Archive for the Liveblog Category

Liveblogging: The Hitchhike To Reform?

Posted in In the News, Liveblog on 6 May, 2010 by sonal

Well, a girl can dream.

It’s election day in the home of the “Westminster system” where that archaic electoral dinosaur know as first past the post is still in play even though they’ve managed to do away with hereditary peerage, an effective monarchy and the ability to settle an argument between men with a duel (a sad loss, in my opinion).

Tonight an angry voting public could take us to a hung parliament – sick of banks being bailed out with public money and still getting big bonuses, politicians from all sides claiming expenses as ridiculous as duck ponds not to mention this wee business of a war that Tony Blair lied to everyone will lead us to a very close race between Labour, Conservatives (Tories) and the Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems)

The polls have just closed, the night begins.

10:17pm BST (or British Summer Time/GMT+1 – praise daylight savings!)
And within minutes, the combined BBC/ITV/Sky exit poll has come in … and my first question is: Sky? Really? Rupert and James Murdoch (or Rupert Jr until I think of a better nickname) agreed to cooperate with the very organisation they would like to lead down an alley and bludgeon to death with a page 3 girl given the opportunity?

Anyway, the exit polls read as – Tory: 307, Labour: 255, Lib Dems: 59, Others: 29

10.36pm BST
It’s a bit of a grim forecast, the Lib Dems have been polling very high this week and were expected to be in a race to be second with Labour. There’s no reason to despair just yet, the Tories don’t have an outright majority, the numbers are close and, of course, it’s just an exit poll. The Financial Times have a good article on why to read them with a few sacks of salt.

One in six voters refuse to respond to an exit poll It’s a mind your own business answer. And no one knows if these people disproportionately vote for one party.

The exit polling sample barely covers Lib-Lab marginals Because there is no data from on individual polling stations, the wonks calculate the change from the 2001 and 2005 exit polls. It covers around 120 polling stations. But there’s only data on three Lib-Lab marginals. That’s why the Lib Dem vote share prediction was too low in 2005. The problem will be even greater this year.

It’s a mad rush to manage the data and make a prediction It’s a Thursday. Most people vote after they’ve been to work. That gives the boffins very little time to make the calculations. They’re working to a 10pm deadline and data is still streaming through until 7pm.

10.53pm BST
The BBC is reporting that a polling station in Cameron’s constituency turned voters away when they closed dead on 10pm. Voter turn out has been high this year with long queues at polling stations reported all over the country.

That said, I wonder how many or well distributed the polling booths are? I didn’t come across one on my way into town or during my run this evening which makes me think that they need more.

Houghton & Sunderland South are first to declare in favour of Labour (with a majority of 10,990 and a turn out of 55%)

10.57pm BST
That was one of the most amusing declarations I’ve ever seen, mostly because I just couldn’t get this scene out of my head while watching …

No really, it’s exactly the same. Exactly. Including the Pitt the Even Younger … she won the seat.

11.12pm BST
Voters in large numbers (and by large, we mean 200 at some booths) are reporting that they were in queue to vote and then turned away the second the polls close with police called in to disperse the angry mob.

There are also a number of expat postal votes lost thanks to the volcano (all hail Vulcan, for he is mighty!). Turns out you have to post your vote to arrive in the UK in time. Given the amount of technology available to us, this is ridiculous! To vote in the NZ election, Louise and I had to print out our voting papers, sign a separate declaration paper and fax both back to NZ. FAX. I know! Who uses those things anymore?

11.27pm BST
So what’s the coverage like? On free to air television, your viewing choices are the BBC (currently playing on my laptop) who have wholly embraced CNN Situation Room style graphics (sadly sans hologram but with domino falling sound effects) and Jeremy Paxman (like Paul Holmes and just as irritating/arrogant/a cunt); ITV with a dull set that could be part of TVNZ’s coverage (but less diverse … ok, grumpy, old, white guys) …

Ooh, Washington and Sunderland West declare in favour of Labour (another traditionally safe seat)

11.38pm BST
Where was I? Ah yes, coverage. Channel 4 has their “alternative election coverage” which means a bunch of funny, white, males such as Rich Hall, David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Charlie Brooker and Alan Carr give their commentary … it’s a bit hit and miss, plus their news seems to be about half an hour off at the moment, possibly to run it through a set of writers off camera for a gag first. BBC Parliament have the BBC Scotland feed which I can’t see very well except to see that the set looks like TVNZ election day circa 1984, minus an excitable Nigel Roberts bouncing about and making the backdrop wobble.

And we break again for Sunderland Central to declare …

The seat goes to Labour.

11.52pm BST
There’s a palpable sense of disappointment from the various commentators that they have to wait a bit longer for Labour’s first defeat and the whiff of change. So without that, they have danced all over the “swing to the Conservatives” line … of course, they’re still on FPP, so it’s MP wins that count, not votes for party. If a hung parliament occurs in spite of the swing in the Tories favour, does this mean they’d back electoral reform?

