Well that sucks.
BT Sport have stunned most casual observers not by re-upping their deal to show Champions League and Europa League football but by locking out all live games and highlights. This means they’ll be no terrestrial coverage even in highlight form. This shows us that UEFA are still money-grabbing so and so’s but also that BT are here to stay. They don’t care if they lose money on this deal because they believe it’ll be a loss leader for years to come.
Guy Laurent Epstein, who is the UEFA marketing director said, ‘UEFA is delighted to have extended the relationship with BT Sport for a further three seasons, taking our partnership to 2021.
‘BT Sport has proved to be an innovative broadcast partner, pushing the boundaries and covering the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League in new ways.
‘BT have delivered strong audiences in the UK and we are excited about their future plans for the use of social media which will engage a growing fanbase that consumes sport in different ways.’
I’ll translate that for you. What he means is ‘BT offered us the most money. Simples’ before he did an impression of a meerkat.
It makes little difference to me as I have BT Sport anyway but when they bid for the highlights package as well to deprive people without BT Sport any legal way of even watching the highlights, you have to look at the company and shake your head. This is a move designed to put BT Sport on the map and force football fans who want to watch any coverage of Europe’s premier club competitions to shell out the money. Talk about being ruthless.
In an article entitled, BT denies squeezing customers after paying £1.2bn for Champions League in The Guardian today John Petter, who is the chief executive of BT’s consumer division came out swinging denying that the rampant price rises for BT customers has anything to do with sports rights purchases. Even though most believed the previous contract was a massive overpay, BT have given UEFA 32% more money this time around. With Sky not expected to try and win back the rights with any massive bid, BT didn’t have to give UEFA just a big rise but chose to anyway.
Look I am a massive sports fan. Ask anyone who knows me in real life and I literally work my life around what games I want to watch on the tellybox. Yet even I can see when the TV rights bubble is ready to burst. This is a gross overpay by BT (as was the last Premier League deal by Sky) and with the fear that Discovery or Google TV will try to throw their hats into the ring, these two big companies will continue to pay over the odds for live sports coverage until one of them completely cracks. This surely can’t be too far away from happening.
I am appalled that they locked out FTA coverage of highlights. I just think that shows that they don’t care about people at all and are money grabbing eejits. I suspect this deal will lead to the brand of BT being tarnished even more. I am on the record as not being a fan of a multitude of their sports coverage (I can find it a bit too dumbed-down) but I’ll give them their due, when Gary Lineker anchors their CL coverage it works much better as when watching it I feel it is less pally and more robust discussion.
With the Ashes this winter being their first foray into English cricket (and with the best names all contracted to Sky) they say they’ll produce their own commentating team full of the second-tier commentators. This fills me with dread. I can only hope that Test Match Special can be synced up with BT’s pictures (or they at least offer the Channel Nine commentary from Australia) otherwise I think I’ll go stir-crazy this winter.
So BT Sport are here to stay. They’ll continue to ebb away at my enjoyment of watching sport. When a company thinks that Dareen Fletcher (or I should say ‘Fletch’) is better than Ian Darke as a lead commentator you know they aren’t looking to provide the most professional coverage about. They have it their own way. ‘This is how we do it on BT Sport’ yells Jake Humphrey all the time. Yes, so it is. It is worse than how everyone else does it and you ensure that FTA highlights aren’t available on TV and that you’ll show some clips through your social media Bravo BT Sport. Another bad day for fans, your customers and no doubt your shareholders.
What a day…
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.
Manchester Gorton is one of Labour’s safest seats if we look solely at the numbers. A majority of over 24,000 coupled with none of the other parties clearing 10% means that is any normal by-election, it wouldn’t really interest politicos. Yet we don’t live in a normal political era anymore and anything can happen.
One of the biggest reasons it was so safe came down to having an extremely popular and long-time MP. As we saw in 2015 for the Lib Dems, popularity and incumbency couldn’t save a plethora of MPs but this wasn’t a problem for Labour here. Sir Gerald Kaufman never had a majority of under 5,000 and never was truly challenged by the Lib Dems. He never even dipped below 50% of the vote. Yet here I am with writing a blog post with the title it has so I suppose I should explain why.
