The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Archive for the ‘tories’ tag

On the new ‘kinder, gentler’ politics…

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I haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks. Not because I haven’t had things to say but because I’ve been in some sort of a malaise in terms of writing on the blog. Not that I haven’t been writing a lot mind you, I’ve been writing elsewhere doing a fair amount of sports writing. This blog though has developed more into politics as the years have gone on.

Still here I am. On the back of two Labour conference speeches I feel compelled to tap tap tap on the keyboard once more. Jeremy Corbyn I actually have few problems with. He doesn’t live in the real world but what he has to say sounds good. He would be a fantastic President or Prime Minister of Utopia. Sadly for all of us Utopia isn’t where we live but his sentiments are nice all the same. He needs to remember that he isn’t talking to the Labour membership any more, he has to speak to the wider electorate but he may well get there in time. He speaks of a kinder, gentler politics. Something I could fully endorse and get behind.

I’ve been actively involved in politics for several years and I have found it challenging I must say. People trawl through Facebook and Twitter posts to find something that they can twist and manipulate to fulfil a narrative that they have. People lie. People will say that there is one rule for them but another rule for everyone else. It is a constant bugbear of mine. You can be the biggest arsehole you like if you choose to be, that is your prerogative, but if you whine when people treat you the way you treat them then I have issues with it. You treat others how you’d like to be treated but if you think people should treat you better than you treat them then surely that isn’t fair or right?

So kinder, gentler politics. Good. I actually liked Jeremy’s style at PMQs. I’m not sure six questions from the public is the best idea and his lack of follow-up allowed the PM to have a relatively easy time of it but it was conducted in a far more civilised tone. The House of Commons as a whole needs to grow up and if Jeremy Corbyn helps drag it there then good times.

And then today Tom Watson, who is the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party had his speech at conference. The memo I’m guessing didn’t reach his desk. You can read his speech here. If that is kind and gentle then I’m both an experienced and well recommended lover as well as a three Michelin starred chef. Just bear with me a second whilst I go and prick my microwave chilli…

Tom Watson is a big bruiser who thinks politics is done by being populist, attacking enemies and not putting your policies out there for people to debate and vote on. He is essentially the anti-Corbyn. JC is quiet but says what he thinks in a progressive manner. Watson is loud and in a way quite brutish. Calling the Lib Dems, a ‘useless bunch of lying sellouts’ and the Tories ‘nasty’ isn’t progressive. It is easy, lazy, old school politics. The type that Corbyn wants to move beyond.

The issue I have is the Lib Dems aren’t useless (as we are seeing now in government at all the Lib Dem policies that the Tories are cutting out) and aren’t sellouts. You can debate lying but when you consider how much of the Lib Dem manifesto made it into coalition policy then they punched above their weight in government. The Tories aren’t nasty either. You may disagree with their policies (I do a lot) but they aren’t nasty. Labour aren’t all bad either. The truth is (as I see it) that all parties have some genuinely interesting policies that could take this country forward. Heck even UKIP had a policy about reopening all the nursing colleges that had closed and that seemed like a sensible idea to help repopulate the nursing industry as it were.

I’m not saying consensus politics is the way forward but I do think treating the electorate like adults would be a great thing. Sadly as we know the way to win elections is to scare people (see Tories, 2015) so I’m not sure the ‘kinder, gentler’ politics that Jeremy Corbyn desires will be embraced by his party, let alone by the wider world. This is JC’s biggest problem. Lots of Labour MPs have things engrained into them and it will take more than a leader’s vision to take it out of them. This will be one of Labour’s biggest issues going forward, it gives other parties a free license to throw the words ‘kinder’ and ‘gentler’ in the face of any Labour MP or candidate who throws mud.

Lastly one final bugbear of mine, these ‘Never kissed a Tory’ t-shirts, badges etc. – do these people actually ask everyone they kiss what political party that they are affiliated with if any? Do they go to a club, get drunk, spy someone on the dancefloor, shimmy their way over to them and say, ‘hey baby, I just met you, and this is crazy, I think I want to snog you but before I do I want a breakdown of everyone you’ve ever voted for?’ I think not somehow.

Why would you be proud of the fact that you hadn’t kissed a Tory anyway? Isn’t that you know, just a bit pathetic? I have friends who are Tories, who are Labour, who are Lib Dems, who are Greens, heck I have even been known to have UKIP friends (albeit a smaller amount). Someone’s political allegiance isn’t the overriding factor of a friendship or indeed whether I want to snog them. I would be stunned if it was an issue that stopped most people deciding if they wanted to play tonsil tennis with another.

If Labour really do want to be kinder and gentler then stop calling the Lib Dems ‘useless’ ‘lying’ ‘sellouts’ and stop calling the Tories ‘nasty’ and ‘Scum’. Seems pretty straightforward to me?

