Thursday, 8 June 2017

The 2017 General Election: Live!

Well, a lot has changed since the last time I did this whole liveblog thing back in 2015.
For a start, I can actually VOTE (Shoutout to the Representation of The People Act 1918!)... and well... I've gone from being a paid up member of the Green Party to joining my local Labour Party purely to vote for Jeremy Corbyn, to campaigning for Owen Smith in the second leadership contest to switching allegiances back to Jez...
Let's not mention that whole thing about the EU or Trump or the fact that British politics is more of a rollercoaster than Ronan Keating on a family day out at Alton Towers...

As ever though, your favourite politics student is here to provide a sweary, caffeine fuelled commentary throughout election night. Fasten your seatbelts folks!

9:55pm: Gil Scott-Heron was wrong, the revolution IS being televised, just switch your TV sets to David Dimbleby on BBC1.

10:00pm: Right. A hung Parliament.
...It's going to be a long night. Partying till dawn or La Noche Oscura del Alma? It's impossible to tell.
I can tell you something for free though: it won't be boring...

10:15pm: According to Twitter, Corbyn is well used to being, er, 'hung'...

10:20pm: Lots of celebrations going on the Corbyn camp and rightly so. I've made bad decisions before (sitting one of my A-level politics exams slightly hungover, accidentally microwaving a spoon, more haircuts than I can count) but imagine being such a numpty that you'd call a general election only to loose 17 seats... A friend just used the phrase "up shit creek without a paddle." In this case, I think the creek in question may well be the Suez Canal...

10:35pm: Right, getting a bit peckish so I'm off to go make some pasta. Pesto, ironically.

11:10pm: An inability to tear myself away from the coverage means my pasta has boiled over. To politicos like me, election night is better than Christmas. It's the one day it's acceptable to make esoteric comments on exit polls and niche jokes about Nuneaton. My hope is that the nation will
wake up tomorrow night to find a bearded old white man has left the gift of a £10 p/h minimum wage in their stockings.

11:20pm: 100% of the House of Commons is currently female. Enjoy this moment.

11:37pm: Irregardless of the final outcome, reportedly higher youth turnout is something we can all celebrate.

11:40pm: Emily Maitlis' red dress is surely an omen? Laura Kunenssberg has (quite deliberately I'm sure) gone for a neutral linen ensemble, as spotted on Tutenkhamun S/S' 1323. The two share more than just a fabric in common: both have awkward surnames and potent curses.

11:50pm: Wishing Sir Alan Sugar all the best in his new career as a polling expert xx

11:55pm: Beautiful to see the BBC discussing the possibility of Nick Clegg loosing his seat. Sheffield students were out in force today: many of my friends chose to stay at home even after their exams had finished in order to oust him.

Looks like Amber Rudd has (Ed) Ballsed up and may well loose her seat too. If so, she'd go from being tipped as the next chancellor to trying to run a budget surplus on £72.40 JSA a week...

MIDNIGHT: I would like to commend the tenacity of the fly that has allegedly been buzzing around the BBC studio for the past 3 days. It has no doubt been assisted by an abundant food source in the form of the box of Conservative party manifestos on hand in the BBC newsroom.

12:05am: Feeling slightly nostalgic for UKIP (younger readers, ask your Dad). I suppose Paul Nuttall is busy these days as captain of the Mary Celeste.

12:15am. I used to have a great deal of respect for Ken Clarke's affable brand of Europhilic One-Nation Conservatism until I learnt of his involvement in the contaminated blood scandal during his tenure as health minister from 1988-1990. Launching an inquiry into why the government allowed non-British blood products to be used right up until  the mid 1980s when it was known since 1970 that they posed a risk of transmitting blood borne diseases should be a firm priority for whoever occupies Number 10 on Friday afternoon.

12:30am: Liam Fox has popped up. I support the hunting ban but I'd make an exception for an ex-defence secretary with a well known penchant for a picnic.

12:35am: Nuneaton. Conservative hold. Oh dear.

1:00am: The sound cut out for several seconds on my laptop whilst Jeremy Vine was doing his thing. I wholeheartedly recommend watching his gesturing with your telly on mute. I imagine doing an Ouija board with Robin Gibb would be something like this.

1:10am: @PaulMasonNews would like to make it clear that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are not Marxists. He then proceeds to quote Trotsky.
His agressive pro-momentum campaigning (a lot like being hit repeatedly in the head with an ice pick actually) grated a lot during the campaign: it was rhetoric like this that put me off the Corbyn camp for a while during the leadership challenge in September 2016.

1:15am: More Twitter updates, @BBCLauraK "Sounding more and more like Clegg is loosing Hallam" ... You're welcome, Britain.

1:30am: "All over Battersea, some hope and some despair..." Mostly hope actually, Moz.


2:08am: Is that praise Nigel Farage is giving Corbyn?! ("He looked comfortable in his own skin")?

1:10am: Pouring myself the first drink of the night. AVARDA KEDAVARA! Philip Davies has been slain! Satan himself has been usurped. I never I thought I would see this day!!!!! Hallelujah!!!!
Just messaged Evie for a comment...
A man willing to bully 16 year olds on Twitter and advocates paying disabled people less than the minimum wage

2:23am: I'm booking a holiday to Grimbsy. Never again will I make derogatory comments about consanguinity. You are a noble and glorious people.

2:30am: This just in from Evie:
I feel like I have been waiting two years to get my own back on a the man who used the phrase 'I know a down syndrome' then thought it appropriate as a middle aged MP to insult a 16 year old girl over twitter, well Phillip Davies I'm happy to say my time has come. You are out and the socialists are in. So to put it bluntly, fuck you you small minded Tory dickhead."
Hear hear.

