Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Congratulations to Tom, but why is it news?

Tom Daley 'came out' on Monday and said he was in a relationship with a man. Meltdown occurred with everyone celebrating him being gay.

He isn't as he 'still fancies girls', he is bisexual but massive respect to him for telling the world in an open and honest way.

For a 19-year-old, there is something deeply impressive how Daley handles himself, mature beyond his years yet his statement on YouTube belied the vulnerability he clearly felt about how 'society' would react to the news.

Today's papers have reacted much to be expected, over sensationalised and hyped to the max reporting and the usual 'maybe a footballer will now' lines.

Why is it news though? There are probably hundreds of 19-year-olds who either know they are bi, gay or lesbian or have come out to much less fanfare!

Being openly bi or gay won't make Tom Daley a better diver, but it will make him happier and more comfortable in his own skin and that is what we as society have to remember.

If just one teenager has the courage to come out to their friends and parents as a result of this and be accepted then that's the news.

We pontificate and stress over the lack of coming out in professional sport, especially football, but is it any wonder when those that do have the glare of the media for days and weeks?

And of course any brave footballer who decides to do so will instantly be compared to Justin Fashanu because hey we haven't moved forward as a country since the 80s.

Being bi/gay/transgender should not be an issue, it's nearly 2014 for crying out loud!

If anyone 'comes out' nowadays we should simply say glad you are happy, and carry on being a friend, a parent, a relative or a supporter.

I am pleased for Tom, the lad has been through enough to last a lifetime and I wish him and his partner every happiness.

But his announcement wasn't news, it was real life

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Tories aren't just playing on Miliband's pitch, they are playing his game

George Osborne has been warning Tories 'not to play on Miliband's pitch' when it comes to the living standards battle being fought by Labour at the moment.
Yet his comments talking about how the Government 'needs to step in to create the rules of the market' sounds remarkably like Ed Miliband's conference speech.
Remember that? the speech labelled 'marxist', 'left wing' and something which would 'drag Britain back to the 1970s' according to the Prime Minister and his Chancellor.
Since then, the Tories have not only been forced on to the pitch but now are playing Labour's game.
The energy price freeze? A 'con' according to the Tories, but something they now have to find an answer to.
Now they are tackling pay day lenders like Wonga, finally listening to Labour MPs like Stella Creasy.
The masked even slipped from Jeremy Hunt on Question Time last Thursday when he said they were clearing up the mess left by the 'banking crisis' in 2008.
Funny, I thought they were clearing up Labour's mess.....
Miliband is being clever, some of the conference speech may well have been froth and bubble but most of it has resonated.
It's a source of anger to the Tories that people are listening to the opposition again when the economy is improving and people are not focusing on that.
Logically, Labour should be sinking now, a leader who isn't exactly battering Cameron as Blair did Major and with only a small amount of policy on the board with a Shadow Chancellor who will
forever be linked to the last Labour Government.
None of that will change between now and 2015 as Miliband simply cannot swing for the fence as hard as Blair did.
But Cameron is getting increasingly hamstrung by events, I have noticed in recent weeks the Conservative supporting papers are beginning to get very hostile, a reaction to Cameron waiving
through the Royal Charter on press regulation?
His appointment of Lynton Crosby could prove to be a mistake, the British people want a sense of fair play in their politics, if the Government get dirty then many may vote Labour in protest.
And the UKIP factor - I have previously called them the UK's Tea Party and the 'Farage Factor' is clear. Cameron is cutting the green 'crap' out of his Conservative Party and talking a lot about immigration and the EU, to tempt UKIP voters back.
Has the boat sailed though? I suspect for many 'older' Tory voters it has, many will vote for UKIP quite simply because its the Conservative Party they knew in the 80s.
And should Cameron waive through HS2, the line will go through the fields and back gardens of his core home counties vote, enough for many to vote UKIP I suspect.
Hope? Hell yes, despite Nick Harvey suggesting 2015 is already decided, Cameron could yet pull off victory if the economy gets better, inflation comes down and more money is in our pockets.
However he needs party unity, a warmer press than he is getting at the moment and to get off Miliband's pitch.
The Autumn Statement is a good chance to unveil a whole new ball game for Labour to match.....

Monday, 25 November 2013

Aussies take the lead but lose the moral high ground

Congratulations to the Australia, a deserved pasting of England was duly completed yesterday morning with a performance which should ensure this series will now be a real hum dinger.

However, if the next four tests are approached in the manner this one has been in terms of verbal sledging then it will be the worst series for many a year.

Australia's behaviour in this test match has been utterly deplorable, it's very difficult to celebrate 
Mitchell Johnson's return to form when every delivery was finished with a foul mouthed outburst at the batsmen.

Siddle, Watson and Bailey also need to look at their roles in creating a nasty atmosphere as do Anderson, Prior and Swann on the England side.

But those with the most to think about before Adelaide are Michael Clarke and David Warner.

Clarke's behaviour this week has been deplorable, firstly 'naming' England's team was the epitome of arrogance.

Call it what you will, great Aussie skippers never had to 'name' the opposition, they talked up how good their team would be.

Can you imagine Waugh or Ponting doing it? Nope, they settled for saying how McGrath was looking fired up in the nets, how Warney had a new 'secret' delivery and how the batsmen were looking forward to taking the English on.

I'd have had much more respect for Clarke if he stood there saying how much he was looking forward to seeing Johnson cause some problems, remind Cook how Harris had his number et al.

As for the Anderson altercation, I've no doubt Anderson is a gobby so and so but telling him to prepare for a broken arm, really?

Firstly Anderson is the number 11 batsman so having a dig is a bit pointless. Secondly, why dish out such threat when you one wicket away from massive victory? Surely more long term damage can be done by reminding Jimmy how much on top they were and how his batsmen let him down...

As for Warner, well his whole attitude is appalling. Someone needs to remind him he's won nothing yet.

He is a brilliantly destructive batsman, I'd rather him keep his mouth shut, score a barrow load of runs, win a few Ashes series then if he wants to give it then fine.

I don't oppose sledging, it's called TEST cricket for a reason but it needs to be an examination of technique and ability not personal stuff.

Warner is like Hayden in his temperament and approach, difference is Hayden won everything there was to win.

It could be a classic series to remember, both sides have a duty to remember that. Play hard but play fair and have a few beers afterwards!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Ashes Preview

The greatest show in cricket kicks off on Wednesday evening only months after England nearly won a test match in the dark at the Oval in what we call Summer.

Well now, in what our comrades Down Under call Summer, the old rivals prepare to square up yet again.

Many have had their say on these back to back series, being done to rejig the timetable to ensure England never finish an Ashes tour to Australia and go straight into preparations for the Cricket World Cup.

But like it or not, this is the pinnacle of cricketing entertainment outside of India v Pakistan as both teams want to win and win well.

All of the talk from the Australians is designed to throw England off their game and crumble under pressure.