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September 30th, 2015 at 3:23 pm

On Labour’s one enemy – the Tories. If only they had kept that mantra 2010-2015…

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I had a link retweeted into my timeline just now and it made me shake my head in despair over what might’ve been. Paul Flynn MP has written a blog post entitled, One Leader, One Party, One Enemy. The blog is about how Labour’s coronation of Jeremy Corbyn as leader should further focus the minds of the party on who the real enemy is for them and that is the Tories. If only that was their mantra for the past five years then who knows how things would’ve panned out but of course is most certainly wasn’t.

For as we all know Labour spent more time, more column inches, more media sound-bytes and more leaflet words on berating the Lib Dems than they did on attacking the Tories. It was a easy win for them as winning over disaffected Lib Dem voters was a far easier job than winning over potential Tory voters. The only problem to this strategy was it was doomed to lead to another Tory led government and isn’t that exactly what the Labour party didn’t want? They had to decide whether they hated the Lib Dems more than they hated the Tories and they decided that the Lib Dems were the target of choice and to allow the Tories to lead the 2015-2020 government.

I choose the word ‘allow’ with thought because that is what they chose to do. Attacking the Lib Dems the way they did consistently over the five years of the previous government could only ever lead to a Conservative led government (note I don’t say majority as I don’t think anyone really saw that coming but still). This is a case of simple electoral mathematics that people don’t like but that is the way of the world. If there are more Tory/LD marginals than Labour/LD marginals then the wholesale collapse of the LD vote would lead to more Labour MPs but would lead to even more Tory MPs. It is quite basic stuff and when you are targeting LD seats at the expense of a Tory/Labour marginal then you know that you’ve drawn your line in the sand and that is that you prefer the Tories to the Lib Dems.

Take for example Ed Balls and Nick Clegg. One of the very few ‘surprises’ that wasn’t a surprise to me was Ed Balls going down. Everyone knew that he was in trouble and that it was an extremely marginal seat. Ed Balls wasn’t a popular consistency MP and he’d barely scraped home in 2010 so with the Tories not exactly down in the polls, basic logic had the seat as tight. However Tom Watson had a vanity project that was more important that ensuring Ed Balls’ survival and that was seeing Nick Clegg go down in nearby Sheffield Hallam. So instead of going all out to defend Ed Balls from a very embarrassing defeat, he had a mission to kick Nick Clegg out of parliament. He visited Sheffield Hallam on five occasions. Nick Clegg as we all know just about survived but Ed Balls did not.

If you asked Labour whether they would’ve preferred to win Sheffield Hallam but sacrifice Morley and Outwood then I suspect the blood lust would say that they would do that deal in a heartbeat. Swapping a Lib Dem for a Tory is a deal they would’ve done in a heartbeat. This has goes to more than suggest that the whole strategy and ire of the Labour party 2010-2015 wasn’t pointed at winning a General Election but by kicking the Lib Dems.

In the UK there is clearly a broad anti-Tory majority but in our political system to knock them off the other parties need to essentially have some form of cohesive strategy. That would include not to point their cannons mainly on other anti-Tory parties. Sadly in politics too many people like to play politics and shoot at everyone and in turn allow the Tories to come through the middle and win.

In 2015 the Lib Dem vote collapsed rightly or wrongly but in those seats where they could beat the Tories but didn’t, they didn’t win not because of poor local campaigns but because for five years the Labour party had been launching a vast media attack on the Lib Dems and thus allowed the Tories to take those seats. It is the classic case of winning individual battles but losing the war. That might actually saw up the 2015 General Election pretty well for Labour.

If the Labour party concentrate on taking on the Tories then it will do the opposite of what happened earlier this year. If it is Tory attack after Tory attack then in those Tory/LD marginals, the Tories might slip up and lose and in the Tory/Labour marginals the Tory vote will slip and go towards the red rose. In politics you have to pick your battles and know both who your real opposition is and know the best path to being the leading party in Westminster. For Labour it is training the cannons on the Tories and the same for the Lib Dems.

In 2015 the Lib Dems ran what was a defensive campaign aimed at keeping the seats where they were entrenched and dug in but sadly for them it failed because the national narrative was so anti-LD that people who were angry at the Lib Dems for betrayal were more happy to see them lose than they were for the Tories to lose. If you voted Lib Dem to keep out the Tories but felt betrayed by them because the Tories were so evil, then allowing the Tories to win just seems oxymoronic to me but what the hell do I know?

If Paul Flynn is right that the latest incarnation of Labour are there to take on the one enemy that is the Conservative party then that is a strategy that will best serve the anti-Tory cause. I still firmly believe that a Jeremy Corbyn led party can’t make the gains they need to win a majority. There are just too many constituencies where the demographics are not favourable for an extreme left party to come through. Yet having said that, Labour can dig themselves out of holes they created for themselves in many Tory/Labour marginals and if the narrative is once more not on how evil the Lib Dems are but how bad the Tories are then there are enough Tory/LD marginals that can turn yellow and keep the blues out of power.

I await with interest to see what the plan is, will raw emotion or shrewd strategy win the day? We shall see as they say…

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September 13th, 2015 at 3:06 pm

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On all eyes on Richmond Park for a mid-late 2016 by-election…

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Ah Richmond Park. The seat that everyone has their eyes on for a potential by-election in the near future. There are two reasons for this, firstly Zac Goldsmith’s long-standing viewpoint on what he’d do if the government decided that Heathrow should have a third runway and latterly his potential bid to become Mayor of London.

