Monday, 30 April 2012

A Rip Van Winkle Weekend

I know that I promised to be delivering my verdict on the UKIP candidate's efforts to win my vote today but that has to be postponed until Wednesday now.  I have spent most of the weekend in a state of unconsciousness for no other reason than I have been overcome with the kind of tiredness that a bear suffers from every winter.  This should not come as a surprise to anyone who suffers from depression, almost universally seen as the common cold of mental health conditions but probably the most widespread.  Every so often, I go into a period of utter psychic drain that leads me to fall asleep at the drop of a hat.  I have even fallen asleep in group therapy on occasion which is both embarrassing and restful for me and a source of annoyance to the therapist and my fellow group members.  This has actually led to me getting an ultimatum of sorts from the therapist who has threatened me with getting kicked out of the group.  A strange thing to get from someone who should understand mental health problems and how they affect the person who suffers from them. Oh well.

The whole point of mentioning my Rip Van Winkle weekend is, in some way, trying to explain why I am behind on a lot of the things I am supposed to be doing.  I posted my 'To Do' list a while ago and I am probably disappointing some people with my lack of progress in certain things.  This is probably a reasonable state of affairs.  The problem I am having at the moment is that I have been very busy lately with trying to write the proposal for a new mental health service user involvement project and with meetings and appointments so I have not really had the time I needed to do the rest of the stuff I have needed to get on with.  The rest of the time I have succumbed to my Rip Van Winkle Syndrome and been unable to keep my eyes open for longer than a few minutes.  I am working my way through my list of things to do but it may take some time when I have been able to build up my psychic reserves enough to stay awake.

I will return on Wednesday with the next part of my local election running commentary as I am in an all day training session tomorrow and will not be near a computer to write my blog.

Until next time...

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Valen’s Handy-Dandy Local Election Rating Scale(TM) - Grays Riverside Local Election Running Commentary part 4

Not only has the race for the Grays Riverside Ward seat on Thurrock Council hotted up, it has produced, as a sidebar, my new trademarked election rating scale, VHDLERS.  The acronym may not be the best but it does mean I have less to type.  I have rated the first three of the five candidates based on the VHDLERS elements and the results are below with the explanation of the scoring system.
The UKIP candidate left some literature in my letterbox yesterday so I have only had the chance to look at it with a cursory glance and the Liberal Democrat candidate has not even bothered to send any literature at all.  For these reasons, the UKIP and Liberal Democrat candidates are to be covered in the next chapter of this running commentary.
The Rating Elements And How They Are Scored
There are ten elements upon which a candidate is being scored with an eleventh ‘bonus’ element that a candidate may earn extra points.  Rather than go into a deep discussion of the elements, I will give you a bullet pointed list with the most salient details.
·         Eagerness
o   This is a measure of how quickly the candidate made contact on a sliding scale of 0 (I only put my name down for a laugh) to 5 (extremely eager/first one to enter the race)
·         Engagement
o   This is a measure of the length of time spent explaining why they should be elected:
§  5 = protracted face-to-face contact
§  4 = long face-to-face contact
§  3 = reasonable length face-to-face contact
§  2 = short face-to-face contact
§  1 = literature posted through letterbox only
§  0 = no show
·         Local focussed?
o   This is a measure of how focussed the engagement was on local issues on a sliding scale of 0 (national focus only) to 3 (very locally focussed)
·         Information
o   This is a measure of how detailed the information given was in order for an informed decision could be made on a sliding scale of 0 (details? what do you mean?) to 3 (extremely detailed)
·         Blame Game
o   This is a measure of how much blame a candidate assigns to the other parties on a sliding scale from 0 (it’s all their fault!) to 3 (I’m not going to assign blame)
·         Passion
o   This is a measure of how passionately the candidate sold themselves through their use of language and powers of persuasion on a sliding scale of 0 (could not give a toss) to 3 (extremely passionate)
·         Willingness To Work Together
o   This is a measure of a candidate’s willingness to forget partisan differences in order to work together in the common good on a sliding scale of 0 (work with them? You are kidding! / N/A) to 3 (extremely willing)
·         Presentation
o   This is a measure of how well presented the candidate’s case for being elected was on a sliding scale of 0 (non-existent) to 5 (excellent).
o   This measure is split into separate scores for face-to-face contact and literature.  If more than on leaflet was left, each leaflet was given a score with an average score derived from the combined total divided by the number of leaflets.
·         Fear mongering
o   This is a measure of how much fear was produced or the victimisation of certain groups in society (except political groups) on a sliding scale of 0 (extreme) to 3 (none)
·         Exactly how will you ensure your pledges will be enacted?
o   This is a measure of how clearly the candidate shows how the pledges they make will be achieved on a sliding scale from 0 (lack of clear proposals) to 3 (extremely clear proposals)
·         Extra points are awarded for the use of certain key words or phrases.  I’m not, however, going to tell you what they are in case any candidates are reading this and want to have another go.
The Candidates and Where They Stand
Below is a table of the scores each candidate received.  I have not, however, identified the names of the candidates but simply used their party affiliation as there really is no reason to pour scorn on the candidates until they are elected.

