Thursday, April 29, 2010

Same Old Song and Dance

…is the title of the Aerosmith classic which has just been served up to me by iTunes.  It seems quite appropriate for the title of this post.

It may surprise you to know that I am not David Cameron’s biggest fan, and despite the nice blue you see in this corner of the Blogosphere I remain an undecided voter.   You see, I am also sceptical about the Conservative’s campaign for change.  Cameron seems as full of silly gimmicks as Mr Blair and Mr Brown, and look at the mess that’s got us in to.  What I really want is someone who honestly tells it how it is, has the guts to make difficult decisions (which may be unpopular in the short term) and can bring about real change.

What I really want, then, I hear you say, is Nick Clegg.  Someone who claims to want real change.  Someone who is clearly trustworthy and honest.

Really?  It’s alright, there’s no need to sit down with a strong drink – I’m not about to come out of the Lib Dem closet.  The fact of the matter is that the Lib Dems are more likely to end up alongside the BNP on JP’s decisive list of people not to vote for.

But why? Firstly, there’s the issue of policy.  Like all parties, they have some good ideas. Like all parties they have some ideas I disagree with – and the latter outweighs the former.

Secondly, if I’m going to disagree with someone, I don’t mind as much if I can actually trust them.

However, when I look at the local election leaflets, I see no evidence of “real change” or “trustworthiness.”   For example, look at this little snippet (from http://www.thestraightchoice.org/full.php?q=1612#l3814): 

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“Labour Can’t Win Here” is a lie, for a start.  Obviously, it’s extremely unlikely that they will, but until polling commences it’s very much a level playing field.  Do we really want an MP who plays on the ignorance and stupidity of some of the electorate to win votes?

Looking closely, you might be able to read that “this time the result could be even closer” and “more and more people are switching to back [Lib Dem] Sandra Gidley.”

Do we really want someone with logic like that to run the country?

One of the first Lib Dem leaflets which came through the door spent most of the time haranguing either the Labour Government or “the ruling Conservatives.”  By “ruling Conservatives,” they evidently mean the council, because Sandra Gidley is the incumbent MP.  If she’s worth voting for she should be able to speak about her own record without blaming everyone else.

Things have, admittedly, improved in the latest leaflet, but she still takes a cheap shot by noting that the “Conservative candidate has no record of effective action.”  I don’t know about you, but I’m not entirely surprised given that she’s not been an MP before – and it doesn’t mean that she would be ineffective if elected.

Anyway, all political parties do it, I hear you say.  It’s true – I can’t single out the Lib Dem literature as the only example of this behaviour.  But it’s because it’s true that you should not be conned in to joining Nick Clegg’s shiny bandwagon.

Labservative for 65 years? Maybe.  But where’s the evidence that the Lib Dems will offer real change from that status quo?  Your future may be orange, but it’s not necessarily that bright.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Why rail travel is expensive

In theory, I like the idea of having a ‘Station Guide’ on National Rail Enquiries, to help plan your journey.  As a concept, I can’t fault it.

In reality, though, do we really need the detail of three possible routes between the Car Park and Platform 2 at even the smallest local station?  Do we really need to be given explicit guidelines to use either the ramp or the steps, and do we care that one option is 5m longer than the other?  Do we really need to be told to bear right through the entrance after being told to head towards it?

If people are paid to take measurements, photographs and to come up with that sort of detail it’s no wonder that fares are on the rise.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tory Banter

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(from http://www.mydavidcameron.com/posters4/scottish1).

Given the debate on my last post, I thought I’d show this.  I quite like mydavidcameron.com – probably more so than I like the man himself – but I’ll elaborate on that another time.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

SNP should mind their own business

As an English resident, I don’t generally bother with Alex Salmond’s drivel, but I have picked up on their desire to have a “strong voice in Westminster.”

This strikes me as trying to have someone else’s cake, and eating it.  I understand the SNP to be pro-Scottish independence, which means that they think that they can live without support from the rest of the UK.  The logical trade-off of this is that they should have no right to interfere in our business.

No-one is looking at it from the other point of view and saying that if Scotland is independent we should have English representatives.  Which is perhaps fair enough, because if you continued along this line of logic we’d all be complaining that there are no English representatives in the French parliament either. 

Just because we’re part of a wider group of nations (be that the UK, or Europe as a whole) whose policies may impact our own doesn’t mean we have a right to get involved ourselves.

Central Westminster Government for the whole of the UK, or true independence for the constituent nations?  You pays your money, you makes your choice.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

JP would not end “press bias” in the UK

I see that some people are signing up to a Facebook group about “press bias” in the UK.

Apparently, “the daily newspapers "The Daily Mail" and "The Sun" during this election debate have been completely pro conservative and pushing for votes for David Cameron.”

Are we meant to be surprised by this?  Did anyone set up a similar group when The Sun announced it was supporting Labour last time around?*

Surely a better way of wasting time alleviating feelings against “pro Conservative press bias” is to buy a copy of The Guardian.

 

*It has to be said that I thought that this particular announcement was a stroke of genius.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Union Express

I was intrigued by this BBC article about the train drivers’ union ASLEF putting in a bid for the East Coast Franchise.  My attention was particularly captured by the fact that ASLEF want “to show how services could be improved without spending more money.”

