Political Apathy 10: Same fail, different day

Way back at the beginning of 2010 I blogged about how I am often reminded of how out of touch the ‘major’ parties are whenever they do/say/announce something. Back then my post was inspired by a Labour leaflet telling me how voting Green would let the Tories steal the seat and how this was clearly wrong and had served only to strengthen my resolve to vote Green.

Fast forward to the tail end of 2013; we have a Green MP, a new Labour candidate for the seat of Brighton Pavilion and are probably about eighteen months out from a General Election. So when a leaflet came through the door from the new candidate, Purna Sen, I was interested to read it. Since Labour clearly can no longer suggest that a Green MP is impossible and that voting for one will result in a Conservative MP, they have instead decided to attempt to convince constituents that it is Labour who do the real work on green issues. Yep, that is genuinely the jist of the message.

I’m super happy with my Green MP thanks. I don’t agree with Caroline Lucas on everything but I think she is a top notch person who has absolutely represented me in line with the platform on which she was elected. I follow her progress closely to see what votes she attends (and how she votes), what questions/issues she raises during debates. Quite frankly, if 20mph speed limits and a ridiculous bus lane is the worst thing I have to put up with as a result of Green policies then I think I am doing okay. If I have an MP who I can rely on to speak up for animal welfare, equality, non nuclear proliferation, civil liberties and against ATOS, the badger cull, fracking, page 3 and Darth Cameron and the rest of the Empire in general, then I am on to a winner.

Political Apathy 9: Goodbye Millennium Falcon

Last night my local MP, Caroline Lucas, was on BBC Question Time. If you’ve read my blog before then you probably already know I voted for Caroline. Even though our views are not 100% aligned, she was the only candidate who came half way close to representing my opinions and more importantly she was the only candidate I trusted.

A few weeks ago I got a leaflet through my door explaining that the Green led council was planning on turning one lane of the Lewes Road into a permanent bus lane. I think this is a stupid idea. I work in Lewes and I live in Brighton, my commute is 8 minutes.

I understand that the idea is to encourage people to switch from their cars to public transport, but then I must ask why taxis are allowed to use the bus lane? How is a taxi any different to a private car? Brighton is not London or New York City, we do not have an amazing public transport system that means our residents do not need cars. Using the train or bus would add a large amount of time to my journey, would be a large additional expense and would leave me having to commute from the station to my office, sometimes with large and heavy equipment, sometimes in bad weather.

I’d love to be able to avoid Lewes Road entirely and join up with the A27 via Ditchling Road and Coldean Lane, but there is always a queue of vehicles waiting to turn right at Old Boat Corner. There is also always a pile of glass from smashed windows/lights, indicating how dangerous turning right there can be. I’m sure you would remove a great many cars from Lewes Road if this corner was improved. A simple solution would be to make the corner a left turn only, traffic wanting to turn right could use the roundabout to turn and come back over the hill.

One thing that caught my eye in the plans was the proposal to use cameras to monitor people parking illegally in the cycle lanes that run along Lewes Road. I think this is a good idea… as long as the cameras are also going to catch the cyclists jumping red lights along Lewes Road. No? I didn’t think so.

I think this is going to be an expensive waste of money that will do little but make traffic worse. People don’t use Lewes Road during rush hour for fun. They have somewhere to be.

The point of this post is that when the Greens get a bit carried away we end up with 20mph speed limits and stupid bus lanes. When the main parties get carried away we end up with the Digital Economy Act, badger culls, talk about repealing the fox hunting law, talk about building nuclear power plants even though we’ve watched what happened in Japan and have no viable plan on how to handle the nuclear waste that will be produced, not to mention the wars and massive national debt.

Watching Question Time made me realise that I don’t regret any of my votes for the Greens.

Author’s note: The Millennium Falcon is going at the end of the month. This means that next month will include #ShinyNewCarDay! You can expect a fuller post on this subject at some point. Right now my time is occupied pondering the Washing Machine Sock Vortex with Sway, you can check out his blog here.

