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.


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.


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.



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!!


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.


Thank you!!!

Just a quick post to say thank you one and all for your comments and views of my last post, the response has been literally overwhelming!!!

It took 12 years to pluck up the courage to write my last piece, and I thank you all for reading.

There is more to tell, and blog entitled something like the aftermath will be written in the future detailing the struggles of grief and my breakdown of two years after the events of 2007. Maybe not straight away as it involves having to relive some very dark days.

For now I thank you for your support in this deeply personal matter.


Our Twins 12 Years On

So its late where I am currently and I find myself reflecting.
This time of year is always very difficult for me and my partner as it marks the darkest time of our lives.
Reverse back for a moment to 2007, we had been married for less than a year and were looking forward to the arrival of twins. I remember the time vividly Easter was coming early at the end of March and we had around 3 months to go before our happy arrival.
I am always fuzzy on dates but I remember a few days before everything happened my partner had suffered pain in the car outside a local supermarket. It came and went within a few minutes and we thought nothing much about it..
I had just gotten home from work a few days later and was met with a phone call from my partners boss who informed me that my partner had been admitted to hospital with quite severe pain.
I got a taxi to the hospital and thanked my partners boss for staying until I arrived. I had zero idea what was going on, but called all relevant relatives.
After a while the pain subsided and as a precaution I was told they would be keeping my partner in over night as a precaution.
I was ultimately taken home and thought nothing further about it. The next morning I was supposed to be working but I phoned in and explained then got a taxi to the hospital (or I was picked up I can’t actually remember that bit).
I went in and my partner had been scanned by the doctor who had been looking after her (by an absolute fluke they were on call that weekend), the doctor was a twin specialist and after hearing the symptoms was very concerned.
The scan showed a condition known as twin to twin transfusion syndrome and it was very serious.
Now when I heard this term I remembered a conversation we had had with the doctor some months before where twin to twin was mentioned.
I distinctly remembered although maybe not in the right order that there was something like a 15% chance of it happening and then if it does just a 20% chance of it being the worse it can be. I am always saddened to say we hit the worst on both counts.
Now for those who don’t know I will try to explain without being too graphic, and in a way that I understood at the time.
For this to happen the babies have to share a placenta, which they did. The placenta feeds both babies through series of tubes a bit like veins or arteries that serve as the food givers to the babies.
In twin to twin some of these tubes (I guess) fuse together and cut off the supply of goodness to one twin or the other.
Upshot of this is mummy eats to cater for both babies, one baby gets everything putting them at risk of stroke, and the other baby gets nothing meaning they can no longer develop.
Now it was Easter weekend so the hospital was working on a skeleton staff in the maternity wing, however we were told should the babies survive to Monday then we would be taken to Leeds to the general infirmary (for anyone who knows Leeds). There we would have a detailed scan performed where the health of the babies would be ascertained and we would see if we were eligible to travel to London and have the placenta have pioneering surgery performed where some of the ‘tubes’ could potentially be unblocked and feeding improved for both babies.
During that weekend we were on the delivery suite of the Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI) and I kept asking the question to my wife (I need to stop typing partner as I am sure you read between the lines by now), can you feel the babies moving?
It was around this time we also noticed that one side of the tummy was sticking out much further than the other, this we were told was the result of one baby growing at an increased rate and the other not growing at all so the size changed.
We made it to Monday we thought with both babies still hanging on, and went to Leeds hoping against hope that all would be okay.
I think at the time I was really struggling to process what was actually happening, it was a time where nothing really seemed real and I didn’t believe it was actually happening to us or our babies!
I remember talking to the ambulance driver in the front seat on the way over to Leeds. I explained our situation and how serious we had been told it was. The two person ambulance crew waited with us until we were called in, and I cannot quite remember if we said goodbye to the ambulance crew then or after the first scan, but I do remember the driver giving my wife a hug and crying as she was wheeled into the scanning room.
So the scan was performed and we found out so sadly that one of our babies was dead, I have never really shared my thoughts on this but I just remember she was floating there lifeless and my stomach did that thing where it just drops (the best way I can describe it).
My wife became hysterical (as you can no doubt understand) and this put her in premature labour, so we were whisked to the delivery suite just in case our still living baby was delivered there and then.
The normal injections were given that  all premature labour mummies will remember for the lungs and we waited. Thankfully delivery at this point was averted and we were able to go back down and have a second scan to our living baby (apologies to any readers who find my language crude by the way, this post is just going to flow in the best way I can explain the events of 2007).
I remember in a private room where we were taken we discussed names for our babies. We had already said we were going to call them Lucy and Bryonie (not an incorrect spelling of the name as some may think), but we had never decided on which on would have which name. I remember telling my wife that the baby still living could be called Lucy and my thinking was that name had been her preference for one of the babies. Mine had been Bryonie and so I thought this would best fit our sweet angel who had passed, although I never really know why.
When my wife was scanned again we were told although Lucy was in what was to her an Olympic sized swimming pool of fluid she seemed to be healthy and relatively happy. It also just got me thinking she would have been the one who knew her sister best lying next to her for Bryonie’s whole life, I wonder if she was able to comfort her sister as she passed (I have no idea why I just thought of that now)?
We were allowed back to Bradford and the BRI and told basically the longer Lucy stays inside the womb the better her chances of survival. For Bryonie her body would have to stay in there as well and would wither away as Lucy grew, I always think she died in an attempt to save her sister that unrelenting bond all siblings seem to have to lay their lives on the line for the other. This always seems extra specially potent with twins and I will always believe Bryonie did everything she could to help save her sisters life. The ultimate sacrifice from my brave darling baby girl that I will never forget.
Between then and the 5th April when my darling girls were born we passed a very important milestone in their development.
I am not sure if everyone is aware but when you loose a baby below 6 months gestation they are not considered a person in the eyes of the law but a late miscarriage. This robs many parents of the right to call their babies people (and we know someone who this happened to just before we lost our twins). After 6 months babies are considered people in the legal sense and therefore have a right to a death certificate for example. Now there may be those of you out there who scoff at a parent who wanted a death certificate, but to us it was priceless and proved in the eyes of the law they existed. When you lose babies as we have and have so few possessions of your deceased children this certificate becomes priceless and the proof of your child’s existence is everything to you. There is nothing worth than someone telling you they never existed to begin with.

