The Apprentice 2016 Week 2 – M.A.D.

The Apprentice 2016 Week 2 –  M.A.D.

jeansM.A.D – Mutually Assured Destruction – was a phrase coined in the Cold War to describe the consequence of nuclear war. It could also be applied to describe this week’s episode of The Apprentice. This week’s advertising task resulted in that rare thing – a tie. But this time, both teams managed to LOSE the task, such was the poor standard of their campaigns!

Digital Marketing Manager Mukai Noiri seemed the perfect choice to lead the “Titans”, but over in the girl’s camp there was a battle between Online Fashion Entrepreneur, Jessica Cunningham, and Design and Marketing Agency owner, Rebecca Jeffery. Manic Jessica won out thanks to dodgy voting not seen since the Labour Party leadership election. Both were (technically) within the rules.

jessica-cunningham

Jessica Cunningham

So, what led to the disasters that each team put forward? We should start with the leadership from each PM. Jessica had already shown us that she is “high energy”, but I don’t think that the girls were expecting the emotionally unstable wreck that they got, especially on day 1. Jessica was autocratic, unfocused and demonstrated such low Emotional Intelligence (EQ) that it required other members of the team to take over at certain parts of the task. One aspect of EQ is the ability to manage your own emotional state. Jessica struggled to do this.

For the boys, Mukai was the exact opposite; in place of the manic energy of Jessica was the emotional engagement of The Terminator (especially on Day 1). Mukai, was the embodiment of coolness, from his clothes to his manner. The problem here was that he was beyond aloof- he was absent. Mukai was autocratic with the sub-team he led, but abdicated all responsibility for Dylan’s sub-team. Again, this approach is reflected in his EQ. Unlike Jessica, Mukai was completely in control of his own emotional state. However, another aspect of EQ is reading and managing the emotional state of others. This is not conducive to an abdicating style, as he failed to read the frustration of other members of the team.

Good EQ requires a leader to manage both their own emotional state and that of others. For Jessica, she needs to identify a strategy to manage her emotional state. I cannot see how she will be able to do this, given the stressful nature of the competition. For Mukai, he did eventually start to become aware of the feelings of others, but he needs to be more emotionally engaged with his team if he wants to build trust and get the best out of people.

A third individual who has real EQ issues is IT Consultancy Owner Karthik Nagesan. as a Consultancy Owner, I suspect that Karthik probably works on his own a lot. His social skills (another key component of EQ) are appalling. He doesn’t listen, and though he had good points to make, he made them in a way that united everyone against him.

Any one of Karthik, Mukai and Jessica could have, possibly should have, gone. In the boardroom though, having decided that both teams had failed the task, we ended up with 6 people in the “final 3”. Lord Sugar instead focused on Hair and Beauty Salon Owner  Natalie Hughes for her lack of contribution in the first 2 weeks, but especially on this task. One wonders why Natalie came on the programme? On “You’re Fired” it was revealed that she has never watched the programme and seemed uninterested in progressing. It never pays to hide on a task, as this is something Sugar really hates. In that respect, it was the correct decision. She also barely contributed to “You’re Fired”! but there were cases for firing Karthik, Jessica and Mukai too.

 

The Apprentice 2016 Week 1 – Nebulous Titans

lord-sugar4

Lord Sugar courtesy of BBC

The Apprentice 2016 Week 1 – Nebulous Titans

 

It’s back! Another 12 weeks of madness, mayhem and just a little (sometimes a very little) bit of business acumen. On the evidence of the first week, the latest bunch of competitors to be Lord Sugar’s business partner ( and earn £250K along the way) are just as entertaining as in the previous 11 years. But, who is the real deal and who is just there for entertainment value? We will discover this over the next 3 months.

The first episode saw the traditional unveiling of the 18 candidates. Working in gender teams, the task was the familiar variation on “Bargain Hunt”. Both teams were given to a lock-up with many items, some were rubbish, but there were apparently some hidden gems too. Sugar made it clear that the winning team would be the one that made the most money (cash not profit). Of course, to do this you need to know the value of the items, and each team was given the opportunity to select items to get valued by experts in the field.

The first task was to appoint Project Managers (always a bit of a poison chalice in the first week as you don’t know your team). Paul Sullivan seemed happy to take on the role for the boys (who named themselves “Titan”) where as  Michelle Niziol was more reluctant to lead the newly christened “Nebula”. What makes candidates think these names are good??

