Robert Hampton

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November 2012

6th November 2012

I’m Robert Hampton and I approve this message

Mitt Romney once asked why aeroplanes don’t have opening windows. He once strapped his dog to a car roof for before a 12-hour drive. His gaffe-laden visit to London made Boris Johnson look statesmanlike by comparison.

Don’t let him anywhere near the White House, unless it’s on a guided tour. If you’re American, do the right thing today and vote for the competent incumbent instead.

7th November 2012

Barack O’Drama
Posted by at 11.03pm | In the News | No responses

Barack ObamaCongratulations to President Obama, who won a well-deserved victory. It was a close vote in the US, but we can collectively breath a sigh of relief that this intelligent, level-headed, moderately liberal man has been given another four years, and the chance to finish what he started.

Although Obama’s victory is great news generally, it is especially welcome for marriage equality campaigners in the US. The President declared his support for gay marriage back in May, and some commentators were worried that this would damage his chances. In fact, the opposite his true: Obama has been re-elected while his opponent – who made “traditional marriage” a cornerstone of his campaign – has lost.

Elsewhere, four states held referenda on same-sex marriage legislation. For the first time, the electorate voted pro-gay in all four votes. The talking point that marriage equality is not wanted by the public has been demolished, and I suspect that the President’s endorsement has maybe helped change a few peoples’ minds, or nudge undecided voters in the right direction.

I remember waking up on a cold morning in November 2008 and hearing Obama’s victory speech on the radio. I don’t mind admitting I teared up a little bit. I didn’t feel the same euphoria this time around, but the speech he made in the early hours of this morning is definitely worth a watch. Obama is gracious and articulate with a dash of soaring rhetoric – we desperately need a figurehead like this on this side of the Atlantic.

Much as I like Ed Miliband, I can’t imagine him delivering a speech like this.

13th November 2012

Bloody Brilliant Correspondents

There’s been a lot said about the BBC in recent days. I’m not going to try to say much about the botched Newsnight stories. There is already far too much noise over the issue, with the BBC’s critics using it as a political football. While Tory MPs, egged on by the Murdoch press, queue up to call for the dismantling of the corporation, they forget completely about the victims of the sexual abuse who should be the focus of the story.

I’ll just leave you with a couple of audio/video clips to mull over. First, listen to this relentless interrogation of George Entwistle by John Humphrys over the affair.

Compare that interview with the deference this Fox News host shows to Rupert Murdoch over the phone-hacking scandal:

Now, which organisation is demonstrating more accountability and responsibility?

There will be much more fallout from this scandal, but… Continuing to trust the BBC as my main source of news? No worries Mr Chairman, that’s fine with me.

14th November 2012

Ello x 3

The Police & Crime Commissioner Elections take place tomorrow across England and Wales (except in London). It’s an idea cooked up by the Coalition government, supposedly to make the police more “accountable”.

There are fears that turnout could be as low as 18%, such is the public disinterest in the elections. Despite the lack of enthusiasm from all corners, it is important that as many people as possible go out and vote. As Nina Kelly pointed out in the Guardian last month, a boycott of the police commissioner elections could let in extremists.

The Home Office web site stresses that “The operations of the police will not be politicised; who is arrested and how investigations work will not become political decisions,” but it seems obvious that even a symbolic victory for extremists would be a disaster.

So please vote on Thursday, for anyone but the crazies. There is more info on the Electoral Commission web site.

18th November 2012

Dumb Ways to Die
Posted by at 8.05pm | Fun, Trains | 1 response

This catchy song is, believe it or not, part of a railway safety campaign for Metro Trains Melbourne.

20th November 2012

This time it’s personal
Posted by at 11.42pm | It's My Life, Meta | 1 response

We’re just over four months away from “celebrating” the tenth anniversary of this blog. 22 March 2013 will mark a decade of my writing borderline nonsense on a little corner of the Internet.

The only problem is, I’m not sure I want to carry on for much longer. Ten years is starting to feel less like a milestone, and more like a millstone. Around my neck, that is.

Read the rest of this post »

27th November 2012

What I did today
Posted by at 12.21am | It's My Life | 1 response

I decided to treat myself to a Toy Story box set. Let’s face it: who better to spend money on in the run-up to Christmas than myself?

But when I went to Amazon, it told me that I had already ordered it. I have absolutely no memory of buying this item or receiving it, much less actually watching the films.

I thought maybe I had bought it as a gift for someone else and then forgotten about it. Then, however, I found the offending Blu-ray discs under the TV in my bedroom. Still in the parcel. Unopened. Since August.

I think I’m going slightly mad.

30th November 2012

National Inquiry
Posted by at 8.08pm | In the News | No responses

The Leveson Report was produced after 16 months of painstaking inquiries and questioning. David Cameron was very quick to dismis its central recommendation – that any new press regulator should be “underpinned” by regulation – almost immediately.

The issue of principle is that for the first time we would have crossed the rubicon of writing elements of press regulation into the law of the land.

We should I believe be wary of any legislation that has the potential to infringe free speech and a free press.

In this House – which has been a bulwark of democracy for centuries – we should think very, very carefully before crossing this line.

Misgivings there may be, but to so lightly sideline the key finding of the inquiry is a betrayal of all the victims who have suffered at the hands of irresponsible journalists. That includes the Dowlers, the McGanns, Christopher Jefferies, the Hillsborough families and – of course – the many public figures who had their phones hacked.

Newspapers have shown time and time again that they cannot be trusted to keep their own house in order. When cross-examined at the enquiry, many editors and journalists appeared humbled and promised to do better in the future. Will they?

I’m a big believer in freedom of speech, so I’m wary of any law which could infringe on that even slightly. The press play a key role in democracy by (supposedly) holding our elected politicians to account – those same politicians who have now been invited to draft a new press law.

On the other hand, I think it’s worth remembering that many of the big national titles are owned by large corporate groups whose main purpose is to make money and help their rich owners to exert political influence. If the worst excesses of their muckraking are curbed slightly, I don’t think that is a bad thing. With great power comes great responsibility, etc.

At 2,000 pages the full report is quite heavy reading, but the executive summary is worth a look.