The Cloven Hoof

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  • #40021
    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @purofilion et al — not quite a clean sweep for the Conservatives but enough for them to get into power. The truly striking thing is the landslide towards the SNP in Scotland, who got 56 out of the 59 seats available. They’re centre-left, relatively progressive, by no means perfect but the probably the lesser of all the various evils on offer. The Westminster parties now only have one MP each in Scotland now and this represents a real political faultline in the UK now. I honestly don’t know what that’s going to mean but I wouldn’t say that a second independence referendum, in addition to the EU one, is an entirely unlikely possibility now.

    As far as the UK goes over the next five years, it’s going to be an odd, and possibly horrible, time. The Tories are now free to do whatever the hell they like and all their national and natural opposition has effectively been nobbled — both the Lib Dems and Labour will be solely fixed on rebuilding themselves to be anything like a viable opposition.

    #40024
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    I think my general opinion of the election result can be summarised as “oh bugger”.

    I used to participate on the Gs Political blogs on occasion until the majesty of Andrew Sparrows politics blogs were ruined by format changes. I hope no-one minds if I info dump my “State of the Nation” thoughts onto here. In keeping with the general philosophy I shall be making more than one or two Doctor who references. I’m also trying to keep an upbeat and positive approach. I’m also just really talking about the trad 3 parties here.

    I’ll also be upfront – as the son of a Miner, a teenager of the eighties (and all that strife) I do not think happy thoughts when confronted with people in blue. My grandfathers were miners. My father was from the North-east my Mother from the North-west. Their fathers were Miners. I have a ancestor who was on the Jarrow March. Paternal family was Scottish descended, Maternal was Irish descended. I was born in a Midlands torn apart by eighties excesses and live in a part of Yorkshire that has never fully recovered from those. I escaped from a mining town to live in another mining town. Before the Mines were closed and the idiotic harmful practice of adding to the Carbon burden of Coal by importing cheap coal from around the globe was implemented to prove a cretinous political point. I went to the University of Bradford (founding father Harold Wilson – a Labour PM) and I took great delight, while there, of being a voting participant in the downfall of Sontaran look alike Eric Pickles who led a ruinous City Council.

    pickles

    Unfortunately , he was rewarded by a sycophantic Party with a safe MP seat and he’s now the Minster of shooting rapid fire Mindwank from the hip in the direction of the Daily Mail.

    Just so you know- I have a natural antipathy for the Conservative Party.

    “Some Corners of the Universe have bred the most terrible things…they must be fought”.

    That such an inept shower of shite as the current Conservative Party have gained power is truly disturbing. I’m sure the analysis of this one will go on and on. The “quiet conservatives” who said they’d vote one way and jump back to the venal option were a real thing in the eighties and early nineties. Imagine that – a party that you were embarrassed to admit you’d support when asked in an anonymous poll. But you still voted for. The mind boggles.

    Here we are though. The PM is David Cameron. With a slim majority and not in coalition. The “David Cameron is a lizard person” label is quite common.

    cameron is a lizard

    It doesn’t quite work in Doctor Who terms because the Silurians (and Vastra in particular) are capable of compassion. Not so David Cameron.

    david cameron and puppy
    David Cameron in a photo op showing the face of Compassionate Conservatism.
    “David – don’t play with your food”
    “Vote for me or the puppy gets it”

    My “Reason to be cheerful” on this is twofold. He’s announced this will be his final term. What that means in practice is that he’ll probably stand down like Blair at some point and a nasty totemic fight for the leadership will erupt. He’s also a lame duck PM with a slim majority just as John Major was in the nineties, held to ransom by members of his own party with some pretty swivelled eyed views. With fixed parliaments in play, I can’t help thinking this is a recipe for a series of huge self inflicted wounds as the Conservatives try to play “Who is the biggest B’stard of the lot of us”.

    Therefore I can’t help but think that the following e-mail has been sent by Conservative Central Office:

    “Dear MP

    Congratulations on being elected/re-elected!

    Please don’t die.

    A Wonk.
    CCO”

    Because byelections are notoriously bad for Government. Every one over the next five years will be hilarious.
    boris
    “Vote for me! What this country needs right now is a slack jawed buffoon!!”

    Post Cameron, the replacement B’stards are potentially Boris Johnson, who has suddenly gone all “Federal states of the UK” on us. A tacit admission that the Tories may as well give up on huge swathes of the UK. He should know, because he’s offended and made grovelling apologies to many of them. Let’s face it – the Boris act of appearing as some sort of bumbling toff in a 1950s farce bellowing “oh crickey” as his pants fall down is not going to play in a huge amount of the country.

    The other is George Osborne – as Chancellor he’s been the disaster that only an over privileged toff whose only substantive previous job was menial work in Selfridges could be. He appears to genuinely hate actual people and has spent much of his time in this election (as in the previous) being locked in a cage fed raw meat in case he said something controversial.
    George osborne - the face of evil
    Forget the Fourth Doctor adventure – this is the true “Face of Evil”. George Osborne is so un-ironically evil he readily agreed to pose for this picture. 

    As I said before. The fact that substantial numbers of people actually looked at this Party (and don’t get me started on other individual members like Hunt and Gove) and thought “ah – they’re the guys for me!” makes me think that many of my fellow voters are actual sociopaths.

    “You’re the perfect example of the inverse ratio between size of mouth and size of brain”

    In a timey wimey way Nick Clegg has the unusual honour of being satirised before he even joined politics. In the 70s 2000AD the insane right wing Judge Cal was propped up in power by lizard alien “Kleggs”. A Case of life imitating art perhaps.

    the kleggs
    Since they were formed from the old Liberal/Social Democratic Parties they’ve always traded on the image of being left leaning and progressive. Largely, going into power with the conservatives was always going to be harmful to them. It must be said though that Cleggs behaviour in Government in appearing to relish the shared dialogue of victim blaming the unemployed and benefit scroungers was appallingly crass. Also – admitting that you never believed in a huge part of your electoral manifesto (the economic position, Student loan position, NHS, shit the list goes on and on) live on TV was stunning in it’s elegant way. He may as well of announced the death of his party then and there. Clegg could cry a river and I wouldn’t feel any sympathy for him.

    The Party has started making noises about going back the Social Democratic principles but, let’s face it, the many casualties in it’s MPs (they have lost four fifths of it’s MPs) have taken place in the progressive elements of the North and Scotland. They don’t have many people who are naturally wired that way left. While it was great to see Beaker look alike Danny Alexander losing his seat it was painful to see people like Charles Kennedy, who was so articulate in opposing the Iraq war, going the same way.

    I think their next leader is going to be Farron, and any reorientation to “the left” is going to be pretty superficial.

    “I gave him this big old dream about Dan the Soldier Man”

    that bacon sandwich moment
    “Just look at the way he eats a sandwich! He’s obviously unfit to govern.”

    Ed Milliband. The fact that so much can be made of one guy eating a bacon sandwich (which seemed to be in the news for weeks) is surely a statement of how low we’ve come. He became a natural target for much of the press (who generally don’t like lefties very much anyway) when he took up MP Tom Watsons cause on press corruption and led with it.