Many years ago, Bruce Tuckman came up with his theory of Team Development. The first stage of team development (when the team comes together) he called the “Forming” stage. It is characterised by “ritual sniffing” where members cautiously get to know each other. Behaviour is generally positive, but the team looks to the leader to give clear direction, so a direct almost autocratic style of leadership is desirable. Paul took this to heart and led his team with confidence in his own abilities and a very decisive style. On the negative side, he was not too interested in listening to feedback from the team. Michelle, on the other hand, was initially far more democratic in her approach, often steering or guiding, rather than setting a firm direction of travel. Where as Paul was very clear about strategy, Michelle was more vague, at least at first. This was most readily characterised in the approach to valuing and pricing the items. The girls, especially in the Market team led by Alana, had NO pricing strategy. They had no idea of the value of items, so set prices at random and made no attempt to really negotiate. They were definitely going for volume rather than value. The boys approach was the opposite. They carefully priced the items and led by Market team sub-lead Sofia Khelfa and were strong negotiators, being prepared to walk away rather than sell for less that they valued the item.

Michelle did eventually reveal her directive side, when she bizarrely decide to ignore the expert advice to sell to traders at Portobello Road and go to Camden instead! Michelle attributed this, and other decisions to “gut feel” and this approach eventually led to their downfall.

In the board room it was revealed that the girls had lost the task. Some poor leadership, and possibly a bit of fortune for the boys (they were awful in trying to sell to Trade, going to the wrong area (Chelsea) and trying to sell to the wrong people i.e. not the decision maker) cost the girls and all that remained was to identify who would be fired.

michelle-niziol

Michelle was on a sticky wicket (losing PMs in Week 1 often pay the price for failure) but chose to bring back Rebecca who was anonymous in the task, but came out fighting in the board room. She also brought back sub-team leader Alana, who was responsible for the disaster at the Market. Inevitable, Michelle was fired. It was the right decision. Michelle made 2 critical errors; firstly she adopted the wrong leadership style. She needed to be more directive. Secondly, she mistook “abdication” for “delegation”. Michelle was unaware of the disasters at the Market, and as such she was more guilty than the ineffective Alana. What do you think?

So, one task down, eleven more to go. More next week

 

Films of my life – 2000

Films of my life – 2000

Time for a look at a more recent time in my life (but still 16 years ago). Here is the best known quote from my favourite movie of 2000:

 “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the TRUE emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”

By 2000, Gill and I were living in North Yorkshire, with 3 active boys (James, Harry & Richard). This meant that most trips to the cinema were for family films, as our eldest son, James was only 8! More adult material, we tended to catch-up with on DVD (which started to replace VHS in the mid-1990s).

Growing up, the new millennium seemed so far away – I used to think “God, I’ll turn 37 in 2000” and as you know, when you are young that seems to be VERY old. Now, of course, I look back from (nearly) 53 and wish I was that young! Ah, c’est la vie.

Our nearest cinema in 2000 was the “Showcase” at Teesside Retail Park, near Stockton. This was one of the first big multiplexes in the north east. In more recent times, multiplexes have opened in Middlesbrough and Darlington.

showcase-cinema

courtesy of thiistockton.co.uk

2000 was not a particularly great year for movies – there was plenty of quantity, but little quality. You may well have guessed it from the quote, but before I get to my favourite movie, here are the other movie highlights of 2000:

  • X-men
  • Almost Famous- Cameron Crowe’s semi autobiographical tale about a cub reporter with Rolling Stone in the early 1970s. Has a great soundtrack
  • High Fidelity – decent adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel, relocated to Chicago with  John Cusack and a breakout role for Jack Black
  • Billy Elliot – uplifting tale set around the miner’s strike of 1984 in north east England, which had resonance for me (the miners rather than the dancing)
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Ang Lee’s beautifully choreographed and shot tribute to eastern cinema

gladiatorMy favourite film of 2000 was Gladiator. This reboot of “The Fall of The Roman Empire” made a superstar of Russell Crowe (he won a “Best Actor” Oscar and the movie was “Best Film”). It has a great score from Hans Zimmer too. But what makes Gladiator so special for me is the sheer scale, enhanced by (at the time) ground-breaking computer generated imagery. CGI was also used to ensure that Oliver Reed completed the film, despite dying during filming. Director Ridley Scott crafts an epic tale that works on a human level. Crowe’s Maximus is one of the great screen heroes, not least because of how he stays loyal to his values and beliefs.  I’m not sure that either Scott or Crowe have made better movies in the years since Gladiator was released and it remains a favourite of mine to this day.

