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Some disjointed thoughts about the UK election )

And on the plus side, at least we can have an election in 7 weeks. America, take note ;)
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Last week, ChrisC and I got some post. It turns out to be a ticky-box survey each from Mr Cameron, asking for our opinions on how to run the country.

Since I've yet to find anyone else who's received this survey, I assume he has chosen us as his special advisers. I had no idea the Tory party was in such disarray.

Anyway, I've filled it in this morning. And written a snitty letter to go with it, pointing out that every single questions is at least one of (a) leading, (b) reductive, (c) intrusive or (d) plain stupid.

Argh. )
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Shall we have a little unscheduled boogie?

I think we shall.

Hefner - The Day That Thatcher Dies [link to mp3 expired]

Do I think it's right to celebrate someone's death? Actually, no, I don't. You might celebrate someone's removal from power, say, if it was brought about by their death. But I don't feel comfortable celebrating someone's death.

Especially not the death of someone who, despite the shadow they cast over my childhood, is borderline irrelevant on the political stage today.

It's a good song, though.
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Right. This post has been a month in the writing, so is hideously out of date. It's also hideously long, being mostly for my future-self's reference. You have been warned :)

The Shows I Saw At The Fringe )
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So, very shortly after the election I used the handy http://theyworkforyou.com mechanism to write to my MP.

She didn't answer, but I thought OK, fair enough, it's barely after the election, her mechanisms for these things probably aren't properly set up yet.

I wrote to her again today, asking her to sign EDM 210. The EDM is only relevant prior to the budget, and I realise I left it a bit late, but thought it was worth a shot - after all, she might get through her email to read mine in time to sign the EDM.

I've just received a reply from someone whom I infer to be a secretary, or similar, which has a twiddly graphic of the House of Commons portcullis and my MP's details on it, and says:

"If you are a constituent wishing to raise concerns or comments with me, please do so in writing (House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA). Please include your full postal address, telephone number and all relevant details."

So... er... my MP won't respond to email?

That's a bit rubbish.

Update I wrote to theyworkforyou, and they tell me that they were using a different email address for Angie Bray, and that they've updated their records now to use the one on her website.
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I suck at trying to engage with the political process.

Having established which constituency my new home is in, I've been assiduously learning about the candidates standing for election. Then I observed that leaflets were dropping through my letterbox for totally different candidates. Gosh what fools, I thought, canvassing the wrong people like that.

Except it turns out that the constituency boundaries are moving at the next election. I am (or will be) in a constituency which doesn't currently exist and has no incumbent MP.

Arse. I've been revising all the wrong people :(
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So, last night a controversial bill passed its third reading. This isn't obvious: even the BBC carries only a mashed-over story covering people's comment on what would happen if the bill were passed, with a sentence buried a couple of paragraphs in mentioning that it was passed last night by a majority of 142. Is there a rule about not reporting such stories until the Queen's corgi has formally licked it or something ?

As far as I can tell, via a friendly Guardian blog, the only people who showed up to the actual debate part were those who were against and Stephen Timms, the fantastically-titled Minister for Digital Britain; everyone else just trundled in at the end to vote with the Whips.

Can anyone tell me how to deduce which way my MP voted ? Public Whip doesn't seem to be having April yet.
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A couple of times recently I've mentioned http://www.theyworkforyou.com, and been surprised at the number of people who don't know about it. It's dead simple: type your postcode in, and get a random bunch of information (eg voting record on big issues, attendance record, links to speeches, contact details) for your MP.

This is what the internet should be for )
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Well, well, well. Mr Brown (Gordon, in this case) has issued the apology we were talking about the other day. According to the BBC, he agrees that the treatment meted out to Turing as a result of his homosexuality was - though legal - "utterly unfair".

A spokesperson for Outrage! has, quite reasonably, pointed out that if you're going to apologise to Turing you should apologise to the 100,000 less famous Britons who suffered similarly. And, though he doesn't mention it, presumably also to Oscar Wilde who is rather more famous.

The full text of the apology can be read in the Telegraph. It does make a passing mention of the many others similarly convicted, but stops short of apologising to all.

On balance, I think I like what Brown has written. Perhaps I should have signed that petition.
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If we assume that:

(a) most people don't bother voting in elections[*]
(b) people are more likely to complain when they don't like something than offer praise when they do

does it follow that parties like UKIP will always do well in elections for MEPs ?

[*] Turn-out figures show that about 1 in 3 people voted in the European elections last week.
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All together now:

Ten cabinet ministers, sitting on wall...
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According to the news this morning, David Cameron wants "all Conservatives to think carefully before they open their mouths", something many of us have been hoping for for some time.

It worries me that he's been leading the Tory party for nearly two years and it's only now - when they're criticising him - that he considers it important that his MPs start thinking.
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I've only just got round to reading the details of the local election results in Oxford. I voted, but I have to admit I found it terribly hard to care very much about these recent elections. My ward re-elected its Green councillor, but even had there been a switch to the close-running second (Labour), I doubt it would seriously have affected my life. Somehow it's difficult to believe that even had the council changed from NOC to one party that there would have been any appreciable impact on day-to-day life.

Whenever elections come round, I'm always reminded that I've only ever cared deeply about the result of an election once in my life, and that was the general election in 1987. I waited for the outcome of that vote in utter terror; I was ten at the time.

Junior school politics )
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These days, if you mention the words "identity cards" and "human rights' violation" in the same sentence you can be reasonably sure that a good chunk of the UK will froth righteously along with you.

Jumping on the bandwagon )

On a completely irrelevant note, the mother (who is always better informed than I) tells me that a Goth Eucharist is scheduled to take place at Whitby on Sunday. She didn't mention which church, but I assume it'd be St Mary's (ie the one at the top of the steps near the Abbey).

Can anyone tell me what on earth a Goth Eucharist is ? Aside from quick jokes about the transubstantiation of cider and black, what is the difference ? Presumably the implication is that no one will bat an eyelid if you go for communion in a corset, but apart from that... is it anything other than a name to let visitors know they'd be welcome ?

I've been to "folk services" there during Whitby folk week, which usually just means that the music is more folk-orientated than normal. The prospect of a goth service on the same lines makes me quail. Can anyone shed any light ?

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