Friday, April 29, 2005
Before heading north, I completed my postal ballot. Up until picking up the pencil I did not who I would vote for. My head said Labour. There's little doubt, as you will have seen from posts elsewhere on this blog, that I'm your archetypical Grauniad reading lefty Labour supporter. This despite my belief in certain truisms of markets and the failure of socialism.
I was 3500 miles away for Portillo - the moment when arch Tory boy Michael Portillo lost his seat in the 1997 Labour landslide. That was the moment that buried Thatcherism. Or so we thought. Blair has shown that he can adopt and adapt the worst/best (takes yer pick) elements of Thatcherism. But, cheer I did when Portillo lost his seat.
Now, I find it hard to support my natural political party. I know the arguments. Labour has achieved much in 8 years. No other government has done so much to tackle child poverty. The economy is in safe hands. Investment in public services has never been greater. All looks rosy.
And yet, it doesn't. It's not so much about Blair's presidential style. The supposed kow-towing to US imperialism is not the issue. I firmly believe Blair thinks what he did was right for Britain - irrespective of Bush and the neo-cons. But, I believe Iraq was wrong - the end did not justify the means.
I also care deeply about the erosion of civil liberties. Post 9/11, Labour has betrayed its natural inclinations to uphold justice and rule of law.
Labour's gutter dragging anti-migrant, neo-racialist policies worry me.
And, finally. Tony Blair has stated that the most serious threat to our prosperity is climate change. Labour (and the other major parties) ignored the issue in what's been an ugly, negative, "Australian" campaign.
So why didn't I vote Lib Dem, you ask? I was sorely tempted. But, on many issues I still fail to see where Lib Dem convictions lie. My politics are conviction politics. I do not buy the "third way" or pragmatism. Charles Kennedy is very much the latter - though granted the Lib Dems do seem to have convictions when it comes to civil liberties.
But, it's the environment, stupid. The Greens may not have the answers. And, I've no illusions that they will win this or any other seat. Yet, I believed this time that I had to vote with my heart.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
GOODBYE FOR A WHILE
Eh, op. Goin' oop nawth fer t'holiday weekend. They don't have t'internet oop thar, do they?
Just reviewed a few posts from earlier this week and realised that my grammar and spelling is going down the crapper.
Probably has something to do with breaking one of the "cardinal rules" of blogging - or maybe two rules.
1. Blog in the morning - so your regular readers get their daily dose. I blog in the evening when my brain is numb from work and lifestyle TV.
2. Text editing - I tend to use the Blogger text editor and don't use spell check.
Okay there's a third rule I break - I'm pretty poor at blogging on a daily basis.
Alright, I admit it. Rule 4 - carve a niche. No niche here. Just me blabbing away about nothing in particular. Not even donut related posts.
WORK IS MURDER
I'll probably make it home safely today unless I get tangled up in a telephone cord or have some sort of bizarro photocopier accident.
But, 300 or so people die at work each year through employer negligence. There are events around the country to commemorate International Workers' Memorial Day. Unfortunately, I will be at a very tiresome trade association lunch with a load of corporate thieves and other dullards. There will probably be a few corporate murderers there too.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
REFLECTIONS ON ST GEORGE'S DAY
If you didn't visit an English pub yesterday you might have missed the fact that it was St George's Day. Ignore that St George is the patron saint of several other countries and I believe was Turkish. It was as about as close as you'll get to England's national day.
Too bad, then, that it was the day that the British National Party (sic) chose to launch its manifesto for the UK General Election. For those readers not up on British politics, the BNP are the "acceptable" face of nationalist/racist politics in this country.
I think it might be time to reclaim St George's Day from the BNP and their pathetic hooligan clones.
Mind you, the election campaign so far has seen the ugly side of both Tories and Labour as they seek to ramp up "promises" on immigration and asylum - BNP's raison d'etre.
I listened to the repeat of "Any Questions" on the radio as I sat in a traffic jam on the way to Hampshire yesterday. Kenneth Clarke, what passes for the acceptable face of the Conservatives these days, (ok I'll admit he's one Tory I might consider voting for) said the fact that the Conservatives had raised the immigration/asylum and now the other parties were having to confront the issue was important.
