The Rambles of Neil Monnery

Another pointless voice in the vast ocean that is the interweb

Fan is short for fanatic – we should remember that

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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…

NO
NO
NO
NO
NO
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…
good
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
FOR
FUCKS
SAKE

Then we did something good. An interception…

NM: HURRAY
NH: we were saying…
NM: FUCK YOU BUTTGERS

Either I was writing in prose an orgasm or Penn State did something good here…

YES
YES
YES

Then we didn’t do so good…

oh come on
busted play again
too many of them today
holding
didn’t need to hold either
what the hell was that?
x2

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…

NM:TD
NM: TD
NH: wow oh wow…
NM: TD
NM: TD
NM: TD
NH: too quick!
NM: FUCK YOU UMPS
NM: FUCK YOU
NM: its a hold
NH: pretty clear
NH: sadly
NM: COME ON
NM: ITS CAPS ALL THE WAY
NH: lol
NM: TD
NM: TD
NM: TD
NM: NO FLAGS
NH: go for 2?
NM: LOL BUTTGERS
NM: No.
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…

NM:THAT
NM: WILL
NM: FUCKING
NH: who says it wasnt worth staying up for?
NM: DO
NM: NICELY
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 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.

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Written by neilmonnery

September 15th, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Dating Update – Autumn 2014 – Three Girls and Three Dates

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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…?

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.

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Written by neilmonnery

September 10th, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Posted in Dating

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Sky Sports NFL Coverage 2014 – Once more stepping it up

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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 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.

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Written by neilmonnery

September 7th, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Posted in American Sport,Media

Tagged with ,

Yet another reason not to bring back the death penalty – Henry McCollum & Leon Brown edition

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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.

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Written by neilmonnery

September 3rd, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Posted in News

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More on Southend Politics and the 2015 General Election

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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.

To end:

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!

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August 28th, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Give Douglas Carswell his due – this is how you defect and what a UKIP coup

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I have written before that I think as a matter of principle that anyone who is elected but who decides to change their political allegiance should resign and go back to their electorate to seek re-election with their new party hat on. I firmly believe this is the case at both local and national level. This goes for members of any party going to members of any other party or indeed independents joining a party or vice versa.

This morning Douglas Carswell resigned from the Conservative Party and promptly joined UKIP. However in doing so he also resigned from his parliamentary seat and said that he intended to seek re-election as a UKIP MP in the by-election.

All I can say to him is essentially well played and no-one can really complain. He was indeed my MP very briefly when I lived in Harwich in 2005-2006, a seat he won in a very tight contest in 2005 from Labour. Due to boundary changes he took on the Clacton seat, much of which encompasses his former Harwich seat. He won very tightly in 2005 but he waltzed away with it in 2010 with over 50% of the vote and a majority in excess of 12,000.

Clacton profiles as traditionally a very safe Conservative seat but it also falls into the trap of profiling as a potential slip up seat if UKIP really surged. Plenty of the older generation live in this seat and could easily be swung to UKIP. The big problem the Tories have is that Douglas Carswell is a genuinely popular guy locally and plenty of his activist base and his voters will go with him due to the fact that they like him personally.

This is going to essentially be a flash vote based on Europe. He has left the Conservative Party based mainly on the fact he thinks that the party are not serious about change in terms of our relationship with the European Union. That is what he’ll campaign on. Real change between the UK and the EU. Scarily he could come through and pull it off.

Whatever I think about his politics though, you can’t knock how he has gone about this (bar maybe the fact he seemingly didn’t tell David Cameron about this in advance – that reeks of a lack of class). He is going back to the voters in Clacton and giving them the option of voting him back into Parliament. I suspect they may well do as the UKIP protest vote is still very much out there and couple that with a personal vote and they could well win.

Of course even if they don’t win, this move keeps UKIP very much in the news over the next few weeks. Whatever we all may think of Nigel Farage and his press team, you would struggle to really criticise how they run their media game. The BBC are wooed by them and the other news organisations aren’t too far behind. They find ways to keep their story, propaganda, manifesto, policies, whatever you call it, they find a way to keep it in the news and the more they do that, the more people are likely to start to believe that they can actually deliver on their promises.

Depressing.

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August 28th, 2014 at 10:53 am

Posted in Politics

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Do Southend Labour want to win or fight the good fight but lose?

