The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Vote Green, Get UKIP. What uninformed bull-plop from local Labour bloggers

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A month or so ago Cllr. Ware-Lane wrote the blog post entitled Vote Green get UKIP and I shook my head in despair. It was utter bollocks and he knew it but I thought I would let it pass. I have come to understand that Julian’s knowledge of basic maths and reality isn’t the best. He uses one example where had the Greens not stood a candidate in Kursaal ward then Labour may have won and therefore concludes that if you vote Green then you get UKIP. One example folks. One example.

He decided to ignore other examples of where the maths would have been different had certain other parties not won. For example the January West Leigh by-election. Did we see a plethora of ‘Vote Labour, Get Tory’ blog posts? I don’t think so, even though had Labour not stood a candidate in that by-election then the likelihood is that the Liberal Democrat candidate would have won. This happens everywhere. In every council and in every parliamentary constituency. Certain parties will win or lose not because of the strength of their support but because of how the support against them is spread. If it is focused on one party then there is trouble, if it is spread amongst several parties then there is not. That is FPTP politics folks.

So anyway Matthew Dent weighed in recently on the same topic. Splitting the vote: Vote Green, Get UKIP where he comes to pretty much the same conclusion. That being that voting for the Green Party is pointless in a ward where they have no chance of winning and if they don’t want a UKIP councillor then they should back the party in the best position to stop UKIP. All well and good but Labour don’t do that so why should other parties fall in line?

There is an argument that parties should do reciprocal deals within boroughs to help get the most hated opposition out, whoever they are. In Southend that could mean Labour agreeing to not standing candidates in places like West Leigh, Prittlewell and St. Laurence where they are not winning any soon soon and can only help split the vote in the favour of the Tories and UKIP. In return this could mean Liberal Democrats could choose not to run in places like Kursaal, St. Lukes and Victoria, places where they aren’t winning any time soon. This would help both parties gain councillors but it would also stop potential Labour and Liberal voters in those wards from voting for who they actually want to vote for but is that fair or right?

Cllr. Ware-Lane, himself a West Leigh resident chose to support the Labour candidate unsurprisingly in the West Leigh by-election even though he knew it was a wasted vote and would help ensure the Tories won. Did he deride himself for doing this or did he exercise his democratic choice for voting for the party he wanted to win instead of choosing to back the party most likely of toppling the administration party at the time? I think we know the answer to that and this Vote Green, Get UKIP bollocks is exactly the same but in this instance quoted potentially hurt his party, Labour.

It is an issue with our electoral system but it is what it is and people need to stop moaning about it. The country had the chance to move towards a system that would enable the voter to have more influence on that make-up of their parliament (and no doubt councils would have followed) but they decided that because it was a Lib Dem idea that they didn’t want it. I would bet a fair few quid that if we went to the polls in this UKIP surge era then the vote would be a hell of a lot closer but that ship has sailed for now.

So unless Labour (and other parties) want to do deals borough wide then this is going to be the norm. Parties are going to win with under 50% of the vote and when in all likelihood the majority of those who voted wouldn’t want them to win. As politicians, or activists, or just members of the electorate then we are just going to have to deal with that fact. If people want to go out and vote Green then fair do’s and they shouldn’t be blamed or have it insinuated that their vote is the reason a party like UKIP won Kursaal ward. Most people vote for who they want to vote for and some choose to vote for the party most likely to defeat the party they dislike the most.

In some places Labour voters help get in the Tories or UKIP. In some places Green voters help get in Tories or UKIP. In some places Liberal voters help get in Tories or UKIP. In some places UKIP voters help get in Labour. In some places Tories help the Green party to win. In some places the SNP help the Liberals win. This thing happens everywhere and in every direction. To claim that a vote for the Green party helps UKIP citing one or two examples and ignoring all the other examples from all parties across the nation is just pure politics and not reality and that disappoints me frankly. It is lazy and it is cheap but most importantly it is wrong to make sweeping generalisations based on such minuscule ‘evidence’ and I’d hope for better but sadly I don’t expect it.

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Written by neilmonnery

August 1st, 2014 at 9:14 am

Equality in politics – why are women in politics seen as the end game?

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I have an opinion that more women should be involved and fully engaged in the world of politics. I am also of the opinion that more men should be involved and fully engaged with the world of politics. I think more gay people should be. I think more straight people should be. I think more working class people should be. I think more middle class people should be. I think more people who love Marmite should be. I think more people who loathe Marmite should be. I think you get my point. I want a world where people from all walks or life who have an interest in politics are fully able to get involved and feel as though they fulfill their ambitions and if not, that they at least have the opportunity to do so.

Because you see my view of liberalism is all about equal opportunities for everyone. No matter a persons gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background, financial situation, views on whether exercising is better in the morning or in the evening, all these people should have the chance to do what they want, whether they succeed or not isn’t the end game, the fact they had the chance is. We can’t all be Prime Minister. We can’t all go into space. We can’t all put on the #9 shirt of Portsmouth FC and score a winning goal against the Scummers in an FA Cup Final at Wembley. Life doesn’t work that way but when I came out into this world all of those possibilities were feasible, if maybe a touch unrealistic, but the opportunities were there.

