The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Archive for February, 2013

Why the media have yet again shown they just don’t get it on Lord Rennard and Nick Clegg

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This blog post with not look at the specific allegations but just at how the media are reacting and what priorities they are showing.

I shall state this at the very beginning. Lord Rennard has serious allegations to face about his behaviour. The Liberal Democrats as an organisation also have serious questions to answer about how they dealt with allegations from the women against Lord Rennard. However as it stands Nick Clegg does not face any serious questions despite the weight of media that states that he does. In fact the Telegraph report today actually backs up Nick Clegg’s claim that, ‘my office only received concerns indirectly and anonymously.’

The Telegraph has published a letter that it sent to Jonathan Oates in April of 2010. At this time Mr Oates replied and told him that Nick Clegg was not aware of any allegations against Lord Rennard on the same day. In fact the reply was quite terse. The Telegraph put forward several allegations that they believed Lord Rennard had acted inappropriately towards several women. These women at the time had not gone on the record. It is not clear if these are the same women who have since gone on the record.

The narrative of this story is not about the actual allegations themselves. The media do not give a crap if women were victims of a sex pest. They couldn’t give a monkey’s and that pisses me off greatly. The only thing the media care about is whether Nick Clegg knew and if he did then why didn’t he do anything about it? That is the only story because it holds political weight.

Well let me tell you this Fleet Street (channel four didn’t seem to focus on this in what was a reasonably fair and clearly well researched story) but fleet street need to understand what is important here. Nick Clegg’s knowledge – or lack of – is not the story – the story is whether several women were victims of inappropriate behaviour at the hands of a Lib Dem peer.

The thing is the media can smell blood. They have a story that can take down Nick Clegg. It has the power to crush him and finish his political career. The only problem is they don’t have the evidence to back up their hypothesis and they are desperate to find the smoking gun. They aren’t desperate to find the truth but the smoking gun. There is a distinct difference.

So far they have published a letter from Mr Oates actually stating that Nick Clegg did not know of specific incidents. They claim this proves Nick Clegg was lying when he said he hadn’t heard of any specific complaints regarding Lord Rennard but had heard indirectly and anonymously. Well The Telegraph says that because they sent a letter to someone that wasn’t Clegg with allegations that proves Clegg lied.

Now let us look at this with a clear head. The letter – which can be found on this article gives four encounters where allegations have been made against Lord Rennard. The only problem is they are anonymous and cannot be investigated because quite simply they are anonymous. How are they meant to investigate an incident that happened ‘in 2003 or 2004′ with someone they couldn’t even speak to for example?

You can make allegations against anyone and the moment you do then there will be whispers surrounding that person. No doubt Nick Clegg heard on the grapevine that Lord Rennard had questions to answer but unless someone makes a complaint then how can it be properly investigated?

Now of course the problem is that seemingly people did make complaints and they were not properly investigated and that is where the Liberal Democrats have to look internally at what exactly happened but at this juncture we still have no credible sources that Nick Clegg actively knew of any specific incident involving Lord Rennard and inappropriate behaviour against women. What we have is a letter that states he didn’t know know anything, an anonymous comment in a personal Facebook chat from 2009 of a victim saying she believed Nick Clegg knew and another anonymous official who said the following in 2009 and apparently stands by his comments today:

“I was at an event with Nick Clegg and said, ‘Nick, you need to know that we have print journalists, which I believe were, I think the Telegraph were chasing it, the Mail was chasing it and the News of the World was chasing it.’

“I said, ‘I believe there are three papers that are actively pursuing the Rennard story’ and he knew exactly what I meant, there was no ‘what are you talking about?’

“As the party leader he knew exactly what I meant when I said it to him. He said, ‘Thank you very much, I will go and deal with it.’ And again nothing happened.”

Those quotes are from this story in The Telegraph.

Now I’m trying to see where in these quotes Nick Clegg said that he knew of specific allegations against Lord Rennard. Could it just be more gossip that he had heard? The quotes – as the Italian pizza maker Luigi in The Simpsons would say – they prove nothing.

So far all we have are anonymous people stating that they thought Nick Clegg knew. That is it. However the media – and specifically the right-wing media have decided that anonymous sources – single anonymous sources – without any evidence and just on their beliefs and feelings are actually credible enough to write a story and state it as fact. Some might question the timing – certainly considering they have been sitting on it for years – but I don’t.

What I’d like to see is an investigation to find out what happened between Lord Rennard and these women. That is the most important thing. What I’d like to see is for one of these women to go to the police with complaints to initiate a police investigation. However sadly the media’s fixation with the possibility of taking down a senior politican – certainly one they don’t like – will always overshadow the real issue that potentially there was a sexual predator working from a position of power high within the Liberal Democrats.

That is the biggest story and not whether Nick Clegg knew or not. So I throw down the gauntlet to fleet street (as if they read nor care about me) but if they have any courage of their convictions they’ll get busy getting to the bottom of the allegations and speaking to the women who have made these claims and try and get them to go to the police. That would be progress and that would be a worthwhile use of time.

