Dream Cabinet

INTRODUCTION

This post is my response to Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK’s challenge to come up with a dream cabinet. I do not quite have a full  cabinet here but I do have names, positions and explanations and/ or justifications for all my choices. I will start by listing the names and positions, and will then go into a little more detail in the next section about my reasons.

THE SELECTIONS

These are the positions I have managed to fill:

Prime Minister – Debbie Abrahams

Deputy Prime Minister – Angela Rayner

Chancellor of the Exchequer – Richard Murphy

Home Secretary – Kerry-Anne Mendoza

Foreign Secretary – Clive Lewis

Business Secretary – Rebecca Long-Bailey

Health Secretary – Jo Rust

Environment – Caroline Lucas

Transport – Thomas Sutcliffe

Neurodiversity Minister – Paddy-Joe Moran (askpergers.wordpress.com)

Education Secretary – Michael Rosen

Arts – Anna Bohlin

Sports – Elizabeth Ammon (@legsidelizzy)

Scottish Secretary – Mhairi Black

Disabilities – Paula Peters (DPAC)

Science – Patricia Fara

Work and Pensions – Mike Sivier

Women and Equality – Kate Osamor

Welsh Secretary – Leanne Wood

Defence – Emily Thornberry

Housing and Planning – Sian Berry

We now move on to the the….

EXPLANATIONS/ JUSTIFICATIONS

I will take each position in the order in which they appear above:

Prime Minister – Debbie Abrahams

Debbie Abrahams has impressed me ever since she entered the shadow cabinet to the extent that I was determined to put her in a top position, and in the end I opted for the top position for her.

Deputy Prime Minister – Angela Rayner

Another who has been consistently impressive since her promotion to the front bench. From what I read of her performance on Question time when she had to contend with three very right wing fellow panelists, a Liberal Democrat and the mloderator, Mr Arch-Establishment Dimbleby (I was not able to watch for myself as I refuse to let the BBC have any of my money) she seems to have done a fine job of further underlining her credentials.

Chancellor of the Exchequer – Richard Murphy

We need his kind of economic vision as a matter of urgency, and how better to get it and than have the man himself as chancellor of the exchequer.

Home Secretary – Kerry-Anne Mendoza

Editor of The Canary and author of many splendid articles. I am sufficiently impressed by what I have seen of her that I have no doubts about putting her straight into one of the four so-called “great offices of state”.

Foreign Secretary – Clive Lewis

He was always going to feature somewhere in my dream cabinet, and I have decided that this is the right role for him.

Business Secretary – Rebecca Long-Bailey

Someone else who has said a lot of the right things since joining the front bench.

Health Secretary – Jo Rust

The Labour Party candidate for Northwest Norfolk (my constituency) at the last general election, active in many roles and a passionate supporter of the NHS. Exactly the right kind of person to take on the formidable task of repairing the ruin caused by the likes of Lansley and Hunt.

Environment – Caroline Lucas

I want environmental policy in the hands of someone who is committed to protecting the environment, and to me no one ticks that box more definitively than Ms Lucas.

Transport – Thomas Sutcliffe

I am aware that it is always risky for selectors to pick themselves, but I believe I can justify this one. I have a lifetime’s knowledge of and commitment to public transport. Although I am creator of a London transport themed website, London would actually be at the back of the queue for attention from me is at it is less badly off transport-wise than the rest of the country. 

Neurodiversity Minister – Paddy-Joe Moran

Paddy-Joe is autistic, the author of several books about autism and also writes the askpergers blog. Having decided to revive the idea of this post (see here for more details) it was a question of who to select for it. I wanted my Neurodiversity Minister to be neurodiverse themselves and in the end I went for Paddy-Joe.

Education Secretary – Michael Rosen

He would bring a lifetime’s knowledge and passionate commitment to the post. Education in this country would improve massively with Michael Rosen in this role.

Arts – Anna Bohlin

I do not know whether we could persuade her to come over from Sweden, but I am sure that she would be excellent in this role and would work well with her cabinet colleagues. For more details about her consult her blog

Sports – Elizabeth Ammon

Also known by hew twitter handle – legsidelizzy. In addition to her cricket writing and commentaries she has made some very sound political points. 

Scottish Secretary – Mhairi Black

Always assuming Scotland have not yet declared indepence, I would want Mhairi Black, who is the youngest but also one of the most impressive MPs currently in the house, in my cabinet, and this would seem the ideal role for her.

Disabilities – Paula Peters

I have gone for someone who is disabled and heavily involved in DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) for this important role.

Science – Patricia Fara

Author of a book on the history of science, a scientist herself and an impressive speaker (I have heard her give a talk here in King’s Lynn). She got the nod ahead of Brian Cox because I decided that I wanted a woman in charge of science policy.