When it comes to politics, the world might not exactly be my oyster but opportunities lay ahead of me. If my reproductive organs were on the inside of my body and not dangling between my legs then those same opportunities would lay ahead of me. Now there is a question, a legitimate question, about whether it is harder for women than men and that is a question that needs to be fully explored but the fact is I don’t think anyone would say that being a woman, in this country, automatically takes away some of those same opportunities.

I saw a petition today that wanted a 50/50 makeup of parliament in terms of gender balance by 2025. I think that is a good target to aspire to but there is only one way to ever get that parity, make 50% of seats solely for women candidates of all parties and the other 50% for men. That is the only way that could ever actually be achieved. I’m not exactly sure this is realistic and nor do I think the public as a whole would support this idea.

I would love to see the House of Commons be more representative of the country as a whole but it doesn’t stop at gender. I think having MPs from all forms of backgrounds is actually a far bigger issue but it is less ‘sexy’ – pardon the pun. I look at the vast majority of MPs and I wonder whether they understand the struggles that effect every day people. The problem is many MPs say one thing but actually do another. It is very much a ‘do as I say and not as I do’ approach to life. TIn fact if I’m being totally honest I think the idea of a career politician is one that rankles.

It is just human nature that the more you are removed from a problem then the less effective you’ll be at recognising such a problem. MPs who have only ever known politics in their adult life will not be as rounded as individuals. For example how can you be the leader of what is traditionally seen as the party of the working classes when you are a multi millionaire and apart from one year as a researcher for a political TV programme and a sabbatical that included lecturing in the States, has only made a living from politics? Not knocking Ed (well I suppose I kinda am) but his knowledge of the real world is vastly limited. I’d expect the leader of the Labour Party to be one who had more of a solid grounding in what the problems were.

Sitting alongside him is a man who went to Harvard in Ed Balls and even Harriet Harman, who has an excellent grounding and has spent significant time in the ‘real world’ before becoming an MP in her early 30s went to a fee paying school. Now I’m not saying that the big three of Labour aren’t the best people for the job (they aren’t but this is not the reason) but for the party of the working man or woman, it could be argued that they don’t fully understand the struggles that people face day in and day out. If Labour are having these problems then you know the other major political parties are having the same.

The problem is how to get these people from different backgrounds who show the spark and enthusiasm to get involved to stick. Making politics more accessible is one of the biggest problems facing the political system in this country. To get elected requires an enormous amount of hard work, money and dedication. Points one and three are probably par for the course and we need to find ways to make the workload more workable for those who have to work regular jobs but money is a big issue.

Everyone moans about the amount that MPs get paid but how are you ever going to attract people to work as an MP for a small salary? I saw a radical left winger say that she thinks all MPs should live off a minimum wage to see what it is really like, she then in turn said that she had many offers to be a PPC. However she has turned of these down because she is making a significant wage elsewhere and doesn’t feel as though being an MP would be financially prudent for her at this juncture considering she has a child. So she wants MPs to take a what, 85% odd pay-cut but she herself doesn’t want to be an MP because she earns more money elsewhere. Sounds like another ‘do as I say and not as I do’ person. Does seem to be a lot of them around doesn’t there?

The answers are not clear but it is clear that the majority of people think as much as politicians as they do bankers or journalists. Lucky I never got into banking really or I really could have gone for the most hated trifecta.

The House of Commons should indeed be a good representation of the country as a whole, how to get there though is far bigger a challenge than just getting more women into politics. That is just one aspect and how that happens is something we all have differing viewpoints on. I have never subscribed to the all women shortlists idea as to me the idea of getting equality via inequality just doesn’t compute. I have been told repeatedly by women (and men) that they want to be treated as equals (rightly) but then some of them think they should get preferential treatment in certain situations. Equality is equality, it isn’t equality for 95% of the time and then inequality for 5%.

So we need to find a way to get more women into politics but we also need to find a way to get the House of Commons look and sound like more of a cross-section of society. This is a big job and one and I see no cohesive plan for reform of how we as a party deal with things, let alone how parliament deals with the stark problem. I would be happy if political parties were funded by the state and prospective MPs had a small budget that they could use – and not just in an election period. Now prospective MPs with money or from a rich local party can spend for years with no limitation apart from in that election period. This doesn’t encourage a level playing field. Would people from less well off backgrounds be more inclined to get engaged and involved if they knew the playing field was level financially? It is a question that I think merits some thought.

Politics at every level is less about ideas and more about money and manpower and that is where politics has gone wrong. The best and the brightest don’t always get in because they are straitjacketed by other reasons. I want the best and the brightest to be in the House of Commons. I want the best and the brightest to be in council chambers up and down the land. People shouldn’t get elected solely because of the logo next to their name on the ballot box. People shouldn’t get elected because they can outspend their opponents. People shouldn’t get elected because they have more manpower.

People should get elected because they are the person the majority of the voters feel will do the best job regardless of anything else. This may seem like pie in the sky stuff but that has to be the end game and until we know exactly what the end game is then how can we plan and prepare to reach it?

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

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Written by neilmonnery

July 15th, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Posted in Politics

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What is Cllr. Flewitt’s end game?

