Posts Tagged ‘election’

2015 General Election

Sunday, May 10th, 2015 | Religion & Politics, Thoughts

Well, that was unexpected.

Red Ed stood up for working-class people, promising to tax the rich and break big businesses strangle hold on the media. And the people of England said “no thanks”.

I eventually came down on the side of no for the Scottish independence referendum, mostly because without Scotland Labour would be crippled and we would end up with a Tory majority government. What a waste of time that turned out to be.

It’s a shame to see not a single independent won a seat on the British mainland.

On the plus side though, my buffet went quite well. Freshly baked bread, crisps, twice-baked potatoes, Sniff’s favourite meatballs (a Moomin recipe), chicken wings and Devil’s food cake meant that we were able to eat solidly from 10pm to 4am and still have plenty for breakfast.


Standing for election

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015 | Religion & Politics

I wanted to document some of the challenges I had had registering myself as a candidate. It’s not impossible, but if you haven’t done it before, there are definitely some things you need to be aware of.

You do not have much time between the election starting and getting your forms in. Leeds City Council opened submissions on 1 April and closed them on the 9th. However, this was over the Easter weekend, so you actually only had 5 working days to submit them.

I downloaded the forms from their website and then went to the town hall to hand them in. The man on the front desk said I could give them to him and he would pass them on. However, the next day the elections office phoned me back saying that I had filled out the wrong forms and I had to submit them in person.

This was on the 2nd, and on the 3rd they closed for Easter, so I had to go down on the 7th and get the forms back and make an appointment for the 8th to submit them. This left me only the evening on the 8th to get them all filled out.

This is all doable, though it is very difficult if you have a job. They are only open 10am to 4pm and because they are busy during elections, you have to go down and speak to them if you want a response. When I tried to phone them back on the number they had called me on I got an automated message saying that the number was Leeds City Council, but you had to phone the “published number” and then hung up on me. The problem is they do not publish any numbers. I had to go onto their live chat to get their number, and then the number said it was going to be over 20 minutes before they answered it.

Again, none of this is impossible. However, it is difficult if you have a job. I am quite lucky that I work in Leeds and my current client is fairly flexible. However, there is clearly a lot more that could be done to make the democratic process open to ordinary working class people.


I’m running for election

Saturday, April 11th, 2015 | News, Religion & Politics

Yes, it’s official!

If you are in the City & Hunslet ward of Leeds you can vote for me for Leeds City Council. I’m standing as a candidate for the Official Monster Raving Loony Party.

You can find my personal manifesto here.


The leaders debate

Thursday, April 9th, 2015 | Distractions, Religion & Politics, Thoughts

How dull.

Where exactly was the debate? There were a few topics, each candidate then said what they stood for in turn. That isn’t a debate. Has nobody who conceived of this show actually seen a debate or understood what a debate is?

There was a bit of back and forth between the candidates, but nobody really got to the meat of it. There were no real discussions of the advantages or disadvantages of different policies.

Nobody even said that much about their policies. If you didn’t already know what each party stood for, would you have watching that? Think of all the Green policies for example. They were hardly mentioned throughout the two hours.

Two of the candidates are not even fielding candidates in most of the country. According to The Guardian, one of the most popular questions after the debate was “can I vote SNP in England?” The answer is no.

Thus the SNP seemed mainly there to chip in “we’ve already done that” when an English politician put forward a good idea. That should probably be a wake-up call – we do trail Scotland on hospital parking charges, prescription charges and preventing letting agents from charing unscrupulous fees.

The one thing that Nigel Farage got right was that he was the only person saying something different. As person after person trailed out the message “we want immigration and to be part of Europe, but we want tighter controls on it”. Their answers blurred into one. Farage was the only person with something different to say. Is that the debate we wanted? One where Farage, king of the bigots, is the one offering an alternative?

Everyone else was too scared to step out of line. Nick Clegg pushed the boat out by asking the rich to pay “a little bit more.” It would have been far better if Natalie Bennett had at this point screamed “we’re going to make the rich pay loads more!” and Cameron to jam in “I think my friends pay quite enough.” But they didn’t.

In summary then, it felt like a complete waste of my time to watch it. Maybe we would be better to have a two party system with the ghost of John Stuart Mill running one party and Arthur Scargill running the other.

A Very British Election

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014 | Religion & Politics

“Hello, welcome to the polling station. Are you voting fraudulently?” “No” “Okay, wonderful. Go right ahead then”.

Sounds ridiculous of course. However, in the UK, that is pretty much what we do. Without bothering to ask the question explicitly. In some parts of the country they were apparently turning EU citizens away saying they had not completed a UC1 form whatever that is.

