Family Secret Unravels

So since the 1920’s there has been a rumour on my fathers side of the family that my grandfather had a Chinese father. Now I first found out about this about 10 years ago just after my grandad had passed away when my cousin bought my uncle a DNA test for his 60th birthday, as he had been hearing the stories for years and wanted to bring the whole thing to a conclusion.

Now just to give this a bit of context my grandad was teased as a child for looking Chinese and he was always apparently very touchy about the subject.
Then I was told that my dad and his siblings were also teased in the same way as children and when they approached my grandad he said quite abruptly that it was none of there business.
So as the rumour goes my grandad’s mum worked in a laundry in the early 1920’s in Bradford and had an affair with the owner who was Chinese. I believe this was always denied by my great grandma and so the rumour has persisted I guess for around 90 years now from my grandad’s birth until the aforementioned DNA test for my uncle’s 60th birthday.

So onto the results then, firstly what was expected. Well turns out we have a lot of Irish in our family on my dads side above 30% as it happens, we also have English, and Scottish in our family also not massively surprising. Then to the surprising part which was that over 30% of the our genetic make up was from South Asia especially northern China (Ghangzhou I believe and realise it has not been spelt correctly). So the long standing rumour has been proven to be true.
This has led to a rush from the other siblings over the years including my own dad where it was found that south Asian DNA accounts for 31.8% of my dads make up and would mean that one of his parents would need to be of 50% Chinese decent or higher.

Now I did find it surprising to say the least but when we looked into this further it became obvious really. Looking at old pictures of my grandfather, my dad and his siblings especially when they were kids and myself we all have very distinctive eyes that are a dead giveaway really. I have them, my sister has them and I am proud to say I have passed them onto one of my daughters. I have had conversations with my daughter about this and all the DNA testing going on and she told me that at her school when she put her mask on after a class (COVID world I am afraid) and someone said to her in attempt to try and bully her ‘you look Chinese when you put your mask on.’ My daughter said she was really happy to turn around and say to the prospective bully that she does have Chinese ancestry and shut them down immediately (this is a student has attempted to point out differences in others as a basis to start bullying).

For my dad and his siblings they went through a period of shock not because they have foreign ancestry away from the British isles and Europe but because the family surname we have and still use to this day is actual not in fact our family heritage and we actually don’t know what our real heritage is on my dads side with relation to my grandfather and we only have in fact half a story. There was also the realisation that there had been some dishonesty in the family and deception that persisted for going on 100 years.

For me I am intrigued and happy to have such a diverse make up that I have now passed on to the next generation, and who knows one day I may be able to find out more. Also for the record I have been told I have very nice eyes. I am chuffed I have a heritage to be proud of.

Thanks for reading.

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The Grand Hotel Scarborough

So due to the current COVID – 19 crises we were unable to go on our usual holiday away earlier in the year.
As lockdown measures have been eased somewhat (or for our area of the UK it would now be more appropriate to say had been eased somewhat) we decided we would take advantage of the reopening of hotels by having a few days in Scarborough on the North Yorkshire coast.
Now for anyone not familiar with this North Yorkshire spa town towering over the south bay dominating the skyline is the Grand Hotel once Europe’s largest hotel. Since I was a child the hotel has fascinated me looking as it still does from afar resplendent cut into the side of the cliff, and I have always wanted to stay there.  So when looking for a place to stay I  happened to take a look at the Grand and found a deal for 2 nights bed and breakfast for a family of 4 for only £183!!! My wife having known for some time that I had always wanted to stay there agreed and so in the immortal words of Peter Kay we ‘booked it, packed it, and fu*£ed off!!’

However was it worth it?

So how about a bit of a history lesson to begin with? The Grand Hotel was first opened in 1867 and at the time was not only the largest hotel in Europe, but also the largest brick built structure as well. The hotel has been owned by Britannia Hotels since 2004 and is aimed at the budget end of the market. The theme of the hotel was time and was built in the following way:
–  12 Floors Representing the months of the year
–  52 Chimneys for the weeks of the year
–  365 bedrooms originally representing the days of a non leap year

There is also a blue plaque on the side of the building that states that legendary author Anne Bronte died in lodgings where the hotel now stands (and is the only Bronte sister buried in the town).
The hotel was badly damaged in the first world war and subsequently repaired.

Well first impressions when you walk up to the hotel are that it remains a dramatic looking building that still dominates the skyline of the south bay over 150 years after it was first built.
The second thing you notice is the unbelievable din of the hundreds of seagulls nesting within the various crevices of the Grand and some surrounding buildings. The pavements  around the area are caked in seagull poop by the buildings where they nest as well as all over the buildings themselves. Now this is not something unique to the Grand at all as it happens but does have the potential to ruin the building and  I feel more should be done to move the seagulls on and I do not remember this being the case on previous visits to the town, although granted this is something I could simply have forgotten about. Also worth pointing out the council are clearly well aware of the problem judging by the amount of signs around encouraging us all not to feed the seagulls or we may get attacked. I did however find this rather disappointing that more is not being done to contain the problem and felt the closer you got to hotel the more it ruined the view. The sound of all these gulls together was also quite unbelievable.
Other external observations I made as well was to notice when you look a little closer how run down the hotel actually is. Next to the Grand is the funicular railway down to the beach and traditional seaside entertainments and I could not help but notice that some of the windows of this side were smashed and left unrepaired. I did wonder what it must have looked like 100 years earlier when maintenance was kept up with, now it wouldn’t look out of place in some sort of dystopian future Scarborough.

When entering the hotel the main lobby at first sight has lost none of its grandeur and Wow factor. Sympathetically lit up in soft lights it has a wonderful grand staircase, balconies where you can look down into the lobby and I have to say this part of the hotel looked at first sight to have been maintained well. It took a long time to check in given the current social distancing protocols at the hotel that I had no problems with, but sadly it did give me the opportunity to take a closer look at the lobby and there are quite a few cracks in the masonry, and a grand piano that has seen better days. Nevertheless it still had the feel that it could feature well in some Agatha Christie novel and this was one aspect I really liked.

We paid for a sea view room for the 4 of us and the view from the window to the sea and across the Scarborough ‘strip’ was very impressive. Less impressive was the bird poo all over the window and more poo as well as disregarded feathers on the window ledge.
A common theme as you walk through the corridors and up and down the staircases is how run down the hotel now is, even a good clean and coat of paint would make a major difference but there are scuff marks, cracks in masonry, cracked paint everywhere, and peeling wallpaper. As we approached the door to our room the red door had clearly seen better days. Wallpaper within the room looked as though it came from the 1990’s (as Britannia Hotels have owned this hotel since 2004 I question if they have ever redecorated this room). There were too loft hatches within the room and one that didn’t look as though it really fit the hatch. We also observed a crack developing into a hole in the ceiling where it looked as though pipes had been fed and not sealed properly. The furniture within the bedroom looked period and I didn’t dislike it with two more modern chairs next to the table by the window. The beds were okay although I would question the double bed actually being a double, felt more like a 3/4 to me (although I do look a bit like tweedle dum or dee so this may be a little harsh), I didn’t sleep well but then again I don’t often sleep well in a strange bed.
The room was a large one and more than adequate for our sized family. The bathroom was modern and actually very nice except for a rocky toilet and a shower far too powerful for the bath it occupies. A final point I will add here to illustrate how run down this hotel is now is when we looked down from our window we could a badly overgrown former sun terrace below us. I can once again only imagine what this terrace would once of looked like in the hotels heyday, and it also makes me think that the hotel could potentially be missing an area where they could earn additional revenue by spending a little to earn a lot (a bar or additional terrace for guests perhaps).