Well the second of the two possibilities is now out of the bag as Zac announced that he intends to run for Mayor of London, as long as his constituents give him the a ok.

He has written to all the constituents of Richmond Park asking, ‘Do you give your consent to Zac Goldsmith to stand for election to be Mayor of London?’ If the majority come back with a yes verdict then he’ll very quickly become the Tory frontrunner (sorry Sol Campbell) and would also become the favourite to win despite Labour’s strength in the capital. If they say that they would prefer that he didn’t then he would listen to the voice of the people who elected him and put his personal political ambition on the back-burner.

Zac isn’t what you’d call the typical Tory when you take out his background and money. As a strong environmentalist, he attracts support from Liberals and Greens and would without a doubt get a significant amount of second preference votes. He’d be very much in the mix to win it and extend the Tories run of running London since Boris deposed Red Ken in 2008.

The big question is whether of course he’d resign his seat in parliament should he win. The general consensus is that he would. Boris Johnson is currently an MP and the Mayor of London but that is a short-term job share. To do it over four years would surely be a very unsatisfying situation for both the residents of Richmond Park and London as a whole. Personally I don’t see it but the former winner of the ‘Best New Lib Dem blog’ who is actually on the ground in Richmond Park, Richard Morris, says that the rumour is that he intends to do both, which would harm his election bid I’m sure as I’m not sure floating voters would vote for a part-time mayor.

If he did quit and set into motion a by-election then lets be honest here – from a pure selfish point of view – it is exactly the seat that the Lib Dems would love to see a by-election in. A recent Lib Dem seat, a seat where the local party hasn’t fallen apart, a seat where the Lib Dems are still the clear alternative to the Tories, a seat in an region of London where the Lib Dems have recently been strong and therefore have a plethora of activists on the doorstep, a seat where the Lib Dems, now in opposition and not part of a coalition government can really attack.

Remember back in the 80s and 90s, the Lib Dems (and predecessors) were the kings of by-election successes in the south and only one party in recent political history has ever held a by-election seat when part of a government (that was the Lib Dems in Eastleigh but boy that was close) so holding a seat when you have a by-election when you are a party of government is notoriously difficult.

If Zac Goldsmith is the next Mayor of London and indeed does resign his seat then come the late summer or autumn of next year then we’ll see an opportunity for the Lib Dems to pick themselves up off of the floor and show that the party isn’t dead. I know its a year plus away but what better fillip to the party than a by-election in a seat where the Lib Dems have recent electoral success? If things go down this way and the Lib Dems could actually win then that would turn the corner of the party and of the perceptions of the party.

Many if’s make Neil hope (or something like that…)

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June 9th, 2015 at 10:29 am

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On why the Isle of Wight might just be UKIP’s big shock gain on May 7…

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I did not enjoy writing that title.

When Andrew Turner became an MP, I was one of his constituents. I was mere weeks away from being 18 so I couldn’t vote but I was an A-level students studying amongst other things politics at the time. He took the place of a Lib Dem, Dr. Peter Brand, who as I’ve written before was not a great constituency MP and it was no surprise that he only got the one term. To be fair, the Island is very Tory and his victory was mostly down to just being the alternative to a very disliked Tory party in 1997. In any place where the Labour party really weren’t organised or motivated along the south coast in 1997, the Lib Dems had the potential to win seats. That was the climate back then.

So anyway this is why I keep a close eye on the seat despite not having lived there since 2004. It was where I spent my teenage years and despite it being the butt of many jokes that I like to throw at it, I met and grew up with some excellent people.

One thing that some of you may not know is despite living here, I still watch South Today at 6:30 (and at 1:35) instead of my actual local news. I watch Sally Taylor, Jo Kent, Roger Finn, Tony Husband, Laura Trant, Peter Henley, Dani Sinha, Tom Hepworth, Steve Humphrey, Alexis Green and Sarah Farmer (I am impressed that I can recall all of them). I wouldn’t have a clue who presents the local news here but I would by them by face on the rare occasion that I’m watching #101 instead of #964, anyway as I often do I digress.

You see, the reason for the previous paragraph is that the Isle of Wight on paper is one of the safest constituencies in this election in the South Today region. Yet it is the one with the most mentions on the local news (bar Portsmouth South) and that is because Andrew Turner has not had a good run.

His local party tried to oust him as a candidate in part because his fiancee of 17 years left him and moved in with one of his parliamentary aides and the local party thought he’d become the laughing stock of the Island and today his agent quit due to believing his position was untenable and that there were questions over finances. Not a good look. Add the fact that Andrew has been the MP that has been representing the Isle of Wight whilst most of the schools have just collapsed and its become a falling environment for the Island’s young people then there are a lot of things against him.

