home surely?
She drops me off and at this point I think it is fair to say I am a wee bit interested and actively want a second date, I also think I’m getting on. So I ask her and she says and I quote, ‘Sure’ now that seems fine but the way she said it and the way she contorted her face as she said it was the first time since the date started that I thought to myself that I wasn’t getting a second date. So I followed up asking her when she was free for a second date a couple of days later and heard nothing. Six days later and my phone dinged and she had been busy and was going in holiday in a few weeks time and didn’t see that she had any time to meet again. It was a pretty clear brush off. I won’t lie I was pretty bummed for a few days as I genuinely thought we’d had a fantastic date and had gotten on extremely well but what can I say, I got it quite spectacularly wrong. It isn’t the first time when it comes to my dates that I can admit to having done so!
Now folks remember this young lady has a dating blog, so I was awaiting her review of her date but it never got written up. Either it was so boring it wasn’t worth it or I repulsed her that much. Could be either. She has reviewed a couple of dates since and her latest takes the biscuit, he drove her home drunk and yet despite this she wanted to see him again. I’m worse than a drunk driver folks. I would say this is a low ebb for me but I think we all know it isn’t.
‘But Neil, that is two girls and three dates, the blog post indicated there was another girl’ I hear you cry. Well yes folks there was. This was the person with whom I just got on with terrifically online. Messages were long and meaningful and most important interesting and thought-provoking. As anyone who has ever engaged with online dating knows, some messages are just so bleh and boring and you feel like you don’t get anywhere in the conversation, with this person it was different.
We’d probably been exchanging messages for four to six weeks before she wanted to meet, so we arranged to meet and were sorting out our calendars before she just suddenly stopped talking to me. Literally just stopped. At first I wondered if it was something I said so I left it a few days before following up but again no response. She was still very active on the site and was changing her photos etc. so she was still about but had just decided for whatever reason that I was not someone she wanted to know. No ‘I’ve changed my mind’ just a decision to flat out ignore me. That happens when it comes to online dating, I know that, but rarely at this point. Didn’t make much sense.
So here we are. That was all within a two week period. Since then everything has gone pretty deathly quiet and with the return of the football season, the NFL season and the NCAA season, I suspect that my weekends will once be filled with sporting engagements on my tellybox and even attempting to date will as per usual take a back seat. It is the same every year. I do actually try in the summer but I don’t get anywhere and I then decide the hassle and the disappointment isn’t worth it. You can tell the time of the year by whether I am positive, negative or just not bothering with online dating, I’m as reliable as the sun and the moon.
To sum up, the first person I wasn’t too fussed about, we got on but there was nothing there really. The second girl was a surprise that we seemed to get on so well considering in her own words that she is attracted to bad boys but we didn’t get on as well as I thought, damnit. As for the girl who wanted to date and I got on brilliantly with who then just decided to stop talking to me altogether, just what the fuck?
And people wonder why I get despondent and remember why I don’t mind the single life. Oh well, who knows what is around the corner…?
The NFL season got underway the other night and tonight we are back with our usual Sunday night doubleheader. On Thursday Sky Sports showed us some of their plans for the 2014 season, the 20th that they have been coverage the league and I must say I’m quietly impressed with what they are doing. Here is an overview.
Firstly they are making their analysts more permanent. In recent years it has been Nick Halling and latterly Neil Reynolds being joined by a seemingly random cast of others. This year it will be Shaun Gayle joining the team until Thanksgiving whereupon he’ll be aside for Jeff Reinebold to take us the rest of the way.
Personally I like this set up as it gives the team more of a chance to gel and I wasn’t overly keen on the show being used as a tryout for former NFL players who wanted to get involved in broadcasting, Rocky Boiman (who sounds like Lisa’s character in The Simpsons when she was pretending to be a boy to do Maths at the boys half of Springfield Elementary) aside, I have not been impressed by any of these people and any set up that gives us more Jeff Reinebold is one that I can fully endorse. I think Jeff is by far and away the best analyst we’ve had on Sky Sports NFL coverage in the decade plus that I have been watching. He has a relaxed style but also has the technical nous to take us through the x’s and o’s so I’m happy.
Of course then there is big Cecil Martin. I know many of the more knowledgeable fans get annoyed by his antics but I like it. He’ll be around for the Wembley games this year so he is still involved. A Gayle-Reinebold-Martin monopoly in the analysts chair is a ok by me. I don’t know if they’ll be extra guest analysts but between those three they have a good solid team.
Neil Reynolds received a tonne of stick when I wrote the blog post about Nick Halling leaving the NFL team for the Boxing gig three years ago. The comments do not read well for Neil but my namesake isn’t half as bad as some of those comments say. Reynolds is a more than solid guy and if we all put up with Kevin Cadle’s presenting style then we can put up with Neil Reynolds.