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This morning (well this afternoon really…I would pretend that I was all up early and reading the blogosphere but that really isn’t my style) so anyway, this afternoon I read that Labour’s new young mouthpiece in Southend had composed a blog post entitled MARK FLEWITT, LAPDOG TO ATTACK DOG? (yes he used all caps) and if I’m actually being fair, it is a very pertinent question and one that has reared its head inside of my mind.

Because you see, I like certain things about politics and I hate others. One thing that I truly despise is people who say one thing when in power and when they get removed for whatever reason, suddenly say the complete opposite. Going the other way is something I find less deplorable as we can all be idealistic but sometimes the realisation of power and what you can and can’t do means you can’t do everything that you want to. It is bloody annoying still but going from power to opposition and moaning just rings hollow as my brain just screams, ‘well why didn’t you do that when you had the bloody power then…?

Matthew speaks about the possibility of building homes on a piece of land in St. Laurence, which is probably what Mark should be talking about as a councillor for the ward. However in yesterday’s Echo he also had another entry – a letter to the editor – entitled ‘Sort ghastly Greater Anglia line’ where upon he lambasts the line and tells Southend Council that they need to be on the side of the Greater Anglia commuter as they face frequent delays, old rolling stock and high price increases.

Now let me just double check something here, Cllr. Flewitt is a Tory councillor, right? The Tories have run Southend Council for all but what, six or so weeks of his 10+ year tenure on the council? What the fucking hell did he do for the Greater Anglia line commuters in the ten years when he had influence on the side of the majority and ruling parties? I’m guessing not a great deal considering he’s saying just how shit it is now and I’m guessing the quality of the line hasn’t suddenly plundered since May 23. The line has long been the poor cousin of the old Misery Line as c2c really has invested and will continue to do so. The Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria line certainly hasn’t seen such investment.

So whilst Cllr. Flewitt makes what is in fact a valid point, the fact he has wrapped it up in a shot at Southend Council leaves me shaking my head in despair. Why didn’t he and his fellow Tory councillors do something about it in their ten years they had with him as part of the administration if he felt so strongly about it? It is all well and good telling the council they should look at the line (fair comment) but when you’ve had ten years involved with the organisation who could help sort it and you’ve seemingly done bugger all then your words ring hollow. It galls me that politicians do this – and Cllr. Flewitt isn’t the only one, he isn’t the first and won’t be the last and lets be blunt, politicians from all parties do it and it stinks.

Most of the more vocal and well known Tory councillors have either left or been removed by the electorate. It is probably fair to say that Cllr. Flewitt is now the most vocal member they have left in terms of name recognition and media presence. It does seem as though he is setting himself up to be the voice of the opposition but I personally feel as though he should focus his critique and time on things that he didn’t have influence over for the past ten years (i.e. things the new administration are doing that the Tories didn’t and things they continue to disagree with) and not just to make political capital out of things that he could have influenced for the past ten years but for whatever reason, chose not to.

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Written by neilmonnery

July 3rd, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Posted in Politics

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Ipsos Mori June Issues – Immigration tops the economy for the first time

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Oh people. How you make me despair. The economy for the first time in recent history is not top of the list of issues that people think are effectively the UK (immigration has tied with the economy before) as immigration now has a sensational six-point lead in the latest Ipsos Mori issue index.

Ipsos Mori June Index

June Issues Index

This is undoubtedly due in part to the European elections and the amount of air time that UKIP have been getting. The more rubbish they spew the more people believe it and therefore the more airtime they get and therefore more people believe it and so on. It just goes on and on and the media’s determination to build up UKIP has led to more people worrying about our immigration policy than how the economy is doing. Just how backward is that?

I know on one hand you could argue that this is good news for the coalition parties, people aren’t worrying about the economy as much and therefore it gives credence to why the coalition formed in the first place. If come polling day in 2015 the economy is bouncing back nicely, unemployment going down and job creation going up then it is likely that both parties can look in the mirror and think they’ve done a good job.

Problem though is that if this polling data is accurate then people care more about immigration policy and I think it is fair to say that these people aren’t the type of people that are worried that our borders aren’t open enough. The isolationists are starting to makes their voices heard. These are the people that blame foreigners for their own problems instead of actually finding the problem. Do I blame foreigners for the fact I’m unattractive to the female species? No, no I don’t. Are foreign men coming over here and wooing females that I would have had a chance with? I doubt it. I’m just not an attractive man. Of course at this point I’m kinda taking the mick but I think you get my point (although my attractiveness and lack of it has been well researched and backed up by copious amounts of evidence).

People are worried about foreign people coming over here and abusing our benefits system. You know what, some do. You know who also abuses the benefits system? British people. Is it ok that British people abuse the benefits systems? Do they have more rights to abuse it because they were born here? Nigel Farage abuses the expenses system at the European Parliament and he is lauded for it. Other people abuse the expenses system in Parliament and they go to jail and the public derides them. It doesn’t make sense. It is like there is one rule for one set of people and one for another. It is a joke. It goes against the basic principle that we are all equal.

