Monthly Archives: April 2010

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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Don’t forget – Hustings tonight

Don’t forget, tonight Blackheath Halls is holding a Hustings event from 7.30 – 9.30 pm.

It’s free entry, and the following prospective candidates will be there:

David Gold – Conservative, Eltham
Pete Pattisson – Liberal Democrat, Lewisham East
Nick Raynsford – Labour, Greenwich and Woolwich

Independent commentators:
Malcolm Levitt – economist
John Palmer – political journalist
In the chair – Sir Ian Mills

PDF from Blackheath Society Blackheath Halls Hustings.


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London Marathon 2010 in Blackheath

The endless whirring helicopters can only mean one thing.  The volcano has packed in the cigarettes, and it’s marathon day!  It’s live on BBC 2, and the presenters are all standing in Blackheath, complaining about the weather!

This page has been frequently updated, refresh the page and scroll down to see them. Please send in any info you have, from a Blackheathean perspective!

The view towards Greenwich Park (can’t see any LOCOG protestors… yet…)

Weather looking distinctly dingy compared to yesterday.

Yay!  Balloons!  And that nice Richard Branson with his money!

No text speak please, we’re British…

Weather even worse….

And they’re off! As Blackheath is trending on Twitter!

Definitely getting grimmer weatherwise… Lots of umbrellas appearing… But it was so nice yesterday!

The wonderful domes of the observatory appearing through the grime…


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London Marathon 2010 at Blackheath

Biggest screen you’ve ever seen up on the Heath today, in preparation for the marathon tomorrow…

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No Icelandic Dust!

Farmers Market is buzzing today. First time I’ve ever seen this sign though. No market next week due to the London Marathon.

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Will you allow your medical records into the NHS Database?

NHS opt out medical records

Yesterday I received a slightly scary looking letter from Lewisham NHS primary care trust. It asks whether I will be happy to allow my basic medical information (the “Summary Care Record”) to be uploaded into the Spine- the massive NHS IT project to centralise medical records.

I’m really not sure what to do about this. If any of you are doctors or work the medical profession, what are you advising people to do?

On the one hand, if I fall Ill somewhere in the UK, it would be useful for a doctor to be able to quickly get to my data. On the other hand, I’m very concerned that data can be easily re-sold to private companies in the future (who knows what could happen?) and I don’t want insurance companies to be able to sell my details between themselves.

Also my wife didn’t receive a letter, even though we’re both registered at the same surgery, and live at the same address…

I’m really in a quandry. Please advise!

UPDATE: Her letter came the next day.  To opt out, you have to print this PDF form out, and return it to your GP’s surgery.


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Lewisham gets proper hustings, Blackheath not so lucky

Voters in the Lewisham Deptford constituency will be able to meet all of their main candidates in a room debating with each other. Whereas we seem to be getting one prospective MP from Greenwich Woolwich, one from Eltham, and another from Lewisham East, as mentioned yesterday. It’s a very strange arrangement.

UPDATE: There’s also a proper hustings planned in Eltham on 28th April. Thanks to Raven and the London Masala and Chips Blog.

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