Tag Archives: Labour

Hanging Around – No Change There, Then

7 May

Paddy Ashdown this morning:  The British people have spoken; all we have to do now is work out what they said.

Cartoon: A HUNG PARLIAMENT (medium) by Tim Leatherbarrow tagged politics,hungparliament,general,election

 

Anyone who thinks that politics is boring should take a look at what’s happening here in the UK today.  No party has an overall majority; the Lib Dem bounce left them flat on their faces; some people – in Britain, of all places! – didn’t get to cast their vote; and no-one knows who is or should or will be in charge.   

If you think your vote doesn’t count speak to Glenda Jackson, who retained her majority by only 42.  What if she had been in a constituency that turned away voters after ten o’clock?

My fellow in the Stockport ward came second, but he did reduce the Labour incumbent’s majority. 

Despite my Tory convictions, I am disappointed in the Lib Dem showing.  When I saw the Exit poll last night predicting only 59 seats, I was convinced it must be wrong – as did almost every political operator in the land; but it has been proven right.   So much for a three-horse race, the power of the debates and a strong showing in the polls.  On the other hand, I am relieved: I don’t want a government that wants to introduce pass law-lite or leave me without a bomb to hide behind.  I guess when it came down to it, most Brits agree with me on that, at least.

Spud was gutted not to be able to stay off school and watch the results come in this morning.  Tory Boy has been helping to fight a new seat but that result won’t be in until this afternoon.  I think I can safely take a bath without missing anything newsworthy.  I certainly need one: the thought of the horsetrading to come over the next few days leaves me feeling rather grubby.  But that’s democracy for you.

 

 

Ooze Update

1 May

I’m still feeling rough but at least I’m only having to blow my nose once every fifteen minutes instead of fifteen times a minute.  Who knew there was that much mucus in one woman’s body?  My right eye has opened up again but aches; my left eye won’t stop crying.  I can hear in one ear now.  I hate colds! 

There are benefits, however: today, I am going to be leafleting in my area for my local Conservative candidate.  We are in a strong Labour ward.  I am confident that I will escape physical abuse from outraged socialists because they won’t want to catch my germs.  Would you risk punching a snotty nose?  Me neither.

I had a nightmare last night: I was taking a writing and wallpapering class on a winter beach and everyone was mean to me.  I slunk away with hunched shoulders and they all got swept out to sea by a freak wave.  Do you think it’s a message?   I should lose interest in politics and everyone will vote Conservative?  You never know.

Sorry if I am a little incoherent: I didn’t sleep well.  Not just the nightmare and nose gunk; the last thing I did before turning off the light was listen to a dramatisation of Daphne Du Maurier’s The Birds on Radio 4.  No sign of Tippi Hedren, but there was an over-protective husband who was too unwell to work and determined to protect his family no matter what…then the Hub came to bed.  No wonder I had a nightmare.

Sweet dreams, dear reader.

 

 

The Big Let Down

16 Apr

Hmm. 

I typed that first word and then sat here for ten minutes trying to follow it with my reaction to last night’s debate.  It was all very British, wasn’t it?  Civilised and polite.

I left home at four-thirty; hit Manchester at five-thirty; hopped on the free shuttle bus – hopped being the operative word because I tripped over a kerb and had to be helped up by a man in a wheelchair – and found myself outside Granada Studios by six p.m.  The queue was way down the street.  Most people were like me, giddy with excitement, and there was a lot of laughing and teasing about opposing political views, but no unpleasantness.  A lady called Yasmin had us in fits of laughter and impressed us with her political knowledge; she later confided that she is the prospective Labour candidate for Bolton South East.  Shame; I liked her.

It took forty-five minutes to get through security but part of that was a disagreement between me and a security guard who swore he had given me my tag for my bagged phone (all phones were confiscated at the gate) and I had to practically strip down to my underwear to prove that I did not have it.  The security guard, having been backed up by the man in the queue behind me, who insisted he had seen him tear it off, then found it still attached to the bag.

TV staff were everywhere, armed with clipboards and head sets and all dressed in black.  Whenever one spoke to me I said, ‘Isn’t this exciting?’ I apologise for being so uncool; I just couldn’t help myself.  But you know what?  Every single one of them beamed in reply and said, ‘Yes it is!’  One girl told me they would all have worked for nothing to be there.