I now come to our breakfast. The room itself was light and airy with spectacular views of the south bay (something I now realise is the hotels single biggest  selling point other than price). Once again the theme here is past its best and even some of the machines struggle to maintain their frontage.  The most common features of bird poo all over the windows and general decay permeated this room very much like the rest of hotel sadly.
The breakfast itself was awful!!! Sausages that looked like they were a few years out of date, bacon that had more fat than meat, and no hash browns at all. The coffee wasn’t bad though, come to think of it so was the orange juice. It is legitimately one of the worse breakfasts I had ever had at a hotel, and I have stayed at some stinkers in the past.  I am also someone who more than likely will eat themselves to death one day so I know my food (least I know what I like). Even my human dustbin of an eldest living child didn’t was a cooked breakfast on the second morning and was happy to stick to just cereal and toast, and this is unheard of in our household (incidentally they are not big and fat like their father and just very tall for their age).

In conclusion I wanted to just start by stating I am fully aware that the leisure and hospitality sectors and hanging off a cliff at the moment and hoping not to end up like the Holbeck Hotel in Scarborough in 1993 but refer to their financial state rather than actually falling into the sea like the Holbeck did.
That being said Britannia Hotels have owned the Grand for 16 years now and the room we stayed in didn’t look as though it had been decorated since the 1990’s (bathroom aside). It just doesn’t feel as though Britannia take any pride in a hotel with such history that has dominated the landscape of Scarborough south bay for over 150 years (castle aside of course). I know they state that this is now a budget hotel and I accept this but it could be so much more that what it currently is being a mere shadow of its former self.
The staff were actually really nice and helpful except for one staff member at breakfast (although to be fair they looked overworked). I would also say that the quality of the breakfast could be so much better than what it was, claiming budget is one thing but this is no excuse for the quality of food on offer.
Obviously given I cannot foresee any hotel chain making a profit this year or maybe next so I cannot see the situation improving anytime soon, but there is potential for this hotel to once again be the hotel jewel in Scarborough’s crown. It would take a heck of an outlay to make this happen but is not beyond the realms of possibility in the future if the higher up’s at Britannia Hotels realise what they actually have with this historic hotel. I for one would be more than willing to pay more for a better experience here  in the future, however at this time I would only recommend the hotel as a base to enjoy Scarborough itself and would recommend the Weatherspoon’s 5 minutes away from the hotel for meals as they are both cheap and of quality.

As always my opinions are my own and I thank you for reading.

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No Strong Leaders!!

We are currently living in an interesting time aren’t we?

The COVID – 19 pandemic, black lives matter protests, and just recently the # speaking out trending on Twitter as allegations of various abuse within wrestling starting in the British Isles and rapidly spreading to other areas. This comes hot on the heels of the Epstein scandal and the #me too movement in recent years, and I feel that one thing is has been lacking from various politicians around the world particularly in the western world.
Now I would really like to take this opportunity to add my voice praising those who have so far come forward and shared their stories, or attended a protest. This is an amazingly brave thing to have done and I wish I had half the bravery in my life that you have exhibited during this time. I do not pretend to know what any of you have gone through or suffered as I am not a member of an ethnic minority group, and I am not a woman, I would also not presume that I know what is best in this situation, but please know I support the fight for equality on all  levels of society whether this is  for  the colour of  someone’s skin or their gender.

Now during such troubled times it has always been the case that we look to our political leaders for guidance and their ability to unite nations and bring people together. A well placed  appearance standing in solidarity with others, or perhaps an inspirational speech intended to have the same purpose?
However in the USA we seem to  have a President obsessed with self interest, and in the UK we seem to have the classical one rule  for the plebs and another entirely if you have  either a position of power, or have some sort of fame. Where as the vast majority have listened to scientific advice stayed at home, socially distanced where possible, and done their bit.  We have had politicians travelling large distances for childcare (including a 30 mile jaunt to test eyesight???? My opinion if there was ever any doubt then just DON’T drive), famous people self isolating in second homes (when told not to)  and travelling large distances when told not to. We have also had some celebrities moaning about how tough it is to self isolate in their multi million mansions with great chunks of land and stables, while everyday normal people have had to  be locked in 1 bedroom flats with no gardens looking forward to the time they can take their 1 hour exercise round the block!!
All we seem to get is infighting and self interest from today’s politicians not a single one is inspiring or seeking to unite and it has been left to others to try and inspire and make sense of it all.
Countless medical professionals across the world have worked tirelessly to treat to unwell while putting themselves at risk of infection. These selfless acts are inspiration in of themselves and I salute every single one of them.
After the circumstances that took place in Minneapolis people looked to their leaders to acknowledge the problems inherent in many societies but the supposed leader of the free world has shown how clueless he is when it comes to a crises and those around the ‘supposed leader of the free world’ have proven how inept they are to deal.

In the UK we have a Prime Minister who believed from a very young age he was destined to hold the top job in the country despite his perceived bumbling nature. I have not disagreed with every move Johnson has made as Prime Minister so far and I am genuinely glad he pulled through and recovered from COVID -19 particularly with a new born baby, however inspired I am afraid not.
The world is looking for the next great leader to emerge from somewhere and it hasn’t happened yet. As much as Obama had good intentions and broke a lot of barriers down I do not believe history will rank him amongst the greatest US Presidents of all time.

Well the hour is late and my energy is almost gone so I will sign off.
As  always my opinions are my own and thanks for taking the time to read.

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Life in Lockdown

I have not posted in quite a while! In fact I believe it may have been something very short just after the UK lockdown had started.

I tend to go through cycles with my blog, sometimes I will write relatively frequently and other times I can go many months without posting anything. If inconsistency could me money I would surely be a millionaire by now!!

So to give an idea of our lockdown situation then, both myself and my wife have managed to work from home during this period. Myself as all employees were already laptop enabled from last year therefore our transition to home working has been fairly simple.
For my wife she had to fight for an outdated laptop and the IT staff where she works did an amazing job to create a cloud system in just 4 days to enable staff to work from home. Sure there has been complaints that the system is clunky and slow but the mere fact they managed it in such a short space of time to me was impressive.
We absolutely feel ourselves fortunate that we have been put in a position where we can still earn in a period where so many people worldwide face hardship from being furloughed or made redundant. At least the UK government has put something in place to help some of these people, but the fact that this has not effected us so far has definitely not been lost on either of us.
We also have our 2 living children at home during this period and so have had to become teachers as well as working my full time job. While school has been helpful in the work from home suggestions they have offered I have enjoyed setting projects for the kids to work through from book reviews to geography.
My current state of work during lockdown is currently very close to business as usual due to the industry I work in so at times busy has not been the word!!

