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A great success story?

September 30th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

Remember this story back in May? William Hague was visiting L-3 in Crawley with Henry Smith MP and Howard Bloom, leader of Crawley council.

At the time Henry said that L-3 was “a great success story for Crawley industry and a great success story in terms of employment and exports as well”. What was not reported at that time, no doubt because the Tory editor of the paper didn’t want to embarrass his Tory friends, was that the company employing about 300 people in the town had just announced that it was making about 100 of them redundant, so not such a great success story for employment after all.

The process of consultation, selecting candidates for redundancy and working out notice periods takes some time and today was the last day at work for many of those 100. Of course, Howard Bloom lost his job as leader of Crawley council a bit sooner than that, despite the best efforts of the media to hide bad news, and only continues as a councillor because he made the chicken run to a safer seat.

With any luck the curse of L-3 will strike again in seven months and Henry Smith will lose his job as an MP and William Hague will lose his job as a government minister.

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Ouch

September 7th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Life

The Crawley News has a story about a man having to be cut out of a wheelie bin, which really gives you nothing about the incident except that “it is unclear why he was in the bin”, but the article starts spectacularly. It says:

THE life of a firefighter is never dull. At the weekend we told how firefighters had been called to East Surrey Hospital to help a man who had a ring stuck on his penis – which had to be cut off with a hacksaw.

I can’t help thinking they could have worded that a bit better.

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Can’t stand me now

September 5th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

The required number of Southgate voters have called for an election and so there will be a byelection on October 9th. Which is a shame. Southgate was the first place in Crawley where I lived, and where I usually find myself on election days doing knocking up so I might have fancied putting my name forward for the selection but the timing is just plain wrong because I’ll be away on holiday for two of the four weeks of the campaign.

Good luck to whoever we select, I just hope it is someone good to keep Raj company.

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If I could live anywhere

September 3rd, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Life

If I could live anywhere, I think I would like to live on whatever planet they use to film the many TV adverts for bathroom supplies. Actually, there may only be two companies advertising bathrooms on TV, and they may only have one advert each, but they are shown so often that it feels like a lot more. Also they seem to be just about the only adverts Sky News shows that aren’t charity appeals or ads for ambulance-chasing lawyers.

Anyway, I think I would like to live there, because there must be so much space. All the bathrooms are the size of a squash court, so imagine how big the other rooms must be.

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Computers do it faster…

September 3rd, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Technology

…but people do it better!

I was quite amused to see the BBC news at lunchtime. At work we have it on screens in the lobby, with the sub-titles on. The sub-titles are, I am pretty sure generated by some computer speech recognition software, and it was having some trouble with David Cameron at PMQs.

As I was walking past, the sub-titles said something like “jewel gnasher…. joule nationality”

To be fair though, that is about as much sense as he usually makes at PMQs.

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Another one bites the dust

September 1st, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

It appears that Crawley is now a UKIP-free zone, as our only UKIP councillor resigned on Friday.

To be honest, it doesn’t sound like it will make a big difference as he was rarely spotted in the town hall. I suppose he should be congratulated on doing the right thing, eventually. Having spent several years doing nothing he could easily have continued to get paid for doing nothing until next May. A pity he did not take the opportunity to stand down a few months earlier then we could have elected a replacement during the regular elections.

Had to laugh a bit at his quote:

Southgate deserves a councillor who can commit a large percentage of their time to the town, and I am no longer in a position to do that.
That is something that everybody else knew ages ago. Did it really only just register with him?

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The circus comes to Clacton

August 28th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

Today’s ‘shock’ announcement of a Tory MP defecting to UKIP has been a bit of fun for all the non-Tories, but not entirely a shock in some respects. OK, so it wasn’t expected or even hinted at, but once you saw the headline, the identity of the MP in question was far from a shock. What really was a shock was the idea that he would stand down as an MP and the fact that the whole thing was a surprise, with no leaks, not even to the PM.

When the police can’t raid an ageing pop star’s home without the media getting tipped off and surrounding the place with photographers, it is quite an achievement for a political party to hold a press conference without the press knowing in advance what was being announced, even if UKIP did have to hint at something different in order to get them interested.

As for standing down as an MP, that is very interesting. Whenever somebody defects, whether an MP or a councillor, there are always calls for them to stand down, which always annoys me slightly. I don’t disagree that they ought to stand down, but I get frustrated that those yelling for it because ‘people voted for a xxx party candidate’ would often be the last to agree to changing the system so that we do actually vote for a party rather than a person. You can’t have it both ways.

