Hear Here 6: World Radio Day

I’ve discovered February 13th is World Radio Day, and I’d like to celebrate a medium that has been a lifelong friend, an ever present companion, and a source of connection between millions around the world. Radio has certainly shaped and influenced my life from a very young age, so in honour of this, I’d like to share some of my personal radio memories.

My earliest recollection is the sound of music emanating from the family “radiogram”, a wooden piece of furniture standing on four legs, with a built in radio receiver and a record player cabinet.  I distinctly remember hearing Tony Blackburn’s voice and “Arnold” the barking dog on Radio 1, and I’ve loved Tony ever since. Radio Luxembourg a pirate station had a regular bingo broadcast which my mammy listened to? I thought this was a rogue piece of imagination on my part, but my husband (a pirate radio buff himself) assures me this did happen! This would have been around 1971-73 before commercial radio began in the UK.

When the commercial Radio Clyde was born on 31st December 1973 broadcasting to Glasgow and West Central Scotland, my radio experience grew, especially when a tape recorder machine and small microphone were purchased not long after. Before a year had passed, and I still hadn’t started school, I had graduated from being the Hogmanay DJ playing records, to an adept “radio producer” creating tapes of music and chat for a beloved uncle in Australia. Mammy’s record collection was my main source of material, and I practiced hard, because birthday requests for Uncle Harry were sent to Radio Clyde and I was responsible for recording the greetings. Many years were spent listening to Frank Skerritt and Sydney Devine Saturday morning shows, capturing these missives, so the tape could be sent to Australia in time for 11th November. So long before January 1975 when I turned five years old, I was well accustomed to having headphones on, listening to the radio voices and capturing big moments.

Aged around 7 I got my very own radio cassette recorder machine inherited from a work colleague of my Dad’s, as he was upgrading his music system. The radio had a short-wave band, a new encounter, which literally opened up the world for me to explore from my bedroom in a small Scottish village. Turning the dial slowly, different music styles and foreign voices speaking unknown languages would come through between areas of static noise and interference. Then people with beautiful English and the hint of an accent were discovered, and I was introduced to the English language broadcasts from several countries around the world, predominantly Europe. The Cold War between West and East European ideologies was at its height, and so the likes of Radio Moscow and Radio Tirana could easily be picked up loud and proud. I know they had an agenda (who doesn’t if we are honest) but hearing such a different approach to the news was a real eye opener to my younger self. It broadened my mind to other cultures with different ideas, and made me realise that despite the differences, we were all essentially the same.

I recall searching for the American Forces Network broadcasts of baseball matches to service personnel based in Europe. Something about Friday night’s listening to a game springs to mind, even though I didn’t fully understand the terminology of the sport. For over a decade, an hour was spent with Radio Moscow’s English program early on Saturday mornings. Sunday afternoons, before the Top 40 show and after attending my Baptist Sunday School, were spent in the company of Vatican Radio’s Latin Mass. The ultimate blend of Ying & Yang, West verses East, Protestant verses Catholic, and emblematic of my refusal to be stereotyped in any way.

I kept a radio logbook which alas disappeared years ago, but when I met my husband, I delighted in seeing his radio memorabilia instead. He had also been an avid listener as a child/teenager and we discovered a shared love for short-wave radio. Over the years we have bought some very nice SW radios with ever greater range capabilities. To this day, and I’m fifty years old now, I’ve never lost that wondrous thrill I experienced as a seven year old, on hearing something different from an unexpected distant place.

Sadly, especially in the last decade, my SW radio hobby has got harder to sustain. Many SW stations have ceased broadcasting completely, and the internet age seems to have created a nightmare listening scenario, with household Wi-Fi connections causing hideous interference. Living in a ground floor flat probably exacerbates this problem, even though we don’t have an internet home connection ourselves. Before widespread personal internet connectivity and mobile phone use, my handheld SW radios could provide excellent to moderately interfered sound quality, making the listening experience enjoyable. Just switching them on today finds your ears assaulted by white noise that seems almost impenetrable, however hard you try and tune into a station. Going 21stC I’ve discovered a mobile app called Radio Garden that allows you to find radio stations worldwide. This has soothed my aching heart a little, although they are regular broadcast outputs, rather than the distinct programs made for a global audience that SW radio specialised in.

For the last 16 years I’ve been involved in hospital radio and enjoy the freedom to play a wide and varied selection of music. Many of the UK’s domestic radio stations seem to be networked these days, and the music output in particular seems to be quite formulaic as a result. Hospital radio provides a unique environment to communicate with and entertain patients, and the limits are defined by your music collection sources and the presenter’s imagination. In a way, this platform has enabled me to return to my childhood radio roots.

         Celebrating World Radio Day. Image credit abmj

Real News or Fake News?

NEVER would I have believed I’d question the INTEGRITY (if not the message given out) of a news report. Yet within ten minutes of the 11pm Brexit Day deadline (January 31st 2020) that’s EXACTLY what happened to me. Was that news report for real or was it faked? So the date and time not only heralded a moment of political history, but a seismic shift in my thought process, and here’s why.

For years I’ve switched to RT and Aljazeera (I know they have their own agendas) for proper world news coverage, as our own BBC and SKY has had a reduced output in this area, especially since the referendum. But Brexit Day was a domestic event, so I watched SKY for the occasion; a little unsure if the BBC would report anything, shall we say, a bit out of step with the majority. On the TV appeared one of the saddest things I’ve seen-the EU countdown clock super-imposed onto the White Cliffs of Dover! As the zero moment struck, goodbye to Europe written in multi-languages appeared followed by a WE’VE LEFT sign. Effectively the proverbial two-finger salute over the English Channel, which I could not feel proud in seeing.

A similar countdown clock had been super-imposed onto the facade of No.10 as well, followed by an appearance of Big Ben seemingly bonging zero hour, adding insult to injury. Within minutes I began wondering, dig the Big Ben and Dover Cliffs thing REALLY happen, or was it some digital wizardry mixed with subliminal message reporting instead? It seemed an accurate account of what was happening, but my mind hesitated, especially as the events were so surreal it was like a bad dream of someone’s figment of imagination. This was compounded by the revelry documented in various parts of England, and the mournful sombre mood seen in Scotland. Further evidence, if any was needed, of a divided United Kingdom mindset.

I thought of a London based teacher friend who was visiting the North of England on Brexit night. A student of his had accused him of treachery for such an offense, and I wondered if the Morpeth fireworks in north England would appease the young person’s attitude.

As I watched the singing, cheering and flag waving taking place in Parliament Square and beyond, it had a remarkable similarity to the celebration at the end of World War 2. Looking at it, you could say that the Brexit issue has been like a civil war in this country, a war of harsh words, fierce debate, insults, and fallings out. Last night’s victory seems very hollow, because those injured feelings won’t go away lightly, if at all.

I knew Brexit would happen one day; I wasn’t in denial and accepted the referendum result, even if I didn’t like it. I know of people who voted leave, a few I deeply respect, and my respect for them remains.

This morning I just feel incredibly sad, that a political mandate driven to prop up the Conservative Party, has caused such a division in this nations psyche. That as a country we have walked away from a union of nations who in my lifetime have been close allies. But I’m also personally shaken, that the manifestation of that mandate and how it was reported, made me seriously question the validity of the TV evidence in front of my eyes. The realisation of something lost in my faith/trust in the world is very hard to stomach.

Hello Brexit Day Goodbye EU

As I write this on 31st January 2020 there is less than four hours to go until the Brexit deadline of 11pm, heralding the UK withdrawal from the EU. There will follow a “transition year” for the country to negotiate our final terms. I wasn’t going to write anything, but having heard such utter nonsense on the subject today, I’m compelled to do so.

My entire lifetime has had a political European flavour to it, as the UK began negotiations for joining the EEC (as it was) in 1969 and officially became a member on January 1st 1973, three weeks before my third birthday. It’s always been there, and I guess I took it for granted. I’d describe myself as a British Scot, and would tag on the European bit as an afterthought. I’ve described in a previous blog the nationality shame I felt on a visit to Brussels in 2015.