Remember at the moment they are only allegations as well – people should remember that. I would say the media should remember that but they don’t care and Lord Rennard’s name is only ever said in passing to set up why Nick Clegg is all sorts of evil and a liar. It is a sad state of affairs that these allegations are now just the back story – certainly when the story now front and centre has nothing going for it (as yet) but heck that is how the media works – sexual predators are not the story when you can get a bigger fish to fry who is accused of knowing about allegations and not stopping the predator.

I saw it with the Jerry Sandusky case. The fact he was an evil monster who sexual molested boys for at least over a decade was merely the last line in the story. The fact that Joe Paterno may have known and not found a way to put a stop to it. Now that is a story that kept the American press busy for weeks and months.

The fact that the monster basically got a pass in the media really got to me. In this case the fact that Nick Clegg’s reputation is being tarnished in the media every day with flimsy facts in an attempt to prove their hypothesis whilst the actual alleged monster is merely an afterthought really really hacks me off as well.

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February 25th, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Posted in Media,Politics

Tagged with , ,

Southend Council set to remove 35 recycle bin sites across the town

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We are but three days away from the budget here in Southend and one thing that I haven’t seen mentioned is that the 35 locations across the borough like the one pictured below at the top of The Broadway in Thorpe Bay that will be removed from use.

thorpe bay bottle bank

Thorpe Bay Recycling

Yes in the budget the bottle banks and recycling bins are to go in an attempt to save money. I haven’t seen it anywhere but I was talking to a councillor about waste and he then opened up his file and read out that the budget contains the plan to abolish these locations. We will be encouraged to use the pink recycling sacks instead. This seems like a proposal that on paper seems feasible but there are a lot of people who certainly don’t like the idea of leaving glass out on the street to be collected. Also there are people in this town who don’t get pink sacks (or black sacks for that matter) and so what would I do with my recycling if these bins were to disappear? I don’t get pink sacks (and nor do my neighbours) and don’t drive so even if the bins at the tips were kept then I wouldn’t be able to get there.

I live opposite a bottle bank and other recycling bins and I can tell you that they are used a lot. I often see people putting things in them and if as the council are suggesting that under 1% of all recycling in the whole borough comes through these recycling bins. I don’t know how much use the other 34 get but if they are anything like the bins at the top of The Broadway in Thorpe Bay then the people of Southend must be recycling heaps through their pink sacks and this should be applauded.

I have no idea as to the take up of these recycling bins but they seem to be used a fair deal and removing them will lead to the town’s waste going up as people throw recyclable materials away instead of recycling them if they are unable to get to a recycle bin easily. This would not be a good thing as being as green as possible is the way forward and since these bins first started appearing they have always been used well. Without them I fear for Southend’s green credentials.

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Written by neilmonnery

February 25th, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Posted in Politics

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Can Maria Hutchings turn this all around and pull off a sensational Eastleigh victory?

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When the markets opens the Tories were the favourites – one bookie even opened up with the party the 2/1 on favourites – which is quite strong. The incumbant MP was going to jail, he was a member of a political party that were languishing in the polls, the smaller coalition party were bearing the brunt of the voter rage of the government and the seat is in an area that has always been blue until the death of Stephen Milligan prompted a by-election at a time where John Major was overseeing a tough and deep recession and had a cabinet full of backstabbing bastards. This was a Blue gain and the chance to make Nick Clegg seriously squirm.

However very quickly the punters lumped on the Lib Dems and within hours most bookies had them both around evens and they weren’t sure which way to go. The Tories got in first with their candidate and on the face of it is seemed a swift and obvious choice but as the days have passed we have noticed one thing – it was a horrific one.

Eastleigh people clearly like the local Lib Dems as they hold every seat on the local council in the constituency. So to win they needed to appoint a candidate who was a soft Tory and not a hard line one. Someone prone to gaffes, speaking about how local schools aren’t good enough for her son, someone who wasn’t down with equal marriage and isn’t exactly keen on foreigners coming to the UK and working. This was a Tory candidate who was basically walking hand-in-hand skipping along with UKIP policies. Not exactly the best plan when you consider UKIP will be picking up the protest vote so instead of gaining disaffected Lib Dems she is busy fighting off disaffected Tories going to UKIP.

When you have an election where the majority are clearly broadly in a small political spectrum then you should put yourself in that political spectrum if you want to win. The Tories and the Lib Dems currently are in a pretty narrow field overall. Cameron is a soft Tory and Clegg is certainly not a natural left leaning Lib Dem leader so essentially if the candidates towed the national line it would come down to whether the Huhne mess and the general Lib Dem national malaise would be enough for the Tories to step in.

As we all know though the Lib Dem candidate Mike Thornton is the only person in the narrow spectrum that the majority subscribe to. Soft liberals will not vote Tory next Thursday. They may vote Labour or one of the fringe parties or not bother voting but the soft Lib Dem vote will not go in any significant number to Maria Hutchings. So to win she has to establish herself as more credible than UKIP and try to tear down the Lib Dem vote to keep it at home or to send it to Labour or fringe candidates.

Can she do this? Yes but I can in theory become a Calvin Klein underwear model. Maria Hutchings is not a dynamic candidate that is engaging the public nor one who is generating positive press. I think the press over-inflate their influence but she just isn’t getting *any* positive play and her ground game is not what the Lib Dems or UKIP is. The Lib Dems know to win all they have to really do is keep the vote they had and maybe take a few soft Tory votes who are scared by the right-wingness of the Tory candidate and UKIP. UKIP know all they have to do is target anyone who is pissed off with everyone and swoop them up. When you see Boris Johnson knocking on doors and getting nowhere you know you have an issue.

