The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Labour hatch ‘secret (but very public) plan’ to unseat Nick Clegg in 2015′ aren’t they cute?

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It is a bit like your granddad telling you about his plan for how he’s going to woo Katy Perry or your old man talking about how he’s still ready and able if Roy Hodgson calls on him for the World Cup squad. We all have dreams and we certainly all have daydreams but the thought of Labour beating the Lib Dems in Nick Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam is fanciful at best, at worst it is a waste of resources and a short-term PR exercise.

Like most of the new breed of activist, I’m a believer in electoral math, or as I’m English I should say maths. National polling is all well and nice but elections are won and lost in the vast majority of cases due to what is happening on the ground. We are seeing this more and more and many people still cling on to national polling as a good indicator of what is going to happen at elections, heck I’ve seen people say that national polls dictate what happens in parish town elections, I know, madness.

So anyway on to Sheffield Hallam, a seat the Lib Dems have held since the 1997 collapse of the Tories and John Major’s exit. Every General Election since (and including) that one, the Lib Dems have won going away. As it stands it is the third safest Liberal Democrat seat in the land. It isn’t a target seat for Labour and whilst I can’t say never will be, it certainly won’t be for a long, long, long time. The area is broadly liberal and social conservative, not exactly the home of people who embrace Labour.

Now of course the national trend on the Lib Dems and certainly Nick Clegg is negative, quelle surprise. I won’t sit here and type that the country love Nick Clegg and his party, because that would be wide of the mark. The party have hemorrhaged votes and support in the past four odd years but that has come primarily in areas that weren’t natural Lib Dem territory. People and areas that have been respective to the party for many years have seen the drop-off being far less.

Moving on to Sheffield Hallam itself, it has a university, students loved Nick Clegg, students now don’t love Nick Clegg, that means Nick Clegg will lose a seat where there are lots of students, that is the lazy thought process. Now I haven’t checked how many students are enrolled at Sheffield Hallam, far less those who have got their vote at their university home instead of the parental home, far less those who actually bothered to vote in 2015, but if all of these people voted LD and now switch their allegiance to Labour, will that be enough to overcome the 19,000 deficit they had in 2010? Somehow I doubt it.

Now it is true that others will have drifted away, so lets look at how the councillors in this seat are doing. Well they are still doing rather well, in 2012 they received just shy of 50% of the vote, even in 2011, which was probably the Lib Dems bottoming out, they got over 44% of the vote. Labour were 11% shy and last time out they were 20% shy. Yes local elections and national elections are different and there will be those that support Lib Dems locally but won’t nationally but enough to overturn such a large deficit?

libdempressofficesheffieldhallam

Lastly – and this is the biggest issue – if the Lib Dems and Nick Clegg lose in Sheffield Hallam in 2015, and that is a huge if but we’ll play the game. They’ll lose it to the Conservative party and not the Labour party. The last time Labour won this seat? It hasn’t happened yet – in history. The area just isn’t receptive to Labour and they will not win. It was Tory all the way through its history bar a 1916 by-election until the Lib Dems came in and built a power-base locally.

The whole issue of Labour unseating Nick Clegg in Sheffield Hallam is just the delusions of a madman. It won’t happen. No matter how much you say it will and how hard you are going to try, it just won’t happen. History tells you that, polling tells you that, demographics tells you that, there is nothing that tells you a win there is possible in any way whatsoever. The only thing this story does is publicly say that Labour are still anti Lib Dem and not give an excuse for those Labour voters who have come across from the Lib Dems to go back. They want no public softening of their approach to the Lib Dems.

This whole story is quite simply a short-term PR stunt. If they fail to win Sheffield Hallam and get egg on their face then they won’t care because this story will be consigned to the annals of election history quite swiftly after the 2015 General Election. They want to show the electorate how much they dislike Nick Clegg and maybe even get the party to pour in extra resources themselves in the seat. The fact of the matter is Labour’s chances of winning Sheffield Hallam are identical to me winning the EuroMillions tonight, I suppose in that case I should at least buy a ticket…

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February 18th, 2014 at 11:18 am

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The bad name of the Liberal Democrats

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Ah the Lib Dems. The sandal wearing, beard loving, irrelevance of a political party. When Millwall chanted ‘no-one likes us, no-one likes us, we don’t care’ they did so as a badge of honour. For the Lib Dems it was all very different, it was ‘no-one worries about us, no-one particularly dislikes us, no-one cares’ as the party bumbled along being relatively popular at local level across the country but when it came to national governance, people wanted to see the two big parties battle it out. There was no third way.

