the brilliantly leaping gazelle

My election notes. E-Day + 12



I could write a post about the Chancellor Phillips Hammonds speech this morning at Mansion House, and what it might mean for Brexit negotiations.

Of course I could.

Or I could write about how German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she could back a eurozone finance minister and eurozone budget “if the circumstances are right”. Of how this might confirms the worst fears of those who voted to leave the EU as the start of a slippery slope towards a United States of Europe.

Of course I could.

Indeed, I could write a post about how Barclays and four former executives have been charged with fraud over their actions in the 2008 financial crisis. About how they are the only senior staff at bank to have been charged in the UK on this. Indeed, I might draw unfavourable comparisons between this and the numbers of people convicted of benefit fraud since 2008.

Of course I could.

I could do all of those things. But I won’t.

Because part of my childhood died yesterday and I imagine people who were children in either the ‘60’s, ‘70’s or ‘80’s might’ve felt the same way upon hearing the sad news that Brian Cant died yesterday. Put simply he was the voice of my childhood, calm, playful and encouraging. Everything me as a child wanted in a voice and if it had to come out of a TV well, I was just glad it was there at all.

As the Guardian in it’s obituary of of him it noted,

 For two decades from 1964 there was scarcely a BBC show aimed at little children that didn’t come with Cant’s distinctive tones. It was his voice that weekly introduced us in the late 60s to the townsfolk of Camberwick Green (1966). And it was Cant who did the prosodically captivating roll call for the fire brigade in Camberwick Green’s sequel, Trumpton (1969): “Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grubb.”

He presented ‘Play School’ – I can still remember an episode that showed us through the round window how rubber gloves were made – and ‘Play Away’. Brilliant children’s shows’, never patronizing but always fun. He didn’t try to be your friend as much as he made me want to be his. His tone somehow conveyed a sense of here was someone you could trust, here was someone who was still in possession of a child-like imagination of invention and above all here was someone who was genuine. That, for me at any rate at least, is what made him so beloved.

Because when you’re a child you quickly learn to spot fakes; you don’t know why they are or even how you know but you just know. It’s both intuitive and quickly forgotten, something all children have, yet some forget when they become adults and become the people that they as children despised.

I mean, I don’t look back on my childhood with any great fondness so I’m just glad his voice was such a large part of my childhood.

And no, I’ve no idea what ‘prosodically’ means either.

My election notes. E-Day + 11

Today there was a minutes’ silence at 11am for the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and in a macabre twist of fate, at 11am in Brussels saw the beginning of talks regarding Britain’s exit from the EU. Or to be exact, talks about talks, as the processes that will govern the talks have yet to be agreed upon.

All of this whilst the clock is ticking. The deadline for the conclusion of these talks which is March 29th 2019, which is two years after Teresa May triggered Article 50.

One might be forgiven for thinking that possibly she might have been wiser to trigger Article 50 after the general election. There was no pressing need to, in fact there was every pressing need not to, to help Britain sort out it’s negotiation stance. The EU is in no hurry. They are like someone in a messy divorce who knows they’re going to keep the house and the car. They don’t care. They have nothing to lose – well nowhere near as much as we do – and can act accordingly. Two years is an incredibly short time to ensure the smooth and orderly transfer of powers back to the UK. Which brings me back to Grenfell Tower.


How exactly will all manner of regulations be challenged in the courts, I mean will the UK Supreme Court be the final court to appeal to once we leave Europe?

My election notes. E-Day + 10


The headline in today’s Daily Telegraph raises a lot more questions than it answers.

In fact, it answers none at all.

 Prosecutors are considering manslaughter charges after Grenfell Tower disaster, Keir Starmer reveals.

I mean anyone can consider anything. It remains to be seen if anything will result of this consideration. Because. As I wrote two years ago about the UKIP manifesto:

Anyone can aspire to anything. The great thing about an aspiration is that it doesn’t commit you to anything. An aspiration is another, more grown-up word for a wish. Just imagine saying to an excited child on their birthday, “Now take a deep breath and remember when you blow out the candles to make an aspiration.”

The same is true of consideration. Its vagueness is also its strength. It suggests possible action at some unspecified time.  We’ve all considered doing things. But how many of the things we consider actually happen and how many of them are like conversational tumbleweed?

My election notes. E-Day + 9



I went swimming on Thursday, well not swimming exactly, it was more hydrotherapy and more hydro than therapy at that. The theory was that lying on my back in the water and staying afloat by means of moving my arms on the surface of the water would in some way alleviate the pain in my left shoulder. That was the theory. Practical application of the theory proved otherwise, as my body communicated to me that I was causing it pain. That was on Thursday, and the pain hasn’t as yet fully abated. Hence the words you are reading have been typed by my glamorous assistant Julie, who is smiling as she types this!