The Tories could well win still in Eastleigh. Things can change but the general noise coming out is that they know they won’t. The thing is though that the Tories could and maybe should have won Eastleigh. The Chris Huhne trial and story has been knocking around for an awful long time now. Plenty of time to prepare, get on the streets, collect canvass data and have a candidate in place who was a soft Tory that could basically say, ‘look…you are pissed off with Nick Clegg and disappointed in Chris Huhne, why not vote for me and I can be that centerist candidate and not be a liar’ and victory was a far more realistic prospect.

Polling day is six days away and the more likely scenario now is the Tories fighting UKIP for second than fighting the Lib Dems for the win. If the polling does see UKIP get second place it will become possibly the biggest story of the by-election. UKIP’s strength against the Tories, the Tory collapse and the Lib Dem resilience would be the stories and in that order. Having a strong Lib Dem hold might just be the third biggest story of this election – who saw that coming?

Of course plenty can change but the Lib Dem campaign is holding up and confidence is there. The UKIP campaign is strengthening and they are sniffing giving the Tories a real real scare and the Tories are floundering. Labour were never going to be a significant runner and a fourth place would not be embarrassing for Ed Miliband in the slightest. If they were to get in the mix with UKIP and the Tories it might actually be a very good night for the party.

Still all to play for but the Lib Dems have run (so far) a very good campaign. The Tories seem to have stumbled without a clear plan (despite plenty of feet on the ground) and UKIP are picking up on that general anti-establishment feeling that is encompassing the nation.

Whatever happens next Thursday I can see several very interesting storylines…

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February 22nd, 2013 at 11:51 am

Posted in Politics

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Gone (Cat)fishin’ – The messages a ‘fit’ guy gets on online dating websites…

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Ages ago I did a blog about being a girl on an online dating website. Well at the same time I set up a fake male profile as well but didn’t get around to blogging about it. I completely forgot about it until the other day and I logged into it. Suddenly logging into it has produced a spurt of mails. Yet again I refused to reply to any but was interested in the types of messages I would get. One of the most common things that I have seen on dating profiles is something along the lines of ‘don’t just message me and hey hi or ask how I’m doing’ so how do women message guys..well lets see…

1. If only they still sold Tab…

What am I meant to do with this? Ask her what she’d still do if they sold a short-lived clear coloured cola?

2. Excellent profile, made me laugh x

If I was going to reply I’d just say ‘Thank You’ – clearly she is putting it on me to get a conversation flowing.

3. Hi Mr Bombastic :) you look cheeky (in the good way) :)

Well at least I could reply in an equally flirty way I suppose…

4. Is your pic taken at Harry potter studios? Xx

Well I could answer Yes or No. Great conversation!

5. Your profile made me giggle!!

People have been known to say similar about me ;-) xx

I’m not going to reveal what the profile stated but she is basically saying she is good at giving blow jobs and then winking…

6. I’m in the some think your handsome group ;-) x

Flirty but again putting it all on me to create some conversation.

7. hey hun, how u doing? x

Surely you can use capital letters and proper English?

8. naughty….but I did laugh out very loud reading your profile x

Ok and…?

9. Evening.

Your profile had me in stitches.

How are you?

{name redacted]

xxx

Now this one was interesting as it was from someone I had actually messaged – as me – months ago. She never replied. Capital letters, proper English, only person to actually tell me her name, ok it’s not the best opening message ever but it was the best I received. Shame she took one look at the real me and thought ‘Nah…’ and yet words that I had written had her in stitches. Oh internet dating you are a strange one…

10. Whatever happened to that drink Tabclear?? You have me thinking now :-)

Well it kinda just died away (I made a reference to it in my profile(

11. Nice hair! ;)

Thanks…

12. ;)

Seriously is that it?

13. Are you terribly fantastic?

Yes. Yes I am…

14. are you being serious in your little description thingy???!!

Well I’m not as the person doesn’t exist but thanks for asking.

That profile had so many messages but they get deleted after 28 days and I forgot to copy & paste them into a file but basically all the messages are along the same lines. They are very short and punchy and mostly rather suggestive. I haven’t put them up here because they were a while back when I first created the account (but didn’t save the messages – d’oh) but there were more than a couple of people who basically said that they wanted to get busy…talk about being forward!

One of the girls who messaged ‘me’ had the following on her profile, ‘Wherever we go…I can guarantee you’ll end the night on a high xXx’ – maybe I just don’t understand the female of the species (actually that might well be very accurate). The profile I used in this instance said nothing about me at all – but was full of hot air – not describing my interests, what I look for in a partner, basically said nothing about me and yet messages flooded in. That didn’t surprise per se but the quality of messages really did.

As I noted in my previous piece women get way more messages than guys and they have a much harder job filtering them but on the other side of the ledger surely women should make some effort to engage if they are messaging a guy? The only date I went on last year came about from someone who had messaged me. I can’t remember the message exactly but it did pick up on a couple of things I said in my profile and asked me about them. That is all an opening message should be. A paragraph or two at most to show that you’ve read their profile and not just looked at the pictures and try and engage with the other person.