Michael Clarke knows his best 11 cannot beat England’s best 11 without the aid of some tricks of the trade.

Thing is Pup, it might have worked with previous England teams but this one knows how to win and win very well indeed.

All of the batting collapses in recent battles between the two sides have come from the men in green and gold. Yes England struggled to make many runs this summer but on true Aussie wickets expect England’s batsmen to sell their wickets for very high prices indeed.

The Aussies have won one test in 2013, they need to win at least two and pray for rain in the next six or seven weeks to have any chance of reclaiming the Ashes.

It’s why the psychology began early, but England seem to be meeting it head on especially Pietersen who hilariously accepted that yes he did have an ego so what?

Stuart Broad has virtually given every Australian a licence to come and sledge him after he didn’t
walk at Trent Bridge.

Meanwhile Cook sits silently by, the epitome of cool and knows seven weeks of ‘dull, unimaginative captaincy’ (copyright SK Warne) will win England the Ashes outright on Australian soil once again.

The pace of the series will once again be set at the Gabba, England should simply aim to win as many sessions as they can on day 1, 2 and 3.

If they do that they could be in a strong position at a weekend and who knows 1-0 could be a real possibility.

Brisbane should hold happy memories for the tourists as should Melbourne and Sydney with only Perth looking like a banana skin for this team.

Prediction -  it all depends on the first test but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Captain Cook and his crew return from their voyage with another 3-0 under their belts....

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Ignore the experts and support the team!

SO tonight is Arsenal's 'biggest test of the season' when we welcome Liverpool to the Emirates.

That's just four days after the last 'biggest test of the season' against Chelsea and a fortnight after a similar 'biggest test of the season' when we played Dortmund in the Champions League.

Yes that's right Arsenal are being tested more than teenagers facing their GCSE's at the moment and if you believe the 'experts' have failed miserably.

Hmmm, sadly the experts are wrong. Failure would have been a mauling by Dortmund of 0-3, 0-4 proportions - it was 1-1 for 82 minutes.

And there's no doubt Tuesday was disappointing but Chelsea's squad was worth around £200million, Arsenal's was only worth as much as was because Ozil was on the bench!

Let's be honest, which Gooner expected us to be top of the league on November 1? Anyone? I doubt even the most ardent Arsenal fan expected what we have witnessed this season.

It's been fun but the notion we were a) going to walk the league and b) beat our 'title rivals' regularly is a complete fallacy.

Everyone will beat everyone this year, Fergie leaving United, Mancini leaving Man City and Mourinho coming back to Chelsea has made the Premier League a complete unknown quantity this season.

We might win some big clashes, lose other but newsflash - SO WILL EVERYONE ELSE!

We have been top four regulars since the dawn of time...I noticed Liverpool don't get 'biggest test' headlines each week and they are doing pretty well this season!

I was Wenger's harshest critic for the past two years but the signing of Ozil, the return of Flamini and the mentality change which appears to have happened has won me back.

Win, lose or draw today -just back the team ahead of a week full of fixtures we love, big teams, big stadiums and hopefully some big results.

It's not a test, this is football. COME ON ARSENAL!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

The Newsroom series 2 so far

With the final episode of series 2 on Sky Atlantic HD this Monday, I thought I would blog about the series so far and my thoughts on series 3.
Initially the format, switching between the present and past events was hard to follow but then again writer Aaron Sorkin does like to tease his viewers!
But the more you got into the guts of the story - a shambolic failure which resulted in a completely
made up story going to air - the better it got.
Jeff Daniels (Will) is winning Golden Globes aplenty at the moment and you can see why, the closing two minutes of episode five are some of the most emotional I have seen on television.
But Emily Mortimer (Mac) and Sam Waterston (Charlie) deserve huge praise, each in their own way has added to the drama and made journalism accessible.
Every journalist takes on the big stories and has to ask 'is my source credible' and sometimes it does get as far as print/broadcast.
'If something is too good to be true it probably is' does not necessarily apply in journalism, sometimes the truth is out there but proving it can be the nightmare.
What makes this show great is that nothing about the newsroom itself has been glammed up, what
you see it what goes on in newsrooms all over the world.
But it needs actors to bring it alive and Aaron Sorkin has enlisted the best, Daniels, Mortimer and Waterston not only shine but drag Thomas Sadoski (Don) John Gallagher Jr (Jim), Alison Pill
(Maggie) and Olivia Munn (Sloan) into the sunshine with them.
The Will and Mac love story has been sustained into the second season with the right amount of love/hate typical of a once linked pair.
Pain and humour are inter-twined and I love Will's sarcasm throughout this series and his sometime complete lack of understanding of the world away from the anchor desk.
The reveal that 'Genoa' was spectacularly wrong was brilliant, Sorkin spent six episodes building the story and smashed all the very plausable sources for the story in just an hour or so.
One of the highlights of series 1 for me was the use of music to close the episodes into the titles, this has been missing this series.
However, Sorkin has replaced them with killer lines such as Charlie's: “The broadcast finished at 10pm, by five past we knew we had a problem, none of it was true.”
Maggie's emotional turmoil is explained well enough, I would have liked a bit more but I guess that could be in the series finale.
Series 3? Yes please, I just hope Sorkin has enough material to play with away from the news stories on which every episode is built.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Facebook's Face Palm moment

FACEBOOK's decision to lift its ban on beheading videos has provoked much debate around the world.

Firstly for me, why was it a temporary ban? It's hardly censorship to say we don't want you to see human beings getting their heads chopped off!

Secondly and most importantly, is this really what we want young people looking at? Jeez I am no prude but surely no teenager wants to see this or am I getting on a bit?

Finally, we live in a dangerous world where terrorists seek and crave the publicity social media can

It used to be videos on You Tube but social media is the next gruesome frontier for terrorists to make their point and get their messages across.

Showing videos of people being beheaded plays down a rather dangerous corridors that we may struggle to return from.

I wasn't going to blog on this, started work on revamping the blog you see, but a text chat with a
friend of mine convinced me to write something.

She mentioned it to me and pointed out she was banned from showing a picture of her breastfeeding her son because it was deemed nudity.

Now her son laughing at the camera in just a nappy, that was fine and dandy but one of the most natural things in the world is deemed 'offensive'.

As offensive as watching life end in one of the most brutal ways Facebook? Yes I watch Game of Thrones and see beheading once in every three episodes but those actors are playing parts.

The sort of videos Facebook is now letting through are real people losing their very real lives and to be honest the decision stinks.

Care to explain Facebook? Seems a weird decision for a company listed on the Stock Exchange, I wonder what the investors think?

REVIEW: Football Manager Stole My Life

BACK Page Press have hit the back of the net with Football Manager Stole My Life, if you not a fan of Football Manager you will be by the end of this book.