Then things changed.

In the space of a few weeks the Liberal Democrats suddenly became relevant and when they did so they got tarred with a big brush, the big brush of disappointment and that stain is one we find hardest to cope with.

The long and short of it is as we all know, a significant proportion of people who voted for the Lib Dems in 2010 nationally did so as a bit of a protest vote. They public were not convinced about Gordon Brown and Labour, nor were they enthused by David Cameron and the Conservatives. They looked for that third way and the fresh faced Nick Clegg provided that hope and aspiration that things could be different.

The thing is deep down the likelihood of things being different because the party were never going to either win a majority in the House of Commons and nor were they going to be the largest party in any governing coalition. The party could only prop up a Tory or Labour led government or sit in opposition. In essence they couldn’t ever be the party that people hoped they would be after 2010 because whatever way they went they were stuffed. Either they propped up an unpopular party or they showed they didn’t have the cojones for government. A lose/lose situation.

Why am I bringing this up today?

Well I read this piece entitled I am not a “Liberal Democrat” and it sums up the problems that, we as activists, and the party in general face. The good, unsullied name of the Liberal Democrats is now not so pristine and that is quite the understatement. A lot of people are angry that the Lib Dems didn’t change everything when they became the junior member in a coalition, a lot of people are just angry and aren’t exactly sure why.

The thing is, more people sit in the ground occupied by the Liberal Democrats on the political spectrum than any other political party. If people voted solely on ideological principles then the Lib Dems would be the ones to beat, but people don’t do that. They vote based on a multitude of things including trust, who they like/dislike personally, policies, ideologies, tactically, historically, I could go on and on but ideology has been pushed further and further down this list as the years and decades have gone by.

Now, in an age where people can learn more about the people on a ballot paper and the parties they represent, people actually learn less. The electorate are not as switched on as they were in the past. Now it is a lot to do with personalities and not policies and that brings us to the Nick Clegg issue. Nick Clegg is not toxic but his name certainly isn’t exactly helping the situation. He might actually be doing a pretty good job of steering the Lib Dem Westminster ship but if people refuse to listen to someone then what can you do? I am positive that there are people out there who would disagree with Nick Clegg if he did everything they wanted from a politician, quite simply because of who he is.

So that leads me to wonder what the best way forward is, not for the party per se for members of the Lib Dems to not feel as though they’ve killed puppies and kittens for fun. I speak to people who talk about the Lib Dems with more disdain than they would talk about murderers, I wish I was joking but it sometimes just feels that way.

The fact is that more people sit in the centre ground of the political spectrum than do any other and yet that advantage doesn’t equate to people going out and voting for the party that sits in their ideological spectrum. That is the biggest problem the party faces today. Nick Clegg isn’t exactly an asset but until we can get people to vote for policies and vision first and foremost above personalities, then we will struggle. Moving what a political party actually wants to do to the forefront of the debate and things will look much rosier at the ballot box and Lib Dems won’t feel as though they are pariahs.

They say one thing you shouldn’t do on a first date is talk religion or politics, I don’t need any help in screwing up first dates but the fact I’m a Lib Dem certainly doesn’t help, and if you think that is conjecture then I can assure you it isn’t, I’ve been told bluntly that is an issue, not because of the policies (bar tuition fees) but mainly because of the notion that the Lib Dems are now just Tories by another name.

Many people don’t get the nuances of a coalition government and there is often very little chance they’ll allow you to talk about it (by the way this isn’t my dating spiel, I don’t talk religion or politics on a first date, well unless they bring it up). The thing is many Lib Dems don’t get the nuances of coalition government. They think that if we disagree then we should stop it and only back Lib Dem policy. Wouldn’t that be a Liberal Democrat government and didn’t we only get 57 MPs at the last General Election?

Coalition isn’t easy and even harder than actual governing is trying to tell people what you are doing as the junior member of a coalition. Coalition has cost the party their innocence and their good name but on the other hand it has shown the party has matured and now isn’t just an ‘anti-everything’ option. Some people will acknowledge this but sadly many many more will now not touch the Lib Dems – or their candidates – with a ten-foot barge-pole, just like the vast majority of the female species with me.

So maybe the Lib Dems and myself are in the same boat. I think the bad name of the Lib Dems will sink them in percentage of the vote nationally but I don’t see a wipe-out. I see resources being very targeted and where the Lib Dems hold, they are actually well liked, both on councils and in Westminster. Elections are becoming increasingly localised and that is why I take little notice of national polls and projected national swings. They deep down mean jack and are just there to give politicos something to talk and write about.