Now had I actually been that person in the fake profile then no doubt I could’ve gone out and had a rather good time with a lot of these women. The thing that gets me and annoys me somewhat though is a lot of them – the same people who basically just messaged me suggestively – stated on their profile that they wanted something real and not just a fling as they weren’t like that. Well apparently they are depending on the other person.

No wonder I found it all very confusing and demoralising. It seems many people have a public face that they want to portray but in fact are looking for something completely different. Oh online dating…I don’t miss you so.

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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February 21st, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Posted in Dating

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Most effective techniques to teach a second language to children

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Every so often here at The Rambles of Neil Monnery we get approached to run a guest blog post – usually for educational means. So today we have a piece about the best ways to get children to learn a second language. I hope you enjoy…

It can be very challenging to learn a language, but the best time to pick one up is when you are child. Teaching your children languages when they are young will help make them pick up language skills quicker and more successfully as they grow up. Here a few of the most effective techniques to try out when teaching a second language to your children, from learning through games to going on a summer camp with a school like www.esl-schools.org.

1. Learn through song

If you think back to the lessons that have stuck with you since childhood, a lot will be conveyed in song or rhyme. Associating words in your memory with a catchy tune or easy to remember rhyme helps those lessons to remain in your brain for a much longer period. There are often popular songs for learning numbers or the alphabet. Once the basics are grasped you could make learning fun by doing some foreign-language karaoke and learning phrases through popular music!

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2. Learn through games

When teaching children it is important to keep them engaged and stimulated. Making learning fun will mean they will be more enthusiastic about the language. There are plenty of online language games available which set challenges and tasks to complete. If your child likes the sense of achievement from completing puzzles, there are loads of word searches, crossword puzzles and hangman games available to help you teach a second language in a fun and interactive way.

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3. Learn at a summer camp

One of the best ways for your child to learn a second language is by visiting the host country and immersing themselves in the culture and history of the locals. Letting your child take part in a summer camp in France, for example, will give them the opportunity to meet other children of their own age and to explore the country they are learning about. As well as taking part in cultural trips, summer camps offer plenty of fun activities, so your child will see it less as a forced learning experience, and more as a fun and exciting holiday where they will meet new friends and learn a new skill.

Language skills are becoming more and more important for everyday life and learning while you are young is the most effective way to train your brain to learn other languages. Try some of these techniques to teach your children a second language and see how fast they can impress you with their new skills!

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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February 21st, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Joe Michalczuk quits Express FM and (in part) blames the ‘great unwashed of Portsmouth’ and PST thugs. Wow!

with 3 comments

I was about to write a blog about Seasonal Affective Disorder but then I saw a tweet that Joe Michalczuk had quit his job as commentator of Pompey games on Express FM. I wouldn’t blog about that if that is all there was but no – he didn’t just quit – he launched into a scathing attack on many people as you can see in his full resignation tweet. (Update: The resignation tweet has subsequently been deleted from the internet. He says it is the censorship/propaganda that has caused it to be so. He hasn’t done it himself.)

Talk about going out with a bang. He left the gas on and stood at the door for several hours to ensure that the whole place filled up and then lit the torch paper and legged it. I won’t comment on most of it as he is a fan – like everyone else – and is therefore entitled to his opinion but I will comment on a couple of issues that I have real issues with.

Firstly he states that some of those involved in the PST are not real fans – will get bored and go off to support their other teams and then all will be left is ‘us’ which are the real fans. The real fans are those who aren’t the ‘great unwashed of Portsmouth’ – wow talk about a diss at the regular folk of this great city. Calling a group of people ‘the great unwashed of Portsmouth’ and ‘the Dickensian vagabonds who sat at the back of classrooms swinging on their chairs picking up half an O Level’ is just such a crass shot. I just don’t get it.

He makes a point about what would the hundreds of youngsters who want to get involved in media do if it wasn’t for Express FM? Maybe they’ll go elsewhere? I was actually speaking to someone who did some work experience at Express FM just last week and it has given her a taste of radio and it might be something she wants to pursue. Now this is a valid point – a community radio station is good for the community at large and you can’t condone people threatening advertisers but if people want to boycott it for whatever reason – it is a free country.

When he goes on to say, ‘Decent, Pompey folk will be hounded out of their football club by power crazed, half witted, cloth eared, one-handed typists who will spend half their time shouting homophobic, racist abuse at our League 2 players while checking internet message boards for conspiracy theories of why man never landed on the moon,’ it really riles me up. Mainly because it in part speaks about me. I have a minor form of cerebral palsy and therefore type with one hand. Why are you calling out people of my ilk in this? Unless he is saying everyone he is speaking about has all those traits. Man if someone had all those traits then that would be quite something.

Next up, ‘Now that I’ve resigned, my gag has been lifted and I will be speaking up for the masses at every opportunity. I have more followers that the trust has pledges – and I won’t be afraid to use that audience for the good of Portsmouth Football Club.’ Look at the bit I have bolded…Talk about power crazed…’I have lots of followers…look at me…I’m all powerful and I will speak my thoughts and you will listen because I am so popular. Can you hear him wank whilst typing that? Talking about people who are power crazed in one paragraph and then write about how big of an audience you have on twitter is just pitiful and laughable.

