Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Wine, the Making Of, by Wiggia

My Wine Change and Fashion piece was actually read by someone outside our small (hopefully widening) circle, in fairness only because I told him about it, but he did read it and we had a discussion that involved a lot of the current trends and the manufacturing of wine by the big players, e.g. Gallo.

With a bit of research many findings simply underscored that we already knew but went a lot further: it is quite remarkable how the food industry has taken wine in a relatively few years from being a pig in a poke to a beverage that can be relied on to assuage people's perceptions of what wine should be and sell it as you would a packet of crisps; that is nowhere as far-fetched as it sounds, in fact not at all.

All the big wineries use outside testing tasting companies to put together the tastes that people want. It is exactly the same as biscuits or ready made meals: your chicken Kiev may have come from Asda or Waitrose and may taste slightly different, but the only real difference as they are all produced by Allied Foods or similar; it is the seasoning or sauce variation that has been tweaked to give an impression it is a better product and can command a premium when purchased from an upmarket retailer.

With wine at the moment it is not quite that approach as the big wineries do their own market research, through these companies and some in house to tweak and alter their own wines to best suit the target punters.

Before anyone goes all au naturel over this, the Romans were doctoring wine by using lead (really!) as a sweetener, marble dust, animal blood and seawater, all part of the enhancing and prolonging of the life of wine, and even before the industrialisation of wine  and today the use of sulphur, copper nitrates, the use of egg yolks in the fining of wine, removing particles, the addition of sugar in bad years and bad wines to bring the alcohol level up, chaptalisation is the posh word used for that, were and are all normal and legal additions to wine-making.

Today those bad wine days are over. The technical side has created an industry within an industry that with powders and potions, all of which are legal, they can cleanse, enhance, change and improve, dilute as necessary, raise and lower alcohol levels, add colouring for that rich red or change to a lighter colour for that fresh look, all without breaking any laws.

This is a typical wine lab: http://www.okwinelab.com/

Even the expensive oak barrel taste can be replicated by wood shavings, wood dust, staves of wood and chips with added flavours; all achieve the same end to the nth degree as the expensive wood barrels. All this after extensive research and blind testing and tasting with random groups who will give their opinions on favourite tastes and smells, it is pure market research. 

What is often forgotten is the target market, that £5-6 bracket that is where the bulk of all wine sales are, and it does not take a lot more tweaking to produce a premium product that commands a higher price. A good example of that is the Ravenswood Zinfandel, winner of a gold medal, and gives the impression of being made by a small winery; far from it - it comes from a very large industrial winery. The use of labels depicting some idyll small winery is a normal marketing trick, again no different from Tesco's use of farm logos on veg that has never seen this country's soil.

As an example of the scale of production with the big brands. Yellowtail from South Australia produces 12 million cases annually. 96% is exported and most goes to the States of all places, where the demand increases, it is their biggest imported wine.

What does all this mean? Jancis Robinson, one of the few wine writers I have respect for, has summed it up rather well: she wrote, “It is one of the ironies of the wine market today that just as the price differential between cheapest and most expensive bottles is greater than ever before, the difference in quality between these two extremes is probably narrower than it has ever been.” She also reiterates what I said in the earlier piece about how little bad wine exists now, so much so we have largely forgotten how bad it was. There is no doubt that industrialisation has made it possible to elevate good wine to a level near very near to established top end products.

Of course expectations still play a big part in enjoying wine and buying it. If someone spends £50+ on a bottle of wine his brain is already telling him that the wine will be good even if it isn’t. The same applies to the wine you had on holiday: it is always better than the same bottle you purchased at home. Why? Because you were on holiday enjoying yourself in hopefully wonderful surroundings, your brain is not going to let an average bottle of wine spoil that. That of course is a generalisation, but it has been proven to be fact, in the same way blind tasting even among wine critics can produce different scores for the same wine when drunk on different days and in different surroundings.

So can you trust wine scores? To a degree; the mean average of scores can be a fair result of different palettes, but again you have to remember they are tasting as at the annual primeur tastings in Bordeaux at the Chateau; if you are going to Lafitte for a tasting you are already expecting great things, I would love to see the same tasters' results if all was done blind !

Wine competitions are something I have voiced an opinion on before. These are blind tastings but even blind tastings can produce a different set of results on another day with the same tasters. Another factor is that the wine competitions deal mainly with lower price wines, many of which fall into the industrial category; with the uplift in quality in that section, it appears few go home without an award and now they extend the awards to another higher level - all too much, I feel.

