Archive for February, 2017
Yesterday we saw two by-elections go the way all the pundits (bar apparently David Dimbleby) expected. The Tories to win in Copeland and Labour to hold on in Stoke-on-Trent Central. This wasn’t exactly stunning news when I woke up this morning to see that they were indeed the results. The fact is that there were special circumstances in Copeland regarding nuclear power and Jeremy Corbyn that led to the seat always being a tough one to hold on to.
Corbyn was saved from humiliation by Paul Nuttall and his quite frankly shambolic campaign that took UKIP from odds on favourites at one point to realistically fighting for second place with the Tories who really didn’t even bother to campaign until late in the day when it became clear UKIP were all over the shop.
What I was surprised at however was waking up this morning and to see the word ‘Blairite’ coming up constantly on my twitter feed. Seemingly how people (and indeed some Labour MPs) are blaming the Copeland result on a backlash against the politics of Tony Blair. This is about as bewildering and off the mark as you can get. Yet they produce the stats that since 1997 the vote share in the seat has gone down consistently.
They might seem to forget that that was Labour’s high point where Blair was cruising and the party were competitive in seats where they had no business traditionally of being such. So of course the vote will have declined since because that is basic logic and maths, when a party is at their most popular they’ll get the most votes, when they are less popular they’ll get fewer votes. This is not rocket science folks, yet people are trotting out the mantra that it was Blair that cost them this seat (despite the party winning it with ease every time it came up whilst he was Labour leader.
Emily Thornberry said one of the big issues was all the fake news surrounding Jeremy Corbyn’s position on nuclear power. This woman is just something else. Every time she comes on my radar it is because she is just sprouting a clear lie or is tweeting something divisive. I’m not exactly sure what Emily’s problem with in the reporting of Jeremy’s position on nuclear power but he very clearly detailed his opposition to new nuclear power stations in his leadership election campaign. He of course said in Copeland that he’s now for new energy stations but when you say something like that during an election campaign in a seat which is very pro-nuclear after a long history of being against it, who is going to actually believe him? Seemingly not the people of Copeland.
The Tories didn’t win Copeland because they were popular, they won it because the Labour voters weren’t inching to get out and vote. The area is still very Labouir leaning but if you have a leader who doesn’t chime in with your views then people are going to think twice about voting that way.
In Stoke it was a similar situation. In what should have been a stroll in the park, even up to two weeks out they were in a real dogfight. UKIP kept tripping over themselves from Paul Nuttall claiming to live in Stoke when he didn’t to his Hillsborough comments being found out. At this point those people who were sitting on the fence started to come off the fence and go back to their natural home. Nuttall was unelectable and is now probably unelectable in any seat. I thought those Hillsborough comments were problematic but not a death knell but they were. Things like that live long in the memory.
So yesterday wasn’t a terrible night for Jeremy Corbyn. Two seats he should win with ease demographically but one did shave very local issues where he was a serious problem. I saw some Corbyn supporters hail Stoke as the party’s Waterloo moment and a victory to saviour. If winning a seat they should never have even had an issue with is grounds for great celebration, then I think that says everything about where the Labour party are at the moment. No-one knows what they stand for and they have two core sets of voters – the metropolitan and the industrial – who want vastly different things. You can’t please one without upsetting the other. This is a problem that they have seemingly no answer to as yet.
One thing is clear though. Labour did not lose Copeland because of Tony Blair. Anyone who truly thinks that either knows naff all about politics or are so blinkered they don’t recognise reason anymore.
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Mark Clattenberg has decided it is time to up sticks and walk away from being the best referee in not only the UK but in all of Europe and take on a new role in Saudi Arabia. I have no doubt it is mostly due to bundles of money that he has been offered and I have no issue at all with him making that decision. I mean who wouldn’t take a massive salary hike to to a similar job elsewhere? We all would.
The reason why I am likening it to politics is just watching the comments on this coming in is the fact that football fans are celebrating his decision. It is clear that he’s the best referee in the business but people because of their opinions based not on facts but on biased personal opinions they welcome the fact he won’t be refereeing games involving their clubs any more.
Football fans generally think that all referees are biased against their teams. It is only natural I suppose. They’ll remember the bad decisions they got but won’t recall the correct ones. Most refs get the vast majority of decisions right and those that they don’t, they often get wrong not because of bias but because they saw it at a bad angle or whatever. People makes mistakes but apparently football referees are not allowed to do so.