So in terms of how we have coped I feel my family has on the whole done very well. We have all been effected by the lack of ability to travel during this period. My youngest living child is always happiest when out and about however due to a seizure they had back in February we have wrapped them in cotton wool and so they have been cooped up in either house or garden for almost the entire time except our inconsistent daily exercise.
This has in turn had a bit of a detrimental effect on their behaviour during this time being a little disruptive at times mainly due to frustration at the lack of travel and freedom.
My eldest living child has missed interaction with their friends and has felt cheated as they are in their last year of primary school and this is the point where pupils head off to different high schools so there is a feeling that they will be unable to say a proper goodbye. That being said as they have a mobile phone and access to Roblox they have at the very least been able to keep in contact with their best friends during this time and that is definitely something.
They have also had the opportunity to accompany me on the weekly shop and this has helped to get them out of the house somewhat.
My wife has I feel coped really well with all this. Very much like my youngest living child my wife can get a serious does of cabin fever if they are permanently cooped up at home instead of going somewhere (especially on weekends), but I feel she has definitely done well even though she falls in a vulnerable category being an asthmatic.
As for myself well this has been a very trying period. I started this time at my kitchen table on a very inadequate chair and this has damaged my back. As I also have a very large stomach due to being a fatty and leaning forward to type for the first month or so I feel as I have also damaged my ribs at the front and on the side. My work has helped by putting the money up to buy me a better chair and a laptop riser. This has in turn allowed my to use one of children’s desks to work which has eased the pressure on my torso somewhat (although this has not gone away). Also due to I feel stress my stomach and bowel have been really off during this time, I have also developed an annoying cough (not COVID – 19 I might add), and I have been dealing with an increase in headaches as a result of a head injury suffered on a bus last year.
This has in turn led to me becoming very paranoid about my health during this time and I have thought a lot about dying young (I am not yet 40 so would consider death now to be young), and this has not been helpful and has caused a lot of chaos in my mind.
Our doctors do offer phone appointments but I have been very reluctant to talk to any medical professional partially due to my irrational fear of hospitals, a little bit the old fashion bravado of carry on regardless, but mainly due to the fact I am scare of what they might say, or that they will force me to go through a series of undignified tests.
I realise I am a father and bread winner and it is selfish for me not to go, and some would also tell me to man up or suck it up but to me it is not that simple and I genuinely have a real fear of what might happen next. I really feel that at this time ignorance is bliss and I can cope with the discomfort, I realise this may be very difficult for someone to understand and I am clever enough to realise the stupidity of what I am (or rather what I am not) doing, but fear is a powerful ruler and currently rules the roost.
I have enjoyed the use of various meeting tools to keep in contact with colleagues and clients, and apart from the occasional internet connection problems this has proven an effective tool to work.
I always wanted to be a teacher and so the chance to teach my own kids is one I have relished. I do not pretend to be in any way as effective as a trained teacher but at the same time I do think I have done an adequate job in helping my kids learn during this time.
I have been the one doing our weekly shop and have been very disappointed with other members of the public and their lack of adherence to basic social distancing measures! Just very simple things like following the arrows on the floor in supermarkets, and keeping 2 metres apart instead of pushing in to get what they want with very little regard to other members of the public.
Now I understand there will always be those who could care a less about social distancing and do not feel that this virus will ever impact either them or the people they care about. It is also sad to say that the only thing that would persuade these people otherwise is contracting the virus or passing it on to someone they love.
However this is not a bunch of teens who feel they are immortal, or the ignorant random who feels the government have no right to take away their freedom under any circumstances. These are people who should really know better from those in vulnerable groups to those clearly in the medical profession who on the one hand have been heroes for helping to combat this virus, but on the other hand are putting others at risk with there ‘off the clock’ ignorance.
I have recently taken up tarot just reading for myself and have found it useful in calming my chaotic mind. I have also found them to be incredibly accurate when asking questions to the point I asked a similar question twice in a row shuffled the cards thoroughly and got the exact same three cards drawn in same position both times.
I do come from a family with a lot of spirituality within it and I do not believe in organised religion so maybe some of that spiritual intuition has passed through to myself. That being said it is far too early to tell.

So it is almost 1 in the morning where I am so I need to finish and go to bed. One thing I missed is my weight is really getting worse as I go along and I am literally eating myself into an early grave. I have a smartwatch and before lockdown I did do the equivalent of around 4 miles walking a day and this has reduced to next to nothing!

What I will say to you all is please be safe, be sensible, and listen to the medical professionals who know so much more than we do about this virus than we ever will. From whatever perspective you look at this Gary from work unless he happens to be a doctor or bio chemist, or something like that is not going to offer you the accurate advice of someone who is a paid medical professional.

My opinions are as always my own and thank you for taking the time to read this blog.
Stay safe and until we meet again take care!!

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Lockdown Continued!!

So here we are Friday afternoon, day 9 of our respective  lockdown.

Firstly I have to admit I have very well behaved kids for the most part. They have been really receptive to home schooling and cabin fever has definitely not hit (yet).
We have attempted to go for our once a day exercise everyday and the kids have been taking advantage of the large garden we have (an advantage of living in a former industrial northern town and having cheaper house prices than the south). Many bounces have been had on the trampoline, and the scooters have had an outing as well.

For my part as I think I previously mentioned I am able to work from home and have generally been adjusting to this new reality. I have taken full use of TEAMS (just like SKYPE if you have never used it) and had daily video calls with various colleagues. This has really helped in relation to keeping us all feeling as part of a team, and connected in some small way to the outside world.
My partner as well has managed to adapt to working from home well and hopefully this bodes well going forward.
I must confess it feels really strange not having a daily commute but this has certainly diminished my daily stress levels (have a look at the rail problems we have had in the north of England if you want to know why), although I do still think my desk at work is more comfortable than my kitchen table. Nevertheless I do think my little family has adapted well to the first week of our new situation.
A side note I will mention is that the family cat is actually more trouble  than the kids at the moment!!! It demands attention far more and is far more needy than the kids are. Now I am not a fan of cat flaps as I really do not trust them security wise (either from potential burglars or other felines making their way into our home), the downside to this decision is that it seems every 5 minutes the cat either wants in or wants out!! It isn’t as though I can ignore it either as it has a very loud meow that  half the neighbourhood can here and you need to do something!!

