The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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On the depressing road to where reasonable politics goes to die…

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On Monday (or was it Tuesday?) whenever it was, 14 Labour MPs walked through the government lobbies in an attempt to ensure Brexit happens on March 29, whatever that Brexit is. They did so for a variety of reasons but lets be honest, who honestly gives two hoots?

The reason I say that is because is actually doesn’t matter. All that matters these days is our own opinions and whatever actually happens in the real world, we’ll find a way to match up our own pre-deposed thoughts with what is going down in reality.

The other morning I was reading a story in the Guardian about Nick Clegg and his role at Facebook. The comments were a sight to behold. Probably 80% of the people were raging on Facebook and the fact that the former leader of the Liberal Democrats had taken a job with the company. Many said that if he truly cared about helping then he would campaign against Facebook on his own dime instead of trying to help from within.

Some even belittled Clegg as a nobody and had no idea why Facebook would want an experienced politician who knows his way around the European Union, is respected on the continent and speak five languages fluently. Yeah it is a complete mystery to me…

The point is people don’t like Nick Clegg. Some may say justifiably so but people have made up their opinions and anyone who doesn’t think he’s awful and a complete waste of space is just plain wrong. He could invent a teleportation device or cure the common cold and a significant number of people would say he’s only done so because he’s a Tory stooge or that it didn’t negate the damage of tuition fees.

Take Jeremy Corbyn as another example. He has followers who would follow him to the end of the Earth and still hail him as their saviour. People who hate Brexit would still vote loyally for the Labour leader as they believe he is playing the long-game. The same can be true of Bernie supporters, Trump supporters, Farage supporters. Name any politician who stands more than a stones throw away from the centre and you’ll find their supporters are far more loyal and unwavering.

This is what scares me. People aren’t questioning politicians any more, not even ones they generally agree with. If you’ve followed my politics or even just know me, you’ll know that I’m a Cleggite. I think being socially slightly left of centre and economically slightly right of centre is a good place to be. That doesn’t mean I think he walks on water or gets everything right. I like being able to engage my own brain and seek out some answers for myself. Being spoon fed and lapping up the party line just doesn’t sit well for me.

As long as we put our faith in people and not policies/actions then we are doomed to become diminished as a race. Democracy only works when people look at elections with open eyes. People can and often do change their minds and just loyally voting for any person or party with blind loyalty is bad.

The world of social media allows us to stay within our bubble and have our own viewpoints reinforced with spectacular ease. People don’t like debate any more. They like being right and having those thoughts backed up.

Politics is far from reasonable these days. When elections turn on the likes of Gillian Duffy and how someone eats a bacon sandwich, does that sound like reasonable politics to you? It sure as hell doesn’t me but what the hell do I know? I don’t think anyone is perfect and therefore clearly something must be wrong with me…

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January 31st, 2019 at 12:09 pm

On Renewing my Lib Dem membership in the age of Brexit and Corbynmania…

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This wasn’t a slam dunk decision. Since moving away from my local party in 2017 where I was relatively active, albeit in the background, I haven’t attended any type of political meeting or undertook any real campaigning. Being detached from such things does weaken the ties but that wasn’t what I was truly struggling with.

The big problem was the fact Brexit has become this all consuming behemoth of a monstrosity that is suffocating the life out of actual politics. You know, the day to day things that actually make a difference to all of our lives. It is clear that the vast majority of those coming into politics at the moment are here for one of two reasons, either they are inspired by Brexit one way or the other or Jeremy Corbyn is giving them (false?) hope of a brighter tomorrow and that socialism is really going to cure the nation of all of its ills.

Personally, I didn’t get involved in politics because of the European Union. I voted Remain and would do so again if there was a second referendum. The merits of remaining in the EU far outweigh the negatives in my opinion. To paraphrase James Carville, who some would know as the man behind Bill Clinton’s shock Presidential win in 1992 but others will know from making betting picks on The Tony Kornheiser Show, it’s the economy stupid.

