Month: May 2015

06 “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” (Game of Thrones season 5) [SPOILERS]


game of thrones season 5

 

It’s notable what season length can do for a series.

Contrast with Gotham, which seemed to drag on for-bloody-ever. With Game of Thrones we are now on episode six of 10, more than halfway through. It still gets me sometimes that there have been five seasons. I remember watching the first, and I’m sure it can’t have been 10 years ago…

Nonetheless, a lot has undeniably happened. I feel like I ought to offer some sort of “Previously, on Game of Thrones” with these reviews.

Nah.

Read on… (and mind the spoilers!)

Spoilt Ballots


ballot box

I am in favour of spoilt ballots.

Not as an alternative to voting (Or, indeed, voting Labour -Ed), but as an alternative to not voting. But for those people who tell me that they don’t plan to vote, that they can’t — or won’t — support any of the parties or candidates on the ballot paper, then my advice is always to spoil their ballot.

The simple reason is that spoilt ballots are counted. The number is recorded in the results. The number of those who abstained, who didn’t turn out, is not. It fades away into the background.

Active protest always trumps passive protest.

There were 14 spoilt ballots in the Blenheim Park election, which is a fairly standard number. In Southend West there were some 145. Most are unremarkable things, but one sticks in my mind. On one of the Southend West ballot papers some joker had drawn a representation of male genitalia. They had done so next to the name of the Labour candidate, Julian Ware-Lane.

And because it was drawn within the box next to his name, it was decided as decipherable a vote for Mr Ware-Lane. So irony of ironies, the cock-in-the-box was counted as one of Labour’s 8,154 votes.

You do, it turns out, have to spoil your ballot correctly.

Avengers: Age of Ultron – A Review


avengers age of ultron

I didn’t see the first Avengers film until it came out on DVD. Or it might even have been Netflix, actually.

It wasn’t a conscious avoidance, and I still hold up the lead-in — Captain America: The First Avenger — as one of my favourite of Marvel’s phase one films. I think, on some level, I just struggle with the tentpole, beauty parade idea of the Avengers films.

I get the idea. It’s nice to bring all the heroes together, and not have the inevitable “What the hell is everyone else doing whilst Christopher Ecclestone mullers London?” questions arise. But there’s something conceited about them, something like playing to the gallery. It doesn’t feel like it’s challenging anything or pushing any boundaries. It’s simply giving the fans what they want.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But I’m not going to pretend that I’m not looking forward to Captain America: Civil War a lot more than Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Read on…

Kipperwatch! Goodbye Southend UKIP, hello New-KIP


reservoir ukip

In the election campaign, I speculated rather freely on whether James Moyies and the other outcasts from Southend UKIP would go over to the Independent Party Group. After all, Moyies was expelled and the others roundly condemned by the Dear Leader Farage.

But despite members of Clan Moyies being amongst the Independent Party Group’s candidates at the local elections just gone, that isn’t how things have panned out. No, flush with UKIP-proper’s abject failure in Southend (Third in both constituencies, and no gains on the council -Ed) Moyies et al have decided to start their own party grouping in the council chamber.

So farewell Southend UKIP; enter New-KIP.

Read on…

Constantine cancelled


constantine title

So in all the election excitement I missed this little piece of bad news: Constantine has been cancelled.

I can’t say I’m particularly surprised. It hadn’t done well in terms of ratings, and when NBC’s other shows were renewed, it wasn’t. Which is a shame, really, because although it wasn’t perfect it had potential, and had been on an upward trajectory throughout.

It’s not “dead” dead yet, apparently; there’s an outside chance that it could be picked up by another network (A campaign backed by Captain Kirk, no less -Ed), but it remains to be seen whether anyone will pick it up.

For now I’m not holding my breath. Time to bring out the last rites, I think.

05 “Kill the Boy” (Game of Thrones season 5) [SPOILERS]


game of thrones season 5

We’re at the halfway point in the series now, and so far this is shaping up to be the best season yet.

There is so much going on that these reviews seem to be getting longer and longer, still with subtleties woven into the story. I’m impressed at how well they seem to be coping with the myriad strings of story, and how distinctively Game of Thrones it still feels.

At the same times, it feels for the first time like we’re into the real meat of the grand story. I can feel it deepening, without undue haste, with each episode. Mainly it’s through the fact that not a second seems to be wasted, no more time spend plodding about with insignificant characters doing not much at all.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

Thank you, Blenheim Park


matt dent for blenheim park

The problem, I think, with a secret ballot is that I have no idea who the 947 voters in Blenheim Park are who I have to thank.

I’m being flippant, of course, as I‘d in no way ever want the secrecy of voting jeopardised. But I am sincere in my thanks.

Thank you, each and every one of you. I cannot describe the feeling of watching ballot papers unfolded with a cross by your own name. The act of someone putting their faith in you like that gets me somewhere deep down in the feels.

When the votes were tallied up, I polled at 947, and came in third. I suppose I should be disappointed with that, to not have won, but to be honest I’m so damn pleased that it’s easy to forget that I didn’t.

After five months of campaigning, 947 people thought that my promise of grassroots, in-touch representation was something worth casting a vote for. 947 people thought that Labour policies of house-building, protecting services, creating a better future, were worth putting their cross besides.

Over the last five months, I’ve walked a lot of miles, and had a lot of conversations. Many of those people, of course, didn’t vote for me. I don’t value the conversations any less for that little fact. I’m happy that I got to meet them, talk to them, find out what mattered to them.

Because I maintain that that is the only way to get people engaged with politics. If politics is disconnected from people, why should they connect with politics?

My sincerest congratulations to James Courtenay on his re-election. And my thanks to my fellow candidates for the clean fight, and to everyone who helped me in my campaign; too numerous to list, but invaluable and unfailing in their support.

I suppose I should be disappointed not to have won, but I enjoyed my time campaigning in Blenheim Park so much that it’s hard to think like that. Thank you to everyone who voted for me, and I look forward to getting back on the campaign trail.

04 “Sons of the Harpy” (Game of Thrones season 5) [SPOILERS]


game of thrones season 5

When the first four episodes of this series of Game of Thrones were leaked online, I made a conscious decision not to binge them all.

I’d like to be able to claim that it’s out of some great commitment to copyright and respect for the law. But to be honest, I just didn’t think I could cope with a three-to-four-week wait between episodes four and five. I’m impatient like that, and the wait for season five itself was bad enough.

Was I vindicated in my decision? This episode ought to show us.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

As the dust settles pt 2: the picture in Southend


ballot box

I’ve already blogged some of my thoughts on how the general election panned out, but I wanted to look at Southend separately, because the same truths don’t all apply.

Whilst I wouldn’t describe Southend as being a Labour landslide, the truth is that the local party did buck the trend. In the two constituencies we performed well, increasing our share of the vote in Rochford & Southend east by 4.4% and in Southend West by 4.9%. Given that the national picture was one of a Labour wipeout everywhere outside London, the Southend team are feeling justifiably pleased.

I’ll break it down by party, I think.

(more…)

As the dust settles, part 1: the national picture


ballot box

Well that, my friends, was an unmitigated f**king disaster.

I barely know where to start. There won’t be any glossing over on this blog, because frankly there is no glossing over this. Labour were preparing for government on Thursday, and on Friday the Tories have a majority.

I don’t really know what went wrong. Clearly the majority of the British people were not convinced by the policies that Labour were offering. Which, to be honest, is a shame because I do believe that we had the best ideas for the good of the whole country. But if we can’t communicate that effectively and convincingly then it’s worthless.

Read on…