“Don’t Panic” Saturday in Blenheim Park


blenheim park canvassing

Yesterday was, apparently, “Panic Saturday”. That sounds, to me, like nonsense in the order of “Black Friday”. But whatever. I was, yesterday, not braving the high street, but getting started knocking on doors in Blenheim Park, where I am standing for election in May of next year.

I have been eager to get started on my campaign properly, after kicking off leafleting last weekend, before 2014 is out. So with Christmas only five days away, what else to do but put on a warm coat and find some pavements to pound?

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10 “Orphans” (American Horror Story: Freak Show) [SPOILERS]


ahs freakshow

Haunted house. Asylum. Witches. Freaks.

Those are the four subjects of the series of American Horror Story so far. I laid them out like that earlier this week, and it struck me how far they’ve taken individual tropes of the horror genre and run with them. It’s an impressively simple idea, giving each series its own flavour, and just running riot.

This sort of anthology show isn’t really done any more. Aside from AHS, I mean. Seeing the same troup of actors in different roles, different situations, links them, but through the talents of the people involved. It’s an impressive beast if you think about it.

And since I’m reviewing it, I do tend to think about it.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

Tories/ Lib Dem coalition slashes Southend’s funding by £11 million


southend civic centre

Can you picture £11 million? I mean, actually picture it? In cash, in change, in whatever denomination you like. Can you see it in your mind’s eye?

I cannot.

But the number is one which I haven’t been able to escape. £11m is how much Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s funding has been cut for the 2015/16 financial year. £11m is how much less that the council have to spend on local services for Southenders.

So when you’re writing your Christmas thank you letters, don’t forget to thank the Tories and Lib Dems, and especially Uncle Eric at the DCLG. Because of them the council will have to make some tough decisions next year, and won’t be able to fulfil as much as it would like to to make your lives better.

Cheers for that.

Read on…

Have SpAds been campaigning for the Tories, paid for by the taxpayer?


cameron and may

The political news at the moment is filled with stories of SpAds (Special Advisers, basically bag-carriers and assistants to government ministers) being kicked off candidate lists by the Conservatives. Specifically, one of Theresa May’s SpAds has been removed from the candidate list by CCHQ.

It has been interpreted as a Tory civil war, between Theresa May and Downing Street. But I think there’s something a little more sinister emerging here.

I may well get a threatening letter from Tory chairman Grant Shapps for saying this, but could these Special Advisers have been working campaigning for the Conservative Party, whilst their salaries have been paid by you and I, the taxpayers?

Read on…

David Norman for Victoria


david norman

In a move which will surprise absolutely nobody, veteran Labour councillor David Norman has been re-selected by local Labour Party members to contest Victoria ward in the 2015 local elections.

I say that it will surprise nobody, because David is one of the best orators in the chamber, and has achieved more than almost any other councillor in the last year of his term. David is presently a member of the cabinet, with responsibility for Adult Social Care, Health & Housing. In that role he has overseen the building of the first council housing in Southend since the 1980s, as well as a review of the previous Tory administration’s decision to close care homes.

Regardless of your political position, David has been an unambiguous force for good, and a benefit to the town of Southend-on-Sea.

David said,

I have been privileged to have represented the people of Victoria for the past 14 years and have always sought to ensure that their views are heard in the Council Chamber. I have also helped many hundreds of residents with their problems. I would welcome the opportunity to serve for a further term.

Until very recently David was my local councillor. I have never found him to be anything but principled, hard-working and dedicated. He has served his residents diligently for fourteen years, and I hope that they will give him the chance to do so for four more.

08 “The Saint of Last Resorts” (Constantine season 1) [SPOILERS]


constantine title

It struck me watching this week’s episode of Constantine, that I don’t actually know how many episodes of the series there are. To my knowledge it hasn’t been renewed for a second series, and reports had said that there would be 13 episodes. If so, that means that there are another five episodes to go.

Which makes the pacing of the series seem a little odd.

The rising dark has been simmering away in the background throughout, and presumably is going to be a big part of the season climax. So a little more detail being fleshed out might be about due. Just saying.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

Charles Willis for Westborough


chas, anne and matt

Continuing my series of selection announcements for Southend Labour Party, I am delighted to be able to announce that Charles Willis has been selected by Labour Party members to contest Westborough ward in the May 2015 local elections.

My first bout of canvassing after moving to Southend was actually for Chas’ campaign in Kursaal. He unfortunately narrowly lost that contest, and I think most would agree that Kursaal ward is the poorer for it.

He will, I am sure, be a fantastic councillor for Westborough. On polling day I crippled my foot walking up and down the long straight roads which make up the ward. It was worth it, though, as the results saw two Labour councillors elected. I will be hoping for a repeat of that victory next year.

Chas said,

I’ll be working with residents to introduce the improvements they want to see in the ward and representing their interests at the council.

And I am confident that he will.

A Westcliff Christmas Gift


kevin robinson westcliff library tree

Yesterday afternoon, on my lunch break, I walked down to help set up a Christmas tree outside Westcliff Library. The tree is a gift, to the library and the local people, from the three ward councillors of Westborough.

This was the brainchild of Cllr Kevin Robinson, who said,

Westborough ward councillors have donated a tree to the community and placed it prominently outside the Westcliff Library. We would like to wish everyone in the area a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Community activism doesn’t always have to be a fight. Sometimes it is small acts of kindness.

Merry Christmas.

09 “Tupperware Party Massacre” (American Horror Story: Freak Show) [SPOILERS]


ahs freakshow

If American Horror Story were a religion, Jessica Lange would be its high-priestess. Her virtuoso performances throughout each of the series so far have made her almost synonymous with the show — to the point that there have been numerous articles posing the question of how and whether the show can go on without her.

If she indeed leaves.

But somewhat overlooked in that has been Evan Peters, who has been in each series from the beginning, but here seems to have taken on even more of a leading man role. We’re approaching the end of this season, odd thought that is to say, and I am newly enthused of his abilities to drive forward American Horror Story.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)