I say "bollocks". The Tories have played a blinder of an election. By controlling the "agenda" they've always been on the offensive. Labour has unnecessarily been defensive throughout. However, that does not mean that immigration is an issue at the forefront of voters' minds.
I hope I'm right here. I judge my fellow Briton as fair minded, tolerant and willing to see the net benefit that migration brings to the country. Ignoring the screeching of tabloid media and xenophobic politicians, I believe the British public wants this election to be decided on the economy, public services and faith in party leaders.
No one, not even the leftish leaning Lembit Opik ("Any Questions" token Lib Dem) seems to be explaining the full background to this issue. Migration needs to be seen against the background of a stagnating British population due to a low birth rate and continued emigration and a worldwide growth in migration sparked by political and economic upheaval.
The myth that "we" take more than our fair share needs to be exploded. It is countries on the borders of conflict and economic suffering that take the burden. Indonesia, India, Kenya - they take much more than their fair share.
The economic drive for migration must be addressed through development aid, opening of markets and releasing the burden of debt.
"It isn't racist..." Well, I beg to differ. The significant majority of migrants to this country come from the developed world. Do you think it's white South Africans, Americans and Australians that will be denied entry through which quota system is envisaged?
Detachment :: of troops
Regard :: look!
Community :: EU
Strike three :: ah! leather on ash. the american pastime
Congregation :: pews
Generous :: abundance
Pretention :: prog roack, but I still love it!
Pregnant :: pause
Drinking :: binge
Brilliance :: albedo 1.0
Friday, April 22, 2005
IF THE EARTH HAD A VOTE...
"[Climate change is] the single most important long-term issue that we face as a global community."
T Blair, 28 April 2004
So why is it that the mention of the environment has been, well, invisible during the election campaign?
Why are the two main protagonists, instead, grubbing about in the gutter finding the "toughest" line on immigrations?
When unprompted, immigration and asylum hardly figures in the main issues on voters minds. It is only when parties seek the lowest common denominator, latching on to Daily Mail hate.
Quite good, then, to hear Michael Xavier Portillo this morning criticising Michael "Tough on the Causes of Blair" Howard on the latters gutter tactics. The CBI also pitched in.
But, hey Mr Blair. What about the "single most important issue"?
Thursday, April 21, 2005
A bit of Donut background.
Although born in the UK, my growing up years were on
Long Island, sorry, Lawwwn-geyelund. I traded football fanaticism for ash and leather, the grand old game of baseball. The New York, Ok, Da Noo Yawk Mets. Dem Mets were my team. In just the third summer in the US, the previously hapless, yet lovable Mets confounded the experts and won the World Series. The Yankees? Dem Bums!
My family fled back to Blighty when I was 20. Baseball was out of my life for over a decade. Something, I don't know what, rekindled my interest in the mid 90s. When I returned for a four year posting to DC in 1997, you couldn't keep me away from Camden Yards or any ballyard. In my travels I took in stadia big and small - the Jake, horrid 3 Rivers, red Busch, sterile Kingdome, Salt Lake's jewel overlooking the Watsach.
How do you think I now feel that Washington DC has, once again, its own Major League team. I remember the horrible Senators, who bounced around an empty RFK through the 60s riots. Few were sad when they upped sticks for Texas in the early 70s. Those Senators were in fact the second Senators team between the lines. The original Senators were equally bad, but moved to Minnesota in 1960. A new Senators side were born. Going back further, several Washington teams appeared and quickly disappeared during the late 19th century.
Back to the late 20th century, a campaign grew to bring baseball back. 30 miles up the road, the Baltimore Orioles were Washington's unofficial team. But, many believed that Washington deserved a team. All efforts were in vain until last autumn. Montreal's Expos have been baseball's orphans for the last few years. Abandoned by their owner, the Expos were being run by the league. Washington were eventually awarded the team and, despite a few scares, earlier this month the new Washington Nationals started play.
So, you can imagine how pissed I am.
With any luck I'll catch a few games on Channel 5. Follow fan blogs - Nats Blog, Capital Punishment and Ball-Wonk. And, I'm planning a "business trip" later in the year.
Let's Go Nats!
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Just when you thought there was no one to vote for...
We will issue a 99p coin to save on change.
