Thursday, 13 September 2018

The Ballad of Alexander and Ruslan (Let's Do It)

With apologies to the late, great Victoria Wood.

        Alex and Ruslan sat one night.
        The sky was clear. The stars were bright.
             The wind was soft. The moon was up.
             Alex drained his vodka cup
        He licked his lips. He felt sublime.
        He switched off Dacha Gardening Time.
             Ruslan cringed in fear and dread
             As Freda grabbed his tie, and said:

                       Let's do it!
                       Let's do it,
                  Do it while the mood is right!
                            I'm feeling
                  I've really got an appetite.
                  I'm on fire
                  With desire.
                 To see Salisbury's Cathedral's great big spire.
                       Let's do it!
                       Let's do it tonight!

             But he said:
                       I can't do it.
                       I can't do it.
                  I believe the weather's just not right.
                            This winter
                            It's sinister
                  Turns out it might snow tonight.
                  No timetable!
                  I'm unstable
                  I'd rather watch US Apprentice on the television.
                       I can't do it.
                       I can't do it tonight.

             So he said:
                       Let's do it!
                       Let's do it,
                  Get the train out there an boom!
                            Old Sarum,
                            Take care, um,
                  Don't on any ice go zoom.
                  This folly
                  Is jolly.
                  We not crash the plane like Buddy Holly.
                       Let's do it!
                       Let's do it tonight!

             But he said:
                       I can't do it.
                       I can't do it.
                  We haven't got the time of trains.
                            I'm older,
                            Feel colder.
                  If not snow what happens if it rains.
                 Your exploring:
                  Get's boring.
                  Russians in Salisbury will be left snoring.
                       I can't do it.
                       I can't do it tonight.

             So he said:
                       Let's do it!
                       Let's do it,
                  Go and take some Novichuk!
                            On some door.
                            We'll ignore
                  That's Russians live there bad luck.
                  Don't spray it
                  Why delay
                  Vlad will always find a way to deny it.
                       Let's do it!
                       Let's do it tonight!

             But he said:
                       I can't do it.
                       I can't do it.
                  I know I'd only get it wrong.
                            Drop bottle
                            Full throttle.
                  Someone innocent will come along.
                  Stop pressing.
                 No messing.
                  They might die as well and it'll turn depressing.
                       I can't do it.
                       I can't do it tonight.

                       Let's do it!
                       Let's do it,
                  Book to nights in London town,
                  See the sights and lose your frown
                  To quote Lenin,
                  On bed linen,
                  To roll in gay abandon thinking its the London Hilton.
                       Let's do it!
                       Let's do it tonight!

                       I can't do it.
                       I can't do it.
                  A two day trip would just look strange.
                            Train travel
                            Will unravel.
                  Why didn't we just prearrange?
                  We journeyed.
                  Too hurried.
                  You know as well as I do snow is only flurried.
                       I can't do it.
                       I can't do it tonight.

                       Let's do it!
                       Let's do it
                  While I'm really GRU!
                            Our Putin
                  Writen tourist tale will ring so true.
                  Live dreams
                  New scenes
                  Wear your baseball cap with your skinny jeans.
                       Let's do it!
                       Let's do it tonight!

                       I can't do it.
                       I can't do it.
                  I must refuse under duress
                            I feel silly.
                            It's too chilly
                  To go without me thermal vest.
                  Don't choose me.
                  Don't use me.
                  Donald Trump sent a note to say you must excuse me.
                       I can't do it.
                       I can't do it tonight.

                       Let's do it!
                       Let's do it!
                  I feel I absolutely must.
                            I won't exempt you,
                            Want to tempt you,
                  Want to drive you to Stonehenge.
                  No cautions,
                  Just standing stones!
                  Then buy some soup with those little croutons.
                       Let's do it!
                       Let's do it tonight!

                       I can't do it.
                       I can't do it.
                  It's really not my cup of tea.
                            I'm harassed,
                  I wish you hadn't picked on me.
                  No worries!
                  Why hurry.
                  The only girl I'm mad about's Edwina Currie.
                       I can't do it.
                       I can't do it tonight.

                       Let's do it!
                       Let's do it!
                  I already have the Novichuk.
                            Let's flyover.
                            Wear pullover.
                  We might even get some Blackpool rock.
                  Be mighty.
                  Not flighty.
                  Do it for the good of the people's party.
                       Let's do it!
                       Let's do it tonight!

