70 Years of get out clauses…

Early today Israeli Defence Forces attacked a convoy of ships carrying aid that were heading for Gaza.  The details are sketchy; the IDF allegedly opened fire on the ships, wounding volunteers and damaging the vessels, and then boarded at least one ship.  The IDF claim that they were attacked by people on the ships with knives, and in the ensuing shooting (there is no evidence at all that the people on board the ships had any firearms) between 10 and 20 volunteers were shot dead.

Let’s just look at this. 

  • First of all, this attack took place 40 miles out – that’s International Waters.  Israel therefore committed an act of piracy.  Even if the crew of the ship boarded did resist, I think that they were justified in repelling acts of piracy.  There is no difference in what the Israelis did to what Somali pirates do.
  • If the organisers of the convoy were attempting a provocation, then the Israelis have proved themselves to be singularly incompetent at dealing with provocation.  Why not wait until the ships enter Israeli waters before stopping them?  Why not park a destroyer across the route of the convoy to force the convoy to stop or turn?

The Israelis will now no doubt spend a lot of time claiming that it was self defence – just like the many occasions when IDF members have shot dead aid workers or reporters.  Just as they did when they attacked the USS Liberty in International Waters in 1968.

There is, of course, a great irony here.  The action of the British Royal Navy in stopping the SS Exodus docking at Haifa in 1947, and the subsequent sending of the refugees on board back to Europe, was a massive propaganda coup for groups like the Hagen-ah fighting for the establishment of the Jewish State.  It may well be that this action by the Israelis will engender massive support for Israel.  The blindness to historical irony of a country so formed by history is astonishing.

This has also been the week in which the Israeli Government have expressed their fierce resistance to the idea of a nuclear weapons free Middle east as suggested by President Obama.  And let’s not go in to the business of the Israeli secret service ‘borrowing’ UK and Irish passports for the death squads to use.  Not a good year for Israeli PR…

As a child and a teenager, and right through to my mid-twenties, I felt great sympathy and admiration for Israel – they successfully resisted numerous invasion attempts from Arab nations, and stood firm against terrorism.  But in recent years I’m increasingly of the opinion that they’re becoming a serious threat to world peace.  In fact, I’d regard their antics serious enough to get them in to the ‘rogue state’ category.  Let’s face it – today’s act of piracy indicates that either the government has no control over it’s forces, or that the government has control over it’s forces and no respect for International Law.

70 years ago the world quite rightly had great sympathy for the formation of a Jewish state in the aftermath of WW2 and the Holocaust.  For the last 70 years the Israelis have traded on the guilt of the Western World in letting the Nazis get away with what they did, and with Israel’s position in the Middle East as a western ally in the Cold War and more recently in the ‘War on Terror’.  Well, sorry guys, the Cold War’s over, the ‘War on Terror’ is rapidly changing complexion and even becoming discredited, and you can’t guilt-trip Governments made up of people who were not even born until 20 or 30 years AFTER WW2.

From a one time supporter to Israel – please behave like a civilised member of the family of nations.

To my own Government – can we expect sanctions to be called against Israel?  If not, why not?

When ‘ethics’ is a county in the south of England

There’s an old joke about politics – politicians are people who think that:

  • Ethics is a county in the south of England
  • Morals are paintings on plaster
  • Scruples is the Russian currency

Unfortunately it seems that this joke is rapidly becoming a reality – within 48 hours we’ve had two Chief Secretaries to the Treasury who’ve had, shall we say,  slight incongruities in their financial backgrounds.  Ignoring the red-herrings that have been tossed around about David Laws’ sexuality, the bottom line of this is that it appears that the Liberal Democrats didn’t audit the financial backgrounds of their senior members – something that both Labour and the Tories did in the aftermath of the expenses scandal.  It shouldn’t have been rocket science for the Lib Dems to do this; indeed, I would have thought that it should have been pretty easy and straight forward to achieve; after all, there were not as many LD MPs as Tory or Labour MPs, and over the years we’ve often been regaled by the Liberals with how they represent honesty and integrity against the perfidy and entrenched privilege of the other two major parties.

Well, a quick exposure to power has revealed the the LD MPs have as many financial ‘D’OH’ moments to deal with as their blue and red colleagues.