Price and quality do go hand in hand, again it is all arguable: there is no doubt that up to fifty pounds a bottle  the quality climbs with the price; after that, name, reputation and availability push up the price, not always with any justification as to what is in the bottle. Once a wine reaches £100 and up it sadly these days becomes a collector's item or investment. My tasting at the higher end is naturally limited but even I have had some terrible disappointments along with amazing surprises. Burgundy when in the days I could afford the odd “good” bottle was my graveyard: some of the producers who knew and know because of their limited output they could sell anything should have been put to the sword, yet the best red wine I ever drank came from that region.

With wine it is the unknown that keeps me interested, the forever new countries coming onstream with good wines and different grape varietals. It is all good news and keeps the price down. For those who reach for Yellowtail whenever they visit the supermarket shelves one thing is sure: it is a lot, lot better than the equivalent of twenty years back, costs less in real terms and is very unlikely to disappoint or be faulty. Yellowtail became successful by removing the things in wine that new customers do not like, acidity and tannins; this could change as people decide to move on from this orchestrated fruit juice, but for now…….. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

SUNDAY MUSIC: Drummer's Holiday, by Wiggia

Buddy Rich
The title was the name of an album by Louie Bellson, a drummer and bandleader. A drummer as part of the rhythm section is not normally associated with band or group leading, yet a few had very successful careers doing just that.

Chick Webb was as near the first of the drumming bandleaders of the Swing era. Born in 1905 with tuberculosis of the spine he grew up with a spinal deformation that gave him the appearance of a hunchback; the same disease finally killed him after a major operation at the age of 34. He had taken up drumming as a form of therapy.

He was known as the King of Swing having won a “battle of the big bands” contest with the likes of of Goodman and Basie as contestants. His style influenced Buddy Rich and others. He would make a wonderful counterpoint to all those youngsters today who want free stuff: he purchased his first set of drums from money earned doing a paper round - that itself with his condition must have been difficult, to say the least - and played professionally at 11. Ella Fitzgerald sang as a young woman with the band from ‘35 and after Chick's death she lead the band for some time before going solo.

Stompin’ at the Savoy (1934):

As so many from that period, Gene Krupa was more than an influential drummer: he was a composer actor band leader and, like Buddy Rich, a showman, something that was a must in the days of the Swing era when those big bands were the huge attraction for the general public.

Anyone who has a biopic made about him, as he did. has reached a level beyond just being a drummer. I can remember seeing "The Gene Krupa Story" as a teenager.

He is cited as a big influence in drummers becoming more than just apart of the rhythm section, being one of the first to use drum solos in his work. He was also instrumental in the development of drums and cymbals, as this piece from Wiki explains:

"In the 1930s, Krupa became the first endorser of Slingerland drums. At Krupa's urging, Slingerland developed tom-toms with tuneable top and bottom heads, which immediately became important elements of virtually every drummer's setup. Krupa developed and popularized many of the cymbal techniques that became standards. His collaboration with Armand Zildjian of the Avedis Zildjian Company developed the modern hi-hat cymbals and standardized the names and uses of the ride cymbal, crash cymbal, splash cymbal, pang cymbal, and swish cymbal. He is also credited with helping to formulate the modern drum set, being one of the first jazz drummers (for that recording studio) to use a bass drum, in a recording session in December 1927.[12] One of his bass drums, a Slingerland 14 X 26, inscribed with Benny Goodman's and Krupa's initials, is preserved at the Smithsonian museum in Washington, D.C."

This is with Benny Goodman's orchestra before he set up his own big band but contains in this hit from ‘37 an illustration of his drumming style and a featured Harry James on trumpet.

Sing Sing Sing:

Buddy Rich was very much a contemporary of Krupa. The ultimate showman, he was as much wanted in later life as a TV personality as he was a bandleader drummer. He always had an opinion on everything and was not one to sidestep being controversial. He was also a very hard taskmaster, demanding and getting the best from his musicians.

This TV interview from ‘71 will not please someone I know ! but is hilarious in his put-down of country music - he genuinely hated it:

And he maintained his opinion to the day he died….

During the medical therapy prior to his death, a nurse asked him whether he was allergic to anything, to which Rich replied "Yes, country and western music".

