NOW is the time for a protest vote

I know several people who voted for the first time last June, in the Brexit referendum, their intention being to send a message they'd had enough. Enough of what I found it difficult to pin down both then and now; not one of them will admit to racist tendencies, well aside from the pensioner my wife encountered outside the polling station: 'Finally, a chance to get rid of the darkies,' she said. My wife said nothing. What a wasted opportunity, on any level.

A conventional protest vote has a target, and last year's was no exception. A conventional election though has an opportunity to change the effects the next time around, by ousting the subsequently-unpopular people who raised the subsequently-unpopular policies. In any event the 2 terms of each government repeats, in general, 2 terms later. But nothing changes apart from the cuts and the discontentment.

The upcoming General Election provides the best opportunity to change UK politics and thus the direction the country takes for the better, for the long term. Conventional wisdom and the tactical voting spreadsheet doing the rounds online dictate that a Labour vote in all-but secure Liberal Democrat areas is the only way to rid ourselves of the troublesome Tories.

No.

Voting Liberal Democrat across the board would elect Liberal Democrats who would implement Liberal Democrat policies. It really is that simple. Why is this concept so opposite from ingrained, monotonous behaviour?

The party's devastating loss of face after the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition was a predictable consequence of the larger party's ability to dictate terms, to insist on, for instance, the humiliating climb-down on increasing student tuition fees. Ask people to name one issue that would preclude voting for each party and this would be the most popular in the casual observers' response to the LibDems. Given the choice between, for example, raising the minimum tax threshold with the benefit of taking the nation's lowest-paid entirely out of tax, or raising those university fees, the choice was plain. I can't begin to feel the sense of loss most Liberal Democrat politicians must have felt; the inability to explain why the choice had to be made. Appeasement.

So what do the Liberal Democrats actually represent, whose lives will be made better were they to be elected?

The easy bit first, making lives better: how's about me, how's about my family, everyone I know? It's a party that aims to not intrude into people's lives or business decisions, and to encourage freedom and tolerance. Not in the manner of the Conservatives' 'Big Society' project (removing funding and support), not by any means.

The hard differentiating bit, the biggest in-the-news-today bit: Brexit. In common with the other smaller parties not called UKIP they're opposed to disturbing the common notion that to derail Brexit would subvert the whole Democratic (big D for definition) process.

People who voted for Brexit don't, in the main, realise that shouting down those who 'lost', calling them 'losers' and demanding they stop moaning is not democracy in action, it's paving the way towards a bleak future. It's a future in which everyone agrees there'll be disadvantage for some in the UK. As long as it's not themselves, but the reality is nobody knows how this'll all play out.

This brings me on to an interesting point. Interesting to me, so I'm writing about it. Someone I've know for a long time, who won't tell me how they voted last June, has definite ideas on how Brexit will play out. It involves showing our current partners that we can indeed be great again, have lots of things that we can sell that the rest of the non-European world wants, we don't need Europe at all, and finally that we should cut our ties just to see the looks on their faces. Really, that's it. The futility of discussing it at all is evident in 2 areas:

  1. As a 'loser' any argument I make is automatically diminished, even dismissed, simply because I lost. Unless we're discussing Turkey's 51%/49% vote margin, to turn their premier into a de-facto dictator for maybe the next 12 years. That's not democracy is it!
  2. Any point I raise in response to a politician's obvious lie or inability to effectively communicate is deemed "just your opinion." Yeah.

I can imagine what it'll be like when the to-be-elected politicians decide to impose more cuts, real austerity measures; the inevitable tax rises and service cuts won't be popular. But I'm rambling again…

The Liberal Democrats are, to me, the obvious choice. Everyone who votes Liberal Democrat is making a choice to move away from the bit of the status quo we have direct control over: a move away from the Conservative Party, a move away from the once Conservative-lite now ostensibly Marxist-lite but still Parliamentary Conservative-lite Labour Party.

So go on then, why, specifically the LibDems?