2:45am: FUCK YEAH! Nick Clegg is gone in my very own seat of Sheffield Hallam. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry (That I didn't get to tell him to fuck off to his face on the campaign trail, and also to the people in the flat above for the sonic boom level WHOOP). Very well done Jared O' Mara, it's nice to be on the winning side for once.
This is the first time Labour have won here since the seat's creation.

4:00am: Popped round to Rachel's flat for a change of scenery just as a deluge of seats are being announced. Highlights include Lord Buckethead and Elmo challenging Theresa May in Maidenhead, with 150 and 3 votes respectively.

4:10am: Eurgh, Jacob Rees-Mogg. I saw a meme somewhere saying he looks like the owner of a bed and breakfast from an episode of 'Tales and the Unexpected' who would offer you a cup of cocoa laced with sleeping pills. He's allergic to garlic at any rate.

4:15am: "It's going to be a very eventful day" - I can see now why Laura Kuenssberg is paid more than a £150,000 salary.

4:20am: Getting to that point now where the Conservatives are overtaking Labour. We're watching the numbers ticking away at the bottom of the screen with eagle eyes. Kier Starmer has been re-elected in Holborn & St Pancras.

4:30am: After a recount, Philip Davies has kept his seat. I have never been as disappointed in my life, ever. Obviously the fault of Russian vote rigging.

4:45am: Greg Knight has won East Yorkshire. His decidedly lo-fi election video is a strong contender for my favourite ever party political broadcast, shortly behind Labour's infamous 1997 effort and the frankly bizarre 1994 creation of the Natural Law Party featuring 'yogic flying'. I'll have the jingle going through my head for days.

5:00am: At least we'll always have Skinner, my love. x

5:10am: Jason's home constituency of North East Derbyshire has turned from red to blue, giving Natascha Engel the boot, demonstrating the oft-forgotten impact local grassroots issues have on a campaign. She was seen as placing her own political ambitions as deputy speaker over the people of Killamarsh by refusing to oppose fracking.

5:20am: Ming Campbell's old seat of North-East fife has reportedly been won by the Lib-Dems by just ONE vote. Never forget what a difference one individual can make in the world.

5:25am: Been waiting all night for an appearance by Malcolm Tucker Alastair Campbell. Interestingly, Dimbleby has pointed out that both David Davies and Boris Johnson are avoiding the media. No doubt there's been a run on chopping blocks.

6:00am: Based purely on garden pickets you'd think Natalie Bennett would have won another green seat in Sheffield central. Not so. Paul Blomfield has been re-elected with a whopping majority of 27,478.

6:07am: Nicely done Caroline.

6:10pm: I am wilting. The election night slog has been long and tiring but more importantly there's a possibility of a union between the DUP and Tories. I am loosing the ability to form sentences. Bed for me. Who knows what I'll wake up to. B0rIs as PriMe mInisteR_?!


Wednesday, 29 June 2016


I remember the rally on Friday 7th August 2015 well.

'Absolutley Bloody Brilliant'- my initial take on Corbyn 

Scorching hot- and with what seemed like all of Bradford packed into the Karmand Community center.  Hundreds of fists in the air chanting 'JEZ WE CAN'.  I could scarcely believe that there was actually a real life candidate for the Labour Leadership willing to use the 'S' word about himself. I remember scores of people telling me that there was no future in Corbyn's 'Politics of Hope': that he could never win.  I remember being overwhelmed with joy when he did, in fact, win with a staggering 59.5%: resting a celebratory pint of stout on my free Jez beer mat. So yes, you could say I was part of that initial wave of Corbynmania; defecting from the Greens to stump up my £3 to vote for him.

There were the early naysayers, those like Blair, saying "If your heart is with Corbyn you need a transplant". He was easy to dismiss... "Wait till Chilcott you bastard!"  And obviously, the right wing press were never going to back a socialist. He didn't bow low enough. He didn't sing the national anthem. His suits were more 'panama canal' than the corridors of power.
It was to be expected.
Corbyn in his beloved beige suit
Rupert Murdoch was hardly going to become a raging bearded Marxist overnight.
The PLP were also dismayed by Corbyn's victory: many of them embittered old Blairites, fiercely protecting the legacy of 'The Third Way'. They've been plotting a coup ever since he gained office, muttering about antisemitism and handshakes with Hamas.

But then what? Where did all that Momentum go? What has Corbyn actually done, other than publicly  turn up late to several interviews?
Oh wait.... There was a press release some time in August proposing 'women only train carriages'...
(See The Thick of It, Series 2)

Corbyn's success in the first place was accidental. He stood as a paper candidate, intending to attack the other candidates from the left and put his policies on the agenda. When he got on the ballot paper, he allegedly told an ally "Now make sure I don't win".

A Milne Mistake: The shambolic SkyNews conference
last night 
Another mistake was  appointing ex-Guardian journalist Seumas Milne as Press Secretary: a man with no prior experience, known only to most Labour MPs as 'Shameless Bilge'. Recent leaked emails have transpired that Milne was behind the 'watering down' of several of Corbyn's speeches on Europe, urging him to restrain the campaign for Remain. Alan Johnson also reported that Corbyn's office did not even bother to turn up to weekly EU briefings.

This could have been Corbyn's time to shine. All that anti-establishment anger on council estates up and down the country could have been harnessed in Labour's favour. Where were the rallying speeches, telling working class voters that austerity, not immigration is to blame for Britain's current predicament? The photo opportunities in call centers and warehouses up and down the country? Instead we got confusion, with only 55% of voters being able to identify that Labour's official position was Remain.