His Wiki page is a good read:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddy_Rich

There are numerous Youtube videos of Rich giving amazing drum solos, dancing, singing, showing off etc. Many regard him as the greatest drummer of all. He certainly gave value for money, but here with a drum solo he leads his band in ‘65 with "Cherokee":

One thing can be said with absolute certainty, Rich was never boring.

Another who started young was Louie Bellson. He was playing drums at three and went on to win a national Gene Krupa drum contest against 40,000 contestants. He also was bandleader, composer and later a jazz teacher, and was married to the singer and actress Pearl Bailey. He is also credited with the pioneering use of two bass drums. Although not known for primarily leading his own big band, he did work during the forties with Tommy Dorsey , Goodman, Harry James and Ellington. His writing and composition work was prolific and spanned all genres of music: he appeared on 200 albums and wrote 1000 pieces. His big band work was mainly on records or when touring in Europe and elsewhere.

As I have said before, most drum solos have me reaching for the off switch but these people are different, they are the masters of their craft. There are many examples of stupendous solos from many of these top guys with Rich having more than his share, rightly, but this is a short controlled piece of work from Bellson.

Skin Deep (1957):

Mel Lewis started in the big time by joining Kenton in ‘54. 1966 and a move to NY saw him team up with Thad Jones for the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra although it was not any more than informal get-together for many years until regular slots became available in ‘76. It became the Mel Lewis Orchestra when Thad Jones left for Denmark that year. Drummers are like goalkeepers, they are separate in many ways from the rest of the outfit, have a lot of quirks with their kit set up etc and Lewis was no exception with a very personal cymbal setup and later drums with differing drum skin covers from normal; all this, of course, to get the sound he wanted.

Here he is in ‘87 looking like a bank manager with the Mel Lewis Orchestra in Holland, playing Groove Merchant:

Of course those mainstays of be bop Roach and Blakey fronted groups of varying sizes as drummers. Both have had exposure on my earlier pieces so there is no need to do any biographies on them, just straight to the music.

This is Max Roach with his then wife Abbey Lincoln - I need no prompting to put up anything she did - with Driva Man from ‘64 and Roach’s album Freedom Suite:

Plus a classic Art Blakey driving number: A Night in Tunisia from his "Messengers of ‘58" with Lee Morgan trumpet, Benny Golson sax and Bobby Timmons piano:

Frequently overlooked as a “serious” jazz drummer, Shelly Manne most certainly was serious, but his debunking to the West Coast and being part of that cool jazz movement, and his albums (very successful) based on My Fair Lady and his association with Andre Previn made him in some eyes a lightweight. Nothing could be further from the truth. He was also at the forefront of music for the film industry and not only did he provide the music for "The Man With The Golden Arm", starring Frank Sinatra, but he was also an advisor in the film and afterwards was in much demand for percussive effects in films; and he also worked a lot with Henry Mancini.

After a career that started with Woody Herman and Stan Kenton, he virtually retired when jazz became less popular in the sixties-seventies. He owned a club in LA where he kept the jazz flag flying, it was inevitably called Shelly’s Manne Hole, and ran for years with many stars joining his club band. Whilst always returning to straight jazz he ventured into and experimented with ragtime, orchestral work and other areas of music. A drummer though he had to be as his father and uncles were all drummers; he was still experimenting and playing and recording right up to his last days.

Just Squeeze Me is from the fourth album of five that came from a very successful stint at the Blackhawk; always a tasteful, not forcing, drummer.

There have been other drummers who have been group leaders but not over time as these above. Great drummers though they are, the likes of Jo Jones, Roy Haynes etc were in the main always sidemen, even if very starred sidemen.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Protest - or revolution?

I'm not politically tribal, and I am disturbed by the suddenness and intensity of the "protests" that have sprung up in the wake of the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower.

For sure, there are questions to be asked. For example, I'm amazed that Grenfell residents were advised in a 2014 newsletter that "(unless there is a fire in your flat or in the hallway outside your flat) you should stay inside your flat." I've never seen that on a fire safety notice in any hotel room.

But protests are not spontaneous. They have to be organised. And in the picture above, culled from today's Daily Mail, the protest at St Clements' Church yesterday looks very organised.

By whom? Who are the placard-holders here, and why is the fellow at mid-right, front, wearing a copy of Socialist Worker like a tabard? Someone on the left has already got a printed T-shirt. That was fast.

