Christmas Quiz 2017

Afternoon all, our Arden Arms Christmas lunch is very late this year taking place only 2 days before the day itself. As ever, eight of us meet at 2 pm to enjoy a good meal and a good few drinks.

It is over 15 years since we started doing this and will be the first time that the new licensees of the Arden will be looking after us. Hopefully they can do as well as Joe Quinn and Steve King did in their long and succesful tenure.

The quiz itself is in a similar format to previous ones.  Everyone should be able to answer every question as there are multiple right answers, the trick is to find an answer no one else has and to avoid an incorrect answer which costs you points.

There are three rounds of twelve questions. You are welcome to print off and share.

xmas quiz 2017

xmas quiz 2017 answers

xmas quiz 2017 answer sheet

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Ghost of Christmas Present

Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam. In easy state upon this couch, there sat a jolly Giant, glorious to see, who bore a glowing torch, in shape not unlike Plenty’s horn, and held it up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge, as he came peeping round the door.

`Come in.’ exclaimed the Ghost. `Come in, and know me better, man.’ `I am the Ghost of Christmas Present,’ said the Spirit. `Look upon me.’

Tomorrow the Earth in the Northern hemisphere reaches its darkest and coldest point before beginning its six month journey back to maximum light. This thought has prompted a few reflections on Christmas in 2017 to balance the nostalgia of the previous post.

God rest you merry, gentlemen, Let nothing you dismay.

From at least the middle of October, every pub , restaurant and hotel seem to begin competing for the office party market. “Book now to avoid disappointment.” “Only a few tables left!”  “Don’t be left out”  which culminated in Mad Friday, the night  with the greatest number of drunken revellers on our streets, including not inconsiderable numbers of those familiar Christmas drinkers who can’t make their minds up at the bar or insist on paying for their own drinks in a nine strong round.

But surely the least attractive option, promising all the gaeity of a 40 watt light bulb, would be the Christmas party of any political party but perhaps this one in particular…

Bring me flesh, and bring me wine.
Bring me pine logs hither

Now there seems to be more Christmas markets in the UK than in the whole of the rest of  Europe. Post Brexit, what will happen to Jurgen & Hans’ faux German sheds with carol singing reindeer, overpriced gluhwein and bratwurst, those stalls selling stale Stollen and dodgy tulip bulbs together with all the bath bombs, hand made soaps and debatable charcuterie you could never need? Not to mention the opportunity to be stampeded by a hen party of hefty lasses from Wigan high on a dangerous cocktail of cheap Wetherspoon’s Prosecco and snide Gucci perfume.

Once the preserve of department stores and local town halls, private houses now compete for the most outrageous displays of external festive lights. Though it has to be said that this saves us the trouble and expense of visiting some naff  “Magical Christmas Event”  run by some random gypos on a Yorkshire farm who have tied fake antlers to their trotting ponies heads.

Santa cutie, there’s one thing I really do need, the deed to a Bitcoin mine
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight,
with apologies to Eartha Kitt

Christmas music has been around as long as I can remember, Nat King Cole, Sinatra and Bing Crosby, Band aid and all those Christmas Number Ones now so ubiquitous that far from stimulating goodwill to all men, make a New Year court appearance a distinct possibility for those of us stretched beyond breaking point by Maria Carey, Slade or Wham.

O tidings of comfort and joy

The print media world of magazines and newspapers goes into a predictable orbit at this time of the year. Those lists of What to buy for him, her, the children, even your bloody pets  in the quality paper supplements. I spent a Sunday looking at them objectively and, honestly, they are all just death itself , not “to die for” as they would have it. Set fire to your money or give it to charity rather than buy me anything from these depressing catalogues of pointless consumerism!

As ever, and undoubtedly rehashed from previous years, there are the constant articles about how to have the perfect Christmas lunch: brine your turkey the night before, put semolina on your roast potatoes, cook the legs separately, bone the legs out and stuff them with a forcemeat stuffing made from quinoa, zest of yuzu and spiralised kale. Who knows how to bone out a leg of oversized poultry these days other than some cheffy bastard with his £90 tasting menu and a substantial retainer from the newspaper publishing this guff?

Is that a ham for Hannukah, Nigella ?

