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28 April 2010


Click photo to enlarge

Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg (left), Conservative David Cameron (centre), Labour's Gordon Brown (right), debating on TV, an event that transformed this election from plain boring into mildly exciting.

The most significant aspect of this first-ever national TV debate between Party Leaders is that it has propelled the Liberal Democrats to the forefront of the national consciousness. Because the vagaries of the British "first-past-the-post" electoral system have tended to give the Liberal Democrats only 60 or so Parliamentary seats on the back of 25-30% of the popular vote, they have hitherto been given less prominence in media coverage.

The new national TV debates have changed all that with Nick Clegg being given equal prominence to the other two Party Leaders, a prominence that has done him no harm at all!

Conservative and Labour votes tend to be concentrated in certain constituencies, whereas Liberal Democrat support is more widely distributed, resulting in their failing to succeed in the same way. Even though they are now riding high in the opinion polls, pretty much on equal footing with Conservatives and Labour, projecting the polls into actual seat gains on May 6th indicate perhaps a hundred or so seats (in a 630-seat Parliament).

Ironically, Nick Clegg's rise and rise has led to the other two Parties making the following statements ..

Voting Liberal Democrat will let Labour in.

Voting Liberal Democrat will let the Conservatives in.

If this doesn't expose the ludicrous nature of our electoral system I don't know what does!

Here's a radical thought: what about having a system whereby voting Liberal Democrat lets in the Liberal Democrats?

I know, too silly for words.

25 April 2010


I asked my Conservative Candidate Anne McIntosh whether she would sign up to Electoral Reform.

She replied (predictably) - “I support the tried and tested first past the post system”.

She has therefore lost any chance of receiving my vote.

One of the reasons people have become disconnected from Politics is the increasing realisation that the governments we elect bear no resemblance to the feelings of the voting public.

The Conservative slogan is Vote for Change and yet David Cameron has set his face against the only change we are crying out for: an end to a so-called democratic system that allows him to say things like “A vote for Clegg is a vote for Brown”, “A Lib Dem vote is a wasted vote”, and then for Anne McIntosh to say this is a “tried and tested system”.

It is a system that has given us governments with huge majorities based on the support of less than 40% of the voters; a system where politicians insult our intelligence with this garbage about wasting votes and voting for one person and getting another. Such unrepresentative governments gave us the Poll Tax, destroyed manufacturing industry, took us into an illegal war, and smothered us with “political correctness”.

Tried and tested?

Tried – Tested – Failed!

11 April 2010


Current opinion polls suggest that about 62% of the British Public do not want a Conservative Government, and yet such is the stupidly undemocratic nature of our voting system, that if people vote as they say they intend to, then the likelihood is that we shall finish up getting a Conservative government anyway, and it will be representing about 38% of the population.

I've been driven to distraction by this tyrannical system for the whole of my life, and I'm fed up to the back teeth with it. As a point of principle, whoever I vote for in this election, I shall be making a point of ensuring it is not for any Party that refuses to accept the need for electoral reform.

I guess that rules out the Conservatives. Labour are promising a referendum on the need for electoral reform, so that puts them in a slightly better light. The Liberal Democrats, Greens, and UKIP are all in favour of a fair voting system.

I'm sure most of the rest of Europe think we are completely barmy to put up with this kind of thing.

06 April 2010


So now we know .. it's May 6th.

For the first time in my life I am a "floating voter".

I am a "don't know".

I am looking forward to the first-ever TV debates between the Leaders of the Labour Party, Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, even though I'm sure it's not going to be a very spontaneous affair. It's a step in the right direction.

Even if (and it's a big IF) the Conservatives come up with some attractive policies, they are still opposed to the reform of the voting system. Our voting system is not democratic. I am, heart and soul, a democrat.

Therefore, as a floating voter, if I finish up floating in the direction of voting Conservative, then we can all look forward to some skating sessions on the frozen lakes of Hell.

05 April 2010


With President Kharzai making more and more frequent statements criticising NATO countries and their role in Afghanistan, coupled with his failure to address the question of fraud and corruption in his government, now would appear to be a good time to get the hell out of that place.

03 April 2010


Life is getting sillier by the day.

Insurance Industry
Earlier this year I booked a Thames Cruise in a holiday boat. Of course I was asked to take out travel insurance. I found a company on a price comparison website, and applied for insurance for the dates of this UK river cruise. Having completed all the questions on destinations, dates, health matters, etc., they took my money and sent my insurance policy.

Two weeks ago the ship company said they were being forced to make alterations to the boat to meet disability access regulations. Reluctantly they had to offer us alternative dates for the cruise. (Good news - at a discounted price!)

So I notified the travel insurance company of the new dates, whereupon they came back and said your insurance policy is invalid: we don't insure cruises in the UK. (Good news - they agreed to refund my money). Forgive me for wondering why they would issue me with a policy in the first place!

Power Industry
The glass front of our electricity meter got damaged a week or two back, by an electrician doing some re-wiring in our house. I notified the power company and they sent me a letter saying someone would call on 31st March to replace the meter, and it would be between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.

By 4.30 p.m. he hadn't turned up (though at some stage my wife had noticed a meter company van near the end of our road). We rang the power company and were told that the meter man had been unable to find our address. We asked what address they had given him, and it was incorrect. We were instructed to phone again in the morning to arrange a new date.

Next morning (after negotiating a 7-item phone menu list, and being held in a queue for 15 minutes) I was notified that the power company would have to notify the meter company of our correct address and this would take until the 7th June (!!!) Would I then please phone them again to arrange a new visit date. When Margaret Thatcher privatised the electricity and gas boards we were told that this would lead to much greater efficiency than the old nationalised industries were capable of.

Bathroom Equipment & Courier Industries
We are clearing out the bathroom, reorganising it, and fitting a new bathroom suite. The other week the new toilet unit was delivered. The cistern had two great chunks knocked out of it.

The suppliers sent a replacement. (Good news - very quickly). The cistern arrived in three broken pieces. I suggested to the supplier that they change their courier. The guy said, "We're on our third one now."

The next replacement was OK. Then the vanity unit (mirror and shelves above the wash basin) arrived. When I started to attach the three shelves to the back board, I found the holes drilled and plugged in the back edge of the shelves were set 96 mm apart, and the equivalent holes drilled in the back board were set 100 mm apart, and at three different distances from the left-hand edge of the board. Also one of the three shelves was marginally larger than the other two.

The replacement is awaited.

The UK Government IT Industry
The firm I work for uses a payroll and income tax program provided by Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs. After downloading a recent update to the program we couldn't get it to work.

We e-mailed the Help Desk, and they came back with this classic ..

Please be advised that we have identified that there is a bug in the
system which causes the CD-Rom not to function on the last day of any
moth which has 31 days. This should however have returned to normal
from the 1 April onwards.

Aside from the unbelievable concept of critical software that doesn't understand the days of the month, we couldn't help noticing that in their response they managed to mention the word bug and moth in the same sentence!

Enough of this nonsense. Onwards and upwards!