The information letter that came with the ticket said that we would have to park our bags but we could take small items in our pockets into the studio.  When we got there, they said we had to park our coats as well, which is how I came to be clutching two tissues, a lip balm and a raffle ticket for more than three hours.  By the time I got out I had a palm full of warm balm and a soggy mass of tissue without having at any point blown my nose.

We were offered refreshments in the replica Rovers Return Inn but I had to delicately spit out my egg sandwich because the mayonnaise tasted funny.  I didn’t fancy throwing up on national television in front of a squillion viewers and if I had been overcome and tried to make a run for it, MI5 might have shot me.  With my dying breath I would have gasped, ‘It was the egg wot done it’ and thus started a twelve month inquiry into a sandwich conspiracy that never happened, leaving the government with egg on its face and a bad taste in its mouth.  

The room was warm because of the hot air rising from 250 animated guests, when we were suddenly shut up by a two-fingered whistle from someone on the ITV staff.  Some names were read out and those people were taken away.  It was a bit like that Dr Who episode where everyone wants to go to Floor 500 but when they do they are never seen again and bad things happen to them.  No explanation was made and we didn’t know if we should be relieved or envious that those people had disappeared.  Maybe they were the ones who were going to ask the questions during the debate; maybe they were culled: ITV over-invited to allow for no-shows, etc.  Those people not part of the audience were given the option of watching in the food room and taking £20 for their trouble. I was safe, thank goodness: I needed to put as much space as possible between me and the eggs.

At around eight o’clock we were herded into the studio via Wetherfield Police Station, which was a clever use of a dull building, I thought: they just plonked a sign on the front of it and presumably film the actors going in and out.  We walked down stairs and through a storage area and saw – wait for it! – the Countdown Conundrum prop.  What a piece of tat that was close up.  We arrived in the studio and were allocated seats.  I had the misfortune to be placed behind a cameraman sited in the middle of the audience, but was lucky enough to be slightly to his right, so that I could see David Cameron and Gordon Brown and could watch Nick Clegg on the camera.  Pity poor Hannah sitting to my left, who could see nothing but the cameraman’s bum.  I invited her into my personal space and she spent ninety minutes with her head on my shoulder or knee, but at least she could see and I, on my best behaviour and having foregone the egg, did not break wind until I got home.

Maybe I should have done a massive pump around nine o’clock because it would have livened up the debate a little.  The media is using terms like ‘heated’ and ‘cut and thrust’ but inside the studio it was…lacklustre.  We had been warned not to clap, cheer or harangue the (I keep wanting to call them ‘contestants’) participants but it made for a complete lack of atmosphere.  I also think it stifled the debate.  I wish it had been more like Prime Minister’s Question Time or the BBC’s Question Time, because they are always lively.  None of them seemed passionate about their cause; it was disappointing. 

David Cameron surprised me on two counts: he looks as airbrushed in real life as in his posters – he must have good genes; and he came across as sincere.  I have never felt that about him until now.  I was impressed by his NHS stance and that was the stand-out policy of the night for me.    He appeared to be the most nervous of the three but I liked that about him because he is always so polished, a sort of Tory Blair.  I thought he had the most gravitas of the three; but I would say that, wouldn’t I?  When they shook hands with people at the front he looked in my direction and I gave him a big, totally uncool thumbs-up.  He smiled so he might have seen it; or he might have been wondering how MI5 let the mad woman slip through security.  You can never tell with politicians.

Nick Clegg had nothing to lose, of course, as just being there gave him a credibility he has not had before; but some of his policies were surprisingly attractive though I think he is naive on Trident and I would not vote Lib Dem for that alone.  Pundits have praised him for speaking into the camera and slated the other two for not doing so, but in the studio it was annoying, because it seemed as if he was ignoring us for the bigger audience.  It makes political sense, of course, but feels rather like being the actor’s spouse at a Hollywood party who no-one cares about and who is left holding the egg sandwiches.  He lost me towards the end because he was so inclusive I was expecting him to ask his mates Dave and Gord to pow wow round the camp fire singing a chorus of Kum Ba Yah.  I think three viable parties would be good for British politics and I also think the Lib Dems will do well in May, but I don’t think Nick Clegg is the man for the job.

