What, no mention of the election result??

What is there to say? Labour back in – no surprise there. Greatly reduced majority – good news, or it would be if the Tories hadn’t taken so many of the seats. Interesting that the Tories took those seats due to a swing from Labour to Lib-Dem, rather than Lab to Tory… Lib-Dems did well but not as well as some predicted. Took a couple of very key seats (Hornsey being about the highest profile of them).

It’s nice to see that Michael Howard is stepping down. Hopefully whoever takes his place will be less overtly racist in their policy formation. While I dread the idea of a Conservative government again, a weak opposition is really bad for democracy. Good riddance to Howard and his race-baiting immigration policies.

‘Tis a shame the Greens didn’t get in in Brighton – they did get a load of votes, and it bodes well for the next election. I just hope that some miraculous thing transpires where we switch to Proportional Representation – that way, we would have green MPs, a vote for the Greens wouldn’t be wasted, and the Lib Dems would just about double their number of seats… though it would also give the BNP a voice in parliment… hmmm, maybe we need stronger laws about racial hate-speech. Glad to see the BNP didn’t get any MPs, and their highest number of votes in any constituency was less than 5000… still, the thought that there are 5000 people in Barking willing to vote for a fascist party is pretty frightening.

Will Blair go? i doubt it. Nice to see some MPs sticking their heads over the parapit and calling for his resignation. Would Brown be any better? Who knows. Sad to see Blunkett back in – off the scene for 5 months, and now all is forgotten apparently. I haven’t forgotten his draconian insanity in his time as Home Secretary, so dread to think what he’ll do in his new role as Work and Pensions secretary.

Basically, it looks like being business as usual for president Blair – a few vaguely contrite words about learning from the election, followed by more of the same. *sigh*.

SoundtrackSheila Chandra, ‘Moonsung’ (I can’t ever imagine getting bored with this album, it’s perfect); Steve Lawson/Jez Carr, ‘Conversations’ (not listened to this for a few months, very nice to pull it out again and have a listen – I’d forgotten how lovely some of Jez’ playing on it is).

Well, I voted…

I stood in the voting booth for a long time. Probably three or four minutes, deciding between Green and Lib Dem.

Eventually went with Green. for a number of reasons. Firstly, and most obviously, their manifesto is the one I felt the strongest affinity with – they certainly seem like the genuine left-wing option these days.

Secondly, Chipping Barnet has been a Tory seat for years, and the main players are Tory/Labour, so voting Lib-Dem would be unlikely to have a big influence. It also means that even if we get a tory this time round (old MP is standing down at this election), it doesn’t mean a gain for the Tories, just same ole same ole.

Thirdly, I hate the idea of tactical voting. I’ve done it in the past, I can see the reasoning for it, but it’s really shitty having a system where people don’t feel they can vote with their conscience. All the polls suggest that the Greens would get way way way more votes if they were all counted as with proportional representation. As it is, few people vote green before they don’t feel like it counts, so they switch to the one of the Big Three that they think is least odious. That’s a really rubbish way to do democracy. Dreadful, in fact.

So, I voted according to conscience. I did it. The greens won’t get in, but in the analysis, the powers that be will see that they got my vote, that I didn’t cave in and vote tactically, that I cared enough about the green way of doing things that I spent my vote on them.

Feels good!

SoundtrackMichael Manring, ‘Soliloquy’ (very hard to get this one out of the player once it’s in, and not because of some manufacturing fault with the disc!)

Election day…

So go vote! Whichever way you choose to vote, do it!

Bumped into a Labour dude handing out leaflets outside the tube station on Monday, and got into a bit of a chat. Told him I couldn’t possibly vote labour after an illegal war that caused the deaths of countless thousands of Iraqi civilians. If that war had been on Liverpool, he’d be in prison now. But they’re foreign so it doesn’t matter as much. My arse.