    You can’t get away from the fact that a large amount of his problem was presentation. He’s stilted and doesn’t come over as natural in any meaningful way. He’s said much of value, but it has a habit of getting lost. It really is a shame. The question is now who is going to replace him.
    Auton attack!
    Holy shit – it’s the Auton shop window dummies!

    The bookies front runners are Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Chuka Ummuna. Each has their own individual problems and all seem like the plastic Auton replicants of elements of past leaders. I think a huge problem for Labour is that it has to get past the whole “Are you a Brownite or a Blairite” mindset. Frankly – any of the above seem to have exactly those kind of issue.

    One of the names that has cropped up as an outsider is Dan Jarvis. This is astonishing to me as he’s the name I put my X next to on Thursday. He’s been my MP since he was elected in a byelection held shortly after the last General election. Yes – this guy have never served a full Parliament and is mentioned in a leadership race. Astonishing, but somehow very right.

    I’ll explain why. Basically I’ve lived for 20 years in Barnsley. An old mining town. It’s MPs have traditionally been deep red and come from the Mining community. Eric Illsley was reelected in 2010 and he was someone I couldn’t vote for at the time. Because Eric had been a naughty boy on the expenses issue and had to resign to take a short holiday at Her Majesties Pleasure shortly after the election. The 2010 election had also seen a surge of support for nasty right wing party the BNP who made a huge gain by painting themselves as the “Anti-War” party. It naturally played very well because with the devastation wrought on the Mining Industry, the area became a prime recruiting ground for the armed services. Lots of people will have family who serve or who have served and a certain pride in local regiments is evident.

    Jarvis was selected and broke a lot of traditions. He was born in Nottingham (not local) and wasn’t really from the Mining tradition. He was a soldier. This annoyed some but he fought an effective campaign, won (this wasn’t really in doubt) but in doing so knee-capped the entire BNP strategy and their support collapsed. As an MP he got promoted to speak on Culture and then Youth Justice. He was pretty effective on both and it was refreshing to see someone admit they didn’t have an awful lot of knowledge of the aspects of the culture role, but was eager to learn.

    Putting aside his relative inexperience, I think he has a couple of major advantages.

    Firstly, he’s not tied to the Brownite/Blairite legacy because he didn’t serve under either of them. While they were in power he fought the wars that are so problematic for Labour. From Kosovo in 1999 through Iraq and Afghanistan. For a party that has to heal from some of those decisions, I think he may be the means to do so.

    Secondly, and more importantly perhaps, is that the Conservatives genuinely fear him. He doesn’t fit the narrative of champagne socialist at all, and due to a mixture of circumstances is ironically bullet proof as far as usual Tory attack processes go. His first wife died of bowel cancer. He gave a hugely emotive speech on the NHS praising their care for her. How can you paint him as one of these socialists out to destroy everything you hold dear when he’s served for Queen and Country? He’s a difficult target from an aspirational working class background. He’s also got a less practised artificial air about him. I’ll post a rare link to the Daily Mail here. That’s why the Conservatives really fear him. If he can get that sort of press from the Mail? So – commeth the hour and all that, are we ready for Dan the Soldier Man for PM?

    dan the soldier man

    #40028
    Anonymous @

    @phaseshift

    Thank you for that, absolutely. What an interesting family history -and one which you haven’t run away from. If there’s a working class person in this country, one with roots in that arena, or else one with parents who were/are, they’re not proud of it -in fact they talk, instead, about just how much money they made at everyone’s expense last quarter. Everyone wants to be rich in Oz.

    None of our Australian newspapers have written about the election with your level of detail and passion. It’s been mostly ignored unless Four Corners (our ABC current affairs flag ship) has something planned for Monday night.

    My own parents were immigrants who arrived with the shirt on their backs, a rye bread in their old coat and a stolen Russian pistol. Within a few years they were singing the conservative tune and saying “dear, you’re so young, everyone acts like a Socialist in their twenties. You’ll see the right soon.”

    Nope. Never have and never will. Firmly in the left-wing camp while hundreds of teenagers on modern campuses join conservative parties wearing shirts and ties, visiting the local Baptist parish or chapter and believing in money money money and me, me, me all the way. And it’s getting worse.

    Those hundreds are becoming thousands. No longer is the uni campus a thriving complex of Labour values, henna dyed shirts, weed, conspiracy theories and protests. Now, they just line up at the uni bank making withdrawals so they can afford the next payment for Marketing for Wankers 101.

    Anyway, it’s Mothers Day, here, and I’ve just been given an interesting book @ichabod -you might be interested- called  A Short History of Stupid: The Decline of Reason and why public debate makes us want to scream by Helen Razer. We shall see, indeed.

    Kindest, puro.

     

    #40029
    Mudlark @mudlark

    @phaseshift   My reaction was rather stronger than ‘Oh bugger’ and I am still alternating between steam-coming-out-of-the-ears angry and a mood of profound despondency at the prospect of (probably) at least five more grim years of this incompetent and economically illiterate shower doing their best to finish destroying all the good that was established or begun by the post-war Attlee government – the society in which I grew up and for long (I’m afraid) took for granted.  My immediate family background is middle class, although not exactly orthodoxly so.  My father, a product of Cambridge University in the 1930’s was, as he put it, ‘of a pinkish persuasion’, and his father was the first of the family to get a university degree, descended ultimately from weavers and small-time clothiers in the Rochdale/Middleton area.  My maternal grandparents were a pipe fitter and a dressmaker respectively, but my mother and her sister won scholarships to a local grammar school in the 1920s.  My father’s family were, I think, socialists of a Fabian stripe, and my mother’s family Liberal in the 19th/early 20th century tradition.   None of us ever had much time for the Tories, and since Thatcher’s day I have loathed them and all their works. .

    Interesting what you say about Jarvis.  The name had not registered before, but shortly after reading your account of him I came across a mention in a comment on Nick Cohen’s opinion piece in the Guardian.  Clearly a name to watch.  Our newly elected MP, Clive Lewis, may not prove to be a high flyer, but he has declared himself anti-Blairite, which is encouraging, especially when the immediate reaction of some of the party big-wigs seems to be to recommend a lurch even further toward the centre.  What exasperated me about the Labour election campaign was how low key, timid and purely reactive it was.  In particular, there was no real attempt to counter the Big Lie that profligate spending by the last  Labour government was solely, or even primarily, responsible for the recession and the deficit, or that austerity was an effective solution, even when ample ammunition had been provided by the likes of Paul Krugman.

    Love the photo of Osborne. He needs no makeup to qualify as a Who monster

    @fatmaninabox  At least you are embedded in a substantial, if compact bloc of Labour constituencies. We in Norwich South are a small speck of red in a vast ocean of hostile Tory blue.

    @Purofilion  As  @jimthefish has said, it was not exactly a landslide.  The Conservatives had just under 37% of the votes cast which, in a turnout of around 66%, amounts to just under a quarter of the total electorate. Labour have 232 MPs, with just over 30% of the votes (in many if the seats which they won their vote actually increased).  With 331 MPs, the Tories have 12 more than all the other parties combined (in practice 16, since  Sinn Fein members do not take their seats), but it remains a fairly slender majority.  Which will not, unfortunately, stop them from acting as if they had a mandate from the entire country to do whatever they like.  I just hope that the SNP MPs  (all power to them) will be as noisy and obstreperous as possible, and that the MPs from the north of England and Wales will be similarly galvanised.