I have only ventured out to the shops once so far since the new restrictions were put in place. This was to our local Co -op and they had placed some yellow tape on the floor by the tills in order to keep below the recommended distance apart. I hear people have been having to queue for hours just to get into the supermarkets due to social distancing, and is something I am going to have to experience this evening as I need to pick up a prescription from the supermarket pharmacy.
We have put through an online order with Asda click and collect but it took hours (literally) to complete this and I am not 100% sure how it will play out come Saturday when I need to pick it up.
Now I know the government here in the UK has stated for people to go out only for essential supplies, but what are you supposed to do when you cannot order online first? I absolutely agree that vulnerable people and frontline services need to be prioritised but it does leave the rest of us having little choice but to brave the supermarkets in order to stay stocked up going forward.
It is a very surreal thing however going in to a shop and seeing the measures people are having to take in order to stop the spread of this potentially deadly virus. Now I am often a person who will accuse politicians and commentators of scare mongering however in this instance my attitude is very much that you really need to listen to the experts and take the required measures needed to combat this.
Yesterday the UK recorded it most number of deaths in a single day since the outbreak began at now over 500 people. Worldwide I believe the death told has now reached above 25,000 with over 500,000 infected. Statistics don’t lie and the figures are a stark reminder of why we have to listen to the advice being provided.
I cannot believe the nerve of some people who are either ignoring the advice or worse intentionally sneezing on food products so that they have to be destroyed as a ‘prank’!!! What is it going to take to make people listen and heed the advice being given? In the UK the police now have powers to fine individuals and disperse large gatherings and this is a positive step, but it should never have gotten to the state having to intervene like this when the facts are staring people in the face!! I can only hope that those who are doing this don’t have to suffer the tragedy of loosing someone to the outbreak due to the careless actions they are taking. We are not invincible as much as we might believe we are and this goes double for those who are young and believe they are too healthy for COVID – 19 to effect them. I believe there was a report in the last couple of days of a 21 year old passing away from the virus and whether or not they had underlying health concerns or not this should serve as a reminder that the virus can strike anybody.
In the UK we have been informed that both Prince Charles the heir to the throne and the Prime Minister Boris Johnson have tested positive for this virus and are now in isolation although I believe both bare suffering from mild symptoms and I would like to take this opportunity to wish them both a speedy recovery.
Just an observation as well to those desperate to get various world economies kick started rather than dealing with the health emergency first. This virus does not care what your creed, colour, race, or religion is. It could also care a less if you are loaded or do not have 2 pennies to rub together you can be infected regardless. Now an abundance of finance may well give you access to the best but very much like cancer, or heart disease these conditions do not recognise money or privilege when selecting a victim and Donald Trump who is in his mid 70’s is in the same risk group as my own father in his early 70’s.
I am worried and scare for the economy and what this all may mean long term for jobs and security, just as I am worried for the smaller sports clubs who are currently receiving no finance from things such as gate receipts or venue hire. I have work so hard over the last few years to build up a degree of financial security for my myself and my family and it scares me rigid this could be in jeopardy due to COVID – 19. However overriding this is a fear I could loose a member of my family to this virus and never be able to see them again, and remember when your dead you cannot take the money with you.

I would also like to point out how disgusted I am that some politicians seek to make political gains off the back of this pandemic!! I saw an article where Jeremy Corbyn said he was right all along about his funding plans for the NHS as this what the government is now doing??? Firstly Corbyn this is happening because of an exceptional situation that at the end of last year nobody could have predicted would happen!! When this type of thing happens of course the government is going to spend more on the health service as a result!! This goes hand in hand with the territory!! Also worth pointing out look around the world there are shortages everywhere, and almost every health service is being tested like never before in peace time. Here is a man so desperate to secure his diminished legacy he will seek to politicise this situation rather than focusing on the job at hand.
Now I must confess I cannot stand Johnson or Dominic Cummings for that matter. I think Johnson is only good when in a comedic buffoon role and has no place running a country. I also think he will never run the country transparently or honestly and will seek to prioritise big business over people. I think Cummins will be the evil puppet master in the back pulling the strings where the top 10% get richer and the rest of us may as well live in the ocean for all the good they will do for the common working man.
That being said I do believe he has led the country well during this crises so far listening to the science as it is provided, and deferring to a medical professional when questions are asked rather than bumbling his way through press briefings as has been his style in the past. To me he has appeared humble and concerned for the welfare of the country first and foremost unlike others we could mention.
I definitely question if he will be the right person to lead us in the aftermath of this pandemic given the inevitable recession we may well suffer as a result. I also question if he will help the common person in the street or just his rich and wealthy buddies who lets face it will suffer no financial hardship due to the funds they will no doubt have in reserve.
However I do not think he has performed terribly so far in the way he has tackled this and most importantly the way he has listened and taken on board the science as he has received.

A huge shout out to all those who paid tribute to our NHS last night with 2 minutes applause. I know this has already happened in other countries as people have shown appreciation to the difficult jobs health professionals have and the bravery they have shown in trying to control this pandemic.

Finally just to say as always my opinions are my own and I would just like to say to you all keep your families safe, listen to the experts, and I will look to post again soon. Thanks for reading.

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Lockdown!!!!!!

Well that title pretty much sums up where billions of people are right now (as I type this India has announced it will place 1.4 billion people in lockdown!

I must say from a personal perspective I cannot quite believe what has happened or the speed at which we have gone from normal everyday life to complete lockdown. Lives are almost unrecognisable now from even the beginning of last week and it would appear this will be our new reality for at least the next 3 weeks.

So for anyone who may read this blog from countries outside the UK here is a brief update of  where we currently are as a nation:

  •  8,000 confirmed cases of Coronavirus 422 dead across the nation
  • Closure of all non essential services in the country for at least 3 weeks
  • Everyone to remain in their homes except for essential journeys, and people can now be dispersed or fined if this is ignored
  • All UK schools closed to all but the children of key workers
  • Restrictions to be reviewed in 3 weeks

So in terms of my personal circumstances I am now a homeworker for the foreseeable future along with  my wife, and my children are now being home schooled. My parents are locked in as are in the high risk category of  people who can catch this virus.

This is something that has not happened in most people’s living memory I even asked my 71 year old father if he had had any experience of something like this, and all he remembered was a smallpox outbreak in the 1950’s where everyone needed to be vaccinated. The only one I can think of that didn’t involved some sort of war was perhaps the Spanish flu in the early 20th Century where millions of people died.

I don’t have a whole lot of time to write this initial lockdown blog but I did want to say something about the disgusting way some people have completely ignored the advice of central government!
I realise people may not like to be told they can’t do something, or to be restricted in any way in the modern era, however this is being done for OUR OWN GOOD!
At the weekend I observed a large family get together for mothers day and the mother was clearly over 70. My wife observed maybe they really dislike their mother/grandmother if they are willing to flaunt advice and potentially expose one of the highest risks groups to this virus?
Also seeing large numbers of people treat this as a chance to get away in large numbers and ignore social distancing advice because for some reason they don’t think it applies to them is almost beyond belief.
Both my sister and brother in law are nurses on the front line fighting this virus  and witnessing first hand the effect it has on the vulnerable, and the infection rates.
Its time to listen and face the fact that this is being done for our own good, in order to minimise the impact of this deadly virus.

So to close please do yourselves a favour stay at home, wash your hands, and listen to the advice intended to save lives!!
Take care of yourselves and your families at this very trying time. I will post more blogs as lockdown continues.

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Northern Rail Block Me On Twitter!

So I don’t know if any of you are aware but a recent set of statistics was released on the performance of everyone’s favourite train franchise Northern Rail (Fail) showed only 45% of trains actually arrived on time, and on the Leeds to Harrogate light that figure was 0%!!!

