Robert Hampton

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May 2010

2nd May 2010

Those crazy Liberals!
Posted by at 12.40pm | Politics | 1 response

The Liberal Democrats’ recent surge in the polls has resulted in an awful lot of scaremongering about their policies. If you believe the Daily Mail (and I strongly recommend you don’t, about any topic), voting Lib Dem will result in Britain becoming part of an EU superstate, with all the sandal-wearing, gay-sex-having, immigrant-loving mayhem that would involve.

It makes very little difference to me, thanks to my living in one of the safest Labour seats in the country. But for those of you in marginal seats who are still worried about the consequences of voting Lib Dem, here are three of the biggest myths smashed. I strongly recommend you read the manifesto, if you haven’t done so already.

The Lib Dems will scrap the nuclear deterrent, leaving us less safe

They’ve not actually said they would get rid of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, merely hold a review into the replacement of Trident to see if a cheaper alternative is available. They’ve also stated that nuclear disarmament would be multilateral (i.e. as part of an agreement with other countries). Trident was designed during the Cold War — do we really still need to be pointing so many weapons at Russia?

They are going to have an amnesty for illegal immigrants

They are here, living and working in the shadows, often under the control of illegal gangs. An amnesty (which would be a one-off event, offered only to the English-speaking and law-abiding) offers illegal workers the chance to come out into the open without fear. They can then contribute to British society, work and pay taxes into the system — in other words, the exact opposite of the “spongers” that you read about in the Daily Express.

They will sell us out to Europe!

I hate to break this to you, but the British Empire no longer exists. Most of our trade these days is with the European Union member countries, which is why Britain needs to be an active participant in the EU and have a strong voice, not least so it can campaign for some much-needed reform. As for joining the Euro, the manifesto clearly states: when the time is right and only if the British people vote for it in a referendum.

Let’s not forget some of the other things they do want to do: scrap ID cards, scale back Labour’s surveillance state, repeal the Digital Economy Bill, encourage reopening of closed rail lines.

On many issues, the Liberal Democrats seem to be proposing to do what is right, rather than what is popular. That may well turn out to be politically inconvenient come polling day, but at least they will score a moral victory (note: under British electoral law, moral victories do not count for anything).

5th May 2010

I agree with Nick
Posted by at 1.04pm | Politics | No responses

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you’ll be aware that there’s an election tomorrow. If you’ve been following the election closely, you may be reaching the stage where you want to live under a rock for a month.

I sent my postal vote on Friday morning, the ballot paper enthusiastically marked for the Liberal Democrats. In the remainder of this post, I am going to set out the reasons why they have earned my vote and also why Labour should not win another term.

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6th May 2010

All over, bar the voting
Posted by at 6.08pm | Politics | No responses

As I write this there’s over three and a half hours left until the polling stations close. If you haven’t voted yet, GO AND DO IT!

Sign above a polling station: "Do not sit on the fence"

I am off to see Canary at the Liverpool Playhouse tonight, but will hopefully be back home in time to see the results pour in. I will be twittering away throughout the night (or at least until I fall asleep).

My own prediction? I’d love to see Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats win, of course, but it looks like the Conservatives will get the most seats. However, will it be enough to get an overall majority, or are we looking at a hung Parliament with all the apocalyptic doom that brings (according to the Daily Mail, anyway)?

There is real excitement here. Will there be a Portillo moment? Will Brown try to cling on and form a coalition? Will any of the small fringe parties have success? Anyone who says politics is boring is WRONG.

(picture above shamelessly pinched from the Guardian election live blog.

7th May 2010

The Afternoon After

Lib Dem signs

As I write this, we are looking at a hung parliament and everything is still very much up in the air as the various parties attempt to form a coalition.

The big disappointment from last night was of course the Liberal Democrats, who only increased their vote share by 1% compared to 2005. They failed to make any significant gains, and their comedy candidate, Lembit Opik, lost his seat. There will be a lot of analysis of what happened. I think that the third debate and the final week of campaigning didn’t go too well for the Lib Dems and caused them to lose the momentum. I also think that a lot of floating voters decided to back one of the big two at the last minute, possibly due to tabloid scaremongering about the consequences a hung Parliament.

David Cameron cannot possibly claim that this is a roaring success for him, after failing to win a majority against a deeply unpopular Labour government. His campaign has not been particularly brilliant and his “big society” idea seemed to scare everyone who managed to understand it.

If you went to bed and missed the excitement, don’t worry: I have a sneaking suspicion we’ll be having another election before too long.