If you are a fan (spelt a d d i c t as many of us are) this book will help explain that the weird things you do as a result of playing Football Manager are perfectly normal.

Imaginary press conferences in the shower, suit on for the cup final, doodling tactics on a notebook at your real job? Yes all normal and all sign the game has got you good!

What I loved about the book though is while it’s written for the Football Manager fan, it sells the game to a wider audience.

I know of a couple of friends who have become rather hooked AFTER reading this book, sorry to them in advance for mentioning it!

From the tales of the legends of the computer game on how they got in the real game to tales of celebrities and TV presenters who have become lost in the game, Football Manager Stole My Life has it all.

It’s amazing to read how many pro footballers play the game and pick themselves and how many people have had encounters with footballers and sought to tell them about how the pro rates in FM.

Some people will never understand the fascination (my better half included who talks about the dots on the screen) but those of us who play it will never be able to quit – god knows I’ve tried!

Leading Leyton Orient from League 2 to eight in the Premier League (CM 01/02), 33 years in charge of Arsenal (FM 2006) and Southampton from League One to the Premier League are among the highlights.

Playing as Wycombe on the verge of play off and possible automatic promotion cost me a night’s sleep – only when I lost the play off final 8-7 on penalties did I realise it was 6.10am and I had to be ‘up’ in an hour!

Special mention has to go to Iain Macintosh for the Heidenheim chronicles which close the book, won’t spoil it but you will feel his pain and yes, understand the madness!

Bravo Back Page Press, a man of the match performance with this one!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Cameron should attack UKIP, the UK Tea Party

'We want our country back' boomed Nigel Farage at UKIPs annual conference.

Aside from the obvious falsehood that the country has not gone anywhere, it nevertheless remains a statement of intent.

Farage is shrewd, canny and clever and talks about taking votes from all parties. The truth is he wants to do to the Conservative Party what the Tea Party did to the Republican Party in the United States, suck them dry and become a real voice on the right of British politics.

The Tea Party lured so many 'traditional' Republican voters that the GOP has picked extremely right wing candidates in last two Presidential races in a bid to secure the Tea Party votes.

Not brilliant when they are up against a mixed race president who shattered many social stigmas when he won the presidency.

The result is a Republican party which eschews candidates like Chris Christie and promotes the likes of Romney, Perry and Herman Cain.

It’s an influence which is now keenly felt on Capitol Hill and UKIP would love to recreate that at Westminster.

A pact is about likely as snow in the Mojave Desert - Farage doesn’t like Cameron’s brand of Conservatism and Cameron doesn’t like Farage and UKIP period.

So 2015 there will be a choice for Conservative leaning voters – the Tories or UKIP. Do they abandon a Conservative Party they don’t like under Cameron and install a Labour Prime Minister or back Cameron and risk being alienated even further.

And that’s why I think Cameron was understated at his party conference this week, safe and steady speech stressing the need for a safe and steady hand on the economy.

Interestingly there was a strong focus on backing big business by attacking Labour’s plans to halt the Corporation Tax and an admission about the furore over gay marriage – a gentle prod back at UKIP.

The Prime Minister may have looked down the camera and not in the hall but I think it was a speech designed to speak to lifelong Tory voters.

If Cameron can persuade them he embodies many classic Tory values as well as those of 21st century Britain he may see off the UKIP threat.

If he can’t then he may go down in history as the Conservative PM who failed to win what many considered an easy election in 2010 and then lost because of a party with no MPs at Westminster currently.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Mail's attack on Miliband's father shows how low we have sunk

The piece on Ralph Miliband in Saturday's Mail has proven just how low we as a country have sunk.

Not wanting to debate his policies, fact check his claims and lay out how much they would cost the country if elected, Paul Dacre has gone for the lowest of blows and smeared a dead man.

Ralph Miliband died in 1994, seven years before Ed Miliband became part of Tony Blair's Government and almost a decade before Ed was elected as an MP.

Yet now is the time to declare Ralph 'hated' Britain. We'll ignore he escaped to this country away from Hitler's persecution of the Jews, we'll also ignore Ralph actually fought for his country against the evils of Nazism.

But because he was a thinker, because he believed in a different way, because he did not like the Britain he was a part of, he was this evil being?

No, he wanted better for his country, wanted better for his children, something we all want on a daily basis and have the right at the ballot box.

The Mail justify it by saying Miliband speaks highly of his father, who wouldn't? His father braved the Nazi's twice, once to escape for a better life and secondly to stop Hitler inflciting the Nazism on the rest of the world!

But to suggest a plot, a conspiracy is lunacy, when Ralph died in 1994, both Miliband brothers had not even been thought of as MPs!

What sickens and saddens me more is the lack of outrage from a number of people on the right, Boris Johnson and Prime Minister David Cameron have backed Ed's right to defend his father but not condemned the Mail for its actions.

No surprise given the Mail's predominately Tory readership but this is not how we do politics, sullying the dead who cannot respond.

Sometimes it's cringy but I do not mind seeing politicians talk about their upbringing, you could see the love between David Cameron and his father on the campaign trail in 2010.

We cannot deny our parentage, we are made from the union of one man and one woman, nor should we.

But there is a line which should be crossed, attacks on the dead with the aim of suppressing the work of the child is not the act of a decent society.

It's also rather hypocritical of the Mail given their attacks on groups of people who, wrongly, 'celebrated' the death of Margaret Thatcher.

As a journalist, I vehemently oppose the introduction of the Royal Charter, but if it's introduced, after this then I would not be surprised.

Shame on you Dacre, Shame on you Daily Mail

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Asda’s gaffe shows mental health is still a ‘joke’

THIS blog was going to be about football or some other mundane thought rattling in my head, but thanks to Asda, it’s an angry rant.

You may have seen that the store has apologised this evening for trying to sell a ‘Mental Patient Halloween Costume’.

Oh it gets better... it even came with the strapline ‘Everyone will be running away from you in fear in this mental patient fancy dress costume’.

Oh it gets better again....the costume is a blood soaked shirt with meat cleaver! Yes because Asda’s wonderful creative department think everyone with mental health issues has been on a rampage recently.

For crying out loud it’s 2013, we have hybrid cars, TVs the size of a small country, we manage many diseases, we deliver babies in women’s homes, we send humans into space so why the F*** is it acceptable to a) make sick jokes about mental health and b) still not have serious discussions about the subject.

Why on earth can a major supermarket sell costumes like this but people even with mildest depression are told to ‘cheer up’?

Why on earth can we make jokes and sport stars with depression are told to ‘grow up’ and why do people still back away from those with any form of mental health problem.

I haven’t shared this with many but my mum is slowly succumbing to dementia and over the last 2 years I have seen people, friends even, back away from seeing her because they don’t understand what is happening.

That is not to say they are bad people, far from it but an example of how uneducated we are about all mental illnesses; from depression, personality disorders, ADHD and bi polar to Alzheimer’s and dementia.