    The conventional wisdom is that as people get older they become more conservative in their views, and the Conservatives certainly seem to have been courting the oldie vote.  This pensioner ain’t falling for their blandishments and, in fact, as I get older I seem to be moving even further leftwards on the political spectrum. You may yet see me at the barricades, armed with a zimmer frame 🙂

     

     

     

    #40034
    Anonymous @

    @mudlark @phaseshift @fatmaninabox @jimthefish

    Problem is, is that they do have a mandate. A majority constitutes that regardless of seats.

    In this country, when our first Labour PM was elected after a severe political drought, many conservatives complained that he had no mandate to implement (sensible) changes in schools, health care and economics where a necessary removal of economic loop holes allowing the Super Rich to ‘invest’ their profits in other countries (and to evade tax) was essential

    Of course he had a mandate and so do the conservatives in the UK. After 5 years of intense rivalry on the main streets of London (and in various smaller counties) where people complained bitterly about the growing gap between the Super Rich and the poor, the conservatives still remain in power. I suppose what I’m getting at is this. After demonstrable economic failures in both policy and debates which became headlines even in this particular parochial part of the world, how on earth did the conservatives retain power? There’s been no real seismic shift although I can see the faint positive echoes that @phaseshift illustrated.

    It’s still a major disappointment in ye old little colony.

    As mentioned above, a new book A Short History of Stupid has added some humorous but angry comments on the matter of stupidity and the repetition of certain actions designed to revive old habits:

    “It is crucial for us to examine the idea of ‘progress’ if we want to stop being so stupid. We want to assume that things are just getting better. Come on, lots of things are absolute shit.  We’ve reasserted the role of state back into regulating the economic choices of low income citizens that liberal capitalism withdrew it from, albeit via more subtle mechanisms. Low income earners are perceived by paternalists to be less capable of making competent decisions about their consumption… Much of the economic agenda of the right in Australia has been based on transforming  low-income workers into aspirational, shareholding, private education-and health care small business owners.”

    I’m sure we could replace ‘Australia’ with ‘UK’ and be forgiven.

    Certain groups have been subtly engineered, via incentives, to have their children schooled privately and to use private health care whilst the taxation system has been re-structured to incorporate these once ’employees’ into ‘independent contractors’ whilst employment based superannuation schemes are now redesignated as ‘wealth management’. It’s no surprise that such language (or weasel words) has caused certain groups to fully believe in this myth of personal wealth availability: inside every working class person is simply a bourgeois waiting to be set free.

    It is this which alarms me about conservative voters and conservative govts -landslide or not. That individual decisions which are the love of the right (user pays, the individual triumphant) contribute to systemic cost and this has occurred mainly because we’ve become so dulled by an overwhelming interest in the self above the group. Ralston Saul (and you’ll know him@Arbutus) even attests that this constant retrieval of the idea of Family over Society has had enormous negative consequences.

    A family, generally patriarchal in Australia, and for some, ‘in it for themselves’ is not the basis for equal society. It sounds rough, and by no means is Saul opposed to traditional family groupings, but he maintains a rage for the political groups which hijack family in order to chip away at profoundly important societal rights of education & health for all where the nuclear family could not reasonably provide. In this country we have Family First parties littering the federal landscape and that’s probably echoed in the UK.

    It’s an atomised understanding of the world and it causes a rather sentimental reaction when applied to politics -where every individual and group should contribute equally and should receive equally and not at the expense of other individuals or groups. I don’t see that happening, landslide or slim majority. I don’t think 5 years is going to be sufficient for such a sea change in thinking.

    End rant. Puro on Fire. Quick: get the extinguisher: cough, snort:

    #40036
    lisa @lisa

    I’ve been reading all the posts regarding the election. Its bringing back bad memories
    for me about when Bush got a second term and I told everyone that’s it I’m moving up to
    Canada! Those were horrible years politically for the States. Cameron’s government at
    least has given you the referendum choice and not out right lied to the UK about weapons
    of mass destruction again. Not yet. So I’m not saying its a great situation there but
    you do have the SNP plus the Cons don’t have a super majority. I was having a conversation
    with another friend from Derby area and she said that if Milliband had just more of the
    Farage gift for political discourse then the outcome could be different. Maybe? Its unfortunate
    but it does sound a bit like people voted ‘against’ more than they voted ‘for’ anything anyway
    and if your bitter going into a vote it makes it so much harder. I’ve seen this happening over
    and over in other countries too -lots of bitterness like a virus is everywhere.
    We are just getting started with our big one here. Oh joy!

    #40040
    janetteB @janetteb

    Really interesting posts. Enjoyed reading your views and personal histories @phaseshift, @mudlark and @Purofilion. Oh how I hate that post election feeling of betrayal and despair after which we sink into a kind of stoic apathy. I do wonder if democracy is now dead, because those, whose privilege it was supposed to undermine have now learned how to manipulate the voting body to ensure the maintenance of their positions. Once again the mass of society are at the mercy of the small minority who pull the strings. The vote has become a mere placebo, giving the masses the illusion of power when it reality Murdoch and cronies are the ones making the choices. When I was a student I recall watching a documentary, probably on 4 corners, which drew the correlation between Murdoch support and election results. That must have been in the region of thirty years ago. Nothing appears to have changed.

    Puro, like many fourth gen’ Aussies I have mixed heritage. My parents were conservative, aspirational types but both were from working class backgrounds and my two aunts were proud Labor voters. (They were horrified by my mother’s support for Menzies) Their father, a bricklayer, was a professed Communist/atheist. He suffered all his working life because of his political views. He was blacklisted as a trade unionist but he never compromised and though my mother did not agree with his views she was proud of his integrity. His father was a socialist and I have inherited some of his letters, not to mention his political DNA. On meeting the extended family I do suspect that political leanings are hereditary.

    @mudlark Last year on the train down to an anti Abbot demonstration we met an elderly lady who had never been to a demonstration before. She had a megaphone on her lap and such a spirit of determination in her eyes. I am not convinced that people become more conservative as they get older. My mother in law changed her political allegiance in the time I knew her. (Maybe in part due to our influence but mostly I think because she began to take notice of what was happening and break free of childhood “conditioning”.) We have two 90 year old friends, who are both staunchly radical. One is still a proud Fabian.

    Cheers

    Janette

    #40041
    Anonymous @

    @janetteb what a wonderful grand father (the bricklayer in your family, if I read that right?) to stay, as you say, with that integrity during what would have been post war concerns and a real aversion to the gradually emerging socialist and communist landscape. Anyone ‘colliding’ or colluding with trade unions had flaming bricks chucked through windows (this in Adelaide mid-’50s – a bastion, then, of social conservatism) so to stick by those fundamental rules – equal pay for a good days work – heralded some of the enormous societal and economic changes of the late ’60s and early to mid-’70s.

    I bet you’re very proud of your stalwart grandad -not that I’m fan of the Soviet Communist rule, or of the Korean, but I guess the idea of socialism is becoming more of a ‘thing’ (to quote Clara) because even our Labour Party, beginning with Keating ended up cruelling kicking the working classes in the butt and favouring the middle and upper classes with dollar deregulation and deals with ‘mates’-first introduced by Hawke. But I’ve a soft spot for the Silver Budgie because of the massive success of the well spun ‘Accord’ era -what a magnificent time that was to be a proud Labour voter -that pride has gone since Gillard sunk her teeth into Rudd and I don’t think the Australian political landscape has yet recovered.