This morning I watched All About Politics with Adam Boulton on SKY News, where Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen was being interviewed. He was in great spirits as he prattled on about regaining our sovereignty, taking control of our courts and borders etc, when asked what the real benefits would be on leaving the EU. All arguments with no real foundation, I think. But I listened incredulous as I heard the MP state “there was a referendum, European elections, an election and ANOTHER referendum” for today.  Really! There was NO SECOND REFERENDUM, or is that the true description for the Boris Johnson General Election? Thinking I must have heard wrongly, Andrew Bridgen then told Adam Boulton that after four votes (I take it for Brexit) the reporter should really get over it and accept once and for all the peoples will. I was stunned. The interview finished with the MP saying he would be celebrating Brexit with wife/friends having dinner in the Carlton Club, a media engagement in Parliament Square followed by drinks at the Cavalry Guards club. If ever there was a prime example of a different mindset/planet many government representatives live in, this was it.

Considering the UK Parliament could call a referendum in the first place, suggests we had our sovereignty all along as EU members. But that irony seems lost on many. The paradox of course is that the EU Withdrawal Bill was rejected by Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, 3 members of the UK. Yet the UK government proceeded regardless of the “normal” consent process because Brexit was so unusual. Of course the individual nations are NOT sovereign as part of the UK, though they have devolved Parliaments.  By ignoring their mandate on the Withdrawal Bill, the Boris Johnson “One Nation Conservatism” government has a whole new meaning.

In the afternoon on a Stoke bus, I overheard some elderly people say “Brexit dragged on so long ‘cause our £350 million a week propped up the bankrupt Spain, Italy, France. So the EU didn’t want us to leave and stopped us. Now the money can go to the NHS like they promised”. This referendum promise, advertised on the side of a bus, was effectively withdrawn the day after the vote. Much of the rhetoric had been based on lies. But still there lurks such a sad delusion on how things will be “now we’ve got our country back”.

It’s not just older people/MPs who think the country is coming back, that we should be proud today to be British. This mantra, peddled on the TV and in many homes, influences the younger generation heavily, as a teacher friend said “they soak it up like a sponge, what they hear/see at home and online. We agreed many don’t seem to question things much at all. In a hour, I’d seen at least three examples of today’s youth displaying the same notions as MP Andrew Bridgen and those elderly bus passengers. That’s ALARMING to say the least.

Every nation in the world is inter-dependant and most exist within some kind of power block that share economic, political and social ideals.  The EU until tonight was the UKs power block, and as world tensions rise, we as a country walk away from it to go alone. Nuts!

So as the clock counts down I will say, Europe I am sorry I took my citizenship of your club for granted. I’m disgusted at the action my nation’s government has taken in withdrawing from it. This was not done in my name. Farewell, but I hope not forever.

Hear Here 5: Elementally Yours Broadcast Three

This is the final IYPT show and this month’s playlist is inspired by the TV program Seven Wonders One Planet by David Attenborough, and chemical elements named after places. Combined together I’m going to travel on a musical odyssey around the globe visiting the seven continents, as well as travelling into outer space, to take in some stellar areas that have helped name elements. With such a heavy itinerary to accomplish, the show took 2 hours and 50 minutes to do. Some historical events, one death and two birthdays influence the song choices too. These are my complete lab book notes.

Angie’s Allsorts Show 233 Hospital Radio Leighton 26th November 2019


1. NEIL DIAMOND with AMERICA (Am-AMERICIUM 95): Continent 1 Americas)

2. TINA TURNER with NUTBUSH CITY LIMITS (Birthday 1939 so 80 today, born Nutbush Tennessee)


4. MAMAS & PAPAS with CALIFORNIA DREAMIN (Cf-CALIFORNIUM 98, Bk-BERKELIUM 97, Lv-LIVERMORIUM 116 after the Lawrence Livermore Lab in California.

5. JOHN DENVER with ALASKA & ME (Continent 2 Arctic)

6. MATT MONRO with FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (Ru-RUTHENIUM 44 from Latin for Russia Rhuthenia; Db-DUBNIUM 105 from Dubna in Russia, Fl-FLEROVIUM 114 for Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions located in Dubna Russia. : Continent 2 Arctic & Continent 3 Europe)


Travel Odyssey Phase One. Image credit abmj

CONNECTION CONUNDRUM (travel down to Baikonur Kazakhstan for launch across the universe)

8. BEATLES with ACROSS THE UNIVERSE (He-HELIUM 2 for Helios Greek for Sun, Se-SELENIUM 34 from Selene Greek for the moon, Pd-PALLADIUM 46 for Pallas an asteroid, Ce-CERIUM 58 for dwarf planet Ceres, Hg-MERCURY 80-the swift Roman God rather than the planet, U-URANIUM 92 for planet Uranus, Np-NEPTUNIUM 93 for Neptune, Pu-PLUTONIUM 94 for dwarf planet Pluto.

9. CILLA BLACK with WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS LOVE (Latin for Earth Tellus gives Te-TELLURIUM 52)

10. NATASHA BEDINGFIELD with SINGLE (Birthday born 1981 so 38 today)

Answer: NOT Both Cilla and all the Beatles hail from Liverpool and shared a manager in Brian Epstein. These two songs were recorded specially as part of a compilation charity album for the World Wildlife Fund WWF. The album was called No One’s Gonna Change Our World and released on December 12th 1969, just in time for Christmas. All the stars which included Rolf Harris, The Hollies, Spike Milligan, The Bee Gees, Lulu, Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky Mick & Titch, Cliff Richard & The Shadows, Bruce Forsyth & Harry Secombe offered their services for free. Composers, Publishers, and Recording companies waived their fees as well, to enable all royalties from record sales benefit the World Wildlife Fund.

Launch: 11. FRANK SINATRA (Fr-FRANCIUM 87, Na-SODIUM 11, K-POTASSIUM 19. Si-SILICON 14, N-NITROGEN 7, At-ASTATINE 85, Ra-RADIUM 88 (other variations) with FLY ME TO THE MOON (Se-SELENIUM 34 for the moon)

Rarity Record of the Week: 12.  JIMI HENDRIX with VALLEYS OF NEPTUNE (Np-NEPTUNIUM 93)

Return: 13. PETER SCHILLING with MAJOR TOM (COMING HOME) (Theme for Deutschland 83 & 86)

(Ge-GERMANIUM 32 from Latin Germania for Germany, Re-RHENIUM 75 Latin Rhenus for the Rhine, Ds-DARMSTADTIUM 110 for Darmstadt where it was discovered, Hs-HASSIUM 108  from Latin Hassius for the Hesse region)

Travel Odyssey Phase Two. Image credit abmj

14. BONNIE TYLER with LOST IN FRANCE (Ga-GALLIUM 31 from the Latin Gallia, Fr-FRANCIUM 87)

15. TONY MARTIN with LAST TIME I SAW PARIS (Lu-LUTETIUM 71 from the Latin name for Paris Lutetia)

16. NATALIE COLE with AS TIME GOES BY (Historical Event: Film Casablanca had its World Premier on this day in New York 1942: Continent 4 Africa)

17. TOMMY DORSEY with NIGHT IN SUDAN (Historical Death Dorsey died 1956)

Linking Lyrics Slot: Theme TUTANKHMUN (Exhibition Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh at Saatchi Gallery London has 150 objects from his tomb on display from this month until May 2020)



20. TOTO with AFRICA (safari in Kenya, visit Victoria Falls, Table Mountain in Cape Town South Africa.

Travel Odyssey Phase Three. Image credit abmj

21. RIMSKY KORSAKOV’S SONG OF INDIA (indirect references: Be-BERYLLIUM 4 from Belur India, In-INDIUM 49 for India: Continent 5 Asia). Note-113 Nihonium is named after Japan-song played in show two.

