Monday, 28 September 2009

Busy Day

Spent the morning in a lecture about Media Law. Quite scary when libel payouts were being discussed. This afternoon was Principles and Practices of Magazine Journalism. The reading list is huge! Ordered some from Amazon and reserved the rest from the Library. Discovered that there is no Union Bar at the St.Peter Campus but there are a couple of pubs in walking distance. I thought journalists were a hard drinking lot but obviously not! Maybe they just need to warm up a bit. Handed in my first "think piece" and will be discussing it tomorrow. It was about achievement versus effort in Higher education. "Males more optimistic, but to their detriment” makes a good headline but the team from University of Wales Institute leave a hole, big enough to drive the metaphorical bus through, when they declare their findings are based upon a sample of 112 psychology students. It is difficult to see how these can be seen as a representative group from which to draw general conclusions.

If the issue is one primarily of self belief then the environment in which the students grew up, their aims and aspirations would be significant factors in the results obtained by the study. The males in the study having a greater belief in their own abilities than their achievements apparently seem to justify. The female students appear to accept they needed to work harder just to achieve the same level of results. Psychology is fast becoming one of the most popular undergraduate degrees according to the UK Careers Advice Website. It is attracting a higher number of students who have no clear idea of where their future career will take them. The level of vocational motivation in such students would understandably be much lower than in students studying Medicine, Engineering or Teaching.

Speaking as one of the new middle class and a father of two teenaged children, both currently studying for higher qualifications, I can say that my daughter works harder, is more focused and more determined than my son. However, that has been the case since they were young children. My daughter was a first grandchild for both mine and my wife’s family. My son was the third grandchild, but critically the first grandson. The way in which the working class grandparents reacted to them was very different.

As the oldest grandchild, my daughter was always encouraged to excel. As the oldest grandson, my son was always expected to excel. A critical difference.

It would be a much more significant finding if the research were repeated and the same results obtained using students from different social backgrounds and on a range of vocational courses. Drawing general conclusions from such a narrow sample cannot be either statistically or socially valid.

Anyway, shorthand starts next week as well. 100words per minute! not as easy as it sounds. Booked tickets for Al Murray on 8th October and Jimmy Carr on 17th January. Well if I'm in Sunderland I might as well make the most of it! NCTJ Exams on December 10th for Court Reporting and January 14th for General Reporting, plus 3,000 word assignment to be handed in before Christmas. I think I'm going to be a busy boy!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Stage Coach Top Men in Hartlepool Meeting

Further to the recent North Neighborhood Forum I have been in discussions with Stagecoach and have been trying to put together a public meeting to discus the services relating to St.Hilda Ward. I have now been able to arrange for the Managing Director of Stagecoach North East, Mr.John Conroy and the Commercial Director, Mr.Robin Knight, to attend the meeting. These are the two top men in the North East and they do not attend meetings like this very often. This being the case I don't think the agenda should be limited to just St.Hilda Ward!

The meeting will be on Wednesday 7th October in the Borough Hall, 6.00pm for 6.30pm. As these are the top men I am opening the meeting to anyone in Hartlepool who wants to attend.

I have contacted the Mayor and all the Hartlepool Borough Councillors for whom I have e-mail addresses to ask if there are any specific questions that anyone would like to ask these two Gentlemen, petitions to present, etc, I can then put together an agenda to kick the meeting off. The Borough Hall is booked till 9.00pm.

I have also spoken to the Hartlepool Mail about the meeting and they will be running a feature about the meeting next week. I hope we can drum up a good cross section of the Councilors and general public to come along to get these two Directors out of their comfort zone. I cannot emphasize enough that it has been stressed to me that these people don't come down from their "Ivory Towers" very often so we have to get it right on the night as we in Hartlepool will probably only get one go at it.

Like losing a limb!

I have been the victim of a vicious and nasty attack! For once this wasn't in the Hartlepool Council Chamber, it wasn't even in the Hartlepool Mail or a stab in the back from someone in UKIP! No it was a virus that wiped out my computer. It required new hardwear to actually get my machine moving again, although we did also eventually find two re-sets on the mother board that weren't even shown on the manufacturer's schematics! One advantage of the whole incident has been that I've re-loaded my PC with Windows XP and dumped that bloody awful Vista!

So normal blogging service should be resumed from now on.

I was a little bit misty eyed on Thursday when the UKIP Regional Organisers met in London and I wasn't there. The end of an era, the new North East RO was in attendance and as soon as he is confirmed in place I'll be passing my responsibilities in that area over to him. Good luck Gordon is all I will say, oops I've let it slip now! From the reports I've had I didn't miss much at the meeting, the former UKIP Leader and former UKIP Treasurer turned up and I don't think I'm on the Christmas Card List of either of them!

I am still undertaking responsibility for producing the General Election Address but of course that depends upon who is elected as the new leader of UKIP since he (or she) will then be able to bring in their own team should they wish it. Good luck to them as well.

I attended my first session today for my NCTJ course, I have to learn shorthand! it is apparently fairly easy to learn but hard to acquire the minimum speeds, sounds like Chess, easy to learn how to play but very difficult to become amy good at the ngame. As a "magazine" journalist I only (only!) need to get to 80 words per minute, if I was doing the News Option then it's 100 words per minute. Core modules in semester one are Principles and Practices of Magazine Journalism, Media Law and Media in Society. In Semester two Media Ethics is compulsory. Media Ethics? Contradiction in terms?

The course leader turned out to be a former colleague of Piers Merchant from his days on the Newcastle Journal. He, like all of us was very sad about Pier's death. A good man taken too young.