The Red Zone is back on Sunday’s and they’ll show more highlights on the main channel as well as live look ins. For the Thursday night game, Sky will also show the CBS pre-game show, which will be something different. Like other Sky shows, they’ve also been given a ‘SkyPad’ aka a rather large touchscreen where Reynolds and the analyst can go through tactics and the like. Again Sky showing some decent investment in the NFL.
I don’t think the NFL brings too many subscriptions to the company but I do think it is a relatively inexpensive and popular filler for Sky. If the NFL does expand to London in terms of a full-time franchise based in the capital then it will be a very significant sport for TV companies over here. I think Sky do a very good job in terms of most sports and I think they treat NFL with more seriousness the more they cover the sport.
When you throw in what Channel 4 do with the Sunday Night Game then fans of the NFL in this country get a pretty good deal. Eurosport will show the Monday Night game against this year and that is a strange one for me but heck, it is live on TV. I think if my memory serves me right this is the last year of Sky’s three-year deal they signed in 2012 and that means the rights will be up over the summer and I have zero doubt BT Sport will make a play for them. As I said earlier, it isn’t a sport that brings in a tonne of subs but it will be a very nice addition to BT’s portfolio should they steal it and I suspect a key thing to keep for Sky Sports.
Personally I hope Sky’s long partnership with the NFL continues beyond this season but I think it is very much up for grabs. Sky are showing commitment to the sport with their coverage and I expect another good year this year both on the field of play and in the TV studio.
Lastly you can tweet the team here:
Kevin Cadle – @kevincadle
Neil Reynolds – – @neilreynoldsnfl
Shaun Gayle – @85worldchamps
Cecil Martin – @cecilmartin1
Jeff Reinebold – @jeff_reinebold
Sky Sports NFL Account – @skysportsnfl
I’m sure many people have read the story about mentally disabled half brothers Henry McCollum, 50, and Leon Brown, 46, who were convicted in 1984 of raping and killing an 11-year-old girl in North Carolina. That girl, 11 year-old Sabrina Buie, had been raped and suffocated with her underwear crammed down her throat, her body left in a soybean field. One of them was on death row for the crime and the other was sentenced to life imprisonment. The crime is certainly one that many people would feel passionately should deserve the ultimate punishment but there is one big issue…these two men were completely innocent.
Yesterday a judge ordered that they be released after spending three decades in jail. DNA evidence from the crime had been tested and it ruled out both men and implicated another man who is currently in prison for another crime. That man lived only a block away from where the body was found and was arrested and convicted of a very similar crime weeks after the body for this crime was discovered, however the prosecutor never even looked at him believing that he had the right people and that was that.
The lead prosecutor still believed up to a week ago that the right people were convicted, you have to worry that people like Joe Freeman Britt are allowed in positions of power. He was a bible quoting DA who sought the death penalty more than any other DA in his era, I know I struggle to believe that a Christian could be so tied to the death penalty but there you go.
One of the two men, Mr McCollom confessed to the crime following a marathon interrogation where they weren’t allowed to see their family or a lawyer. They initially came under suspicion because they were new to the small town and people saw them as outsiders. Long story short, there was no evidence against these two young men and yet one of them has spent thirty years on Death Row and to most people he should’ve been executed a long time ago. Those people no doubt would feel very little remorse today.
People will tell me that one wrong conviction shouldn’t mean anything and that mistakes happen. Mistakes do happen but if the state put to death an innocent person then that is just not on. Just because it is someone that you don’t know doesn’t mean you should feel any differently about it. If it was someone you knew that had been falsely convicted of a crime based on shaky (at best) evidence but the raw emotion had led to a jury filing a guilty verdict and a judge because of the emotion of the case imposing a death penalty then how would you feel?
The death penalty is something that I cannot stomach because of cases like these. When people say to me that it should only be used for people who are ‘guilty guilty’ and do ‘horrific crimes’ then I try and point out that we only have two verdicts in the UK, ‘Guilty’ and ‘Not Guilty’, there is no ‘Guilty Guilty’ verdict for people that are just clearly guilty of a crime. Also the people that make up a jury are human beings, they can be influenced my emotion.
I have been on a jury and have seen such a thing where people wanted to convict solely based on the crime they were accused of and not on the evidence presented. The jury system is the best we have but it isn’t perfect and in the US of A the jury can impose the death penalty in certain states and situations.
State sanctioned murder is not for me. Not for people who have committed horrific crimes and nor for those who actually hadn’t done so. Making mistakes happens to us all and sending innocent people to prison happens but they can get released and still live their lives. If they are put to death and then found they are innocent then there is no recourse.
