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Day: November 3, 2011

The life of a faker – the world of @pn_kev_shields

With Portsmouth fans desperate for any news about who the next manager might be suddenly last night we were overjoyed that someone was going to tell us all the inside news. A man called Kevin Shields who has never had anything published in the local rag suddenly turned up on twitter with the username pn_kev_shields (pn is used by all Portsmouth News staff on official accounts) and promised us exciting news and he started today off with this:

'Kev Shield'

A few tweets later he pulled back from the twitter username linking him with the local rag:

'Kev Shields'

A freelance who can’t even spell freelance. I bet he gets loads of work…

Then drama as the Press Conference happened but wait what’s this…the press aren’t allowed to report on it?

'Kev Shields'

In all my days of covering sport (well those days were a while ago now) I have never heard of this. I have been told things off the record by PFC staff back in the day and that news was embargoed until…the press conference. Something is fishy here…I don’t even think he’s an employee of the paper at all…

'Kev Shields'

So he is despite never having had a piece in the rag ever published. Must be a pretty shit journalist and yet they let him cover the big breaking PFC stories…?

But wait…he backtracks when a real Pompey News journalist tweets him:

'Kev Shields'


He’s clearly a wind-up merchant and it is there for all to see but the sad thing is many Pompey fans seem to be getting sucked in. A basic background check – i.e. googling will prove him to be a fake and then his stories don’t add up either.

So the @pn_kev_shields saga is over or is it…? What will the fake The News reporter say tomorrow? I await with baited breath.

Update: Google Jeffrey Noebels and you’ll notice the same photo as he has used as his twitter avatar.

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Women in the Lib Dems and the female Lib Dem blogosphere

*takes a deep breath and delves into a blog and isn’t isn’t how it will end up sounding like*

I was already researching a blog on female bloggers within the Lib Dems when I came across this piece entitled You should have your tongue ripped out”: the reality of sexist abuse online over at The New Statesman by Helen Lewis Hasteley. It’s a powerful piece detailing how much abuse women bloggers get and gets quite heavy and some of what these bloggers have to face up to is abhorrent and that is putting it lightly.

However I’m not going to get into that piece. It sums up some of the problems that female bloggers face and is well worth a read. I’m going to look into the Lib Dem blogosphere and the proportion of women in it considering we aim to be a diverse party and then get into women at a more national level.

When up at conference I spoke to (and overheard) numerous complaints about the lack of women amongst the Lib Dem Blog Awards winners. Men went 6/6 throughout the six categories and some felt this showed the party to not be diverse enough. Looking at the stats the general membership of the party was late last year (the last set of stats I can find) was 52% male to 48% female. Looking at the Lib Dem Blog aggregator though we find that 13% of the blogs listed are by women. That is quite a disparity.

Taking out the non Lib Dem award there were 19 people nominated for Lib Dem Blog awards and five of them were women. Bizarrely enough in every category we saw one female short-listed and three men. This equates to 26% of those short-listed were female bloggers therefore women were punching well above their weight compared to having only 13% of the blogs. You could read from this that the average content of the female bloggers was more recognised by the judging panel than their male counterparts.

It was also said both in Birmingham and on social media that it was a shame that all four of those who interviewed Nick Clegg were ‘white, middle-class men’. It should be noted that Caron Lindsay would have been interviewed the DPM had she been at conference on that Sunday morning. If my memory is up to scratch I think it was a family members birthday on the Saturday night and therefore she couldn’t get down to Brum in time for that interview on the Sunday morning.

In a way it felt to me then and still does now that some people believe that putting labels on people is an important thing. I am white and I am male, the middle-class bit we can discuss (did anyone see the photos from that interview with Nick Clegg? – I was wearing a hoodie FFS – that doesn’t scream out ‘middle-class’ to me but still…) and that is how people saw me. They didn’t see me as a blogger who had impressed a series of judges they saw me as a white middle-class male.

