Bits and Pieces

Saturday, May 21, 2005


Yeah, yeah, I know I haven't been around at all these past few weeks. Thanks for the emails berating me. I just haven't been able to build up any interest in writing anything - not that my usual stuff is exactly A-material. I don't know what the plan is, but I hope this break isn't permanent. Maybe in a few days I'll get bored with drinking heavily and watching Family Guy. Maybe not.

I'm more worried about the fact that I haven't even found the energy to shower yet today. I brushed my teeth when I got up and then lost the will to wash. Luckily it's Saturday and I have two hours before I have to do anything.

You know you've reached a new creative low when you blog about hygeine. I'll finish with a stream of gibberish.

gug hall kip saint louise of gonzo ah fuck it

Friday, May 06, 2005

Post-Election Opinion

Apart from the unfortunate loss of Internet access, last night went pretty well. Surprisingly enough, most of the exit polls were deadly accurate - Labour are back in with a projected 356 seats with less than 30 constituencies left to report. However, this majority is far from ideal for Blair. While an historic vote of confidence from the British people to ask him back for a third term, it's clear to see that the political landscape today is very different from anything we've seen in the last 4 years.

The Conservatives may once again have become a viable opposition. They're projected to finish up with 198 seats in this parliament - far from threatening, but a good sign nonetheless for the Tories. Similarly, the Lib Dems made significant gains at the expense of Labour. While I doubt I'll live to see a Lib Dem administration it's very interesting to see them win seats such as Manchester Withington.

The most important outcome of the night, of course, is the slashed majority of the Labour Party. A stark contrast to the Labour landslides of '97 and '01 when voters rejected Thatcherite conservative politics in favour of Tony's New Labour, Blair escaped this year with around 36% of the popular vote - only 3% more than the Tories.

One of the reasons for this reduced majority has been th protest vote factor, previous Labour voters turning to the Lib Dems to protest Blair's handling of the Iraq war. While not enough to unseat him it's more than enough to give the party a scare. Labour must now work hard to win back the trust of these protest voters. Without these voters to create a buffer between Labour and the Conservatives it could be a very interesting night indeed.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Liveblogging the British Election 2005

As I've made quite clear in the past, British politics is dull as dishwater. Campaigning has none of the drama you get in the US. Our campaigns last about a month, and even after that short period we Brits are already bored with the spectacle.

However, this is the night it gets interesting. In the next few hours we expect to see Labour's majority slashed. My personal opinion is that they will safely remain in power. The question, though, is how much power? Stay tuned, readers. I'll be liveblogging the results as they come in, so feel free to drop in as the evening goes on.

For the past three elections, the first constituency to release poll results has been Sunderland South. This constituency has been in Labour hands since 1992, when Chris Mullin seized the seat. The seat is considered safe by any standards, with a 63% share in 2001, 68% in '97 and a hair under 58% in 1992.

And the first result of the evening is.....

drumroll, please...

Chris Mullin, Labour - 17,982

That's about 59% of the popular vote. While solid, it's by no means a good sign for Labour. It's very good for the Lib Dems - they stole 3% of Labour's share.

1 down. 645 to go.

Number 2 is Sunderland North.

The winner?

William Etherington, Labour - 15,719 votes.

Sunderland North is almost a mirror of Sunderland South. It has been a Labour seat controlled by Etherington since 1992 - however, this year Labout lost 9% on the 2001 election.

The third result in is Houghton and Washington East, the seventh safest Labour seat in the UK. With 735 of the vote in 2001, Labour's Fraser Kemp seems a lock. The result?

Fraser Kemp, Labour - 22,310

Again, even this safest of constituencies has seen a downturn of 9% for Labour since the 2001 election. These first results suggest that Labour could lose a huge number of their battleground constituencies as their marginal voters turn to the Lib Dems.

The next result to be declared is Rutherglen and Hamilton West, just south of Glasgow in Scotland. This has been a Labour seat since we were fighting Hitler, and in 2001 Labour candidate Tommy McAvoy took 57,4% of the vote.

The winner is...

Tommy McAvoy, Labour - 24,054

McAvoy is the first Labour candidate to show an increase in the vote since 2001. However, since 2001 there has been a reshuffle in the Scottish constituencies, so in real terms McAvoy lost 4% of his share since 2001. And the pattern continues... so far Labour have lost 6.75% of the vote since 2001. Labour won 41% of the vote in 2001, while the Conservatives took 32%. If the pattern continues we'll see Labour take around a little over 34%.

Barnsley Central is the fifth constituency to declare. One of the safest Labour seats in the country, Illsley has held this seat since 1987, and in recent years has garnered at least 69% of the popular vote. The winner this time?

Eric Illsley, Labour - 17,478

Again we see a downturn in the Labour vote - 9%, in fact. That knocks up the average dowturn in Labour voted to 7.2% on the 2001 election. It seems more and more likely that the exit polls may have overstated the expected Labour margin of victory. We'll have to wait for the marginal constituencies to come in before drawing any solid conclusions.

Labour have held Hull West and Hessle. Alan Johnson has held the seat since 1985, but lost 3% of the vote compared to 2001.

Labour have also held Rotherham. Denis MacShane took 15840 votes, but lost 11% of the vote compared to 2001.