Had Carswell not stood down then I imagine the Tories would have been very quick to say that he should do, so its quite amusing that, in anticipating this he has effectively called their bluff before they even made it, and left them in a right state. A real case of be careful what you wish for.

But if it is refreshing to see somebody prepared to actually resign and stand again under their new colours, even though it would have been easy to say that we are only 8 months away from an election anyway so let’s avoid the unnecessary expense of a byelection, I did think at the time that it was a bit presumptuous and arrogant to automatically assume that the new party would select him. What I didn’t know at the time was that UKIP already had a candidate, announded last month, even if they are now trying to pretend that they don’t.

I guess this is where the fun starts, as we find that Cardwell has simultaneously managed to stir up internal divisions within both the Tories and UKIP.

I try to imagine what would happen if Henry Smith suddenly announced that he was defecting to Labour. I can’t imagine any circumstance where Crawley Labour party would decide to ditch our current candidate for him, even if we liked Henry. Which we don’t.

What UKIP are saying now is that their NEC has approved Carswell and so the local party should go along with it. For all their talk of ‘cleaning up Westminster’ and ‘democratic reforms’ they are being very, very undemocratic if they force a selected candidate out  and parachute somebody else in against the local party’s wishes. All very enlightening because they are not just showing themselves to be as bad as the other parties, but far worse. Fortunately they will never hold power, but can you imagine what they would be like if they did?

Farage says that Carswell’s decision is the ‘bravest and most honorouble’ he has seen in British politics. Well the standing down bit could be, but the announcement that he would be the new candidate, without telling, let alone consulting, the local party and possibly even the current candidate is certainly one of the rudest and most arrogant announcements in British politics. And they wonder why they just can’t shake that nasty party image…

I don’t know what will happen in the election. Obviously the best result would be for Labour to win, but there would be a lot of justice if Roger Lord stood as an independent and came second.

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Not such grand designs

August 17th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Life

On the way home from having lunch in town on Friday we popped into B&Q for a new toilet seat and came out with more than we expected because they were getting rid of some firesat ridiculous prices. I think it was old stock of a discontinued product line.

When we got home I decided to break the habit of a lifetime and actually get round to doing a bit of DIY straight away instead of letting it wait around a bit. [Read more →]

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Overthinking the Hunger Games

August 13th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Over the weekend I finally got round to watching the two Hunger Games films. I should have enjoyed them more, and if only I had remembered to do what I was told to at school I probably would have done.

All the way through the films I kept wondering how on Earth actors of the stature and quality of Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stanley Tucci, Jeffrey Wright and Woody Harrelson could be involved in something so poor. That is not to say that I found them totally unwatchable: Jennifer Lawrence’s performance alone made it worth seeing, even if there is no way she can pass as between 12 and 18.

The thing is I forgot the golden rule of appreciating science fiction (well arguably any fiction, but especially science fiction) – willing suspension of disbelief. It was almost a mantra of my old English and film studies teacher and I forgot to do it, so I was in the wrong frame of mind completely.

What you are supposed to do is accept the starting premise that there was some sort of rebellion and that the government instituted these hunger games and proceed from there. Accept that all as a given and then it is all about how people would react in those circumstances. Instead of that I could not get over just how unlikely the whole thing was.

Admittedly, even if I had done that I would still have had other problems with the whole setup. The idea of an insulated elite of the idle rich, living in luxury while the masses struggle and starve is a common enough concept. The problem is that the pampered elite seemed to outnumber the masses enormously. The districts seemed to be able to gather all their children into a small town square for the reaping, implying a population of not more than a few thousand, while arenas in the capital were packed out with tens of thousands of people.

But I would have found that easier to ignore if not for the doubts over the whole premise of the story. There is also the small matter that the whole idea of the hunger games seemed like an inferior copy of Battle Royale, which is still one of my favourite films, which is why I put off watching for so long.

I’ll try to approach the third and fourth films with a more open mind, when I inevitably watch them.

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My favourite Robin Williams line

August 12th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Life, Politics

One reason why I like comedy is the way that a comedian can often manage to sum up a whole social issue in a one-liner that makes its point better than a politician could in an entire speech, and still make you laugh  When politicians try humour it is cringeworthy at best, but when comedians try politics it is often a lighbulb moment.

Which brings me to my favourite Robin Williams line, one which I have repeated many times, and although it comes from an old VHS I had in the late 80′s or early 90′s it is still depressingly relevent today.

When your company is paying you minimum wage it is just their way of telling you that they would pay you less if they were allowed to.

Of course, back then we didn’t have a minimum wage here, but we still got the joke and the implications of it.

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