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The hopes and fears of all the years

The Apprentice, Professional Masterchef, The X-Factor, I’m a Celebrity and Strictly Come Dancing may all seem banal and trivial in different degrees but as they reach their predictable final climaxes in December , I have to grudgingly admit they do help to unify people with a shared experience. Over 13 million watched the Strictly final which is against the trend of so many diverse, sorry it’s that word again, I meant disparate, cultural experiences.

Bearing gifts, we traverse afar

More than ever in these days of non-nuclear families, hundreds of thousands of these tiny diasporas are driven to relocate by a mixture of searching for home, duty visits, senses of obligation and the need to ground themselves. Although perhaps feeling that it would be nice to just have a few precious days together.  I don’t envy those stuck in cars on motorways or trying to travel on the railway using  timetables almost malevolently designed to subject the unwashed to maximum inconvenience.

Now bring us some figgy pudding,
And a cup of good cheer

There has been a steady growth of eating out on Christmas day from gastropubs, where the cost of a meal for 6 or 8 would buy a terraced house in the Sixties, to the despair of eating a curry in a local Indian on Christmas day. I  have heard of people spending amounts on table settings for a dinner at home on the big day that would have also bought that terraced house.

Now there are foods from across the globe and the seasons no longer seem to exist. Despite the fact that there are shops open nowadays even on Christmas day, people lay in enough meat and drink to survive for a month, just in case friends or relatives turn up on the off chance. Across Britain, the majority of those friends and relatives remain closeted at home sleeping off 6500 calories in front of the telly whilst the mountain of party food goes untouched.

Future Selfie?

Join the triumph of the skies

How many now escape this midwinter madness and inevitable family squabbles by  taking a holiday often in warmer places?  Toasting the Yuletide in swimwear by a turquoise sea in 30 degrees of heat with Singha or Red Stripe beer , a Yarra Valley sauvignon blanc or a strawberry daiquiri. The one time we did this confirms that there is something odd about sitting on a tropical beach wearing a Santa hat. Christmas decorations in Thailand which is Buddhist and Hindu just seem wrong.  

Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
Born this happy morning

More than ever the effects of technology, especially social media, invade our lives, separating everyone into different worlds, the kids upstairs whatsapping, snapchatting and instagramming or watching some esoteric, increasingly ephemeral aspect of popular culture on a tiny screen, adults in different rooms watching soaps, football on Sky multiroom or quietly putting unrequited gifts on Ebay. Why can’t people just leave those horrible antisocial devices alone for a day?

Many Christmas traditions are dying: Christmas stockings, watching the Queens speech , the demise of some traditions hastened by this digital “progress”. What would you prefer? A dancing Santa gif at the end of an email, a robin emoji tacked on the end of a vacuous text message or a real handwritten Christmas card, chosen with care and you personally in mind by the sender?

There’s a world outside your window
And it’s a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears

Who now remembers Advent ? It is the Christian period leading up to Christmas with candles lit on each of the four preceding Sundays until on Christmas day the final one is lit signifying Christ’s birth bringing light to the world.

There are so many issues facing us, so much political posturing that it is so tempting to retreat into hibernation, sustained by mince pies and single malt whisky. But there are many small things that can be done to make the world a better place:  don’t be too judgemental , recognise that we are, on the whole, better off than before, give a little more to charity and try to be kind in some way each and every day.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

 

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Free Christmas Quiz Collection

For the last six years, I have created a quiz for a group of friends who meet for a long and somewhat liquid lunch in The Arden Arms in Stockport. Our lunch is late this year taking place on Saturday the 23rd and so this year’s quiz will not be online until around 3pm on that day.

For those of you who may have come across this site whilst scouring the internet for your own quiz inspiration, the links below contain links to PDF’s from 7 previous years quizzes. There are usually printable questions (with and without answers), picture sheets for picture quizzes where appropriate and prepared answer sheets. All you need is a printer!!

You are welcome to use or plagiarise any of this material without cost but my ego has asked if you use any of it then please leave a comment at the end of this post!

The 2010 Quiz

This  quiz had a theme of numbers from 1 to 12 ( 12 days of Xmas? ) it was designed for two teams to play against each other choosing to answer A or B

The 2011 Quiz here

A slightly odd quiz, perhaps not as portable as the questions were aimed at individuals names. It may be inspirational and there is also a picture quiz which is less specific.