The bad name of the Lib Dems won’t be vanquished overnight and may well stick around well beyond Nick Clegg’s departure – whenever that maybe. Still Labour now lead the polls just ten years after going into a very unpopular war and five odd years after overseeing the tanking of the economy. They are doing that with a leader who has zero personality or political nous and a shadow Chancellor who is, to be frank, vastly out of his depth. That says a great deal about how politics can ebb and flow…

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Written by neilmonnery

December 12th, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Only 55% of Brits believe same sex couples should be allowed to marry

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As part of Ipsos-Mori’s Global Advisory Panel this month they focused on Same Sex Marriage and asked their people all around the globe various questions on it and if I’m going to be honest here folks – the results are rather disappointing and in some respects are just flat out worrying. We’ll start with the good news and that is those Scandinavians are pretty awesome but seriously Japan? I thought Japan was a forward thinking country but clearly I was wrong.

Here is the slide about whether people think they should be allowed to marry – and then in turn whether they should be allowed some form of legal recognition but not to marry:

same sex marriage

Should SSM be legal?

As you can see only 55% of those asked fully backed SSM in the UK with a further 26% comfortable with legal recognition but not in the form of marriage. This to me is a disappointingly low number and doesn’t really resonate with my thoughts on the issue. However look at some other countries with Japan only just seeing 51% of people agreeing that SSM or legal recognition should be in place meaning that 49% of people do not agree with this basic premise.

However those numbers pale into insignificance based on the next slide. This one the statement they have to agree or disagree with is ‘Same-sex marriage is or could be harmful to society’

same sex marriage harmful

Is SSM harmful to society?

As you can see here there are three nations – Hungary, South Korea and Poland where 40% or more of people believe SSM will actually be harmful to society. Like for reals. Here in the UK 24% of people think that Same Sex Marriage will actually be harmful to society. I just can’t comprehend such a viewpoint. I know I’m liberal but do one in four people really believe that giving people of the same gender the opportunity to marry really impacts on society as a whole? Seems like codswallop to me.

The next slide I have for you is asking whether couples of the same sex should have the same rights to adopt children as heterosexual couple do:

adoption same sex couples

Adoption amongst same sex couples?

Here we see overall only 59% of people believe children can be brought up as successfully in a same sex household instead of one with traditional mum’s and dad’s. Overall that is a disturbing figure and here in the UK we are just above that at 65%. For me it is pretty simple – the most important thing is to be in a loving household whether that is a heterosexual couple, a gay couple of either men or women or a single parent family where there is plenty of love and care to go around. That is the key question and not the sexuality of the parents but 35% of people disagree in this country. Look at Poland though. I must say the Poles have disappointed me thoroughly throughout this PPT on my screen.

Next up are same-sex couples as likely as other parents to successfully raise children?

same sex couples raising children

Can couples of the same-sex successfully raise children?

28% of people in the UK believe that they can’t. Why? Honestly why? I just don’t get it and in what isn’t a surprise Poland once more props up this list.

The last slide I’m going to show you is the breakdown of people wh replied to the initial question about SSM:

same sex marriage demographics

Demographic breakdown of SSM Question

More women are supportive of SSM (77% to 69%) and the younger you are then the more supportive you are. Also those who earn the most and are most educated are clearly more supportive. The last thing is the more you use Social Media then the more you are likely to back SSM. Is this because on social media we are all exposed to more people and from a larger variety of backgrounds than we are in everyday life or is this just a coincidence based on more young people using social media compared to the older generation?

All I know is these numbers overall shows a disappointing view of humanity. I know there are people who are deeply religious and that in part goes to show why Italy has an interesting set of results here. Also respondents from South Korea and Japan are so far ahead of every other country in saying they personally do not know anyone who is gay or identifies themselves as such and that goes a long way to explaining some of their responses.

To bring this back to the UK though. I know plenty of backbench MPs have been saying they have been receiving 100s of letters and e-mails from constituents saying they disagree with it and these results show maybe they weren’t lying. Maybe a large percentage of Brits are still not ready to move forward – and nearly one in five of them believe that same sex couples should not have any legal recognition. That to be frank is a wholly dispiriting view of our society and I think a good place to end.

