Christmas Quiz 2015

Apologies to all for lack of content since the May election, perhaps I can remedy this with a New Year’s resolution to post more.

As is now traditional , here are links to this year’s Christmas quiz enjoyed, as ever , by a group of Stockport friends in the Arden Arms where the food and hospitality never fail.


The quiz this year was an individual one and , despite my claims that everyone could answer every question, people seemed determined to prove me wrong.

I believe that this is also a quiz that is “Google proof” as simply having a correct answer is not a guarantee of the best score. Anyway give it a go and remember, Jimmy Carter, R2D2 and Dough are all wrong answers.

Links to everything below (they are printable PDF’s) :

xmas quiz 2015

xmas quiz 2015 answers

xmas quiz 2015 answer sheet

Previous quizzes can be found for earlier years on this site, simply use the search box using the term “quiz”

If you like the quiz and use it to entertain family and friends then a comment or email would be nice. I did hear from one of our Arden Arms gang that they were treated to a re run of last year’s quiz at another event. Hmmmm, you know who you are!

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The Election aftermath

What a night and a long day. I put some TV hours in from 4.45am to well after 1pm. But it is obviously as nothing compared to the people actually involved in the real thing. They may not enjoy my political support but they most definitely have my admiration for their commitment and stamina.

I predicted the local result in many ways but didn’t take into account the rise and stability of the UKIP support. Many people thought that UKIP just appeals to retired  golf club captains who think that anyone not from Surrey is from Bongo-Bongo land, they overlooked the signals in Heywood and Middleton and other by-elections where significant sections of the “Working Class” identified with what Farage was saying. They are concerned about immigration and only to a lesser extent European Union membership.

Labour did not connect with them enough, focusing on  zero hours contracts (actually liked by some, better than nothing think others ) the “crisis” in our NHS and “Secret Tory plans” to sell it to a Google-Amazon-Costa Coffee consortium. This almost arrogant disconnect was earlier signalled by the famous Emily Thornberry, Islington Labour MP,  tweet about the St Georges Flag and white van in the Rochester and Strood By-Election


I believe that the substantial and surprising UKIP vote came from neglected  Labour voters not disaffected Tory voters, the tattooed roofers on the council estates not the directors in the posh suburbs, the Aldi and Asda shoppers not blue rinsed ladies in Waitrose. They were all there to be brought into the Labour fold but were ignored as irrelevant or taken for granted.

Overall I was astonished by the final result, I expected the Hazel Grove result based on what I knew locally but would never have imagined an overall Tory majority across the whole country.

What also surprised me too was the vitriol on social media directed towards everyone who didn’t support the left . This dummy spitting was in contrast to the overall lack of triumphalism shown by many including David Cameron in his  constituency acceptance speech. When did Labour decide it has a monopoly on compassion?  Other people care and actually do things about it too even though they may hold different political views to you.


There is so much more that could be said but there is enough out there to fill a thousand hours of reading. It’s  bye-bye to Ed Balls, Alexanders Danny and Douglas, Vince Cable, Simon Hughes, Nigel Farage, Esther McVey, Labour in Scotland, the Lib Dems in the West country and most pleasing of all, George Galloway.

So that’s it folks. Hope you enjoyed the 2015 election as much as I did. I feel a sense of deflation and the party’s over but nothing, as I said above, as much as the real participants probably do.




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Mellorview’s Hazel Grove election prediction

In the 2010 General Election, the Hazel Grove constituency results were as follows: Andrew Stunnell, LibDem, won the seat with a 6,300 majority on a 41,000 vote turnout (this represents some 66% of a 63000 electorate) Stunnell polled 20,000 whilst the nearest challenger , the alliteratively named Annesley Abercorn, Conservative, managed 14,000 . Labour polled just over 5,000 with UKIP picking up 1,500. These numbers had not changed much over the last 3 elections although the Conservative vote increased by 3000 in 2010 despite fielding a candidate who no one locally had heard of before or since.

I believe that some of the following factors will influence the result in Hazel Grove:

  1. The increase and decrease in popularity of the actual parties over the last 5 years
  2. The local political climate and the makeup of the local council
  3. The effect of personality of the candidate
  4. The engagement of the young and the floating voters
  5. The propensity of voters to vote the same way

Using the 2010 result as a base, I think that LibDem votes in Hazel Grove reflected the success of Nick Clegg in the 2010 leaders debate and were an easy choice for people voting for a party enjoying a golden period. The same could be said about the increase in the Conservative vote. However, since 2010  the LibDems have declined 20% points in the opinion polls when compared to May 6th 2010, from 28/29% to about 9%, this has to be reflected locally. I am estimating that it will cost the Libdems in Hazel Grove some 3,000 votes.