I haven't been neglecting my other duties while the PC has been down. The sixth form college governors meetings and of course Council work have all been on-going. In fact I have a major announcement going out next week in the Hartlepool Mail about Stage Coach and the buss services in the town. Actually I think I'll preview that now in another post!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Join my Mafia

Join My Mafia:

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Curate's Egg

Well, what a can of worms my last post has opened up! I contacted several senior party members asking for their opinion. A sizable minority have just ignored me, which of course tells me something and the rest of the feedback has ranged from very, very supportive through to brutally dismissive! You really do find out who your friends are when you stick your head above the parapet on this sort of thing don't you!

On the other hand there might not even be a Leadership election, let's face it if Nigel Farage changed his mind and decided to stay on as leader then he'd be re-appointed by acclimation!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

UKIP Leadership

You can always tell how busy I am by the number of blog posts I make, well since the UKIP Conference last week I have been both surprised and pleased by the large number of calls and e-mails I have received urging me to consider putting my hat into the ring for the Leadership of UKIP after Nigel announced his retirement on Friday. My initial reaction was to dismiss these suggestions out of hand, but some of the more persistent callers asked me to think it over very carefully.

Over the past five years I have seen, from quite a senior position, how the UK Independence Party operates and became convinced some time ago that things needed to change organisationally in order for the Party to continue to progress. One thing that definitely needs to be addressed is the perceived imbalance in the party where the financial muscle of the MEPs is seen to allow them to wield disproportionate influence. I do believe that many of the MEPs themselves agree that the Party is now too big for this concentration of power to be sustainable. Nigel’s admission that the Leadership was too much for him to handle along with his other roles being an illustration of this.

To this end I am now seriously considering seeking the necessary 50 signatures to permit me to submit my name for nomination as a Candidate for Leader of UKIP. This is in the belief that it should not be an MEP who takes this role forward in the domestic arena. MEPs have a job to do exposing the EU beast for what it really is. The Leader of UKIP in the UK needs to concentrate on modernising the party and bringing in management practices that are fit for a party that is growing in influence at every election we fight.

If I were to stand and be elected I would devote myself full time to the post. I would cease promoting my private business interests and would not seek election as a MP or MEP during my tenure as Leader of the Party. When the Party Leader, or indeed any Party Officer, is a UKIP MEP and therefore in receipt of a substantial salary as a result of their UKIP activities, I think it is unreasonable for them to expect additional payments for carrying out Party Officer roles. However, were I to become Party Leader I would expect a salary commensurate with at least minimum wage, and I would expect the Party to cover the expenses incurred while on party business. I do not think this is unreasonable as I would still need to live and support my family. I would publish an on-line diary of my activities and my expenses so that there was complete transparency of what was being spent and on what. I do not think it is unreasonable to expect this as unless the Party are willing to support the Leader in this way then only those with a private income could ever aspire to senior posts.

UKIP advertises itself as a Party of real people, not career politicians. However it appears to me that our over reliance on MEPs to fill senior posts leaves us open to the accusation that we are no different to the other parties. UKIP must open up its senior positions such a Leader and Chairman to real people, not career politicians, for despite what our MEPs may say I believe that once the have been elected, and in some cases re-elected, as Members of the European Parliament then they have embarked on a political career. This is why I would NOT seek election as a Member of the European, or Westminster, Parliaments while I was Party Leader.

I believe I have the management and personal skills necessary to lead our party and the ability to build a team where each member plays to their strengths. Working with Nigel Farage as the political Leader I would very much see the Role as a Chief Executive role rather than the predominately public facing role that Nigel undertakes and which is undoubtedly one of his strengths. UKIP needs MEPs as our political face, we need the NEC as our senior management body overseeing a Business Plan for the Party, we need an efficient secretariat carrying out party administration and we need a united membership going forward together. These are the things I would work towards as key steps on the way to getting our country back.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

You couldn't make 'em up!

These are taken from real complaints made to Councils in UK, you couldn't make 'em up!

1.. It's the dogs' mess that I find hard to swallow

2.. I want some repairs done to my cooker as it has backfired and burnt my knob off.

3.. I wish to complain that my father burnt his ankle very badly when he put his foot in the hole in his back passage..

4.. And their 18 year old son is continually banging his balls against my fence.

5.. I wish to report that tiles are missing from the outside toilet roof. I think it was bad wind the other day that blew them off.

6..My lavatory seat is cracked, where do I stand?

7.. I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is coming away from the wall.

8.. Will you please send someone to mend the garden path. My wife tripped and fell on it yesterday and now she is pregnant.

9.. I request permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen.

10.. 50% of the walls are damp, 50% have crumbling plaster, and 50% are Plain filthy.

11.. I am still having problems with smoke in my new drawers.

12.. The toilet is blocked and we cannot bath the children until it is cleared.

13..Will you please send a man to look at my water, it is a funny colour and Not fit to drink.

14..Our lavatory seat is broken in half and now is in three pieces.

15..I want to complain about the farmer across the road. Every morning at 6am his cock wakes me up and it's now getting too
much For me.

16..The man next door has a large erection in the back garden, which is Unsightly and dangerous

17..Our kitchen floor is damp. We have two children and would like a third So please send someone round to do something about it.

18..I am a single woman living in a downstairs flat and would you please do something about the noise made by the man on top
of me every night.

19..Please send a man with the right tool to finish the job and satisfy my wife.

20.. I have had the clerk of works down on the floor six times but I still have no satisfaction

21.. This is to let you know that our lavatory seat is broke and we can't get BBC2.

22.. My bush is really overgrown round the front and my back passage has fungus growing in it.

23..He's got this huge tool that vibrates the whole house and I just can't take it anymore.