Duty done, now for a few diversions from politics

We both had our wet weather gear on to walk to the polling station, which is, luckily, not too far from home.

My vote was the first time I placed a cross on the voting paper using my left hand. Haven’t yet got sufficient gripping strength in my right hand. Am capable of one fingered typing, so am back to writing here – intermittently though.

This is the first election in which I’ve not delivered election leaflets. We received an election leaflet from the Green Party, Conservatives, Labour, UKIP, and FIVE leaflets from the Liberal Democrats.

Following this post will be some items offering a diversion from politics. I know I’ll not be able to resist staying up until very, very late to watch the results, the following diversionary posts will keep my mind of the subject, at leat for a short while.

Missed the Prince Andrew interview and the Boris v Corbyn debate

Look, I’m keen on politics and current affairs, although I’m pleased to say that for both TV performances, Prince Andrew interview and the Boris v Corbyn debate I was otherwise engaged.

Yesterday evening I was entertained at a meeting of the Surrey Industrial History Group by Jon Cotton’s lecture on The Archaeology of London’s River.

Jon described the evolution of the Thames, its frequent times of flooding, the numerous important finds from the river, some by mudlarks, some through dredging, and some through archaeological digs. One such find is a celtic Horned Helmet, the only one found in the UK, and now in the British Museum.

Here are some of the photos from Jon’s presentation, including a number of a frozen river Thames, although the one from 1881 is a Francis Frith copyrighted photo which you can see HERE.

Listening to Boris Johnson and Theresa May at a campaign rally

Yours truly got an invitation to attend a Conservative campaign rally, held in an empty warehouse/office building in the Slough Trading Estate.

My was I thankful it was held indoors, as queuing to get in was mostly in the rain – did take my brolly, for which I was thankful.

Boris was the warm-up speaker for Theresa May, and frequently referred to his script. Theresa May, impressively, spoke without a script, covering a lot of political issues. Good to be close-by both Boris and the PM, and to hear them speak. It’s easy to criticise politicians for what they say, and the way they say it – however, it takes no little courage and emotional energy to deliver a political speech with an audience so close to you. In the BBC’s Ben Wright photo of the rally, I’m in the front to the right, though not visible – wasn’t keen to be behind holding a placard, as wanted to see their faces.

I’ve not been as politically active at this election as I have in the past, so was pleased to get an invite. The rally was well organised with refreshments and biscuits available when inside the venue – pleased to say there were bourbon biscuits on offer – though not so many for those following me.

The battle of wills is surely between Theresa May and Angela Merkel

Lots and lots is written daily interpreting the minutiae of government words on Brexit. I don’t want to add to it. My angle is about personalities. Perhaps I’ve missed it, but the media don’t seem to be focussing on the key battle between to two main combatants, Theresa May and Angela Merkel.

theresa_mayLets look at what each has said in the past two days. Firstly, Theresa May on the Sophy Ridge Show in Sunday, then what Angela Merkel said on Monday.

Sophy Ridge asking about prioritising control of immigration over membership of the single market, Theresa May said,

‘We are leaving. We are coming out. We are not going to be a member of the EU any longer.

‘So the question is what is the right relationship for the UK to have with the European Union when we are outside. We will be able to have control of our borders, control of our laws.’

Angela Merkel, speaking to the German Civil Service Association, said,

angela_merkel_2011“One cannot lead these [Brexit] negotiations based in the form of ‘cherry picking’. This would have fatal consequences for the remaining 27 EU states.”

“Britain is, for sure, an important partner with whom one would want to have good relations even after an exit from the EU.”

But Mrs Merkel said it was important to be clear, “that on the other hand, we are clear that, for example, access to the single market is only possible under the condition of adherence to the four basic principles. Otherwise one has to negotiate limits (of access).”

Angela Merkel will, surely, have been aware of what Theresa May said on Sunday. No obvious agreement there that I can see. From what we know about the two of them, there are remarkable similarities. Both are religious, lead centre-right political parties, have held similar positions in their respective parties and government, are of a similar age, have no children, and are from a non-metropolitan background,

So far, so similar. Both have succeeded in the male-dominated world of politics, so will both have exhibited grit and determination to succeed and survive. Perhaps it might be said that both show a stubbornness. On Brexit both Merkel and May have frequently repeated their positions, with neither varying very much from those positions.

There’ll be appointed European negotiators, though not yet exactly sure who and what. While the people in the negotiations will be important people, they’re not as important, in my opinion, as that of Merkel for the EU, and May for the UK.

Michael Gove’s leadership candidacy brings the press to Surrey Heath

Tom Chivers, a journalist for Buzzfeed, has been seeking the opinion of locals in Windlesham on Michael Gove’s candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party.

Click on this link to read this article – This Is What Michael Gove’s Constituents Think Of The Crazy Times In The Tory Party, or click on image below.


A wonderful congregation for Alan Cleverly’s funeral today

It was difficult to estimate the numbers of people in Guildford Cathedral wanting to pay their respect to Alan Cleverly. Fittingly, possibly well in excess of 500 people. It shows how many lives that Alan touched, and in doing so earning their respect. Alan was a prodigious fundraiser for a variety of charities, in addition to his political fundraising abilities.

It was a wonderful service. Father John O’Sullivan of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Church in Frimley gave a homily of wit and warmth. Those among the congregation will be pleased to remember that they were there today to say goodbye to Alan. RIP Alan Cleverly.


Political editors interview the Prime Minister in quick succession

I’ve been meaning to write about this for days. Just busy with other stuff.

Earlier this week the Prime Minister addressed Parliament about his draft deal with the EU. Following this he was quizzed about it in interviews with senior political editors – Laura Kuenssberg – BBC News, Robert Peston – ITV News, and Faisal Islam – Sky News.

In each of the interviews David Cameron’s demeanour didn’t change – very impressive. The things I noticed about the interviews were not, particularly, the questions or answers, but these,

  • Robert Pestonit was a new interview location in my view, though still somewhere most probably in No.10 Downing Street.
  • the interview location apparently seemed to be a poky corner, although well lit. It positioned the political editors and David Cameron in very close proximity, unusually so in my view again.
  • the location and closeness must surely have been designed by the No 10 communications team. It’d be interesting to know of their thinking and the perceived advantage accruing to the PM of the location and setting.
  • now to the three interviews by the political editors. It was coincidence that meant me seeing the three interviews in quick succession.
  • all the political editors sat back in their chairs, while Cameron leaned forward. Now Cameron’s forward lean indicated a positive interest in the questions. And yet, I think I observed Cameron lean further forward to Laura Kuenssberg, which is a sign of aggression. At one point in Laura’s questioning she pressed Cameron, who leaned even further forward saying, ‘well, that’s the answer you’re going to get’.
  • Laura Kuenssberg was the sharpest questioner,
  • Faisal Islam tried hard, with no more success than Kuenssberg
  • Robert Peston’s interview wasn’t to my liking, his questioning being laborious, verging on the irritating. Cameron impressively showed not the slightest irritation, and I looked hard at his expression.
  • I didn’t see Channel 4 political editor Gary Gibbon’s interview, and it’s not online, although his blog post is HERE.

Result: Cameron and his comms team would be well satisfied with his performance. I wonder if we’ll see the same location used again. Perhaps not, as I think the political editors were under pressure to get an interview with the PM. On other occasions they’ll not be so pliant, methinks.

I wonder if the conversation with Samantha Cameron later that evening wouldn’t be about how the day went but more about Ed Balls’ performance on Celebrity Great British Bake Off.

I leave it to you to judge on the relative performance of the three political editors. I only listened to short parts of each interview. Well done to you if you saw through all three.