I don’t live in Pompey any more and haven’t for many years. However I do still speak to people in the area and read many people’s thoughts on the Portsmouth Supporters Trust and Balram Chranrai etc… Now there are plenty who are skeptical of the PST but I have yet to hear from one person – one person – who wants Chainrai – or any business acquaintance of Chainrai – to have anything to do with the club. In fact the vast majority of people when given the options of Chainrai taking over again and asset striping the club to get his money out – or the club folding and starting again in a Phoenix type situation then they would prefer the latter of the two options.

Portsmouth Football Club has been a glorious old lady but has been neglected more than I neglect my Wii Fit. It has been kicked from pillar to post and no-one has treated it with the care and the love it deserves. Will the PST do this? I don’t know – but I know who won’t – and that is anyone with any links to Chainrai. So it seems that the options are PST or bust – and in fact – they are the only options thanks to the Football League.

Joe Michalczuk is entitled to his opinion. He is entitled not to be threatened for airing that opinion however when you slate a huge section of the people that listen/read your thoughts then you are basically opening yourself up to abuse. We are all human and if someone basically calls another person a bum then it shouldn’t be a shock if the responses they get aren’t all that pleasant. Threats are too far but what Joe has written in his resignation tweet is certainly throwing out a tonne of abuse at a lot of feet so if he gets some of that back then he has made his bed…

I can’t see how he can say that he wants to reclaim the football club for people of his ilk – people whom he refers to as ‘true Pompey fans’ – and not see the power craziness of it. It sounds like he believes he is the pied piper and he will lead Pompey back from the brink and save the club from people who aren’t real fans. Who is he (or anyone for that matter) to determine who is a real fan and who isn’t? Also who is he (or anyone else for that matter) to say that he is the ‘voice of the majority?’

We all speak for ourselves. If Joe Michalczuk comments then he is commentating his personal views like you or I would do. He doesn’t comment ‘for the majority’ because no-one can speak for the majority unless there has been a vote of every single Pompey fan on the issue and if then they say he is speaking for the majority then fair do’s. Until then he is just a fan who comments as a fan.

I back the PST because it is them or bust – and I trust Colin Farmery implicitly. If Colin Farmery tells me that it is the best option then I’ll go with him. I have known him for over a decade now and do not believe he would be associated with anything that he didn’t think was the best way forward. There are others involved that I have known for a long time who say the same.

The facts are it is PST or bust. If you want PFC to survive in its current guise then the best thing to do is work with the PST to make it a better organisation. Pumping up another bidder is just wasting time. The Football League say PFC or bust – and they are not changing their minds. If I were Joe Michalczuk I’d work with the PST to sort out the problems that he sees in the organisation and not just trash it and try and big up another alternative. There is no other alternative. It is a bit like me looking at my fridge when thirsty and saying, ‘I want a cream soda but I only have a cherry coke – therefore I’ll have nothing’ – it is pointless.

How his resignation comes across to me – as someone who has never met him – nor has deep links to the PST – is someone who wants as much attention as possible and doesn’t like that he’s on the outside looking in with regards to what horse he has backed. Also he sounds like someone who craves the attention. Well you can’t argue with him because look at people like Adrian Durham. If you speak loud enough, make enough waves and crazy opinions then you have a real shot at making it in radio. One thing that is evident in radio – certainly talk radio – is opinionated people work. Look at Alex Dyke who was the star of IoW Radio for many many years because he was controversial. It seems to me that Joe Michalczuk sees this as his future and heck – his resignation made me spend an hour or so writing a blog on him so something must be working!

He derides people who ‘shout the loudest’ but maybe that is exactly the position that he wants to be in. Those who shout the loudest get the most attention and as an aspiring radio presenter that isn’t a bad place to put yourself…

With that I’ll return to my usual guff of politics et al…

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Written by neilmonnery

February 19th, 2013 at 10:58 pm

Posted in Football

Tagged with

Southend councillor on councillor beef but are they all missing the point?

with 4 comments

Oh boy it has been a fun few days in the Southend councillor blogosphere. It all started with Tory councillors Cox and Holdcroft seemingly publishing the private thoughts of their Labour counterpart Cllr Ware-Lane on the proposed cruise event down the seafront. This did not sit well with the councillor for Milton. So all in all some interesting beef.

First of all lets look at the leader of the council and his sly dig that Cllr Ware-Lane doesn’t live in the ward he represents. Pathetic. Cllr Holdcroft is a grown adult and should act like one. As for Cllr Cox I think his crimes are far less although stating something that was seemingly said in private is just not cricket.

The thing none of these councillors seem to get is that the cruising event was the type of thing we should actually encourage. Do we not want 1000 odd cars and say 2,000 odd people coming into the town on a February Saturday evening? Cllr Holdcroft says it would have done nothing for the local authority, which might be true but would it have done something for the local economy of the traders along the seafront? You bet your bottom dollar that it would. With the shared space and the spy cameras who are desperate to ticket anyone who stops for a brief second the traders along the seafront are facing hard times. I’m pretty sure they would have loved 2,000 odd people coming in and spending money in shops and at pubs, fast food joints along the seafront!

