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Month: November 2012

Boots Christmas Adverts 2012 – Let’s Feel Good…

I’ve been thinking for a few days to do a post on Christmas Adverts but I will do a quick one now just for the Boots adverts. They have done one main advert with clips of several stories which is 1m long and then they have done shorter 30s ads delving slightly deeper into all of the stories which I happen to think has been most spiffing. I really enjoyed the housemate finds love one as it reminded me of a situation I was in not that long ago. I also really fancy the ginger girl in it but then can someone point out a ginger girl who I know that I don’t fancy? Answers on a postcard…

So anyway here are all the Boots Christmas adverts for 2012 starting with the main one and then working our way through the other stories. I hope they bring a little smile to your face just like they did to me.

Main Ad.

Getting mum back out on to the dating scene.

Perfume for mum.

Girls go travelling.

First Shave (short)

The awesome one – housemate finds love.

Behind the scenes.

Well I know they made me smile and for a brief moment become less of a grinch. Don’t worry I’ll be back to my grinchy ways soon enough.

PS: If any advertising executives are reading I am available to star in TV adverts alongside women of the ginger haired persuasion. I probably wouldn’t haggle too much over fees just FYI…

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When can we question an MP’s sanity? Has Tory MP Phillip Lee reached that point yet?

I had never heard of Phillip Lee – the Conservative MP for Bracknell until about five minutes ago. He came into parliament after being put into a nice safe Tory seat in 2010 and hasn’t done much (if anything) to make waves in the national media…well until yesterday.

If you want to have doughnuts for breakfast, fine, but there is a cost implication. We need to match actions to consequences – at the moment that does not happen.’ he told the guests an an event organised by the Institute for Economic Affairs think tank. So those who develop a disease should pay for their treatment of said disease if they could be found at fault for getting said disease. This is surely a very slippery slope that the MP – who is still a practising GP – is saying we should go down.

He went on to say:

‘We have got to be bold here, we have got to be decided that the National Health Service in its current form is not sustainable.

‘It probably can limp on for the rest of this decade but the reality is the pressures coming from the baby boomer generation and their expectations of health care, their perceptions of pain and suffering is profoundly different to their stoic parents who survived the war.

‘It’s time we actually got quite realistic about this because if we don’t we are going to lose what most people would want in this country which is access to care when you need it irrespective of your means.

‘In which case, if we don’t start reforming now and actually accepting that the way Nye Bevan designed it in post-war stoic Britain has got to change then we are going to end up with collapse and the free for all and the pretty disgraceful situation you find in the US.’

I am all for reform in some capacity but here is where the line has to be drawn – that care is free at the point of contact – of that there is no debate. You should not be penalised for anything when it comes to the NHS. Just because you like doughnuts doesn’t mean you should have your right to free care stopped.

Now I have never been aware that our National Health Service is only applicable to people who have been afflicted by ailments that are not of their own doing. Do we start not admitting people to A&E if they are dunk and have fallen over? Do we say those who have smoked and developed lung cancer should be denied treatment? What about the families of those who have smoked who then have developed lung cancer? Will we have to have extensive inquiries as to whether these people did enough to stay out of the way of smokers?

Look I totally get the notion that we as individuals have to take more care of ourselves. I am a good case in point. I have a BMI just above the 25 that is the top level in the ideal zone. I was well below that but my exercise bike broke and I haven’t got around to buying a new one yet. I will but I just haven’t done so yet. I eat a pretty unhealthy diet but since changing Cherry Coke for juice as my staple drink of choice I have become a lot healthier just on that one simple lifestyle change. Should I be punished if in later life I develop diabetes before of my actions and addiction to sugary drinks in the past?

Also why single out those who eat doughnuts for breakfast? Have we seen a clinical report that has been widely accepted that if you eat doughnuts then you will develop diabetes or is he just using them as an example? What if you eat muffins for breakfast? What if you eat doughnuts for lunch and not breakfast? It is like he was just ‘thinking aloud’ and that is the type of thinking aloud that he really needs to wean himself off of.

The NHS is not there to decide who deserves free treatment and who doesn’t. It is there to treat patients who are unwell. It should not judge on lifestyle and I don’t see that a middle class family who can afford fresh fruit everyday should be treated any differently to a family who are having to get by on a cheaper (but less healthy) diet.

I truly think that his thoughts at this think tank were pretty disgusting and I hate the fact that he is being so open about judging different patients and he is a GP. No doubt he has patients who are now worried about how much he is judging them whenever they fall ill and have to go and see him.