One person who never seems to smile unless she’s looking at a horse is the Queen and  she visited the scene of the Grenfell Tower disaster and met some of those affected. As any reader of my previous posts will know, I am no great fan of the royal family. In fact, they are to democracy in the 21st century what the Pied Piper of Hamelin was to child safety. The tragedy at Grenfell Tower exposes many things wrong with our cost conscious society, but not least of which is the hypocrisy that underpins our society inasmuch as the need to be cost conscious only seems to affect one strata of society, the same one that bears the brunt of austerity, the same one that didn’t create the conditions that necessitated it.

In 1992, Windsor Castle was gutted by fire. This was seen at the time as a great tragedy – although no-one died – and immediately there was talk about restoring the castle to its former glory. There was almost as much unanimous support in parliament for this to be carried out at the taxpayer’s expense, as there wasn’t public debate.

As fire-magazine notes in its excellent account of it;

 Fires in such important and high profile buildings were not new: Hampton Court Palace was badly damaged by a fire on Easter Monday, 1986.

Following the Hampton Court Palace fire, a detailed survey of Windsor Castle was carried out by the Property Services Agency (PSA) which identified a works programme of £20 million to incorporate fire prevention measures including complete rewiring of the main Castle buildings, the fitting of automatic detection, installation of fire resisting doors, improved fire compartmentation, treatment of timber and separation between heating elements and combustible materials. Between the date of the report and the fire, responsibility the fire safety and royal residences was transferred from the PSA to the royal household, which employed its own consultants.

Before noting;

As a result of the fire, not only was Windsor Castle made safer but safety in a range of other heritage premises was improved. The interaction between listed buildings, heritage features and smoke alarms had been a concern for many years, with a general reluctance to utilise systems because of the intrusive nature of work such as drilling holes. This has undoubtedly spurred on the development of wireless smoke alarms which protect without causing collateral damage to the fabric of buildings.

Compare this to the tragedy that killed 6 people at Lakanal House in Southwark in 2009. There was a coroners inquest – of course there was – which made recommendations – of course it did – and one of these recommendations was ignored were ignored – of course it was. The coroner’s report into Lakanal House called for developers refurbishing high-rise blocks to be encouraged to install sprinkler systems. And guess what happened? With an almost predictable inevitability Lakanal House was refurbished and re-opened recently but no sprinkler system was installed. The leader of Southwark council was on ‘The World At One’ on Thursday trying to explain his reasons not to. (the interview with him starts at 37mins).

He points out that local councils have many competing demands on their funds and this is but one of them. He also points out that fires of this nature are more likely to happen in social housing as opposed to private. Quite why his comments haven’t received coverage and wider debate – especially given the media interest in this issue – is as bewildering as it is inexplicable.

How and why is it that some costs can be borne by the taxpayer, especially if they’re to a wealthy pensioner who not just works the system but is integral to it’s very perpetuation, yet other costs are somehow too expensive? Politics is about choices, and the catastrophe at Grenfell Tower neatly brings into focus how some choices can be afforded, whilst some can’t.

One more thing.

If the report in Wednesdays ‘Independent’ are true, that;

“Due to its height the tower is visible from the adjacent Avondale Conservation Area to the south and the Ladbroke Conservation Area to the east,” a planning document for the regeneration work reads. “The changes to the existing tower will improve its appearance especially when viewed from the surrounding area.”

Then the blackened ruin that is Grenfell Tower once was a home to so many, should be left as it is, as a permanent reminder of what the inherent unfairness in a capitalist society can lead to.

My election notes. E-Day + 8



Happy days are here again.


Mind you, nowhere near as much as others are going through. Mine will pass.



My election notes. E-Day + 6



The news that the Supreme Court had rejected an appeal by a mother and daughter in their legal battle for women from Northern Ireland to receive free abortions on the NHS in England is deeply troubling. Because not only highlights the discrepancy between the health choices available to women in various parts of Britain, not only does it send out the message that women’s bodies are only their own if they can afford to have them so, not only does it impose religious ‘beliefs’ on those that may have none and not only indicate that the power and the reach of the state negates any notion of the personal. That’s troubling enough for any libertarian.