All this on the backdrop of an elderly population and the Lib Dem collapse means there is a potential of a vacuum of voters who can be drawn in by UKIP. They got 41% in the European elections on the Isle of Wight last year, which is a staggering number even withstanding the fact many were just protesting. The Tories only got 26%. Many of the UKIP voters would surely have been expected to drift back to the Tories this time around but Andrew’s personal life coupled with his health issues will lead to people questioning whether he’s a competent representative for them.

Labour aren’t making a run here, the Green’s aren’t making a run and sadly the Lib Dems on the Isle of Wight are in retreat. The demographics look great for UKIP and the Tories have a candidate who isn’t terribly popular and his campaign only seems to have negative publicity.

I have long said that I think UKIP will only win one seat (Clacton) but there is the possibility that in certain seats which are naturally Conservative, an unpopular defending candidate coupled with no other real strong candidates to rally around the anti-UKIP vote could lead to UKIP surprising one or two. The Isle of Wight has everything going for UKIP and they were available at 20/1 not three onths ago and are now at 5/1 in most places. That number will come down. Had Lord Ashcroft polled the Isle of Wight then I’d bet a lot of money that UKIP would be very much in it and that is partly why I think it hasn’t been polled. The Tories don’t to give UKIP hope in a place no-one thinks they have a chance.

UKIP at 5/1 is far more value than the Tories at 1/7 and could they win the Isle of Wight? Yes they really could. No-one is watching and everyone may well be shocked as there is a lot of anger on the Isle of Wight with regards to politics and the demographics are perfect for UKIP. I’m not going to say UKIP are the favourites but if they were 5/2 or 11/4 then that would be about right. If UKIP’s ground campaign is good then this will be one of the big shocks of the night. Isle of Wight, a UKIP gain…

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April 28th, 2015 at 8:30 pm

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On Lord Ashcroft Polling, Iain Dale’s Predictions and Odds – Portsmouth South edition

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Ah Pompey South. My old stomping grounds. Yes I know I never lived in the constituency but anyone who was brought up a liberal in the area would always gaze wistfully at the seat. Being brought up in the Havant constituency, you knew David Willetts was waltzing in without too much drama.

Mike Hancock, old scuffball himself, has held on by his fingernails in this seat for a generation. Still his time is up and whilst he is standing as an independent, his odds of being sensationally returned to the seat as the MP are long, real long. They are longer than me scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup Final for Pompey next season and if anyone has seen Pompey (or me) play football recently then you know that you shouldn’t be taking the 50/1 on offer from the bookies for Mike Hancock to win here (seriously, 50/1? How tight are bookies being?)

Lets look at Iain Dale’s prediction first for this seat:

Sitting MP: Mike Hancock (LibDem)
Prediction: Conservative gain

This seat is now a genuine three way marginal. The LibDems are confident of retaining it despite the Hancock scandal. His successor is the former LibDem leader of the local council. That is a double edged sword as council leaders generally have a lot of enemies.This seat has never had a huge LibDem majority since it was won by Mike Hancock in 1997. It’s always ranged between three and six thousand. It’s difficult to assess the impact of the groping scandal, but on top of their national woes, it could be that the Tories win back what was once for them a safe seat.

Hancock has failed to squeeze the Labour vote as much as some of his colleagues, and not so long ago they managed a healthy 25%. If they return to those levels the Tories will win, unless Labour do incredibly well nationally. In that case a Labour gain isn’t out of the question.

I’d very much contest the notion of this being a three-way marginal. This is a two-way seat. It is blue or it is orange. Labour have never won this seat and in all honesty they’ve never been close. In the Blair landslide of 1997, they were still 15% shy and third behind the Lib Dems and the Tories. Portsmouth South just isn’t Labour territory, the anti-Tory vote has been encircled by the Lib Dems and whilst some of these votes will drift away because of both the Hancock saga and the national issue, that vote will go to UKIP. So lets scratch Labour off the potential winners here despite Lord Ashcroft’s constituency poll of November 2014.

In said poll, Labour were third on 20% behind the Tories (30%), Lib Dems (25%) and just ahead of UKIP (17%). On the surface that looks encouraging for three of the four parties and not so for the Lib Dems. Yet when it comes to casting a ballot at the ballot box, the people of Portsmouth South know they have three real options. Firstly the Tories, secondly the Lib Dems and thirdly the protest vote and that would go to UKIP.

The headline number of the Lib Dems being 5% behind in the Ashcroft Poll was actually not half as bad as it could have been. I do hear things from the ground in the constituency because I still know a lot of people in the area. The support for UKIP is significant but not enough to really contemplate a win. They are looking to act as a spoiler and build for the future. So this election will come down to whether the Lib Dems can keep most of the anti-Tory vote or whether that drifts to the Greens, UKIP or even Labour. The Lib Dems need to retain 80% of the vote that was purely Anti-Tory to win. A tough ask.

Flick Drummond is the Conservative candidate who has good local credentials. The Tories are really attacking this seat and you can see why they are the favourites across the board. However I am surprised that aren’t shorter than they are. On the exchanges they are available at 8/11 and are rated as a 42% chance of winning by Betfair. The Lib Dems have a 27% chance of winning with UKIP and Labour sub 10% (with again the ‘others’ at 17% – others in this instance being the Greens – I am thinking Betfair are overcompensating for the Greens in Lib Dem held seats).