Corbyn's opposition to the EU is rooted in the politics of the 1980s. Admittedly, the EU does have flaws; it's support of TTIP and imposition of austerity on Greece being the two most glaringly obvious ones. But on the whole, it's not a 'Capitalist Ramp'.  The Social Chapter, The 2003 Working Time Directive and the billions of Euros invested in deprived ex-mining towns across the UK through the regional cohesion funds represent a progressive kind of politics, helping the working classes of Europe. Now that we've voted to leave, it's the British working classes who will suffer the result of economic uncertainty.

The final nail in the coffin for me was his statement last Friday morning in the immediate aftermath of the vote. He said "Article 50 must be invoked now". The county is in a state of turmoil, and what we need is breathing space before official negotiations begin. Hearing Corbyn call for the starting pistol to be fired left me screaming "What planet are you on?!" at my radio.

......Clearly one with no signal if Angela Eagle's claims that "he never answers his phone and is impossible to contact" are to be believed.
Angela Eagle resigns, along with more than half of the shadow cabinet,
citing Corbyn's communication issues as a crucial factor 

The shambolic press conference with Sky News earlier today further demonstrates his inability to confront the press on the most basic of levels.

Anybody else who attended the Bradford rally on Friday 7th August 2015 will also remember it for it's soundtrack. Somebody had hastily hooked an iPod up to a PA system and left it on repeat. Survivor's 'Eye of The Tiger' was looped over, and over and over again for at least an hour. At first, it had the desired effect: striking a triumphal note and pumping up the supporters. It quickly began to grate. After a while, there was booing every time the iPod jerkily paused and restarted the song. It started to feel strangely surreal.
Eventually, it proved that you can't keep repeating the same tired old message over and over again. It's no good being elected leader of the opposition and continuing largely as normal; holding a constituency surgery every Friday then cycling off to the local CND meeting for vegan tea and cake.
Something has to change.
The PLP has voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Motion of No Confidence at 172-40, and the risk of the party imploding completely is very very real. We cannot let the #EdStone read '1900-2016'. With the worrying rise of the Far Right and the possibility of more recession driven austerity, we need a Leader who can actually lead.

Jeremy, you're a wonderful human being and I wish you all the best at the next 'NHS SOS' bake sale, but you've got to go. Stand aside and let someone who will actually challenge the Tories and FIGHT for our NHS using their full force as leader of the opposition take your place.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

The 2015 General Election: Live!

Tonight will be long, difficult, and tedious battle.

No, I'm not talking about Cameron vs Miliband; the real battle tonight will be between me and my duvet. Will I make it to 6:00am? Probably not. Will I try my hardest? Hell yeah! (*groans*)
So here's my very first attempt at a liveblog. 
I'm armed with my laptop and unhealthy amounts of caffeine. 
Let the challenge begin!

Minutes to go now. Who will win? Toss a coin.

David Dimbleby's tie is rather sombre tonight. I hope it's not an omen!

First reaction: Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck.
That's all I can say. I hope you weren't expecting insightful political journalism. I may as well be sitting in a corner and rocking back and forth all night.

Speechless. Absolutely speechless. No one saw that coming.
The Tories are on 316 seats, to Labour's 239.
I keep hearing people repeating '1992'  over again. I'm fervently praying that it's not, ALTHOUGH, encouragingly, The BBC's exit polling was wildly off in 1992.

Paddy Ashdown is currently promising Andrew Neil that he'll eat his hat if The BBC's exit poll is right.

Is this the end of politics as we know it? Will First Past The Post be receiving it's last rites in the coming days? Are Clegg, Milliband and Farage finished?

It's going to be a long, and very interesting night.
All we can speculate on is the nature of Paddy Ashdown's marzipan sombrero.

I need someone to hold my hand.
Less than an hour ago, I was feeling confident in a progressive Labour SNP coalition. Now I'm not even sure what my own name is!
The results should start arriving soon; Sunderland is expected to deliver first.
I'm off to go and make a cup of tea.

The results for Sunderland South have just been announced. Labour have held a safe seat. Notably, the Liberal Democrats have won just 791 votes, meaning that they've lost their deposit.
Stay tuned.

Rumors are flying around twitter that Ed Balls is likely to loose his seat in Morley and Outwood. Less than 4 hours ago, I was sitting in a sunny pub in Headingley and jokingly predicting that this might happen. Everything feels very surreal.

The big beasts are out now, Alastair Campbell has told David Dimbleby that the exit polling 'doesn't feel right'.

Pictures of Ed Balls are circulating. He has a look on his face which can only be described as a Turkey at Christmas.

"There was no Green surge, was there?" Taxi for Andrew Neil.
Green membership has surpassed the 50,000 mark and more than quadrupled in recent years. Moreover, The Greens beat the Lib Dems in Sunderland South, winning 1,095 votes. We've also beaten the Lib Dems in all of the seats declared so far. Baby steps!
In my own college's mock elections, we came second, with 31.1% of the votes; a result I'm very proud of.
The Greens look set to be the surprise winners of the night.

I'm keeping a very close eye on both of my constituencies; Bradford East and Pudsey.

David Ward, the incumbent MP for Bradford East, has a majority of just 365. He's been running a very interesting campaign, bombarding our street with leaflets and very carefully distancing himself from the Central Party. Nick Clegg barely appears in his leaflet at all, and the focus is very much on his record as a constituency MP.
To his credit, he voted very strongly against increasing tuition fees in 2010, although he was suspended from the Parliamentary Party in 2013 for 3 months after making anti-semitic comments.

His main challenger, Imran Hussain has been doing the exact opposite. He's relatively unknown and has been associating himself closely with the central party. Cue lots of photo ops of Imran looking broody outside an A&E department, promising to 'save the NHS'.
The most surprising thing is that there has been a distinct lack of energy in Bradford East. It's number 10 on Labour's list of target seats, so I would naturally expect the party leaders to be flocking here like a mob of seagulls to a fish supper.  So far it's been pretty tame.