Now of course there is the noise and the ‘safety of the public’ that has to be thought about. Cllr Holdcroft says it ‘would have brought noise, disruption and traffic chaos to the seafront and town centre causing aggravation to residents, visitors and traders alike.‘ Interesting Point of View – noise is certainly a fair thing to talk about but disruption and traffic chaos? How many vehicles are going along the seafront on a Saturday night in February? Not millions in my guess. Would residents be aggravated? Possibly but would visitors to the town be aggravated? No and would traders? No – they were extremely annoyed that the council and police got an injunction to stop the event! I’ll give Cllr Holdcroft a bit of a heads up – traders like more people to potentially sell their produce to. The seafront is dead in the winter months so this was a nice little bonus for them until it was snatched away from them.

Now that they have set a precedent does the town want to stop people coming in at the weekend to get drunk and create issues that face every single town every single weekend? I think it is a pretty fair assumption to make that the cruisers would have broken less laws during their proposed event than what revelers do every single weekend in bars, clubs and the surrounding areas. The police were down there anyway to ensure nothing went on – so instead of paying them to monitor an event bringing money and people into the town – we were paying them to make sure nothing happened. Quite brilliant financial planning there! Bravo!

Southend is all about the seafront. It is all about bringing people into into the town. If the seafront disappears as a force for businesses then the town is really facing an issue long-term. It seems that the general consensus amongst traders along the seafront is they are at near breaking point. Revenues are going down and they don’t see things getting any better any time soon. Southend’s seafront should be the jewel in the crown of the town. The way it is going it will soon become a relic. I know this was just one event but it is indicative of how the seafront traders are feeling. A chance to make some nice money on a February evening and instead the seafront was a ghost town and tills aren’t in action.

If (as seems the case) Cllr’s Holdcroft and Cox did essentially publicly express the opinion of another councillor that was expressed in private via the council e-mail system then they should just apologise and move on. As for the greater issue – it seems that the Tory council are not big fans of people coming into the town and spending money in local businesses. I thought that would be quite a big issue for them, certainly in the winter months? Yes I will grant that the noise could have been an issue but it is winter – no-one has their windows or doors wide open and these cruisers would not have been there all night. If things had gone well then perhaps this was a chance to find another regular event that brought people into the town. Heck if we are worried about that noise we should crackdown on people walking home drunk in the early hours – those guys make noise too but seemingly that is ok.

I think the council – and police – acted in haste here and as for people discussing private things in a public forum – pretty darn disappointing…

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February 17th, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Posted in Politics

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A Valentine Day Special – Reasons why I’m still single.

with 4 comments

Ah the 14th of February. The day when we are all meant to show our love for our significant other and if you don’t have a significant other you are shamed and feel depressed because society dictates that you should be. Well as you all know I like to rail against the way society says I should be so there won’t be any lamenting from me. I enjoy Valentine’s Day as I see all those who are ‘luvvy-duvvy’ show off about how happy they are and those who aren’t complain mercilessly about everything. Also the most fun bit is when someone complains that people are too ‘in your face’ regarding it when they aren’t in love but the next year if they are then they are just as ‘in your face’ – hilarity.

I thought this would be the perfect day to run down a list of why I’m single so folks – these are the reasons why I’m single:

Firstly I think we should look at my lifestyle. I live alone, I work from home and I don’t go out much. I don’t actually meet too many people! Every year I do the old Livejournal end of year meme and one of the questions is ‘who is the best new person you’ve met this year?’ and looking back at last year I’m not sure I met anyone (or in an online sense spoke to anyone) for the first time in 2012 who made any significant on my life. So going a whole year without anyone making an impact on your life – that is quite something and certainly a good starting point for this blog.

I am very selfish with one thing – my time. I have slowly become more introverted in the past few years and have in turn become very selfish with my time. I like spending time on my own. If it wasn’t for going out to get the newspaper every day I could easily go several days without seeing another human. The thing is it doesn’t bother me. So if I actually go out of my way to spend time with someone it is actually pretty significant!

Thirdly I seriously don’t like sharing a bed. I know it’s a small thing but boy I hate it. I never get a good nights sleep and therefore I’m grumpy the next day. I’m one of those people that needs a good nights sleep otherwise I just don’t function properly the next day. So when you are seeing someone you generally share a bed and it makes me narky.

Fourthly not asking anyone for a date in over a year probably doesn’t help…

Fifthly I actually don’t mind being single. In fact it is the opposite – I’m more than happy being so. A friend of mine has a friend who is in an absolutely terrible relationship but she is scared to leave him because she’s afraid of being alone. What is scary about being alone? I mean seriously what it scary about being alone? There is nothing scary at all about being alone. It means you have the freedom to do what you want, when you want. Freedom is very important to me. The moment I feel any level of having my freedom restricted in anyway whatsoever I quickly extradite myself from that situation because I love my freedom. Does that make me a commitment phobe? Maybe but if the right person wandered into my life then I think I could exchange some of that single freedom for love and comfort with another. I always ask myself the question, ‘would I go to an art gallery with someone – or watch a play with someone instead of sitting at home and watching a sporting event I wanted to watch live on TV?’ If the answer is yes then I think they are worth my time and to me that is significant, if the answer is no then it says a lot.