Sky are breaking that a polling station in Sheffield is unable to remove the ballot boxes for counting as angry voters, who were unable to vote, won’t let them.

12.04am BST
Ah yes, Sky News, that’s the channel playing on my television and my other source of television coverage for the night. It’s like a poor man’s BBC (oh the irony, Rupert, the crushing, meglomaniacal irony) – split screens, voice over live feed images and title graphics but nothing like the virtual Number 10 that the BBC are currently giving us a history lesson on.

12.26am BST
BBC are now reporting that some of the electoral lists hadn’t been updated in time for today with registered voters being turned away. This is the headline for the election now with a public apology from the chief returning officer and much talk that there may be legal challenges to the final result.

I have no idea what the letter of the law says, then again, no one else seems to either. It would appear that the returning officers believed that there was a risk that any votes received after 10pm would be invalid. Problem is, there seems to be other talk that the law extends to the line, so the last person in line at 10pm should be the cut off …

Oh and some of the polling stations ran out of ballot papers.

Cos, y’know, it’s not like you had to register to vote 3 weeks ago and then be told the polling station you had to attend or anything, so obviously, it was a complete surprise. *headdesk*

12.39am BST
I’ve lost my internet connection … yes, I’ve switched the modem off at the wall and switched it back on again … will I ever have it back? I’ve been reduced to knowingly talking to myself about politics … and silent yelling at the modem.

On the bright side, found stale corn chips in the cupboard. Score!

12.49am BST
Le sigh, it appears there is an unknown outage in the area, length until it’s fixed? Also unknown. Fuck you Talk Talk, you’re a useless ISP.

1.01am BST
And back online, in time to see Cameron do a walk and shake … someone stick their leg out and trip him up, please.

Apparently the bond market is opening. At 1am. Are they fucking insane? No really, WTF? Since when did trading begin outside of usual office hours? Actions like this do little to dissuade me that Capitalism and The Market are greedy, ugly bastards.

1.09am BST
In other news Belfast East went to the Alliance (and judging by the excited response of my mate, Alan, this is a surprising thing), and the Tories have taken their first seat in Kingswood.

Torbay declares for Lib Dems, keeping their sitting MP.

1.12am BST
Somewhere in the middle of losing the internet for an hour I’ve managed to miss a few more seats – the current house reads as: Labour 4, Tories 4, LibDem 1, Others 6

I turned over to see what was happening on Channel 4 only to be rewarded by the sight of Boris Johnson … it’s a sign, back to my BBC and Sky diet.

1.19am BST
Results are starting to coming in a bit faster. The seat of Putney goes to the Tories and David Blunkett has gone on Sky to tell us that the Tories will come away with a small majority overall … Somewhere in a small storage, rocking back and forth in the corner is a sweaty Labour strategist, yelling at their iPhone and fashioning a voodoo doll out of mop ends and toilet rolls into the form of David Blunkett.

1.32am BST
Yikes, energy is starting to flag … in the meantime Kirkcaldy, Gordon Brown’s seat is safe and a dude stands with sunglasses on and his fist in the air … eh?

He’s keeping it up while Brown gives his acceptance speech.

Does he think he’s a Scottish Malcolm X?

1.49am BST
Labour keeps Tooting (to the jubilant cries of “yes we Khan”), the Tories take Battersea and the commentators fret at the variation of the swings to the Tories, some seats are as high as 9% others as low as 3% … the media wants results, the voters are fucking with their heads.

1.57am BST
So it turns out that fist dude is a comedian who calls his party “Land is Power” … uh huh … dude needs to work on his jokes.

Commentators are starting to freak out about a hung parliament while the pound rises in value – it would appear that the Market is bidding on a Tory win. The Market and it’s spotty school boy traders can go fuck themselves … they’re probably expert at it.

2.32am BST
The biggest freak isn’t around a hung parliament itself, rather that Labour would try and form a coalition government with the LibDems, even if they get less votes than the Tories – how dare they form a government with the like minded party who are a natural coalition partner.

One thing does seem to be clear across the coverage and on the numbers alone, the LibDems don’t seem to be doing as well as the polls during the week have promised. They haven’t taken any Tory seats so far (and have lost Montgomeryshire to them) but, at the same time, the Tories haven’t been taking as many Labour seats as expected, either.

What is interesting is that the sentence “the problem about voting under a system like this” is starting to crop up more and more in the analysis. Tonight is proving to be particularly frustrating for the commentators as they begin to comprehend that the popular vote may not yield the majority they expect. Does this mean electoral reform? I hope so, but the immediate financial crisis that the UK faces (and we’re talking epic Greek levels of up shit creekness) means that reform could be put to the side and forgotten for a while.

