The Rambles of Neil Monnery

Another pointless voice in the vast ocean that is the interweb

Archive for February, 2015

On the Green Party’s belief they can storm to victory in Southend West…

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A dramatic thing folks, a political party coming from nowhere to take out a knight of the realm. Well that is what is going to happen in just under three months as the Green Party surge has reached Southend West and the party now have confidence that they can pull off the dramatic upset of all upsets, in what would be a bigger surprise than me breaking my lip-locking duck with members of the opposite sex that I’ve been rolling for a depressingly long time. Well that is if you believe their candidate Jon Fuller anyway.

I have long been the type that believe that personal social media account should be just that and not ‘reported’ on by eejits like me or anyone else in the blogosphere, but the Green candidate has written a long post outlining why he is standing and it is clear that he wants to get the word out. You can read the full thing here but here is the synopsis, he’s running because old Labour don’t exist and because voters are deserting the Lib Dems and drifting away from Labour and the Tories, the Green’s are ready to swoop in and save the day…

Well I’m here to defend my lot (to some degree) and actually bring some realistic analysis to the situation. Yes I know I have ties to a party and to this exact election but I can also write from a detached point of view.

He writes, ‘The electorate has one important function to perform, beyond the obvious role of casting a vote on the ballot paper – we have to punish a political party if it promises one thing and delivers another. That is what the Lib-Dems have done.‘ I have two points on this, firstly the electorates important function is to vote for PPC that they believe will best represent them and their values in the House of Commons. The electorate have to make a choice via our FPTP system whether they want to vote tactically or not but the function of the electorate is not to punish anything. That is warped logic but still I’m going to let it go because if he truly believes that then we need to punish the Green Party too.

‘Why is that oh jogging bottom decked one?’ I hear you cry, well I’ll tell you. The Green’s only have ‘power’ in one area. Brighton. They run a minority council there so are not in a position where they can do everything they want, the opposition parties can vote them down. It is a variation of being in a coalition as the Lib Dems cannot do everything they want in government but if the Lib Dems deserve to be punished then lets look to see if the Green Party have kept their promises to the electorate of Brighton.

Can it be true that Brighton has actually gone down in the recycling stakes since the Green Party took over? By jove it is. Did they promise a brand new secondary school to be built to ease the overcrowding on 11-16 year-old students? They did but with under 100 days to go they still haven’t even identified a plot of land, let alone had plans drawn up or ground being broken. How about that bin strike that led to waste building up on the streets? Not very eco-friendly is it to have litter strewn all over the streets? If you look into the Green’s running of the council there, you’ll see why they’ll be booted out in May. They know it is coming and they have to just hope that the electorate can vote with their heads and vote out Green locally but keep Caroline Lucas in nationally, it is a nip/tuck battle but if she goes it will solely be because the Green’s had power locally and sucked and made things worse.

I think – and have always thought – that it is hard to run anything as a minority administration or be a junior partner in a coalition. The UK electorate aren’t used to these situations and react badly to them. That will happen to the Lib Dems nationally and that will happen to the Green’s locally in Brighton. Unless you have enough power to do everything you want then it is hard to be truly judged. If you have some perceived power though, unless you do everything you want then people will be disappointed. It is just the way it is.

On to Southend West as a constituency and whether the Green surge (they haven’t been above the Lib Dems in many national polls in the past few weeks but of course people don’t report this as it isn’t a sexy news story) but that green surge is not going to be felt in Southend West. The demographics are all wrong for where the Green’s are on the political spectrum right now. If Southend West has never gone Labour then they aren’t going to vote in an MP from a party to the left of Labour. It just isn’t going to happen. The constituency has always voted in a Conservative MP and the only time it was even remotely close was in 1997 when the Tory incumbent, Paul Channon, stood down after 38 years, coupled with the Blair surge and the distinct lack of love for the Tories in 1997 led to the Tories winning by only 2,615 from Lib Dem Nina Stimson, yet they still won by 5.6%. Had Labour’s national surge not been so pronounced then the Lib Dems would have won and likely would have held it to this day as they have done in many seats they took for the first time in 1997.