Bringing back the Death Penalty in the UK would lead to nasty people being killed by the state but it would also no doubt lead to innocent people being put to death as well and I’d like to know what ratio of nasty people to innocent people being put to death would be acceptable to people who back the death penalty because to me, even one innocent person being slain is one too many.
Sometimes folks I get frustrated. No not at my pathetic lack of a private life but more at how some people can read what I write here yet not understand a word that I have written. In the past week I have written extensively about Labour’s decision to select Cllr. Ware-Lane as their PPC for Southend West. In isolation it was the obvious choice but in terms of delivering a Labour MP for one of the two Southend seats then it was not so much of a good move. I explained my reasoning in a simple and logical way. However unsurprisingly said councillor missed the point entirely, which isn’t the biggest shock in the world considering but still.
He writes in his blog post, whose title is taken from a Dale Winton Lottery Programme, In it to win it
I am not sure quite what Neil’s campaigning credentials are although I do know he stood in Westborough ward in 2012. He came sixth place in a ward that at the time had Lib Dem representation; sixth out of six, with a 90 votes and 5.4% of the votes cast. I will leave it to the reader to pass judgement on this but if the strategy was to do as badly as possible then Neil’s campaign was a roaring success.
So he’s not quite sure what my credentials are but he does throw out my Westborough result in 2012 to pass judgement on my credentials. I would expect nothing less from said councillor. I got smashed in 2012 but also I didn’t run my campaign. Also my dad died during that election process so I had no time to actually campaign. I’m sure even Cllr. Ware-Lane would concede that my dad having a major stroke, being on life support and subsequently dying is a fairly good reason for not being busy campaigning but you never know.
My credentials are simple. I work in my day to day life in analytics. I analyse data, a lot of data, for a rather big company. I suspect said councillor is not a fan of sabermetrics, heck I wouldn’t be surprised if he had never even heard of the term. There is a reason Nate Silver correctly predicted all 50 American States in the 2012 US Presidential Election and it isn’t because he is a soothsayer. It is because he analysed numbers and analysed them well. The more data you have them the better your accuracy of predicting a result can be. This data isn’t just about canvass data but looking deeper. It is what I do to earn a living and I like to think I’m at least semi decent at it so my credentials in analytics and therefore reading data aren’t too shabby.
Politics isn’t just about banging on doors and writing leaflets these days (and it should be said to my lot that this is something to learn as well) but the world of politics has moved on. An energetic campaigner can bang on say 200 doors in a canvass session but may only find 50 doors that open for them. People want their information as and when it suits them. Advanced sabermetrics, demographics, social media etc. are all vital tools in analysing a candidates chances of winning an election.
The rest of his blog is a meandering prose of limited facts and more dye in the wool hope. The fact is even in Tony Blair’s surge in 1997, when Labour were sweeping all before them and the Tories were as popular as I am…well anywhere, Labour still fell 8,000 odd votes short. If Labour can’t get remotely close when the Tories were embarrassingly unpopular and Labour were the great hope and riding as high as Ricky Williams did whilst on his year out of the NFL in India, then why would anyone with any semblance of nous believe that Labour can win this seat in 2015?
Another part I want to opine on:
The Nick Clegg bounce significantly boosted the Lib Dem vote; this time around it will be what is known as a dead cat bounce – voters are deserting a party that has kept Cameron at number ten and enabled him to foist all sorts of unpopular legislation on the UK.
The Clegg bounce. Yes it was very significant and very much helped the Lib Dems in Southend West. However the degree of the national Lib Dem bounce wasn’t as much down to Nick Clegg as I think Cllr. Ware-Lane believes. Again I have number crunched and I know more than I suspect he does. Will the Lib Dem vote go down in 2015? I fully expect so. However the last time the Lib Dems (or Lib Dems in previous guises) failed to reach the 9,000 vote mark in the constituency was 1970. What does that tell us?
Well it tells us that a significant number of people in the constituency are inherently liberal. The fact is that the Tories have only once come remotely close to losing the seat (in 1997) and that was to the Lib Dems. In fact had the national Tony Blair bounce not been a factor then it is eminently possible that Nina Stimson would have won in 1997. What would have happened had we seen that result we’ll never know but it does show that Labour do not poll well in Southend West and the reason isn’t because of poor PPCs or councillors or anything like that it is because the demographics aren’t right for them to succeed.
Southend West is generally relatively affluent, certainly when you compare it to Rochford & Southend East. Like most seats there are wards and polling districts that look good for Labour but in general the people in the ward would lean towards voting for the party they trust most on the economy. The Conservative party always poll higher in economy trust compared to Labour.