Films of my life – 1977

Films of my life 1977

061132:Odeon cinema Pilgrim Street Newcastle upon Tyne Malcolm Maybury 1995

The Odeon, Pilgrim Street, Newcastle

By 1977, my cinema visiting routine was well established. I was living in Gateshead, but my school was in the west end of Newcastle (St Cuthbert’s Grammar). This meant that I travelled through the centre of Newcastle every evening of the working week, usually via the number 39 bus. At least once a week I would go to see a movie, preferably with a friend, but often on my own.

There was plenty of choice amongst cinemas in Newcastle in 1977. There was the Odeon on Pilgrim Street, which had 3 (later 4) screens, two ABC cinemas (Haymarket and Westgate Road), the Studios 1-4, and the Queen’s Theatre (70mm, curved screen). There were no affordable video players, and video rentals didn’t arrive until the 1980s, so if you wanted to see a movie, you had to go to the cinema, or wait FIVE years to see it on TV!

Star_Wars_Episode_IV-A_New_Hope_Theatrical_Release_PosterProbably because I was 13 for most of  1977, it is one of my favourite movie years. There are several movies from 1977 that are now regarded as classics:

  • Star Wars – just Star Wars, not Episode IV, not “A New Hope”, just Star Wars, which I think Dave Webster and I went to see at the very first showing at Christmas. A school acquaintance (Terry Hawthorn) allowed us to join him and his mum and jump the queue
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind – another favourite, though
    Spielberg has re-edited it several times, and generally not for the better. It was superb in 70mm at the Queen’s.(Update: on checking, this movie was released in 1978 in the UK)
  • The Spy Who Loved Me – one of the better Roger Moore Bond movies
  • Annie Hall – a film I love that I discovered in the 1980s when I was old enough to appreciate it!
  • Saturday Night Fever – I was annoyed that my younger sister, Rose,  got to see this at 12 years old (it was an X / 18) but I had to wait 2 years before I could get in
  • Eraserhead – David Lynch’s oddity, which I eventually saw in my 20s.

My favourite film of 1977 is not regarded as a classic, but it is my favourite war movie (as in one featuring battles, I have others, such as Schindler’s List that are set in the war, but are not war movies). It was one of the top 10 earners of 1977, though.

A Bridge Too Far Original Half-SheetSo why does it have such a special place in my heart? Well, it was one of the last movies that really had an ALL-STAR cast – Connery, Caan, Olivier, Redford, Gould, Hackman, Bogarde, Caine to name but a few. Sean Connery was, and probably still is, my favourite movie star and he is excellent in this film.

Another reason that I have fond memories of this movie were the circumstances of seeing it. Our family holiday that summer was in North Wales, and we spent it with my Uncle David, Aunty Margaret and my 4 year old cousin, Andrew. We saw the movie in Llandudno, in hot, stuffy, packed cinema. The movie is about 3 hours long, and had a interval. Sometime after stuffing our faces on ice-creams at the break, Andrew, decided to bring it back for public viewing. This resulted in Margaret getting a mop and bucket and cleaning it up. It did make the hospital scenes more realistic for the audience, as the cinema stank of bleach for the rest of the showing.

015507:Percy Street Newcastle upon Tyne 1966

ABC Haymarket

The success of Star Wars, Close Encounters and a few minor blockbuster movies reflected the changes going on in movie releases. The success of Jaws in 1975, plus the big hitters of this year set the pattern that we still see today – with studios putting more emphasis on making and marketing blockbusters. This would get even bigger with the introduction of multiplexes, video (then DVD and Blu-Ray) rental and sales starting in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the move to the US model of cinema chains spelled the ned for many older theatres in city centres like Newcastle. Within a decade many of the cinemas mentioned would close. The Odeon was the last to go, eventually closing in 2002.

Films of my life – 1965

Films of my life – 1965

I have to be honest and say that 1965 is not a vintage year. That said, it did produce 2 of my all time favourite films and enough quality to fill a weekend of binge viewing.