So punters would probably be wise to think that Sir David Amess is going to be the favourite down the bookies. Voters are more likely to leave the Tories for either the lib Dems or UKIP as they are the two parties that are closest ideologically to the Tories than Labour or the Green’s. No doubt many who voted Lib Dem will be unhappy and move to Labour or the Green’s but not everyone will go there and a lot of the protest votes against the Lib Dems will also go to UKIP. So splitting a significant portion of the 2010 Lib Dem vote three ways will dilute any parties hopes of actually taking the seat. It is just basic electoral maths.

The Green Party are highly likely to finish fifth in the constituency, so fifth is quite a long way away from first. I admire his ambition but if I were him, I wouldn’t be going to the tailors for any suit fittings for a new job as an MP. I also want to say that speaking about MP pay rises and bankers bonuses bugs the hell out of me in this respect, MP pay rises aren’t allocated by MPs but by an independent commission so he, even if elected could do nothing about that and as for bankers bonuses, only the banks that are partly owned by the taxpayer can be limited, the rest are independent companies who can pay their staff whatever they like. Bankers bonuses have no effect on nurses pay and vice versa, to link them is lazy politics at best and deceitful at worse.

Realism and politics do not go hand in hand in the blogosphere or amongst many activists. Being starry eyed and projecting hope despite the evidence is the much preferred option. Neither the Southend West nor the Rochford & Southend East constituencies look that exciting at this juncture, plenty of much more juicy seats and and down the land where big swings are possible. To get a big swing you need a disliked incumbent (and/or disliked local party), a big local issue and only one significant opposition where over 50% of the voters are defecting to. This is not the case in Southend in either constituency.

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 10th, 2015 at 3:36 pm

On being a romantic at heart – a rare Take Me Out extra on Looci & Nick…

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Every year I write a blog about the women of Take Me Out. It is a bit of fun that I do because it allows me to write a bit differently from my usual style. I like the show as it is a bit of Saturday night cheese.

Tonight whilst watching I saw Jonathan get a blackout. All thirty women turned off their light and he got no date. There was nothing wrong with him at all. He seemed like a nice guy, not unattractive, but yet all the women decided that didn’t want him. I planned on writing about that as people often ask me why I don’t apply to go on the show because I do the blog etc. and I always say the same thing – there is literally no way that I’d get a date because I’m not an attractive man, my VT introducing me would be, ‘well I’m a bit of boring sod who does naff all with his life but is content with things’ and yeah, couple that with this face *points to his face* oh and not to forget my lack of style, I’d do well to get through two rounds let alone three.

Still then things changed when the next guy came down the lift. Seemed like a nice chap, seemed like a regular sort, loved the fact he was just in his regular clothes and was just being who he was. So then we go through the VT and then Paddy speaks to one of the girls who has kept her light on and she is his ex. Boom. She kept her light on because he was and I quote ‘beautiful inside and out’ – she had dumped him a while ago and as we’d find out he was her last serious relationship. This was genuinely emotional. You could tell there was something still in the air between them. All the other girls bowed out gracefully to let Looci get a date with her ex apart from one girl, Elisha. I thought that was poor form. I said so on twitter. Weirdly she favourited that tweet.

So the guy (Nick) had the choice between his ex and another girl. There was zero doubt in anyone’s mind that he was going to pick Looci and indeed he did and they kissed and I jumped up and fist pumped in joy and I’m not going to lie, I welled up a little bit. These are two people I don’t know from Adam and I never will and yet I was rooting so hard for them to get together. You don’t go on a show like this and keep your light on if you see your ex if you don’t still have serious feelings for them.

If its an ex who is in the past you turn off your light, say you did but say he’s a great guy and anyone would lucky to go on a date with him and move on. She kept her light on. There was a serious chance of romance. Paddy even clearly welled up as he visibly wiped his eyes after they embraced (and seeing Claire – who is fast becoming a favourite – when I say fast – I mean she’s amazing – jumping up and down in sheer delight was just so so cool). It is just a TV show but it brought happiness into two people’s lives. Who knows if they got back together – I hope so that is for sure.

