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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Musical Keys and Other Stuff

Musical Keys, Cricket, Photography and some links.

INTRODUCTION

The title of this post refers to Saturday’s Musical Keys session at the Scout Hut on Beulah Street (a place that by now is almost as familiar to me as my own humble abode such is the number of events I have attended there). I also have plenty of other stuff to share.

MUSICAL KEYS

Having missed the previous Musical Keys session because I was attending the “Marxism and Nature” Day School in London (well done to the International Socialism Journal team, you organised a great event) I was anticipating this session more eagerly than usual. Then came the news that the branch chair would probably not be able to attend as her son was playing up, which meant that I would be the sole NAS West Norfolk committee member present.

THE WALK THERE

I decided to go via Bawsey Drain (there was no decision to make as regards the mode of transport although it is a longish walk) and I was able to  take some pictures along the way.

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Another splendid tree (to see lots of tree pics visit Anna’s blog and look at some of the recent posts there)

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The outside of the scout hut.
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This section of path has recently been resurfaced.

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THE SESSION ITSELF

I was specifically requested to take pictures during this session by John and Kirsten, who run the sessions for Musical Keys. Therefore I have lots of pictures. The session began with the focus exclusively on a kind of wooden drum, shaped like a three dimensional capital T, which had been cunningly wired up to a computer.

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How this wooden instrument was wired up to a computer.

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Later in the session people were encouraged to try other instruments – two electronic keyboards were available and both were used, I sampled an acoustic guitar and also an electric bass guitar, and a single drum was available for most of the session, with the full set (which tends to drown out everything else) in action for the last few minutes.

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The keyboards being played.
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A stand alone drum

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The range of guitars.
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A couple of close-ups of the particular acoustic guitar that I played.

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The full drum set ready for action
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The drum set in use.
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Kirsten (one of the two people who run the sessions) playing an acoustic guitar.

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BANGLADESH – ENGLAND SERIES

The result of the second match in this two match series, which I celebrated here, was splendid not just for Bangladesh, but also for cricket as a whole. England now head for a five match series in India, where they can confidently expect every pitch to be turning from minute one of every match (and can have no complaints given the number of times they have had sub-continental teams play on green seamers at places such as Durham and Leeds early in the English season). Frankly having seen how England have handled spin friendly conditions in Bangladesh, India should probably reckon that any series outcome other than 5-0 to them is a disappointment.

England this series have been exposed in several areas:

  • Top order batting – in four completed innings the top five contributed only three individual scores above 50 between them, one a piece for Joe Root, Moeen Ali and Ben Duckett. Cook’s 39 in his final innings of the series was his best effort, while Ballance failed badly in all four innings, being out to a particularly gruesome shot in the final one.
  • Spin bowling – of the four front-line spinners played by England in this series (Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Zafar Ansari and Gareth Batty) none produced a really convincing performance overall, although Moeen Ali took five wickets during Bangladesh’s collapse from 170-1 to 220 all out in the first innings at Dhaka and Rashid 4-52 in second innings of that same match. England, in a spin dominated series, were saved from complete embarrassment by Ben Stokes who captured 11 wickets at 10.09 to be their joint leading wicket taker, as well as being their leading run scorer.
  • Captaincy – Alastair Cook had an even poorer series in this respect than he did with the bat. Whenever the spinners were bowling they had right from the word go fielders at deep long off and at deep point – meaning that singles were always easily obtainable. These field setting seem horribly like covering the bad ball (of which it must be said there were far too many from all of England’s spinners).

I am going to finish this section with individual player ratings for all those used by England (the player of the series on either side was Mehedi of Bangladesh btw).

Alastair Cook (C): a poor series with the bat and a poorer one as captain. Rating 3/10.

Ben Duckett: looked unconvincing in his first three innings, but redeemed himself to an extent in the fourth – his approach in that innings got Bangladesh on the back foot. His dismissal straight after tea in that innings was the trigger for Bangladesh’s greatest ever session in the field in test cricket. Rating 5/10

Joe Root: a gritty 50 in the first innings at Dhaka when no one else offered serious resistance until the partnership between Rashid and Woakes was his only major contribution with the bat. Rating 5/10

Gary Ballance: after his first three innings of this series I commented that he was not batting long enough to know what sort of form he was in. His fourth innings was equally brief, but the shot with which it ended was truly dreadful. Rating 0/10

Moeen Ali: a useful 50 in Chittagong, and wickets in both games. However as an off-spinner he was comprehensively outclassed by 19 year old Mehedi on the other side. Rating 7/10

Ben Stokes: England’s player of the series, his 85 at Chittagong was England’s highest individual score of the series, he was the teams overall leading run scorer and joint leading wicket taker (this latter in a series were quick bowlers were mainly bystanders). Without his efforts this series would certainly have been 2-0 to Bangladesh. Rating 9/10

Jonny Bairstow (WK): A competent series with gloves in difficult conditions and a fifty in the first match. Rating 6/10

Zafar Ansari: his selection in place of fellow Surrey man Batty for the second match of the series gave England a more varied bowling attack, and he picked up a couple of wickets. He failed to contribute with the bat. Rating 4/10

Chris Woakes: significant contributions with the bat in both matches, though his bowling was not of much significance in this series. Rating 5/10

Adil Rashid: A useful batting effort in the first innings at Dhaka, when he and Woakes rescued their supposed betters and gave England a lead, his bowling in favourable conditions was disappointing. Rating 5/10

Stuart Broad: Bowled well at Chittagong, was rested for Dhaka. Rating 5/10

Gareth Batty: His selection for this tour at the age of 39 and after a 12 year hiatus in his international career was a major indictment of English spin bowling, and he contributed little in the one match he played, at Chittagong. Rating 2/10

Stephen Finn: Came in for Stuart Broad at Dhaka, and his only contribution of note was to become the answer to the quiz question “whose dismissal gave Bangladesh their first ever test victory against England?” Rating 1/10

FAWKES IN THE WALKS

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This has historically been a very successful event and I hope it will be so again. However, as an autistic person who reacts badly to sudden loud noises, I would also like to say that fireworks should be restricted to official displays of this sort.

LINKS

My first link in this section is to an online protest against the charity Mind, taking place between 3:30 and 5PM today.

The Climate Reality Project have produced this very accessible guide to climate change.

My next two links both relate to Debbie Abrahams’ announcement that they will replace the Work Capability Assessment:

My next and penultimate link is to Anna’s effort to get people to post about tree walks. To view her most recent post on the subject click on the screenshot below.

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My final link is to a book review on my London transport themed website – click the screenshot below to visit it.

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