A very sleepy 2.48am BST
An update on numbers so far: Labour 57, Tories 42, LibDems 6, Others 18 to get an outright majority, a party will need 326 seats.

Sky are reporting that Labour holds the “bellweather” seat of Birmingham Edgbaston … BBC tell us that it’s under recount. More broadcaster repeat the same things they have been saying for the last 5 hours now … 5 hours? Must. stay. awake.

2.59am BST
David Cameron holds his seat. His shiny face makes it’s way to the podium. A man with a cowboy hat and yellow ribbon stands behind him.

His sentence “Labour have clearly lost their mandate to govern our country” only gets applause from a couple of people. He then says “blah, blah, blah, change, blah, blah” verbatim.

3.30am BST
Holy crap it’s 3.20 in the morning and only one third of the constituencies have been declared … I don’t know if I can actually do this anymore. Labour and the Tories are currently neck and neck but the overall swing to the right has dropped to only 4%, not enough for the Tories to get a majority of any sort.

The BBC are now reporting that Labour and the LibDems have started a conversation meanwhile their commentators are also beginning to point out that the LibDems demands for electoral reform doesn’t sit well with the worship of FPP by the Tories. Possible paddle on the horizon?

3.37am BST
The seat count has now gone in favour of the Tories – 117 the rest follows as Labour 106, Lib Dems 19, Others 24 … and the commentators ask how the LibDems and Tories can reconcile their differences to form a government.

4.03am BST
My mind is starting to drift … and my eyes are droopy … I’m going to take a nap, which may turn into sleep. Apologies for abandoning you. I highly recommend the far more informative liveblog from the Grauniad (not sure if you can watch the BBC coverage outside the UK, do let me know). May see you soon. Or not.

We know the final answer though.

It’s hung.

7.47am BST
Aaaaaaaaand, we’re still going. Aah, awaking to a parliament as hung as Guido Fawkes before he had an appendectomy among other things is quite refreshing. One of my home electorates has been called in favour of Labour, the other has not (nae bother, both are safe Labour seats … poor folk live around me, they are not as easily swayed by glittery things as those who could be categorised as “the haves”). Of course the media are in a tizz and the ugly traders have drunk too much sugar and coffee so are bouncing off the walls waiting for the ultimate sugar crash as they don’t know who’s running the country.

The numbers this morning read: Tories 285, Labour 220, Lib Dems 51, Others 43

I, however, need to get up and off to school so more on this, later …

2.33pm BST
Previously on Yes Prime Minister …
David Cameron is about to make a speech. At this point the Tories have hit the 300 mark with Labour on 255, LibDems on 55 and Other parties/candidates taking 28 seats.

Plastic face walks on stage: “blah, blah, blah, blah, change, blah, blah”

Cameron makes an offer for a confidence and supply agreement with the Lib Dems BUT he appeals back to his base and against LibDems policies of immigration and EU partnerships.

2.43pm BST
He makes the promise to get rid of the ID cards (bet that doesn’t extend to me) and some form of electoral reform … and by some he means changing the electoral sizes so that they’re “even” but keeping it FPP rather than proportional representation. Er, David? That’s not electoral reform, that’s wallpapering.

This is not the offer of a coalition.

2.55pm BST
Earlier in the afternoon Gordon Brown made his semi concession speech … semi in that his words were:

I understand and completely respect the position of Mr Clegg in stating that he wishes to make contact with the leader of the Conservative party.

“As you know we already have in place mechanisms and facilities that will give the political parties any civil service support they need. Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg should clearly be entitled to take as much time as they see necessary.

“For my part I should make clear that I would be willing to see any of the party leaders. Clearly if the discussions between Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg come to nothing then I would of course be prepared to discuss with Mr Clegg the areas where there may be some measure of agreement between our two parties.”

3.14pm BST
The speeches over, the negotiating begins. A variety of Tory MPs and Lords are arguing that electoral reform doesn’t equate to proportional representation.

In closing this blog I think I’ll throw this over to an image that my flatmate, Helen, has found …


If the LibDems are going to go into any form of agreement with either party, they would be incredibly stupid to accept anything other than electoral reform leading to proportional representation.

The answer for them lies with the next election in 2015 – go with Tory and alienate their voter base who didn’t want to vote Labour but hate the Tories with every bone in their body? Or go with Labour and be stuck with Gordon Brown and tainted by Labour’s corrupt hand?

Thanks for reading all the way down to here while I geeked out and yet probably missed a lot of info for you if you weren’t already watching.

I’ve lost my ability at grammar.

Time to call it a day and return my energies to assignments and fretting over my immigration status (where the hoops probably got smaller and higher).

Til the next election …


Live Blog Tonight – Please, God, No Tories!

Posted in In the News, Liveblog on 6 May, 2010 by sonal

Will the UK be brave enough to give us a hung parliament (and finally get electoral reform)?

