Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Some thoughts on UK politics and electoral reform

This is in response to some comments posted yesterday by a friend on Twitter. She was moaning about how all the Greens seem to do is go on about PR though she did admit she likes Caroline Lucas. I pointed out the unfair situation with the First Past The Post voting system (FPTP) whereby in 2015 the SNP got 1.4m votes and 56 seats whereas The Green Party got 1.1m votes but only 1 seat in the House of Commons and this was her reply...

"UKIP changed the country with one seat. There's more to politics than seats."

Rather than continue on Twitter, with the limit on how much you can type, I decided to post my reply here...

And now UKIP has no seats in Westminster and they only have one council seat* so they have been reduced to little more than a one issue pressure group. But because of Brexit they still get alot of press coverage and are invited on to shows like Question Time on the BBC. So you are right - for UKIP, seats in Parliament don't matter as since the EU referendum they are still regularly in the news. But that's also because Brexit goes beyond party lines. There will have been voters from all parties who voted to leave the EU, not just Tories and UKippers.

While I am no fan of their policies the fact that UKIP got 600K votes at this year's General Election but have no seats in the House of Commons is bad for democracy. But it suits Labour and the Tories to have as few Green and UKIP MPs as possible and they achieve this by continuing to support FPTP.

But arguably it lost Labour the 2015 election. Why? Because in Scotland, despite the SNP only getting 50% of the vote, they won all the seats apart from three - one each to Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems. Corbyn needs those Scottish seats to win a General Election. The Greens are now pretty much a minor distraction in national elections. We had hoped to add to our one seat, or at least come a good second in a few constituencies, but that did not happen. But we have 40 council seats* and this is where we can make a difference and push councils to be greener.

Caroline Lucas does the best she can to push environmental issues in parliament but she is just one voice out of 650 seats. Most of the time she can be ignored with the main parties just paying lip service to green issues. But the environment should be central to our political system - it is the basis of life on earth. It is the air we breathe, the land we live on and grow food on, the water we need to survive but we use and abuse it putting profit above all else which is deeply depressing.

Of course, people of all political colours care about the environment especially here in Lancashire where there is great alarm especially among rural communities about the government pushing ahead with fracking. Even Tory politicians are speaking out against it here though that may be because they sense the public mood and fear they will lose votes if they are seen to support the shale gas industry.

Given the choice I would obviously prefer to see a Labour victory at the next election rather than more Tory-led austerity and I sincerely hope that if Corbyn is our next Prime Minister he stops fracking and adopts more environmentally-friendly policies.

The reason that was always given in the past for not changing from the First Part The Post voting system was that PR leads to hung parliaments. Well, we've had 2 hung parliaments out of the last 3 general elections. We need a new voting system, such as the one used in the Holyrood elections.

Colin Bertram

The above are my own personal views and not necessarily those of the Green Party of England and Wales of which I am a member.

* These were the figures after the seats contested in the 2017 local elections but the total number of councillors in the UK are UKIP - 438 and Green Party - 175 according to Wikipedia.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Still on Beyond Radio

Despite the lack of playlists being posted on here I am still presenting my show on Beyond Radio on Thursdays at 8pm. I'm now just posting the playlists on the Folk and Acoustic Music Show page on Facebook. Here are details of some gigs coming up in the next few weeks...

The Alan Bell Band
With Scolds Bridle
Sat 30 September, doors 7.30pm
The Hothouse, Morecambe
Tickets £10

The Young 'Uns
Wednesday 4 October 7.30pm
The Dukes, Lancaster
Tickets £16.50

Jacqui McShee's Pentangle
Friday 6 October
The Platform, Morecambe
Tickets £18

Jess Morgan And Dan Whitehouse
Wednesday 11 October
The Platform, Morecambe
Tickets £12

Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin
Thursday 12 October 8.30pm
Garstang Unplugged
Tickets £13

State of the Union: Boo Hewerdine and Brooks Williams
Sunday 15th October
Doors 7.30  Show 8pm
Ellel Village Hall, Galgate
Tickets £14 

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Beyond Radio playlist 1 June

Here's tonight's playlist. I forgot to say that I won't be doing a show next Thursday as I'm involved with some election that's going on.

Karine Polwart - Trust in the Rolling Ocean
Paddy Garrigan & The Stroller Priests - Sea Monsters
Ash Mandrake - Baron Von Petal
Pen & Stu - Far Away From Me (Pirate Queen 2)
The Rails - Jealous Sailor
Wire & Wool - Drunken Sailor
The Beatles - Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite!
Pippa Reid-Foster - The Mermaid Song
Led Zeppelin - The Battle of Evermore
Christa Couture - Pirate Jenny & The Storm
Ash Mandrake - The Purple and Slightly Pink Wizard
The Beatles - Yellow Submarine
Steeleye Span - Dark Eyed Sailor
Nick Wyke & Becki Driscoll - Sailor's Hornpipe + Erret Hornpipe

Paddy Garrigan & The Stroller Priests play at the Golden Lion pub in Lancaster on Saturday night starting at 9:30pm. Free entry.

