Friday, 27 August 2010

The Manhattan tolerance test...

Excellent blog on the Intependent's website today:

Have to say I couldn't agree more.  The beliefs that the 'West' are so keen to defend are tolerance and freedom.  Be this freedom of religion, sexuality, speech, etc, whilst being tolerant of others' choices.  

I am saddened by the reaction regarding the community centre in New York.  I think that the real force on show here is fear, probably fear of what they don't understand.  Those campaigning against the centre probably don't see a difference between those people who flew planes into the World Trade Centre and those who are building the centre, however the only comparison is what they call their religion.  
I was involved in a 'discussion' with someone on the internet regarding this.  She was adamant that the 'mosque' shouldn't be built.  I asked her why it was okay for a strip club to be near the site but not okay for a Muslim community centre.  I think her response of "strippers didn't fly a plane into the World Trade Centre" was very telling.  The people who are building this centre and those who will use it also didn't fly a plane into the World trade centre!  

I am afraid that the less tolerance we show the worse the situation will get.  Hatred only breads hatred and unless we can show the Muslim world that we don't think that they are all terrorists and they are welcome in our communities it will only get easier for the small number of extremists to attract people to their cause.

But Russell Razzaqu says it better than me!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Foreign Policy... lets just piss everyone off...

The one thing that is really annoying me about Cameron is his and the Tories foreign policy.  Even if we forget the gaff in the US (where he claimed Britain is the junior partner and always has been, even in WWII in 1940 - when the US didn't join in until after Pearl Harbor!) he is still making a complete hash of everything.  

Lets take the Hippocratic policies with India as the main example.  What the Tories are basically saying to them is that we really want you to trade with us, particularly buying our goods/using our services, however we really don't want you in our country.  The arbitrary immigration cap was noticed by India, who have a right to be angered by it, as they are one of the sets of people who are most likely to come to the UK, work hard and add to our society.  It just whiffs of the old colonial masters trying to dictate to them how things should be again.

He then decides to butter them up by implying that their rivals Pakistan actively support terrorism, just before Pakistani delegates are due to the UK, well done Dave, you're really going about getting the region to like you.  Now what you really want to do is go and stir things up a bit more... I know why don't you say that Iran already has nuclear weapons... wait, oh you didn't need my advice!

The thing that angered me most in the general election campaign was the immigration row.  I think of myself as a liberal person, and as such hated all of the ideas which I heard.  I believe that as long as people are willing to speak our language and work in our country they should be welcome, I hope to work abroad one day and would not want some arbitrary restriction preventing me from doing so.  As long as they integrate into our society then they enrich it.  My policy would be to have a basic English test and English history test (in their own language) before they enter, which would provide them with a 6 month visa.  After the three months they should report to a local office showing proof of work, in which case they would have an extension of 6 more months.  After this time they would take a more advanced English speaking and writing test and providing they had work or had been in employment for most of their time in the UK offer them a 2 year visa, after which they could apply for residency (or further visas).  But this obviously wouldn't appease the tabloids.

The only decent policy I heard in the election campaign was the Lib Dem's amnesty policy, however, by then making it harder to get in this would have created more illegal immigration as people would have thought they'd only have to hide for 10 years.  I am sad to see Liberals supporting the arbitrary cap they opposed in the election although I am realistic enough to know that you don't get much your own way as the junior partner in a coalition government.

New season, new hope?

So there I was, thinking I'd lost most of my interest for football, then I decided (like I do every season) to predict the Premier League table.  Now I find myself actually excited...  I have a feeling this will be rediculously close.  

Title Race
I started by thinking that Liverpool will actually stand a really good chance now they have a decent manager, plus Cole will be an excellent signing, if they could just add one more decent midfielder and possibly another defender they will be a real force, as such I was genuinly considering them... which is why I've put them 5th.  Lets face it, you can't rule out United, and Chelski have this knack of not dropping points.  Arsenal are the best footballing side in the league and if they add a goal keeper could be frightening now they have a decent forward and another defender.  Plus, the amount of money €ity have spent means they have the best squad even though they don't have the best team.

European Places
Those five teams wont be the only ones battling it out for the top 4 either.  I think O'Neil is a big loss for Villa, he's constantly had them over performing.  If they can't replace Milner (assuming he does leave) then I see them falling behind last year.  Spurs will have too much to focus on with the Champions League, I haven't really seen them bring in anyone who'd make the difference to turn them from a decent side to a team regularly pushing for Champions League football.  The team however who I feel have had the best summer transfer period is Everton.  Granted they haven't bought anyone of note (bar a league 1 striker who was even struggling there at the end of the season), however they haven't lost anyone.  They had the third best record in the second half of last year after, behind only United and Chelski.  I fancy they could really pressure those bigger teams for 4th place this year.