Will the Thatcher Menace be defeated?

Have you voted yet? No? Stop reading this and go vote, NOW!


Not So Liveblog: Budget 2009 – Losing Bill’s Virginity

Posted in In the News, Liveblog on 28 May, 2009 by sonal

Woo! It’s Budget day …

What? I’ve handed over my passport to those in control, in the hope that I can get into the UK (more details if I am successful) … so instead of stewing while I wait, I may as well geek out a little.

This feels like a budget of yore, when you used to stock up on petrol, cigarettes and booze the day before as you had no freakin’ idea what was going to be hiked up the next day. Little has been released as it were under a Labour government, but you can bet that the tax cuts National campaigned almost rabidly on, will have disappeared.

It’s Bill English’s first budget and he starts with a small stumble as he forgets process, which the Speaker carefully corrects.

Pre-amble: The economy is fucked. Everywhere. If this all goes to shit, it’s not our fault. But it is the fault of the folks before us.

[While B.E. sings his party’s praises, just thought I’d add – if my visa comes through, I’m leaving town two days later to go to Singapore. So if you’re in Wellington, just be aware that I may, in a couple of weeks say that I’ll be parking up at Hope Bros. to drink …]

“redesign the legislation to allow quick and efficient decisions to allow development … overseen by Rodney Hide …” Trans: Dear Environment, prepare the lube, you may be getting fucked soon.

It’s all very well saying “we’ve allocated x to insure y” but it’s not terribly impressive when they are pretty much just maintaining what’s already been done in the past … I’m bored already.

Tax cuts for 2010 and 2011 are postponed until “economic conditions are improved”. Told you.

“This is the first budget on the road to recovery”. I hope you’re right, dude, otherwise you know we’re going to roll out this sound bite next year if it all goes tits up.

And so ends yet another boring budget (except for the suspension of the Cullen fund contributions, which was always on the cards no matter what government but 10 years is a flippin long time). Tune in next week when we hear …

Liveblogging: A Slow Car Crash Down Under

Posted in In the News, Liveblog on 8 November, 2008 by sonal

The red and blue balloons are out, the anchor men are wearing smugness like Old Spice and Nigel Roberts has been dusted off – it must be election night in Aotearoa.

For those of you playing along at home, there are several ways to keep a track of the NZ General Election online. Both TV3 and TVNZ have livestreams of their coverage (3News is being a bit shit for my Mac so I’m restricted to TVNZ). There’s also Elections New Zealand for simple results along with the remainder of the print media …

08.54 GMT
I’m a bit late to the party, but hey, it looks like I’m not missing much … as any child could predict New Zealand is making a shift to the Right, just because they can. Ugh.

09.05 GMT
TVNZ are projecting (they’ve been listening to Wolf Blitzer) a National win with 2/3 of the vote counted.
National – 69, Labour – 53 and Winston is behind in his own electorate by 10,000 seats … TVNZ seem to be making a big deal out of Winston losing his electorate seat but seeing he lost it to Bob Clarkson last election, I can’t see what the fuss is.

09.15 GMT
Oh god, TVNZ are getting excited about crossing live to Peter Dunne … for those of you unfamiliar with the member for Ohariu, imagine Rhys Darby’s Murray from the Flight of the Conchords t.v. series and now realise that that’s exactly what Peter Dunne is like … I’m not kidding – any New Zealander can back me up …

09.18 GMT
Winston Peters is giving his concession speech for Tauranga … anyone else sound like he’s ready to retire from it all? Winston is out of it completely, NZ First don’t look like they’ll be crossing the 5% threshold to get a seat in parliament.

09.20 GMT
this is not the end … oh bugger … that was just my wishful thinking then.

09.45 GMT
Oh NZ, what have you done? Did you not heed my cry for light anarchy (like normal anarchy but with less sugar and more melamine-laced artificial sweetener)?

We all knew it was going to be a National win tonight – I said it would be back in 2005, I also recall saying to a lot of people that we were heading for global recession then too but as I wasn’t blogging then you’ll have to take my word for it (or you can ask Mum, my then boyfriend David Lawrence or Malcolm Murray who was sitting with me at the Downstage election party that night while I geeked out with a calculator and WAP access on my mobile) … Labour never had a chance tonight.

09.45 GMT
TVNZ reporter – “I’m right in the media throng” – now let’s get this straight there are two camera ops and about four still cameras … just admit that you’ve been put in someone’s bathroom rather than pretend that there are an awful lot of you.

09.57 GMT
John Key has left his home … apparently Helen Clark has called in to concede the election … it’s all over, officially.