His reply was ‘I can’t argue with you there, but this election is about so much more than that, we can’t let the Tories back in’. True, the election does have a lot more going on than that. However, sanctioning what amounts to murder is a pretty big hurdle to surmount in the mental gymnastics required to convince me to put a tick next to a party candidate’s name on a ballot paper. The thought of the Tories getting in fills me with dread, it really does. All reports suggest that that won’t happen. Thankfully, Michael Howard’s campaign of inducing fear based on racist lies about immigration, talking almost exclusively about ‘illegal immigrants’ as a parasitical presence, not as people fleeing persecution, or just desparate for a better life. Rarely if ever mentioning the country’s huge need of a new workforce, with our own population greying, the birth rate dropping, and the public services needing a big injection of skilled workers…

Anyway, voting Tory clearly isn’t an option. Voting for the Labour party isn’t an option. My heart says vote Green – their manifesto is closest to my own convictions. My head says vote Lib-Dem – they are the ones most likely to make any kind if difference. We’ll see what happens when I get there. How I can still be this undecided minutes away from voting? What a weird scenario. Voting Labour used to be so easy – they were the party of workers, of unions, of taxing the rich to help the poor, of solid public services… And aside from a few MAJOR cock-ups (PPP being the most heinous of them), they’re record in the last couple of terms has been OK. Not great, but they do seem to be implimenting some policies that favour the poor. The airport expansion is a bit bogus, the mess that the rail and tube network are in is rubbish, schools still need more money, hospitals need to be brought back from the PPP firms that are ruining them, private contractors who make a balls up of building schools/hospitals/bridges/whatever else need to be held accountable for their mistakes, tardiness and missing deadlines. There are some really bad things, and some good things. But over all that, The war.

SoundtrackMichael Manring, ‘Soliloquy’; Mike Watt, ‘The Secondman’s Middle Stand’; Miles Davis, ‘Cooking… and Relaxing with the Miles Davis Quinet’; Victor Wooten, ‘Yin Yang’.

A plea to all musicians with websites…


It’s a total pain in the arse if you’re trying to do anything else at the same time, takes ages to load, can mess up people’s media players if they’ve got them running at the same time… JUST STOP IT!

Have a button where people can CHOOSE to listen to you. If you embed music into your site to launch immediately, I will just close the window and not bother reading any further, OK? I’ve usually got something that I’ve chosen to listen to playing on iTunes and I don’t need your low res samples messing that up! Just gimme the option to download it, then convince me with text and style and panache why I should want to.

on the front page of my site, I have a link to a streaming MP3 selection from all my solo albums – which people can choose to click on or not. Or they can go to the MP3s page or the CD shop and listen to samples there. In their own time. When they aren’t trying to listen to anything else.


SoundtrackCalamateur, ‘Tiny Pushes Vol II’ – a free download album, far to good to be free, get it from the website.

…and while I was watching SuperSize Me…

…the leaders of the three main parties were being interviewed over on Question Time – thank God for the BBC archiving such things, so we can all watch it online, and find out what was said…

The election is next Thursday, DON’T FORGET – the polling stations open early, and are open ’til late.

I’m a big supporter of exercising your democratic right to vote. Not least of all because low voter turnout helps the fascists, and we don’t even want the BNP to get their deposit back, let alone get any kind of political kudos for a good placing. (they aren’t actually going to get any MPs).

However, having read some of the stuff on notapathetic.com, I can see some great reasons for not voting. People who see it as an insult to their right to vote for them to have to choose between three flavours of dogshit, people who feel like a low voter turnout will show just how disillusioned we all are with UK politics (we could well be heading for the lowest voter turnout ever anyway). It’s an interesting site, and well worth a visit.

As it is, I’m going to vote – my approach is vote for the best you can find, and then hassle them to do a good job. It’s like the US election – Kerry was hardly the most glowing lefty on the political scene, but at least he could have been called on to instigate some policy decisions that were in keeping with the democratic tradition… Trying the same thing with Bush, you’d just have to suggest that he be a little less obvious about his military action abroad, and take the Reagan method of backing right wing paramilitary groups instead of sending in your own troups for anything other than training…

Anyway, I digress – please vote, keep the Tories out – they need to know that spreading racist lies is no way to run an election campaign – and let Blair know that illegal wars that lead to the deaths of over 100,000 civilians are not acceptable, and can’t be supported. I’d suggest checking out either Lib Dem, Green, SNP, Plaid Cymru or whoever else offers an anti-war alternative (I can’t bring myself to back Respect, the unlikely alliance of the Muslim Association of Great Britain and the Socialist Workers Party – I’ve never been a fan of the SWP, and don’t like political groups with a strict religous agenda – smells too much like the GOP in the States…)

Soundtrack – more of me and Cleveland.

Election message…

What should we do when an election gets dull? Do what we always do – take the piss – here’s a great lil’ video message, having a pop at Tony, dubya, Blunkett, Howard, Kilroy and just about anyone else involved in politics. Top stuff.