So recently I have taken it upon myself to tweet Northern Rail (@northernassist) every time we either get a late, short formed, or dangerously overcrowded service. I may also have been a bit sarcastic towards their ‘higher up’s’ and salaries paid for abject failure.
In the end I guess those who operate the twitter feed got fed up of my sarcasm as I have now been blocked from their Twitter feed!!! Its like a toddler who is being told off by their parents so stick their fingers in their ears!!

The simple facts are this Northern have a cut and paste system when it comes to responding to their customers the people who pay overpriced fares to ride a substandard service (and there will be an extra 2.5% added to fares in the new year as well).
Almost every twitter response I have read from Northern contains the same stuff (note a few examples below)

  • If your service was over 15 minutes late you can claim compensation
  • If you wish to complain please follow the link
  • There is no upper limit to what our carriages can hold and this is at the discretion of our conductors and drivers

Add this to the excuses that get posted on service boards on stations throughout the network  and it gives you a bit of an idea, just a snippet into how bad this service really is!

  • Delayed or Cancelled due to a lack of train drivers
  • Faults on the brand new trains
  • Due to the service in front being cancelled
  • Leaves on the line
  • A member of train crew not being available
  • Short formed due to a lack of  carriages (my personal favourite)

Now allow me to take some of these excuses in turn as an illustration:

 

Claiming Compensation

I have heard tales of the compensation being something ludicrous like 32p being awarded and makes me ask what was the point? I actually think this is rather the point Arriva (who are the parent of Northern) don’t want you claim so offer paltry sums so you don’t bother next time. Please keep bothering as they have to process it and it adds a little inconvenience to them.

Complaining 

Following the link… Now I have complained on many occasions and have experienced some complaints being ignored and the other ones having a cut and paste response sent back to me that I could almost recite word for word now. Again though I encourage you to continue to complain as these statistics have to be published and the more we have the worse the statistics look for them.

No Upper Limit to How Many Passengers their Carriages can Carry (Train Crews Discretion)

I would argue this is my  personal favourite as we get shoved into the carriages like cattle and when the doors open you are literally falling out of the carriages. People are being pushed up against each other in really uncomfortable positions barely able to move. If those trains (god forbid) ever crash the death toll could be catastrophic, but remember people no upper limit!! I have seen children having to stand! Small children being squished by much larger people for the sake of letting a few more people on! I cannot understand how removed from reality these executives must be to go along with this and I honestly believe that it is only a matter of time before there are injuries to be had on Northern’s overcrowded services. Even if the government do not provide any guidance on an ‘upper limit’ surely common sense should prevail here (oh wait we are talking about Arriva here).

Lack of Train Drivers 

Now this one is two fold. The first part is that a lot of drivers have been taken out to train on the new Spanish built trains they have! Now Northern have promised these trains almost since day 1 of taking on the franchise, I accept their were delays in the delivery of the new trains, but surely (once again)common sense should have prevailed and drivers should have been trained well before the implementation of the new trains. I would have thought this was just good business practice, something that Arriva seem not to have unless it relates to profit!!
The other revolutionary idea I would like to propose is use some of your ill gotten profits to pay for more drivers rather than giving bonuses to Mr Brown and company for their latest luxury villa or car!!

Faults on New Trains

Now once again I may be being cynical here but to me if you are buying a product as expensive as a new train surely you would have wanted to have them tested first? Not an earth shattering idea I know but one that Arriva didn’t seem to agree with as there have been numerous instances of faults on these ‘new and improved’ trains causing yet more delays to the network.

Leaves on the Line

Now granted this is also the fault of Network Rail the government owed subsidiary that maintains the trains, but in this country we have 4 seasons that means autumn happens EVERY year!!!
Now with leaf fall also being seasonal it should come as no surprise when it happens EVERY year!!! To me a way forward could be maybe having some sort of contingency plan for leaf fall to go into action every autumn a deal with the inevitable.

Short Formed Due to Various Reasons

The biggest issues for the long suffering commuter not having enough carriages to accommodate all commuters on the platform.
Now Arriva have had the Northern franchise for a few years now so are well aware of the numbers of commuters they have using their franchise.
In the beginning people could kind of understand the excuse of them having to deal with historic stock, but now most people would expect by now that they are able to deal with the demands of the service.
I have personally seen it get very nasty on platforms in both a morning and night when people cannot physically get on services due to overcrowding.
Your heart sinks every time you see a 2 car service arriving in place of a 3 car service, and knowing you will either be squished up against another commuter or left stranded on the platform. When their is only one train an hour from that station it makes a mockery of having it open in the first place.

In the end MR. Brown and the board at Northern, and also the board of Arriva either cannot comprehend or more likely just care the misery they are placing on commuters on a daily basis.
How they effect a persons work life balance, and may in the end start costing people jobs due to a lack of punctuality entirely out of their control.
Then when people protest the appalling service on platforms such as Twitter they get blocked from posting!! Truth hurt much?

I would appeal to whomever is in charge of the country after the 12th December to do something about this mess. It is unacceptable to put prices up year on year and then expect people to deal with a service like the one we have already. Paying us lip service and then doing nothing only serves to show how not thought of the north of this country is.
I would also ask Chief executives and politicians alike how much is enough? How much money are you going to take from us with absolutely nothing in return?
If you are literally rolling in money as most executives and politicians are why do you need more? Could you not redirect some back into the service that is provided?

Food for thought at least.

As always my opinions are my own are thank you for reading.

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The Sad State of English Football

Now many may feel I am way off the mark with my title. It is also true to say that the Premier League by in large flourishes with the TV money generated every time their contract is renewed. It is also true to say that parachute payments to teams relegated from the Premier League has increased as the TV money has increased, and the amount in general the Premier League gives to other divisions has also increased.
However this is only a small part of the story. I am will not be far off base  by stating that the gulf between the cash rich top of English football and grass roots has never been wider. Teams in lower leagues struggle year in and year out to survive, constantly hoping against hope that this year is going to be the year of an epic cup run that will take in several premier league sides and maybe even a trip to Wembley (as a Bradford City fan I can confirm it does occasionally happen).

Focus then must fall on the recent plights of two famous old names in English football, Bury F.C. 2 time winners of the F.A Cup (1900 and 1903), and Bolton Wanderers, four time winners of the same competition (1923,1926,1929, and 1958), and members of the Premier League as recently as 2012.
Now in the case of Bury I must confess I always associated them as being in a tight financial situation for as long as I can remember, however Bolton I always assumed had been one of the success stories of a smaller team not the size of the big 6 in the Premier League continually punching above their weight.
So most recently Bury have been expelled from the league despite winning promotion to League One last season, as they failed to provide the league with sufficient proof they had the funds to complete the season. The first team since Maidstone United were expelled in the 1990’s (I seem to remember Aldershot suffering the same fate around the same time) to actually be expelled. This happened less than a year after a new owner (Steve Dale) bought the club for £1 from the previous owner (Stuart Day). Dale claimed the debts of the  club were far in excess of anything he was led to believe prior to owning it, however instead of simply selling up again for aforementioned £1 he paid for it Dale was insisting on a large figure in order to relinquish control.
All of this after it had been reported Dale was also not subject at the time to the football leagues fit and proper persons test, a mechanism where by the league assesses the prospective new owner for fitness to own a football club.
Now contrast this with Bolton Wanderers who were thankfully taken over by the Football Ventures consortium at the 11th hour when they were also given a deadline to provide proof they had the financial backing to complete a full season.
Here the ownership  of the club had latterly been with Ken Anderson after Dean Holdsworth’s company had gone bust. Anderson came in for sharp criticism from the administrators of the club after the sale with them stating Anderson had put  many barriers in place to selling the club being out ‘only for himself.’
Contrast this to the estate of former owner Eddie Davies who wrote  off millions  of pounds in debt owed to them in order to help make the takeover happen (in fact I believe just before he sadly passed away Eddie Davies had loaned the club under Ken Anderson about £5 million to  keep  it solvent).
Thankfully enough was done in order to push the takeover through and happily (unlike Bury) Bolton survive in the league to fight another day.