I think Mike Hancock standing is a much bigger blow than Gerald Vernon-Jackson was saying on South Today this evening. He is saying internal polling says it makes little difference and whilst it might not, there will be people who go into the ballot box on May 7 and put their x next to Mike Hancock without thinking.

The Tories are available at Evens if you look around and that is a cracking price. I’d like to see GVJ pull through but I think it’s a real tough one. The Lib Dems are available at 6/4 and that is too short. I think Ashcroft’s polling is wrong in that the Labour vote will drop significantly as Labour voters in Pompey South will lend their vote but I really do expect the Tories to squeak this one out by 2,000 or so. For GVJ to pull through then the UKIP vote has to come from over 50% ex Tory voters and I think it’ll be smaller than that, with a smattering of LDs, Lab and former non-voters making up the majority of UKIP’s vote.

I do hope I’m wrong on this one but I think the Tories finally wrestle back Portsmouth South but it is a seat that will go down to the final days of campaigning and if Nick Clegg performs well in that final Question Time seven days out from voting day then that alone could sway it but the smart money is on the blues (which is very rare to say in Pompey these days – I’m still backing you Andy – you can turn things around!)

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March 30th, 2015 at 6:31 pm

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

with 4 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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February 10th, 2015 at 3:36 pm

On…’Let Clegg Be Clegg’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let Clegg Be Clegg.

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February 3rd, 2015 at 4:38 pm

On the Lib Dems plans in Southend come May and local political blogging…

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Southend’s newest sensation of the political blogging scene has finally turned his attention to the Liberal Democrats after his recent attacks on the Greens, the Tories and UKIP. In a piece entitled, ‘Where have all the Liberal Democrats gone?’ he opines about the parties fortunes in the borough.

Now I’m not going to fill in all the blanks for him as I don’t want to spoil his fun by bringing knowledge to the situation, that isn’t seemingly what his blog is for. Julian Ware-Lane has always led the field in local political blogging but now he forms a two-headed tag-team and whilst I would love to sit here and be aggressive about it, it is actually fun reading and credit where credit is due, between them they do lead the way in Southend political blogging. Whether much of what they write is fair or written with strong Labour specs on is another matter but they do churn out content.

I was asked the other day if I had any advice for him and I casually replied that he should invest in a copy of McNae’s. All the cool kids have one (myself included) although I aced Journalism Law at university and am pretty confident that my blurbs never skate even near the line.

He questions whether Cllr. Paul Collins’ big defeat (and lets not beat around the bush – it was a big defeat) in Westborough last year is the reason for having no PPC selected for Southend West as yet. I can answer that question, No, No it isn’t. I can give a much more informed opinion of why there is no PPC in place at this point but this is not the forum. I’m being a good boy today.

As for when a PPC will be selected and announced, I’d expect movement to happen on this subject before I’ve raided the Cornish Bakehouse for my Monday four double chocolate doughnuts for £1.50 treat (seriously if I lived within walking distance of that bakery then I’d eat so many freaking double chocolate doughnuts it would be insane).

On the Rochford & Southend East issue, this is a much harder candidacy to fill, I think that is fair comment. The party across the land have lost many members and many good candidates are disillusioned, that is the truth and there is no hiding from this fact. The Lib Dems in Southend are not immune to this but I’m sure there will be a candidate on the ballot for people in Rochford & Southend East to give them a Lib Dem option. Who knows maybe it’ll be a 31 year-old double chocolate doughnut enthusiast? Who knows…? (I know but I don’t want to spoil Matthew’s hypothetical fun)

He really does think the Lib Dems are dead in the water as he predicts that the party will lose Leigh ward but still be a junior partner in the administration come the summer. Well with four councillors (which is the number he predicts) then the Lib Dems would be the smallest party (or group) on the council. If that is the case I’d hope the Lib Dems step aside and allow the other four groups to form an administration. I said this in 2014 that Southend had (rightly or wrongly) rejected the party and should they go down to the fifth largest party then I can see no reason why the party should be involved in the administration in any way. Also losing Leigh ward would be a real kick in the teeth for the party but if I was a bookmaker I wouldn’t be putting my mortgage on that result just yet.

Also he sincerely doubts that the party will be able to find a full slate of candidates across the borough, well lets see what happens eh? I’m not saying I know the answer as nomination papers etc. haven’t been sent out yet but I have an idea as to whether the party will go 17/17 I wouldn’t want Matthew to be unduly surprised so I’ll give him fair warning to not worry too much about the Lib Dems in Southend on this front. If the party goes 17/17 it won’t be a shock but if they don’t I wouldn’t exactly have a heart attack either. Sincerely doubts is probably over-stretching.