However this is what I want to write about – Cllr. Ware-Lane’s belief that lots of unpopular legislation has been foisted on the UK. Whilst it may be true that a lot of people are unhappy with the ‘Bedroom Tax’ as the Labour Party and media have dubbed it, more people in Southend West will be effected by the rise in the income tax threshold and the Pupil Premium and the free school meals for under 7s than will be effected by benefit changes. The fact that a million public sector jobs have gone is an issue but not a big issue in Southend West, the fact over 1.5million private sector jobs have been created is just as big a factor. That isn’t spin, it is just demographic fact. If the economy is on the up then Southend West constituents will vote Conservative or Lib Dem and even when it wasn’t – they still voted Conservative or Lib Dem.
Just because one person believes something is unpopular then it doesn’t automatically equate to others believing the same thing. If you put me in a room of fifty blondes and they all turned me down then it wouldn’t necessarily mean the same would happen in a room with fifty brunettes or redheads, oh wait, maybe that is a bad example but you get my point. People come from different backgrounds and have different thoughts as to what is important to them.
He says that voters are deserting the Lib Dems, I would say deserting is a strong adjective in Southend West but a significant proportion are indeed leaving but they aren’t all flocking en masse to Labour. They are going back to the Tories or they are staying at home. Labour will not sweep up 2010 Lib Dem votes in Southend West to any significant degree. In fact I would suggest that more people who voted Lib Dem in 2010 but won’t in 2015 will vote Conservative than vote Labour. So a collapse of the Lib Dem vote actually doesn’t help Labour one jot in their goal is indeed to unseat David Amess.
Next his opening paragraph:
My selection as Labour’s General Election candidate in Southend West has inspired the Liberal Democrat’s sole surviving blogger in the borough to write not one, but two, pieces about it. You can almost sense the rising panic at Southend’s equivalent of Lib Dem Central, so much so that they want to me to give in just as I am getting going.
It is nice that he considers me a Lib Dem blogger now as he questioned whether I should be classed as such when I pointed out to them that my blog is actually far more well read than his, ‘Maybe, although if it is yours that out-performs mine I could question whether yours is really a political blog, or a blog that occasionally has political bits in it, he typed. Not that he has a big ego or anything but when I said there was a blog more well read than his in the local blogosphere them boom, he tried to find a way around it. Genuinely amusing.
However it is the panic rising at Southend’s equivalent of Lib Dem Central bit that is truly misplaced. I blog purely in a personal capacity here. I always have done and always will do. I have blogged openly and critically of the Lib Dem party both locally and nationally should I feel it was warranted. I can detach myself from typing with a Lib Dem hat on. I have heard absolutely nothing from Lib Dem Central as to their reaction to Cllr. Ware-Lane’s selection as the Labour PPC, so as for how anyone can sense rising panic is beyond me.
My blog posts were purely looking at things objectively. If Labour do intend to run two significant campaigns across both constituencies instead of prioritising the one that they are more likely to win then it is just poor strategy. Plain and simple. In a Utopian world then every voter gets the full attention from every party at every turn but this is the real world and that just isn’t possible.
I am in the contest to win it. Southend West Labour Party members deserve a candidate who tries his best, Labour supporters deserve a candidate who tries his best, the electorate in Southend West deserve a candidate who tries his best. David Amess deserves an opponent who will take the fight to him. That a Liberal Democrat views this as bad news merely serves as an additional incentive.
One day Julian will learn to comprehend basic English, sadly this is not that day. I said that it is bad news for the Labour party in their hopes to get an elected member of the House of Commons in 2015, I never said nor implied it was bad news for the Lib Dems. If Cllr. Gilbert won in Rochford & Southend East, it would give Labour a foothold in SE Essex, it would also bring more money from Labour HQ, also they would be able to afford full-time or part-time people on the payroll to help spread the Labour word. Getting an MP in an area which isn’t natural home to a party is key because local activists can rally around that seat and numbers can swell if the MP is doing a good job. It is like a snowball, you have to start the snowball rolling to see speedy progress and to get the snowball rolling you have to win, so when you have a chance to win you go all out for it as the long-term benefits will be far greater.
If Labour want to help ensure the Tories win both seats in 2015 then keep doing what they are doing. Labour have a chance (albeit not a big one but significant enough) to stop the Conservative monopoly in Southend in terms of parliamentary seats, it is a shame for those non-Tories out there that they are doing their best job to pass on this rare opportunity. The Perfect Storm is brewing for Labour in Southend and instead of planning for it, they are busy shooting themselves in the foot to make the task much harder for themselves than they need to.
You know what, I’m going to miss this when I’m gone. I hope my next home will be as interesting politically speaking. Considering I have an inkling of where this may well be, it might even be more exciting!