Stuart Andrew, the incumbent MP for Pudsey, has a majority of just 1,659.
Jeremy Vine has already predicted that he will loose his seat to the Labour candidate Jamie Hanley.

In contrast to Bradford East, you can barely drive through Pudsey without seeing electoral stakes every few meters, and even George Osborne popped up earlier in the week.
I've chatted to many people across the last few months, and absolutely nobody has had a bad word to say about Stewart Andrew. He's a fantastic local MP (I can vouch for this, he's eaten jaffa cakes in my living room!) and many people will have faced a difficult decision tonight.
I'll point you in the direction of his fantastic speech during the gay marriage debate, which can be read here
Apparently, Leeds city council had to send re-enforcements to the polling booths due to very long queues.
Nail biting stuff!

West Yorkshire will definitely be significant in deciding the outcome of the election.

I can feel the quality of my tweets deteriorating as the night goes on. Peter Mandelson just popped up (or should I say 'sassed up'?) on my telly and all I could think to tweet was "MANDELSON".

Although only 4 seats have been declared so far, the all consuming fear and panic which I felt at 10:00pm has been replaced by a sense of weariness and resignation.

I think it's time for another cup of tea. I might even push the boat out and have a biscuit.

It's looking like Galloway has lost his seat in Bradford West.

A few of my favourite twitter accounts from tonight : @RobPestonHair @Paddys_hat @LibDemDeposits

Having a conversation with someone on twitter about Tristram Hunt's beige tie. Only 11 seats have been declared so far, and the BBC's commentators are making all sorts of sweeping statements. There are still another 638 seats still to declare...

BREAKING NEWS: I'm going for a nap for half an hour.
I bet Bradford West is announced just as I nod off.

I knew something important would happen just I was nodding off!
The Tories have easily held Nuneaton, and actually increased their majority by +4%. This is a clear early indicator of a poor night for Labour.
Some commentators are suggesting the possibility of a strong Tory majority.

I wonder how Paddy Ashdown likes his fedora?
Grilled? Mashed? Fried?

Favourite comment of the night so far: "The SNP are not the VietCong." - Andrew Marr
Douglas Alexander and Jim Murphy have both lost their seats to The SNP.  Not really surprising but still embarrassing, nevertheless. 
Miliband's speech in Doncaster North: "It's clearly been a very disappointing and difficult night for The Labour Party... A surge of nationalism has overwhelmed us and I am deeply sorry..." 
It might as well be a eulogy. #EdStone

Jacob Rees-Mogg has been re-elected in North-East Somerset, with 50% of the vote. My faith in humanity is severely diminished.
I apologise if my spelling has deteriorated. It's a symbolic representation of the state of Britain.

I've decided that Lucy and I are emigrating to Scotland together to live on a remote highland Island. I can't be arsed with life anymore.

Just what exactly is the point of Danny Alexander? What is his function? What on earth does he do?

Imran Hussain has won in Bradford East with 47% of the vote, replacing David Ward to become my MP.
South Thanet should be declared soon.

George Galloway has lost his seat in Bradford West, with just 8, 557 votes. His face is priceless...

Just had some news from George at the count in central Leeds: They're in the process of a re-count but Ed Balls is looking extremely likely to have lost his seat in Morley and Outwood.

I'm going to bed now.  I'm still in a state of shock. Hopefully when I wake up this will all be a bad dream. 

Heartbroken. Absolutely heartbroken.
Here's the final result:

Conservative Party- 331 seats   (36.9% of the votes)
Labour Party- 232 seats   (30.4% of the votes)
Scottish National Party- 56 seats   (4.7% of the votes)
Liberal Democrats- 8 seats   (7.9% of the votes)
DUP- 8 seats   (0.6% of the votes)
Sinn Fein- 4 seats   (0.6% of the votes)
Plaid Cymru- 3 seats   (0.6% of the votes)
SDLP- 3 seats   (0.3% of the votes)
UUP- 2 seats   (0.4% of the votes)
UKIP- 1 seat   (12.6% of the votes)
Green Party- 1 seat   (3.8% of the votes)
Independent (Lady Sylvia Hermon)- 1 seat

Therefore, David Cameron has become Prime Minister, leading the Conservative Party into Parliament with a 12 seat majority.

The turnout was 66.1%.

This result has been a complete surprise.
Nobody (not even the pollsters!)  had any idea of the outcome.
Usually, like an insidious cancer, there are early warning signs. Coughing blood. Policy leaks. Stumbling over questions. Instead, today's result has hit Britain like an out-of-control juggernaut, leaving behind a scene of utter devastation.

There have been many high-profile casualties: Clegg, Farage and Miliband have all resigned. Ed Balls has gone. Jim Murphy has lost his seat.

The British people have spoken. We have chosen austerity. We have chosen to privatise the NHS. We have chosen to slash benefits. We have chosen to increase carbon emissions. We have chosen to renew Trident. We have chosen to condemn our students to a life of debt before they even begin to work. We have chosen food banks, zero-hours contracts and poverty. We have chosen to make our schools into exam factories. We have chosen to decimate Britain's stock of social housing. We have chosen to make thousands more people homeless.  We have chosen the bedroom tax. We have chosen to demonize immigrants. We have chosen to give a tax cut to the oligarchs, bankers and media barons.

**Except that we haven't.
63.1% of us did not vote for The Conservatives!

In recent months there has been a growing movement calling for reform of The UK's First Past The Post electoral system, lead by groups like 'Unlock Democracy!' In fact, just a few days ago, Owen Winter, the youth Parliament's representative for Cornwall, began a petition on calling for a proportional voting system. This momentum will only increase following today's result.