Political Apathy 8: The black post – proud to be locked by the force

AV or FPTP:  Over the last few days I have had several discussions with various  people on the referendum on changing the electoral voting system from  FPTP to AV. I have taken one thing from these discussions, there is a  very real need for a series of televised debates on this subject. A lot  of the people I’ve spoken to have no idea what AV is, no idea what FPTP  is and no idea which one of these we currently use. The outcome of the  referendum will effect every single general election we have from now on  and the facts need to be presented in a forum where people will  struggle to avoid them.

Cosmetics testing: You may not know that the European Union promised that from 2013 the sale of animal tested cosmetics would be banned. However, now the people who make the decisions want to push this back by 10 years!?! Forgive me for engaging smug mode here, but my MP, Caroline Lucas, had tabled an Early Day Motion on this subject before I even knew about it. The EU cannot be allowed to kick this commitment into the long grass.

Fuel  duty: I’ve read so much recently about fuel prices. Yeah, crude oil is  getting more expensive and yeah, fighting in countries like Libya is  going to make the price somewhat unstable, but get used to it, this is a  fact of life that is here to stay. As oil reserves run out, there will  be more demand and prices will increase. But what’s with increasing the tax on petrol? That’s just kicking folks when they are down, especially with VAT having been increased to 20%. I agree with Caroline Lucas that the government shouldn’t subsidize the price of petrol, but it’s wrong to suggest that not increasing the tax even further equates to a subsidy. I understand the logic, that the government could raise additional money from the increased fuel duty and could use this to ease the strain of the cuts in other areas, but it just doesn’t follow that this should come from motorists. Maybe some money could be clawed back from the bankers who are already back to getting bonuses, or companies like British Gas who are announcing record profits whilst insisting that record prices are beyond their control.

Another day, another deathbot

Iran has unveiled it’s first in-house deathbot, but before everyone lines up to pat the defense department on the back for their sterling efforts, lets spare a thought for the marketing department who managed to come up with this description of said deathbot:

This jet is a messenger of honour and human generosity and a saviour of mankind, before being a messenger of death for enemies of mankind

You just know that the person who came up with that was wearing a suit paired with really, really shiny shoes.

Political Apathy 7: The fall of the Empire (look, an Ewok)

So I’ve made my decision on who to vote for and just thought you might be interested to know who I’ve picked and why.

Right off the bat I’m going to say that the leaders debates have proven to be most thought provoking for me (I am really looking forward to Mr Dimbleby and the Beeb showing ITV and Sky how it should be done though). I’ll be honest and say that I was concerned about these debates originally, specifically because:

  1. Not all of the leaders of the UK political parties were getting to take part: This concern was fully justified, lots of talk about immigration from outside of the EU, but no debate about immigration within the EU. I don’t think they could have gotten away with this if UKIP were involved. Also, the Lib Dems position on Trident would have been challenged. “We won’t replace Trident!”, sounds good and it’s what the Lib Dems were shouting, but “We won’t replace Trident directly, but might get something else similar.” doesn’t sound as good. My biggest beef in this area was the fact that the Digital Economy Bill didn’t get mentioned once!
  2. I was worried that there wouldn’t be any real debate, just lots of reading of prepared statements: I was delighted to see that this was not the case.
  3. I was worried that 2 would mean that Darth Cameron would be thriving whilst Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg drowned: Erm yeah, I needn’t gave worried. First round: Nick wins, GB was on the ropes, Darth Cameron was on the canvas. Second round: Nick wins on points, despite Dave getting one of Murdoch’s Minions to tag team with him (GB did much better too).

The debates were not the only source from which I drew my information. I have had an array of pamphlets, leaflets (what is the difference between a pamphlet and a leaflet?) and other “stuff” deposited through my letterbox recently and I have read all of it. The Greens and the Tories did quite a good job here, Labour did a terrible job and here’s why:

  1. As I have previously noted here I was annoyed by the leaflets that presented the 2005 election results as evidence for the Greens being unable to take the Brighton Pavilion seat. I’m not stupid, do not treat me like I am.
  2. They addressed everything to me *and* my brother!?! We are two separate people who are so far apart in our beliefs that you wouldn’t believe we were raised by the same parents, or on the same planet even. He does not care about politics, in fact it scares me that people as ignorant as him get a vote at all, please treat us as individuals. I’m not saying send two letters, but maybe just address it to me.

