US Presidential Election Swing States

Post length: 1,081 words, almost 5 minutes.

As political observation goes I am nothing more than casual when it comes to politics in the United States of America. However I have been keeping an eye on this election and have, over the years, kept tabs on previous elections. I also know enough to understand the way in which the electoral college works to elect a president. With this in mind I have taken a look at the 13 so-called swing states — the states in which the presidency will be won or lost — in order to understand how the electoral college may look once the popular vote has been counted. [read more]

Posted on Monday 31st October, 2016 at 8:52 am in Obiter dicta.
It was tagged with , , , , , , , .

talkRADIO’s Launch Reviewed

Post length: 497 words, just over 2 minutes.

Note: this review was written before the Brussels attacks of 23rd March 2016.

There is no doubt that launching a radio station is a difficult thing to do, especially a poorly promoted talk station with no callers. That’s what Paul Ross was battling against yesterday morning on the launch day of Wireless Group’s talkRADIO. But the Paul Ross Full Set Breakfast really struggled to find its identity jumping from current affairs to gossip, staying with no topic long enough to do it justice. Backed by male-dominated, shouty idents, adverts clearly lifted from sister station talkSPORT and impeded by terrible sound quality from poorly tuned compression and the shoebox of a studio the station launched with a whimper rather than a bang.

The station’s lineup also leaves something to be desired: women. There is currently only one female presenter on the station’s weekday schedule, two on Saturday and one Sunday, although Katherine Boyle is not credited in the title of her “7 Days of talkRADIO” programme.* (Arguably this isn’t a problem unique to talkRADIO. The station’s closest competitor, LBC, also only has one female weekday presenter although they do have two on each of Saturday and Sunday.) [read more]

Posted on Tuesday 22nd March, 2016 at 7:48 am in Arts & Ents, Obiter dicta.
It was tagged with , , , , , .

Train Tickets Explained 2016

Post length: 459 words, just over 2 minutes.

UK train tickets were recently redesigned and are slowly being rolled out across the network. The new design, which has actually been floating around since 2014, has just reached the self-service machines in Farnham (although as of writing not the staffed ticket counter). The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) claim the new design is supposed to make tickets “clearer and easier to understand.” With this in mind I thought it was time I updated my previous post explaining what you see on the British train tickets. [read more]

Posted on Monday 25th January, 2016 at 9:03 am in Obiter dicta.
It was tagged with , , , , , , .

Tragic (Politically) Perfect Timing

Post length: 812 words, about 3 and a half minutes.

Romania made the headlines across the world at the end of last month due to a tragic fire in a nighclub which has, so far, claimed the lives of more than 50 people. The fire itself is reported to have started when fireworks were used as part of an album launch, setting alight the club’s foam sound proofing. One of the reasons so many people were killed is because of the woefully inadequate fire precautions in the club. Following the fire Romanians did what they seem to do best — they took to the streets in protest.*

It seems that there is no doubt that safety rules were flaunted in Colectiv Club on the night of the fire and there is significant public feeling that this was allowed to happen due to high levels of corruption in both local and national government, and that’s what brought people out in massive numbers. Fundamentally they were protesting over the corruption which has embroiled pretty much every element of the state from Bucharest’s sector Mayors to the Prime Minister Victor Ponta. That said it was hard to ascertain exactly what the protesters were hoping would come of their street campaign. Of course with mass spontaneous protest of this kind there’s always a mixed message, but pinning down an outcome which would make people happy was somewhat of a challenge. [read more]

Posted on Monday 16th November, 2015 at 8:58 am in Obiter dicta.
It was tagged with , , , , , .

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.
It was tagged with , , , , , .

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.
It was tagged with , , , , , .

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.
It was tagged with , , , , , , , .

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.
It was tagged with , , , , .

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.
It was tagged with , , , , , .