The Steampunk festival A Splendid Day Out takes place in Morecambe this weekend. Ash Mandrake will be performing at The Platform on Saturday afternoon. More info at

Friday, 26 May 2017

Beyond Radio playlist 25 May

A rather shorter show last night due to some issues with the software we use to cue up and play our mp3s so I was unable to play a track by Pippa Reid-Foster which had been on the playlist. I will include her in a future show. Next week's show will have a bit of a Steampunk connection as the Morecambe festival A Splendid Day Out is taking place the weekend of the 3rd and 4th of June. But back to last night's show, here's what I was able to play...

The Beatles - Across The Universe (WWF version)
Oka Vanga - Rose of the Hill
Moonlight Gazette - La Folia
Brownie McGhee - The Way I Feel
Geoff Lakeman - The Road Together
Emily Smith - The Earl of Darwin's Farewell
Peter Knight's Gigspanner - Si Beg Si Mor
Richard & Linda Thompson - Night Comes In
Kami Thompson - Oh World
Salt House - Morning Train

The Folk & Acoustic Music Show
Every Thursday at 8pm
On Beyond Radio 103.5FM

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Beyond Radio playlist 18 May

Here's tonight Folk & Acoustic Music show playlist

The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc - Lorna's Reel
The Waterboys - Raggle Taggle Gypsy
Barbara Dymock - Auld Man
Sandie Shaw - Scarborough Fair
Howden Jones - Sweet Temptation
Connie Kaldor - If You Could Read My Mind
Patsy Reid - Hooray Henry
Cat Stevens - Moonshadow
Rackhouse Pilfer - Shady Grove
MacMaster Hay - Stay With You
Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain - Caroline
Chris While & Julie Matthews - Feel Good List
The Unthanks - Here's the Tender Coming
Madam Tsunami - Long Way From Home
The Alt - The Geese in the Bog / Covering Ground

And if you fancy seeing the Nordic Fiddlers Bloc they're playing at on Saturday

Friday, 12 May 2017

Mental Illness

There is much in the news about mental health, with frequent reminders about about how many of us will suffer from stress-related illnesses and this is the key word - illness. When my anxiety is bad I feel ill. I am on medication but it doesn't help very much and sometimes feels like I'm actually on a placebo as it has so little effect. While there seem to be countless anti-depressants, there are very few options for those of us struggling to control feelings of anxiety and the temptation is to self-medicate with alcohol which of course is not recommended.

I did see my GP earlier in the year and he referred me on to the Mental Health team but the only thing they could offer me, after a telephone appointment, was a series of lectures on stress control. At the end of the last session we were told that we should now have the tools necessary to become our own therapists and we were all discharged from the service. Great. Six lectures where me and a dozen or so others just sat there and listened - there was no interaction, no discussion - and at the end, that's it. You're on your own. 

I do understand that we have to take some responsibility for our own health, be that healthy eating, taking exercise, not drinking too much, but I don't feel qualified to be my own therapist.

So the anxiety gets worse. First thing in the morning I often seem to have thoughts about ending it all but these thoughts pass once I'm up and doing. It's horrible feeling like that, but it's just part of the illness. 

A friend tells me he has had treatment from a hypnotherapist which has helped to control his feelings of anxiety so maybe I'll give that a go. I can't really afford to pay for private treatment but at least it's something else to try.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Beyond Radio playlist 11 May

Here's tonight's Beyond Radio playlist
Davy Graham - Homeward Bound
Clare Hastings - Gretna Girls
Ian McNabb - Great Dreams of Heaven
Bonnie Raitt - Dimming of the Day
Rory Gallagher - As The Crow Flies
Janis Ian - Stars
John Waite - Bluebird Cafe
Oysterband w/ June Tabor - Love Will Tear Us Apart
Graham Nash - Cold Rain
Julie Fowlis - Wind and Rain
Miriam Backhouse - Far Away Tom
Amy Duncan - This is the Road
Flook - Flatfish
Those gigs I mentioned are...
John Doyle
Mon 15 May
Storey Institute, Lancaster
Ian McNabb
Sat 27 May
Yorkshire House, Lancaster

The Folk & Acoustic Music Show
Every Thursday at 8pm
On Beyond Radio 103.5FM