Ever thought about the influence geography has on the way you vote? You probably ought to, it's had a massive effect on me. Y'see, I grew up in the 80s and did my GCSEs and A Levels in the 90s. that's under Thatcher and Major. But that's not the main reason I distrust the Conservative party, nor the main reason I hate the Tories[1]. That can be explained by a very simple statement.

Anthony Steen was my MP. He's still the MP for my parents, both surviving grandparents, two aunts and four cousins. Yes, that Anthony Steen. For a very very simple reason to hate the git[2], have a listen to this[3]:
BBC flash embed of the audio of the interview. I can listen to this again and again and again, it makes me happy ) I've met him. He visited my school a few times when I was a kid, and I met him subsequently. He really is like that. That interview has effectively ended his fairly undistinguished career. The great shame is that he's been forced out, because despite him representing one of the safest Conservative seats in the country, his behaviour since re-election in 2005 has been, well, interesting, and I reckon he'd have lost without the most recent revelations. Here are some highlights:
A summary list of some of the more egregious idiocies he's managed )

So, there you go. Due to the nature of the first-past-the-post electoral system, if you have a git like that as your MP, if you want to get rid of him, you have to vote for the candidate most likely to beat him. If you get used to voting for that party time and time again because they're the best chance of beating the incumbent git, many people begin to consider themselves supporters specifically of that party.

In 1997, I voted in my first General Election, and specifically voted against Steen. It was a vote for the Lib Dem candidate, but also broadly a vote to get the bastard Tories out and replace them with Blair. I often wonder what, if any, my partisan allegiance would be if I grew up in a part of the world where the Lib Dems were a distant third and Labour were challenging the Tories. Let alone if I'd grown up in a safe Labour area where the Tories had no chance.

One of the stupidities of the UK system is that where you live matters a lot more than who you support. I think it's about time we changed that, how about you?

Footnotes )
You don't need to know anything at all about the farce that is the Torbay mayoralty to get this one:
Closure will actually breathe life into Eastphalia.'

The master plan would be for one developer to link the Woolies building, Victoria car park, Crossways and Station Lane sites and merge them into one massive regeneration project, including such things as a multiplex cinema, indoor bowling centre, new shops and homes, and with each financing the other. 'Ahmad Hatter explained: 'It's a brilliant plan, especially the way each thing will finance the other in the middle of the deepest recession in living memory. In fact we will probably end up knocking Woolies down to make way for the new 'porcine runway' - at busy times there will be pigs taking off and landing every five minutes
For the uninitiated, Westphalia=Torquay, Eastphalia=Paignton Brixham Fishhole=Brixham, Ahmad Hatter=some bloke even the local Tory Cllrs thought incompetent and got rid of, and Mayor Nick Bye=a useless waste of space that's achieved nothing except prove what a bad idea the Govts elected executive mayors system really was (and how awful the implementation legislation). The blog's syndicated at [livejournal.com profile] thisiswestphali.

Oh, also, they've revamped the news section of the UK Parliament website. Using Wordpress. No idea how much they were overcharged, but the feed is: [livejournal.com profile] parliament_uk

ETA: The MP for Torbay points out in the comments that Eastphalia is Paignton, not Brixham. Which makes more sense as Victoria Park and Crossways are both in Paignton. Um, about 5 minutes walk from the hospital where I was born. Oops. Thanks Adrian.
My old friend Gareth sent me a link this morning, the Torbay commercial radio station is running a competion in which my old Sea Scout group the 6th Torbay could win a Sea Swift boat. All you have to do is go to their crappy website and vote for them which, y'know, would be really cool.