    Your 90 year old friends and the lady you met on the bus with the megaphone is wonderful!  Political interest is not dead! We aren’t apathetic are we? 🙂

    #40043
    janetteB @janetteb

    Thanks @Purofilion I am proud of him. I don’t think his “communism” had much in common with either USSR or North Korea, which arguable are not communist in the true sense, if anyone even knows what the word means any more it has been so abused. His principled stance did make life difficult for his family during the depression though none of his children begrudged that.

    I was in Ireland when “the silver budgie” won. It was my first time voting and I had made the effort to do so. Back then expats could vote at consulates. I was so excited when the ALP swept into power. Oddly enough I was in Europe some years later when he was toppled by Keating. I was at Uni when HECS was introduced and felt completely sold out. I would have to disagree with you though re’ Gillard though. I think any teeth sinking was from the other side, and that entire affair was fueled my media. (I was not a fan of Rudd.)

    We are not apathetic. We have to keep up the good fight. 🙂 I will also look for the book you mentioned above. Sounds interesting.

    cheers

    Janette.

    #40053
    Arbutus @arbutus

    I followed the UK election story with a great deal of interest, and the ensuing conversation here as well. Wonderful that intelligent discussion can take place on politic matters as well as fictional ones! And I have enjoyed reading the family histories that people have shared.

    @jimthefish    I completely understand your fears. When our Conservative party won a majority after two successive minorities, Stephen Harper embarked on a process of stripping government of as much democratic process as possible. To make matters worse, the opposition leader died of cancer a few months after the election, so as you say, there was no one to speak out in an organized way. The damage has been considerable, but if we can succeed in throwing the bums out in the fall, probably not irreparable. Fortunately, we have a strong and fairly activist Supreme Court, that has been able to hold Harper in check in a few areas at least.

    @phaseshift    Thank you for sharing your thoughts in such detail. There are insights that can’t be gained by foreigners from any amount of Guardian-reading!

    @mudlark   I agree about the stereotype of growing more conservative with age. Interestingly, a lot of the most firmly left-wing viewpoints I know abide in the hearts of older people, often those who lived through the turmoil of the sixties. As Puro says, the young people are often the ones most focussed on their own lives and interests today. My sister is an aboriginal rights lawyer who overworks herself fighting for the rights of First Nations; her daughter is a wonderful, bright young woman who has just been admitted to the Bar, and plans to work as a securities lawyer. This puzzles my sister, but her daughter has no interest in litigation or (probably) the massive amount of work involved in what my sister does.

    @purofilion and @janetteb    What I envy in Australia is your voter turnout. At least people vote! In Canada now, our lack of turnout is appalling and embarrassing, and I wish that it could be made mandatory, as I believe it is for you? But of course, low turnout helps the Tories so they don’t care. And one of Harper’s greatest crimes is that he has trained the electorate to view the educated class, and people such as John Ralston Saul, as a threat to their values. However, the worm might be turning. Alberta, our most conservative province and the home of most of our oil industry, elected an NDP government last week (our version of Labour), overturning the Progressive Conservative party that had been in charge for 44 years! They finally got fed up with corruption and stupidity, enough to try something completely different. Most of us are now thinking “If that can happen in Alberta, it could probably happen anywhere!”

    @purofilion    It is Mother’s Day here, too! Happy Mother’s Day to you and all the other moms on the Forum. I hope you are all being treated well! It also happens to be my birthday, a fact I share in a completely shameless attempt at collecting good wishes, something you can’t have too much of!   🙂

    #40056
    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @arbutus — to be honest, my fears are more for those in England who didn’t want this Government (of which there are plenty) and now have little or no defence against it. Here in Scotland, the SNP now have a pretty remarkable position of strength and while they won’t be able to block austerity legislation, they can certainly shout and scream about it and hopefully make life as difficult as possible for the Tories. Just how much will depend on how which way Labour now jump as the official opposition.

    But with 56 MPs and a strong position in Holyrood, where much of the domestic legislation happens anyway — for example, the Bedroom Tax didn’t impact on Scotland as badly because the SNP took steps locally to offset the worst effects. The issue north of the border now is neutering the negative effects of the new Government as much as possible, horse-trading for the sensible implementation of more devolved powers and possibly securing a second independence referendum. But there’s the small matter of the Holyrood elections next year (looking pretty good for the SNP who are likely to increase their majority) and then the EU referendum the following year.

    Interesting times.

    #40059
    Anonymous @

    @jimthefish again we get no info re Scotland here and I’m glad there’s a sea change in that area.

    @arbutus Happy Birthday to you. When I return from work I shall find an appropriate choon for the day! Yes -in Oz it’s a small fine if you don’t vote and a black mark. Mandatory voting= mandate.

    #40064
    Mudlark @mudlark

    @purofilion

    they do have a mandate. A majority constitutes that regardless of seats.

    Well, 11334726 votes were cast for the Conservatives, but 19011810 people voted otherwise, so although they have a majority in terms of seats, they certainly cannot claim the support of a majority among the voting population of the UK.  Even if you top up their numbers with the votes cast for parties which might be considered broadly or partially in alignment with them, it still does not add up to a majority of votes cast.  So as I see it, although the system allows them to act as if they had a full mandate to carry out all their policies, it is a mandate from considerably less than half of those who voted, let alone the electorate as a whole.

    Where there are only two parties in contention, a first past the post system such as we have will generally produce a result which correlates roughly with the votes cast, at least insofar as the number of voters in each constituency is approximately equal; but where there are multiple parties, the results can become horribly skewed.  So at one end of the scale we have the Conservatives, with 36.9 % of the vote gaining 51% of seats in the House of Commons, and at the other end, UKIP, with 12.6% of the vote, and the Greens with 3.8% each with only one seat.  If seats were apportioned in exact proportion to the percentage of votes, the Conservatives would have 240, Labour 198, the Lib Dems 51, the SNP 31, UKIP 82, the Greens 25 and the various Northern Irish parties 13.  If FTPT were replaced with a system of proportional representation it would produce a House of Commons which approximated more closely to the will of the people as a whole, even though it would never be an exact match (and more people might feel they had an incentive to vote).

    I fully concur with what you say about the corrosive effect of modern conservative ideology and economic theory on the social fabric.  It has fostered self interest at the expense of a wider social responsibility, and as the distribution of wealth has become ever more grossly unequal they have demonised and hounded and made scapegoats of those who, for whatever reason, have to claim assistance from the state.  Life in Britain in the post war decades was often difficult and, for the majority, lacking in many of the material comforts and amenities we now take for granted, but throughout the 1950s and 60s there was, I think, an underlying and cohesive sense of progress and optimism, despite continuing problems and class divisions. And there was, for a while, also greater social mobility.  Now it feels as if we are regressing to a pre-war world of increasing social inequality and estrangement.

    During this election campaign the Tories played on peoples insecurities, used scare tactics and somehow managed to spin their mediocre record on the economic front as a success, aided by a press which is predominantly right wing, and in some instances rabidly so.  And Labour failed to counter this robustly, seemingly afraid that if they did so they might be accused of being too left wing.

