Rant O’Clock

Back when the last Labour leadership battle was on, I tried to officially join the party, for the princely sum of £3, so that I could vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

I say “tried” because they rejected my application on the grounds that they didn’t think I was a registered voter at my current address, despite me having been for a few years prior to the vote; indeed since living at my current address I’d voted in a General Election, in the EU Referendum, various council elections, and the vote about proportional representation. But, hey, if he didn’t want my support, no big shakes.

In a way – in fact, in three ways – this was a blessing in disguise.

  1. I was £3.00 richer
  2. My conscience is clear now that my support for Corbyn is utterly revoked, and
  3. I would have had to make a confession which would undoubtedly have led to me being expelled from the party.

For in the recent EU elections, for the first time in my life, I didn’t vote Labour. I voted Lib Dem, purely on the basis that they were one of the parties whose position on Brexit is explicitly clear.

Of course, Alistair Campbell – former “spin doctor” for Tony Blair, and a fully paid-up member of the Labour Party – wasn’t quite so lucky. He announced that he had voted the same way as I, and was promptly ejected from the party.

Now, this is a bit rich, isn’t it? Especially when you have the likes of Kate Hoey practically joined at the hip with Nigel Farage, who are allowed to (ironically) remain. Or that a blind eye is turned to the oh-so many Labour members who have been accused of anti-Semitism.

There were – you’ll be surprised to learn – a couple of other things which annoyed me about the media coverage and analysis of the EU elections and the council elections a couple of weeks earler.

Firstly, that my vote for the Lib Dems was a “protest vote”. No, it wasn’t. It was a vote for a political party with whom I agree on the matter of Brexit. If Labour had said that they opposed the idea, instead of trying to keep a foot in each camp and appease all, then I wouldn’t have switched allegiances.

Secondly, the council elections – where the Tories lost 1269 seats (but, admittedly, still held the majority), and where Labour lost 63, UKIP lost 36, but the Lib Dems (+676), the Greens (+185) – was portrayed as the electorate telling the government to “get on with Brexit”. No it wasn’t. It showed a clear resurgance in the two parties who have categorically stated that they’re against Brexit happening at all.

Thirdly, the EU election results being described as “a massive surge” towards The Brexit Party. No it wasn’t. Sure, they won the most seats, with the highest percentage of the vote. But: look at UKIP’s share. For whilst The Brexit Party won 31.6% of the vote – 29 seats – whilst UKIP lost 24.2% – 24 seats. I think it’s safe to say the other 7.4% are more likely to have swapped allegiances from Conservative to Brexit Party than to have come from anywhere else.

So, it’s fairly safe to say that there hasn’t been a massive swing towards The Brexit Party – it was their first election, so whatever happened was going to be an improvement on last time – rather all of UKIPs voters deserted them and a few Tories shifted their allegiance.

And then look at the two parties who explicitly oppose Brexit: the Lib Dems (20.34% of the vote, up 13.4%) and the Greens (12.1% of the vote, up 4.2%). Add those two percentages together: 32.44%. So that’s more support for the two Remain parties combined than for the one Brexit Party (for I don’t think you can call Labour or the Conservatives one or the other…at the moment…Tory leader elections pending…but more of that another time.)

So looking at the EU elections – which, traditionally, I accept, is the time when protest votes are likely as they’re not really considered to be important (which is half the problem, but never mind) – what we can say is that there was a resurgance in the two obviously Remain parties, and that The Brexit Party stole all of UKIP’s votes and a few others from here and there.

The other thing we can say is that yes, whilst The Brexit Party won 31.6% of the vote, the turnout was very low: 37% of the UK population bothered to vote, which is quite some way down from the 72.2% who voted in the referendum back in 2016. And what that means is that in the referendum, Leave got 17,410,742 votes, and in the EU elections considerably less (I’ll admit, I’ve tried to find this figure, but my head is swimming with numbers, but it’s less, right…?). Which isn’t quite the same, now is it?

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Revolution (rebranded).