First things first, politics is changing and as I’ve said before as people we are less likely to identify with our ideology at the moment but are more likely to identify with our status on the EU Referendum. Are we remainers of leavers first and foremost? I know I’d still identify as liberal above being a remainer but that sentiment is not the norm these days. This of course may well change in the relatively near future but in the immediacy, that is the case.
Second is the CLP is in complete disarray. There is a good piece in the Manchester Evening News entitled The Labour battle for Gorton, which details some of the issues going on within the local Labour party. Now this isn’t abnormal, this happens to all parties in various places at various times. Still since the rise of Jeremy Corbyn and his radical new agenda of not holding the government to account (ok I’m being slightly facetious here) but since his supporters have flooded in, many local parties are pulling in different directions. They have fierce disagreements of where the party should go.
This leads me to the third reason, what if Labour select a Brexiteer Corbynite? This would be a good place for them to roll out this strategy. It is what a lot of the newer Labour members want. Jeremy Corbyn’s public and private views on Brexit seem pretty much at odds. Publicly he supports staying in the EU but he only seems to bang on about the European Workers Directive as to why. He told Adam Hills when he appeared on The Last Leg that he wanted to stay in the EU ‘seven or seven and a half out of ten’ and that is not a ringing endorsement at all. So why not go with a Brexiteer in this seat?
Honestly if the Lib Dems were to make a staggering (and lets not beat about the bush here – it would be staggering) then it needs Labour to have this strategy. If they put up a passionate Pro-EU voice or someone who isn’t on the ultra left of the party then they should cruise home with ease. However with the way Labour are functioning at the moment, who knows what will happen?
As for how the Lib Dems manage to navigate their way through the Labour carnage should it come about, well it will not be easy. In Richmond Park they threw the proverbial kitchen sink at it, in an ultra Remain area and still only just squeaked home. This though whilst being a 61-62% Remain area (based on estimates) has one very different thing in play, this would be the first time in the post EU Referendum era where the Lib Dems are the primary opponents to a Labour hold. This in itself is going to be enough for politicos to watch what happens closely.
Can the Lib Dems make serious inroads into Labour in Remain areas? This will be the first indication of whether they can or not. The Lib Dems got over 30% in both 2005 and 2010 but saw their vote share collapse after the coalition in 2015. Very quickly we’ve seen those numbers start to reverse. The Lib Dems haven’t lost their deposit yet in a parliamentary by-election since the EU Referendum. They lost it in Manchester Gorton in 2015 but that means nothing for the upcoming by-election.
All logic will point to Labour winning with less than 50% of the vote. The Lib Dems should finish second with over 25% (my guesstimate at this point would be 28-32%) but there is plenty of time to go. Plenty of hoops to jump through. Remember Sarah Olney wasn’t winning in Richmond Park until the final 72 hours as a very well executed campaign came to a head.
If Labour pick the wrong candidate, if Jeremy Corbyn continues to have dire ratings and if the Lib Dems get the right person with a clever campaign strategy then you never know. The party are between 7 and 10/1 around. That seems about right at this juncture but I wouldn’t be blown away if they hit 3/1 before polling day.
This by-election will be far more interesting than the raw numbers suggest…
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.
Well what do we have here? The most pro EU area of the country has been a rather dramatic change in polling as the Lib Dems polled in the YouGov London sub-section yesterday at 23%, which I think we’d all agree is worthy of a second glance.
For a long time I have held the belief that London would be the most ripe part of the country for the #LibDemFightback to gain serious momentum. The Richmond Park result was huge as overturning a 23,015 majority in under 18 months isn’t exactly chopped liver. I will admit that this by-election had some very localised issues involved and Zac Goldsmith didn’t have the might of the Conservative party machine behind him but he was a relatively popular constituency MP and he went down.
If the party can overturn a 23,015 majority running on essentially a sole ‘Pro fighting Brexit’ ticket then why can’t they do that elsewhere in the capital? Plenty of seats are suddenly in play due to the fact the whole shape of politics is changing. The electorate aren’t stupid and they can see that the Labour party aren’t exactly sure where they stand on Brexit. They have two constituencies, the pro Brexit lobby in the midlands and north and the anti Brexit lobby in the capital and other big cities. They can’t be all things to all people so they will either damage one by going one way or both by standing in the middle with their fingers in their ears.