     

    #40066
    Anonymous @

    @mudlark I suppose what I was getting at  -and writing very poorly – is that regardless of seats and of votes cast, the conservative party now ‘in power’ will ‘act’ as if they have a mandate to apply their policies. In Oz, where our voting system allows for these same kinds of results -and appears democratic – the leading party will say the result has meant that we now have a mandate to ‘rule’ as it were -and they will. That’s probably what I meant. I must thank you for outlining exactly those results -again, other than the radio program AM, on our National broadcaster, we really didn’t get a convincing breakdown of numbers until Monday 8AM EST.

    Thank you for that. Certainly I can also understand the frustration you must have as a independent, voraciously politically aware person who is very well educated and understands the way the political parties-and their attendant print media – spin the electoral views- such as they are. That you, @jimthefish and others are so aware of what is going on in your country is a testament to how much you care about, and attest to,  the deeper issues -not the Daily Mail stuff -which I appear to get in my in box now (having ticked ‘yes’ to something without being aware of what!)

    #40067
    Anonymous @

    @mudlark. Boy, did I say that wrong. We have a proportional system not a First Past the Post. Of course, this skews results considerably  but I’ve noticed even under a PS you end up with so many votes going to the lower aggregate of parties -below the fold, say, so that various candidates in  a variety of electorates place their votes with a different group. Some Labour candidates will ensure votes go to the Family First Party rather than the Greens so you end up with a completely hashed result of which much of the electorate -unless they read the fine print – remains unaware.

    It’s shabby but at least it’s proportional! Though would be those -such as Andrew Bolt (an idiot) and Robert Manne (not an idiot) who would disagree and claim it’s consistently unfair in larger states where “votes go to sheep and trees”. Our election analyst, Antony Green has  a marvellous website on this very matter and is always answering questions from those interested voters wanting to know how a specific electorate is divided up. Green has spent most of his life analysing votes for the ABC and affiliates and it’s refreshing to hear his take. @janetteb I think you’d know Antony Green who always unfurls his election analysis ‘flag’ come election night on ABC1? 🙂

    #40069
    janetteB @janetteb

    Happy Birthday @arbutus. I hope it is the beginning of a good year for you and for Canada. I heard about the Alberta win but did not know how significant it was. Thanks for putting that into context. Nice to hear something positive is happening somewhere in the world.

    I really appreciate compulsory voting though the right would love to ditch it. I also appreciate that elections in Oz are held on Saturday. I was shocked when I first learned that in the U.K they are held on a week day. Surely that is a deliberate disincentive for working people. Bosses may not legally be able to prevent workers voting but laws are made to be broken by those with vested interests in doing so. I can imagine how that would have worked out in my last workplace. “yes you can go and vote but next week when you come in for shifts they will all be taken.”

    Likewise there are massive benefits to the preferential voting system. Voters can register their  disappointment in the major parties by voting for one of the smaller parties while not wasting a vote. I often vote Greens rather than Labor. As long as Labor are before Liberal my vote will end up with Labor but if they win on preferences they know the electorate is not happy with them. As my partner often says it is not about who you are voting for but whom you are voting against, which is a sad reflection of both major parties.

    Cheers

    Janette

    #40072
    Mudlark @mudlark

    @janetteb  Holding elections on a Saturday or Sunday might have its advantages, but I don’t think that holding them on a Thursday has ever acted as a deterrent to voting here in the UK.  For a start, polling stations are open from early morning to 10PM, so unless there are people working 15 hour shifts, they should have time to vote before or after work.  There are also numerous Polling stations – several in every ward, in parish halls, community centres, school halls and even rural post offices, so that in general no one has to travel far to reach one and it is rare for people to have to wait for long.  Scenes such as we saw in 2010, when in a few places people turned up to vote late in the evening and found long lines, are exceptional.  And for those who are housebound or for some other reason find it inconvenient to turn up on the day, it is a simple and straightforward matter to arrange a postal vote.  In all the places I have lived in the UK I have never found myself more than a 15-20 minute walk from my local polling station, and have never had to wait for more than a few minutes to collect a ballot paper.

    To illustrate the point: elections have always been on a Thursday and voting has never been compulsory, but the turnout figures of between 59% and 66% since 2001 are untypically low compared with those for general elections in the second half of the 20th century.  In 1950 the average turnout for the UK as a whole was almost 84%, and only a little lower in the election held the following year.  The lowest figure for the 1950s  was 78.7%.  For the general elections held during the following four decades the turnout ranged between 72% and 79%.

    There seems then to have been a far greater sense of engagement with the whole process then – an engagement which has rapidly diminished in recent years, particularly, it seems, among younger potential voters.  I can understand the sense of disenchantment with the establishment as it is: the politicians who are supposed to represent us seem increasingly remote and authoritarian,  encased and insulated in a little Westminster bubble, all parroting the party line and hearing only what they want to hear.  No more rowdy, open public meetings; hecklers and vocal dissidents who infiltrate themselves among the party faithful in the carefully orchestrated and managed events which do take place will be forcibly removed, and when high-profile candidates do venture out, they will be protected as far as possible from potentially embarrassing random encounters. And between elections, marchers in protest demonstrations, if the demonstration is too large not  to be ignored completely, are depicted as cranky mobs, to be ‘kettled’ by the police.

    Anecdote coming up:

    The first general election in which I was eligible to vote was in 1964, and I and my contemporaries at university, though by no means politically active, took a close interest and were excited by the prospect of exercising that right.  My flat mate and I solemnly witnessed each other’s postal vote and then set about organising an election night party for all our friends and acquaintances (it turned out that if we had been unscrupulous we could have voted in Edinburgh as well as in our home constituencies, as unknown to us our landlady, whose basement we occupied, had registered us as residents in her household).

    We did not have a television set, but managed to scrounge the use of a flat where there was one, and what a night it was!  We had prepared ample food to sustain us – mainly home-made soup, Bolognese sauce for pasta, and lots of crusty new bread and cheeses; we supplied soft drinks and  a few bottles of wine, and of course most people contributed a bottle or bottles as well.  As the results were announced during the night it was clear it was going to be nail-bitingly close, and to make matters even more memorable, the broadcast was interrupted by two breaking news announcements: Khruschev had been ousted, and China had tested its first nuclear bomb.  Labour ended up with a majority of four seats.

     

     

    #40073
    janetteB @janetteb

    @Purofilion I have to confess I don’t know Anthony Green. Unlike @mudlark I tend to spend election nights hiding from the news until the results are announced to avoid the bitter disappointment. Back in 2007 we spent the evening at the Sister in law’s, after handing out “how to votes” all afternoon, and managed to forget entirely about the election until getting home. I sent my partner into the house and waited on the backdoor step because back then the TV was harder to hide from. He came out with the news and I suspect the entire neighbourhood heard my reaction. We packed the boys into the car and headed straight down to the electorate election night party. I have not been to one since.

    I am glad that your first election was such a joyous occasion @mudlark. The first time I voted, at the Dublin consulate, was also a landslide victory for the ALP and the Irish was remarkably interested in Australia’s new PM though mostly, I suspect, because of a beer drinking feat in his Oxford days.

    Cheers

    Janette

    #40074
    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    I believe British elections are held on a Thursday so theoretically a new Government can be in place for the following Monday and thus not spooking the markets too much. It’s a historical anachronism these days though but personally I don’t think it makes that much of a difference.

