Thursday, 15 April 2010

20 days to go and a TV first

Now, this is exciting. I'm fascinated with the election again this evening. The first live television election debate has begun. Here are my initial thoughts of the three potential prime ministers.

My attention was first drawn to the appropriately coloured ties (though Brown's seems more pink thank red)!

First on-screen impressions:

Brown opened saying 'I know what this job involves'. Good point, but this man really suffers on camera. He's pulled the same non-smiling face in most photographs of him, and he did the same in the first shot of him tonight. His eyes looked half shut and his appearance was stern. A very different image than the more shiny Cameron and Clegg. But at least he is aware of it and made a little joke about it. I laughed, if no one else did! I can't, however, get over his annoying breathing thing. As soon as you notice it, you'll never be able to look at his mouth when he speaks again.

Cameron is as slick as expected. His clean cut appearance work very well on camera, yet his opening expression was quite serious. Serious about change or serious about performing well on television? He said he hopes that the debates will restore trust in MPs - preaching to the choir Cameron! His open apology for the expenses scandal was, however, unexpected and should be commended. He let himself down though mentioning the SamCam pregnancy - dirty tactic!

Clegg looked excited and he should be. It's been widely said that this is the best opportunity that the Lib Dems have ever had, and it is very true. He has a tough job trying to show fault in both the points that Brown and Cameron make. And whether this is possible or not we will have to see. He is, at least, entertaining. He's a bit naughty, breaking the rules by getting an audience member to nod his head.

And so it goes on...............

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Day 8 - Should I start counting down?

I've just thought, should I be counting down the days until the ballot rather than counting the days from the announcement? I shall rectify this soon.

So, today was not a day of election obsession. But two things did pop out at me.

First was discovering that Gordon Brown is supporting the campaign to save 6 music. Yes Gord! The story was well hidden on the bottom of today's Guardian. But, this is a massive story for me. And it highlights the difference between the Tories and Labour on the creative arts. The Tories plans to cut the BBC license fee are scandalous.

Second was surprise the amount of journalists and publications coming out in support of particular parties. The Observer last Sunday had pledges from several famous faces and after treating myself to Marie Claire this week I was surprised to see the features writer come out in support of Labour after interviewing Gordon Brown and David Cameron. The election special in this month's edition is a must for female voters.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Day 7 - Disengaging and disillusioning and Labour's manifesto

Today began with a discussion on Andrew Marr's Start the Week on Radio 4 about people - specifically the young - being disengaged from politics. Danny Finkelstein from the Times (who used to be a Tory politician - oh how the Times has changed) made interesting points, but the programme coupled disengaged votes with those who are disillusioned. These attitudes are, I believe, significantly different.

The expenses scandal has left many disillusioned, granted. But it has also engaged a much wider public in debates about the house of commons than there has ever been before. This building in Westminster is no longer an unknown. We can all relate to expenses as we all know the processes in our own companies and fields of world. And we all know that we would have lost our jobs had we done what they did.

So disillusioned yes, but disengaged no. We will use our votes to get rid of those who exploited our money. The problem will come when trying to find someone we can trust to support.

I, personally, feel the most engaged that I ever have. Today this led me to ask myself why I am not therefore out there campaigning. Why are so many young people campaigning for parties in the election?

Can't be bothered to read the whole of the Labour manifesto released today then check out the cartoon version here!

It seems incomprehensible to me to campaign for Labour who didn't make Higher Education free and a leader who took us to an illegal war. The Conservative MPs just scream 'We want to keep the rich, rich and the poor, poor', to me so canvasing for them is a no go. But maybe I should forgive an forget?

So, still disillusioned as how to vote I found another quiz - this time
offered by the Telegraph - to help my decision. I'm a bit shocked by the results! Percentages of who I should vote for:

Don't fear. I refuse to vote BNP.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Day 6 - Tories prove they won't change

NO, NO, NO Cameron! If you ever had a chance of getting my vote you have lost it now for ever. If I could reach any of your posters, this is what I would do.