We are in a very volatile period, and modern communications offer the chance to whip up trouble double-quick. When people protested and rioted in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, they did not have the right to vote. But now they do - and a third of them don't bother.

I'm suspicious of direct democracy. We need a representative democracy, but one that does listen and does try to act in the best interests of the country. Perhaps these dangerous signs are a measure of the failure of the current, gamed systems in our councils, regulatory organisations and the Palace of Westminster.

Friday, June 16, 2017

FRIDAY MUSIC: The original blues, by JD

This time an eclectic selection of the Blues from folk/blues where it all sprang from through to the modern era.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Why I voted Labour

Please don't splutter until you've heard me out.

In the first place, my vote had no chance of making any difference between 1984, when I came here, and 2010. Local demographics made this a rock-solid safe seat for Labour.

My first MP here was Roy Hattersley, and because it was safe, he made no local effort that I noticed. The only time I even heard his voice was in 1997 when he got his peerage and cruised the neighbourhood in a Tannoy car saying, in effect, "So long, and thanks for all the fish". Doubtless he did good work for his Party, possibly for the country, but I couldn't say he "represented" me.

He was succeeded by Labour's Roger Godsiff, who moved over when the then-safe Small Heath constituency was abolished. Again, he could count on most people's vote here, if not mine. So he stood and won in 1997, 2001 and 2005. In the latter year, he got a scare when George Galloway's Respect Party ran a fairly close second, and moved over to neighbouring Hall Green for GE 2010 when the boundaries were again redrawn. The Respect candidate pursued him but failed by a wider margin than before, and he's been comfortably returned a couple of times since.

Had I voted for Labour, I'd have got Labour; had I voted against Labour, I'd have got Labour.

What I actually did, in '97 and '05, was vote UKIP. For me it's always been about sovereignty, but of course if you are on Facebook you'll know that Ukippers are... [fill in long list of slurs]. Social media make me doubt the wisdom of a democratic system, to the extent that we have one [as Winston Churchill said, "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."]

2001 was different: by then I was convinced that Tony Blair was dangerously mad, so I voted Conservative for the first time in my life - merely to send the tiniest squeak of a message, and I'm sure it went entirely unnoticed.

The reorganisation of constituencies for GE 2010 set the cat among the pigeons. For the first time ever, I had candidates doorstepping me. Only two - Labour and Liberal Democrat, but that's two more than in the previous 26 years. The Labour fellow was clearly not the sharpest knife in the box and when he asked me about key issues and I said Europe, he tried to tell me that we had voted to join the EU in 1975. When I corrected him (we had voted to remain in the EEC) his female minder smirked at her pet's ignorance.

The LibDem asked the same question, got the same answer and his expression changed - oh dear, I was one of those. [Later, when he was my MP, he replied to one of my emails to assert that Parliament was indeed sovereign. I still don't know whether he actually believed that.] In any case, UKIP got my worthless vote yet again.

During this fellow's tenure, I spent some 18 months trying to get him to ask a question at Prime Minister's Question Time. Now like Dicken's Mrs Jellyby,  he was full of enthusiasm for all sorts of worthy liberal causes, but a one-minute question? No. Perhaps it was the fact that I wanted to ask when the Government was going to make inflation-proofed savings certificates available again, having withdrawn them as almost the first act of the Conservative-LibDem Coalition; the question would have been a potentially embarrassing litmus test of the Government's attitude to small savers and its commitment to contain inflation. So instead I got two Treasury Minister letters, both of them full of irrelevant waffle.

So much for representing me.

2015: UKIP for me again, but Labour regained the seat, probably as the electorate turned away from the LibDems in disgust at their complicity in the Conservatives' locally unpopular policies.

But what I got this time was a feisty local lass who actually polled her constituents before this year's GE to get their views on Brexit and the Single Market (actually four markets, all more or less damaging to our interests, but that's another story) - and reported back.

Imagine: an MP who makes an effort! [And one who told Diane Abbott to eff off, and when asked what the latter's response had been, said... she'd effed off.]

So I voted for her, this time.

Now she's also not a fan of Jeremy Corbyn (see last link), though even Peter Hitchens can understand why people might have turned to JC despite the increasingly hysterical Press campaign against him:

"It struck me as I watched him that he was far more dangerous than the Tories thought he was. His absolute courtesy and refusal to make personal attacks appealed to many in my generation who remember a different and in some ways better Britain.