Speaking from a personal standpoint here (I’ve been told off before that I’m not allowed to speak from a personal PoV on my own blog) I don’t look at anyone and instantly put a label on them. Whether it be their gender, their sexuality, their skin colour, their age etc… I see everyone as equal. Yes I like some people more than others but when it comes down to it we all have feelings and we all bleed no matter who we are.

In blogging terms I don’t read a blog with preconceived ideas on the writer. What they write will mould my thoughts about who they are as no doubt my blog moulds my readers about the person and blogger I am. That is human nature. I read a few blogs a lot and then there are a few I read whenever I see it posted somewhere and it catches my eye. The bloggers that I return to on a regular basis are seemingly those that force me to think and that is how I like my blogging experience to be. I can get news anywhere but I want to have to think when I read blogs.

So what can be done about the supposed lack of diversity amongst Lib Dem bloggers?

Well firstly there are nearly as many women as men in the party of sheer volume isn’t itself a reason. Why do men seem to blog more than women on the whole within the party? Now that is a question I have no answer to. Here is a breakdown of Lib Dems in office compared to the average from other parties (data via a post by Mark Pack dated Nov 2010.:

55% European Parliament (+23%)
50% Welsh Assembly (+3%)
32% Welsh local councils (+7%)
32% English local councils (+7%)
31% Scottish local councils (+9%)
12% Westminster Parliament (-10%)
12% Scottish Parliament (-28%)

So there are plenty of women representing the party at five levels of government but nationally both in Holyhood and Westminster the level of females is too low. I know there is an argument that this is the reason we need a quota system or all female short lists. I do not believe this because that isn’t standing up to our philosophy that your age/race/gender/sexuality etc… doesn’t matter. We should elect who we best feel can represent our constituency not be forced into a quota system.

Some will say that seeing more female MPs will help inspire other women to get involved and make politics a fairer place gender wise. It is a fair argument but I’ve always wondered why people can only have role models of the same sex? Is Nick Clegg an inspiration to me? Yes. Is Paddy Ashdown an inspiration to me? Yes but also ask me if Jo Swinson is an inspiration to me then I’ll also say yes. As I would Lynne Featherstone etc… Just down the road from me in Brentwood we lost a councillor in May by just nine votes who was one of the hardest working and best councillors I have come across in Karen Chilvers. Does she inspire me to wanting to help better my own local community? Damn straight she does.

The Liberal Democrats as a party is not a closed shop. In a perfect world would there be a gender balance that is more in line with the membership numbers? Of course there would but clearly this is not an ideal world. So something has to be done that doesn’t go as far as All Women Short-lists but will help give women the leg up and in steps one of my favourite rules from a sport.

I suspect some of you have heard of the Rooney Rule. It is a rule from American Football that all teams looking to hire a new Head Coach have to interview at least one minority candidate. This does two things. Firstly the minority candidate might win over the owner and get the job but secondly it gives more coaches from a minority background the experience of the interview process. This is something maybe the party could look at.

I don’t know how many approved PPCs there are out there but I’d imagine there would be a significant amount. Could the party put it in there constitution that at least one woman has to be interviewed by a local party? Is that even how it works? I’d imagine a prospective candidate is interviewed either by the local party or at an open hustings or something like that. If the local parties are forced to at least interview one woman each time then it will give that talent pool a better shot of winning the nomination. Even if it means certain women being interviewed by more than one local party each time around? Is this allowed? I presume it is.

Something needs to be done. Both on the gender issue but also on the race issue. The Lib Dems in parliament are as pale as you can be. The courses being run to help those from the ‘non white, middle-class male’ backgrounds will help but until then we need to stop putting labels on such a range of our MPs, Councillors and even down to us lowly bloggers.

We are when it comes down to it all human first and foremost. Things won’t get fairer and more diverse just because we want it to, something needs to be done. There are just as many women as men interested in politics so the gender unbalance comes from another source. Women can be just as good of an MP as a man. We all know this but for whatever reason as a party we are producing very few MPs at a national level who are female. This no doubt has a lot to do with the lack of safe seats for the party, something the other two major parties don’t suffer from.

