The Compostual Existentialist

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UK General Elections: 2015

daventry-mb21-01_thumb.jpgIt’s getting to that time again. That time where I extend my hand towards the local political persons hoping for my vote and offer them a gauntlet. That gauntlet being: Meet me in my local pub and tell me why I should vote for you.

Nothing more. Nothing less. A chat and a pint or two. Low key. No press. No song or dance. Just you, me, your minders if appropriate and whoever else is in the pub at the time. We chat politics. I ask you questions. You answer them. Honestly. Without the fear of your employers tutting at you.

So far I have made this offer for the past ten years at local, general and police and crime commissioner elections. So far nobody has accepted my challenge. It’s almost as if no politician wants to ask for my vote.

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Daventry Local Elections 2014

Well, the day is at hand. Tomorrow is election day and I am still to receive any form of communication (other than the tweets from Emma Collins) from any of the candidates running tomorrow.

 

I was unable to write profiles on the Liberal Democrat candidate or the Trade Unionist. Purely because I couldn’t find anything out about them. They too, like the Labour candidate, appear to not want to be elected and are happy to fritter away their deposit on a whim.

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I suppose it’s like betting on horses or entering the National Lottery. Only with a higher stake.

 

It’s a sorry state of affairs when the candidates in the local area just aren’t bothered about promoting their cause. It’s a sorry state of affairs when potentially good candidates give up before they’ve even started the race.

 

Tomorrow I will vote in two elections. The local and the European. I know nothing about any of the candidates other than bold brags about how they are going to stand up. Well I’ve got news. I’m going to stand up.

 

None of you candidates are worth the lives of the thousands of soldiers who died in the Great War 100 years ago. Not one of you. You should be ashamed and you are an affront to democracy. No wonder that the youth are disconnected from politics. No wonder fascist groups are on the rise in the UK and EU. It is even no wonder great minds and thinkers are leaving this country for other more enlightened parts of the world. When people like you are all the people have to select as their voice once every few years. Prove me wrong. Come canvassing in Norton tomorrow. I’m in all day. Come and tell me why I should vote for you. Contact me via this blog, twitter or where ever. I’ll meet you. Convince me you are doing this for your own beliefs and not some misguided attempt at getting your name on a park bench when you die.

 

And so, to you dear reader, all I can urge you to do tomorrow is vote. Vote for the candidate you feel is worthy of the job of representing you in the European parliament. Vote for the candidate who you feel will do the best for your local area. Remember their promises and, if they default on them, use your greatest weapon against them to bring shame upon them. Your democratic vote and your freedom of speech.

 

While, of course, you still have them.


Daventry Local Elections 2014–David Smith

Continuing my insights into the local council elections in Daventry, covering the Weedon ward.

 

“Parliamentary politics do not belong in local government” – Mr Pritchard, Barnsley

 

Too true. And yet most local elections end up being a barney between central government sponsored councillors. It makes me wonder where all the funding put into the promotion of the candidate goes, because they surely can’t be spending it on the crappy, poorly spelt leaflets that they shove through the door when everyone is at work.

Today – David Smith, Conservative

 

David Smith

David “Don’t pick on me” Smith

 

This is he. I think. He looks like the kind of person one might have experienced at school. The one who hangs around with the School Governor’s kid as their minion.

Oh look….

 

Untitled-2

Vote for us or we’ll have your lunch money.

I was right…There he is with the school governor’s kid. Chris Heaton-“I block people I disagree with on Twitter”-Harris.

The leaflet that one of his acolytes posted through my door is laid out as a letter on one side and what he’s going to do on the other.

Apparently  he is the:

“Local Choice for Weedon Ward”

Which is curious as for once, they’re all local people.

He’s also a “Hard working local campaigner” and he is “Standing up for the issues that matter to you and your family”.

Really? He must be very tired. I look forward to meeting him in the White Horse, Norton, so he can stand and tell me about these issues and why I should vote for him.

He’s lived in Weedon for 7 years with two daughters and two grandchildren. Two grandchildren? Really? At your age?

He is a local business man who has run a successful business  for the past few years. What that business is, I have no idea. Perhaps it is yoghurt weaving.

He’s been a member of the Weedon Neighbourhood Planning Group – never heard of them, and believed that local people deserve a say over the way their village looks and feels – That’s nice of him.

 

Shitting

Standing up for issues by having a shite

He will be campaigning against large scale and inappropriate developments in our future  – so that’s the proposed Giant Phallus development scuppered.