The 2012 Quiz here

Film and Music related, 5 rounds including 2 picture rounds. The final round is about music from popular films and requires some way to download the music and play the clips.

The 2013 Quiz here

Every answer in this quiz related to one particular number ( the fourth prime number, a heptagon has thisnumber of sides, it is 111 in Binary and was the Number on the shirt for Best, Beckham, Robson,Cantona and Ronaldo). You need to spend a few moments reading it to understand but soon all becomes clear. There is also a good picture quiz that ties in to the same theme.

The 2014 Quiz here

The Twelve days of Christmas – Every question is related to some aspect of this well known festive tune. Again a picture quiz is part of it.

The 2015 Quiz here

By now, there was a need to Google proof quizzes and this year took a different turn. Loosely inspired by “Pointless”, this year’s quiz had questions that everyone can answer individually ( and can usually always answer ) but the key to success is finding an answer that no one else has and avoiding wrong answers.

The 2016 Quiz here

This is based on the same format as 2015 above. It works very well, everyone remains engaged and there is some great interaction between players.

The 2017 Quiz repeats this popular formula and will be online on Saturday 23rd at 3 pm

Have a great Christmas and if you use and enjoy any of this stuff , then please let me know via a comment on this blog post.

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Ghosts of Christmas Past

Over fifty years ago now, Christmas in the Sixties was so different.

Many families lived much closer together, horizons were narrower. Where we lived in Lower Crumpsall, the centre of Manchester was 3 miles to the south and seemed a long way off, and was known to everyone as “Town”. Lower Crumpsall was our “village”. It consisted of eight or nine streets of mainly terraced houses bounded by steep valley sides of the river Irk on both sides , the CWS biscuit works to the south and the ICI dyestuffs factory complex made up the Northern boundary. About a hundred and fifty households in total. We were served by a complete range of small shops from Butchers and Bookies to Greengrocers and Sweet shops and our small community sustained three pubs: The Swan, The Waterloo and The Crumpsall Hotel.

In the first weeks of December there would be a church Christmas fair held in our adjacent primary school; ham salad teas, a bran tub, tombola, stalls selling tat and home made cakes and gifts. The fair had its own Father Christmas who was actually a local old spinster who reeked of Parma Violets perfume.

As the days shortened and the nights closed in, the smog and fog seemed to last for weeks, local shops would begin to decorate their small windows with Christmas fancies, cheap tinsel and lights in the Post Office and the Paper shop

The dustbin men, milkman and the paperboy would all knock on the front door and offer their ” Compliments of the season ” which was a coded request for their annual tip or Christmas Box as it was known. The Christmas and New Year special double edition of The Radio Times would be eagerly awaited and read, each laying claim to what they wanted to watch on the 3 TV channels available.

Click on this image to see it in a readable size Rolf Harris & Jimmy Savile both on the same page, so to speak!

As the month progressed in the early evenings a tentative knock at the door might be followed by a couple of tuneless verses of “Away in a Manger” or “O Little Town of Bethlehem” as groups of kids would come looking for a kind shilling or more usually the invitation to “Bugger Off!”

At home, our own Christmas preparations would begin in the middle of the month as we decorated the house. Ancient decorations were retrieved from the cellar, fold out paper bells under the lights, crepe paper twisted streamers criss crossing the living room with balloons at each corner, paper chains made from different coloured pieces of gummed paper, home made paper lanterns cut out and decorated with a splash of glitter. Lametta and Tinsel for the tree, always a Norway spruce needle dropper, carefully packed glass baubles were added and the whole job finished with a fairy or angel on the top. The lights were a perennial problem constantly needing remedial fuses and paternal oaths to ensure their continued working. No twinkling LEDs then, just a few colours but promising magic and that unique resin smell of Christmas that persists down the decades.

Holly branches might be gathered from some random roadside spinney in Cheshire during a Sunday drive, mistletoe from the local lecherous greengrocer who tried to test the sprigs with illicit kisses from the younger and more attractive local housewives

These two verses are from the John Betjeman poem “Christmas”,
probably written in 1953 the year I was born.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says ‘Merry Christmas to you all’.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

(You can read the whole poem here)

The lead up to Christmas continued with additional shopping trips. Firstly the annual purchase of alcoholic drinks for our house which remained teetotal for the rest of the year. From Willoughby’s, the wine merchant in “Town”: bottles of scotch, gin and the then exotic vodka,  Advocaat for snowballs, Dubonnet, port and Stones ginger wine. Of this last elixir, we were sometimes allowed a nip watered down with hot water and sugar if we managed to fake a convincing enough sniffle.