For the Wellingtonians here are the results:
Rongotai – Annette King (L)
Wellington Central – Grant Robertson (L)
Ohariu – Peter Dunne (UF although FU wouldn’t be too bad either)
Mana – Winnie Laban (L)
Rimutaka – Chris Hipkins (L)
Hutt South – Trevor Mallard (L)
Te Tai Tonga – Rahui Katene (M)

10.12 GMT
The first Labour leadership question has been asked and guess who to? Yes. David Cunliffe (scroll down the post to 2.47pm … see?) …

10.25 GMT
Helen speaks …

10.26 GMT
… and concedes

10.31 GMT

My job as leader of the Labour party is complete, I will be standing down and I will be expecting Labour colleagues to elect a Labour leader before Christmas.

10.43 GMT
Well then I’ve already predicted (and been slightly proven right) that David Cunliffe is gunning from the job, who else? Phil Goff has often been putting himself forward; Judith Tizard is an electorate MP only, and having lost her seat (farewell Associate Minister of the Arts – thanks for all of your hardwork) so no chance for her; Michael Cullen?

10.50 GMT
Prime Minister – elect, John Key enters party headquarters …

11.05 GMT
The first thing John Key needs to do is get himself a better speechwriter:

Today New Zealand has spoken in their hundreds of thousands across the country they have voted for change and I can tell you there will be a new National led government in New Zealand

3 years of this? Christ! And what, Johnny boy, are the best bits about New Zealand?

Our capacity to produce food, our landscapes and scenery and most of all our kiwi ingenuity …

And the commentators are calling this a good speech? Seriously?

Could someone with more than a New Zealand passport marry me? Please?

11.10 GMT
That’s it, I’m going to drown my inevitable sorrows in alcohol and then maybe get out of bed and have a shower … maybe not …

So ends 12 months of me following two election campaigns, one whose outcome I hoped against hope for and the other, an inevitable and bitter end that I braced myself for. I’m sure the incoming National Government will provide me with plenty of satire fodder for the next few years as will the leadership race in Labour – but for now, I’ll sign off (and hunt out those green card and visa application forms) …

Good night New Zealand, you may as well drink up large, the ensuing hangover may make you feel better. Farewell Winston, as much as I disliked you, politics will never be quite the same without you. G’day London, who wants to meet me for a commiseration drink … or 50?

Liveblogging: The Long Night of Hope

Posted in In the News, Liveblog on 4 November, 2008 by sonal

And so the day has finally arrived … and here I sit in my hotel room in Birmingham, the sonorous sounds of Wolf Blitzer, spinning himself into a frenzy as he waits for the polls to close, singing me to sleep.

The first polling booth is another hour away from closing and many media agencies are already in a frenzy over exit polls … I’ve been here before and I know which way the wind is blowing … I’m not going to listen, I’m going to stick my ears in my fingers and sing at the top of my lungs until something substantial comes through …

22.32 GMT
Hey look, it’s Rudy Giuliani … how long til he says 9/11?

22.39 GMT
CNN are reporting ‘poll access problems’ with people waiting 5 hours to wait to vote. Shit! Seriously? What the hell is the problem? Are there international observers monitoring these elections?

If, for some reason, you’re reading this and you’re in the US and you haven’t gone out to vote yet, grab a good book, or charge up your PSP and jump in line. Even if the polls ‘officially close’ they have to allow everyone queued up to vote. You will not get another chance.

Things to do while waiting in queue to vote:
– reacquaint yourself with the Declaration of Independence, some of the finest writing in existence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

– start a Mexican wave
– study electrical engineering and IT – you may need the ability to fix the polling booth when it breaks down …
– Sing the theme to the Muppet Show, better still see how many people you can get around you to start singing this:

01.00 GMT
Polls are closing along the east and CNN is doing the usual ‘we project’ even with only 1% of the vote counted in many of those areas, for the most part, it’s none too exciting – they’ve awarded ‘safe states’ to McCain and Obama. MSNBC and Fox both appear to agree with CNN.

In the red corner with 34 electoral votes (and may I remind you how confusing this gets when one is used to associating red with left and blue with right … is anyone else amused by Palin calling Obama a socialist while wearing red?) – Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina

In the blue corner with 77 electoral votes – Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and the District of Colombia


01.50 GMT
All media outlets are awarding major swing state, Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes) to Obama – a massive call given that only 1% of the votes there have been counted.

A quick sweep of the news outlets and it appears that there are still a lot of issues surrounding the actual act of voting. Over at Fox they’re reporting that actor Tim Robbins, who has been registered to vote in New York for 10 years, discovered that he wasn’t on the list of his polling place

02.05 GMT
CNN are stunned that in their exit polls, race was not a factor.

Lesson for media outlets to learn: in the real world, people do not give a shit about the potentially inflammatory stuff you do – please find some real news to report.

02.15 GMT
So Sonal, what are these Electoral votes?
Um … good question … I’ve tried looking it up on the US Electoral College and, god help me, even Wikipedia … I still don’t understand how it works (and I managed to fully grasp how the primaries worked in the space of an hour) – help, please?