Now in both cases 2 entities have come in for massive criticism for the plight of these 2 clubs. Firstly we have the respective owners Steve Dale and Ken Anderson, and secondly we have the football league themselves and in particular the fit and proper persons test that is supposed to protect clubs from bad ownership.
If I can start with Bury F.C. I will say in my opinion Steve Dale has done himself no favours in the way he has called the fans on numerous occasions and even admitted at one point that prior to owning Bury F.C. he had never been to the town or even knew where it was located. Listening  to various interviews and reading commentary on various platforms it became clear all Dale was interesting in doing was playing down his part in the mess, and trying to express how hard he had worked to try and save the club via a company voluntary agreement etc… I will say here however that someone had sent something nasty to Steve Dale’s daughter and if that is true I do find this disgusting. Dale’s daughter as far as I know had nothing to do with the situation at Bury F.C. other than being related to the owner. This does not show compassion or sympathy for the club and only serves to highlight the problems in our society when idiots don’t think they can be caught (see internet trolls for more on that one).
Another point I will make is that the club had some very questionable loans already in place on assets such as the stadium that had been negotiated prior to the Dale takeover. This was highlighted by the consortium looking to buy the club at the last minute who confirmed as much.
It seems to have transpired that Dale had never even passed the fit and proper persons test prior to his takeover that doe nothing but raise a few eyebrows from fans.

Now  in terms Bolton originally Anderson was part of a consortium that included Dean Holdsworth the former Wimbledon striker of the 1990s. His company went bust and the shares were bought out by Anderson. After that former owner Eddie Davies lent the club a further £5 million just before he sadly passed away and that should have set alarm bells ringing in my mind. After that it seems to have become clear from what the administrators said after the takeover by football ventures that Anderson was only in this for what he could get, and did not have the best interests of the club at heart. It seems clear he was less than willing to compromise if it meant what he received from the club was in any way diminished despite players and more importantly hard working administration and hotel staff being unpaid for months and Anderson was a secured creditor so was definitely going to get something.

In both cases the football league was supposed to have done due diligence on both owners to make sure they were ‘fit and proper’ to run a football club, however shortly after both reigns started they ended with the clubs in dire financial states, and they are by no means the exception but rather the rule.
To me clubs are community assets that have been around most of them since the late 19th early 20th century. Some fans put their hearts and souls in to supporting their teams through thick and thin, and a lot of owners (as Dale mentioned in one of his own rants) didn’t even know where the town or city was when they bought the club.
Every club no matter how big and small has a core of supporters who will always be loyal to their club. The size of this hardcore support varies wildly but it is there at every club.
To me some owners seek to fly in the face of the support in order to make money, or have so much money that multi millions of pounds will not be missed. Those in the Premier league who do not believe their club owner fits into one or other of these categories is in my opinion deluded. The fact is there is so much money at the top of football and so many greedy people who want a cut of that do you really think if the government suddenly made it difficult to make millions out of clubs in the Premier League that so many foreign owners would give their clubs the time of day.
Anyway to get back on track the examples of clubs being badly run in the football league is vast as teams continually overspend and are then playing catch up, and the football league seems to keep letting this happen.
Now I know some will say not only do we have the fit and proper persons test but also the financial fair play rules based on turnover, but the fact remains there are ways around this and clubs attempt to find more loop holes.
My thought is that clubs should also live within their means that would have a 2 fold effect. Firstly they would be closer to breaking even and spending would be more responsible, and secondly players would be unable to demand so much money if all clubs refuse to pay it. While clubs are willing to pay so much for transfer fees and wages players will continue to demand it. Should all clubs refuse such high wages then the cost of players will go down. Not going to happen but it is a nice thought.

In the end I do not blame the Premier League for not helping either club but I do believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that money has ruined sport and will continue to do so. Money talks but if ITV digital teaches us anything it is that it would take very little for football to collapse, should the cost of TV rights begin to diminish I think you would see clubs begin to fail higher up.
I also believe that the government should step in realise the history and lineage of sports clubs and insist on 2 things, firstly that clubs should always be majority fan owned (51% or above), secondly that investors should be legally held to a business plan for clubs, legally binding them to be  financially responsible if a club fails and being forced to open their own wallets if we get to this situation again. It will definitely reduce the investment in football, but then those who do invest will be true fans. They should also limit what  can be taken out of clubs through things such as consultancy fees.

 

As always my opinions are my own and thank you so much for reading.

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Brexit STILL GOING ON!!!

Good evening all it has been a while!!

I have taken a bit of a break since my last post but on the subject of Brexit nothing seems to have changed!! We are still stuck in as much deadlock as we were when I last broached the subject, and parliament is gridlocked!!
The problem I feel (as I have stated before many times) is the majority of parliament didn’t want out of the EU in the first place, and the Brexiteers are too few in number to pass anything!!

Since I last tapped out any wordage on the subject Theresa May has resigned, Jeremy Corbyn has moved slightly more towards advocating a second referendum while all the while worrying about what will happen to MP’s in mainly leave areas.
Jo Swinson is the new Lib Dem leader and the party seems to have gained some traction for its stance as a staunchly remain party.
The SNP continue to plot for the latest way to gain Scottish independence, while the Tories in Westminster unwittingly try to find new ways to help them achieve this (I point to the name of the party for any who disagree with my perspective).
The Brexit party predictably performed well in the European Elections and are still around with Nigel Farage being predictable.
Finally Boris Johnson achieved his lifelong ambition of becoming prime minister (I’m sure daddy is very proud)!!

I will quickly mention something about Theresa May who in the end did the decent thing and resigned.
First thing for me to say here is I did not envy Theresa May one bit for the job she took on after Cameron retreated to the shadows after calling the in/out EU referendum of 2016, loosing it and refusing to take responsibility for the aftermath.
However I also believe that her unwillingness to compromise any red lines in the negotiations of our exit led to a deal being struck that could never pass in parliament. Her inability to offer any role to other parties in the process only sought to compound the problems still being felt in parliament today.
Of course we also had the disaster of the snap election called in 2017 where May lost her majority in parliament and was forced to rely on another party to form a workable government going forward. This seriously under mined her authority when her premiership was in its infancy, and to me is one of the major reasons May was forced to leave Number 10.
That being said the already hinted at divisions in this country caused by EU membership that the referendum only highlighted further were a challenge a politician like May (who was not the best public speaker we have ever had) could not climb over.
It was an impossible challenge to unite a divided people and a divided parliament, and May to me is simply a scapegoat for the problems felt by all politicians at the moment.