Perhaps Nick Clegg honestly never believed his MPs would play fast and loose, perhaps they genuinely didn’t think they’d done anything wrong.  Perhaps they never expected to gain power and so come under public scrutiny – but the Lib Dems are now under the same sort of withering fire from the media as Labour and Tory MPs were at the start of the expenses row.  I’ve already suggested in a previous post that Laws has bought the Coalition in to disrepute and has carried over the issues surrounding the integrity and financial probity of MPs from the last parliament in to this one.  Now that Danny Alexander appears to have dropped the ball as well, it does begin to look like there is a systemic problem at the heart of the Liberal Party which needs sorting out if they’re to retain the moral high ground they’ve previously had.

I’ve found it interesting this evening to briefly debate the issue with Liberal Democrat apologists on Twitter, whose main argument has been to try and sidestep the allegations Alexander’s financial irregularities by trying to focus attention on the tax status of the Barclay Brothers who own the Daily Telegraph, who’re publishing the Alexander information.  The difference is that the Barclay Brothers did not get elected to Government on the back of people’s despair over MP’s expenses.  Neither do they run the country.

To all members of the Liberal Democrat Party.  Fix this mess.  Audit your people, come clean, accept that some of your folks have issues that need addressing and address them.  Don’t try and bullshit us with claims of homophobia (for Laws) or feeble attempts to blame the messenger (for Alexander).  I hope that the Alexander issue IS something out of nothing, and that the situation is satisfactorily explained to us over the next day or so.

But let’s just say I’m not holding my breath.  In the meantime, how many Liberal Democrat MPs are left who can take the job on?

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-05-30

  • The Political Classes still don't understand – we, the people, come not to praise David Laws, but to bury him as one who has defrauded us. #
  • England did not deserve that result – Japan should have won 2-0 IMO. Not an auspicious end to the pre-World Cup campaign. #
  • Got a lot to do today and this week – definitely a good day to go to Church to start matters off in a positive way! #
  • A request to all Twitter 'experts' – you don't tell me how to run my life on Twitter, and I won't tell you how to run yours. 🙂 #
  • Laws has broken the rules and must face the consequences. There should not be an attempt to generate a 'homophobia smokescreen'. #
  • Coalition supporters need to realise that perception in politics is all – Laws could not possibly have survived in his particular post. #
  • Really don't get the outpouring of sympathy for Laws – he broke the rules. Just like Labour and Tory politicians previously. Hubris again. #
  • Coalition Science Minister promotes space industry in UK – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/science_and_environment/10176761.stm #
  • Concorde MAY fly again! Best of luck to them – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8712806.stm #
  • A request to ALL UK politicians – please be honest in your dealings, or competent in your dishonesty. #
  • Interesting blog post from @inspiremetoday: Inspired by #LOST http://bit.ly/9XtPpo #
  • RT @timoreilly: This story from @nytimes brought tears to my eyes, & triggered thoughts about how shame can inspire us. http://bit.ly/bW5WhU #
  • But having said that, Laws broke the rules, and the relevant sanctions have to be applied and the consequences handled. #
  • Yes, Laws has been a bad lad – but £40,000 is chickenfeed compared to what the collective incompetence of Brown and Darling pissed away…. #
  • FINALLY watched the last episode of Lost – satisfying and thought provoking. #
  • Exciting stuff happening for a car-sharing / carbon saving project I'm involved with – 2 local authorities about want to talk!! #
  • Shopping done – back to the day job! #
  • RT @MarkRMatthews: RT @PragerRadio: “Politically incorrect is a euphemism for truths that are painful.” #TCOT #
  • Early adopters of ID cards are apparently pleading that their cards are not taken from them – I gather even some slaves loved their chains.. #
  • Making good progress on site coding – need to do some catch up on my 'To Do' list though – need to write the darn thing! #
  • Excited about what's happening in Hillsborough these days – follow the Hillsborough forum on Facebook as well… http://is.gd/crtLW #
  • The 'Miracle of Dunkirk' – a great feat by brave men and women – but maybe we need to focus more on the crisis of 2010. #
  • Good meeting with community assembly officers and other vcf groups – now home to work! #
  • Strange thing to say, but Bruce Springsteen and Richard Hawley fit together well on playlists! #
  • http://open.spotify.com/user/joepritchard/playlist/1O7zbpN10LmRcovazjWtJ1 Spotify playlist: Bruce Springsteen – Magic #fb #
  • Newsnight on iPlayer re. Sheffield – yes, it will be painful. Shame the previous Government didn't think of this when they ran up the debt. #
  • Cooler day here in shiny Sheffield again – looking froward to a productive one! #
  • On the way home – good meeting on behalf of Hillsborough Forum #
  • Vegetating in #showroom If anyone from #gistlab around, please say Hi! #
  • hah! #gistlab – thanks for the help! Brain gets older, stuff runs out…. 🙂 #
  • New community space at Workstation in Sheffield – what's it called and can I drop in anytime to visit? #sheffield #geekup #
  • RT @Hills_Forum: Great news regarding Hillsborough in Bloom: Current feedback from the judges based on their spring visit is Silver Gilt! #
  • RT @bettakultcha: I remember what life was like before those 'Use by''best before' & now 'Enjoy by' dates came (cont) http://tl.gd/1fdkdf #
  • Woohoo! kicking off a new project! Yeah baby! #
  • Beautiful day here in Sheffield – full of meetings for me! #