The party that will pick up those votes – certainly in the capital are the Lib Dems. The membership of the party is growing considerably and at a vast rate of knots in London. Plenty of seats therefore become winnable – far more than anyone could ever have predicted a year ago. As an example I’m looking at Vauxhall. A seat that has only ever had a Labour MP but their current MP is Kate Hoey, who is vehemently anti-EU but she represents an extremely pro EU constituency. A large part of Lambeth is in this Westminster constituency and that area voted 79% to Remain in the EU. When an MP is so out of step on Brexit with their constituents then all bets are off.
If you’d asked me a year ago how many seats do I think the Lib Dems would win in 2020, I’d have put the number at around 20. The stigma of tuition fees would have been diluted somewhat by time and seats such as Cambridge, Lewes and Eastleigh would swiftly return back to the yellow column. Add a few good local campaigns and that 20 mark seemed like a good guesstimate.
Now though with Brexit being the Lib Dems back into the picture as having a strong voice on a matter, add with the fact the Labour party do not have a strong leader nor a strong voice on Brexit and even though we are over three years out and plenty could change, suddenly 40-50 seats isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.
Remember since the party was formed, the Lib Dems have done best in years where the winner of the General Election was generally well known going into polling day. When this happens people aren’t necessarily voting for who they want to be Prime Minister but are thinking much more locally about who they want to represent them.
Back to London though, this could be the start of the new politics that many people think could happen as we start to identify ourselves as Remainers and Leavers and not as Labour, Tory, UKIP, Lib Dem etc… if the party can build on the momentum we have both at local and at national level then a rebirth some the lows of 2015 could happen far earlier than any of us expected.
London isn’t the golden goose but it can certainly be a springboard. 23% of a small sub-section of one poll is statistically insignificant but it is a guide to what could happen. To see the Labour polling number collapsing in the capital and when you add in that for every 2015 voter Labour have lost to UKIP nationally, they’ve lost five to the Lib Dems, then the door might be opening for a big change not only against the Tories in south and south western seats but also against Labour in the big cities.
Everything is to play for…
Sometimes in life you just need a good belly chuckle. Some of us get this from recalling a funny incident from our past, maybe by watching a YouTube video or two, maybe some of us are so ticklish that a few clearly stroked feathers will induce laughter from the gut. Some of us though just look at what is going on in UKIP, have a wry smile and laugh.
The Douglas Carswell/Nigel Farage feud has been rumbling on for years. Pretty much ever since the former defected from the Conservative party to join the UKIP ranks. He became their first MP. One more would come in the form of Mark Reckless. He though would lose in 2015 and Nigel Farage would fail to win a seat in the House of Commons (yet again) leaving Carswell as their only elected representative in the chamber.
This doesn’t sit well with Farage. Not solely because he’s jealous as deep down he still thinks of himself as the top dog within the party but mainly because Carswell is relatively sensible and doesn’t think a radical agenda is what the party needs.
This morning Nigel Farage was on BBC Radio 4 and said the following about how he thinks the party should move forward regarding Carswell:
“The time has now come to have a clean break. To make sure we don’t have influences like Carswell taking us away from the key arguments like immigration.
“There have been some in UKIP who want to turn us into a mainstream political party with very bland messages and I would say Ukip is a radical party or it is nothing.
“This question of immigration is still the number one issue in the minds of voters in this country. UKIP must not be squeamish about it. People like Douglas Carswell wrote in the Times last year we should not make immigration synonymous with EU membership. I thought, ‘Crikey, I have spent 10 years trying to do that very thing’.”
Of course this comes mere days after it was widely reported (and yet to be refuted) that it was Douglas Carswell who blocked attempts to give Nigel Farage a knighthood. This action alone is enough for me to raise my bottle of coke to Carswell in appreciation. Not that Farage will be pissed off by that of course. No, not at all…
The future of the UK Independence Party is a big question considering they’ve seemingly achieved their goal. They say they have other policies but it was always a one-issue party. They wanted to pull the UK out of the EU and they look set to do just that. Where they go from here is a question that politicos have long been pondering. Farage wants it to become even more radical. He has seen what is going on in America and believes there is a future for a party who want to pursue an extreme agenda. Carswell has always thought that by sitting just to the right of the Tories they could become less toxic and more electable. Something old Nige fiercely disagrees with.