I’m now about to go to Asda to get some lunch. I’m worried about what I eat in case it invalidates my right to free NHS treatment…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lib Dem Bloggers (and readers) please use LibDig more

Like most of the Lib Dem Blogging community I am listed on Lib Dem Blogs. However I probably only peruse it three or four times a week to see what other people are blogging about. I generally check out other Lib Dem Blogs via their RSS feeds on my Google Reader or if I see someone post a link on either Twitter or Facebook. The other thing I use is LibDig. If someone has put a blog on LibDig then I pretty much always read it and also pieces that are put on LibDig often show up in the Golden Dozen on Lib Dem Voice.

The reason for LibDig is for Liberal Democrat members to share good pieces that might interest other Lib Dem members. So if you see anything good that other members might well be interested in then why not share it with many other Lib Dems who may have missed the piece?

First of all if you are interested in following the blogs that other Lib Dems have recommended then follow @libdig on twitter. Whenever someone submits a piece to LibDig then the twitter account will automatically publish a link to the piece. If you are like me and get a lot of your reading material from twitter then this would be most handy.

Now if you see a piece that you think other Lib Dems might like to read then submit it to LibDig. It is really very simple. Go to the website and login using your Lib Dem Account password. Then simply submit the URL via the submit’ link and put its title and a brief overview of what the piece is about and then submit it. Simples as the meerkat would say.

When it is submitted it’ll both draw attention to the piece via twitter but also for the Golden Dozen. There are so many good pieces out there that I miss and no doubt many of you miss as well so the more we can share the really good pieces then the better for all of us.

Here ends the blogging broadcast on behalf of the Use LibDig More Party.

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Picking my Test Match XI of my generation

Last night (well in the early hours of today) whilst watching Australia v South Africa in the second test from Adelaide I was laying in bed and trying to work out my Test team of my lifetime and decided to blog about it so here we are.

I am only including players I saw who were at the height of their game in my watching life. This means that players like Botham and Marshall – two players who would certainly be in the mix are not going to be considered. Also this is not a ‘best team of my generation’ but more a team that I’d put out if I had to win a Test match. Also for the basis of this team I’m saying the Test is not on the sub-continent so only one spinner will play.

So we start with my openers and one is easy – Graeme Smith. Smith I think is a class act both in mind and skill. He averages a tick under 50 as a Test Match opener and has that gumption about him. His opening partner was more tricky. I love Chris Gayle but could I trust him? Matthew Hayden was terrific and Virender Sehwag is explosive but I think I’ll have to go with the little master Sachin Tendulkar. He averages a tick under 55 in Tests and is a magical player.

Next up we have the middle order (3-5) and boy have we seen some great5 players in my time. Here is a brief look at the players who I’m not picking…Steve Waugh, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Hashim Amla, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Kevin Pietersen, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Rahul Dravid. That is some list of players but I think 3-5 is actually really easy. I’d have Ricky Ponting at three, Jacques Kallis at four and Brian Charles Lara at five. Kallis also provides the fourth seamer option as he can easily give me 10-15 overs in a day.

Now at number six is without a doubt my most controversial choice and in so a player who most people wouldn’t even think of. I think in the middle order you need at least one player who can be the glue is everything is going wrong. This is another spot where Rahul Dravid could easily have been picked or Mr Cricket himself – Michael Hussey but I’m going with my only English player – one who played 100 Tests for England and was always the guy you wanted to see coming in at 30/3 if times were hard – Graham Thorpe. He averaged ‘only’ 44.66 but was always the anchor when England needed him. A team full of All Stars probably doesn’t need that anchor but I’d still want one so Thorpe is in for me.

Coming in at seven is Adam Gilchrist who has the gloves. I don’t think anyone would argue this. Averaged 47.60 in Tests and changed the way we viewed wicketkeeping. Do I need to say much more about this? Not really. Don’t have to justify it as no-one else really got a look in despite my love of Mark Boucher he wasn’t in Gilly’s league.

Coming in at nine would be by spin bowler and in was a two horse race. Either you pick Muttiah Muralitharan or like me you select Shane Warne. Also here is the surprise. Warne never captained Australia in Test cricket but he would be my captain. I think Warne is one of the finest cricketing brains out there and there is no doubt he is the greatest captain Australia never had.

With Warne coming in at nine that means I have a pace bowler coming in ahead of Warne (which shows great depth in batting). I just about saw Wasim Akram in his prime and for me he has to be in this side. His pace and swing was years before his time and his long time opening bowling partner Waqar Younis could be seen as hard done by not to make the side. However Wasim is my first change bowler so I have a strike pair yet to be announced.

