Now I'm pretty sure I haven't got any readers from Hartlepool but just in case I have - STOP READING THIS AND GO OUT AND VOTE!!!
Today's By-Election in hartlepool could become another big embarrasment to not only Tony Blair and the Labour Party but to Michael Howard and the Conservatives too. When Peter Mandelson won the seat at the last election (2001) he had a majority of 14,000 with The Conservatives coming in second place with over two thousand votes more than the third place Liberal Democrats.
This year the by-election is too close to call with political commentators expecting a very close fight between labour and the Liberal Democrats for first place with the Conservatives possibly falling into fourth place behind the UK Independence Party.
Now this is absolutely brilliant from both a personal point of view and also from a political analysts view towards next years General Election and the way politics could work in the future.
The Conservatives should have been the party challenging Labour in Hartlepool. They came second last election and have a healthy presence on the local council. Yet, they are battling to come in third with UKIP and way behind the other two main parties in the local polls. Regardless of what spin Michael Howard tries to use on this it is an utterly devastating blow to the Conservatives and doesn't help them in regards to voters confidence towards the next election. The Conservatives do seem to be on a downward spiral.
The fact that the Liberal Democrats could overthrow Labour's dominance of Hartlepool (and thus overcomign a 16,000+ voter difference between the two parties at the last election) would normally shock everyone. But we've seen the LibDems sweep massive Labour majorities away several times this year so far, starting with Brent in the Spring. It is becoming a common trend that people are turning to the LibDems as not only the anti-government vote (which was usually either Labour or Conservatives depending on whom was actually in power) but turning to them as their party of choice. Now whilst the Iraq war has certainly helped the LibDems no end the Hartlepool campaign has been fought on local issues.
If Labour loose this seat then Tony Blair and co will have to start seriously worrying about the next General Election. Already National Polls have been indicating if we had a General Election now it would be too close to call. Some even have Labour into third place. All I have seen have had a maximum 5-point gap between first and third party at present. What would have seemed unbelievable a few years ago could really happen next year.
I for one will be watching the results carefully this evening. Even if Labour do manage to retain their seat it looks like it'll be a very close fight - and that will still scare a lot of Labour MPs.
May I take a moment of your attention to divert to oldmotherchaos ' entry about a private email from Farnaz Fassihi, an award-winning journalist for the Wall Street Journal currently based over in Iraq. Apparently it has now been confirmed by her as a pirvate email she wrote to some friends and does paint a very grim (and laregly unreported) view of what's happening in Iraq and the feeling of both journalists and civilians there.
Well, the Within Temptation gig last night was pretty good. It was however just them - no support band. I've no idea why it was just them as the ticket said 'Special Guests' but I know that the venue seemed to have a few technical problems beforehand so that might have meant running out of time for the poor unnamed support act. In any case, quite a bit of pointless waiting around ensued until the lights finally dimmed, the smoke machine let loose, and the main act hit the stage.
I'm not sure how best to describe Within Temptation - Operatic Metal maybe? The lead singer has a great voice and the band are very good on stage. Some of the songs sound a bit samey to me, but they executed them perfectly and interspiced some really good songs which broke up their 'bread and butter' set.
Security was also apparently very lax. Downstairs at The Scala was very crowded so Sarah and I went a-wandering to find if we could find somewhere slightly less packed with even a hint of air conditioning and a chance of seeing the band when they finally came on.
At first I accidently walked into the VIP Bar but the nice security man pointed out my mistake so I cordially departed only to find a very empty balcony overlooking the main floor and stage area. A couple of people were already on it so we joined them. The balcony started filling up over the next half hour but we still had a great view. I found it a bit odd that several people from the downstairs masses kept pointing to the balcony and taking photos. I pointed this out to Sarah as almost everyone at the gig was Dutch and I wondered if the people standing next to us were celebrities in Holland (they kept being greeted by other people on the balcony and were also the centre of attention from the photographers downstairs). She didn't recognise them though.
Anyway, the gig started and people started enjoying themselves as you (hopefully) do at gigs. It was then I realised that everyone on the balcony had special wrist bands on. Partway through the gig the guy next to me (who had been the centre of attention) asked if I could help clear a bit of space on the balcony (originally he asked in Dutch which wasn't very useful:). I wasn't sure what he meant and the band was launching into an intro of another song. Next thing I new the lead singer was on the balcony with saying 'hellos' to various people she obviously new and then switched on her mike and performed most of the song next to us before disappearing to resurface on the stage a few moments later!
So, we managed to get through the whole gig on the VIP balcony it seems. Great view but I still haven't got a clue who the people we were with are! :p
Anyway, it was an enjoyable evening although I'm not sure that I'd go and see them live again. I'll probably pick up an album at some stage though.
Superman is not allowed, neither is Asterix, but Batman and Tarzan are.... Now Swedish MP's are up in arms saying the law should be changed and made consistent. Yes, it's the Baby Name Debate! Swedish MP's in Superman Name Row (BBC On-Line; Wednesday 29th September 2004).
Personally I generally enjoy slightly offbeat names but calling your kid 'Superman' or 'Batman' is pushing sensibilities a bit and probably (re: almost certainly) opens the floodgates for abuse and ridicule at school.
The trickle before the storm. I thought I'd give everyone here a chance to grab these before I put them up on ebay tomorrow. If you want any of the below please mail me or leave a comment. All are brand new and unread.
Werewolf Graphic Novel: Bone Gnawers (Moonstone) £2.00 Vampire Graphic Novel: Toreador (Moonstone) £2.00 Top Ten (Alan Moore/Amreica's Best Comics) Issues 5 thru 12 £1.00 each Battle of the Planets (Top Cow) 2 thru 6 £1 each Desperadoes (Image) 1 thru 5 £1 each
Or all of the above for £20.00 plus postage.
Ginger Snaps Soundtrack (Music from and inspired by...)
It sounds like the local volcano to where I used to live is heating iteself up again. Now I wasn't there when it exploded back in 1980 (I didn't move to washington State until '84) but I do remember all of the news reports about it.