They also held Vauxhall in London with 19,744 votes, down 6% on 2001.

Aw crap. It seems I'll have to cut this coverage short. I had to move to another room to let the occupant of this one sleep (he's been clerking at our local polling place from 7am-10pm, so he's a little beat). I took a laptop to the lounge, but it seems our new cordless phones are interfering with the broadband connection in there. I can't quite figure out technology more sophisticated than a bottle opener, and I fear that if I start pulling on wires I'll never get the phones back on. So, you'll have to keep up to date by such outmoded media as TV news or the wireless (they still call it wireless, don't they?)

Meanwhile, I'll retire to bed where I can watch the results until I drift off. Night all.

Running Total (number of seats)

Lib Dem=59


Well, as it turns out I think my ad campaign is still running. I'm not entirely sure, but I'll leave the ads up a little longer until I know for sure. In fact, I'll step them up a little (shut up - I just spent 2 grand I don't have on a car. I'm a shill, but a loveable shill).

Now I'll sit here waving a wedge of cheese until someone clicks it.

P.S. Hey, and if worst comes to worst and the campaign is closed, at least the woman on the ad is pretty damned hot.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Ha. Google Rules!

Tomorrow we'll all be going to the polls to decide who will run my country for the next 4 years. I've written maybe one post about the election, outlining just how crushingly dull British politics can be. This, however, has been enough to rocket me as high as number 11 (out of a hair over 3.5 million results) on Google for '2005 British Elections'. I'm now hovering around number 30 - ahead of The Economist, The National Review, C-SPAN and even the frickin' BBC.

Of course, when I said we'll all be going to the polls, I mean everyone else will be going to the polls. I'll be sitting on the sofa eating cheese and red onion sandwiches watching Scrubs and Smallville. Apathetic? Meh.

"If I Could Be..."

I got tagged with the "If I Could Be..." meme by moehawk a couple of weeks ago. "Tagged"? "Meme"? "moehawk"? What kind of hellish nightmare is this? Anyway, far be it from me to ignore my responsibilities, so....

  • If I could be a lawyer... I'd be recruited by a prestigous law firm who turn out to be in bed with the mob/ stumble upon a huge mass tort case, make millions and then be indicted for insider trading and sued by my clients/ open my own firm with a hard-working but extremely ugly paralegal as the Robin to my Batman, fall for a woman with an abusive husband and sue an insurance company for billions. Hell, anything to get John Grisham to write about me. It's crap... but it's entertaining crap.

  • If I could be a linguist... I'd challenge Noam Chomsky to an all-linguist Death Match. I think I could take him. I really, really do.

  • If I could be a psychologist... I'd finally figure out why every night I dream I'm being chased down the street by my Mother - but she doesn't look like my Mother: she looks like Adolph Hitler in a bright pink Superman costume carrying a bag of donuts and a short length of wood.

  • If I could be an architect... I'd travel back in time to the year my Dad designed the building I studied in at university, slap him hard in the face and demand to know why, of all the materials he could have used, he chose to use ridiculously ugly brown glass. Wait - architects can time travel, right?

  • If I could be a writer... I'd have a hell of a lot more readers than I get tossing out this tepid pap every few days.

I'm supposed to tag a few bloggers with the meme, but as I'm famed for my sloth I'll just generally tag the blogosphere. Feel free to consider yourselves all officially tagged. It's time for my tea.

Just When You Thought You'd Got Rid of Me

You take a break for a measly week and your advertisers bail on you. Turns out I'm not being paid anymore for my Godo loans ads. Damned things are more trouble than they're worth.

It was good to have a week off. Things have been a little crazy around here recently so I enjoyed the time off. My grandad passed away in the early hours of Saturday, but after the weeks of agony he went through in hospital - on top of the years of general pain and reliance on bottled oxygen and pills - it was for the best. He had, as we Brits like to say, a good innings. The problem is that because it was a bank holiday weekend the country totally shut down, so my gran was only able to get a death certificate yesterday, and she still has to register the death before starting to arrange the funeral.

I've never understood why people should have to sort out all the paperwork of death themselves. If there's one thing you don't need on your plate when your nearest and dearest passes away its miles and miles of bloody forms - and that's before you even get to the stage of being stung for a couple of grand for what amounts to a wooden box and a hole in the ground to put it. Fortunately for gran she has a lot of children who can take some of the burden. We'll be hosting the post-funeral reception at our house to avoid having to hire a function room and catering. That's another thing I don't get - post-funeral parties. I can't think of a less appropriate time to break out the chips and dip.

Anyway... in other news, the new car is bloody brilliant. After a year of driving an absolute pile of shit it's a breath of fresh air to pull away from the lights without the back end of the car juddering so much it actually leaves the ground. It's also nice to have such luxuries and functioning brakes, suspension and tread on the tires.

I've also got a fancy new mobile phone, one with 16 times as much memory as the last one, a 1.3 megapixel camera, MP3 player, FM radio and frickin' Super Mario Brothers on it. The only problem, of course, is that my new network has terrible coverage up here in the hills so I can't reliably make calls or sends texts from home. Then again, who ever makes calls on their phone? Thats, like, so April.
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