May 3rd, 2005

Like ships in the night…

There are a number of pairs of words that both attract my immediate attention and do a kind of magic trick whereby it turns out that I'd been listening to the first half of the sentence despite the fact that I didn't know my attention was about to have been drawn. Pairs such as "Sinclair" and "Spectrum", "Trinity" and "Hall", and "Bootham" and "School".

This evening, in the Free Press, I discovered a new pair; "Seismic" and "Section", somewhat to my dismay. The odds of having a quiet dinner in the pub and then overhearing someone discussing the interpretation of seismic sections must be pretty slim really, but it did actually happen to me. I assume they must be associated either with BIRPS or the Schlumberger Research Lab. Once highlighted I kept picking up bits of their conversation, which was rather distracting.

As I left they were discussing a problematic GeoFrame file that was too large to fit on an Exabyte (and hence they couldn't conveniently back it up). My geek and professional natures had a little war about whether I should go and proffer professional advice, but in the end the fundamental impossibility of initiating conversation with three young women won out, and I left the pub with no more than an amused grin on my face.
vote cthulhu!

Flyer Review: Andrew Dickson (Lib)

Large Flyer: Outside, Inside
Small Flyer: Front, Back

I was going to moan about all being quiet on the Lib front, but </a></b></a>atreic was kind enough to supply me with one of the Small Flyers and one of the Large ones popped through the Rivendellian door today. Andrew Dickson is the person whose party I want to vote for – possibly not the best reason to vote for someone, but the one I suspect I'll end up using.

The small flyer is almost a placeholder flyer. The picture on the front tells me "Andrew Dickson would like you to think that he's a family man, but unfortunately he doesn't have a family, so here is a picture of him with his dogs". On the back we have a list of campaign promises presented in a slightly emotive fashion, however they really are only a set of bullet points. Whilst you might entirely plausibly be able to fund 10,000 more police (has anyone noticed how all the parties are pimping police?) by scrapping Labour's silly ID card scheme they give no indication of how they plan to produce Cleaner transport & Cleaner energy. And whatever happened to One penny on income tax, it appears we have Only one Tax Increase now – and I'm not sure that one increase will actually produce enough funds for what they suggest. And of course, here we have the LD's LIT claim; quite how Dickson and Lansley manage to fit a difference of over £1000 between average and typical, particularly since I suspect both families (if they live in Cambridge) are only paying about £1000 in Council Tax currently in a year… can we have some independently verifiable figures please people? Oh, it's too late now.

The Large flyer has the, by now traditional, claim that voting Labour only lets the Tory in. This is, of course, really irritating since in practice (as you can tell if you look at their graph which has a commendable lack of zero truncation) the LDs and Labour are about neck and neck. If all the LD and Lab voters voted for one or the other then they'd beat the Tory, but simple sniping like this isn't going to work.

On the back we have a similar bio to the one on the small flyer, with the same photo, but we also discover that Andrew does actually have a family – I must have been wrong about that…. We also find one of those faux-handwriting letters. Personally I think they make you look like a prat, but they seem to be all the rage this millennium. You can tell he's targetting a Tory constituency as well, and he's a bit sneaky in the way he associates the Liberal Democrats with the Liberal Party – an association that may be historically valid, but is a lot more dubious politically.

Right, on to the inside. Ooo, here we have a little box for each of the promises we had on the smaller flyer. Actually, no we don't, it's just a similar list. Oh, well. Now, what was I quibbling about above? Policemen: they appear to want to cut paperwork – nice idea, lets see you do it. Support for alternative fuels is hardly a detailed policy for Cleaner Transport. The tax increase only gets a sneaky mention under Free personal care when you need it and No tuition fees, no top-up fees. The Local Income Tax box points out that there are potential efficiencies in centralising the collection of that with the current Income Tax, but fails to note that this could easily lead to it just becoming another sneak method of funding National Government (like the 11th penny in NI). And someone should point out that merely not having to pay fees doesn't make University affordable for every student….

To a great extent I have to commend these flyer for saying a lot of Stuff. What they fail to do though is provide any backing for the Stuff – a criticism that I could have leveled at Lansley's Flyers if they'd said more than they do. On the other hand I still feel that I'm voting for the Party not the Man, and this irks me.
vote cthulhu!

Flyer Review: Sandra Wilson (Lab)

Flyer: Front, Back

Right, next up is our local Labour Candidate. This flyer offers a typical, and rather blatant, New Labour Carrot and Stick approach. The front is pretty much all fluff. If I ever meet Sandra I will have to suggest to her that she sacks her official photographer, and also that you can't stretch out four points to make six just by wording them differently.

On the back we find both the carrot and the stick (and the bucket?). First of all she plays on the I've been trodden under angle then loses the entire Economic Right by saying that she's the only candidate who is an active trade unionist. The next two paragraphs try and scare minorities to vote for her by claiming that the Tories will leave them destitute and on the street, with implied promises that Labour will continue to do good things for the same minorities.

The penultimate paragraph proceeds to remind me of the LD's flyers, both making the same split the opposition argument that Dickson makes and conflating the Liberal Democrats with the Liberal Governments of the past (I wonder if the latter is the result of sloppy thinking on Wilson's part, or a deliberate tactic?). In the last paragraph I wonder slightly, we is evidently supposed to be the Cambridgeshire South voters, but as written it reads Labour need your help now! Labour need a radical third term! Labour need a Labour MP for South Cambridgeshire!, three sentiments I can quite agree with….