One of the most striking statistic of the night is this:  The SNP won just 4.7% of the total votes cast, but gained a staggering 56 seats. By way of contrast, UKIP won a huge 12.6% of the total votes cast but gained just 1 seat.
It's not often that you'll hear me sticking up for UKIP, but even a small child could understand that this isn't a fair system.

In January, I conducted some interviews around college to gauge people's political predictions for the year ahead.  Again, absolutely nobody predicted the outcome of the election. Most people, including myself, anticipated a Labour minority government propped up by The SNP.  (The full predictions can be read here
I managed to get 1 and a 1/2 out of 3 correct... Firstly, I correctly anticipated that The Lib Dems would be absolutely annihilated and Nick Clegg would resign (Although I predicted that Danny Alexander would be a strong contender for the leadership- this is looking very unlikely after loosing his seat).
The second one is a bit more difficult to judge. I thought that Ed Miliband would have a catastrophic 'bigoted woman' moment, and see his personal poll ratings dip significantly. He didn't. Labour have led a good campaign, and Miliband managed not to commit any horrendous blunders.
Murdoch's dirty campaign to undermine him pretty much failed. We had such low expectations of him that the fact that he turned up to the debates and didn't poo himself was a bonus.
Although there must be a grain of truth in this somewhere...

So what went wrong for Labour? It's too early to conduct a full post-mortem, but, it seems as though they've spread themselves a bit too thinly. They've been perceived as too left-wing for the likes of middle England, but not left-wing enough for Scotland and their traditional socialist supporters. I was hoping that loosing votes to The Greens, Plaid and The SNP might force Labour to return to their roots, but this catastrophic election defeat will leave the Blairites baying for blood.

Oh dear.

But surely there must be some positive news?
Yes,  there is, if you squint hard enough.

Firstly, Bez! He won 703 votes in Salford and Eccles, for 'We are The Realist Party'. (No, I'm not
twisting your melons...) In addition to this, The Monster Raving Loony Party received over double the votes of The BNP.

Secondly, Stuart Andrew was re-elected in my own constituency of Pudsey, nearly tripling his majority. He's a lovely bloke, and is a lesson to us all that politics doesn't always have to be a nasty, tribal thing.

And last, but not least, Caroline Lucas has been re-elected as Brighton Pavilion's MP. We may have lost Bristol West, but the continued presence of Caroline's sassy and independent voice in Parliament can only be classed as a force for good. We salute you Queen Caroline! (Meritocracy FTW.)

Also huge congratulations to our very own Dr Warnes, who has retained his Shipley council seat, and also saved his deposit in the general election for the very first time! He won 2,657 votes, which equated to 5.3%, up +2.3% on 2010.
I shall take great pride in telling him that he's more popular than the Lib Dems on Monday morning!
And finally, George Walker also deserves a mention for leading a fantastic Green campaign around college and coming 2nd with 31.1% of the votes. George, I still owe you a drink!

Right. I'm finally going to bed. Tonight has been an emotional rollercoster, but I'm hopeful that something positive can arise from the ashes. Stay tuned, as I'm sure I'll be blogging more in the coming weeks. 

Here are my final thoughts: 

(To quote Conchita Wurst) We will rise like a phoenix. 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Meeting a Hero

Today I had the honour and privilege of meeting Holocaust survivor Arek Hersh.
I feel as though what ever I write in this blog post will not accurately convey how I felt about meeting a true hero, so please excuse me if I get emotional.
He came to Benton Park to talk about his experiences as an 11 year old boy during the Holocaust. His story of how his childhood was stolen from him is humbling. I make offhand comments about 'being starving', 'loosing the will to live' and 'being governed by Nazis' but here is a man who has genuinely lived through all of this. A real, physical, visceral reminder of a period in history when Jews were stripped of their rights, dignity and finally their lives at the hands of their fellow human beings.
I had the pleasure of sharing a Kosher lunch with him and he is such a lovely man. He commands an air of silent reverence and everyone that met him was deeply touched. It struck me that I was sat next Arek Hersh, an 86 year old man eating a houmous sandwich , whereas he had once been prisoner B-7608, a small boy, eating the burnt leather from the soles of his shoes in order to survive. 

When asked what message he would give to the young people of today, he told us that we should value our right to vote in democratic elections when we come of age and ignore dangerous extremist parties like the BNP. In his words; We are the future. 

I will always remember Arek, and also his Mother Bluma, Father Szmuel, Sister Itka, Brother Tovia and Genia, his First Love who weren't so lucky and lost their lives to hundreds of years of anti-semitism. 

I urge you to read Arek's book 'A Detail of History' and also watch the harrowing documentary about his life called 'Arek' by Unison Films.  

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Political Apathy

I'm not doing very well with this blogging thing, am I? In September I wrote a brilliant blog entitled 'Miliband the Magnolia' about Ed Milliband's lack of policy ideas. Unfortunatley, the lightning-paced nature of politics meant that by the time it was ready to publish, he'd practically re-written the Labour Party Manifesto!

Anyway, someone that's been worrying me recently is Russell Brand. Surprisingly; it's got nothing to do with his sex-addiction, old heroin habit or questionable dress sense. Instead; it's got everything to do with his interview with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight.

For the first time in my life, I might actually agree with what Jeremy Paxman has to say. When I watched the interview I was literally dumbfounded. Shocked and speechless can't really describe my reaction.  Here was Russell Brand, a man whom I quite admired, actually encouraging political apathy! This is a guy who has lived on the very fag end of life, suffered mental health problems and overcome addiction. He has championed the cause of the Tibetans, hugged the Dalai Lama and supported Chelsea (Formerly Bradley) Manning. On paper, you'd image him to some trendy bohemian comedian with a heart and a passion for politics.
Instead, he's appearing on Newsnight ranting at Jeremy Paxman like an angsty 17 year old that hasn't got chest hair yet. It's embarrassing. He sounds like he's stolen 'Das Kapital' from his local library and suddenly become a revolutionary. He appears eloquent, but his argument has no substance.

