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Month: May 2013

The Nine Degrees of Neil James Monnery

Neil James Monnery is what my parents named me.
Early life would not be easy because of a duff arm and a duff leg.
Incidents of falling over would be far too commonplace.
Labelled as ‘disabled’ is something my mum would not tolerate, something I would learn to appreciate as I struggled to be like every other kid.

Nippy is not a word you could use to describe me but I can walk and run, which wasn’t exactly a given at one point.
Early it was noted that I was a gifted child.
Intelligence is something I had but I fear I wasted.
Lamentable are my school grades, despite never ever failing an exam or test I didn’t excel as much as my brain allowed.

Negative traits I have a fair few.
Envy is one that rears its ugly head on too many occasions but dissipates quickly.
Irrelevant and Insignificant are two I constantly fear I am.
Lackadaisical though is one that can very easily stick.

Not everything though is a negative.
Earnest I am.
Imperturbable in a crisis.
Liberal in my views of the world and of the people therein.

Narrow-mindedness makes me sad.
Egotistical people too.
Intolerance of others is another bug-bear.
Let us not dwell on what crushes my spirit though.

Normal is vastly overrated ergo I am not normal.
Early mornings are something that I do not miss.
Inane is something I worry my life is becoming.
Lucid though is my mind.

Naive I have been called.
Eloquent at times.
Influential on rare occasions.
Lovely…well once or twice.

Now to round this all up in a nice little bow.
Easy, life is not.
It has ups and it has its downs.
Life though is a journey and one that I have have a long ways to go.

Nine degrees of Neil James Monnery.
Each verse made up of the letters of my first name, acrostic they call it.
I am immensely proud of this poem and to a significant degree the person that I have become.
Like me or not I always try to be a good and decent person, that is how I would like to be remembered when all is said and done hopefully on a day far away from today.

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David Moyes to United – My thoughts…

…because I know you are all dying to read them.

First of all I am surprised that the Manchester United board have gone with a guy who whilst I think can do the job – has yet to prove his ability at the very top table. It is always good to bring through new blood and give (relatively) young managers a chance but Manchester United are a club listed on the NYSE and the share price is extremely important to the club. Until Moyes can prove it I suspect investors will be uneasy.

Away from that though I am delighted that Moyes has been given a shot. I really am. I think he is the best manager outside of Sir Alex and Arsene currently plying their trade in English football. I would throw in Guy Whittingham as well but that I suspect might just be blatant bias. The job he has done at Everton has clearly been first rate and his record in the transfer market has been impressive. All managers have their misses but he has been able to keep his flops to a minimum and has always got the best out of his players. Taking chances on the likes of Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines were first rate as both of these players could be argued are in England’s best XI at the moment.

The big question though (well one of three but in my opinion the biggest and most stark) is how will David Moyes do when buying at the top table. I shop at various supermarkets but I suspect if I shopped at Fortnum and Mason I wouldn’t know where to start and would come out with posh nosh that actually wasn’t very good. Can Moyes identify the right player to spend £30million on? Can he solve the problem Manchester United have of finding that playmaker in the middle of the park? Can he attract players to join him over the likes of Mourinho etc…?

Another question is how he’ll deal with the egos of the bigger players. Lots of talk that Ronaldo might be returning but that Rooney wants out. What does he do here? Lastly can he deal with the pressure that comes from one of the biggest jobs in world football and following a legend? It is never easy to follow a beloved leader but when that leader left at the top and is still on the payroll and around? Oh boy…

I fear for David Moyes but you know what – he has well and truly earned the chance to try and whilst I’m no big Manchester United lover I will be rooting for him to succeed. However with Jose’s imminent return to the Premier League I’ll also be rooting for him. With my long team fandom of Arsene and the way his teams try to play then I have lots of rooting interests in the Premier League next season. Manchester City will not have any of that.

Moyes has always come across as first and foremost a decent chap and I personally respect that a lot. I think he can succeed at Old Trafford and the six-year deal shows that the powers that be at Old Trafford see this as a long-term appointment (and is possibly why Jose Mourinho was never a genuine contender). Lots of hard work ahead for him but what a job and what an opportunity. I wish him well and also to Everton for the way they’ve acted in all this – it has been very classy.

So at least two of the top four will be changing their managers this summer (United: Moyes, Chelsea: Mourinho) and who knows what’ll happen with Roberto Mancini. Sounds like a fun summer ahead!

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Should those arrested for sexual offences be named in public?

It is a question that comes and goes with various media stories and people have fairly entrenched views on either side of the debate. I am one of those people. I have strong views that due to the fact a not insignificant proportion of society equate an arrest or a charge sheet to guilt. I’ll ask these two questions and I want you to think about it and not just read past it.

