Kipperwatch! U-splits in Essex UKIP


It’s a universal truth that all political parties are coalitions. The Labour Party, for example, is a coalition of old Labour traditional socialists to modernist “Blairite” factions and everything in between. The Conservatives have (a declining faction of) one-nation-type Tories, ideological Thatcherites, and further right almost-nationalist types.

The Liberal Democrats are still broadly divisible into the Liberals and the SDP, with a mix of those who joined when they were a left-of-Labour party, and have since pretty much melted away. And the Greens are an alliance between the middle-class, tree-hugging liberals of old, and old socialist elements floating around since Kinnock declared war on Militant Tendency.

But UKIP — UKIP have perfect the mongrel art of the political party. Farage is a sometime-Thatcherite, with a taste for the little Englander world-view, whilst UKIP’s first, and at time of print sole, MP is more of a classic liberal. And in elections in the north of England, they have been manoeuvring to be an Old Labour replacement.

So with such a varied composition, it can be no surprise that there are ideological fault-lines all over UKIP’s topography. And they seem to be coming to a particular head in South Essex.

Read on…

09 “Flatline” (Doctor Who series 8) [SPOILERS]

doctor who peter capaldi

The Doctor is in!

Okay, so I don’t want to be premature, but I have to say that the last few episodes have seen a bit of a good streak from the classic BBC science-fiction series.

Peter Capaldi has brought a much-needed change of tone to the series, which admittedly has taken a little while to find secure footing, but now that it has we seem to have ended up with a more serious, darker Doctor. I have seen some complaint that it isn’t really aimed at children any more. With which I disagree.

It is darker, true. But children can handle that. This is the sort of thing that I would have lapped up as a kid, and indeed did, through watching some of the incredibly dark classic episodes. We need to approach children’s entertainment like this, trusting them to find their own way.

So with my colours nailed to the mast, let’s hope this week’s episode doesn’t disappoint.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

Kipperwatch! Has UKIP already reached its peak in Thurrock?


Thurrock is just down the road from Southend. About fifteen miles or so from my door, as the crow flies. And to go there, to listen to UKIP it’s already theirs. They did indeed do well in the local elections in May, but then they did well in Southend without much of an idea of what they were standing for.

Tim Aker, the UKIP MEP for the East of England and candidate for Thurrock, is even going on Newsnight and describing Thurrock as “his seat”. Which is presumptious, given that it’s a three way marginal which he hasn’t won yet.

But it illustrates a point: they think they’ve got this sewn up. So in a by-election in a Labour council seat, a week after coming within six hundred and twenty votes of winning a safe Labour parliamentary seat, they’d look to storm it and win in a landslide.

Funny that they lost, and by a considerable margin.

Read on…

02 “Massacres and Matinees” (American Horror Story: Freak Show) [SPOILERS]

ahs freakshow

My verdict — sans spoilers — the first episode of Freak Show was in short: good, creepy, not perfect, but extremely promising. Which probably sums up my thoughts of each season’s première. Sucking me in is what American Horror Story has managed to do unlike pretty much any other show I’ve seen.

The result is that I’m prepared to forgive mid-season lulls, which was Coven‘s main issue. I know that each season has had its lovers and loathers, and it has something of a Marmite effect (Which, ironically, I can take or leave… -Ed). I can understand the criticisms, but somehow the series always wins me over.

In one way, this is a plus. But it does give Freak Show a bit of a mountain to climb. “Monsters Among Us” was a strong first step, but there is still a long way to go until Kendal Mint cake at the summit.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

Debating debatable debates

leaders debates

I’ll lay my cards out straight off here; I’m not much of a fan of party leaders debates in the run up to general elections. We have a parliamentary, not a presidential, system in which we do not elect our heads of government. We elect our representatives to parliament.

What would, in my opinion, be more helpful would be 650 individual debates, one in each constituency in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. That way people can see the candidates that they can actually vote for going head to head, and make the best choice for their local area.

Time was, these were called hustings.

That, however, isn’t going to happen. Unless David Cameron feels he can somehow chicken out of the debates completely, some variation upon the head-to-head party leaders’ debates of 2010 will be happening.

So what would be the best arrangement?

Read on…

04 “Arkham” (Gotham season 1) [SPOILERS]


Is it possible for Gotham — a Batman-prequel following Jim Gordon and a childhood Bruce Wayne — to simultaneously appeal to fans and non-fans of Batman?

I may be the wrong person to answer that, but I think that it certainly can. So far it has walked the line between the knowing nods which would excite fanboys and annoy the uninitiated, and solid character building. I have pointed out in previous reviews that I am not the most knowledgeable when it comes to Batman-lore, but many of the Easter eggs I have gotten, and those which I haven’t have been signposted clearly enough that a quick Google brings me up to speed.

The reason for this little discourse is the title of this week’s episode of Gotham. “Arkham” will mean a lot to Batman fans. To those who are tuning in for a crime show, because CSI or Midsomer Murders or whatever (Are those the only crime shows you know? -Ed), will probably recognise the significance a little less.

Or maybe I’m being patronising. On with the show, then.

Read on… (and mind the spoilers!)

Heresy of the Week – Not everything needs to be a “mega-franchise”

dracula untold

Heresy of the Week is a (mostly) weekly spot in which I entertain some of the unthinkable notions of geek-culture. The arguments I put forward are not always things I personally agree with, but often rhetorical devices designed to force myself (and maybe readers) out of the boxes which fan discussions can get caught in. But that aside, feel free to get yourselves worked up and your knickers in a twist if you really want to.

This week’s heresy:

“In a sea of stupid film studio ideas, Universal’s plan to build a franchise of monster movies, to ape Marvel’s success with a mega-franchise is the blue whale of unnecessary idiocy.”

Read on…

What a Cory-motion


Blimey, I’ve never known so much fuss over a waste collection contract.

(And, for anyone who has been following my blog from the early days, and who remembers that one of my first forays into local politics was over changes to the, err, waste collection contract in Wokingham — yes, I appreciate the irony)

When Mark Flewitt made an opportunistic attack on the failure of current waste collection providers Cory Environmental to make the shortlist for the new procurement contract, it was pretty much par for the course, right down to the mangled metaphors. But, it turns out, that he isn’t the only one.

Read on…

Would a Southend MP ‘go kipper’?

amess farage duddridge

If Douglas Caswell’s meet the new boss, same as the old boss” routine in Clacton doesn’t give twitchy Tory MPs the nudge they need to jump ship, then Rochester & Strood might. In Clacton, Carswell’s personal appeal undoubtedly won out. Mark Reckless, however, has all the charisma of a two week old helium balloon. If he wins his by-election, then UKIP can actually claim to offer right-wingers a decent chance of re-election.

In such an event — which at this stage is far from a certainty — the fear that Grant Shapps can put into his ranks (Who on earth is afraid of Grant Shapps?!! -Ed) will dissipate, and Tories will start to examine their majorities and ideological leanings, and weigh up where they would be happier.

So what of Southend’s two MPs? Are they likely to abandon the yacht Cameron for the SS Farage?

Read on…