I read the document linked to in one of my previous blog posts, the document itself is the Preamble to the Liberal Democrat Constitution. My blog post, though almost inconsequential, at least provides some sense of my interest. The document is not, you will note, a Manifesto. I'm not linking to that. Why? Rhetorical question: When was the last time all of a Manifesto's promises were implemented?

How long have we got to restore sanity to the UK? 6/7 weeks.

Four Roses review part 6

Drunk neat after Nice'n'Spicy NikNaks, it's indescribable.

Also, Ruby dog is no longer fazed by me swinging my bits about, barely-contained within a dark grey dressing gown, whilst shouting "sniff my cheeeese!"

To be concluded…

Birthday customs

I had a birthday recently. Nothing special, aside from to those colleagues who remembered my 'special day' and who didn't receive the cakes and biscuits it's customary to provide.

So, a few weeks on, and after occasional good-natured banter designed to motivate me, I finally left a few packs of cakes and a box of biscuits in the office kitchen. Well-received it all was too.

Speaking of late birthday surprises, Theresa May called a UK General Election for June 8th 2017..

Yeah, of course I fear the worst.

Easter Egg 2

I was wrong. The 139th White House Easter Egg Roll event went ahead with the Trumps in attendance. I guess I'm simply not in tune with a lifestyle which allows separate taxpayer-funded flights for the President and the First Lady, from Washington DC and New York City, to Florida for a couple of days. And then back again.

Some people will point at this one event, ignore the history and the numbers, and assume the world is returning to normal. Hey, the First Lady might have organised and supervised the planning of the Egg Roll.

Others will watch the following video and groan:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39622126

Or read this article and groan:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/04/17/trump-jokes-with-easter-egg-roll-attendees-throws-make-america-great-again-hat-back-into-crowd/

You know, I am enjoying reading stuff from The Washington Post. It makes a nice change from, er…

Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny visited, distributed cunningly-hidden chocolate eggs throughout the Turner residence and left, but not before disposing of the Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt pack cardboard in our card and paper recycling box.

How very responsible; how very practical given what I'd imagine would be the total worldwide visit packaging impact on the Easter Bunny's home recycling regime and the local authority's complaints on bin emptying day.

How very odd it felt explaining this to the nearly 10-year-old daughter who found the card despite someone's* lackadaisical efforts to 'bury' it the night before.


*Nameless twerp.

51-49

With 99% of the votes counted and the totals being 51.4% for, 48.6% against, the Turks elected to become a dictatorship.

Like other recent close tallies, I've the feeling this won't end well for the average citizen's belief of what democracy is.

Four Roses review part 5

Drunk neat is best.

To be concluded…

Easter egg

The Trumps flew to Florida on Friday, in separate jets. It's looking as though they'll miss the annual Easter Egg Roll, a 138-year-old tradition, will be somewhat curtailed in scope. A shame.

From the second article:

"Since 1878, the Easter Egg Roll has always been coordinated by the first lady. Seeing as how Mrs. Trump not only lives 200 miles away from the White House, but has yet to bother putting together an official staff, this year’s event, like Trump’s numbers in the popular vote, is expected to underperform bigly."

(The writer's emphasis.)

Is anyone taking bets it'll be recorded as the most successful event ever? Forget tradition, tradition is not for those looking to the future! Forget history, history is tor those who would read books. Books, books are for…

No.

I had intended to write about the passing at 117 of the world's oldest person, Emma Morano, but my attention spa…

Yeah. It's very unlikely there's anyone else alive born in the 1800s, the nineteenth century, the end of the Victorian era. Imagine the social, the technological change she'll have seen living through the entire 20th century. I simply cannot imagine the personal losses she'll have endured; every family member…

I'm having a profound moment here, not an epiphany as there's something quite logical about the effect of extreme age on statistics. No, mine is a sense of missing something.

There's a scene in one of the Lord of the Rings movies which brought to life something I'd never really considered in depth. The specific scene, though powerful, is unimportant here; what is is something seen in old, grand churches: statues side-by-side above stone tombs, once lovers, creators of life, holders of shared dreams, together forever in stone, mourned by fewer and fewer and then none as the passage of time takes those who once knew…

Yeah, sure it's a privileged few afforded such a luxury in death. The common man gets nothing likely to last even tens of years. The despots, the landowners, the moneyed classes of our history: immortalised.

