2015 Labour Leadership Elections

Post length: 1,027 words, about 4 and a half minutes.

As the Labour leadership campaign rumbles on I find myself torn. There are four candidates standing — Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall — but one has been the subject of the most media attention.

Jeremy Corbyn has excited the media by seemingly being the outsider who has defied the odds to become the hot favourite to win the contest. Along side this Corbyn has got the media’s interest by being a staunch socialist — arguably flying in the face of today’s standard centrist “they’re all the same” image of politicians — what some paint as the party stepping back in time.

From a personal point of view I’ve been in the uncomfortable position recently of finding myself agreeing with Tony Blair a couple of times. Putting aside that people seem to find it strange for an outspoken socialist to be in a strong position to challenge for the leadership of what is supposed to be a party built on socialist foundations, the prospect of Corbyn becoming leader of the party rings alarm bells for the prospect of being elected in the 2020 general election. [read more]

Posted on Monday 17th August, 2015 at 9:43 am in Obiter dicta.
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August 2015 Films

Post length: 678 words, 3 minutes.

Monica and I recently reached the 1 year anniversary of being a Cineworld Unlimited Card holder. After a year Unlimited Card holdersĀ  are privileged to be upgraded to premium unlimited. In reality this means you get a little bit more of a discount at the snacks counter, free access to 3D films (in the first year of membership you have to pay a 3D uplift) and a slightly smarter black membership card.

As part of this we have been tending to go to the cinema at least once a week on Friday after work, and this involves planning. On Tuesday Cineworld announce the film times for the weekend ahead. It’s only then that we get to see if the film we were hoping to catch that weekend is actually going to turn up in Aldershot. The best website we’ve found for checking out upcoming films, and how likely they are to be shown at our local cinema, is the Film Distributors’ Association’s UK film release schedule.

We’ve found the site is only complete with dates and venues about a month in advance, so at the start of this month I decided to take a look at what films we might try to catch this month: [read more]

Posted on Monday 10th August, 2015 at 4:23 pm in Arts & Ents.
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Diplomacy in Friendly Europe

Post length: 476 words, just over 2 minutes.

Paul Brummell‘s team published something on his blog last Wednesday which illustrates to me exactly what the British mission in Romania should be striving to do. At the end of a run of blog posts celebrating of 10 years of the embassy’s internship scheme, they posted the answers to three questions posed to alumni of the scheme ahead of the anniversary party. Some of the answers were touching and some made me feel a sense of pride in what the UK’s mission in Romania are doing. I don’t mean to belittle the good diplomatic work that I know the British embassy in Bucharest do (personally, see this), of course, but in the grand scheme of world diplomacy a mission in a stable, friendly European country cannot be the most challenging of postings. For me it raises the question of what a British embassy should be doing in a country like Romania. [read more]

Posted on Monday 27th July, 2015 at 10:33 am in Obiter dicta.
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Mark & Spencer in Aldershot Town Centre

Post length: 471 words, just over 2 minutes.

Marks & Spencer, AldershotThe announcement made by Marks & Spencer at the end of June that they intend to shut their Aldershot Outlet store must have come as a real blow to the town’s management team. Rushmoor Borough Council have been pumping money into regenerating the town’s pedestrianised shopping area, the area in which the M&S Outlet takes centre stage. The unit itself is one of the largest in the town centre and sits in a key location half way up the high street directly opposite the town’s main shopping centre, The Galleries. As one of only a handful of clothes shops in the town centre, the closure of the shop would leave a gap in the town centre in not just a physical sense — there would be a severe lack of quality clothing outlets too. [read more]

Posted on Thursday 2nd July, 2015 at 10:31 am in Obiter dicta.
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Local Elections 2015 in Farnham Castle Ward

Post length: 214 words, almost 1 minute.

In the last few weeks the media has been full of information about the general election, and there are plenty of resources out there to help you find out about you local candidates. (Here’s mine!) But tomorrow sees more than just Parliamentary elections, across the country people are taking to the polls to vote for their local councilors as well. In Farnham Castle ward I’ve had very little information come through the door regarding the local candidates I’m being asked to choose from, so I have gone out to find out at least something about each of the candidates. Below is a list of people standing for Waverley Borough and Farnham Town councils, with some links which might be helpful.
[read more]

Posted on Wednesday 6th May, 2015 at 9:19 pm in Obiter dicta.
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General Election 2015: Jeremy Hunt (Conservative)

Post length: 569 words, about 2 and a half minutes.