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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June 18th, 2013 at 1:11 pm

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Zadok Day leaves the Lib Dems but makes a very interesting observation on his way out of the door

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Here’s a theory I’ve been working on: political parties are cults. They should be clubs for the like-minded, but instead become repulsive repositories that make the people inside more similar, not less, and farther away from the general public, not closer. They encourage closed minds, adoration of party leaders, disbelief of crimes committed, putting the good of the cult above the good of other people – in this case the country! Look at the way canvassers go from door to door, inquiring about votes, the currency of the cult, rather than ideology. We don’t want to change the minds of the electorate, we want them to support our particular cult getting into power instead of that other one, and ideally joining the cult and helping spread the membership..

writes Zadok Day as he blogs his departure from the Lib Dems here.

Now I should put it out there right now. I like Zadok and believe our politics are pretty well aligned so I more times than not will be on his side in any political discussion. His decision to leave the party is disappointing but it is understandable. I think we all reach the stage where we just struggle with banging our heads against a brick wall and wonder what the point of it all is. Sometimes time away from the front line will re-energise people and the fire can burn once more but sometimes it doesn’t.

Now to to his point about political parties being cults. It is an interesting and astute observation. Do political parties try to educate people into their ethos and values or do they just try to get people to vote for them? Sometimes I look at people in various political parties and don’t see them as people I’d expect to represent that parties ethos and values. Hence why so many people defect from one party to another – they do so for various reasons but councillors often defect for political reasons and not for reasons surrounding values. People defect for personal reasons that they do not like someone else in the party. Many have left the Lib Dems not because of the coalition (although many, many have) but they have left because they simply don’t like Nick Clegg, or don’t like David Laws, or don’t like Chris Huhne etc…

One thing I will say I disagree with Zadok on though is that unlike a cult – there is no slavish love of the leader. Nick Clegg is not someone who everyone likes even – heck many don’t even respect him but stay in the party because they see themselves as the true Lib Dems and they’ll be there even after Nick leaves.

However I have felt at times personally that if you have a different PoV to the majority then you are looked down upon and not engaged in conversation. Look at one of the most passionate things that many Lib Dems back at the moment on the ‘No More Page 3′ campaign. Now whilst they aren’t asking for legal reasons to ban Page 3 they are singling out one publication whereas other publications do exactly the same but are being ignored. It also seems wrong to me that one section of society can decide that they are the spokespeople for that section of society despite never being voted in. Some women may (and clearly do) want to sell topless pictures of themselves.

On to canvassing. It is a brilliant point that we don’t speak to people about their ideologies and values but we ask about who they vote for. Surely we should be finding out what people stand for and what they believe in. If we can understand that then we can better understand the electorate. I have said for eons that I think more people are broadly liberal in their views than vote Liberal Democrat. The issue is then do people not vote for the Lib Dems because they don’t see the point or because they don’t believe that the Lib Dems stand for liberals?

I have found in my time that the more you actually talk to someone about ideologies and values the more they come around to thinking liberally. Talking about votes and policy does the job short-term but the more you speak to someone about what they stand for and what liberalism is then I genuinely have found the more that people will think of themselves as liberal. Now converting this into votes is of course important if the Lib Dems are ever going to have the power to get their liberal ideologies into more people’s lives but maybe here upon lies yet another problem – are the Lib Dems really the natural home for liberals?

You’d like to think so but it isn’t that simple any more. Now the other major parties certainly can’t claim to be liberal – Iraq war, 42 days detention with no charges, a distrust of foreigners and the EU, secret courts etc.. are all things other parties have done or wanted to do. The Lib Dems have clearly done some good on this front but have they strayed away from ideology? That is a question for another day but it is probably a legitimate one.

I would love to live in a world where the liberals ran the show. However just as important is having more people broadly seeing themselves as liberals. With so many people these days migrating towards extremism and genuinely not having a liberal attitude to fellow human beings who may want to live and work in this country then it concerns me greatly. The liberal viewpoint sounds ideological but it is the ideology that I buy into.

It is a sad day that Zadok has decided to leave but I understand his PoV and even if he isn’t a member I hope he still engages with people with his liberal ideologies. The more liberal a society is then the better and happier I think it will be – and that – not votes – should be our number one aim.

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March 3rd, 2013 at 3:42 pm

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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!

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February 21st, 2013 at 2:10 pm

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

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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

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.