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In 2010 a lot of political analysts believed that Labour wanted to lose so they could sit on the opposition benches for five years, throw stones whilst the economy turned around and then promise the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to lure people back. It was a very persuasive argument and one that I thought actually carried some merit. Sometimes in life it is better to fight the good fight but lose and say that you’ve fought the good fight without actually then having to make the big decisions.

Yesterday I wrote what I thought was a fair and honest critique of the decision by Labour to essentially run two legitimate campaigns in Southend next year instead of really aggressively targeting one of the two seats. There were two people I expected to rile by my comments and unsurprisingly they both were. I maybe a member of the Lib Dems and therefore I may have a vested interest in things but I can also look at things from a logical point of view and not just spin and push the bandwagon (I initially mistyped that as bangwagon and have smirked to myself).

The fact is political parties do not have an infinite amount of resources, either in terms of dollar dollar bills nor in terms of manpower. Labour of course know this and that is why I never see a Labour leaflet in Thorpe Bay despite living here for several years. They know it is a waste of time and money to write, publish and deliver leaflets in this area. Thorpe Bay is not what you’d call Labour territory as the demographics and mathematics are all wrong.

Cllr. Ware-Lane tweeted me last night that my blog post reminded him that he needed to start his Leigh ward campaign. A nice shot at saying that he was coming to get the Lib Dems at the heart of their western operation. I cried all night I was so frightened at the thought of Labour pulling in the votes in Leigh to come through the pack and beat out the Tories and the Lib Dems in a General Election year. Give me a fucking break. There are votes to be had for Labour in Leigh of course but they’ll be third at best, they will not beat either the Tories or the Lib Dems there even if they ran their whole GE campaign on a ‘Leigh Independence Movement’ backdrop. The numbers nor the demographics are there. It’s not rocket science.

This is where I think a lot of people fall down. Just because I myself am a liberal doesn’t make me think that other people will be just because I am, or I talk to them about liberal values. The same with all the other parties from across the political spectrum. There are swing voters out there, a good chunk of them, but the vast majority will only swing between two parties (although having said that I did meet someone the other day who told me they had voted Lib, Lab and Con within the past five years) but those people are few and far between.

Matthew Dent says that in part he suspects my blog post was at least partially motivated by my own party’s interests, you can read his full blurb here. I can assure him it wasn’t. I know the Tories are winning Southend West next year and deep deep down whilst being second would be great, second gets you nowhere in this game bar momentum. I’m all but certainly out of Southend in the near future (landlord wants to sell and it is time for me to go elsewhere) but even saying that, I still fully expect the Lib Dems to be second next year in the west, with or without a concerted effort by Labour there and even if they aren’t – it won’t be by any significant amount. The Tories will still run away with it and long-term the demographics of the west is more Lib Dem than Labour.

Lets put it into context, Labour came last in five of the west wards in the 2014 local elections, last. It would have been six had it not been for the Greens. They won one ward (the same as the Lib Dems) but the Lib Dems were only last in Chalkwell and Belfairs. Here is the breakdown of the 2,014 council numbers in the west (I have only used the top result for each party in Westborough as two seats were up).

3645 – Labour
4126 – Lib Dems
7945 – Conservative

So even in a down year for the Tories where UKIP had a significant impact on their vote, the Tories cleared Labour by more than double in terms of votes cast and the Lib Dems by nearly double. I just don’t see any reason for any optimism for any party to overtake the Tories next year, certainly when you look at the 2010 numbers and see that the Tories may lose split votes locally but gain them nationally (Amess received around 3,000 more votes than the Tory council candidates in 2010). Of course UKIP could impact the Tory vote should they field a candidate but I would expect their impact to be less dramatic than in the east.

I maybe a Lib Dem member and activist but I am not blinded by loyalty and believe that we can win every battle no matter what the realistic situation is. I can write open and honestly and do so frequently without my Lib Dem hat on but more my Journalism degree hat on and yesterday’s post was one of those occasions. Labour’s high mark in the west is second, Labour’s high mark in the east is first, why not just go for it and go for the win instead of fighting to be best of the rest?