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Why I’m fucking furious with David Laws….

A little history.

One of the reasons why there has been radical political change in the UK in the last year is that the British people have finally started getting truly fed up with MPs on the ‘gravy train’ who seem to prosper whilst the rest of the country goes down the plughole.  Until 2006, it was legitimate for MPs to pay expenses / rents / fees etc. to their partners or family members.  A change in the rules then stated that you could no longer do that.

David Laws fell foul of this by virtue of the fact that between 2004 and 2009 Mr Laws claimed money back from the State – that is, us – to pay rent to his partner a total of around £40,000.  I think it’s safe to say that had this been a story involving a couple of jobless folks claiming benefits there wouldn’t be an issue of paying the money back right now – it would be more likely to be an issue of someone spending a year at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

At first glance, Laws appears to have either been incompetent with money (never good for someone tasked with the job of implementing Government cuts) or dishonest (equally a bit of a downer for someone in that job…)   And then it gets complicated – apparently the actual reason for the…misunderstanding….involving the expenses was that laws was actually gay, and he was trying to keep this quiet for respect of his and his partner’s privacy.

To date I’ve been impressed with the Coalition – both their politics and the way they’ve been implementing them. But the Coalition has come to power with a whole host of ‘issues’ around it – there are folks in both parties who don’t want it to work,  Labour are waiting for errors to exploit and people are expecting a lot from the new Government.  What folks are not wanting is a return to parliamentary expenses problems – especially when it features someone who’re responsible for implementing serious, albeit necessary, cuts.

  • Laws – this is why I am bloody angry with you.  I find it VERY difficult to believe that you:
  • Didn’t appreciate that your private life was going to be public at some point in the last year or so. 
  • Chanced your arm by carrying on claiming after the rule change.
  • Were hard-up enough to need to claim the rent back at all.
  • Didn’t realise that it would all come out if you became a frontbench Minister, especially in the Treasury.

It’s inevitable that whoever implements the Coalition’s Treasury policy needs to be pretty much whiter than white – or at least as white as any politician can be these days -for whatever reasons Laws didn’t meet this criterion. 

Whether he thought he was working within the rules or not, he wasn’t.  He’s now given an open-goal to opposition to the Coalition within the Tory Party, the Liberals and New Labour.  Personal hubris has yet again laid waste a political career, but with potentially bad implications for the country.

And that’s why I’m so fucking angry with Laws – he’s managed to drag the bad issues of the last Parliament through in to this one, distracting people away from the really major issues of getting the UK back on it’s feet after a decade of mis-rule.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-05-23