And the message at the end? Go out and vote. Simple.

Soundtrack – Jim Hall/NHOP, ‘Chops’; Francis Dunnery, ‘Man’.

A quick round up of some election related goings on…

Firstly there’s whoshouldyouvotefor.com – a series of online questions (rather obvious ones relating to specific pledges in the different party manifestos) that tells you who you should be voting for. obviously, I came out fairly staunchly lib dem on this one…


Who should I vote for?

Your expected outcome:

Liberal Democrat

Your actual outcome:

Labour -30
Conservative -75
Liberal Democrat 108
UK Independence Party -24
Green 58

You should vote: Liberal Democrat

The LibDems take a strong stand against tax cuts and a strong one in favour of public services: they would make long-term residential care for the elderly free across the UK, and scrap university tuition fees. They are in favour of a ban on smoking in public places, but would relax laws on cannabis. They propose to change vehicle taxation to be based on usage rather than ownership.

Take the test at Who Should You Vote For


Interestingly, the leader article in today’s New Statesman is all about how the Lib Dems are no longer a wasted vote, and if they do well they could hold the balance of power in a hung parliment, which is great news! So, go and vote for them on May 5th! 🙂

Er, what else? Ah yes, there’s some scumbag Tory lying turd MP who doctored a picture of him supporting the case of a local asylum seeker to look like he was campaigning against immigration – now Michael Howard is refusing to sack him. Rotten to the core.

And on that note, check out the torybusting going on on this blog – some really doctored posters, and some photoshop. The tories’ campaign this time is horribly targeted. I think this one says it all –

They can’t get in… can they??

What else? Ah yes, The UN human rights commission have concluded that kids in Iraq were better of under Saddam. Yes, that’s right, that murdering, torturing amoral scumbag did less to ruin the lives of the children of iraq than the illegal invasion and occupation have. Despite the fact that then they were living under UN Sanctions, so very little of anything was getting into the country. Now, I guess it’s getting in, but they are having to pay ‘western prices’ for stuff that previously was being subsidised. Ah, don’t you just love free market economics, especially when kids die as a result. Just watch those shareprices skyrocket. Get out that one, Blair.

And on that note, tonight is the Make Poverty History/Trade Justice Movement all night candle-lit vigil in Whitehall, calling on the government to apply pressure to the World Bank and IMF to modify trade laws in favour of the world’s poorest nations, to cancel debts and increase aid. The opening ceremony thingie in Westminster Abbey is going to be marvellous. then there are fun things going on all over the Whitehall area all night. Be there. see the Trade Justice Movement website for the details.

SoundtrackThe Works, ‘Beware Of The Dog’ (I’ll write more about this later, it’s fantastic!); Antonio Carlos Jobim, ‘The Wonderful World Of Antonio Carlos Jobim’; Phil Keaggy, a a live gig from a church in California – skip to about 37 minutes through, unless you really want to watch 37 minutes of Californian mega-church stuff going on. The gig is fab, and features some of the most nifty looping I’ve seen in a long while, using a JamMan and one maybe two DL4s.

Racist's hall of shame

Just got an interesting email through from Unite Against Fascism, listing the BNP’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ – pretty much shows up what they’re about for the coming elections:

  • Tony Lecomber: top BNP official. Three years jail for nailbomb
    plot and three years for stabbing a Jewish teacher.
    12 convictions in all.

  • Kevin Scott: north east BNP organiser. Convictions for
    assault and threatening behaviour.

  • Paul Harris: Barnsley BNP council candidate. Convicted of
    using threatening behaviour towards a pensioner.

  • Jason Douglas: leading Greater London BNP candidate.
    Convicted football hooligan.

  • Warren Bennett: BNP chief steward.
    Convicted football hooligan.

  • Stephen Belshaw: Amber Valley BNP
    candidate. Convicted of attacking a
    Jewish solicitor.

  • Colin Smith: south east London BNP
    organiser. 17 convictions including burglary,
    car theft, possession of drugs and
    assaulting a police officer.

  • Darren Dobson: Oldham BNP council candidate.Convicted
    of racially aggravated assault.

  • Frank Forte: Waltham Forest BNP member. Convicted of
    actual bodily harm.

  • Paul Thompson: former Durham and Darlington BNP
    organiser.Convicted of criminal damage and for violence.