Now on to the politics aspect. People like to hear politicians who agree with their point of view. They don’t like to be challenged. This is why we’ve seen a rise in extreme views being either accepted or at least more widely reported than we did in the past.
People liked the fact we’d bring back £350m a week to the NHS because it synced up with what they wanted so they felt happy to believe it. It was of course total bollocks and a lie but that doesn’t matter. If someone says something that just enhances what you thought already then you are more likely to just go with it and believe it. Look at Donald Trump in the States, lie after lie after lie but people were willing to believe him because he just reinforced what they already thought.
People want to think Mark Clattenberg is rubbish because then suddenly they can point to games where he’s made decisions against their team and say that they only lost because of his bad decision making. It then stops the blame going towards the players and then they can feel good about their team once more. Simple eh?
Remember Clattenberg was widely disliked by the powers that be within the FA. Former referees David Elleray and Mike Riley are widely reported to have not been a fan and actively pushed the FA to not award him the FA Cup Final and to send Martin Atkinson to the Euro’s instead of Clattenberg. When Pierluigi Collina found out he changed the rules to get Clattenberg to Euro 2016 by granting him a wildcard. He got the Champions League Final and the Euro 2016 Final. He also got the FA Cup Final basically because the powers that be at the FA realised how dumb they would look by giving the final to someone else.
It is another link to how politics works. Sometimes peoples personal views taint what they are actually voting for. In the EU Referendum we saw many people vote out just to piss off the Westminster Elite. They thought it was worth giving them a bloody nose for that reason. People went away from the Lib Dems in their droves in 2015 in large part as a punishment for going into coalition with the Tories and now look at what has happened in the past 21 months and think ‘what did we do?’
Personal opinions will often trump reasoned points of views. People will often only appreciate what they had after it is gone. Whether it be the Lib Dems or Mark Clattenberg. The first is starting to see that people really are missing them. The local by-election results have shown us that the Lib Dem vote share is flying.
I am sure in the near future as we now have even fewer referees with the temperament and ability to handle big games they’ll start to miss Clattenberg as well as the microscope will focus in hard on the likes of Atkinson, Oliver and Taylor and if they make big mistakes in games people will just ponder, ‘where is Mark Clattenberg when you need him…?’
Later this March we get to see one of the biggest gambles of recent sport on TV contracts start to play out. When ITV lost rights to live Champions League games to BT Sport a couple of years back, it left them with a big hole in the pocket of the sports department. In what seems to have been a surprise decision they decided to use some of that money to become the new home of Horse Racing on terrestrial TV in the UK.
Channel Four had broadcast Horse Raving for over thirty years since 1985. They had taken sole possession of the TV rights from the BBC and had fudged the move by losing the charm that had seen the channel do so well. Gone were the likes of John McCririck and Derek Thompson (who was awesome, even as only a casual Horse Racing watcher, if I was awake early enough to catch The Morning Line I’d thoroughly enjoy his presenting style) and in came Clare Balding. It became a bit too slick for me and lost that appeal. Nothing against Balding who is an excellent lead presenter and was brilliant at the Olympics, I just didn’t enjoy her on Channel Four.
This leads me to the big move that ITV made, they managed to attract Ed Chamberlain from Sky Sports to anchor their coverage and what a masterstroke that was. Ed is the type of presenter who knows his role. It is to take a step back and allow the ‘experts’ to inform the audience and let them show off their insights. The way he took over Monday Night Football from Richard Keys and allowed Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher to make it into by far and away the most insightful and informative football review show on British TV showed that he is a genuine master of his craft.
Many casual Horse Racing fans won’t have seen him since his departure from Sky Sports and they’ll see for the first time at either the Cheltenham Festival or the Grand National in April. Both of these events are when people like me suddenly think it is time to tune in and watch a bit.
I have a good mate of mine coming up to visit in March and he’s already asked me if he can secure the TV for the Cheltenham Gold Cup on the Friday afternoon. He has real interest in the nags and when he comes to stay I often wake up and find he’s already been out to the shop to get a newspaper and is studying the form. He isn’t like me where I’d just go on what someone on TV said would be a good tip, he follows about a billion tipsters on twitter (ok a billion is probably a slight exaggeration) but this is a guy who takes it all very seriously.