Party à
Ratings â
(3 leaflets left)
(1 leaflet left)
(2 leaflets left)
Local focussed?
3/2/(2) [2.5]
2/1/(3) [1.5]
Blame Game
3/0 [1.5]
2/1/(2) [1.5]
Willingness To Work Together
0/0/(1) [0]
3/2/(3) [2.5]
Fear mongering
0/0/(1) [0]
Exactly how will you ensure your pledges will be enacted?
0/0/(1) [0]
Bonus Points

Total Score

Please note: Examples using the format above for the numbers in brackets are listed below so you can see why the score was assigned.
·         (2) – the score for a leaflet that is about the party and not the candidate and was, therefore, removed from the candidate’s score.
·         [2.5] – the score in square brackets is based on the average score if more than one leaflet was left.
In a way, it was a shame that the Conservative candidate left his party’s manifesto as that scuppered his score but I could not in all good conscience allow the points earned by the party manifesto as it was not ‘selling’ him but the party.
I shall be waiting for the Liberal Democrat candidate with baited breath this weekend and will post the scores for the UKIP candidate on Monday.
Until next time…

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Race Hots Up – Grays Riverside Election Running Commentary part 3

In the last few days, the campaign has truly begun to represent Grays Riverside Ward on Thurrock Council. 
The Conservatives were the first of the main parties to find their voice although there was not the banter on the doorstep that I was hoping for.  The Tory candidate must have knocked with a sponge or did not knock at all, merely slipped two campaign leaflets through the letterbox with a hastily scribbled note on one of them saying ‘sorry we missed you’ or some such note.  I have not had the time for a detailed look but the leaflets did seem to be the same old blame-assigning crap we are used to getting from the main parties.  They did seem to have realised their error though as, later that same day, a copy of the Conservative Manifesto for Thurrock was slipped through the letterbox.  Slightly better in tone, the introduction seemed to have taken on board what I have put in my Your Thurrock column, namely ‘stop all the blame game and work together’ but it was only a small glimpse.  I will give a good hard look at all the Conservative literature and give my opinion on it later this week.
Labour finally threw their hat into the ring on Monday with a single leaflet which, again, I have not had time to digest or even have a slight glance at, having been busy in meetings and appointments the last three days.  I am, however, in the very awkward position of personally knowing the Labour candidate from my role as Community Co-opted Governor at the local adult college; he was, for most of my tenure, the Chair of the Board of Governors.  I will, however, give his information the same level of due attention and make my comments later in the week, in a totally unbiased way.
Until next time…

Calling All Angels (first draft)

The following poem/song is dedicated to my friends from the Facebook group ' Adorabelle Riding 4 Her Puppy Mill Friends' and the other Facebook friends who supported me when Merlin, my cat, was ill.  It's listed as a first draft because when I don't write the music and there may be a need to change the words a bit to fit the music.  I hope everyone likes it!

Calling All Angels
When I was in darkness
And falling into despair
I reached out to you
For I knew you’d be there
For people in pain like me
Because I know that you care.

Calling all angels
Thanks from the bottom of my heart
I hope that you realise
Of my life you’re a significant part
And if you ever need me
I’ll be there right from the start.

Throughout our lives we’ll be there
In good times and in bad
Sharing all of our problems
And the kind of day we’ve just had
Without anyone to judge us
Or think that we’re mad.

Calling all angels
Thanks from the bottom of my heart
I hope that you realise
Of my life you’re a significant part
And if you ever need me
I’ll be there right from the start.

© Valen (Myles Cook), 23/04/2012

Thursday, 19 April 2012

For your information...

The following table detailing the results of the 2010 General Election results for Thurrock and South Basildon & East Thurrock is for your information.  Keep it handy because you'll need it to hand for my next Your Thurrock blog!

Total Electorate of 77,667
Voter Turnout of 45,822 (59% *)
No. of votes
% of turnout
% of total electorate
Jackie Doyle-Price
Carl Morris
Lib Dem
Carys Davis
10.7 *
Emma Colgate
7.9 *
4.7 *
Clive Broad
7.4 *
4.4 *
Christian Peoples
Arinola Araba
0.6 *
0.3 *
Con gain from Lab by majority of

South Basildon & East Thurrock
Total Electorate of 71,819
Voter Turnout of 44,735 (62.3% *)
No. of votes
% of turnout
% of total electorate
Stephen Metcalfe
43.9 *
Angela Evans Smith
31.0 *
19.3 *
Lib Dem
Geoff Williams
13.4 *
Kerry Smith
5.9 *
3.7 *
Chris Roberts
5.6 *
None of the Above X
0.3 *
0.2 *
Con hold by majority of

* figures rounded up.