Time for a nap (I still have to work in the morning).

03.00 GMT
Yup, I’ve checked Reuters fancy little fact box (scroll down their page to find it) and I still don’t understand the reasoning behind or how the electoral votes work … did the founding fathers not trust the masses to vote for President?

CNN have called another major swing state, Ohio (20 electoral votes), for Obama … that takes us to roughly 200 electoral votes for Obama (he needs 270 to win) with – Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, District of Colombia, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and New Mexico.

Meanwhile in the red corner with numbers that vary from 78 – 124 electoral votes – Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, West Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Wyoming, North Dakota, Louisiana … MSNBC also gives him Kansas, Texas and Arkansas.

‘It’s insulting for the McCain campaign to say the other part of America isn’t the real America, it’s insulting’ – CNN panellist … um, you think? Dude, we all said that back when they wheeled out Palin, only now (when it’s possible that the writing is on the wall) you see it with the rest of us?


03.23 GMT
CNN are reporting that senior advisors in the McCain camp are feeling grim and don’t see much hope … I don’t dare to breathe … not just yet …

03.50 GMT
Ok CNN win on their coverage purely because they’ve got a hologram thingy that looks just like the one in Star Wars (where Princess Leia says ‘help me Obi Wan Kenobi’) to do interviews with people off site … awesome!


04.00 GMT
CNN projects Barack Obama to be the 44th President of the United States

04.04 GMT
MSNBC also follows suit and calls the election for Obama

04.07 GMT
And a million Facebook statuses celebrate …

04.08 GMT
Even Fox News has conceded


04.18 GMT
John McCain concedes the election.

04.40 GMT
Text messages between many a sibling world wide …

Bhai: Obama won 🙂 – it’s a great day
Soni: Woo!
Bhai: I am v happy!
Bhai: This is looking like a trashing of epic proportions
Soni: [paraphrased] yeah the republicans have lost 4 states and the democrats have the majority of the senate and look like they’ll have the house too. expect major policy changes next year.
Bhai: Finally some sanity wil prevail!

CNN reports that Bush has called Obama to congratulate him.

04.48 GMT
While we wait for the President – Elect to speak, let’s see where we are at:

In the red corner (155 electoral votes) – Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, West Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Wyoming, North Dakota, Louisiana, Kansas, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah, Arizona and Idaho.

In the blue corner with a whopping 333 electoral votes (and the largest majority since Lyndon B Johnson) – Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, District of Colombia, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Florida, California, Oregon, Washington, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado and Hawaii

Obama enters stage left …

On this day change has come to America

And he promises his kids a puppy …

05.15 GMT
Out of many, we are one.

And as that is how I started tonight, I think that’s a pretty good place to end this long obsession with the race to the White House. Goodnight y’all.

A new age begins – here’s hoping they we can live up to our expectations.

Liveblogging: Britain’s Got Talent Final

Posted in In the News, Liveblog on 31 May, 2008 by sonal

Why, Sonal, why, why, why?

I don’t know, well, I do know – I’m at Mama’s house and Maya’s obsessed with it (yes you are, girl, don’t deny it) … so no Doctor Who tonight (no matter, I’ll just watch it the way I have been in NZ) …

What’s up for grabs?
A performance for the Queen Prince Charles (wow, that made the award so more prestigious) at the Royal Variety Blah Blah (yeah, I can’t quite believe they still do these) …

First up are a couple of moppets called the Cheeky Monkeys dancing along to that chorus number at the end of Grease, with plenty of balloons but sadly sans flying car. Judges are gushing, because they’re moppets and moppets must be gushed upon as this is WHOLESOMEFAMILYENTERTAINMENT.

The singing plumber – oh no, he’s singing Imagine and quietly mangling it – somewhere in Wapping a little Louise weeps (he gets throughly ripped up by the judges) …

Meanwhile, back in Birmingham, a little Sonal weeps:

Maya: That’s a nice song. What is it?
Sonal: Imagine.
Maya: Who sings it?
Sonal: John Lennon.
Maya: Who’s that?

Sonal: *headdesk* Oh god, you’ve just made me feel old. This is so going in my blog …
Maya: I like Hotstepper, that’s old!

Um … so the next act is a dog and woman who dance together. “This dog is taking no prisoners, she’s here to win” – Simon Cowell … er … there are dogs taking prisoners? On their own? With little tasers and handcuffs?

So dog jumps over stick, and … sorry, how did this get to the final?

Once again, the judges gush because animals are WHOLESOMEFAMILYENTERTAINMENT …

We now have a street dance crew – ok, for all my snarkiness, these guys are actually very good. Damn good. So instead …

Why the hell is Prime doing a New Zealand version of this? Really? What for? Christmas in the Park? Isn’t bad enough that we’ve now got our own version of Stars in their Eyes (which I bet TVNZ is counting as part of their Charter Programming).