22. SEEKERS with I AM AUSTRALIAN (Continent 6 Australia)

23. DURAN DURAN with MY ANTARCTICA (Continent 7 Antarctica)

Essential Stopover: Antarctica/South America/Europe:

24. JULIE COVINGTON with DON’T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA (Continent 1 Americas)

25. AMICII with OLYMPIA ETERNAL FLAME (Cu-COPPER 29 for Cyprus, Mg-MAGNESIUM 12 from Magnesia in Thessaly region. Mount Olympus on border area of Thessaly & Macedonia.

Flyover mainland Europe especially Poland (Po-POLONIUM 84) heading for Denmark.

Travel Odyssey Phase 4. Image credit abmj


27. AVICII with SOMEWHERE IN STOCKHOLM (Ho-HOLMIUM 67 from Latin Holmia for Stockholm) NOTE: Not far from Stockholm the village of Ytterby has named four elements: Y-YTTRIUM 39, Tb-TERBIUM 65, Er-ERBIUM 68, Yb-YTTERBIUM 70,. Six other rare-earth elements were discovered in the village Sc-SCANDIUM 21, Gd-GADOLINIUM 64, Dy-DYSPROSIUM 66, HOLMIUM 67, Tm-THULIUM 69, and LUTETIUM 71.

Travel through Scandinavia & Northern regions such as Greenland, Iceland and Faroe Islands looking for the Northern Lights.

28. RENAISSANCE with NORTHERN LIGHTS. Back in Scotland we stop off for a good Scots breakfast in the village of Strontian which gave its name to the element Sr-STRONTIUM 38

29. RACHMANINOV PIANO CONCERTO NO 2 EXCERPT (Historical Event: Film Brief Encounter went on general release in 1945)


Hear Here 4: Elementally Yours Broadcast Two

This is the second of three special shows celebrating 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table. Several elements are referred to through artists and song titles. This playlist acknowledges a historical event and two birthday jukebox artists as well.  My lab book noted 30 songs played in just under 2.5 hours, and this is the raw science data once more.

Angie’s Allsorts Show 230 Hospital Radio Leighton 27th August 2019



2. TOM LEHRER with THE ELEMENTS (PERIODIC TABLE) written in 1959, so it goes up to Nobelium 102. Tune Major-General’s Song from The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert & Sullivan.

3. PAUL SIMON (P-Phosphorus 15, Au-Gold 79, Li-LITHIUM 3, Sm-SAMARIUM 62, O-OXYGEN 8, N-NITROGEN 7) with YOU CAN CALL ME AL (Al-ALUMINIUM 13)


5. DAVID SOUL (August Birthday Jukebox Artist: David turns 76 tomorrow the 28th) with SILVER LADY (Ag-SILVER 47) living opposite


7. BZMKER (B-BORON 5, K-POTASSIUM 19, Er-ERBIUM 68) with NIHONIUM Original Mix (Nh-NIHONIUM 113 other word for Japan, named in 2016)

8. JOHNNY CASH with RING OF FIRE (Western Alchemy Hermetic Element Fire)

9. DAMIAN RICE with VOLCANO (HISTORICAL EVENT: Eruption of Krakatoa peaked in 1883. Kr-KRYPTON 36, K-POTASSIUM 19, At-ASTATINE 85, O-OXYGEN 8)

10. IRON (Fe-IRON 26) MAIDEN with STORM TROOPER (High 5: No. 5 w/e 27/8/05)

11. JEAN MICHEL JARRE (August Birthday Jukebox Artist: Jean Michel turned 71yrs on the 24th) with OXYGENE II (O-OXYGEN 8)


Rarity Record of the Week:  13. KATE & ANNA McGARRIGLE with NaCl (Na-SODIUM 11, Cl-CHLORINE 17)

14. JULIAN LENNON with SALTWATER (Western Alchemy Hermetic Element Water)




18. ASAP SCIENCE with THE ELEMENTS OF THE PERIODIC TABLE (update 2018: all elements to 118 sung in order) Tune-Can-Can piece from Orphee aux Enfers by Jacque Offenbach.