I am not a fan of Boris!! This is an opinion I feel I must state now before I go any further. To me Boris is simply a person born into privilege who has been conditioned to take a privileged role in politics, and quite predictably joined the most privileged party in our political system.
An old Etonian who knows about as much about the struggles of everyday citizens  as I do about quantum physics, or how to build a house!! I am not the biggest fan of people who are given everything and expect to live a champagne lifestyle (Jacob Rees – Mogg comes to mind as well for this, and what a shock he now has a privileged place in government).
That being said I will say one thing for Boris and the right wing takeover of the government, at the very least they have a defined position on Brexit. The first government in 3 years to have the courage of its conviction, and whether I agree with the position or not I at least appreciate that we could be heading to a conclusion to the first round of the mess we find ourselves in!!! After 3 years and all the negativity on all sides of the argument we at least have a government with a pretty obvious position whatever they would lead you believe.
I believe Johnson is trying to do two things in relation to Brexit: Firstly I believe he is attempting to strong arm concessions from the EU by showing how serious he and his government are to take the country out of the EU with no deal if they have two.
Secondly I believe he is attempting to position his party as the leave party in the event of a government collapse and the inevitable general election that will follow either scenario.
I do not believe even Boris believes he has the mandate to govern this country for the long term, and the way the majority of parliament is staunchly in the remain camp I see it as merely a matter of time before a general election happens either through Boris calling it soon after no deal, or a vote of no confidence being successful in the government.
Currently we have a game of chess going on in parliament between Brexiteers and those who voted for remain.
Corbyn has a meeting with other parties to discuss how to use legislation and the political process.
Boris in no uncertain terms confirms to all we will leave the EU  no ifs no buts on 31st October this year.
Swinson calls for a temporary national unity government in order to extend the leave date (AGAIN REALLY AARRGGHH), and then have time to call a general election and possibly a SECOND referendum!!!
Boris ramps up no deal planning and gives Gove the task of making sure we will be ready no matter what.
Sturgeon wants another referendum (surprised I think not).
John McDonnell tells an audience at the Edinburgh fringe that he will send Corbyn in a taxi to the queen to take over as Prime Minister if Boris refuses to go after a vote of no confidence.
Boris seeks to suspend parliament for longer than normal to set a ‘new agenda’ (not in anyway to shorten the time parliament has to effect avoiding a no deal Brexit)???
Legal advice sort and much outrage expressed that the Tories would even think of doing this, and possibly a few people laughing out loud that this is being sold as a case of procedure.
Even speaker of the house Bercow who in my terms has been at times far from impartial in his handling of the Brexit process in the house expresses outrage at the prospect of this happening.

Actually I think my analogy is slightly wide of the mark here. This is a game of chicken and the country waits with baited breath to see who will blink first!!!

Now lets get something straight here whether we leave or whether we stay does anyone really think that this is going to suddenly unite the country? I certainly don’t!!
If we leave and more to the point if we crash out without a deal then slightly less than 17 million people will feel cheated, and no doubt there will be protests and plans to re enter Europe as soon as possible no matter the cost!! Outrage will fill ever facet of the newspapers and be all over social media. There will doubtless be crying in the streets and young people claiming their futures have been ruined by old unenlightened people who can’t see past their racist views on immigration and ‘foreigners’!!!
On the other hand if we get yet ANOTHER extension to the Brexit or we get a second referendum, or if article 50 is revoked then slightly more than 17 million people will feel cheated, no doubt there will be protests and plans to finally see the results of the original referendum honoured, and well you get the general idea that I’m trying to convey here. If we think that either scenario is going to suddenly unite the country then I think we will be sadly mistaken. Whoever wins a large amount of people will feel cheated whatever happens here, and the debates and analysis will drive us crazy for years and years to come. All I will say here is that all the referendum has done for many people within our country is make it a less happy place to live, neighbour and colleague have been set against each other with a strongly held set of views, and arguments about this have become more frequent. Cameron has stirred up one hell of a hornets nest and then ran away to safety with the stick he used to hit the nest with still in hand. I for one do not like the general nastiness that has been brought to the surface from all of this.

The sad truth as well that we may have to face is that Boris could well win a majority at any future election especially if the Brexit deadline is missed again.
Why you may ask? Well Jo Swinson can claim all she wants that there are more people in this country supporting remain than leave, but unless that support can be focused to overcome our voting system then Boris or leave supporters could have a working majority in parliament, and its 1983 all over again!!
For those not old enough to remember this election (and I am not although I did take politics at A – level) Labour and the Liberal/SDP alliance had very similar shares of the national vote, however because Labour could rely on traditional supporter basis in specific areas they achieved massively more seats. If the Tory support is more focused and the rest more spread it is not stupid to suggest the Tories could get a majority in parliament, and add to this a further supply agreement with the Democratic
Unionists of Northern Ireland and we could get a no deal Brexit regardless.
Another fact I found interesting is that local parties are threatening not to reselect MP’s we want to remain in Tory areas if an election is called and will vote for a Brexit candidate changing the demographics in parliament.

Either way we have 2 months to either avert no deal with a deal or something else, or a no deal. I for one will just be happy whatever happens for this process to end, but unfortunately I feel whichever way we turn the aftermath will be felt for generations to come!!

As always my opinions are my own and thank you for reading my ramblings!!

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Council Elections Voter Backlash!!!

So last Thursday in the UK we had our local council elections. This marked the first election test for the main parties since the Brexit deadline was missed in March.
First thing to say about this was that the turnout was only slightly below what is the norm for local elections in this country, so not the stay at home protest most were suspecting.
Secondly it is worth noting that there were no elections taking place in Scotland or Wales so we are unable to judge the mood of the electorate in those two countries.
Thirdly and something I do consider to be a very important point is that historically the UK electorate has used local and European elections to show their disdain for the largest two parties in parliament. The ‘protest vote’ seems to be felt most keenly when these two elections come round.
Finally historically we do tend to see the party in power loosing seats during these elections, in a very similar way that mid term elections in the USA can see the party of the President loose seats in either the Senate or Congress. So the fact the party of power loss seats in this election should not be seen as entirely surprising (although the amount lost by the Tories is perhaps more significant).