When the leaders came in I gave them all big smiles, particularly Gordon Brown because I wanted to lull him into a false sense of security.  He is not high in my esteem but he sank lower and lower as the debate went on, particularly when he kept insisting that Government waste is helping the economy.  His smile is even creepier in the flesh and I really think there should be a law against it.

I would say that I enjoyed the experience but got little from the debate.  I’d like to have seen shirt sleeves rolled up and a big – though dignified – ding-dong going on.  I’d like to have seen passion and enthusiasm.  I found myself checking my watch a couple of times, but I made sure to do it when GB was talking, just in case the cameras were on me. 

My verdict: on the whole, a wonderful experience, it was nice to be a part of political and television history; a good night out, but not a great one.

*

*

I’ve been so busy with politics,

I almost missed the deadline

for today’s napowrimo poem;

can’t think of much: this is mine.

*

 

 

 

More Questions Than Answers

6 Apr

Big news for Britain, if you weren’t paying attention: a general election has been called for May 6th.  But it’s not news in the sense of real news, of course, because the press pack had already moved into London over the Easter weekend, waiting to hear the worst-kept secret in Britain.  Our polling cards arrived in the post this morning which means they must have been printed last week at the earliest.  Rumour has it that ITV, SKY and the BBC have been trawling for audience members for the big debates, so they must have had an idea when the election was to be called.  The phony war is over: let the campaigning begin.

If you are eligible, will you vote?  It depresses me, the apathy for politics in this country.  Was it Lenin who said politics affects everything?  I’m not sure that it was, but when I Googled it I did discover that he said, ‘The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation.’  Labour & Conservative could both use that as a campaign slogan: Labour to keep the militants on side and the Conservatives to attract the rest of the country, who should be scared witless by now that Labour could conceivably win a <shudder> fourth term.

It’s no secret which way I swing but I was prepared to give Labour a fair hearing for all of five minutes, until I heard Mr Brown tell us just how ‘middle class’ he is.  If we live in a country where race, gender, inclination, nationality, etc. are irrelevant, then why is class permitted as an issue?  Why is it wrong to judge a person on the foreign accent with which they speak but okay to judge a person for having a posh accent?  That smacks of double standards to me.  If we shouldn’t blame the former for an accident of birth, why should we blame the latter?  I don’t accuse Mr Brown for being Scots so why should he be allowed to accuse Mr Cameron for being upper class?  Is Mr Brown saying that he is better than Mr Cameron simply because he is middle class?  And if so, and we are obviously working the system backwards these days, does that mean we shouldn’t vote for Mr Brown because he is not working class, which, by his logic, is the best class of all?  It also begs the question, why no working class leader of the party that is championing the cause of the working wo/man? Is this how the election is going to be run?  On class lines?  Is that because Labour have no viable policies with which to tempt us?

Let me state for the record that, while I dislike Mr Brown, I am not enamoured of Mr Cameron: he’s a little too much of a Blue Blair for my liking.  However, I have been watching him over the last couple of years and he’s growing on me.  I won’t be voting for him, but for the party which he leads because they are in my ideological corner.  At least I’ll be voting; will you?  Have you even bothered to register?  If you are a woman, remember it was less than a hundred years ago that we were given the vote at all.  I stood in line alongside thousands of newly enfranchised men and women in South Africa in 1994 and felt privileged to be a tiny part of history.  Wars are fought (were you invited to the Boston Tea Party?) and people die for the right to vote, even today, and you can’t be bothered to turn out?  Shame on you. 

I am not saying you should vote my way, but that you should vote.  You should stand up and be counted or this blog may descend into an orgy of  clichés and I will drown in a pile of platitudes.  You wouldn’t want that to happen, now would you?  They say the people get the government they deserve: if Labour get in again, I know who to blame.

.

 

 .

Yesterday’s prompt was to give your poetry a name and write about it.   I am not satisfied with my effort and I will probably re-write it at some point.

.

My Name Is Discovery

.

Shuttling from pen to page to pc,

my endeavour is the sonnet, the pun,

the couplet – heroic or otherwise –

the clever epigram: an odyssey

that begins in an empty head.

.

Each rhetorical enterprise

leaves me spent; until the next time:

blank space becomes word

becomes poem becomes a thing

that it did not set out to be. 

.

I am challenger, agitator, explorer.

Erupting from mind and heart and hand,

discarding, destroying, discovering. 

I was not, once; and now I am.

.

.

%d bloggers like this: