» 2012 » December ¦ What You Can Get Away With

Everyone else is doing it, so why not me? These are the ten posts from 2012 on the blog that got the most individual hits during the last twelve months.

10) Tour de France 2012: Ring my bell – I wrote a daily post about this year’s Tour de France, following Bradley Wiggin’s pursuit of the yellow jersey. For some reason, this was the most popular of them.
9) When is a Lib Dem not a Lib Dem? – An account of a twitter spat with non-Lib Dem Mark Littlewood.
8) You are free to do as we tell you – This one’s still rising up the charts. From Saturday, my reaction to the party’s attempts at a ‘message script’ for campaigners.
7) UKIP may well be beyond satire – Where Nigel Farage appears to believe that ‘modern and serious’ means ‘Christine and Neil Hamilton’.
6) Is there gender bias on Have I Got News For You? – This post, and it’s follow-ups, have been persistently popular, and the work in collecting the figures is one of the things I’m most proud of this year.
5) Boris is wrong. Again. – Boris gets his basic facts on how much power the Shard uses wrongs, and then uses false data as an argument for fracking. For this, he gets paid £250,000 a year by the Telegraph.
4) 2012 Colchester local election results – Pro Tip: Get lots of hits for your blog by putting up local election results as soon as possible. Lots of people will be searching for them.
3) It’s all in the game – On the disconnect between the people and the political class.
2) Monty Python fans block women directors – After the Church of England General Synod blocked women bishops, this piece of satire leapt into my mind.
1) It’s time to end the Coalition – Unsurprisingly, this got a lot of attention. Can’t imagine why.

So, mostly politics, with a bit of TV and a tiny bit of cycling sneaking in at the end. Not a bad summary of my year, really.

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Simon Titley’s got a lot of attention for the Liberator blog by posting the party’s latest ‘message script’ email. Obviously, as a mere councillor, I’m not important enough to have received that email – indeed, I seem to be missing a lot of emails from the party at present, which makes me wonder who I’ve offended – but it’s the sort of email that’s so swamped in marketing speak that I’d have likely just laughed at it and archived. Sentences like “This broadcast is the first full external use of our new Party message script – the product of Ryan Coetzee’s research into what works with our electoral market and also an extensive consultation with many Party stakeholders” sound more like an attempt to win a game of buzzword bingo than real human communication. As Simon says:

What we have here is an object lesson in how politics has been hollowed out and reduced to a matter of managerialism and public relations. It seems no-one at the top of the party has any intellectual grasp of the gravity of the situation. The global economy is in deep crisis and the problem cannot be reduced to facile slogans about “the mess left by Labour”.

It’s also worth noting Simon’s previous post on grassroots campaigning as well, because the link between them shows one of the problems we face as a party. The leadership have missed a simple point about the nature of the party: people don’t join the Liberal Democrats to be told how to think.

That’s not unique to this version of the party leadership, and there have been many times over the years when the leadership have been reduced to wringing their hands as the members assert their right to control the party. However, this isn’t the first attempt to impose central messaging upon members in the last couple of years, and it comes at a time when the leadership are continuing to ignore the membership. It’s the action of a leadership that sees the membership as little more than drones who should do as they’re told. People might join Labour or the Tories because they enjoy being told what to think and do, but that’s not what I believe the Liberal Democrats are about. (And anyone sending out that email to hundreds of party members and not expecting it to leak really doesn’t understand the party).

So no, my New Year’s resolution is not going to be “On Message, In Volume, Over Time” but to keep fighting for a party that’s open and democratic, run by the membership and fighting for liberalism, not one that’s just a hollow vehicle for marketing speak that battles for a vapid conception of the ‘centre ground’.

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Looks like I was wrong last week, as there are some applications this week. Thanks to the admin team for getting these processed and ready.

122266: Demolition of warehouse and erection of electricity sub-station. High Street (part of Williams and Griffin redevelopment)
122267: Conservation area consent for 122266.
122147: Change of use from A3 (food and drink) to A5 (hot food takeaway), Middleborough.
122257: Listed building consent for additional window, Middle Mill Road.

Please note that I am a member of the Council’s Planning Committee for this municipal year. This means that I’m required to act in a ‘quasi-judicial’ manner with regard to applications before the Committee and as such, can’t make comments in favour or against planning applications as I may then have pre-judged them before they come to Committee. I can give advice on planning issues and what to do if you have a comment or objection. However, my ward colleagues Bill Frame and Jo Hayes aren’t members of the Committee, so they’re free to comment as they wish.

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There’s still about 1% of it to go, but now’s the time for writing reviews of the year gone by, however I will not be doing so. (If you really feel the need for one, I suggest you read Love and Garbage‘s).

Sadly, it’s not because I’m saving you entirely from it, but because I don’t want to repeat myself. In about a month’s time, this blog turns ten years old, and so I’m planning to do a series of posts looking back over those ten years, of which this year will be just a part. And now I’ve said that in public, it likely commits me to actually doing it – just like all those other posts that I’ve promised are coming that have yet to appear.

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The ‘scrounger’ myth is causing real suffering to many in society – New research reported by the LSE’s British Politics and Policy blog.
Let’s call it failure – If you haven’t yet seen John Lanchester’s LRB piece on austerity, here’s your chance.
Happy Christmas! Here is a flame war in a can – Charles Stross points out certain similarities between two historical figures.
A Bum’s Christmas – Traditionally borrowed from Blood and Treasure, HL Mencken’s short story.
The 5 Worst Ghosts of 2012 – A sceptical perspective on some of the ‘ghost’ stories that the media have pushed this year.

And as it’s the season, tips on how to avoid drunk drivers:

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Christmas

The joy of automation allows me to post this while I’m asleep. As with previous years, I’ve donated to Shelter instead of sending Christmas cards out, but I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a good time now and into 2013.

And now for the traditional picture of Colchester as it’s not looking right now. If tradition holds like last year, then this will hopefully conjure up weather so nice on Christmas Day it’ll be decent weather to go for a bike ride.

xmas2013

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And so the gender balance spreadsheet is up to date for the last time this year. It was a 30% series – 30% of the guests (including 3 out of 10 of the hosts) were women. The overall figures are now that 23.46% of guests and 22.95% of guest hosts have been women. This series had two shows in which all the guests (and hence, the entire panel) were men – the last time all the guests were women was in 1997. There’s never been a post-Angus show with a female host and two female guests, so every show since the series began has featured a majority of men on the panel.

Of course, as women are only 23% of the population, this is entirely right and correct. Maybe if there were more women – perhaps even if they were a majority of the population – these figures might make people think that something was wrong.

Hold on, I’m just being informed that women actually are a majority of the population. It turns out that TV has lied to me again.

But seriously, compiling these figures has been an interesting exercise. I’d looked through the list of HIGNFY episodes before and noted that it did appear to be particularly full of men, but hadn’t realised just how bad it was. Indeed, it’s actually more likely for Ian to win a show (33%) than for a randomly chosen guest to be a woman and yet only one of those is regularly commented on.

I’ve seen some interesting comments from people on these figures. Various men who’ve seen them have tried to justify them in one way or another, often presenting the bizarre argument that ‘women aren’t funny’ as though that was settled fact. It’s odd then, that I can look back at the female guests for this most recent series and think of funny moments for each of them, while there are several men there who may well have been accompanied by Vic Reeves’ tumbleweed for all the laughs they generated. Note too that any woman saying that she doesn’t find most male comedians funny will often be dismissed as a ‘humourless feminist’ while men are free to dismiss all female comedians.

There’s also the argument that somehow because the pool of journalists, politicians, comedians, actors etc that they draw guests from is male-dominated that HIGNFY can’t help but reflect that. That might be true if they were choosing names randomly from a hat, but the producers get to choose their guests, and the results can be clearly seen on screen. For instance, Alexander Armstrong and Kirsty Young are both very good guest hosts, but why has Armstrong done the job 21 times to Young’s 10? There’ve been 42 episodes hosted by women – just one more than the total hosted by Armstrong, Jack Dee or Jeremy Clarkson.

Claiming that HIGNFY is just reflecting the sexism already present in society isn’t much of a defence in my view. As many commenters have pointed out to me, that just ensures it continues to reflect the sexism of society by regularly showing women a world that they’re not deemed to be part of. An all-male panel on HIGNFY or other series is presented as entirely natural and not worthy of comment, while an all-female panel is presented as something so special that it has to be highlighted in the programme name (Loose Women).

It’s also been suggested that it’d be interesting to see similar figures for the representation of ethnic minorities and people with disabilities on the show. I agree, though I’ll pass that task onto someone else because of the time involved, but if you do gather those stats, I’ll happily link to them here – and the same for any other series too. For instance, see A Very Public Sociologist on Question Time.

Thanks to everyone who’s linked to or commented on the statistics over the last few weeks. I’ll update it again next year when the series starts again, but do feel free to remind me about it around April/May when it starts off again.

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