The Voter

Impartial guidance for the undecided

Mother’s Day To Be Renamed For More Deserving Cause

March 28, 2011 By: Henry Carlton Category: Spoiled Papers

A teaching acquaintance of The Voter’s mentioned the other night that Mother’s Day would soon be upon us and expressed the view that  this was a completely outmoded celebration and a total waste of a Sunday. She added that a number of her colleagues felt that, for all their hard work throughout the school year, they should receive appropriate recognition from the nation and that few people would be sorry to see the back of Mothering Sunday. The Voter has to confess that she has a point.

With all the forced sentimentality and the inconvenience of having to visit the parental home regularly every year, this so-called celebration is something most offspring these days would rather not be saddled with. Go to any garden centre or pub restaurant on the day and you’ll see the visiting hordes of sons and daughters accompanying Mum, often with Dad (or “Uncle”)  as an added expense, for the annual day out.

On the other hand, it can sometimes be, if not quite a blessing in disguise, at least something of a cloud with a silver lining. Coinciding with the run-up to the Easter sales, as it does, it allows the parents to take care of the grandkids, while the son/daughter and partner get to look around the furniture showrooms or car sales in relative peace. Looked at in this way, a cheap primula from the grandchildren is something of a bargain.

So, if we scrap this pointless springtime ritual, what do we then put in its place? Well, as my teaching friend suggested, a day of thanks to the nation’s teachers, as a token of gratitude for all the hard work they put in, taking children off their mothers’ hands throughout the year, giving said mothers freedom to enjoy their spare time. That, though, is only one suggestion. There are others in our society, equally more deserving of a national day of respect than mothers.

Take the much-maligned Traffic Warden, for instance.  These people work hard, day in, day out, keeping our streets free of carelessly parked vehicles. Or, rather, putting fixed penalty notices on them. No matter, they’re doing a thankless task and they need some kind of recognition from the nation for all their effort in filling the local coffers.

Then again, Fathers, bless ‘em, could do with a bit more than a single day each year for their sterling work toward the family’s welfare. Why not simply have an additional Father’s Day (FD Part 2) to fully reward them for their hard work? These days could possibly be  taken back-to-back as Father’s Weekend.

Maybe we shouldn’t entirely abolish Mothering Sunday, but have a day where people can use the time off more productively in  carrying out some useful task for the good of the family. It would be easy to take a patronising or chauvinistic tone on such a sensitive issue, but The Voter has, as always, managed to maintain his usual tone of impartiality.

Perhaps you have your own views on a day of celebration for a more deserving group than the mothers. Do tell…

How Shall We Replace Mother's Day?

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Liberal Democrats in the UK Come Up With a Real Vote Winner

March 07, 2011 By: Henry Carlton Category: Spoiled Papers

Many years ago, there was a bank, used mostly by upwardly mobile working class folk who fancied having a cheque book and somewhere to put their savings. You could have, say, five shillings a week stopped out of your wages and paid into your bank account.

That was the Trustee Savings Bank (TSB) and it was owned by its customers. This felt like communism, so the government (Conservative, as it happens) put an end to that by selling shares in the bank to its customers. Now the TSB was owned by its customers, well, the better off ones, anyway. Then Lloyds “merged” with TSB to become Lloyds TSB Bank plc. Lloyds TSB rescued the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) from a spot of bother and the government rescued huge chunks of the whole shooting match.

Now the Lib Dems, still smarting from Barnsley, have devised a wizard scheme to make people like them again. They’re going to tell the government – the Tories included – to give away lots of free money to the public. The free money will come from the Lloyds TSB RBS bank shares owned by the government. They plan to give everyone on the electoral roll (which could be as many as half the adult population) a share of the loot, reckoned to be around a thousand pounds each. That’s a free holiday for every grown-up.

So this summer, as you unhitch your trailer tent at Shell Island, please spare a thought for the sponsors of your holiday, the Liberal Democrat Party and just remember that you don’t own any of the banks.

For the time being.

