The inspiration to write this, my first blog of the year, was prompted by various stories I saw in the paper this morning. A couple of them weren't even political...
I personally believe that the Tory party's continual accusations that the BBC is left wing is just a massive snow job, or LIE as we used to call them. The reality is it just panders to their whims and creates this feeling that everything is much better when it clearly isn't. Oh and 4/5ths of the political reporters are dyed-in-the-wool Blues...
Actually, let's start this with the 'impartial' BBC...
Surely a publicly funded broadcast company that runs its own 24-hour news channel should have a remit that forces it to have to educate as well as entertain (or 'infotain')? Whether or not news can be entertaining isn't an issue here; what is an issue is educating ignorance rather than pandering to it.
Nigel Farage has been on BBC News more times in the last 12 months than arguably the prime minister, yet not once have I seen so much as a two-minute item explaining to people who what and why UKIP are. There has been no programming to look at the pros and cons of us actually quitting Europe (because when faced with the details it is clear to see that pulling out of Europe only benefits the rich and the xenophobic and the rest of us get screwed fiscally).
Today we have a news story about a proposal, from a Tory, to set up an independent body to scrutinise the manifesto claims of the parties - to see if they are economically viable, I don't know what the outcome would be if they were found to be lying through their teeth, but if we're going to go down that path then why not hold the ruling parties' to account if they ignore their manifesto/election promises once they've gained power.
The BBC news department's role in the world should primarily be reporting news, secondly it should provide educational and informative programmes and lastly it shouldn't be spending time and money reporting on what the general public thinks - because what we think is irrelevant, even if some of us think the right things.
Staying with politics for a second. The government announced billions to repair the roads recently - 'huzzah' you say, but it was nothing more than a vote winner, because we all give a shit about our roads.
Road repairs have been abundant in the middle England haven of Shoesville. In fact, you'd think, by the PR generated by Michael Ellis, the local Toryboy MP, that he single-handedly filled every pot hole in himself. There are many people in Northampton currently very happy that the pot hole issue has finally been addressed. I mean, for some people that guarantees Ellis their vote come the beginning of May, because simply put he's done more for his area of town than Sally Keeble - the feeble former Labour MP.
As a lifelong socialist, Ellis comes across as a far better constituency MP than Keeble could ever muster - lessons to be learned there, I think.
However, like most things, if you scratch the surface you start to see just what a clever and manipulative politician Ellis really is. Most of the resurfaced roads in the town are in Conservative boroughs; the roads where extensive patches have been administered are largely the LibDem voting parts of the town - and go into the council estates, the Labour heartlands, such as where I live and in the town centre and the roads are just as bad as they were five years ago and there's no plans to fix them.
Take the Westone estate on the east of the town. It is suburban residential, middle class and predominantly Tory. Ellis owns property there - this is important - and as a result, every square inch of every road in Westone - most that barely needed an odd patch, was resurfaced. Less than a mile down the road in Eastfield - a slightly run down council/housing association estate - you can't see a patch, let alone a resurface for love nor money and these roads are still woefully inadequate and potentially harmful to older vehicles, with less suspension etc.
I know of three people, myself included, who took the sad path of writing to the Chronicle & Echo to point this out - all three of us were ignored in favour of a letter from a resident in Westone claiming Michael Ellis is a demigod. The Chron is a Tory owned and supported paper.
The Guardian has a double page feature today on how 56-year-old Madonna is no longer hip and trendy and down wid da kidz.
This is what I mean. This is why I had the idea to write this. How is this even news? In fact, how is half the crap that finds its way onto screens, into news bulletins, etc., even news or worthy of being on the news when there are so many people dependent on food banks or being made homeless by the Draconian policies of the coalition?
Two years ago, the UK was submerged in its own 2013 ice age. We had months of cold, wet, snowy weather and yet the third story of the news the other day was that parts of the UK experienced its coldest night of the winter - a cataclysmic -6 degrees.
The so-called 'weather bomb' that hit the UK in December would have been called an Atlantic Storm Front before it got infotainment-ised. The ridiculousness of the entire situation was summed up when Joanna Gosling, the BBC anchorwoman, charged with overseeing the extreme weather event on the day, asked an Orkney resident how they were coping and he said, with a hint of humour in his voice, that this kind of weather was not uncommon for Orkney and that they get about 60 storms a year, so it was business as usual. The anchorwoman pushed, but she was getting no change out of the bemused Orkney Islander. Cut back to Gosling once again foretelling the end of times because there were 100mph gusts of wind in the Outer Hebrides.
As for Madonna; the thrust of the article was to say that 15 years ago she was relevant to the internet generation but now she's just generating bad press because she's out of touch.
In 2001, I was innovative on the Internet, what with my e-magazine and the forums and things that I set up and help run. Today I'm just a 52-year-old manic depressive who can't understand most things said by people under the age of 20 and I've worked with kids and young people for the best part of the last 15 years...
Like him or loathe him, but Charlie Brooker's 2014 Screen Wipe was essential TV and possibly the most important show on over a Christmas TV period that looked like it finally gave up the ghost. I cannot remember a Christmas with less things recorded or watched.
Being even more specific, what was important about Brooker's programme wasn't his 55 minutes, but the 5 minutes dedicated to an excerpt of a new documentary film about media manipulation and how we're almost programmed to accept things. It was one of those things you want to have 50million You Tube hits and be shown almost daily, as a public information film, on terrestrial TV. And it's all related to everything I've talked about so far.
