Friday, 5 August 2016

I couldn't find anything to illustrate this item with
so here is something for you to think about instead


One of the fundamental safeguards of democracy is that politicians can be held accountable for their actions by the people whose lives are affected by them. What this means is, if you are unhappy about the way your elected representative is doing things, you can replace them with someone else. I mean, it's not like there's a shortage or anything; you can always get more politicians.

This is one of the reasons I am particularly unhappy about the way the British Parliament works now. Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs can vote on issues that do not affect any of their own constituents because they are dealt with by their own Parliaments or Assemblies.

A few years ago, this resulted in Scottish Labour MPs voting to treble university tuition fees for English students when the Scottish Parliament had just voted to abolish them for Scottish students. They did a similar thing with prescription charges. They could support these deeply unpopular moves in the certain knowledge that none of their own constituents would be affected. Scottish SNP and Lib Dem MPs were doing the same thing as well.

As far as local politics is concerned, you can not only remove the offending politician, but as they live in the same Borough as you, they will be as affected by what they do as the rest of us. 

In order to stand as a local councillor, you have to be able to show some residential or commercial connection with the borough in which you are standing. There are 4 criteria but the most commonly used is the one in which you have to show that you have lived, either as a homeowner or tenant in the borough and have lived in the borough for at least 1 year prior to your nomination. You can read the whole of the rules about standing for election here.

For some reason, once you have met this requirement, there is nothing in the rules to say you cannot move out again immediately, which some councillors actually do. Some move away to live with their mistress; some, because of a new job;  or to run their pub

One has to ask, why bother establishing a link with the local area to qualify to stand for election when you don't need to have one to represent it?

Don (Cray Meadows) and Sharon (Danson Ward) Massey don't give any reason why they have moved to Rochester. Perhaps it's because they don't like living here any more now that they have sold off all our parks to property developers, there is no-where to park any more and rubbish collects in piles all over the borough now they have cut refuse collection to the bone.

Whatever the reason, I wish them well in their new surroundings and let's hope their next door neighbours don't have any noisy parties.

p.s. I wonder how much they will be claiming in travel expenses from Rochester to attend Bexley council meetings.


I've always been a bookworm. TV programmes pass me by unnoticed, often leaving me at a total loss when, on a few occasions when I do watch, I tune in to some celebrity version of something and don't have a clue who any of the "celebrities" are. 

As a child, I was a huge fan of anything scientific and science fiction was my genre of choice. I did a blog entry about just this a while back if I recall. I never lost my enthusiasm for it in adulthood and I readily progressed from the children's authors to the adult ones with ease.

Just recently, I discovered a collection of some of my teenage favourites including the famous "Foundation" series by Isaac Asimov.

They do say you should never go back. I was shocked while re-reading these stories that I haven't looked at for many years just how parochial they are. The characters, locations and situations they find themselves in could come straight out of any American mid-West town of the 1950s when the stories were written; they even have a fat, cigar chomping Mayor. Women, when they do appear are the Wives of politicians, the Wives of scientists, the Wives of whatever. Sometimes they have female secretaries but none of them are married. The idea that any of them might be politicians, scientists or whatever in their own right doesn't enter his head.

Looking for readable sci-fi nowadays presents it's own challenge. I've given up on bookshops; all you seem to find is "The Legends of Kroggor" type novel and although there are 38 volumes in the series, they only stock volumes 3,7,11,17 and 35. If you ask the staff where all the missing volumes are, they look at you as if you are mad.

It's either that or shelves and shelves full of novels by someone called Terry Goodkind, whoever he is.

I recently subscribed to a service called Kindle Unlimited. For a set fee of £7.99 a month, you have unrestricted access to around 700,000 books; more than enough for me and I'm a fast reader. It does give me a problem though when trawling through this huge library, about what to choose to read.

Sci-fi is not too difficult. Eliminate anything that has the word "Vampire" in the title removes around 30% of the list; including the words "Werewolf" and "Zombie" takes care of around another 20%.

I also include in the above list any book cover that features a muscly, bare chested man with his trousers undone; you would be surprised just how many of those there are. There are even some with muscly young men and "Vampire" in the title.

I don't have any idea what the stories are about, I'm too nervous to look.

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