The second factor is a limiting one for the estimate above. Without a strong position in Stockport council and a strong local party machine, the loss of Lib Dem vote would be even greater. There is also a slight advantage for the Conservatives here as they are gaining ground in local politics.

Perhaps the most telling factor will be the effect of personality. Stunnell enjoyed an almost revered position locally and could command support from outside his core party faithful based on his perceived local work and commitment. His retirement and the view that Lisa Smart has been “parachuted in” will cost the Liberal Democrats a further 2,000 votes. There is also resentment that Stunnell took part in the coalition negotiations and at the rather grimy “defection” of ex-Labour candidate, Laura Booth to the LibDem camp.


The candidature of Michael Taylor, Labour, this time will also be a major personality factor. Michael is well known in the area, respected and has proved to be a vigorous and effective campaigner. He is adept at using both traditional and social media and also has tried to connect with both the younger and floating voters. I can see this resulting in two things. Firstly a higher overall turnout and more younger voters and secondly an increase of the Labour vote by at least 3,000 votes in this area.

William Wragg, Conservative, has also campaigned relentlessly and used social media to good effect, assisted by a young and energetic team. This too will increase the turnout and will also capture younger supporters. ( It was never cool when I was in my youth to be Tory though, I must dust off my copy of Das Kapital. ) I think that this may be worth an additional 1,000 votes.

The final factor is the propensity of the electorate to vote the same way. There are substantial numbers of voters who vote Labour, Tory or Liberal come what may. All the campaigning, leafleting , debating and politicking just passes over and they seek only the parts in it all that suit their world view. It’s known as “Confirmation Bias”. These numbers are shrinking each year as the old allegiances slip further into the past. Each of these groups have their own set of prejudices: Old school Labour will never vote Tory and vice versa. Liberals could possibly go either way but are more likely to transfer their vote to Labour.

The latest prediction by for Hazel Grove is as follows:

Conservatives 32% – Labour 17% – LibDems 37% – UKIP 10% – Green 4%

If we see an increased turnout of 42,500 votes ( 67.4% of electorate ) , we would get the following numbers of votes:

Conservatives 13,600 – Labour 7,225 – Lib Dems 15,725 – UKIP 4,250 – Green 1,700

Based on my theories above, the Lib Dems would lose 5000, split as 1500 to Conservatives and 3500 to Labour. The UKIP vote would soften by 1000 votes to the Conservatives and the Green vote by 700 to Labour. This produces a Hazel Grove election result as follows:

Conservative 16,100
Labour 11,425
Lib Dems 10,000
UKIP 3,250
Green 1,000

Until the morrow, my psephologist career rests in the balance!

William hill are offering the following odds on the election LibDem 1 to 4 on, Conservative 11/4 , UKIP 40/1 and Labour 50/1. In betting parlance there is some value in there.


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A pause for breath in the General Election campaign

One full day to go in the run up to most interesting general election I can recall. The promises and bribes from every political party will continue throughout the day, liberally spread with exaggerations, distortions and sins of omission from all sides. In the background though, the party apparatchiks and spin docators will be busy preparing their Defcon scenarios of who will ally with whom and putting together their negotiation strategies for Friday morning and the next couple of weeks. Those who are still interested are going to learn a lot about The Cabinet Manual, the guide to how the UK government operates. (Here is a handy link to it if you have no life or find sleeping difficult )

It may be a surprise to all those candidates, agents, party workers and journalists in the”bubble” but there are still many people who are just getting on with their daily lives and not really paying attention. Labour has worked the hardest to create some contact with the disinterested with some remarkable vote catching ploys:

1. Try to the catch the yoof vote by engaging with a serial philandering, attention-seeking, wannabe anarchic smackhead who your own shadow chancellor had described as a “pound shop Ben Elton”. This was seen as a bad move until Russell came out with a rather mixed message of support for Labour ( But not for the beleaguered 45 labour MP’s in Scotland ) but all a bit late as it was now past the time for  those zillions of his Twitter followers (who had followed his earlier advice not to vote) to get registered to use their stubby crayons,

Russell meets Ed :

2. Get all biblical and bring real gravity to your election promises by actualising the overused phrase “set in stone”. Commission an eight foot slab of limestone engraved with six commandments. Invite press and stand in front of it, ignore everyone who instantly christens it the “Edstone”


But then forget to make your own vice chair of the election campaign aware of the real meaning of such an action as Lucy Powell car crashed again Asked on BBC 5 live if carving them in stone made them more believable, Ms Powell, Labour candidate for Manchester Central said: “I don’t think anyone is suggesting that the fact that he’s carved them into stone means, you know, means that he will absolutely, you know, not going to break them or anything like that.”