The worrying thing is that his argument has gained some momentum. Ed O' Brien of Radiohead recently came out in support of Brand on the band's website Dead Air Space. His argument just re-enforces the idea that "All politics is crap and therefore worth ignoring."
 Fortunately there have also been some voices of dissent, such as Robert Webb's who is 'renewing his labour party membership' in response to Brand.

As a 16 year old who will be 5 months too young to vote at the next general election, it massively irritates me when people like Russell Brand just carelessly discard their vote like an empty crisp packet. Sitting on your arse and eloquently moaning about the political class does not change anything. Be the change you want to see!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Christine the freefall parachutist

Not blogged in a while, but as you can see I have a lovely new layout. The birds are meant to have a calming effect. As you are aware, summer not only heralds Glastonbury and midges but the dreaded exam season.

I've often wondered who it is that sets the questions. Who are these mysterious people that get paid to set exam questions? What do they do in their free time? Sit around playing bridge and smoking pipes in matching tweed separates?  Also, who are the people in the exam papers? Is Christine the freefall parachutist real?  What about Sumeet with his triangular prism shaped pool? And poor Viv, who lacks enough mincemeat in her quest to make 45 mince pies in June?

Ahh, questions questions questions.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Pinch me, I must be dreaming

Hello hello hello,
I've got some questions that need answering. For the sake of my (questionable) sanity.
Firstly, I must ask; Am I dreaming?

In all seriousness, we're a mere 21 days into the new year, and already some pretty bizarre stuff has happened.  Correct me if I'm wrong but, on the same website #Cut4Bieber , #OrwellDay and #CBB have been trending. (Ironic, no?)
David Bowie has made the sneakiest comeback in musical history, still managing to exude cool at the age of 66 and with his head superimposed onto a doll's body.
Tesco have managed to alienate Jews and horse lovers alike, by including cute little piggies and ponies in their beef burgers.
The Pope has found new and interesting ways in which to erm... reach out to the youth of today.
Unfortunately, armageddon has hit the British Isles in the form of frozen flakes of water falling from the sky, resulting in a severe impairment to the U.K's journalism and many broken dreams. The effect of falling snow may have even caused several mental health conditions to form in the brains of 'wannabes', as 'Becoming famous' now constitutes sucking a used tampon and filming yourself in the act .However if turning vampire doesn't appeal to you, you could 'do a Katie Price' and  marry your 3rd husband in 8 years because a psychic told you so.

That's not all though. My personal favourite of this month's crop of non-news stories has to be Jimmy Savile's guest appearance on the tweenies. Not only was it tear inducingly funny, the song Jimmy introduced was 'one finger one thumb keep moving'. Again, another triumph of the BBC over the British taxpayer.

This is the stuff that makes history folks. 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Now that's what I call broadcasting

 I sometimes listen to the radio.

Okay, that's a really banal statement, but you'll see where I'm going with this in a minute.

Anyway, the other day I was listening to  BBC Radio 4, when suddenly, an article about soft drugs came on.  The broadcaster in question was speaking about the beauty of 'weed bags'. Yes, I-SHIT-YOU-NOT, there was a fully grown man, on a national radio station, almost at the point of orgasm... over little polythene baggies used to store cannabis in. According to the aforementioned bloke, Weed bags should be "Stored in a museum, so people of the future can fully appreciate the beauty and hedonism of the 21st century." Apparently for him; "Finding them on the floor gives me a tiny insight into the mysteries of a total stranger's life."

Yeah, I wasn't quite sure I was fully awake either, but after establishing that I'd not nodded off after eating a large quantities of Brie, I realized that I bloody love the BBC.

Not only do I want to hunt down Mr Weed-Bags and force him to teach Year 10 PHSCE in Leeds secondary schools, but I also want to hugely thank the BBC for spending tax payer's money on gems like this. 
I smile a little to myself every night in the thought that 'Hard working British tax payers' like this man here:

 are paying for the casual Radio 4 listener to be informed of the beauty of Weed bags.

So let's forget about scandals involving Jimmy Saville, Andrew Sachs and senior Tory MP's, The BBC is worth every single penny of tax payer's money. 

Aunite Beeb deserves a bit of love. 

Friday, 26 October 2012

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Hey, last night I went to go see a fantastic production of Tennessee William's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the West Yorkshire profile, courtesy of The Guardian,  and they published my review!! But because I'm so completely un-original I thought I'd publish it here too:

 The scene was set. On stage, a fan whirred monotonously round, doing little to dispel the thick soup of the Mississippi delta air, or the sense of frustration at the forefront of everything.
Maggie flounced on stage, and so 3 hours in the company of the dysfunctional and deeply unhappy Pollitt family began.
Admittedly this is not the smoothest of metaphors, but the only thing I can liken the play to is a 1950’s style EastEnders. Although Phil Mitchell fails to make a surprise cameo and denounce the Pollitts as liars in a booming cockney accent, he may well have done. All the parallels are there. Suicide, alcoholism, homophobia, a loveless marriages and deceit.  Lots, and lots of deceit.
The whole play is centred on the various family members lying to each other. Brick lying to Maggie, Maggie lying to Big Momma, Big Momma lying to Big Daddy, Big Daddy lying to Gooper and so forth.
All this is done with the utmost precision from the cast.  Zoe Boyle’s portrayal of cat like Maggie, oozing sexiness and beguilement is darkly contrasted to Jamie Parker’s portrayal of Brick and his cold indifference to anything but whiskey.

