Robert Hampton

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30th December 2010

Twenty Ten – again

What a year 2010 was! It had twelve months, each consisting of at least 28 days. On some of those days I made blog entries. Here are the highlights.

I began the year in January fretting about an alleged Crystal Maze remake starring Amanda Holden. This story fortunately turned out to be utter bollocks. Ginger people again proved that (yours truly excepted) they have no sense of humour or perspective. Britain experienced a deluge of snow, and Merseyrail impressed everyone by soldiering on throughout, a feat which they would surely repeat next time we experienced awful weather… right?

I finally joined the Wii owners’ club, just as the console stopped being cool. My rekindled love for video games did not result in me getting rickets. I also celebrated my first Twitterversary and cautiously welcomed the iPad.

I also took time to blog at length about a US comedian no-one has heard of over here, illustrating my post with YouTube clips which have now been removed for copyright infringement.

In more serious matters, the Haiti earthquake occupied people’s thoughts as a humanitarian catastrophe unfolded in the devastated country.

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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.

29th April 2010

Britain’s Bigot Talent

Whatever the outcome of the election, surely one of the defining images of the campaign will be the image of Gordon Brown sitting in the Radio 2 studio, listening to the playback of his “bigot” comment and looking, as the Guardian put it, utterly wretched. It just seems like a metaphor for Labour’s election campaign generally: hopeless, miserable and on the verge of giving up.

There was an even better image from the day, though, and it was the reaction of Gillian Duffy when she was told what the Prime Minister had said about her behind her back:

Screengrab from BBC News

Is Gillian Duffy a bigot? On balance, no. She was expressing concerns a lot of people have about immigration. I don’t agree with her, but the correct way to engage with people on the subject is through rational, reasoned debate, not name-calling.

Should Gordon Brown be vilified the way he has for a thoughtless comment uttered in the heat of the moment? No. Has the press reaction been predictably over the top? Yes. Will this change the way people vote? Probably not as much as you think: a new poll says half of the electorate don’t think worse of Brown after the incident. (this poll was commissioned by the Sun but the result not published by them — fancy that!)

The third debate starts on the telly soon. I fully expect David Cameron to attempt a lame gag about the incident.

1st January 2010

2009? More like Two Thousand and Fine!

July saw Merseyrail’s run of bad luck continue, as a train rolled out of the depot and derailed. To atone for their sins, they introduced a new day ranger ticket, but I wasn’t convinced. This was something of a train-y month for me, as I did my bit to help out the previous generation of Merseyrail trains. Trains were also on the Government’s mind, as they announced that the Liverpool to Manchester line would be electrified.

In London, the Police proved once again what a wonderful organisation they are. In Rome, a swimmer suffered an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction.

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10th November 2009

Lest we forget… to use Tipp-ex
Posted by at 9.08am | In the News, Politics | 1 response

For possibly the first time since he took over as PM, I feel sorry for Gordon Brown. He takes the time to write a personal letter to the mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan, and gets criticised over bad handwriting and a spelling mistake.

Most other politicians would have dictated the letter to a secretary and had it typed. A few would probably have even used a form letter. Gordon Brown made as much effort as he could reasonably be expected to, and let’s not forget he is blind in one eye and partially sighted in the other. But that hasn’t stopped the Sun from launching a vicious attack on the Prime Minister.

To make matters worse, when he called to apologise, the paper recorded the entire conversation. Labour have accused the Sun of exploiting the mother’s grief, and I think they’re right.

It’s par for the course for the Sun, obviously, but please bear in mind that the Tories seem intent on destroying the BBC and giving Rupert Murdoch free reign over the media if they win the next election.

13th October 2008

42 is not the answer
Posted by at 11.00pm | In the News | No responses

Well, good:

Gordon Brown tonight abandoned his parliamentary battle to allow police to detain terror suspects without charge for up to 42 days, after the Lords overwhelmingly rejected the proposal by 191 votes.

The bill will be held “in reserve”, so our civil liberties could still be eroded at some point in the future, but for now, at least, it’s dead in the water.

Now, how about scrapping those ID cards?

16th September 2008

Never a Frown with Gordon Brown
Posted by at 9.42pm | Politics | No responses

Amusing quote from this article, about minister David Cairns quitting the Government:-

Gordon Brown said he was “disappointed” by the MP’s decision but warned this was not a time for “internal debate”.

That’s good, because this debate has been anything but internal. Loads of them are at it!

Seriously, does anyone believe that Labour can win the next general election with Gordon Brown as leader? Does anyone believe Labour can win the next general election?

13th June 2008

Life, the Universe, and stuff
Posted by at 9.17am | In the News | No responses

Gordon Brown secured a slender Commons victory tonight when MPs voted to approve highly controversial plans allowing terrorist suspects to be detained without charge for up to 42 days.


Looking at this and other erosions of our civil liberties over the last ten years, I’ve been thinking — maybe it’s just our turn to be a dictatorship. Most European countries have flirted with it at one time or another, so why not us?

We wouldn’t be a powerful country that makes the world tremble in fear, but one of those crappy little states that everyone laughs at, like Turkmenistan. Look out for the month of April to be named after Gordon Brown’s mother soon…

15th November 2007

Always a frown with Gordon Brown

Oh… yay:-

Mr Brown said improved security would be installed at the country’s 250 busiest railway stations, as well as airports, ports and more than 100 other sensitive locations.

“Additional screening” of baggage and passenger searches were planned at some large railway stations and other “sensitive locations”, he said.

Welcome to Police State Britain. Meanwhile, any terrorists who want to blow up trains can get on at Edge Hill instead of Lime Street and avoid the security checks. Still, I suppose this sort of thing will impress the unthinking masses who buy The Sun.