Robert Hampton

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August 2011

3rd August 2011

Parliamentary Privilege
Posted by at 7.55pm | Television | No responses

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has been covering the phone hacking scandal extensively. However, if you’re in the UK, you wouldn’t have got to see much of their coverage, because More4 was forced to pull a recent episode off the air, having fallen foul of a rule prohibiting the use of Parliamentary footage in a satirical or comedic context.

It’s a ludicrous state of affairs, and Stewart’s response (reproduced below) is exactly appropriate.

Also, I really want a Mattessons Pork Sausage for some reason.

5th August 2011

Captain Competition
Posted by at 10.32pm | Films | 2 responses

So I went to see Captain America tonight. Wow, Chris Evans has really changed, hasn’t he? Hard to believe that it’s the same person as the scrawny geeky guy who presented The Big Breakfast every morning. He’s done well for himself.

I won’t spoil the plot, but my favourite part of the whole film was the moment where half the people in the cinema pointed at the screen and whispered to the person next to them, “this is the part they filmed in Liverpool!” – seriously, it’s disguised really well, with New York skylines digitally inserted into the background, but as someone who travelled to school along the Dock Road on a daily basis for six years, the imposing outline of Stanley Dock Warehouse was instantly noticeable.

I’m not a fan of 3D films, but the effect here wasn’t appalling – and yes, there was one moment where I flinched because I thought something was flying at me. I’m probably slightly less anti-3D now than I was a few hours ago. I remain unconvinced that it’s anything more than a gimmick to sell tickets, without adding anything to the film.

So anyway, yeah, it’s a film that’s out now.

7th August 2011

Liverpool Pride in Tweets

Liverpool Pride 2011 logoYesterday was Liverpool Pride 2011 which I attended with my friends Scott, Andrew and Jamie. It was an amazing day and a fun time was had by all. It was great that the event was able ahead despite budget shortfalls and an enforced change of location.

I was going to do a full write up of the day, but my heat-of-the-moment Tweets from yesterday seem to capture the atmosphere quite well, so they are reproduced below for posterity.

10.33am: Why is there no “Straight Pride”?

11.01am: Sufficiently disorganised that I managed to leave the house without my phone. Quick dash back and I’ve missed the train I wanted to get.

11.33am: Crowds are gathering! #liverpoolpride

Photo of people assembling outside St George's Hall

12.05pm: And we’re under way! #liverpoolpride

Liverpool Pride marchers get under way

12.14pm: #liverpoolpride

Photo of Liverpool Pride marchers

Read the rest of this post »

9th August 2011


London has experienced days of rioting in various parts of the city, there was disorder in Liverpool last night, while tonight Birmingham and Manchester are under attack.

From watching the near-continuous news coverage, I have come to a terrifying conclusion: our notion of “law and order” only works if most people behave themselves without intervention. Once you have a sufficiently large group of people with no respect for authority, the system breaks down and the police are easily overwhelmed.

The chickens are coming home to roost. For decades, social issues have been left to fester, leaving us with areas of high unemployment and high crime, where many people exist without any purpose or direction in life. This situation has been perpetuated by successive Conservative governments (who simply didn’t care) and Labour governments (who cared deeply, but failed to get to grips with the problem).

Now to compound the problem the Government is pushing through vicious budget cuts: not just to front-line services like the police and fire brigade, but also to services like youth clubs and other community organisations. And then they act surprised when it blows up in their faces.

Tough-sounding soundbites from Theresa May and David Cameron won’t solve this: it requires long-term thinking. Unfortunately this sort of thinking is not favoured by politicians and their friends in the tabloid press. We will see demands for the return of National Service, calls for water cannons to be turned on the rioters, and wails about the Human Rights Act. The actual root causes will not be addressed, and the problems will be stored up again for next time. Repeat ad infinitum…

17th August 2011

Not fare
Posted by at 9.43pm | Trains | No responses

There has been lots of complaining in the press about higher train fares after it was revealed that ticket prices could go up by an average of 8% in January 2012, with some routes going up by nearer 13%. It has been suggested that the cumulative effect of these rises will see prices jump 30% on some routes over the next three years.

The Government says that this is necessary to reduce state subsidies and provide funds for investment in the railways. However, if the government was really serious about reducing the burden on the taxpayer, it would acknowledge the elephant in the room: British railway privatisation has failed.

When I say failed, I mean it has failed to deliver any of the wonderful benefits that we were promised. We were promised freedom from state control – in practice, Department for Transport civil servants now micromanage nearly every aspect of today’s railway. We were promised more value for the taxpayer – state subsidies for the railway have increased dramatically. We were promised better services – the results have been inconsistent at best, and the improvements that have taken place could have been achieved by British Rail, had the political will and funding been there.

What is so frustrating is that the Labour government could have easily fixed this. By the time Labour swept into power in May 1997, the privatisation process was almost complete. However, with their huge majority, Labour could have easily reversed the privatisation. The Government could have taken the drastic step of legislating to immediately renationalise, or it could have taken the easier option of letting each franchise run its course and renationalising each as it came to an end. Had they done this, by now most of the railway would have been back under state control.

Sadly, the Labour party desperately wanted to avoid being seen as an anti-business, socialist party, so the privatised railway structure remained largely intact with only some minor tweaking. Now the Tories are back in charge, and more wide-ranging reform will probably happen – reform that will almost certainly not benefit the average fare-paying passenger.