Ding, Ding, Ding – we have a winner! What’s this? You have won the award for hitting the nail on the head of the UKIP voter – they believe that we are not all created equal. People that are different should not have the same rights, when I say people who are different, what I really mean is people who do not share their philosophies and thought processes with. Of course not everybody that votes UKIP believes that but it is a general point.

Obviously I have a different viewpoint. For example the Ipsos Mori issues index has the NHS as the fourth largest issue facing the country today. You know another thing? If UKIP had its way and pulled us out of Europe and basically closed our borders then the NHS would collapse. There are so many EU and non-EU staff within the NHS that we should be eternally grateful that they choose to come over here and provide vital care for us. If I am in a traffic accident then I don’t care what nationality the doctors and nurses are and nor should anyone else. Caring about that is about as flat out dumb as you can get but heck people do. It beggars belief.

The point though is the media are fanning the flames. The majority of people in this country care mostly about the economy. I know this not because I’m spoken to every single person in the land but because it is sound logic. If people have a job and have money then they can afford food and a roof over their heads. That always has to be the first thing on the minds of any person. Whether foreigners are working here or claiming benefits here should never ever be the most important issue. Never.

This data doesn’t shock me although it does sadden me. The issues of the EU and immigration were always going to rise the more people heard from UKIP. The more people get told that something is a problem then the more they will believe it. I just hope the other parties don’t just lurch to the right because of this type of data. I fear that at least two of the parties will and that in itself will fan the flames even more. The more people get told something is a problem the more they will believe it and if UKIP, Conservatives and Labour all chase these votes then boy we are in for a depressing feeling in this country for many years to come.

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Written by neilmonnery

June 27th, 2014 at 11:44 am

Posted in Politics

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Nick Clegg & Ed Miliband photographed with a copy of The Sun – cue over the top reactions across the board

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Holy crap. Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband have been photographed with a copy of the countries most popular newspaper. Burn them both at the stake now. I mean seriously. Anyone who does that is surely not capable of representing the country. Sometimes politicos live in this ridiculous political bubble where we think we are right and that those who disagree with us are just plain wrong. That is part of politics that I truly despise.

Ed Miliband was snapped with a copy of the paper and got an attack from the leader of the Labour group on Liverpool Council. No surprise and probably fair game. Ed is not a stupid man and he knew that photograph would go down like a lead balloon and would piss off Labour voters in Liverpool. Here is the thing though, they still aren’t voting for anyone else so he can piss them off with no real consequences. Apparently he is ‘very very sorry’‘ for both endorsing the newspaper and being photographed with it. Why should he be? He is the leader of a national party, not just a localised party in an area that rightly despises the newspaper. More people who buy The Sun vote than any other newspaper. It is a big potential electorate for him and for the other party leaders.

The Green Party tweeted out a photo of Miliband, Cameron and Clegg endorsing the newspaper and saying that there was another way and that people should join the party based on the fact they hadn’t been photographed with a copy of The Sun nor seemingly endorsed it. Are they for fucking real? Seriously Green Party? What type of person bases their vote let alone membership of a political party based solely on their newspaper of choice? I’ll give you the answer to that question because I’m a kind fellow – a numpty – an absolute numpty. Surely people who join political parties have a wider scope of reasoning to do so that the newspapers that political leaders are photographed with? I didn’t see Nigel Farage endorsing The Sun yesterday – does that mean everyone should join them too? Idiots.

Ok I got sidetracked a bit there. Now to attack my own lot *cracks knuckles* – yet again we had the whole Page 3 issue come up on Lib Dem Voice with regards to this. I’m not surprised. When I saw it pop up on my twitter timeline I also knew exactly who the author was and what they were writing about. I also knew exactly how the comment string would go. If there is something that will unite liberals it will be an air of superiority as depressing as that sounds – we all know it is true.

So on to the article itself. Nick shouldn’t have endorsed The Sun’s England Football Team Special Edition because of boobs. Yes those two things that protrude from a woman’s chest to generate milk for babies is at the crux of this. Boobs should not be seen on page three of a national newspaper. Everyone knows my views on this, if you don’t like it then don’t buy it. The women are free to pose for the newspaper if they so desire. It is a free country. This is the type of issue where liberalism and equality come to blows in the eyes of some people. Still it isn’t really the issue today and I have written about it so many times and been told that because a) I don’t have milk producing organs on my chest and b) I’m not a parent means that I have two strikes against my name and have no standing to have an opinion on it. I do love liberals.

Gareth Epps in the comments said, ‘It is more than ‘not just a good idea’, it is insensitive, politically damaging and stupid beyond belief. Absolutely a ‘heads must roll’ moment.. Politically damaging? So showing support for the countries football team and posing with the most popular daily publication in the land is politically damaging? Stupid beyond belief? Do these people live in the same world that I do?

You see this goes back to the whole bubble issue. The political bubble is very much something that politicians are tainted with by members of the public but lets be honest – plenty of politicos are in the same boat. Liberals are probably the worst in our air of moral superiority. We pronounce this freedom for individuals to live their lives as they please but the moment someone decides to do so that is against one of our opinions we turn on them. This isn’t just about this issue but it is something I have noted for many years.