None of it can be cured, just managed, the sufferer doesn’t pick the illness, the illness picks them. Many have a brush with depression, I hit rock bottom one January night and all sorts of very dark thoughts came to me.

Only by speaking very quickly about how I was feeling (because I was so shocked at the thoughts) to my wife and her gentle affection and listening ear pulled me back sharply.

Some are like me, the lightest brush and a quick scare, some are not. We should not mock, we should listen, we should not joke, we must support.

If you read this and agree with me, great more power to you, if you read it and realise something is wrong then talk to someone.

Plenty of people are walking and talking today, living with an illness, but guess what they aren’t hacking people to death!

Shame on you Asda, f****** shame on you.

Visit www.mind.org.uk www.rethink.org www.youngminds.org.uk www.sane.org.uk www.together-uk.org or type mental health into a search engine.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Time to freeze the Tories out now Ed

I GOT it, three years after he was elected, I now know Labour made the right choice and picked the right Miliband.

What Brighton and the country saw today wasn’t socialism, a return to the 70s, a union manifesto, the same old Labour (some of the Conservative criticisms I spotted) but common sense.

Why can’t the big six energy companies, whose profits are in the billions, take a price freeze for 20 months to ease the burden on home-owners.

Why can’t we build houses? Why can’t young people aged 16 help decide on the nation’s Government? Why should un-used land remain un-used land?

Commentators have said there was no mention of Clegg and the Liberal Democrats and they are right, but Miliband nicked their fairness theme good and proper!

Let’s make this energy freeze clear, it’s a freeze from May 2015 until December 31 2016, what happens after that god only knows but Miliband didn’t stand there and promise prizes would be fixed forever.

It’s about putting money in people’s pocket and could be nothing more than an election bribe, Conservatives will do everything to get you on a cheap tariff, Labour will ensure you pay that tariff for a fixed period.

On voting, politicians talk every day about engaging young people in politics, Miliband has suggested actually doing something about it.

On forcing people to give up land they own for development, well look at the derelict buildings in your town, ask yourself, could something be done with it?

The Conservatives have introduced a mortgage scheme making it easier to buy a home, Labour suggest building new homes and getting the UKs flagging construction industry moving.

There is some flesh on those bones now, it’s a good start and certainly the mention of ‘My Government’ was sporadic and far from presumptious.

And the macho cabal...I mean challenges to the Prime Minister were clever, Mr Cameron now either has to answer back and risk being accused of having nothing to say re policies or risk saying nothing and being accused of backing away.

Labour have cleverly took away a lot of attack weapons from the Prime Minister and Chancellor George Osborne this week and created an impression they could form the next Government.

But, having made the weather, Miliband and his team must ensure they make it rain on the Prime Minister every day from now until May 6, 2015 – the date of the next General Election.

If they don’t then Ed may have to grab an umbrella himself and prepare for a deluge....

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Ashcroft poll highlights PM's problem

POLITICAL sage Lord Ashcroft has delivered another piece of enthralling research, this time on 40 key marginals across the UK.

A total of 32 seats are narrowly held by the Conservatives over Labour, eight by them over coalition partners the Liberal Democrats.

The good news for Mr Cameron is that the Tories will hold those eight seats from their Liberal Democrat partners.

The bad is Labour would take the 32 seats AND a further 66 should the party notch up the 8.5 per cent swing Ashcroft has found in these marginals, enough to put Ed Miliband in Downing Street with no need for deals...

But this is no 1997 landslide in the making, more chronically worrying for Mr Cameron is Labour is so strong in these marginals because the Conservative vote has jumped ship to UKIP with Lord Ashcroft recording a rise in eight points since in the Farage vote since 2010.

In my professional life (professional? me? lol) I saw first hand the UKIP threat covering the local elections in Worcestershire in May. While UKIP did not win a seat in my patch they reduced some pretty hefty Tory majorities almost to dust.

They even kicked Tory councillors out in some parts of the county and there's the rub for the Conservatives. Accept UKIP is a problem for predominatly them to handle, they may yet win in 2015, deny it and they lose.

While Ed Miliband floats along, the Prime Minister would do well to turn the attack away from Labour and on to UKIP to try and tempt his waivering voters back. Strong leadership, real signs the economy is back off its sick bed and a concentration on core Conservative values would help.

A business focused PM, one that looked after the pennies and made people feel wealthier again and Labour are quite possibly knackered.

While I applaud the PM for his gay marriage legislation, that was a second term issue and something rushed into, a charge you can level at Mr Cameron rather a lot since 2010.

And the truth is, he really ought to tell the backbenchers to simply put up or shut up, Major did it with Redwood in 95 and was thrashed in 1997 but Miliband is not proving to be Tony Blair, at the moment.

David Cameron is already the Conservative Prime Minister who lost the unloseable election, will he be the Conservative PM who lost the country to Labour thanks to UKIP?

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Goodbye, goodnight and thank you - Sir David Frost 1939 - 2013

THE death of Sir David Frost last Sunday provoked tributes from across the world, not surprising really for a man that has interviewed most of the famous faces around the world.

One of the saddest feelings was that a man who made such brilliant television during his career was not in a high profile role at the time of his death.

From That Was The Week That Was, to the Frost Report and from Frost on Sunday to Through the Keyhole, there was a charm and panache to whatever Sir David did.

And of course there was the legendary interviews with disgraced former US President Richard Nixon, dramatised in the film Frost/Nixon.

Watch the film yes but watch the actual interviews as well, a gradual and forensic disection of a man about to fall from grace.

His BBC One show Frost on Sunday set the agenda on a Sunday like no other political show has since, people like Marr and Andrew Neil can only emulate what Frost achieved.

But they were journalists from day one, Frost was a satitrist in the early days and actually made TV shows not just plonked in front of a camera. I think that is what set him apart and allowed him to get to the heart of the policy and spin.

Reading a number of political memoirs shows how feared Frost was, in the nicest possible way of course. Politicians feared an interview because they knew whatever message they wanted to convey would be subjected to the severest possible scrutiny.

Something which is missing now, too often programmes have been briefed in advance by Number 10 or the opposition meaning our elected officials are exposed to the lightest possible scrutiny.

His programmes often included an element of comedy as well and often showcased the talents of Rory Bremner, a satirist as well as impressionist.

I always admired him and his interviewing style and the fact he was a huge cricket fan and Arsenal supporter helped greatly!

So it was only right his beloved Arsenal beat Spurs 1-0 on the afternoon Sir David left us!

Goodbye, goodnight and thank you Sir David, may you rest in peace.