If a friend of yours was charged or even just arrested for burglary would you treat them any different? If so, by how much? If the same friend was charged or even just arrested in relation with a sexual offence, certainly one involving children would you treat them any differently? If so, by how much?

Now i don’t have any statistics to back up my point but most people I know would be far more cautious with regards to someone who had been linked to a sexual offence. Certainly if you are a parent then would you want this person around your children? I’d pretty sure you wouldn’t even though they had not been found guilty of anything. An arrest or charge of burglary is a serious crime but there is a distinct different in how many of us perceive sexual crimes and all other crimes. We (rightly) find them more vile but we are also far more ready to err on the safe side in removing those people from our lives before the judicial process has played out.

The old adage of ‘mud sticks’ isn’t there because it isn’t true. It most certainly is true. Anyone who has been arrested or charged with a sexual offence will have that on file for the rest of their lives and it will follow them like a bad smell even if they were found not guilty or the charges were dropped or even if they were never charged. It is fair that innocent people are victimised (I don’t use that word lightly) because we as a society err on the safe side?

This brings me nicely on to my next point. At what point do we decide who the victim is? Do we decide that the victim is the person who has alleged a sexual crime against them from the off or do we decide they are a victim when a jury reaches a guilty verdict? Do we decide that the person arrested/charged is the victim if they are found not guilty or do we still perceive the person who alleges the crime as the victim?

Now clearly this isn’t an easy one to answer because there is a situation where both people can be victims, the person who alleges the crime may well have been the victim of a crime but the person arrested/charged with that crime might not be the right person. In that situation are they both victims or is one of them more of a victim than the other?

We all have different views on this case and one of the most prominent liberal voices out there, co-editor of Liberal Democrat Voice Stephen Tall has his and they are vehemently to mine. In his post Rape anonymity for the accused: well-intentioned but wrong, he concludes that, ‘Ultimately the best safeguard for maintaining a free and open society is an accountable and open system of justice. Secrecy, however well-intentioned, is hardly ever preferable to transparency, however messy.

Whilst on paper that seems the best way forward I would contend that in the real world that is not plausible. Justice can be seen to be served in a not guilty verdict but that verdict cannot undo the months (and sometimes years) the accused has suffered on multiple fronts. They find their social circle dramatically decreases whilst they await trial as people don’t want to associate with someone charged with such serious offences. They probably are at best suspended by their employer but in many situations they will be fired and are unable to find any more work until they are cleared and if they do it is unlikely to be in a similar field. Also as I hinted at earlier a not guilty verdict doesn’t ex-sponge people’s memories nor does it disappear from your criminal record. Yes you can have a serious criminal record without even being a criminal. A rape/sexual offence arrest/charge stays with you forever.

Some would say they would prefer to know if someone they knew was arrested or charged with such a serious offence as they have to think of their safety as well as that of their children. This is a fair point but at what point does a person constitute a threat? An allegation? An arrest? Being charged? Being found guilty of the crimes? I honestly don’t know but what I do know is that innocent people charged with such serious offences are victims. I’m not saying they are more or less of a victim than the alleged victim but they are victims. Yes a not guilty person can rebuild their life but they will always carry baggage with them and they will also always be looked at through narrower eyes.

I think I should put it out there that I believe the vast majority, let me reiterate that, the vast majority of allegations are made in good faith. We all know there are a number of malicious allegations made but we’ll ignore them for now even though they are a relevant debate. This is about a situation where there is a victim who has been attacked but at what point does the person the police decide is the person who attacked them deserve to have their name made public?

I know many (including Stephen linked to above) bring up the Stuart Hall case where him being named brought forward more victims and ensured a guilty plea and a sexual predator brought to justice but that is but one example. You could make a case for any piece of legislation based on one example. However I always ask the same thing – if you were an innocent person arrested and subsequently charged with such an offence, you lost all your friends and your job and lived a life of limbo for say a year or so before being found not guilty, finding that your social circle still weren’t sure and most of them still didn’t want to know you and then you couldn’t return to your job – or a job of similar standing – then would you feel aggrieved?

Darn straight you would. Your life would have been turned upside down through no fault of your own. Now whilst it is true that rape victims have exactly the same in that their lives are completely turned upside down, do two wrongs make a right? No. No I don’t think so – and more than that – I never will.

So to round this thing up one of two things need to happen, We as a society have to learn the difference between someone being found guilty of a crime compared to being charged or even arrested in connection with a crime (which I don’t think we can do) or we need to keep both the accused and the accuser anonymous until we can find out which of the two (or even if both) are victims.

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.