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Archive for May, 2015

For today’s blog I thought I would do something a little different, post the Buddy Holly song “Words of Love” and also the wonderful Beatles’ cover of it which is on their 1964 album “Beatles for Sale”.

Buddy Holly was very much the idol of both John Lennon and Paul McCartney, in fact Lennon always claimed that the name “Beatles” was a play on “Beetles” inspired by the insects in “Buddy Holly and the Crickets”, but with the “Beetles” changed to “Beatles” to emphasise that it was “beat music”. It is therefore somewhat surprising that they only recorded one Buddy Holly song on any of their albums, and this song is it. Some people have said that this is because they held Buddy Holly in such high regard that they did not feel worthy of covering his songs.



Buddy Holly recorded “Words of Love in April 1957, it was released as a single in June 1957



Hold me close and tell me how you feel
Tell me love is real
Words of love you whisper soft and true
Darling I love you

Let me hear you say the words I long to hear
Darling when you’re near
Words of love you whisper soft and true
Darling I love you


Here is the original Buddy Holly version of the song





Here is the Beatles’ version of this song. What I particularly like about The Beatles’ version is the lovely harmonies. In fact, if you want to hear fantastic three-part harmony singing, listen to their albums “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Beatles for Sale”.





On their first four albums The Beatles did several covers of 1950s songs. Which is your favourite of their covers?

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On Tuesday I summarised the surprise results of the DUK’s general election, today I will look at the results in a little more detail. I will finish this series of blogs next week, when I discuss how the results would have looked if the DUK used a different form of voting to the current ‘first past the post’ system.

The results in England

Below is a summary of the results in England – of the 533 seats in England the Conservative won 319 (59.8%), Labour 206 (38.6%), Lib Dems 6 (1.1%), UKIP 1 (0.025%) and the Green Pary 1 (0.025%). In terms of percentages of the vote, the Conservative party won 41% of the vote, Labour 31.6%, the Lib-Dems 8.2%, UKIP 14.1% (more than the Lib-Dems, even though they only got 1 seat) and the Green Party 4.2%.



The electoral map for England. As can be seen, most of England is a sea of blue, with Labour confined mainly to the urban areas of London, greater Manchester, Merseyside and Tyneside in the north-east.

The electoral map for England. As can be seen, most of England is a sea of blue, with Labour confined mainly to the urban areas of London, greater Manchester, Merseyside and Tyneside in the north-east.



If we zoom in on London even more we can see how few Tory seats there are in the Greater London area. It is an island of red in a sea of Tory blue.



London is predominantly Labour, but is surrounded by a sea of blue Conservative seats

London is predominantly Labour, but is surrounded by a sea of blue Conservative seats



The biggest change since 2010 was the percentage of the vote which went to the Lib-Dems, their share of the vote dropped by 16%. Conversely, UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party, whose main policy is to withdraw the UK from the European Union) improved their share of the vote by 10.7% in England.



The percentage of the vote for each party in England.

The percentage of the vote for each party in England.



The results in Scotland

As I mentioned in my blog on Tuesday, the result in Scotland was, for me, the biggest surprise of the 2015 general election. Although, to be fair to the pollsters, many were predicting that the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) would win most of the seats in Scotland, I personally expected it to maybe around half of the 59 seats, not the 56 that they won. The three main UK parties have been reduced to just one seat each, with Labour being all but wiped out from Scotland. Their losses in Scotland are the main reason that Labour actually have fewer seats than they won in the 2010 election.



The electoral map for Scotland, where the SNP swept the board, all but wiping out three main UK parties who are left with one seat each

The electoral map for Scotland, where the SNP swept the board, all but wiping out the three main UK parties who are left with one seat each



With 50% of the vote, the SNP won 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats (95%), Labour got 24.3% of the vote but won only 1 seat (1.7%), the Conservatives got 14.9% of the vote but also won only 1 seat (1.7%), and the Lib-Dems got 7.5% of the vote but got only 1 seat (1.7%). Although UKIP obtained 1.6% of the vote and the Greens 1.3% of the vote; neither won a seat in Scotland.



