Monday, 23 December 2019

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

Episode IX was released last Thursday and I went to see it, obviously. I still remember sitting in the Forum Cinema Lime Street in 1977 watching the first film, episode IV and saying to my friend next to me, "I don't remember the first three!" to which she said with a smile on her face "They haven't been made yet".

George Lucas has not made a Star Wars movie since Revenge of the Sith, but that has not stopped him from imagining where his franchise might have gone. As long as there has been a Star Wars series, Lucas has talked openly, even after selling Lucasfilm to Disney, about how his version would have wrapped up. The story of the Skywalker Saga, which will end with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, has been in the planning for the better part of 50 years, and for most of those, the only person that could see the whole picture was George Lucas.

According to Lucas, there were always plans for a Star Wars sequel trilogy. But the conception of the story only started in earnest as he prepared to sell Lucasfilm, the idea being that he could send whichever conglomerate bought his company in the right direction on a new set of films.

Along with a return from the original cast, which we got in Disney’s sequel trilogy as well, Lucas’ sequels supposedly covered the stories of Anakin’s two grandchildren, who were supposed to be around 20 in the films, so it was not "Phantom Menace again". In the book, The Art of The Force Awakens, one of the characters, a Jedi named Kira, is described as a "loner, hothead, gear-headed, badass." The other teen was most often referred to as Sam, and mostly appears depicted with a blaster, which seems to indicate that he did not have Force powers himself. Kira and Sam eventually morphed into Rey and some of Finn, which makes sense: Lucas had been developing his sequel movies with the help of screenwriter Michael Arndt [Toy Story 3], who went on to receive a writing credit for The Force Awakens, the first of Disney’s trilogy.

Lucas has always had a difficult relationship with Star Wars fandom, and classifying The Force Awakens as a movie it will like is not exactly an endorsement. According to the filmmaker, he has always been disappointed that fans did not really, in his estimation, understand Star Wars, and to him Disney and J.J. Abrams’ film was a reaction to that fact.

For all his struggles with Star Wars fans, particularly their reaction to the prequel trilogy. It does seem that George Lucas wanted his version of the story told. As much money as the Lucasfilm deal made him, it is hard not to see Lucas as a little bit disappointed. Lucas himself may have summed his feelings up best in The Story of Science Fiction.

Myself, I still prefer the books.

Monday, 16 December 2019

GE 2019 Result

Party                                    Seats    Vote share
Conservative                         365     43.6%
Labour                                  203     32.2%
Scottish National Party          48       3.9%
Liberal Democrat                  11      11.6%
Democratic Unionist Party     8        0.8%
Sinn Féin                                7        0.6%
Plaid Cymru                           4        0.5%
Social Democratic                 2        0.4%
Green                                    1        2.7%

It started with the exit poll broadcast at 22:00 at the end of the voting day as everyone tuned in to their particular favourite media channel, the shock was real, could this be true, everyone started to play down the fact that there could be a conservative landslide.

However as the night rolled on the reality began to dawn. One of the markers that had been set by the media was the great red wall, an imaginary line between North Wales and York. Some of the counts in this area were notorious for being the first to reveal their result and as some of these seats that had been Labour since the beginning, the fact that they were now turning blue set the pace.

At the end of the night it was realised that the people had their say, they were fed up with three years of prevarication by politicians and they wanted #Brexit to finish.

You might say that it was Boris’s finest hour. This is the beginning of the end for the Remainers, but it is the start of something that could be extraordinary for Britain. The faction for remain wanted another referendum, if it had happened, the result would have been this overwhelming no. No to that insufferably arrogant Remainer Parliament blocking the referendum result because they knew better. No to Jeremy Corbyn whose antisemitism knows no bounds and has gone out of his way to circle the issue rather than confront it. He could not even accept his responsibility for the failure of the day and fall on his sword and decided to stay on and reflect!

