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Archive for April 10th, 2010

Click to visit the Auto-Tune channel
For those who don’t know, “Auto-Tune The News” is a musical, American, political satire, Youtube channel. (“Auto-Tuning” means fiddling around with voices electronically, or something.)

Even though it’s almost exclusively (unsurprisingly) about US politics, I’ve always thought their stuff was pretty funny. Well, they’ve been quite tickled by Nigel Farage’s outburst at EU Central some weeks ago, too, where he tried to do a Dan Hannan on Humbug van Pompom, or whatever the hell his stupid name is, (you know, the European “President” blokey. You know.) and just ended up insulting the bejeezus out of the total non-entity, harmless Euro puppet-in-chief, ex-leader of a non-country.

I can tell you I was shocked when I heard Herr Farage piled in the way he did. Truly. When he was in full flow, it made me laugh so much I spilt hot coffee all over my lap. You’d have been shocked too, I can tell you. It stung so bad!

What will interest Farage is that the video’s had 230,000-odd hits so far which means he’s a lot more famous in America than he is in Buckingham (though that’s hardly surprising since there’s only 13,000 people in Buckingham).

Anyway, this is Gasper Nige getting the ATTN treatment, plus some other stuff. Pretty witty, I thought.

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Polls during this general election campaign, and before it, for a variety of reasons have been more frequent and less helpful than at any time before. The idea that simply doing more and more polls and then ‘weighting’ them with a series of arcane, largely untestable methodological tricks, usually hidden from the public (though Mike Smithson, among others, has helped to correct that state of affairs) is one that I think is simply an extremely expensive waste of time carried out by self-styled professional psephological gurus happy to take the cash. The YouGov “daily tracker” is probably the worst offender being, as it is, about as reliable as a Met Office long term weather forecast (see the Daily Telegraph from a few days ago). But it is by no means the only one.

The media loves it, of course, especially if these dodgy measurements of voting intentions suggest a close call – and a hung parliament. Big News! Sells papers and sucks in viewers. So they drive that narrative, using these non-statistics as evidence. The hung parliament trope has become the most popular recently, much to the delight of the MSM, but not, it seems to me, to the Labour party, who have been largely silent on the subject. Why? Certainly not because they are confident of winning. The more-likely reason is that they have about as much faith in these exercises in statistical soothsaying as I do.
Not so the media, however, with a new ICM poll out about key marginals, commissioned by Murdoch rag the News of the Screws and faithfully advertised by Spectator editor Fraser Nelson. Taken at face value, Nelson’s argument that the ‘extensive research’ that took place to produce this poll might seem to make sense; that the Tories are going to need a hell of a lot more than the 5% swing they think they need because, so the poll allegedly shows, they aren’t performing as well as they thought, with the LibDums nicking votes from them left, right and centre.
Aside from the fact that Nelson also works for the Screws, and therefore Murdoch, and the fact that it’s the parasitic Murdoch media machine, particularly Sky News, that is pushing the hung parliament story at every opportunity (complete with a misleading poll ticker appearing 24 hours a day on their rolling news channel), scratch beneath the surface and you see that this earth shattering poll in nothing of the sort. It’s hardly more reliable than a complete guess. Just look at the size of the sample, as mentioned in the small print:

Here’s the small print: ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1001 adults aged 18+ by telephone on 7-8th April 2010. Interviews were conducted across the 96 (new boundary) constituencies which are held by Labour where the Conservatives require a swing of between 4 percent and 10 percent to win the seat.