The Official Monster Raving Loony Party will not join the single European currency. We will invite all Europeans countries to JOIN THE POUND.
Rich people should be taxed to pay for the printing of money, as they use most of it.
Tax credits will be paid to nice people. There will be a “total bastard” tax for everyone else.
Any student who says the word “Like” when not grammatically called for, as in, “Hey, I’m .. Like, going down the… like, pub”, or, “I was, like, don’t do that” will be made to go and stay with George Bush for a week in order to discourage them from other stupid ‘Americanisms’.
4 wheel drive vehicles will only be allowed to drive off road, therefore stopping mothers picking up their children from school in them when they only live 100 yards down the road. They will also be wrapped in bubble wrap to make them safer.
Rather than to attempt re-opening disused railway lines we will put sound systems every 500 yards along the disused tracks which will play sound effects of old steam trains to keep railway loonies happy. When they choose to walk along the old railways nostalgically, men will be employed to throw buckets of soot over them every so often.
Drivers will be allowed to drive over roundabouts when there’s nothing about. This will make driving through Milton Keynes much more fun.
All WMD’s (weapons of Mass Distraction) will be made highly visible so that we can find them.
Any politician wanting to start a war will be shipped off to the country in question with a bag of conkers. They can then conker the country themselves.
The white cliffs of Dover will be painted blue to camouflage our islands.
Yep, it's the Official Monster Raving Looney Party!
Monday, April 18, 2005
Last night, the BBC showed a moving and yet frustrating documentary on the Heysel Stadium disaster which unfolded on TV screens across Europe 20 years ago. Thirty-eight people died in the crush caused as Liverpool soccer fans invaded the mass of Juventus supporters in an area originally reserved for "neutral" fans. After nearly two hours delay, the European Cup Final went ahead despite the carnage.
The night was a catalogue of disasters culminating in needless death and injury.
A crumbling stadium.
Poor fan segregation.
Lack of communication.
But, hatred, pure hatred caused the deaths.
The documentary was a brave attempt to re-tell the story through the eyes of survivors. What it lacked, apart from the rather shallow reminisces of one convicted of manslaughter for his part in the evening, was much of a Liverpool perspective.
Last night brought back some of the horror of that balmy May evening. Unfortunately, the Juve-Liverpool re-match in this year's European Cup has, on much of the evidence, done very little to heal the wounds.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Great escape :: gotta be Steve McQueen on a motorbike
Cluster :: nutty chocolate
Wrong place, wrong time :: check your diary
Guided :: missile
Forensics :: silly American crime programme
Pros :: when I leave college, I'm going to the pros
Safety deposit box :: for me jewels, m'dear
Quadrant :: Delta (as in Star Trek Deep Space Nine)
Precisely :: pedantic
Who are you? :: a svelte, bronzed, 6' Adonis with the IQ of Einstein (or at least that's what I told them at the Braille Institute
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
SO NOW I'VE REALLY GOT TO DECIDE WHO TO VOTE FOR
Readers outside the United Kingdom might not know that we're at the beginning of an election campaign here in the UK. Beginning is used in the loose sense of the word.
Unlike the US, we don't have fixed election dates for the national offices. A Parliament can last up to 5 years, but has an average life of about four years. Sounds odd, I know. Most British Governments down the years prefer not to leave the election until the last minute. Unless, of course, the result is a foregone conclusions, as it was in 1997 when Labour came to power after 18 years in the wilderness.
Suffice it to say, that a May 2005 election has been predicted for over a year and the parties have built their campaigns on that basis. So, we've had a phony campaign for months now.
I consider myself a natural Labour voter. Apart from one or two blips (voting Green at a European election when they polled nearly 20% nationwide and got precisely zero seats; voting tactically LibDem in vain to defeat the Tories), I have always voted Labour.
Like many natural Labour supporters the May 2005 election presents a dilemma. This has, by any measure, been a successful Labour Government. The economy is in good shape. For once Labour has managed to see through its agenda, mainly because of a huge majority. Employment is at record levels. Investment in public services - the National Health Service, education, social programmes - is making a difference. (And, if you don't believe me, read Polly Toynbee and David Walker's book "Better or Worse".)