Boris Johnson has acknowledged that a huge swath of Labour voters have 'lent him their vote' and it is now down to him to satisfy their needs.

Monday, 9 December 2019

GE 2019 Final Week

The general election for 2019 is this Thursday 12th December.

Parties involved and current poll standings:-
43% Conservative
33% Labour
13% Lib Dems
 4% Plaid Cymru
 4% SNP
 3% Brexit
 3% Green

Election analysts have long projected the number of seats for each party by assuming a “uniform national swing”. This is calculated by taking the difference between each party’s share in current national polls and the results at the last election. This figure is then added to the party’s results in each constituency in the previous election. However these are forecasts and not results.

Surprisingly these figures have not changed much over the last twelve months, and I wonder if the usual theme of elections has been lost this time round, such as health, education and defence because #Brexit has such a strong hold on everyone, mainly because it didn't happen on the 29th, March the 22nd April or 31st October.

The 2017 actual result was:-
42% Conservative
40% Labour
 7% Lib Dems
 3% SNP
 1% Green
 1% UKIP
 3% Others

What will it look like next Friday morning?

Monday, 2 December 2019

GE 2019 Manifesto Week


Boris Johnson has launched the 2019 Conservative Party manifesto, with the slogan Get Brexit Done, Unleash Britain's Potential. The 59-page manifesto comes 18 days before the general election. Speaking at its launch in Telford, Shropshire, the prime minister said the choice facing the country in this "closely fought" contest had "never been starker".

Here is an at-a-glance looks at the key commitments:
The NHS and social care
50,000 extra nurses to be recruited
50 million extra GP appointments a year
£34 billion extra funding a year for NHS
Cross-party agreement sought to solve social care crisis
40 new hospitals
Free hospital parking for selected patients and staff

Labour has promised an "investment blitz" across England to bring "wealth, power and prosperity" to communities. The party launched regional manifestos for each part of the country on Friday, including pledges on transport, housing and jobs. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the announcement would "bring our country back together".

But Tory minister Jake Berry said it was "a clear distraction from Corbyn's failure to set out a Brexit plan".

Launching the manifestos in the East Midlands, shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said the plans would "make sure we deal with the climate crisis", but "harness opportunities at the same time".

"Labour will govern for the whole of Britain, handing wealth and power back to every community and giving everyone a better life... rebuilding our public services and kick-starting a green industrial revolution that will bring prosperity to every region while tackling the climate and environmental emergency head on."

Liberal Democrat:-
Stop Brexit...
Stop Brexit and invest the £50 billion Remain Bonus in public services and tackling inequality.

Tackle the climate emergency by generating 80% of our electricity from renewables by 2030 and insulating all low-income homes by 2025.

Give every child the best start in life by recruiting 20,000 more teachers as part of an extra £10 billion a year for schools.

Build a fairer economy by providing free childcare from 9 months and giving every adult £10,000 to spend on skills & training throughout their lives.

Transform our mental health services by treating mental health with the same urgency as physical health.

Green Party:-
The Green New Deal will invest in our shared future, funding improvements in:

including the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy.

including the provision of better insulation for all homes that need it, the delivery of major heating upgrades for 1 million homes a year and the creation of 100,000 new energy efficient council homes a year.

including the delivery of a public and sustainable transport revolution, which will allow people to travel cheaply and safely on new trains, buses, cycleways and footpaths.

including support for businesses to decarbonise and the provision of training to give people skills to access millions of new green jobs.

Food, Farming & Forestry:
including the planting of 700 million trees and support for healthy and sustainable food and farming systems.

including the creation of a Universal Basic Income, paid to all UK residents to tackle poverty and give financial security to everyone.

New green homes, new green transport and new green jobs will get us on track to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 and provide new opportunities for everyone to live happier and more secure lives. This will be a combined investment of over £100 billion a year in the Green New Deal, with an additional investment in Universal Basic Income.

The Brexit Party have confirmed they will not be releasing a manifesto.