Okay so might be worth at this point showing what the actual result are:

Conservatives lost 1335 Council seats
Labour lost 82 Council seats
The Liberal Democrats gained 704 Council seats
The Green Party gained 194 Council seats
UKIP lost 145 Council seats
Independents and smaller parties gained 662 Council seats

So to start with the party currently in power at Westminster the Conservative Party, they suffered their worst hammering in council elections since a John Major led party lost 2000 council seats in 1995. 2 years after this election Major would suffer a landslide defeat to a resurgent ‘New’ Labour under Tony Blair in the general election. This also led to many years out of government for the Tories until Cameron brought them back to power in the coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
I feel it is quite ironic that the 2019 Conservative Party should be drawing such parallels with the Major led party of 1995, and I think if you look you can see some glaring similarities between the two.
Firstly we have a perceived weak leader problem with Theresa May who has lost control of her party, that is being torn apart by huge divisions on the EU (as this is what Brexit boils down to). Major was seen as a weak leader who failed to properly control his party, and there were always commentators who stated his leadership was about to come to an end. There were also huge divisions between Euro Sceptics and, Pro Europeans who had been scrapping over the signing of the Maastricht treaty in 1992 as well as other issues.
Fast forward to 2019 and we have a weak leader failing to control her hugely divided party, who are scrapping over Hard, Soft, and no Brexit.
The Tories have been punished by Brexiteers and remainers alike. Brexiteers for their inability to successfully exit from the EU, and remainers for not either stopping Brexit altogether, or advocating a softer option.
Tories did come out and state this was not going to be about Brexit but local issues, however if history has taught us anything it is that local elections have been used for protest votes for many years so this should not be seen as a surprise to anyone.
May could very well end up being one of the most disliked Prime Ministers in history! Certainly since I became interested in politics, since either Major or Brown in my reckoning, however I do see this as being slightly unfair.
I will concede that May should go, and made one of the most monumental gaffs in history when she called unscheduled election and loss her majority (made on some very bad advice as to her popularity, and the lack of support for the opposition). It is also true to say that far from uniting her party to ‘get Brexit done’ she has succeeded in dividing her party to the point some have joined with Labour to forma new ‘centre ground’ party.
However I think she took on what seems to be becoming an increasingly impossible situation to deliver a Brexit that can actually pass a vote in the house.
The main culprit in all of this of course for Brexit in the first place David Cameron immediately retreated into the shadows as soon as his ploy to unite his party back fired so spectacularly with the referendum result. This has left May having to field all the flack and ill feeling from both sides since taking on the leadership role, while Cameron sits pretty in his mansion in Oxfordshire being able to deflect almost all blame for the mess we call a parliament at the moment!!
Now I am not saying May has done herself any favours with her stubbornness,  and unwillingness to compromise to this point on virtually anything Brexit related, while all the while touting a deal that nobody in parliament can find a majority for. However I do think she was the only politician willing to take this thankless task on when Cameron washed his hands of it. Johnson, Gove and others all walked away from the leadership when it was there to be contested and May accepted the challenge that nobody else would, and whatever her reasons for doing it, she stood up.

This leads us on nicely to the Labour Party who as a perceived party of government in waiting should have capitalised fully on the capitulation of the Tories, however this has not been the case at all!!
Should Labour be a government in waiting then there should not have been a loss of seats in this election, but rather a net gain. Going back to 1995 as a point of comparison as Labours landslide general election victory under Blair was just around the corner, Labour gained 468 seats. A net loss of 82 in this local election does not fill anyone with confidence that Labour will conquer all come the next general election whenever it happens.
Indecisiveness over Brexit themselves and whether they will outright back a second referendum or not, as well as scandals involving anti – Semitism, and the fact a lot of the parliamentary party don’t like the leadership (Change UK anyone), shows us if anything Labour are as divided as the Tories are albeit on different issues.
To me another example of a weak leader who some see as revolutionary and others see as out of touch. The point with Corbyn though is I feel as though he is incredibly indecisive, but I can see why.
In my opinion Labour have in some ways an even more difficult job keeping their supporters happy than the Tories do. A large part of the heartland Labour northern support voted to leave the EU. Corbyn cannot seen to be endorsing staying within the EU as it could be a electoral disaster in Labour heartlands. By the same token in some parts of the south and London in particular there was a strong feeling to remain within the EU, and to be seen to endorse anything other than a very soft Brexit will loose support within the Labour supporting London borough’s. In many ways the Labour party is caught more between a rock and a hard place than the Tories are, however it is not exactly a performance you would be expecting to see from a future government.
In fact I did see a survey where it was claimed if the general election was held tomorrow and the votes in the locals reflected accurately then both main parties would receive 28% of the vote each, so another hung parliament.

The Liberal Democrats received a surge in numbers at the local elections, and their leader Vince Cable stated every vote for them would be a vote to stop Brexit (another example of a politician respecting democracy then!!! Yet again would be worth pointing out had the result been the other way around we wouldn’t be having these discussions, and remainers would be at best smug, and at worst dismissive).
My personal opinion of this is that the Liberal Democrats have always been the party of the protest vote, and apart from their time as the coalitions junior partner  have never translated this into seats in a general election.
The survey had them on 19% of the vote, however if we look back at the 1983 election where the Liberal/SDP alliance almost got the same voter share as the Labour party under Michael Foot but virtually no seats, I cannot see this translating to many more seats in parliament at any subsequent election.
One thing I will say however is that if nothing else the Liberal Democrats are united under their belief the UK should cancel Brexit, and sing from the same hymn sheet something the larger parties in parliament could learn from.
I may not share the position of the Liberal Democrats but I do appreciate a party that has a united view point on Brexit, even if it does fly in the face of democracy, and to cancel Brexit without putting it in to law that all subsequent referendums would be politically binding makes a mockery of the whole political process (if you cannot tell already I take exception to anyone who stands above me like a rich land owner to his staff and pats me on the head like a child while stating ‘there there you got it wrong this time so we will try again until you give me the answer I want)!!
Sorry to disappoint those who voted Yellow at this election but to think they could achieve anything like the levels of MP’s in parliament that Ashdown, or Kennedy achieved is a pipe dream.

UKIP was no big surprise as they seem to have little actual direction under any leader other than Nigel Farage, and they have very much lost their way since the referendum achieved the parties ultimate goal.
I will not endorse any racist, or sexist positions that members of this party seem to take, as I find these positions abhorrent, but it seems nobody within the party seems capable of forming an effective position opposite to the Liberal Democrats that every vote for them is a vote for Brexit.
I would of thought this could have been a natural position for this party given the fractured nature of parliament at the moment, but this does not seem to be the case.
It would seem it has been left up to Nigel Farage to once again be the champion of Brexit, and I predict here and now his new Brexit Party will make inroads in the European elections on 23rd May.

A big shout out to all those independents who achieved seats in this election. To me this is where the protest votes should have gone for a couple of reasons. Firstly I don’t think any major political party is worthy of voters time at the moment, and I feel that a lot of members of parliament should hang there heads in shame for putting self interest and party politics above the will of the people, and the answer they gave to politicians when they voted to leave the EU.
Another big reason is that a lot of these people are local residents who truly know the areas where they live, and not too tarnished by being a politician for so long that a sense of entitlement is seen as some right, and not a privilege to serve the local community (I do not suggest for a minute that all councillors who lost their seats are this way).
Finally I do think that the influx of potential fresh faces into the political arena could be the start of the next generation of leaders, and who knows we could get another perceived Churchill, rather than a Major.

In the end my thoughts are the longer the Brexit issue goes unresolved the more the larger parties will ultimately suffer at the ballot box. This might not be an altogether bad thing as we may see the back of some of the stalest politicians in the world right now in favour another generation who we can only hope would be more decisive and innovative than the current crop at Westminster.

As always my opinions are my own and thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog.

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