Are the Southend Independents now in turmoil too?


anne chalk

Whilst everyone — myself included — have been focused on the extraordinary implosion of UKIP in Southend, the Independent Party Group on the council have quietly been undergoing their own woes.

It’s easy to forget that the switch from cabinet to committee system was the pet issue of the Indies as well/before UKIP. And yet they scarcely did any better when the vote came up at the last council meeting. The Independent councillors in the cabinet either voted for it or abstained (Turkeys? Christmas? -Ed).

And now, the already loose alliance of cliques seems to be fracturing itself.

Read on…

10 “Lovecraft” (Gotham season 1) [SPOILERS]


gotham

Has it been ten episodes already? Wow.

Gotham has proved itself, I would say, a good investment on Fox’s part. They clearly thought so too, when they bypassed the pilot process and ordered a whole first season straight off the bat. I haven’t loved everything about it, but it has broken out of the mythos which might have been a prison.

It is still undeniably a part of the greater story of the Batman world; more, even, than I may have expected, but it has cut its own niche into the greater canon.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

Black Static #42 (Sep/Oct 2014) – A Review


black static 42

Nothing underscores quite how behind I’ve gotten with my reading, as much as the new Black Static dropping onto the doormat before I’ve even finished with the last one. Yes, I confess my shame.

It’s to do with a busy schedule, I would stress, rather than any particular flaw in this issue. My reading is apparently quite heavily reliant on the two hours daily that I spend commuting to work. A sizable chunk, in fact, of my life has been spent in the company of the pages of Black Static on trains, over the years. And it can get damn spooky on a rickety late night London Bridge to Brighton, with only cutting edge short horror for company.

A good way to make the time go quicker, at least.

Read on…

You can’t trust the Tories on the NHS


nhs bill debate

I know, I know, it’s a pretty tired old refrain.

Usually I avoid this sort of a blog for that exact reason. Trouble is, the Conservative Party will keep conspiring to prove the old adage true.

On Friday in the House of Commons, Clive Efford’s National Health Service (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill received its second reading. The bill would mitigate the damage done to the NHS by the Health and Social Care Act 2012 (also known as “The Lansley Act”) and protect it from being picked apart by privatisation, especially from the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Pact (“TTIP”).

The bill passed, by 241 votes to 18.

The low number of votes against, though, is not suggestive of support from all parties, but rather of the failure of Conservative MPs to turn up to the debate. As reflected in the above picture. I particularly note the absence of both of Southend’s Conservative MPs; James Duddridge and David Amess. I wonder what things they found which were more important than discussing the future of our National Health Service?

It’s worth remembering, then, as the election comes around just how little the Tories care about one of this country’s proudest institutions, and one of the most important concerns in modern politics.

05 “Danse Vaudou” (Constantine season 1) [SPOILERS]


constantine title

My reading of the Hellblazer comics is actually quite limited really. I read — and loved — the “Original Sins” collection, and have read odd other instalments. I am, though, better versed than many viewers will be in the backstory.

For many, their primer will be the Keanu Reeves film, which although I quite enjoyed it, is a poor introduction for the comics or anything really based on it. It’s not just that Reeves performance completely differs from the magician of the comics (It might be that Shia LaBeouf is in it… -Ed), but that so many things differ that it is hardly the same thing at all.

One thing, though, it did get right: the sense of heaven above, hell below, and the Earth in between. It’s a battleground, and we’re just the civilians caught in the crossfire.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

07 “Test of Strength” (American Horror Story: Freak Show) [SPOILERS]


ahs freakshow

There comes a point, inevitably, when the weird is no longer weird. This is the tightrope that American Horror Story walks. What was bold, new and terrifying when it started four years ago isn’t necessarily bold, new and terrifying today.

Partly this is due to its own success, but it does need to beware the potential pitfall of doing the same thing again and again with different settings and costumes.

So far the series has done exceptionally well at innovation. Since starting with the haunted house trope in the first series it has moved through a succession of different ideas. Freak Show does keep it up, but I can’t quite escape the suggestion that it might be starting to retread the same ground.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

Southend’s Victoria Gateway, and the “Shared Space”


I pass the Victoria Gateway “shared space” twice a day every weekday, on my way to the train station in the morning, and on my way home in the evening. For those who aren’t familiar, the stretch of road passing Southend Victoria station is on the same level as the pavement and very similarly paved. Not identically, but certainly making it more of a challenge to differentiate.

The obvious flaws in this design are, as I say, obvious; but essentially there is a reason why pedestrians and traffic are usually kept separate.

I wasn’t, then, surprised at the news of the young schoolboy hit by a bus on the shared space earlier this week. I do not know his status, but my heart goes out to him and his family. It is, without any doubt, a horrible tragedy to befall anyone, and having seen the speed at which buses come round that corner, I can unfortuantely picture just how such an accident could happen.

Unfortunately for those who would like to see it torn up and replaced with something adhering a little more to common sense, it cost an absolute bomb. So in these austere that is not likely to happen, however much sense I agree it might make.

That isn’t to say that some measures cannot be taken to improve the safety of this corner. Perhaps instituting a lower speed limit, or some way of demarcating the “shared” part. I don’t know, but it needs to be looked into.

I do know that the shared space was a poor idea when it was implemented, and time has not improved it.

Southend UKIP Civil War: First blood to Waterworth; Moyies is suspended


southend ukip civil war

When in a hole, the proverb goes, stop digging.

Clearly not a proverb known to Southend UKIP, as the civil war which has broken out between their parliamentary candidate Floyd Waterworth and leader of their council group James Moyies, continues to rage on. In the first battle between, the victory seems to have gone to Waterworth’s Roundheads*.

James Moyies, yesterday’s Echo told us, has been suspended by UKIP for six months.

Read on…

Kipperwatch! Mark Reckless and UKIP: more extreme than the BNP


reckless farage and carswell

Tomorrow, on Thursday 20th November, the people of Rochester & Strood will be voting in a by-election caused by the defection from the Conservatives to UKIP, and subsequent resignation.

Asked yesterday at a hustings about what would happen to the exemplar Polish plumber who had lived and worked in the UK for years, this was Mark Reckless’ response:

I think in the near term we’d have to have a transitional period, and I think we should probably allow people who are currently here to have a work permit at least for a fixed period.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a repatriation policy. Immigrants who have made their home in the UK, who work and who contribute to the tax take (and, statistically, immigrants claim less in benefits than do UK citizens) and who have been here for years, would be allowed to stay temporarily, before being forced to move on. Presumably herded onto planes and sent back to Poland, in the mind of Reckless and his leader Farage.

If that sounds familiar and far-right, then that’s because it is. The BNP have long had a similar policy of repatriation, though actually the one voiced by Reckless is more extreme. The BNP at least claimed that theirs would be voluntary:

The BNP will introduce a system of voluntary resettlement whereby immigrants and their descendants are afforded the opportunity to return to their lands of ethnic origin, assisted by generous financial incentives both for individuals and for the countries in question.

So there you go. UKIP are borrowing BNP policies and churning them out more extreme, more right-wing, and even nastier. Next time a Kipper gets all upset at being associated with fascists, remind them of this.