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There is to be a General Election in the UK in 5 weeks’ time, and it could be the most complicated vote and aftermath in a long time, something that makes my misplaced optimism of 2010 look even more naïve.

It seems likely that no one party will command a majority of seats, just like in 2010. But since 2010 there have been two significant shifts in the electoral landscape, namely the (in my mind, more-than-slightly depressing) rise of UKIP and the astonishing surge away from Labour towards the SNP in Scotland. Add those to the grim slow-death of the Liberal Democrats since their unholy deal with David Cameron’s minority Conservative Government, and you have a mess, where even broadly ideological coalitions will struggle to govern.

UK election 2015 power share forecasts

See? Simples..!

No points for second place…

I’ve railed before about how my vote has failed to count in 5 out of 6 previous General Elections. In fact, if I’m being all Russell Brand about this, it probably didn’t really matter in the other one either, as the winning party won a massive majority anyway.

When I’ve voted for a ‘losing’ candidate, he (and it has always been a man) has always gained between 29% – 36% of the votes. That’s certainly a long way from winning, but it’s not insignificant. In all of these constituencies and elections, the winning party has barely won an overall majority, and at least a quarter of the electorate (usually more than 1/3) didn’t vote.

The Electoral Reform Group have long campaigned against this system, where so-called safe seats make up almost 60% of the entire House of Commons. But asking MPs and parties who rely on this for most of their power and influence is like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas.

Really… Brian May?

And so, in the midst of this confusion and godawful 24/7 reporting that I won’t even go into (remember: just 5 more weeks…), I may have found a most unlikely new political beacon.

Dr Brian May, astronomer, badger-lover, and one of my musical heroes since I was about 8 years old, has launched a new political website and grass-roots campaign. In all honesty, it’s a bit of a mish-mash of his different concerns, but he’s speaking from the heart, and putting some of his money where his mouth is.

I like quite a bit of it, I recognise and connect with its optimism and desire for something better.  I admire its activism. Most of all, he’s (nearly) convinced me that there is a potential to shake the ‘safe seat’ system, even just a little bit.

In all of the safe seats where I’ve voted over the past 28 years, at least 28% of the electorate didn’t vote, which was (usually considerably) more than the entrenched majority at the polls. It’s often the case that people don’t vote because, like me, they’re depressed / annoyed / apathetic at the whole process; either because they knew it wouldn’t affect the result (either as a winner or loser). Well, I Reckon that the more people think and act like that, the more it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

My Cotswolds constituency has elected a Conservative (or equivalent) candidate since its creation in 1918. At the last election the sitting MP won a majority of around 20,000 votes. But more than 24,000 people didn’t turn out. Now I don’t think for a moment that those people would all vote the same way, but I’d wager they could make things a bit closer.

Make it count. Make them count you.

I shall be voting for Paul Hodgkinson on 7th May. I’m no fan of the path taken by his party since the last election, but I’m even less of a fan of the Conservatives, and the Labour Party have seen fit to abdicate responsibility for our constituency by selecting a candidate who has never lived in the constituency (and it seems has barely visited it until recently). It’s as if they can’t be bothered, and seems either complacent or patronising at best. I hope and trust that the Labour candidate is a good man, but why should I vote for him on purely party-political lines?

I Reckon we should all vote. Vote tactically if you want to, spoil your ballot if you want to. But the only sure way to ensure your vote even begins to matter, even starts to count just a little bit, is to actually make your vote be counted, by turning up on 7th May and making some kind of mark. It might not change the result – in fact, it probably won’t. But I Reckon our inactivity breeds complacency and apathy among our politicians, and we deserve better.

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I first posted this 5 years ago, and I hope to post it every year, well, forever! Happy Anniversary to Mike & Kate xxx

What I Reckon

I was thrilled and privileged to be Best Man at my brother’s wedding to Kate last weekend. It was a terrific day, complete with even a couple of small fires during the reception…! My abiding memory of the occasion was the overwhelming sense that Mike and Kate make each other smile and laugh; just being with the other is enough to make them both feel better.

One of the readings at their marriage ceremony really summed this up.