Glenn McGrath is a no brainer. Australia had the best spin bowler of all time and the best pace bowler of his generation in McGrath playing in the same team. That is in no small part to why they dominated the sport. He’ll bat at 11 and at 10 and taking the new ball with McGrath is Curtley Ambrose. I know Courtney Walsh had a better record but I always felt that when at full pace and when he was really up for it Ambrose was the hardest and fiercest pace bowler of his generation. I was a huge Ambrose fan. Players like Walsh, Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock and Andrew Flintoff got a brief glance. Flintoff as a bowler was extremely good but he was never an all-rounder (apart from his very early years).

I think this team has every angle covered. I know a couple of players would be questioned (Thorpe and Ambrose certainly) but this is all subjective. If we were just having a ‘best players in my generation’ team then Kevin Pietersen may well had made the team instead of Thorpe and Walsh’s consistency may well have knocked Ambrose out but I think Thorpe and Ambrose bring something to my team that Pietersen and Walsh don’t (steel and raw aggression).

So to recap:

Gilchrist (wkt)
Warne (Capt)

If I was picking a squad of 16 for a tour you can add Sehwag, Pietersen, Boucher, Muralitharan and Walsh and I’m still not picking players I truly loved like Chanderpaul, Ul-Haq, Hussey…we have seen real quality in recent years. I might well do my generation team for T20 games in the near future and if I do I’d be interested to see how many of the Test players make that squad…I’m putting the over/under at five but I haven’t really thought about it yet.

Who would make your Test team if you had to pick a team to win a Test match of only players you’ve seen play?

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The stigma of being ‘weird’ and ‘creepy’ that hovers like a spectre…

Last night I was having a conversation with a nurse at the hospital (I wasn’t at the hospital – good old Facebook) and we were gossiping about another nurse and a situation that we are both looking forward to as and when the Hospital Radio is reopened and she was saying that I needed to be more spontaneous and maybe go around with mistletoe in the upcoming weeks when doing my ward rounds. I shuddered at the thought and it reignited something deep down inside.

We are all moulded by our life experiences. I think that is pretty evident to us all. My own life experiences with regards to the opposite sex have been somewhere between woeful and horrific. Now of course a lot of this is very much water under the bridge but it still lays dormant in my psyche.

You see at school I wasn’t a popular boy with members of the opposite sex. In fact I think I would go as far to say as I was rather unpopular. Even within my own social group I was without a shadow of a doubt the most unpopular male of the group amongst the females present. I knew this and at times I would question myself as to why and wonder what had I done. Now of course if you asked these people even to this day ‘who was the weirdest and creepiest boy you knew at school?’ I fully expect that I’d come out light years ahead of anyone else.

I look back on events like when one member of said social group said that the New Years Eve Party in 1999 would be so much better if I wasn’t going – and the moment I heard those words come out of her mouth there was no way I was going and I’d prefer to stay home alone. I wasn’t going to put another person’s nose out of joint. I distinctly remember things like this and they are not isolated incidents. If I thought anyone was uncomfortable in my presence then I would do (what I thought at the time) was the right thing to do – stay the hell out of the way.

Now I know that (or do I know – maybe believe?) that this may not have been the best course of action. That may be in fact have been even weirder and creepier to just stay the hell out of the way. Where I used to work a few years ago the girls there thought I was weird and creepy and yet I pretty much blanked them and didn’t really ever engage in conversation with them. Yet that was weird and creepy.

I think it all stems from that lack of self-confidence as a kid and once you have it then it is hard to overcome. Now I know some people are reading this and thinking I’m being defeatist and selling myself short but here’s the thing – I know that in the vast majority of cases people who actually get to know me and invest time in doing so like me – they like me a lot. People with whom I spend time and am relaxed around generally like me. The issue has always been people making snap judgements on me and obviously I must give off a bad ‘vibe’.

This is why I still would never do anything spontaneous with people whom I hardly knew because I know deep down that the majority of women in the first instance do not like me – and a significant percentage of them think I’m weird. Now it should be said here that most people that know me know I’m weird but also they know it’s not creepy weird so I could be far more spontaneous as it were with them.

The truth is I make a bad first impression. What I do or do not do I don’t know but apart from that blip last year that I have written about previous it has been six and a half years since I translated a first date into a second date. Now I’m not saying there have been 100s of dates in that time but I think we are certainly using both hands to count and maybe a foot as well.