Yet if you sit back and look at UKIP’s electoral success in the House of Commons, it boils down to two people winning by-elections as incumbents having defected and only one of them was able to just hold on in the 2015 General Election (with a greatly reduced majority). They have had no history of success and even in by-elections at the height of UKIP’s public hype they failed where they didn’t have a Tory incumbent defending his seat. In Stoke they had every opportunity to win but they decided to field a terrible candidate (who happens to be their own leader) whose campaign put people right off both him and the party.
If we had Proportional Representation then Farage’s radical anti-everything agenda could see a swathe of UKIP MPs but we have a FPTP system in place and there just isn’t the amount of people in a concentrated area to ever see a truly radical right-wing party make any sort of significant impact in a General Election. To be successful going forward they need to drag themselves towards the Tories and essentially become a hard line Tory party. That could bring in many more voters. Yet all Farage wants to do is keep doubling down on being increasingly right-wing.
From where I sit it looks like Nigel Farage wants to be the main man yet again. Luckily for him the media fawn over him so he’s able to get whatever exposure he wants. He misses the limelight and knows that with Douglas Carswell in the fray, he’ll never completely be the boss. If he moves him out of the way then he can once more ascend to the throne and with Donald Trump now in the White House, who knows what influence that can bring?
This internal row is a rare bright light in the cloudy overcast world that we all currently live in. The future of UKIP is just as cloudy and overcast as the world we all inhabit, the sad truth though for me at least is their legacy is likely to live on far beyond this row and far beyond whenever UKIP either becomes a political irrelevance or disbands.
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.
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).
That is how I describe modern day politics all over the world. Can it be just eight years since a black man was first elected as the leader of the free world? That win was born out due to both hope and disappointment in the other choice. A landslide victory in a two-horse race doesn’t solely come down to people liking you, but in people liking the alternative less. We are seeing the same thing happen in the States now but instead of two politicians going at it, an angry man is fanning the flames of hate in an attempt to gain power and whether he’s ultimately successful or not, the fact that he’s in the race in the first place says everything.
Here in the UK we don’t have a two-party system but the truth is people are becoming radicalised and instead of progress they want change. People who want change think that the game is fundamentally wrong and the only way to change it is by doing a complete u-turn. For generations the major party closest to the political centre has won because that is where the majority of the voters lie and here’s the kicker, they still do but the activist bases are increasingly moving further and further apart.
Jeremy Corbyn has essentially won the soul of the Labour Party by tapping into this base of people who think the game needs to be changed. The game is rigged against them they think and he’s the man who speaks up for them. They are supercharged and energised to fight for him and for what he believes in. They do not believe he can do anything wrong and wherever he’s erred according to the media, it is the medias fault for highlighting it. By vetting him on his actions it proves that they have bias against him so goes the logic. It just dumbfounds me.
The people in Labour should rally behind him and back him. If they don’t like him as leader then they should get out. Yet when it is pointed out that he himself rebelled against his previous leaders more than any other Labour MP during the 1997-2010 Labour government, it is stated that he is principled and fighting for what he believes in. You can’t have it both ways yet many believe that you can. You can call Jeremy principled for standing up for what he thought was right under a previous leader because he is just one man but when lots of people disagree then that is just plain wrong. You have to laugh.
As a sidebar anecdote, as many of you know who read this I am hilariously unattractive and one of the worst human beings on the planet in terms of potentially forming a relationship with (true story) but I potter around on dating websites from time to time and on around a third of the profiles I click on on OkCupid, they’ll be some form of line saying something like ‘don’t message me if you are a Tory or ever voted for them’ or ‘Tories are evil’ something along those lines.
Now I’ve never voted Tory nor ever considered voting for them but if I found an amazing woman who had voted Tory or even still did, would that automatically mean that I wouldn’t want to date them? Hell no. That type of shallow shit is furthering the ‘us’ and ‘them’ narrative that I fear is taking over many people’s thought process.