These are all, of course, statistics and facts. And I, more than anyone, knows that these are to be mistrusted. For I used the following quote in pretty much every essay I ever wrote when I was at college:

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics – Mark Twain

Or, to put it another way:

The other thing that we can say is this: people vote for Nigel Farage, no matter what. Unless it’s for him being an MP, of course (*coughs* defeated seven times *coughs*.)

And I find this utterly baffling.

See, to me, Farage is nothing more than an opportunistic ex-banker bully boy, spouting vile rhetoric supposedly in the name of a love of his country.

And then you look at the detail, and it doesn’t take too long because there is no detail.

The Brexit Party has no manifesto. So other than “We must leave the EU” it has no other policies. Nothing. Zip. Which means that in the unthinkable event that he ever gets anywhere near anything even slightly resembling power, he can do whatever he wants, because he never promised anything.

And, although it calls itself The Brexit Party, it’s not a political party. You can’t join it. But what you can do is support it, by giving Farage £25.

And I say Farage gets the £25 rather than The Brexit Party because Farage is the self-appointed leader, the sole beneficiary.

And as an unelected leader, he has already said that he can’t be got rid of.

We used to have a word for people like that.

And, whilst we’re on the matter of funding, let’s not forget that Farage is already being investigated by the EU Commission for the financial arrangements he has with Aaron Banks. Financial arrangements which Farage initially denied existed, then back-tracked when Banks confirmed they did, and which Farage then claimed he didn’t have to declare to the EU (which he did; under the (ART4) MEP’s Code of Conduct, he must declare support for political activity, or (ART5) gifts above 150 euros within 30 days). Not that it matters, because if found guilty, it’ll likely end up in either a fine – which Banks will pay – or a ban from EU – which, given he never turns up anyway, won’t be that much of a choker either.

The man is a cad, a bounder, a charlatan, a liar. And those are the nicest words I could choose.

And so it was with some trepidation that I awaited the local election results from my hometown of Peterborough this week. I can’t say I held out much hope: until very recently it’s been Tory through and through, and the one time in living memory (ok, in my memory) that it votes Labour, the MP in question goes and gets herself imprisoned for lying about who was driving her car when it got some speeding points, kicked out of the party, instigating the election.

Things did not look promising.

And to my delight – yes, even though I voted Lib Dem in the EU elections – Labour won, narrowly beating the Brexit Party candidate into second place. I would have been so sad if the town where I grew up had gifted the country with it’s first Brexit Party MP.

Want some stats? I got ’em:

  • in the 2016 referendum, Peterborough voted Leave, 61% to 39%
  • this time, Labour got 31% of the vote, whilst second-placed Brexit Party got 29%
  • the turnout was 48.4%, down from 67.5% in the 2017 General Election
  • in that election, Labour beat the Conservatives by 607 votes
  • on Thursday, they won by 683 votes
  • that’s an increased share of a lessened turn-out

I’ll make no bones about it, I think that Donald Trump waddling into the UK this week and announcing that post-Brexit negotiations would have to have the NHS “on the table” had an effect. Those who trust Trump in the UK are in the minority, and those who see Farage cosying up to him really should be alarmed by this.

For Farage, lest we forget, doesn’t agree with the NHS. No, he wants to scrap it with an insurance based system, like…oh, oh, coincidence alert…like they have in the USA!

Have a look at this, courtesy of our friends over at @LedByDonkeys.

Strange, isn’t it, how Farage is getting financial backing from a man who owns insurance companies….?

And if you need an illustration as to quite what switching to private helathcare means, read this, written after 2018’s Manchester bombings (and try not to let the writer describing themselves as a “social injustice warrior” detract from the point they make):

What was funny, though, was when it looked like The Brexit Party was going to win, Farage turned up in Peterborough to give his gloating speech to the cameras, only to arrive and find things not going entirely to plan….