I, like many others, are deeply insulted by the Conservatives plans to give married couples a tax break. Give me a break! This isn't 1950. What is this guy thinking?

I had a Bridget Jones moment last night, as the only singleton in a room full of smug-married women. Is this a microcosm of what life would be like under the Tories?

I don't think that Cameron realises that people of my generation live in an world where marriage is pretty much insignificant. I'm not going to get onto the debate about the worth of marriage, but just say that the Tories and Cameron have proved once and for all that they are out of touch.

Needless to say, feminism is alive and well as I've just seen girl choir on the Songs of Praise search for best school choir shouting GIRL POWER. I miss Spice world (I won't graffiti their picture).

But, be warned. We will not be forced into families that patriarchs like Cameron believe to be the 'best' sort.


An update on the Headingley Labour HQ. I checked out Google maps to see what used to be in this position on Otley road. It was vacant and for sale. But, just a thought, isn't it slightly ironic that Judith Blake has taken advantage of a vacant shop, when it quite possibly was vacant due to the recent recession that her party were in office for?

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Day 5 and a shock election reminder

So, its day 5! Today, I wasn't thinking about the election, but chilling in the sun, betting on the Grand National (I lost a pound!) and getting psyched up for Over the Rainbow, the BBC's search for a Dorothy. Oh, and also doing a quiz to see which way I should vote. See the results below.

So there I was, quietly enjoying the sunshine and vast amounts of shins on show and then, from nowhere, the labour party was thrust upon me when I saw this:

What the bloody hell is this? Why has a shop given up it's window in support of Judith Blake? Not that they shouldn't be allowed to do this, but is this normal election practice?

Having been away from Leeds for two weeks, I wonder if I am slightly delayed in noticing this. Can anyone tell me about this? All I can take from this so far is that Labour are fighting a strong game in Headingley.

Moving onto the quiz. It's based on policies and you have to pick at least 4 policies and then they base the questions around them. I chose all of them! And the result was...................................................................................................................................

Green Party! The result was:

44.44% Green
33.33% Labour
22.22% Lib Dem

So relieved to see that I didn't approve any BNP policies for any of the categories. I was slightly worried about the EU section! See breakdown below:

Crime - Labour
Democracy - Green Party
Economy - Lib Dems
Education - Green Party
Environment - Green Party
Europe - Green Party
Health / NHS - Labour
Immigration - Lib Dems
Welfare - Labour

Friday, 9 April 2010

Should we vote for a local candidate or a leader?

Today Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg joined local Leeds MP Greg Mulholland at the Headingley rugby stadium to have a game with children in a training session.

This boy even got an autograph (below). To be honest I was very tempted to ask! It was a great move to be seen playing rugby with young people. Has Clegg kissed a baby's head yet?

Clegg won my vote today. He is the only politician to give a proper answer to the question about student top up fees. No the country can't afford to make Higher Education free at the moment, but he has a 6 year plan that will make free education a reality again. BRILLIANT! Why can the other parties not offer me this? And, what's more, I think I have a bit of a crush on the man as I definitely felt myself blushing!

But I have real problems when it comes to voting and things aren't going be as easy as they seem. I strongly dislike what I see on Mulholland's voting record - so how can I vote Lib Dem in this area?

I have a massive dilemma. Am I meant to vote for someone to who will vote in the house of commons in the way that I would vote or am I meant to vote for a leader and a party as a whole? I always though it worked that you voted for someone to represent you. And so how can I vote for Mulholland when he doesn't represent my views.

So I'm left to debate whether I should put my X next to Mulholland as a vote for the Lib Dem party as a whole or if I should give my X to a candidate in Leeds who I agree with......

Also, check out the Lib Dem bus. Love it! Definite election fever today.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Where is my politics idol?

Fed up with the constant coverage and analysis of the election today I kept away from the newspapers and television and tried to identify what I really want from an MP.