But more troubling is the fact that the Conservative party considers the D.U.P a suitable coalition partner is indicative of the priorities of the Conservative party. Thinking about The Conservatives need to be in power no matter the cost, makes me think of Denis Leary’s joke about cocaine, of how all other matters become subservient in pursuit of it;

That was the worst part about the coke, man, was being in that bathroom with that stranger at the end of the night. Wasn’t it, huh? Talking about shit like solving the world’s problems and the only reason you’re in there is because he has the coke. That should have been a fucking sign, don’t ya think? I mean if Hitler had coke, there’d be Jews in the bathroom going, “I know you didn’t do it. (snort) I like your mustache. (snort) Fucking Himmler. (snort)”

Because I found this on the D.U.P website;

Public debate has focused on the needs of women who are pregnant with a child diagnosed with a severe life limiting condition. The DUP believes that women who find themselves in these most difficult of situations need the best medical and emotional support. The DUP is committed to establishing a perinatal hospice care service or facility in Northern Ireland.

Which sounds fair enough right? I mean who’s going to argue against the proposition that women who find themselves in these most difficult of situations need the best medical and emotional support.’ No-one right? It is one horror I thankfully will never have to undergo, that of giving birth to a baby with no chance of life. But whereas theoretically ‘perinatal hospice service’ is a choice for the parents, whether or not to continue with a pregnancy that isn’t viable outside of the womb, one that respects the right of the parents to choose, in Northern Ireland the state has decided that all babies should be born, regardless of viability. How is it possible that In the 2nd decade of 21st Century this is allowed to happen? Are we living in the Dark Ages? Because this isn’t an archaic legal throwback to a time best forgotten that has somehow yet to be repealed.

Oh no. A proposal to legalise abortion in cases of fatal fetal abnormality was defeated in the Northern Ireland Assembly in February by 59 votes to 40. Even worse, an amendment relating to pregnancies which are the result of rape or incest was defeated by an even wider margin.

Not as wide a margin as the one between the D.U.P and the 21st Century!

My election notes. E-Day + 6



Yesterday Parliament reconvened, and parliamentarians on all sides were at pains to demonstrate how important it was that there were more women MP’s there now were. And whilst it is A VERY GOOD THING INDEED that our elected representatives are more representative of the population they serve, with 32% of them being women, I do have a couple of issues with it.

Just because an MP happens to be a woman, is that a good thing. I’m not being misogynistic here, but why on earth should an MP’s gender matter? Shouldn’t their values, or principles or convictions matter more than what’s between their legs?

What seems of more importance to me is the both the social background and ethnic diversity of all the MP’s we’ve returned to Westminster. I mean, if a majority of those women went to public school and then to Oxbridge, is that really such a good thing? If the majority of them are white and heterosexual does that reflect 21st Century Britain? How many of them are disabled?

The figures for this parliament, are, bizarrely, not yet publicly available. I write bizarre because in this internet age, when information is meant to be freely and readily available, this information should be available on the respective political parties own websites, pretty much after ebbing elected, if not before it. After all, they are in theory meant to represent us. However according to a report cited by the BBC in

 Almost a third (32%) of MPs in the new House of Commons went to private school, according to an analysis by an education charity.

Of these, almost one in 10 went to Eton, suggests the Sutton Trust study.

Among Conservative MPs, nearly half (48%) were privately educated, the report indicates.

“If Parliament is truly to represent the whole nation, the best people should be able to become MPs, regardless of social background,” said Sutton Trust chief executive Dr Lee Elliot Major.

Only 7% of the UK population have a have a private education, yet those fortunate to have gone to Oxbridge make up a disproportionally large amount of our MP’s (2015 intake) and half of Cabinet posts (2015 intake). Indeed one’s chances of succeeding life increase dramatically if you had a private education. So who exactly are they representative of? Who have been instrumental in helping shape their political opinions? And how large – or small – is the circumference of their social circle? Who is in it? These things matter, much more than simple gender because, as the Guardian reports

Just one in 100 members of the UK public was educated at Oxbridge, however graduates from those two universities make up 75% of senior judges, 59% of cabinet posts, 57% of permanent secretaries, 50% of diplomatics, 47% of newspaper columnists, 44% of public body chairs and 33% of BBC executives.

Don’t get me wrong, electing more women Map’s is great and everything, but should it not be seen as a sign of how progressive we are as society, but instead as sign of we are focusing on the wrong thing!

My election notes. E-Day + 5


The one thing – the only thing in fact – that has impressed me about the Conservative party since it’s disastrous election campaign, and that has been it’s staggeringly public display of loyalty to someone no-one would blame them for wishing her ill.

She had a majority in parliament before the election. Like a man with a small car, it embarrassed her but it worked. But she wanted something bigger, something more impressive that she could impress her neighbours with. She made up all manner of excuses to justify her getting one. But unfortunately she discovered when she had sold her perfectly fine but modest car that she had had a poor credit score and had to settle for a worse car. And because her credit score was so low, she eventually was forced to borrow money from the only people who would lend her money.