Personally I think the major issue is I don’t have that bed of self-confidence as a rock underneath me. Instead I have a plethora of bad memories and being told that I’m a creep and a weirdo and hence why I take the step-back approach. I would be stunned if I ever became the forward-thinking and forward-acting person when it comes to relations with the opposite sex. I need a lot of positive body-language (and when I say a lot it needs to be overpowering) before I do anything. Maybe doing nothing is the creepy part. Maybe doing the wrong thing is the creepy part. Whatever I do I fail and do you know what? Deep down I am fine with that and have resigned myself to that.

For example I know that I cannot flirt. I would propose that I had more chance of nailing Heston Blumenthal’s signature dish snail porridge one my first go than I do of successfully flirting with somebody (and when you consider how awful I am at cooking then that says even more). Is this because I don’t have the mental capacity to flirt or is it to do with not having that rock of confidence underneath me? I think we all know the answer to that (the latter…).

So to round up I think my lack of self-confidence has evolved over the years. These days I believe in myself a lot more and I fully believe that most people would like me if they got to know me (which is significant progress on the Neil of a decade or so ago) but I also still know that my first impression is not great in a lot of instances and that I give away a creepy vibe despite being really not creepy. I mean the moment someone says I’m being a bit weird or creepy I done. I mean totally done. As I said before this might even be being more creepy but who knows.

All I know for sure is I’m moulded by my past experiences and my memory is not full of people saying I’m amazing but more people saying I’m a bit weird and that they are not comfortable around me. This is just how it is. This is why I stay very much in my shell until I have the confidence of knowing people don’t think bad of me and then I can flourish but until I have that belief in any situation I will always revert back to the knowledge that people will think I’m a bit weird and creepy when they first meet me and that as they say is that.

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The NUS are undertaking #demo2012 today but why are the University of Manchester strong-arming societies and what good will it do?

Well folks today is the big day. I’m getting married… psyche! As if. No today is the today the 18-22 generation are going to change not only their own futures but change the world. Yes it is the National Union of Students 2012 Demo as thousands of NUS kids flock into the capital to tell the government of the day that they don’t care about the young generation and they feel they need to change everything in Westminster and bring back the Labour Party who never introduced tuition fees and never proposed a students tax that students would be paying back for the rest of their lives. No the Labour Party would save the students…

There are several issues that I’d like to talk about and the first is the fact a major metropolitan university seemingly tried to strong-arm their student faculty into buying tickets to go to the demo in London. This university was the university of Manchester whose SU sent out an e-mail saying, ‘In order to be sure of Silver or Gold Award, societies will need to send 10 members to buy tickets (£8.50 to London is an absolute steal!) and thus show support for the national student movement.‘. The person in question who sent out this e-mail was Tommy Fish who is Activities & Development Manager. Having done a spot of research his job doesn’t seem to include ‘heavily implying societies should be doing things to ensure their funding for political purposes’ but maybe I just missed it?

Look I’m no legal expert but I’m pretty sure saying that funding would be guaranteed by purchasing so many tickets for this demo is pretty stinky and kinda blackmail-y? Or maybe it is just greasing the wheels but either way it stinks. Flat out stinks.

There is an e-petition about this entitled University of Manchester Students’ Union: Society funding should not be contingent on endorsement of political causes and I’d fully implore you to sign. As the petitioner shows it isn’t about the demo itself but is about whether funding from the Student Union should be dependent on societies being able to buy tickets to the demo and sending a minimum amount of people to something that they may not have a big issue with.

I think that is a disgrace but lets be honest a lot of this is a disgrace. I’m fully down with free speech and if these people want to protest then I have zero issue with that but what I do care about is whether they are spreading lies or untruths with their reasoning for demonstrating. The official Demo 2012 website says that the protest is about Education, Employment and Empowerment. I can understand the first two but the third is a bit bizarre but still lets look at the three issues one by one.

Education is important. They say, ‘The government has placed this under attack from all fronts – by scrapping the EMA, slashing undergraduate teaching funding, increasing tuition fees, introducing draconian restrictions on international students, cutting funding for post-graduate students, hiking fees for adult learners looking to gain basic skills, causing funding chaos in the nations…‘ One issue I have with this…does education start at 16? By the sounds of it according to the NUS it does. Do they not care about the Pupil Premium and ensuring that more people get a better education throughout their first eleven years of compulsory education?