Not that the other parties have failed to make us laugh. In the interests of balance, a pair of Tory candidates for Southend tried to catch peoples eye on their leaflets by making election days more interesting:


Never a party to be outdone in the controversy stakes, UKIP have suspended their Hampshire candidate Robert Blay after he was caught on Video making less than charitable remarks about the opposing Conservative candidate, Ranil Jayawardena:

” If this lad turns up to be our prime minister I will personally put a bullet in him. That’s how strong I feel about it,” he told the Daily Mirror’s undercover reporter.

“I won’t have this fucker as our prime minister. I absolutely loathe him.”

“But I’ve always said in my constituency you could put a monkey out there with a blue rosette on and it would win.”

He accused his rival’s father of having come to Britain from Sri Lanka and “ponced off us … like all the East Europeans are”.

One final thought, if it comes to expedient coalitions with parties who want to break up the UK, then Cameron should consider an immediate one with the SNP and Plaid Cymru. Push through a single policy of instant full devolution for Scotland and Wales and then enjoy an English majority for the Tories of at least 50 seats over both Labour and the Lib Dems. Be careful what you wish for.

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Who I am voting for in Hazel Grove 2015

We are now in the last few days of this election campaign, and it is “make your mind up” time. For Labour, here in Hazel Grove, we have Michael Taylor. A hundred times out of a hundred, if it was just about you Michael ( sorry to use your slogan ) you would get my vote. But it’s not about Michael with his eminently sensible and implementable ideas about business and local problems, with his life and commercial experience and his honesty, passion and commitment.

It is Ed Miliband, it’s Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, it’s the dead-eyed fembots of Rachel Reeves, Lucy Powell and Harriet Harman, it’s Chuka “Look” Umuna and Andy “What Mid Staffs?” Burnham and all the rest of the left-leaning professional socialists in thrall to Len McCluskey of Unite and Dave Prentiss of UNISON. with their divisive dinosaur politics left over from the Sixties and Seventies. In any event, they can only come to power with the assistance of the SNP, behind whose obvious separatist ambitions lurk yet even more extreme socialist policies.


My vote was never going to be for Lisa Smart of the Liberal Democrats, sent into our constituency with a sense of entitlement, supported by the resources of the local party probably still funded by us, the taking us for fools with the pretence that she is local and the dubious list of LIbDem achievements that include a few bits of extra playground equipment and moving one train from Marple to Rose Hill and pretending, like the Halifax Building Society, that we’re getting extra.

Over and above the local candidate, Lib Dem policies  are too left leaning. I almost bought the  “A heart for Conservative, A head for Labour” line but it is outweighed by, in my view, the single biggest failing of Clegg and the Lib Dem MPs in not defending their decisons. They failed to press home to their supporters old and new, that, yes,  they had compromised , even u-turned on tuition fees but it was a price paid for all the other elements of their manifesto that they did get into law. Such as the large rise in personal allowances which took many poorer people out of tax and went some way to restoring a reason to work rather than claim benefits. They got things done, something no Liberal politicans had done for almost a hundred years. Gladstone, Asquith, Lloyd George, Clegg should have been their message.

So I am left with UKIP and the Conservatives. I think Farage, unencumbered by political correctness or party ideology,  speaks a lot of sense on many issues, I do feel that we have allowed immigration to go too far unchecked, if for no other reason of the financial pressures on education , health, housing and other infrastructure that dramatic increases in population bring. I also, personally, do not enjoy feeling a stranger in my own country. I feel that in London, and in many parts of Manchester. A visit to Longsight market these days would help you understand. I also broadly agree with the UKIP message that Europe should just be a trading partner not a maker of laws.

So I come to the Conservatives. And after many ifs and buts, this comes down to one thing, the campaign message from Bill Clinton’s Democrats in 1992:


Whatever your political views, we currently live in a capitalist country. We must have a successful economy because everything else that you need stems from it. Health care, benefits, capital investment in infrastructure, the ability to support a larger population. So who is best to deliver an improved economy ? The Tories have tried and succeeded to an extent. They have not met all their commitments but they have demonstrably avoided the armageddon that Labour predicted.  Another good call from Ed Balls?  Inflation, unemployment, growth: all the indicators are right. On the other hand, Labour are almost idealogically opposed to making the decisions that will continue this recovery.

They also know they are weak in this area, that’s why their campaign has majored on the behemoth that is the NHS , sorry our NHS, and spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about its fate if the Conservatives were to retain power. I simply don’t believe this. The NHS is so big and complex that it could be a country on its own. The reality is that the politicians of any persuasion are too prone to meddling with it to suit their own agendas.

So my vote will be for William Wragg, Conservative.

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The reading, writing and ‘rithmetic of election campaigns

Education is a key “issue” for all the parties, many of our Hazel Grove candidates are emphasising it, locally they can’t keep away from Stockport college. Nick Clegg has made it a “Red Line” issue on any future coalition deals.

