Wednesday, 28 March 2012


Local Conservative MP Roger Gale has upset the gay and LGBT community by writing a full-page article in Thanet Extra last week in which he disclosed his opposition to equal marriage and had a dig at so-called 'militant homosexuals'. This revelation shouldn't really come as a surprise, given Gale's voting record on the issue of equal rights for gay people, as pointed out by Labour councillor Will Scobie on his blog. 

In Roger Gale's opinion piece, he makes the ludicrous suggestion that Shakespeare may be re-written if the law enables homosexuals to marry and even fell into the trap of peddling the usual Daily Mail-esque paranoia about the words 'husband' and 'wife' being expunged from the British lexicon. Quite predictably, Roger Gale now finds himself subjected to a big splash of negative publicity on gay news website Pink News. In particular, the news item was subsequently picked up by LGBT news website Unicorn Booty; and Craig Ford on Gay Rights Network wrote: "This laughable attempt at demonising equality for the sake of tradition serves to benefit neither camp."

Roger Gale did write that he expected to "be described by some of my own constituents and by the wider gay community as homophobic and prejudiced" and this evening he even appeared on BBC South East and attempted to defend his position. But what on earth possessed him to write such an inflammatory article in the first place, if he knew it was going to cause such a fevered outcry? Did Gale not realise that this could impact negatively on his public profile, something which he should've been mindful of, not just because he's an MP, but also given that he's recently been granted a knighthood

The peculiar thing is Gale appears to justify his position by citing his religious beliefs, even though he himself has been divorced twice. I don't want to disparage anyone of faith, but according to the 'holy law' Gale speaks of, divorcees are looked upon with much the same derision as homosexuals in the Bible. In Matthew (19:19), it states: "I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery." So, according to scripture, getting divorced and re-marrying makes you an adulterer, even if you didn't engage in sexual immorality. I'm no scholar, but I can't really see how that quote can be interpreted any other way. 

Therefore, since 'thou shalt not commit adultery' is one of the Ten Commandments, it does beg the question - what sort of position is Roger Gale in to lecture others on the sanctity of marriage? I'd say none. Besides, nothing the government is proposing says anything about same-sex couples getting married in a church - it's enabling them to engage in civil marriage in registry offices, and I honestly can't see the problem with this. Obviously, as a heterosexual man who supports equal marriage, I'm bound to take this view, a perspective which I happen to share with my girlfriend for that matter. I'm sure many others will agree that Roger Gale has made a gross error in dropping this doodlebug into the gay rights debate, something which I'm sure will only serve to undermine the Conservative position on equal marriage. 

Meanwhile, Cllr Ian Driver is moving a motion in support of equal marriage at a meeting at Thanet Council on 19 April. This will make TDC the first council in the UK to vote on the issue of same-sex couples being able to marry. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, if the motion is broadly supported by local councillors and the vote goes in favour of equal marriage, it could set a good precendent to other local government bodies and will give our council some positive media publicity, perhaps even on a national level. 

However, if the motion at TDC gets rejected or - worse still - the outcome of the voting is one of outright opposition to same-sex marriages, it could backfire and impact negatively upon the council's reputation. So, it could go either way. Obviously, I hope the vote goes in a favourable direction, as the last thing we want is our council being slammed in the national press for being institutionally 'homophobic' and giving TDC the unenviable title of 'the only council in the UK to oppose to equal marriage.' I guess we'll just have to wait and see which way it goes. 

A public meeting in support of equal marriage will be held on 12 April at Margate Media Centre from 7.00-9.00pm and will be chaired by Cllr Ian Driver. The meeting will feature local speakers and representatives from Stonewall have been invited to attend. Find out more info here

Image © Sara Bassett via Flickr and licensed for reuse. The inclusion of the image is not an endorsement of this post.

Saturday, 24 March 2012


James will be headlining the first day of Sound Island Festival 2012 at Quex Park in Birchington on Saturday 28th July this year. They'll be topping the bill in a lineup which includes a handful of prominent Britpop and Madchester bands, so I for one am tremendously excited since I was far too young to catch most of these bands in their heyday, which is a shame because Britpop was the first contemporary musical genre which captured my imagination as a kid.

The festival promoters have really outdone themselves by managing to book James as headliners as they really are masters of their craft and I'm a huge fan of their music. Lead singer Tim Booth is a lyricist only matched by Morrissey in witty coins of phrase and quintessentially British eccentricity. I defy any oddball kid who never quite felt they fit in at school to listen to 'Sit Down' and not feel like it's a call to arms - I know I did. I chose to show you the music video for 'Destiny Calling' as I feel it's a sublime example of how James have shown that musicians don't need to sacrifice their social conscience, their intelligence or their intellectual insight in order to have a hit single, as well as being delightfully ironic and subversive into the bargain. It's probably my favourite song of theirs.