  • Having slept on it, I was harsh on ITV's 'The Prisoner' – a little time to dwell on it and it makes MUCH more sense – will watch again! #
  • Apparently the 'Purple in the Peace Gardens' demo about democracy has been blocked from the Peace Gardens by SYP. Irony…. #
  • Finished watching the ITV revisioning of 'The Prisoner' last night – quite interesting concepts, ultimately disappointing. #
  • RT @motivational: He that allows himself to be a worm must not complain if he is trodden on. -Kant #
  • RT @Toltecjohn: 'Between friends, differences in taste or opinion are irritating in direct proportion to their triviality' WH Auden #
  • "Don't mention the war – I mentioned it once but i think I got away with it…" – one Labour Leadership candidate to another…. #
  • Writing Financial and IT policy Documents…hmmmm….fun! #fb #
  • Playing catch up – Python code beta released and documented , development plan for some software sent, now time to write letters and stuff! #
  • Finishing documentation for Python program this morning – then Financial Procedures for #HillsboroughForum #
  • RT @CSLewisDaily: Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less-C.S.Lewis #
  • I'm scared…two days in a row and the post has arrived before noon….most be an evil portent! #fb #
  • God..being followed by a US Patent Lawyer – blocked the bugger. #
  • FFS – we're not dying, eejit! RT @guardiantech: The free digital lunch is over. Now we pay with our lives | Jemima Kiss http://bit.ly/djFCBW #
  • Interesting and scary stuff! RT @newscientist: Immaculate creation: birth of the first synthetic cell http://bit.ly/c0Weua #venter #
  • Yup…you got caught. RT @Twitter_Tips: Google's Brin on Wi-Fi spying: 'We screwed up' http://ow.ly/1Nqvf #
  • Are Clegg and Cameron actually Kang and Kodos? #fb #
  • Don't agree with all Dianne Abbott's politics but she's a good, solid old fashioned, 'Conviction Politician'. Not a hope.. 🙁 #
  • Hear, hear. RT @Paulscriven: Nice to know civil liberties and political reform at heart of New Govt agenda. #
  • Very exciting morning at Hillsborough Forum! #
  • Started day with 7-45 meeting and some invoice chasing! #fb #
  • Hmmm…looking at my inbox I'd say there are new spammers in town… #
  • Damn right! RT @StarSparkle_UK: "FlashForward" is getting so good – it's a crying shame its been cancelled. #
  • RT @joindiaspora: http://www.reclaimprivacy.org/ check your FB privacy settings, automagically! #whyisntthisbuiltintofacebook 🙂 #
  • Before NuLab scream to loud, the 6billion cuts is only 2% of spending… via @guidofawkes: Reality Check on Cuts: http://bit.ly/9Z2ckH #
  • http://open.spotify.com/user/joepritchard/playlist/5JUh9hNeDECoXVcxLIBnmg Spotify playlist: Al Stewart – Year Of The Cat #fb #
  • More Python coding today, methinks! #
  • RT @philo_quotes: May you live your life as if the maxim of your actions were to become universal law. ~ Kant http://bit.ly/a4qLIY #

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Demonising Tories…or anyone…is so last century…

Now that the smoke of battle (and confusion) of General Election 2010 has cleared and we have a Coalition Government that hasn’t yet been proven to be the spawn of Beelzebub, can I make a suggestion that demonising anyone in politics – even Tories – is not a good move?

Twenty five years ago, during the Thatcher years, a few of us on the Left made the observation that it was potentially unhelpful to refer to the politics espoused by her Government as ‘Thatcherism’, even as a shorthand.  Our argument went that if you attach a name to a branch of politics in that very overt way, then as soon as the individual dies, quits or gets voted out of office then, almost by definition, that form of politics disappears from the scene.  There is a historical precedent; whilst 99% of everyone called the political beliefs of Hitler and his followers Nazism or Fascism, a few people in the 30s – often doctrinaire Communists – referred to it as ‘Hitlerism’.  Whereas we’ve been able to spot Nazism over the decades, spotting the politics underlying ”Thatcherism’ seems to have been harder – the monetarist and ‘Shock Doctrine’ policies of the Chicago School have come back repeatedly to haunt us in many ways, culminating in the years of Bush Junior Government in the US.

This last election has been truly bizarre, with people repeatedly warning me about ‘re-electing Thatcher’ in the form of David Cameron.  The irony is that some of the folks who’ve been most vociferously demonising Thatcher and the Tories were in the twenties and early 30s – in other words, when Thatcher was in power these folks were either foetuses or snot-nosed kids. 