I turned over to watch on +1 just to watch it again and whilst we never saw who his ‘love at first light was’ – if you watch closely and see how to writes on Paddy’s pad, it does very much look as though he writes ‘Looci’ so yes. Just brilliant. Was genuinely happy. A friend said to me that I was a romantic at heart and that might be true (and a surprise to many) but I love happy endings. Like they make me happy that other people can be happy in this world full of horror that we all live in.

I also want to write a brief comment here on how to get a Valentine’s Day card from Looci. She is doing this to raise money for Yorkshire Cat Rescue. All she wants is for a donation of at least £5 within the UK and at least £10 internationally and she’ll send you a personalised Valentine’s Day card. It is for a good cause and you get to receive a Valentine’s Day card from a bloody gorgeous woman. In addition, she will have a half hour Skype date with whoever donates the most by the end of Valentine’s day, and she’ll send you an actual gift.

So to do this then please donate via this link and then send a screenshot of your donation to her e-mail address address along with your address and she’ll get this done for you. For this project her e-mail address is loocicat@gmail.com.

It is all in a good cause so go on folks, donate to Yorkshire Cat Rescue, the more the merrier and you never know, you could have a Skype date with someone who may or may not have made you well up this evening (if you had a heart then you’ll have welled up). I hope she raises lots of money. As a cat person who has always said he wants a ginger kitten when I finally settle down and buy somewhere, cat rescue is in my eyes an extremely worthy charity to give a few notes too.

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 7th, 2015 at 10:34 pm

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On why would TMS hire Kevin Pietersen?

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So I’m reading BBC Sport this morning and an article caught my eye about Kevin Pietersen joining TMS for the World Cup and I shook my head in despair. I have no particular issue with KP but it just goes to show that when it comes to broadcasting, stations often prefer to go with the ‘name’ instead of the person best suited to the job.

When Sky Sports decided to bring in Andrew Strauss for England Test Matches, it was just more of the same. Strauss is a very poor pundit and has not developed at all in the years since he first became part of Sky’s top tier.

KP had a brief go at commentating during the Big Bash. I adored the Big Bash and found the level of cricket and the level of coverage first rate (although the constant promos and discussions for who the Australian cricket player going into the I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here did seem to be flogging that horse one too many times). In a game he he chomping at the bit to get in the booth and after a bit of a batting collapse, he came in before his planned time.

Now the Big Bash had four guest appearances this season from what I saw. Sir Viv, who is an absolute legend and one of the greats of the game has been involved in BBL coverage for a while and whilst he’s great, he’s not a great voice. Andrew Flintoff was involved in the BBL this year and was fantastic and a natural behind the microphone. If Sky wanted to add a younger voice to its team (and kicking out Strauss) then they could do a lot worse than Flintoff. He would be tremendous if involved in the T20. Bumble did a guest stint as well and was typically great. Then we get to KP…

He came in like an over excitable schoolboy giggling at everything he said. Laughing at your own jokes is bad enough but laughing at everything you just say is poor. He was ‘interviewed’ by Ricky Ponting and I think it is fair to say that only one of the two came out with any credit and it wasn’t the English batsman. He circled around issues and never seemed comfortable. It wasn’t car crash TV but it was certainly the low point of the whole coverage of the Big Bash and his performance in the booth was the worst of all the commentators by a significant margin.

I just wonder why TMS (and Sky with Strauss) value the name over the actual quality. Yes of course some pundits can get better with time but TMS has many pundits who can do a good job on radio but they felt the need to get a big name to bring something extra to their coverage. They are wrong. They didn’t. TMS has such a good reputation for putting out excellent coverage of cricket with good play-by-play voices and good pundits.

In the Press Release linked to earlier, they listed some of the names who KP will be joining and they include people who have developed and become very good at punditry. KP never seemed like a natural pundit when he was playing and on the brief occasions I’ve heard him, he hasn’t impressed either. To be good at this job you need to be either insightful, engaging or funny and preferably a good mix of all three. KP isn’t and nor is Andrew Strauss. This is just another case of the value of a name instead of adding quality to the broadcast and for that, the BBC should be disappointed in itself.