I remember some years Dad set up a small barrel of beer, a firkin of 9 gallons, next to the television. He used a home made sturdy wooden stool upturned as a stillage and educated us about the use of hard and soft pegs to bring the beer into condition. Being under a single glazed window in a house lacking central heating meant there was little threat of his 72 pints of Boddington’s bitter spoiling. In fairness these were years when Mam and Dad would often host a New Years Eve party

In these days before freezers, and even refrigerators in many homes, as all shops would be closed for several days, people would lay in large stocks of food. Many items made an appearance only at this time of the year: Turkish delight, Eat Me dates tightly packed in palm boxes with a strange plastic twig, tangerines from Morocco or Spain sometimes with paper or foil wrappings, boxes of chocolates, tins of Scottish shortbread, nets of mixed nuts in shells: hazelnuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts and those impenetrable almonds that defeated all but the mightiest nutcrackers.

Our turkeys and sometimes goose or capon would always be bought from the local Butcher often accompanied by a fresh cow’s tongue. I can still see the tongue now, a horrific vision in greaseproof paper, almost as it had been torn from the poor beast that very day, ready to be cooked and then pressed using a heavy weight on a saucer in the pan. The red meat, now cold, encased in its jelly, promising  delight for some but not me. There always had to pickled onions or mixed pickles, perhaps a call to a Jewish delicatessen in nearby Cheetham Hill where a large jar of pickled cucumbers could be secured.

On the day itself, we got up very early to see our presents downstairs,over the years we received Plastic toy soldiers, army sets of tanks and artillery pieces, a football strip, then free of badges, numbers and sponsor’s logos, red for United, a cowboy outfit, hat, pistols in a bullet belt with a nifty string to tie the holster to your legs, a neckerchief and perhaps a waistcoat, a football, a robot with batteries from Taiwan, a paintbox and colouring books, a compendium of games, books and inevitably the selection boxes filled with weeks of rations of chocolate bars that had little chance of surviving until the new year. One year we actually were up before my dad came in from a neighbours Christmas Eve party, needless to say he packed us off back upstairs .

Christmas day continued with Mam up at “God knows what” hour to get the turkey on, an annual battle to get oversized poultry into a small gas oven, there were vegetables to prepare, puddings to boil, gravy to make, tables to lay. I am ashamed to say she got little help.

My brother and I would go to church for the Christmas morning service stopping only to exchange boasts about our presents with other kids or watch enviously as some kid showed off their new bike in the street. Church was pleasant with carols and a joyously short sermon. Soon over. We would sometimes cross paths on our return home with our Dad who nipped out for a restorative festive “gill” at the Waterloo Inn, a beer only licence Boddington’s street corner local midway between our house and the church.

We invariably ate around 1 or 2 o’clock, following the visit of our only grandmother and two uncles who lived a couple of hundred yards away. Uncle Bert, an ex-Coldstream guard who had served in Malaya in the Fifties, would enjoy tickling us mercilessly. In the years we had Nana and uncles Bert and Frank to Christmas Dinner, then the extending table would be moved into the living room and the settee pushed back to the wall. It was not uncommon for them to bring their own dining chairs or a makeshift bench be fashioned from two chairs and a plank.

No starter of course, the meal began with turkey, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, carrots and sprouts. No bread or Cranberry sauce then, we did have Chipolata sausages but without a bacon wrapping. They were never known as pigs in blankets. The stuffing would be Paxo sage and onion made from a packet and stuffed into the cavity of the bird. Gravy was home made and used the turkey giblets as a base finished with scrapings from the roasting dish and thickened with cornflower and Bisto gravy mix. Afterwards there was Christmas pudding, boiled for an age and served with white sauce spiked with dark rum. No wine was ever served, perhaps some glasses of beer and a Dubonnet and lemonade for Nana.

As the food was cleared away, cigarettes might be offered from a special Christmas gift pack of 50 and perhaps a small Panatella cigar from an exotic thin tin as a treat for the men. Everyone would then watch the Queen’s speech on TV and then as older members of the family dozed, we watched Billy Smarts Circus on TV and waited for the once a year treat of Disney clips at around tea time.