Demonising any individual politician is fraught with danger for those doing it; unless your target is very obviously evil incarnate (in which case the vast majority of people will see it anyway and you’re ‘preaching to the choir’) then folks will just regard it as sour grapes and ‘ad hominem’ arguments.  One thing that has started happening in recent times in the UK is that people have become disillusioned with the political process, politicians and the whole schoolyard ethos that seems to have permeated British politics for the last 20 years.  The demonisation of one individual or party by others involved in the same ‘game’, so to say, has all the elements of ‘pot calling kettle black’ and people have responded to it accordingly.

It IS last century – just look at the nonsense at ACAS last night when BA Chief Willie Walsh was surrounded by a good old fashioned British ‘leftie rent-a-mob’ that seemed to belong more in the 1970s at Grunwick than in 2010.  The union chief was furious, ACAS was embarrassed and angry, Walsh commented on the disgust he felt in the situation he was in.  The demonstrators focused their chants on Walsh, and have probably significantly damaged chances of settling the dispute.  Seeing the placards from groups like ‘Socialist Worker’, for those of us who were in the Labour movement in the 80s and 90s it was like a return to old times with the ‘Usual Suspects’ – the professional hecklers and agitators who have no great desire to settle these disputes but simply seek to benefit from them.

Boys and girls, that approach is over.  It was always pointless and now people see it for what it is – egotistical tantrum throwing by typically over-privileged, under-occupied political performance artists.  If you want to achieve change in our society – get involved with genuine community groups and put your  backs in to getting some work done.  Demonising the opposition is childish and pointless.

4 Lions – when does bad taste become dark humour?

Back in January 2009, there was a little article in The Guardian referring to thefunding of a film by Chris Morris by FilmFour, the film production arm of Channel 4.   The film, “4 Lions”, has now been produced and released to mixed reviews, some of which will have undeniably been influenced by the subject matter of the film – a comedy about Islamic extremist suicide bombers planning a bomb attack on the London Marathon.

The film was described as  showing the “the Dad’s Army side to terrorism”, as four incompetent jihadists plan an attack.  For some reason the description of the film reminded me of the description of the spoof musical ‘Springtime for Hitler’ as ‘ A Gay Romp WithEva and Adolf at Berchtesgaden’ in the movie ‘The Producers’.  Interestingly enough, given the calls from relations of people involved in the 2005 bombings for the film to be not distributed or screened, ‘The producers’ had some difficulties at the start of it’s life with problems with getting it made or shown.  Eventually it was released as an ‘art house’ film and then got big ‘word of mouth’ takeup.

Now, I love ‘the Producers’, but I’m rather less enamoured with Morris’s film, and it set me thinking about what makes some ‘bad taste’ films acceptable and others unacceptable.

I guess the first thing is the timing.  When ‘The Producers’ was made in 1968, WW2 was 23 years in the past; whilst easily within living memory, it wasn’t raw.  Less than 5 years have elapsed between the July 2005 London bombings and the release of this film.  Probably too close for comfort – and releasing the film around the time of the 2010 London Marathon was probably a brilliant wheeze  from a marketing point of view but a little ‘naff’ for those taking part in the Marathon or remembering those killed in 2005.

Then there’s the closeness to real life.  Let’s stick with ‘The Producers’ as our control here.  They made one of the two most evil men of the 20thCentury look like a buffoon, and had a series of song and dance routines that were so far over the top – and intended to be so – that there was no real link to reality.  “4 Lions’ has a group of four would-be bombers – complete with Yorkshire accents – coming down from the North to London to do the attack.  Sound familiar?  Just a little too close.

Then there’s the delicate issue of who makes the film.  ‘The Producers’ – bad taste comedy about the Nazis made by a Jewish producer, with Russian and German Jewish parents, and who also served in combat in WW2.  4 Lions is the brainchild of a comedian / comedy writer who’s best known for sketches and set-up pieces that often involve unsuspecting people who believe that they’re taking part in something ‘straight’ and are actually the butts of the humour.  4 Lions could well have been more acceptable had it been made by another comedian or had the involvement of someone directly involved.