In defence of Ed Miliband and Labour

David Aaronovitch's piece in The Times today has convinced me that as far as our national news media is concerned, the 2015 General Election should be shelved in favour of a continued coalition or a Conservative government.
For those of you lucky enough not have read it, it is yet another attack on Miliband for taking a position on something.
Aaronovitch brands Miliband 'a vulture' and deplores him for not racing to support the Prime Minister's initial view Syrian should be blown to bits.
On Syria, there is no doubt Miliband played politics in the sense he knew the Conservative were hardly fully united behind their leader.
One of the roles of the opposition is to make the incumbent Prime Minister look weak and feeble, if you need proof look at at the sustained assault on Major by Blair for three years.
But Miliband has to define himself as leader, many in the UK think of Labour in relation to Iraq, is there anything wrong with a Labour leader urging restraint and diplomacy?
We have no CATEGORICAL proof Assad gassed his own people and we do not know what the tyrant would do in the event of any strike against the country.
Could he fire on Israel? Would Israel then retaliate? How would Iran respond? - can you see how quickly one strike against Assad could trigger even more tension in an already heated Middle East.
But Aaronovitch's piece is no surprise, Miliband simply cannot win with anyone in the national media at the moment.
  • He doesn't take a position on something – we are told we don't know what he stands for
  • He takes a position on something – he's not a natural leader, he is so wrong etc
On breaking Labour's historic link to the unions, Miliband proposed a change to let workers opt in rather than be forced to see some of their subscription go to the party.
Modern idea for modern and austere times, there may be people in unions who don't actually support Labour, so why should they help fund them?
But what did we hear, oh it will never work, Miliband won't do it he was voted in by the unions, etc.
And of course the economy, Tories blame Labour for reckless spending while in office (Conservative Party under Cameron supported Labour's spending plans until 2008).
I won't pretend I agree with everything Miliband has done, his rampant support for Leveson and closeness to Hacked Off annoy me.
I am also one of those who feel Alistair Darling must be brought back as Chancellor next year to add experience to the Shadow Cabinet.
And the party conference this year should not be about vision and hope, it needs to give a first glimpse of a future Government.
A 'vulture' then? No, just the leader of the opposition trying to end this cycle of long periods of opposition once a party has been kicked out of Government.

Monday, 26 August 2013

An Ashes battle won on the pitch and in the mind

I suspect that when we think back to the Ashes series of 2013 it won’t be with the fondness reserved for the to and fro of 2009 or the sheer Hollywood drama that was 2005.

The Australian fightback was brave yes but when you are beaten and beaten well in the first two tests its almost academic. We should know, English cricket teams fought for 18 years when the Ashes were gone or almost gone!

But 3-0 is 3-0 and while some experts say England did not deserve 4-0 they were within a light meter
reading of notching it up.

Truth be told England have not been brilliant, neither have Australia, but when it came to it, England delivered big time, Australia didn’t.

As a veteran Ashes watcher (ok I am 31 but god England let me down a lot when I was a young pup) what has been interesting is the sentence above – England won the big moments.

Before 2005, England had Australia down but just when the final push for victory began, Warne,
Waugh, Ponting, McGrath or someone else popped up and denied England.

That does not happen now, Australia have competed hard in this series, but when the final push began, they floundered at the hands of Anderson, Broad, Swann and Bell.

At Trent Bridge, the Australians took a lead in the first innings and had England on the ropes, enter Ian Bell with a hundred. In the chase, every time Australia looked to be on the way to victory they lost wickets.

At Lords, they bowled England out for much less than the ‘experts’ said was par, but were rolled for 128 themselves. Even when they reduced England to 30 for 3 the lead was still 263, it was a target they never looked like chasing.

Rain ruined their chances at Old Trafford but in Durham the Aussies were 168 for 2 and looking comfy chasing 299 for victory.

But when the winning post beckoned them, again Australia tripped themselves up and Stuart Broad took six for 20 in 45 balls to seal a stunning win.

I suspect Michael Clarke wanted to set England 250 at the Oval but again Cook’s bowlers chipped away in what was a second innings slog meaning the Aussie skipper had no choice but to offer 227 in 44 overs, rather generous..

What will happen Down Under? I suspect England will play better on quicker pitches but if Australia can go back to the old days and win the big moments it won’t be the cake-walk many expect.

As it stands though, many English cricket fans my age had not seen England win the Ashes in their lifetime, now we are celebrating a fourth win in five series.

Keep it up lads!

Stupidity denies spectacular end to boring test

WHEN cricket breathes its last breath it will look back to events like Sunday and say ‘Ohhh yeah, we could have done better there’.

Just 21 were needed for England to win the fifth and final Ashes test when Aleem Dar and Kumar Dharmasena decided it was far too dark to carry on and took the players off.

We’ll ignore the fact their concern did not prevent them letting Mitchell Starc bowl 90mph for six balls, we’ll also ignore the fact that it seemed only Peter Siddle was struggling to pick up the ball.

Two balls before the end, mid on dashed into to field a ball, clean and one handed threw it back to the bowler, you see it was pitch black out there....

We’ll also ignore Michael Clarke’s badgering of the umpires – as Geoff Boycott said you can’t dangle a carrot and then protest when it looks like you will lose.

Instead thousands who had been roused for an unexpected finale were told it was too dark, then looked up to see four big floodlights illuminating the ground.

The ICC have to wake up and realise t20 cricket is so popular because it’s free from bureaucracy and silly regulation.

The same MUST be applied to test cricket, too much will be said tomorrow about poor Michael Clarke and what a lovely declaration.

The truth is if some fielders couldn’t see the ball, I bet Bell and Woakes were having a bit of trouble picking up 90mph deliveries – it was the same for both teams!

Surely in 2013 we can have a regulation where the light can be over-ruled if there is a realistic prospect of a result?

Especially at the end of a test match which, let’s face it, hardly provided value for the money test match fans are now being asked for.

The light was closing in, but this was not Karachi in 2000 when England and Pakistan played to a finish in the dark.

Some commentators have pointed to that as a reason for the ICC not to go back to the rule where the light was offered to the batsmen.

But the argument is false, there were no floodlights in Karachi, had there not been at the Oval there would be no debate – it was that dark.

But the field was illuminated and surely messers Dar and Dharmasena should have a ‘common sense mandate’ to say a result is possible, the light is the same for both sides, let’s finish.

The reaction of the crowd spoke volumes, cricket has not got the same mass appeal as football, it cannot afford to annoy its spectators too much.

Are you listening Mr Richardson?

