Eastleigh: What are the implications for this swing-seat for the UK and Europe?


Well, if you haven’t already heard, the Liberal Democrats man Mike Thornton won the Eastleigh by election, with UKIP coming in a close second and the Tories Maria Hutchings (their very own version of Sarah Palin) trailing in at a miserable third.

Politicians, and I am sure they won’t get much sympathy here, haven’t had an easy ride of late. There is widespread dissatisfaction with the way the country is being run by the Coalition. The ‘Lib-Dems’ are fire-fighting allegations of sexual impropriety and mismanagement of complaints within their own party, the alternative of having Ed Milliband in power at a future date, when really we all preferred the other one (David) gives us the heeby-jeebies, and the Labour Party have had their own fair share of drama too!  All this inevitably means there is a veritable smorgasbord of crapola within the political system. Where does it all end?

What does this mean for the ordinary man or woman on the street? Well, it certainly heightens old and ever present prejudices and tensions about immigration. According to the Office for National Statistics, there was a drop (that’s right) a drop in the numbers of immigrants coming to live in the UK this year (from 247,000 in 2011 to 163,000 in 2012). However around half of Britons according to a study by Oxford University (http://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/briefings/uk-public-opinion-toward-immigration-overall-attitudes-and-level-concern) find immigration to be unpopular, and three-quarters of us would prefer the Government to be tougher on immigration.

Which lands us with UKIP coming a close second in an area that is predominantly (92.7%) white. In this context you can see why UKIP may have been chosen as a ‘protest’ vote versus the other grey matter of the competition. If the same thing were to occur in the General Election then the Conservatives would have something to worry about as would presumably any future immigrants.

But as they say statistics can be used to justify absolutely anything. Whilst I think the British Public want to be tough on immigration, I don’t think this means that necessarily negative attitudes towards incumbent immigrants follow this trend of tough love. As we are increasingly living and working in a multicultural society immigration is a present fact that we all need to accept. It brings a number of benefits in the shape of attracting workers with unique skills that aren’t present in British society, allowing us to embrace different cultures and ways of living, making us more rounded and ultimately tolerant individuals, in my humble opinion.

This is why I worry that if UKIP ever get into power, that much like the BNP or other extreme right-wing parties, they will foist an agenda on the British people that they didn’t sign up for, and don’t realise the long-term negative implications of. Especially with respect to EU migration, if we stop/severely limit the flow, then we are nowhere near powerful enough financially to make it on our own, the books just don’t balance that way. That is why I wonder if Nigel Farage will moderate his rhetoric and provide a more nuanced debate on what needs to be done to get Britain out of the economic slump without alienating our European neighbours. Maybe then, UKIP would be a viable alternative. Until then, I’m not holding my breath.


Horsing Around: What do you think of the Horsemeat Fiasco?

Let’s get textual shall we?

The issue of horsemeat has been rearing its mane (sorry with the horse puns, neigh I can’t help it) for the last month now, and it doesn’t appear to be dying down any time soon. People are either doing one of two things (a) buying stuff as normal (b) avoiding buyng meat from supermarkets (c) being a smug middle-class get who buys “organic” and from farmers markets anyway.

Moving on to farmers … so it seems as if they and the countryside alliance now have the perfect excuse to berate us members of the public for not buying British all these years. Whilst I have sympathy for our flat-capped friends and the restrictions they work under, the average farmer is a lot richer than the average punter if you know what I mean. It just seems a little patronising.

But that being said – if people are going to get hysterical about horsemeat then they should at least have the nous to check the label. They do have a choice not to buy the meat, although with the economy the way it is, for many families struggling on the breadline it would mean having to spend a bit more. I am not sure – it is a dilemma isn’t it?

What do you guys think?

An excellent article by Jacqui Moore on the ethics that we as journalists need to consider before publishing.

JACQUI MOORE making things happen

It’s been a bad week for the media industry. A man dies as he’s pushed onto a subway track and the only help he gets is to have his last moment’s photographed. A prank call by a radio station to a hospital results in a nurse taking her own life.

As members of the media we need to recognize that we have a responsibility – our actions can have serious consequences. Something I realized starting out in documentary film-making and investigative journalism.


The subway station incident is disturbing to me in more ways than one. Nobody, not the photographer or other strap-handlers, intervened to help the victim – a decision that will probably haunt these bystanders for the rest of their lives. The photographer (who claims he used his flash to alert the train driver that there was someone on the track) said it would be morbid of him to sell…

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Only mums use payday loans – Is Kerry Katona being irresponsible endorsing the use of these high interest forms of finance?


Kerry Katona photocall

“It’s like going to a hotel for a weekend break and asking the receptionist what it would cost to have the room for 12 months.” (Kerry Katona, article – Huffington Post)

I was listening to an interesting package on the radio about Celebs like Kerry Katona endorsing Payday loans.