Basically, as far as ‘4 Lions’ is concerned it’s badly timed, too close to home and made by a team who appear to be unsympathetic to the issues involved.  Morris and the film makers apparently did a great deal of research in to the whole mindset and culture of extremists to make the film.  Perhaps they should have researched whether it’s just too soon.  Or whether it’s a good idea at all to laugh about people being blown up less than 5 years ago.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-05-16

  • Doing some Python Bioinformatics today – finally making a wee bit of use of my degree after a couple of decades… #fb #
  • Off to church! #
  • I'm getting all Wagnerian for Saturday evening – the overture for Tannhauser is brilliant! #fb #
  • By heck – either I'm on a roll or I've missed something – I'm about 6 hours ahead of where I expected to be!! #
  • Nope – too much like cutting nose off to spite face. RT @mashable: Facebook Exodus Planned for May 31: Will You Quit? – http://bit.ly/bsdeCq #
  • Hopefully today will see another system ready for go-live! #
  • Why wouldn't I be surprised – RT @newscientist: Will UK civil service scupper civil liberties reform? http://bit.ly/cObDuQ #
  • A productive day – looking forward to next week when I'll have more time to Blog and Tweet! #
  • RT @johncusack: RT @extroversion: War in Afghanistan: $6.7 billion/month. War in Iraq: $5.5 billion/month. http://bit.ly/c8LHmx #
  • http://open.spotify.com/user/joepritchard/playlist/2VCXNnqdsMkbzvE4jMsAPj Spotify playlist: System 7 – System 7 #fb #
  • Scary – Blackberry lost network for 30 mins here in Sheffield. I was all cut off! Alone! Alone, I tells you! #
  • Managing to get lots of meetings conducted 'en passant' at funding fair! #
  • Very busy and useful funding fair at Sheffield town hall. #
  • Absolutely not – 7-00hrs is the best time… RT @ashleymoran: Dear housemate. 7.30am is not an appropriate time to have a bath. That is all. #
  • Hope they get it going!! RT @Samibouni: Diaspora: An Open Source Facebook http://ht.ly/1KtcA [article[[forum] #web #socialmedia #
  • Yesterday cleared all known bugs from a system set to go live…today working on another application due to go live at end of month #
  • Anyone explain why there is hysteria about the proposed 55% rule? We've had Govts before protected from confidence votes by their maj. #
  • Excellent AGM / ctte meeting for SYAR #
  • http://open.spotify.com/user/joepritchard/playlist/5bKIEEwsAglBBpAOjv8UQW Spotify playlist: Steve Hackett – Voyage of the Acolyte #
  • The last 2 bugs before going live! We shall prevail, oh yes! #
  • Good Lord….I'm sliding in to AORage singing along to Jackson Browne…. #
  • http://open.spotify.com/user/joepritchard/playlist/3jeQaKbBfaHTsjTmC8Km4D Spotify playlist: Jackson Browne – The Next Voice You Hear #
  • No news to us in UK…now Skull and Bones… RT @MyEbisu: PM Cameron Oxford brats club destroyed restaurants for fun http://ow.ly/17lrKI #
  • Pound on the up….LibCon is go? #
  • On every Downing Street interview at the moment you can hear the music from 'The Godfather'….making Gordon an offer he can't refuse? #
  • RT @guardiantech: Top 50 Twitter climate accounts to follow http://bit.ly/a5qweq #
  • RT @britmic: RT @hughmacd: If the BBC have fixed it, here's a screenshot of what that last tweet pointed at. http://twitpic.com/1mwwd3 #
  • RT @guidofawkes: Ed Balls said to have been "belligerent" in negotiations with LibDems. What a surprise. Not like him at all. My, my, my. #
  • When politicians refer in respectful tones to 'The Electorate' (note capitalisation) you KNOW that we're SO screwed…. #
  • Will Adam Boulton soon turn up in a news story that ends with 'before turning the gun on himself?' Let the poor bugger rest! 🙂 #
  • Today we are at a crossroads. One road leads to hopelessness and despair; the other, to abject penury. Let us pray we choose wisely. 🙂 #
  • Re. Labour / Liberal talks…have the big knobs pulled it off? #
  • RT @AbiNielsen: "If you have a garden and a library, you have all you need." Cicero #
  • RT @iaindale: Blogpost: Labour's Potential 'Homophobic' Ally http://tinyurl.com/34zyemz #
  • 3 people understand STV…one is dead, one is in an insane asylum in Guatemala, and I'd be awfully grateful if the third can contact me..#fb #
  • However the political marriage works out – we still want a REFERENDUM on electoral reform details – not just have it foisted on us. #fb #
  • Another bug fixing day – hope it's as effective as yesterday! #
  • RT @tonycarroll: Just heard the bad news the Kraft is looking to cut jobs at Bassets in Sheffield. Cadbury takeover not so sweet. #
  • RT @safety: For an update on today's follower/following weirdness, please see: http://status.twitter.com/post/587210796 #
  • Gordon is a true economist…he's redefined 'I Quit' to mean exactly what HE wants it to mean!! #fb #
  • I like it!! RT @douglasi: L: Hurry, unfollow those coworkers and family members you never really liked, and blame it on the bug!! #
  • RT @mashable: Twitter says "follow/unfollow is temporarily offline while we fix a bug." – http://bit.ly/9dRK6z #
  • Will Brown's power play piss off the LibDems and drive them to the Tories? #
  • Anyone used Ext / JQuery with Firefox and had issues around mouseclicks? #
  • Aye Caramba…does SCC really need a 'Parental Engagement Officer'? #
  • Busy day of dealing with Firefox / IE click handling inconsistencies…joy…IE works, FF doesn't. 🙂 #
  • Very strange dreams last night…need to lay off "The merciless peppers of Quetzalacatenango… grown deep in the jungle primeval"… #fb #
  • After 4 days of strangeness, one of my two primary email accounts is back…now just need to check 4 days or mail! 🙂 #
  • Nick and the Lib Dems are finding out the joys of Big Boy's Games played by Big Boy's Rules…..whatever happens they'll get the blame! #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-05-09