                       Let's do it!
                       Let's do it!
                  I really want to feel so brave.
                            Let's go,
                            'Cause I know
                  To lose the beard you can just have:
                  Not delay,
                  What ya say?
                  Then we'll slap the "truth" on Russia Today.
                       Let's do it!
                       Let's do it tonight!.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Brexit Secretary Fails Northern Ireland #PeoplesVote

Brexit Secretary Dominic Rabb has told Northern Ireland businesses that trade across the border that in the event of "no deal" they should "speak to Dublin".

So it appears that individual businesses many of them small and medium sized businesses are going to have to make deals with our nearest EU neighbour. This is a dereliction of duty on behave of Her Majesties Government, it is throwing Northern Ireland and the many hard working entrepreneurs who have flourished since the Good Friday Agreement under the bus. The agri-food industry in particular will be lacking their EU supplements, some in this industry operate on both sides of the border already. But Westminster says talk to Dublin yourself.

This latest announcement about Northern Ireland shows a lack of concern from Westminster for Northern Ireland, for the successes that have come out of the Good Friday Agreement and the state of the Union itself. If we are being advised by London to speak to Dublin is this just code for go and join them?

I wonder what the DUP think of their partners telling Northern Ireland business to be prepared to speak to Dublin about the state of their business, jobs and production from next March?

Theresa May's government continues to show it is failing to understand the nature of Brexit, the damage it is heading towards and this is especially true of Northern. Everyone who is seeing this should now know that is it time to demand a Peoples Vote before this gets out of hand.

What We Really Deserve to be Better #WeDeserveBetter

On Monday I did make some comments on social media about the decision of the We Deserve Better campaign in Belfast disinviting Elaine Crory and John O'Doherty to speak at the end planned for 28th August.

For readers not in Northern Ireland Elaine works for the Belfast Feminist Network and Alliance for Choice, John for the Rainbow Project and Love Equality NI. Therefore the views of a leading feminist arguing for women's reproductive rights and a leading LGBT+ and equal marriage advocate were silenced.

I have taken some time to read through the threads on the We Deserve Better Campaign since Monday to get an idea of why some there have called the inclusion of these speakers "devisive" and feel that such "agendas" should not share the platform next week outside Belfast City Hall.

Firstly from what I have read the aim of the We Deserve Better campaign is simply to have a working Assembly up at Stormont. I agree with that as an aim. We need Ministers able to make policy, budget decisions and MLAs to vote on those decisions. On the face of it this is a noble aim.

The problem is and this is something that the withdrawal of these two speakers has brought to the fore. Health, Education, Infrastructure etc will all be and all have been up and running when we have had an Assembly in the past, even in the gaps when we haven't previously Westminster usually stepped in. On this occasion Westminster has refused to do anything, to make any decision on our behalf, this may or may not have anything to do with the largest party at the last Assembly Elections shortly thereafter entering an arrangement with the Governing party in Westminster to support then on key votes to do with Brexit.

We have not been told the details of that agreement but the inertia that has persisted in Northern Ireland may be as a result of the Prime Minister having to rely on DUP votes to get things done in London leading to a refusal to do anything to change anything in Northern Ireland.

However, the key is to have a working Assembly. The issue that the LGBT+ community and feminists in Northern Ireland have is that simply restoring the Assembly without some sort of reform does not make things better. The people who are part of We Deserve Better seem to think that simply getting the elected MLAs back into their seats in the chamber will allow them to make the decisions that can affect change on LGBT+ and women's issues.

Unfortunately both these groups are well aware of the short comings of the Assembly and have been for years. They have been shouting that we need better from Stormont. They have recognised that their views have for too long been able to be silenced, or debated but effectively stunted by one party using the mechanisms that can even turn a majority vote into a continuation of the status quo. This is the reason that there was anger on Monday when the announcement came about the withdrawal of these two speakers.

The LGBT+ and women's groups are used to and angry about continually being silenced, ignored, sidelined. They are continually used to hearing debates about their rights becoming a slanging match on TV or Radio often more of a hot potato than sectarian issues. They have been shouting for better for years. I have lost count of the number of times we have gathered at City Hall to demand better from our MLAs. We are the forerunners of calling for better governance of Northern Ireland, where minority rights can be trumped by a sectarian head count when those issues have always transcended the traditional sectarian divide.

We the ignored and sidelined minorities of Northern Ireland deserve better. Simply a resumption of the Assembly is not going to achieve that for everyone and therefore the "We" in We Deserve Better in not all inclusive. We appreciate that there are parties in the Assembly who do recognise that there is need for reform. We recognise that not all of the politicians in Stormont are the same. We know that there are some who are fighting for change that will make it easier to make things better.