I will never forget the efforts that went into giving me the right to vote, so I am going to do a lot of thinking and soul searching before deciding who will receive my X. But today, on my hunt for a worthy candidate, I was disappointed.

Apparently it is a tragedy that young people idolise pop stars and sports stars who set bad examples, but after setting out on the trail to find a candidate that I can really identify with I can see why we choose to follow celebrities rather than politicians. Where are the female role models to become my idol in the world of politics?

I really enjoyed listening to Ann Widdecombe being interviewed on woman’s hour this morning and felt myself warming to her straight talking, feminist attitude, until I realised that she is not standing. So who else is there out there?

Labour were doing well with feminist Harriet Harman, who came from a human rights law background, until she gagged the independent auditor in the expenses scandal. And now the other hope Patricia Hewitt has been done for corruption. Does something happen to people that makes them loose their morals after entering Westminster?

Ignoring Samantha Cameron, the only Tory woman that I’ve heard of – so hardly idol potential - is shadow cabinet member Teresa May. Apparently she believes strongly about encouraging women in politics, but I want to know exactly what this training is that she is planning on giving them. Brainwashing? And she doesn’t even come up first when you google her name.

The Lib Dems are also letting me down, despite knowing I have a soft spot for them. You have to get to page 2 of their shadow cabinet page to see a female face and then unfortunately it’s a case of Lynne Featherstone who? North London girl too though, so maybe I should give her a try.

The Green party seem to be the only ones to have it at all right. Their first elected leader was Caroline Lucas MEP. Maybe she can become my idol?

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Day 2

So Day 2 is coming to a close and I am already fed up. Who is running for the position of prime minister, the 3 candidates or their wives?

I’m disappointed by all the newspapers today fell for the anti-feminist idea of analysing the wives. Marina Hyde in the Guardian at least was self conscious in her discussion, but still female readers were patronisingly offered a lighter version of politics to read - just so they feel part of it all.

But, the Telegraph's fashion pages really pissed me off. Sam Cam’s publicists are infuriatingly doing a very good job

Would I myself be at risk of being anti feminist to suggest that we should take a slightly suspicious attitude towards Mrs Cameron’s pregnancy? Certainly it will just be human nature that people will warm to David more due to his family man appearance as a result of this timely announcement.

Moving onto the Labour camp, why is it that Sarah Brown has more followers on Twitter than most of the Labour MPs?

And poor Nick Clegg, he must be worried after his wife refused to campaign for him. I say she is very sensible.

At first it seemed a good idea to bring wives and families of potential leaders into the media spotlight – that way you can tell where these men are coming from and how their backgrounds will influence their decisions. But, oh wait. This is exactly what I don’t want to know about. I want someone in charge who makes (or at least seems to) judgements that are not influenced by personal experience and decisions that are best for the whole country, not just themselves.

Whatever I think though, it looks certain that this is another way in which the UK election has been influenced by the American one? It seems that all wives must live up to the example of Michelle Obama to ensure their respective husband’s success.

Having said all of this though, part of me wishes that one of the party leaders was having a secret gay affair or Sam Cam has been having it away with the milkman. That would certainly get the Daily Star readers interested – one of the only papers not to splash the election today.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

So its day one of the UK election 2010 and I’ve set myself a challenge: to blog on the election every day.

This will not seem out of the ordinary in this media filled election month, but unlike the rehearsed political commentators I’m a first time voter who only cares about politics most of the time, rather than all of the time.

After watching Gordon Brown’s announcement of the – oh what a surprise – May 6 election date and the opening speeches by the three main party leaders the question of which way to vote became more pressing in my day to day life.

David Cameron’s audience of supporters, clearly made up of the majority of his office, actually looked pretty bored during his ‘vote for change’ speech. Proving not be the rent a crowd that he had hoped for.

While the usual suspects turned out with Brown looking like they’d already spent a month campaigning.

Nick Clegg meanwhile made the mistake of giving the media the oh so predictable line ‘this isn’t the old politics of a two horse race’, which unfortunately commonly is responded to by the cynics with ‘yes it is’. Maybe he should wait for the results before running with this again.