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February 4th, 2013 at 8:14 pm

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Ok I’ll admit the truth. I’m jealous of Nadine Dorries and deep down all of you are too

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So Nadine Dorries thinks that female MPs are jealous of her does she? I mean why stop there and why doesn’t she just admit the truth that the whole human race are jealous and wish they led her life. You see the thing is we often rail against those who we are secretly jealous of. I mean who wouldn’t want to be Ryan Clark or Christopher Maloney? We all wish that we were in TOWIE or Geordie Shore don’t we? We would love our semi-fake lives planted all over the newspapers whilst people with brains laughed at us behind our backs? Jealousy is a strange and cruel mistress (if there are any of them reading – please send me an e-mail) but yes we all wish we were Nadine. Let us look at the reasons we all wish we were Nadine…

First of all who wouldn’t want to be able to take time off work to go on a Z-list celebrity show and get paid for both jobs? I mean seriously. If my bosses were down with me going and eating kangaroo bollocks whilst Eric Bristow regales me with tales about how he was a great darts player then I’d be so there and so would all of you be too.

On a similar line wouldn’t it be awesome to basically get sacked by your boss but still keep your job? That is what Nadine has managed to do. That is pure genius.

Remember she has been able to publicly slag off her bosses relentlessly and basically kept getting away with it. We all dream of dissing our bosses (well not me obviously – mine is great – actually he is – I get on very well with the guy I report to) but in general many of us would love to just diss our superiors and basically get no ramifications. It took her actually going on a TV show and missing work for her to get a bit of a bollocking (but keep her job).

Also wouldn’t you like to go on national TV to further your political campaign – in her case on abortion? Who here wouldn’t want to go on national TV and get exposure for our causes? The fact that she got no exposure for it is neither here nor there – she thought she was actually going to be able to use this as a platform for her cause.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to be told by the general public that you were the worst Z-list celebrity on a TV show? Deep down you can take comfort knowing that Christopher Maloney is still in the X Factor so surely the public know nothing. The public voted Ella Henderson out so that means that the public vote out the ones they like – yes that is it.

I would also love to live in a world where I wasn’t sure which home was actually my main residence. I mean who wouldn’t want a life where someone asked them where they lived they had to take a few seconds to think – not to think of an excuse but to think of which address is actually your home. A life we can all only aspire to.

When like me you write a blog you generally write what you like but when you are an MP you are surely tied into the truth but not Nadine. Oh no. In her own words ‘My blog is 70% fiction and 30% fact. It is written as a tool to enable my constituents to know me better and to reassure them of my commitment to Mid Bedfordshire. I rely heavily on poetic licence and frequently replace one place name/event/fact with another.’ How awesome is that? She can basically say the majority of what she writes is made up but it’s ok. I want to live in a world where that is true.

With a Z-list TV appearance behind her she now has the world as her oyster – well when I say world – I mean reality TV shows and other TV appearances. She’ll be on TV a lot folks. Get used to that. The only reason for her not to be on TV a lot would be if she quit her role as an MP and moved to Australia. Wouldn’t that be a turn up…(ellipsis left there for effect and a nod and a wink). I mean who wouldn’t want to move to Australia…(yep same thing).

Also she’s had an affair. You can’t get much hotter than that. A passionate steamy affair with a married man. We all want that don’t we? (not with a married man for me obviously – that would be a turn up).

Would you want to basically ruin the career you had worked so hard for just to get a bit of TV money and infamy for a couple of years before sitting back and thinking ‘what the hell did I do all that for?’ well Nadine has that now. Her career as an MP is all but over come 2015 and what will she do next? I’m looking forward to her appearance on the ‘Celebrity Jelly Wrestling’ show with Ann Widdecombe. It’s going to be an epic. This is the type of thing she has opened herself up to. I mean wouldn’t we all want to have these types of doors open to us?

So yes we are all (rightly) extremely jealous of her. It is either that or we are all laughing at someone who is in the process of destroying her career that she worked so hard for so she could get her fifteen minutes of fame but it couldn’t be that at all…could it? It couldn’t be someone selling their soul for a few dollars and a few TV appearances…could it? It couldn’t be that her actions have led to MPs getting an (even) worse name could it? No way could it be any of those things.

Deep down all of us – and certainly female MPs wished they had been on a Z-list celebrity show whilst they were meant to be working. Whilst Nadine was sleeping in a jungle in front of TV cameras most female MPs were working and going home to their families and sleeping in a bed with a nice thick duvet. Yeah Nadine certainly got the best of them…

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November 26th, 2012 at 3:41 pm

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Economy concerns fall by 7% but the biggest riser is in housing – Latest from Ipsos Mori

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The latest news from the Ipsos Mori issues index is that people are worrying far less about the economy than they have for over a year. The lowest score since last spring was recorded in September when the company asked people what the number one issue facing Britain today was. Economy scored 61% in August but that dipped to 54% in September as many more fringe issues picked up votes.