To improve services, I would have thought that one might want more staff.  To do so without spending more money either means paying everyone less, or making existing staff work longer hours without a pay increase.  Isn’t that the sort of capitalist behaviour ASLEF would normally strike over? Furthermore, where is Bob Crowe? The thought of “not spending any money” normally has him kicking off about ‘safety’ issues and the like.

Friendly Neighbourhood Signs

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Apparently I live in an area recently branded as “of social and environmental concern.”  I’ve even been to a couple of residents’ meetings.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

JP Observes – Part Yellow Van Man

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I don’t know about you, but if I went to a breaker’s yard in search of a door for my van, I’d expect to find it easier to obtain a white one than one in any other colour.

Some poor soul is probably driving a yellow van with a mismatching door, because yellow ones are ‘like hen’s teeth.’

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Volcano related banter

It seems that there is nothing quite like a volcano for sparking memorable quotes.  In light of today’s ash cloud, many media sources are reminiscing about BA Captain Eric Moody’s famous announcement when the flight encountered volcanic ash in 1982:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them under control. I trust you are not in too much distress.”

However, my favourite quote of the day is to be found in The Times, who cite Hjordis Gudmondsdottir, a spokesperson for Iceland's air traffic authority:

"The ash is going out to the ocean and to Europe so our airports aren't really affected. It's almost funny, except it isn't, obviously."

Monday, April 12, 2010

JP might vote for…Stephen Crabb

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I saw a good example of a positive election poster this morning. 

“Working for Pembrokeshire” gives a good local focus, and it bucks a trend by not implying anything negative about the other candidates.  Stephen Crabb is incumbent MP in the area and his choice of slogan effectively says “vote for me on my current record.”  Obviously if you think he’s done a rubbish job then you might not be inclined to try and re-elect him, but at least it’s encouraging you to judge him on his merits alone, rather than someone else’s lack thereof.

This is in contrast to the majority of Conservative posters.  The “Vote for Change” slogan sounds good, but it’s a bit generic.  Will there be a change?  What will that change be?  At the end of the day, it’s a slogan based on being fed up with Labour rather than offering anything specifically new.  We all have good reason to be fed up with Labour, and so I don’t need to be encouraged to vote for change – I’d just like to know what that change will be.

Still, congratulations to Stephen Crabb for offering the most positive signs I have seen so far in the 2010 election.  If I was registered to vote in Pembrokeshire he’d be heading in the right direction to secure JP’s cross on the ballot paper.

Friday, April 09, 2010

I don’t like…

I agree with Alan Sugar in this – as I’m sure most people do.  Which begs the question as to how any of our politicians achieve a single vote.

Still, much as I’d like to follow Alan Sugar’s suggestion and tell them all to p*** off, I believe that I have a duty to vote on May 6th.

How I will vote still remains to be seen, and my decision is not currently helped by the fact that most of the election coverage seems to involve the parties slandering one another.  Is it too much to ask to want someone with the guts to stand up for their convictions and offer positive reasons to vote for them rather than reasons not to vote for anyone else?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

You know you’re old when…

…you find it hard to get your head around Jarvis Cocker being described as a ‘veteran’ musician.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Kiwi Beer and Jesus.

At a time when my mother found mince pies, but not hot cross buns in her local Sainsbury’s, and Jonathan Ross is tweeting about “baby” Jesus, showing a Christmas billboard suddenly makes a great deal of sense.

TUI Beer Advert 

Millions of people around the world are currently preparing to celebrate Easter, and Jesus’ resurrection.  If you’re not one of them, have you decided on another explanation for the known historical events surrounding Jesus’ death, or have you just never bothered to think about it properly?

Will you think about Jesus for yourself?  Or will you say “yeah right,” on the basis that you think you know it all anyway?

More Union Madness

If you are a Blogosphere Veteran, you may be beginning to worry that my regular rambles about trains have been replaced by a penchant for trade union bashing.

I do apologise for this inconvenience, but as everyone is attempting to strike, I have a lot to say on the matter.  Besides, when it’s as justified as it is at the moment, it’s more fun than ever to poke fun at the unions.

We learned this week that yet another trade union has made fools of its members by rigging a strike ballot. The RMT have had to call off the rail strike because the ballot included phantom employees.

According to the BBC, our friend Bob Crowe justifies this as follows:

"There's 1,700 workplaces and over 18,000 workers that work on the Network Rail sites, and we have to at any given moment in time before we ballot, name every single grade and every work location.

"By the time you finish the audit it's like the Forth Bridge - you start again because someone else has been promoted, someone else has been sacked, someone dies and so on. It's a moving feast"

Reading The Times, I learned that some of the signal boxes included in the ballot have been closed for some time.  Apparently, Chalford Signal Box was last in use in 1964.  Mr Crowe, if you cannot keep abreast of developments which happened 46 years ago you should be sacked for gross incompetence.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday…

When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One."

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself."

There was a written notice above him, which read:

THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"

But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."

Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

[Taken from Luke's Gospel (NIV)].