Elemental Scrabble Artists


10a. KINKS (K-POTASSIUM 19, In-INDIUM 49/or I-IODINE 53 & N-NITROGEN 7, S-SULPHUR 16) with YOU REALLY GOT ME (High 5: No. 4 w/e 27/8/64)

Studio Aug 27th with co-star Doogie Duck. Image credit abmj

Hear Here 3: Elementally Yours Broadcast One

This is the first of three special shows celebrating the International Year of the Periodic Table. The playlist blends a quirky fusion of music and science together by referring to several elements through artists and songs, rather like a game of Elemental Scrabble, whilst acknowledging historical events and birthdays too. I’ve extracted the raw science data from my lab book notes, which detailed a total of 24 songs played over a two hour period.

Angie’s Allsorts Show 229 Hospital Radio Leighton 30th July 2019


  1. BLONDIE (July Birthday Jukebox Artist: Debbie Harry turned 74yrs on the 1st) with ATOMIC

(HISTORICAL BIRTH-Emily Bronte who wrote Wuthering Heights born in 1818) remaining on the literary theme:

SIGNIFICANT FIGURE who passed away on this day is writer Maeve Binchy in 2012.  She wrote several books including Silver Wedding (Ag-SILVER 47) and Copper Beech (Cu-COPPER 29). Looking into other book titles containing elements, (Charles Dickens-David Copperfield, The Silver Chair from Chronicles of Narnia series) I discovered a writer called CAMILLE MINICINO who has a physics PhD and a long teaching and research career. Using her own name she has penned a Periodic Table Mysteries series referring to the first ten elements. Murder titles include Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium, Beryllium, Boric Acid representing Boron, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen and Fluorine. The final one is called Neon Ornaments. Camille has three other crime series written under the pseudonyms of Margaret Grace, Ada Madison and Jean Flowers.

  1. FREDDIE MERCURY (Hg-MERCURY 80) with THE GREAT PRETENDER. Several elements go by a different letter symbol than you would expect. Mercury is one with Hg; others include Potassium-K, Sodium-Na, Tungsten-W, Silver-Ag, Gold-Au, Lead-Pb, Tin-Sn and Antimony-Sb.

Scientific Birthday: French virologist FRANCOISE BARRE-SINOUSSI is 72 today and in 2008 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for her work in the identification of HIV.

  1. THE PENGUINS with EARTH ANGEL (HISTORICAL EVENT: The first Penguin Books were published on this day in 1936) Western Alchemy Hermetic Element-Earth.

Linking Lyrics Slot: Theme-MOON (First moon landing 50th anniversary July 20st 1969)



HISTORICAL EVENT: on this day in 1971 Apollo 15 landed on the moon and the first Lunar Rover Vehicle was put into action. HISTORICAL BIRTH: I wonder what THOMAS FORD would have thought about that. The founder of the Ford Motor Company was born on July 30th 1863 and manufactured the first cars that the general American public had a chance to afford. His Model T Ford was affectionately known as a TIN LIZZIE.  

  1. RUFUS WAINWRIGHT (July Birthday Jukebox Artist: he was 46 on 22nd) with HALLELUJAH

(Rufus means red and Rb-RUBIDIUM 37 is named after the Latin rubidus meaning red or Ru-RUTHENIUM 44, F-FLUORINE 9, U-URANIUM 92 S-SULPHUR 16 or Rf-RUTHERFORDIUM 104. W-TUNGSTEN 74, At-ASTATINE 85, In-INDIUM 49, I-IODINE 53, Rg-ROENTGENIUM 111, H-HYDROGEN 1)

  1. THUNDERCLAP NEWMAN with SOMETHING IN THE AIR (High 5: No. 5 w/e 30/7/69) no.1 when Apollo 11 launched on July 16th to journey to the moon. Western Alchemy Hermetic Element-Air
  2. SIA (S-SULPHUR 16, I-IODINE 53 or Si-SILICON 14) with HELIUM (He-HELIUM 2) mentions comic heroes Superwoman/Superman.