I have said it before and I’ll say it again. I’d prefer everyone to get a better education for the first eleven years for free and then have to pay beyond that if the alternative was free education for all after 16 and having an inadequate education system up to 16. If they are the only two options on the table I want to fund compulsory education to the fullest that we can and that is where I stand. Therefore I can’t stand alongside these demonstrators certainly when I look at how Americans have much worse student debt and how it was pretty much a straight choice (in the real world and not in idealistic la la land) of either dumbing down education for making people pay (in the long term – not in the short term) for good after 18 education. I mean seriously they were the options so what would you do?

Moving on to Employment and I can see what they are talking about here. I took two years after university to get a full-time job so I know what it is like. It is a genuinely soul-destroying experience so I do think the government need to find a better way to encourage young persons employment. So yes this is an issue and something that should be talked about more and if the protest just talked about this then I could see good, solid reasoning behind it but alas it isn’t.

Lastly Empowerment. Basically the NUS are saying that the Lib Dems lied and that they want the Lib Dems obliterated so that the Tories can screw them even more after 2015. Wait a minute they actually want Labour to win as Labour will save the day and make higher education free for all. Vive la revolution but of course if the Lib Dems were all kicked to the curb there are more Tory/LD marginals than Labour/LD marginals so if the Lib Dems withered and died in 2015 then Labour would lose. Woes. One line I love from their official website is thus:

Politicians have let education and employment slip off the agenda, but now we have an opportunity to create a movement that empowers us to take back our future.

Education and employment have slipped off of the agenda? Are you freaking kidding me NUS? Are you freaking kidding me? Are you sure this is true or is this pathetic propaganda to fit your narrative and try and justify your demonstration? As a politico I keep a pretty close eye on what is going on and do you know what? I’ve seen employment and the economy pretty high up in what is going on – in fact I think I’d go as far as to say it is the biggest issue out there that the government are tacking.

Also Education might not be top of the pile but it is certainly not being ignored. The Pupil Premium is out there and expect more Pupil Premium news in the next budget. Just because in our 24hour news cycle world you don’t hear about Education every single day it doesn’t mean it is being ignored. If you want people to take you seriously then don’t make stuff up. The NUS are fast becoming ‘the boy who cried wolf’ and they aren’t being listened to or trusted any more. People probably trust Newsnight and The X Factor more than they do the NUS – and that my friends is saying something.

Lastly and least importantly (but still deserving of a mention) is talk about what these people will be chanting tomorrow. Stace talks about it here and you can get a screenshot of the proposed chants here and whilst the fact they need cheat sheets might actually be the biggest issue the chants do nothing to further their cause and are just politically motivated (and in some cases are just flat out lies). They need to decide if they hate David Cameron, Nick Clegg, the Tories or the Lib Dems more. At the moment there is no cohesive argument apart from Labour seem great.

Look I know I was only a teenager at the time but I don’t recall mass NUS protests when The Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998 came into force. Yes I recall some dissatisfaction but I don’t recall mass protests. Are we saying that £3k is fine and a Student Tax would be fine as well but a £9k maximum is too far? Or are we saying that Labour’s proposals are more favourable because the NUS are essentially Labour Youth? I would love to know whether the people protesting today are protesting about the fact students should pay anything or about the fact the Tories and the Lib Dems are in power?

If the protests today were just about raising awareness of young persons unemployment then I’d back it but it isn’t. It is about politics. The fact that the university of Manchester’s Student Union are strong-arming their societies is extremely troubling but it doesn’t surprise me. Many large student unions are staffed by people who have never worked out in the real world and still believe in idealistic claptrap. Well I live in the real world and things aren’t perfect. Young unemployment is a real issue boys and girls but kicking out the Lib Dems for making the decisions they did on tuition fees and not being realistic with budgets, finances and even the increase in education spending for compulsory education for the most needy is not.

All this demo will do is give a few people criminal records for being idiots. Give the police a hard day. Make many people feel big and important and do very little (or indeed nothing) to further their cause. Demonstrations are great if something can come of it but are the government going to change course because of this? No. Are people going to change their 2015 General Election vote on the strength of this? No. So what good can it do? Please tell me folks what good can this do?

I await your responses *watches tumbleweed flow through*

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The Lib Dems are not a protest party any more. We need to understand that.

Last week wasn’t a great week for the Lib Dems. Three Westminster by-elections and no MPs and even one lost deposit. No Lib Dem PCC’s and I don’t think the Lib Dems even got down to the final two in any of the races. It is sounding glum but cheer up folks as the Lib Dems actually made five gains at local level and even held three seats. If you don’t believe me maybe you’ll believe Helen Duffett writing it up for Lib Dem Voice? She is generally regarded as more trustworthy than I.

