JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just An Observation
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So with the General Election only a matter of weeks away last night’s debate with seven party leaders- itself a break from the norm as usually only the three ‘main’ parties are invited along- certainly seems to have captured the attention of a large part of the nation. The very fact that seven party leaders- The SNP, The Green Party, Plaid Cymru and UKIP are all new invitees- were asked to debate shows exactly how much politics has changed in the last five years since the last General Election and just how much of a broken system it has become since the coalition took power in 2010.
Nick Clegg who actually emerged from the three leader debate in 2010 as a promising hope and then disaffected all his voters by jumping into bed with the Tories as the first whiff of power wafted in his direction, last night started by claiming that no one party could win this election out right. Not the most encouraging start and a sure sign that the coalition has not worked.
He then engaged in a slanging match and locked horns on several occasions with David Cameron who he has been supposedly making policies with and alongside for the last five years but only now weeks before the election can the divide and disharmony at the root of their relationship be revealed to us, the voters. Not that it came as any great surprise and the Lib Dems and Clegg have nothing more to lose as they lost it all the moment they hopped into bed with the Tories in the first place.
David Cameron appeared as his usually supercilious, smug and arrogant self and focussed most of his time on reminding us of the mess that Labour created when in power and that he has been trying –not very successfully it would transpire-to salvage ever since. Focussing on the past and allaying blame rather than offering any new policies –unless you count more austerity and more cuts as viable offerings- his performance was listless and yet again when attacked about cuts to the NHS and benefit cuts he used his dead son Ivan, disabled with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, as a political weapon to deflect and distract from the questions at hand.
Ed Milliband came across as slightly better than he usually does but he lacks any tele-genic charisma and doesn’t face the camera squarely in the eye. In the cult of personality in politics, heading to a more Presidential style, this disadvantages him greatly although he came across as more convincing than he has done at any other time since he took over as Labour leader.
Surprisingly though all of the three ‘main’ leaders could have learnt a thing or two from relative newcomer Nigel Farage who despite being an odious man with extremely worrying policies came across as more convincing than any of those mentioned so far. However he wrong footed several times, not least seeming to blame all Britain’s woes on foreigners followed by an unprecedented attack on HIV sufferers which saw him reprimanded by Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood who accused him of scaremongering and attaching stigma.
That brings us neatly to the real stars of last night’s debate and also the real winners; the three women. Natalie Bennett (The Green Party) and Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) performed admirably, if a little out of their depth on occasion, but Nicola Sturgeon-looking good in an outfit by Edinburgh favourites Totty Rocks- emerged as the true winner of the whole event. Clear, concise and cutting through the bullshit, she made a convincing case for the SNP having a say in the next government and a say which will be fair to the whole UK and not just Scotland. This is in total contrast to the picture of the right wing press who have wasted no time in painting her as demonic figure who simply wants to break up the union and doesn’t give a second thought for the rest of the UK. Last night revealed that what is most important for her and her party now is bringing a fairer and more progressive political landscape to the whole of the populous.
Certainly this is one of the most closely fought elections in recent memory and last night it became clearer to see that alliances are going to have to be made but the real concern is between whom.
Elsewhere a load of multi millionaire musicians-Jay Z, Beyonce, Madonna, Kanye West and Chris Martin among them- are trying to encourage us to cancel our Spotify subscriptions and sign up to their more expensive Tidal streaming service as this pays more money to the ‘suffering’ artists. I actually don’t have a Spotify account to be honest but do believe that music shouldn’t be for free –musicians have to pay for instruments, rehearsal space, travelling and this is all before taking into consideration the time involved in creating even the simplest of songs- but subscribing to a music service which lines the pockets of those who are already millionaires several times over seems like anathema to the problem at hand. Surely it would have been more productive to spend money on getting newer and less formulaic music out there or is it all just big business now and the music on offer is becoming less and less important to profit?
Seriously the only thing in a scarier state than the music industry right now is British politics.
This who gets paid for what doesn’t only extend to musicians however as this week saw photographer Pat Pope send an open letter to Garbage- I remain unconvinced by all this open letter sending why not just express an opinion and stop hiding behind this ‘open letter’ crap although ironically I did find Shirley Manson’s recent one to Kanye West quite amusing- concerning the alleged non-payment of fees regarding photos taken back in the nineties. There seems to be a grey area in this matter as I am unclear whether he was paid handsomely for his work in the first place and therefore his photographs now belong to someone else to do with as they please or does he still own the copyright and is being blatantly stolen from.
I know of a photographer friend who was paid upwards of £20,000, quite a bit upwards if I recall correctly, for a session with David Bowie and whose photos are used time and time again-one of them graced the back cover of the ‘David Bowie Is’ catalogue- and he was forever complaining that he made no money every time one was used although his permission was always asked. I always argued that £20,000 upwards wasn’t a bad deal for one days work but this didn’t seem fair recompense to him.
Pope hasn’t made clear what his deal with Garbage was or whether he took the photos in the good faith that he would receive a fee if they were used in the future but the whole thing stinks of middle management and the industry yet again ripping off an artist whenever the opportunity presents itself. It would seem that nowadays art whether it be the visual arts, photography, music or writing is expected to come free with no-one really willing to pay any artist for their work even if they are making money out of it themselves. This disgusts me to be honest!
It would appear that Easter is upon us yet again and although I don’t have mush interest in these holidays it doesn’t mean I won’t take the time out to participate if there is something interesting going on. Not much is happening over this weekend as far as I can work out but some interesting things upcoming in the next month or so. The Cathode Ray have an album launch at Elvis Shakespeare and the Voodoo Rooms,- more about this nearer the time- , Neu Reekie have an all star line up at La Belle Angele at the beginning of May followed the week after by a Women’s Aid charity gig at Summerhall wherein a selection of female artists will perform their favourite girl group songs and there is also the prospect of Patti Smith performing her seminal ‘Horses’ album in its entirety in June whilst August sees Franz Ferdinand team up with Sparks-FFS- as a Festival treat and highlight. Good times ahead I feel!

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