 Although not always mentioned in a review, it’s hard to imagine what the play would have been like without the score of lurking bass and crashing cymbals, courtesy of the Leeds Improvised Music Association.
To say that a few skeletons are un-earthed during the course of the play is an under-statement. Skeleton after skeleton surfaces from the dark waters of the Mississippi- and hit the audience right where it hurts.  In one scene, Brick lurches at Maggie with a chair, and narrowly misses sending her sprawling to the floor.  This sent up an uneasy ripple of laughter from the audience, which I found very disturbing.  Perhaps it is because Brick’s chair forced us to reflect upon our own lives, and realize that sometimes we are not so different from the Pollitt family.  Ensuring that long after the set was dismantled, and the saxophonist caught the bus home, the story of Cat On a Hot Tin Roof would lurk somewhere at the back of our minds.

If anyone else went to see it, feel free to comment below, I'd love to hear everybody's thoughts.
You can see it on the guardian site here, and add comments there too. 

*Also, sorry about the strange font arrangement- my laptop is menstruating.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

My life is now complete

Okay, I'll apologize in advance for this blog post. I've been a fan of Radiohead since the tender age of 11 and could probably do them as a specialist subject on Mastermind.

I know! I still can't believe it either.  

And guess what.........?
                                    THEY WERE BEYOND AMAZING!!!

And I don't say that lightly either. Even my Mum who is a staunch hater of any band that uses more than four chords in  a song had a good night. 
After Caribou had finished their set, Thom introduced the band with "Hello, I'm lady gaga!" and they stormed  straight into Lotus Flower. Manchester arena was up on it's feet screaming and doing Thom's dance. At this point my brain exploded. It really did, and plastered itself JFK style all over the neighboring seat.  

The rest of the night involved lots of dodgy dancing, several life affirming moments, Jonny Greenwood's fringe and a bit of vomit. 
I think the whole night can be summed up with a transcript of the conversation between the blokes sat behind us. 

Bloke 1: "The fact that they can play with two percussionists in such an odd time sig...."

Thom Yorke: "We're going to play a really, really old song now."


 I can assure that the other 21,000 people singing along to Paranoid Android had a good night. Not only was the set beautiful and the songs perfect, the musicianship was seamless. I understand that Radiohead aren't everybody's cup of tea, but you can't say that they're not good musicans because they really, really are. In fact the whole night was just brilliant. Every single second of it.

Anyway, I'll stop orgasaming over Radiohead and let you eat your tea, but before I go I would also like to remind you that it it's Thom Yorke's 44th birthday today, so happy birthday, you legend. He head a 'Free tibet' flag over one of his amps. You can't get more awesome than that. 

If you'd like to find out more about my night in Manchester, checkout the setlist here, some reviews of the gig here and here and the rest of the tour dates here

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The revolution is live

As you know, I occasionally have a stab at some DIY poetry....and if it's not completely rubbish it ends up on here.

So, here is a poem I have cobbled together entitled 'The revolution will be televised' as a tribute to the late Gill Scott-Heron. It was inspired by a recent Philip Larkin reading I went to at Ilkley literature festival, and of course Gill Scott-Heron himself. 
Now I hope everyone here is familiar with the legend that is Gill Scott-Heron, jazz musician and soul poet. His works were mainly about consumerism in 1970's/1980's America, and racial segregation.  He's someone that inspires me greatly, and I was incredibly sad when he passed away on the 27th of May 2011. I just wished he was still alive now, to witness the effects of the Arab Spring, and an underground revolution amongst the youth of Russia!
But anyway, here it is. 

The revolution will be televised,
In 4 parts on prime time ITV2,
Sponsored by with an interest rate of 4214 percent.
The revolution will be televised.

The revolution will be televised,
Hashtag revolution
With a facebook page and multiple tumblrs,
Highlights published in newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch,
The revolution will be televised.

The revolution will be televised,
Featuring soundtrack by Adele, Coldplay and Gary Barlow doing a closed fist open fist key change,
Page 3 models will make philosophical comments,
And the revolution will be televised.

The revolution will be televised,
With a montage of the Olympics and Mo Farrah’s twin girls.
Margaret Thatcher as the first women prime minister and the elimination of the working class.
A disabled soldier will hand out awards,
Because the revolution will be televised.

The revolution will be televised,
And during the break refreshments will be available
 Drinks of caffeine mixed with cane sugar and chocolate sprinkles
Colonel Sanders grinning down, with sachets of ketchup and polyethene cutlery,
The revolution will be televised.

The revolution will be televised,
It will not feature sax solos from Gill Scott-Heron, because he passed away in the spring of last year.
                  Available from freeview, Sky T.V and other satellite providers,

The revolution will in fact, be televised. 

If you're interested in Gill's original song,  here's a brilliant montage I found on Youtube.  

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Scotland and psychedelics

Eyyup campers!
I don't wanna bore you with holiday stories or anything,  but our annual family holiday was to sunny Glasgow this year!

The hotel was gorgeous and the Scots were friendly, however I had an interesting few I mainly spent the holiday vomiting into a wastepaper basket and inspecting the Scottish National Health Service! In the end me and Mum had to go home early, but not before we went to the amazing Gallery of Modern art! 
We saw lots of really weird and wonderful exhibitions, including the handprint of one of my all time favourite authors!

Aldous Huxley himself. An author loved by millions, famed for his surrealist influenced novels and being off his head on Mescaline in the name of art and science. 

That's Scotland for you! 

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Sisters, we salute you.

Hey Folks!
At this point, I'm sure you're all aware of er...Russia's pussy situation. (okay, stop laughing it's actually quite serious) 
If you haven't, you need to escape from whatever woodland you've been living in, and head over to 

A balaclava clad Russian punk band, criticizing the Russian Orthodox church (and it's vice like hold over Russian politics) and Putin's regime, has been imprisoned for 2 years on the medieval charge of 'Blasphemy'.