Anyway I also blogged last week on the fact the Corby result wasn’t as horrific as everyone wanted to make out. The fact UKIP gave the Lib Dems a bit of a thrashing (and not the good kind from a ginger haired beauty wearing a PVC or latex corset stroking her various whips whilst I’m chained to a Saint Andrews Cross*). No this was a thrashing in the political sense that humbled many Lib Dems and made Labourites proclaim the party as a non-entity whilst UKIP men were willy waving that they were now in fact the third biggest party in the land (yes based on one by-election) and UKIP women were doing whatever they do (they obviously can’t willy wave due to you know the fact they don’t have willies).

I have been roundly lampooned for this piece because people do not actually want to delve into the numbers. They just take the raw numbers as is and that is all that matters. The Lib Dems were never going to win in Corby – not because the people in Corby are not liberal – heck I even know a Lib Dem member in Corby – but more due to the fact the two big parties saw this as a huge seat and worked extremely hard and the Lib Dems were not seen as a protest vote any more and that is something we as a party have to understand and adjust to. The Lib Dems are not a protest party any more.

The Lib Dems can’t simply win seats either at council level or at national level just by saying ‘look we aren’t the Tories and look at how bad Labour are too – we’re different – vote for us.’ That time has passed and the Lib Dems have now grown up past their cute inoffensive stage and are now fully fledged teenagers in political terms. We are generally disliked and written off by many who are waiting for us to either become young and cute again or to just by-pass the next decade or so and go straight to adulthood.

In general people don’t like teenagers. They are spotty, they are smelly, they have a terrible crisis of confidence in one hand but on the other think they are most important and interesting beings that have ever set foot on this planet. Teenagers in general are the most trouble but also they provide the greatest hope for the future. You can still see the sparkle and the idealistic eyes gazing back from them. It makes the teenage phase of life one of the most demanding for a parent and one of the most uncertain for the teenager in question. We’ve all been there and we know exactly what it is like.

The Lib Dems are now teenagers and they are growing up very fast. The party now has to stand on its own two feet and can’t just say bad things about the other two major parties and expect that to be enough. This is a very important time for the Lib Dems not only externally but also internally. Plenty of Lib Dems quit the party due to the coalition and then the tuition fees issue. Many more followed after the NHS Bill and no doubt more over the Welfare Bill. I can’t sit here and type with a concious and say that some of the things the Lib Dems are helping to do is good but I am saying that the alternatives might actually be worse.

I’m young enough to still be idealistic – heck I’m a Utopian at heart – but I’m also rough enough around the edges to know that we don’t live in a Utopia and that hard decisions will have to be made. Look at local level and budgets being slashed and poor councillors are pretty much screwed whatever they do. To balance the budget councils up and down the land will have to cut front line services. There is not a lot they can do about this apart from try and spread the load so everybody feels a little bit of pain instead of a small percentage of people getting severely burned. However as we all know people are all NIMBY’s and would prefer those who aren’t them – or people they know and care about – to take a disproportionate share of the pain. I do genuinely feel for councillors up and down the country.

Nationally the budget also needs to be balanced and to do so people will feel pain. Some say that balancing a budget is pointless and we should ensure that no-one feels any pain and ignore the problem and it will eventually go away. Well I don’t agree with those people. I think we should be grown up and that is why I’m a coalition backer and can even swallow the bad things knowing that walking away would in most likelihood lead to far worse. If someone said to me that I could have my arm broken but that would be it but if I chose not to have my arm broken then in all likelihood I’d have both my arms and legs broken down the road I’d take the arm brake and deal with the pain for long-term health. This is kinda how it is like nationally.

Yes I’d like more pillaging of the rich to ensure as few people at the poorer end of things get harmed by cuts. For example those people who are saying they are losing child benefit even though they are earning £50,000 a year…you know what shut the expletive up. I’d prefer for you to have a few fewer theatre trips this year than for single parents to not get help with child care. I hate the benefits cap idea and this deserves a whole paragraph of its own so…

The benefits cap isn’t about fixing the budget. It is primarily about willy waving (yes I got it back in – willy is the word of the day) to Middle England who think that those on benefits are on benefits because it suits them. Well you know what Middle England? That is true in only a small percentage of cases. The vast majority of people are on benefits because they need them. The biggest concern to me is housing benefit. What the Tories want is to create ghettos where poor people live so the rich people can live in the expensive areas without those poor folk hanging around. That is deep down what they want and this is what they are going to get come next April as people are told they can’t afford to live in certain areas any more.