Yes, being better off isn’t the be all and end all but it is a pretty darn good starting position for working out where we all want to be in life. Having a strong economy and growing our workforce with well paying jobs is surely what most of us want to see.

Seeing some Brexiteers saying things like having the economy go into the tank will be good as it will bring us all together and forge our bulldog spirit makes it seem that not everything thinks this. Some are happy to pay a price to get Brexit, the problem from my vantage point is most of those people either know they’ll be ok so don’t care or don’t fully understand the ramifications of any potential No Deal Brexit.

Yet I’ve hit the point where I just don’t care. Well maybe don’t care isn’t the right term. I am just Brexited out as it were and it isn’t just the side I disagree with that I’m tarring with this brush. Some strong Remainers do my nut in as well because they don’t see the bigger picture. Both sides are becoming more and more entrenched in their position and as a result, our country is being paralysed.

In the past couple of decades we’ve seen many big changes push through parliament. Some for the better and some for the worse. Still shit was getting done. Now it might be just me and the fact I’m holding politics at arms length at the moment but what has happened in this parliament bar lots of bickering about Brexit?

I am sitting here racking my brains trying to think of some major policy that has gone through the House of Commons and I’m just coming up short. This country faces so many problems but they all need to sit and wait whilst the Brexit shit is sorted out.

The complication in all this is of course it is nigh on impossible for it to actually get sorted out. There will be a great swathe of the electorate who will be unhappy whatever happens. This country of ours has rarely been divided along such toxic lines. Both sides believe they are right and the other just flat out wrong. Belittling someone with an opposing view is just not on and to be perfectly honest, I’m just oh so tired of it. The #FPBE crowd do my head in as much as the arch Brexiteers.

Still despite my absolute despair at the current political climate, the Lib Dems got another few quid from me and I’ll roll on. Getting actively involved again may have to wait until the country is ready to actually get on with things that aren’t all Brexit, all the time. To be fair to my new local party where I moved to this year, the ward I live in has very active campaigners who focus on local issues. It makes a welcome break from the constant noise surrounding the referendum.

I suppose my major issue is there are few places in politics for people like me at the moment. Unless you are all over the Brexit situation and live and die by the latest news or are part of the cult of Jeremy Corbyn, there isn’t much for you. If you are/were politically aware but want to focus on a non-Brexit issue or aren’t infatuated with Magic Grampa then where do you go? They are the big political stories at the moment, one is straitjacketing the country and the other is willing to burn everything to the ground so that their starry eyed hero can rebuild everything in the way they want.

Politics wasn’t really ever much fun but it was interesting. Now it isn’t even really that.

Still you never know, 2019 might not all be about Brexit and Corbyn. I mean is possible…

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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December 28th, 2018 at 3:44 pm

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On Late Night Poker…

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Whilst reading ESPN the other day I came across a link talking about Phil Hellmuth Jr. winning yet another World Series of Poker bracelet and it started taking me back. You see many years ago I would watch a TV show called Late Night Poker, which was broadcast on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom. It was the first time that Poker had been shown on TV in the UK and it quickly became a late night hit amongst young people.

The under the table cameras brought a unique insight into what was going on and it brought in a brand new wave of poker enthusiasts to the sport. Without these then it would be extremely difficult for poker to ever succeed as a spectator sport, who would want to watch several people sitting around a table and only know what was going on when the cards were turned over? There is a big difference between playing poker and watching it on TV.

Players who appeared on this show, which started nearly nearly two decades ago are still fresh in the mind. The aforementioned Hellmuth won Season 3 and was one of the big stars but people like Devilfish, Ross & Barney Boatman and Ram Vaswani quickly became names and faces that the casual fan would know.

What Late Night Poker did however was slow-play the way in which the viewer would find out exactly what cards all the players around the table had. Instead of just showing all hands on screen, which is the norm nowadays, the producer would only show one or two hands, putting the person at home in the position of trying to work out what they might do if they were in the position of the players whose hand we hadn’t seen.

