The Rambles of Neil Monnery

Another pointless voice in the vast ocean that is the interweb

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

with 8 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just maddening. The lot of it.

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Written by neilmonnery

October 1st, 2015 at 3:48 pm

Posted in Media,Politics

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On the new ‘kinder, gentler’ politics…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Written by neilmonnery

September 30th, 2015 at 3:23 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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September 13th, 2015 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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September 7th, 2015 at 11:25 am

Posted in Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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September 6th, 2015 at 10:37 am

Posted in American Sport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Give us a break.

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August 31st, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Other Sport

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

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Madness. Just madness.

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

Here is what JC said on the matter:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That I think is a good place to end.

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August 25th, 2015 at 11:35 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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August 23rd, 2015 at 9:13 pm

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On Jeremy Corbyn’s People’s Railway…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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August 19th, 2015 at 9:11 am

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On Alex Dyke’s comments on breastfeeding…

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

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

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

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

These were some of his comments on the issue:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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August 17th, 2015 at 11:15 am

Posted in Media

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