I transferred to the 6th after I met Gareth in my first year at secondary school—I left my coat at their bring and buy and Mum used that as leverage to get me in to them. Given they're one of the best Scout groups in the country (hence the links to Britannia Naval College and the right to use the name) that was a rather fortuitous loss. Gareth's Mum had taught me to swim when I was really little, and his Dad is still their Group Scout Leader last I looked, which is cool. Many happy memories of messing about in boats around Paignton harbour, good to know they're still going strong.
I concur with Adrian, The continuing saga of Westphalia-on-Sea (twinned with Pessimisme, France) is absolute genius. It might not actually be about Torbay, but if it's not, then I pity the poor gits in the other town that have just as bad a track record as us. The first chapter In which we learn how Westphalia-on-Sea went into terminal decline just rings so true:
Westphalia-on-Sea was once the most popular and prosperous seaside town in England. Hordes of visitors from the Midlands, the North and even Scotland would fill its hotels and guest houses every summer. By day the families would crowd onto the beach and gradually sit closer and closer together as the tide came in, not really minding that it was overcast, and ignoring the children when they said they felt little drops of rain. By night the younger revellers would crowd into the town's nightclubs and drink sensible amounts of Bacardi and Coke or Watney's Red Barrel. These were happy times, when locals and holidaymakers would bond with each other outside late-night kebab shops, and the odd dispute over a taxi or a girl was easily settled by throwing someone in the harbour.
[livejournal.com profile] westphalia_sea, naturally. Directly elected mayors=a Bad Thing for small to medium sized towns. Especially ones that went Unitary for stupid reasons and have been ungovernable ever since.

A very nice place to visit my hometown. Definitely wouldn't want to live there at the moment.
El Reg reports:
Royal Navy bomb disposal experts were called to a house in Paignton, Devon, after a tip-off that 68-year-old Thelma Bonnett was rather ill-advisedly using a live First World War German shell as a doorstop
The Daily Mail informs us:
At any time during all those years, however, it could have exploded.
And local newspaper rag The Herald Express confirms:
it had been used by a pensioner as a doorstop for more than 20 years

I was born in Paignton. She seems to fit the demographics much better than I ever did...
[livejournal.com profile] a_sanders_myspc went to the Brit Award ceremony in his role as a Culture, Media & Sport Committee member. He's completely right about one of the headline acts:
The Killers were great, Snow Patrol impressed, and Oasis were… well many describe Oasis as a great rock n' roll band; to me they are just a wall of sound fronted by a couple of plonkers.
Never could stand em, and I lived in Manchester when they were getting big. Blur, now they were a good indy pop rock band. Oasis were just Beatles wannabes...

In other news, I've got a bit of coding to do, and I've got stuff planned this afternoon/evening. Tomorrow I'm driving back to Devon to collect more stuff (and also see some people), so I might be offline till late Sunday. Might be. Knowing me I'll end up changing all my plans, but, y'know.
Right, everyone knows I left Torbay because, well, it's a bit boring, right? Well, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] eldar linking to this, I now know that it's been proven, Torbay and Paignton are the top two quietest towns in England! OK, the study was on decibel levels, not things to do, but the point is sound:
Quietest
1 Torquay - 60.2 decibels
2 Paignton - 65.7 decibels
Actually, [livejournal.com profile] eldar is another example of how I like LJ. I hadn't heard from him since we both left school, although our parents are in touch. Then his wife commented on something I said in [livejournal.com profile] brits_americans, very weird. One of about 5 people from school I actually liked...

Anyway, some more links. Best explanation of how cricket works, ever:
By Googling a Six: If the ball, after being hit, rolls along the ground uninterrupted for fifty yards (a google), the team receives six points. (Named after Reg Google, Australian wicket-keeper who was so short that he was incapable of lifting the bat.)
And then, via [livejournal.com profile] theweaselking, Fundies say the darndest things! - Top 100 Quotes. No specific quotage for that one, um, there's far too many to chose from. Scary, innit?
Silly meme, so sue me )Given my mostly celibate lifestyle, I can only assume that I got tipped over the edge there because I didn't have an objection to dating multiple people. Um, I may have no moral objection to polyamory, doesn't mean I'm actually filled with lust. Written by stoopid moralisers I suspect.

Oh, new blog (again); met with Chris, another local blogger, in the local last week, we decided to pool effort and set up [livejournal.com profile] torbaylife. It'll be a group thing, so other local contributors welcome; [livejournal.com profile] waka_laka, interested in adding stuff from your, um, interesting perpective?
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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