    #40075
    janetteB @janetteb

    I’ll back down and slink away then on that one. Must put a downer on election night parties though, (if and when there is reason to celebrate) if everyone has work the next day. 🙂 But I suppose it’s only Friday. Not much work done on a Friday. (or so I’m told.)

    cheers

    Janette

    #40076
    Mudlark @mudlark

    @purofilion  If you do read any of the output of the Daily Mail (aka Daily Wail, Daily Heil, Daily Hate) I hope that you fumigate your eyeballs and seek counselling afterwards.  They seem to want to keep their readers in a constant state of fear and anxiety, and when it comes to things like social services, benefit claimants and the NHS any horror story, however exceptional or anomalous, will be seized on and presented as typical of the whole.

    Where the NHS is concerned, of course it is not and never has been perfect; some doctors are better than others, some GP practices and hospitals are better organised and run than others.  All I can say is that my experience over the past few years, which has been fairly extensive and involved several different specialists, has been uniformly excellent, and so has that of others I know.  At the GP practice where I am registered (and where I live I had the choice among at least half a dozen) it is almost always possible to get a same day appointment, and if the doctor I normally see is not available and the matter is at all urgent, I can see any of the other five doctors in the practice.  And when I do have an appointment I rarely have to wait more than five or ten minutes.  They also do home visits for those who are too sick or infirm to get to the surgery. Referrals to specialists and clinics at the hospital have been prompt, I have rarely had to wait more than a week for an appointment, and when I arrive I am generally seen equally promptly (on one occasion when I had to wait 25 minutes, the doctor in question apologised profusely for the delay). And the nursing staff, though clearly increasingly under stress and run off their feet, have been almost uniformly cheerful, kind, efficient and helpful.  So don’t believe all the propaganda.  The hospital, which is a university teaching hospital, is in financial difficulties, chiefly because the building of it was paid for by PFI, but that is another story.

    #40079
    Arbutus @arbutus

    @janetteb     I must be hopelessly optimistic, because I always enjoy election night returns. Especially now in the internet age, when my husband and I can look at interactive maps on our devices and follow the results from ridings of particular interest. Sadly, I have not had reason to celebrate a result either federally or provincially in a long, long time!

    Oddly enough (for me), my first voting experience was a federal election in which I voted Conservative. The Prime Minister at the time was the thoughtful and gentlemanly Joe Clark, who was what was then known as a “red Tory”, and prior to his holding power, the Liberals had been in control long enough to have become rather cynical and unlovely in their behaviour. Mr. Clark led a minority government that didn’t last long, but I rather liked him. It remains the only time I have ever supported the right wing, but I have voted all over the left side of the spectrum since then. I enjoy shocking my friends with that fun fact!

    #40134
    ichabod @ichabod

    @IAurellie  Confusing isn’t the half of it!  I’m constantly being surprised to find

    new posts and conversations here (like this one, to me) that don’t show up (?)

    under the link “recent activity” — weird.  And how’d I get stuck here with double

    spacing all of a sudden?  ???!!!!

    Thought this was interesting– what else will the political split between England & Scotland bring?  Hope this link works . . .

    http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-32736153

     

    #40210
    Anonymous @

    Following @scaryb ‘s lead and popping in to say hi.

    Erm, “Hi”

    Apologies for my recent absenteeism caused by post-election blues and I’ve also been doing a fair bit of studying and voluntary work which leads nicely to this comment in a recent post by @jimthefish

    there’s lots of scarily talented and accomplished people on this site, from musicians to scientists to writers

    Can I add to that list – Horticulturists 😀

    It’s perhaps a bit premature to say but I’ve got my Horticulture Diploma. Well, sort of. There’s still 8 weeks and 3 assessments to go but as I’ve already got the required amount of points for a pass , even if I make a monumental cock-up of the remaining assessments there’s no way I can fail.

    Whilst I’m chuffed to bits, the downside is that I’ll soon be bidding farewell to Birmingham Botanical Gardens which has been like a second home to me over the past 12 months. I’m really going to miss the place and strongly suspect there may be moist eyes on the last day 🙁

    Right, I’m off to do some more revising on garden pests. Not the cute, fluffy sort like rabbits and mice but some rather freaky looking creepy crawlies 😮

    Take care folks 🙂

    #40213
    Anonymous @

    @fatmaninabox

    it’s not premature at all!! Congratu-almost-ations!  (sounded better as a song)

    Yes, your discussion of exploits (mudsploits? mudplots?) in your botanical garden has sounded magnificent and I can well imagine it would be something to miss. Also, your colleagues?

    So ….a drink with an olive perhaps? Or a juicy cocktail with mango, orange, lime, paw paw, raspberry & grapefruit? My mouth is watering! So…iced  water with peppermint or maybe camomile tea with lemon if it’s particularly chilly? Actually you could recommend an appropriate fruit tea for me and in return I’ll order you a chardonnay with a hint of oak (a chard as we Ozzies say) or a pint instead 🙂

    Well  done Mr Horticulturalist. I must find a song…..d q d..q..

    Kindest, puro.

     

    #40214
    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @fatmaninabox — congratulations and it was definitely remiss of me not mention the botanically inclined in that post. Well done. Now we know who to turn to keep those Krynoids at bay….

    #40215
    janetteB @janetteb

    Congrat’s @fatmaninabox I hope the creepy crawlies don’t turn into Creepy Crawlies of Unusual Size. 🙂

    Cheers

    Janette

    #40216
    11xianguo @11xianguo

    https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CJHLYXM
    Please complete this survey, as i need people to complete for the completion of my GCSE media work about doctor who.
    I beg you to complete this thank you 🙂

    #40218

    @fatmaninabox

    *applause*

    #40227
    Mudlark @mudlark

    @fatmaninabox  May I add my congratulations and a  toast to your future career!

    And when it comes to combatting things like post-election depression, there is nothing so therapeutic as gardening and the cultivation of plants – or so I find, at least!

    #40266
    Anonymous @

    @Purofilion @jimthefish @janetteb @pedant @mudlark and @scaryb (via Twitter) – thanks.

    Mudlark, yep – very therapeutic. As well as the training course, I do 1 day a week volunteering in the gardens at a local Edwardian Mansion. The area I’m currently working on was once used by  BBC’s “Gardeners’ World” but, since they’ve gone to pastures new, it’s become unloved and overgrown. I’ve recently finished clearing out all the nettles and was so relaxed that I was oblivious to scores of stings covering my arms!

    Yesterday’s creepy crawlie test was cancelled. Our tutor said it was because he couldn’t find enough pests but we suspect the real reason was because it was too nice a day to be stuck indoors.

    Instead we spent the day out by the bandstand planting over 1000 Cosmos ‘sonata’, Ornamental Millet and Hibiscus ‘mahogany’. Got myself a lovely sun-tan too 😎

    This photo was tweeted by the Botanical Gardens yesterday afternoon. It’s difficult to tell due to the distance but I think the chap lurking by the bandstand is one of my fellow students!