Which reminded me of this GIF:

Anyway. I’ve ranted patiently explained enough. Here’s some tunes:

The Long Blondes – Peterborough

And yes, I know I only posted this under similar circumstances recently, but nothing’s changed (by which I mean: I’ve not thought of anything more pertinent to post):

Public Enemy – Don’t Believe The Hype

Here endeth the sermon.

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Evening all. Welcome back to this week’s selections.

For once, I’ve got a fairly busy social life this weekend, starting with a night out with some old friends on Friday Night, so this week’s choices feel a little strange to me, since I’m actually writing this in the middle of the week, and not on Friday as I normally do. This shouldn’t have much of an impact, or so you’d think, but I wonder…

For a start, I don’t have that Friday night, no work for a couple of days, vibe. More importantly, I have a strict “no drinking on a school night” rule, so this is being written stone cold sober. Let’s see how it pans out shall we?

So, much the same as when we went loud at the start of the year to shake off those post-Christmas blues, I thought I’d do much the same after last week’s Country choices, if for no other reason than to prove I haven’t forgotten that this series is supposed to be, well, fun.

So where better place to start than with this:

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105. Beastie Boys – Make Some Noise

The lead single from what sadly turned out to be their last album, 2011’s “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two”, I was surprised when writing this to find out that this didn’t even chart in the UK. In fact, none of the singles from the album did. I was of the opinion that the Beasties were a little more popular on this side of the pond, but I guess I was wrong about that.

Released in April 2011, it was soon over-shadowed by the death of Adam “MCA” Yauch in May 2012. The world is a poorer place with no new records by the Beastie Boys, in my book.

Anyway, this is supposed to be cheering us up and straight away I seem to be back talking about dead musicians. That’s the last one for this week, I promise.

*Scans the rest of the week’s selections*

Okay, maybe not quite the last one.

This lot, for example, may only have made one decent record (that I know of anyway) but they’re thankfully all still on this mortal coil. I think. Haven’t checked, if I’m honest.

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106. The Mooney Suzuki – Alive And Amplified

This record has a special memory for me. Before I moved to London eight or so years ago, I came up for New Year’s Eve one year, a night which started out with a few drinks, then moved to The Garage, an indie club and venue in Highbury where two of our friends, Spencer and Ruth, had managed to bag themselves a DJ slot (if my memory serves, the  prestigious “over midnight” one, although I’m open to correction on that).

This was the first record they played, and the two of them bounced all over the stage like two excited Tiggers throughout.

After their set, they came and joined us on the dancefloor, and I interrupted Ruth to give her a big hug, planted a kiss on her cheek and told her how ace I thought they’d been, how much fun I’d had and how proud I was of them. Ruth gave me what I can only describe as a look of happiness, a little embarrassment, more than a little confusion, and no small amount of terror.

It was only afterwards that I realised that when I referred to them earlier as being “our friends”, that wasn’t entirely accurate; they were friends of my friends, and I’d never actually met either of them before. I had managed to forget this teensy bit of information. Yes, I was that battered.

Anyway, I managed to explain, and eventually she told security that they didn’t need to pin me to the floor and sit on my head anymore, and we all saw the funny side.

This next song was also in their set that night, and is a staple of the very occasional DJ’ing gigs I get these days:

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107. Andrew W.K. – Party Hard

Ever wondered what the “W.K.” stands for? Well I have it on good authority that it stands for “Wildebeest King”. Apparently, as a young man Andrew became a bit obsessed with wildebeest, after he read that they are noisy creatures; bulls have an array of loud vocalizations, from moans to explosive snorts, not unlike Andrew’s own repertoire.

So obsessed is Andrew, that every May he travels to the mineral-rich grasses of the southern Serengeti (you know, where Kilimanjaro rises up like Mount Olympus) to witness the wildebeest mating season, and to feast his eyes on their annual displays of  showmanship, cavorting, standoffs, and the odd head to head tussle. Often he will don a set of curved plastic horns, smear his face with mud, and roll around in wildebeest dung so that he becomes infused with their odour, their very essence. Then, from as close but as safe a distance as he dare get, he will mimic their actions, ideally from behind a bush, until he has them as accurate as possible. He then tries to incorporate these movements into his energetic stage performances.

