bookmark_borderSPD, Labour etc.

Steinmeier bringt Frieden
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They story being reported everywhere at the moment is that the CDU/CSU have won the elections together with the FDP and will now be able to govern Germany in a so-called black-yellow coalition.

Slightly more sophisticated reports might point out that the CDU results were mostly static, and that the gains were almost entirely made by the liberal FDP.

However, in my view the big story is the collapse of the SPD. They have lost a third of their support, going from 222 seats to 146 (the results are not final yet).

All other parties have gained: CDU/CSU (13 more seats), the Greens (17), the Left party (22) and FDP (32).

This seems to be very similar to what’s going to happen in the UK soon.

Labour’s support is plummeting, and the Tories seem to be gaining mainly by default, simply by not being Labour, with the LibDems staying where they are.

Something similar could be seen at the recent European elections, which just demonstrates that the collapse of the social-democratic parties is a Europe-wide phenomenon.

The way I see it, these parties in most countries tried to move to the right because they could see their voters were becoming wealthier and thus more right-wing, and this worked like a treat for a while.

Gradually, however, voters became disenchanted with these parties that seem to believe in one thing but to do the opposite, with parties both to the left and the right making gains.

The first-past-the-post system in the UK means that there is no party to the left of Labour to hoover up unhappy Labour voters, so instead turnout is falling, with all other parties profiting because their voters now make up a larger share of a smaller pot of votes.

In most other countries, parties on the left are gaining, such as die Linke in Germany and SF in Denmark.

It will be interesting to see over the next decade whether Labour, SPD and their sister parties throughout Europe will find a new raison d’être, or whether they will be reduced to smaller, less significant parties, like the liberal parties (the LibDems, FDP etc.) during the second half of the 20th century.

bookmark_borderAn inflatable parrot

A couple of years ago, when we had just got a new camcorder, I bought Charlotte a birthday present: “How to make a movie: The secret of Pirate Island”.

On the back, it said: “All you need is a digital camcorder, a modern computer with basic video editing software and four actors (boys or girls). We provide the rest.” Pretty cool, I thought.

However, it was put aside and never used, but recently she finally opened the box.

It contained a bunch of booklets, a pirate’s eye-patch, a treasure map, a CD, some stickers and a director’s clapboard.

When we opened the Pre-production booklet, we were surprised to read this:

Certain props are included in this box, but some other small props will be needed:

  • A clipboard
  • Plastic swords (preferably cutlasses)
  • A toy boat
  • Some pieces of wood, to create a makeshift raft
  • A broomstick, to make a mast
  • A Jolly Roger flag (skull-and-crossbones)
  • An inflatable parrot
  • A biscuit-tin
  • A supply of 2p-coins onto which you can stick the doubloons
  • Rope
  • A blindfold

It finally points out you’ll need costumes for all the actors.

Of course, given the size of the box, I didn’t expect it to contain four complete pirate costumes, but am I the only one who thinks that “We provide the rest” could lead the unsuspecting consumer into believing that you wouldn’t need to do any additional shopping?

I mean, most people probably have a biscuit tin, a broomstick and some 2p coins, so that’s perfectly OK, but I know that we own neither a Jolly Roger flag nor an inflatable parrot, and I haven’t seen our plastic swords for ages.

This is very misleading, and if the company can’t be bothered including all the unusual props, perhaps they should start selling downloadable PDF files on the Internet instead.