In 2017, Josh Hesp, a 67 year-old man who runs a caravan park in Bridlington became the second biggest winner from the UK, having secured just over £2,000,000 for his fourth placed finish at the main event. Playing in the Main Event was part of his bucket list and it sure was a change of scenery compared to his local casinos in Hull. Wgilst he didn’t win, this payout is part of the legacy of the original Late Night Poker as its brand of poker, No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em wasn’t very popular in the United Kingdom before the TV show. Since then however it has become the bread and butter version of the card game played across these four nations.

It would help spawn a whole new group of people who would go on to create poker schools or get involved in the internet revolution that has enabled fans of card games, slot games and the like to play from the comfort of their own PC or laptop. One of these website is NetBet Casino. With several video poker options along with a variety of slot games and roulette tables, it is a one stop shop for the online gambler.

Late Night Poker helped create a poker school that I was part of in the early 2000s. The stakes weren’t high, maybe the winner won a bag of doughnuts or a pint from the other players but it was extremely enjoyable. The show was revolutionary and if Channel 4 wanted to bring it back, I’m pretty sure it would be a late night hit once more…

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Written by Ian Pope

July 16th, 2018 at 10:24 am

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On watching a parent litter in front of their kids…

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On Sunday I got a bit riled up. I’d nipped out to the supermarket to grab myself some goodies and dinner. It was a lovely day and the stroll into town was pleasant enough. Nothing in my short trip should’ve fazed me nor tripped me up. Yet well, it did.

Walking towards the supermarket, I noticed a man, woman and two kids walking in front of me. I didn’t think twice about them but moments later, I watched as the dad veered out from the right hand side of the walkway to the left. Immediately I knew exactly what he was going to do. Sipping the last dregs out of his KFC drink, he simply lobbed the cup into the mud by the river. I was aghast and full of rage. So much so that I very nearly yelled out at him.

Why people litter is just beyond me, it truly is. I have never littered and have no understanding of why anyone would. The worst bit wasn’t that he’d thrown his rubbish into the mud but that his two children were both of very impressionable age. If they see their dad acting in such a loutish manner then they’ll believe that acting in that manner is totally acceptable. Not less than five seconds later, he’d have passed a rubbish bin outside the shop.

For a minute or so I was berating myself for not saying something but then what was the best case scenario for doing such a thing? Maybe he would’ve listened, understood and promised to do better in future, therefore showing his kids a valuable lesson that littering is not ok. That alas would not be a realistic outcome.

The realistic best case scenario would be a string of obscenities followed by the word off. Another very plausible outcome would’ve involved a punch or two heading in my direction and that certainly was what I wanted and nor would that have been good for the watching kids.

Walking home I decided that I’d made the best decision but isn’t it a sad indictment of society that people are scared to intervene when people are acting boorishly? Carrying your rubbish to a bin isn’t exactly a hardship and you can’t go a couple of minutes without passing one around shops. Those who treat the planet with such clear and obvious disdain are really rather selfish. Whilst the planet struggles with what mankind is doing to it, he’ll be fine as he’ll be long gone before the effects are fully felt but what about his children and their children?

This blog has very little point bar wondering why some people act the way they do. I just don’t understand 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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May 8th, 2018 at 10:21 am

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On legality of online gambling in Canada…

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When you are talking about the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, one of the important things regarding getting licensed with them is that the casino platform must be hosted on secure servers based in the land of Kahnawake itself and nowhere else. Although many have raised questions about the legality I often indulge in Royal Vegas online casino games in Canada, but of late have been wondering if online gambling is actually illegal or legal in Canada?!

As more and more people start to use the internet and online world every day, this is something I felt was worth clarifying. I looked up the length and breadth of the Internet, but couldn’t find a conclusive answer to that question! Some people say yes, some say no; eventually what I figured is that you can gamble legally in Canada only at places licensed by the government of Canada. Technically, that would mean gambling on the Internet is illegal in Canada, unless of course you play at Provincial casinos running on the Internet. Although majority of provinces in Canada are actively launching their own online casinos, they’re limiting their usage only to the residents of those provinces. Gambling on the whole falls in a fairly grey area in Canada as no specific law, allowing or disallowing has been written so far.