Work and Pensions – Mike Sivier

Author of the Vox Political blog, carer and very knowledgeable about the misdeeds of the DWP under the Tories he would be an excellent person to undertake the task of putting this area back on track.

Women and Equality – Kate Osamor

Like several of my other choices she has impressed ever since taking her place on the front bench, and she would be well suited to this role.

Welsh Secretary – Leanne Wood

Occasionally sounds too excitable for her own good, but says a lot of good things, and I believe would do them in this role.

Defence – Emily Thornberry

As shadow defence secretary (before being moved to shadow foreign secretary) she was quite impressive.

Housing and Planning – Sian Berry

She ran an excellent campaign for Mayor of London which deserved better reward than third place (in particular, it was a travesty that she ended up behind Goldsmith after he ran such a disgraceful campaign, but also for my money Khan could have had no complaints had she won outright). This is a position I would definitely want in the hands of someone thoroughly committed to protecting the environment. To reuse a remark I originally made as a comment in response to one of Anna’s posts

Preservation of nature needs to be at the heart of planning decisions, not an optional (and often despised) extra. Your battle in Trosa is a battle for all of us everywhere.

PHOTOGRAPHS

After all that text here are some photographs for a bit of light relief…

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The first seven pictures are from yesterday – this is the East Rudham (my parents’ village) egg shop

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Starting with this one my remaining pictures are from today.

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Norfolk Pictures and Some Shares

Some local photographs from earlier today and some interesting links.

INTRODUCTION

I had expected to be blogging about the first ever NAS West Norfolk curry night at The Globe today, but the event had to be postponed due to the severe weather that affected King’s Lynn yesterday. In addition to the decision to postpone the curry night made because those who would have had to travel (as opposed to me strolling down the road) to get there did not feel safe doing so I have a couple of other little pieces of evidence to back my claim that the wind yesterday was the strongest I have experienced while living in King’s Lynn, which is a fairly windy town anyway. Firstly I had to retrieve one of the legs of my outside table from the roof of Artertons (this roof adjoins my balcony but is one storey lower, so to access it I have to descend to street level, ascend a fixed steel ladder to the Artertons roof, retrieve the item, descend the ladder and ascend the stairs to my own flat). For this to happen, the table top, which when the table is not in use I position covering the legs, had to be blown clear of the legs and then one of those legs had to be blown across the width of my outside space and down on to Artertons roof, and it has never happened before. Secondly, the 813th King’s Lynn Mart made what was in truth the only sensible decision they could have done, not to open yesterday evening on safety grounds, again a first in my time living in this part of the world. Therefore with a couple of links at the end as a bonus I am falling back on a staple of this blog, some local pictures taken today.

THE PICTURES

Weatherwise today has been the calm after yesterday’s storm, so after lunch I went out for a walk with only my trusty Nikon Coolpix P530 for company. Below are the highlights of this walk in picture form…

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Daffodils just emerging in The Walks
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Signs of life in what I call the “Trivial Pursuit Beds” in The Walks

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A cormorant showing its wingspan on the west bank of the Great Ouse
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Cormorant just in the western edge of the Great Ouse

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A view of the town from Harding’s Pits
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The Nar was so calm that these modern houses were clearly reflected in its water.
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A tern (probably in origin an Arctic Tern.
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A Moorhen

SOME LINKS

My first link is to a new petition on change.org calling on the UK government to treat hate crimes against autistic people as seriously as race hate crimes. Here is the body text of a suggested message provided by change.org:

I just signed the petition, “UK Parliament: Make autistic hate crime as punishable as racism.” I think this is important. Will you sign it too?

Here’s the link:

https://www.change.org/p/uk-parliament-make-autistic-hate-crime-as-punishable-as-racism?utm_medium=email&utm_source=notification&utm_campaign=petition_signer_receipt&share_context=signature_receipt&recruiter=181177831 

On a completely different note, courtesy of www.independent.co.uk here is a fascinating account of a new solar system in which no fewer than seven earth-like planets wouyld appear to be in the habitable zone around their star. Click on the picture below to read in full.

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Finally to end this post, a highly amusing video. Clearly based on the classic sketch “What did the Romans ever do for us?”, this is a sketch called “What did the European Court of Human Rights ever do for us?”

https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/culture/video/2016/apr/25/patrick-stewart-sketch-what-has-the-echr-ever-done-for-us-video

The Downright Dishonourable Phil E Buster (Con, Shipley)

An account of the latest display of appalling behaviour by the downright dishonourable member for Shipley and a suggestiion for how to prevent repeats.