I think the best metaphor I can give is if you are a sprinter going for the Olympic double and someone offered you a chance for a gold in the 100m and a bronze in the 200m or a guaranteed silver in the 100m and a chance for a second silver in the 200m then which do you take? Do you go for gold or do you set your sights on two silvers? I know what I go for…

Politics is not ideal. Yes all parties should be able to put their full resources behind every potential councillor and every potential member of the House of Commons. Every single voter should get the full treatment and should be treated as equal but we all know that is impossible under the current system. You have to prioritise otherwise you risk not getting any member of your party elected. People understand that and strategically I wonder just how much Labour do…

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August 23rd, 2014 at 10:12 am

Posted in Politics

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Labour shoot themselves in the foot in Southend

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Sometimes you think it is just about getting the best candidate for the gig, however sometimes it really isn’t if you actually want to win. The more you get exposed to the inner workings of politics you come to understand that to win you have to prioritise, you have to work out where your money is, how to spend it, where to spend it, how the activist is, where the activist base is, how best to use the activist base and so on.

When the 2015 General Election comes round it is highly unlikely I’ll be voting here as it seems now all but certain I’ll be moving out of Southend in the near future. However the seat where I am living is, despite what might be seen as an extremely safe Tory seat, actually not that safe. James Duddridge is an odds on favourite to win again but if you delve into the numbers (which I like to do) then you’ll see that he’s a big favourite, but a big favourite who could lose if everything goes against him. Should Duddridge fall short then it’d be Labour who’d pick up the seat.

Over in the west of Southend David Amess will win another term at as the MP. Of that there isn’t any doubt whatsoever barring a significant scandal coming out about him and even if that happens, I’d expect him to still hold on just. If he lost he’d lose to the Liberal Democrats.

So why am I talking about Labour shooting themselves in the foot? Well they’ve decided to field their arguably two strongest candidates in both seats. Cllr. Ian Gilbert beat out Cllr. Julian Ware-Lane for the Rochford & Southend East nomination. At this point it still was a long shot they could pull off the win here but the fact the Tories failed to win a single seat here in the council elections this year, coupled with the rise of UKIP and what will be a total collapse of the Liberal Democrat vote in the east of the town then Labour are live dogs. If Cllr. James Moyies stands in the seat for Parliament next May (as far as I’ve read there hasn’t been any decision on this) then Labour are very live dogs in this seat.

Labour lost by 11,000 odd last time around and 11,000 is quite a majority to overturn, certainly if the party trying to overturn it isn’t exactly sweeping all away in the council elections (which they aren’t) but lets look at the maths again.

The Lib Dems will lose 4,000-5,000 votes in the seat at a pretty well educated guess. You would expect Labour to pick up around half of them, so that majority is now around 9,000 to win. The Tories have been in power, so Labour now aren’t the party of government. This means that the vote for change now is in the hands of Labour and for whatever David Amess’ faults on the other side of the borough, people you speak to (who aren’t staunchly political) say that he is a good constituency MP, I don’t hear the same about James Duddridge. He is kind of an anonymous MP. So his name carries very little cachet. So his personal vote will not be strong.

Then throw in the UKIP factor. I don’t want to put words in Cllr. Gilbert’s mouth but you have to think that he is out in his garden every night looking up at the sky searching for a shooting star and has his ‘Please let UKIP stand here’ wish ready to go. The Tories got just a tick over 19,500 votes last time around, if UKIP took 20% of that vote (which is entirely possible and might even be a low estimate) then that is 4,000 plus votes. Now of course UKIP would also take votes from Labour, certainly in places like Kursaal but not to the same degree.

Strangely the key ward may actually be right here in Thorpe Bay, where Labour are nowhere and will get very few votes. The Tories should sweep this seat in a General Election and this ward votes. If UKIP (or heck how about an ambitious independent?) could make serious inroads into the Tory vote here then it is really game on.

All sounds good for Labour, no?

Well, yes and no. To win they have to throw every resource they have at Rochford & Southend East. They need to run a skeleton campaign in the west and put all their eggs in the one basket. They have a straight choice whether to go for first in the east and finish third in the west, or settle for second in the east in an attempt to finish second in the west. Personally a shot at first and settling for third seems like a no brainer.

Yet they have chosen a man who will certainly go and try to win in the west in Cllr. Ware-Lane. Admirable yes, good politics, most certainly not. Good strategy wins elections often just as much as good policy. I just cannot see Cllr. Ware-Lane being a paper candidate who would spend his time in the east trying to get Cllr. Gilbert elected, which would certainly be the best decision for them strategically. Of course I could be wrong and whilst Cllr. Ware-Lane is saying all the right things publicly, he knows the best thing for Labour would be to hit the east and support Cllr. Gilbert to the fullest of his abilities.