The Palace are strenuously denying that Prince Andrew had sex with a 17 year old because it is illegal to have sex with 17 year olds in the USA (which frankly is incredible and kind of hypocritical given the social problems that country has). I can't help thinking if this was Italy the press would be saying, "Hey, that lucky bastard Prince Andrew shagged a 17 year old!"
Yes, I am aware that the woman in question claims she was forcibly made to have sex and that is heinous, if true. The aristocracy have a solid gold history of abusing - sexually, mentally and/or physically - anyone who isn't a member of their exclusive club, so when this is finally swept under the carpet, we will all be completely convinced that Prince Andrew had forced sex with a 17 year old. If the Royals privacy is made even more strict, in the form of an aristocrat-riven Tory government, I'm sure there will be even more heinous crimes forever swept under rugs...
The growing anti-Islamic movement across Europe - fuelled by the far right and neo-Nazis - is both a little like the persecution of the Jews and a lot like a Man U fan saying he wants football banned because Chelsea and Man City win everything. My mum used to call it 'cutting off your nose to spite your own face' and what I cannot fathom for the life of me is how this is going to be anything other than a negative thing that will incite further problems and probably send us on the path to war.
Isn't it strange that we're getting this at a time when countries are worried sick about economies and the future. What better way to solve everything than have a war. The west and the Establishment can manufacture its own Jihad and we can have Muslims versus everyone else. We can go into this war with the knowledge that different factions of Islam hate each other more than they hate us so they'll help the cause by fighting each other when they're not fighting us... And, of course, it will generate productivity and put people back into work - win-win!
In an attempt to stimulate growth, the government imposed a VAT on small businesses doing trade with the rest of the world. At the same time the government loaned/gave private companies over £1.7bn to investigate new ways of obtaining fossil fuels. They also introduced a policy that allowed medium and large companies to get tax breaks much easier, while penalising small businesses with higher rates and no access to this new deal.
What I find incredible and ties directly in with the opening statement of this blog, is why we find out about these things from bloggers or foreign news and not from our own? That's a rhetorical question as I'm well aware why, I just can't understand how we've (read: the Libdems) allowed them to do that without so much as a whimper?
A&E waiting times are of no real concern to the Tories. If you die waiting to see a doctor that's one less pension they have to stump up for.
Something very important happened the other day and it should be accepted for what it is...
I was driving through Boothville and I saw a van with a name on the side and that name was the name of a qualified electrician running his own company and by the looks of the 63 plate van I'd say he was doing okay.
I knew the name, but immediately dismissed it as someone with the same name. Later I discovered the electrician was indeed someone I had worked with during my first year at the Youth Offending Service. I helped get him on his first sparky's course. Good news, eh?
This person was involved in a pretty horrendous sexual offence when he was 16 that involved his pre-teen sister and other things that would make you struggle to even look at him like he deserved to be treated with any respect at all. That offence happened 11 years ago.
He served his sentence; did his 'probation' and was allowed to return to society, albeit with a sex offenders registry entry (which may be removed this year). There was not a social media campaign against him. There was not outrage from his family or the people involved in the crimes. There was no movement to continually punish him after he'd served his sentence.
It doesn't matter who you are or what you have done, if you have paid the penalty to the limits of the law then you should not have to face trial by the public because some people are offended by it. Perhaps we should dispense with the justice system entirely and have trials by Facebook? Or maybe let the punishment be decided by the BBC's Ed Thomas by gauging how heinous the crime was by the closer to a whisper Ed's voice gets when reporting on it? Programme the red button into a Live or Die thing and we can let ITV viewers decide the fate of anyone who ever offended someone else...
The Ched Evans situation is horrendous because the above applies to him as well, but so many people have made some valid arguments about his public persona and the fact his victim has been... well, victimised.
I don't, however, buy this bullshit about him showing no remorse - he pleaded not guilty and has stuck rigidly to that ever since, to show remorse would have repercussions for his appeal - which he is entitled to have and is under way. It's made all the muddier by the fact he has maybe an 8 year window left in his life to earn any decent money, because as it has also been stated the only thing he knows about is football (which might be why he's in this mess in the first place).
What 'Jean Hatchet' the 'woman' campaigning for the right to utterly destroy Evans' life doesn't realise is her campaign is, in many ways, far worse, because she's publicly destroying a person's life and getting social media to justify 'her' actions, despite what the law say about these things. 'She' might be related to the victim - which is also no justification - or just another fanatic with too much time on their hands getting their jollies from the number of people 'liking' what they're doing.
We wouldn't have had a fraction of these problems if this had been before social media and this new craze of 'Trial by how much a member of the public is offended'.
Oh, Social Media - I took 5 days off of at the turn of the year and as each day passed I coped with it a little easier than the day before. I didn't disconnect with the internet, just Facebook and other places that take up my time.
Is it just a Northampton thing or are there more and more people choosing to walk in the road than ever before, despite there being more than adequate, working, pavements/paths? Part of me thinks that because there are a growing number of imbeciles in the world that some people think that they have as much right to walk in the road as a car has driving on it.
Yeah. Let's see how that works out for them when they have their first head on collision.
There were no real resolutions from me this year, all I want is a better year in everything (although I'd be happy if we had a repeat of the weather but with a nicer August). I considered trying to cut down my swearing, as it has got fucking ridiculous, and have managed to cut it down by about 80% and yet still sound like a builder in a dockyard with a bad head and a wanker for an assistant.
I gave up cutting out the sugar in coffee over the festive period and as a result I'm back up to bladder-bursting quantities of coffee again and a higher risk of diabetes. Honestly? I don't give a honey-coated fuck.
No one bought me slippers for Christmas, that was a disappointment.