Archive | October, 2014

Scandal before the internet

26 Oct

I was fortunate enough to recently read a book about Oliver Baldwin ( by Christopher Walker ). I have to confess I had never heard of him before I bought the book. Baldwin was an interesting character all right. Politician , author ( he wrote some odd stuff too), chicken keeper, soldier.

His grandfather was a Conservative MP , his father took over the seat and became Prime Minister 3 times. Oliver joined the army as soon as he could , served in World War 1 and then went to Armenia where his story is too complex for me to retell ( buy the book ) but he witnessed the mess of post WWI change and was imprisoned on the way ( and suffered snowblindness a condition you forget about ).

Back home he struggled to get a sense of normality and was also no doubt struggling with his sexuality and latterly his politics. He eventually joined the Labour party and stood in 5 elections for them , winning 2. The book is possibly light on Baldwin the politician ( for me anyway ). His 2 years as an MP for Dudley between 1929 and 1931 saw him briefly offer support for Mosley which he quickly rescinded when Mosley kept going right . Afterall if Baldwin wanted to be right-wing he had easier routes! He became an Independent MP following a spat with his local party over this and then returned to the fold to fight a hopeless seat in 1931.

He was briefly and MP in the 1945 Parliament though it seems bored by it, and perhaps and who can blame him he missed his chickens ( who he kept with his partner )..and was due to pick up a peerage when his father dies and he inherited one. So ended his career as an MP but he then entered the most interesting public phase of his life.

He was offered the Governorship of the Leeward Islands and took his clear passion that colonialism was on its way out with him. He offended the landed and commercial interests and seemed to get on superbly with the local population. He used what influence he had to get things done …but then came a strange scandal. In early 1949 he was asked to come to London. While making his way over on a banana boat a statement was released that the Colonial Office wanted to discuss some of the problems with the Islands. The press went hot..sensing something was up. Did the planters want him taken out ? Was his homosexuality now a problem. Baldwin had never hidden it , even though it was illegal. Was he going to be sacked ? The papers continued pursuit , questions were asked in the house and Baldwin still hadn’t arrived. There was plenty of gossip and he addressed this in a strange interview on arrival where he discussed being sacked , strange issues at play and if he didn’t return he wasn’t responsible for what might happen. None of which helped his cause. More strange interviews followed , cryptic and socialist is the best way to sum them up. After several weeks of meetings Baldwin finally met the Prime Minister. The press realised he was going back as Governor and then asked what it was all about ?

Although he didn’t last much longer the Colonial Office played a terrible hand. they had complaints and gossip and on that basis wanted to sack him without evidence. Baldwin overplayed his own hand but left them in a difficult position and they had to accept it. In his own way he forced them down. No doubt the sugar interests were dismayed. In the modern internet era the scandal would never have dripped out whilst a politician was travelling and if played in Baldwin’s favour.

Baldwin was a slightly eccentric character but his life is probably far more interesting at a human level than many more successful politicians.


(c) Dudley Museums Service; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation


UKIP a racist string of sausages..or the milosevic-isation of debate.

16 Oct

Its hard to imagine what the rise and role of UKIP would have been like in the world before the  internet. Certainly it makes it much easier to make fun at them. There’s currently a picture going around showing the current MP for Clacton next to the former MP for Clacton and remarking on the new politics. Da Da of course its the same man , the man who stood for the same discredited political party he now says is discredited, presumably by people like him, voted for by the same people.. You can see the problem.

Of course the internet is awash with cleverclogs and pedants who point out this wasn’t really a win for UKIP as the previous MP had joined UKIP and is the same person. Again this can go on a bit..suffice to say UKIP have yet to win an ” open ” contest and even the SDP managed to win 2 of them in the glory days. ( yes I am joking ..not about the number but the glory days). The last party to threaten the current party duopoly were the SDP and they had to make do with newspapers and television. Unless you discount the SNP, who seriously threatened the status quo.

1 or 2 wins who cares. They are not the real issue..are they ? UKIP exist in a bubble , the same bubble Beppe Grillos 5sm exist in. A plague on all your houses , we aren’t the establishment vote for us …but not too much and we can carp but not do anything. Not that I am advocating for the status quo..oh no. But there is a way to stand for change and something new that doesn’t have to be based on the Milosevic-isation of political debate. Your wrong ,you talk funny, your different , we are all living in fear , its all someone elses fault , things used to be great. For Milosevic his enemies were sometimes before the EEC but Farage is aiming there as well. Sick people seem to be the latest target , sick people should go back to sick land. In short they are the party of Jimmy from Reggie Perrin. With his constant fear of traitors and play for today. Or the man in Raymond Briggs book of the same name worried about the DSS and busy bodies.