Details

Full name: Jeremy Richard Streynsham Hunt
Party: Conservative
Website: http://www.jeremyhunt.org/

Analysis

Jeremy Hunt is the sitting MP in South West Surrey, and was the Secretary of State for Health in the previous government. A quick look at the current polling data and the constituency’s history shows just how safe the seat is for the Conservatives and there is little doubt that Hunt will retain the seat. Perhaps it is for this reason that the Conservative freepost didn’t arrive at our house. It is also not available on electionleaflets.org. I did, however, get a paid-for addressed leaflet at the weekend, and so I’ll take a look at this, with consideration that it doesn’t compare to the leaflets I have reviewed from the other parties.
[read more]

General Election 2015: Paul Robinson (Something New)

Post length: 570 words, about 2 and a half minutes.

Details

Full name: Paul James Robinson
Party: Something New
Website: http://www.somethingnew.org.uk/swsurrey

Analysis

Something New describe themselves as “a new political party, offering a vision of a better democracy.” It appears that they are putting up two candidates in the 2015 General Election and two in local elections (although one of those is the same candidate). Paul Robinson is representing South West Surrey.

The leaflet opens by talking about perceived failings in the current political parties, claiming that they represent their own agenda rather than really representing the constituents they are supposed to. It briefly teases a new way of making policy.

[read more]

Posted on Sunday 3rd May, 2015 at 11:18 am in Obiter dicta.
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General Election 2015: Susan Ryland (Green)

Post length: 570 words, about 2 and a half minutes.

Details

Full name: Susan Mary Ryland
Party: Green Party

Analysis

Susan Ryland is a locally based artist standing in South West Surrey on behalf of the Green Party. However it seems that this leaflet does little to convey these significantly positive points to the reader. The whole of the inside is national Green Party policy, and even the front cover carries the same design as a large number of Green candidates standing in this election around the country. A quick search on ElectionLeaflets.org shows just how many copypaste Green Party leaflets are out there nationally. This is a real shame for a party which prides itself on it’s membership of creative individuals.

The back page carries the candidate’s only personal input: her personal statement. [read more]

Posted on Thursday 30th April, 2015 at 8:57 am in Obiter dicta.
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General Election 2015: Patrick Haveron (Liberal Democrats)

Post length: 804 words, about 3 and a half minutes.

Details

Full name: Patrick Haveron
Party: Liberal Democrats (suspended)
Website: http://www.patrickhaveron.com/ (currently offline)

Analysis

Before we begin, it’s worth noting that Haveron has been suspended from the Liberal Democrats due to claims he falsified council nomination papers. At this time his Twitter account has been closed and his campaign website is not working (it is still available via Google cache at the moment). However it is my understanding that he will still be on the ballot papers for both the constituency and council elections and therefore I will continue to review the election communication I received last weekend.

Haveron’s leaflet, below, was the second of the main parties’ freepost communication to arrive. [read more]

Posted on Wednesday 29th April, 2015 at 8:57 am in Obiter dicta.
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General Election 2015: Howard Kaye (Labour)

Post length: 719 words, just over 3 minutes.

This post has been updated with some feedback from the candidate via email. I’ve added footnotes where appropriate, or you can jump straight down to them. I’m grateful to Howard for providing the feedback which clears up a few of my questions and assumptions.

Details

Full name: Howard James Kaye
Party: Labour
Website: http://www.howardkaye.org/

Analysis

Howard Kaye’s leaflet dropped through my door early last week and is the first of the three major parties’ communication to arrive. There are no fewer than two statements apparently written by the candidate — on the first inside page and on the back — but neither of them say much about the candidate himself. It tells us that Kaye has worked in both the public and private sectors for 35 years; it is only on further investigation of his campaign website that we learn Kaye has been a train driver for this time and that it is the era of British Rail which accounts for the public sector claim.1 I do wonder if this is intentional — the socioeconomic makeup of the constituency doesn’t suggest, to me, it might be sympathetic to someone in this line of work.

With this knowledge of Kaye’s background a little more light is shed on why his leaflet includes a small section2 on transport. [read more]

Posted on Monday 27th April, 2015 at 9:26 am in Obiter dicta.
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