Personally I don’t buy The Sun. I don’t read it online. However I don’t care who does or doesn’t. I don’t judge people on their choice of newspaper. I used to buy the Daily Star for the train because it was cheap and easy to read. Do I think I should be judged because of that? People will say that I am but one man and no-one cares what newspaper I buy but Nick Clegg is the leader of a political party and should be more sensitive. Liberals don’t like The Sun and therefore he shouldn’t have anything to do with them. Yey 18% of people who identified as readers of The Sun in 2010 voted for the Liberal Democrats – doesn’t our leader represent those people as well as those of us who don’t buy The Sun?

In 2005 Labour were +10% compared to the Tories amongst readers of The Sun but in 2010 they were -15%. They is a 25% swing within five years amongst a readership of just over 3million at the time. This is why – rightly or wrongly – The Sun is important. Should Nick (or Ed) be lambasted for posing with a copy of The Sun? No way, no how. Yes they’ll piss off many people who don’t buy The Sun but many people do. On the doorsteps of everywhere except Liverpool will who posed for a picture with The Sun be an issue on the doorstep above the economy, immigration, the NHS, crime, green issues, housing, banking etc…? Of course it won’t.

So politicos it is time to get our heads out of our own arses and realise that a photograph of a political leader with the most popular newspaper in the country is not a big issue. We like to think it is but it really isn’t. The time when someone solely bases their vote or their opinion based on one photograph is a time that scares me. I like to think that humans have the capacity to use their brains and I give them the credit for doing so. If some believe that this photograph solely will crush either Ed or Nick in the polls or at the ballot box then I am disappointed that those people have such little faith in the people of this country.

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Written by neilmonnery

June 13th, 2014 at 11:25 am

Posted in Politics

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When is a social media comment fair game for the political blogosphere?

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In April a UKIP candidate for election in Southend posted on his Facebook that he was a bit pissed off and intended to move back to Cambridge in August. A month later and he won election to Southend Council. He has subsequently deleted the Facebook post but for some reason is is providing a bit of a stir and I feel compelled to defend the candidate.

Like others – I had seen the post before the election. I didn’t feel compelled to blog on it because I didn’t feel it was a story that needed to be written. It isn’t as though I thought he was only a paper candidate so wouldn’t win, as those who spoke to me in the run-up to the elections, I thought UKIP would make significant gains across the borough even if they didn’t campaign hard. The national protest vote was there and coupled with the European elections then it felt as though UKIP were going to have a good day. I just felt as though it wasn’t fair to write a story based solely on a Facebook comment – and more importantly now he is a councillor – I still don’t.

Social media is a strange beast. We all post things that taken out of context can be used against us at a later date. That just seems the way of the world. Now pointing out if someone has racist tendencies or something similar is probably fair game for your political blogger. A UKIP candidate for Westborough certainly tweeted some shall we say ‘interesting’ comments a long time before he was selected as a candidate. I certainly question whether this is fair game but it probably is as it shows a history of a person. I will say though that people trawling through years of someone’s tweets shows quite some desperation. I suppose this is one thing about the lack of Lib Dem social media presence locally – it is harder for us to trip up or have comments misconstrued.

So anyway back to this particular case. A candidate (who was in reality a paper candidate) was pissed off with someone (or a selection of people) and stated that he wanted to move on. That happens but do you know what else happens? Things change. For example it is not exactly a secret that I am looking to move out of Southend. I am in the financial position now where I want to get on the property ladder and the cost of purchasing in Southend doesn’t really add up for me.

I work from home and can move either to a cheaper area of the country or I can move back down south where I have family and friends for a similar amount to what I could afford here. Still though things can change. I may stay in Southend, it is hard to predict the future. Had for example I stood and won election then I would see that as a reason to commit to the area for four years. I suspect the councillor in question may have similar feelings. This happens in every election, a paper candidate suddenly wins from nowhere and they have the choice of whether to get stuck in or whether to quietly quit within a few months. I don’t know this man from Adam but I have seen nothing to suggest that he is going to walk away now that he has been elected and I really question whether bringing up something he said before the situation changed is fair.

We all make decisions in our lives based on the facts we have at our disposal at the time. If nothing changes in my life then when I buy it will not be in Southend. However if something significant changed in my life then maybe Southend will continue being my home, who knows? Cllr. Davies may not share my political values to any significant degree but I don’t think that there should be any traction about a comment he made on Facebook two months ago that doesn’t effect anyone. Now if he did indeed go through with moving to Cambridge then it would be a story and certainly something the other parties could use to show that KIP candidates may not be committed but until that point, I think it should be off limits.

Being involved in the political blogosphere often leads to decisions to be made about what to write and what is fair comment and what isn’t. There is no question of intrusion of privacy here as it was a public comment on his Facebook but it is fair to write about it? I think my PoV is clear. My Facebook is private and set to friends only – and I even filter people out of statuses should I feel that I would prefer they not know what I am thinking. My twitter however is totally public and whenever I think about writing something that could be misconstrued then I sit there and read it and have a good think about it before I post it. I do the same when writing on this here blog.