"His realisation that George Osborne’s supposed economic miracle was a sham, and that many have lost hope of getting steady, well-paid jobs or secure homes, appealed to the young. He may not have any actual answers to these questions, but he at least knew they were being asked. His absolute opposition to the repeated stupid wars of recent years also has a wide appeal, in many cases to conservative-minded people and Service families sick of the waste of good lives."

Too right, especially on the last. [And as for the terrorists' friend stuff - who brokered the Good Friday Agreement? Not Jezza.] If this has buried New Labour, well and good. Blair and his Goebbels (1) threw away a golden, once in a generation opportunity to reshape our economy in 1997, preferring instead to start fighting the next election the day after the last one. All hail bankers, Russian mobsters and White Van Man. And personally, they did so well for themselves out of doing good for others, did they not?

I've decided that flawed as democracy may be - and more than it need be, seeing the 2011 collusion between the two major parties to prevent electoral reform - we ought to make the most of it. First, by asserting our sovereignty in the face of the empire-building Eurocracy; and then, by choosing politicians who take an interest in their own constituents.

When you vote in a General Election...

- you don't decide the Party leader - we saw that most recently with Gordon Brown and Theresa May
- you don't decide on a legally binding manifesto - Mrs May is even now gutting hers in the light of the election results
- you're merely one of some 70,000 registered voters in any case (2)
- and thanks to the rejection of any form of proportionate or transferable vote, you can't even express a partial approval of a second choice from the list

Perhaps Britain's problems are now insoluble by anyone, but for now, I shall reward with my wretched little votette the candidate who tries hardest to listen.

To quote the great man again: 'Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.'

(1) Truly a nasty character:

"Alastair Campbell, himself a former journalist for the Daily Mirror and Today, earned a reputation as a fearsome handler of the Press when he became Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesman. As a poacher-turned-gamekeeper, he knows the tricks of the journalists' trade, but his communication sources also yield him plenty of ammunition to keep the scribblers' heads down when he wants to; and the threat to Marr, via Campbell's blog, came swiftly:

""It was sad to see Marr, perhaps with an eye to a few Monday morning cuttings, feel that he had to raise blogosphere rumours about Gordon going blind, or being on heavy medication of some sort. I know it will give him the passing satisfaction of pats on the back from journos … But it was low stuff. I'm sure Andrew would agree that everyone has certain areas of their life that they'd prefer not to be asked about live on TV."

"That's how it works, and that's why people in Mr Marr's position need to tell the truth and shame the devil, for otherwise the devil will know how to build on the weakness."


(2) Though I note with unholy joy the upset in Kensington as a quango queen with a misplaced sense of entitlement lost her seat by 200 votes. "The only mention of Lady Borwick that crept into my Facebook feed during the weeks before the vote related to her campaigns in defence of the antique trade," says Josie Cox in today's The Independent.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

SUNDAY MUSIC: The Jazz Singer Part 2, by Wiggia

As I said in Part One, the likes of Sinatra will not have a place here, not because they shouldn’t be but simply because they require a piece on their own and they have been covered in depth for what seems like forever. I could add little to the many excellent biographies on the likes of Sinatra, Bennett and Nat King Cole, or little to their music, which is available in bucket loads everywhere, rightly so.

What I wanted to do was in this second part was to showcase some less well-known artists and some from the current era. The last is difficult as jazz singing for males (as opposed to females) is almost a lost art. Why I know not, other than alternative forms probably pay a lot more.

We start with one or two not-so-new artists.

The late Jimmy Scott (1925 – 2014) is unusual for one special reason: “His unusual singing voice was due to Kallmann syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that limited his height to 4 feet 11 inches (150 cm) until the age of 37, when he grew by 8 inches (20 cm). The syndrome prevented him from reaching puberty and left him with a high voice.“

Scott became prominent as the lead singer with Lionel Hampton and had a top R&B hit with Hampton in 1950 with Everybody's Somebody's Fool - for which he received no credit ! His career faded in the late sixties and he returned to more mundane work for quite a long period.

His career was kickstarted in ‘91 after singing at a funeral. In ‘92 his album All the Way was put forward for a Grammy award and several successful albums followed, some crossing into more popular areas. In his 65 year career he performed with many of the greats of the period: Parker, Marsalis, Sarah Vaughan, Mingus, Hampton, Bud Powell, Quincy Jones and more.