HISTORICAL EVENT: The first BEANO (Be-BERYLIUM 4, No-NOBELIUM 102) comic was published in 1938


Rarity Record of the Week: 14. MARY DUFF with MR NOBLE (Neon/Krypton-noble gases)

  1. PAUL ANKA (BIRTHDAY: born 1941-78 yrs) with YOU ARE MY DESTINY


  1. CCS (C-CARBON 6, Cs-CAESIUM 55) with WHOLE LOTTA LOVE (HISTORICAL EVENT-you may recognise this as the Top of the Pops theme tune. The programs last broadcast was on this day July 30th 2006)

Elemental Scrabble Artists

5a. EURYTHMICS with THERE MUST BE AN ANGEL (Playing With My Heart) (High 5: No. 2 w/e 3/8/85) (Eu-EUROPIUM 63; Y-YTTRIUM 39; Th-THORIUM 90; I-IODINE 53; Cs-CAESIUM 55 or Eu-EUROPIUM 63, Rh-RHODIUM 45, Y-YTTRIUM 39, Ti-TITANIUM 22, Sm-SAMARIUM 62, C-CARBON 6.


14a. SEAL (Se-SELENIUM 34; Al-ALUMINIUM 13) with KISS FROM A ROSE (High 5: No.4 w/e 5/8/95)

IYPT laser show Keele University Nov 19. Image credit abmj

Aftermath of UK General Election 2019

When polling stations closed for the UK General Election at 10pm on 12th December, news channels immediately began reporting that it appeared the Conservatives were going to win with a large majority of around 65 seats (in the end it was 80)! As the final Friday the Thirteenth of the decade dawned, the unlucky auspices of the day took on a nightmare reality for those not enamoured with the idea of another Tory government. Especially hard hit was the opposition Labour Party, who after campaigning so vehemently believing victory was in their grasp, appeared shell-shocked at the results. Particularly incomprehensible for Labour and its voters, was the stark fact that many traditional Labour areas this time round supported Boris Johnson instead. Yet to me it wasn’t a surprise at all, I said in a June blog that Boris Johnson would call an election, and had the bravado to win.

On social media (Twitter and Facebook for me) I noticed an immediate vicious backlash from angry voters that wasn’t pleasant to see, so I didn’t hang around much in either forum. What was clear however is this election may prove to be as divisive as the Scotland Independence and EU Referendums. The blame game was in full force, as news media outlets analysed the results trying to find some hidden meaning to the Boris Ballot Box phenomena. But the evidence toward this remarkable Tory victory was there for all to see throughout the campaign trail. However, those seeking a higher office than MP didn’t want/or seem able to hear the rumblings of discontent, emanating from TV news clips. Boris Johnson latched on to that discontent and milked it for all it was worth, and in doing so made people think their voice was being heard. Pre-election prime examples were:

A couple re-housed in Hartlepool, after being homeless living in a hostel in the south. Both were going to vote, the woman still undecided, the man effectively said “I know I’ll be shot down for this but I’ll vote Tory. We know what we will get with him”.

Harris Tweed Worker in the Outer Hebrides (company trade abroad could be affected adversely by Brexit) “so sick and tired of it all, just get Brexit over with, so voting Tory”.

A young woman aged 19 on Twitter innocently enquired why a NHS worker would vote Tory. The replies I spotted were a combination of disproportionate abuse toward her, and a large number of NHS Tory voters, to my surprise.  Bots, fake accounts influence I don’t know, but it was a sobering read.

After the election I spotted a news item, two twenty something guys working zero hour contract jobs living in a bedsit, both voted Tory believing Boris would sort something out!