  • Pouring petrol…. RT @StarSparkle_UK: We're waiting now for some smoke to appear above no.10… – does anyone know where Gordon is? 😀 #
  • You've had 13 years – don't come crawling now you've lost. RT @UKLabourParty: Please retweet if you want Proportional Representation #
  • RT @iaindale: If Norman Tebbit can't say anything helpful why can't he just shut the f***ety-f**k up. This is not the 1980s. #
  • RT @rachelolgeirsso: Electoral Commission asking 4 emails frm anyone who cdn't vote yestdy info@electoralcommission.org.uk #ge2010 #
  • This Election MUST mark the start of a total revision of election process in the UK – from voting system to logistics. #ge2010 #
  • Hazel Blears survives – classic example of stick a red rosette on a dog and folks will vote for them….. #
  • RT @StarSparkle_UK: I bet the "Guardian" is feeling a bit foolish right now… 😀 #
  • One thing – no way can we carry on with this amateurish Election Process in the UK – truly pathetic! #
  • This Election has made me too excited to sleep! 🙂 #
  • RT @tonycarroll: Dep returning officer in Sheffield tells me legal advice will be taken on whether re-run is needed following Ranmoor #
  • RT @SheffieldPDC: RT @seismicshed: Breaking news: Robert Mugabe has offered to send electoral monitors to cover future uk elections. #ge2010 #
  • RT @guidofawkes: Swing from Labour to Tories Averaging 8% So Far: http://bit.ly/c4gIyQ #
  • Rumours coming out that Caroline Lucas of the Greens MAY have won Brighton Pavillion…. #
  • RT @bettakultcha: RT @OneRedSock: In Botswana people queued from 5am waiting to make sure they could cast their vote. #ge2010 #
  • NuLab clearly learned a few things from ZanuPF about running elections…. 😉 #
  • Support a good cause and have some fun!! RT @fubart76: right, just a small matter of shifting Life's a Beach tickets. #
  • Nigel farage has a 'Johnny Cyclops' moment – last desperate attempt to get some media coverage! #ge2010 #
  • I have determined by empirical observation that today is leave brain at home day. Hope folks remember brain when they vote! #fb #
  • RT @StarSparkle_UK: Quick reminder on the eve of the Election – Dave does "Common People" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKFTtYx2OHc #
  • Sorry guys…more Gordon / Golden stuff… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmI4BNA6vsg&feature=related #
  • Gordon Brown / Golden Brown Bigot Mix…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gaJB3qDJCo #
  • http://open.spotify.com/user/joepritchard/playlist/5bKIEEwsAglBBpAOjv8UQW Spotify playlist: Steve Hackett – Voyage of the Acolyte #
  • Depends how badly I need the penny… 😉 RT @dasgrafik: What would you do for a penny? A shiny new penny? #
  • Awesome people. RT @louiebaur: 6 People You've Never Heard of Who Probably Saved Your Life http://bit.ly/9G6BY3 #
  • RT @davidtheprguy: 9 Social Media Topics that Need To Die http://bit.ly/bSw2Lj #
  • Back to debugging – a long weekend off work does wonders! #
  • I may not agree with NuLab but I feel for Gordon Brown as a man right now – surrounded by incompetence and disloyalty. #fb #
  • Strong the Fourth is with this one! RT @bettakultcha: May the 4th be with you #starwarsgags #
  • D'OH!! RT @guidofawkes: This isn’t exactly the headline Labour would want forty-five hours before the polls open… http://bit.ly/bU7oes #
  • With bets to make it interesting….RT @marcjohnson: OH: "open gladiatorial combat is the only answer to our political system" #whmj2 #
  • Working on my first Twitter application…should be fun! #
  • RT @timoreilly: RT @mattBernius: @doctorow at #fooeast "People pathologically undervalue the future worth of their privacy" #