This goes to another issue that I think has helped causes this division between people. The social media era. I got involved in a Facebook thread last week (which I try not to do because they are a distraction from the important things in my life – MasterChef Australia) but one thing I brought up that people disagreed with was that in this social media, we can talk to many more people than we would before it and we tend to talk to people who broadly agree with us. People who we find we disagree with regularly we tend to block or disconnect with. We don’t like to have our opinions questions, we prefer to have them confirmed.
I firmly believe that if you surround yourself with people who think like you then you are bound to become more cock-sure that you are correct. Most of us will have friends on Facebook from school who say voted radically different to us in the EU Referendum. We’ll have been shocked by it and wonder where they went wrong. Back in the day when you went to school with them you won’t have cared that they had differing political views than you. Some won’t care now. Yet I bet you a significant number of people who are extremely politically motivated will resassess those friendships with those who thought differently to them on such a passionate issue.
As people we want to be right and if we are to be right then those who disagree with us must be wrong.
The problem with that sentence is of course that if we are to believe that then we have to believe that everything is a black and white issue. Right and wrong. In reality that is very rarely the case in any form of life except facts. An opinion can never be wholly right or wholly wrong. The thing is the ore we surround ourselves with people with the same opinions, the easier we’ll see our opinions as facts and fall into groupthink.
Across the world we are seeing radical people and voices rising us because they feel emboldened by having their views re-enforced by others on social media. It is more accepted to have a strong view that goes against conventional wisdom because you can easily find many more with the same view. Donald Trump is pretty clearly a misogynist and a racist. Put those two things together and you can’t see how he’d ever gain political traction but yet here he is. He has gained traction because he is exploiting those fears that the Leave campaign exploited in the EU Referendum. Emotional fears based not on facts but on opinion. With more and more people being able to share opinions, the groupthink net widens and voila, here we are.
In the Democratic nomination process Bernie Sanders would likely have won had he not had such a slow start. Had he been able to gain traction say two-three months earlier or at least put together a real plan that he’d run a year or two before he did then he likely wins. It is because party members want it all. They don’t want compromise. They want to be 100% right.
Bernie of course also did very well with independents because he appealed to those who thought with ideals instead of electability. The middle ground is no longer a safe place politically (bugger) because you are right or you are wrong. Had the Republicans nominated John Kasich against Hillary Clinton then Kasich would have likely won in a landslide. He was the candidate that people wouldn’t have to hold their nose for, would have appealed to the broad independent base and even Reagan Democrats. He was a slam dunk winner but remember, political leaders aren’t voted for by the electorate but by the membership.
That is what Labour here in the UK have to understand. Yes Corbyn has won two internal elections of Labour members but does that automatically translate into a wider electoral success? No it does not. If there was a vote within my own family as to who the person was who’d make the best next England manager, I would win in a landslide. If I open up that vote to include non-Monnery candidates then I think I might struggle. That is of course an extremely analogy but winning an internal vote amongst people who are energised by you does not equate to winning over the larger electorate who are deeply sceptical.
Yet if you speak to a Corbyn (or a Trump) supporter you’ll often make them saying very similar things. The media is out to get them. Their man is right and everyone else is oh so wrong. They don’t see nuance and they don’t question their leader on any level. The extremes of politics say exactly the same thing regarding their electability, they have exactly the same excuses when they get negative press and they both not only worship their leaders but also believe anyone who disagrees is not only wrong but also a bad person who they don’t want to associate with.
The extreme left and extreme right aren’t very different when it comes down to it. They both want someone to blame and someone to hold up as the gold standard. The more politics (and indeed society) goes down the route of ‘us’ and ‘them’ the more the human race goes back to a period I had hoped was in our past. I wrote a few months back that the older I get the more I realise that life is less black and white than I thought when I was younger. I fear that for many the opposite is true and that is not good for anybody.
Lets not beat around the bush. I am a Nick Clegg guy. A total Nick Clegg guy. I have always been a Liberal Democrat voter but Nick is the reason why I’m a card carrying member. Nothing against any leader before or since but there was something extremely special about Nick Clegg. He could’ve been a great leader of this country but instead it’ll be a generation before people truly understand what they’ve missed out on by essentially nailing him to the cross based mainly on the tuition fees situation and of course some voters believing that working with the Tories in any capacity was treachery.