Who Cares ? Well the Internet does. It cares that UKIP might get 128 seats or maybe 8. It may hold the balance of power or be a sideshow. The confusion rests in which theory you follow . Theory A advocates that they take seats and MPs off Conservatives and threaten to take a few in the general election. Theory B advocates they take white working class left behind voters , ripe for disgruntlement from Labour ( without ever explaining that Labour have never had a great hold over these voters anyway …they were Thatcher’s working class praetorian guard in the 80s..) . Again does it matter …well yes. because its not the number of  MPs they get that is at stake but the impact on seats , the bulk of votes they take off a candidate that lets another in could be crucial. For Conservatives its going to be vote UKIP get Milliband and for Labour we are the only alternative.

The sad thing is UKIP are not in any way constructive or able to rise above punch and judy. They are just the racist string of sausages being pulled at each end!

The October 74 election..

11 Oct

Was it really 40 years ago? Of course it was , mathematics is simple and I was not aware of the election so I will stop the pretence. October 74 , the clangers election..

but if you want more trivia

  • The Labour party advocated for abolishing the TV licence …how did that work out then ?
  • Ian Paisley , worried about Enoch Powell’s presence in Northern Ireland upped the anti. He accused the Irish Government of being communist guerrillas in a meeting in Belfast ( with Powell ).
  • Not to be outdone Powell called the Conservatives ” like Hitler ” in a further speech.
  • John Duffin a Labour candidate had to have 20 stitches to his head after falling off a ladder while putting up posters in Tavistock. It would never have happened to Clive Dunn.
  • Bread subsidies rose (haha) in the election period to keep half a pence off the price of a loaf.
  • 2256 candidates stood a record.
  • Harold Wilson gave his oddest quote ( at the time anyway before the spider stuff ) when he told David Frost that ” Old hags …I haven’t seen any around for some years now…”
  • Alan Beith won his constituency for the third time in 11 months and each time as an ultra marginal.
  • Ballot boxes on the Holy Island were cut off by the tide , guarded by a policeman overnight and counted the next day. No 3g back then.
  • Dick Taverne lost his seat to Margaret Jackson ( Beckett) and Eddie MIlne and Chris Mayhew 2 other defectors lost.
  • Ladbrokes offered 6-4 on Labour winning the next election , and that it would be in 1975 against Willie Whitelaw’s Conservatives….0 out of 3 aint bad.


6 Oct


I cant tell you how happy I was to see this..we have had a reasonably poor success rate with seeds so to see a number of them starting to come up is hopefully a positive. Like Montaigne who wanted death to find him planting his cabbages , I would quite like life to find me growing seeds ! I have to confess I am more excited about this minor success than the children..who seem to take it all as a matter of course. Perhaps. But I have seen failure ! The above are Kale and hopefully will give a bumper crop…and if they don’t …they don’t. I can accept the risk!


Poor picture but these are rocket…yeah !

Post Post election blog post

5 Oct

..enough posts ..perhaps.

It all over,all counted , the baubles have all been handed out. Everyone’s moved on to looking at the Labour leadership. We have another minority government and we can switch off for another 3 years. I have no idea what national promised to do in that time , and it probably doesn’t matter..they will do what they like with the help of some special friends. Key doesn’t appeal to a big vision he’s a conciliatory politician. He knows what he’s doing , and some believe he knows what your doing …right now on your computer.

So what did I think of this election , the one consigned to history already.

  •  John Roughlan in the Herald is the worst journalist there is. He writes week in week out a kind of cheerleader for John article. I’m sure he had some objectivity sometime in the past.
  • Sorry scratch that. I remember the Mike Hosking articles in the Herald. Is he a  journalist ? Perhaps?? He seems to have turned into the Jeremy Wells parody.
  • Labour ran an awful campaign that didn’t seem to want to get the party vote. This isn’t just hindsight, through the campaign  I was pointing out how few of the billboards reminded people about the party vote. They seemed to want to lose.
  • And why didn’t the parties of the left compromise and have one anti United Future candidate. Dunne could have been toast and that would have been one less seat down ..
  • And a safer ride for Hone , that would have been another 2 seats up for the parties in opposition. Remember that there with no real difference in votes there could have been a different distribution…why don’t these guys talk ? Its MMP after all.
  • Colin Craig just gives bad photo after bad photo after bad photo. In the grass, having a drink with Rankin, his big arms extended, his handshaking his mirror image…Colin stop it.
  • Winston will never be a Minister again..bold I know,but trust me.
  • It shows the lack of policy when Matthew Hooton tearing into Michelle Boag was one of the highlights of the campaign. Who hasn’t wanted to do that …
  • And Duncan Garner , if  we had a president I would nominate him( wouldn’t vote for him though )…he’s a walking political crusade.
  •  The greens did awful. With Labour tanking they should have had a strong show. Perhaps they have become too mainstream? Some of the policy they announced was fairly mainstream(ECE as an example). They have to come to terms with this being the best they can do..and decide what they do with it..
  • Labour ! Maybe they need to split up…hard to see them getting back in 2017.
  • Kim Dotcom his arch enemy John Key …not sure what he stands for.
  • John Key ..its over for key ..isn’t it. The gloss of the guy next door well and truly off. HE looked petulant, tetchy, arrogant..he still won and won well, but were in the same territory Blair was in post-Iraq. Tolerated and supported but no longer liked.