I’m not going to sit here and say everything is rosy in the Southend Lib Dem garden because it isn’t. I’m a realist but I also wouldn’t be writing the obituary just yet either. I expect a very good person will be selected as the Southend West Lib Dem PPC within a few days. Just because Matthew Dent isn’t briefed on the inner workings of the local party doesn’t mean nothing is happening. If he is so interested in finding out all the gossip before everyone else I will happily offer him the chance to resign from the Labour Party and join the Lib Dems, then he can write with all the facts, wouldn’t that be novel?

Look I enjoy his blog, I really do but I always struggle to trust any politco (including my lot) who basically say that the party they are a member of is great and everyone else sucks. The political spectrum is relatively narrow as the main political parties are all realists but when in opposition they’ll widen that spectrum to appeal to a wider set of voters before actually narrowing what they do in power because sometimes there is only so much money in the pot etc.

Labour introduced tuition fees and they introduced privatisation to the NHS. The two big sticks they use to attack the Lib Dems and Tories respectively, they actually started. This isn’t political rhetoric, it is fact. It just goes to show that all political parties will often take the same road when presented with similar financial options. The whole funding of new hospitals and new hospital wings with private money was fantastic short-term but has crushed many NHS trusts financially but as Julian Ware-Lane told me on twitter, ‘The GE will be a chance for voters to pass judgement on the ConDem Govt. What happened before is history.’

So the Iraq War, introducing (and trebling) tuition fees, starting the privatisation of the NHS, crushing NHS trusts long-term with sky high rental costs of new buildings, being in charge of an economy that collapsed and let the bankers run wild is all in the past and doesn’t matter. Therefore by the 2020 General Election I’m sure the fact the Lib Dems were in a coalition or anything the Tories did in power between 2010-2015 if they find themselves in opposition won’t matter and won’t be mentioned by any Labour candidate. Yeah right…

I’m not saying Labour are bad. I’m not saying the Lib Dems are great. The truth lies somewhere in the middle and determining where that is for all of us personally should determine where our vote goes. Same with the other political parties. This is one of the things that I really deplore about politics, just how black and white politicos and candidates get whereas in reality most things are a shade of grey to some degree. I’ve written many blog posts both praising and attacking the Lib Dems for what they are doing in government and I like to think that this is a mature attitude and not just acting like a political sheep.

So anyway that will be all. Short version is the Lib Dems in Southend aren’t dead yet and things are going on. Many local candidates are in place and just because they haven’t been announced yet, doesn’t mean that they aren’t. I think it is fair to say that bountiful success is not expected in May but nor do I expect being last in every seat with no votes whatsoever. The reality will be somewhere in the middle. The Southend West PPC will get selected and announced in the very near future and the Rochford & Southend East candidate will be next on the list but who knows who it will be…? *has a twinkle in his eye*

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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January 16th, 2015 at 6:00 am

On Nick Clegg and the chances of losing his Sheffield Hallam seat in May

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Oh Sheffield Hallam. The baying public are looking for this seat to provide the Michael Portillo moment. The evil bugger Clegg who sold his soul for a car. Sold out Forgemasters for reasons unbeknown to his mere mortals. Laughed in the faces of students when he turned around and not only didn’t consign tuition fees to history but in fact actually increased them. He also married someone he loved but she was foreign, I mind how fucking dare he fall in love with a non English person and then naming his kids with traditional Spanish names, who wears the trousers Clegg, who wears the trousers? I know that happened ages ago but it still needs to be reiterated.

There is of course no doubt that he’ll lose his Sheffield Hallam seat because he is the most evil of the evil. A man so evil that Montgomery Burns bows down to him as a hero. A man so two-faced that he actually wears a prototype invisible neck brace that was paid for by you – the tax payer – after millions of secret pounds of research were poured into it to stop him feeling the effects of whiplash. A man so dastardly that Mutley now lives with him. A man so blue that unlike every other smurf, he even pisses blue and not yellow.

In case you can’t tell I’m being sarcastic.

The Guardian wrote an article that they have written before and will write many times between now and May over the weekend, Could Nick Clegg lose his Sheffield seat in May general election?. The first five paragraphs of the article concentrate on an encounter Clegg has with a 53 year-old who usually votes Lib Dem but intends to vote UKIP this time. Is he voting against Clegg because he thinks that he is evil? Well no, he’s voting UKIP based on the issue of foreigners and actually says he likes Clegg and has listened to him talk many times and is impressed by him. However his vote is going to someone who hasn’t been selected yet based on reasons that Clegg couldn’t actually do anything about.

The writer goes on to say that the Labour candidate is playing up two things against Clegg, one the Forgemasters loan and one is he doesn’t care about Sheffield Hallam and is busy in Westminster. The article also states that he actually spends two days a week in his constituency, which is actually a very high number for a minister in a non London based constituency but still. The Labour candidate is getting no central money, is starting from a standing start with no ground game, in a seat which is very affluent and remembers the bad old days of Labour in south Yorkshire before the Lib Dems came in and wrestled the seat from the Tories in 1997. This is not a seat where Labour have any realistic hope of winning yet all the talk from the media will amp it up to a crazy and unfair level.