In the past week we’ve seen much upheaval in the political sphere. A Labour Party held at gunpoint by a leader who has an army of followers but no way to ever win a war at a wider level and a Conservative Party where the big beast expected to be Prime Minister has bottled it after one of the most egregious pieces of back stabbing we’ve seen in modern political history by one of the nastiest and slimiest MPs around.
Amongst all that the Lib Dems have seen a surge in new members, over 12,000 in the past week at last count and having already spoken to a few around where I live in Southend, I was surprised (and very pleased) that none of them so far have had a bad word to say about Nick Clegg. Quite the opposite in fact. This gives me the sense that some of the stigma surrounding the party is starting to evaporate and that opens up big opportunities for the party.
I don’t think its exactly breaking news that I’m sceptical about our leader, not in his convictions, I think on that issue he ticks the boxes but in terms of being at ease in the spotlight and being a natural orator then I think there are still questions to answer. Yet his speech at Conference in 2015 was fast rate, it was passionate, it was heartfelt and it gave hope. The big question now is whether he can make enough waves to get the media attention when the party are now arguably the fifth most important in the United Kingdom political sphere behind the big beasts, UKIP and the SNP.
What the past week has shown though is the Lib Dems now clearly stand for something. They have that headline sign around their neck. The Lib Dems are very much Pro-EU. This means they are pro international business, they are pro the City of London being the heart of the world’s financial sector, they are pro small business. They are pro the freedom of movement of people across the EU, they are pro having an open and tolerant multicultural society.
It is something I think many Lib Dems have struggled with in recent years, telling people via canvassing or leafleting exactly what the party stand for. Did they stand for keeping the Tories in check (which I still think they did very well considering the electoral math against them) or did they stand for just local issues and try to ignore the national scene. The sad truth is national swings will often effect local races when they shouldn’t so I’m always been a proponent of talking about national issues as well as local ones, this isn’t something that has been widely shared amongst some that I know.
Still now is an opportunity for people to join or rejoin the party and the softening of the distrust and dislike of the party by the voters. This isn’t going to change overnight but the Lib Dems now sit at the heart of the centre-left on the ideological spectrum, a position not too far away from where Tony Blair won office in three consecutive landslides from 1997 to 2005.
The Labour Party are in complete disarray, their leader is so far left that they are now unelectable and he can’t even command his own party. Either he goes or his party splits and should that happen and a split Labour Party alliance or amalgamation with the Lib Dems and suddenly the centre-left once more has a party at the heart of it. This isn’t beyond the realm of possibility and in this era of political uncertainty, things move fast and flexibility will be key but the signs are everything is in play.
Over in the blue camp, they are undergoing a leadership contest where it is assumed that a pretty hard-lined right-winger in Theresa May is set to win. Should that come to fruition then she will drag the party away from the centre ground where David Cameron has cleverly put it to win a surprise second term at Prime Minister. With the Tories potentially abandoning the centre, Labour way out left and UKIP way out right, imagine a progressive party sitting in that centre-left spot consisting of non Corbynista Labour and the Lib Dems. Has some real potential no?
Still that is a long way off, for now the Liberal Democrats now have a clear identity. They know who they are and can mix the national scene with local politics once again. The Lib Dems aren’t just Tory-lite or Tory-curbers, they have their own clear electoral platform. Whether they take this opportunity, well we’ll find out in time but as it stands they are the only party in England who firmly want to stay in the EU and aren’t placed on either extreme flank of political ideology.
If you believe in this country being part of the world and not a backwater island, want the country to be a player on the world stage, want to keep down racism and xenophobia and hopefully eradicate it altogether, want to be part of an all-inclusive multicultural society and want the next generation to have the opportunities that we had then at this moment there is one clear political party for you. I’m not saying the Lib Dems are the greatest things since Cherry Bakewells (we’re not) but we do believe in looking forward and not backwards and know exactly what direction we want to take the country in and that isn’t something either the red or blue teams can say at this juncture.