In 2010 the Lib Dems had the most votes in Oxford yet won neither seat, they came a close second in both seats. Had they concentrated on one seat, either seat, they would have won. There are many stories similar to this. If Southend Labour want to gain an MP then they know all their eggs have to be in the east because they have a shot of winning. If they decide to fight both seats to any significant degree then it is highly likely we’ll end up with two Conservative MP’s again across the two seats.

If I was a betting man I’d back Amess and Duddridge to both be returned to parliament next May but on a very good day for the Labour party, they have a shot at dethroning Duddridge. Amess is safe as houses but Duddridge, whilst looking safe could go if the dominoes all fall the wrong way for him and the right way for Labour. So it should be full steam ahead for Labour in the east but you just get the sense that by selecting Cllr. Ware-Lane in the west that they aren’t putting all their eggs in one basket and on this occasion, that would have been the most logical strategy if their end goal was to return an MP to parliament in 2015.

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August 22nd, 2014 at 11:55 am

Lord Rennard kinda but doesn’t really win, the Lib Dems lose. Sums up a lot doesn’t it?

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First things first. I have no idea what Lord Rennard did or did not do. I don’t have access to the evidence. I have an opinion but that is based solely on the evidence that has been leaked through the media. This opinion is pretty hardened and it would take significant new evidence to move me from my position but I suspect that will not happen.

Lord Rennard was ‘won’ in that he’s had his party membership restored. The allegations against him are credible but not proven. A situation that happens all the time in many different guises in many different professions. In many of these situations I look at those accusing and try to work out if they have a hidden agenda or a bias that would make me skeptical as to their allegations. In this situation I haven’t seen any of that.

The problem Lord Rennard has is that whilst he may feel vindicated, he is perceived as guilty by the vast majority of Liberal Democrats. Most want him gone because they feel he encapsulates the older part of the party and doesn’t embrace what younger liberals think. The Lib Dems as a party do have an issue with gender equality but I don’t think this is because of any inherent sexism within the party, but more to do with legacy and some older members of the party (and lets be honest here – some older members of society as a whole) still struggle with equality as a concept.

The Lord released the following statement:

I am obviously pleased that all disciplinary investigations against me have been brought to an end and that the suspension of my party membership has been lifted.

This has taken a long time. The English Regional Parties Committee began a new disciplinary investigation in January 2014. I was informed by the Committee that this latest investigation was on the basis of, “media and social media comments made by you, endorsed by you and made on your behalf that have attacked the party and the party processes publically (sic) since the announcement of the Webster report results.”

This investigation followed the one conducted last year by Alistair Webster QC, and which resulted in a finding of “no further action through insufficient evidence.”

I am grateful to Chris Willmore, a barrister, parliamentary candidate and now a law lecturer who acted as the ‘independent investigator’ in this latest process. She was extremely thorough in her approach. I was informed by telephone late this afternoon of the conclusion that “there would be no further action”. The rules provided for the investigator either to recommend “charges,” or to say that there was insufficient evidence to proceed further to a disciplinary hearing.

All allegations made about me have now been investigated thoroughly, including by the Metropolitan Police Service, and fell at the first hurdle as there was insufficient evidence to proceed further.

The English Appeals Panel confirmed in July that I could not be criticised over my reaction to the previous report by Alistair Webster QC, as I was not given sight of the report for eleven weeks. The worst that might be said of me in that independent report was that I may have inadvertently encroached on the “personal space” of some of the complainants, and I apologised for this to all four of them.

I remain a committed member of the Liberal Democrats and a strong believer in the principles of the party, as set out in the constitution, and based on the values that led me to join the Liberal Party in my teens.

So basically reading between the lines his defence is that there was insufficient evidence to move forward. He never once said he did not do what he had been accused of or that he was innocent. Just that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with disciplinary procedures and the same at the Met.

He says that at worst he inadvertently encroached on the personal space of several people. Now not to be a wise-ass here but it is pretty hard to inadvertently encroach on someone’s personal space. As human beings we all know what our personal space is and should know what another person’s is. If you don’t then I have serious doubts as to your ability to function as a human being. It isn’t rocket science.