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Britain is tumbling towards the edge

The row over David Miranda has convinced me to write this blog and confess something, I am geniunely frightened for the future of the UK.
A number of events have taken place in the last few weeks which make me think we as British citizens are heading for disaster.
No I am not talking about immigration, the economy or even politics as such, I am genuinely frightened about the direction of this country.
We have a campaign to get a woman on the £10 note, ignoring the fact there has been one on all banknotes for more than 60 years, she is called HM The Queen.
Not for one second do I condone the morons who targeted the lady who led the campaign – they are sad pathetic little boys with little else to do.
We have a campaign to ban Page 3 and to get lads mags to cover up in supermarkets – to hear supporters of such campaigns talk it makes me think these ladies are tied up and gagged until they agree to pose for such pictures!
'It demeans women' and most shamefully there is a quote at the top of this page nomorepage3.org/about/ which links page three to rape and sexual assault.
Let's make this clear, rapists don't get their kicks off page three then go and rape a woman. Rapists
are cold blooded vile human beings who see no harm in the vile crime they perpetrate.
'The paper is left lying around for children to see' – then if they ask let's go back to a time where adults answer questions about the human body in an age appropriate way.
We don't talk to children about sex and their growing bodies enough, too many then seek to explore with the unwanted consequences of unplanned pregnancy.
'It makes girls think about their bodies' – on this I am with the campaigners, the pressure on teenage girls is vile at times, more needs to be done to encourage young girls to be who they are not what magazines tell them to be.
But is page 3 or Zoo magazine guilty of that? What about Heat, OK, Closer with their celebrity images, should they be blacked out to because they show the 'desired' body of Jennifer Aniston et al.
No, we as a society need to talk, to tell teenage girls that their bodies are just that, theirs and the only
opinion that matters is there own.
And finally, David Miranda being detained for nine hours......for taking stolen classified documents through an airport.
To listen to Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian's reporters you would think Britain had become some police state, that Miranda was beaten and tortured...
Ironic that a newspaper that supported state regulation of the press after Leveson now is complaining about......state regulation of the press!
When you listen to the debate, remember Edward Snowden now lives in Russia having spilled state American and perhaps British secrets to the Chinese and Putin in Moscow.
Snowden should be going down in history as a modern day William Mark Felt Sr (Deep Throat) for exposing a naughty Government programme.
And that dear reader is why I am frightened, all of this going on yet when the elected Prime Minister
of the day asks us to vote whether we want a new Government or not, less than 40 per cent of us take part.
There is a dark side to modern Britain, something I'm not sure I want to see

Monday, 19 August 2013

Panesar pain is sad to see

THE news Monty Panesar is being released by Sussex at the end of the season and joining Essex on loan is another chapter in a desperately sad story.
His altercation with bouncers in a Hove nightclub was initially quite funny, sadly that was before the full facts emerged.
In the cold light of day it could be seen as a cry for help, something I suspect more than one cricketer needs.
Panesar’s marriage has collapsed and he is away from family and friends both living in Hove and while on the relentless schedule that is county cricket.
He turned to alcohol alongside Rory Hamilton-Brown, another cricketer who needs support after the death of his friend Tom Maynard.
Salvation has never been found in the bottle of lager and while Hamilton-Brown is rebuilding his very existence away from the pain of the Oval, Panesar is in search of answers.
It’s very easy to say he throwing his life away, that he did not perform for England in New Zealand and that his actions recently deserve an exclusion from the England team.
But unlike Hamilton-Brown who escaped London for the seclusion of Hove, Monty needs acceptance, being in the England team was his buzz and his raison d’ĂȘtre.
No one knows how much trouble his personal life was in when he was away in New Zealand and hopefully Andy Flower is understanding enough not to call time on Panesar’s career with England.

But a bowling average of 40 for Sussex compared to 23 last year is not going to earn him a place in the team.

And it is not Monty who should seek answers, he should be given them by those closest to him, Sussex have allowed him closer to home, important for him.

But England need to tell him the door is not closed for good but a winter at home with his loved ones will be much better than one in the pressure cooker that is the Ashes in Australia.

It’s too easy to say sportsmen shouldn’t have troubles, they are human like everyone else.

Many of us are big Monty fans, the delight he had playing for England was infectious; hopefully it may happen again one day.


Monday, 15 July 2013

Trott's dismissal exposes DRS Achilles heel

THIS is not being a whinging pom as I was described on Twitter last evening, but the lbw of Jonathan Trott on Thursday simply should not have stood.

For those not up to date, Trott was given not out by Aleem Dar who clearly thought Trott hit the ball.

When referred, TV pictures appeared to show some sort of deviation when the ball passed the bat – ie Trott hit it.

Yes Hawkeye said it would have been out but we are constantly told DRS is there to eliminate the awful decisions, was there conclusive proof that Dar made a howler? Not for me.

Clearly not for Dar either as he shrugged his shoulders when he overturned the decision – why overturn it? Why not say to Marius Erasmus the third umpire there was no conclusive proof and he will stick with his not out decision?

It also showed the anti DRS brigade have a point, as the side on camera was not working because it had recorded Root's dismissal the ball before.

Irony upon irony, had England referred that decision Trott may not have had to come to the wicket as he may have been reprieved.

For me the episode has created a problem still not resolved by the ICC, how can a decision be properly checked on referral if all of the technology is not available?

Surely Erasmus should have been honest with Aleem Dar and said we think it's out, certainly based on Hawkeye but we can't check the side on camera so your decision could stand?

What is clear is those who oppose the use of technology now have a bat to attack with while the ICC have a huge headache.

When England's innings does come to a close there will be doubt about whether one of their wickets was truly out, it's like the time before DRS was introduced.

And that for me is just not cricket!

The hypocrisy over Broad not walking is as bad as the original act

England won the first test by 14 runs, it was five absorbing days of test cricket which almost saw a remarkable victory for the men from Down Under.

Yet some in the media would rather keep focusing on an event on Friday night where Stuart Broad edged it to first slip and didn't walk after being given not out.

A crime against cricket, like father like son (a disingenuous reference to Chris Broad being ushered from the wicket in 1987) and just not cricket.

RUBBISH! Broad did what every cricketer would do given half the chance, put the blame back on the umpire and carry on.

The controversy was being whipped up, sports writers were desperate for Michael Clarke to have a go at Broad during his day four interview. His response? 'I certainly don't think any less of Stuart'.

Truth be told Clarke, for all his remonstrations in the aftermath, would have done the same as Broad and did do at Adelaide in the 2010/11 series – only an England review removed him from the crease.

But what is more galling is the hypocritical attacks on Broad and England and the praise lauded on Ashton Agar.

Agar made 98 on debut and yes was wonderfully entertaining, but amid the glowing tributes from the same writers who poured scorn on Broad was merely the briefest mention he was stumped and should have been given out when he had scored just six.

What's the difference? Is it not against the spirit of cricket that Agar went on to get 98? Oh wait he is only 19, on debut, Broad should know better and isn't Ashton's story so lovely.....

Again RUBBISH!! Agar would have seen the replay at lunch, he got away with it, so did Broad – the only difference is Broad had the brass neck to stand there.

He'll get it back at him, have no doubt, Broad will be public enemy number one in Australia this winter, if he has the brass neck to not walk he will need balls of steel to cope with the immense flak he will get from a 'passionate' Aussie crowd at places like the Gabba.

That's the choice he made on Friday eveningin 'waiting for the umpire' he will have to live with it, England had been wronged over Agar, Broad thought he would get one back.

