A Sunday afternoon walk



This afternoon, Little Man and I went for a walk in a neighbouring village.  Little Man has a real passion for the armed services and watched the D-day 75th anniversary commemoration with interest this week.  Only a few miles from where we live is the beach where the allied forces practised for D-day and the bunker, Fort Henry, where the commanders watched is now a listed and protected landmark.  However, you can walk into it freely and see the view across the bay.  Its moving to be in the same bunker where Churchill, Eisenhower, Montgomery and King George watched the military exercise, its very small and there is a sense of history and memories in the space.  The bunker is in a quiet spot and as you approach through a wood, there is a wildflower meadow, including poppies, just before the bunker.  Today, the view from the bunker is beautiful taking in the full panoramic view of the bay, so tranquil, with the only noise being wildlife and the distant hum of people having fun on the beach.  Such a contrast to the view that would have been seen in the D-day prep exercise.  In a week of worldwide commemoration, it was fitting to go somewhere local which had such importance to D-day and to take a little time to pause and reflect.


Euro Elections ’19


So another Thursday in May and another election, I’m sure for turnout and efficiency it would be far easier to have just one polling day.  It seems that turnout is expected to be low today; at our polling station there were half the number of tellers, boxes and booths from the local elections a few weeks ago, where the turnout was around 42%.

Personally, I think that this is going to be the biggest protest vote election ever and I don’t believe that the results will reflect what would happen in a general election.  Today angry people are making their vote, others disillusioned with politics are trying a different approach and many are not voting, through apathy or disgust at the current political situation.  Whilst I never reveal my vote, I’m one of those trying a different approach today, with Proportional Representation in place for European elections, my vote does count.  PR is a voting system I would like to see in British elections as it would remove the power from the two main political parties and offer a platform to many more.  We have to develop a more consensus approach to policy making on key issues such as Europe, the environment, social care, the NHS etc.. and our current system does not encourage this, there are too strong party lines.

With the results not due ’til Sunday night, there’s no late night election viewing for me tonight, just a wait for Sunday and the results.  We’re only one country in the European elections so for all the fascination in our results it won’t have a huge impact on the make up of the parliament, 73 seats of the 751 contested are for British MEPS.  However the results will arguably have more of an impact on our domestic politics and for a political geek like me more opportunities to question and ponder our political system.

The summer football came home


world cup

I love a World cup summer and I will watch every game I can.  I’ve always been a big football fan and until our move to the seaside I was a season ticket holder at Bristol City.  I’m not a huge premier league fan, that’s a whole different game, I’ve always followed lower league teams as the football community here feels a bit different and real.

My expectations for Russia 2018 were pretty low, I thought that given the reputation of some Russian ultra fans and recent problems that hooliganism would be rife.  There has been no hint of such violence and I’ve also enjoyed exploring Russia through the different venues, the hard, grey cities I imagined have been replaced by venues such as Samara which looked a lovely seaside city.

This has been the first World cup in which Little Man has been really interested in, he has collected his Panini cards, adorned his bedroom wall with posters, worn his England top and been able to talk about the teams and games with confidence.  His enthusiasm has been infectious, from day 1 he believed in the England team.  He had none of the cynicism and weariness of the adults and it was refreshing to see the game I love through such innocent eyes.  Little Man taught me about the players as he knew all the facts like names, clubs, age etc.  These players are his new heroes.  It was also the first World cup when Little Man got to go to a bar to see the game on a big screen and the fun of all the oohs, argghs and cheers, he loved it.  I also liked that we were at Grandad’s for the Panama game and all the goals and my parents watched the semi final with us too, football is about community and sharing the experience.  Whilst my daughter has watched the football too,  she has definitely preferred the social aspect of meeting up with friends.  She doesn’t dislike football, she simply prefers to play.

Sad as I am to admit it, I knew very little about the England team before they left, a team of young, internationally inexperienced players. I was hoping they would  progress through the group stages, gain some experience in a big tournament and be ready to really compete at Euro 2020.  Generally I think lots held similar thoughts, for once the media hadn’t hyped up the team and I think that’s why what happened seems rather magical, the England team just quietly and diligently worked hard on playing football.  As the results came in, the feeling of excitement blossomed, here was something new, a team of youth, with grace, talent and skill unburdened by expectations.  We also grew to love the quiet humility, determination and hard work of our manager, Gareth Southgate, an unexpected appointment which now seems genius.  It was a lovely feeling to experience and I’m so pleased that Little Man got to experience such a positive World cup by England as his first real tournament.

The World cup comes to a close this weekend and its been brilliant, new teams have emerged, the old footballing contenders were knocked out early, VAR has caused some controversy in the early games and the country has united behind our team again.  Its been a memorable tournament and I’m so proud that although we may not have brought the World cup home (but came so close) the England team have brought football home in reigniting our love for the beautiful game.



The General Election 2017

BBC logo 2017

I know the title of this blog post may not appeal to all, but I feel passionate that politics is something we should all value, its our decision making process and reflects the values and hopes of our communities.  This is not a party political post, I never share my vote with anyone, but simply my reflections on this year’s campaign.  I did a similar post in 2015 and have found it interesting to read back.