The percentage of the vote for each party in Scotland. The SNP got 50% of the vote, but because of the 'first past the post' system, won 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland.

The percentage of the vote for each party in Scotland. The SNP got 50% of the vote, but because of the ‘first past the post’ system, won 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland.



The surge in support for the SNP has been truly remarkable, up 30% from the 2010 general election. As I mentioned on Tuesday, this is particularly surprising given the ‘no’ vote in last September’s Scottish independence referendum. Rather than the SNP’s support going down since that ‘no’ vote, it has actually increased and they are now the dominant party in Scotland by some margin. It will be interesting to see how they get on in next May’s Scottish parliament elections, where they are already the majority party. Will they sweep the board there too? Well, in fact, they are highly unlikely to do so; because some of the seats in the Scottish Parliament are determined by proportional representation (in Wales, 30 of the 60 seats in the Welsh Assembly are determined by PR). Assuming half the seats in the Scottish Parliament are also determined by PR, the chances of their having 95% of the seats there are very small; but they may well increase their majority.

The results in Wales

In Wales, Labour remain the dominant party. They won 25 of the 40 seats, with the Conservatives winning 11 (3 more than in 2010). Plaid Cymru held on to their 3 seats, but the Lib Dems were reduced from 3 seats to now only 1.

The electoral map for Wales, which remains predominantly Labour. Plaid Cymru retained their three seats, but the Lib Dems lost two of their three seats to the Conservatives, who also won a seat from Labour in the north-east of Wales.

The electoral map for Wales, which remains predominantly Labour. Plaid Cymru retained their three seats, but the Lib Dems lost two of their three seats to the Conservatives, who also won a seat from Labour in the north-east of Wales to gain 3 seats overall.



Wales has been predominantly Labour ever since the Labour party was formed in the early 1900s. It has never voted for a large number of Conservative MPs, in fact the current 11 could be the highest it has held in Wales. Does anybody know? In contrast, after the 1997 General Election (when Tony Blair swept to power), the Tories had no seats at all in Wales.

A surprising result for me in Wales was that the Conservative percentage of the vote (27.2%) actually increased from the 2010 general election result, but clearly the big losers in Wales were the Lib-Dems, who lost two seats and are now left with only one seat in Wales. Their percentage of the vote dropped by -13.6%, and UKIP’s vote surged by 11.2%, although because of the first past the post system they did not win any seats. Plaid Cymru had targeted Ynys Môn (the island of Anglesey) as a seat they could win, but Labour held on to it, albeit with a small majority of only 229 (Plaid increased its vote and Labour’s share went down, but it was not quite enough for Plaid to take it).



The percentage of the votes in Wales. Despite UKIP winning 13.6% of the vote, they did not win any seats. This is the first time UKIP have obtained more votes than Plaid Cymru

The percentage of the votes in Wales. Despite UKIP winning 13.6% of the vote, they did not win any seats. This is the first time UKIP have obtained more votes than Plaid Cymru



Labour’s share of the vote in Wales was 36.9%, up slightly from the 2010 election, but they lost two of their seats to the Conservatives – including the seat of Gower in west Wales which is the first time this seat has not been Labour in over 100 years. The Lib-Dems lost two seats, including one in Cardiff, which they lost to Labour. The other two seats the Conservatives gained was a Lib-Dem seat in mid-Wales and a Labour seat in north-east Wales.

The results in Northern Ireland

Politics in Northern Ireland is very different to that in the rest of the Disunited Kingdom. Labour and the Lib-Dems do not stand for election in NI, and even the Conservative party are a tiny minority. Politics there is dominated by parties which are not found anywhere else, and are split between ‘unionist’ parties (parties which want NI to remain part of the United Kingdom), and ‘republican’ parties (parties which want to see NI leave the United Kingdom and re-unite with the rest of Irish). Sinn Fein, who won four seats (down one seat from 2010) do not take up their seats in Westminster as they refuse to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen.