Still, at least Labour tried. When I receive the Lib Dem end of term report card I will be entering “Could try harder.” in the general comments box; not a single piece of Lib Dem propaganda was received.

Political Detritous

I was quite convinced I was going to vote Green until the Green manifesto came out. If the Conservative spending cuts will risk the recovery from recession, then the Greens policies will certainly kill it. Just picking on one point, how can doubling the price of petrol be even a remotely sensible idea? I applaud the desire to protect the environment but you have to have the infrastructure to support mass migration to public transport before you stop the average family from being able to afford a car. What happens when nobody is buying petrol? How will the public transport be funded then? With huge taxes?

I was seriously wavering. I don’t dislike any of the PPCs in Brighton Pavilion, they all seem like nice people (I follow them all on Twitter) and then I sat down and really thought about it.

I cannot vote for Labour. Labour have had 13 years in power and have achieved some great things (like the minimum wage), but they have also made some major mistakes, worse still, they plan on making some more:

  1. University fees.
  2. ID cards.
  3. Digital economy bill.
  4. Unprecedented levels of debt (no more boom and bust eh Gordon?).
  5. Misleading everyone about the evidence to support going to war in Iraq.
  6. My current Labour MP has been an epic fail. I wrote to him about the DE Bill, I only ever got a response saying “I got your letter” and he didn’t bother with the main debate (maybe if it had effected Cyprus).

I cannot vote for the Conservatives, Darth Cameron might be a Sith, but I assure you that his light sabre is blue. Anyone who thinks that in a period where “tough decisions need to be made” to reduce levels of debt that an inheritance tax break for properties worth £2000000.00 is important is either high on crack or a Conservative. The only proof I needed of Dave’s intentions was to watch a guy from Varndean School ask him about fox hunting, the question was not about whether the law was well written, or whether people were flouting it, or whether the police were failing to enforce it properly, or if it was taking up to much of their time, but these were the answers he gave. We don’t need time in parliament for a free vote on this issue, we’ve done it already. If the law needs to be improved to make things easier for the police then discuss those changes, but of course he doesn’t want to do that because he is completely in favour of hunting foxes, badgers, otters and probably people on welfare too (OK, I made that last one up).

I cannot vote for the Liberal Democrats. I am not amongst the number of people noticing the Lib Dems for the first time during the debates. It’s like the Ewoks emerging from the forest, they might be Ewoks, and Ewoks are immensely cool, but they do not have a chance of winning the seat of Brighton Pavilion and my vote would be wasted if lavished upon them, allowing Labour and the Conservatives a better chance of winning it.

I cannot vote for Labour, the Conservatives or the Lib Dems because they were all engaged in the expenses scandal and none of you are sorry for what you did, just sorry you got caught.

Back to the Greens. Caroline Lucas will never (or at least not in the coming parliament) be in a position to put the more extreme aspects of the Green manifesto in to place, but she won’t ever be whipped and will be able to promote fairness (proportional representation ftw), consideration of the environment, animal rights and civil liberties in a sort of Jiminy Cricket like role and so she gets my vote, but she didn’t win it, everyone else lost it.

Political Apathy 6: Epic Fail

Every time one of the ‘major’ parties does/says/announces something it usually just helps to remind me how out of touch they are. I received a letter from Nancy Platts today (Nancy is the Labour PPC for Brighton Pavilion), the basic jist of which was that if I voted Green I risked letting in the Tories (this fact was in big bold letters at the bottom of the page).