I have no real memories of 1965 (I was 2 in the October of that year), so again, the films I like were mostly discovered on TV. One or two should be on telly more often (“The Hill” for one, in which a wig-less Sean Connery endures bullying and pain in a desert military prison ) and others, such as the sumptuous Doctor Zhivago have become staples of holiday viewing (there is nothing better than watching this movie on a snowy day at Christmas).

Ipcress File

The Ipcress File – the “anti-establishment Bond”

Notable releases this year were “Thunderball” (Connery’s Underwater-Bond, complete with wig). In fact, it was a big year for spy movies, with the first movie version of a John Le Carré  book – “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold” with Richard Burton. This was a grittier, humourless spy movie, much more real-life and bleak. Very much a product of the Cold War. Similarly, one of my 2 favourite movies from this year, was an antidote to Bond, but this one was produced by Harry Saltzman, one of the Bond producers! “The Ipcress File” starring Michael Caine as Harry Palmer has lot of the grit of Le Carré, but author Len Deighton added in 2 elements that make it even more appealing; Palmer is a working class spy and he has a real attitude; if Bond is establishment, then Palmer is the very definition of anti-establishment. As such, the character tapped into the blossoming youth culture and “kitchen sink dramas” from a few years previously. The fact that it is set at the dawn of “swinging London” gives it an added sense of time and place. Then there is the outstanding score (by another Bond veteran, John Barry). Check out the main theme, it is sublime!

I have to say that every time I come across this movie on TV, I can’t resist watching it.

Other top movies released in 1965:

  • For a Few Dollars More
  • Help (good soundtrack, not as good a movie as “A Hard Day’s Night”
  • Dr Who and the Daleks (Peter Cushing[!], Technicolour Daleks[!])
  • Ten Little Indians (one of the best Agatha Christie’s, recently done on TV as “And then there were none”)

Sound of MusicAs I said, not  a vintage year. However, my other favourite movie of this year also has a great soundtrack, and is still a regular for holiday TV. “The Sound of Music” is hard to resist, with many well known songs (“Climb Every Mountain”, “My Favourite Things”, “Do-Re-Mi” to name but a few) and a surprisingly gritty story. It was another film that I saw for the first time at the cinema, in the mid 1970s at the Queen’s Theatre in 70 mm.

 

I’m not sure which of these 2 movies I love most, so I’ll choose both of them as my films of the year.

 

Films of my life – 1971

Films of my life – 1971

I am currently making my way through an excellent book called “1971- Never a Dull Moment” in which the author (music journalist David Hepworth) claims this year to be the greatest in rock history. This inspired me to cover the same year for the next entry in this series.

Consett-Empire-Theatre-small

Empire Theatre Consett (courtesy of Consett Magazine) – long before I went there

Nineteen seventy one has a real significance for me and my life through movies, as it is the first year I can remember actually going to see movies. Specifically, I remember going to see the James bond flick “Diamonds Are Forever” with my dad at the old Empire Cinema / Theatre in Consett. One of the prevailing memories of watching movies in the 1970s was the poster advertising the movie, with 3 still images and tempting text underneath. To this day, Diamonds are Forever is one of my favourite Bonds, but I suspect more for nostalgic reasons than for it’s quality. DAF, like Goldfinger, had an iconic Corgi toy – the Moon Buggy, and I still remember playing with it at our caravan near Crook.

corgi_moonbuggy_original

Courtesy of 007 Magazine

This was the start of regular, almost weekly trips to the Empire with my dad, and sometimes my uncle David and one of dad’s best friends – Johnny. My abiding memory of these visits was my dad’s annoying habit of just deciding we would go to see a movie. In those days, you could just go in when you wanted, so most of the movies we saw at that time, we came in half way through! We would then stay for the next showing, and dad would try to leave when we reached the part where we arrived. I always refused to leave, and insisted we stay to the end. I especially remember song this with another film released that year – “Escape from the Planet of the Apes” and being totally confused about what was going on (doubly so as this was the 3rd in the “Apes” series, but the first one I saw). To this day, I still hate missing the start of a movie, especially as they now clear the cinema and you can’t just stay for the next showing.

Much as I love DAF, it is not my favourite movie of 1971. Most of the films on the list below I fell in love with years after they were released, usually after seeing them on TV. “Willy Wonka” is a great example of this. I love this version of the Roald Dahl story.