  • Neil Keilty: BNP member. Convictions for possessing an
    offensive weapon and threatening behaviour.

  • Gary Mitchell: former Sunderland BNP secretary.Convicted
    of racist attacks and possession of offensive weaponry.

So, that’s just about all that needs to be said. Mark Thomas last year posted a list of some of the remarkable acheivements of the BNP local councillors up north – most had never even attended any council meetings.

I can’t imagine that any of the erudite creative delicious people who read this Blog would be voting BNP, but the thing to remember is that they benefit greatly from low voter turn out, so make sure that you and everyone you know goes out to vote in the forthcoming elections!

Soundtrack – Dave Matthews/Tim Reynolds, ‘Live At Luther College’; Tom Waits, ‘Blue Valentines’; Terry Callier, ‘Speak Your Peace’; Cocteau Twins, ‘VictoriaLand’.

the revelations from Iraq just keep on coming…

So the death toll of Iraqis who’ve died in US custody in Iraq now stands at 108 according to this BBC report – 25% are being investigated as possible abuse cases.

Here’s the breakdown –

“The AP found that of the 108 deaths in US custody:

  • At least 26 have been investigated as criminal homicide involving the abuse of prisoners
  • At least 29 are attributed to suspected natural causes or accidents
  • Twenty-two are blamed on an insurgent mortar attack on Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in April 2004
  • At least 20 are attributed to “justifiable homicide”, where investigations found US troops used deadly force appropriately – primarily against rioting, escaping or threatening prisoners.

Those are pretty horrific statistics. 29/108 dying of ‘natural causes or accidents’ – what kind of set up are they running??? Accidents doing what? Natural causes? are they imprisoning sever asthmatics without access to medication? that’s a huge percentage to attribute to those two factors.

And the ‘justifiable homicide’ – justifiable in the way that the shooting of an Italian intellegence agent was ‘justifiable’??

It just goes on and on, the list of crimes being committed, the collapse of the rationale in the first place, the further information about the illegality of the British government’s case for war.

The biggest tragedy is that the next election won’t be a proper referendum on the war – Blair has taken us into this mess, but the alternative if we vote him out is so grim.

I just hope that between now and the election the Lib Dems come up with enough good stuff and media profile to dent both parties. They were the only ones that were anti-war all along, and do seem to have the most coherent policy set for this election. I just fear they don’t have the internal infrastructure for government.

Soundtrack – Pat Metheny/Charlie Haden, ‘Beyond The Missouri Sky’ (one of the most beautiful albums ever made); Alison Moyet, ‘Greatest Hits’.

Yet more reasons not to vote Tory

As if we needed them!

Taking a leaf out of George Bush’s book, today the Conservative party leader Michael Howard announced that he’d back a change in the law on abortion.

Now, Michael Howard having an opinion on abortion is no bad thing – I’m rather glad that he’s concerned. What is a HUGE problem is him turning it into an election issue. This is clearly in response to observing how single-issue voting helped the right in the US – by turning the election into a conflict about abortion, gay marriage and stem-cell research, the republicans mobilised millions of conservative religious people in the US, who considered those issues more important than protecting the poor and the enviroment…

The lunacy of Howard’s pronouncement here is that Abortion has always been a free vote in UK parliment!!! – it’s never been a partisan issue. The various lobby groups involved are cross party, and no party has ever applied the whip to try and get a particular result.

So his motivation is clearly to divide opinion and paint Labour as child-hating murderers… What a loser, what a party full of losers.

I really really wish we had a stronger opposition in UK politics. Labour have got very complacent and started doing some really stupid things (the war being the most obvious example) – a strong opposition is good for the democratic process. But Michael Howard is such a waste of time. I’d hate to see the Tories get back in in the UK, but I’d like to see them push Labour harder than they are.

this is so lame – the US election was a farce because ‘people of faith’ were blackmailed into supporting a party that embodied virtually no ‘christian values’ but talked the talk of ‘personal morality’ – they give tax breaks to the super rich and make life ever harder for the poor, pollute the enviroment, crap on the rest of the planet, wage unjust wars and are fronted by a moron, but they were elected by scaring right-wing so-called-christians into voting against abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research.

Those are all really important issues, but not deciding calls in an election, especially not a UK one.

Email your local MP and tell them just how crap this is.

Soundtrack/, ‘Get Happy’; Tom Waits, ‘Foreign Affairs’.

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