This has been a fragmented campaign and not followed the themes I had expected, it has not been an endorsement or rejection of Brexit whilst the domestic themes of health and education have not featured as highly as social care and policing.  There have been two terror attacks in the campaign which have disrupted and altered how campaigns have developed.  However I feel all campaigns have felt quite lacklustre and dull.  Labour under Corbyn have offered new, promising policies but there is nervousness about costings.  May has played a poor campaign, the longer it goes on the less she appears the strong and stable leader she  portrays herself as and the campaign lacks substance.  The Liberal Democrats were embroiled in a debate from the start about Farron’s religious views and have never recovered whilst UKIP are only a very small player now.

 As I try to do every election, I attended my constituency’s hustings, this is such a brilliant opportunity to witness politics and the questions were really thoughtful and relevant.  The hustings takes place in our town’s largest community building and is always full.  We are not a marginal seat, one of the safest conservative seats in the country but there is respectful and considered debate.  Interestingly, our mp who works hard for his constituency, disagreed with many conservative actions and policies because of their direct, negative impact on his constituency as a very large rural area.  On issues such as education funding, NHS cuts, public transport links, affordable housing there was a consensus among the panel representing conservatives, labour, liberal democrats and greens.   In fact there were few opposing views in the hustings except on Brexit, where our mp was a prominent leave campaigner and the Lib Dem candidate rejected the party line.  The standout star of the evening was the Green candidate, he wowed us all and gave us a glimpse of what politics could look like if we moved away from the two party alternation of power.  His ideas on health, housing,  education were superb and his performance has really had me reflecting on our political system and how we could develop a more collaborative approach to politics.  This collaboration was something highlighted by all the candidates to address the real issues facing our country, most notably social care.  I was impressed by the Labour candidate too, I think she may be a rising star in the party just not in our constituency.

So now a little prediction for fun!  I don’t think the political map will change significantly in this election.  The opinion polls have been varied and I think the conservatives will be the largest party but not with the landslide they were predicting at the start of the campaign.  I don’t see significant gains for the liberal democrats and think the labour party will actually be even more confused about its future, Corbyn has had a positive campaign and he does have a vision and philosophy which he has shared far more than May. He is a marmite leader but the Labour party needs a leader who unifies.  In my little opinion, we’ll have another conservative government but I also think there will be another election before the next scheduled in 2022.   I’ll update this post with the results after my all nighter on Thursday, I love election night (well not Brexit night!)

Hustings 2017

Word in a Month June : Referendum


Photo from http://www.jmbullion.com

There was no hesitation in choosing a word for June, it is the word which has dominated most conversations, referendum.  I hoped that the referendum would allow fair, balanced debate of our position in Europe and with a remain vote secured, resolve the issue which has overshadowed party politics for years. I can’t believe how wrong I was on all counts.  Brexit created the fear and anxiety among voters to encourage a ‘victory’. The result has left the continent in shock and led to a seismic shock in our political culture. It is the most significant event in British politics in my lifetime and I feel so sad and hollow about the result.  Perhaps in the future we’ll look back on this period as the changing point of British politics and it will be seen slightly differently as it is now.  It’s just hard to imagine a positive outcome from such a shocking result.

In or Out?


As I have written before, I am a bit of a political geek although its something only those really close to me know.  Politics does seem to be one of those topics you simply don’t discuss so I explore it through Radio 4, broadsheets and social media.  Social media is wonderful for allowing me to engage with other like minded individuals and I love the wit, remarks and reflection of Twitter.

There was never any doubt how I would vote in tomorrow’s referendum.  I was born in the year we joined the EU, studied languages and European politics at university, lived in Europe for a year, have seen the value of EU grants in some very deprived areas and schools in which I have worked and believe that we are more successful when we work together to achieve our goals.  This doesn’t mean that I am naïve to the weaknesses of the European government and there are significant issues to be addressed on  how the institution works, but I believe that change must come from within rather than outside.

I was looking forward to the Europe debate but to someone so passionate about politics it has sickened me with its vitriol, hatred and scare mongering.  It has not been an arena of political discussion but has encouraged extremism and fear.  Immigration should not have been the prime focus of the campaign, the EU is about so many more important themes, trade, rights, etc.. yet the Leave campaign and its spiteful rhetoric has put this at the heart of everything.


At the weekend, when we ventured across the country, I was genuinely shocked when I  saw posters stating we want our country back.  I am a proud Brit and appreciate the culture, spirit and innovation of our modern society, our country has evolved and I don’t want the Great Britain of last century, I want the multicultural, quirky, respectful GB of today.   I don’t think the Leave campaigners understand the modern, digital world, we cannot survive with a policy of splendid isolation, countries have a lesser role in a world where some multi national corporations have bigger budgets than states, where the Internet has made borders irrelevant, we are not the great power they want to believe we once were or could be again, its a different world.  I  am worried about the future leadership of our country if leave is successful as I don’t think the leaders of the Leave campaign have the integrity, intelligence or innovation to lead our country as inevitably they will in time. This has been another of the failings of their campaign, there is no one that I believe could lead a strong, powerful, inclusive nation.

This referendum is being defined by generations and a high turn out from either young or older voters could swing the polls either way, with the young supporting the in campaign heavily.  Our mock referendum at school reflected the result among other schools across the country, a resounding victory for remain. Perhaps there is hope for our future generation of politicians and decision makers!

I will vote tomorrow and I have no doubt that I will then be awake all through the night for the result, I only hope its a sweet dream and not a nightmare result.