These included the NHS (+2%), Crime (+3%), Inflation (+2%), Education (+2%), Poverty (+2%) but most interesting Housing went up 3% compared to August and thus is at its highest point since the autumn of 2008. This is very interesting timing at Ed Balls will announce today that if he were in power he would use the money from the 4G auction to fund 100k new affordable homes across the country. These polling statistics hint that this will be warmly received across the country with the electorate.

However the Economy & Unemployment still dominate with 54% and 34% of people mentioning these issues when contacted by the research company. The economy hit a peak of 71% in June 2010 just after the General Election. This is no surprise as Greece was burning and a coalition had been formed just to fix the economy. Want to know the interesting tid-bit though? The last poll before the General Election only 55% of people were concerned about the economy. So that is a 16% leap in one month. Have the government scared people into undue concern about the economy?

This is an issue I have pondered for a long time. Look the economy is in a mess but if you keep saying how bad things are and keep mud-slinging then people are going to be scared to invest or buy products. If I drove would I buy a new car in this climate? I probably wouldn’t. I would be too scared that I have spent so much on a product only for it to lose 15-20% of its value just by driving it off the forecourt. Are people buying new TVs in this climate unless they really need to or are people waiting more for the sales? I have a few pennies in the bank and I want a tablet computer but I’m probably now going to wait for the iPad 4 in March as buying an Ipad 3 now would seem like a waste when an updated product is out in just six months.

Now of course I’m not your typical person as I’m known to not exactly throw my money around but people are being more cautious and rightly so. However are people being too cautious about saving for that metaphorical rainy day? I think they are and I lay the blame squarely at the feet of politicians. They need to stop saying how bad things are and start talking about how good things will be once the recovery has started. We need to hear more of what will happen and more of a plan of action apart from the rhetoric that we currently have which is ‘the sky is falling and its all your fault’ (which all the parties throw at each other).

Sometimes I really get pissed off at those in power who prefer to engage in the blame game than actually dealing with issues. I throw this at all parties. I like to know whose fault something was but I prefer to know the solution to the problem than who caused the problem in the first place. Surely that is the important issue? If this coalition government bring back strength, growth and trust in the economy then people are far more likely to care about who it was that screwed the economy over. People care about the plumber who fixes their heating, they don’t care as much about the plumber who failed to fix it properly the last time it broke.

I would like to address housing as well as this spike shows that there is a lack of affordable housing in this country. I am 29 and I live in rented accommodation. Due to the fact that I am self-employed it would be very hard for me to get a mortgage on anywhere in the area that I live so if I wanted to buy then I’d have to move. I think many people face similar issues and with the current state of banks not lending and a lack of building going on because no-one can afford to buy we are in a catch-22 and is a serious issue.

The problem with building affordable housing is will anyone to able to afford to buy them? At the moment because of the mortgage issue along with the economy people are being more hesitant to invest in bricks and mortar of their own. For me I’d love to buy but renting actually gives you a bit of freedom. If things go tits up in my work life then if I had a mortgage I’d be struggling to pay it because I’d have put down a hefty deposit. If I continue to rent then that money is in my bank instead of down on a deposit so is available to me to invest in rent or invest in other issues.

It is a hard one but affordable housing is vital not only to get people into their own homes but also to get a whole sector moving. I’m not surprised people are starting to talk more and more about it. Parents don’t want adult children living at home any more. They want them to fly the nest and set up on their own and start families (sorry mum – that bit isn’t happening) and be happy. Living at home whilst prudent doesn’t help starting families etc…

So all in all I am surprised fewer people are worried about the economy than any time since the spring of 2011 but I’m not shocked at all that housing worries are the highest that they have been since 2008. As for how the government are scaring us all about the economy. I don’t think scaring people into a recovery works. Change the rhetoric MPs. Please for the love of God change the rhetoric.

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October 1st, 2012 at 12:02 pm

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This #menagainstrape hashtag on twitter. Isn’t it all a bit pointless?

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Is twitter going all Facebook on us? ‘93% of people won’t share this photo because they don’t care about cancer/the armed forces/midgets/bad acting in Eastenders ruining the thespians of the future and if you don’t share it then you are showing the world that you don’t care.’ We’ve all seen those things on Facebook and I ignore the lot and today on twitter there is a #menagainstrape hashtag that people are using to signal that they are against rape. All nice and dandy but aren’t all men broadly against rape just like they are against cancer et al like the Facebook things we see all the time?