Whilst you may not agree with gatecrashing a church service and singing punk songs, Pussy Riot's message is a far deeper one.
Their aim is to highlight what really happens underneath the veneer of Putin's regime. In recent years Russia seems to have been making small steps of progress towards respecting human rights, but this is clearly a crumbling facade.

Although now cruelly imprisoned, Pussy Riot have achieved their aim. Everyone from Paul McCartney to my Gran is watching Russia's every move, with the message that Russia is wrong, and the hope that Pussy Riot will be freed. 

So, whilst you're drinking a brew, all cosy and warm in bed tonight, spare a thought or two for the martyrs of Pussy Riot, in a freezing prison cell, missing their families, all in the name of free speech and punk rock, whilst Putin relaxes in comfort and grandeur. 

                                                             Girl Power!! 

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

We didn't do too badly, did we?

So, the Olympics are over.
That's it for another 4 years, but bloody hell, we went out with a bang.
Now I'm not your stereotypical patriot. I don't have 'England '66' tattooed in fading ink across my bicep. I'll never sacrifice my life or kill another human being in aid of my country. I don't hate The Queen, but I'm not her biggest fan either, and I certainly do not agree with the amount of taxpayer's money we spend on her each year. I'll also happily admit that I don't attend church on Sundays, and my stint as a Girl Guide was short lived.
However, during two weeks in the middle of August, I felt quite proud of our tiny little island.
Our tiny little island that is famous for it's class system, sarcasm, and the national drink of some Chinese leaves in hot water,  which will now be remembered for the Olympics.

As I've said before on this blog, the London 2012 Olympics are far from perfect, but we did a pretty decent job! We hosted them with a smile (albeit sometimes a forced one), which turned into mild surprise when we ended up 3rd in the medal table with 29 gold, 17 silver and 19 bronze medals, and realized that we are much better at sport than Eurovision.

So anyway, I'll stop rabbiting on about my national pride, and give the closing ceremony a mention.
Other than the questionable decision of inviting One Direction, Jessie J, Take That, Ed Sheeran (who murdered a Pink Floyd song) The Spice Girls and er... Naomi Campbell (Blood diamonds anyone?) 
It was pretty damn good!
I'll refrain from making George Micheal jokes, but you really can't fault The Pet Shop Boys accidentally  dressed as The KKK!

Another highlight was 80,000 people erupting into John Lennon's Imagine, whilst a sculpture of his face was constructed  IKEA style with some white boxes.  Somewhat ironically, this was set to the background of some confused North Korean athletes, who will probably never understand peace, and unsurprisingly  won all the medals involving weapons. 

By far though, the best part of the night was Beady Eye's (sadly not Oasis, but you can never have it all) rendition of Wonderwall, which brought back memories of Year 8 music lessons and also brought a tear to my eye. 

The Who then played everybody out with My Generation, in an explosion of tears and confetti. 
At this point I received a text from one of my mates, enlightening me to the fact that the guy playing bass for The Who, was wearing a suit made of wool  from her parents factory. 
I shall take that as my Olympic claim to fame (however tenuous it may be) and politely decline to mention my wool allergy. 

                                                 So, that was the Olympics 2012.  

I shall leave you with a picture of some constipated divers.


Friday, 3 August 2012

Postcards from far away

Well, summer has been eventful so far!
As well as generally lazing around and drinking tea , I have the Olympics.

Now, I know what you're thinking. I have moaned incessantly about the Olympics, from the moment 7 years ago, on the 6th of July 2005 when we found out we'd won the bid. For 7 whole years, I have groaned, complained, protested and whinged. There's no denying that the Olympics isn't perfect, so far, there have been: deaths, un-acceptable and shameful corporate sponsorship,a horrific scandal concerning DOW chemical, and a cancelled Glastonbury! 

However we've also had Mr Bean playing a synthesiser,

 a gigantic 100ft Voldermort, 

15 gold medals for Team GB, 

                                             and er....Boris Johnson dangling from a zipwire. 

Only in Britain. 

So, as much as I want to hate the Olympics,  well...I'm actually quite enjoying them, and so far, the opening ceremony has been a highlight, I loved it, and I'm sure the 27 Million U.K. viewers and the rest of the world (even if some of the Korean viewers weren't quite laughing at the classic British humour) loved it too. Especially the Arctic Monkeys. (Or to be even more specific, Alex Turner.)

The only complaint I would have that whoever said "It's a small world" Has evidently never had to sit through the calling out of the countries at the opening ceremony...bloody hell, I managed to have 3 cups of tea just through the S's!  I swear at one point they were just making countries up to make sure Her Maj was awake. Poor sod, I wonder if she was allowed Gin in the stadium? 

We'll remember the opening ceremony for years to come, and if I was old enough to bet, I'd put £100 on Danny Boyle getting a knighthood. The word legend is overused, but not in this case. 

So yes, as much as I have moaned about the Olympics, I will be avidly watching from my sofa, eating some custard creams, but sadly not dreaming. Because any one who knows me well, will know that Fran and sports don't really mix. Okay, Fran and sports do not mix AT ALL. I cannot throw, I cannot jump and I most certainly cannot  run. The only sporting talents I posses are the ability to walk to the fridge plus some mouldy swimming badge, (that will be floating round in my Gran's knicker drawer) saying that I can jump into a large body of water in my pjamas, and swim breaststroke for 100m. 

I think even John Prescott doing the hurdles has more sporting talent than I can only dream of. 

So please don't hold your breath to see me at Rio in 2016. 
Anyway, enough of my ranting, GOOD LUCK TEAM GB!