We can either focus on the actions of one man or ask the real question, why was the umpiring for such a high profile test match so bad?

And late on Sunday night, hours after England completed the win, came the news three athletes had tested positive for banned substances.....

I know what I am more concerned about today...

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Miliband's Damned Unite-d

The Falkirk situation is a mess for Labour pure and simple, Tom Watson has taken the fall but in truth this could get serious for Ed Miliband and his team.
Miliband will have to explain how long he had the report and why it was not released and tackled sooner - if he doesn't then he there really is no point having a General Election in 2015.
And secondly, Miliband needs to have a fight, verbally with Unite and the Coalition. A good dust up with Len McCluskey won't hurt him, he needs to show there is while they swim in the same pond there is some clear water between them.
With the coalition he needs to be honest, no Labour is not ashamed by taking its money from nurses, teachers, public service worker - ordinary people...
Everyone knows when they sign up to a union where the money goes, to suggest otherwise is daft.
In his speech today, Ed can offer transparency, those that want to support Labour can, those that don't won't have to.
If he can score that hat trick he will get off the ropes I have no doubt, if he doesn't then it will be a knockout...
The Tories are cock a hoop and why not, this fell into their laps and Cameron gave Miliband a good kicking at PMQs as a result.
But they need to step back and do as little as possible now, drive the story and it will be easy for Labour to push back and say the Tories are anti trade unions.
A couple of well prepared soundbites from the PM about this now being a police matter and his confidence in any investigation should keep the pressure on.....
A note of caution for the Conservatives though, thrbshambles rather denied them coverage about the EU vote which was basically the point of even having it!
Miliband's speech today could be a game changer, because lets face it, while the Conservatives and Lib Dems talk about reforming party funding, they haven't done anything about it yet...

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Murray’s monumental moment was magic

I never thought I would blog about tennis, I can’t say I look forward to it, enjoy it or particularly care for the sport.

But today at about 5.10pm, I got it, I understood why the game matters to so many and why we as Brits should cherish a young man from Dunblane who opened the door and let the ghosts of the past out to finally be at peace.

Andy Murray is Wimbledon champion, the first man since Fred Perry in 1936 (77 years ago), the first Brit since Virginia Wade in 1977 and on 7/7 – who said 7 wasn’t lucky.

To put the wait in context, there has been a World War, countless Prime Ministers and US Presidents and yes...HM the Queen was still Princess Elizabeth since we last won at Wimbledon.

But now a new page has been turned, Fred Perry and countless valiant British men have been released, a British man won in SW19.

Tears were shed, sporting moments kind of do that to me, and an apology is forthcoming. For I was one of many who slagged Murray off in the past because I never thought he would do it and would just be an angry young man.

However, the angry youth turned into a champion – and a man England, Wales, Ireland and most definitely Scotland should be very proud of – sorry Andy!

The fact a man from Dunblane reached such heights on July 7 was extra poignant given the awful tragedies which befell the Scottish town and the events eight years ago today.

Murray is a former pupil at the Dunblane school where Thomas Hamilton took the innocent lives of 16 children and a teacher in 1996.

And eight years ago today, terrorists took the lives of 52 people in London in a co-ordinated set of attacks which were designed to change the way we live and make us live in fear.

We didn’t and for the first time I get the impression that we in Britain might just love this sporting champion!

The horrors in Dunblane and on July 7 2005 will never and should never be forgotten, but what Murray has done is at least make his hometown known for something other than tragedy.

And July 7 2013 will be remembered for triumph and British people coming together in celebration, I can’t think of a better way to stick it to terrorists than that.

Well done Andy, Britain thanks you!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Venables release poses difficult questions

THE release of Jon Venables from prison has been badly mismanaged from the very start, there was no need for the Parole Board to confirm he was due to be let out for a start.

The news has whipped up tensions on a deeply tragic and dark moment for many on Merseyside, finding out James's killer will now be free is another stake in the heart of many.

Debating the right and wrong is too much for one blog, but if he is to be released then surely it could have been kept quiet for a couple of weeks?

Instead it seems the Parole Board have almost previewed the release of a much-reviled figure, heaping more misery on James's poor family.

I have no doubt that Venables could be a changed man, he could live his life perfectly respectfully but the life he faces is uncertain.

And that is where the potential for problems begins. After months of being ticked off for its behaviour, I would put good money there are now national newspaper editors and proprietors debating the merits of
finding Venables....

And what's worse many who have criticised papers like The Sun will now lustfully feed on any information the same paper prints about Venables.

The lust for revenge against him remains high even 20 years on, if word got out then someone somewhere wouldn't hesitate to take matters into their own hands.

The film 'Boy A' is a fantastic insight into the world Venables could be dropped back into, although I have to stress it was not based on the Bulger case.

'Boy A' is a 2007 British film adaptation of Jonathan Trigell's novel of the same title and poses many questions about what is right and wrong. I suggest the authorities, family, friends and so-called experts watch

What is going to happen is deeply uncertain, none of us know and I will not encourage nor discourage any action.

But when the headlines begin to fade, I think we all must continue to remember a little boy who was cruelly taken too soon.

May he continue to RIP and my sympathies to Denise Fergus and Ralph Bulger, who did what no parent should ever do, outlive their child.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Forrest is not a paedophile, he is a deluded fool

LET ME make this clear, Jeremy Forrest is a deluded fool who prayed on the affection of a student, abused a position of trust and thought everything would be OK.

But a paedophile? No, that is very dangerous talk from the Crown Prosecution Service who were desperate to secure a conviction for this high profile case.

Did Forrest have lewd images on his phone/camera/computer? No
Did Forrest have previous convictions/cautions for indecency against a minor? No

It's clear from the comments of the girl today that she loves him and the 'affair' was two ways, she was attracted to him, he to her.

Many teenage girls I went to school with fancied one teacher or another, but then again us lads fancied one particular teacher as well, I will spare her any mention but I think she knew!.

In a position of authority and with the criminal checks done on all aspiring teachers, Forrest should have known that no good would ever come from beginning a relationship with a then 14 year old.

Whatever his feelings, he ought to have closed the matter down immediately and if necessary spoken to the headteacher to make him aware of the issue.

The defence said he was a 'good teacher who succumbed to temptation' – sorry, Forrest was the
responsible one here, he should have known better.

Another issue was the fact he is married! Surely a man of Forrest's seeming intellect could have computed what he was doing was wrong on any number of levels?

The girl clearly responded to Forrest and may have led him into the relationship – this is not the story of evil teacher luring a pupil for sex.

It is a love story, girl fancies boy and hope their 'love' will overcome the social and legal difficulties it created.

Clearly from hearing the evidence, Forrest was a very popular teacher who connected with his students on a number of levels and inspired them to achieve.

There is nothing wrong with a teacher blogging, befriending his pupils, chatting to them outside class – it's when it goes to the next level that problems arise.