    #40267
    janetteB @janetteb

    @fatmaninabox that is so beautiful. I am envious. That lawn is so lush and fascinating variety of trees. A fine example of “nature and artifice in perfect harmony”.

    cheers

    Janette

    #40268
    Whisht @whisht

    @fatmaninagardenboxcongratulations!!!!!
    so sorry I’m late in wishing this but, y’know, it doesn’t hurt being told again that its great that this has all worked out brilliantly!

    So – a couple of “plant related songs” which in itself, could become a series (??!??!)

    ;¬)

    first, lets remember that things die in order to make other things live, the endless cycle and all that.
    Also – some kids smoke stuff that really they shouldn’t {cough} and that ends up with…. erm…. y’know…. hey look, purple clouds…. cool.

    {cough}

    And here’s another that popped up on the search of my hardrive for plant-related-things

    No idea if same topic.

    #40292
    Arbutus @arbutus

    @fatmaninabox

    Congratulations, Horticulturist! I smiled when you referred to “cute, fluffy garden pests”. In my garden, the pests are rarely that… although, I guess squirrels count, and since they ate up every one of my grapes last fall before I could get them harvested, that’s not just a pest but a Public Enemy. But Public Enemy Number One are definitely the ants, and their nasty little herds that they keep putting on my lemon tree. I wage a napalm-the-jungle style war on them every summer after I bring the tree outside, they are vile. My mother, who lives on the edge of the prairie, counts the deer as her Public Enemy Number One.

    But your botanical garden looks lovely and I can see why you will miss it. What an uplifting place to spend your time.

    #40293
    Arbutus @arbutus

    And to all the congenial hangers on of the Cloven Hoof, I had to share this: Now, that’s a pub.  🙂

    #40296
    Anonymous @

    @arbutus @fatmaninabox

    Oh, that pub! I thought it was life size at first (? eyes?)  but it’s perfectly small and lovely. What a nice chap, too.

    Ah, those ants. I also wage war but inside. In Oz, they come streaming in. I used to have friends who simply allowed great waves of them to surf in and eat the sugar, play in the flour and then wander around the sink. Her kid’s beds also had a few…

    I bring in a major pest controller every year to kill ’em off. The green ants, which provide a nasty sting are the worst and can require injections for the pain. After 10 years, I finally managed to get rid of them and we can walk bare foot around the garden. So, I get where you’re coming from. And you have grape vines? Delicious. I have to go to the store!

    #40299
    lisa @lisa

    @purofilion @arbutus @fatmaninabox Where I live we are along a green belt that
    meanders down from the foothills right thru town so we get all kinds of critters. Love
    the deer that are blocked by big panel of chain link fence and it also keeps out howling
    coyotes but not raccoons or snakes like rattlers so I have to be extra alert this time of
    year. But I do love having a garden too and I spend a lot of time “playing” around in it.
    I even have a special place to sit with my lap top while I take a break from sniping and
    other gardeny stuff I check out online garden sites 🙂 and lots of other stuff like this
    great forum! Here is some great garden eye candy for you from the 2015 Chelsea garden show

    http://www.gardenersworld.com/galleries/gallery/chelsea-2015-show-gardens/3619.html

    #40302
    Anonymous @

    @fatmaninabox

    @lisa that’s one beautiful picture to look at with my morning cup of Earl Grey. Thank you!

    Fancy being able to doodle on the lap top sitting in a garden where you might get a glimpse of deer. That’s magical. I notice you said “rattlers” but I’m going to ignore that 😉

    In Canberra, during the September break, we have a garden festival – simply outstanding. Out come all the poppies, tulips and bewitching annuals.

    Now in Winter, I’ve just put down the annuals (about a month late as it’s been far too humid) which will bloom thru the next 5-6 months-and the veges will start providing some wholesome additives to the Winter salads. The soil, gardens, fresh grass and simply the scent of all that goodness (don’t forget the fertiliser!) makes for a better life, don’t you think? I always encourage friends, even those living in small apartments, to cultivate something small: herbs, orchids, pots of colour; anything to remove us from the feel of sterile offices, the rush of city life.

    Years ago, staying with friends in Hollywood (he was a Czech immigrant then corporate lawyer), we’d sit in the pool and gape at the wildlife that popped out of the Canyon: deer, squirrels (I think they were squirrelly things!), giant lizards, coyotes and enormous birds. The lady would feed everyone. In her outside kitchen, she fed the peacocks (I think those were brought in!) and every living thing.

    She was a cat person too and spoke about the ‘cat condos’ her husband had built and carpeted (I’d never heard the word condominium before -and certainly not for cats).

    #40307
    janetteB @janetteb

    @lisa Could I please read out your description at this weeks writing group? Our homework prompt was “chain link fence” which confused all; of us as it is clearly not an Australian term. After some research was done we discovered that it referred to what we know of as “wire mesh fencing.” Your description of your garden is lovely and I was quite envious. My garden is a disaster at the moment. I lost a tree over summer and another rose bush. We are heading into a hot and dry phase, (El NIno) which means next summer is going to be far more challenging. Somehow the heat does not seem to have an adverse affect upon the weeds though especially this horror. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipomoea_nil Which would take over the entire property if  I was not eternally vigilant.

    When we were in Sweden we had deer running along the street and occasionally roaming into the garden. Our bedroom window looked out over a few garden fences to the forest. A moose ran across the road in front of the car one morning on the way to school and there were red squirrels in the gardens. The suburbs of Stockholm were cut through by ribbons of forest so the wildlife was literally on our doorstep. People would cross country ski to work and the boys could toboggan on a hill at the end of the street.

    The house we lived in had only just became a rental and the owners were clearly keen gardeners. When the snows melted the earth burst with life. Through spring we had a display of crocuses then tulips, snowdrops and other stunning flowers never to be seen in Oz. In summer we found there were raspberries and lingonberries growing in the  back garden. It was quite a shock to return to S.A. mid drought after a year there.

    Cheers

    Janette

    #40308
    Arbutus @arbutus

    @janetteb    Why oh why is it that no matter how horrible the weather, and how detrimental it is to everything we are trying to grow, it never stops the weeds? The nightmarish morning glory is rampant in my neighbourhood too, and grows up over everything the minute my back is turned. Queen Anne’s Lace is another one that shoots up in every available corner. But we keep up the fight!  🙂

    #40310
    janetteB @janetteb

    @arbutus so Morning Glory grows in all climates. It is more evil than I realised!! I had not encountered it until I moved here and let it go when we first moved in because the flowers were colourful and it covered the galv’ fences of which I have a near pathological hatred. When we returned from Sweden it had reached the back door. I waged war on it over that winter and thought I had won but every summer it attempts to take over again. It is going mad right now and flaunting itself at me whenever i look out of the window.

    cheers

    Janette.

     

    #40311
    Mudlark @mudlark

    @fatmaninabox   Lovely photo of the Botanical Gardens.  I lived in Brum for a couple of years in the 1970s, but have no recollection of ever visiting them – which is odd, because my flat was little more than a mile away.  I have clear memories of visits to the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh and Belfast when I lived in those cities, so maybe it is just a case of blocking memories of Birmingham in general (I wasn’t very happy in my post in the museum there and abandoned it as soon as I could for a job directing an excavation, which was less well paid but much more satisfying).