That certainly was not the case in Leeds. The two non-British EU citizens I spoke to said they had the same experience. No one asked to see their polling card. No one asked to see their ID. They didn’t even need to know their own name.

When Elina went down to the polling station she was armed with her polling card and password. However, she didn’t need either. They just asked for her address. She could have given any. After she did that, they read out her name and asked if that was her. She said it was, and was given a ballot paper.

I’ve never tried electoral fraud, so I am not an expert in it. However, I can see a few ways in which this system would be undermined. For example, I could have given my neighbours address. Very easy when you live in sequentially numbered flats. Even if they had then asked me to confirm my name, I could have just read it upside down while they were looking for the address and given it back to them. And all of that is only based on a scenario where I don’t know the name of my neighbour.

Luckily, because everyone in Britain is totally honest, this isn’t a problem.

Area speech contest

Friday, April 25th, 2014 | Public Speaking

Last week I had the pleasure of going to Sheffield for the Toastmasters Area 15 International Speech & Evaluation contest. At said meeting I was elected as next years Area Governor. It remains to be seen whether that counts as winning or not ;). Congratulations to Billal, Jane, Gail and Pauline who proceed on to Division.

West Yorkshire Humanists AGM

Sunday, June 30th, 2013 | Humanism

Earlier this month, the Humanist Society of West Yorkshire held their AGM. Congratulations to Moz who was re-elected chair, Chris who was elected secretary, Martin who was elected social secretary and Brian who was elected Bradford SACRE rep, as well as Paul and Bob L who will be staying on as well as myself as treasurer.

It was a momentous occasion as Bob T stepped down after 34 years as secretary. That is longer than I’ve been alive! He was a founding member of the society 46 years ago and also served 18 years as treasurer – an incredible service to the society! Bob is now moving to York and we wish him all the best.

As a small token of our appreciation, we presented him with engraved tankards for himself and partner Mavis.


After the AGM, Gerald presented a talk entitled “Interned as His Majesty’s Pleasure” in which he described how his family was interned on the Isle of White during World War II. This is despite his family being Jewish and hating Hitler more than we did! Sadly, this was the case for many German Jews who had fled Nazi Germany.

Four more years

Friday, November 23rd, 2012 | Religion & Politics, Video

Take a deep breath in, we’ve done it!

Another four more years. Then my mum can retire! Also, there was something else that we were celebrating four more years of, but it slips my memory. Here is a bad recording to remind us why…

Changing of the guard

Sunday, May 6th, 2012 | Humanism

I recently attended the Atheist Society‘s AGM. It was good to see a strong turnout and some real enthusiasm. Although perhaps not as high as in previous years and with only one contested position, it was never the less good to see that there are plenty of people in the society who want to make it a great year.

Congratulations to James Gupta who was elected President, Will, the new Vice President, Monique, the new Secretary, Amy, the new Treasurer and Hugh, the new Generic Committee Member.

General election

Sunday, May 16th, 2010 | Religion & Politics, Thoughts

I have to say, the general election was rubbish.

I had to queue for 40 minutes to vote. I actually really regret that now, as much as you should participate in democracy, no metric when you think about it would actually have been worth a whole 40 minutes of my precious time given that Hilary Benn was always going to win the seat for Labour once again.

But yes, that footage of everyone queuing outside Trinity Church in Leeds, that was me. Well, that footage wasn’t me, I did it earlier in the day, but much like everyone else I went at first (around 6pm) and saw how long the queue was so I thought I would come back two hours later when the queue had died down only to find it had gotten even longer.

The error in my logic was thinking that most people didn’t live in the city centre and so would be voting at around 6pm as they got the bus home from work, passing through town of course. It was only later I realised how silly this was – obviously if they were bussing it home to somewhere else, they would be in a different constituency.

In my defense though, having looked at the queue I believe most people would have thought the same thing – it was full of shabby looking poor lower-working class people so my instant reaction was that they obviously couldn’t afford to live in the city centre and must just be voting here and then going back to whichever slum they live in. I still think this is probably the case and just the Leeds Central constituency stretches father than I realise.

And then after all that, I stay up all night to watch the election and we don’t even get a real result.

I think the biggest argument for our current electoral system is that if we switched to proportional representation, most election nights would be such a massive anti-climax. I stayed up until about 5:30 because all the interesting results – the Leeds ones for me obviously, Brighton Pier, Barking, Buckingham and Oxford West took absolutely ages to declare.

Indeed the only one I managed to catch while in some state of consciousness was when Oxford West was announced, only to find out that very disappointing Dr Evan Harris had lost his seat. And thus was the death of science and evidence based policy in the House of Commons.

What a massive disappointment all round really.