There were only 3 channels to watch and obviously no video or DVD, no smart phones or PC’s. Everyone would look forward to the big comedy shows with Morecambe and Wise or Bruce Forsyth, later there might be a classic film to watch. “It’s a Wonderful life” , “Miracle on 34th Street” or the superb 1951 “ Scrooge” all seemed to be on at this time of the year.

Despite our substantial turkey dinner, there was always a Christmas tea, often salad with cold turkey and then home-made Christmas Cake with its thick icing, marzipan layer and plastic decorations of snowmen and Santas brought out each year. A trifle was often offered made with sherry and Italian sponge fingers.

It is difficult to remember much after this day of annual feasting. Boxing day was another bank holiday with more televison and turkey and an opportunity to finish off the less attractive items from the selection boxes. As said earlier, they were always unlikely to make it to New Year’s Eve.

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Soul Men , I Thank You – BBC Stax Prom

In a life blessed with a forty year marriage, two fine sons with two lovely daughters in law and three beautiful grandchildren there are only a few regrets: the road trip not taken to the USA in 1974, the Porsche 356C left unrescued as it eroded on a Cheetham Hill garage forecourt in the late Seventies and the Anglesey cottage with dramatic views of the Irish Sea not bought in the Nineties,

Perhaps there was one other: the Stax Volt Review not seen at the Manchester Palace Theatre in 1967. I hadn’t yet turned 14 when Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Eddie Floyd and Booker T came to town but I had already developed a passion for the music of black America. Though my paper boy wage would have stretched to the price of a ticket, there was no way this 13 year old grammar school boy would have got parental approval to attend this concert on a school night.

By December of 1967 Otis was dead following a plane crash and the remaining fantastic artists of the Stax label never again toured in Europe as a review. My first live concert was a year after this one, at the same Palace Theatre featuring the far more mundane Scaffold and The Hollies.

In those days, teenagers with a taste for more eclectic music such as Soul and Tamla Motown had few opportunities to hear it. Radio One, which launched in September 1967 as a response to the pirate stations such as Radio Caroline, had relatively little black music content. The highlight was a Saturday lunchtime hour hosted by Emperor Rosko, who was both an ex pirate radio jock and an American ! Rosko’s playlists would hold up today.

Apart from this, Radio Luxembourg, dance halls and record shops were the only places to hear any Atlantic, Stax and Tamla music. In the days of three TV channels, no videos and of course no Internet, smart phones or Spotify word of mouth was very important. You would have to buy the music on vinyl or make reel to reel tapes from the radio’s meagre output. With limited funds, those few precious 45rpm singles would be played over and over, the limited content of the label pored over and committed to memory. We knew the song titles, composers, producers, the song length, release date and even the catalogue numbers. All blue Stax UK releases were of a six digit length beginning with 601, an odd choice as there were less than fifty singles released.

Fifty years on and who of us back then would have believed that the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall would devote an evening to pay tribute to this marvellous music. Underpinned by Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, supplemented by the legendary Steve Cropper on guitar and Booker T playing his Hammond organ, Eddie Floyd, William Bell and Sam Moore ( half of Sam and Dave ) were back with us. Apart from the dapper William Bell whose voice has retained all its powers, the octogenarians Floyd and Moore needed vocal support from Tom Jones, Beverley Knight and James Morrison but their presence was still immense and they could both still pull off some moves.

Ignore the two clowns on the right – sneaked in after too much Ganja at the Notting Hill Carnival

An hour or so passed far too quickly as my teenage soundtrack played through in the unlikely setting of the Albert Hall. Ruby Turner showed her quality as she mastered the Staple Singers’ “ I’ll take you there”, Beverley Knight faced the difficult task of emulating Carla Thomas, Judy Clay and others and the outstanding James Morrison made the hairs on your neck stand up with his rendition of Otis Redding’s “ Try a little Tenderness”. This last was so good, you could see Booker T Jones smile his total approval across to Steve Cropper. Otis was back in the Hall.

To echo and paraphrase the lyrics of another fifty year old pop masterpiece, “ A Day in the Life”. I now know how much Soul it takes to fill the Albert Hall. I also now have another regret in my life that I never got to this show either.