I can’t believe you’re liveblogging this …
Not everything can be about uninformed political views.

So how do they win this anyway?
Phone votes … which they charge for …

Two martial arts lads that do flips, jumps and the lot to music. Meh … I mean, obviously I clearly couldn’t do it, but … meh …

Moppet Act 2. The Moppet who sings Opera (and one day may grow up into Moppet who makes an arse of himself thanks to the perils of childhood operatic voice fame, or Moppet who marries his considerably older manager, or WHOLESOMEMOPPET, which they are all banking on) … Of course those moppets didn’t have to worry about their voice breaking …

The too old to be a moppet, but too young to be an adult … ah, even better, troubled youth who was rejected from last year and proclaims that if he wins tonight it will “save his life” … golly. Kid is a street dancer and a good one at that.

Yoof who sings Opera 2. Bet you Simon Cowell has already signed her up for her first record deal …

In other news – Ice on Mars (maybe)!

Ice on Mars?
What? I’m allowed to geek out on a arbitrary basis. It’s cool!

Last two acts – first up is an all female string quartet along the lines of Vanessa Mae (for those who remember her) or Bond. These ladies are making classical music cool! How? By … um … wearing tight, short, red dresses, stiletto heels and pumping through bass heavy, synthesiser filled, casiotone drum machine backing music through the speakers and playing over the top … *sigh* yes, I’ll stop being the grinch … soon …

They are so going to win this tonight.

The one this household has been waiting for – the brownz (their proper name is Signature, but everyone refers to them as the brownz). Two guys, one who dances like Michael Jackson and his mate who dances Bhangra.

The song is a mash of Billie Jean with the bass line from Under Pressure (no I’m not going to tell Maya that, because when she asks me who David Bowie and Freddy Mercury are, I will just cry … I’m turning 30 soon, I don’t need this right now) and then a Bhangra piece that I don’t know the name of. The judges are dancing along and praising the WHOLESOMEETHNICFAMILYENTERTAINMENT (also known as haven’twecomefarBritain?). Ok to be fair, they were quite good and not quite the one trick pony I had made them out to be – this piece is certainly better than their semi final effort (which Jaina and I only managed to get halfway through because it was dull) mostly because they crossed over the choreography rather than just sticking to their individual specialities.

Voting begins … see you in an hour

And we’re back! Cue graphics of circus acts … wait, there weren’t any circus acts! Where are my damn circus acts?

Oh and it’s still another 15 minutes until they close the phone lines and probably another 15 minutes to tally the votes (I’m sure ITV don’t want to be hit by yet another phone in scandal) so in the meantime here’s a lengthy greatest hits montage, starting with the obligatory ‘lets laugh at the crazy, deluded people who think they have talent’ to the finalists …

The phone lines are closed and we get treated to a dramatically scored montage of what performing at the Royal Variety Blah Blah will mean to them … apparently they think it will be life changing … someone better have a wee, gentle chat to them, before they get disappointed.

Top three … pause … pause … pause … the brownz. Joining them will be … pause … pause … the first Moppet who sings Opera, and pause … pause … pause, oh, boy was I wrong – the last one is yoof, BGT saved my life street dancer. Bye bye red dress quartet.

Third place is – Moppet who sings Opera

And the winner?

BTG saved his life and made him a winner … aw, he’s in shock and bawling … in the background, the stage crew grumpily come out lay down the floor and rerig the wet set … lad is dancing the set of his life – damn!

It’s all over, finally … until … the numbers to apply for next year are at the end of the show, the call should last no longer than two minutes …

Liveblogging: NZ Budget 2008

Posted in In the News, Liveblog on 22 May, 2008 by sonal

You know you want it …

Ok, fine … you probably don’t but I figured with only a week to go until I leave and a pile of packing and people to catch up with between now and then my time would be best spent liveblogging something I know little about (it hasn’t stopped me before).

It’s 50 min from the start, 20 min until the TV One coverage begins. If you’re really looking to procrastinate (my god, you must be bored if you’ve decided to procrastinate here) then hit the refresh as the afternoon wears on.

So Sonal, what are we playing for today?
Votes, dear friends, votes. Yes there is more to it than that, but we all know it’s election year, we all know that the current Labour government is facing trouble at the polls this year (just because they’ve been in power for so long … no really, that’s it. Even the leading opposition party, National, has said that if voted in, they’ll keep Labour’s policies for the first term … yep, National’s campaign strategy seems to be ‘we’re just like Labour, but not – vote for us’ and the New Zealand public seems to be buying it. Yes – all together now *headdesk*.

Ow! That hurt!