  1. The voting figures from the last General Election are ancient. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, including a set of European elections that at worst suggest that the Greens have made significant gains.
  2. No I wouldn’t support Labour’s plan to change the voting system. Why switch one flawed system with another? Do it properly and give us proportional representation where every single vote counts, or don’t bother at all.
  3. Would I prefer a Labour or Conservative government? Well, that’s like asking me if I’d rather be poked in the eye, or kicked in the nuts… I’m not that crazy about either option.

Bottom line, this letter did nothing to dissuade me from voting Green, in fact, in strengthened my resolve even more. Epic. Fail.

Political Apathy 5: Whac-A-Mole

I last updated you on the political goings-on in Brighton Pavilion back in June, so for those of you that are interested (and lets face it, you’re still reading) today is update day.

Last time out my post received a comment from Andrew Falconer, the then Lib Dem candidate for Brighton Pavilion. Have you spotted the important piece of information in that last sentence… yep… I said the *then* Lib Dem candidate, as in, he isn’t now. I have absolutely no idea what happened to Mr Falconer, maybe I was right and he doesn’t exist at all, but the Lib Dems have decided to choose his replacement from an all female shortlist. Positive discrimination is a misnomer IMO, as discrimination of any kind is never positive, indeed I am fairly certain that an “all white male” shortlist would be rounded on rather rapidly! Still, the Lib Dem shuffle is not the only change to the list of Brighton Pavilion parliamentary candidates, nope it’s like Whac-A-Mole down here, as the Conservatives have finally chosen David Bulls replacement in Charlotte Vere. A rather rather polished website/twitter feed combo makes a pleasant change from some of the others “websites” I have battled against in my quest to make an informed decision in 2010, but both are lacking when it comes to explaining what Miss Vere stands for and to differentiating her from Darth Cameron. This distinction is a real problem for me as since Dave changed his no policies policy I find myself liking him less and less, for sure Gordon Brown was foolish to attempt to start a class war, but if repealing the ban on fox hunting is a priority for the Tories then they are just as foolish (and Gordon Brown is right!?!).

So what of Nancy Platts, the Labour candidate? Well she has a nice new website too, although it is not quite as polished as Charlotte Vere’s (I read the same sentence in three places within three clicks), and hang on… wait a minute… some bollocks about how voting Green will mean a Tory MP for Brighton. How can the voting figures from 2005 be the best source of information when the last time we got to have our say was in European elections where the Greens romped home? I also take exception to the Q&A section about greed, prosperity and Thatcher. In case you haven’t noticed, Labour haven’t done a bad job of emulating Thatcher’s Britain, we have unemployment, disputes with Unions, there are plenty of people losing their homes and you can chalk up two for greed – between the bankers,  the fiddling MPs and the spending patterns of Gordon Brown it’s a wonder we have anything left (it reminds me of the Sheriff of Nottingham knocking the coins out of the dogs plaster cast in the Disney version of Robin Hood). I absolutely want to nix Trident and ID cards and use the money for something better, but I simply don’t trust Labour to do it because I don’t trust them to deliver on anything, plus I still don’t think they appreciate how out of touch they are.

So once again readers the only remaining option (hope?) is Caroline Lucas, who incidentally declared her intention to run as MP for Brighton back in ’07 and has stayed true to her word, meaning that the only really interesting development is that the 2010 election will be the first time that all of the main parties will have put forward female candidates for a constituency*, which isn’t really of any significance at all.

In summary, Labour still don’t get it, the Conservatives do but are more worried about fox hunting and the Lib Dems are trying to work out which one of them may or may not bet getting it! Frustration and exasperation reign supreme!

*According to Wikipedia, which instantly makes it as true as the gospel ;)

Political Apathy IV: A new hope

If you are one of the racist douchebags that voted for the BNP in the European elections then away with you, this is not the post you’re looking for, actually, if you’re one of the asshats that voted for one of the equally as vile, equally as extreme, religious parties then you can get to steppin’ too.

