One of my photos

A strange new feeling

June 5th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

This is unusual. It is our constituency meeting tomorrow and I am actually looking forward to it, even though it is an AGM.

Even more remarkable, this is not just because it is our first meeting since the local election victories, but because there is a proposal to change the structure of the party and the meetings to something which, in my opinion, will make both more effective in the future.

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Voting selfies

June 2nd, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

A sign at the Furnace Green polling station

A sign at the Furnace Green polling station
(Photo by Georgie R on Flickr)

This is where I eat my own words a little bit, even though I didn’t actually say them aloud at the time.

Just before the elections there was an article on the BBC website about voters being told not to take selfies while voting.

At the time I thought this was all a bit officious. In theory you could take a picture which could inadvertantly reveal how somebody else voted if your camera was good enough and you could zoom in enough, but its a bit unlikely. My thinking was that it is your right to disclose how you voted, and after all most electoral canvassing is based on people telling you at the doorstep how they vote.

Today I suddenly realised that there is actually a potentially justifiable reason to ban photography of your own ballot paper, even if you fill out a postal one at home. [Read more →]

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Don’t tell UKIP but…

May 29th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Life

…the Swedes and their Nordic friends seem to be taking over.

First of all, there are all those TV shows (that I haven’t actually seen) like The Bridge and Wallander, then there are all those crime novels (that I haven’t actually read) by Steig Larsson and Jo Nesbø and the filmmakers like Lars Von Trier (whose films I have actually seen).

I mention this because I have just finished another Swedish novel, the second in a month. This time is is The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson. This is very much in the mould of his first book (The HundredYear-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared) in that it spans quite a long time, features a central character who encounters various political figures, and some severely understated satire.

Yes it does also rely on coincidence quite a lot, and the main character is too good to be true, but it is an engaging read. Many of the events and characters could just as easily have been in a Tom Sharpe or Carl Hiaasen book and the whole thing is basically a farce, but written in such a straight-faced way that you keep forgetting just how ridiculous it all is.

For me personally there was also the little thrill of seeing places like Solna and Upplands Väsby mentioned in passing, bringing back pleasant memories of time spent there in the 1990s during working visits.

All I can say is that if you enjoyed the 100-year-old man book but are worried that a book about a Soweto girl will be too different, don’t be. I can guarantee that you will enjoy this one too.


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A Man Called Ove

May 27th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Cover art for A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

Cover art for A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

I recently read a book with the slightly underwhelming title of A Man Called Ove by a new author, Fredrick Backman which is by a long way the best book I have read so far this year, and with hindsight the title is exactly right.

It is out in hardback (and probably e-book format) in July, just in time for the holiday readers but I was fortunate enough to get an advance proof copy of it through Amazon’s Vine programme. [Read more →]

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Citation needed

May 26th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Life, Music

I have just been looking at the Wikipedia page for The Wombles (specifically the band rather than the books or TV shows) for no particular reason. I already knew that Chris Spedding was in the band so that was no great revelation, but several other things were news to me. Unfortunately some of the best bits have no citations so may well be about as accurate as the Bob Holness/Baker Street urban myth.

Anyway, these ‘facts’ stood out for me:

  • Some of the drumming was done by the mighty Ray Cooper
  • In 1974 the Wombles had albums in the UK charts for more weeks than anybody else
  • On one TOTP appearance the Womble costumes were filled by members of Steeleye Span

Best of all is that Wellington Womble had a solo single in 1976.


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Caption competition

May 25th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

Photo from the Crawley News

Photo from the Crawley News

Not sure exactly why the Crawley News chose to illustrate a story about a Tory councillor sending a tweet with a picture of him being meerkatted, but surely it is crying out for a better caption than “CONCEDING DEFEAT: Duncan Crow”

Any suggestions?

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The morning after the day before

May 24th, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

A family of geese in Broadfield park

A family of geese in Broadfield park

Today was the local election count in Crawley. Finally all that walking up and down knocking on doors and delivering leaflets was over, and to avoid withdrawal symptoms I found myself doing a lot more walking.

I had a feeling it would be a good day. It was Friday and there was a long bank holiday weekend ahead, which is always good. On top of that, I got paid early because of the bank holiday.

I took a bus up to Broadfield Barton and had a bit of a fry-up in the cafe there. When my 2 eggs, 2 sausage, 2 bacon, tomato and toast turned up I saw that one of the eggs was a double-yolker. This really was shaping up to be a good day.

Aftter breakfast I burned off a few of the calories by walking down to K2 via Broadfield park, where I had enough time to sit on the bench by the lake for a while, looking at the Times crossword. A family of geese came out to say hello and everything was well.

From there it was over to the count which took, as it always does, forever. From the Labour perpective it could not have gone better. We held on to all the seats we were defending and gained all four of our target seats. We only needed to win three of them to get control of the council, so getting all four was a real boost.

Labour's four newest councillors: John Stanley (Ifield), Karen Sudan (West Green), Raj Sharma (Southgate) and Tim Lunnon (Broadfield South)

Labour’s four newest councillors: John Stanley (Ifield), Karen Sudan (West Green), Raj Sharma (Southgate) and Tim Lunnon (Broadfield South)

The implications of this are huge. Most immediately it means Peter Lamb is now one of the youngest council leaders in the country with a big job to do. It also bodes well for Chris Oxlade’s chances next year.

As far as the council is concerned the significance is that we now have all the seats in Broadfield, West Green and Ifield, which were previously split wards. We now have to concentrate on getting the other two Southgate seats back over the next two years which are held by the only UKIP councillor and one of the less likeable Tories.

At the count the UKIP crowd were very bouyant and optimistic, until they realised they were not going to win anything and all disappeared. The TV news crews and press were all there because of the real chance of the council changing hands, and the Labour people were optimistic but not daring to show it.

Of course, the real reason I went along this year was to see a little bit of payback after all the years of cockiness from the Tories, and it was rather fun to see Henry Smith trying to put a brave face on it. The Tories were trying to be pleased about winning in Pound Hill, Maidenbower and Furnace Green, which is what everybody (except UKIP) expected anyway.

Once the result was assured, I slipped off before the announcements and speeches. Another Fastway back home so I could get changed and head out for yet another long walk, taking the dogs up to Tilgate forest.

A real day to remember. For years to come I shall bore the children and grandchildren by re-telling the story of how I got a double-yolker in the cafe at Broadfield. They won’t be interested in the politics, but fried eggs they can appreciate.

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May 22nd, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

Polling day tomorrow, so that means no more delivering leaflets for a while, which is handy now that it has started tipping down outside. [Read more →]

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Why do the Tories have to do it?

May 21st, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

What is it with the Tories? They appear to be pathologically incapable of resisting the urge to lie, even when they don’t need to. [Read more →]

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Ready for the count

May 21st, 2014 · Posted by Skuds in Life, Politics

I received my letter today, the one that gets me into the local elections count on Friday, so it must be time for my traditional pre-election rant about that…

Why can’t they just let anybody in? If anybody is really interested and engaged enough to want to go to the count and see democracy in action why not just let them in until the fire safety limits are reached?

In large parts of the town we struggle to get 20% of the electorate to even vote, so the chances of K2 getting mobbed are very slim indeed. By all means rope off a bit for the people doing the actual counting to operate, and rope off a bit round that for the official party scrutinisers to do their job, or just have a public gallery – the space is flexible enough for that – but why not go for full transparency?

Thats all I have to say on the matter until this time next year (or three weeks earlier) when I will almost certainly say the same thing yet again. Its a tradition or an old charter or something.

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