Can you get prosecuted?

Regardless, there is a very old Canadian law as per which its considered unlawful for a person to be present inside a ‘common betting house!’ This could possibly be used against anyone who indulges in gambling on the Internet, but no one in Canada has been prosecuted so far. If we talk about prosecution, even in the United States, where there are clear laws against online gambling, it’s pretty rare for a person to get charged. One of the cases to have come to light in that regard is that of a person who had to pay $500 in fine as he had won $100,000 playing poker on the Internet in US. US authorities have for long been targeting only companies and banks that facilitate online gambling transactions for the players from United States, instead of going after individuals.

Here in Canada, the attitude is comparatively relaxed. Apparently, provinces are taking things as they come and have opened their own Internet casino establishments to compete with others. There has only been one case of an online casino getting charged in Canada, which was way back in year 2001; and that’s the only one so far to do with online gambling.

About Kahnawake Gaming Commission in Quebec

Another interesting fact not many casino players are aware of is that a good number of online casinos are actually regulated and licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission based in Quebec, Canada. This commission has been involved in such regulation and licensing business for online gaming industry since 1999, much longer compared to any other gambling jurisdiction in the world. An important restriction placed by them on any casino of this gaming commission operating out of Canada, for so many years now, no action has been taken against it as yet.

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.

Written by Ian Pope

August 1st, 2017 at 9:00 am

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It is time for the Lib Dems to be truly radical on education

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Nick Clegg has spoken today about how too much teacher time is taken up with box ticking and paperwork, which is pretty fair but he doesn’t speak about just what is wrong with our education system but also about the mindset of far too many people.

This is something that has been building inside of me for a long time and I have written about it several times in recent weeks and months. The crux of the issue is I disagree with what the primary function of schooling seems to be – exams. I would love to know a breakdown of parents thoughts as to whether they would prefer their child to be as best prepared academically for the world to give them the best career options or whether they would prefer their children to be as best prepared to make their own decisions and be the person they want to be.

This falls under the whole envelope I think about regarding the future of society and I could draw inspiration from many places. Last night I flicked over and saw a bit of a TV show called, ‘Secret Life of Living Dolls’ and it was about guys that like to dressing up as latex dolls. Not a fetish I’ve ever dabbled in I must admit but I can see the appeal. A group of them went out in public and got a pretty positive response until some douche started hassling them and screaming at them for doing it. Were they harming him? No. He just didn’t think that people should be allowed to express themselves in a way that he wasn’t comfortable with.

It didn’t shock me but that one person will have undoubtedly caused them more distress than all the positive the other people did. As a race we are generally accepting of those who are different and we are making strides towards making it even better. Homosexuality is now much more, I want to say mainstream but that isn’t the word, it is generally more accepted although some people still can’t do so, many of these people look at religion for a reason to treat these people differently. Religion is the biggest problem that the human race faces but that is a story for another day.

Going back to the education point. A few weeks ago I saw a piece on the BBC News where a failing school had been ‘turned around’ and the headmaster was telling the reporter how he’d done it. The kids are literally not allowed to talk at any time except in break and lunch times unless told it was acceptable by a teacher. Walking between classes had to be done in silence. He had the children line up in register order on three separate occasions during the school day in the main hall to take a register to ensure no-one was truanting. Of course this was in silence. Add to that incredibly strict uniform rules and people wonder why children do not feel free to express themselves.

I am sure Middle England loved it but I wanted to throttle the guy. He is doing so much damage to these young minds yet he is there patting himself on the back because exam results are up. The fact he has robotic children who I suspect are scared to find out who they are seemingly means very little to him.

The young mind is one of the greatest things about our formative years. We all have dreams and aspirations and good schooling can help that. I know what I wanted to be all the way through my younger years and I dabbled in it but here we are at 31 and that part of my life is seemingly in my rear view mirror. You grow up and you have other priorities. Yet I think every adult at some point comes to the realisation that all they truly want is to be happy. Oh happiness. There is a blog post all in itself. Money is great and having a good career is great but that alone won’t make most of us happy.