A Lovely Love Story – by Edward Monkton

The fierce Dinosaur was trapped inside his cage of ice. Although it was cold, he was happy in there. It was, after all, his cage.

Then along came the Lovely Other Dinosaur. The Lovely Other Dinosaur melted the Dinosaur’s cage with kind words and loving thoughts…

I like this Dinosaur, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. Although he is fierce he is also tender and…

View original post 299 more words

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Did you miss me?

It’s been nearly 9 months since my last blog post, although in that time I’ve tweeted and posted all manner of nonsense in various social spaces. I’ve written several blog posts in my professional capacity as a Strategic Marketing Type at The Real Adventure Unlimited. I’ve written many short film reviews on Flixster/Facebook. So in some ways I’m sure most of the small numbers of people who read this will be familiar with What I’ve been Reckoning since last March.

But during this time away from WordPress I’ve worked long hours in a climate of great uncertainty, more so than any year I can remember: so has my wife in her own workplace. I’ve tried to help my elder daughter navigate the stormy seas of secondary school. I’ve supported my (extended) family as my Father has had a pacemaker fitted and endured bladder cancer, while my 83 year-old Father-in-Law has had a knee replacement.

With a more positive outlook, we installed raised vegetable beds in our garden last Spring, and reaped great rewards in the form of beetroot, shallots, salads, green beans, spinach, chard, raspberries and courgettes, not to mention a massive crop from both our apple and plum trees. We enjoyed terrific camping trips to Dorset, Somerset and Oxfordshire, as well as a week in Devon. We celebrated a fabulous wedding with dear friends. I completed my 2nd (and probably last) Tough Mudder event.

In short, we’ve had quite a bit on. And even if you didn’t miss me, I missed you. Especially, I missed this; sitting down to write, actually writing, actually posting What I Reckon for anyone or no one to read. And so I’m resolving to re-start, perhaps slimmed-down posts from where I ended up, perhaps more film reviews and family life than political diatribes. I’ll probably leave the marketing stuff to my work blog (unless I’m having a rant).

Thanks for reading – it means a lot when I know people have read and enjoyed my blog. But, if I’m honest, a lot of this is about me, writing for me. You, dear readers, are a bonus.

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Nick Davies’ excellent Flat Earth News is a coruscating dissection of the state of the media today, uncovering poor fact-checking, little or no analysis, simply reporting what someone, anyone says. Then when that turns out to be BS, just report the opposite story later and pretend like the first article never happened. Kind of like Dory from Finding Nemo.

The latest example comes from The BBC. I’ve been getting slowly depressed about the state of BBC News (ridiculous TV graphics, sensationalist radio talkins), but this article on the website today just bugged me. “Puncturing the hype” of Twitter, it cites Harvard Business School research, as though this source is supposed to make us believe it unconditionally.

But the thing is, the BBC article massively oversimplifies the researchers’ original article. The Harvard blog never uses the word ‘hype’. It’s research, designed to understand and explain. But of course, that doesn’t make for a headline. So the BBC writer highlights a ‘quote’, citing the researchers, saying

Twitter is a broadcast medium rather than an intimate conversation with friends

But you see, the original article doesn’t say that. Rather more prosaically, it concludes

This implies that Twitter’s [sic] resembles more of a one-way, one-to-many publishing service more than a two-way, peer-to-peer publishing service.

Mmm, catchy.

It should come to no surprise to anyone with an ounce of understanding that a small core of Twitter users generate most of the ‘content’. Handfuls of web consultancies and bloggers create hundreds of posts every day, mostly just linking to each other. Media channels (like, er, the BBC) have multiple feeds for News, Sport, specific radio stations, all churning out ‘breaking’ stories. Every presenter has their own feed, broadcasting their show’s content. So the BBC is at least involved in this ‘hype’ it now seems so keen to puncture.

Of course lots of people sign up to Twitter and never come back. Pareto is a rule for a reason. Most brands and services have a core of loyal users who generate most of the sales. If only the BBC writer had bothered to think about that for a moment, or perhaps read and reflect the original research. But that’s too complicated. I don’t think the BBC News Team hate Twitter, I’m not even sure they care very much. They just need to write something, anything about it. And that bugs me.

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