Saturday, July 29, 2006

The West Wing - RIP

(warning - spoilers follow)

There aren't many TV programmes that I treat as 'must see'. For starters my job makes it quite difficult to guarantee being in on the same night each week. the modern trend for new shows to be repeated a couple of times in the followign week are a godsend as far as I'm concerned.

The West Wing has been one programme that I have done my best to follow. It has combined brilliant writing and strong characterisation with inteligent story arcs, real drama and, of course, politics.

I'm sure that part of my reason for liking it so much is because it is about the triumph of liberal idealism over the republican right - but basically it is just solidly good drama.

Despite the sense of winding down in the last few episodes the storylines remained strong with the issue of whether or not Bartlet should pardon Toby Zeigler not being concluded until the final touching scenes.

There were some touching moments in the last few episodes. As James Graham points out Bartlet's gift of a copy of the Constitution to Charlie, that his father had given him, brought a tear to the eye. I though the final scene of Bartlet unwrapping the framed copy of the napkin he had once given to Leo MCGarry was also very sweet.

For me the real test of a good film or TV programme is how much it sucks me in. By the end of the West Wing I was left wondering what Bartlet would do next, how would Santos solve the crisis in asia, would CJ make a go of her relationship and how well would Josh and Sam run the new administration.

I was hooked by this show and will really miss it.

(The really surreal moment of the evening for me was turning on the West Wing challenge beforehand to see David Tennant's happy smiling face as he answered question after question with the zeal that is usually reserved for Dr Who fanboys - only to see the camera then pan over to our own Mark Oaten who didn't do too badly himself!)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

He doesn't speak for me

There probably isn't much I can add to the debate about the Middle East situation and our Prime Minister's latest folly.

I would just like to state for the record that he does not speak for me.

(And I've added those nice Lib Dem buttons to the site. Thank you Dr Pack.)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Bromley and beyond

It was very enjoyable to spend a few days in Bromley.

We had a very strong candidate in Ben Abbotts and an exceptional Agent in Shaun Roberts who led a fantastic by-election team.

There has been a lot of talk by the sore losers of the campaign - the Tories (Yes - I know that, technically, they won - but it is clear to everyone that they were the losers on the night) - about a 'nasty' and 'vicious' Lib Dem campaign.

What rot! The Lib Dem campaign simply pointed out two undisputed facts: that Bob Neill lived in Towers Hamlets and that he was already a member of the GLA and would not give up that seat if elected MP.

Nothing 'nasty' or 'vicious' about that.

'Nasty and vicious' was the Conservative campaign in Cheadle where, amongst other things, they tried to link Lib Dem candidate Mark Hunter to a rape case.

The electorate are not stupid. They rightly reacted against the tories in Cheadle as a result of their silly campaign. They went with Ben Abbotts in Bromley because his campaign got it right, and because he was clearly a strong candidate.

The deficiencies of the Tory candidate were ably demonstrated in his awful losing speech on the night.

What does this say about politics? Well let's not be starry eyed, it doesn't mean that the Lib Dems can expect to win hundreds of Tory seats next time on a similar swing against the Tories.

It does however demonstrate that the 'Cameron effect', if it exists at all, is only skin deep.

If there was any real support for Cameron, or any real sense out there that people want a Tory Government, the Lib Dems would not have been able to get this sort of swing in a seat where they started third.

The Lib Dems will emerge from this by-election (and Dunfermline) more confident than ever that they know how to win elections against both the other main parties, and that three (or four in the other nations) party politics is here to stay.

Bring The Boys Back Home

After popping down to Sutton for an election debrief I headed to Hyde Park on Saturday to watch Roger Waters perform a set which included The Dark Side of The Moon in its entirity.

(Note to younger viewers - this is a classic Pink Floyd album from the early 70s - Roger Waters was the main songwriter, joint vocalist and bass player)

At one point in the set he launched into the song 'Vera' from 'The Wall' - an unusual choice for a live set. All became clear though when the chorus kicked in: 'Bring the Boys Back Home' - and for anyone who didn't get the point these words were displayed across the back of the stage in VERY LARGE red letters.

Roger also spoke very movingly about his personal experience of the hospitality of arab families when he was travelling in the middle east as a teenager and performed one new song based on those experiences aimed firmly at 'George and Tony'.

I'm sure they won't listen to him, but he made the point very well.