I am very much an innocent until proven guilty guy but in this case I think it is pretty clear that Lord Rennard’s behaviour was not acceptable. Whether that equates to criminal charges I think possibly not because they have investigated and cannot prove anything, fair enough. However internal disciplinary requires a different standard of proof. the fact the Lib Dems bottled it – and lets not beat around the bush here – the people who had this decision to undertake bottled it – the fact they decided to take no further action showed two things. They didn’t want a long protracted fight that would have rumbled in the media for weeks and months more and secondly that Lord Rennard believes that he didn’t do anything significantly wrong.

And that folks might be the most depressing thing of this whole matter. Lord Rennard doesn’t believe his actions were wrong to any significant degree. If I inadvertently encroached on someone’s personal space and they informed me of it I’d be freaking out about it for months. He seems to not see it as a problem. I’m sitting here writing this and still shaking my head.

He hasn’t won anything bar his membership of a political party that doesn’t want him any more. He won’t be a pariah but he is the figurehead for everything wrong within the party according to many people. The Lib Dems should be the radical party who want to make the world a better place, a more equal place, equality in all terms, sex, race, background, sexual persuasion, equality across the board and you have a senior party member who at best (and I stress at best) seems to not know how to act as a basic human being when it comes to women that he has come in contact with.

Now I’m not saying the Lib Dems are the only party with these issues. I am positive other political parties have similar issues as do many businesses. I would like to think that these issues are being dealt with and that the next generation of people coming through are more about equality and believe in it not only to give it lip-service but also in terms of actually looking at other human beings and treating them as equals no matter what their differences are.

The end game is though that the public perception of the party is not good. As the party of the radicals, it comes across that we aren’t that radical and that we can’t take the big decision when faced with one. The party would without a doubt be stronger had Lord Rennard either not been allowed back or had he walked away. Sometimes in life you find that you are not wanted and that the best way to move on is to walk away.

I have found that recently in what was a significant aspect of my life and no matter how much I didn’t want to walk away, it was the only way forward. Lord Rennard should have done the same. If he truly believes in the Lib Dems as the radical party of change then he should know that by him being in the party, that radical change will be harder to accomplish and that is the dagger to the heart. He is too selfish to put the liberal philosophy before his own ego and sense of self-worth.

Lord Rennard will never have the respect of the Lib Dems again and the party as a whole has another big bruise that it will struggle to shake off. All in all everyone loses and nobody wins.

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Written by neilmonnery

August 21st, 2014 at 8:38 am

Posted in Politics

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The Rambles of Neil Monnery hits One Million Page Views.

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This is a purely vanity blog post but this morning this blog ticked over the one million page view mark and that number is completely insane, so just wanted to say thank you to those of you who’ve actually read my rubbish over the years.

The number is actually far higher than a million page views as I moved from a WordPress hosted to a self-hosted blog about nine months in to this blogs existence and therefore my stats started from zero again.

When I started this blog I did in mainly because I wanted to own the neilmonnery.co.uk domain and didn’t really know what I wanted it for. I just wanted to ensure that I owned it so no-one else could. I decided to blog because I had in the past worked in writing and obviously have that degree in Journalism lying around somewhere. So it would be a place where I could vent or air my thoughts on anything that tickled my fancy.

I know this blog has at times been controversial. I know at times this blog has cost me dates (true story) and I know at times I have opened up to such a degree that it seems less of a blog but more of an online diary. At times I have wrestled with the idea of not being so open on here but have decided that I want to be true to myself and anything I write, I know there is a chance people will read it. I do have my secrets that don’t get aired on here (although often you’ll find subtle hints woven into blog posts) but I know the line between my privacy and those of others.

In the first couple of years I had a pretty decent readership amongst Lib Dems and was a well-read writer but in the past couple of years those readers have drifted away to other blogs. These days more people read about my life – certainly my dating exploits (or lack of them) and of course whenever Take Me Out gets going I may get one or two views for those pieces but all in all to get a million page views is far and away in excess to what I ever thought would happen.

So for those who agree or disagree, think I’m great, think I’m dumb, whatever, I hope that I’ve made you smile or made you think. If I’ve done one or the other then I’ve done something right. Whether I’ll ever make two million views, who knows but for now, I’m pretty darn impressed that this blog has been clicked on more than a million times – and that is quite something.

One million page views on some nobodies personal blog…madness.

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August 14th, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Posted in Random Stuff

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