Will the Trump era be looked back on with anything approaching warmth, a sense of a shared timespan, a belief of having achieved something?

Can I place a bet?


Incidentally, I have a bragging-rights-only wager with @texrat (Twitter), that the White House Press Secretary will last only until late August 2017. Randall thought he'd be gone roughly by the end of March. Not roughly, I think I mean approximately. Perhaps; I'm still suffused by Schadenfreude.

Four Roses review part 4

This time the experiment continues with sufficient ice cubes prepared to sink an ocea, er…

Drunk this time with a single, melted, ice cube. Precisely this one, well this half:

an ice cube floating in Four Roses whiskey

Verdict: hmmm… Clean, crisp, with an odd taste just before it starts to tingle my gums, and then it's back to…

It smells underwhelming still after the Maker's Mark, but I'm happy with the trade-off; it's still a warming, drinkable drink.

My view, 'Buffalo Trace' is a more rounded experience. Once this is done I'll of course try the 'Woodford Reserve' then the 'Bulleit' but thus far the shaggy quadruped gets my vote. A shame, I paid quite a bit more for this Four Roses than I expected I would when all this began. Not a complaint, far from it.

Nevertheless, to be continued…


Links:

Washington Post

I subscribed to the online editions of The Washington Post. Yes it's a US news company! At USD$19 for an entire year it was an easy decision. I live in the UK but haven't yet done the same for any other UK news organisation, apart from giving a few pounds to The Guardian (paywall-free.) Incidentally, both 'newspapers' are running very similar headlines today, very encouraging.

Yeah, sure I pay an annual Licence Fee to the BBC and read their news, watch their telly, but the reporting is often infuriatingly bland and airs weeks past the time I've already seen it elsewhere.

Where was I? Yes, one of the reasons I subscribed to the Washington Post was reporter David Fahrenthold's tenacious examination of Donald Trump's assertions that the President-to-be gave away millions to charity. What is certain is the majority of charitable donations were falsely recorded and that the work won Mr Fahrenthold a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. And the reporting of his humanity, non-superhero ordinariness, in connection with that glitter gun.

I'm conscious of drawing from perhaps a greater breadth of sources than most other people when formulating my position on often complex ideas. And often simple ideas. Last year I asked around and gratefully received suggestions for people and media companies from which I could draw a wide range of opinions. With hindsight I bit off more than I could comfortably chew and had to step away from the process.

I can't say I'm much wiser now but the perspectives I've gained have led me to a more balanced approach than you'd know by reading some of last year's blog posts, e.g. 'Regrexit' and 'Chainsaws'.

In public at least.

The Washington Post subscription includes (from the welcome email):

  • Unlimited access to washingtonpost.com from any device.
  • Unlimited access to our entire suite of mobile apps for iOS, Android and Fire Tablet.
  • The Optimist, a weekly email newsletter highlighting positive stories.
  • Post Most, a weekday email newsletter with a rundown of popular stories.
  • Shared digital access for an additional user.

(My emphasis above.)

Do they have any idea how inappropriate 'Optimist' will be for me‽

Joking aside I remember Martyn Lewis, a national UK news anchor saying he wanted to insert one 'feel-good' story into every bulletin. His rationale being that there's too much depressing news. At the time I agreed; now though it's entirely the wrong message to send to ordinary people. Given the magnitude of the worldwide change we're living through, I believe it's important to focus on the bad stuff.

There's one big problem with my current reasoning: if you make reporting so detailed that people don't want to watch they'll go to where the grass is greener, airbrushed, astroturfed… Yeah. Fairness, balance.

And finally, here's a link to a web page with a photo of a squirrel with big nuts:


For the avoidance of doubt as to my motives here at the end, Fark.com is my all-time favourite news-related site; the comment pages there are awesome. Awesome in a mainly US-centric, rounded but occasionally very unbalanced, good way. I pay them to remove ads.

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