The electoral map in Northern Ireland. The only 'British' party which stands in Northern Ireland is the Conservative Party, so most of the parties in NI are not found in other countries of the DUK

The electoral map in Northern Ireland. The only ‘British’ parties which stand in Northern Ireland are the Conservative Party, UKIP and the Greens, so most of the parties dominant in NI are not found in other countries of the DUK



The main gains in NI were made by the Ulster Unionist Party, who won two seats and went from having zero MPs in the 2010 to now having two. Sinn Fein (the Irish Nationalist Party) lost one seat to go down to four seats.



The percentage of the votes for each party in Northern Ireland

The percentage of the votes for each party in Northern Ireland



Concluding remarks

Next week, I will discuss how different the House of Commons would be if the Disunited Kingdom were to use proportional representation rather than the current ‘first past the post’ system. It is clear from the details of the general election results above that the make-up would be quite different. I think the results of this election are amongst the most surprising of any general election I can remember, and I feel that they have created more interest in politics than there has been for a couple of decades. After saying that, the percentage of people who did not vote (33.9%) is larger than the percentage won by the Conservatives (24.4%), and this is clearly a worry. The Scottish referendum had a voter turnout of over 80%, so this general election’s turnout of 66.1% is not great. Should voting be compulsory, like it is in Australia?

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At number 9 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 greatest songs of all time is “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. This song was released in September 1991, and I distinctly remember hearing it for the first time on the radio. It wasn’t really like any song I had heard before, and I liked it straight away. The song got to number 7 in the Disunited Kingdom, and to number 6 in the US.

I went on to buy “Nevermind”, the album from which the song is taken, and it is still one of my favourite albums of the 1990s. I blogged about Nevermind here, as it is at number 17 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums. I also blogged about this song in that post, but you can’t get too much of such a wonderful song.

The grunge-sound which Nirvana spearheaded became the sound of the early 1990s, but with Kurt Cobain’s sad suicide in April 1994 the band came to an abrupt end.



At number 30 in Rolling Stone Magazine's '500 Greatest Songs of all Time' is "I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash.

At number 9 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s ‘500 Greatest Songs of all Time’ is “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana.




Load up on guns, bring your friends
It’s fun to lose and to pretend
She’s over bored and self assured
Oh no, I know a dirty word

Hello, hello, hello, how low? [x3]
Hello, hello, hello!

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us
A mulatto
An albino
A mosquito
My libido
Yeah, hey, yay

I’m worse at what I do best
And for this gift I feel blessed
Our little group has always been
And always will until the end

Hello, hello, hello, how low? [x3]
Hello, hello, hello!

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us
A mulatto
An albino
A mosquito
My libido
Yeah, hey, yay

And I forget just why I taste
Oh yeah, I guess it makes me smile
I found it hard, it’s hard to find
Oh well, whatever, never mind

Hello, hello, hello, how low? [x3]
Hello, hello, hello!

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us
A mulatto
An albino
A mosquito
My libido

A denial! [x9]


Here is the official video of this amazing song. Enjoy!






Which is your favourite Nirvana song?

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Last Thursday (7th of May) the (Dis)United Kingdom had a general election, and much to everyone’s surprise the Conservative Party won an overall majority in the House of Commons. Leading up to election day all of the opinion polls were putting the two main parties, the Conservative Party and the Labour Party, equal on 33-34% of the vote each; and so all the predictions were of their being a hung-parliament with no party having an overall majority. This had been the case since the last General Election in 2010, with the Conservatives governing in coalition with the Liberal Democrats; having failed then to secure an overall majority.

The first signs that the opinion polls had got it wrong was when the exit poll was released at 10pm, the moment that polls closed. The exit polls predicted an overall majority for the Conservatives, but many pundits refused to believe that the opinion polls could be so wrong. Former Lib-Dem leader Paddy Ashdown said he would “eat his hat” on TV if the exit polls proved to be correct.