10th May 2010

Don’t ConDem this out of hand
Posted by at 10.40pm | Politics | No responses

Welcome to the latest in an occasional series of “Hampo pretends his opinions matter”, this time talking about a potential coalition between the Liberal Democrats and one of the other parties.

Please bear in mind that I don’t like the Conservatives and I believe that David Cameron is wrong on many issues. Some of the Tory policies (repealing the ban on fox-hunting, for example) are downright awful. That said, I’m not a big fan of the current Labour party either, largely thanks to their relentless attack on our civil liberties.

The ideal situation right now would have been a landslide victory for the Liberal Democrats, with Nick Clegg ensconced in 10 Downing Street ready to lead Britain into a new Golden Age (THAT WOULD REALLY HAVE HAPPENED). A Hung Parliament (most disappointing porn movie ever) means that unpalatable solutions have to be considered, and I believe that a Con-Lib coalition is the best option for now. DON’T HATE ME!

The main reason is simple mathematics: whichever way you look at it, the Conservatives won the most votes and the most seats. Labour were second and the Lib Dems a distant third. A Lib-Lab pact would essentially be the two losing parties ganging up to stop the first place party from forming a Government. Excellent for the soon to be Brown-less Labour party, but not really brilliant for democracy, and it may result in voters deciding to punish Labour and the Lib Dems by voting Tory next time. Given that a new election can’t be too far off, and David Cameron was reportedly short of a majority by just 16,000 votes this time round, that can’t be good.

I’m not naive, I believe that whichever alliance is eventually forged, it can never be more than a marriage of convenience and will not last very long before one of the parties pulls out the rug from under the other. Still, we may get some long-overdue electoral reform out of it. Nick Clegg and his team have a big choice to make, and none of the options are particularly wonderful. It’s good this politics lark, isn’t it?!

If, like me, you’re still confused, the Telegraph has helpfully set out where the policies of the three parties overlap.

11th May 2010

Blown Up Out Of All Proportion
Posted by at 6.04pm | In the News | No responses

I was going to post about the ridiculous outcome of the Twitter “bomb threat” trial, but Graham Linehan has summed up the farce far better than I ever could.

12th May 2010

Bird is the word
Posted by at 1.18pm | Politics, Stage | No responses

Canary is a new play by Jonathan Harvey, playing at the Liverpool Playhouse until 15th May before going on tour, taking in Hampstead, Cambridge and Brighton.

(minor spoilers follow below)

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18th May 2010

The man on the Clapham (and Balham, Streatham, etc) Omnibus
Posted by at 1.18pm | In the News | 1 response

We finally have the answer to a question which has puzzled scientists for decades: what would happen if Boris Johnson invented a bus?

It’s only at the design stage, so it’s quite hard to judge, but I can’t see it achieving the same iconic status as the Routemaster. I’m also yet to be convinced that it is needed, other than to satisfy Boris’s anti-bendybus dogma.

In fact, watching the video I can’t help but think of that episode of The Simpsons where Homer is invited to design a car because he is allegedly in tune with what the average person wants… the resulting vehicle ends up being a hugely expensive flop.

Seriously, with three doors, two staircases and a wheelchair space, the lower deck is going to have room for approximately two passengers.

One postscript to the story is that about 20 ex-London bendybuses are heading to Liverpool to run services for Arriva, which caused the Echo to do a wonderful story about the DEATHTRAP BUS HORROR ON CITY STREETS (or words to that effect).

28th May 2010

Scotland on Sunday
Posted by at 8.59pm | Out and About | 4 responses

Tickets for journeys around Scotland

I think it’s fair to say that I’m not well-travelled. Some people have world maps pinned up on the wall, with a mark on each place they’ve visited. If I did that, it would be confined to the UK, and would involve mainly those places that are reachable with a Saveaway ticket.

So when my friend, Nuno, invited me up to visit him in Glasgow, with a trip to the remote Highland peninsula of Knoydart thrown in, I couldn’t say no. What better way to expand my horizons and experience some new places and sights?

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30th May 2010

Mallaig of Extraordinary Gentlemen

ScotRail West Highland Line timetable coverWe were up bright and early on Monday morning to head for Glasgow’s other main station, Queen Street. This is the starting point for services to the North, including the long and winding route to Mallaig. Armed with a bottle of Irn-Bru for refreshment (made in Scotland from girders… and E-numbers), we boarded a well-appointed ScotRail Super Sprinter and settled in to our table seat for the 5 hour, 2 minute journey ahead.

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