It’s interesting isn’t it, that as much as the majority of the UK professes a dislike for the BNP, a considerable number of people voted for them. It’s also interesting that the major parties allegiances with the previously mentioned extreme religious parties haven’t garnered more criticism over the years, although the fact that they haven’t probably explains why Darth Camerons move to distance the Conservative MEPs from such groups didn’t grab many headlines either.

Don’t fret though dear reader, because down here in the constituency of Brighton Pavilion we managed to make a real difference with our votes, without really making any difference at all. The last time I blogged about the political situation in these parts we had one Green candidate, one Labour candidate and one Conservative candidate, well since the European elections, Darth Cameron has decided that Dr David Bull would be better utilised heading up a Conservative policy review on sexual health and hence Dr Bull has withdrawn himself as a Conservative PPC. Well, that’s what the Tories are saying anyway, the more cynical amongst us might suggest that Dave was a wee bit concerned with the strength of the Green vote and felt that withdrawing one of the more high profile Conservative PPCs to prevent a rather embarrassing defeat was the best course of action. The *really* cynical amongst us might go so far as to suggest that the good Doctor might even reappear in a safer seat, maybe one of the ones vacated by someone committed not to standing next time around. To be honest though, who cares about the Tories, I have always said that I would judge Dave the chameleon once he replaced his no policies policy with some actual policies and guess what, now that he has it turns out that Dave the chameleon isn’t actually Green or Red at all, he’s true blue, which I guess makes him Dave the poisonous toad.

On the really bright side, I no longer have to report on the fact that Dr David Bull is not updating his blog with details of his political plans for Brighton, nope, no more shitty political websites for me… Except that we haven’t just lost a Tory, we’ve also gained a Lib Dem and whilst I can tell you his name, Andrew Falconer, I can’t tell you anything else because he doesn’t exist. No seriously, the official list of candidates as listed on the Liberal Democrats site does not contain his name and I could not find a search box on the site in which to enter his name, I can’t even offer you a link to the relevant web page as everything appears under one URL.

Of the two remaining PPCs, one is Nancy Platts… of Labour, a fact which eliminates her from my thinking  completely: I’ve had enough of Labour to last for quite a while. ID cards, renewal of Britain’s nuclear deterent, sending our troops into warzones ill equipped, university fees, Hazel Blears, European treaty sans referendum, quite a list of things to inflict upon the electorate and all the while lining their pockets with our money. Actually, the expenses scandal is another reason for forgetting about all of the traditional parties. On Question Time recently, Lib Dem MP Julia Goldsworthy was asked about a £1000 rocking chair she purchased on her expenses and I couldn’t get past thinking that “poor judgement” just didn’t even begin to explain her situation. Then you’ve got MPs buying expensive plasma screens and stuff like that and again I was left thinking that this just wasn’t reasonable or justifiable. For those of you keeping count, that leaves precisely one candidate and brings me neatly back to my starting point: I took these feelings of political apathy and voted Green at the European elections, a protest vote with only positive consequences.

I think I now fall firmly into the category of recovering Green. ;-)

The List (I’m back bitch)

That’s right, the blog that shudders at the thought of conformity is back and ready to take aim on, well, everything. My enforced absence from the blogosphere lasted only about a month, but lots of stuff sparked my interest in this time and so I ended up working on several posts simultaneously and so without further ado, I bring you “The List”. “What’s the list?” I hear you ask, well I’ll just starting counting things off of it and I’ll let you figure it out.

