From the monthly archives:

June 2013

Robin Hood Tax: Will the Lib Dems do the right thing?

June 18, 2013

Chris Leslie, the shadow Treasury minister, will table an amendment today against the George Osborne led UK government challenge in the European court of justice against the EU proposal for a Financial Transaction Tax (Robin Hood Tax). This tax could involve a 0.01% levy on non retail banking transactions such as bond and share transactions […]

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Universities: The Old School Tie and Misplaced Elitism

June 17, 2013

A report by the government’s social mobility commission led by Alan Milburn has warned that the proportion of state-educated pupils attending Russell Group universities has declined since 2002. Once of the main themes of the report is that our most academically selective universities are becoming less socially representative, and have “a long way to go” […]

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The Album Collection #11: 2013, Iron and Wine, Ghost On Ghost

June 16, 2013

Firstly, like a Virgin trains announcer, I’d like to apologise for the late arrival of this review.  It has been my turn to review an album for a couple of weeks now.  The reason for the delay has been that I knew I wanted to review this album, but my feelings about it have swung […]

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#708: 2012, Django Django, Skies Over Cairo

June 16, 2013

If I say so myself, I, Ray North, am about to impress you – yep, using one musical stone, I am about to kill three proverbial birds. Here I go. Bird One: I think I mentioned a few weeks ago, that we are currently in the midst of George East’s pre-nuptial celebrations, a sort of […]

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Week 24: Hero – Edward Snowden

June 16, 2013

Our Hero this week is the American Whistleblower Edward Snowden. Edward Snowden is our hero because he has done the world a tremendous service. Clearly a flamboyant man, perhaps, I suspect, someone with an eye firmly upon his own notoriety and place in history, he has, nevertheless blown the whistle on one of the most […]

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UKIP targets #1: Boston and Skegness

June 16, 2013

May’s county council elections showed that England now has a four party system, with UKIP making a significant breakthrough.  And yet, it will still be a challenge for them to win their first seat in Parliament.  This is the first in a series looking at where there opportunities might lie, and where their support may […]

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Week 24: Villain – Recep Erdogan

June 16, 2013

This week the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has earned our Villain of the Week award for the suppression of peaceful demonstration in Istanbul Recep Erdogan ought to have his finger on the political pulse of Turkey’s largest city: he has, after all, successfully managed to win outright majorities in three general elections […]

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Week 24: Prat – David Warner

June 16, 2013

This week’s Prat of the Week award goes to Australian opening batsman David Warner for punching England batsman Joe Root in a Birmingham pub. The Ashes are looming. One of the greatest sporting rivalries is about to embark on a double header Ashes series in England this summer and in Australia this winter, and for […]

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#707: 1959, Duane Eddy, Peter Gunn

June 14, 2013

After a work-enforced absence of a couple of a days (for which I can only apologise), Songs To Learn and Sing’s instrumental week is back and on day 5 of 7.     This is going to be a little bit rambly…. On Tuesday night, Ray North, Jackie South and I went to see Neil Young and […]

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Question Time: Pub Bore Politics

June 14, 2013

Last night, BBC Question Time’s audience was made up entirely of 16 and 17 year-olds who will have a vote in next year’s Scottish independence referendum. The level of questioning and interaction from the 16/17 year olds was hugely impressive, and once again highlighted that Scotland’s youth remains politically connected, engaged and articulate. It was […]

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Nick Griffin: Not welcomed in Wales, Syria or anywhere else.

June 13, 2013

Perhaps the thrust of this sentence I’m about to write is a bit iffy, a bit illiberal, anti-free-speech, I don’t know, but, I wish that Nick Griffin would fuck off and stop living in Wales. There I’ve said it. And this week, the antics of the biggest clown in British politics has made me feel […]

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Sportsnight #12: 1977-1992, John McEnroe

June 12, 2013

Good evening and welcome to Sportsnight. Tonight’s action comes from Wimbledon, Roland Garros, Flushing Meadows, Melbourne Park, and anywhere else with a tennis net and simmering controversy between 1977-1992. As the clay court season finishes and the grass court season (and inevitable shit weather) commences, tonight we take a look back at the one of […]

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Michael Gove fails his own school exam

June 11, 2013

Michael Gove has announced substantial changes to GCSEs, with a new marking scheme and longer essay-style questions. Coursework is to be scrapped, and success and failure will instead be determined by a one off exam. This is just the latest in a series of appalling, too-clever-by-half education measures from Michael Gove. Getting rid of year […]

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Mr East Goes To The Movies 2013: Lore

June 10, 2013

Films set in Germany in the last days and immediate aftermath of the Second World War do not often feature idyllic scenes of a sun dappled but apparently War-untouched parts of Germany.  They are usually very bleak indeed – think of the hell-like ruins of Berlin depicted in Downfall or, for those of you lucky […]

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#706: 1978, Van Halen, Eruption

June 10, 2013

As we continue our new theme week of instrumentals – it is time to get some oomph into the proceedings. I give you Eddie Van Halen’s Eruption. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, “Modern rock guitar playing can be divided into two main periods: B.E. (Before Eruption) and A.E. (After Eruption).” This song changed heavy metal […]

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The Bilderberg Summit: Another Secret Canapé Club for Cameron