Sixthly (I know that isn’t a word but still…) I think in the immortal words of that great poet Michael Buble – ‘I just haven’t met you yet’ and that is how I see it. I think in my life I have met under five people to whom I thought I would seriously want to invest time in them for a potential romantic future. Two of them I am reasonably sure that had things just fallen the other way things could have worked out very differently.

To sum up my thoughts – I don’t get what is wrong with being single. I know many many people think life is better for two and it very well might be however it is better to be single and happy than in the wrong relationship that doesn’t lead to happiness. Until I find a person who thinks I can make them happy and vice versa I’ll continue along this single path and I am more than fine with that.

One day I’m sure I’ll blog about being happily loved up and they’ll be tonnes of photos on Facebook showing happy times with a partner but until that day you won’t find me moping about how unfair life is. I am very content with things as they stand but if the right person wants to walk into my life then please be my guest.

Until that happens though my Valentine’s Day evening will be made up of Chinese food and Crimewatch. Yeah I bet all you loved up couples are supremely jealous…

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February 14th, 2013 at 6:45 pm

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Eastleigh Tory candidate Maria Hutchings doesn’t ‘care about refugees’ and isn’t a fan of aids intervention & prevention in Africa

with 12 comments

Maria Hutchings might be an MP in three weeks. She has unsurprisingly been unveiled as the Conservative candidate for the vacant parliamentary seat in Eastleigh following the resignation of future Her Majesty’s Pleasure tenant Chris Huhne on Monday. The story of Maria Hutchings though is rather an interesting one, from life-long Labour supporter to the Tory A-List along with the likes of Louise Bagshawe, Zac Goldsmith and former Coronation Street Star Adam Rickett to a spot in a very winnable seat all within two years. So what do we know about Maria Hutchings and more importantly her back story and motives for getting involved in politics?

Well she first came to prominence in 2005 when she confronted the then Prime Minister Tony Blair about the possible closure of Cedar Hall School in Thundersley in Essex. In its own words, ‘Cedar Hall School is an innovative and forward looking all age (5-16) Essex LEA School, which provides education for pupils who primarily experience global moderate learning difficulties, but who may experience speech, language, emotional, behavioural or autistic spectrum secondary disabilities.’ Mrs Hutchings you see has a son who suffers from autism and she was worried that the school would be shut.

The thing is the school wasn’t in danger of being closed by the Tory run County Council – and more importantly – it never was. ‘I had to find a way to help my son’ she vowed but helping her son didn’t require her confront the PM over anything because the school was never closing. So she was basically attacking the Prime Minister on a personal issue that was about something that was never even proposed. Sounds a bit strange to me but I will concede that I am not a parent and if you are then you might not think as logically when something may affect one of your offspring.

Speaking after meeting Tony Blair after confronting him in 2005 she said:

“Tony Blair was very, very attentive. He listened to everything we had to say. We are going to meet him again.

“He said to me that he knew something about autism. He felt sorry for what we had to go through. He said that he would be looking into all this personally.

Tony Blair has been looking out of the country at wars and issues abroad – Aids, Africa, Afghanistan and wars in Iraq – so Middle Englanders are the forgotten ones.

“The people who have to pay the taxes that keep the country going – we want our share for our families and our children.”

So she was seemingly pleased with what he said but she wasn’t happy that he was working on things like Aids in Africa, I mean who would care about trying to stop the alarming rate of Aids in Africa? Her assertions that Middle England are the forgotten ones when talking about African children in the same sentence is the biggest load of bull I have read in a long, long time. I know we all like to care about ourselves first and foremost but who really are forgotten more – Middle England or African children?

Exactly.

Look Tony Blair did lots of good and some bad. His bad points were pretty out there but to say things like he was looking at situations like the dire one in Africa regarding the spread of aids and say that Middle England was suffering because of it is pretty out there and something that I personally just cannot get my head round.

Anyway three weeks later – after having described herself as a lifelong Labour Supporter she was at the Tory Spring Conference speaking thanks to a personal invite from then Tory leader Michael Howard. Commentators at the same rumbled about Mrs Hutchings being used by Howard and the Tories but she refuted these claims, “I feel disgusted that you should think that I’m here as a political pawn,” she proclaimed. So within a month of being a lifelong Labour supporter, being told that the Prime Minister of the nation was looking into her case personally (the one where the school was never under any threat of closure no less) she was at the spring conference of another party saying she wasn’t being used as a political pawn by them.

This as we know turned out be true as it was her using the Conservative party. Considering she was a ‘non-political housewife’ (who had canvassed for Labour since the age of 14 – but remember she was ‘non-political’) she seemed to be getting a taste for this politics lark and the next year she found herself on the Conservative A-List of candidates. Not bad for someone who was non-political.

The next year she was selected to be the Conservative PPC for Eastleigh, one of the top Tory target seats. Eastleigh had been Tory for donkey’s years until the Lib Dems stole it in a by-election in 1994 and had held it ever since but not ever comfortably. The MP she would be up against was Chris Huhne who had taken over the seat in 2005 with a majority of 568. She put her house up for sale in Benfleet, Essex and moved to Eastleigh to start her campaign. The fact that this all started about a campaign for her local school and she moved away from the area and the school is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. It was a great parachute choice by the Tories – bringing in a woman into a very winnable seat. It backfired though as she was unable to take it in 2010 which was a considerable disappointment for the Tory party.