You can still see this on Iplayer! Dont leave it 50 years.

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To Theresa, with hindsight and Scott Gronmark

This is shamelessly cut and pasted from another political blogger but he articulates it so much better than I ever could:

(1) If you’re going to run a personality-based campaign, first check to make sure that you have a discernible personality. You know, someone who doesn’t see running through a frigging wheatfield as the naughtiest thing they’ve ever done. (I suspect Boris has done naughtier things than that.)

(2) If you’re relying on old people voting for you, try not to announce three policies that will annoy/terrify them, and then fail to adequately explain the reason for any of those policies.

(3) If you introduce policies intended to address “generational fairness” in order to appeal to younger voters (who don’t like you or your party) try to explain in some detail what’s in it for them: they have short attention spans, so you really need to make the explanations punchy.

(4) Don’t treat the election as a re-run of a previous referendum. Referendums and elections are entirely different things. Asking people to, in effect, turn out to vote in a second referendum so that you won’t be forced to hold a second referendum is a fairly deranged and unappealing strategy. That was then – the election was now (or yesterday). And hanging everything on the Brexit negotiations – which a large number of your traditional supporters wish weren’t happening at all – isn’t really that bright.

(5) One thing the referendum proved is that trying to scare the pants off people doesn’t go down that well. It didn’t work in 2016, and it didn’t work in 2017. Funny that. We’re all a bit tired of doom and gloom and warnings of disaster unless we jolly well do as we’re told. That’s why your predecessor lost the referendum – and it’s why you (in all but name) lost the general election. I’ve spoken to quite a few conservative friends and acquaintances over recent weeks, and every single one of them was utterly appalled by your horrible, lacklustre, fear-driven campaign. Even those of us who were fairly cheerful a month ago were thoroughly miserable by the time yesterday finally, finally arrived – and we’re even more miserable now. It’s a simple lesson: don’t depress voters.

(6) There’s no point, in the wake of two horrifying domestic terrorist attacks, of warning us that we’ll all be less safe if your terrorist-sympathiser opponent gets into power. That is, of course, true. But as the Home Secretary and Prime Minister who cut police numbers while singularly failing to put bobbies back on the beat or to stop home-grown ISIS fighters waltzing back into the country or to prevent the spread of Islamism within our Muslim communities or to reduce immigration or to do anything about the pernicious, paralysing reign of political correctness in our public sector – well, it’s a bit late to turn round and start telling us “enough is enough”. Enough was enough a long time ago, only the message didn’t seem to get through to you.

(7) Turns out the “vision thing” matters. You’ve been in government for six years – you’ve led the damned thing for most of the past year – and I still have absolutely no idea what you believe in. As far as I can make it out, you’re yet another big government, social democrat centrist who feels a burning desire to meddle in every aspect of people’s lives – except the ones that would make us all a bit safer. Workers on boards? Really? I can’t remember you proposing a single genuinely right-wing policy. Did you imagine you’d satisfied right-wing voters by promising to deliver Brexit? Or because we had no one else to vote for? But, okay, Cameron got away with treating right-wingers with disdain – but then you forgot to appeal to the centrist wets who Cameron relied on. You seemed to imagine the right and the centre and the old would simply front up to vote for you on polling day “for fear of finding something worse.” Not good enough! People like to vote for something – a vision, an idea, a change, in order to be part of something positive. You mouthed a few platitudes about the trading opportunities Brexit would deliver – but I didn’t believe you believed a word of it. When Boris and Michael Gove and Dan Hannan and Douglas Carswell talked about those opportunities during the Brexit campaign – about Britain reclaiming its role as a great trading nation free of the EU’s socialistic shackles – I damn near peed myself with excitement. When you – who supported Remain – talked about the vibrant, sunlit, free-market uplands which buccaneering British adventurers and entrepreneurs would plunder to their hearts’ content to the benefit of everyone, I saw nothing – felt nothing.

(8) Occasionally finessing the truth when addressing voters is part and parcel of a politician’s trade – but you mustn’t do it so brazenly that they feel positively insulted. When Cameron returned from Brussels and claimed he’d negotiated meaningful concessions from the EU, we all scoffed – he lost the referendum right there. When you did a horribly clumsy U-turn over the badly-explained “dementia tax” and then claimed you had done no such thing – we all scoffed. And you lost your party’s majority right there.