On the other hand I've read John Harris's book which is highly critical of New Labour's sell out to Thatcherism and Blair's Iraqi adventure.
I never thought I'd see the day when Labour attacked civil liberties. Measures introduced after 11 September 2001 to combat "global" terrorism have effectively suspended the concept of habeas corpus. The Government seems to have been seduced by "evidence" brought forward by a discredited intelligence service (read Hans Blix, if you dispute this).
And, of course, I will find it hard to forgive the Government for taking us into and illegal and unjustified war.
So, as I'll be out of the country on 5 May, I applied for a postal ballot over the weekend.
I still don't know who to vote for. What will probably decide for me is not which candidate or party is most attractive to me - if that were the case I'd probably vote LibDem and I certainly wouldn't vote Tessa Jowell - but, whichever party is going to stop Michael "Thatcher reheated" Howard from becoming Prime Minister.
Democracy - great, innit.
Monday, April 11, 2005
LIE DOWN, PLAY DEAD
Poor old Rover. MG Rover, that is. Pity it's a dog of a car manufacturer, but a sad day for British engineering that one of our last car makers hangs by a thread.
Ironic the, the latest advertising campaign for MG.
Old folks driving an MG off to a retirement home.
Meanwhile, whatever happened to workers' ownership under Labour's talismanic Clause 4.
To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.
Oh yes. Tony Blair re-wrote Clause 4 and one of Labour's prime political planks is long forgotten.
Meanwhile, the Donut household motor (yep, a Rover) sits outside.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Horrendous :: waste of taxpayers money
Home video :: ...me, wee nipper no more than 9 months old, on the beach, floppy hat, nodding off to sleep...
What a girl wants :: if I knew I wouldn't be so rubbish at relationships
Grounded :: out 5 to 3
Trusting :: soul
Simplistic :: Conservative Party
Buzz :: Bumble Bee
Balcony :: Savannah, Ga
Roar :: like a lion
Hooker :: TJ
Friday, April 08, 2005
Shoe fetishists ought to tune in:
Seek out Tara Hamilton-Miller. Her shoes brighten up Conservative Headquarters and she'll be wearing a different pair every day until the election's over.
Are you thinking what we're thinking?
Sod winning the tournament, Billy Capser just wanted to play one more round at the Masters...
And what about poor Billy Casper, the 73-year-old 1970 champion playing here for the first time since 2001? He hit five balls into the water at the 170-yard 16th on his way to what would have been a tournament-record 14 on the hole and a round of 106, the highest score in tournament history by 11 strokes.
But wait. Casper opted not to sign his scorecard, telling reporters afterward it was
still in his pocket and that he planned to frame it and put it on display back home in San Diego. No signed scorecard meant all those blows wouldn't count as official records, and he was disqualified from further competition.
"I just wanted to [play again at The Masters] before I was old," Casper said. At the 16th hole, he said, "I was bound and determined" to hit a shot on the green. He used a 9-wood off the tee for his opening shot, then went to the drop area and used a 7-iron four times, with four more splashes. He finally hit dry land with a 6-iron, then said afterward he only started the round with six balls, so the pressure really was on after five in a row in the pond.
"My kids wanted me to play, just to walk in the fairway and be in the tournament," Casper said, adding that he woke up with a sore back Wednesday and was having trouble swinging. The galleries, he added, "were great. We had a lot of fun out there. They were there all the way around, five grandchildren and five kids."
Heck, 106 would be a great score for me.
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Do you still want that donut?
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Well, the Asian Bird Flu is passing. I've lost the urge to flap my wings and peck at seeds though I'm still nibbling my feathers. I might resume being a human being tomorrow. Either that or I'll blog.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Officially feeling crap this evening, so don't expect any great insights on the world and it's travails. Yes, there's likely to be an election though Young Tone has decided to hop of to church tomorrow so that's delayed things by 24 hours.
But, it's early to bed for me.
Renewal :: library book
Someone to talk to :: counsellor
Count :: Dracula
Expiration :: credit card
Upload :: Blogger!
Publish :: blog
Holy :: Underwear, Batman
Change in the air :: Spring has spring/the grass has riss/I wonder where the birdies is?
Titillating :: a touch of lace?
Glorious :: Tottenham Hotspur, 1960-61