May Day Bank Holiday Puts Clear Blue Water Between Labour And Conservatives

March 06, 2011 By: Henry Carlton Category: Spoiled Papers

Amidst all the hustle and bustle of the Barnsley by-election, many of you may have missed the argy-bargy about the re-naming and re-scheduling of the so-called May Day Bank Holiday. The cynical among you may be of the opinion that the excitement of the election result presented “a good day to bury bad news”, to coin a familiar phrase.

To put you in the picture, there’s a proposal from the government side (the Tories, et al.) to replace the holiday that falls on the first Monday in May by one either in late April, to be known as the St. George’s Day holiday, or in October, to be called UK day or Trafalgar Day, or something. In fact, they really don’t care what it’s called. Call it Sausage Roll Day, call it Blue Nose Day, anything you like, provided it’s not May Day.

What you may not know is that the ideologies of Labour and the Tories hang on two issues: the Tories hate celebrating International Workers’ Day, i.e. May Day, because it’s a Labour thing and Labour hates fox hunting because it’s what the Tories do. That’s it. The acid test.

With his usual impartial diplomacy, coupled with the wisdom of Solomon, The Voter has come up with a universally acceptable solution. He has tweeted the following proposal to his followers, who include D. Cameron, Mr. Ed, Clegg, Foggy and Compo: “suggest you keep bank holiday on may day but call it international fox hunting day.” He awaits their replies.

A simple but elegant solution, you heard it first from The Voter.

Lib Dems Narrowly Miss Out On Barnsley Election Win

March 04, 2011 By: Henry Carlton Category: Spoiled Papers

Well! Talk about pipped at the post. In what must be one of the closest-run elections in Barnsley since the last one, the Liberal Democrats came a close sixth, with only Labour, UKIP, Conservatives, British National Party and an Independent coming ahead of them. To their great credit, the Lib Dems soundly thrashed the Monster Raving Loony Party by a solid margin of 814 votes, with candidate Howling Laud Hope trailing way down the field at eighth. With a respectable 1012 votes in the bag, just another 13,713 would have seen the Lib Dems trotting out as winners.

In a televised interview, sounding for all the world like the late Lord Tommy Cooper, Mr. Clegg said that no doubt people would use this result to write off the Liberal Democrats, as they’ve done before. Mister Ed said he didn’t think you should write off the people of any part of Britain, which seemed to be his way of cocking a snook at Mr. Clegg. However, Mr. Clegg had already been proactive in the snook-cocking department, by pre-emptively announcing that it was obviously a bad result for the Liberal Democrats.

Not a particularly good result for the Lib Dems’ Coalition stablemates, the Tories either, it has to be said. They were beaten into third place by the UK Independence Party, whose leader Mr. Nigel Farage showed a lack of understanding of the British electoral system by saying his party were the real winners. No they weren’t Mr Farage, they were the real runners-up. Heaven help us if he ever gets caught up in the Alternative Vote squabble.

In fact, Mr. Clegg himself seemed a tad confused when he declared that it was a no contest for any non-Labour candidate. Makes you wonder why the Lib Dems put up a candidate, in that case. At least if they hadn’t, they wouldn’t have had a deposit to lose. Lib Dem reserve leader, Mr. Simon Hughes called Barnsley a black hole. When pressed, he responded that he was “just saying.”

The Coalition’s Official Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Osborne, said that coming first in the Barnsley election was never in the Conservatives’ sights. He said that they’d started out in third place and they were still in third place. Any reasonable, independent onlooker might say that makes them the real winners.

A smug-looking, ex-soldier, Dan Jarvis, the Labour candidate, was overheard saying that, with nearly twelve thousand votes ahead of UKIP, he reckons that makes Labour the real winners.

Actress Joanna Lumley says British kids have loose morals

March 01, 2011 By: Henry Carlton Category: Spoiled Papers

Actress Joanna Lumley is reported to have said that British kids are being raised with “slack” morals. The 64-year-old Absolutely Fabulous star said the younger generation needed to be given “hearty pursuits” like building camps or working on farms.