As commenters on the blog have quickly pointed out, 1001 people over 96 constituencies?! You have to be kidding. That’s about ten people per constituency. As I said, they might as well have saved themselves the thousands it cost to do that and just thrown a dart at a bunch of numbers pinned to the wall for all the use a poll like that is. But Nelson still banged on about it as though it was remotely meaningful, proving once more, at least to me, either that he is compromised by his connections to the News of the World, or that he’s just not as smart as I thought he was, or that he just as much a fully paid up luvvie member the fourth estate as every other hack and hackette infesting this country, ‘blogging’ or no ‘blogging’.
The point? The point is that my hunch – that the Tories are actually miles ahead, but that people simply aren’t ready to admit that yet, or that these polls are so flawed, they would never reflect the reality – is worth just as much, if not more, than the polls themselves. And so is yours, dear reader. So the Tories do not need to develop poll paranoia. They certainly don’t need to “panic”, as Nelson helpfully suggests in the picture accompanying his dishonest/incompetent article.
The only danger is that all this hung parliament speculation, regardless of the flakey, fake stats that’s driving it, will become a self-fulfilling prophesy, thus handing Labour an unexpected lifeline – and selling the country down the river. No wonder the Tories kept Murdoch’s empire at arm’s length when it turned coat again and came out for them. With friends like these. In addition, it’s plausible that poll paranoia will catch hold in the Tory party itself, again making the whole thing self-fulfilling.
Nevertheless, despite the media’s attempts to drive the outcome of this election, I firmly believe that the damage that’s been done to Brown Labour, and that it’s done to itself (not least by allowing Brown to become leader unopposed in the first place) is so grave, not even corrupt media organisations and shockingly crap pollsters can save them now.
Have I gone too far? I’ll tell you on May 7th. Or someone will tell me, no doubt. What I suspect, though, is that on May 7th, Britain will have a Tory government with a comfortable, if not large, majority – and an awful lot of pollsters and tame journos, once the noise from the celebrations have died down, are going to have an awful lot of egg on their collective mugs.

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For the first time in 20 years, I’ve had a flutter! That’s the internet for you.

I’ve got no idea what I’m doing, but I do watch the Grand National every year and just decided on the spur of the moment to have a go this time around.

I liked the look of Mon Mome. Put a tenner on that at 14s.

I’ve also put a fiver on My Will (my brother’s called Will, so it made perfect turf sense to me). I got that at 33/1. It’s down to 25 now.

Very exciting. But knowing my luck, one of the nags won’t make it to the starting line and the other one’s head’ll fall off before the first fence. Poor things.

Still, all good entertainment for fifteen nicker. Wish me luck!
Update:

Er, never mind lol.

Now I remember why I don’t bet on horses. But sheesh, the Grand National is one brutal race!

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I nearly missed this extraordinary piece buried in the business pages of yesterday’s Telegraph by half-decent economics commentator (and there aren’t many of those) Edmund Conway. The thrust of the piece, supported by an interesting flashback to the days when Blair was, apparently, Labour’s City spokesman, just when the ’87 bubble burst, is that a series of FoI requests have revealed that Blair knew about Brown’s mega housing bust as early as 2004, possibly before. Said Conway:

So concerned was the PM back in 2004 that the housing market was turning into a bubble that he asked the Treasury for a full briefing note (in fact he was prompted by an FT column by Martin Wolf, warning: “Nobody knows when the bust will come. But come, I believe, it will”.)

Fine, but nothing, as everyone no doubt recalls, happened. Why? I think we can guess. Conway continues:

Now, it probably isn’t a surprise to hear that the Treasury dismissed this view in its document, which PricedOut has attained under a Freedom of Information request. But I was surprised by the length of the document (eight chunky pages) and throughout its length a sheer unwillingness to countenance the possibility that the housing market would crash. It underlines the simple fact that the Treasury under Gordon Brown was blind to the possibility that things could go horribly wrong – even within the confines of Downing Street. It turns out no-one was allowed to challenge the “end to boom and bust” trope – even Tony Blair himself.

Blair’s role in this debacle simply demonstrates how weak a prime minister, and person, he actually was. And, of course, it shows how far he would go to keep the title. He knew and yet he did nothing. If he’d had a spine, he would have fired Brown when he had the chance. But he didn’t, and should be judged accordingly.

As for Brown. My God! Is it any wonder that I hate him (and I mean hate) and all he stands for? Is it really that surprising that I, and millions of others, believe he is the worst man ever to have held high office in this country? Should it really be that much of a shock that I am 100% sure that if this unelected, incompetent, vainglorious oddball is somehow given a mandate this year, the damage he will do to this country afterwards would make terrible harm he’s caused so far look like the good old days?
At least the politics are therefore very straightforward: you vote Labour in your constituency and you will get five more years of the lying economic wrecker. Vote Tory, you don’t.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s a moral duty to vote Conservative this time around, and all that that implies if you don’t. That what’s at stake here. The documentary proof in Conway’s article provides the proof, as if more were needed.

And now, just for a bit of extra entertainment, and in case you can’t be bothered to click through to original article, is that video of Blair in ’87. Who’d have thought a wet-behind-the-ears political unknown, who’d never had a proper a job in his life, would one day be prime minister.

Well, so much for David Cameron. But it is interesting to see Blair back then...

…about the same as he looks now, only less suntanned and without the Yank accent.

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