This is the best version available of his own composition “Holding Back the Years” (the live versions do not have the sound quality):

Andy Bey was allegedly Coltrane's favorite singer. Born in ‘39 he started out as a singer pianist and appeared on Connie Francis' television show Startime. At seventeen he started his own trio with his two sisters called, inevitably, Andy and the Bey Sisters, who toured Europe as a group  for 16 months. Later he did some good work with Horace Silver and Garry Bartz and Dee Dee Bridgewater, and won the best jazz vocalist for 2003, and his album American Song was forwarded for a Grammy in 2005.

A wide ranging baritone voice is put to good use here with Never Let Me Go from the American Song album. He always reminds me of being a male Sarah Vaughan or Abbey Lincoln, which can’t be bad:

Difficult to believe that Mark Murphy who died in ‘15 was 83; like so many, he seemed to us as we get older to be a contemporary - worrying !

Another from a musical family, he learned the piano at seven and joined his brother's jazz dance group as the singer. He majored at uni in music and drama and performed on campus. After moving to NY in ‘54 he did work where he could find it as an actor and singer. His debut album for Decca, Meet Mark Murphy, sold well and he then moved to LA recording for Capitol before returning to NY and Riverside Records. His best jazz albums, Rah! (1961) and his favourite album That's How I love the Blues (1963), were for that label.

Between ‘63 and ‘72 he lived in England, working mainly as an actor, though still singing in clubs and on radio. He returned to the States where he recorded an album a year for fourteen years. In the mid-eighties there was a change in direction as he started to record Brazilian-based music. He continued to work into his eighties.

Stolen Moments:

Of all the more contemporary singers Kurt Elling stands out as the one who has in a word cracked it. He started in a family with church music and learned to play several instruments, he sang in his college choir and toured with them and became interested in jazz after hearing Brubeck, Dexter Gordon, Herbie Hancock and Ella Fitzgerald.

At the start in Chicago he had to work part time as a barman and other jobs to pay the bills. In ‘95 he put together a tape of nine songs that he sent to Blue Note records where his debut album Close Your Eyes was nominated for a Grammy. He did a total of six albums for Blue Note then signed for Concord in 2006 where he remains today.

Elling has been the jazz singer in modern times. His poll-winning and awards are up there with the best. His delivery, smooth sound and timing are unquestionably spot on, but for me there has always been something missing. Is it the fact almost every number he sings sounds the same: the same tempo, the same delivery? This number is his most acclaimed and here he sings with the Sydney Orchestra. It makes no difference that he is not with a small jazz group as it sounds the same, very accomplished, but judge for yourselves:

A couple of lesser-knowns to finish. Well known in jazz circles but in the wide world outside not so much, Kevin Mahogany: his Wiki entry is quite short so a link is better than retyping parts on here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Mahogany

A big man with a voice near to Joe Williams' (an insider's favourite), here he is live in ‘91 singing My Foolish Heart/Green Dolphin Street with the Ray Brown Trio:

Sachal Vasandani is not a well-known name over here. Born in Chicago in ‘78 he studied at the University of Michigan where he studied jazz and classical music. Originally he sang with Wynton Marsalis. His first album Eyes Wide Open was a success and his second in ‘09 We Move received critical acclaim; he also composes.

No More Tears:

What strikes me from the last three, and it is a purely personal view, is that there is little excitement. It is all very polished, crafted and delivered in a fault free style; there is none of the range put out by the likes of Torme or Sinatra and others. It is almost monotone, and maybe that is why the male jazz singer at this moment in time is in hibernation. We await someone who will get the old mojo going; at the moment, that is not likely.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Yet again, a victory for the wacko voting system

Labour got 262 seats out of the 650 in Parliament, on the basis of 40% of votes cast nationally. 40% of 650 seats is 260, so the actual result is a fair approximation, this time.

But although the Conservatives polled 42.4%, which proportionally should have given them 276 seats, actually they got 318 = 42 bonus Members of Parliament! 

So now they're getting back into bed with Ulster Protestants to make a workable coalition. What effect that will have in Northern Irish politics, who knows.

The system doesn't even work within individual constituencies, as I discussed six years ago*. In the 2005 General Election, only 220 MPs out of 650 obtained a majority of votes cast by their constituents; in 2010, only 217.

I expect it will turn out to be a similar picture when the results of this fiasco become available.

No wonder the inhabitants of The Bubble hate plebiscites like the EU Referendum; they're so used to gaming the usual rotten setup.