To me is it just people saying ‘look at me – I’m against rape – aren’t I awesome?’ whereas the simple fact is people don’t really need to come out against rape as people are against it. It is a despicable act and whilst there are rapists out there most of them are actually against rape but then turn into rapists for whatever reason, be it alcohol, be it mentally unstable, be it whatever. I strongly suspect that if Les Dennis was running around asking 100 people whether they were against rape where there would not be more than one answer on the board.

Men are against rape. Women are against rape. Men think cancer is a disgusting disease that if possible should be cured. Women think cancer is a disgusting disease that if possible should be cured. Men think that bad acting in Eastenders is polluting the minds of young people who could grow up to be the next Patrick Stewart as do women. etc. etc. etc.

Now whilst I think publicly stating that you are against rape is pretty pointless and just pandering to the ‘I am’ society that we inhabit. What I am nearly as disturbed about are the amount of people that are praising how amazing the hashtag is and that it is making their view of men better and that the hashtag is helping them see not all men are actually pro-rape. I just don’t get it. Do people really think that because Julian Assange is fighting extradition to face rape charges and George Galloway thinks that having sex with someone when they are asleep is not rape that because they are both white men that they speak for all white men and therefore all white men couldn’t give two hoots about rape. I mean really?

Here’s a headline for people. Rape is evil and everyone knows it whether they be a man or a woman. Now of course some people still rape others but some people commit murder and everyone knows that is evil. Some people commit adultery with their husbands brother or with their wives sister. They know it isn’t what you should do but some people still do it.

I’m glad that some people’s faith in men is being restored because they are tweeting that they are against rape. If that makes some people feel better about the male of the species then hooray. I am just perplexed that some people need a hashtag on twitter to show then that indeed not every man is pro-rape. I’m glad that in my little bubble I believe in the good of people and that everyone knows right from wrong. If some people do wrong things then they did them knowing that they are wrong. That is how I see it anyway.

To sum up. I have a penis and a pair of bollocks and I am against rape. Do I need to tell the world that? No I don’t (but I am writing a blog on the subject so…) as the world already knows but heck if it is the cool thing on twitter and it is restoring faith in some people then men aren’t all secret rapists and go to rape parties then so be it. Sometimes I despair, I really do (actually I despair a lot). Do people really think that the overwhelming majority of men don’t think that rape is a evil thing to do…? I’d hate to have such a starting point in faith for mankind. If I did then I suspect I’d be depressed a lot of the time…

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Written by neilmonnery

August 21st, 2012 at 11:34 am

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Are All-Women Shortlists really a good thing for women in the long term?

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Ah the old chestnut of All-Women Shortlists. It is a fun one. I posted the following over on SpeakersChair yesterday. I am posting this and then I plan to hide under the duvet for the rest of the day (well I don’t as the Grand Prix and Wimbledon are on and the big HD TV is not in my bedroom) but still you get what I mean. Saying you aren’t in favour of AWS generally doesn’t go down well but I think I have pointed out the reasons relatively fairly.

Oh well as Kel would say ‘awh here’s goes…’

Around the Southend based Labour blogosphere the talk of women in politics has resurfaced and the old ‘positive discrimination’ lark with regards to all women shortlists. It is always an enjoyable topic to blog on because I get shouted at a lot because I’m a man and therefore I am an idiot that can’t see the real picture. If I was a red-headed lesbian trying to break into politics and seeing what I was up against I’d know the real issues out there. Lucky for me I’m not because if I was red-headed (straight or not) ‘d not get anything done because I’d probably die of starvation looking at myself in the mirror (seriously why are all red-headed women hot – like all of them?) Anyway I have massively digressed and already pissed off 92.7% of people that will ever read this.

So here are the pieces that have inspired this piece – firstly Politics is sexist and I found that via a piece just called Women. I must say Julian’s title is rather simplistic but I think it gets to the point. Jack’s is quite blunt and has more than a ring of truth to it. Politics is sexist. I am not denying that (now only 88.1% of those reading this hate me) but the question is whether AWS is the way to fix this issue. I think it is well known that I do not believe that it is.

When Zadok Day blogged a piece about Ed Davey replacing Chris Huhne as a Liberal Democrat member of the cabinet he probably didn’t choose the best headline in the world of Opinion: Calm Down, Dears!. It was never going to lead to him being lauded as the face of a diverse Lib Dem Party. However large parts to what he wrote was pretty fair. I think there are certainly Lib Dem MPs who would make excellent cabinet members. I have no doubt – and I mean no doubt – that Jo Swinson would – and should – be the Scottish minister instead of Michael Moore. No offence Michael but I just think Jo would be brilliant in that role. However it is not me who makes these decisions.