Every few weeks you’ll see a story in the Daily Mail with a headline similar to this, ‘These Albanians are living in a £2million house in Kensington and yet this hard working Middle Class family with two kids have to get by living in a three-bedroom semi-detatched on the outskirts of London. How is this fair?’ The comments will generally call the Albanian family everything under the sun and my soul rots that little bit more. Are they saying that Albanians shouldn’t live in Kensington and the nice nuclear family should because that is what it sounds like. I like the idea of social housing. Heck I’m from a council estate myself but I don’t like the idea of being forced to live in certain areas and basically eliminating social housing from certain upmarket neighbourhoods because of a benefits cap.

This is really not good and yet it is going to come into force and I still won’t walk away from the Lib Dems because of it even though those in government have supported it. The reason is simple. The alternative could really be worse. The current situation of a coalition means just that. Two parties with two very different ideologies are sharing power and you can’t get everything you want because that isn’t what the public voted for. The Lib Dems are doing good things in government – they aren’t just pandering to their evil Tory overloads (use of evil and overlords used for poetic license – I think the Tories are neither evil nor our overloads) – they are making small steps forward. Issues such at income tax thresholds, pupil premiums, sharing of parental leave, new rights for mental health patients, gay marriage, things are getting done. Yes things are not all sweetness and light but the choice is simple – work hard to make life more fair and liberal for all as well as curbing the Tories tendency for self=preservation or walk away and allow a minority administration that could get nothing done leading to a deeper economic mess.

That doesn’t sound like a good idea to me. I don’t like working with the Tories (nor Labour for that matter as they are just as bad). I’d like to see a Liberal Democrat government but that just isn’t going to happen any day soon so the best thing to do is do the most we can as a party to bring our values to the government of the day.

This brings me back to the title of this blog (I think I went off track there for a brief moment – or 1,000 words or so but still…). The Lib Dems are growing up real fast and the people who are still with us are starting to grasp that and sitting back and saying ‘look, give us a try, we’ll do better than them’ just simply isn’t good enough any more. The protest parties are now the Greens, UKIP, the BNP et al. This brings me back to my blog post from last Friday. A nationwide UKIP assault in 2015 would actually be a good thing tactically for the Lib Dems because whilst the Lib Dems would be losing that protest vote – the most logical place for our protest vote to go is the Green’s or at a push Labour.

In the south against the Tories these options might not be available as the Green’s will not put up candidates everywhere and people will still vote tactically. The protest vote against the Tories will go towards UKIP instead of the Lib Dems whereas the Lib Dem protest vote will probably just stay at home at stick with the Lib Dems believing they are better than the other option. So the big question is will the Tories will more votes to UKIP than the Lib Dems lose to apathy/dissatisfaction or Labour? The answer to that question will probably decide the make-up of the government from the summer of 2015.

If the Lib Dems want to succeed then they’ll try and get through this teenage phase as quickly as possible. The Lib Dem core vote as not defected. It is either in hibernation or it is still there. People who vote LD because they agree with what they say will not defect easily to other parties as only the Green’s are a natural home and they won’t put up candidates across the land. The vote the Lib Dems have lost are from those who saw the party as a protest against the other two main parties. These people will now vote for the other protest parties as well as many who are simply ‘Anti Tory’ who will now vote for Labour but those people in Lib Dem/Tory seats are still reachable for tactical voting purposes.

Things might be bleak folks but the sun certainly hasn’t set on the party yet. The Lib Dems are evolving and this spell in government should harden many Lib Dems resolve that they can actually do good things and aren’t just a party full of idealists. If it can harden our resolve it can also seep into the minds of the electorate that whilst the Lib Dems are not as awesome as they thought when they thought they were simply an ‘Anti-Tory’ party in their minds – they might actually be a grown up party who can get on with the job and aren’t just playing politics.

This is the one thing that has always stood out to me as a Lib Dem voter – and subsequent member – that the Lib Dems politicise far less than the other two parties. Personally I’d prefer someone who is willing to get on with things for the greater good and not just blame the other party constantly. The Lib Dems might not be perfect on this (far from in fact) but they are better than both the Tories and Labour and if I can notice and appreciate that I’m pretty sure millions of people out there can as well – and they are the people who are still reachable from a Lib Dem viewpoint.