I am in two minds about this. One the one hand, in this economy, some may argue that it would be churlish for us to deny Ms. Katona an opportunity to earn some ‘dollars’ and pay down some of her own debt. Kerry’s debt-problems have been well documented in the mainstream media, as she went bankrupt in order to write off some of her debt back in 2008. Unlike the majority of people, she has managed to keep up a fairly luxurious lifestyle since then. It is much like big corporations, who go bust to avoid paying a tax or whatever and then come back re-formed and reborn. Hallelujah!

On the other hand …. Kerry Katona is a public figure. That entails a certain level of responsibility, and she is looked up to by many mums and families as an archetypal single mother who won out despite a challenging life and problems.  So, really, should she be endorsing one of the most vexatious and problematic types of loans?

According to a study by Stepchange Debt Counselling formerly CCCS (see link to Guardian article) the amount of people using these types of loans has risen, from 7,841 in 2010 to 17,414 in 2011 and 25,476 in the first three quarters of 2012. The purpose of these loans is to cover short-term difficulties, but there is evidence that many people are using them for day-day expenses, simply rolling them over, and hence trapping themselves in a cycle of debt. There is also an argument that they aren’t open with you from the start, often quoting an annual APR (annual percentage rate). How can you judge the competitiveness of a monthly short-term loan when it gives you an annual rate? I must admit the image of nitting grannies for one well-known firm (I refuse to name them because I don’t want to give Payday companies the time of day, let alone free advertising) inspires warm images of a friend giving you a hand. However, the reality is that often consumers are trapped in a cycle of ever-increasing debt.

So, back to the original question – is Kerry Katona irresponsible in her actions? I guess the answer is if you were offered a big wad of cash to promote a product that could potentially harm many people would you? I think you would have to search your conscience. And I think that is where the answer lies – with Kerry’s conscience.

Here is Kerry’s response to the criticism (courtesy of the Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/kerry-katona/kerry-katona-pay-day-loans_b_2457204.html)


But what do you think? Comment on this post – don’t be shy!

SOURCES: Guardian, This is Money, Green Nobles.

Splash – the Follow-up.

I am going to be really brief here (pardon the swimming shorts related pun). I thought I may have been a bit harsh in my assessment of Splash on ITV1.

But nope …. my initial assumptions were confirmed when I attempted again to watch it. I caught about 5 minutes of it before I had to turn over. I am sure that Tom Daley is a really nice bloke and yes the exposure will be good for his public profile or whatever, but the programme itself is total codswallop and needs to take a dive off a short pier (see what I did there?)

Splash (Tom Daley) on ITV …. Rhymes with Gash/Trash …

Tom Daley

“Because the Olympics wasn’t enough of an opportunity to bore people with diving ….” (made-up quote)



Oh my goodness.

I nearly spat my tea out on the computer when I heard about this one. The point of this ‘reality’ show is to take a bunch of self-obsessed celebrities (cue too tight speedos – eww!!) and for Olympian Tom Daley to train them how to dive, they get ‘judged’ by Jo Brand (really?) and one of them gets voted off (aww). Even the name conjures up rather dodgy connotations of poorly maintained urinals. Splash, indeed. Drip, more like.

Firstly, it is a shame there isn’t a ducking stool for whichever ‘bright’ mind this awful idea for a show came from. If you rate success in terms of market share for the first episode, yes, Splash was a success. On all other counts, terrible concept that makes me want to tear my eyes out with a spork. And I doubt it will be a continuing hit. Who really wants to see a bunch of wannabee/has-beens (includes the judges) week after week in front of a massive swimming pool? The chlorinated (sic) factor is enough to make me lose my lunch ….


What do you think though? Did you watch it for the celebrities? Or are you strangely obsessed with Tom Daley? And are you hitting menopause right now? I’m betting the latter ….

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Daley_(diver)

Source: ITV

Interesting article from Iram Ramzan on the new Stalking Legislation …. what do you guys think?


Originally published for The Backbencher on 02/12/2012


ALICE (not her real name) was stalked for five years. Her stalker sent her husband poison pen letters, type- written in order to conceal their identity.  Everything was noticed and mentioned in detail: the car she drove, her clothes, the friends she had, the parties she attended, where she went, who she saw. Everything.

The letters proceeded with alarming regularity, often two in one month. Someone was out there, watching. The language was crude, offensive, personal and hateful.  It affected Alice greatly.  She’d walk through the town centre wondering, “Is it you…is it you? Are you doing this?”

Eventually, three years ago, she called the police, who she says were sympathetic. Although they made the right noises, the investigation was closed as they couldn’t find the culprit. Fingerprints were evident, but as the person wasn’t on their database the case was closed…

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