In the case of the Lib Dems – and our all pale male cabinet members – it is Nick Clegg who decides who is best suited to the role. He knows all his MPs a lot better than I do. So either I have to think Nick Clegg is sexist or he isn’t. I choose to believe the latter. This of course may be wrong but I’m pretty sure I’m not although that might be the arrogance of another white male talking.

So anyway back to AWS and whether they need to used to create a more representational balance. The argument that is strongly used is that women need to see a plethora of other women being elected before they’ll think about it themselves. I just don’t get this. I won’t say I never will but the likelihood of me getting this argument is slim. I’m inspired by many women as well as men. I don’t feel the need to see a man do what I want to do before thinking that I can do it as well. The thing is many women are MPs and we’ve had a female Prime Minister and a female leader of the opposition (albeit briefly).

More needs to be done and the make-up of top-level politics is not fairly balanced but is a way to make it fairer by forcing certain parties in certain constituencies to only consider women? Now I’m against the quota system as a rule but I can see merits for it in certain situations – i.e. when South Africa returned to the sporting world and they ensured that at least one rugby player had to be black and two cricketers had to be black for a few years. This is because a group of people had been oppressed against. However there is no oppression against women in politics. It isn’t easy for many women but it’s not easy for many men either. Most people in politics have a lot of time and money on their hands.

I ran in Westborough here in Southend earlier this year and if everyone had an equal time, money and resources then I think there is no doubt Kevin Robinson would have won for Labour. As it turned out Kevin working insane hours and his independent opponent Dr. Vel being able to afford to take time off from work to doorstep and canvass enabled him to hold on to his seat. Is that fair? Does that need to be looked at?

One line of Ms Jack Monroe’s piece screamed at me though. It hollered and rattled by bones, ‘As a woman in Southend politics, I am surrounded by a lot of men and a few very good women.’ Did you see what I saw? There are a lot of men, ok that is fair and a few women but wait, there is an adjective thrown into that sentence. Yes the women are ‘very good’ whereas the implication is that men are not. If you want to press my buttons on feminism (and to be fair she describes herself as not a feminist in her blog post) but that sentence screams out the type of feminism that gives feminists a bad name. There are bad men, there are good men, there are good women but do you know what? That are also bad women in politics. Yes folks not every woman in politics is a benefit to the political world.

This is why I can’t abide by AWS. What happens if there are good candidates who get passed over for worse ones due to their gender? This happens. The problem is what if all the women who apply are terrible? What happens if these women win? (as usually AWS are only in safe seats where you could put a chimp with a red rose/blue rosette on and they would win). Does having a terrible MP so out of her depth do anything positive for the female cause? I know that is an extreme situation but it is also not one that is completely beyond the pale.

Good women will get into politics as will good men. Bad men will get in too as will bad women. That is the nature of the game. A friend of mine is currently relocating as it looks as though she’ll be a Lib Dem PPC in a winnable seat. I won’t name her in case she doesn’t want it to be public knowledge yet but she is set to get the nomination because she has worked bloody hard and spent a lot of time in the constituency doing what politicians have to do. Should she get the nomination then I know she’ll work just as hard and if she wins then she’ll be an asset to the country. I’m positive she wouldn’t have wanted it to be handed on a plate to her – and if it was then I doubt she’d be as good of an MP as she potentially can be.

I firmly believe that if things are in essence handed to you on a plate then you aren’t going to be as equipped to handle what is thrown at you. I think that it is far better for women in politics to work hard and slowly get more and more hard-working MPs in than to throw in a lot of people who have been picked and might not be ready. I think exactly the same about male MPs. MPs who have had to work hard will be better MPs who don’t. I just think this. Is it better to have lots of female MPs quickly who may or may not be the cream of the crop or is it better to slowly get women into the House of Commons who have earned it and shown that hard work and dedication pays off? I know I think the latter is the best way forward.

As an aside as I have waffled on for a fair while. If the House of Commons should reflect the make-up of the UK fairer then at what point to we draw the line? A 50/50 balance or so gender wise but what about sexual orientation? What about ethnic minorities? A significant number of the UK population are racists do they need to be represented too? It isn’t an easy one of that I’m sure but I just don’t think AWS are the way to go. All they’ll do is artificially inflate the amount of women in the chamber, what AWS doesn’t do though is ensure a better calibre of MP.

This was first posted on the SpeakersChair website

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July 8th, 2012 at 5:55 am

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