*My mother reads this and I’d like to point out this has never actually happened. More’s the pity. Also I am an equal-opportunity submissive so the lady in question doesn’t have to have ginger hair.

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Why I quite simply love Agony Aunt pages #109

I’m having my boyfriend’s baby… but I’ve also been sleeping with his dad‘ is the headline in the latest Dear Deidre piece in The Sun. Lets be honest here…a headline like that is going to clicked by me 100 times out of 100. I can’t get enough of it even though surely most of it is made up because some of the stories are so unbelievable that if someone really was having the problems they were purporting to have then I’d seriously worry about the human race – even more than I do normally.

Anyway lets look at this piece. I won’t copy and paste but if you want to read the whole thing then the link is up there. Basically a 25 year-old woman is having a relationship with a 26 year-old but she was having an affair with his 46 year-old dad because he was basically there and apparently he is much more caring than his son.

Yes this caring 46 year-old is sleeping with his son’s girlfriend whilst they are living under the same roof. Yes sounds like a real gem if you ask me. I’m pretty sure a dad shagging his son’s partner and having a prolonged affair is the very definition of caring. I’m sure I read that in my dictionary. It is either that or this woman has pretty much not got the defination of caring down to a tee (is it tee, tea or t?).

Now she’s pregnant but it is the boyfriends because the dad was away on business for six weeks so the timings don’t add up for him to be the father and she’s chosen to keep the baby but doesn’t know what to do. Luckily good old Deidre can – and does help.

I know you’re torn but you’ve decided to have your boyfriend’s baby so you owe it to your child to try your best to make your relationship work.

It’s bound to be torment sharing a house with his dad so really make an effort to find somewhere else to live before your baby is born. Meanwhile avoid being alone with him. He wasn’t too decent to have sex with his son’s girlfriend.

I have bolded that last bit for emphasis. That is surely the thing here. Now I know (and you know) that the father is an absolutely terrible father. Even if he did have feelings for his son’s partner he can’t do anything about them – certainly when they are still in a relationship. Heck even if it happened after they had split up it would be an decidedly iffy grounds. The father to be honest sounds like scum of the Earth – certainly not the caring chap that the woman in question believes him to be.

I don’t know how anyone could be so blinkered to believe that a father who is sleeping with his son’s partner is anything but caring. He might make you feel good but he’s doing something so very wrong.

So anyway yes. Just another reason why I love agony aunt pages. They make me feel better about myself. Maybe that is secretly what they are for? They might just be there to make us all feel as though our private lives could be so much worse. I am relatively sure any good, decent, caring fathers out there wouldn’t be doing the naughty with their son’s partner. Seriously I need to get over this but I just read that piece thinking ‘Are you freaking serious…?’ and lampooning the woman (if she exists and isn’t a figment of someone’s imagination) for being so stupid as to describe the dad as ‘caring’ it beggars belief.

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How to keep up to date with The Rambles of Neil Monnery

As The Rambles of Neil Monnery closes in on half a million views in it’s short 18 month life (on this server – I didn’t transfer the old stats over – doh) I thought I would post a blog just to point out the many ways you can keep up to date with the goings on here on the blog:

The easiest way to keep up to date is to subscribe to e-mail alerts. You can do that on the top right-hand corner of the screen. Just enter your e-mail address and you’ll get an e-mail whenever a blog is published (unless I override which I do every so often, i.e. if it is a guest blogger or other circumstances).

You can follow me on twitter. I tweet a fair bit mostly about politics or sport or TV – so pretty much like i do on this very blog. I will also tweet whenever I have uploaded a new blog post. You can follow me @neilmonnery

Another easy way is to like the blog on Facebook. If you do this whenever a new story is uploaded it will come up in your timeline like the below graphic. You can like the blog by clicking on the ‘The Rambles of Neil Monnery on Facebook’ box on the right-hand side of the page or by going to The Rambles of Neil Monnery page on Facebook and liking it there.

Rambles of Neil Monnery on Facebook
Example of Facebook timeline entry if you like the blog on Facebook.

I (like most other blogs/websites) also offer an RSS Feed service. You can add our raw RSS Feed to any RSS reading service. This is yet another way you can use to keep up to date on my latest pieces.

Of course the other way is to just keep logging on to the website. It is updated often with various rubbish that hopefully you’ll either find semi-interesting or worthwhile reading. I hope you enjoy the blog and I’ll endeavour to keep writing and hopefully entertaining or at the very least thought-provoking.

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.