How right she is. In the fifties, boys used to join the Boy Scouts. Flat feet, bunions, pigeon toes, corns, ingrowing toenails – nothing would get you out of the Scouts. You had real “man’s” morals drilled into you. The scoutmaster had probably been in Burma or somewhere in the war and would regale you with tales of hardship. Like, how he and his platoon were lost in the jungle and had to live on a banana between twenty of them for a fortnight. A bit like Get Me Out Of Here, I’m A Celebrity.

That was the life. Summer camps for poor kids were in North Wales. The scouts would get up at four o’clock in the morning, not having slept since they left home, days ago, and have a leisurely dip in the crystal clear Welsh mountain stream, dodging the ice floes as they went thundering by. Funny, though, you’d find that when the scoutmasters got up, at mid-day, they’d boil a kettle of water for a wash, because “you can’t shave in cold water.”

Uniforms. That’s what gave kids strong morals in Joanna’s day. Everyone wore a uniform. Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, Wolf Cubs, Brownies, Boys’ Brigade, Cadets… and the grown-ups wore them, too. Bus drivers and conductors, postmen and postwomen, cinema usherettes, brass bands, butchers, bakers, coalmen, milkmen, dustmen, railway porters (they were people who used to carry your bags and generally help you at the station). Police, ambulance crews, firemen (sorry, there weren’t any firewomen) and nurses, shop workers and factory workers. There was a hierarchy of uniforms in factories. The foremen and supervisors wore white coats, as did clever people who worked in the labs or testing. Shop floor men wore brown “cow-gowns” and the women wore dark blue smocks. Maintenance men would dress in dark blue boiler suits and carpenters in brown bib and braces. Cleaning ladies and tea trolley ladies were special because they got to wear flowered smocks.

The point is, everyone knew their place. You knew who to respect and who to look down on. Who wears uniform these days? Very few in civvy-street. Postmen – Men in Shorts, and…not many others.

Joanna said, “There was one ‘crime’ during the whole time I was at school, when a fountain pen went missing. Stealing just didn’t happen. I was taught not to shoplift, not to steal, not to behave badly. We weren’t even allowed to drop litter.” Unlike the scout troop camping near Penmaenmawr in 1957 who, to avoid recognition, would all tie their shoelaces as they marched past the window of the village shop where they’d nicked postcards, rock, fags, Mars Bars, kites, baked beans, comics, pencils. Oh, and a fountain pen. The thing is, though, in those days, at least they knew they were doing wrong, because their parents had drilled it into them.

Ms Lumley also added that in Ethiopia, a seven-year-old is expected to take 15 goats out into the fields for the whole day with only a chapati to eat and his whistle. Well, to be fair, on council estates across the UK in the spud picking season you used to find tractors loading up their open trailers with mums and kids as young as two, going out into the fields for the whole day with only bread and jam to eat and no whistles. Maybe Joanna herself used to do that, assuming her mum went spud-picking, of course. But she’s on the right track – that couldn’t happen these days. The nanny state is very over-protective where under-fives and farming machinery are concerned.

Joanna is simply bemoaning the passing of a Golden Age when life in Britain was organised, when kids respected adults and neighbours knew each others’ names. St. George’s Day parades saw dads marching together, para-military style, in black berets, ahead of the sons in Scout troops with half-a-dozen military bands making the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. The Scouts. Great young kids, marching along, armed to the teeth with sheath knives, hand-axes, six inch bladed flick-knives, better equipped, you might say, than… well, the Brigade of Ghurkas, following behind with just a single Khukhri knife each. But they were safe, back then. They were educated by their parents not to use this armoury irresponsibly and so they just used their weapons to chop up a few twigs for the camp fire at cocoa time.

By comparison, British kids of today are rotten to the core. A bunch of monkeys – losers and wasters who are doomed to a life of uselessness from the moment they speak their first word, which, as likely as not will be, “Facebook”, or “Twitter”, or “Topup.” By the age of seven, they can configure the TCP/IP settings on a laptop, diagnose speed problems on a broadband link, and discuss the latest iPhone apps. Can they carry an empty cup from the table to the sink? No. Can they switch a light off? No. Are they the most inconsiderate, disrespectful, idle, slovenly, selfish, greedy people it’s been your misfortune to have known in your life? They sure are.