However after 831 words I still haven’t gotten to the quote that really bugged me. Yes even more than her proclaiming that Middle England is more forgotten than the issue of Aids in Africa, which is in all honesty a reprehensible thing to say. Middle England isn’t even as forgotten as lower-income England yet alone the tens of thousands of children who die every single year in Africa due to Aids but heck some people in my opinion don’t live in the real world.

She went on to say this in 2005, ‘I don’t care about refugees. I care about my little boy and I want the treatment he deserves.’ The second part of her statement is fine but you aren’t straitjacketed into caring about just your boy or refugees – you can actually care about them both. Yes there are refugees that abuse the system but there are parents and English people who abuse the system too.

In the 2011 Census 119,964 people described themselves or were described as at least one of English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British. This means that 5,235 people in the borough identify themselves non British. Some of these people would identify themselves as refugees but would she care about these potential constituents? You have to wonder. Just bluntly saying you don’t care about certain sections of society – fellow human beings – to me comes across as callous and full of snobbery. Many refugees have come to this country and helped make it the great multi-cultural nation that it is but she doesn’t care about that – she cares about her little boy and seemingly in her opinion you can’t care for both.

She claims to be a progressive and doesn’t believe in state control but in the same interview she calls herself a ‘pro-lifer’ and would reduce the abortion timeframe to ten weeks, which is as far as I’m aware is a point where many don’t even know they are pregnant and before the 12 weeks scan which is the first big hurdle to overcome. So the state shouldn’t get involved…unless it is an issue she feels passionately about and then the state should very much be involved. Yeah sound free-thinking logic there…

Politics to me isn’t just about policies it is about the people. I identify myself as a Liberal Democrat but that doesn’t mean I agree with everything they do or what certain people in the party do or say. Some I would campaign for hard and some I wouldn’t. People have to pass the so called ‘sniff test’ to see if they are genuine.

For me Mrs Hutchings doesn’t seem to do that. She was always political, she used a TV show to get some infamy and not to further along the cause for her son’s school as she proclaimed, she flipped from Labour to the Tories in double quick time (something that I always struggle to understand – how you can be on one side of the political spectrum and move all the way across in one swift motion but that is another story). She was at the Tory spring conference within weeks of saying she was a Labour supporter and was put on their A-list of candidates and given one of their prime targets within a couple of years. It smacks to me that the whole thing was staged and planned – it may well not have been but that is how it looks to me now looking back at all the evidence.

I just don’t know what her motives are. Is she genuinely campaigning to get the ‘forgotten Middle England’ back on the front-burner and championing disability schools? Is she really a housewife who saw a problem and decided she wanted to help provide the solution to that problem? Or was this all one cold-calculated decision to make a name for herself and get into politics?

I know what my gut feeling is, we’ll see what the people of Eastleigh say on February 28th…

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Written by neilmonnery

February 7th, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Posted in Politics

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I shouldn’t be crying. I shouldn’t be crying. I’m crying.

without comments

No advert should ever make a grown man cry. It’s just a stupid advert. Adverts are not real. However here I am constantly refreshing a YouTube video and every time I well up as it is such so perfect.

The Super Bowl was last night and as you know it is not just about the actual game – the adverts are kinda important too. Companies spend millions not only on the advertising space but also on the actual adverts (and the think tanks beforehand) in an attempt to find an advert that will resonate with the viewers. Anheuser-Busch nailed it last night with their Budweiser brand and their advert about a man and a horse. You can see the advert below and to watch full screen please click here

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From nailing the background track which was the wonderful and haunting Landslide by Fleetwood Mac to the storyline itself. It was just sheer perfection in an advert. It wasn’t about beer it was about emotion and it is the advert everyone is talking about today. I noticed Yahoo wrote today the following about this ad:

OH COME ON. Are you kidding me? Super Bowl commercials aren’t supposed to make you cry! They’re supposed to make you laugh or cringe or go reload your plate. This? This ad makes you want to call your parents, hug your kids, and maybe just buy a horse. Flat-out winner out of the gate. Going to be a lot of people dabbing their eyes with cocktail napkins when this one airs.

Exactly. This was the slam dunk winner. I don’t drink and if I did it certainly wouldn’t be Budweiser but if I did then I’d go out and buy a crate just on the strength of the advert. Yes I know Budweiser has no effect on the bond between you and your loved ones – whether they be human or animal – but I do know that the name Budweiser would go in my head when I went to buy some beer if that is the type of thing I did.

Brand identity is just as important as taste in this market and suddenly after dips in sales the brand of Budweiser is sky high once again. If you ask people in the States today what they think of Budweiser they’ll say different things today than they did yesterday. They’ll say far nicer things. Just wonderful and emotive.

As for the other adverts it wasn’t a vintage year but the farmer advert for Dodge Ram Trucks was pretty striking and the Best Buy advert with Amy Poehler was also very good (both embedded below) but that Budweiser advert won the Super Bowl adverts and in all honesty it wasn’t even close.


Download | YouTube to MP3

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February 4th, 2013 at 8:14 pm

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