(9) We can no longer rely on young people not bothering to vote. They evidently respond to simple messages, delivered with seeming sincerity, and they like to feel part of a movement (they’re terribly conformist). And, because they don’t know anything of life, have nothing to lose, and don’t really understand how money and tax work (many of them live at home, with ready access to funds from the Bank of Mum and Dad, which they never have to repay), and as none of them has ever experienced socialism (lucky sods!), you either have to explain reality to them (good luck with that), or you have to offer them an exciting, alternative vision which will somehow sound compassionate – because they like that sort of thing – and which will convince them either that they’ll be getting tons of free goodies, or that they’re going to earn so much they’ll be able to afford those goodies anyway. There’s no point in telling them you’re beating up pensioners so they won’t have to pay for the greedy old buggers – they don’t have a clue how tax works! Tell them how you’re going to ensure that they’ll be better off than their parents – not that they won’t be. Enthuse them! Excite them!

(10) When your top team includes the single most-popular, tried and tested vote magnet in British politics, give him a prominent role – more prominent than your own, if necessary. Boris Johnson was elected as mayor of a rabidly Labour city twice. He was one of the main reasons the British voted for Brexit. Yes, he makes blunders and he annoys many people and he’s nobody’s idea of a safe pair of hands. But, by God, he’s popular. He’s funny and witty and all-too-human and people respond to him as they do to no other politician. He’s the only living politician who’s known by his first name alone. I kept hearing news of Tory ministers losing their seats this morning – and I couldn’t put a face to most of them. And I’m actually interested in politics. I’m sure you had some strategic reason for keeping Boris hidden – presumably you wanted to sack him, or you felt he’d overshadow you, or whatever – but you were catastrophically wrong to do so. He’d no doubt have lost you a few votes – but he’d have won you a shedload more. This bloke wins important elections – unlike you. What were you thinking?

(11) If this election proved anything, it’s that you really have to be able to energise people. In order to energise people, you have to engage with them, talk to them, make them feel you understand them, that you’re speaking from the heart, that you want to lead them somewhere interesting and fun and either emotionally or materially rewarding – preferably both – and that you know exactly where it is and how to get them there. Corbyn – silly, old, terrorist-loving, anti-British, Stalinist nincompoop – gained 22 percentage points during the course of this election. He talked bollocks. His manifesto was packed with utterly unaffordable, goofy promises – but he sold it convincingly by sounding like he meant it, and that he was genuinely excited by it. Your manifesto – the “vaguest suicide note in history” – was packed with policies that, while some of them may have been sensible, sounded more like threats than promises. Insofar as you painted a picture of the promised land, it was a grey, dull, enervating dump that nobody would ever wish to visit. Enthuse, excite, engage – that’s the ticket!

(12) Be a lucky general. You either are or you aren’t. You aren’t.

 

Acknowledgement: this is not my work but that of Scott Gronmark

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2017 Election Hazel Grove Constituency Prediction

In 2015 I accurately forecast the result of the Hazel Grove seat in the General election. At the time I went in to some detail about how I thought the election campaigns had gone and what the likely factors were.

The final results were:

Party

Candidate

Votes

%Share

 Conservative  William Wragg  17,882  41.8
Liberal Democrat   Lisa Smart  11,330  26.2
 Labour  Michael Taylor  7,584  17.5
 UKIP  Darran Palmer  5,283  12.2
 Green  Graham Reid  1,140  2.6

There was a turnout of 42,759 voters, a percentage of 68.5% of the electorate which was an increase of 1.9% on the 2010 election turnout.

This time I expect the result to be as follows:

Conservative – Wragg 20,500 votes

Liberal Democrat – Smart 13,500 votes

Labour – Mishra 6,500 votes

Green – Lee 1,500 votes

The UKIP vote last tiem of around 5000 votes has to go somewhere and is likely to go to the Conservatives more than anyone else. The Lib Dems will consolidate but are generally seen as a declining force nationally. Labour will decrease slightly as people vote tactically to try to defeat the Tories here , the young will blindly vote for Corbyn but the older Labour voters will reject him.  The turnout will be slightly down.

Nationally the Conservatives will increase their seats to about 355 to 360, Labour will decline as will the SNP slightly and I expect the Lib Dems to be around 10.

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