That has been blown to bits now, he will never hold a teaching post again, the girl and her family will be whispered about for years to come.

Love is supposed to conquer all, but as this case shows, it can be a pretty destructive weapon as well.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Warner AND the Aussie management have all had too much to drink!

QUESTION – You are a member of the Australia management in England four weeks before the Ashes.

Your opening batsman has punched an English rival in an Aussie-themed pub, he looks remorseful after you ban him for one game – what would you do next?

Would you a) pack his bags, put him on the first flight home vowing he will never play cricket for Australia again or b) accept his remorse, make him apologise, hand him a massive fine and warn him he is living on
borrowed time?

Either one is acceptable really, perhaps b) attracts less headlines and maybe gets your opening batsman to think long and hard about what he wants.

Instead the Australian management chose secret option c) completely knacker their chances in the Ashes with the weirdest punishment ever handed out.

David Warner has been banned from playing for Australia until the first test match of the Ashes on July 10, yes he has been fined but he will be a cricketer not allowed to play cricket while his mates can.

Now I understand he will probably be dropped for the first test as a result but consider this – Chris Rogers, the only other opener who could be consider as Phil Hughes is so badly out of nick, was dismissed TWICE
in one day for Middlesex against Yorkshire yesterday.

If his run continues and the Aussie selectors stick with Hughes at three you could have Warner walking out to the middle for the first ball of the Ashes having not played cricket for over a month!

In effect, this 'punishment' is the Australian selectors offering to start their innings at 0 for 1 and putting pressure on an already brittle batting line up.

Michael Clarke and coach Micky Arthur appear to be hell-bent on enforcing the law on this squad. Easy when you are respected like Waugh and Ponting were, harder when most of the dressing room don't like
you Michael.

Either way, the Aussies appear to be on the backfoot in the lead up to the Ashes series, it will be Captain Cook's job to keep them there.

Cloudy morning July 10, bit of green to the Trent Bridge pitch – win the toss and hand the ball to Anderson and Broad skipper!

Friday, 7 June 2013

Heard it all before Ivan, sorry I don't believe the 'hype'

ARSENAL fans are getting very excited after Ivan Gazidis was quoted in a number of national newspapers saying the club basically had quite a lot of cash to hand now.

Add to that the rumours stating the club had met the release clause for Marouane Fellani, were interested in Gonzalo Higuain and potentially had the cash to get Wayne Rooney and you could forgive us Gooners for getting rather giddy!

But we have been here before, a couple of transfer windows back a lot was made of the fact Arsene had the cash to splash but he didn't do anything

And I can't help but think Ivan, a man I don't particularly care for, spoke to journalists in a bid to secure an easier day on Monday at the Q and A session.

Talk a good game for the weekend and fend off some of the criticism he is bound to get, some Tweeps will brand me one of the WOB's (Wenger Out Brigade), I am an Arsenal fan who wants the best – celebrating fourth place in my opinion is vulgar.

I don't suspect anything will happen on any transfer matter this summer and the club will continue to meander along under the stewardship of a man whose best days are behind him.

In the pursuit of success, Man U went for a manager on a long contract, Mourinho was enticed back to Chelsea and Man City sacked a bloke who won their first PL title just 12 months before.

And Arsenal? Talk of a new contract for a man who has won nothing for eight years and not only that presided over a season which saw them dumped out of competitions by Bradford City and the basket case of a club that is Blackburn Rovers.

I won't forget the job he has done for Arsenal, I don't believe we would still be in the Premier League had he not come in.

Long ago I argued the case for him announcing before the last home game he would be leaving and then getting the ovation and respect he deserves before the game, ala Fergie's departure.

He deserves our gratitude, respect and adoration for ensuring the Arsenal remained part of the footballing elite.

But under him now, we will go nowhere.....prove me wrong Arsene and Ivan, make a statement this summer and put us back in the game.

I will not only admit I was wrong but I will be proud to do so!

When 'good' lobbying becomes 'bad'

IT HAS been interesting to think about lobbying in the past 24 hours, watching Panorama last night and seeing what Patrick Mercer allegedly got up to was rather embarrassing.

But then you take a look at the front of the Pershore Observer this week and my story about Harriett Baldwin, Pershore's MP, who has become one of the first MPs to declare all her meetings with so-called 'lobbyists'.

For me that shows that lobbying is not only good but essential to our democracy, it's how its done which is the toxic problem.

Banning it altogether means nothing will ever get done and our MPs will sit in a bubble in Westminster and not know what is going on in the real world.

But paying for access or questions to be asked in our Parliament though is wrong, our MPs are accountable to all, not to just those with the deepest pockets.

If I own a business in Bromsgrove and can see my firm growing hugely despite 'red-tape' restrictions, why shouldn't I contact my MP to see if he/she can raise the matter?

But I would do that by inviting him/her to my business or asking to see them at a surgery, not by offering them a fee to be a consultant!

If my MP then ignores me or looks like he/she can't be bothered, well then come election day perhaps my cross goes elsewhere.

MPs have to learn that the more honest they are, the better the electorate will think of them. I can;t speak for the people of Newark and how they feel about Mr Mercer, I don't know the area.

But as a journalist covering the Pershore area, I can only applaud Mrs Baldwin for actions, she has got nothing to hide and as she says 'sunlight is the best disinfectant'.

I'd rather a busy MP who did meet groups to learn more about their work and any potential benefit for the local area than one whose sole purpose was to further themselves solely.

This is not a scandal about lobbying, this is a scandal on how a necessary process like lobbying can be abused for personal gain.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Press hasn't been gagged over Downing Street 'affair'....

It's an affair which has 'stunned' people in Downing Street and could have huge repercussions for our Prime Minister David Cameron.

So much so that the Mail on Sunday quoted the line that Mr Cameron ‘immediately realised the importance of the story'.

The Mail also added: “David Cameron holds crisis talks at Downing Street after being told of the alleged affair which has potentially significant political implications for him.”

Yet amid all the rumours there were demands for the names and accusations Downing Street and Mr Cameron had told the Mail on Sunday not to run something.

Rubbish, do you really think a Conservative-leaning newspaper would have run this unless they knew the damage it could do to Mr Cameron who is hardly their friend at the moment.

The simple truth is the Mail on Sunday ran as much as it could do by law, there is no junction or super-injuction preventing the MoS spilling the beans but other legal reasons.

As I tried to state last night, newspapers are governed by a variety of laws and restrictions and cases like this show how responsible the industry can be.

The names of the two rumoured to be involved are rather widely found now on the internet and social media.

I would imagine the Mail's lawyers are working on a way around the legal restrictions as I write this as a result.

Even though this is a personal blog, I abide by the laws covering my profession so I won't reveal the names.

But if the rumours are true and they are indeed the two people involved, our Prime Minister will have a huge headache.