I have just had a look at the Betfair Exchange and Nick Clegg is 1/10 to win. Labour are hilariously at 3/2 – I mean lay that bet as much as you can folks. If people want to throw their money away then feel free to help them. Labour are 19,000 odd votes behind in a seat with no history, where the council seats even in recent elections have been flat out dominated by the Lib Dems and people don’t think Clegg is evil.

As I’m a kind type of person I’m going to help you try to understand how likely a Nick Clegg defeat in May in Sheffield Hallam.

List of things that are as likely as Nick Clegg losing:

Kermit the frog coming out and admitting that he has cheated on Miss Piggy with George from Rainbow.
Pat Sharp not being greeted as the second coolest student union visitor (Karl Kennedy from Neighbours will always be #1)
Jeff Stelling resisting a pun whenever Gareth Jellyman scores.
I get asked to be the fifth coach on The Voice and the fifth judge on The X Factor is a shock duel role as the main influential voice in the music industry.
Kevin Pietersen captaining England in the World Cup.
The existence of dragons gets confirmed and they in fact don’t like the Welsh.
Kay Burley gets through the General Election campaign without being involved in a clash with someone on camera.
Nigel Farage quits his role of leader of UKIP to play basketball for the Harlem Globetrotters.
Ginger kittens will stop being cute.
Ginger women will stop being feisty and extremely attractive.
The People’s Republic of Southsea finally declares independence from the UK.
Leprechauns not liking Lucky Charms.
The Mirror publishing the Ed Miliband bacon sandwich photo on the front page for every day of the General Election campaign with the headline, ‘Ed has Tommy K instead of HP Brown because he’s red through and through’

and lastly…

I’ll attract a female partner before the General Election.

I think that sums up the odds of Labour winning Sheffield Hallam seat once and for all. Look I know Nick’s majority will be reduced, I know he won’t waltz it based on his name but I also am a man of numbers and logic. Despite what Labour activists believe, not everyone pours scorn on Nick Clegg. Plenty of people still believe that the Lib Dems are the better option than the Tories and in seats like these, that is the decision they have. UKIP will take votes from all three parties but nowhere near enough to challenge. Labour will pick up some disaffected Lib Dem voters, of that I have no doubt but look at the numbers. I know in politics people like to publicly say that they are always in it to win it but most of the time candidates are in it to fight the good fight, to give the electorate the option and to build momentum going forward.

So lets not all get our knickers in a twist (for the record at this juncture I am not wearing knickers but boxers) about Labour’s chances of pulling off a Michael Portillo moment. It isn’t going to happen. There will be 100 more interesting battles in March-May but sadly because of the narrative the media will have this seat as #1 because it fits their storyline and that my friends is oh so depressing, the media attempting to create the story because they want sex and excitement. The fact Labour aren’t giving their candidate here any money shows what they really think but still it is the good local man trying to beat the evil Nick Clegg, I mean who wouldn’t want that to be the big story of the campaign? It isn’t the big story of the campaign but the news media don’t report the news these days, they direct and set up the news narrative and that is a problem with modern society and modern news companies.

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

January 12th, 2015 at 6:00 am

Posted in Politics

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Nigel Farage disgusting comments on HIV and my views of sex education

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Folks. Sometimes I wonder why I am involved and interested in politics. My political views are well known and the term, ‘bleeding heart liberal’ has been thrown at me more than once. I looked up the definition of the term, ‘a person of left-wing or liberal views (i.e. of helping the poor, siding with the oppressed) who is deemed to be excessively soft-hearted’ and I don’t think it is really justified in my case. I am not excessively soft hearted, I like to think that I have a good heart and firmly believe that our place as human beings is based primarily on equality and not on where we are lucky enough to live, or the circumstances we find ourselves in.

The problem is that there is a stirring in the UK, a stirring against that very notion. UKIP’s strength is coming primarily from people who believe that they are more important than others. If they have a problem then they deserve help but if another person has the same problem then they don’t. That I struggle with so much. I’m not saying that at times I’m not a selfish individual because at times sure I am, but I don’t ever think that people should be treated differently because of any circumstances.

This brings me on to an article I read this evening in the Independent. The piece entitled Nigel Farage on HIV: Why the Ukip leader’s remarks may actively hinder treatment in the UK made me so sad. I mean genuinely sad.

Nearly 60 countries from around the globe deny entry to people with HIV or Hepatitis B according to the United Nations. These countries include the Bahamas, the Kingdom of Brunei, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sudan, the UAE and Yemen. All of them very liberal and forward thinking democracies. Well maybe not.

Nigel Farage thinks that Britain should only accept ‘quality people‘ and when pushed he responded, ‘people who do not have HIV to be frank. That’s a good start. And people with a skill.’ I mean c’mon folks. C’mon. I haven’t been exposed to HIV and as far as I know, no-one that I know has HIV so my knowledge of the condition isn’t great but I know enough to know that people with HIV can live for a significant amount of time and be extremely valuable members of society. HIV is a disease that can be spread but the UN say that restricting entry does nothing to protect the public health. The best way to deal with the disease is to better educate people.