Here is my list of runners-up (in no particular order)

  • Get Carter (Michael Cane as the least likely returning Geordie)
  • Straw Dogs (infamous rape scene)
  • The French Connection (great car chase, and very gritty)
  • Bed knobs & Broomsticks (the mixed animation / real life football match)
  • Dirty Harry (“You feeling’ lucky, punk?” iconic 1970s cop, originally written for Frank Sinatra)
  • Walkabout (Jenny Agutter nude was a staple of 1970s movie viewing)
  • McCabe & Mrs Miller
  • A Clockwork Orange (banned until after Kubrick’s death in 1999, due to the violence it inspired)
  • The Last Picture Show
  • Willy Wonka
  • Diamonds Are Forever

 

AStrainposterMy favourite movie of 1971 was another in Michael Crichton’s repertoire of warnings about  science and technology going wrong (he also wrote Westworld, soon to be remade as a TV series, and Jurassic Park). This film is almost documentary like, but many of the images are truly terrifying, especially the walk through the tiny village wiped out by a virus. The climax is one of the most tense ever, as the scientists race against a countdown that will result in the  destruction of the lab they are in, designed to contain any breach of infection. This has been repeated many times in movies, most notable in Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986), but it was never done better than here.

It is also important to put this movie into the context of the time it was made; this was the height of the cold war and fear of biological warfare was very prominent in the minds of the pubic.

Andromeda Strain

The Andromeda Strain – my favourite movie of 1971

Quite simply, The Andromeda Strain is one of the best science fiction movies of all time.

 

Films of my life – 1975

“1975 is one of my favourite movie years. Not all of the movies were great, but the memories certainly were”

Films of my life – 1975

What a year! This is the year when I remember becoming more “independent” in my movie habits. Not as in seeing more independent rather than mainstream Hollywood movies, but in being able to go to the cinema without my parents.

At this time I was growing up in Gateshead, and most of the movies I saw were shown at the Classic Cinema in Low Fell. I used to go with my Three Amigos – Tessa, Andy & Sean

Classic Cinema

Title: Classic Cinema, Durham Road, Low Fell Courtesy of: Photographer: Manders, Frank Date: 28/7/1977 iSee Gateshead Old Photographs Ref: GL001191

and the certificates in those days were;

  • U (universal, same as today)
  • A (a bit like today’s PG, but many cinema’s would not allow children to see movies on an evening, without an adult, especially for popular films)
  • AA – like a 15
  • X – like an 18

I remember trying to go and see “The Towering Inferno” in 1974 with my mates, and getting turned away from a evening show, despite queuing for 30 minutes!

So what were my favourite movies of 1975? Well, I got to see my first AA (despite being 11) when we got into “Tommy”. I barely enjoyed the film on that occasion as I kept expecting the police to come in and arrest us for being under age! I have to say, Tommy is still one of my favourite movies, a crazy mix of a great album from The Who and the trippy visuals of Ken Russell.

The following week, I tried to get into “Rollerball” and failed. After several failed attempts I eventually got to see it in 70mm at the Queen’s Cinema in Newcastle (with a giant curved screen) about 2 years later! It is still one of my favourite movies of any year.

large

courtesy of cinematreasures.org Queens Cinerama Theatre

 

Here are my favourite movies of 1975

  1. Jaws
  2. Rollerball
  3. Tommy
  4. One FlewOver the Cuckoo’s Nest (Jack Nicholson classic)
  5. Three Days of the Condor (classic 1970s conspiracy flick)
  6. Picnic at Hanging Rock (spooky Australian mystery)
  7. Barry Lyndon (Kubrick does Thackeray)
  8. Dog Day Afternoon
  9. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (which everyone my age could quote)
Jaws

one of the most famous movie posters in history

Jaws confirmed my love of cinema. It came out on boxing Day 1975, 6 months after taking the USA by storm. I remember the hype and build up (done in a very 1970s under stated way). There were jigsaws,  an advert for Tudor crisps and the original book and the soundtrack with that theme (Da dum Daa dum). In the days before the internet, building the buzz was a long drawn out affair.

I got to see Jaws over the Christmas holiday. It was showing at the ABC Haymarket in Newcastle, and there were queues for every showing. If you wanted to see it in the first week, you had to queue for up to 2 hours. I went with my friend Dave, who’s dad was best friends with Sandy, the concierge. We walked to the front of the queue and got in first. Just like we were VIPs, though we did pay!

My abiding memories of watching the film were;

  1. I’ve never seen anything like this
  2. Seeing a fat woman in the row in front of us scream and throw her large box of popcorn all over her and us when that head comes out of the bottom of the boat. Simply magic.