He also mentions broadband, the Weedon Bypass and Over development – yes, those pesky washed out photographs are a nuisance.

He hopes to me me on my doorstep during his campaign. I hope so too. Then he can tell me:

– What he’s going to do about fuel prices in Daventry

– How he’s going to increase sustainable employment opportunities in Daventry

– What he’s going to say when he’s enjoying a council tax paid for lunch at my expense (and it better not be “Thanks”)

On the reverse there are three priorities highlighted.

Protecting our villages – He’s going to fight to ensure our villages remain preserved and unspoilt. I look forward to seeing him getting into fisticuffs with 20 burly navvies who are trying to erect a housing estate.

 

feeting darn pontie way

David Smith wants to fight with builders and planners. Something I’d pay to watch.

 

Fight over development in our villages – Yes, Max Spielmann must be stopped!

 

Give you a voice – I have one. You’re reading it.

 

He goes on to talk about what has been achieved so far:

 

Low council tax – really? Can’t say I’ve noticed

 

Opposition to inefficient windfarms – If they were inefficient, there wouldn’t be so many of them.

 

Improving frontline services – I’m sure the Tommies will be pleased. Over the top please…

 

Attracting inward investment into our district – Yeah, that’s taxes in another language. There should be more investment in the area, agreed, but not just at the expense of the people that live here

 

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Smithy reckons he built this with his bear hands.

 

 

A new University Technical College – You did that single handed did you? I don’t think so.

 

Standing up for local people to protect our beautiful countryside – Have a seat mate.

 

Weekly food waste collection service – An EU requirement, not something you can take credit for I’m afraid.

 

Supporting DACT and Advice Daventry – How? Please explain.

 

Free parking throughout our district – Except at the country park.

 

Working for more affordable housing – Whilst stamping on development and proposals for new housing? That’s a bit contradictory. Please explain.

Or he's going for a stroll.

Look out! He’s standing up! In the countryside! He’s looking for a fight!!

I smell the freshness of the countryside. Oh no, sorry it’s the shite pouring from your election leaflet.

The offer still stands Mr David Smith. Come and tell me why I should vote for you in the 2014 Daventry Local Elections. Stand up and tell me. Like you promised.


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Filter this: Or how an entire history class ended up on report due to web filters

Way back in the noughties I had the misfortune to work in a sixth form college. Regular readers will recall this was in the post industrial landscape that is Yorkshire. Cameron’s recent moral panic calls to mind the overbearing system of “safe guarding” that was in place at the college.

Obsessive Compulsive Diserver

Obsessive Compulsive Diserver

I must provide some back story. The IT manager could quite easily have been diagnosed with Aspergers had he been twenty years younger. He didn’t like change. Not one bit. Dingleberry, as I will refer to him, was one of those people who insisted on particular ways. Deviation from which would bring calamity, disaster and the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

For example, one hot sunny day in May he insisted that the units, switches, servers and tape machines in the server cabinet be taken out and arranged in numerical, colour and size order. Why? No reason was given other than aesthetics.

Every piece of software had to be installed with default settings. “Out of the box”. Same with hardware. I dread to think of the security issues that he made with such a work ethic. Indeed, such was the “DO NOT TOUCH” attitude, the Active Directory contained accounts of people that had left the college over 5 years ago. That is the level of finickiness he operated on.

One day a whole class got into trouble for not submitting their history homework on time. The students were required to email their work to the teacher who would then assess the work and send it back. Only the teacher didnt recieve any work.

The teacher was a bit shit to be fair. She, like several other teachers I’ve met over the years, seemed to suffer from paranoia probably brought on by inadequacies, stress and plain stupidity. This particular teacher was convinced that this particular class had a grudge and were out to get her.

Sadly this was not the case.

A desk of help

A desk of help

However what happened was much more convoluted than any of her minor conspiracies.

The class were insistent that work had been emailed from home. The teacher became convinced that the class were telling fibs. Eventually she came to the helpdesk door to see me.

She told me that there was a problem with email.

Not so. I told her, demonstrating how I was able to send emails from an external account to my work account with ease.

The problem morphed into one to do with attachements.

Not so. Again, I demonstrated me sending emails with attachments with no issue whatsoever.

Aliens.

Don’t be stupid. But I’ll investigate further.

I asked the IT Manager if there was any issue with emails.

None that he could see.

I asked the IT Technician if there was any issue with emails.

Only an issue with the space between the chair and the keyboard.