So, what’s to be done about this problem? Well, any parent will tell you it’s up to the British Government and the teachers to sort it out. Any teacher will tell you it’s up to the government and the parents. If the teachers taught the kids to behave, if they knew how to control their classes, then the children would get a decent education and get good jobs and all turn out to be model citizens. So the government should make sure they get better teachers. Until then the kids aren’t going to change. If the parents taught the kids to behave, if they taught them respect and good manners, then they’d behave at school and get a decent education and good jobs… you know the rest.

It seems then, that the parents and the teachers can’t agree. Nobody seems to want to discipline anyone any more. The roots of this attitude can be traced back to the Golden Age when Love was all around. When Peace was the watchword. In fact, when Joanna’s generation were the young mums and dads. Oh, Happy Day.

British government says reading tests will include non-words

February 28, 2011 By: Henry Carlton Category: Spoiled Papers

The British Government has decided that made-up words are to be thrown into the mix in their new reading test for six-year-olds in England. Apparently, children are not being stretched enough by real words, so the Department for Education has come up with the brilliant wheeze of using so-called “non-words”, with “koob” and “zort” being given as examples. If you find your mind a bit boggled (a real word) by the concept, then you’re not alone. The UK Literary Association has been quoted as saying the idea is bonkers (another real word).

Apparently, the idea of this is to check kids’ ability to decode words using phonics. They need to make sure that children aren’t simply regurgitating memorised words. Presumably, in due course, they’ll have to introduce second-tier non-words to ensure the kids aren’t regurgitating memorised non-words. Ad infinitum, of course.

The President of the UK Literacy Association was quoted as saying that including non-words would be counter productive, as most six-year-olds expect to make sense of what they read. Right. Another critic of the idea, family literacy expert Professor Greg Brooks said, “The proposed test commits what has been appropriately called the fallacy of the unique methodological solution.”

You have two minutes to determine whether the above quotation contains:

a) words

b) non-words

c) nonsense words

d) all of the above

The British government schools minister Nick Gibb said that although it won’t be compulsory in schools, the government believes that more schools should teach synthetic phonics. It appears it’s been shown to have a major and long-lasting effect on children’s reading and spelling. Personally, I wouldn’t recognise a synthetic phonic if I had one fitted in each ear, although I did leave school with the ability to read and write tolerably well. I think it may have had something to do with regurgitation.

It does make you think, though, doesn’t it, that tomorrow’s leaders could be the ones who are best at non-words? What about the losers?

“Oy, Kid, You’re grounded. You failed your English.”

“But Dad, I got 100% for my words.”

“Yeah, but you failed your non-words, dummy.”

Now, if they want to give six year olds something useful in their tests, how about words like, cu l8r, thx, ruok, gr8, y r u L8, and smilies, of course. Trouble is, the kids already know these non-words. It’s the grown-ups who are lagging behind.

While we’re on the subject of non-words, the charity Booktrust, that donates free books to kids in England, is to get a 50% cut in funding, two months after a political “U-turn” row over its future. First it was told it was going to lose its government grant, but then, following a sort of uproar, the government said they didn’t actually mean ALL its funding and not to worry, they’d still get a bit of money.

Labour leader Mister Ed Miliband has said the British government is presiding over a “fiasco” and being “mean-minded”. Lessons must be learned.

Nick Clegg forgets he is Deputy Prime Minister and goes on holiday

February 27, 2011 By: Henry Carlton Category: Spoiled Papers

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has rejected taunts that he is a skiver and insists he is “dedicated” to his job and “working very hard.” Mr Clegg, who has faced some criticism for bunking off on holiday as the Libyan crisis developed, said he returned to work as soon as he’d been rumbled.

In an interview published in the Metro newspaper last Friday, Mr Clegg was asked whether he was in charge during the prime minister’s absence.
He is quoted as saying: “Yeah, I suppose I am. I forgot about that.”
“I’m also a father so, like all parents with three small children, I would like to spend some time with my children.”