The election announcement got a space on ITV’s Loose Women where one panelist said voters should look at policies and not vote a certain way because they feel they have an affiliation to a particular party.

This seems logical, but in fact I am very troubled by people taking such an attitude. Every single party, whether a favourite of mine or not, has manipulated facts and truths for their manifestos and no one is saying what they really mean. I know it is always said that politicians don't speak the truth, but this seems more significant now than ever before.

I am sure that the lack of straight talking will be the most frustrating factor in the build up to polling day. It is, in reality, either a question of which party voters believe is using the least spin, or which party manages to use spin so successfully that voters don’t notice it. I am sure that it will be the former.

It is, of course, not only the Loose Women who are discussing the election. All the major media outlets let their correspondents, commentators and graphics free today - they have been lined up ready for election coverage for quite some time.

I was shocked to see the presenters on BBC local news tonight live on location, something they rarely all do simultaneously. I’ve become accustomed to the reporting format, but it seems that all the usual styles have been ditched for special election time news. It’s only been one day, but I am already cynical; could it be said that the media are more excited out the next month than the politicians?

Also, and in an awful way, I am already feeling somewhat fed up of hearing, reading and watching the same coverage, the same analysis and the same jokes about the figures in the fight for Downing Street. Hopefully tomorrow will bring some fresh issues to debate......

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Over the Rainbow

A poignant statement at an unexpected moment and from a seemingly unlikely source on BBC talent show Over the Rainbow made this week’s show raise more questions than the usual who should stay and who should go.

In her departing comments, the first girl to be told that she will not be Dorothy, twenty two year old Amy Diamond from Cheshire, said that the contestants proved that you can be a mother or work in a bank and still follow your dreams. And this is the crucial difference between the open auditions that these shows provide and the real life set up. But what is more poignant is the light that her assertion has shed on the assumption of some viewers and critics of these shows that they are exploitative, sexist and trash. So is this really a talent show, and audition or is it just a version of Miss World?

The first potential Dorothy to be sent packing was an unlikely type for the role. And - if only for the reason that she has recently de-knighted her dog (previously Lord Teddy Pom Poms) after meeting Sir Andrew Loyd Weber and saying she has now realised what a Lord is - the right decision was made.

Amy says that she entered the competition to prove that she is not just a model, which she has proved. So she has a personal victory and maybe she has sparked a bigger victory. An audience must not be so small minded to automatically assume that the contestants are purely being judged on physical appearance and not real skill and talent.It seems more sexist to assume this than feel comfortable judging these girls on their ability to perform.

What is clear is that the contestants’ ability to pull off a live show each week, singing, dancing and acting simultaneously is something that many successful pop stars cannot do.

There are, though, problems with the selection process. Is it fair to judge the contestants on their screen appearance when they are auditioning to be on the stage not screen? There are very different techniques employed for performing for television and on the stage. So should the camera remain still, showing us at home what the theatre audience are experiencing, or will this hinder the voting element of the selection process. Can we, the audience, not identify with the contestants enough to feel inclined to vote for them without seeing them close up, playing up to the camera?

If only to the other contestant’s Amy’s comments were sisterly. Some complain that the process of kicking one girl out each week is cruel, and more so than other talent shows because the loser has to sing the title song Somewhere Over The Rainbow with the oh so true final lyric ‘so why can’t I’ before being allowed to leave the stage to console themselves. But this is all part of the show and each week a musical in its own right is performed and unlike at the west end, no one knows what the story’s conclusion will be.

Meanwhile, size, shape and colour are not playing a role in the selection for a dog to play Toto, which is running alongside the search for Dorothy. So head over to the website ( if you think your dog could make it. You've got to love the BBC for this idea!

It’s only the first week and I have had this much to say on it, so undoubtedly the show will be a must see - and not only for me. With the popularity of previous shows and in this political time, it will be interesting to see how the vote tallies for this programme and the general election compare.