Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Mitcheldean pre-Festival concert

Last night, Fiona and I played at the Mitcheldean Folk Festival’s pre-festival evening concert — a twenty-five minute set of eight songs. It went really well.


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Coming up: Mitcheldean pre-Festival concert on Saturday 30 May

Just a brief note for anyone who’s in the area: Fiona and I have a half-hour set this Saturday evening at the pre-Festival warm-up concert for this year’s Mitcheldean Folk Festival. We’re one of eight acts in a line-up running for a total of four hours from 7pm till 11pm. The gig is at the Bespoke Brewery in Mitcheldean which I can tell you from experience has a whole range of excellent beers. It’s a free-entry event.


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Paul Actual McCartney

I’ve waited 30 years for this, but on Saturday 23rd, at the O2 Arena in London, I finally saw Paul McCartney live!

He’s 72 years old — he’ll be 73 in less than a month. Yet he played forty songs.

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Election results #5: why UKIP won 12% of the vote but only one seat

We’ve looked at why the Conservatives won, why the SNP took Scotland, why Labour failed and why the Lib Dems were wiped out. Finally, inevitably, we come to UKIP. There’s no avoiding it really.


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Election results #4: why were the Liberal Democrats wiped out?

[No-one seems to be reading or commenting on this series, but what the heck: I’ve started, so I’ll finish. See part 1 on the Conservatives, part 2 on the SNP and part 3 on Labour.]

Today, in a Liberal Democrat piece on the Conservatives’ plans to repeal the Human Rights Act, I read this:

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience.

Now that is inspiring.


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Election results #3: why did Labour lose?

We previously looked at why the Conservatives won the election and why the SNP did so astonishingly well. This time, I want to look at perhaps the most important aspect of the election just passed: why Labour, who were expected to slug it out with the Conservatives, did so very much worse than expected.

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Election results #2: why did the SNP take nearly every seat in Scotland?

In the election just passed, the Conservatives increased their 307 seats of the 2010 election by 24 (a 7.8% increase). That was a good result for them. But the Scottish National Party (SNP) increased their 6 seats by 50 (an 833% increase). In taking all but three of the 59 seats in Scotland (Labour, Conservative and LibDem hold one each), the SNP achieved the most astonishing voting swings in living history, exceeding 30% in numerous constituencies.


How did it happen? We don’t really know, and that’s crucial for understanding the broader implications of the election.

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Election results #1: why did the Conservatives win?

Now that the dust has had a bit of time to settle, I plan to write a five-part series on the results of the election. To anyone who feels intimidated by that prospect, I’ll say only this: each part will be short. In order, I want to look at why the Conservatives won, why the SNP took nearly every seat in Scotland, why Labour lost, why the Liberal Democrats were wiped out, and why UKIP won 12% of the vote but only one seat.

Strap yourselves in, here we go.


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A meta-comment on voting in the election

A brief personal comment, hopefully far removed from the left-vs-right squabbling occasioned by some of the other recent posts.

I live in the Forest of Dean, a constituency that had a Conservative incumbent, and where Labour were the closest challenger in the 2010 election. But UKIP have been rising fast, and pro-UKIP signs are to be seen all over, intimidating the relatively few non-white people we have in the area. (Not speculation: direct accounts from people affected.)


How to vote, then?

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Announcement regarding changes to church policy

Our church has been running at a deficit in recent years, a situation that clearly can’t be allowed to continue. In order to balance the books, we’ve had to make some hard choices. But together, by making necessary sacrifices, we can pull through. Although we value church programmes like the mothers-and-toddlers group, our support for members with special needs, hosting the food bank and donation to third-world charities, these activities are not financially viable in times of economic difficulty, and we have regretfully made the decision to bring them to an end. We need to end the culture of dependency and make sure instead that the people who previously benefited from these programmes start doing their share to make the church financially prosperous once more.

In more positive news, we are pleased to announce that we have been able to reduce the amount that we ask our more comfortably-off members to contribute, and that we have awarded the pastor a 112% pay increase, to be phased in over six years.

[Read on to A meta-comment on voting in the election]