So to sum up in all forms of the party I think no-one is persecuted for their age/race/gender/sexuality etc… There is a lingering hangover that more men are in parliament than women and that is something that needs to be addressed but to do so via any means other than giving minorities more chances would be unfair. Should a white male be overlooked just because they are white and male? No. That is wrong. The best people should be nominated and elected. That to me should be underlined, written in bold and have a clear full stop at the end. I couldn’t care less if they were a man, a woman, black or white, straight or gay. The person who will best represent the party is the best candidate.

The doors are not closed for women and I don’t buy the argument that women need female role-models. I know I’m a man and I’ve been told by numerous people that I’m not allowed an opinion on female issues because my reproductive organs are on the outside instead of inside but I just don’t see it in this day and age when it comes to politics in the UK. We have had a female Prime Minister and other female party leaders. The barriers have been broken down. Any kid can grow-up to be an MP no matter who they are or where they are from. Do we need to give these people more of an opportunity? Sure but the door is not shut and it’s not even closing.

We should not lament that no women won any blogging awards or that all the winners were white and male. We should congratulate those who won and in the greater scheme of things is it really that important? Getting stick (as the Lib Dem Voice people did) for both the fact all the winners were male and white as well as all those interviewing Nick Clegg suffered from the same affliction is insane.

Personally speaking I’d welcome as many people into the blogging world as possible. You can never have too much contend to read. I’d also welcome anyone into politics who wants to be there. The more people who are genuinely interested then the better we’ll get at representing what people really want.

I just really think some people – make that a lot of people – want to put labels on everyone all the time and that is when problems arise.

Have no idea how this ramble will be received but heck we we go…

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Mohammad Amir gets sentenced to six months and we all weep once more

Like most cricket fans when the Pakistani players were alleged to be involved in spot fixing the only thing that once my mind wasn’t ‘I hope it’s not true’ as deep down we all thought it was but in fact ‘Please not Mohammad Amir’. Sadly though my hopes and those famously of Michael Holding on Sky Sports were to be dashed relatively quickly.

Having been a cricket lover all my life it pains me to see the sport brought into disrepute but what pains me more is to be the best young player I have ever seen coming through the ranks (Sachin and Warne whilst not before my time breakthrough when I didn’t have Sky so couldn’t fully appreciate them as young starlets) fall by the wayside and see his career gone before it ever really got started.

I recall that Australia tour down under where Pakistan to be blunt were a shambles at best and a joke at worse. They lost all three tests if I remember correctly but in two of them they gave the Aussies a real scare thanks to Amir and the bowlers suddenly getting their tails up. It happened over here to in the now infamous series where when the Pakistani bowlers go their tails up they caused the English batsmen all types of problems.

Yet I as type this the players that was the great hope of Pakistani cricket is sitting in a cell underneath the court waiting to be transported to prison to serve a six month sentence for deliberately bowling two no balls. His fellow fast bowler Mohammad Asif got a sentence of a full year whereas the captain has two and a half years to think about what he has done.

In some ways I think the sentences are harsh and yet on the other hand less so. I really don’t know how to feel about it apart from a sense of great loss that the world of cricket feels knowing that arguably the most important player of a generation is unlikely to see the field of play again. I know his ban will be up by the time he’s 23 but can Pakistani cricket bring him back into the fold? I’m really not sure.

He was the one that could have brought Pakistani cricket back and that nation is one of the most important amongst the test playing countries. Pakistani cricket will limp along but deep down all this case does is leave a horrible taste in the mouth. I couldn’t care less about the spot fixing per se which is wrong but honestly I couldn’t care. What I did care about was seeing Mohammad Amir lead Pakistan cricket back to the forefront of the sport. Instead all he’d lead in the next few months is an existence behind locked doors.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.