Her friends look at the new car. They are not impressed, but they are aware that some gossipy blabbermouths are hanging around, making no secret of wanting to hear what they have to say. So they water down their true feelings, aware that what they do say will soon enough be distorted and twisted by other gossip mongers who didn’t have much love for their friend in the first place.

The paintwork and the upholstery has seen better days yes, but mechanically it’s sound and that’s what ultimately matters. It may not have all of the modern facilities, the fancy bells and whistles one takes for granted when gets a new car, yes, but the thing to do is to focus less on what it doesn’t have, and more on what it does. They admit that she didn’t get the greatest deal, but the car dealer wasn’t fully aware of all the facts and so she got the best possible deal she could. They say all this and more, repeatedly for the benefit of the earwiggers.

Everyone knows she’s got a long and difficult journey in this car ahead of her, made all the more difficult by the fact that the friend she borrowed the money from will not only be joining her, but map reading as well.

Privately her friends agree to club together and start saving for a new car. And they start discussing the possibility of their friend becoming an ex-friend while they’re at it.

My election notes. E-Day + 4


The trapped nerve in my left arm which prevented me from writing a couple of blogs before the election, is forcibly making itself known to me again today, with the result that typing this sends shooting pains down my arm.

But my almost pathological need to share my thoughts is greater than the pain hence some short observations.

Teresa May reminds me of Oliver Hardy. It was reported earlier by the BBC that

Theresa May has apologised to Tory MPs for the party’s election performance, telling them “I got us into this mess I’ll get us out of it.”

Although thinking about it Hardy would accuse Laurel of getting him into “Another fine mess!”.  And although she has landed us in a mess, certainly, fine however it is far from.

Actually it has just occurred to me who she better reminds me of. Charlie Croaker. Who? The loveable criminal played by Michael Caine in ‘The Italian Job’. Who, when his gang of chancer’s attempts to flee Europe with the gold after the robbery, the coach they’re escaping on slides on a narrow mountain road, resulting in the back of the bus is left teetering over a cliff and the gold slides towards the rear doors. As Croker attempts to reach the gold, it slips further. The film finishes on a literal cliffhanger with Croker announcing he has a “great idea”.


Let’s hope she has.



Appointing Michael Gove as the Environment Minister is rather like appointing Katie Price as a marriage guidance counsellor, because when he was Education Minster, he tried to get the teaching of climate change taken off the National Curriculum!



It’s ironic that the D.U.P’s Arlene Foster believes in devolution because she doesn’t believe in evolution!

My election notes. E-Day +3



I’ll admit it, she nearly has me fooled, her impression of a leader who was courageous and unafraid. All of her campaign – almost presidential – went to great lengths to draw an unflattering comparison between the supposed weaknesses of Jeremy Corbyn against the steely determination of Teresa May. It was only when it was actually tested however, that we saw her for what she really is.

She reminds me of second rate criminal in a third rate Hollywood film, who even when the cops confront her with overwhelming evidence of her crimes and arrest her, refuses to accept the new reality in which she funds herself and in her deluded state, makes plans on that basis. In what possible universe does Teresa May think her repeated claims of ‘strong and stable’ leadership is anything other than as questionable as it is illusory?

It is almost as laughable as her agreement ‘in principle’ to enter into a deal with the D.U.P. Principled? She has shown herself to have none – well one, if you consider clinging on to power like a chubnut a principle – whilst the D.U.P have principles certainly, just some distasteful ones. So if Mays campaign thought it was fair enough to repeatedly attempt to smear Corbyn with the utterly fallacious claim that he was a terrorist sympathiser, what are we to make of her doing a deal ‘in principle’ with a hard-line political party that has links to one of Northern Irelands former loyalist paramilitary groups?

What about her claim that because Corbyn met Gerry Adams that he was in some way unfit to be Prime Minister? This rather continently overlooks the rather uncomfortable historical fact that years earlier, the British government was holding ‘back channel’ talks with the I.R.A. that helped bring about the Good Friday agreement. Indeed her even countenancing entering into talks with the D.U.P, let alone sending her Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson, to discuss what the terms might be not only underline how manifestly unsuitable she is to conduct any Brexit negotiations – possibly being beholden to the D.U.P and the E.U knowing it. But it also demonstrates her willingness to put at risk the Northern Ireland Good Friday agreement, which ended decades of sectarian violence How this is so – and what might happen if it does is explained with greater insight than me here.

Teresa May is to ‘strong and stable leadership’ what prayer is to, well anything really. As she’ll find out when an ‘in principle’ agreement with extreme god botherers falls apart. In fact by the time you read this, it might have fallen apart already!