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(above: Andrew Wildebeest King, The Serengeti, May 2012)

Okay, I made all that up. In reality, his full name is Andrew Fetterly Wilkes-Krier, but since that’s the least rock’n’roll name in the history of rock’n’roll names, you can’t really blame him for changing it. Or me for trying.

“Party Hard” has had a new lease of life recently, after it featured in the ad campaign for Google and Android. According to The Wildebeest King’s Mr W.K.’s website: “The song highlights the individuality yet collective spirit of play and fun and partying featured in the ad.” which sounds like a load of old PR-bollocks to me.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t post a link to an advert on here, but I think on this occasion I’ll make an exception. Watch this and then tell me if you think the ad demonstrates “the individuality yet collective spirit of play and fun and partying” or if it’s actually just a collection of clips of people pretending to be normal and who wouldn’t know an Andrew W.K. record if it walked up to them and introduced itself to them with the words “Hello. I am an Andrew W. K. record. Apparently you like to play and have fun with me”.

Far more entertaining, is the fact that “Party Hard” is used as the walk-on music for professional darts player Steve Hine. Not heard of him? Well, his track record of impressive appearances at the PDC World Championship speaks for itself. Look:

  • In 2006, he got knocked out in the 1st Round by Chris “Mace the Ace” Mason
  • In 2007, he didn’t qualify
  • In 2008, he got knocked out in the 1st Round by Mark “Flash” Dudbridge
  • In 2009, he didn’t qualify
  • In 2010, he got to the 2nd Round, where he got beaten 4-0 by Phil “The Power” Taylor
  • Normality was restored in 2011, though, when he got knocked out in the first round by Raymond “Barney” van Barneveld

Now. I don’t profess to be either a darts fan or expert (I do know that both Phil “The Power” Taylor and Raymond “Barney” van Barneveld are a bit good at darts – by which I mean I’ve heard of them – so maybe I shouldn’t take the piss), but I think I know what Steve’s problem is.

You’ll have noticed that all of the above have Darts Player Nicknames. Steve Hine has one too. His is Steve “The Muffin Man” Hine, and he is well known for bringing muffins and tossing them to the crowd during his walk-on.

I imagine that doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of his opponents.

Anyway, I digress. Time for some more loudness:

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108. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Whatever Happened To My Rock’n’Roll (Punk Song)

It’s not a punk song, now is it, boys?

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club were originally called The Elements, until they realised that a) that’s not a very good name for a band, and, more pertinently, b) there already was a band called The Elements, so they changed it, naming themselves after Marlon Brando’s motorcycle gang in the 1953 movie “The Wild One” which, needless to say, is a waaay cooler name.

Although, had they kept their original science-y nerdo name, it would have made it a lot easier for me to link it to the next record:

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109. Placebo – Nancy Boy

According to Wikipedia, Placebo are a “British alternative rock band”. I always thought they were American, but it turns our that they formed after lead singer Brian Molko met bassist/guitarist Stefan Olsdal by chance outside South Kensington tube station.

Molko, however, was born in Brussels to a Scottish Catholic mother and an American father of French-Italian descent, and lived at various points in his youth in Dundee (which, admittedly, he refers to as “where I grew up”), Liberia, Lebanon and Belgium. He attended The European School of Luxembourg and the International School of Luxembourg. You don’t get much more British than that, right?

I suspect the band were worried about losing some of their more UKIP-y fans if they announced their true roots.

In the words of Stewart Lee: “If you’ve not seen me before, I don’t think that. I think the opposite of that.” (I’m not Morrissey, for fuck’s sake) He delivers it may better than me though:

Please do not watch that if you are easily offended. Or if you’re American (although the pay-off might pleasantly surprise you). Plenty of swears, and as you will gather from the title of it, it’s not exactly Light Entertainment.