I asked the Server Troll if there was any issue with emails.

No but there was an issue with his latest game of Dungeons and Dragons.

I asked the head of IT.

None that he knew of. However, I should check the newly installed spam filters.

I checked the spam filters. Therein there was over a hundred thousand emails. This was going to take me a long time to investigate.

Turned out that the spam filters contained “Out of the box” keywords. A whole lexicon or rude words, curses, inappropriateness and the like. Included were words such as: Pharmacy, penis, length, cock, schlong, kiddies, nazi, hate, escort, kill, death, murder, hitler, vagina, gash, flange, white power, drugs and much much more.

So you’ll probably now have guessed. The out of the box filtering had picked up that the emails sent to the history teacher with the assignment on the Second World War contained foul language such as hitler, nazi, gas chamber, antisemitism. The very same settings that Dingleberry refused to allow me to change.

Out of  darkness

Out of darkness

So I changed it anyway and released the history homework (Nazi, Hitler etc), the chemistry homework (pharmacy, drugs etc) and the biology homework. I released the personal messages sent from divorce approaching husbands regarding them picking up the “kiddies” in the Escort after work to their end of the line with you wives.

I added a keyword.

I won’t say what.

But let’s just say that Dingleberry no longer received emails. Certain…important emails.


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I’ll have you Copper…

AD9W4ATomorrow history is made.

Not something like the creation of a cure for a terminal disease. Nor (hopefully) some catastrophic event where millions of lives are snuffed out in a moment. Nor is it something like finding a teaspoon on Mars.

No.

Tomorrow the British public elect regional Police and Crime Commissioners.

What’s that?

You read right. The British public….that’s me and the people around me….elect….as in vote for, like you would for say, a president or MP….. regional….as in local….. Police and Crime Commissioners1…..Big decision making honchos in the police force.

The end of an era. A moment in history.

So you would think that such a monumental moment in history would be heralded with fanfare, instruction and promotion. Well…you would be wrong. Here in sunny Royal Leamington Spa there has been little in the way of canvassing. 

voteryMuch like during the local and general elections the half hearted mehness of the candidates is not giving me insight into who to vote for nor is it inspiring me to vote. Regular followers of my blogs (Hi Louenne) will probably remember during the local elections in Barnsley I challenged the candidates to come to my house and suggest why I should vote for them. Nobody did, so I voted for an outsider. I also complained of a similar lack of canvassing during the general elections.

I later wrote a piece about local MP Jeremy Wright who, until recently, had only discussed chickens once in Parliament, now seems to be a most prolific letter writer in his new job in the ministry of Justice2

For the Police and Crime Commissioner of Warwickshire there had been nothing much until Mrs Fruitcake received a card addressed to her from the local independent candidate Mr Ron Ball. [http://www.ronball4pcc.co.uk]

1061559606Ron Ball seems to be on the ball. A simple leaflet with a brief résumé, a picture of him and the statement “KEEP PARTY POLITICS OUT OF POLICING”. Nice. 

Mr Ron Ball says that if he is elected he will :

Strengthen policing

Ensure no reductions in policing

Spend money on nice offices for him to use

That’s fairly honest. I mean what else could he say? Nothing, I noted about the commissioning of crime. But maybe he doesn’t really want to advertise that bit.

So like in Barnsley, as Mr Ron Ball was the only person to bother to send some information about himself and why he was standing even though it wasn’t addressed to me, he was going to get my vote.

That is…..Until last night.

Two days before the election a leaflet lands on the mat. This time from the LABOUR Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate – James Plaskitt. [http://www.jamesforwarwickshire.co.uk]

Hurrah! Someone else to consider.

rly8qdhdlyqyo4xytnq2Mr Plaskitt says he will:

Strengthen policing

Make sure there are no reductions in policing

Spend money on nice offices for him to use

Ok. So that’s pretty much standard then. Then…at the top of the back page….

“I WILL KEEP POLITICS OUT OF POLICING”

How? Hang on, you’re the LABOUR PCC candidate. And you’re going to KEEP POLITICS OUT OF POLICING?

That’s like Jimmy Saville running for Child Protection officer saying “KEEP MOLESTATION OUT OF CHILDRENS HOMES”

I don’t get it.

picture-9089As yet Gnomepants Heights is still to receive propaganda from the Conservative candidate, Fraser Pithie [http://www.fraserpithie.org.uk/] . Being a Conservative area he probably thinks “I don’t need to do anything as people in this area automatically vote for conservative here anyway. I mean if Adolf Hitler was standing as a conservative then people here would vote for him.”