INTRODUCTION

The section of this post which gives it its title is largely comprised of embedded tweets about the appalling conduct of a Tory MP today.

THE TWEETS

This sequence of tweets summing up the Downright Dishonourable Member for Shipley’s latest display of contemptuous narcissism start and finish with mine, but those in the middle are from others…

 

 

 

 

My renaming of Mr Davies as the Downright Dishonourable Phil E Buster (Con, Shipley) is because he has a long and disgraceful record of such behaviour and because in Britain this kind of behaviour is known as filibustering. It is right and proper to condemn this kind of behaviour, especially in relation to a bill that is about tackling domestic violence (being put forward by Eilidh Whiteford of the SNP), but that leads on to the next question…

WHAT SHALL WE DO ABOUT IT?

Tight time limits on speaking should be set in place as a matter of urgency and they need to be enforced rigorously. I believe that as well as being arrogant and contemptuous this “tactic” is deeply antidemocratic and cowardly (if you think you can defeat the bill you should present a coherent argument against it and back yourself to win the vote). The time limits should be a proportion of the total time set aside for the bill to be discussed, and will therefore vary according to circumstances. As for the punishments, I suggest a rugby style three tier approach, making the punishment fit the offences as follows:

  1. For a first offence a ban on speaking for 1 weeks worth of parliamentary sessions (the equivalent of being sent to the sin bin).
  2. For a second offence a ban on speaking for 1 months worth of parliamentary sessions (yellow card in rugby terms)
  3. For a third offence automatic termination of parliamentary career on ground of unfitness for office, thus triggering a by-election, and of course debarring the offender from ever standing for elected office again. This is the red card equivalent.

This approach to dealing with what has become a serious problem mirrors my approach the curse of slow over rates in cricket, which I would deal with by the insertion of the following clause into the laws of the game:

The bowling side is required to deliver 30 overs per session (i.e 15 per hour) and at the end of each session if they have failed to achieve this their opponents will  be awarded penalty runs for the unbowled overs at a rate of 10 per over or double the batting side’s scoring rate, whichever is the greater.

Note the inclusion of an insurance policy to make sure that the measure is absolutely guaranteed to be properly punitive.

PICTURES

Regular visitors to this site will know that I always like to include pictures in my blog posts, so here are some:

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Kirsten, one of the people who runs the Musical Keys sessions at the scout hut playing the trombone on Saturday.
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The remaining pictures are of cigarette card lots that I imaged for James and Sons’ March auction (all taken on Tuesday).

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A Very Successful Three Day Auction

An account of James and Sons auction, which took place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

INTRODUCTION

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week James and Sons had its second ever three day auction. This one had the additional twist that two different venues were being used, our own premises in Fakenham on days 1 and 2 and the Maids Head Hotel, Norwich on day 3. 

DAY 1: FAKENHAM

I caught the 7:30 bus from Lynn to Fakenham, thus arriving at James and Sons at just before 8:30AM (this bus doubles as a school bus, so follows a more circuitous route from Lynn to Fakenham than the usual X29 route and therefore takes 15 minutes longer to make the journey than a regular bus). Thus I was able to get the setup done in plenty of time, and the auction got underway at the appointed hour of 10AM. On this day stamps, postal history and first day covers were being sold. There were a couple of room bidders, and thankfully large numbers of online bidders (over 250 by the end of day 3). Although there were not many things going for big amounts of money a lot of stuff did sell, and the auction had started well. I have no pictures from day 1 of this auction, but here are some images of items that will be going under the hammer in our March auction, which will be on the 27th, 28th and 29th of that month. 

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These first two pictures of lot 1031 in the March auction, which has an interesting story. This item is a grass sledge, designed and built by a craftsman in Sussex for use on the Downs.

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The remaining images here are cigarette cards photographed after day 1 of the auction finished and before I went home.

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DAY 2: FAKENHAM

The routine was the same as on day 1, but the items under the hammer were different. This day featured photographs, postcards, a few books, records, ephemera, Liebig cards, cigarette cards, cheques and coin first day covers. For most of the day there was no one present at the venue who was not a James and Sons employee, but the internet was very lively for much of the time. I had two moments of good fortune. The first featured…

LOT 864

Here are the official images of this lot:

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My opening bid of £10 was unopposed, and here are the photographs I took this morning showing the entire booklet in all its glory:

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About 10 minutes later we got to…

LOT 891

Here is the image gallery for this lot:

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My opening bid of £8 again went uncontested, and here is a much more comprehensive set of pictures of this lot…

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We start with front and back images of the cards in sets of six (the complete set contains 30)

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Then we have close ups of some of the more interesting cards – this one is Richard Trevithick’s Pen-y-Darren (that y is pronounced roughly as a “uh” sound), the first commercially operated steam locomotive ever. Steam engine technology predates this by approximately 1800 years – Heron of Alexandria designed a steam operated device for opening temple doors.