Me too … to be fair, Labour hasn’t been doing itself any favours either – it’s a bad sign when the people who created the Electoral Finance Act don’t understand it, decide that the best way to combat crime is to ban tagging and make assumptions about the electorate without asking them first (look, I know we all like MMP and would probably vote to keep it, but you’ve still got to let us vote on it, that’s what was promised when we voted to change the system in the first place).

Proper coverage has started on TVNZ and Scoop, if you’re looking for informative (or slightly more informed than me) analysis on the afternoon. TVNZ keeps going for ad breaks, I guess whatever tax cut we end up getting, we could go and spend it on a Bowflex?

Fun facts about the Budget: This year’s Budget is being printed with vegetable ink on a mix of recycled paper and paper sourced from sustainable forests. Next year, they should be printed on rice paper and handed out with small dishes of soy sauce and pickled ginger.

And we’re off!

I wish you could hear the muzak …

And straight out of the gates we’re into the tax cuts …

What do we get, what do we get, what do we get?

What, you want actual coverage? Here, go read Cullen’s speech … in a nutshell, yes, money ($12 – $28 a week) from October (to be passed under urgency tonight – elections, anyone?) … should be enough to pay for … um …

As Cullen speaks at the speed of a bullet of train, my thoughts drift (and show my age): do you remember when budget days used to be really fun? And by fun, I mean, watching grown ups act as if the world was about to end by queuing up the night before at the petrol pump, buying up as much booze and cigarettes as possible and filling the car boot with all the canned goods they could muster before sitting silent near the radio listening to the Budget occasionally cheering or swearing, depending on the announcement …

So what could you be doing if you weren’t half listening to the Budget (while organising your social life) … well you could be speculating whether Phil Goff is making a pitch to be Labour leader or notoh the frenzy! Forget Phil Goff, my money is on David Cunliffe … ooh, it’s all over … 45 minutes and not one stop for breath.

Time for the posturing … Key is up to the plate for the traditional ‘yeah, whatever’ statement from the opposition. General theme ‘tax cuts’ … what did you expect? Ooh and mentions of Herceptin – how much did Roche pay for that product placement?

Ok some one needs to teach John Key how to project rather than scream – “under National New Zealanders will do better” … um, how? You do know that there is a global recession happening, right? Both oil and biofuels are pushing the price of food up, something that no New Zealand Government will be able to combat, we’re a dairy producing nation and the price of cheese and milk have gone through the roof – whoever wins this election is fucked.

Hang on, did John Key just promise that we’d win the Rugby World Cup in National was in power?

Helen Clark is in right of reply … more song and dance about tax cuts along with “I care about the Springbok tour and I remember where I stood on it” … Key walked right into that one having mentioned that Cullen and Clark cared more about the 81 Tour and Vietnam rather than today’s concerns … rookie mistake.

Winston is up to the plate which, as is to be expected, is along the lines of ‘see those small things, the stuff you won’t pay attention to but is really good – that was us’ …

Wait a sec, why is Winston Peters speaking before Jim Anderton? Confidence and supply partner before Government partner?

Winston Peters on Bob Clarkson: “full of puffery and bovine scatology” … heh … man has a way with words …

“Some days (and today is one of them) I feel I am surrounded by people who have their heads in the sand” – Jeanette Fitzsimmons on the current New Zealand obsession with tax cuts … too true …

Like the many members of parliament who have now fled the chamber, my mind once again wanders … to the Scoop Budget lock down fashion report … tee hee. The Treasury guy reminds me of a barista near my old work who we nick named “Too Cool”. Too Cool had a long fringe that would carefully hang over his eye in a perfectly aloof yet unmovable manner … made really shit coffee and hot chocolates, though.

Ok, even the Speaker has made a run for it and has been replaced by her Deputy … Pita Sharples is up and like Fitzsimmons avoids the posturing and opts for a sensible speech calling for the elimination of poverty to the 13 people left in the room.

Peter Dunne is up and his theme? Any guesses? Yes! Tax Cuts! And he’s yelling to a very empty room (I feel for Rodney Hide who is probably desperate to leave and has no one to talk to or heckle with).

In other news it looks like most of the media agencies are running with Key’s title of the Cheese (or Colby) Budget … National will be pleased.

And with that my lousy “broadband” connection (there’s funding to raise NZ’s skill and innovation – could that please extend to sorting out our laughable bandwith, please?) to Parliament TV is no longer working … so here ends any coverage from inside the house.

Tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts, the cutting of taxes, whether it was enough, when you’ll get the money, whether this is a cheap ploy to win votes, what are you going to do with yours and how as a single person it won’t really mean anything anyway is all you will probably hear about this budget for the next few days … well everything except for the single bit, the rest you’ll hear about to the point of boredom for the next few days and throughout the campaign here on in … I’m bored now, you? Yeah me too …

Sonal, wait! Did they win?
Votes? Hmm … I doubt it, but it may have saved them from losing some … 6 months until we find out …