  1. You know those adverts for HD content on Sky, one has Wayne Rooney in, well if you don’t have a Sky HD box then you haven’t seen it in HD. And yes fuckwit, even if you’ve got an HD tele, that means you.
  2. Between the Lord’s selling their votes to the highest bidder, through the complete ineptitude of the Speaker and on to the MPs greedily playing the expenses system for everything they can get. You all suck and you all have to go. And before anyone suggests that a General Election should be postponed until after the investigation into expenses has been concluded, I’d like to add that even if an election is called tomorrow an investigation should still be performed and anyone found to have stolen money from the tax payer should be prosecuted, regardless of whether they have paid the money back. Floating duck island my arse. None of you are sorry for what you did, you’re just sorry you got caught.
  3. I know she’s covered by the previous item, but she needs a special mention. Did anyone really need any additional reasons to dislike Hazel Blears? Can everyone say tax fraud?
  4. I’ve been on a bit of a binge recently, I’ve been consuming books about software development, and in particular C++ software development, at quite a rate and Scott Meyers’ books were recommended by quite a collection of people (a hashmap?). A lot of what I’ve read so far makes perfect sense; I’ve come across lots of items that have made me cringe when thinking about my own code and plan to do some serious refactoring because of this, but two things (so far) have struck me as really wrong: variables with names like ‘a’ (sure you can get away with ‘i’ or ‘it’ in a loop, but how does naming a variable ‘a’ help anybody) and splitting the contents of header files into two separate header files, one for declarations and one for definitions (just no). Expect further posts on this subject.
  5. Did you see last weeks edition of Click, it was a Windows 7 special? First came the Super Bar, then came the new improved Live Search and finally multitouch, or the Dock, Spotlight and erm, multitouch as they are known to OS X users. So not that ground breaking then, especially as the only laptop that the BBC could find that supported multitouch was a Mac. You just know that these features won’t work as well in Windows 7 as they do in OS X and for that reason Windows 7 is on/in the list, well that and the stupid Window shaking thing – see what happens when Micro$oft try to think like Apple.
  6. I tried to find out how my attempts to repay my student loan were going this week, but unfortunately they only have records for up to March 2008. Fine, Focus RS it is then.
  7. E Stan Kroenke, the owner of the Denver Nuggets, decided that his team wasn’t going to do it in the playoffs and so booked the WWE to perform in his arena this past Monday night. Unfortunately for Enos, the Nuggets did make it to the playoffs. Uh oh, double booking. No biggie, just turf the WWE out, to hell with the fans. Douchebag (great word).

Like I said, I’m back.

Guilty, seriously? Innocent, really?

Today the guys behind Pirate Bay were sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay not an insignificant amount in damages to various entertainment companies for providing people with a means of illegaly sharing copyrighted material. Where do I start? I could point out that whilst the site can be used to aid illegal file sharing, it can also be used in a perfectly legal and legitimate manner and that this is a dangerous legal precedent to set unless Sweden also plans to start prosecuting gun manufacturers (does Sweden have any gun manufacturers?) for providing people with a means by which to kill someone. I could also point out that there are plenty of other sites that enable users to search out torrents (Google anybody). I think I’ll just settle for the fact that the Pirate Bay lives, an appeal will keep the guys out of prison at least for a while yet, if not permanently and the knowledge that someone somewhere pussied out completely and decided not to prosecute the real criminals, the people actually sharing files illegally.

In contrast to the guys from Pirate Bay, the people at the CIA today discovered that they won’t be prosecuted at all, despite their complicity in the torture of fellow human beings. Nope, they’ve managed to escape completely, despite breaking both American and International laws and wiping their feet on the moral foundations of the “Western world”. Water Boarding, sleep deprivation, Boo boxing (locking someone in a box with bugs, which in this case they didn’t do, they just thought of it), face slapping and wall slamming. Quite a list, isn’t it? You tell me who the biggest douchebag (great word) is, George W Bush for allowing it, the individuals that carried it out, or Barack Obama for simultaneously announcing and denouncing it, whilst also handing out a get-out-of-jail-free card to anyone involved?

Don’t despair though dear reader, this isn’t going to turn into another ranting post about deathbots, no… oh hang on, yes, yes, it is in fact going to turn into another ranting post about deathbots, or Autonomous Rotocraft Sniper Systems (ARSS :-) ) to be exact. Take one unmanned Vigilante helicopter, attach one .338 caliber rifle and use a frankensteined Xbox 360 controller to aim. Nice. At least my dedication to videogames might come in handy!

I suppose that so long as Barack plans to play nice with Cuba and web based companies across the U.K. are telling Phorm to phuck off, some hope remains.