Sadly on the 5th April 2007 premature delivery of our babies became inevitable and unstoppable. Lucy arrived first and within 5 minutes had been whisked away very poorly to the neo – natal team who I cannot praise highly enough for their efforts in keeping Lucy going in her short life.
Bryonie came next still within her amniotic sack, my mum was with us when our babies were delivered and I remember her saying Bryonie was perfect, and she was she really really was!
The staff were really respectful even though she had passed on, she was weighed and wrapped up in towels just as any baby would be living or otherwise, and then one of the most tragic yet proud moments of my life!! I got to hold my Bryonie in my arms for the first and pretty much the only time. I cried uncontrollably that day and my mum said it was okay to cry and I should not try to hold back just because she was in the room.
My wife was exhausted as any new mummy can no doubt relate to but also got the chance to hold Bryonie as well. To this day I only wish I had held her for longer.
I stayed at my mum and dads that night and three things stuck out in my mind between going to leave the hospital and coming back the next day.
Firstly when I went back in to the delivery room where my wife was sleeping to get my coat I distinctly remember someone calling my name Thomas behind me. Now my wife was very definitely asleep and there was nobody else in the room at the time. I do not subscribe to believing in ghosts or anything like (although I remain a I’ll believe it when I see irrefutable proof  sceptic), but it wasn’t the first time this had happened to me. On the delivery suite in Leeds when my wife was asleep after averting early labour I was turned facing a wall and I distinctly heard a voice say Tom behind me. I do believe as well that the human mind is an amazing thing that can create all sorts in order to help with things like grief so I don’t think this can be ruled out.
Secondly I got the chance to see Lucy in an incubator before she had been fully worked on by the staff. I remember her skin was almost translucent at the time given how premature she was.
Lastly I had a drink of Brandy with my parents that night as well.

So I will conclude Bryonies story first as she deserves to  be mentioned on her own the proud daddy that I am.
Bryonie was bathed and dressed by the staff in the BRI, her picture was taken and hand and foot prints taken. She was so small and yet so perfectly formed, apart from being slightly bruised from the whole ordeal she almost looked like a baby sleeping, my perfect little star.
Bryonie was buried on the 23rd April 2007 (my brothers birthday) at the BRI’s own Snow Drop Garden at Scholemore Cemetery in Bradford.  When you stand within the garden you can see the maternity wing of the BRI, an irony not lost on either of us.
Our time was so brief and yet so potent and my sweet sweet star was laid to rest in a grave yard where so many members of my extended family are buried, including 2 of my grandparents.