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February 4th, 2015 at 3:47 pm

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On…’Let Clegg Be Clegg’

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‘Let Bartlet be Bartlet’ is one of the most famous sayings from the US show The West Wing. The saying becomes a recurring theme throughout the series and it basically means let the president be himself and the politics and public perception be damned. This is obviously a TV show but if you look at the political leaders in the UK and you’ll see that only two of them have any sort of personality that can engage with people and they are Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg. Cameron doesn’t, Miliband doesn’t and Bennett doesn’t. The Lib Dems are in the tank but their biggest weakness is also their greatest strength – Nick Clegg.

We aren’t in 2010 any more, we all know that. The Cleggmania that swept the nation will not happen again, not by a long chalk. However whilst many, many people are completely closed off to the Lib Dems – and Clegg in particular – because of mostly the tuition fees issue and the coalition as a premise when they voted strategically for the best possible Anti-Tory party in 2015, there are people out there whose minds aren’t closed off just yet and who are willing to listen and to get through to those people Nick Clegg has to be himself, warts and all.

I know of many Lib Dems who don’t like him because he took the party into coalition with the Tories and because despite his popularity, the party actually lost seats in 2010. This is just one of the warts of the FPTP electoral system. UKIP and the Green Party will find that out in May. Lots of votes and national vote share means relatively little until you hit a certain mark and neither of those parties will even approach this. Therefore they’ll have to target their resources wisely and fight ground battles in targeted seats, just like the Lib Dems will do this time around (albeit playing defence much more than offence).

Nick Clegg has his pitfalls as do we all, his personality though is not one of them. He is an engaging individual who if let off the leash can possibly help the party not suffer the crushing defeat that most pundits are gleefully predicting.

The Lib Dems are not the choir boys any more. They have held some power in a coalition government national, with all the issues that brings. They will take some blame for things they have done but on the flip side they should also take some credit for positive things that have happened that wouldn’t have happened with a Conservative (or indeed Labour) government. Clegg has been tainted somewhat and he has seemed too comfortable in the coalition for most people but then you look and he helped provide a stable government that has turned the economy around.

Clegg is not the poison that people think he is. Let him off the leash and whilst he’ll not get near the heights of 2010 – certainly not nationally – in the seats where the party have a strong ground game, people are still receptive albeit hesitant. The party have to extol the virtues of being a grown-up party and being able to deal with everything that entails. Many people voted for the party because they were untainted but also many people didn’t vote for the party because they didn’t believe they could make the difficult decisions that a government has to. This issue has been resolved.

May is not going to pretty for the Lib Dems, most pundits and activists know this but it doesn’t have to be that bad. Nick Clegg impressed most reporters with his appearance on The Last Leg that Friday night. It reminded some people that he is human and he got through a difficult interview very well. Whether it will make much of a difference is unlikely but it showed us that the Clegg we liked is still knocking about in there.

There are three growth up parties now and not just the two. Put Clegg, Miliband and Cameron up against one another in a debate form and Miliband will be squeezed. This is part of why the Lib Dems are so desperate that Clegg get on a platform with just Miliband and Cameron. The debates as currently constituted would not favour the Lib Dems at all, they need Clegg to be able to be himself as much as possible and as openly as possible. Clegg’s biggest hope now is for the broadcasters to change their minds (again) or that Cameron bottles it and they empty chair him, which would leave the Lib Dem leader as the only person with government responsibility at the debates, leaving him free to take as much credit as he likes for the good things the coalition has done.

Whatever happens though the Lib Dems are (rightly or wrongly) married to Nick Clegg at this point and need to let him off the leash completely. He is the biggest asset and also the biggest problem. To use a cricket analogy, his best shot is the free flowing cover drive a la David Gower but the best way to get him out is nicking off to slip outside of off stump. He’s going to nick off a fair few times over the course of the General Election campaign so its best to let him try and hit a few cover drives and score a few runs (points) whilst he does so.

Let Clegg Be Clegg.

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 3rd, 2015 at 4:38 pm