Most definitely this election was a Brexit one to its core, although it shouldn’t have been, and Boris Johnson’s “Get Brexit Done” mantra spoke to a huge swathe of people. The original Leave voters had a figure head who promised to deliver. Anyone who was sick and tired of the paralysis of Parliament for the last three years (regardless of their referendum vote), had someone who offered a finale to the sorry saga, with the hope other business would finally be dealt with as well. By comparison, Jeremy Corbyn from the very beginning of the Brexit era showed ineptitude of leadership, by consistently offering no real Brexit mandate for his party. This left Labour heartlands that voted Leave in the EU Referendum, such as Stoke Central, feeling marginalised and ignored. No surprise then this seat and many like them went to the Conservatives last week. Labour lost seats in Scotland and Wales too. Remain EU referendum voters had a natural ally in Jo Swinson the Liberal Democrat leader, who stood to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit altogether. A bold brave, but suicidal stance, as the party alienated virtually all the voter type profiles mentioned above. Add in the long held embittered memory of the Con/Lib coalition years and she had no chance, and sadly lost her parliamentary seat too. As I watched the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s euphoria as her party swept up seats, including Swinson’s,  I couldn’t help thinking “where is woman’s political solidarity here, Jo was no threat, yet Nicola seemed to be dancing on Jo’s political grave”. Not the palatable side of politics I must say. The Scottish Conservatives who campaigned almost solely on saying “No to IndyRef 2” regarding Scotland’s independence, hacked off a sizeable portion of the electorate, combined with Labour heartland marginalisation, awarded the SNP an impressive 48 from 59 seats victory. And in Northern Ireland the nationalist support increased as well. So Boris Johnson didn’t get it all his own way, and his “one nation Conservatism” isn’t an accurate statement. He MUST REMEMBER that we live in the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, four nations under a union flag, all of them with their own types of legislation and government to a greater/lesser extent. Forget that Boris at your peril, Scotland will be your Achilles heel. You can (and are) indicating there will be no new independence referendum in Scotland. But the hand grenades thrown by David Cameron into British politics with the Scottish and EU referendums still have shrapnel flying about. Winning this election with a promise to get Brexit done won’t make the “Scottish Question” injury free.

Particularly in the first 24 hours after the polling stations closed, the Labour Party demise was largely blamed on Brexit and a partisan media. The leadership refused to admit any culpability for the result, and expressed pride in a manifesto that failed to convince the electorate. This “divorce from reality” mindset goes further back in Labour history however, when Ed Milliband backed by the Unions won the leadership contest in which his brother David stood. David had Tony Blair associations and was far more politically savvy than his brother, so he had to be put in his place. After Ed, Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader but had to face down several votes of confidence from within his own party. Obviously differences of opinion on party policy were behind these challenges. As a result, Corbyn’s style of leadership to keep his party in line saw several people shafted to the side. It looked like he wanted “yes men & women” around him, who followed the Corbyn mantra without question. There was no room in the shadow cabinet for people who could inform the party leader about the realities of grass root feelings. It appeared dictatorial rather than democratic to me, did nothing to make me (and many of the general public) trust Corbyn’s judgement, and left a bad taste in the mouth. Ironically, Boris Johnson took away the party whip to several high profile Tory MPs who voted against him on Brexit issues, so his grip on Conservative Party power this summer was no better either. Yet somehow Boris comes across as an affable bumbling chap (or obnoxious buffoon) with his finger on the pulse, whilst Jeremy seems cold, clinical and remote despite his manifesto claiming to make society fairer for all. Although well meaning, and saying all the right things, those very hard left leaning policies, with unclear funding issues, appears to have scared a lot of people.

Today, the Queen attended the State Opening of Parliament and dutifully read out her government’s policy mandate for the next session. As the MPs processed in to hear this missive, Jeremy Corbyn was stony-faced and looked like he wanted to be somewhere else, whilst Boris Johnson with his House of Commons majority smiled (smirked some might say) at the thought of getting his work done. It was a lengthy tome of hoped for edicts, with Brexit being delivered first and foremost. There seemed a lot of initiatives, reforms and promised funding to be made, including getting Stormont back to functioning in Northern Ireland, NHS visas for extra doctors and nurses, immigration points system for quality workers entering UK. More money for education, NHS funding enshrined in law, housing mandates all addressing key issues that really matter to the electorate. Although I can see holes in the ideas already, and many may say its sticking plasters on open wounds, once again a politician seems to be saying all the right things, but will Boris Johnson deliver? That is the big question….

Angela McCully-Jackson's blog