The Voter understands that the Libyan revolution was meant to be put on hold for half term. In an interview, The Voter asked a protester whether the revolution was meant to be halted for the half term week.
He is quoted as saying: “Yeah, I suppose it was. We forgot about that.”

It was reported recently that the deputy prime minister had instructed Whitehall staff not to send him any ministerial boxes – containing documents to deal with – after 3pm, the start of the school run rush hour.

Making Ed “talk”

December 17, 2010 By: Henry Carlton Category: Spoiled Papers

On 14 May 2010, following his brother’s announcement of his own candidacy, Mister Ed Miliband announced that he would stand as a candidate for the leadership of the Labour Party, following the resignation of Gordon Brown three days earlier. He launched his campaign at a Fabian Society conference at the School of Oriental and African Studies and was nominated by 62 fellow Labour MPs.

It is said the crew was able to get Mister Ed to move his mouth by applying peanut butter to his gums in order for him to try to remove it by moving his lips. However, Alan Young said that he had started this story himself.

“I made up the peanut butter story, and everyone bought it. It was initially done by putting a piece of nylon thread in his mouth. But Ed actually learned to move his lips on cue when the trainer touched his hoof. In fact, he soon learned to do it when I stopped talking during a scene! Ed was very smart.”

*The Voter wishes to offer sincere apologies to anyone who feels upset by this article. In these modern times we must accept that the blog is a dynamic medium and given the pace at which events happen, the occasional blip is bound to occur.

In this particular case, items researched for two of our unrelated blogs became the subject of over-exuberant cutting-and-pasting, with unfortunate results.
This will be rectified as soon as time permits.
Apologies to Mister Ed Miliband and to Mister Ed, the Talking Horse.

Truth stranger than fiction…

December 16, 2010 By: Henry Carlton Category: Spoiled Papers

During an odd bit of site maintenance, The Voter took a quick scan through the About page and happened upon this little gem:

I often think it’s comical – Fal, lal, la!
How Nature always does contrive – Fal, lal, la!
That every boy and every gal
That’s born into the world alive
Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative!
Fal, lal, la!

What Sir Gilbert O’Sullivan should have said was:

Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative
Or else Both!
Fal, lal, la!

Now just a minute, Mister Ed, before you feel sorry for Manchester.

December 16, 2010 By: Henry Carlton Category: Spoiled Papers

The Manchester Evening News reports this week that the Labour leader Mister Ed Miliband has slammed the government over devastating cuts to town halls in Greater Manchester.

The newspaper quotes Mister Ed as saying, “The word fairness gets bandied about a lot these days but these cuts are anything but fair.  Fairness doesn’t mean cutting funding from the most deprived areas of the country – the areas that need it the most.”

Well, The Voter says, whoa there, Mister Ed, before you go feeling too sorry for Manchester. Just look at what the BBC has to say:

“Coronation Street is to be rebuilt, with a new, larger set to open in 2013. The new street, complete with the famous houses and cobbles, will be constructed to a larger scale to cater for the demands of high definition TV.”

Now it has to be said that the BBC must be inflamed with jealousy over this upgrade and can be forgiven the odd porky (larger scale indeed! Presumably then,  they’ll need new, full-sized actors to replace the likes of the five-foot three Ken Barlow and four-foot five Sally Webster? )

Back to the main point, I think Mister Ed should be aware that this part of Manchester will hardly be a deprived area once the payouts from the tragic tram “accident” [my quotes] have been shelled out. Presumably, ITV are expecting a massive payout to fund the new replacement for the Lilliputian-style Corrie. Not to mention the inevitable torrent of “nouveau riche” whiplash claimants from among the cast members, that we always get following a tram falling into a densely populated drinking area.

In any event it has come to The Voter’s attention, via “Corrieleaks”, that the new 7.7 acre site project is likely to create up to eight new jobs. So, far from being described as “deprived”, this area of Manchester could be the beginnings of a hotbed of opulence.

So – no more petty political point-scoring.


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