Tag Archives: politics

More on boundary changes

Blackheath boundary map before and after
Good article in the Telegraph about the nonsense of not releasing the actual maps.
Guardian mash up of the new boundary maps
Telegraph combining the Guardian’s maps with the existing boundaries.
(Animation above is based on the Blackheath bit of the Telegraph’s page).

PS- that’s my quota of animated GIFs used up for the year… probably…

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Leaflets delivered by constituency

Leaflets delivered by constituency
If you haven’t played with The Straight Choice website yet, then you should. Above is a map showing the number of leaflets delivered in the Blackheath area. Greenwich and Woolwich are the purplest, which means they’ve received the most leaflets, followed by Lewisham Deptford, then Lewisham East. Thanks to the opening up of the Ordnance Survey electoral boundary data, you can also see the constituency boundaries very nicely too. If you receive any leaflets from any parties, scan or photograph them, and add them to the site! (Especially if you live in Eltham – there’s only one so far). And when you’ve done all that, don’t forget to look into their eyes!

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Clegg in Blackheath – why?

Nick Clegg and Pete Pattison at the Liberal Democrat rally in Blackheath

Regardless of your political beliefs, it’s not every day that the leader of one of the three major political parties shows up in Blackheath.  Indeed, there were several tweets and commentators suggesting that it might have been a hoax.  So I headed down there, expecting to see a few people standing around.  The place was heaving with supporters, and news gathering trucks.  So it was on.

There was a long wait – he was late.  In the meantime, there was the truly strange scenario of labour councillors, and a few supporters attempting to hold their banners in front of the LibDem banners.  This was a strange situation, with lots of (polite liberal) harrrumphing from the crowd, eventually turning into some booing.  Then a 19 year old started shouting at one of the labour councillors about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I began to feel quite sorry for the guy “I’m only a local councillor, you’d have to speak to the immigration minister” was a reply at one point.  An old lady told the young man to calm down, and he apologised.  It never got nasty, but it shows the level of political frustration around at the moment.

I couldn’t work out if the Labour banners were there on a whim- in order to try to represent another point of view, or because they’d been told to be on display, so that the cameras would see both banners in the background – to help labour to ride on the libdem’s coat-tails (a few week’s ago, this situation would have been unthinkable, but now I’m not so sure).

So Clegg arrived, lots of cheering, and the sun came out.  I’m not making this up.

A very weak PA system relayed a fairly standard talk, until Clegg started endorsing Pete Pattisson, the LibDem candidate for Lewisham East (who spoke marginally better than the other two at the hustings last week).  This is interesting to me.  It clearly shows that the party bigwigs view Pattisson as a contender, for a seat that has been solidly Labour in the last three elections.  If you look at the graphs, perhaps they believe that this time they’ll swing it.  I guess it is possible.

The speech took a turn for the weird side (about 1:05 in the video above), when some very angry people started asking Clegg about “organised paedophile rings”, clearly not a subject that he wanted to talk about, and (forgive the observation) the man shouting it didn’t have the upper-middle class accent that perhaps Clegg was expecting to hear in Blackheath.  It did seem like an odd question, and I’ve no idea why he was so angry about it.

At the end, having spoken to the Gurkhas, and some more press (one press photographer commented “Politician surrounded by the press, that’s never been done before, has it?”), he jumped onto the bus, which eventually managed to get past the throngs of people.   (Although it did look as though an Ocado van was going to block it in at one point.  A terrible problem that many Blackheathens may have seen before, and I’m sure will form a key part of their manifesto next time).

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LibDem leader coming to Blackheath on Monday?

UPDATE: It’s Momday, not Sunday. Sorry!

Chris Maines (Libdem mayoral candidate for Lewisham) mentions on Facebook that Nick Clegg will be coming to Blackheath on Monday morning, at 10am. He says that he’ll be basking in the yellow glow outside Everest Inn? Can’t find any reference to this anywhere else on the internet, but if true, it seems that Blackheath can haz lib dems

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Hustings audio

Blackheath Hustings hall

I’ve finally managed to get the audio from the Hustings at the Blackheath Halls out of my phone, and onto the site.  The quality isn’t brilliant, but you can hear what is going on.  It is split into two parts, and should be playable on pretty much anything:

Part 1  (22MB mp3)
Part 2 (40MB mp3)

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Male Pale and Stale?

Blackheath Hustings candidatesUPDATE:Complete audio of the justings is available here.