Echo & The Bunnymen
The post-punk icons Echo & The Bunnymen are a pre-Smiths band who I didn't really get into until a few years ago. Like most people my age, I first heard of them when 'The Killing Moon' was featured on the Donnie Darko soundtrack back in 2001. I think they're a very underrated band - I borrowed a copy of their greatest hits album More Songs to Learn and Sing from Margate Library recently and their songs have definitely stood the test of time. It will be great to see them run through their back catalogue at Quex Park. What's the betting that Ian McCulloch will be moping around wearing a trench coat and a pair of sunglasses, even if it's rains (which I hope it doesn't!)?!

For most of the late 1990s, Cast were a band who I really enjoyed listening to, particularly their debut album All Change. Rising to prominence after Oasis became mega-stars, Cast churned out some excellent Top 10 singles such as "Flying" (see below) which I remember seeing on TV and being puzzled as to why it wasn't on my copy of All Change. I have to admit, I was very lucky to first get into music at a time when Britpop was in vogue. Listening to bands like Cast who were so influenced by British Invasion sounds really widened my musical tastes and enabled me to discover bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. I mean, come on, isn't it better I was listening to this sort of stuff at school than the bloomin' Spice Girls?!

Inspiral Carpets
Perhaps unfortunately, Inspiral Carpets will forever be known as 'the band who used to have Noel Gallagher as a roadie.' And yes, that is 100% true, long before he found fame in Oasis, Noel Gallagher used to join Inspiral Carpets on tour and oversee their gigs as a technician, helping them set up on stage. Even though Oasis eventually eclipsed the Inspiral Carpets, it's unfair to overlook them, as if nothing else I reckon the Inspiral Carpets managed the impossible feat of making the Farfisa organ cool again, bringing it back into fashion for probably the first time since the mid-1960s. I can't wait to see if "This Is How It Feels" sounds as epic as it does here:

The Farm
Everybody's heard "All Together Now" haven't they? Cribbing its melody from a piece of classical music by Johann Pachelbel and with production being overseen by Suggs from Madness, this Madchester dance tune hit #4 in the UK Singles Chart in 1990, and was eventually re-released in the early noughties in a bid to become a football anthem for Euro 2004. Since then, it has been used for Cancer Research UK's Race for Live adverts, so there's no excuse if you haven't heard it. Unless you've been living under a rock, of course.

The Britpop band Space have a very special place in my heart. Since I got given my first CD player in Christmas 1995 (along with a giftwrapped copy of "Wonderwall by Oasis), I seem to remember that 1996 was the first year I started buying my own music with my pocket money. This was back in the days when you had to buy singles on CD, and I remember walking into Sound House in Deal at age 10 and asking if they had the song "Neighbourhood" by Space in stock after I saw this music video (see below) on ITV's The Chart Show. Thankfully, they did. See, even as a child I had eccentric tastes. Enjoy.

If you want to book tickets, please visit I'm not going to tell you how much they cost. That's for you to find out. Just promise me you'll do one thing - don't buy too many tickets because I haven't even bought mine yet and will be furious if it sells out, okay?! Good. Job done. 

Image of James performing at House of Blues © Alyse & Remi via Flickr and licensed for reuse. The inclusion of the image is not an endorsement of this post.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


George Osborne's budget stinks. I'm completely flabbergasted by the news about tax credits. According to The Guardian's 2012 budget personal calculator, my girlfriend and I will be £435.74p better off after today's announcements. However, if I earned just a little bit more money, we would be £244.26p worse off due to the slashing of tax credits. Doesn't this hamper social mobility? How is anyone supposed to progress up the social ladder? Is this what you call encouraging aspiration, Mr. Osborne? I think not.

How is it even possible to be 'better off' staying in a lower paid job than taking on a higher paid one? What sort of government thinks that it is 'fair' to discourage working couples on low incomes who claim tax credits against earning a higher salary for fear of being 'worse off' than they would be earning much less? The only loophole in Osborne's revamped tax credit system seems to be... have more kids. The calculator suggests having a baby tends to bring tax credits up so that people end up being ever-so-slightly 'better off' again. Obviously, that still wouldn't cover childcare costs, etc., etc.

This 'budget for working families' - particularly on the tax credit front - is a sham. Working families should not live in fear of daddy getting offered a pay rise. In my opinion, getting a job with a higher salary should always make people at least slightly better off than they were before, but what Osborne's approach to tax credits does is prevent that from happening. It kills all hope for self-betterment. But then again, did you expect anything less?!

Image © HM Treasury via Flickr and licensed for reuse. The inclusion of this image is not an endorsement of this post.