For most of us though it is all about one race. They say Australia stands still for the Melbourne Cup and whilst the country may not stand still for the Grand National any more, it is still by far the biggest betting day of the year and the one time where those with zero interest in the horses will tune in and watch.
It is for days like this that Ed Chamberlain left Sky and became the lead presenter of horse racing at ITV. I still wouldn’t be shocked if ITV gets back some live football coverage he front it (or indeed is the lead for the World Cup in Russia) but for now it is all Horse Racing all the time.
For those that need more information on Grand National Day then where have you been? It is the one time you approach the grumpy coder in the corner of the office to ask if he wants to be part of your office pool. It is the one time most of us even remember horse racing exists as a sport. It is the one time a year where the sport might lead the news bulletins and for Ed Chamberlain fans it might just be the first time you’ve seen him since he left Sky Sports last year.
Boy I haven’t blogged for a while have I?
Well here we are. The sun is shining on the Essex Riviera and I’m sat in front of my keyboard about to write about a man who lives just a stones throw away and who has after over 11 years as an MP has finally decided to put his head above the parapet and actually have an opinion on something. Bravo James, good to know you aren’t just a no-name safe as houses MP who will do nothing in your political career but one who wants to show that you have your own mind and not just one hooked up to the Tory hive-mind.
Let me just double check what it was that made you want to go on the record and actually have an opinion. Was it to do with education? The Southend grammar school situation is one that often causes ire at local level? No it wasn’t. Ok maybe Southend Airport (or should I say London Southend Airport for branding purposes?) No it wasn’t that either. Maybe it was something to do with the Shoebury flood wall? Apparently not. Ah I’ve got it, you made a strong statement against the newly refurbished Tesco Express in Thorpe Bay where we both live? Actually that was me. It is bloody cramped and doesn’t have cherry coke in its meal deal range still. Gutting.
No the MP for Rochford & Southend East finally found the gumption to go on the record about Donald Trump. Not that he thought he was a sexist, racist arsehole who is a danger to the whole world. No that would be too normal. Instead he has stated that he’s unhappy with the Speaker of the House of Commons saying he would not welcome Trump to address the House of Commons. Duddridge tweeted, ‘I would prefer to hear Donald Trump speak in Parliament than to have to hear the Speaker pontificate on international affairs.‘ and has been on the TV shows this morning sporting a new beard (which seems surprisingly darker than his natural hair colour) defending his position that the Speaker has overstepped his authority.
It just seems surprising that this is the subject that he’s decided to make waves about. I wouldn’t have thought defending a man like Donald Trump is the thing you want to be remembered for when it comes to your political career but what would I know? He became an MP in 2005 and has done absolutely nothing worth noting. This is the first time he’s said anything that would make the papers outside of the local rag here.
Even last week when he won the #PMQs lottery and got to ask a question, instead of asking a question that would directly effect Southend residents and get him some kudos in the local rag (which at least David Amess does seem to do) he asked a planted nationally focused question.
I have lived in his constituency since 2010 and I think I have had one leaflet shoved through my door bearing his name and face. I live in the most solidly Tory ward in the constituency (at national level, at local level it votes independent) so I should be one of the targeted people as he’d want to run up the vote in Thorpe. The sad truth is though that he doesn’t have to because of safe seats, he doesn’t have to work hard to win his seat.
As a Conservative on these boundaries, he is extremely likely to win at a canter every time he’s up for election. He is the epitome of a politician who enjoys the lifestyle and perks (including having second incomes) but has no actual discernible skills as either a constituency MP or someone who’ll do anything significant in politics. He recently took on a role as an adviser to Brand Communications to advise them on business dealings in Africa, which seems far more up his street so you have to just wonder what is he in politics for?
If it is to make waves and promote Southend to the wider world and fight for his constituents then he seems to be falling down on that. The fact that the first time in the six years I’ve been a constituent of his that he’s done anything remotely noticeable is that he wants to hear someone who the speaker clearly inferred was a racist, sexist and someone who was against equality speak says everything.
I know I’m a member of another political party and therefore people may just see this as a run-of-the-mill political point scoring but I can assure you that it isn’t. It is mostly just frustration that an MP could say nothing remotely controversial in his whole political career and the moment he decides he wants to step up to the plate, it is to defend the right of the government to invite Donald Trump to speak in the Commons. I mean really. This is not a good look… (unlike his beard – which is).