For Lucy who like her sister defines the term fighter as far as I am concerned her story continued.
Moved to the LGI to have an emergency heart operation Lucy battled and fought everything including the sedation medication during her tragically short life.
Although the heart operation was a resounding success the doctors and nurses could not improve the condition of Lucy’s lungs, and she became ever more reliant on artificial ventilation to breath.
We were told the Monday before she passed that if she had not turned a corner with her breathing by the end of the week, the likelihood was she would not be able to recover.
The Wednesday after this talk I broke down in tears as the reality of Lucy’s situation dawned, and I realised even with all the money in the world and the worlds best doctors and nurses money could buy nothing further could be done to keep our little fighter alive. I even swore I would join the church and become a vicar if somehow god could intervene to save her life, yet this plea fell as most always do on deaf ears! The events that occurred in 2007 drained any lingering faith I may have had from me. Today churches are just very well engineered buildings to be admired for their architecture, rather than the message they try to sell as far as I am concerned (but that is perhaps a topic for another day).
Lucy passed on the 5th May 2007 exactly one calendar month after she was born. In her short life she had shown what fighting for survival really meant, and despite the miniscule odds didn’t know when she was beaten.
Another very poignant moment we had with Lucy happened in the morning before she died. My wife had always wrestled with the notion of turning off the machines keeping Lucy alive and wanted to speak to a doctor firstly before allowing it to happen (and what parent wouldn’t).
After all had been explained and the doctor had gone through everything with a fine tooth combe my wife agreed that this was the right decision a nurse entered the room (I swear this is almost the exact time my wife had agreed) to inform us Lucy was really struggling and needed urgent assistance. To me it was almost as if her mum telling her it was okay to go and Lucy took this as permission to join her sister who had been waiting for her all this time. Together again at last.
The night before her death my wife got to hold Lucy for the first time. The picture still has  pride of place in our living room. I remember telling her not to cry as this was actually a very happy moment, the first time you hold your baby is always special and I didn’t want to tragic consequences of the next day to hang heavy on this moment.

I got the honour of carrying Lucy to the quite family room once the machines were unplugged and Lucy was allowed to go. I say honour as this was the first time I got to hold my Lucy and even though she began to slip away while in my arms this was still my moment to be a daddy to her. If I was going to do nothing else for her in her short life I was going to carry her to the family room.
She was buried in the same vault as her sister on the 16th May 2007 (the same date as when me and my wife got together back in 2003 as boyfriend and girlfriend).
Another honour I had was to carry both tiny little coffins into the crematorium where the services took place. I would never be able to walk them down the isle at their weddings (if they ever wanted to), but I carried their coffins into that building. They were so small  and so light I remember this vividly.

So this is the story of our twins  Lucy Charlotte, and Bryonie Catherine. There lives were so short, but their impact on just me personally has been so profound. I can honestly state that my mindset completely changed during this period and this was the point in my life where I officially ‘grew up!’
It also showed me how cruel life can be, and how illogical some aspects of life are.
As time has gone on and we are now 12 years removed from 2007 there are times where I will honestly say the events of 2007 seemed such a long time ago.
However as I sit here with sore eyes and tears staining my cheeks I can also say there are times especially around this time of year when everything comes flooding back and the events of 2007 feel as though they happened yesterday. I relieve the sites and smells of that time so clearly right down to the finest details of the walk to the neo – natal department in the Clarendon Wing of the LGI.
I also sometimes find it very strange that I was born in the old Maternity hospital on Hyde Terrace behind the Clarendon Wing (which was its replacement). My life began only a few hundred feet from where we found out Bryonie had died, and where Lucy ultimately lost her fight for life.

I normally do a brief Facebook post to mark  the twins birthday but didn’t this year. Suddenly I felt compelled to grab the laptop and right the story of my twins in a much longer format for all to read. I stress this is my recollection of the events 12 years ago and  may not tally up exactly with others who were there.

I feel as I though I should end on these thoughts that have just crept into my head.
To all those who would say it wasn’t meant to be, or it happened for a reason I will retort that if you had been there an seen how hard my twins fought to live you would realise how wrong those statements are.
As for my grief? Time can make events seem a long time ago, but it is just like pulling off a plaster on a wound that has not quite healed and then picking the scab. The blood  will flow again whether you want it too or not, and time will never heal the gap that will be in my life until the day I eventually pass myself.

Thanks for reading.


Should I Ever Vote Again?

Good evening dear readers (no idea why I started this blog like I am Danny DeVito in L.A. Confidential).
I think I am getting used to blogging again, and enjoying it!