I think we should just sit back and see what happens with regards to Cllr. Davies. I think it would be smart for him to issue a Press Release or write a letter to the editor of the Echo to clarify his position, certainly if he is planning on sticking it out. That should end any speculation that may build up. Whether he needs to or whether he should feel compelled to is another matter but once the bandwagon has started rolling then it might be wise to put the brakes on it as soon as possible but I do feel for him that his comments have resulted in several blog posts on the matter that seem to attack him on the matter, which I feel is unfair.

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Written by neilmonnery

June 10th, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Politics

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Lib Dems set to be part of coalition to run Southend Council

with 2 comments

Losing seats and gaining power. It reminds me of the 2010 General Election. The Lib Dems lost four seats whilst only holding one last week as the voters spectacularly said they weren’t enamoured with the party. Yet according to reports in the local rag (and lets be honest logic) they will form a rainbow coalition with Labour and the Independents to run Southend Council for the next twelve months.

I wrote earlier this week that the voters had voted positively for Labour and UKIP and whilst the Tories lost seven seats, they still got the most votes across the town and therefore these parties would represent the views of the voters of Southend to the best degree. Still doing a deal involving these parties was always going to be problematic due to the clear ideological differences between the Tories and Labour and the inexperience and relative unknowns of the new UKIP councillors. I fully acknowledge this but felt it would sum up the views of the voters.

So the Independents, Labour and the Lib Dems altogether. On paper it can clearly work but mathematically it gives them a majority of just one and this is where I have little faith. I don’t feel any Labour members nor Lib Dem members would walk away from their parties but the independents are meant to be just that – independent – and as such have a variety of different politics across their group.

Keeping that band of twelve together without one of them deciding that enough is enough and they remove themselves from the group (like Dr. Vel did) will take some doing. A majority of one is precarious at the best of times but when it is a three-way coalition with one of the three being a band of independents with views across the political spectrum from socialist through liberal to right-wing Tories. If they stay together through the budget then huge kudos.

The electoral maths were really not helpful and this might be the best option available. I honestly don’t know. If the three run the council well over the next year then it will be a huge fillip and will help them politically. For the Lib Dems they do not face up to the independents nor Labour in any obvious target seat in 2015, so if the council does good work then seats such as Blenheim Park, Prittlewell and maybe even St. Laurence will be back into play. For the independents and Labour, both parties play more in the east of the borough where they face up against the Tories in most places and UKIP in one of two. Good governance will help them and with Cllr. Ian Gilbert’s run to win a seat in Westminster as well.

If this deal does go ahead as reported then Cllr. Woodley would become leader and the three parties (well two parties and one group) will have a year to pretty much make or break their political ambitions in Southend for the next few years. If they do well and stop the seawall, stop the closures of care homes as well as restoring paid staff to all libraries then I have little doubt they’ll be popular. If they are unable to find the money for the latter two then it will be tough.

The UKIP leader feels that his party and councillors have been unjustly shutout of any potential coalition and they may have a point but that’s politics. Had UKIP had won one more seat (probably Victoria) then they would be in a much better position due to that bone that I bang one about – electoral maths. Had the Tories won Leigh from the Lib Dems then the same could be said. Still the maths and makeup of the chamber are what they are and UKIP could be shutout by this proposed coalition. I wonder if they regret their pact with the independent group now?

Still here we are. It looks like the Tories are going to sit on the sidelines for a year and it is over to the Independents, Labour and the Lib Dems to show that they can run the town better than the Tories did. I hope that they can because if they don’t then it is very possible that UKIP will be the kingmakers next year and personally I would prefer this not to happen.

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Written by neilmonnery

May 29th, 2014 at 11:05 am

It is time for Labour to step up and put Southend above politics

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Oh maths, electoral maths, it has been a while since we have met but the future of Southend is up for grabs and it is time to turn to you to work out what is feasible. The Tories went down big on Thursday night and unsurprisingly lost the majority in the Civic Centre. So the big question is now, ‘who will run Southend Council?’ and the realistic possibilities bring about a rather unlikely coalition.

The composition of the chamber is as follow with the number to yet a majority at 26:

19 Conservative
12 Independent Group
9 Labour
5 Liberal Democrat
5 UKIP
1 Independent Independent (yes that is as funny as it sounds)

So the easiest answer is the Tories do a deal with the independent group. 31 seats. Simple. End of blog. But wait there are two issues at play here, John Lamb has already stated that he won’t work with ‘some independents’ and also that loose UKIP/Independent alliance that meant they didn’t challenge each other in any seat across Southend, does that alliance go as far as becoming a package deal in coalition talks? To answer that then the leaders would need to speak but both have hilariously denied there was any form of alliance and it just happened to be coincidence that they didn’t stand against each other, yeah and its a coincidence that women run away from me when I start talking about my care bear collection that live on the headboard of my bed, get real people.

So lets for now say that a Tory/Indy deal is problematic.

Next up is the juicy one and if we are being 100% non-partisan then what would make the most sense for the people of Southend – a Tory/Labour coalition. This results in 28 seats of the 51 and would provide the stability that Southend needs at this point when budget squeezes are making budgets harder and harder to put together. Of course there is one huge problem and that is Labour would not want to go into coalition with the Tories politically nor philosophically.

I suspect the Tories would do the deal as they are rather pragmatic and know that a two party coalition is more likely to hold together than any potential three-way. Labour though would have to stop throwing rocks at the council and would have to deal with the real issues of power and taking the tough decisions is a difficult climate for local councils, are they ready for that?

The local rag on the front page yesterday said that an Independent, Labour and Lib Dem three-way was the most likely outcome. That would be tough to do. I firmly believe that the voters of Southend spectacularly rejected the Liberal Democrats last Thursday and therefore they should not be part of any ruling coalition on principle unless there really was no alternative. Also Labour have been more vitriolic towards the Lib Dems than any other party and working with them would be at best an uneasy truce and I’m not sure the Lib Dem five would back Ron Woodley as leader of any coalition considering we’ve abstained on this issue before (note to Lib Dem councillors – abstaining is weak).

I think the Lib Dems are out of this and this of course depends on whether this Indy/UKIP alliance goes forward beyond last Thursday. If it does then an Independent, Labour, UKIP coalition would achieve the same goal mathematically. We can pretty much take it as fact that the Independent group would work with UKIP and those parties could gain control of the chamber if Labour follow them.

The Tories and the Lib Dems do not have enough seats to form a deal on that front, even with Dr. Vel and would need in all likelihood the Thorpe three to go with them. It doesn’t seem practical and nor would it be right that the two parties that were rejected by the electorate form a coalition.

There are only two coalitions that make sense mathematically and would seemingly form a cohesive group of councillors who could lead Southend and both involve the Labour party. One is a straight up coalition with the Tories and the second is a coalition with the Independent Group and UKIP.

So it is time for the nine Labour councillors to decide whether they are prepared to put politics aside for the good of Southend or whether politics comes first. If they want a better Southend then it is time for them to step up and form one of these two coalitions. If they decide that they would rather sit on the side in opposition and throw rocks at whoever leads the council then it would be disappointing and disheartening, albeit not surprising that they put ideology and politics first and the betterment of the people of Southend second.

I implore Cllr. Ian Gilbert and his team of councillors to do one of the two deals above. Swallow your pride and work with either the Tories or the Indy/UKIP alliance and put Southend first. If you don’t then the door is wide open for the independent group and UKIP to gain enough to win an outright majority in 2015 and that is something that I personally would not like to see.

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Written by neilmonnery

May 27th, 2014 at 1:47 pm

A tale of the type of voter the Lib Dems need to speak to

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So the past few days have been even more disappointing than my private life. I know you didn’t think it was possible but returning one councillor in Southend whilst the UKIP took five seats in the Civic Centre coupled with only one MEP showed that the countries (and Southend’s) appetite for Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats is not shall we say…on the rise.

However this isn’t the time to panic and nor is it the time to either change our leader or run away from the coalition. This is the time for us to not look at ourselves or our policies, but to look at how we can get people to both listen to us to believe in us once again.

Let me tell a story about my family. I was brought up in an Anti-Tory home. I was brought up to believe that they were the political devil. I suspect I wasn’t alone in this regard. Therefore the voting record in our household was quite simply vote for whoever had the best chance to beat the Tory. The sad fact though is that as a young person we only ever lived in an area with a safe Tory MP. In 1997 though Dr. Peter Brand won the Isle of Wight for the Lib Dems, sadly he was not a good constituency MP and he would lose in 2001 and ever since my local MP has been of the blue persuasion.

I knew of my brothers and younger of my two elder sisters political beliefs (both LD) and my mum was always left leaning but would vote on the Anti-Tory ticket. The one person I didn’t know about was my eldest sister. Well we spoke about this last night and I think she is a fantastic example of the type of person that we need to be speaking to as a party. She votes on the Anti-Tory ticket, where she lives that means Lib Dem. She was very angry with Nick Clegg for going into coalition with the Tories and wasn’t sure if she could bring herself to vote for his party again. On Thursday she voted Liberal Democrat.

Why?

She came to the conclusion that in 2010 the Lib Dems really didn’t have much choice but to go into coalition. The electoral maths didn’t add up for a Lib/Lab coalition and to get any form of left-sided coalition to work, it would need the help of all the minor parties and that realistically that wasn’t feasible. She also decided that she preferred the Lib Dems to be curbing the right-wing of the Tory party instead of letting them run wild. She can see the economy picking up and business at her place of employment doing ok. So whilst she was angry that Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems helped keep the Tories in power, she could see that the only other option was for a second General Election where the Tories would have likely won a majority and that was a worse idea in her mind.

My eldest sister isn’t what you’d call overtly political but she reads the newspaper and watches the news, she’d what you’d probably call the average voter, unlike me who reads political blogs, watches political TV all the time etc. and yet she could see that given the options – having the Lib Dems in a coalition was the best way forward given the alternatives.

My sister is exactly the type of person that whilst angry, could still be receptive to the party. She has no problems with EU nationals working in her place of employment. She can see the benefits of freedom of movement and trade across the EU, she probably isn’t what you’d call a passionate European but thinks that the pros outweigh the cons. She is someone who is essentially an Anti-Tory but who can understand that the real world sometimes beats out ideology and when it does, you go for the best option available.

There is no doubt that she would have preferred a Lib/Lab coalition, as would have I but sadly the maths didn’t allow that to happen. I suspect had Gordon Brown not called Gillian Duffy a bigot that the maths would probably have allowed that coalition to form. Alas we shall never know.

Plenty of people are angry and I won’t lie when I say plenty will just not listen any more. However many still will and many will begrudgingly acknowledge that what happened in 2010 was the best option available. They may not have liked it but when given the realistic options available then they start to understand why it happened and that the Lib Dems didn’t just sell their soul for ministerial cars as the lazy rhetoric dictates.

As a party and as activists we need to decide whether to embrace what the national party are doing or not. In some areas of the country activists seem embarrassed by the national party and in others they are proud of the rise in the tax threshold, the pupil premium, the triple lock in pensions etc. – it just seems there is no cohesive strategy and that it is left to local parties, who are often split themselves on the coalition and how to handle it to decide how to campaign. This seems like a mistake and doesn’t lead to a clear vision of what the Lib Dems stand for.

Until we decide on what our clear vision is and everyone is on board I fear that what we say won’t get through. However I definitely feel that once everyone is on board and sings from the same hymn sheet then people will listen.

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Written by neilmonnery

May 26th, 2014 at 11:30 am

Posted in Politics

Tagged with , ,

D.C. Lobbyist pushing for a homophobic bill that would ban gay professional athletes in the USA

with one comment

Well that isn’t a blog post title I ever expected to write.

Every so often I get Press Releases via the blog. In recent weeks I have started to get quite a lot. I usually scan read them and then do nothing with them. I’m quite busy at the moment working on two large projects outside of work, firstly the locals elections and secondly my weight. When you are working out for two hours a day then your free time suddenly dissipates rather quickly.

So anyway I got a Press Release this afternoon entitled, ‘DC Lobbyist Boycott of Visa, Rams after Michael Sam drafted‘ and my eyes focused sharply. For those who don’t know who Michael Sam is, in short he was a very good college football player in the States who came out as gay earlier this year. He finished college and was eligible for the NFL draft. He was a fringe prospect and no-one knew if he would get selected but with just seven picks left in the draft the St. Louis Rams drafted him and he is the first openly gay player in the NFL. He celebrated getting drafted by kissing his boyfriend live on national TV. It was a deeply important cultural moment.

Now my e-mail thought it was a scam so I did some googling and you know what, it wasn’t and it isn’t. In February he was widely reported to be working on this bill and with Michael Sam getting drafted he is trying to generate publicity again. Michael Sam signed an endorsement deal with Visa and the lobbyist believes that people should boycott the company for being associated with a gay athlete.

The following is from his PR release that for some reason found its way to me – yes a liberal blogger – because I’d really write about it in a positive light for him *rolls eyes*

Visa and the Rams will learn that when you trample the Christian community and Christian values, there will be a terrible financial price to pay. Openly gay football players send a terrible message to our youth about morality. Somebody needs to step up because the moral fiber of the nation is eroding.

You fucking what?

First of all learn how to spell fibre American people – if you are going to pretend you use the English language then at least learn how to spell it correctly. Secondly and probably more importantly – what the hell is this man on? I was brought up in a Christian household and I am pretty sure that Christian’s are taught to be a tolerant people. When I read garbage like this then I just shake my head and wonder if there really was a God then how would he (or she or it) like seeing people being persecuted in his/her/its name?

So anyway on to the proposed bill that he is trying to get support for – you can read it in full here but for those too lazy to click on the link then here is the first section of the bill:

Section 1. The National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League and all teams thereof shall hereby be prohibited from employing players who are homosexual. This provision shall apply only in cases where a player has openly declared himself to be a homosexual.

So yes, if you are secretly gay then that is fine but anyone who is open about their sexuality should be blocked from earning a living in any of the listed professional sports leagues. This is in his opinion to stop young people growing up and seeing and hearing about practicing homosexuals in professional sports. What rock did this buffoon crawl from?

Young people should be taught to treat everyone as the same. If God does exist then he/she/it created us all and that includes gay people. I’m pretty positive that if this is the case then gay people weren’t created to give non gay people a group of people to persecute. Young people being exposed to gay people doesn’t damage the moral fibre of society, anyone who thinks that this is the case is a grade A moron.

The sooner that the likes of Jack Burkman are castigated for their points of view then the better society as a whole will be. Jack Burkman is no way shape or form speaks for the Christian community and believing that he does is nearly as galling as what he says.

Michael Sam coming out and having to bare the brunt of this type of homophobic abuse is courageous is the extreme. I hope he will be a trendsetter and I am sure that the United States of America as a whole will support him. Sadly there are not so insignificant pockets who won’t and by all means we aren’t exactly the most tolerant society over here in the UK but I’m not sure the public as a whole would have any stomach for banning gay people from any form of life.

I just felt that I had to write something about it as I couldn’t stomach the fact that the Press Release got sent to me. I hope that his efforts go unrewarded and I have no doubt that even if he got enough sponsors to get the bill debated that it would never gain the traction or support it would need to get passed into law but it makes me deflated that people still think persecuting fellow human beings in the name of Christianity is acceptable behavior.

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Written by neilmonnery

May 13th, 2014 at 4:43 pm