    I spent Friday afternoon on my hands and knees in my mini-shrubbery, grubbing out Mock Strawberry plants (Duchesnea Indica).  I don’t know where they came from – I certainly did not invite them in – but they must have established themselves by stealth in the last year or two and had started to overwhelm the Brunnera Macrophyla and the alpine strawberries.  It’s amazing how much work is involved in maintaining that ‘wild’ look in a garden!  As for pests, my weeding was interrupted at regular intervals to dispose of lurking slugs and snails, because where those are concerned I take no prisoners.  The same applies to lily beetles, but most other creepy-crawlies seem to be sorted out by the birds, beneficial insects and other wild life visitors.

    @lisa  Thanks for the images from the Chelsea Flower Show;  I spent my evenings last week bingeing on the BBC coverage of the same.  There is an element of fantasy in those gardens, in that few of them could ever be maintained at that level of perfection, but one can always gaze upon them and dream 🙂

    @arbutus  @janetteb.   It seems strange to think of Morning Glory as a weed, although what you refer to by that name may not be the same as the cultivar which I grow (Ipomoea Tricolor) which, in Britain at least, is a showy half hardy annual and no bother at all.  It dies back in late autumn and the remains are easily disposed of.

    #40312
    lisa @lisa

    @Janette It was the previous owner that chose the chain link fence which is about 6 feet high
    for the back area so that there isn’t any obstructed view of the fields and trees which are blooming
    now in shades of purple, yellow and white and is quite something. We also get to see a bike riding
    path in the distance so it has a lot going on back there. The rest of the fencing all down
    the sides is wood that can hardly be seen anymore cause of all the vines but the back chain fence is
    kept totally clear so we get the view. One of the vines I have is also that perennial blue flowering
    morning glory in one of the few sunnier spots left in the yard. I sort of really like it! 🙂 I have a
    lemon tree in front of it plus lavender, lambs ears and ground plumbago (which has the same color
    flower as the morning glory) all planted underneath and the shades of yellow and grey and blue its pretty.
    It looks very Mediterranean in that spot. If you were in the area I’d share plants with you for sure!
    @mudlark I loved the decadence of the show gardens too and I am astounded at the quality of the plants
    and the creativity! There is such a great culture of gardening in the UK. Love Monty Don 🙂 glad
    gardening world is on YT!

    #40314
    todeledo @todeledo

    It’s possible that in a warmer contry Morning Glory  could become a weed. Beacause the plant would not freeze during the autumn. My garden is quite green right now, few flowers to speek of but a lot of leeves, grass and trees. Mostly fir and birch plus some purpule tulips, orange and blue flowers. I live in the suburbs so the trees are not really in my garden but the start of the forest and a nature reserve. Which was magnificent when the anemones bloomed. The valley was covered in them and the hardwoods gave everything a green shade if the sun shone. I realy love the spring and autumns here.

    #40317
    Arbutus @arbutus

    @mudlark   @todeledo

    I guess “invasive species” would be a more correct term. It does die back in the winter even when it doesn’t freeze, but it comes back and spreads massively in both wet and dry weather. And the one that has taken over where I live (in Vancouver, Canada) is a white flowered one that isn’t especially pretty, and if you dare go away for a few weeks in summer the things are strangling your whole garden by the time you get back! I live in a neighbourhood with a fair number of rental properties, so not all of the gardens are weeded regularly, so it’s impossible to eradicate. I just have to keep ripping it out when I find it, and in the summer when things are green, it’s easy to miss it growing up in the midst of the other plants.

    @lisa   Your garden sounds wonderful. I have a south facing yard that gets very hot and dry in the summer, so I go for a lot of Mediterranean climate things as well. Some of them have to come inside for the winter, though. I have a lemon tree in a pot, that as I mentioned above I fight the ants off of. Also one grapevine (I made grape jelly two years ago, very fun), a small fig tree, and an olive tree that produces a lot of olives that never really get ripe. I like to pretend I live in Italy. Ciao, bella!

    #40329
    Mudlark @mudlark

    @arbutus  @todeledo    The Morning Glory which is most widely grown here has large, bright blue flowers which last for only one day and is an annual, so only lives for one season even if there is no frost to finish it off.  There are related species, also known as Morning Glory, which are short-lived perennials, but none of them are fully hardy.  Your problem plant, Arbutus, sounds much like Bindweed (calystegia sepium) which grows wild in hedges and wasteland here and is a horribly vigorous, fast growing and invasive perennial, very difficult to eradicate once it gets into a garden.

    #40333
    lisa @lisa

    @mudlark @arbutus @todeledo It sounds also to me to be the moonflower or bindweed?
    They and also the morning glories are all from the same plant family as potatoes.
    Not to be confused with Datura (Angels trumpets) which also can look very much the same and is also
    sometimes called moonflowers. Although all of them are part of the nightshade family so you should
    maybe wear gloves if there is a lot to weed out.

    #40378
    lisa @lisa

    @arbutus @ichabod the link to Ajahn Brahm (he has several sites all over yt)
    here is a very short 1 wisdom power versus willpower – he has something to
    say about everything and you tell how much he likes being ‘what he does’ 😉

    #40382
    ichabod @ichabod

    @lisa  Thanks for the link, above; I looked a bit deeper, and found that this man did in fact go and study Buddhism in situ pretty extensively, so I wouldn’t lump him in with the California-style New Age dabblers and cherry-pickers who emerged from the hippie movement in the US to become “spiritual leaders” by peddling pared down and cobbled up versions of this or that “exotic” spiritual tradition.  Reading on, however, I note that he then seems to have “revived” a previously long extinguished branch (?) of Buddhism and made that the basis of the influential position he seems to have attained in Australia, despite having been written out of the lineage of his Thai school and not being accepted as a teacher of an authentic tradition by the folks he’d done his studying with or their students.

    This behavior — creating a “new” but “authentic” version of the source tradition, packaging it and selling it on under your own authority as the real deal and making a successful career this way — falls right into the US tradition of religious con artists making up their own stuff so they can be “authorities” with the dignity (and the income, I assume) of an established spiritual leader along the lines of the Tibetan rinpoches who come through the US on teaching and fund raising tours.  Whether he’s cherry-picked legitimate Buddhist content or not I wouldn’t know, since I’m no Buddhist scholar myself, and the same goes for evaluating the positive and useful weight of what he’s teaching, but personally, I do think I recognize the pattern of what he’s done, and I’d stay well clear of him, myself.  People who do this have, I think, a tendency to succeed because they do in fact cherry pick — in order to sell us a more comfortable version of an exotic tradition, one carefully cut to suit Western tastes.  Which is probably something that could be said as well of Reform Judaism and some breakaway styles of Christianity as well, so . . . ?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajahn_Brahm

    #40383
    lisa @lisa

    @ichabod Yeah- I got curious a long time ago about him when I came across an interesting vid
    (although I have no memory what vid) but I googled him then too. I found out quite a lot about
    his popular status down under and throughout southeast Asia. He’s done some books and 1 google
    talk that’s also on YT but I only have seen a few vids although none in a long while. So some of
    his anecdotes he told were interesting little stories with good humor. He is also very affirmative
    action and pro equal rights and gender equality and other very liberal attitudes. But I do get that
    a lot of what he says is just basic psychology. Also I remember that he used to be a high school
    teacher and said that would make anyone want to leave the world so he became a monk.
    However I’m definitely not any follower of his or any traditions. But I do appreciate good story
    tellers.

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