I like to think I’m relatively educated. I’m not the smartest guy in the world but I’m also far from the least educated. Education is a vital issue that as a nation and as a race we need to embrace when it comes not only to HIV but also to the potential spread of all diseases. The more we know then the more we will know how to prevent the spread of diseases. The implementation of better sex education will do wonders compared to illiberal and draconian measures about banning people from entering the country if they have a disease.

This is something I’ve written about before. I was severely unprepared in my education with regards to sex. I mean the sex education I received was pathetic. It consisted of one day in Year 9, so I was what, 13? and if I’m being 100% honest with you, I wasn’t ready to learn. I thought the whole thing sounded disgusting and I had no interest in it. We all grow up at different rates and there will have been others in my year who surely felt the same. No doubt many of my fellow students were tremendously excited. Still I do remember most of what we were taught and I don’t think many people were adequately prepared by the sex education we received.

Now it is what, 18 odd years later and my knowledge is more rounded and I’m more prepared but that is due to my own personal education. It is clear to say that I’m not your typical person. I have not exactly been that sexually active in my life. I am sure there are others who, unlike me, may well have been extremely sexually active but be just as uneducated. This is a problem we have as a society and this I firmly believe has helped allow UKIP to form views like this and not see their whole façade shatter.

The thing is the Tories aren’t completely clean of this stain. In January, the following Conservative MPs, Stephen Phillips, Stephen Barclay, Tracey Crouch, Dominic Raab, Graham Brady, Charlotte Leslie, Mark Field, Nigel Mills, Jonathan Djanogly, Chris Kelly, Bob Blackman, Jonathan Lord, Craig Whittaker, Conor Burns, Karl McCartney and Sir Gerald Howarth added their names to an amendment that two Conservative MPs (who are doctors) in Dr. Philip Lee and Dr. Sarah Wollaston supported to do what Nigel Farage wants to do, to refuse entry to the UK of anyone who has HIV or Hep B. Do these people not understand that by doing so, it doesn’t protect the public or is it that they are pandering to those who are ready to be scared because they don’t know the facts?

I saw an interesting stat the other day, an Ipsos-Mori poll asked the public how big a percentage of the UK population was made up of non native people. The public said 31% whereas the actual number is 13%. When people don’t know the truth then they’ll form opinions based on incorrect information. This is the scariest part of politics and is the reason that UKIP are free to pretty much say whatever they want and are relatively teflon. People will easily believe something when it backs up their uninformed viewpoint. If you then attempt to bring facts to the case then they’ll tell you that facts can tell you anything. It shows that more people than ever before seem to be willing to close their minds and if that isn’t the scariest thing then I don’t know what is.

On the other side of the ledger it should be said that younger people are more open minded than they ever have been and that brings hope. They might not be voting Lib Dem for whatever reason but more than ever before would describe themselves as liberal. Young people are more accepting of people who are different. We are all unique and we should be free to express ourselves as such. Society though still dictates how many of us live our lives and we are afraid of ruining our reputations or careers because we may be different to other people. This is something our education system is woefully failing at, education isn’t about exam results but it is about preparing people for the world and letting people find who they are. This is key when it comes to sex education. Without good knowledge and an open mind then young people will think they are wrong or twisted or weird or depraved or immoral or whatever if they have urges that differentiate from the perceived ‘norm’. I speak with first hand knowledge on this matter.

In a way I feel as though I’m lucky that I didn’t let these feelings engulf me and make me feel worse than I initially did. I always had the thirst for knowledge and learned that things aren’t wrong or twisted or weird or depraved or immoral. They are just different. Nigel Farage, those Tories and a depressingly large number of the people in this country though are intolerant of those who are different. Banning those with HIV or Hep B from entering this country wouldn’t help solve the problem of the diseases spread but would further stigmatise those who have the disease.

What needs to be done is clear. It is so clear. People need to be better educated with facts instead of scare stories or school yard gossip. The better educated not only the youth of today, but all of us are, then the better we’ll understand what the problem is and how best to deal with it, instead of just pandering to an uneducated vocal majority who are scared because they don’t know the facts. As human beings the more scared we are then the more desperate and receptive we’ll be to solutions that don’t actually solve the problem, but sound like they will. This is a real problem that we need to understand and deal with. This is why UKIP are doing so well.

People are scared and in all honesty I don’t know why. If you are scared of what you don’t know then the best way to deal with that is to become more informed and not do what too many people are doing, putting their fears and worries on to a political party who inflates this fears and worries. Maybe that is just me but I don’t understand why people are willing to listen to rhetoric without knowing the facts. That isn’t using the brain that we are blessed to have to the best of its abilities. I don’t care if people have different opinions to me, that is life, but when they have such strong and radical opinions based on a severe lack or even no knowledge then that makes me sad. My opinions evolve as I gather more information on many, many things, as do everyone’s. Unless you allow yourself to gather more knowledge and information then your opinions will never change and that isn’t part of the human journey.

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

October 12th, 2014 at 7:55 am

Posted in Politics

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