The front page of the early edition of the Independent newspaper, reporting the exit poll's prediction of an unexpected majority for the Conservative Party

The front page of the early edition of the Independent newspaper, reporting the exit poll’s prediction of an unexpected majority for the Conservative Party


When all the results were finally in on the morning of Friday the 8th, the results were quite shocking. The fact that the Conservatives had won an overall majority was one of the shocks, but probably the biggest shock was the result from Scotland where the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) won 56 of the 59 seats. The new political map of the Disunited Kingdom is shown below.


The new political map of the (Dis)United Kingdom. Conservatives are blue, Labour red, SNP yellow, Liberal Democrats orange, Plaid Cymru green. I will discuss each country's results in more detail on Thursday.

The new political map of the (Dis)United Kingdom. Conservatives are blue, Labour red, SNP yellow, Liberal Democrats orange, Plaid Cymru green. I will discuss each country’s results in more detail on Thursday.


The number of seats held by each party is shown below.


The Conservatives won 331 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, Labour won 232 seats, the SNP won 56 seats, the Liberal Democrats 8 seats, the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland also won 8 seats, and the “others” are Plaid Cymru (3), UKIP (1), Green Party (1), Sinn Fein (4), Social Democratic and Labour Party (3), Ulster Unionist Party (2) and “Other” (1).


Because the United Kingdom general election uses the “first past the post” system (which I will explain more in a blog later this week), the percentages of the vote each party got is poorly related to how many seats each party won. Below is a graph of the percentage of the vote won by each party, and the change from the 2010 election.


The final results of the 2015 General Election; the Conservative party won 3xx seats, giving them a majority of xx seats in the 650-seat House of Commons

The percentage of the vote won by each party. Because of the “first past the post” system (which I will explain in more detail on Thursday), the percentages do not correlate well with the number of seats won in the House of Commons. Also, note that the percentage quoted here for the SNP is misleading, as they only stand in Scotland, where they actually obtained 50% of the vote.


The SNP sweeps the board in Scotland

For me, the biggest surprise of the election was the result in Scotland, of the 59 seats the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) won 56. Labour, who had been the dominant party there for most of the last hundred years, were all but wiped out; and this was the main reason that Labour’s number of seats in the House of Commons fell from the 2010 election. Each of the three main parties (Conservatives, Labour and Lib-Dems) now have only one seat each in Scotland.

Given that the referendum for Scottish independence last September returned a “no” vote (55% to 45%), the rise of the SNP since then is remarkable. I am sure most pundits would have expected the SNP’s fortunes to fall after they failed to win a “yes” vote on Scottish independence, but instead their popularity has soared. I am sure the post-referendum rise of the SNP will be the subject of many studies over the next several years.

Quite what this overwhelming SNP result in Scotland will mean for the cause of Scottish independence we shall have to wait and see. The SNP campaigned on a promise of stopping the ruling party in London from continuing with austerity, which both the Conservatives and Labour felt was necessary to reduce the deficit. But, with the Tories now having an overall majority, how much can the SNP actually do to influence David Cameron’s new government?

Is the majority really 12?

Various websites refer to the Conservatives as having a 12-seat majority. This is certainly the case if one simply takes their total number of seats (331) and subtracts the number of seats held by other parties (319). But, this simple calculation has always puzzled me for several reasons.

The first reason is that Sinn Fein, the Irish Nationalist Party, do not take their seats in the House of Commons as they do not recognise its right to rule Northern Ireland and they also refuse to swear allegiance to the Queen. In this election, Sinn Fein won 4 seats, but as they will never vote on anything in the House of Commons this reduces the number in the opposition ranks from 319 to 315. This would give the Conservatives an effective majority of 331-315=16.

The second reason is that the House of Commons has a speaker and three deputy speakers. By tradition, none of these four votes on any legislation, even though they are included in the total numbers mentioned above. The current speaker is John Bercow, who is a Conservative MP, and so is included in the 331 total number of seats the Conservatives have, but as he cannot vote this effectively reduces the Conservative seats to 330. I am not sure who the three deputies will be in the new Parliament, but they do not necessarily come from the majority party. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that one will come from each of the main parties. So, this would reduce the number of Tories to 329, and the number in opposition to 313, leaving a majority of 329-313=16, which is certainly a large enough majority for the Conservatives to be able to pass all the legislation they wish to do, unless of course they face back-bench revolts.