June 10, 2013

As David Cameron, George Osborne et al attended the secretive Bilderberg Group Summit at the luxury Grove Hotel in Watford last Friday evening, it has raised more questions about the coalition government’s pledge to lead Britain’s most transparent government. The Bilderberg Group comprises of the fat cat money men, CEO bankers, heads of industry and […]

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#705: 1990, Pixies, Cecilia Ann

June 9, 2013

Here at Songs To Learn and Sing, we have slipped effortlessly from a theme week of songs celebrating gay genius to one, at Bobby West’s request, of instrumentals. The Pixies‘ cover of faux-Sixties surf tune Cecilia Ann was a fantastic opener to their third full album, Bossanova.  The original instrumental was by a band called […]

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Week 23: Prat – Ed Balls

June 9, 2013

This Week’s Prat of the Week Award goes to Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls. A year or so ago, in fact not even a year, about ten months ago, I got quite excited by the Labour Party. True Ed Miliband might have some charisma issues, whilst Ed Balls is kind of weird in a cold way, […]

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Week 23: Villain – David Cameron

June 9, 2013

This Week’s Villain of the Week Award goes to David Cameron for turning the Patrick Mercer/lobbying sleaze story into an excuse to financially compromise the Labour Party by attacking trade union funding mechanisms. Over the past 20 years, whenever there is a lobbying abuse scandal at Westminster, the government immediately announces that they intend to […]

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Week 23: Hero – The Guardian

June 9, 2013

This Week’s Hero of the Week is The Guardian newspaper for its expose of the extent of Government surveillance of on-line communications both in the US and the UK There is a lot of talk in the media world of newspapers being in terminal decline.  The internet era has made us used to being able […]

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#704: 1976, Leo Kottke, Up Tempo

June 8, 2013

I walked into Exeter’s finest second hand vinyl record shop yesterday – the sort of place only students and middle-aged men go – and this was blasting out at full volume.  ‘Who’s that?’, I asked as it finished. ‘Leo Kottke’, the owner behind the desk said, as if I should know the name. ‘Oh’, I […]

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The Big Four: The Golden Era of Tennis

June 8, 2013

Tennis is my favourite sport. I have played it since I was six years of age. I was lucky in that I had a tennis court in the garden, and I grew up playing in local and national tournaments. I have many memories of watching and attending Wimbledon. I grew up within a golden era […]

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The State should be protecting our freedom, not spying on us.

June 7, 2013

So, let me get this right – GCHQ is keeping us safe by collaborating with Google, Facebook and all those other supposedly fun and friendly and helpful and modern organisations to obtain and keep information about all of us. I have to say, that the more I think about this, the more it really pisses […]

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#703: 1962, The Tornados, Telstar

June 5, 2013

This is the last of our week of songs celebrating the progress of the Equal Marriage Bill – and, thus far, it has conjured up some great songs. For our climactic song, I’ve gone for this ubiquitously catchy number by The Tornados. The Tornados were Joe Meek. He was the producer, he wrote the song […]

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Legal Aid Reform Proposals: From Consultation to Destruction

June 5, 2013

Yesterday saw the last day of the Government’s consultation period over its proposed changes to legal aid. I’ve written about this on a few occasions in the last few months. I’m tired of thinking about it. I’m tired of moaning about it. I’m tired of telling my wife that I don’t know if I’ll still […]

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Sportsnight #11: 1997, British and Irish Lions Tour to South Africa, Jim Telfer’s Words of Wisdom

June 5, 2013

Good evening and welcome to Sportsnight. For tonight’s action, we travel to South Africa, on the eve of the first test between the British and Irish Lions v South Africa in 1997. You are going to listen to possibly the finest (and scariest) motivational coaching speeches of all time from Lions coach Jim Telfer. The […]

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Labour: The Tory-Lite Party

June 5, 2013

After this week’s policy announcements from Labour on tax and spending and welfare, we are now beginning to work out Labour’s vision for government. 1. A future Labour government would not reverse the coalition decision to withdraw child benefit from higher rate taxpayers. 2. Labour would accept the current spending plans for 2015-16, to be […]

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#702: 1969, Dusty Springfield, Just A Little Lovin’

June 4, 2013

It’s day 6 of 7 of our theme week celebrating the passage of gay marriage through Parliament.  Another hurdle was cleared today, when the House of Lords defeated a wrecking amendment put down by Lord Dear by 390 votes to 148.  There has been the usual idiocy from Norman Tebbitt and Richard Dannatt, who rather […]

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Labour’s Economic Policy: Ed Balls Shows He Is ‘Very Serious’

June 4, 2013

This is not a compliment, by the way. Ed Balls’ announcements yesterday that Labour would keep within George Osborne’s spending restrictions in its first year in office, if it wins in 2015 and its decision to scrap winter fuel payments for older pensioners, are disastrous in substance and every bit as bad in terms of the raw politics. […]

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The Coalition Anti Sleaze Bill: Dirty Rotten Scoundrel Politics

June 4, 2013

It had to happen. David Cameron and Nick Clegg have decided to insert a last minute clause to clamp down on trade union funding of election campaigns – as part of a new anti-sleaze bill. The new bill will include measures to control in a year prior to the election any spending of third party […]

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