We all find happiness in different ways and what makes us happy as a teenager may well not make us happy in our 20s, 30s, 40s etc. We continue to grow and evolve as adults but for many of us that involves going back to our teenage years and remembering what our dreams were then and trying again as adults to achieve them. Last week Byron, a 27 year-old contestant in Masterchef Australia was eliminated but said that he now knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, he wanted a career in food because it made him happy. He hadn’t got involved in food after school for a variety of reasons but many of the contestants are like that. They chose a career path that they were expected to do or just fell into instead of going for what they truly wanted. This is a flaw in education and in society. We do what is expected of us instead of what we think will make us happiest.

I am all for being realistic but also I am slowly coming around to the fact that we are often better than what we think we are. We are amazing creatures who can adapt and grow in ways many of us never thought possible. Personally I have only taken one big career gamble in my life. One leap of faith that was not to do with happiness but in fact the total opposite. I was so unhappy and frustrated in what I was doing I had to break free and try something different, even if it didn’t work out. Luckily for me it did work out but it did feel like a huge risk at the time and it was done with my mental health squarely in mind.

This is what I want to see in our education system, people daring to be who they want to be. Being brought up in a very tolerant environment where people don’t judge you based on what sex you are, what sexual orientation you are, what colour you are, what clothes you wear, what make-up you wear, what style your hair is, what your teeth look like, what you do in your spare time, whatever. This all sounds very Utopian I know but unless we dare to dream and have the guts to act then we’ll never create the society that would be a truly wonderful place to live.

I want to see an education system where children have a plethora of opportunities and are able to explore them to the best degree possible instead of being taught a regimented syllabus that gives them the best academic possibilities as defined by the government of the time. Another thing I want to throw in here is the why schools deal with social studies. It is laughable. Social studies are marginalised for more academic lessons. I had five lessons of maths a week but in Year 10 & 11 I had no social studies lessons at all, at all. I’m not even sure I had any in Years 7 & 8 so it was only Year 9 where I had any social studies lessons at all and that was a joke.

Social studies is more important than algebra. It is more important than history, more important than geography, more important than science, more important than foreign languages and I could go on, I think you get my drift. Young people need to learn about the world and being part of a positive and welcoming society. This encompasses sex education as well. The hardest part of growing up is not learning academic things but learning about being part of society. These are the skills that many young people struggle with but we shun it as to give more time to academic pursuits.

Putting the social aspect firmly at the heart of education policy would be a giant step forward both for the children of today and for society as a whole. Teach young people about tolerance and about how our differences are only on the surface. Teach them about how to treat one another. Teach them that just because they dress or act a certain act then you shouldn’t treat them any differently. I know it sounds obvious to many of us but we are seeing a lurch away from tolerance and it scares the living bejesus out of me. This is coming mainly from the elder generation but it filters down.

We need a generation of people who feel free to express themselves without fear of persecution in any way shape or form. It isn’t going to be easy but until we understand the whole journey of life starts how we perceive ourselves and the world around us, allowing us the freedoms to live our lives how we see fit and how how society dictates that we should then we’ll always have a problem. I don’t mind taking small steps but we need to know what the end goal is and find the best way to get to that end goal. Ridding society of intolerance should be that end goal at it starts with our education system. Letting young people discover who they are and letting them express themselves is the starting point as the more different people we are exposed to at the young age then the more accepting we are.

We are all different and until we understand that and embrace that then we’ll never get to where we want to be. So it is time to be radical. Put forward a plan to let our young people grow and if they grow outside of the perceived norms that society expects then so be it. A diverse future will lead to a happier place and isn’t that what we all want at the end of the day – to just be happy?

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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October 22nd, 2014 at 12:06 pm

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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…

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.

Written by neilmonnery

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.

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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.

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.

Written by neilmonnery

March 3rd, 2013 at 3:42 pm

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