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The most famous of all the very early locos – Stephenson’s rocket.

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This Metropolitan Railway locomotive was designed specifically for operating in tunnels.

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Luxury travel on the Brighton Belle

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I travelled on this stock when I visited Scotland in 1993.
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The only other stock in this set of 30 that I have travelled on, the legendary Intercity 125.

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Overall this was a better day than we had expected – there were only a few quiet spots.

DAY 3: NORWICH

The fact that we were in Norwich for the final day of this auction meant that the stuff had to be loaded up to be transported over there, which was done at the end of day 2. It also meant that since I was going to have be in Norwich earlier than I could get there using the X29 that I claimed £5.50 in excess travel expenses as the cost of travelling there on the First Eastern Counties X1 is £11 as opposed to £5.50 if I can use the Stagecoach X29 route.

As intended I left my flat at 5:15AM and was on the 5:30 bus from King’s Lynn to Norwich, arriving at the venue at 7:30. I had my laptop with me because James and Sons were one laptop short (two working machines when we needed three). The setup was just about completed before the first viewers started turning up, and there were no issues of any sort. 

Here are some photos from that early period:

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This item sold for a fair amount of money.
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The rostrum – the black machine belongs to my employer, and we ran the operator screen (my responsibility) from it, while the white machine is mine, and we ran the auctioneer screen from that.

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Only a few of these big stamp lots sold, although both helmets found buyers.

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A distant view of the main display area, and visible through the window, the wall of the Cathedral Close.

THE FIRST PART OF THE SALE – COINS & BANKNOTES

There were no headline making prices, but most of these lots sold, some doing very well. We had decided to have a 15 minute break after lot 1,300 (we started the day at lot 1,000). Just before the end of the session we came to some commemorative medallions from the Gigantic Wheel, which was a feature of Earls Court between 1897 and 1906. The first was lot 1,286, which I ignored as being beyond my means. Lot 1287 however, which was only a little inferior in quality was cheaper, and my bid of £10 duly secured it. Here for comparative purposes are first the official images, scanned at 600 dpi and brightened up a bit, and then the two photographs I took today:

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For auction purposes I scan each face and then produce a combined image as well as c,lose ups of each face

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The photographs from earlier today.

 

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For the record, these medallions are approximately the same size as a Queen Victoria penny.

THE SECOND PART: MILITARIA AND STAMPS

The Militaria sold well. A chess set with German markings achieved barely credible £170. Here is the official image gallery:

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Plenty of other things did well as well. The stamps predictably enough did not fare very well, but everything else had done enough that the auction was an unequivocal success.

AFTER THE SALE

I had considered staying on in Norwich to attend a Green Party public meeting at which Richard Murphy would be speaking, but in the end after three demanding days I was too tired to even contemplate not being home until 11PM which is what that would have meant, and so after a visit to Norwich Millennium Library I took the bus home, arriving back in my flat just after 6PM.

The A(nna) Train station

Originally posted on Annas Art – FärgaregårdsAnna:
Thomas at aspiblog has a fun challenge. Design a station challenge. My imagination started to making pictures right away. I want to do a real drawing of the things I have in my head after reading the challenge post. But for now this sketch is all…

Here is Anna’s preliminary sketch – I look forward to reading and seeing more about her dream railway station…

Annas Art - FärgaregårdsAnna

Thomas at aspiblog has a fun challenge. Design a station challenge.

My imagination started to making pictures right away. I want to do a real drawing of the things I have in my head after reading the challenge post.

But for now this sketch is all I had time to do today.


Imagine a station were the floor is painted like the ocean so everyone feels they can walk on water, the red carpet is rolled out for everyone that chose the green way to travel for saving nature. That is the A(nna)-train at the station where people who think green travels.

I want to think of this idea a little bit more. Maybe there will be more drawings on this theme. I think it’s fun. Join the challenge you too!

Anna

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A Competition to Design a Station

An invitation to my followers to demonstrate their design skills.

INTRODUCTION

The official competition is being run by Crossrail, and is open to people aged between three and 15. I am using this blog to open an unofficial version of the competition to all my followers.

THE COMPETITION

People in the age range to qualify for the proper competition can visit the site here (the competition is open until Sunday). For those not eligible for the official competition you can use this post to present your ideas, either in pictures if you have the skill and inclination, or in words, or as a combination of both. If you put your thoughts into a post of your own, include the link in a comment and I am sufficiently impressed I will reblog.