Back to the music:

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110. Pearl Jam – Do the Evolution

Sacrilege time. I don’t really like Pearl Jam much. Friends of mine border on being obsessed by them, but I’ve always found Eddie Vedder’s voice a little grating, and have always thought the band were one of many far less talented groups who hung onto the plaid shirt-tails of Nirvana. I appreciate this is not a common opinion. Each to their own, eh?

That said, “Do The Evolution” has a groove about it that I’ve never noticed in any other records by them, and is well worth a listen if you don’t know it, or even if you do.

Another band who seemed to arrive on our shores at around the same time are the next lot, although they do have a lot more tunes that I love. This is from their 1991 debut album “Gish”, and I don’t think they’ve ever bettered it:

Smashing-Pumpkins-SivaWindow-Paine-109287

111. The Smashing Pumpkins – Siva

Ah well, since I mentioned Nirvana in passing, I’d be rude, bordering on ignorant, not to post something by them, right? Here then is the first record I ever heard by them. It is  1990, my buddy Keith and I are in Cardiff Student Union’s Hanging Gardens club. Fuelled by Snakebite, we had ventured on to the dancefloor as they were playing R.E.M.’s rather wonderful version of The Clique’s “Superman”, which the DJ followed up with this:

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112. Nirvana – Sliver

The place went mental, Keith and I were blown away and desperate to know what they hell had just been played, but did not want to get negative cool points equity by actually asking anyone, so we shuffled towards the DJ booth (which was in a kind of shed at the side of the dancefloor) and tried to look inconspicuously through the open window to try and catch a glimpse of the sleeve which, as you can see from the above, offered little in the way of clues.

Kurt Cobain happily (well, as happy as he ever was, anyway) conceded that the next band were a massive influence on him, and you can’t help but thinking that they must have had a similar effect on The Smashing Pumpkins’ main man Billy Corgan too, so effectively does “Siva” fit the loud-QUIET-loud template that they if didn’t invent then they certainly reinvigorated.

I speak of course of Pixies. Here’s a bit of a rarity for you, their appearance on The Word to promote their 1990 “Bossanova” album:

and here is a lovely MP3 of the same thing.

113. Pixies – Cecilia Ann/Allison

“Bossanova” often gets a bad rap, but then anything they released after the holy trinity of “Come On Pilgrim”, “Surfer Rosa” and “Doolittle” was always going to struggle in comparison. Personally, I think it’s a massively under-rated album; for example neither of those tracks were released as singles, probably due to their brevity.

Next, another album track, but another belter. This band first came to my attention back in 1994 when they appeared on Episode 4, Series 3 (I had to look that up, I admit it) of Later…with Jools Holland performing their single “Low” which is on their 1993 album “Kerosene Hat” which I rushed out to buy. “Low” is a fine record, similar in tone and angst to Buffalo Tom’s masterpiece “Taillights Fade”, but since we’re trying to be cheery, here’s the more up-tempo second track on the album, a charming ditty about a female actor who crashes her car and gets decapitated. It’s better than I’ve just made that sound, honest:

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114. Cracker – Movie Star

Ok, let’s round things off for another week with two songs so utterly wonderful they are bound to raise a smile.

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115. Weezer – Pork and Beans

I love that tune, especially when the guitar crunches back in for the chorus, and I love the video even more. I could have sworn I had already posted it somewhere on here, but it seems not, or rather if I did it was before I embedded video clips so I probably didn’t tag it. So, here it is, gently poking fun at the cult of celebrity in general and internet sensations in particular (all of whom seem to join in a self-deprecating way):

Fucking joyous, that.

So to the final tune of the night, and this is just, well, dumb. Glorious, but dumb. And it’s another tune which reminds me of Ruth and Spencer, although I can’t quite rememberwhy (both are glorious, neither are dumb, before you say it):

Swords_of_a_Thousand_Men

116. Tenpole Tudor – Swords of a Thousand Men

That’ll do yer.

I’ll be back at some point over the weekend, have a good one in the meantime.

Or to put it another way: more soon.