On Thursday I will discuss the results in each of the four countries in the DUK in more detail, and also how different the make-up of the Commons would have been if the DUK used proportional representation instead of the “first past the post” system.

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At number 10 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs is “What’d I say” by Ray Charles. This song was released in 1959 and marked Charles’ cross-over from Rhythm ‘n’ Blues to main-stream pop. The beginnings of the song were actually written live on stage by Charles as be improvised with his band during a concert in 1958.



At number 30 in Rolling Stone Magazine's '500 Greatest Songs of all Time' is "I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash.

At number 10 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s ‘500 Greatest Songs of all Time’ is “What’d I Say” by Ray Charles.



The song was criticised for its “sexual content”, but in an interview in 1978 Charles said that the “moaning” was nothing to be embarrassed about, it’s how we all got started! 😉


Hey mama, don’t you treat me wrong
Come and love your daddy all night long
All right now, hey hey, all right
See the girl with the diamond ring
She knows how to shake that thing
All right now now now, hey hey, hey hey
Tell your mama, tell your pa
I’m gonna send you back to Arkansas
Oh yes, ma’m, you don’t do right, don’t do right
Aw, play it boy
When you see me in misery
Come on baby, see about me
Now yeah, all right, all right, aw play it, boy
When you see me in misery
Come on baby, see about me
Now yeah, hey hey, all right
See the girl with the red dress on
She can do the Birdland all night long

Yeah yeah, what’d I say, all right
Well, tell me what’d I say, yeah
Tell me what’d I say right now
Tell me what’d I say
Tell me what’d I say right now
Tell me what’d I say
Tell me what’d I say yeah

And I wanna know
Baby I wanna know right now
And-a I wanna know
And I wanna know right now yeah
And-a I wanna know
Said I wanna know yeah

[Spoken:] Hey, don’t quit now! (c’mon honey)
Naw, I got, I uh-uh-uh, I’m changing (stop! stop! we’ll do it again)
Wait a minute, wait a minute, oh hold it! Hold it! Hold it!
Hey (hey) ho (ho) hey (hey) ho (ho) hey (hey) ho (ho) hey
Oh one more time (just one more time)
Say it one more time right now (just one more time)
Say it one more time now (just one more time)
Say it one more time yeah (just one more time)
Say it one more time (just one more time)
Say it one more time yeah (just one more time)

Hey (hey) ho (ho) hey (hey) ho (ho) hey (hey) ho (ho) hey
Ah! Make me feel so good (make me feel so good)
Make me feel so good now yeah (make me feel so good)
Woah! Baby (make me feel so good)
Make me feel so good yeah (make me feel so good)
Make me feel so good (make me feel so good)
Make me feel so good yeah (make me feel so good)
Huh (huh) ho (ho) huh (huh) ho (ho) huh (huh) ho (ho) huh
Awh it’s all right (baby it’s all right)
Said that it’s all right right now (baby it’s all right)
Said that it’s all right (baby it’s all right)
Said that it’s all right yeah (baby it’s all right)
Said that it’s all right (baby it’s all right)
Said that it’s all right (baby it’s all right)

Woah! Shake that thing now (baby shake that thing)
Baby shake that thing now now (baby shake that thing)
Baby shake that thing (baby shake that thing)
Baby shake that thing right now (baby shake that thing)
Baby shake that thing (baby shake that thing)
Baby shake that thing (baby shake that thing)
Woah! I feel all right now yeah (make me feel all right)
Said I feel all right now (make me feel all right)
Woooah! (make me feel all right)
Tell you I feel all right (make me feel all right)
Said I feel all right (make me feel all right)
Baby I feel all right (make me feel all right)


Here is a video of this great song. Enjoy!





Which is your favourite Ray Charles song?

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