 

 

But no doubt he will say that he will:

Strengthen policing

Make sure there are no reductions in policing

Spend money on nice offices for him to use

While probably also keeping politics out of policing.

Hmmm. In all that’s like saying “Vote for me and I’ll do the job” which is to be expected. But it’s so confusing. It’s like being asked to pick your favourite pot of jam. Where all the jams are the same flavour and brand.

Especially as I notice a distinct sweeping resemblance. They all look the same. Perhaps they are. Maybe they are all the same person Surprised smileSo I’ll put the challenge out there.

Dear Messrs BALL, PITHIE and PLASKETT.

I, Stegzy Gnomepants, challenge you to come to my house and tell me why I should vote for you.

I won’t tell you where I live. You must prove your policing skills by using detective work to find me. If you find me and tell me why you’re the person I should vote for you’ll get my vote. And a photo opportunity.

Lots of love

Gnomepants

I’m not holding my breath. My challenge failed in Barnsley. However all this insight into the candidates might be in vain. During research for this article I came across several items about voter apathy. Interestingly enough, one about apathy in Barnsley. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20301308]

I’ll let you know if anything happens.

 

 


1 – A person that commissions both Police and Crime? Who would commission crime? “Oh we need more burglaries in that area and we should have some more stabbings in that area….”

  2 – Granted, Mr Wright is doing an important job in Parliament now and no doubt his wrist is swollen due to the 3-4 letters he writes each day. But my point remains, he doesn’t seem to be doing much specifically for the Coventry and Warwickshire area. He’s too busy you see….writing letters about prisons and the cost of jam in police cells.


Press

NewspapersWell it looks like the press (Murdoch) is worried that the Lib Dems are gaining more support than the press (Murdoch) likes. Judging by yesterday’s newspaper headlines Nick Clegg is a Nazi paedophilic ex-priest with sadomasochistic tendencies who would bring naught but ruin.

Interestingly, last night’s leadership debate took place on….Murdoch TV. Sorry. I mean Sky.

Mr Murdoch believes, I have been taught, that he has the power to sway elections and tip the balance to his favour. This, it seems has been the case in previous elections in the UK. His support for Thatcher during her incumbency and Major during his 1992 election seemed to show that what his newspapers said was how the voting public voted. Indeed, in 1997 when The Sun switched sides to support the Labour party it is believed that Murdoch’s media empire’s influence saw to Blair winning that election. Indeed, it has been suggested that his support for Obama in his American owned press helped win Obama his election.

Murdoch Murdoch’s power does not stop at newspapers, FOX and SKY TV. Far from it. Murdoch controls ageing and failing social media giant MySpace something which he paid $580million for. Unfortunately, Murdoch is trapped in this mindset that as long as people consume something unquestioningly and uncritically, they desire something and it will never get tired . This belief, it seems, is why Murdoch was demanding to know why people weren’t using Myspace anymore without being aware of the transient nature of social networking and the and fickleness of internet users. Today’s Facebook could be tomorrows Myspace

[see Johnson, Bobbie (2010) “Turmoil at MySpace blamed on News Corporation” [On-line]

Available at: <http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/feb/14/myspace-news-corporation-owen-van-natta>]

Watching TV-2 So use caution when you consume media. Especially in during the current circus that is the lead up to the election. Don’t take one viewpoint, indeed even my viewpoint for that matter, as concrete. Look around. See what the other media outlets are saying and consider who controls those outlets. Notice the tricks they play like using surveys to back up what they say – were you questioned? Did you take part? Are you in the minority? Notice how they build people up then discredit them somehow when opinion doesn’t go the way they would prefer.

I know some will say “Oh I don’t pay any attention to media” but I’ll argue that you do. Maybe not directly but the people you interact with may have. I know some will say “I don’t get involved in stuff like elections or media because no matter what I believe it won’t make a jot of difference. Well maybe. But think about how like shoals of fish all move in one direction but soon as the predator appears they scatter causing chaos and disturbance in their formation.
The other danger is that Murdoch strongly believes that users should pay for the content on the internet. Now while I like the idea of charging you lot 50p to view my diatribe I am an advocate of freedom of media. But then I am also an advocate of philanthropy, something which Mr Murdoch doesn’t seem to believe in either.