To begin with reading: I have never known so many leaflets come through the door. I have had two personal letters from David Cameron, several Conservative leaflets, lots of LibDem pseudo-newspapers providing me with no end of macro and micro detail of their achievements. I had never heard of the Tram Train from Marple to Stockport until Lisa Smart told me she was backing it. Also we should be grateful for her decisive intervention into the installation of some new playground equipment in two local parks. As I write , both the Greens and UKIP have got their delivery ants up the hill to push more recyclables through the letterbox.

Moving on to writing: the UKIP candidate in Frome, Somerset had his leaflet marked by a local teacher. They are now denying it was a UKIP leaflet and say it was a malicious opponent distributing it. Whatever, it is still very funny:



What about ‘rithmetic or numeracy? One of the aspects of my series of interviews with the local candidates that most surprised me ( and disappointed me too to be honest ) was the lack of knowledge of the actual figures involved in key parts of our economy. Everyone loves to hold forth on this percentage and that increase but it would appear they don’t know the basics. And these are the candidates. What about the electorate? In 8 days time some 30 million people will post their vote and I would be surprised if 1% or 300,000 have any inkling of the basic numbers.

In round numbers in 2015 we will spend in excess of £740 billion and we receive £670 billion, and that is after significant cuts in spending and considerable growth in receipts. We are still overdrawn annually by some £70 billion and that must be added to the national debt and be financed by interest payments. If you think that is bad , then it worth remembering that in 2010 ( the last year of the Labour government ) receipts were £120 billion less and consequently the “overdraft” was £190 billion.

David Cameron has been recently mocked on Facebook, with this image doing the rounds (probably the work of  a spotty 17 year old with a sizeable plumbing fitting inserted in his earlobe.)


Whats wrong with this ? Try some simple multiplication. Lets forget the billions and trillions because that is obviously too confusing. What do you get if you double 9?  It’s not 14 is it? It would be 18, so this only works if it read £1.8 Trillion.

So tell me again , just so I understand, why are Labour supporters incapable of simple arithmetic commenting on who is best qualified to run our complex economy?

If you want a basic primer on all this read this link to a document produced by the Office of Budget Responsibility, don’t rely on Facebook for facts.

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Hazel Grove attracts the political big guns

There is no fixed definition of a marginal seat in UK politics although it is generally acccepted that the key seats that could be viewed as marginal are the 192 UK constituencies that have a 10% majority or less and therefore would require a 5% swing one way or t’other to produce a change.

Hazel Grove in 2010 produced a 15% majority for Stunnell ( LibDem) over the alliterative Annersley Abercorn ( Conservative ) but there are still elements of this election which suggest it may be more marginal than the numbers suggest. In any event the Tory and Lib Dem strategists obviously think so due to the disproportionate numbers of big players that have hit town.

So far for the Lib Dems , we have had two visits from Nick Clegg and one from Danny Alexander ( Well, nearly, he probably had to drive through the constituency to find his leader in a deserted pub car park on Werneth Low ) and Miriam Clegg girl guiding.


Nick Clegg in Romiley – ” Cant you get a Pole to do this?”


Hola Chicas! No estoy su representiva, pero estoy muy guapa!

The Conservatives are obviously targetting here with an early foray from Boris Johnson, two visits from David Cameron, one from Education secretary Nicky Morgan and a pep talk for Marple’s burgeoning Bullingdon club boys in the Ring of Bells.


Bojo in Marple: No thank you , I dont want to taste your furry sandwich

David Cameron in pumped up mode


Roll your sleeves up and get some leaflets out!


Nicky Morgan ( on the left , or the right I should say )


How do you wear a hard hat?


George Osborne in the Ring of Bells, Marple.


Get the jagerbombs in! I need a shot !


The other parties seem to be leaving their candidates to fend for themselves, although this may not be the case as the more perceptive may have noticed the following:

Ed Miliband eating a sandwich in the Golden Plate in Marple:


Ed Balls coming on as a substitute for Real Offerton last Sunday:


Is my gut offside?


Nigel Farage in a Newsagent in Bredbury ( Is the shopkeeper indicating the number of UKIP seats? ):


Do you have a copy of the UKIP manifesto on your top shelf?


Natalie Bennett of the Green party possibly seen in Etherow Park:

natalie bennettt

Too whit too whoo


In any event, most of these visits are remarkably stage managed, as observed by Manchester Evening News journalist, Jennifer Williams,  in this Spectator article here

No one from the great unwashed has any idea of when these big names are descending upon us. The texts to the party faithful go out, the battle bus appears , the visit done with a chosen and partisan few and the bus leaves before anything embarrassing happens. Another bit of fluff for the TV or National newspaper and all encounters with “Bigoted Women” carefully kept off the Red top front pages or Six o’clock news.

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