1975 is one of my favourite movie years. Not all of the movies were great, but the memories certainly were

Labour (Leadership) Pains

Labour (Leadership) Pains

This lack of cohesion and alignment in philosophy and values is not that far from the mix that seems to have led to the aborted coup in Turkey last week

Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn

So, today the battle for the soul of the Labour party really begins. We now know that there will be only one challenger to the current leader Jeremy Corbyn, and that is Owen Smith.

Corbyn has been leader for less than a year, and his ascendancy to the role signalled a clear shift to the left for the Labour Party. Despite gaining more than 60% of the votes in last year’s leadership contest, Corbyn has failed to establish his credentials with the Parliamentary Labour Party (or MPs to you and I). Over 80% of MPs recently expressed no confidence in their leader, resulting in the upcoming leadership contest. Why is this? The key to the answer is in that “clear shift to the left”.  For many Labour MPs elected in or inspired by “New Labour” and the Blair Labour Government, this shift challenges their beliefs and, even the identity of the Labour Party. For all sitting Labour MPs the contest is not just for leader of the Labour Party. but for the very soul of the party.

For all sitting Labour MPs the contest is not just for leader of the Labour Party. but for the very soul of the party

It is worth remembering that the Labour party tried to go down this route once before. At the height of the Thatcher government in the early 1980s, the Labour leader was Michael Foot. His political beliefs were not that different to those of Jeremy Corbyn, and once again the Labour Party was solidly left wing. This resulted in a group of more centralist Labour MPs breaking away and forming the Social Democratic Party (SDP). After failing to gain any real traction on their own, the SDP amalgamated with the Liberal Party to form the Liberal Democrats. It is not difficult to imagine history repeating itself, if the “centralist” coup should fail.

By the 1990s, after a sustained period of being unelectable, the extreme left wing of the party (Militant) was banished and the party moved back to the centre-left under Blair. Their new identity built around social mobility and aspiration won over traditional Tory voters (as it was not that different from centre-right or liberal-conservatism). Labour won 3 elections with the Blairite approach.

But what of the left wing? Well, like Sauron in “Lord of The Rings”, they never really went away, just bided their time and re-built. And as we know, they resumed control of the party last year.

If the recent EU referendum has taught us anything, it has taught us not to be too certain in predicting anything where voting is concerned

Owen Smith

Owen Smith

This has resulted in a minority of left wing Labour MPs with hard core socialist views leading a group of MPs who are predominantly centre-left (Blairite) in beliefs. This lack of cohesion and alignment in philosophy and values is not that far from the mix that seems to have led to the aborted coup in Turkey last week. A different arena, and different political issues and, thankfully, a different approach to the solution, but be in no doubt, the result of this leadership challenge will have repercussions for the Labour Party and its aspirations to be in government. If a left wing, socialist Labour Party couldn’t get elected at the height of Thatcherism, is it more electable now? If the recent EU referendum has taught us anything, it has taught us not to be too certain in predicting anything where voting is concerned

What May the future hold?

What May the future hold?

Theresa MayToday (July 13th 2017) The UK has a new Prime Minister. Theresa May has emerged as PM after the recent bloodletting in the Conservative party following the EU referendum.

It’s worth reflecting on the last few weeks in British politics. Now I know this has been done by many people in many ways, but I’m interested in looking at these events from a leadership perspective.

In this blog post, I will focus on the events in the Conservative party. Who is our new PM and what are her values? I will look at the Labour party in a separate post.

By definition, leadership is about persuading people to follow you. There is a debate about how our next PM was decided upon. In the end, May was the last woman standing, as previous candidates to lead the Conservative party fell by the wayside, either through their own choice or that of their party. So, actually, nobody has directly chosen May to be PM. That said, it is within the constitution and May feels she has sufficient mandate that she has stated she does not feel the need to call a general election to get one. Although May made a speech on Monday outlining her philosophy, nobody actually voted for it! All of this presents May with her first challenge; how to inspire people to follow her.