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The farce of the 2010 General Election

Less than 2 hours after the closing of the Polls in the UK’s General Election, it’s clear that there have been some cock-ups in the logistical management of the election that makes most developing world elections look like the Acme of organisation.  Let’s face it – this is THE most important election for probably probably 20 years – and one might have expected that such an election would be run in the most professional, efficient and effective way possible.

Unfortunately, it appears to have been organised by people who make Fred Karno’s Army look like the SAS.  Let’s just take a look at what seems to have been happening in the last few hours of polling.

  • People turning up to find massive queues at their polling station, going away, coming back repeatedly, then finding themselves being turned away when the Polling Station closes at 10pm.  Although in some places, people queueing when the Polling Station has closed have been taken in to the Polling Station and allowed to vote.
  • Other people turning up to vote to find that there aren’t enough Ballot Papers and so they can’t vote.
  • People in some places have been turned away an hour BEFORE the Polls closed, and have been told that they Polling Station can’t handle the queues. 

In other words – some Polling Stations have been under-resourced, badly staffed and inadequately supplied.  How can the Local Authorities and the Electoral Commission have allowed such a sorry and anti-democratic situation to arise?  After all, it should not have been a surprise that there would be a higher turnout in this election than previous ones – people have been excited by this election in such a way that I’ve not seen for some years.  We might therefore have expected the Returning Officers and Electoral Commission to take this on board and plan accordingly.

In my own polling Station I saw no more staff than usual, but did witness a higher throughput of people than I’ve seen for some time.  It was the first time I’ve actually queued to vote for as long as I can remember, despite the fact that the turnout is only a few percentage points higher than previous elections, going by the current returns.

So what’s happened?  For what it’s worth, here’s my twopence-halfpenny.

  • Perhaps in some places people left it too late to vote; there were stories about people going to vote at 6pm, finding a queue, then coming back an hour later, finding another queue, then going away again and then finally getting in the queue at 9pm…..why not stay in the queue at 6pm?  Polling Stations are open for over 12 hours – perhaps folks could get their arses in to gear a little earlier if they are determined to vote?
  • Returning Officers clearly have lacked guidance and possibly understanding of the Law in the way in which they have reacted to the queues – some have kept the station open after 10pm, others effectively closed it before that time, etc.
  • Has there been additional time taken in distributing the ballot papers and handling enquiries about Council elections as well as the General Election?
  • Has there been enough staff at Polling Stations, and has the staff been used effectively – when I voted it appeared that 3 members of staff were only capable of processing one voter at a time.  Why weren’t additional staff deployed to reduce the queues earlier in the day?
  • Have some Local Authorities tried to save money by cutting staff?
  • Have attempts been made to save money by printing Ballot Papers to suit the projected turn out rather than printing one paper per voter and a few hundred extras ‘just in case’.  It’s not friggin’ rocket science!

So….if any of the seats where this nonsense has happened generate narrow results then we could see challenges and possibly re-runs.  It looks like the rules have been ignored, and there’s been clear incompetence at a local level.  Let’s hope that lessons are learned and at least a few heads role where needed.