Bloody hell, that was tedious. The hall was packed, but that didn’t stop it from being a very slow moving, sedentary hustings. I don’t think the organisers expected anything like the turnout that appeared. The place was heaving – the hall was almost full (and boiling, thanks to the house lights being left on throughout the proceedings). Before the beginning, I heard someone behind me muttering that “the LibDem hasn’t got a tie on…”

The event was organised into two halves, with the first half consisting of two minute pitches from each candidate, then six minute pitches from each candidate, then two questions posed by the “independent residents”. In total, this took nearly 45 minutes. We all know what the candidates stand for. If you’ve followed this site, you’ve googled them all until you’re blue (or red, or yellow) in the face. We didn’t need half an hour of lecturing, followed by the “independent residents”.

The independent residents, bless their thoughtful souls, were sort of brilliant, in a gentle sort of way. They posed us a series of careful, intellectual questions, which none of the candidates actually bothered to answer. Although, you may not have noticed, because there was a bloody tea break between the posing of the questions, and the replies. My prejudices had kicked in early on, looking at this bunch of elderly gents running the show… But, despite coming across like Waldorf and Statler, their assessments and questions were absolutely spot-on.

The problem was that this event didn’t need their assessments at this point. These hustings were dead from the neck up. Before any of the hundreds of people who had given up their evenings to try and decide who to vote for had had a chance to put their questions, we had a series of economics lectures (yes, we know the debt is a catastrophe), and a lecture on Trident, the sentiments of which were brilliant and well meant, but totally unnecessary during a hustings.

These two should have been blogging, not on stage!

Nothing about this event felt off-the-cuff (apart from a couple of heckles – more on them later). Questions had to be offered in advance, then selected by the chairman, who did a good enough job within the chosen format, but it could have been so much better.
Blackheath Hustings hall
Blackheath is blessed with these amazing facilities – this amazing hall, complete with a bar at the back, a really good sound system, and enough seating for all, and yet, the entire event felt pre-scripted. Next time, make it spontaneous. Have a chairman to keep order, and have a microphone at the front, and allow members of the public to put their questions one by one, answered immediately. Allow the candidates to interrupt each other. The crowd was courteous and polite to a fault – even the heckles were harmless… So don’t package it all up like this next time, and allow us to see opposing candidates debating against their peers, not against other regions!

The candidates themselves came across very strangely. Beware these blues that cloak themselves in red, these reds that appear so blue… They truly seemed to be outdoing each other in rhetoric, David Gold (conservative) was full of “NHS Dentists, and local schools”, whilst Nick Raynsford was busy invoking the ghost of his dead father to justify the continuation of Trident. Pete Pattisson was the only one that seemed to talk any sense from my point of view, though even he appeared to duck the obviously dangerous questions – (“Will you really scrap Trident?” “We will not renew it with a like-for-like replacement.”)

There was a very long and ultimately rather pointless discussion about how each candidate would alter the voting system. Nick Raynsford believed First Past The Post worked well when there were two dominant parties, and cited Israel as an example of why Proportional Representation was a bad thing?! Pete Pattisson claimed that “safe seats grow lazy politicians” (ouch!), and wanted the Single Transferable Vote. Raynsford retorted by asking anyone in the audience to name all of their London EU representatives, and said that he was now in favour of the Alternative Vote system, repeatedly telling us that he had installed this in the Greater London Authority. Daivd Gold said that First Past the Post was a good system, but that his party would make changes so that “bad” MPs could be removed by petition.

As for heckling, Nick Raynsford would have done well to avoid mentioning Gordon Brown, which caused a few shouts from the back. David Gold really should have seemed less keen to criticise Raynsford’s evocation of Thatcher (one bitter voice shouted “Was she a Conservative David?”). But by far the best moment was at the end, when the chairman asked the minority candidates in the house to identify themselves, so that the public could speak to them directly (imagine that). When only one hand appeared, the chairman asked them all to stand up. “I am standing up!” came the lone voice of the Christian Democrat Lewisham People Before Profit candidate for Lewisham East from the back of the room. Never mix religion and politics, even if you are of average height…

Anyway, if you want detail, I’ve recorded the whole thing, and will attempt to upload it soon, albeit in terrible quality. The horrendous Dell from Hell is currently threatening me with a .NET unhandled exception error in DNSServiceBrowse. Which means my PC actually talks less sense than the politicians. But as soon as I’ve fixed it, I’ll upload the audio here.

The event also came with a very handy leaflet -
Leaflet from Blackheath Hustings
Which details exactly who is standing where – well worth a look.ATT

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BNP canvassing in Blackheath

BNP leaflet, delivered in Blackheath, shown in its natural home.
If you weren’t sure whether to go to the hustings tonight, or whether to be involved in politics, then this should persuade you. The gall of these people, to dare to put Churchill’s face next to that man.

I can’t be the only one who ended up with these leaflets… Did anyone manage to have a chat with their local BNP candidate this afternoon?

Anyway, the hustings start at 7.30pm – don’t be late!

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