gallery12_470x352

The gallery where producers live

One thing I noticed, as a Television and Media graduate was how those in the production and direction department used dirty tricks to try and smother the Clegg message. Frequent cut-aways from Clegg when he spoke; the positioning of Clegg in the middle; etc. All pointing to the wrinkled digit of Murdoch. A dangerous man in fear of his public not following his lead.

polpot1

Pot Noodle

When one man controls the media, the media becomes his voice. When only one voice is heard; there may as well be nought silence. Indeed, when I posted this yesterday on my LJ a number of commenters drew parallels with Murdoch and Italy’s Berlesconi. Both control the media to their own end but I fear the greatest danger is not a man who controls the media and sits as the head of state but a man who pulls the strings from the sidelines. Unseen. Unelected. With dangerous ideals and a belief that the public are there to be shepherded.


>Law for beginners – Lesson 1: The Legal Aid System

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In the UK, if you are accused of financial wrong doing or fraud (and I think for that matter any criminal matter) and the case goes to court, all of your assets – your house, your bank accounts, your dealings etc are seized by the Crown.

If you have no assets you are, by right, assigned legal representation by the Crown funded by a system known as Legal Aid.

Legal tender in some parts of the UK This is regardless of whether you have a billion quid in property and shares or 50p and a packet of cigarette papers.

It is a right afforded to all ever since the Legal Aid and Advice Act of 1949.

If you lose your case, your assets become Crown property and the proceeds of your assets go towards paying your legal costs and any fine or financial penalty you receive.

If you win your case, the prosecuting body – ie the Crown Prosecution Service (or in the case of civil matters – the Plaintiff) pay the court costs.

A legal lemonade The only type of law where legal aid is not afforded to the accused is in cases of defamation or libel.

Such it is, such it has been. Hopefully, in case I get wrongly accused of financial wrongdoing at some point in my life, it will remain that way.

Now. It has come to my attention that a number of MPs have been accused of financial wrong doing in a matter that is going to court at present.

Spot the difference It seems on the back of this,  there is currently a really terrible case of “bad journalism” going on. Twatter is alight with people saying “Onoes! This is disgusting! People like that should pay themselves” without a regard for how the legal aid system actually works and I’m certain that the low quality press and their columnists will be making similar noises. Worse, the leader of the Conservative party seems oblivious to this point and I’m sure if it was he who was being prosecuted with no funds for him to obtain legal council, he would be the first to cry “Oh no! Woe is me!”

Remember, law is there to protect you. The legal system in the UK, while often flawed and misapplied, is there to protect the key facet in all of British sovereign law. Something which the powers that be seem really keen to remove, something which the media would like to see removed. That facet is in the United Kingdom – you are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.

These crisps might be stolen So even if you see Billy Blogs pinching a bag of crisps from the off licence and your convinced he stole the crisps, unless a court of law, presided over by a judge and jury or magistrate, finds Billy Blogs guilty he is innocent. Regardless of what you say.

This is something which people, often fuelled by media and moral panic, forget. They also forget that the easiest way to remove ancient rights and freedoms is to whip up such a fuss about a technicality so that ancient freedoms are swept away nought but the flourish of a pen. How many times have we, and I include myself in this, heard about people going to court and we say “They did it, they must have” when we know nothing about the situation behind the case or the evidence. This is often more the case when the death of a child is part of the matter.

Pointing at you We point fingers. The media guides our hands. Trials go to court and people do get locked away because of prejudicial matters.

Think Colin Stagg. Yeah I was one who went “He bloody must have done it” naively fuelled the media who also said “He bloody must have done it” and yep….he went down. Convicted by a jury. Then…he gets acquitted. Absolved of all wrong. How foolish I felt when I found out that actually, no…he hadn’t done it.

So to bring our legal lesson back onto track – two points

  • in the UK you are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law

AND

  • if you have no assets, either because they have been seized by the Crown as a bond (including your duck house) just in case you do a runner or because you genuinely do only have 50p (and a packet of green Rizlas) to your name – You are afforded, as is your right, to legal counsel funded by the Legal Aid system.

Such is the law in the UK. Daft it may be. But think…if it was you…and you were innocent….and you had no money…because your government had seized it all…or maybe you only had 50p and a packet of green Rizlas. Wouldn’t you be a teeny bit…well…miffed if you were not allowed someone to give you legal guidance on the matter at hand purely because you had no means to pay for it?

I know I would.

So bear that in mind as you cast your stones and eggs and laugh and point at the ignorant fools, who are having their basic rights wilfully eroded away because they didn’t know they actually had them in the first place…