So I am afraid I must return to my default subject politics!!
What have we learnt over the last few days in the nursery we are supposed to trust to run the country?
Well after Theresa May tried to lay the blame for a lack of Brexit squarely at the well funded doors of parliament, and the resultant inevitable parliamentary backlash. We are no closer to any decision on our countries future than we were at the beginning of this whole process.
A series of indicative votes were held trying to find a way forward and parliament tried to seize  control of the Brexit process from the government. From this we found out parliament hasn’t the first clue of what to do with Brexit, and all 8 proposals were rejected meaning we  are no closer to any solution.
Theresa May then played what I believe could be the final card she has to play and offered to step aside should her Brexit deal be passed by parliament, and the DUP have still refused to back the deal because of the Irish backstop.
There is more but as you can see from this brief synopsis we are still in a right old mess!! Nobody knows what to do with the Brexit process because only a few MP’s actually wanted to see the UK leave the EU.
Added to this the fact whatever anyone says you can not convince me that the EU is not seeking to punish us for wanting to leave in the first place, and we have a heck of a crises on our hands!

This has led to many members of the public declaring they will never  vote again because parliament will never listen to what the ordinary person in the street has to say!! So should I ever vote again?
Well the first thing to say is that an advantage of living in this country is that when we vote in elections politicians have no choice but to listen so long as we are willing to vote against the political norms.
If we vote for the same tired old parties then nothing with EVER change!!!
So we have the council elections coming up, and if no consensus has been made on Brexit and we are left in the EU for longer than the short delay originally planned, we will have European Parliament elections as well and a promise from prominent Brexiteer Nigel Farage that he will create a new Brexit party to contest the elections.
If people vote the way they have always voted, so certain areas always vote for Labour and other areas always vote Conservative, then you will never see a change to what we already have.
However if people decide to be bold and vote a little differently then I believe we should definitely vote again!

Let me delve into this in a little more detail. Up and down the country there are areas that have always voted Labour, and that area almost always returns Labour MP’s. These areas tend to be but are not limited to the old industrial heartlands of the north and midlands, and the valleys of Wales. Tory voters have tended to be in more affluent areas either of the industrial cities, or the countryside.
In each of these ‘safe seats’ the majority always seem to go with the flow of the traditional party of the area, and only a few will vote against the trend of the main parties. You also get a lot of apathy within these areas where peoples attitudes are ‘well the same person always gets in anyway so why bother at all.’ Now I live in one of those seats and without giving too much away it is a norther former industrial heartland, so Labour almost always get into the seat in question.
Political parties tend to be very content in these areas and expect to win the seat. In fact in many respects they use these seats as ‘bankers’ in any election, so can almost always calculate a minimum number of seats they will win. Now I know as with anything there are exceptions to this rule  especially in bi – elections, but for the most part this theory does hold water.

Now this is why I believe we should still vote (apart from the fact people DID die to provide us with this privilege)!
I have always believed in proportional representation as the fairest way to decide elections, even though you may not get a majority of any single party and coalitions are far more common. However this question was asked in a recent election and was voted down so it will not happen any time soon (although I feel if the argument was properly made for PR then it would have passed).
So here is my radical notion for all voters in this country. Go against the grain!!! Vote against the established parties in every seat!! Whomever appears on the ballot paper who is not affiliated with the major parties (and are not part of the supposed independent group in parliament), give them your vote.
I deplore violence threatened or otherwise that is currently being lobbied against MP’s, however a method that would work amazingly and really would impact the establishment  is to vote for the independent or the non extreme fringe party. Send those people to parliament instead of the same tired politicians who refuse to enact the will of the people.
Instead of threatening violence against the MP of a constituency who voted to leave, but refuses to represent the will of the people who put them in parliament in the first place. Make sure they are not returned to parliament the next time you get the chance to vote for your MP!!
Check out the ballot and see who is named on there then select  the candidate who doesn’t represent a major party and give them the chance to do the will of the people and not their own will.

The parties that have failed to produce what the majority of the electorate voted for should be ejected from the political process altogether and others given the chance to shine who recognise the people who put them there.
People who might represent YOU instead of just themselves, and a point I would make here as an illustration is had the vote gone the other way would we still be having these discussions about a second referendum? Well no is the simple answer to this, people are flying off the handle because the vote didn’t go the way they wanted it to. However that is probably a full blog for another day.

In conclusion I will say if you want real change the please keep voting, but change you habits. If you want to punish those we sent to parliament then for goodness sake don’t threaten violence against them! Do something that will really make the political elite stand up and take notice, vote for the candidate who is not a part  of that elite and never has been. Vote for the independent candidate of fringe non extreme party. Let the establishment know we will not simply go away, we will not do what they want and not vote at all, because my guarantee about that is this. If you fail to vote change will NEVER happen and it is what the politicians want you to do. The less people vote the more likely the established candidate will win. The more angry voters vote the way I suggested, the more likely they are to realise we exist, and we are not something they can just scrape off their shoes because they stepped on us one too many times.

‘People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.’ (V for Vendetta 2004 film).

As always my opinions are my own and thanks for reading.