Maybe this lack of government for all will help to highlight to others how their government which provided things for them when it sat, needs to do better for those of us whose rights are ignored and not advanced in line with the rest of the UK and Ireland, even when we have an Assembly.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

We will remember them: Oswald Cawley 22 August 1918

In addition to remembering my family members who died in the Great War, as this is a political blog I shall also be looking at the men who while still Members of Parliament signed up for the war and paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The first in this series is The Hon. Oswald Cawley. He was the fourth and youngest son of Frederick Cawley who in January of 1918 had been elevated to the house of Lords as 1st Baron Cawley after serving as MP for Prestwich since 1895 and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancashire from 1916-18.

His youngest son Oswald had stood as a Liberal in the by election to succeed his father.

Monday, 9 July 2018

The Wisdom of David Davis

In light of the Brexit Secretary's resignation this evening here are his sage words about referendums.

There is a proper role for referendums in constitutional change, but only if done properly. If it is not done properly, it can be a dangerous tool. The Chairman of the Public Administration Committee, who is no longer in the Chamber, said that Clement Attlee—who is, I think, one of the Deputy Prime Minister's heroes—famously described the referendum as the device of demagogues and dictators. We may not always go as far as he did, but what is certain is that pre-legislative referendums of the type the Deputy Prime Minister is proposing are the worst type of all.

Referendums should be held when the electorate are in the best possible position to make a judgment. They should be held when people can view all the arguments for and against and when those arguments have been rigorously tested. In short, referendums should be held when people know exactly what they are getting. So legislation should be debated by Members of Parliament on the Floor of the House, and then put to the electorate for the voters to judge.

We should not ask people to vote on a blank sheet of paper and tell them to trust us to fill in the details afterwards. For referendums to be fair and compatible with our parliamentary process, we need the electors to be as well informed as possible and to know exactly what they are voting for. Referendums need to be treated as an addition to the parliamentary process, not as a substitute for it. 

House of Commons Debates (Hansard), 26 November 2002, column 201

I'm guessing he now knows what he is getting and is voting no. What about the rest of us?

Sunday, 8 July 2018

The Fall and Rise of Wendy Milne: Labour PPC for Linlithgow and East Falkirk

It has just been announced via Twitter that Wendy Milne has been selected as the new Prospective Parliamentary Candidate in my old stomping ground of Linlithgow and East Falkirk.

Voters who had the chance to vote for me in 2005 and 2010 or have moved there or turned 18 since then might like to know the background of their new Labour candidate.

In 1990 Wendy Milne was one of those purged from the Labour party as part of Kinnock clearing out Militant.

In 2001 she went on to stand as the Scottish Socialist candidate in Livingston against Robin Cook claiming he was too "right wing" for the people of Livingston. Only 1,110 people agreed with her, 19,108 returned Robin as their MP for what was to be his last full term.

We live in interesting times if in the other half of West Lothian and parts of Falkirk Wendy is now back in the bosom of the Labour Party as their officially recognised candidate.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Dear Arlene Foster, This is Why you Need to Apologise

My current Face profile pic contains the words "I am Repugnant". It was a word a DUP MLA used 6 years ago to describe all involved in Pride.

He is a person I have meet in social and political contexts before and after he was aware of my sexuality. Last night Arlene Foster said that nobody is defined by their sexuality. During the break on the first debate on Marriage Equality in Stormont I was in the queue behind that MLA in the canteen. I greeted him, he turned around recognised me and then noticed the LGBT+ Lib Dem badge on my label.

His response was "Oh, you're one of them" and he turned on his heel. Until now I have not let the BBC journalist who was present 2 metres away use that story.

Today I feel it needs to be told. Jim Wells attitude towards me from the times we meet before he knew my sexuality and after has been markedly different. This is the personal face of the institutional homophobia that the DUP's elected reps present. Many of them block anyone who asks about LGBT+ issues on social media. Many refuse to answer any enquiry we ask as their constituents after we have raised an LGBT+ issue previously.

Arlene Foster has also said there is no need for her to apologise. Sorry Arlene, while many of us have always been respectful to our elected representatives from your party, being nothing but courteous in how we address them, they have blocked, ignored and shunned us in person. I have experienced this face to face on a number of occasions from Mr Wells and others.

THAT IS WHY the LGBT+ community in Northern Ireland NEED AN APOLOGY from the DUP LEADER. The ball is in Arlene's court.