Relegation Battle
This was almost impossible.  I looked at it and saw 19 teams I expect to stay up.  Though last year when making an assessment before the start of the Championship season I said that 21 teams could feasibly go up, one of those I didn't include was Blackpool, so I'm not even sure they'll go down.  Can see this going right to the wire.  So here goes, my league table:

1.  Manchester Utd
2. Arsenal
3. Chelsea
4. Manchester €ity
5. Liverpool
6. Everton
7. Tottenham Hotspur
8. Aston Villa
9. Stoke City
10. Birmingham City
11. Sunderland
12. Fulham
13. Bolton
14. Blackburn
15. Wolverhampton Wanderers
16. Newcastle United
17. West Ham United
18. West Brom
19. Wigan
20. Blackpool

I did surprisingly well last year actually, I had Chelsea winning the league, Liverpool dropping from the top 4 and Birmingham safely mid table, so lets see how this years goes!

Revival Begins? England Expects? Will the media ever learn?

So England played their first game since the "dreadful" World Cup.  In my opinion there is only one thing you can blame for how terrible this was, the media.  They build up players and then lambaste them the first chance that they get all to sell a few more papers.  They place ridiculous expectations on the players and then are surprised when these expectations aren't reached.  

Yes it was a below par performance.  A par performance would have been the quarter finals.  We are normally ranked between 7th and 11th in the world, which suggests we should be making the last 16 or the quarters.  You wouldn't expect the 7th seed to win Wimbledon would you? We were beaten only by Germany, who are ranked above us, basically we don't have the players to win!  Sven reached 3 quarters, which for me is a good performance, yet still his reign is constantly criticized, despite the fact we were unlucky not to beat Portugal, twice going down on penalties and having a perfectly good goal ruled out and once we were knocked out by Brazil.  Hardly shameful.

They were at it again for this friendly.  Building it up as the start of a great comeback which will see the kids lead us into a new era of domination.  'England expects'? Fuck off, no they don't, or at least they shouldn't!  The media builds up players to be better than they are.  The BBC had a photo piece on Jack Wiltshire as if he was the new Messi and single handily going to turn our fortunes around.  He looks a good players - I think he's at the right club to progress, but he may come under increasing pressure, just look what that's done to our other stars, Michael Owen... Joe Cole... Wayne Rooney... all in recent years have faded away.  Wayne looks a shadow of himself in an England jersey now.  Fortunately he will not be under the same ridiculous pressure at club level which may help him pick up form.

The media also crucify players for any one mistake (unless they are players loved by the media).  Just look at Dawson on Wednesday night, he made one slip and the ITV commentary team would not drop it, making hardly any mention to the fact he made it back and hooked it off the line (irrespective of the goal wrongly counting).  Always looking for a scapegoat.

That's not to say the players/manager couldn't do with some changes.  Why Capello resorted back to 4-4-2 after half time I don't know, nor why he persists on playing both Gerrard and Lampard.  It was telling that Gerrard's two goals came when Frank wasn't on the pitch, both from positions I'd have expected to see Frank in.  Also, Gareth Barry is not an international class holding midfielder, why people cannot see this I don't know.  I biggest miss at the World Cup (apart from Rooney who wasn't there) was Hargreaves, it is a shame that his injury problems have ruined what was a promising career.  Hopefully Huddlestone/Rodwell will improve enough to make themselves genuine possibilities.  Glen Johnson still hasn't learned to defend and Terry's personal problems seem to have had a huge impact on him in the last 6 months.

There were a few positives from Wednesday.  Hart looked every bit the International, Johnson showed flashes of quality and Young looked really good.  Walcott was also promising, but he really needs to kick on this season, develop his final ball.  Phil Jagielka also looked a lot better than anyone of those who played in the World Cup.  For what it's worth this would be my team for the next game (fitness and playing for their side depending):

 -------------- Hart --------------
Johnson - Cahill - Jagielka - Cole
 --------- Huddlestone -----------
 ------ Milner - Gerrard ----------
 Johnson ------------------Young
 ----------- Rooney  ----------- 

Walcott, Dawson, Bent, Carson,Wiltshire, Zamora, Gibbs on the bench.

Now, hopefully this'll be the last time I feel the need to blog about England for a while!