UK politics has undergone a seismic shift over the last few years

A profile in The Guardian describes May as “unpredictable and moralistic”. She  is also seen as a detail person and someone who struggles to delegate. Think micromanagement. This attention to detail is going to be important going forward, especially in leading the negotiations for “Brexit”. Don’t be surprised if May takes her time in appointing the cabinet; in common with many politicians, she displays the cautious low emoting analytical style. Relatively risk-averse, it is more important to get it right than it is to get it done quickly. In social types terms, May is definitely more task focused than people focused. She is described as hard to get to know, sharing little personal information. She is not interested in gossip. This could be either the driving style or analytical style. It is the measured delivery and softer tones that suggest the latter for me.

May has also given us some insights into her values.  One  analysis  reviewed her only campaign speech, last Monday, just before here last rival, Andrea Leadsom, dropped out of the contest. Three themes emerged;

  1. to govern for “everyone, not just the privileged few”
  2. to unite the party and the country
  3. to negotiate EU withdrawal successfully

All 3 points highlight May’s priorities, but it is point 1 that gives the most insight into her values. May is a believer in “One-Nation Conservatism”and point one is an effective definition of what that is. It will be interesting to see how this belief is translated into action, and this is vital if she is to meet the aspirations of points 2 and 3.

UK politics has undergone a seismic shift over the last few years. The surprise with which the Brexit win was received confirmed that large parts of the population have become disillusioned with the norm or the “establishment”. It started with the rise of UKIP and the coincidental fall of the labour party since 2010. This led to the first peace time coalition government in generations. Labour responded by moving more to the left. The two leading political parties are further apart in their philosophies than they have been for 40 years. In the 1990s they competed for the centre ground. Now, they fight from the flanks.

UKIP was mistakenly believed to appeal only to the right, but their rise in the last election and the success of Brexit (their only policy) has shown that actually they really appeal to frustrated blue collar workers in rural and northern areas, as well as the more hardline right.

If Theresa May is to unite the country, the government she leads will have to negotiate these shark infested waters. She appears to want to step into the void that was vacated by labour (the centre ground) but this will put her at odds with her own party.

Here is her first speech as PM

In the next part of this discussion, I will look at what is happening on the left, and how the civil war currently being fought in the Labour party will almost certainly see the party split in 2.

Films of my life – 1984

“So, what is my favourite movie of 1984?  I’ve chosen possibly the greatest concert movie of all time -Jonathan Demme’s  film of Talking Heads in concert – “Stop Making Sense”.

Welcome to my blog, where I reflect on different years of my life through the films released in that year.

Having previously covered the first 2 years of my life, this post looks at 1984 – one of my favourite “film” years and a significant year in my life, as it was when I first met my wife, Gill.

In researching this year, it was immediately apparent that by the 1980s far more films were in production. That said, 1984 was an especially bumper year and some great movies were released. Here are a few that stand out:

  • Ghostbusters
  • Gremlins
  • Amadeus
  • Dune
  • Splash
  • This is Spinal Tap
  • Purple Rain
  • The Terminator
  • A Passage to India
  • The Killing Fields
  • Karate Kid
  • Romancing the Stone
  • Once Upon a Time in America
  • Beverley Hills Cop
  • Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom
  • Tightrope
  • 1984

GhostbustersPhew! What a list. Many of those fils are favourites of mine; Comedies like Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Spinal Tap and Beverley Hills Cop; Adventure movies such as Temple of Doom and the Indiana Jones-light “Romancing the Stone” and Karate Kid; “Once Upon a Time in America” – Sergio Leone’s last and possible greatest movie, doing for the gangster movie what he did for the Western with “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. The post-Vietnam war movie “The Killing fields” was a very affecting watch.

“Amadeus” has a special mention, as on the evening all of our student house went to see it we discovered a tiny kitten upon our return. We called it “Amadeus” (of course) but that only lasted a few weeks before we re-named him after one of our best friends – “George”. George went on to live with Gill and I, my family and eventually, Gill’s brother , Nigel.

stopmakingsense-1080x675So, what is my favourite movie of 1984?  I’ve chosen possibly the greatest concert movie of all time -Jonathan Demme’s  film of Talking Heads in concert – “Stop Making Sense”.

What I like about this movie is the concert itself is centre stage. The filming is very straight forward, because the amazing set and stage settings carry the film. This is a band at the peak of it’s powers, delivering their greatest hits in an unjust way – no shots of the audience, just the band, their music, David suits and great lighting.

Favourite scene

The concert and movie opens with David Byrne walking out to a empty stage, placing a ghetto blaster on the floor and playing an acoustic version of “Psycho Killer” whilst the stage is set around him.

Check it out